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Title: The New Man - Twenty-nine years a slave, twenty-nine years a free man
Author: Bruce, Henry Clay
Language: English
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                     [Illustration: H. C. BRUCE.]

                             THE NEW MAN.

                      TWENTY-NINE YEARS A SLAVE.

                     TWENTY-NINE YEARS A FREE MAN.

                           RECOLLECTIONS OF

                             H. C. BRUCE.

                               YORK, PA.
                          P. ANSTADT & SONS,

      Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1895, by
                              H C BRUCE,
      In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


The author offers to the public this little book, containing his
personal recollections of slavery, with the modest hope that it will be
found to present an impartial and unprejudiced view of that system. His
experience taught him that all masters were not cruel, and that all
slaves were not maltreated. There were brutal masters and there were
mean, trifling lazy slaves. While some masters cruelly whipped, half fed
and overworked their slaves, there were many others who provided for
their slaves with fatherly care, saw that they were well fed and
clothed, and would neither whip them themselves, nor permit others to do

Having reached the age of twenty-nine before he could call himself a
free man, and having been peculiarly fortunate in all his surroundings
during the period of his slavery, the author considers himself competent
to deal with all concerned, fairly and without prejudice, and he will
feel more than repaid for his labor, if he can throw even some little
new light upon this much mooted question. He believes that we are too
far removed now from the heart burnings and cruelties of that system of
slavery, horrible as it was, and too far removed from that bloody strife
that destroyed the system, root and branch, to let our accounts of it
now be colored by its memories. Freedom has been sweet indeed to the
ex-bondman. It has been one glorious harvest of good things, and he
fervently prays for grace to forget the past and for strength to go
forward to resolutely meet the future.

The author early became impressed with the belief, which has since
settled into deep conviction, that just as the whites were divided into
two great classes, so the slaves were divided. There are certain
characteristics of good blood, that manifest themselves in the honor and
ability and other virtues of their possessors, and these virtues could
be seen as often exemplified beneath black skins as beneath white ones.
There were those slaves who would have suffered death rather than submit
to dishonor; who, though they knew they suffered a great wrong in their
enslavement, gave their best services to their masters, realizing,
philosophically, that the wisest course was to make the best of their
unfortunate situation. They would not submit to punishment, but would
fight or run away rather than be whipped.

On the other hand there was a class of Negroes among the slaves who were
lazy and mean. They were as untrue to their fellows as to themselves.
Like the poor whites to whom they were analogous in point of blood, they
had little or no honor, no high sense of duty, little or no appreciation
of the domestic virtues, and since their emancipation, both of these
inferior blooded classes have been content to grovel in the mire of

The “poor white” class was held in slavery, just as real as the blacks,
and their degradation was all the more condemnable, because being white,
all the world was open to them, yet they _from choice_, remained in the
South, in this position of _quasi_ slavery.

During the slave days these poor whites seemed to live for no higher
purpose than to spy on the slaves, and to lie on them. Their ambitions
were gratified if they could be overseers, or slave drivers, or
“padrollers” as the slaves called them. This class was conceived and
born of a poor blood, whose inferiority linked its members for all time
to things mean and low. They were the natural enemies of the slaves, and
to this day they have sought to belittle and humiliate the ambitious
freeman, by the long catalogue of laws framed with the avowed intention
of robbing him of his manhood rights. It is they who cry out about
“social equality,” knowing full well, that the high-toned Negro would
not associate with him if he could.

If there had been no superior blooded class of blacks in the South,
during the dark and uncertain days of the war, there would not have been
the history of that band of noble selfsacrificing heroes, who guarded
with untiring and unquestioned faith, the homes and honor of the
families of the very men who were fighting to tighten their chains. No
brighter pages of history will ever be written, than those which record
the services of the slaves, who were left in charge of their masters’
homes. These men will be found in every case to have been those, who as
slaves would not be whipped, nor suffer punishment; who would protect
the honor of their own women at any cost; but who would work with
honesty and fidelity at any task imposed upon them.

The author’s recollections begin with the year 1842, and he will
endeavor to show how slaves were reared and treated as he saw it. His
recollections will include something of the industrial conditions amidst
which he was reared. He will discuss from the standpoint of the slave,
the conditions which led to the war, his status during the war, and will
record his experiences and observations regarding the progress of the
Negro since emancipation.

It is his belief, that one of the most stupendous of the wrongs which
the Negro has suffered, was in turning the whole army of slaves loose in
a hostile country, without money, without friends, without experience in
home getting or even self-support. Their two hundred and fifty years of
unrequited labor counted for naught. They were free but penniless in the
land which they had made rich.

But though they were robbed of the reward of their labor, though they
have been denied their common rights, though they have been
discriminated against in every walk of life and in favor of every breed
of foreign anarchist and socialist, though they have been made to feel
the measured hate of the poor white man’s venom, yet through it all they
have been true; true to the country they _owe_ (?) so little, true to
the flag that denies them protection, true to the government that
practically disowns them, true to their honor, fidelity and loyalty, the
birthrights of superior blood.

                                                           H. C. BRUCE,
                                             WASHINGTON, D. C.



Correct Date of Birth.--Reasons Ex-Slaves Cannot give their
Ages.--Childhood Days in Slavery.--Emigration to Missouri in
1844.--Return to Virginia in 1847.--Life in the New Country.--Hunting,
Fishing and Playing.--Treed by Wild Hogs.--Narrow Escape from
Abolitionists at Cincinnati, Ohio, and Service as a Slave for Seventeen
Years Thereafter as a Result                                          11


Happy Days Spent Till Thirteen Years Old.--The Old Millpond and
the Trusted Old Slave Miller.--Slave Children Treated Tenderly and
Kindly.--Overseer’s Brutality Checked by Old Mistress.--Whipped on
Account of a Lie Told by a Poor White Man.--Status of Poor White
Trash.--Fewer Liberties Than Slaves.--No Association or Intermarriage
with the Ruling Class.--Hauled to the Polls and Forced to Vote as the
Master Class Directed.--Poor Whites as Well as the Slaves Freed by
the War.--Both Classes Equally Illiterate.--The Old Master Class and
the Colored People Can Live in Peace, were it not for the Poor White
Trash                                                                 24


Runaway Negroes.--Cause and Effect.--Some Dangerous to Capture.--Mean
Masters and Good Ones.--The Good and the Mean Slave.--The Unruly and
Fighting Class, Who Would not Submit.--Inferior and Superior Blood and
How Divided.--The Typical Poor Whites Have Inferior Blood in Their
Veins.--Superior Blood in Slave Veins.--How Superior Blooded Slaves
Took in Their Situation and Spent Life in Their Master’s Service and
are the Better Class of Colored Citizens To-day.--Blood Will Tell,
Regardless of the Color of the Individual in Whose Veins it Flows     32


Visit to the Old Home, July, 1893.--Great Changes Since
1849.--Plantations Deserted.--Masters and Slaves Gone.--Land Returned
Almost to Primeval Condition.--Few Old Inhabitants Found.--Old Major
Still Active at Ninety-five Years.--That old Public Highway, that was
the Pride of the Community.--Its Old Bed Cut in Gullies or Grown up in
Forest.--What Railroads Have Done for that Country and the South      43


Extent to Which Education Has Stamped Out Belief in Superstition,
Voodooism, Tricking and Conjuring Among Colored People.--More Dense the
Ignorance the More Prosperous the Business of the Conjurer.--All Pains
and Aches Due to Tricking.--Conjurers Boast of Their Ability to do the
Impossible, and How They Were Feared.--A Live Scorpion Taken Out of a
Man’s Leg.--A Noted Old Conjurer Places His “Jack” Under the Master’s
Door Step, Which Prevents Him from Carrying His Slaves out of the
Country.--Slaves in Missouri not Believers in Voodooism Much.--Indians
Believe in Spirit Dance, Colored in Voodooism and the White People in
Witchcraft                                                            52


Carried to the Cotton Fields of Mississippi in 1849.--Cotton Picking
Under a Mean Overseer and Method of Treatment.--Good Masters Even in
That State.--Master Decides to Carry His Slaves Back to Missouri, Which
Causes Great Rejoicing.--Handshaking When they Reached Brunswick,
Mo.--Work in a Tobacco Factory.--Positive Refusal to go with Master
to Texas in 1855.--His Anger, but Final Acquiescence.--Pleasant Life
in Tobacco Factories Because Master did not whip his Slaves nor Allow
it to be Done by Others.--White and Colored preachers.--Rev. Uncle
Tom Ewing and his Objectionable Prayer.--Virtue and Marital Relations
Encouraged by Masters Among Slaves.--High Toned Slaves.--Death by
Suicide rather than Disgrace                                          60


Status of Free Negroes in Missouri Prior to the War.--Had but
Little More Liberties than Slaves.--Guardians to Attend to their
Business.--Could not Leave Home without a Pass.--Free Davy an
Exception.--Respected and Treated like a Man by all who Knew
Him.--Blood will Tell and he had Superior Blood.--Free Born People
Considered Themselves Better than Those Freed by the War.--Bitter
Feeling Between the two Classes ended Several Years after the War.--The
War Freed Both Classes.--Rev. Jesse Mills and Rev. Moses White,
Ex-Slaves and Failure to get Assignments.--Rev. W. A. Moore and J. W.
Wilson, Ex-Slaves Occupying good Charges                              76


Life on a Farm and Master hard to Please.--Slaves Raised their Own
Crop which Master sold for Them.--Good Old Father Ashby Treated his
Slaves Kindly while Rev. S. J. M. Beebe was the Meanest Master in the
Neighborhood.--Chas. Cabell, Called Hard Master.--Personal Experience
Shows he had a Lazy lot of Slaves.--Ill-treated beast of Burden and
Ill-treated Slaves are much Alike.--Dan Kellogg as a Free Sailer Before
the War and as a Rebel Bushwhacker During it                          82


Campaign of 1860, more Exciting than the Hard Cider One of 1840.--Bob
Toombs’ Declaration.--Split in the National Democratic Party at
Charleston, S. C., April 23, 1860.--Cause and Results.--Lincoln
Elected.--Missouri’s Vote for S. A. Douglass.--Higher Power than Man
in Control.--All Classes Suffered by the War, but Neutrals Most.--Poor
Illiterate Whites out as Patrols to Keep Slaves Quiet.--Fun with those
Patrols who Could not Read Passes.--Lindsey Watts, and How He Fooled
Them.--Who Set the Town on Fire?--No Judas Among Slaves.--They Believed
the War was for their Freedom.--Best Blood Went South to Shoot and
be Shot at While Cowards Remained as Bushwhackers.--James Long, the
Original Lincoln Man.--His Misfortune a Blessing.--Slave Property a
Dead Weight to Owners After 1862.--Business of Negro Traders at an End
for Ever.--Master’s Slave his best Friend After All.--Master’s Property
Stolen by White Thieves in Uncle Sam’s Uniform.--Young Master Returns
after the War, Broken in Health, Cash and Disfranchised               93


Enlistment of Colored Troops at Brunswick, Mo., from 1863 to the Close
of the War and how Assigned.--Master gave his Slaves free Passes to
Induce them to Remain with Him and out of the Army.--Contract to Remain
with Him One Year Broken, and the Cause.--Elopement with the Girl I
Loved.--Exciting Chase Thirty Miles on Horseback, Armed with a Pair of
Colt’s Navies.--Pursued by the Girl’s Master and His Friends.--Laclede
Reached in Safety and Pursuers Fooled.--Full History of Flight, Escape,
Marriage by Rev. John Turner of Leavenworth, Kansas.--Visit to Old
Master in January, 1865.--Found him Dejected.--Farm Rifled by Thieves
Dressed as Soldiers, but They Left Him the Land                      107


New Problem to Solve.--Self Sustenance and Economy.--All Bills to Pay
and Furnish Necessaries.--Difference Between White Men in a Free State
and Old Master Class in Dealing with Ex-Slaves.--Great Confidence in
the Word of Old Master Class, Who Would Not Lie to Slaves.--Cheated by
White Men in Kansas.--Has Old Master Class Degenerated?--Colored People
set Free Without a Dollar or Next Meal and Told to “Root Hog or Die”
by a Great Christian Nation.--Who Made this Country Tenable for the
White Man and Whose Service Brought Millions of Dollars to it, which
Benefited the North as well as the South?--Jealousy of Unskilled White
Laborers caused Prejudice Against Colored People.--Poor White Trash and
Foreign Laborers are the Colored People’s Enemies.--Irish Enmity and
the Cause.--Similar past History Should have Made them Friends, Rather
than Enemies.--Lynching not Done by Old Master Class.--Opening of the
Eyes of the Old Master Class.--Is it Too Late?                       112


The Progress Made by the Colored People, Morally, from 1865 to
1894.--They are the Equals in Scholarship of any Other Class
of Students.--There is no Such Thing as a Negro Race in This
Country.--They are Colored Americans, Nothing More.--This is Their
Home and They Are Here to Stay by the Will of God.--Old Flag is
His.--He has Defended it in the Past and Will Defend it Again.--He
Will Stand or Fall With the Loyalist.--How Colored Families Were
Established.--Their Names.--They are the Equals of any Other Class
With no More Cash.--Contented and Faithful Laborers.--They are Not
Anarchists, But can be Relied Upon in Case of War.--Can Same be Said of
Other Adopted Citizens?--The Negro Will Stand by the True Americans in
all Cases.--Why Should Colored Loyalists Suffer Injustice at the Hands
of the American People?--Not Treated Fairly by the Press.--Injustice
of Mine Owners and Manufacturers.--All the Colored People Ask of the
Americans is Fair Play in the Race of Life, With its Other Adopted
Citizens                                                             128


The Colored People are Charged with Being Imitators and it is
Admitted.--Mistakes made by Following White People.--Advice Given in
Good Faith.--The Hand Should be Trained With the Head.--Have we as
Many Colored Artisans Now as we had at the Close of the War?--History
of Tuskeegee Industrial Institute and its Founder.--How Managed.--Not
a White Man in It.--$15,000, Donated to it by a Southern White Woman,
Descendent of the Old Master Class.--Similar Institutions Springing up
in the Southland                                                     137


Need of Money and How to Get It.--Business Houses and How to Sustain
Them.--Take the Jew for a Pattern.--We are Producers.--He Is Not, yet
Accumulates Capital.--Our Preachers, Teachers and Leaders Should Lead
us to be a United People.--Prejudice due to Condition, not Color.--We
are Responsible for our Children’s Idle Condition.--Failure to Educate
the Hand as Well as the Head.--White Men Have Used the Advantage we
Gave them.--Duty of Our Ministers not Fulfilled.--We Cannot Always Rely
Upon White Philanthropists, But Must Help Ourselves                  143


Went Into Business in 1866, Which was Destroyed by Fire With
Great Loss.--Reopened and Burnt Out Again, Losing Six Hundred
Dollars.--Reopened and After Three Years Failed.--Went Into Politics
and Beaten by Twenty-Five Votes by Ex Governor Glick, For the Kansas
Legislature.--Pressed for Cash to Buy Bread.--Elected Doorkeeper State
Senate in 1881.--Foreman on Construction Train, A. N. R. R.--Appointed
to Position at Washington.--Promoted Three Times.--Personal Experience
in Pension Office.--Different Commissioners Compared.--Gen. J. C.
Black, the Ideal One.--Advice to New Appointees and What They May
Expect.--Life in Washington as a Clerk.--Old Clerks are the Reliables
and Cannot be Displaced                                              155


My mother often told me that I was born, March 3rd, of the year that
Martin Van Buren was elected President of the United States, and I have
therefore always regarded March 3rd, 1836, as the date of my birth.
Those who are familiar with the customs that obtained at the South in
the days of slavery, will readily understand why so few of the ex-slaves
can give the correct date of their birth, for, being uneducated, they
were unable to keep records themselves, and their masters, having no
special interest in the matter, saw no necessity for such records. So
that the slave parents, in order to approximate the birth of a child,
usually associated it with the occurrence of some important event, such,
for instance, as “the year the stars fell,” (1833), the death of some
prominent man, the marriage of one of the master’s children, or some
notable historical event. Thus by recalling any one of these
occurrences, the age of their own children was determined. Not being
able to read and write, they were compelled to resort to the next best
thing within reach, memory, the only diary in which the records of their
marriages, births and deaths were registered, and which was also the
means by which their mathematical problems were solved, their accounts
kept, when they had any to keep.

Of course there were thousands of such cases as E. M. Dillard’s, the one
which I shall mention, but as his case will represent theirs, I will
speak of his only. He was an intimate acquaintance of mine, a man born a
slave, freed by the emancipation proclamation when over thirty years
old, without even a knowledge of the alphabet, but he had a practical
knowledge of men and business matters, which enabled him to acquire a
comfortable living, a nice home, to educate his children and conduct a
small business of his own. But the greatest wonder about this man was
the exactness and correct business way in which he conducted it in
buying and selling, and especially in casting up accounts, seemingly
with care, accuracy, and rapidity as any educated man could have done.
But it was the result of a good memory and a full share of brain.

The memories of slaves were simply wonderful. They were not unmindful,
nor indifferent as to occurrences of interest transpiring around them,
but as the principal medium through which we obtain information was
entirely closed to them, of course their knowledge of matters and things
must necessarily have been confined within a very narrow limit; but when
anything of importance transpired within their knowledge, they knowing
the date thereof, could, by reference to it as a basis, approximate the
date of some other event in question. Then there were a great many old
men among them that might be called sages, men who knew the number of
days in each month, in each year, could tell the exact date when Easter
and Whit Sunday would come, because most masters gave Monday following
each of these Sundays as a holiday to slaves.

These old sages determined dates by means of straight marks and notches,
made on a long stick with a knife, and were quite accurate in arriving
at correct dates. I have often seen the sticks upon which they kept
their records, but failed to understand the system upon which they based
their calculations, yet I found them eminently correct. It was too
intricate for me.

My parents belonged to Lemuel Bruce, who died about the year 1836,
leaving two children, William Bruce and Rebecca Bruce, who went to live
with their aunt, Mrs. Prudence Perkinson; he also left two families of
slaves, and they were divided between his two children; my mother’s
family fell to Miss Rebecca, and the other family, the head of which was
known as Bristo, was left to William B. Bruce. Then it was that family
ties were broken, the slaves were all hired out, my mother to one man
and my father to another. I was too young then to know anything about
it, and have to rely entirely on what I have heard my mother and others
older than myself say.

My personal recollections go back to the year 1841, when my mother was
hired to a lady, Mrs. Ludy Waddel by name. Miss Rebecca Bruce married
Mr. Pettis Perkinson, and soon after her slaves were taken to their new
home, then known as the Rowlett Place, at which point we began a new
life. It is but simple justice to Mr. Perkinson to say, that though
springing from a family known in that part of the country as hard
task-masters, he was himself a kind and considerate man. His father had
given him some ten or twelve slaves, among whom were two boys about my
own age. As we were quite young, we were tenderly treated.

To state that slave children under thirteen years of age were tenderly
treated probably requires further explanation. During the crop season in
Virginia, slave men and women worked in the fields daily, and such
females as had sucklings were allowed to come to them three times a day
between sun rise and sun set, for the purpose of nursing their babes,
who were left in the care of an old woman, who was assigned to the care
of these children because she was too old or too feeble for field work.
Such old women usually had to care for, and prepare the meals of all
children under working age. They were furnished with plenty of good,
wholesome food by the master, who took special care to see that it was
properly cooked and served to them as often as they desired it.

On very large plantations there were many such old women, who spent the
remainder of their lives caring for children of younger women. Masters
took great pride in their gangs of young slaves, especially when they
looked “fat and sassy,” and would often have them come to the great
house yard to play, particularly when they had visitors. Freed from
books and mental worry of all kinds, and having all the outdoor
exercise they wanted, the slave children had nothing to do but eat, play
and grow, and physically speaking, attain to good size and height, which
was the special wish and aim of their masters, because a tall,
well-proportioned slave man or woman, in case of a sale, would always
command the highest price paid. So then it is quite plain, that it was
not only the master’s pride, but his financial interest as well, to have
these children enjoy every comfort possible, which would aid in their
physical make up, and to see to it that they were tenderly treated.

But Mr. Perkinson’s wife lived but a short time, dying in 1842. She left
one child, William E. Perkinson, known in his later life as Judge W. E.
Perkinson, of Brunswick, Missouri. Mr. Perkinson built a new house for
himself, “The great house,” and quarters for his slaves on his own land,
near what is now known as Green Bay, Prince Edward County, Virginia. But
I don’t think that Mrs. Perkinson lived to occupy the new house. My
mother was assigned to a cabin at the new place during the spring of
1842. But after the death of his young wife, Mr. Perkinson became
greatly dissatisfied with his home and its surroundings, showing that
all that was dear to him was gone, and that he longed for a change, and
being persuaded by his brother-in-law, W. B. Bruce, who was preparing to
go to the western country, as Missouri and Kentucky were then called, he
decided to break up his Virginia home, and take his slaves to Missouri,
in company with Mr. W. B. Bruce.

The time to start was agreed upon, and those old enough to work were
given a long holiday from January to April, 1844, when we left our old
Virginia home, bound for Chariton County, Missouri. In this event there
were no separations of husbands and wives, because of the fact that my
father and Bristo were both dead, and they were the only married men in
the Bruce family.

Among the slaves that were given to Mr. Perkinson by his father was only
one married man, uncle Watt, as we called him, and he and his wife and
children were carried along with the rest of us.

I shall never forget the great preparations made for our start to the
West. There were three large wagons in the outfit, one for the whites
and two for the slaves. The whites in the party were Messrs. Perkinson,
Bruce, Samuel Wooten, and James Dorsell. The line of march was struck
early in April, 1844. I remember that I was delighted with the beautiful
sceneries, towns, rivers, people in their different styles of costumes,
and so many strange things that I saw on that trip from our old home to
Louisville. But the most wonderful experience to me was, when we took a
steamer at Louisville for St. Louis. The idea of a house floating on the
water was a new one to me, at least, and I doubt very much whether any
of the white men of the party had ever seen a steamboat before.

I am unable to recall the route, and the many sights, and incidents of
that long trip of nearly fifteen hundred miles, and shall not attempt to
describe it. But finally we reached our destination, which was the home
of Jack Perkinson, brother of Mr. Pettis Perkinson, about June or July,
1844. His place was located about seven or eight miles from Keytesville,
Missouri. At that time this country was sparsely settled; a farm house
could be only seen in every eight or ten miles. I was greatly pleased
with the country; for there was plenty of everything to live on, game,
fish, wild fruits, and berries. The only drawback to our pleasure was
Jack Perkinson, who was the meanest man I had ever seen. He had about
thirty-five slaves on his large farm and could and did raise more noise,
do more thrashing of men, women and children, than any other man in that

Our folks were soon hired out to work in the tobacco factories at
Keytesville, except the old women, and such children as were too small
to be put to work. I was left at this place with my mother and her
younger children and was happy. I was too young to be put to work, and
there being on the farm four or five boys about my age, spent my time
with them hunting and fishing. There was a creek near by in which we
caught plenty of fish. We made lines of hemp grown on the farm and hooks
of bent pins. When we got a bite, up went the pole and quite often the
fish, eight or ten feet in the air. We never waited for what is called a
good bite, for if we did the fish would get the bait and escape capture,
or get off when hooked if not thrown quickly upon the land. But fish
then were very plentiful and not as scary as now. The hardest job with
us was digging bait. We often brought home as much as five pounds of
fish in a day.

There was game in abundance, but our hunting was always for young
rabbits and squirrels, and we hunted them with hounds brought with us
from Virginia. I had never before seen so many squirrels. The trees
there were usually small and too far apart for them to jump from tree to
tree, and when we saw one “treed” by the dogs, one of us climbed up and
forced it to jump, and when it did, in nine cases out of ten the dogs
would catch it. We often got six or eight in a day’s hunting.

Another sport which we enjoyed was gathering the eggs of prairie
chickens. On account of the danger of snake bites, we were somewhat
restricted in the pursuit of this pleasure, being forbidden to go far
away from the cabins. Their eggs were not quite as large as the domestic
hen’s, but are of a very fine flavor.

North of Jack Perkinson’s farm was a great expanse of prairie four or
five miles wide and probably twenty or thirty long--indeed it might have
been fifty miles long. There were a great many snakes of various sizes
and kinds, but the most dangerous and the one most dreaded was the
rattlesnake, whose bite was almost certain death in those days, but for
which now the doctors have found so many cures that we seldom hear of a
death from that cause. When allowed to go or when we could steal away,
which we very often did, we usually took a good sized basket and found
eggs enough to fill it before returning. We saw a great many snakes,
killing some and passing others by, especially the large ones. There
were thousands of prairie chickens scattered over this plain, and eggs
were easily found. One thing was in our favor; these wild chickens never
selected very tall grass for nests. But it almost makes me shudder now,
when I think of it, and remember that we were barefooted at the time,
with reptiles on every side, some of which would crawl away or into
their holes while others would show fight. But none of us were bitten by
them. On these prairies large herds of deer could be seen in almost any
direction. I have seen as many as one hundred together. Jack Perkinson
was not a hunter, kept no gun, and of course we had none, so we could
not get any deer. There were a great many wolves around that place and I
stood in mortal fear of them, but never had any encounter with one. They
usually prowled about at night and kept the young slave men from going
to balls or parties.

The most vicious wild animal I met or encountered was the hog. There
were a great many of them around the farm, especially in the timber
south of it. In that timber were some very large hickory nuts--the
finest I ever saw. I remember one occasion when we were out gathering
nuts, having our dogs with us. They went a short distance from us, but
very soon we heard them barking and saw them running toward us followed
by a drove of wild hogs in close proximity. We hardly had time to climb
trees for safety. I was so closely pressed that an old boar caught my
foot, pulling off the shoe, but I held on to the limb of the tree and
climbed out of danger, although minus my shoe. One minute later and I
would not have been here to pen these lines, for those hogs would have
torn and eaten me in short order. From my safe position in the tree I
looked down on those vicious wild animals tearing up my shoe. We had
escaped immediate death, but were greatly frightened because the hogs
lay down under the trees and night was coming on. We had shouted for
help but could not make ourselves heard. Every time our dogs came near,
some big boar would chase them away and come back to the drove. We
reasoned together, and came to the conclusion that if we would drive the
dogs farther away the hogs would leave. Being up trees we could see our
dogs for some distance away and we drove them back. After a while the
hogs seemed to have forgotten us. A few large ones got up, commenced
rooting and grunting, and soon the drove moved on. When they had gotten
a hundred yards away we slid down, and then such a race for the fence
and home. It was a close call. But we kept that little fun mum, for if
Jack Perkinson had learned of his narrow escape from the loss of two or
three Negro boys worth five or six hundred dollars each, he would have
given us a severe whipping.

About January 1, 1845, my mother and her children, including myself and
those younger, were hired to one James Means, a brickmaker, living near
Huntsville, Randolph County, Missouri. I remember the day when he came
after us with a two-horse team. He had several children, the eldest
being a boy. Although Cyrus was a year older than I, he could not lick
me. He and I had to feed the stock and haul trees to be cut into wood
for fire, which his father had felled in the timber. Mr. Means also
owned a girl about fourteen years old called Cat, and as soon as spring
came he commenced work on the brick yard with Cat and me as offbearers.
This, being my first real work, was fun for a while, but soon became
very hard and I got whipped nearly every day, not because I did not
work, but because I could not stand it. Having to carry a double mold
all day long in the hot sun I broke down. Finally Mr. Means made for my
special benefit two single molds, and after that I received no more
punishment from him.

