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Henry Bibb

Henry Bibb


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Henry Bibb was born in Shelby County, Kentucky in 10th May, 1815. His mother, Mildred Jackson, a slave, worked on the plantation owned by Willard Gatewood, and had seven children.

As a child, Bibb saw his brothers and sisters sold to different slave owners. Bibb was hired out to various slave holders and had little contact with his mother. He later recalled: "A slave may be bought and sold in the market like an ox. He is liable to be sold off to a distant land from his family. He is bound in chains hand and foot; and his sufferings are aggravated a hundred fold, by the terrible thought, that he is not allowed to struggle against misfortune, corporal punishment, insults and outrages committed upon himself and family; and he is not allowed to help himself, to resist or escape the blow, which he sees impending over him. I was a slave, a prisoner for life; I could possess nothing, nor acquire anything but what must belong to my keeper. No one can imagine my feelings in my reflecting moments, but he who has himself been a slave."

Bibb had a strong desire for an education but this was not allowed in Shelby County. "Slaves were not allowed books, pen, ink, nor paper, to improve their minds. There was a Miss Davies, a poor white girl, who offered to teach a Sabbath School for the slaves. Books were supplied and she started the school; but the news got to our owners that she was teaching us to read. This caused quite an excitement in the neighbourhood. Patrols were appointed to go and break it up the next Sabbath."

Bibb married in his late teens but was furious when his wife's owner forced her to become a prostitute. As he explained: "A poor slave's wife can never be true to her husband contrary to the will of her master. She can neither be pure nor virtuous, contrary to the will of her master. She dare not refuse to be reduced to a state of adultery at the will of her master."

After making several attempts to escape he was finally successful in 1837. "One of the most self-denying acts of my whole life was to take leave of my affectionate wife, who stood before me on my departure, with dear little Frances in her arms, and with tears of sorrow in her eyes as she bid me a long farewell. It required all the moral courage that I was master of to suppress my feelings while taking leave of my little family."

Six months later he returned and helped his family escape, but they were caught and sold to a plantation owner in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Once again the family attempted to escape but were captured after being attacked by wolves. Bibb was then sold to a group of Native Americans. After escaping from them he began his long and unsuccessful attempt to rescue the rest of the family.

In 1842 Bibb began lecturing on slavery and along with Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown, became one of the best known of the African American activists. Bibb also worked for the Liberty Party in Michigan. During one lecture tour he met Mary Miles of Boston and the couple married in June, 1848. The following year the Anti-Slavery Society published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave.

In January 1851, Bibb joined with Josiah Henson to form the Refugees' Home Colony in Canada for escaped slaves. He also established Canada's first African American newspaper, the Voice of the Fugitive. One of the newspaper's regular contributors was Martin Delaney. During this period Bibb led the campaign to persuade fugitive slaves and free African Americans to settle in Canada.

Henry Bibb died during the summer of 1854.

A slave may be bought and sold in the market like an ox. No one can imagine my feelings in my reflecting moments, but he who has himself been a slave.

Slaves were not allowed books, pen, ink, nor paper, to improve their minds. Patrols were appointed to go and break it up the next Sabbath.

If my wife must be exposed to the insults and licentious passions of wicked slave-drivers and overseers; if she must bear the stripes of the lash laid on my an unmerciful tyrant; if this is to be done with impunity, which is frequently done by slaveholders and their abettors. Heaven forbid that I should be compelled to watch the sight.

A poor slave's wife can never be true to her husband contrary to the will of her master. She dare not refuse to be reduced to a state of adultery at the will of her master.

One of the most self-denying acts of my whole life was to take leave of my affectionate wife, who stood before me on my departure, with dear little Frances in her arms, and with tears of sorrow in her eyes as she bid me a long farewell. It required all the moral courage that I was master of to suppress my feelings while taking leave of my little family.


Henry Walton Bibb (1815 - 1854)

Henry Bibb was owned by slave owner David White, he was a son of James Bibb, a slave owner and a Kentucky state senator who lived in Franklin County, Kentucky the county just east of Shelby County, and Mildred Jackson, a mixed race slave who worked on the plantation owned by Willard Gatewood, and had seven children.

