The Blind African Slave: Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace

Overview

The Blind African Slave recounts the life of Jeffrey Brace (né Boyrereau Brinch), who was born in West Africa around 1742. Captured by slave traders at the age of sixteen, Brace was transported to Barbados, where he experienced the shock and trauma of slave-breaking and was sold to a New England ship captain. After fighting as an enslaved sailor for two years in the Seven Years War, Brace was taken to New Haven, Connecticut, and sold into slavery. After several years in New England, Brace enlisted in the ...

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Overview

The Blind African Slave recounts the life of Jeffrey Brace (né Boyrereau Brinch), who was born in West Africa around 1742. Captured by slave traders at the age of sixteen, Brace was transported to Barbados, where he experienced the shock and trauma of slave-breaking and was sold to a New England ship captain. After fighting as an enslaved sailor for two years in the Seven Years War, Brace was taken to New Haven, Connecticut, and sold into slavery. After several years in New England, Brace enlisted in the Continental Army in hopes of winning his manumission. After five years of military service, he was honorably discharged and was freed from slavery. As a free man, he chose in 1784 to move to Vermont, the first state to make slavery illegal. There, he met and married an African woman, bought a farm, and raised a family. Although literate, he was blind when he decided to publish his life story, which he narrated to a white antislavery lawyer, Benjamin Prentiss, who published it in 1810. Upon his death in 1827, Brace was a well-respected abolitionist. In this first new edition since 1810, Kari J. Winter provides a historical introduction, annotations, and original documents that verify and supplement our knowledge of Brace's life and times.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299201449
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 1/10/2005
  • Series: Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 1,450,673
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kari J. Winter is associate professor of American Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is the author of Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change: Women and Power in Gothic Novels and Slave Narratives, 1790-1865.

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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    a slave in the Northern states

    The biography of the slave captured in Africa in the 1700s begins with his capture and goes on to cover 'his adventures in the British navy, travels, sufferings, sales, abuses, education, service in the American war [of Independence], emancipation, conversion to the christian religion, knowledge of the Scriptures, memory, and blindness.' Prentiss, who wrote down the slave's story, was a Northern abolitionist. It's impossible to say how the slave Brace's story is colored by this. In the Introduction, Winter points to some known omissions. Brace's Christian faith and knowledge of the Bible seem to begin too early in his story; and with long passages from the Bible liberally and somewhat arbitrarily inserted in the text, intrude to a questionable, and certainly unnecessary, degree. Prentiss was attracted to Brace's life story because of how it could promote his abolitionist views rooted in his Christian faith. Brace was a decent person caught up in events far beyond his understanding or concern. He enlisted to fight in the Revolutionary War mainly to gain his freedom. After being freed for his service, he moved from Connecticut, where he was owned by a cruel slavemaster, to Vermont, where he continued to bear physical and financial difficulties. The facts of Brace's colorful, moving tale can be readily sifted out from Prentiss's extraneous matter--leaving a rare, memorable biography of a slave in the North, whose circumstances and options were considerably different from slaves in the South. The circumstances of Brace's capture in Africa and his time in Vermont in the last years of his life are of particular interest.

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