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Slavery, Source Material and Critical Literature

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About this Collection

Slavery: Source Materials & Critical Literature (LCP)

Introduction : Slavery, Source Materials and Critical Literature

In 1844, Henry Bibb, an African slave who had escaped a Kentucky plantation for Canada, received a letter from his former master, William Gatewood. Gatewood wrote to ask Bibb whether the Henry Bibb who authored an abolitionist newspaper, Voice of the Fugitive, distributed in the South, was the Henry Bibb hed once owned. Bibb replied:

"Dear Sir:--I am happy to inform you that you are not mistaken in the man whom you sold as property, and received pay for as such. But I thank God that I am not property now, but am regarded as a man like yourself andlive far north. If you should ever chance to be traveling this way, and will call on me, I will use you better than you did me while you held me as a slave. To be compelled to stand by and see you whip and slash my wife without mercy, when I could afford her no protection, not even by offering myself to suffer the lash in her place, was more than I felt it to be the duty of a slave husband to endure, while the way was open to Canada. My infant child was also frequently flogged by Mrs. Gatewood, for crying, until its skin was bruised literally purple. This kind of treatment was what drove me from home and family, to seek a better life for them. But I am willing to forget the past."

By turns bitter and forgiving, angry and dignified, Bibbs letter is an exemplary primary source. It communicates history by telling not only how history happened, but how what happened felt.

In 1954, the Lost Cause Press initiated this collection with basic course material on the history of the Southern Black. Selections were made from Dwight L. Dumonds A bibliography of Antislavery Literature in America (University of Michigan Press, 1961) and from the holdings of the Library of Congress. Primary Source Microfilm, an imprint of the Gale Group, added the seventeenth and final unit to the collection.

This guide provides access to the thousands of primary source documents on slavery in the United States included in the collection. Here for the first time in a single place is an index to more than 11,000 microfiche of crucial slavery source materials. Researchers from a wide variety of academic levels and disciplines can search works not only on slavery in the American South, but on forced migration and servitude throughout the Americas, from the earliest days of European colonization.