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Title: Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave - Second Edition
Author: Brown, William Wells
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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     ------------Is there not some chosen curse,
     Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven,
     Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
     Who gains his fortune from the blood of souls?




[Illustration: Wm. W. Brown.

Eng.d at 66 State St. from a Dag.tp of Chase

R. Andrews Print.]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

Stereotyped by


Thirteen years ago, I came to your door, a weary fugitive from chains
and stripes. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was hungry, and
you fed me. Naked was I, and you clothed me. Even a name by which to be
known among men, slavery had denied me. You bestowed upon me your own.
Base, indeed, should I be, if I ever forget what I owe to you, or do
anything to disgrace that honored name!

As a slight testimony of my gratitude to my earliest benefactor, I take
the liberty to inscribe to you this little narrative of the sufferings
from which I was fleeing when you had compassion upon me. In the
multitude that you have succored, it is very possible that you may not
remember me; but until I forget God and myself, I can never forget you.

Your grateful friend,


The first edition, of three thousand copies, of this little work
was sold in less than six months from the time of its publication.
Encouraged by the rapid sale of the first, and by a demand for a
second, edition, the author has been led to enlarge the work by the
addition of matter which, he thinks, will add materially to its value.

And if it shall be instrumental in helping to undo the heavy burdens,
and letting the oppressed go free, he will have accomplished the great
desire of his heart in publishing this work.




DEDHAM, JULY 1, 1847.


MY DEAR FRIEND:--I heartily thank you for the privilege of
reading the manuscript of your Narrative. I have read it with deep
interest and strong emotion. I am much mistaken if it be not greatly
successful and eminently useful. It presents a different phase of the
infernal slave-system from that portrayed in the admirable story of
Mr. Douglass, and gives us a glimpse of its hideous cruelties in other
portions of its domain.

Your opportunities of observing the workings of this accursed system
have been singularly great. Your experiences in the Field, in the
House, and especially on the River in the service of the slave-trader,
Walker, have been such as few individuals have had;--no one, certainly,
who has been competent to describe them. What I have admired, and
marvelled at, in your Narrative, is the simplicity and calmness with
which you describe scenes and actions which might well "move the very
stones to rise and mutiny" against the National Institution which makes
them possible.

You will perceive that I have made very sparing use of your flattering
permission to alter what you had written. To correct a few errors,
which appeared to be merely clerical ones, committed in the hurry
of composition under unfavorable circumstances, and to suggest a
few curtailments, is all that I have ventured to do. I should be a
bold man, as well as a vain one, if I should attempt to improve your
descriptions of what you have seen and suffered. Some of the scenes are
not unworthy of De Foe himself.

I trust and believe that your Narrative will have a wide circulation. I
am sure it deserves it. At least, a man must be differently constituted
from me, who can rise from the perusal of your Narrative without
feeling that he understands slavery better, and hates it worse, than he
ever did before.

I am, very faithfully and respectfully,
Your friend,


The friends of freedom may well congratulate each other on the
appearance of the following Narrative. It adds another volume to the
rapidly increasing anti-slavery literature of the age. It has been
remarked by a close observer of human nature, "Let me make the songs
of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws;" and it may with equal
truth be said, that, among a reading people like our own, their books
will at least give character to their laws. It is an influence which
goes forth noiselessly upon its mission, but fails not to find its
way to many a warm heart, to kindle on the altar thereof the fires of
freedom, which will one day break forth in a living flame to consume

This little book is a voice from the prison-house, unfolding the
deeds of darkness which are there perpetrated. Our cause has received
efficient aid from this source. The names of those who have come from
thence, and battled manfully for the right, need not to be recorded
here. The works of some of them are an enduring monument of praise, and
their perpetual record shall be found in the grateful hearts of the
redeemed bondman.

Few persons have had greater facilities for becoming acquainted with
slavery, in all its horrible aspects, than WILLIAM W. BROWN. He has
been behind the curtain. He has visited its secret chambers. Its iron
has entered his own soul. The dearest ties of nature have been riven
in his own person. A mother has been cruelly scourged before his own
eyes. A father--alas! slaves have no father. A brother has been made
the subject of its tender mercies. A sister has been given up to the
irresponsible control of the pale-faced oppressor. This nation looks on
approvingly. The American Union sanctions the deed. The constitution
shields the criminals. American religion sanctifies the crime. But the
tide is turning. Already, a mighty under-current is sweeping onward.
The voice of warning, of remonstrance, of rebuke, of entreaty, has gone
forth. Hand is linked in hand, and heart mingles with heart, in this
great work of the slave's deliverance.

The convulsive throes of the monster, even now, give evidence of deep

The writer of this Narrative was hired by his master to a
"_soul-driver_," and has witnessed all the horrors of the traffic,
from the buying up of human cattle in the slave-breeding states, which
produced a constant scene of separating the victims from all those whom
they loved, to their final sale in the southern market, to be worked
up in seven years, or given over to minister to the lust of southern

Many harrowing scenes are graphically portrayed; and yet with that
simplicity and ingenuousness which carries with it a conviction of the
truthfulness of the picture.

This book will do much to unmask those who have "clothed themselves in
the livery of the court of heaven" to cover up the enormity of their

During the past three years, the author has devoted his entire energies
to the anti-slavery cause. Laboring under all the disabilities and
disadvantages growing out of his education in slavery--subjected, as he
had been from his birth, to all the wrongs and deprivations incident
to his condition--he yet went forth, impelled to the work by a love of
liberty--stimulated by the remembrance of his own sufferings--urged
on by the consideration that a mother, brothers, and sister, were
still grinding in the prison-house of bondage, in common with three
millions of our Father's children--sustained by an unfaltering faith
in the omnipotence of truth and the final triumph of justice--to plead
the cause of the slave; and by the eloquence of earnestness carried
conviction to many minds, and enlisted the sympathy and secured the
coöperation of many to the cause.

His labors have been chiefly confined to Western New York, where he has
secured many warm friends, by his untiring zeal, persevering energy,
continued fidelity, and universal kindness.

Reader, are you an Abolitionist? What have you done for the slave?
What are you doing in his behalf? What do you purpose to do? There is
a great work before us! Who will be an idler now? This is the great
humanitary movement of the age, swallowing up, for the time being, all
other questions, comparatively speaking. The course of human events, in
obedience to the unchangeable laws of our being, is fast hastening the
final crisis, and

     "Have ye chosen, O my people, on whose party ye shall stand,
     Ere the Doom from its worn sandal shakes the dust against our land?"

Are you a Christian? This is the carrying out of practical
Christianity; and there is no other. Christianity is _practical_ in
its very nature and essence. It is a life, springing out of a soul
imbued with its spirit. Are you a friend of the missionary cause? This
is the greatest missionary enterprise of the day. Three millions of
_Christian_, law-manufactured heathen are longing for the glad tidings
of the gospel of freedom. Are you a friend of the Bible? Come, then,
and help us to restore to these millions, whose eyes have been bored
out by slavery, their sight, that they may see to read the Bible.
Do you love God whom you have not seen? Then manifest that love, by
restoring to your brother whom you have seen his rightful inheritance,
of which he has been so long and so cruelly deprived.

It is not for a single generation alone, numbering three
millions--sublime as would be that effort--that we are working. It is
for HUMANITY, the wide world over, not only now, but for all
coming time, and all future generations:--

     "For he who settles Freedom's principles,
     Writes the death-warrant of all tyranny."

It is a vast work--a glorious enterprise--worthy the unswerving
devotion of the entire life-time of the great and the good.

Slaveholding and slaveholders must be rendered disreputable and odious.
They must be stripped of their respectability and Christian reputation.
They must be treated as "MEN-STEALERS--guilty of the highest kind of
theft, and sinners of the first rank." Their more guilty accomplices in
the persons of _northern apologists_, both in Church and State, must
be placed in the same category. Honest men must be made to look upon
their crimes with the same abhorrence and loathing with which they
regard the less guilty robber and assassin, until

     "The common damned shun their society,
     And look upon themselves as fiends less foul."

When a just estimate is placed upon the crime of slave-holding, the
work will have been accomplished, and the glorious day ushered in--

     "When man nor woman in all our wide domain,
     Shall buy, or sell, or hold, or be a slave."

_Farmington, N. Y., 1847._

[Illustration: The author caught by the bloodhounds. (See p. 21.)]



I was born in Lexington, Ky. The man who stole me as soon as I was
born, recorded the births of all the infants which he claimed to
be born his property, in a book which he kept for that purpose. My
mother's name was Elizabeth. She had seven children, viz.: Solomon,
Leander, Benjamin, Joseph, Millford, Elizabeth, and myself. No two of
us were children of the same father. My father's name, as I learned
from my mother, was George Higgins. He was a white man, a relative of
my master, and connected with some of the first families in Kentucky.

My master owned about forty slaves, twenty-five of whom were field
hands. He removed from Kentucky to Missouri when I was quite young,
and settled thirty or forty miles above St. Charles, on the Missouri,
where, in addition to his practice as a physician, he carried on
milling, merchandizing and farming. He had a large farm, the principal
productions of which were tobacco and hemp. The slave cabins were
situated on the back part of the farm, with the house of the overseer,
whose name was Grove Cook, in their midst. He had the entire charge of
the farm, and having no family, was allowed a woman to keep house for
him, whose business it was to deal out the provisions for the hands.

A woman was also kept at the quarters to do the cooking for the field
hands, who were summoned to their unrequited toil every morning at four
o'clock, by the ringing of a bell, hung on a post near the house of the
overseer. They were allowed half an hour to eat their breakfast, and
get to the field. At half past four a horn was blown by the overseer,
which was the signal to commence work; and every one that was not on
the spot at the time, had to receive ten lashes from the negro-whip,
with which the overseer always went armed. The handle was about three
feet long, with the butt-end filled with lead, and the lash, six or
seven feet in length, made of cow-hide, with platted wire on the end
of it. This whip was put in requisition very frequently and freely,
and a small offence on the part of a slave furnished an occasion for
its use. During the time that Mr. Cook was overseer, I was a house
servant--a situation preferable to that of a field hand, as I was
better fed, better clothed, and not obliged to rise at the ringing of
the bell, but about half an hour after. I have often laid and heard the
crack of the whip, and the screams of the slave. My mother was a field
hand, and one morning was ten or fifteen minutes behind the others in
getting into the field. As soon as she reached the spot where they were
at work, the overseer commenced whipping her. She cried, "Oh! pray--Oh!
pray--Oh! pray"--these are generally the words of slaves, when
imploring mercy at the hands of their oppressors. I heard her voice,
and knew it, and jumped out of my bunk, and went to the door. Though
the field was some distance from the house, I could hear every crack of
the whip, and every groan and cry of my poor mother. I remained at the
door, not daring to venture any further. The cold chills ran over me,
and I wept aloud. After giving her ten lashes, the sound of the whip
ceased, and I returned to my bed, and found no consolation but in my
tears. Experience has taught me that nothing can be more heart-rending
than for one to see a dear and beloved mother or sister tortured, and
to hear their cries, and not be able to render them assistance. But
such is the position which an American slave occupies.

My master, being a politician, soon found those who were ready to
put him into office, for the favors he could render them; and a few
years after his arrival in Missouri he was elected to a seat in the
legislature. In his absence from home everything was left in charge of
Mr. Cook, the overseer, and he soon became more tyrannical and cruel.
Among the slaves on the plantation was one by the name of Randall.
He was a man about six feet high, and well-proportioned, and known
as a man of great strength and power. He was considered the most
valuable and able-bodied slave on the plantation; but no matter how
good or useful a slave may be, he seldom escapes the lash. But it was
not so with Randall. He had been on the plantation since my earliest
recollection, and I had never known of his being flogged. No thanks
were due to the master or overseer for this. I have often heard him
declare that no white man should ever whip him--that he would die first.

Cook, from the time that he came upon the plantation, had frequently
declared that he could and would flog any nigger that was put into
the field to work under him. My master had repeatedly told him not to
attempt to whip Randall, but he was determined to try it. As soon as
he was left sole dictator, he thought the time had come to put his
threats into execution. He soon began to find fault with Randall, and
threatened to whip him if he did not do better. One day he gave him
a very hard task--more than he could possibly do; and at night, the
task not being performed, he told Randall that he should remember him
the next morning. On the following morning, after the hands had taken
breakfast, Cook called out to Randall, and told him that he intended to
whip him, and ordered him to cross his hands and be tied. Randall asked
why he wished to whip him. He answered, because he had not finished his
task the day before. Randall said that the task was too great, or he
should have done it. Cook said it made no difference--he should whip
him. Randall stood silent for a moment, and then said, "Mr. Cook, I
have always tried to please you since you have been on the plantation,
and I find you are determined not to be satisfied with my work, let me
do as well as I may. No man has laid hands on me, to whip me, for the
last ten years, and I have long since come to the conclusion not to
be whipped by any man living." Cook, finding by Randall's determined
look and gestures, that he would resist, called three of the hands
from their work, and commanded them to seize Randall, and tie him. The
hands stood still;--they knew Randall--and they also knew him to be a
powerful man, and were afraid to grapple with him. As soon as Cook had
ordered the men to seize him, Randall turned to them, and said--"Boys,
you all know me; you know that I can handle any three of you, and the
man that lays hands on me shall die. This white man can't whip me
himself, and therefore he has called you to help him." The overseer was
unable to prevail upon them to seize and secure Randall, and finally
ordered them all to go to their work together.

Nothing was said to Randall by the overseer for more than a week. One
morning, however, while the hands were at work in the field, he came
into it, accompanied by three friends of his, Thompson, Woodbridge and
Jones. They came up to where Randall was at work, and Cook ordered him
to leave his work, and go with them to the barn. He refused to go;
whereupon he was attacked by the overseer and his companions, when he
turned upon them, and laid them, one after another, prostrate on the
ground. Woodbridge drew out his pistol, and fired at him, and brought
him to the ground by a pistol ball. The others rushed upon him with
their clubs, and beat him over the head and face, until they succeeded
in tying him. He was then taken to the barn, and tied to a beam. Cook
gave him over one hundred lashes with a heavy cow-hide, had him washed
with salt and water, and left him tied during the day. The next day
he was untied, and taken to a blacksmith's shop, and had a ball and
chain attached to his leg. He was compelled to labor in the field, and
perform the same amount of work that the other hands did. When his
master returned home, he was much pleased to find that Randall had been
subdued in his absence.


Soon afterwards, my master removed to the city of St. Louis, and
purchased a farm four miles from there, which he placed under the
charge of an overseer by the name of Friend Haskell. He was a regular
Yankee from New England. The Yankees are noted for making the most
cruel overseers.

My mother was hired out in the city, and I was also hired out there to
Major Freeland, who kept a public house. He was formerly from Virginia,
and was a horse-racer, cock-fighter, gambler, and withal an inveterate
drunkard. There were ten or twelve servants in the house, and when he
was present, it was cut and slash--knock down and drag out. In his fits
of anger, he would take up a chair, and throw it at a servant; and in
his more rational moments, when he wished to chastise one, he would tie
them up in the smoke-house, and whip them; after which, he would cause
a fire to be made of tobacco stems, and smoke them. This he called
"_Virginia play_."

I complained to my master of the treatment which I received from Major
Freeland; but it made no difference. He cared nothing about it, so
long as he received the money for my labor. After living with Major
Freeland five or six months, I ran away, and went into the woods back
of the city; and when night came on, I made my way to my master's farm,
but was afraid to be seen, knowing that if Mr. Haskell, the overseer,
should discover me, I should be again carried back to Major Freeland;
so I kept in the woods. One day, while in the woods, I heard the
barking and howling of dogs, and in a short time they came so near that
I knew them to be the bloodhounds of Major Benjamin O'Fallon. He kept
five or six, to hunt runaway slaves with.

As soon as I was convinced that it was them, I knew there was no
chance of escape. I took refuge in the top of a tree, and the hounds
were soon at its base, and there remained until the hunters came up
in a half or three quarters of an hour afterwards. There were two men
with the dogs, who, as soon as they came up, ordered me to descend. I
came down, was tied, and taken to St. Louis jail. Major Freeland soon
made his appearance, and took me out, and ordered me to follow him,
which I did. After we returned home. I was tied up in the smoke-house,
and was very severely whipped. After the major had flogged me to his
satisfaction, he sent out his son Robert, a young man eighteen or
twenty years of age, to see that I was well smoked. He made a fire of
tobacco stems, which soon set me to coughing and sneezing. This, Robert
told me, was the way his father used to do to his slaves in Virginia.
After giving me what they conceived to be a decent smoking, I was
untied and again set to work.

Robert Freeland was a "chip of the old block." Though quite young, it
was not unfrequently that he came home in a state of intoxication.
He is now, I believe, a popular commander of a steamboat on the
Mississippi river. Major Freeland soon after failed in business, and I
was put on board the steamboat Missouri, which plied between St. Louis
and Galena. The commander of the boat was William B. Culver. I remained
on her during the sailing season, which was the most pleasant time for
me that I had ever experienced. At the close of navigation I was hired
to Mr. John Colburn, keeper of the Missouri Hotel. He was from one
of the free states; but a more inveterate hater of the negro I do not
believe ever walked God's green earth. This hotel was at that time one
of the largest in the city, and there were employed in it twenty or
thirty servants, mostly slaves.

