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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 19, 2012 10:12AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments What's this ? A Buddy Read ! All are welcomed and encouraged to join in the discussion.

Book: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl  by Harriet JacobsIncidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Author: Harriet Jacobs~Harriet Jacobs
Born February 11, 1813
Edenton, North Carolina
Died March 7, 1897 (aged 84)
Washington, D.C.
Occupation Writer, nurse, slave and abolitionist,speaker
was an African-American writer who escaped from slavery and became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Jacobs' single work, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, was one of the first autobiographical narratives about the struggle for freedom by female slaves and an account of the sexual harassment and abuse they endured.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_...

When: Discussion will begin July 21, 2012

Where: The Discussion will take place in this thread.

Spoiler Etiquette: If given away a major plot element please put SPOILER at the top of your post

Book Details:
Paperback: 230 pages
Publisher: Simon & Brown (June 15, 2012)
Language: English

Synopsis:

Louise Meriwether Harriet Jacobs in her narrative reveals how she refused to be victimized within her own mind, but rather chose to act instead from a steadfast conviction of her own worth....Hers is an example worth emulating even in these modern times.

Published in 1861, this was one of the first personal narratives by a slave and one of the few written by a woman. Jacobs (1813-97) was a slave in North Carolina and suffered terribly, along with her family, at the hands of a ruthless owner. She made several failed attempts to escape before successfully making her way North, though it took years of hiding and slow progress.

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Incidents-Life-...


message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 19, 2012 10:43AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Here is a character list for you to print out if you wish. Personally, I find them very helpful.

*Descriptions may contain spoilers

In the book, Harriet Jacobs uses fictionalized names to protect the identities of persons in the story. Note that not all of the characters in the book are listed here.

Linda Brent is Harriet Jacobs, the book’s protagonist and a pseudonym for the author.

William Brent is John Jacobs: Linda’s brother, to whom she is close. William’s escape from Mr. Sands, his relatively “kind” master, shows that even a privileged slave desires freedom above all else.

Ruth Nash is Margaret Horniblow.

Emily Flint is Mary Matilda Norcom, Dr. Flint’s daughter and Linda’s legal “owner.” Emily Flint serves mainly as Dr. Flint’s puppet, sometimes writing Linda letters in her name, trying to trick her into returning to Dr. Flint.

Dr. Flint is Dr. James Norcom. Although he is based on Harriet Jacobs’s real-life master, Dr. Flint often seems more like a melodramatic villain than a real man. He is morally bankrupt and lacks any redeeming qualities. He is thoroughly one-dimensional, totally corrupted by the power that the slave system grants him. He sees no reason not to use and abuse his slaves in any way he chooses, and he never shows any signs of sympathy for them or remorse for his crimes.

Aunt Martha is Molly Horniblow, Aunt Martha is one of the narrative’s most complex characters, embodying Jacobs’s ambivalence about motherhood and maternal love. She is a second mother to Linda, a positive force in her life, and a paragon of honesty and decency. She is loving and family-oriented, representing an ideal of domestic life and maternal love. She works tirelessly to buy her children’s and grandchildren’s freedom.

Mr. Sands is Samuel Tredwell Sawyer; he is Linda’s white lover and the father of her children. Mr. Sands has a kindlier nature than Dr. Flint, but he feels no real love or responsibility for his mixed-race children. He repeatedly breaks his promises to Linda that he will free them.

Benny Sands
is Joseph Sawyer, Ellen Sands is Louisa Sawyer, Mr. Bruce is Nathaniel Parker Willis, and Gertrude Bruce is Cornelia Grinnel Willis.[5]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incident...


Here is another character list from Cliffsnotes

http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guid...

Linda Brent Pseudonym for the author, Harriet Ann Jacobs. Linda is born a slave in North Carolina. She eventually escapes to the North after spending 27 years in slavery, including the seven years she spends hiding in her grandmother's attic.

