By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton - For Four Years and Four Months a Prisoner (For Charity's Sake) in Washington Jail
Author: Drayton, Daniel
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton - For Four Years and Four Months a Prisoner (For Charity's Sake) in Washington Jail" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: _Daniel Drayton_]


For Four Years And Four Months


Including A Narrative Of The


    We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men
    are created equal; that they are endowed by their
    Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among
    these are life, _liberty_, and the pursuit of happiness.



Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 1853, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of


Considering the large share of the public attention which the case of
the schooner Pearl attracted at the time of its occurrence, perhaps the
following narrative of its origin, and of its consequences to himself,
by the principal actor in it, may not be without interest. It is proper
to state that a large share of the profits of the sale are secured to
Captain Drayton, the state of whose health incapacitates him from any
laborious employment.


I was born in the year 1802, in Cumberland County, Downs Township, in
the State of New Jersey, on the shores of Nantuxet Creek, not far from
Delaware Bay, into which that creek flows. My father was a farmer,--not
a very profitable occupation in that barren part of the country. My
mother was a widow at the time of her marriage with my father, having
three children by a former husband. By my father she had six more, of
whom I was the youngest but one. She was a woman of strong mind and
marked character, a zealous member of the Methodist church; and,
although I had the misfortune to lose her at an early age, her
instructions--though the effect was not apparent at the moment--made a
deep impression on my youthful mind, and no doubt had a very sensible
influence over my future life.

Just previous to, or during the war with Great Britain, my father
removed still nearer to the shore of the bay, and the sight of the
vessels passing up and down inspired me with a desire to follow the life
of a waterman; but it was some years before I was able to gratify this
wish. I well remember the alarm created in our neighborhood by the
incursions of the British vessels up the bay during the war, and that,
at these times, the women of the neighborhood used to collect at our
house, as if looking up to my mother for counsel and guidance.

I was only twelve years old when this good mother died; but, so strong
was the impression which she left upon my memory, that, amid the
struggles and dangers and cares of my subsequent life, I have seldom
closed my eyes to sleep without some thought or image of her.

As my father soon after married another widow, with four small children,
it became necessary to make room in the house for their accommodation;
and, with a younger brother of mine, I was bound out an apprentice in a
cotton and woollen factory at a place called Cedarville. Manufactures
were just then beginning to be introduced into the country, and great
hopes were entertained of them as a profitable business. My
employer,--or bos, as we called him,--had formerly been a schoolmaster,
and he did not wholly neglect our instructions in other things besides
cotton-spinning. Of this I stood greatly in need; for there were no
public schools in the neighborhood in which I was born, and my parents
had too many children to feed and clothe to be able to pay much for
schooling. We were required on Sundays, by our employer, to learn two
lessons, one in the forenoon, the other in the afternoon; after reciting
which we were left at liberty to roam at our pleasure. Winter evenings
we worked in the factory till nine o'clock, after which, and before
going to bed, we were required to recite over one of our lessons These
advantages of education were not great, but even these I soon lost.
Within five months from the time I was bound to him, my employer died.
The factories were then sold out to three partners. The one who carried
on the cotton-spinning took me; but he soon gave up the business, and
went back to farming, which had been his original occupation. I remained
with him for a year and a half, or thereabouts, when my father bound me
out apprentice to a shoe-maker.

My new bos was, in some respects, a remarkable man, but not a very good
sort of one for a boy to be bound apprentice to. He paid very little
attention to his business, which he seemed to think unworthy of his
genius. He was a kind-hearted man, fond of company and frolics, in which
he indulged himself freely, and much given to speeches and harangues, in
which he had a good deal of fluency. In religion he professed to be a
Universalist, holding to doctrines and opinions very different from
those which my mother had instilled into me. He ridiculed those
opinions, and argued against them, but without converting me to his way
of thinking; though, as far as practice went, I was ready enough to
imitate his example. My Sundays were spent principally in taverns,
playing at dominos, which then was, and still is, a favorite game in
that part of the country; and, as the unsuccessful party was expected to
treat, I at times ran up a bill at the bar as high as four or six
dollars,--no small indebtedness for a young apprentice with no more
means than I had.

As I grew older this method of living grew less and less satisfactory
to me; and as I saw that no good of any kind, not even a knowledge of
the trade he had undertaken to teach me, was to be got of my present
bos, I bought my time of him, and went to work with another man to pay
for it. Before I had succeeded in doing that, and while I was not yet
nineteen, I took upon myself the still further responsibility of
marriage. This was a step into which I was led rather by the impulse of
youthful passion than by any thoughtful foresight. Yet it had at least
this advantage, that it obliged me to set diligently to work to provide
for the increasing family which I soon found growing up around me.

I had never liked the shoe-making business, to which my father had bound
me an apprentice. I had always desired to follow the water. The vessels
which I had seen sailing up and down the Delaware Bay still haunted my
fancy; and I engaged myself as cook on board a sloop, employed in
carrying wood from Maurice river to Philadelphia. Promotion in this line
is sufficiently rapid; for in four months, after commencing as cook, I
rose to be captain. This wood business, in which I remained for two
years, is carried on by vessels of from thirty to sixty tons, known as
_bay-craft_. They are built so as to draw but little water, which is
their chief distinction from the _coasters_, which are fit for the open
sea. They will carry from twenty-five to fifty cords of wood, on which a
profit is expected of a dollar and upwards. They have usually about
three hands, the captain, or skipper, included. The men used to be
hired, when I entered the business, for eight or ten dollars the month,
but they now get nearly or quite twice as much. The captain usually
sails the vessel on shares (unless he is himself owner in whole, or in
part), victualling the vessel and hiring the men, and paying over to the
owner forty dollars out of every hundred. During the winter, from
December to March, the navigation is impeded by ice, and the bay-craft
seldom run. The men commonly spend this long vacation in visiting,
husking-frolics, rabbiting, and too often in taverns, to the exhaustion
of their purses, the impoverishment of their families, and the sacrifice
of their sobriety. Yet the watermen, if many of them are not able always
to resist the temptations held out to them, are in general an honest and
simple-hearted set, though with little education, and sometimes rather
rough in their manners. The extent of my education when I took to the
water--and in this respect I was not, perhaps, much inferior to the
generality of my brother watermen--was to read with no great fluency,
and to sign my name; nor did I ever learn much more than this till my
residence in Washington jail, to be related hereafter.

Having followed the wood business for two years, I aspired to something
a little higher, and obtained the command of a sloop engaged in the
coasting business, from Philadelphia southward and eastward. At this
time a sloop of sixty tons was considered a very respectable coaster.
The business is now mostly carried on by vessels of a larger class;
some of them, especially the regular lines of packets, being very
handsome and expensive. The terms on which these coasters were sailed
were very similar to those already stated in the case of the bay-craft.
The captain victualled the vessel, and paid the hands, and received for
his share half the net profits, after deducting the extra expenses of
loading and unloading. It was in this coasting business that the best
years of my life were spent, during which time I visited most of the
ports and rivers between Savannah southward, and St. John, in the
British province of New Brunswick, eastward;--those two places forming
the extreme limits of my voyagings. As Philadelphia was the port from
and to which I sailed, I presently found it convenient to remove my
family thither, and there they continued to live till after my release
from the Washington prison.

I was so successful in my new business, that, besides supporting my
family, I was able to become half owner of the sloop Superior, at an
expense of over a thousand dollars, most of which I paid down. But this
proved a very unfortunate investment. On her second trip after I had
bought into her, returning from Baltimore to Philadelphia by the way of
the Delaware and Chesapeake canal, while off the mouth of the
Susquehannah, she struck, as I suppose, a sunken tree, brought down by a
heavy freshet in that river. The water flowed fast into the cabin. It
was in vain that I attempted to run her ashore. She sunk in five
minutes. The men saved themselves in the boat, which was on deck, and
which floated as she went down. I stood by the rudder till the last, and
stepped off it into the boat, loath enough to leave my vessel, on which
there was no insurance.

By this unfortunate accident I lost everything except the clothes I had
on, and was obliged to commence anew. I accordingly obtained the command
of the new sloop Sarah Henry, of seventy tons burden, and continued to
sail her for several years, on shares. While in her I made a voyage to
Savannah; and while under sail from that city for Charleston, I was
taken with the yellow fever. I lay for a week quite unconscious of
anything that was going on about me and came as near dying as a man
could do and escape. The religious instructions of my mother had from
time to time recurred to my mind, and had occasioned me some anxiety. I
was now greatly alarmed at the idea of dying in my sins, from which I
seemed to have escaped so narrowly. My mind was possessed with this
fear; and, to relieve myself from it, I determined, if it were a
possible thing, to get religion at any rate. The idea of religion in
which I had been educated was that of a sudden, miraculous change, in
which a man felt himself relieved from the burden of his sins, united to
God, and made a new creature. For this experience I diligently sought,
and tried every way to get it. I set up family prayers in my house, went
to meetings, and conversed with experienced members of the church; but,
for nine months or more, all to no purpose. At length I got into an
awful state, beginning to think that I had been so desperate a sinner
that there was no forgiveness for me. While I was in this miserable
condition, I heard of a camp-meeting about to be held on Cape May, and I
immediately resolved to attend it, and to leave no stone unturned to
accomplish the object which I had so much at heart. I went accordingly,
and yielded myself entirely up to the dictation of those who had the
control of the meeting. I did in everything as I was told; went into the
altar, prayed, and let them pray over me. This went on for several days
without any result. One evening, as I approached the altar, and was
looking into it, I met a captain of my acquaintance, and asked him what
he thought of these proceedings; and, as he seemed to approve them, I
invited him to go into the altar with me. We both went in accordingly,
and knelt down. Pretty soon my friend got up and walked away, saying he
had got religion. I did not find it so easily. I remained at the altar,
praying, till after the meeting broke up, and even till one o'clock,--a
few acquaintances and others remaining with me, and praying round me,
and over me, and for me;--till, at last, thinking that I had done
everything I could, I told them pray no more, as evidently there was no
forgiveness for me. So I withdrew to a distance, and sat down upon an
old tree, lamenting my hard case very seriously. I was sure I had
committed the unpardonable sin. A friend, who sat down beside me, and of
whom I inquired what he supposed the unpardonable sin was, endeavored
comfort me by suggesting that, whatever it might be, it would take more
sense and learning than ever I had to commit it. But I would not enter
into his merriment. All the next day, which was Sunday, I passed in a
most miserable state. I went into the woods alone. I did not think
myself worthy or fit to associate with those who had religion, while I
was anxious to avoid the company of those who made light of it.
Sometimes I would sit down, sometimes I would stand up, sometimes I
would walk about. Frequently I prayed, but found no comfort in it.

About sun-set I met a friend, who said to me, "Well, our camp-meeting is
about ended." What a misery those few words struck to my heart! "About
ended!" I said to myself; "about ended, and I not converted!" A little
later, as I was passing along the camp-ground, I saw a woman before me
kneeling and praying. An acquaintance of mine, who was approaching her
in an opposite direction, called out to me, "Daniel, help me pray for
this woman!" I had made up my mind to make one more effort, and I knelt
down and commenced praying; but quite as much for myself as for her.
Others gathered about us and joined in, and the interest and excitement
became so great, that, after a vain effort to call us off, the regular
services of the evening were dispensed with, and the ground was left to
us. Things went on in this way till about nine o'clock, when, as
suddenly as if I had been struck a heavy blow, I felt a remarkable
change come over me. All my fears and terrors seemed to be
instantaneously removed, and my whole soul to be filled with joy and
peace. This was the sort of change which I had been taught to look for
as the consequence of getting that religion for which I had been
struggling so hard. I instantly rose up, and told those about me that I
was a converted man; and from that moment I was able to sing and shout
and pray with the best of them. In the midst of my exultation who should
come up but my old master in the shoe-making trade, of whom I have
already given some account. He had heard that I was on the camp-ground
in pursuit of religion, and had come to find me out. "Daniel," he said,
addressing me by my Christian name, "what are you doing here? Don't make
a fool of yourself." To which I answered, that I had got to be just such
a fool as I had long wanted to be; and I took him by the arm, and
endeavored to prevail upon him to kneel down and allow us to pray over
him, assuring him that I knew his convictions to be much better than his
conduct; that he must get religion, and now was the time. But he drew
back, and escaped from me, with promises to do better, which, however,
he did not keep.

As for myself, considering, and, as I thought, feeling that I was a
converted man, I now enjoyed for some time an extraordinary
satisfaction, a sort of offset to the months of agony and misery which I
had previously endured. But, though regarding myself as now truly
converted, I delayed some time before uniting myself with any particular
church. I did not know which to join. This division into so many
hostile sects seemed to me unaccountable. I thought that all good
Christians should love each other, and be as one family. Yet it seemed
necessary to unite myself with some body of Christians; and, as I had
been educated a Methodist, I concluded to join them.

I have given the account of my religious experience exactly as it seemed
to me at the time, and as I now remember it. It corresponded with the
common course of religious experiences in the Methodist church, except
that with me the struggle was harder than commonly happens. I did not
doubt at the time that it was truly a supernatural change, as much the
work of the Spirit as the sudden conversions recorded in the Acts of the
Apostles. Others can form their own opinion about it. I will only add
that subsequent experience has led me to the belief that the reality of
a man's religion is more to be judged of by what he does than by how he
feels or what he says.

The change which had taken place in me, however it is to be regarded,
was not without a decided influence on my whole future life. I no longer
considered myself as living for myself alone. I regarded myself as bound
to do unto others as I would that they should do unto me; and it was in
attempting to act up to this principle that I became involved in the
difficulties to be hereafter related.

Meanwhile I resumed my voyages in the Sarah Henry, in which I continued
to sail, on shares, for several years, with tolerable success.
Afterwards I followed the same business in the schooner Protection, in
which I suffered another shipwreck. We sailed from Philadelphia to
Washington, in the District of Columbia, laden with coal, proceeding
down the Delaware, and by the open sea; but, when off the entrance of
the Chesapeake, we encountered a heavy gale, which split the sails,
swept the decks, and drove us off our course as far south as Ocracoke
Inlet, on the coast of North Carolina. I took a pilot, intending to go
in to repair damages; but, owing to the strength of the current, which
defeated his calculations, the pilot ran us on the bar. As soon as the
schooner's bow touched the ground, she swung round broadside to the sea,
which immediately began to break over her in a fearful manner. She
filled immediately,--everything on deck was swept away; and, as our only
chance of safety, we took to the main-rigging. This was about seven
o'clock in the evening. Towards morning, by reason of the continual
thumping, the mainmast began to work through the vessel, and to settle
in the sand, so that it became necessary for us to make our way to the
fore-rigging; which we did, not without danger, as one of the men was
twice washed off.

About a quarter of a mile inside was a small, low island, on which lay
five boats, each manned by five men, who had come down to our
assistance; but the surf was so high that they did not venture to
approach us; so we remained clinging with difficulty to the rigging till
about half-past one, when the schooner went to pieces. The mast to which
we were clinging fell, and we were precipitated into the raging surf,
which swept us onward towards the island already mentioned. The men
there, anticipating what had happened, had prepared for its occurrence;
and the best swimmers, with ropes tied round their waists, the other end
of which was held by those on shore, plunged in to our assistance. One
of our unfortunate company was drowned,--the rest of us came safely to
the shore; but we lost everything except the clothes we stood in. The
fragments saved from the wreck were sold at auction for two hundred
dollars. The people of that neighborhood treated us with great kindness,
and we presently took the packet for Elizabeth city, whence I proceeded
to Norfolk, Baltimore, and so home.

I had made up my mind to go to sea no more; but, after remaining on
shore for three weeks, and not finding anything else to do, as it was
necessary for me to have the means of supporting my increasing family, I
took the command of another vessel, belonging to the same owners, the
sloop Joseph B. While in this vessel, my voyages were to the eastward. I
was engaged in the flour-trade, in conjunction with the owners of the
vessel. We bought flour and grain on a sixty days' credit, which I
carried to the Kennebec, Portsmouth, Boston, New Bedford, and other
eastern ports, calculating upon the returns of the voyage to take up our
notes. I was so successful in this business as finally to become the
owner of the Joseph B., which vessel I exchanged away at Portsmouth for
the Sophronia, a top-sail schooner of one hundred and sixty tons, worth
about fourteen hundred dollars. In this vessel I made two trips to
Boston,--one with coal, and the other with timber. Having unloaded my
timber, I took in a hundred tons of plaster, purchased on my own
account, intending to dispose of it in the Susquehanna. But on the
passage I encountered a heavy storm, which blew the masts out of the
vessel, and drove her ashore on the south side of Long Island. We saved
our lives; but I lost everything except one hundred and sixty dollars,
for which I sold what was left of the vessel and cargo.

Having returned to my family, with but little disposition to try my
fortune again in the coasting-trade, one day, being in the horse-market,
I purchased a horse and wagon; and, taking in my wife and some of the
younger children, I went to pay a visit to the neighborhood in which I
was born. Here I traded for half of a bay-craft, of about sixty tons
burden, in which I engaged in the oyster-trade, and other small
bay-traffic. Having met at Baltimore the owner of the other half, I
bought him out also. The whole craft stood me in about seven hundred
dollars. I then purchased three hundred bushels of potatoes, with which
I sailed for Fredericksburg, in Virginia; but this proved a losing trip,
the potatoes not selling for what they cost me. At Fredericksburg I took
in flour on freight for Norfolk; but my ill-luck still pursued me. In
unloading the vessel, the cargo forward being first taken out, she
settled by the stern and sprang a leak, damaging fifteen barrels of
flour, which were thrown upon my hands. I then sailed for the eastern
shore of Virginia, and at a place called Cherrystone traded off my
damaged flour for a cargo of pears, with which I sailed for New York. I
proceeded safely as far as Barnegat, when I encountered a north-east
storm, which drove me back into the Delaware, obliging me to seek refuge
in the same Maurice river from which I had commenced my sea-faring life
in the wood business. But by this time the pears were spoiled, and I was
obliged to throw them overboard. At Cherrystone I had met the owner of a
pilot-boat, who had seemed disposed to trade with me for my vessel; and
I now returned to that place, and completed the trade; after which I
loaded the pilot-boat with oysters and terrapins, and sailed for
Philadelphia. This boat was an excellent sailer, but too sharp, and not
of burden enough for my business; and I soon exchanged her for half a
little sloop, in which I carried a load of water-melons to Baltimore.

By this time I was pretty well sick of the water; and, having hired out
the sloop, I set up a shop, at Philadelphia, for the purchase and sale
of junk, old iron, &c. &c. But, after continuing in this business for
about two years,--my health being bad, and the doctor having advised me
to try the water again,--I bought half of another sloop, and engaged in
trading up and down Chesapeake Bay. Returning home, towards the close of
the season, with the proceeds of the summer's business, I encountered,
in the upper part of Chesapeake Bay, a terrible snow-storm which proved
fatal to many vessels then in the bay. In attempting to make a harbor,
the vessel struck the ground, and knocked off her rudder; and, in order
to get her off, we were obliged to throw over the deck-load. We drifted
about all day, it still blowing and snowing, and at night let go both
anchors. So we lay for a night and a day; but, having neither boat,
rudder nor provisions, I was finally obliged to slip the anchors and run
ashore. I sold my half of her, as she lay, for ninety dollars, which was
all that remained to me of my investment and my summer's work.