Henry was born on a Cantalonia, Kentucky, plantation. As a boy, Henry was hired out to many different plantation owners in Shelby, Henry, Oldham, and Trimble counties, and had little contact with his mother. During one of Bibb's hiring out periods, White sold Bibb's brothers and sisters to another master. He later recalled: "A slave may be bought and sold in the market like an ox. He is liable to be sold off to a distant land from his family. He is bound in chains hand and foot and his sufferings are aggravated a hundred fold, by the terrible thought, that he is not allowed to struggle against misfortune, corporal punishment, insults and outrages committed upon himself and family and he is not allowed to help himself, to resist or escape the blow, which he sees impending over him. I was a slave, a prisoner for life I could possess nothing, nor acquire anything but what must belong to my keeper. No one can imagine my feelings in my reflecting moments, but he who has himself been a slave."

Henry Bibb was the husband of 1. Malinda of Tremble County, Kentucky, married in 1834, they were the parents of a daughter, Mary Frances Bibb. Henry married 2. Mary Elizabeth Miles on 17 July 1848, she was a member of the Anti-Slavery Society in Boston, and a teacher who had been born a free person of color in Rhode Island in 1820.

He married Malinda who was a slave of William Gatewood. Gatewood would purchase Henry and he was angered at Bibb's multiple escapes. He eventually sold off the whole lot of Bibbs, Henry, Malinda and their child Frances, as punishment for Bibb's continual plans for escaping. In 1839 Henry Bibb, his wife an daughter were shipped as chattel to New Orleans where Henry was held in a slave pen along with his wife Malinda and their child. Henry Bibb had previously been jailed for attempting to free his wife, Malinda, and their child, Frances, from their masters. The Bibb family languished while awaiting their fate in a slave pen similar to one that stood on the corner of Esplanade and Chartres. A historical marker memorializing the slave pen currently stands on the neutral ground on Esplanade Avenue.

Eventually, after saying that he was not literate, Henry Bibb was able to procure his sale—twelve hundred for him, one thousand for Malinda and Frances— and he and his family were “sold up the river” to a farm 50 miles north of New Orleans on Red River. There, after enduring 18 hours days and brutal torture, Henry Bibb made several more escape attempts, the last of which separated him from his family forever. He was sold to professional gamblers who then sold him to a Cherokee slave owner on a white settlement in what is now Southeastern Oklahoma. Because he was given some respect and independence, he waited over a year until his terminally ill master died before he escaped and traveled from the frontier all the way to Detroit, Michigan. Despite his several attempts to help his wife and daughter to escape slavery, they ultimately failed and he later remarried.

In 1842 Henry Bibb began lecturing on slavery and along with Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown, became one of the best known of the African American activists. Bibb also worked for the Liberty Party in Michigan. During one lecture tour he met Mary Miles of Boston and the couple married in June [July], 1848. The following year the Anti-Slavery Society published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave. The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 increased the danger to Bibb and his second wife, Mary Miles. It required Northerners to cooperate in the capture of escaped slaves. To ensure their safety, the Bibbs migrated to Canada and settled in Sandwich, Upper Canada, now Windsor, Ontario. Along with Henry’s mother, Mildred Jackson, whom he had brought north to freedom in 1845, the Bibbs chose Sandwich as their new home.

In Canada, Henry Bibb worked tirelessly to help his black community. He founded a church, a school, and several anti-slavery societies. He wrote his experiences in a book in 1849. In January 1851, Bibb joined with Josiah Henson to form the Refugees' Home Colony in Canada for escaped slaves. He also established Canada's first African American newspaper, the Voice of the Fugitive. One of the newspaper's regular contributors was Martin Delaney. During this period Bibb led the campaign to persuade fugitive slaves and free African Americans to settle in Canada. The paper helped develop a more sympathetic climate for blacks in Canada as well as helped new arrivals to adjust. On October 21st 1852, Henry Bibb was elected president of the Windsor Anti-Slavery Society. Henry Bibb would continue publishing a one-page newsletter until his premature death in Windsor on August 1st 1854.

Two years before his death, and as a direct result of his work as a writer and orator, Henry Bibb was reunited with three of his brothers, who had also escaped from bondage and emigrated to Canada. He interviewed them and published their stories in the Voice of the Fugitive. The paper continued to be printed until a fire destroyed the printing house on October 9th, 1853. At the height of his career and fame Henry Bibb died after a brief illness in 1854, never seeing the Emancipation Proclamation instituted. He was only 39 years old. His autobiography gives a good picture of what slave life was like for many African Americans in Kentucky, and how one man with a resolve to be be free finally gained his liberty.


