Harriet Jacobs

Harriet Jacobs is an iconic woman.

There are a lot of stories about perseverance and overcoming adversity.

But, the story of Harriet Jacobs is, frankly, peerless.

Born into slavery between 1813 and 1815, Harriet endured more than many could imagine.

Although her early childhood was, by her reckoning, pleasant, it wasn’t long before she attracted the desire of the man who kept her enslaved.

She spurned his intentions as long as she could, marrying and having children with another man before the pressure got too great and she had to go into hiding.

For seven long years, Harriet Jacobs hid in the tiny attic of the house where her children stayed, being raised by another woman.

Throughout this time, Harriet Jacobs watched her children grow through tiny cracks in the ceiling, concealing herself from them and nearly everyone else for fear of the man who continued searching for her throughout this time.

Finally, after 7 long years, she was able to escape to the north.

In the dead of night, she escaped through the maritime underground railroad and made the perilous journey north.

There, she linked up with other prominent abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass, and eventually wrote one of the most important slave narratives in American History, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

We can’t account for the totality of her sacrifice, trauma, and pain.

Nor will we ever be able to calculate the significance of her contribution to the fight against slavery.

But, one thing we can do in Edenton is, tell her story.

She’s an essential part of our history.

Whether you ride the Edenton Trolley Tour, book a guided tour in the Barker House, or simply walk around town, seeing the building and architecture from this era that still stands, the story of Harriet Jacobs thrums through Edenton.

Every year, thousands of people come through Edenton, exploring our history, touring our buildings, and learning about Edenton.

One of the greatest pleasures, and most important things we do, is to share her story with people as they come through Edenton.

I hope you come to Edenton this year because then you’ll get to learn even more about this incredibly important woman.


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