Mr. Colburn was very abusive, not only to the servants, but to his
wife also, who was an excellent woman, and one from whom I never knew
a servant to receive a harsh word; but never did I know a kind one to
a servant from her husband. Among the slaves employed in the hotel
was one by the name of Aaron, who belonged to Mr. John F. Darby, a
lawyer. Aaron was the knife-cleaner. One day, one of the knives was
put on the table, not as clean as it might have been. Mr. Colburn, for
this offence, tied Aaron up in the wood-house, and gave him over fifty
lashes on the bare back with a cow-hide, after which, he made me wash
him down with rum. This seemed to put him into more agony than the
whipping. After being untied he went home to his master, and complained
of the treatment which he had received. Mr. Darby would give no heed to
anything he had to say, but sent him directly back. Colburn, learning
that he had been to his master with complaints, tied him up again, and
gave him a more severe whipping than before. The poor fellow's back was
literally cut to pieces; so much so, that he was not able to work for
ten or twelve days.

There was, also, among the servants, a girl whose master resided in
the country. Her name was Patsey. Mr. Colburn tied her up one evening,
and whipped her until several of the boarders came out and begged him
to desist. The reason for whipping her was this. She was engaged to be
married to a man belonging to Major William Christy, who resided four
or five miles north of the city. Mr. Colburn had forbid her to see John
Christy. The reason of this was said to be the regard which he himself
had for Patsey. She went to meeting that evening, and John returned
home with her. Mr. Colburn had intended to flog John, if he came within
the inclosure; but John knew too well the temper of his rival, and kept
at a safe distance:--so he took vengeance on the poor girl. If all the
slave-drivers had been called together, I do not think a more cruel man
than John Colburn--and he too a northern man--could have been found
among them.

While living at the Missouri hotel, a circumstance occurred which
caused me great unhappiness. My master sold my mother, and all her
children, except myself. They were sold to different persons in the
city of St. Louis.


I was soon after taken from Mr. Colburn's, and hired to Elijah P.
Lovejoy, who was at that time publisher and editor of the "St. Louis
Times." My work, while with him, was mainly in the printing office,
waiting on the hands, working the press, &c. Mr. Lovejoy was a very
good man, and decidedly the best master that I had ever had. I am
chiefly indebted to him, and to my employment in the printing office,
for what little learning I obtained while in slavery.

Though slavery is thought, by some, to be mild in Missouri, when
compared with the cotton, sugar and rice growing states, yet no part
of our slave-holding country is more noted for the barbarity of its
inhabitants than St. Louis. It was here that Col. Harney, a United
States officer, whipped a slave woman to death. It was here that
Francis McIntosh, a free colored man from Pittsburg, was taken from the
steamboat Flora and burned at the stake. During a residence of eight
years in this city, numerous cases of extreme cruelty came under my
own observation;--to record them all would occupy more space than could
possibly be allowed in this little volume. I shall, therefore, give but
a few more in addition to what I have already related.

Capt. J. B. Brant, who resided near my master, had a slave named John.
He was his body servant, carriage driver, &c. On one occasion, while
driving his master through the city--the streets being very muddy, and
the horses going at a rapid rate--some mud spattered upon a gentleman
by the name of Robert More. More was determined to be revenged. Some
three or four months after this occurrence, he purchased John, for the
express purpose, as he said, "to tame the d----d nigger." After the
purchase he took him to a blacksmith's shop, and had a ball and chain
fastened to his leg, and then put him to driving a yoke of oxen, and
kept him at hard labor, until the iron around his leg was so worn into
the flesh, that it was thought mortification would ensue. In addition
to this, John told me that his master whipped him regularly three times
a week for the first two months:--and all this to "_tame him_." A more
noble-looking man than he was not to be found in all St. Louis, before
he fell into the hands of More; and a more degraded and spirit-crushed
looking being was never seen on a southern plantation, after he had
been subjected to this "_taming_" process for three months. The last
time that I saw him, he had nearly lost the entire use of his limbs.

While living with Mr. Lovejoy, I was often sent on errands to the
office of the "Missouri Republican," published by Mr. Edward Charless.
Once, while returning to the office with type, I was attacked by
several large boys, sons of slave-holders, who pelted me with
snow-balls. Having the heavy form of type in my hands, I could not make
my escape by running; so I laid down the type and gave them battle.
They gathered around me, pelting me with stones and sticks, until they
overpowered me, and would have captured me, if I had not resorted to
my heels. Upon my retreat they took possession of the type; and what
to do to regain it I could not devise. Knowing Mr. Lovejoy to be a
very humane man, I went to the office and laid the case before him. He
told me to remain in the office. He took one of the apprentices with
him and went after the type, and soon returned with it; but on his
return informed me that Samuel McKinney had told him he would whip me,
because I had hurt his boy. Soon after, McKinney was seen making his
way to the office by one of the printers, who informed me of the fact,
and I made my escape through the back door.

McKinney not being able to find me on his arrival, left the office
in a great rage, swearing that he would whip me to death. A few days
after, as I was walking along Main street, he seized me by the collar,
and struck me over the head five or six times with a large cane, which
caused the blood to gush from my nose and ears in such a manner that my
clothes were completely saturated with blood. After beating me to his
satisfaction he let me go, and I returned to the office so weak from
the loss of blood that Mr. Lovejoy sent me home to my master. It was
five weeks before I was able to walk again. During this time it was
necessary to have some one to supply my place at the office, and I lost
the situation.

After my recovery, I was hired to Capt. Otis Reynolds, as a waiter on
board the steamboat Enterprise, owned by Messrs. John and Edward Walsh,
commission merchants at St. Louis. This boat was then running on the
upper Mississippi. My employment on board was to wait on gentlemen,
and the captain being a good man, the situation was a pleasant one
to me;--but in passing from place to place, and seeing new faces
every day, and knowing that they could go where they pleased, I soon
became unhappy, and several times thought of leaving the boat at some
landing-place, and trying to make my escape to Canada, which I had
heard much about as a place where the slave might live, be free, and be

But whenever such thoughts would come into my mind, my resolution would
soon be shaken by the remembrance that my dear mother was a slave
in St. Louis, and I could not bear the idea of leaving her in that
condition. She had often taken me upon her knee, and told me how she
had carried me upon her back to the field when I was an infant--how
often she had been whipped for leaving her work to nurse me--and how
happy I would appear when she would take me into her arms. When these
thoughts came over me, I would resolve never to leave the land of
slavery without my mother. I thought that to leave her in slavery,
after she had undergone and suffered, so much for me, would be proving
recreant to the duty which I owed to her. Besides this, I had three
brothers and a sister there--two of my brothers having died.

My mother, my brothers Joseph and Millford, and my sister Elizabeth,
belonged to Mr. Isaac Mansfield, formerly from one of the free states,
(Massachusetts, I believe.) He was a tinner by trade, and carried on
a large manufacturing establishment. Of all my relatives, mother was
first, and sister next. One evening, while visiting them, I made some
allusion to a proposed journey to Canada, and sister took her seat by
my side, and taking my hand in hers, said, with tears in her eyes--

"Brother, you are not going to leave mother and your dear sister here
without a friend, are you?"

I looked into her face, as the tears coursed swiftly down her cheeks,
and bursting into tears myself, said--

"No, I will never desert you and mother!"

She clasped my hand in hers, and said--

"Brother, you have often declared that you would not end your days in
slavery. I see no possible way in which you can escape with us; and
now, brother, you are on a steamboat where there is some chance for you
to escape to a land of liberty. I beseech you not to let us hinder you.
If we cannot get our liberty, we do not wish to be the means of keeping
you from a land of freedom."

I could restrain my feelings no longer, and an outburst of my own
feelings caused her to cease speaking upon that subject. In opposition
to their wishes, I pledged myself not to leave them in the hand of the
oppressor. I took leave of them, and returned to the boat, and laid
down in my bunk; but "sleep departed from mine eyes, and slumber from
mine eyelids."

A few weeks after, on our downward passage, the boat took on board, at
Hannibal, a drove of slaves, bound for the New Orleans market. They
numbered from fifty to sixty, consisting of men and women from eighteen
to forty years of age. A drove of slaves on a southern steamboat, bound
for the cotton or sugar regions, is an occurrence so common, that no
one, not even the passengers, appear to notice it, though they clank
their chains at every step. There was, however, one in this gang that
attracted the attention of the passengers and crew. It was a beautiful
girl, apparently about twenty years of age, perfectly white, with
straight light hair and blue eyes. But it was not the whiteness of her
skin that created such a sensation among those who gazed upon her--it
was her almost unparalleled beauty. She had been on the boat but a
short time, before the attention of all the passengers, including the
ladies, had been called to her, and the common topic of conversation
was about the beautiful slave-girl. She was not in chains. The man
who claimed this article of human merchandise was a Mr. Walker--a
well known slave-trader, residing in St. Louis. There was a general
anxiety among the passengers and crew to learn the history of the girl.
Her master kept close by her side, and it would have been considered
impudent for any of the passengers to have spoken to her, and the crew
were not allowed to have any conversation with them. When we reached
St. Louis, the slaves were removed to a boat bound for New Orleans, and
the history of the beautiful slave-girl remained a mystery.

I remained on the boat during the season, and it was not an unfrequent
occurrence to have on board gangs of slaves on their way to the cotton,
sugar and rice plantations of the south.

Toward the latter part of the summer Captain Reynolds left the boat,
and I was sent home. I was then placed on the farm, under Mr. Haskell,
the overseer. As I had been some time out of the field, and not
accustomed to work in the burning sun, it was very hard; but I was
compelled to keep up with the best of the hands.

I found a great difference between the work in a steamboat cabin and
that in a corn-field.

My master, who was then living in the city, soon after removed to the
farm, when I was taken out of the field to work in the house as a
waiter. Though his wife was very peevish, and hard to please, I much
preferred to be under her control than the overseer's. They brought
with them Mr. Sloane, a Presbyterian minister; Miss Martha Tulley, a
niece of theirs from Kentucky; and their nephew William. The latter had
been in the family a number of years, but the others were all newcomers.

Mr. Sloane was a young minister, who had been at the South but a short
time, and it seemed as if his whole aim was to please the slaveholders,
especially my master and mistress. He was intending to make a visit
during the winter, and he not only tried to please them, but I think
he succeeded admirably. When they wanted singing, he sung; when they
wanted praying, he prayed; when they wanted a story told, he told a
story. Instead of his teaching my master theology, my master taught
theology to him. While I was with Captain Reynolds my master "got
religion," and new laws were made on the plantation. Formerly we had
the privilege of hunting, fishing, making splint brooms, baskets, &c.,
on Sunday; but this was all stopped. Every Sunday we were all compelled
to attend meeting. Master was so religious that he induced some others
to join him in hiring a preacher to preach to the slaves.


My master had family worship, night and morning. At night the slaves
were called in to attend; but in the mornings they had to be at their
work, and master did all the praying. My master and mistress were great
lovers of mint julep, and every morning, a pitcher-full was made, of
which they all partook freely, not excepting little master William.
After drinking freely all round, they would have family worship, and
then breakfast. I cannot say but I loved the julep as well as any of
them, and during prayer was always careful to seat myself close to
the table where it stood, so as to help myself when they were all
busily engaged in their devotions. By the time prayer was over, I was
about as happy as any of them. A sad accident happened one morning. In
helping myself, and at the same time keeping an eye on my old mistress,
I accidentally let the pitcher fall upon the floor, breaking it in
pieces, and spilling the contents. This was a bad affair for me; for as
soon as prayer was over, I was taken and severely chastised.

My master's family consisted of himself, his wife, and their nephew,
William Moore. He was taken into the family when only a few weeks of
age. His name being that of my own, mine was changed for the purpose
of giving precedence to his, though I was his senior by ten or twelve
years. The plantation being four miles from the city, I had to drive
the family to church. I always dreaded the approach of the Sabbath;
for, during service, I was obliged to stand by the horses in the hot,
broiling sun, or in the rain, just as it happened.

One Sabbath, as we were driving past the house of D. D. Page, a
gentleman who owned a large baking establishment, as I was sitting upon
the box of the carriage, which was very much elevated, I saw Mr. Page
pursuing a slave around the yard with a long whip, cutting him at every
jump. The man soon escaped from the yard, and was followed by Mr. Page.
They came running past us, and the slave, perceiving that he would be
overtaken, stopped suddenly, and Page stumbled over him, and falling on
the stone pavement, fractured one of his legs, which crippled him for
life. The same gentleman, but a short time previous, tied up a woman
of his, by the name of Delphia, and whipped her nearly to death; yet he
was a deacon in the Baptist church, in good and regular standing. Poor
Delphia! I was well acquainted with her, and called to see her while
upon her sick bed; and I shall never forget her appearance. She was a
member of the same church with her master.

Soon after this, I was hired out to Mr. Walker, the same man whom I
have mentioned as having carried a gang of slaves down the river on
the steamboat Enterprise. Seeing me in the capacity of a steward on
the boat, and thinking that I would make a good hand to take care of
slaves, he determined to have me for that purpose; and finding that my
master would not sell me, he hired me for the term of one year.

When I learned the fact of my having been hired to a negro speculator,
or a "soul driver," as they are generally called among slaves, no one
can tell my emotions. Mr. Walker had offered a high price for me, as
I afterwards learned, but I suppose my master was restrained from
selling me by the fact that I was a near relative of his. On entering
the service of Mr. Walker, I found that my opportunity of getting to
a land of liberty was gone, at least for the time being. He had a gang
of slaves in readiness to start for New Orleans, and in a few days we
were on our journey. I am at a loss for language to express my feelings
on that occasion. Although my master had told me that he had not sold
me, and Mr. Walker had told me that he had not purchased me, I did not
believe them; and not until I had been to New Orleans, and was on my
return, did I believe that I was not sold.

There was on the boat a large room on the lower deck, in which the
slaves were kept, men and women, promiscuously--all chained two and
two, and a strict watch kept that they did not get loose; for cases
have occurred in which slaves have got off their chains, and made their
escape at landing-places, while the boats were taking in wood;--and
with all our care, we lost one woman who had been taken from her
husband and children, and having no desire to live without them, in the
agony of her soul jumped overboard, and drowned herself. She was not

It was almost impossible to keep that part of the boat clean.

On landing at Natchez, the slaves were all carried to the slave-pen,
and there kept one week, during which time several of them were sold.
Mr. Walker fed his slaves well. We took on board at St. Louis several
hundred pounds of bacon (smoked meat) and corn-meal, and his slaves
were better fed than slaves generally were in Natchez, so far as my
observation extended.

At the end of a week, we left for New Orleans, the place of our final
destination, which we reached in two days. Here the slaves were placed
in a negro-pen, where those who wished to purchase could call and
examine them. The negro-pen is a small yard, surrounded by buildings,
from fifteen to twenty feet wide, with the exception of a large gate
with iron bars. The slaves are kept in the buildings during the night,
and turned out into the yard during the day. After the best of the
stock was sold at private sale at the pen, the balance were taken to
the Exchange Coffee-House Auction Rooms, kept by Isaac L. McCoy, and
sold at public auction. After the sale of this lot of slaves, we left
New Orleans for St. Louis.


On our arrival at St. Louis I went to Dr. Young, and told him that I
did not wish to live with Mr. Walker any longer. I was heart-sick at
seeing my fellow-creatures bought and sold. But the Dr. had hired me
for the year, and stay I must. Mr. Walker again commenced purchasing
another gang of slaves. He bought a man of Colonel John O'Fallon, who
resided in the suburbs of the city. This man had a wife and three
children. As soon as the purchase was made, he was put in jail for safe
keeping, until we should be ready to start for New Orleans. His wife
visited him while there, several times, and several times when she went
for that purpose was refused admittance.

In the course of eight or nine weeks Mr. Walker had his cargo of human
flesh made up. There was in this lot a number of old men and women,
some of them with gray locks. We left St. Louis in the steamboat
Carlton, Captain Swan, bound for New Orleans. On our way down, and
before we reached Rodney, the place where we made our first stop, I
had to prepare the old slaves for market. I was ordered to have the old
men's whiskers shaved off, and the grey hairs plucked out where they
were not too numerous, in which case he had a preparation of blacking
to color it, and with a blacking brush we would put it on. This was new
business to me, and was performed in a room where the passengers could
not see us. These slaves were also taught how old they were by Mr.
Walker, and after going through the blacking process they looked ten or
fifteen years younger; and I am sure that some of those who purchased
slaves of Mr. Walker were dreadfully cheated, especially in the ages of
the slaves which they bought.

We landed at Rodney, and the slaves were driven to the pen in the back
part of the village. Several were sold at this place, during our stay
of four or five days, when we proceeded to Natchez. There we landed at
night, and the gang were put in the warehouse until morning, when they
were driven to the pen. As soon as the slaves are put in these pens,
swarms of planters may be seen in and about them. They knew when Walker
was expected, as he always had the time advertised beforehand when he
would be in Rodney, Natchez, and New Orleans. These were the principal
places where he offered his slaves for sale.

When at Natchez the second time, I saw a slave very cruelly whipped. He
belonged to a Mr. Broadwell, a merchant who kept a store on the wharf.
The slave's name was Lewis. I had known him several years, as he was
formerly from St. Louis. We were expecting a steamboat down the river,
in which we were to take passage for New Orleans. Mr. Walker sent me
to the landing to watch for the boat, ordering me to inform him on its
arrival. While there I went into the store to see Lewis. I saw a slave
in the store, and asked him where Lewis was. Said he, "They have got
Lewis hanging between the heavens and the earth." I asked him what he
meant by that. He told me to go into the warehouse and see. I went in,
and found Lewis there. He was tied up to a beam, with his toes just
touching the floor. As there was no one in the warehouse but himself,
I inquired the reason of his being in that situation. He said Mr.
Broadwell had sold his wife to a planter six miles from the city, and
that he had been to visit her--that he went in the night, expecting to
return before daylight, and went without his master's permission. The
patrol had taken him up before he reached his wife. He was put in jail,
and his master had to pay for his catching and keeping, and that was
what he was tied up for.

