Walker's Appeal

Drawing from the time

In 1829, a free black man living in Boston, David Walker, published an incendiary pamphlet entitled: "The Appeal". "The Appeal" called for slaves to rise up against their masters. Walker wrote: " I speak, Americans, for your good. We must and shall be free, I say in spite of you. You may do your best to keep us in wretchedness and misery, to enrich you and your children; but God will deliver us from under you. And woe, woe will be to you if we have to obtain our freedom by fighting."



David Walker was born to a slave father and free black women. He grew up in North Carolina and moved to Charleston, South Carolina as young man. Walker then settled in Boston, center of the Abolitionist Movement. He became deeply involved in the movement. Walker was a founder of the Massachusetts General Colored Association, an organization that worked against slavery and racism. In 1829, Walker published the booklet that became known as “Walker’s Appeal.” In his appeal, Walker called on Blacks to take their future into their own hands. He further called on Blacks to become educated and demand their rights. Walker called on Whites to uphold the truth “that all men are created equal.”

Walker’s Appeal was widely distributed. Within the ranks of the White, Northern population the Appeal radicalized opponents of slavery. Among the Blacks it served as a rallying point; a road map to either freedom and/or equality.  The South reacted to the document with fear. They did everything they could to stop the distribution of the booklet. Blacks in Charleston and New Orleans were arrested for distributing the pamphlet. Authorities in Savannah, Georgia instituted a ban on the disembarkation of black seamen. Meanwhile, various Southern governmental bodies labeled the Appeal seditious. They imposed harsh penalties on those who circulated it. Despite these efforts, Walker's pamphlet was circulated widely. Newspapers, like the Richmond Enquirer, railed against what it called Walker’s “monstrous slander” of the region.

Walker died a year after publishing the Appeal. There are some who have claimed he was poisoned. However, most evidence supports the view that he died of natural causes.