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(title page) HAIR-BREADTH ESCAPES FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM.
The Rev. William Troy, of Windsor, Canada West
ix, 116 p.
Call number E441 T864 (The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio)
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
WILLIAM HOWARD DAY, ESQ., M.A.,
OF CHATHAM, KENT COUNTY, CANADA WEST,
WHOM I REMEMBER IN THE STATE OF OHIO, U.S., AS
ADVOCATE IN THE
LEGISLATIVE CHAMBER OF THE OHIO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OF THE POLITICAL RIGHTS OF
HIS THIRTY THOUSAND PROSCRIBED BRETHREN,
AND TO WHOSE ADVOCACY,
WITH THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS, AND SUSTAINED BY THESE
THE REPEAL OF THE BLACK LAWS OF OHIO WAS DUE,
A SCHOOL SYSTEM FOR SEVEN THOUSAND COLOURED CHILDREN
WHETHER AS MEMBER OF VIGILANCE COMMITTEES AND CONVENTIONS,
AS A SUPERINTENDENT OF THE "UNDERGROUND RAILROAD,"
AS A CO-LABOURER IN CANADA,
AS PRESIDENT OF
THE GENERAL BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE COLOURED PEOPLE,
AS DEPUTY IN GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND,
HAS BEEN FOUND UNWAVERINGLY A FRIEND OF FREEDOM,
AND A DEFENDER OF THE RIGHTS OF HIS RACE,
THIS UNPRETENDING LITTLE VOLUME IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED,
BY HIS ATTACHED FRIEND,
I PRESUME it is right that prefaces should be written, though it is hard to say why, as they are very seldom read. Their chance of being perused is still more diminished when they are written in connection with any stirring narrative which is sure to interest the mind and touch the heart. Just in proportion to the interest of the book itself, is the preface liable to be overlooked. Such an appendage to a volume like this, therefore, is indeed a superfluity; for who would care to postpone the melancholy excitement of listening to this piercing cry from the land of the slave, for the sake of a tantalising, and, possibly, irrelevant introduction?
The only object to be served by these preliminary lines, will be to use them as a means
of making the author of this thrilling narrative better known personally to his readers this side the ocean. For, though the book itself is professedly an autobiography, there are some few circumstances which a man cannot relate so easily of himself as a friend can relate for him.
Of Mr. Troy's mental qualities, and his graphic powers, I need say nothing, as both speak out in the narrative he has written. But of his sterling attributes of heart, those only who know him intimately can form a true idea. A real man and a finished gentleman, the author of this little book stands forth as another living contradiction of the doctrine which disparages the African as gifted with inferior intellect and possessed of baser feelings than the European; and he shows that colour is no barrier to the attainment of high culture and scholarship, and no hindrance to the possession of a delicately attuned emotion. If I were to say more, I might be betrayed into the exaggerations,
which the partiality of a strong admirer and an attached friend can hardly suppress, and I must, therefore, leave Mr. Troy's book to speak for him as well as for itself.
It needs but a small spark to kindle the magazine of British indignation against the American slave system, and many such sparks will be found in this book. We are told that some men have hearts of stone--there is hope of fire being struck even from them when the iron of the captive's fetters rings against them. But it is not merely the passing sigh of a regretful sympathy that this little volume seeks to evoke. It would fain give to that sigh an articulate sound, and direct it in earnest prayer before the throne of Him "who hath made of one blood all nations of men to inhabit the earth"--on behalf of the slave.
Even while the cry of the philanthropist and the Christian unite in the appeal "How long, O Lord, how long?"--the stirring among the
States in the Far West seems to whisper an anticipative answer, and wake the pulse of hope and of expectancy. The chains seem to hang more loosely round the bondsman's limb, and through the tears of his captivity he may see the colours of the rainbow of a distant hope. That Iris shall show its colours yet more plainly, and its bow shall span the sky with bolder arch, if the supplications of the Christian church are poured forth in earnest. There's many a pious captive lifting the voice of prayer out of the hell of slavery--and just as the rainbow glows upon the spray of the Niagara, as it rises like a breath out of the abyss, so shall its hopeful tint be flung upon the incense of his prayer, as it flows out of the dark gulf of his enthralment. The churches in the abolition States continue to aid the work, while from the frontiers of Canada, in many a little hut, and from many a sanctuary, the same aspiration constantly ascends. At Windsor, where our author labours, there
are brothers weeping for their sisters still in chains; and husbands praying for wives and children yet beneath the brutalising lash. We all dread war; we all hate bloodshed. But, while we pray for its prevention in the good providence of God, we dare not ask that the sword may be sheathed, if the cause of emancipation shall be thereby compromised; but if human liberty is to be bought with blood alone, then shame on him who deprecates the struggle, or who stifles the cry of "Arm, arm, ye brave!" and "God defend the right!"
May this little book prove a power to add another blow to drive home the wedge of abolition, till it splits the trunk of slavery asunder, is the heart's prayer of
ARTHUR MURSELL.Manchester, February 4th, 1861,
HAVING been requested by many of my friends in this country to write a short sketch of my life, I now proceed to do so.
I was born in the county of Essex, in the State of Virginia, United States, March 10th, 1827. My mother was a free person of colour. Her mother was an English-woman. My mother had a legal right to her freedom, even in the United States of America, by the law which declares that all children shall follow the condition of the mother. My liberty was, therefore, secured through my mother's liberty.
My mother's father was a person of colour; therefore she was denied the privilege of education by the laws of Virginia. It may be well for me to give an abstract of that law: "Code of 1849.--Every assemblage of negroes for the purpose of instruction in reading or writing shall be an unlawful assembly. Any justice may issue his warrant to any officer or other person, requiring him to
enter any place where such assemblage may be, and seize any negro therein, and he or any other justice may order such negro to be punished with stripes. If a white person assemble with negroes for the purpose of instructing them to read or write, he shall be confined to gaol not exceeding six months, and fined not exceeding one hundred dollars."--("Code of Virginia," 747-48.) This law operates against all persons of colour, though they might not come under the term "Negro." From the extract, the reader may plainly see that there was no chance, so far as the law of the land was concerned, for my mother to be furnished with an education.
Her mother died when my mother was quite a child, and her father soon after she was born. She was thus left an orphan, and lived with some friends until she arrived at mature years. She then married my father, who at that time was a slave.
My father was the son of his master, and, during a portion of his master's life, his domestic servant. His master died, and left him still a slave, to be, with the rest of the property, divided among several lawful children. When the estate was divided, my father was fortunate enough to fall into the hands of one of the daughters, named Jane. Jane had taken a liking to my father. My father then commenced making boots and shoes, and became a first-class workman. He afterwards hired himself out through a medium which the law required. He was then living upon a plantation called Hunter's Hill,
He afterwards moved to a village called Loretto, in the same county. There his business in the shoe trade increased rapidly, and he soon acquired sufficient means to purchase his freedom. He did not, however, purchase his freedom just as soon as he was able to do so; for, had he purchased his freedom, he would have been obliged to leave the State,--the law explicitly saying that it is not permitted to a slave to purchase himself, and remain.
My father, however, soon became tired of that sort of life, and paid the value of himself through the hands of my mother. A bill of sale was passed into my mother's hands, thus making him the property of my mother. She, however, soon gave him papers of manumission.
At this period, my eldest brother and myself were quite able to assist in my father's business, which became more extended. My father then tried to take advantage of the law in relation to our going to school, and he made a secret arrangement with some white persons who were related to him through his father. My brother and myself commenced going to school, but it was kept quite secret, because the person who was teaching was exposing himself to the danger of a heavy fine and imprisonment. I well remember being questioned one day, when I was on my way to the secret place for school, by a white man I met, and with whom I was acquainted. He wanted to know where I was going. I told him, only a short distance. He was not satisfied with this reply, and asked again, "Where are you going?" My reply was, "I am
going down this road." My books were out of sight, for I was obliged to hide them at all times, for fear some white person might by them find us out. I went on to my secret school with tears in my eyes. Thus I passed through painful ordeals, and obtained the best part of my education in this way. I never shall forget the gratitude due to those kind friends and relatives who taught me.
I was now about twelve years of age, and I began to think about my spiritual condition. My mother had made us all a subject of daily prayer, and beside she often told us of God and his goodness, to all which I paid the deepest attention. From these early impressions I was induced to "seek the Lord while He might be found," and to "call upon Him while He was near;" and in the month of June, 1843, I entertained a hope of having been converted to the Lord. This was evinced to me by a remarkable change which I shall never forget. My joy was unspeakable and full of glory. I was truly prepared to say I loved all God's creatures. I felt at the same time that I wanted to bring all to Christ, that they might taste His love. I felt that I could not do enough to praise His matchless name. I ran to my dear mother, and hung around her neck, and tried to tell her what I felt of this Saviour's love; and we praised God together.
I united with the Baptist Church, and was baptised by the Rev. William Baynaham. I had been a regular attendant upon the Episcopal Church from my earliest recollection. I attended the Baptist Church, with which
I had united, as often as I could do so, but was much inconvenienced by living far away. I now began to take greater pleasure in reading the Word of God, that I might be properly instructed of Him who giveth wisdom "to all men liberally, and upbraided not." At the same time I became more dissatisfied with regard to my own condition in the church, and the condition of many others who were worse off than myself. It was true that I was a member of the church in name, but in reality I was no more so than a horse or a mule. This arose from that public opinion so general in the American church, as well as in the State laws, that coloured persons are second even to their dogs in some respects. I became very restless from seeing this feeling steadily increase. Besides, the white members had every advantage of me in point of law, and however much a member they might say I was, or however Christian they might profess to be, it was not my privilege, even in the church, to contradict any statement made by them, however false it might be. In the administration of the Lord's Supper, I was obliged to keep in close quarters until all the white members were served, and then I was waited upon. When I went into the chapel, however early, even if a hundred seats were empty, I could not occupy one of them, because there was a place in the gallery which would hold thirty or forty persons, and devoted to the use of coloured people. These seats were usually filled up by gentlemen's domestic slaves. I began to think it would be
better for me to leave that country or State, that I might get rid of some of this proscription.
I had now become a young man, and the more I thought, the worse all this appeared, so that every day of my life brought new trials. I knew that I was exposed to a thousand insults from the lowest white man, and resentment upon my part would only bring upon me the vengeance of the State. I felt that I was in the midst of devouring human wolves, though among professed Christians. Though still in the land of my nativity, I was made a stranger. The law of the country knew me as a thing,--the church knew me in the same way. I saw my fellow-countrymen sold out of the church to which I belonged. I saw masters scourge their brother members in the same church, both professedly members of Christ's body. The pastor sold one after another of his flock. The deacons bought and sold slaves. Sermons were preached to justify these wicked deeds. I was made to keep silent; I heard, but I condemned them in my heart. Several slaves ran away from their masters; they were, without delay, excluded for the offence. I concluded I had much better remain at home than to go to chapel, for when I went it only rekindled my hate and fired my temper. Finally, I resolved to leave the State, and after being married I did so.
A letter of dismission was granted to show my membership and good standing, as the document expressed it. On the 11th of March, 1848, I left the State and went to
what was called "The Far West." I took up my residence in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, where I united with the Zion Baptist Church of that city. It differed very widely from the apology for a church which I had left. It was composed mostly of coloured members, and, as was very proper, refused to accept my letter which I brought from Virginia, saying that they could not accept letters from slave-holding churches. I was accepted, however, upon profession of my faith in Christ, and upon relating my Christian experience. I am thankful to be able to say I very much enjoyed the society of my brethren in this church. I gained there many warm-hearted friends, whose prayers, I believe, I still have for my prosperity.
At this late hour in life, I again began my schooling, under the Rev. William Henry Brisbane, M.D. He is a well known anti-slavery friend, who had attested his sincerity by liberating his own slaves. The Rev. Mr. Brisbane was very kind to me. In the church, I began to make myself as useful as I could, and was greatly encouraged in my work by the Rev. Wallace Shelton, my pastor. He took the greatest pains to instruct me upon theological points, as did also the Rev. Mr. Brisbane, my literary teacher.
I now began to preach, after obtaining license to do so, according to the rule of the church of which I was a member. Three years after, I was set apart for the work of the ministry, which I am still pursuing. I afterwards went to Canada, and became the pastor of the Baptist
Church in the town of Amherstburgh, where I continued for three years. I then went to the town of Windsor, my present home, where I have a congregation composed chiefly of fugitive slaves. I rejoice to be able to say that God has added his blessing to my labours in Windsor and the region adjoining; and I pray that I may be of even greater service to the people for whom I am labouring. "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."
Windsor is a town of three thousand inhabitants. Of these, eight hundred are coloured settlers from various portions of the Southern States of America. The town of Sandwich nearly joins Windsor; and it is thought that they will eventually be one place. In Sandwich there are about five hundred fugitive slaves. Adjacent to both these towns there are large numbers of fugitives, mostly engaged in farming. There are a few mechanics among them,--such as carpenters and joiners, bricklayers, masons, plasterers, and boot and shoe makers. In the settlements which I have visited there is every appearance of industry. Indeed, I look forward to the not far distant day when much, very much, will there be realised from moral and intellectual enterprises.
The coloured people in this part of Canada have had, and still have, much to contend with from the prejudices of the white people, which may be considered as the result of the influence of their contact with Yankees. The prejudice
is being removed slowly, but is being removed: it is not as strong as it has been. Yet it is very powerful. Its being lessened at all may be attributed to the acquisition of education and real estate upon the part of many of the coloured people who have been settled there for a few years. Wherever we find the English and Scotch element predominant, the prejudice against colour is very much less. I am neighbour to several Scotch people, and I may say I have reason to feel proud of them, and of the British principle which their lives exemplify. This British principle must prevail before Canada will be what she ought to be,--really a British colony: and its instatement in the heart of the people of America will be to the half free and the enslaved the forerunner of that justice which has been so long delayed. May I not, in conclusion, earnestly ask your co-operation in the great work to be done, even in our own colonies? Co-operation in behalf of slavery's bleeding victims, whose broken hearts need to be bound, and whose steps should be turned into the way of eternal life: a co-operation to be continued
"Till slavery, banished from the world,
And tyrants from their power hurled,
And all mankind from bondage free,
Exult in glorious liberty!"
W. T.Manchester, England, Jan. 28th, 1861.
Graves, Sanford's master, was a man of great passion, and threatened to flog him; but at the time set apart for the infliction of the punishment, Sanford and his wife (who lived on the same plantation) were missing. The master suspected them of trying to escape to some free State, and, as the State of Ohio was the nearest of any, thought they had gone thither; so he hastened to the city of Cincinnati, in Ohio, as the surest way to overtake the runaways. On reaching that city, he was informed that some runaway slaves had passed through, but the route they had taken could not be discovered. Graves, the master, therefore contented himself with offering a large reward for the apprehension of his walking property, and returned to his home.
