The Life and Letters of Philip Quaque, the First African Anglican Missionary

Edited by Vincent Carretta and Ty M. Reese

An important African voice in the transatlantic networks of the eighteenth-century world


“The publication of Philip Quaque’s correspondence is a major contribution to the growing literature on the writing of the African Diaspora—until recently thought to be a contradiction in terms. Carretta and Reese are model scholars in the field, digging deep to illuminate the cross-cultural currents not only of trade but also of religion and literacy, and how each buoyed yet challenged transatlantic slavery.”
—Henry Louis Gates Jr.

“The editors have done an extraordinary and important job of introducing Philip Quaque’s voice to a new generation of readers. They have set the bar very high for others preparing editions of the correspondence and writings of Quaque’s contemporaries in this period of fertile circum-Atlantic exchange.”
International Bulletin of Missionary Research

This is the first edition of the correspondence of Philip Quaque, a prolific writer of African descent whose letters provide a unique perspective on the effects of the slave trade and its abolition in Africa.

Born around 1740 at Cape Coast, in what is now Ghana, Quaque was brought to England by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In 1765 he became the first African ordained as an Anglican priest. He returned to Africa and served for fifty years as the society’s missionary and also as chaplain to the Company of Merchants Trading to Africa (CMTA) at Cape Coast Castle, the principal slave-trading site of the CMTA.

Quaque sent more than fifty letters to London and North America reporting on his successes and failures, his relationships with European and African authorities, and his observations on the effects of the American and French revolutions on Africa. The regular references to his African mission in popular magazines made Quaque well known in the English-speaking world. Initially writing when the transatlantic slave trade went largely unquestioned, Quaque in his later letters traces the period of abolitionist fervor leading up to the ban in 1808. Although his employers supported and facilitated slavery, Quaque’s letters reveal his evolving opposition to both slavery and the slave trade, particularly in his correspondence with early abolitionists.

Quaque’s life offers a fascinating perspective on transatlantic identity, missionary activity, precolonial European involvement in Africa, the early abolition movement, and Cape Coast society.



Race in the Atlantic World, 1700-1900

Page count: 240 pp.
3 b&w photos; 1 map
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $26.95

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Vincent Carretta is a professor of English at the University of Maryland. He is the author or editor of more than ten books, including scholarly editions of the writings of Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho, and Ottobah Cugoano. His most recent book is Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man, which won the Annibel Jenkins Prize. Ty M. Reese is an associate professor of history at the University of North Dakota. He has published articles on Philip Quaque, Cape Coast and the British castle there, and the CMTA.