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Jupiter Hammon

1711–1806

Jupiter Hammon was the first African American poet to be published in the United States. He was born into slavery to Henry Lloyd in Lloyd Harbor, New York, on October 17, 1711. The Lloyd family encouraged Hammon to attend school, where he learned to read and write, and he went on to work alongside Henry Lloyd as a bookkeeper and negotiator for the family’s business. In his early years, Hammon was heavily influenced by the Great Awakening, a major religious revival of the time, and became a devout Christian.

Hammon published his first poem, “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen’s Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760,” as a broadside in 1761. Eighteen years passed before the publication of his second work, “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley.” In this poem, Hammon addresses a series of quatrains with accompanying Bible verses to Wheatley, the most prominent African American poet of the time. In 1782 Hammon published “A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death.”

After Henry Lloyd died in 1763, Hammon moved to Connecticut with Lloyd’s son, Joseph. There, he became a leader in the African American community and attended abolitionist and Revolutionary War societies. At the inaugural meeting of the Spartan Project of the African Society of New York City in September of 1786, Hammon delivered his most famous sermon, “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York.” His writing was reprinted by several abolitionist societies, including the New York Quakers and the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

Hammon is widely considered one of the founders of the early American and African American writing traditions. His date of death is unknown, although he is believed to have died sometime around 1806, having been enslaved his entire life. He is likely buried in an unmarked grave on what was once the Lloyd property and is now Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve in Long Island, New York.

By This Poet

3

An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries

Salvation comes by Christ alone,
   The only Son of God;
Redemption now to every one,
   That love his holy Word.

Dear Jesus, we would fly to Thee,
   And leave off every Sin,
Thy tender Mercy well agree;
   Salvation from our King. 

Salvation comes now from the Lord,
   Our victorious King.
His holy Name be well ador'd,
   Salvation surely bring.

Dear Jesus, give thy Spirit now, 
   Thy Grace to every Nation,
That han't the Lord to whom we bow,
   The Author of Salvation.

Dear Jesus, unto Thee we cry,
   Give us the Preparation;
Turn not away thy tender Eye;
   We seek thy true Salvation.

Salvation comes from God we know,
   The true and only One;
It's well agreed and certain true,
   He gave his only Son.

Lord, hear our penetential Cry:
   Salvation from above;
It is the Lord that doth supply,
   With his Redeeming Love.

Dear Jesus, by thy precious Blood,
   The World Redemption have:
Salvation now comes from the Lord,
   He being thy captive slave.

Dear Jesus, let the Nations cry,
   And all the People say,
Salvation comes from Christ on high,
   Haste on Tribunal Day.

We cry as Sinners to the Lord,
   Salvation to obtain; 
It is firmly fixed, his holy Word,
   Ye shall not cry in vain.

Dear Jesus, unto Thee we cry,
   And make our Lamentation:
O let our Prayers ascend on high;
   We felt thy Salvation.

Lord, turn our dark benighted Souls;
   Give us a true Motion,
And let the Hearts of all the World,
   Make Christ their Salvation.

Ten Thousand Angels cry to Thee,
   Yea, louder than the Ocean.
Thou art the Lord, we plainly see;
   Thou art the true Salvation.

Now is the Day, excepted Time;
   The Day of the Salvation;
Increase your Faith, do not repine:
   Awake ye, every Nation.

Lord, unto whom now shall we go,
   Or seek a safe abode?
Thou has the Word Salvation Too,
   The only Son of God.

Ho! every one that hunger hath,
   Or pineth after me,
Salvation be thy leading Staff,
   To set the Sinner free.

Dear Jesus, unto Thee we fly;
   Depart, depart from Sin,
Salvation doth at length supply,
   The Glory of our King.

Come, ye Blessed of the Lord,
   Salvation greatly given;
O turn your Hearts, accept the Word,
   Your Souls are fit for Heaven. 

Dear Jesus, we now turn to Thee,
   Salvation to obtain;
Our Hearts and Souls do meet again,
   To magnify thy Name.

Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove,
   The Object of our Care;
Salvation doth increase our Love;
   Our Hearts hath felt they fear. 

Now Glory be to God on High, 
   Salvation high and low;
And thus the Soul on Christ rely,
   To Heaven surely go.

Come, Blessed Jesus, Heavenly Dove,
   Accept Repentance here;
Salvation give, with tender Love;
   Let us with Angels share.  Finis.

A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death

                           I
O Ye young and thoughtless youth, 
     Come seek the living God,
The scriptures are a sacred truth,
     Ye must believe the word.
				                Eccle. xii. 1.

                             II
Tis God alone can make you wisfe, 
     His wisdom's from above,
He fills the soul with sweet supplies
     By his redeeming love.
				                Prov. iv. 7.

                        III
Remember youth the time is short,
     Improve the present day
And pray that God may guide your thoughts,
     and teach your lips to pray. 
				                Psalm xxx. 9.