Just as he finished his story, Mr. Broadwell came in, and inquired what
I was doing there. I knew not what to say, and while I was thinking
what reply to make he struck me over the head with the cowhide, the
end of which struck me over my right eye, sinking deep into the flesh,
leaving a scar which I carry to this day. Before I visited Lewis he had
received fifty lashes. Mr. Broadwell gave him fifty lashes more after I
came out, as I was afterwards informed by Lewis himself.

The next day we proceeded to New Orleans, and put the gang in the
same negro-pen which we occupied before. In a short time the planters
came flocking to the pen to purchase slaves. Before the slaves were
exhibited for sale, they were dressed and driven out into the yard.
Some were set to dancing, some to jumping, some to singing, and some to
playing cards. This was done to make them appear cheerful and happy. My
business was to see that they were placed in those situations before
the arrival of the purchasers, and I have often set them to dancing
when their cheeks were wet with tears. As slaves were in good demand at
that time, they were all soon disposed of, and we again set out for St.

On our arrival, Mr. Walker purchased a farm five or six miles from the
city. He had no family, but made a housekeeper of one of his female
slaves. Poor Cynthia! I knew her well. She was a quadroon, and one of
the most beautiful women I ever saw. She was a native of St. Louis, and
bore an irreproachable character for virtue and propriety of conduct.
Mr. Walker bought her for the New Orleans market, and took her down
with him on one of the trips that I made with him. Never shall I forget
the circumstances of that voyage! On the first night that we were on
board the steamboat, he directed me to put her into a state-room he
had provided for her, apart from the other slaves. I had seen too much
of the workings of slavery not to know what this meant. I accordingly
watched him into the state-room, and listened to hear what passed
between them. I heard him make his base offers, and her reject them. He
told her that if she would accept his vile proposals, he would take
her back with him to St. Louis, and establish her as his housekeeper on
his farm. But if she persisted in rejecting them, he would sell her as
a field hand on the worst plantation on the river. Neither threats nor
bribes prevailed, however, and he retired, disappointed of his prey.

The next morning poor Cynthia told me what had passed, and bewailed
her sad fate with floods of tears. I comforted and encouraged her all
I could; but I foresaw but too well what the result must be. Without
entering into any further particulars, suffice it to say that Walker
performed his part of the contract at that time. He took her back to
St. Louis, established her as his mistress and housekeeper at his farm,
and before I left, he had two children by her. But, mark the end! Since
I have been at the North, I have been credibly informed that Walker has
been married, and, as a previous measure, sold poor Cynthia and her
four children (she having had two more since I came away) into hopeless

He soon commenced purchasing to make up the third gang. We took
steamboat, and went to Jefferson City, a town on the Missouri river.
Here we landed, and took stage for the interior of the state. He
bought a number of slaves as he passed the different farms and
villages. After getting twenty-two or twenty-three men and women, we
arrived at St. Charles, a village on the banks of the Missouri. Here he
purchased a woman who had a child in her arms, appearing to be four or
five weeks old.

We had been travelling by land for some days, and were in hopes to have
found a boat at this place for St. Louis, but were disappointed. As
no boat was expected for some days, we started for St. Louis by land.
Mr. Walker had purchased two horses. He rode one, and I the other. The
slaves were chained together, and we took up our line of march, Mr.
Walker taking the lead, and I bringing up the rear. Though the distance
was not more than twenty miles, we did not reach it the first day. The
road was worse than any that I have ever travelled.

[Illustration: The slave-trader Walker and the author driving a gang of
slaves to the southern market.]

Soon after we left St. Charles the young child grew very cross,
and kept up a noise during the greater part of the day. Mr. Walker
complained of its crying several times, and told the mother to stop the
child's d----d noise, or he would. The woman tried to keep the child
from crying, but could not. We put up at night with an acquaintance of
Mr. Walker, and in the morning, just as we were about to start, the
child again commenced crying. Walker stepped up to her, and told her to
give the child to him. The mother tremblingly obeyed. He took the child
by one arm, as you would a cat by the leg, walked into the house, and
said to the lady,

"Madam, I will make you a present of this little nigger; it keeps such
a noise that I can't bear it."

"Thank you, sir," said the lady.

The mother, as soon as she saw that her child was to be left, ran up to
Mr. Walker, and falling upon her knees, begged him to let her have her
child; she clung around his legs, and cried, "Oh, my child! my child!
master, do let me have my child! oh, do, do, do! I will stop its crying
if you will only let me have it again. "When I saw this woman crying
for her child so piteously, a shudder--a feeling akin to horror--shot
through my frame. I have often since in imagination heard her crying
for her child:--

     "O, master, let me stay to catch
       My baby's sobbing breath,
     His little glassy eye to watch,
       And smooth his limbs in death,

     And cover him with grass and leaf,
       Beneath the large oak tree:
     It is not sullenness, but grief--
       O, master, pity me!

     The morn was chill--I spoke no word,
       But feared my babe might die,
     And heard all day, or thought I heard,
       My little baby cry.

     At noon, oh, how I ran and took
       My baby to my breast!
     I lingered--and the long lash broke
       My sleeping infant's rest.

     I worked till night--till darkest night,
       In torture and disgrace;
     Went home and watched till morning light,
       To see my baby's face.

     Then give me but one little hour--
       O! do not lash me so!
     One little hour--one little hour--
       And gratefully I'll go."

Mr. Walker commanded her to return into the ranks with the other
slaves. Women who had children were not chained, but those that had
none were. As soon as her child was disposed of she was chained in the

The following song I have often heard the slaves sing, when about to
be carried to the far south. It is said to have been composed by a

     "See these poor souls from Africa
     Transported to America;
     We are stolen, and sold to Georgia--
     Will you go along with me?
     We are stolen, and sold to Georgia--
     Come sound the jubilee!

     See wives and husbands sold apart,
     Their children's screams will break my heart;--
     There's a better day a coming--
     Will you go along with me?
     There's a better day a coming,
     Go sound the jubilee!

     O, gracious Lord! when shall it be,
     That we poor souls shall all be free?
     Lord, break them slavery powers--
     Will you go along with me?
     Lord, break them slavery powers,
     Go sound the jubilee!

     Dear Lord, dear Lord, when slavery'll cease,
     Then we poor souls will have our peace;--
     There's a better day a coming--
     Will you go along with me?
     There's a better day a coming,
     Go sound the jubilee!"

We finally arrived at Mr. Walker's farm. He had a house built during
our absence to put slaves in. It was a kind of domestic jail. The
slaves were put in the jail at night, and worked on the farm during
the day. They were kept here until the gang was completed, when we
again started for New Orleans, on board the steamboat North America,
Capt. Alexander Scott. We had a large number of slaves in this gang.
One, by the name of Joe, Mr. Walker was training up to take my place,
as my time was nearly out, and glad was I. We made our first stop at
Vicksburg, where we remained one week and sold several slaves.

Mr. Walker, though not a good master, had not flogged a slave since I
had been with him, though he had threatened me. The slaves were kept in
the pen, and he always put up at the best hotel, and kept his wines in
his room, for the accommodation of those who called to negotiate with
him for the purchase of slaves. One day, while we were at Vicksburg,
several gentlemen came to see him for that purpose, and as usual the
wine was called for. I took the tray and started around with it, and
having accidentally filled some of the glasses too full, the gentlemen
spilled the wine on their clothes as they went to drink. Mr. Walker
apologized to them for my carelessness, but looked at me as though he
would see me again on this subject.

After the gentlemen had left the room, he asked me what I meant by my
carelessness, and said that he would attend to me. The next morning he
gave me a note to carry to the jailer, and a dollar in money to give
to him. I suspected that all was not right, so I went down near the
landing, where I met with a sailor, and, walking up to him, asked him
if he would be so kind as to read the note for me. He read it over, and
then looked at me. I asked him to tell me what was in it. Said he,

"They are going to give you hell."

"Why?" said I.

He said, "This is a note to have you whipped, and says that you have a
dollar to pay for it."

He handed me back the note, and off I started. I knew not what to do,
but was determined not to be whipped. I went up to the jail--took a
look at it, and walked off again. As Mr. Walker was acquainted with the
jailer, I feared that I should be found out if I did not go, and be
treated in consequence of it still worse.

While I was meditating on the subject, I saw a colored man about my
size walk up, and the thought struck me in a moment to send him with
my note. I walked up to him, and asked him who he belonged to. He said
he was a free man, and had been in the city but a short time. I told
him I had a note to go into the jail, and get a trunk to carry to one
of the steamboats; but was so busily engaged that I could not do it,
although I had a dollar to pay for it. He asked me if I would not give
him the job. I handed him the note and the dollar, and off he started
for the jail.

I watched to see that he went in, and as soon as I saw the door close
behind him, I walked around the corner, and took my station, intending
to see how my friend looked when he came out. I had been there but a
short time, when a colored man came around the corner, and said to
another colored man with whom he was acquainted--

"They are giving a nigger scissors in the jail."

"What for?" said the other. The man continued,

"A nigger came into the jail, and asked for the jailer. The jailer came
out, and he handed him a note, and said he wanted to get a trunk. The
jailer told him to go with him, and he would give him the trunk. So he
took him into the room, and told the nigger to give up the dollar. He
said a man had given him the dollar to pay for getting the trunk. But
that lie would not answer. So they made him strip himself, and then
they tied him down, and are now whipping him."

I stood by all the while listening to their talk, and soon found out
that the person alluded to was my customer. I went into the street
opposite the jail, and concealed myself in such a manner that I could
not be seen by any one coming out. I had been there but a short time,
when the young man made his appearance, and looked around for me. I,
unobserved, came forth from my hiding-place, behind a pile of brick,
and he pretty soon saw me, and came up to me complaining bitterly,
saying that I had played a trick upon him. I denied any knowledge of
what the note contained, and asked him what they had done to him. He
told me in substance what I heard the man tell who had come out of the

"Yes," said he, "they whipped me and took my dollar, and gave me this

He showed me the note which the jailer had given him, telling him
to give it to his master. I told him I would give him fifty cents
for it--that being all the money I had. He gave it to me and took
his money. He had received twenty lashes on his bare back, with the

I took the note and started for the hotel where I had left Mr. Walker.
Upon reaching the hotel, I handed it to a stranger whom I had not seen
before, and requested him to read it to me. As near as I can recollect,
it was as follows:--

     "DEAR SIR:--By your direction, I have given your boy twenty lashes.
     He is a very saucy boy, and tried to make me believe that he did
     not belong to you, and I put it on to him well for lying to me.

     "I remain
     "Your obedient servant."

It is true that in most of the slave-holding cities, when a gentleman
wishes his servants whipped, he can send him to the jail and have it
done. Before I went in where Mr. Walker was, I wet my cheeks a little,
as though I had been crying. He looked at me, and inquired what was the
matter. I told him that I had never had such a whipping in my life, and
handed him the note. He looked at it and laughed;--"And so you told him
that you did not belong to me?" "Yes, sir," said I. "I did not know
that there was any harm in that." He told me I must behave myself, if
I did not want to be whipped again.

This incident shows how it is that slavery makes its victims lying and
mean; for which vices it afterwards reproaches them, and uses them as
arguments to prove that they deserve no better fate. Had I entertained
the same views of right and wrong which I now do, I am sure I should
never have practised the deception upon that poor fellow which I did. I
know of no act committed by me while in slavery which I have regretted
more than that; and I heartily desire that it may be at some time or
other in my power to make him amends for his vicarious sufferings in my


In a few days we reached New Orleans, and arriving there in the night,
remained on board until morning. While at New Orleans this time, I saw
a slave killed; an account of which has been published by Theodore D.
Weld, in his book entitled "Slavery as it is." The circumstances were
as follows. In the evening, between seven and eight o'clock, a slave
came running down the levee, followed by several men and boys. The
whites were crying out, "Stop that nigger! stop that nigger!" while the
poor panting slave, in almost breathless accents, was repeating, "I did
not steal the meat--I did not steal the meat." The poor man at last
took refuge in the river. The whites who were in pursuit of him, run
on board of one of the boats to see if they could discover him. They
finally espied him under the bow of the steamboat Trenton. They got
a pike-pole, and tried to drive him from his hiding place. When they
would strike at him he would dive under the water. The water was so
cold, that it soon became evident that he must come out or be drowned.

While they were trying to drive him from under the bow of the boat or
drown him, he would in broken and imploring accents say, "I did not
steal the meat; I did not steal the meat. My master lives up the river.
I want to see my master. I did not steal the meat. Do let me go home to
master." After punching him, and striking him over the head for some
time, he at last sunk in the water, to rise no more alive.

On the end of the pike-pole with which they were striking him was a
hook, which caught in his clothing, and they hauled him up on the
bow of the boat. Some said he was dead; others said he was "_playing
possum_;" while others kicked him to make him get up; but it was of no
use--he was dead.

As soon as they became satisfied of this, they commenced leaving, one
after another. One of the hands on the boat informed the captain that
they had killed the man, and that the dead body was lying on the deck.
The captain came on deck, and said to those who were remaining, "You
have killed this nigger; now take him off of my boat." The captain's
name was Hart. The dead body was dragged on shore and left there. I
went on board of the boat where our gang of slaves were, and during the
whole night my mind was occupied with what I had seen. Early in the
morning I went on shore to see if the dead body remained there. I found
it in the same position that it was left the night before. I watched to
see what they would do with it. It was left there until between eight
and nine o'clock, when a cart, which takes up the trash out of the
streets, came along, and the body was thrown in, and in a few minutes
more was covered over with dirt which they were removing from the
streets. During the whole time, I did not see more than six or seven
persons around it, who, from their manner, evidently regarded it as no
uncommon occurrence.

During our stay in the city I met with a young white man with whom I
was well acquainted in St. Louis. He had been sold into slavery, under
the following circumstances. His father was a drunkard, and very poor,
with a family of five or six children. The father died, and left the
mother to take care of and provide for the children as best she might.
The eldest was a boy, named Burrill, about thirteen years of age,
who did chores in a store kept by Mr. Riley, to assist his mother in
procuring a living for the family. After working with him two years,
Mr. Riley took him to New Orleans to wait on him while in that city
on a visit, and when he returned to St. Louis, he told the mother of
the boy that he had died with the yellow fever. Nothing more was heard
from him, no one supposing him to be alive. I was much astonished when
Burrill told me his story. Though I sympathized with him I could not
assist him. We were both slaves. He was poor, uneducated, and without
friends; and, if living, is, I presume, still held as a slave.

After selling out this cargo of human flesh, we returned to St. Louis,
and my time was up with Mr. Walker. I had served him one year, and it
was the longest year I ever lived.


I was sent home, and was glad enough to leave the service of one who
was tearing the husband from the wife, the child from the mother, and
the sister from the brother--but a trial more severe and heart-rending
than any which I had yet met with awaited me. My dear sister had been
sold to a man who was going to Natchez, and was lying in jail awaiting
the hour of his departure. She had expressed her determination to
die, rather than go to the far south, and she was put in jail for
safekeeping. I went to the jail the same day that I arrived, but as the
jailer was not in I could not see her.

I went home to my master, in the country, and the first day after my
return he came where I was at work, and spoke to me very politely. I
knew from his appearance that something was the matter. After talking
to me about my several journeys to New Orleans with Mr. Walker, he told
me that he was hard pressed for money, and as he had sold my mother
and all her children except me, he thought it would be better to sell
me than any other one, and that as I had been used to living in the
city, he thought it probable that I would prefer it to a country life.
I raised up my head, and looked him full in the face. When my eyes
caught his he immediately looked to the ground. After a short pause, I

"Master, mother has often told me that you are a near relative of mine,
and I have often heard you admit the fact; and after you have hired me
out, and received, as I once heard you say, nine hundred dollars for
my services--after receiving this large sum, will you sell me to be
carried to New Orleans or some other place?"

"No," said he, "I do not intend to sell you to a negro trader. If I
had wished to have done that, I might have sold you to Mr. Walker for
a large sum, but I would not sell you to a negro trader. You may go to
the city, and find you a good master."

"But," said I, "I cannot find a good master in the whole city of St.

"Why?" said he.

"Because there are no good masters in the state."

"Do you not call me a good master?"

"If you were you would not sell me."

"Now I will give you one week to find a master in, and surely you can
do it in that time."

The price set by my evangelical master upon my soul and body was the
trifling sum of five hundred dollars. I tried to enter into some
arrangement by which I might purchase my freedom; but he would enter
into no such arrangement.

I set out for the city with the understanding that I was to return in
a week with some one to become my new master. Soon after reaching the
city, I went to the jail, to learn if I could once more see my sister;
but could not gain admission. I then went to mother, and learned from
her that the owner of my sister intended to start for Natchez in a few

I went to the jail again the next day, and Mr. Simonds, the keeper,
allowed me to see my sister for the last time. I cannot give a just
description of the scene at that parting interview. Never, never can
be erased from my heart the occurrences of that day! When I entered
the room where she was, she was seated in one corner, alone. There
were four other women in the same room, belonging to the same man. He
had purchased them, he said, for his own use. She was seated with her
face towards the door where I entered, yet she did not look up until
I walked up to her. As soon as she observed me she sprung up, threw
her arms around my neck, leaned her head upon my breast, and, without
uttering a word, burst into tears. As soon as she recovered herself
sufficiently to speak, she advised me to take mother, and try to get
out of slavery. She said there was no hope for herself--that she must
live and die a slave. After giving her some advice, and taking from my
finger a ring and placing it upon hers, I bade her farewell forever,
and returned to my mother, and then and there made up my mind to leave
for Canada as soon as possible.

