Synopses & Reviews
In this groundbreaking compilation of first-person accounts of the runaway slave phenomenon, editors Devon Carbado and Donald Weise have recovered twelve narratives spanning eight decades—more than half of which have been long out of print. Told in the voices of the runaway slaves themselves, these narratives reveal the extraordinary and often innovative ways that these men and women sought freedom and demanded citizenship.
"The intensity of the desire for freedom drives these narratives by fugitive slaves. The dozen excerpts from published accounts mostly unfamiliar to general readers are organized into thematic areas yearning for freedom, family situations, religious inspiration, and extreme measures taken to liberate themselves editors Carbado, UCLA professor of law and African-American studies, and Weise, editor-in-chief of Magnus Books, underline the commonalities of the American slave experience yet allow each fugitive his own voice. Villains in the form of owners, traders, bounty hunters, and treacherous blacks abound; gruesome descriptions of whippings and other tortures punctuate many of the tales. Heroes and heroics also emerge: Quakers and other antislavery activists assisted runaways; fugitives walked for days without food, fought off dogs and wolves, and even after capture managed to escape again. Most of the fugitives note that the slaveholders were 'professing Christians,' though one fugitive cites the Bible's prohibition against returning escaped slaves. Stevenson's afterword places the narratives in historical context, where a white man could sell his own children by a slave to escape 'social ostracism.' It may give readers nightmares, but this book needs to be read. Illus. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Devon W. Carbado
, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is professor of law and African American studies at UCLA. Carbado writes about race and is the editor of several books, including Race Law Stories
(with Rachel Moran) and Time on Two Crosses
(with Donald Weise).
Donald Weise is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Magnus Books. He has also served as publisher of Alyson Books and senior editor at Carroll & Graf Publishers. Weise was named an industry "Change Maker" by Publishers Weekly and is on the board of the Lambda Literary Foundation.
Table of Contents
Introduction: “I Will Run Away"
Part One: Running to Be Free
One: From A Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper, from American Slavery. With an Appendix, Containing a List of Places Visited by the Author in Great Britain and Ireland and the British Isles; and Other Matter.
Two: From Narrative of James Curry, A Fugitive Slave.
Three: From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Written by Himself.
Part Two: Running Because of Family
Four: From Slavery Days in Old Kentucky. A True Story of a Father Who Sold His Wife and Four Children. By One of the Children.
Five: From The Narrative of Bethany Veney: A Slave Woman
Six: From Life and Adventures of Robert, the Hermit of Massachusetts, Who has lived 14 Years in a Cave, secluded from human society. Comprising, An account of his Birth, Parentage, Sufferings, and providential escape from unjust and cruel Bondage in early life—and his reasons for becoming a Recluse.
Part Three: Running Inspired by Religion
Seven: From A Narrative of Some Remarkable Incidents in the Life of Solomon Bayley, Formerly a Slave in the State of Delaware, North America; Written by Himself, and Published for His Benefit; to Which Are Prefixed, a Few Remarks by Robert Hurnard.
Eight: From The Confessions of Nat Turner, the Leader of the Late Insurrection in Southampton, Va.
Nine: From Sunshine and Shadow of Slave Life. Reminiscences as told by Isaac D. Williams to “Tege”
Part Four: Running by Any Means Necessary
Ten: From Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Written by Herself.
Eleven: From Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Written by Himself.
Twelve: From Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery.
Historical Afterword: Contextualizing the Runaway Experience: A Brief History of Slavery in America, by Brenda E. Stevenson
About the Editors