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Nashville: Publishing House of the A.

Booker T. Washington - Up From Slavery - Read by Ossie Davis (1976)

Sunday School Union, Parker, Allen b. Recollections of Slavery Times.

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Worcester, MA: Charles W. Randolph, Peter ? Boston: James H. Earle, Baptist minister, former VA slave, freed in , later served as a justice of the peace in Boston. Ray, Emma J.

Up From Slavery Summary

Smith Introduction by C. Chicago: Free Methodist Publishing House, Former Missouri slave, evangelist, revival leader, faith healer, missionary, and WCTU activist; describes her community and religious work, especially in Seattle after ; affiliated with the A. Roberts, James Chicago: The Author, Former slave recounts his experiences in the Revolutionary War and his pursuit of his freedom. Robinson, W[illiam] H. Tifft, Smith, Amanda Berry Smith, David b. Biography of Rev. David Smith, of the A. Former MD slave and an A. Smith, Harry b. Smith, James Lindsey ?

Autobiography of James L. Offley, James L. Amherst, N. Stroyer, Jacob Sketches of My Life in the South. Introductions by Henry K. Oliver and E. Salem, MA: Salem Press, Reprinted as My Life in the South. New York: Arno Press, Taylor, Susie King b. Introduction by Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Boston: The Author, Walker, Thomas Calhoun As narrated to Florence L. New York: John Day, Ward, Samuel Ringgold b. Autobiography of a Fugitive Negro. London: John Snow, Former MD slave and ordained Congregational minister recounts his experiences prior to and following his escape from slavery.

Washington, Booker Taliaferro New York: Doubleday, Page, The Story of My Life and Work. Naperville, IL: J. Revised and reprinted Naperville, IL: J. Reprinted in The Booker T.

Washington Papers, Vol. Edited by Louis R.

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Harlan et al. Urbana: U of Illinois P, In publicizing the history, programs, and philosophy of his school, the famous principal of Tuskegee Institute also alludes to his own activities and contributions former slave. Watson, Henry b. Narrative of Henry Watson, a Fugitive Slave. Boston : Published by Bela Marsh Wells [Barnett], Ida B. As I was not strong enough to reload the corn upon the horse, I would have to wait, sometimes for many hours, till a chance passer-by came along who would help me out of my trouble.

The hours while waiting for some one were usually spent in crying. The time consumed in this way made me late in reaching the mill, and by the time I got my corn ground and reached home it would be far into the night. The road was a lonely one, and often led through dense forests. I was always frightened.


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The woods were said to be full of soldiers who had deserted from the army, and I had been told that the first thing a deserter did to a Negro boy when he found him alone was to cut off his ears. Besides, when I was late in getting home I knew I would always get a severe scolding or a flogging.

I had no schooling whatever while I was a slave, though I remember on several occasions I went as Page 7 far as the schoolhouse door with one of my young mistresses to carry her books. The picture of several dozen boys and girls in a schoolroom engaged in study made a deep impression upon me, and I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study in this way would be about the same as getting into paradise.


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So far as I can now recall, the first knowledge that I got of the fact that we were slaves, and that freedom of the slaves was being discussed, was early one morning before day, when I was awakened by my mother kneeling over her children and fervently praying that Lincoln and his armies might be successful, and that one day she and her children might be free. In this connection I have never been able to understand how the slaves throughout the South, completely ignorant as were the masses so far as books or newspapers were concerned, were able to keep themselves so accurately and completely informed about the great National questions that were agitating the country.

From the time that Garrison, Lovejoy, and others began to agitate for freedom, the slaves throughout the South kept in close touch with the progress of the movement. Though I was a mere child during the preparation for the Civil War and during the war itself, I now recall the many late-at-night Page 8 whispered discussions that I heard my mother and the other slaves on the plantation indulge in.

These discussions showed that they understood the situation, and that they kept themselves informed of events by what was termed the "grape-vine" telegraph. During the campaign when Lincoln was first a candidate for the Presidency, the slaves on our far-off plantation, miles from any railroad or large city or daily newspaper, knew what the issues involved were. When war was begun between the North and the South, every slave on our plantation felt and knew that, though other issues were discussed, the primal one was that of slavery.

Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington

Even the most ignorant members of my race on the remote plantations felt in their hearts, with a certainty that admitted of no doubt, that the freedom of the slaves would be the one great result of the war, if the Northern armies conquered. Every success of the Federal armies and every defeat of the Confederate forces was watched with the keenest and most intense interest. Often the slaves got knowledge of the results of great battles before the white people received it. This news was usually gotten from the coloured man who was sent to the post-office for the mail.

In our case the post-office was about three miles from the plantation and the mail came once or twice a week. The Page 9 man who was sent to the office would linger about the place long enough to get the drift of the conversation from the group of white people who naturally congregated there, after receiving their mail, to discuss the latest news. The mail-carrier on his way back to our master's house would as naturally retail the news that he had secured among the slaves, and in this way they often heard of important events before the white people at the "big house," as the master's house was called.

I cannot remember a single instance during my childhood or early boyhood when our entire family sat down to the table together, and God's blessing was asked, and the family ate a meal in a civilized manner. On the plantation in Virginia, and even later, meals were gotten by the children very much as dumb animals get theirs. It was a piece of bread here and a scrap of meat there. It was a cup of milk at one time and some potatoes at another. Sometimes a portion of our family would eat out of the skillet or pot, while some one else would eat from a tin plate held on the knees, and often using nothing but the hands with which to hold the food.

When I had grown to sufficient size, I was required to go to the "big house" at meal-times to fan the flies from the table by means of a large set of paper fans operated by a pully. Naturally much of the Page 10 conversation of the white people turned upon the subject of freedom and the war, and I absorbed a good deal of it. I remember that at one time I saw two of my young mistresses and some lady visitors eating ginger-cakes, in the yard.

At that time those cakes seemed to me to be absolutely the most tempting and desirable things that I had ever seen; and I then and there resolved that, if I ever got free, the height of my ambition would be reached if I could get to the point where I could secure and eat ginger-cakes in the way that I saw those ladies doing. Of course as the war was prolonged the white people, in many cases, often found it difficult to secure food for themselves.

I think the slaves felt the deprivation less than the whites, because the usual diet for the slaves was corn bread and pork, and these could be raised on the plantation; but coffee, tea, sugar, and other articles which the whites had been accustomed to use could not be raised on the plantation, and the conditions brought about by the war frequently made it impossible to secure these things. The whites were often in great straits. Parched corn was used for coffee, and a kind of black molasses was used instead of sugar.

Many times nothing was used to sweeten the so-called tea and coffee. The first pair of shoes that I recall wearing were wooden ones. They had rough leather on the top, but the bottoms, which were about an inch thick, were of wood. When I walked they made a fearful noise, and besides this they were very inconvenient since there was no yielding to the natural pressure of the foot. In wearing them one presented an exceedingly awkward appearance.

The most trying ordeal that I was forced to endure as a slave boy, however, was the wearing of a flax shirt. In the portion of Virginia where I lived it was common to use flax as part of the clothing for the slaves.