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The author is a direct ancestor of Archer Alexander.
"Of African descent, he [Archer Alexander] was born in the early 1800s in Virginia, and as a young man was relocated to Missouri when the family claiming ownership over him migrated to the St. Charles area. There he married Louisa, and had at least two children. During the Civil War, as Missouri remained a slave-owning state loyal to the Union, Archer fled to the unionist stronghold of St. Louis where he met William Greenleaf Eliot, co-founder of Washington University. Eliot helped Alexander secure legal protection from the Provost Marshal, and provided him employment working the grounds of the Eliot's home.
After the Civil War, Eliot remained close friends with Alexander, and in the 1870s suggested he serve as the artistic inspiration for the Freedman's Memorial being planned for Washington D.C.
For decades, the only known information of Archer Alexander and his family was a brief biography published in the 1885, The Story of Archer Alexander, by William G. Eliot. In the 21st century more historical work has emerged offering a clearer and more well rounded history of his life, including extensive genealogy work by Archer's decedents.
In 2014, Washington University created a named professorship honoring Archer Alexander. Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp is the inaugural faculty member to hold the Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor in the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics." Sonya Rooney, University Archivist
By 1849, the Narrative of William W. Brown was in its fourth edition, having sold over 8,000 copies in less than eighteen months and making it one of the fastest-selling antislavery tracts of its time. The book's popularity can be attributed both to the strong voice of its author and Brown's notoriety as an abolitionist speaker. The son of a slave and a white man, Brown recounts his years in servitude, his cruel masters, and the brutal whippings he and those around him received. He provides a detailed description of his failed attempt to escape with his mother; after their capture, they were sold to new masters. A subsequent escape attempt succeeds. He is taken in by a kind Quaker, Wells Brown, whose name he adopts in gratitude. Shortly thereafter, Brown crosses the Canadian border. Brown's Narrative includes stories of fighting devious slave traders and bounty hunters, various antislavery poems, articles and stories (written by him and others), newspaper clippings, reward posters, and slave sale announcements. A DOCSOUTH BOOK. This collaboration between UNC Press and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library brings classic works from the digital library of Documenting the American South back into print. DocSouth Books uses the latest digital technologies to make these works available in paperback and e-book formats. Each book contains a short summary and is otherwise unaltered from the original publication. DocSouth Books provide affordable and easily accessible editions to a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers.
"Shall a man be dragged back to Slavery from our Free Soil, without an open trial of his right to Liberty?" --Handbill circulated in Milwaukee on March 11, 1854 In Finding Freedom, Ruby West Jackson and Walter T. McDonald provide readers with the first narrative account of the life of Joshua Glover, the runaway slave who was famously broken out of jail by thousands of Wisconsin abolitionists in 1854. Employing original research, the authors chronicle Glover's days as a slave in St. Louis, his violent capture and thrilling escape in Milwaukee, his journey on the Underground Railroad, and his 33 years of freedom in rural Canada. While Jackson and McDonald demonstrate how the catalytic "Glover incident" captured national attention--pitting the proud state of Wisconsin against the Supreme Court and adding fuel to the pre-Civil War fire--their primary focus is on the ordinary citizens, both black and white, with whom Joshua Glover interacted. A bittersweet story of bravery and compassion, Finding Freedom provides the first full picture of the man for whom so many fought, and around whom so much history was made."
"The view that slavery could best be described by those who had themselves experienced it personally has found expression in several thousand commentaries, autobiographies, narratives, and interviews with those who "endured." Although most of these accounts appeared before the Civil War, more than one-third are the result of the ambitious efforts of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to interview surviving ex-slaves during the 1930s. The result of these efforts was the Slave Narrative Collection, a group of autobiographical accounts of former slaves that today stands as one of the most enduring and noteworthy achievements of the WPA. Compiled in seventeen states during the years 1936-38, the collection consists of more than two thousand interviews with former slaves, most of them first-person accounts of slave life and the respondents' own reactions to bondage. The interviews afforded aged ex-slaves an unparalleled opportunity to give their personal accounts of life under the "peculiar institution," to describe in their own words what it felt like to be a slave in the United States. Norman R. Yetman, American Memory, Library of Congress This paperback edition of selected Missouri narratives is reprinted in facsimile from the typewritten pages of the interviewers, just as they were originally typed."
"Lucy A. Delaney (1830-ca. 1890s) was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Polly Crocket and her husband. Although Polly Crocket had once been a free woman, she was kidnapped from her home in Illinois and sold as a slave to Major Taylor Berry. Berry arranged for his slaves to be freed upon his and his wife's deaths. However, a few years after he died in a duel, his wife remarried. When she died, Berry's will was set aside, and Lucy's family remained enslaved. The family was separated when her father was sold to a plantation near Vicksburg, Mississippi, and again when her sister, Nancy, escaped to Canada.
Lucy's published her narrative From the Darkness Cometh the Light, or, Struggles for Freedom sometime in the 1890s. She devotes a significant portion of the narrative to her mother's attempts to prove that she was once a free woman. Both she and Lucy presented their cases in trials, and both received verdicts granting them freedom. The remainder of the narrative briefly outlines Lucy's life after slavery. Her first husband was killed in a tragic accident shortly after their marriage. She and her second husband had four children, but all of them died before this work was published. Lucy's mother lived with her after traveling to Canada to visit Nancy. Shortly after their mother's death, Lucy and Nancy were reunited with their father, who remained in Vicksburg following the Civil War.
Works Consulted: Andrews, William L., Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris, eds., The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997; Smith, Jessie Carney, ed., Notable Black American Women, Detroit: Gale Research, 1992."
"In 1895 Henry Bruce published his memoirs, which were titled The New Man. Twenty-nine Years a Slave. Twenty-nine Years a Free Man. The book is autobiographical, but also serves as a platform for Bruce to reflect on the experiences of African Americans in both slavery and freedom. Bruce provided his readers with a detailed description of life in antebellum Virginia and Missouri. He described the work slaves did, the treatment they received, and their association with others in the community. Bruce also commented on race relations during the antebellum years, placing the blame for problems on uneducated, poor, white people, whom he believed were “the natural enemies of the slaves” (Bruce, iv). Bruce argued that quality of “[b]lood and education” determined the character of both white and black people (Bruce, 127). He was intolerant of any individual who lacked self-respect and motivation or who engaged in what he considered to be superstitious practices. Bruce described his experience of slavery as mild, but attributed his favorable treatment to his own superior work ethic and morality. He implied that slaves brought many of their own problems on themselves, although he acknowledged that slaves worked harder for slave owners who treated them well..."
Burke, Diane Mutti. "Bruce, Henry Clay. "Oxford African American Studies Center. 31. Oxford University Press. Date of access 22 Aug. 2021,