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Alexander, Archer  

Diane Mutti Burke

fugitive slave, was born near Richmond, Virginia, on a plantation owned by the Delaney family. Despite his memories of being well treated, his father, Aleck, was sold to pay his master's debts and taken south. Rev. Delaney justified Aleck's sale by claiming that the literate slave had shared ideas about freedom with other slaves in the neighborhood. When Rev. Delaney died in 1831, Alexander's mother, Chloe, was left to Mrs. Delaney, and eighteen-year-old Alexander was left to the master's son, Thomas. Chloe Alexander died six months after Thomas Delaney took her son with him to Missouri.

Delaney settled in western St Charles County Missouri where Alexander married a local slave woman named Louisa He later sold Alexander to Louisa s master Jim Hollman when he moved from the state and the couple spent the next twenty years living with their growing family on the Hollman farm Alexander was ...

Article

Anderson, John  

Patrick Brode

fugitive slave and abolitionist, was originally named Jack Burton after his enslaver, a Missouri planter. His parents are unknown. Raised in his master's household, Anderson (the name he used in later life) eventually supervised other slaves and farmed his own small plot. In 1850 he married Maria Tomlin, a fellow slave from a nearby farm, and devoted himself to buying their freedom. In the meantime he had become accustomed to visiting Maria at her plantation and was growing impatient with the restrictions of slavery. His master tried to curb his wandering, but Anderson refused to submit to the lash. When this resulted in his sale to a planter on the far side of the Missouri River, Anderson resolved to run off.

On 3 September 1853 the third day of his escape he encountered a planter Seneca Digges and four of his slaves By Missouri law Digges had the ...

Article

Baartman, Sara  

Jodie N. Mader

an enslaved woman from South Africa, placed on public display in nineteenth-century Britain and France, where she became known as the “Hottentot Venus.” “Hottentot” was a derogatory word used to describe groups now called “Khoisan” and likely derived from European disparagement of so-called click languages. She was born to a Khoisan family in an area north of the Gamtoos River valley in the eastern Cape Colony. Her name is written sometimes as “Saartjie” (Afrikaans); however, the Anglophone “Sara” is most commonly used. Her mother died when she was an infant, and her father was a cattle driver. A commando raid in 1810 by the Dutch Boers decimated her village, and Baartman, now orphaned, was sent to the Cape to be sold into slavery.

Pieter Cesars a freed black purchased her She became a nursemaid for his brother Hendrik Cesars and his wife Anna Catharina The British physician Alexander Dunlop saw ...

Article

Baartman, Sarah  

John Gilmore

Also known as Sara or Saartjie, and as Bartman (1788?–1815/16), a member of the Khoisan people of southern Africa, exhibited as a ‘freak’ in 19th‐century Britain. Her original name is unknown, but when she was employed by a Dutch farmer called Peter Cezar, she was given the Afrikaans name of Saartjie [Little Sarah] Baartman, and this was later Anglicized in various forms. In 1810 she was brought to Britain by Peter Cezar's brother Hendric [or Henrick], a Boer farmer at the Cape, and Alexander Dunlop, a British army surgeon. Dunlop soon sold his interest in the enterprise to Cezar, who made money by exhibiting Baartman in London and elsewhere in Britain under the name of ‘the Hottentot Venus’. ‘Hottentot’ was a traditional derogatory term for Khoisan people, while ‘Venus’ appears intended to refer to the idea of ‘the Sable Venus or more generally ...

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Badger, Roderick  

M. Cookie E. Newsom

dentist, was born a slave in the Panthersville District of Dekalb County, Georgia. His mother (name unknown) was a slave, and his father, J. D. Badger was a white dentist and also his master Roderick had several brothers including Robert and Ralph all of whom had the same white father but different mothers In many ways his life story can be seen as an example of the complex relationships between the races in the antebellum and postbellum South where the black and white societies were supposed to be separate but where mixed race children were common growing ever more numerous in the decade leading up to the Civil War As the son of his owner Badger enjoyed the privileges associated with that status including his eventual freedom and prosperity However his status as a mulatto and as a professional man did not protect him from many of the ...

