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South Carolina – Slave Narratives, Autobiographies


Also see African-Americans - 1525-1865 main page


  • A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball - 1837 - attests to both the cruelty and tenderness white owners showed their slaves

  • Ben Horry - WPA interview of 89-year-old Ben Horry (pronounced "or-ree"), who recollects his childhood as a slave in Murrells Inlet - includes descriptions of his former owner ("Our master treat us right"), a slave family's food rations, the arrival of the Union army, the beauty of Brookgreen Gardens, his work as a boatman, and even how Goat Island got its name - transcript is written phonetically and does not include the interviewer's questions
    A note on reading WPA interviews

  • John Andrew Jackson - 1862 - Jackson's essay Experience of a Slave in South Carolina has been called "a powerful testimonial of incredible sufferings and toils of black people in the 19th century United States of America." In it Jackson explains, among other things, that "marriage [was] a fiction" and meant "absolutely 'Nil;'" that their "clothes were rags, and [they] were all half naked;" and even they would wake to discover "that the rats had actually eaten a part of [their] feet."

  • Irving E. Lowery - 1887 - In his introduction to Life on the Old Plantation in Ante-Bellum Days, or a Story Based on Facts Irving states that it is "his mission to write of the better side" of slavery and to honor the "tenderness ... and mutual affection" of masters and slaves. He describes slave weddings (scroll to page 60), chirstmas gifts (61), funerals (81), "log-rolling" (89), "corn-shucking" (93), and the economic opportunities for black people in South Carolina after the Civil War (137).

  • Jacob Stroyer - 1898 - My Life in the South
    General description of slave quarters and household customs
    Beatings and whippings

  • The Life and Adventures of Zamba, an African Negro King; and His Experience of Slavery in South Carolina - Charleston - 1847 - scroll down
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