Mr. Perkinson soon became disgusted with Missouri, and leaving his
slaves in the care of W. B. Bruce to be hired out yearly, went back to
Virginia. Some said it was a widow, Mrs. Wooten, who took him back,
while others believed that it was because he could not stand the cursing
and whipping of slaves carried on by his brother Jack whom he could not
control. This man, Jack Perkinson, died about the year 1846, and left a
wife and three children. Although he had borne the reputation of being
the hardest master in that county, his wife was quite different. When
she took charge of the estate, she hired out the slaves, most of them to
the tobacco factory owners, and really received more money yearly for
them than when they worked upon the farm. After her death the estate
passed to her children and was managed by the eldest son, Pettis, who
was very kind to his slaves until they became free by the Emancipation
Proclamation. I am informed that the very best of friendship still
exists between the whites and blacks of that family.

In January, 1846, with my older brothers I was hired to Judge Applegate,
who conducted a tobacco factory at Keytesville, Missouri. I was then
about ten years old, and although I had worked at Mr. Mean’s place, I
had done no steady work, because I was allowed many liberties, but at
Judge Applegate’s I was kept busy every minute from sunrise to sunset,
without being allowed to speak a word to anyone. I was too young then to
be kept in such close confinement. It was so prison-like to be compelled
to sit during the entire year under a large bench or table filled with
tobacco, and tie lugs all day long except during the thirty minutes
allowed for breakfast and the same time allowed for dinner. I often fell
asleep. I could not keep awake even by putting tobacco into my eyes. I
was punished by the overseer, a Mr. Blankenship, every time he caught me
napping, which was quite often during the first few months. But I soon
became used to that kind of work and got along very well the balance of
that year.

Orders had been sent to W. B. Bruce by Mr. Perkinson to bring his slaves
back to Virginia, and about March, 1847, he started with us contrary to
our will. But what could we do? Nothing at all. We finally got started
by steamboat from Brunswick to St. Louis, Missouri, and thence to
Cincinnati, Ohio. Right here I must tell a little incident that
happened, which explains why we were not landed at Cincinnati, but taken
to the Kentucky side of the river, where we remained until the steamboat
finished her business there and crossed over and took us on board again.
Deck passage on the steamer had been secured for us by W. B. Bruce, and
there were on the same deck some poor white people. Just before reaching
Cincinnati, Ohio, some of these whites told my mother and other older
ones, that when the boat landed at Cincinnati the abolitionists would
come aboard and even against their will take them away. Of course our
people did not know what the word abolitionist meant; they evidently
thought it meant some wild beast or Negro-trader, for they feared both
and were greatly frightened--so much so that they went to W. B. Bruce
and informed him of what they had been told. He was greatly excited and
went to the captain of the boat. I am unable to state what passed
between them, but my mother says he paid the captain a sum of money to
have us landed on the Kentucky side of the river. At any rate I know we
were put ashore opposite Cincinnati, and remained there until the
streamer transacted its business at Cincinnati and then crossed over and
picked us up. The story told us by the white deck passengers had a great
deal of truth in it. I have since learned that a slave could not remain
a slave one minute after touching the free soil of that state, and that
its jurisdiction extended to low water mark of the Ohio River. Slaves in
transit had been taken from steamers and given their freedom in just
such cases as the one named above. A case of this kind had been taken
upon appeal to the Supreme Court of the state of Ohio, and a decision
handed down in favor of the freedom of the slave. The ignorance of these
women caused me to work as a slave for seventeen years afterwards.


Early in the spring of 1847, we reached the Perkinson farm in Virginia,
where we found our master, whom we had not seen for nearly three years,
and his son Willie, as he was then called, with hired slaves cultivating
the old farm. My older brothers, James and Calvin, were at once hired to
Mr. Hawkins, a brickmaker, at Farmville, Prince Edward County, Virginia.

In as much as it was not the custom in that state to put slaves at work
in the field before they had reached thirteen years of age, I, being
less, was allowed to eat, play and grow, and I think the happiest days
of my boyhood were spent here. There were seven or eight boys about my
age belonging to Mrs. Perkinson, living less than a mile distant on
adjoining farms, who also enjoyed the same privileges, and there were
four or five hounds which we could take out rabbit hunting when we
wished to do so. It was grand sport to see five or six hounds in line on
a trail and to hear the sweet music of these trained fox hounds. To us,
at least, it was sweet music. We roamed over the neighboring lands
hunting and often catching rabbits, which we brought home. During the
fishing season we often went angling in the creeks that meandered
through these lands to the millpond which furnished the water for the
mill near by, which was run by Uncle Radford, an old trustworthy slave
belonging to Mrs. Prudence Perkinson. He was the lone miller, and
ground wheat and corn for the entire neighborhood.

There were several orchards of very fine fruit on these farms. We were
allowed to enjoy the apples, peaches, cherries and plums, to our heart’s
content. Besides, there were large quantities of wild berries and nuts,
especially chinquapins. When we had nothing else to do in the way of
enjoyment we played the game of “shinney”--a game that gave great
pleasure to us all. I was playmate and guardian for Willie Perkinson,
and in addition to this I had a standing duty to perform, which was to
drive up three cows every afternoon. At this time Willie was old enough
to attend the school which was about two miles away, and I had to go
with him in the forenoon and return for him in the afternoon. He usually
went with me after the cows.

I had been taught the alphabet while in Missouri and could spell
“baker,” “lady,” “shady,” and such words of two syllables, and Willie
took great pride in teaching me his lessons of each day from his books,
as I had none and my mother had no money to buy any for me. This
continued for about a year before the boy’s aunt, Mrs. Prudence
Perkinson, who had cared for Willie while we were in Missouri, found it
out, and I assure you, dear reader, she raised a great row with our
master about it. She insisted that it was a crime to teach a Negro to
read, and that it would spoil him, but our owner seemed not to care
anything about it and did nothing to stop it, for afterward I frequently
had him correct my spelling. In after years I learned that he was glad
that his Negroes could read, especially the Bible, but he was opposed
to their being taught writing.

But my good time ended when I was put to the plow in the Spring of 1848.
The land was hilly and rocky. I, being of light weight, could not hold
the plow steadily in the ground, however hard I tried. My master was my
trainer and slapped my jaws several times for that which I could not
prevent. I knew then as well as I know now, that this was unjust
punishment. But after the breaking season and planting the crop of corn
and tobacco was over, I was given a lighter single horse plow and
enjoyed the change and the work. Compared with some of his neighbors,
our master was not a hard man on his slaves, because we enjoyed many
privileges that other slaves did not have. Some slave owners did not
feed well, causing their slaves to steal chickens, hogs and sheep from
them or from other owners. Bacon and bread with an occasional meal of
beef was the feed through the entire year; but our master gave us all we
could eat, together with such vegetables as were raised on the farm. My
mother was the cook for the families, white and black, and of course I
fared well as to food.

Willie Perkinson had become as one of us and regarded my mother as his
mother. He played with the colored boys from the time he got home from
school till bedtime, and again in the morning till time to go to school,
and every Saturday and Sunday. Having learned to spell I kept it up, and
took lessons from Willie as often as I could. My younger brother, B. K.
Bruce (now Ex-Senator) had succeeded me as playmate and guardian of
Willie, and being also anxious to learn, soon caught up with me, and by
Willie’s aid went ahead of me and has held his place during all the
years since.

Mrs. Prudence Perkinson and her son Lemuel, lived about one mile from
our place, and they owned about fifty field hands, as they were called.
They also had an overseer or negro-driver whose pay consisted of a
certain percentage of the crop.

The larger the crop the larger his share would be, and having no money
interest in the slaves he drove them night and day without mercy. This
overseer was a mean and cruel man and would, if not checked by her, whip
some one every day. Lemuel Perkinson, was a man who spent his time in
pleasure seeking, such as fox-hunting, fishing, horse racing and other
sports, and was away from home a great deal, so much so that he paid
little attention to the management of the farm. It was left to the care
of his mother and the overseer. Mrs. Sarah Perkinson, wife of Lemuel
Perkinson, was a dear good woman and was beloved by all her slaves as
long as I knew her, and I am informed that she is living now and is
still beloved by her ex-slaves. Mrs. Prudence Perkinson would not allow
her overseer to whip a grown slave without her consent, because I have
known of cases where the overseer was about to whip a slave when he
would break loose and run to his old mistress. If it was a bad case she
would punish the slave by taking off her slipper and slapping his jaws
with it. They were quite willing to take that rather than be punished by
the overseer who would often have them take off the shirt to be whipped
on their bare backs.

Mrs. Prudence Perkinson was a kind hearted woman, but when angry and
under the excitement of the moment would order a servant whipped, but
before the overseer could carry it out would change her mind. I recall a
case where her cook, Annica, had sauced her and refused to stop talking
when told to do so. She sent for the overseer to come to the Great House
to whip her (Annica). He came and called her out; she refused to obey.
He then pulled her outside and struck her two licks with his whip, when
her “old mistress” promptly stopped him and abused him, and drove him
out of the Great House yard for his brutality. She went to Annica, spoke
kindly to her and asked her if she was hurt.

I write of this as I saw it. I can recall only one or two instances
where our master whipped a grown person, but when he had it to do or
felt that it should be done, he did it well.

Our owner had one serious weakness which was very objectionable to us,
and one in which he was the exception and not the rule of the master
class. It was this: He would associate with “poor white trash,” would
often invite them to dine with him, and the habit remained with him
during his entire life.

There lived near our farm two poor white men, better known at the South
as “poor white trash,” named John Flippen and Sam Hawkins. These men
were too lazy to do steady work and made their living by doing chores
for the rich and killing hawks and crows at so much a piece, for the
owner of the land on which they were destroyed. These men would watch us
and report to our master everything they saw us do that was a violation
of rules. I recall one instance in which I was whipped on account of a
lie told by Sam Hawkins. The facts in the case are as follows: I was
sent one Saturday afternoon to Major Price’s place after some garden
seed and was cautioned not to ride the mare hard, and I did not
therefore take her out of a walk or a very slow trot as it was not to my
interest to do otherwise, for the distance was but two miles and if I
came back before sundown I would have to go into the field to work
again. I got back about sundown, but had met Sam Hawkins on the road as
I went, and he was at our house when I returned. He was invited to
supper, and while at the table told my master that I had the mare in a
gallop when he met me. Coffee was very costly at that time, too high for
the “poor white trash;” none but the rich could afford it, and the only
chance these poor whites had to get a cup of coffee was when so invited.
It was always a Godsend to them, not only the good meal, but the honor
of dining with the “BIG BUGS.” Being illiterate their conversation could
not exceed what they had seen and heard, and to please their masters,
for such they were to these poor whites almost as much as to their
slaves, they told everything they had seen the slaves do, and oftener

After supper that evening my master sent for me. When I came, he had a
switch in his hand and proceeded to explain why he was going to whip me.
I pleaded innocence and positively disputed the charge. At this he then
became angry and whipped me. When he stopped he said it was not so much
for the fast riding that he had punished me as it was for disputing a
white man’s word. Fool that I was then, for I would not have received
any more whipping at that time, but knowing that I was not guilty I said
so again and he immediately flogged me again. When he stopped he asked
me in a loud tone of voice, “Will you have the impudence to dispute a
white man’s word again?” My answer was “No sir.” That was the last
whipping he ever gave me, and that on account of the lie told by a poor
white man. But I lived not only to dispute the word of these poor whites
in their presence, but in after years abused and threatened to punish
them for trespassing upon his lands.

Other ex-slaves can relate many such cases as the Hawkins’ case and such
instances, in my opinion, have been the cause of the intense hatred of
slaves against the poor whites of the South, and I believe that from
such troubles originates the term “poor white trash.” In many ways this
unfortunate class of Southern people had but a few more privileges than
the slaves. True, they were free, could go where they pleased without a
“pass,” but they could not, with impunity, dispute the word of the rich
in anything, and obeyed their masters as did the slaves. It has been
stated by many writers, and I accept it as true, that the Emancipation
Proclamation issued by President Lincoln, not only freed the slaves, but
the poor whites of the South as well, for they occupied a condition
nearly approaching that of slavery.

They were nominally free, but that freedom was greatly restricted on
account of the prejudice against them as a class. They were often
employed by the ruling class to do small jobs of work and while so
engaged were not allowed, even to eat with them at the same table,
neither could they in any way associate or intermarry with the upper
classes. Of course this unfortunate class of people had a vote, but it
was always cast just as the master class directed, and not as the voter
desired, if he had a desire. I recall very clearly the fact, that at
each County, State or National election the poor white people were
hauled to the voting places in wagons belonging to the aristocratic
class. They also furnished a prepared ballot for each man and woe unto
that poor white man who failed to vote that ticket or come when sent
for. Each one of the master class kept a strict lookout for every poor
white man in his neighborhood and on election days sent his wagons and
brought each one of these voters to the polls.

When the war of the Rebellion broke out this class of men constituted
the rank and file of the Confederate army and rendered good service for
their masters, who had only to speak a kind word to them when they would
take the oath and obediently march to the front, officered by the
aristocratic class. These poor people contributed their full share to
the death roll of the Southern Army.

True to his low instinct, the poor white man is represented at the South
as the enemy of the Colored people to-day, just as he was before the
war, and is still as illiterate as he was then. He is not far enough up
the scale to see the advantage of education, and will not send his
children to school, nor allow the Colored child to go, if it is in his
power to prevent it. It is this class who burn the school houses in the
Southland to-day. The aristocracy and the Colored people of the South
would get along splendidly, were it not for these poor whites, who are
the leaders in all the disorders, lynchings and the like. The South will
be the garden spot, the cradle of liberty, the haven of America, when
the typical poor whites of that section shall have died off, removed, or
become educated, and not till then.


During the summer, in Virginia and other southern states, slaves when
threatened or after punishment would escape to the woods or some other
hiding place. They were then called runaways, or runaway Negroes, and
when not caught would stay away from home until driven back by cold
weather. Usually they would go to some other part of the state, where
they were not so well known, and a few who had the moral courage would
make their way to the North, and thus gain their freedom. But such cases
were rare. Some, if captured and not wishing to go back to their
masters, would neither give their correct name nor that of their owner;
and in such cases, if the master had not seen the notice of sale posted
by the officers of the county wherein they were captured, and which
usually gave the runaway’s personal description, they were sold to the
highest bidders, and their masters lost them and the county in which the
capture was effected got the proceeds, less the expense of capture. A
runaway often chose that course in order to get out of the hands of a
hard master, thinking that he could not do worse in any event, while he
might fall into the hands of a better master. Often they were bought by
Negro traders for the cotton fields of the South.

The white children had great fear of runaway Negroes, so much so that
their mothers would use the term “runaway nigger” to scare their babies
or to quiet them. I was greatly afraid of them, too, because I had
heard so many horrible stories told of their brutality, but I have no
personal recollections of any such case. I recall two instances where I
had dealings with them. The first was as follows:--One of our cows had a
calf two or three days old hid in the timber land, and I was sent to
find it, and in doing so went into the woods where the underbrush was
quite thick, and suddenly came upon a rough-looking, half-clad black
man. I was too close or too much frightened to run from him and stood
speechless. He spoke pleasantly, telling me where I could find the calf,
and stated that if I told the white people about him he would come back
and kill me. He had a piece of roasted pork and “ashcake,” and offered
me some which I was afraid to refuse. Of course I did not inform on him.

The other occasion was when I was sent to the mill about three miles
distant with an ox-team and two or three bags of corn and wheat. I did
not get away from the mill until near sundown, and when near home, while
passing through a body of timber land, a black man stepped out in front
of my oxen and stopped them. He looked vicious but said nothing. He got
into the cart and cut one bag in half, taking about one bushel of meal,
jumped out and let me go without further trouble. I told my master about
this but nothing was done, it being Saturday night, and the only man
near by who kept Negro hounds was Thomas Rudd, who would not go Negro
hunting on Sunday.

These runaways lived upon stolen pigs and sheep, and the hardest thing
for them to get was salt and bread. It was really dangerous for any
person to betray one of these fellows, for when caught and carried home
to their masters, they were usually whipped. But they would run away
again, come back, lie in wait for their betrayer, and punish him
severely. Those who hired slaves belonging to estates, which under the
law had to be hired out every year, often suffered in this respect, for
it sometimes happened that the slaves would run away in the spring and
remain away until Christmas, when they would report to the guardian of
the estate, ready to be hired out for another year, while the employer
was compelled to pay for the last year’s service. I have known of
several such cases.

I hope from what I have said about “runaways,” that my readers will not
form the opinion that all slave men who imagined themselves treated
harshly ran away, or that they were all too lazy to work in the hot
weather and took to the woods, or that all masters were so brutal that
their slaves were compelled to run away to save life. There were masters
of different dispositions and temperaments. Many owners treated their
slaves so humanely that they never ran away, although they were
sometimes punished; others really felt grieved for it to be known, that
one of their slaves had been compelled to run away; others allowed the
overseer to treat their slaves with such brutality that they were forced
to run away, and when they did, the condition of those remaining was
bettered, because the master’s attention would be called to the fact,
and he would limit the power of the overseer to punish at will; others
never whipped grown slaves and would not allow any one else to do so. I
recall an instance showing the viciousness of these runaway Negroes,
which I think illustrates the point as to their hard character.

There was a slave named Bluford, belonging to a hemp raiser in Saline
County, Missouri, who owned a large plantation, and owned a large
number of slaves, and who had a poor white man employed as overseer.
This overseer got angry at Bluford for some offence or neglect, and
attempted to flog him, but instead got flogged himself and reported to
the master the treatment he had received. The master sent for Bluford,
and without making inquiry to ascertain the facts, proceeded to punish
the slave, who in turn flogged his master and then ran away. The
Missouri River is a very wide, rapid and dangerous stream, and runs
between Howard and Salem counties, only a few miles from his master’s
plantation. By some means Bluford crossed it and hid himself in a wheat
field on the other side of the river to wait till dark. He told me that
he was hid in a corner of a fence, and the wheat being ripe was ready to
be cut. Now what spirit lead the owner of the field to get over the
fence right in that corner can never be known, but he did, and found
Bluford, whom he grabbed in the collar, and refused to let go after
being warned. Bluford was armed with a butcher’s knife, and with it he
cut the man across the abdomen, severing it to the backbone, causing
death in a very short time. Hunting parties were immediately organized,
who searched the surrounding country in vain for the murderer. I think
this occurred in July, 1855. I had been acquainted with Bluford previous
to that time.

Some time during the spring of 1865, I met Bluford on the street in
Leavenworth, Kansas, after he had been to Kansas City, Missouri, to meet
some relative. He gave me the facts in the case, and told me that he
followed Grand River to its head water, which was in Iowa, then made his
way to Des Moines, where he remained until the war, when he enlisted
and served to the close of the war.

Bluford could read quite well when I knew him in 1855, and had paid
attention to the maps and rivers of the state of Missouri.

Then there were different kinds of slaves, the lazy fellow, who would
not work at all, unless forced to do so, and required to be watched, the
good man, who patiently submitted to everything, and trusted in the Lord
to save his soul; and then there was the one who would not yield to
punishment of any kind, but would fight until overcome by numbers, and
in most cases be severely whipped; he would then go to the woods or
swamps, and was hard to capture, being usually armed with an axe, corn
knife, or some dangerous weapon, as fire arms at that time were not
obtainable. Then there was the unruly slave, whom no master particularly
wanted for several reasons; first, he would not submit to any kind of
corporal punishment; second, it was hard to determine which was the
master or which the slave; third, he worked when he pleased to do so;
fourth, no one would buy him, not even the Negro trader, because he
could not take possession of him without his consent, and of course he
could not get that. He could only be taken dead, and was worth too much
money alive to be killed in order to conquer him. Often masters gathered
a gang of friends, surrounded such fellows, and punished them severely,
and at other times the slave would arm himself with an axe, or something
dangerous, and threaten death to any one coming within his reach. They
could not afford to shoot him on account of the money in him, and of
course they left him. This class of slaves were usually industrious,
but very impudent. There were thousands of that class, who spent their
lives in their master’s service, doing his work undisturbed, because the
master understood the slave.

I am reminded of a fight I once witnessed between a slave and his
master. They were both recognized bullies. The master was a farmer,
whose name I shall call Mr. W., who lived about three miles from
Brunswick, Missouri. He had, by marriage I think, gained possession of a
slave named Armstead. Soon after arriving at his new home his master and
he had some words; his master ordered him to “shut up,” which he refused
to do. The master struck him and he returned the blow. Then Mr. W. said,
“Well, sir, if that is your game I am your man, and I tell you right
now, if you lick me I’ll take it as my share, and that will end it, but
if I lick you, then you are to stand and receive twenty lashes.”

They were out in an open field near the public road, where there was
nothing to interfere. I was on a wagon in the road, about forty yards
distant. Then commenced the prettiest fist and skull fight I ever
witnessed, lasting, it seemed, a full half hour; both went down several
times; they clinched once or twice, and had the field for a ring, and
might have occupied more of it than they did, but they confined
themselves to about one fourth of an acre. Of course Armstead had my
sympathy throughout, because I wanted to see whether Mr. W. would keep
his word. They were both bloody and also muddy, but grit to the
backbone. Finally my man went down and could not come to time, and cried
out, “Enough.” There was a creek near by, and they both went to it to
wash. I left, but was informed that the agreement was carried out,
except that Mr. W. gave his whipped man but six light strokes over his
vest. Could he have done less? But I have been informed that these men
got along well afterwards without fighting, and lived together as master
and slave until the war.

I believe in that old saying, that blood will tell. It is found to be
true in animals by actual tests, and if we will push our investigations
a little further, we will find it true as to human beings.

Of course I do not wish to be understood as teaching the doctrine, that
blood is to be divided into white blood and black blood, but on the
contrary, I wish to be understood as meaning that it should be divided
into inferior and superior, regardless of the color of the individual in
whose veins it flows.

The fact of the presence in the South, especially, of the large number
of the typical poor whites, held, as it were, in a degree of slavery, is
a contradiction of the assertion, that white blood alone is superior.

If this class had superior blood in their veins, (which I deny) is there
a sane man who will believe that they would have remained in the South,
generations after generations, filling menial positions, with no
perceptible degree of advancement? I venture to say not. The truth is,
that they had inferior blood; nothing more. To further explain what I
mean relative to inferior and superior blood among slaves, I will state,
that there were thousands of high-toned and high-spirited slaves, who
had as much self-respect as their masters, and who were industrious,
reliable and truthful, and could be depended upon by their masters in
all cases.

These slaves knew their own helpless condition. They also knew that they
had no rights under the laws of the land, and that they were, by those
same laws, the chattels of their masters, and that they owed them their
services during their natural lives, and that the masters alone could
make their lives pleasant or miserable. But having superior blood in
their veins, they did not give up in abject servility, but held up their
heads and proceeded to do the next best thing under the circumstances,
which was, to so live and act as to win the confidence of their masters,
which could only be done by faithful service and an upright life.

Such slaves as these were always the reliables, and the ones whom the
master trusted and seldom had occasion to even scold for neglect of
duty. They spent their lives in their master’s service, and reared up
their children in the same service.

Such slaves were to be found wherever the institution of slavery
existed, and when they were freed by the war, these traits which they
had exhibited for generations to such good effect, were brought into
greater activity, and have been largely instrumental in making the
record of which we feel so proud to-day. This class of slaves not only
looked after their own interests, but their master’s as well, even in
his absence.

I recall a case in point. Some time during the fall of 1857, in company
with a man belonging to Dr. Watts, who lived near Brunswick, Missouri,
as we were passing his master’s farm, one Sunday night, we heard cattle
in the corn field destroying green corn. These cattle had pushed down
the fence. I said to the man: “Let us drive them out and put up the
fence.” His reply was, “It’s Massa’s corn and Massa’s cattle, and I
don’t care how much they destroy; he won’t thank me for driving them
out, and I will not do it.”

To the class of superior blooded slaves may be added the fighting
fellows, or those who knew when they had discharged their duty, and by
virtue of knowing this fact, would not submit to any kind of corporal
punishment at the hand of their master, and especially his overseer.

Just as among the whites in the South there was an inferior blooded
class, so among the slaves there was an inferior blooded class, one
whose members were almost entirely devoid of all the manly traits of
character, who were totally unreliable and were without self-respect
enough to keep themselves clean.

They spent their lives much like beasts of burden. They took no interest
in their master’s work or his property, and went no further than forced
by the lash, and would not go without it.

They reared their children in the same way they had come up, with no
perceptible change for the better. They had not the spirit nor the
courage to resist punishment, and bore it submissively. From that class,
I believe, springs the worthless, the shiftless, the dishonest and the
immoral among us to-day, casting unmerited blame upon the honest,
thrifty and intelligent colored people, who strive to live right in the
sight of God and man.

Another view held by people who have given the matter some thought, is
this: there were masters of quite different temperament and disposition.
Some had no humane feelings, and regarded their slaves as brutes, and
treated them as such, while there were others, (a very large class) who
were good men, and I might say, religious men, and who regarded slavery
as wrong in principle, but as it was handed down to them, they took it,
believing that they, by fair treatment, could improve the slave, morally
at least, for it was generally believed, that if he was freed and
returned to Africa, he would relapse into barbarism. This latter class
of slave owners treated their slaves better by far, than the other
class, and my belief and experience tend to show that they got better
service from their slaves, and enjoyed more pleasure, being almost
entirely freed from the disagreeable duty of inflicting corporal
punishment. I have personal knowledge of cases where young slaves had
violated important rules, and the master, instead of punishing them
himself, would go to their parents, lay the case before them, and demand
that they take action.

In cases where the master had confidence in his slaves, and they in turn
had confidence in him, both got along agreeably.

So that the point I wish to make is, that with few exceptions, a good
master made good slaves, intelligent, industrious and trustworthy, while
on the other hand, a mean and cruel master made shiftless, careless, and
indolent slaves, who, being used to the lash as a remedy for every
offence, had no fears of it, and would not go without it. Some people
assert that long-continued ill-treatment had taken all the spirit of
manhood out of this class of slaves, and that it will take generations
of schooling and contact with intelligent people to instill into them
the spirit of manhood, self-respect, and correct ideas of morality.

Admitting this to be true, I believe it is as much the duty of the
American white people to extend the necessary aid to these unfortunate
people, as it is the duty of the better class among us, (the colored
people), to do this work of uplifting them.

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I recently visited my old home in Prince Edward County, Virginia, after
an absence of forty-four years, and was greatly surprised at the changes
which had taken place during that period. I had much trouble to find
farms which I had knowledge of, because I remembered them only by the
names they were called by in 1849. The owners of them had died or moved
away and others had acquired the lands, changing the names of them,
while other farms had been deserted and allowed to grow up in forests,
so that with a few exceptions the country for miles in every direction
was an unbroken forest of young trees.

