Mary Ann Shadd’s pamphlet A Plea for Emigration; or Notes of Canada West is, as the title promises, a settler guide designed to inform prospective immigrants of conditions in their proposed new home. But whereas most such works were addressed to potential white emigrants to North America from Britain or continental Europe, Shadd’s aimed to entice black Americans to emigrate to Canada.
The introduction and background materials included in the volume situate Shadd’s pamphlet in its political and cultural context, and in the context of Shadd’s own remarkable life as an abolitionist, women’s rights activist, writer, and educator.
“Phanuel Antwi’s new edition of Mary Ann Shadd’s A Plea for Emigration is cause for celebration, for it brings the work of this fascinating nineteenth-century black feminist, abolitionist, journalist, editor, lawyer, and educational activist back into the wide circulation it deserves. Shadd’s groundbreaking pamphlet (accompanied in this edition by a rich selection of contextual materials) is every bit as foundational a work of Canadian literature as that other 1852 text, Susanna Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush; its re-publication in this edition represents a substantial contribution to the vitally important ongoing project of reaching beyond Moodie’s and other European settler-invader accounts of Canadian experience.” — Lorraine York, William McMaster Chair in Canadian Literature and Culture, McMaster University
“This new edition of Mary Ann Shadd’s A Plea for Emigration, with its fine introduction and stimulating contextual materials will … invigorate conversations about Canada’s complex relation to American slavery, as well as introduce its remarkable author to new generations of students and scholars. It is important and welcome.” — Leslie Sanders, Department of Humanities, York University
“While much has been written about white settler populations in nineteenth-century Canada West (present-day Ontario), and a few authors have explored black populations in the region, most of whom were escaped African American slaves who had fled North via the “Underground Railroad,” much less is known about how black inhabitants felt about their land prospects, political rights, the Canadian climate and land. As one of the few settler guides aimed at nineteenth-century black readers, Shadd’s Plea for Emigration—now re-issued by Broadview with an informative introduction, explanatory notes, and a helpful selection of contextual materials—is an insightful, detailed description of the aforementioned, and so much more. The deliberate yet engaging writing of Mary Ann Shadd—educator, editor, feminist, abolitionist, and visionary—is … scarcely remembered in the annals of early African American literature; this pro-British, integrationist text shines a bright and long overdue light on Shadd’s unwavering activism and courage in challenging opposing attitudes about black liberation.” — Cheryl Thompson, University of Toronto