Martin Robison Delany (American National Biography)


Paul A. Cimbala, "Delany, Martin Robison," American National Biography Online, February 2000,

During the late 1840s [Delany] was co-editor of Frederick Douglass's North Star and traveled as an abolitionist lecturer. His call for black economic self-determination and his critique of the black community's religiosity as an obstacle to achieving that end placed him among the most radical of abolitionists. In 1852 he published his argument for emigration as a means by which black Americans could break free of the psychological and physical domination of whites in The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, which was well received by prominent black leaders but attacked by the white abolitionist press.

In 1856 Delany moved to Chatham, Ontario, where a significant number of blacks had settled and where he expected to find more support for his emigrationist views. There he espoused a Pan-African philosophy that joined the destiny of American blacks with those of Africans and West Indians. In 1859 he explored the Niger Valley in West Africa, where he hoped to establish a settlement to grow cotton with free labor in direct competition with the slave South. He described the region and its prospects in his Official Report of the Niger Valley Exploring Party (1861). Although he was warmly received in Great Britain, where he lectured to publicize his venture, his African settlement failed to materialize.
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