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NARRATIVE OF JAMES WILLIAMS.

The Liberator September 28, 1838


We wish all our readers, friendly or otherwise, to understand that the case between James Williams and the slaveholders, respecting the authenticity of the 'Narrative,' is still pending between these parties. The Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society, never vouched for the truth of James Williams, but said, what is admitted by all who have read it, that the story bore on its face strong marks of truth, that the facts therein stated respecting slavery are proved, by the introductory essay, to be probable in themselves, that it seemed incredible to suppose an unlettered slave could make such a story out of his own head, (and we know that this is his story,) and finally, that the personal deportment of the narrator greatly strengthened the confidence of those who saw him, that he was telling the truth. His uniform consistency in telling the same story through innumerable questionings also confirmed the impression. The slaveholders now say that the story is false, and on this they make the issue.

The evidence adduced by the slaveholders was given in full in the Emancipator of August 30, and our special committee, after subjecting it to a rigid examination, deemed it too loose to condemn the narrative as false. Under those circumstances, would it have been right for the Executive Committee, at once to take sides against James Williams, by declaring that they would no longer sell the book? Plainly, the only fair ground was, to publish the testimony presented by the slaveholders, to point out to them the defective points that they may, if they can, supply the deficiency; to pursue our inquiries with diligence and impartiality, and in the mean time to let James Williams have the benefit of his adversaries' weakness. And men of candid minds and sound judgment will see the propriety of suspending their opinions until they have heard the evidence on both sides.

Letters have been addressed to gentlemen in Virginia; other measures are in progress to elicit facts, and evidence has been collected from residents of that State who are now, or have been recently, in the State and city of New York. The evidence already obtained, though not decisive of the case, is confirmatory of the truth of the Narrative. It will be presented when completed, and when the safety of the witnesses will justify its publication. It will suffice now, to state, that a gentleman and lady, from Virginia, who were recently in this city, declared, after reading the Narrative, that they believed it to be substantially true; that they knew the parties mentioned generally; that the lady knew the wife of George Larrimore, Jr., (supposed to be Lorimer) and declared that such was the accuracy of the delineation of her character, that she would have recognized it without her name being mentioned. A gentleman of high respectability in this State, has a letter from a friend in Virginia, to whom he wrote inquiring as to the truth of the Narrative, stating that he has no doubt of its truth, and is acquainted, either personally or by reputation, with all the persons mentioned in it, as living in that quarter, except Larrimore. A lady of Virginia, now in this city, who is extensively acquainted in her own State, has declared that she knew all the persons named in the Narrative as living in Virginia, except Larrimore, and she knew him by reputation; that she knew, the estate on which James lived, and had no doubt of the truth, generally, of the Narrative.

In view of the case as it now stands, abolitionists will not be panic-struck or greatly affected by the wit, or ridicule or dogmatism of proslavery men, as the friends and apologists of slavery seem to suppose, nor think, that at the very moment the investigation is going on, the whole matter ought to be abandoned, the Narrative repudiated, and the sale of it stopped. NO. After all the fraud and trickery of the slaveholders and their abettors, to cover up their shameful deeds, the friends of the slave know full well the injustice of setting down as undeniably true all that the oppressor says in his own favor and as undeniably false, or doubtful, all that the victim relates concerning his own sufferings.

The disadvantages under which we labor in obtaining the testimony of those who we know are able to reveal important facts, cannot be realized by those who have not tried it. There is one point to which we ask the attention of our friends in Virginia:

The portrait in the book is a very correct and striking likeness of the man who told the story, and can undoubtedly be identified by many in Virginia. Let them tell us who that man is, and who was his master, and where he lived, and when he was sent to the South. Mr. G. F. T. Larimer can tell very well, whether this is the individual he calls 'Shadrach.' A young colored apprentice was bought free in Jamaica, by Joseph Sturge, and his narrative which was published in England, was denied as positively by the slaveholders as our book has been; but the British government sent out orders to have the matter examined by commissioners on the spot, who reported that it was a great deal worse than James had related. Let us have a commission, including one abolitionist, with a guaranty of security to the witnesses, or else let those who have the power, furnish satisfactory testimony instead of wary evasions and denials.—Ib.

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