Aunt Martha Pseudonym for Molly Horniblow, Jacobs' grandmother. Aunt Martha, Linda's grandmother, is a free woman who provides Linda with love, support, and spiritual guidance. A former slave, Aunt Martha starts her own bakery business in order to earn enough money to buy her two sons, Benjamin and Phillip. After saving $300, she lends the money to her mistress, who never repays her. As a result, Aunt Martha is forced to live with the knowledge that although she is free, her family remains enslaved.

Miss Fanny A white woman who grew up with Aunt Martha in the Flint household. Angry at Dr. Flint for attempting to sell Aunt Martha, who has served his family for over 20 years, Miss Fanny buys her for $50, then sets her free.

William Possibly a pseudonym for Jacobs' actual brother, John. William is Linda's younger brother. He protects Linda and actively supports her quest for freedom.

Ellen and Benny
Pseudonyms for Louisa Matilda Jacobs and Joseph Jacobs, the author's children. Ellen and Benny are Linda's two children by her white lover, Mr. Sands.

Dr. Flint Pseudonym for Dr. James Norcom, Jacobs' master and tormentor. Obsessed with Linda, Dr. Flint relentlessly pursues her, forcing her to make some drastic decisions to avoid his physical and sexual control.

Mrs. Flint Pseudonym for Mary Matilda Horniblow Norcom. The wife of Dr. Flint, Mrs. Flint recognizes her husband's sexual pursuit of Linda, and she becomes increasingly more abusive toward her.

Emily Flint Daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Flint. When Linda's mistress dies, Linda (age 12) is given to Emily, who is five years old at the time.

Mr. and Mrs. Flint Dr. Flint's son and daughter-in-law. When Linda refuses to succumb to Dr. Flint's sexual advances, he sends her to work on his son's plantation, where her first assignment is to prepare the house for the arrival of the new Mrs. Flint.

Mr. Sands Pseudonym for Samuel Tredwell Sawyer, the white man who fathers Linda's two children.

Betty The "faithful old friend" who helps Linda hide at the home of her mistress.

Jenny The slave who threatens to betray Linda's hiding place in the house of her mistress. As a result, Linda is forced to hide in her grandmother's attic.

Peter The friend who helps Linda during her first escape attempt.

Mrs. Durham The white woman who befriends Linda in Philadelphia and hires her as a nurse to her child.

Mrs. Bruce (First) Pseudonym for Mary Stace Willis, first wife of Nathaniel Parker Willis, who befriends Linda in New York. Mrs. Bruce, an English woman who abhors slavery, employs Linda as a nurse for her daughter, Mary. She also works to protect Linda from Dr. Flint.

Mrs. Bruce (Second) Pseudonym for Cornelia Grinnell Willis, Nathaniel Parker Willis' second wife. The second Mrs. Bruce is an American who also abhors slavery. On two occasions when Linda goes into hiding, Mrs. Bruce entrusts her to take her own infant daughter with her, knowing that if Linda is caught, the baby will be returned to her, and she will be informed of Linda's whereabouts. The second Mrs. Bruce finally buys Linda's freedom for $300.


message 3: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 19, 2012 10:40AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Questions to Think About:

1) When was this book written and published? By whom? Under what circumstances? For or to whom was it written? What was Linda Brent's incentive to write this study? What goals did she hope it would accomplish?

2) By whom was the introduction to the autobiography written? What do you know about the author of the introduction and her relationship with the author? What is the significance of this introduction?

3) Has the autobiography undergone extensive editing that you can recognize? How did this editing change the story?

4) Pay attention to the style of Brent's autobiography. Does her tone or style change when discussing certain topics?

5) Linda Brent wrote, "Slavery is terrible for men, but it is far more terrible for women." Describe the forces that Brent endured as a slave. To what extent were her experiences shaped by her race (keeping in mind her background as a person of mixed race)? To what extent were her experiences shaped by her gender? In what ways did Brent's experiences differ from free white women in both the North and South, free Black African-American women, and African-American men, both free and enslaved?