Bibb was born to an enslaved woman, Milldred Jackson, on a Cantalonia, Kentucky, plantation on May 10, 1815. His people told him his white father was James Bibb, a Kentucky state senator, but Henry never knew him. [1] As he was growing up, Bibb saw each of his six younger siblings, all boys, sold away. Bibb was also very attached to his original owner's dog, which he named Geels, but the dog passed away at only 5 years of age.

In 1833, Bibb married another enslaved mulatto, Malinda, who lived in Oldham County, Kentucky. They had a daughter, Mary Frances. [1]

In 1842, he managed to flee to Detroit, from where he hoped to gain the freedom of his wife and daughter. [1] After finding out that Malinda had been sold as a mistress to a white planter, Bibb focused on his career as an abolitionist. He traveled and lectured throughout the United States. [1]

In 1849-50 he published his autobiography Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, Written by Himself, [1] which became one of the best known slave narratives of the antebellum years. The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 increased the danger to Bibb and his second wife, Mary E. Miles. It required Northerners to cooperate in the capture of escaped slaves. To ensure their safety, the Bibbs migrated to Canada and settled in Sandwich, Upper Canada, now Windsor, Ontario. [2]

In 1851, he set up the first black newspaper in Canada, The Voice of the Fugitive. [1] The paper helped develop a more sympathetic climate for blacks in Canada as well as helped new arrivals to adjust. [3] Henry and Mary E. Bibb managed the Refugee Home Society, which was founded in 1851. Mary established a school for children. [4]

Due to his fame as an author, Bibb was reunited with three of his brothers, who separately had also escaped from slavery to Canada. In 1852, he published their accounts in his newspaper. [1] He died on August 1, 1854, at Windsor, Canada West, at the age of 39. [5]


Mary E. Bibb

The daughter of free black Quaker parents, she was born Mary Elizabeth Bibb in Rhode Island around 1820. [3] She studied at the Massachusetts State Normal School in Lexington (today Framingham State University), graduating in 1843. [3] The principal of that school was Samuel Joseph May, who supported women's rights and education for black people. [1] She was one of the first black woman teachers in North America and taught in schools in Boston, Albany, New York, and Cincinnati. She became involved in anti-slavery activities and, in 1847, met Henry Bibb, an escaped slave and abolitionist. [2] She became Bibb's second wife in June the following year. [4] She had no kids.

After the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850, the Bibbs moved to Canada West, settling first in Sandwich and then in Windsor. The couple frequently took fugitives into their home who had arrived in Windsor via the Underground Railroad. In 1851, they began publishing a newspaper called Voice of the Fugitive, the first major newspaper targeted at black Canadians. Mary and Henry Bibb were also part of the leadership of the Refugee Home Society, which helped former slaves settle in Canada, providing them with land and building schools and churches. Mary also taught school, educating both children and adults. [2] In 1851, the Bibbs organized a North American Convention in Toronto on how free black Americans and Canadians should respond to the Fugitive Slave Act. On October 9, 1853, the office of the Voice of the Fugitive newspaper was mysteriously burned to the ground. Mary and Henry tried to revive it, but Henry died suddenly in the summer of 1854 at the age of 39. [4] [5]

Sometime after 1855, Bibb married Isaac N. Cary. She operated a store in Windsor from 1865 until 1871. [1] After Cary's death, she returned to the US, to Brooklyn, New York, where she died in 1877. [4]

Mary Elizabeth Miles was born in Rhode Island in 1820. She was born a free black slave because both of her parents were free. [6]

During 1842, Mary attended Massachusetts State Normal School to complete her teaching degree. While a student, she was highly influenced by Samuel J May and encouraged her to join the anti-slave movement. [6]

After completing her degree, she taught in schools in Boston, MA Albany, NY and Cincinnati, OH. During this time she met many escaped slaves who told their stories about life in the south. [6]

In 1848, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. The act allowed escaped slaves who resided in the north to be returned to their masters from the south. Mary and her husband became involved in the Underground Railroad. During this time, her husband would escort the slaves into Canada and Marie would act as a placement office and offer their home as a safe haven.

