"Go and see the play of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'" -- Nat Love
(Above: frontispiece from Life and
Adventures; Below: illustration
from Chapter XV.)
"Deadwood Dick" on Uncle Tom
Nat Love was born a slave in Tennessee in 1854. The focus of his autobiography is on his "unusually adventurous" life after emancipation, as a cowboy, an Indian fighter, a rodeo rider and finally a pullman porter. The full title of his book is:
The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick" -- BY HIMSELF -- A True History of Slavery Days, Life on the Great Cattle Ranges and on the Plains of the "Wild and Wooly" West, Based on Facts, and Personal Experiences of the Author (Los Angeles: Published by the Author, 1907).
The whole 162-page text is of especial interest to students of the American frontier. Only the first chapter is included here. It's the only chapter to treat his experiences as a slave, though it's typical of the whole narrative in its concern with telling a good yarn. It's included here for what Love says at the very end about the way the popular "Tom Shows" -- dramatizations of Stowe's novel -- re-presented slavery. By 1907 there were fewer "Uncle Tom's Cabin Companies" touring the country than in the 1880s and 1890s, but as a spectacle the novel was still widely performed. According to Love, such shows were true to his experience of slavery.