6) Regarding Brent's identification as a "mulatto," or person of mixed African and European heritage, consider attitudes about both race as a category and women of color as people. To what extent was her experience affected by her being light-skinned and the descendant of a white planter?

7) What was the relationship between her first mistress, with whom she lived until the age of twelve, and Linda Brent? To what did Brent attribute the nature of this relationship?

8) What was the nature of the relationship between Mr. Flint, whom Brent calls "a hoary-headed miscreant," and Linda Brent? Does Brent argue that this relationship was typical or uncommon between slave women and their masters?

9) Discuss the nature of the relationship between Mrs. Flint, Brent's master's wife, and Linda Brent. Why did Brent feel sorry for Mrs. Flint? What criticism did she have of Mrs. Flint's behavior towards herself? For what purpose could Linda Brent use her pity for Mrs. Flint?

10) In what way does Brent present the African-American family as disrupted by the institution of slavery? What did slave families do to mediate the intrusion of masters' and mistresses' demands on them? What accomodations did slave families make for their own survival? When considering the activities of families, consider also the varying differences and similarities in the behaviors and perspectives of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, and siblings.

11) Linda Brent describes herself as undergoing a sort of "awakening" to her rights as a person and as a woman after she reached the North and after a friend bought her to end her pursuit as a fugitive slave. She writes, "The more my mind had become enlightened, the more difficult it was for me to consider myself an article of property; and to pay money to those who had so grievously oppressed me seemed like taking from my suffering the glory of triumph." To what do you attribute the "awakening" to a sense that she was not property, either by virtue of race or gender?

12) In what ways does Linda Brent's story illustrate the experiences of African-American women in slavery in the nineteenth century? Is this a believable story? Why or why not? How do the details comport with other information you have about women's experiences in this period and situation?

13) How typical does her experience seem? If it is atypical, does that decrease its importance? How does typicality or atypicality affect how we critically evaluate a work such as Brent's?

14) How did her gender shape Linda Brent's experiences in both slavery and freedom?

http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/...


message 4: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments I appreciate all the prep work, Alias.


message 5: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments You're welcome. Now I have to find the book ! My books have very little organization. :(


message 6: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments Hmmm. New job creation idea: someone to organize home libraries. What a job! I'd love that one.


message 7: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Mine are a mess due to a lack of space. My plan is to win the lottery and have a proper library. :)


message 8: by Connie (new)

Connie (Connie_G) | 266 comments I would like to join you in reading this.


message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1017 comments Yay Connie!
I am going to try to read a little of it today.


message 10: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments I'm beginning the book today, too. I look forward to sharing with others here.

deb


message 11: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Great ! I'll try to start it today also.


message 12: by Connie (last edited Jul 22, 2012 08:38PM) (new)

Connie (Connie_G) | 266 comments The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850

Law enforcement officials had to arrest anyone suspected of being a runaway slave on no more than a claimant's testimony of ownership. The suspected slave was not entitled to a jury trial, and could not testify on their own behalf. Many free blacks were brought into slavery since they could not defend themselves against accusations.

Wikipedia has an article which gives more details about this chilling law.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugitive...


message 13: by Connie (new)

Connie (Connie_G) | 266 comments The Trials of Girlhood page 23

These sentences say a lot about being a slave girl reaching puberty with a master who considers the slave his property:

"If God has bestowed beauty upon her, it will prove her greatest curse. That which commands admiration in the white woman only hastens the degradation of the female slave."


message 14: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Thanks for sharing, Connie. Everything was against the slave. The laws and even a womens beauty.

I've only just begun chapter 2 and my page #'s are different than yours as my book has two stories and this one is the second. So I will have to use chapter #.

I knew as soon as she loaned the money to her master, it was gone for good. Imagine taking money from a slave to buy a candelabra !


message 15: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments The book is chilling because we know it's based on fact. I wonder how sickened it made the original readers of the North. Interesting that the author addresses Northern abolitionists and others directly. I suppose it's because she has come to realize that appealing to Southerners, even the women, was a fruitless endeavor.

