“White Enough to Pass”: Uncovering the story of John Wesley Gibson

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2016-06-15 14:15Z by Steven

“White Enough to Pass”: Uncovering the story of John Wesley Gibson

underbelly: From the Deepest Corners of the Maryland Historical Society Library

Excerpt from William Still’s 1872 book, The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, & c., Narrating the Hardships Hair-breadth Escapes and Death Struggles of the Slaves in their Efforts for Freedom, as Related by Themselves and Others, or Witnessed by the Author; Together with Sketches of Some of the Largest Stockholders, and Most Liberal Aiders and Advisors, of the Road, E450 .S85, MdHS. (reference photo)

“John Wesley Gibson represented himself to be not only the slave, but also the son of William Y. Day, of Taylor’s Mount, Maryland…” This is the opening statement of a slave narrative that tells the story of a man who chose freedom in a place and time that allowed slavery — Maryland in the 1850s. The short narrative offers details of his appearance (looks like his father); job description (farm foreman); his age (28); how he escaped (passed as a white man) and how he detested bondage (severe restrictions). Little else is known of John Wesley Gibson other than one paragraph of information in a 780-page history of the Underground Railroad published in 1872. After Gibson escaped, where did he go? What was his life like at Taylor’s Mount? Is there a way to verify the information in the narrative? His mother Harriet and sister Frances were mentioned in the story. What happened to them? How do we find out more info? Or are they lost to history?…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,