John Andrew Jackson was born in Sumter County, South Carolina. Many of the dates surrounding his life are left unknown including his birth date. However, what is known is that he worked on a plantation performing hard labor while growing up. He eventually married and had children but they were separated when they were sold off. He had many masters and mistresses, and was passed down to their children, each more cruel than the last. This influenced Jackson’s escape from his life of oppression and successfully made it to the North then eventually to Canada. After he emancipated himself, he worked the rest of his life fighting for abolition. Sixteen years after his escape he had his narrative published.
The Experience of a Slave in South Carolina first published in 1862 in London by Passmore & Alabaster. It was edited by a person known only as [W. M. S.] also in 1862. From all accounts this is the sole edition the narrative went through except for reprintings including the University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
The narrative is structured in a way which flows from the cover page that shows a depiction of the author riding a horse in a hurried state. This portrays Jackson’s suspenseful escape from slavery. The cover page also includes the publication information. The next page consists of a drawing of a gimlet, or wood screw, the Jackson used during his fleeing from captivity. This is followed by the preface of the narrative that genuinely speaks to the readers about the audacious realities of 19th century slavery, including the hypocrisy of slavery. Here he mentions that, “It lies with Christian men and women to expose [slavery’s] evils, denounce its cruelties, lay open its horrors, and spare not its infamous immoralities” (5). Then, the first six chapters of the narrative chronologically details John Andrew Jackson’s life experiences as he wishes to tell them. The seventh chapter is filled with Negro songs. Most of these are fragments of hymns. The narrative concludes with testimonials which provide validity to Jackson’s character. Lastly, Jackson provides a one sentence postscript that addresses the fact that after his writing the narrative, President Lincoln enacted the Emancipation Proclamation.
Jackson, John Andrew. The Experience of a Slave in South Carolina. London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1862. Print.