I had been in the city nearly two days, and as I was to be absent only
a week, I thought best to get on my journey as soon as possible. In
conversing with mother, I found her unwilling to make the attempt to
reach a land of liberty, but she counselled me to get my liberty if I
could. She said, as all her children were in slavery, she did not wish
to leave them. I could not bear the idea of leaving her among those
pirates, when there was a prospect of being able to get away from them.
After much persuasion I succeeded in inducing her to make the attempt
to get away.

The time fixed for our departure was the next night. I had with me a
little money that I had received, from time to time, from gentlemen
for whom I had done errands. I took my scanty means and purchased some
dried beef, crackers and cheese, which I carried to mother, who had
provided herself with a bag to carry it in. I occasionally thought
of my old master, and of my mission to the city to find a new one. I
waited with the most intense anxiety for the appointed time to leave
the land of slavery, in search of a land of liberty.

The time at length arrived, and we left the city just as the clock
struck nine. We proceeded to the upper part of the city, where I had
been two or three times during the day, and selected a skiff to carry
us across the river. The boat was not mine, nor did I know to whom it
did belong; neither did I care. The boat was fastened with a small
pole, which, with the aid of a rail, I soon loosened from its moorings.
After hunting round and finding a board to use as an oar, I turned
to the city, and bidding it a long farewell, pushed off my boat. The
current running very swift, we had not reached the middle of the stream
before we were directly opposite the city.

We were soon upon the Illinois shore, and, leaping from the boat,
turned it adrift, and the last I saw of it it was going down the river
at good speed. We took the main road to Alton, and passed through just
at daylight, when we made for the woods, where we remained during the
day. Our reason for going into the woods was, that we expected that Mr.
Mansfield (the man who owned my mother) would start in pursuit of her
as soon as he discovered that she was missing. He also knew that I had
been in the city looking for a new master, and we thought probably he
would go out to my masters to see if he could find my mother, and in so
doing, Dr. Young might be led to suspect that I had gone to Canada to
find a purchaser.

We remained in the woods during the day, and as soon as darkness
overshadowed the earth, we started again on our gloomy way, having
no guide but the NORTH STAR. We continued to travel by night, and
secrete ourselves in the woods by day; and every night, before emerging
from our hiding-place, we would anxiously look for our friend and
leader--the NORTH STAR. And in the language of Pierpont we might have

     "Star of the North! while blazing day
     Pours round me its full tide of light,
     And hides thy pale but faithful ray,
     I, too, lie hid, and long for night.
     For night;--I dare not walk at noon,
     Nor dare I trust the faithless moon,
     Nor faithless man, whose burning lust
     For gold hath riveted my chain;
     No other leader can I trust
     But thee, of even the starry train;
     For, all the host around thee burning,
     Like faithless man, keep turning, turning.

     In the dark top of southern pines
     I nestled, when the driver's horn
     Called to the field, in lengthening lines,
     My fellows, at the break of morn.
     And there I lay, till thy sweet face
     Looked in upon my 'hiding place,'
     Star of the North!
     Thy light, that no poor slave deceiveth,
     Shall set me free."


As we travelled towards a land of liberty, my heart would at times
leap for joy. At other times, being, as I was, almost constantly on my
feet, I felt as though I could travel no further. But when I thought
of slavery, with its democratic whips--its republican chains--its
evangelical blood-hounds, and its religious slave-holders--when I
thought of all this paraphernalia of American democracy and religion
behind me, and the prospect of liberty before me, I was encouraged to
press forward, my heart was strengthened, and I forgot that I was tired
or hungry.

On the eighth day of our journey, we had a very heavy rain, and in a
few hours after it commenced we had not a dry thread upon our bodies.
This made our journey still more unpleasant. On the tenth day, we found
ourselves entirely destitute of provisions, and how to obtain any we
could not tell. We finally resolved to stop at some farm-house, and try
to get something to eat. We had no sooner determined to do this, than
we went to a house, and asked them for some food. We were treated with
great kindness, and they not only gave us something to eat, but gave us
provisions to carry with us. They advised us to travel by day and lie
by at night. Finding ourselves about one hundred and fifty miles from
St. Louis, we concluded that it would be safe to travel by daylight,
and did not leave the house until the next morning. We travelled on
that day through a thickly settled country, and through one small
village. Though we were fleeing from a land of oppression, our hearts
were still there. My dear sister and two beloved brothers were behind
us, and the idea of giving them up, and leaving them forever, made us
feel sad. But with all this depression of heart, the thought that I
should one day be free, and call my body my own, buoyed me up, and made
my heart leap for joy. I had just been telling my mother how I should
try to get employment as soon as we reached Canada, and how I intended
to purchase us a little farm, and how I would earn money enough to buy
sister and brothers, and how happy we would be in our own FREE
HOME--when three men came up on horseback, and ordered us to stop.

I turned to the one who appeared to be the principal man, and asked
him what he wanted. He said he had a warrant to take us up. The three
immediately dismounted, and one took from his pocket a handbill,
advertising us as runaways, and offering a reward of two hundred
dollars for our apprehension and delivery in the city of St. Louis. The
advertisement had been put out by Isaac Mansfield and John Young.

While they were reading the advertisement, mother looked me in the
face, and burst into tears. A cold chill ran over me, and such a
sensation I never experienced before, and I hope never to again. They
took out a rope and tied me, and we were taken back about six miles,
to the house of the individual who appeared to be the leader. We
reached there about seven o'clock in the evening, had supper, and were
separated for the night. Two men remained in the room during the night.
Before the family retired to rest, they were all called together to
attend prayers. The man who but a few hours before had bound my hands
together with a strong cord, read a chapter from the Bible, and then
offered up prayer, just as though God had sanctioned the act he had
just committed upon a poor, panting, fugitive slave.

[Illustration: The author and his mother arrested and carried back into

The next morning a blacksmith came in, and put a pair of handcuffs on
me, and we started on our journey back to the land of whips, chains and
Bibles. Mother was not tied, but was closely watched at night. We were
carried back in a wagon, and after four days' travel, we came in sight
of St. Louis. I cannot describe my feelings upon approaching the city.

As we were crossing the ferry, Mr. Wiggins, the owner of the ferry,
came up to me, and inquired what I had been doing that I was in chains.
He had not heard that I had run away. In a few minutes we were on the
Missouri side, and were taken directly to the jail. On the way thither,
I saw several of my friends, who gave me a nod of recognition as I
passed them. After reaching the jail, we were locked up in different


I had been in jail but a short time when I heard that my master was
sick, and nothing brought more joy to my heart than that intelligence.
I prayed fervently for him--not for his recovery, but for his death.
I knew he would be exasperated at having to pay for my apprehension,
and knowing his cruelty, I feared him. While in jail, I learned that
my sister Elizabeth, who was in prison when we left the city, had been
carried off four days before our arrival.

I had been in jail but a few hours when three negro-traders, learning
that I was secured thus for running away, came to my prison-house
and looked at me, expecting that I would be offered for sale. Mr.
Mansfield, the man who owned mother, came into the jail as soon as Mr.
Jones, the man who arrested us, informed him that he had brought her
back. He told her that he would not whip her, but would sell her to a
negro-trader, or take her to New Orleans himself. After being in jail
about one week, master sent a man to take me out of jail, and send me
home. I was taken out and carried home, and the old man was well enough
to sit up. He had me brought into the room where he was, and as I
entered, he asked me where I had been? I told him I had acted according
to his orders. He had told me to look for a master, and I had been to
look for one. He answered that he did not tell me to go to Canada to
look for a master. I told him that as I had served him faithfully, and
had been the means of putting a number of hundreds of dollars into his
pocket, I thought I had a right to my liberty. He said he had promised
my father that I should not be sold to supply the New Orleans market,
or he would sell me to a negro-trader.

I was ordered to go into the field to work, and was closely watched
by the overseer during the day, and locked up at night. The overseer
gave me a severe whipping on the second day that I was in the field. I
had been at home but a short time, when master was able to ride to the
city; and on his return he informed me that he had sold me to Samuel
Willi, a merchant tailor. I knew Mr. Willi. I had lived with him three
or four months some years before, when he hired me of my master.

Mr. Willi was not considered by his servants as a very bad man, nor
was he the best of masters. I went to my new home, and found my new
mistress very glad to see me. Mr. Willi owned two servants before
he purchased me--Robert and Charlotte. Robert was an excellent
white-washer, and hired his time from his master, paying him one dollar
per day, besides taking care of himself. He was known in the city by
the name of Bob Music. Charlotte was an old woman, who attended to the
cooking, washing, &c. Mr. Willi was not a wealthy man, and did not feel
able to keep many servants around his house; so he soon decided to hire
me out, and as I had been accustomed to service in steamboats, he gave
me the privilege of finding such employment.

I soon secured a situation on board the steamer Otto, Capt. J. B.
Hill, which sailed from St. Louis to Independence, Missouri. My former
master, Dr. Young, did not let Mr. Willi know that I had run away, or
he would not have permitted me to go on board a steamboat. The boat was
not quite ready to commence running, and therefore I had to remain
with Mr. Willi. But during this time, I had to undergo a trial for
which I was entirely unprepared. My mother, who had been in jail since
her return until the present time, was now about being carried to New
Orleans, to die on a cotton, sugar, or rice plantation!

I had been several times to the jail, but could obtain no interview
with her. I ascertained, however, the time the boat in which she was to
embark would sail, and as I had not seen mother since her being thrown
into prison, I felt anxious for the hour of sailing to come. At last,
the day arrived when I was to see her for the first time after our
painful separation, and, for aught that I knew, for the last time in
this world!

At about ten o'clock in the morning I went on board of the boat, and
found her there in company with fifty or sixty other slaves. She was
chained to another woman. On seeing me, she immediately dropped her
head upon her heaving bosom. She moved not, neither did she weep. Her
emotions were too deep for tears. I approached, threw my arms around
her neck, kissed her, and fell upon my knees, begging her forgiveness,
for I thought myself to blame for her sad condition; for if I had not
persuaded her to accompany me, she would not then have been in chains.

She finally raised her head, looked me in the face, (and such a look
none but an angel can give!) and said, "_My dear son, you are not to
blame for my being here. You have done nothing more nor less than your
duty. Do not, I pray you, weep for me. I cannot last long upon a cotton
plantation. I feel that my heavenly Master will soon call me home, and
then I shall be out of the hands of the slave-holders!_"

I could bear no more--my heart struggled to free itself from the human
form. In a moment she saw Mr. Mansfield coming toward that part of the
boat, and she whispered into my ear, "_My child, we must soon part to
meet no more this side of the grave. You have ever said that you would
not die a slave; that you would be a freeman. Now try to get your
liberty! You will soon have no one to look after but yourself!_" and
just as she whispered the last sentence into my ear, Mansfield came up
to me, and with an oath, said, "Leave here this instant; you have been
the means of my losing one hundred dollars to get this wench back"--at
the same time kicking me with a heavy pair of boots. As I left her,
she gave one shriek, saying, "God be with you!" It was the last time
that I saw her, and the last word I heard her utter.

I walked on shore. The bell was tolling. The boat was about to start.
I stood with a heavy heart, waiting to see her leave the wharf. As I
thought of my mother, I could but feel that I had lost

     "------the glory of my life,
     My blessing and my pride!
     I half forgot the name of slave,
     When she was by my side."

The love of liberty that had been burning in my bosom had well-nigh
gone out. I felt as though I was ready to die. The boat moved gently
from the wharf, and while she glided down the river, I realized that my
mother was indeed

     "Gone--gone--sold and gone,
     To the rice swamp, dank and lone!"

After the boat was out of sight I returned home; but my thoughts were
so absorbed in what I had witnessed, that I knew not what I was about
half of the time. Night came, but it brought no sleep to my eyes.

In a few days, the boat upon which I was to work being ready, I went
on board to commence. This employment suited me better than living
in the city, and I remained until the close of navigation; though it
proved anything but pleasant. The captain was a drunken, profligate,
hardhearted creature, not knowing how to treat himself, or any other

The boat, on its second trip, brought down Mr. Walker, the man of whom
I have spoken in a previous chapter, as hiring my time. He had between
one and two hundred slaves, chained and manacled. Among them was a man
that formerly belonged to my old master's brother, Aaron Young. His
name was Solomon. He was a preacher, and belonged to the same church
with his master. I was glad to see the old man. He wept like a child
when he told me how he had been sold from his wife and children.

The boat carried down, while I remained on board, four or five gangs
of slaves. Missouri, though a comparatively new state, is very
much engaged in raising slaves to supply the southern market. In a
former chapter, I have mentioned that I was once in the employ of
a slave-trader, or driver, as he is called at the south. For fear
that some may think that I have misrepresented a slave-driver, I will
here give an extract from a paper published in a slave-holding state,
Tennessee, called the "Millennial Trumpeter."

"Droves of negroes, chained together in dozens and scores, and
hand-cuffed, have been driven through our country in numbers far
surpassing any previous year, and these vile slave-drivers and dealers
are swarming like buzzards around a carrion. Through this county, you
cannot pass a few miles in the great roads without having every feeling
of humanity insulted and lacerated by this spectacle, nor can you
go into any county or any neighborhood, scarcely, without seeing or
hearing of some of these despicable creatures, called negro-drivers.

"Who is a negro-driver? One whose eyes dwell with delight on lacerated
bodies of helpless men, women and children; whose soul feels diabolical
raptures at the chains, and hand-cuffs, and cart-whips, for inflicting
tortures on weeping mothers torn from helpless babes, and on husbands
and wives torn asunder forever!"

Dark and revolting as is the picture here drawn, it is from the pen of
one living in the midst of slavery. But though these men may cant about
negro-drivers, and tell what despicable creatures they are, who is it,
I ask, that supplies them with the human beings that they are tearing
asunder? I answer, as far as I have any knowledge of the state where I
came from, that those who raise slaves for the market are to be found
among all classes, from Thomas H. Benton down to the lowest political
demagogue who may be able to purchase a woman for the purpose of
raising stock, and from the doctor of divinity down to the most humble
lay member in the church.

It was not uncommon in St. Louis to pass by an auction-stand, and
behold a woman upon the auction-block, and hear the seller crying
out, "_How much is offered for this woman? She is a good cook, good
washer, a good obedient servant. She has got religion!_" Why should
this man tell the purchasers that she has religion? I answer, because
in Missouri, and as far as I have any knowledge of slavery in the other
states, the religious teaching consists in teaching the slave that he
must never strike a white man; that God made him for a slave; and that,
when whipped, he must not find fault--for the Bible says, "He that
knoweth his master's will and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many
stripes!" And slaveholders find such religion very profitable to them.

After leaving the steamer Otto, I resided at home, in Mr. Willi's
family, and again began to lay my plans for making my escape from
slavery. The anxiety to be a freeman would not let me rest day or
night. I would think of the northern cities that I had heard so much
about;--of Canada, where so many of my acquaintances had found a
refuge. I would dream at night that I was in Canada, a freeman, and on
waking in the morning, weep to find myself so sadly mistaken.

     "I would think of Victoria's domain,
       And in a moment I seemed to be there!
     But the fear of being taken again,
       Soon hurried me back to despair."

Mr. Willi treated me better than Dr. Young ever had; but instead of
making me contented and happy, it only rendered me the more miserable,
for it enabled me better to appreciate liberty. Mr. Willi was a man who
loved money as most men do, and without looking for an opportunity to
sell me, he found one in the offer of Captain Enoch Price, a steamboat
owner and commission merchant, living in the city of St. Louis. Captain
Price tendered seven hundred dollars, which was two hundred more than
Mr. Willi had paid. He therefore thought best to accept the offer. I
was wanted for a carriage driver, and Mrs. Price was very much pleased
with the captain's bargain. His family consisted besides of one child.
He had three servants besides myself--one man and two women.

Mrs. Price was very proud of her servants, always keeping them well
dressed, and as soon as I had been purchased, she resolved to have a
new carriage. And soon one was procured, and all preparations were made
for a turn-out in grand style, I being the driver.

One of the female servants was a girl some eighteen or twenty years
of age, named Maria. Mrs. Price was very soon determined to have us
united, if she could so arrange matters. She would often urge upon me
the necessity of having a wife, saying that it would be so pleasant
for me to take one in the same family! But getting married, while in
slavery, was the last of my thoughts; and had I been ever so inclined,
I should not have married Maria, as my love had already gone in
another quarter. Mrs. Price soon found out that her efforts at this
match-making between Maria and myself would not prove successful. She
also discovered (or thought she had) that I was rather partial to a
girl named Eliza, who was owned by Dr. Mills. This induced her at once
to endeavor the purchase of Eliza, so great was her desire to get me a

Before making the attempt, however, she deemed it best to talk to me a
little upon the subject of love, courtship, and marriage. Accordingly,
one afternoon she called me into her room--telling me to take a chair
and sit down. I did so, thinking it rather strange, for servants are
not very often asked thus to sit down in the same room with the master
or mistress. She said that she had found out that I did not care enough
about Maria to marry her. I told her that was true. She then asked me
if there was not a girl in the city that I loved. Well, now, this was
coming into too close quarters with me! People, generally, don't like
to tell their love stories to everybody that may think fit to ask about
them, and it was so with me. But, after blushing a while and recovering
myself, I told her that I did not want a wife. She then asked me if I
did not think something of Eliza. I told her that I did. She then said
that if I wished to marry Eliza, she would purchase her if she could.

