GEORGE MOSES HORTON FACT SHEET

1797 George Moses Horton is born in Northampton County, NC.
1800 GMH moves with owner William Horton to Chatham County, with mother and 5 sisters
1800-14 GMH lives on Horton Plantation: 400 acres, corn and wheat, 9 miles from Pittsboro between Haw River and New Hope Creek
  GMH tries to learn to read, using pieces of spelling books, his mother’s hymnal, and the New Testament; GMH tends cows
1814 GMH is 17; slave family is broken up by estate distribution; ownership passes to William’s son James; GMH’s job: ploughman with horse
1817 GMH begins to travel to Chapel Hill farmers market, Saturday evening through Sunday. Sells fruit and poems and performs poems from memory (cannot yet read and write); makes up acrostic love poems for UNC students’ sweethearts, which they transcribe
1828 GMH is befriended by Caroline Lee Hentz, a novelist and faculty wife at UNC. She teaches him to read and write, and arranges publication of poems; GMH poems published in Lancaster Gazette, Raleigh Register, New York Freedom Journal.
  Three NC benefactors, including Governor John Owen, attempt to purchase Horton from Hall, for $100 over the purchase price; Hall refuses.
1829 GMH publishes Hope of Liberty
1831 Hentz leaves Chapel Hill; puts Horton in one of her novels
1832 GMH is writing and selling about 12 poems a week, for 25 cents each; begins "hiring out" his time from James for 25 cents per week; begins living in Chapel Hill, working for UNC President Joseph Calwell
1833-43 GMH marries a slave from Franklin Snipes’ farm; has son, Free Snipes, and daughter, Rhody
1843 James Horton dies, GMH ownership passes to son Hall Horton, who raises weekly "hire out" fee to 50 cents.

GMH publishes in Southern Literary Messenger

1844 GMH writes to northern abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to ask for help in purchasing his life; no response
1845 GMH publishes The Poetical Works of George Moses Horton, the Colored Bard of North Carolina; sells copies for 50 cents to raise funds for liberty
1852 GMH is 55 years old; writes to UNC President David Swain, begs him for purchase price of $250; it has become too difficult for Horton to walk the 8 miles to Chapel Hill. Swain suggests he write to Horace Greely. GMH writes to Greely, then to Swain again.
1859 GMH delivers speech to UNC students about his life, his slavery, his views, and his philosophy: "An Address: The Stream of Liberty and Science..."
1860-61 UNC students leave university for war; GMH loses market for poems
1865 Union troops enter Chapel Hill; Horton comes under protection of Capt. William H.S. Banks, 9th Michigan Cavalry Volunteers; travels with troops, writing poems about the war’s end and love poems for Union soldiers’ sweethearts.
  Banks helps Horton publish Naked Genius; promotes book as a way for disabled Union veterans to make their fortunes
1866 GMH moves to Philadelphia; attempts to gain entry to literary society
1883 GMH dies, leaving no account of his final years. A manuscript of 229 pages, "The Museum," now lost.

Source: The Black Bard, ed. by Joan R. Sherman. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1997.


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