The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

82. Martin R. Delany to Norton Shaw 13 June 1860

By late December 1859, Robert Campbell and Martin R. Delany had negotiated a treaty with West African Egba chiefs, who ceded them land for a Yoruban colony. Delany and Campbell returned to England in mid-May 1860. They lectured in and around London about their African experiences and, at an 11 June meeting, became the first American blacks honored by the Royal Geographical Society. Delany delivered a paper, "Geographical Observations on Western Africa," which was a detailed description of the terrain, plants, animals, and diseases of the Niger Valley. Delany's 13 June note to Dr. Norton Shaw, the secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, concerned publication of this paper and demonstrated his sensitivity to African culture. The paper was later edited, abridged, and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Geograpbical Society of London 4:218-22 ( 1859-60). Miller, Search for Black Nationality, 208-16, 221-23; Ullman, Martin R. Delany, 237; Martin R. Delany and Robert Campbell, Draft of "Geographical Observations on Western Africa," 11 June 1860, UkLRgeo [ 12:0778-81].

50 Baker St[reet]
Patria Sq[ua]r[e]
London, [ England]
June 13, [1860

N[orton] Shaw, M.D. 1

My Dear Sir:

I learned last evening, that the Papers read before the Royal Geographial Society2 are to be published.

As in all African names, we give the orthography according to the idiom of those languages; you will please change "jallap" to jalapdropping the l--and "Morish" to Moorish, inserting another o. All other African names which may occur in the Paper, please leave unchanged; and thus oblige. Very Respectfully, Sir, Your most obt. Servt.,

M. R. Delany

Royal Geographical Society Archives, London. Published by permission.

1.
Henry Norton Shaw (?--1868) served as secretary of the Royal Geographical Society from 1849 to 1863. In 1866 he was appointed consul to the island of St. Croix in the West Indies. MEB, 3:527.
2.
The Royal Geographical Society, located at 1 Savile Row, London, was established in 1830 to improve and diffuse geographical knowledge. The society encouraged exploration of previously uncharted areas of the world, particularly Africa. Papers were read at society meetings held every other week from November to July. Wheatley, London Past and Present, 2: 90-91.

-477-

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