The book “The History of Mary Prince” by Mary Prince and edited by Thomas Pringle is a unique text that puts history in record in will. Unlike other texts where authors write about someone, the text is based on Prince’s own idea that her experience could have been informative to other slaves. As noted by Pringle, the text purposed to make sure that the truths about slavery is spread across England. She notes “for few people in England to know what slavery is” (74). Part of the text’s title, for instance “a west Indian slave” affirms that the book is a narration of her life under slavery. She goes on to state that “I have been a slave…and I would have all the good people in England to know it too” (74). As much as it was meant to inform the public in England, what Prince actually hoped for was to marshal voices for liberation. As such, this paper seeks to not only know when and why this narrative was written and published but also the intended audience, as well as its importance in an historical context.
Prince has clearly articulated the issue of slavery using herown life as well as experiences. She writes that “when I was an infant, old Mr. Myners died, and there was a division of the slaves and other property among the family….I was bought along with my mother by Captain” (3). This statement informs the reader on the nature of slavery. Basically slaves were treated as property as prince said that she was sold alongside her mother. The worst part of it is that once you gave birth to a child, they would be enslaved as well. Slavery did not produce one of the best experiences to the slaves, who were generally blacks as indicated in the text. Prince’s master would address her as ‘little nigger’ which is the nickname given to the blacks. The fact that slavery was something that was not even supposed to happen due to its dehumanizing nature has been given account of in the author’s experiences. For instance, Prince was torn apart from her family members as they were sold to different slave holders and she took time wondering whether she would ever reunite with her mother and her siblings. The slave holders did not care about the feelings of the black slaves and they were expected to toil all day and night.
Therefore, it can be said that this text seeks to expose the evils that the black slaves endured in the hands of the British slave holders at a time when slavery was common among the Whites. Prince saw it fit to expose instances, such as when she recalls: “…our masters would order him to be stripped and laid down on the ground, and have him beaten with a rod of rough briar till his skin was quite red and raw” (10). These are some of the realities of slavery and many more, even worse than those depicted in the texts that the slaves were exposed to, that Prince sought to tell about. Since she had been a slave and subjected to the horrors of slavery, Prince felt that it was her responsibility to enlighten the many people who did not know about slavery in England (10). She hoped to touch the hearts of a few good people who would then relate to the dehumanizing conditions of slavery and free the blacks. As such, prince’s intended audience was the general public of England and humanitarian activists who would advocate for slavery to be banned.
The importance of this text in a historical context is that it largely relates to the 400 years that the blacks were treated as slaves. Most of the experiences described in the text are something that the blacks can relate to as it reminds them of how they were mistreated by the White slave masters. Nevertheless, the most important thing is that this text plays a significant role in educating people on how some acts, such as slavery is dehumanizing and from there, learn not to repeat the same mistakes again.
Overall, Prince wrote this text mainly to inform the people of England on the horrors that the blacks endured under the hands of the White slave masters. What is more, the text was meant for individuals who would push for laws that would abolish slavery after reading how slavery affected the blacks. The experiences in the text are from Prince herself as she was a victim of slavery and she felt that it was her responsibility to take action and speak the truth about slavery. The text was written in a period when slavery was a common practice that did not care about the welfare of the blacks and it serves to remind the Africans of the 400 years of slavery.
Prince, Mary. “The History of Mary Prince A West Indian Slave.”