Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by Himself by Bibb


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Page 1

Of the class last named, is the narrative of the life of Henry Bibb,
which is equally distinguished as a revolting portrait of the hideous
slave system, a thrilling narrative of individual suffering, and a
triumphant vindication of the slave's manhood and mental dignity. And
all this is associated with unmistakable traces of originality and

To many, the elevated style, purity of diction, and easy flow of
language, frequently exhibited, will appear unaccountable and
contradictory, in view of his want of early mental culture. But to the
thousands who have listened with delight to his speeches on
anniversary and other occasions, these same traits will be noted as
unequivocal evidence of originality. Very few men present in their
written composition, so perfect a transcript of their style as is
exhibited by Mr. Bibb.

Moreover, the writer of this introduction is well acquainted with his
handwriting and style. The entire manuscript I have examined and
prepared for the press. Many of the closing pages of it were written
by Mr. Bibb in my office. And the whole is preserved for inspection
now. An examination of it will show that no alteration of sentiment,
language or style, was necessary to make it what it now is, in the
hands of the reader. The work of preparation for the press was that of
orthography and punctuation merely, an arrangement of the chapters,
and a table of contents--little more than falls to the lot of
publishers generally.

The fidelity of the narrative is sustained by the most satisfactory
and ample testimony. Time has proved its claims to truth. Thorough
investigation has sifted and analysed every essential fact alleged,
and demonstrated clearly that this thrilling and eloquent narrative,
though stranger than fiction, is undoubtedly true.

It is only necessary to present the following documents to the reader,
to sustain this declaration. For convenience of reference, and that
they may be more easily understood, the letters will be inserted
consecutively, with explanations following the last.

The best preface to these letters, is the report of a committee
appointed to investigate the truth of Mr. Bibb's narrative as he has
delivered it in public for years past.



Mr. Bibb has addressed several assemblies in Michigan, and
his narrative is generally known. Some of his hearers, among
whom were Liberty men, felt doubt as to the truth of his
statements. Respect for their scruples and the obligation of
duty to the public induced the formation of the present

The Committee entered on the duty confided to them, resolved
on a searching scrutiny, and an unreserved publication of
its result. Mr. Bibb acquiesced in the inquiry with a
praiseworthy spirit. He attended before the Committee and
gave willing aid to its object. He was subjected to a
rigorous examination. Facts--dates--persons--and localities
were demanded and cheerfully furnished. Proper
inquiry--either by letter, or personally, or through the
medium of friends was then made from _every_ person, and in
_every_ quarter likely to elucidate the truth. In fact no
test for its ascertainment, known to the sense or experience
of the Committee, was omitted. The result was the collection
of a large body of testimony from very diversified quarters.
Slave owners, slave dealers, fugitives from slavery,
political friends and political foes contributed to a mass
of testimony, every part of which pointed to a common
conclusion--the undoubted truth of Mr. Bibb's statements.

In the Committee's opinion no individual can substantiate
the events of his life by testimony more conclusive and
harmonious than is now before them in confirmation of Mr.
Bibb. The main facts of his narrative, and many of the minor
ones are corroborated beyond all question. No inconsistency
has been disclosed nor anything revealed to create
suspicion. The Committee have no hesitation in declaring
their conviction that Mr. Bibb is amply sustained, and is
entitled to public confidence and high esteem.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Thu 21st Feb 2019, 2:00