Fear of Insurrection, from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)
The memoir Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself is one of the most important autobiographies of its time. Written by Harriet Jacobs (c. 1813–1897) under the pseudonym of Linda Brent, Incidents is known mainly for its surprisingly frank discussion of gender roles and sexuality in the era of slavery. It also discusses the threat of violence that slaves had to endure until it became almost routine. “It was always custom to have a muster every year,” Jacobs writes, referring to the militia activity in her community following the Nat Turner insurrection. In chapter twelve of her book, reproduced below, Jacobs describes the campaign of terror and public humiliation that slaveholders conducted in retaliation for the revolt.