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African American Voices


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Table of Contents

List of Figures x

Series Editors’ Preface xi

Preface to the New Edition xiii

Preface xv

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 ‘‘Death’s Gwineter Lay His Cold Icy Hands on Me’’: Enslavement 40

1 A European Slave Trader, John Barbot, Describes the African Slave Trade (1682) 42

2 A Muslim Merchant, Ayubah Suleiman Diallo, Recalls His Capture and Enslavement (1733) 45

3 An Employee of Britain’s Royal African Company Describes the Workings of the Slave Trade (1738) 48

4 Olaudah Equiano, an 11-Year-Old Ibo from Nigeria, Remembers His Kidnapping into Slavery (1789) 49

5 A Scottish Explorer, Mungo Park, Offers a Graphic Account of the African Slave Trade (1797) 51

6 Venture Smith Relates the Story of His Kidnapping at the Age of Six (1798) 52

Chapter 2 ‘‘God’s A-Gwineter Trouble de Water’’: The Middle Passage and Arrival 57

1 A European Slave Trader, James Barbot, Jr., Describes a Shipboard Revolt by Enslaved Africans (1700) 59

2 Olaudah Equiano, Who Was Born in Eastern Nigeria, Describes the Horrors of the Middle Passage (1789) 62

3 A Doctor, Alexander Falconbridge, Describes Conditions on an English Slaver (1788) 65

4 Olaudah Equiano Describes His Arrival in the New World (1789) 70

5 An English Physician, Alexander Falconbridge, Describes the Treatment of Newly Arrived Slaves in the West Indies (1788) 71

Chapter 3 ‘‘A Change is Gonna Come’’: Slavery in the Era of the American Revolution 74

1 The Poet Phillis Wheatley Writes about Freedom and Equal Rights (1774) 75

2 Massachusetts Slaves Petition for Freedom (1774) 76

3 Virginia’s Royal Governor Promises Freedom to Slaves Who Join the British Army (1775) 78

4 Virginia’s Assembly Denounces Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation (1775) 79

5 Connecticut Slaves Petition for Freedom (1779) 80

6 Boston King, a Black Loyalist, Seeks Freedom Behind British Lines (1798) 82

7 A Participant in Gabriel’s Rebellion Explains Why He Took Part in the Attempted Insurrection (1812) 84

8 Gabriel’s Brother Explains the Rebellion’s Objectives (1800) 84

9 President Thomas Jefferson Tries to Arrange for the Deportation of Men Involved in Gabriel’s Rebellion (1802) 85

Chapter 4 ‘‘We Raise de Wheat, Dey Gib Us de Corn’’: Conditions of Life 87

1 A Free Black Kidnapped from New York, Solomon Northrup, Describes the Working Conditions of Slaves on a Louisiana Cotton Plantation (1853) 88

2 Charles Ball, a Slave in Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia, Compares Working Conditions on Tobacco
and Cotton Plantations (1858) 89

3 Josiah Henson, a Maryland Slave, Describes Slave Housing, Diet, and Clothing (1877) 91

4 Francis Henderson, Who Was a Slave near Washington, D.C., Describes Living Conditions Under Slavery (1856) 93

5 A South Carolina Slave, Jacob Stroyer, Recalls the Material Conditions of Slave Life (1898) 94

6 A Former Virginia Slave, James Martin, Remembers a Slave Auction (1937) 95

7 Elizabeth Keckley, Born into Slavery in Virginia, Describes a Slave Sale (1868) 96

Chapter 5 ‘‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’’: Visual History of Slavery 98

1 The Inspection and Sale of an African Captive Along the West African Coast (1854) 99

2 An Illustration of the Layout of a Slave Ship (1807) 100

3 Enslaved Africans on the Deck of a Slave Ship (1860) 102

4 Two Slave Sale Advertisements (1859, c.1780s) 103

5 A Fugitive Slave Advertisement (1774) 105

6 An Illustration of a Slave Auction at Richmond, Virginia (1856) 107

7 Five Generations of a Slave Family (c.1850s) 108

8 An Engraving Illustrating Nat Turner’s Insurrection (c.1831) 109

9 A Plantation Manual Offers Detailed Instructions to Overseers about How They Are to Treat Nursing Mothers (1857–1858) 110

10 African Americans in Baltimore Celebrate the Ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, Extending the Vote to Black Men (1870) 111

Chapter 6 ‘‘O Mother Don’t You Weep’’: Women, Children, and Families 114

1 Harriet Jacobs Describes Her Efforts to Escape Verbal, Physical, and Sexual Abuse (1861) 115

2 Bethany Veney Describes How She Aborted a Slave Sale (1889) 119

3 Susie King Taylor Escapes to Freedom During the Civil War (1902) 121

4 Jacob Stroyer Recalls the Formative Experiences of His Childhood (1898) 123

5 James W. C. Pennington Analyzes the Impact of Slavery upon Childhood (1849) 126

6 Lunsford Lane Describes the Moment When He First Recognized the Meaning of Slavery (1842) 128

7 Laura Spicer Learns that Her Husband, Who Had Been Sold Away, Has Taken Another Wife (1869) 130

8 An Overseer Attempts to Rape Josiah Henson’s Mother (1877) 132

9 Lewis Clarke Discusses the Impact of Slavery on Family Life (1846) 135

Chapter 7 ‘‘Go Home to My Lord and Be Free’’: Religion 138

1 Olaudah Equiano, from Eastern Nigeria, Describes West African Religious Beliefs and Practices (1789) 139

2 Charles Ball, a Slave in Maryland, Remembers a Slave Funeral, which Incorporated Traditional African Customs (1837) 142

