Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson was born a slave in Charles County, Maryland. Throughout his life, he saw the way masters and overseers treated slaves and he studiedtheir reactions towards different types of behavior.

By watching the actions of the other slaves, Henson soon learned that if he was loyal and provided diligent service to his master, he would not get into very much trouble andhe might even become fairly successful. Henson followed his plan and became successful on the plantation where he lived. He was an outstanding worker, supervisor, and in 1828, he became a preacher. 

By learning about religion, Henson learned that his way of life, slavery, was bad. ( Henson was Methodist. Methodists did not promote slavery, in fact, they spoke out against it. Until members of other religions started harassing Methodists, African-American and White Methodists worshipped in churches together.) Henson ran away to Canada to escape slavery.

By and by, Harriet Beecher Stowe started interviewing slaves to get backround for the book she was writing. Fate brought her to Josiah Henson. Henson ended up being the main inspiration for the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The book was an instant hit in the North. Copies were sold all over the world. Henson went to England and made speeches and lectures of his life as “Uncle Tom,” the slave. He published his autobiography, “My life as Uncle Tom” three times. “Father” Josiah Henson preached, lectured and wrote until his death in 1883