By Sarah Kautz, Preservation Director, Preservation Long Island
Originally published October, 2018

Preservation Long Island has been introducing visitors to Jupiter Hammon, one of America’s earliest published Black authors, at Joseph Lloyd Manor House since the house opened to the public in the 1980s. Hammon’s life and writings offer an exceptionally nuanced view of slavery and freedom on Long Island before and after the American Revolution. His works are especially significant because most literature and historical documents from the 18th century were not written from an enslaved person’s point of view. Consequently, Hammon’s writing provides powerful insight into the experience of slavery, as well as the complexities of race in the newly formed United States.

Jupiter Hammon was recognized as America’s first published black poet after his poem, An Evening Thought, was discovered in the collection of the New-York Historical Society in 1905. Detail of image courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.

Jupiter Hammon was born on October 17, 1711, at Queens Village or Lloyd Neck, the colonial estate of Henry Lloyd (1685–1763). Remarkably, Hammon became one of the few slaves taught to read and write during the 18th century. Later in life, Hammon resided at Joseph Lloyd Manor, where his most well-known works were written. Hammon served four generations of the Lloyd family and lived a long life into his 90s.

Jupiter Hammon lived at Joseph Lloyd Manor, a handsome center hall colonial building that was the seat of a 3,000-acre estate occupied by the British during the Revolutionary War. Built by Connecticut craftsmen in 1766-67 for Joseph Lloyd (1716–1780), the house remained in the Lloyd family until 1876.

Literacy gave Hammon the freedom to explore ideas and express himself intellectually. Hammon’s earliest poem, An Evening Thought, was printed in broadside around 1761. In addition to authoring two unpublished poems found at Yale University in 2011 and the New-York Historical Society in 2015, he published at least six poems and three essays during his lifetime. Of course, more poems and essays by Jupiter Hammon could yet be found!

Joseph Lloyd Manor is open Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day on Sundays, 1–5 PM, and by appointment. Preservation Long Island also offers a variety of on-site educational programs. For more information, please contact Preservation Long Island at (631) 692-4664. **Due to COVID-19, Joseph Lloyd Manor is closed to the public until further notice.**

Tours of the Henry Lloyd House are available by appointment only. For more information, please contact the Lloyd Harbor Historical Society at (631) 424-6110 or [email protected]

Explore some of the fascinating people and places in Jupiter Hammon’s world with our interactive story map (click on the image below):

In addition to Jupiter Hammon’s writings, members of his extended family are remarkably well-documented in the records of the Lloyd family and other archival sources.