The narratives of former slaves in the United States continue to be discovered and published, most recently David Blight’s A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation (2007).
(See also "Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs: American Slave Narrators" in Freedom's Story.) The earliest slave narrative to receive international attention was the two-volume Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789), which traces Equiano’s career from West African boyhood, through the dreadful transatlantic Middle Passage, to eventual freedom and economic success as a British citizen.
Du Bois "It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.
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From 1760 to the end of the Civil War in the United States, approximately 100 autobiographies of fugitive or former slaves appeared.
After slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865, at least 50 former slaves wrote or dictated book-length accounts of their lives.After slavery was abolished in North America in 1865, at least fifty former slaves wrote or dictated book-length accounts of their lives.During the Depression of the 1930s, the Federal Writers Project gathered oral personal histories from 2,500 former slaves, whose testimony eventually filled eighteen volumes.In response, the narratives of Frederick Douglass (1845), William Wells Brown (1847), Henry Bibb (1849), Sojourner Truth (1850), Solomon Northup (1853), and William and Ellen Craft (1860) claimed thousands of readers in England as well as the United States.Typically, the American slave narrative centres on the narrator’s rite of passage from slavery in the South to freedom in the North.The most widely read and hotly disputed American novel of the 19th century, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (1852), was profoundly influenced by its author’s reading of slave narratives, to which she owed many graphic incidents and the models for some of her most memorable characters.Revising and expanding his original life story, Frederick Douglass wrote Hannah Crafts—purports to be the autobiography of a fugitive slave from North Carolina.When I recovered a little I found some black people about me.…I asked them if we were not to be eaten by those white men with horrible looks, red faces, and loose hair.Documents discovered at the turn of the 21st century, which suggest that Olaudah Equiano may have been born in North America, have raised questions, still unresolved, about whether his accounts of Africa and the Middle Passage are based on memory, reading, or a combination of the two.abolition movement in the early 19th century came a demand for hard-hitting eyewitness accounts of the harsh realities of slavery in the United States.Former slaves who joined the post-Civil War working class began to publish their stories later in the 19th century, often articulating their disillusionment with specious promises of freedom in the North in the manner of (1901), a classic American success story that extolled African American progress and interracial cooperation since the end of slavery in 1865.Notable modern African American autobiographies, such as Richard Wright’s (1987), bear the imprint of the slave narrative, particularly in probing the origins of psychological as well as social oppression and in their searching critique of the meaning of freedom for 20th-century black and white Americans alike.