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Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slavery

Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slavery

Henry Goings
Calvin Schermerhorn
Michael Plunkett
Edward Gaynor
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 200
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wrng7
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  • Book Info
    Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slavery
    Book Description:

    Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slaverytells of an extraordinary life in and out of slavery in the United States and Canada. Born Elijah Turner in the Virginia Tidewater, circa 1810, the author eventually procured freedom papers from a man he resembled and took the man's name, Henry Goings. His life story takes us on an epic journey, traveling from his Virginia birthplace through the cotton kingdom of the Lower South, and upon his escape from slavery, through Tennessee and Kentucky, then on to the Great Lakes region of the North and to Canada. HisRamblesshow that slaves were found not only in fields but also on the nation's roads and rivers, perpetually in motion in massive coffles or as solitary runaways.

    A freedom narrative as well as a slave narrative, this compact yet detailed book illustrates many important developments in antebellum America, such as the large-scale forced migration of enslaved people from long-established slave societies in the eastern United States to new settlements on the cotton frontier, the political-economic processes that framed that migration, and the accompanying human anguish. Goings's life and reflections serve as important primary documents of African American life and of American national expansion, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. This edition features an informative and insightful introduction by Calvin Schermerhorn.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3240-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Edward Gaynor and Michael Plunkett
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxxiv)
    Calvin Schermerhorn

    With those words, the barber and steamboat steward known as Henry Goings revealed how he was giving voice to his experiences as a slave and a free man. He had been a fugitive for eighteen years, and a resident of Ontario, or Canada West as it was then called, for thirteen. Although it never became a large volume,Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slaverywould take fourteen more years to reach publication. In it, the author would detail his “wide experience of the evils of slavery,” presenting himself as an articulate witness to American slavery and as an eloquent...

  6. Chronology
    (pp. xxxv-xxxvi)
  7. Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slavery

    • Chapter 1
      (pp. 3-37)

      I was born upon the estate of James Walker, Esq.,¹ within three miles of a place called Window Shades,² in the State of Virginia, and distant some two and a half miles from James’ River. Of the date of my birth, I have no knowledge; the slave has no Family Bible in which to record the births, marriages and deaths of his domestic circle. It is possible, the proprietors of a human herd may keep a registrar of births, just as an agriculturist records the annual increase of his farming stock.³ But the commemoration of birthdays is a luxury unknown...

    • Chapter 2
      (pp. 38-47)

      Some few years before the death of my master, I had purchased of a mulatto, named “Henry Goings,” his free paper.¹ He was a well-known character, and upon representing that this document had been lost or stolen he could, easily have it replaced. I had always surplus cash in my pocket, and knowing that from Henry’s love of drink, he might strike a bargain upon easy terms, I offered him $15 for his certificate of freedom, and, to my surprise, a trade was at once effected.

      I immediately took it to the residence of my wife, and tacked it under...

    • Chapter 3
      (pp. 48-55)

      The first really “free soil” that my feet touched, was in Essex County at Fort Walden now called Amherstburgh, in Canada on the Detroit river.¹ There I stayed about a month, securing employment with the Major of the 42nd Regiment Infantry. While here I found the persons who were mentioned to me by the horse trainer in Kentucky. I afterwards entered into an engagement with the Captain of the steamboat Kent running from Amherstburgh to Chatham on the river Thames, Counties Essex and Kent, in Canada. The following season she was purchased for the Lake Erie trade, and I luckily...

    • Chapter 4
      (pp. 56-66)

      It is the opinion of many eminent discerners of the times that the death knell of slavery is now being rung.¹ The slaveholders themselves have long trembled for the fate of their despotic institution. Jefferson forewarned the people of its downfall, and the sword is now dealing its foretold destruction.² I remember while in Alabama, that my master received occasional visits from a Mr. Harris, who had been a wealthy slaveholder, but in consequence of undue speculation had become a bankrupt. He was a man possessed of much information, and I often listened to his conversations at table with close...

    • Chapter 5
      (pp. 67-78)

      It may not be unacceptable to the reader, to give some slight picture of the peculiar physical features of the several States through which the author has travelled, with a view to assist the intending emigrant in his choice of a location, should the tidal movement once more set in in that direction. Much has been written, and said adverse to the Southern climate; but as a general rule there is much exaggeration upon this subject. It is not that the extreme heat is so much worse than the same extremity of heat here in Canada. The peculiarity of its...

  8. Appendix
    (pp. 79-120)
  9. Editors’ Appendices

    • Appendix A. Maps
      (pp. 123-126)
    • Appendix B. Interviews with “Henry Gowens” and “Mrs. Henry Gowens”
      (pp. 127-130)
      Henry Gowens and Mrs. Henry Gowens
    • Appendix C. Letter to the Editor, by Henry Goins
      (pp. 131-132)
      Henry Goins
    • Appendix D. “Farm for Sale” Notice Showing Henry Goings as Sales Agent
      (pp. 133-134)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 135-150)
  11. Index
    (pp. 151-158)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 159-164)