Response to Jupiter Hammon

The fact that Jupiter Hammon’s works were actually published back in that time period in which African Americans were considered property is in itself a reflection of the nature and intelligence of Hammon.  To be able to reach out to an audience of white bigots and have a voice is quite an accomplishment. The way he writes shows he was a man of great intelligence which was prohibited for slaves during those times.  From the photographs that we have seen, it can also be concluded that he also had good hand writing skills which was also very rare for an African American during that time.

It seems Jupiter Hammon was a religious man and involved religion in many of his works, if not all his known works, in some way. He also speaks very outwardly of slavery. This is evident in his work, “An Evening Thought”. It seems that Hammon is pleading to the heavens for salvation and liberation from the oppression of slavery. “Salvation comes from God we know, The true and only one: It’s well agreed and certain true, He gave his only Son.” Here Hammon doesn’t say that salvation was reserved for only the white people, but that God gave his only Son for the benefit of all. Through this inference, we can ascertain that Hammon wanted slaves to eventually be viewed as equals to white people.  This may be a stretch, but it is merely an observation.

Jupiter Hammon also reached out to other slave writers like himself such as Phyllis Wheatley. He writes in response to her writing so that they may have a conversation in which Hammon reassures her through his writing. “Though mightst be left behind, Amidst a dark abode; God’s tender mercy still combin’d, Though hast the holy word.” Here Hammon reassures Wheatley that she has what it takes to be an influential writer of her time. He assumes a fatherly figure to her and motivates her to keep writing. He says that the Lord has given to her the gift of writing so that a vast audience may listen. He motivates her by saying, “Come you, Phyllis, now aspire, And seek the living God, so step by step though mayst go higher, Till perfect int the word.” He means to tell her to keep writing and perfecting her craft, putting herself in the public eye so that a larger audience would be able to acknowledge her.

The influence Jupiter Hammon has, has transcended through time and he unknowingly set forth the path for the liberation of slaves and the destruction of slavery.  If it were not for slaves like Jupiter Hammon, who dared speak out against oppression, then many minorities would not be able to enjoy the liberties we do today. Hammon was a pioneer and a trailblazer who didn’t conquer the world with sword not pistol. He set forth in motion a movement with simply a pen. Showing that he could be equal to whites and having a voice through publication was a major accomplishment.

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