Among the many notable changes which have taken place in this part of
the State since 1849, are two or three to which my attention was
particularly directed. The first is the entire change in the method of
travel and transportation of freight and produce between Richmond, the
western portion of the State and the Southern States.

The entire absence of the large number of six-horse teams, in charge of
a colored driver and a water boy, that used to pass up and down the
public road, which ran in front of our old home, and which extended from
Richmond to the Blue Ridge Mountains, was quite noticeable, because that
was the principal method by which freight and produce were carried.

That system of travel and transportation has been superseded by
railroads, and goods are now delivered by the Richmond & Danville
inside of three days after purchase, to any place on that railroad
within two or three hundred miles. This railroad now runs parallel with
the old public road from Richmond to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the
South, and has entirely usurped the trade formerly monopolized by the
old six-horse team system.

Very vividly do I recall the many six-horse teams which used to pass
daily up and down that old road with their great loads of corn, wheat
and tobacco, and return loaded with drygoods and groceries for the
country merchants. I have seen as many as twenty of these teams pass our
old home in one day. The teamsters, though slaves, were absolutely
reliable and therefore, were intrusted with taking orders and produce
from country storekeepers to the wholesale merchants in Richmond and on
their return they would bring back the drygoods and groceries that had
been ordered by the country dealers living along the road. Usually these
wagoners went in squads of four or five and camped at the same camping
grounds. The owners of these teams would come along about once a month
paying and collecting bills.

These great wagons, covered with white canvas to protect the freight
they bore, sometimes carrying from seven to ten thousand pounds and each
drawn by six fine blooded horses, made to me at least, a grand and
impressive picture, as the procession moved along the old road in front
of our place. This picture was heightened by the picturesqueness of the
colored driver in charge and his peculiar and characteristic dress. As
he rode along on the saddle horse of the team he seemed conscious of the
great responsibility resting upon his shoulders, and to the
simple-minded colored people along the road he was simply an uncrowned
king. When the wagons stopped at the camping grounds, located at regular
intervals along the road, the colored people of the neighborhood flocked
around to get a glimpse of this great man.

Although the freight was very valuable sometimes and often carried great
distances, robbing or molesting these trains was something unheard of.
They were perfectly secure while on the move or in camp, even in the
most sparsely settled districts, because there were no robbers or gangs
of thieves organized in those days to plunder passing teams. It is quite
doubtful whether the same would be true nowadays if a return to the old
method of transportation was resorted to.

The country merchants in those days were contented and happy, I suppose,
to be able to get their orders filled and goods delivered inside of from
thirty to ninety days.

This great public highway, which was kept in such splendid condition in
1849 and prior thereto, and which had so many beautiful camping grounds
where wood and water were convenient and not far apart, with little
villages every ten or fifteen miles, where there were inns for
travellers to rest and feed their horses has become a thing of the past
along with that old system of travel and transportation. I have seen
many men, called travelers in those days, pass over that old road going
to, or from the South or West on horseback, with large saddlebags
strapped behind them armed with a horse pistol, which was about twenty
inches long and as large as an old flint musket. Usually they carried a
pair of these pistols hanging down in front of them, one on each side
of the horse’s neck.

That was the usual way of travel in those days when persons wished to go
a long distance, particularly to the West or South. Signs of this old
road can yet be seen in places, but the road has been almost deserted,
and has grown up in forest.

In front of our old place, and in fact from Miller’s Store, a little
village with a post-office, to Scofields, a similar place, a distance of
ten miles, that old road was nearly on a straight line, was broad and
almost level, and was the pride of that community; but when I saw it in
July, 1893, and attempted with a horse and buggy to pass over it for a
distance of a few miles I found it impassable. From John Queensbury’s
Public Inn and Camping ground to our old home, a distance of three miles
the old road has been entirely obliterated.

This road was kept in such a fine condition up to 1849 that many tobacco
raisers used to put rollers around one or two hogs heads of tobacco,
weighing about a thousand pounds each, then attach a pair of shafts and
with a single horse draw them to Richmond, a distance of sixty miles.

I readily recall many different kinds of travel and trade which once
thrived on this public highway. Richmond at that date being a great pork
market and the most convenient one for the pork raisers of West Virginia
and the Eastern portion of Kentucky, and this old public highway being
the most direct route for travel from the West to Richmond, these hog
raisers, in order to reach a market for their hogs, were compelled to
drive them on foot over the road a distance of over two hundred miles. I
have seen as many as three hundred hogs in one drove pass our old home
in one day going towards Richmond. Usually these hog drivers brought
along several wagon loads of corn to feed their hogs while en route.
They could and did travel from ten to twelve miles a day, and from early
fall to spring each year many thousand hogs were driven into Richmond
over this public highway.

Besides supplying Richmond with pork, which in turn, furnished other
places, especially in the South, these hog raisers sold hogs to planters
on the road, who had failed to raise enough pork for home consumption.
Pork was the principal meat diet at that time for both white and black,
there being few sheep or beef cattle killed for table use, and then
always for the table of the master classes.

To advise a farmer now living in West Virginia or Eastern Kentucky, who
owns a hundred head of marketable hogs, to drive them two hundred miles
to market, as his father had done, would be considered by him very
foolish advice. But such was the only way of transportation of that kind
of product prior to the year 1849, of which the writer has personal

These cases mentioned show clearly what railroads have done, not only
for Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, but the whole country and
especially the Southern portion of it.

Richmond was also the principal slave market and this public highway the
most direct route to the Southern cotton fields, especially those of
Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, and Negro
traders passed over it many times each year with gangs of slaves bought
at the public auction block in Richmond. I have seen many gangs of
slaves driven over this old road. Usually, the slave men were
handcuffed together with long chains between them extending the whole
length of the gang, which contained as many as forty, sometimes, or
twenty on each side of the chain marching in line. The women and small
boys were allowed to walk unchained in the line while the children and
the lame and those who were sick rode in wagons. The entire caravan
would be under the charge of the owner and a guard of four or five poor
white men armed each with a rawhide whip, with which to urge the gang
along and to keep them in line or at least in the road.

It was not the custom, neither was it to the owner’s interest, to treat
these slaves brutally, for, like mules brought up to be carried to a
better market, or where larger prices prevailed, it was absolutely
necessary that they should not show any signs of ill-treatment; and I
cannot recall ever having seen the punishment of one of them. Of course
these Negro traders could not allow grown men to march in line
unchained, particularly those who did not want to go, because they might
become unmanageable, run away, and escape capture, thus causing the loss
of the price paid for them, or at least give considerable trouble. As a
general rule, many of these slave men were sold in the first place on
account of insubordination--had resisted their masters, or had beaten
their overseers, and such slaves were considered by their owners
dangerous fellows on the farm with others, especially young men who
might follow such examples. Then again many slaves were sold because
they had committed murder or some other crime not deserving the death
penalty, and there were no penitentiaries for slaves.

These and many other recollections of my early life crowded upon me as I
looked upon the old familiar scenes. The absence of familiar faces was
no less remarkable than the changes in lands and improvements, for I
found only one man I had seen before. There were two others whom I knew
in that vicinity and who had never left it, but I failed to find them at
their homes. I visited the home of Mrs. Sarah Perkinson, widow of Lemuel
Perkinson, mentioned in a previous chapter, but did not see her, as she
had left a few days prior on a visit to relatives in North Carolina. I
was really sorry I did not see her, for I could have obtained much
valuable information from her, as she had remained in that community
ever since the year 1849, and could have given me an interesting history
of past events. She still owns the old Perkinson farm consisting of
about two thousand acres. The old frame mansion which was built before
1841 was still there and in a fair state of preservation, and without
any apparent change since I last saw it forty-four years ago. I found
old man, Major Perkinson, one of Mrs. Perkinson’s former slaves,
occupying the Great House and tilling the land. There were about fifty
acres under cultivation; the balance had grown wild. The old Major who
is now ninety years of age and quite active, remembered me very well and
proceeded to treat me like a southern gentleman of the old school would
have done. I next visited our old home which was one mile away. Here I
found the great house, also a frame building, built in the summer of
1842, in a good state of preservation, and as I went through every room
I am sure that there had been but little change in its structure. I also
visited the spot where my mother’s cabin stood, and then how forcibly
those lines of the poet touched my mind, “Childhood days now pass before
me, forms and scenes of long ago,” etc. The quarters for the colored
people had disappeared here as well as those at Mrs. Perkinson’s place.
This place is now owned by a Yankee lady in New York, and of the six
hundred acres under fence when we left it in 1849, only four acres are
now in use, the balance having grown up in forest.

I visited several places of interest, and among them was Green Bay,
about two miles north of our old home. Here I met Mr. Thomas Rowlett,
the station agent, and one, Mr. Scott, and a merchant named Richardson,
whose father I remembered. All three of these men are direct descendants
of the “Blue Bloods,” and I found them still defending the right. I was
greatly impressed by a remark made by Mr. Richardson; he said, “We are
now, and will be for the next twenty years, suffering from the curse of
slavery; it cursed the slave, it cursed his master, it cursed the land.”
He then called attention to the thousands of acres gone wild, too poor
to produce anything, and the owners were unable to bring them to a
rentable condition, and the colored people could not make a living on
them and of course, left the country in search of work. He said one
could buy land anywhere in that community for three dollars per acre. Of
course it will cost at least ten dollars more to bring it up to a fair
state of cultivation. When I saw these fine lands in 1849, tilled by
slave labor, and kept in the very highest state of cultivation, and on
which splendid crops of tobacco, corn and wheat were raised, I could not
have realized that in the space of forty-four years these same lands
would be a wilderness, the owners scattered, and even the former slaves
gone. But so it is, and the names of the people who owned them
forgotten. The only men I found who had remained and retained not only
the old master’s name, but the farm as well, were the Scotts, consisting
of the father, two sons, Charles and Thomas, and a daughter, Mrs.
Lefere. They had acquired the old homesteads of their old masters in
each case and occupied the great house built of brick over sixty years
ago, and still in good condition. These farms were adjoining each other
and located on the Pike Road leading to Farmville, and near Sandy River
Church. I remembered these farms and the Scotts very well, and also the
church where my master used to go to worship quite often, and allowed
his slaves to go occasionally on Saturday afternoon. Why I recall this
so vividly is, because Sandy River was a clear deep stream with an
abundance of fish, and while the older ones attended divine service I
went fishing.

The Scotts, Col. Scott, Charles and Thomas A. Scott, brothers, were
considered the most aristocratic people in that community, and owned
quite a large number of slaves and treated them humanely, a fact which
the father of the Scotts now owning the lands will testify to. Old
masters are dead, and their children, having sold the old farms and
scattered, their former slaves now own these estates and are industrious
and thrifty farmers. They had the best crops I saw in that country, with
good stock in splendid condition. I found the wife of Thomas Scott and
Mrs. Lefere splendid housekeepers and entertained as none but Virginia
ladies can. Each had one or more grown daughters, well educated,
refined, and very pretty girls. I confess my surprise at finding such
intelligent and fashionably dressed girls in that community.


It is encouraging to note the advancement made upon the stronghold of
ignorance, superstition and voodooism by the Colored people, since their
emancipation from the bonds of slavery, and especially is this so to
those who remember the time when a large majority of them believed
strongly in all kinds of superstition, voodooism, gophering, tricking
and conjuring.

I readily recall many instances wherein they were fleeced out of their
little valuables or money by professional humbugs, known as conjurors,
who succeeded in duping their fellow-slaves so successfully, and to such
an extent, that they believed and feared them almost beyond their
masters. I have known of cases where these conjurors held whole
neighborhoods, as it were, in such mortal fear, that they could do unto
the Colored people anything they desired, without the least fear of them
telling their masters. These conjurors made all kinds of boasts and
threats, as to what they could and would do to anyone who dared to
interfere with them, or even dispute their word, or question their
ability to carry out what they claimed to be able to do.

These conjurors claimed to be able to do almost anything in the line of
impossibilities, even to taking life by the winking of their eye, to
make a master be kind to a slave, to prevent him from selling one, even
if he desired to do so, to make a girl love a man, whether she desired
him or not, to make a man love and even marry a woman if she desired

For a stipulated sum paid them, they would give what was called “a hand
or a jack,” which they claimed would enable the holder to accomplish
what he desired, and at the same time protect him from all harm,
provided always, that the holder had faith and followed instructions.

These conjurors claimed to be able to bury a hand or a jack under the
master’s door step, which would prevent him from whipping a particular
slave while it was there. Of course, if that particular slave got
whipped, and so reported to the old conjuror, he would promptly claim
one of three things, either that someone had removed the jack, or that
the fellow had failed to carry out instructions, or had no faith in the
jack, and therefore was deserving of punishment.

These conjurors claimed to be able to put pain, or even permanent
disability upon any one they desired, and could remove the trick put on
by another conjuror, could cause live scorpions to appear under the skin
of persons, and could take out those put there by other conjurors. They
claimed that nearly every pain or ache was the result of conjuration,
and the one sent for could take it off. To show to what extent these
people believed in voodooism, and could be fleeced, I will relate a
story told me by Ike Cabel, of Brunswick, Mo. He said he was out with a
surveying party about the year 1852, and camped near a large plantation
in Louisiana. He gave it out among the slaves that he was a conjuror,
and soon thereafter his camp was besieged every night by slaves with all
kinds of aches and pains, which he cured with red clay, oak leaves and
salt boiled, and collected fifty cents from each. A man came one night
claiming that he had a scorpion in his leg, and that he felt it running
up and down the leg. He told the man to come the next night, which he
did. The next day he wanted a live scorpion, and being afraid of it
himself, he got two young white men of the party to catch one for him,
promising them one-half he was to receive for the job, and of course,
let them into the secret. They captured a scorpion, wrapped it up
carefully in brown paper, so that it could not escape or bite, and
delivered it to Ike.

After rubbing the man’s leg for a while with his other trick medicine
with one hand, carefully holding his little animal in the other, and
when ready for the final act, he looked heavenward, and in a loud voice
commanded the scorpion to come out of the man’s leg. Then in a few
seconds he informed his dupe that the animal had come, and at the same
time, and by a quick motion, freed the scorpion and brushed it from the
leg to the floor, when the freed scorpion attempted to escape, and was
killed and carried away by the patient after paying the three dollars.

Now it would have been a hard job to convince that poor, innocent,
unsuspecting man, that he did not have a live scorpion taken from his
leg. His imagination was cured, and he was satisfied, and spread the
news far and wide of his wonderful cure.

It is claimed that the way scorpions and other little poisonous animals
or insects are gotten into the body is through whiskey. That the little
scorpion is killed and laid out to dry, and when thoroughly dried is
beaten into dust, and the dust put into a bottle of whiskey, and in a
short time after being drank will reproduce itself, whatever it is,
under the skin of the drinker. At any rate, I remember that conjurors
were never asked for a drink of whiskey, and people were always afraid
to take a drink from some men’s bottle until the owner had drank first,
“to take the poison off.”

These conjurors practiced with different kinds of roots, seeds, barks,
insects, and other strange ingredients, but polk root and green planten
were among their principal remedies to take off a trick or a pain. Of
course they had some queer ways of mixing things to make it appear
mysterious. A poultice made of polk root is said to be a good remedy for
rheumatism, and these conjurors probably knew that, and put in the
poultice a few harmless things to make it appear strange, and if the
rheumatic pain was removed, they would claim that they had taken off a
trick put there by some conjuror. Of course different conjurors have
different jacks and different “hands,” but the two I saw were composed
of hog-bristles, old horse shoe nails, a little red clay, salt, red
pepper, red oak leaves, soaked in vinegar, then wrapped in a roll about
three inches long and one inch thick, and tied with a yarn string very
tightly. There is a peculiar lingo to accompany the “jack,” and it
varies according to requirements.

To show how thoroughly these people believed in conjurors, and to what
extent they could be imposed upon by them, I will relate one more
instance, which was told me by an old lady whose word I cannot doubt,
and whom I have known for these many years, but to honor and cheer. She
said that she belonged to one of two brothers living on adjoining farms
in Amelia County, Va., prior to the year 1830, and that one of them was
a bachelor and the other a widower, and that they loved each other
dearly. That they owned about thirty slaves each, and that one of them
decided to break up and take his slaves to Alabama, and made all
arrangements to do so. When the day came to start, he gave the order to
load the wagons and hitch up the horses, which was done, and that they
remained standing, as did the slaves, until late in the afternoon, when
the master came to the front door and gave orders to unload and unhitch
the teams, and for the slaves to go to his brother’s field to work. On
the next day he left on horseback in company with another man bound for

She said that many of his slaves did not want to go, and hearing of a
great conjuror living ten miles away, made up a purse and sent for him.
He came the night previous to the time set for starting to Alabama. My
informant says, that he told them upon his arrival, that they had waited
too long in sending for him, that if they had sent for him earlier he
could have stopped all, but now he could only stop the slaves from
going, and even that would depend on whether the master walked over a
“hand,” which he was going to put under the front door steps. She says
the old conjuror went to the front door steps of the great house about
twelve o’clock that night, dug a small hole under the ground step, took
from his pocket a little ball, talked to it a while in a whisper, then
kissed it and put it in the hole, and covered it carefully and came
away. That the slaves, she among them, watched the old master next
morning, until they saw him come down the steps and walk around a while,
then go back over this particular step. That they were then satisfied
that the old master could not take them anywhere, and he did not.

I was never able to convince my dear old lady friend that all conjurors
were humbugs, and this one was among them, and that it was purely a
matter of chance so far as he was concerned. I do not want it understood
that these conjurors were believed in by all Colored people, for there
were a large number of intelligent ones, who paid no attention to
conjurors, even defied them, told them that they were humbugs and liars.
These conjurors were a shrewd set of fellows, and on that account alone
were enabled to fool the less informed. They were industrious, and hard
working, and faithful servants, and of course received no punishment,
and were keen enough to point to this fact as evidence of the power of
their jack in keeping their master under control, when, as a matter of
fact, it was their faithful service alone that protected them from the

There have been cases where Colored people took sick from some cause,
and imagined themselves tricked or poisoned by some one, and the white
doctor, unable to do them any good, gave up the case, and the patients,
believing themselves poisoned and therefore incurable, have died, when
they might have been saved, if the white doctor had only thought for a
moment, and instead of giving up the case, announced himself a conjuror,
and proceeded to doctor his patient’s mind.

Superstition in some form has always existed, especially among
illiterate people, regardless of color, and the more illiterate the
greater the amount of superstition, and as a case of strong evidence of
this, I point to the “spirit dance” by the Indians of the far West,
where the excitement created by it has been so great, that an uprising
was only kept down by the vigilance of the regular army. While
conjuring, tricking and gophering, and the like, were believed in by the
slaves, and spirit dances and other forms of superstition were practiced
by the Indians, the American white people believed as strongly in
another form of superstition called “witch craft,” that they burnt
innocent men and women at the stake.

In order to show that education and intelligence are the great powers
which have been the means of dispelling the gloom of superstition and
voodooism among the Colored people especially, I will state that the
Colored people of Missouri, particularly those of Chariton, Howard,
Carroll and Randolph counties, were above the ordinary slaves in the
more extreme Southern states in intelligence and education, and did not
believe in voodooism or conjuration nearly as much as those in old
Virginia, and when one was brought to Missouri who claimed to be able to
exercise those miraculous powers, he was immediately laughed at and
openly defied by all excepting a few of the more illiterate. I recall
one instance where a man named Magruder, who owned about forty slaves,
which he brought to Brunswick, Missouri, from Virginia, and bought land
near the town and settled thereon. Among his slaves was an old,
whiteheaded, crippled man, known as a conjuror. He claimed to be able to
do many mysterious and impossible things, and among those who belonged
to his master he was believed and feared, but the Colored people in that
vicinity laughed at him, defied his threats, and denounced him as an old
humbug, for in truth such he was, and when those who believed in him saw
him defied and denounced, and his inability to carry out his threats,
they took courage and denounced him too. When he saw his business
assailed and himself defied, with no more opportunity to gull the
people, he gave it out that his favorite plants and roots did not grow
or could not be found in that country, and that alone was the reason why
he could not practice his profession. The truth of the matter was, that
the Colored people in that state were more intelligent than those from
whence he came, and therefore could not be easily humbugged.

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After having traveled over the rich lands of the Western Country, where
fine crops were raised without much effort, and especially without any
fertilizer, our master could not be content to remain in the poor,
hilly, rocky state of Virginia, and determined to go to Mississippi,
where his sister, Mrs. Susan Green then lived. So, about October, 1849,
having sold the old farm he started with his slaves.

On this occasion there was a separation of man and wife. Eight or ten
months previously, my sister Eliza had been married to a man named Tom,
belonging to Nathan Fulks, who claimed inability to buy my sister, and
her owner said he did not have the cash to spare to buy Tom, but offered
to take him along and pay hire for him, which his master refused, and
thus they were separated forever. She married again after six or seven
years, but I never heard of Tom afterward.

While en route to Mississippi, Uncle Walt, before mentioned, was taken
sick with some kind of a fever and had to be left for better care and
treatment near the line of Virginia and Tennessee. His wife, Aunt
Martha, did not want to be separated from him and was left, too. I have
been informed recently that they were sold to the man with whom they
were left. I remember when we lived in adjoining cabins that they were
very quarrelsome people, and did not want their son Isaac to play with
me, because, they said, I was a “yarler nigger.” I may have been a bad
boy at that time and am not now prepared to say that I was not, but they
used to treat me meanly in every possible way, and I often sauced them
and ran when they got after me. I remember that I was wicked enough to
be glad when they were left or sold, because they, particularly Aunt
Martha, were always trying to raise trouble about something.

With one exception our master then owned only my mother and her
children. By the first of December, 1849, we had reached the Greene
plantation, located about fifteen miles from Holly Springs, Mississippi,
which was a very large one and tilled by about three hundred slaves in
charge of a very mean overseer.

The day after our arrival at this place, those old enough to pick cotton
were sent to the field, and this was my first experience in
cotton-picking. We were called up by the overseer by means of a horn,
ate breakfast and were in the field by daylight, sometimes, before it
was light enough to see the cotton balls, and kept steadily at work till
noon, when dinner was brought to us on large trays and the order given
by the overseer to eat. We sat down right there, and as soon as the last
mouthful was swallowed the order was given to go to work. We were given
good, wholesome food and plenty of it, only the time was so short in
which to eat it. From noon until dark we were driven by the overseer who
carried a long whip called a blacksnake.

At dark, the females were allowed to go to their quarters, but the men
and boys were divided into squads of five; each had a bale of cotton to
turn out. Gins run by mules had been going all day, making lint cotton
which had to be put in bales, and each bale had to stand under the
press about twenty minutes, so that the last squad seldom got through
earlier than nine o’clock; and this went on each day except Sunday.

Mr. Greene ran a large cooking establishment, so that when the work of
the day was over supper was ready for all, and the horn was blown for
breakfast an hour before daylight.

We remained here until January 1, 1850, when we were hired to Thomas
Greene, a son of Mr. Greene, living about eight miles away. We got along
without any punishment, while at old man Greene’s plantation, but I saw
others whipped. It has occurred to me since that our owner had something
to do with this, for he was opposed to brutal treatment generally. He
had hired us out for a year, but in March of that year he had become so
dissatisfied with that country that he determined to leave it and go
back to Missouri.

Slave owners, even Mississippians, were not all brutal. This was
especially true of young Thomas Greene and his wife who were very good
people. There was also a man named Cox, near by, who owned about four
hundred slaves whom he treated very well. He gave them good quarters and
built a church on his place and hired a white preacher to preach the
gospel to them every Sunday, and compelled each slave to attend. He gave
each man the use of an acre of land, and every Saturday afternoon to
cultivate it. One acre, well cultivated, would yield a bale of cotton
which Mr. Cox would sell for them and buy whatever little things they
might want, especially such as were not furnished by him. Usually this
would be nice Sunday clothes, shoes, hats and Sunday wear for the women.
I wish to state that Mr. Cox gave a half day every Saturday to all of
his slaves, and I state this from personal knowledge, having visited the
Cox plantation many times and played with the boys and girls thereon.

There was also a large plantation south of the Greene place, but the
owner’s name I cannot recall. He owned a large number of slaves and I
was told was kind to them, but I remember that he allowed no visitors on
his place, neither did he allow any of his slaves to get outside of his
fence at any time. He had some very pretty girls about my age, and we
met and talked with the fence between us, on Sunday afternoon.

A near neighbor’s cattle used to break into the field and destroy corn
and other grain on Green’s plantation and I had to drive them out, and
in doing so threw a brick which broke the leg of one of them. The owner
of it came over very soon and wanted to whip me for doing it, and I
supposed would have done so, as he was a very large man, but Mr. Greene
came to my rescue, ordered him off the place and told him, “If you whip
the boy, I will whip you.” He left, threatening to whip me the first
time he caught me off Mr. Greene’s land. I never went on this neighbor’s
land after that.

Having hired us out for a year, our master could not rightfully claim us
until the end of the time specified in the contract, unless he would
give the time we had served from January to March free, which he agreed
to do, and once more we were in his possession. I am unable to express
the joy we felt when he informed us of his intention to take us back to
Missouri. That was a great blessing to us, and the older ones thanked
the Lord for this deliverance. He came to our quarters one Sunday
afternoon and gave us this very welcome news, and I remember that we
were so overjoyed that we could not sleep that night. He got started
about April 1, 1850. Having sold his teams when we reached Mississippi,
our owner had to hire Mr. Greene’s team to haul us to Memphis,
Tennessee, where we took steamer bound for St. Louis, and thence to
Brunswick, Missouri. The trip was a pleasant one and made in less than
ten days.

There was much rejoicing when we were landed at Brunswick, and were met
at the levee by W. B. Bruce, with a conveyance to take us out to his
plantation, were we met old acquaintances, including my brother and
sister, who also belonged to him. We were once more in the _state we
loved and intent on remaining whether our master liked it or not_, for
he had brought us where it was not so easy to take slaves about without
their consent, and besides some had become men.

I recall that one Sunday, about two years afterwards, our master sent
for the four men of us to meet him at the home of W. B Bruce. We did so
and he informed us that he had about made up his mind to take us all to
Texas. My older brothers, James and Calvin, told him they would not go
and I joined in. He got angry and ordered us to “shut up,” which we did.
He then told us to come back next Sunday, when he would tell us what to
depend on, which was done and then, after seeing how bitterly his plans
were opposed by us he informed us that he would buy land and settle in
that country, which he did within two years.

After resting a few days upon our arrival at Mr. Bruce’s from
Mississippi, we were all hired to one J. B. Barrett, a tobacconist. My
sisters were hired out as house girls and mother as cook to a man named
Treadway, a school teacher, who was a mean man, not only to her, but to
his wife as well. I don’t think he ever struck my mother, but he abused
her in every other way possible. His wife was a good woman and treated
mother humanely, but old Treadway was so mean that he would not allow
any of mother’s children to come to his kitchen to see her at any time,
and in order to see her we used to wait until he was in bed, and then
steal in. I don’t think mother stayed there longer than that year.

The next two years she was hired to J. B. Barrett, who allowed his wife
to manage the household affairs to suit herself, and as she was a very
good woman and mother a good cook they got along splendidly, and Mrs.
Barrett was well pleased with mother’s style of cooking.

