Thomas Jones was born into slavery near Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1806; he obtained some education, and in addition to his regular duties, he became a minister, a calling he persisted in after his escape.
The Experience of Rev. Thomas H. Jones, Who Was a Slave for Forty-Three Years: Written by a Friend, as Related to Him by Brother Jonesby Thomas H. Jones
Originally published in order to raise money to purchase his son's freedom, Thomas Jones's autobiography first appeared in the 1850s. This version, published in 1885, includes not only Jones's account of his childhood and young adult life as a slave in North Carolina, but also a long additional section in which Jones describes his experiences as a minister in North Carolina, while still enslaved, and then on the abolitionist lecture circuit in Massachusetts and the Maritime Provinces of Canada after he stowed away on a ship bound for New York in 1849. The narrative's most prominent focus is on Jones's ministry in and around Wilmington, North Carolina, before he escaped. The narrative puts a characteristically postbellum emphasis on shared religious devotion and even fondness between African Americans and whites. Perhaps the most compelling scene, however, is Jones's account of his forcible separation from his first wife and their three children, whom he never saw again.
A DOCSOUTH BOOK. This collaboration between UNC Press and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library brings classic works back into print. DocSouth Books editions are selected from the digital library of Documenting the American South and are unaltered from the original publication. The DocSouth series uses digital technology to offer e-books and print-on-demand publications, providing affordable and accessible editions to a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers.
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