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PHOTO ESSAY

Slave Narratives

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The resurrection of Henry Box Brown at Philadelphia, who escaped from Richmond, Va. in a box 3 feet long 2 1/2 ft. deep and 2 ft wide, c. 1850.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

The story of Henry Box Brown's escape from slavery became legendary as soon as it occurred. It was in 1849 that Brown had himself express mailed from Richmond, Virginia to the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia in a box the size of a large suitcase. The first account of Brown's ordeal was written with help from the abolitionist Charles Stearns. The authenticity of this first piece, Narrative of Henry Box Brown who Escaped from Slavery Enclosed in a Box 3 Feet Long and 2 Wide Written from a Statement of Facts Made by Himself. With Remarks upon the Remedy for Slavery, was widely doubted, in part because of Stearns' editorial remarks and overly dramatic prose. In response Brown published a second narrative of his escape in 1851 entitled Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown Written by Himself. Slave narratives often were marketed as "written by himself" or "written by herself" in response to public suspicion about the authenticity of the narratives.

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