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(title page) Lunsford Lane; or, Another Helper from North Carolina.
(spine) Lunsford Lane
The Rev. William G. Hawkins, A. M., Author of "The Life of Hawkins."
305 p.,1 ill.
Crosby & Nichols
Call number C326.92 L26h.1 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
AUTHOR OF "THE LIFE OF HAWKINS."
T. W. WELLINGTON, ESQ.,
Of whose unobtrusive benevolence and genuine sympathy of heart,
The disabled Soldier in the Hospital and the wronged fugitive Slave
Have received many Substantial Tokens,
is respectfully inscribed.
THE volume herewith given to the public has been prepared in moments snatched from professional duties. It is hoped that it will not be without some interest to the general reader.
The writer is himself a Southerner by birth, but now and for some time resident in the North. He has at different times resided in Virginia and Maryland, and has a personal knowledge of some of the incidents to which reference is made in the volume. His acquaintance with Lunsford Lane is quite recent; but, on hearing his story, he was able to verify the statements made by him. He has now performed the promise made, that, at some time, he would prepare the present volume for the press, hoping its circulation might be of service to the cause of the oppressed, and, at the same time, be of some benefit to a worthy family who were unwilling exiles from home. The book contains the particulars of a life replete with incident, not of what slavery is under its
most revolting features, but of what it is to be a slave, with a sensitive nature, under the most favorable circumstances. The years of servitude were passed at Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. He was himself thirty-two years a slave and spent eighteen years of his life in the purchase of himself and family, consisting of a wife and seven children. He acted acceptably for three years, as messenger and waiter under Governors Dudley and Morehead, and thus made the acquaintance of many members of the Legislature. He is finally compelled to flee with his family from the State, and reside in a climate unsuited to their health. The sketches of Southern life will be recognized as true by those who have resided in the Southern States. The incidents of kidnapping now belong to the documentary history of the country. Several chapters are devoted to the changed position into which the colored population are brought by the civil war. One or two chapters give some incidents in the organization and equipment of the Fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, and their eventful history at the seat of war. It is hoped this account, compiled mostly from the press, will be acceptable to the friends of the colored soldier. What the contrabands are doing and what they can do, as soldiers and
as citizens, are questions which have received some attention.
The subject of the prejudice against the colored race is briefly dwelt upon, but not to the extent demanded. The poor white man at the South, as well as a large portion of the people at the North, have much to unlearn upon this subject. It is hoped that this volume, from the plain style in which the narrative is given, may reach many of our colored fellow-citizens; and that the example of industry and of patient endurance of trials, and the integrity of character unfolded in the life of Lunsford Lane, may inspire them to the imitation of virtues, without which they can never secure the respect and sympathy of the good. And may all Christians see, in the revolution that is now proceeding in this land,--in the wide door thrown open for the moral elevation and civilization of nearly four millions of the human family,--the very grave responsibilities resting upon them. The dreaded cry of "Abolitionism" will not hereafter be of much power in causing us to withdraw our sympathies and of illustrating in our own land and before an unbelieving world the blessedness of the religion of Jesus. If these toiling and degraded millions can be "comforted," then "blessed are they that mourn." If we can secure them life and its
blessings, and a portion of our extended territory which upon which to labor, then "blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." And then, in due time the "peacemakers" shall come, bearing the richest blessings in their hands; while it will be found that they who are "merciful" "shall obtain mercy."
With politicians we have no controversy; we have spoken of the subject simply as a part--a transcript--of our social history, the wrongs of which all good people should be ashamed.
If this unpretending volume shall be of any use in spreading more light upon a subject daily growing in importance, the writer will feel amply compensated for his labor. To that sweetest of all our poets, J. G. Whittier, whose notes of freedom are now sounding from the lips of the newly-emancipated "on St. Helena's Isle," the writer is indebted for many gems sparkling through the tamest chapters of the volume. To L. Maria Child and others the writer has already acknowledged his obligations in the pages following.
W. G. H.WORCESTER, September 29, 1863.
with the colored Baptist Church in Joy Street, Boston--Interesting documents . . . . . 194
"Our fellow countrymen in chains!
Slaves in a land of light and law!
Slaves crouching on the very plain
Where rolled the storm of Freedom's war! . . . . . . .
Oh! rouse ye, ere the storm comes forth--
The gathered wrath of God and man--
that which wasted Egypt's earth
When hail and fire above it ran.
Hear ye no warnings in the air?
Feel ye no earthquake underneath?
Up! Up! why will ye slumber where
The sleeper only wakes in death?"
HIS BIRTH, AND THE EARLY STRUGGLES OF CHILDHOOD.
UPON a pleasant afternoon in October, a slave, completing the day's labor some hours sooner than usual, his bosom swelling with emotions peculiar to a man about enjoying his first moment of freedom, when, from being a chattel, he is about to experience the liberty wherewith God and Nature hath made him free! The mansion to which he is heading his weary steps is that of his "mistress," the widow Haywood, pleasantly situated in the town of Raleigh, N. C. She is entertaining a pleasant company upon the veranda, which extended along three sides of the mansion. The slave approaches cautiously, and seating himself upon
one of the steps leading to the veranda, awaits a pause in the happy conversation to introduce his business. Mrs. Haywood was a woman of a churlish temperament and an avaricious spirit. The slave-man at her feet, her superior in mental and in moral endowments, is about to pay her the last instalment of fifty dollars, the wages that his master, before his death, had agreed to take as compensation for his services. "Mistress," said the slave, in language entirely free from that almost unintelligible jargon of the more ignorant of his race, "I have come to settle the little account which, though of no consequence to you, has been the object of many years of labor and anxiety." Then, taking from his vest-pocket a roll of notes, he handed them to his mistress, who as yet sat with her back toward him, but deigned to listen for a moment to his story. With a movement almost of hauteur, she reached backward, and taking the money, she hastily conveyed it to her purse. "Mother," said the daughter who sat near her, in a voice that was caught by the quick ear of the slave, "you promised the children that you would not exact that last payment from Lunsford. You know his faithfulness has been unsurpassed by any slave that you or pa have ever owned. I don't think you did right to take it from him." "That, child, is a matter in regard to which I need no dictation from you; you had better give your attention to our friends here." Freed now by the labor of his own hands, an effort of many years, performed during hours of the day and night, when service to his master was not exacted--(in this long period of toil his master died, but being a humane man,
left a wish that his widow should adhere to the promise made the slave)--now emancipated from an illegal bondage, Lunsford hastens with joyful steps to the humble cottage where his wife and little ones dwell, but alas! his cup of enjoyment is mingled with sorrow still; for his wife and children are all slaves, and may be separated in a moment when he dreams not of it. "Martha," said he as he entered, "I am now a freeman, or as free as a man can be in this land where laws in respect to slaves are so uncertain and partial. I cannot describe to you these queer and joyous feelings; none but one who has been a slave can experience such sensations. It seems as though I was in heaven. I shall sleep none this night; big thoughts are crowding themselves upon my soul, and I cannot sleep. How strange, too, these images that possess my mind!--like so many rivers of light; deep and rich are their waves as they roll by me. I am borne up as if on eagles' wings. These tears, too, are as rich as the emotions that call them forth. These are more to me than sleep, ay, more than soft slumber after months of faithful watching by the bedside of a dying friend. None but him who has passed from spiritual death to life, and has received witness within his soul of God's forgiveness, can possibly have such feeling as mine. It is like the rays of the rising sun just lighting upon the distant mountain-top that open the glories of the expanding heavens. This breaking the bonds of the slave gives to him at once the freedom of the earth and the skies."
Lunsford Lane, upon whose strange history in his struggles for freedom we are now entering, was a man of
no ordinary gifts and endowments. God had stamped upon his face not only the imprint of honesty, but great natural intelligence, with a soul big enough to comprehend the great boon of liberty, and the zeal and wisdom to obtain it. His name, like that of most slaves, has a curious origin, derived from his master or from some trivial circumstance, or from the whim of the owner. The territory upon which the town of Raleigh stands--but now a city and the capital of North Carolina--was once owned by Joel Lane, who settled early in the State, and brought with him a number of slaves; among these was the father of Lunsford and his wife and his sister, who derived their name from that of the master. Later in the history of the settlement, John Haywood, with several brothers from near Tarboro, Edgecomb County, removed thither and became interested in the increasing prosperity of the capital. At Lane's death, his estate is left in the hands of Mr. Haywood for settlement, and at the auction at which the goods and chattels are disposed of, he purchases the father and family of Lunsford, who is their only child. Mr. Haywood was for more than forty years the State Treasurer, and of course cultivated only the best society in the State. His house was frequented by men of taste and cultivation; the slave Lane and his son, who were both selected for house-servants and waiters, had thus rare opportunities for acquiring information; and such was their intelligence and smartness that each new-comer at the mansion had only words of praise to speak of their fitness for the position they each so well filled. Among these guests was a Mr. Lunsford Long,
entertaining a high opinion for the slave-man and his accommodating child, so much so that he became their friend and benefactor. The father, desiring to retain remembrance of so kind a man, named the boy Lunsford.
Sherwood Haywood, the owner of this slave family, was a man of considerable respectability and wealth; he was the owner of three plantations in different parts of the State. To reach them he had to travel sometimes seventy-five miles from Raleigh. Two of them were near, and one the distance only of three miles from his city residence. The lot of the child Lunsford was not that of a field-hand, or his condition would have proved most unhappy. His master owned in all about two hundred and fifty slaves; but the child was destined to know but little of the miseries of the plantation, and the hopeless demoralization of unrequited toil.
The apartment where he first saw the light, and where he spent his youth, was a room in the "kitchen," placed, as is the custom in the South, not far distant from the great house. Here the servants lodged and lived, and here the meals and "common doin's" were prepared for the aristocrats and lords of the mansion.
The occasional visits made by the slave to the plantation were sufficient to inspire a laudable ambition to retain the comfortable quarters at the mansion, rather than share their toil and their degradation. As the object of this narrative is to show what slavery is, even under its best features, there will be no horrid scenes of slave-whippings and tortures and death to recount.
TO BE A SLAVE, with a sensitive nature, is sufficient to show that the system possesses no feature to shield it from the scorn and the just execration of mankind. Lunsford passed his childhood as pleasantly as most children who are owned by wealthy and kind masters; his early recollections when a boy are those of playing with the other boys and girls, white and colored, in the ample yard and grounds of the mansion, and occasionally performing such little tasks as one of so tender years could accomplish. In the play and glee of childhood no difference was observed between the master's own children and the boy-slave. If the master passed from his house to his business, he made no difference with the children on the lawn; he seemed to show an equal kindness to all; the cake or the sweetmeat was given with no appearance of favor for his own children,--so it seemed to the slave. As he increased in age, and the life of toil began, the keen wedge of slavery entered, to separate by a continually-increasing distance the tender endearments of childhood. He was a slave, and they were his young masters. The labor required by his master from ten to fifteen was not severe--wood-cutting in the yard in winter, and working in the garden in the summer. At fifteen, the care of his master's pleasure-horses was allotted to him, and at length the honorable position of carriage-driver; this with other light toil occupied the days of summer. As he grew older, he soon discovered the difference between himself and his young masters; his natural intelligence quite equalled, if it did not surpass theirs. He was required to obey them; and to be compelled as
their slave to gratify the whims of boys of his own age,
was galling in the extreme. "I found, too," said he
to the writer of this narrative, "that they had learned to
read, whilst in me it was an offence almost unpardonable
to be seen with a book in my hand. There was another
sorrow, or rather dread, that took full possession
of my soul. I had witnessed on my master's plantations
the frequent selling of slaves, to be conveyed to the
far South; and the pain of being separated from those
who were dear to me rendered me continually unhappy.
I knew, too, that others, situated similar to
myself, for no crime, had been sold; and the fact, too,
that I was considered so faithful a slave, might tempt
the many Southern guests at my master's mansion to
offer a large price for me. He had now the reputation
of being wealthy; but should death suddenly, call him
away, I had nothing to hope from his selfish wife. My
friends were not numerous; but this made them all the
more dear; and the thought of being torn from them haunted me
in my hours of sleep. I had conversed with many slaves who
had escaped from the rice and cotton plantations of Georgia
and Alabama; and the story of their wrongs and exposures added
nothing to my happiness.* * Whilst Lunsford was entirely unacquainted with the almost
inhuman laws that prevailed in the more southern States, he had daily evidences in the victims who escaped that it was a land of cruel scourgings and of early deaths. It is a law of South Carolina, that "In case any person shall
wilfully but out the tongue, put out the eyes cruelly, scald,
burn, or deprive any slave of any limb, or member, or shall
inflict any other cruel punishment, otherwise than by
whipping, or beating with a horsewhip, cowskin, switch, or
small stick, or by putting on irons, or confining, or imprisoning
such slave, every such person, for every such offence, shall
forfeit one hundred ponds current money."And even by the laws of the State in which he lived, as shown in a Manual written by Mr. Haywood, his own master's relative, it is stated, that "Anyperson may LAWFULLY kill a slave who has been OUTLAWED for running away, lurking in swamps, &c." He had frequently heard advertisements read by the white men who lounged about the stores in Raleigh, especially when slaves were present,
and for their benefit,--such statements as these, taken from the Newbern and Wilmington (N. C.) papers:-- "$200 REWARD! Run away from the subscriber, about three years ago, a negro man named Ben. Also, another negro by the name of Rigdon, who ran away on the 8th of this month. I will give $100 reward for each of the above negroes, to be delivered to me, or confined in the jail of Lenoir Co., or for the killing of them, so that I can see them. W. D. COBB."--Newbern Spectator. "$100 will be paid to any person who may apprehend a negro man named Alfred. The same reward will be paid for satisfactory evidence of his having been killed. He has one or more scars on one of his hands, caused by his having been shot."--Wilmington.
(N. C.) Advertiser. It may seem strange that the Southern people would be so unwise as to read
such notices to their slaves, and yet we have abundant proof from living witnesses of escaped slaves, that such is the fact.
There was, also, the daily
* Whilst Lunsford was entirely unacquainted with the almost inhuman laws that prevailed in the more southern States, he had daily evidences in the victims who escaped that it was a land of cruel scourgings and of early deaths.
It is a law of South Carolina, that "In case any person shall wilfully but out the tongue, put out the eyes cruelly, scald, burn, or deprive any slave of any limb, or member, or shall inflict any other cruel punishment, otherwise than by whipping, or beating with a horsewhip, cowskin, switch, or small stick, or by putting on irons, or confining, or imprisoning such slave, every such person, for every such offence, shall forfeit one hundred ponds current money."And even by the laws of the State in which he lived, as shown in a Manual written by Mr. Haywood, his own master's relative, it is stated, that "Anyperson may LAWFULLY kill a slave who has been OUTLAWED for running away, lurking in swamps, &c." He had frequently heard advertisements read by the white men who lounged about the stores in Raleigh, especially when slaves were present, and for their benefit,--such statements as these, taken from the Newbern and Wilmington (N. C.) papers:--
"$200 REWARD! Run away from the subscriber, about three years ago, a negro man named Ben. Also, another negro by the name of Rigdon, who ran away on the 8th of this month. I will give $100 reward for each of the above negroes, to be delivered to me, or confined in the jail of Lenoir Co., or for the killing of them, so that I can see them. W. D. COBB."--Newbern Spectator.
"$100 will be paid to any person who may apprehend a negro man named Alfred. The same reward will be paid for satisfactory evidence of his having been killed. He has one or more scars on one of his hands, caused by his having been shot."--Wilmington. (N. C.) Advertiser.
It may seem strange that the Southern people would be so unwise as to read such notices to their slaves, and yet we have abundant proof from living witnesses of escaped slaves, that such is the fact.
consciousness that I was not free to consult my own will; but always while I lived I was to be under the control of another; this was another bitter added to my cup of sorrow. Indeed, every circumstance that surrounded me made me FEEL what I before only dimly saw,--that I was a slave. The thought burned itself into my very soul, and preyed upon my heart like a never-dying worm. And yet, while I saw no prospect that my state would ever be changed, I strove to keep self-possessed, and employed my mind day and night planning how I might be FREE. I had no complaints to make of a master's cruelty. I believe I was highly prized by the family as their slave. I had good clothing and food. I was even made a companion by the younger members; and if they desired any information in regard to the private affairs of their wealthy neighbors, I found them always eager for the gossip. On
this subject, Southern house-servants have a fabulous amount of knowledge. The two senses of seeing and hearing in the slave are made doubly acute by the very prohibition of knowledge. One day, whilst cogitating in mind how I might obtain my freedom, my father gave me a small basket of peaches, and stealing away from the 'kitchen' I soon disposed of them for thirty cents, which was the first money I ever possessed as my own in my life. Playing one day with the boys in the street, I won some marbles, and these I afterward sold for sixty cents. Shortly afterward, one of my master's guests from Fayetteville (Mr. Hogg) was so pleased with my attentions as house-servant, that he gave me on leaving one dollar.
"To this, from a similar source, was added another; and my master's son, for some favor done him, gave me fifty cents.
"These sums, though small, appeared large in my estimation; and hope again revived in my bosom that at some future time, by perseverance and economy, I might purchase my freedom. Henceforth I longed for money, and plans for money-making took principal possession of my thoughts. Often at night after my duties at my master's house were performed, I would steal away with my axe upon my shoulder, and get a load of wood to cut for twenty-five cents, and on the next morning would receive a reprimand, and at times barely escape a whipping for the offence. By these continued efforts I at last accumulated twenty dollars."
He now began, as we learn from his statements, to think seriously of buying himself; and cheered by this
hope, he went on from one thing to another, laboring often at "dead of night," after the long and weary day's task for his master was completed. By this means he accumulated one hundred dollars.
This sum he kept hid sometimes in one place and sometimes in another. He dared not lend it or place it on interest, for fear of exciting suspicion or losing it.
"Come hither, ye, that press your beds of down
And sleep not; see him sweating o'er his bread
Before he eats it. 'Tis the primal curse,
But softened into mercy; made the pledge
Of cheerful days and nights without a groan."
HIS EFFORTS FOR SECURING FREEDOM.
ENCOURAGED by past success, he now economizes every moment of his time, rising long before day and retiring late at night, that he may add something to the concealed sum, consecrated to the purchase of his personal freedom. As yet he dared not speak out, even to his intimate friends, the great thought that burned within him. As steward and waiter in his master's house, he is attentive to all his wishes, and careful in the expenditure of funds placed in his keeping. He was thus intrusted with the purchase of almost every article needed for their daily food.
He would meet the poor farmers long before sunrise, at their places in the market, and make his purchases; he would even gratify the vanity of the family, (the Haywoods,) by a little display in the manner of his trades; these were generous; and such as to convey the idea to by-standers that he was acting for the aristocracy of the town. If chickens were wanted, he ordered them by the dozen. These were carefully placed in coops until consumed. Sometimes he purchased on his own
account when salable articles were offered at low prices; these he stored in cellars of merchants of his acquaintance, and furnished to the families of the town as they were needed. In this way he increased the sum which he know would be demanded for his freedom. But his efforts ceased not here. Fortunately for him his duties at his master's mansion were not severe; besides, they admitted of his attendance upon other things during several hours of the day, when his services were not needed. These moments he spent industriously at the various stores in town in arranging their goods upon the sidewalk, and in certain labors that could be performed in the morning or evening without consuming much time. Being famous as a waiter, he was often called upon to attend evening parties, and for his valuable services on such occasions he was liberally compensated. At the season of the year when the Legislature was in session was his greatest harvest. Members having their private rooms at hotels or boarding-houses, were generally waited upon by servants of the wealthy in town who knew how to attend to their wants. Lunsford soon found himself a great favorite; and he know well how to make the best use of his time and talents. The members, though not early risers (except when the fox or the deer hunt was on hand), required his services early in the morning. Their boots were to be polished, their clothes brushed, and the early morning bitters mixed and brought to their bedsides. Mr. Lane declares that intemperance among the members at this period was fearful to contemplate. Few ever retired at night, among the younger
members, who were not in some degree intoxicated, and often needing the attentions of these faithful slaves to see them safe in bed. Before leaving Raleigh, however, he had the satisfaction of witnessing the beneficial effects of the great Temperance Reformation of 1840, which swept over the North and the South.
Mr. Lane also furnished the members of the Legislature with their smoking-tobacco, and bad as the habit confessedly is, he succeeded in obtaining considerable gain from this little traffic. His father had taught him a mode of preparing the weed in a style which made it quite agreeable to his customers.
As this tobacco trade subsequently assumed considerable importance in a pecuniary way, it may be well to notice Mr. Lane's statement in reference to it. He says that this mode of preparing smoking-tobacco was quite new; nothing like it had been sold in Raleigh before. It had the twofold advantage of giving the tobacco a peculiar flavor, and of enabling him to manufacture a good article out of a very indifferent material. He improved, he says, upon the suggestion, and commenced the manufacture on a larger scale, doing, as usual, all his work at night. The tobacco he put into papers of about a quarter of a pound each and sold them at fifteen cents. But as the tobacco could not be smoked without a pipe, and as he imagined he had given the former a flavor peculiarly grateful, it "occurred to me that I might so construct a pipe as to cool the smoke in passing through it, and thus meet the wishes of those who are more fond of smoke than heat. This I effected by means of a reed which grows plentifully
in that region. I made a passage through the reed with a hot wire, polished it, and attached a clay-pipe to the end, so that the smoke should be cooled in flowing through the stem." These pipes he sold at ten cents apiece. In the early part of the night he would sell the tobacco and pipes, and manufacture in the latter part. His trade in town and with members of the Legislature, made him somewhat famous, not only in the city, but throughout the State, as a tobacconist. Thus he was able to make even the vices of the Southron to contribute to the one great object of his life,--the securing of his personal freedom.
Perceiving that he was getting on so well in business, he began, slave as he was, to think about taking a wife. The fearful responsibility of such a step he was not in a situation, as yet, to contemplate. His first advances were made, as he says, to a Miss Lucy Williams, a slave of Thomas Devereaux, Esq., an eminent lawyer in the place; but he was destined to fail in the undertaking. Discouraged in his first effort, for a time he had almost determined never to marry. At the end of two or three years this resolution gradually grow less controlling, and he set out again in pursuit of a companion to share his joys and sorrows. Fortunately his choice was a good one. The bargain between Miss Martha Curtis and himself was not long in being completed. He next proceeded to her master, Mr. Boylan, and asked him, according to the loose custom, if he might "marry his woman Martha." His reply was, "Yes, if you will behave yourself." "I said I would try." "And will you make her behave herself?" To this also he assented.
"The approbation of my master was granted without difficulty." So in May, 1828, he was united as fast in the bonds of marriage as any slave can be. He know well that the bond could, at any moment, be severed at the will of either master, the bond not being recognized by the laws of the South. "One year after our marriage we were blessed with a son, and at the end of two with a daughter. In the mean time, in accordance with my fears, my wife had passed from the hands of Mr. Boylan into those of Mr. Benj. B. Smith, a merchant, a member and class-leader in the Methodist Church, and in much repute for his ardent piety and devotion to religion. This I deemed a fortunate circumstance; but I soon found that grace had not touched his nature in the same degree, in giving him a generous heart toward his slave, now my wife, as I had observed in her former kind master, Mr. Boylan. Before, she had sufficient food and clothing to render her comfortable; now I was compelled to draw from my slender resources to make up what was deficient. Mr. Boylan was regarded as a very kind master to all his slaves, especially his house-servants, and I seldom heard complaints of cruelties inflicted upon his field-hands. I had often been informed that the overseer upon his nearest plantation--I knew but little of the others--was a very cruel man, and in one instance, he had been known to whip a man to death; but no notice was taken of this case, and it was easy to persuade the public that his death resulted from some other cause. Still, it was the choice of my wife to pass into the hands of Mr. Smith, as she had become attached to him in consequence
of belonging to the same church, and receiving his religious and counsel as her class-leader, and in consequence of the peculiar devotedness to the cause of religion for which he was noted, and which he always seemed to manifest. But, strange as it may seem, as her master, he withheld, both from her and her children, the needful food and clothing whilst he exacted from them, to the uttermost, all the labor they were able to perform. Almost every article of clothing worn either by my wife or children, especially every article of much value, I had to purchase, while the food he furnished the family amounted to less than a meal a day, and that of the coarser kind. I have no remembrance that he ever gave us a blanket or any other article of bedding, although it is considered a rule at the South that the master shall furnish each of his slaves with one blanket a year. So that, both as to food and clothing, I had in fact to support both my wife and the children, while he claimed them as his property and received all their labor." The reader of this narrative will no doubt think it passing strange how a Christian man could thus impose upon a poor slave, compelling him, in fact, to support his own house-servant, whilst he derived all the value of her labor. Possibly he was aware of her husband's industry, and his readiness in accumulating money, and yet he was still a slave, and their masters are bound by, every legal and moral obligation to provide for their support. But slavery is demoralizing in its influence upon every over which it holds its sway. Let the mind once embrace the heresy that the negro is a chattel, to be
bought and sold, with no natural inalienable right to freedom, to own his own labor, and you may readily account for the whole black catalogue of the wrongs that have been inflicted upon the unoffending race. His wife, although a member of the same church to which Mr. Smith belonged, had not even a chance to prove that she was honest in the affairs of the household. Her mistress gave out the articles to be cooked for the table, and watched the food so closely that she always required that it should all be returned. When the table was cleared away, the stern old lady would sit by and see that every dish (except the very meagre amount sent into the kitchen) was put away, then she would turn the key, feeling sure that her slaves would not commit the sin of wasting the bounties of Heaven. This was not precisely so at her former master, Mr. Boylan's, nor at his own. "Corn-bread and some meat were furnished in sufficient amounts to satisfy all the demands of nature, and on this ground I had no complaint to make of my master, Mr. Haywood. I remember, when a boy, it was the habit of the family to set the pot-liquor, in which the meat was boiled for the 'Great House,' together with some of the corn-meal balls that had been thrown in before the meat was done, in the centre of the yard; and a clam-shell or pewter spoon was given to each of the children, who gathered around the large tray into which the liquor was poured, and were ravenous as pigs over the delicious fare. The dignified as people of the house would stand upon the piazza and order the more stout and greedy ones to eat slower, that those more young and feeble might have a chance.
But even these favors were not allowed by Mr. Smith, kind man as he no doubt considered himself. I soon found that the expense of providing for my wife and children made large inroads upon my scanty earnings. All I had earned, and all I could earn, by my labor at night, was consumed, until I found myself reduced to five dollars, and this I lost while on an errand to the plantation. My bright hopes appeared now almost to vanish; every prop seemed giving way under me. Dark despair possessed my soul, respecting my freedom. I began now to realize the wretchedness of my situation as I had not done before. I was a slave, a husband, the father of two children, a family looking up to me for bread, my wife and her offspring also slaves, and I penniless. I had, too, a well-grounded suspicion that I was watched by master, his wife, and his children, lest I should, perchance, catch the friendly light of the stars, to make something to supply the cravings of nature in those to whom I was bound by most sacred ties. They feared, too, I might be arranging some plan of freedom, by my midnight toil, after the day's labor was over, and they enjoying the hours in pleasure of sleep.
"I think that no ship of state was ever freighted with a more veritable Jonah than this domestic Institution of ours. Mephistopheles himself could not feign so bitterly, so satirically sad a sight as these four millions of human beings crushed beyond help or hope by this one mighty argument,--OUR FATHERS KNEW NO BETTER. Nevertheless, it is the unavoidable destiny of Jonahs to be cast overboard sooner or later . . . . Let us, then, with equal foresight and wisdom, lash ourselves to the anchor, and await, in pious confidence, the certain result."
INCIDENTS BY THE WAY--JOURNEY TO WASHINGTON, N.C.--A TROUBLESOME COMPANION--SLAVERY DEFENDED--CONDEMNED OUT OF THEIR OWN MOUTHS.
THE condition of Lunsford, as body-servant and waiter in his master's fine mansion, with an abundance to eat and to drink, and clothed in comfortable raiment, would have made a man less sensitive than himself, happy. The only element lacking in his cup of enjoyment was freedom. He was still a SLAVE. This imbittered every pleasure. The passion for liberty took possession of his whole nature, and he used every moment of leisure, and every device consistent with integrity of character, to secure this end. Even the lavish kindness of his master and the family, of many amiable sons and daughters, who prized him on account of his intelligence, politeness, and amiable deportment, could not divert him from the goal of his desires. One day, calling upon the tailor, Litchford, to be measured for a new suit of clothes,--for it was the custom of his master to send him to the same tailor's at which his own clothes and those of his sons were made,--the patronizing tailor,
after securing his measure, speaking of the happiness of his situation compared with that of thousands upon the plantations, said, "I suppose Lane, nothing could induce you to become a free man. You would not take Your freedom if it were offered you. You must be a happy man to be allowed to wear such fine clothes as these, your master has ordered you." Lane hesitated to reply, revolving in his mind, as to whether the clothes' were not to be used to gratify the pride of the family, in whose presence and that of their fashionable guests they were to be worn, or to administer to his own comfort, and then fearing he might defeat the main object of all his efforts, by intimating that he was anything but happy as the slave of so kind a master, at length replied, "Oh, of course, no person ever had so kind a master as Mr. H. I often think myself very ungrateful (to the Lord, he said mentally) for the favors I receive." Lunsford had too much sense to excite the ill-will of his master by circulating reports in the community of the unhappiness of his situation; besides, many would say, If Lane is unsatisfied and desires freedom, how can we ever succeed in pacifying this ungrateful race; even food and raiment as good as ourselves and our children wear, are not sufficient; they would turn from the thresholds of their benefactors, and live in poverty that they might be free. Is their freedom so dear that they would purchase it at the expense of enduring physical wretchedness? Those advocates of slavery never go deep enough into the subject to see the powerful incentive of free labor, in securing that undisturbed social happiness, for which every human, being should strive and for which they were made.
On entering the house, Lunsford found the family in a
considerable state of pleasant excitement about a visit
to Washington,* * This place is a present held by the U. S. forces. In the siege
of Washington, the slaves were found faithful, and assisted the forces greatly.
on the Tar River, and as this was only some fifty miles beyond Mr. Haywood's plantation, near Tarboro', they determined to call upon their return. Mr. H. had two married daughters living at Washington and Mrs. H., with one or more of the unmarried ones, often joined him on these expeditions. Being an ambitious woman, she felt a desire to witness the prosperity of her family abroad; to see how the promising grandchildren of the Haywoods had been benefited by the wise training her own had received, and which ought to be seen in its matured fruits in them; besides, might not Miss Eliza and Miss Lucy be as fortunate as their sisters, and Washington might present inducements leading to their permanent residence. North Carolina did not abound, in those days, in thrifty enterprising villages, located at frequent intervals along its highways, and hence the traveller, when he left his comfortable mansion, left also many of the conveniences of living. The country between Raleigh and the Tar River, and thence to Washington, was by no means thickly settled, and but few comfortable public houses were to be found,--generally at the cross-roads a place called a tavern, where a man might find a night's lodging and fodder for his horse, but beyond this it was in vain for him to look. The Haywoods, however, were old roaders; they had often been over this portion of the State, and hence the character of the preparation
* This place is a present held by the U. S. forces. In the siege of Washington, the slaves were found faithful, and assisted the forces greatly.
they now made. A day or two was given to baking and boiling. The ample basket, made to fit most conveniently under the driver's seat, was filled with boiled tongue and cheese and biscuit and sweet buns, to which was added a flask of brandy, and one of wine,--good scuppernong. This furnished for the inner man, other preparations were speedily completed. Lunsford, as driver, was reinforced by an additional servant-man in Jake, a likely negro, whose heels exhibited almost as much enjoyment as his eyes, at the idea of seeing so much of the country, and then the stock of knowledge gained by the expected adventures was no mean consideration. The family carriage was at length brought to the mansion; and now commenced the process of stowing the luggage necessary for the human freight. Mrs. H. was a woman of large ideas for one of her education, but these ideas were not in the region of metaphysics, or history, or philosophy, but nevertheless she thought she filled a large space in the world, and that many eyes in the town were turned upon her, and she did not wish to disappoint them. If her neighbors did not know that Mrs. H. and daughters were about to leave town in their coach-and-two, attended by four servants, two as driver and attendant, and two as waiting-maids, why, it was not her fault. The carriage had now been waiting over two hours, and it was near nine o'clock before the ladies made their appearance. Its doors had been opened and shut a dozen times by the servants, to add to its contents of eatables. At length they came. "Lunsford," said Mrs. H., "I hope you have the horses in good condition; take us through the town at a brisk
pace." It was a pleasant day in October, and the weather at that season in the South is warm and genial, and Nature seems as yet to have had no thought of disrobing herself for the long slumber of winter; the birds were beginning to gather in flocks, and though many flowers had ceased to bloom, many new candidates were demanding our attention and inviting us to enjoy their delicious odors. The Haywoods were in the habit of patronizing only one public house, on their frequent journeyings to Washington, and this house was kept by Jake Wilson, whose ideas, it is true, were not quite up to those of the proprietors of the Astor or the St. Nicholas, yet his intentions were the best in the world, and I suppose his taste was good for the locality. But the Haywoods had no intention of eating in his house; they only desired to stretch their limbs and rest for the night. They had taken care that provender for the inner man was not lacking, though they might desire some for their horses and the chattels. Besides, Wilson's house was convenient, as it was reached at the close of a day's drive, at a cross-road forty miles on their way.
After Mrs. H. and daughters had retired to their rooms, Lunsford and Jake, wrapped in their blankets, threw themselves, in the more democratic style, on the floor near the kitchen fire, not far from the landlord's dog and cat, which had already composed their limbs to sleep. Bright and early the party set out on the following morning, and by three in the afternoon reach their destination. Of course there was the usual amount of kissing; and the little ones jumped up and down at
the bare hint of the presents yet unloaded from the ample box of the carriage. Washington, in those days, was the seat of considerable trade with the North. The cotton and corn and bacon of the rich region bordering upon the Tar River was floated down to this point and then sent to New York in vessels, by way of Pamlico Sound. But slavery, which has blighted all the South, has smothered all enterprise and kept it an inferior village, when its position would, had it enjoyed the enterprise of free labor, have made it a thriving city. Mrs. H. was, therefore, a great accession to the society of the place, and her arrival would have been announced the village paper, had there been one. The three days of her stay was enough to satisfy her that things were not going very badly, and she hastened her departure so that she might have some time to visit the plantations on the way home. On the evening before they were to leave, a few friends bad been invited in by the daughters, and among them Mr. Jaquith, from the North, who had been for several years engaged in teaching in the place; and, although he had married the daughter of one of his patrons, he had not lost any of his aversion to slavery. In the course of the conversation, which turned upon the subject of slavery, he was contrasting the thrift and enterprise of Northern towns and villages with the lack of the same qualities to be found in Slave States. Here the soil and climate were far superior; and, "if free, requited labor were only added, what a paradise should we behold," said he, in reply to the remarks of Mrs. H. "Ah, madam! within the pestilential atmosphere of slavery, nothing succeeds.
Progress and prosperity are unknown; inanition and slothfulness ensue; everything becomes dull, dismal and uncomfortable; wretchedness and desolation stand or lie in bold relief throughout the land; and an aspect of most melancholy inactivity and dilapidation broods over every city and town; and ignorance and prejudice sit enthroned over the minds of the people."
"Why, Mr. Jaquith, you perfectly astonish me by the extravagance of these remarks, and had you not married a Southern lady, you would be in danger of a coat of tar and feathers."
"Yes, madam, the best argument I suppose you capable of replying. Had I time, I could produce abundant testimony from Southern statesmen and others, all concurring in the view I have given of the institution. Not many years since, Thomas Marshall stated in the Virginia Legislature, that 'Slavery is ruinous to the whites. It retards improvement, roots out an industrious population, banishes the yeomanry of the country, deprives the spinner, the weaver, the smith, the shoemaker, the carpenter of employment and support.'"
"I admit that Judge Marshall held many very unsound opinions on the subject, but you will find few Southerners of much ability or reputation agreeing him."
"In the Virginia Convention held not many years since, where this whole subject was discussed, many of Virginia's ablest sons did not hesitate to utter the honest convictions of their minds in regard to the ruin which slavery was bringing upon the land.
"The Hon. C. F. Mercer there declared--but I will
give you his very words;" and taking from the library the volume of the reports of the Virginia Convention of 1829, he read the following words from Mr. Mercer's speech:--"'As I descended the Chesapeake the other day, I thought of the early descriptions of Virginia by the followers of Raleigh and Smith, and I said to myself How much it has lost of its primitive loveliness! Does the eye dwell with most pleasure on its wasted fields, or its stunted forests of secondary growth of pine and cedar? Can we dwell but with mournful regret on temples of religion sinking into ruin, and those spacious dwellings whose doors, once opened by the hand of liberal hospitality, are now fallen upon their portals or closed in tenantless silence? Except on the banks of its rivers, the march of desolation saddens this once beautiful country. The cheerful notes of population have ceased. The wolf and wild-deer, no longer scared from their ancient haunts, have descended from the mountains to the plains. They look on the graves of our ancestors and traverse their former paths.'"
"Now, Mr. Jaquith, you know that is only the rhetorical flourish of a politician, who was speaking to gratify some of his Western Virginia friends; and you know the western part of that State is of comparatively recent settlement, and has had no chance to experience the blessing and the wealth of slavery."
"And I trust, madam, in her further settlement and progress she never will. But I will read you one other opinion of a young and rising statesman, C. J. Faulkner, who was a member of the Virginia Legislature in 1832. I have the volume here; he
says, 'If there be one who believes in the harmless
character of this institution, let him compare the
condition of the slaveholding portion of this commonwealth,
barren, desolate, and seared as it were by the
avenging hand of Heaven, with the descriptions we
have of this country from those who first broke its
soil. To what is the change ascribable? Alone to
the withering and blasting effects of slavery; to that
vice in the organization of society by which one-half of its
inhabitants are arrayed in interests and feeling against the
other half. Let me refer the incredulous to the two States of Kentucky and Ohio. No difference of soil, no diversity of climate, no diversity in the original settlement of those two States, can account for the remarkable disproportion in their national advancement.
Separated by a river alone, they seem to have been purposely
and providentially designed to exhibit in their future histories the
difference which necessarily results from a country free
from the curse of slavery, and a country afflicted with it. The
same may be said of the two States of Missouri* * At the time of this present writing, Missouri, having
passed through a baptism of blood, is about abolishing slavery, in which Congress may grant aid to the amount of $20,000,000. ** See Mrs. L. Maria Child's tract on the Patriarchal
and Illinois.' But I have one other testimony which should certainly have great weight with all Southerners. George Washington,**
in a letter to Sir John Sinclair, speaks of the exhausted condition of land in Maryland and Virginia, particularly in the vicinity of Mount Vernon, where plantations were not worth more than five dollars an acre. He states that the price of land in Pennsylvania
* At the time of this present writing, Missouri, having passed through a baptism of blood, is about abolishing slavery, in which Congress may grant aid to the amount of $20,000,000.
** See Mrs. L. Maria Child's tract on the Patriarchal Institution.
averaged more than twice that amount, giving as a reason, that emigrants were attracted thither 'because there are in Pennsylvania laws for the gradual abolition of slavery, which neither Maryland nor Virginia have at present; but which nothing is more certain than that they must have, and at a period not remote.' You and I have lived to see slavery abolished in Pennsylvania, and the wealth and enterprise of its citizens far surpassing her neighbors, Maryland and Virginia. The day of North Carolina's deliverance must come, and let us pray that it may not come in blood!"
At this moment, Lunsford entered and said, "I beg your pardon, mistress, for interrupting your conversation but as we are to leave early in the morning on our journey homeward, I came to ask if you have any special orders about preparations for leaving?"
"No, Lunsford; you have always carried us safely through, so far, and I shall leave matters wholly in your hands; see that the other servants retire early, and have us all up by five."
Mr. Jaquith, as he looked at Lunsford and saw his fine form, his ease and grace of manner, his intelligence, and correct use of language, said to himself, "This man is out of his place; Nature has endowed him with rare abilities; and as a freeman, with a Northern education, he might rise to eminence, and bee become a deliverer of his race." Bidding good-evening to his friends, he wended his way homeward, reflecting upon the selfishness of human nature in cherishing sins certain in the end to defeat the object of life's battle,--the securing of happiness.
The sun was just creeping over the hills as Lunsford, with the ladies, drove out of the town; the slaves were just departing from their cabins to the fields to enter upon the day's labor. As they stopped at the first watering-place to rest the horses a moment, they were overtaken by a cousin of the young ladies, who owned a farm near Tarboro'. As Mrs. H. and the two daughters had no gentleman in their party, (though they felt perfectly safe in the hands of their trusty slaves,) Mr. Galt insisted upon making one of the party as far as Wilson's tavern, though this would take him some twenty miles out of his way. Mr. Galt had been to Washington to recover a runaway man-servant, whom he found secured in prison, awaiting the owner's call.
The man was strongly bound, both hands and feet, and tied to the back seat of his dog-wagon;--a style of vehicle quite fashionable in England among the gentry, the hinder portion being arranged for the conveyance of their dogs when in the chase.
Although Mrs. Haywood did not quite relish the idea of Mr. Galt and his bound slave in their party upon the public highway, their relationship forbade her intimating in his presence anything but pleasure at their good fortune in securing his company; but he had no sooner fallen behind a short distance than she said in very decided terms, in which she was overheard by the servants on the box, "I wish Galt and his runaway, had followed their own way, and not troubled us with their company; many people will think I have been to Washington on the mean errand of slave-catching." Now, Mrs. Haywood, who felt so badly in this particular
case, would have had no objection, had any slave of hers escaped, to having him brought home under almost any other circumstances than the present. But as it could not be helped, they conversed as pleasantly as their relative positions in the two vehicles would admit. About noon they arrived at a spring by the roadside, which sent up into the bright sunlight its double columns of refreshing water. This was a place famous to travellers and pedestrians, who were in the habit of spreading their repast here, in the shade of the adjacent grove. While Lunsford and the man Jake attended to the horses, the maid-servants brought out the basket of fried chicken and other inviting refreshments and spread them upon the ground. Mr. Galt, leaving his wagon in Lunsford's care by the roadside, had joined the party, and was busily engaged in doing the honors of the rural board; and so interested had he become in the gossip of his fair cousins that he had for the time forgotten the runaway. Lunsford and Jake, up to this time, had not interchanged a word with the bound negro; and yet the language of the eyes and certain gestures had established very satisfactory relations between them. At intervals the slave was observed bending his head in the direction of his hands and feet, and apparently using his teeth. At last, after no little effort, his hands are freed, and in a moment the cords are loosed; and with no apparent alarm or perturbation of mind, he quietly steps from the wagon and joins the servants, Lunsford and Jake, who are hidden from the party in the grove by the family carriage.
"Mr. Galt," at length said Mrs. Haywood, "you
have a troublesome negro there, I suppose; what is his fault?"
"Fault! why, this is the third time the rascal has run away; and it is only nine months since I purchased him in Washington, where, I understand, he has a wife and several children. I have almost made up my mind never to buy a married negro again; but, notwithstanding that, I intend to teach him to remain in his place. By the way, I must keep an eye on him, or he will be up to some trick."
He stepped into the road, and finding his man untied, and standing composed by Lunsford and the rest, restrained the outburst of rage which prudence told him to repress until he had secured his chattel. Approaching them, he said,--
"Well, Isaac, whose work is this,--yours or these d--d city negroes?"
"Massa, I done it myself; Lunsford nor none of the res' didn't do nuffin 'bout it."
The negro was a powerful fellow, and appeared completely self-possessed; but there was a meaning in his look which seemed to say, "You must keep your hands off;" besides, a dense wood was on either side of the road, and in an instant he could elude pursuit.
"Now, Isaac, I regret that I am compelled to treat you in this way, and I want you to promise me that you will behave yourself in future, and return to your work."
"I have always done my work, massa; but I must be allowed to see my wife, and children sometimes, and the overseer says I shall not. I only want to go once a month."
"Well, what are you going to do now?"
"I am going back to Washington" (some twenty miles distant) "and see how my family is; for the officers cotched me jus' as I git in town, and lock me in de prison."
"Well," said his master, "it is now Wednesday; and I will give you until Monday morning to see them and return to the plantation; you must be there in season to go into the field with the other hands."
Isaac escapes upon much easier terms than he had expected; and yet this involved a journey afoot of over fifty miles,--twenty to Washington and thirty to his master's,-- a part to be performed on Sunday, during the shades of the night; and yet he left, or was about to do so, in a very happy state of mind.
"Mr. Galt," said Miss Haywood, who had now joined them in the road, "you have forgotten that your man needs something to eat with such a journey before him; let the servants bring him something; run, Jane, and get him some meat and bread."
"Well, cousin, since you wish it; but really, the scamp deserves to find his own food, since he has voluntarily left the quarters I have provided him."
