TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE

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1853
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Riveting anecdote about life in the antebellum South, from the standpoint of an oppressed, formerly free New York black kidnapped and sold into slavery.

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Page 120 - ... takes the rope from my neck.- — Misery. — The gathering of the slaves in Eliza's cabin. — Their kindness. — Rachel repeats the occurrences of the day. — Lawson entertains his companions with an account of his ride. — Chapin's apprehensions of Tibeats. — Hired to Peter Tanner. — Peter expounds the scriptures. — Description of the stocks. As the sun approached the meridian that day it became insufferably warm. Its hot rays scorched the ground. The earth almost blistered the foot...
Page 217 - Sabbath days, when an hour or two of leisure was allowed, it would accompany me to some quiet place on the bayou bank, and, lifting up its voice, discourse kindly and pleasantly indeed. It heralded my name round the country — made me friends, who, otherwise would not have noticed me — gave me an honored seat at the yearly feasts, and secured the loudest and heartiest welcome of them all at the Christmas dance. The Christmas dance! Oh, ye pleasure-seeking sons and daughters of idleness, who move...
Page 170 - With a prayer that he may be on his feet and wide awake at the first sound of the horn, he sinks to his slumbers nightly. The softest couches in the world are not to be found in the log mansion of the slave. The one whereon I reclined year after year, was a plank twelve inches wide and ten feet long. My pillow was a stick of wood. The bedding was a coarse blanket, and not a rag or shred beside. Moss might be used, were it not that it directly breeds a swarm of fleas. The cabin is constructed of logs,...
Page 167 - The day's work over in the field, the baskets are "toted" or in other words carried to the ginhouse, where the cotton is weighed. No matter how fatigued and weary he may be — no matter how much he longs for sleep and rest — a slave never approaches the ginhouse with his basket of cotton but with fear. If it falls short in weight — if he has not performed the full task appointed him — he knows that he must suffer. And if he has exceeded it by ten or twenty pounds, in all probability his master...
Page 168 - Then a fire must be kindled in the cabin, the corn ground in the small hand-mill, and supper, and dinner for the next day in the field, prepared. All that is allowed them is corn and bacon, which is given out at the corncrib and smoke-house every Sunday morning. Each one receives, as his weekly allowance, three and a half pounds of bacon, and corn enough to make a peck of meal. That is all — no tea, coffee, sugar, and with the exception of a very scanty sprinkling now and then, no salt. I can say,...
Page 207 - ... they will come back with another story in their mouths. Let them know the heart of the poor slave — learn his secret thoughts — thoughts he dare not utter in the hearing of the white man; let them sit by him in the silent watches of the night — converse with him in trustful confidence, of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...
Page 168 - ... as wide, covered with boards or plank, with narrow walks running between them. This done, the labor of the day is not yet ended, by any means. Each one must then attend to his respective chores. One feeds the mules, another the swine — another cuts the wood, and so forth; besides, the packing is all done by candle light. Finally, at a late hour, they reach the quarters, sleepy and overcome with the long day's toil.
Page 18 - Works of fiction, professing to portray its features in their more pleasing as well as more repugnant aspects, have been circulated to an extent unprecedented, and, as I understand, have created a fruitful topic of comment and discussion. I can speak of Slavery only so far as it came under my own observation — only so far as I have known and experienced it in my own person. My object is, to give a candid and truthful statement of facts: to repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration, leaving...
Page 76 - Who shipped that nigger?" he again inquired of the captain, pointing to me. "Burch," replied the captain. "Your name is Platt — you answer my description. Why don't you come forward?" he demanded of me, in an angry tone. I informed him that was not my name; that I had never been called by it, but that I had no objection to it as I knew of. "Well, I will learn you your name," said he; "and so you won't forget it either, by ," he added. Mr. Theophilus Freeman, by the way, was not a whit behind his...
Page 217 - It introduced me to great houses — relieved me of many days' labor in the field — supplied me with conveniences for my cabin — with pipes and tobacco, and extra pairs of shoes, and oftentimes led me away from the presence of a hard master, to witness scenes of jollity and mirth. It was my companion — the friend of my bosom triumphing loudly when I was joyful, and uttering its soft, melodious consolations when I was sad.

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