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Harriet Ann Jacobs

(Linda Brent)

Harriet Jacobs was born a slave in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1813[1] and had a brother John S. Jacobs. Her father Elijah Knox was an enslaved black house carpenter owned by Andrew Knox. Elijah was... Harriet Jacobs was born a slave in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1813[1] and had a brother John S. Jacobs. Her father Elijah Knox was an enslaved black house carpenter owned by Andrew Knox. Elijah was said to be the son of the enslaved woman Athena Knox and a white farmer, Henry Jacobs.[2] Harriet's mother was Delilah Horniblow, an enslaved black woman held by John Horniblow, a tavern owner. Harriet and John inherited the status of "slave" from their mother. Harriet lived with her mother until Delilah's death around 1819, when Harriet was six.[3] Then she lived with her mother's mistress Margaret Horniblow, who taught Harriet to read, write and sew.
In 1825, Margaret Horniblow died and willed the twelve-year-old Harriet to Horniblow's five-year-old niece. The girl's father, Dr. James Norcom, became Harriet's de facto master. Three months before she died, Jacobs' mistress had signed a will leaving her slaves to her mother, but Dr. James Norcom and a man named Henry Flury witnessed a later codicil to the will directing that Harriet be left to Norcom's daughter, Mary Matilda. The codicil was not signed by Margaret Hornibow.[2]
Norcom sexually harassed Harriet. He refused to allow her to marry, regardless of a man's status. Hoping to escape his attentions, Jacobs took Samuel Sawyer, a free white lawyer, as a consensual lover. He later became a member of the US House of Representatives. With Sawyer, she had two children, Joseph and Louisa. As the children shared Harriet's status and were born into slavery, Norcom was their master.[4] Harriet reported that Norcom threatened to sell her children if she refused his sexual advances. By 1835 her domestic situation had become unbearable, and Harriet deftly managed to escape. Jacobs hid in the home of a slaveowner in Edenton to keep an eye on her children. After a short stay, she took refuge in a swamp called Cabarrus Pocosin. She then hid in a crawl space above a shack in her grandmother Molly’s home.
Jacobs lived for seven years in her grandmother's attic before escaping to the North by boat to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1842. Her children lived with Jacobs' grandmother so, while in hiding, Jacobs had glimpses of them and could hear their voices. Before Jacobs escaped from North Carolina, Sawyer purchased their two children from Norcom and they moved in with Jacobs' Grandmother but he did not free them.[4]
After reaching the North in 1842, Jacobs was taken in by anti-slavery friends from the Philadelphia Vigilant Committee. They helped her get to New York in September 1845.[5] There she found work as a nursemaid in the home of Nathaniel Parker Willis and made a new life. She was also able to see her daughter, Louisa, who had been sent to New York at a young age to be a "waiting-maid".
In 1845, Jacobs' employer Mary Stace Willis died. Jacobs continued to care for Mary's daughter Imogen and assist Nathaniel Willis. In January she traveled to England with him and his daughter. In letters home, Jacobs claimed there was no prejudice against people of color in England. After returning from England, Jacobs left her employment with the Willises and moved to Boston to visit with her daughter, son and brother for ten months. Her brother, John S. Jacobs, who was part of the anti-slavery movement, in 1849 decided to open an anti-slavery reading room in Rochester, New York.[6]
John Jacobs found a school for Louisa and by November 1849, she was attending the Young Ladies Domestic Seminary School located in Clinton, New York. The school was founded by abolitionist Hiram Huntington Kellogg in 1832. In 1849 Jacobs joined her brother in Rochester, New York, where she met Quaker Amy Post. Amy and her husband Isaac were staunch abolitionists. As Jacobs became part of the Anti-Slavery Society, she became very politicized. She helped support the Anti-Slavery Reading Room by speaking to audiences in Rochester to educate people and to raise money.
On October 1, 1850, John S. Jacobs' speech was quoted in Meetings of Colored Citizens. Following the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, both John Jacobs and Harriet Jacobs feared for each other’s safety. They left Rochester together and returned to New York City. John, furious about the act, wanted to leave the country. When he heard that the new state of California did not enforce the act, he decided to go there. He worked in the gold mines during the Gold Rush, where he was joined in 1852 by Joseph, Harriet's son.
On February 29, 1852, Jacobs was informed that Daniel Messmore, the husband of her young legal mistress, had checked into a hotel in New York. To avert the risk of Jacobs being kidnapped, Cornelia Grinnell Willis (Willis' second wife) took Harriet and the Willis baby to a friend’s house where they hid. Cornelia Willis encouraged Jacobs to take the baby and go to Willis relatives in Massachusetts. Without Jacobs' knowledge, Cornelia Willis paid $300 to Messmore for the rights to Harriet and gave Jacobs her freedom. Jacobs returned to New York with the Willis child.[7]
In late 1852 or early 1853, Amy Post suggested that Jacobs should write her life story. She also suggested that Jacobs contact the author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was working on A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. When Stowe wanted to use Jacobs' history in her own book, Jacobs decided to write her own account. She wrote secretly at night, in a nursery in the Willis’ Idle-wild estate.
In June 1853, Jacobs was motivated to respond to an article in the New York Tribune by former first lady Julia Tyler, called “The Women of England vs. the Women of America”. Her letter was her first published work. She thought since she had been through the slave life that Tyler wrote about, she had every right to comment on Tyler's article.
Jacobs continued to write her life and letters to newspapers for the next few years. In 1854, as Nathaniel Parker Willis was downstairs writing Out-doors at Idlewild; Or, The Shaping of a Home on the Banks of the Hudson, Jacobs was upstairs completing her own manuscript.
In 1856, Jacobs' daughter Louisa became a governess in the home of James and Sara Payson Willis Parton (also known as the writer, Fanny Fern and Nathaniel Parker Willis' sister).

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Harriet Ann Jacobs

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a slave narrative that was published in 1861 by Harriet Ann Jacobs, using the pen name "Linda Brent." The book is an in-depth chronological account...
czytelników: 7 | opinie: 0 | ocena: 7,67 (3 głosy)

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