Martin R. Delany

A Documentary Reader

Edited by Robert S. Levine

520 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5431-0
    Published: February 2003
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6256-8
    Published: November 2003
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7433-7
    Published: November 2003

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit
Martin R. Delany (1812-85) has been called the "Father of Black Nationalism," but his extraordinary career also encompassed the roles of abolitionist, physician, editor, explorer, politician, army officer, novelist, and political theorist. Despite his enormous influence in the nineteenth century, and his continuing influence on black nationalist thought in the twentieth century, Delany has remained a relatively obscure figure in U.S. culture, generally portrayed as a radical separatist at odds with the more integrationist Frederick Douglass.

This pioneering documentary collection offers readers a chance to discover, or rediscover, Delany in all his complexity. Through nearly 100 documents--approximately two-thirds of which have not been reprinted since their initial nineteenth-century publications--it traces the full sweep of his fascinating career. Included are selections from Delany's early journalism, his emigrationist writings of the 1850s, his 1859-62 novel, Blake (one of the first African American novels published in the United States), and his later writings on Reconstruction. Incisive and shrewd, angry and witty, Delany's words influenced key nineteenth-century debates on race and nation, addressing issues that remain pressing in our own time.

About the Author

Robert S. Levine is professor of English and director of graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. His books include Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, and the Politics of Representative Identity.
For more information about Robert S. Levine, visit the Author Page.


"One of the most important contributions to African American literary and intellectual history of the past decade. . . . An impressive scholarly performance. . . . Essential reading for anyone interested in American literary, political, or social history."--Resources for American Literary Study

"Editor Levine's anthology provides a rich picture of the life and career of an extraordinary man. Written in Delaney's words, it collectively serves as a stirring, personal history of the tumultuous civil rights movement, from slavery to the beginnings of Jim Crow."--Charleston Post and Courier

"Rich in its implications for the present and future, this superb gathering of source material should be of particular value to students of American culture, the African diaspora, and American history. An indispensable work that should quickly take its place among the foremost documentaries of our time."--Sterling Stuckey, University of California, Riverside

"In this richly diverse but also in-depth collection, Robert Levine allows Martin R. Delany to reveal himself to us in all his confrontational, confounding complexity. Delany's writings, in turn, provide provocative and informative details about ways in which nineteenth-century African Americans argued and acted to define themselves in the United States and in the African diaspora. Levine's judicious selections and erudite annotations provide just the right accompaniment to Delany's strong and vibrant voice."--Frances Smith Foster, Emory University