In the course of three weeks, some of the slave-catchers in the State of Ohio found out where Sanford and his wife were stopping in that State, which proved to be in the neighbourhood of Dayton, about forty miles from the city of Cincinnati. Graves, the master, was immediately
informed of this, and a company of men went to the spot and arrested the runaways. The party without delay proceeded towards the office of the magistrate or "squire," to go through the forms of a mock-trial. While on the road, some of the friends of freedom interposed, and Sanford, emboldened by this kind act of his friends, swore, by all that was good and bad, that he would not go back to slavery. I can account for his swearing and cursing only upon the supposition that he was intensely excited; for before he left Kentucky he belonged to the Baptist Church, and seemed to be a consistent member of it. But the friends of freedom succeeded in rescuing Sanford from the hands of his oppressors, and he and his poor wife were borne off amid shouts of "Hurrah for freedom."
The affrighted slaves were soon landed in the town of Amherstburgh, Canada West, where they are living in the sweet enjoyment of freedom. They are members of the Baptist Church of that town, are devoted Christians, and respected by all who know them.
Sanford, although far away from his so-called master, seems to entertain fears of being taken back to slavery. In fact, the old man is rather superstitious, and often says he believes that the slaveholders have some sort of charms by which they can make a slave follow them, if they can once get near enough for the charms to operate. Since Sanford has been living in Canada, Graves, his old master, came to Amherstburgh. The news of his coming
reached Sanford's ears, and that night he refused to stop in his own house for fear he might see his old master: thinking, superstitiously, that by the power of the master's charms he would be constrained to return to slavery. Liberty was too sweet for him to put it in the remotest degree in danger. I have talked with Sanford upon the subject of his superstition, and he will still persist that Graves, his master, is a "conjurer." Therefore, he did not wish to see him again. I once made conjuration the subject of a discourse, and laboured very hard to show, by simple reasoning, that conjuration is only a delusion of the human mind; but my sermon failed to remove the deep-rooted superstition. Sanford said to me, when I had concluded my subject, "Brother Troy, I believe you to be a good man, and I can believe you upon any other subject; but I have seen so much of the slaveholders, that I believe they can do anything they wish when they come near to you. But, if I am wrong in this, I hope the Lord will pardon me and make me to know better. I believe He is a good and merciful God, and I try to serve Him the best way I know. That is all He requires according to my understanding."
Sanford is now about sixty-five years of age, but, as might have been anticipated, you still see the debasing marks of slavery upon his person. He is not able to read a word, and must go down to his grave without the knowledge of letters. All this is the result of slavery in that so-called land of freedom. No wonder that the
African is represented as dreaming of his native land, in the spirit of the following verse:--
"Africa comes to my dreams at night!
I hate this bad land, where the lash we have known;
Where the woman shrieks as she's cut to the bone;
And where the wind sighs to the coloured man's groan:
Then Africa comes to my dreams so bright."*
In the year 1838 a noble attempt at escape from slavery in North Carolina was made by a dark mulatto named Elisha Valentine.
Valentine's master was what is denominated a good master, though I doubt very much the goodness of persons who will hold a man in bondage, and force him to toil from morning until night without any compensation. But for the time being we will accept the term, and will ask you to notice well the causes of the attempt to escape.
The overseer employed by Valentine's master was a man who said he hated all mulattoes. To gratify this hate, he determined to give Valentine a flogging. Early one morning, as Valentine was going to the stable to feed the horses, the overseer, as a pretext, accused Valentine of being late; but to this accusation Valentine made no reply, but hurried to the field and commenced ploughing as usual. The overseer came near, and said, "All
mulattoes are insolent." No reply was made to this, Valentine quietly following his plough in the furrow. The overseer then followed Valentine to the end of the next row; at this point the overseer again accosted him with the information that he must now stop, as he meant to give him a trouncing. The order to stop was not obeyed, and the overseer immediately seized Valentine by the hair of his head, and commenced pulling it out by handsful. This caused Valentine to strike the enraged overseer, who immediately called the rest of the field hands to come and help to tie Valentine. They came; but Valentine had fled to the forest for protection. He lived in the forest for several months, coming to the plantation whenever he could make it convenient so to do, without being noticed. Of course these visits were made only during the quiet hours of the night. This being autumn, Valentine began to think of the snows of the coming winter, when he would be compelled to be exposed to the cold. But he could not think of returning home to be punished for striking the overseer, and to receive a double portion for being an idler for four months. He had learned from fellow-slaves that on this latter account especially his master's wrath was up, and Valentine concluded to go northward in search of Canada. His greatest dread was the distance--eight hundred miles--and no knowledge of the geography of the country. He, however, started off, first securing a bridle from the stable, as a ready proof that he was hunting a horse, and as a quiet
answer to impertinent inquirers. As he was to take the open road, he thought it quite likely that he would be arrested by some of the slave-catchers of that horrid land, and that it would be wise to prepare for the coming evil. As he proceeded, his courage became more strong, especially as he felt it more and more a risk to remain in the forest. The first day he travelled thirty-five miles towards the north. He met several persons who asked him where he was going. But his reply was always ready,--that he was looking for a stray horse. With this pretence he reached the State of Virginia, having lived all the way upon roasted Indian corn and potatoes, which he found in the fields, and which he thought it his privilege to take. Just three months from the time of his flight from the plantation, he found himself in the mountains of Virginia, surrounded with snow and ice. The corn had now been gathered, and the potatoes all housed, and as he was now far away from his former home, he determined to try a new plan to sustain life and keep himself from freezing to death. He determined to offer himself as a free man to work for wages; he found a man ready to employ him--a man who really believed Valentine was free. He worked in this way until April, when with the wages, which were honourably paid him, he was able to make his way to Ohio, the nearest free State. Valentine, knowing that Ohio is a free State, felt a little safer, but not fully content; and fearing that he might by some mishap be again reduced to bondage, made his way across
Ohio to Lake Eric, and across Lake Eric to Canada, the real "home of the free."
Valentine settled in Amherstburgh. Here, having made good his escape, and out of the reach of the overseer and the master who once claimed his body as his own--he began to understand that he had a right to lay plans for his own benefit, and without fear. He determined to follow the occupation of a cook. In this occupation he was employed for two or three years upon the Lake steamers and other craft, and at times in hotels. The great mercies of God he still remembered, and finally resolved to become a Christian man. Converted to Christ's holy religion, he united with the church in the town before mentioned, where I had the pleasure of becoming his pastor. At that time he was a deacon of the church. He is now married, his wife being also an escaped slave from the State of Kentucky. I may here say, to the credit of Mr. Valentine and his wife, that they would be an honour to any community. They are known as an industrious and highly respected family. I lived near them during my residence in that town, and I can say I have never seen a more lady-like personage than Mrs. Valentine; and her husaand is a perfect gentleman, and a most devoted Christian.
I have often heard it said upon the part of the enemies of our race, that they are disposed to be idle and worthless. I would like to point such to Mr. and Mrs. Valentine,--for they are the superiors of any who would
even insinuate the charge of laziness or any natural inferiority. May the whole earth be blessed with such specimens of humanity and Christian virtue as are Mr. and Mrs. Valentine!
God speed the day when the throat of slavery may be cut, and I may hear the life-blood dropping from its palsied side,--for there are many more hearts beneath the dusky skin of the sable sons of Africa that would develop themselves in usefulness if they could only have the chance.
May we not say to those who have wronged us--
"Bloody hands our fathers tore
From their homes and kindred dear;
Captives made in treach'rous war,
Sold to chains and bondage here.
Afric, we can ne'er be free,
Till our feet return to thee."*
James Smith, an escaped slave from Western Virginia, is a man who would be taken for a thorough Anglo-Saxon. Yet, as it was known by those who held him in bondage that he had a little of the African blood flowing in his veins, by the law regulating the system of slavery, he was a slave, to all intents and purposes. Smith, however, felt that he was a man, created by the one and the same God in common with other men; and that there was no good reason for submitting to cruelties which were imposed upon him simply because he was a slave. He left his master's plantation, and travelled to Pittsburgh, in the State of Pennsylvania, as a white man; no one molesting him at any point of the journey, because no one would have thought of charging him with being a slave. He contented himself in this growing city for a few years, and, in attendance upon the preaching in the Methodist Church, became acquainted with a young lady of colour, who before long became his wife. This young lady knew
nothing of his former condition as a slave; of course her surprise can well be imagined when, after the passing of the Fugitive Slave Law, in 1850, slave-catchers filled the city and among them some claiming him. They had the power under this inhuman law to seize any slave in any portion of the territory or State where such slave might be found. Pittsburgh was a place noted for anti-slavery feeling, and as a sort of asylum for hundreds of those who had escaped from various parts of the Southern States. When Smith found that his master was on the look out for him, he informed his devoted wife of his distress. Of course, this caused much pain and anxiety of mind, as Pittsburgh was no longer a place of safety for him, or any other person in similar circumstances. Canada was now the only place in the broad country where he could rest in any degree of safety, and he and his wife started for this much desired land of freedom. In thirty hours from the time they left Pittsburgh they landed safe at Fort Malden, at the mouth of the Detroit river. For the first time in all his life Smith put his foot upon free soil, and was hailed with a hearty welcome by some of those brethren who had taken shelter there for many years under the "Union Jack."
At this time, Smith and his wife were in very humble circumstances, and depended upon their daily labour for their bread. Smith soon found work in Sloan's stone-quarry, near his home. For some months he averaged from three to four shillings per day. His wife remained
at home, doing what she could with her needle to earn an honest living. In a short time they had acquired several pounds, which they thought they could expend to advantage in purchasing a few groceries. They began a small shop with Indian corn, meal, flour, coffee, tea, sugar, &c. They were very obliging to the few customers they had gained. The wife had almost the entire management of this shop, while the husband continued to work at the stone-quarry, until, by a decided increase of the business at the shop, it demanded his attention also. Smith now owns one of the best grocery shops in the town of Amherstburgh. He and his wife are members in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the same town. They are highly respected, as they deserve to be. They can now worship God, night or day, without the fear of the slaveholder intruding upon the rights they have found so sacredly protected by British law.
The fugitives in Amherstburgh have a society for the relief of those who are continually coming in from slavery. This society is called "The True Band Society." Smith is one of the board of directors of this institution, and does his part manfully.
I am glad to say, from personal knowledge, that this society has been the means of relieving many very destitute cases. I may mention one case in particular. A man by the name of Blackburn, an escaped slave from the State of Tennessee, was six months in making his way to Canada. Being winter, he suffered much from the intense
cold. He was frosted in both legs up to his knees. He was brought to Amherstburgh, and left in the care of the society. The board of directors paid every attention to him, and employed a physician to give such prescriptions as might restore the man to his wonted health. Blackburn at this time was entirely helpless. I speak as an eye-witness. I have often visited the house where he lodged, to talk and pray with the deeply-afflicted and distressed man. In twelve months Blackburn recovered, and was able to go to his work to secure a livelihood. He is now quite capable of doing this.
I have often been asked, since I have been in this country, if the fugitives in Canada show any attachment to each other, by helping those who are seen to be in distressed circumstances. To their credit, I must say that there is very great interest shown upon their part, to relieve their brethren from want. This I am fully prepared to prove by hundreds of instances. I have often wished that I could have the pleasure of seeing some of my English friends among them, that they might witness for themselves those features of kindheartedness to all persons, irrespective of race or country. As to my own part, I never knew what it was to make any distinction between man and man: and although I have been wickedly oppressed in my native country, I have never in any way tried to avenge myself, although I could have done so without being detected. I do not hate any man in the world; neither would I injure any one, except I was called
to do so in defence of my own liberty and the liberty of my wife and my children. There are some other circumstances under which I might be led to use physical force, but those I pass by, hoping I may never have to lift my hand against my fellow-man. I want to live in peace "with all men," as "much as lieth in me." Oh! when will that spirit which was found in Christ become the spirit of all nations? When will that old song be repeated--"Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace: good-will towards men."
Cradle of our tortured race;
Sunny land of Africa,
How we long to see thy face!
Never will thy sons be free,
Till our hearts shall beat in thee."*
Four years ago, this man, Johnson, feeling that his master and he had better be apart--as they could not live together on terms of peace--sought an opportunity to escape. The plan he adopted was an old one, well known to the friends of the slave in that quarter. His own case could be managed very well; but his wife being a domestic in the house of his master, he was puzzled to adopt some plan more likely to be successful. This was under consideration for four weeks. Finally, Johnson bethought himself of a well-known laundress, who had been in the habit of taking her washed clothes across the river in a wagon, called an "Express" in many portions of America. The time was agreed upon between Johnson and his wife and the third party,--and early one morning, a large clothes basket was provided, and a layer of clothes put at the bottom of the basket. The next article to be packed was Johnson's wife. She stretched herself as level as she could, and the remainder of the laundress's clothes were packed around and upon her. The basket
and its valuable contents were put into the express wagon, and driven off to the ferry. The wagon was permitted to pass without the ferryman paying any attention to the basket and its special charge. The boat soon crossed to the opposite shore. The wagon was taken a short distance in the country, near a railway station. The basket was then disencumbered of the woman. Being now in a so-called free State, they could travel, for the time being, without fear of detection. It was now about ten o'clock in the day; they both took the train for the city of Detroit, and before it was known that they had left the city of their former residence, they were both safely landed in Windsor, Canada West, where they now live.
Johnson is now a deacon of my congregation, and his wife a member. They often pray for their brethren who are in bonds. May God aid all such as may make the attempt to secure freedom, and open a thousand roads on every plantation, so that no obstruction may be put in the way of the flying bondman. From Johnson's section of country we have had large supplies of fugitives coming to us weekly. The friends of the Underground Railway seem to play their part well in that line of business. M----, as a State, is largely represented in many portions of Canada, and especially upon the banks of the Detroit river at Windsor. This is the spot to which the most of the slaves come from many of the Southern States. We are now trying to complete a chapel, which it is expected will seat a thousand persons; a large schoolroom
is also in connection with this chapel. I am the pastor of the congregation which is to worship there. We commenced this building a little more than two years ago; after raising about one hundred pounds amongst ourselves, the friends in this country have kindly contributed to the object of my mission. God willing, I will return to my charge and dear family the ensuing spring.