Not having the means to purchase a boat, my health also continuing quite
infirm, the next summer I hired one, and continued the same trade up and
down the bay which I had followed the previous summer.

My trading up and down the bay, in the way which I have described, of
course brought me a good deal into contact with the slave population. No
sooner, indeed, does a vessel, known to be from the north, anchor in any
of these waters--and the slaves are pretty adroit in ascertaining from
what state a vessel comes--than she is boarded, if she remains any
length of time, and especially over night, by more or less of them, in
hopes of obtaining a passage in her to a land of freedom. During my
earlier voyagings, several years before, in Chesapeake Bay, I had turned
a deaf ear to all these requests. At that time, according to an idea
still common enough, I had regarded the negroes as only fit to be
slaves, and had not been inclined to pay much attention to the pitiful
tales which they told me of ill-treatment by their masters and
mistresses. But my views upon this subject had undergone a gradual
change. I knew it was asserted in the Declaration of Independence that
all men are born free and equal, and I had read in the Bible that God
had made of one flesh all the nations of the earth. I had found out, by
intercourse with the negroes, that they had the same desires, wishes and
hopes, as myself. I knew very well that I should not like to be a slave
even to the best of masters, and still less to such sort of masters as
the greater part of the slaves seemed to have. The idea of having first
one child and then another taken from me, as fast as they grew large
enough, and handed over to the slave-traders, to be carried I knew not
where, and sold, if they were girls, I knew not for what purposes, would
have been horrible enough; and, from instances which came to my notice,
I perceived that it was not less horrible and distressing to the parties
concerned in the case of black people than of white ones. I had never
read any abolition books, nor heard any abolition lectures. I had
frequented only Methodist meetings, and nothing was heard there about
slavery. But, for the life of me, I could not perceive why the golden
rule of doing to others as you would wish them to do to you did not
apply to this case. Had I been a slave myself,--and it is not a great
while since the Algerines used to make slaves of our sailors, white as
well as black,--I should have thought it very right and proper in
anybody who would have ventured to assist me in escaping out of bondage;
and the more dangerous it might have been to render such assistance,
the more meritorious I should have thought the act to be. Why had not
these black people, so anxious to escape from their masters, as good a
light to their liberty as I had to mine?

I know it is sometimes said, by those who defend slavery or apologize
for it, that the slaves at the south are very happy and contented, if
left to themselves, and that this idea of running away is only put into
their heads by mischievous white people from the north. This will do
very well for those who know nothing of the matter personally, and who
are anxious to listen to any excuse. But there is not a waterman who
ever sailed in Chesapeake Bay who will not tell you that, so far from
the slaves needing any prompting to run away, the difficulty is, when
they ask you to assist them, to make them take no for an answer. I have
known instances where men have lain in the woods for a year or two,
waiting for an opportunity to escape on board some vessel. On one of my
voyages up the Potomac, an application was made to me on behalf of such
a runaway; and I was so much moved by his story, that, had it been
practicable for me at that time, I should certainly have helped him off.
One or two attempts I did make to assist the flight of some of those who
sought my assistance; but none with success, till the summer of 1847,
which is the period to which I have brought down my narrative.

I was employed during that summer, as I have mentioned already in
trading up and down the Chesapeake, in a hired boat, a small black boy
being my only assistant. Among other trips, I went to Washington with a
cargo of oysters. While I was lying there, at the same wharf, as it
happened, from which the Pearl afterwards took her departure, a colored
man came on board, and, observing that I seemed to be from the north, he
said he supposed we were pretty much all abolitionists there. I don't
know where he got this piece of information, but I think it likely from
some southern member of Congress. As I did not check him, but rather
encouraged him to go on, he finally told me that he wanted to get
passage to the north for a woman and five children. The husband of the
woman, and father of the children, was a free colored man; and the
woman, under an agreement with her master, had already more than paid
for her liberty; but, when she had asked him for a settlement, he had
only answered by threatening to sell her. He begged me to see the woman,
which I did; and finally I made an arrangement to take them away. Their
bedding, and other things, were sent down on board the vessel in open
day, and at night the woman came on board with her five children and a
niece. We were ten days in reaching Frenchtown, where the husband was in
waiting for them. He took them under his charge, and I saw them no more;
but, since my release from imprisonment in Washington, I have heard that
the whole family are comfortably established in a free country, and
doing well.

Having accomplished this exploit,--and was it not something of an
exploit to bestow the invaluable gift of liberty upon seven of one's
fellow-creatures--the season being now far advanced, I gave up the boat
to the owner, and returned to my family at Philadelphia. In the course
of the following month of February, I received a note from a person whom
I had never known or heard of before, desiring me to call at a certain
place named in it. I did so, when it appeared that I had been heard of
through the colored family which I had brought off from Washington. A
letter from that city was read to me, relating the case of a family or
two who expected daily and hourly to be sold, and desiring assistance to
get them away. It was proposed to me to undertake this enterprise; but I
declined it at this time, as I had no vessel, and because the season was
too early for navigation through the canal. I saw the same person again
about a fortnight later, and finally arranged to go on to Washington, to
see what could be done. There I agreed to return again so soon as I
could find a vessel fit for the enterprise. I spoke with several persons
of my acquaintance, who had vessels under their control; but they
declined, on account of the danger. They did not appear to have any
other objection, and seemed to wish me success. Passing along the
street, I met Captain Sayres, and knowing that he was sailing a small
bay-craft, called the Pearl, and learning from him that business was
dull with him, I proposed the enterprise to him, offering him one
hundred dollars for the charter of his vessel to Washington and back to
Frenchtown where, according to the arrangement with the friends of the
passengers, they were to be met and carried to Philadelphia. This was
considerably more than the vessel could earn in any ordinary trip of the
like duration, and Sayres closed with the offer. He fully understood the
nature of the enterprise. By our bargain, I was to have, as supercargo,
the control of the vessel so far as related to her freight, and was to
bring away from Washington such passengers as I chose to receive on
board; but the control of the vessel in other respects remained with
him. Captain Sayres engaged in this enterprise merely as a matter of
business. I, too, was to be paid for my time and trouble,--an offer
which the low state of my pecuniary affairs, and the necessity of
supporting my family, did not allow me to decline. But this was not, by
any means, my sole or principal motive. I undertook it out of sympathy
for the enslaved, and from my desire to do something to further the
cause of universal liberty. Such being the different ground upon which
Sayres and myself stood, I did not think it necessary or expedient to
communicate to him the names of the persons with whom the expedition had
originated; and, at my suggestion, those persons abstained from any
direct communication with him, either at Philadelphia or Washington.
Sayres had, as cook and sailor, on board the Pearl, a young man named
Chester English. He was married, and had a child or two, but was himself
as inexperienced as a child, having never been more than thirty miles
from the place where he was born. I remonstrated with Sayres against
taking this young man with us. But English, pleased with the idea of
seeing Washington, desired to go; and Sayres, who had engaged him for
the season, did not like to part with him. He went with us, but was kept
in total ignorance of the real object of the voyage. He had the idea
that we were going to Washington for a load of ship-timber.

We proceeded down the Delaware, and by the canal into the Chesapeake,
making for the mouth of the Potomac. As we ascended that river we
stopped at a place called Machudock, where I purchased, by way of cargo
and cover to the voyage, twenty cords of wood; and with that freight on
board we proceeded to Washington, where we arrived on the evening of
Thursday, the 13th of April, 1848.

As it happened, we found that city in a great state of excitement on the
subject of emancipation, liberty and the rights of man. A grand
torch-light procession was on foot, in honor of the new French
revolution, the expulsion of Louis-Philippe, and the establishment of a
republic in France. Bonfires were blazing in the public squares, and a
great out-door meeting was being held in front of the _Union_ newspaper
office, at which very enthusiastic and exciting speeches were delivered,
principally by southern democratic members of Congress, which body was
at that time in session. A full account of these proceedings, with
reports of the speeches, was given in the _Union_ of the next day.
According to this report, Mr. Foote, the senator from Mississippi,
extolled the French revolution as holding out "to the whole family of
man a bright promise of the universal establishment of civil and
religious liberty." He declared, in the same speech, "that the age of
tyrants and of slavery was rapidly drawing to a close, and that the
happy period to be signalized by the _universal emancipation_ of man
from the fetters of civic oppression, and the recognition in all
countries of the great principles of popular sovereignty, equality and
brotherhood, was at this moment visibly commencing." Mr. Stanton, of
Tennessee, and others, spoke in a strain equally fervid and
philanthropic. I am obliged to refer to the _Union_ newspaper for an
account of these speeches, as I did not hear them myself. I came to
Washington, not to preach, nor to hear preached, emancipation, equality
and brotherhood, but to put them into practice. Sayres and English went
up to see the procession and hear the speeches. I had other things to
attend to.

The news of my arrival soon spread among those who had been expecting
it, though I neither saw nor had any direct communication with any of
those who were to be my passengers. I had some difficulty in disposing
of my wood, which was not a very first-rate article, but finally sold
it, taking in payment the purchaser's note on sixty days, which I
changed off for half cash and half provisions. As the trader to whom I
passed the note had no hard bread, Sayres and myself went in the steamer
to Alexandria to purchase a barrel,--a circumstance of which it was
afterwards attempted to take advantage against us.

It was arranged that the passengers should come on board after dark on
Saturday evening, and that we should sail about midnight. I had
understood that the expedition, had principally originated in the desire
to help off a certain family, consisting of a woman, nine children and
two grand-children, who were believed to be legally entitled to their
liberty. Their case had been in litigation for some time; but, although
they had a very good case,--the lawyer whom they employed (Mr. Bradley,
one of the most distinguished members of the bar of the district)
testified, in the course of one of my trials, that he believed them to
be legally free,--yet, as their money was nearly exhausted, and as there
seemed to be no end to the law's delay and the pertinacity of the woman
who claimed them, it was deemed best by their friends that they should
get away if they could, lest she might seize them unawares, and sell
them to some trader. In speaking of this case, the person with whom I
communicated at Washington informed me that there were also quite a
number of others who wished to avail themselves of this opportunity of
escaping, and that the number of passengers was likely to be larger than
had at first been calculated upon. To which I replied, that I did not
stand about the number; that all who were on board before eleven o'clock
I should take,--the others would have to remain behind.

Saturday evening, at supper, I let English a little into the secret of
what I intended. I told him that the sort of ship-timber we were going
to take would prove very easy to load and unload; that a number of
colored people wished to take passage with us down the bay, and that, as
Sayres and myself would be away the greater part of the evening, all he
had to do was, as fast as they came on board, to lift up the hatch and
let them pass into the hold, shutting the hatch down upon them. The
vessel, which we had moved down the river since unloading the wood, lay
at a rather lonely place, called White-house Wharf, from a
whitish-colored building which stood upon it. The high bank of the
river, under which a road passed, afforded a cover to the wharf, and
there were only a few scattered buildings in the vicinity. Towards the
town there stretched a wide extent of open fields. Anxious, as might
naturally be expected, as to the result, I kept in the vicinity to watch
the progress of events. There was another small vessel that lay across
the head of the same wharf, but her crew were all black; and, going on
board her just at dusk, I informed the skipper of my business,
intimating to him, at the same time, that it would be a dangerous thing
for him to betray me. He assured me that I need have no fears of
him--that the other men would soon leave the vessel, not to return again
till Monday, and that, for himself, he should go below and to sleep, so
as neither to hear nor to see anything.

Shortly after dark the expected passengers began to arrive, coming
stealthily across the fields, and gliding silently on board the vessel.
I observed a man near a neighboring brick-kiln, who seemed to be
watching them. I went towards him, and found him to be black. He told
me that he understood what was going on, but that I need have no
apprehension of him. Two white men, who walked along the road past the
vessel, and who presently returned back the same way, occasioned me some
alarm; but they seemed to have no suspicions of what was on foot, as I
saw no more of them. I went on board the vessel several times in the
course of the evening, and learned from English that the hold was fast
filling up. I had promised him, in consideration of the unusual nature
of the business we were engaged in, ten dollars as a gratuity, in
addition to his wages.

Something past ten o'clock, I went on board, and directed English to
cast off the fastenings and to get ready to make sail. Pretty soon
Sayres came on board. It was a dead calm, and we were obliged to get the
boat out to get the vessel's head round. After dropping down a half a
mile or so, we encountered the tide making up the river; and, as there
was still no wind, we were obliged to anchor. Here we lay in a dead calm
till about daylight. The wind then began to breeze up lightly from the
northward, when we got up the anchor and made sail. As the sun rose, we
passed Alexandria. I then went into the hold for the first time, and
there found my passengers pretty thickly stowed. I distributed bread
among them, and knocked down the bulkhead between the hold and the
cabin, in order that they might get into the cabin to cook. They
consisted of men and women, in pretty equal proportions, with a number
of boys and girls, and two small children. The wind kept increasing and
hauling to the westward. Off Fort Washington we had to make two
stretches, but the rest of the way we run before the wind.

Shortly after dinner, we passed the steamer from Baltimore for
Washington, bound up. I thought the passengers on board took particular
notice of us; but the number of vessels met with in a passage up the
Potomac at that season is so few, as to make one, at least for the idle
passengers of a steamboat, an object of some curiosity. Just before
sunset, we passed a schooner loaded with plaster, bound up. As we
approached the mouth of the Potomac, the wind hauled to the north, and
blew with such stiffness as would make it impossible for us to go up the
bay, according to our original plan. Under these circumstances,
apprehending a pursuit from Washington, I urged Sayres to go to sea,
with the intention of reaching the Delaware by the outside passage. But
he objected that the vessel was not fit to go outside (which was true
enough), and that the bargain was to go to Frenchtown. Having reached
Point Lookout, at the mouth of the river, and not being able to persuade
Sayres to go to sea, and the wind being dead in our teeth, and too
strong to allow any attempt to ascend the bay, we came to anchor in
Cornfield harbor, just under Point Lookout, a shelter usually sought by
bay-craft encountering contrary winds when in that neighborhood.

We were all sleepy with being up all the night before, and, soon after
dropping anchor, we all turned in. I knew nothing more till, waking
suddenly, I heard the noise of a steamer blowing off steam alongside of
us. I knew at once that we were taken. The black men came to the cabin,
and asked if they should fight. I told them no; we had no arms, nor was
there the least possibility of a successful resistance. The loud shouts
and trampling of many feet overhead proved that our assailants were
numerous. One of them lifted the hatch a little, and cried out,
"Niggers, by G--d!" an exclamation to which the others responded with
three cheers, and by banging the buts of their muskets against the deck.
A lantern was called for, to read the name of the vessel; and it being
ascertained to be the Pearl, a number of men came to the cabin-door, and
called for Captain Drayton. I was in no great hurry to stir; but at
length rose from my berth, saying that I considered myself their
prisoner, and that I expected to be treated as such. While I was
dressing, rather too slowly for the impatience of those outside, a
sentinel, who had been stationed at the cabin-door, followed every
motion of mine with his gun, which he kept pointed at me, in great
apprehension, apparently, lest I should suddenly seize some dangerous
weapon and make at him. As I came out of the cabin-door, two of them
seized me, took me on board the steamer and tied me; and they did the
same with Sayres and English, who were brought on board, one after the
other. The black people were left on board the Pearl, which the steamer
took in tow, and then proceeded up the river.

To explain this sudden change in our situation, it is necessary to go
back to Washington. Great was the consternation in several families of
that city, on Sunday morning, to find no breakfast, and, what was worse,
their servants missing. Nor was this disaster confined to Washington
only. Georgetown came in for a considerable share of it, and even
Alexandria, on the opposite side of the river, had not entirely escaped.
The persons who had taken passage on board the Pearl had been held in
bondage by no less than forty-one different persons. Great was the
wonder at the sudden and simultaneous disappearance of so many "prime
hands," roughly estimated, though probably with considerable
exaggeration, as worth in the market not less than a hundred thousand
dollars,--and all at "one fell swoop" too, as the District Attorney
afterwards, in arguing the case against me, pathetically expressed it!
There were a great many guesses and conjectures as to where these people
had gone, and how they had gone; but it is very doubtful whether the
losers would have got upon the right track, had it not been for the
treachery of a colored hackman, who had been employed to carry down to
the vessel two passengers who had been in hiding for some weeks
previous, and who could not safely walk down, lest they might be met and
recognized. Emulating the example of that large, and, in their own
opinion at least, highly moral, religious and respectable class of white
people, known as "dough-faces," this hackman thought it a fine
opportunity to feather his nest by playing cat's-paw to the
slave-holders. Seeing how much the information was in demand, and
anticipating, no doubt, a large reward, he turned informer, and
described the Pearl as the conveyance which the fugitives had taken;
and, it being ascertained that the Pearl had actually sailed between
Saturday night and Sunday morning, preparations were soon made to pursue
her. A Mr. Dodge, of Georgetown, a wealthy old gentleman, originally
from New England, missed three or four slaves from his family, and a
small steamboat, of which he was the proprietor, was readily obtained.
Thirty-five men, including a son or two of old Dodge, and several of
those whose slaves were missing, volunteered to man her; and they set
out about Sunday noon, armed to the teeth with guns, pistols,
bowie-knives, &c., and well provided with brandy and other liquors. They
heard of us on the passage down, from the Baltimore steamer and the
vessel loaded with plaster. They reached the mouth of the river, and,
not having found the Pearl, were about to return, as the steamer could
not proceed into the bay without forfeiting her insurance. As a last
chance, they looked into Cornfield harbor, where they found us, as I
have related. This was about two o'clock in the morning. The Pearl had
come to anchor about nine o'clock the previous evening. It is a hundred
and forty miles from Washington to Cornfield harbor.

