Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl published in 1861, tells the story of the struggle of Harriet Jones herself. From the beginning of her life in 1813 in Edenton, North Carolina to how she maneuvered through multiple slave owners, and the injustices she faced. Having to grow up by yourself after your parents pass at such a young age, while also having a younger brother to take care of as well as raise yourself, just goes to show that even from a young age, Ms. Jones was a very strong woman. When living with her mother’s mistress, she was able to be educated which many slaves at the time couldn’t even think of as a possibility. After the mistress’s passing, Harriet’s life took a turn for the worse when she went to live in the home of a man who would continue to sexually abuse her. She allowed herself to have an affair with her white neighbor to try to lead that to disgust her owner enough to sell her off, but it unfortunately back fired on her. She was finally able to trick her way into escaping, because she did not want her children to be susceptible to the same kind of unfair treatment she went through. After years of hiding out in an attic she’s able to escape to New York to try to be with her daughter, and that seemed to go well for some time because she was also able to find a job with a kinder family than most. Her previous owner followed her North and continued to try to pursue her, as well as endanger her children to be enslaved once again, which leads Harriet to escape to Boston. The Fugitive Slave Act passed during this time which made Harriet even more vulnerable to kidnapping and re-enslavement. When her previous slave owner passes away, his relatives try to make a claim on Harriet, but fortunate for her, her current employer bought her freedom, even though she was unwilling to be bought and sold again. After all was said and done, Harriet volunteered in the freedmen’s relief movement, by passing out food and supplies to blacks who escaped slavery or war. Eventually she also returned north to run a boarding house for colored Harvard faculty and students. Harriet Jones is a very resilient woman and her story and perseverance is inspiring.

“Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” Presentation


Good evening everyone my name is Kameron Hamilton and today I will be presenting to you the story of Harriet Jacobs. Harriet Jacobs was born a slave, in 1813, under the guise of her free father and a mistress who nurtured and took care of her up until her death when Harriet was 12. This woman taught Harriet to sew, read, and write, giving her the upper hand among other slave children her age as well as other slaves in general. At age 15, her life took a turn for the worse when her new slave master, Dr. Flint, began to sexually assault her while following her every move. He wanted to instill fear in her and continued to remind her that she was his property so that she would submit to his advances. Before this, Harriet lived a peaceful life and didn’t even realize she was owned by another human being until she was transferred to a new owner. Being 40 years her senior, Dr. Flint takes advantage of Harriet and her naivety but she was keen enough to understand what he was doing wasn’t right. She became fearful and she felt alone because there was no one she could turn to for protection. (Her grandmother would have acted but Dr.Flint often told her he would kill her if she told anybody). Later on, the master’s wife finds out about his infidelity inciting raging jealousy in her.

To save face, Dr.Flint often assaulted Harriet in private. Harriet was aware of his prudence and took advantage of it. She would often sleep with or be around her older family members (great aunt and grandmother) avoiding his provocative stares and caresses. He began to understand what she was doing and soon after ordered her to stay in his room at night. His wife was made aware of these arrangements and became infuriated with her husband. After Harriet tells the mistress everything that happens she vows to protect her. This vow is broken when Mrs. Flint confronts her husband. Realizing he has the upper hand in the marriage she backs down and comes to terms with her husband’s ways.

” Revenge, and calculations of interest, were added to flattered vanity and sincere gratitude for kindness. I knew nothing would enrage Dr. Flint so much as to know that I favored another; and it was something to triumph over my tyrant even in that small way”. Harriet meets an unmarried and kind white lawyer, Mr. Sands, who takes an interest in her. After Harriet discusses the cruel things Dr.Flint does to her in the hope that he purchases her, in sheer haste, Harriet sleeps with and is impregnated by Mr.Sands hoping Dr. Flint would sell her but this prompts him to tighten the reigns on his “property”. After her first child was born the father would visit often and took care of his son and after the birth of her second child her master became more abusive and aggressive towards her. In a fit of rage, he cut all of her hair off, and in another instance, he threw her down the stairs in which she sustained injuries that paralyzed her for days. After a while, Dr. Flint decides to sell Harriet to his son, Mr. Flint, and during this time she is required to work and she has little opportunities to see her children.

After she returns under the ownership of Dr.Flint, Harriet runs away and finds refuge in a tiny crawlspace. Her children and brother are imprisoned by Dr.Flint. After a while, in 1842, her children were purchased by their father while Harriet escaped to New York. She becomes involved in civil rights and becomes an author and an activist. Years later the father of her children sends them up north to see their mother. During this time, Harriet publishes “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” and founds a school for recently freed children and refugees. She was eventually able to become legally free and continued to live a private life until her death until 1897.

To conclude, it is evident that with determination anything can be possible. Harriet Jacobs was born a slave but died a free woman. I would like to pose several questions for discussion.

  1. What are some common themes that were discussed in this autobiography and previous readings?
  2. What would have been different if white people had been enslaved and black people were masters and mistresses?
  3. How did slave owners justify their actions?

I hope you have taken something from this presentation and are now able to see how hard of a life Harriet lived. Thank you!

Presentation 2- ‘Vibrant Matter’ by Jane Bennett (04/20/20)

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Hello everyone,

This is below my presentation about the book Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett. As you will read through the presentation  you can find many details about this great philosopher and her effective works being done. Being a political Philosopher her social works were incredible. Professor Bennett specializes in political theory: ecological philosophy, art and politics, American political thought, political rhetoric and persuasion, and contemporary social theory. Her book Vibrant Matter is a stand alone work and an unique writing. Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter is an important work, linking critical movements in recent Continental philosophy. This is an elegant book and it really gives itself over to descriptions of how matter moves us as much as anything else. The description of democracy, I think, gives us up to thinking of the demos in an innovative way, since how the demos act, seemingly out of the blue, has thrown thinkers of individual free will and so on into fits for centuries.