16 Most Famous Female Slaves of African American Origin

In North America, the slavery was practiced from the early years of colonial period till 1863. The African-American women and me...

6 years ago
16 Most Famous Female Slaves of African American Origin

In North America, slavery was practiced from the early years of the colonial period till 1863. The African-American women and men who worked had diverse experiences of enslavement. During most of the 17th and 18th centuries, male slaves outnumbered female slaves but this slave sex ratio level when a large number of African women were brought in between 1730 and 1750. As these women had both female and black identities, they were made slaves and had to face both racism and sexism.

The then President Abraham Lincoln played an important role in liberating slaves in the southern states with the Emancipation Proclamation. The Thirteenth Amendment came into force in December 1865. It sought to completely and permanently abolish slavery in the whole United States, including the Border States, which continued to have nearly 50,000 slaves.

Here are the 16 most notable African-American female slaves.

1. Margaret Garner (or Peggy)

Source = Nyt

Margaret Garner, also known as Peggy, was an African American woman who was brought into servitude in the pre-Civil War United States. Garner was notorious, or renowned, for murdering her own daughter as opposed to allowing her to return to slavery.

2. Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Harriet Ross; 1820 – March 10, 1913)

Source = H-cdn

Harriet Tubman was an African-American humanitarian, abolitionist, and Union spy at the time of the American Civil War. Having born into slavery, Tubman got away and eventually created more than 13 missions to free over 70 slaves. 

Through a secret aid named Underground Railroad, she guided the enslaved refugees to this network of antislavery activists and safe houses. Later on, Tubman even aided John Brown in recruiting men for his raid on Harpers Ferry. In the post-war era, she strived for women's suffrage.

3. Sojourner Truth (born Isabella (“Belle”) Baumfree; c. 1797 – November 26, 1883)

Source = Biography

Born Isabella (Belle) Baumfree, Sojourner Truth was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Having born into slavery in Swartekill (Ulster County, New York), she gave herself this name in 1843. In 1826, Truth break free from slavery along with her daughter.

When she went to the court to rescue her son, Truth became the first black woman to win such kind of case against a white man. Delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention, Truth’s most renowned extemporaneous speech on gender inequalities was "Ain't I a Woman?." 

During the Civil War, Truth aided in the recruitment of black troops for the Union Army. Post the war, she made attempts (even though unsuccessful) in order to secure land grants from the federal government for freed slaves.

4. Ellen Craft (1826–1897)

Source = Wordpress

A slave from a city in Georgia called Macon, Ellen Craft impersonated as a white male planter lived mid become free from slavery. Along with her husband William Craft who posed as her slave servant, Craft escaped to the North in December 1848. They traveled openly by train and steamboat and reached Philadelphia and got liberation on Christmas Day.

5. Phillis Wheatley (May 8, 1753 – December 5, 1784)

Source = Wikimedia

The first published African-American poet & author Phillis Wheatley was born in West Africa. Wheatley was traded into slavery at the age of 7 or 8 and imported to North America.

6. Eliza Moore (1843 - January 21, 1948)

Source = Pinimg

One of the last and longest-living African American slaves, Eliza Moore was born into slavery in Montgomery County, Alabama in 1843. At the time of the American Civil War, Moore was enslaved by Dr. Taylor of Mt. Meigs Alabama (according to E. Bolser). 

Married to a slave named Asbury Moore, the Moore couple moved to Gilchrist Place as sharecroppers. A freedwoman when she died, Eliza died at the age of 105 lived mid on the Gilchrist Place in Montgomery County.

7. Lucy Terry Prince (or simply Lucy Terry; c. 1730–1821)

Source = Kentakepage

Lucy Terry Prince was a slave and first known African-American poetess who was brought from Africa to Rhode Island. Before her marriage in 1756, her future husband freed her from slavery. Her ballad named “Bars Fight” was composed on a 1746 incident. It was preserved orally until it was published in 1855 in History of Western Massachusetts by Josiah Gilbert Holland.

8. Elizabeth Key Grinstead (1630 – after 1665)

Source = Pinimg

Elizabeth Key Grinstead was among the African pioneers in North America who appealed to the court for freedom from slavery and won. She won her and her infant son’s freedom on 21 July 1656 in Virginia. She was taken to the court on the fact that she was a baptized Christian and her father was an Englishman. On the basis of these two facts, her English attorney and common-law husband William Grinstead had a successful argument that she should be freed.

9. Patsey

Source = Wikimedia

Patsey was an African-American female slave who lived in the mid 19th century. In the book “Twelve Years A Slave,” American abolitionist and author Solomon Northup (a freed slave) wrote about her. This book was later made into a movie in which Lupita Nyong'o played the role of Patsey. She even went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her brilliant performance.

10. Harriet Robinson Scott (c. 1820- June 17, 1876)

Source = Wikimedia

An African American woman, Harriet Robinson Scott was born as a slave on a Virginia plantation. In the popular case Scott v Sanford, she fought hard for her freedom with her husband Dred Scott despite all the hardships. And in 1857, she did gain freedom from slavery when they were owned by Taylor Blow who freed them immediately.