I gave but little encouragement to this proposition, as I was
determined to make another trial to get my liberty, and I knew that
if I should have a wife, I should not be willing to leave her behind;
and if I should attempt to bring her with me, the chances would be
difficult for success. However, Eliza was purchased, and brought into
the family.


But the more I thought of the trap laid by Mrs. Price to make me
satisfied with my new home, by getting me a wife, the more I determined
never to marry any woman on earth until I should get my liberty. But
this secret I was compelled to keep to myself, which placed me in a
very critical position. I must keep upon good terms with Mrs. Price and
Eliza. I therefore promised Mrs. Price that I would marry Eliza; but
said that I was not then ready. And I had to keep upon good terms with
Eliza, for fear that Mrs. Price would find out that I did not intend to
get married.

I have here spoken of marriage, and it is very common among slaves
themselves to talk of it. And it is common for slaves to be married;
or at least to have the marriage ceremony performed. But there is no
such thing as slaves being lawfully married. There has never yet a case
occurred where a slave has been tried for bigamy. The man may have as
many women as he wishes, and the women as many men; and the law takes
no cognizance of such acts among slaves. And in fact some masters, when
they have sold the husband from the wife, compel her to take another.

There lived opposite Captain Price's, Doctor Farrar, well known in St.
Louis. He sold a man named Ben, to one of the traders. He also owned
Ben's wife, and in a few days he compelled Sally (that was her name)
to marry Peter, another man belonging to him. I asked Sally "why she
married Peter so soon after Ben was sold." She said, "because master
made her do it."

Mr. John Calvert, who resided near our place, had a woman named
Lavinia. She was quite young, and a man to whom she was about to be
married was sold, and carried into the country near St. Charles, about
twenty miles from St. Louis. Mr. Calvert wanted her to get a husband;
but she had resolved not to marry any other man, and she refused. Mr.
Calvert whipped her in such a manner that it was thought she would die.
Some of the citizens had him arrested, but it was soon hushed up. And
that was the last of it. The woman did not die, but it would have been
the same if she had.

Captain Price purchased me in the month of October, and I remained with
him until December, when the family made a voyage to New Orleans, in a
boat owned by himself, and named the "Chester." I served on board as
one of the stewards. On arriving at New Orleans, about the middle of
the month, the boat took in freight for Cincinnati; and it was decided
that the family should go up the river in her, and what was of more
interest to me, I was to accompany them.

The long looked for opportunity to make my escape from slavery was near
at hand.

Captain Price had some fears as to the propriety of taking me near a
free state, or a place where it was likely I could run away, with a
prospect of liberty. He asked me if I had ever been in a free state.
"Oh yes," said I, "I have been in Ohio; my master carried me into that
state once, but I never liked a free state."

It was soon decided that it would be safe to take me with them, and
what made it more safe, Eliza was on the boat with us, and Mrs. Price,
to try me, asked if I thought as much as ever of Eliza. I told her
that Eliza was very dear to me indeed, and that nothing but death
should part us. It was the same as if we were married. This had the
desired effect. The boat left New Orleans, and proceeded up the river.

I had at different times obtained little sums of money, which I had
reserved for a "rainy day." I procured some cotton cloth, and made me
a bag to carry provisions in. The trials of the past were all lost
in hopes for the future. The love of liberty, that had been burning
in my bosom for years, and had been well-nigh extinguished, was now
resuscitated. At night, when all around was peaceful, I would walk the
decks, meditating upon my happy prospects.

I should have stated, that, before leaving St. Louis, I went to an
old man named Frank, a slave, owned by a Mr. Sarpee. This old man was
very distinguished (not only among the slave population, but also
the whites) as a fortune-teller. He was about seventy years of age,
something over six feet high, and very slender. Indeed, he was so small
around his body, that it looked as though it was not strong enough to
hold up his head.

Uncle Frank was a very great favorite with the young ladies, who would
go to him in great numbers to get their fortunes told. And it was
generally believed that he could really penetrate into the mysteries
of futurity. Whether true or not, he had the _name_, and that is about
half of what one needs in this gullible age. I found Uncle Frank
seated in the chimney corner, about ten o'clock at night. As soon as I
entered, the old man left his seat. I watched his movement as well as
I could by the dim light of the fire. He soon lit a lamp, and coming
up, looked me full in the face, saying, "Well, my son, you have come
to get uncle to tell your fortune, have you?" "Yes," said I. But how
the old man should know what I came for, I could not tell. However, I
paid the fee of twenty-five cents, and he commenced by looking into a
gourd, filled with water. Whether the old man was a prophet, or the son
of a prophet, I cannot say; but there is one thing certain, many of his
predictions were verified.

I am no believer in soothsaying; yet I am sometimes at a loss to know
how Uncle Frank could tell so accurately what would occur in the
future. Among the many things he told was one which was enough to pay
me for all the trouble of hunting him up. It was that I _should be
free_! He further said, that in trying to get my liberty I would meet
with many severe trials. I thought to myself any fool could tell me

The first place in which we landed in a free state was Cairo, a small
village at the mouth of the Ohio river. We remained here but a few
hours, when we proceeded to Louisville. After unloading some of the
cargo, the boat started on her upward trip. The next day was the first
of January. I had looked forward to New Year's day as the commencement
of a new era in the history of my life. I had decided upon leaving the
peculiar institution that day.

During the last night that I served in slavery I did not close my
eyes a single moment. When not thinking of the future, my mind dwelt
on the past. The love of a dear mother, a dear sister, and three dear
brothers, yet living, caused me to shed many tears. If I could only
have been assured of their being dead, I should have felt satisfied;
but I imagined I saw my dear mother in the cotton-field, followed by a
merciless taskmaster, and no one to speak a consoling word to her! I
beheld my dear sister in the hands of a slave-driver, and compelled to
submit to his cruelty! None but one placed in such a situation can for
a moment imagine the intense agony to which these reflections subjected


At last the time for action arrived. The boat landed at a point which
appeared to me the place of all others to start from. I found that it
would be impossible to carry anything with me but what was upon my
person. I had some provisions, and a single suit of clothes, about
half worn. When the boat was discharging her cargo, and the passengers
engaged carrying their baggage on and off shore, I improved the
opportunity to convey myself with my little effects on land. Taking up
a trunk, I went up the wharf, and was soon out of the crowd. I made
directly for the woods, where I remained until night, knowing well that
I could not travel, even in the state of Ohio, during the day, without
danger of being arrested.

I had long since made up my mind that I would not trust myself in the
hands of any man, white or colored. The slave is brought up to look
upon every white man as an enemy to him and his race; and twenty-one
years in slavery had taught me that there were traitors, even among
colored people. After dark, I emerged from the woods into a narrow
path, which led me into the main travelled road. But I knew not which
way to go. I did not know north from south, east from west. I looked in
vain for the North Star; a heavy cloud hid it from my view. I walked up
and down the road until near midnight, when the clouds disappeared, and
I welcomed the sight of my friend--truly the slave's friend--the North

As soon as I saw it, I knew my course, and before daylight I travelled
twenty or twenty-five miles. It being in the winter, I suffered
intensely from the cold; being without an overcoat, and my other
clothes rather thin for the season. I was provided with a tinder-box,
so that I could make up a fire when necessary. And but for this, I
should certainly have frozen to death; for I was determined not to go
to any house for shelter. I knew of a man belonging to Gen. Ashly, of
St. Louis, who had run away near Cincinnati, on the way to Washington,
but had been caught and carried back into slavery; and I felt that a
similar fate awaited me, should I be seen by any one. I travelled at
night, and lay by during the day.

On the fourth day my provisions gave out, and then what to do I could
not tell. Have something to eat I must; but how to get it was the
question! On the first night after my food was gone, I went to a barn
on the road-side and there found some ears of corn. I took ten or
twelve of them, and kept on my journey. During the next day, while in
the woods, I roasted my corn and feasted upon it, thanking God that I
was so well provided for.

My escape to a land of freedom now appeared certain, and the prospects
of the future occupied a great part of my thoughts. What should be my
occupation, was a subject of much anxiety to me; and the next thing
what should be my name? I have before stated that my old master, Dr.
Young, had no children of his own, but had with him a nephew, the son
of his brother, Benjamin Young. When this boy was brought to Dr. Young,
his name being William, the same as mine, my mother was ordered to
change mine to something else. This, at the time, I thought to be one
of the most cruel acts that could be committed upon my rights; and I
received several very severe whippings for telling people that my name
was William, after orders were given to change it. Though young, I was
old enough to place a high appreciation upon my name. It was decided,
however, to call me "Sandford," and this name I was known by, not only
upon my master's plantation, but up to the time that I made my escape.
I was sold under the name of Sandford.

But as soon as the subject came to my mind, I resolved on adopting my
old name of William, and let Sandford go by the board, for I always
hated it. Not because there was anything peculiar in the name; but
because it had been forced upon me. It is sometimes common, at the
south, for slaves to take the name of their masters. Some have a
legitimate right to do so. But I always detested the idea of being
called by the name of either of my masters. And as for my father, I
would rather have adopted the name of "Friday," and been known as the
servant of some Robinson Crusoe, than to have taken his name. So I was
not only hunting for my liberty, but also hunting for a name; though I
regarded the latter as of little consequence, if I could but gain the
former. Travelling along the road, I would sometimes speak to myself,
sounding my name over, by way of getting used to it, before I should
arrive among civilized human beings. On the fifth or six day, it rained
very fast, and froze about as fast as it fell, so that my clothes were
one glare of ice. I travelled on at night until I became so chilled and
benumbed--the wind blowing into my face--that I found it impossible to
go any further, and accordingly took shelter in a barn, where I was
obliged to walk about to keep from freezing.

I have ever looked upon that night as the most eventful part of my
escape from slavery. Nothing but the providence of God, and that old
barn, saved me from freezing to death. I received a very severe cold,
which settled upon my lungs, and from time to time my feet had been
frostbitten, so that it was with difficulty I could walk. In this
situation I travelled two days, when I found that I must seek shelter
somewhere, or die.

The thought of death was nothing frightful to me, compared with that
of being caught, and again carried back into slavery. Nothing but the
prospect of enjoying liberty could have induced me to undergo such
trials, for

     "Behind I left the whips and chains,
     Before me were sweet Freedom's plains!"

This, and this alone, cheered me onward. But I at last resolved to seek
protection from the inclemency of the weather, and therefore I secured
myself behind some logs and brush, intending to wait there until some
one should pass by; for I thought it probable that I might see some
colored person, or, if not, some one who was not a slaveholder; for I
had an idea that I should know a slaveholder as far as I could see him.

The first person that passed was a man in a buggy-wagon. He looked too
genteel for me to hail him. Very soon another passed by on horseback.
I attempted to speak to him, but fear made my voice fail me. As he
passed, I left my hiding-place, and was approaching the road, when I
observed an old man walking towards me, leading a white horse. He had
on a broad-brimmed hat and a very long coat, and was evidently walking
for exercise. As soon as I saw him, and observed his dress, I thought
to myself, "You are the man that I have been looking for!" Nor was I
mistaken. He was the very man!

On approaching me, he asked me, "if I was not a slave." I looked at him
some time, and then asked him "if he knew of any one who would help
me, as I was sick." He answered that he would; but again asked, if I
was not a slave. I told him I was. He then said that I was in a very
pro-slavery neighborhood, and if I would wait until he went home, he
would get a covered wagon for me. I promised to remain. He mounted his
horse, and was soon out of sight.

After he was gone, I meditated whether to wait or not; being
apprehensive that he had gone for some one to arrest me. But I finally
concluded to remain until he should return; removing some few rods to
watch his movements. After a suspense of an hour and a half or more, he
returned with a two-horse covered wagon, such as are usually seen under
the shed of a Quaker meeting-house on Sundays and Thursdays; for the
old man proved to be a Quaker of the George Fox stamp.

He took me to his house, but it was some time before I could be induced
to enter it; not until the old lady came out, did I venture into the
house. I thought I saw something in the old lady's cap that told me
I was not only safe, but welcome, in her house. I was not, however,
prepared to receive their hospitalities. The only fault I found with
them was their being too kind. I had never had a white man to treat me
as an equal, and the idea of a white lady waiting on me at the table
was still worse! Though the table was loaded with the good things of
this life, I could not eat. I thought if I could only be allowed the
privilege of eating in the kitchen I should be more than satisfied!

Finding that I could not eat, the old lady, who was a "Thompsonian,"
made me a cup of "composition," or "number six;" but it was so strong
and hot, that I called it "_number seven_!" However, I soon found
myself at home in this family. On different occasions, when telling
these facts, I have been asked how I felt upon finding myself regarded
as a man by a white family; especially just having run away from one. I
cannot say that I have ever answered the question yet.

The fact that I was in all probability a freeman, sounded in my ears
like a charm. I am satisfied that none but a slave could place such
an appreciation upon liberty as I did at that time. I wanted to see
mother and sister, that I might tell them "I was free!" I wanted to
see my fellow-slaves in St. Louis, and let them know that the chains
were no longer upon my limbs. I wanted to see Captain Price, and let
him learn from my own lips that I was no more a chattel, but a man! I
was anxious, too, thus to inform Mrs. Price that she must get another
coachman. And I wanted to see Eliza more than I did either Mr. or Mrs.

The fact that I was a freeman--could walk, talk, eat and sleep, as a
man, and no one to stand over me with the blood-clotted cow-hide--all
this made me feel that I was not myself.

The kind friend that had taken me in was named Wells Brown. He was a
devoted friend of the slave; but was very old, and not in the enjoyment
of good health. After being by the fire awhile, I found that my feet
had been very much frozen. I was seized with a fever, which threatened
to confine me to my bed. But my Thompsonian friends soon raised me,
treating me as kindly as if I had been one of their own children. I
remained with them twelve or fifteen days, during which time they made
me some clothing, and the old gentleman purchased me a pair of boots.

I found that I was about fifty or sixty miles from Dayton, in the State
of Ohio, and between one and two hundred miles from Cleaveland, on
Lake Erie, a place I was desirous of reaching on my way to Canada. This
I know will sound strangely to the ears of people in foreign lands,
but it is nevertheless true. An American citizen was fleeing from a
democratic, republican, Christian government, to receive protection
under the monarchy of Great Britain. While the people of the United
States boast of their freedom, they at the same time keep three
millions of their own citizens in chains; and while I am seated here in
sight of Bunker Hill Monument, writing this narrative, I am a slave,
and no law, not even in Massachusetts, can protect me from the hands of
the slaveholder!

Before leaving this good Quaker friend, he inquired what my name was
besides William. I told him that I had no other name. "Well," said he,
"thee must have another name. Since thee has got out of slavery, thee
has become a man, and men always have two names."

I told him that he was the first man to extend the hand of friendship
to me, and I would give him the privilege of naming me.

"If I name thee," said he, "I shall call thee Wells Brown, after

"But," said I, "I am not willing to lose my name of William. As it was
taken from me once against my will, I am not willing to part with it
again upon any terms."

"Then," said he, "I will call thee William Wells Brown."

"So be it," said I; and I have been known by that name ever since I
left the house of my first white friend, Wells Brown.

After giving me some little change, I again started for Canada. In four
days I reached a public house, and went in to warm myself. I there
learned that some fugitive slaves had just passed through the place.
The men in the bar-room were talking about it, and I thought that it
must have been myself they referred to, and I was therefore afraid to
start, fearing they would seize me; but I finally mustered courage
enough, and took my leave. As soon as I was out of sight, I went into
the woods, and remained there until night, when I again regained the
road, and travelled on until next day.

Not having had any food for nearly two days, I was faint with hunger,
and was in a dilemma what to do, as the little cash supplied me by my
adopted father, and which had contributed to my comfort, was now all
gone. I however concluded to go to a farm-house, and, ask for something
to eat. On approaching the door of the first one presenting itself, I
knocked, and was soon met by a man who asked me what I wanted. I told
him that I would like something to eat. He asked me where I was from,
and where I was going. I replied that I had come some way, and was
going to Cleaveland.

After hesitating a moment or two, he told me that he could give me
nothing to eat, adding, "that if I would work, I could get something to

I felt bad, being thus refused something to sustain nature, but did not
dare tell him that I was a slave.

Just as I was leaving the door, with a heavy heart, a woman, who
proved to be the wife of this gentleman, came to the door, and asked
her husband what I wanted. He did not seem inclined to inform her. She
therefore asked me herself. I told her that I had asked for something
to eat. After a few other questions, she told me to come in, and that
she would give me something to eat.

I walked up to the door, but the husband remained in the passage, as if
unwilling to let me enter.

She asked him two or three times to get out of the way, and let me in.
But as he did not move, she pushed him on one side, bidding me walk in!
I was never before so glad to see a woman push a man aside! Ever since
that act; I have been in favor of "woman's rights!"

After giving me as much food as I could eat, she presented me with ten
cents, all the money then at her disposal, accompanied with a note
to a friend, a few miles further on the road. Thanking this angel of
mercy from an overflowing heart, I pushed on my way, and in three days
arrived at Cleaveland, Ohio.

Being an entire stranger in this place, it was difficult for me to find
where to stop. I had no money, and the lake being frozen, I saw that
I must remain until the opening of the navigation, or go to Canada by
way of Buffalo. But believing myself to be somewhat out of danger,
I secured an engagement at the Mansion House, as a table waiter, in
payment for my board. The proprietor, however, whose name was E. M.
Segur, in a short time, hired me for twelve dollars a month; on which
terms I remained until spring, when I found good employment on board a
lake steamboat.

