Mar 10, 2011 - Sale 2239

Sale 2239 - Lot 111

Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
RARE FIRST EDITION (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.)---NARRATIVES. HENSON, JOSIAH. Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada. 76 pages. 12mo, original printed stiff gray wrappers; front cover edges very slightly worn. Boston: Arthur D. Phelps, 1849

Additional Details

first edition of rare slave narrative, no copy at auction in the last thirty years. Josiah Henson (1789 - 1883) escaped slave, abolitionist, minister and author, was born into slavery in Charles County, Maryland. He escaped to Ontario, Canada in 1830, and founded a settlement and school for other fugitive slaves there at Dawn, near Dresden in Kent County. Henson spent the first forty years of his life in bondage. He saw his father brutally beaten and his family sold away. Trusted by his master, Henson was made an overseer. He seems to have been faithful to his master to the point of defending him once against the attack of a white man. Henson was a deeply religious man, and unlike his contemporary Nat Turner, he was totally opposed to any violence. This aspect of Henson's nature appealed to Harriet Beecher Stowe whose character of "Uncle Tom" has today become synonymous with passivity and acquiescence. This early printing of Henson's narrative is what inspired the title character of Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (Boston 1852). Following the success of Uncle Tom, Henson issued an expanded version of his life story in 1858, "Truth Stranger Than Fiction. Father Henson's Story." Yet another edition of Henson's life brought up to date was published as Uncle Tom's Story of His Life: An Autobiography of the Rev. Josiah Henson (1876).