Pieces like this jug were purchased at anti-slavery fairs, gatherings at which abolitionists heard lectures, bonded with one another, and shopped for souvenirs whose sale generated funds for anti-slavery activities. English lusterware jug featuring a bulbous body, straight-sided neck, curved spout, and molded handle. The exterior of the jug is decorated with bands of pink luster at the neck, spout, handle, and base, and two on glaze black transfer prints. One print depicts a seated African man, partly bound in chains and seated at the edge of a body of water, with a ship in the background. To the left of the man's head is the phrase, "AM NOT I / A MAN AND / A BROTHER," taken from Thomas Day's (1748-1789) 1773 poem, "The Dying Negro." The second print is a lengthy verse taken from William Cowper's (1731-1800) 1788 poem, "The Negro's Complaint," and reads: "THE NEGRO'S / Fleecy locks and black complexion, / Cannot forfeit natures claim: / Skins may differ but affection, / Dwells in white and black the same. / Slaves of gold whose sordid dealings, / Tarnish all your boasted powers. / Prove that you have human feelings. / Ere you boldly question ours / COMPLAINT."
Criticisms levelled against England’s participation in the slave trade grew louder by the late 18th century, and were expressed on a variety of media, including ceramics. The pink luster jug’s bold inscription, “Am not I a Man and a Brother,” not only draws attention to the the plight of enslaved persons, but also appeals to people’s common humanity. The child’s plate, with its brightly painted molded rim, functions in a similar way by illustrating what appears to be the capture of two Africans in their native homeland. The jug contains verses from William Cowper's (1731-1800) 1788 poem, "The Negro's Complaint," which serve to further emphasize the sufferings of the enslaved, as well as the unjust system of slavery as a whole.
slavery; enslaved persons; antislavery movements
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