Mr. Galt, finding a long afternoon's ride before him, determined to leave his cousins at this point, and, jumping into his wagon, he bade them good-by, and turned off by a cross-road to his plantation near Tarboro'.
Lunsford and the party reached "Wilson's" as the sun was sinking behind the distant hills, pleased to accept of the poor accommodations of this poverty-stricken inn-keeper. The relaxation from their confined position
in the carriage was refreshing indeed and the accommodating landlord brought out chairs,--rude ones, it is true,--and placed them upon the rickety veranda. The cooling breeze was refreshing to the weary travellers, and the limpid stream that meandered gently by seemed almost to incite them to slake their thirst at its edge. The lingering sunbeams were just leaving a golden tinge in the sky.
"What a delightful evening, mother," said one of the daughters; "this is what I love,--
'I love the balmy air of eve,
With dewy tears and zephyr sighs;
It doth the ruffled wind relieve,
And soothes the spirit ere it flies.'
I love, too, the humming and chirping of these multitudinous insects in the wood. Their time comes when the busy works of man have ceased, and slumber closes his eyelids; their chirping seems to put me to sleep immediately."
"Lunsford," said Mrs. H., when he returned from the stable, "we must be off early in the morning. I am anxious to reach home early in the afternoon, or Mr. Haywood will be uneasy; I wrote him that he might expect us early."
"Yes, mistress, I think you may rely upon me."
By three in the afternoon of the following day, the carriage of the Haywoods was rattling its way over the rough pavements of Raleigh; and Lunsford landed his charge in safety at the open door of the mansion, into which Mr. H. welcomed his returning family.
"'Slavery's a thing thet depends on complexion,
It's God's law thet fetters on black skins don't chafe;
Ef brains was to settle it (horrid reflection!)
Wich of our onnable body'd be safe?'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he,
Sez Mister Hannegan
Afore he began agin,
'Thet exception is quite oppertoon,' sez he."
See Debate in U. S. Senate.
"Hold, while ye may, your struggling slaves, and burden God's free air
With woman's shriek beneath the lash, and manhood's wild despair;
Cling closer to the 'cleaving curse,' that writes upon your plains
The blasting of Almighty wrath against a land of chain."
HIS MASTER'S DEATH--CONTINUED EFFORTS FOR FREEDOM--LOVE OF WIFE AND CHILDREN--THE STORY OF MATT. HARRIS.
AN event now occurred which cast great gloom over the prospects of many of his fellow-slaves. Their master died. Mr. Lane and the numerous retinue of men-servants and women-servants in the household and upon the plantations felt a degree of security in their position, and in their social relations while Mr. Haywood lived. Many of them had families, and some a numerous offspring. Being in repute a man of great wealth and of kind disposition, they had little fear of those heart-rending separations from home and kindred that they had observed upon many of the neighboring plantations. They never dreamed that his sudden death might change every pleasing prospect, and put out in darkness the brightest hopes of life.
His widow, by his will, became the sole executrix of his large property. To the surprise of all, the bank, of which he had been cashier for many years, presented a claim against the estate of forty thousand dollars. By a compromise, the particulars of which it is unnecessary to mention, this sum was reduced to twenty thousand dollars. To meet this, several plantations, together with all their live stock of men and cattle, had to be sold. Some of her best and most trusty slaves were hired out. To Lunsford's great joy, he succeeded in hiring his own time from his mistress, for which he agreed to pay a price varying from one hundred to one hundred and twenty dollars per annum.
This was indeed a privilege which comparatively few slaves at the South enjoy, inasmuch as it is in violation of the laws of the State,--a slave having no legal right to make a contract of this kind which would be binding. In Raleigh, it was sometimes winked at. "I knew," says he, "one slave man who was doing well for himself and for his master, taken up by the public authorities and hired out for the public good, three times in succession." It was found that the example was injurious upon the other slaves, making them restless and discontented,--this being a quasifreedom stimulates to great industry, and often inspires higher hopes. In many cases, however, if the slave is orderly, gives no intimation of insubordination, and appears to be MAKING NOTHING, neither he nor the master interfered with. "This relation to my mistress made me too happy to think of betraying the confidence now reposed in me.
"I now commenced business for myself, and entered upon the manufacture of pipes and tobacco upon a large scale. I opened a regular place of business,--a humble one, it is true,--and I labelled my tobacco in a conspicuous manner, attaching the names of the proprietors, 'EDWARD AND LUNSFORD LANE.' We (my father being in the business with me) pushed the enterprise so far as to establish agencies for the sale in various parts of the State; one at Fayetteville, one at Salisbury, and one at Chapel Hill; the latter place being the seat of the University of North Carolina and of other minor institutions made the place one of considerable importance for the slaves who were ambitious enough to supply the students and the town's people with their homely productions, and receive their pocket-money in exchange."
The Lanes managed to get their full share, but it is questionable whether the equivalent returned in tobacco and pipes was not greatly to the detriment of the rising generation.
The influence of Father Trask had not as yet extended so far as Raleigh, and his tracts on this important subject would have been but "dead letters" to the mass of the benighted of both colors. He sold these articles also at his own unpretending shop, and about town, and also deposited them in stores on commission. "Thus, after paying my mistress what was considered the full value of my time, and rendering such support as was necessary to my family, I found in the space of some six or eight years I had collected the sum of one thousand dollars; and this was in addition to paying
my mistress over one thousand dollars, as stated in the first chapter, for the privilege of laboring for myself, to which God and nature had already given me an inalienable right. Fearful that the accumulation of so much money might prove disastrous to my hopes, should it be known, I deemed it politic, during all this time, to go shabbily dressed, and to appear as poor as possible, but to pay my mistress for my services promptly. My funds I kept hid, never venturing to lend or invest a penny in anything likely to create suspicion; nor did I let any one but my wife know that I was making any.
"Supposing that one thousand dollars was about the amount my mistress would ask for my freedom, I determined what course to pursue. Going to her, I casually asked her price, provided I should desire my freedom. She said she would be satisfied with one thousand dollars. I then frankly told her I greatly desired my freedom, and asked if she was ready to execute the deed, provided I could find some person whom I could trust, by whom the purchase in my behalf could be made." The reader should remember that no slave has the right, according to Southern laws, to make such a contract, not even to purchase himself. Even the money he had accumulated through those long years of toil belonged to his mistress, and had she been bad enough, she could have compelled him, by law, to transfer, all his possessions, while a slave, to her hands. "I had known instances of slaves who had paid a portion of the money demanded for their freedom, and had yet been cruelly retained in servitude. My mistress, covetous as she was of money, thought too much of her reputation
for good breeding to be guilty of so base a piece of injustice.
"One instance of this kind occurred in Raleigh which made a deep impression on me at the time.
"An intelligent and active man-servant, belonging to a neighbor of my master, who bore not the best reputation for honesty in his business relations, was offered his freedom by the payment of eight hundred dollars. He set himself industriously to work; hired his time; went to Chapel Hill; opened a little shop, and after several years of hard toil laid by four hundred dollars, which he took to his master and paid as the first instalment,--one-half of the purchase money. After receiving the money, he informed his slave that he had changed his mind as to his value and the amount to be paid, demanding, as a condition of his freedom, eight hundred dollars, making twelve hundred! The utter hopelessness of his condition at first almost crushed him; finally, the feeling of the unmitigated wrong which he had suffered aroused him to renewed efforts to secure his freedom at all hazards. He procured from his master a pass to trade in different portions of the State and in Virginia; the cupidity of his master induced him to grant it readily; by a series of skilful manoeuvres he succeeded in travelling not only through North Carolina and Virginia, but into the Free States; and I had the pleasure several years after of taking him by the hand in the streets of Boston. By the guidance of a kind Providence I was more successful in my present effort, but it was not accomplished without difficulty. I found in my wife's master, Mr. Smith,
a man whom I could trust. Upon consulting with Mr. Smith, I determined to give him my money, intrusting him with the negotiation with my mistress; it was determined best, that he should purchase my freedom, holding me nominally as his slave until I could be formally and legally emancipated. The laws forbade emancipation, except in one case, i. e. 'meritorious conduct,' and as I could not claim the benefit of this exception the effort was fruitless. I made personal application to the court, but it was judged that I had done nothing 'meritorious;' and thus I remained the slave of Mr. Smith for one year, when, feeling unsafe in that relation, I accompanied him to New York, whither he was going to purchase goods, and there I was legally and in due form made a FREEMAN, and there my manumission is recorded. I returned with Mr. Smith to Raleigh, where I hoped to live in peace in the society of my family and friends, and to care for my little household as a freeman should. I had known in mental agony, that I cannot describe, what it was to be a slave, and I was in a condition to know what it was to be FREE."
The change in the condition of Mr. Lane, from that of former privations, was indeed great; the long season of toil and waiting issued at last into an exuberant joy. Though the road he had trodden was not so thorny as that of many of his fellow-slaves, yet he felt himself most happy at escaping the possibilities of his situation.
In speaking of this portion of his life, he declares to the present writer, "I do not desire to dwell upon its
dark features, but upon those portions of my path where the light of God's good providence was permitted to stream. His goodness had followed me from infancy; and at length I was conducted quite out of the abyss of bondage. Cowper's beautiful words seemed well suited to express my feelings as I turned my eyes upon the past:--
'When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I'm lost
In wonder, love, and praise.'
I had endured what a freeman of the North would have called hard usage; but my lot upon the whole had been a favored one as a slave. It is known that there is a wide difference in the situations of what are termed house-servants and plantation-hands. I, though sometimes employed upon the plantation, belonged to the former, which is the favored class. My master was esteemed a kind and humane man, and in almost every respect I fared differently from the many poor slaves, whose sorrows in life I knew well, some of them hopelessly confined to the plantation, with not enough food, and that little of the coarsest kind, insufficient to satisfy the gnawing of hunger; compelled oftentimes to steal away in the night season, when worn down with excessive labor, and appropriate such things as they could lay their hands upon, and privately devour them in their cabins; made to feel the rigors of bondage with no cessation; torn away sometimes from the few friends whom they dared to love, friends doubly
dear because they were few; at times transported to a climate where, in a few years they die, and then borne without ceremony, and with few mourners, to their last resting-place beneath the sod, the burial-place being a corner of a field upon the master's plantation, which before many years will be ploughed and sown and reaped as other acres. It is true, at times, in the cool evening, and even during the hours of toil, the air is enlivened by a merriment which, even in its rude style, serves to mitigate the sorrows of their lot. Such I knew to be the fate of plantation slaves generally, but such was not mine, and I thanked God and took courage. My way was comparatively far happier, and, what is better, led to freedom. God had given me great powers of endurance and a disposition to labor. My wife and children were still with me, and to live for them was a pleasure. After my master's death, my mistress, it is true, sold a number of her slaves from their families and friends, but not me. Children were torn from their parents, but mine were with me still. Two husbands had been sold from their wives, but I was still unvisited with this sorrow. One wife was sold from her husband, but mine was still left to comfort me. With me, and in my humble home, the tender tendrils of the heart still clung to where they had entwined,--like the pleasant vine that clung about the entrance to our cabin, its shade and its fruits were delicious to our taste. Still we know and we felt that we were slaves, and did not venture to peer into the future."
The compiler of this biography, having been born in
the South and well acquainted with the institution of slavery and the many circumstances which lead to the separation of families, can well account for the undisturbed relation of Lunsford Lane in this respect. It is true that the strong attachment to home and family he evinced does not pertain to a majority of the slaves, though the institution is responsible for all this. Where families are to be separated due consideration is made in regard to those where this family attachment is not strong; these may be sold first. In this respect there is a fearful laxity of morals, the immediate result of slavery. And yet thousands are governed by very high and pure motives and attachments, and when the master can, he hesitates to sever ties of so sacred a kind. But in many instances even humane masters have no control over their property, and in more instances the barbarism of slavery has crushed in their hearts the emotions of humanity.
The writer, who has quite an extensive acquaintance in some of the Southern States, is convinced, allowing for the difference in social condition and education, that the attachment and strength of moral obligation exhibited in the colored race, free and slave, are as strong as they are to be found anywhere.
In instances where the tie is uncommonly strong, and an attempt is made to separate the family, we have witnessed the most heroic efforts, on the part of slaves, to prevent the occurrence of so dreadful an event. The history of Lunsford Lane and of others could be adduced.
The following narrative has recently been published,
and as the writer was personally conversant with the facts,
the reader may rely upon their entire truthfulness and fidelity.
It was communicated to a friend in Massachusetts by the
surgeon of the U. S. ship R. R. Cuyler, and occurred in
connection with her duty in the blockade of Mobile.* * See the Weekly
Massachusetts Spy for July, 1863.
* See the Weekly Massachusetts Spy for July, 1863.
"A few days ago, I happened to be talking with---- ----, who, though absolutely loyal, is a born Kentuckian, and a firm believer in the blessings of the 'peculiar institution.' He was telling me how, on many of the large plantations, chaplains were employed to attend to the spiritual condition of the hands.
" 'Still,' said I, 'they would like to have a right to their own children, I suppose.'
" 'Oh,' he answered, 'you refer to the separation of families. Now I can tell yon that I never knew that to be done, unless the person sold had been convicted of some crime which would send him to a common jail. Ten years ago, when my uncle proposed to move to Missouri, many of his male slaves had wives owned on adjoining plantations. He said to them that if they could find some one to give a nominal price for them, he should be glad to have them; to which they answered that they did not wish to leave him. "But what will you do about your wives?" he asked; and they answered, "Oh, never mind dem; find plenty more out dar." So you will find it,' said----; 'they do not think so much of these things as we do.'
" 'You did not find it so with Matt. Harris,' I answered.
" 'Oh, well; he is one of ten thousand. I don't know many white men who would do as he did.'
"It seems to me that the story of the adventures of Matt. Harris deserves all the praise that this gentleman awards it; and though it may be difficult to describe all the obstacles that he met and overcame, so that you at that distance will fully comprehend them, I hope to set them before you with sufficient plainness to command your attention and respect. Matt. Harris was born the slave of a man living a few miles above Mobile, and has always worked for him on a flat-boat, running between his saw-mill and the city. He is now about thirty-five years of age, and a free mulatto. There is nothing African about his features, except his complexion; and his thin, straight nose, full, prominent brow, with a certain breadth of skull through the head in front of the ears, convey to my mind evidences of considerable mental capacity.
"On the ninth of April this man came off to the Colorado, with another, in an open boat. They represented that they were three days lying in wait around the 'Point,' before they dared to come off, and that they were a week getting down the river. In the course of a day or two they were transferred to this vessel, and I improved the first favorable opportunity to speak with Matt. about his history, intentions, and prospects. In answer to questions, he told me there was little to eat around Mobile, which poor people could buy; that he did not run away from work, of which he says he was not afraid; that all the slaves around Mobile had heard of the President's Proclamation, but did not
know how it could help them, and that his only idea in coming out was to got some place where he could work and get enough to eat. I asked him how he knew that we should not send him back, or misuse him? He said that about three months before, Jesse had come out in the same manner, and after staying in the fleet some time, had suddenly disappeared after the vessel went to Pensacola for coal. Suddenly he reappeared in Mobile among his friends, with a most doleful story of his sufferings. He had been beaten, starved, nearly drowned, and was glad to get back with his life. Jesse's story was published in the papers around Mobile, and Jesse himself went on a kind of missionary tour among the discontented of his people, to tell them what he had suffered. But when he could choose his audience, he told his people that he was perfectly well used, and when he could manage to get his wife away be would go again, and 'not come back no mo'.'
"The first accurate information in regard to the river defences and obstructions came from Matt. Harris. The number of guns, rams, gunboats, the armament, draught of water, fighting capacity of the latter two, the water in the various channels, the name, stowage, capacity, and rate of sailing of different blockade runners, the names of different vessels which have been in Mobile in years past,--on all these subjects he has answered hundreds of questions, put in many cases by persons who were acquainted with the facts, and anxious to prove him unreliable, in a manner so straightforward, unhesitating, and reasonable, that I have never heard any man pretend to doubt his perfect accuracy.
Above all, he has the rare grace of not pretending to know what he does not; and it has often amused me to see with what delightful firmness he refuses to infer anything that he does not know. Toward the last of April we went to Pensacola for coal, passing, on our way up, a burning blockade-runner, near the entrance of Perdido River, about ten miles west of Pensacola Light.
"The first day after our arrival, all hands had liberty to take a run ashore; and at night all were present or accounted for except Matt. The last that was seen of him was about noon, when he was sitting on a log talking with one of his color, who lives at Warrenton. I kept hoping, up to the last moment, that he would return, and justify the good opinion that was formed of him; but at the end of three days we went back to the fleet, and Matt. was reported as a deserter. Now copperheadism was jubilant. Never a man among them but was sure of his being a spy, who had come out with such a story as the rebels instructed him to tell, and now had gone back with accurate news from the fleet and the navy yard.
"'I suspected that fellow from the first,' said the chaplain of the Colorado. 'I noticed that he would drop his eyes when I looked at him;' which we must admit was quite conclusive.
Thus things remained until the eighth of May, when soon after daylight, the officer of the watch saw an open boat coming out from Sand Island, about one-third of the way over to Fort Morgan. Soon, with a glass, he saw a little child sitting in the after-part, and quickly
after, a man and a woman pulling the boat along with not over-skilful strokes. They headed directly for this vessel, and just after sunrise came upon our deck,--Matt. Harris, wife, and female child fifteen months old. The boat was very rickety, nearly half-full of water, and badly fitted in regard to oars; but they managed to get off their clothing in two trunks, and considerable bed-clothing. The captain gave them a little room upon the upper deck, and before nine o'clock the little one was munching a piece of sweet-cake at her mother's knee, while Matt. had gone to his work again.
"He intended to try this thing ever after he got aboard this vessel. To only one man did he reveal his plan, and he kept the secret. Matt. watched by the sentry at the west gate of the navy yard, until he saw him nodding at his post, and then slipped out by him. He bought six pounds of ship-bread in Warrenton, and at night took the road for Mobile. He walked in the road until morning and then took to the woods which skirt the Perdido River, intending to cross at Unis's Ferry, about fifteen miles from the mouth of the river. But he got lost in the woods, and by mistake turned toward Pensacola again, crossed his track, and at night came to the river close to the seashore. Turning back again, he went along his yesterday's route and missing the path to Unis's Ferry, passed five miles beyond, and at last came to the river at Holcomb's Ferry. It was fortunate that he did so; for if he had tried to cross at Unis's he would have been arrested by a guard detailed by the rebels for arresting runaways at that point. At Holcomb's he found a skiff, in which he paddled over,
and immediately on landing found himself surrounded by a patrol guard, who were very anxious to know his business. He told them that he was a free man, that he had been engaged in running the blockade, that he got through twice, that the last time his vessel had got driven ashore at Perdido and burnt, that he had lost his papers, been imprisoned in the navy yard, had escaped, and was now on his way back to Mobile. (Here were just as many lies as there are commas in the sentence, Matt., and I hope the recording angel will not put them down against you.)
"The soldiers let him go and he went directly up to the house of the keeper of the ferry. To him he told the same story, but not with quite the same success, for the man insisted that he should stay there that night, and in the morning go to the colonel commanding in the district and get a pass, if all right, as he told him not even a white man could travel without a pass. Matt. was obliged to consent, though discovery stared him in the face, and he lay down to rest with a heavy heart. There was only one expedient. He lay down quietly until he knew his friend was asleep, and then rising, noiselessly crept to the shore, and taking the horse of the man, rode rapidly toward Mobile. (Theft, Matt!) He rode until morning, and then turning his horse took to the woods again. In the course of the day he saw, in a muddy place, dog-tracks, a common thing enough, but to him, it meant blood-hounds, pursuit, capture, perhaps death. Most of that day was spent without walking; much of the time standing in running water. At night he managed to find out in
what direction the dogs would run the next day, and then took the trail again.
"Thus he was five days going the forty miles between Pensacola and Mobile, arriving on Friday night. He immediately communicated with his wife (the only person who saw him, except the boy who told him about the dogs), and made arrangements to start on the next Tuesday night. The days of the intervening time were spent in the marshes opposite the city, and the nights with his wife in the city. Tuesday night, at half-past ten, they dropped down the current, and from that time they slowly worked their way down the river at night, lying concealed in the day-time. They lived, during the time, upon bread that they had bought before starting, and upon cold boiled chicken which she had laid in. Three times, as the day came on, and they sought a place of refuge, he took her on his back and bore her through the water to the land. And after all, this poor woman, well advanced in pregnancy, took an oar and helped her husband in his last struggle for liberty.
"Matt. is now about this ship. Hardly a day passes in which our captain does not call him from his work to got some advice in relation to the harbor; and I often think his conduct, Kentuckian born as he is, puts some of us Free-State men to the blush. The wife and baby are at Pensacola, comfortably settled, and this little family seem at last to have begun to live. Matt.'s term of service expires with the commission of the ship, (he has been offered and has refused his discharge
from the commodore since his return), and if he remains by her until she comes North, I will try and bring him to Worcester, that you may judge whether he is a trustworthy man."
"What, ho! our countrymen in chains!
The whip on WOMAN'S shrinking flesh!
Our soil yet reddening with stains,
Caught from her scourging warm and fresh!
What! mothers from their children riven!
What! God's own image bought and sold!
AMERICANS to market driven,
And bartered as the brute far gold! . . . . . . . . .
Shall every flap of England's flag
Proclaim that all around are free,
From "farthest Ind." to each blue crag
That beetles o'er the Western sea?
And shall we scoff at Europe's kings,
When freedom's fire is dim with us,
And round our country's altar clings
The damning shade of Slavery's Chains?"
LUNSFORD AS A CHRISTIAN--HIS RELIGIOUS TEACHERS--SLAVERY SEEKING THE AID OF REVELATION--AN HONEST RELIGIOUS TEACHER REBUKING THE SLAVEHOLDER--DOES NOT BEAR THE LIGHT OF HISTORY.
THUS far but little has been said of Lunsford's religious character. It will be seen that he was a man of a deeply religious nature; his piety was ardent and sincere, but he had to encounter many things which in a person of weaker mind and less natural reverence for holy things, would have made him reckless and defiant of all efforts at his improvement. In religious matters he chose to be free, and nobly did he vindicate in his life the religion of his Saviour, in his efforts to impress the precepts of the Bible upon his brethren in bonds. He had never in his youth been permitted to learn to read, but the habit of close attention to all he heard and a
wonderfully retentive memory enabled him to lay up a valuable store of learning. He had a ready and easy way of conveying his thoughts to others, and soon became a recognized leader in the religious meetings of the slaves and the free colored people of Raleigh. Speaking of these early opportunities of religious improvement, he says, "I was permitted to attend church, and this I esteemed a great blessing; it was there I received much instruction, which I trust was of great benefit to me. I trusted, too, that I had experienced the renewing influences of divine grace; I looked upon myself as a great sinner before God, and upon the doctrine of the great atonement through the suffering and death of the Saviour as the source of continual joy to my heart. After obtaining from my mistress a written permit, a thing always required in such cases, I had been baptized, and received into fellowship with the Baptist denomination. Thus in religious matters, I had been indulged in the exercise of my own conscience; this was a favor not always granted to slaves. There was one hard doctrine, to which we, as slaves, were frequently compelled to listen, which I found difficult to receive. We were often told by the minister how much we owed to God in bringing us over from the benighted shores of Africa, and permitting us to listen to the sound of the gospel. In ignorance of any special revelation that God had made to master, or to his ancestors, that my ancestors should be stolen and enslaved on the soil of America, to accomplish their salvation, I was slow to believe all that my teacher enjoined on this subject. How surprising, then, this high moral end
being accomplished, that no proclamation of emancipation had before this been made! Many of us were as highly civilized as some of our masters, and as to piety, in many instances their superiors.
"I was rather disposed to believe that God had originally granted me temporal freedom, which wicked men had forcibly taken from me,--which now I had been compelled to purchase at great cost.
"I often heard select portions of the Scriptures read in our social meetings and comments made upon them. On Sunday we always had one sermon prepared expressly for the colored people, which it was generally my privilege to hear. So great was the similarity of the texts that they wore always fresh in my memory: 'Servants, be obedient to Your masters''--'not with eye-service, as men-pleasers.' 'He that knoweth his master's will and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes;' and some others of this class. Similar passages, with but few exceptions, formed the basis of most of these public instructions. The first commandment was to obey our masters, and the second like unto it: labor as faithfully when they or the overseers were not watching, as when they were. I will not do them the injustice to say that connected with these instructions there was not mingled much that was excellent.
"There was one very kind-hearted clergyman whom I used often to hear; he was very popular with the colored people. But after he had preached a sermon to us in which he argued from the Bible that it was the will of Heaven from all eternity that we should be slaves, and our masters be our owners, many of us left him, considering,
like the doubting disciple of old, 'This is a hard saying, who can hear it?' "
This whole argument of the divine right to enslave the African race has been so often refuted, and is so much opposed to the instincts of our nature, and to the fundamental rights of every human being, that we do not feel it necessary to consume much of the reader's time in its discussion. It maybe well, perhaps, to refer to some very judicious remarks made upon this subject by an honored son of North Carolina, who was at one time professor in the University of the State, at Chapel Hill. Holding sentiments on the subject of slavery which could not be tolerated, he secured his personal safety by removing from the State. His work on the Impending Crises, by its large circulation, has done much toward arousing the people to consider the stupendous wrong and infamy of slavery. "Every person," he observes, "who has read the Bible, and who has a proper understanding of its leading moral precepts, feels in his own conscience, that it is the only original and complete anti-slavery text-book. In a crude state of society--in a barbarous age, when men were in a manner destitute of wholesome laws, either human or divine,--it is possible that a mild form of slavery may have been tolerated, and even regarded as an institution clothed with the importance of temporary recognition. But the Deity never approved it, and, for the very reason that it is impossible for him to do wrong, he never will, he never can approve it."
The worst system of servitude of which we have any account in the Bible--and, by the way, it furnishes no
account of anything so bad as slavery--was far less rigorous and atrocious than that now established in the Southern States of this confederacy. Even that system, however, the worst which seems to have been practised to a considerable extent by those ancient patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was one of the monstrous inventions of Satan, that God winked at, and to the mind of the biblical scholar nothing can be more evident than that he determined of old that it should in due time be abolished.
To say that the Bible sanctions slavery is to say that the sun loves darkness; to say that one man was created to domineer over another is to call in question the justice, mercy, and goodness of God.
We will now listen to a limited number of the precepts and sayings of the Old Testament:--
"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof!"
"Let the oppressed go free!"
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
"Thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty, but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor."
"The wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning."
"Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways."
"Execute judgment and justice, take away your exaction from my people, saith the Lord God."
"Do justice to the afflicted and needy, rid them out of the hand of the wicked."
"Therefore, thus saith the Lord, Ye have not hearkened unto me it, proclaiming liberty every one to his brother, every man to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence, to the famine, and I will make you to be renowned in all the kingdoms of the earth."
"He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death."
"Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry, and shall not be heard."
"He that oppresseth the poor, reproacheth his Maker."
"I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts."
We select a few precepts and sayings from the New Testament:--
"Call no man master, neither be ye called master."
"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them."
"Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another."
"Do good to all men as ye have opportunity."
"If thou mayest be made free, use it rather."
"The laborer is worthy of his hire."
But to return to our narrative. Besides these religious privileges enjoyed by Lunsford, he had some dear friends among the better informed and religious people
of Raleigh, who were looking with interest at his struggles to release himself from bondage. Some even went so far as to offer him words of cheer, hoping that the time would come when his wife and children might enjoy the same blessings. The Rev. Dr. Heath, of the Presbyterian Church, he found a true friend to the colored race. Himself originally from Virginia, where he once owned a largo number of slaves, as a humane man he sought to free them; but as this could not be effected, owing to legal difficulties, he colonized them in Africa, furnishing them with a liberal outfit. This divine, who afterwards is known through the Northern States as one of the most eloquent of all the advocates of the temperance reform, we shall notice particularly. At the time of which we are speaking, he was just beginning to rise into public favor by his pulpit eloquence. He had several years before abandoned his calling as planter for the sacred office of the ministry. He was called to the pastorate of the First Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, chiefly on the ground of his faithfulness and eloquence as a divine. He had a well-educated congregation, but most of them were slave-holders. His having freed his own slaves was a suspicions circumstance to those who were disposed to find fault with his close sermons to musters, for he was a bold man, and did not hesitate to reprimand any injustice practised by the master toward his slaves. He was free to express his views to some of his parishioners that slavery was demoralizing in its influence, and the responsibility of its continuance was fearfully great. His personal efforts at elevating the race he evinced by
retaining two men-servants in his household as waiter and driver. Lunsford had often seen these men sitting in the study of Dr. Heath, perusing his books, and thus cultivating their minds and securing useful knowledge. These men had been emancipated, and were so strongly attached to their former master that they had no disposition to leave him.
Among the visitors to his house was Col. Polk, a large owner of slaves. He had but lately despatched a large colony to Tennessee, where he had purchased a plantation for his son. Feeling in some doubt as to the doctor's soundness upon the institution, he took an early opportunity to open a conversation which would be satisfactory to his own mind, and perhaps quiet the minds of other members of the congregation who were troubled like himself. So deep was the hold which their pastor had upon his flock that they would tolerate a degree of freedom of expression on this subject that would in all probability subject a stranger from the North to immediate tar and feathers, and perhaps hanging.
The colonel, on calling, opened the conversation cautiously.
"I perceive, doctor, that you have been perusing the late work of De Tocqueville on Democracy in America." The volume was lying open upon his centre-table, apparently about half read. "I am glad that an American publisher has been found to give to the world an edition so creditably executed. I doubt if the English edition is much better."
"Yes, sir; the art of printing is making rapid
advances in America, and I hope soon that we shall be entirely emancipated from all our notions of English superiority, especially in the art of printing."
"But, doctor, although I have heard much of this great work of De Tocqueville, I have never had the time to peruse a page; my information is wholly derived from certain criticisms which I have seen in the papers. I understand he does not speak very favorably of our Southern institutions. He makes some strictures that are quite distasteful, I find. If you have the time, I should be glad to have you give me some account of what you have read so far."
The doctor, thinking this a fine opportunity of imparting correct views upon the fundamental principles of a true democracy, which, in his own view contained no such discordant principle as chattel slavery, was quite willing to comply with his request.
"De Tocqueville, in his first chapter, begins by sketching the history of American civilization. He declares that it exhibits none of that mythological obscurity which pertains to the history and origin of almost all former people. It was commenced in the full blaze of the revived learning of all Europe. The philosophical historians of England, France, and Germany may sit down to the study of our annals with a certainty of understanding all the facts pertaining to our most intimate social life. If nothing satisfactory can be ascertained as to the fundamental causes and principles of the ancient democracies, no such obscurity is to be found here. All the phenomena attending our origin and settlement are matters of very minute record by the founders
themselves. This is owing, in some measure, to their having started in their career after the revival of learning, and after the Art of printing was discovered.
"He begins his examination of our social and political state with the very just remark, which I will read, 'Providence has given us a torch which our forefathers did not possess, and has allowed us to discern fundamental mental causes in the history of the world which the obscurity of the past obscures from us.' The value of these studies he considers of great importance in reviewing the past. Many things heretofore obscure are now luminous with meaning. Whether other writers will find them of as great importance as he estimates them, remains to be seen. He declares, 'If we can fully examine the social and political history of America after having studied its history, we shall remain perfectly convinced that not an opinion, not a custom, not a law, I may say not an event is upon record which the origin of that people will not explain.' He next proceeds to speak of some of the elements pertaining to the settlement of the different colonies. Some of these circumstances are alike; but in many very important particulars dissimilar and inharmonious. 'The colonies are mostly of the English race and speak that language. In the North they establish a true democracy; in the South, unfortunately for succeeding generations, they have not yet lost all love of an aristocracy,--landed proprietors with their retinue's of slaves. The Pilgrims came to promote education, religion, and establish freedom. Social equality was the initial principle of the rising State; labor was the lot of all, and honorable in
all. How different were the facts pertaining to Southern settlements. The men sent to Virginia were seekers of gold, adventurers without resources and without character, whose turbulent and restless spirits endangered the infant colony, and rendered its progress uncertain. The artisans and agriculturists arrived afterwards; and although they were a more moral and orderly race of men, they were nowise above the level of the inferior classes in England. No lofty conceptions, no intellectual system directed the foundation of these new settlements. The colony was scarcely established when slavery was introduced, and this was the main circumstance which has exercised so prodigious an influence on the character, the laws, and all the future prospects of the South.'"
The colonel, who had listened with close attention to the last few sentences, while admitting mentally the truthfulness of the description, interposed a word of comment.
"If this be true, and our civilization is to become homogeneous, I can see no escape from a terrible and protracted contest in the future, unless, indeed, the South becomes a distinct confederacy, which might be effected by peaceable means."
"The severe justice of the Puritan character, to say nothing of the great interests of humanity, both in Europe and America, which would be involved, would not admit of so peaceable a separation as you and I might desire," replied the doctor. "De Tocqueville in maintaining these statements quotes largely from contemporaneous history, and also from subsequent records. He
refers to the work of Wm. Stith, who was, I believe the first
president of William and Mary College, at Williamsburg, Va.* * This institution has been disbanded, and the town almost destroyed by the tramp
of armed hosts in the present war for the perpetuity of the Union. Its inhabitants are scattered, and its strong men slain in battle.
He was the author of a history of the first discovery and settlement of Virginia. He died in 1750. He says that a large portion of the adventurers were unprincipled young men of family whom their parents were glad to ship off, discharged servants, fraudulent bankrupts, and debauchees, and others of the same class,--people more apt to pillage and destroy than to assist the settlement, and were the seditious chiefs who easily led this band in every kind of extravagance and excess." These statements are confirmed by the testimony of Smith and Beverly. The chief element of their decaying civilization was unfortunately introduced in 1620 by a Dutch vessel, which landed twenty negroes on the banks of the James.
* This institution has been disbanded, and the town almost destroyed by the tramp of armed hosts in the present war for the perpetuity of the Union. Its inhabitants are scattered, and its strong men slain in battle.
The reader can see, in the light of the present rebellion, which is in progress while we write, the truthfulness of De Tocqueville in his reasonings on this subject, to which this proud Southerner was compelled to listen, who was no less a personage than the father of that distinguished champion of Southern rights, Major Gen. Leonidas Polk, of the release of whose slaves, in Tennessee we have lately had intelligence.
"'Slavery,'" continued the doctor, quoting De Tocqueville, "'as we shall afterwards show, dishonors labor; it introduces idleness into society, and with idleness, ignorance and pride, luxury and distress; it enervates
the powers of the mind, and benumbs the activities of man.
The influence of slavery, united to English character, explains
the manners and social condition of the Southern States.' It
was not until some time after their first settlement in Virginia
that a few rich English capitalists came to fix themselves in the
colony.* * See De Tocqueville, chap. ii. (notes).
* See De Tocqueville, chap. ii. (notes).
"In entire contrast to these circumstances, he notices,
particularly, the history of the founding of the New England
colonies. In his first chapter, he had noticed at some length
the differences of soil and climate, both greatly favoring the
South. The foundation of New England was a novel spectacle,
and all the circumstances attending it were singular and
original. The large majority of the other colonies, in the Old
and New World, have been first inhabited, either by men
without education and without resources, driven by their
poverty and their misconduct from the land which gave them
birth, or by speculators and adventurers, greedy of gain. Some
settlements cannot even boast so honorable an origin. St.
Domingo was founded by buccaneers, and, at the present
day, the criminal courts of England supply the population of
Australia.** ** The tide of this class of people which is
being turned upon our shores will most surely workout the most unhappy
consequences. Some of the bitter fruits we are now reaping.
The settlers who established themselves on the shores of New England all belonged to the more independent classes of their native country. Their union on the soil of America at once presented one singular phenomenon of a society containing neither lords nor common
** The tide of this class of people which is being turned upon our shores will most surely workout the most unhappy consequences. Some of the bitter fruits we are now reaping.
people, neither rich nor poor. These men possessed in proportion to their number a greater mass of intelligence than is to be found in any European nation of our own time. All, without a single exception, had received a good education; many of them were known in Europe for their talents and their acquirements. The other colonies have been founded by adventurers, without family; the emigrants of Now England brought with them the best elements of good order and morality. They landed in the desert, accompanied by their wives and children. But what most especially distinguished them was the aim of their undertaking. They had not been obliged by necessity to leave their country; the social position they abandoned was one to be regretted, and their means of subsistence were certain. Nor did they cross the Atlantic to improve their situation or to increase their wealth. The call which summoned them from the comforts of their homes was purely intellectual, and in facing the inevitable sufferings of exile, their object was the triumph of a great idea.
"When," continued the doctor, "the author comes to the annals left us by these heavenly-minded men, the account of their own intentions, the humanity which marked every moment, he is awe-struck at the wonderful providences which attended them and preserved them alive amid all their disasters. They came, led by an unseen hand, to secure a home in the wilderness of America, where they might freely worship God, and begin a new civilization, founded in the virtue, intelligence, and equality of its people.
"They started in their frail vessels for the shores of the Hudson, but the winds and the storm wafted them to Plymouth rock. He sees, even in the sacredness with which their descendants regard this rock, an evidence of the grandeur of their ideas. 'I have seen,' he remarks, 'bits of it carefully preserved, in several towns of the Union. Does not this sufficiently show that all human power and greatness is in the soul of that man? Here is a stone which the feet of a few outcasts pressed for an instant, and this stone becomes famous; it is treasured by a great nation; its very dust is shared as a relic. And what is become of the gateways of a thousand palaces?' In his further study of those singular people, he does not find them given to wild speculations as to the mode of living, but their first act is to combine themselves into a community, and subject themselves to a written constitution,--a covenant for their mutual security and good order. They even acknowledge among themselves in the first written expression of their opinions, as the 'legal subjects of their dead sovereign, Lord King James.' The population of New England increased rapidly, and while the hierarchy of rank despotically classed the inhabitants of the mother country, the colony continued to present the novel spectacle of a community homogeneous in all its parts. A democracy, more perfect than any which antiquity had dreamed of, started in full blaze and panoply from the midst of an ancient feudal society. I doubt not," said Dr. H., in concluding his remarks on De Tocqueveille, "that the English government was glad to be relieved of the discordant elements of her society, and
was pleased to allow the infant colonies the enjoyment and development of their own wild dreams of a new state. The policy of Great Britain was to allow their ideas the freest and fullest scope, assured that if any good came of them, her superior power and ownership of the territory would in the end only add to her greatness." During all this time the doctor had carefully abstained from making any comments upon the views of De Tocqueville, and was willing to allow the truths which his friend had received to produce their own fruit. He could not be certain that the seed was sown, into good ground. His personal interest in the institution was very great, and mere argument, however powerful, would effect but little. As the colonel went into the hall, and was about to leave, they met Lunsford, who had called upon an errand. "Ah, Lunsford, I am glad to see you. I suppose we are to have another happy free negro in our midst, to make our happy slaves all unhappy. I hope you will have the good sense to use your liberty as not abusing it. Have you heard anything of my man Solomon?" "Yes, master; he returned from Tarboro' last night, and says he has found a master for his wife, and he is ready to take her away as soon as you will allow him." The colonel, turning to the doctor, said, "Here, I suppose, is what those Northern abolitionists will call one of the beauties of our institution. You know I have lately purchased a plantation in Tennessee for my son Leonidas, and I have found some difficulty in getting some of my best servants to consent to a separation from their families, especially the men. It seems that Solomon and his
wife came from the neighborhood of Tarboro', where they have a number of children, owned upon plantations near each other. The distance from here is not so great that they cannot occasionally visit them and look after their comfort, though I have no doubt they are well enough off. I found Solomon willing to leave his wife, provided he could find her a master near her children. I permitted him to go in pursuit of the object, naming a moderate price for his wife. Lunsford, here, tells me he has succeeded, and returned last evening." "Well, colonel, in addition to all this, do you really contemplate sending Solomon to join your negro colony in Tennessee. Of course he will never see his wife again." "I do not see how I can do otherwise; he is one of the most valuable hands in the gang." "I must confess," rejoined the doctor, as the colonel left the door-step, "I would not undertake your fearful responsibility for the wealth of an the slaves in the South."
The sequel to Solomon's history is as follows:--After seeing his wife comfortably sold upon a plantation near his children, he starts for Tennessee with several other hands, under the care of an overseer. The deep grief that preyed upon his heart gave him rest neither day nor night. The slave had a deep and abiding attachment to his wife and children. Upon the third night out, he left the overseer at a moment when he was off his guard, and made his way to Tarboro'. He concealed himself in the swamps for over a year, visiting his wife and children at night. Finally his master (the colonel)
sent word to his family that if Solomon would find a new master in Edgecomb County, or in Tarboro', he would consent to dispose of him. The sale was soon arranged, and he was thus restored to his family, and ever remained a most orderly and faithful slave.
"Shall tongues be mute when deeds an wrought
Which well might shame extremest hell?
Shall freemen lock the indignant thought?
Shall Pity's bosom cease to swell?
Shall Honor bleed? Shall Truth succumb?
Shall pen and press and soul be dumb? . . . . . . . . .
No! guided by our country's laws,
For truth and right and suffering man,
Be ours to strive in Freedom's cause
As Christians may, as freemen can,
Still pouring on unwilling ears
That truth oppression only fears."
HIS CONTINUED PROSPERITY--NEGOTIATES FOR THE PURCHASE OF WIFE AND CHILDREN--DARK DAYS--THE SLAVEHOLDER ON HIS TRACK--THE CRUEL STATUTE--PETITIONS THE LEGISLATURE--FAILS IN OBTAINING MERCY--DARKER DAYS.
LUNSFORD now began to rise steadily in the estimation of all the better classes in the community. His consistent religious life, his honesty and attention to business, and his great industry in procuring his freedom, all combined to create a real respect for man. A few among the poorer white people were jealous of the attentions paid him, and took frequent occasion to taunt him with being only a "nigger, after all." His manumission having now been secured, and legally recorded in a free State, he felt a degree of personal security. "The bill of sale simply conveyed me to Mr. Smith, though the purchase was made through the labor of my own hands. I knew there were many who would gladly see me a slave again, but I had
friends of influence who would not see me wronged if they could prevent it." He soon enlarged his business. To his tobacco and pipes he added a small trade in a variety of articles. "My customers were not only among the slaves and the free people of color, but many of my friends among the white population sent to my shop for articles needed. As my little means increased, I entered into a considerable business in firewood, which I purchased by the acre standing, cut it, hauled it, into the city and deposited it in a yard, and sold it out as I advantageously could. To facilitate this increasing business, I kept one or two horses and various vehicle, by which I was enabled to do a variety of work at trucking about town. I had even to hire more or less help in these busy operations. In the manufacture of tobacco I met with considerable competition, but none that materially injured me. The method of preparing it having originated with me and my father, we found it necessary, in order to secure the advantage of the invention, to keep it to ourselves, and decline, though often solicited, going into partnership with others. Those who undertook the manufacture could neither give the article a flavor as pleasant as ours, nor manufacture it so cheaply; so they either failed in it, or succeeded but poorly. With these increasing evidences of prosperity, I felt truly grateful to a kind Providence that had made my condition to differ so greatly from that of thousands of my fellow-beings in bonds, many of them compelled to languish out a miserable existence upon the plantations, especially those upon the unhealthy lowlands of the Neuse and other streams.
The visitors at my shop in the evening, after their day's toil was completed, had sad stories of wrongs endured by themselves or friends. Aware of our utter powerlessness in removing these evils, we were cautious in our words, and in our deportment toward our superiors. Any attempt at resistance would bring certain and immediate destruction. Besides, we had seen the attempt fail, and we were not anxious to put our necks in the halter. For myself, now, if ever, I needed wisdom to guide my steps aright, and to avoid the least suspicion of discontent, or of a desire to create uneasiness in others. Among the callers at my shop was a free negro by the name of George Lowrey, the former slave of Wiles Jones, of Halifax, N. C. More than twenty-five years previously he had been sold South, and, after over twenty years' service, succeeds, by his industry and good conduct, in purchasing his freedom, and returns to Raleigh, where he spends the remainder of his days among his friends and relatives. His case was a rare one, and of course excited considerable interest among slaves liable to a similar fate. His story of the wrongs which he had witnessed upon Southern plantations made a deep impression upon my mind, and produced a salutary dread of a calamity so great. He described the cruelty practised toward women as great in the extreme. Having no desire for the natural increase, as in the slave-breeding States, the women are forced into the fields under circumstances when their offspring are almost certain to perish from neglect. The term of life among field hands is not expected to be long, and the most rapid use of bone and muscle in the busy season is far the most economical!