I may state for the encouragement of the friends of freedom in this country, that the coloured people in our vicinity are progressing. It is true, however, that we have a great amount of prejudice to contend with, in that part of Canada. So much so, that our children are not permitted to attend the common schools with the white children of that town; yet we are taxed for school purposes. My own children were turned out of the common school at Windsor. One of the trustees gave orders that the teacher should not allow them to recite their lessons. I continued to send them for several days, until my eldest daughter complained to me so bitterly that I told them both that they might cease going to the school-house. I called to see the trustee who had thus prevented the instruction of my children: he is a Scotchman, by the name of Bartlett. His excuse was that others complained: he was quite willing that my children should attend school with his. I told him what I thought of the whole matter. I suppose my manner of expression was harsh: if it was not, I confess I felt as if it ought to be harsh. It is not that I think, for one moment, that it would be an honour for
my children to be associated with these Windsor children: I am not so badly off for honour as to be driven to seek it from that quarter. It was said at the time of this disturbance that if the coloured and white children were allowed to go to school together, the white children would, according to the natural order of things, marry among some of the coloured families. I may here state for myself, on this point, that I do not think I would be any better off for my daughter to marry any one connected with that school; and it would not be likely to happen if I had anything to say in reference to it. As to my son, who is about seven years of age, I am not very anxious that he should go to school to get a wife; and I hope to whatever school he may go, he may have the proper judgment to make a choice of the proper sort of person, whether the colour be white or black,--as I believe the whole matter depends upon quality and taste in the party seeking such fortunes. So far as my own teaching is concerned, I will always tell them to study the matter well, and never marry a duck to get her feathers, or a goose to get her brains. I wish to be guided by principle and not by prejudice,--by a regard for worth rather than by a respect for the accident of the length of the hair, the shape of the nose, or the hue of the skin.
"Skins may differ--but affection
Dwells in white and black the same."
Reuben was a slave belonging to R. Baylor, of Essex county, State of Virginia. Reuben was a member of the Enon Baptist Church, and acted as deacon amongst the coloured members. He was also regarded as a minister by his coloured brethren. He was a man of a little education, and on that account would sometimes venture to take a text in preaching, though it is positively against the law in that State for any coloured person, free or slave, to make use of a text. However, this point of offence was not noticed in his case. He was successful in his mode of preaching, and God blessed those simple efforts to the conversion of many souls. He frequently visited my father's home in the village of Loretto, where they consulted together as brethren bound to the same great cause of humanity. He often expressed to my father a desire to be free, and spoke of his determination to be free at some period not far distant. He was a blacksmith by trade, and lived some distance from his master's dwelling. This gave him an opportunity of
calling on my father oftener. In the month of May, in the year 1845, Reuben made up his mind to leave for the North, having obtained some person's free papers, as a protection against any arrest. He crossed the Rappahannock River, then the Potomac, and made his way to the capital of the United States, the great city of Washington. On arriving there he was suspected, and in spite of every exertion to save himself. His papers being examined were declared false, because his height and colour did not agree with the description. The papers issued by the courts of the States are very particular in their description. The poor fellow was taken to prison. By this time notice had arrived at Washington, speaking of the escape of such a person from one Richard Baylor, in the county of Essex, and offering a large reward for the slave's apprehension. His master soon received intelligence of the arrest made in Washington, and immediately sent his overseer for Reuben. Reuben was then taken to the slave pen in the city of Richmond, where he was kept for some months training for the auction block. He was finally sold to a slave dealer in the State of Louisiana. Such was the fate of poor Reuben. May God smile upon him in his sufferings! The body is enslaved, but the soul of Reuben can never be chained. I have often thought of him, and prayed that the God of all peace may yet open a way for his escape.
The church to which Reuben and myself belonged now
took up the case of a violation of God's law upon the part of Reuben, by running away. The Rev. Wm. Baynaham was the pastor. We assembled in church-meeting on Sunday to deal with the case (as the reverend gentleman said) according to Scripture. He first preached a sermon from this text:--"Godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Tim., vi. 6. From this text this divine brought out all that handcuffed gospel which is so prevalent in the slave-holding churches of America. His object was to show the inconsistency of discontentment; proving by his peculiar tact of reasoning that slaves should be contented, knowing that it is the Lord's will that they should be the slaves of white men. Being a member of this church, I concluded to leave it, and seek a home in some place better suited to my feelings and opinions with regard to the system of slavery. The sermon being concluded, the case of Reuben was introduced as one worthy of the strictest discipline. After remarks by the minister, who was the moderator, it was moved by one of the slaves, a fellow deacon to Reuben that Reuben be expelled for running away. The motion was seconded by another of the same class of deacons. It was then put to vote by the moderator. I did not know what to do about voting, for it was dangerous not to vote; and I could not see, notwithstanding the sermon, that Reuben had done anything justifying his exclusion. I well knew if I refused to vote for Reuben's exclusion that it would at once settle the point that I sympathised with
the accused. I therefore concluded I would be neutral. The motion being put, nearly all present lifted their hands in favour of exclusion--all, I may say, except my friend, Mr. Reeves, and myself. We did not vote either way. The reverend gentleman then said,--"Reuben is no longer a member of this church." He added,--"It will be a lesson for others who might be guilty of such offences." He then called upon one of the deacons to sing a hymn. That old, familiar one was sung:--
"Jerusalem! my happy home,
Oh! how I long for thee!--
When will my sorrows have an end?--
Thy joys when shall I see?"--etc.
The meeting was concluded by this hymn, and the benediction.
This subject was called in question by some of those even who had voted for Reuben's exclusion. They said they thought Reuben did right in trying to get free, but that they were afraid to vote against his exclusion. You, who have not been in a situation like this, may perhaps say you would have been decided in this matter. But let me say to such, if you had lived in a slave State as long as I have, and had known what it was to see men tarred and feathered,--and if you had realised that most likely you would undergo the same torture, even if you were to make a sign in favour of liberty, you would have acted as they acted. Read the following, to convince
yourself of the chance such a person would have in a slave State:--
"Whosoever shall make use of language in any public discourse from the bar, the bench, the stage, the pulpit, or in any place whatsoever; or whoever shall make use of language in private discourses or conversations, or shall make use of signs or actions having a tendency to produce discontent among the free coloured population of this State, or to excite insubordination among the slaves; or whosoever shall knowingly be instrumental in bringing into this State any paper, pamphlet, or book, having such tendency as aforesaid, shall, on conviction thereof, before any court of competent jurisdiction, suffer imprisonment at hard labour not less than three years, nor more than twenty-one years; or death, at the discretion of the court."--Revised Statutes of Louisiana.
This is the law which surrounds any who may attempt to carry out the great principle of human freedom. This is the law which must be executed under the stars and stripes. The Lord deliver me from such a country, where so little estimate is put on human life, and where the liberty of a man's conscience is locked in by law! I cannot pray for the continuance of any such government; I do not care how soon it falls. The sooner the better for the oppressed.
"Woe unto them that decrees unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed."--Isaiah, x. 1.
In the year 1829, Hopkins was a slave in the above-named State. His master was what slaves call a bad man. It was the custom of the overseer to blow the horn which was used to summon the people of the farm to their work, and those who did not appear at the time appointed, were flogged by "bucking." This was done by tying their hands and feet, and bringing the arms over the knees, and shoving a strong stick between the arms and the knees, thus rendering the slave entirely helpless, leaving him only to roll from side to side.
One morning, Hopkins found himself rather late, and he knew according to custom he would have to be "bucked." Instead of going to the field, where the hands were at work, he went into the forest, until he could make some inquiry as to the state of things in reference to himself. He learned from some of the slaves that the overseer had asked for him, and had said he should be
* A paddle is an instrument made of wood, and full of holes, which with every blow raises blisters.
having reference to the mode of "bucking" which I have described. Hopkins thought it would be best for him to leave the State, if possible. This could not be accomplished without great trouble and privation. His aim was to get into the State of Virginia, which was but a short distance. He crossed the Blueridge Mountains in Western Virginia, living upon apples, chesnuts, and Indian corn. He came to a place called Harper's Ferry, and crossed the river at that point; he thus reached the State of Maryland. There were many wild Indians then living in that portion of the State. Hopkins fell in with a tribe that seemed to regard him as a brother, and treated him as such.
* A paddle is an instrument made of wood, and full of holes, which with every blow raises blisters.
The only thing which Hopkins could not get along with among the Indians was, that they would serve up dog for dinner. The first intimation given Hopkins that his tribe ate dog, was on one wintry day when he had been out hunting, and had returned to the wigwam. There was cooked a large quantity of peas, and, apparently, a joint of mutton. He was called, as was the custom, to sit down and eat his dinner. He helped himself very largely to peas, not caring much for the supposed lamb, when one of the Indians expressed surprise that Hopkins should be so fond of peas and so little pleased with dog. However, this love of dog did not break off Hopkins' love for the Indians. They were so kind to him that he
continued with them for three years. At last a disturbance broke out among them, and they were driven by the white people further back into the mountains. This disturbance continued, until Hopkins was forced to leave the tribe lest he should be taken prisoner, and reduced to slavery.
The only hope for Hopkins at this time was to go into Pennsylvania, a free State, and work his way through to Canada; and he started for the Quaker State. On arriving there, he fell in with a farmer, and being without money to travel with, he asked the farmer to give him some work to do. The farmer immediately agreed to give him work for one month, with the understanding that he should receive the sum of eight dollars promptly at the end of the month. On a Saturday morning, at the end of the month, Hopkins, now wishing to leave for Canada, asked the farmer for his wages. The farmer said he would have to go to town before he settled with him. About noon, he went to town, as he said, to get his money changed, that he might pay Hopkins, according to agreement. But Hopkins began to suspect that there was something wrong about the matter, so he watched the farmer as he left the farm, and as the farmer got out of sight, Hopkins left the house, and went out beyond the barn, where he could see any who might come to the house. He buried himself as deep as he well could in a small rick of straw near the barn. He could manage to see all around him. Looking towards the gate out of
which the farmer had gone, he saw eight men in company with this farmer coming towards the house. As they drew near the house, they began to station themselves around, as if fearful some one in the house would escape them. Of course, they expected to find Hopkins in the house; but, behold! he had fled. They inquired of the woman of the house where Hopkins had gone, but she told them she did not know. So they came out of the house, and stood and talked awhile. Said the farmer, "We will go and search the barn." This being agreed to, they went to the barn, and ransacked it from bottom to top, Hopkins all the while hearing what was going on. They came out of the barn, and began to search the straw stacks. They searched all the larger ricks, but did not seem inclined to touch the one where Hopkins lay. They stood and talked again. At last, one of them said, "Did you look in that small rick there?" "Oh, no!" said another; "it's no use to look there." Another chimed in, "Yes, you'd better look, for a nigger can get into a very small place now." Hopkins's heart began to ache; and, as if obeying the counsel given, one of the company ran and jumped on the rick in which Hopkins was hid. He stepped upon Hopkins's body, and Hopkins arose. His sudden rising caused the man to fall, and then the chase began. They cried, "Catch him!" "Catch him!" and they would often be so near as to reach out for him, and just scrape his back with their fingers. But Hopkins succeeded in getting to the forest, after running about
half a mile. He then soon got out of sight of his pursuers. After resting awhile in the woods, he came back to the edge, and saw his pursuers going back towards the house. They soon all left the house, and went out of the gate towards the town.
Hopkins then went back to the house, and said to the farmer's wife, "Your husband has acted very meanly with me. When I came here first, he promised to pay me at the expiration of the month; instead of doing as he had promised, he has betrayed me. You have a ham in this house, and I want it; and all the bread you have is mine, and you are not to say a word against my having it. I also want that bag" (pointing towards it). Hopkins took the ham and all the bread, and putting it into the bag, went back again to the forest. He then made his way into the State of Ohio, and from thence to Canada West, where he now lives in the enjoyment of freedom.
I am well acquainted with Hopkins; he is a farmer, but not one with such principles as the one who betrayed him.
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ deliver the American slave-catchers from the worst of crimes, slave-catching and man-stealing. There is no heaven for such men, without deep repentance upon their part. We can freely join with Hopkins in the song, merely changing a word to suit his case:--
"Pennsylvania's not the place for me,
For I had much surprise,
So many of her sons to see
In garments of disguise.
Her name has gone out through the world,
Free labour, soil, and men;
But slaves had better far be hurled
Into the lion's den.
I am not safe in thee;
I'll travel on to Canada,
Where coloured men are free."
A large family of slaves, called the Monroe Family, lived in Boone county, in the State of Kentucky. This family consisted of a mother and ten daughters and one son, who was a young man. The girls ranged in age from six to nineteen years. The mother was an energetic, determined woman. She and her children were to be sold to the far South. She had but little notice of this, as her master thought it would be best to keep the matter as quiet as possible. Still, the old woman consulted her son upon the subject of escaping to the State of Ohio. The son readily agreed to the mother's proposition, both of them knowing that many difficulties awaited them. It was now the month of October, 1856. They were living forty miles from the Ohio river, which separates the North from the South, and the first desire was to reach that river safely. They waited until a late hour of the night, when each taking a small parcel of clothes, they began their journey. Their parcel was but little trouble
to them, for slaves, as a rule, are not troubled with many changes of raiment. By day-dawn they had travelled the distance of twelve miles, and they found themselves in the dense forest. They remained in the woods until night, when they proceeded towards the Ohio. The young man knew the route to the river, and that made their journey comparatively easy. They were, however, often obliged to turn out of their way into the forest, to avoid meeting persons who were passing. The third night, however, they reached the bank of the Ohio river. They found a small boat, and with it they soon crossed. Arrived on the opposite side of the river, they soon walked up the bank, but were unable to tell which way to go, for they were now strangers in a foreign land. They were now in the neighbourhood of New Richmond, in the State of Ohio. When they came within a mile of the place, the son left the mother and the ten daughters in the forest, and went into the town to communicate the circumstance of their escape to friends of the slave. H. J., a good and tried friend, with T., and others, immediately adopted plans to forward these passengers as soon as possible. Night had again approached, and their plans could be better carried into effect, because, as we often say in America, "night has no eyes." These strangers in the forest were now visited by the company whose initials are given above. In the meantime, the master of the escaped party had now crossed the river and was in search of his flown birds; and a reward of two thousand dollars was
offered for the arrest of the fugitives in any State of the Union. Great excitement now prevailed. Slave-hunters (as they can be easily found in any portion of Ohio) were busily engaged in the anxious search. H. J., and T., and others, kept an eye upon the movements of those who were known to be the enemies of the slave, while the poor slaves were put into a covered wagon with bags of straw, and conveyed to another station. All worked well thus far. They were conveyed from place to place by the so-called "Underground Railway," until they reached a little town in the State of Michigan, called Ann Arbor. The master arrived at this point before them, for he had properly surmised that the slaves would endeavour to reach the city of Detroit in the same State, a city on the bank of the river which is the dividing-line between Canada and the United States. The slaves, finding out that they were being closely pursued, by the advice of their friends, immediately took the railway train direct to Detroit, and in two hours and a half, conducted by their friends, they were on the bank of the Detroit river.
The master, finding that his slaves had left Ann Arbor, followed by the next train. At Detroit the slaves hurried to the ferry and stepped on board the steamboat Argo, which in ten or fifteen minutes sailed for the Canadian shore. The master was that very moment coming in full speed down Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, calling to the captain, "stop!" "stop!" but the call only excited laughter among the few who knew the master's errand. The
woman and her eleven children were thus landed safely on British soil. It was my fortune to meet her soon after she walked off the boat. I asked her several questions in relation to her situation. She said she had no friends except her children, and was deeply affected when she mentioned how narrowly she escaped. Her tears rolled down her cheeks, and literally fell upon the ground. I truly felt for her. The tears of the poor can always work into my heart. I told her to cheer up; that she should be provided for by some means. We soon secured a house where the mother and the children could stop and rest themselves. Food and raiment were provided for them, and the daughters soon obtained employment as domestics. The younger ones were placed in the school. The same winter two of them professed religion, and united with the church in Windsor. One of these has since departed this life, and I am glad to be informed by my friends at home that she died in the faith. I will here give you the language of my eldest daughter in relation to the death of this departed:--
"Windsor, Canada West, Nov. 7th, 1860.
