Born in Charles Town, (today WV) May 6, 1812, Martin Delany died after a long, brave and diverse life January 24, 1885 in Wilberforce, Ohio. He wrote this in 1848 when he co-edited “The North Star” newspaper with Frederick Douglass. Scholar Prof. Robert S. Levine, who has edited “Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader,” has called this Delany’s “masterpiece.”
Patriotism consists not in a mere professed love of country, the place of one’s birth – an endearment to the scenery, however delightful and interesting, of such country; nor simply the laws and political policy by which such country is governed; but a pure and unsophisticated interest felt and manifested for man – an impartial love and desire for the promotion and elevation of every member of the body politic, their eligibility to all the rights and privileges of society. This, and other than this, fails to establish the claims of true patriotism.
From periods the most remote, the most improper application has been made of the endearing term Patriot. Whether the most absolute monarch, crowned with the hereditary diadem, armed with an unlimited sceptre, the most intolerable despot bearing the title of sovereign – the most cruel and heartless oppressor and slaveholder under the boasted title of President -the most relentless butcher and murderer called Commander-in-Chief – the most haughty and scornful aristocrat who tramples upon the people’s rights in the halls of legislation – the most reckless and unprincipled statesman “rioting upon the spoils of a plundered revenue” – whether Phillips, Curran or Gratan in defence of Irish constitutional liberty – Emmet upon the scaffold, refusing to let his epitaph be written until Ireland was free -William Tell, under sentence of death, baffling the schemes of the German tyrant, Gesler – the French baron, Lafayette, leaving his native country and princely fortune, to share in common the fate of the struggling American Washington, as the leader of his country’s destiny – O’Connell, as the Liberator – Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, or John Quincy Adams, standing in the frontal ranks as defenders of American rights, or Mitchell and O’Brien, who sacrificed their all, being forever divorced and exiled from the most tender ties of domestic affections, by the severity of the laws of their country, for daring to discard provisions deemed pernicious to the welfare of their countrymen; all have laid equal claim to a share of the popular gratitude, and been endowed with the loved title of patriot.
A patriot may exist, whether blessed with the privileges of a country, favored with a free constituency, or flying before his pursuers, [and] roam an exile, the declared outlaw of the power that besets him. Love to man, and uncompromising hostility to that which interferes with his divine God-given rights, are the only traits which distinguish the true patriot. To be patriotic, is to be philanthropic; to be which, is necessary to love all men, regarding their humanity with equal importance.
Much has been the interest felt and manifested in this country in every movement, with exceptions to be named, whether home or abroad, in favor of human liberty, and those who were foremost in the struggle, bequeathed their names to present and future time, to become the subject of the poet and the theme of the historian. Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland, Germany, France, England, Scotland and Ireland, of modern date, all, have had their patriots, each of whom in succession, has shared largely of America’s eulogium. And of all who have scanned the ordeal before them, there were none perhaps for whom there has been expressed more sympathy, than the late victims of British displeasure, the Irish patriots and convicts, Mitchell and O’Brien, especially the latter, the severity of whose sentence aroused every feeling and expression of opposition to the execution of the sentence.
To witness the public demonstrations, as manifested in favor of the Irish struggle, in which Mayors of cities, Judges of Courts, sons of Ex-Presidents and Ex-Governors participated, and the universal interest felt in the result, is well tended to deceive, and betray into the idea those not otherwise advised, that this nation is a nation of justice. But how will America stand, when compared with other countries, dark as may be the gloom of their semi-barbarous laws? Condemned must she be in the moral vision of the whole enlightened world. Loud, long, and damning, must be the anathema uttered against her by those whom she treats and so regards in all her legal acknowledgments as aliens and enemies, ere their eyes be opened to a sense of their condition, and she still refuses to succor them.
But how many patriots have lived, toiled, suffered and died, having worn out a life of usefulness, unobtrusively laboring in the cause of suffering humanity, living to the community and the world a life of seclusion, passing to and fro unobserved, amidst the stir and busy scenes of a metropolis, and the throng and bustle of assembled thousands. This class of patriots may be found in every country, but to none are they more common than America, and in no country would they meet with less acceptance than in this Republic. Ever professing the most liberal principles, proclaiming liberty and equality to all mankind, their course of policy gives a glaring contradiction to their pretensions, and the lie to their professions.
