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Title: Narrative of Henry Box Brown - Who Escaped from Slavery Enclosed in a Box 3 Feet Long and 2 Wide
Author: Brown, Henry Box
Language: English
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                           HENRY BOX BROWN,

                       WHO ESCAPED FROM SLAVERY

                            WRITTEN FROM A



                          BY CHARLES STEARNS.

                     PUBLISHED BY BROWN & STEARNS.

                 FOR SALE BY BELA MARSH, 25 CORNHILL.

                        ABNER FORBES, PRINTER,
                             37 Cornhill.


Not for the purpose of administering to a prurient desire to “hear and
see some new thing,” nor to gratify any inclination on the part of the
hero of the following story to be honored by man, is this simple and
touching narrative of the perils of a seeker after the “boon of
liberty,” introduced to the public eye; but that the people of this
country may be made acquainted with the horrid sufferings endured by one
as, in a _portable prison_, shut out from the light of heaven, and
nearly deprived of its balmy air, he pursued his fearful journey
directly through the heart of a country making its boasts of liberty and
freedom to all, and that thereby a chord of human sympathy may be
touched in the hearts of those who listen to his plaintive tale, which
may be the means of furthering the spread of those principles, which
under God, shall yet prove “mighty to the pulling down of the
strong-holds” of slavery.

O reader, as you peruse this heart-rending tale, let the tear of
sympathy roll freely from your eyes, and let the deep fountains of human
feeling, which God has implanted in the breast of every son and daughter
of Adam, burst forth from their enclosure, until a stream shall flow
therefrom on to the surrounding world, of so invigorating and purifying
a nature, as to arouse from the “death of the sin” of slavery, and
cleanse from the pollutions thereof, all with whom you may be connected.
As Henry Box Brown’s thrilling escape is portrayed before you, let it
not be perused by you as an idle tale, while you go away “forgetting
what manner of persons you are;” but let truth find an avenue through
your sensibilities, by which it can reach the citadel of your soul, and
there dwell in all its life-giving power, expelling the whole
brotherhood of pro-slavery errors, which politicians, priests, and
selfish avarice, have introduced to the acquaintance of your
intellectual faculties. These faculties are oftener blinded by
selfishness, than are imbecile of themselves, as the powerful intellect
of a Webster is led captive to the inclinations of a not unselfish
heart; so that that which should be the ruling power of every man’s
nature, is held in degrading submission to the inferior feelings of his
heart. If man is blinded to the appreciation of the good, by a mass of
selfish sensibilities, may he not be induced to surrender his will to
the influence of truth, by _benevolent_ feelings being caused to spring
forth in his heart? That this may be the case with all whose eyes gaze
upon the picture here drawn of misery, and of endurance, worthy of a
Spartan, and such as a hero of olden times might be proud of, and
transmit to posterity, along with the armorial emblazonry of his
ancestors, is the ardent desire of all connected with the publication of
this work. A word in regard to the literary character of the tale before
you. The narrator is freshly from a land where books and schools are
forbidden under severe penalties, to all in his former condition, and of
course knoweth not letters, having never learned them; but of his
capabilities otherwise, no one can doubt, when they recollect that if
the records of all nations, from the time when Adam and Eve first placed
their free feet upon the soil of Eden, until the conclusion of the
scenes depicted by Hildreth and Macaulay, should be diligently searched,
a parallel instance of heroism, in behalf of personal liberty, could not
be found. Instances of fortitude for the defence of religious freedom,
and in cases of a violation of conscience being required; and for the
sake of offspring, of friends and of one’s country are not uncommon; but
whose heroism and ability to contrive, united, have equalled our
friend’s whose story is now before you?[1]

A William and an Ellen Craft, indeed performed an almost equally
hazardous undertaking, and one which, as a devoted admirer of human
daring has said, far exceeded any thing recorded by Macaulay, and will
yet be made the ground-work for a future Scott to build a more intensely
interesting tale upon than “the author of Waverly” ever put forth, but
they had the benefit of their eyes and ears--they were not entirely
helpless; enclosed in a moving tomb, and as utterly destitute of power
to control your movements as if death had fastened its icy arm upon you,
and yet possessing all the full tide of gushing sensibilities, and a
complete knowledge of your existence, as was the case with our friend.
We read with horror of the burial of persons before life has entirely
fled from them, but here is a man who voluntarily assumed a condition in
which he well knew all the chances were against him, and when his head
seemed well-nigh severed from his body, on account of the concussion
occasioned by the rough handling to which he was subject, see the
Spartan firmness of his soul. Not a groan escaped from his agonized
heart, as the realities of his condition were so vividly presented
before him. Death stared him in the face, but like Patrick Henry, only
when the alternative was more a matter of fact than it was to that
patriot, he exclaims, “Give me liberty or give me death;” and death
seemed to say, as quickly as the lion seizes the kid cast into its den,
“You are already mine,” and was about to wrap its sable mantle around
the form of our self-martyred hero--bound fast upon the altars of
freedom, as the Hindoo widow is bound upon the altar of a husband’s
love; when the bright angel of liberty, whose dazzling form he had so
long and so anxiously watched, as he pored over the scheme hid in the
recesses of his own fearless brain, while yet a slave, and whose shining
eyes had bewitched his soul, until he had said in the language of one of
old to Jesus, “I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest;” when this
blessed goddess stood at his side, and, as Jesus said to one lying cold
in death’s embrace, “I say unto thee, arise,” said to him, as she took
him by the hand and lifted him from his travelling tomb, “thy warfare is
over, thy work is accomplished, a free man art thou, my guidance has
availed thee, arise and breathe the air of freedom.”

Did Lazarus astonish his weeping sisters, and the surrounding multitude,
as he emerged from his house of clay, clad in the habiliments of the
grave, and did joy unfeigned spread throughout that gazing throng? How
much more astonishing seemed the birth of Mr. Brown, as he “came forth”
from a box, clothed not in the habiliments of the grave, but in those of
slavery, worse than the “silent house of death,” as his acts had
testified; and what greater joy thrilled through the wondering
witnesses, as the lid was removed from the travelling carriage of our
friend’s electing, and straightway arose therefrom a living man, a being
made in God’s own image, a son of Jehovah, whom the piety and
republicanism of this nation had doomed to pass through this terrible
ordeal, before the wand of the goddess of liberty could complete his
transformation from a slave to a free man! But we will desist from
further comments. Here is the plain narrative of our friend, and is it
asking too much of you, whose sympathies may be aroused by the recital
which follows, to continue to peruse these pages until the cause of all
his sufferings is depicted before you, and your duty under the
circumstances is clearly pointed out?

Here are the identical words uttered by him as soon as he inhaled the
fresh air of freedom, after the faintness occasioned by his sojourn in
his temporary tomb had passed away.

                         HYMN OF THANKSGIVING,

                       SUNG BY HENRY BOX BROWN,

_After being released from his confinement in the Box, at Philadelphia_.

    I waited patiently, I waited patiently for the Lord, for the Lord,
    And he inclined unto me, and heard my calling;
    I waited patiently, I waited patiently for the Lord,
    And he inclined unto me, and heard my calling;
    And he hath put a new song in my mouth,
    Ev’n a thanksgiving, Ev’n a thanksgiving, Ev’n a thanksgiving
             unto our God.

    Blessed, Blessed, Blessed, Blessed is the man, Blessed is the man,
    Blessed is the man that hath set his hope, his hope in the Lord;
    O Lord my God, Great, Great, Great,
    Great are the wondrous works which thou hast done,
    Great are the wondrous works which thou hast done, which thou hast done,
    Great are the wondrous works,
    Great are the wondrous works,
    Great are the wondrous works, which thou hast done.

    If I should declare them and speak of them, they should
             be more, more, more than I am able to express.
    I have not kept back thy loving kindness and truth from the
             great congregation,
    I have not kept back thy loving kindness and truth from the
             great congregation.

    Withdraw not thou thy mercy from me,
    Withdraw not thou thy mercy from me, O Lord;
    Let thy loving kindness and thy truth always preserve me,
    Let all those that seek thee be joyful and glad,
    Let all those that seek thee, be joyful and glad, be joyful,
             be glad, be joyful and glad, be joyful, be joyful, be joyful,
             be joyful, be joyful and glad, be glad in thee.

    And let such as love thy salvation,
    And let such as love thy salvation, say always,
    The Lord be praised,
    The Lord be praised:
    Let all those that seek thee be joyful and glad,
    And let such as love thy salvation, say always,
    The Lord be praised,
    The Lord be praised,
    The Lord be praised.

      _Boston, Sept. 1, 1849._


I am not about to harrow the feelings of my readers by a terrific
representation of the untold horrors of that fearful system of
oppression, which for thirty-three long years entwined its snaky folds
about my soul, as the serpent of South America coils itself around the
form of its unfortunate victim. It is not my purpose to descend deeply
into the dark and noisome caverns of the hell of slavery, and drag from
their frightful abode those lost spirits who haunt the souls of the poor
slaves, daily and nightly with their frightful presence, and with the
fearful sound of their terrific instruments of torture; for other pens
far abler than mine have effectually performed that portion of the labor
of an exposer of the enormities of slavery. Slavery, like the shield
discovered by the knights of olden time, has two diverse sides to it;
the one, on which is fearfully written in letters of blood, the
character of the mass who carry on that dreadful system of unhallowed
bondage; the other, touched with the pencil of a gentler delineator, and
telling the looker on, a tale of comparative freedom, from the terrible
deprivations so vividly portrayed on its opposite side.

My book will present, if possible, the beautiful side of the picture of
slavery; will entertain you with stories of partial kindness on the part
of my master, and of comparative enjoyment on my own part, as I grew up
under the benign influence of the blessed system so closely connected
with our “republican institutions,” as Southern politicians tell us.

From the time I first breathed the air of human existence, until the
hour of my escape from bondage, I did not receive but one whipping. I
never suffered from lack of food, or on account of too extreme labor;
nor for want of sufficient clothing to cover my person. My tale is not,
therefore, one of horrid inflictions of the lash upon my naked body; of
cruel starvings and of insolent treatment; but is the very best
representation of slavery which can be given; therefore, reader, allow
me to inform you, as you, for aught I know, may be one of those degraded
mortals who fancy that if no blows are inflicted upon the slave’s body,
and a plenty of “bread and bacon” is dealed out to him, he is therefore
no sufferer, and slavery is not a cruel institution; allow me to inform
you, that I did not escape from such deprivations. It was not for fear
of the lash’s dreaded infliction, that I endured that fearful
imprisonment, which you are waiting to read concerning; nor because of
destitution of the necessaries of life, did I enclose myself in my
travelling prison, and traverse your boasted land of freedom, a portion
of the time with my head in an inverted position, as if it were a
terrible crime for me to endeavor to escape from slavery.

Far beyond, in terrible suffering, all outward cruelties of the foul
system, are those inner pangs which rend the heart of fond affection,
when the “bone of your bone, and the flesh of your flesh” is separated
from your embrace, by the ruthless hand of the merciless tyrant, as he
plucks from your heart of love, the one whom God hath given you for a
“help-meet” through the journey of life; and more fearful by far than
all the blows of the bloody lash, or the pangs of cruel hunger are those
lashings of the _heart_, which the best of slaveholders inflict upon
their happy and “well off” slaves, as they tear from their grasp the
pledges of love, smiling at the side of devoted attachment. Tell me not
of kind masters under slavery’s hateful rule! There is no such thing as
a person of that description; for, as you will see, my master, one of
the most distinguished of this uncommon class of slaveholders, hesitated
not to allow the wife of my love to be torn from my fond embrace, and
the darling idols of my heart, my little children, to be snatched from
my arms, and thus to doom them to a separation from me, more dreadful to
all of us than a large number of lashes, inflicted on us daily. And yet
to this fate I was continually subject, during a large portion of the
time, when heaven _seemed_ to smile propitiously above me; and no black
clouds of fearful character lowered over my head. Heaven save me from
kind masters, as well as from those called more cruel; for even their
“tender mercies are cruel,” and what no freeman could endure for a
moment. My tale necessarily lacks that thrilling interest which is
attached to the more than romantic, although perfectly true descriptions
of a life in slavery, given by my numerous forerunners in the work of
sketching a slave’s personal experience; but I shall endeavor to
intermingle with it other scenes which came under my own observation,
which will serve to convince you, that if I was spared a worse fate
than actually fell to my lot, yet my comrades around me were not so
fortunate; but were the victims of the ungovernable rage of those men,
of whose characters one cannot be informed, without experiencing within
his soul, a rushing of overflowing emotions of pity, indignation and

