William Apess: A Brief Biography

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William Apess William Apess was an advocate for the rights of his Native American people. According to the Norton Anthology he was the first Native American to write and publish an autobiography( 1051). Apess was born into an ancestry that struggled with their freedom and equality, however Apess became one of several Native Americans who is remembered for his literary talents and skill(Brown). Although there is some controversy about the whereabouts of Apess birth, most critics believe that Apess was born on January 31, 1798 in Colrain Massachusetts. He was born to his father William, a descendent of King Phillip, and a shoemaker and his mother Candace, who was a Pequot and it is said that she may have been part African American (Brown).…show more content…
The Literary Encyclopedia states that he was moved into the home of his alcoholic grandparents where he suffered severe and fatal beatings. Not long after, at about age four or five, Apess was sold into indentured servitude (Gordon). Apess describes the lifestyle he lived as an indentured laborer, and the experiences he had at such a young age. His autobiographers believe that as an indentured servant he was able to receive about six years of formal education, which completed his schooling(Gordon). Once Apess reached about the age of thirteen he decided to run away from his life as an indentured laborer(Barber). In his biography he speaks of running away to join in the war of 1812. During this time Apess was not only fighting battles in the war, but he was also dealing with battling his alcoholism. The Literary Encyclopedia explains that by the time of the Second Great Awakening, Apess returns home to reunite with his family and his Pequot tribe(Gordon). Here he begins to get involved in the Methodist religion, and also attending Methodists meetings of the local Methodist group(Gordon). This will influence Apess and his aspirations of becoming a minister. William Apess begins working as a “lay” preacher, however his father as well as the Methodist circuit leader opposed Apess’ preaching. In “A Son of the Forest,”…show more content…
It consists of five testimonies, that continuously portray the struggles of the Pequot as people and tribal members. In the first testimony of this book, William Apess forcefully confronts the white race with their racism against him and his Native American people. His wife also shares a testimony in this book, as she explains her parents, and also gives the readers her view on religion and God, and how her life is influenced by God. Apess also includes an essay, “An Indian’s Looking Glass for a White Man.” in the essay Apess questions the hypocrisy the white Christians possess. He also states that the world is full of people of color, and reminds them of the non-white identity of Jesus
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