Prone as they are to tyrannize and despotize over the liberties of the few, the philanthropist who espouses the cause of the oppressed, is destined to a life of obscurity; instead of commendation and renown, contempt and neglect are the certain and most bitter fruits of his reward. Marked and pointed out by the finger of scorn, he at once becomes the mock of the scoffer, and hiss of the reviler; and affliction heaped upon affliction presses upon him like a mountain weight, until at last he sinks under the mighty pressure, unable longer to bear it up. Yet, galling as this may be, it is a boon for which the downtrodden, oppressed American might anxiously long, compared with his own present miserable, unhappy condition.
Among them have existed, and there do exist, those who are justly entitled to all the claims of true patriotism; but proscription, as infamous as it is wicked, has stamped the seal of degradation upon their brow; and instead of patriots, they become the felon and outlaw. Anticipated and preconcerted by an inquisition of prejudice and slaveholding influence, the colored man of this confederacy, especially the bondman, is doomed to ignominy, whatever may be his merits.
Though he has complied with the first demand of a freeman – borne arms in defence of his country – no sooner is victory won, than he is unarmed, not only of his implements, but also of his equality with those among whom he bravely fought side by side for liberty and equality. Mathematician and philosopher he may be, not only furnishing to the country the only correct calendar of time and chronological cycles, but further contribute to its interest, by assisting in the plot and survey of the District of Columbia, without the aid of whose talents it could not at that time have been accomplished with mathematical accuracy; yet no sooner is this effected, than he is forgotten to the nation. Though in a professedly Republican and free Christian country, the yoke is upon his neck, and fetters upon his limbs, and dare he make the attempt to release himself and brethren from a condition little less than death itself, the whole country is solemnly bound, in one confederated band, to riddle his breast with ten thousand balls. Is he a slave the most abject of South America or Cuba, who, rising in the majesty of his nature, with a bold and manly bearing, heads his enslaved brethren, leading them on to a holy contest for the liberty of their wives, mothers, sisters and children, he is, with one universal voice, denounced in this country, as a rebel, insurrectionist, cut-throat; and all the powers of despotism, America in the foremost rank, sallies forth in one united crusade against him.
Many are the untiring, uncompromising, stern and indefatigable enemies of oppression, and friends of God and humanity, now to be found among the nominally free colored people of this slavery-cursed land, at work laboring for the good of all men, though some have recently escaped from the American prison-house of bondage, bearing still fresh upon their quivering flesh the sting of the whip and marks of the lash, many of whom for talents and the qualified ability to write and speak, will favorably compare with the proudest despots and oppressors in the country.
Though they speak, act, petition, remonstrate, pray, and appeal, yet to all this the wickedness of the American people turns a deaf ear, and closed eye. Hence, the American colored patriot lives but to be despised, feared and hated, accordingly as his talents may place him in the community – moving amidst the masses, he passes unobserved, and at last goes down to the grave in obscurity, without a tear to condole his loss, or a breast to heave in sympathy. But the time shall yet come, when the name of the despised, neglected American patriot, in spite of American prejudice, shall rise superior to the spirit that would degrade it, and take its place on the records of merit and fame. M. R. D. (The North Star, 8 December 1848, P. 2).
To see any of eleven parts of a video about Martin Delany on this site along with other videos on the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley, Click Here
Resources – Other Than Delany:
Griffith Cyril E. (1973). “Martin R. Delany and the African Dream, 1812-1885.” Ann Arbor, MI.: Michigan State University.
Griffith Cyril E. “Martin R. Delany and the African Dream, 1812-1885.” books.google.com 24 November 2005 Web. 28 December 2011.
Griffith Cyril E. “The African dream: Martin R. Delany and the emergence of pan-African thought.” books.google.com 24 November 2005 Web. 28 December 2011.
