Landmark Books in All Fields
ItemID: #116191
Cost: $850.00

My Life in the South

Jacob Stroyer


STROYER, Jacob. My Life in the South. Salem, Massachusetts: Newcomb & Gauss, 1898. Slim octavo, original black cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $850.

Fourth edition, "new and enlarged," presentation copy, of this autobiography about life in the 19th-century South, including through slavery and the Civil War, inscribed below the frontispiece photograph: "Compliments of the author—Jacob Stroyer."

"Jacob Stroyer was born a slave on the Singleton plantation near Columbia, South Carolina in 1849 and lived there until the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in 1863. As a child, Stroyer helped care for the plantation's horses and mules, which were sold soon after his master's death. He then worked briefly in a carpenter's shop and as a field hand. During the Civil War, he was sent to Sullivan's Island and Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, where he waited on Confederate officers. While there, Stroyer learned to read. Following his release from slavery, Jacob Stroyer settled in Salem, Massachusetts, and became minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church there. The third edition [this edition is the fourth] of Stroyer's narrative, My Life in the South (1885), expands upon earlier editions, and was written with the hope of generating enough income to complete his education. The first section of the narrative covers his 15 years in slavery. It provides information about his family, describes life at his master's summer seat, and discusses the physical abuse he endured at the hands of the Singleton plantation's overseer. Stroyer also discusses the emotional strain that the slave trade put on his and other slave families. The rest of the narrative is a series of brief anecdotes about slave life, culture, beliefs, and interactions with masters and slaves" (Documenting the American South, UNC). "The book is a collection of incidents that provides an intimate view of Stroyer's life as a slave. The slaves' struggle for survival, the constant task of having to shift loyalties, and the brutality of day-to-day life are frankly shared by Stroyer in his narrative, as are the ethics, morality, and religious adherence of slave life" (South Carolina Encyclopedia). Blockson 9721.

Interior fine, faint edge-toning, trace of soiling to bright gilt-stamped cloth. A handsome about-fine copy.

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