Article

Barber, Francis  

Vincent Carretta

servant to Samuel Johnson, was the son of an unidentified enslaved woman in Jamaica. His father may have been his owner, Richard Bathurst, a colonel in the Jamaica militia. Barber’s slave name, Quashey, suggests that his mother may have come from the Akan-speaking area of Africa that is now Ghana. Quashey was one of only four slaves Colonel Bathurst kept when he sold his 2,600-acre sugar plantation and 140 slaves in Jamaica in 1749. Barber later recalled having been 7 or 8 years old when Colonel Bathurst brought him to London, England, in 1750 to live with his son, Dr. Richard Bathurst, a close friend of Samuel Johnson. Johnson was soon to become the most eminent man of letters in the British Empire.

Colonel Bathurst had Quashey baptized and renamed Francis Barber in London The date and place of his baptism are unknown He sent Barber to Yorkshire for ...

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Barberá, Ana Josefa  

Eduardo R. Palermo

was born in Africa in the mid-eighteenth century and brought to the River Plate region as a slave at an unknown date. After she was freed and purchased her own land, Barberá donated her property for the establishment of Tacuarembó, a city in northern Uruguay, in 1832. The donation represents the only documented case of a person of African descent contributing land for the subsequent founding of a town or city.

The existing historical record refers to Barberá as a freedwoman or “morena libre.” Until the late 1790s, she is registered as residing in rural northern Uruguay, with the respective landowner’s permission. She settled at the intersection of the Tranqueras and Tacuarembó Chico rivers, a site that became known among locals as “el rincón de Tía Ana” (Aunt Ana’s Corner). In July 1804 in Montevideo Barberá signed a commitment to officially purchase the plot of land with an ...

Article

Belle, Dido Elizabeth  

Asselin Charles

a mixed-race member of a noble Scottish family, was the illegitimate daughter of Captain John Lindsay of the Royal Navy and a slave of African origin, Maria Belle. Her parents met in the West Indies where Maria may have been captured from a Spanish ship. Belle may have spent part of her childhood in Pensacola, Florida, where Captain Lindsay was stationed for a year, from 1764 to 1765. He brought the child to England. His uncle, William Murray, first Earl of Mansfield, and his wife were childless. They were already raising another motherless great-niece, Elizabeth Murray, and they took Dido into their household, perhaps as a companion for Elizabeth. She was baptized on 20 November 1766 in St George s Bloomsbury London the parish church of Lord Mansfield s London house in Bloomsbury Square Her age is given as 5 years and her father is recorded as a ...

Article

Belley, Jean-Baptiste  

Philippe Girard

also known as Jean-Baptiste Mars or Timbaze, was a slave, freedman, officer, and deputy from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti). He was the first black deputy in the French Parliament and introduced the 1794 law that abolished slavery in the French colonies.

Belley’s origins are uncertain. By his own account, he was born on Gorée Island near present-day Senegal around 1747 and transported to Cap-Français (Cap-Haïtien) around the age of 2, presumably as part of the Atlantic slave trade. Another document, however, lists his birthplace as Léogane in 1755 Saint-Domingue. After obtaining his manumission, Belley, like many free people of color, acquired slaves. As a member of a Dominguan mixed-race unit, he may also have taken part in the 1779 siege of Savannah in support of the American Revolution, where he allegedly gained the warlike nickname of “Mars.”

Belley’s role during the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1789 ...

Article

Biassou, Georges/Jorge  

Jane G. Landers

former slave who became one of the leaders of the 1791 slave revolt on Saint-Domingue, was born on that French Caribbean island in the late eighteenth century. Biassou’s African-born mother, Diana, was a slave in Providence Hospital, affiliated with the Fathers of Charity, in the capital city of Cap-Français. Nothing is known of his father, Carlos. As an adult, Biassou served as a slave driver on a sugar estate owned by the Jesuit order in Haut de Cap. On 14 August 1791 Biassou joined other slave drivers at the Lenormand de Mézy plantation to plan the revolt that changed history. On 22 August 1791 several thousand slaves across the island’s northern plain set fire to the cane fields and great houses, and smashed the sugar-refining equipment on more than thousand plantations.

