Austin Steward

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Austin Steward
Born 1793
Prince William County, Virginia
Died February 15, 1869(1869-02-15) (aged 75–76)
Cause of death typhoid fever
Resting place Canandaigua, New York
Known for Twenty-Two Years a Slave
Parent(s) Robert and Susan Steward

Austin Steward (1793 – February 15, 1869) was an African-American abolitionist and author. He was born a slave; his autobiography, Twenty-Two Years a Slave, was published in 1857.


Austin Steward was born in Prince William County, Virginia, to Robert and Susan Steward, and was seven years old when he became a house servant on the plantation of Capt. William Helm.[1] Steward taught himself to read in secrecy, for which he was severely beaten.[1] In 1814 he escaped[2] and ran away to Rochester, New York, where in 1817 he created a successful business,[3] opening his own meat market and acquiring considerable property.[1]

In 1831 he went to Canada, where he became president of the board of managers of Wilberforce Colony, a settlement founded by African Americans fleeing the Ohio Black Codes.[1] Steward eventually returned to Rochester in 1837.

His memoir Twenty-Two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman was published in 1857, detailing his early life of enslavement as well as his struggles at Wilberforce Colony.

He died of typhoid fever on February 15, 1869, and was buried in Canandaigua, New York.[1]


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