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Moses Grandy, b. 1786?
Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy, Late a Slave in the United States of America
London: Gilpin, 1843


The following annotations to Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy, Late a Slave in the United States of America were compiled in the fall 2000 by Seton McGowan and Jenny Wong, first-year students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as a class project in Professor William L. Andrews's First-Year Seminar on Slavery and Freedom in African American Literature and Film. We welcome any corrections, additions, or suggested revisions of these annotations. Send feedback to

Title Page

William PittWilliam Pitt, the Younger (1759-1806), British Prime Minister (1783-1801, 1804-06) during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars and a champion of the antislavery cause in England.

Page v

General FessendenWilliam Pitt Fessenden, (1806-1869) Antislavery politician who served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Lincoln from 1865-1866.

Ellis Gray Loring(1803-1858). Abolitionist lawyer and financial supporter of the abolitionist periodical, The Liberator.

Page vi

George Thompson(1804-1878), British antislavery activist.

Page 8

Camden CountyA County in northeastern North Carolina bounded by the North River, Albemarle Sound, and Pasquotank River.

Page 10

HillingTo form into a pile, heap or hill.

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Dismal SwampA swamp in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, bordering the Atlantic ocean.

Page 13

The English Blockade of the ChesapeakeThe Chesapeake, the largest inlet of the Atlantic Coastal Inlet and bordered by Virginia and Maryland, was blockaded by the British fleet during the American Revolutionary War.

Elizabeth CityA shipping port in northeastern North Carolina near the Pasquotank River.

Page 14

Pamlico SoundAn inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in eastern North Carolina.

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"She was blind…the usual manner of old worn-out slaves"A usual custom for slave masters was to move elderly slaves to small homes on the outskirts of their property where they could raise crops, sew, or do other simple tasks once that they were no longer able to handle large responsibilities in the fields or the main house.

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Drama small quantity of money.

Page 18

Albemarle SoundCoastal inlet of the northeastern part of North Carolina.

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Custom HouseA governmental building or office where customs are collected and ships are cleared for entering or leaving the country.

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BrigA two masked sailing ship with square rigging on both masts.

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LighteringTo move cargo using a flat-bottomed barge called a lighter.

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Yellow FliesAlso known as deer flies.

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"Flies to blow sores"Flies blow sores by laying their eggs in open wounds on human and animal flesh.

Oak of JerusalemA solid plant usually around two feet tall which is used to expel intestinal worms and prevent spasms.

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RheumatismA common inflammation of connective tissues, especially muscles and joints.

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Juniper TreeAn evergreen tree whose wood is insect repellent and is often used to build objects used for storage.

Cooper's timberWood for making a barrel or tub for storage.

Page 40

Free PapersPapers attesting to the free status of a person of color in the antebellum United States.

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Whip sawa saw for two persons, as a pitsaw, used to divide timbers lengthwise.

The InsurrectionThe 1831 slave uprising in Southampton County, Virginia, led by Nat Turner.

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consumptiona progressive wasting away of the body especially from the pulmonary tuberculosis.

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ShewedBritish variant for show.

Page 52

Elizabeth Citya northeastern North Carolina town on the Atlantic coast.

Page 53

Pecka dry measure of 8 quarts.

hollowA depressed or a low part of a surface, especially a small valley or basin.

Page 62

Camden Countyin northeastern North Carolina.

Page 67

Quakera member of The Society of Friends, the first religious denomination in the United States to condemn slavery and the first to require its members to free their slaves.

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William Lloyd GarrisonFounder and editor of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, launched in 1831.

Fanueil HallOpened in 1742 as a market and meeting hall, Fanueil Hall later and became a political meeting place.

Page 70

Liberiaa republic in West Africa founded by freed American slaves in 1822.

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first day of AugustEngland ended slavery in the West Indies on August 1, 1833.