The steamer, with the Pearl in tow, crossed over from Point Lookout to
Piney Point, on the south shore of the Potomac, and here the Pearl was
left at anchor, a part of the steamer's company remaining to guard her,
while the steamer, having myself and the other white prisoners on board,
proceeded up Coan river for a supply of wood, having obtained which, she
again, about noon of Monday, took the Pearl in tow and started for

The bearing, manner and aspect of the thirty-five armed persons by whom
we had been thus seized and bound, without the slightest shadow of
lawful authority, was sufficient to inspire a good deal of alarm. We had
been lying quietly at anchor in a harbor of Maryland; and, although the
owners of the slaves might have had a legal right to pursue and take
them back, what warrant or authority had they for seizing us and our
vessel? They could have brought none from the District of Columbia,
whose officers had no jurisdiction or authority in Cornfield harbor; nor
did they pretend to have any from the State of Maryland. Some of them
showed a good deal of excitement, and evinced a disposition to proceed
to lynch us at once. A man named Houver, who claimed as his property two
of the boys passengers on board the Pearl, put me some questions in a
very insolent tone; to which I replied, that I considered myself a
prisoner, and did not wish to answer any questions; whereupon one of the
bystanders, flourishing a dirk in my face, exclaimed, "If I was in his
place, I'd put this through you!" At Piney Point, one of the company
proposed to hang me up to the yard-arm, and make me confess; but the
more influential of those on board were not ready for any such
violence, though all were exceedingly anxious to get out of me the
history of the expedition, and who my employers were. That I had
employers, and persons of note too, was taken for granted on all hands;
nor did I think it worth my while to contradict it, though I declined
steadily to give any information on that point. Sayres and English very
readily told all that they knew. English, especially, was in a great
state of alarm, and cried most bitterly. I pitied him much, besides
feeling some compunctions at getting him thus into difficulty; and, upon
the representations which I made, that he came to Washington in perfect
ignorance of the object of the expedition, he was finally untied. As
Sayres was obliged to admit that he came to Washington to take away
colored passengers, he was not regarded with so much favor. But it was
evidently me whom they looked upon as the chief culprit, alone
possessing a knowledge of the history and origin of the expedition,
which they were so anxious to unravel. They accordingly went to work
very artfully to worm this secret out of me. I was placed in charge of
one Orme, a police-officer of Georgetown, whose manner towards me was
such as to inspire me with a certain confidence in him; who, as it
afterwards appeared from his testimony on the trial, carefully took
minutes--but, as it proved, very confused and incorrect ones--of all
that I said, hoping thus to secure something that might turn out to my
disadvantage. Another person, with whom I had a good deal of
conversation, and who was afterwards produced as a witness against me,
was William H. Craig, in my opinion a much more conscientious person
than Orme, who seemed to think that it was part of his duty, as a
police-officer, to testify to something, at all hazards, to help on a
conviction. But this is a subject to which I shall have occasion to
return presently.

In one particular, at least, the testimony of both these witnesses was
correct enough. They both testified to my expressing pretty serious
apprehensions of what the result to myself was likely to be. What the
particular provisions were, in the District of Columbia, as to helping
slaves to escape, I did not know; but I had heard that, in some of the
slave-states, they were very severe; in fact, I was assured by Craig
that I had committed the highest crime, next to murder, known in their
laws. Under these circumstances, I made up my mind that the least
penalty I should be apt to escape with was confinement in the
penitentiary for life; and it is quite probable that I endeavored to
console myself, as these witnesses testified, with the idea that, after
all, it might, in a religious point of view, be all for the best, as I
should thus be removed from temptation, and have ample time for
reflection and repentance. But my apprehensions were by no means limited
to what I might suffer under the forms of law. From the temper exhibited
by some of my captors, and from the vindictive fury with which the idea
of enabling the enslaved to regain their liberty was, I knew, generally
regarded at the south, I apprehended more sudden and summary
proceedings; and what happened afterwards at Washington proved that
these apprehensions were not wholly unfounded. The idea of being torn in
pieces by a furious mob was exceedingly disagreeable. Many men, who
might not fear death, might yet not choose to meet it in that shape. I
called to mind the apology of the Methodist minister, who, just after a
declaration of his that he was not afraid to die, ran away from a
furious bull that attacked him,--"that, though not fearing death, he did
not like to be torn in pieces by a mad bull." I related this anecdote to
Craig, and, as he testified on the trial, expressed my preference to be
taken on the deck of the steamer and shot at once, rather than to be
given up to a Washington mob to be baited and murdered. I talked pretty
freely with Orme and Craig about myself, the circumstances under which I
had undertaken this enterprise, my motives to it, my family, my past
misfortunes, and the fate that probably awaited me; but they failed to
extract from me, what they seemed chiefly to desire, any information
which would implicate others. Orme told me, as he afterwards testified,
that what the people in the District wanted was the principals; and
that, if I would give information that would lead to them, the owners of
the slaves would let me go, or sign a petition for my pardon. Craig also
made various inquiries tending to the same point. Though I was firmly
resolved not to yield in this particular, yet I was desirous to do all I
could to soften the feeling against me; and it was doubtless this
desire which led me to make the statements sworn to by Orme and Craig,
that I had no connection with the persons called abolitionists,--which
was true enough; that I had formerly refused large offers made me by
slaves to carry them away; and that, in the present instance, I was
employed by others, and was to be paid for my services.

On arriving off Fort Washington, the steamer anchored for the night, as
the captors preferred to make their triumphant entry into the city by
daylight. Sayres and myself were watched during the night by a regular
guard of two men, armed with muskets, who were relieved from time to
time. Before getting under weigh again,--which they did about seven
o'clock in the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 18,--Sayres and myself were tied
together arm-and-arm, and the black people also, two-and-two, with the
other arm bound behind their backs. As we passed Alexandria, we were all
ordered on deck, and exhibited to the mob collected on the wharves to
get a sight of us, who signified their satisfaction by three cheers.
When we landed at the steamboat-wharf in Washington, which is a mile and
more from Pennsylvania Avenue, and in a remote part of the city, but few
people had yet assembled. We were marched up in a long procession,
Sayres and myself being placed at the head of it, guarded by a man on
each side; English following next, and then the negroes. As we went
along, the mob began to increase; and, as we passed Gannon's slave-pen,
that slave-trader, armed with a knife, rushed out, and, with horrid
imprecations, made a pass at me, which was very near finding its way
through my body. Instead of being arrested, as he ought to have been,
this slave-dealer was politely informed that I was in the hands of the
law, to which he replied, "D--n the law!--I have three negroes, and I
will give them all for one thrust at this d--d scoundrel!" and he
followed along, waiting his opportunity to repeat the blow. The crowd,
by this time, was greatly increased. We met an immense mob of several
thousand persons coming down Four-and-a-half street, with the avowed
intention of carrying us up before the capitol, and making an exhibition
of us there. The noise and confusion was very great. It seemed as if the
time for the lynching had come. When almost up to Pennsylvania Avenue, a
rush was made upon us,--"Lynch them! lynch them! the d--n villains!" and
other such cries, resounded on all sides. Those who had us in charge
were greatly alarmed; and, seeing no other way to keep us from the hands
of the mob, they procured a hack, and put Sayres and myself into it. The
hack drove to the jail, the mob continuing to follow, repeating their
shouts and threats. Several thousand people surrounded the jail, filling
up the enclosure about it.

Our captors had become satisfied, from the statements made by Sayres and
myself, and from his own statements and conduct, that the participation
of English in the affair was not of a sort that required any punishment;
and when the mob made the rush upon us, the persons having him in charge
had let him go, with the intention that he should escape. After a while
he had found his way back to the steamboat wharf; but the steamer was
gone. Alone in a strange place, and not knowing what to do, he told his
story to somebody whom he met, who put him in a hack and sent him up to
the jail. It was a pity he lacked the enterprise to take care of himself
when set at liberty, as it cost him four months' imprisonment and his
friends some money. I ought to have mentioned before that, on arriving
within the waters of the District, Sayres and myself had been examined
before a justice of the peace, who was one of the captors; and who had
acted as their leader. He had made out a commitment against us, but none
against English; so that the persons who had him in charge were right
enough in letting him go.

Sayres and myself were at first put into the same cell, but, towards
night, we were separated. A person named Goddard, connected with the
police, came to examine us. He went to Sayres first. He then came to me,
when I told him that, as I supposed he had got the whole story out of
Sayres, and as it was not best that two stories should be told, I would
say nothing. Goddard then took from me my money. One of the keepers
threw me in two thin blankets, and I was left to sleep as I could. The
accommodations were not of the most luxurious kind. The cell had a stone
floor, which, with the help of a blanket, was to serve also for a bed.
There was neither chair, table, stool, nor any individual piece of
furniture of any kind, except a night-bucket and a water-can. I was
refused my overcoat and valise, and had nothing but my water-can to make
a pillow of. With such a pillow, and the bare stone floor for my bed,
looked upon by all whom I saw with apparent abhorrence and terror,--as
much so, to all appearance, as if I had been a murderer, or taken in
some other desperate crime,--remembering the execrations which the mob
had belched forth against me, and uncertain whether a person would be
found to express the least sympathy for me (which might not, in the
existing state of the public feeling, be safe), it may be imagined that
my slumbers were not very sound.

Meanwhile the rage of the mob had taken, for the moment, another
direction. I had heard it said, while we were coming up in the
steamboat, that the abolition press must be stopped; and the mob
accordingly, as the night came on, gathered about the office of the
_National Era_, with threats to destroy it. Some little mischief was
done; but the property-holders in the city, well aware how dependent
Washington is upon the liberality of Congress, were unwilling that
anything should occur to place the District in bad odor at the north.
Some of them, also, it is but justice to believe, could not entirely
give in to the slave-holding doctrine and practice of suppressing free
discussion by force; and, by their efforts, seconded by a drenching
storm of rain, that came on between nine and ten o'clock, the mob were
persuaded to disperse for the present. The jail was guarded that night
by a strong body of police, serious apprehensions being entertained,
lest the mob, instigated by the violence of many southern members of
Congress, should break in and lynch us. Great apprehension, also, seemed
to be felt at the jail, lest we might be rescued; and we were subject,
during the night, to frequent examinations, to see that all was safe.
Great was the terror, as well as the rage, which the abolitionists
appeared to inspire. They seemed to be thought capable, if not very
narrowly watched, of taking us off through the roof, or the stone floor,
or out of the iron-barred doors; and, from the half-frightened looks
which the keepers gave me from time to time, I could plainly enough read
their thoughts,--that a fellow who had ventured on such an enterprise as
that of the Pearl was desperate and daring enough to attempt anything.
For a poor prisoner like me, so much in the power of his captors, and
without the slightest means, hopes, or even thoughts of escape, it was
some little satisfaction to observe the awe and terror which he

Of the prison fare I shall have more to say, by and by. It is sufficient
to state here that it was about on a par with the sleeping
accommodations, and hardly of a sort to give a man in my situation the
necessary physical vigor. However, I thought little of this at that
moment, as I was too sick and excited to feel much disposition to eat.

The Washington prison is a large three-story stone building, the front
part of the lower story of which is occupied by the guard-room, or
jail-office, and by the kitchen and sleeping apartments for the keepers.
The back part, shut off from the front by strong grated doors, has a
winding stone stair-case, ascending in the middle, on each side of
which, on each of the three stories, are passage-ways, also shut off
from the stair-case, by grated iron doors. The back wall of the jail
forms one side of these passages, which are lighted by grated windows.
On the other side are the cells, also with grated iron doors, and
receiving their light and air entirely from the passages. The passages
themselves have no ventilation except through the doors and windows,
which answer that purpose very imperfectly. The front second story, over
the guard-room, contains the cells for the female prisoners. The front
third story is the debtors' apartment.

The usage of the jail always has been--except in cases of
insubordination or attempted escape, when locking up in the cells by
day, as well as by night, has been resorted to as a punishment--to allow
the prisoners, during the day-time, the use of the passages, for the
benefit of light, air and exercise. Indeed, it is hard to conceive a
more cruel punishment than to keep a man locked up all the time in one
of these half-lighted, unventilated cells. On the morning of the second
day of our confinement, we too were let out into the passage. But we
were soon put back again, and not only into separate cells, but into
separate passages, so as to be entirely cut off from any communication
with each other. It was a long time before we were able to regain the
privilege of the passage. But, for the present, I shall pass over the
internal economy and administration of the prison, and my treatment in
it, intending, further on, to give a general sketch of that subject.

About nine or ten o'clock, Mr. Giddings, the member of Congress from
Ohio, came to see us. There was some disposition, I understood, not to
allow him to enter the jail; but Mr. Giddings is a man not easily
repulsed, and there is nobody of whom the good people at Washington,
especially the office-holders, who make up so large a part of the
population, stand so much in awe as a member of Congress; especially a
member of Mr. Giddings' well-known fearless determination. He was
allowed to come in, bringing another person with him, but was followed
into the jail by a crowd of ruffians, who compelled the turnkey to admit
them into the passage, and who vented their rage in execration and
threats. Mr. Giddings said that he had understood we were here in jail
without counsel or friends, and that he had come to let us know that we
should not want for either; and he introduced the person he had brought
with him as one who was willing to act temporarily as our counsel. Not
long after, Mr. David A. Hall, a lawyer of the District, came to offer
his services to us in the same way. Key, the United States Attorney for
the District, and who, as such, had charge of the proceedings against
us, was there at the same time. He advised Mr. Hall to leave the jail
and go home immediately, as the people outside were furious, and he ran
the risk of his life. To which Mr. Hall replied that things had come to
a pretty pass, if a man's counsel was not to have the privilege of
talking with him. "Poor devils!" said the District Attorney, as he went
out, "I pity them,--they are to be made scape-goats for others!" Yet the
rancor, and virulence, and fierce pertinacity with which this Key
afterwards pursued me, did not look much like pity. No doubt he was a
good deal irritated at his ill success in getting any information out of

The seventy-six passengers found on board the Pearl had been committed
to the jail as runaways, and Mr. Giddings, on going up to the House, by
way of warning, I suppose, to the slave-holders, that they were not to
be allowed to have everything their own way, moved an inquiry into the
circumstances under which seventy-six persons were held prisoners in the
District jail, merely for attempting to vindicate their inalienable
rights. Mr. Hale also, in the Senate, in consequence of the threats held
out to destroy the _Era_ office, and to put a stop to the publication of
that paper, moved a resolution of inquiry into the necessity of
additional laws for the protection of property in the District. The fury
which these movements excited in the minds of the slave-holders found
expression in the editorial columns of the Washington _Union_, in an
article which I have inserted below, as forming a curious contrast to
the exultations of that print, only a week before, and to which I have
had occasion already to refer, over the spread of the principles of
liberty and universal emancipation. The violent attack upon Mr.
Giddings, because he had visited us three poor prisoners in jail, and
offered us the assistance of counsel,--as if the vilest criminals were
not entitled to have counsel to defend them,--is well worthy of notice.
The following is the article referred to.


    Those two abolition incendiaries (Giddings and Hale)
    threw firebrands yesterday into the two houses of
    Congress. The western abolitionist moved a resolution of
    inquiry into the transactions now passing in Washington,
    which brought on a fierce and fiery debate on the part
    of the southern members, in the course of which Mr.
    Giddings _was compelled to confess_, on the
    cross-questioning of Messrs. Venable and Haskell, _that
    he had visited the three piratical kidnappers now
    confined in jail, and offered them counsel_. The reply
    of Mr. Toombs, of Georgia, was scorching to an intense

    The abolitionist John P. Hale threw a firebrand
    resolution into the Senate, calling for additional laws
    to compel this city to prevent riots. This also gave
    rise to a long and excited debate.

    No question was taken, in either house, before they
    adjourned. But, in the progress of the discussion in
    both houses, some doctrines were uttered which are
    calculated to startle the friends of the Union. Giddings
    justified the kidnappers, and contended that, though the
    act was legally forbidden, it was not morally wrong! Mr.
    Toombs brought home the practical consequences of this
    doctrine to the member from Ohio in a most impressive

    Hale, of the Senate, whilst he was willing to protect
    the abolitionist, expressed himself willing to relax the
    laws and weaken the protection which is given to the
    slave property in this district! Mr. Davis, of
    Massachusetts, held the strange doctrine, that while he
    would not disturb the rights of the slave-holders, he
    would not cease to discuss those rights! As if Congress
    ought to discuss, or to protect a right to discuss, a
    domestic institution of the Southern States, with which
    they had no right to interfere! Why discuss, when they
    cannot act? Why first lay down an abstract principle,
    which they intend to violate in practice?

    Such fanatics as Giddings and Hale are doing more
    mischief than they will be able to atone for. Their
    incessant and impertinent intermeddling with the most
    delicate question in our social relations is creating
    the most indignant feelings in the community. The fiery
    discussions they are exciting are calculated to provoke
    the very riots which they deprecate. Let these madmen
    forbear, if they value the tranquillity of our country,
    and the stability of our Union. We conjure them to
    forbear their maddened, parricidal hand.

An article like this in the _Union_ was well calculated, and probably
was intended, to encourage and stimulate the rioters, and accordingly
they assembled that same evening in greater force than before
threatening the destruction of the _Era_ office. The publication office
of the _Era_ was not far from the Patent Office; and the dwelling-house
of Dr. Bailey, the editor, was at no great distance. The mob, taking
upon themselves the character of a meeting of citizens, appointed a
committee to wait upon Dr. Bailey, to require him to remove his press
out of the District of Columbia. Of course, as I was locked up in the
jail, trying to rest my aching head and weary limbs, with a stone floor
for a bed and a water-can for my pillow, I can have no personal
knowledge of what transpired on this occasion. But a correspondent of
the New York _Tribune_, who probably was an eye-witness, gives the
following account of the interview between the committee and Dr. Bailey:

    Clearing his throat, the leader of the committee
    stretched forth his hand, and thus addressed Dr. Bailey:

    _Mr. Radcliff_.--Sir, we have been appointed as a
    committee to wait upon you, by the meeting of the
    citizens of Washington which has assembled this evening
    to take into consideration the circumstances connected
    with the late outrage upon _our_ property, and to convey
    to you the result of the deliberations of that meeting.
    You are aware of the excitement which now prevails. It
    has assumed a most threatening aspect. This community is
    satisfied that the existence of your press among us is
    endangering the public peace, and they are convinced
    that the public interests demand its removal. We have
    therefore waited upon you for the purpose of inquiring
    whether you are prepared to remove your press by ten
    o'clock to-morrow morning; and we beseech you, as you
    value the peace of this District, to accede to our
    request. [Loud shouting heard at the Patent Office.]

    _Dr. Bailey_.--Gentlemen: I do not believe you are
    actuated by any unkind feelings towards me personally;
    but you must be aware that you are demanding of me the
    surrender of a great constitutional right,--a right
    which I have used, but not abused,--in the preservation
    of which you are as deeply interested as I am. How can
    you ask me to abandon it, and thus become a party to my
    own degradation?

    _Mr. Radcliff_.--We subscribe to all that you say. But
    you see the popular excitement. The consequences of your
    refusal are inevitable. Now, if you can avert these
    consequences by submitting to what the people request,
    although unreasonable, is it not your duty, as a good
    citizen, to submit? It is on account of the community we
    come here, obeying the popular feeling which you hear
    expressed in the distance, and which cannot be calmed,
    and, but for the course we have adopted, would at this
    moment be manifested in the destruction of your office.
    But they have consented to wait till they hear our
    report. We trust, then, that, as a good citizen, you
    will respond favorably to the wish of the people.

    _Another of the Committee_.--As one of the oldest
    citizens, I do assure you that it is in all kindness we
    make this request. We come here to tell you that we
    cannot arrest violence in any other way than by your
    allowing us to say that you yield to the request of the
    people. In kindness we tell you that if this thing
    commences here we know not where it may end. I am for
    mild measures myself. The prisoners were in my hands,
    but I would not allow my men to inflict any punishment
    on them.

    _Dr. Bailey_.--Gentlemen, I appreciate your kindness;
    but I ask, is there a man among you who, standing as I
    now stand, the representative of a free press, would
    accede to this demand, and abandon his rights as an
    American citizen?

    _One of the Committee_.--We know it is a great sacrifice
    that we ask of you; but we ask it to appease popular

    _Dr. Bailey_.--Let me say to you that I am a peace-man.
    I have taken no measures to defend my office, my house
    or myself. I appeal to the good sense and intelligence
    of the community, and stand upon my rights as an
    American citizen, looking to the law alone for

    _Mr. Radcliff_.--We have now discharged our duty. It has
    come to this,--the people say it must be done, unless
    you agree to go to-morrow. We now ask a categorical
    answer,--Will you remove your press?

