- Austin Steward: Twenty-Two Years A Slave and Forty Years A Freeman, and: An Autobiography of the Reverend Josiah Henson, and: The Narrative of William W[ells] Brown A Fugitive Slave. . . ., and: The Refugee: A North-side View of Slavery, and: Slave Life in Georgia . . . A Narrative of . . . John Brown, A Fugitive Slave (review)
- Civil War History
- The Kent State University Press
- Volume 19, Number 3, September 1973
- pp. 285-287
- View Citation
- Additional Information
book reviews285 1868. Mrs. Jones moved to New Orleans in that year,' after her defeat at Montevideo, to live with her married daughter; she died in 1869. Both of her sons enjoyed distinguished post-war careers. Joseph won an international reputation for his medical investigations, especially in tropical diseases. Charles moved to New York in 1866 in an effort to support his family, but returned to Georgia in 1877 and settled near Augusta, where he gained a considerable reputation as a historian as well as an attorney. Charles tried to keep the old house at Montevideo in repair, but it could no more be preserved than would the society of which it was a symbol. It gradually decayed, passed out of the family after Charles's death, and at last vanished around 1900. Nothing remains now but a brick foundation and hints of a garden long since engulfed by the subtropical vegetation. "A mile distant," writes Mr. Myers, "the plantation gates still stand, mute evidence of a day that is dead; and streamlined trains, chrome-plated in the sunlight, streak past bound for New York. The rest is silence." ( p. 1440 ) . Ludwell H. Johnson College of William and Mary Austin Steward: Twenty-Two Years A Slave and Forty Years A Freeman . Introduced by Jane H. and William H. Pease. (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1969. Pp. xiv, 221. $2.95.) An Autobiography of the Reverend Josiah Henson. Introduced by Robin W. Winks. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1969. Pp. xxxiv. 190. $2.95.) The Narrative of William W[ells] Brown A Fugitive Slave. . . . ( Introduced by Larry Gara. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1969. Pp. xvii, 98. $2.45.) The Refugee: A North-side View of Slavery. By Benjamin Drew. ( Introduced by Tilden G. Edelstein. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1969. Pp. xxii, 272. $2.95.) Slave Life in Georgia ... A Narrative of . . . John Brown, A Fugitive Slave. Edited by F. N. Boney. (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1972. Pp. xxi, 206.) The period before the Civil War witnessed the publication of over eighty slave narratives. Indeed, they became an important weapon in the abolitionists' anti-slavery arsenal, for these works graphically focused upon the dehumanizing effect of the South's peculiar institution. Collectively, the narratives presented a colorful, yet tragic, commentary on a social and economic system which for more than two centuries held a region in its grasp, and which defied natural death. Those who sustained slavery were ill-equipped to record adequately 286CIVIL WAR HISTORY or justly the feelings and thoughts of those blacks who were imprisoned by the institution. Rarely in history has a master class exerted such an effort. In short, economic well-being militates against it. While the slave narratives represented no corrective for the rationalizations upon which slavery was built, they did add a chapter to the history of slavery which many could not ignore and to which the present day scholar must turn. They tell of the pathos, the personal sufferings, the love, the hate, and the broad panorama of slave life which statistics and quantitative history can never reveal. And, too, they clearly suggest how difficult it is to imprison a man's mind though his body labors in bondage . Most of the narratives here are now familiar to serious students of slavery and abolition. Two of them, Henson and William Wfells] Brown, were written by "highly publicized" fugitives whose books received relatively wide circulation in their day. Josiah Henson became identified in the minds of many, with some encouragement from him, with Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom"; and Brown achieved notability as this country's first black historian and novelist. Austin Steward 's autobiographical statement takes on meaning since his freedom resulted from emancipation in New York State, and for his commentary on the difficulty of a free black in American society. Benjamin Drew's Refugee is a compilation of over one hundred brief narratives of slaves who fled to Canada prior to 1855, and to which historians have turned for glimpses of slavery from "beneath." John Brown's Slave Life in Georgia is lesser known than the others but is not without significance, if for no other reason than its vivid depiction of life in...