Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Slavery and the Making of AmericaPolitical caricature depicting black and white men and women interacting
Time and Place Slave Memories Resources The Slave Experience

The Slave Experience: Men, Women & Gender
Intro Historical Overview Character Spotlight Slave Clothing Personal Narratives Original Docs
Original Documents Men, Women & Gender

The NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE AND ADVENTURE OF HENRY BIBB, AN AMERICAN SLAVE
1849
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division
return to main documents page
Photo of an excerpt from The NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE AND ADVENTURE OF HENRY BIBB, AN AMERICAN SLAVE
view full-sized image
Document Description
Former slave Henry Bibb writes about the early years of his married life, his relationship with his enslaved wife, Malinda, and the birth of their daughter, Mary Frances, in this autobiographical narrative.

Transcript
Some months after our marriage, the unfeeling master to whom I belonged, sold his farm with the view of moving his slaves to the State of Missouri, regardless of the separation of husbands and wives forever; but for fear of my resuming my old practice of running away, if he should have forced me to leave my wife, by my repeated requests, he was constrained to sell me to his brother, who lived within seven miles of Wm. Gatewood, who then held Malinda as his property. I was permitted to visit her only on Saturday nights, after my work was done, and I had to be at home before sunrise on Monday mornings or take a flogging. He proved to be so oppressive, and so unreasonable in punishing his victims, that I soon found that I should have to run away in self-defence. But he soon began to take the hint, and sold me to Wm. Gatewood the owner of Malinda. With my new residence I confess that I was much dissatisfied. Not that Gatewood was a more cruel master than my former owner -- not that I was opposed to living with Malinda, who was then the centre and object of my affections -- but to live where I must be eye witness to her insults, scourings and abuses, such as are common to be inflicted upon slaves, was more than I could bear. If my wife must be exposed to the insults and licentious passions of wicked slavedrivers and overseers; if she must bear the stripes of the lash laid on by an unmerciful tyrant; if this is to be done with impunity, which is frequently done by slaveholders and their abettors, Heaven forbid that I should be compelled to witness the sight.

email this page to a friend
About the Series K-12 Learning Feedback Support PBS
Go!