My edition has endnotes but they are almost confusing because they refer to the "real" names of the people upon whom the characters are based. Yet, i feel i need to read the endnotes because they explain things such as the law Connie shared. And biblical quotes & references are also given, which can be instructional.

deb


message 16: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Madrano wrote: "My edition has endnotes but they are almost confusing because they refer to the "real" names of the people upon whom the characters are based. Yet, i feel i need to read the endnotes because they explain things such as the law Connie shared. And biblical quotes & references are also given, which can be instructional.
-----------

My book has that, too. And I also found them confusing.

The edition I am using it from The Modern Library Classics

It's a PB with an ISBN of 0679783288
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave & Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Modern Library Classics) by Frederick DouglassNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave & Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl


message 17: by Connie (last edited Jul 23, 2012 11:09AM) (new)

Connie (Connie_G) | 266 comments I'm using an African American Heritage Book. Harriet Jacobs wrote under the name Linda Brent when it was first published. It does not include any endnotes.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (an African American Heritage Book) by Linda Brent

I'm finding I can only read a little at a time because the cruelty of the plantation owners is so terrible. And then these hypocrites showed up at church on Sunday!


message 18: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Connie wrote: And then these hypocrites showed up at church on Sunday!
-----------------------

Some used the bible to justify slavery.

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04...

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christia...

http://www.livingvinechurch.org/ds/q1...

And even today we find stories like this.
Bible Justifies Slavery, Gop Candidate Insists
http://community.seattletimes.nwsourc...

And here is a book on the subject

Noah's Curse by Stephen HaynesNoah's CurseStephen Haynes
Oxford University Press, Mar 28, 2002 - 322 pages
"A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." So reads Noah's curse on his son Ham, and all his descendants, in Genesis 9:25. Over centuries of interpretation, Ham came to be identified as the ancestor of black Africans, and Noah's curse to be seen as biblical justification for American slavery and segregation. Examining the history of the American interpretation of Noah's curse, this book begins with an overview of the prior history of the reception of this scripture and then turns to the distinctive and creative ways in which the curse was appropriated by American pro-slavery and pro-segregation interpreters.


message 19: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 23, 2012 08:49PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments For those with Kindles and who want to read more on this topic, Amazon is offering this book for free.

It looks like a writing project from the FDR era. That's pretty cool, imo.
Here is more info on the WPA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_Pr...

Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States, From Interviews with Former Slaves Virginia Narratives by United States. Work Projects Administration (Mar 30, 2011)

http://www.amazon.com/Slave-Narrative...


message 20: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 23, 2012 09:02PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Another free Kindle book on this topic

The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Truth's narrative is a powerful rendering of bondage, denial, and loss transcended by genius, family, and a spiritual base. It juxtaposes spirituality with moral turpitude. Truth was a freethinker who lived within a family of wretched circumstances in New York's Ulster County; she was a wife whose runaway husband had been beated into submission; a mother who reclaimed her only son from a brutal Georgia slaver; a person of principles who was duped by slavers and false prophets; and, finally, at 46, an orator, abolitionist, and member of the Northampton utopian community. As a companion to Truth's narrative, Washington presents a cogent, well-crafted introduction full of historical information that sketches a framework for understanding slavery as it was practiced in the Northeast. This slender book belongs in all literature and history collections.

http://www.amazon.com/Narrative-Sojou...


message 21: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Connie wrote: "The Trials of Girlhood page 23

These sentences say a lot about being a slave girl reaching puberty with a master who considers the slave his property:

"If God has bestowed beauty upon her, it wil..."