I first drew the breath of life in Louisa County, Va., forty-five miles
from the city of Richmond, in the year 1816. I was born a slave. Not
because at the moment of my birth an angel stood by, and declared that
such was the will of God concerning me; although in a country whose most
honored writings declare that all men have a right to liberty, given
them by their Creator, it seems strange that I, or any of my brethren,
could have been born without this inalienable right, unless God had thus
signified his departure from his usual rule, as described by our
fathers. Not, I say, on account of God’s willing it to be so, was I born
a slave, but for the reason that nearly all the people of this country
are united in legislating against heaven, and have contrived to vote
down our heavenly father’s rules, and to substitute for them, that cruel
law which binds the chains of slavery upon one sixth part of the
inhabitants of this land. I was born a slave! and wherefore? Tyrants,
remorseless, destitute of religion and principle, stood by the couch of
my mother, as heaven placed a pure soul, in the infantile form, there
lying in her arms--a new being, never having breathed earth’s atmosphere
before; and fearlessly, with no compunctions of remorse, stretched forth
their bloody arms and pressed the life of God from me, baptizing my soul
and body as their own property; goods and chattels in their hands! Yes,
they robbed me of myself, before I could know the nature of their wicked
acts; and for ever afterwards, until I took possession of my own soul
and body, did they retain their stolen property. This was why I was born
a slave. Reader, can you understand the horrors of that fearful name?
Listen, and I will assist you in this difficult work. My father, and my
_mother_ of course, were slaves before me; but both of them are now
enjoying the invaluable boon of liberty, having purchased themselves, in
this land of freedom! At an early age, my mother would take me on her
knee, and pointing to the forest trees adjacent, now being stripped of
their thick foliage by autumnal winds, would say to me, “my son, as
yonder leaves are stripped from off the trees of the forest, so are the
children of slaves swept away from them by the hands of cruel tyrants;”
and her voice would tremble, and she would seem almost choked with her
deep emotions, while the big tears would find their way down her
saddened cheeks, as she fondly pressed me to her heaving bosom, as if to
save me from so dreaded a calamity. I was young then, but I well
recollect the sadness of her countenance, and the mournfulness of her
words, and they made a deep impression upon my youthful mind. Mothers of
the North, as you gaze upon the free forms of your idolized little ones,
as they playfully and confidently move around you, O if you knew that
the lapse of a few years would infallibly remove them from your
affectionate care, not to be laid in the silent grave, “where the wicked
cease from troubling,” but to be the sport of cruel men, and the victims
of barbarous tyrants, who would snatch them from your side, as the
robber seizes upon the bag of gold in the traveller’s hand; O, would
not your life then be rendered a miserable one indeed? Who can trace the
workings of a slave mother’s soul, as she counts over the hours, the
departure of which, she almost knows, will rob her of her darling
children, and consign them to a fate more horrible than death’s cold
embrace! O, who can hear of these cruel deprivations, and not be aroused
to action in the slave’s behalf?

My mother used to instruct me in the principles of morality, as much as
she was able; but I was deplorably ignorant on religious subjects, for
what ideas can a slave have of religion, when those who profess it
around him, are demons in human shape oftentimes, as you will presently
see was the case with my master’s overseer? My mother used to tell me
not to steal, and not to lie, and to behave myself properly in other
respects. She took a great deal of pains with me and my brother; which
resulted in our endeavors to conduct ourselves with propriety. As a
specimen of the religious knowledge of the slaves, I will state here my
ideas in regard to my master; assuring the reader that I am not joking,
but stating what was the opinion of all the slave children on my
master’s plantation; and I have often talked it over with my early
associates, and my mother, and enjoyed hearty laughs at the absurdity of
our youthful ideas.

I really believed my old master was Almighty God, and that his son, my
young master, was Jesus Christ.[2] One reason I had for this belief
was, that when it was about to thunder, my old master would approach us,
if we were in the yard, and say, “All you children run into the house
now, for it is going to thunder,” and after the shower was over, we
would go out again, and he would approach us smilingly, and say, “What a
fine shower we have had,” and bidding us look at the flowers in the
garden, would say, “how pretty the flowers look now.” We thought that
_he_ thundered, and caused the rain to fall; and not until I was eight
years of age, did I get rid of this childish superstition. Our master
was uncommonly kind, and as he moved about in his dignity, he seemed
like a god to us, and probably he did not dislike our reverential
feelings towards him. All the slaves called his son, our Saviour, and
the way I was enlightened on this point was as follows. One day after
returning from church, my mother told father of a woman who wished to
join the church. She told the preacher she had been baptized by one of
the slaves, who was called from his office, “John the Baptist;” and on
being asked by the minister if she believed “that our Saviour came into
the world, and had died for the sins of man,” she replied, that she
“knew he had come into the world,” but she “had not heard he was dead,
as she lived so far from the road, she did not learn much that was going
on in the world.” I then asked mother, if young master was dead. She
said it was not him they were talking about; it was “our Saviour in
heaven.” I then asked her if there were two Saviours, when she told me
that young master was not “our Saviour,” which filled me with
astonishment, and I could not understand it at first. Not long after
this, my sister became anxious to have her soul converted, and shaved
the hair from her head, as many of the slaves thought they could not be
converted without doing this. My mother reproved her, and began to tell
her of God who dwelt in heaven, and that she must pray to him to convert
her. This surprised me still more, and I asked her if old master was not
God; to which she replied that he was not, and began to instruct me a
little in reference to the God of heaven. After this, I believed there
was a God who ruled the world, but I did not previously, have the least
idea of any such being. And why should not my childish fancy be correct,
according to the blasphemous teachings of the heathen system of slavery?
Does not every slaveholder assume exclusive control over all the actions
of his unfortunate victims? Most assuredly he does, as this extract from
the laws of a slaveholding State will show you. “A slave is one who is
in the power of his master, to whom he belongs. A slave owes to his
master and all his family, _respect without bounds and absolute
obedience_.” How tallies this with the unalterable law of Jehovah, “Thou
shalt have no other gods before me?” Does not the system of slavery
effectually shut out from the slave’s heart, all true knowledge of the
eternal God, and doom him to grope his perilous way, amid the thick
darkness of unenlightened heathenism, although he dwells in a land
professing much religion, and an entire freedom from the superstitions
of paganism?

Let me tell you my opinion of the slaveholding religion of this land. I
believe in a hell, where the wicked will forever dwell, and knowing the
character of slaveholders and slavery, it is my settled belief, as it
was while I was a slave, even though I was treated kindly, that _every_
slaveholder will infallibly go to that hell, unless he repents. I do not
believe in the religion of the Southern churches, nor do I perceive any
great difference between them, and those at the North, which uphold

While a young lad, my principal employment was waiting upon my master
and mistress, and at intervals taking lessons in what is the destiny of
most of the slaves, the cultivation of the plantation. O how often as
the hot sun sent forth its scorching rays upon my tender head, did I
look forward with dismay, to the time, when I, like my fellow slaves,
should be driven by the task-master’s cruel lash, to the performance of
unrequited toil upon the plantation of my master. To this expectation is
the slave trained. Like the criminal under sentence of death, he notches
upon his wooden stick, as Sterne’s captive did, the days, after the
lapse of which he must be introduced to his dreaded fate; in the case of
the criminal, merely death--a cessation from the pains and toils of
life; but in our cases, the commencement of a living death; a death
never ending, second in horror only to the eternal torment of the wicked
in a future state. Yea, even worse than that, for there, a God of love
and mercy holds the rod of punishment in his own hand; but in our case,
it is held by men from whom almost the last vestige of goodness has
departed, and in whose hearts there dwells hardly a spark of humanity,
certainly not enough to keep them from the practice of the most inhuman
crimes. Imagine, reader, a fearful cloud, gathering blackness as it
advances towards you, and increasing in size constantly; hovering in the
deep blue vault of the firmament above you, which cloud seems loaded
with the elements of destruction, and from the contents of which you are
certain you cannot escape. You are sailing upon the now calm waters of
the broad and placid deep, spreading its “unadorned bosom” before you,
as far as your eye can reach,

    “Calm as a slumbering babe,
     Tremendous Ocean lays;”

and on its “burnished waves,” gracefully rides your little vessel,
without fear or dismay troubling your heart. But this fearful cloud is
pointed out to you, and as it gathers darkness, and rushes to the point
of the firmament overhanging your fated vessel, O what terror then
seizes upon your soul, as hourly you expect your little bark to be
deluged by the contents of the cloud, and riven by the fierce lightnings
enclosed in that mass of angry elements. So with the slave, only that he
knows his chances of escape are exceedingly small, while you may very
likely outlive the storm.

To this terrible apprehension we are all constantly subject. To-day,
master may smile lovingly upon us, and the sound of the cracking whip
may be hushed, but the dread uncertainty of our future fate still hangs
over us, and to-morrow may witness a return of all the elements of
fearful strife, as we emphatically “know not what a day may bring
forth.” The sweet songsters of the air, as it were, may warble their
musical notes ever so melodiously, harmonizing with the soft-blowing of
the western winds which invigorates our frames, and the genial warmth of
the early sun may fill us with pleasurable emotions; but we know that
ere long, this sweet singing must be silenced by the fierce cracking of
the bloody lash, falling on our own shoulders, and that the cool
breezes and the gentle heat of early morn, must be succeeded by the hot
winds and fiery rays of Slavery’s meridian day. The slave has _no
certainty_ of the enjoyment of _any privilege whatever_! All his fancied
blessings, without a moment’s warning being granted to him, may be swept
forever from his trembling grasp. Who will then say that “disguise
itself” as Slavery will, it is not “a bitter cup,” the mixture whereof
is gall and wormwood?

My brother and myself, were in the practice of carrying grain to mill, a
few times a year, which was the means of furnishing us with some
information respecting other slaves. We often went twenty miles, to a
mill owned by a Col. Ambler, in Yansinville county, and used to improve
our opportunities for gaining information. Especially desirous were we,
of learning the condition of slaves around us, for we knew not how long
we should remain in as favorable hands as we were then. On one occasion,
while waiting for our grain, we entered a house in the neighborhood, and
while resting ourselves there, we saw a number of forlorn-looking beings
pass the door, and as they passed, we noticed that they turned and gazed
earnestly upon us. Afterwards, about fifty performed the same act, which
excited our minds somewhat, as we overheard some of them say, “Look
there, and see those two colored men with shoes, vests and hats on,” and
we determined to obtain an interview with them. Accordingly, after
receiving some bread and meat from our hosts, we followed these abject
beings to their quarters;--and such a sight we had never witnessed
before, as we had always lived on our master’s plantation, and this was
about the first of our journeys to the mill. They were dressed with
shirts made of coarse bagging, such as coffee-sacks are made from, and
some kind of light substance for pantaloons, and _no other clothing
whatever_. They had on no shoes, hats, vests, or coats, and when my
brother asked them why they spoke of our being dressed with those
articles of clothing, they said they had “never seen negroes dressed in
that way before.” They looked very hungry, and we divided our bread and
meat among them, which furnished them only a mouthful each. They never
had any meat, they said, given them by their masters. My brother put
various questions to them, such as, “if they had wives?” “did they go to
church?” “had they any sisters?” &c. The one who gave us the
information, said they had wives, but were obliged to marry on their own
plantation. Master would not allow them to go away from home to marry,
consequently he said they were all related to each other, and master
made them marry, _whether related or not_. My brother asked this man to
show him his sisters; he said he could not tell them from the rest,
_they were all his sisters_; and here let me state, what is well known
by many people, that no such thing as real marriage is allowed to exist
among the slaves. Talk of marriage under such a system! Why, the owner
of a Turkish harem, or the keeper of a house of ill-fame, might as well
allow the inmates of their establishments to marry as for a Southern
slaveholder to do the same. Marriage, as is well known, is the voluntary
and perfect union of one man with one woman, without depending upon the
will of a third party. This never can take place under slavery, for the
moment a slave is allowed to form such a connection as he chooses, the
spell of slavery is dissolved. The slave’s wife is his, only at the
will of her master, who may violate her chastity with impunity. It is my
candid opinion that one of the strongest motives which operate upon the
slaveholders, and induce them to retain their iron grasp upon the
unfortunate slave, is because it gives them such unlimited control in
this respect over the female slaves. The greater part of slaveholders
are licentious men, and the most respectable and the kindest of masters,
keep some of their slaves as mistresses. It is for their pecuniary
interest to do so in several respects. Their progeny is so many dollars
and cents in their pockets, instead of being a bill of expense to them,
as would be the case if their slaves were free; and mulatto slaves
command a higher price than dark colored ones; but it is too horrid a
subject to describe. Suffice it to say, that no slave has the least
certainty of being able to retain his wife or her husband a single hour;
so that the slave is placed under strong inducements not to form a union
of _love_, for he knows not how soon the chords wound around his heart
would be snapped asunder, by the hand of the brutal slave-dealer.
Northern people sustain slavery, knowing that it is a system of perfect
licentiousness, and yet go to church and boast of their purity and

On this plantation, the slaves were never allowed to attend church, but
managed their religious affairs in their own way. An old slave, whom
they called Uncle John, decided upon their piety, and would baptize them
during the silent watches of the night, while their master was “taking
his rest in sleep.” Thus is the slave under the necessity of even
“saving his soul” in the hours when the eye of his master, who usurps
the place of God over him, is turned from him. Think of it, ye who
contend for the necessity of these rites, to constitute a man a
Christian! By night must the poor slave steal away from his bed of
straw, and leaving his miserable hovel, must drag his weary limbs to
some adjacent stream of water, where a fellow slave, as ignorant as
himself, proceeds to administer the ordinance of baptism; and as he
plunges his comrades into the water, in imitation of the Baptist of old,
how he trembles, lest the footsteps of his master should be heard,
advancing to their Bethesda,--knowing that if such should be the case,
the severe punishment that awaits them all. Baptists, are ye striking
hands with Southern churches, which thus exclude so many slaves from the
“waters of salvation?”

