No Binding. Very Good. small quarto, one page, plus address leaf, folded, in very good clean condition. John Dungy was a Free Black New York shoemaker, who became a founding father of the African American church. Dungy writes: "Mr. Prince, Sir I received the role of Leather No 2 you need not send eny more until you see me as I exspect be down in two or three weekes with a hansom lott of shoes for you - I have the greater part now made but if you have an opportunity of getting a cheap lott of light soal leather you may on a cheap lote morocco - I am yours Affectionately John Dungy" This letter was written by John Dungy, a free black man who, three months after he wrote this letter, opened a "Cheap Shoe Store" at 24 Chatham Street, New York City, next door to the New York Free School (which, incidentally, had some Black students, separate from the New York African Free School that "charitably" educated freed slaves). In newspaper advertisements, John Dungy declared that "the public shall no longer be imposed on by the exorbitant prices charged for boots and shoes in Broadway"; his cheaper prices making it "unnecessary to make use of extortion towards a generous public." After a year, with his business failing, Dungy moved across the street, hoping to appeal exclusively to the "female portion of his customers." But he soon closed or sold the store and turned to a new vocation: Dungy joined James Varick, another free Black ex-shoemaker, and white Rev. William Stilwell in preaching at the first service of the first African Methodist Episcopal church in New York, founded by Varick. Later that month, Dungy attended a meeting at Varick's home to debate whether Black Methodist preachers should remain subject to white Methodist domination, should be ordained by a splinter group of white Methodists led by Stilwell, or establish their own church organization. This question was still unsettled when Dungy (described in one contemporary account as a "contentious person") went back to New Haven and applied to the white Methodist establishment there for a license to preach, while, at the same time, urging local African Americans "to put themselves under the white Methodists government". This "caused some uneasiness" among African Americans in New Haven and promoted a permanent factional split in the growing ranks of African Methodists. But Dungy supported Varick's ultimate decision to opt for a completely separate African Methodist Episcopal Church organization, of which Varick became the first "Supervisor" - later called "Bishop." Dungy himself went on to become Pastor of an A.M.E. congregation in Troy, New York, where he probably remained for the rest of his life. John Dungy is hard to trace in historical records. There is no published historical record of Dungy before he joined Varick in 1820 or after he settled in Troy in the early 1830s. In Virginia there were both free Blacks and Slaves (said to be mixed race grandchildren of President John Tyler) named Dungy, including another Rev. John Dungy, who escaped to Canada thanks to Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad. But there is no clear link between the Virginia Dungy's and the New York shoemaker and church pioneer. This may be the only existing letter in his hand. (Inventory #: 030137)
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