"My Dear Papa,--
"I only write to let you know that poor Georgiana Monroe has departed this life. She wished very much to see you before she died, but this was impossible. It is consoling to know that she died as she lived--a faithful Christian. You know many doubted her sincerity when you baptised her, because she was young as myself; but,
thank the Lord, she left good news behind her, which will ever remain with me and many others. I am thankful to say I yet enjoy a living hope in God. We are all well, and long to see you return home. Mother sends much kind love to you; and Anna, Willie, and Joshua. Write to us soon.
"I am your affectionate daughter,
"FANNY ELLEN TROY."
I rejoice to know that there is such a place as Canada--a place of refuge for thousands more. May I not feel happy to see it is my lot to preach to such, and often to administer to their wants?
"Moses, when by God's great hand,
He had set his Israel free,
Led them from that cursed land,
Stained by cruel slavery,
To their home across the sea--
Afric, so we come to thee."*
Sherman belonged to one of the senators of the United States, of the name of Ward. He was a domestic slave, and, as such, would fare very much better than the class of slaves working in the cotton fields, or than those cultivating rice. Ward bought Sherman some years ago only for domestic purposes. Sherman had lived with Ward long enough to learn that Ward's temper was not the most amiable, and that his master could be very severe. So much had he been tried with his master's temper, that he had several times concluded to leave him, and escape, if possible, to Canada. He was waiting for a more convenient season. After going once to the cities of Baltimore and Washington with his master, he returned to the State of Georgia, their home. One morning, Sherman was ordered to get the horse and "buggy" ready. He obeyed the order promptly, and, as usual, drove the horse up to the gate, ready for his master. His master came out, and, looking closely at the horse, took
out his handkerchief and rubbed it down the horse's sides. He found considerable dirt upon the handkerchief, from seeming neglect upon the part of Sherman. The master took his whip handle, and with it dealt Sherman a severe blow upon the head. Sherman said, "Master, you did not buy me to cuff me about in that way; if so, you must sell me. I can't live with you." To speak to his master in this abrupt and decided manner was the height of insolence upon the part of Sherman. Mr. Ward, however, got into his buggy, and told Sherman, angrily, that he should be attended to in a way to make him know his power as master; that he should give him what he called a decent cowhiding. With this, he drove off, cursing as he went. Sherman went to the house to dress the wound upon his head. He thought of his long-continued effort to please his master in all things; but now he came to the conclusion to try to please himself, by seeking a more comfortable home.
A plan suggested itself to his mind. As he knew how to write, and knew besides the names of gentlemen with whom his master was acquainted, he concluded to write the names of a dozen of these gentlemen upon as many different envelopes, and put a sheet of letter-paper in each. He did this, and then went to the stable and hitched his master's horse to an old "buggy," and started off ostensibly to deliver the letters thus directed. He had some seventy dollars of his own money, which he had been saving for years. He travelled all that day, and at
night came to a small village, and put his horse in a livery stable to be fed, and told the hotel keeper that he was Mr. Ward's slave, and was going to deliver some letters for his master. He showed the letters at the same time, or, I should say, those envelopes with blank sheets inside. Thus far his story passed off very well. The next morning, Sherman made a very early start, travelling towards the State of Tennessee, the distance from his home being two hundred miles or more. When the second night came on, he managed to pass with the same story. The third day he found himself the good distance of one hundred and fifty miles on his road to freedom. He reached a town in which he thought he could contrive a plan to take him out of the State at a faster rate. He put the horse in a livery stable again, and told the hotel keeper that he wished him to keep the horse until he called for him, saying, in addition, that he was to go with the railway train to a certain town which he named. Thus he took the train, which would take him within a few miles of Memphis, Tennessee.
But while on the journey, he noticed a man who seemed to be paying great attention to, and looking at him first, and then at a newspaper in his hands. Fears began to disturb the poor fellow panting for freedom. He put on the best face he could, and his nervous state would allow. But the man seemed to be more intent than ever. And at last he advanced towards our hero, and asked him where he was from? Sherman replied, "I belong to
Mr. Ward, the senator of the State of Georgia, sir, and I am going to deliver this letter to the gentleman whose name you see by this address." "I don't believe you," replied the man; "I believe you are a runaway nigger." "No, sir, I am not; I have just left my master's buggy and horse at the livery, and I shall go back to-morrow to the town" (mentioning the one from which he had just come). The man said, "Here is an advertisement offering a reward for a fellow of your make; you fill the description d--d well." "I am not the person, sir, I assure you." The man replied, "I will watch you when you leave this train, and if I catch you in a lie I will shoot you, d--n me if I don't." "Well, sir, you may watch me, and you will see that what I am telling you is true."
How to escape the man Sherman could not devise. The train was going at full speed, and of course he could not jump off; and the next station was the very place where he had told the man he was going to deliver the letter. Another matter troubled him: the gentleman to whom the letter was addressed would know at once that the letter was not addressed by Mr. Ward, and as soon as the envelope was opened, the blank sheet would prove some sort of deception. These thoughts bore upon poor Sherman's mind, with no little weight. His only hope now was to get out of the sight of this man, or he must be taken back to his master. Drops of sweat commenced to fall from his face. The man, seeing that, said, "I
see that you are lying: look how you sweat: a nigger can't fool me; I know them too well." This only increased Sherman's agony. Now the whistle began to blow for the last station; of course the matter must be decided very soon. The man stops--the people begin to tumble out of the carriages--the man is still looking after him. But just at that moment a rush was made for the door by a body of passengers, and this man was shoved outside.
Sherman saw his opportunity, got behind some of those who were still inside, and instead of going out of the same door with these went out at another and jumped off upon the side where there were no passengers. Without delay, Sherman made his way in a direction the opposite of that in which the man was looking for him, and notwithstanding the "can't fool me," escaped him. Sherman ceased to perspire so freely, and breathed much freer. He slept in the town that night, and was still stronger in his determination to pursue his journey. He reached Memphis the next day, and there saw a person of colour, to whom he related his circumstances. He found sympathy and immediate aid.
The next point of importance to be reached was Cincinnati, called. The Queen City of the West. Arrangements for this were fully made by a friend, and in the hands of one of the Underground Railroad "conductors," he reached Cincinnati in safety. At this point Sherman received assistance from our committee, and we sent him through to Amherstburgh, Canada West.
Sherman is now a British subject; his home is in the town of Windsor, on the banks of the Detroit river. May not this be regarded as indeed a "panting" for liberty--the thing which the American people talk so much about, but practice so little of? If any one was to look at the different shapes into which Americans put themselves on the Fourth of July--the anniversary of their so-called Independence--he would be led to suppose that they were the greatest lovers of liberty in the world. But does not every day's paper tell the sad story of the broken-hearted slave on the auction-block, or at the whipping-post? of the torturing of the black man? The bloodhounds are fed for the purpose of hunting slaves in the thick forests. The district of Columbia, where is the National Capital, yet rings with the cries of hundreds of poor enslaved black women. Virginia still grows flesh for the market,--not horse flesh, but human flesh. Woe to these Cities of Blood! Rome never was so black, with all her benighting influence of Popery. Surely, if the prophet Jeremiah were alive, he would shed tears of blood, if possible, for the sins of a nation which steals men from their native land--to enrich themselves at the expense of the African.
I rejoice to know that there are some true-hearted friends in the United States who stand up against government and church to protest against the wickedness of this system of robbery and bloodshed. The same friends are willing to give their time and means to help on the
escaping bondman. The case of Sherman, which I have just presented, shows how difficult it would be to fight his way alone to Canada. May the Father of our spirits raise up more such good men, who will plead the cause of the oppressed, and aid in sending the Gospel to Africa, that her children may be taught to fear God. In view of the oppressions of their native land, it is not a matter of wonder that so many begin to say--
"Jacob's sons their brother sold;
Afric hath her children given:
Victims both of hate and gold,
From their land in fetters driven.
Never can we noble be,
Till our race re-cross the sea."*
Robert was a mulatto, belonging to the Rev. William Baynaham, of the county of Essex, State of Virginia. Robert's father was a Southern planter, who owned not less than 150 slaves. Robert was born on the plantation of the minister, Robert's mother being one of the minister's slaves. Robert was finally sold by the reverend gentleman to the man who was acknowledged by all to be his father. It was expected by all that his father would emancipate him; but in this both Robert and his friends were disappointed. He was very severely worked, so much so, that he complained sometimes to his father and master. The benefit he obtained was at last a promise of a flogging. This flogging he refused to submit to, upon the ground of the promise which was made, him before being transferred by sale to his father, that he should have his freedom. Matters only grew worse, and upon again complaining, he was again threatened with a flogging. In reply to this, he said he would not allow any man
under the sun to flog him. This seeming insolence it was determined should be met by severe punishment. The overseer, who hated Robert, even boasted of the pleasure in store for him in inflicting stripes upon the intended victim. About noon, the day following, as Robert was passing along, and seeming rather cast down, the overseer thought his hour had arrived, and that it would be an easier task to manage Robert because of his downcast appearance; so, he advanced to Robert, and caught him by the throat. Robert immediately ordered hands off, but the overseer kept his hold upon him, until Robert caught the overseer by the hair and felled him. This, in the eye of the law, would evidently be worse for Robert; and, as the overseer soon reported Robert's insubordination, he knew there would be no sympathy for him from his father, for he had before given word that Robert should be flogged at the barn.
Night came on, and Robert's mind was fully made up to leave for a better land. I had seen Robert, prior to this, at my father's house, and he had requested me to tell him the route, because he said I understood the geography of the country. I, at first, hesitated; at last, I asked him if he knew the consequence of giving such information would be, if known. He answered in the negative. I said, suppose you are caught in the attempt to escape, you would certainly be interrogated as to the person from whom you gained your information, and if you were to say you obtained the knowledge from me, according
to law, I would be imprisoned for the long term of ninety-nine years. To this Robert replied, nearly, in these words, "If you will only tell me how I may escape, I will promise, in the sight of God, that I will suffer my life to be taken before I will inform against you." I said, it is enough; I believe you.
I had known Robert from a boy. We belonged to the same church. His former master baptised us both. The days of my boyhood were vividly brought back to me. Besides I loved Robert as a man, as well as a Christian. I felt that my duty was to tell him how he might escape to a land of freedom. The friends who read this will, I know, not ask me to enter into particulars, for fear some other person taking Robert's route may be stopped on the way. I felt that if he would take my advice, he surely would reach the desired land of freedom.
Robert left the plantation, and went to the forest as a hiding place, until he could complete his arrangements. This was in September. In the latter part of October, 1853, he started this troublesome journey of twelve hundred miles. By this time, advertisements were circulated in the various newspapers, offering a reward for his apprehension. Handbills were also circulated, describing minutely his person, and offering the same reward. After crossing the Rappahannock river, Robert made his way into the thick woods of Westmoreland county. In this dense forest, he remained three days and three nights without having a mouthful of anything to cat. While
there hid, one day about noon, he saw a white man, with a dog, chasing a squirrel. The man was within thirty yards of him. His heart began to beat fast and loud. He said he put his hand upon his left side, and pressed it hard for fear the man might hear his heart beating. He thought at one time that the man was looking at him, but the squirrel leaped in another direction and the man turned away. This gave Robert a chance to get away, and he wandered further back into the forest. The shades of evening covered the forest, but he continued to make his way towards the north, until he came in sight of a log hut. He saw the sparks ascending, and he thought this would be an opportunity to relieve his hunger, from which he was very weak and faint. He ventured to the door of the hut, and as this sort of house is not compactly built, peeped in through some holes. Knocking at the door, he found the inmate to be a person of colour. Robert was much encouraged at this; he felt it very like an answer to the prayer he had a little before knelt to offer--a prayer for deliverance from hunger and slavery. It seemed to him as if God just then interposed, and offered a way, whereby he might have bread, so that he should not starve and die in the wilderness. He told the man of his hunger, and he readily invited Robert in. This kindness Robert declined, saying, "No, I had rather not; I am afraid; give me some bread; it is all I ask; get it quickly, for I am starving." The kind man quickly furnished Robert bread and meat, and he sat
upon the fence opposite the house and satisfied his hunger. He thanked the good man, and resumed his journey.
He was now near the neighbourhood where I had directed him to some kind friends of mine. At ten o'clock that night he came to a creek which he should cross in order to reach these friends. Of course, there were ferries; but he was afraid to go to any of these, for fear he should be arrested. He looked up and down the shores of the creek to get a canoe or boat to cross. Failing in this, he found a long pole, and walked into the water. He found there was a thin skin of ice on the creek, but this was easily broken by the aid of the pole. He waded in until the water arose as high as his waist; he stopped awhile and began to pray. He then advanced until the water came up to his neck. He stopped again, and found that the tide was receding. Although his feet commenced to move from under him, on account of the depth and force of the water, he managed to steady himself, and again advanced until he succeeded in reaching the opposite shore. He again fell upon his knees, and thanked the God of the oppressed, who had brought him through deep waters, and had given him bread through the hands of a kind friend. Before the day dawned, he found the much-desired place, and, as I had told him, found friends. He related his circumstances, and means were devised to enable him to reach another very important point. Through these means, he arrived in the city of Baltimore, Maryland; from thence to the
city of Philadelphia; from thence to the city of New York. By a mistake, he found himself again in Western Pennsylvania, and came to Brownsville, on the banks of the Monongahela river. Robert received aid at that point, and, to hasten his journey, went to the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, where my father and mother, having left the State of Virginia, were then settled. Robert inquired the way to their house, and there he found a cordial welcome. I had left the State of Ohio, and was living in the town of Amberstburgh, Canada West. My father told Robert it was not safe for him to remain in Cincinnati, as he could be arrested under the Fugitive Slave Law, and advised him to leave as soon as possible. Robert was not then aware that I resided in Canada. He said to my father, he would like to be near some of his old friends, or near some one he knew. My father said, "William is living in Canada." This idea seemed to give Robert new life. On the Sabbath, his case was made known to the friends in the Zion Baptist Church, to which my parents belong, and money was put into Robert's hands to enable him to pursue his journey. On Monday morning, he took the train going to Sandusky, on the shore of Lake Erie. The same night, about eleven o'clock, the boat plying between Sandusky and the city of Detroit stopped at the Amherstburgh wharf. I heard the bell of the boat, but little expected any such passenger, although I knew Robert was somewhere wandering, if he was not dead. I heard a loud rap at my door. I had
retired, but I came down stairs without delay, and there stood before me a large man, and apparently one of nature's noblemen. He recognised me, and said, "Do you know me?" I had a candle in my hand, and I lifted it and the light fell upon his face. I said, "Yes, Bob, come in." The weather was a little cold, but I told him I could not take the time to make a fire just then, for I wanted to talk a little beforehand. I asked him how long he had been coming? and his reply was, one year and two months. And he then detailed his "hair-breadth 'scapes."