-------------

Ugh. I just read this part. It's bad enough being a slave but then to be raped.... The whole chapter has a knot in my stomach as she tries to avoid her "master".


message 22: by Connie (new)

Connie (Connie_G) | 266 comments Thanks for sharing the interesting information, Alias. Some people tend to find quotes from the Bible to support any kind of position, and don't spend a minute reflecting what it would be like to be in someone else's shoes.


message 23: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments I agree, Connie. They use it to justify their own actions and prejudices. Sad.


message 24: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments I agree with all that's been said here. I'll add a thought about the wives of the owners & their predicament. It's hard not to abhor a woman whose husband rapes a female servant & then opts to take it out on the victim. Again, the Bible justifies that the wife must submit but to subject the servant to the clearly misplaced anger astounds.

I cannot imagine the conundrum of a slave who learns the sacred book of their masters, the Bible, condones slavery, yet abolitionists cite the same book to condemn it. How they could then embrace Christianity as a safe mental haven is a marvel. Connie, you make the best point--it appears zero time was spent contemplating the experiences of slaves. And we won't even get into the ministers of the time!


message 25: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1017 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Ugh. I just read this part. It's bad enough being a slave but then to be raped.... The whole chapter has a knot in my stomach as she tries to avoid her "master". ..."

Unfortunately this was very common.


message 26: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 24, 2012 04:01PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Chapter 7 ~ The Lover

Here are a few lines that I highlighted:

"I found the door ajar, and I stood a moment gazing at the hateful man who claimed a right to rule me, body and soul."

This line just grabbed me. One may think of a slave as an unpaid worker. But this line drives home the reality that they want to possess the slaves very soul.

"Do you know that I have a right to do as I like with you, - that I can kill you , if I please?"

The slave has literally zero protection under the law. The slave is just an object, mere chattel, that the owner can do whatever he wants with.

"Reader, did you ever hate? I hope not. I never did but once; and I trust I never shall again. somebody had called it 'the atmosphere of hell;' and I believe it is so.

This line so resonated with me. Hate creates for the person who hates a living hell. It has more affect on the person who hates then on the person who is hated. What's that saying? Hate is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

"And then, if we had children, I knew they must "follow the condition of the mother."

I didn't know this. So if the mother is a slave, so are her children. How convenient since many of the slaves children are fathered by the master.

All in all, an interesting chapter. I never for a second thought the Dr. would let her go. Especially since it would for a better life.


message 27: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Chapter 7 ~ The Lover

I didn't know this. So if the mother is a slave, so are her children. How convenient since many of the slaves children are fathered by the master. ..."


While i was aware of this fact, there is another question remaining. If a slave woman is married to a free man, does this mean children from that marriage are the masters? I think it does, which begs the question, why would a free black man want to marry a slave woman? I suppose they would with an eye toward buying the freedom of the child but it seems to me that this almost assures the free man is a slave of sorts, working to never offend the master of the woman. Maybe she'll address this later.


message 28: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments I think in the case of Linda, she said the free man she wanted to marry, would buy her. So the offspring would be free.


message 29: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1017 comments I never realized that children owned slaves. I find that weird.


message 30: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Chapter 8

A few lines that caught my attention.

"liberty is more valuable than life."

This is something we probably don't think of until we lose our liberty.

"Peculiar institution"
This euphemism reminds me of the other one we read -"Jewish problem"

"They seem to satisfy their consciences with the doctrine that God created the African to be slaves. What a libel upon the heavenly Father, who 'made of one blood all nations of men!"

Love this retort.


message 31: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Chapter 9

A few lines I highlighted


"He was so effectually screened by his great wealth that he was call to no account for his crimes, not even for murder."

"Cruelty is contagious in uncivilized communities."

"when his own labor was stolen from him, he had stolen food to appease his hunger. This was his crime."

Not exactly the same situation, but it reminded me of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

"He was a slave; and the feeling that master had a right to do what he please with his own property.

"Women are considered of no value, unless they continually increase their owner's stock."

"He also boasted the name and standing of a Christian, though Satan never had a truer follower."

"Her religion was not a garb put on for Sunday, and laid aside till Sunday returned again."

"...that slavery is a curse to the whites as well as to the blacks."


message 32: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments I am struck by how easy the book is to read. Usually books from this time are difficult reads until one gets into the flow of the language.


message 33: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 25, 2012 09:26AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Chapter 10

A few lines that spoke to me.

