African or Black American history in literature began with Lucy Terry. In 1746, she became the the author of the oldest known work of literature by an African American. Her poem, “Bar’s Fight” covers a Native American attack on the village that she lived in Deerfield, Massachusetts. The poem was preserved orally until it was finally published in 1855.
Seventeen hundred forty-six
The Indians did in ambush lay
Some very valiant men to slay
The names of whom I’ll not leave out
Samuel Allen like a hero fout
And though he was so brave and bold
His face no more shall we behold.
Eleazer Hawks was killed outright
Before he had time to fight
Before he did the Indians see
Was shot and killed immediately.
Oliver Amsden he was slain
Which caused his friends much grief and pain.
Samuel Amsden they found dead
Not many rods off from his head.
Adonijah Gillet we do hear
Did lose his life which was so dear.
John Saddler fled across the water
And so escaped the dreadful slaughter.
Eunice Allen see the Indians comeing
And hoped to save herself by running
And had not her petticoats stopt her
The awful creatures had not cotched her
And tommyhawked her on the head
And left her on the ground for dead.
Young Samuel Allen, Oh! lack a-day
Was taken and carried to Canada.