Right Under Your Nose

Amazing story I found on Futility Closet's blog here.

"Oppressed by the sexual advances of her master, 22-year-old North Carolina slave Harriet Jacobs fled in 1835 and hid for seven years in a tiny loft under the roof of her grandmother’s house nearby:

"'The garret was only nine feet long and seven wide. The highest part was three feet high, and sloped down abruptly to the loose board floor. There was no admission for either light or air. … The air was stifling; the darkness total. A bed had been spread on the floor. I could sleep quite comfortably on one side; but the slope was so sudden that I could not turn on the other without hitting the roof. The rats and mice ran over my bed; but I was weary, and I slept such sleep as the wretched may, when a tempest has passed over them.'

"She cut a tiny peephole in the roof so that she could watch her children, who lived in the house but did not know of her presence. Eventually she escaped to the North, was reunited there with her brother and her children, and published an autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, in 1861. 'My body still suffers from the effects of that long imprisonment,” she wrote, 'to say nothing of my soul.'"

I find this just remarkable. Below is a picture of Harriet in her older years, along with the reward notice for her 'recapture':

2013-08-04-confined

The notice reads:

"$100 REWARD Will be given for the apprehension and delivery of my Servant Girl HARRIET. She is a light mulatto, 21 years of age, about 5 feet 4 inches high, of a thick and corpulent habit, having on her head a thick covering of black hair that curls naturally, but which can be easily combed straight. She speaks easily and fluently, and has an agreeable carriage and address. Being a good seamstress, she has been accustomed to dress well, has a variety of very fine clothes made in the prevailing fashion, and will probably appear, if abroad, tricked out in gay and fashionable finery. As this girl absconded from the plantation of my son without any known cause or provocation, it is probably she designs to transport herself to the North.

"The above reward, with all reasonable charges, will be given to apprehending her, or securing her in any prison or jail within the U. States.

"All persons are hereby forewarned against harboring or entertaining her, or being in any way instrumental in her escape, under the most rigorous penalties of the law. – JAMES NORCOM"

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