Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by Himself eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 190 pages of information about Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by Himself.

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, scourgings 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.

Not many months after I took up my residence on Wm. Gatewood’s plantation, Malinda made me a father.  The dear little daughter was called Mary Frances.  She was nurtured and caressed by her mother and father, until she was large enough to creep over the floor after her parents, and climb up by a chair before I felt it to be my duty to leave my family and go into a foreign country for a season.  Malinda’s business was to labor out in the field the greater part of her time, and there was no one to take care of poor little Frances, while her mother was toiling in the field.  She was left at the house to creep under the feet of an unmerciful old mistress, whom I have known to slap with her hand the face of little Frances, for crying after her mother, until her little face was left black and blue.  I recollect that Malinda and myself came from the field one summer’s day at noon, and poor little Frances came creeping to her mother smiling, but with large tear drops standing in her dear little eyes, sobbing and trying to tell her mother that she had been abused, but was not able to utter a word.  Her little face was bruised black with the whole print of Mrs. Gatewood’s hand.  This print was plainly to be seen for eight days after it was done.  But oh! this darling child was a slave; born of a slave mother.  Who can imagine what could be the feelings of a father and mother, when looking upon their infant child whipped and tortured with impunity, and they placed in a situation where they could afford it no protection.  But we were all claimed and held as property; the father and mother were slaves!

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Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by Himself from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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