Chapter

William Henry Sheppard’s Country of My Forefathers

Ira Dworkin

in Congo Love Song

Published by University of North Carolina Press

Published in print June 2017 | ISBN: 9781469632711
Published online January 2018 | e-ISBN: 9781469632735
William Henry Sheppard’s Country of My Forefathers

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This chapter examines the work of a former Hampton student who also traveled to the Congo in 1890 as cofounder of the American Presbyterian Congo Mission (APCM). Sheppard’s articles and speeches circulated widely through networks of HBCUs, the press, and the church. In particular, his 1899 eyewitness report on the brutal practice of hand-severing became a foundational document for Congo Reform Association (CRA) activists like E. D. Morel and Mark Twain. Sheppard’s writings tell a different story than canonical literary portraits of the region like Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness by exhibiting an appreciation for the voices of the Congolese people, a point which was emphasized when, after being charged with libel by the colonial authorities, Sheppard arranged for Congolese witnesses to testify in his defense. After his forced retirement from the APCM in 1910, he continued to work on behalf of the Congo, speaking to prominent audiences throughout the United States.

Keywords: Hampton Institute; William Sheppard; Presbyterian Church (U.S.); American Presbyterian Congo Mission (APCM); African American missionaries; Congo Reform Association (CRA); Heart of Darkness

Chapter.  12224 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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