John Andrew Jackson

Born enslaved on a Sumter County plantation in South Carolina, circa 1825, John Andrew Jackson escaped to the safety of Salem, Massachusetts in 1847. He lived there until 1850, when the Fugitive Slave Law put him in danger of being returned to slavery.  Jackson then decided to move further north, to Canada. Along the way, Jackson found refuge in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s home in Brunswick, Maine. Jackson recounted his encounter with Stowe in his 1862 memoir:

“During my flight from Salem to Canada, I met with a very sincere friend and helper, who gave a refuge during the night, and set me on my way. Her name was Mrs. Beecher Stowe. She took me in and fed me, and gave me some clothes and five dollars. She also inspected my back, which is covered with scars which I shall carry with me to the grave. She listened with great interest to my story, and sympathized with me when I told her how long I had been parted from my wife Louisa and my daughter Jenny, and perhaps, for ever.”

Jackson’s account aligns with Stowe’s description of hosting a fugitive slave in a letter she wrote from Brunswick to her sister. In 1856, Jackson sailed to England, where he embarked upon a career as an anti-slavery lecturer. He returned to the United States after the Civil War, continuing to lecture and raise funds in support of the now free black communities until his death, circa 1900.

For more information about Jackson, see Susanna Ashton, "A Genuine Article," Common-Place 13.4 (Summer 2013) available online.