    _Dr. Bailey_.--I answer: I make no resistance, and I
    cannot assent to your demand. The press is there--it is
    undefended--you can do as you think proper.

    _One of the Committee_.--All rests with you. We tell you
    what will follow your refusal, and, if you persist, all
    the responsibility must fall upon your shoulders. It is
    in your power to arrest the arm that is raised to give
    the blow. If you refuse to do so by a single expression,
    though it might cost you much, on you be all the

    _Dr. Bailey_.--You demand the sacrifice of a great
    right. You--

    _One of the Committee (interrupting him_).--I know it is
    a hardship; but look at the consequences of your
    refusal. We do not come here to express our individual
    opinions. I would myself leave the District to-morrow,
    if in your place. We now ask of you, Shall this be done?
    We beg you will consider this matter in the light in
    which we view it.

    _Dr. Bailey_.--I am one man against many. But I cannot
    sacrifice any right that I possess. Those who have sent
    you here may do as they think proper.

    _One of the Committee_.--The whole community is against
    you. They say here is an evil that threatens them, and
    they ask you to remove that evil. You say "No!" and of
    course on your head be all the consequences.

    _Dr. Bailey_.--Let me remind you that we have been
    recently engaged in public rejoicings. For what have we
    rejoiced? Because the people in another land have
    arisen and triumphed over the despot, who had
    done--what? He did not demolish presses, but he
    imprisoned editors. In other words, he enslaved the
    press. Will you then present to America and the world--

    _One of the Committee (interrupting him_).--If we could
    stop this movement, of the people, we would do it. But
    you make us unable to do so. We cannot tell how far it
    will go. After your press is pulled down, we do not know
    where they will go next. It is your duty, in such a
    case, to sacrifice your constitutional rights.

    _Dr. Bailey_.--I presume, when they shall have
    accomplished their object--

    _Mr. Radcliff (interrupting)._--We advise you to be out
    of the way! The people think that your press endangers
    their property and their lives; and they have appointed
    us to tell you so, and ask you to remove it to-morrow.
    If you say that you will do so, they will retire
    satisfied. If you refuse, they say they will tear it
    down. Here is Mr. Boyle, a gentleman of property, and
    one of our oldest residents. You see that we are united.
    If you hold out and occupy your position, the men, women
    and children of the District will universally rise up
    against you.

    _Dr. Bailey (addressing himself to his father, a
    venerable man of more than eighty years of age, who
    approached the doorway and commenced remonstrating with
    the committee)_.--You do not understand the matter,
    father; these gentlemen are a committee appointed by a
    meeting assembled in front of the Patent Office. You
    need not address remonstrances to them. Gentlemen, you
    appreciate my position. I cannot surrender my rights.
    Were I to die for it, I cannot surrender my rights! Tell
    those who sent you hither that my press and my house are
    undefended--they must do as they see proper. I maintain
    my rights, and make no resistance!

    The committee then retired, and Dr. Bailey reëntered his
    dwelling. Meanwhile, the shouts of the mob, as they
    received the reports of the committee, were reëchoed
    along the streets. A fierce yell greeted the
    reäppearance of Radcliff in front of the Patent Office.
    He announced the result of the interview with the editor
    of the _Era_. Shouts, imprecations, blasphemy, burst
    from the crowd. "Down with the _Era_!" "Now for it!"
    "Gut the office!" were the exclamations heard on all
    sides, and the mob rushed tumultuously to

But a body of the city police had been stationed to guard the building,
and the mob finally contented themselves with passing a resolution to
pull it down the next day at ten o'clock, if the press was not meanwhile

That same afternoon, we three prisoners had been taken before three
justices, who held a court within the jail for our examination. Mr. Hall
appeared as our counsel. The examination was continued till the next
day, when we were, all three of us, recommitted to jail, on a charge of
stealing slaves, our bail being fixed at a thousand dollars for each
slave, or seventy-six thousand dollars for each of us.

Meanwhile, both houses of Congress became the scenes of very warm
debates, growing out of circumstances connected with our case. In the
Senate, Mr. Hale, agreeably to the notice he had given, asked leave to
introduce a bill for the protection of property in the District of
Columbia against the violence of mobs. This bill, as was stated in the
debate, was copied, almost word for word, from a law in force in the
State of Maryland (and many other states have--and all ought to have--a
similar law), making the cities and towns liable for any property which
might be destroyed in them by mob violence. In the House the subject
came up on a question of privilege, raised by Mr. Palfrey, of
Massachusetts, who offered a resolution for the appointment of a select
committee to inquire into the currently-reported facts that a lawless
mob had assembled during the two previous nights, setting at defiance
the constituted authorities of the United States, and menacing members
of Congress and other persons. In both those bodies the debate was very
warm, as any one interested in it will find, by reading it in the
columns of the _Congressional Globe_.

It was upon this occasion, during the debate in the Senate, that Mr.
Foote, then a senator from Mississippi, and now governor of that state,
whose speech on the French revolution has been already quoted,
threatened to join in lynching Mr. Hale, if he ever set foot in
Mississippi, whither he invited him to come for that purpose. This part
of the debate was so peculiar and so characteristic, showing so well the
spirit with which the District of Columbia was then blazing against me,
that I cannot help giving the following extract from Mr. Foote's speech,
as contained in the official report:

    "All must see that the course of the senator from New
    Hampshire is calculated to embroil the confederacy--to
    put in peril our free institutions--to jeopardize that
    Union which our forefathers established, and which every
    pure patriot throughout the country desires shall be
    perpetuated. Can any man be a patriot who pursues such a
    course? Is he an enlightened friend of freedom, or even
    a judicious friend of those with whom he affects to
    sympathize, who adopts such a course? Who does not know
    that such men are, practically, the worst enemies of the
    slaves? I do not beseech the gentleman to stop; but, if
    he perseveres, he will awaken indignation everywhere,
    and it cannot be that enlightened men, who
    conscientiously belong to the faction at the north of
    which he is understood to be the head, can sanction or
    approve everything that he may do, under the influence
    of excitement, in this body. I will close by saying
    that, if he really wishes glory, and to be regarded as
    the great liberator of the blacks,--if he wishes to be
    particularly distinguished in this cause of
    emancipation, as it is called,--let him, instead of
    remaining here in the Senate of the United States, or
    instead of secreting himself in some dark corner of New
    Hampshire, where he may possibly escape the just
    indignation of good men throughout this republic,--let
    him visit the good State of Mississippi, in which I have
    the honor to reside, and no doubt he will be received
    with such shouts of joy as have rarely marked the
    reception of any individual in this day and generation.
    I invite him there, and will tell him, beforehand, in
    all honesty, that he could not go ten miles into the
    interior before he would grace one of the tallest trees
    in the forest, with a rope around his neck, with the
    approbation of every virtuous and patriotic citizen; and
    that, if necessary, I should myself assist in the

Mr. Hale's reply was equally characteristic:

    "The honorable Senator invites me to visit the State of
    Mississippi, and kindly informs me that he would be one
    of those who would act the assassin, and put an end to
    my career. He would aid in bringing me to public
    execution,--no, death by a mob! Well, in return for his
    hospitable invitation, I can only express the desire
    that he would penetrate into some of the dark corners of
    New Hampshire; and, if he do, I am much mistaken if he
    would not find that the people in that benighted region
    would be very happy to listen to his arguments, and
    engage in an intellectual conflict with him, in which
    the truth might be elicited. I think, however, that the
    announcement which the honorable Senator has made on
    this floor of the fate which awaits so humble an
    individual as myself in the State of Mississippi must
    convince every one of the propriety of the high eulogium
    which he pronounced upon her, the other day, when he
    spoke of the high position which she occupied among the
    states of this confederacy.--But enough of this personal

         [Footnote A: The following paragraph, which has
         recently been going the rounds of the newspapers,
         will serve to show the sort of manners which
         prevail in the state so fitly represented by Mr.
         Foote, and how these southern ruffians experience
         in their own families the natural effect of the
         blood-thirsty sentiments which they so freely avow:

         "THE DEATH OF MR. CARNEAL.--The Vicksburg
         _Sentinel_, of the 13th ult., gives the following
         account of the shooting of Mr. Thomas Carneal,
         son-in-law of Governor Foote:

         "We have abstained thus long from giving any notice
         of the sad affair which resulted in the death of
         Mr. Thomas Carneal, the son-in-law of the governor
         of our state, that we might get the particulars. It
         seems that the steamer E.C. Watkins, with Mr.
         Carneal as a passenger, landed at or near the
         plantation of Judge James, in Washington county.
         Mr. Carneal had heard that the judge was an
         extremely brutal man to his slaves, and was
         likewise excited with liquor; and, upon the judge
         inviting him and others to take a drink with him,
         Carneal replied that he would not drink with a man
         who abused his negroes; this the judge resented as
         an insult, and high words ensued.

         "The company took their drink, however, all but Mr.
         Carneal, who went out upon the bow of the boat, and
         took a seat, where he was sought by Judge James,
         who desired satisfaction for the insult. Carneal
         refused to make any, and asked the old gentleman if
         any of his sons would resent the insult if he was
         to slap him in the mouth; to which the judge
         replied that he would do it himself, if his sons
         would not; whereupon Mr. Carneal struck him in the
         month with the back of his hand. The judge resented
         it by striking him across the head with a cane,
         which stunned Mr. Carneal very much, causing the
         blood to run freely from the wound. As soon as
         Carneal recovered from the wound, he drew a
         bowie-knife, and attacked the judge with it,
         inflicting several wounds upon his person, some of
         which were thought to be mortal.

         "Some gentlemen, in endeavoring to separate the
         combatants, were wounded by Carneal. When Judge
         James arrived at his house, bleeding, and in a
         dying state, as was thought, his son seized a
         double-barrelled gun, loaded it heavily with large
         shot, galloped to where the boat was, hitched his
         horse, and deliberately raised his gun to shoot
         Carneal, who was sitting upon a cotton-bale. Mr.
         James was warned not to fire, as Carneal was
         unarmed, and he might kill some innocent person. He
         took his gun from his shoulder, raised it again,
         and fired both barrels in succession, killing
         Carneal instantly.

         "It is a sad affair, and Carneal leaves, besides
         numerous friends, a most interesting and
         accomplished widow, to bewail his tragical end."]

Such was the savage character of the debate, that even Mr. Calhoun, who
was not generally discourteous, finding himself rather hard pressed by
some of Mr. Hale's arguments, excused himself from an answer, on the
ground that Mr. Hale was a maniac! The slave-holders set upon Mr. Hale
with all their force; but, though they succeeded in voting down his
bill, it was generally agreed, and anybody may see by the report, that
he had altogether the best of the argument. Mr. Palfrey's resolution was
also lost; but the boldness with which Giddings and others avowed their
opinions, and the freedom of speech which they used on the subject of
slavery, afforded abundant proof that the gagging system which had
prevailed so long in Congress had come at last to an end.

These movements, though the propositions of Messrs. Hale and Palfrey
were voted down, were not without their effect. The Common Council of
Washington appointed an acting mayor, in place of the regular mayor, who
was sick. President Polk sent an intimation to the clerks of the
departments, some of whom had been active in the mobs, that they had
better mind their own business and stay at home. Something was said
about marines from the Navy-Yard; and from that time the riotous spirit
began to subside.

Meanwhile, the unfortunate people who had attempted to escape in the
Pearl had to pay the penalty of their love of freedom. A large number of
them, as they were taken out of jail by the persons who claimed to be
their owners, were handed over to the slave-traders. The following
account of the departure of a portion of these victims for the southern
market was given in a letter which appeared at the time in several
northern newspapers:

    "_Washington, April_ 22, 1848.

    "Last evening, as I was passing the railroad dépôt, I
    saw a large number of colored people gathered round one
    of the cars, and, from manifestations of grief among
    some of them, I was induced to draw near and ascertain
    the cause of it. I found in the car towards which they
    were so eagerly gazing about fifty colored people, some
    of whom were nearly as white as myself. A majority of
    them were of the number who attempted to gain their
    liberty last week. About half of them were females, a
    few of whom had but a slight tinge of African blood in
    their veins, and were finely formed and beautiful. The
    men were ironed together, and the whole group looked sad
    and dejected. At each end of the car stood two
    ruffianly-looking personages, with large canes in their
    hands, and, if their countenances were an index of their
    hearts, they were the very impersonation of hardened
    villany itself.

    "In the middle of the car stood the notorious
    slave-dealer of Baltimore, Slatter, who, I learn, is a
    member of the Methodist church, 'in good and regular
    standing.' He had purchased the men and women around
    him, and was taking his departure for Georgia. While
    observing this old, gray-headed villain,--this dealer in
    the bodies and souls of men,--the chaplain of the Senate
    entered the car,--a Methodist brother,--and took his
    brother Slatter by the hand, chatted with him for some
    time, and seemed to view the heart-rending scene before
    him with as little concern as we should look upon
    cattle. I know not whether he came with a view to
    sanctify the act, and pronounce a parting blessing; but
    this I do know, that he justifies slavery, and denounces
    anti-slavery efforts as bitterly as do the most hardened

    "A Presbyterian minister, who owned one of the
    fugitives, was the first to strike a bargain with
    Slatter, and make merchandise of God's image; and many
    of these poor victims, thus manacled and destined for
    the southern market, are regular members of the African
    Methodist church of this city. I did not hear whether
    they were permitted to get letters of dismission from
    the church, and of 'recommendation to any church where
    God, in his providence, might cast their lot.' Probably
    a certificate from Slatter to the effect that they are
    Christians will answer every purpose. No doubt he will
    demand a good price for slaves of this character.
    Perhaps brother Slicer furnished him with testimonials
    of their religious character, to help their sale in
    Georgia. I understand that he was accustomed to preach
    to them here, and especially to urge upon them obedience
    to their masters.

    "Some of the colored people outside, as well as in the
    car, were weeping most bitterly. I learned that many
    families were separated. Wives were there to take leave
    of their husbands, and husbands of their wives, children
    of their parents, brothers and sisters shaking hands
    perhaps for the last time, friends parting with friends,
    and the tenderest ties of humanity sundered at the
    single bid of the inhuman slave-broker before them. A
    husband, in the meridian of life, begged to see the
    partner of his bosom. He protested that she was
    free--that she had free papers, and was torn from him,
    and shut up in the jail. He clambered up to one of the
    windows of the car to see his wife, and, as she was
    reaching forward her hand to him, the black-hearted
    villain, Slatter, ordered him down. He did not obey. The
    husband and wife, with tears streaming down their
    cheeks, besought him to let them converse for a moment.
    But no! a monster more hideous, hardened and savage,
    than the blackest spirit of the pit, knocked him down
    from the car, and ordered him away. The bystanders could
    hardly restrain themselves from laying violent hands
    upon the brutes. This is but a faint description of that
    scene, which took place within a few rods of the
    capitol, under _enactments_ recognized by Congress. O!
    what a revolting scene to a feeling heart, and what a
    retribution awaits the actors! Will not these wailings
    of anguish reach the ears of the Most High? 'Vengeance
    is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.'"

Of those sent off at this time, several, through the generosity of
charitable persons at the north, were subsequently redeemed, among whom
were the Edmundson girls, of whom an account is given in the "Key to
Uncle Tom's Cabin."

From one of the women, who was not sold, but retained at Washington, I
received a mark of kindness and remembrance for which I felt very
grateful. She obtained admission to the jail, the Sunday after our
committal, to see some of her late fellow-passengers still confined
there; and, as she passed the passage in which I was confined, she
called to me and handed a Bible through the gratings. I am happy to be
able to add that she has since, upon a second trial, succeeded in
effecting her escape, and that she is now a free woman.

The great excitement which our attempt at emancipation had produced at
Washington, and the rage and fury exhibited against us, had the effect
to draw attention to our case, and to secure us sympathy and assistance
on the part of persons wholly unknown to us. A public meeting was held
in Faneuil Hall, in Boston, on the 25th of April, at which a committee
was appointed, consisting of Samuel May, Samuel G. Howe, Samuel E.
Sewell, Richard Hildreth, Robert Morris, Jr., Francis Jackson, Elizur
Wright, Joseph Southwick, Walter Channing, J.W. Browne, Henry I.
Bowditch, William F. Channing, Joshua P. Blanchard and Charles List,
authorized to employ counsel and to collect money for the purpose of
securing to us a fair trial, of which, without some interference from
abroad, the existing state of public feeling in the District of Columbia
seemed to afford little prospect. A correspondence was opened by this
committee with the Hon. Horace Mann, then a representative in Congress
from the State of Massachusetts, with ex-Governor Seward, of New York,
with Salmon P. Chase, Esq., of Ohio, and with Gen. Fessenden, of Maine,
all of whom volunteered their gratuitous services, should they be
needed. A moderate subscription was promptly obtained, the larger part
of it, as I am informed, through the liberality of Gerrit Smith, now a
representative in Congress from New York, whose large pecuniary
contributions to all philanthropic objects, as well as his zealous
efforts in the same direction both with the tongue and the pen, have
made him so conspicuous. He has, indeed, a unique way of spending his
large fortune, without precedent, at least in this country, and not
likely to find many imitators.

The committee, being thus put in funds, deputed Mr. Hildreth, one of the
members of it, to proceed to Washington to make the necessary
arrangements. He arrived there toward the end of the month of May, by
which time the public excitement against us, or at least the exterior
signs of it, had a good deal subsided. But we were still treated with
much rigor, being kept locked up in our cells, denied the use of the
passage, and not allowed to see anybody, except when once in a while
Mr. Giddings or Mr. Hall found an access to us; but even then we were
not allowed to hold any conversation, except in the presence of the

It may well be imagined that the news of my capture and imprisonment,
and of the danger in which I seemed to be, had thrown my family into
great distress. I also had suffered exceedingly on their account,
several of the children being yet too young to shift for themselves. But
I was presently relieved, by the information which I received before
long, that during my imprisonment my family would be provided for.

Warm remonstrances had been made to the judge of the criminal court by
Mr. Hall against the attempt to exclude us from communication with our
friends,--a liberty freely granted to all other prisoners. The judge
declined to interfere; but Mr. Mann, having agreed to act as our
counsel, was thenceforth freely admitted to interviews with us, without
the presence of any keeper. Books and newspapers were furnished me by
friends out of doors. I presently obtained a mattress, and the liberty
of providing myself with better food than the jail allows. I continued
to suffer a good deal of annoyance from the capricious insolence and
tyranny of the marshal, Robert Wallace; but I intend to go more at
length into the details of my prison experience after having first
disposed of the legal proceedings against us.

The feeling against me was no doubt greatly increased by the failure of
the efforts repeatedly made to induce me to give up the names of those
who had coöperated with me, and to turn states-evidence against them.
There was a certain Mr. Taylor, from Boston, I believe, then in
Washington, the inventor of a submarine armor for diving purposes. I had
formerly been well acquainted with him, and, at a time when no friend of
mine was allowed access to me, he made me repeated visits at the jail,
at the request, as he said, of the District Attorney, to induce me to
make a full disclosure, in which case it was intimated I should be let
off very easy.

