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Source: From THE BLACK ABOLITIONIST PAPERS: Vol. I: The British Isles, 1830-1865 edited by C. Peter Ripley, et al. Copyright (c) 1992 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

John Andrew Jackson

John Andrew Jackson was born a slave on a plantation in Sumter County, South Carolina. His mother was named Betty, and his father was known as 'Dr. Claven' for his practice of folk medicine in the slave community. Jackson, a field hand, was owned by a Quaker family and was harshly treated. When he was separated by sale from his wife and child in 1846, Jackson fled slavery. He worked briefly as a Charleston dockhand and then stowed away on a vessel bound for Boston. Jackson settled in Salem, Massachusetts, and worked as leather tanner and part-time sawmill operative. When he mailed a letter from Boston to his master seeking to purchase members of his family, a slave agent was sent to search for him, but Jackson avoided capture. Passage of the Fugitive Slave Law rekindled his fear of being returned to slavery, and, assisted by Harriet Beecher Stowe, he left Salem for Canada.

Jackson settled in St. Johns, New Brunswick, married a former slave from North Carolina, and worked as a whitewasher. In the spring of 1856,still seeking to purchase family members in slavery and hoping to add to the funds he had already saved for that purpose, Jackson returned to Boston to obtain personal references from Stowe and a number of Boston businessmen. In the spring of 1857, he journeyed to Britain with his wife to solicit contributions. He lectured in Scotland and England with the assistance of several antislavery leaders, including David Guthrie, Rev. Thomas Candlish, and Julia Griffiths, friend and patron of Frederic Douglass. Jackson and his wife established a residence in London and remained abroad until after the Civil War but eventually returned to live in South Carolina. In 1893, describing himself as "old and feeble," Jackson raised money for an orphan home and school for destitute children in Magnolia, Sumter County, South Carolina.

Jackson's The Experience of a Slave in South Carolina is a powerful testimonial of incredible sufferings and toils of black people in the 19th century United States of America.

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