In January 1851, Mary and Henry founded the newspaper called The Voice of the Fugitive. The purpose of the newspaper was to communicate with Underground Railroad supporters and with the general public. This newspaper was largely written by Mary. She would write articles and share interviews with newly arrived fugitives in Canada. She was often noted for giving the newspaper a polished editorial style. [6] Multiple publishing helped financially with gaining subscribers so Bibb could continue publishing. The Voice of the Fugitive is the first anti-slavery paper to published in Canada was written by African Americans. [7] In 1853, the Voice of the Fugitive discontinued because the office was caught on fire and was destroyed. In the late 1950s, Mary successfully opened up a school Mary later open a second school. She was also and a founding member of the Anti Slavery Society of Windsor. [6]

While a teacher, Mary met Henry Bibb, an escaped slave. They married in June 1848. [6] When Henry died, Mary later married Isaac N. Cary. They had one child together. [6]

For the remainder of Bibb's life, she continued running her school and started her own business selling women’s accessories and apparel. In the year 1871, Mary decided to live in Brooklyn, New York and died there in 1877. [7]

In 2005, Mary and Henry Bibb were declared Persons of National Historic Significance by the Government of Canada. [8]

In 2021, Sandwich Town park, previously named Mackenzie Hall park is now Mary E. Bibb Park in celebration of Black History Month in Windsor, Ontario [7]


An Abolitionist Marriage

At an abolitionist gathering in New York in 1847, Bibb was introduced to Mary Miles, writing that he had heard her "very highly spoken of, for her activity and devotion to the anti-slavery cause." The two were married in June of the following year in Dayton, Ohio, and remained active in the Underground Railroad movement. In 1850 they moved to the town of Sandwich, near Windsor, Ontario, in what was then known as Canada West. They were outraged by Congressional passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, which permitted the return to captivity of slaves who had escaped to the non-slaveholding North, and they were joined by many other American blacks who found themselves suddenly at risk of being returned to slavery. Bibb himself was at risk of recapture, but his last master had died, and he often crossed into the United States to address abolitionist gatherings.

Canada, still under British rule, had seen the abolition of slavery in 1833, but blacks in Canada were nowhere near a state of equality with whites. The flood of refugees crossing the river from Detroit often came with little more than the clothes on their backs. Their escort across the river was often Henry Bibb himself, and their first stop was often the Bibb house, where Mary Bibb served as a de facto travelers' aid and placement officer. Henry Bibb received a measure of compensation for the many violent family separations he had experienced when he welcomed three of his brothers, all escaped from slavery, to Canada and reunited them with their mother, who was already there.


Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, Written by Himself: Chapter 10

Select the Student Version to print the text and Text Dependent Questions only. Select the Teacher Version to print the text with labels, Text Dependent Questions and answers. Highlighted vocabulary will appear in both printed versions.

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concepts 4 and 6.

Cruel treatment on Whitfield’s farm--Exposure of the Children--Mode of extorting extra labor, Neglect of the sick, Strange medicine used, Death of our second child.

My first impressions when I arrived on the Deacon’s farm, were that he was far more like what the people call the devil, than he was like a deacon. Not many days after my arrival there, I heard the Deacon tell one of the slave girls, that he had bought her for a wife for his boy Stephen, which office he compelled her fully to perform against her will. This he enforced by a threat. At first the poor girl neglected to do this, having no sort of affection for the man, but she was finally forced to it by an application of the driver’s lash, as threatened by the Deacon.

The next thing I observed was that he made the slave driver strip his own wife, and flog her for not doing just as her master had ordered. He had a white overseer, and a colored man for a driver, whose business it was to watch and drive the slaves in the field, and do the flogging according orders of the overseer.

Next a mulatto girl who waited about the house, on her mistress, displeased her, for which the Deacon stripped and tied her up. He then handed the lash and ordered me to put it on, but I told him I never had done the like, and hoped he would not compel me to do it. He then informed me that I was to be his overseer, and that he had bought me for that purpose. He was paying a man eight hundred dollars a year to oversee, and he believed I was competent to do the same business, and if I would do it up right he would put nothing harder on me to do and if I knew not how to flog a slave, he would set me an example by which I might be governed. He then commenced on this poor girl and gave her two hundred lashes before he had her untied.

After giving her fifty lashes, he stopped and lectured her awhile, asking her if she thought that she could obey her mistress. She promised to do all in her power to please him and her mistress, if he would have mercy on her. But this plea was all vain. He commenced on her again and this flogging was carried on in the most inhuman manner until she had received two hundred stripes on her naked quivering flesh, tied up and exposed to the public gaze of all. And this was the example that I was to copy after.