I purchased some books, and at leisure moments perused them with
considerable advantage to myself. While at Cleaveland, I saw, for the
first time, an anti-slavery newspaper. It was the "_Genius of Universal
Emancipation_," published by Benjamin Lundy; and though I had no home,
I subscribed for the paper. It was my great desire, being out of
slavery myself, to do what I could for the emancipation of my brethren
yet in chains, and while on Lake Erie, I found many opportunities of
"helping their cause along."

It is well known that a great number of fugitives make their escape to
Canada, by way of Cleaveland; and while on the lakes, I always made
arrangement to carry them on the boat to Buffalo or Detroit, and thus
effect their escape to the "promised land." The friends of the slave,
knowing that I would transport them without charge, never failed to
have a delegation when the boat arrived at Cleaveland. I have sometimes
had four or five on board at one time.

In the year 1842, I conveyed, from the first of May to the first of
December, sixty-nine fugitives over Lake Erie to Canada. In 1843,
I visited Malden, in Upper Canada, and counted seventeen in that
small village, whom I had assisted in reaching Canada. Soon after
coming north I subscribed for the Liberator, edited by that champion
of freedom, William Lloyd Garrison. I had heard nothing of the
anti-slavery movement while in slavery, and as soon as I found that my
enslaved countrymen had friends who were laboring for their liberation,
I felt anxious to join them, and give what aid I could to the cause.

I early embraced the temperance cause, and found that a temperance
reformation was needed among my colored brethren. In company with a
few friends, I commenced a temperance reformation among the colored
people in the city of Buffalo, and labored three years, in which time a
society was built up, numbering over five hundred out of a population
of less than seven hundred.

In the autumn, 1843, impressed with the importance of spreading
anti-slavery truth, as a means to bring about the abolition of slavery,
I commenced lecturing as an agent of the western New York Anti-Slavery
Society, and have ever since devoted my time to the cause of my
enslaved countrymen.

From the Liberty Bell of 1848.



Of the many features which American slavery presents, the most cruel
is that of the slave-trade. A traffic in the bodies and souls of
native-born Americans is carried on in the slave-holding states to
an extent little dreamed of by the great mass of the people in the
non-slave-holding states. The precise number of slaves carried from
the slave-raising to the slave-consuming states we have no means of
knowing. But it must be very great, as forty thousand were sold and
carried out of the State of Virginia in one single year!

This heart-rending and cruel traffic is not confined to any particular
class of persons. No person forfeits his or her character or standing
in society by being engaged in raising and selling slaves to supply
the cotton, sugar, and rice plantations of the south. Few persons who
have visited the slave states have not, on their return, told of the
gangs of slaves they had seen on their way to the southern market. This
trade presents some of the most revolting and atrocious scenes which
can be imagined. Slave-prisons, slave-auctions, hand-cuffs, whips,
chains, bloodhounds, and other instruments of cruelty, are part of the
furniture which belongs to the American slave-trade. It is enough to
make humanity bleed at every pore, to see these implements of torture.

Known to God only is the amount of human agony and suffering which
sends its cry from these slave-prisons, unheard or unheeded by man,
up to His ear; mothers weeping for their children--breaking the
night-silence with the shrieks of their breaking hearts. We wish no
human being to experience emotions of needless pain, but we do wish
that every man, woman, and child in New England, could visit a southern
slave-prison and auction-stand.

I shall never forget a scene which took place in the city of St. Louis,
while I was in slavery. A man and his wife, both slaves, were brought
from the country to the city, for sale. They were taken to the rooms of
AUSTIN & SAVAGE, auctioneers. Several slave-speculators, who
are always to be found at auctions where slaves are to be sold, were
present. The man was first put up, and sold to the highest bidder. The
wife was next ordered to ascend the platform. I was present. She slowly
obeyed the order. The auctioneer commenced, and soon several hundred
dollars were bid. My eyes were intensely fixed on the face of the
woman, whose cheeks were wet with tears. But a conversation between the
slave and his new master attracted my attention. I drew near them to
listen. The slave was begging his new master to purchase his wife. Said
he, "Master, if you will only buy Fanny, I know you will get the worth
of your money. She is a good cook, a good washer, and her last mistress
liked her very much. If you will only buy her how happy I shall be."
The new master replied that he did not want her, but if she sold cheap
he would purchase her. I watched the countenance of the man while the
different persons were bidding on his wife. When his new master bid on
his wife you could see the smile upon his countenance, and the tears
stop; but as soon as another would bid, you could see the countenance
change and the tears start afresh. From this change of countenance one
could see the workings of the inmost soul. But this suspense did not
last long; the wife was struck off to the highest bidder, who proved
not to be the owner of her husband. As soon as they became aware that
they were to be separated, they both burst into tears; and as she
descended from the auction-stand, the husband, walking up to her and
taking her by the hand, said, "Well, Fanny, we are to part forever, on
earth; you have been a good wife to me. I did all that I could to get
my new master to buy you; but he did not want you, and all I have to
say is, I hope you will try to meet me in heaven. I shall try to meet
you there." The wife made no reply, but her sobs and cries told, too
well, her own feelings. I saw the countenances of a number of whites
who were present, and whose eyes were dim with tears at hearing the man
bid his wife farewell.

Such are but common occurrences in the slave states. At these
auction-stands, bones, muscles, sinews, blood and nerves, of human
beings, are sold with as much indifference as a farmer in the north
sells a horse or sheep. And this great American nation is, at the
present time, engaged in the slave-trade. I have before me now the
Washington "UNION," the organ of the government, in which I
find an advertisement of several slaves to be sold for the benefit of
the government. They will, in all human probability, find homes among
the rice-swamps of Georgia, or the cane-brakes of Mississippi.

With every disposition on the part of those who are engaged in it to
veil the truth, certain facts have, from time to time, transpired,
sufficient to show, if not the full amount of the evil, at least that
it is one of prodigious magnitude. And what is more to be wondered
at, is the fact that the greatest slave-market is to be found at the
capital of the country! The American slave-trader marches by the
capitol with his "coffle-gang,"--the stars and stripes waving over
their heads, and the constitution of the United States in his pocket!

The Alexandria Gazette, speaking of the slave-trade at the capital,
says, "Here you may behold fathers and brothers leaving behind them
the dearest objects of affection, and moving slowly along in the mute
agony of despair; there, the young mother, sobbing over the infant
whose innocent smile seems but to increase her misery. From some you
will hear the burst of bitter lamentation, while from others, the loud
hysteric laugh breaks forth, denoting still deeper agony. Such is but a
faint picture of the American slave-trade."

_Boston, Massachusetts._



     Come back to me mother! why linger away
     From thy poor little blind boy the long weary day!
     I mark every footstep, I list to each tone,
     And wonder my mother should leave me alone!
     There are voices of sorrow, and voices of glee,
     But there's no one to joy or to sorrow with me;
     For each hath of pleasure and trouble his share,
     And none for the poor little blind boy will care.

     My mother, come back to me! close to thy breast
     Once more let thy poor little blind boy be pressed;
     Once more let me feel thy warm breath on my cheek,
     And hear thee in accents of tenderness speak.
     O mother! I've no one to love me--no heart
     Can bear like thine own in my sorrows a part,
     No hand is so gentle, no voice is so kind,
     Oh! none like a mother can cherish the blind!

     Poor blind one! No mother thy wailing can hear,
     No mother can hasten to banish thy fear;
     For the slave-owner drives her o'er mountain and wild,
     And for one paltry dollar hath sold thee, poor child;
     Ah, who can in language of mortals reveal
     The anguish that none but a mother can feel.
     When man in his vile lust of mammon hath trod
     On her child, who is stricken or smitten of God!

     Blind, helpless, forsaken, with strangers alone,
     She hears in her anguish his piteous moan;
     As he eagerly listens--but listens in vain--
     To catch the loved tones of his mother again!
     The curse of the broken in spirit shall fall
     On the wretch who hath mingled this wormwood and gall,
     And his gain like a mildew shall blight and destroy,
     Who hath torn from his mother the little blind boy!


In giving a history of my own sufferings in slavery, as well as the
sufferings of others with which I was acquainted, or which came under
my immediate observation, I have spoken harshly of slaveholders, in
church and state.

Nor am I inclined to apologize for anything which I have said. There
are exceptions among slaveholders, as well as among other sinners;
and the fact that a slaveholder feeds his slaves better, clothes them
better, than another, does not alter the case; he is a slaveholder.
I do not ask the slaveholder to feed, clothe, or to treat his victim
better as a slave. I am not waging a warfare against the collateral
evils, or what are sometimes called the abuses, of slavery. I wage a
war against slavery itself, because it takes man down from the lofty
position which God intended he should occupy, and places him upon a
level with the beasts of the field. It decrees that the slave shall
not worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience; it
denies him the word of God; it makes him a chattel, and sells him in
the market to the highest bidder; it decrees that he shall not protect
the wife of his bosom; it takes from him every right which God gave
him. Clothing and food are as nothing compared with liberty. What
care I for clothing or food, while I am the slave of another? You may
take me and put cloth upon my back, boots upon my feet, a hat upon my
head, and cram a beef-steak down my throat, and all of this will not
satisfy me as long as I know that you have the power to tear me from
my dearest relatives. All I ask of the slaveholder is to give the
slave his liberty. It is freedom I ask for the _slave_. And that the
American slave will eventually get his freedom, no one can doubt. You
cannot keep the human mind forever locked up in darkness. A ray of
light, a spark from freedom's altar, the idea of inherent right, each,
all, will become fixed in the soul; and that moment his "limbs swell
beyond the measure of his chains," that moment he is free; then it is
that the slave dies to become a freeman; then it is felt that one hour
of virtuous liberty is worth an eternity of bondage; then it is, in the
madness and fury of his blood, that the excited soul exclaims,

     "From life without freedom, oh! who would not fly;
     For one day of freedom, oh! who would not die?"

The rising of the slaves in Southampton, Virginia, in 1831, has not
been forgotten by the American people. Nat Turner, a slave for life,--a
Baptist minister,--entertained the idea that he was another Moses,
whose duty it was to lead his people out of bondage. His soul was fired
with the love of liberty, and he declared to his fellow-slaves that the
time had arrived, and that "They who would be free, themselves must
strike the blow." He knew that it would be "liberty or death" with
his little band of patriots, numbering less than three hundred. He
commenced the struggle for liberty; he knew his cause was just, and he
loved liberty more than he feared death. He did not wish to take the
lives of the whites; he only demanded that himself and brethren might
be free. The slaveholders found that men whose souls were burning for
liberty, however small their numbers, could not be put down at their
pleasure; that something more than water was wanted to extinguish the
flame. They trembled at the idea of meeting men in open combat, whose
backs they had lacerated, whose wives and daughters they had torn from
their bosoms, whose hearts were bleeding from the wounds inflicted by
them. They appealed to the United States government for assistance. A
company of United States troops was sent into Virginia to put down men
whose only offence was, that they wanted to be free. Yes! northern men,
men born and brought up in the free states, at the demand of slavery,
marched to its rescue. They succeeded in reducing the poor slave again
to his chains; but they did not succeed in crushing his spirit.

Not the combined powers of the American Union, not the slaveholders,
with all their northern allies, can extinguish that burning desire
of freedom in the slave's soul! Northern men may stand by as the
body-guard of slaveholders. They may succeed for the time being in
keeping the slave in his chains; but unless the slaveholders liberate
their victims, and that, too, speedily, some modern Hannibal will
make his appearance in the southern states, who will trouble the
slaveholders as the noble Carthaginian did the Romans. Abolitionists
deprecate the shedding of blood; they have warned the slaveholders
again and again. Yet they will not give heed, but still persist in
robbing the slave of liberty.

"But for the fear of northern bayonets, pledged for the master's
protection, the slaves would long since have wrung a peaceful
emancipation from the fears of their oppressors, or sealed their
own redemption in blood." To the shame of the northern people, the
slaveholders confess that to them they are "indebted for a permanent
safe-guard against insurrection;" that "a million of their slaves stand
ready to strike for liberty at the first tap of the drum;" and but
for the aid of the north they would be too weak to keep them in their
chains. I ask in the language of the slave's poet,

     "What! shall ye guard your neighbor still,
     While woman shrieks beneath his rod,
     And while he tramples down at will
     The image of a common God?
     Shall watch and ward be 'round him set,
     Of northern nerve and bayonet?"

The countenance of the people at the north has quieted the fears of
the slaveholders, especially the countenance which they receive from
northern churches. "But for the countenance of the northern church, the
southern conscience would have long since awakened to its guilt: and
the impious sight of a church made up of slaveholders, and called the
church of Christ, been scouted from the world." So says a distinguished

Slaveholders hide themselves behind the church. A more praying,
preaching, psalm-singing people cannot be found than the slaveholders
at the south. The religion of the south is referred to every day,
to prove that slaveholders are good, pious men. But with all their
pretensions, and all the aid which they get from the northern church,
they cannot succeed in deceiving the Christian portion of the world.
Their child-robbing, man-stealing, woman-whipping, chain-forging,
marriage-destroying, slave-manufacturing, man-slaying religion,
will not be received as genuine; and the people of the free states
cannot expect to live in union with slaveholders, without becoming
contaminated with slavery. They are looked upon as one people; they
_are_ one people; the people in the free and slave states form the
"American Union." Slavery is a national institution. The nation
licenses men to traffic in the bodies and souls of men; it supplies
them with public buildings at the capital of the country to keep their
victims in. For a paltry sum it gives the auctioneer a license to sell
American men, women, and children, upon the auction-stand. The American
slave-trader, with the constitution in his hat and his license in
his pocket, marches his gang of chained men and women under the very
eaves of the nation's capitol. And this, too, in a country professing
to be the freest nation in the world. They profess to be democrats,
republicans, and to believe in the natural equality of men; that they
are "all created with certain inalienable rights, among which are
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." They call themselves a
Christian nation; they rob three millions of their countrymen of their
liberties, and then talk of their piety, their democracy, and their
love of liberty; and, in the language of Shakspeare, say,

     "And thus I clothe my naked villany,
     And seem a saint when most I play the devil."

The people of the United States, with all their high professions, are
forging chains for unborn millions, in their wars for slavery. With
all their democracy, there is not a foot of land over which the "stars
and stripes" fly, upon which the American slave can stand and claim
protection. Wherever the United States constitution has jurisdiction,
and the American flag is seen flying, they point out the slave as a
chattel, a thing, a piece of property. But I thank God there is one
spot in America upon which the slave can stand and be a man. No matter
whether the claimant be a United States president, or a doctor of
divinity; no matter with what solemnities some American court may have
pronounced him a slave; the moment he makes his escape from under the
"stars and stripes," and sets foot upon the soil of CANADA,
"the altar and the god sink together in the dust; his soul walks abroad
in her own majesty; his body swells beyond the measure of his chains,
that burst from around him; and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and
disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of universal emancipation."

But slavery must and will be banished from the United States soil:

     "Let tyrants scorn, while tyrants dare,
     The shrieks and writhings of despair;
     The end will come, it will not wait,
     Bonds, yokes, and scourges have their date;
     Slavery itself must pass away,
     And be a tale of yesterday."

But I will now stop, and let the slaveholders speak for themselves. I
shall here present some evidences of the treatment which slaves receive
from their masters; after which I will present a few of the slave-laws.
And it has been said, and I believe truly, that no people were ever
found to be better than their laws. And, as an American slave,--as one
who is identified with the slaves of the south by the scars which I
carry on my back,--as one identified with them by the tenderest ties
of nature,--as one whose highest aspirations are to serve the cause
of truth and freedom,--I beg of the reader not to lay this book down
until he or she has read every page it contains. I ask it not for my
own sake, but for the sake of three millions who cannot speak for

     From the Livingston County (Alabama) Whig of Nov. 16, 1845.

     "NEGRO DOGS.--The undersigned having bought the entire pack of
     Negro Dogs, (of the Hays & Allen stock,) he now proposesto catch
     runaway Negroes. His charge will be three dollars per day for
     hunting, and fifteen dollars for catching a runaway. He resides
     three and a half miles north of Livingston, near the lower Jones'
     Bluff road.


     "Nov. 6, 1845."

The Wilmington [North Carolina] Advertiser of July 13, 1838, contains
the following advertisement:

     "Ranaway, my Negro man Richard. A reward of $25 will be paid for
     his apprehension, DEAD or ALIVE. Satisfactory proof will only be
     required of his being killed. He has with him, in all probability,
     his wife Eliza, who ran away from Col. Thompson, now a resident of
     Alabama, about the time he commenced his journey to that state.

     "D. H. RHODES."

The St. Louis Gazette says--

"A wealthy man here had a boy named Reuben, almost white, whom he
caused to be branded in the face with the words 'A slave for life.'"

     From the N. C. Standard, July 28, 1838.

     "TWENTY DOLLARS REWARD.--Ranaway from the subscriber, a
     negro woman and two children; the woman is tall and black, and _a
     few days before she went off_ I BURNT HER ON THE LEFT SIDE OF HER
     FACE: I TRIED TO MAKE THE LETTER M, _and she kept a cloth over her
     head and face, and a fly bonnet over her head, so as to cover the
     burn_; her children are both boys, the oldest is in his seventh
     year; he is a _mulatto_ and has blue eyes; the youngest is a black,
     and is in his fifth year.

     "MICAJAH RICKS, Nash County."

