☛These narratives are arranged alphabetically by the name of the subject, who is frequently but not always the author.
in the United States: a narrative of the
life and adventures of Charles Ball, a black man, who
lived forty years in Maryland, South Carolina and
Georgia, as a slave, under various masters, and was
one year in the navy with Commodore Barney, during the
late war. Containing an account of the manners and
usages of the planters and slaveholders of the South—a
description of the condition and treatment of the
slaves, with observations upon the state of morals
among the cotton planters, and the perils and
sufferings of a fugitive slave, who twice escaped from
the cotton country. New-York: John S. Taylor, 1837.
A different edition. Pittsburgh: Printed and published by J. T. Shryock, 1853.
The first edition? Lewistown: Printed and Published by John W. Shugert, 1836. —The Pittsburgh and Lewistown editions include an introduction mentioning that “Many of his opinions have been cautiously omitted, or carefully suppressed, as being of no value to the reader, and his sentiments upon the subject of slavery have not been embodied in this work.” The New York edition seems to have more text, perhaps including what was omitted in the others.
A Visit to the United States in 1841; by Joseph Sturge. Boston: Dexter S. King, 1842. —Mr. Sturge was an English abolitionist whose main purpose in visiting was to report on the state of slavery in the United States.
Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave. Written by himself. New York: Published by the author, 1850. —With a very good portrait.
Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave. Written by himself. Boston: Published at the Anti-Slavery Office, 1847. —With a fine engraved portrait.
The New Man. Twenty-nine years a slave. Twenty-nine years a free man. Recollections of H. C. Bruce. York, Pa.: F. Anstadt & Sons, 1895. —With a photographic frontispiece portrait.
Narrative of Dimmock Charlton, a British subject, taken from the brig “Peacock” by the U.S. sloop “Hornet,” enslaved while a prisoner of war, and retained forty-five years in bondage. —No printer or date, but it ends with several testimonials, the latest of which is dated November 1859.Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy, formerly a slave in the United States of America. Second American from the last London edition. Boston: Oliver Johnson, 1844.
Narrative of Events in the Life of William Green, (formerly a slave,) written by himself. Springfield: I. M. Guernsey Book, Job, & Card Printer, 1853.
The Life of Josiah Henson, formerly a slave, now an inhabitant of Canada, as narrated by himself. Boston: Arthur D. Phelps, 1849.
The Experience of Thomas H. Jones, Who Was a Slave for Forty-Three Years. Written by a friend, as related to him by Brother Jones. Boston: Bazin & Chandler, 1862.
The Narrative of Lunsford Lane, formerly of Raleigh, N.C., embracing an account of his early life, the redemption by purchase of himself and family from slavery, and his banishment from the place of his birth for the crime of wearing a colored skin. Boston: Printed for the publisher, 1842.
The Rev. J. W. Loguen, as a Slave and as a Freeman. A narrative of real life. Syracuse, N. Y.: J. G. K. Truair & Co., 1859.
Twelve Years a Slave. Narrative of Solomon Northup, a citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana. New York: C. M. Saxton, 1859. —With seven engravings.
Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern slave, emancipated from bodily servitude by the state of New York, in 1828. With a portrait. Boston: Printed for the author, 1850.
The Narrative of Bethany Veney, a slave woman. Worcester, Mass., 1889.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by himself. Boston: Published at the Anti-Slavery Office, 1846. —With a first-rate engraved portrait as the frontispiece.
Fanaticism in New York. Speech of a
runaway slave from Baltimore, at an abolition meeting
in New York, held May 11, 1847. [Baltimore,] 1847.
—Called a “Flaming Abolition Speech” in the interior
title. With a caricature of Douglass speaking (above)
as the title vignette. It would be hard to think of a
better argument for immediate abolition than the mere
fact that, among anti-abolitionists, simply reprinting
verbatim a noble and rhetorically accomplished speech
by Douglass was considered to be an unanswerable
argument against the abolitionists. He had no
right to speak so well.
My Bondage and My Freedom. By Frederick Douglass. New York and Auburn: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855. —With a fine engraved frontispiece, badly foxed.