But George Lowrey had been endowed by Providence with strong hands, a good disposition, and withal, a religious nature, which commended him to the kind consideration of his master; and after years of most faithful service, he purchases his freedom, and spends the remainder of his days as a preacher of righteousness to his race in Raleigh. To show the shrewd spirit which sometimes animates the slave in securing the good-will of his master,--for this is his only hope of securing favors,--without intending to approve of the motive in the incident, we relate the following:--One evening, Derby, a slave belonging to Mr. Haywood, the State Treasurer, called, and while talking about the funeral solemnities of the late Secretary White, who had held that office for many years, and was greatly respected throughout the State, he remarked that the family seemed greatly pleased at his having voluntarily placed crape upon his hat, as was the custom at the South; they thought it evinced great consideration for the family and friends, and for which he deserved great praise. Derby remarked that he was afraid his motive had been misinterpreted, for he would be glad to have kept it upon his hat until they were all as decently placed beneath the sod as Secretary White, if that would aid him in securing his freedom.
Lunsford, feeling now a degree of security, began to think of a permanent settlement in Raleigh, and the securing of a home for his wife and children. For this purpose he purchases a house and lot on Argate Street. for which he paid $500. It was not long after obtaining his own freedom before he began seriously to think
about purchasing the freedom of his family. His first plan was to purchase his wife, and that they should jointly labor to obtain the freedom of the children, as they were able, after the first object had been accomplished. With this idea he approached Mr. Smith, but became almost discouraged when he found that his wife's master refused to sell her to him for less than one thousand dollars, which then appeared too large a sum to raise. This depression, however, was not of long continuance; he determined at all events not to be baffled in his efforts to secure the freedom of the entire family. Summoning resolution, be went to Mr. Smith to learn his price, which he placed at the very modest sum of three thousand dollars, for his wife and six children,--the number to which his family had grown. "This seemed in my eyes a large amount, for several reasons; first, because it was a great sum for me to raise; it involved the sacrifice of every penny's worth of property I had in the world, in addition to other years of toil. Second, I know the price Mr. Smith had paid for my wife and TWO children, which was only five hundred and sixty dollars. He had, since the purchase, received their labor, while I had almost entirely supported them, both as to food and clothing. By every rule of justice I was certainly entitled to the pecuniary benefit I had thus conferred upon him, as well as upon my family. The case seemed indeed a hard one; but I felt I was entirely in his power and must do the best I could. At length he concluded, influenced by the representations and persuasions of my friends, to sell the family for two thousand five hundred
dollars. I represented to him my great desire to see them free; but he contended to the last that they were worth the amount he had first named. Possibly he may have thought that, at that time, they would have brought that sum if sold for the Southern market. Having agreed to this arrangement, I gave Mr. Smith five notes of five hundred dollars each, the first coming due in January, 1840, and one in January of each succeeding year. My family were thus transferred into my own possession, with a written obligation to give me a bill of sale when I should pay the notes. We now, to our exceeding great joy, found ourselves living in our own house,--one which I had purchased, as stated above. This was in January, 1839. So excessive was the joy and excitement of my wife, in her new and happy relation, and in transferring her effects to the new home, that she was quite ill for some time. I said to her, that her case reminded me of a poor shoemaker, somewhere in that State, who purchased a ticket in the lottery (this is another delightful Southern institution), but not expecting to draw, the fact of his having purchased it had passed out of his mind. But one day, as he was at work at his last, he was informed that his ticket had drawn the liberal prize of ten thousand dollars; and the poor man was so overjoyed that he fell back on his seat and expired.
"Who can tell the joy of a family thus reunited, and in freedom, permitted, under their own vine and fig-tree free, to offer up to a God of loving-kindness the grateful incense of humble hearts? We had received good at his hands, and we felt unwilling to withhold from
him the praise. It is true the great work of our liberation was not yet completed, yet we had health and strength, and a disposition to labor; we had also a few friends, and we cared not to inquire about enemies. Thus things were happily proceeding, little dreaming of the storm that was about to break over our quiet home, and perhaps put out, in darkness, the hope of years. It will be remembered that my emancipation had been legally secured only by going to the State of New York, and having the evidence of my right to freedom placed on record there. My secret enemies in Raleigh reasoned that I must hereafter be looked upon as a free negro, from another State. The first intimation I had of any plot against my happiness was in September, 1840. As I was passing along the street one day, engaged in my business, an officer handed me the following note, saying, 'Read it, or if you cannot read, get some white man to read it to you.' It was as follows. It is given verbatim et literatim:--
To Lunsford Lane, a free man of color.
'Take notice, that whereas complaint has been made to us, two Justices of the Peace, for the County of Wake and State of North Carolina, that you are a free negro from another State, who has migrated into this State, contrary to the provisions of the act of Assembly concerning free negros and mulattoes; now notice is given you that unless you leave and remove out of this State, within twenty days, that you will be proceeded against for the penalty prescribed by said act of Assembly, and be otherwise dealt with as the law directs.
Given under our hands and seals this 5th day of September, 1840.
JORDAN WOMBLE J. P., (Seal.)
WILLIS SCOTT, J. P. (Seal.)'
"This was a terrible blow to me, for it prostrated at once all my hopes, in the cherished object of obtaining freedom of my family, and I looked upon nothing but separation from them forever. This blow I knew had come from the lowest class in the community,--the poor, degraded white man, who looks with jealousy upon every effort of the negro to elevate himself. They knew, too, I had a few friends among the most wealthy and cultivated people in town, and they did not relish the attentions paid me. In order that the reader may understand the ground for serving the foregoing notice, it may be well to refer to the law of the State under which it was issued. In the Revised Statutes of North Carolina, Chap. 111, Sec. 65, it is written: 'It shall not be lawful for any free negro or mulatto to migrate into this State; and if he or she shall do so, contrary to the provisions of this act, and being thereof informed, shall not, within twenty days thereafter, remove out of the State, he or she, being thereof convicted in the manner hereinafter directed, shall be liable to a penalty of five hundred dollars; and upon failure to pay the same, within the time prescribed in the judgment awarded against such person or persons, he or she shall be liable to be held in servitude, and at labor, a term of time not exceeding ten years, in such manner and upon such terms as may be provided by the court awarding such
sentence, and the proceeds arising therefrom shall be paid over to the county trustee for county purposes. Provided, that in case any free negro or mulatto shall pay the penalty of five hundred dollars, according to the provisions of this act, it shall be the duty of such free negro or mulatto to remove him or herself out of this State within twenty days thereafter, and for every such failure, he or she shall be subject to the like penalty, as prescribed for a failure to remove in the first instance.' The next section provides 'that if the free person of color, so notified, does not leave within the twenty days after receiving the notice, he may be arrested on a warrant from any Justice, and be held to bail for his appearance at the next county court, where he will be subject to the penalties specified above; or, in case of his failure to give bonds, he may be sent to jail.'
"I hastened to make known my situation to my friends, and after taking legal advice, it was determined to induce, if possible, the complainants to prosecute no farther for the present, and then, as the Legislature of the State was to sit in about two months, to petition that body for permission to remain in the State until I could complete the purchase of my family, after which I was willing, if necessary, to leave."
One circumstance, which has not yet been mentioned, gave Lunsford Lane considerable influence in town and among a few of the better informed. For several years previous to the event above stated, he had been employed in the office of the governor of the State, sometimes acting under the direction of the governor, but principally
under his private secretary. His duties were no laborious, but required intelligence and honesty. He was required to keep the office in order, see that papers and documents were in their proper place, to attend the post-office and the carrying of messages and papers to and from the different offices in the State House. He also placed the seal of State to documents that had been signed by the governor. "This circumstance, with the fact of the high standing in the city of my former master's family, and of the former masters of my wife, gave me the friendship of the first people in the State, many of whom, from the time of my being called to this position, acted toward me a friendly part. I had served in this relation during the whole term of Gov. Dudley, and during six months of Gov. Morehead's time. At the period now alluded to, and when I was in so great distress at the singular course affairs had taken, I was acting under the direction of Mr. Battle, then secretary of Gov. Dudley. I immediately went to him and stated my grievances, and the determination of my enemies that I should be driven from the State. He evinced great interest in my case, and addressed the following note in my behalf to Geo. W. Haywood, Esq., the prosecuting attorney:--
'RALEIGH, Nov 3, 1840.
'DEAR SIR: Lunsford Lane, a free man of color, has been in the employ of the State under me since my entrance on my present situation. I understand that under a law of the State he has been notified to leave, and that the time is now at hand. In the discharge of the
duties I had from him, I have found him prompt, obedient, and faithful. At this particular time, his absence to me would be much regretted, as I am now just fixing up my books and other papers in the new office, and shall not have time to learn another what he can already do so well. With me, the period of the Legislature is a very busy one, and I am compelled to have a servant who understands the business I want done, and one I can trust. I would not wish to be an obstacle in the execution of any law; but the enforcing of the one against him will be doing me a serious inconvenience; and the object of this letter is to ascertain whether I could not procure a suspension of the sentence till after the adjournment of the Legislature,--say about the first of January, 1841. I should feel no hesitation in giving my word that he will conduct himself orderly and obediently.
'I am, most respectfully,
'Your obedient servant,
'C. C. BATTLE.'To G. W. HAYWOOD, Esq.,
"To the above letter, the following reply was made:
'RALEIGH, Nov. 2, 1840.
'MY DEAR SIR: I have no objection, so far as I am concerned, that all further proceedings against Lunsford should be postponed until after the adjournment of the Legislature. The process now out against him is one issued by two magistrates, Messrs. Willis Scott and Jordan Womble, over which I have no control. You
had better see them to-day, and, perhaps at your request, they will delay further action on the subject.
'GEO. W. HAYWOOD.'
"Mr. Battle then enclosed the foregoing correspondence to Messrs. Scott and Womble, requesting their favorable consideration. They returned the notes; but made no reply. In consequence, no doubt, of this action on the part of my friends, I was permitted to remain without further interruption, until the day the Legislature commenced its session. On that day a warrant was served upon me to appear before the county court, to answer for the sin of having remained in the place of my birth for the space of twenty days and more after being warned to leave. I escaped going to jail only through the kindness of my former master's son, Mr. Haywood, and Mr. Smith, who jointly became security for my appearance at court. This occurred on Monday; and on Wednesday I appeared before the court; but as my prosecutors were not ready for trial, the case was laid over three months, to the next term. I hoped that the decided stand taken by my friends had, for the present, at least, driven off these emissaries of the slave-power, who were seeking my ruin.
"Having taken advice, I determined to present a petition to the Legislature, as strongly fortified as possible by the signatures of respectable men in town. It required much persistent labor and persuasion on my part to start it; but, after that, I readily obtained the signatures of the principal men of influence. I then
went round to the members of the Legislature, many of
whom were known to me, calling upon them at their rooms,
and urging them to support my petition, for my sake, for
humanity's sake, for the sake of my wife and the little ones
whose hopes were bound up in my fate, and who had been
excited by the idea that they were even now free. I desired to
remain only sufficient time in the State to secure their
freedom. I was now doing a good business, and to break up
everything now, I looked upon as a great disaster, to say
nothing of the blasted hopes of wife and children. If they
would allow me to do this, then, if it was desired, we would
together seek a more friendly home, beyond the dominion of
slavery." I subjoin in the note the petition as signed and
presented to the Legislature.* Gentlemen: The petition of Lunsford Lane humbly shows that about five years ago he purchased his freedom from his mistress, Mrs. Sherwood Haywood, and by great economy and industry has paid the purchase money; that he has a wife and seven children whom he has agreed to purchase, and for whom he has paid part of the purchase money; but not having paid in full, is not
yet able to leave the State without parting with his wife and children. Your petitioner prays your honorable body to pass a law allowing him to remain a limited time within the State, until he can remove his family also. Your petitioner will give bond and good security for his good behavior while
he remains. Your petitioner will ever pray, etc. LUNSFORD LANE. Charles Manley, R. W. Haywood,
* TO THE HONORABLE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA:
Fabius J. Haywood,
D. W. Stone,
A. J. Battle,
W. A. Stith,
A. B. Stith,
John J. Christophers,
Alex. J. Lawrence,
B. L. Hinton,
Gentlemen: The petition of Lunsford Lane humbly shows that about five years ago he purchased his freedom from his mistress, Mrs. Sherwood Haywood, and by great economy and industry has paid the purchase money; that he has a wife and seven children whom he has agreed to purchase, and for whom he has paid part of the purchase money; but not having paid in full, is not yet able to leave the State without parting with his wife and children. Your petitioner prays your honorable body to pass a law allowing him to remain a limited time within the State, until he can remove his family also. Your petitioner will give bond and good security for his good behavior while he remains.
Your petitioner will ever pray, etc.
LUNSFORD LANE.The undersigned are well acquainted with Lunsford Lane, the petitioner, and join in his petition to the Assembly for relief.
R. W. Haywood,
To which was added the following from Mr. Battles:--
Lunsford Line, the petitioner herein, has been servant to the Executive Office since the first of January 1837, and it gives me pleasure to state that during the whole time, without exception, I have found him faithful and obedient in keeping everything committed to his care in good condition. From what I have seen of his conduct and demeanor, I cheerfully join in the petition for his relief.
C. C. BATTLE,
Private Secretary to Gov. Dudley.
The writer has lived in the South a sufficient length of time to become familiar with the spirit which animates slave-holders, and their prejudice against the negro. We know that nothing but the respectable character of the petitioner, and the like character of ]its friends would have prevented them from looking upon the petition as an insult, and rejecting it with all disdain that the high-born aristocrats and lords of the soil could exhibit. But, being respectable, it deserved a better fate.
His petition was in due time presented to the Senate. It was referred to a committee. "I knew," he says, "when the committee was to report, and I watched about the State House, that I might receive the earliest news of my fate. I would like to have gone within the senate chamber, or at least into the vestibule, that I might know the interest manifested in my behalf. But no colored man is allowed that permission. I know not why, unless he may hear the eloquence of American freedom uttered by the lips of slave-holders."
Certainly there seems great inconsistency in our legislating slave-holders' proclaiming to all the world the groat boon of American freedom, and pointing the oppressed nations of Europe to the fair Goddess of Liberty, whilst their feet are firmly placed upon the necks of four million slaves. We may well account for the little influence that American civilization has had upon Europe in the past fifty years or more whilst the institution of slavery remains. It is destined to have less
and less while it continues.* * We commend to those who are indifferent one of the sweet "voices of freedom,"
by that champion of every good cause, whose earnest pleadings for the oppressed challenge our highest esteem.
(" The despotism which our fathers could not bear in their native country is
expiring, and the sword of Justice in her reformed hands has applied its exterminating edge to slavery. Shall the United States--the free United States, which could not bear the bonds of a king--cradle the bondage which a king is abolishing? Shall a republic be less free than a monarchy? Shall we, in the vigor and buoyancy of our manhood, be less energetic in righteousness than a kingdom in its age?"--Dr. Folland's Address.)
BY J. G. WHITTIER.
Our fellow-countrymen in chains!
Slaves--in a land of light and law!
Slaves--crouching on the very plains
Where rolled the storm of Freedom's war!
A groan from Eutaw's haunted wood,--
A wail where Camden's martyrs fell,
By every shrine of patriot blood,
From Moultrie's wall and Jasper's well!
By storied hill and hallowed grot,
By mossy wood and marshy green,
Whence rang of old the rifle shot,
And hurrying shout of Marion's men!
The groan of breaking hearts is there--
The falling lash--the fetter's clank!
Slaves--SLAVES are breathing in that air
Which old De Kalb and Sumter drank.
What ho!--OUR countrymen in chains!
The whip on WOMAN'S shrinking flesh!
Our soil yet reddening with the stains
Caught from her scourgings, warm and fresh!
What! Mothers from their children riven!
What! God's own image bought and sold!
AMERICANS to market driven,
And bartered as the brute for gold!
Speak! shall this agony of prayer
Come thrilling to our hearts in vain?
To us whose fathers scorned to bear
The paltry menace of a chain;
To us, whose boast is loud and long
Of holy Liberty and Light;
Say,--shall these writhing slaves of wrong,
Plead vainly for their plundered right?
What! shall we send, with lavish breath,
Our sympathies across the wave,
Where manhood on the field of death
Strikes for his freedom or a grave?
Shall prayers go up, and hymns be sung,
For Greece, the Moslem fetter spurning,
And millions hail, with pen and tongue,
OUR light on all her altars burning?
Shall Belgium feel, and gallant France,
By Vendome's pile, and Schoenburn's wall,
And Poland, gasping on her lance,
The impulse of our cheering call?
And shall the slave beneath our eye
Clank o'er our fields his hateful chain?
And toss his fettered arms on high,
And groan for freedom's gift in vain?
Oh, say, shall Prussia's banner be
A refuge for the stricken slave?
And shall the Russian serf go free
By Baikal's lake, and Neva's wave?
And shall the wintry-bosom Dane
Relax the iron band of pride,
And bid his bondsmen cast the chain
From fettered soul and limb aside?
Shall every flap of England's flag
Proclaim that all around are free,
From "farthest Ind" to each blue crag
That beetles o'er the western sea?
And shall we scoff at Europe kings,
When Freedom's fire is dim with us,
And round our country's altar clings
The damning shade of Slavery's curse?
Go!--let us ask of Constantine
To loose his grasp on Poland's throat;
And beg the lord of Mahmoud's line
To spare his struggling Sulioute.
Will not the scorching answer come
From turbaned Turk and scornful Russ:
"Go, loose your fettered slaves at home,
Then turn and ask the like of us!"
Just God! and shall we calmly rest,--
The Christian's scorn, the heathen's mirth,--
Content to live the lingering jest
And by-word of a mocking earth?
Shall our own glorious land retain
That curse which Europe scorns to bear?
Shall our own brethren drag the chain
Which not even Russia's menials wear?
Up, then, in Freedom's manly part,
From gray-beard eld to fiery youth,
And on the nation's naked heart
Scatter the living coals of Truth!
Up!--while ye slumber, deeper yet
The shadow of our fame is growing;
Up!--while ye pause, our sun may set
In blood around our altars flowing!
Oh, rouse ye, ere the storm comes forth,--
The gathered wrath of God and man,--
Like that which wasted Egypt's earth,
When hail and fire above it ran.
Hear ye no warnings in the air?
Feel ye no earthquake underneath?
Up, up! why will ye slumber where
The sleepers only wake in death?
Up NOW for Freedom!--not in strife
Like that your sterner fathers saw,--
The awful waste of human life,--
The glory and the guilt of war:
But break the chain, the yoke remove,
And smite to earth oppression's rod,
With those mild arms of Truth and Love,
Made mighty through the living God!
Down let the shrine of Moloch sink,
And leave no traces where it stood;
Nor longer let its idol drink
His daily cup of human blood;
But rear another altar there,
To Truth and Love and Mercy given,
And Freedom's gift and Freedom's prayer,
Shall call an answer down from Heaven!
Lunsford had greatly mistaken the temper of Southern men if he, not long since a SLAVE, expected much consideration at their hands. The presence and influence of an intelligent
* We commend to those who are indifferent one of the sweet "voices of freedom," by that champion of every good cause, whose earnest pleadings for the oppressed challenge our highest esteem.
(" The despotism which our fathers could not bear in their native country is expiring, and the sword of Justice in her reformed hands has applied its exterminating edge to slavery. Shall the United States--the free United States, which could not bear the bonds of a king--cradle the bondage which a king is abolishing? Shall a republic be less free than a monarchy? Shall we, in the vigor and buoyancy of our manhood, be less energetic in righteousness than a kingdom in its age?"--Dr. Folland's Address.)
free man of color, who had achieved his liberty through his own industry and wits, was a dangerous element in
their society. Here was a fitting opportunity to put an end to the efforts of these aspiring negroes, and they
did not hesitate to strike the blow. As Lunsford waited in the outer porch, a member came out, and, with an air of utter indifference to his feelings, and with a voice of merriment, even, he said,--
"WELL, LUNSFORD, THEY HAVE LAID YOU OUT; THE NIGGER BILL IS KILLED."
"Need I tell the reader what my feelings were, and how I regarded this honorable senator? To me, the fate of my petition was the last blow to my hopes. I had done all I could do, and said all I could say, laboring day and night, to obtain a favorable reception of my prayer; but all in vain. I had attributed to them tenderness of heart and mercy to the oppressed, where none existed. A few I knew were true, and spoke to me soothing words; but the power of the slave-holder had not been reached. Nothing now remained but that I must leave the State, and leave my wife and children, never more to see them. My friends had now done all they could and all they dared to do in my behalf. Is it strange that I asked myself why I was thus banished? I had, ever since obtaining my freedom, endeavored so to conduct myself as in no way to become obnoxious to the white inhabitants, knowing as I did their power and their hostility to the colored people. Two things I kept constantly in mind. First, to make no display of the
little property or money I possessed; but in every way I wore, as much as possible, the aspect of poverty. Secondly, I never appeared to know half so much as I really did. On no occasion did I seek to intrude my intelligence in my conversation with white people. This latter rule the people of my race in the South, both free and slave, find it peculiarly necessary, for their own comfort and safety, to observe. I should, perhaps, have mentioned, in the preceding account, that upon the same day I received the notice to leave Raleigh, similar notices had been served upon two other free colored persons who had been slaves, and who, like myself, were trying to purchase their families.
"It will be seen that the Legislature determined to make it clean sweep of this troublesome class of citizens. These persons took the same course I did to gain time to purchase their families: Isaac Hunter, who had a family of five children, and Walter Freeman, who had six children. Hunter's petition went in before mine, and a bill of some sort passed the senate, which was modified in the home, allowing him only TWENTY DAYS to leave the State. He as I learned, obtained the freedom of his family, and they are now living with him in Philadelphia. Freeman's petition received no better fate than mine. His family were the property of Judge Badger, who was afterward made a member of Mr. Harrison's cabinet. When Badger removed to Washington he took with him, among other slaves, this man and his family. Soon after, when Mr. Badger resigned his office, with the other members of the cabinet, under President Tyler, he entered into some kind of a
contract with Freeman, by which he could purchase his family. He was therefore left at Washington with his family, while Mr. B. took the rest of his slaves to Raleigh. Freeman, when last I heard from him, was endeavoring to raise money to complete the purchase.
"And still where'er to sun and breeze,
My country, is thy flag unrolled,
With scorn the gazing stranger sees
A stain on every fold.
"Ah, tear the gorgeous emblem down!
It gathers scorn from every eye,
And despots smile and good men frown
Whene'er it passes by.
"Shame! Shame! Its starry splendors glow
Above the slaver's loathsome jail,--
Its folds are ruffling even now
His crimson flag of sale."
NEW TRIALS--ARRESTED IN BALTIMORE BY KIDNAPPERS--HIS DEFENCE--TRIAL BEFORE JUSTICE SHANE--LAWYER WALCH--A FRIEND IN NEED &THE LAND-SHARKS LOSE THEIR PREY--A CONVERSATION ABOUT MATTERS OF FACT.
THE treatment which Lunsford had received at the hands of the Legislature is certainly surprising, when we consider all the circumstances. Men possessed with a spark of our common humanity would have given more attention to the prayer of an oppressed, man, especially one in his position. He had not even violated the letter of the law, for the statute was one concerning the "migration of free negroes and mulattoes into this State." This was his native State; here he was born, and lived, and here he hoped to spend the remainder of his days; but the law did not even permit him to purchase his freedom; in no way, except on the ground of some "meritorious conduct," could this
precious boon be conferred, and this must be done by a special act of the Legislature. He was therefore compelled to go to New York to secure this God-given right, which, by the hands of wicked men, had been wrested from him. Lunsford had always conducted himself with great caution in his intercourse with the people of his race; he was respected by some of the best members of the community. He had, by the labor of his own hands, acquired one thousand dollars for his own freedom, besides paying his mistress the full value of a slave's labor. Whilst he was accumulating this sum, he was employed by the governors at the State House in a position of responsibility, and, according to the statement of the private Secretary of State (Mr. Battle), his services were invaluable, and could not easily be replaced by another so trustworthy. In the midst of this state of things, whilst seeking to purchase the freedom of his wife and children, he is ordered to leave the State and all his affairs in twenty days. It was evident, that, for some reason, he was a dangerous man in the community; not that he had violated any law, but he was too aspiring in his notions; he would form too brilliant an example to the slave population in Raleigh. They might be fired to imitate his industry and perseverance, even under the crushing and discouraging weight of slavery. To preserve the institution intact, every such example of heroism and success under great difficulties must be removed; their frequent occurrence would cause nothing but disaster. But the difficulties interposed between himself and freedom were not to end here. Finding that
there was still some time--nearly three months--before the next session of the court, he determines to visit his friends in Philadelphia and New York, whose acquaintance he had made while on the visit with Mr. Smith; his object being to ascertain if any assistance could be obtained toward completing the purchase. He could do it unaided, had he only time; but the cruel law left him no alternative; aid must be obtained front some source, or final separation from his family must inevitably follow. Putting into his carpet-bag such things as he needed for the journey, he started, accompanied by a free negro, John Jones, a former slave of Governor D. S. Swain, at this time President of the State University at Chapel Hill, whence Hinton Rowan Helper had been expelled. They had carefully placed in their pockets their free papers, together with notes of introduction to persons in Washington and Baltimore. They had also their permits to pass over the railroads. Lunsford had the amplest evidence in his possession that he was what he represented himself to be,--a free man, travelling upon legitimate business to the Northern States. They had heard of the perils that beset the people of their race in the cities of Washington and Baltimore; they had listened with tearful eyes to the sad stories of many who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery, and they were, not without reason, fearful of trouble. In the days of which we are now speaking, the slave-trade had not been driven from the District of Columbia; and slave-pens were in full operation there, and in the city of Baltimore. The trade derived from the eastern shore of Maryland was still quite
large. On some plantations, little was done toward the cultivation of the soil, and the slaves were allowed in easy life, or such moderate exercise as tended to develop a healthy and numerous progeny for the Southern market. The sale of half a dozen likely negroes, in the spring or fall, was a handsome income, and allowed the luxurious planter, or rather breeder, to entertain his visitors from the city in a style of splendor impossible for the hard-fisted farmer in other portions of the State, where his income must be derived wholly from the culture of the soil. We have known plantations of many hundred acres, where the products for the table were almost entirely derived from the Baltimore markets. With every facility, they were too indifferent to raise beef in sufficient quantity to feed the family and servants. The annual store, except of corn and wheat, was imported from abroad.
The trade in human flesh, where it is conducted as a business, is carried on with great secrecy. Every kind of device is used for decoying children away from their parents, and wives from their husbands. Sometimes the slaves, sent as if on business or pleasure upon the grain vessels, of which there is an immense fleet plying between Baltimore and the innumerable small streams and creeks of the Chesapeake and its tributaries, become a prey to the trader and his agents, who are always on the alert to seize and convey the unsuspecting victims to their pens. In this way, unruly and troublesome servants are disposed of with great facility. But let not the reader imagine that he has seen, in the above statement, all the horrors of
Southern slavery. A deeper depth of iniquity is yet to be reached. The stock in trade of these dealers did not consist wholly in the class that they knew to be slaves. Thousands of slaves have escaped into the Northern States, and many others are in different places awaiting the chance of escape. Some of these the agents of the trader, who are scattered along the whole border dividing the Free from the Slave States, succeed in arresting. But every negro, whether they know him to be a slave or a freeman, coming within their power, is in danger of being consigned to the fearful servitude. Every colored man, if a stranger, passing through the State, whether by railroad or upon the highways, is considered a slave escaping from his master. If he has the most undoubted evidence that he is a freeman, or has some friend at hand who can vouch for him, he may succeed in escaping their clutches.
Lunsford, on reaching Washington, called upon Mr. Joseph Gales, the father of Mr. Gales, of the firm of Gales & Seaton, proprietors at that time of the Intelligencer. The old gentleman had visited his former master's house in Raleigh, and had thus been led to take an interest in Lunsford, which was much increased when he learned from his own lips and from his papers the object of his mission to the North. Knowing the fearful hazard he must run in passing through a Slave State, as he was about to depart, Mr. Gales said to him, "]Lunsford, I had better give you a few lines to our mutual friend, Gideon Smith, of Baltimore; you may have some trouble in getting through." The villanous character of the slave-trader was, to some extent, known
to Mr. Gales. Thus provided, Lunsford and Jones reached Baltimore on Saturday afternoon, and put up at a very respectable boarding-house, kept by Henry A Butler, a colored man. The next day being Sunday, they spent part of Saturday evening in preparation, and in making inquiry about the places of religious worship, arranging their plans as to how they could see and hear the most in their brief stay, intending to leave early on Monday morning for Philadelphia. Little did, they dream that even then the land-sharks employed by the Slaters and the Woodforks were upon their track, and had been, from the moment the cars landed them at the depot on Pratt Street. They had followed them to Butler's boarding-house, and, even in the guise of casual callers, heard the plans of Lunsford and Jones for the morrow. Lunsford attended church in the morning, and had returned to dinner. As his companion, who had attended a different place of worship, had not made his appearance, he began to feel uneasy; but his fears for his friend were soon changed to a sense of the terrible reality of his own situation: the door opened, and three men entered and arrested him, asserting, at the same time, that they were officers of the law (a base falsehood). They briefly stated that his companion, Jones, had been arrested as a runaway, and was now lodged in their prison on Pratt Street, and that they also suspected him as travelling under false pretences; that they had been ordered to arrest him, that he might undergo an examination, now, at their office. The office of the Slaters was in the first story of a handsome brick building on Pratt Street, back of which was the slave
prison. The stranger passing this establishment, as we have done, would never suspect the unrecorded outrages which those interior walls have witnessed. Many have been the victims who have issued from them only to pass into the hopeless condition of a brief and cruel service upon the rice and cotton plantations of the South.
These emissaries of the under very coolly conducted Lunsford to the office of their employers on Pratt Street. Feeling quite satisfied that he could, for the present, at least manage his own case, and being pretty well informed as to the character of the men who were now seeking to get him into their power, he accompanied the men with no hesitation, and with but slight perturbation of mind; he felt indignant, and he was determined to assume, in their presence, a bold and confident defence. Of course they had their case ready, and the reasons why they had ordered his arrest,--they had received letters informing them that slaves had escaped from North Carolina, and he and his companion answered very closely to the descriptions sent them. They had other evidence, leading them to believe that they were the identical slaves who had escaped. They closed by demanding the evidence that he was a freeman. Lunsford, in reply, gave a plain, unvarnished statement of his former position in Raleigh; the name of his former master; his having purchased his freedom; and all the circumstances leading to his present journey. He produced his permit to travel, and referred Them to persons in Washington to whom they could write. He dared not produce his free papers, or let
them see his letters of introduction, as he feared they would unhesitatingly destroy them if once in their hands. He learned that they had taken from Jones his free papers. They finally asked for his. He very prudently stated to them that if he was now before the proper officers of the law, who had a right to examine them, he would readily produce them, but not otherwise; if they could convince him that this was the proper place to deliver up his papers, he would not hesitate to do so. He said also that he had letters of introduction to persons in the city whom he had not yet seen; but these he was not prepared to show them. He should deliver them in the morning, and he might then convince them that he was what he stated himself to be,--a freeman. Unwilling to allow their victim to escape so easily, they suggested to him that he might leave the city before to-morrow. They furthermore stated that it had been determined to try both their cases on Monday morning, at ten A. M., before Squire Shane, and that it might be necessary to put him with his friend Jones, for safe-keeping! Lunsford stated that it was not his purpose to leave the city until his friend Jones was liberated, and his free papers restored to him. That he should be ready to accompany the proper officers to Squire Shane's, at the hour appointed; that till then he could be found at his boarding-house. Finding that they had made some mistake in the kind of chattel they had arrested, they concluded to defer the case until the time appointed. With some feeling of chagrin, he was allowed to depart. On returning to the boarding-house, he
found his friends in a state of great alarm; and when they learned that the case was to be tried before Squire Shane, hope almost forsook them. It was notorious that Shane had seldom been known to decide a case, no matter what the evidence, in favor of a colored man's freedom. It was determined, if they could not have the case tried before some other justice of the peace, to make the best defence they could. His first duty was to obtain the best legal advice. On inquiry he found that there was only one lawyer in town who had taken much interest in the cases, and who had been the instrument in defeating the schemes of these unprincipled men. This man was Mr. Walch, at this time just commencing his career, and, with honor be it said, he exhibited a humanity and sense of justice, on this occasion, deserving of great praise.
Lunsford, in company with his friend Gideon Smith, to whom he had a note of introduction from Mr. Gales, called upon Lawyer Walch and made known to him the condition of his affairs, submitting to his examination his papers and letters. Those were all satisfactory. It was, therefore, arranged that Mr. Walch should meet their adversaries at ten A. M. on Monday morning. Lunsford and his friend Gideon were on hand. So were those pretended officers of the law, with their man Jones, and were proceeding in great haste to dispose of their cases. Shane, on looking over the papers of Jones, decided that he could find in them no certain evidence of his being a freeman; these papers may have been forged, as many instances attested; he must produce some one besides his friend here (Lunsford),
who could state upon his own authority, and from his personal knowledge, that he knew him to be a freeman. He had had too many cases of runaways lately, and it was necessary to be more than commonly guarded. Unless other and stronger proof could be adduced, he must decide against the liberation of Jones. He was about proceeding with Lunsford's case, and had commenced to ask some questions, when Mr. Walch came in. One glance at the assembly told Mr. Walch that these unfortunate negroes were in the hands of unscrupulous and wicked men. He had met and thwarted their malicious designs upon other occasions, and he felt now he had a strong case. Arresting Squire Shane in the midst of his remarks, he demanded, as the counsel of the accused, a restatement of the proceedings thus far, and an account of the evidence already adduced to show that these men were slaves. They were unable to produce a single positive proof of the truth of their assumptions. He allowed the squire to proceed with the examination of Lunsford; the substance of which varied but little from that in respect to Jones. They had received letters from North Carolina respecting escaped slaves, and the description very closely corresponded to these negroes. When asked to produce these letters and description, they were not ready to comply. Lawyer Walch then commenced by giving a brief history of the many persons of color who had recently been kidnapped and sold into hopeless slavery; that the business had now become so common that a free colored man found it almost impossible to pass safely from one State to another,
without being gobbled up by the most unprincipled men in the community; that it was unsafe for them to reside on the border of the Free States, where there was great danger of being hurried by the agents of the soulless trader from their homes and families, and consigned to involuntary servitude. In the absence, then, of any proof that these men are runaways, let us look at the evidence in their favor; let us examine their papers and the circumstances of their advent here. Both these men have well-authenticated free papers,--those of Lunsford showing that he was made a freeman of the State of New York; they are signed by men known to us, and have no appearance of being forged. In addition to this, they give us the names of highly respectable gentlemen in Washington and Raleigh, also known to us, to whom we can write. They have letters from such men as the venerable Mr. Gales, of Washington, and to this gentleman present, Mr. Gideon Smith, well known in this community. Mr. Smith is also ready to testify that he knew the master of Lunsford in Raleigh, and of his having purchased his freedom. Now, how had these men come into the city? Not in the night time, crawling away under cover of the forest to escape the sight of men, but in broad daylight, upon one of the public conveyances; they repair to a respectable boarding-house, kept by a colored man, known in this city for his uprightness of character. This is on Saturday evening. How did they spend their Sabbath? Not secreted from the public, shut up in those secluded hiding-places for runaways, but they arrange their plans, as Christians should, to attend the house of God
on the day set apart for his worship. They are arrested upon this day; one of them (Jones), upon his way from the house of God, is unceremoniously, and without authority, upon bare suspicion of persons interested in the slave-trade, consigned to prison,--not to the public prison, but to one of those private institutions for the safe-keeping of slaves awaiting a market. Let us look at the character of those who have made these arrests: they are not the authorized officers of the law, but agents of individuals interested in consigning free persons to slavery. "I forbear an expression of the abhorrence I feel for men capable of such infamous conduct, --deeply do I commiserate the free colored people who are so unfortunate as to be entrapped in their wiles." By this time, Lawyer Walch had succeeded in fully establishing their right to freedom, and arousing the just indignation of all present against these wretches, who cowered beneath his eloquent and truthful denunciations. He showed, in the most convincing way, the unmitigated rascality of the deed which these emissaries of the slave-power meant to inflict upon the wronged and inoffensive men. Justice Shane, for once, in view of incontrovertible evidence, quietly determined to dismiss the case. Great was the joy of Lunsford and his companion at their liberation from the hands of these men. Had Lunsford been a man of less character and standing in the State whence he came; had he been less informed in regard to cases of kidnapping and the means used by unscrupulous men to decoy away their victims; had he been less upon his guard; had he used only a little less effort in vindication of his freedom, he
and his companion would, doubtless, have been consigned to slavery for life. But, thanks to that overruling Providence which had preserved him so far, he was not permitted to feel this additional sorrow. Lunsford and his companion were received by their friends at the boarding-house of Mr. Butler, after the trial, with expressions of joy which they could not repress. Many sympathizers were there gathered, and they spent some time in discussing all the events of the day, and called to mind the cases of friends who had not been so fortunate as they, and who had, in spite of their right to freedom, been stolen by these men and sold South; some of them they had heard from; but the great majority were beyond the region of hope or sympathy, compelled to end their days in toil unrequited, and in a life of infamy. Lunsford and Jones, unable to continue their journey as they had intended, determined to remain with their friend, Mr. Butler, until Tuesday morning. These friends spent their evening in recounting instances of similar outrages upon their acquaintances which had occurred in late years. Lunsford's retentive memory enabled him to relate many instances of sufficient atrociousness to convict the institution of a barbarism unequalled in human annals. The case of Rachel Parker, a free colored girl, excited much interest. "She was kidnapped," said Lunsford, "from the house of Joseph S. Miller, of West Nottingham, Pennsylvania, by the notorious Elkton kidnapper, McCreary. Mr. Miller tracked the kidnappers to Baltimore and tried to recover the girl, but in vain. On his way home he was induced to leave the cars, and
was undoubtedly murdered,--it is supposed in revenge for the death of Gorsuch, at Christiana. Mr. Miller's body was found suspended from a tree. A suit was brought, as you may remember, Mr. Butler," said Lunsford, "in the circuit court of Baltimore County, near where we now are, for the freedom of Rachel Parker. Over sixty witnesses from Pennsylvania attended to testify to her being free-born, and that she was not the person she was claimed to be; although, in great bodily terror, she had, after her captivity, confessed herself the alleged slave! So complete and strong was the evidence in her favor that after eight days' trial the claimants abandoned the case, and a verdict was rendered for the freedom of Rachel, and also of her sister, Elizabeth Parker, who had been kidnapped and conveyed to New Orleans." The case of Gorsuch being alluded to, some one inquired for the particulars; as the case excited great interest in Baltimore at the time, Mr. Butler gave them the particulars. The incident occurred at Christiana, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. "Edward Gorsuch, represented," said he, "by those who knew him, as a very pious member of a Methodist Church, with his son Dickinson, accompanied by the sheriff of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and by a Philadelphia officer, named HENRY KLINE, went to Christiana to arrest certain slaves of his who, as he had been privately informed by a wretch named Padgett, were living there. An attack was made upon the house, the slave-holder declaring that he 'would not leave the place alive without his slaves.' 'Then,' replied one of them, 'you will not leave here alive.' Many shots were fired on both
sides, and the slave-hunter, Edward Gorsuch, was killed." "Not many years since," said Lunsford, "a case occurred in Indianapolis which is well authenticated, where the poor man had even more difficulty than Rachel Parker in escaping slavery. John Freeman, a free colored man, was there seized and claimed as the slave of one Pleasant Ellington, a member of the Methodist Church of Missouri. Freeman pledged himself to prove that he was not the person he was alleged to be. The United States marshal consented to his having time for this, provided he would go to jail and pay three dollars a day for a guard to keep him secure! Bonds to any amount to secure the marshal against loss, if Freeman could go at large, were rejected. Freeman's counsel went to Georgia, and, after many days, returned with a venerable and highly respectable gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Patillo, who voluntarily made the long journey for the sole purpose of testifying to his knowledge of Freeman, and that he was well known to be free. But Freeman was still kept in jail. After several days, Ellington brought witnesses to prove Freeman to be his slave. The witnesses and the counsel wished to have Freeman strip himself to be examined naked. By advice of his counsel he refused. The marshal took him to his cell and compelled him to strip. The witnesses then swore that he was Ellington's property. Freeman's counsel then produced further evidence that he had been known as a freeman twenty years. Ellington claimed that he had escaped from him sixteen years before. The man who did escape Ellington just sixteen years before was discovered to be living near
Malden, Canada! Two of the Kentucky witnesses had visited and recognized him. Freeman was thereupon released, with a large, debt upon him,--one thousand two hundred dollars,--which had grown up by the unusually heavy expenses of his defence and long imprisonment. Freeman brought a suit against Ellington for false imprisonment, laying damages at ten thousand dollars. A verdict for two thousand dollars was given in his favor, which was agreed to by Ellington's counsel." The above incident reminded Lunsford of the case of an old acquaintance, whom in his boyhood he had known in Raleigh, but who when quite young was sold to a Virginia, planter. He early achieved his freedom, and removed to Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, and became waiter at the Phoenix Hotel. His sad story he gleaned from his friends and from the newspapers. William Thomas, or Bill, as he was called, Lunsford described as "a tall, noble-looking, intelligent and active mulatto, nearly white." Whilst attending to his duties as usual at the hotel, he was suddenly attacked by one Wynkoop, a deputy marshal under the fugitive slave law, and four others, three of them Virginians in search of supposed runaways. These men came suddenly from behind, knocked him down with a mace, and partially shackled him. He struggled hard against the five, shook them off, and with the handcuff, which had been secured to his right wrist only, inflicted some hard wounds on the faces of his assailants. Covered with blood, he broke from them, rushed from the house and plunged in the river close by, exclaiming, "I will be drowned rather than taken alive." He was pursued, fired upon. repeatedly,
ordered to come out of the water, where he stood immersed to his neck, or "they would blow his brains out." He replied, "I will die first." They then deliberately fired at him four or five different times, the last ball supposed to have struck on his head, for his face was instantly covered with blood, and, uttering a cry, he sprang up in the water. The by-standers began to cry "Shame!" and the kidnappers retired a short distance for consultation. Bill came out of the water and lay down on the shore. His pursuers, supposing him dying, said, "Dead niggers are not worth taking South." Some one brought him a dry pair of pantaloons. He was helped to his feet by a colored man named Rex; on seeing which Wynkoop and party headed him and presented their revolvers, when poor Bill again ran into the river. Here he remained upwards of an hour, nothing but his head being above water, covered with blood, and in full view of hundreds who lined the banks. The atrocious character of the deed was long in penetrating the heads and hearts of these free, white American citizens. At length a few tardy preparations were made to arrest the murderous gang, but they had departed from the town. His claimants dared not pursue their victim further into the water, for, as he afterward declared, "he would have died contented, could he have carried two or three of them down with him." After his pursuers had gone, Bill waded some distance up the stream, and was found by some women, lying, upon his face in a cornfield. They carried him to a place of safety and dressed his wounds. He soon disappeared from Wilkesbarre, and the last heard of poor
Bill he was seeking a livelihood in one of the Canadian provinces, where this odious slave-hunting law has no existence. The demoralization to which a portion of our Christian community can descend is seen in the subsequent career of this Wynkoop, the appointed agent of the government in this transaction. This man and another were, not long afterward, arrested in Philadelphia on a charge of riot, the warrant issuing from the State magistrate of Wilkesbarre, on complaint of William C. Gildersleeve of that place. Mr. Jackson, the constable who held them in custody, was brought before Judge Grier, of the United Suites Supreme Court, by habeas corpus. Judge Grier, during the examination, illustrated by his conduct how a villain can be shielded from punishment under the forms of law. "I will not," said the judge, "have the officers of the United States harassed at every step in the performance of their duties by every petty magistrate who chooses to harass them, or by any unprincipled interloper who chooses to make complaints against them,--for I know something of this man who makes this complaint. If this man Gildersleeve fails to make out the facts set forth in the warrant of arrest, I will request the prosecuting attorney of Luzerne County to prosecute him for perjury. . . . . . If any tuppenny magistrate, or any unprincipled interloper, can come in and cause to be arrested the officers of the United States whenever they please, it is a sad affair. . . . . . if habeas corpuses are to be taken out after this manner I will have an indictment sent to the United States Grand Jury against the person who applies for the writ, or assists in getting
it, the lawyer who defends it, and the sheriff who serves
the writ. I will see that my officers are protected."
