Posted by: Democratic Thinker | August 31, 2009

“Uncle Tom’s Story of His Life”

The University of North Carolina’s Documenting the American South furnishes an on-line copy of “Uncle Tom’s” Story of His Life, an autobiography of the Reverend Josiah Henson. Henson provided the model for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous abolitionist novel. Excerpt from Stowe’s introduction:


Rev. Josiah Henson

THE numerous friends of the author of this work will need no greater recommendation than his name to make it welcome. Among all the singular and interesting records to which the institution of American slavery has given rise, we know of none more striking, more characteristic and instructive, than that of JOSIAH HENSON.

Born a slave—a slave in effect in a heathen land—and under a heathen master, he grew up without Christian light or knowledge, and like the Gentiles spoken of by St. Paul, “without the law did by nature the things that are written in the law.” One sermon, one offer of salvation by Christ, was sufficient for him, as for the Ethiopian eunuch, to make him at once a believer from the heart and a preacher of Jesus.

To the great Christian doctrine of forgiveness of enemies and the returning of good for evil, he was by God’s grace made a faithful witness, under circumstances that try men’s souls and make us all who read it say, “Lead us not into such temptation.” We earnestly commend this portion of his narrative to those who, under much smaller temptations, think themselves entitled to render evil for evil.

(Navigate the autobiography’s menu at Documenting the American South)

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