"I felt as if I was forsaken by God and man..."

If you have any heart at all, how can this line not move you?

"You never knew what it is to be a slave; to be entirely unprotected by law or custom; to have the laws reduce you to the condition of a chattel, entirely subject to the will of another. You never exhausted your ingenuity in avoiding the snares, and eluding the power of a hated tyrant; you never shuddered at the sound of his footsteps, and trembled within hearing of his voice."

Wow ! That says it all.


message 34: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Chapter 9

"Cruelty is contagious in uncivilized communities."..."


I found this sentence strong, too, because it indicts slave ownership as an "uncivilized community", allowing for the deprivations she shares. My mind first went to mob mentality but, due to its brief nature, it's not the same. Yet, cruelty of any sort can be fostered in a community where our fellow humans are demeaned. I couldn't help but wonder about the impact of the line "back then."

I've read quite a bit about slavery but this is the first time i've run across the actions of an overseer making certain male & female slaves slept together, to help ensure sex & the ensuant children, who increase the master's property. How could an overseer not feel it was alright to rape the females, as long as there was a "product" at the end? Awful, awful, awful.


message 35: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 27, 2012 07:09PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments A few lines that I highlighted and some comments.

Chapter 11

"Lives that flash in sunshine, an lives that are born in tears, receive their hue from circumstances."

Chapter 12

I've heard over the years the phrase, "Pass Muster" but I never knew what muster was.
1. To call (troops) together, as for inspection.

Nat Turner
Nathaniel "Nat" Turner (October 2, 1800 – November 11, 1831) was an American slave who led a slave rebellion in Virginia on August 21, 1831 that resulted in 60 white deaths and at least 100 black deaths, the largest number of fatalities to occur in one uprising prior to the American Civil War in the southern United States. He gathered supporters in Southampton County, Virginia. Turner was convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged. In the aftermath, the state executed 56 blacks accused of being part of Turner's slave rebellion. Two hundred blacks were also beaten and killed by white militias and mobs reacting with violence. Across Virginia and other southern states, state legislators passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free blacks, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free blacks, and requiring white ministers to be present at black worship services.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Turner


I, of course, heard of Turners Rebellion, but I didn't recall the violence in the aftermath. It was hard to read about the vicious mindless violence that followed the rebellion.

Interesting quote about the poor whites who participated in the violence against the slaves. They can't see they are hurting themselves, too. They only know they can feel superior to the black slave. Not really related, but it reminded me of the All In the Family episode where Archie explains the pecking order of various ethnic groups. In the world according to Archie that is.

"...not reflecting that the power which trampled on the colored people also kept themselves in poverty, ignorance, and moral degradation."

Chapter 13
Re: the sermon by the new clergyman.
"Moreover, it was the first time they had ever been addressed as human beings."

So little to ask for, yet withheld....A bit of human dignity. It reminds me of one time I was on the subway with my dad. My dad was elderly and we were coming back from a doctor visit. We got up from our seats to get off the train, and my father indicated a black man should go first out the door. The guy looked down on his luck. I still recall to this day, the man said in a very low voice. "he sees me".

Re the church
"There are thousands, who , like good uncle Fred, are thirsting for the water of live, but the law forbids it, and the churches withhold it. They send the Bible to heathen agroad, and neglect the heathen at home...."

"There is a great difference between Christianity and religion at the South"

"No wonder the slave sing,-
Ole Satan's church is here below;
Up to God's free church I hope to go.

This is pretty powerful stuff. I can only imagine how explosive such sentiments were when the book was published.


message 36: by Connie (new)

Connie (Connie_G) | 266 comments Lydia Maria Child is the woman who wrote the introduction and also edited this book. She was a women's rights activist, and an Indian rights activist as well as being an abolitionist. Child was an author and a Unitarian. She wrote the familiar poem "Over the River and Through the Wood" about Thanksgiving.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydia_Ma...


message 37: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I still recall to this day, the man said in a very low voice. "he sees me". ..."