After the revolt s leader Boukman Dutty was killed Biassou assumed command of the slave armies sharing leadership with ...

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Brockden, Magadalene Beulah  

Katherine Faull

was born in the small West African nation of Popo in the first half of the eighteenth century. Beulah was captured by slave traders when she was ten years old. At the time of her birth, Popo was one of the very small African principalities on the so-called Slave Coast of West Africa. The exact route she followed to arrive in North America is still unknown, but she was eventually brought to Philadelphia, where she was purchased by Charles Brockden, the deputy master of the rolls of the Province of Pennsylvania, recorder of the deeds in Philadelphia, and one of the trustees of the First Moravian Church in Philadelphia.

From the time of his purchase of Beulah to tend his ailing wife Susannah née Fox Charles Brockden expressed concern for the enslaved teenager s spiritual well being In her memoir one of the earliest written by an African woman in ...

Article

Brown, John  

F. N. Boney

fugitive slave and slave narrative author, was born in Southampton County, Virginia, the son of slaves Joe and Nancy. For most of his life as a slave he was called Fed or Benford. When he was about ten years old he and his mother were moved to nearby Northampton County, North Carolina. Eighteen months later he was sold alone and sent to Georgia, never again to see any of his kinfolk.

Bought by the ambitious and quick-tempered Thomas Stevens, Fed grew to maturity on a farm in central Georgia near the state capital at Milledgeville. Stevens drove his slaves hard, often employing whippings and other brutal punishments. Gradually Stevens accumulated much land and more than twenty slaves, becoming a “planter” by federal census standards. In the 1820s Stevens expanded his family enterprises into DeKalb County near Cherokee territory in northwestern Georgia and when these Indians were driven west ...

Article

Browne, Dinah Hope  

Adele N. Nichols

escaped slave, was named Dinah, but was better known as Di. She was born on a plantation near Petersburg, Virginia, to Priscilla, a house servant, and Henry Hope, a slave owner, planter, and a partner in a clothing warehouse. Hope—a pseudonym provided by Browne in her dictated narrative—was understood to be Browne's father. He also fathered another child with Priscilla who died before Dinah's birth. Although Browne did not know her date of birth, researchers place Browne's birth year around 1815. After the death of Browne's mother from consumption when Browne was only six months, she was raised by her grandparents. Little is known about Browne's childhood; she started working at her slave owner's house when she was ten. Browne was repeatedly beaten for the littlest offense. For example, when Browne did not retrieve Hope's boots in a satisfactory period, he kicked her on her right thigh.

When Browne ...

Article

Bruce, Henry Clay  

Diane Mutti Burke

author of a slave narrative, was born to slave parents in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The Lemuel Bruce family, including Pettis and Rebecca (Bruce) Perkinson, owned Henry Bruce and his mother and siblings. Bruce's many siblings included his younger brother, Blanche Kelso Bruce, the senator from Mississippi from 1875 to 1881.

Bruce spent most of his early childhood years on plantations and farms in Virginia, Missouri, and—briefly—Mississippi. Pettis Perkinson brought Bruce, his mother, and siblings back to Chariton County, Missouri, where he permanently settled in 1850 From the age of nine Bruce was frequently hired out to other employers in the community and worked at a variety of occupations including brick making tobacco manufacturing and general farm labor Bruce had a self described desire to learn and was taught to read by his young owner and playmate William Perkinson The older Bruce children taught their younger siblings ...

Article

Caesar, John  

Kimberly Cheek

recognized as the first Australian bushranger and popularly known as Black Caesar, was born on the island of Madagascar, although the precise date and place of his birth are unknown, as is his birth name. “Caesar” was a common slave name and it is probable that he was given this name while enslaved in Virginia or South Carolina. Malagasy slaves (as the residents of Madagascar were known) were highly prized in those regions. He possibly fled to the British colonial lines during the American War of Independence in exchange for promises of emancipation, or a refugee Loyalist who fled to England after the cessation of the Revolutionary war in 1783 may have owned him. In the Book of Negroes which recorded the names of slaves who departed on British ships a small number are recorded as going to Spithead in England Among those noted were two young men aged ...