You, my dear readers, who have not seen such a case as the one already narrated, and have never had any of your dear friends in slavery, cannot feel as I did in the reception of Robert after his perilous journey. I was both glad and sorry. I was glad to shake his hand in a land of freedom, and sorry to know that he had suffered so much during those fourteen months. Being acquainted with the entire route through which he had travelled, I could more deeply enter into his constant fear of being seized, and the attempt made to take him back. I say attempt to take him back--his determination was to be free, at any cost, life not excepted. Some may say that a Christian man should not speak about dying for his liberty, nor of desperate attempts to defend it. It is very easy for persons to talk thus, who do not know anything about the sufferings of the slave. You, who have not felt the biting cowhide and the nipping switch, cannot, altogether,
enter into the feelings of those who are attempting to get away from such oppression. It is frequently said by those who are the enemies of the coloured man that he is better off in servitude. I need not try to disabuse the minds of such persons of such an idea, for I think they have lost all respect for the truth in this case, and deserve to be put in chains for awhile, to obtain some of the more tangible evidences of the debasing system of slavery. This is the best rule with which to operate upon such as are not disposed to reason upon the great principles of law and truth. For the rule which would oppress me would oppress a white man.
The whole object of the system of slavery is to make money. Slaveholding is not a principle implanted by our Creator; it grows out of moral depravity. In my view, slaveholding is one of the greatest evidences of man's total depravity, and nothing but moral and spiritual power can effectually tread it down. These principles are the great guardians of human society. Nothing can truly prosper without this moral power. And where it is truly employed slavery must lose the power lent it by Satan, and freedom and love must rule the world in which we live. If this moral power had been permitted to exert its moral influence, Robert, whose former situation I have tried to describe, would have been free when born into the world. But I thank the Lord of liberty that I can now meet Robert in my congregation at home; that we can talk together as free men; and pray together that the day will
soon come when the four millions, who are now in slavery, may walk from under the yoke, and bid defiance to their oppressors.
As may have been surmised from my reference to Robert as one of my congregation, I may say, he is now in Windsor, Canada West. May we have many thousands more! While the United States refuse to shelter such, Britain's arms are widely spread to protect all who come. In this thankful state of mind, a poor fugitive from the State of Tennessee wrote the following:
"I heard our Queen Victoria say--
If we would all forsake
Our native land and slavery,
And come across the lake--
That she was standing on the shore
With arms extended wide,
To give us all a peaceful home
Beyond the rolling tide.
Farewell, old master,
That's enough for me;
I'm just in sight of Canada,
Where coloured men are free."
John Hedgman was a fugitive slave from the State of Alabama. Twenty-five years ago, he was sold from his wife, in the State of Kentucky. At the time of the sale, Hedgman besought his owner to permit his wife to be sold to the same party which had bought him. To that the master replied, that he had sold him in order that he might be punished by the separation. Hedgman's wife was permitted to come and shake hands with him, and then she bade him a long and sad farewell. The thought of separation overcame her, and she fell to the ground.
Her husband left with his new master for the cotton fields of Alabama, where he was put to work amongst other slaves. He worked steadily, but he continued to think about his dear wife and their sad parting, and as he thought, he often wept bitter tears. He was a man who believed in God; and he made his wife's case a subject of prayer to God. His work on the plantation was, generally, very hard; but sometimes he was taken from
the fields and sent on errands for his master. Three years had now elapsed; and he had, apparently, the confidence of master and overseer. The overseer, in accordance with the directions of the master, one day sent Hedgman on horseback twenty miles from home, and gave him a "Pass" from the master. It just then occurred to Hedgman's mind, that that was a good chance to escape to Canada. Instead, therefore, of returning to the farm, he took the liberty of keeping his master's horse for the time being, and made his way as expeditiously as possible to the State of Missouri. He had taken another liberty while travelling, namely, to feed his master's horse upon the corn of other planters. He obtained bread for himself by saying that he was the slave of Mr. Beal, looking for some stray cows. This plan had enabled him to effect his escape to the last-named State, and he thought it unwise to try the same any more. He therefore left the horse in one of the main roads, and went into the forest for fear of being betrayed. He was now puzzled to know the course he ought to take to reach the Missouri river; but as he had heard that it was north, he kept his eye nightly upon the North Star, until he reached a plantation near St. Louis. There he sought an opportunity to speak with one of the slaves, and at night he saw a coloured man coming from his cabin. Him he accosted, and informed him that he had missed his way in seeking for the river, and asked for direction thereto. The man kindly informed him that St. Louis was only
twelve miles off, and that if he would go to the main road, pointing the way, he would be led directly to the city he wished to find, and to the river on whose bank it stands. Hedgman then ventured to ask for a little bread, as he was very hungry. The man asked Hedgman to wait until he could go to his cabin to get it, and, when he brought it, went with Hedgman to the main road. Hedgman that night came in sight of the anxiously looked for city, but would not enter the town, for fear of meeting with the policemen of the city, who would most likely ask too many questions. He knew the law of the city, because he had been there before he was taken to the plantation from which he was now escaping. He remained outside of the corporation limits until day, and then went into the city. He met some coloured friends there, who arranged that he should be sent to the other side of the river into the State of Illinois, which is nominally free. He was conveyed to Alton, where Lovejoy, the noble martyr to liberty, was shot years ago. At this point he obtained further assistance; soon reached Michigan, another free State; and, soon after, crossed over into Canada.
He remained a few months in the town of Sandwich, after which he settled in a township called Mount Pleasant. His devotedness to God and zeal for religion soon caused the people of the community to pay great respect to him, and he afterwards became deacon of the Baptist Church.
In all this time, Hedgman had not heard anything of his wife. He had resolved to wait for her coming, earnestly
praying all the while that they might meet. Twelve years had now elapsed. In the month of September, the organisation of Baptist ministers and lay delegates, called "The Amherstburgh Baptist Association," met in annual session. Among the delegates was Mr. Hedgman, who had been deputed by the church, of which he was a member. The association had met that morning in the Baptist Chapel, and Hedgman was seated upon the platform with the other delegates. The boat plying between Sandusky city and the city of Detroit came up the lake that day about twelve o'clock, and, as it stopped at the wharf, there stepped off a woman--a stranger apparently, for she went from corner to corner inquiring. At last, she came to this Baptist Chapel, and made inquiry of a man standing at the door. She told this man, who it seems was a deacon of the church, that she was a stranger, and had no place where she could stop. The deacon asked her where she was from. She said, from the State of Kentucky. To this, she added, that she was a widow. He then asked her how long she had been a widow? She replied, twelve years. "Your husband is dead, then?" said he inquiringly. "I don't know," she replied, "he was sold from me twelve years ago." "To what State was he sold?" She replied, "to Alabama," and added "I have not heard from him since." The deacon then asked the name. "Hedgman," she answered. "What was his complexion?" "He was a yellow person"--and added a particular description, as to age and appearance. Upon this Deacon
Valentine, out of courtesy, gave her his name, and told the woman if what she had said was correct, her husband must be in that chapel. With this he opened the chapel door, and the woman, feeling somewhat elated, was quick in her steps. She saw, upon the platform, a man sitting, whom she thought she recognised. Hedgman's eyes were placed upon the strange woman, and he arose from his seat and started down the aisle of the chapel. They met half-way down the aisle, and they threw their arms around each other's necks, and for thirty minutes they remained so, without being able to speak one to the other, so much overcome were they by this joyful re-union. When Hedgman did speak, he said, "Lord, my prayers are answered. All things do surely work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
Let me here inform my readers that I have often had the pleasure of being in company with the man whose narrative I have just given. I have often preached to the church with which he is connected. When we have talked over the days gone by, we have frequently found ourselves weeping together in deep sympathy, and over God's goodness in permitting such a happy re-union. The long interval of twelve years brought its seasons and its sorrows; but no changes, however great, had blighted their affection, an affection which burns brightest often in the darkest nights, and which triumphs over the severest trials. Deacon Hedgman is a man of industry, and the man and
wife live together happily. They have several children now; they had none before they left slavery and its curses. I speak thus of slavery because it is really a curse to its victims. Its victims are the masters as well as the slaves. I have witnessed sufficient to satisfy my own mind that the master suffers, but will not acknowledge it. I do not need to read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" to learn ideas of slavery's cruelties, for I read from boyhood the lines of blood running down the back of many a poor slave. I have seen Legrees by fifties, and auction-blocks and slave-pens, and the other accompaniments of American slavery in a thousand forms.
"The end will come, it will not wait;
Bonds, whips, and scourges have their date;
Slavery itself will pass away,
And be a tale of yesterday."
Lewis Williams was a slave to one Marshall, in the State of Kentucky. He escaped when he was quite a boy, and stopped in the city of Cincinnati for several years. It was thought by some of his friends not necessary to send him to Canada, because, having escaped at an early age, he would soon grow out of his master's knowledge. So he was permitted to remain with a friend, a short distance outside the city limits. When he came to manhood, he became acquainted with a girl, to whom he became much attached. He paid every attention to her, and thus evinced his own love; but not being very certain as to whether he was loved in return, he thought he would ascertain this piece of information from a Dutch woman, who was known in that city as a "fortune-teller." He proceeded to this woman's place of business, and said to her he wanted his fortune told. She said she must first have the sum of 4s. 2d., or one dollar, before she could tell anything; and it must be paid in silver, or the cup would not turn well. Lewis at once advanced the sum
required. She then commenced by asking him to tell his origin. He began as follows:--"I was born in the State of Kentucky, and was held as a slave until a few years ago. I escaped, and came to this city." To this the fortune-teller listened with profound attention. She asked Lewis to tell his master's name, which he did. After further details, she was made acquainted with the post-office address of the master. She then informed Lewis that he would be successful, and that the girl was deeply in love with him. Besides, she told him in three months' time he would be married to her. This was encouraging news to Lewis. He felt that his money had been spent for useful information.
As soon as Lewis left the house, however, she told her husband of Lewis's revelations, and they immediately addressed a letter to Mr. Marshall, Lewis's master, saying if he would pay them the sum of 200 dollars they would tell him where he might find his slave. Lewis's master was glad to accept the proposal, and came immediately to Cincinnati, and paid the fortune-teller the sum required. Lewis was soon arrested by one of the marshals of the United States, and brought before Commissioner Carpenter, of the said city. The news of the arrest was soon noised abroad; and, as I went out to see what was the matter, I met the marshals having the boy in custody. I went immediately to a lawyer, John Jolliffe, Esq., who is always ready to plead in such cases, without any charge whatever. He, without delay, repaired to the court house,
in order to appear as the boy's counsel. I went to spread the news among the coloured people of the city, in order that some plan might be devised to get the boy out of the court house, if possible. We became a sort of committee of ways and means. At last, we concluded that our best plan would be to crowd the court room, and get the prisoner free by some stratagem. There was a man in our company who was very like the prisoner in complexion, and it was arranged that he should occupy the prisoner's place temporarily, while he should put his own hat upon the prisoner's head, and thus allow him to make his way to freedom. The wink given Lewis was understood; the hat was placed upon Lewis's head, and he immediately moved slowly out of the chair, and this other person took his place in the chair. The attention of the marshal at this time was attracted by certain points in dispute between the counsel, and the prisoner by this time had made his way through the great crowd, on his hands and knees, to the door, and out he slipped and made to the forest. He went as though he was on the most urgent errand. When the point in dispute was partially settled, the marshal missed the prisoner. He exclaimed, "Where is the boy?" Some person standing at the door out of which the boy had passed, said, "The child left some time ago; no use to look, for the creature is going to the Queen; he don't like this country," &c. This was quite tantalising to the marshal; but the fact was, the boy
was gone: and great excitement consequently prevailed throughout the city.
The marshal was, of course, responsible for the prisoner, and, therefore, every means was resorted to upon the part of the authorities to rearrest this boy. The sum of two hundred pounds (or one thousand dollars) was offered as a reward for his recapture. The day passed, and the boy was not, after all these efforts, retaken. On the other hand, the anti-slavery friends were fully alive to their duty to endeavour to prevent the boy's recapture. We made arrangements, the following night, to get the boy back from the forest into the city, and he was then brought to my house. It was then that he gave me the whole of the history of his betrayal by the Dutch woman. I then put a new suit of clothes upon him, and cut off his hair very close, so as to disguise him as completely as possible.
I was now in a perilous position, keeping or harbouring a slave in my house, it being in violation of the law of the Federal Government. For this offence, I could have been imprisoned for six months, and fined one thousand dollars, if the demands of the Fugitive Slave Law were carried out in my case. Yet I bore up, sustained in my act by a clear conscience, and, as I believe, by the favour of God.
This was Saturday morning. My dwelling was in a neighbourhood where many persons were passing and
repassing, and I felt that it was dangerous for the boy to remain there for any length of time. My place of business was on Broadway. At night I thought it best to remove him to my business place, which was accomplished, after disguising him as mentioned before. After his removal I felt more contented. On Sabbath morning I went to chapel, and was sitting in the pulpit, expecting to preach, when I saw a friend come in with whom I had counselled. He gave me a signal of danger, known among ourselves as a vigilance committee, and begging the reverend gentleman for whom I was to preach, to excuse my absence, I went out of the chapel to see what had happened. On reaching my friend, who had come to give me the signal, I was informed that my place of business was being watched by policemen. This alarmed me much, and, indeed, put us all to our wit's end. I told my friend, however, I thought I could get the boy out of danger, if I could obtain from his daughter certain articles of attire. This was readily consented to. I started to his house in great haste, and fortunately found the young lady in. I told her my errand was a very important one, and at her request explained it briefly, telling her I wanted her to favour me with the loan of one of her dresses and skirts, and bonnet and veil. She immediately gave me all that I had asked for. I stood a little while and said, Miss Cordelia, I hope you will not think me rude, but I would be very glad if you could spare me an old crinoline, if you have
one. "Certainly," she said, "you can have one," and she went into another room, and out came a "whopping" crinoline, for which I tendered my heartfelt thanks. I repaired to my business place, the boy's place of retreat, and went in at the back door to dress him. I commenced to put on the things, but I found myself deficient in that line of business. I then called in two ladies of my acquaintance to take the job off my hands, and they kindly came to my relief, and dressed him neatly. Then we made him walk the floor, forward and back, to mimic (pardon it) the ladies as much as possible in their way of walking. This was carried out quite gracefully. I then called in my eldest brother to take this supposed lady, in the afternoon, to the same chapel from which we went in the morning. They both walked out of the door of the business place, through the back yard, and passed through the crowd of policemen, apparently unnoticed. They made their way down Broadway, the veil, bonnet, and crinoline adding much to the appearance of the supposed lady.