J. B. Barrett hired six of us for three years, and although he was a
noisy kind of man, cursed a good deal and threatened to whip or have it
done by his overseer, one Jesse Hare, he seldom punished anyone,
especially those who were grown. I worked for him from June 1850, to
January 1, 1854, and was whipped only once and that for fighting another
fellow who had struck my younger brother, B. K. Bruce. This man, Charles
Sanders, was a grown man at that time and I was an eighteen year old
boy, yet I beat him so badly that he was disabled for work, at least two
months thereafter. Knowing so well what would follow after this fight, I
ran to the woods and made my way to my owner, about four miles distant.
But that did not save me for the overseer came after me, and after I had
made my statement my owner’s answer was, “You knew better than to fight
and you will be whipped, and I will do nothing to prevent it.” I wanted
him to pay my fine and save me. He came to town with me, and in the
presence of J. B. Barrett and himself I was whipped by old Jesse Hare,
who did not like me and took this opportunity to lay the lash on very
hard, but was promptly stopped by J. B Barrett and severely reprimanded
for his brutality.

This man Hare disliked me any way, because of an old score, for previous
to that he had attempted to flog me and I resisted, and threatened to go
to my master. But I doubt very much, even now, whether he would have
protected me in such a case, for he was so bitterly opposed to a slave’s
resisting or being saucy to a white man.

After the factory closed in the fall of 1853, I was hired out by J. B
Barrett to a poor white man, named David Hampton, and had not been with
him more than a month when one of his boys sauced me and I slapped him.
He ran to his father who called me to him, ordered me to take off my
shirt, a thing neither my master nor any other man had ordered me to do.
Of course I refused to obey and told him so in language which he
understood. He then threw a stick of cordwood at me which missed its
mark, and I picked it up and was about to throw it back, when he ran
into the house. This ended our fight. I would be ashamed of myself, even
now, had I allowed that poor white man to whip me. But the fun came
later. When supper was called, the old man and his wife had eaten and
left the table, and the children, two girls and three small boys and I
ate together. Just as I finished and was about to leave the table, the
old lady came in behind me with a hickory switch in hand. I could not
afford to resist her, neither could I get out until she had given me
several severe blows. She left her marks on me, which I carried for
several days, and I suppose she was satisfied; I know I was.

But after all, the Hamptons were very reasonable people and I was well
pleased with them, and often visited them afterward. While they were
poor people they were not the typical poor whites. Many of the parties
mentioned are living and can take me to task if I misrepresent facts;
but I have stated the truth in every particular, as I saw and
experienced it.

There was a trait of character running through my mother’s family, a
desire to learn, and every member could read very well when the war
broke out, and some could write. The older ones would teach the younger,
and while mother had no education at all, she used to make the younger
study the lessons given by the older sister or brother, and in that way
they all learned to read. Another advantage we enjoyed was this: we were
all hired to the same man and we worked and slept together in the same
factory where, by hard work, we usually made some little money every
week, which we could spend for whatever suited our fancy.

The men who hired slaves, and owners as well, had to feed and clothe
them, and the slaves had no care as to those necessaries. Slavery in
some portions of Missouri was not what it was in Virginia, or in the
extreme South, because we could buy any book wanted if we had the money
to pay for it, and masters seemed not to care about it, especially ours,
but of course there were exceptions to the rule.

But, returning to my life in the tobacco factory, I must state that
when we were hired out our owner notified the hirer that he did not whip
any of his grown slaves, and would not allow it to be done by anyone
else, and when the man who hired them found that he could not get along
without punishing he should return them to him. That was the saving
clause for us, but we did not take advantage of this to shirk or play;
as proof of this I will state that there are men now living in
Brunswick, who will bear testimony to the fact that the “Bruce hands,”
as we were called, brought the highest prices. Our master received from
two hundred and fifty to three hundred dollars a year for each man or
boy over seventeen years old, the hirer to feed and clothe us, etc.

When the factory closed in September, 1854, I was hired to Charles
Cabel, a farmer, recently from Louisiana, living about four miles from
town and who owned twenty-five or thirty slaves, and was reported to be
a very hard master. I had been used to good fare, and that prepared and
served clean and nice, but here the meals were served in such unclean
vessels, while they may have been wholesome, I could not and would not
eat them. W. B. Bruce lived only a mile away, and I went there to
supper, stayed all night, took my breakfast and dinner with me to work.

In a few days Mrs. Susan Cabel found this out and sent for me; I
explained and she said that her Negroes were so very dirty that she did
not blame me, and from that date she sent my meals from her table, which
came in nice clean dishes and in abundance. She was a good mistress as
far as I knew.

Mr. Cabel had a very large number of lazy slaves and often inflicted
punishment when, in my opinion, it might have been avoided. After I had
been at his place about ten days he sent me with another fellow named
Ike to split rails in a large body of timber north of his house. We had
been at this work but a very short time, when I discovered Ike to be a
lazy man. I had never been thrashed on account of laziness and did not
want to chance it at that time, knowing the reputation of Mr. Cabel as a
hard master. I had never split rails before and was put under Ike for
training, and of course had to do as he directed. He was a great
storyteller and would often stop to tell a story. I urged him to work
but could not keep him at it over ten minutes at a time.

One day when we had cut off a log and I had commenced to split it, while
Ike was sitting in the shade, I called on him to come and help me turn
the log over, which he failed to do, and I went on working it alone. Mr.
Cabel who had been watching near by and had heard all that was said came
up, as if by magic, gun in hand, which he set by a stump, took out his
knife, cut a hickory switch and ordered Ike to take off his shirt. Ike
begged in vain, but he gave him thirty or more lashes on the bare back.
During this exciting time I was scared almost to death, thinking my time
would come next. I was tempted to break and run to my master, but
knowing I had done my duty I concluded not to do so until I was called
to take my share of this thrashing. I had determined to run if called
and take chances on being shot, for I could not and would not stand such
punishment as was given Ike. When he had finished whipping Ike he said,
“Henry will work if you will let him; I have been listening to you for
an hour.” I can never express the relief those words gave me, for I did
not want to be forced to resist and would not submit to any kind of
corporal punishment, and was glad that I did not run while Ike was being
punished. I served out my term with Mr. Cabel, which ended December 25,
1854, without even being scolded. Ike and I were separated after the
above-mentioned incident, fully half a mile, and I was given a task
which I performed easily every day. I shall speak of Mr. Cabel again
later on.

On January 1, 1855, with three younger brothers, I was hired to Mr.
Beasley, who owned a large tobacco factory and worked about eighty
hands, mostly hired. I did not want to go there and told my master so in
the presence of Mr. Beasley, who asked the reasons why. I told him that
I had heard that he was a hard man to please. My master remained silent
during this conversation and finally Beasley and I came to terms, he
assuring me that if we worked for him as he had been informed we did for
Mr. Barrett, we would have no trouble. After it was arranged my master
took me aside and severely scolded me for speaking so harshly to Mr.
Beasley. I took it easy for I never sauced him at any time. But that was
my opportunity to make easy sailing that year with Beasley.

The overseer at this factory was named Tom Black, who was really a much
better man than old Jesse Hare, and if one would do his work faithfully
he would have no trouble with Mr. Black. He and I became fast friends
and I had an easy time, but I always did my work well. Beasley gave an
order that four men were to come to his residence after the factory
closed, at sunset each day to cut or saw wood. When my time came I
refused to go. He was informed of the fact and said he was going to
have Tom Black whip me the next day, which was Saturday; in fact he told
him in my presence to do it on Monday morning. But previous to this he
called me up to know why I disobeyed his order. I told him that I was
not hired for that purpose. Oh, but how he did cut up, yet he did not
attempt to strike me.

Before going home to my master, which I certainly should have done, I
thought it best to use a little strategy. During Sunday I had a talk
with Mr. Black in which I told him my plans. He advised me not to go,
and said that unless ordered again he would not attempt to whip me, and
even then he would give me plenty of chance to run; but he said he would
go and see Mr. Beasley that day. Now what passed between them I am
unable to state, but when Mr. Black returned he said it was all right,
and it was, for I was never molested after that, and Mr. Beasley revoked
the order and had two men detailed to saw wood about four o’clock every
evening. I had no more trouble that year with Beasley or his overseer.

I enjoyed life in the factories very much. We had good wholesome food
and plenty of it, and when the factory closed at sunset we were free to
go where we pleased until sunrise next day. I remember that the M. E.
Church, South, allowed the colored people to meet in the basement of
their church, and their minister preached to them every Sunday,
commencing at three o’clock, P.M., and his text was not always from Luke
xii. 47, or Titus ii. 9, but I have no recollection of hearing one
preached from Ephesians vi. 9, where the duties of master to servant are
explained. Some of the ministers were good men and preached reasonable
sermons giving good advice, spiritually and morally, and were beloved
by their colored congregations. I remember one whose name was W. G.
Cooper, who was so well admired by his colored flock that they raised
forty-five dollars and presented him a suit of clothes, when he went to
conference, and sent a petition to have him returned to that charge.

Nearly every slave made some money which he could spend for fine clothes
or such other things suited to his taste, so that when attending church
I remember that the slaves were dressed almost as nicely as their
owners, at any rate they looked as well as I have seen them on like
occasions since they have been free.

We had some colored preachers, too, who held prayer meetings in their
quarters and preached every Sunday afternoon in the white people’s
church, but there was always some leading white man present to take note
of what the preacher said. If he used words deemed insubordinate or not
in keeping with the pro-slavery idea, he was promptly stopped, there and
then, and lectured for his mistake, and in some cases his license was
recalled. Of course these licences were granted by his master to preach
during good behavior. Not three in ten of these preachers could read
their texts or any other part of the Bible, but they stood in the
pulpit, opened the Bible, gave out the song which did not always fit the
tune, and delivered prayer with much force and in language that, while
not the choicest, greatly impressed its hearers.

There were a few colored men who could read the Bible, in and around
Brunswick at that time, but none of them were preachers. The men who
felt themselves called to preach had no education at all, but had a
fair amount of brain, good memories, were fluent talkers, and
considered pious and truthful. They could line a hymn from memory as
clearly as their masters could from their books, and take a text and
state where it was to be found.

I remember a story told on Uncle Tom Ewing, an old colored preacher, who
was praying on one occasion, after the close of his sermon, in the
church near Jacob Vennable’s place, five miles from Brunswick. The old
fellow got warmed up, and used the words, “Free indeed, free from death,
free from hell, free from work, free from the white folks, free from
everything.” After the meeting closed, Jacob Vennable, who sat in front
of the pulpit took Tom to task and threatened to have his license
revoked if he ever used such language in public. Jacob Vennable was a
slave holder and considered a fair master, so I was informed by Jesse,
one of his slaves, and others who were supposed to know. I heard Uncle
Tom preach and pray many times after the above-described occurrence, but
never heard him use the words quoted above.

I remember when a question as to the purity of Christians (whether two
clean sheets could soil each other) was being agitated among the colored
people in the Bluff, as the hilly portion of the country, fives miles
east of Brunswick, was then called. It was argued pro and con with
considerable warmth on both sides by the preachers and lay members.
Considerable excitement was created thereby, and pending this the white
men called a meeting and ordered some of the leading advocates of this
new doctrine to appear before them, and they were then and there
notified that if they did not stop that kind of talk, they, the white
people, would whip every man who favored the clean sheet idea. That
ended the new idea and I heard no more of it. I was then living on a
farm in that neighborhood and know whereof I speak.

There is this to be said for the slave-holders in that part of the
country, at least, that they believed in having their slave women live a
virtuous life, and encouraged them in getting married, and did not under
any circumstances allow plural marriages among them. Of course there
would be occasionally a strange freak, a black mother with a very
light-colored child, whose real father’s name was never stated, but
these cases were rare, the exception rather than the rule. When two
lovers became engaged, the consent of the girl’s parents, and that of
both masters, if they belonged to different owners, had to be obtained.
Then the girl’s master would give them a wedding supper, and invite a
few of his white friends, who would dine first, then the bridal party
and their invited guests. The ceremony was usually performed by a
colored preacher. After supper dancing commenced, which lasted until a
late hour, when they would disperse. The master had built and furnished
a cabin for the couple, and when the time came to retire, they were
conducted to their cabin and left, after receiving many blessings.

I have stated in this chapter, that there were many masters who
encouraged slave girls in their efforts to live virtuous lives, and in a
former chapter, I stated that there were thousands of high-toned
families, although held in slavery by the laws of the land, and who
clearly understood their helpless condition, and yet, by reason of
having superior blood in their veins, were enabled thereby to attain the
very best conditions possible under the circumstances. These people
were very sensitive as to their moral character and standing, and
abhorred disgrace and dishonor. To prove this I will cite a case which
occurred, and one of which I have personal knowledge.

There lived a slave owner named V. Harper about nine miles from
Brunswick, Missouri, who owned quite a number of slaves. Among them was
an old man, his wife, and several grown children, one of whom was a very
good-looking girl, about nineteen years old. This family were considered
high-toned and greatly respected by others, even their owners, for their
moral worth and character, and held themselves quite above the common

The girl above mentioned was considered to be of clean character and
quite a belle. It is not known who led her from the paths of rectitude,
but when she became aware of the fact, that at no distant day, she, a
single girl, would become a mother, and realized the dishonor and loss
of character which would follow the exposure, she decided that death was
preferable in her case to disgrace, walked two miles to reach the
Missouri River, plunged herself into it, and was drowned. This occurred
about the year 1858.


From 1857 to 1862 times had become rather hard on slaves in Chariton
County, Missouri, and were very little better for the free Negroes, for
while they were called free, they really had but few more privileges
than the slave. They had to choose guardians to transact all their
business, even to writing them a pass to go from one township to another
in the same county. They could not own real estate in their own right,
except through their guardian, neither could they sell their crop
without his written consent. Of course, he made a charge for everything
he did for them, which was quite a drain upon their resources. There
were two or three families of free Negroes in that county, and some of
them I often visited. In some cases slave owners did not allow their
slaves to associate or in any way communicate with free Negroes, but our
owner did not prohibit us in this respect, neither did W. B. Bruce.

Previous to 1840, an old man named Brown, and his wife, together with
their slaves, came to Chariton County from the South. They had acquired
seven hundred acres of land in that neighborhood, which were located
about ten miles from Brunswick. They decided to set their slaves free
and leave to them, by will, all their earthly possessions. In order to
fit these freed people for the battle of life, they determined to
educate them, and for this purpose started a school on the plantation,
with themselves as teachers. All who were old enough were compelled to
attend. I am unable to state exactly the date when this commenced, but
remember that those old enough to attend it could read and write fairly
well when I became acquainted with them in 1850. Unfortunately these
people did not succeed well; they became poorer each year after the
death of their master.

There were found many causes for this state of affairs. The property was
left to them as a whole, and was only to be subdivided under certain
conditions named in the will. All were not industrious, and the thrifty
had to support the lazy. The agent claimed the right to sell the crop
each year and divide the earnings equally among the several families.

By order of the Court the plantation was sold in 1855, and the proceeds
divided equally among them, after which the families soon scattered,
some going to Iowa, and others to Illinois. I have not heard from any of
them since. The general opinion was that their guardian, P. T. Abel, got
the cream of that estate, because when he arranged the sale of the
plantation to Captain Withers, he retained five hundred dollars of the
three thousand for his own professional service.

As already stated, there were three families of freed Colored people in
that county, and they could only visit one another occasionally, because
they lived about ten or fifteen miles apart; to do so they had to secure
a written permit from their guardian, for if one of them was caught on
the public road without a pass, he was subject to arrest by any white
man who chose to make it. Respecting these families of free Colored
people, I wish to state that there was one exception, Davy Moore, or
“Free Davy,” as he was called, who lived about five miles from
Keytesville, the county seat of Chariton county. He was a man of good
character, industrious habits, and greatly respected by the better class
of white people. On account of faithful and efficient service, his old
master, Colonel Moore, gave him his freedom, also that of his wife and
children, and eighty acres of land. He was treated like a man; held the
respect not only of the Colored, but the white people as well, and
enjoyed the same privileges as any other man, excepting the right to
vote. In his veins flowed superior blood, and as has already been stated
in a former chapter, that blood will tell, regardless of the color of
the individual in whose veins it flows.

Singularly enough I had more real pleasure and real freedom than these
free people, for with my master’s horse and a pass from him I could ride
over the county, in fact did whenever occasion demanded it, and without
molestation. If disturbed I had only to show my pass, when I would be
immediately released.

Two older brothers of mine, who were bricklayers and stone masons, hired
their time from their owner and travelled, not only in the county where
we lived, but also in the adjoining counties of Carroll, Howard and
Randolph, in search of work, armed with a pass good only in Chariton
County. They had no trouble even outside of that county, because they
were known as slaves. They made their own contracts, collected their
pay, and were not disturbed.

I recall but one instance where either of them had any trouble. One of
them had secured a job in Randolph County by underbidding a white man.
Upon finding he belonged to a man living in another county, this white
man had him arrested. He was carried to Huntsville, the county seat,
for trial. Fortunately there was a man there named Cass Wisdom, who knew
our family, and who had him promptly released and became responsible for
my brother’s behavior while in that county. So that the only difference
between the slave and the free Negro, as I saw it, was that the latter
had no boss to make him work, or punish him if he did not; he could ride
over the county every day if only provided with a pass from his
guardian; he could spend his earnings as he pleased after paying his
guardian’s share. They certainly did not have as much fun as I had,
going to balls and parties given by slaves, where they were not allowed
to come. But still the free fellows felt themselves better than the
slave, because of the fact, I suppose, that they were called free, while
in reality they were no more free than the slave, until the war set both
classes free. So bitter was the feeling existing in Kansas in March,
1864, that those who became free by the war were called, in derision, by
the freeborns, “contrabands.”

An effort was made in Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1865 or 1866, to organize
a combination or social circle, which allowed no contraband to be in it.
The object of this organization, as I understood it, was to control
everything in which Colored people had a voice, and it was to some
extent successful, or at least for a while. During those years a steady
stream of contrabands poured into Kansas, and soon constituted about
ninety per cent. of the colored population. In a few years many had
acquired little homes and standing, and had learned not only the object
of the free class, but their own strength, and it was not long before
they had relegated many of these would-be leaders to the rear. Of
course this brought about a conflicting and unfortunate state of
affairs. The freeborns managed to keep control of politics and
especially the church and other societies; they not only found, but
created places for one another. For a long time after the war, a
contraband preacher, however competent he might be, could not get a
charge that would give him a decent support. All the fat places in the
connection were given to the other class. If a contraband was sent to a
small charge, and worked it up so as to get a fair living out of it, and
so reported to the conference, by some means he was replaced by one of
the other set, and sent further out.

I remember a worthy man named Jesse Mills, now dead, who was a man of
clean character, and had some education, or at any rate could read and
write; he had been preaching before the war, and was a slave. For nearly
ten years that man did not get a decent charge, and if he brought one up
to the point where it supported him, he had to go in order to give place
to some fellow preacher from the North, out of a job.

There were others served equally as badly as Jesse Mills, whose names I
have not the space to mention, save one, who I feel should not be
overlooked. Rev. Moses White had been a preacher for several years prior
to the war, could read and write, in fact preached quite an intelligent
sermon, but not such an one as would suit the conference; he therefore
could not get a charge. He had been one of the men who organized and
built the Colored A. M. E. Church at Leavenworth, prior to 1864; but he
could not be or was not assigned to any charge in that conference, and
about 1867 or 1868, knowing or feeling that he had been called to
preach the gospel, he left the conference and organized a church on his
own responsibility.

I write of these matters as I knew them, not being a member of any
church at that time. In after years young men got in, such as W. A.
Moore, an ex-slave, a man of clean character and of fine education, and
greatly beloved by all who knew him; J. W. Wilson, who had been a slave
and a brave soldier, and others of their class, self-educated men. They
soon superseded those old fogies or leeches, if the term is admissible.
So clearly and successfully has this been accomplished by the admission
of young men, sons of ex-slaves, that to-day the term “contraband,” or
“freeborn,” has been forgotten. But I have drifted away from my subject,
“slavery, as I saw it on a plantation in Missouri,” and with the
permission of the reader, will return, taking up the line of
recollections where I left off.


Early in the Spring of 1856, our master had bought the Mann Plantation,
located about seven miles east of Brunswick, and had made all
arrangements to move to it, taking mother and four of her children,
including myself. I did not want to go, but my desires in that respect
were not considered, and I went without entering even a mild protest.
Having lived in the city so long, I had lost all love for farm life. I
had no knowledge of farming, especially that kind carried on in that
part of the state, and personal experience taught me that my master
possessed but little more than I did, because he ordered so many things
done that were a loss of time and money. In his experimenting, for such
it was, he would give an order one day, and change it the next, causing
the loss of many days of labor. But it was my duty to obey him, right or
wrong, and I did it right along.

After I had gained some practical knowledge, by experience, of the
system of farming in that county, I ventured to suggest to him when I
saw a better plan, or the uselessness of the order given. Of course he
would not take the course I had suggested at the time, and in its
entirety, but after thinking it over, he would change his orders as
nearly to my plans as possible, without adopting them. But, oh, how I
would catch it if he found flaws in them afterwards.

He worked the first year on that plantation almost as steadily as any of
us, but that was his last year of work while he was my owner. He was a
man who never talked much to his slaves at any time, as I have worked
with him without a word being said, aside from my duty, between us many
days, and I rather preferred it, because if he said anything, it would
usually be scolding. I have a very clear recollection of the amount of
scolding I got the first Spring on that farm, when laying off corn and
tobacco rows. It was my first effort, and in nearly every row there
would be one or more crooks, for which he would scold, then take my
horse and plow, straighten the row, and give them back; pretty soon I
would have it as crooked as before. The result of all this was that I
soon learned to lay off a row nearly as straight as he could, and I will
state that he could and did lay off the straightest row I had ever seen.
He insisted that corn grew better in straight rows than in crooked ones,
and I became convinced of the truth of his statements and took pride in
having every row as straight as if laid off by line, and have been
complimented on account of it.

At this plantation we had some neighbors whom I did not like, men who
came from Kentucky and other southern states, and who tried to keep up
the customs in vogue in those states of curtailing the liberties of
their slaves, liberties which slaves in other parts of Missouri enjoyed;
but even then the life of a slave in that part of Missouri was far
better than in some of the older slave states.

Being a green hand at farming, I made many mistakes, which caused the
boss to scold, but as that was all the punishment he inflicted, I soon
became used to that, and went ahead doing the best I could. My boss
really delighted in scolding; he could quarrel, make more noise, and do
less whipping than any man in that county. He was not mean, in the sense
that some of his neighbors were, and I have always believed that he
tried to appear to his neighbors what he was not, a hard master. The
reason why I entertained this belief is that in the presence of a
neighbor he always scolded more, acted more crabbed, and was harder to
please than when alone with us, for as soon as the neighbor left, we
could get along with him very well. We were well fed, had such
vegetables as were raised on the farm, and save biscuit and coffee, we
had such food as was prepared for him.

Farming in Missouri consisted in raising tobacco, corn, wheat and stock,
but tobacco was the principal product for sale. With five hands we
usually raised about twenty thousand pounds, which at that time sold in
Brunswick for about eight cents per pound. Each man was allowed one acre
of ground to raise his own little crop, which, if well cultivated, would
produce about nine hundred pounds of tobacco. We used his horse and
plow, and worked our crop as well as we did his in the daytime, and when
ready for market, he sold our crop with his, giving each one his share.
This was our money, to be spent for whatever we wanted aside from that
given by him. He gave two suits of summer and one of winter clothes,
hats and boots, blankets and underwear. Our cash was spent for Sunday
clothes, sugar, coffee and flour, for we would have biscuits at least
once a week, and coffee every day.

The practice of allowing slaves ground to raise a little crop obtained
generally among slave owners, but most of them had to work their crop of
tobacco after sundown, and without plowing. The master got the benefit
of this money after all, because the slave spent it for his own pleasure
and comfort, which was a direct advantage to his master.

There were several slave owners around us at this farm, some were called
mean and some considered fair, but the meanest man near us was a Yankee
teacher, preacher and farmer, S. J. M. Bebee, who owned or hired four or
five slaves, and treated them very meanly. This man came to that county
from the East, and by teaching and preaching saved up money enough to
buy a farm, and was considered by the Colored people meaner than the
original slave-holders. I lived on a farm within two miles of Mr.
Bebee’s farm, and had good opportunities to know the truth of what I

There lived near our home an old gentleman named Ashby, usually called
“Father Ashby,” who was a good man, much beloved by white and black, and
who dropped dead in the pulpit at the close of one of his sermons.
Previous to his death I used to visit his place, and sometimes we
exchanged work. He owned three or four slaves and treated them kindly.
Pending the campaign of 1856, when Fremont was the Republican nominee
for President, I had a talk with “Father Ashby.” He then said that he
believed slavery to be wrong, but it was handed down to him from his
father, and although he held and owned slaves, he had never bought or
sold one, and had always treated them well.

I had learned to read, and could understand enough of the political
situation at that date to be a “Fremont man,” but a very silent one. I
am safe in saying that Fremont did not receive one vote in Chariton
County at that election. Certainly there was not an outspoken
Republican in the county. Slave holders never talked politics in the
presence of slaves, but by some means they learned the news, kept posted
as to what was going on, and expected to be set free if Fremont was
elected. A Colored man who could read was a very important fellow, for
they would come miles and bring stolen papers for him to read to them at
night or on Sunday, and I have known them to go to town and buy them
from Dr. Blue, an old slave-holder, and bring them to some slave who
could read.

Our owner did not like the farm he owned, and early in 1857 sold it, and
bought uncultivated land adjoining his brother-in-law, W. B. Bruce. Here
I had to open a place in the brush for a home, and for our own quarters,
assist in putting up buildings, make the rails necessary to fence eighty
acres of land, break it up and put in a crop, all of which was
accomplished in one year. I had got used then to farm life, and rather
enjoyed it.

This farm was only one-half a mile from W. B. Bruce’s, and the families
were now practically together. Our master and his son, Willie, spent a
great deal of their time at Bruce’s, and so did the Colored families.

I was then a full fledged foreman with four younger brothers, who
constituted my force, but as a matter of fact, I got more scolding than
any one of them, for the reason that I was held responsible for
everything, as our owner seldom went over any part of the farm, and left
me to manage it entirely, reporting to him every morning. I really had
full control of the place, but he did not want me to think so, and acted
rather queer quite often. He had a habit of calling me to his door
every morning after breakfast, to report what was done the previous day,
and what I thought should be done that day. I would state my opinion,
and he would be certain to make light of it, get angry, tell me I had no
sense, etc., make some suggestions, then cool down and tell me to go
ahead and do just the work I had suggested. He, I believe, enjoyed that
kind of acting, and I had got used to it and took it quietly, for that
was the extent of my punishment.