The wickedness of this law is seen in the fact that it
not only suppresses every humane feeling to help our
suffering fellow-men, but it compels the officers of the
law to arrest and shoot down defenceless human beings,
whose greatest crime against the State is that they loved
freedom too much! "On a subsequent day," concluded
Lunsford, "these prisoners were discharged, Wynkoop
among the rest, the judge making this deliberate statement,
in view of all the facts above related: 'We are
unable to perceive in this transaction anything worthy
of blame in the conduct of these officers in their
unsuccessful endeavors to fulfill a most dangerous and
disgusting duty; except, perhaps, a want of sufficient courage
and perseverance in the attempt to execute the
writ.'"* * See tract of "The Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims," p. 31. ** We have antedated this event only twenty year, it occurred in 1856.
Mr. Butler had been listening attentively to the above account, and, as Lunsford concluded, he drew from his pocket a tract which he said had been handed to him a few days before by a friend of the colored people in Baltimore, who was then engaged in editing a weekly paper in that city, wherein he was seeking, in a cautious way, to bring the subject of emancipation before the people of Maryland. (This gentleman was subsequently driven from the city by a mob.) Mr. Butler, at the desire of all present, read, in a distinct voice, the following thrilling narrative of facts, pertaining to MARGARET GARNER and seven others, occurring at Cincinnati, Ohio, January, 1836:--**
* See tract of "The Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims," p. 31.
** We have antedated this event only twenty year, it occurred in 1856.
"Of this peculiarly painful case, we give a somewhat detailed account, mainly taken from the Cincinnati papers of the day. It strikingly illustrates the manner in which, in nearly all instances, the laws and authority of the Free States are swept away before those which the national government enacts in behalf of slavery, and how little protection the poor and the oppressed can expect from either.
"About ten o'clock on Sunday, 27th January, 1836, a party of eight slaves,--two men, two women, and four children,--belonging to Archibald K. Gaines and John Marshall, of Richwood Station, Boone County, Kentucky, about sixteen miles from Covington, escaped from their owners. Three of the party are father, mother, and son, whose names are Simon, Mary and Simon, Jr.; the others are Margaret, wife of Simon, Jr., and her four children. The three first are the property of Marshall, and the others of Gaines.
"They took a sleigh and two horses belonging to Mr. Marshall, and drove to the river-bank, opposite Cincinnati, and crossed over to the city on the ice. They were missed a few hours after their flight, and Mr. Gaines, springing on a horse, followed in pursuit. On reaching the river-shore he learned that a resident had found the horses standing in the road. He then crossed over to the city, and after a few hours' diligent inquiry he learned that his slaves were in a house about a quarter of a mile below the Mill Creek Bridge, on the river road, occupied by a colored man, named Kite.
"He proceeded to the office of United States Commissioner John L. Pendery, and, procuring the necessary
warrants, with United States Deputy Marshal Ellis and a large body of assistants, went on Monday to the place where his fugitives were concealed. Arriving at the premises, word was sent to the fugitives to surrender. A firm and decided negative was the response. The officers, backed by a large crowd, then made a descent. Breaking open the doors, they were assailed by the negroes with cudgels and pistols. Several shots were fired, but only one took effect, so far as we could ascertain. A bullet struck a man named John Patterson, one of the marshal's deputies, tearing off a finger of his right hand, and dislocating several of his teeth. No others of the officers were injured, the negroes being disarmed before they could reload their weapons.
"On looking around, horrible was the sight which met the officers' eyes. In one corner of the room was a nearly white child, bleeding to death. Her throat was cut from ear to ear, and the blood was spouting out profusely, showing that the deed was but recently committed. Scarcely was this fact noticed, when a scream issuing from an adjoining room drew their attention, thither. A glance into the apartment revealed a negro woman holding in her hand a knife literally dripping with gore over the heads of two little negro children, who were crouched to the floor, and uttering the cries whose agonized peals had first startled them. Quickly the knife was wrested from the hand of the excited woman, and a more close investigation instituted as to the condition of the infants. They were discovered to be cut across the head and shoulders, but not very seriously
injured, although the blood trickled down their backs and upon their clothes.
"The woman avowed herself the mother of the children, and said that she had killed one, and would like to kill the three others, rather than see them again reduced to slavery! By this time the crowd about the premises had become prodigious, and it was with no inconsiderable difficulty that the negroes were secured in carriages and brought to the United States District Court rooms on Fourth Street. The populace followed the vehicle closely, but evinced no active desire to effect a rescue. Rumors of the story soon circulated all over the city. Nor were they exaggerated, as is usually the case. For once, reality surpassed the wildest thought of fiction.
"The slaves, on reaching the marshal's office, seated themselves around the stove with dejected countenances, and preserved a moody silence, answering all questions propounded to them in monosyllables, or refusing to answer at all. Simon is apparently about fifty-five years of age, and Mary about fifty. The son of Mr. Marshall, who is here in order, if possible, to recover the property of his father, says that they have always been faithful servants, and have frequently been on this side of the river. Simon, Jr., is a young man about twenty-two years old, of a very lithe and active form, and a rather mild and pleasant countenance. Margaret is a dark mulatto, twenty-three years of age; her countenance is far from being vicious, and her senses, yesterday, appeared partially stupefied from the exciting trial she had endured. After remaining about two
hours at the marshal's office, Commissioner Pendery announced that the slaves would be removed in the custody of the United States marshal, until nine o'clock Tuesday morning, when the case would come up for examination. The slaves were then taken down to the street door, where a wild and exciting scene presented itself. The sidewalks and the middle of the street were thronged with people, and a couple of coaches were at the door, in order to convey the captives to the station-house. The slaves were guarded by a strong posse of officers, and, as they made their appearance on the street, it was evident that there was a strong sympathy in their favor. When they were led to the carriage-doors There were loud cries of 'Drive on!' 'Don't take them!' The coachmen, either from alarm, or from a sympathetic feeling, put the ship to their horses and drove rapidly off, leaving the officers with their fugitives on the sidewalk. They started on foot with their charge to the Hammond Street station-house, where they secured their prisoners for the night. The slaves claimed that they had been on on this side of the river frequently, by consent of their masters. About three o'clock application was made to Judge Burgoyne for a writ of habeas corpus to bring the slaves before him. This was put in the hands of an Ohio officer, Deputy Sheriff Buckingham, to serve, who, accompanied by several assistants, proceeded to Hammond Street station-house, where the slaves were lodged. Mr. Bennett, Deputy United States Marshal, was unwilling to give them up to the State authorities, and a long time was spent parleying between the marshal and the sheriff's
officers. The sheriff being determined that the writ should be executed, Mr. Bennett went out to take counsel with his friends. Finally, through the advice of Mayor Faran, Mr. Bennett agreed to lodge the slaves in The jail, ready to be taken out at the order of Judge Burgoyne. Mr. Buckingham obtained the complete control of the slaves.
"On the morning of the 29th, Sheriff Brashear, being advised by lawyers that Judge Burgoyne had no right to issue his writ for the slaves, and remembering Judge McLean's decision in the Rosetta case, made a return on the writ of habeas corpus, that the slaves were in the custody of the United States marshal, and, therefore, without his jurisdiction. This returned the slaves to the custody of the marshal. By agreement, the parties permitted the slaves to remain in the county jail during that day, with the understanding that their examination should commence the next morning, before Commissioner Pendery. Thus the State of Ohio was made the jailer of these slaves, while her officer, Sheriff Brashear, lyingly pretended they were not within the State's jurisdiction. An inquest had been held on the body of the child which was killed, and a verdict was found by the jury charging the death of the child upon the mother, who, it was said, would be held under the laws of Ohio to answer the charge of murder. And examination took place on Wednesday before the United States commissioner. Time was allowed their counsel to obtain evidence to show that they had been brought into the State at former times by their masters. A meeting of citizens was held on Thursday evening to express sympathy with the alleged fugitives.
"The Cincinnati Commercial, of January 30, said,-- 'The mother is an interesting appearance, a mulatto of considerable intelligence of manner, and with a good address. In reply to a gentlemen who yesterday complimented her upon the looks of her little boy, she said, "You should have seen my little girl that-- that--(she did not like to say, was killed)--that died; that was the bird."'
"The Cincinnati Gazette of January 30, said,-- 'We learn that the mother of the dead child acknowledges that she killed it, and that her determination was to have killed all the children, and then destroy herself, rather than return to slavery. She and the others complain of cruel treatment on the part of their masters, and allege that as the cause of their attempted escape.'
"The jury gave a verdict as follows:--'That said child was killed by its mother, Margaret Garner, with a butcher-knife, with which she cut its throat.' Two of the jurors also find that the two men, arrested as fugitives, were accessories to the murder. 'The murdered child was almost white, and was a little girl of rare beauty.' The examination of witnesses was continued until Monday, February 4th, when the commissioner listened to the arguments of counsel until the seventh. Messrs. Jolliffe and Getchell appeared for the fugitives, and Colonel Chambers, of Cincinnati, and Mr. Finnell, of Covington, Ky., for the claimants of the slaves. A great number of assistants, amounting very nearly to five hundred, were employed by the Untied States marshal, H. H. Robinson, from the first, making the expenses to the Untied States government very large;
for their twenty-eight days' service alone, at two dollars per day, amounting to over twenty-two thousand dollars. February 8th the case closed, so far as related to the three slaves of Mr. Marshall, but the decision was postponed. The examination in regard to Margaret and her children was further continued. It was publicly stated Commissioner Pendery had declared that he 'would not send the woman back into slavery while a char or indictment for murder lay against
her.' Colonel Chambers, counsel for the slave-claimants, feeling that he was outraging the moral sense of a free community, in the decision he was about to give, eagerly, sought the assistance of a Northern divine, in his argument, reading long extracts from a pamphlet entitled, 'A Northern Presbyter's Second Letter to Ministers of the Gospel of all Denominations, on Slavery, by Nathan Lord, of Dartmouth College;'* * We understand that this divine has lately seen fit to resign his position at this college.
he himself approving and recommending Dr. Lord's views. At the close of the hearing, February 14th, the commissioner adjourned his court to the twenty-first; afterward to the twenty-sixth, when, he said, he would give his decision. Meantime the case was making some progress in the State courts. Sheriff Brashear having made return to the Common Pleas Court that the fugitives were in the custody of the United States marshal, Judge Carter said this could not be received as a true return, as they were in the county jail, under the sheriff's control. The sheriff then amended his return so as to state that the prisoners were in his custody, as
* We understand that this divine has lately seen fit to resign his position at this college.
required in the writ, and this was received by the Court. The fugitives now came fully into the charge of the State authorities. The sheriff held them 'by virtue of a capias issued on an indictment by the Grand Jury for murder."
"The slaves declared they would go dancing to the gallows, rather than to be sent back into slavery.
"In the progress of the case it was decided by Judge Leavitt that the custody of the slaves was not with Ohio, but with the United States marshal. The subsequent arguments all tended to one point,--the rendition of the fugitives to slavery. An effort was made by Mr. Jollife to save the children, but in vain. The Cincinnati Columbian, of February 29th, gave the following account:--'The last act in the drama of the fugitives was yesterday performed by the rendition of the seven persons whose advent into this city, under the bloody auspices of murder, caused such a sensation in the community. After the decision of Judge Leavitt, Sheriff Brashear surrendered the four fugitives in his custody, under a capias from an Ohio court, to United States Marshal Robinson. An omnibus was brought to the jail, and the fugitives were led into it, a crowd of spectators looking on. Margaret was in custody of Deputy Marshal Brown. She appeared greatly depressed and dispirited. The little infant, Silla, was carried by Russell, the door-keeper of the United States Court, and was crying violently. Pollock, the reporter of the proceedings in the United States Court, conducted another of the fugitives, and all were safely lodged in the omnibus, which drove down to the Covington ferry-boat;
but, although a large crowd followed it, no hootings or other signs of excitement or disapprobation were shown. On arriving at the Kentucky shore, a large crowd was in attendance, which expressed its pleasure at the termination of the long proceedings in this city, by triumphant shouts. The fugitives were escorted to jail, where they were safely incarcerated, and the crowd moved off to the Magnolia Hotel, where several toasts were given and drank. The crowd outside were addressed from the balcony by H. H. Robinson, Esq., United States Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, who declared that he had done his duty and no more, and that it was a pleasure to him to perform an act that added another link to the glorious chain that bound the Union. (What a Union! For what 'glorious' purposes!)
" 'Mr. Finnell, attorney for the claimants, said he never loved the Union so dearly as now. It was proved to be a substantial reality.
" 'Judge Flinn also addressed to the crowd one of his peculiar orations; and was followed by Mr. Gaines, owner of Margaret and the children. After hearty cheering, the crowd dispersed.
" 'Further to signalize their triumph, the slave-holders set on the Covington mob to attack Mr. Babb, reporter for one of the Cincinnati papers, on the charge of being an abolitionist, and that gentleman was knocked down, kicked, trampled on, and would undoubtedly have been murdered, but for the interference of some of the United States deputy marshals.'
"On the Sunday after the delivery of the slaves, they
were visited in the Covington jail by Rev. P. C. Basset, whose account of his interview, especially with Margaret, was published in the American Baptist, and may also be found in the National Anti-Slavery Standard, of March 15, 1840. Margaret confessed that she had killed the child. 'I inquired,' says Mr. Bassett, 'if she were not excited almost to madness when she committed the act? "No," she replied; "I was as cool as I now am; and would much rather kill them at once, and thus end their sufferings, than have them taken back to slavery and be murdered by piecemeal." She then told the story of her wrongs. She spoke of her days of unmitigated toil, of her nights of suffering, while the bitter tears coursed their way down her cheeks.'
Governor Chase, of Ohio, made a requisition upon Governor Morehead, of Kentucky, for the surrender of Margaret Garner, charged with murder. The requisition was taken by Joseph Cooper, Esq., to Gov. Morehead, at Frankfort, on the sixth of March,--an unpardonable delay. Gov. Morehead issued an order for the surrender of Margaret. On taking it to Louisville, Mr. Cooper found that Margaret, with her infant child, and the rest of Mr. Gaines's slaves, had been sent down the river, in the steamboat Henry Lewis, to be sold in Arkansas. Thus it was that Gaines kept his pledged word that Margaret should be surrendered upon a the requisition of the governor of Ohio! On the passage down the Ohio, the steamboat in which the slaves were embarked came in collision with another boat, and so violently that Margaret and her child, with many others,
were thrown into the water. About twenty-five persons perished. A colored man seized Margaret and drew her back to the boat, but her babe was drowned! 'The mother,' says a correspondent of the Louisville Courier, 'exhibited no other feeling than joy at the loss of her child.' So closed another act of this terrible tragedy. The slaves were transferred to another boat, and taken to their destination. (See Mr. Cooper's letter to Gov. Chase, dated Columbus, March 11, 1846.). Almost immediately on the above tragic news, followed the tidings that Gaines had determined to bring Margaret back to Covington, Ky., and hold her subject to the requisition of the governor of Ohio. Evidently he could not stand up under the infamy of his conduct. Margaret was brought back and placed in Covington jail, to await a requisition. On Wednesday, Mr. Cox, the prosecuting attorney, received the necessary papers from Gov. Chase, and the next day (Thursday),--again a culpable delay,--two of the sheriff's deputies went over to Covington for Margaret, but did not find her, as she had been taken away from the jail the night before. The jailer said he had given her up on Wednesday night, to a man who came there with a written order from her master, Gaines, but could not tell where she had been taken. The officers came back and made a return, 'not found.'
"The Cincinnati Gazette said,--'On Friday, our sheriff received information which induced him to believe that she had been sent on the railroad to Lexington, thence via Frankfort to Louisville, there to be shipped off to the New Orleans slave market.
"'He immediately telegraphed to the sheriff at Louisville (who holds the original warrant from Gov. Morehead, granted on the requisition of Gov. Chase) to arrest her there, and had a deputy in readiness to go down for her. But he has received no reply to his dispatch. As she was taken but on Wednesday night, there is reason to apprehend that she has already passed Louisville, and is now on her way to New Orleans. Why Mr. Gaines brought Margaret back at all, we cannot comprehend. If it was to vindicate his character, he was most unfortunate in the means selected, for his duplicity has now placed this in a worse light than ever before, and kept before the public the miserable spectacle of his dishonor.'"
We have learned now, by experience, what is that boasted comity of Kentucky, on which Judge Leavitt so earnestly advises Ohio to rely. The assertion of the Louisville Journal that Margaret was kept in Covington jail "ten days," and that the Ohio authorities had been notified of the same, is pronounced to be untrue in both particulars, by the Cincinnati Gazette, which paper also declares that prompt action was taken by the governor of Ohio, and the attorney and sheriff of Hamilton County, as soon as the fact was known. Here we must leave Margaret; a noble woman indeed, whose heroic spirit and daring have won the willing, or extorted the unwilling, admiration of hundreds of thousands in the land of freedom. Alas for her! After so terrible a struggle, so bloody a sacrifice, so near to deliverance, once, twice, and even a third time, to be by the villany and lying of her "respectable" white owner
again engulfed in the abyss of slavery! What her fate is to be it is not hard to conjecture. But, friendless, heart-stricken, robbed of her children, outraged, she has been not wholly without friends,--
* Let us rather think of Margaret as having safely reached New Orleans, and
when, in the course of time the "Linkum gunboats," drove the chivalry from those shores, Margaret was among the first to welcome the unfolding of the Stars and Stripes over the rebellious land; and, as events hastened on, the enrollment of her race begins, and we behold her, rejoicing in the day of freedom, and zealous in every good work to aid the contraband soldier in his warlike toils.
"Yea, three firm friends, more sure than day and night,
Herself, her Maker, and the Angel Death." *
* Let us rather think of Margaret as having safely reached New Orleans, and when, in the course of time the "Linkum gunboats," drove the chivalry from those shores, Margaret was among the first to welcome the unfolding of the Stars and Stripes over the rebellious land; and, as events hastened on, the enrollment of her race begins, and we behold her, rejoicing in the day of freedom, and zealous in every good work to aid the contraband soldier in his warlike toils.
At the risk of too far extending the record of this most painful yet instructive case, we give the following eloquent extract from a sermon delivered in Cleveland, Ohio, by the Rev. Horace Bushnell, D. D., from the following text:--
"And it was so that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day. Consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds." Judges xix. 30.
"A few weeks ago, just at dawn of day, might be seen a company of strangers crossing the winter bridge over the Ohio River, from the State of Kentucky, into the great city of our own State, whose hundred church-spires point to heaven, telling the travellers that in this place the God of Abraham is worshipped, and that here Jesus the Messiah is known, and his religion of love taught and believed. And yet, no one asked them in, or offered them any hospitality or sympathy, or assistance. After wandering from street to street, a poor
laboring man gave them the shelter of his humble cabin, for they were strangers and in distress. Soon it was known abroad that this poor man had offered them the hospitalities of his home, and a rude and ferocious rabble soon gathered around his dwelling, demanding his guests. With loud clamor and horrid threatening, they broke down his doors, and rushed upon the strangers. They were an old man and his wife, their daughter and her husband, with four children; and they were of the tribe of slaves, fleeing from a bondage which was worse than death. There was now no escape,--the tribes of Israel had banded against them. On the side of the oppressor there is power. And the young wife and mother into whose very soul the iron had entered, hearing the cry of the master, 'Now we'll have you all!' turning from the side of her husband and father with whom she had stood to repel the foe, seized a knife, and, with a single blow, nearly severed the head from the body of her darling daughter, and throwing its bloody corpse at his feet, exclaimed, 'Yes, you shall have us all! take that!' and with another blow inflicted a ghastly wound upon the head of her beautiful son, repeating, 'Yes, you shall have us all! take that!' meanwhile calling upon her old mother to help her in the quick work of emancipation,--for there were two more. But the pious old grandmother could not do it, and it was now too late, --the rescuers had subdued and bound them. They were on their way back to the house of their bondage,--a life more bitter than death!--on their way through that City of churches, whose hundred spires told of Jesus and the
good Father above; on their way amid the throng of Christian men, whose noble sires had said and sung, 'Give me liberty, or give me death!'
"But they all tarried in the great Queen City of the West,--in chains, and in a felon's cell. There our preacher visited them again and again. There he saw the old grandfather and his aged companion, whose weary pilgrimage of unrequited toil and tears was nearly at its end. And there stood the young father, and the heroic wife 'Margaret.' Said the preacher, 'Margaret, why did you kill your child?' 'It was my own,' she said; 'given me of God, to do the best a mother could on its behalf. I have done the best I could! I would have done more and better for the rest! I knew it was better for them to go home to God than back to slavery.' 'But why did you not trust in God,--why not wait and hope?' 'I did wait, and then we dared to do, but fled in fear and in hope. Hope fled, --God did not appear to save. I did the best I could!'
"And who was this woman? A noble, womanly, amiable, affectionate mother. 'But was she not deranged?' Not at all,--calm, intelligent, but resolute and determined. 'But was she not fiendish, or beside herself with passion?' No; she was most tender and affectionate, and all her passion was that of mother's fondest love. 'I reasoned with her,' said the preacher; 'tried to awaken a sense of guilt, and lead her to repentance and to Christ. But there was no remorse, no desire of pardon, no reception of Christ or his religion. To her it was a religion of slavery, more cruel than death. And where had she lived? where thus taught?
Not down among the rice swamps of Georgia, or on the banks of Red River. No; but within sixteen miles of the Queen City of the West! In a nominally Christian family,--whose master was most liberal in support of the gospel, and whose mistress was a communicant at the Lord's table, and a professed follower of Christ! Here, in this family, where slavery is found in its mildest form, she had been kept in ignorance of God's will and Word, and learned to know that the mildest form of American slavery, at this day of Christian civilization and democratic liberty, was worse than death itself. She had learned by an experience of many years that it was so bad, she had rather take the life of her own dearest child, without the hope of heaven for herself, than IT should experience its unutterable agonies which were to be found in a Christian family. But here are her two little boys of eight and ten years of age. Taking the eldest boy by the hand, the preacher said to him kindly and gently,--
"'Come here, my boy. What is your name?'
"'No, sir, Tom.'
"'Well, Tom, how old are you?'
"'And how old is your little brother?'
"'Six months, sir.'
"'And have you no other name but Tom?'
"'What is your father's name?'
"'Haven't got any.'
"'Who made you, Tom?'
"'Did you ever hear of Jesus Christ?'
"And this was slavery in its best estate. By and by the aged couple, and the young man and his wife, the remaining children, with the master, and the dead body of the little one, were escorted through the streets of the Queen City of the West, by a national guard of armed men, back to the great and chivalrous State of old Kentucky, and away to the shambles of the South,--back to a lifelong servitude of hopeless despair. It was a long, sad, silent procession down to the banks of the Ohio; and, as it passed, the death knell of freedom tolled heavily. The sovereignty of Ohio trailed in the dust beneath the oppressor's foot and the great confederacy of the tribes of modern Israel attended the funeral obsequies, and made ample provision for the necessary expenses!
"'And it was so that all that saw said, There was no such deed done nor seen, from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day. CONSIDER of it, take advice, and speak your minds.' "
"After long storms and tempests overflowne,
The Sunne at length his joyous face doth cleare;
So when as Fortune all her spight hath showne,
Some blissful hours at last must needes appeare;
Else should afflicted wights ofttimes despeire.'
HIS MISSION TO THE NORTH SUCCESSFUL--PROCEEDS TO RALEIGH FOR HIS FAMILY--IS SEIZED--HIS TRIAL--HONORABLE DISCHARGE--THE MOB, LIKE HOUNDS, PAINT FOR HIS BLOOD--AN EVENTFUL NIGHT --TAR AND FEATHERS--THE HOME OF FREEDOM AT LENGTH REACHED.
THE reader may as well be assured here as at any other time, that the narrative here given to the public is a statement of matters of fact, either received from the lips of Mr. Lane himself, or from information possessed the compiler by a residence in the South, or drawn from well-authenticated documents. Sometimes conversations are introduced which were not in the exact language stated. An example of this kind the reader had in the last chapter. All the circumstances of the attempt to kidnap took place as stated at the time and place. No fictitious names are given. Even the intelligent proprietor of the colored boarding-house in Baltimore, Mr. Butler, may be still living and pursuing his business. The only variation being in the class of facts introduced in the conversation at Butler's house, between Lunsford and his friends, on the evening of the day of their liberation from the hands of wicked men. The statements there introduced are entirely
reliable; so much so as to form valuable material for a future history of the iniquities of the infamous law for the rendition of fugitive slaves. We call it infamous because it was the means, while it could be enforced, of sending many innocent human beings into the bondage of Southern slavery, who had as good a title to freedom as any of the citizens of Massachusetts. It was natural that Lunsford and his friends should recall the many instances of kidnapping that had come to their knowledge, although these might be different cases from those related. Lunsford had now fairly triumphed over the evil designs of the slave-catchers of Baltimore, and in doing so had made some friends upon whom he could rely in future, as he might be compelled to pass through the city frequently before he had completely rescued his family from slavery. Lunsford and his companion, Jones, passed on to Philadelphia, without further molestation. Here he delivered letters of introduction to several individuals, who listened with some interest to his statements. He made the acquaintance of Mr. Cauthen, the Philadelphia philanthropist, who had, by his personal efforts, but lately rescued three colored men who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. From this gentleman he learned that a very important meeting was to be held in New York, of sympathy for several persons who had in a similar manner to the above escaped the "gins and traps" of the soulless slave-trader. As this meeting was to be held in a few days, he hastened on, leaving his friend Jones to care for himself by his own industry in Philadelphia. He found no difficult in obtaining a hearing at this meeting, and
the assurance that he might rely upon securing the pecuniary aid needed, by a little industry in his personal applications. With this assurance, he hastened back to Raleigh to make his appearance at the next session of the court, and to wind up his affairs, if possible, for his final departure from the State. It will be remembered that Lunsford had really only twenty days to remain in the State after the first notification, and yet he remained beyond that time, relying upon the influence of Mr. Battle and other friends.
On reaching Raleigh, Lunsford consulted with his lawyer and the prosecuting attorney as to the course best to pursue. Their advice was that if he would leave the State, and pay the costs of the court, the case should be dropped, so that his bondsmen should not be involved. Lunsford, knowing the prejudice against him, concluded to stay as long as he could, settle up his affairs, and leave. He determined to make as earnest an appeal as he could to the friends of the colored man in the North, for assistance, and he had some hope that in this way he might be successful.
He had now paid Mr. Smith six hundred and twenty dollars; he had a house and lot worth five hundred dollars, which he had agreed to take when the balance had been raised. Before leaving, Mr. Smith gave him a bill of sale of one of his children, Laura, in consideration of two hundred and fifty dollars already paid. This child he determined to take with him to the North. The costs of the court which he had to meet in the above case amounted to between thirty and forty dollars, which drew heavily upon his now contracted
means. On the 18th of May, three days after the court commenced its session, he bade adieu to his friends in Raleigh, and set out for the city of New York. He was furnished with several letters of introduction from friends in Raleigh, each speaking in high commendation of his uprightness of conduct, and commendation of his case to the generous sympathy of others. One of them was from Mr. John Primrose, a highly respectable man; one from Mr. Battle, which was of great service to him. He took also a letter from the church of which he was a member, together with such other papers as related to his affairs. He also received the following certificate:--
"RALEIGH, N. C., May, 1842.
"The bearer, Lunsford Lane, a free man of color, for some time resident in this place, being about to leave North Carolina, in search of a more favorable location to pursue his trade, has desired us to give him a certificate of his good conduct heretofore. We take pleasure in saying that his habits are temperate and industrious, that his conduct has been orderly and proper, and that he has for these qualities been distinguished among his caste.
"WESTON R. GALES,
"C. L. HINTON,
He took good care to see that the above was officially certified to, in the usual form, by the clerk of the court of common pleas and quarter sessions.
Thus fortified with documents, he proceeded to New
York. Although his success was at first small, he soon fell into the hands of two friends, who generously offered to raise him three hundred dollars, provided he should first obtain from other sources the balance of the sum required, which balance would be one thousand and eighty dollars. Thus encouraged, he proceeded to Boston, where the intelligent and discriminating philanthropy of the people, in a very brief space of time, enabled him to reach the sum required. Lunsford not only expressed his thanks personally to these friends for their kindness, and the many ways in which they aided him in introducing him to others, but on public occasions he has taken pleasure in bearing testimony to their kindness of heart toward the oppressed. If it were proper, and the limits of this publication would permit, he would gladly have their names recorded. "On the 5th of February, finding that I should soon have in my possession the sum needed for the purchase of my family, and fearing that there might be danger in visiting Raleigh for that purpose, in consequence of the strong opposition of many of the citizens against free persons of color, and especially as they had already evinced their opposition to me in persecuting me from the city, I wrote to Mr. Smith, requesting him to see the governor, and obtain, under his hand, a permit. to visit the State for a sufficient time to accomplish the business. I requested Mr. Smith to publish the permit in one or two of the city papers, and then to enclose the original to me. To this letter he replied in a week or ten days after its reception. It was as follows:--
"'LUNSFORD: Your letter of the 5th instant came
duly to hand, and in reply I have to inform you that, owing to the absence of Governor Morehead, I cannot send you the permit you requested; but this will make no difference, for you can come home, and after your arrival you can obtain one to remain long enough to settle up your affairs. You ought of course to apply to the governor immediately on your arrival, before any malicious person would have time to inform against you. I don't think by pursuing this course you need apprehend any danger. . . . . We are all alive at present, in Raleigh, on the subjects of temperance and religion. We have taken into the temperance societies about five hundred members, and about fifty persons have been happily converted. . . . The work seems still to be spreading, and such a time I have never before seen in my life. Glorious times, truly! So try to get all the religion in your heart you possibly can, for it is the only thing worth having, after all.
" 'Yours, &c.,
"'B. B. SMITH.'"
The date of this letter is in February, 1842, at which time the Washingtonian Reformation was making great advances in the United States, rescuing thousands from their thraldom to this insidious and ruinous vice. The reader is referred, for fuller particulars, to the history of this reform as recorded in the life and labors of John H. W. Hawkins, who, it will be seen, in a year or two after, made a tour through all the Southern States. By his faithful labors thousands were saved from the drunkard's miserable doom. His labors in Raleigh were attended with his usual success. But to return
to Lunsford. The way now seemed, in a measure, opened for his safe return. Certainly, he argued, that, in a community all alive to the subject of religion and temperance, where he had lived and labored faithfully in "that state of life into which it had pleased God to call him," he ought to expect kind treatment, and receive protection from the designs of evil men. Still feeling some distrust as to the assurances of Mr. Smith, his wife's master, who might, after all, have a pecuniary interest in his speedy return to Raleigh, he hesitated to leave without a written permit from the governor. Desiring, therefore, to use every precaution, he addressed another letter to Mr. Smith, and received, under date of March 12th, a reply, from which we copy the following:--"The governor has just returned, and I called upon him to get the permit, as you requested, but he said he had no authority by law to grant one; and he told me to say to you that you might in perfect safety come home, in a quiet manner, and remain twenty days without being interrupted. I also consulted Mr. Manly (a lawyer), and he told me the same thing. . . . . . Surely you need not fear anything under these circumstances. You had, therefore, better come on just as soon as possible."
The life of Lunsford had been so checkered and uncertain thus far, that he felt, even now, some distrust as to his future reception in Raleigh. He determined, therefore, to conduct himself with all the discreetness possible, and refrain from doing anything that might excite the jealousy even of the poor white man. So little is done at the South to elevate this class that, it
sometimes happens that slaves owned by wealthy and intelligent masters far surpass them in learning and refinement of manners. Instead of discharging their hate and resentment against the institution that has inflicted these grievous evils, they content themselves with ill-bred and brutal assaults upon the unoffending negro, who rises in spite of his chains. Nothing but the storm and tempest of revolution, where the sword is called upon to arbitrate, can break the delusion and clear our moral heavens from these prejudices against color. In the season of adversity the people learn wisdom. "On the 11th of April I felt happy; it was the noon-time of my varied life; I had raised the, amount requisite for the deliverance of my wife and children. I remembered well the day of my own emancipation and I ceased not to rejoice in my freedom. I could almost anticipate the feelings of my wife and the dear ones God had given me, their feet at length pressing the free soil of Massachusetts, and I and they offering up to God the incense of grateful hearts. In my inmost soul I felt that I was undeserving of favors so great. I could trace his hand in every event of my past life. He had not forsaken me, and I even now reproached myself for any tendency in my heart to distrust him in the future. For myself I could only say,--
''Tis vain; my tongue cannot impart
My almost drunkenness of heart,
When first this liberated eye
Surveyed earth, ocean, sun, and sky
As if my spirit pierced them through,
And all their inmost wonders knew!
One word alone can paint to thee
That more than feeling,--I was free! . . . . . . . .
The world,--nay, heaven itself,--was mine!'
"With these high hopes, I left Boston on my way to Raleigh, intending to pay over the money for my family and return with them to Boston, which I designed should be my future home. There I had found friends, and there I was willing to labor, and there I would find a grave. I was now about to visit my old home in the South for the last time, and little did I dream that I should be thrust rudely from its portals. Certainly, I thought, the assurance received from the governor, who knew me well, through Mr. Smith, was sufficient to protect me in this last visit to the place of my birth and boyhood, where I had toiled as a slave and a freeman, and, finally, as waiter upon the governors of the commonwealth. I had faithfully discharged my duties; I thought I had deserved their respect. With these thoughts, and the bright anticipation of again joining my family, I departed for Raleigh, passing through Baltimore,--on this occasion without molestation. I arrived in Raleigh on the twenty-third of the month. It was Saturday, about four o'clock in the afternoon, upon a pleasant day in April, when I once more found myself in the midst of my family. They were anxiously looking for me, and yet they hardly dared to hope for their ultimate freedom. It was sweet to spend the hours of that quiet Sabbath with them, after so long an absence,--an absence filled with so much of interest to me and to them. I had been in 'perils by mine own country-men,'
and out of them all the Lord had delivered me. My family were still where I could reach them, and perhaps save them from a life of servitude. Although there were a thousand things that I wished to say respecting my Northern visit, I dared not utter them even to my wife. I therefore kept quiet and humbled myself. I mused in my own heart and was still. My business being delayed until the beginning of the week, I was making ready on Monday morning early to complete the business of the purchase of my family. I was about starting for Mr. Smith's store, where it had been arranged I should meet him, when between eight and nine o'clock., two constables entered,--Murray and Scott,--accompanied by two other men, and summoned me to appear immediately before the police. I accordingly accompanied them to the City Hall; but, in their eagerness to crush me, they had arrested me too early in the day for the tardy magistrates and their attendants; the hall was locked, and the officers could not, at the moment, find the key. We were told that the court would be held at the store of Mr. Smith, a large and commodious room. This is what is termed, in common phrase in Raleigh, and I had heard the term used by members of the Legislature, a 'call court.' The mayor, Mr. Loring, presided, assisted by William Boyden and Jonathan Busby, Esqs., justices of the peace. A large number of people had gathered, and I immediately found myself the centre of considerable interest; there were more, indeed, than could obtain admission to the room, and a large crowd of turbulent spirits gathered about the door, thirsting for my blood.
Mr. Loring read the writ, setting forth that I had been guilty of delivering abolition lectures in the State of Massachusetts.
"He asked me whether I was guilty or not guilty. Retaining my self-possession, I replied that I did not know whether I had given abolition lectures or not; but if it pleased the Court, I would relate the course I had pursued during my absence from Raleigh. He then said I was at liberty to speak for myself. 'The circumstances under which I left Raleigh,' I said, 'are perfectly familiar to you all. It is well known that I had no desire to remove from this city, but resorted to every lawful means to remain, while in pursuit of an honest calling. Finding that I could not be permitted to stay, I went away, leaving behind everything I held dear, with the exception of one child whom I took with me, after paying two hundred and fifty dollars for her. You are well aware that previous to this I was a slave, the property of Mr. Sherwood Haywood, and after many years of faithful labor purchased my freedom by paying the sum of one thousand dollars. It is also known to you, and to many other persons here present, that I had engaged to purchase my wife and children of their master, Mr. Smith, for the sum of twenty-five hundred dollars, and that I had paid of this sum, including my house and lot, eleven hundred and twenty dollars, leaving a balance to be made up of thirteen hundred and eighty dollars. I could have made up this amount, had I been permitted to remain here. But, being driven away for no crime of which I am conscious, no longer permitted to raise the balance due for the liberation of
my family, my last resort was to call upon the friends of humanity in other places to assist me. I went to the city of Boston, and there I related the story of my persecutions here, in the same manner that I now state them to you. The people gave a patient hearing to my statements, and one of them, the Rev. Dr. Neale, wrote to Raleigh, unknown to me, to Mr. Smith, inquiring of him whether the statements made by me were correct. After Dr. Neale received Mr. Smith's reply, he sent for me, informed me of his having written and read to me this reply. The letter fully satisfied Dr. Neale and his friends. He placed it in my hands, remarking that it would in a great measure do away the necessity of using the other documents in my possession. I then, with that letter in my hands, went from house to house, calling upon persons at their places of business, going from church to church, relating, whenever I could gain an ear, the same sad story of my wrongs to which I am now referring you. In pursuing that course, the kind people generously came forward and contributed, the poor as well as the rich, until I had succeeded in raising the whole amount, namely, thirteen hundred and eighty dollars. I may have had contributions from abolitionists; but I did not stop to ask those who assisted me whether they were anti-slavery or pro-slavery. I was too thankful to get the money, and it was immaterial whence it came if it would only accomplish the object I had in view. These are the simple facts as to the manner of my proceeding in the Northern States; and now, sir, I humbly ask whether such a course can be construed into the charge
made against, me,--that, I have been giving abolition lectures?'
"In the course of these remarks, I presented the letter of Mr. Smith to the Rev. Dr. Neale, of Boston, showing that I had acted the open and honest part while in Massachusetts. I also referred to my having written to Mr. Smith, requesting him to obtain for me the permit of the governor; and I showed the court Mr. Smith's letters in reply, in order to satisfy them that I had the promise of the governor, that I should be unmolested in Raleigh, until I had time to settle up my business and return to the North. Mr. Loring then whispered to some of the leading men; after which, he remarked that he saw nothing in what I had done, according to my own statement, implicating me in a manner worthy of notice. He then called upon any person present, who might be in possession of information tending to disprove what I had said, or to show any wrong on my part, to produce it; otherwise, I should be set at liberty. No person responding to his remarks, I was thereupon discharged. I was starting to leave the house, and had nearly reached the door, when I was met by Mr. James Litchfield, who touched me upon the shoulder, and I followed him into the back part of the store. He hastily informed me, from what he knew of the temper of the mob outside, that, if I went out of that room, in less than five minutes I would be a dead man. They were waiting, he said, like hounds, to drink my blood. Mr. Loring, who I think was really a friend, but powerless in this instance to render me any assistance, spoke to me again, and said, notwithstanding I had been
found guilty of breaking no law, yet public opinion was law; and he advised me to leave the place the next day; otherwise, he was convinced I should have to suffer death. I replied, 'not to-morrow, but to-day:' He answered that I could not go that day, as I had not yet accomplished the object of my return. I said I was willing to trust my business in his hands and to several other gentlemen like himself, assured that they would not see me wronged. I mentioned several names, suggesting that they could settle matters for me with Mr. Smith, pay over my money, and send my family to meet me in Philadelphia. This was finally concluded upon, and a guard was appointed to conduct me to the depot. I had succeeded in reaching a seat in the cars, when the mob that had followed surrounded me, and declared that the cars should not go, and that I should not be permitted to go in them. Mr. Loring, fearing the worst, came along into the cars, and inquired of the mob what they wanted of me. He said to them that there had been a fair examination, and nothing had been found against me; that they were present at the investigation, and invited to speak if they know any reason why I should be, condemned; but that they had remained silent, and that now it was but right that I should be permitted to depart unmolested. They replied that they wanted a more thorough investigation; that they wished to search my trunks (I had but one) and see if I was not in the possession of abolition papers. This species of evidence is all-powerful with the Southern rabble. When all other proofs fail, a scrap of paper bearing this stamp, wrapped about a pair of old shoes, has proved the death-warrant
to many unsuspecting travellers in the Southern dominions! It had now become evident from the temper of the crowd, that I would not be allowed to leave in the cars, and my friends advised me, as a means of safety, to go the shortest way possible to jail! The mob appeared terribly enraged, and seemed to thirst for my blood. The whole city, indeed, was in an uproar. But I found my friends were among the most respectable and wealthy men in the place; and I have no doubt these few did all in their power to protect me. Mr. Boylan, whose name has frequently been mentioned in the course of the narrative, acted toward me the part of a father. Mr. Smith and Mr. Loring, and many other gentlemen, whose names it would be a pleasure to mention, were exceedingly kind to me, and felt no other feelings than indignation toward my senseless persecutors.
"The guard then conducted me through the mob to the prison. I felt joyful that even a prison could now protect me from these villains in human form.
"Looking from my prison-window, I could see my trunk in the hands of officers Johnson, Scott, and others, who were taking it to the City Hall for examination. I learned afterward that they broke open my trunk, and as the lid flew up, the mob cried out, 'A paper, a paper!' A number seized it at once, as hungry hounds after a panting fugitive in the Southern swamps. They set up a yell of wild delight and one young man of profligate character, a son of one of the most respectable families in the place, glanced toward my prison window, and by signs and words expressed
his gratification. But their triumph was but for a moment. The paper was unrolled, and it was found to be one printed in Raleigh, and edited by Weston R. Gales, a very nice man, it is true, but one far from being suspected of holding abolition sentiments. The only other printed or written thing found in the trunk were some business cards of a firm in Raleigh, which had been handed me for distribution; but these were not considered incendiary! Shortly afterward I saw Messrs Scott and Johnson lugging my carpet-bag in the same direction my trunk had gone. This also was opened at the City Hall, and found actually to contain a pair of old shoes and a pair of old boots; but they did not pronounce these incendiary. Mr. Smith at length came to the prison and informed me that the examination had been completed; and, although nothing had been found against me, it would not be safe for me to leave the prison immediately. It was thought best that I should remain in prison until after nightfall, and then steal secretly away, being let out by the keeper, and pass unnoticed to the house of my old and tried friend, Mr. Boylan. Accordingly, between nine and ten o'clock I was discharged. I went by a back way leading to Mr. Boylan's residence. But I had hardly started on my perilous journey, when suddenly a large company of men sprang upon me, and before I had time to make any resistance, I found myself completely in their possession. They conducted me rudely, at times above the ground, and sometimes I was dragged along; but they moved as silently as possible in the direction of the gallows, which, at the time I am now speaking of, was
always kept standing upon the common, or, as it was termed 'the Pine,' or the 'Old Pine Field.'
"I now expected to be hurried suddenly into the world of spirits. I endeavored to calm myself as much as I could in that awful hour. I thought of that unseen region to which I was hastening. Now, I thought, I was to test the value of that religion which I had professed before men. I felt that I could trust in the great redemption, which had been secured for me, and for all men, in the death of my Saviour. He had suffered a violent death for me, and should I shrink from meeting him now? And yet when my mind reverted to the world and to my dear family, I dreaded to leave them. What would become of my wife and children, after all the labor I had made to redeem them from bondage? Although I had secured money sufficient to pay for them, according to the agreement made, it seemed inevitable, should I leave them, that some unfeeling white man would obtain it, and they be left to die in slavery, and the effort of a large part of my life spent in vain. Then the thought of my own death would again rush into my mind, and I was overwhelmed in the solemn contemplations of eternity. I tried to pray. 'O God,' I cried in my inmost soul, 'deliver me from the hands of these wicked men!' At length I observed that those who were carrying me changed their course a little from a direct line to the gallows. A hope, a faint glimmering sprang up within; but then, as they were taking me to the woods, I thought their intention was to murder me there. In such a place they would be less likely to be interrupted than in a spot so exposed as the
field upon which the gallows stood. Having conducted me to a little elevation covered with wood, they set me down.
" 'Now,' said they 'we want you to tell us the truth about those abolition lectures you have been giving at the North.'
"I thought I detected in the tone and manner of this demand that they were not quite up to the desperate courage of taking my life. And yet I replied as if death was in view. I said that I had related truthfully the circumstances before the court in the morning, and I could only repeat to them what I then said.
"'But that was not the truth. Now tell us the truth!'
"I replied that any different story would be false, and and if I must then die, and whatever they might think I would say in other circumstances, I would not pass into the other world with a lie upon my lips. One of them said,--
"'Well, Lunsford, you were always, when you were here, considered a clever fellow, and I did not think you would be engaged in the mean business of making abolition addresses at the North.'