     "One of my neighbors sold to a speculator a negro boy, about 14
     years old. It was more than his poor mother could bear. Her reason
     fled, and she became a perfect _maniac_, and had to be kept in
     close confinement. She would occasionally get out and run off to
     the neighbors. On one of these occasions she came to my house.
     With tears rolling down her cheeks, and her frame shaking with
     agony, she would cry out, '_Don't you hear him--they are whipping
     him now, and he is calling for me!_' This neighbor of mine, who
     tore the boy away from his poor mother, and thus broke her heart,
     was a _member of the Presbyterian church_."--_Rev. Francis Hawley,
     Baptist minister, Colebrook, Ct._

A colored man in the city of St. Louis was taken by a mob, and burnt
alive at the stake. A bystander gives the following account of the

     "After the flames had surrounded their prey, and when his clothes
     were in a blaze all over him, his eyes burnt out of his head, and
     his mouth seemingly parched to a cinder, some one in the _crowd_,
     more compassionate than the rest, proposed to put an end to his
     misery by shooting him, when it was replied, that it would be
     of no use, since he was already out of his pain. 'No,' said the
     wretch, 'I am not, I am suffering as much as ever,--shoot me,
     shoot me.' 'No, no,' said one of the fiends, who was standing
     about the sacrifice they were roasting, 'he shall not be shot; I
     would sooner slacken the fire, if that would increase his misery;'
     and the man who said this was, we understand, an _officer of
     justice_."--_Alton Telegraph._

     "We have been informed that the slave William, who murdered his
     master (Huskey) some weeks since, was taken by a party a few days
     since _from the sheriff_ of Hot Spring, and _burned alive_! yes,
     tied up to the limb of a tree and a fire built under him, and
     consumed in a slow lingering torture."--_Arkansas Gazette, Oct.
     29, 1836._

_The Natchez Free Trader_, 16th June, 1842, gives a horrible account of
the execution of the negro Joseph on the 5th of that month for murder.

     "The body," says that paper, "was taken and chained to a tree
     immediately on the bank of the Mississippi, on what is called
     Union Point. The torches were lighted and placed in the pile.
     He watched unmoved the curling flame as it grew, until it began
     to entwine itself around and feed upon his body; then he sent
     forth cries of agony painful to the ear, begging some one to blow
     his brains out; at the same time surging with almost superhuman
     strength, until the staple with which the chain was fastened to
     the tree, not being well secured, drew out, and he leaped from the
     burning pile. At that moment the sharp ring of several rifles was
     heard, and the body of the negro fell a corpse to the ground. He
     was picked up by two or three, and again thrown into the fire and

     "ANOTHER NEGRO BURNED.--We learn from the clerk of the Highlander,
     that, while wooding a short distance below the mouth of Red river,
     they were _invited to stop a short time and see another negro
     burned_."--_New Orleans Bulletin._

     "We can assure the Bostonians, one and all, who have embarked in
     the nefarious scheme of abolishing slavery at the south, that
     lashes will hereafter be spared the backs of their emissaries.
     Let them send out their men to Louisiana; they will never return
     to tell their sufferings, but they shall expiate the crime of
     interfering in our domestic institutions by being BURNED AT THE
     STAKE."--_New Orleans True American._

     "The cry of the whole south should be death, instant death, to the
     abolitionist, wherever he is caught."--_Augusta (Geo.) Chronicle._

     "Let us declare through the public journals of our country,
     that the question of slavery is not and shall not be open for
     discussion: that the system is too deep-rooted among us, and
     must remain forever; that the very moment any private individual
     attempts to lecture us upon its evils and immorality, and the
     necessity of putting means in operation to secure us from them,
     in the same moment his tongue shall be cut out and cast upon the
     dunghill."--_Columbia (S. C.) Telescope._

     From the St. Louis Republican.

     "On Friday last the coroner held an inquest at the house of Judge
     Dunica, a few miles south of the city, over the body of a negro
     girl, about 8 years of age, belonging to Mr. Cordell. The body
     exhibited evidence of the most cruel whipping and beating we have
     ever heard of. The flesh on the back and limbs was beaten to a
     jelly--one shoulder-bone was laid bare--there were several cuts,
     apparently from a club, on the head--and around the neck was
     the indentation of a cord, by which it is supposed she had been
     confined to a tree. She had been hired by a man by the name of
     Tanner, residing in the neighborhood, and was sent home in this
     condition. After coming home, her constant request, until her
     death, was for bread, by which it would seem that she had been
     starved as well as unmercifully whipped. The jury returned a
     verdict that she came to her death by the blows inflicted by some
     persons unknown whilst she was in the employ of Mr. Tanner. Mrs.
     Tanner has been tried and acquitted."

A correspondent of the N. Y. Herald writes from St. Louis, Oct. 19:

     "I yesterday visited the cell of Cornelia, the slave charged with
     being the accomplice of Mrs. Ann Tanner (recently acquitted) in
     the murder of a little negro girl, by whipping and starvation. She
     admits her participancy, but says she was compelled to take the
     part she did in the affair. On one occasion she says the child was
     tied to a tree from Monday morning till Friday night, exposed by
     day to the scorching rays of the sun, and by night to the stinging
     of myriads of musquitoes; and that during all this time the child
     had nothing to eat, but was whipped daily. The child told the same
     story to Dr. McDowell."

     From the Carroll County Mississippian, May 4th, 1844.

     "Committed to jail in this place, on the 29th of April last,
     a runaway slave named Creesy, and says she belongs to William
     Barrow, of Carroll county, Mississippi. Said woman is stout built,
     five feet four inches high, and appears to be about twenty years
     of age; she has a band of iron on each ankle, and a trace chain
     around her neck, fastened with a common padlock.

     "J. N. SPENCER, Jailer.

     "May 15, 1844."

The Savannah, Ga., Republican of the 13th of March, 1845, contains an
advertisement, one item of which is as follows:--

     "Also, at the same time and place, the following negro slaves, to
     wit: Charles, Peggy, Antonnett, Davy, September, Maria, Jenny,
     and Isaac--levied on as the property of Henry T. Hall, to satisfy
     a mortgage fi. fia. issued out of McIntosh Superior Court, in
     favor of the board of directors of the _Theological Seminary of
     the Synod of South Carolina and Georgia_, vs. said Henry T. Hall.
     Conditions, cash.

     "C. O'NEAL, Deputy Sheriff, M. C."

In the "Macon (Georgia) Telegraph," May 28, is the following:

     "About the first of March last, the negro man RANSOM
     left me, without the least provocation whatever. I will give a
     reward of $20 dollars for said negro, if taken DEAD or
     ALIVE,--and if killed in any attempt an advance of $5
     will be paid.


     "Crawford Co., Ga."

     From the Apalachicola Gazette, May 9.

     my plantation on the 6th inst., three negro men, all of dark

     "BILL is about five feet four inches high, aged about
     twenty-six, _a scar on his upper lip_, also _one on his shoulder_,
     and has been _badly cut on his arm_; speaks quick and broken, and
     a venomous look.

     "DANIEL is about the same height, chunky and well set,
     broad, flat mouth, with a pleasing countenance, rather inclined to
     show his teeth when talking, no particular marks recollected, aged
     about twenty-three.

     "NOAH is about six feet three or four inches high,
     twenty-eight years old, with rather a down, impudent look,
     insolent in his discourse, with a large mark on his breast, _a
     good many large scars_, caused by the whip, on his back--_has
     been shot in the back of his arm_ with small shot. The above
     reward will be paid to any one who will KILL the three,
     or fifty for either one, or twenty dollars apiece for them
     delivered to me at my plantation alive, on Chattahoochie, Early

     "J. MCDONALD."

     From the Alabama Beacon, June 11, 1845.

     "Ranaway, on the 15th of May, from me, a negro woman named Fanny.
     Said woman is twenty years old; is rather tall, can read and
     write, and so forge passes for herself. Carried away with her a
     pair of ear-rings, a Bible with a red cover, is very pious. She
     prays a great deal, and was, as supposed, contented and happy. She
     is as white as most white women, with straight light hair, and
     blue eyes, and can pass herself for a white woman. I will give
     five hundred dollars for her apprehension and delivery to me. She
     is very intelligent.


     "Tuscaloosa, May, 29, 1845."

     From the N. O. Commercial Bulletin, Sept. 30.

     "TEN DOLLARS REWARD.--Ranaway from the subscribers, on
     the 15th of last month, the negro man Charles, about 45 years of
     age, 5 feet 6 inches high; red complexion, has had the _upper
     lid of his right eye torn_, and _a scar on his forehead_; speaks
     English only, and stutters when spoken to; he had on when he
     left, _an iron collar, the prongs of which he broke off before
     absconding_. The above reward will be paid for the arrest of said

     W. E. & R. MURPHY,

     "132 Old Raisin."

     From the N. O. Bee, Oct. 5.

     "Ranaway from the residence of Messrs. F. Duncom & Co., the negro
     Francois, aged from 25 to 30 years, about 5 feet 1 inch in height;
     the _upper front teeth are missing_; he had _chains on both of
     his legs_, dressed with a kind of blouse made of sackcloth. A
     proportionate reward will be given to whoever will bring him back
     to the bakery, No. 74, Bourbon street."

     From the N. O. Picayune of Sunday, Dec. 17.

     "COCK-PIT.--_Benefit of Fire Company No. 1,
     Lafayette._--A cock-fight will take place on Sunday, the 17th
     inst., at the well-known house of the subscriber. As the entire
     proceeds are for the benefit of the fire company, a full
     attendance is respectfully solicited.


     "_Corner of Josephine and Tchoupitolas streets, Lafayette._"

     From the N. O. Picayune.

     "TURKEY SHOOTING.--This day, Dec. 17, from 10 o'clock, A. M., until
     6 o'clock, P. M., and the following Sundays, at M'Donoughville,
     opposite the Second Municipality Ferry."

The next is an advertisement from the New Orleans Bee, an equally
popular paper.

     "A BULL FIGHT, between a ferocious bull and a number of dogs, will
     take place on Sunday next, at 4¼ o'clock, P. M., on the other side
     of the river, at Algiers, opposite Canal street. After the bull
     fight, a fight will take place between a bear and some dogs. The
     whole to conclude by a combatbetween an ass and several dogs.

     "Amateurs bringing dogs to participate in the fight will be
     admitted gratis. Admittance--Boxes, 50 cts.; Pit, 30 cts. The
     spectacle will be repeated every Sunday, weather permitting.



The following are mostly abridged selections from the statutes of the
slave status and of the United States. They give but a faint view of
the cruel oppression to which the slaves are subject, but a strong
one enough, it is thought, to fill every honest heart with a deep
abhorrence of the atrocious system. Most of the important provisions
here cited, though placed under the name of only one state, prevail
in nearly all the states, with slight variations in language, and
some diversity in the penalties. The extracts have been made in part
from Stroud's Sketch of the Slave Laws, but chiefly from authorized
editions of the statute books referred to, found in the Philadelphia
Law Library. As the compiler has not had access to many of the later
enactments of the several states, nearly all he has cited are acts of
an earlier date than that of the present anti-slavery movement, so that
their severity cannot be ascribed to its influence.

The cardinal principle of slavery, that the slave is not to be
ranked among _sentient beings_, but among things--is an article of
property, a chattel personal--obtains as undoubted law in all the slave
states.[1]--_Stroud's Sketch_, p. 22.

The dominion of the master is as unlimited as is that which is
tolerated by the laws of any civilized country in relation to brute
animals--to _quadrupeds_; to use the words of the civil law.--_Ib._ 24.

Slaves cannot even contract matrimony.[2]--_Ib._ 61.

LOUISIANA.--A slave is one who is in the power of his master, to
whom he belongs. The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his
industry and his labor; he can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire
anything, but what must belong to his master.--_Civil Code_, Art. 35.

Slaves are incapable of inheriting or transmitting property.--_Civil
Code_, Art. 945; also Art. 175, and _Code of Practice_, Art. 103.

_Martin's Digest_, Act of June 7, 1806.--Slaves shall always be reputed
and considered real estate; shall be as such subject to be mortgaged,
according to the rules prescribed by law, and they shall be seized and
sold as real estate.--_Vol. I._, p. 612.

_Dig. Stat._ Sec 13.--No owner of slaves shall hire his slaves
to themselves, under a penalty of twenty-five dollars for each
offence.--_Vol. I._, p. 102.

Sec. 15.--No slave can possess anything in his own right, or dispose of
the produce of his own industry, without the consent of his master.--p.

Sec. 16.--No slave can be party in a civil suit, or witness in a civil
or criminal matter, against any white person.--p. 103. _See also Civil
Code_, Art. 117, p. 28.

Sec. 18.--A slave's subordination to his master is susceptible of no
restriction, (except in what incites to crime,) and he owes to him and
all his family, respect without bounds, and absolute obedience.--p. 103.

Sec. 25.--Every slave found on horseback, without a written permission
from his master, shall receive twenty-five lashes.--p. 105.

Sec. 32.--Any freeholder may seize and correct any slave found absent
from his usual place of work or residence, without some white person,
and if the slave resist or try to escape, he may use arms, and if the
slave _assault_[3] and strike him, he may _kill_ the slave.--p. 109.

Sec. 35.--It is lawful to fire upon runaway negroes who are armed, and
upon those who, when pursued, refuse to surrender.--p. 109.

Sec. 38.--No slave may buy, sell, or exchange any kind of goods, or
hold any boat, or bring up for his own use any horses or cattle, under
a penalty of forfeiting the whole.--p. 110.

Sec. 7.--Slaves or free colored persons are punished with _death_,
for wilfully burning or destroying any stack of produce or any
building.--p. 115.

Sec. 15.--The punishment of a slave for striking a white person, shall
be for the first and second offences at the discretion of the court,[4]
but not extending to life or limb, and for the third offence _death_;
but for grievously wounding or mutilating a white person, _death_ for
the first offence; provided, if the blow or wound is given in defence
of the person or _property of his master_, or the person having charge
of him, he is entirely justified.

_Act of Feb. 22, 1824_, Sec. 2.--A slave for wilfully striking his
master or mistress, or the child of either, or his white overseer, so
as to cause a bruise or shedding of blood, _shall be punished with
death_.--p. 125.

_Act of March 6, 1819._--Any person cutting or breaking any iron chain
or collar used to prevent the escape of slaves, shall be fined not less
than two hundred dollars, nor more than one thousand dollars, and be
imprisoned not more than two years nor less than six months.--p. 64 of
the session.

_Law of January 8, 1813_, Sec. 71.--All slaves sentenced to death or
perpetual imprisonment, in virtue of existing laws, shall be paid for
out of the public treasury, provided the sum paid shall not exceed $300
for each slave.

_Law of March 16, 1830_, Sec. 93.--The state treasurer shall pay the
owners the value of all slaves whose punishment has been commuted from
that of death to that of imprisonment for life, &c.

If any slave shall _happen_ to be slain for refusing to surrender him
or herself, contrary to law, or in unlawfully resisting any officer or
_other person_, who shall apprehend, or endeavor to apprehend, such
slave or slaves, &c., such officer or _other person so killing such
slave as aforesaid_, making resistance, shall be, and he is by this
act, _indemnified_, from any prosecution for such killing aforesaid,
&c.--_Maryland Laws, act of 1751, chap_ xiv., § 9.

And by the negro act of 1740, of South Carolina, it is declared:

If any slave, who shall be out of the house or plantation where such
slave shall live, or shall be usually employed, or without some white
person in company with such slave, shall _refuse to submit_ to undergo
the examination of _any white_ person, it shall be lawful for such
white person to pursue, apprehend, and moderately correct such slave
and if such slave shall assault and strike such white person, such
slave may be _lawfully killed_!!--_2 Brevard's Digest_, 231.

MISSISSIPPI. _Chapt._ 92, Sec. 110.--Penalty for any slave or free
colored person exercising the functions of a minister of the gospel,
thirty-nine lashes; but any master may permit his slave to preach
on his own premises, no slaves but his own being permitted to
assemble.--_Digest of Stat._, p. 770.

_Act of June 18, 1822_, Sec. 21.--No negro or mulatto can be a witness
in any case, except against negroes or mulattoes.--p. 749. _New Code_,

Sec. 25.--Any master licensing his slave to go at large and trade as a
freeman, shall forfeit fifty dollars to the state for the literary fund.

Penalty for teaching a slave to read, imprisonment one year. For using
language having a _tendency_ to promote discontent among free colored
people, or insubordination among slaves, imprisonment at _hard labor_,
not less than three, nor more than twenty-one years, or DEATH, at the
discretion of the court.--_L. M. Child's Appeal_, p. 70.

Sec. 26.--It is _lawful_ for _any_ person, and the duty of every
sheriff, deputy-sheriff, coroner and constable to apprehend any slave
going at large, or hired out by him, or herself, and take him or her
before a justice of the peace, who shall impose a penalty of not less
than twenty dollars, nor more than fifty dollars, on the owner, who has
permitted such slave to do so.

Sec. 32.--Any negro or mulatto, for using abusive language, or lifting
his hand in opposition to any white person, (except in self-defence
against a wanton assault,) shall, on proof of the offence by oath of
such person, receive such punishment as a justice of the peace may
order, not exceeding thirty-nine lashes.

Sec. 41--Forbids the holding of cattle, sheep or hogs by slaves, even
with consent of the master, under penalty of forfeiture, half to the
county, and half to the _informer_.

Sec. 42--Forbids a slave keeping a dog, under a penalty of twenty-five
stripes; and requires any master who permits it to pay a fine of five
dollars, and make good all damages done by such dog.

Sec. 43--Forbids slaves cultivating cotton for their own use, and
imposes a fine of fifty dollars on the master or overseer who permits

_Revised Code._--Every negro or mulatto found in the state, not able to
show himself entitled to freedom, may be sold as a slave.--p. 389. The
owner of any plantation, on which a slave comes without written leave
from his master, and not on lawful business, may inflict ten lashes for
every such offence.--p. 371.

