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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Title Page of The Poetical Works of George M. Horton, 1845

George Moses Horton (ca. 1798-1883) was a slave in nearby Chatham County who taught himself to read and write. When his master permitted him to rent his own time, Horton earned money by writing poetry for university students who wanted to impress their lady friends. Horton hoped to earn enough to buy his own freedom but did not succeed. A book of his poems, The Hope of Liberty, appeared in 1829 and was the first book ever published by a southern African American. After the Civil War, Horton moved to Philadelphia and may have migrated to Liberia. He died in 1883.