George Moses Horton

George Moses Horton signature

Documentary Resources Available at the University of North Carolina at Chapel


George Moses Horton (ca. 1797-ca.1883) was a Chatham County, N.C., slave who taught himself to read and compose poetry. By the age of twenty, he began visiting the University of North Carolina and selling the students acrostic love poems based on the names of their girlfriends. His literary efforts were encouraged by a number of well-placed individuals, including the novelist Caroline Lee Hentz, N.C. Governor and later University President David L. Swain, and newspaperman Horace Greeley.

Hentz helped Horton publish his first work, Liberty and Slavery, the first known poem written by a slave protesting his status, in the Lancaster [Mass.] Gazette (8 April 1829). Horton's The Hope of Liberty, also published in 1829, was the first publication in the South by an African American.

[abstracted from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, for further information see: Richard Walser, The Black Poet (1966).]

From Documenting the American South, a project of the UNC-CH Libraries:
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Last update: January 1999