Peter Fossett

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Mr. Fossett, of Cincinnati, Recalls the Days When Men Came from the Ends of the Earth to Consult 'the Sage of Monticello' - Reminiscences of Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison and Monroe,” ''New York World,'' January 30, 1898, Sunday edition.</ref> Peter Fossett recalled the contrast between Monticello and the plantation of his new master, Col. John Jones, where he was threatened with a whipping if ever found with a book in his hand. Fossett nevertheless continued to learn to read and write and passed his knowledge on to his fellow slaves by stealth. Mr. Fossett, of Cincinnati, Recalls the Days When Men Came from the Ends of the Earth to Consult 'the Sage of Monticello' - Reminiscences of Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison and Monroe,” ''New York World,'' January 30, 1898, Sunday edition.</ref> Peter Fossett recalled the contrast between Monticello and the plantation of his new master, Col. John Jones, where he was threatened with a whipping if ever found with a book in his hand. Fossett nevertheless continued to learn to read and write and passed his knowledge on to his fellow slaves by stealth.
In 1850, after two attempts to run away, Fossett was placed again on the auction block. Through the combined efforts of his father, family members, and friends of Jefferson, his freedom was purchased and he joined his family in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became one of the city's most prominent caterers, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and pastor of First Baptist Church, Cumminsville, where he served for 32 years. In 1850, after two attempts to run away, Fossett was placed again on the auction block. Through the combined efforts of his father, family members, and friends of Jefferson, his freedom was purchased and he joined his family in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became one of the city's most prominent caterers, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and pastor of First Baptist Church, Cumminsville, where he served for 32 years.
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-Near the end of his life, there were a series of articles containing the reminiscences of Peter Fossett published in various newspapers, including the ''New York World'' article referenced above. They are as follows: 
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-*"ONCE A SLAVE OF JEFFERSON - PETER F. FOSSETT TELLS ABOUT HIS LIFE IN 'OLD VIRGINNY.' His Home in Cincinnati - He Recalls the Days When Men Came From the Ends of the Earth to Consult the 'Sage of Monticello' - Reminiscences of Jefferson, Lafayette and Madison." ''Charlottesville Daily Progress'', 5 February 1898, Front Page and page 4. (This is a reprint of the ''New York World'' article.) 
-*"WAS JEFFERSON'S SLAVE - Something More About Peter Fossett of Cincinnati." ''Charlottesville Daily Progress'', 25 May 1900. 
-*"WAS JEFFERSON'S SLAVE - Rev. P. F. Fossett Visits the Scenes of His Youth." ''Charlottesville Daily Progress'', 13 June 1900, Front Page. 
-*"PETER FOSSETT, the Venerable Ex-Slave, Well Known Among the Best Families of Cincinnati, Talks of Olden Times." Unidentified Cincinnati newspaper, undated clipping in clippings scrapbook, Cincinnati Public Library, pp. 97-98. 
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==Footnotes== ==Footnotes==
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==Further Sources== ==Further Sources==
-*Stanton, [[Short Title List| Free Some Day.]] Available for purchase at [http://monticellostore.stores.yahoo.net/011011.html Monticello Gift Shop]+*"PETER FOSSETT, the Venerable Ex-Slave, Well Known Among the Best Families of Cincinnati, Talks of Olden Times." Unidentified Cincinnati newspaper, undated clipping (probably circa July 1900) in clippings scrapbook, Cincinnati Public Library, pp. 97-98.
 +*Stanton, [[Short Title List|''Free Some Day'']]. Available for purchase at [http://monticellostore.stores.yahoo.net/011011.html Monticello Gift Shop]
*Thomas Jefferson Foundation. ''Getting Word.'' http://www.monticello.org/gettingword/ *Thomas Jefferson Foundation. ''Getting Word.'' http://www.monticello.org/gettingword/
*Thomas Jefferson Foundation. ''Ties that Bind.'' http://www.monticello.org/gettingword/GWties4.html *Thomas Jefferson Foundation. ''Ties that Bind.'' http://www.monticello.org/gettingword/GWties4.html
*Thomas Jefferson Foundation. ''Plantation Database.'' http://plantationdb.monticello.org/nMonticello.html *Thomas Jefferson Foundation. ''Plantation Database.'' http://plantationdb.monticello.org/nMonticello.html
 +*"WAS JEFFERSON'S SLAVE - Something More About Peter Fossett of Cincinnati." ''Charlottesville Daily Progress'', 25 May 1900. A third-party account of Fossett.
 +*"WAS JEFFERSON'S SLAVE - Rev. P. F. Fossett Visits the Scenes of His Youth." ''Charlottesville Daily Progress'', 13 June 1900, Front Page. A third-party account of Fossett.
[[Category:People|Fossett, Peter]] [[Category:People|Fossett, Peter]]
[[Category:Slavery]] [[Category:Slavery]]

