On August 29, 1899, a lawsuit against Paul Laurence Dunbar was discontinued by the agreement of all parties involved. The case arose months earlier when Paul was scheduled to recite his poetry in Albany, New York. He was supposed to appear on stage alongside mayor Thomas Van Alstyne and governor Theodore Roosevelt.
Governor Roosevelt will be present and introduce Paul Laurence Dunbar on the occasion of his visit to this city on Monday evening, May 1, at Jermain Hall. Mr. Dunbar will give readings from his poems and make the evening a very delightful one. Mayor Van Alstyne has kindly consented to be present with Governor Roosevelt on that occasion. Messrs. J. E. Bruce and Editor F. Z. S. Peregrino have charge of the arrangements for Mr. Dunbar's visit to Albany.
"The Dunbar Entertainment." The Times-Union (Albany, New York). April 25, 1899.
Paul Laurence Dunbar will be greeted by one of the most fashionable and cultured audiences he has ever appeared before. Mr. Dunbar will find that he is a favorite with the cultured people of Albany when he appears before them. The affair will be under the management of J. E. Bruce and F. Z. S. Peregrino, editor of the Spectator.
The Colored American (Washington, D. C.). April 22, 1899.
First Public Appearance in Albany of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Poet.
Author of: Majors and Minors, Lyrics of Lowly Life, The Uncalled, and other works, who will read from his own poems in Jermain Hall, Monday Evening, May 1, 1899.
Prices of Admission, 25, 50, 75 cents.
Doors open at 7:30. Exercises begin at 8:15.
Managers. J. E. Bruce, F. Z. S. Peregrino.
Albany recital promotional flyer, 1899. Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 4).
Shortly before his scheduled appearance in Albany, Paul became critically ill with pneumonia in New York City.
Paul Dunbar, the well-known poet who was to have lectured in Jermain Hall last night will not be heard until some future date. Dr. P. A. Johnson telegraphed John E. Bruce, who with F. Z. S. Peregrino had the lecture charge, that Mr. Dunbar was ill in New York with pneumonia. A large audience visited Jermain Hall last night where Mr. Peregrino announced that the lecture would not take place. Tickets for the lecture can be redeemed or they will be good when Mr. Dunbar appears. Messrs. Bruce and Peregrino deeply regret that Mr. Dunbar was unable to come to Albany and will endeavor to have him come as soon as his health will permit.
"Paul Dunbar Didn't Appear." The Albany Evening Journal (Albany, New York). May 2, 1899. Page 1.
Francis Zaccharius Santiago Peregrino was a Black journalist who was born in Ghana and educated in England. John Edward Bruce was a formerly enslaved person who became a newspaper writer and publisher, using the pen name "Bruce Grit." They took Paul to court over his failure to appear in Albany.
Paul Laurence Dunbar has been sued by Francis Z. S. Peregrino and John E. Bruce of this city for $150 for alleged violation of contract. He contracted to give readings here last spring, but didn't appear.
"In Brief Form. Matters of Local Interest Told in a Line or Two." The Albany Evening Journal (Albany, New York). August 19, 1899. Page 8.
The plaintiffs hold that the agreement was that in case the defendant should fail to appear and give the readings or in case the readings should be postponed, the defendant was to defray the expenses incurred by the plaintiffs in advertising, etc. Mr. Dunbar failed to appear and give the readings as had been arranged, therefore the plaintiffs claim $150 with interest and costs to recompense them for their expenditures.
Albany Argus. (Albany, New York). August 19, 1899.
Mr. Dunbar did not appear and as the result numerous summons have been applied to him to refund the amount they paid out to advertise him. This he has failed to do.
"Colored Poet Sued." The Knickerbocker News (Albany, New York). August 19, 1899.
Ultimately the case was discontinued on stipulation, which means that the parties involved settled the lawsuit.
These orders were granted:
Francis Z. S. Peregrino and another against Paul Laurence Dunbar. Order of discontinuance on stipulation.
"She Fell Down a Stoop." The Albany Evening Journal (Albany, New York). August 29, 1899. Page 2.
Years later, after newspapers around the country reported that Paul was dying from tuberculosis, John E. Bruce wrote him a letter of concern. Paul responded kindly from his home in Dayton.
Don't you believe that I'm going to die yet awhile, and yet I thank you for all your prayers. I see something of yours every once in a while, and am always glad because it seems to connect me again with the old life.
Paul Laurence Dunbar to John E. Bruce, October 11, 1904. Calendar of the Manuscripts in the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature. Historical Records Survey, Work Projects Administration (New York, New York). 1942. Page 254, Item 1451.