David Walker was born ca. 1796 and 1797, in Wilmington, North Carolina. Some sources state that he was born September 28, 1785. Walker’s father was a slave and his mother was a free woman. Due to laws surrounding slavery, Walker inherited his mother’s free status. Although he was free, he was still aware of the severity of slavery.
Walker had had enough of Wilmington and decided to leave between 1815 and 1820. He traveled across the U.S. before settling in Boston by 1825. Shortly after settling, Walker became the owner of a secondhand clothing store. It grew to be a success. But he was unhappy. He noticed that although Black people in Boston were free, they were still discriminated against.
As a result of his discontent with the treatment of his people, Walker became involved. He joined the Massachusetts General Colored Association. He also began sharing his views in speeches and writings in Freedom’s Journal, the first Black-owned and managed newspaper in the country.
In 1829, Walker published his most notable piece of written material. He wrote Walker’s Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America. His pamphlet is 70 pages long. Within it, he references the Bible and the Declaration of Independence to negate the justification of slavery.
Many abolitionists, like William Lloyd Garrison, did not support Walker’s Appeal. Walker encouraged enslaved Black people in the U.S. to overthrow their oppressors. Many abolitionists resorted to a nonviolent approach. He saw the use of violence, however, as a means for slaves to regain their humanity.
Because of the opposition that his appeal received, Walker’s Appeal was not widely circulated. He began sewing the pamphlet into the clothing that he sold. Many slaveholders feared a revolt. As a result, many Southern states outlawed the pamphlet, as well as any other form of written anti-slavery propaganda.
As a result of his pamphlet, a reward was offered for Walker’s death. His friends urged him to move to Canada. He did not leave. David Walker was found dead between June 28 and August 6, 1830, in Boston. He was 33 years old. Many believe that he was poisoned while others believe he died from tuberculosis.
Walker’s Appeal changed the tone of the abolition movement. Where many abolitionists advocated for nonviolence reform prior to Walker’s pamphlet, their faith in nonviolence reform faltered. They then supported the idea of violence. Walker’s views influenced and inspired many people for years to come.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer or We Buy Black. Thank you.**