But we were obliged to cut short our conversation with these slaves, by
beholding the approach of the overseer, who was directing his steps
towards us, like a bear seeking its prey. We had only time to ask this
man, “if they were often whipped?” to which he replied, “that not a day
passed over their heads, without some of their number being brutally
punished; and,” said he, “we shall have to suffer for this talk with
you.” He then told us, that many of them had been severely whipped that
very morning, for having been baptized the night before. After we left
them, we looked back, and heard the screams of these poor creatures,
suffering under the blows of the hard-hearted overseer, for the crime of
talking with us;--which screams sounded in our ears for some time. We
felt thankful that we were exempted from such terrible treatment; but
still, we knew not how soon we should be subject to the same cruel fate.
By this time we had returned to the mill, where we met a young man, (a
relation of the owner of this plantation,) who for some time appeared to
be eyeing us quite attentively. At length he asked me if I had “ever
been whipped,” and when I told him I had not, he replied, “Well, you
will neither of you ever be of any value, then;” so true is it that
whipping is considered a necessary part of slavery. Without this
practice, it could not stand a single day. He expressed a good deal of
surprise that we were allowed to wear hats and shoes,--supposing that a
slave had no business to wear such clothing as his master wore. We had
brought our fishing-lines with us, and requested the privilege to fish
in his stream, which he roughly denied us, saying, “we do not allow
niggers to fish.” Nothing daunted, however, by this rebuff, my brother
went to another place, and was quite successful in his undertaking,
obtaining a plentiful supply of the finny tribe; but as soon as this
youngster perceived his good luck, he ordered him to throw them back
into the stream, which he was obliged to do, and we returned home
without them.

We finally abandoned visiting this mill, and carried our grain to
another, a Mr. Bullock’s, only ten miles distant from our plantation.
This man was very kind to us, took us into his house and put us to bed,
took charge of our horses, and carried the grain himself into the mill,
and in the morning furnished us with a good breakfast. I asked my
brother why this man treated us so differently from our old miller.
“Oh,” said he, “this man is not a slaveholder!” Ah, that explained the
difference; for there is nothing in the southern character averse to
gentleness. On the contrary, if it were not for slavery’s withering
touch, the Southerners would be the kindest people in the land. Slavery
possesses the power attributed to one of old, of changing the nature of
all who drink of its vicious cup.

    “---- ---- ---- Which, as they taste,
    Soon as the potion works, their _human_ countenance,
    The express resemblance of the gods, is changed
    Into some brutish form of wolf, or bear,
    Or ounce, or tiger, hog, or bearded goat;
    And they, so perfect is their misery,
    Not once perceive their foul disfigurement,
    But boast themselves more comely than before.”

Under the influence of slavery’s polluting power, the most gentle women
become the fiercest viragos, and the most benevolent men are changed
into inhuman monsters. It is true of the northern man who goes South

    “_Whoever_ tastes, loses his upright shape,
     And downward falls, into a _grovelling swine_.”

This non-slaveholder also allowed us to catch as many fish as we
pleased, and even furnished us with fishing implements. While at this
mill, we became acquainted with a colored man from another part of the
country; and as our desire was strong to learn how our brethren fared in
other places, we questioned him respecting his treatment. He complained
much of his hard fate,--said he had a wife and one child, and begged for
some of our fish to carry to his wife; which my brother gladly gave him.
He said he was expecting to have some money in a few days, which would
be “_the first he ever had in his life_!” He had sent a thousand
hickory-nuts to market, for which he afterwards informed us he had
received thirty-six cents, which he gave to his wife, to furnish her
with some little article of comfort. This was the sum total of all the
money he had ever been the possessor of! Ye northern pro-slavery men, do
you regard this as robbery, or not? The whole of this man’s earnings had
been robbed from him during his entire life, except simply his coarse
food and miserable clothing, the whole expense of which, for a
plantation slave, does not exceed twenty dollars a year. This is one
reason why I think every slaveholder will go to hell; for my Bible
teaches me that no _thief_ shall enter heaven; and I know every
slaveholder is a thief; and I rather think you would all be of my
opinion if you had ever been a slave. But now, assisting these thieves,
and being made rich by them, you say they are not robbers; just as
wicked men generally shield their abettors.

On our return from this place, we met a colored man and woman, who were
very cross to each other. We inquired as to the cause of their trouble,
and the man told us, that “women had such tongues!” that some of them
had stolen a sheep, and this woman, after eating of it, went and told
their master, and they all had to receive a severe whipping. And here
follows a specimen of slaveholding morality, which will show you how
much many of the masters care for their slaves’ stealing. This man
enjoined upon his slaves never to steal from him again, but to _steal
from his neighbors_, and he would keep them from punishment, if they
would furnish him with a portion of the meat! And why not? For is it any
worse for the slaveholders to steal from one another, than it is to
steal from their helpless slaves? Not long after, these slaves availed
themselves of their master’s assistance, and stole an animal from a
neighboring plantation, and according to agreement, furnished their
master with his share. Soon the owner of the missing animal came rushing
into the man’s house, who had just eaten of the stolen food, and, in a
very excited manner, demanded reparation from him, for the beast stolen,
as he said, by this man’s slaves. The villain, hardly able to stand
after eating so bountifully of his neighbor’s pork, exclaimed loudly,
“my servants know no more about your hogs than I do!” which was strictly
true; and the loser of the swine went away satisfied. This man told his
slaves that it was a sin to steal from him, but none to steal from his
neighbors! My brother told the slave we were conversing with, that it
was as much of a sin in God’s sight, for him to steal from one, as from
the other. “Oh,” said the slave, “master says _negroes have nothing to
do with God_!” He further informed us that his master and mistress lived
very unhappily together, on account of the maid who waited upon them.
She had no husband, but had several yellow children. After we left them,
they went to a fodder-stack, and took out a jug, and drank of its
contents. My brother’s curiosity was excited to learn the nature of
their drink; and watching his opportunity, unobserved by them, he
slipped up to the stack, and ascertained that the jug was nearly full of
Irish whiskey. He carried it home with him, and the next time we visited
the mill, he returned the jug to its former place, filled with molasses,
purchased with his own money, instead of the fiery drink which it
formerly contained. Some time after this, the master of this man
discovered a great falling off in the supply of stolen meat furnished
him by the slaves, and questioned this man in reference to the cause of
such a lamentable diminution in the supply of hog-meat in particular.
The slave told him the story of the jug, and that he had ceased
drinking, which was sad news for the pork-loving gentleman.

I will now return to my master’s affairs. My young master’s brother was
a very benevolent man, and soon became convinced that it was wrong to
hold men in bondage; which belief he carried into practice by
emancipating forty slaves at one time, and paying the expenses of their
transportation to a free state. But old master, although naturally more
kind-hearted than his neighbors, could not always remain as impervious
to the assaults of the pro-slavery demon; and as stated previously, that
all who drank of this hateful cup were transformed into some vile
animal, so he became a perfect brute in his treatment of his slaves. I
cannot account for this change, only on the supposition, that experience
had convinced him that kind treatment was not as well adapted to the
production of crops, as a severer kind of discipline. Under the elating
influence of freedom’s inspiring sound, men will labor much harder, than
when forced to perform unpleasant tasks, the accomplishment of which
will be of no value to themselves; but while the slave is held as such,
it is difficult for him to feel as he would feel, if he was a free man,
however light may be his tasks, and however kind may be his master. The
lash is still held above his head, and _may_ fall upon him, even if its
blows are for a long time withheld. This the slave realizes; and hence
no kind treatment can destroy the depressing influence of a
consciousness of his being a slave,--no matter how lightly the yoke of
slavery may rest upon his shoulders. He knows the yoke is there; and
that at any time its weight may be made heavier, and his form almost
sink under its weary burden; but give him his liberty, and new life
enters into him immediately. The iron yoke falls from his chafed
shoulders; the collar, even if it was a silken one, is removed from his
enslaved person; and the chains, although made of gold, fall from his
bound limbs, and he walks forth with an elastic step, to enjoy the
realities of his new existence. Now he is ready to perform irksome
tasks; for the avails of his labor will be of value to himself, and with
them he can administer comfort to those near and dear to him, and to the
world at large, as well as provide for his own intellectual welfare;
whereas before, however kind his treatment, all his earnings more than
his expenses went to enrich his master. It is on this account, probably,
that those who have undertaken to carry out some principles of humanity
in their treatment of their slaves, have been generally frowned upon by
their neighbors; and they have been forced either to emancipate their
slaves, or to return to the cruel practices of those around them. My
young master preferred the former alternative; my old master adopted the
latter. We now began to taste a little of the horrors of slavery; so
that many of the slaves ran away, which had not been the case before. My
master employed an overseer also, about this time, which he always
refused to do previously, preferring to take charge of us himself; but
the clamor of the neighbors was so great at his mild treatment of his
slaves, that he at length yielded to the popular will around him, and
went “with the multitude to do evil,” and hired an overseer. This was an
end of our favorable treatment; and there is no telling what would have
been the result of this new method among slaves so unused to the whip as
we were, if in the midst of this experiment, old master had not been
called upon to pay “the debt of nature,” and to “go the way of all the
earth.” As he was about to expire, he sent for me and my brother, to
come to his bedside. We ran with beating hearts, and highly elated
feelings, not doubting that he was about to confer upon us the boon of
freedom, as we expected to be set free when he died; but imagine my deep
disappointment, when the old man called me to his side and said to me,
“Henry, you will make a good plough-boy, or a good gardener; now you
must be an honest boy, and never tell an untruth. I have given you to my
son William, and you must obey him.” Thus did this old gentleman deceive
us by his former kind treatment, and raise expectations in our youthful
minds, which were thus doomed to be fatally overthrown. Poor man! he has
gone to a higher tribunal than man’s, and doubtless ere this, earnestly
laments that he did not give us all our liberty at this favorable
moment; but sad as was our disappointment, we were constrained to submit
to it, as we best were able. One old negro openly expressed his wish
that master would die, because he had not released him from his bondage.

If there is any one thing which operates as an impetus to the slave in
his toilsome labors and buoys him up, under all the hardships of his
severe lot, it is this hope of future freedom, which lights up his soul
and cheers his desolate heart in the midst of all the fearful agonies of
the varied scenes of his slave life, as the soul of the tempest-tossed
mariner is stayed from complete despair, by the faint glimmering of the
far-distant light which the kindness of man has placed in a lighthouse,
so as to be perceived by him at a long distance. Old ocean’s tempestuous
waves beat and roar against his frail bark, and the briny deep seems
ready to enclose him in its wide open mouth, but “ever and anon” he
perceives the glimmering of this feeble light in the distance, which
keeps alive the spark of hope in his bosom, which kind heaven has placed
within every man’s breast. So with the slave. Freedom’s fires are dimly
burning in the far distant future, and ever and anon a fresh flame
appears to arise in the direction of this sacred altar, until at times
it seems to approach so near, that he can feel its melting power
dissolving his chains, and causing him to emerge from his darkened
prison, into the full light of freedom’s glorious liberty. O the fond
anticipations of the slave in this respect! I cannot correctly describe
them to you, but I can recollect the thrills of exulting joy which the
name of freedom caused to flow through my soul.

    Freedom, the dear and joyful sound,
      ’Tis music in the sad slave’s ear.

How often this hope is destined to fade away, as the early dew before
the rising sun! Not unseldom, does the slave labor intensely to obtain
the means to purchase his freedom, and after having paid the required
sum, is still held a slave, while the master retains the money! This
_very often_ transpires under the slave system. A good many slaves have
in this way paid for themselves several times, and not received their
freedom then! And masters often hold out this inducement to their
slaves, to labor more than they otherwise would, when they have no
intention of fulfilling their promise. O the ineffable meanness of the
slave system! Instead of our being set free, a far different fate
awaited us; and here you behold, reader, the closing scene of the
kindest treatment which a man can bestow upon his slaves.

