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The Infortunate:  The Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, An Indentured Servant, 2nd edition, edited by Susan E. Klepp & Billy G. Smith.


1 The Infortunate: The Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, An Indentured Servant, 2nd edition
edited by Susan E. Klepp & Billy G. Smith.
208 pages, Pennsylvania State University Press
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.
William Moraley's autobiography, originally published in 1743, provides a rare view of life among the lower classes in England and the American middle colonies during the early eighteenth century. In 1729, Moraley ventured as an indentured servant from England to the "American Plantations," where he worked in various jobs, rambled about the countryside, and mingled with white and black bonds people, laborers, artisans, Indians, and other common folk. His account brims over with observations about the geography and climate, the flora and fauna, and the customs, politics, religions, superstitions, material conditions, and daily lives of the inhabitants of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. Of special interest are his comments about servants, slaves, and Native Americans--- groups frequently ignored by early travelers. Maraley's experiences were similar to those of many other eighteenth-century European immigrants who sold themselves into servitude, but he is among only a handful of people at the bottom of society who left memoirs of their lives.
Smart, sassy, and articulate, Moraley narrates a take of adventure designed primarily to entertain. At times a rogue, a drunkard, a liar, a vagabond, and a petty thief, he boasts that he could "rake with the best of them." But the autobiography has considerable historical value as well. It depicts the life of a down-and-out artisan whose fortunes, like so many other bound laborers, did not substantially improve. The reasons for the different career paths of such working people have been the subject of much scholarly debate, and these memoirs can more firmly ground that controversy in actual human experience.
The substantial introduction by Klepp and Smith reconstructs Moraley's life, relates the autobiography to the literary developments of the era, compares the careers of Moraley and Franklin, and discusses the author's social, political, and religious worlds. It also identifies and leaves open to differing interpretations a host of issues and paradoxes about eighteenth-century life raised by Moraley's account.

About 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).

Reviews
“Those of us who have too long savored the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin as being an account of a typical poor man’s rise to wealth and power in the new United States will welcome this account of the more usual fate of a common ordinary person in Colonial and Federal America. . . . Filled with half-truths and whole lies, it nevertheless is a valuable—almost priceless —document about life in the early U.S.” —Ray B. Browne, Journal of American Culture

“The adventures of William Moraley depict not the rags-to-riches tale, the model so often used to describe mobility in colonial America, but rather the saga of one who never earned a decent competency. . . . Klepp and Smith have provided readers with a valuable glimpse of how those on the margins struggled, however in vain, in the ‘best poor man’s country.’” —Sharon V. Salinger, Journal of American History
026766 
Price: 18.00 USD

     


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