African American Slave Narratives: An Anthology - Vol. 1

By Sterling Lecater Bland Jr. | Go to book overview

3

LUNSFORD LANE
(1803–?)

THE NARRATIVE OF LUNSFORD LANE

What is known about Lunsford Lane is primarily contained in the information he presents in his Narrative. Lane was born near Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 30, 1803. The Narrative is a Franklinesque story illustrating the importance of hard work and economic independence as necessary steps toward freedom and self-determination. Lane’s Narrative places the potential his entrepreneurial skills provide him in direct relationship to the confining, limiting nature of the slave system. Even his earliest awareness of slavery is juxtaposed against his mindfulness that the slave system, above all things, functions around the buying and selling of human bodies as much as it operates on the concept of subjugation based on race. Lane writes that “To know, also, that I was never to consult my own will, but was, while I lived, to be entirely under the control of another, was another state of mind hard for me to bear. Indeed all things now made me feel, what I had before known only in words, that I was a slave. Deep was this feeling and it preyed upon my heart like a neverdying worm.”

Other narrators tend to balance their feelings of being a slave against their desire to escape. Henry Bibb’s Narrative, for example, is almost entirely structured by his pattern of escape and recapture. For Lane, however, escape is replaced by his talent for business. Lane discovers his talent for trade soon after he realizes his enslavement: “One day, while I was in this state of mind, my father gave me a small basket of peaches. I sold them for thirty cents, which was the first money I ever had in my life. Afterwards I won some marbles, and sold them for sixty cents, and some weeks after, Mr. Hog, from Fayetteville, came to visit my master, and on leaving gave me one dollar. After

-89-

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African American Slave Narratives: An Anthology - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - NAT TURNER 23
  • 2 - MOSES ROPER 47
  • 3 - LUNSFORD LANE 89
  • 4 - LEWIS CLARKE AND MILTON CLARKE *
  • 5 - WILLIAM HAYDEN *
  • 6 - WILLIAM WELLS BROWN *
  • 7 - HENRY WALTON BIBB *
  • 8 - HENRY "BOX" BROWN *
  • 9 - JOSIAH HENSON *
  • 10 - JAMES W. C. PENNINGTON *
  • 11 - WILLIAM GREEN *
  • 12 - JOHN THOMPSON *
  • 13 - AUSTIN STEWARD *
  • 14 - REVEREND NOAH DAVIS *
  • 15 - WILLIAM AND ELLEN CRAFT *
  • 16 - JAMES MARS *
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