It mattered not how benign might have been our master’s conduct to us,
it was to be succeeded by a harrowing scene, the inevitable consequence
of our being left slaves. We must now be separated and divided into
different lots, as we were inherited by the four sons of my master. It
is no easy matter to amicably divide even the old furniture and worn-out
implements of husbandry, and sometimes the very clothing of a deceased
person, and oftentimes a scene of shame ensues at the opening of the
will of a departed parent, which is enough to cause humanity to blush at
the meanness of man. What then must be the sufferings of those persons,
who are to be the objects of this division and strife? See the heirs of
a departed slaveholder, disputing as to the rightful possession of human
beings, many of them their old nurses, and their playmates in their
younger days! The scene which took place at the division of my master’s
human property, baffles all description. I was then only thirteen years
of age, but it is as fresh in my mind as if but yesterday’s sun had
shone upon the dreadful exhibition. My mother was separated from her
youngest child, and not until she had begged and pleaded most piteously
for its restoration to her, was it again placed in her hands. Turning
her eyes fondly upon me, who was now to be carried from her presence,
she said, “You now see, my son, the fulfilment of what I told you a
great while ago, when I used to take you on my knee, and show you the
leaves blown from the trees by the fearful winds.” Yes, I now saw that
one after another were the slave mother’s children torn from her
embrace, and John was given to one brother, Sarah to another, and Jane
to a third, while Samuel fell into the hands of the fourth. It is a
difficult matter to satisfactorily divide the slaves on a plantation,
for no person wishes for _all_ children, or for all old people; while
both old, young, and middle aged ones are to be divided. There is no
equitable way of dividing them, but by allowing each one to take his
portion of both children, middle aged and old people; which necessarily
causes heart-rending separations; but “slaves have no feelings,” I am
sometimes told. “You get used to these things; it would not do for us to
experience them, but you are not constituted as we are;” to which I
reply, that a slave’s friends are _all_ he possesses that is of value to
him. He cannot read, he has no property, he cannot be a teacher of
truth, or a politician; he cannot be very religious, and all that
remains to him, aside from the hope of freedom, that ever present deity,
forever inspiring him in his most terrible hours of despair, is the
society of his friends. We love our friends more than white people love
theirs, for we risk more to save them from suffering. Many of our number
who have escaped from bondage ourselves, have jeopardized our own
liberty, in order to release our friends, and sometimes we have been
retaken and made slaves of again, while endeavoring to rescue our
friends from slavery’s iron jaws.

But does not the slave love his friends! What mean then those frantic
screams, which every slave-auction witnesses, where the scalding tears
rush in agonizing torrents down the sorrow-stricken cheeks of the
bereaved slave mother; and where clubs are sometimes used to drive apart
two fond friends who cling to each other, as the merciless slave-trader
is to separate them forever. O, to talk of our not having feelings for
our friends, is to mock that Being who has created us in his own image,
and implanted deep in every human bosom, a gushing fount of tender
sensibilities, which no life of sin can ever fully erase. Talk of our
not having feelings, and then calmly look on the scene described as
taking place when my master died! Have you any feeling? Does this
recital arouse those sympathetic feelings in your bosom which you make
your boast of? How can white people have hearts _of tenderness_, and
allow such scenes to daily transpire at the South? All over the
blackened and marred surface of the whole slave territory do these
heart-rending transactions continually occur. Not a day inscribes its
departing hours upon the dial of human existence, but it marks the
overthrow of more than one family altar, and the sundering of numerous
family ties; and yet the hot blood of Southern oppression is allowed to
find its way into the hearts of the Northern people, who politically and
religiously are doing their utmost to sustain the dreadful system; yea,
competing with the South in their devotion to the evil genius of their
country’s choice. Slavery reigns and rules the councils of this nation,
as Satan presides over Pandemonium, and the loud and clear cry of the
anti-slavery host, calling upon the people of the land to cease their
connection with the tyrannical system, is universally unheeded. It falls
upon the closed ears of the people of this nation like the noise of the
random shots of a vessel at sea, upon the ears of the captain of the
opposing squadron, but to arouse them to action in _opposition_ to the
utterance of the voice of warning.

What though the plaintive cries of three millions of heart-broken and
dejected captives, are wafted on every Southern gale to the ears of our
Northern brethren, and the hot winds of the South reach our fastnesses
amid the mountains and hills of our rugged land, loaded with the stifled
cries and choking sobs of poor desolate woman, as her babes are torn one
by one from her embrace; yet no Northern voice is heard to sound loudly
enough among our hills and dales, to startle from their sleep of
indifference, those who have it in their power to break the chains of
the suffering bondmen _to-day_, saying to all who hear its clear
sounding voice, “Come out from all connection with this terrible system
of cruelty and blood, and form a government and a union free from this
hateful curse.” The Northern people have it in their power to-day, to
cause all this suffering of which I have been speaking to cease, and to
cause one loud and triumphant anthem of praise to ascend from the
millions of panting, bleeding slaves, now stretched upon the plains of
Southern oppression; and yet they talk of our being destitute of
feeling. “O shame, where is thy blush!”

My father and mother were left on the plantation, and I was taken to the
city of Richmond, to work in a tobacco manufactory, owned by my master’s
son William, who now became my only master. Old master, although he did
not give me my freedom, yet left an especial charge with his son to take
good care of me, and not to whip me, which charge my master endeavored
to act in accordance with. He told me if I would behave well he would
take good care of me, and would give me money to spend, &c. He talked so
kindly to me that I determined I would exert myself to the utmost to
please him, and would endeavor to do just what he wished me to, in every
respect. He furnished me with a new suit of clothes, and gave me money
to buy things with, to send to my mother. One day I overheard him
telling the overseer that his father had raised me, and that I was a
smart boy, and he must never whip me. I tried extremely hard to perform
what I thought was my duty, and escaped the lash almost entirely;
although the overseer would oftentimes have liked to have given me a
severe whipping; but fear of both me and my master deterred him from so
doing. It is true, my lot was still comparatively easy; but reader,
imagine not that others were so fortunate as myself, as I will presently
describe to you the character of our overseer; and you can judge what
kind of treatment, persons wholly in his power might expect from such a
man. But it was some time before I became reconciled to my fate, for
after being so constantly with my mother, to be torn from her side, and
she on a distant plantation, where I could not see or but seldom hear
from her, was exceedingly trying to my youthful feelings, slave though I
was. I missed her smiling look when her eye rested upon my form; and
when I returned from my daily toil, weary and dejected, no fond mother’s
arms were extended to meet me, no one appeared to sympathize with me,
and I felt I was indeed alone in the world. After the lapse of about a
year and a half from the time I commenced living in Richmond, a strange
series of events transpired. I did not then know precisely what was the
cause of these scenes, for I could not get any very satisfactory
information concerning the matter from my master, only that some of the
slaves had undertaken to kill their owners; but I have since learned
that it was the famous Nat Turner’s insurrection that caused all the
excitement I witnessed. Slaves were whipped, hung, and cut down with
swords in the streets, if found away from their quarters after dark. The
whole city was in the utmost confusion and dismay; and a dark cloud of
terrific blackness, seemed to hang over the heads of the whites. So true
is it, that “the wicked flee when no man pursueth.” Great numbers of the
slaves were locked in the prison, and many were “half hung,” as it was
termed; that is, they were suspended to some limb of a tree, with a rope
about their necks, so adjusted as not to quite strangle them, and then
they were pelted by the men and boys with rotten eggs. This half-hanging
is a refined species of cruelty, peculiar to slavery, I believe.

Among the cruelties occasioned by this insurrection, which was however
some distance from Richmond, was the forbidding of as many as five
slaves to meet together, except they were at work, and the silencing of
all colored preachers. One of that class in our city, refused to obey
the imperial mandate, and was severely whipped; but his religion was too
deeply rooted to be thus driven from him, and no promise could be
extorted from his resolute soul, that he would not proclaim what he
considered the glad tidings of the gospel. (Query. How many white
preachers would continue their employment, if they were served in the
same way?) It is strange that more insurrections do not take place
among the slaves; but their masters have impressed upon their minds so
forcibly the fact, that the United States Government is pledged to put
them down, in case they should attempt any such movement, that they have
no heart to contend against such fearful odds; and yet the slaveholder
lives in constant dread of such an event.[3]

The rustling of

    “---- ---- ---- the lightest leaf,
      That quivers to the passing breeze,”

fills his timid soul with visions of flowing blood and burning
dwellings; and as the loud thunder of heaven rolls over his head, and
the vivid lightning flashes across his pale face, straightway his
imagination conjures up terrible scenes of the loud roaring of an
enemy’s cannon, and the fierce yells of an infuriated slave population,
rushing to vengeance.[4] There is no doubt but this would be the case,
if it were not for the Northern people, who are ready, as I have been
often told, to shoot us down, if we attempt to rise and obtain our
freedom. I believe that if the slaves could do as they wish, they would
throw off their heavy yoke immediately, by rising against their masters;
but ten millions of Northern people stand with their feet on their
necks, and how can they arise? How was Nat Turner’s insurrection
suppressed, but by a company of United States troops, furnished the
governor of Virginia at his request, according to your Constitution?

About this time, I began to grow alarmed respecting my future welfare,
as a great eclipse of the sun had recently taken place; and the cholera
reaching the country not long after, I thought that perhaps the day of
judgment was not far distant, and I must prepare for that dreaded event.
After praying for about three months, it pleased Almighty God, as I
believe, to pardon my sins, and I was received into the Baptist Church,
by a minister who thought it was wicked to hold slaves. I was obliged to
obtain permission from my master, however, before I could join. He gave
me a note to carry to the preacher, saying that I had _his permission_
to join the church!

I shall now make you acquainted with the manner in which affairs were
conducted in my master’s tobacco manufactory, after which I shall
introduce you to the heart-rending scenes which give the principal
interest to my narrative.

My master carried on a large tobacco manufacturing establishment in
Richmond, which was almost wholly under the supervision of one of those
low, miserable, cruel, barbarous, and sometimes religious beings, known
under the name of overseers, with which the South abounds. These men
hardly deserve the name of men, for they are lost to all regard for
decency, truth, justice and humanity, and are so far gone in human
depravity, that before they can be saved, Jesus Christ, or some other
Saviour, will have to die a second time. I pity them sincerely, but as
my mind recurs to the wicked conduct I so often witnessed on the part
of this one, I cannot prevent these indignant feelings from arising in
my soul. O reader, if you had seen the perfect recklessness of conduct
so often exhibited by this man, as I witnessed it, you would not blame
me for expressing myself so strongly. I know that even this man is my
brother, but he is a very wicked brother, whose soul I commend to
Almighty God, hoping that his sovereign grace may find its way, if it is
a possible thing, to his sin-hardened soul; _and yet he was a pious
man_. His name was _John F. Allen_, and I suppose he still lives in
Richmond. After reading about his character, I apprehend your judgment
of him will coincide with mine. The other overseers, however, were very
different men, for hell could hardly spare more than one such man, for
one tobacco manufactory; as it is not overstocked with such vile

But before proceeding to speak farther of him, I will inform you a
little respecting our business--as not many of you have ever seen the
inside of a tobacco manufactory. The building I worked in was about 300
feet in length, and three stories high, and afforded room for 200 people
to work in, but only 150 persons were employed, 120 of whom were slaves,
and the remainder free colored people. We were obliged to work
_fourteen_ hours a day, in the summer, and _sixteen_ in the winter.

This work consisted in removing the stems from the leaves of tobacco,
which was performed by women and boys, after which the tobacco was
moistened with a liquor made from liquorice and sugar, which gives the
tobacco that sweetish taste which renders it not perfectly abhorrent to
those who chew it. After being thus moistened, the tobacco was taken by
the men and twisted into hands, and pressed into lumps, when it was sent
to the machine-house, and pressed into boxes and casks. After remaining
in what was called the “sweat-house” about thirty days, it was shipped
for the market.

Mr. Allen was a thorough going Yankee in his mode of doing business. He
was by no means one of your indolent, do-nothing Southerners, so
effeminate as to be hardly able to wield his hands to administer to his
own necessities, but he was a savage-looking, dare-devil sort of a man,
ready apparently for any emergency to which Beelzebub might call him, a
real servant of the bottomless pit. He understood how to turn a penny as
well as any Yankee pedlar who ever visited our city. Whether he derived
his skill from associating with that class of individuals, or whether it
was the natural production of his own cunning mind, I know not. He used
often to boast, that by his shrewdness in managing the negroes, he made
enough to support his family, which cost him $1000, without touching a
farthing of his salary, which was $1500 per annum. Of the probability of
this assertion, I can bear witness; for I know he was very skilful in
another department of cunning and cheatery. Like many other servants of
the evil one, he was an early riser; not for the purpose of improving
his health, or that he might enjoy sweet communion with his heavenly
Father, at his morning orisons, but that “while the master slept” he
might more easily transact his nefarious business. At whatever hour of
the morning I might arrive at the factory, I seldom anticipated the
seemingly industrious steps of Mr. Allen, who by his punctuality in
this respect, obtained a good reputation as a faithful and devoted
overseer. But mark the conduct of the pious gentleman, for he was a
member of an Episcopalian church. One would have supposed from observing
the transactions around him, that Mr. Allen took time by the forelock,
emphatically, for long before the early rays of the rising sun had
gilded the eastern horizon, was this man busily engaged in loading a
wagon with coal, oil, sugar, wood, &c., &c., which always found a place
of deposit at _his own door_, entirely unknown to my master. This
practice Mr. Allen carried on during my stay there, and yet he was a
very pious man.