As Mr. Taylor did not prevail with me, one of the jailers afterwards
assured me that he was authorized to promise me a thousand dollars in
case I would become a witness against those concerned with me. As I
turned a deaf ear to all these propositions, the resolution seemed to be
taken to make me and Sayres, and even English, suffer in a way to be a
warning to all similar offenders.

The laws under which we were to be tried were those of the State of
Maryland as they stood previous to the year 1800. These laws had been
temporarily continued in force over that part of the District ceded by
Maryland (the whole of the present District) at the time that the
jurisdiction of the United Spates commenced; and questions of more
general interest, and the embarrassment growing out of the existence of
slavery, having defeated all attempts at a revised code, these same old
laws of Maryland still remain in force, though modified, in some
respects, by acts of Congress. In an act of Maryland, passed in the
year 1796, and in force in the District, there was a section which
seemed to have been intended for precisely such cases as ours. It
provided "That any person or persons who shall hereafter be convicted of
giving a pass to any slave, or person held to service, or shall be found
to assist, by advice, donation or loan, or otherwise, the transporting
of any slave or any person held to service, from this state, or by any
other unlawful means depriving a master or owner of the service of his
slave or person held to service, for every such offence the party
aggrieved shall recover damages in an action on the case, against such
offender or offenders, and such offender or offenders shall also be
liable, upon indictment, and conviction upon verdict, confession or
otherwise, in this state, in any county court where such offence shall
happen, to be fined a sum not exceeding two hundred dollars, at the
discretion of the court, one-half to the use of the master or owner of
such slave, the other half to the county school, if there be any; if
there be no such school, to the use of the county."

Accordingly, the grand jury, under the instructions of the District
Attorney, found seventy-four indictments against each of us prisoners,
based on this act, one for each of the slaves found on board the vessel,
two excepted, who were runaways from Virginia, and the names of their
masters not known. As it would have been possible to have fined us
about, fifteen thousand dollars apiece upon these indictments, besides
costs, and as, by the laws of the District, there is no method of
discharging prisoners from jail who are unable to pay a fine, except by
an executive pardon, one would have thought that this might have
satisfied. But the idea that we should escape with a fine, though we
might be kept in prison for life from inability to pay it, was very
unsatisfactory. It was desired to make us out guilty of a penitentiary
offence at the least; and for that purpose recourse was had to an old,
forgotten act of Maryland, passed in the year 1737, the fourth section
of which provided "That any person or persons who, after the said tenth
day of September [1737], shall steal any ship, sloop, or other vessel
whatsoever, out of any place within the body of any county within this
province, of seventeen feet or upwards by the keel, and shall carry the
same ten miles or upwards from the place whence it shall be stolen, _or
who shall steal any negro or other slave_, or who shall counsel, hire,
aid, abet, or command any person or persons to commit the said offences,
or who shall be accessories to the said offences, and shall be thereof
legally convicted as aforesaid, or outlawed, or who shall obstinately or
of malice stand mute, or peremptorily challenge above twenty, shall
suffer death as a felon, or felons, and be excluded the benefit of the

They would have been delighted, no doubt, to hang us under this act; but
that they could not do, as Congress, by an act passed in 1831, having
changed the punishment of death, inflicted by the old Maryland statutes
(except in certain cases specially provided for), into confinement in
the penitentiary for not less than twenty years.

To make sure of us at all events, not less than forty-one separate
indictments (that being the number of the pretended owners) were found
against each of us for stealing slaves.

Our counsel afterwards made some complaint of this great number of
indictments, when two against each of us, including all the separate
charges in different counts, would have answered as well. It was even
suggested that the fact that a fee of ten dollars was chargeable upon
each indictment toward the five-thousand-dollar salary of the District
Attorney might have something to do with this large number. But the
District Attorney denied very strenuously being influenced by any such
motive, maintaining, in the face of authorities produced against him,
that this great number was necessary. He thought it safest, I suppose,
instead of a single jury on each charge against each of us, to have the
chance of a much greater number, and the advantage, besides, of repeated
opportunities of correcting such blunders, mistakes and neglects, as the
prisoner's counsel might point out.

On the 6th of July, I was arraigned in the criminal court, Judge
Crawford presiding, on one of the larceny indictments, to which I
pleaded not guilty; whereupon my counsel, Messrs. Hall and Mann, moved
the court for a continuance till the next term, alleging the prevailing
public excitement, and the want of time to prepare the defence and to
procure additional counsel. But the judge could only be persuaded, and
that with difficulty, to delay the trial for eighteen days.

When this unexpected information was communicated to the committee at
Boston, a correspondence was opened by telegraph with Messrs. Seward,
Chase and Fessenden. But Governor Seward had a legal engagement at
Baltimore on the very day appointed for the commencement of the trial,
and the other two gentlemen had indispensable engagements in the courts
of Ohio and Maine. Under these circumstances, as Mr. Hall was not
willing to take the responsibility of acting as counsel in the case, and
as it seemed necessary to have some one familiar with the local
practice, the Boston committee retained the services of J.M. Carlisle,
Esq., of the Washington bar, and Mr. Hildreth again proceeded to
Washington to give his assistance. Just as the trial was about to
commence, Mr. Carlisle being taken sick, the judge was, with great
difficulty, prevailed upon to grant a further delay of three days. This
delay was very warmly opposed, not only by the District Attorney, but by
the same Mr. Radcliff whom we have seen figuring as chairman of the
mob-committee to wait on Dr. Bailey, and who had been retained, at an
expense of two hundred dollars, by the friends of English, as counsel
for him, they thinking it safest not to have his defence mixed up in any
way with that of myself and Sayres. Before the three days were out,
Governor Seward, having finished his business in Baltimore, hastened to
Washington; but, as the rules of the court did not allow more than two
counsel to speak on one side, the other counsel being also fully
prepared, it was judged best to proceed as had been arranged.

The trials accordingly commenced on Thursday, the 27th of July, upon an
indictment against me for stealing two slaves, the property of one
Andrew Houver.

The District Attorney, in opening his case, which he did in a very
dogmatic, overbearing and violent manner, declared that this was no
common affair. The rights of property were violated by every larceny,
but this case was peculiar and enormous. Other kinds of property were
protected by their want of intelligence; but the intelligence of this
kind of property greatly diminished the security of its possession. The
jury therefore were to give such a construction to the laws and the
facts as to subject violators of it to the most serious consequences.

The facts which seemed to be relied upon by the District Attorney as
establishing the alleged larceny were--that I had come to Washington,
and staid from Monday to Saturday, without any ostensible business, when
I had sailed away with seventy-six slaves on board, concealed under the
hatches, and the hatches battened down; and that when pursued and
overtaken the slaves were found on board with provisions enough for a

It is true that Houver swore that the hatches were battened down when
the Pearl was overtaken by the steamer; but in this he was contradicted
by every other government witness. This Houver was, according to some
of the other witnesses, in a considerable state of excitement, and at
the time of the capture he addressed some violent language to me, as
already related. He had sold his two boys, after their recapture, to the
slave-traders; but had been obliged to buy them back again, at a loss of
one hundred dollars, by the remonstrances of his wife, who did not like
to part with them, as they had been raised in the family. Perhaps this
circumstance made him the more inveterate against me.

As to the schooner being provisioned for a month, the bill of the
provisions on board, purchased in Washington, was produced on the trial,
and they were found to amount to three bushels of meal, two hundred and
six pounds of pork, and fifteen gallons of molasses, which, with a
barrel of bread, purchased in Alexandria, would make rather a short
month's supply for seventy-nine persons!

It was also proved, by the government witnesses, that the Pearl was a
mere bay-craft, not fit to go to sea; which did not agree very well with
the idea held out by the District Attorney, that I intended to run these
negroes off to the West Indies, and to sell them there. But, to make up
for these deficiencies, Williams, who acted as the leader of the steamer
expedition, swore that I had said, while on board, that if I had got off
with the negroes I should have made an independent fortune; but on the
next trial he could not say whether it was I who told him so, or whether
somebody else told him that I had said so. Orme and Craig, with whom I
principally conversed, and who went into long details, recollected
nothing of the sort; and it is very certain that, as there was no
foundation for it, and no motive for such a statement on my part, I
never made it. Williams, perhaps, had heard somebody guess that, if I
had got off, I had slaves enough to make me independent; and that guess
of somebody else he perhaps remembered, or seemed to remember, as
something said by me, or reported to have been said by me; and such
often, in cases producing great public excitement, is the sort of
evidence upon which men's lives or liberty is sworn away. The idea,
however, of an intention to run the negroes off for sale, seemed
principally to rest on the testimony of a certain Captain Baker, who had
navigated the steamer by which we were captured at the mouth of the
Potomac, and who saw, as he was crossing over to Coan river for wood, a
long, black, suspicious-looking brig, with her sails loose, lying at
anchor under Point Lookout, about three miles from our vessel. This was
proved, by other witnesses, to be a very common place of anchorage; in
fact, that it was common for vessels waiting for the wind, or otherwise,
to anchor anywhere along the shores of the bay. But Captain Baker
thought otherwise; and he and the District Attorney wished the jury to
infer that this brig seen by him under Point Lookout was a piratical
craft, lying ready to receive the negroes on board, and to carry them
off to Cuba!

Besides Houver, Williams, Orme, Craig and Baker, another witness was
called to testify as to the sale of the wood, and my having been in
Washington the previous summer. Many questions as to evidence arose, and
the examination of these witnesses consumed about two days and a half.

In opening the defence, Mr. Mann commenced with some remarks on the
peculiarity of his position, growing out of the unexpected urgency with
which the case had been pushed to a trial, and the public excitement
which had been produced by it. He also alluded to the hardship of
finding against me such a multiplicity of indictments,--for what
individual, however innocent, could stand up against such an accumulated
series of prosecutions, backed by all the force of the nation? Some
observations on the costs thus unnecessarily accumulated, and, in
particular, on the District Attorney's ten-dollar fees, produced a great
excitement, and loud denials on the part of that officer.

Mr. Mann then proceeded to remark that, in all criminal trials which he
had ever before attended or heard of, the prosecuting officer had stated
and produced to the jury, in his opening, the law alleged to be
violated. As the District Attorney had done nothing of that sort, he
must endeavor to do it for him. Mr. Mann then proceeded to call the
attention of the jury to the two laws already quoted, upon which the two
sets of indictments were founded. Of both these acts charged against
me--the stealing of Houver's slaves, and the helping them to escape
from their master--I could not be guilty. The real question in this
case was, Which had I done?

To make the act stealing, there must have been--so Mr. Mann
maintained--a taking _lucri causa_, as the lawyers say; that is, a
design on my part to appropriate these slaves to my own use, as my own
property. If the object was merely to help them to escape to a free
state, then the case plainly came under the other statute.

In going on to show how likely it was that the persons on board the
Pearl might have desired and sought to escape, independently of any
solicitations or suggestions on my part, Mr. Mann alluded to the meeting
in honor of the French revolution, already mentioned, held the very
night of the arrival of the Pearl at Washington. As he was proceeding to
read certain extracts from the speech of Senator Foote on that occasion,
already quoted, and well calculated, as he suggested, to put ideas of
freedom and emancipation into the heads of the slaves, he was suddenly
interrupted by the judge, when the following curious dialogue occurred:

    "_Judge Crawford_.--A certain latitude is to be allowed
    to counsel in this case; but I cannot permit any
    harangue against slavery to be delivered here.

    "_Carlisle (rising suddenly and stepping forward_).--I
    am sure your honor must be laboring under some strange
    misapprehension. Born and bred and expecting to live and
    die in a slave-holding community, and entertaining no
    ideas different from those, which commonly prevail here,
    I have watched the course of my associate's argument
    with the closest attention. The point he is making, I
    am sure, is most pertinent to the case,--a point it
    would be cowardice in the prisoner's counsel not to
    make; and I must beg your honor to deliberate well
    before you undertake to stop the mouths of counsel, and
    to take care that you have full constitutional warrant
    for doing so.

    "_Judge Crawford_.--I can't permit an harangue against

Mr. Mann proceeded to explain the point at which he was aiming. He had
read these extracts from Mr. Foote's speech, delivered to a
miscellaneous collection of blacks and whites, bond and free, assembled
before the _Union_ office, as showing to what exciting influences the
slaves of the District were exposed, independently of any particular
pains taken by anybody to make them discontented; and, with the same
object in view, he proposed to read some further extracts from other
speeches delivered on the same occasion.

    "_District Attorney_.--If this matter is put in as
    evidence, it must first be proved that such speeches
    were delivered.

    "_Mann_.--If the authenticity of the speeches is denied,
    I will call the Honorable Mr. Foote to prove it.

    "_District Attorney_.--What newspaper is that from which
    the counsel reads?

    "_Mann_ (_holding it up_).--The Washington _Union_, of
    April 19th."

And, without further objection, he proceeded to read some further

He concluded by urging upon the jury that this case was to be viewed
merely as an attempt of certain slaves to escape from their masters, and
on my part an attempt to assist them in so doing; and therefore a case
under the statute of 1796, punishable with fine; and not a larceny, as
charged against me in this indictment.

Several witnesses were called who had known me in Philadelphia, to
testify as to my good character. The District Attorney was very anxious
to get out of these witnesses whether they had never heard me spoken of
as a man likely to run away with slaves? And it did come out from one of
them that, from the tenor of my conversation, it used sometimes to be
talked over, that one day or other it "would heave up" that I had helped
off some negro to a free state. But these conversations, the witness
added, were generally in a jesting tone; and another witness stated that
the charge of running off slaves was a common joke among the watermen.

According to the practice in the Maryland criminal courts,--and the same
practice prevails in the District of Columbia,--the judge does not
address the jury at all. After the evidence is all in, the counsel,
before arguing the case, may call upon the judge to give to the jury
instructions as to the law. These instructions, which are offered in
writing, and argued by the counsel, the judge can give or refuse, as he
sees fit, or can alter them to suit himself; but any such refusal or
alteration furnishes ground for a bill of exceptions, on which the case,
if a verdict is given against the prisoner, may be carried by writ of
error before the Circuit Court of the District, for their revisal.

My counsel asked of the judge no less than fourteen instructions on
different points of law, ten of which the judge refused to give, and
modified to suit himself. Several of these related to the true
definition of theft, or what it was that makes a taking larceny.

It was contended by my counsel, and they asked the judge to instruct the
jury, that, to convict me of larceny, it must be proved that the taking
the slaves on board the Pearl was with the intent to convert them to my
own use, and to derive a gain from such conversion; and that, if they
believed that the slaves were received on board with the design to help
them to escape to a free state, then the offence was not larceny, but a
violation of the statute of 1796.

This instruction, variously put, was six times over asked of the judge,
and as often refused. He was no less anxious than the District Attorney
to convict me of larceny, and send me to the penitentiary. But, having a
vast deal more sense than the District Attorney, he saw that the idea
that I had carried off these negroes to sell them again for my own
profit was not tenable. It was plain enough that my intention was to
help them to escape. The judge therefore, who did not lack ingenuity,
went to work to twist the law so as, if possible, to bring my case
within it. Even he did not venture to say that merely to assist slaves
to escape was stealing. Stealing, he admitted, must be a taking, _lucri
causa_, for the sake of gain; but--so he told the jury in one of his
instructions--"this desire of gain need not be to convert the article
taken to his--the taker's--own use, nor to obtain for the thief the
value in money of the thing stolen. If the act was prompted by a desire
to obtain for himself, or another even, other than the owner, a money
gain, or any other inducing advantage, a dishonest gain, then the act
was a larceny." And, in another instruction, he told the jury, "that if
they believed, from the evidence, that the prisoner, before receiving
the slaves on board, imbued their minds with discontent, persuaded them
to go with him, and, by corrupt influences and inducements, caused them
to come to his ship, and then took and carried them down the river, then
the act was a larceny."

Upon these instructions of the judge, to which bills of exceptions were
filed by my counsel, the case, which had been already near a week on
trial, was argued to the jury. The District Attorney had the opening and
the close, and both my counsel had the privilege of speaking. For the
following sketch of the argument, as well as of the legal points already
noted, I am indebted to the notes of Mr. Hildreth, taken at the time:

    "_District Attorney_.--I shall endeavor to be very brief
    in the opening, reserving myself till I know the grounds
    of defence. It is the duty of the jury to give their
    verdict according to the law and evidence; and, so far
    as I knew public opinion, there neither exists now, nor
    has existed at any other time, the slightest desire on
    the part of a single individual that the prisoner should
    have otherwise than a fair trial. I think, therefore,
    the solemn warnings by the prisoner's counsel to the
    jury were wholly uncalled for. There was, no doubt, an
    excitement out of doors,--a natural excitement,--at such
    an amount of property snatched up at one fell swoop; but
    was that to justify the suggestion to a jury of twelve
    honest men that they were not to act the part of a mob?
    The learned counsel who opened the case for the prisoner
    has alluded to the disadvantage of his position from the
    fact that he was a stranger. I acknowledge that
    disadvantage, and I have attempted to remedy it, and so
    has the court, by extending towards him every possible

    "The prisoner's counsel seems to think I press this
    matter too hard. But am I to sit coolly by and see the
    hard-earned property of the inhabitants of this District
    carried off, and when the felon is brought into court
    not do my best to secure his conviction? [The District
    Attorney here went into a long and labored defence of
    the course he had taken in preferring against the
    prisoner forty-one indictments for larceny, and
    seventy-four others, on the same state of facts, for
    transportation. He denied that the forty-one larcenies
    of the property of different individuals could be
    included in one indictment, and declared that if the
    prisoner's counsel would show the slightest authority
    for it he would give up the case. After going on in this
    strain for an hour or more, attacking the opposite
    counsel and defending himself, in what Carlisle
    pronounced 'the most extraordinary opening argument he
    had ever heard in his life,' the District Attorney came
    down at last to the facts of the case."]

