Between the covers of Slave Testimony readers will find the largest collection of annotated and authenticated accounts of slaves ever published in one volume. In them, the slaves of Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Henry Clay, and others speak for themselves about their culture, plantation life, the adequacy of their food, clothing, and shelter, the sexual exploitation of black women, and the psychological response to bondage. The views given are those of house servants and field hands, docile slaves and rebels, urban slaves and rural slaves, slaves with kind masters and those with cruel ones. These wide-ranging documents, together with annotations, notes, an index, dozens of illustrations, and an incisive introduction, form a volume of unusual scope and character.
John W. Blassingame (1940—2000) was a professor of history at Yale University, the author of The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South and Black New Orleans, 1860—1880, and the editor of six volumes of The Papers of Frederick Douglass.