He then compelled me to wash her back off with strong salt brine, before she was untied, which was so revolting to my feelings, that I could not refrain from shedding tears.

For some cause he never called on me again to flog a slave. I presume he saw that I was not savage enough. The above were about the first items of the Deacon’s conduct which struck me with peculiar disgust.

After having enjoyed the blessings of civil and religious liberty for a season, to be dragged into that horrible place with my family, to linger out my existence without the aid of religious societies, or the light of revelation, was more than I could endure. I really felt as if I had got into one of the darkest corners of the earth. I thought I was almost out of humanity’s reach, and should never again have the pleasure of hearing the gospel sound, as I could see no way by which I could extricate myself yet I never omitted to pray for deliverance. I had faith to believe that the Lord could see our wrongs and hear our cries.

I was not used quite as bad as the regular field hands, as the greater part of my time was spent working about the house and my wife was the cook.

This country was full of pine timber, and every slave had to prepare a light wood torch, over night, made of pine knots, to meet the overseer with, before daylight in the morning. Each person had to have his torch lit, and come with it in his hand to the gin house, before the overseer and driver, so as to be ready to go to the cotton field by the time they could see to pick out cotton. These lights looked beautiful at a distance.

The object of blowing the horn for them two hours before day, was, that they should get their bite to eat, before they went to the field, that they need not stop to eat but once during the day. Another object was, to do up their flogging which had been omitted over night. I have often heard the sound of the slave driver’s lash on the backs of the slaves, and their heart-rending shrieks, which were enough to melt the heart of humanity, even among the most barbarous nations of the earth.

But the Deacon would keep no overseer on his plantation, who neglected to perform this every morning. I have heard him say that he was no better pleased than when he could hear the overseer’s loud complaining voice, long before daylight, in the morning, and the sound of the driver’s lash among the toiling slaves.

This was a very warm climate, abounding with musquitoes, galinippers and other insects which were exceedingly annoying to the poor slaves by night and day, at their quarters and in the field. But more especially to their helpless little children, which they had to carry with them to the cotton fields, where they had to set on the damp ground alone from morning till night, exposed to the scorching rays of the sun, liable to be bitten by poisonous rattle snakes which are plenty in that section of the country, or to be devoured by large alligators, which are often seen creeping through the cotton fields going from swamp to swamp seeking their prey.

The cotton planters generally, never allow a slave mother time to go to the house, or quarter during the day to nurse her child hence they have to carry them to the cotton fields and tie them in the shade of a tree, or in clusters of high weeds about in the fields, where they can go to them at noon, when they are allowed to stop work for one half hour. This is the reason why so very few slave children are raised on these cotton plantations, mothers have no time to take care of them--and they are often found dead in the field and in the quarter for want of the care of their mothers. But I never was eye witness to a case of this kind, but have heard many narrated by my slave brothers and sisters, some of which occurred on the deacon’s plantation.

Their plan of getting quantities of cotton picked is not only to extort it from them by the lash, but hold out an inducement and deceive them by giving small prizes. For example the overseer will offer something worth one or two dollars to any slave who will pick out the most cotton in one day dividing the hands off in three classes and offering a prize to the one who will pick out the most cotton in each of the classes. By this means they are all interested in trying to get the prize.

After making them try it over several times and weighing what cotton they pick every night, the overseer can tell just how much every hand can pick. He then gives the present to those that pick the most cotton, and then if they do not pick just as much afterward they are flogged.

I have known the slaves to be so much fatigued from labor that they could scarcely get to their lodging places from the field at night. And then they would have to prepare something to eat before they could lie down to rest. Their corn they had to grind on a hand mill for bread stuff, or pound it in a mortar and by the time they would get their suppers it would be midnight then they would herd down all together and take but two or three hours rest, before the overseer’s horn called them up again to prepare for the field.

At the time of sickness among slaves they had but very little attention. The master was to be the judge of their sickness, but never had studied the medical profession. He always pronounced a slave who said he was sick, a liar and a hypocrite said there was nothing the matter, and he only wanted to keep from work.

