The American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan

Front Cover
Emanuel Goldsmith, Mel Scult, Robert Seltzer, Robert M. Seltzer
NYU Press, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 478 pages
0 Reviews

“If I know my own heart, I can truly say, that I have not a selfish wish in placing myself under the patronage of the [American Colonization] Society; usefulness in my day and generation, is what I principally court.”

“Sensible then, as all are of the disadvantages under which we at present labour, can any consider it a mark of folly, for us to cast our eyes upon some other portion of the globe where all these inconveniences are removed where the Man of Colour freed from the fetters and prejudice, and degradation, under which he labours in this land, may walk forth in all the majesty of his creation—a new born creature—aFree Man!”
—John Brown Russwurm, 1829.

John Brown Russwurm (1799-1851) is almost completely missing from the annals of the Pan-African movement, despite the pioneering role he played as an educator, abolitionist, editor, government official, emigrationist and colonizationist. Russwurm’s life is one of “firsts”: first African American graduate of Maine's Bowdoin College; co-founder ofFreedom’s Journal, America’s first newspaper to be owned, operated, and edited by African Americans; and, following his emigration to Africa, first black governor of the Maryland section of Liberia. Despite his accomplishments, Russwurm struggled internally with the perennial Pan-Africanist dilemma of whether to go to Africa or stay and fight in the United States, and his ordeal was the first of its kind to be experienced and resolved before the public eye.

With this slim, accessible biography of Russwurm, Winston James makes a major contribution to the history of black uplift and protest in the Early American Republic and the larger Pan-African world. James supplements the biography with a carefully edited and annotated selection of Russwurm’s writings, which vividly demonstrate the trajectory of his political thinking and contribution to Pan-Africanist thought and highlight the challenges confronting the peoples of the African Diaspora. Though enormously rich and powerfully analytical, Russwurm’s writings have never been previously anthologized.

The Struggles of John Brown Russwurmis a unique and unparalleled reflection on the Early American Republic, the African Diaspora and the wider history of the times. An unblinking observer of and commentator on the condition of African Americans as well as a courageous fighter against white supremacy and for black emancipation, Russwurm’s life and writings provide a distinct and articulate voice on race that is as relevant to the present as it was to his own lifetime.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

About the author (1992)

EMANUEL S. GOLDSMITH is Associate Professor of Yiddish and Jewish Studies at Queens College, CUNY. MEL SCULT is Professor of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College, CUNY and author of the forthcoming Mordecai M. Kaplan: Prophet of Renewal, 1881-1934.

ROBERT M. SELTZER is Professor of History at Hunter College and the Graduate School of CUNY.

ROBERT M. SELTZER is Professor of History at Hunter College, Chair of the Hunter Jewish Social Studies Program, and the author of Jewish People, Jewish Thought.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, "Robert M. Seltzer" is an associate professor of history at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he teaches Jewish history and is coordinator of the interdisciplinary program in Jewish studies. He taught previously in the department of Religious Thought at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds degrees from Washington University, Yale University, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Columbia University, and has studied at Harvard University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has published scholarly papers on the rise of Jewish nationalism, on the eminent Russian Jewish historian Simon Dubnow, and on the history of the Jews in Eastern Europe.

Bibliographic information