September 4

The diary of John Harrower and the memoirs on the life of Job both explored the different emigrant experiences of European volunteer migrants and of African forced migrants. One key difference came in the form of diversification of the two classes. In the case of the African forced migrants, they could all be grouped together as coming from the lowest class in the Futa kingdom of Gambia. They all worked as slaves under the kingdom and were sold off to the British by the Futa kingdomites. It is important to distinguish that there were major differences between the conceptualization of slavery in the kingdom and throughout Africa and that of the English. Nonetheless, those sold to the English were accustomed to hard labor and a lack of freedom. This was the main reason Job stood out from the rest of those sold into slavery; he came from the noble class in the kingdom, and so was accustomed to a life of relative luxury and intellectual and religious exploration, not intensive outdoor labor. As for the indentured servants of Europe, this class of people was highly diverse in both skill and education levels. As such, they had a wider variety of opportunities awaiting them in the New World. John himself was an educated man and left his home to take advantage of business opportunities in the colonies.

It was interesting to read about the experiences of a man who came from noble upbringing be forced into the lowest class of another society and that of a man of relatively little money leaving on his own accord in search of economic prosperity. Job was dismayed on his journey and eagerly awaited his return to his life at home. Another key factor was an underlying uncertainty regarding whether or not he would be able to go home at all. This is not to say that John experienced an easy passage. His diary entries often described harsh weather conditions while he was at sea. He also often only ate some variation of bread, cheese and wine, if he even ate at all. But one key difference between John and Job was that Job had the hope of and freedom to return to his family and home in Europe.

One interesting similarity between these two accounts was the two men’s reliance on religion to carry them through their hardships. In the memoirs of Job, it was recounted that Job never skipped his time of prayer, even in the colonies and despite harsh and consistent mockery from a child. He stuck to his beliefs even when they were challenged by the Englishmen he later acquainted, and even challenged them on some of their beliefs, albeit jokingly. He and the Englishmen later when on to describe his capture and forced migration as the divine will of God, asserting that every event has a purpose in God’s plan. John also found comfort in God throughout his journey. On days where he found himself with no money for food, he did not worry and instead trusted in God to carry him through the struggle. He, like Job, also frequently passed his time in religious devotion, reading scripture during and between meals.

2 thoughts on “September 4

  1. Noell,
    This is a fantastic post. I honestly thought everything you had to say here was really great, and really hit a lot of great points that I didn’t bring up on the head. It is very interesting that Job came from an incredibly wealthy background, and it certainly gives his story an element of uniqueness. You’re also similarly correct to find both his and Beckett’s shared reliance on religion interesting, as they otherwise come from almost entirely disparate worlds. Keep it up!

  2. I also found it interesting how religion played a role in their lives, especially in the case of Job. In “Some Memoirs of the Life of Job…”, it was discussed how his master gave him a place to worship; this part really stood out to me because Job was an active Muslim in the colonies which at the time weren’t necessarily religiously tolerant. While I cannot say for certain that Islam was not practiced in the 18th century in America, I do not think it was very common so when reading I found it interesting how he was openly able to practice his religion.

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