Briton Hammon: Marshfield

Briton Hammon: Marshfield

  • <p>Briton Hammon's "Narrative" Title Page</p> <p>Briton Hammon's "Narrative" Title Page</p>

"...a happy Sight of his Person [had] so overcome me, that I could not speak to him for some Time--My good Master was exceeding glad to see me, telling me that I was like one arose from the Dead."

Briton Hammon was one of the first black Americans to publish his autobiography; the 1760 publication of his life story marks the first of many American slave narratives.

In A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, A Negro Man, Hammon describes himself as a “servant” of General John Winslow in Marshfield. Yet his references to Winslow as his “Master” suggest that Hammon was a slave. His book was published by Green and Russell, then the foremost printer in Boston. Hammon narrates a shipwreck off the Florida coast, captivity among Native Americans, imprisonment by pirates in Havana, and service on British gunships, one of which saw action against the French.

Today the Winslow House in Marshfield, MA features guided tours that address Hammon's narrative, life, and the topic of slavery in General John Winslow's upper-class eighteenth century Massachusetts household.