Author: Unknown


Mundus novus (1503)

In Mundus novus (“New World”), a pamphlet first published in Latin in 1503, Amerigo Vespucci purportedly corresponds with his patron, Lorenzo Pietro di Medici, about his voyage to the New World. Many scholars believe this to be a highly exaggerated, possibly even fictionalized version of several genuine letters written by Vespucci, who participated in two voyages between 1499 and 1501. This English translation by George Tyler Northup is taken from a Vienna edition of the pamphlet from August 1504 and was published in 1916.


“Uncle Gabriel”

In this African American song, “Uncle Gabriel,” the singer tells the story of Gabriel’s Conspiracy, an attempted uprising of slaves in Henrico County in August 1800. One of the chief conspirators, an enslaved blacksmith named Gabriel, was hanged on October 10. This version of the song, anthologized in Black Writers of America (1972), may date to after 1831. Its reference, in the second verse, to Southampton County suggests Nat Turner’s Rebellion and not Gabriel’s Conspiracy. Gabriel was, however, captured in Norfolk after boarding a vessel below Richmond. An enslaved crewman turned him in.


Unknown, Biography of London Ferrill by (1854)

In Biography of London Ferrill, published in 1854, an unknown author tells the life of London Ferrill, who was born into slavery in Hanover County in 1789. He learned carpentry, became a Baptist, purchased his freedom, and settled in Lexington, Kentucky, where he preached. He died there in 1854.


Voyage of Anthony Chester (1707)

Voyage of Anthony Chester is an account written by an unknown passenger of the ship Margaret and John, which left England in December 1620 bound for Virginia and was attacked by the Spanish in the West Indies in March 1621. (Anthony Chester was captain of the ship.) The passenger tells of these events and subsequent life in the colony, including an account of the beginning of the Second Anglo-Powhatan War (1622–1632). The manuscript was published in Dutch by Peter Vander Aa, an Amsterdam bookseller, in 1707. This English translation, by Charles Edward Bishop, was first published in the William and Mary Quarterly in 1901.

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