The Infortunate: The Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, an Indentured Servant

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9780271026763: The Infortunate: The Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, an Indentured Servant

First published by Penn State Press in 1992, The Infortunate has become a staple for teachers and students of American history. William Moraley’s firsthand account of bound servitude provides a rare glimpse of life among the lower classes in England and the American colonies during the eighteenth century. In the decade since its original publication, Susan Klepp and Billy Smith have unearthed new information on Moraley’s life, both before his ill-fated venture as an indentured servant from England to the “American Plantations” and after his return to England. This revised edition features this additional information while presenting the autobiography in a new way, offering more explicit emphasis for students and teachers in college, university, and high school about how to read and interpret Moraley’s autobiography.

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About the Author:

Susan E. Klepp is Professor of Colonial American History and American Women's History at Temple University. She contributed the essay on Colonial Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth, edited by Randall Miller and William Pencak (Penn State, 2002).

Billy G. Smith is Michael P. Malone Professor of History at Montana State University. He has edited two other Penn State Press books: Life in Early Philadelphia: Documents from the Revolutionary and Early National Periods (1995) and Down and Out in Early America (2004).

From Publishers Weekly:

This memoir, the editors argue in their insightful introductory essay, offers a contrast to the colonial-era writings of wealthy European visitors and rising successes like Benjamin Franklin. Moraley who indentured himself for money and came to the U.S. from England in 1729, spent nearly five years on the lower rungs in the American colonies. His brief, readable account, designed both to inform and entertain, is both an adventure and an ambiguous morality tale: his preface suggests a Calvinist call for individual responsibility, while elsewhere in the narrative he proclaims himself the ``Tennis-ball of Fortune.'' He is something of a scamp: while Franklin, upon arriving in Philadelphia, discovered the locals loved reading, Moraley praised the city's ``many Houses of Entertainment.'' He also describes here his childhood, his failed attempt to clerk for an attorney, his study of the watchmaking trade and his trip to the New World, where he was indentured to a clockmaker and performed diverse tasks. In America, he offers brief descriptions of geography, flora and fauna, and religious practices. As the editors note, Moraley's memoir helps fill some historical gaps; unlike him, most early travelers ignored the role of servants, slaves and Native Americans. Klepp wrote Philadelphia in Transition ; Smith edited Blacks Who Stole Themselves. Illustrated.

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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