This man enjoyed the unlimited confidence of my master, so that he would
never listen to a word of complaint on the part of any of the workmen.
No matter how cruel or how _unjust_ might be the punishment inflicted
upon any of the hands, master would never listen to their complaints; so
that this barbarous man was our master in reality. At one time a colored
man, who had been in the habit of singing religious songs quite often,
was taken sick and did not make his appearance at the factory. For two
or three days no notice whatever was taken of him, no medicine provided
for him, and no physician sent to heal him. At the end of that time, Mr.
Allen ordered three strong men to go to the man’s house, and bring him
to the factory. This order being obeyed, the man, pale and hardly able
to stand, was stripped to his waist, his hands tied together, and the
rope fastened to a large post. The overseer then questioned him about
his singing, told him that it consumed too much time, and that he was
going to give him some medicine which would cure him. The poor trembling
man made no reply, when the pious Mr. Allen, for no crime except that of
sickness, inflicted 200 lashes upon the quivering flesh of the invalid,
and he would have continued his “apostolic blows,” if the emaciated form
of the languishing man, had not sunken under their heavy weight, and Mr.
Allen was obliged to desist.[5] I witnessed this transaction with my own
eyes; but what could I do, for I was a slave, and any interference on my
part would only have brought the same punishment upon me. This man was
sick a month afterwards, during which time the weekly allowance of
seventy-five cents for the hands to board themselves with, was withheld
from him, and his wife was obliged to support him by washing for others;
and yet Northern people tell me that a slave is better off than a free
man, because when he is sick his master provides for him! Master knew
all the circumstances of this case, but never uttered one word of
reproof to the overseer, that I could learn; at any rate, he did not
interfere at all with this cruel treatment of him, as his motto was,
“Mr. Allen is always right.”

Mr. Allen, although a church member, was much addicted to the habit of
_profane swearing_, a vice which church members there, indulged in as
frequently as non-professors did. He used particularly to expend his
swearing breath, in denunciation of the whole race of negroes, calling
us “d----d hogs, dogs, pigs,” &c. At one time, he was busily engaged in
reading in _the Bible_, when a slave came in who had absented himself
from work the enormous length of ten minutes! The overseer had been
cheated out of ten minutes’ precious time; and as he depended upon the
punctuality of the slave to support his family in the manner mentioned
previously, his desire perhaps not to violate that precept, “he that
provideth not for his family is worse than an infidel,” led him to
indulge in quite an outbreak of boisterous anger. “What are you so late
for, you black scamp?” said he to the delinquent. “I am only ten minutes
behind the time, sir,” quietly responded the slave, when Mr. Allen
exclaimed, “You are a d----d liar,” and remembering, for aught that I
can say to the contrary, that “he that converteth a _sinner_ from the
error of his ways, shall save a soul from death,” he proceeded to try
the effect of the Bible upon the body of the “liar,” striking him a
heavy blow in the face, with the sacred book. But that not answering his
purpose, and the man remaining incorrigible, he caught up a stick and
beat him with that. The slave complained to master, but he would take no
notice of him, and directed him back to the overseer.

Mr. Allen, although a superintendent of the Sabbath school, and very
fervid in his exhortations to the slave children, whom he endeavored to
instruct in reference to their duties to their masters, that they must
never disobey them, or lie, or steal, and if they did they would
assuredly “go to hell,” yet was not wholly destitute of “that fear which
hath torment,” for always when a heavy thunder storm came up, would he
shut himself up in a little room where he supposed the lightning would
not harm him; and I frequently overheard him praying earnestly to God to
spare his life. He evidently had not that “perfect _love_ which casteth
out fear.” The same day on which he had beaten the poor sick man, did
such a scene transpire; but generally after the storm had abated he
would laugh at his own conduct, and say he did not believe the Lord had
any thing to do with the thunder and lightning.

As I have stated, Mr. A. was a devout attendant upon public worship, and
prayed much with the pupils in the Sabbath school, and was indefatigable
in teaching them to repeat the catechism after him, although he was very
particular never to allow them to hold the book in their hands. But let
not my readers suppose on this account, that he desired the salvation of
these slaves. No, far from that; for very soon after thus exhorting
them, he would tell his visiters, that it was “a d----d lie that
colored people were ever converted,” and that they could “not go to
heaven,” for they had no souls; but that it was his duty to talk to them
as he did. The reader can learn from this account of how much value the
religious teaching of the slaves is, when such men are its
administerers; and also for what purpose this instruction is given them.

This man’s liberality to white people, was coextensive with his
denunciation of the colored race. A white man, he said, could not be
lost, let him do what he pleased--rob the slaves, which he said was not
wrong, lie, swear, or any thing else, provided he _read the Bible and
joined the Church_.[6]

One word concerning the religion of the South. I regard it as all
delusion, and that there is not a particle of religion in their
slaveholding churches. The great end to which religion is there made to
minister, is to keep the slaves in a docile and submissive frame of
mind, by instilling into them the idea that if they do not obey their
masters, they will infallibly “go to hell;” and yet some of the
miserable wretches who teach this doctrine, do not themselves believe
it. Of course the slave prefers obedience to his master, to an abode in
the “lake of fire and brimstone.” It is true in more senses than one,
that slavery rests upon hell! I once heard a minister declare in public,
that he had preached six years before he was converted; and that he was
then in the habit of taking a glass of “mint julep” directly after
prayers, which wonderfully refreshed him, soul and body. This dram he
would repeat three or four times during the day; but at length an old
slave persuaded him to abstain a while from his potations, the following
of which advice, resulted in his conversion. I believe his second
conversion, was nearer a true one, than his first, because he said his
conscience reproved him for having sold slaves; and he finally left that
part of the country, on account of slavery, and went to the North.

But as time passed along, I began to think seriously of entering into
the matrimonial state, as much as a person can, who can “make no
contract whatever,” and whose wife is not his, only so far as her master
allows her to be. I formed an acquaintance with a young woman by the
name of Nancy--belonging to a Mr. Lee, a clerk in the bank, and a pious
man; and our friendship having ripened into mutual love, we concluded
to make application to the powers that ruled us, for _permission_ to be
married, as I had previously applied for permission to join the church.
I went to Mr. Lee, and made known to him my wishes, when he told me, he
never meant to sell Nancy, and if my master would agree never to sell
me, then I might marry her. This man was a member of a Presbyterian
church in Richmond, and pretended to me, to believe it wrong to separate
families; but after I had been married to my wife one year, his
conscientious scruples vanished, and she was sold to a saddler living in
Richmond, who was one of Dr. Plummer’s church members. Mr. Lee gave me a
note to my master, and they afterwards discussed the matter over, and I
was allowed to marry the chosen one of my heart. Mr. Lee, as I have
said, soon sold my wife, contrary to his promise, and she fell into the
hands of a very cruel mistress, the wife of the saddler above mentioned,
by whom she was much abused. This woman used to wish for some great
calamity to happen to my wife, because she stayed so long when she _went
to nurse her child_; which calamity came very near happening afterwards
to herself. My wife was finally sold, on account of the solicitations of
this woman; but four months had hardly elapsed, before she insisted upon
her being purchased back again.

During all this time, my mind was in a continual agitation, for I knew
not one day, who would be the owner of my wife the next. O reader, have
you no heart to sympathize with the injured slave, as he thus lives in a
state of perpetual torment, the dread uncertainty of his wife’s fate,
continually hanging over his head, and poisoning all his joys, as the
naked sword hung by a _hair_, over the head of an ancient king’s guest,
as he was seated at a table loaded with all the luxuries of an epicure’s
devising? This sword, unlike the one alluded to, did often pierce my
breast, and when I had recovered from the wound, it was again hung up,
to torture me. This is slavery, a natural and concomitant part of the
accursed system!

The saddler who owned my wife, whose name I suppress for particular
reasons, was at one time taken sick, but when _his minister_, the Rev.
(so called) Dr. Plummer came to pray with him, he would not allow him to
perform that rite, which strengthened me in the opinion I entertained of
Dr. Plummer, that he was _as wicked a man_ as this saddler, and you will
presently see, how bad a man he was. The saddler sent for _his slaves to
pray_ for him, and afterwards for me, and when I repaired to his
bed-side, he beseeched me to pray for him, saying that he would live a
much better life than he had done, if the Lord would only spare him. I
and the other slaves prayed _three nights_ for him, after our work was
over, and we needed rest in sleep; but the earnest desire of this man,
induced us to forego our necessary rest; and yet one of the first things
he did after his recovery, was to _sell my wife_. When he was reminded
of my praying for his restoration to health, he angrily exclaimed, that
it was “all d----d lies” about the Lord restoring him to health in
consequence of the negroes praying for him,--and that if any of them
mentioned that they had prayed for him, he “would _whip them for it_.”

The last purchaser of my wife, was Mr. Samuel S. Cartrell, also a member
of Dr. Plummer’s church.[7] He induced me to pay him $50,00 in order to
assist him in purchasing my companion, so as to prevent her being sold
away from me. I also paid him $50 a year, for her time, although she
would have been of but little value to him, for she had young children
and could not earn much for him,--and rented a house for which I paid
$72, and she took in washing, which with the remainder of my earnings,
after deducting master’s “lion’s share,” supported our family. Our
bliss, as far as the term bliss applies to a slave’s situation, was now
complete in this respect, for a season; for never had we been so
pleasantly situated before; but, reader, behold its cruel termination. O
the harrowing remembrance of those terrible, terrible scenes! May God
spare you from ever enduring what I then endured.

It was on a pleasant morning, in the month of August, 1848, that I left
my wife and three children safely at our little home, and proceeded to
my allotted labor. The sun shone brightly as he commenced his daily
task, and as I gazed upon his early rays, emitting their golden light
upon the rich fields adjacent to the city, and glancing across the abode
of my wife and family, and as I beheld the numerous companies of slaves,
hieing their way to their daily labors, and reflected upon the
difference between their lot and mine, I felt that, although I was a
slave, there were many alleviations to my cup of sorrow. It was true,
that the greater portion of my earnings was taken from me, by the
unscrupulous hands of my dishonest master,--that I was entirely at his
mercy, and might at any hour be snatched from what sources of joy were
open to me--that he might, if he chose, extend his robber hand, and
demand a still larger portion of my earnings,--and above all, that
intellectual privileges were entirely denied me; but as I imprinted a
parting kiss upon the lips of my faithful wife, and pressed to my bosom
the little darling cherubs, who followed me saying, in their childish
accents, “Father, come back soon,” I felt that life was not all a blank
to me; that there were some pure joys yet my portion. O, how my heart
would have been riven with unutterable anguish, if I had then realized
the awful calamity which was about to burst upon my unprotected head!
Reader, are you a husband, and can you listen to my sad story, without
being moved to cease all your connection with that stern power, which
stretched out its piratical arm, and basely robbed me of all dear to me
on earth!

The sun had traced his way to mid-heaven, and the hour for the laborers
to turn from their tasks, and to seek refreshment for their toil-worn
frames,--and when I should take my prattling children on my knee,--was
fast approaching; but there burst upon me a sound so dreadful, and so
sudden, that the shock well nigh overwhelmed me. It was as if the
heavens themselves had fallen upon me, and the everlasting hills of
God’s erecting, like an avalanche, had come rolling over my head! And
what was it? “Your wife and smiling babes are gone; in prison they are
locked, and to-morrow’s sun will see them far away from you, on their
way to the distant South!” Pardon the utterance of my feelings here,
reader, for surely a man may feel, when all that he prizes on earth is,
at one fell stroke, swept from his reach! O God, if there is a moment
when vengeance from thy righteous throne should be hurled upon guilty
man, and hot thunderbolts of wrath, should burst upon his wicked head,
it surely is at such a time as this! And this is Slavery; its certain,
necessary and constituent part. Without this terrific pillar to its
demon walls, it falls to the ground, as a bridge sinks, when its
buttresses are swept from under it by the rushing floods. This is
Slavery. No kind master’s indulgent care can guard his chosen slave, his
petted chattel, however fond he may profess to be of such a piece of
property, from so fearful a calamity. My master treated me as kindly as
he could, and retain me in slavery; but did that keep me from
experiencing this terrible deprivation? The sequel will show you even
his care for me. What could I do? I had left my fond wife and prattling
children, as happy as slaves could expect to be; as I was not
anticipating their loss, for the pious man who bought them last, had, as
you recollect, received a sum of money from me, under the promise of not
selling them. My first impulse, of course, was to rush to the jail, and
behold my family once more, before our final separation. I started for
this infernal place, but had not proceeded a great distance, before I
met a gentleman, who stopped me, and beholding my anguish of heart, as
depicted on my countenance, inquired of me what the trouble was with me.
I told him as I best could, when he advised me not to go to the jail,
for the man who had sold my wife, had told my master some falsehoods
about me, and had induced him to give orders to the jailor to seize me,
and confine me in prison, if I should appear there. He said I would
undoubtedly be sold separate from my wife, and he thought I had better
not go there. I then persuaded a young man of my acquaintance to go to
the prison, and sent by him, to my wife, some money and a message in
reference to the cause of my failure to visit her. It seems that it
would have been useless for me to have ventured there, for as soon as
this young man arrived, and inquired for my wife, he was seized and put
in prison,--the jailor mistaking him for me; but when he discovered his
mistake, he was very angry, and vented his rage upon the innocent youth,
by kicking him out of prison. I then repaired to my Christian master,
and there several times, during the ensuing twenty-four hours, did I
beseech and entreat him to purchase my wife; but no tears of mine made
the least impression upon his obdurate heart. I laid my case before him,
and reminded him of the faithfulness with which I had served him, and of
my utmost endeavors to please him, but this _kind_ master--recollect
reader--utterly refused to advance a small portion of the $5,000 I had
paid him, in order to relieve my sufferings; and he was a member, in
good and regular standing, of an Episcopal church in Richmond! His reply
to me was worthy of the morality of Slavery, and shows just how much
religion, the kindest and most pious of Southern slaveholders have.
“_You can get another wife_,” said he; but I told him the Bible said,
“What God has joined together, let not man put asunder,” and that I did
not want any other wife but my own lawful one, whom I loved so much. At
the mention of this passage of Scripture, he drove me from his house,
saying, he did not wish to hear that!