Lewis, in one disguise or another, was handed along from friend to friend. He was about three weeks making the journey of three hundred miles across the State of Ohio. At the end of three weeks from the disguise I gave Lewis in Cincinnati, he one day walked into the editorial room of William Howard Day, Esq., at Cleveland, the land terminus in that State of the "Underground Railroad," and he was put upon a steamer and was safely landed in
Canada, the only "land of the free." He now lives in Canada, in the enjoyment of those rights which belong to all men. He can heartily join in singing--
"I no more dread the auctioneer,
Nor fear the master's frown;
I'll no more tremble when I hear
The baying of the hound.
Ah! old master!
Don't think hard of me!
I'm now in sight of Canada,
Where coloured men are free."
A Rev. Mr. Nicholson, an Episcopal minister in the State of Kentucky, owned a slave girl named Rosetta Armistead. This girl was a domestic servant, and as some of the reverend gentleman's family were visiting for awhile in the State of Virginia, it was thought proper to have Rosetta sent on to them from Kentucky. At last, one of the reverend gentleman's friends was to pass to Virginia from Kentucky, and it was decided to entrust Rosetta with him. He started, therefore, as a sort of agent having the girl in charge. Remember, that Virginia and Kentucky are both slave States. If he had gone directly from one of those States into the other, all would have been well. But the agent came to Cincinnati, in Ohio, a free State, and then concluded that as the journey through Ohio would be a shorter one, to take that shorter course. Arrived at Cincinnati, the agent took a morning railway train for Columbus, the State capital. Some of our anti-slavery friends found out that the girl had been brought into the State, and as she was
brought into a free State by the consent of the agent acting for the master, decided to give the girl the benefit of the law of Ohio, which would thus make her free. A telegraphic despatch was sent from Cincinnati to Columbus, apprising the Columbus friends of the girl's circumstances. The friends of freedom there soon obtained a writ of Habeas Corpus, which was served upon the agent and the girl as soon as the train reached the city. Amid great excitement, the girl was soon brought before the Probate Court, and the question soon settled, entitling the girl to her freedom according to the laws of the State into which she had been brought.
The agent immediately communicated his distress to the girl's master, in the town of Louisville, Kentucky, and he came up to Columbus forthwith. Some lawyers whom he consulted advised him to have the girl arrested under the Fugitive Slave Law, and according to this advice he took oath that the girl had escaped from service due to her master by law. Under this falsehood she was arrested and brought before Commissioner Pendery, of Cincinnati. The friends of freedom sent a despatch to Cincinnati, to inform the friends there what to do. Another writ of Habeas Corpus was issued and served upon the girl and the United States' marshal who had her in charge, and she was brought before the Probate Court of Cincinnati (Parker, judge), and he decided that the girl was free according to the laws of the State, and further said that
all the laws of the United States could not make her a slave. At this noble decision the crowd in the court house, who had been so anxious for the girl's freedom, gave a shout, and they were all turned out in consequence of it. When order was restored, the judge told the State authorities to deliver the girl into the hands of the gentleman who had kindly come forward at Columbus as her guardian, and to whom the girl was first handed over at Columbus; but as they were in the act of delivering her over as directed, another writ under the Fugitive Slave Law was served upon the girl and the State authorities. We now expected trouble, and rather looked for an exhibition of violence. The streets were thronged with people, some of them in favour of the master taking the girl back into slavery, and others of retaining her in freedom. Some were abusing the negro race as the lowest of the monkey tribe; and some were praising the girl and the coloured people as fine specimens of humanity. Some were using their pistols and bowie-knives; some their clubs, brickbats, &c.
The girl was finally arrested by the United States' marshal, and ordered to be put in some safe place until the next day. The girl's guardian sent a note to the judge who gave the latest decision in behalf of the girl's freedom, to ask him to sustain that decision, and not to allow the girl to be put in gaol, as she had committed no crime, and none could be alleged against her. In reply,
the judge said the decision would be sustained, and the girl should be put in some place where she could be comfortably cared for.
We were now anxious, and some of us were desponding. Threats were made by the Kentuckians that they would come across the river and take the girl by force into slavery; and the coloured people of the city were doing all they could to prevent this. The girl was taken, not to the gaol, but to one of the hotels not far from the river. We had four sets of watchmen of our own to watch the ferry where the boat came from Kentucky, and two to watch the hotel where the girl was put for safe keeping. In company with a strong armed band, I stood at the front door of the hotel all night. We were ordered away several times by the policemen; but we did not obey the order, as we were peaceable, and not intruding upon any one's rights. We felt it was our privilege to stay, and there we did stay, until morning.
At ten o'clock, the girl was again taken to the court house, to be tried under the Fugitive Slave Law. We followed the carriage in which she went to the door of the court house, and took our seats in the court house, during the trial, as near her as we could get. The master had four lawyers present to plead on his side: we had three. Among these latter were, Hon. Salmon P. Chase, lately Governor of the State, and John Jolliffe, to whom reference has been made before, and a tried friend of liberty. The pro-slavery lawyers pleaded very ably, but
failed to prove that the girl had escaped. The master frequently whispered to the girl, asking her to say that she would go back with him. As soon as his whispering was over, I would take my turn of whispering, and say to her not to agree to do any such thing. The master would look at me in a very vengeful way, but it was of no use. I determined to see it out, and not let the girl be deceived if I could do anything to prevent it. The girl's counsel made out a clear case, that the girl in question was positively brought into the State by the master's agent, and that by that act the girl was made free. The case being so clear, when the Commissioner arose to make his decision, he adverted to the explicitness of the law upon the subject, and said that the girl was free!
Her former master stood up, and addressed the Commissioner thus:--"You have done me a great piece of injustice;" to which the Commissioner replied, "I have acted according to law. Rosetta is as free as you." At this, the reverend gentleman literally wept.
When Rosetta was brought out, the crowd followed on to the Little Miami Railway Station; and when she took the train for Columbus, where she was first made free, a thousand shouts went up upon the part of the friends of freedom.
Rosetta's guardian, for fear of her being kidnapped, sent her into one of the eastern States to be educated. I understood, before I left America, that she was making rapid progress as a scholar. Rosetta's master was a
minister of the Gospel, a pastor of an Episcopal congregation in the town of Louisville, Kentucky. He was charged with perjury, and bail was accepted for his appearance for trial; but whether anything has been done about it since, I do not know.
I may say, in relation to the city of Cincinnati, that it was once my home; but it never will be again, unless some extraordinary changes take place. There are many warm-hearted anti-slavery friends in that city; but yet the pro-slavery element prevails, and her citizens are wonderfully proscriptive. The principal halls and places of amusement are closed against persons of colour. There is a fine hall called "Smith and Nixon's." When Elizabeth Greenfield (called the "Black Swan") came there years ago, and gave a concert, not one of the coloured people was permitted to purchase a ticket, although Miss Greenfield was a coloured woman. She was employed by some white person who had the management of the whole affair.
I have seen a furious mob in that city--a mob directing their energies against the coloured people. They are often kicked about on the streets by what I may call the lowest order of white men, who constitute frequently the so-called gentry of that country. From the bright-eyed snob down to the fellow who scrapes the streets for a living, the greatest struggle seems to be to make you know that they are what are generally called white men. I am sorry to
say that the sons of Ireland form a large proportion of this circle. They seem to think you will not know they are white unless they make it known by insulting you, by calling you ill names; or by spitting in your face; or by shoving you off the side walk; and then they say, "I am a white man." This meanness is peculiarly American. By the law lending itself to oppress coloured people, this kind of insult can often be indulged in, without any redress to the party offended. I may just here mention a case of this sort which came under my own notice:--A man of my acquaintance, and a deacon of Zion Baptist Church in this city of which I am speaking, was passing from a steam boat to the shore by means of the stage planks, so called, when the captain of the boat, seeing that the deacon was coloured, and that there were some white passengers coming on board, hailed the coloured man, and told him to come back and let those white people come on board. The man, knowing that there was room enough to pass them without injury to himself or them, went on, and passed these persons without any trouble. The captain of the boat caught up a fire shovel that was lying upon the deck, and followed this friend of mine. When he came up with him, the captain broke the shovel over the man's head and face, and left him bleeding. He was obliged to be taken home and have his wounds dressed by a surgeon; but my friend Bentley could not obtain any redress for the brutal assault, because
he was a person of colour. Public sentiment was against him. I saw Bentley three years ago, and he still were those scars of dishonour.
Ah! cruel America! when wilt thou cease to cut and bruise the sons of bleeding Africa? When wilt thou learn to do justice to the afflicted? We have complained to Church and State, and sometimes we have been heard; but still this charge of guilt and shame rests upon America. It rests, too, upon the church of America. If the church had clothed itself with honesty during ten years, the whole system would have been abolished. But it is a crying shame that the church took the system as a part of its legacy--a legacy which, they say, God gave in the beginning. It is easy to see, therefore, the reason of the support that the system has had, and the reason of the efforts now being made to continue the African slave trade. The church, as a rule, is silent on these points. And those who say they do not interfere either way, by that dastardly neutrality give a downright consent to the system, as much as to say, "Go on, I'll not oppose you." I hold that omission of duty is a sin, and that we sin if we neglect to oppose any moral evil. The sin of slavery stares the American churches in the face; it can say, "They give me support;' and because the church thus fosters slavery and countenances proscription, the lowest orders of society can do the same. The scene which I have referred to in the Rosetta Armistead
case, where ruffians fought for slavery upon the soil of Ohio, shows very clearly the influence of the slavery of Kentucky upon a free State. However, we will not forget to feel thankful for the kind friends God has raised up in Ohio, and throughout the world.
"Yet Liberty; thy dawning light
Obscured by dungeon bars, shall cast
A splendour on the breaking night,
And tyrants, flying thick and fast,
Shall tremble at thy gaze, and stand aghast."*
The Ohio river is a stream upon which hundreds of boats are engaged bearing freight to the west and south. From Virginia, or rather Western Virginia, many slaves are taken down the river to the Southern markets. Sometimes boats, having such cargoes, stop in Ohio, for instance, on the free side of the river, and, as was seen in the Rosetta Armistead case, the boat, and passengers, and cargo are to be governed by the law of the State where they may be. One day, in 1852, the steamer Baltic, having three slaves on board, stopped at the "levee," at Cincinnati. A friend of mine came hurriedly to me, and announced that the three slaves were on board. I went on board the boat, and, looking around, found that the statement was correct. Knowing that according to the State law, these persons were illegally detained, I proceeded at once to take steps to release them. My lawyer made out an affidavit, which was acknowledged by a notary public, and with it I went to see one of the judges, with whom I was acquainted; but, unfortunately for me and
the work in which I was engaged, he was not at home. I went to see the second best, but failed to find him. The day was growing old, and I was afraid the boat might back out and leave for the South. I very reluctantly consented to call upon a judge named Jacob Flinn. He signed the document, and the sheriff and I repaired to the boat and found the slaves--a man, a woman, and one child. We took them to the court house before the judge who had signed the affidavit. My lawyer was at hand to plead the case, and by the time he had read the law upon the subject, the master of the slaves had obtained counsel. Our lawyer showed clearly that the slaves were free by the law of Ohio, and that they were, therefore, illegally detained. The other counsel pleaded that the master had the right to take his slaves anywhere he pleased, just as he would any other property, or goods, or horses, or mules. The judge was anything but impartial, for he showed every disposition to send the persons back to slavery. Finally, he became very much excited, and said, "I will bring this thing to an end." He ordered the people to be put out of the court room, although the assemblage was very quiet, and then commanded the sheriff to take the slaves across the river, and put them in possession of the master. This was directly against the law of the State; but a pro-slavery judge ruled, and thus the poor creatures were sent back to wear their chains. The judge now being displeased with what had been said upon the part of my lawyer, met him
in the street, a few days after, and knocked him down. This was a judge of the city of Cincinnati. Judge Flinn is still living in the city of Cincinnati, a strong pro-slavery Democrat, according to the Democracy of America, Democracy, in America, is the system by which men are banded together to hold four millions of slaves in chains.
I was thus foiled in my purpose to make free persons out of those slaves. I saw them leave the court house, and my heart mourned within me. But I hope the day is not far distant when all will be free. I care little what the means shall be; I say--freedom at any cost. Let it come! It is only God's power overruling the evil. If by peaceable means, I shall be glad; if by the shedding of blood, upon the people who sustain the system be the responsibility. They should remember that slavery is a two-edged sword, and that they who sow the wind may reap the whirlwind. We have waited patiently for the day when we might see our children and our wives free--but patience in this case becomes a disgrace. I do not believe the Almighty desires a man to stoop that his neck may take the yoke, nor to bow under the heavy lash, nor to allow his wife to be grossly insulted, and his children torn from him. The people of this country are speaking in high terms of the hero Garibaldi. They want Italy to be free. They justify the war which he so gallantly waged. Now, if war can be justified in any case upon earth, it can be upon the part of the descendants of the African race in America.
In the language of William Howard Day, I ask--"What is slavery but a constant war upon each and all? In self-defence, then, it should be met with its own weapons. The rights it threatens are just as sacred as its own. The interests it endangers deserve the same regard as its own. In the threatening another's inalienable, inherent, natural rights, it becomes an outlaw. It puts itself out of the pale of protection. The despot, then, who endangers my rights, thereby forfeits his own. The assassin who steals to my side at the noon of night, and attempts my life, by that act forfeits his own. The highwayman, who, in the dark or the daylight, demands my money or my life, merits the bullet which finds his life. The despot unceasingly demands more than money--better than life;--he demands liberty. And in that demand he deserves the fate of the highwayman and assassin. No murderer deserves to live; the despot, whether in the old world or the new, being a murderer, deserves to die.
"It is thus that 'resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.' The first duty of the slave, then, is to be FREE. Being a man, he is a child of God. Being a child of God, and a chattel, his demand to be free is good against the universe. It matters not whether his claimant stole him or bought of one who did steal him. His rights are intact, even to the thousandth generation. His servitude is a fiction, unrecognised by just enactment, human or divine."
I ask, in justice to my cause, who of the civilised nations of the world would allow themselves to become slaves to any other race, no matter what the claim to superiority might be? I claim for our people just what other nations claim for theirs--that is, freedom for the last man of us, and no compromise whatever. A compromise upon this subject would be a sacrifice of a principle as dear as life. Nothing will satisfy us short of immediate liberty. We cannot help who may lose. We sorrow that matters stand as we see them at present. We would be sorry to see the cotton crop of the slave land destroyed; but, cotton trade or no cotton trade, Freedom we must have! Do you think the spirit of liberty is dead among the coloured people? Nay, nay. Already
"The surface of the human sea
Is rippled by the breezes' breath;
And underneath begins to be
The waking from the living death.
