Week Two Readings

“Some Memories of the Life of Job the Son of Solomon the Highest Priest of Boonda in Africa…” follows the life of Job, who was born to a successful family on Boonda and was educated alongside the eventual king of Futa, Sambo, but was captured and sold to European slave traders by Mandigoes, Futa’s enemy. Job arrived in Maryland as a slave, but was not cut out for tobacco labor, and tended to the cattle instead. Job was a deeply religious Muslim man and would go into the woods to pray, but was mocked and harassed by a young white boy, and since Job could not communicate his struggle to the slaveowner, he ran away, but was captured and put into prison, where Thomas Bluett heard of him and went to meet him. They found an elderly man who shared a common language with Job, and Job told him his story and was sent back to the slaveowner. He was then sold to a man who sent him on a ship to England to be free (and during the journey he learned English), and soon was able to return home. I found this story interesting, although I do wonder whether it is entirely accurate, since it is told secondhand by Bluett. I also found it a little condescending, although entirely expected, that they would try to force Christianity on him. His migration—involuntarily to America, then to England, and eventually returning back home—was interesting, and I would have liked to have read more about how he adjusted to such a different life. I also wonder how his experience differed from those who were not highly educated and did not come from an elite family.

The Diary of John Harrower, from 1773-1776, shows the daily life of an indentured servant from Scotland in America. Harrower had originally gone to London to search for work, but after finding none, boarded a ship to America, agreeing to be an indentured servant for four years, leaving behind his wife and children. Although Harrower was to be an indentured servant, he had an advantage over others, as he was educated, and thus would likely receive a better position. Harrower planned on becoming a schoolmaster, and a merchant on the ship told him he would try to sell him as a clerk or bookkeeper if not a schoolmaster. Harrower kept track of his finances, the weather, and illness on the voyage to America, along with events, such as the crew fearing a disturbance among the indentured servants and the harsh treatment of an indentured servant who got drunk and “abused” high level crewmembers. In Virginia, he was brought to Colonel Daingerfield to be a schoolteacher for his three children. As an indentured servant, Harrower received bed, board, washing, and clothes, and was paid five shilling per quarter for each child he taught. It was interesting to read about the voyage, especially the conditions and the treatment of indentured servants on board. It was particularly striking to me that when an indentured servant died, the German man, he was buried somewhere in the woods. I wonder if his grave was marked, and I imagine it would be difficult to his family to not have closure. It was also interesting to read about the daily life of an indentured servant and to see Harrower mention events leading up to the American Revolution, such as the colonel not buying tea, the Boston Tea Party, and conflicts between British troops and Bostonians. Harrower also mentioned going money hunting, but I could not figure out what that is.

2 thoughts on “Week Two Readings

  1. I also found Bluett’s piece to be somewhat condescending especially when he discussed the matter of Job’s journey back home and trying to find the funds to pay off the debt. Bluett kept mentioning how he had convinced so-and-so to give money and how someone else offered to pay the difference of what was left after he had spoken to them. In my opinion it was kind of “white savior-ish” (for lack of a better term) because all the negotiations for Job’s freedom were happening through Bluett.

  2. Hi! I really liked how in your analysis of Some Memories of the Life of Job you laid out the events in an easy to understand way. I feel like I got the full story of Job from your words. I also wondered how accurate the story was… I found it interesting that you also talked about what may have been a difference between his story and others based on his class before being enslaved. The same as Job’s story, I feel like you did a wonderful job of analyzing the document in an understandable way. In my post, I also mentioned that it was interesting to see the events leading up to the American Revolution before they knew what it would become! Good job 🙂

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