"Am I Your Slave?" William Parker and "The Freedman' Story"

Open Access
Author:
Gibson , Dana M
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in American Studeis and English
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Phyllis Blum Cole, Thesis Supervisor
  • Arnold A Markley, Honors Advisor
  • Julie Ann Gallagher, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Antislavery movement
  • Atlantic Monthly
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Christiana Resistance
  • African American Narratives.
  • William Parker
Abstract:
This thesis examines the life and narrative of fugitive slave William Parker, who boldly looked into the eyes of a slave kidnapper and asked, “Am I your slave?” Parker was the leader of an uprising that the white residents of Christiana, Pennsylvania would refer to as the Christiana Riots, which resulted in the death of a Southern white slaveholder. However, Parker reveals much more in the “The Freedman’s Story” than the killing of Gorsuch, as his narrative is the first that tells of an African American leading an ongoing, righteous militant resistance against the Fugitive Slave Law. Moreover, upon escaping to Canada, Parker would become intimately connected to the two most influential abolitionist agents in the United States: Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic Monthly. Historians have failed to explore the relationship among the three, and their fascinating rhetoric, which promoted the antislavery movement and the Union cause in the Civil War. For this reason, Parker’s powerful narrative is a text invaluable to the genre of African American autobiographical narratives.