North Carolina Voices

Slavery and the African American Experience

William Henry Singleton"But in the country of the Declaration of Independence, I was born a slave, for I was a black man. And because I was black it was believed I had no soul. I had no rights that anybody was bound to respect. For in the eyes of the law I was but a thing. I was bought and sold. I was whipped. Once I was whipped simply because it was thought I had opened a book. But I lived to see the institution of slavery into which I was born and of which I was for many years a victim pass away."
  William Henry Singleton, former slave from New Bern, N.C. (Buy the Book)

"Nothing could exceed the enthusiasm of these simple people, when they found themselves in possession of a spot they could call their own . . . many of the adults are eager to be taught to read and write, and will not be denied . . . . To fit these people for republican self government, education is the prime necessity. The sword to set them free, letters to make them citizens. The whites . . . . hastened, after the capture of [Roanoke] island, to take the oath of allegiance . . . . But the other class, whose loyalty is so ill-disguised as to reveal the 'copper,' are loud in their complaints of the 'nigger' and the 'abolitioners.' They would be glad to drive the colored people and their friends from the island."
  Horace James, describing the Freedmen's Colony established on Roanke Island. From the Annual Report of the Superintendent of Negro Affairs in North Carolina 1864.


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