Brief Note on Josiah Henson, real-life inspiration for “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

Josiah_Henson_bwOn page 156 of Josiah Henson’s 1878 autobiography he recalls meeting Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe in “the vicinity of Andover, Mass., in the year 1849.”

In 1789 Henson was born a a slave in Charles County, Maryland. At the time of meeting Stowe in 1849, Henson had escaped American slavery, fled to Canada and dictated his autobiography. Meeting with Stowe, Henson told her about slavery in the  greater Washington area,

“She manifested so much interest in me, that I told her about the peculiarities of many slaveholders, and the slaves in the region where I had lived for forty-two years. My experiences had been more varied than those of the majority of slaves, for I was not only my master’s overseer, but a market-man for twenty-five years in the market at Washington, going there to sell the produce from my master’s plantation.”

Henson would later meet with President Rutherford B. Hayes. Their meeting had been arranged in part by Marshal Frederick Douglass.

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