First edition of the remarkable memoir of the first Black man elected to Congress in Virginia and the great-uncle of Langston Hughes, who was named after him.
"Mr. Langston visited the polls [...] confronted at once by the remarkable fact that so far as the Republican colored voters were concerned, the approach to the ballot-box had already become blocked and access thereto rendered impossible."
Langston was born on a Virginia plantation in 1829. His father, a white slaveholder, at first enslaved Langston's mother, but emancipated her in order to marry her. Langston was left significant property and funds upon his father's death. Well-educated at home, Langston moved to Ohio and passed the bar exam through self-study and an apprenticeship only, having been denied admission to law schools due to his race. He became active in the abolitionist movement, including assisting travelers on the Underground Railroad, and served as the first president of the National Equal Rights League, a predecessor to the NAACP with an entirely Black membership. Langston became Dean of Howard University's Law School and, later, President of Virginia State University. In 1888, after a fraught election characterized by extensive fraud and intimidation tactics against Black voters (described in this volume), Langston became Virginia's first Black congressman – the next Black congressman from Virginia, Bobby Scott, would not be elected until 1993. Langston's memoir covers all this and many more of his extraordinary accomplishments that concision alone forces us to elide.
Hartford, Connecticut: American Publishing Company, 1894. Full title: From the Virginia Plantation to The National Capitol or The First and Only Negro Representative in Congress from the Old Dominion. Octavo. 8.75'' x 5.5''. Original full blue cloth, ornamental blind-stamped border on boards, Langston's signature in gilt on front board, elaborately gilt-stamped spine. Speckled edges. Frontispiece and 15 full-page illustrations. 524 pages. Light rubbing to cloth extremities. Shallow edgewear to portrait of Langston. Hinges sound, interior clean.
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