America’s First Black Poet: Jupiter Hammon of Long Island

Colleges, schools, libraries and military bases in the US and abroad have been searching for ways to celebrate notable persons of color and to provide positive programs to promote racial harmony in our communities. “America’s First Black Poet; Jupiter Hammon of Long Island,” published by Outskirts Press in 2020, includes his poems, prose pieces and new information about Jupiter Hammon’s life, including photos of the homes where Hammon lived. While Hammon is the first black poet to publish his own verse, this book also includes recognition of Phillis Wheatley as the first female black poet to publish her own works. It includes “Hammon’s Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley,” both his poem and a four part Gospel Choir arrangement available for use. This book informs readers about what life was like in the 18th century, and how Jupiter Hammon, a slave, was able to travel at will, publish his poetry, and be a preacher to his intended audience, “the brethren,” his fellow slaves, at a time when few slaves could travel. “Celebrating Black Poetry Day,” offers suggestions for October 17th programs or observances. A list is given of the 34 noted black poets who have spoken and given readings at Plattsburgh, NY, State University since 1984 as part of their ongoing Black Poetry day celebrations.

With the publication on Christmas Day, 1760, of the 88 line broadside poem “An Evening Thought,” Jupiter Hammon became the first published African American contributor to American poetry. A natural intelligence and a deep religious fervor led Hammon to publish additional poetry and prose, and his “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York,” which first appeared in 1787, was later reprinted and distributed by the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. Jupiter Hammon spent most of his long life on Lloyd Neck, later a part of Huntington, Long Island, where he was a slave to the Lloyd family. Some of his most productive years were spent in Hartford during the American Revolution. With newly found genealogical information on Jupiter, this present volume with new found poems has become the most complete and authoritative work on this early American black poet.

Hammon’s poetry reveals his joyous intoxication with religion, and in this vein he precedes the composers of those Black spirituals which are today an integral part of American culture. This collection of his poems and writings now includes two newly discovered poems found in New York Historical Society Library and in the Sterling Memorial Library of Yale University. Ransom notes that Hammon used several codes and indirect ways to let his fellow slaves know his real feelings about slavery. He used his Biblical knowledge as a cover.


  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Outskirts Press (May 23, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 198 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1977220398
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1977220394
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.54 x 9 inches


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