"The dead are moving in their graves--
The purblind slave begins to see;
And the old banner once more waves
Where was the tomb of Liberty.
"And up the sons of toil will start--
From weary chain and torture free;
And, bearing Freedom's bleeding heart,
Will take the birthright--Liberty."*
Joseph W. Brown, whose name is attached to my credentials as one of the trustees of our church property in Windsor, is a man who made his escape from slavery ten years ago. He had a master who was called a good man, so far as slaveholders can be called good. Brown was hired out as a cook on a steamboat which was running from the city of St. Louis to New Orleans. The money for which Brown was hired, month after month, of course went into the hands of his master, and all Brown would get was what any passenger might feel disposed to give him. In this respect, however, he was very fortunate. Gentlemen would frequently give him from one to four shillings. Besides, he was allowed to keep for his own use the proceeds of the refuse of the kitchen, which refuse he would sell in any port. For several years he lived thus, much esteemed by the captain. But Brown did not forget that he was a slave, and that the money for which he worked went into the hands of another. This inspired Brown with the idea of saving all he could, with the object of making his escape. He had an old stocking
in which he kept his money, and he filled it with silver coin. He was now about to return from St. Louis to the city of New Orleans. He had fully made up his mind to leave the captain and his master. But as he wished at the same time to secure the freedom of the person whom he expected would be his wife, he deferred leaving until he could make further arrangements. This person was then living in the city of St. Louis. She was a widow, and had two children, one living with her, and the other belonging to another family of slaveholders. He called to see this woman, and told her of his intention to leave for Canada upon the first opportunity. He broached the idea of her going with him, and promised, if they were successful in reaching Canada, that they would then get married. Mrs. Barton readily agreed to the proposition. She had about six weeks to prepare for the exit. Brown went on board of the boat, and made his trip to New Orleans as usual. When he returned to St. Louis the six weeks had expired. True to his promise, he called to see Mrs. Barton in relation to going, and found she had everything arranged except the obtaining the youngest of her children. This daughter it was difficult to reach, because she slept in the house of her owners. Besides she was obliged to retire at nine o'clock at night, and was not permitted to leave the yard after that hour. All attempts, therefore, to obtain the girl would be in vain, and would, no doubt, betray the rest. They planned night after night, but every plan seemed to fail. They
finally gave up the idea of getting the girl, and they made arrangements for themselves at the earliest opportunity. They boxed up their clothing, as if they were ordinary passengers travelling. Under cover of night, they came down to the river some miles below the city, and crossed into the State of Illinois. Their only hope now was in being able to make an early start for the city of Chicago, in the express train. The captain of the boat would not miss Brown until the dinner hour, as the second cook was told to get breakfast. His intended wife's owners had been told that she had gone to see after her daughter. Thus neither of the party was pursued until they had reached the city of Detroit, Michigan. They had no trouble in getting through, and the next day after they left St. Louis they arrived at Windsor, Canada West. They stopped to make some little arrangements, and they were married according to the laws of Great Britain. They are now living in the town of Windsor. Brown is well known as a well-disposed, industrious man. He is getting on well.
It is very often said, with regard to the coloured people, that they are indisposed to work; that they are unlike white persons. I am afraid that some of our friends even are disposed to believe this falsehood, because this argument is so frequently used against us by our enemies and by persons who have not been conversant with this class of people. I may name Brown as one, among many others, as a refutation of this false
charge. And I do this to set ourselves right with those who may read this little book. For the last ten years Brown has been living in one place, Windsor, and I therefore know him well. When he came from. St. Louis he had no more money than enough to pay the fare of the company through by railway. He then was obliged to secure a place where he might board himself and the two others under his care. When he was married, he borrowed money from a friend, in order to get a few things to put in his house. He worked at any job work he could pick up, but at last found an opening at the railway station. By his steady habits he gained the respect and confidence of his employers, and is now working at the cattle yard of the Great Western Railway Company of Canada. Brown, through this industry, has purchased a house and lot, and is still making progress. I can certify to his credit, and for the encouragement of the friends of freedom, that instead of freedom being a curse, as it is said to be by some who would like to see us all in slavery, it proves a blessing to this man, as it will to many others who have made good their escape to Canada. I have had need to speak of this frequently since I have been in this country; just as if industry was the only thing which would entitle a man to freedom. It is true industry is a virtue which should be sought by all--by white men as well as by black men; and indolence should be condemned in all alike; yet I could not agree with that doctrine which would enslave a man if he chose to be
idle or lazy. If that is to be the rule by which the world is to be tried, and upon which the freedom of men is to depend, then I would ask some of those who might be appointed to make arrests, to first go to old Virginia and arrest thousands of slaveholders who are too lazy to work for an honest living, but have been engaged in a system of stealing for the last two hundred years. This would not be difficult to prove, if persons will only look at the great number of ships which have emptied their cargoes of stolen men and women upon American shores. Then look at the system--a system of raising slaves for the market. They make men's backs bleed in order to grind corn to feed and fatten others for the slaughter yard. Oh! South Carolina! what are you learning? The same thieving lesson your mother taught you. North Carolina! your hands drip with the blood of the slave. Georgia! your heart is sick with the disease which must be fatal. Oh! Southerners! hating us because we are the injured, you trade in our flesh, and by lying reports traduce our character. Your best statesmen have endeavoured to ally us with the monkey tribe. You have poisoned the hearts of even our Northern States, and they have poured proscription upon our heads; while the presses of the country endeavour to write disgrace upon our foreheads. We accuse you of this evil. We charge upon you what you would lay upon us--idleness, vice, crime. We ask you who manufactured the lie against us to take it back upon yourselves, and to admit that, with
equal chance, we are not less worthy than you of the respect of impartial men.
I do not pretend to say that all coloured men are industrious; I mean to say that indolence is not peculiar to the African race. And my complaint is that the laziness of white men is not so much as named, when the no more common laziness of coloured men is sounded all abroad. All I ask is justice. I do not seck mercy at their hands. Mercy they have none. I ask them only to give us back that of which they have robbed us--character, freedom. They may give the latter now; they must yield it bye and bye.
"How long--thy people cry--O Lord, how long!
Shall not Thine arm "shake down the bolted fire?"
Can deeds like these of God-defying wrongs Escape His ire?"*
John Taylor and Monroe Evans, both natives of the State of Virginia, were sold at public auction in Richmond, in the same State, in 1852. They were sold in this old-established mart of human flesh to a planter in the State of Alabama. They lived upon the same plantation and worked in the same cotton-fields for several years, but at last the master gave up his plantation and hired out his slaves. However, Taylor and Evans still kept together, although upon another plantation, and it was while there, that the idea of freedom took possession of their souls.
The man to whom they were hired was severe. They were flogged several times, and locked up in a yard every night for several weeks. One day the overseer left them working in the field, and they took advantage of his absence to start for the forest and for freedom.
As soon as they were missed by the overseer, the dogs which were trained for the purpose, were put upon their track. They heard the bay of the hounds, and were convinced
they were being pursued. They exerted themselves to the utmost to clude the dogs; going into the water, for instance; but all was a failure. At last they were obliged to climb a tree to save themselves from being torn in pieces. The overseer and others of his company came up and ordered them to come down, which order they obeyed.
They were tied by their pursuers and taken to the plantation. They were scourged until their backs were made to bleed, and were then washed in salt and water. The punishment endured it was thought had subdued them, for they were very submissive; but in four months they started again, were pursued, caught, and brought back. But this time they had reached the State of Tennessee.
The master now determined to break them (as he said) of all idea for freedom. Again they were flogged severely, and were put to work on a railway. Their master had them questioned as to whether they wished to be free; and both answered affirmatively. For this answer they were again flogged, and again questioned. Their answer was, "Yes, we want to be free, and will be free at any risk." At this plainness of speech upon the part of Taylor, the master took a large-sized stick and felled him. He then asked him whether he would ever attempt to run away again. He replied, "Yes, I will run away, if I go to h--ll for it." They were both so severely whipped now, that the master thought it useless to punish them
any more, and the overseer was ordered to have a set of iron collars made to fit their necks, with three iron prongs running high above their heads; and at the end of each of these prongs a bell was fastened. The men were put to work on the railway, with this new iron appendage, and were closely watched. They were driven home each night by the overseer, and locked up in a pen made especially for the safer keeping of unruly slaves. Each night they were handcuffed. For two months they worked on in this way; but one day when one of the men was sent to the tool chest for something, he found a file, which he carefully put in his pocket, and returned to his work. The one who had the file communicated the circumstance to his comrade, and at night, after being safely handcuffed and locked in, they began operations. There was one difficulty which was very annoying. It was that the least motion would cause the bells to ring. The first business then would be to stop that ringing. And they could do that only by stuffing the bells. And one could stuff the other's bells only as he lay prostrate. Evans lay down first, and Taylor commenced the stuffing. The material for stuffing was their blanket, which they tore with their teeth. Taylor, in turn, had his bells muffled by Evans. Taylor had the file in his pocket, but being handcuffed, could not reach it. So Evans worked the file out of Taylor's pocket, while Taylor was lying on the floor. Evans then took the file between his fingers, and commenced
cutting off Taylor's handcuffs. He soon freed his friend, and, in turn, was similarly, but in shorter time, released by Taylor. They were now ready to take off the bells and collars, so breaking off the points holding the bells, they filed off the collars, and scaling the walls, were the third time on the way to liberty.
They met a white man with whom they conversed, and found out that he was very poor. They told him they would give him all the money they had--thirty dollars--if he would become their guide to the Ohio river. He readily agreed; but they informed him that they would not pay him until he had taken them in sight of the river. He consented to this also. In two weeks they were on the banks of the Ohio. They paid their guide as agreed, and told him if he would get them across the river, and conduct them to some free State, they would secure him ten dollars more. Their guide told them he would take them as far as the town of Madison, in Indiana, and that then he must leave them to manage for themselves. They remained near the river until night, and crossed over into the State of Indiana. They were then on the main turnpike leading to the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. They were not walking in company with their guide, but so near as to know his movements. They had now come to a town called Jeffersonville. They passed through unmolested; they passed through another smaller town, and apparently attracted great attention. When about a mile
away from this latter place, they saw a company of men on horses following them at full speed. Taylor and Evans immediately turned into the forest, leaving their guide in the road. These men with horses rode through a portion of the forest, but Taylor and Evans managed to elude them. Failing in finding them, the men returned, pursued the guide, and took him prisoner.
They were now left alone, and they concluded to wait until night before pursuing their journey. They then went back to the road from which they had turned to enter the forest. They soon came in sight of a large covered bridge across a creek, and fearing that some of their pursuers might be ready there to pounce upon them, they concluded not to cross the bridge at all. They therefore again went into the forest, and found a place where they thought they might safely cross the stream. After crossing they started back in the direction of the road they had left the second time. Having travelled the distance of ten miles, they found themselves near a railway station. The moon was shining brightly when they came near, and they could hear men talking. Going into a long wood shed there, Taylor told Evans to stand still, and he would go a little nearer. He crept along in the shadow of the shed until he was near enough to hear the conversation of the persons talking. He heard one say, "They'll certainly come through that bridge, and we have stationed men at both ends of it, so I believe
they will be caught at that point; but we thought we would come up thus far in order to let the people know about it. But I'm sure they'll be caught at the bridge." Taylor was startled by this conversation, and he crept back slowly to Evans, and told him what he had heard. They left those parts as soon as possible. They determined to shun that station and village adjoining. About the break of day they found their way into the road, which in a short time led them into Madison. Soon after this they inquired for the coach, as though they desired to go by it to Cincinnati, and in the answer they were informed of a better way by boat. They took advantage of this suggestion, and fortunately found a steamer; they went on board among the cotton bales, and soon fell asleep. When they awoke, they were already at the Cincinnati wharf. No person had noticed them, and they quietly walked off and went up into the city. In the part of the city whither they had gone they entered a shop to purchase a pair of shoes. The shopkeeper suspected that they were escaped slaves, and told them they could have the shoes at cost, for he sympathised with them. "You need not," he continued, "tell me your situation, but go to a friend of mine, who is a person of colour, and in this business, and you may safely tell him all about your circumstances." This friend sent his son with Taylor and Evans to me, and I made speedy arrangements to enable them to start for Canada. I have had the pleasure of
seeing them often since I have been living in Windsor. And, I may add, these men can yet show the mark of the cowhide and the impression of the handcuffs. This all speaks for itself as a part of the terrible system from which they at last escaped.
"Slavery! thou art a bitter draught."
Lewis Hutson was once a slave in the State of Missouri. His old master died, and, by his will, left Lewis free. But this not being very palatable to the sons, they did all they could to destroy the will, but failed in every attempt. Lewis, fearing the treachery of these sons, left the State above-named, and came to the State of Ohio to reside. For a while the sons did not know to what State Lewis had gone; but one of the sons visiting Cincinnati met Lewis on the levee or shore of the Ohio river, and accosted him very kindly. A plan was entered upon to catch Lewis at night, and to remove him to the other side of the river in the State of Kentucky. There a place of confinement was provided, and he was to be taken from there to the far South. One evening, just as Lewis was leaving his work, he was pounced upon by a gang of kidnappers, directed by the orders of the would-be master. Receiving no help from any quarter, he was conveyed
across the river to the slave State, Kentucky, and, chained and handcuffed, was put on board one of the Southern steamboats for the slave-market in New Orleans.
There were some coloured persons employed upon the boat as deck-hands. To them he communicated his distress, and begged them to allow him to get into the small boat at night. At night this was done, and the small boat set adrift upon the Mississippi. Being handcuffed, he was not able to use the oars; but very late the same night the wind drove the small boat ashore, so that Lewis was able to make his way to a reed-marsh near the river. He remained in the marsh, in the midst of crocodiles and other animals, in a perilous position, until day broke, and was then able to reach the forest. Travelling through the forest, he found a sharp stone, and upon that he sawed his handcuffs until they were so much worn that he snapped them across the stone, leaving one on each wrist. He now felt better prepared to go on his journey to freedom, a distance of one thousand miles. He was often in the midst of the black wolves of the forest, but he fought his way until he reached Cincinnati, from which place he had been unmercifully dragged. Feeling that it would not be safe for him to remain in that State, the Vigilance Committee gave him clothes and money, and he started for Canada, where he now rests in contentment. Lewis is a member of the Christian church. I am acquainted with all the circumstances of his case, and
was one of the party which gave him assistance to reach his present home. Thomas Moore well said--
"Away! away! I'd rather hold my neck
In doubtful tenure from a Sultan's beck,
In climes where Liberty has scarce been named,
Nor any right, save that of ruling, claimed,--
Than in this land where bastard Freedom waves
Her fustian flag in mockery over slaves."
