This chapter describes the earliest known writings of John Brown Russwurm. These include the commencement address that Russwurm delivered on September 6, 1826, as the first black graduate of Bowdoin College. Another is an essay written in Russwurm's hand that survived from his Bowdoin days, the twenty-two-page “Toussaint L'Overture [sic], the Principal Chief in the Revolution of St. Domingo.” Russwurm's essay is marked by the hagiographical treatment of Louverture prevalent in abolitionist writings of the early nineteenth century. The narrative of “Toussaint L'Overture” and the research conducted by Russwurm in creating also provided the platform for his later, more analytical argument so forcefully presented in “The Condition and Prospects of Hayti.”
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