Alias, what a vivid memory of your father & that moment. No wonder you are such a caring person. Thank you for sharing.

Early in your post
Alias Reader wrote: "Interesting quote about the poor whites who participated in the violence against the slaves. They can't see they are hurting themselves, too. They only know they can feel superior to the black slave."...

I think that poor whites might have also participated against slaves because their aspirations would be to someday own land & slaves, too. I don't disagree that they were really hurting themselves, only that she ascribes to them no reason to support the cause of slavery. Even poor-ish farmers sometimes had at least one slave. Some were inherited but others were bought when their worth was low. And, hard for us to imagine, slaves were an investment.

Additionally, for those poor people who didn't own slaves, there was still a reason to keep slavery. If the slaves were freed, they would be in competition for the same menial labor as the poor white labor force. It's not a pretty thought but apparently there is literature to back up this line of thought.

Chilling, isn't it?

deb


message 38: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 28, 2012 07:10AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Madrano wrote: Chilling, isn't it?
-----------
Indeed. And really hard to fathom in this day and age. Yet, we still have slavery.

"According to Anti-Slavery International, the world's oldest human rights organization, there are currently over 20 million people in bondage."

Read more: Slavery in the Modern World — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/spot/slaver...


message 39: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments Connie wrote: "Lydia Maria Child...She wrote the familiar poem "Over the River and Through the Wood" about Thanksgiving...."

I knew i knew that name! Thanks for putting it in context, Connie.


message 40: by Connie (new)

Connie (Connie_G) | 266 comments I'm glad you brought up how much slavery still exists in the world today, Alias. There were several chapters about sex slavery in a very good book I read recently: Half the Sky Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof.


message 41: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 28, 2012 06:44PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments I recall when that book came out. The reviews on Amazon are good. Though I suspect the subject matter makes for hard reading, Connie.

Such books are hard to rate. The story they tell is so overpowering with pain it leaves the reader stunned into silence.

I felt that way with
Country of My Skull Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa by Antjie KrogCountry of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa~~~Antjie Krog

After apartheid Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was headed by Desmond Tutu. The book is various people coming to testify about the human rights violations that happened to them. Also people who committed these awful crimes testified to their actions.

The purpose of the TRC was to bear witness and promote a healing atmosphere so the country could move on, not to send anyone to jail. In fact, if I recall correctly, if you agreed to testify to your own crimes you were given a chance for amnesty.

If you think about it, it is quite an amazing thing. Most people seek revenge. This was the opposite.

It was very difficult to read about the atrocities, some which still remain in my head today, even though I read the book in 2003. Yet, on the other hand, the idea of the hearing was very inspiring.


message 42: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments I finished the book last night. There were several things i learned from it & after i write up my notes, i'll share here. It's an amazing story and gives a glimpse at something we can barely imagine. And, when we think about it (and as she notes), in comparison she had it easier than many slaves. Reading this first hand story i was struck by how well she expressed the question of how the reader would feel if s/he were the slave.


message 43: by Connie (new)

Connie (Connie_G) | 266 comments I was very impressed with how supportive and loving the author's family was to each other, often risking their own lives for each other. They all had a sense of dignity, believing in their self-worth, and they passed that down to their children.

The family members also were able to consider whites as individuals, rather than just hate everyone with white skin, which would be easy to do after being enslaved. This helped the author later because she was hidden and employed by white people who considered her a friend. The abolishionists could have been punished for hiding a fugitive slave.


message 44: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments I'm still reading it. I think I am 50% done.

I just read the part where the new mistress of the house sees the old slave man go up for his meager allotment of meat. She say no he can't work so he can't have any meat.

I actually groaned out loud when I read that.


message 45: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments I have to say I don't know how she did it.

Hiding in a swamp with snakes !

Hiding in a garret with rats !

I know I could never to that, no matter the consequences.


message 46: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments True--the critters in the book would discourage me. I've never had much of a fear of snakes but her description gave me the shivers. Talk about your True Grit!