We had but one neighbor who was called a hard master, Charles Cabel, for
whom I had previously worked. Cabel had rather a lazy set of slaves,
with one exception, a young man named Samuel Savage, and this, I
suppose, made him appear meaner than he really was. His farm joined
ours, and therefore I could hear and see much that was done. I am not an
apologist for Mr. Cabel simply because he treated me nicely, not only
when I was hired to him, but often afterwards on our farm. He saw what
fine crops we raised every year, more and better tobacco, which sold for
more money than his, while we worked but five hands, and he had ten or

There was no whipping on our place at any time, while on his some one
was whipped nearly every week. Mr. Cabel used to come over on our land
and talk with me quite often, and insisted that his Negroes made him
appear mean, that if he had such Negroes as we were, he would never hit
one. He said this to me many times; yet his slaves called him the
meanest man in the county. I am safe in stating, that I had more talk
with Mr. Cabel during the five or six years we lived as neighbors, than
with any slave owner during my service as a slave. Often he would come
where I was at work and entertain me for an hour; he evidently enjoyed
my company, and I confess a liking for him.

I recall an instance where he whipped four of his men within calling or
hearing distance of me. I went to the timber to make some rails. Our
timber land, which was four miles away, joined Mr. Cabel’s, and he sent
four of his men to make rails, and we all went on Monday. With the aid
of a brother about sixteen years old, I had cut and split four hundred
rails by two o’clock, or thereabouts, on Wednesday, not quite three
days. Mr. Cabel came to me and asked when I commenced, and on being
told, proceeded to count my rails, and when through, went over to where
his men were. I don’t think he found them at work; at any rate, in a
short time, I heard the lash and the men begging for mercy. Pretty soon
he came back to me, and said his men had made only two hundred and sixty
rails, and then asked if I blamed him for punishing them. What could I
say under the circumstances, knowing that there were four of them as
against two of us, and one a mere boy?

My opinion is that Mr. Cabel as well as his slaves were to be blamed for
the condition that existed on that farm, based upon the following
reasons: The master who treated his slaves humanely had less trouble
with them, got better service from them, and could depend upon their
doing his work faithfully, even in his absence, having his interest in
view always. Maltreated slaves and ill-treated beasts of burden are much
alike; if trained to be punished, whether deservedly or not, they take
no interest in their service, and go no further than the lash forces
them, because they receive no encouragement even when they perform their
duty well.

I recall a case in point, and as the parties mentioned are living I call
upon them to set me right if I misrepresent the facts in the case. My
master bought three yoke of oxen to break up this new land heretofore
mentioned, much of which was covered with hazel brush about four feet
high, and to haul rails and firewood from the timber land four miles
away. I had the sole management of this team, in fact had to break them
in. I took pride in that team, trained my oxen to obey without the use
of the whip, fed and watered them well under all circumstances, and they
looked sleek, fat and cheerful, if I may use the term for an ox. I was
the master in this case and almost loved my oxen, and believe they loved
me. When I said “Go,” they went, regardless of the load, and the
question was whether the wagon would bear it up.

W. B. Bruce, before mentioned, owned three yoke of oxen and a driver
named Bob or Robert Bruce, who had no love or mercy for his team, took
no pride or interest in his oxen, not even enough to feed and water them
regularly. He used a rawhide whip, and I have seen him break their hides
and bring out the blood when using the lash. I have said he did not feed
them well, and the reasons why I say it are these: His master, W. B.
Bruce, always raised plenty of corn and other kinds of stock feed and
allowed his dumb creatures enough, and there existed no sufficient
reasons why Bob’s team should not look as fat and as sleek, and draw as
heavy a load as mine; but they did not, and the reasons are very plain.
I cared for mine, and by so doing won their confidence and love and
obedience, without the use of the lash, while Bob used the lash in the
place of kind treatment and kind words.

In 1857, the county had become pretty thickly settled with pro-slavery
men from the South, mostly from Virginia and Kentucky, with a few
Eastern men and Germans. Of course the men from the East, as soon as
they landed, proclaimed themselves in favor of slavery and often hired
slaves, and in such cases treated them meaner than the slave owner.
They, it seemed, regarded the slave as a machine which required no rest,
and they gave him none; they would drive the slave in all kinds of
weather without mercy, so much so that slaves who belonged to estates or
others who were for hire, would beg to be hired to some southern man,
who had a knowledge of slave labor and the slave.

The Germans were quite different; they never hired slaves, and I can
recall the name of only one who owned a slave. His name was Goss and he
lived about six miles North of our place. He treated his slaves as he
did his children; he owned four or five.

There was a lot of poor white trash scattered over that county, as there
was in other southern states, and they answered the same purpose, as
servants to their masters. But few of them could get a job as overseer,
for the reason that there were but few large slave owners in that
county; I mean that there were not a dozen men in the county owning over
forty, and most of them owned less; they did their own over-seeing. But
I must say that the poor whites, as a general thing, in that county at
least, worked hard for a living, and I can mention several who, by dint
of hard labor and economy, attained to a fair standing in their

After the landing at Brunswick, of the first installment of Germans, and
as they obtained homes and money they sent for relatives and friends in
Germany, so that there was a steady stream of German immigrants to that
county each year up to 1864. But from 1853 to 1864, they had to submit
to many indignities from ultra pro-slavery men. I have seen them kicked
off the principal street without resistance by Col. Pugh Price, a
brother, I think, of Gen. Sterling Price. But still they came, and soon
some of them had opened business places such as cooper and shoe shops,
cake and candy stands, and finally a brewery. It was wonderful to see
how rapidly the people learned to drink lager beer made by a German,
John Stroebe.

There was a large tract of land five or six miles below Brunswick,
called Bowling Green, which lay quite low and was sometimes overflowed
by the Missouri River. It was considered unhealthy in that locality and
on that account the land sold cheap. The Germans bought the greater part
of it and formed quite a settlement. This land was known as the richest
in the county and retains that reputation to-day, and is thickly settled
and about as healthful as any other part of the county, is more valuable
and is still owned by Germans whom we considered quite prosperous

There was a feeling created against these people about 1859 and 1860,
caused by some suspicious pro-slavery men charging them with talking to
slaves, and I cannot say they were not guilty. They were opposed to
slavery and when they had an opportunity to tell a slave so, without his
master’s knowledge, they often did it, especially if they had confidence
in the slave. Slaves never betrayed a friend; they would stand severe
punishment rather than give away a white friend who favored freedom for

There was a white man, Dan Kellogg by name, in Brunswick, who was a
peculiar fellow and one I could never understand, and who I think was a
northerner. For two or three years before the war he was known as a
friend of freedom, among the slaves at least. He had told some of them
so, and my impression is that as early as 1856, he told me that he was
opposed to the institution of slavery, but of course this was _sub
rosa_; but when the war broke out he had changed his mind and was
classed with bushwhackers in that county, too much of a coward to join
the Confederate Army and stand up in the open field to shoot and be shot
at; but he hid in dense forests and shot at Union citizens and soldiers
as they passed. I have been told that he was captured by one Captain
Truman, commanding a squad of the Fourth Missouri Volunteer Infantry,
and ordered to be hanged by the neck until dead, but was begged off by
friends. I have not heard from Mr. Kellogg for many years and do not
know whether he is dead or alive, but if he is alive and should read
this statement he will, I think admit its truthfulness, May 20, 1893.

Since the above was written I have been reliably informed that Mr.
Kellogg’s death occurred about two years ago, and that he removed to
Keytesville, the county seat of Chariton County, Mo., where he lived
since the war, and had accumulated quite a little fortune and was up to
the date of his death a staunch friend to the colored people, who
greatly lamented his taking off.

He held the position of county treasurer for one or more terms, and
regardless of politics, received almost the unanimous colored vote, he
being a democrat.


The national election of 1860, created more excitement probably than any
that had preceded it, not excepting the “Hard Cider Campaign” of 1840,
because greater questions and issues had to be met and settled. The
North was opposed to the extension, of slavery, in fact there was a
strong sentiment against its existence, while the South wanted more
territory for its extension; then there was a spirit of disunion
existing North and South. The abolitionists of the North had declared
the National Constitution to be a league with hell, while the extreme
southern men such as Bob Toombs of Georgia, wanted to extend slavery to
every State in the Union, and he declared in a speech delivered early in
1861, that he wanted to call the roll of his slaves on Bunker Hill, and
would do so if the South was successful.

The campaign opened early in July that year, and kept red hot until the
ballots were in the box. There was speaking once or twice a week at
Brunswick, and several barbacues in different parts of the county. I
remember attending one held five miles north of town, which appeared to
be a joint affair, because there were speeches made in the interest of
all the tickets except the Republican. My young master made his maiden
effort for Bell and Everett, as I now remember.

The political excitement began in Missouri, especially in Chariton
County, when the National Democratic Convention met at Charleston, S.
C., April 23, 1860, and after spending ten days wrangling over the
adoption of the platform, adjourned to meet at Baltimore, Md., June 18,
1860, without making a nomination for President. I might state that the
main fight was upon the second section of the majority report of the
Committee on Resolutions. The report reads as follows: Second,
“Resolved, That it is the Duty of the Federal Government, in all its
departments, to protect when necessary the rights of persons and
property in the territories, and wherever else its constitutional
authority extends.” The minority report which was substituted for the
majority by a vote of 165 to 138, reads as follows: “Inasmuch as
difference of opinion exists in the Democratic party, as to the nature
and extent of the powers of a territorial legislature, and as to the
powers and duties of Congress, under the Constitution of the United
States, over the institution of slavery within the Territories,” Second,
“Resolved, that the Democratic party will abide by the questions of
constitutional law.” After that vote many of the southern delegates
withdrew from the Convention. Missouri stood solid in the Douglas
column, refusing to secede with the other southern States, and cast her
vote the following November for him for President and Johnson for Vice

If we stop to consider a moment, the fact that the Democratic party had
the Supreme Court by a large majority at that time, we must arrive at
the conclusion, that there existed no valid cause for the split in its
national convention, thus dividing its strength and making it possible
for the Republicans to elect their candidate; for it is generally
believed that if there had been no split, Stephen A. Douglas would have
been elected President and served his party as a good Democrat, for he
owned a large plantation in the South, and the interest of the South
would have been his as well. But it has always seemed to me that there
was a higher power shaping matters and things at that time, which was
irresistible. Hatred existed among Democrats North and South to such an
extent, that southern Democrats denounced their northern brothers as
“doughfaces” and cowards, which had the effect of driving many of them
to vote the Republican ticket at the ensuing presidential election.

The extreme southern delegates who seceded from the National Convention,
met and nominated John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, for President, and
Joseph Lane of Oregon, for Vice-President. From the day the campaign
opened in the State of Missouri, especially in Chariton County, the two
factions of the Democratic party were very bitter towards each other,
and this condition of things existed up to and including the day of
election, but when it was known later on that Lincoln was elected, all
differences were healed and the factions came together, declaring for
secession. They were joined by a large portion of the old line Whigs,
who had voted for Bell and Everett at the last election; but there were
a few who remained loyal to the Union. It is a wonder to me, even now,
that they did so, when I recall the bulldozing, the taunts, jeers and
epithets hurled against them. They were intensely hated and abused, more
than the loyal Germans and northern men who had settled in that county,
but they stood it out through trials and tribulations, remaining loyal
to the close of the war.

There was another class of men who suffered severely during the war,
known as “Neutrals,” assisting neither side, but who were accused of
aiding both and therefore hated by both.

During the years of 1860 and 1861, the slaves had to keep very mum and
always on their masters’ land, because patrols were put out in every
township with authority to punish slaves with the lash, if found off
their masters’ premises after dark without a written pass from them.
Patrol duty was always performed by the poor whites, who took great
pride in the whipping of a slave, just as they do now in lynching a
Negro. They whipped some slaves so unmercifully that their masters’
attention was called to it, so that they met and issued an order to
patrols, that in punishing a slave captured no skin should be broken nor
blood brought out by the lash. There being no positive law of
patrolling, it having existed as a custom to please a few mean slave
holders, many men whose names I can give, would not submit to it, and
threatened to punish any man or set of men interfering in any way with
their slaves, although found off their lands. Of course the patrols
carefully avoided such men’s slaves wherever seen.

I have heard of many jokes played on these patrols by slaves, tending to
show how easy it was to fool them, because they were as a rule
illiterate, and of course could not read writing. The slaves knowing
this would take a portion of a letter picked up and palm it off on them
as a pass when arrested. The captain would take it, look it over wisely,
then hand it telling the slave to go. Others would secure a pass from
their master, get some one who could read writing to erase the day and
month, then use it indefinitely, while others would get their young
master or mistress to write them a pass whenever they wanted to go out,
signing their father’s name.

In order that the reader may clearly understand why slaves had to resort
to so many tricks to get a pass, I will state that masters objected to
giving passes often, upon the ground that they wanted the slave to stay
at home and take his rest which he could not get if out often after

In the fall of 1859 there was a dance given at Col. Ewing’s farm, to
which several young men and girls were invited and attended; most of
them had passes except four girls, who had failed to secure them. The
patrols came about twelve o’clock that night and surrounded the house,
allowing those having passes to go free, and were preparing to whip the
four girls who had none, right there in the presence of their beaux, who
were powerless to protect them, when a young fellow, whose name was
Lindsay Watts, came up and said, “Lor, massas, it am a great pity to
whip dese sweet angels, ’deed ’tis; if you will let dem go, I will take
the whippin’ for dem all.” His proposition was accepted, and the girls
turned loose made rapid steps to their homes. The patrols took Lindsay
outside of the yard, and stripped him naked, preparatory to giving him
four times nine and thirty lashes, but being naked and hard to hold or
grab, he escaped and ran home to his master in that condition, followed
closely by the patrols. But his master protected him. The girls who
barely escaped a lashing reached home safely and thankfully.

I remember another ball given at Day’s Mill, near Brunswick, early in
1861, which I attended, and left about eleven o’clock that night. Later,
a man named Price, without law or authority, as he lived in the city
and was not an officer thereof, gathered a squad of roughs and went to
the Mill and surrounded the ballroom. They ordered all who had passes to
come forward, and they were allowed to go free. There were five men and
one girl without a pass left in the room. The white men stood in the
doorway, intending to whip each Negro and pass him out. They had given
the order for each one to take off his shirt. There was a fellow whose
name, for prudential reasons, I will call John Smith, who got a shovel
and threw fire coals, one shovelful after another, at the patrols. The
lights had been extinguished; some of them got burnt in the face and
neck badly, while others got clothing burnt. This cleared the way, and
the Negroes, even the woman, escaped. They never found the man who threw
the fire. I remember that they offered a reward to other slaves to
betray the one who threw it.

About the winter of 1858, the Colored people gave a dance, to which many
of the young people were invited and attended, and were enjoying
themselves to their hearts’ content, when, about twelve o’clock, a squad
of patrols appeared and surrounded the ballroom. Those having passes
were not disturbed, but those without were arrested and taken put for
punishment, which numbered five, and of these only two were whipped; the
other three resisted, and in the scuffle got loose and ran.

There was at that time a poor white man at the head of the city patrols,
named Brawner, whose jurisdiction covered the city limits only, and he
had no legal rights as patrol outside of it. But the desire of this poor
white man to whip a slave was so great, that he left his post of duty,
gathered secretly a squad of men of his ilk, went two miles into the
country, and that, too, without the knowledge or consent of the city
officers, for they knew nothing of it until next day. Now comes the
worst part of it; when they had finished their hellishness, they
returned to the city to find it on fire in several places, and as a
result, several frame buildings in different portions of the city were
destroyed by fire. Many efforts were made to detect the incendiary, but
in vain, and the blame for the fire fell upon the Chief of Patrolmen,
Brawner, who was, I think, promptly dismissed. I write of this matter
without the fear of contradiction, because I am sure that there are men
now living, white and black, who will corroborate my statement.

Slaves were much truer to one another in those days than they have been
since made free, and I am unable to assign any reason for it, yet it is
a fact, nevertheless, and as further proof of it, I will state, that
they would listen carefully to what they heard their owners say while
talking to each other on political matters, or about the fault of
another slave, and as soon as opportunity would admit, go to the
quarters and warn the slave of his danger, and tell what they had heard
the master say about the politics of the country.

The Colored people could meet and talk over what they had heard about
the latest battle, and what Mr. Lincoln had said, and the chances of
their freedom, for they understood the war to be for their freedom
solely, and prayed earnestly and often for the success of the Union
cause. When the news came that a battle was fought and won by Union
troops, they rejoiced, and were correspondingly depressed when they saw
their masters rejoicing, for they knew the cause thereof. As I have
stated before, slaves who could read and could buy newspapers, thereby
obtained the latest news and kept their friends posted, and from mouth
to ear the news was carried from farm to farm, without the knowledge of
masters. There were no Judases among them during those exciting times.

After the war had commenced, about the spring of 1862, and troops of
both sides were often passing through that county, it was not safe for
patrols to be out hunting Negroes, and the system came to an end, never
to be revived. The regular confederate troops raised in that and
adjoining counties went South as fast as recruited, so that only
bushwhackers remained, and they were a source of annoyance to Union men
and Union troops of that county up to the fall and winter of 1864, when
they were effectually cleaned out. Many of these men claimed to be
loyal, especially so in public and at their homes in the day time, in
order to be protected, while at heart they were disloyal, aiding
bushwhackers not only with ammunition, rations, and information as to
when and where Union troops would pass, but with their presence at night
on the roadside, shooting at Union citizens and soldiers while passing.
They would select some safe spot where a returned fire would not reach

The spirit of secession was almost as strong in that county in 1861, as
it was in South Carolina, and when Fort Sumter was fired upon, Col. Pugh
Price, of Brunswick, hung out the confederate flag, and called for
volunteers. There were two companies raised who went South, one of which
was commanded by Capt. J. W. Price. That county furnished its full share
to the confederate army, composed largely of the best blood, men who
were willing to shoot and be shot at in the open field of battle.

There was a man named James Long, a plasterer by trade, who was a noisy
fellow, and who cast the only vote Lincoln received in that county. When
called upon to give his reasons for so doing, he stated that he did it
for fun; he then and there cursed Lincoln in language quite strong, and
said that he ought to be assassinated. A year later, a loyal man had to
be appointed postmaster at Brunswick, and then this man Long came
forward as the only original Lincoln man, stating that his vote
represented his sentiments, and that his former denial was caused by
intimidation. He got the appointment, and in a year or two was arrested,
tried, convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary for misappropriation
of government money. But the secessionists lost a friend in him, because
it was believed by Union men that he was not of them, and it was charged
that he aided the rebels in every way possible, even to rifling Union
men’s letters, and giving their contents to rebels.

But this man’s downfall was a blessing to some extent, to the Colored
people who received mail through that office, for he would not give them
their mail, but held it and delivered it to their masters. Our family
had no trouble in this respect, for our master would bring our letters
unopened and deliver them without question. I remember getting one from
my brother, B. K. Bruce, who was in Lawrence, Kan., at the time of the
Quantrell raid, in 1863, which he brought from town, and waited to hear
how B. K. Bruce escaped being killed in the Lawrence massacre.

From 1862 to the close of the war, slave property in the state of
Missouri was almost a dead weight to the owner; he could not sell
because there were no buyers. The business of the Negro trader was at an
end, due to the want of a market. He could not get through the Union
lines South with his property, that being his market. There was a man
named White, usually called “Negro-trader White,” who travelled over the
state, buying Negroes like mules for the southern market, and when he
had secured a hundred or more, he would take them, handcuffed together,
to the South. He or his agents attended all sales where Negroes were to
be sold without conditions. The sentiment against selling Negroes to
traders was quite strong, and there were many who would not sell at all,
unless forced by circumstances over which they had no control, and would
cry with the Negroes at parting. A Negro sold to a trader would bring
from one to three hundred dollars more money.

I recall a case where a master was on a note as surety, and had the
same, which was a large sum, to pay at maturity, and to do so he was
forced to sell a young girl to raise the cash. He sent for Negro-trader
White, and the sale was made in the city without his wife’s knowledge,
but when he attempted to deliver her, his wife and children clung to the
girl and would not let her go. When White saw he could not get his
Negro, he demanded a return of his money, which the seller had applied
on the note and could not get back. The matter was finally settled in
some way; at any rate the girl was not sold, and was in that county
until 1864.

The Negro trader usually bought all Negroes who had committed murder or
other crimes, for which public whipping was not considered sufficient
punishment. Slaves usually got scared when it became known that
Negro-trader White was in the community. The owners used White’s name as
a threat to scare the Negroes when they had violated some rule. “I’ll
sell you to the Negro trader, if you don’t do better” was often as good
or better punishment than the lash, for the slave dreaded being sold
South, worse than the Russians do banishment to Siberia.

Excitement, such as I had never seen, existed not alone with the white
people, but with the slaves as well. Work, such as had usually been
performed, almost ceased; slaves worked as they pleased, and their
masters were powerless to force them, due largely to the fact that the
white people were divided in sentiment. Those who remained loyal advised
the slaves who belonged to those called disloyal, not to work for men
who had gone or sent their sons South, to fight against the government.
Slaves believed, deep down in their souls, that the government was
fighting for their freedom, and it was useless for masters to tell them
differently. They would leave home in search of work, and usually found
it, with small pay, with some Union man, and often without pay for weeks
at a time, but his master had to clothe him as he had always done, and
in some cases pay his own slave for his work.

Near the close of 1863, the Union men were on top, and the disloyal or
southern sympathizer had to submit to everything. The lower class of
so-called Union men almost openly robbed rebel sympathizers by going to
their farms, dressed and armed as soldiers, taking such stock as they
wanted, which the owner was powerless to prevent; in fact he would have
been killed had he attempted it. The period had been reached when the
master found his slave to be his best and truest friend, because it
often happened that he was forced for self-protection to hide his
valuables from these prowlers, and knowing that their quarters would not
be invaded, he placed his precious property in their hands for safe

I remained on our farm, managing it as I had done in past years, but I
saw that the time had about come when I could do so no longer. I saw
men, whose names I could state, take from our farm hogs, cattle, and
horses without permission and without paying for them, under the
pretence that it was a military necessity. Of course no such necessity
existed, and the government received no benefit therefrom.

I remember that W. B. Bruce owned a fine lot of horses and cattle in
1862, but by March, 1864, they had all or nearly all been taken, without
his consent, and often without his knowledge. I speak of only two cases
of this kind, because I have personal knowledge of them. After the war,
many of these men who had lost their property, other than slaves,
presented claims against the government for property supposed to have
been confiscated or appropriated to the use of Uncle Sam, and these
claimants were honest in their belief that their property was so taken,
when, as a matter of fact, it was taken by thieves, dressed in uniform
for the purpose of deception, men who were not in the Union army, and
the stolen property was used for their own personal benefit. W. B. Bruce
is now living and can, if he will, testify to the truthfulness of what I
state here.

The Germans were all Union men, and on that account had suffered
severely at the hands of the bushwhackers from the beginning of the war
to January, 1864, after which time they were as secure as any other
class, and finally became the leaders on the Union side. W. B. Bruce and
my owner joined their fortunes with the men of the South, and lost all
they had contributed. Agents stole through the lines from the South,
authorized to recruit men and receive money donations. They told
wonderful stories about the confederacy, its success, what it would do,
etc.; that they needed money and men, and in a very short time the war
would be over, and the South would be on top.

I remember a young man named Kennedy, raised in Brunswick, and enlisted
as a private in 1861, who went South in a Missouri rebel regiment. He
came back in the fall of 1863 with the rank of Colonel, authorized to
raise men and money for the southern confederacy. He was hiding around
Brunswick and vicinity for a long time, and left without the Unionists
knowing he had been there. Many southern sympathizers contributed money
to the cause, which they have had dire need for since, and I believe my
master and W. B. Bruce were among the victims.

I had several talks with my young master, W. E. Perkinson, in 1862, on
the subject of loyalty. He wanted to join Col. Moberly’s company of
State militia, and if left to his choice, would have done so, but he was
so bitterly opposed by his father and uncle, that he finally went South
and served to the day of surrender, came home penniless, and with health
gone. I am satisfied that he has sincerely regretted his action ever
since, because he found young men, who were not his equals in ability
and standing, but who had taken the Union side, occupying important
positions in the city, county and state, while he was disfranchised and
did not get his disabilities removed for many years. He had been reared
in the lap of luxury, graduated from college, then had studied law, and
never earned a dollar to defray expenses; and he returned to find his
father dead, his Negroes freed, and stock stolen, but the land was
there, and that alone constituted his earthly possession. I was his
playmate and nurse in childhood, though but a few years older, and
always liked him; we never had any harsh words at any time, even after
he had become a man. I have been informed that he has succeeded as a
lawyer and judge on the bench.

There were a few poor whites who failed to identify themselves with
either side, and of course did not enlist in either army; they were
anything to suit present company. Near the close of the winter of 1863-4
the Union side seemed to be getting on top, had a company of soldiers
stationed at Brunswick, had rid the county of bushwhackers and rebel
soldiers, and these fellows who had been on the fence for two years now
openly declared for the Union.


The enlistment of Colored men for the army commenced in Chariton County,
Missouri, early in December, 1863, and any slave man who desired to be a
soldier and fight for freedom, had an opportunity to do so. Certain men
said to be recruiting officers from Iowa, came to Brunswick, to enlist
Colored men for the United States Army, who were to be accredited not to
Missouri, but to certain townships in Iowa, in order to avoid a draft
there. I am unable to state the number of Colored men who enlisted in
that county during the period from December, 1863, until the close of
enlistments in the spring of 1865, but I am sure it was large. I had
some trouble with these enlisted men, which was as follows: Being in the
United States service themselves, they thought it no more than right to
press in every young man they could find. Being secretly aided by these
white officers, who, I learned afterwards, received a certain sum of
money for each recruit raised and accredited as above described. These
Colored men scoured the county in search of young men for soldiers,
causing me to sleep out of nights and hide from them in the daytime. I
was afraid to go to town while they were there, and greatly relieved
when a company was filled out and left for some point in Iowa.

Our owner did not want us to leave him and used every persuasive means
possible to prevent it. He gave every grown person a free pass, and
agreed to give me fifteen dollars per month, with board and clothing,
if I would remain with him on the farm, an offer which I had accepted to
take effect January 1, 1864. But by March of that year, I saw that it
could not be carried out, and concluded to go to Kansas. I might have
remained and induced others to do so and made the crop, which would have
been of little benefit to him, as it would have been spirited away. I
made the agreement in good faith, but when I saw that it could not be
fulfilled I had not the courage to tell him that I was going to leave

I was engaged to marry a girl belonging to a man named Allen Farmer, who
was opposed to it on the ground, as I was afterwards informed, that he
did not want a Negro to visit his farm who could read, because he would
spoil his slaves. After it was known that I was courting the girl, he
would not allow me to visit his farm nor any of his slaves to visit
ours, but they did visit notwithstanding this order, nearly every
Sunday. The girl’s aunt was our mutual friend and made all arrangements
for our meetings. At one of our secret meetings we decided to elope and
fixed March 30, 1864, at nine o’clock, P.M., sharp, as the date for

She met me at the appointed time and place with her entire worldly
effects tied up in a handkerchief, and I took her up on the horse behind
me. Then in great haste we started for Laclede, about thirty miles north
of Brunswick, and the nearest point reached by the Hannibal and St. Joe
Railroad. This town was occupied by a squad of Union Troops. Having
traveled over that country so often, I had acquired an almost perfect
knowledge of it, even of the by-paths. We avoided the main road, and
made the entire trip without touching the traveled road at any point and
without meeting any one and reached Laclede in safety, where we took
the train for St. Joe, thence to Weston, where we crossed the Missouri
River on a ferry boat to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I then felt myself a
free man.

