Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

read more

About This Edition

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 3

This edition is made available under the imprimatur of DocSouth Books, a cooperative endeavor between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library and the University of North Carolina Press. Titles in DocSouth Books are drawn from the Library’s “Documenting the...

read more

Summary

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 4-5

Charles Ball was born on a tobacco plantation in Calvert County, Maryland. The exact date of his birth is not certain, but most scholars agree that it was some time in 1781. When he was four, his mother and siblings were sold to another plantation and Ball never saw them again. Ball remained...

read more

PREFACE.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 9-10

The story which follows is true in every particular Responsible citizens of a neighboring State can vouch for the reality of the narrative. The language of the slave has not at all times been strictly adhered to, as a half century of bondage unfitted him for literary work The subject of the story is still a slave...

FIFTY YEARS IN CHAINS; or, THE LIFE OF AN AMERICAN SLAVE.

read more

CHAPTER I.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 12-19

My grandfather was brought from Africa and sold as a slave in Calvert county, in Maryland. I never understood the name of the ship in which he was imported, nor the name of the planter who bought him on his arrival, but at the time I knew him he was a slave in a family called...

read more

CHAPTER II.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 20-32

Some short time after my wife became chambermaid to her mistress, it was my misfortune to change masters once more. Levin Ballard, who, as before stated, had purchased me of the children of my former master, Jack Cox, was successful in his law suit with Mr. Gibson, the object of which...

read more

CHAPTER III.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 33-45

It was manifest that I was now in a country where the life of a black man was no more regarded than that of an ox, except as far as the man was worth the more money in the market. On all the plantations that we passed, there was a want of live stock of every description, except slaves, and they were...

read more

CHAPTER IV.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 46-56

It was now about the middle of June, the weather excessively warm, and from eleven o’clock. A. M., until late in the afternoon, the sand about our residence was so hot that we could not stand on it with our bare feet in one posture, more than one or two minutes. The whole country, so far as...

read more

CHAPTER V.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 57-65

We had been stationed in the old cotton-gin house about twenty days, had recovered from the fatigues of our journey, and were greatly improved in our strength and appearance, when our master returned one evening, after an absence of two days, and told us that we must go to Columbia the next...

read more

CHAPTER VI.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 66-73

By the laws of the United States I am still a slave; and though I am now growing old, I might even yet be deemed of sufficient value to be worth pursuing as far as my present residence, if those to whom the law gives the right of dominion over my person and life, knew where to find...

read more

CHAPTER VII.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 74-84

The overseer was calling over the names of the whole from a little book, and the first name I heard was that of my companion—Lydia. As she did not answer, I said, “Master, the woman that carries her baby on her back will be here in a minute.” He paid no attention to what I said, but went on...

read more

CHAPTER VIII.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 85-87

At the time of which I now speak, the rice was ripe, and ready to be gathered. On Monday morning, after our feast, the overseer took the whole of us to the rice field, to enter upon the harvest of this crop. The field lay in a piece of low ground, near the river, and in such a position that it could be...

read more

CHAPTER IX.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 88-110

It is impossible to reconcile the mind of the native slave to the idea of living in a state of perfect equality, end boundless affection, with the white people. Heaven will be no heaven to him, if he is not to be avenged of his enemies. I know, from experience, that these are the fundamental rules of...

read more

CHAPTER X.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 111-120

I have before observed that the negroes of the cotton plantations are exceedingly superstitious; and they are indeed prone, beyond all other people that I have ever known, to believe in ghosts, and the existence of an infinite number of supernatural agents. No story of a miraculous character can be...

read more

CHAPTER XI.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 121-135

Early in March, my seine being now completed, my master told me I must take with me three other black men, and go to the river to clear out a fishery. This task was a disagreeable job, for it was nothing less than dragging out of the river all the old trees and brush that had sunk to the bottom...

read more

CHAPTER XII.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 136-147

After this the fishing season passed off without anything having happened, worthy of being noticed here. When we left the fishery and returned to the plantation, which was after the middle of April, the corn and cotton had been planted, and the latter had been replanted. I was set to...

read more

CHAPTER XIII.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 148-156

An affair was now in progress, which, though the persons who were actors in it were far removed from me, had in its effects a great influence upon the fortunes of my life. I have informed the reader that my master had three daughters, and that the second of the sisters was deemed a great beauty...

read more

CHAPTER XIV.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 157-172

The country I now lived in was new, and abounded with every sort of game common to a new settlement. Wages were high, and I could sometimes earn a dollar and a half a day by doing job work on Sunday. The price of a day’s work here was a dollar. My master paid me regularly and fairly...

read more

CHAPTER XV.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 173-181

My master died in the month of May, and I followed him to his grave with a heavy heart, for I felt that I had lost the only friend I had in the world, who possessed at once the power and the inclination to protect me against the tyranny and oppression to which slaves on a cotton plantation...

read more

CHAPTER XVI.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 182-192

I could not believe it possible that the white people whom I had just left, would give information of the route I had taken; but as it was possible that all who dwelt on this plantation might not be so pure of heart as were they who possessed it, I thought it prudent to travel some distance in the woods...

read more

CHAPTER XVII.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 193-201

On the twenty-fourth of October, according to my computation, in a dark night, I came to a river which appeared to be both broad and deep. Sounding its depth with a pole, I found it too deep to be forded, and after the most careful search along the shore, no boat could be discovered. This place...

read more

CHAPTER XVIII.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 202-217

The month of November is, in all years, a season of clouds and vapors; but at the time of which I write, the good weather vanished early in the month, and all the clouds of the universe seemed to have collected in North Carolina. From the second night after crossing the Catawba, I did not see the...

read more

CHAPTER XIX.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 218-226

In the month of June, 18—, as I was ploughing in my lot, three gentlemen rode up to my fence, and alighting from their horses, all came over the fence and approached me, when one of them told me he was the sheriff, and had a writ in his pocket, which commanded him to take me to...

read more

CHAPTER XX.

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 227-239

The name of my new master was Jones, a planter, who was only a visiter in this part of the country; his residence being about fifty miles down the country. The next day, my new master set off with me to the place of his residence; permitting me to walk behind him, as he rode on...