In 1773, John Frederick Whitehead and Johann Carl Büttner, two adolescent Germans, were placed on board the same ship headed to colonial America. With few options in Germany, each had been recruited by the labor contractors known popularly as soulsellers—men who traded in human cargo. On arrival in America they were sold to different masters, and, years later, each wrote a memoir of his experiences. These two autobiographies are valuable historical records of immigrant attitudes, perceptions, and goals. Despite their shared voyage to America and similar condition as servants, their backgrounds and personalities differed. Their divergent interpretations of their experiences provide rich firsthand insights into the transatlantic migration process, work and opportunity in colonial America, and the fates of former bound servants.
Souls for Sale presents these parallel accounts—Whitehead's published for the first time—to illustrate the condition of German redemptioners and to examine the religious, economic, familial, and literary contexts that shaped their memoirs. The editors provide helpful introductions to the works as well as notes to guide the reader.
About the Author
Susan E. Klepp is Professor of History at Temple University and Affiliated Professor of Women's Studies and African American Studies.
Farley Grubb is Professor of Economics and History at the University of Delaware.
Anne Pfaelzer de Ortiz is an independent researcher and freelance writer.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations and Maps
General Introduction: German Immigration to Early America
Part I: John Frederick Whitehead
1. Introduction: Understanding the World of John Frederick Whitehead
2. The Life of John Frederick Whitehead Containing His Travels and Chief Adventures
Part II: Johann Carl Büttner
3. Introduction: On the Trail of Johann Carl Büttner
4. Narrative of Johann Carl Büttner in the American Revolution