George Moses Horton

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A plaque in North Carolina commemorating the life of George Moses Horton.

George Moses Horton (1797–1884) was an African-American poet was the first African American poet to be published in the Southern United States. He did this while still a slave in 1828 and he remained a slave until he was emancipated late in the American Civil War.


He was born into slavery on William Horton's plantation in Northampton County, North Carolina. As a very young child, he and several family members were moved to a tobacco farm in rural Chatham County, when his owner relocated. Learning poetry and snippets of literature through clandestine means as a teen, Horton composed poems in his mind. As a young adult, Horton was allowed to work for <Chapel Hill>. He composed and recited poems for students, who wrote down his poems and paid Horton. In 1829, his poems were published in a collection titled THE HOPE OF LIBERTY. His poems were anti-slavery He later learned how to write in 1832 with the aid of a professor's wife. The book was funded by the politically liberal journalist, Joseph Gales.

In 1845, he released another book of poetry titled, The Poetical Works of George M. Horton, The Colored Bard of North-Carolina, To Which Is Prefixed The Life of the Author, Written by Himself. The moniker, “Colored Bard of North-Carolina was coined by his new publisher.

Horton had gained the admiration of North Carolina Governor John Owen, influential newspapermen Horace Greely and William Lloyd Garrison, and numerous Northern abolitionist.

George Moses Horton's signature


Horton's poetic style was typical European styled poetry. He employed both sonnet and ballads in his books. His earlier works focused on his life in servitude but his later works, especially those made after his emancipation, were more rural and pastoral.


In abolitionist papers there was an interest in buying the freedom of Horton. Horton had written about his interest in the new nation of Liberia and a few of the abolitionist papers made calls to raise enough money so that Horton could see his dream of life in Liberia come true. Despite these efforts, Horton would never live to see Liberia. Horton was emancipated by the Union Army in 1865, at the age of 68. He moved to Pennsylvania as a freeman where he continued to write poetry for local newspapers. In Philadelphia, he wrote Sunday school stories on behalf of friends who lived in the city.


During his life, Horton had gained the admiration of North Carolina Governor John Owen, influential newspapermen Horace Greely and William Lloyd Garrison. During the summer of 2006,UNC Chapel Hill renamed a newly built dorm, previously known as Hinton James North,to George Moses Horton dormitory.


External links[edit]

<> Williamson, Samuel H., and Louis P. Cain. "Measuring Worth - Measuring the Value of a Slave.