11. Harriet Ann Jacobs (February 11, 1813-March 7, 1897)

Source = Madison365

She was a writer of African-American origin who escaped from slavery and was freed later. She was one of the most famous slaves in human history born into slavery in 1813 in Edenton, North Carolina. Andrew Knox enslaved her father Elijah Knox, and John Hornblow enslaved her mother Delilah Hornblow was enslaved.

Harriet was enslaved at birth as her mother’s status was passed on to her. Post-liberation from slavery she became an abolitionist speaker and a reformer. She also wrote a biography named Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl under the pseudonym Linda Brent.

12. Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-December 5, 1784)

Source = Biography

She was the first published Afro-American poet. She was sold into slavery at a very young age of seven or eight and was shifted to North America. Wheatley family of Boston purchased Phillis and encouraged her to read and write seeing her talent in poetry. Her poetry brought her fame in England and American colonies.

Her work was praised by George Washington. She was set free after her first book was published. She got married in 1778. Her husband was imprisoned as he was in debt after which she got poverty-stricken, fell ill and died.

13. Elizabeth Freeman (c. 1744-December 28, 1829)

Source = Graphichole

Elizabeth was an illiterate black woman who left no written records of her life. She was the first enslaved African-American woman who filed and won a freedom suit in Massachusetts. She was brought to slavery in 1744 at Peter Hugeboom’s farm in Claverack, New York, and was given the name Bet.

She died on December 28, 1829. Her actual age was never known but, she is believed to have lived 85 years old as inscribed on her tombstone:

ELIZABETH FREEMAN, also known by the name of MUMBET died Dec. 28th 1829. Her supposed age was 85 Years. She was born a slave and remained a slave for nearly thirty years; She could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she had no superior or equal. She neither wasted time nor property. She never violated a trust, nor failed to perform a duty. In every situation of domestic trial, she was the most efficient helper and the tenderest friend. Good mother, farewell.”

14. Anna J. Cooper (August 10, 1858-February 27, 1964)

Source = Npr

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was one of the distinguished Afro-American scholars in US history. She was an author, educator, sociologist, speaker, and Black Liberation activist. She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Paris-Sorbonne in 1924. With this, she became the fourth Afro-American to receive a Doctoral degree.

She was born to an enslaved woman Hannah Stanley Haywood in Raleigh, North Carolina in the home of Wake County landowner George Washington Haywood. Cooper was a domestic servant in the Haywood home.

15. Hannah Byrne 

Hannah Byrne was among the freed slaves of the Napoleon Bonaparte Byrne family that made a 6-month journey from Missouri to California overland in 1859. She and Pete Byrne are regarded as the first blacks in Berkeley and among the first Afro-Americans in California. They left the farm in Missouri and settled in Berkeley, California along with the four Byrne children and four other adults.

16. Lucy

Lucy was the black African-American slave of John Lang. She was his valuable possession for agrarian and domestic labor. When she was 12, a war party Creek seized Lang’s farmstead and Lucy. She was kept as a slave in Creek territory where she had enslaved children and grandchildren.

Apart from these, there are other famous black women who endured discrimination. They were enslaved as a consequence of battling for equality and human rights.

1. Marie-Joseph Angelique (1700- June 21, 1734)

Source = Kinja-img

Marie-Joseph dite Angelique was a Portuguese black slave in New France who died in 1734. It was the name given to her by her last owner. She was known to be the rebellious slave in Montreal. She was convicted of setting a fire in the owner’s house as an attempt to escape and burned much of what is now called Old Montreal. She was brutally tortured and hanged.

Although there were no actual proofs against her and she was made a scapegoat. She was poor, enslaved, and a foreigner and they had every reason to outcast her socially.

2. Chloe Cooley

Source = Pinimg

Chloe Cooley was an enslaved black woman held in Fort Erie and Queenston, Upper Canada in the late 1700s. She struggled against her owner Sergeant Adam Vrooman. This accelerated the formation of the Act to limit slavery in Upper Canada in 1793. The act restricted the slave trade in the British colonies.

Her owner Vrooman transported her in a boat across Niagara River in the United States. She protested violently, causing Vrooman to take the assistance of two men. Several witnesses observed the incident. After reaching the United States, she protested for her rights against slavery but, there wasn't any law that could protect her interest. Nobody knew what happened to her after reaching the United States.

3. Sue

Sue was a black woman enslaved by James Brown. Chickamaugas captured her along with other members and slaves of the Brown family. She was kidnapped along with her children and grandchildren by Joseph’s son James as a punishment for his captivity.

Concluding Thoughts

Slavery is more of a punishment where you are deprived of the rights that are normally enjoyed by independent individuals. And these were some of the famous black women who endured slavery in the past.

According to you, what is the status of female slavery in modern society? Post your comments below.


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