This title includes rare firsthand accounts of slavery from across the Palmetto State collected together for the first time. Out of the hundreds of published slave narratives, only a handful exist specific to South Carolina, and most of these are not readily available to modern readers. Edited by Susanna Ashton, this collection restores to print seven slave narratives documenting the lived realities of slavery as it existed across the Palmetto State's upcountry, midlands, and lowcountry, from plantation culture to urban servitude. First published between the late eighteenth century and the dawn of the twentieth, these richly detailed firsthand accounts present a representative cross section of slave experiences, from religious awakenings and artisan apprenticeships to sexual exploitations and harrowing escapes. In their distinctive individual voices, narrators celebrate and mourn the lives of fellow slaves, contemplate the meaning of freedom, and share insights into the social patterns and cultural controls exercised during a turbulent period in American history. Each narrative is preceded by an introduction to place its content and publication history in historical context. The volume also features an afterword surveying other significant slave narratives and related historical documents on South Carolina. ""I Belong to South Carolina"" reinserts a chorus of powerful voices of the dispossessed into South Carolina's public history, reminding us of the cruelties of the past and the need for vigilant guardianship of liberty in the present and future.
Susanna Ashton is an associate professor and associate chair in the Department of English at Clemson University. She is the author of Collaborators in Literary America, 1870-1920 and coeditor of These "Colored" United States: African American Essays from the 1920s.