- Gallery Text
In the early 19th century, British abolitionists took their fight to domestic objects. Two prominent symbols of the movement to abolish slavery and the slave trade adorn this transfer-printed jug. The seated figure in chains was the emblem of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. “Am not I a man and a brother?” he asks the viewer, as a slave ship bears down on the coast. On the opposite side of the jug are excerpts from a well-known anti-slavery ballad by poet William Cowper.
Britain ended the slave trade in 1807, and finally abolished slavery in the British Empire in 1838. To what extent objects like this influenced popular thinking is an open question. Leading abolitionist Thomas Clarkson praised their effect, noting that fashion, “which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the honorable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity and freedom."
- Identification and Creation
Level 2, Room 2240, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Arts in the Eighteenth–Century Atlantic World
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- Physical Descriptions
- 15 x 17.8 cm (5 7/8 x 7 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- inscription: front: AM NOT I / A MAN AND / A BROTHER
- inscription: back: [around the edge:] THE NEGRO'S COMPLAINT; [center:] Fleecy locks and black complexion. / Cannot forfiet [sic] natures claim / Skins may differ but affection, / Dwells in white and black the same. / Slaves of gold whose sordid dealings. / Tarnish all your boasted powers: / Prove that you have human feelings. / Ere you boldly question ours.
- [Rex Stark, Gardner, MA], sold; to [Robert Hunter, Yorktown, VA] sold; to Harvard Art Museums, 2015
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Augustus S. Cobb, by exchange
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- European and American Art
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- Publication History
Sophie Lynford, Natalia Vieyra, and Joanna Sheers Seidenstein, "In Honor of Juneteenth", Index Magazine, Harvard Art Museums ([e-journal], June 19, 2020), https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/article/in-honor-of-juneteenth, accessed June 29, 2020
- Exhibition History
32Q: 2340 Cabinet Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/05/2015 - 09/24/2019
32Q: 2240 18th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/22/2019 - 01/01/2050
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