Through her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs, under the pseudonym Linda Brent, documents her story under slavery and her escape to freedom for her and her children and is addressed to the “people of the Free States” (Jacobs 3) who do not fully comprehend the evils of slavery. She makes appeals to expand their knowledge of the matter and states “only by experience can any one realize how deep, and dark, and foul is that pit of abominations” (Jacobs 3). As she recounts, Jacobs was born into slavery and after the death of her parents at a young age, and was raised by her free colored grandmother. Jacobs then spends the next twenty years under her mistress’s father, Dr. Flint, and his jealous wife. While serving under Dr. Flint, Jacobs speaks of her struggles, the harms done to other slaves, and the unwelcomed sexual advances that her and other female slaves faced by their masters. Though rather than submit to Dr. Flint and in her attempt to escape him, Jacobs becomes involved with a white neighbor, Mr. Sands, and bears his two children. This angers Dr. Flint, leading him to separate her from her family, and sends her to work at his son’s plantation (Jacobs 72). Soon after her escape from the plantation, she is forced to hide in a crawlspace in her grandmother’s house. After seven years of hiding, Jacobs finally escapes to the North. Once there, she explains her trials as a fugitive slave, her attempts to be with her children, and eventually her freedom.
Though born a slave, Jacobs’ family remained, for the most part, intact. Members of her family and personal friends guided and sheltered her for the majority of her life. Referring to her early years, she...
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...ir church was demolished, forbidding them to meet together and forcing them to attend with the whites as they believed “it would be well enough to give the slaves enough of religious instruction to keep them from murdering their masters” (Jacobs 59). Once the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed by Congress, it began “a reign of terror to the colored population” (Jacobs 155); many colored households felt very vulnerable by fear of capture and being sent back to the South. Harriet tried to stay indoors “in a state of anxiety” for fear of being captured; she writes “I was, in fact, a slave in New York, as subject to slave laws as I had been in a Slave State. Strange incongruity in a State called free!” (Jacobs 158). However, when she learned that once again Dr. Flint was back in New York in an attempt to bring her back, she had no choice but to flee to another state.
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