Martin Delany was born free in Charlestown, Virginia, on May 6, 1812.
His parents traced their ancestry to West African royalty.
At the age of 40 Delany began the practice of medicine, which he would continue on and off for the rest of his life. Despite his bitter opposition to the American Colonization Society and its colony, Liberia, Delany kept open the possibility of settling elsewhere in Africa.
But with the publication of his book The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered (1852; reprinted, 1968), he began to agitate for a separate nation, trying to get African Americans to settle outside the United States, possibly in Africa, but more probably in Canada or Latin America. His 1859-1860 visit to the country of the Yorubas (now part of Nigeria) to negotiate with local kings for settling African Americans there is summarized in The Official Report of the Niger Valley Exploring Party (1861; reprinted, 1969).
It was discovered in a large box of early, hand drawn slides and a lantern.