Antoine-Guillaume Amo (a.k.a. Anthony William Amo; Anton Wilhelm Amo)


Antoine-Guillaume Amo was born in 1703 at a small fishing village near Axim in what is now the Western Region of Ghana. He arrived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands not as a slave, but with the consent of his parents through the Netherlands African Company and the preacher Johannes van der Star. In Amsterdam at age 4, he was presented as a gift to the reigning Duke of Brumswick-Wolfenbuttel, who in turn entrusted little Amo to his son, Augustus William. He was baptized on July 29, 1708 at the Saltzthal Castle Chapel through the sponsorship of two noble Dukes, Anton Ulrich and his son Augustus William and assumed the names Antoine-Guillaume.

Antoine-Guillaume Amo was put through school by his adopted father and family in Wolfenbuttel and was admitted to the Prussian University as a student of Philosophy and Jurisprudence. He matriculated on June 9, 1727 under the Chancellorship of Professor of Medicine, Michael Albertini. Amo is

also believed to have attended the University of Helmstedt (the Brumswick State University). He became a motivational speaker and gave public lectures on complicated and controversial issues in the Greek,

Latin, French, Dutch, Hebrew, and German languages. He defended his thesis De Jure Maurorum in Europa in 1729 at a public disputation with the Chancellor of the University, Professor Johanna Peter von Ludwig at the University of Halle. The latter became very influential and role model in the former’s

life. After his thesis, Amo was promoted to the academic degree of a Candidate of the Laws. Professor Antoine-Guillaume Amo obtained a Master’s degree in Philosophy and the Liberal Arts in 1730 at the University of Wittenberg while Immanuel Kant was a small boy. He obtained a Doctorate in Philosophy

few years later. Professor Amo taught and influenced Kant who was to become one of the greatest philosophers of all time. Amo was chosen to lead a procession (like a proud Senior Marshal in contemporary college graduation) when Emperor Frederick of Prussia visited Halle in 1733.

He published two solo dissertations in 1734, one between the borderline of medicine and psychology, (logic, metaphysics, physiology, geomancy, astronomy, theory of codes, and palmistry) which earned him the envious and prestigious spot as a university lecturer. He also argued that sensation was not

a mental faculty. Amo was a rationalist philosopher after Leibnitz, whom as a boy he had met at the Duke of Brunswick’s. His magnum opus believed to have covered the entire field of Logic (theory of knowledge, metaphysics, etc.) was developed between 1734 and 1737 and published the following year. In the 1739 – 40 academic year, Amo lectured at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Jena. (He had earlier done same at the Universities of Wittenberg and Halle). His success in Germany propelled him to be nominated and appointed Councilor at Court of the Prussian King on or about 1740.

In 1753 Amo returned to his native home of Axim, in then Gold Coast. He retreated into seclusion at Shama, about 52 miles east of Axim and developed interest in the art of goldsmith. He learned on arrival that his brother had been sold into slavery and sent to what is now Surinam. Amo died on March 3, 1756, allegedly of boredom.

This article was first published in Amandla in November, 2011

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