My 300 Year Old Friend – part 2

This will be my last Black History Month related post for 2019 but I can’t promise I won’t revisit my friend Jupiter Hammon.


I took advantage of a long plane ride this week to continue researching my friend Jupiter Hammon.  Cedrick May edited The Collected Works of Jupiter Hammon, published in 2017.  This is my second time reading this collection and it will not be the last.

The new insights into the life of Jupiter Hammon from Cedrick May are very different from in previous biographies published on Hammon.  While it is a joy to read the written, published works of this important African-American poet it is equally important reading the notes and comments from Mr. May.  His interpretation of Hammon’s writings in parallel with the historical happenings of the time help to center Jupiter to his surroundings.

Researching a person of color, and African-American slave born in 1711 is not the easiest thing to do, but is sure is fun. There are no paintings or illustrations of his image.  The camera had not been invented yet at Jupiter’s birth, or by the time of his death, estimated around 1806.  The fact the there is so much material documented for Jupiter is astounding and most likely related to the fact that his owners were successful businessmen and in the habit of maintaining copious documentation.

I can’t explain my almost obsession to Jupiter but I’m all in now.  I’ll be scheduling more time at the Lloyd Harbor Historical Society and other historical resources as I continue my research.