"Several others made similar remarks in a sort of apology for not resorting to extreme measures with me. I replied to them that the people of Raleigh had always maintained that the abolitionists did not believe in expending much money in buying slaves; but contended that their masters should free them without pay. For myself, my simple object was the purchase of my family,
and I had labored to do so, without considering the character or the opinions of the persons I approached I had no time to enter into any league with abolitionists, and from my past conduct they certainly could not suppose that I would. After this and other conversation of a like kind, they became tired of questioning me. They at length had a consultation in a low whisper among themselves. Then a bucket was brought, and set down by my side; but what its contents, or for what object intended, I was unable to divine. But, in a moment, one of the number came forward with a pillow, and instantly a great weight was lifted from my mind. A flood of light and even joy sprang up within me. I felt now the crisis in this eventful night's experience had passed. They commenced stripping me, until every rag of clothes was removed. Then the bucket was brought near, and I felt relieved when I found it contained tar. One man whom I knew to be a journeyman printer of the place was the first to dip his hands into the tar, and was about passing them over my face. Mr. William Andres, of Raleigh, may wish to see his name in Print, and so I record it. Burns, a blacksmith in the place, arrested his arm, saying,--
"'Don't put any in his face and eyes.'
"He thereupon desisted. But he, with three other 'chivalrous gentlemen,' whose names I cannot recall, gave me what I suppose they were gratified to behold, --a complete coat of tar, sparing only my face. Then ripping open the pillow at one end, they held it over my head and commenced applying its contents to the tarred portions of my body. I have no doubt I was
well tarred and feathered, affording to these well-bred gentlemen another means for the exhibition of "Southern sports.' A fine escape, thought I, from hanging, provided they do not set fire to the feathers. I had some fear they would.
"These dignified labors having been completed, they gave me my clothes, and one of them, to lay surprise, handed me my watch, which he had carefully kept in his hands.
"They all expressed great interest in my welfare, advised me to proceed with my business the next day, told me to stay in the place as long as I chose, and, with words of like consolation, bade me good-night! They felt that they had now degraded me to a level beneath themselves. Of course I hastened to my family as soon as possible. They had become greatly alarmed for my safety. They were relieved at my presence, but somewhat distressed at the sad plight I presented. Shall I say it? Some of the persons who had participated in this outrage came into my house, influenced, probably, by a curiosity to witness the mode of removing a coat of tar and feathers. They were now lavish with their words of sympathy for me; they even regretted that the affair had taken place; that they had no objection to my living in Raleigh, or I might feel perfectly safe in going out to transact my business, preparatory to leaving; I should not be molested. Meanwhile, Mr. Boylan and other friends, understanding that I had been discharged from prison and finding that I did not come to them according to agreement, became alarmed, and had commenced a regular
search for me, on foot and on horseback. They explored the suburbs, and everywhere they supposed I might be. Hearing that I was in the hands of a mob, Mr. Smith called upon the governor to obtain his official interference. Shortly after my return, a guard came to my house, but I chose not to risk myself, even in my own home. I therefore went to Mr. Smith's, where this guard kept me safely until morning. They seemed friendly,--indeed, many of them being among the best citizens in town. My friend, Mr. Battle, the late private secretary to Governor Morehead, was one of them. He made an address to them, setting forth some incidents in my past life, the good conduct I had always exhibited, my services in connection with the governor's office, and the faithful manner with which I had discharged my duties there. In the morning, Mr. Boylan, true as ever in his friendship, and with great kindness of heart, assisted me in arranging my business, so that I might start with my family that day for the North. Leaving in this hurried manner, I was compelled to sacrifice much of my property. While at the North, some malicious persons had removed from the wood-lot all the wood that I had cut and corded, for which I expected to receive over one hundred dollars, thus relieving me of the trouble of its sale, or of being burdened with its care. I was compelled to submit to many other pecuniary losses, but these I was content to count as nothing, compared with the blessing of our liberation.
"In our preparation for departure, Mr. Boylan furnished us with provisions more than sufficient to
sustain the family to Philadelphia. Here we intended to abide for a time. He even sent his wagon to convey our baggage to the depot, offering also to send his carriage for my family, but another friend, Mr. Malone, had been before him in this kind offer, which I had agreed to accept.
"The emotions experienced at the moment of parting from my friends almost unmanned me, and I cried like a child. My poor mother was still alive, and the slave of my former mistress, Mrs. Haywood. The cars were to start at ten o'clock in the morning, and I called as early as I could on Mrs. Haywood, where my mother, now advanced in years, was staying. My old mistress was affected to tears, as her mind reverted to the past,--my faithfulness to her and to her children, my struggles and persecutions. In late years she had been kind to me, and, as I then learned, she and her daughter, Mrs. Hogg, then present at her house, had sent a note to the court before which I was tried, representing that, in consequence of my good conduct from my youth up, they could not believe me to be guilty of any offence. And now, with an attachment for me they could not repress, and with tears,--the offspring, as I believe of genuine sympathy, --they gave me their parting blessing. My mother was now called in, that I might bid her a final farewell. I was her only child, and I had no hope of seeing her again in this world. Our old mistress could not witness this scene of our parting unmoved. Unable to repress her feelings longer, she decided, to my infinite joy, that my mother should go with me. 'Take her, Lunsford, and care for her as I know you
will as a dutiful son. Should you ever become able to pay me two hundred dollars, you may; otherwise it shall be my loss.' The following paper was immediately drawn up; it is in the ordinary form of a pass:--
'RALEIGH, N. C., April 26,--
'Know all persons by these presents, That the bearer of this, Clarissa, a slave, belonging to me, hath my permission to visit the city of New York with her relations, who are in company with her; and it is my desire that she may be protected, and permitted to pass without molestation or hindrance, on good behavior.
'Witness my hand, this 26th day of April.
'ELEANOR HAYWOOD.'Witness,--J. A. CAMPBELL.'
"Leaving Mrs. Haywood's, I called upon Mrs. Badger, another daughter, and wife of Judge Badger, already mentioned. She seemed equally affected, and wept as she gave me her parting counsel. She and her sister, Mrs. Hogg, and I were once children together, engaging in the same sports, in the ample play-ground around the old mansion. We knew then but little of the different conditions of our birth; not then had we learned that they were of a superior and I of a subject race. In those days of childhood there were pencillings made upon our young hearts which time and opposite futures could not all efface. I trust these dear friends may never be slaves as I have been; nor their bosom companions and their little ones be in bondage like mine. The hour was now rapidly arriving when the cars were to start. The whole town seemed to be gathered at the
depot, and, among the rest, those turbulent spirits who, unsatisfied with the indignities they had already heaped upon me, appeared determined that my final departure should not be peaceable. Apprehending this, Mr. Boylan and others had arranged with my friends and the conductor that my family should be put in the cars, and that I should go out of the city by some secluded street, and, having gone a mile or two, pass over to the track and be taken up as they passed. The mob, supposing that I was left behind, at length permitted the cars to depart. Mr. Whiting, one of the agents of the road, kindly aided us in the purchase of our tickets, and protected us from being molested, as far as Petersburg, whither he was going. On his leaving, Captain Guion, of Raleigh, performed the same kind office as far as Alexandria. Here we were placed in the care of a citizen of Philadelphia, who protected us quite out of the confines of slavery into the land of freedom. The malice of my enemies did not cease upon my entering the cars upon the road out of Raleigh. Kirkham, a tin-ware worker, whom I identified as being one of the mob, I found was a fellow-passenger, and at every station at which the cars stopped he would rush out and endeavor to excite the people at the station to drag me from the cars, and in violent language denounce me as an instigator of insurrection and a negro abolitionist from the North. My friends, however, were more influential than this excitable individual, and we passed on unharmed.
"We had only one misfortune, and that was the losing of a trunk containing most of our valuable clothing.
This we have never been able to recover, but our lives are spared to rejoice in our freedom. When my feet pressed the pavements of Philadelphia, with my family around me, consisting of nine dependent beings, with my money nearly expended, and with nothing to depend upon but my two hands, I still felt happy; I felt as though I was in a new world. I could now draw a long breath and inhale, without let or hindrance, the pure atmosphere of freedom."
"If we have whispered truth,
Whisper no longer;
Speak as the tempest does,
Sterner and stronger;
Still be the tones of truth
Louder and firmer,
Startling the haughty South
With the deep murmur:
God and out charter's right,
Truce with oppression,--
Never! oh, never!"
MR. SMITHS PECUNIARY ENGAGEMENTS--VARIOUS INCIDENTS IN A SOUTHERN PASTOR'S LIFE--SHOOTING A SLAVE--A SAD FUNERAL--THE PLANTATION NEAR TARBORO'--IMPROVIDENCE OF SLAVES--CLOSE OF LUNSFORD's LIFE IN THE SOUTH.
THE incidents of the last chapter are so closely connected with the well-being of Lunsford that several individuals alluded to in this narrative deserve a further notice. Mr. Smith had, no doubt, some interest--a pecuniary one--in Lunsford's safety. Should the mob unfortunately make way with him, it would be an unpleasant matter to dispose of the thirteen hundred dollars brought from the North. It would be inhumanity to send a widow and seven orphan children to the North, inexperienced as they were, to gain a living, with all the prejudices against their color. Pondering upon these things, Mr. Smith felt very uneasy until he found Lunsford under a safe guard in his own house.
He was much in need of funds, and had rendered Lunsford all the aid in his power by writing complimentary
letters to the friends of the slave in Boston, confirming his statements, and urging the humane people to give liberally of their means. Lunsford had at length procured the needed funds, but was unwilling to transmit the money, fearing that his family might, under some pretext, be still retained in bondage. Now, that Mr. Smith really needed this money, is a fact quite apparent in the last note he addressed to Lunsford. It is as follows:--
"RALEIGH, December 2d.
"Dear Sir: I wrote you some time ago, but have received no answer; perhaps you did not receive my letter. If so, you are excusable for not replying. In yours, of September last, you stated that in some short time, provided I would write to certain gentlemen in Boston, confirming statements you had made to them in reference to yourself, your family, and the object of your visit to Boston, you would send me one thousand dollars or upwards. I did write, as you requested, and confirmed in substance all that you had said to them; but I have not had a line either from yourself or those gentlemen since. Upon the statement made by you I ventured to make some moneyed engagement, in complying with which I should dislike exceedingly to fail. These will be due in fifteen or twenty days, and if you possibly can by that time send me a check on New York for eight hundred or one thousand dollars, I shall be much relieved.
"Wishing you every success,
"B. B. SMITH."
Now, Lunsford had no intention of sending this money by mail, and trusting to some good fortune about the return, as an equivalent, his wife and seven children. He determined to see them himself, and safely transfer them to the land of freedom, and obtain as legal a transfer of their freedom into his hands, as the law would permit. This he accomplished, but not without great trial and the hazard of his life. One other gentleman, of a very different character, remains to be more fully noticed. Among the citizens in town who felt great indignation at the treatment of Lunsford, and the outrageous conduct of the mob was the Rev. Dr. Heath. He frequently conferred with Lunsford, at this and at other times. As he moved about his parish, and became more and more acquainted with its concealed iniquities, with the private life of the slave upon the plantation, the greater became his abhorrence of the system.
His hints, which were sometimes not the mildest, to his slaveholding flock, at length bred dissatisfaction, and though they dared not make this a ground for his dismissal, they did not hesitate to indicate their dissatisfaction in various ways. He determined at length to remove from the South, and take a parish in the Free States, where his conscience would be untrammelled, and where he could discharge his whole duty as a Christian minister. To this end, he sent in his resignation some time before Lunsford's first visit to the North, and was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. Lacy.
Lunsford would sometimes act as driver for Dr. Heath when making parochial calls upon his parishioners
on the plantations, at times when his own servant was otherwise occupied, or when absent. At one time they had gone some distance from Raleigh making final calls upon his more distant people previous to his going North. On this occasion he was accompanied by Dr. Davidson, one of the physicians attending his church, and as they were passing rapidly along the road, a slave overtook them, riding with great speed on horseback, in his haste waiting neither for saddle nor bridle, guiding the horse by his halter only. "Massa Davidson," said the negro, almost out of breath, "massa wants you to come back to do house as soon as you can; one ob de servants hab got shot!" "We knew," said Lunsford to the writer, "whence the slave had come, and we hastened to ascertain the disaster. The plantation was an extensive one, employing a large number of slaves. The young master, who had now the charge, had but lately come into its possession, his father having recently died. There were various opinions about his fitness to manage, successfully, so large an estate, and we were curious to get an insight into his mode of operations. On arriving, we were conducted through the wide hall, passing through the centre of the ample mansion, into the orchard beyond. Here, drawn up in an old ox-cart under the shade of the trees, lay a poor negro in the agonies of death, the blood oozing from his wounds and trickling from the tail of the cart. 'Examine him, doctor,' said the young planter, 'and see if you can save him.' He had received the contents of the two barrels of a gun, heavily charged with buck-shot, through the thick portions of his thighs. The doctor felt his pulse, and,
taking his penknife, ripped open the coarse, tow pants. He immediately understood the condition of the patient: and replied that the man could not live till morning; he was so reduced from loss of blood that it would be impossible for him to sustain the suppuration already began. After being shot, he had been brought in a rough cart from a corn-crib, more than a mile distant, near the overseer's house. Had he been left there, some hope of saving him might have been entertained. We learned afterward that the negro died before morning. The young planter then gave us a brief account of the circumstances leading to the casualty. It seems the negro, John, had but lately been permitted to take a wife, living upon a plantation some six miles or more distant. This distance he was compelled to travel after the day's toil was ended, and he must return in the morning in time to enter the field with the other slaves. The hour for commencing labor was early at this season, it being August, and the overseer was exceeding rigid in having the rules obeyed. That morning the man was some half hour, or more, behind time. The overseer had just recovered from a fever, and not feeling in the best humor, pounced upon poor John for his first victim, intending to set an example, that would in future suppress any insubordination. He called John to his house, and demanded the cause of his absence. He replied that he had been to see his wife, and had walked six miles that morning but had miscalculated the time. 'I will teach you better next time,' and, raising his hand, aimed a blow at the slave's head. The man threw up his arm to defend himself, but with no design of assault. 'Will
you dare resist?' said he, and, calling for assistance, he tied the man securely and placed him upon the floor of the corn-crib; then, going to his house, he took his double-barrelled gun and discharged the contents into the thigh of the slave as he lay bound upon the floor! The simple loss, in this case, was a young and valuable slave, worth one thousand dollars in the market. The advantage was good discipline secured upon the plantation." Lunsford inquired particularly about the treatment of the overseer. He was allowed to go unmolested, no notice whatever being taken of the outrage by the civil authorities. Dr. Heath frequently spoke of this instance, among others, of the barbarism of slavery, and he determined, once and forever, to remove from its cruel domain.
On another occasion he was solicited by the mistress of a large plantation of slaves to baptize seven children at the negro quarters. The quarters consisted of two large rooms,--an upper and a lower,--which ten slave women and fifteen slave men inhabited. He baptized the seven children in this instance, the mistress standing as sponsor, and assuming vows which the very nature of the institution would not permit her to perform. Of the seven children, the real mother of one only could be ascertained! The old nurses of the cabin caring for the children, while the women were at work in the field.
The last act, as we learned from Lunsford, performed as the pastor of this parish, was the burial of Colonel P----, the grandson of a distinguished actor in the American Revolution, and a signer of the Declaration
of Independence. The demoralization of slave-holding had almost ruined this ancient and honorable family; intemperance and profligate habits had at length crushed every manly virtue. The disgusting inebriation of the colonel was known to everybody, and it was predicted that his death would be sudden and calamitous. Returning from his drunken sprees, he would lie in his bed for several days, until the effects of the vile compounds were over. On this last occasion, he had remained shut up in his room over two days, and his family, becoming alarmed, burst open the door and found, to their terrible grief and consternation, that he had probably been dead more than twenty-four hours! His body-servant came to the parsonage for their pastor to perform the last sad rites over this unfortunate man's remains, who had thus not only ruined his noble name, but brought great disgrace upon all his connections. As the slave drove the clergyman to his late master's residence, several miles distant in the country, the horses, which were those used by the colonel, strove to turn in with them to the low dram-shops on the way. On one occasion Sam had quite a task in keeping them upon the road, so accustomed had they been to turn aside with their master in his visits to these places of infamy and ruin. The family found that it was impossible to keep the body until the day of burial, and it had been deposited in the family lot, near the old mansion. He could administer but few words of consolation to the crushed widow and her well-educated daughters. Their sufferings were rendered doubly severe at this time, as the daughters were entertaining at the
mansion several young ladies from the city, who were their classmates at school. The doctor could detect in this, and in many similar instances of defection from virtue, the insidious evils of slavery,--one vice generally fostering another; the intemperance of the South far surpassing that of the Free States, in proportion to the population. We shall notice only one other person connected with Lunsford's stay in Raleigh. Dr. Lacy, who succeeded Dr. H., was a man of very different views respecting the divine institution of slavery. What he could do incidentally to strengthen it, he never hesitated to do. He knew of Lunsford's struggles for freedom and for usefulness in the world; he admitted that he was a man of naturally fine abilities, and capable of commanding a high position among his race. He knew that his presence in Raleigh produced unhappiness among the slaves, and excited in many a strong desire for freedom. Many persons, therefore, interested in the permanency of the institution, were devising means for his removal; a plan had, doubtless, been suggested to Dr. Lacy. Meeting Lunsford one day, upon the street, he said to him that he would like to see him at his study, at a time which he named, as he had a matter to communicate to him which might be greatly to his interest to hear. Lunsford came at the appointed time, and, on being seated, Mr. Lacy stated that he had just received a printed document from President Roberts, of the Liberian Republic, which he would read to him. It set forth the great advantages of Liberia as a place of emigration for free blacks; it gave glowing descriptions of the country, and of the progress in
agriculture and the arts of civilization. Many colored persons of intelligence from America had been raised to posts of great honor and emolument. He referred to the case of Lewis Sheridan, a colored man whom Lunsford knew as being once a resident in North Carolina, but now doing well in Liberia, and at that time expecting an election to the presidency. The doctor even proposed, if he would leave immediately for Liberia, many of the people of Raleigh would assist in paying expenses. There was one important item in all this proposition, to which the doctor did not even allude, until suggested by Lunsford. It contemplated only his personal removal. What was to become of a wife and seven small children, all of them slaves? Mr. Lacy did not say that it would be easy to find a wife in Liberia, and that his wife might find a husband in Raleigh. "If this proposition had been made at a time when I was in a situation to purchase the freedom of my wife and little ones, with the understanding that they were to accompany me to that paradise of the colored man,--so considered, at least, by the Southern people,--I would gladly have entertained the proposition; but as it proposed only my own removal, I simply said I would consider it."
Although this book does not profess to speak of slavery in its worst features, yet Lunsford had suffered much incidentally, or, perhaps, accidentally, from the singular working of the institution. His father was shot by one of the city guards, in the back, a large charge of buck-shot entering. He was confined to his bed for weeks. He was innocent of any offence; he
had gone out, after dark, to the market, at the desire of his master, and was returning, with no intention of molesting any one. His wife's brother was also shot, while at work for the overseer. The cruelty of the latter compels him to seek security at his master's house. He is pursued by the overseer, his young master, John Boylan, refuses to succor him, and determines to have him punished. He escapes out of the house, and is shot as he runs across the field. Although not killed, he is maimed for life. Another man, belonging to the Boylan above, having run away on account of cruel treatment, is finally discovered by a neighbor, who has orders to shoot him on sight. He deliberately gets his gun, and shoots him through the head as he was passing across his field. Another man belonging to his master was shot by the patrol guard, after dark. In none of these cases was there a legal investigation; they were all passed over with but little comment, so used had the Southern people become to these scenes of blood.
Lunsford used frequently to accompany his master, Mr. Haywood, in the spring, to his largest plantation, near Tarboro'. Here he had an opportunity of witnessing many of the incidents of plantation life, leaving upon his mind very important lessons. Here over one hundred and fifty slaves were engaged in the various operations, of raising cotton, corn, and hogs. Lunsford and Sam, who usually accompanied them on these occasions, had no desire to exchange their comparatively comfortable home and clothing for the squalor and almost nakedness of these negroes. Mr. Haywood usually
remained three days upon the plantation, himself and servants being entertained at the house of the overseer. He inspected the condition of the crops in the autumn, and made arrangements for its being sent in flat-boats to Washington, and thence by vessels to New York. Many acres of corn on the stalk were left standing, and the swine, numbering at times over four hundred, turned into the field to gather their own provender. Having been fatted and killed, after this rough plantation style, the bacon is stored in the great smoke-house, to be distributed in rations through the year. In the spring, the whole force of the plantation is employed at the fisheries,--herring and shad abounding in the waters of the Tar River at the period referred to. At these times there is great laxity on discipline among the slaves, drunkenness, gambling, and licentiousness, prevailing to a most ruinous degree. Lunsford saw the gambling away of several weeks' rations, by the slaves, for a few quarts of villanous whiskey. This improvidence led to other vices,--thieving after night to supply the means of living, for that which had been squandered in gambling. The overseer on this place usually kept three dogs trained to the business of tracking runaways. The overseer's business was to make the land produce so much cotton, corn, and bacon. Beyond the labor required of the hands for this, he did not look. If they refused to labor, they were whipped; if they ran away, they were hunted by the dogs. It is true that Mr. Haywood had discharged one overseer, by the name of Warren, on account of his excessive cruelty. He had lost by this means during the year several
valuable men. One, the negro Ned, had been torn to pieces by the hounds. The overseer who had succeeded him was Worril, who was as much too lenient as Warren was too severe. Lunsford remembers, during one of their visits, Worril's failing in three attempts to whip the negro Phil. The desperate character of the man finally compelled him to desist, and he was sold South.
The wretched condition of the slaves on this plantation was owing, in a great measure, to his master's residence in Raleigh, and his inability, from other engagements, to supervise matters personally. Their improvidence led to much sickness and to frequent deaths. The house-servants of Mr. Haywood dreaded nothing so much as the threat of being transferred to this plantation. We have thus far considered the reminiscences of Lunsford Lane during his residence in a Slave State; how he conducted himself in a State of freedom, with the responsibility of the rearing of a large family, will be considered hereafter.
"Have ye heard of our hunting, o'er mountain and glen,
Through cane-brake and forest,--the hunting of men?
The lords of our land to this hunting have gone,
As the fox-hunter follows the sound of the horn;
Hark! the cheer and the hallo! the crack of the whip,
And the yell of the hound as he fastens his grip!
All blithe are our hunters, and noble their match.
Though hundreds are caught, there are millions to catch.
So speed to their hunting, o'er mountain and glen,
Through cane-brake and forest,--the hunting of men!"
THE RESCUED HOUSEHOLD ON THE SOIL OF FREEDOM--ATTENDS THE MAY ANNIVERSARIES IN NEW YORK AND BOSTON--ADDRESSES THE ANTI-SLAVERY CONVENTION--IS WELL RECEIVED-- EMPLOYED AS A LECTURER--REMOVES TO OBERLIN, OHIO-- OBERLIN RESCUE CASE, AND OTHERS.
TO Lunsford and his rescued household, as their feet pressed the soil of freedom, every sight and sound, and every breath they inhaled, seemed to bring a new joy to their hearts, and to fill their souls with new energy to enter upon the new and untried life before them. They were poor; but poverty to the industrious and virtuous is not the worst misfortune. They were of a despised race, and of a dark skin; but there were evils greater than those, which they had escaped. Good conduct, strict attention to business, and faithfulness in their duties to God and man, might soften these prejudices, perhaps in time remove them, and the dark skin might be no bar in coöperating with another race in the great enterprises of the benevolent and good.
Lunsford was a man of deep religious convictions, and of unfeigned reverence for his Maker; and one of his first acts, on reaching Philadelphia, was the offering up, in the midst of his family, devout thanksgiving to God for the wonderful interpositions in his rescue from the hands of wicked men, and the future and untold miseries which they might have experienced, had they not secured their freedom.
After a little rest in Philadelphia, calling upon his friends, and extending his acquaintance among other colored men, who had, like him, secured their freedom, he immediately set about seeking some means of living. He called upon those friends who had lately assisted him in releasing his family from bondage, and made known to them his situation. Henry C. Wright, an ardent friend of the colored man, in that city, advised him to go to New York, at the coming May anniversaries, with the promise that his case would be presented to the members of the anti-slavery convention which would assemble at that time. Mr. Wright, true to his promise, gave a brief account of Lunsford's late struggles for freedom, and the trials he had encountered. He closed by presenting Lunsford and his family to the convention, which included his aged mother, his wife, and seven children, all strangers, in a strange land,--all the earnings of a life gone to secure them that which by nature already belonged to them,--the right of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
At the desire of the convention, Lunsford gave them a, brief, clear, and intelligent history of his past life, of his labors for freedom up to the period of his recent
efforts in New York and Boston, in behalf of his family, and the persecutions which awaited him in Raleigh, and upon his way out; how that, out of them all, the Lord had delivered them. So impressed was the convention with his transparent honesty, his fine use of language, so entirely free from that almost unintelligible style of many of his race, so dignified and polite in his bearing toward others, that they determined to aid him in every way in their power. At the close of his address, a collection was taken, and over thirty dollars was contributed by those self-denying men toward his support. At the suggestion of his friends, he followed the members of the convention to Boston, where he was also well received, and a good collection taken. His remarks here also added to the good feeling excited in his behalf, and it was determined to employ him as a lecturer in the New England States, and thus contribute, as far as he was able, in awakening greater interest in the emancipation of his race.
The terms of his engagement having been arranged, he departed upon his mission as an anti-slavery lecturer. His associates in these labors were men distinguished for their anti-slavery efforts, with whom he often spoke upon the same platform. Among them he mentions the names of Parker Pillsbury, Wendell Phillips, Fred. Douglas, Charles L. Remond, and others. In this way he visited Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, lecturing in all the principal towns, scattering tracts, and endeavoring, in all laudable ways, to interest the people in the condition of the black man, and illustrating, in his own life, their ability,
under favorable conditions, to take care of themselves. That he was the humble instrument, under God, of doing much toward arousing the nation to the monstrous wickedness of slavery, in the United States, in the nineteenth century, no one can for a moment doubt. He may have added just that amount of fuel, small though it might be, that has kindled a conflagration over the decaying institution of cruelty and wrong. This conflagration will not cease until every rotten stick and timber in the house of slavery shall be consumed. Let us await calmly the day when, the rubbish and charred remains having been removed, the hand of honest free labor will visit these desolate regions, and rear upon the former ruins the substantial fabrics of a new and more glorious civilization.
In these self-denying labors, the generous people did not forget that the workman was worthy of his wages. He was enabled to support his family comfortably in Boston, and attend to the education of his children.
In May, 1848, he was invited to visit New York, and be present at the anniversary of the Baptist Rome Missionary Association. He was here requested to make some remarks. The Association was so much impressed with his good sense and zeal in every good work that they immediately engaged his services as colporteur, with instructions to operate especially among his own people, of whom a large number in all the populous towns are members of the Baptist Church. His labors, however, were not confined to this class, and his influence and sensible conversation upon religious subjects were sought by many others. In this good work
he continued to operate, with more or less success, for nearly two years. The seed of the Word thus sown, it is hoped, will be seen after many days.
In 1852, Heath & Graves published Hackett's Illustrations of the Scriptures, which work was the result of extensive travels in the Holy Land and careful investigation of many subjects of Biblical interest. Lunsford, desiring to better, if possible, his pecuniary condition, and at the same time scatter Scriptural knowledge, engaged his services as agent in the circulation of this work. In this enterprise he continued about two years.
At frequent times, during the last few years, information had reached Lunsford that many of his acquaintances from North Carolina had settled at Oberlin, Ohio. He opened a correspondence with them, and was so much pleased with their accounts of the mildness of the climate, and its correspondence to North Carolina,--in some respects thus reminding them of home,--that he determined, if possible, to remove thither. Death had also entered his household, and four of his children had been taken. The family all suffered much from the rigors of the climate of Massachusetts, and he felt persuaded that their health would be improved by removing to one milder. About the year 1856, he gathered up his effects and departed with his family, at great sacrifice of many social comforts, and at the severance of many ties in the goodly commonwealth of Massachusetts. Arriving at Oberlin, he looked about for a place of residence. He at length found a place, which he hoped his slender means would enable him to purchase. Unfortunately, he fell into
the hands of unprincipled land speculators, who succeeded in swindling him out of nearly all the funds he had invested. The small estate he was enabled to purchase, he found had been mortgaged to other parties for far more than it was worth. Unscrupulous men are by no means confined to the South, and the colored man must be upon his guard, here, as everywhere, against "the cruel man and the extortioner." The eager grasp for money and power regards neither condition nor color. Lunsford, not finding the comforts and conveniences of living there so great as he had been led to expect, and having been swindled out of a large portion of his slender means, determined to return to Massachusetts. The Oberlin rescue case having occurred about that time he felt no desire to remain where there was any doubt of maintaining the freedom of himself and family. The climate too, did not agree with them, and the additional sorrow of parting, by death, with another child, hastened their departure.
The administration of Mr. Buchanan was distinguished for the vigor and cruelty with which the fugitive slave law was enforced. Hundreds are the victims who were torn from their comfortable homes, in the Free States, and consigned to slavery. We are not now considering the question as to whether these persons were really fugitives; we simply state the fact that the history of our annals furnishes nothing which the future historian will read with so much pain as these arrests. The Oberlin and Wellington rescue case would of itself fill a large volume. We have space here only for a very brief outline. Many of its
unpleasant features must be left untouched. The following intelligent account has been recently given to the press. The case was a tedious and protracted effort on the part of the United States government, prostituted in all its branches to the service of slavery,--that "sum of all villanies," which assimilates to itself all that enlist in its defence and service,--to harass and punish a large body of peaceable, moral, and highly respectable citizens of North Ohio, simply because they could not sit quietly down and see a worthy young man of their town snatched from all the privileges of his home and of freedom, by a ruthless gang of man-stealers. Among their number were several students of the college at Oberlin, one of its professors, the rest being citizens of the town and neighborhood, of both colors.
On Saturday, September 11, 1858, two slave-hunters came to the house of Lewis D. Boynton, near Oberlin, and remained there over two nights. On Monday morning, a son of Boynton, only twelve years of age, took a horse and buggy of his father, and proceeded to the village of Oberlin. Finding the colored man John, sometimes called "Little John," he told him his father wished to hire him to dig potatoes. The unsuspecting man agreed to go, and to accompany the boy back. When about one-half mile from the village, a carriage, coming from a cross-road, came behind, when the lad (Boynton) stopped. The first intimation to John of the snare set for him was to find himself seized from behind by the arms, dragged from the buggy, pinioned and placed in the carriage between these brave
Kentucky captors. Fortunately for the kidnapped man, he was recognized, while being driven rapidly away, by an Oberlin student who was passing, and who made haste to give the alarm along the road and at Oberlin.
The lad (Boynton) returned to his father's house
with a golden reward for his part in the inhuman
betrayal of a fellow-being into slavery. Can it be believed,
even in this slave-holding and demoralized land, that
this same Lewis D. Boynton, the hired accomplice in
this nefarious business should have been selected and
allowed to act as one of the Grand Jurors* * See "Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims," page 103.
by whom the rescuers of this unfortunate negro were subsequently indicted?
* See "Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims," page 103.
To return: a large body of Oberlin residents responded to the alarm-call, and, in various vehicles, well-armed, took the road to Wellington, the nearest station upon the Cleveland & Cincinnati Railroad. Their numbers increased as they went, and, on arriving at W., they found the slave-hunters, with United States officers, at the hotel, waiting the arrival of the train. United States Marshal Lowe produced some papers and read them. The crowd demanded that the man be brought out. Some State officers present assured them that if they would be patient the United States marshal and assistants should be arrested as kidnappers. But the afternoon wore away, and nothing was done beyond preventing the departure of the man-stealers and their victim. Finally the prisoner was discovered at an upper window, and the crowd could wait no longer. A ladder
was placed, by which men reached the balcony, entered the house, and gained the attic story, and the prisoner was borne out and down among the crowd in a very short time. "No one," says the narrator, "was hurt, not a shilling's damage done, not a shot fired, and the boy was saved." The marshal, somewhat disturbed by these proceedings, asked if his life would be spared. He was answered that it would be, provided he would not again visit those parts on the same errand.
The government of the United States thereupon indicted thirty-seven persons, to appear before the United States Circuit Court, at Cleveland, to answer to the charge of "rescuing, or aiding, abetting, and assisting to rescue a fugitive from service or labor." As was expected, not a single friend of the administration concerned in the rescue was indicted. The policy was clear, from the circumstance that Boynton had been selected to serve on the Grand Jury. On the 8th of December, fourteen of the indicted persons were present, and were arraigned before the court. The Hon. R. P. Spaulding, Hon. N. P. Riddle, and S. O. Griswold, Esq., appeared as their counsel, undertaking their defence free of charge. Judge Spaulding announced that the accused were ready for trial, and requested trial immediately. This evidently disconcerted the district attorney Judge Belden, and he was obliged to admit that he was not ready for trial, and asked a delay of a fortnight to obtain witnesses from Kentucky. Judge Spaulding asked if it was "reasonable and humane that fourteen citizens of Ohio should be thrown into jail to await the movements of Kentucky slave-catchers?" The Court,
however, granted a continuance, and stated that the defendants would be held to bail in the sum of five hundred dollars each. "We give no bail, may it please the Court; and the prisoners are here subject to the order of the Court." Again, both the Court and prosecuting officer seemed confounded; but, after consultation, it was decided to discharge the prisoners on their own recognizance to appear at the March term. In the course of the winter, a young man, a student in Oberlin College, went to the neighborhood of Columbus to teach a school. His name was William E. Lincoln; he was one of the number indicted for participating in the rescue. He is described by Professor Peek as "a person of excellent character, and deportment." One day, when engaged in his school, he was summoned to the door by a man named Samuel Davis, a, bailiff of the United States Court, who informed him that he had a writ which it was his duty to execute, and produced handcuffs, which he proceeded to apply. Mr. Lincoln objected to being pinioned; said he should make no resistance, but would go with him at once. Put Davis was one of the men who got badly frightened at Wellington, at the time of the rescue, and insisted on putting the irons upon Lincoln's hands, and bore him away. He was taken to Columbus, twelve miles distant, and put in a foul cell, where the vermin were crawling over its walls, and no food was given him until three o'clock the next morning. Several visitors were allowed to come into his cell and insult him; among these was a man named Dayton, who had been one of the aids of United States Marshal Lowe, at the time of
the Oberlin kidnapping. The next day, Lowe took Mr. Lincoln to Cleveland, where Judge Wilson discharged him on his own recognizance to appear at the March court. These facts are gleaned from a spirited letter of Professor Peck to the Columbus State Journal. In the mean time the Grand Jury of Loraine County had unanimously found bills of indictment against the United States deputy marshal, Jacob Lowe, and others, for attempting to kidnap John Rice from Oberlin. In April, the trial of the indicted thirty-seven came on in Cleveland. After a ten days' hearing upon the single case of Lorin Bushnell, the jury brought in a verdict of guilty! The name of Mr. Langston was next called. The counsel objected to his trial going on before the same jury which had just heard and determined the case of Bushnell. Judge Wilson gave it to be understood that no other jury would be called. Judge Spaulding and the counsel then declined arguing the case. The judge said the prisoners would be allowed to go on their parole to return on Monday morning. The prisoners declined to give either recognizance or parole, and were taken to jail, where the officer declined to incarcerate them in cells, but made them as comfortable as he could in his own house. At this stage of the proceedings, the prisoners applied to the supreme court of the State of Ohio for a writ of habeas corpus, to take them from the custody of the United States marshal. This was heard by the full bench, and the writ refused, on the ground of comity to the United States courts. In this decision three judges agreed; the other two, Brinkerhoff and Sutliff, dissenting. As the time
drew nigh for the trial of the four kidnappers, indicted, as above stated, by the Grand Jury of Loraine County, and they saw no escape from the Ohio penitentiary, a proposition to compromise the whole matter was made and agreed upon, by which the United States abandoned all prosecutions against the rescuers, and the Ohio authorities agreed to abandon the suits against Jennings and others. The people of Ohio made sufficient resistance to the law to show the country its odious inhumanity. The courts of Ohio were wise in not resisting the United States, as it subsequently gave to the cause of freedom an immense moral power, when the government came over to the side of justice and humanity.
In portions of some of the Free States, where there had been a large influx of Southern people, very little resistance was made to kidnapping, and hundreds of unfortunate colored men, under the countenance given by the existence of the fugitive slave law, were sent into slavery, and but little time was wasted by unprincipled men in deciding the question of their right to freedom. For several years previous to the time of which we are now speaking, southern Illinois had been the hunting-ground of the men-stealers, and it is stated that within the past ten years, scores perhaps hundreds, of freemen have been kidnapped. The law is powerless to punish the villains, or to bring back the captives. There were many counties in which no man of color was safe; and there was a large band of men, known to each other by the secret badges of their profession, who lived by making negroes their prey. As the object of this work is to deal with facts, rather
than fancy, we extract the following interesting account from the Chicago Tribune, of a recent kidnapping case near Clifton, Illinois:--
"On Sunday, June 3d 1860, three colored men, living in or near Clifton,--a village near Ashkum, a station on the Illinois Central Road, about sixty miles from Chicago,--were enticed by seven or eight whites into a country store, or grocery, and, when there, were pounced upon by their armed decoys, now turned assailants, and, under threats of instant death from revolvers pointed at their breasts, were compelled to submit to the commands of those who, by force and fraud, had overpowered them. They were instantly hurried off to Ashkum, and their captors, having timed their movements to correspond with the motions of the down train, thrust their prey, still guarded by an array of pistols and bowie-knives, into the cars, and bore off the unfortunate men. All this was accomplished without a legal process of any kind,--by brute force alone, illegally and diabolically. The indignation of the quiet community in which this occurred was thoroughly aroused outrage; but all parties--the wronged and the wrong-doers--were gone; hid in a Slave State, under the shadow of the institution that justifies all such atrocities; and everybody despaired of being able to bring the captives back, or the scoundrels to the punishment that they had richly earned.
"The kidnapped men were carried to St. Louis as fast as steam could convey them, jealously guarded all the way. Arrived there, they were thrust into a negro-pen, which still disgraces that free-soil city, and the
work, with a view to the profits of the great crime, was commenced. In answer to the inquiry directed to each, 'Who is your master?' one averred that he was then, and always had been, a free man; another refused to answer; while the third, the man Jim, said that he had been the property of Aime Pernard, a farmer near Carondelet, seven miles from the city. The man who claimed to be free, and his silent fellow-prisoner, were tied up and cruelly flogged,--the one to refresh his recollection of the servitude that his captors suspected, and the other to open his mouth to a confession which he would not make. Whipping proving of no avail, other forms of cruelty--hunger the most potent--were tried,--but with no better success. At last, both of these men--one torn ruthlessly from his wife and children, and the other from a neighborhood in which his industry had made him respected, and each from a life of freedom and enjoyment--were sent South and sold. They were prisoners of war, and as such, in this time of peace, were compelled to submit to the captors' will. In a State which permits the buying and selling of men and women, and accounts it patriotism, what could they do? Poor, friendless, and black, adjudged to have no rights that white men are bound to respect, what could they do? The tide that has overwhelmed four millions of their kind has overborne them. They sunk into the great vortex, never to be heard of more. A "nigger funeral"--perchance of some unfortunate creature who has died under the lash for his repeated attempts to gain freedom, or of one whom a rifle-shot sent into the swamp had killed, or of a man prematurely worn
out by labor, and the whip, hunger, and the branding iron--will close the earthly career of each. There is a hereafter. 'Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.' While this whipping, shipping, and selling was going on, Aime Pernard, the owner of Jim, was visited by one of the kidnappers. He went with orders to buy Jim, running,--buy the chances of a capture, after five years' absence. One hundred dollars was the sum named for this fugitive piece of flesh and blood. But it was indignantly refused. The sum was doubled, trebled, quadrupled, and, at last, multiplied by ten; but all temptations failed to get them a legal title to their prey. They served this purpose, however: the owner's suspicions were aroused by the amount offered by the scoundrels, and their unconcealed eagerness to effect a trade. On Saturday, a week after the capture, he sent a negro woman into St. Louis,--the woman being the mother of Jim,--to make the inquiries the case seemed to demand. The mother's instinct led, her to the right place. Admitted to the pen, she recognized her son, learned from his lips his sufferings and danger and then, with such speed as she could command, hurried back to the master's house. Her story sent him into the city, and to the slave-pen direct. Jim's story was repeated with such emphasis and particularity that every drop of that master's blood tingled in his veins. His haggard appearance, his wounds, and marks of stripes attested to the master's sight the truth of the words that fell upon his ears. He called the keeper of the place, commanded the humane treatment
of his charge, and left, with the promise that he would return and relieve him of his charge. This was on Sunday morning. Very early on the following day, Aime Pernard appeared again at the prison-gate, to pay the sum--one hundred dollars--allowed by the laws of the State to the captors of a fugitive, and the jail fees, amounting to thirty-five more; and to rig Jim out in a new suit, which his master had brought along, was but a half-hour's work. This done, the two went back to Carondelet, Jim yet doubtful of his fate. But, after a day or two, his case was talked over between his master and himself, and when we state the result, we afford proof of Jim's eloquence, and the generosity and nobleness of the master's heart. Jim's free papers were made out, his stock of money was considerably increased, a ticket to Clifton was put in his hand, and, walking by the side of his late master, now protector and friend, the two crossed the Mississippi into Illinois. Here, seating him in the Northern train, the master, with tears flowing down his cheeks and a warm pressure, of the hand, bade Jim good-by, and invoked for him God's blessing to speed him on the way!
"On Wednesday evening, Jim made his appearance, suddenly and without warning, at Clifton, whence he had been carried off. He was waving his free paper over his head. A little crowd collected around him, and he briefly related his adventures, and the kindness of that master. A gentleman harnessed a horse to take him to the farm where he had been employed, and another, with rare consideration, rode off to warn Jim's wife of his return and coming. 'Niggers have no feeling;
it don't hurt 'em to have their domestic life made the plaything of white men's cupidity and lust' say the man-sellers. That strong woman's cry of joy, as she clasped her husband in her arms; her devout thanksgiving to God that her life was not left all dark; her breaking down under the flood of emotion which the glad event aroused; her sobs and plaints, interrupted only by unuttered prayers to the Father of white and black alike; the deep feeling Jim displayed; that delicious joy, ennobled by the new consciousness of freedom and security in the possession of a wife and a home,--these, leaving not a dry eye in that little crowd of lookers-on, disprove the slander. And to-day, the relation of the scene at that meeting even in Clifton, where it is a thrice-told tale, brings tears from eyes that are unused to weep.
"There is not much to add to this narrative. The ladies of Clifton, moved by the rare generosity of Aime Pernard, united in a letter, thanking him in warm terms for what he had done, and inviting him to pay them a visit at his earliest convenience, that they might in person point out to him the evidence of the good he had done.
"Mr. Pernard's reply to the ladies was a very honorable and noble one, which, but for its length, would have been inserted here."
We close this chapter with the following very touching incident, which reminds us of many similar scenes on the Pennsylvania border, where, communities of colored persons had peacefully congregated, and were living happily until the rigorous enforcement of the fugitive
slave law compelled them to flee, with all their effects, to a safer and more distant locality. The account is taken from the New York Independent, with this heading: "A Methodist Church fleeing to a City of Refuge." The case is one of a touching character, for which it has responsible authority saying that all its facts may be relied upon.
"A few days since, I was travelling in the neighborhood of the great road (once, governmental, when it was constitutional for the general government to have roads or build them) leading from the capital of the Union to the 'frontiers.' Here I saw what the historic page describes, but which I hoped my eyes and heart would never be pained with seeing,--a church fleeing for refuge. Some on foot, leading their children by the hand; others in wagons, and following the 'leading of the better Providence,' were forsaking their homes, lands, neighbors, and the church of their adoption, to find, under the flag of the Crown, that 'liberty and the pursuit of happiness' denied them under the stars and stripes.
"Tears and sorrows were their companions. Yet, bidden by their heaving bosoms, were hearts strong in the faith of the covenant-keeping God, that, under a colder sky, and on a more congenial soil, his blessed manifestations they should enjoy, and their blood, and the blood of their kindred and children, no man should dare to claim. True, they had left farms and firesides, homes and friends; but they were carrying with them the altar in the heart, and the Shekinah.
"As I wished them a hearty God-speed, I remembered
that at the last quarterly meeting of the Methodist Episcopal Church, I had seen them surround the altar, and there commune, with myself and others, at the table of the Lord. I thought, as I ran over the names of the remnant left, and behold, here was a large moiety of the church,--enough to form a new church,-- 'fleeing into the wilderness;' I thought, too, of Pastor Robinson's Church in the Mayflower,--that Puritan Church from the West of England, among whom were maternal ancestors; of that church which fled to Holland, numbering with it my paternal ancestors; of Huguenots, who found in the Georgias that freedom to worship God which France denied. A host of worthy examples came crowding into my mind. The Holy Family, too, who had sought and obtained in Egypt, liberty and life that the constituted authorities of the Fatherland had refused them; and I said to myself, They are in good company. Better to cast in my lot with these than with the Herods and Henrys and Harleses, and other oppressors of God's people.
