Baltimore: Published by John F. Weishampel, Jr., . 86,pp., including two engraved plates. Original brown cloth decoratively blindstamped, with gilt titles on front cover. Minor edge wear and moderate staining to boards, spine ends scuffed. Occasional foxing to text. Very good. Item #4330
The rare first edition of Reverend Noah Davis's redemptive autobiographical "emancipation narrative," after being born into slavery in Virginia in 1804. The present work recounts Davis's early life, along with his career as a Baptist preacher in Baltimore, where he served as the Pastor of the Saratoga Street Church. Up until the publication of this book, Davis was able to purchase his own freedom, as well as the freedom of his wife and five of their children, at a cost of more than $4,000. According to the first sentence of the "Notice to the Public" opposite the author's portrait, Davis published the present autobiography in order to "raise sufficient means to free his last two children from slavery." The two engraved plates provide a valuable visual companion to Davis's text. The first is a striking portrait of the author, which is captioned, "Rev. Noah Davis, Pastor of the Saratoga Street African Baptist Church, Baltimore." The second engraving features a front view of the "Saratoga Street African Baptist Church." An undated signature in pencil on the recto of the portrait plate ascribes previous ownership of this copy to "Rev. Quintus Barbour" who paid fifty cents for the book; the Barbours were a prominent Virginia family, and Quintus Barbour may have known Noah Davis personally.
"Born into slavery in Madison County, Davis learned farming and carpentry and joined the Baptist church in Fredericksburg, which elected him a deacon. In 1847, white Baptists paid for Davis’s freedom (he had already raised some of the money) and hired him as a missionary to African Americans in Baltimore. The next year he established the Second Colored Baptist Church in that city and over the next decade raised the money to free his family, who were in danger of being sold.... In 1863, Davis attended the American Baptist Missionary Convention in Washington, D.C., and there met with President Abraham Lincoln, requesting he be allowed to preach to African American troops. In 1866, his church united with another, and Davis died the next year, in Baltimore" - Encyclopedia of Virginia.
Blockson 9743. Work, p.311. Sabin 18870.