Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. v-xxxv

The year 1999 marked one hundred and fifty years since the initial publication of Henry Bibb's Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave; Written by Himself. While most general discussions of antebellum slave narratives mention Bibb as one of the more interesting...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-10

From the most obnoxious substances we often see spring forth, beautiful and fragrant, flowers of every hue, to regale the eye, and perfume the air. Thus, frequently, are results originated which are wholly unlike the cause that gave them birth. An illustration of this truth is afforded by the history of American Slavery....

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AUTHOR'S PREFACE

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p. 11

This work has been written during irregular intervals, while I have been travelling and laboring for the emancipation of my enslaved countrymen. The reader will remember that I make no pretension to literature; for I can truly say, that I have been educated in the school of adversity, whips, and chains. Experience and observation have been my...

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CHAPTER I

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pp. 13-19

I was born May 1815, of a slave mother, in Shelby County, Kentucky, and was claimed as the property of David White Esq. He came into possession of my mother long before I was born. I was brought up in the Counties of Shelby, Henry, Oldham, and Trimble. Or, more correctly...

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CHAPTER II

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pp. 21-32

IN 1833, I had some very serious religious impressions, and there was quite a number of slaves in that neighborhood, who felt very desirous to be taught to read the Bible. There was a Miss Davis, a poor white girl, who offered to teach a Sabbath School for the slaves, notwithstanding public opinion...

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CHAPTER III

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pp. 33-44

THE circumstances of my courtship and marriage, I consider to be among the most remarkable events of my life while a slave. To think that after I had determined to carry out the great idea which is so universally and practically acknowledged among all the civilized nations of the earth, that I would...

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OHAPTER IV

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pp. 45-56

IN the fall or winter of 1837 I formed a resolution that I would escape, if possible, to Canada, for my Liberty. I commenced from that hour making preparations for the dangerous experiment of breaking the chains that bound me as a slave. My preparation for this voyage consisted...

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CHAPTER V

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pp. 57-71

I succeeded very well in selling out my goods, and when I arrived in Cincinnati, I called on some of my friends who had aided me on my first escape. They also opposed me in going back only for my own good. But it has ever been characteristic of me to persevere in what I undertake....

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CHAPTER VI

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pp. 72-83

WHEN the boat arrived at Louisville, the day being too far spent for them to dispose of me, they had to put up at a Hotel. When we left the boat, they were afraid of my bolting from them in the street, and to prevent this they took hold of my arms, one on each side of me, gallanting me up to the hotel...

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CHAPTER VII

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pp. 84-93

My intention was, to let no person know my business until I returned back to the North. I went to Cincinnati, and got a passage down on board of a boat just as I did the first time, without any misfortune or delay. I called on my mother, and the...

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CHAPTER VIII

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pp. 94-100

MOST of the inmates of this prison I have described, were white men who had been sentenced there by the law, for depredations committed by them. There was in that prison, gamblers, drunkards, thieves, robbers, adulterers, and even murderers. There were also in the female department, harlots, pickpockets...

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CHAPTER IX

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pp. 101-111

We had there to pass through an examination or inspection by a city officer, whose business it was to illspect slave property that was hrought to that market for sale. He examined our backs to see if we had been much scarred by the lash. He examined our limbs, to see whether we were inferior....

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CHAPTER X.

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pp. 112-118

My first impressions when I arrived on the Deacon's farm, were that he was far more like what the people call the devil, than he was like a deacon. Not many days after my arrival there, I heard the Deacon tell one of the slave girls, that he had bought her for a wife or his boy Stephen, which office he...

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OHAPTER XI

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pp. 119-130

SOME months after Malinda had recovered from her sickness, I got permission from the Deacon, on one Sabbath day, to attend a prayer meeting, on a neighboring plantation, with a few old superanuated slaves, although this was contrary to the custom of the country--for slaves were not allowed to assemble for religious...

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CHAPTER XII

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pp. 131-142

THE reader may perhaps imagine what must have been my feelings when I found myself surrounded on the island with my little family, at midnight, by a gang of savage wolves. This was one of those trying emergencies in my life when there was apparently but one step between us and the grave. But I had no cords wrapped about my limbs to prevent my...

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CHAPTER XIII

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pp. 143-151

THE reader will remember that this brings me back to the time the Deacon had ordered me to be kept in confinement until he got a chance to sell me, and that no negro should ever get away from him and live. Some days after this we were all out at the gin house ginning cotton, which was situated...

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CHAPTER XIV

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pp. 152-158

THE next morning I went home with my new master; and by the way it is only doing justice to the dead to say, that he was the most reasonable, and humane slaveholder that I have ever belonged to. Re was the last man that pretended to claim property in my person; and although I have freely given...

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CHAPTER XV

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pp. 159-165

EARLY in the morning I left the Indian territory as I have already said, for fear I might be pursued by the three white men whom I had seen there over night; but I had not proceeded far before my fears were magnified a hundred fold....

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CHAPTER XVI

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pp. 166-174

THE greatest of my adventures came off when I arrived at Jefferson City. There I expected to meet an advertisement for my person; it was there I must cross the river or take a steamboat down; it was there I expected to be interrogated and required to prove whether I was actually a free man or...

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CHAPTER XVII

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pp. 175-187

THE first direct information that I received concermng any of my relations, after my last escape from slavery, was communicated in a letter from Wm. H. Gatewood, my former owner, which I here insert word for word, without any correction...

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CHAPTER XVIII

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pp. 188-192

In view of the failure to hear any thing of my wife, many of my best friends advised me to get married again, if I could find a suitable person. They regarded my former wife as dead to me, and· all had been done that could be....

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CHAPTER XIX

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pp. 193-197

BUT it seems that I am not now beyond the reach of the foul slander of slaveholders. They are not satisfied with selling and banishing me from my native State. As soon as they got news of my being in the free North, exposing their peculiar Institution, a libelous letter was written by Silas...

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CHAPTER XX

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pp. 198-204

I now conclude my narrative, by reviewing briefly what I have written. This little work has been written without any personal aid or a knowledge of the English grammer, which must in part be my apology for many of its imperfections....

OPINIONS OF THE PRESS

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pp. 205-207

INDEX

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pp. 209-211

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APPENDIX

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pp. 215-240

Bibb, like other successful fugitive slave orators, faced challenges to his credibility as a writer. On one hand, he was an eloquent witness against slavery. On the other hand, his very eloquence undermined the notion that he had ever been a slave. Moreover, Bibb's daring return for...

CHRONOLOGY OF HENRY BIBB

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pp. 241-246

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 247-257