Ann Plato


Biography of Ann Plato

Ann Plato (ca. 1824–unknown) was a 19th-century mixed-race (African American and Native American) educator and author. She was the second woman of color to publish a book in America and the first to publish a book of essays and poems.

Plato taught the Free African Schools, housed in the Zion Methodist Episcopal Church until 1847. She was a member of the Talcott Street Congregational Church in Hartford.

In 1841, at the age of 16, she published her only known book, entitled Essays: Including Biographies and Miscellanoeus Pieces in Prose and Poetry. The essays reflected the New England Puritan values of her environment. Topics included "Benevolence," "Education," "Employment" and "Religion." The essays stressed both the importance of education and of leading a pious, industrious life. The book also contained some poetry and biographies of departed female friends and acquaintances.

Some critics from later generations found Plato's essays and poetry to be overly moralizing as well as routine and lacking in originality. Many of them also derided her for not mentioning the issue of slavery in America, as some of her near contemporaries like Frances Harper and Charlotte Forten Grimke did. Her one reference to slavery in her book concerns its abolition in the West Indies in 1838 (perhaps a reference to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 valid throughout the British Empire).

Nothing is known about Plato's life after her book was published in 1841. Furthermore, the year of her death cannot be found.

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