Yesterday i mentioned that there were things i learned in the book. Here is the best example and even it is a footnote to Chapter 51. “North Carolina’s Supreme Court ruled in 1844 that even ‘free persons of color’ were ‘not to be considered as citizens.’” I suppose i thought that once you were free, you were considered a citizen. Why not? I tried to research but only came up with this--"In the State v. William Manuel (1838), William J. Gaston, NC Supreme Court, ruled that free blacks were North Carolina citizens and thereby protected by the state constitution." The article continues that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin R. Curtis cited this ruling in his dissent of the Dred Scott decision.

I'll keep looking...


message 47: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 30, 2012 08:01AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Madrano wrote: Here is the best example and even it is a footnote to Chapter 51. “North Carolina’s Supreme Court ruled in 1844 that even ‘free persons of color’ were ‘not to be considered as citizens.’” I suppose i thought that once you were free, you were considered a citizen.
---------------

That is what I thought, too. I'll see if I can find anything on the net to explain this more.

The footnote about ammonia and snake bites was news to me.
Here is a web page of "old time remedies". I like the one about what to do for gray hair. Answer, admire it. :)

http://www.oldtimeremedies.co.uk/labe...


message 48: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3097 comments LOL--good advice!

Last night i read the first part of the volume in which i read Incidents, as my copy has both Jacobs's work, as well as Frederick Douglass. While mine isn't this copy, it's similar, i think it's the same Alias has. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl & Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: Two Memoirs of Notable African-Americans During the Nineteenth Ce

ANYway, his work complimented hers, illuminating some thoughts and opining about others, giving readers a different slant. For instance, Jacobs covered the Christmas morning troupe & tradition of Johnkannaus. Douglass, meanwhile, wrote, "From what I know of the effect of these holidays upon the slave I believe them to be among the most effective means in the hands of the slaveholder in keeping down the spirit of insurrection. Were the slaveholders at once to abandon this practice, I have not the slightest doubt it would lead to an immediate insurrection among the slaves." Interesting.


message 49: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 31, 2012 06:04PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments Madrano wrote: Here is the best example and even it is a footnote to Chapter 51. “North Carolina’s Supreme Court ruled in 1844 that even ‘free persons of color’ were ‘not to be considered as citizens.’” I suppose i thought that once you were free, you were considered a citizen. Why not?
====================

It appears it was related to not allowing blacks to carry guns. A lot of info can be found for this case including this:

THE STATE v. ELIJAH NEWSOM.

The act of Assembly passed in 1840, ch. 30, entitled "an act to prevent free persons of color from carrying fire arms," is not unconstitutional.

It is the settled construction of the Constitution of the United States, that no limitations, contained in that instrument upon the powers of government, extend or embrace the different States, unless they are mentioned, or it is expressed to be so intended.

Free people of color in this State are not to be considered as citizens, in the largest sense of the term, or, if they are, they occupy such a position in society, as justifies the Legislature in adopting a course of policy in its acts peculiar to them--so that they do not violate those great principles of justice, which lie at the foundation of all laws.

The cases of The Raleigh and Gaston Railroad Company v. Davis, 2 Dev. & Bat. 459, and State v. Manuel, 4 Dev. & Bat. 20, cited and approved.

for more info:
http://www.guncite.com/court/state/27...

You can also google the name of the case for more.


message 50: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 31, 2012 06:48PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 10797 comments I finished the book and I am so glad I read it. It's an inspiring story and a testament to the courage and fortitude of some people. It's also a good record of the horrors that took place so that it later years it it can't be said it wasn't that bad.

It should be required reading.

Thanks everyone for reading this book with me.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (other topics)
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave & Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (other topics)
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (other topics)
Noah's Curse (other topics)
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Harriet Jacobs (other topics)
Stephen Haynes (other topics)
Nicholas D. Kristof (other topics)
Antjie Krog (other topics)
Frederick Douglass (other topics)