"The pursuer was on their track; they were the hunted, panting fugitives. So, too, the, minions of Herod sought for my infant Lord. I could not be ashamed of them. Before them were the wilds of Canada and hardships, poverty, and suffering. But Liberty, blessed spirit, was there also. Behind them was the hated rice-field and cotton and slavery.
"I know where they were from, and who claimed them, and my duties under the Constitution, in the mind of their claimant; but I remembered who owned them, having purchased them with his own blood; and
no marshal's baton, no power on earth, should have
persuaded or forced me to detain them a moment. Let
no man talk to me of law, and my duties as a law-abiding
subject. I am a law-abiding and law-loving subject,
as were all my fathers before me; but my mothers
have been scourged, fined, imprisoned, for refusing
to obey the laws of the crown of England,--self-constituted
authorities of God,--and their descendant
honors and venerates them for their disobedience.
Their blood flows freely and hotly in his veins. It
curdles at the fugitive slave law, and will spill the last
drop before yielding the slightest obedience to it. Law
must commend itself to my conscience, before I can
conscientiously obey it. My conscience is not the
creature of the law, but above it, beyond it, could exist
without it. A violated conscience, what law can heal?
Yet I would not resist by force this law, however
hateful or odious, nor would I resist any law. It is one
thing to resist, and another thing to refuse to obey. A
refusal to obey may call for penalties, and stripes may
be gloried in, and a dungeon become the paradise of
R. P. S."
"When I behold this fickle, trustless state
Of vain world's glory, flitting to and fro,
And mortal men tossed by troublous fate,
In restless seas of wretchedness and woe,
I wish I might this weary life forego,
And sweetly turn unto my happy rest,
Where my free Spirit might not any more
Be vexed with sights that do her peace molest."
PRACTISES THE HEALING ART--DR. LANE'S VEGETABLE PILLS-- HIS PARENTS JOIN HIM--THEIR QUIET LIFE AT WRENTHAM-- THEIR DEATH--LUNSFORD'S CONNECTION WITH THE COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH IN JOY STREET, BOSTON--INTERESTING DOCUMENTS.
FAILING in his Western enterprise, Lunsford returned to Massachusetts, and determined to settle in Worcester. His means by this time were nearly exhausted; but, possessing good health, natural resources, and a disposition to labor, he soon placed his family in comfortable circumstances. We have omitted, thus far, to mention one fact in Lunsford's past life which added something to his pecuniary support and increased the respect entertained by those who knew him well. Early in life, when a slave in Mr. Haywood's family, he had evinced considerable knowledge and good judgment in the curative art. Although he had perused no work or treatise upon "materia medica," we have no doubt that the best-informed members of the profession had much more respect for his
evident good sense and modesty of professions than for the multitude of quacks who add nothing to the health or to the credit of the community.
The vegetable medicines used by Lunsford among the slaves upon his master's plantation, where he was permitted at times to give his advice, were those of his own selection and the result of continued experiment. His success in many cases in Raleigh among the humbler classes, where for a time he practised the healing art, was a circumstance particularly noticed. Soon people of the better class sought his advice, and readily accorded to him the physician's prenomen of Doctor. He had continued to practise the art after his settlement in the Free States, as opportunity admitted, never designing, however, to enter upon it as a profession.
And yet if Dr. Lane's Vegetable Pills have never done much good to mankind, he promises they will do no harm; but they have added something to his pecuniary support. We shall now return to an earlier period in Lunsford's history, to detail several events that added much to the happiness of every member of his family. About the year 1844, whilst the family were residing at Boston, his father joined him. This event was brought about in the following way:--
Mrs. John Haywood, many years before this, had left his father free, with the understanding that he was to remain in the family as steward, in which office he had acted with great acceptance for years before. This desire on Mrs. Haywood's part arose from the circumstance that her youngest daughter, Frances, was at this time only eleven years old, and she was desirous that
Uncle Ned--by which sobriquet he was familiarly Known--should remain until she was of age. His peculiar business, at odd moments, when relieved from other duties, was to tote about this young heiress-apparent of future slaves, who were in turn to do the same "toting" for the generations yet unborn. It was the request of Mrs. Haywood--who, no doubt, imagined that her children would inherit her benevolent disposition--that Uncle Ned should be paid remunerative wages during this period, in view of his valuable services in maintaining, as far as a sensible servant could, the dignity and good order of the family. The seven years passed by, during which Uncle Ned remained faithful to his post, but no payment for services was forthcoming. They could not think now of turning him away in his old age to care for himself; they therefore pressed him to remain, and he continued to make himself useful to the children of a new generation for seven years after.
They were, indeed, kind to him;--how could they be otherwise! Such was his sense of respect for the family of the Haywoods, such the goodness of his heart, that though they had broken their solemn contract with him, he ever entertained the kindest feelings toward them, and would never allow even his own wife or child to utter in his presence a disparaging sentence. During this time, the son, by the efforts already detailed, having secured a comfortable home in Boston, intimated to the family in Raleigh the satisfaction it would be to have his father join him where his aged wife also lived. The Haywoods consented to this
proposition, and Uncle Ned soon found himself surrounded by the strange sights and sounds of civilized life in Boston. Unused to such scenes, so unlike life in the country, his son, to render life more congenial to his habits, more easy and agreeable, procured him the situation of gardener to the villagers about Wrentham. Fortunately for the aged father, the Rev. Horace James was at this time the colleague of the Rev. Dr. Fisk, pastor of the Congregational Church in Wrentham. In Mr. James he found a true friend and sympathizer. He employed Uncle Ned in taking care of his garden and grounds, and in many ways added to his comfort, making up in a large degree for the kindness experienced in the old family mansion in Raleigh. Very soon, through the efforts of his industrious son, the subject of this memoir, a comfortable home was purchased for his aged parents. Here Uncle Ned was permitted for more than fifteen years to enjoy the society of his wife and the grandchildren, who often made them visits from Boston.
He secured the respect of the whole community, and by his polite and obliging manners endeared himself to all. At his death the people in large numbers came to pay a last tribute of respect to the remains of a good man. The body was escorted by a large procession to one of the churches in town, and two clergymen of different denominations were present to bear their testimony to his worth, and to perform the last sad rites due to a deceased follow-mortal. The religious papers of the day spoke of his pious walk, and the happy
example left by this descendant of a despised and downtrodden race.
Three months after the death of his father, Lunsford was called to the death-bed of his mother; her end was hastened by a paralytic shock, which she had experienced several years before. They were buried side by side, in Wrentham,--beloved and esteemed for their virtues by the whole community.
During the period alluded to above, Lunsford and family resided in Boston and enjoyed frequent communication with the aged parents living in Wrentham.
The family had connected themselves with the First Independent Colored Baptist Church. The disposition of Lunsford to render himself useful in every good word and work was strong evinced in his efforts to aid this church. The old building, now known as the "Joy Street Church," having fallen into decay, the members came together to devise means for its repair, and, if advisable, the entire remodelling of the edifice. With great unanimity they selected Mr. Lane as their agent to solicit subscriptions for this object. In this work he was engaged nearly two years, procuring for the society a large portion of the funds with which the object was successfully accomplished, in the present neat and comfortable building.
The following documents may seem curious to the citizens of Massachusetts, who are unacquainted with the business of buying and selling men, women, and children. Lunsford, as every prudent man should, who has ever been in like circumstances, has preserved carefully
the bills of sale which accompanied the transfer of his wife and children to his hands. Both are in the handwriting of Mr. Smith. The first is that of his daughter Laura, as follow:--
"KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS, That for, and in consideration of, the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars, to me in hand paid, I have this day bargained and sold, and do hereby bargain, sell and deliver, unto Lunsford Lane, a free man of color, a certain negro girl by the name of Laura, aged about seven years, and hereby warrant and defend the right and title of said girl to said Lunsford and his heirs forever, free from the claims of all persons whatsoever.
"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, at Raleigh, this 17th day of May, 1841.
"B. B. SMITH., (Seal.)"Witness--ROBT. W. HAYWOOD"
The following is a similar document pertaining to the sale of his wife and the other six children, to which the papers following are attached:--
"KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS, That for, and in consideration of the sum of eighteen hundred and eighty dollars, to me in hand paid, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, I have this day bargained, sold, and delivered unto Lunsford Lane, a free man of color, one dark mulatto woman, named Patsy, one boy named Edward, one boy also, named William, one boy also,
named Lunsford, one girl named Maria, one boy also, named Ellick, and one girl named Lucy, to have and to hold the said negroes free from the claims of all persons whatsoever.
"In witness whereof, I have hereunto affixed my hand and seal, this 25th day of April, 1842.
"B. B. SMITH. (Seal.)"Witness--THOS. L. WEST."
"The execution of the within bill of sale was this day duly acknowledged before me, by B. B. Smith, the executor of the same. In testimony whereof I have hereunto affixed the seal of said court, and subscribed my name at office, in Raleigh, the date above.
"JAS. T. MARRIOTT, Clerk."
"I, William Boylan, presiding magistrate of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for the county aforesaid, certify that Jas. T. Marriott, who has written and signed the above certificate, is clerk of the court aforesaid, that the same is in due form, and full faith and credit are due to such his official acts.
"Given under my hand and private seal (having no seal of office) this 26th day of April, 1842.
"WM. BOYLAN, P. M." (Seal.)
"TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME-- GREETING:--Be it known, That William Boylan, whose signature appears in his own proper handwriting to the annexed certificate, was, at the time of signing the same, and now is, a Justice of the Peace, and the presiding magistrate for the County of Wake, in the State aforesaid, and as such he is duly qualified and empowered to give such certificate, which is done here in the usual and proper manner; and full faith and credit are due to the same and ought to be given to all the official acts of said William Boylan as presiding magistrate aforesaid.
"In testimony whereof, I, J. M. Morehead, Governor, Captain-general, and Commander-in-chief, have caused the great seal of the State to be hereunto affixed, and signed the same at the city of Raleigh, on the 26th day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, and in the sixty-sixth year of the Independence of the United States.
"J. M. MOREHEAD.
BY THE GOVERNOR.
"P. REYNOLDS, Private Sec'y."
"Oh, dark, sad millions, patiently and dumb
Waiting for God, your hour at last has come,
And Freedom's song
Breaks the long silence of your night of wrong!
"Arise and flee! shake off the vile restraint
Of ages! but, like Ballymena's saint,
The oppressor spare;
Heap only on his head the coals of prayer!
"Go forth, like him! like him, return again
To bless the land, whereon, in bitter pain,
Ye toiled at first,
And heal with freedom what your slavery cursed!"
THE REBELLION OF SLAVE-HOLDERS--LUNSFORD LECTURES ON THE SUBJECT--WHAT SHALL BE DONE WITH THE FREEDMEN?-- THE WELLINGTON HOSPITAL--APPOINTED AS STEWARD-- ALACRITY OF COLORED MEN TO AID THE GOVERNMENT-- THEIR POLICY--MR. WRITING'S LETTER--THE TESTIMONY OF HISTORY ON THE SUBJECT OF THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGROES IN WAR.
IN the remaining portions of this narrative, some account will be given of Lunsford's life and conduct at the beginning of the present rebellion. So intimately are the interests of the colored race connected therewith that the history and progress of the one cannot be considered without the other. Few persons in the community are willing wholly to ignore the question as to what shall be done with the four million persons in bondage. Whether right or wrong, the irrepressible
desire, on the part of these colored children of the South, for freedom, is forcing itself upon us in many ways, by their actual appearance in multitudes in the Free States, as our armies advance into the domain of slavery, or swarming on the Southern coast, whenever our victorious forces compel the retirement of their owners.
What shall be done with four million slaves, is the question on thousands of lips. Will they labor as freedmen for a living? Can we ever educate them so that they shall not be continual pensioners upon our bounty? And, finally, the question is forced upon us, Will they fight for their freedom, since the slave-holders of the South still continue their rebellion to keep them in bondage?
Lunsford Lane, at this time residing in Worcester, endeavored, both in public and in private, to answer some of these questions. His long residence at the South, and his extensive acquaintance with persons of his race, made him in some sense a representative of their views. To this end he visited a number of towns, and, where he was kindly received and a hall could be obtained, he lectured.
The present writer was at that time residing in Wilkinsonville, where he first made the acquaintance of Lunsford, and so much interested did he become in his history that he is only fulfilling a promise then made, that at some time he would endeavor to make more public the foregoing history. Dr. Lane, at the same time, gave a lecture in the hall of that village, which was very well attended, and with which the people were much pleased. His remarks, evinced a practical good
sense which all seemed to appreciate. He spoke substantially as follows:--
"The wishes of the colored people are much misunderstood by their friends North and South. We desire, in the first place, freedom in its truest and best sense,--not a mere license to do as we please. Having secured this, we wish to be situated so as to be profitably employed, so as to benefit the State as well as ourselves. We have no desire to remain in the Northern States, except as a temporary place of refuge from slavery. This is not our native climate. We love warmer suns and a more productive soil. Here our offspring wither and die. They revive and flourish under the warmer skies of the South. As soon as peace is concluded, and security for life and limb is guaranteed, we would return to a clime so well suiting our constitutions. In North Carolina alone, there are thousands of acres of unoccupied lands, which might be made to flourish under the diligent culture of the black man. We could occupy these lands as tenants or as owners, adding largely to the annual productions of cotton, rice, wheat, and vegetables.
"In a state of freedom, our wives and daughters would not be employed in the rough out-door labor of the men, as now. They would drop the spade, the hoe, and the plough, and attend more to the duties of home in the rearing of our neglected offspring, giving far more attention to their cleanliness and comfort. We know they are ignorant. We would want schools and teachers, where they may be taught lessons of morals as well as of industry. The railroads of the South
have employed nearly as many females, old and young, in their construction, as men. The pick, the shovel, and the cart, have been operated equally by the females. This should not be. Our children are thus neglected, and grow up as ignorant as the brutes.
"We want more freedom for Northern teachers and religious instructors to visit the South, that they may spread before us the life-giving pages of God's Word. Heretofore, ignorance and prejudice have almost banished these devoted men from the holy labors to which they were willing to devote their lives. We have no desire to leave the United States for a residence in the British Provinces, under a government with which we are not acquainted; nor to emigrate to Liberia, or to the West Indies. The South is our home; and we feel that there we can be happy, and contribute by our industry to the prosperity of our race, and leave the generation that succeeds us wiser and better. No greater mistake can, therefore, be made than to suppose that we desire to come North. We only desire a secure freedom in the South. We hope not only to support ourselves, but to add greatly to the wealth of the country, in the way of exports of surplus corn, and cotton, rice, and sugar. We expect to be more decently clothed ourselves, and to purchase more and valuable articles from the industrious and mechanical North. The old, clumsy implements of agriculture that have been a source of weariness these many years we shall throw away, and purchase of Massachusetts her hoes and ploughs and rakes and cultivators and mowing-machines. Our men and women in the field will then
have clothing enough to cover their nakedness; not as now abashing the modesty of the refined and virtuous. The old 'quarters' and the rude, uncomfortable cabin, will give place to more convenient and healthy houses. We shall provide for our families more healthy and nourishing food. The provender heretofore has been chiefly corn and bacon,--not such bacon as we find here at the North. The swine of the South are a far different race from that known at the North. There the herds run wild in the woods, subsisting upon roots and nuts. A few weeks before Christmas, the whole herd is with difficulty driven into a pen in the open air, to consume a certain number of bushels of corn in the ear or on the stalk. After being cured in the great smoke-house, the sides are dealt out, in rations of from two to four pounds per week, to the slaves. This, with the peek of corn, constitutes their subsistence weekly, from year to year. We do not expect or need luxuries; but we hope, in the good time coming, to add to the above good healthy bread and butter and milk. Tea and coffee, being unknown articles in the cabin, would then be in demand. There is no branch of business or of commerce which would not be benefited by our elevation and industry. Millions of acres, now worthless, would be made to bud and blossom as the rose."
Thus Lunsford sought, in a very unpretending way, to awaken a renewed interest in the colored race; hoping that advantage might be taken of this rebellion, by which great blessings might be conferred upon his unfortunate brethren in the South, who, unlike himself, were yet in bondage. He continued these and other
labors as he could, until an event occurred which brought him into an entirely new relation.
Deep were the sympathies aroused by the fearful carnage of civil war; thousands were made sick by the sudden change of life and diet, and many of these found in T. W. Wellington, of Worcester, a true and generous friend. The Massachusetts sick and wounded, at an early stage of the war did not receive that amount of care needed to preserve life. They were languishing in the hospitals near the seat of war, or in Washington, when a little more attention to their wants, and a change of climate to one nearer home, it was hoped, would be instrumental in saving the lives of these patriotic men. Mr. Wellington early saw that something must be done, and that there was no time for delay. With no desire for display, and in a quiet manner, he secured a roomy house at No. 110 Mason Street, Worcester, which he opened on the 20th of August, 1862. Having known Lunsford Lane sufficiently to feel entire confidence in him, he placed him as steward over the hospital, into which his family removed. Mr. Wellington's intention at first was to receive the sick and wounded from the battle-field, and so communicated his intention to the Secretary of War; but the War Department, from various prudential reasons, refused to have the soldiers removed to hospitals in their respective States.
Mr. Wellington immediately determined to receive those who became sick or disabled in the various camps of instruction in the State. The building was provided at his own expense, and was pleasantly situated, and
furnished with every convenience for the ease and comfort of the invalid. Spring beds and soft mattresses were not wanting. The best medical aid the city afforded was employed. The steward and his family, Mr. Lane and wife and two daughters, were constant in their attendance and care in the duties of nursing. A better selection could not have been made than this. A more thorough and whole-souled devotion to the wants of men suffering in a holy cause is seldom seen. The numerous letters received by Mr. Wellington from those who had recovered their health and were permitted to join their commands on the battle-field were most gratifying. These letters were especially pleasing to Mr. Lane, as they often spoke of his faithfulness and the many kind acts they had experienced at his hands and from his family.
Although Mr. Wellington was disappointed by the rigid rules adopted by the War Department, at Washington, in not permitting the sick and disabled who were near the seat of war to be cared for in their own States, he found ample opportunity for the exercise of benevolence near home. The whole number received into the hospital, during the five months it was in operation, was between fifty and sixty. These, it will be remembered, were sick and disabled soldiers from the camps in the State. Recruiting in this State had nearly ceased in the fall, and the regiments in camp had marched to the seat of war. The Wellington Hospital was therefore left without patients, from want of material at home to work upon. Notwithstanding, the hospital was kept open and his steward and family employed
for a number of months, hoping that the order at Washington might be revoked or modified, and allow the soldiers suffering in the hospitals around Washington to be cared for by the generosity of their fellow-citizens.
The alacrity with which the colored people throughout the country have aided the government in the care of the sick, and in the various duties in camp and on the march, is worthy of great praise. They seem fully to understand that one great result of the war is to benefit them, and hence they are willing to offer themselves freely upon the altar of their country.
It was the part of wisdom that the government of the United States should take advantage of the friendly feeling of the colored people, amounting as it did to the most decided loyalty, and thus render available their good offices in the restoration of the Union and the suppression of the rebellion.
The policy of the government in reference to the persons of African descent is now most decided, and the Proclamation of Emancipation is now daily being enforced.
William Whiting Esq., Solicitor to the War Department, in response to an invitation to address the convention of colored citizens at Poughkeepsie, has written a letter, important from the information it contains and the official assurances which it conveys. We quote the concluding portions, as setting forth the determination of the government as to their future treatment of a large and important class of our citizens:--
"On the 22d of May the War Department issued a general order (No. 143) establishing a bureau in the Adjutant General's office for the organization of colored regiments, whereby the system of employing them as a part of the forces of the United States has become a fixed and permanent policy of the government. That policy, sanctioned by Congress, carried into practical effect by the government, has been approved by the general consent of wise and patriotic men. The country cannot afford to lose the aid of its best and chief supporters in the South.
"The employment of colored troops, it is true, was in the beginning experimental. The law of 1862, which first authorized them to enter the service, provided no means of payment.
"The second law which permitted their employment, authorized them to be paid ten dollars a month and one ration a day. This law, was, however, made with reference to those who by force of arms, or by provisions of statutes, had been recently freed from bondage.
"The important class of colored soldiers from the Free States were probably not in the contemplation of Congress when framing these acts. But now, while colored men are admitted to be citizens of several of the Northern States, and of the United States, and since the Conscription Act makes no distinction between white and colored citizens, but requires them equally to be enrolled and drafted in the forces of the United States, there seems to be no reason why such citizens should not, when volunteering to serve the country, be
placed upon the same footing with other soldiers, as regards their pay and bounty.
"The attention of Congress will be directed to this subject, and from the generous manner in which they have treated the soldiers heretofore, it cannot be doubted that they will honor themselves by doing full justice to those of every color who rally round the Union flag in time of public danger.
"But I do not forget that the colored soldiers are not fighting for pay. They will not let their enemies reproach them with being mean, as well as cowardly. They will not lose this, their first chance, to vindicate their right to be called and treated as men. Pay or no pay, they will rally round that banner of freedom which shall soon float over a country that contains no slaves within its borders.
"The policy of the government is fixed and immovable. Congress has passed the irrevocable acts of emancipation. The Supreme Court of the United States have unanimously decided that, since July 13, 1861, we have been engaged in a territorial civil war, and have full belligerent rights against the inhabitants of the rebellious districts. The President has issued proclamations under his hand and seal. Abraham Lincoln takes no backward step. A man once made free, by law cannot be again made a slave. The government has no power, if it had the will, to do it. Omnipotence alone can reënslave a freeman. Fear not that the administration will ever take the back track. The President wishes the aid of all Americans of whatever descent or color, to defend the country. He
wishes every citizen to share the perils of the contest, and to reap the fruits of victory.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,"WILLIAM WHITING. "Edward Gilbert, Esq., New York City."
One of the great obstacles in the way of employing
colored men in the army as soldiers was the prejudice
entertained by the white officers and soldiers against
their color. Besides, they had a contempt as to their
ability and courage in battle. They were lazy and
cowardly. Nothing but actual experiment will overthrow
these prejudices now, as they have in the past.
The annals of our American Revolution teach us that
when, in great extremities, we were compelled to
employ them as soldiers, this confidence was not
misplaced, and their heroic conduct was far better than we
anticipated. We have perused with great interest the
historical research respecting the opinions of the founders
of the Republic on negroes as slaves, as citizens, and
as soldiers, by George Livermore. It was read before
the Massachusetts Historical Society, in August 14,
1862.* * This work has reached a third edition, and is published by the New
England Loyal Publication Society, by A. Williams & Company, 100 Washington Street, 1863.
To give even a brief synopsis of this able work, which exhibits so clearly the industry of the compiler, would swell the present volume beyond the limits designed. We therefore append the remarks of a writer in the Boston Journal, which embrace some "additional and striking facts to those found in that volume."
* This work has reached a third edition, and is published by the New England Loyal Publication Society, by A. Williams & Company, 100 Washington Street, 1863.
"The government of the United States in availing itself of the military services of a 'servile' portion of the inhabitants, not only followed the precedents established by the Spartans, the Athenians, the Parthians, and the Romans, but has carried out a policy inaugurated long ago in that famous commonwealth which now so arrogantly claims precedence in the rebel brotherhood, as the sovereign State of South Carolina. We invite the attention of those here at the North who denounce the arming of negroes, to the following statement of facts:
"1704, The House of Assembly of the Province of South Carolina passed 'an act for the raising and enlisting such slaves as shall be thought serviceable to this Province in time of alarms.'
"1709. A similar act was passed, the preamble of which is as follows: 'Whereas, It is necessary for the safety of the province, in case of actual invasion, to have the assistance of our trusty slaves to serve us against our enemies,' &c. It provides for the enlistment of a number of slaves, not exceeding that of white men, in the several companies, 'armed out of the public stores with a good lance and hatchet, or gun, excepting one man slave, which shall be at the choice of his master, to attend upon him, armed with a gun and hatchet, or cutlass, at his own proper cost and charge.'--S. C. Statutes at large, vii. p. 349.
"1708. In a report on the general condition of the Province, we have the following statement: 'The whole number of the militia of this Province is nine hundred and fifty white men fit to bear arms, viz.: two regiments of foot, both making up sixteen companies,
fifty men, one with another, in a company, to which fifty might be added a like number of negro slaves, the captain of each company being obliged, by an act of Assembly, to enlist, train up, and bring into the field, for each white, owe able slave, armed with a gun or lance, for each man, in his company.'--River's History of South Carolina, p. 233.
"1715. The Yemassee Indians having commenced hostilities against South Carolina, the Assembly 'Resolved, That a sufficient number of lances be made immediately to arm the negroes who cannot be supplied with guns in the present expedition.'--River's History of South Carolina, p. 267.
"1739-40. Provision was made by the Assembly for the payment of slaves 'engaged in the public service' on the expedition of Gen. Oglethorpe. They are described as 'pioneers'--S. C. Stats. at large, vii. p. 428.
"1742. Negroes were 'enlisted and sent on the expedition for the relief of Georgia.' They were 'on board the vessels fitted out by government.'
"The 'war policy' thus inaugurated by the South Carolinians was not only adhered to by them during the Revolutionary War, but it was adopted by Washington, as it was subsequently, in the war of 1812, by Jackson, and by Gov. Moore, of Louisiana, at the commencement of the rebellion; and all who are familiar with the writings of those who fomented the secession movement know well that the slave-holders were inspired with the belief that their 'chattels' would prove faithful allies. For example, W. Gilmore Simms, in his Pro-slavery Argument, p. 244, says,--
"'The British did encourage them (the slaves) to take up arms, and undertook to form separate bands of negro troops, to uniform them in scarlet, and furnish them with arms; yet succeeded in persuading only a single regiment into their ranks. The entire mass of the slave population adhered, with unshaken fidelity, to their masters; numbers accompanied them to the field, and fought at their sides, while the greater body faithfully pursued their labors on the plantations, never deserting them in trial, danger, or privation; and this decorum and fidelity were shown at a time when, to the presence of a foreign foe was added the greater curse of an unsparing civil war before their eyes, and among their own masters.'
"The South was not only led to count on a renewal of this devoted allegiance of the slaves (for which no gratitude had been manifested by the masters), but they regarded the 'institution' as an element of strength which the North would not possess in the contest where they anticipated victory. 'Northern civilization,' said one of their leaders, 'walks upon the crutches of hireling labor, which is always antagonistic to capital, and may at any moment be knocked from under it. Southern civilization is like Homer's Vulcan, who was supported by two young slave-maidens, living crutches upon which the lame artificer moved nimbly whithersoever he wished; and on them he leaned when he went to the anvil on which was forged the armor of men and gods.' Those beguiled by this reasoning must now begin to see, that while the North is supported by industry and capital, firm and erect, she is
also knocking away the crutches of her tottering, wayward sister, and using them effectively in punishing rebellion. Thanks to South Carolina for having suggested the enlisting of swarthy recruits; and we would advise those who have, and those who are, denouncing President Lincoln for employing persons of African descent, to post themselves up in the history of the chivalry.
"There are indications that the people of the South begin to find that the high-colored pictures which had been placed before them, of the fidelity and devotion of their slaves, did not truthfully portray what has subsequently occurred, and that they were no more reliable than were the promises of Massachusetts and other New England Democrats, that they 'would take care of the North.' The deluded owners of 'chattels' had expected that every 'boy' would follow the plough, to provide sustenance for rebel hordes, or would exclaim, as does Adam to Orlando, in 'As You like It,'--
'Master, go on; and I will follow thee
To the last gasp, with truth and loyalty.'
"Each dusky ally was to aid in perpetuating his own enslavement and that of his race, devoted as was the dog Argus, described by Homer as struggling to approach the weeping Ulysses, and dying at his master's feet. Had they read history rather than De Bow's Review, they would have remembered Cato's saying: 'Our slaves are our enemies;' for although Seneca endeavored to refute the assertion, quot servi tot hostes is a maxim not to be forgotten; and thus falls another of
the theories which propped up the new political edifice,
'whose corner-stone is slavery;' it will tumble to pieces,
and the glorious Union will be reestablished. Meanwhile,
it is (to quote from the statutes of South Carolina)
'necessary for the safety' of our Republic that
our armies should have 'the assistance' of able-bodied
colored men 'to serve us against our enemies.' Every
loyal citizen should be grateful to South Carolina for
having originated this portion of our war policy, which
bids fair to insure a restoration of peace, and might
say, as did Gratiano to Shylock in the court-room,--
"'I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.'"
"Sound for the onset! Blast on blast!
Till slavery's minions cower and quail:
One charge of fire shall drive them fast,
Like chaff before our Northern gale!
Oh, prisoners in your house of pain,
Dumb, toiling millions, bound and sold,
Look! stretched o'er Southern vale and plain,
The Lord's delivering hand behold!"
THE CHILDREN OF LUNSFORD ENTERING THE RANKS OF THE LOYAL HOST FOR UNION AND FREEDOM--THE FIFTY-FOURTH REGIMENT OF MASSACHUSETTS COLORED VOLUNTEERS-- THEIR ORGANIZATION AND DEPARTURE--SPEECHES OF GOV. ANDREW AND COL. SHAW--THEIR EVENTFUL HISTORY IN THE FIELD--THEIR BRAVERY IN THE CONFLICT--THEIR PATIENT SUFFERING IN THE HOSPITALS AT BEAUFORT--THE QUESTION SETTLED, THE "NEGRO" WILL FIGHT.
THE children of Lunsford Lane were all born within the domain of slavery, and, but for the heroic life of the father, would this day be in bonds. Two of these children, William and Lunsford, are now at Port Royal, South Carolina, serving their country, upon one of the United States transports, conveying troops for the suppression of the slave-holders' rebellion. A letter received by their father a few days since, from these boys, breathes words of patriotism, as they witnessed the enlistment of the freedmen in our army. They speak of their determination, on their return, to enlist in the Fifty-fourth Regiment of colored volunteers of
Massachusetts. Thus the sons of escaped slaves are rendering powerful aid in the suppression of this wicked rebellion, and in the emancipation of their race.
The organization, equipment, and departure, of the Fifty-fourth Regiment of colored troops to the seat of war is now a matter of history. The conduct displayed in the storming of the fortifications on Morris Island is deserving of a much fuller account than can now be given. It may throw some light upon this interesting subject, should we collect the statements of the press of the recent events connected with its departure, and its eventful history at the seat of war. It is not expected that the information here given is in every particular correct; in the haste of journalism many mistakes are made, which official documents only can correct. The time occupied in the enlistment of this regiment was very brief after the official order for its organization had been received by Governor Andrew. The rapidity with which the drill was acquired was particularly noticeable. The good order and discipline of the men-- far exceeding some of the white regiments that have gone from our populous cities--was another praiseworthy feature.
The deep interest manifested in its well-being and future conduct was evinced by the multitudes who daily visited their camp at Readville. Colonel Shaw, its brave and patriotic commander, left nothing undone which could add to its efficiency and success. Previously to its departure from Readville, a large number of its friends gathered to witness the presentation of the regimental colors. We glean from the Boston Journal the following account of this interesting event:--
"The ranks of the Fifty-fourth Regiment having been filled, the presentation of regimental colors took place yesterday noon at their camp at Readville, and was attended with a ceremony of unusual brilliancy and effect. The morning train to Readville was not only completely filled with a numerous gathering of prominent individuals who have been interested in the formation of the regiment, but nine or ten extra passenger-cars were required to accommodate the hundreds of colored persons, of both sexes, who have a personal interest in the Fifty-fourth. The party comprised a very large number who have been prominent in the community for sympathy with the oppressed negro. Among them were Wendell Phillips, William Garrison, Josiah Quincy, Jr., Rev. Dr. Neale, And several noted gentlemen of the clerical and Medical professions. A large number of ladies, friends of the officers, drawn in elegant turn outs, added brilliancy to the ceremony. Altogether, upward of a thousand people were present. The presentation speech was made by Governor Andrew, who was accompanied by his military staff in uniform.
"The regiment was formed in a hollow square, the distinguished persons present occupying the centre. The flags were four in number, comprising a national Flag, presented by young colored ladies of Boston; a national ensign, presented by the 'Colored Ladies' Relief Society;' an emblematic banner, presented by ladies and gentlemen of Boston, friends of the regiment; and a flag presented by relatives and friends of the late Lieutenant Putnam. The emblematic banner
was of white silk, handsomely embroidered, having on one side a figure of the Goddess of Justice, with the words 'Liberty, Loyalty, and Unity,' around it. The fourth flag bore a cross with a blue field, surmounted with the motto, 'In hoc signo vinces.' All were of the finest texture and workmanship.
"Prayer having been offered by Rev. Mr. Grimes, Governor Andrew presented the various flags with the following speech:--
"COL. SHAW: As the official representative of the commonwealth, and by favor of various ladies and gentlemen, citizens of the commonwealth, and friends of the Fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, I have the honor and the satisfaction of being permitted to join you this morning, for the purpose of presenting to your regiment the National flag, the State colors of Massachusetts, and the emblematic banner which the cordial, generous, and patriotic friendship of its patrons has seen fit to present to you.
"Two years of experience in all the trials and vicissitudes of war, attended with the repeated exhibition of Massachusetts regiments marching from home to the scenes of strife, have left little to be said or suggested which could give the interest of novelty to an occasion like this. But, Mr. Commander, one circumstance pertaining to the composition of the Fifty-fourth Regiment, exceptional in its character when compared with anything we have yet seen before, gives to this hour an interest and importance, solemn and yet grand, because
the occasion marks an era in the history of the war, of the commonwealth, of the country, and of humanity. I need not dwell upon the fact that the enlisted men constituting the rank and file of the Fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts volunteers are drawn from a race not hitherto connected with the fortunes of the war. And yet I cannot forbear to allude to the circumstance, because I can but contemplate it for a brief moment, since it is uppermost in your thoughts, and since this regiment, which for many months has been the desire of my own heart, is present now before this vast assembly of friendly citizens of Massachusetts, prepared to vindicate by its future, as it has already begun to do by its brief history of camp-life here,--to vindicate in its own person, and in the presence, I trust, of all who belong to it, the character, the manly character, the zeal, the manly zeal, of the colored citizens of Massachusetts, and of those other States which have cast their lot with ours.
"I owe to you, Mr. Commander, and to the officers who, associated with you, have assisted in the formation of this noble corps, composed of men selected from among their fellows for fine qualities of manhood,--I owe to you, sir, and to those of your associates who united with me in the original organization of this body, the heartiest and most emphatic expression of my cordial thanks. I shall follow you, Mr. Commander, your officers, and your men, with a friendly and personal solicitude, to say nothing of official care, which can hardly be said of any other corps which has marched from Massachusetts. My own personal honor,
if I have any, is identified with yours. I stand or fall, as a man and a magistrate, with the rise or fall in the history of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment. (Applause.) I pledge not only in behalf of myself, but of all those whom I have the honor to represent to-day, the utmost generosity, the utmost kindness, the utmost devotion of hearty love, not only for the cause, but for you that represent it. We will follow your fortunes in the camp and in the field, with the anxious eyes of brethren, and the proud hearts of citizens.
"To those men of Massachusetts and of surrounding States, who have now made themselves citizens of Massachusetts, I have no word to utter fit to express the emotions of my heart. These men, sir, have now, in the providence of God, given to them an opportunity which, while it is personal to themselves, is still an opportunity for a whole race of men. (Applause.) With arms possessed of might to strike a blow, they have found breathed into their hearts an inspiration of devoted patriotism and regard for their brethren of their own color, which has inspired them with a purpose to nerve that arm, that it may strike a blow, which, while it shall help to raise aloft their country's flag,--their country's flag now as well as ours,--by striking down the foes which oppose it, strikes also the last blow, I trust, needful to rend the last shackles which bind the limb of the bondman in the Rebel States.
"I know not, Mr. Commander, when, in all human history, to any given thousand men in arms there has been committed a work at once so proud, so precious, so full of hope, and glory, as the work committed to
you. (Applause.) And may the infinite mercy of Almighty God attend you every hour of every day, through all the experiences and vicissitudes of that dangerous life in which you have embarked; may the God of our fathers cover your heads in the day of battle; may he shield you with the arms of everlasting power; may he hold you always most of all, first of all, and last of all, up to the highest and holiest conception of duty, so that if, on the field of stricken fight, your souls shall be delivered from the thraldom of the flesh, your spirits shall go home to God, bearing aloft the exulting thought of duty well performed, of glory and reward won, even at the hands of the angels who shall watch over you from above.
"Mr. Commander: You, sir, and most of your officers, have been carefully selected from among the most intelligent and experienced officers who have already performed illustrious service upon the field during the last two years of our national conflict. I need not say, sir, with how much confidence and with how much pride we contemplate the leadership which we know this regiment will receive at your hands. In yourself, sir, your staff, and line officers, we are enabled to declare a confidence which knows no hesitation and no doubt. Whatever fortune may betide you, we know from the past that all will be done for the honor of the cause, for the protection of the flag, for the defence of the right, for the glory your country, and for the safety and the honor of these men whom we commit to you, that shall lie either in the human heart, or brain, or arm.
"And now, Mr. Commander, it is my most agreeable duty and high honor to hand to you, as the representation of the Fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, the American flag, 'the star-spangled banner' of the Republic. Wherever its folds shall be unfurled, it will mark the path of glory. Let its stars be the inspiration of yourselves, your officers, and your men. As the gift of the young ladies of the city of Boston to their brethren in arms, they will cherish it as the lover cherishes the recollection and fondness of his mistress; and the white stripes of its field will be red with their blood before it shall be surrendered to the foe.
"I have also the honor, Mr. Commander, to present to you the State colors of Massachusetts,--the State colors of the Old Bay State, borne already by fifty-three regiments of Massachusetts soldiers, white men, thus far, now to be borne by the Fifty-fourth Regiment of soldiers, not less of Massachusetts than the others. Whatever may be said, Mr. Commander, of any other flag which has ever kissed the sunlight or been borne on any field, I have the pride and honor to be able to declare before you, your regiment, and these witnesses, that from the beginning up till now, the State colors of Massachusetts have never been surrendered to any foe. (Cheers.) The Fifty-fourth now holds in possession this sacred charge, in the performance of their duties as citizen-soldiers. You will never part with that flag so long as a splinter of the staff, or a thread of its web remains within your grasp. The State colors are presented to the Fifty-fourth by the Relief Society composed of colored ladies of Boston.
"And now let me commit to you this splendid emblematic banner. It is prepared for your acceptance by a large and patriotic committee representing many others beside, ladies and gentlemen of Boston, to whose hearty sympathy, and powerful coöperation and aid, much of the success which has hitherto attended the organization of this regiment is due. The Goddess of Liberty in beautiful guise and form, liberty, loyalty, and unity, are the emblems it bears. The Goddess of Liberty shall be the lady-love whose fair presence shall inspire your hearts. Liberty, Loyalty, Unity,--the watchwords in the fight.
"And now, Mr. Commander, the sacred, holy cross, representing passion, the highest heroism, I scarcely dare to trust myself to present to you. It is the emblem of Christianity. I have parted with the emblems of the State, of the Nation; heroic, patriotic emblems they are,--dear, inexpressibly dear, to all our hearts; but now, 'In hoc signo vinces,' the cross which represents the passion of our Lord, I now dare to pass into soldier-hands; for we are fighting now a battle not merely for country, not merely for humanity, not only for civilization but for the religion of our Lord itself. When this cause shall ultimately fail, if ever failure at the last shall be possible, it will only fail when the last patriot, the last philanthropist, and the last Christian, shall have tasted death, and left no descendants behind them upon the soil of Massachusetts.
"This flag, Mr. Commander, has connected with its history the most touching and sacred memory. It comes to your regiment from the mother, sister, friends,
family relatives of one of the dearest and noblest soldier-boys of Massachusetts. I need not utter the name of Lieutenant Putnam in order to excite in every heart the tenderest emotions of fond regard or the strongest feelings of patriotic fire. May you, sir, and these, follow not only on the field of battle, but in all the walks and ways of life, in camp, and hereafter when on returning peace you shall resume the more quiet and peaceful duties of citizens,--may you but follow the splendid example, the sweet devotion, mingled with manly, heroic character, of which the life, character, and death of Lieutenant Putnam was one example. How many more there are we know not; the record is not yet complete; but oh! how many there are of these sons who, like him, have tasted death for this immortal cause! Inspired by such examples, fired by the heat and light of love and faith, which illumined and warmed these heroic and noble hearts, may you, sir, and these march on to glory, to victory, and to, every honor. This flag I present to you, Mr. Commander, and your regiment. In hoc signo vinces.
"YOUR EXCELLENCY: We accept these flags with feelings of deep gratitude. They will remind us no only of the cause we are fighting for and of our country, but of the friends we have left behind us who have thus far taken so much interest in this regiment, and who we know will follow us in our career. Though the greater number of men in this regiment are not Massachusetts men, I know there is not one who will
not be proud to fight and serve under our flag. May we have an opportunity to show that you have not made a mistake in intrusting the honor of the State to a colored regiment,--the first State that has sent one to the war.
"I am very glad to have this opportunity to thank the officers and men of the regiment for their untiring fidelity and devotion to their work from the very beginning. They have shown that sense of the importance of our undertaking, without which we should hardly have attained our end.
"At the conclusion of Col. Shaw's remarks, the colors were borne to their place in the line by the, guard and the regiment was reviewed by the governor. The regiment will join Gen. Hunter's command in South Carolina, as soon as transportation can be arranged. It will probably embark from Boston."
The interest gathered about this regiment seemed to increase as the day of its departure drew near. Every ardent friend of the colored man felt that its future conduct would, in a great measure, determine the capacity of the colored race for freedom, and its ability and courage in maintaining it. Should they act like cowardly children on the field of battle, in a war waged on one side for their perpetual bondage, and on the other for the purpose of breaking the oppressor's arm, well might their friends be discouraged. And yet, even their failure to equal, in intelligent bravery, the white race fighting at their side, would not give the more powerful a right to enslave slave them. Thousands,
therefore, followed them with an intense interest, as they left our peaceful State to enter the fierce ordeal of an active campaign against the foe of the country.
In describing their departure, the Worcester Daily Spy made the following statements:--
"This regiment left for the seat of war, May 28, after receiving a splendid ovation from the citizens of Boston, as well as from the people who happened to be present from other parts of the State and country, to attend the anniversaries. The day was exceeding pleasant; and when the regiment arrived at the depot from Readville, thousands of persons were present to receive them, who testified their admiration by loud and continuous applause. The regiment, escorted by Gilmore's National Band, then took up their line of march, and passed through several of the principal streets, amid applause and the waving of handkerchiefs, to the State House, where they were joined by Governor Andrew, accompanied by his staff, the State officers, members of the executive council, and many distinguished men from all parts of the State. The procession then marched to the Common, where the regiment was reviewed by the governor and staff, in the presence of an immense concourse of spectators, numbering, by estimation, over twenty thousand.
"The appearance of the regiment was highly soldier-like and satisfactory, fully equalling the finest regiments that have left the State. The reception accorded them was all that the most enthusiastic friend of the colored race could desire. It was a complete ovation during the entire route; and no sign of disapprobation was
visible in the immense crowd. Certainly, the departure of the first colored regiment from the North marks an era in the history of the war, as well as of the colored race. The hopes and prayers of every true patriot will go with them to the struggle and the thanks of every lover of humanity will be given to Governor Andrew for the rare moral courage and energy he has manifested in carrying out a work so noble, amid the doubts of the timid, and the open opposition and ridicule of the ignorant and base."
How these soldiers conducted themselves, when, in so brief a time after their organization, they are ordered to storm the enemy's fortifications on Morris Island, may be learned from the following reports of correspondents from the seat of war. When we remember that these were raw recruits, we may with confidence look forward to their still greater efficiency in the future.
Their departure was on May 28, 1863. The storming of Fort Wagner took place in about two months thereafter. But we refer the reader to the following account contained in a letter from Edward L. Pierce, Esq., addressed to Gov. Andrew, from Beaufort, S. C.:
BEAUFORT, July 22,1863.
"MY DEAR SIR: You will probably receive an official report of the losses in the 54th Massachusetts by the mail which leaves to-morrow; but perhaps a word from me may not be unwelcome. I saw the officers and men on James Island on the 13th inst., and on Saturday last, saw them at Brig.-Gen. Strong's tent, as they passed on, a little before seven in the evening, to Fort
Wagner, which is some two miles beyond. I had been the guest of Gen. Strong, who commanded the advance, since Tuesday. Col. Shaw had become attached to Gen. Strong at St. Helena, where he was under him, and the regard was mutual. When the troops left St. Helena they were separated, the 54th going to James Island. While it was there, Gen. S. received a letter from Col. Shaw, in which the desire was expressed for the transfer of the 54th to Gen. S.'s brigade. So, when the troops were brought away from James Island, Gen. S. took this regiment into his command. It left James Island on Thursday, July 16, at nine A. M., and marched to Cole's Island, which they reached at four o'clock on Friday morning, marching all night, most of the way in single file, over swampy and muddy ground. There they remained during the day, with hard-tack and coffee for their fare, and this only what was left in their haversacks,--not a regular ration. From eleven o'clock of Friday evening until four o'clock of Saturday, they were being put on board the transport, the General Hunter, in a boat which took about fifty at a time. There they breakfasted on the same fare, and had no other food before entering into the assault on Fort Wagner in the evening.
