Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

(24 September 1825 – 22 February 1911 / Baltimore, Maryland)

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an African American abolitionist and poet. Born free in Baltimore, Maryland, she had a long and prolific career, publishing her first book of poetry at twenty and her first novel, the widely praised Iola Leroy, at age 67.

Early Life and Education

Frances Ellen Watkins was born to free parents in Baltimore, Maryland. After her mother died when she was three years old in 1828, Watkins was orphaned. She was raised by her maternal aunt and uncle. She was educated at the Academy for Negro Youth, a school run by her uncle Rev. William Watkins, who was a civil rights activist. He was a major influence on her life and work. At fourteen, she ... more »

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Best Poem of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Bury Me In A Free Land

Make me a grave where'er you will,
In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill;
Make it among earth's humblest graves,
But not in a land where men are slaves.

I could not rest if around my grave
I heard the steps of a trembling slave;
His shadow above my silent tomb
Would make it a place of fearful gloom.

I could not rest if I heard the tread
Of a coffle gang to the shambles led,
And the mother's shriek of wild despair
Rise like a curse on the trembling air.

I could not sleep if I saw the lash
Drinking her blood at each fearful gash,
And I saw her ...

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