I now endeavored to persuade two gentlemen of my acquaintance, to buy my
wife; but they told me they did not think it was right to hold slaves,
or else they would gladly assist me, for they sincerely pitied me, and
advised me to go to my master again; but I knew this would be useless.
My agony was now complete. She with whom I had travelled the journey of
life, for the space of twelve years, with three little pledges of
domestic affection, must now be forever separated from me--I must remain
alone and desolate. O God, shall my wife and children never more greet
my sight, with their cheerful looks and happy smiles? Far, far away, in
Carolina’s swamps are they now, toiling beneath the scorching rays of
the hot sun, with no husband’s voice to soothe the hardships of my
wife’s lot, and no father’s kind look to gladden the heart of my
disconsolate little ones.[8]

I call upon you, Sons of the North, if your blood has not lost its
bright color of liberty, and is not turned to the blackened gore which
surrounds the slaveholder’s polluted hearts, to arise in your might, and
demand the liberation of the slaves. If you do not, at the day of final
account, I shall bear witness against you, as well as against the
slaveholders themselves, as the cause of my and my brethren’s
bereavement. Think you, at that dread hour, you can escape the
scrutinizing look of the Judge of all the earth, as he “maketh
inquisition for the blood of the innocents?” Oh, no; but equally with
the Southern slaveholders, will your character be condemned by the Ruler
of the universe.

The next day, I stationed myself by the side of the road, along which
the slaves, amounting to three hundred and fifty, were to pass. The
purchaser of my wife was a _Methodist_ minister, who was about starting
for North Carolina. Pretty soon five waggonloads of little children
passed, and looking at the foremost one, what should I see but a little
child, pointing its tiny hand towards me, exclaiming, “There’s my
father; I knew he would come and bid me good-bye.” It was my eldest
child! Soon the gang approached in which my wife was chained. I looked,
and beheld her familiar face; but O, reader, that glance of agony! may
God spare me ever again enduring the excruciating horror of that moment!
She passed, and came near to where I stood. I seized hold of her hand,
_intending_ to bid her farewell; but words failed me; the gift of
utterance had fled, and I remained speechless. I followed her for some
distance, with her hand grasped in mine, as if to save her from her
fate, but I could not speak, and I was obliged to turn away in silence.

This is not an imaginary scene, reader; it is not a fiction, but an
every-day reality at the South; and all I can say more to you, in
reference to it is, that if you will not, after being made acquainted
with these facts, consecrate your all to the slaves’ release from
bondage, you are utterly unworthy the name of a man, and should go and
hide yourself, in some impenetrable cave, where no eye can behold your
demon form.

One more scene occurs in the tragical history of my life, before the
curtain drops, and I retire from the stage of observation, as far as
past events are concerned; not, however, to shrink from public gaze, as
if ashamed of my perilous adventures, or to retire into private life,
lest the bloodhounds of the South should scent my steps, and start in
pursuit of their missing property. No, reader, for as long as three
millions of my countrymen pine in cruel bondage, on Virginia’s exhausted
soil, and in Carolina’s pestilential rice swamps; in the cane-breaks of
Georgia, and on the cotton fields of Louisiana and Mississippi, and in
the insalubrious climate of Texas; as well as suffer under the
slave-driver’s cruel lash, all over the almost God-forsaken South; I
shall never refuse to advocate their claims to your sympathy, whenever a
fitting occasion occurs to speak in their behalf.

But you are eager to learn the particulars of my journey from freedom to
liberty. The first thing that occurred to me, after the cruel separation
of my wife and children from me, and I had recovered my senses, so as to
know how to act, was, thoughts of freeing myself from slavery’s iron
yoke. I had suffered enough under its heavy weight, and I determined I
would endure it no longer; and those reasons which often deter the slave
from attempting to escape, no longer existed in reference to me, for my
family were gone, and slavery now had no mitigating circumstances, to
lessen the bitterness of its cup of woe. It is true, as my master had
told me, that I could “get another wife;” but no man, excepting a brute
below the human species, would have proposed such a step to a person in
my circumstances; and as I was not such a degraded being, I did not
dream of so conducting. Marriage was not a thing of personal convenience
with me, to be cast aside as a worthless garment, whenever the
slaveholder’s will required it; but it was a sacred institution binding
upon me, as long as the God who had “joined us together,” refrained from
untying the nuptial knot. What! leave the wife of my bosom for another!
and while my heart was leaping from its abode, to pour its strong
affections upon the kindred soul of my devoted partner, could I receive
a stranger, another person to my embrace, as if the ties of love existed
only in the presence of the object loved! Then, indeed, should I have
been a traitor to that God, who had linked our hearts together in fond
affection, and cemented our union, by so many additional cords, twining
around our hearts; as a tree and an arbor are held together by the
clinging of the tendrils of the adhering vine, which winds itself about
them so closely. Slavery, and slavery abettors, seize hold of these
tender scions, and cut and prune them away from both tree and arbor, as
remorselessly as a gardener cuts down the briars and thorns which
disturb the growth of his fair plants; but all humane, and every
virtuous man, must instinctively recoil from such transactions, as they
would from soul murder, or from the commission of some enormous deed of

Reader, in the light of these scenes you may behold, as in a glass, your
true character. Refined and delicate you may pretend to be, and may pass
yourself off as a pure and virtuous person; but if you refuse to exert
yourself for the overthrow of a system, which thus tramples human
affection under its bloody feet, and demands of its crushed victims, the
sacrifice of all that is noble, virtuous and pure, upon its smoking
altars; you may rest assured, that if the balances of _purity_ were
extended before you, He who “searcheth the hearts, and trieth the
reins,” would say to you, as your character underwent his searching
scrutiny, “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

I went to Mr. Allen, and requested of him permission to refrain from
labor for a short time, in consequence of a disabled finger; but he
refused to grant me this permission, on the ground that my hand was not
lame enough to justify him in so doing. Nothing daunted by this rebuff,
I took some oil of vitriol, intending to pour a few drops upon my
finger, to make it sufficiently sore, to disable me from work, which I
succeeded in, beyond my wishes; for in my hurry, a larger quantity than
it was my purpose to apply to my finger, found its way there, and my
finger was soon eaten through to the bone. The overseer then was obliged
to allow me to absent myself from business, for it was impossible for me
to work in that situation. But I did not waste my precious furlough in
idle mourning over my fate. I armed myself with determined energy, for
action, and in the words of one of old, in the name of God, “I leaped
over a wall, and run through a troop” of difficulties. After searching
for assistance for some time, I at length was so fortunate as to find a
friend, who promised to assist me, for one half the money I had about
me, which was one hundred and sixty-six dollars. I gave him eighty-six,
and he was to do his best in forwarding my scheme. Long did we remain
together, attempting to devise ways and means to carry me away from the
land of separation of families, of whips and thumbscrews, and auction
blocks; but as often as a plan was suggested by my friend, there would
appear some difficulty in the way of its accomplishment. Perhaps it may
not be best to mention what these plans were, as some unfortunate slaves
may thereby be prevented from availing themselves of these methods of

At length, after praying earnestly to Him, who seeth afar off, for
assistance, in my difficulty, suddenly, as if from above, there darted
into my mind these words, “Go and get a box, and put yourself in it.” I
pondered the words over in my mind. “Get a box?” thought I; “what can
this mean?” But I was “not disobedient unto the heavenly vision,” and I
determined to put into practice this direction, as I considered it, from
my heavenly Father.[9] I went to the depot, and there noticed the size
of the largest boxes, which commonly were sent by the cars, and returned
with their dimensions. I then repaired to a carpenter, and induced him
to make me a box of such a description as I wished, informing him of the
use I intended to make of it. He assured me I could not live in it; but
as it was dear liberty I was in pursuit of, I thought it best to make
the trial.

When the box was finished, I carried it, and placed it before my friend,
who had promised to assist me, who asked me if that was to “put my
clothes in?” I replied that it was not, but to “_put Henry Brown in!_”
He was astonished at my temerity; but I insisted upon his placing me in
it, and nailing me up, and he finally consented.

After corresponding with a friend in Philadelphia, arrangements were
made for my departure, and I took my place in this narrow prison, with a
mind full of uncertainty as to the result. It was a critical period of
my life, I can assure you, reader; but if you have never been deprived
of your liberty, as I was, you cannot realize the power of that hope of
freedom, which was to me indeed, “an anchor to the soul, both sure and

I laid me down in my darkened home of three feet by two, and like one
about to be guillotined, resigned myself to my fate. My friend was to
accompany me, but he failed to do so; and contented himself with sending
a telegraph message to his correspondent in Philadelphia, that such a
box was on its way to his care.

I took with me a bladder filled with water to bathe my neck with, in
case of too great heat; and with no access to the fresh air, excepting
three small gimblet holes, I started on my perilous cruise. I was first
carried to the express office, the box being placed on its end, so that
I started with my head downwards, although the box was directed, “this
side up with care.” From the express office, I was carried to the depot,
and from thence tumbled roughly into the baggage car, where I _happened_
to fall “right side up,” but no thanks to my transporters. But after a
while the cars stopped, and I was put aboard a steamboat, _and placed on
my head_. In this dreadful position, I remained the space of an hour and
a half, it seemed to me, when I began to feel of my eyes and head, and
found to my dismay, that my eyes were almost swollen out of their
sockets, and the veins on my temple seemed ready to burst. I made no
noise however, determining to obtain “_victory or death_,” but endured
the terrible pain, as well as I could, sustained under the whole by the
thoughts of sweet liberty. About half an hour afterwards, I attempted
again to lift my hands to my face, but I found I was not able to move
them. A cold sweat now covered me from head to foot. Death seemed my
inevitable fate, and every moment I expected to feel the blood flowing
over me, which had burst from my veins. One half hour longer and my
sufferings would have ended in that fate, which I preferred to slavery;
but I lifted up my heart to God in prayer, believing that he would yet
deliver me, when to my joy, I overheard two men say, “We have been here
_two_ hours and have travelled twenty miles, now let us sit down, and
rest ourselves.” They suited the action to the word, and turned the box
over, containing my soul and body, thus delivering me from the power of
the grim messenger of death, who a few moments previously, had aimed his
fatal shaft at my head, and had placed his icy hands on my throbbing
heart. One of these men inquired of the other, what he supposed that box
contained, to which his comrade replied, that he guessed it was the
mail. “Yes,” thought I, “it is a _male_, indeed, although not the _mail_
of the United States.”

Soon after this fortunate event, we arrived at Washington, where I was
thrown from the wagon, and again as my luck would have it, fell on my
head. I was then rolled down a declivity, until I reached the platform
from which the cars were to start. During this short but rapid journey,
my neck came very near being dislocated, as I felt it crack, as if it
had snapped asunder. Pretty soon, I heard some one say, “there is no
room for this box, it will have to remain behind.” I then again applied
to the Lord, my help in all my difficulties, and in a few minutes I
heard a gentleman direct the hands to place it aboard, as “it came with
the mail and must go on with it.” I was then tumbled into the car, my
head downwards again, as I seemed to be destined to escape on my head; a
sign probably, of the opinion of American people respecting such bold
adventurers as myself; that our heads should be held downwards, whenever
we attempt to benefit ourselves. Not the only instance of this
propensity, on the part of the American people, towards the colored
race. We had not proceeded far, however, before more baggage was placed
in the car, at a stopping place, and I was again turned to my proper
position. No farther difficulty occurred until my arrival at
Philadelphia. I reached this place at three o’clock in the morning, and
remained in the depot until six o’clock, A. M., at which time, a waggon
drove up, and a person inquired for a box directed to such a place,
“right side up.” I was soon placed on this waggon, and carried to the
house of my friend’s correspondent, where quite a number of persons were
waiting to receive me. They appeared to be some afraid to open the box
at first, but at length one of them rapped upon it, and with a trembling
voice, asked, “Is all right within?” to which I replied, “All right.”
The joy of these friends was excessive, and like the ancient Jews, who
repaired to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, each one seized hold of some
tool, and commenced opening my grave. At length the cover was removed,
and I arose, and shook myself from the lethargy into which I had fallen;
but exhausted nature proved too much for my frame, and I swooned away.

