The Word - Media

Briton Hammon

Briton Hammon (c. 1717-?) was an enslaved African-American man who gained attention for his narrative, “A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man.” Published in 1760, it is considered to be one of the earliest slave narratives in American history.

Hammon was born around 1717, likely in Maryland or Delaware, and was enslaved from a young age. He worked on various plantations, primarily in New England, and experienced harsh treatment and difficult conditions. In 1747, Hammon enlisted in the British army during the War of Jenkins’ Ear, hoping to gain his freedom. He served as a soldier and servant to an officer for several years, traveling to places such as Florida and Cuba.

After his time in the military, Hammon returned to New England and continued to face enslavement. His narrative, published in Boston, recounted his experiences as a slave, his time in the military, and his desire for freedom. It also included a poem, making it one of the earliest published works by an African-American poet. Hammon’s narrative is significant because it sheds light on the experiences and aspirations of an enslaved African American during the 18th century. It offers insights into the complex relationships between slavery, war, and the quest for freedom.

Little is known about Briton Hammon’s life after the publication of his narrative, and the exact date and circumstances of his death are unknown. However, his narrative remains an important historical document that provides valuable insights into the lives of enslaved individuals and their struggles for freedom during a critical period in American history.

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