    "In what position is the prisoner placed by the
    evidence? How is he introduced to the jury by his
    Philadelphia friends? These witnesses were examined as
    to his character, and the substance of their testimony
    is, that he is a man who would steal a negro if he got a
    chance. He passed for honest otherwise. But he says
    himself he would steal a negro to liberate him, and the
    court says it makes no difference whether he steals to
    liberate or steals to sell. Being caught in the act, he
    acknowledges his guilt, and says he was a deserter from
    his God,--a backslider,--a church-member one year--the
    next, in the Potomac with a schooner, stealing
    seventy-four negroes! Why say he took them for gain, if
    he did not steal them? Why say he knew he should end his
    days in a penitentiary? Why say if he got off with the
    negroes he should have realized an independent fortune?
    Did he not know they were slaves? He chartered the
    vessel to carry off negroes; and, if they were free
    negroes, or he supposed them to be, how was he to
    realize an independent fortune? He was afraid of the
    excitement at Washington. Why so, if the negroes were
    not slaves? There was the fact of their being under the
    hatches, concealed in the hold of the vessel,--did not
    that prove he meant to steal them? Add to that the other
    fact of his leaving at night. He comes here with a
    miserable load of wood; gives it away; sells it for a
    note; did not care about the wood, wanted only to get it
    out; had a longing for a cargo of negroes. The wood was
    a blind; besides he lied about it;--would he have ever
    come back to collect his note? But the prisoner's
    counsel says the slaves might have heard Mr. Foote's
    torch-light oration, and so have been persuaded to go. A
    likely story! They all started off, I suppose, ran
    straight down to the vessel and got into the hold!
    Seventy-four negroes all together! But was not the
    vessel chartered in Philadelphia to carry off negroes?
    This shows the excessive weakness of the defence. And
    how did the slaves behave after they were captured? If
    they had been running away, would they not have been
    downcast and disheartened? Would not they have said, Now
    we are taken? On the other hand, according to the
    testimony of Major Williams, on their way back they were
    laughing, shouting and eating molasses in large
    quantities. Nero fiddled when Rome was burning, but did
    not eat molasses. What a transition, from liberty to

    "Then it is proved that the bulkhead between the cabin
    and the hold was knocked down, and that the slaves went
    to Drayton and asked if they should fight. Did not that
    show his authority over them,--that the slaves were
    under his control, and that he was the master-spirit? It
    speaks volumes. [Here followed a long eulogy on the
    gallantry and humanity of the thirty-five captors. One
    man did threaten a little, but he was drunk.]

    "The substance of the law, as laid down by the judge, is
    this: If Drayton came here to carry off these people,
    and, by machinations, prevailed on them to go with him,
    and knew they were slaves, it makes no difference
    whether he took them to liberate, or took them to sell.
    If he was to be paid for carrying them away, that was
    gain enough. Suppose a man were to take it into his head
    that the northern factories were very bad things for the
    health of the factory-girls, and were to go with a
    schooner for the purpose of liberating those poor devils
    by stealing the spindles, would not he be served as this
    prisoner is served here? Would they not exhaust the
    law-books to find the severest punishment? There may be
    those carried so far by a miserable mistaken
    philanthropy as even to steal slaves for the sake of
    setting them at liberty. But this prisoner says he did
    it for gain. We might look upon him with some respect
    if, in a manly style, he insisted on his right to
    liberate them. But he avowedly steals for gain. He lies
    about it, besides. Even a jury of abolitionists would
    have no sympathy for such a man. Try him anyhow, by the
    word of God--by the rules of common honesty--he would be
    convicted, anyhow. He is presented to the world at large
    as a rogue and a common thief and liar. There can be no
    other conception of him. He did it for dishonest gain.

    "The prisoner must be convicted. He cannot escape. There
    can be no manner of doubt as to his guilt. I am at a
    loss, without appearing absurd in my own eyes, to
    conceive what kind of a defence can be made.

    "I have not the least sort of feeling against the wretch
    himself,--I desire a conviction from principle. I have
    heard doctrines asserted on this trial that strike
    directly at the rights and liberty of southern citizens.
    I have heard counsel seeking to establish principles
    that strike directly at the security of southern
    property. I feel no desire that this man, as a man,
    should be convicted; but I do desire that all persons
    inclined to infringe on our rights of property should
    know that there is a law hero to punish them, and I am
    happy that the law has been so clearly laid down by the
    court. Let it be known from Maine to Texas, to earth's
    widest limits, that we have officers and juries to
    execute that law, no matter by whom it may be violated!

    "_Mann_--for the prisoner--regretted to occupy any more
    of the jury's time with this very protracted trial. I
    mentioned, some days since, that the prisoner was
    liable, under the indictments against him, to eight
    hundred years imprisonment,--a term hardly to be served
    out by Methuselah himself; but, apart from any
    punishment, if his hundred and twenty-five trials are
    to proceed at this rate, the chance is he will die
    without ever reaching their termination. The District
    Attorney has dwelt at great length on what passed the
    other day, and more than once he has pointedly referred
    to me, in a tone and manner not to be mistaken. I have
    endeavored to conduct this trial according to the
    principles of law, and to that standard I mean to come
    up. My client, though a prisoner at this bar, has
    rights, legal, social, human; and upon those rights I
    mean to insist. This is the first time in my life that I
    ever heard a prisoner on trial, and before conviction,
    denounced as a liar, a thief, a felon, a wretch, a
    rogue. It is unjust to apply these terms to any man on
    trial. The law presumes him to be innocent. The feelings
    of the prisoner ought not to be thus outraged. He is
    unfortunate; he may be guilty; that is the very point
    you are to try.

    "This prisoner is charged with stealing two slaves, the
    property of Andrew Houver. Did he, or not? That point
    you are to try by the law and the evidence. Because you
    may esteem this a peculiarly valuable kind of property,
    you are not to measure out in this case a peculiar kind
    of justice. You have heard the evidence; the law for the
    purposes of this trial you are to take from the judge.
    But you are not to be led away with the idea that you
    must convict this prisoner at any rate. It is a
    well-established principle that it is better for an
    indefinite number of guilty men to escape than for one
    innocent man to be convicted and punished; and for the
    best of reasons,--for to have the very machinery
    established for the protection of right turned into an
    instrument for the infliction of wrong, strikes a more
    fatal blow at civil society than any number of
    unpunished private injuries.

    "Nor is there any danger that the prisoner will escape
    due punishment for any crimes he may have committed.
    Besides this and forty other larceny indictments hanging
    over his head, there are seventy-four transportation
    indictments against him. Now, he cannot be guilty of
    both; and which of these offences, if either, does the
    evidence against him prove?

    "Who is this man? Look at him! You see he has passed the
    meridian of life. You have heard about him from his
    neighbors. They pronounce him a fair, upright, moral
    man. No suspicion hitherto was ever breathed against his
    honesty. He was a professor of religion, and, so far as
    we know, had walked in all the ordinances and commands
    of the law blameless. Now, in all cases of doubt, a fair
    and exemplary character, especially in an elderly man,
    is a great capital to begin with. This prisoner may have
    been mistaken in his views as to matters of human right;
    but, as to violating what he believed to be duty, there
    is not the slightest evidence that such was his
    character, but abundance to the contrary. He is found
    under circumstances that make him amenable to the law;
    let him be tried,--I do not gainsay that; but let him
    have the common sentiments of humanity extended toward
    him, even if he be guilty.

    "The point urged against him with such earnestness--I
    may say vehemence--is, not that he took the slaves
    merely, but that he took them with design to steal. His
    confessions are dwelt upon, stated and overstated, as
    you will recollect. But consider under what
    circumstances these alleged confessions were made. There
    are circumstances which make such statements very
    fallacious. Consider his excitement--his state of
    health; for it is in evidence that he had been out of
    health, suffering with some disorder which required his
    head to be shaved. Consider the armed men that
    surrounded him, and the imminent peril in which he
    believed his life to be. It is great injustice to brand
    him with the foul epithet of liar for any little
    discrepancies, if such there were, in statements made
    under such circumstances. Other matters have been forced
    in, of a most extraordinary character, to prejudice his
    case in your eyes. It has been suggested--the idea has
    been thrown out, again and again--that, under pretence
    of helping them to freedom, he meant to sell these
    negroes. This suggestion, which outruns all reason and
    discretion, is founded on the simple fact of a brig seen
    lying at anchor in a place of common anchorage,
    suggesting no suspicious appearance, but as to which you
    are asked to infer that these seventy-six slaves were to
    be transported into her, and carried to Cuba or
    elsewhere for sale. What a monstrous imagination! What a
    gross libel on that brig, her officers, her crew, her
    owners, all of whom are thus charged as kidnappers and
    pirates; and all this baseless dream got up for the
    purpose of influencing your minds against the prisoner!
    It marks, indeed, with many other things, the style in
    which this prosecution is conducted.

    "Take the law as laid down by the court, and it is
    necessary for the government to prove, if this
    indictment is to be sustained, that the prisoner
    corrupted the minds of Houver's slaves, and induced and
    persuaded them to go on board his vessel. They were
    found on board the prisoner's vessel, no doubt; but as
    to how they came there we have not a particle of
    evidence. Here is a gap, a fatal gap, in the
    government's case. By what second-sight are you to look
    into this void space and time, and to say that Drayton
    enticed them to go on board? [The counsel here read from
    1 _Starkie on Evidence,_ 510, &c., to the effect that
    the prosecution are bound by the evidence to exclude
    every hypothesis inconsistent with the prisoner's
    guilt.] Now, is it the only possible means of accounting
    for the presence of Houver's slaves on board to suppose
    that this prisoner enticed them? Might not somebody else
    have done it? Might they not have gone without being
    enticed at all? We wished to call the slaves themselves
    as witnesses, but the law shuts up their mouths. Can
    you, without any evidence, say that Drayton enticed
    them, and that by no other means could they come
    onboard? Presumptive evidence, as laid down in the
    book--an acknowledged and unquestioned authority--from
    which I have read, ought to be equally strong with the
    evidence of one unimpeached witness swearing positively
    to the fact. Are you as sure that Drayton enticed those
    slaves as if that fact had been positively sworn to by
    one witness, testifying that he stood by and saw and
    heard it? If you are not, then, under the law as laid
    down by the court, you can not find him guilty.

    "_Thursday, Aug_. 13.

    "_Carlisle_, for the prisoner.--The sun under which we
    draw our breath, the soil we tottle over, in childhood,
    the air we breathe, the objects that earliest attract
    our attention, the whole system of things with which our
    youth is surrounded, impress firmly upon us ideas and
    sentiments which cling to us to our latest breath, and
    modify all our views. I trust I am man enough always to
    remember this, when I hear opinions expressed and views
    maintained by men educated under a system different from
    that prevailing here, no matter how contrary those views
    and opinions may be to my own.

    "It may surprise those of you who know me,--the moral
    atmosphere in which I have grown up, and the opinions
    which I entertain,--but never have I felt so deep and
    hearty an interest in the defence of any case as in
    this. This prisoner I never saw till I came from a sick
    bed into this court, when I met him for the first time.
    I had participated strongly in the feeling which in
    connection with him had been excited in this community.
    As you well know, I have and could have no sympathy with
    the motives by which he may be presumed to have been
    actuated. Why, then, this sudden feeling in his behalf?
    Not, I assure you, from mercenary motives. His acquittal
    or his condemnation will make no difference in the
    compensation I receive for my services. The overpowering
    interest I feel in this case originates in the fact that
    it places at stake the reputation of this District, and,
    in some respects, of the country itself, of which this
    city is the political capital. The counsel for the
    government has dwelt with emphasis on the great amount
    and value of property placed at hazard by this prisoner.
    There is something, however, far more valuable than
    property--a fair, honorable, impartial administration of
    justice; and of the chivalrous race of the south it may
    be expected that they will do justice, though the
    heavens fall! God forbid that the world should point to
    this trial as a proof that we are so besotted by passion
    and interest that we cannot discern the most obvious
    distinctions and that on a slave question with a jury of
    slave-holders there is no possible chance of justice!
    Many, I assure you, will be ready to fasten this charge
    upon us. It is my hope, my ardent desire, it is your
    sworn duty, that no step be taken against this prisoner
    without full warrant of law and evidence. The duty of
    defence I discharge with pleasure. I could have desired
    that this prisoner might have been defended entirely by
    counsel resident in this District. It would have been my
    pride to have shown to the world that of our own mere
    motion we would do justice in any case, no matter how
    delicate, no matter how sore the point the prisoner had

    "My learned friend, the District Attorney, has alluded
    to the courtesy which he and the court have extended to
    my associate in this cause. I hope he does not plume
    himself upon that. A gentleman of my associate's
    learning, ability, unexceptionable deportment, and high
    character among his own people, must and will be treated
    with courtesy wherever he goes. But, at the same time
    that he boasts of his courtesy, the District Attorney
    takes occasion to charge my associate with gross
    ignorance of the law. He says the forty-one charges
    could not have been included in one indictment, and
    offers to give up the case if we will produce a single
    authority to that effect. It were easy to produce the
    authority [see 1 _Chitty_, C.L. Indictment], but,
    unfortunately, the District Attorney has made a promise
    which he can't fulfil. The District Attorney is mistaken
    in this matter; at the same time, let me admit that in
    the management of this case he has displayed an ability
    beyond his years. This is the first prosecution ever
    brought, so far as we can discover, on this
    slave-stealing statute, either in this District or in
    Maryland. This statute, of the existence of which few
    lawyers were aware,--I am sure I was not,--has been
    waked up, after a slumber of more than a century, and
    brought to bear upon my client. It is your duty to go
    into the examination of this novel case temperately and
    carefully; to take care that no man and no court, upon
    review of the case, shall be able to say that your
    verdict is not warranted by the evidence. If the case is
    made out against the prisoner, convict him; but if not,
    as you value the reputation of the District and your own
    souls, beware how you give a verdict against him!

    "You are not a lynch-law court. It is no part of your
    business to inquire whether the prisoner has done
    wrong, and if so to punish him for it. It is your sole
    business to inquire if he be guilty of this, special
    charge set forth against him in this indictment, of
    stealing Andrew Houver's two slaves. The law you are not
    expected to judge of; to enlighten you on that matter,
    we have prayed instructions from the court, and those
    instructions, for the purpose of this trial, are to be
    taken as the law. The question for you is, Does the
    evidence in this case bring the prisoner within the law
    as laid down by the court? To bring him within that law,
    you are not to go upon imagination, but upon facts
    proved by witnesses; and, it seems to me, you have a
    very plain duty before you. This is not a thing done in
    a corner. Take care that you render such a verdict that
    you will not be ashamed to have it set forth in letters
    of light, visible to all the world.

    "There are two offences established by the statutes of
    Maryland, between which, in this case, it becomes your
    duty to distinguish. Everything depends on these
    statutes, because without these statutes neither act is
    a crime. At common law, there are no such offences as
    stealing slaves, or transporting slaves. Now, which of
    these two acts is proved against this prisoner? In some
    respects they are alike. The carrying the slaves away,
    the depriving the master of their services, is common to
    both. But, to constitute the stealing of slaves,
    according to the law as laid down by the court, there
    must be something more yet. There must be a corruption
    of the minds of the slaves, and a seducing them to leave
    their masters' service. And does not this open a plain
    path for this prisoner out of the danger of this
    prosecution? Where is the least evidence that the
    prisoner seduced these slaves, and induced them to leave
    their masters? Has the District Attorney, with all his
    zeal, pointed out a single particle of evidence of that
    sort? Has he done anything to take this case out of the
    transportation statute, and to convert it into a case of
    stealing? He has, to be sure, indulged in some very
    harsh epithets applied to this prisoner,--epithets very
    similar to those which Lord Coke indulged in on the
    trial of Sir Walter Raleigh, and which drew out on the
    part of that prisoner a memorable retort. My client is
    not a Raleigh; but neither, I must be permitted to say,
    is the District Attorney a Lord Coke. I should be sorry
    to have it go abroad that we cannot try a man for an
    offence of this sort without calling him a liar, a
    rogue, a wretch. [The District Attorney here
    interrupted, with a good deal of warmth. He insisted
    that he did not address the prisoner, but the jury, and
    that it was his right to call the attention of the jury
    to the evidence proving the prisoner to be a liar, rogue
    and wretch.]

    _Carlisle_--I do not dispute the learned gentleman's
    right. It is a matter of taste; but with you, gentlemen
    of the jury, these harsh epithets are not to make the
    difference of a hair. You are to look at the evidence;
    and where is the evidence that the prisoner seduced and
    enticed these slaves?

    "It may happen to any man to have a runaway slave in his
    premises, and even in his employment. It happened to me
    to have in my employ a runaway,--one of the best
    servants, by the way, I ever had. He told me he was
    free, and I employed him as such. If I had happened to
    have taken him to Baltimore, there would have been a
    complete similitude to the case at bar, and, according
    to the District Attorney's logic, I might have been
    indicted for stealing. Because I had him with me, I am
    to be presumed to have enticed him from his master! As
    to the particular circumstances under which he came into
    my employment, I might have been wholly unable to show
    them. Is it not possible to suppose a great number of
    circumstances under which these slaves of Houver left
    their master's service and came on board the Pearl,
    without any agency on the part of this prisoner? Now,
    the government might positively disprove and exclude
    forty such suppositions; but, so long as one remained
    which was not excluded, you cannot find a verdict of
    conviction. The government is to prove that the prisoner
    enticed and seduced these negroes, and you have no right
    to presume he did so unless every other possible
    explanation of the case is positively excluded by the
    testimony. Is it so extravagant a supposition that Mr.
    Foote's speech, and the other torch-light speeches
    heretofore alluded to, heard by these slaves, or
    communicated to them, might have so wrought upon their
    minds as to induce them to leave their masters? I don't
    say that they had any right to suppose that these
    declamations about universal emancipation had any
    reference to them. I am a southern man, and I hold to
    the southern doctrine. I admit that there is no
    inconsistency between perfect civil liberty and holding
    people of another race in domestic servitude. But then
    it is natural that these people should overlook this
    distinction, however obvious and important. Nor do they
    lack wit to apply these speeches to their own case or
    interest in such matters. I myself have a slave as quick
    to see distinctions as I am, and who would have made a
    better lawyer if he had had the same advantages. It came
    out the other day, in a trial in this court, that the
    colored people have debating-societies among themselves.
    It was an assault and battery case; one of the
    disputants, in the heat of the argument, struck the
    other; but then they have precedents for that in the
    House of Representatives. Is it an impossible, or
    improbable, or a disproved supposition, that a number of
    slaves, having agreed together to desert their masters,
    or having concerted such a plan with somebody here,
    Drayton was employed to come and take them away, and
    that he received them on board without ever having seen
    one of them? If his confessions are to be taken at all,
    they are to be taken together; and do they not tend to
    prove such a state of facts? Drayton says he was hired
    to come here,--that he was to be paid for taking them
    away. Does that look as if he seduced them? [The counsel
    here commented at length on Drayton's statements, for
    the purpose of showing that they tended to prove nothing
    more than a transportation for hire; and he threw no
    little ridicule on the 'phantom ship' which the District
    Attorney had conjured up in his opening of the case, but
    which, in his late speech, he had wholly overlooked.]

    "But, even should you find that Drayton seduced these
    slaves to leave their masters, to make out a case of
    larceny you must be satisfied that he took them into his
    possession. Now, what is possession of a slave? Not
    merely being in company with him. If I ride in a hack, I
    am not in possession of the driver. Possession of a
    slave is dominion and control; and where is the
    slightest evidence that this prisoner claimed any
    dominion or control over these slaves? The whole
    question in this case is, Were these slaves stolen, or
    were they running away with the prisoner's assistance?
    The mere fact of their being in the prisoner's company
    throws no light whatever on this matter.

    "The great point, however, in this case is this,--By the
    judge's instructions, enticement must be proved. Shall
    the record of this trial go forth to the world showing
    that you have found a fact of which there was no

    "I believe in my conscience there is a gap in this
    evidence not to be filled up except by passion and
    prejudice. If that is so, I hope there is no one so
    ungenerous, so little of a true southerner, as to blame
    me for my zeal in this case, or not to rejoice in a
    verdict of acquittal. It is bad enough that strangers
    should have got up a mob in this District in relation to
    this matter. It would, however, be a million times worse
    if juries cannot be found here cool and dispassionate
    enough to render impartial verdicts.

