|Date(s):||November 1861 to 1861|
|Location(s):||ALBANY, New York|
|Tag(s):||Emancipation, Escaping slavery|
|Course:||“HIS 240 African-American History I,” Rollins College|
|Rating:||5 (13 votes)|
“Far better to have been one of the starving poor of Ireland whose bones had to bleach on the highways than to have been a slave with the curse of slavery stamped upon yourself and children…” These powerful words come from the fugitive slave Harriet Jacobs. First hesitant to tell her story, later Jacob’s was convinced through the suggestion of a friend to indeed tell her story to others in order to help. Her famous tale Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written By Herself has answered a lot of questions into Jacobs life. She was born in Edenton, North Carolina around 1815. Her parents died when she was a child and she was sent to live with a brutal master, where she underwent sexual harassment. When she was only a teenager she had two children with another white man. As the threats continued she finally got the courage to run away and was aided by both black and white neighbors. She stayed hiding out at her grandmother’s as a freed slave. The man who she had the children with brought them to her grandmother’s house although he never emancipated them as he promised.
Finally Jacobs escaped to the North where she got back in contact with her children, and eventually found work in New York. She was hired as a nanny the daughter of littérateur N.P. Willis in which she was allowed to use the resources to begin writing. She then moved to Rochester, New York where she ran an antislavery reading room with her brother, a fugitive slave. With the help of black abolitionist writer William C. Nell , her narrative the story of her life by herself was finally published early in 1861. As the crisis of Emancipation deepened she tried to speak out in order to publicize the harsh reality of being a slave woman. She hoped that this might have some substantial impact to whites who might have read it at the time and encouraged the sentiment towards Emancipation. She remained active for the next thirty years and died in 1897. Although she was once hesitant about writing about her life, she tells in letters to Amy Post, a friend, that it would be the Un-Christian thing of her to do not to speak out, although she admits that it took her two years to finally swallow her pride and tell her story. However she did so in an attempt to help others to maybe escape the fate that had one captured her. Thanks to the encouragement of both black and white abolitionists of the time, she finally published her interesting accounts. During the Civil War she also went to D.C. to assist black soldiers and returned to the South later to help those who had been freed.