William Wells Brown

A Slave Narrative

Slavery in America during the 17th and 18th century was a good yet absolutely horrible time for people in America. Why was it good? It was good because there was a lot of crop production due to all the slaves that there were. There were slaves for almost everything. The horrible part about it was how the slaves were treated. They were flogged (whipped), beaten, starved, raped, and smoked (put in a tobacco barn and the owners would burn tobacco for a while after they flogged them). Though thanks to President Abraham Lincoln slavery was abolished.
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William Wells Brown

  • William was born in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1814. He's the son of George Higgins, a plantation owner, and the son of Elizabeth a slave. William has 6 other siblings. There is Solomon, Leander, Benjamin, Joseph, Millford, and Elizabeth. William was a house slave he was treated better than the field workers. When he was a child his master moved to Saint Charles, Missouri. His master owned about forty slaves, twenty-five of them were field workers. In addition to his master being a physician he was also a miller, merchant, and a farmer and he normally would harvest only tobacco and hemp. Williams master later on moved to St. Louis. His mother was hired out to the city and he was also hired out in the city to a Major Freeland. Major Freeland was from Virginia, and was a horse-racer, cock-fighter, gambler, and a drunk. Major Freeland had ten to twelve slaves in the house and when he was around it was cut, slash, knock-down, and drag out. When he wished to punish them he would tie the slaves up and whip them. After that he would start a fire made of tobacco stems and smoke them. After sometime with Major Freeland; William decided to run away and when he did he complained to his previous master about the way Major Freeland treated him, but his previous master didn't care for William at all; all he cared about was the money he receives for Williams labor. When William returned he was severely punished with a flogging and being smoked. William was eventually hired by Elijah P. Lovejoy who was an editor and publisher of the St. Louis Times. Williams work while he was with Mr. Lovejoy included working in the printing office, waiting on hands, and working the press, etc. In 1834 William managed to escape to Dayton, Ohio where he was helped by Wells Brown whom was a quaker. William stayed with Wells Brown for twelve to fifteen days and during that time they made William some clothes and Wells bought him a pair of boots. Before William left Wells brown asked him if he had any other name besides William. William had replied saying that he has no other name. Wells had then said "Since thee has got out of slavery, thee has become a man, and men always have two names". William then decided to adopt the name of the man who saved him. William Wells Brown then became a conductor of the Underground Railroad and worked on a Lake Erie steamer ferrying slaves to Canada.
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In 1847 William Wells Brown published his first book. The Narrative of William W. Brown A Fugitive Slave.