I learned soon afterwards that Jesse Boram, Allen Farmer and as many
other men as could be hastily gotten together started in pursuit of us,
following every road we were supposed to take, and went within six miles
of Laclede, hoping to overtake us. Of course they would have ended my
earthly career then and there, could they have found me that night. But
I had carefully weighed the cost before starting, had nerved myself for
action and would have sold my life very dearly had they overtaken us in
our flight. How could I have done otherwise in the presence of the girl
I loved, one who had forsaken mother, sister and brothers, and had
placed herself entirely under my care and protection.

I am satisfied, even now, that I was braver that night than I have ever
been since. I was a good shot and knew it, and intended to commence
shooting as soon as my pursuers showed up; but it was a Godsend to all
concerned, and especially to myself and bride, soon to be, that we were
not overtaken; for I was determined to fight it out on that line, as
surrender meant death to me. I had buckled around my waist a pair of
Colt’s revolvers and plenty of ammunition, but I feel now that I could
not have held out long before a crowd of such men, and while I might
have hit one or two of them, they would in the end have killed me.

My bravery, if that was what affected me, was not of the kind that will
not shun danger, for I resorted to every scheme possible to avoid it.
We had the start of our pursuers about an hour, or in other words the
girl was missed from her room in that time; then it took probably
another hour to get the men together. But they stood a very poor show to
capture us on the main road, for we left it after the first half mile
and took to the brush and by-paths. They expected to overtake us on the
main road, where they would have killed me, taken the girl back and
given her a severe flogging, but they were badly fooled, for we traveled
east, nearly on a straight line for six miles, then turned north, the
correct course of our destination.

I had heard it whispered among his Colored people, that Mr. Farmer’s
house was a kind of rendezvous for the bushwhackers in that part of the
country, a place to meet to secure rations, ammunition and information,
and that, occasionally, he went out with them at night. If it be true
that he acted with bushwhackers, then I assert that he went out with
them just once too often, for he was killed as such, during the Summer
of 1864, while on the run after being halted.

As already stated in a preceding chapter, I had learned to read, but
could not write. Prior to leaving home I printed with pen and ink a
note, which was pinned to the bridle, telling a friend of my master, who
lived within four miles of Laclede, and in whose front yard I tied the
horse about daybreak, to whom it belonged, and requesting him to send it
home or notify its owner to come for it. I learned afterwards that the
horse, “Old Fiddler,” was sent home the next day. I did not want to be
called a horse thief, and ever afterwards be afraid to visit my old
home, friends and relatives.

In January, 1865, I visited my old master and found him greatly
disheartened and hard pressed. He told me that he wished I had kept the
horse for he would have been better satisfied, as it had been taken from
him by the thieves, dressed for self-protection in the uniform of Uncle
Sam. He had but one horse on the farm at the time of my visit, and
offered that to me as a gift, knowing that it was only a matter of time,
when it, too, would be stolen. I did not accept the gift and was sorry
that I did not, for I was informed by letter that three armed men
appeared a few days afterward and took, not only the horse, but a wagon
load of corn to feed it.

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On March 31, 1864, I landed at Leavenworth, Kansas, with my intended
wife, without a change of clothing and with only five dollars in cash,
two of which I gave Rev. John Turner, Pastor of the A. M. E. Church, who
united us in marriage in his parlor that day. I knew a friend in that
city, who came from Brunswick, Paul Jones, and upon inquiry soon found
and secured room and board with him. The next day I was out hunting for
work, which I obtained with a brick contractor, at two dollars and
seventy-five cents per day, to carry a mud-hod, which I had done before;
so that the work was not entirely new, nor the contractor a stranger to
me. His name was Amos Fenn; he had worked for a contractor named
Hawkins, who built a row of brick buildings at Brunswick, Mo., in the
Fall of 1854, where I worked a few weeks, and when we met I remembered
him and he gave me a job.

For the first few weeks I was well pleased with the pay I received, and
thought I would soon have plenty of money, but now I had a new problem
to solve, which was to support and clothe myself and a wife and pay
doctors’ bills, which was something new to me. I had never been trained
in the school of economy, where I could learn the art of self-support,
as my master had always attended to that little matter from my earliest
recollections. Now I had expenses to meet of every kind. The necessaries
of life were all very high, including house rent, and by the time I
paid up my bills on Saturday night, I found my week’s earnings well
nigh gone; this was the case right along. I also found that I had to
make my own bargains for whatever necessaries we needed, and to provide
for a rainy day, all of which experiences were new to me, yes, very new,
and were a source of annoyance for a long time, because it taxed my mind
each day to provide the necessaries for the next week and from week to
week. I had lived to be twenty-eight years old, and had never been
placed in a position where I had occasion to give this matter a single
thought, for the reason that my master had it to attend to, as before

I found myself almost as helpless as a child, so far as managing and
providing for personal welfare and the future was concerned, and
although I had been trained to work from a child and had acquired almost
a perfect knowledge of it, together with a will and ability to perform
hard manual labor, yet I had not learned the art of spending my earnings
to the best advantage. I had a very limited knowledge of the value of
any article, and often paid the price demanded without question, and
ofttimes bought articles which were useless to me. My wife and I had
good health and worked steadily every day, and by so doing managed to
save up money enough in a short time to rent and fit up a small two-room

Continuing to enjoy good health and obtaining steady work, we had saved
enough money within two years to buy the house and lot, paying nearly
two-thirds cash therefor. I felt proud, being then for the first time in
my life a land-owner, but it was of short duration. I had relied upon
the word of a white man, and had paid him the amount agreed upon, and
had received what I had supposed to be a clear title to the land, but
it turned out soon afterwards, that the man owned only the house, and
the land upon which it stood was the property of another, who notified
me to pay rent for the land or move my house away.

I found the white men of Kansas quite different from those of Missouri,
in their dealings with Colored people or ex-slaves. They would talk and
act nicely and politely, and in such a way as to win my confidence;
always referring to my former condition and abusing pro-slavery men,
pretending great friendship for me, and by so doing they ingratiated
themselves into my confidence to such an extent, that I would follow
their advice in the purchase of what they had to sell. Of course I
believed what they told me and was often cheated out of my hard

I had been reared where it was a crime for me to dispute a white man’s
word, and that idea was so well and thoroughly grounded in me that it
took time and great effort to eradicate it. It took me a long time to
learn that a white man would lie as quickly as a black one, and there
are thousands of illiterate ex-slaves now living who have not entirely
dismissed that idea, that a white man can not lie, drilled into them
from early childhood, for I have found this true in dealing with them.

Let any ex-slave, uneducated, wanting information come to an educated
colored man for it, and obtain it, he will not be really satisfied until
he lays the matter before some white man, and if approved, then it is
all right, but if condemned then the white man’s opinion is accepted and
the other rejected; this holds good to-day, and in my opinion is one of
the results of slavery, which I can only explain by stating that
slave-holders considered it very low to lie to a slave, and would not do
it under any circumstances, and had great contempt for another one who
would purposely do so. I have known them to refuse to answer questions
rather than tell a lie, when they could not afford to tell the truth.
Many times the slave has wished that his master would lie, when he has
told him that at a certain hour or upon a certain day he would punish
him; for he knew he would get the promised flogging almost as surely as
the day came. Sometimes he would be told, “I am doing this only to keep
my word.” My own personal experience is, that in dealing with slaves the
master was perfectly honorable and truthful, and would not cheat or
practice deception in any way with them, and the slave knew that the
master would not lie and therefore believed what he said.

I found by sad experience that the white men in a free state, especially
in business transactions, were not as truthful as the slave-holders of
Missouri, in dealing with colored people, a fact to which many colored
men in Leavenworth and Atchison, Kansas, can testify, men like myself
who have been deceived into buying a lot, and who, in installments had
paid the entire price agreed upon. After having built a house thereon,
in a few years they found that the land was owned by someone else.

I could give the names of several colored men in the cities named above,
who lost their property in that way, and who were forced to vacate or
pay a higher price for the land than at first. Men from the South tell
me that that class of white men in that section, who were almost the
soul of honor, in dealing with the colored people, is fast dying out,
and the young men taking their places will lie to and cheat the ex-slave
of his earnings right along, and do not display the honor of their
fathers in such dealings.

I am unable to vouch for the truthfulness of this statement, not having
lived in the South and therefore having no personal knowledge on that
point. If it be true that the young men of the South, who have taken
their fathers’ places, are less honorable, less reliable in dealings
with their fathers’ ex-slaves, cheating and by deception, defrauding
them of their earnings, then I assert that it is a sad reflection upon
the once boasted chivalry and honor of the southern gentlemen, the men
of the old school. But I am of the opinion that the class of men in the
South, who are cheating and lying to colored people, are the newcomers
and oldtime slave drivers or their offspring, who were always the
enemies of the slave, and to-day are jealous of him as a free man, and
will take the lead in any matter that will militate against the colored

In thus describing my own experience upon being emancipated from
slavery, I only show that of over four million others. History does not
record where four millions of people had been held in slavery so long,
that they had lost all knowledge of the way to provide for their own
support, to expend their earnings to advantage, to use economy in
purchasing necessaries of life and to lay up for another day.

This was the condition of the Colored people at the close of the war.
They were set free without a dollar, without a foot of land, and without
the wherewithal to get the next meal even, and this too by a great
Christian Nation, whose domain is dotted over with religious
institutions and whose missionaries in heathen lands, are seeking to
convert the heathen to belief in their Christian religion and their
Christian morality.

These slaves had been trained to do hard manual labor from the time that
they were large enough to perform it, to the end of their lives, right
along, and received no education or instruction in the way of economy.
They had no care as to the way they were to get the next meal, the next
pair of shoes or suit of clothes. This being the duty of the master,
they looked to him for these necessaries, just as a child looks to its
mother or the horse to its master for its daily sustenance.

The history of this country, especially that portion of it south of
Mason and Dixon’s line, shows that the labor of these people had for two
hundred years made the country tenable for the white man, had cleared
away the dense forests and produced crops that brought millions of money
annually to that section, which not only benefited the South, but the
North as well. It does seem to me, that a Christian Nation, which had
received such wealth from the labor of a subjugated people, upon setting
them free would, at least, have given them a square meal. Justice seems
to demand one year’s support, forty acres of land and a mule each.

Did they get that or any portion of it? Not a cent. Four million people
turned loose without a dollar and told to “Root hog or die!” Now, whose
duty was it to feed them? Was it the former masters’ or that of the
general government; which had conquered the masters, and in order to
make that victory complete freed their slaves? My opinion is that the
government should have done it.

The master had been conquered, after four years’ hard fighting, and
largely by the aid of the two hundred thousand Colored volunteers,
mustered in the United States Army, and told to fight for the freedom of
their race. The history of that conflict says they did it loyally and

General Lee had surrendered. The South had staked its all upon that
contest and had been conquered and laid waste, as it were; its business
gone, its crops confiscated by both armies, and its slaves set free, but
it had to feed these homeless and penniless people or see them starve.
No one will say the masters did not feed the freedmen until a crop was
made, and, too, at a time when they had no money in cash and no credit
at the North.

When we take into consideration the penniless condition of these four
million people at the close of the war, and the fact that they were
destitute of education and turned loose in the midst of a people
educated in science, art, literature and economy, a people owning the
land and chattels of every kind, with money to do the business of the
country and with the experience and training of a thousand years, the
fact that the freedmen did succeed under these adverse conditions in
obtaining a living, and in many cases in getting little homes for
themselves and families, instead of becoming a public charge, is greatly
to their credit.

Many white people who were friendly to them had great mis-givings and
doubts as to whether these freedmen could succeed in making themselves
self-supporting in the race of life, with so many obstacles to meet and
overcome. They were illiterate, without money and confronted with a
prejudice due in part to their former condition and in part to the fact
of their being candidates for the labor work, which, up to that period,
had been performed by the poor whites, especially foreigners, in the
North, East and West.

The freeing of the American slaves and their partial migration to these
states, seeking employment, excited the enmity of the white laborers,
particularly the Irish, because at that time they constituted fully
seventy-five per cent. of the laboring class, and who imagined that the
influx of Negro laborers from the South, would divide the labor monopoly
which they held, and of course they became opposed to the Colored people
and so much so, that they would have done almost anything calculated to
extirpate them. They were always ready to incite a riot and take the
lead in it, and had not the business men, capitalists and ministers
frowned upon their course, would have succeeded in doing serious harm.

I remember the bitter feeling existing between the Irish and the Colored
laborers in Leavenworth, Kansas, which had its beginning about the close
of the war. They had several little conflicts, and on one occasion the
civil authorities interfered to prevent bloodshed.

I recall an instance when the Colored people had been informed that the
Irish were intent on surrounding the Baptist Church, corner Third and
Kiowa streets, to “clane the nagurs out,” on Sunday night. The Colored
people prepared to meet them, by selecting Fenton Burrell as captain,
and secreting nearly fifty armed men in a vacant lot in the rear of the
church, to await the appearance of the Irish. Soon a squad of them came
up Third street to within a hundred yards of the church, but after
halting a few minutes marched back and dispersed. I learned afterwards
that Col. D. R. Anthony, a recognized friend of both races, went in
person to the leaders and informed them of the reception they would
receive if they proceeded further, and advised them to disperse and go
home, which they did.

The Negro has committed no offense against the Irish; the two races had
never lived together at any time to engender hatred, and as I understand
it, there is no valid reason why the Irish should have been so bitter
against the Negro, except the fact that they were both seekers after the
unskilled labor of this country. I have stated that it was the labor
question that excited the enmity of the Irish against the Colored
people, and the reason why I say this is, that the past history of the
two races since the conquest of Ireland, by England is much alike; both
had been in bondage a long time. While the Irish had not been in
slavery, pure and simple, they had been held in a state of subjugation
and servitude, nearly approaching to it, and enjoyed but few more
liberties than the American slave. They had a country only in name and
no voice in the government thereof or ownership in the land on which
they lived, any more than the slaves in the United States. They were not
free men until they reached the United States. With such a similarity in
past history and present condition, it would seem that these two races
should have been friends instead of foes, and in my opinion they would
have been, had they not been seekers for the same kind of employment,
and thus becoming competitors. So that the scramble for that employment
has caused the Irish to resort to means which have aided largely in
kindling the feeling of prejudice against the Colored people. They were
aided in thus accomplishing this object by the native poor white, and
the further fact that they were white men, because whenever that
question or issue is raised, it will catch the illiterate whites en
masse, and in many cases the thoughtless aristocratic class, who will
join a mob to lynch a Colored man without giving the matter a second
thought, as to whether he is guilty or not. In many cases the charge is
cooked up for a sinister purpose, to get rid of him, or in order to
obtain a lucrative position held by him.

I have stated before that it is the labor question, more than any other,
which causes the Colored people to suffer greater indignities than any
other class of Americans in this country, and I believe it is not on
account of their color, so much as it is the desire of white laborers to
do the work and to receive pay which might go to him. It is an admitted
fact that these same laborers or mechanics in search of a job, will go
South, where the Colored men have charge of such work, or nearly so, and
will not only work with them, but hire to them and be bossed by them.
Foreigners, seeking employment, have gone to the South in large numbers
during the last five years, and finding there the typical poor whites,
who are the ancient enemies of the Colored people and ever ready to do
them harm, have united with them on the color line and raised that old
familiar cry that “this is a white man’s country, that white men must
and shall rule it; no Negro domination over white men.” When that
feeling has grown sufficiently strong to cover the real designs of the
vicious elements, and to deceive the better class, then it is that the
charges against some harmless, helpless Colored man are trumped up, and
they lynch him. So rapid is the mob in forming and blood-thirsty in its
murderous howls, that the better class is powerless to assist the
helpless victim while alive, and when dead the charges which were
preferred by a poor white man or a foreigner, for a mere trifle or
sinister purpose, are magnified until it would appear that the victim
was a savage brute and deserved the punishment inflicted. So brutal are
these charges made to appear after the death of the victim, that the
better class of southern white people, allow these lynchers to escape
punishment, upon the ground, I suppose, that they had rid the community
of a bad character.

The lynching of the Colored people is always the work of the poor white
laboring class, and as a striking incident tending to show the facts, I
call attention to the list of the killed and wounded at Roanoke, Va., in
September, 1893, when the State militia, in upholding the dignity of the
law of the State, fired into a mob, killing and wounding thirty men,
twenty-four of whom were laborers, track-walkers, section hands, and
employes in the machine shops of that city. I take these figures from
the published report made at the time of the occurrence; and to my mind
one thing is made plain by this incident, which is this, that it was not
the aristocracy that was doing the lynching at the South, or any other
part of the country, though they are held morally responsible in the
eyes of the nation.

But the aristocracy of the South is getting its eyes open to this
growing evil, and I am of the opinion, that its eyes will not have been
opened any too soon, for this is only another form of anarchy, which is
feeding itself upon the Colored people, and will ere long turn upon the
aristocrat and the capitalist, and serve them even worse than the
Colored people have been.

The better class at the South will soon see the error of their past
conduct, if they have not already done so, in taking the poor whites
into their confidence and social circle, which, I suppose, was for
political purposes, for they now feel themselves the equals of their
former lords, and will not down at their bidding. They drove out the
Republican government at the South by brutal force, and they had the
acquiescence of their former lords, who enjoyed a benefit for a time,
but this element of roughs, augmented by the influx of foreigners, is
beginning to show its disloyalty to the old aristocratic element by
leaving them at home, and when possible, sending one of its ilk as a
representative to the legislative halls, State and National.

But as to lynching, I think I see among the better class evidence of a
change of public sentiment taking place at the South, a return to law
and order, as indicated by a few extracts from leading newspapers in
that section. The first is from the _Indianapolis World_ (Colored),
issue of September 19, 1893, as follows: “It looks as if light were
breaking into the hitherto darkened condition of the South. The carnival
of crime in which the depraved and merciless element of that section has
reveled unchecked for many months, is at last arousing the dormant
spirit of justice and fair play, inherent in the American bosom, and the
fabric upon which our Constitution rests. Just as the insolent and
exorbitant ambition of the slave power laid the train, which resulted in
the downfall of the unfavorite institution, the repeated cruelties,
tortures, and human outrages of southern brutes has awakened the
conscience of the better classes, whose love for the fair name of their
country outweighs all fear of Negro domination. The ‘vaulting ambition’
of the stake-burners and lynchers has overstept itself, and we verily
believe the reign of misrule is reaching the beginning of the end.”

A few months ago, scarcely a southern newspaper dared to lift up a voice
against the inhuman practices of the mobs. They either gave open
encouragement to their so-called “best citizens,” or silently
acquiesced. To-day, however, the leading journals of Virginia, South
Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Louisiana, perceiving the change of the
tide, and that the southern craft is dashing dangerously near the
breakers of anarchy, are pleading for a cessation of horrors, and the
re-establishment of law and order. The _Memphis Commercial_ has been at
all times one of the most arrogant and ungenerous enemies of the Negro
throughout the South, but it is a revelation of a highly creditable
character to hear it give birth to such sentiments as these: “Even when
outraged virtue and all the ties of nature and humanity call for the
death of criminals, the demoralization of violence and the contagion of
cruelty accompany these things. There is no passion which so thrives
from gratification as the lust of cruelty. The English Parliament
declared that public executions were debauching the whole British
people. Mercy was drowned in blood during the reign of terror, and the
whole future of French civilization is stained and poisoned by the
memory of the guillotine. So it is with lynching in the South. The
horror has spread, and a people, originally the gentlest, bravest,
noblest in the world, are actually threatened with a generation of cruel
and violent men. Every boy, who witnesses a lynching, loses something of
his humanity. Every groan of the dying wretch kills part of his native
tenderness, and every drop of blood congeals the mercy and gentleness of
his heart. It were better that a young man should cut off his right hand
than to see the torture of one man. It is better that he should be
struck with deafness than to hear the death shriek of one dying

“Such scenes have made the Murats and Robespierres of history. Such
things done in America will curse the future of civilization and darken
the glory of coming years. Hence, we deem that swift and summary justice
should be meted by law to all who practice these horrors, unless the
flagrancy of the offence justify lawlessness by the higher law of
necessary punishment. In Louisiana, a few day ago, a mob of brutal
whites most cruelly lynched three innocent Negroes, and have sent word
to the agents of the State’s laws that they intend to burn another one
in broad daylight. This constitutes treason, and we hold that the
Governor of Louisiana should stamp it out at once, if it must be done
with the bayonet of armed authority. It is the glory of the South, up to
this time, in spite of all that may be said to the contrary, that she
has been considerate, generous and kind in the face of the most
difficult class of conditions that ever confronted a people. Let us not
lose so fair a fame by any delays of laws or fears of prejudice.”

These sentiments are their own comment, and indicate that if the appeals
of the Negro for justice for justice’s sake are ignored, the southern
leaders are learning that they cannot escape the consequences of natural
laws and are moved to action through the law of self-protection. The
strong stand taken against mob violence by Governor Brown of Maryland,
Governor McKinney of Virginia, and the ringing words of brave Mayor
Trout of Roanoke, are all encouraging cases in point, which evidence the
change of front by the intelligent, thrifty and liberty-loving people
below the Mason and Dixon line.

We must not lose our head, or fly into an impotent rage when
contemplating our wrongs. Let us recognize fully the seriousness of our
condition, study the temper of the southern mind, analyze the cause of
every action against us, and set about applying a sensible remedy, based
upon the state of the case as shown by the symptoms. A condition which
is the natural outgrowth of slavery will improve as the evils of that
period diminish. Therefore let us grow in education, in wealth, in
respectability, in morals, and in political generosity, and we will rise
to our rightful place in the esteem and confidence of the nation. This
will take time, and time is an essential element in the solution of all
chronic complaints and in all great problems.

Before closing this chapter, I feel that an explanation should be made
as to what I really mean in using the term “poor white” people, for I do
not want to be understood as meaning that all poor white people are
alike, and therefore are opposed to the Colored people’s enjoying the
rights and immunities conferred upon others by the law of the country,
for such is far from my intention or desire. There are thousands of
aristocratic white people who are poor, financially speaking, due to
accident or misfortune, but they still retain in their veins the blood
of aristocracy, that will not and cannot be concealed by the change of
position. This class, as a result of the war, is more largely found in
the South, but wherever found, as a rule, they always are the friends of
the oppressed, and the Colored people regard them as their friends.

Blood and education will tell; even the children of that class of men
are infinitely superior to those of the typical poor whites, whose
offspring seldom rise above the positions held by their fathers’ in
life, and when we find one who has, we regard him as the exception, and
not the rule. He may acquire wealth, and, on account of it, command
respect, but will have all the failings and prejudices of his kind or
line of consanguinity.

Now as to the Irish, I do not want it understood from what I have said
concerning the position they have occupied toward the Colored people,
that they are all enemies to the ex-slave, for such is not the case,
because there are thousands of them in this country as friendly to the
Colored people as any other class of American citizens, and just as
ready to give them a fair show as any other.

But I will state, that my experience has been that this class of Irish
Americans are the refined, educated class always, and not the common
laborer, or the illiterate class. But I think I see a great change for
the better taking place.

The Irish who have been in this country long enough, and are educated,
and have accumulated money, are giving up the labor work, and engaging
in the various kinds of business, leaving the labor work to be performed
by others, and in such cases they cease to be prejudiced. The Germans
have never sought the labor work of the country, and therefore have
always been friendly with the Colored people, and retain their
friendship and confidence in return.


I have stated in a former chapter that the Colored people,
notwithstanding the many adverse circumstances surrounding them, did
succeed in obtaining a living and avoided becoming a great public
charge, which fact, I think, will be universally admitted. But we can go
further and show that they not only accomplished this, but other things,
equally as great during the period from 1865 to the present. Many white
people believed, when these people were freed that they were incapable
of taking education, and therefore could not safely attain to
citizenship, all of which has long since been shown to be erroneous, and
at this present time the men holding such views cannot be found.

The Colored people have fully demonstrated their ability to take
education, not only in the common, but in the higher branches as well,
and as rapidly and as thoroughly as the white student. They have also
shown their ability to master any of the learned professions, so that
the men who have heretofore prated so loudly about the incapacity of the
colored man, have been driven successfully from each stand they have
taken, until the last ditch is reached; they now admit the Colored man’s
ability to cope with them in the professions, but say he is unreliable.
But he will soon drive them from that position also.

We are now classed as a “Negro” race. Webster says the word “Negro”
applies to black men of southern Africa, or their descendents. While
there are a few pure black men among the Colored people of the United
States, at the most, not over one-fifth, the other four-fifths are
mixed, in a lesser or greater degree, with the white race, and this
process of mixing has been going on for over two hundred years. Children
take their nationality from their mothers and not their fathers; so that
every child whose mother is a white or a Colored American, is an
American to all intents and purposes, and cannot be otherwise. These
mixed bloods married, and begat children, who were Americans. Though
they were deprived of their liberty by American law, they could not be
called Africans any more than the white Americans could be called
Europeans, and this forces me to state that there is no such a thing as
a Negro race in this country. We are Colored Americans and this, I think
is the proper name for us.

One thing is pretty clearly seen, and that is, we are not a race with
sufficient race pride and affinity, which are the special prerequisites
of all races of men in the great struggle for race supremacy. We have
not and cannot have race pride, because we know nothing of a mother
country; nothing of a united people; nothing of the different nations in
Africa, from which some of our ancestors were purchased or stolen. We
are here by the will of God, and He will in His own time and in His own
way shape our destiny. For the present, in my opinion, we are here to
show the sin and wickedness of the American people, and we are here to
stay. This is our country; our coming here being co-existent with that
of our white brother, we know no other; we have contributed our full
share to make it what it is; we have defended it in all its wars, before
and since the Declaration of Independence, and we will defend it
against all nations. We are Americans as truly as any others in this
land; this is our home, and its flag is our flag.

I have been unable to find a case in history, ancient or modern, where a
people had been held in subjugation and ignorance so long, and reduced
to such a state of immorality, that they had not the slightest
conception of, or respect for the marital relations, and especially the
moral law. This was the condition of the Colored people at the close of
the war. It is unnecessary for me to ask, who was responsible for this
crying shame, or whether it was the fault of the Colored people. In my
opinion it was and is the sin of the American people, who had gone to
Africa and stolen little children from their virtuous homes and parents,
brought them here, reared them as they reared their cattle, and
regardless of the rights of humanity, the laws of morality and
Christianity itself, reduced them to slavery, and robbed them of all
conceptions of chastity and virtue. I have said this crime was committed
by the American people, and I say this, because nearly every one of the
original thirteen States, which formed the United States, July 4, 1776,
held slaves or recognized property in them. But the most absurd of all
absurdities, is to hear white people prating about the immoral conduct
of Colored people when, as a matter of fact, they are responsible for
whatever they see in us to condemn, for we are what they made us. I say
Colored people, because we would have been pure black, were it not that
immoral white men have, by force, injected their blood into our veins,
to such an extent, that we now represent all colors, from pure black to
pure white, and almost entirely as the result of the licentiousness of
white men, and not of marriage or by the cohabitation of Colored men
with white women.

