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Article

Linda M. Carter

domestic and restaurateur, was born on the Farrin plantation near Clayton, Alabama. She was the daughter of the Farrins' female cook and the male owner of a plantation located approximately two miles away from the Farrin plantation. Burton's mistress was persistent in her attempts to get Burton's father, who was from Liverpool, England, to acknowledge his daughter, but he ignored Burton whenever she was in his presence. During the Civil War, Burton's mother left the Farrin plantation and her children after an argument with her mistress led to her being whipped. Several years later, Burton and her siblings were reunited with their mother when she returned to the plantation after the war had ended and took her children to their new home. The Farrins demanded that Burton's mother return her children to them until she threatened to go to the Yankee headquarters. In 1866 the family moved to ...

Article

Peter Hinks

William Grimes was born enslaved in Virginia. His father was one of the wealthiest planters in the state, while his mother was the female slave of another local man, Dr. Steward. Grimes saw little of his mother because she was transferred to a distant household when he was still a child.

Grimes was owned at various times by no fewer than ten masters. His first years were spent in relatively easy labor in Dr. Steward's household. At age ten he was sold to Colonel William Thornton of Culpepper County Virginia thus beginning a long series of trials and journeys Employed variously as a valet house servant and farmhand Grimes would repeatedly detail in his autobiography the arbitrary and unpredictable labor and treatment to which he was subject With Grimes serving coffee to one master s family in the morning a jealous black cook sickened several family members by ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges

Born in rural Deptford Township, near Woodbury, New Jersey, Isaac Tatem Hopper was raised on a farm. His parents, Levi and Rachel Tatem Hopper, split between the Presbyterian and Quaker faiths, Levi practicing the former, Rachel the latter. Isaac joined the Society of Friends at the age of twenty-two. He became a staunch Whig after observing British looting of farms and resolved to fight servitude after hearing sad tales from black men of the slave trade and of flight from slavery.

Hopper married Sarah Tatum, a neighboring farm girl, in 1795. That same year he joined the Pennsylvania Abolition Society and taught black children and adults in a Quaker-sponsored school. In 1797 he began advising blacks about legal opportunities for emancipation in Pennsylvania as well as hiding runaways from southern states He combated slave kidnappers and struggled against the practice of buying them running by which agents ...

Article

John Ernest

author, businessman, and nurse, was born into slavery near Charlottesville, Virginia, the son of a white man and a black woman, possibly John and Susan Hughes. When he was about six years old, Hughes was sold with his mother and two brothers to Dr. Louis a physician in Scottsville Virginia When Dr Louis died young Hughes was sold with his mother and brother to Washington Fitzpatrick also of Scottsville who soon sent him then about eleven years old to Richmond on the pretense of hiring him out to work on a canal boat Parting with his mother at such a young age was difficult even more difficult was his realization that he would never see his mother again For Hughes this experience became the central symbol of the fundamental inhumanity of the system of slavery a symbol to which he returns at key points in ...

Article

John Saillant

Sancho was baptized as an infant in a Roman Catholic Church but confirmed as a youth in the Church of England. His baptismal name was Ignatius, while his surname came from his first owners in England, who fancifully named him after Don Quixote's servant in Miguel de Cervantes's famous novel. Charles Ignatius Sancho was the name he used in 1758 to sign his marriage certificate. Two volumes of his letters were gathered from their recipients and published in 1782, prefaced by Joseph Jekyll's Life of Ignatius Sancho; Jekyll undertook this work, from which virtually all biographical information on Sancho derives, after his acquaintance Samuel Johnson, the poet, critic, and compiler of A Dictionary of the English Language, failed to fulfill his intention to write Sancho's biography himself. Additional information survives in vital records, as do a few comments from such contemporaries as Johnson.

Jekyll wrote that ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanwriter whose letters, published posthumously in 1782, became best‐seller, attracting 1,181 subscribers including the Prime Minister, Lord North.

Sancho was born on board a slave ship en route to the West Indies. His mother died soon after, of a tropical disease, and his father chose to commit suicide rather than endure slavery. Sancho was brought to England by his master, at the age of 2 or 3, and given to three maiden sisters living in Greenwich. The sisters named him Sancho, thinking he resembled Don Quixote's squire. They kept him in ignorance, not teaching him to read or write. He was rescued by the Duke of Montagu who lived nearby in Blackheath The Duke encountering the boy by accident took a liking to his frankness of manner and frequently took him home where the Duchess introduced him to the world of books and of high culture He ...

Article

Jeannine DeLombard

Smith, Venture (1729?–19 September 1805), slave, entrepreneur, and autobiographer, also known as Broteer Venture, was born in Dukandarra, Guinea, the eldest child of Saungm Furro, a prince. His mother, whose name is unknown, was the first of his polygynist father’s three wives; she took five-year-old Broteer and her two younger children with her when she left her husband to protest his marrying the third wife without her consent. After traveling for five days over about 140 miles, she left Broteer with a farmer before returning to the country where she was born. This farmer treated Broteer like a son, employing him for a year as a shepherd, until the boy was sent for by his father. Returning to Dukandarra, Broteer found his mother and father reconciled.