    "_District Attorney_.--I hope, gentlemen of the jury,
    you will rise above all out-of-door influence. Make
    yourselves abolitionists, if you can; but look at the
    facts of the case. And, looking at those facts, is it
    necessary for me to open my lips in reply? In a case
    like this, sustained by such direct testimony, such
    overwhelming proof, I defy any man,--however crazy on
    the subject of slavery, unless he be blinded by some
    film of interest,--to hesitate a moment as to his
    conclusions. [The District Attorney here proceeded at
    great length, and with a great air of offended dignity,
    to complain of having been schooled and advised by the
    prisoner's counsel, and to justify the use of the foul
    epithets he had bestowed on the prisoner.] This is not a
    place for parlor talk. I had chosen the English words
    that conveyed my meaning most distinctly. It was all
    very well for the prisoner's counsel to smooth things
    over; but was I, instead of calling him a liar, to say,
    he told a fib? When I call him a thief and a felon, do I
    go beyond the charge of the grand jury in the
    indictment? If this is stepping over the limits of
    propriety, in all similar cases I shall do the same. I
    do not intend to blackguard the prisoner,--I do not
    delight in using these epithets. My heart is not locked
    up; I am no Jack Ketch, prosecuting criminals for ten
    dollars a head. I sympathize with the wretches brought
    here; but when I choose to call them by their proper
    names I am not to be accused of bandying epithets. [The
    District Attorney then proceeded also at great length,
    and in a high key, to justify his hundred and
    twenty-five indictments against the prisoner, and to
    clear himself from the imputation of mercenary motives,
    on the ground that the business of the year,
    independently of these indictments, would furnish the
    utmost amount to which he was entitled. He next referred
    to the matter of the brig testified to by Captain Baker,
    which had been made the occasion of much ridicule by the
    prisoner's counsel. Part of the evidence which he had
    relied on in connection with the brig had been ruled
    out; and the law, as laid down by the court, according
    to which taking to liberate was the same as taking to
    steal, had made it unnecessary for him, so he said, to
    dwell on this part of the case. Yet he now proceeded to
    argue at great length, from the testimony in the case,
    that there must have been a connection between the brig
    and the schooner; that, as the schooner was confessedly
    unseaworthy, and could not have gone out of the bay, it
    must have been the intention to put the slaves on board
    the brig, and to carry them off to Cuba or elsewhere and
    sell them. The testimony to this effect he pronounced

    "The United States (said the District Attorney) have
    laid before you the clearest possible case. I have just
    gone through a pretty long term of this court; I see
    several familiar faces on the jury, and I rely on your
    intelligence. In fact, the only point of the defence is,
    that the United States have offered no proof that
    Drayton seduced and enticed these slaves to come on
    board the Pearl; and that the prisoner's counsel are
    pleased to call a gap, a chasm, which they say you can't
    fill up. It is the same gap which occurs in every
    larceny case. Where can the government produce positive
    testimony to the taking? That is done secretly, in the
    dark, and is to be presumed from circumstances. A man is
    found going off with a bag of chickens,--your chickens.
    Are you going to presume that the chickens run into his
    bag of their own accord, and without his agency? A man
    is found riding your horse. Are you to presume that the
    horse came to him of its own accord? and yet horses love
    liberty,--they love to kick up their heels and run. Yet
    this would be just as sensible as to suppose that these
    slaves came on board Drayton's vessel without his direct
    agency. He came here from Philadelphia for them; they
    are found on board his vessel; Drayton says he would
    steal a negro if he could; is not that enough? Then he
    was here some months before with an oyster-boat,
    pretending to sell oysters. He pretended that he came
    for his health. Likely story, indeed! I should like to
    see the doctor who would recommend a patient to come
    here in the fall of the year, when the fever and ague is
    so thick in the marshes that you can cut it with a
    knife. Cruising about, eating and selling oysters, at
    that time of the year, for his health! Nonsense! He was
    here, at that very time, hatching and contriving that
    these very negroes should go on board the Pearl. But the
    prisoner's counsel say he might have been employed by
    others simply to carry them away! Who could have
    employed him but abolitionists; and did he not say he
    had no sympathy with abolitionists. So much for that
    hypothesis. Then, he in fact pleads guilty,--he says he
    expects to die in the penitentiary. Don't you think he
    ought to? If there is any chasm here, the prisoner must
    shed light upon it. If he had employers, who were they?
    The prisoner's counsel have said that he is not bound to
    tell; and that the witnesses, if summoned here, would
    not be compelled to criminate themselves. But shall this
    prisoner be allowed to take advantage of his own wrong?

    "As to the metaphysics of the prisoner's counsel about
    possession, that is easily disposed of. Were not these
    slaves found in Drayton's possession, and didn't he
    admit that he took them?

    "As to the cautions given you about prejudice and
    passion, I do not think they are necessary. I have seen
    no sort of excitement here since the first detection of
    this affair that would prevent the prisoner having a
    fair trial. Is there any crowd or excitement here? The
    community will be satisfied with the verdict. There is
    no question the party is guilty. I never had anything to
    do with a case sustained by stronger evidence. I don't
    ask you to give an illegal or perjured verdict. Take the
    law and the evidence, and decide upon it.

    "N.B.--The argument being now concluded, and the jury
    about to go out, some question arose whether the jury
    should have the written instructions of the court with
    them; and some inquiry being made as to the practice,
    one of the jurors observed that in a case in which he
    had formerly acted as juror the jury had the
    instructions with them, and he proceeded to tell a funny
    story about a bottle of rum, told by one of the jurors
    on that occasion, which story caused him to remember the
    fact. It may be observed, by the way, that the
    proceedings of the United States Criminal Court for the
    District of Columbia are not distinguished for any
    remarkable decorum or dignity. The jury, in this case,
    were in constant intercourse, during any little
    intervals in the trial, with the spectators outside the

The case was given to the jury about three o'clock, P.M., and the court,
after waiting half an hour, adjourned.

When the court met, at ten o'clock the next morning, the jury were still
out, having remained together all night without being able to agree.
Meanwhile the District Attorney proceeded to try me on another
indictment, for stealing three slaves the property of one William H.
Upperman. As this trial was proceeding, about half-past two the jury in
the first case came in, and rendered a verdict of GUILTY. They presented
rather a haggard appearance, having been locked up for twenty-four
hours, and some of them being perhaps a little troubled in their
consciences. The jury, it was understood, had been divided, from the
beginning, four for acquittal and eight for conviction. These four were
all Irishmen, and perhaps they did not consider it consistent with their
personal safety and business interests to persist in disappointing the
slave-holding public of that verdict which the District Attorney had so
imperiously demanded. The agreement, it was understood, had taken place
only a few moments before they came in, and had been reached entirely on
the strength of Williams' testimony to my having said, that had I got
off I should have made an independent fortune. Now, it was a curious
coincidence, that at the very moment that this agreement was thus taking
place, Williams, again on the stand as a witness on the second trial,
wished to take back what he had then sworn to on the first trial,
stating that he could not tell whether he had heard me say this, or
whether he had heard of my having said it from somebody else.

After the rendition of the verdict of the other jury, the second case
was again resumed. The evidence varied in only a few particulars from
that which had been given in the first case. There was, in addition,
the testimony of Upperman, the pretended owner of the woman and her
daughters, one of fifteen, the other nine years old, whom I was charged
in this indictment with stealing. This man swore with no less alacrity,
and with no less falsehood, than Houver had done before him. He stated
that about half-past ten, of that same night that the Pearl left
Washington, while he was fastening up his house, he saw a man standing
on the side-walk opposite his door, and observed him for some time. Not
long after, having gone to bed, he heard a noise of somebody coming down
stairs; and, calling out, he was answered by his slave-woman, who was
just then going off, though he had no suspicion of it at the time. That
man standing on the side-walk he pretended to recognize as me. He was
perfectly certain of it, beyond all doubt and question. The object of
this testimony was, to lead to a conclusion of enticement or persuasion
on my part, and so to bring the case within one of the judge's
instructions already stated. On a subsequent trial, Upperman was still
more certain, if possible, that I was the man. But he was entirely
mistaken in saying so. His house was on Pennsylvania Avenue, more than a
mile from where the Pearl lay, and I was not within a mile of it that
night. I dare say Upperman was sincere enough. He was one of your
positive sort of men; but his case, like that of Houver, shows that men
in a passion will sometimes fall into blunders. I have reason to believe
that after the trials were over Upperman became satisfied of his error.

The first trial had consumed a week; the second one lasted four days.
The judge laid down the same law as before, and similar exceptions were
taken by my counsel. The jury again remained out all night, being long
divided,--nine for conviction to three for acquittal; but on the morning
of August 9th they came in with a verdict of GUILTY.

Satisfied for the present with these two verdicts against me, the
District Attorney now proposed to pass over the rest of my cases, and to
proceed to try Sayres. My counsel objected that, having been forced to
proceed against my remonstrances, I was here ready for trial, and they
insisted that all my cases should be now disposed of. They did not
prevail, however; and the District Attorney proceeded to try Sayres on
an indictment for stealing the same two slaves of Houver.

In addition to the former witnesses against me, English was now put upon
the stand, the District Attorney having first entered _nolle prosequi_
upon the hundred and fifteen indictments against him. But he could state
nothing except the circumstances of his connection with the affair, and
the coming on board of the passengers on Saturday night, as I have
already related them. On the other hand, the "phantom brig" story, of
which the District Attorney had made so great a handle in the two cases
against me, was now ruled out, on the ground that the brig could not be
brought into the case till some connection had first been shown between
her and the Pearl. The trial lasted three days. The District Attorney
pressed for a conviction with no less violence than he had done in my
case, assuring the jury that if they did not convict there was an end of
the security of slave property. But Sayres had several advantages over
me. My two juries had been citizens of Washington, several of them
belonging to a class of loafers who frequent the courts for the sake of
the fees to be got as jurymen. Some complaints having been made of this,
the officers had been sent to Georgetown and the country districts, and
the present jury was drawn from those quarters. Then, again, I was
regarded as the main culprit,--the only one in the secret of the
transaction; and, as I was already convicted, the feeling against Sayres
was much lessened. In fact, the jury in his case, after an absence of
half an hour, returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY.

The District Attorney, greatly surprised and vexed, proceeded to try
Sayres on another indictment. This trial lasted three days and a half;
but, in spite of the efforts of the District Attorney, who was more
positive, longer and louder, than ever, the jury, in ten minutes,
returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY.

The trials had now continued through nearly four weeks of very hot
weather, and both sides were pretty well worn out. Vexed at the two last
verdicts, the District Attorney threatened to give up Sayres on a
requisition from Virginia, which was said to have been lodged for us,
some of the alleged slaves belonging there, and we having been there
shortly before.

Finally, it was agreed that verdicts should be taken against Sayres in
the seventy-four transportation cases, he to have the advantage of
carrying the points of law before the Circuit Court, and the remaining
larceny indictments against him to be discontinued.

Thus ended the first legal campaign. English was discharged altogether,
without trial. Sayres had got rid of the charge of larceny. I had been
found guilty on two indictments for stealing, upon which Judge Crawford
sentenced me to twenty years imprisonment in the penitentiary; while
Sayres, on seventy-four indictments for assisting the escape of slaves,
was sentenced to a fine on each indictment of one hundred and fifty
dollars and costs, amounting altogether to seven thousand four hundred
dollars. But from these judgments an appeal had been taken to the
Circuit Court, and meanwhile Sayres and I remained in prison as before.

The hearing before the Circuit Court came on the 26th of November. That
court consisted of Chief-Justice Cranch, an able and upright judge, but
very old and infirm; and Judges Morrell and Dunlap, the latter of whom
claimed to be the owner of two of the negroes found on board the Pearl.

My cases were argued for me by Messrs. Hildreth, Carlisle and Mann. The
District Attorney, who was much better fitted to bawl to a jury than to
argue before a court, had retained, at the expense of the United States,
the assistance of Mr. Bradley, one of the ablest lawyers of the
District. The argument consumed not less than three days. Many points
were discussed; but that on which the cases turned was the definition of
larceny. It resulted in the allowance of several of my bills of
exceptions, the overturn of the law of Judge Crawford on the subject of
larceny, and the establishment by the Circuit Court of the doctrine on
that subject contended for by my counsel; but from this opinion Judge
Dunlap dissented. The case of Sayres, for want of time, was postponed
till the next term.

A new trial having been ordered in my two cases, everybody supposed that
the charge of larceny would now be abandoned, as the Circuit Court had
taken away the only basis on which it could possibly rest. But the zeal
of the District Attorney was not yet satisfied; and, no longer trusting
to his own unassisted efforts, he obtained (at the expense of the United
States) the assistance of Richard Cox, Esq., an old and very
unscrupulous practitioner, with whose aid he tried the cases over again
in the Criminal Court. The two trials lasted about fourteen days. I was
again defended by Messrs. Mann and Carlisle, and now with better
success, as the juries, under the instructions which Judge Crawford
found himself obliged to give, and notwithstanding the desperate efforts
against me, acquitted me in both cases, almost without leaving their

Finally, the District Attorney agreed to abandon the remaining larceny
cases, if we would consent to verdicts in the transportation cases on
the same terms with those in the case of Sayres. This was done; when
Judge Crawford had the satisfaction of sentencing me to fines and costs
amounting together to ten thousand and sixty dollars, and to remain in
prison until that amount was paid.

There was still a further hearing before the Circuit Court on the bills
of exceptions to these transportation indictments. My counsel thought
they had some good legal objections; but the hearing unfortunately came
on when Judge Cranch was absent from the bench, and the other two judges
overruled them. By a strange construction of the laws, no criminal case,
except by accident, can be carried before the Supreme Court of the
United States; otherwise, the cases against us would have been taken
there, including the question of the legality of slavery in the District
of Columbia.

Thus, after a severe and expensive struggle, I was saved from the
penitentiary; but Sayres and myself remained in the Washington jail,
loaded with enormous fines, which, from our total inability to pay them,
would keep us there for life, unless the President could be induced to
pardon us; and it was even questioned, as I shall show presently,
whether he had any such power.

The jail of the District of Columbia is under the charge of the Marshal
of the District. That office, when I was first committed to prison, was
filled by a Mr. Hunter; but he was sick at the time, and died soon
after, when Robert Wallace was appointed. This Wallace was a Virginian,
from the neighbor hood of Alexandria, son of a Doctor Wallace from whom
he had inherited a large property, including many slaves. He had removed
to Tennessee, and had set up cotton-planting there; but, failing in that
business, had returned back with the small remnants of his property, and
Polk provided for him by making him marshal. It was not long before I
found that he had a great spite against me. It was in vain that I
solicited from him the use of the passage. The light which came into my
cell was very faint, and I could only read by sitting on the floor with
my back against the grating of the cell door. But, so far from aiding me
to read,--and it was the only method I had of passing my time,--Wallace
made repeated and vexatious attempts to keep me from receiving
newspapers. I should very soon have died on the prison allowance. The
marshal is allowed by the United States thirty-three cents per day for
feeding the prisoners. For this money they receive two meals; breakfast,
consisting of one herring, corn-bread and a dish of molasses and water,
very slightly flavored with coffee; and for dinner, corn-bread again,
with half a pound of the meanest sort of salted beef, and a soup made of
corn-meal stirred into the pot-liquor. This is the bill of fare day
after day, all the year round; and, as at the utmost such food cannot
cost more than eight or nine cents a day for each prisoner, and as the
average number is fifty, the marshal must make a handsome profit. The
diet has been fixed, I suppose, after the model of the slave allowances.
But Congress, after providing the means of feeding the prisoners in a
decent manner, ought not to allow them to be starved for the benefit of
the marshal. Such was the diet to which I was confined in the first days
of my imprisonment. But I soon contrived to make a friend of Jake, the
old black cook of the prison, who, I could see as he came in to pour out
my coffee, evinced a certain sympathy and respect for me. Through his
agency I was able to purchase some more eatable food; and indeed the
surgeon of the jail allowed me flour, under the name of medicine, it
being impossible, as he said, for me to live on the prison diet.
Wallace, soon after he came into office, finding a small sum in my
possession, of about forty dollars, took it from me. He expressed a fear
that I might corrupt old Jake, or somebody else,--especially as he found
that I gave Jake my old newspapers,--and so escape from the prison. But
he left the money in the hands of the jailer, and allowed me to draw it
out, a dollar at a time. He presently turned out old Jake, and put in a
slave-woman of his own as cook; but she was better disposed towards me
than her master, and I found no difficulty in purchasing with my own
money, and getting her to prepare such food as I wanted. I was able,
too, after some six or eight weeks' sleeping on the stone floor of my
cell, to obtain some improvement in that particular; and not for myself
only, but for all the other prisoners also. The jailer was requested by
several persons who came to see us to procure mattresses for us at their
expense; and, finally, Wallace, as if out of pure shame, procured a
quantity of husk mattresses for the use of the prisoners generally.
Still, we had no cots, and were obliged to spread our mattresses on the

The allowance of clothing made to the prisoners who were confined
without any means of supporting themselves corresponded pretty well with
the jail allowance of provisions. They received shirts, one at a time,
made of the very meanest kind of cotton cloth, and of the very smallest
dimensions; trousers of about equal quality, and shoes. It was said that
the United States paid also for jackets and caps. How that was I do not
know; but the prisoners never received any.

The custody of the jail was intrusted to a head jailer, assisted by four
guards, or turnkeys, one of whom acted also as book-keeper. Of the
personal treatment toward me of those in office, at the time I was first
committed, I have no complaint to make. The rigor of my confinement was
indeed great; but I am happy to say that it was not aggravated by any
disposition on the part of these men to triumph over me, or to trample
upon me. As they grew more acquainted with me, they showed their sense
that I was not an ordinary criminal, and treated me with many marks of
consideration, and even of regard, and in one of them I found a true

Shortly after Wallace came into office, he made several changes. He was
full of caprices, and easily took offence from very small causes; and of
this the keepers, as well as the prisoners, had abundant experience. The
head jailer did his best to please, behaving in the most humble and
submissive manner; but all to no purpose. He was discharged, as were
also the others, one after another,--Wallace undertaking to act as head
jailer himself. Of Wallace's vexatious conduct towards me; of his
refusal to allow me to receive newspapers,--prohibiting the under jailer
to lend me even the Baltimore _Sun_; of his accusation against me of
bribing old Jake, whom he forbade the turnkeys to allow to come near me;
of his keeping me shut up in my cell; and generally of a bitter spirit
of angry malice against me,--I had abundant reason to complain during
the weary fifteen months or more that I remained under his power. But
his subordinates, though obliged to obey his orders and to comply with
his humors, were far from being influenced by his feelings. Even his
favorite among the turnkeys, a person who pretty faithfully copied his
conduct towards the other prisoners, always behaved very kindly towards
me, and even used to make a confidant of me, by coming to my cell to
talk over his troubles.