The fact is this, that we had to take ourselves as we found ourselves,
regardless of the many different shades of colors among us, and start
then, for the first time in our history, to build our own characters and
homes, with a very limited knowledge as to the way to proceed. Upon
being emancipated we commenced the practice of morality and virtue by
going to the church and the courts, and being legally married, and by
raising our children up in the care of the church and the Sabbath
schools. So that in a very short time after our freedom, nearly all
those who had been living as man and wife, by order or consent of their
masters, had been lawfully married. Then and not till then, did we
commence to build our own homes and to perpetuate a name. Of course the
name could be only that of our masters, as we had none and were
compelled to adopt that of our last master or some other, as the names
that were borne in Africa, by our stolen ancestors, were entirely lost,
after nearly two centuries in slavery.

It should not be expected that a people with so many disadvantages and
drawbacks could attain to the degree of morality and virtue of a people,
who had the benefit and experience of a thousand years’ training, but I
think we compare very favorably with that class of whites, who can
command no more capital than we. Our people have not added to the
increasing number of tramps, infesting nearly every State in the Union,
committing crime wherever they go, and causing the women to be in mortal
fear in the absence of their male protectors. The Colored people are, as
a rule, content and faithful workers wherever employed, a fact which
contractors who have given them work will confirm. They have never been
known to organize a strike, or to be in any way connected with one,
unless it be to accept work where white strikers had refused, and that
at the solicitation of owners or contractors. So that it may be stated
without the fear of successful contradiction, that the Colored laborers
are the most reliable class of workers the country possesses to-day,
less riotous, less turbulent and more tractable than any other class,
and can and do perform as full a day’s service.

The Colored American is most loyal to his government as a citizen and as
a soldier, a fact which will be generally admitted by even his worst
enemies. He is not to be classed among the anarchists, or any other
class of men who plot against the laws of the land. His loyalty and
bravery as a soldier have been shown, not only in the late war, but
since as an enlisted man in the regular army, a fact which the Seventh
United States Cavalry will admit willingly, because it was the Colored
troops that came in the nick of time to their aid at the Wounded Knee
fight, and turned defeat into victory. And speaking of their loyalty, I
feel safe in making the assertion, that they would be among the first to
enlist to defend the old flag, in case of an invasion by a foreign
enemy, even though he landed his forces in the extreme South.

Having no mother country with which to divide his sympathies, the old
flag would receive the Colored soldier’s loyal support. Can this be
truthfully said of any other distinct class of adopted citizens? I think
not. Suppose this country was forced to declare war against Germany or
Italy, could we expect the undivided support of the German Americans or
the naturalized Italians? Not at all. We would be at the mercy of either
of these great powers, because they could have their spies and
emissaries in our rear at every movement. This would not be the case
with the Colored Americans, who know only America, and whose allegiance
need not be questioned. The Colored American will be found fighting in
the ranks of the loyalists to sustain our present system of government
intact when the great conflict shall come, which now seems threatening,
and which came near being inaugurated at Chicago in the spring of 1894,
between those who are loyal to our present economic system of
government, and the extreme socialists, who are mostly of foreign birth,
and therefore less in sympathy with our institutions and established
mode of government.

The Colored American will always be found voting and fighting on the
side of the white American aristocratic classes, the classes that have
made our common country what it is to-day--the best government on the
face of the globe, and who are striving to keep it in the lead of all
other civilized governments.

There are several questions of great magnitude agitating the minds of
the American people to-day, questions which have been before them for
the last few years; and which will have to be met and settled, in my
opinion, at no very distant day, and in that final settlement, whether
in a war of ballots or bullets, the Colored Americans will wield an
important power, and will have an opportunity to make themselves masters
of the situation.

When the social question, or the struggle between labor and capital,
between law and order, between American and encroaching foreign ideas,
shall present themselves for settlement, the Colored Americans, being
most loyal to everything that is American, and especially to those
things which conduce to law and order and good government, can and will
always be found battling against the anarchist and the revolutionist of
any character. On account of their unwavering loyalty to America and its
established institutions, the Colored Americans will in such struggles,
in all probability, hold the key to the situation, or the casting
influence, and if rightly and wisely used, they will hold the balance of
power in this country.

I have tried to show that the typical poor whites and their allies, the
foreigners, seeking to control the labor work of the country, are no
friends of the Colored people, and have never been, and that the Colored
people cannot support any measure they may advocate. So then it will be
seen that it is the duty of the Colored people to support the principles
of the better classes of white people, North and South, for the
aristocratic classes are our real friends, and are also the friends of
good government for Americans.

I cannot see how a Christian nation can so far forget its duties as to
allow a loyal, industrious class of its citizens to suffer injustice and
wrongs at its hands, a class of people who only ask a fair chance in
common with its other citizens. One great injustice the Colored people
are forced to suffer, without the means of redress, is at the hands of
the press, especially the periodicals, which allow any writer who may
wish to attack the Colored people, space to vent his spleen, and when he
has given his story about them, whether true or false, the publishers
will not allow the Colored writer space to reply. Strange as it may
seem, these publishers will promptly refuse to publish articles
reflecting upon the moral habits and character of any other distinct
class of people in this country. Then why treat the Colored people
differently? Fair play and a fair show are all they ask, and this they
will ever ask, and as Americans this they have a right to ask.

Great injustice has been inflicted upon the Colored people of this
country by men engaged in business enterprises, such as manufacturers,
mill and mine owners, in their refusal to give them employment. These
great captains of industry have persistently discriminated against the
sober, industrious, faithful Colored American citizen, and given
preference to foreigners, who, neither understanding nor feeling the
slightest interest in our institutions, have, at times, by strikes and
boycotts, caused great loss to the employer and the employed, and
unnecessary inconvenience to the general public.

I make no complaint against that class of men, who, leaving the old
world and coming to the new, and assuming the responsibilities of
American citizenship in good faith, adopt the broad American doctrine of
equal rights to all. I refer to that irresponsible class, who, leaving
their country for their country’s good, have contributed little or
nothing to the peace, order and prosperity of the United States; they
are the inciters of strikes, riots and general disorder in nearly all of
our great centres of population.

The situation in this respect is becoming more and more a matter of
anxiety and alarm on the part of patriotic Americans, and the question
now confronting us is, “What shall we do about it?” Many things can be
done, some of which must be done speedily. Restrict immigration to the
industrious, sober, law-abiding classes, enforce the law rigorously
against rioters, anarchists, and the like, make education compulsory,
and teach English in all the public schools, and admit to the factories,
the mills, the mines, and other works, the worthy American worker, both
white and Colored, upon terms of perfect equality.

It is a burning shame, a disgrace to the country, that our own citizens
should be denied the opportunity of earning a livelihood at the
suggestion of a herd of ignorant and lawless foreigners.

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The white people charge us with being imitators, incapable of
originating anything in the domain of science, art or invention, and to
a certain extent I am free to admit that the charge is true, and the
reasons are easily explained. Being a new people, as it were, we had not
attained to the point of originality, and situated in the midst of white
people who had education, refinement of manners, money and the advantage
it gives, we are compelled to imitate them. Besides, it was their advice
to us to do so if we wished to succeed, and we have, therefore, been
imitating them for nearly thirty years, adopting their habits and
customs, the good, and, I am sorry to say, the bad as well. Having
followed the advice of those white people, who we knew meant well, and
whom we knew to be our real friends, as anxious for our success as we
were, and who will have our sincere thanks always, for the noble and
generous deeds they have done for us; yet we have made mistakes.
Whenever we could, we gave our children the same course of study that
white children received, often graduating them from the same platform,
and then, when able, sent our boys to college to take a professional
course, either in law, medicine or the ministry, this being the usual
course followed by white parents, and being imitators, could we be
expected to adopt any other with our limited means or foresight? I
answer, no.

Being a peculiar, or I might say a proscribed people, the same course
of study, after leaving the common branches, which was deemed best for
the white children, experience has shown us, was not the best suited for
the Colored children. Being almost entirely a laboring class of people,
we should have used every means in our power to educate our children’s
hands as well as their heads by giving them a trade of some kind, by
establishing industrial schools as a part of the course of study, so
that our boys would have a trade when they reached the age of twenty-one
years, and our girls at the same age coming out of the schools, would be
trained nurses, cooks or seamstresses, prepared to make an honest

I do not want it to be understood that I am opposed to the higher
studies or professions; far be it from me. On the contrary, I am proud
of every young Colored man who has attained to these honors, and would
be glad to see as many more turned out fullfledged every year. In order
that they may take our places in the labor world, when we, who have been
taught trades by our owners, shall have passed from life to death, we
should strive to give our children trades of some kind, and we should
commence now. Have we to-day as many shoemakers, carpenters,
bricklayers, blacksmiths, stone masons and wagon makers among us as when
emancipated? I think not. This presents a very unfortunate condition, if
true, and I believe it is. But I am glad to see our people awakening to
this neglected duty, and I think no man deserves more credit for this
than Booker T. Washington, President of the Tuskegee Normal and
Industrial Institute.

On the fourth of July, 1881, this school began, in an old church
building, with one teacher and thirty pupils. Since then its growth has
been most remarkable. To-day it owns over 1500 acres of land, nineteen
buildings, has more than six hundred students, forty-one teachers, and
gives instruction in eighteen industries. Its lands and buildings are
worth $185,000. Its industries include farming, brickmaking, sawmill
work, planing, carpentry, painting, brickmasonry, plastering,
blacksmithing, wheelwrighting, chairmaking, mattress-making, printing,
bee-culture; and for girls, laundering, general housekeeping, sewing,
including cutting and making garments, and cooking lessons for seniors.
Eight of the largest buildings have been built wholly or in part by
student labor. It has been the aim of the school from the first to
combine thorough mental training with industrial work.

No one can visit the school to-day and see what it is doing in the
class-room, in the farm, in the carpenter-shop, in the blacksmith-shop,
in the sawmill, in the brickyard, in the printing office, in the
laundry, in the sewing room, in the literary societies, and in the
various religious exercises,--for the development of the head, hand and
heart of the young men and women gathered there, without feeling
profoundly thankful to God.

There are a few things about this school that are especially worthy of
note: 1st. It is a live school. It believes in progress. It has never
stood still a day since its organization. Every year it presents new
evidences of growth and development. 2nd. It does what it aims to do
thoroughly. It employs only well-qualified officers and teachers, and
subjects all its pupils to the most rigid examination before sending
them forth. 3rd. It is no sham affair, existing on paper only. It is
all it represents itself to be, and more; and it does all it professes
to do. 4th. Its funds are wisely and economically administered; there is
no waste anywhere, everything is utilized, and utilized for the general
good. The immediate work to which the school is committed, in its
greatness and importance, seems to weigh upon every mind; and how to get
the most out of what they have is the one thought. Hence the salaries
are small and the working force is cut down to the smallest possible
number, thereby increasing the burdens of the officers and teachers, but
by them willingly, cheerfully endured, as it helps to keep down
expenses; hence, also the buildings, as well as their furnishings, the
food, etc., are all of the plainest character. An example of the rigid
economy which characterizes everything there, may be found in the fact,
that eight dollars will keep a young man there for a month, including
everything, board, lodging, washing, mending, fuel and light. 5th. Every
officer and teacher in it, from the beginning to the present, has been
Colored. Whatever ability has been displayed therefore in the management
of its affairs, and in working it up to its present high standard, we
may justly claim as our own. In this particular it stands alone among
the Colored institutions in our land. Not that there are no other
schools that have proved a success under exclusively Colored management
and direction, but none of such magnitude, whose success is so
unquestioned, and where such large sums of money are expended annually.

The feeling of the whites in the neighborhood is now most friendly to
the school, and they frequently employ the students in their different
departments of labor. As an illustration of this friendly feeling, a
southern lady living near the school has recently given to it an estate
valued at $15,000.

At the head of this school, and its animating, controlling spirit, from
the very beginning, is Prof. Booker T. Washington, a graduate of
Hampton, a quiet, unassuming man, with a wise head and a big heart, and
the weight of this race problem resting upon him as upon scarcely any
other that I have met. You do not hear very much about him through the
columns of the newspapers, or of his addressing great meetings in the
various parts of the country; but judged by his work, he is a most
remarkable man--a man to be proud of, and to be honored, a modest man,
caring nothing about notoriety, content to be unknown, so long as the
work goes on, and his people go up; a born leader, with all the elements
of leadership, especially for the work in which he is engaged, with a
keen intellect, a strong will, courage, perseverance and enthusiasm.

When this great race problem shall be solved; when slavery and all its
dreadful consequences shall be a thing of the past, and when we shall
stand on the same plane with others in point of wealth, intelligence and
culture, which I firmly believe we will, and even the history of the
influences by which it has been brought about shall be written, I
believe that no man will be assigned a more honorable place than this
man, Booker T. Washington.

I have written quite fully of the institution over which Professor
Washington presides, to the exclusion of others, not because there were
no others worthy of mention, but because I had fuller information of
that institution than of any other. But I am reliably informed that
there are several such schools established in the South, and that they
are doing a good work, but being in their infancy, as it were, are not
on a par with the Tuskegee Institute.

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In a former chapter I have attempted to show the manner in which we have
suffered in the past from the effects of an unwarranted prejudice
against us, due not so much to our color as to our condition, and from
the mistakes we have made in mapping out the course best suited for us
to follow. We are a peculiar people, hitherto unknown to the laws of the
United States. We have been made citizens by these laws, but are still
regarded as a distinct people. In this chapter I shall try to give my
views as to the best course for us, as a class, to pursue in order to
succeed in the race of life as newly made citizens, and this advice is
intended wholly for the Colored people.

Above every other consideration we must get money, and to do that, we
must engage in business of some kind, however small, and then support it
with our undivided patronage. By so doing we shall not only build up
business houses, but create places for our boys and girls when they
leave the schools, fitted for higher callings than the mudhod or the
washtub. We can do this without any sacrifice, as we are compelled to
spend a large portion of our earnings for the necessaries of life any
way, and when it comes to the question as to whether we shall spend it
with a white or a Colored tradesman, other things being equal, the
question itself ought to suggest the answer.

We would do well, in my opinion, to take a few lessons from the Hebrews
in this country, as to the way in which to accumulate money, for they
have been sorely pressed by all Christian nations for centuries, and
notwithstanding have steadily, and in the face of great prejudice,
accumulated vast wealth. By turning their attention entirely to trade,
they have been enabled to command respect by reason of their money
solely, so that to-day, especially in this country, they have a very
high standing in the commercial business of the country, and are
gradually increasing it each year, so that it is only a matter of time,
when they will be able to control such business. They give their
children a common school course, then a business course, and then put
them to work as salesmen, rarely ever sending them to college.

We are the real producers of the wealth of the country, especially of
the southern portion, and have that advantage over the Hebrews, who
never produce anything at any time, and yet they strive to control the
business of the entire country. As an evidence of the fact that we are
the real producers, note the large number of mercantile failures when
there is a shortage in the crop. Now then, since we are the producers of
the wealth, why not spend it in a way to benefit ourselves? So long as
the merchant can get our trade without recognition, he will not give
employment to our young men and women, in consideration of that class of
trade, and is sometimes bold enough to say so.

As a case in point, I will state this: A few years ago, a certain
merchant on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D. C., who had and still
has a large trade with the Colored people, especially the better class,
including the families of clerks in the several departments and school
teachers, there being over three hundred of them, was applied to by a
delegation of Colored citizens for a position for a respectable and
well-educated girl, wanting employment. They called his attention to the
fact that he had a very large Colored patronage and that he had
employees representing nearly every other class of people, and that it
would be nothing more than fair to give employment to one Colored
saleswoman. He refused. They gave him to understand that an effort would
be made to withdraw the Colored trade from him, since he would not
recognize it in a substantial way. His reply was: “Gentlemen, you may
make all the efforts you please, but you cannot do it; good day”.

Are we prepared to say that this merchant did not state the fact? I
think not, because he knew our disorganized condition, our inability to
concentrate our strength in a way to make it effective, and therefore
felt free to tell the delegation to their faces, “You cannot do it.” He
spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, because
they could not do it then, and cannot do it now, and never will until
the Colored people are educated to it by force of self-defence.

As parents we are partly responsible for the idleness and unemployed
condition of our young men and women, after they have reached maturity
and left the schools, by neglecting to utilize the means in our hands
for the benefit of our children. After having given them an education
which fits them for higher callings than mere ordinary laborers, we fail
to create these higher places for them, and the children, as a matter of
fact, have been injured rather than benefited by our misdirected
kindness and parental love. To a very large extent this accounts for
the great number of young men and women marching the streets in
idleness, for which we are directly and morally responsible. We have no
just cause for censuring the white people for their conduct toward us in
refusing us recognition. They have done no wrong; they have only taken
advantage of the opportunities we have given them and nothing more. They
know that we are a disorganized people, and while in that condition are
certainly not in a position to strike back when pressed, and therefore
they press us with impunity.

It is not enough to say that the prejudice against us is due to color;
while in part that might be true, there is another and a greater cause,
which in my opinion, fans and keeps alive that hydra-headed monster, and
that is our penniless condition. We are a class of people who represent,
comparatively speaking, nothing, and in the business world absolutely
nothing, although we are the producers of the wealth in several States,
as has already been stated, we have no voice in the barter and sale of

The laws are made by and for the business men of all countries and not
in the interest of the laboring classes. The business men are the
law-makers in this Country and of course shape the laws to suit their
own interests. My candid belief is, that more respect will be shown us,
when we are represented in the business world, and I think we should
make an effort to be represented in the various lines of business as
other Americans. We have tried various plans, looking to success, and
have not attained it to a very satisfactory degree, and I think the time
has come for us to try something new. If we were a distinct race, as
some writers who have not given the subject much thought assert, the
advice to make an effort would be superfluous, because being a race we
would necessarily be a united people, aiding one another in efforts to
rise. Circumstances compel us to be a distinct class of Americans,
without regard to shades of color; because we have many among us who are
as white as any Caucasian, but when the fact is known that they have in
their veins the slight admixture of African blood, whether they are of
light or dark hue, they are all classed as Colored people, treated as
such, and might as well mingle as such, allowing character only to be
the dividing line. The fact is this, we are all Colored people and must
hold together as such, if we expect to succeed, remembering that in
union there is strength, and the old adage which is a good one, that it
is better to be a king among dogs than a dog among kings.

I have thus far tried to show some of the causes operating against our
progress and the part we have acted or taken against our own best
interests, in our blind efforts to succeed. And now as to the remedy.

Our ministers see the necessity of our being more closely united in a
business way. They picture the good results that will follow such
action, and like Rev. Dr. Seaton, of Georgetown, D. C., heartily approve
such a course, and at the same time lay the blame for non-action at the
doors of our political leaders, by saying that they should have been
advising, urging and educating our people, up to this essential
necessity long ago. Our political leaders also see the necessity of such
action on our part, and have advised us, whenever they had a chance to
be heard, to be more closely united, but they insist that little good
can be accomplished until our ministers become interested in the
matter. Here it is seen that both classes of leaders see the need of and
admit the necessity for such action, and yet both remain comparatively
inactive. Not being a minister or a political leader, I feel myself
competent to decide this question without prejudice and therefore state
that, in my opinion, it is the failure of our spiritual advisers to
discharge their whole duty towards their congregations, and I will
mention some of my reasons for making this assertion. In the first place
our ministers wield a greater influence over the people than any other
class of men, and can if they choose, lead them into almost any measure
they may wish them to adopt. They have led them to contribute of their
meagre earnings, the large sums of money invested in church property,
located in every State. It was raised by the untiring efforts of our
spiritual advisers, a little at a time; so that it is claimed that the
Colored people of the United States, own over two hundred million
dollars worth in church property, and support fifteen thousand
ministers, at an annual cost of seven and a half million dollars a

[A] The above figures are furnished by Rev. F. J. Grimke, of the
Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D. C., from which I
make the estimate of five hundred dollars as the average cost of each
minister, which I think very reasonable.

By the payment of such a large sum annually, without a murmur on our
part, it would seem quite reasonable that we are entitled to and should
have not only the spiritual, but the temporal advice as well, for we
need it badly. Again, our ministers are always in touch with their
congregations and see their needs, have their undivided attention
whenever desired, talk to them, selecting their own subjects every
week, about saving souls, and the course they should pursue to
accomplish that desirable result. All this is very good, and they love
their pastors for showing them the way to eternal life, but it seems to
me that while the ministers have their ears, confidence and continued
attention, and knowing their divided and thereby weakened condition,
should, if they have any genuine pride in them, take advantage of their
position and give them some instruction as to the caring for the body,
as well as the soul. If they will do this, as though it were really a
religious duty, advising them mutually to aid one another with their
patronage, they will have rendered their people a lasting service.

There is hardly a doubt, that our ministers have an advantage over our
political leaders in this; they have the people before them every week,
and therefore have a better opportunity to advise and urge them towards
united action, than the political leader, who may not have a chance to
address his people more than once or twice in a year, and that at some
celebration. I am decidedly of the opinion that the various religious
bodies in this country, supported by us, should instruct their ministers
and see that they carry it out, to devote more time to the temporal care
of their congregations, by teaching and urging upon them the necessity
of being more closely united as a people; that in union there is
strength; that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Our
ministers can unite us, and they alone can. Will they make the effort?

Those among us who have accumulated wealth have done so single-handed
and alone, and against great odds, and in nearly every case by dealing
with white men, rarely with a majority of Colored customers. I cannot
recall a single instance where a Colored merchant, relying solely upon
the patronage of his own people, has succeeded. That old idea drilled
into them during slavery, that white people are better than Colored
people, is still in them, notwithstanding their denial of the fact, for
it is shown in their actions, in the purchase of what they need and in
the employment of skilled workmen. If the job is a small one, amounting
to a few dollars, we may give it to a colored workman, but if it is a
large one, we give it to a white man, who will then send, probably, the
Colored bidder to do the work, and we are satisfied. And as to our
purchases, we act as though the white man’s goods were better than those
of the Colored man. In this respect the upper as well as the lower
classes of Colored people need training badly, a fact which many of us,
who are now or have been in business will confirm.

When we are ripe for it, there will appear Colored men with means ready
to enter nearly every line of business, who are now afraid to do so,
because of the fact that they cannot rely upon their own people for

We recognize three distinct grades among us; namely, the wealthy or
those who have acquired money, supporting their families in the style
that aristocratic Americans do; the working class including those
engaged in business, professors, tradesmen, and the daily laborers; the
third and last class includes the shiftless, worthless, and thoroughly
degraded. Many prejudiced white people affect to know but one grade, and
that the lowest always, and promptly charge all crimes committed by that
class to the Colored people generally, taking that class as a criterion
by which to judge the entire people, placing men like Frederick Douglass
on a par with this degraded class, in speaking to him about them as
“your people.” They know as well as they know anything, that Mr.
Douglass has no more dealings or association with that class of Colored
people, than Chauncey M. Depew has with the roughs and thugs of New
York. It really makes me feel hurt to hear white men who, I believe,
know better than to talk that way, men who will never reach Mr.
Douglass’s standing, if they live to be old as Methuselah.

It would be well for us to remember, that we cannot always be considered
as little helpless babes, and therefore objects of charity by the white
philanthropists of this country. They have been very liberal towards us
in their donations to establish institutions of learning, not only in
the common branches, but the higher as well, so that we have a large
number of colleges and universities sustained by donations from the
white people, regardless of politics. We own many million dollars worth
of school property, located in the South, which came to us by donation,
besides a large amount invested in church property, much of which came
in the same way. The charitably-disposed white people of this country
have been very good to us, but we are now nearly thirty-year old
children, and these philanthropists will find that out some day and
cease their liberality upon the ground, that we are old enough to take
care of ourselves. Can we dispute this fact? I think not. We will have
to meet the obstacles I have referred to at no distant day, and should
be paving the way to that end, so as to be prepared for them when the
time comes. If there is a better plan than the one I have suggested, one
more practical, let it not be only stated, but adopted and put into
active operation, for we cannot expect to succeed with so many
difficulties, as we are now forced to encounter, unless we unite
ourselves more closely.

In addition to present obligations as members of our several religious
creeds, we should have one obligation, pledging our support and
patronage to each other in preference to any other class. As already
stated, we are morally and religiously responsible for the conduct and
character assumed by our children in after life. If as parents, we have
discharged our whole duty towards them, and have complied with divine
instruction in accordance with Proverbs xxii. 6: “Train up a child in
the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” we
need have no fear as to our childrens’ success in after life.

One almost neglected field of labor in which our ministers should spend
more time and attention in their efforts for reform, and one which is in
the line of their special calling, is this: A very large number of
supposed Christian people, members of churches, in most cases in good
standing, entertain and practice a false idea of the virtue of prayer,
believing honestly that it is the panacea for every evil, and cure for
ever wrong committed, even intentionally. They believe that any crime
committed against the law of the land, or any violation of the laws of
God, can be atoned for by prayer; or in other words, they believe that
they can steal the goods and chattels of another, and without making
restitution go to the Lord in prayer, and that he will forgive them and
allow them to retain the stolen goods. Among the illiterate class of
Colored people, this false idea or misconception of divine law is
practiced entirely too much. Our ministers should turn their attention
to the eradication of this evil practice or false conception of the word
of God. In a large degree, in my opinion, this accounts for the great
number of church members, in good standing, before the police and other
courts, charged with petty larceny.

There is another evil practice which is closely allied to the one above
described, and needs the attention of our teachers and preachers badly.
It is this, religion without morality. We have too many immoral
religionists in our churches. There are members of our churches
apparently filled with religion, as it were, and at the same time
totally devoid of morality. I can conceive of a moral man without
religion, but I cannot conceive of a religious man devoid of morality.

Among the illiterate and also the shiftless class of Colored people
these seeming incongruities exist, and herein lies work for our educated
ministers and our Christian teachers to show the right. We want pure men
and women, honest, upright, reliable, and trustworthy in every station,
and to obtain them we must raise up our children correctly, or in other
words, we must raise them up to be truthful and self-respecting. The
young man or young woman possessing these qualities will succeed even in
adversity, for these traits of character will be of incalculable benefit
to them in obtaining and filling responsible positions.

With the aid of our ministers, the reforms I have mentioned can be
obtained, and our ministers will have made themselves our leaders in
fact, and we will have been placed under renewed obligation to them, and
will also be placed in a better condition to respond to their support
than we have been in the past. Will they undertake this great reform,
and continue to persevere until their efforts shall be crowned with
success? I hope and pray they will.

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In this closing chapter I shall try to give more of my personal history
than has been stated in the preceding ones; for in those I spoke only of
matters and things as I saw them, and incidentally mentioned the wrongs
we suffered, the causes leading up to them and the remedy. But in this
chapter, as stated above, I shall confine myself more closely to my own
personal history and experience.