After my recovery from this fainting fit, the first impulse of my soul,
as I looked around, and beheld my friends, and was told that I was safe,
was to break out in a song of deliverance, and praise to the most high
God, whose arm had been so signally manifest in my escape. Great God,
was I a freeman! Had I indeed succeeded in effecting my escape from the
human wolves of Slavery? O what extastic joy thrilled through every
nerve and fibre of my system! My labor was accomplished, my warfare was
ended, and I stood erect before my equal fellow men;[10] no longer a
crouching slave, forever at the look and nod of a whimsical and
tyrannical slave-owner. Long had seemed my journey, and terribly
hazardous had been my attempt to gain my birth-right; but it all seemed
a comparatively light price to pay for the precious boon of _Liberty_. O
ye, who know not the value of this “pearl of great price,” by having
been all your life shut out from its life-giving presence; learn of how
much importance its possession is regarded, by the panting fugitive, as
he traces his way through the labyrinths of snares, placed between him
and the object of his fond desires! Sympathize with the three millions
of crushed and mangled ones who this day pine in cruel bondage, and
arouse yourself to action in their behalf! This you will do, if you are
not traitors to your God and to humanity. Aid not in placing in high
offices, _baby-stealers and women-whippers_; and if these wicked men,
all covered with the clotted gore of their mangled victims, come among
you, scorn the idea of bowing in homage to them, whatever may be the
character of their claims to your regard. No matter, if they are called
presidents of your nation, still utterly refuse to honor them; which
_you will most certainly do_, if you are true to the Slave!

After remaining a short time in Philadelphia, it was thought expedient
that I should proceed to Massachusetts, and accordingly funds sufficient
to carry me there, were raised by some anti-slavery friends, and I
proceeded to Boston. After remaining a short time in that city, I
concluded to go to New Bedford, in which place I remained a few weeks,
under the care of Mr. Joseph Rickerston of that place, who treated me
very kindly. At length hearing of a large anti-slavery meeting to be
held in Boston, I left New Bedford, and found myself again in that city,
so famous for its devotion to liberty in the days of the American
revolution; and here, in the presence of several thousand people, did I
first relate in public, the story of my sufferings, since which time I
have repeated my simple tale in different parts of Massachusetts, and in
the State of Maine.

I now stand before you as a free man, but since my arrival among you, I
have been informed that your laws require that I should still be held as
a slave; and that if my master should espy me in any nook or corner of
the free states, according to the constitution of the United States, he
could secure me and carry me back into Slavery; so that I am confident I
am not safe, even here, if what I have heard concerning your laws is
true. I cannot imagine why you should uphold such strange laws. I have
been told that every time a man goes to the polls and votes, he
virtually swears to sustain them, frightful as they are. It seems to me
to be a hard case, for a man to endure what I have endured in effecting
my escape, and then to be continually exposed to be seized by my master,
and carried back into that horrid pit from which I have escaped. I have
been told, however, that the people here would not allow me to be thus
returned, that they would break their own laws in my behalf, which seems
quite curious to me; for why should you make laws, and swear to uphold
them, and then break them? I do not understand much about laws, to be
sure, as the law of my master is the one I have been subject to all my
life, but some how, it looks a little singular to me, that wise people
should be obliged to break their own laws, or else do a very wicked act.
I have been told that there are twice as many voters at the North as
there are at the South, and much more wealth, as well as other things of
importance, which makes me study much, why the Northern people live
under such laws. If I was one of them, and had any influence among them,
it appears to me, I should advocate the overthrow of such laws, and the
establishment of better ones in their room. Many people tell me besides,
that if the slaves should rise up, and do as they did in Nat Turner’s
time, endeavor to fight their way to freedom, that the Northern people
are pledged to shoot them down, and keep them in subjection to their
masters. Now I cannot understand this, for almost all the people tell
me, that they “are opposed to Slavery,” and yet they swear to prevent
the slaves from obtaining their liberty! If these things could be made
clear to my mind, I should be glad; but a fog hangs over my eyes at
present in reference to this matter.

I now wish to introduce to your hearing, a friend of mine, who will
tell you more about these things than I can, until I have had more time
to examine this curious subject. What he shall have to say to you, may
not be as interesting as the account of my sufferings, but if you really
wish to help my brethren in bondage, you will not be unwilling to hear
what he may say to you, in reference to the way to abolish slavery, as
you cannot be opposed to my sufferings, unless you are willing to exert
yourselves for the overthrow of the cruel system which caused them.


Dear Friends,--You have listened with eager ears, and with tearful eyes,
to the recital of Mr. Brown. He has alluded to the laws which many of
you uphold, when you go to the polls and vote, but he has not informed
you of your duty at the present crisis. What I have to say at this time,
will be mainly directed to the remedy for this terrible evil, so
strikingly portrayed in his eventful life. As one of those who desire
the abolition of Slavery, it is my earnest desire to be made acquainted
with a true and proper remedy for this dreadful disease. I apprehend
that no moral evil exists, for the cure of which there cannot be found
some specific, the application of which, will effectually eradicate the
disorder. I am not a politician, and cannot write as politicians do.
Still I may be pardoned for entering a little into their sphere of
action, for the purpose of plucking some choice fruit from the
overhanging boughs of that fruitful arena. I am not _afraid_ of
politics, for I do not regard them as too sacred, or as too profane,
for me to handle. I believe that the people of this country are not
ready for a truly Christian government; therefore, although I cannot
unite myself with any other, yet I should be rejoiced, at beholding the
faintest resemblance to such an one, in opposition to our present
pro-slavery government.

I would like to see all men perfect Christians, but as I do not expect
to witness this sight very soon, I am gratified at their becoming
anti-slavery, or even temperance men. Any advance from the old
corruptions of the past, is hailed with delight by me.

The point I would now urge upon your attention is, the immediate
formation of a _new government at the North_, at all events, and at all
hazards! I do not say, “Down with this Union” merely, but I do say, up
with an Anti-Slavery government, in the free States. Our object should
be the establishment of a form of government, directly in opposition to
the one we at present live under. The stars and stripes of our country’s
flag, should be trodden into the dust, and a white banner, with the
words, “Emancipation to the Slaves” inscribed upon it, should be
unfurled to the breeze, in the room of the old emblem of despotic
servitude. Too long have we been dilatory upon this point; but the
period I believe has now arrived, for us to strike for freedom, in
earnest. Let us see first, what we have to accomplish; and then the
means whereby we can bring about the desired end; our capabilities for
such a work; and the reasons why we should adopt this plan; and what
will be the consequences of such a course of action. First. What have we
to accomplish? A great and an important end truly, which is nothing
less, than the establishment of a new government, right in the midst of
our present pro-slavery one.

A government, is a system of authority sustained by either the rulers,
or the ruled, or by both conjointly. If it depends on the will of the
rulers, then they can change it at pleasure; but if the people are
connected with it, their consent must be gained, before its character
can be altered. If, as is the case with our government, it is the
_people_ who “ordain and establish” laws, then it lies with them to
change those laws, and to remodel that government. Let this fact be
distinctly understood; for the majority of the people of this land, seem
to labor under the delusion, that our government is sustained by some
other power than their own; and are very much in the situation of those
heathen nations, condemned by one of the ancient prophets, who
manufactured their deities, and then fell down and worshipped the work
of their own hands. The people make laws for their own guidance, and
then offer as an excuse for their bad conduct, that the _laws_ require
them to do so! The government appears to be yet surrounded with a halo
of glory, as it was in the days of kingly authority, when “the powers
that be” were supposed to have been approvingly “ordained of God,” and
men fear to touch the sacred structure of their own erecting, as if
God’s throne would be endangered thereby. This is not the only
manifestation of self-esteem connected with their movements.

The people also fancy, that what their fathers created is divine, when
their fathers have departed, and left them to do as they elect, without
any obligation resting upon them to follow in their steps; but so great
is the self-esteem of the people, as manifested in their pride of
ancestry, that they seem to suppose, that God would cast them off
forever, if they should cease to be children, and become men, casting
from them, the doctrines and political creeds of their fathers; and yet
they boast of their spirit of progress! They fear to act for themselves,
lest they should mar the reputation of their ancestors, and be deprived
of their feeling of self-adulation, in consequence of the perfection of
their worthy sires. But we must humble our pride, and cease worshipping,
either our own, or our father’s handiwork,--in reference to the laws, of
which we are speaking. What we want is, a very simple thing. Our fathers
proclaimed themselves free and independent of the British government,
and proceeded to establish a new one, in its room. They threw off the
British yoke! We can do the same, in reference to the United States
government! We can put forth _our_ “declaration of independence,” and
issue our manifesto of grievances; and as our fathers did, can pledge to
one another, “our lives, our property and our sacred honor,” in
promoting the accomplishment of this end. We can _immediately organize_
a new government, independent of the present one under which we live. We
may be deemed traitors for so doing; but were not Samuel Adams and John
Hancock traitors? and did not our forefathers inscribe on their banners,
“resistance to tyrants is obedience to God?” Are we more faint-hearted
than they were? Are not our and the slave’s grievances more unendurable
than were their wrongs? A new government is what we want; and the sound
should go forth from all these free hills, echoing across the plains of
the far distant West, that New England and the whole North, are ready
to do battle with the myrmidons of the slave power, not with the sword
of steel, but with the spirit of patient submission to robbery and
death, in defence of our principles. We are not obliged to muster our
squadrons in “hot haste,” to the “sound of the cannon’s deafening roar,”
nor to arm ourselves for physical combat; for there is more power in
suffering death, for truth’s sake, than in fighting with swords of
steel, and with cannon balls. A new government we must have; and now let
us consider, Secondly, how we shall bring this end about, and some
reasons why we should adopt this course.

Step by step, do we progress in all improvements designed for man’s well
being. At first the people in a semi-barbarous state, are satisfied with
a rude code of laws, similar to that given by a military commander, to
the rough bandits under his direction; but as science unfolds its
truthful wings, and spreads over the minds of the race, a mantle of
wisdom, which covers their rude imperfections, and shuts out from the
eye of man, their inelegant barbarities, a regard for the good opinion
of others more civilized than they, induces such a people to demand the
overthrow of their savage code, which they have become ashamed of
acknowledging. The ancient Jews were supposed to stand in need of laws
of this character; which hung over their heads, threatening the most
severe punishments for the commission of, sometimes, very light crimes;
as Sinai’s burning mountain flashed its fierce lightnings in their
awe-stricken faces, and sent forth its terrible thunders, sounding in
their superstitious ears, like the voice of Deity. This people had just
emerged from the depths of Egyptian slavery, and might have stood in
need of such severe and terrible laws, so Draconic in their nature; but
the refined inhabitants of polished Greece and Rome, needed not such
barbarous enactments. The advancing spirit of civilization had swept
along in its effacing train, all the necessity for such brutal ferocity,
by destroying the ferocious character of the people; as it opened to
them more refined sources of enjoyment, in the erection of works of art,
and in mental cultivation. The muses too, had purified and rendered
delicate their tastes, so that outward barbarity seemed no longer
attractive; although their ancestors had indulged in such scenes with
great gusto. Our Druidical, Saxon and Norman ancestry, might have needed
as cruel laws as those we now live under. At least such laws would have
been more appropriate to their semi-barbarous condition, than they are
to our improved state; but surely, we of the nineteenth century, having
outlived the errors of the past, and having reached a point, from which
we can cast our eyes far back into the distant past, and behold with
utter astonishment, the absurd practices of our cruel and ignorant
ancestors; are not obliged, out of regard for the memory of those not so
far removed from us, in point of time, as those whose memories we do not
hesitate to execrate, to retain as objectionable laws as ever disgraced
the statute book of England, in the days of the bloody Jeffreys, or when
the unalterable “Star chamber” decisions, were the law of the land. For
a country to make its boast of civilization, and to call itself a
refined nation, while it tenaciously grasps the worst errors of its
ancestors, and plunges into a fit of madness, at the least allusion to
an alteration of its cannibal laws, seems somewhat astonishing. It
makes one think of a man, who should propose joining a church, and when
asked to give up dram-drinking and gambling, should break forth in a
torrent of abuse, against those who made the proposition to him; for
those practices are no more contrary to the sweet spirit of heavenly
religion, than is slaveholding in opposition to true civilization, and
perfect refinement. It is a remnant of that spirit of barbarity, which
formerly induced men to fight for conquest and territory, in the
palmiest days of the ancient Eastern empires, when the fields of the
earth, fair mother of our existence, were made fertile by the rich
streams of blood, flowing from the mangled corpses, strewn upon its
surface, by the fiendish barbarity of a Sennacherib, a Cyrus, a Xerxes,
and an Alexander.

An alteration of our present laws is demanded; but who will agitate this
subject, where it must be agitated, in order to accomplish the end so
ardently desired? It is well known, that a simple majority of votes in
Congress, can never affect the alteration proposed,--that three fourths
of the States of this Union must be penetrated with the spirit of
repentance, in reference to slavery, and bring forth the legitimate
fruit thereof, by consenting to this alteration, before it can be
accomplished; and who will go to the South, that “valley of the shadow
of death,” in regard to all subjects having reference to man’s
improvement, and urge this course upon its darkened inhabitants? But
this step must be taken, before the Constitution can be altered, or its
meaning rendered unequivocal, so as not to be misunderstood by the
authorities of this nation; for it is not to be expected that the South
will ever repent of their own accord, and change the laws of the Union,
because we demand it, unless the alternative is presented them, of such
change, or disunion on our part.

