New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1883. First Edition. Octavo (24 cm.) 2 volumes, xix, 481 pp; xiii, 611 pp. First Edition. Union-Army Blue cloth boards with two sets of horizontal gold banding framing black lettered title on front boards and blind-stamped horizontal banding on rear boards. Decorative gold banding to head and foot of spine with titles in gold lettering. General shelfwear to both volumes. Volume One with tear to cloth at spine with front board split but not detached and frontispiece and title page detached but present. Volume Two with decorative gold banding loose but still intact. Some mild soiling to both volumes but set is unusually bright and vibrant and despite some frailty, shelf sturdy. Very Good. Item #77
"At last we have a historian, not merely a Negro historian, but a man who, judged by his merits alone, has written a splendid narrative" - W.E.B. Du Boise
Soldier, journalist, minister, historian, and inveterate overachiever, George Washington Williams was also the first African American elected to the Ohio legislature. His monumental achievement, "History of the Negro Race in America", has been described as the first true history of the African American people.
Like many other famous low-born Americans of his time, Williams had ambitions that eclipsed his original status. His mind was sharp, his life was wild and complicated and his travels extensive. Born in 1849 in Bedford, Pennsylvania, to mixed-race parents, blue-eyed and dashing George Washington Williams received very little formal education. A veteran of the Union Army, the Mexican Republican Army and the Kansas Calvary, Williams, who was mostly self-taught, nonetheless graduated from Newton Theological Institution after his military career. He spent time as a pastor with the African American Baptist Church in Cincinnati, he became the first Black columnist for a white newspaper, the Cincinnati Commercial Appeal. He then began his political career, taking seat in the Ohio legislature, and afterwards being appointed Minister to Haiti and traveling to Africa as a journalist. All during this, Williams was doing his research and writing his history but he, himself, remained elusive to history. As a result, Williams' "History of the Negro Race" contains much of his large and lusty personality, his energy and his flair. His writings were nearly forgotten until another African American historian, John Hope Franklin, chased his memory around the globe, became his biographer and resuscitated both the man and his epic work.