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Henry Box Brown, b. 1816
Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Written by Himself
Manchester: Printed by Lee and Glynn, 1851.


Henry Box Brown was born a slave in 1816 in Louisa County, Virginia and lived there for thirty-three years. After a childhood of relative ease, he was bequeathed to his master's son, who sent him to work in his tobacco factory under the authority of an unfair, hypocritical overseer. Although his experiences in slavery were comparatively mild, and he was not subjected to physical violence, Brown was not content to be a slave. Brown demonstrates that slavery was still unbearable even under the best of conditions. His wife and children were taken from him and sold to North Carolina, where they remained at the time he wrote his narrative. Following the sale of his family, Brown decided to escape. He had himself sealed in a small wooden box and shipped to friends and freedom in Philadelphia. He later settled in Massachusetts and traveled around the northern states speaking against slavery. Eventually, he was forced to seek asylum in Great Britain, because of the Fugitive Slave Law. Henry Box Brown's Narrative, as told to Charles Stearns, was published in 1849 to raise funds so Brown could purchase freedom for his wife and children. It concludes with an essay by Charles Stearns entitled "Cure for the Evil of Slavery." This first English edition of his narrative was published in 1851.

Monique Prince

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