"The General Hunter left Cole's Island for Folly Island at six A. M., and the troops landed at the Pawnee landing about half-past nine A. M., and then marched to the point opposite Morris Island, reaching there about two o'clock in the afternoon. They were transported in a steamer across the inlet, and at five P. M. began their march for Fort Wagner. They reached
Brig.-Gen. Strong's quarters, about midway on the isle and, about six, or half-past six, where they halted for five minutes. I saw them here and they looked worn and weary.
Gen. Strong expressed a great desire to give them food and stimulants; but it was too late, as they were to lead the charge. They had been without tents during the pelting rains of Thursday and Friday nights. Gen. Strong had been impressed with the high character of the regiment and its officers, and he wished to assign them the post where the most severe work was to be done, and the highest honor was to be won. I had been his guest for some days, and knew how he regarded them. The march across Folly and Morris Islands was over a very sandy road, and was very wearisome. The regiment went through the centre of the island and not along the beach where the marching was easier. When the came within six hundred yards of Fort Wagner, they formed in line of battle, the colonel heading the first, and the major the second, battalion. This was within musket-shot of the enemy. There was little firing from the enemy, a solid shot falling between the battalions, and another falling to the right, but no musketry.
"At this point the regiment, together with the next supporting regiments, the 6th Conn., 9th Maine, and others, remained half an hour. The regiment was addressed by Gen. Strong and Col. Shaw. Then, at half-past seven or a quarter before eight o'clock the order for the charge was given. The regiment advanced at quick time, changed to double-quick when at some
distance on. The intervening distance between the place where the line was formed and the fort, was run over in a few minutes. When within one or two hundred yards of the fort, a terrific fire of grape and musketry was poured upon them along the entire line, and with deadly results. It tore the ranks to pieces, and disconcerted some. They rallied again, went through the ditch, in which was some three feet of water, and then up the parapet. They raised the flag on the parapet, where it remained for a few minutes. Here they melted away before the enemy's fire, their bodies falling down the slope and into the ditch. Others will give a more detailed and accurate account of what occurred during the rest of the conflict.
"Col. Shaw reached the parapet, leading his men, and was probably killed. Adjutant Jones saw him fall. Private Thomas Burgess, of Company I, told me that he was close to Col. Shaw; that he waved his sword and cried out, "Onward, boys!" and, as he did so, fell. Burgess fell, wounded, at the same time. In a minute or two, as he rose to crawl away, he tried to pull Col. Shaw along, taking hold of his feet, which were near his own head; but there appeared to be no life in him. There is a report, however, that Col. S. is wounded and a prisoner, and that it was so stated to the officers who bore a flag of truce from us; but I cannot find it well authenticated. It is most likely that this noble youth has given his life to his country and to mankind. Brig.-Gen. Strong (himself a kindred spirit) said of him to-day, in a message to his parents, 'I had but little opportunity to be with him, but I already loved
him. No man ever went more gallantly into battle. None know him but to love him. I parted with Col. Shaw between six and seven Saturday evening, as he rode forward to his regiment, and he gave me the private letters and papers he had with him, to be delivered to his father.' Of the other officers, Major Hallowell is severely wounded in the groin; Adjutant James has a wound from a rifle-ball in his ankle, and a flesh-wound in his side, from a glancing ball or piece of shell. Captain Pope has had a musket-ball extracted from his shoulder. Captain Appleton is wounded in the thumb, also has a contusion on his is right breast, from a hand grenade, which, however, is not severe. Captain Willard has a wound in the leg, and is doing well. Captain Jones was wounded in the right shoulder. The ball went through, and he is doing well. Lieutenant Homans, wounded by a ball from a smooth-bore musket entering the left side, which has been extracted from the back, is doing well.
"The above-named officers are at Beaufort, all but the last arriving there on Sunday evening, whither they were taken from Folly Island, in the Alice Price, and thence to Beaufort in the Cosmopolitan, which is specially fitted up for hospital service, and is provided with skilful surgeons, under the direction of Dr. Montague. They are now tenderly cared for with an adequate corps of surgeons and nurses, and provided with a plentiful supply of ice, beef, and chicken-broth and stimulants. Lieut. Smith was left at the hospital-tent on Morris Island, being too severely wounded to be brought away. Capt. Emilio and Lieuts. Grace, Appleton, Johnston,
and Reed were not wounded, and are doing duty. Lieuts. Jewett and Tucker were slightly wounded, and are doing duty also. Lieuts. Howard and Pratt are also missing. As to Dexter, I have no information. The quartermaster and surgeon are safe, and are with the regiment.
"Dr. Stone remained on the Alice Price during Saturday night, caring for the wounded, until she left Morris Island, and then returned to look after those who were left behind. The assistant surgeon was at the camp on St. Helena Island, attending to duty there. Lieut. Littlefield was also in charge of the camp at St. Helena. Capt. Bridge and Lieut. Nalton are sick, and were it Beaufort or vicinity. Capt. Partridge has returned from the North, but not in time to participate, in the action.
"Of the privates and non-commissioned officers, I send you a list of one hundred and forty-four who are now in the Beaufort hospitals. A few others died on the boats, or since their arrival here. There may be others at the Hilton Head hospital, and others are doubtless in Morris Island; but I have no names or statistics relative to them. Those in Beaufort are well attended to, --just as well as the white soldiers,--the attentions of the surgeons and nurses being supplemented by those of the colored people here, who have shown a great interest in them. The men of the regiment are very patient, and, where their condition at all permits them, are cheerful. They expressed their readiness to meet the enemy again; and they keep asking if Wagner is yet taken. Could any one from the North see these
brave fellows as they lie here, his prejudice against them, if he had any, would all pass away. They grieve greatly at the loss of Col. Shaw, who seems to have acquired a strong hold on their affections.
"They are attached to their other officers, and admire Gen. Strong, whose courage was go conspicuous to all. I asked Gen. Strong if he had any testimony in relation to the regiment, to be communicated to you. These are his precise words, and I give them to you as I noted them at the time:--
"The 54th did well and nobly, only the fall of Col. Shaw prevented them from entering the fort. They moved up as gallantly as any troops could; and with their enthusiasm they deserved a better fate.' The regiment could not have been under a better officer than Gen. Strong. He is one of the bravest and most genuine men. His soldiers loved him like a brother, and go where you would through the camps, you would hear them speak of him with enthusiasm and affection. His wound is severe, and there are so some apprehensions as to his being able to recover from it. Since I found him at the hospital tent on Morris Island, about nine and a half o'clock on Saturday, I have been all the time attending to him, or the officers of the 54th, both on the boats and here. Nobler spirits it has never been my fortune to be with. Gen. Strong, as he lay on the stretcher in the tent, was grieving all the while for poor fellows who lay uncared-for on the battle-field, and the officers of the 54th have had nothing to say of their own misfortunes, but have mourned constantly for the hero who led them to the charge from which he did not
return. I remember well the beautiful day when the flags were presented at Readville, and you told the regiment that your reputation was to be identified with its fame. It was a day of festivity and cheer. I walk now in these hospitals, and see mutilated forms with every variety of wound, and it seems all a dream. But well has the regiment sustained the hope which you indulged, and justified the identity of fame which you trusted to it.
"I ought to add, in relation to the fight on James Island, on July 15, in which the regiment lost fifty men, driving back the rebels, and saving, as it is stated, three companies of the 10th Connecticut, that Gen. Terry, who was in command on that island, said to Adjutant James,--
"'Tell your colonel that I am exceedingly pleased with the conduct of your regiment. They have done all they could do.'
"The 24th Massachusetts was not, as far as I can learn, engaged in the fight of Saturday evening. They were, however, present. Brig.-Gen. Stevenson marched at the head of his brigade, where I saw him as it passed along the beach to Fort Wagner.
"EDWARD L. PIERCE."
A Port Royal correspondent of the New York Post writes as follows of the bravery of the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth in battle, and of their fortitude and devotion afterward, while suffering from wounds:--
"On forming them into line, Gen. Strong, who had
by his soldierly and kind bearing toward them secured their confidence, raising his stentorian voive, cried out, 'Is there a man here who thinks himself unable to sleep in that fort to-night?' The earth rang with the thunder of their 'No!' Turning to the color-bearer, he said 'Is there any man to take his place if this brace color-bearer should fall?' With the lifting of hands and leaping, and almost yelling, all through the enthusiastic ranks came the response 'Yes! Yes!'
"From General Strong himself, as he lay in the hospital four days afterward, suffering from his ghastly wound, I learned that these men had 'had no sleep for three nights, no food since morning, and had marched several miles.' Under cover of darkness, they stormed the fort facing a stream of fire, faltering not till the ranks were broken by shot and shell, and in all these severe tests, which would have tried even veteran troops, 'they fully met my expectations,' said the general, 'for many of them were killed, wounded, or captured on the walls of the fort. No man broke till fired upon.'
"'The Sixth Connecticut, who had honored themselves at Jacksonville, cooperating with colored troops, supported the Fifty-fourth in the assault. Several of the officers lying in the hospital, confirm the testimony of General Strong. The regiment went in seven hundred Strong, and brought off only three hundred and sixty Sound men. Of seventeen officers, only three came out unhurt. The numbers of killed, I have not learned. About two hundred are now lying in our hospitals. Some, who had prophesied that the colored man would
not stand fire, but had finally yielded in his favor, still contended that ghastly wounds and sufferings, with slaughter and death of comrades, would quash all their love of freedom and soldiering, and silence the boasts of their friends.
"On the second and fourth days after the fight, I passed through nearly all the yards of the hospital. On the second day, a very large proportion of their wounds had not been dressed, and of course they were very painful. Some lay with shattered legs or arms, or both; others with limbs amputated. Rebel bullets, grape, shells, and bayonets, have made sad havoc. Standing amidst a large number, I said, 'Well, boys, this was not a part of the programme, was it?' 'Oh, yes, indeed; we expected to take all that comes,' said some. Others said, 'Thank God, we went in to live or die!'
"'If out of it and at home, how many would enlist again?' With brightened faces, and some raising of even wounded arms or hands, all said, 'Oh, yes, yes, yes.' Some sang out, 'Oh, never give it up till the last rebel be dead,' or 'the last brother breaks his chains,' or, 'If all our people get their freedom, we can afford to die.'
"No man can pass among these sufferers, so patient, so cheerful, hear them express their desire for a speedy recovery, first and only that they may (the almost universal expression) 'try it over again;' also, their firm conviction that they are soldiers for Jesus, to help on his war of freedom for all the oppressed, and not be inspired with deepest abhorrence of slavery, and unquenchable desire for the freedom of their race."
Of the coolness and dash of these men in the midst of the fight, many incidents are related. It is in the hand-to-hand contests that the fighting qualities of the soldier are subjected to the severest test. From the moment they entered the fierce conflict, in the assault upon the fort, they became the object of the severest treatment by their malignant foes. This they expected. In one stage of the conflict, the rebels made repeated rushes for the wounded, fighting, as one account declares, as desperately for that object as to slaughter or to wound.
To repel these charges the men used the bayonet, but were not entirely successful, for the colored troops many others were captured alive. As the Fifty-fourth were retreating over the parapet, the color-bearer was shot, and the State flag fell inside. The color-guard gave a shout, and there was a most creditable rally to recover the flag. The rebels attempted to carry flag and soldiers off, and there was a hand-to-hand fight, bayonets being used freely, till the ground was covered with the dead or wounded. The result was that the enemy tore off the flag, but the colored men kept the staff.
"One of the colored soldiers," relates the correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer, "who had faithfully stood at his post and refused to fall back when the rebels drove in our pickets, was afterward brought into our lines. The rebels, not content with having murdered him, had cut off both his ears and scalped him! As his comrades looked upon this hideous sight, they grated their teeth, and swore never to take another
prisoner; and I can assure you that the rebels will find that the Fifty-fourth will retaliate in this case without waiting for special or general orders.
"One laughable incident connected with this engagement is as follows:--After the rebels had retreated, a colored sergeant belonging to the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, and very stunted, was seen coming in with a prisoner. The rebel was one of those tall specimens of the chivalry who seem to have been originally intended for astronomical observations, while his captor was a stunted negro, who could with ease have walked between the legs of his prize. It was a ludicrous sight,--the little contraband, with expanding eyes, large mouth, ivory glistening, lugging his own arms and those of his prisoner; and beside him was a long-haired, sunken-jawed, sallow-faced specimen of Southern vegetation, humbly following his enterprising colored brother."
"A private letter from West Point, Va., narrates an exciting adventure which recently befell a negro-scout in the employ of our forces, and his shrewdness in escaping from the enemy. His name is Claiborne, and he is a full-blooded African, with big lips, flat nose, &c. He has lived in the vicinity all his life, and is therefore familiar with the country, which renders him a very valuable scout. On Claiborne's last trip inside the enemy's lines, after scouting around as much as he wished, he picked up eight chickens and start for camp. His road led past the house of a secesh doctor, named Roberts, who knows him, and who ordered him
to stop, which, of course, Claiborne had no idea of doing, and kept on, when the doctor fired on him and gave chase, shouting at the top of his voice. The negro was making good time toward camp, when all at once he was confronted by a whole regiment of rebel soldiers, who ordered him to halt. For a moment the scout was dumfounded, and thought his hour had come, but the next he sung out,--
"'The Yankees are coming! The Yankees are coming!'
"'Where?--where?' inquired the rebels.
"'Just up in front of Dr. Roberts' house, in a piece of woods,' returned Sambo. 'Dr. Roberts sent me down to tell you to come up quick, or they'll kill the whole of us.'
"'Come in, come into camp,' said the soldiers.
"'No, no,' says the 'cute African. 'I have got to go down and tell the cavalry pickets, and can't wait a second.' So off he sprang with a bound, running for dear life, the rebels discovering the ruse, chasing him for three miles, and he running six, when he got safely into camp, but minus his chickens, which he dropped at the first fire."
"The Frederick (Md.) Citizen--a democratic paper --says, that on the 5th instant, during the movements in Maryland and Pennsylvania, an intelligent negro man, who, it is reported, belongs to the rebel General Stuart, was discovered in the vicinity, and imparted information to our commander concerning the number and location of a body of rebel troops on South
Mountain, which led to the capture of fifteen hundred of the enemy, with a large number of horses, wagons, and ambulances. It would be a generous reward, were this slave within our lines, to return him, as certain people propose, to chains and infamy!"
"Glad as a soul in pain, who hears from heaven
The angels singing of his sins forgiven,
And, wondering, sees
His prison opening to their golden keys,
"He rose a man who laid him down a slave,
Shook from his locks the ashes of the grave,
And outward trod
Into the glorious liberty of God.
"He cast the symbols of his shame away;
And, passing where the sleeping Milcho lay,
Though back and limb
Smarted with wrong, he prayed, 'God, pardon him!'"
THE SCENE CHANGED--WASHINGTON, N. C., IN 1863--ENROLMENT OF FREEDMEN--CONTRABANDS AND WHAT TO DO WITH THEM-- DR. STONE'S ACCOUNT--THE PROGRESS OF ENLISTMENT-- THE GOVERNMENT MAKES PROVISION FOR THEIR SUPPORT-- "THE POOR WHITE TRASH"--THE LABORS OF GEN. THOMAS.
THERE are strange vicissitudes in war; we are rapidly making history on this continent. The change going on as we write, in the position and condition of the African race, is quite surprising. In former chapter the reader was taken, with Mrs. Haywood and her daughters, in their coach and two, with Lunsford as driver, to that interesting town of Washington, North Carolina. Then, no sign of change appeared in the condition of the slave the same monotonous round of toil on the plantation was seen from day to day and from year to year; and the owner
looked upon the status of the African as fixed. To-day (1863) the recruiting officer has his tents pitched in that same Washington and thousands of freedmen are being enrolled for the great battle for freedom.
Their strong desire to be so employed is proven from the reports reaching us from many portions of the field of conflict. These liberated slaves understand that it is a fight for the freedom of their race; the proof of their efficiency as soldiers also continues to accumulate.
An officer in General Wilde's African brigade, who is engaged in receiving recruits at Washington, North Carolina, gives the following interesting account of the black volunteers:--
"They vary in height from five feet ten, to six feet two inches, averaging about five feet and six inches. They are of good build, stout, soldier-like, very enthusiastic, and highly pleased that they can do something for their freedom. They rejoice that they can be armed, and, under the protection of the flag of the Union, go to the rescue of their fathers, wives, children, brothers, and sisters, who are now in the hands of the oppressor, and, if need be, bleed and die for their safety. They feel that they have suffered enough of cruelty, privation, and separation, and that the year of jubilee has come. They come of all ages,--the young and the old. When the latter are told that too many years have passed over their heads the tears roll down their checks, while they say, 'I want to do something.' 'My sons shall go, but I want to go, too.' The women are enthusiastic in the cause, and are urging the men to enlist. One said to a man unwilling to volunteer,
'Then give me your clothes, and you take mine, one of us shall go.' The women have formed themselves into a sewing-circle to work for the colored soldiers who have enlisted."
They are also raising money for a banner to be presented to the Second Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers, which is fast filling up. The colored women of Newbern, by great industry in soliciting subscriptions from their own people in small sums, collected sufficient to purchase a handsome flag for the First Regiment, of which it is understood Colonel Beecher, the brother of the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, is to have the command. This money was placed, if we are correctly informed, in the hands of the Rev. Horace James, who purchased the flag in Boston, and has long since forwarded it to Newbern. In addition to this, subscriptions are being made to assist the families of those who have volunteered. The government does something for such families; but often, when the poor wife goes to the department for a week's rations for herself and children, a mere pittance is put into the basket, and she is ordered to 'come no more.' As soon as practicable, General Wilde will correct this injustice, and colored people will be put in a position to rise morally and intellectually."
An officer in one of the Louisiana colored regiments thus speaks of his experience with negro soldiers in a letter from Port Hudson:--
"Every morning we were busily engaged in transforming nude, ragged, uncouth-looking plantation hands into straight, brisk, neat-looking United States soldiers.
And such is the result: the poor, stupid slave comes in one day the most hopeless-looking wretch; the next morning, after one good night's rest from his long tramp from the interior, a refreshing wash in the bayou, and a change of clothes from tatters and rags to a blue uniform transforms him into a man. We can scarcely understand it, but the slave knows it well. It is the long-expected jubilee. His faith is at last crowned with its full fruit. If I had time, I could tell you almost incredible stories about these victims of the accursed system. In examining the persons of our recruits, we find the work of the lash. In many cases you can scarcely lay your finger between the seams and scars, all along from the shoulder down. We are now at Port Hudson, assisting at the siege. We had drilled our recruits about two weeks, just so as to got the facings and wheelings, when we were ordered to the front. Our commands are detailed each day to the very important work of building fortifications, so we have in our department no fair chance to see how our men will act in a regular fight; but, if to stand in front of the enemy, exposed to their fire, and continue the work without any comparative fear, be any proof of valor, our men give ample evidence in that way. They have the first and most important element of soldier-ship,--subordination."
The writer was a fellow-passenger in the cars a short time since with the Rev. A. L. Stone, D. D., of Boston, lately returned from Newbern, Where he has been a chaplain of a Massachusetts regiment. From a brief conversation the following interesting facts were obtained:--
The hospital chaplains were so constantly occupied with their own duties that they had little time to attend to the multitudes of contrabands who were arriving from the interior, and who were needing instruction and advice. Finally, Rev. Mr. Stone and other regimental chaplains collected some five hundred of them in one of the churches in Newbern, and began the work of Christian civilization, which means, especially with these people, instruction in the elementary parts of the English language, as well as rudimentary lessons in the Christian religion. To convey this instruction with success, Mr. Stone used no other helps than the human voice, and the blackboard and chalk. The rapid advances made under this mode of instruction fully set at rest the question of the capacity of the race for intellectual and moral improvement.
Of the rapid changes going on in the condition of the men, Mr. Stone related the following incident: The regiment to which he was attached was encamped several miles from town, and their tents had hardly been pitched, when they were besieged with applications from the contrabands for opportunities to labor. One day a singular specimen of the race presented himself at the tent-door, saying, "Massa, anything for this darky to do?" "I looked at him a moment," said Mr. Stone, "and a more forbidding object, to outside appearances, I have seldom seen. He was clothed in two garments,-- an apology for a shirt, and a pair of pants torn to ribbons at the extremity of both legs, with a hole on the left side large enough to expose some twelve inches of black anatomy. I said to myself, Can such a squalid,
thievish-looking being be of any use to me? I had lost my servant, and was in search of another. I replied, 'Sambo, I guess not.' As I was about to turn away, I thought I detected in his eyes something like honesty, as well as a little disappointment. I said, as he was about to leave, 'Sambo, can you cut wood.?' 'I try, Massa.' 'Well take that axe, and see what you can do to that pile,' showing him the direction. He soon presented himself again at the tent-door. 'Well, Massa, I done dat.' 'What, so soon?' This was Encouraging. "Anyting more, Massa?" 'I guess not.' Finally, remembering my neglected horse in the stable, I said, 'Sambo, do you know anything about a horse? 'Little, Massa.' His evident modesty won upon me. 'Well, go to that stable, and bring my horse here; he is in the left-hand stall.' The negro stood a moment looking first at one hand and then at the other, as if in some doubt, This question being settled, as to which hand he should consider his right hand and which his left, I soon heard the sound of my horse. I knew his peculiar tread,--sure enough with Sambo bestride him, without saddle or bridle. Very well. I concluded to hire him as servant. He proved most faithful and useful; always on hand at the proper time; never flinching from danger in battle; even exposing himself to the shots of the enemy, when duty did not require it. I procured him good clothing, and tried to render his condition comfortable. I missed him a few days before the regiment broke camp. He soon presented himself, dressed in the clothing of a United States soldier. 'What does this mean, Sambo?' 'Enlisted, Master.'
'What do those stripes on your arm mean?' 'Corporal, sir.' Before I left for the North, I saw the 'corporal' again. He had been promoted to 'sergeant.' He had learned the whole drill."
It is well to observe that there are three classes of colored men who have been, or must be tried in the severe ordeal of war. First, the regular "contraband," whose courage has already been tested at Milliken's Bend. Here they are said "to have out-fought their officers." Second, the free negroes of the Free States who have been for some time resident. Third, the free negroes of the South, who were found in large numbers in Louisiana, and in other portions of the field.
In all these cases, as well as in the expeditious of Montgomery and Higginson, they have not only behaved well for raw troops,--which is all that could be expected of them,--but fought with rare bravery and tenacity. "The bearing of all this experience," well remarks a writer in the Boston Journal, "on the future, needs no comment." Interesting accounts of the progress of their enrolment as troops are from time to time received. The government has taken a deep interest in the subject, and has given some of their ablest the necessary instructions in carrying forward the good work. The Port Royal correspondent of one of the New York papers communicates the following interesting facts with regard to negro regiments in that department:--
"It is said that the government has authorized the recruiting of fifty thousand negroes into regiments, for
service in this department, as soon as they can be procured. The first regiment of South Carolina Volunteers, under Col. T. W. Higginson, is now nearly full; and yesterday Col. Montgomery, formerly of the Third Kansas Regiment, arrived by the Star of the South, from New York, with a commission to raise the second regiment. There will be little impediment in the way of quickly doing this, if--as I am informed will be the case--the work of cotton-planting is not carried on next spring, and the able negroes now on the plantations within our lines are encouraged to enlist. Last Wednesday Gen. Hunter dropped in accidentally at the review of the first regiment, just previous to its departure on transports, upon an expedition down the coast, the object of which I have not heard. The regiment made a fine appearance, numbering about eight hundred men, and parading six hundred muskets. All of the men who had received military instruction during the past two months, and more especially the veteran companies first formed by Gen. Hunter, did admirably. Whatever mistakes were made were those of the white officers, and these mistakes were of distances required in the various evolutions, for which the captains can alone be held responsible. It is impossible to conceive any higher aptitude for receiving military instruction than these negroes exhibit. Their changes in front, formation in square, and preparation to charge in double column, were executed with a harmonious rapidity and precision scarcely to be surpassed by any regiment in the command, although more than one-half the men have not been under a month's instruction."
Of the progress made in the organization of these troops it is impossible to speak at present with any definiteness. One writer, speaking of the enlistment of these soldiers in Philadelphia, says, "The first regiment of colored United States Volunteers is complete, and another is in progress of formation. Col. Tilghman, of the veteran 26th Pennsylvania Volunteers, has accepted the command of the first; and Capt. John W. Ames, of the 11th Regular United States Infantry, has been nominated for the second. Col. Tilghman is a son of the Chief Justice Tilghman stock, and withal a fine soldier and high-toned gentleman. Capt. Ames is a graduate of Harvard, and son of Judge Ames, of Boston, and grandson of Fisher Ames. The Philadelphia black-enlistment movement is a complete success, commanding the hearty approval of loyal people of all classes."
Another writer at Washington says that the War Department is pushing the organization of black troops vigorously. The success of our forces in the West has given a fresh impetus to enlistments among the blacks in that direction, and by autumn it is estimated that at least one hundred thousand negroes will be under arms in the valley of the Mississippi. It has been decided to raise four colored regiments in the District of Columbia. The first is complete, and the second rapidly approaching completion. General Thomas, who has been commissioned by the government to inaugurate their policy in the West has lately, on his return, given some account of his experience, and of what has so far been accomplished.
The Philadelphia Press reports the following brief outlines:--
"General Thomas, at considerable length, spoke of his mission West; of the powers vested in him by the administration; of the prejudices he had to combat; of the discouragements at first thrown in his way, even by some of the most loyal men in the army; but he was happy to say that he had been most successful, and that before he returned home, which he was obliged to do on account of a severe illness, he had fully organized twenty thousand contrabands. One leading general in the West, whom he did not name, was at first opposed to the policy; but before General Thomas left, he heartily indorsed it, and scarcely a man in the army can now be found, who does not believe that an important part is yet to be taken by the contrabands in the work of suppressing the rebellion. At one place it was given as the opinion of the general in command, that one regiment might possibly be raised. Before he left that place, three full regiments were organized. On one point the testimony of General Thomas was emphatic, and that was the fighting qualities of the negro. He had witnessed them at Milliken's Bend and other places, where they had exhibited a degree of determination, bravery, and heroism, which he ventured to say had not been surpassed anywhere in the history of the war. Gen. Thomas, in concluding, said he intended to start to the West to-day, to finish the work he had commenced on his first visit, and he had strong hope that before the close of the year he would have fully organized, equipped, and drilled one hundred thousand contrabands, who, with the consciousness of the fight in them, would render valuable service in the final overthrow of
one of the most causeless and wicked rebellions known in the history of the world."
The work thus begun is now being carried forward by our Western generals, as the following account from the department of General Rosecrans proves:--
"This general has issued an order," says a writer, "arming all the negroes in his department. I have not seen the order; but understand it is to the effect that all negroes employed as servants, by officers, and otherwise in the army, are to be immediately organized into regiments and armed. A second clause constitutes a board of examination, whose duty it is to examine officers of the army applying for commissions as officers of these regiments. Among others named as constituting this board I remember only the name of Col. Parkhurst, 11th Michigan. He tells me that officers thus applying are to be examined as to their peculiar fitness to control negroes, as well as to their ability to drill and discipline them as soldiers. There are now about seven thousand negroes in the department who will be thus armed, and the number is increasing daily. I should not be astonished to report, in two months hence, ten thousand negro soldiers as forming part of this army. It has been discovered here that a company of free negroes was at one time organized by the rebels in Nashville, and the Nashville rebel organ of Isham G. Harris expressed the opinion that each one could whip ten Yankees. As the white rebels had never claimed that they could whip more than five Yankees, the Nashville Union argues (and the army professes to accept the Argument) that a negro is twice as good as a secessionist.
The question is not likely to remain long without practical solution."
The civilizing process thus going on among our citizens of African descent has yet a great work to accomplish among a large portion of our Southern fellow-citizens, denominated the "poor white trash." We deeply commiserate these neglected people, who, but for the crushing effect of slavery upon free labor, would not now be placed so far behind the average civilization of the Free States. Their redemption, too, is nigh. It gives us pain to insert the following too truthful picture, as the writer can affirm from what he has himself witnessed in portions of the South:--
"All the citizens of the country in which the army now lies depend entirely upon it for daily support. They go each morning in squads to the different division headquarters, and draw food upon orders issued by the provost marshals of each division. It is estimated that many thousands in the vicinity of Winchester, Tenn., are thus fed by our troops. Most of these are women and children whose natural protectors are in the rebel army, or who are in our hands as deserters. The men are generally very old, and the boys are all under fifteen. Those liable to do military duty are gone, and not likely to get home soon. I talked with a great many of the women who came to Rousseau to get their rations, and find them in most cases indifferent to the return of their liege lords. There is a startling amount of immorality among them. In their habits, such as smoking, chewing, and 'dipping,' they are most disgusting. I was sitting in the tent of Capt. Williams, at Rousseau's, a
day or two since, admiring the delicate, well-turned features of a woman who, had she been educated, would have been thought beautiful, and was about to express some such idea to Capt. Williams, when she turned her head to one side, and, with the air and appearance of a practiced chewer, 'spirted' a stream of saliva from her thin lips, and then throwing away the tobacco she had been cheeking, took from her pocket a small vial of snuff, and with a spoon-shaped bit of wood filled her mouth with the filthy drug. 'Major, allow me,' said another young and beautiful damsel to a friend of mine who had just filled his pipe. At the same time she took a cob-pipe from her pocket, and filled it with the Major's strong smoking tobacco, and puffed away with the most perfect, but by no means charming, nonchalance. The ignorance of this people is as disgusting as their manners. I am told by some members of the Christian Commission that they have ten times the number of applications from slaves for reading-matter, primers, &c., that they have from the white citizens. At the headquarters of General Rousseau, at Cowan, rations are issued to two hundred and thirty-five persons daily, and the picture I have drawn of them will apply to all I have seen in this vicinity. I have seen no 'better class of chivalry' as yet. I suppose and hope they have gone South."
Another portion of the field is thus described by a correspondent of the St. Louis Democrat, who recently passed from Cairo to Vicksburg, from which we make a brief extract:--
"A river continually traversed by gunboats, bearing
upon its bosom large numbers of military transports, the banks of the river lined with frowning batteries, barren fields, depopulated villages, and a general suspension of business, gives but a poor photograph of the appearance of the country, late the theatre of hostile contests. From Cairo to Vicksburg, a distance of six hundred miles, not a score of human beings, residents of the territory between those points, appeared on the river shores, with the exception of negroes, most of whom were women and children.
"Southern conscription, the force used to compel able-bodied blacks to do the drudgery of the rebel army, together with the advance of our armies and the flight of guilty rebels, have, as I have mentioned, depopulated the country as though it had been visited by deadly plague. Nevertheless, thousands of helpless women and dependent children, and the aged and infirm of both sexes are to be found, at the different towns, landings, and farms. This class are to be supported, and, if unable, as they are, to make a livelihood for themselves must be the recipients of government charity. To-day there are not less than seven-tenths of the citizens of Tennessee and Mississippi, living on the borders of the river, who are the receivers of alms from the government commissary. War is a certain leveller of all classes of one or the other of the contending parties. This is true in a social as well as a pecuniary sense. Men and women, who, before the war, revelled in all the luxuries of wealth, not deigning to notice the 'poor white trash' among them, are to-day the associates of
and in the same condition with their once less fortunate, but now nearly equal, fellow-beings.
"The most complacent class along the river are the American citizens of African descent, once lorded over On the plantations, but now lords of the same. Collected at the different military posts are to be found hundreds and thousands of former slaves,--the male portion having enlisted in the Federal army,--the females and children, for the present, having settled near our camps, until provision shall have been made for their colonization, or preparation made to relieve them from a state of dependency."
"De darkies at de Norf am ris,
And dey am comin' down,--
Am comin' down, I know dey is,
To do de white folks brown!
"Dey'll turn ale massa out to grass,
and set de niggers free;
And when dat day am come to pass,
We'll all be dar to see!
"So shut your mouf as close as deaf,
And all you niggas hole your breaf,
And do de white folks brown!"
THE CONTRABANDS--WHAT TO DO, AND HOW TO EMPLOY THEM-- REPORT OF GOVERNMENT COMMISSIONERS--REPORT OF EMANCIPATION LEAGUE--A PLAN FOR THEIR COLONIZATION AND SUPPORT ON ROANOKE ISLAND--WHAT THEY HAVE DONE IN LIBERIA THEY MAY DO BETTER HERE--THE DARKY MAKING HIMSELF COMFORTABLE.
THE employment of this army of male contrabands must necessarily leave a large number of dependent women and children, whose fathers and protectors have enlisted in the army, to be supported in some way. To leave them, in the present unsettled condition of the various military districts, to perish, would be most inhuman. We are glad to find that the government is alive to the work, and the most prudent measures are being devised and executed to relieve their distress. What to do, and how to employ the contrabands is, and will for some time be, a most perplexing
question. To ascertain what could be done the government some time since appointed Robert Dale Owen, James McKaye, and Samuel G. Howe, commissioners to inquire into the condition and necessities of the slaves freed during the war. The commissioners have made a preliminary report concerning their investigations in the District of Columbia, Eastern Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. The Boston Journal gives the following synopsis of this report:--
"In the three sections first-named, the Commission are confident that the freedmen need not be, for any length of time, dependent upon the government for assistance. They are loyal, faithful, and willing to work; docile and uncomplaining. The negroes of South Carolina and Florida are of an essentially different character, having been much degraded by the harshness of the 'peculiar institution.' The most effective agency to give character to the race is found to be military training; and the Commissioners are of opinion that one hundred thousand negroes might be profitably employed as military laborers, and three hundred thousand as soldiers in the field. This number of able-bodied men, represent a population of a million and a half, being nearly one-half of all the colored people in the insurrectionary States. To provide for this population then, becomes an important question, and a system of guardianship is recommended, though, with the accompanying reflection, that such an arrangement must be only temporary in character.
"The plan of provisional organization which they
suggest includes a Superintendent General of Freedmen, to rank as a Brigadier-General, with his headquarters at Washington; three Department Superintendents, and below these, Resident Superintendents for each important station, with assistants, clerks, and other officers. Under these officers the refugees are to be constantly employed, receiving fair wages, that they may learn that emancipation does not mean idleness, or gratuitous labor. The importance of educational and religious instruction is also strongly urged, and the eagerness of these people to receive it is dwelt upon.
"The Commission express the opinion that the care of the refugees should be substantially separate from the ordinary military administration of the army, and are confident that, if a judicious selection of officers be made, the plans they propose will meet with practical success."*
* The following important order from General Grant, bearing upon this subject has been issued:--
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF TENNESSEE,
VICKSBURG, MISS., Aug. 10, 1863.
General Orders, No. 51:
I. At all military posts in States within this Department, where slavery has been abolished by the Proclamation of the President of the United States, camps will be established for such freed people of color as are out of employment.
II. Commanders of posts or districts will detail suitable officers from the army as superintendents of such camps. It will be the duty of such superintendents to see that suitable rations are drawn from the Subsistence Department for such as are confided to their care.
III. All such persons supported by the government will be employed in every practicable way, so as to avoid, far as possible, their becoming a burden upon the government. They may be hired to planters or other citizens, on proper assurances that the negroes so hired will not be run off beyond the jurisdiction of the United States. They may be employed on any public works, in gathering crops from abandoned plantations, and generally in in any manner local commanders may deem for the best interests of the government, in compliance with law and the policy of the Administration.
IV. It will be the duty of the provost marshal at every military post to see that every negro within the jurisdiction of the military authority is employed by some white person, or is sent to the camps provided for freed people.
V. Citizens may make contracts with freed persons of color for their labor given wages per month in money, or employ families of them by the year on plantations, etc., feeding, clothing, and supporting the infirm as well as the able-bodied, and given a portion of not less than one-twentieth of the commercial part of their crops in payment for such service.
VI. Where negroes are employed under this authority, the parties employing will register with the provost marshal their names, occupation, and residence and the number of negroes so employed. They will enter into such bonds as the provost marshal, with the approval of the local commander, may require, for the kind treatment and proper care of those employed, as security against them being carried off beyond the employer's jurisdiction.
VII. Nothing in this order is to be construed to embarrass the employment of such colored persons its may be required by the government.
By order of Major-General U. S. Grant.
T. S. BOWERS, Acting Assistant Adjutant General.
We learn from the Journal above referred to that the committee of the Emancipation League of Boston recently addressed a circular letter to those having charge of negroes within our military lines in the South, asking information as to their condition and capacity for self-support. The replies are published, and the gist of them is appended:--
"Gen. Saxton estimates the number of contraband in the Department of the South at about eighteen thousand, of which number twelve thousand are in the State of South Carolina. At Key West and other points in Florida there are about six thousand according to accounts. The general says the negro has shown as much willingness to work as white men would do under the same circumstances. They have no desire to come North. They are very anxious to be educated and their children learn as fast as white children. The negroes are described to be more pious than moral
but freedom and the doctrines of liberal Christianity will develop the moral element.
"C. B. Wilder writes from Fortress Monroe to the same effect. He says that two thousand negroes have been employed by the government at ten dollars per month, while white laborers get twenty-five dollars per month and found. Many of the negroes have been paid nothing, or next to nothing, and the government owes them $30,000.
"Rev. Samuel Sawyer writes from Helena, Ark., that there are four thousand contrabands there; that they are temperate, are more chaste than the whites; that they have no wish to go North; that their docility, subordination, and kindred virtues are remarkable, and that they are capable of making as much progress in all that is elevating as the poor whites among whom the writer has had many years' experience.
"George D. Wise, quartermaster to the Western flotilla, speaks favorably of the great service rendered by the negroes at Cairo last summer. They were more temperate, obedient, and generally serviceable than the white laborers. Lieut. Wise says the Southern negro is much more intelligent than the lower order of white people in the Slave States, which arises from their better associations, and the greater physical comforts they have enjoyed. He adds, however, their treatment by the officers of the government, 'as a rule has been brutal and cruel in the extreme. What they need is what they have long been promised, but never had,-- protection from the abuses of rebel sympathizers and reasonable encouragement and opportunity to get a living.'
"O. Brown reports from Carney Island (Hampton Roads) that there are at that depot thirteen hundred and eighty-one negroes, of whom only two hundred are men. They are all willing to work. One hundred of the men are getting wood, and assisting in the construction of barracks, and fifty others are engaged in catching oysters for the use of the island. The government pays them nothing; but many have saved fifty to one hundred dollars during the past year, while they had an opportunity of working for themselves. They do not desire to go North. Even house-servants decline the offer of good wages and permanent homes from their partiality for the Southern climate. Mr. Brown favors the scheme of colonization for these people.
"Chaplains Fitch and Ferman made a report from the Arkansas district substantially the same as that of Mr. Sawyer, alluded to above. They fix the amount of back pay due the contrabands by the government at $50,000.
"D. B. Nichols, Superintendent of the Contraband Department, reports that three thousand three hundred and eighty-one contrabands have passed through that camp within the last six months. Five hundred remain. Out of the whole number, Mr. Nichols says, 'I have not been able to persuade more than fifteen or twenty to go North, notwithstanding the most liberal offers have been made to them.' He adds, 'They desire to remain on the soil where they were born if they can do so and enjoy their freedom.'
"From the reports it appears that there is everywhere a lack of system as to the employment and pay
of the negroes, which should be remedied. All the facts brought out go to show not only that the philanthropists of the North have a great work before them in the care and training of the freed negroes; but also the necessity of a wise and comprehensive system on the part of the general government, which will soon have on its hands hundreds of thousands of these helpless grown-up children. If justice is done them, the negroes will ultimately take care of themselves; but during the transition period, and especially while the war goes on, they will necessarily be wards of the government, and it should make ample provision for the fulfilment of this novel class of duties."
Since the above reports were made, considerable progress has been made in several military departments, in bringing something like order out of the confused state of life in which the contrabands are living. In the department of North Carolina the Rev. Horace James has been commissioned by Gen. Foster to set forth the claims of the freed people of North Carolina. Considerable aid is needed for the support of the families of those who have enlisted in the army. The government has appropriated Roanoke Island for a new colonization of the loyal colored people who have flocked within our lines. They need comfortable cottages, and consequently building materials, agricultural implements, clothing, and a thousand little comforts of which they are at present destitute. The generosity with which the people respond in the Free States, will help, in a great measure, to solve the great problem before the country.
The black race have already accomplished much in
Liberia, where they have had to struggle against much greater obstacles than they will, in future, have to encounter here. The soil and climate of the Southern States is certainly as favorable to their development and prosperity as the coast of Africa. Colored men of unmixed African blood have gone from the Southern States to Liberia, and risen to the highest posts of influence and responsibility. The last account from that country states that the biennial election resulted in the choice of Hon. Daniel Dashiel Warner as President. Mr. Warner was born in Baltimore, April 19, 1815, and reached Liberia, May 24, 1823, and has not since been out of the country. He is described as a man of integrity and ability, a successful merchant, and has acceptably held several prominent public positions, among others, that of Secretary of State. He is now serving his second term as Vice President, and was lately Acting President during the absence, in Europe, of Mr. Benson.
A letter from Rev. A. Crummel, contains the following gratifying account of the progress which has been made in the African Republic:--
"One thing strikes me most forcibly, namely: the immense number of bricks made this year, and the many new houses which are building. Some years ago thatched houses formed the habitations of our citizens. They gave way to frame buildings. The day of frame buildings is past, and now brick buildings are springing up on every side. In our agricultural districts I see a very great change. There is less woodland than when I left two years ago. Now plantations
have been opened; old ones are larger; more sugar-mills have been imported; more sugar is in the market, and at a cheaper price. I wish I could say so much about cotton; but one fact I may mention. A friend of mine--one of my parishioners--is now buying cotton in goodly quantities from the natives, and as he buys, the quantity that comes increases. He has the largest hopes; sends seed into the interior, and expects to stimulate its wide growth in the interior. Our coffee culture was never in such a prosperous and hopeful state as at present. I am trying to collect the facts pertaining to it, and I shall not be surprised if fully half a million of acres are planted this year. I hope our next legislature will be composed of able men, and that generous offers from abroad may meet with a favorable notice."
Who will doubt that with the proper protection of the government given to this race, so that they shall be secure in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they will not accomplish still greater things. When we consider carefully all the facts, gleaned from various sources, so far, we look forward with confidence to the most encouraging and happy results.
Even now the contrabands are not slow in making themselves as comfortable as circumstances will admit, as the following writer attests:--
"I visited a camp of negroes near Memphis, on Sabbath last, and was agreeably surprised to find so much of neatness and order in all their arrangements. The soldiers are scrupulously clean, well clad, regularly and rigidly drilled, compelled to keep within the camp, and,
above all, anxious to learn and perform the duties of good soldiers. Half the discipline among the white soldiery would convert our army into a model of military management. About two hundred yards from the military camp is a camp of contrabands, women, and children. Where tents have not been brought into requisition, huts have been improvised and furnished in the most sumptuous manner, without regard to expense, from the extensive decorations of the palatial residences of their former owners. To give you an idea of the manner in which one of the huts was furnished, a description will not be uninteresting, at least, in showing the changes fortune makes in war.
"Modern negro huts are constructed out of round logs, the interstices filled with mud, a chimney of rocks and mortar creeping in the rear of the building above the roof. Within is a floor of earth, flat upon which is laid a Brussels carpet, the net cost of which before the war was from one dollar and fifty cents to three dollars per yard! The room--there is only one--is generally about ten or twelve feet square. In one corner is a piano, upon one end of which is a guitar; on the other a pile of 'middling,' (the reader must understand that middling means, down South, 'bacon') the piano and accompaniments giving a middling musical air to the interior. Mahogany chairs, a spring mattress, bedstead, &c., &c., complete the comforts of one of the negro huts, of which, in this country, there are not a few."
The question continually asked, in respect to the African race, is, Will they work? Are they capable of assuming the responsibilities of freedmen? These
questions can only be answered by facts. During a residence of many years in the South, the writer of these pages, a Southerner by birth, studied the institution of slavery with Northern eyes, which had no doubt been somewhat enlightened by six years of study in Northern institutions.
