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John Andrew Jackson was a former slave who lived in the early-to-middle nineteenth century. After escaping slavery in South Carolina and making his way north to Massachusetts, Jackson was forced to head to Canada after the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act. Jackson lectured about his experiences as a slave after he travelled to England and he eventually returned to South Carolina after the Civil War, to the place where he was enslaved, where he worked to improve the lives of other former slaves. During his journey to Canada Jackson met Harriet Beecher Stowe, who housed Jackson and helped him escape the United States. Jackson was likely the first slave Stowe housed and Jackson describes their interaction in his memoir, The Experience of a Slave in South Carolina. Jackson told Stowe his story, and many of the events and themes Jackson spoke of in his memoir—and likely told Stowe about—have parallels to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, one of the most influential books in American History. Who was John Andrew Jackson, and what do his life and experiences reveal about American slavery and the historical context in which he lived? In this paper I will argue that Jackson provides a specific example of how enslaved African Americans, their activism, narratives, and resistance, were critical in the creation of the circumstances leading to the downfall of chattel slavery in America.


Undergraduate Research Awards - 2021 Finalist, Junior-Senior category