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The Blind African Slave

Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace

Jeffrey Brace, as told to Benjamin F. Prentiss, Esq.

Publication Year: 2004

The Blind African Slave recounts the life of Jeffrey Brace (né Boyrereau Brinch), who was born in West Africa around 1742. Captured by slave traders at the age of sixteen, Brace was transported to Barbados, where he experienced the shock and trauma of slave-breaking and was sold to a New England ship captain. After fighting as an enslaved sailor for two years in the Seven Years War, Brace was taken to New Haven, Connecticut, and sold into slavery. After several years in New England, Brace enlisted in the Continental Army in hopes of winning his manumission. After five years of military service, he was honorably discharged and was freed from slavery. As a free man, he chose in 1784 to move to Vermont, the first state to make slavery illegal. There, he met and married an African woman, bought a farm, and raised a family. Although literate, he was blind when he decided to publish his life story, which he narrated to a white antislavery lawyer, Benjamin Prentiss, who published it in 1810. Upon his death in 1827, Brace was a well-respected abolitionist. In this first new edition since 1810, Kari J. Winter provides a historical introduction, annotations, and original documents that verify and supplement our knowledge of Brace's life and times.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Illustration List

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xvi

When I first read a fragile copy of The Blind African Slave in the Special Collections of the Bailey-Howe Library at the University of Vermont, I was persuaded and moved by the narrator’s voice and the stories he told about his capture, the perfidy of English slave traders, the horror of the Middle Passage, the brutality of slavery in New England, and the...

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pp. 3-84

In 1810 in St. Albans, Vermont, a small town near the Canadian border, an anomalous narrative of slavery was published by an obscure printer. Entitled The Blind African Slave; Or, Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace, it was greeted with no fanfare, and it has remained for nearly two hundred years a faint specter in our cultural...

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A Note on the Text

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pp. 85-86

This edition follows the original 1810 edition. For the ease of the reader, I have silently corrected some of the obvious printing, punctuation, subject- verb agreement and spelling errors that appear to me to have no meaning or relation to either the conscious authorial intentions or the unconscious attitudes of Prentiss or Brace. For example, “accordding” is...

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The Blind African Slave; Or, Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace

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pp. 87-183

The following sheets contain a general narrative of an African slave; some account of his ancestors, the kingdom of Bow-woo situated on the river Neboah or Niger in the interior of Africa; a description of the soil, climate, vegetables, animals, fowls, fishes, inhabitants, population, government, religion, manners, customs, & c. With a detail of the manner in which he...

Appendix A: Deeds of Manumission Drawn by William Welch

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pp. 185-192

Appendix B: Legal Documents Related to Jeffrey Brace’s Military Pension Application, 1818–1821

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pp. 193-216

Appendix C: Documents related to Jeffrey Brace’s Land Transactions and Estate

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pp. 217-222

Appendix D: A Brace Chronology

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pp. 223-226


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pp. 227-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780299201432
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299201449

Publication Year: 2004