Narratives of Fugivity & Fidelity

Narratives of Fugivity & Fidelity

Transcript below

The items in this section include several fugitive slave narratives, anti-slavery fiction (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin), and evidence of the ways that Black loyalty to the nation was encouraged and expressed through participation in the Civil War. Narratives of enslavement were important to the cause of abolitionism because they offered first-hand accounts of the many horrors of the institution. These narratives appealed to the sympathies of white Northern men and women, with the texts that were written by men very much reflecting on honor and manhood. Women’s narratives often delved into sentimentalism and the authors’ affective experiences as a mother and/or wife, which were feelings that women of the time, regardless of their backgrounds, might be emotionally moved by. These narratives also revealed a sense of enslaved communities’ cultures and beliefs, the restrictions that were placed upon enslaved people, the violence that undergirded slavery, as well as some of the artful ways that enslaved people resisted, banded together, and escaped their enslavement.

Via the subversive planning with free Black people and abolitionists, Henry Box Brown escaped slavery by shipping himself in a box from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia. The image on this section’s wall reflects the moment at which Brown is freed from his box, and his published narrative (inside the case) gives an overview of his life, details his love for his family and the treatment from which he was fleeing, as well as gives an accounting of just how he was able to pull off his escape and what he endured along the way. 


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Installation Image by Roy Rochlin. Latimer/Edison Gallery, Schomburg Center