The Montgomery Advertiser
Montgomery, Alabama

History of Slavery In State Is Nearly Completed At Bama

University, Ala, Feb. 17, 1948 -- An account of a Negro slave who could read Latin and Greek and had an understanding of theology and Biblical history is one of the interesting features of The History of Slavery in Alabama now nearly completed by Dr. James B. Sellers, history professor at the University of Alabama.

This slave, Harrison Ellis, was owned by J.T.. Creswell of Greene County, who sold the Negro and his family for $2,500 in the middle 1840's. The slave;s new owners sent him and his family to Liberia as missionaries.

Dr. Sellers related that Alabama's Negro slaves were more educated than was commonly believed in spite of the law of 1832 forbidding masters to teach them to read, write and cipher.

One Negro slave cited as having special ability was Sam, employed at the University of Alabama by F. A.. Bernard, professor of mathematics, chemistry and astronomy. Prof. Bernard used the slave as a laboratory helper.

The book points out that about 41 percent of the state's free Negroes -some 2,790 in 1860- lived in Mobile where the city maintained schools for them as provided in the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. None of the free Negroes in Mobile was reported illiterate in the census of 1860.

Dr. Sellers is one of some 4 or more university faculty members having legislative research grants administered by the University Research Committee.


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