Article

Clay, Henry  

Kate Gigliotti-Gordon

Henry Clay was born in Hanover County, Virginia. His father, John, a Baptist minister, died in 1781. His mother married Henry Watkins the following year and followed her new husband to Kentucky. Henry Clay remained in Virginia, where he later studied law with George Wythe. Finishing his studies in 1797, Clay followed his family to Kentucky and settled outside of Lexington. There he married Lucretia Hart, the daughter of a prominent Kentucky businessman, on 11 April 1799 and purchased a plantation near Lexington, which he named Ashland. Clay and his wife had eleven children, although only four outlived their father. After a long and illustrious career, Clay died in Washington, D.C. He was buried in Lexington, Kentucky, where a statue to his memory stands.

Clay's national political career began in 1806 when the Kentucky legislature selected him to complete an unexpired term in the U S Senate ...

Article

Crioula, Mariana  

Mariana de Aguiar Ferreira Muaze

a Brazilian-born slave, accused of helping to lead a slave uprising that broke out in 1838 in Paty do Alferes, a coffee production center in the southeastern province of Rio de Janeiro, known as the Quilombo de Manuel Congo. Mariana was married to a slave named José, a field hand, and both were owned by Captain-Major Manoel Francisco Xavier (?–1840), a wealthy landowner of many coffee plantations and approximately five hundred slaves. Even though the captured slaves who participated in the revolt often referred to her as the “queen” of the quilombo (Maroon community), Mariana Crioula was acquitted of all charges in January 1839.

Crioula was a seamstress and worked as a maid for Francisca Elisa Xavier (1786–1865), the wife of Manoel Francisco Xavier, at the Maravilha fazenda plantation Despite her married status she lived and slept at the main house serving her mistress ...

Article

Dorsey, Basil  

Steve Strimer

self-emancipated slave and teamster, was born in Libertytown, in Frederick County, Maryland. The best evidence suggests that his father and mother, like Dorsey, were slaves of Sabrett (sometimes known as Sabrick) Sollers, though Sollers himself is several times mentioned as Dorsey's father. He had three brothers, Charles, William, and Thomas. Dorsey contended that his grandfather was from England and that he was, by rights, a free man. His escape from slavery is remarkably well documented for a case where no written narrative was produced.

Dorsey married Louisa, who may also have been a slave of Sollers, although several sources claim she was a free woman. She may have been manumitted by her second owner, Richard Coale. The couple had three children, the first of whom was Eliza, born 4 November 1834.

Dorsey was to have been freed upon the death of his owner ...

Article

Douglass, Anna Murray  

Judith E. Harper

wife of Frederick Douglass, antislavery activist, and Underground Railroad agent, was born free as Anna Murray in Denton, Caroline County, Maryland, the eighth child of Bambarra and Mary Murray, both slaves, who were freed one month prior to Anna's birth. When Anna Murray was seventeen years old, she traveled to Baltimore to work as a domestic servant, first for the Montell family, and two years later for the Wells family. Despite her own illiteracy, she became involved in a community known as the East Baltimore Improvement Society, which provided intellectual and social opportunities for the city's free black population.

In 1825Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (Douglass), a slave, was hired out to work as a house servant and then as a caulker in Baltimore's shipyards. He remained in Baltimore until 1838 during which time Murray and Bailey became acquainted probably through the Improvement Society Although details ...

Article

Dubois, Silvia  

Michael Berthold

backwoods legend, was born on Sourland Mountain, New Jersey, the daughter of Cuffy Baird, a Revolutionary War fifer who may have seen action at the battles of Trenton (1776) and Princeton (1777), and Dorcas Compton. Although they had different masters, both of Dubois's parents were slaves. Dubois may in part have inherited her own ferocious desire for freedom from her mother, who tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully to buy her own freedom. Dubois was owned by Dominicus (Minna) Dubois, a strict yet accommodating master much more congenial to Silvia than was his wife, who beat Silvia badly. Aside from Dubois's memories of moving as a young girl to the village of Flagtown and as a teenager to Great Bend, Pennsylvania, where her master kept a tavern, little biographical information exists about her childhood.

An imposing physical presence the adult Dubois stood approximately 5 10 ...