Levine, Robert S. “Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass and the Politics of Representative Identity,” University of North Carolina Press, 1997. Print.
Rollin, Frank A. “Life and Public Service of Martin R. Delany: Sub assistant commissioner Bureau relief of refugees, freedman, and of abandoned lands, and late, Major 104th U.S. colored troops,” (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1883). Print.
Sterling, Dorothy (1971). “The Making Of An Afro-american: Martin Robison Delany, 1812-1885.” Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Inc.
Sterling, Dorothy (1971). “The Making Of An Afro-american: Martin Robison Delany, 1812-1885.” Amazon.com 27 April 2007 Web. 28 December, 2011.
Surkamp, James T. (1853). “To Be More Than Equal: The Many Lives of Martin R. Delany 1812-1885. West Virginia University Libraries. 9 Nov. 1999. Web. 26 Dec. 2010.
Ullman, Victor. Martin R. Delany: The Beginnings of Black Nationalism,” (Boston: Beacon Press), 1971. Out of print.
Resources – Delany:
“Martin R. Delany – A Documentary Reader.” (2003). Robert S. Levine, ed. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. Print.
“Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader.” edited by Robert S. Levine. Amazon.com 29 June 2007 Web. 28 December, 2011.
Delany, Martin R. (1859). “Blake or The Huts of America: A Tale of the Mississippi Valley, the Southern United States.” (serialized in 1859 in “The Weekly Anglo African Magazine.” Print.
Delany, Martin, R. (1859). “Blake: The Huts of America.” Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. 14 July 2007. Web. 26 Dec. 2010.
Delany, Martin R. (1852). “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politically Considered,” (Philadelphia, PA): published by the author. Print.
Delany, Martin R. (1852). “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politically Considered.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 Dec. 2010.
Delany, Martin R. (1861). “Official Report of the Niger River Valley Exploring Party.” by M.R. Delany, Chief Commissioner to Africa. New York, NY and London, Eng.: Self-published. Print.
Delany, Martin R. (1861). “Official Report of the Niger River Valley Exploring Party.” MyBeBooks. 27 July 2008. Web. 30 Dec. 2010.
Delany, Martin R. (1879). “Principia of Ethnology: The Origin of Races and Color with an Archaeological Compendium and Egyptian Civilization from Years of Careful Examination and Enquiry.” Philadelphia, PA: Self-published. Print.
Delany, Martin R. “Principia of Ethnology: The Origin of Races and Color with an Archaeological Compendium and Egyptian Civilization from Years of Careful Examination and Enquiry.” To Be More Than Equal The Many Lives of Martin R. Delany 1812-1885. 9 Nov. 1999. Web. 26 Dec.2010.
Delany, Martin R. (1853). “The Origin and Objects of Ancient Freemasonry; Its Introduction into the United States and Legitimacy Among Colored Men,” Pittsburgh, PA: Self-published. Available in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., and Western Reserve Historical Society Library. Print.
Delany, Martin R. (1853). “The Origin and Objects of Ancient Freemasonry.” To Be More Than Equal The Many Lives of Martin R. Delany 1812-1885. 9 Nov. 1999. Web. 26 Dec. 2010.
Delany, Martin R. (1853). “The Origin and Objects of Ancient Freemasonry Part 1.” To Be More Than Equal The Many Lives of Martin R. Delany 1812-1885. 9 Nov. 1999. Web. 26 Dec. 2010.
Delany, Martin R. (1853). “The Origin of Freemasonry Part 2: Its Introduction Into the United States.” To Be More Than Equal The Many Lives of Martin R. Delany 1812-1885. 9 Nov. 1999. Web. 26 Dec. 2010.
Delany, Martin R. (1853). “The Origins of Freemasonry Part 3.” To Be More Than Equal The Many Lives of Martin R. Delany 1812-1885. 9 Nov. 1999. Web. 26 Dec. 2010.
Martin Delany Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 May 2009.
Martin Delany in uniform (painting) Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 May 2009.
Masthead “The North Star” newspaper, June, 1848 Library of Congress. 26 August 2004 Web. 24 December 2011.
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