                        IV
To pray unto the most high God,
     and beg restraining grace,
Then by the power of his word
     You'l see the Saviour's face.

                        V
Little children they may die,
     Turn to their native dust,
Their souls shall leap beyond the skies,
     And live among the just.

                        VI
Like little worms they turn and crawl,
     and gasp for every breath,
The blessed Jesus sends his call,
     and takes them to his rest.

                        VII
Thus the youth are born to die,
     The time is hastening on,
The Blessed Jesus rends the sky,
     and makes his power known.
				                Psalm ciii. 15.

                        VIII
Then ye shall hear the angels sing
     The trumpet give a sound,
Glory, glory to our King,
     The Saviour's coming down.
				                Matth. xxvi. 64.

                        IX
Start ye saints from dusty beds,
     and hear a Saviour call,
Twas Jesus Christ that died and bled,
     and thus preserv'd thy soul.

                        X
This the portion of the just,
     Who lov'd to serve the Lord,
Their bodies starting from the dust,
     Shall rest upon their God.

                        XI
They shall join that holy word,
     That angels constant sing,
Glory, glory to the Lord,
     Hallelujahs to our King.

                        XII
Thus the Saviour will appear,
     With guards of heavenly host,
Those blessed Saints, shall then declare,
     Tis Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
				                Rev. i. 7, 8.

                        XIII
Then shall ye hear the trumpet sound,
     The graves give up their dead,
Those blessed saints shall quick awake,
     and leave their dusty beds.
				                Matth. xxvii. 51, 52.

                        XIV
Then shall you hear the trumpet sound,
     and rend the native sky,
Those bodies starting from the ground,
     In the twinkling of an eye.
				                I Cor. xv. 51, 52, 53, 54.

                        XV
There to sing the praise of God,
     and join the angelic train,
And by the power of his word,
     Unite together again.

                        XVI
Where angels stand for to admit
     Their souls at the first word,
Cast sceptres down at Jesus feet
     Crying holy holy Lord.

                        XVII
Now glory be unto our God
     all praise be justly given,
Ye humble souls that love the Lord
     Come seek the joys of Heaven.

An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley

I
O come you pious youth! adore
   The wisdom of thy God,
In bringing thee from distant shore,
   To learn His holy word.

II
Thou mightst been left behind
   Amidst a dark abode;
God's tender mercy still combin'd
   Thou hast the holy word.

III
Fair wisdom's ways are paths of peace,
   And they that walk therein,
Shall reap the joys that never cease
   And Christ shall be their king.

IV
God's tender mercy brought thee here;
   Tost o'er the raging main;
In Christian faith thou hast a share,
   Worth all the gold of Spain.

V
While thousands tossed by the sea,
   And others settled down,
God's tender mercy set thee free,
   From dangers that come down.

VI
That thou a pattern still might be,
   To youth of Boston town,
The blessed Jesus set thee free,
   From every sinful wound.

VII
The blessed Jesus, who came down,
   Unvail'd his sacred face,
To cleanse the soul of every wound,
   And give repenting grace.

VIII
That we poor sinners may obtain
   The pardon of our sin;
Dear blessed Jesus now constrain
   And bring us flocking in.

IX
Come you, Phillis, now aspire,
   And seek the living God,
So step by step thou mayst go higher,
   Till perfect in the word.

X
While thousands mov'd to distant shore,
   And others left behind,
The blessed Jesus still adore,
   Implant this in thy mind.

XI
Thou hast left the heathen shore;
   Thro' mercy of the Lord,
Among the heathen live no more,
   Come magnify thy God.

XII
I pray the living God may be,
   The shepherd of thy soul;
His tender mercies still are free,
   His mysteries to unfold.

XIII
Thou, Phillis, when thou hunger hast,
   Or pantest for thy God;
Jesus Christ is thy relief,
   Thou hast the holy word.

XIV
The bounteous mercies of the Lord
   Are hid beyond the sky,
And holy souls that love His word,
   Shall taste them when they die.

XV
These bounteous mercies are from God,
   The merits of His Son;
The humble soul that loves his word,
   He chooses for His own.

XVI
Come, dear Phillis, be advis'd
   To drink Samaria's flood,
There's nothing that shall suffice
   But Christ's redeeming blood.

XVII
While thousands muse with earthly toys;
   and range about the street;
Dear Phillis, seek for heaven's joys,
   Where we do hope to meet.

XVIII
When God shall send his summons down
   And number saints together
Blest angels chant (Triumphant sound)
   Come live with me forever.

XIX
The humble soul shall fly to God,
   And leave the things of time.
Stand forth as 'twere at the first word,
   To taste things more divine.

XX
Behold! the soul shall waft away,
   Whene'er we come to die,
And leave its cottage made of clay,
   In twinkling of an eye.

XXI
Now glory be to the Most High,
   United praises given
By all on earth, incessantly,
   And all the hosts of heav'n.