Judith Taylor was a fugitive from Louisville, Kentucky, where she had been the mother of eight children. Her husband was a slave upon the same plantation with herself. But, some fifteen years ago, her husband was sold into one of the cotton-growing States of America. Soon after his sale, two of her eldest children, a boy and a girl, were sold. This sudden separation from her of the eldest--those who more nearly made up for the absence of the father, added to that, nearly prostrated the old woman; for, although six children were left, they were still liable to be taken, and they were too young to fill the place of the eldest. At last the long-dreaded day arrived, and the owner, pretending to her to be obliged to sell, took three more of the children--the three, as he said, being such as the market demanded. The poor mother thought she could not possibly bear up under this later bereavement, but she determined to rely upon the goodness of God. That was all which could, in that trying hour, console her. Ah! "a wounded spirit, who can
bear?" But the grace promised helped her to buoy up her spirit, and at times, after a long interval, she would even seem cheerful. One day she went from home, leaving her dear children, and in due time returned, expecting to find them as they were left; when, alas! she found that they, too, had been taken, and her house left empty--desolate. She, at first, could not believe but that they were still upon the plantation, until she was told by some of her fellow-servants that the slave trader had been there, and had taken them away. When she heard the sad story, she was utterly prostrated, and she had no one near to offer her any consolation--no one to even offer her a drink of water. The next news which came to the old woman was that she herself was to be sold. She could not bear the thought that, at her age, she must go further south, for she knew she was not as able to labour as she had been. So she immediately devised means to enable her to cross the river, in order to reach the State of Indiana, which was just opposite the town in which she was then living. By the aid of kind coloured friends in Indiana she effected her purpose, and in the interior of a Quaker settlement was received as a sister. They gave her both food and raiment. She was hid about from place to place, among friends, until she reached Windsor, Canada West.
I met her in Sandwich-street one day, seeking a home. I took her to my house, and gave her all the comforts I
could. She told me of her losses, and the deep distress into which she had been thrown. I asked her if she could read. She replied in the negative. I said, "If I give you a book, will you learn?" She said she would try. She was furnished with a book, and she came to our Sabbath school, Sabbath after Sabbath, until she learned to read the New Testament. She now takes great pleasure in reading the Word of God. I am her pastor. Just before I left Windsor, she came to me, and with tears in her eyes, said, "My dear pastor, I have no money to give you; but I thank you for all you have done for me. I bless God I can now read His Word. It affords me great comfort, although I am now left alone in the world, old and grey-headed. I never shall see one of my children again. I thank the Lord that I have a home to go to, whether I am taken from this world sooner or later." With these words she bade me farewell, saying, "My prayers shall go with you for your success, and your safe return to us."
My reader, we have many such bereaved mothers of the South in Canada, and all over the United States of America. We meet with hundreds of such cases,--living "Rachels, weeping for their children, who will not be comforted because they are not." There are Jacobs who will go in sorrow to their graves--thousands of pilgrims wandering through forest and swamp, or hid in clefts of the rocks,--there are breaking hearts and fettered limbs--and, in the
name of God, we ask the Christian world to rise and help the bondman.
Who will not unite in saying--
"I pity the slave-mother, careworn and weary,
Who sighs as she presses her babe to her breast;
I lament her sad fate, all so hopeless and dreary,
I lament for her woes and her wrongs unredressed.
Oh! who can imagine her heart's deep emotion,
As she thinks of her children about to be sold--
You may picture the bounds of the rock-girdled ocean,
But the grief of that mother can never be told.
The mildew of slavery has blighted each blossom,
That ever has bloomed in her pathway below;
It has frozen each fountain that gushed in her bosom,
And chilled her heart's verdure with pitiless woe.
Her children, her kindred, all crushed by oppression,
Her husband still doomed in its desert to stay;
No arm to protect from the tyrant's aggression,
She must weep as she treads on her desolate way.
Oh, slave-mother, hope! see the nation is shaking!
The arm of the Lord is awake to thy wrong;
The slaveholder's heart now in terror is quaking,
Salvation and power to Heaven belong.
Rejoice, oh! rejoice! for the child thou art rearing,
May one day lift up its unmanacled form;
While hope, to thy heart like the rainbow so cheering,
Is born, like the rainbow, 'mid tempest and storm."
Myself and colleague, the Rev. Mr. Mitchell, have great reasons to speak of your generous kindness in aiding us in your liberal contributions to build our chapel and school accommodations in Windsor and Toronto, Canada West.
We shall never forget the warm reception we have had in all parts of the kingdom. Our hearts will be often filled with the sweetest recollections when we think of England,--the land of the free, and the home of the brave. I may here add, for the special information of all who have so liberally contributed towards our chapel and school in Windsor, that they are now nearly completed. One hundred and ten pounds would clear us of debt. This amount I hope I shall be able to realise soon, and return to my flock, who are daily praying for the completion of my work here, and safe return home. Any communications from friends will be received, if addressed 45, High-street,
Manchester, care of George Booth, Esq.--I may appropriately add, what I have so often stated, that "the number of the fugitive slaves in Canada is now upwards of forty thousand. They are scattered through the western province singly and in settlements, from Kingston, 160 miles below Toronto; to Amherstburgh and Colchester, 200 miles west of Toronto; and from Toronto eastward to St. Catherines, Suspension Bridge and Chippewa, a further distance of 80 miles. The number of souls in these settlements varies from a few families (as at Kingston) to 200 families (as in the Elgin settlement), and 300 or 400 families (as in Colchester). They are increasing every year by about 2,000 new accessions from the land of bondage. Some have come fifteen hundred miles, travelling at night and hiding by day, for freedom. Coming stripped of nearly everything, many need, in the beginning, a helping hand extended to them. But, generally speaking, the fugitive slaves are pleased to obtain labour, and to thus become self-sustaining, so far as their physical wants are concerned. It is believed that nine-tenths of the fugitives have received no aid for their physical wants from any source whatever, but have been able, by God's blessing, to sustain themselves. For the religious, moral, intellectual, and social improvement of these forty thousand escaped slaves, efforts are made, and must be continued, to furnish them the three means most
potent to these ends, namely, the church, the school, and the press.
There is another part of the same work to which, in conclusion, I would beg to call attention. It is the donation of books, religious and miscellaneous, especially for my own people in Windsor. By a little effort of this kind I am convinced much good may done, and I would be pleased to be made the recipient of such donations for my people. In Manchester they can be handed to me or Mr. Booth, the treasurer before-named; and in places where I have held public meetings, or preached, doubtless many of the ministers, or other friends, would be willing to receive them for me.
DEAR BROTHER, --I have read with interest, over increasing, the manuscript of the little book which you now send forth upon the wave of public opinion. As is said so well in the preface by Rev. Mr. Mursell, the facts cannot fail to excite new interest in our cause. By consequence, there must be new interest in yourself; and I rejoice to know, from long acquaintance, that that interest will be well bestowed. It is an honour to you to have written this book, because of the difficulties which I know you have been obliged to surmount; but it is much greater honour that you have been an actor in the thrilling scenes described,--that, disregarding a false law and a false gospel, you were able to point the traveller on his weary way to Liberty, and thus to clothe Thing-hood with Man-hood.
I know the efficiency of your pastoral and other labours at home, and I look forward with interest to the time when, having each accomplished our several missions to this country, we can resume, at home, the laborious but blessed work of lifting men not merely from chains, but, by God's blessing, up to the light of the glorious Gospel of the Son of God.
With a heart full of good wishes for your success in your present needed work, and a happy re-union with your family and flock,
I beg to remain,
As over, for Liberty,
WILLIAM HOWARD DAY.Rev. William Troy.
The Rev. Mr. Troy is pastor of a church at Windsor, Upper Canada, which is entirely composed of fugitive slaves. That town is the one to which the larger portion of the slaves who succeed in effecting their escape from the States make their way. The case on this ground has strong claims on our sympathy. The credentials brought by Mr. Troy, both from Canada and from well known gentlemen in England, are of the highest character. The case is a good case, and the man is a true man.
I cordially agree in the above. ALEXANDER MONRO, D.D.
Ditto. PATRICK THOMSON.
Ditto. ALEXANDER THOMSON.
Ditto. ARTHUR MURSELL.
Ditto. RICHARD CHENDRY.
Ditto. WM. M'KERROW, D.D.
Mr. Troy, having been introduced to me by Mr. Mursell, of Manchester, I beg most cordially to recommend his case.
R. B. SHERRING, Ashley Place.
From private communications from London, as also from the testimonials possessed by Mr. Troy, I have great pleasure in commending his case to the sympathy and help of Christian friends.
I heartily join in recommending the case for which Mr. Troy is soliciting contributions.
F. W. GOTCH.Sept. 6, 1860.
I have examined this case, and it is certainly a good one, and from the strong recommendations which Mr. Troy brings, I feel confidence in him.
THOMAS S. CRISP.
From the testimonials of Mr. Troy's usefulness in the Lord's work, in his peculiar situation, I have great pleasure in uniting with my brethren in recommending his case to the benevolence of the friends of the Redeemer.
I look upon Mr. Troy and his case as most worthy of the support and sympathy of the Christian public.
I consider the spiritual interests of those to whom Mr. Troy has been devoting his labours to be specially deserving of the sympathy of English Christians.
JOHN PENNY.Sept. 6, 1860.
A case thoroughly well deserving support.
Every Englishman must feel interested in the welfare of a congregation of fugitive slaves. I gladly add my name to the foregoing.
I join very cordially in recommending this very interesting case.
I cordially unite with my brethren in commending Mr. Troy to the sympathy and liberality of Bristol Christians.
A kind Providence now affords the Christian Church an opportunity of manifesting their sympathy towards their fellow Christians in Canada West. I have great pleasure in commending this interesting case.
Mr. Troy preached for us twice, to crowded congregations. Earnest in manner, eloquent in delivery, and often thrilling in narration, we found it a treat to hear him. His denunciations of the slavish system, and his exposure of its enormous evils, made us feel how deeply the "iron had entered into his own soul," and produced in us an increased hatred towards a traffic so inhuman. We heartily wish him "God speed" in his God-like mission.
Pastor of the Baptist Church, Golcar.
We have every confidence in Bro. W. Troy, pastor of the church in Windsor, C. W., and we cordially approve of the object for which he is now collecting funds, viz., the erection of a chapel for the coloured Baptist Church at Windsor.
W. S. HALL,
AID TO THE FUGITIVE SLAVE.--Last evening, a moderately-attended meeting was held in Grosvenor-street Independent Chapel, to aid in the establishment of schools and chapels for fugitive slaves in Canada; the Rev. P. Thomson presided. After the customary devotional exercises, the Rev. Mr. Troy, a coloured minister, who has laboured for some years amongst the fugitive
population of Canada West, addressed the meeting on the state of his brethren in that district, and also in the States. Mr. Troy is a young man, fluent and graceful as a speaker.
FREE NEGRO SETTLEMENTS IN CANADA.--A kind of new Liberia has arisen in Canada, in which a large number of the negro race are finding a refuge from the slave states of America. One of the settlements is at New Windsor, in Western Canada, and in this locality a church has been organised for the coloured emigrants, the Rev. Mr. Troy, a gentleman of colour, being the minister. Mr. Troy is a good specimen of the educated man of colour. He was born into freedom; and although having thus had no experience in his own person of the miseries of slavery, he has, from inclination and sympathy with the race from which he has sprung, engaged heartily in the work of ministering to their spiritual wants, and aiding in their social elevation. Another free coloured society is established at Toronto, presided over by the Rev. Wm. Mitchell. Messrs. Troy and Mitchell have been in this country, soliciting the aid of the religious and benevolent public for he erection of chapels and schools. They are recommended by Chief Justice Robinson, of Toronto. Dr. Willis, of the Presbyterian College, and the ministers of several towns in England and Scotland, have identified themselves fully with the object. Mr. Troy is now in Manchester; and as will be seen, is to give information regarding the coloured population of Canada, at Grosvenor-street Chapel, Piccadilly, to-morrow evening. His object will be advocated by several of our best known ministers, who are satisfied that it is a good one.
THE FUGITIVE SLAVES IN CANADA.--A highly-interesting and enthusiastic meeting, sympathising with the fugitive slaves who have found a safe retreat in British North America, was held on Thursday night, May 31, in the Baptist Chapel, Charles-street,
Leicester. The Rev. William Troy, coloured minister, Windsor, Canada West, gave an affecting exposition of the slave code of the United States of America, a graphic account of the escape of several slaves, and earnestly appealed for such assistance as would enable his people to erect a chapel and schoolroom, in which they might comfortably carry on the cause of Christ. The following resolutions were unanimously adopted:--1. "That this meeting, believing slavery to be repugnant to the spirit and teaching of the Word of God, and an outrage on the rights of man, view with abhorrence that form of it which exists in the United States of America, and especially the conduct of those abettors of it who profess the Christian religion." 2. "That this meeting, recognising the right of the slave to escape from his unlawful master, and the duty of Christians in Canada to receive and shelter such as reach their land of freedom, cordially sympathise with the Rev. William Troy in his endeavours to ameliorate their condition, and wish him 'God speed.' "
THE FUGITIVE COLOURED BRETHREN IN CANADA.--Our readers will remember our having mentioned, in a previous number, that Messrs. Mitchell and Troy, two coloured brethren from Canada, had arrived in this country for the purpose of soliciting aid in the erection of chapel and school accommodation in their respective spheres of labour. They were at that time visiting Scotland, where they were most kindly received; and they have since been in various parts of that country and in the north of England, presenting their claims. They have now arrived in London, where they purpose calling on a number of brethren, and whence they purpose to visit other places as they have opportunity. We have pleasure in recommending their case to the sympathy of all who are interested in the advancement of the coloured race. They bring with them the highest credentials from Canada, and they have obtained in this country the recommendation of a number of Scottish brethren, whose names have been formerly mentioned, as well as of Mr. Hinton, Mr. Trestrail, Dr. Davies,
Dr. James Hamilton, and others, in London. We have no doubt they will be cordially received; we trust they will take back with them some substantial proof of the interest of English Christians in their coloured brethren, especially in those who, having escaped from American bondage, have placed themselves under the protection of British law.
A COLOURED MINISTER.--During the past month or two the Rev. W. Troy, a coloured minister from Canada West, one of the British possessions on the American continent, has paid several visits to this town and attracted crowded audiences to listen to his eloquent discourses. Last Sunday morning, the rev. gentleman preached at Victoria Road Chapel, and took his text from the 119th Psalm, and the 165th verse--"Great peace have they which love thy Law, and nothing shall offend them." The sermon was a clear, masterly exposition of the principles involved in the words of the Psalmist, exhibiting care and ability in its preparation. There was a numerous congregation present.
INDEPENDENT CHAPEL.--On Sunday the Rev. Wm. Troy, of Canada, delivered three eloquent discourses in the school-room, where the services are held during the chapel repairs. The audiences were tolerably good, considering the inclement weather, and listened to with much attention, especially when the cause of the fugitive slave was advocated. Mr. Troy is on a visit to this country to seek to raise funds for the erection of a chapel and school for the use of slaves who have escaped to Canada from the oppression of the southern states.
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