The Life of Josiah Henson: Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada

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A. D. Phelps, 1849 - Slavery - 76 pages

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The life of Josiah Henson is told with a matter of fact narrative that allows the reader to empathise with the aspirations and crises of which the narrators life comprised.
It is also historically significant, having inspired the best selling novel of the 19th century.

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Page 19 - ... prices than any one else he could employ ; and he was quite incompetent to attend to the business himself. For many years I was his factotum, and supplied him with all his means for all his purposes, whether they were good or bad. I had no reason to think highly of his moral character ; but it was my duty to be faithful to him in the position in which he placed me ; and I can boldly declare, before God and man, that I was so. I forgave him the causeless blows and injuries he had inflicted on...
Page 4 - My mother, half distracted with the thought of parting forever from all her children, pushed through the crowd, while the bidding for me was going on, to the spot where Riley was standing. She fell at his feet, and clung to his knees, entreating him in tones that a mother only could command, to buy her baby as well as herself, and spare to her one, at least, of her little ones.
Page 4 - I seem to see and hear my poor weeping mother now. This was one of my earliest observations of men; an experience which I only shared with thousands of my race, the bitterness of which to any individual who suffers it cannot be diminished by the frequency of its recurrence, while it is dark enough to overshadow the whole afterlife with something blacker than a funeral pall.
Page 14 - Father, and the manner in which men of different colour actually treated each other, is well exemplified by an incident that happened to me within a year or two from this period; that is, when I was nineteen or twenty years old. My master's habits were such as were common enough among the dissipated planters of the neighborhood; and one of their frequent practices was to assemble on Saturday or Sunday, which were their holidays, and gamble, run horses, or fight game-cocks, discuss politics, and drink...
Page 1 - His right ear had been cut off close to his head, and he had received a hundred lashes on his back. He had beaten the overseer for a brutal assault on my mother, and this was his punishment.
Page 42 - Amos and the hands were all asleep below, and I crept down noiselessly, got hold of an axe, entered the cabin, and looking by the aid of the dim light there for my victims, my eye fell upon Master Amos, who was nearest to me; my hand slid along the axehandle, I raised it to strike the fatal blow, when suddenly the thought came to me, " What ! commit murder ! and you a Christian ?" I had not called it murder before.
Page 47 - I had acquired, even under the barbarous laws of slavery, by the money I had paid for myself. If Isaac had only been honest enough to adhere to his bargain, I would have adhered to mine, and paid him all I had promised. But his attempt to kidnap me again, after having pocketed three-fourths of my market value, in my opinion, absolved me from all obligation to pay him any more, or to continue in a position which exposed me to his machinations.
Page 11 - That he, by the grace of God, should taste of death for every man." This was the first text of the Bible to which I had ever listened, knowing it to be such. I have never forgotten it, and...
Page 52 - Hull, made in the last war with Great Britain, and might then safely travel by day. We found the road, accordingly, by the large sycamore and elms which marked its beginning, and entered upon it with fresh spirits early in the day. Nobody had told us that it was cut through the wilderness, and I had neglected to provide any food, thinking we should soon come to some habitation, where we could be supplied. But we travelled on all day without seeing one, and lay down at night, hungry and weary enough....

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