Essay by G. Melendez

It’s How I Was Born

Being bornas a slave I had many challenges. Never knowing what it was like to be able to do what I wanted to do. I was constantly listening to someone else telling me what to do, when to eat, and when to talk. I longed for what every African American longed for, freedom .

Early Years

My parents were both slaves, they had different owners but were allowed to live together in the same house. I was fortunate in my early years to be born a slave but not know I was a  slave because my childhood was happy .  My mother died in 1825, I was six years old and I was sent to live with her owner’s mistress, Margaret Horiblow .She was kind to me and she taught me to read and write. I expected to be freed after my mistress died, but instead I was given to her three year old niece. Dr. Norcome was her dad so he owned me and my brother.

I found the man I wanted to marry he was a free black carpenter but Dr. Norcome said no. I had children with a nice, kind lawyer friend. I was hoping that Dr. Norcome would leave me alone. When Dr. Norcome sent me away to live on his son’s plantation as a slave I knew my children would be made plantation slaves. I escaped so my children would not become plantation slaves. My lawyer friend and children’s father bought my children so they could live with my grandmother.

Years of Hiding

When I escaped my friends helped me hide and later I moved to my grandmother’s house. The living conditions were not good but my children were safe and that is what really mattered. For seven years I lived day and night in a small crawlspace . The space was nine feet long and seven feet wide the highest point ofthe crawlspace was three feet. The makeshift bed gave me a place to sleep and a roaming area for the mice and rats. My only exercise was crawling around the small enclosed space. I got my food and talked to the outside world from a trap door that my Uncle Phillip made. The only safe time to talk was in the still of the night. I could hear my children’s voices echoing but I longed to see their faces. One day I made a hole that I could peep out just to glance at them.


Finally my day of freedom arrived. I escaped at night and went to Philadelphia on a boat then I went to New York on a train. After my escape I became involved with the abolitionists movement. My friend Mrs. Cornelia Willis bought me in 1842. She gave me my freedom. Even my abolitionist’s friends were shocked when I wrote the book Incidents of a Slave Girl. After being freed and living in the north I was able to see my children again. I will never forget the torment of being a slave and being owned by someone but now I am free.