Narrative of the proceedings of the black people during the late awful calamity…..

Narrative text

A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People, During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia, in the Year 1793: and a Refutation of Some Censures, Thrown Upon Them in Some Late Publications.

Absalom Jones and Richard Allen


Narrative title page

In the Summer of 1793, the Yellow Fever broke out in Philadelphia. Amidst the ensuing chaos, a few great souls emerged, diligently caring for the ailing, selflessly placing themselves in death’s path, and refusing to be compensated. These individuals were people of the Philadelphian African American community, and included the authors of this pamphlet. But, these acts of courage and heroism were received by none other than racism-driven allegations of coercion, exploitation, and outright robbery. The pamphlet before you is a response to the influential publisher, Mathew Carey, who promulgated these accusations. In it, our authors cite their own financial records from the plague, which show that they lost money, far from profiteering. They also include stories of other African Americans who came to the aid of the needy when nobody else would. The pamphlet itself is fragile and thin, meaning it was likely mass-produced, and meant to be widely distributed. Yet, while it vindicates the black community from the allegations, it also makes similar accusations against poor whites. We are troublesomely reminded that classism is as real a phenomenon as racism, and that a victim of one can nevertheless be guilty of the other. 


Andrew Zolensky, Class of 2022

Narrative of the proceedings of the black people during the late awful calamity…..