READER, be assured this narrative is no fiction. I am aware that some of my adventures may seem incredible; but they are, nevertheless, strictly true. I have not exaggerated the wrongs inflicted by Slavery; on the contrary, my descriptions fall far short of the facts.

Jacobs opens her autobiography with these boldly stated instructions to her mostly white readers. This passage seeks to preempt a common criticism aimed at slave narratives by proslavery forces: that they were fabricated or inaccurate. Jacobs knows that many white northerners will be unwilling to accept her story, so she must assert her authority over her narrative from the start. She literally orders her readers to “be assured,” establishing an active, confident narrative voice. Also, Jacobs is about to make her sexual transgressions public, and she cannot trust genteel readers to be sympathetic. Therefore, she lets her audience know that whatever their interpretation of her story, she will remain firmly in control of it. Even as she asserts power over her readers, Jacobs also creates a feeling of intimacy with them by addressing them directly. This is an important strategy, given the sexually frank and politically controversial nature of her text. By making her narrator seem like a real person with whom readers can identify, she makes them less likely to automatically reject her story as unbelievable or immoral.