Narrative of William W. Brown, An American Slave

By William Wells Brown | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I.

I was born in Lexington, Ky. The man who stole me as soon as I was born, recorded the births of all the infants which he claimed to be born his property, in a book which he kept for that purpose. My mother’s name was Elizabeth. She had seven children, viz.: Solomon, Leander, Benjamin, Joseph, Millford, Elizabeth, and myself. No two of us were children of the same father. My father’s name, as I learned from my mother, was George Higgins. He was a white man, a relative of my master, and connected with some of the first families in Kentucky.

My master owned about forty slaves, twenty-five of whom were field hands. He removed from Kentucky to Missouri when I was quite young, and settled thirty or forty miles above St. Charles, [Page 14]on the Missouri, where, in addition to his practice as a physician, he carried on milling, merchandizing and farming. He had a large farm, the principal productions of which were tobacco and hemp. The slave cabins were situated on the back part of the farm, with the house of the overseer, whose name was Grove Cook, in their midst. He had the entire charge of the farm, and having no family, was allowed a woman to keep house for him, whose business it was to deal out the provisions for the hands.

A woman was also kept at the quarters to do the cooking for the field hands, who were summoned to their unrequited toil every morning, at four o’clock, by the ringing of a bell, hung on a post near the house of the overseer. They were allowed half an hour to eat their breakfast, and get to the field. At half past four a horn was blown by the overseer, which was the signal to commence work; and every one that was not on the spot at the time, had to receive ten lashes from the negro-whip, with which the overseer always went armed. The handle was about three feet long, with the butt-end filled with lead, and the lash, six or seven feet in length, made of

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Narrative of William W. Brown, An American Slave
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • About This Edition 3
  • Narrative of William W. Brown, an American Slave 6
  • Preface 8
  • Narrative 17
  • Chapter I 18
  • Chapter II 22
  • Chapter III 25
  • Chapter IV 30
  • Chapter V 33
  • Chapter VI 42
  • Chapter VII 44
  • Chapter VIII 48
  • Chapter IX 51
  • Chapter X 57
  • Chapter XI 60
  • Chapter XII 67
  • From the Liberty Bell of 1848 74
  • Flight of the Bondman 77
  • Freedom’s Star 79
  • Lament of the Fugitive Slave 80
  • Appendix 83
  • Testimonials 106
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