Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
by Harriet Jacobs
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Rules and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Chapter.Paragraph
The slave Hamlin, the first fugitive that came under the new law, was given up by the bloodhounds of the north to the bloodhounds of the south. It was the beginning of a reign of terror to the colored population. (40.3)
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 had a profound impact on runaway slaves. It mandated that law enforcement officials had to return runaway slaves to their masters. The law also stated that anyone who was found helping a slave was subject to six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. This law literally brought slavery to the North, since it made northerners responsible for returning slaves to their masters.
I dreaded the approach of summer, when snakes and slaveholders make their appearance. I was, in fact, a slave in New York, as subject to slave laws as I had been in a Slave State. Strange incongruity in a State called free! (40.10)
While Linda spent much of her life thinking that life in the Free States would be easier, she realizes that slavery has followed her North.
“The bill of sale!” Those words struck me like a blow. So I was sold at last! A human being sold in the free city of New York! The bill of sale is on record, and future generations will learn from it that women were articles of traffic in New York, late in the nineteenth century of the Christian religion. (41.19)
Ouch. Jacobs rewrites the title of her chapter, “Free at Last,” to Sold at Last, because the bitter irony is that her path to freedom involves being treated as property.