The Despotism of Freedom; or the tyranny and cruelty of American republican slave-masters, shown to be the worst in the world; in a speech, delivered at the first anniversary of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, 1833. By David L. Child. Boston: Young Men’s Anti-Slavery Association, for the Diffusion of Truth, 1833. —Number 1 in the Abolitionist’s Library. Inside the front cover is the text of the Constitution of the Boston Young Men’s Anti-Slavery Association for the Diffusion of Truth, or BYMASADF, as we suppose it was familiarly known. “Article 1: This Association shall be called the Boston Young Men’s Anti-Slavery Association for the Diffusion of Truth.” The last article is a mechanism for amendments to this constitution, and we have one to propose.
Review of the Slave Question, extracted from the American quarterly review, Dec. 1832; based on the speech of Th: Marshall, of Fauquier: showing that slavery is the essential hindrance to the prosperity of the slave-holding states; with particular reference to Virginia, though applicable to other States where Slavery exists. By a Virginian [Jesse Burton Harrison, according to the librarian]. Richmond: T. W. White, 1833. —It is worthy of note that there was still a lively Southern debate about slavery in 1833.
Letters on Slavery: addressed to the Cumberland Congregation, Virginia. By J. D. Paxton, their former pastor. Lexington, Ky.: Abraham T. Skillman, 1833. —Paxton freed his own slaves, and advised his congregation to do likewise. That he was no longer living in Virginia by 1833 shows the result of his advice.
An Exposition of the African Slave Trade, from the Year 1840, to 1850, Inclusive. Prepared from official documents, and published by direction of the representatives of the Religious Society of Friends, in Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, and Delaware. Philadelphia: Friends’ Book Store, 1851.
Inside View of Slavery: or a Tour Among the Planters. By C. G. Parsons, M. D., with an introduction by Mrs. H. B. Stowe. Fourth thousand. Boston: John B. Jewett and Company, 1855.
Review of the Debate in the Virginia Legislature of 1831 and 1832. By Thomas R. Dew, Professor of History, Metaphysics, and Political Law, William and Mary College. Richmond: T. W. White, 1832. —In the early 1830s there was a lively debate about slavery and emancipation in the South; the voices against slavery had not yet been suppressed. As evidence of that lively debate, note that the same printer published this tract against abolition and the abolitionist Review of the Slave Question above.
A View of Slavery, Moral and Political. By A. D. Sims. Charleston: A. E. Miller, 1834. —The title-page motto is 1 Timothy 6:1–2, which tells us what to expect. “The fact is, the slave-holders have been too long silent under the sneers and fanatic ebullitions of ignorant and wicked pretenders to philanthropy.”
An Appeal to the People of the Northern and Eastern States, on the Subject of Negro Slavery in South Carolina. By a South Carolinian [Whitemarsh Benjamin Seabrook, according to a librarian’s penciled note]. New-York, 1834. —It is interesting to find that Seabrook, who became an ardent secessionist, nevertheless finds it necessary at this stage to excuse slavery by arguing (quite reasonably) that “the system was forced upon South Carolina by the trade of Great Britain and of the Northern and Eastern States.” (When the United States was young and confined mostly to the East, the original states fell neatly into three groups: Southern, below the Mason-Dixon Line; Northern, above the Mason-Dixon Line and west of New England; and Eastern, meaning New England.)
☛This was an organization devoted to resettling free blacks and emancipated slaves in Africa; its most lasting legacy was the country of Liberia. It was unique in including both Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders in its ranks. Many abolitionists, however, were opposed to it—we might almost say rabidly opposed to it—on the grounds that exile was only mildly better than slavery, and slaveholders should not be allowed a sop for their consciences.The Extinction of the American Colonization Society the First Step to the Abolition of American Slavery. By James Cropper. London: Printed by S. Bagster, 1833.
Supplement to the Emancipator. A Letter to Thomas Clarkson, by James Cropper: and Prejudice Vincible; or the practicability of conquering prejudice by better means than slavery and exile; in relation to the American Colonization Society. By C. Stuart. New-York: Re-printed from an English edition, 1833.
Liberia Unmasked; or, the incompatibility of the views and schemes of the American Colonization Society, with those of the real friends of the immediate abolition of slavery, proved by facts. Edinburgh: William Oliphant, 1833.