3 Peter Randolph, a Former Virginia Slave, Describes the Religious Gatherings Slaves Held Outside of Their Masters’ Supervision (1893) 142

4 Henry Bibb, Who Toiled in Slavery in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Arkansas, Discusses ‘‘Conjuration’’ (1849) 145

Chapter 8 ‘‘Oppressed So Hard They Could Not Stand’’: Punishment 148

1 Frederick Douglass, a Fugitive Slave from Maryland, Describes the Circumstances that Prompted Masters to Whip Slaves (1845) 149

2 Elizabeth Keckley of Virginia Describes a Lashing She Received (1868) 150

3 John Brown, Born into Slavery in Virginia, Has Bells and Horns Fastened on His Head (1855) 152

4 William Wells Brown, a Missouri Slave Driver, Is Tied Up in a Smokehouse (1847) 153

5 Moses Roper, a Slave in Georgia and the Carolinas, Is Punished for Attempting to Run Away (1837) 154

6 A Kentucky Slave, Lewis Clarke, Describes the Implements His Mistress Used to Beat Him (1846) 155

Chapter 9 ‘‘Let My People Go’’: Resistance and Flight 157

1 Frederick Douglass Resists a Slave Breaker (1845) 158

2 Nat Turner, a Baptist Preacher in Virginia, Describes His Revolt Against Slavery (1831) 163

3 Harriet Tubman, a Former Maryland Slave, Sneaks into the South to Free Slaves (1872) 167

4 Harriet Tubman’s Life and Methods for Liberating Slaves (1863, 1865) 169

5 Levi Coffin, the ‘‘President’’ of the Underground Railroad, Assists Fugitives to Escape Slavery (1876) 172

6 A Maryland Slave, Margaret Ward, Follows the North Star to Freedom (1879) 174

7 Frederick Douglass Borrows a Sailor’s Papers to Escape Slavery (1855, 1895) 177

8 Henry ‘‘Box’’ Brown of Virginia Escapes Slavery in a Sealed Box (1872) 179

9 Margaret Garner, a Fugitive Slave from Kentucky, Kills Her Daughter Rather Than See Her Returned to Slavery (1876) 181

Chapter 10 ‘‘The Walls Came Tumblin’ Down’’: Emancipation 184

1 Hannah Johnson, the Mother of a Black Soldier, Pleads with President Abraham Lincoln Not to Rescind the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) 185

2 Private Thomas Long Assesses the Meaning of Black Military Service During the Civil War (1870) 186

3 Corporal Jackson Cherry Appeals for Equal Opportunity for Former Slaves (1865) 187

4 Jourdon Anderson, a former Tennessee Slave, Declines His Former Master’s Invitation to Return to His Plantation (1865) 188

5 Major General Rufus Saxon Assesses the Freedmen’s Aspirations (1866) 190

6 Colonel Samuel Thomas Describes the Attitudes of Ex-Confederates Toward the Freedmen (1865) 191

7 Francis L. Cardozo of South Carolina Asks for Land for the Freedmen (1868) 192

8 The Rev. Elias Hill Is Attacked by the Ku Klux Klan (1872) 193

9 Henry Blake, a Former Arkansas Slave, Describes Sharecropping (1937) 194

10 Frederick Douglass Assesses the Condition of the Freedmen (1880) 195

Bibliographical Essay 198

Bibliography 204

Index 236

About the Author

Steven Mintz is Professor of History and Director, American Cultures Program, at the University of Houston. His thirteen books include Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life (1988; co-authored with Susan Kellogg); and a major interpretation of antebellum reform, Moralists & Modernizers: America's Pre-Civil War Reformers (1995). His most recent book, Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood, received the Association of American Publishers R.R. Hawkins Award for the Outstanding Scholarly Book of 2004; the Organization of American Historians 2004 Merle Curti Award for the best book in social history; and the Texas Institute of Letters Carr P. Collins Award for the best non-fiction book of 2004.


"African American Voices is a wonderfully conceptualized compilation of first hand testimony on a broad range of topics related to American slavery and slave resistance. It is an enormously valuable contribution." ?James Oliver Horton, Benjamin Banneker Professor of American Studies and History at George Washington University and Historian Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, co-author of Slavery and the Making of America and co-editor of Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory "African American Voices represents a remarkably informative, deeply moving, very readable collection of key primary documents on the history of slavery and freedom, thoughtfully assembled and skillfully introduced by master historian Steven Mintz. ? Highly recommended!" ?James Kirby Martin, Distinguished University Professor of History, University of Houston, and editor of Ordinary Courage (3rd edition, 2008) "Steven Mintz combines a helpful discussion of slavery in the western world with a collection of writings by or about African Americans. This volume will engage the interest of college students." ?Stanley Harrold, South Carolina State University, and co-author (with Darlene Clark Hine and William Hine) of African Americans: A Concise History (3rd edition) "[A]n extraordinarily well-crafted tool both in the hands of academic teachers and researchers. It sheds a light on all essential aspects of African American history and culture up to the inglorious end of Reconstruction and excels in providing coverage of lesser known facets. With its comprehensive new introduction, it also provides a new perspective on research problems in African American history. ? [A] superb publication." ?Norbert Finzsch, University of Cologne, Germany

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