About Harriet Jacobs – TIMELINE

1809 Abraham Lincoln is born.

1809-1817 James Madison is president.

1811 Harriet Beecher Stowe is born.

1812 The United States declares war on Britain – the War of 1812.

1813 Harriet Ann Jacobs is born in Edenton, N.C. to Delilah and Elijah Jacobs.

1815 John S. Jacobs, Harriet’s brother, is born.

Napoleon is defeated at Waterloo.

1816 Jane Austin writes Emma.

1817-1825 James Monroe is president.

1819 Harriet’s mother dies. At age six, Harriet goes to live with her mother’s white mistress, Margaret Horniblow, in Edenton. Through Miss Horniblow’s tutelage, Harriet learns how to read and write.

1820 The African country of Liberia is founded for the repatriation of Blacks from the United States.

1825 Margaret Horniblow dies. Harriet is bequeathed to the woman’s three year-old niece, Mary Matilda Norcom. Harriet and her brother John move into the house of Dr. James Norcom. Over the years, Dr. Norcom’s unwanted sexual advances and his wife’s vindictive jealousy torment Harriet.

1825-1829 John Quincy Adams is president.

1826 Harriet’s father dies.

1828 Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language is published.

1829 When Dr. Norcom forbade Harriet to marry a free black carpenter, she entered into a liaison with Samuel Tredwell Sawyer. Harriet is expelled from the Norcom house and goes to live with her freed grandmother, Molly Horniblow. Her son Joseph is born.

1829-1837 Andrew Jackson is president.

1830 Naturalist Charles Darwin sails on the HMS Beagle to South America, New Zealand and Australia.

1831 Nat Turner, a Virginia slave, leads a revolt against slave owners. It is believed as many as 21 Edenton blacks were arrested on claims of incitement to insurrection.

1833 Louisa Matilda, Harriet’s daughter by Samuel Tredwell Sawyer, is born.

Oberlin College opens in Ohio; it is the first co-educational college, admitting black students. Slavery is abolished in the British Empire.

1835 Harriet is sent to the Norcom plantation several miles outside of Edenton, N.C. In June, when she learns her children will soon arrive to be “broken in,” Harriet runs away. She conceals herself in a small attic above a storeroom of her grandmother’s home. Her brother John and her two children are jailed until September and then sold to a trader acting for Samuel Tredwell Sawyer. The children go to live with Harriet’s grandmother in Edenton. John goes to Sawyer’s plantation outside Edenton.

1837 Samuel Tredwell Sawyer is elected to Congress. He leaves for Washington, D.C., taking Harriet’s brother John with him.

Victoria becomes Queen of Great Britain.

1837-1841 Martin Van Buren is president.

1838 Harriet’s brother, John, runs away from Samuel Tredwell Sawyer.

1839 African captives mutiny on the slave ship, the Amistad, killing some of the crew.

George D. Weed’s anti-slavery book, Slavery As It Is, is published.

1840 Harriet’s daughter, Louisa Matilda, is reunited with her mother before leaving for Washington, D.C. with Sawyer, his wife and their baby; after five months there, she is taken to her cousin’s home in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Worldwide Anti-Slavery Convention is held in London. American women walk out in protest when they are not permitted to take their seats as delegates.

The first university degrees are granted to women in the United States.

1841 William Henry Harrison is president.

1841-1845 John Tyler is president.

1842 In June, Harriet uses an established maritime escape route to flee Edenton, bound for New York. She leaves behind her son, uncle and grandmother.

1843 Harriet and her brother John are reunited in New York. Harriet arranges for her son, Joseph, to be sent to her in Boston.

Charles Dickens writes A Christmas Carol.

1845-1849 James K. Polk is president.

1846 The Smithsonian Institution opens in Washington, D.C.

1849 In Rochester, N.Y., Harriet and John work in the Anti-Slavery Office and Reading Room, where they meet Frederick Douglass, Amy Post and other abolitionists.

1849-1850 Zachary Taylor is president.

1850 The Fugitive Slave Law is passed, declaring that all runaway slaves be brought back to their masters.

The slave trade is abolished in Washington, D.C.

The first national women’s rights convention is held in Massachusetts.

Dr. Norcom dies in Edenton; his daughter, Mary Matilda, and her husband, Daniel Messmore, try to capture Harriet and return her to slavery.

1850-1853 Millard Fillmore is president.

1852 Northern friends purchase Harriet and emancipate her.

Harriet Beecher Stowe writes Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

1853 Molly Horniblow dies in Edenton, N.C.

Harriet begins writing her book.

1853-1857 Franklin Pierce is president.

1856 John Brown and his anti-slavery followers murder five pro-slavers in Kansas.

1857 The Supreme Court refuses to grant freedom to Dred Scott, a slave living on free soil in Missouri Territory.

1857-1861 James Buchanan is president.

1858 Harriet completes her manuscript and visits England to sell her book.

1859 John Brown and his followers seize the federal armory at Harper’s Ferry, Va.; Brown is caught and hanged for treason.

1861-1865 Abraham Lincoln is president.

1861 In Boston, Harriet self-publishes her book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, using the pseudonym Linda Brent. The British edition follows the next year.

Confederate soldiers fire on Fort Sumter, April 12; the Civil War begins.

1862-68 Harriet performs relief work among freedmen in Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Va., and Savannah, Ga. During this time period, she and Louisa Matilda open a school in Alexandria, Va., and Harriet runs a boarding home in Cambridge, Mass.

1863 President Abraham Lincoln signs “The Emancipation Proclamation.”

1865 Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox, April 9, ending the Civil War.

President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated, dying April 15.

The Freedman’s Bureau is formed to educate, help and employ former slaves.

1865-1869 Andrew Johnson is president.

1869-1877 Ulysses S. Grant is president.

1877-1881 Rutherford Birchard Hayes is president.

1881 James A. Garfield is president.

1881-1885 Chester Alan Arthur is president.

1885-1889 Grover Cleveland is president.

1897 Harriet dies and is buried next to her brother in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass.

Timeline is based on information provided in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, by Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Jacobs Timeline, xroads.virginia.edu

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