The Odyssey of an African Slave

Sitiki, edited by Patricia C. Griffin

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Paper: $19.95
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Powerful, mesmerizing narrative of the life of an African-born slave

"St. Augustine during the nineteenth century has been described for us by many a resident and traveler, but never so pungently and colorfully as by Sitiki, renamed Uncle Jack, an African American who passed from slave in the first half of the century to freedman in the second."--Michael Gannon, author of Florida: A Short History

"Griffin presents Sitiki/Smith's narrative, his life and his times, with sensitivity, respect, and accuracy. A revealing autobiography of a remarkable man."--Jim Miller, former state archaeologist and chief of the Bureau of Archaeological Research

"As the only first-person slave narrative to emerge from Florida, this volume offers us a human perspective on the experience of enslavement and relocation and tells the story of a remarkable man."--Aaron Sheehan-Dean, author of Why Confederates Fought

Recently discovered as a hand-written document in the Buckingham Smith Collection at the New York Historical Society, this remarkable first-person narrative traces the life of Sitiki, whose name was changed to Jack Smith after his enslavement in America.

Captured and sold into slavery in Africa as a five-year-old, Sitiki traveled to America as a cabin boy. Eventually sold by the ship's captain to Josiah Smith of Savannah, Georgia, he lived there and in Connecticut with his new master. Captured by the British during the War of 1812, he was returned to the Smiths, to be freed only after the Civil War. He went on to become the first black Methodist minister in St. Augustine, Florida, where he established his own church.

Patricia Griffin does not leave the story at the conclusion of the slave narrative, but explores Sitiki's experiences and places them in clear and valuable context. She presents the narrative unencumbered, allowing Sitiki’s authority, compassion, and personality to speak for itself.

Sitiki, also known as Jack Smith, was born in Africa and died, a free man, in St. Augustine, Florida. He wrote his memoir between 1869 and 1871 with the assistance of historian Buckingham Smith, his former master. Patricia C. Griffin is an independent historical anthropologist.
Sample Chapter(s):
Table of Contents

Griffin intersperses Sitiki's account with commentary that places this extraordinary narrative into historical context, noting the scarcity of slave narratives--particularly slaves born in Africa.

A fine addition to slave narrative reading lists that include The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself.
--Library Journal

A choice slice of Florida history. This is not just a book to be admired, but a book to be studied.
--(Winter Haven, FL) News-Chief

Reassessing the literary value of Hemingway's neglected essays and short fiction within the writer's legacy, and the commercial appropriation of the writer as a tourist attraction, richly illustrated with photographs of the writer, his family, his friends and environment and referencing relevant historical documents, the book convincingly reaches both scholarly and lay audiences.
--Florida Historical Quarterly

This book is highly recommended for anyone who dares venture into the experiences of a young child captured and forced into the barbaric world of human bondage. . . . First-person slave-accounts are extremely rare, especially narratives from Florida, thus making Odyssey historically relevant as well.
--Tampa Bay History Volume 24

The publication of any new slave narrative is significant, and we owe Patricia C. Griffin, an independent historical anthropologist, a great debt for bringing Smith's story to light.-- "Should become another well-known name on our list of enslaved voices from the Americas."
--The Journal of Southern History, vol LXXVII No.1

Mirrors the fragmentary experience of enslavement in general, and demonstrates the ways in which writing history often requires as much detective work as archival research.
--Afro-Americans in New York Life and History vol. 35, no.1

One of the two best-known Florida slave memoirs in print.
--Florida Times-Union

Represents the only known narrative of a Florida slave. . . . This is an important account of a 19th-century life that flows from freedom to bondage and then back to freedom. It offers modern readers a rarely seen glimpse into a slave’s life during Florida’s transition from territory to statehood.
--Civil War News

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