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His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad

 
 
 
 
His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad
Author: John P. Parker
ISBN 13: 9780393317183
ISBN 10: 393317188
Edition: N/A
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: 1998-01-17
Format: Paperback
Pages: 168
List Price: $14.95
 
 

"Surpasses all previous slave narratives. . . . Usually we need to invent our American heroes. With the publication of Parker's extraordinary memoir, we seem to have discovered the genuine article." —Joseph J. Ellis, Civilization

Publishers Weekly

This previously unpublished manuscript, resurrected from the Duke University Archive, tells a remarkable story. Parker's oral history, taken down by a journalist in the 1880s, provides a lively and indelible account of a man determined to escape slavery and to help others reach freedom. Parker's vigorous vernacular has echoes of Huckleberry Finn, but his tragicomic accounting of many death-defying episodes is freighted with truth and "an eternal hatred of the institution [of slavery]." Born in 1827 in Norfolk, Va., at eight Parker was sold and marched south in chains. He soon learned self-sufficiency and abhorrence of brutality. Though his master in Mobile, Ala., was kindly, Parker's apprenticeships put him in the path of cruel racists; indomitably, he began a series of escapes, all of which failed. He finally earned his freedom by working in an iron foundry; before moving north, he fought a white co-worker who stole an invention of his. In Ripley, Ohio, from 1845 to 1865, Parker, perpetually armed, helped smuggle slaves north. He persisted despite a $1000 bounty on his head, heartened by the courage and sacrifice most fugitives showed. Over the years he variously owned foundry and milling businesses in Ohio. He had six children, all of whom became educated and middle class. Parker died in 1900. Sprague teaches at Morehead State University in Kentucky. Photos not seen by PW. Film option to Tri-Star. (Nov.)