For a short time Harriet and her brother worked in Rochester, . in the Anti-Slavery Office and Reading Room, where they became acquainted with Frederick Douglass, Amy Post and other abolitionists.
With Amy’s encouragement, Harriet began writing Incidents in 1853. When attempts to have the book published failed, she had it “printed for the author” in 1861. The British edition, The Deeper Wrong, was published the following year.
During most of the 1860s, Harriet performed relief work, first nursing black troops and teaching, and later, assisted by Louisa Matilda, aiding freedmen in Washington, ., Savannah, Ga., and Edenton. For a time, she ran a boarding house in Cambridge, Mass.
Later, Harriet and her daughter lived in Washington, ., where Louisa Matilda participated in organizing meetings of the National Association of Colored Women.
Harriet died in Washington on March 7, 1897, and was buried next to her brother in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge.
By bringing together other specific scenes from each text, students can follow, for a time, what Anne G. Jones calls in her article (sited below) “the forking path of gendered binary oppositions.” Do Douglass and Jacobs, in their lives and in the stylistic features of their writing, conform to our stereotypical expectations regarding how men and women respond, speak, and act? Jacobs is of necessity much more deeply concerned with her own family, with the community that surrounded her as a “town” slave, with the wellbeing of the children and grandmother who depended on her. Like most other women of her time, her life was more private, her sphere of action more limited to the home, her relationships with others more interdependent, less autonomous, than men’s. Douglass’s circumstances were as different as his gender; he had few family contacts, he lived on remote plantations as well as in a town, he was of a different “class” as well as gender from Jacobs. So which of the two slaves’ opportunities were related to gender, and which to time, place, class, or other forces?