We are very excited to announce that our book Slave Life in Georgia: A Narrative of the Life, Sufferings, and Escape of John Brown, A Fugitive Slave is now available in eBook through Amazon in the Kindle Store. 

There are a couple of versions for sale but ours is unique, with an introduction documenting references in the narrative and testimonials, footnotes, and a bibliography of source materials.

This autobiography of John Brown, who spent thirty years as a slave in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia was published in London in 1855 by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, and again in 1972 and 1991 by Beehive Press. For the introduction in our 1991 reissue (now out of print), F. N. Boney, University of Georgia, researched records which show that this is an authentic historical source and no mere fabrication of Abolitionist propagandists.


An excerpt here from the Introduction in our print edition by F.N. Boney, University of Georgia:

“John Brown was a slave in Georgia during the prime of his life. He finally escaped bondage in the South, passed through the free states and settled in Canada, safe from American justice which could have returned him to slavery. Alone and homeless, he went to England where he worked at his slave learned trade of carpentry and served the abolition cause as a lecturer and author. [John Brown] died in obscurity in London in 1876, but he left behind a moving autobiography, a compelling story of his life as a slave and his eventual escape.

Like most other fugitive slave narratives, this book was a cooperative effort. An illiterate black man, known as Benford or Fed in slavery and renamed John Brown in freedom, dictated his memoirs to educated, cosmopolitan Louis Alexis Chamerovzow, Secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Two men could hardly have been more different. Yet they were one in their opposition to slavery which, when Slave Life in Georgia appeared in 1855, was still a powerful, enduring force in the American South.”

We also have an audiobook version available here through Audible. This was narrated by Damian Salandy, who did an incredible job bringing John Brown and his harrowing story to life.



Speaking of Slavery…

Both the Savannah Morning News and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, published this article today by Will Peeples:

‘I have to push forward:’

Effort to change Savannah’s Calhoun Square’s name nears finish line

Pat Gunn performs with the Saltwata Players at Calhoun Square. (Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News)

A petition to rename Calhoun Square to Jubilee Square has made progress but is not yet ready for consideration by Savannah City Council.

The group pushing the effort, the Center for Jubilee, Reconciliation and Healing, needs to get signatures from 51% of the property owners in the surrounding area and attain a letter of endorsement from one of four elected officials.

The square in question, Calhoun Square, is named for John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina politician, U.S. vice president and a fierce advocate for slavery in the United States.

The greenspace that bears his name is the southernmost square on Abercorn Street, two blocks northeast of Forsyth Park and across Gordon Street from the Massie School Heritage Center. The square is not far from a burial ground that was the designated cemetery for both free and enslaved people of color, the Center for Jubilee points out in its application,

Center Co-founders Patt Gunn and Rosalyn Rouse have been working on this project for months, and the nearby residents’ signatures were initially something they decided to forego after some legal advice.

In the city ordinance for renaming public spaces, these signatures are required to change the name of “a park, playground, trail, recreational area or space.” Since the word “square” is not explicitly used in these descriptors, Gunn and company decided not to seek the signatures.

But after filing the initial name change proposal forms in May, the city has asked that the Center get the signatures. Gunn said it would take 19 signatures to get the 51% required for the name change.

Gunn and Rouse planned for the contingency and will solicit those signatures in the same way they’ve done everything so far: through grassroots, door-to-door outreach.

The group hosts an event called Come Sunday on the third Sunday of every month in Calhoun Square. These events were already a community outreach effort, where the Saltwata Players play music and Gunn and Rouse provide updates to the process.

The July event will be held on the second Sunday, July 11, due to a scheduling conflict, Gunn said. And after the event, the signature outreach will begin.

Gunn said she’s assembling a team of community members and local religious leaders to canvass the neighborhood after the event. The group plans to leave postcards at the houses and businesses surrounding the square beforehand, so residents know they’re coming on July 11.

“If a neighbor answers the door, we’ll talk to them. If not, then we’ll leave the information,” Gunn said.

Gunn said she plans to tell the story of the work done so far, such as research into the former burial grounds for enslaved people and its proximity to Calhoun Square as well as the Center’s efforts to rename it.

“This square is sacred ground. And we want to rename and honor those that are entombed there,” Gunn said.

Additionally, the Center also needs an endorsement of the name change from one of four council members — either at-large Alderwomen Alicia Blakely or Kesha Gibson-Carter; the representative for the district where the square is located, District 2 Alderman Detric Leggett; or Mayor Van Johnson.

Gunn said she hopes to have the endorsement secured by July 11 so the letter can be signed at the Come Sunday event.

Once those two pieces of the process are complete — and the group submits a check for $150 to the city as a processing fee  — the name change proposal can go before city council for a vote.

Despite the finish line being so close, Gunn said there’s still work to do, and she has no plans to slow down.

“I have to push forward. It’s bigger than me or any of the folks who are in our coalition. It’s something that has to be done, for history’s sake,” Gunn said. “Our ancestors need to be honored, and in a graceful way, and right now, we are not able to rest until this is done. It’s something that is not negotiable, in terms of righteousness.”

Will Peebles is the enterprise reporter for the Savannah Morning News. He can be reached at and @willpeeblessmn on Twitter.

This article originally appeared in the Savannah Morning News: ‘I have to push forward:’ Effort to change Savannah’s Calhoun Square’s name nears finish line


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