ALABAMA.--_Aiken's Digest._ Tit. _Slaves, &c._, Sec. 31.--For
_attempting_ to teach any free colored person, or slave, to spell,
read or write, a fine of not less than two hundred and fifty dollars,
nor more than five hundred dollars!--p. 397.

Sec. 35 and 36.--Any free colored person found with slaves in a
kitchen, outhouse or negro quarter, without a written permission from
the master or overseer of said slaves, and any slave found without such
permission with a free negro on his premises, shall receive fifteen
lashes for the first offence, and thirty-nine for each subsequent
offence; to be inflicted by master, overseer, or member of any patrol
company.--p. 397.

_Toulmin's Digest._--No slave can be emancipated but by a _special_ act
of the Legislature.--p. 623.

Act Jan. 1st, 1823--Authorizes an agent to be appointed by the governor
of the state, _to sell for the benefit of the state_ all persons of
color brought into the United States and within the jurisdiction of
Alabama, _contrary to the laws of congress prohibiting the slave
trade_.--p. 643.

GEORGIA.--_Prince's Digest._ Act Dec. 19, 1818.--Penalty for any free
person of color (except regularly articled seamen) coming into the
state, a fine of one hundred dollars, and on failure of payment to be
sold as a slave.--p. 465.

Penalty for permitting a slave to labor or do business for himself,
except on his master's premises, thirty dollars per week.--p. 457.

No slave can be a party to any suit against a white man, except on
claim of his freedom, _and every colored person is presumed to be a
slave, unless he can prove himself free_.--p. 446.

Act Dec. 13, 1792--Forbids the assembling of negroes under pretence of
divine worship, contrary to the act regulating patrols, p. 342. This
act provides that any justice of the peace may disperse any assembly of
slaves which _may_ endanger the peace; and every slave found at such
meeting shall receive, _without trial_, twenty-five stripes!--p. 447.

Any person who sees more than seven men slaves without any white
person, in a high road, may whip each slave _twenty_ lashes.--p. 454.

Any slave who harbors a runaway, may suffer punishment to _any extent_,
not affecting life or limb.--p. 452.

SOUTH CAROLINA.--_Brevard's Digest._--Slaves shall be deemed sold,
taken, reputed, and adjudged in law to be _chattels personal_ in
the hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors,
administrators, and assigns, _to all intents, constructions and
purposes whatever_.--Vol. ii., p. 229.

Act of 1740, in the preamble, states that "_many_ owners of slaves and
others that have the management of them do confine them _so closely
to hard labor_, that they have _not sufficient time for natural
rest_," and enacts that no slave shall be compelled to labor more than
_fifteen_ hours in the twenty-four, from March 25th to Sept. 25th, or
_fourteen_ in the twenty-four for the rest of the year. Penalty from £5
to £20.--Vol. ii., p. 243.

[Yet, in several of the slave states, the time of work for _criminals_
whose _punishment_ is hard labor, is eight hours a day for three
months, nine hours for two months, and ten for the rest of the year.]

A slave endeavoring to entice another slave to run away, if provision
be prepared for the purpose of aiding or abetting such endeavor, shall
suffer _death_.--pp. 233 and 244.

Penalty for cruelly scalding or burning a slave, cutting out his
tongue, putting out his eye, or depriving him of any limb, a fine
of £100. For beating with a _horse_-whip, cow-skin, switch or small
stick, or putting irons on, or imprisoning a slave, _no penalty or
prohibition_.--p. 241.

Any person who, not having lawful authority to do so, shall beat a
slave, so as to disable him from _working_, shall pay fifteen shillings
a day _to the owner_, for the slave's lost time, and the charge of his
cure.--pp. 231 and 232.

A slave claiming his freedom may sue for it by some friend who will act
as guardian, but if the action be judged groundless, said guardian
shall pay _double_ costs of suit, and such damages to the owner as the
court may decide.--p. 260.

Any assembly of slaves or free colored persons, in a secret or confined
place, for mental instruction, (even if white persons _are_ present,)
is an unlawful meeting, and magistrates must disperse it, breaking
doors if necessary, and may inflict _twenty lashes_ upon each slave or
colored person present.--pp. 254 and 255.

Meetings for religious worship, before sunrise, or after 9 o'clock,
P. M., unless a majority are white persons, are forbidden; and
magistrates are required to disperse them.--p. 261.

A slave who lets loose any boat from the place where the owner has
fastened it, for the first _offence shall receive thirty-nine lashes,
and for the second shall have one ear cut off_.--p. 228.

_James' Digest._--Penalty for _killing_ a slave, on _sudden heat of
passion_, or by _undue correction_, a fine of $500 and imprisonment not
over six months.--p. 392.

NORTH CAROLINA.--_Haywood's Manual._--Act of 1798, Sec. 3, enacts,
that the killing of a slave shall be punished like that of a free man;
_except_ in the case of a slave _out-lawed_,[5] or a slave _offering to
resist_ his master, or a slave _dying under moderate correction_.--p.

Act of 1799.--Any slave set free, except for meritorious services, to
be adjudged of by the county court, may be seized by any freeholder,
committed to jail, _and sold to the highest bidder_.[6]--p. 525.

Patrols are not liable to the master for punishing his slave, unless
their conduct clearly shows malice _against the master_.--_Hawk's
Reps._, vol. i., p. 418.

TENNESSEE.--_Stat. Law_, Chap. 57, Sec. 1.--Penalty on master for
hiring to any slave his own time, a fine of not less than one dollar
nor more than two dollars a day, _half_ to the informer.--p. 679.

Chap. 2, Sec. 102.--No slave can be emancipated but on condition of
immediately removing from the state, and the person emancipating
shall give bond, in a sum equal to the slave's value, to have him
removed.--p. 279.

_Laws of 1813._ Chap. 35.--In the trial of slaves, the sheriff
chooses the court, which must consist of three justices and twelve
_slaveholders_ to serve as jurors.

ARKANSAS.--_Rev. Stat._, Sec. 4, requires the patrol to visit all
places suspected of unlawful assemblages of slaves; and sec. 5 provides
that any slave found at such assembly, or strolling about without a
pass, _shall receive_ any number of _lashes_, at the discretion of the
patrol, not exceeding twenty.--p. 604.

MISSOURI.--_Laws, I._--Any master may commit to jail, there to
remain, at _his pleasure_, any slave who refuses to obey him or his
overseer.--p. 309.

Whether a slave claiming freedom may even commence a suit for it, may
depend on the decision of a single judge.--_Stroud's Sketch_, p. 78,
note which refers to Missouri laws, I., 404.

KENTUCKY.--_Dig. of Stat._, Act Feb. 8, 1798, Sec. 5.--No colored
person may _keep_ or _carry_ gun, powder, shot, _club_ or _other
weapon_, on penalty of _thirty-nine lashes_, and forfeiting the weapon,
which any person is authorized to take.

VIRGINIA.--_Rev. Code._--Any emancipated slave remaining in the state
more than a year, may be sold by the overseers of the _poor_, for the
benefit of the _literary fund_!--Vol. i., p. 436.

Any slave or free colored person found at any school for teaching
reading or writing, by day or night, may be whipped, at the discretion
of a justice, not exceeding twenty lashes.--p. 424.

_Suppl. Rev. Code._--Any white person assembling with slaves, for
the _purpose_ of teaching them to read or write, shall be fined, not
less than 10 dollars, nor more than 100 dollars; or with free colored
persons, shall be fined not more than fifty dollars, and imprisoned not
more than two months.--p. 245.

By the revised code, _seventy-one_ offences are punished with _death_
when committed by slaves, and by nothing more than imprisonment when by
the whites.--_Stroud's Sketch_, p. 107.

_Rev. Code._--In the trial of slaves, the court consists of five
justices without juries, even in capital cases.--I., p. 420.

MARYLAND.--_Stat. Law_, Sec. 8.--Any slave, for rambling in the night,
or riding horses by day without leave, or running away, may be punished
by whipping, cropping, or branding in the cheek, or otherwise, not
rendering him unfit for labor.--p. 237.

Any slave convicted of petty treason, murder, or _wilful burning of
dwelling houses_, may be sentenced _to have the right hand cut off, to
be hanged in the usual manner, the head severed from the body, the body
divided into four quarters, and the head and quarters set up in the
most public place in the country where such fact was committed_!!--p.

Act 1717, Chap. 13, Sec. 5--Provides that any free colored person
marrying a slave, becomes a slave for life, except mulattoes born of
white women.

DELAWARE.--_Laws._--More than six men slaves, meeting together, not
belonging to one master, unless on lawful business of their owners, may
be whipped to the extent of twenty-one lashes each.--p. 104.

UNITED STATES.--_Constitution._--The chief pro-slavery provisions of
the constitution, as is generally known, are, 1st, that by virtue of
which the slave states are represented in congress for three-fifths
of their slaves;[7] 2nd, that requiring the giving up of any runaway
slaves to their masters; 3rd, that pledging the physical force of
the whole country to suppress insurrections, i. e., attempts to gain
freedom by such means as the framers of the instrument themselves used.

Act of Feb. 12, 1793--Provides that any master or his agent may seize
any person whom he claims as a "fugitive from service," and take
him before a judge of the U. S. court, or magistrate of the city or
county where he is taken, and the magistrate, on proof, in support of
the claim, to his satisfaction, must give the claimant a certificate
authorizing the removal of such fugitive to the state he fled from.[8]

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.--The act of congress incorporating Washington
city, gives the corporation power to prescribe the terms and conditions
on which free negroes and mulattoes may reside in the city. _City
Laws_, 6 and 11. By this authority, the city in 1827 enacted that any
free colored person coming there to reside, should give the mayor
satisfactory evidence of his freedom, and enter into bond with two
freehold sureties, in the sum of five hundred dollars, for his good
conduct, to be renewed each year for three years; or failing to do so,
must leave the city, or be committed to the workhouse, for not more
than one year, and if he still refuse to go, may be again committed for
the same period, and so on.--_Ib._ 198.

Colored persons residing in the city, who cannot prove their title to
freedom, shall be imprisoned as absconding slaves.--_Ib._ 198.

Colored persons found without free papers may be arrested as runaway
slaves, and after two months' notice, if no claimant appears, must be
advertised ten days, and sold to pay their jail fees.[9]--_Stroud_, 85,

The city of Washington grants a license to _trade in slaves_, for
profit, as agent, or otherwise, for four hundred dollars.--_City Laws_,
p. 249.

Reader, you uphold these laws _while you do nothing for their repeal_.
You _can do_ much. You can take and read the anti-slavery journals.
They will give you an impartial history of the cause, and arguments
with which to convert its enemies. You can countenance and aid
those who are laboring for its promotion. You can petition against
slavery; you can refuse to vote for slaveholders or pro-slavery men,
constitutions and compacts; can abstain from products of slave labor;
and can use your social influence to spread right principles and awaken
a right feeling. Be as earnest for freedom as its foes are for slavery,
and you can diffuse an anti-slavery sentiment through your whole
neighborhood, and merit "the blessing of them that are ready to perish."

The following is from the old colonial law of North Carolina:

Notice of the commitment of runaways--viz., 1741, c. 24, § 29. "An act
concerning servants and slaves."

Copy of notice containing a full description of such runaway and his
clothing.--The sheriff is to "cause a copy of such notice to be sent
to the clerk or reader of each church or chapel within his county, who
are hereby required to make publication thereof by setting up the same
in some open and convenient place, near the said church or chapel, on
every Lord's day, during the space of two months from the date thereof."

1741, c. 24, § 45.--"Which proclamation shall be published on a Sabbath
day at the door of every church or chapel, or, for want of such, at the
place where divine service shall be performed in the said county, by
the parish clerk or reader, immediately after divine service; and if
any slave or slaves, against whom proclamation hath been thus issued,
stay out and do not immediately return home, it shall be lawful for any
person or persons whatsoever to kill and destroy such slave or slaves
by such way or means as he or she shall think fit, without accusation
or impeachment of any crime for the same."

It is well known that slavery makes labor disreputable in the slave
states. Laboring men of the north, hear how contemptibly slaveholders
speak of you.

Mr. Robert Wickliffe of Kentucky, in a speech published in the
Louisville Advertiser, in opposition to those who were averse to the
importation of slaves from the states, thus discourseth:

"Gentlemen wanted to drive out the black population that they may
obtain WHITE NEGROES in their place. WHITE NEGROES have this advantage
over black negroes, they can be converted into voters; and the men
who live upon the sweat of their brow, and pay them but a dependent
and scanty subsistence, can, if able to keep ten thousand of them in
employment, come up to the polls and change the destiny of the country.

"How improved will be our condition when we have such white negroes as
perform the servile labors of Europe, of old England, and he would add
now of _New England_, when our body servants and our cart drivers, and
our street sweepers, are _white negroes_ instead of black. Where will
be the independence, the proud spirit, and chivalry of the Kentuckians

"We believe the servitude which prevails in the south far preferable
to that of the _north_, or in Europe. Slavery will exist in all
communities. There is a class which may be nominally free, but they
will be virtually _slaves_."--_Mississippian, July 6th, 1838._

"Those who depend on their daily labor for their daily subsistence can
never enter into political affairs, they never do, never will, never
can."--_B. W. Leigh in Virginia Convention, 1829._

"All society settles down into a classification of capitalists and
laborers. The former will _own_ the latter, either collectively through
the government, or individually in a state of domestic servitude as
exists in the southern states of this confederacy. If LABORERS
ever obtain the political power of a country, it is in fact in a state
of REVOLUTION. The capitalists north of Mason and Dixon's
line have precisely the same interest in the labor of the country
that the capitalists of England have in their labor. Hence it is,
that they must have a strong federal government (!) _to control_ the
labor of the nation. But it is precisely the reverse with us. We
have already not only a right to the proceeds of our laborers, but
we OWN a _class of laborers_ themselves. But let me say to
gentlemen who represent the great class of capitalists in the north,
beware that you do not drive us into a separate system, for if you do,
as certain as the decrees of heaven, you will be compelled to _appeal
to the sword to maintain yourselves at home_. It may not come in your
day; but your children's children will be covered with the blood of
domestic factions, and _a plundering mob contending for power and
conquest_."--_Mr. Pickens, of South Carolina, in Congress, 21st Jan.,

"In the very nature of things there must be classes of persons to
discharge all the different offices of society from the highest to the
lowest. Some of these offices are regarded as _degraded_, although
they must and will be performed. Hence those manifest forms of
dependent servitude which produce a sense of superiority in the masters
or employers, and of inferiority on the part of the servants. Where
these offices are performed by _members of the political community_, a
DANGEROUS ELEMENT is obviously introduced into the body politic. Hence
the alarming tendency to violate the rights of property by agrarian
legislation which is beginning to be manifest in the older states where

"In a word, the institution of domestic slavery supersedes the
the South Carolina Legislature, 1836._

"We of the south have cause now, and shall soon have greater, to
congratulate ourselves on the existence of a population among us which
excludes the POPULACE which in effect rules some of our
northern neighbors, and is rapidly gaining strength wherever slavery
does not exist--a populace made up of the dregs of Europe, and the most
worthless portion of the native population."--_Richmond Whig, 1837._

"Would you do a benefit to the horse or the ox by giving him a
cultivated understanding, a fine feeling! So far as the MERE
LABORER has the pride, the knowledge or the aspiration of a
freeman, he is unfitted for his situation. If there are sordid,
servile, _laborious_ offices to be performed, is it not better that
there should be sordid, servile, laborious beings to perform them?

"Odium has been cast upon our legislation on account of its forbidding
the elements of education being communicated to slaves. But in truth
what injury is done them by this? _He who works during the day with his
hands_, does not read in the intervals of leisure for his amusement
or the improvement of his mind, or the exception is so very rare as
scarcely to need the being provided for."--_Chancellor Harper, of
South Carolina._--_Southern Lit. Messenger._

"Our slave population is decidedly preferable, as an orderly and
laboring class, to a northern laboring class, that have just learning
enough to make them wondrous wise, and make them the most dangerous
class to well regulated liberty under the sun."--_Richmond (Virginia)


[1] In accordance with this doctrine, an act of Maryland, 1798,
enumerates among articles of property, "_slaves, working beasts,
animals of any kind, stock, furniture, plate, and so forth_."--_Ib._ 23.

[2] A slave is not admonished for incontinence, punished for adultery,
nor prosecuted for bigamy.--_Attorney General of Maryland, Md. Rep.
Vol. I._ 561.

[3] The legal meaning of assault is to _offer_ to do personal violence.

[4] A court for the trial of slaves consists of one justice of the
peace, and three freeholders, and the justice and one freeholder,
i. e., _one half the court, may convict, though the other two are for
acquittal_.--_Martin's Dig., I._ 646.

[5] A slave may be out-lawed when he runs away, conceals himself,
and, to sustain life, kills a hog, or any animal of the cattle
kind.--_Haywood's Manual_, p. 521.

[6] In South Carolina, _any_ person may seize such freed man and keep
him as his property.

[7] By the operation of this provision, twelve slaveholding states,
whose white population only equals that of New York and Ohio, send to
congress 24 senators and 102 representatives, while these two states
only send 4 senators and 59 representatives.

[8] Thus it may be seen that a _man_ may be doomed to slavery by an
authority not considered sufficient to settle a claim of _twenty

[9] The prisons of the district, built with the money of the nation,
are used as store-houses of the slaveholder's human merchandize. "From
the statement of the keeper of a jail at Washington, it appears that
in five years, upwards of 450 colored persons were committed to the
national prison in that city, for safekeeping, i. e., until they could
be disposed of in the course of the _slave trade_, besides nearly 300
who had been taken up as runaways."--_Miner's Speech in H. Rep._, 1829.

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