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Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave

by William Grimes

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The Life of William Grimes offers an eye-opening account of a life during and after slavery, written by a man who experienced and witnessed the worst.

Unlike other slave memoirs, The Life of William Grimes has not been sanitized or otherwise edited for the benefit of what, at the time, was a mostly white readership. The tone set by Grimes in his recollections is one of bitter resentment and indignation at an experience which was demeaning, physically and mentally torturing, and an insult to his very humanity.

Intelligent and perceptive, it was only through luck and trusting his own wits that William was able to escape his enslavement. The son of a white plantation owner and a black mother who worked as his father's slave, Grimes variously worked around the plantation grounds as a coach driver, stable boy, and in the fields.

Grimes was offered no lenience for being his father's son; on the contrary, his father's temper was notorious and landed him in jail. Thus he could not purchase his offspring's freedom, as was relatively common practice for plantation owners. However the family doctor, Steward, is credited for his kindness during William Grimes' childhood.

After covering his family's history, Grimes tells of his years growing up and maturing as a slave. His eventual escape, upon a ship bound northwards from Savannah, Georgia to New York City, is among the most dramatic passages of the book. After freeing himself, Grimes turns his ire to life as a free black man: shunned and ostracized, it was in the period following his freedom that the new oppression - of feeling a second-class citizen - weighed on his soul.

In all, this book is a classic memoir of a period of history important for all to remember and learn of. This edition is in large print, so that the hard of sight may also benefit from William Grimes' recollections with ease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave William Grimes

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