This domestic peace was soon interrupted however by the sudden invasion of a hostile army instigated and equipped by Europeans Although ...

Article

Jeannine DeLombard

Venture Smith, also known as Broteer Venture, was born in Dukandarra, Guinea, the eldest child of Saungm Furro, a prince. His mother, whose name is unknown, was the first of his polygynist father's three wives. She took five-year-old Broteer and her two younger children when she left her husband to protest his marrying the third wife without her consent. After traveling for five days over about 140 miles, she left Broteer with a farmer before returning to the country where she was born. The farmer treated Broteer like a son, employing him for a year as a shepherd, until the boy's father sent for him. Returning to Dukandarra, Broteer found that his mother and father had reconciled.

This domestic peace was soon interrupted however by the sudden invasion of a hostile army instigated and equipped by Europeans Although Broteer s father paid tribute the entire community was ...

Article

Margot Minardi

Boston freedwoman, was born in Africa. Spear is known to scholars primarily through the Memoir of Mrs. Chloe Spear, written by “A Lady of Boston” in 1832. According to the Memoir, Spear was kidnapped from the African coast when she was about twelve years old. Her captors carried her to a slave ship headed for Philadelphia, where Captain John Bradford purchased her and took her to his home in Boston.

Bradford was a merchant and, during the American Revolution, the Continental agent for Massachusetts. The Memoir depicts him as a harsh master and Chloe as an obedient slave. For the deeply religious author of the Memoir Bradford s most reprehensible fault was his failure to bring up his slaves in the Christian faith Bradford also claimed that it made negroes saucy to know how to read Lady of Boston 26 When he discovered that Chloe ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

Chloe Spear was born in Africa. At about the age of twelve, while she was playing on the shore, she and three or four other children were captured by a band of white men who had hidden in the bushes nearby. They were transported to a slave ship for passage to the American colonies and arrived in Philadelphia. Too sick to be an attractive purchase, she went unsold at a slave market while her childhood companions were dispersed to various buyers. Eventually, a Mr. B. of Boston bought the young slave to serve as a household worker.

In this era the state of Massachusetts attempted to promote Christianity by forcing masters to rest slaves on the Sabbath Mr B permitted his slaves including Spear to attend church services for half of Sunday Like the others Spear lacked a strong enough command of English to understand the services The slaves ...

Article

Floyd Ogburn

farmer, was born a slave in Southampton County, Virginia. Almost nothing is known of his parents, who were also slaves. Until his nineteenth or twentieth birthday he belonged to a Dr. Seaman, who also owned his mother and father. In August 1841 Walker's master sold him to Natt Blake and General Downs, who kept him and six hundred other slaves in a slave pen in Petersburg, Virginia, pending transportation to cotton farms in the Deep South. After penning the slaves for six weeks amid “echoes and groans,” Blake and Downs marched them aboard the Pellican, which immediately sailed to New Orleans, Walker never seeing or hearing from his parents again (Gaines, 10).

The Pellican a floating carcass on the sea held six hundred slaves like cattle among toxic air and cholera It reached New Orleans six weeks after departing Petersburg losing thirty six of its human ...

Article

Jacob Andrew Freedman

slave-narrative author, businessman, and entrepreneur, was born in King George, Virginia, one of five children. Little is known about Isaac's parents except that his father was a free man. His mother's status is unknown. It is believed, although not certain, that as a boy Isaac served not as a slave but as an indentured servant. However, when Isaac's father was presented with the choice of either being enslaved or leaving for Liberia, he smuggled himself to England, parting ways with his family forever. Isaac was placed under the guardianship of John O. Washington owner of a plantation with over 700 slaves Williams had been meant to apprentice as a carpenter until the age of twenty one when he would have been responsible for deciding his own fate But Washington died when Williams was seventeen and although no new guardian was appointed he continued to live and ...

Article

Eric Gardner

entrepreneur and author of a slave narrative, was born John Thomas Evans in Elkton, Cecil County, Maryland. According to his narrative, which is the source of most of the biographical information available about his life, he was born the slave of Thomas Moore, who owned his mother Abigail. When he was a child, he and his mother were sold to William Hollingsworth; soon after, Abigail ran away. One of her daughters, left with Moore, also attempted to escape from slavery but failed. James Williams lived with Hollingsworth until he was thirteen. One day, after being punished especially severely and threatened with sale to Georgia, he took one of Hollingsworth's horses and gradually made his way north to the area around Somerset, Pennsylvania. There he was reunited with his mother, who had married William Jourdan.

Taking the name James Williams he worked several jobs mostly tied to agriculture ...