Slavery Days in Old Kentucky
Isaac Johnson's stark and moving memoir about his early years as a slave in Kentucky was privately printed in 1901 when he was 57 years old. It is ... Show synopsis Isaac Johnson's stark and moving memoir about his early years as a slave in Kentucky was privately printed in 1901 when he was 57 years old. It is not listed in any of the major bibliographical references and possibly as few as six copies of the original publication are still in existence. In essence, republication of this rare slave narrative makes it available for the first time. The story begins in the 1840s with Johnson's earliest recollections of his father, Richard Yeager, of his mother, Jane Johnson (a slave used by Yeager as his wife), and of Ambrose and Eddie, Isaac's two brothers. Their happy family life ends abruptly when Yeager, in need of money, sells his wife and children at auction. Seven at the time, Isaac never sees any of his family again. He goes on to detail the horrors of his life as a slave and to mention his service in the 102nd United States Colored Regiment. The book concludes with Isaac's unsuccessful search for his family in post-war Kentucky. In his introductory essay, Dr. Reinhart satisfies the reader's desire to know "What then?" as he describes the remaining years of Johnson's life, spent working as a well-respected stonemason in Canada and upstate New York. Why reprint this record of a shameful period in the history of the United States? In Isaac Johnson's own words, "...my actual experience[s] as a slave are given...to give the world a knowledge of the subject that no eloquence may ever make the same thing again possible".