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John Jacob Thomas’s mid-nineteenth-century career exemplifies the contradictions of the post-abolition period. A schoolteacher who authored Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar (1869) and Froudacity: West Indian Fables Explained (1888), he parsed, literally and symbolically, the grammar of freedom. What did it mean to be free in a world in which non-whiteness was synonymous with servitude, and in which blackness and intellect were considered to be oxymoronic? Thomas’s efforts to vindicate 'freedom’s children' – the successors of the generation of enslavement – shed light on conceptions of mimicry, respectability, and literary and political authority that continue to shadow our postcolonial moment.
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