By the winter of 1867-1868, I had, by hard work and strict economy,
since the close of the war, saved up five hundred dollars, with which I
bought out a small business fronting on the levee at Leavenworth,
Kansas, and made money out of it from the day I took possession. I
immediately had improvements made to the extent of two hundred dollars,
and thought I had a bonanza. Being located in an old frame building, I
could get but two hundred dollars insurance on my stock, and it was good
that I got that much, for within sixty days from the time I bought the
place it was destroyed by fire, with its contents. I had the two hundred
dollars only. I then secured another location, and with the assistance
of the firm of Haas & Co., merchants of that city, I was partly on my
feet again, although in debt to them for my stock of merchandise. I
succeeded in paying off my debts and getting a fair living out of the
business, and continued it until the fall of 1870, when I transferred it
to Atchison, Kansas, where I still continued in the same business until
the fall of 1875, when it, too, was destroyed by fire, entailing a loss
of six hundred dollars. I then rented the brick building on the corner
of Fourth and Commercial streets, owned by Hon. C. C. Burnes, and opened
again, and continued the business until the fall of 1878, when I was
forced to close for want of cash. I had bills due me for groceries
amounting to thirty-three hundred dollars, which I could not collect,
due in part to two causes: a very severe winter, and the very dry summer
which followed, in which the farmers’ crops were entire failures. My
liabilities were about one thousand dollars, which I could not meet, and
was forced to the wall. I have never been able to collect over ten per
cent. of those bills, which are now dead by limitation of statutes.

About this time I found myself without money, and had a wife and four
children to support. A friend advanced me money enough to buy two
express teams, one of which I drove, and the driver of the other was
paid one half of the cash he collected. I made a fair living out of that
business, repaid the borrowed money, and had some cash on hand, when I
received the Republican nomination for the Legislature from the Fourth
Legislative District of Kansas, in the fall of 1880. After a hard fought
campaign I was defeated by Hon. George W. Click, by twenty-five votes,
out of a total of nine hundred and fifty. That defeat was a very severe
blow to me, because I had spent, in what is called legitimate election
expense, every dollar that I had saved up.

Soon after the day of election, business grew very dull, and winter set
in early and was very severe, so that from November 6, 1880, to January
10, 1881, I experienced the hardest time I ever saw. I had a family to
support and my mules to feed, as they did not earn money enough to buy
their feed. By the efforts of Senators L. M. Briggs, A. S. Everest, J.
W. Rector, Ira Collins, Richard Blue, and others, I was elected
Doorkeeper of the State Senate, January 10, 1881. That election was a
Godsend to me at that time, for I was hard pressed for cash, so much so,
that I did not have money necessary to pay my fare to Topeka, to be
sworn in, and I borrowed ten dollars from Colonel John A. Martin.

The pay was twenty-one dollars per week, which amount carried me through
the winter, and to the close of the session.

After the adjournment of the Legislature and my return home, General W.
W. Guthrie secured for me the position of foreman of a gang of forty-two
Colored men to work a construction train on the A. & N. Rail Road,
between Atchison, Kansas, and Lincoln, Nebraska. The salary paid me was
fifty dollars per month. I promptly accepted the position, and held it
until August, 1881, when my brother, who was then Register of the United
States Treasury, telegraphed that he could get me a position in the Post
Office Department, at Washington, at a salary of seven hundred and
twenty dollars per annum, with a chance of promotion. This I considered
a permanent job, and one less dangerous, and I accepted it and came on
to Washington.

After one year’s service in the Money Order Division of that Department,
and no promotion or prospect of one, my brother secured an appointment
for me in the Pension Office, at the salary of one thousand dollars per
annum, and I was sworn in, September 22, 1882, as an examiner, which
position I have held ever since. I was promoted to Class One in the fall
of 1886, and to Class Two in the summer of 1889. Of course, I
appreciated these honors, and felt proud of them, probably more than
some other men would have done. And why should I not, when I recall that
I was a slave at the age of twenty-nine years, then freed without a
dollar, could not write my name at the close of the war, but by close
study since then, had reached these positions?

Having served under every Commissioner who has held the office of
Commissioner of Pensions since September, 1882, and having had a good
opportunity for observing the administration of the office by each,
candor compels me to state, that General John C. Black filled that chair
with more dignity, ability, and impartiality, than any of those under
whom I have served. He held no “Star Chamber” investigations. If one
clerk preferred charges against another, he was required to put them in
writing, signing his name; then the accused was furnished a copy of said
charges, and given a chance to be heard in his own defense before action
was taken. If unable to meet and refute said charges, then, and not
until then, was action taken.

General Black was Commissioner in fact, when he occupied that position,
and no underling was allowed to dictate to him his duty. No clerk, high
or low, republican or democrat, could leave his desk at will, and go to
have a chat with the Commissioner, without first obtaining a written
permit to do so. I am sorry that I cannot say the same of others under
whom I have served.

General Black had no pets; every employe was required to perform his
duty without favor and irrespective of party or color. He broke up the
rings which had existed in the office, whereby some got easy places,
little work and big pay, came to the office when they pleased, and left
it when they felt like it.

Up to the beginning of General Black’s term of office, examiners had
been rated according to the number of pension claims submitted, either
for admission, rejection or special investigation. Gun shot wound claims
were always considered as easy cases, much more so, than injury or
disease claims, and an examiner who was lucky enough to draw from the
files a bundle of the former class of claims had an advantage over his
fellow clerks, who drew the latter class, because these gunshot wound
cases required very little work to complete them, while the other
classes would require three or four times as much work, and often
covering from one to seven years time in which to obtain the necessary
evidence to establish the claim. I recall an instance, when I saw a
chief of divisions go to the files, select a bundle of gun-shot wound
claims, bring them to a certain examiner’s desk, lay them down, smile
and walk away. Of course, that examiner gained an advantage over others
by the action of his friend.

Soon after assuming charge of the office, General Black issued his
famous order, number 110, whereby all employes were required to be at
their desks at nine o’clock, A.M., and at one o’clock, P.M., thirty
minutes being allowed for lunch, from twelve thirty P.M., and to remain
at their desks, until four o’clock, P.M., when the office closed. Chiefs
of divisions were required to see that order strictly enforced, and to
report all violators of it, to the Commissioner immediately, and he
would require the violator to write him a letter, explaining the cause
of tardiness. If the excuse given was satisfactory to the Commissioner
that ended it, if not, the violator received a severe reprimand through
letter, directly from the Commissioner. So that order number 110, cured
tardiness effectually in the Pension Office, and that order remains in
force to-day and notwithstanding the great number of orders now in
force, every employe has perfect knowledge of old order, number 110.

Up to the spring of 1885, when said order was issued, many favored
employes failed to appear at their place of duty on time. Some were
thirty minutes, and some an hour late; some would leave the office one,
and sometimes two hours before closing time, and this would occur quite
often during the month. These same employes would apply for their thirty
days annual leave and obtain it, just the same as those who had not been

Order, number 110, has been modified in form some what, but its
essential parts are still in force and will remain.

Promotions under General Black’s administration of the Pension Office,
were based upon merit solely, and with respect to Colored men it was
eminently so; for they were Republicans and had no special claims upon a
Democratic administration, and yet I am informed that there were more
Colored men promoted under that administration than under the one
following it. Of course, with other Colored employes, I was quite
scared, when the Democrats carried the country in 1884, thinking that we
would all be discharged, and when we were not, we were very agreeably
surprised. Many white Republican leaders wished it, and some were bold
enough to say that the Colored man would have to go. Among those who
said it was Ex-Senator Ingalls, who stated to me, that he wished the
Democrats would discharge all Republican office holders. I understood
him clearly. He meant it as an aid to solidify the Republican party vote
at the polls. By the failure to discharge the Colored employes, the
thing the Republican leaders most desired, the Democrats made many
friends for their party, and particularly President Cleveland.

Mr. Cleveland’s election in 1884, and assumption of power in March,
1885, however much they regretted it, was a good thing for the
Republican leaders, because they had on hand a lot of old barnacles to
care for, as chiefs of divisions and the like, who, occupying those
positions, were a dead weight to the party, and they had held them so
long, that rings had been formed, whereby none but its members or their
friends stood any chance of promotion, however worthy they might be.
These rings were so well organized, that they could and did defeat the
endorsements of Senators and Members of Congress. When the change came
and these leeches had to step down and out, and new men appointed fresh
from the people, of different views and politics, with no pets, no
favorites and free from ring rule, and whose only duty or desire was to
see the work over which they had charge faithfully performed, then it
was that every employe was required to attend strictly to his duty, and
every one was placed upon a common level.

Some of these deposed chiefs, on account of old age and as a matter of
charity, in some cases, were reduced to clerkships and allowed to
remain; but even then it was hard on them, to be forced to come down to
do clerical work with men whom they had lorded it over, and in some
cases treated unjustly while in power. But after all, the service was
purified by the change, and when the Republicans came to power in March,
1889, they appointed in nearly every case new men from the States to
these chiefships, who were free from rings and cliques, and they ignored
the claims of the old ex-chiefs, who thought they had a monopoly of
these positions, and were bold enough to say so when speaking of them,
as “my old place.”

Of course, the Colored employes were benefited by any change, that put
all on a common level where no favors were shown, and each one was
credited with the amount of work done and nothing more. I have seen men
who had been of the favored class before the change, working hard and
close to retain their present pay in the higher grades to which they had
been promoted over others more deserving. Some of this class of employes
were reduced to a lower grade, and some by hard work and promptness to
duty retained their pay in the higher grades.

My reference to rings relates to the Pension Office exclusively, but I
have been reliably informed that the system obtained also in other
bureaus and departments, especially the Treasury.

Hon. James Tanner, who succeeded General Black, as Commissioner of
Pensions, was an able man and also a good man, and one liked by employes
regardless of politics; and I believe, would have succeeded in the
administration of the office of Commissioner of Pensions, with entire
satisfaction to the country, had he surrounded himself with strong men
as advisers. But he failed to do so and failed as Commissioner, not
because of his inability to discharge the duties of the office, a fact
which can be proven by his previous official life and subsequent
conduct, as an attorney before the various departments of the
Government, but solely because of falling into the hands of weak

Mr. Tanner in turn, was succeeded by Hon. G. B. Raum, a man of details
and rules, who reminded me of what an English correspondent of a London
paper, who was with our army during the late war, wrote of General
McClelland, to his home paper, after seeing the General himself
superintending the laying of a pontoon bridge across some river, an act
which any ordinary army officer could have done with ease. The
correspondent said that General McClelland was a man of details,
spending his time, which should have been devoted to a higher calling,
on matters of minor details, which are the duties of subordinate
officers, and therefore could never be a great general.

General Raum, would have been a _great_ success as general
superintendent of the working force of the office, seeing it done well
and adopting rules best suited for its accomplishment. He acted the part
of superintendent well.

There are chiefs and assistants in every division. A chief clerk and
assistant, a captain of the watch, and a superintendent of the building.
With this large list of officers, one would suppose, that any order
issued could be carried out to the letter, without the personal
attention of the Commissioner, but such was not the case. He could be
seen almost any day giving his personal direction to the divisions,
just as though he had no officer in charge competent to carry out his
orders. He visited every part of the building, even to the wash rooms;
for I have seen him in those rooms abusing the laborers about the
spittoons, etc., not being clean, thus ignoring his captain of the
watch, whose special duty it was to look after such work.

General Raum had no pets or favorites to award easy places, and I think
that he was a man who really wanted to see every employe doing his duty.
He worked hard and wanted others to do the same.

With his record before us as General of Volunteers, Member of Congress,
and later on as United States Internal Revenue Commissioner,--all of
which positions he filled with eminent satisfaction to the country,--can
any one doubt for a moment General Raum’s honesty and ability? I think

His administration of the Pension Office, while it was not up to the
high standard attained by General Black, was the equal of any other
under which I have served, and had he relied more upon his subordinates
to attend to the minor details of the office, and devoted his entire
time to higher questions of law governing pensions, his administration
of that office would have been much more esteemed.

Commissioner Raum was succeeded by Judge William Lochren, the present
incumbent, who, like General John C. Black, belongs to that class of men
who disdain to do small things and whose likes and dislikes of men are
not based upon their color. Therefore, he, like General Black, also
fills the chair of Commissioner of Pensions with dignity and ability.
Exhibiting confidence in the ability of his subordinate officers, to
effectively carry out his instructions, the Commissioner relieves
himself of the objectionable duty of going from room to room to watch
the employes.

Judge Lochren is a disciplinarian and insists upon a strict compliance
with the rules laid down for the government of the working force of the
Pension Office, and allows no favoritism to be shown any employe
regardless of politics, sex or color. All are required to perform their
full duty.

A man whom I regard as thoroughly reliable, informed me that he was
present and heard what was said at an interview between Commissioner
Lochren and a certain chief of a division in the Pension Office, who had
recommended a Colored man employed under him for dismissal, without any
cause assigned or charges preferred against him. It appears that charges
of dereliction of duty, inefficiency or insubordination had been filed
against several employes and after an investigation, three or four of
these employes were recommended for dismissal and the papers for the
same were prepared and laid on the Commissioner’s desk for his
signature. By some means, not explained, the recommendation for
dismissal of a Colored man whose name I shall designate as Mr. L., got
with the other papers, which had been agreed upon for dismissal for
_cause_, and Commissioner Lochren approved, and then sent them to the
Secretary of the Interior, who also approved them, and those employes
were dismissed in a few days thereafter, Mr. L., in the lot. Immediately
upon receiving his notice of discharge, Mr. L., sought and obtained an
interview with the Commissioner of Pensions. During this interview it
became clear to Mr. L., that the Commissioner had no personal knowledge
of his case. Mr. L., then presented his certificate of discharge and
politely asked to know the cause for which he was dismissed. Being
unable to state the cause, the Commissioner asked Mr. L., to leave with
him his certificate of discharge and to call next day, which he did.
Pending this conversation, the Commissioner sent for the division chief,
who made the recommendation for Mr. L’s. discharge, and demanded of him
the grounds upon which he had recommended this man’s dismissal. He could
only state that he did it in order to get a place for a Democrat, and
upon being further questioned, he admitted that there were no charges
against Mr. L., that he was a good man and had discharged his duty
satisfactorily. After hearing his reply, the Commissioner turned to this
chief, very abruptly, and said: “How dare you recommend a man for
dismissal against whom no charges have been preferred? I want you to
understand that this thing must not occur again, and that I will have
Mr. L., reinstated immediately.”

It is needless for me to state that Mr. L., was reinstated within five
days from that date and is now on the pay rolls of the Pension Office,
drawing his little stipend of nine hundred dollars per annum.

It sometimes happens that a _small man_ gets the position of chief of a
division, and by reason of the fact that he has none of the aristocratic
blue blood in his veins, but comes from the lower class of white people,
and is therefore filled with the prejudice of his kind, he will try hard
to get rid of Colored clerks under him, by means which are very
questionable. Cases of this kind are rare, but they have occurred under
Republican as well as Democratic administrations and I state this,
because I have been hearing of such cases during the last fourteen
years. Such white men are in all political parties and whenever elevated
to power over Colored men, will deal them a blow in the back when they
have the opportunity to do so under cover.

Now as to dismissals, reductions and promotions, they have occurred
under every administration following a change of political control. They
occurred during President Cleveland’s first term and again under
President Harrison’s administration, and it is quite reasonable to
expect them to occur under the present regime; _because the party in
power, will always find some means by which they are enabled to place
their political friends in good places_. It was the practice under
Republican rule, and it is the practice under Democratic rule and, in my
opinion, it will always be the custom, not only in the Pension Bureau,
but in all the departments of the government, even at the expense of
reducing their opponents to lower grade in pay.

Of the one hundred and twenty-five Colored employes, borne on the
pay-rolls of the United States Pension Office, on November 7, 1892,
there was only one man who claimed to be a Democrat, and he hails from
the South and was then, and is now, a $1400 clerk. There were four or
five Colored employes, who opposed President Harrison’s renomination,
but when he received it they quieted down like good party men, but after
Harrison’s defeat, they commenced to trim sail, as it were, and by March
5, 1893, they had become fullfledged “After Election Democrats.”

So as a matter of fact, we had no special hold upon a Democratic
administration for favors in the shape of promotions. There were one
hundred and twenty-five Colored men on the pay-rolls of the United
States Pension Office, March 5, 1893, and there are now, March 30, 1895,
borne on said rolls, the names of one hundred and twenty-three Colored
employes, showing that we have lost only two men since the Democratic
party regained control.

The records of this office show the following:

    Number of Colored employes on the rolls March 5, 1893:

    Clerks                                 92
    Labor Roll                             33
        Total                             125

    Number of Colored employes appointed since March 5, 1893:

    Clerks                                  1
    Labor Roll                             18
        Total                              19

    Number of clerks discharged             7
    Number discharged from Labor Roll      14
        Total                              21

    Number of clerks reduced               20
    Number of clerks promoted               8
    Number now on rolls                   123

Among the twenty clerks reduced, from a higher to lower grade of pay, my
name occurs, but as it was a political matter purely, and did not
reflect upon my efficiency as a clerk, and only reduced me from fourteen
to twelve hundred dollars, I felt that there was no cause afforded me
to grumble and did not do so. And although being one of the unlucky
number, I am free to say, that Colored employes have been fairly treated
thus far, under Judge Lochren’s administration, and so far as my own
personal treatment goes, I can say truthfully, that I never received
more respect and kindness under any administration, than I have under
the officers of this, from the Commissioner down to my section chief.

Like most people in the States, who have only a vague idea of a
clerkship in the departments of the government at Washington, I thought
a position in one of these departments was a bonanza, and that I could
save at least one half of my salary every month, and that any clerk who
did not do so was a spendthrift, and ought not to be retained. I soon
learned that nearly everything one needed costs more here than the same
article would cost in the States, besides, one is almost compelled to
board and room at a first class place, and pay a higher rate for
whatever article he needed, in order to be classed with respectable
people. If one stopped at a cheap house with second-class people, that
act alone settled his status in Washington society.

There are private and public boarding houses here, which furnish room
and board at from twelve to forty dollars per month, so that one can
take his choice as to place and price, but the usual price paid by
Department clerks for room, board and washing, is about twenty-five
dollars per month. A decent house here, with modern improvements, cannot
be rented for less than twenty-five dollars per month, nor a front room
for less than ten dollars for the same period. One will soon find that
he must dress in the latest style, if he wishes to be on a par with his
fellow clerks, and to do that he is required to go dressed up in his
best clothes every day, thereby making his clothing bill twice or three
times what it would be in the States. Of course, there is no regulation
requiring-clerks to appear at their desks dressed in their best clothes,
but there is an implied understanding, that poorly dressed employes are
to be classed with the lower grade of Washington society, a position not
desired, because it is generally believed that a clerk who is too stingy
to spend money so as to appear at his desk decently dressed, is not a
fit subject for promotion. At any rate, in my opinion and experience,
such persons seldom, if ever, are recommended for a higher grade, and
what I state here applies to lady clerks and gentlemen alike.

So that a new clerk from the States, receiving an appointment here,
thinks for the first few weeks that he is going to save money, and not
only that, but he is going to set an example of economy to his fellow
clerks. But he soon finds that he cannot do it, and if he would command
respect and association, he must do as he sees others do, and like an
adept, he falls in, convinced that his fellow clerks are not
spendthrifts after all. There are several other lessons the new clerk
learns, after he is sworn into the Departmental service, especially if
he came in through examination under Civil Service Rules; that there are
old clerks here, who are competent to teach him many things which he
failed to learn at school, and that the ideas he had previously formed,
touching the ability of government clerks, who were appointed prior to
the passage of the Civil Service Act, were erroneous. To his surprise,
he finds men and women in the Departments here, highly cultivated and
well posted in the very latest literature of the day, and competent to
take a leading part in almost any of the historical and scientific
researches of recent date. So that the newcomer, although having
successfully passed a civil service examination, and received an
appointment based thereon, must take his position at the foot of the
class, as it were, and go to work to even hold that position, for it has
often happened that such clerks have been dropped after six months
service--“cause, Inefficiency,” while older clerks, because of their
efficiency, hold on.

One of the first lessons a new appointee should learn, and I might say
the most important one, is entire and complete subordination, for
without this he cannot succeed. He must make up his mind to lay aside
what he calls his manly instincts and personal independence, and resolve
to submissively obey all orders of his superiors without a murmur, even
though they are not stated exactly in accordance with the rules of
syntax, laid down by Lindley Murray. He will also find that he must so
act as to win the respect and confidence of his superiors in office, and
to so live as to hold them, and to do this, he must be a gentleman away
from the office as well as in it, for if he keeps bad company, the
report of it will eventually reach his superiors, and thereby affect his
standing materially. A new clerk will not be here very long before he
will find that in addition to these other necessary requirements, that
“Influence” counts a good deal, and without it one can make slow headway
singlehanded and alone, trusting to his own ability. To obtain social
standing and influence, one must associate with the better class of
people, and to do that he must be of clean character, if he expects to
obtain _entre_ therein. The various Departments of the government here
are run by old and experienced clerks, who have spent a large part of
their lives in this service, and cannot well be displaced by the new
ones, however intelligent they may be. The fitness of these old clerks
is proved by long, efficient and faithful service. They also very
clearly understand the value of influence, and know just when, where and
how to bring it to bear. They are regular diplomats.

But aside from other considerations, these men have devoted their lives
to the service, grown old in it, and are content, and I might say,
fitted to this kind of work to the exclusion of all other work. They
cannot go out into the world and make a decent living on their own wits,
and therefore should be let alone, because the government has received
the benefit of their best days of service, and should not cast them out
on account of old age, at least, to “go over the hill to the poor

[Illustration: THE END.]


Probably the most unique work of its kind will be Mr. H. C. Bruce’s
book, “The New Man.” It is ostensibly the author’s autobiography, but he
has made more of it than a simple narrative by interweaving with his own
experience much of the history of the ante-bellum days and very many
vivid descriptions of the habits and customs of the Old South.

One of the most conspicuous features of this book is the entire absence
of the passion usually displayed when former slaves refer to their past
bondage. Yet without this very dispassionateness no history can be
authentic. We may be fascinated by the elegant style of an historian,
but the fascination changes to doubt in the presence of his evident bias
and his expressed prejudice.

Mr. Bruce felt his bondage--all slaves felt it--but he has been fair
enough, and I may add courageous enough, to say that within his
experience and observation, savagery and brutality in the treatment of
slaves were the exception and not the rule. The great wrong was in the
enslavement _per se_ of a fellow-man. Why, he argues, would a man abuse
and over-work and starve his slave, a valuable piece of property, any
more than he would poorly feed or maltreat his horse or his ox? His own
self-interest would require good treatment in order to secure good
results from the labor of his slaves. There were harsh, even brutal
masters, but Mr. Bruce claims that these were usually found among a
class of people who were low bred, and he asserts that the cruelties of
slavery could be as easily traced to this class of white men, as we can
trace to a similar class to-day the proscriptions, and persecutions and
hardships that are suffered by the better element of Colored people.

If left to themselves, Mr. Bruce believes, there would be the best of
feeling between the old aristocrat and his former slave, and the world
would not be periodically shocked by the intelligence of lynching bees
and burnings.

To me, Mr. Bruce’s accounts of the old highway system, with the then
prevailing modes of travel and trade, are as instructive as they are
interesting. But this is only one of the many valuable contributions to
history, with which the book abounds.

Mr. Bruce’s narration of his experiences begins with his childhood, when
he was encouraged by his master to eat and play on his Virginia farm,
and carries the reader through the intervening years, until when at
Brunswick, practically in charge of his master’s business, the war came
and changed a nominal freedom into an actual freedom.

Another prominent feature of the book, is Mr. Bruce’s contention that
the two classes of people in the South should not divide along the line
of race or color, and in this connection he furnishes argument to
support his condemnation of the common blooded blacks and whites alike,
whose bad conduct he asserts has brought shame and disgrace, and misery
upon the better classes of white and Colored people of the South.

All the way through the book sets the reader to thinking and whoever may
peruse its pages will be amply repaid for his time, and the reader may
rest assured that he will not find it a task to read what Mr. Bruce has
written. So far from this he will find that, after reading the first
page, he will have a desire to read the second page, and his interest
will increase to the end of the book.

                                       J. H. N. WARING, M. D.,

         WASHINGTON, D. C. Supervisor Public Schools.

            WASHINGTON, D. C., _April 19th, 1895_.

I have read in manuscript, Mr. H. C. Bruce’s book, “The New Man,” and
have been greatly interested in its perusal. It gives us a very novel,
and I am sure a truthful glimpse of the life of the slave. I think it
the only book that fairly represents the relations of the master and
slave. Other books have been written on this topic, but they have been
written for the purpose of inflaming prejudice, and the horrors of slave
life appear to be greatly exaggerated. Mr. Bruce, however, has a simple
story to tell and does it well.

This book may be read with profit by the Colored race for the example it
affords. The author was a slave until his twenty-ninth year, but by
diligence and hard work, in the face of all opposition, he has succeeded
in educating himself and gaining positions of honor and trust.

I commend this book to any one who desires to get a true idea of the
old-time slave in the cotton fields of the South.

                   THOS. FEATHERSTONHAUGH.
                 Medical Referee, Bureau of Pensions.


We have been permitted to examine the manuscript of a projected book,
the subject and the style of which will, we think, prove extremely
interesting to the general public. It is the work of a Colored man, a
resident of this city, and an employe of the Pension Office--Henry C.
Bruce, a brother of Hon. B. K. Bruce, once United States Senator from
Mississippi, and latterly Recorder of Deeds from the District of
Columbia. It is the unpretentious story, simply and directly told, of a
Colored man twenty-nine years a slave. The earlier chapters contain the
record of his life during ante-bellum days, his experiences under
slavery as a child, youth, and a grown man, the joys, the sorrows, the
privations, the pleasures, and the vicissitudes which came to him in
turn. The closing chapters tell of the conditions with which
emancipation confronted him, what helps and hindrances he encountered in
his new career, through what changing fortune he made his way to comfort
and independence.

We doubt whether there is to be found in literature anything of its kind
at once as authentic and as entertaining. The writer is not a
professional Colored man. He is not conspicuous in protest against the
attitude of the white people toward the race. He does not claim to have
been a bleeding martyr during his term of slavery. He does not picture
the old southern proprietor class as monsters and tyrants--quite the
contrary--or pretend that all the virtue, kindness, worth, and loyalty
of that section was to be found in the Negroes. The fact is, that Mr.
Bruce writes of the period during which he lived in bondage in Virginia,
Mississippi, and Missouri, very much as his own master would have
written--truthfully, fairly, philosophically. It is evident that he
cherishes no resentful feeling toward those in whose service he spent
the first half of his life. Indeed, one can see that he has for them the
truest affection and regard. If there be one sentiment which, more than
any other, runs through the whole narrative from beginning to end, it is
the sentiment of pride in the old southern aristocracy, and contempt for
every other type and variety of white man. He is loyal to his own
people, in the highest and truest meaning of loyalty, but for the slave
owners as he knew them, he has the sense of gratitude and justice strong
within him.

The book is full of wisdom and kindness. Here and there are touches of
shrewd observations which the Colored people will do well to ponder and
reflect upon. And not the least valuable and creditable feature of Mr.
Bruce’s work is to be found in the candid, generous, and fair comment he
indulges as to the management of the Pension Office under Messrs. Black,
Raum, and Lochren. It is refreshing, indeed, to find a Colored man
writing so intelligently of slavery during his own term of bondage, and
of race issues and politics, in which for thirty years past he has been
an active, if a modest and unostentatious participant.--_Washington
Post, April 14, 1895._

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