Jumping the Broom, Virginia, early 1840s


Emily Clemens Pearson [pseudo. Pocahontas], Cousin Francks Household, or, Scenes in the Old Dominion (Boston, 1853), facing p. 169.


Captioned, The Marriage, this engraving illustrates a passage from an anti-slavery novel by a Congregationalist author. A native of Connecticut, Pearson had worked as a governess for about a year, 1841-1842, on a slave plantation, Mt. Airy, in Virginia. This experience very much informed her later abolitionist views. In the scene illustrated here, the white mistress is compelling her enslaved maid, Mina, to marry in a manner that Mina did not recognize as a proper wedding. The mistress exclaims that if Mina had been willing and obedient she would have made you a pretty wedding in the parlor, and would have called the clergyman in (pp. 169-170). For details on the author, see Catherine E. Saunders, Emily Clemens Pearson, 1818-1900, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, vol. 29 (2012). A major study of slavery at Mt. Airy was produced by Richard Dunn, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia (Harvard University Press, 2014).

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