His remedy was most generally strong red pepper tea, boiled till it was red. He would make them drink a pint cup full of it at one dose. If he should not get better very soon after it, the dose was repeated. If that should not accomplish the object for which it was given, or have the desired effect, a pot or kettle was then put over the fire with a large quantity of chimney soot, which was boiled down until it was as strong as the juice of tobacco, and the poor sick slave was compelled to drink a quart of it.

This would operate on the system like salts, or castor oil. But if the slave should not be very ill, he would rather work as long as he could stand up, than to take this dreadful medicine.

If it should be a very valuable slave, sometimes a physician was sent for and something done to save him. But no special aid is afforded the suffering slave even in the last trying hour, when he is called to grapple with the grim monster death. He has no Bible, no family altar, no minister to address to him the consolations of the gospel, before he launches into the spirit world. As to the burial of slaves but very little more care is taken of their dead bodies than if they were dumb beasts.

My wife was very sick while we were both living with the Deacon. We expected every day would be her last. While she was sick, we lost our second child, and I was compelled to dig my own child’s grave and bury it myself without even a box to put it in.


Henry Bibb (1815-1854)

Henry Walton Bibb was the eldest of the seven male children of Mildred Jackson. Henry was told that his father, whom he never met, was a man named James Bibb. He grew up in bondage in the Deep South, and claims to have been owned by seven people including a Cherokee Indian. Bibb frequently attempted escape throughout his slavery years until he succeeded in emancipating himself in 1842 after the death of his owner. Once his freedom was assured, he assumed an active role in the abolitionist movement in Michigan and New England. In 1848 Henry Bibb married Mary Miles, a woman from Boston, Massachusetts whom he met at an anti-slavery convention in New York City, New York. Mr. Bibb is best known for his eloquent autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, which was published in New York in 1849.

After the fugitive slave law was enacted in 1850, Bibb emigrated to Ontario, Canada with his wife for fear of being enslaved for a second time. In Canada, Bibb and his wife helped to establish a Methodist Church and a day school that Mary Miles Bibb operated. In January 1851, Bibb published the first copy of his bimonthly abolitionist newspaper, Voice of the Fugitive. He used the paper to organize abolitionists in an attempt to help other African Americans immigrate to Canada. Bibb was instrumental in organizing the Refugees’ Home Society that had by his death in 1854 purchased almost 2000 acres of land and allocated 25 acre plots to 40 immigrants.


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Bibb, Henry Walton

Henry Walton Bibb, an author, editor, and emigrationist, was born a slave on a Kentucky plantation. He was the oldest son of a slave, Milldred Jackson. Like many slaves, he never knew his father and was even unsure of his father's identity he was told, however, that he was the son of James Bibb, a Kentucky state senator. His six brothers, all slaves, were sold one by one, until the entire family was scattered. In 1833, he met and married a mulatto slave named Malinda, with whom he had one daughter, Mary Frances. Bibb's fierce desire to obtain his freedom and reclaim his wife and daughter motivated his repeated attempts to escape from slavery. In 1842 he successfully fled to Detroit, where he began work as an abolitionist. He continued to search for Malinda and his daughter, but after learning that Malinda had been sold as the mistress of a white slave owner, Bibb gave up his longtime dream and resolved to advance the antislavery cause.

In 1850 Bibb published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave. One of the best-known slave narratives, the book contains an extensive, personal account of Bibb's life as a slave and runaway. Soon after it appeared, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave slave owners the right to reclaim runaways — and obligated northerners to help them to do so. Bibb, like many others, openly stated that he preferred death to re-enslavement, and he fled with his second wife, Mary Miles Bibb of Boston, to Canada. In Ontario, the Bibbs soon became leaders of the large African-Canadian community.

In 1851 Bibb established the Voice of the Fugitive, the first black newspaper in Canada. Through the Voice, he expressed his essential ideas as an emigrationist by urging slaves and free blacks to move to Canada. The newspaper became a central tool of emigration advocates. In addition to the Voice, Bibb's civic and political accomplishments in the Ontario communities were substantial.

Two years before his death, and as a direct result of his work as a writer and orator, Bibb was reunited with three of his brothers, who had also escaped from bondage and emigrated to Canada. He interviewed them and published their stories in the Voice of the Fugitive. Bibb died in the summer of 1854, at the age of thirty-nine.


Watch the video: UNSUNG HEROES: MARY u0026 HENRY BIBB (May 2022).