David Walker

Facts about David Walker

Born: c. September 25, 1795
Best known as: African American abolitionist who wrote 1829's 'Appeal'


David Walker Biography

David Walker was an African American abolitionist of the colonial United States who authored what’s known as Walker’s Appeal, a pamphlet published in 1829 that urged the immediate end to slavery, appealing to Christian faith and citing the Declaration of Independence.

Walker was born free in North Carolina, although his father was a slave. As an adult he traveled throughout the new United States, witnessing the depravity of slavery. A self-educated businessman, Walker settled in Boston in 1828 and was soon active in abolitionist circles, contributing to Freedom’s Journal, the nation’s first newspaper for African Americans.

His pamphlet’s full title was Appeal, in Four Articles, Together with a Preamble, to the Colored Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America. In it, Walker called for the end to Africans in bondage across the world, and made a reasoned argument for violence as a means to end slavery.

Walker’s position was considered radical even to northern abolitionists, but his word got out, and within its first year of publication Walker put out three editions. It’s said that Walker used his position as the owner of a used clothing store to sew copies of his pamphlet into the lining of garments headed for slaveholding states.

His Appeal gained notoriety and was condemned in Georgia especially, where a group formed and offered $1000 for Walker’s death.

By 1830 Walker was dead, but there was no evidence of malfeasance. His infant daughter had died a few months prior to his death of tuberculosis, and these days historians think he died of the same disease.

Perhaps because of views considered extreme, David Walker did not make it into many history books, but he is considered a major influence on abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, publisher of The Liberator.

Extra credit

David Walker’s son was Edwin G. Walker, the first African American elected to the Massachusetts legislature (1866).


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