But the person whose kind offices and friendly sympathy did far more
than those of any other to relieve the tediousness of my confinement,
and to keep my heart from sinking, was Mr. Wood. There is no chaplain at
the Washington jail, nor has Congress, so far as I am aware, made any
provision of any kind for the spiritual wants or the moral and religious
instruction of the inmates of it. This great deficiency Mr. Wood, a man
of a great heart, though of very limited pecuniary means, being then a
clerk in the Telegraph office, had taken it upon himself to supply, so
far as he could; and for that purpose he was in the habit of visiting
the prison on Sundays, conversing with the prisoners, and furnishing
tracts and books to such as were able and disposed to read. He came to
my cell, or to the grating of the passage in which I was confined, on
the very first Sunday of my imprisonment, and he readily promised, at my
request, to furnish me with a Bible; though in that act of kindness he
was anticipated by the colored woman of whom I have already made
mention, who appeared at my cell, with a Bible for me, just after Mr.
Wood had left it.

The kindness of Mr. Wood's heart, and the sincerity of his sympathy, was
so apparent as to secure him the affectionate respect of all the
prisoners. To me he proved a very considerate and useful friend. Not
only was I greatly indebted to his assistance in making known my
necessities and those of my family to those disposed to relieve them,
but his cheerful and Christian conversation served to brighten many a
dark hour, and to dispel many gloomy feelings. Were all professing
Christians like my friend Mr. Wood, we should not hear so many
denunciations as we now do of the church, and complaints of her

There was another person, also, whose kind attentions to me I ought not
to overlook. This was Mrs. Susannah Ford, a very respectable colored
woman, who sold refreshments in the lobby of the court-house, and who,
in the progress of the trial, had evinced a good deal of interest in
the case. As she often had boarders in the jail, who, like me, could not
live on the jail fare, and whom she supplied, she was frequently there,
and she seldom came without bringing with her some substantial token of
her regard.

Sayres and myself had looked forward to the change of administration,
which resulted from the election of General Taylor, with considerable
hopes of advantage from it--but, for a considerable time, this advantage
was limited to a change in the marshal in whose custody we were. The
turning out of Wallace gave great satisfaction to everybody in the jail,
or connected with it, except the turnkeys, who held office by his
appointment, and who expected that his dismissal would be followed by
their own. The very day before the appointment of his successor came
out, I had been remonstrating with him against the cruelty of refusing
me the use of the passage; and I had even ventured to hint that I hoped
he would do nothing which he would be ashamed to see spoken of in the
public prints; to which he replied, "G--d d--n the public prints!--in
that cell you will stay!" But in this he proved not much of a prophet.
The next day, as soon as the news of his dismissal reached the jail, the
turnkeys at once unlocked my cell-door and admitted me into the passage,
observing that the new marshal, when he came to take possession, should
at least find me there.

This new marshal was Mr. Robert Wallach, a native of the District, very
similar in name to his predecessor, but very different in nature; and
from the time that he entered into office the extreme rigor hitherto
exercised to me was a good deal abated. One thing, however, I had to
regret in the change, which was the turning out of all the old guards,
with whom I was already well acquainted, and the appointment of a new
set. One of these thus turned out--the person to whom I have already
referred to as the chief favorite of the late marshal--made a desperate
effort to retain his office. But, although he solicited and obtained
certificates to the effect that he was, and always had been, a good
Whig, he had to walk out with the others.

The new jailer appointed by Wallach, and three of the new guards, or
turnkeys, were very gentlemanly persons, and neither I nor the other
prisoners had any reason to complain of the change. Of the fourth
turnkey I cannot say as much. He was violent, overbearing and
tyrannical, and he was frequently guilty of conduct towards the
prisoners which made him very unfit to serve under such a marshal, and
ought to have caused his speedy removal. But, unfortunately, the marshal
was under some political obligations to him, which made the turning him
out not so easy a matter. This person seemed to have inherited all the
feelings of hatred and dislike which the late marshal had entertained
towards me, and he did his best to annoy me in a variety of ways,
though, of course, his power was limited by his subordinate position.

But, although I gained considerably by the new-order of things, I soon
found that it had also some annoying consequences. Under the old
marshal, either to make the imprisonment more disagreeable to me, or
from fear lest I should corrupt the other prisoners, I had been kept in
a sort of solitary confinement, no other prisoners being placed in the
same passage. This system was now altered; and, although my privacy was
always so far respected that I was allowed a cell by myself, I often
found myself with fellow-prisoners in the same passage from whose
society it was impossible for me to derive either edification or
pleasure. I suffered a good deal from this cause; but at length
succeeded in obtaining a remedy, or, at least, a partial one. I was
allowed, during the day-time, the range of the debtors' apartments, a
suite of spacious, airy and comfortable rooms, in which there were
seldom more than one or two tenants. I pleaded hard to be removed to
these apartments altogether,--to be allowed to sleep there, as well as
to pass the days there. As it was merely for the non-payment of a sum of
money that I was held, I thought I had a right to be treated as a
debtor. But those apartments were so insecure, that the keepers did not
care to trust me there during the night.

By this change of quarters my condition was a good deal improved. I not
only had ample conveniences for reading, but I improved the opportunity
to learn to write, having only been able to sign my name when T was
committed to the prison.

But a jail, after all, is a jail; and I longed and sighed to obtain my
liberty, and to enjoy again the society of my wife and children. Had it
been wished to impress my mind in the strongest manner with the horrors
of slavery, no better method could have been devised than this
imprisonment in the Washington jail. I felt personally what it was to be
restrained of my liberty; and, as many of the prisoners were runaway
slaves, or slaves committed at the request of their masters, I saw a
good deal of what slaves are exposed to. Of this I shall here give but a
single instance. Wallace, the marshal, as I have already mentioned, had
two female slaves, the last remnants of the large slave-property which
he had inherited from his father. One of these was a young and very
comely mulatto girl, whom Wallace had made his housekeeper, and whom he
sought to make also his concubine. But, as the girl already had a child
by a young white man, to whom she was attached, she steadily repelled
all his advances. Not succeeding by persuasion, this scion of the
aristocracy of the Old Dominion--this Virginian gentleman, and marshal
of the United States for the District of Columbia--shut the girl up in
the jail of the District, in hopes of thus breaking her to his will;
and, as she proved obstinate, he finally sold her. He then turned his
eyes on the other woman,--his property,--Jemima, our cook, already the
mother of three children. But she set him at open defiance. As she
wished to be sold, he had lost the greatest means of controlling her;
and as she openly threatened, before all the keepers, to tear every rag
of clothing off his body if he dared lay his hand upon her, he did not
venture, to brave her fury.

In most of the states, if not in all of them, certainly in all the free
states, there is no such thing as keeping a man in prison for life
merely for the non-payment of a fine which he has no means to pay. The
same spirit of humanity which has abolished the imprisonment of poor
debtors at the caprice of their creditors has provided means for
discharging, after a short imprisonment, persons held in prison for
fines which they have no means of paying. Indeed, what can be more
unequal or unjust than to hold a poor man a prisoner for life for an
offence which a rich man is allowed to expiate by a small part of his
superfluous wealth? But this is one, among many other barbarisms, which
the existence of slavery in the District of Columbia, by preventing any
systematic revision of the laws, has entailed upon the capital of our
model democracy. There was, as I have stated, no means by which Sayres
and myself could be discharged from prison except by paying our fines
(which was totally out of the question), or by obtaining a presidential
pardon, which, for a long time, seemed equally hopeless. There was,
indeed, a peculiarity about our case, such as might afford a plausible
excuse for not extending to us any relief. Under the law of 1796, the
sums imposed upon us as fines were to go one half to the owners of the
slaves, and the other half to the District; and it was alleged, that
although the President might remit the latter half, he could not the

That same Mr. Radcliff whom I have already had occasion to mention
volunteered his services--for a consideration--to get over this
difficulty. In consequence of a handsome fee which he received, he
undertook to obtain the consent of the owners of the slaves to our
discharge. But, having pocketed the money, he made, so far as I could
find, very little progress in the business, not having secured above
five or six signers. In answer to my repeated applications, he at length
proposed that my wife and youngest daughter should come on to
"Washington to do the business which he had undertaken, and for which he
had secured a handsome payment in advance. They came on accordingly,
and, by personal application, succeeded in obtaining, in all, the
signatures of twenty-one out of forty-one, the whole number. The
reception which they met with from different parties was very different,
showing that there is among slave-holders as much variety of character
as among other people. Some signed with alacrity, saying that, as no
slaves had been lost, I had been kept in jail too long already. Others
required much urging. Others positively refused. Some even added
insults. Young Francis Dodge, of Georgetown, would not sign, though my
life had depended upon it. One wanted me hung, and another tarred and
feathered. One pious church-member, lying on his death-bed, as he
supposed, was persuaded to sign; but he afterwards drew back, and
nothing could prevail on him to put his name to the paper. Die or live,
he wholly refused. But the most curious case occurred at Alexandria, to
which place my wife went to obtain the signature of a pious old lady,
who had been the claimant of a youngster found among the passengers of
the Pearl, and who had been sold, in consequence, for the southern
market. The old lady, it appeared, was still the owner of the boy's
mother, who acted as one of her domestics, and, if she was willing, the
old lady professed her readiness to sign. The black woman was
accordingly called in, and the nature of my wife's application stated to
her. But, with much positiveness and indignation, she refused to give
her consent, declaring that my wife could as well do without her husband
as she could do without her boy. So imbruted and stupefied by slavery
was this old woman, that she seemed to think the selling her boy away
from her a perfectly humane, Christian and proper act, while all her
indignation was turned against me, who had merely afforded the boy an
opportunity of securing his freedom! I dare say they had persuaded the
old woman that I had enticed the boy to run away; whereas, as I have
already stated, I had never seen him, nor any other of the passengers,
till I found them on board.

As only twenty-one signers could be obtained, the matter stood very much
as it did before the attempt was made. So long as President Fillmore
remained a candidate for reëlection there was little ground to expect
from him a favorable consideration of my case. I therefore felt
sincerely thankful to the Whig convention when they passed by Mr.
Fillmore, and gave the nomination to General Scott. Mr. Fillmore being
thus placed in a position which enabled him to listen to the dictates of
reason, justice and humanity, my hopes, and those of my friends, were
greatly raised. Mr. Sumner, the Free Democratic senator from
Massachusetts, had visited me in prison shortly after his arrival at
Washington, and had evinced from the beginning a sincere and active
sympathy for me. Some complaints were made against him in some
anti-slavery papers, because he did not present to the senate some
petitions in my behalf, which had been forwarded to his care. But Mr.
Sumner was of opinion, and I entirely agreed with him, that if the
object was to obtain my discharge from prison, that object was to be
accomplished, not by agitating the matter in the senate, but by private
appeals to the equity and the conscience of the President; nor did he
think, nor I either, that my interests ought to be sacrificed for the
opportunity to make an anti-slavery speech. There is reason in
everything; and I thought, and he thought too, that I had been made
enough of a martyr of already.

The case having been brought to the notice of the President, he, being
no longer a candidate for reëlection, could not fail to recognize the
claim of Sayres and myself to a discharge. We had already been kept in
jail upwards of four years, for an offence which the laws had intended
to punish by a trifling pecuniary fine Nor was this all. The earlier
part of our confinement had been exceedingly rigorous, and it had only
been by the untiring efforts of our friends, and at a great expense to
them, that we had been saved from falling victims to the conspiracy,
between the District Attorney and Judge Crawford, to send us to the
penitentiary. Although my able and indefatigable counsel, Mr. Mann,
whose arduous labors and efforts in my behalf I shall never forget, and
still less his friendly counsels and kind personal attentions, had
received nothing, except, I believe, the partial reimbursement of his
travelling expenses, and although there was much other service
gratuitously rendered in our cases, yet it had been necessary to pay
pretty roundly for the services of Mr. Carlisle; and, altogether, the
expenditures which had been incurred to shield us from the effects of
the conspiracy above mentioned far exceeded any amount of fine which
might have been reasonably imposed under the indictments upon which we
had been found guilty. Was not the enormous sum which Judge Crawford
sentenced us to pay a gross violation of the provision in the
constitution of the United States against excessive fines? Any fine
utterly beyond a man's ability to pay, and which operates to keep him a
prisoner for life, must be excessive, or else that word has no meaning.

But, though our case was a strong one, there still remained a serious
obstacle in the way, in the idea that, because half the fines was to go
to the owners of the slaves, the President could not remit that half.
Here was a point upon which Mr. Sumner was able to assist us much more
effectually than by making speeches in the senate. It was a point, too,
involved in a good deal of difficulty; for there were some English cases
which denied the power of pardon under such circumstances. Mr. Sumner
found, however, by a laborious examination of the American cases, that a
different view had been taken in this country; and he drew up and
submitted to the President an elaborate legal opinion, in which the
right of the executive to pardon us was very clearly made out.

This opinion the President referred to the Attorney General. A
considerable time elapsed before he found leisure to examine it; but at
last it obtained his sanction, also. Information at length reached
us--the matter having been pending for two months or more--that the
President had signed our pardon. It had yet, however, to pass through
the office of the Secretary for the Interior, and meanwhile we were not
by any means free from anxiety. The reader will perhaps recollect that
among the other things which the District Attorney had held over our
heads had been the threat to surrender us up to the authorities of
Virginia, on a requisition which it was alleged they had made for us.
The story of this requisition had been repeated from time to time, and a
circumstance now occurred which, in seeming to threaten us with
something of the sort, served to revive all our apprehensions. Mr.
Stuart, the Secretary of the Interior, through whose office the pardon
was to pass, sent word to the marshal that such a pardon had been
signed, and, at the same time, requested him, if it came that day into
his hands, not to act upon it till the next. As this Stuart was a
Virginian, out apprehensions were naturally excited of some movement
from that quarter. The pardon arrived about five o'clock that afternoon;
and immediately upon receiving it the marshal told us that he had no
longer any hold upon us,--that we were free men, and at liberty to go
where we chose. As we were preparing to leave the jail, I observed that
a gentleman, a friend of the marshal, whom I had often seen there, and
who had always treated me with great courtesy, hardly returned my
good-day, and looked at me as black as a thunder-cloud. Afterwards, upon
inquiring of the jailer what the reason could be, I learned that this
gentleman, who was a good deal of a politician, was greatly alarmed and
disturbed lest the act of the President in having pardoned us should
result in the defeat of the Whig party--and, though willing enough that
we should be released, he did not like to have it done at the expense of
his party, and his own hopes of obtaining some good office. The Whigs
were defeated, sure enough; but whether because we were pardoned--though
the idea is sufficiently nattering to my vanity--is more than I shall
venture to decide. The black prisoners in the jail, having nothing to
hope or fear from the rise or fall of parties, yielded freely to their
friendly feelings, and greeted our departure with three cheers. We left
the jail as privately as possible, and proceeded in a carriage to the
house of a gentleman of the District, where we were entertained at
supper. Our imprisonment had lasted four years and four months, lacking
seven days. We did not feel safe, however, with that Virginia
requisition hanging over our heads, so long as we remained in the
District, or anywhere on slave-holding ground; and, by the liberality of
our friends, a hack was procured for us, to carry us, that same night,
to Baltimore, there, the next morning, to take the cars for
Philadelphia. The night proved one of the darkest and stormiest which it
had ever been my fate to encounter,--and I have seen some bad weather in
my time. The rain fell in torrents, and the road was only now and then
visible by the flashes of the lightning. But our trusty driver
persevered, and, in spite of all obstacles, brought us to Baltimore by
the early dawn. Sayres proceeded by the direct route to Philadelphia.
Having still some apprehensions of pursuit and a requisition, I took the
route by Harrisburg. Great was the satisfaction which I felt as the cars
crossed the line from Maryland into Pennsylvania. It was like escaping
out of Algiers into a free and Christian country.

I shall leave it to the reader to imagine the meeting between myself and
my family. They had received notice of my coming, and were all waiting
to receive me. If a man wishes to realize the agony which our American
slave-trade inflicts in the separation of families, let him personally
feel that separation, as I did; let him pass four years in the
Washington jail.

When committed to the prison, I was by no means well. I had been a good
deal out of health, as appeared from the evidence on the trial, for two
or three years before. Close confinement, or, indeed, confinement of any
sort, does not agree with persons of my temperament; and I came out of
the prison a good deal older, and much more of an invalid, than when I
entered it.

The reader, perhaps, will inquire what good was gained by all these
sufferings of myself and my family--what satisfaction I can have, as it
did not succeed, in looking back to an enterprise attended with so much
risk, and which involved me in so long and tedious an imprisonment?

The satisfaction that I have is this: What I did, and what I attempted
to do, was my protest,--a protest which resounded from one end of the
Union to the other, and which, I hope, by the dissemination of this, my
narrative, to renew and repeat it,--it was my protest against the
infamous and atrocious doctrine that there can be any such thing as
property in man! We can only do according to our power, and the
capacity, gifts and talents, that we have. Others, more fortunate than
I, may record their protest against this wicked doctrine more safely and
comfortably for themselves than I did. They may embody it in burning
words and eloquent speeches; they may write it out in books; they may
preach it in sermons. I could not do that. I have as many thoughts as
another, but, for want of education, I lack the power to express them in
speech or writing. I have not been able to put even this short
narrative on paper without obtaining the assistance of a friend. I could
not talk, I could not write; but I could act. The humblest, the most
uneducated man can do that. I did act; and, by my actions, I protested
that I did not believe that there was, or could be, any such thing as a
right of property in human beings.

Nobody in this country will admit, for a moment, that there can be any
such thing as property in a white man. The institution of slavery could
not last for a day, if the slaves were all white. But I do not see that
because their complexions are different they are any the less men on
that account. The doctrine I hold to, and which I desired to preach in a
practical way, is the doctrine of Jefferson and Madison, that there
cannot be property in man,--no, not even in black men. And the rage
exerted against me on the part of the slave-holders grew entirely out of
my preaching that doctrine. Actions, as everybody knows, speak louder
than words. By virtue of my actions proclaiming my opinion on that
subject, I became at once, powerless as I otherwise was, elevated, in
the minds of the slave-holders, to the same high level with Mr. Giddings
and Mr. Hale, who they could not help believing must have been my secret

If I had believed, as the slave-holders do, that men can be owned; if I
had really attempted, as they falsely and meanly charged me with doing,
to steal; had I actually sought to appropriate men as property to my own
use; had that been all, does anybody imagine that I should ever have
been pursued with such persevering enmity and personal virulence? Do
they get up a debate in Congress, and a riot in the city of Washington,
every time a theft is committed or attempted in the District? It was
purely because I was not a thief; because, in helping men, women and
children, claimed as chattels, to escape, I bore my testimony against
robbing human beings of their liberty; this was the very thing that
excited the slave-holders against me, just as a strong anti-slavery
speech excites them against Mr. Hale, or Mr. Giddings, or Mr. Mann, or
Mr. Stunner. Those gentlemen have words at command; they can speak, and
can do good service by doing so. As for me, it was impossible that I
should ever be able to make myself heard in Congress, or by the nation
at large, except in the way of action. The opportunity occurring, I did
not hesitate to improve it; nor have I ever yet seen occasion to regret
having done so.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton - For Four Years and Four Months a Prisoner (For Charity's Sake) in Washington Jail" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.