JOB Article and John Harrower Journal, Week 2 (Caleigh Deane)

History Blog Post Week 2

The first reading for this week about JOB, a son of a high priest in Africa who was “accidentally” sold as slave and transported to Maryland, told a story that began in a rather saddening manor but improved due to the unprovoked assistance of others. The article had four sections in total, each detailing various encounters and experiences from JOB himself regarding his original life in Africa, his enslavement, and his eventual journey home. Bluett also discusses many important cultural aspects of JOB’s native country, and in what way they connected to JOB as an individual. The first section specifically highlighted JOB’s history, beginning with his origin in Galumbo, Africa in the kingdom of Futa. He goes on to explain the roles of JOB’s ancestors as leaders within Galumbo. One of JOB’s relatives developed the town of Boonda which he was allowed to personally oversee and control. As the generations lengthened, JOB’s father came into the job of High Priest, thus ensuring JOB a prominent status within the town. After further referencing the role of JOB’s family within his immediate society, Bluett tells the story of JOB’s abduction by the Futa’s enemy tribe, the Mandingoes. He then allows the reader a glimpse into his experience being sold within, and eventually running away from, the state of Maryland in the United States, only made more complicated because JOB could not speak English. He tried to contact his father regarding the tragic mix-up initially, but word was never properly sent. By pure happenstance, James Oglethorpe came across JOB’s letter to his father in Galumbo, and took pity upon him, buying and releasing him. He then journeyed to England by ship and quickly developed an understanding and respect between himself and the majority of the sailors through his demeanor. He was allowed to kill his own livestock because he would only eat meat slayed by himself or another man of his culture. After arriving in England, his sum was paid off through charitable efforts, and he felt a sense of relief regarding his future. He was eventually introduced to the royal family, who provided him with many skills and tools to take with him when he returned to Africa. This was especially important because his hometown of Boonda did not have access to a plethora of proper resources and supplies within their seemingly simplistic community. Bluett then references various cultural norms within JOB’s country, some of which being the marrying off of very young girls without their consent and the poisoning and killing of animals to eat. Bluett then concludes the article by discussing JOB’s approach to religion and personal education. I enjoyed this article as a whole because it provided a clear description of JOB and his struggles throughout many years to reclaim his once natural freedom. The process of forced immigration is evident within his story, yet he was able to emerge within his home country eventually. 

The Diary of John Harrower describes in great detail the voyage of Harrower from Lerwick Zetland by Edinburg, North Britain, to Belvidera near Fredericksburg, Virginia beginning December sixth, 1773. He documents almost every day his experiences within a diary to keep record for personal and historical purposes. Originally, Harrower did not intend to venture farther than Holland or London but was unable to find work in London and was running out of money very quickly. He sent in various job inquiries as attendants for ship voyages, bookkeepers, and any other available positions, but was continually denied due to pre-existing interest from others. He meticulously kept record of what he spent his money on, and before even beginning his voyage by ship to Virginia, referenced the bread, cheese, and beverage he purchased to sustain himself along with the exact price. He made the decision to become an indentured servant in Virginia on Wednesday, January 26th, after no longer having the funds to maintain a life in London. As a servant, he would remain in Virginia for four years as a schoolteacher in exchange for “Bedd, Board, washing and five pound during the whole time” (Harrower, 72). His eventual goal was to bring his wife Annie and children to Virginia and begin a new life as a family. The ship on which he traveled originally harbored seventy five indentured servants, over fifty of which fell ill with the flux, Ague, the fever, or frost bite. Harrower recounts various deaths throughout his trip along with the course of the wind and weather each day. He was able to remain healthy during the almost fourth month trip and arrived safely in Virginia in April. Upon arrival, Harrow is eventually “sold” to Colonel William Daingerfield of Belvidera in Fredericksburg to teach his children, ranging from four to ten years old initially, how to read, write, and possibly understand basic arithmetic. On page 83 he writes to his wife in great detail about the family with whom he was living, including that Colonel Dangerfield, his wife, four children, and housekeeper lived at the residence. Harrower himself lived in the schoolhouse in which he taught not only Dangerfield’s children, but others due to his boss’ advertising and high praise, relatively close to the main residence. Throughout his time in Belvidera, he discusses various encounters with local persons, such as the Porter family whose children he taught as well. The Porters would later kindly gift Harrower various articles of clothing as a sign of goodwill. On the other hand, copies of letters he sent to those who never properly paid him for his services were included in the diary. On the topic of letters, Harrower repeatedly writes to his wife inquiring about their children, his friends, and most importantly how she would write back to him and her decision regarding bringing the family to him in Fredericksburg. He references her brother, Captain James Craigie, to whom he also writes, to aid her in her travels. Throughout the journal entries, Harrower also cites the recent events within America, including the Boston Tea Party, and how at one point, he had not enjoyed tea for six months because of the embargo. Harrower concludes his entries by announcing that the 13 colonies were suddenly free from British control.

One thought on “JOB Article and John Harrower Journal, Week 2 (Caleigh Deane)

  1. Deane,
    Really good post. I thought your overall summary of both stories was pitch-perfect. One thing I will say, though, regarding your Job analysis is the fact that I think, on certain things, you might be taking Oglethorpe’s side a little too much. Take the royal family’s bequeathal of gifts onto Job, for example. While Job himself may have accepted them graciously, it is never said, or even implied by Job that his kingdom needed them. In fact, on all accounts, Job described himself as very wealthy, and his kingdom as relatively prosperous. As for your summary of Thomas Beckett’s diaries, I think you did a fantastic job. Though I would have, personally, loved to see your take on his accounts of the Continental Congress.

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