Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) "The slave's dream" in Poems on slavery: autograph manuscript, ca. 1842.
Longfellow was one of several notable abolitionist poets in the Saturday Club. It was his close friend Charles Sumner who had urged him to compose his Poems on Slavery, published as "Tract No. 1" by the New England Anti-Slavery Tract Association in 1843. "The Slave's Dream" tells the story of a slave who, while working in the field, collapses from heat and fatigue. In his dying moments, he dreams of his home along the Niger River, contrasting the beauty of Africa with the blight of American slavery. As he dies, the slave realizes that he is finally free, suggesting that death is preferable to slavery.
MS Am 1340 (76) – Trustees of the Longfellow House Trust, 1976.