Revision as of 16:40, 9 November 2007

Peter Farley Fossett (1815-1901) was the son of Joseph Fossett and Edith (Edy) Hern. Joseph Fossett (1780-1858) was a member of the Hemings family that came to Monticello through Thomas Jefferson's marriage to Martha Wayles Skelton. His mother was Mary Hemings, the eldest daughter of Elizabeth "Betty" Hemings. Joseph Fossett was foreman of the Monticello blacksmith shop and one of only five enslaved men freed by Jefferson in his will. Edith Fossett (1787-1854) trained in Washington, D.C., under a French chef and served as chief cook at Monticello during the period of Jefferson's retirement. It was of her cooking that Daniel Webster spoke when he described the meals at Monticello as "in half Virginian, half French style, in good taste and abundance."

Along with his mother and seven siblings, Peter Fossett was sold in the January 1827 auction following Jefferson's death. Joseph Fossett was later able to purchase the freedom of his wife and some of his eight children and move with them to Ohio in about 1840. But Peter Fossett's new owner refused to sell him to his father.

In his reminiscences, published in 1898,[1] Peter Fossett recalled the contrast between Monticello and the plantation of his new master, Col. John Jones, where he was threatened with a whipping if ever found with a book in his hand. Fossett nevertheless continued to learn to read and write and passed his knowledge on to his fellow slaves by stealth. In 1850, after two attempts to run away, Fossett was placed again on the auction block. Through the combined efforts of his father, family members, and friends of Jefferson, his freedom was purchased and he joined his family in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became one of the city's most prominent caterers, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and pastor of First Baptist Church, Cumminsville, where he served for 32 years.

Footnotes

  1. “ONCE THE SLAVE OF THOMAS JEFFERSON - The Rev. Mr. Fossett, of Cincinnati, Recalls the Days When Men Came from the Ends of the Earth to Consult 'the Sage of Monticello' - Reminiscences of Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison and Monroe,” New York World, January 30, 1898, Sunday edition.

Further Sources

  • "PETER FOSSETT, the Venerable Ex-Slave, Well Known Among the Best Families of Cincinnati, Talks of Olden Times." Unidentified Cincinnati newspaper, undated clipping (probably circa July 1900) in clippings scrapbook, Cincinnati Public Library, pp. 97-98.
  • Stanton, Free Some Day. Available for purchase at Monticello Gift Shop
  • Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Getting Word. http://www.monticello.org/gettingword/
  • Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Ties that Bind. http://www.monticello.org/gettingword/GWties4.html
  • Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Plantation Database. http://plantationdb.monticello.org/nMonticello.html
  • "WAS JEFFERSON'S SLAVE - Something More About Peter Fossett of Cincinnati." Charlottesville Daily Progress, 25 May 1900. A third-party account of Fossett.
  • "WAS JEFFERSON'S SLAVE - Rev. P. F. Fossett Visits the Scenes of His Youth." Charlottesville Daily Progress, 13 June 1900, Front Page. A third-party account of Fossett.