Living, at the time to which reference is now made, in a district almost wholly slave-holding, and brought into daily contact with the lives of the masters as well as the slave, he had some opportunity to judge of their capacity and willingness to labor. I well remember S., left, when quite young, with a large plantation and many slaves to manage. He had been a spoiled child, and the associates he formed after he grew up exercised over him a vicious influence. He developed but little business capacity adequate to the responsible post he was expected to occupy. Fortunately for him and his pecuniary interests, there was found among his servants (slaves) a man of most remarkable powers for one of his race. Solomon was the acknowledged ruler and overseer of the plantation. He was a man of herculean form and power, of a massive head, with intelligence and power shining in every feature. He understood, as if by instinct, every fault in his master's attempted management of the plantation. S. at length found it wise to resign his affairs to his care and keeping. He entered upon his stewardship, as a man confident of his ability to accomplish so responsible an undertaking. This man had not the slightest mixture of white blood in his veins. Beneath his ebony features the stamp of genius had been imprinted by nature.
The slaves of the plantation feared him, and he ruled them as with a rod of iron. That plantation had the reputation of raising more grain, of being kept in better condition, as to the richness of soil and attention to buildings, fences, and the many important items of farming, than any in the neighborhood.
Without education, except what Nature gave him, he was, nevertheless, as shrewd in his business transactions as he was prompt in keeping his contracts. When we compare this uneducated African, managing so skilfully and successfully this large estate, with the effeminate and incompetent master, we must confess that Solomon, in our eves, came up more fully to the measure and capacity of a man. If this man could so contribute to his master's wealth, notwithstanding the circumstances of his birth, why not to his own? Would he fight? He seemed born to command. He had the stamp of a Hannibal in his face.
"Prejudice is an unreasoning and remorseless despot; but Prejudice is more frequently dethroned than any other tyrant. And I predict that the time is coming, and it may dawn in your day and mine, when the colored people will be found among the most devoted defenders of the American Union. The war, like a thunderstorm, clears away many clouds; the prejudice against the colored people is one of them. Let us, then, thank Heaven that if the rebellion has been a sore trial to our beloved country, it has cleansed us from many sins, and induced us to look forward to a brighter, because a better, future."
PREJUDICE AGAINST THE AFRICAN RACE CONSIDERED--THE NEW YORK MOB AND THE SUFFERINGS OF THE NEGRO-- BURNING OF THE COLORED ORPHAN ASYLUM--NOTES OF PERSONAL OUTRAGES--CONDUCT OF THE BRITISH CONSUL-GENERAL-- ADVICE OF THE GREAT O'CONNELL.
IN the present chapter we design to consider some of the difficulties in the way of the advancement of the African race on this continent, on the ground of prejudice. This prejudice exists North as well as South, and among various classes of the people. The slave-holder has no prejudice against the negro so long as he is a slave; but the moment he seeks to rise in the scale of being, and takes part with him in the duties of the citizen, his antipathies are aroused.
The poor whites of Raleigh, as soon as they encountered Lunsford Lane as a free man,--freed as the result of his own labors,--said, "You are only a nigger, after all."
It will be through much tribulation, and a persistent
course of well-doing, that our colored fellow-citizens will be able to overcome this deep-seated prejudice. God often over-rules our severest trials as the procurer of our richest blessings. A signal instance of this is seen in the late persecution of the colored people of New York, and in other cities. The vials of wrath against these unoffending people seemed now to be unstopped, and their contents poured out. We stop not now to consider the immediate cause of this outbreak. Let our politicians do this. We are considering only the facts.
The future historian will feel only shame as he writes the brief paragraph in our social annals of the New York riots of July, 1863, and the treatment received by this people. That our adopted fellow-citizens from the Green Isle should have participated in these scenes is surprising. In no country is there less prejudice toward them. Here they are indeed free. Here they may rise to any position of influence, with no disabilities to impede their advancement. We esteem them highly for their virtues and industry. We are rejoiced to see them so steadily increasing in wealth and in happiness. Why, then, should they seek to crush the poor African who, too, seeks to rise?
That we may see the ruinous and irrational and even barbarous extent to which this prejudice may run, if indulged, let us briefly review these late riots. We will not go into the brutal particulars. We simply state results.
One account estimates that three thousand colored people have been made homeless, penniless, and destititute, by the recent mob. The situation of these
unfortunate victims of brutality and violence has attracted the attention of the wealthy citizens of New York, and in accordance with the views of a meeting of merchants and others, recently held, arrangements will soon be made to relieve the wants of those who are known to be in a suffering condition, as well as to ascertain the whereabouts, and minister to the necessities of many more who are probably secreted in places of doubtful security.
Another report states that list of all the colored persons now in the care of the commissioners of charities and correction of the city (New York) comprises five hundred and twenty persons. Three hundred and sixteen of the number arc actual refugees from the city, and two hundred and six are children from the Colored Orphan Asylum, which was burned to the ground by the mob. Three clergymen are among the first class referred to.
The following is an account of the burning of the Orphan Asylum for colored children. It was visited by the mob at four o'clock:--
"This institution is situated on Fifth Avenue, and the building, with the grounds and gardens adjoining, extended from Forty-third to Forty-fourth Street. Hundreds, and perhaps thousands of the rioters, the majority of whom were women and children, entered the premises, and in the most excited and violent manner, they ransacked and plundered the building from cellar to garret. The building was located in the most pleasant and healthy portion of the city. It was purely a charitable institution. In it there are on an average six
hundred or eight hundred homeless colored orphans. The building was a large four-story one with two wings of three stories each.
"When it became evident that the crowd designed to destroy it, a flag of trace appeared on the walk opposite, and the principals of the establishment made an an appeal to the excited populace; but in vain.
"Here it was that Chief Engineer Decker showed himself one of the bravest among the brave. After the entire building had been ransacked, and every article deemed worth carrying away had been taken,--and this included even the little garments for the orphans, which were contributed by the benevolent ladies of this city,-- the premises were fired on the first floor. Mr. Decker did all he could to prevent the flames from being kindled; but when he was overpowed by superior numbers, with his own hands he scattered the brands, and effectually extinguished the flames. A second attempt was made, and this time in three different parts of the house. Again he succeeded, with the aid of half a dozen of his men, in defeating the incendiaries. The mob became highly exasperated at his conduct, and threatened to take his life if he repeated the act. On the front steps of the building he stood up amid an infuriated and half-drunken mob of two thousand, and begged of them to do nothing so disgraceful to humanity as to burn a benevolent institution, which had for its object nothing but good. He said it would be a lasting disgrace to them and to the city of New York.
"These remarks seemed to have no good effect upon
them, and meantime the premises were again fired,-- this time in all parts of the house. Mr. Decker, with his few brave men, again extinguished the flames. This last act brought down upon him the vengeance of all who were bent on the destruction of the asylum, and but for the fact that some firemen surrounded him, and boldly said that Mr. Decker could not be taken except over their dead bodies, he would have been despatched on the spot. The institution was destined to be burned, and after an hour and a half of labor on the part of the mob, it was in flames in all parts. Three or four persons were horribly bruised by the falling walls, but the names we could not ascertain. There is now scarcely one brick left upon another of the Orphan Asylum."
We append in the note some particulars of the brutalities enacted by the mob.*
* OUTRAGES UPON COLORED PERSONS. Among the most cowardly features of the riot, and one which intimated its political animus and the cunningly-devised cue that had been given to the rioters by the instigators of the outbreak, was the causeless and inhuman treatment of the negroes of the city. It seemed to be an understood thing throughout the city that the negroes should be attacked wherever found, whether they offered any provocation or not. As soon as one of these unfortunate people was spied, whether on a cart, a railroad car, or in the street, he was immediately set upon by a crowd of men and boys, and unless some man of pluck came to his rescue, or he was fortunate enough to escape into a building, he was inhumanly beaten, and perhaps killed. There were probably not less than a dozen negroes beaten to death in different parts of the city during the day. Among the most diabolical of these outrages that have come to our knowledge is that of a negro cartman living in Carmine, Street. About eight o'clock in the evening, as he was coming out of the stable, after having put up his horses, he was attacked by a crowd of about four hundred men and boys, who beat him with clubs and paving-stones til he was lifeless, and then hung him to a tree opposite the burying-ground. Not being yet satisfied with their devilish work, they set fire to his clothes, and danced and yelled and swore their horrid oaths around his burning corpse. The charred body of the poor victim was still hanging upon the tree at a late hour last evening.
Early in the afternoon, the proprietors of such saloons and other places of business as had negroes in their employ, were obliged to close up, for fear that the rioters would destroy their premises. In most of them the negroes were compelled to remain over night, not daring to go home lest they be mobbed on the way.
The following, is, perhaps, one of the worst cases of brutality which has been yet recorded since the revolting scenes of this riot have commenced to be enacted:--
"At a late hour on Wednesday night, a colored man, whose name we could not obtain, was passing along West Street, in the neighborhood of Pier No. 5, North River. He was evidently a laboring man, and was dressed in a tarpaulin, a blue shirt, and heavy duck trousers. As he was passing a groggery in that vicinity, he was observed by a body of dock-men, who instantly set after him, he ran with all the swiftness his fears could excite, but was overtaken before he had gone a block. His persecutors did not know him, nor did they entertain any spite against him, beyond the fact that he was a black man, and a laborer upon the docks, which they consider their own peculiar property. Nevertheless, they pitched into him, right and left, knocked him down, pulled him up by the hair, kicked him in the face and ribs, and finally, by the hands of their leader, deliberately cut his throat. The body, dead they supposed it, was thrown into the water, and left to sink. Fortunately, life was not extinct, and the sudden plunge brought the poor fellow to his senses, and, being a good swimmer, he was enabled instinctively to seek for the net-work of the dock. This he soon found; but was so weak from loss of blood, and so faint with pain that he could do no more than hold on and wait for day. Yesterday morning, Messrs. Kelley and Curtis, of Whitehall, discovered him laying, half-dead, in the water. They at once attended to his wants, gave him in charge of the police boat, and had him sent to the hospital. The escape of the man from death by the successive abuses of beating, knifing, and drowning, is most wonderful."
Says another account:--
"Our poor blacks are fleeing in all directions. No place is safe for them. About three miles from the South Ferry, on the road to East New York, is a settlement of negroes, called Weeksville. About one thousand of them reside there. Some of them are quite wealthy. The men are servants, and the women take in washing, and tend the gardens. They are orderly and quiet. During all this trouble, these poor creatures have been in dreadful fear. On Wednesday night it was rumored that the place was to be pillaged and burnt. The helpless people took what little they could carry, and fled to the woods, and, like frightened sheep, clung together all the night, no one daring to go to sleep. They do not know what to do, nor where to go. They come bounding into the cars, only to be turned out, as the conductors are in fear of the mob."
The Evening Post says the colored people have determined to defend themselves hereafter. To this end the colored residents of the Eighth Ward have of late been busy in fortifying and strengthening the section which is largely populated by them. This consists of parts of Sullivan and Thompson Streets, between Broome and Grand. At this point they have decided to make a stand, and feel confident that they can resist any attack which will be made, or at least hold out until reinforcements shall arrive. Whoever attacks them will have an opportunity of testing what virtue there is in firearms, hand-grenades, boiling water, and brickbats.
An exploration of the negro settlement on Staten Island, known as "Rocky Hollow," reveals the fact that the colored people have not yet dared to return to the homes whence they have been driven by the violence and threats of a brutal mob, but are hiding in the woods, and suffering for want of the necessaries of life.
THE TROY MOB AND THE NEGROES. The Troy Times says,--
"One of the meanest and most contemptible incidents of the mob reign in this city was its demonstration against helpless and unoffending negroes, who had done nothing to provoke the hostility of their persecutors. A large number of these poor persons fled the city in a panic of terror. Some twenty-five, including the pastor of the church on Liberty Street, which was menaced, found a refuge in Sandlake. One family of four persons was charged by a hackman ten dollars for being carried eight miles. Others found their way to Lansingburg, Greenbush, and Albany. A large number have been living in outhouses on their Poestenkill flats, compelled, for no offence against law or order, to leave their employments and homes, where they enjoyed much of comfort. Of course these last-named are in a state of destitution. They would have famished, had not benevolent farmers and citizens living near by provided scantily for their immediate necessities. It is a burning shame to our city that any who are entitled to its protection are thus banished from it."
That it is exceedingly difficult to divest ourselves of these prejudices is admitted; and yet it is not much credit to our civilization to say that the prejudice
against "negroes" is, of all known prejudices, the meanest and the worst, and that it has no other basis, except ignorance.
"Some prejudices," says Greville, "are to the mind what the atmosphere is to the body. We cannot feel without the one, nor breathe without the other." And again, "to divest one's self of some prejudices would be like taking off the skin to feel the better."
We admire the promptness of the British Consul-General of New York, when he was advised of the outrages inflicted upon many black sailors belonging to English
ships, in providing immediate security. In the absence of an English war-ship at that port, he applied to the commander of the French frigate Guerriere, Admiral Raymond, to take this class of persons under his immediate protection. The admiral consented, and took two hundred blacks on board of his vessel. The British frigate Challenge, Capt. Kennedy, arrived soon after, when the negroes were transferred to her from the French frigate, with one hundred others, who were sent from the Consulate.
Men of great souls seldom entertain prejudices against the innocent and unoffending. It is generally the unprincipled and low-bred who can afford to indulge these disreputable thoughts and acts.
The Catholic Telegraph,*
* See Boston Journal for July, 1863.
of Cincinnati, prints a long letter of remonstrance, addressed, in 1843, by Daniel O'Connell, and a committee of Irishmen to a committee of Irish citizens of Cincinnati, who ventured to rebuke O'Connell for his anti-slavery sentiments. The reply of the great Irishman is pungent. He does not spare his sarcasms. He overwhelms the luckless Cincinnati committee with reproaches on their meanness in abusing the down-trodden, and taking part with the oppressor. The letter, which is to be published in pamphlet form, concludes as follows:--
"Irishmen! sons of Irishmen! descendants of the kind of heart and affectionate in disposition, think, oh think only with pity and compassion on your colored fellow-creatures in America. Offer them the hand of
kindly help. Soothe their sorrows. Scathe their oppressor. Join with your countrymen at home in one cry of sympathy with the enslaved and oppressed:--
' 'Till prone in the dust Slavery shall be hurled,--
Its name and nature blotted from the world.'
"Once again,--and for the last time,--we call upon you to come out of the councils of the slave-owners, and at all events to free yourselves from participating in their guilt.
"Irishmen, I call upon you to join in crushing slavery, and in giving liberty to every man of every caste, creed, or color."
"There is a poor, blind Samson in this land,
Shorn of his strength, and bound in bonds of steel,
Who may, in some grim revel, raise his hand,
And shake the pillars of this commonweal,
Till the vast Temple of our liberties
A shapeless mass of wreck and rubbish lies."
NEWS FROM THE OLD FOLKS AT HOME--LETTER FROM MEMPHIS, TENN.--LUNSFORD AT SCHOOL--VISIT OF LAFAYETTE TO RALEIGH--LUNSFORD NOTICED BY HIM--LAFAYETTE'S OPINIONS--THE LYCEUM AT THE MINERAL SPRING--THE NEGRO DEBATERS--THE FREEDMEN AT PORT ROYAL, AS SEEN BY A WRITER IN THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.
THE reader of the foregoing narrative may perhaps feel an interest in learning something of the subsequent history of some of the persons to whom reference has been made. Civil war has no doubt made many changes in the condition of Lunsford's friends. The children of Mr. Haywood, his former master, ever entertained the strongest attachment toward Lunsford and his father Uncle Ned. On learning of his death, which occurred, as stated in a preceding chapter, in Wrentham, Miss Lucy, now Mrs. D. Bryan, who had been carried so many times in the arms of Uncle Ned addressed to his bereaved widow a very consoling letter. it seams that Mrs. Bryan's husband's father owned a fine plantation, to which Mr. Bryan had fallen heir,
where they had gone to reside. It is to be supposed that their mansion had ample accommodations for their numerous visitors, from the name given it. It was near to Plymouth, on the Roanoke River.
Lunsford, Miss Lucy, and Miss Delia were children together. The latter afterward became Mrs. Badger, wife of the Hon. George E. Badger. Aunt Clarissa, Lunsford's mother, in Mrs. Haywood's time, had charge of the dining-room, and held the keys of the pantry. The children, of whom there were four boys and five girls, knew where to go when the coveted delights of the pantry were to be unlocked. Is it strange that Aunt Clarissa was long and affectionately remembered?
"HOTEL NEAR PLYMOUTH, N. C., Feb. 23, 1858.
"MY DEAR AUNT CLARISSA: Your letter to your sister, directed to me, was duly received, and not being at home, I forwarded it to Matilda at Raleigh. I sincerely sympathize with you in the loss of your husband. You had lived together so long and so happily that you must feel this dispensation of God as a great affliction. I am pleased to see that you show so much Christian resignation in your trouble, and hope you will live many years to comfort your family. You have always been so faithful and affectionate to our family, that I, as well as the other members, feel great respect an affection for you. When you left us to go to a strange land, we felt that We had Parted from a dear friend. My good old mother (Mrs. Haywood) departed this life two years ago last December. Her disease was paralysis. She had a great many heirs.
"Your sister (Lunsford's aunt) Matilda was given her freedom by Mrs. Hogg (this was one of Mr. Haywood's daughters). You know who I mean,--Miss Sally. Dr. Hogg built a room for her, and Miss Sally gave her Clarissa (Matilda's own daughter) to wait on her. Matilda looks well, and is yet a smart, active woman. Alex., her husband, is living, and has changed very little. All the old people about Raleigh, pretty near, are dead. Mrs. Henry Haywood is the only one of the old set that is living. Maria, my sister, is living on a corner of the four-acre lot, where the old mansion stands. There she built a pretty cottage, near where the old blacksmith shop stood, at the back of the garden. She thought she could take better care of her servants. She has one or two about the house and garden, and hires out the rest. But you know we look upon our servants as friends, and not as slaves, and we feel as much for them as if they were children. (Lunsford on reading this portion of the letter, and looking back upon his past history, and that of his offspring, admit the truth of this statement.) The abolitionists say a great deal about Southern people; but you know from your own experience, and that of your family, that you never received any but the kindest treatment. I often think of the time when you went to New York with me; how I persuaded you to stay (Clarissa, having left a husband, a son, brothers and sisters in Raleigh, felt naturally a desire to see them) and when I would cry, you were so tender-hearted and kind you would promise to stay. When you did leave, I felt most wretched. I am now staying
with my son William. The place once belonged to
William's grandfather, and is a pretty place. I have
only five children left,--two sons and three daughters,--
having lost three. Of the old house-servants, nearly
all that you knew are dead. Billy Noyes, (the carpenter)
is still living, and Green (the teamster). Hasty
(the cook) lives with me. I took her to care for her.
She is quite smart and active, and cooks very well.
Sam Mac (Lunsford's uncle), as he is called,--I
believe he is a brother of Uncle Ned's,--is still living.
Mr. William Boylan* * This gentleman proved himself the truest friend of Lunsford in Raleigh.
is the oldest man in Raleigh now. His son, Mountfort, has quite an interesting family, and lives four miles from Raleigh. It is his intention to build a large house where his father lives at present. Then the old people will remove to their residence in the city. I believe I have told you all the news I can think of at present. I was indeed glad to hear that you had the comforts of life, and wanted for nothing. William, my son, remembers your name well. He was a little child when you took him to New York. I think of you with feelings of great pleasure, and believe me to be your affectionate friend.
* This gentleman proved himself the truest friend of Lunsford in Raleigh.
"LUCY D. BRYAN."
B. B. Smith from whom Lunsford purchased his wife and children, kept up a correspondence with Lunsford for sometime after his removal to the North. He continued to traffic in negroes and merchandise as long as the trade was profitable. As Mr. Smith was a prominent and influential member of the Methodist Church
South, Lunsford never understood how he could make his professions and his practices of a business kind consistent. Mr. Smith, when a child, had inherited a little slave,--a girl of great smartness and beauty. Lenda, on reaching womanhood, married and had one soil, Washington. Of course she loved this, her only child, as only a mother can; but the child belonged not to her. When the maternal care was no longer needed, he was, in his master's eyes, as any other marketable commodity, to be sold or bartered away. Washington was a "likely negro," and at fifteen or twenty commanded good price. A Mr. Bunch, or Buffalo Creek, residing some twenty miles from Raleigh, was the lucky purchaser. Whether there was any sadness in the mother's heart at parting thus with her son, was a matter about which Mr. Smith cared but little. Several years had passed by, and as yet she had heard no word from her child. It length the season of the quarterly meeting came, and with it Mr. Blake, the presiding elder from the neighborhood of Buffalo Creek. One evening, during the meeting, Lunsford overheard a conversation between Mr. Blake and Lenda, the former being the guest of Mr. Smith. She sought information concerning the boy Washington. Her inquiries were satisfied to this extent,--no more. The Rev. Mr. Blake had seen Washington, and his master had declared to him that the boy Was worth "five hundred dollars!" He thought this was paying a high compliment to her son which would be most satisfying to this poor slave-mother. The incident was a slight one, but as never forgotten by Lunsford. Not a word did this Christian minister utter in
in regard to the boy's moral well-being, or a consoling sentence to the mother. The last information obtained in regard to Mr. Smith speaks of his having exhausted all his property, and at length was striving to support his family upon a small salary, as town-clerk of Raleigh. This was, indeed, a very humble position for M. Smith, and we are almost inclined to look upon it as one of the compensations in that just discipline that a wise Providence administers to all his children.
Lunsford received another letter from an individual who prefers not to give his name. It is quite a spicy epistle; but inasmuch as Lunsford had neither brother nor sister, he cannot be the person referred to. If it was a trick to catch Lunsford in Cincinnati, for the purpose of his being kidnapped, it did not succeed; as he had no desire to undertake a journey to see a family with whom he had no acquaintance, and to whom he was, in no way related. The letter is as follows:--
"MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, June 2, 1846.
"DEAR SIR:--From what I have hir and seen I have concluded to write you a few lines for your consideration and Information. In the year of 1826 may, one Tho. Bond stop at Franklin this state and hierd out some 40 or 50 slaves and in the fall, of sd yeare he sent his servant Nelson Back to North Carolina,. After N. Wife named Harriet. Nelson and hur disagree and Afterwards took up with a White Man and they had several Children and the man has bout Harriet and hur Children accept the one by Nelson and sent them to Cincinnati Ohio. Harriet left hear this day week for
cincinnatti ohio. She came on a viset to see hur Daughter Silvey Nelsons child that is yet a slave I have often hird Harriet speak of you and Stephen and hur sisters Chaney and Rebacea that you all once belong to Grisey Lane and She married, I thenk George Rion (Lunsford knew absolutely nothing of these persons). If you wish to corrispond with Harriot address Mrs Harriet S Rolls Cincinnati Ohio to the Care of Mr William Rolls, or if you wish to Viset hur take the cars at Baltimore for Cumberland and from thear by the Stage 131 to Wheeling V.a on the Ohio River and thear take Steamboat to Cincinnatti Ohio it costs 11$ from Baltimore to Whealling and 5$ from Wheeling to cincennatti ohio or did this time 2 year ago. If you go to see Harriet she lives on 5 stree I think and en quire for Harriet Sharp or hur daughter Mary or hur son Anduson sharp they ar freed in the name of sharp they ar all weel and doing well Wm Rolls is a black smith and has a Family and belong to the Bapfist Church and Harriet also. Rolls is a bout the coller of Harriet. The Reason I write this Epistle is I have the North Carolina Standard dated Raleigh N.C. May 13, 1846 and in this paper I see a leter Written in Wethersfield Connecticut stating that Lunsfud Lane says that he was born in Raleigh and belong to a Mr Sherwod Haywood and after his deth you bought your self and pd 1000$ and that you also bought from B B. Smith, your wife and 7 children and that you lecture in the Babtist Church and that you ar trying to Rase in money to cause the slaves to run a way from thear Masters in the South next August. Tho I expect that you have
seen it in the Paper and that you speak of Inserrection. &C, All that I have to say to you on that subject is that I am a Friend to Harriet and live in one of the South West States and if you ware to come to one of those slave States and it was known that you ware one of them kind of Men you would be killed Without Judge or Jury. I wish you to do Well and if you permit me to advise you, I say attend to your own business and let others a lone Harriet can let you know who I am.
I will write to hur and send the paper concerning of you, I never saw you neither was I ever in N. C. the Paper also states that you have gone to Bestin to live your Brother Harris lives in Mississeppi he was well last year he marred and weight about 190 lb
As Lunsford never had a brother, some "One" is laboring under a misapprehension, which to this day he has had no opportunity to correct.
Many persons who have seen and conversed with Lunsford Lane have been surprised at his intelligence, his gentlemanly manners, and his fine use of language. He has never been to school a day in his life, in the sense that we understand the term, and yet, he has had considerable schooling. He was a diligent student in the school of, experience; and having endowments and faculties common to others, he made considerable progress in the acquisition of useful knowledge. He differed from others of his race more in respect to his industrious habits, and determination to better his condition, than in any other qualities. His early manhood
was passed during a period peculiarly favorable at the South for the slave's advancement. That they were not slow at improving these opportunities, we may learn from several incidents taken from the reminiscences of Lunsford's history. Years before the name of abolitionist was heard in the Southern States, at least in a sense odious to slave-holders, a certain degree of freedom was allowed to slaves in their social and religious meetings; it was not the custom to require white persons to attend colored funerals; all these meetings were so many schools, where the slaves interchanged their views upon various subjects, and even debated questions affecting, their own well-being; gentlemen's servants, selected for their natural intelligence, forming, as they did, quite a large class at the South, were in the habit of attending their masters at great political gatherings and barbecues. In this way Lunsford and others heard most of the distinguished orators of the South. We are speaking now of Lunsford's experience at Raleigh, and that section of North Carolina; and the same is true of other intelligent servants who occupied a similar relation to their masters. Lunsford has a vivid remembrance of many important political gatherings and of the individuals who were prominent in these popular discussions. He has heard on frequent occasions, Calhoun, Preston of South Carolina, Badger, Stanly, Judge Gaston, Judge Ruffin, Mangum, and others.
That these intelligent slaves should be inspired with A love of liberty, as they listened to the fervent portrayal Of the superiority of American freedom over the
despotism of Europe, is not at all strange. On one of these occasions, the Rev. Dr. McPhetus, of Raleigh, was called upon to make a prayer, and, after fervently thanking the Supreme Governor of all things for the privileges enjoyed and secured to us by our free institutions, he introduced the sentiment that made a deep and lasting impression upon Lunsford, "that it was impossible to enslave an intelligent people." Lunsford pondered the words and discussed them again and again as opportunity offered, with other servants; and the more they were revolved in their minds, the more determined they became that they would be free.
About the year 1824 an incident occurred in Lunsford's experience, of a very interesting nature. It was the meeting of Lafayette at Raleigh. Lunsford acted as one of the waiters at the great dinner given in the Governor's palace. He felt it a pleasure to serve him even in this relation. Lafayette never loved slavery, white or black; and in years after this visit, when he contemplated the extent to which the institution had increased in those very States that he had with his own sword fought to make free, he felt a degree of shame which he did not hesitate to express,--shame and indignation which no language of his could adequately portray. "I would never," said he on occasion, "have drawn my sword in the cause of America, if I could have conceived that thereby I was founding a land of slavery." And again, while in the prison at Magdeburg, he said, "I know not what disposition has been made of my plantation at Cayenne; but I hope Madame de Lafayette will take care that the negroes who
cultivate it shall preserve their liberty."* * O. Lafayette, grandson of General Lafayette, in a letter written as late as
April 26, 1851, says, "This great question of the abolition of negro slavery,
which has my entire sympathy, appears to me to have established its importance
throughout the world. At the present time, the States of the Peninsula, if I do
not deceive myself, are the only European powers who still continue to possess
slaves; and America, while continuing to uphold slavery, feels daily, more and more, how heavily it weighs upon her destinies."
Lunsford, as he behold this great man, and thought of his services in behalf of freedom, felt proud to be even his waiter, and slave as he was, he felt his noble words in advocacy of human rights stirring his own soul to a firmer determination than ever, not only to be free, but to advocate its claims before others. On the day following his reception, Laflayette met Lunsford and handed him a ten dollar note which he desired he should get changed into smaller denominations. He generously handed Lunsford a silver dollar, with the request that he would distribute the rest among the other servants as a token of his appreciation of their kindness.
* O. Lafayette, grandson of General Lafayette, in a letter written as late as April 26, 1851, says, "This great question of the abolition of negro slavery, which has my entire sympathy, appears to me to have established its importance throughout the world. At the present time, the States of the Peninsula, if I do not deceive myself, are the only European powers who still continue to possess slaves; and America, while continuing to uphold slavery, feels daily, more and more, how heavily it weighs upon her destinies."
It is not strange that Lunsford and other intelligent servants, who were present with their masters on the occasion referred to, and hearing the very language and sentiments of freedom, should have desired their liberty also. It was the custom of the colored people of Raleigh, both free and slave, to assemble every Sabbath afternoon during the pleasant weather at a famous mineral spring in the suburbs of that town. While we have no design to approve of such a custom, we shall speak of it only as a means whereby the slaves found a way for the free expression of their opinions, and for the cultivation of their minds. The hours of the afternoon beneath the pleasant shade and around the spring,
were spent in the discussion of various questions; often the audience would be entertained by the speaker's giving from memory the substance of a speech he had heard at some political meeting during the week with his master. So witty became the debates of the colored people at the grove, that the white people would coma in large numbers to listen. Many masters even felt proud of the growing smartness of their slaves, and encouraged these efforts while they appeared harmless. Thus many of the smarter class of slaves learned the value of freedom, and were at length filled with an irrepressible desire to secure it even at the hazard of their lives. But these palmy days of slavery soon passed away, not because abolitionists at the North had been there to infuse among these slaves a desire for freedom, but because the pressure of slavery being for a while lifted, that innate love of freedom had a brief time to grow. The slaves themselves are the original abolitionists; the story of their wrongs has simply made us their advocates at the bar of public opinion. These meetings, everywhere in the South, were suppressed as soon as the native intelligence in the slave took the direction of a desire for freedom, and at the present day all gatherings of slaves of whatever, kind are suppressed by statute. Their religious meetings were also placed under the surveillance of white preachers. Many who had learned the value of freedom, as Lunsford did, sought in all lawful ways to obtain it; those who were unable to purchase it ran away, and penetrated even into the Northern States and into Canada; they found ears willing to listen to the story of their wrongs; that
these wrongs awakened deep sympathies is not strange; that they made many abolitionists is what we should expect. The mistake committed was originally by the, masters themselves; they should not have allowed so large a liberty; the race was found far more capable of elevation than they suspected, and hence to retain them as slaves they must be kept in the profoundest ignorance.
The September number of the Atlantic Monthly contains quite an extended article upon the freedmen at Port Royal. We design to close this chapter with a brief synopsis of the article, with such remarks as our own acquaintance with the subject may suggest. Besides, the length of that contribution may prevent some from giving it as careful a perusal is it deserves. The writer speaks from a personal knowledge of what he has himself seen, during a visit to the islands, and the various schools at present in successful operation. And first, in regard to educational matters. More than thirty schools are already established in the territory, and over forty teachers are employed in the various departments, commissioned by "three associations in Boston, New York., and Philadelphia, and by the American Missionary Association." There is an average attendance of "two thousand pupils; and more or less frequented by an additional thousand." The writer visited ten schools, and conversed with the teachers of others. "On the twenty-fifth of March, I visited a school at the Central Baptist Church, on St. Helena Island, built in 1850, shaded by live-oak trees with the long, pendulous moss everywhere hanging from their wide-spreading
branches, and surrounded by the gravestones of the former proprietors, with the over-recurring names or Fripp and Chaplin. This school was opened in September last; but many of its pupils had received some instruction before. One hundred and thirty children were present on my first visit, and one hundred and forty-five on my second, which was a few days later. This school, like most on the plantations, opened at noon, and closed at three o'clock, leaving the forenoon for the children to work in the field, or perform other service in which they could be useful. One class of twelve pupils were using Wilson's Reader and read with little spelling or hesitation. They had recited thirty pages of Town's Speller, and had made some progress in the multiplication-table. A few, among the younger, were learning the alphabet.
"They sang at the close of the school, with much spirit, appropriate hymns,--
'My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty.'
'Sound the loud timbrel.'
"Also Whittier's new song, written expressly for this school, the closing stanzas of which are,--
'The very oaks are greener clad,
The water brighter smile;
Oh, never shone a day so glad
On sweet St. Helen's isle!
For none in all the world before
Were ever glad as we,--
We're free on Carolina's shore,
We're all at home and free.'
"Never has that muse, which has sung only of truth and right, as the highest beauty and noblest art, been consecrated to a better service than to write the songs of praise for those little children, chattels no longer, whom the Saviour, were he now to walk the earth, would bless as his own."
This writer then gives us several specimens of their native songs, as sung by the children. We have heard these long enough, and we hope the good taste of the refined young ladies at Port Royal will substitute others more sensible and elevated in language. Northern people love to hear these songs as specimens of negro ignorance. Let us now endeavor to teach them something better. Here is a specimen which should not be tolerated in these schools:--
* How d'y'do.
"In de mornin' when I rise,
Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?*
In de mornin' when I rise,
Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?
I wash my hands in de mornin' glory,
Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?
I wash my hands in de mornin' glory,
Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?
Pray, Tony, pray, boy, you got de order,
Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?
Pray, Tony, pray, you got de order,
Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?"
* How d'y'do.
We hope the day may soon come when all such illiterate, we will not say senseless, songs will be discouraged by all who wish and are laboring for the true enlightenment of the African race.
The uncouth and vulgar exhibition of "negro minstrelsy" we trust has also had its day.
In this school were found three teachers,--two accomplished young ladies from the North. "The third is a young woman of African descent, of olive complexion, fine culture, and attuned to all beautiful sympathies of gentle address, and, what was especially noticable, not possessed with an overwrought consciousness of her race. She had read the best books, and naturally and gracefully enriched her conversation with them. She had enjoyed the friendship of Whittier; had been a pupil in the grammar school of Salem, then the State Normal School in that city, then a teacher at one of the schools for white children, where she had received only the kindest treatment, both from pupils and their parents, and let this be spoken to the honor of that ancient town. She had refused a residence in Europe, where a better social life and less unpleasant discrimination awaited her, for she would not dissever herself from the fortunes of her own people; and now not with a superficial sentiment, but with a profound purpose, she devotes herself to their education."
Another school at Coffin Point, on St. Helena Island was visited, taught by a young woman from Milton, Massachusetts.
"One class had read through Hillard's Second Primary Reader, and were, as a review, reading lessons 19, 20, and 21, while I was present. Being questioned as to the subjects of the lesson, they answered intelligibly. They recited the twos of the multiplication-table, and Explained numeral letters and figures on slates.
Another teacher in the adjoining district, a graduate of Harvard, and the son of a well-known Unitarian clergyman, of Providence, Rhode Island, has two schools, in one of which a class of three pupils were about finishing Ellsworth's First Progressive Reader, and another of seven pupils, had just finished Hillard's Second Primary Reader. Another teacher, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the same island, numbers one hundred pupils in his two schools. He exercises a class in Elocution, requiring the same sentence to be repeated with different tones and inflections, and one could not but remark the excellent imitations.
"In a school at St. Helena Village, where were collected the Edisto refugees, ninety-two pupils were present as I went in. Two ladies were engaged in teaching, assisted by Ned Loyd White, a colored man, who had picked up clandestinely a knowledge of reading, while still a slave. One class of boys and another of girls read in the seventh chapter of St. John, having begun this Gospel, and gone thus far. They stumbled a little on words like 'unrighteousness' and 'circumcision;' otherwise, they got along very well. When the Edisto refugees were brought here, in July, 1862, Ned, who is about forty or forty-five years old, and Uncle Cyrus, a man of seventy, who also could read, gathered one hundred and fifty children into two, schools, and taught them as best they could for five months, until teachers were provided by the societies. Ned has since received a donation from one of the societies, and is now regularly employed on a salary. A woman comes to one of the teachers of this school for instruction in the
evening, after she has put her children to bed. She had become interested in learning by hearing her sister read when she came home from school; and when she asked to be taught, she had learned from this sister the alphabet, and some words of one syllable. Only a small proportion of the adults are, however, learning.
"On the eighth of April, I visited a school on Ladies Island, kept in a small church on the Eustis estate, and by a young woman from Kingston, Massachusetts. She had manifested much persistence in going to this field; went with the first delegation, and still keeps the school which she opened in March, 1862. She taught the pupils their letters. Sixty-six were present on the day of my visit. A class of ten pupils read the story which is found on page eighty-six of Hillard's Second Primary Reader. One girl, Elsie, a full black, and rather ungainly withal, read so rapidly that she had to be checked, the only case of such fast reading that I found. She assisted the teacher by taking the beginners to a corner of the room and exercising them upon an alphabet card, requiring them to give the names of letters taken out of their regular order, which they were expected to repeat after her. One class recited in Eaton's First Lessons in Arithmetic, and two or three scholars, with a rod, pointed, out the States, lakes, and large rivers, on the map of the United States, and also the different continents on the map of the world, as they were called. I saw the teacher of this school, at her residence, late, in the afternoon, giving familiar instruction to some ten boys and girls,--all but
two being under twelve years,--who read the twenty-first chapter of the book of Revelation, and the story of Lazarus, in the eleventh chapter of St. John. Elsie was one of these. Seeing me taking notes, she looked archly at the teacher and whispered, 'He is putting it in the book;' and as Elsie guessed, so I do. The teacher was instructing her pupils in some dates and facts which have had much to do with our history. The questions and answers, in which all the pupils joined, were these:--
"'Where were slaves first brought to this country?'
"'Who brought them?'
"'Who came, the same year, to Plymouth, Massachusetts?'
"'Did they bring slaves?'
"A teacher in Beaufort put those questions, to which answers were given, in a loud tone, by the whole school:--
"'What country do you live in?'
"' What town?'
"'Who is your governor?'
"'Who is your president?'
"'What has he done for you?'
"'He's freed us.'
"There were four schools in the town of Beaufort, all of which I visited, each having an average attendance of from sixty to ninety pupils, and each provided with two teachers. In some of them writing was taught. But it is unnecessary to describe them, as they were very much like the others. There is, besides, at Beaufort an industrial school, which meets two afternoons in a week, and is conducted by a lady from New York, with some dozen ladies to assist her. There were present, the afternoon I visited it, one hundred and thirteen girls, from six to twenty years of age, all plying the needle; some with pieces of patchwork, and others with aprons, pillow-cases, or handkerchiefs.
"Though I have never been on the school-committee, I accepted invitations to address the schools on these visits, and particularly plied the pupils with questions, so as to catch the tone of their minds; and I have rarely heard children answer with more readiness and spirit. We had a dialogue, substantially as follows:--
"'Children, what are you going to do when you grow up?'
"'Going to work, sir.'
"'Cotton and corn, sir.'
"'What are you going to do with the corn?'
"'What are you going to do with the cotton?'
"'What are you going to do with the money you get for it?'
"One boy answered in advance of the rest,--
"'Put it in my pocket, sir.'
"'That won't do. What's better than that.'
"'Buy clothes, sir.'
"'What else will you buy?'
"'What else are you going to do with your money?'
"There was some hesitation at this point. Then the question was put,--
"'What are you going to do Sundays?'
"'Going to meeting.'
"'What are you going to do there?'
"'Going to sing.'
"'Hear the parson.'
"'Who's going to pay him?'
"One boy said, 'Government pays him;' but the rest answered,--
"'We's pays him.'
"'Well, when you grow up, you'll probably get married, as other people do, and you'll have your little children; now, what will you do with them?'
"There was a titter at this question; but the general response came,--
"'Send 'em to school, sir.'
"'Well, who'll pay the teacher?'
"'We's pays him.'
"One who listens to such answers can hardly think that there is any natural incapacity in those children to acquire, with maturity of years, the ideas and habits of good citizens.
"The children are cheerful, and, in most of the schools, well-behaved, except that it is not easy to keep them from whispering and talking. They are joyous, and you can see the boys after school playing the soldier, with corn-stalks for guns. The memory is very susceptible in them, too much so, perhaps, as it is ahead of the reasoning faculty.
"The labor of the season has interrupted attendance on the schools, the parents being desirous of having the children aid them in planting and cultivating their crops, and it not being thought best to allow the teaching to interfere in any way with industrious habits.
"A few freedmen, who had picked up an imperfect knowledge of reading, have assisted our teachers, though a want of proper training materially detracts from their usefulness in this respect. Ned and Uncle Cyrus have already been mentioned. The latter, a man of earnest piety, has died since my visit. Anthony kept four schools on Hilton Head Island, last summer and autumn, being paid at first by the superintendents, and afterward by the negroes themselves; but in November he enlisted in the negro regiment. Hettie was another of these. She assisted Barnard at Edisto last spring, and continued to teach after the Edisto people were brought to St. Helena village, and one day brought
some of her pupils to the school at the Baptist Church, saying to the teachers there that she could carry them no farther. They could read their letters and words of one syllable. Hettie had belonged to a planter on Wadmelaw Island, a kind old gentleman, a native of Rhode Island, and about the only citizen of Charleston, who, when Samuel Roar went on his mission to South Carolina, stood up boldly for his official and personal protection. Hettir had been taught to read by his daughter; and let this be remembered to the honor of this young woman.
"Such are the general features of the school as they met my eye. The most advanced classes, and these are but little ahead of the rest, can read simple stories and the plainer passages of Scripture; and they could even pursue self-instruction if the schools were to be suspended. The knowledge they have thus gained can never be extirpated. They could read with much profit a newspaper specially prepared for them and adapted to their condition. They are learning that the world is not bounded north by Charleston, south by Savannah, west by Columbia, and east by the sea, with dim visions of New York, on this planet or, some other,--about their conceptions of geography when we found them.
"They are acquiring the knowledge of figures with which to do the business of life. They are singing the songs of freemen. Visit their schools. Remember that a little more than a twelvemonth ago they knew not a letter, and that for generations it has been a crime to teach their race; then contemplate what is now
transpiring, and you have a scene which prophets and sages would have delighted to witness. It will be difficult to find equal progress in an equal period since the morning rays of Christian truth first lighted the hillsides of Judea. I have never looked on St. Peter's, or beheld the glories of art which Michael Angelo has wrought or traced; but to my mind the spectacle of these poor souls struggling in darkness and bewilderment to catch the gleams of the upper and better light, transcends in moral grandeur anything that has ever come from mortal hands."
The writer next speaks of the industry of the negroes, and it fully demonstrates what every sensible writer has said, that the only stimulant needed is remunerative wages, promptly paid, and a comfortable place of residence. In some instances, where the negroes had destroyed the cotton-gins, they have collected the scattered parts and brought them together, and gone to work on the promise of payment for their labor. It was found, on those plantations recently purchased by Northern men, and worked upon the free-labor principle, that there was no difficulty in obtaining hands, and the better the pay, the more the labor accomplished. Under a tropical sun, it is not expected that a man will do as much work as under the bracing climate of the North. On visiting Mr. Philbrick's plantations, he saw fifty persons at work in one field, all belonging to one plantation. This, gentleman had purchased, at the tax-sales, thirteen plantations. He had under cultivation eight hundred and sixteen acres, where four hundred and ninety-nine were under cultivation last year. All
this labor was performed by former slaves, now working for wages.
"The general superintendent of Port Royal Island," said to the writer: "We have to restrain rather than encourage the negroes to take land for cotton."
In several instances negroes showed considerable "capacity to organize labor and apply capital." One was found working a farm of three hundred acres, to do which he had employed a number of hands.
The government have in their employ a number of freedmen erecting twenty-one houses for the Edisto people. The work is going on under the direction of Frank Barnwell, a freedman, having the direction of seventeen journeymen carpenters, all colored men.
This writer next speaks of the "development of manhood." They seem eager to improve their condition in life, to become the owners of land, and to provide their families with the comforts and conveniences of civilized life. On this subject, we have, in the course of this history, given many facts, and made some statements, which the events at Port Royal fully maintain.
We omit a further reference to this article for the reason that many incidents of a similar kind have already been referred to in the preceding chapters. The rapid progress toward civilization, which this race is now making in our midst, no unprejudiced person can deny, or remain for a long time in ignorance.
What the life of Lunsford Lane demonstrates, under less favorable circumstances, is being daily demonstrated by the thousands who have been emancipated by the military necessities of the war.
But whether our military necessities require a proclamation of emancipation or not, no human power can turn back the revolution begun. No Christian man can close his eyes to the very grave responsibilities resting upon this and the succeeding generation.
Over three million human beings have already passed through the first stage of advancement to manhood, and a capacity for freedom and the rights and blessings which freedom convoys. Shall we aid them kindly in the next great step, or shall we allow our prejudices to push aside or evade the answer to a question which involves the happiness or misery of millions of our fellow-men?