But the time expended in converting the people of the _North_ to a
willingness to alter the Constitution, would amply suffice to persuade
them to organize a new government; for the Northern people are as ready
to go for a dissolution of the Union, as they are for an alteration of
the Constitution; for much advance has already been made in
indoctrinating them in reference to the former idea, and thousands and
tens of thousands are probably converts to this doctrine, while but
little or nothing has been said in reference to the latter alternative.
No party has yet proposed this step; but a large and increasing one,
embodying a great portion of the talent of the nation, is now earnestly
engaged in advocating the former. Which would be the easiest of
accomplishment then, the conversion of the North to disunion principles,
or to a willingness to alter the Constitution? Every one at all versed
in political affairs, must be aware, that an alteration of the
Constitution, without the consent of the South, would be a virtual
dissolution of the Union, even if such a step were possible; so that
converting the Northern people to the doctrine of an alteration of the
Constitution, would be, in fact, only another phase of conversion to
disunion; for, of course, the South will never consent to such an
alteration, only as an alternative, in opposition to dissolution. To be
sure, if the Northern people would act as a body, and boldly say to the
South, “give us an alteration of the ‘three-fifths representation’
clause of the Constitution; a change of that in reference to ‘domestic
insurrection;’ and an entire destruction of the one requiring ‘persons
held to service, under the laws of a state,’ to be given up to ‘those to
whom _such_ service or labor may be due,’ or we will break away from
your polluting embrace;” there would probably be no need of our ever
dissolving the Union, if the South believed the North was speaking
truly; for, a petted and indulged child, rendered effeminate by parental
fondness and neglect of all discipline, would be in no more danger of
leaving forever its parent’s abode, without a farthing in its pocket, or
the ability to walk a single step alone, because of its parents’ refusal
to gratify its whims any longer; than would the “spoiled child” of the
South, who has been fed on the richest viands our Northern pantry could
supply, and drank of the costliest wines our free cellars could furnish,
be in danger of leaving its well-supplied table of Northern spreading,
and spring from the soft lap of Northern indulgence, to go forth to its
own poverty-stricken lands, obliged to earn its coarse bread and clear
water, by the hard toil of its own delicate hands.

But will the Northern people ever be ready to say this to the South? Not
until years of patient toil in cultivating the pro-slavery soil of their
hearts, have been expended by those whose office it seems to be to labor
for the slaves’ release; and even then, it is questionable whether,
after having been supported by the North so long, and so patiently, the
South would believe all our affirmations; and we after all might be
obliged to withdraw from her. But if the plan we propose, should be
adopted, it would save all this uncertainty, for the South would then
know we meant what we said, and would be frightened at our movements;
as a woman is filled with dismay, when her only protector, talks of
leaving her and her helpless babes, to the cold charities of an
unfeeling world.

It is certain the South never would consent to an alteration of the
Constitution, unless she was driven to it by the North, which object has
not yet been proposed by any Northern party; and before any great
progress could be made in the reception of such a doctrine, a little
knot of patriots, armed with the invincible resolution of him, whose
narrative has been presented to you, or with that of our revolutionary
fathers; could have erected the standard of revolt, and have formed the
basis of a new and powerful government. It is not a reform in our
government that we need, but _a revolution--an overthrow of the present
one_, and the establishment of a new one. Supposing a few individuals
should be hung as traitors, would not that create a sympathy for us
among the governments of the old world? and would not the universal
voice of all civilized nations cry out against our immolation? Let but
as many individuals unite, as signed the famous manifesto of our
fathers, and armed with their Spartan spirit, _pledge our lives and
fortunes_ to the accomplishment of this end! Let our _declaration of
independence_ be sent forth to all the world, and our grievances be
stated in the hearing of mankind! Let a new Continental Congress meet,
at some favorable point, draft a new Constitution, and all who drink of
the spirit of liberty, which flowed into the hearts of our fathers, be
requested to annex their names to the document! Let it go forth to the
whole land as _our_ Constitution! Let immediate measures be taken for an
active and efficient agitation of the whole subject; our orators to go
forth, and in the streets and lanes of our cities and villages, proclaim
the object we have in view; or, if a more silent way of proceeding shall
be deemed the most expedient, let committees visit every house and shop
in our land, and see who will gird on this armor, and resolve to perish
in an attempt to rescue the bleeding slave, from the hands of his cruel
master, by refusing all support to this government, even to the
deprivation of the necessaries of life.

And now comes the period of our proposed bloodless revolution, which
will try men’s souls. Let us do as our fathers did, and _refuse to pay
taxes to the general government_. “Millions for defence, but not one
cent for tribute,” cried our ancestors, in order to save their
descendants from the oppressive spirit of England’s grasping avarice.
They at first were ridiculed, and it is stated that when John Warren,
one of the aristocracy of Boston, made an inflammatory speech, at a
rebel meeting, that he was denounced by the leading citizens of this
place, and a copy of a letter is still preserved, written by some of
them in reference to the transaction, in which they state, that “one Dr.
Warren, had indeed made a rebellious speech, but he was applauded only
by _a few rowdies_.” Shall not we be as willing to sacrifice our
property and lives, as were our ancestors? Did not John Hancock hand the
keys of his stores and dwelling to the authorities of the city, saying
to them, “this is all of my property, but if the good of Boston requires
its destruction, I freely yield it to you?” To pay taxes is to support
the government, under which we live, for without this support it could
not exist. These taxes are not paid of course directly, but still we
eat, drink, and wear those things, on which a duty is paid, which gives
the general government all its power. For instance. The Mexican War has
left a large debt resting on our shoulders. The only way in which it
will be paid probably is, by an increased tariff on particular articles
of consumption. Now if an entire cessation of such consumption should
take place, would not the government be left destitute of the means to
pay this debt? Who pays the salaries of the officers of this government,
but the consumer of the articles taxed by it? If the consumption of all
such articles can be prevented, would not our government be obliged to
cease operations, for want of oil to grease its machinery with? It moves
only as money is furnished it. Our navy and army, the protectors of the
South, can only be supported by large sums of money, derived from the
revenue of the nation, which revenue we help to create by our
consumption of these things. If sugar pays a large duty, or tea and
coffee, or silks and satins, broadcloths and cassimeres, by refusing to
use those articles, and inducing others to do the same, would not the
revenue of the nation be affected? and when the actual tax-gatherer in
the shape of the merchant, holds out his seductive wares for our
purchase, could we not exhibit to him our pledge to “totally abstain”
from the use of such articles; as the temperance man shows his ticket,
as a reason why he should not partake of the intoxicating cup?

Another step could also be taken. A president could be chosen by us, and
other necessary officers, and we could go on with our government, just
as if no other existed, “beating for recruits” all the while, and
offering no physical resistance to those who molest us. _Have we not a
right so to do?_

    “Children of the glorious dead!
     Who for freedom fought and bled,”

have you become bond slaves to a power fully as oppressive of you, as
that of Britain’s tyrannical king, against whom your ancestors lifted
their stout arms in rebellion, and unfurled their banner of revolt, on
which was gloriously inscribed, “victory or death?” Have you forever
lost all that portion of your ancestral fire, which armed three millions
of poor and feeble men to engage in deadly combat with the richest and
most powerful nation in Christendom? Ah, has God forsaken you so
entirely, that no pulse of gladness beats in your frame, as you listen
to the stirring notes of the wild, clarion sound of freedom, coming over
these hills, and echoing from the far-distant prairies of the wide West?
Oh is there not, friends, any deep fountain of sorrow gushing up from
the inmost depths of your secret souls, for the sufferings and woes of
the three millions of your Southern brethren? Ah, is there not any
remnant of the spark of divinity which our Father in heaven has placed
in every human heart, left to warm up your frigid souls? Say, breathes
there not a particle of indignant life in your moral nature, as you
listen to the mad agonies of shrieking mothers, the victims of
remorseless tyrants who now stand defacing God’s image and stamping in
the dust the lineaments of their Creator? Oh, is there none of manhood
left in you, that the shrieks of trampled upon and bleeding innocence,
should not move you to contend with Slavery’s cruel power? But is not
your own safety a reason why you should cease to doff your beavers to
the South, and should refuse to pay homage to her any longer? Listen a
moment while I exhibit to you some more personal and selfish arguments.
At the last election, the Southern States were allowed one electoral
vote for every 7,500 voters, while at the North, it took 12,000 voters
to entitle us to _one_ elector. The number of electors, of which we were
thus deprived, was about 100, which was the same as excluding from the
privilege of the elective franchise, 750,000 voters, about the number in
all New England and Pennsylvania! Now are not these persons taxed
equally with those who have the privilege of voting? Do not all the
citizens of the North pay taxes? Yes, and much more than their true
proportion, for by far the greater portion of duty-paying goods, are
consumed at the North. Then, is not the principle which our fathers died
to oppose, fully carried out by our government, _taxation without
representation_? and yet we tamely submit to this plucking our substance
from us, by the fierce beak of our country’s eagle; while our fathers
would not so much as listen to the slight growling of the English lion,
as he shook his shaggy mane in their faces, and touched them with but
the extremities of his bloody paw! Robbery, if committed by a bird of
prey, the American eagle, is to be patiently submitted to, and indeed we
call it but the tickling of an affectionate friend or child; but let the
valiant lion of Old England take the value of a pin’s point, or a few
old pine trees and worthless rocks from us, and how the welkin rings
with the sound of our abhorrence of such depredations. We are like the
slaveholder, spoken of in our friend’s narrative, who told the slaves it
was a crime to steal from him, but none to rob his neighbors, because
he reaped the benefits of the theft. So with us. We are _rewarded_ for
our submission to this robbery, by the paltry trade of the South, and as
long as a few of us can make more money than we lose otherwise by our
connection with the South, we care not for our principles, although
every fourth of July we laud our fathers for fighting in behalf of them;
or for the losses of the mass of the people. _Taxation without
representation!_ This practice deluged the fields of our country, with
our ancestor’s and Briton’s son’s blood; and caused our prosperity, as a
nation, to be stricken to the ground, and we magnify our fathers for
their boldness, in reference to it; yet we cherish the same principle,
and press it to our bosoms as a part of our religion!

Great Britain _tried_ our fathers, accused of crime, away from their
homes, across the waters of the ocean, and we call it a great
oppression; but let one of our sons be guilty of an act in violation of
Southern law, or be even suspected of it, and there is _no_ law by which
he can be tried. All law is trampled under foot, and he is doomed to
waste away his life, in a gloomy prison, or to be whipped almost to
death. Which is the worst, being tried across the sea, by an impartial
court, or being strung up by Lynch law between the heavens and the
earth, and left dangling on the limb of a tree, or else doomed to wear
out a miserable existence in some foul dungeon?

But to make the case still more parallel. Great Britain, our fathers
complained, quartered soldiers upon them in times of peace, who eat out
their substance and corrupted the people. For what other earthly
purpose is the army of the United States continued in existence, but to
watch the bidding of the monster Slavery, and be ready to fly at a
moment’s warning to her assistance, in case the least attempt should be
made by their victims to regain their freedom? That this is a true
statement, may be seen from the fact, that all our wars for the last
thirty-five years, have been waged in behalf of Slavery, and even our
last war with Great Britain, is attributed by many persons to the
demands of the slave power. It is certain, that no war will ever be
allowed by the South, except in behalf of Slavery, for it would be
detrimental to their interests; and it is well known that she rules over
the destinies of this country, and guides its affairs of state, as
effectually as Alexander or Napoleon ruled the countries they had
conquered. Slavery rules this nation, did we say? It can hardly be
called ruling, for we are so submissive to the faintest manifestation of
her will, that she has but to glance her glowing eye towards our craven
souls, and we will prostrate our abject forms lowly on the ground, with
our faces hid in the dust, which we are truly unworthy to touch; as
submissively and reverentially, as the devout Mussulman kisses the
ground when the hour of prayer arrives, crying, “God is great.” Our God
is emphatically Slavery. To him we address our early matins, and in his
ear are uttered our evening orisons. More devoutly do we render homage
to our god, Slavery, than the most pious of us adore the God of heaven,
which proves that we are a very religious people, worshipping, not
crocodiles, leeks and onions, snakes, and images of wood and stone, but
a god, whose service is infinitely more disgusting than that of any
heathen idol, but one who _pays_ us well, for our obeisance, as we

In this matter of a standing army, we go beyond our fathers in suffering
oppression. They were not obliged to fight for England, when the object
of the war was to enslave themselves; but it is well known that the
great object the South has in view, in all her wars, is the
aggrandizement of herself and the subjection of the North to her
complete dictation; and we are called upon to engage in these wars, and
after they are fought, we are compelled to foot the heavy bills.

But when our fathers were oppressed, they could plead in their own
behalf. If they placed their feet on England’s shores, no harm could
befal them, as long as they were guilty of no crime. They could defend
their own cause; and the thunders of a Burke’s eloquence, shook the
walls of Parliament to their foundation, and made the tyrants of England
tremble and quake with fear, as he poured forth the fervor of his
vehement eloquence in strong condemnation of the oppression of the
colonies. A William Pitt too, could frighten the British minister from
his unhallowed security, amid the multitude of fawning sycophants
surrounding him, in the height of his political power, by the thunders
of his voice, uttered in faithful rebuke of the war measures of the
government. This noble Earl, was allowed to plead in behalf of American
freedom, until his earnest spirit was claimed by the grim messenger
death, as he arose in his place in the House of Lords, to speak in our
behalf. But suffer what we may, is there any redress for us at the hands
of our government? Our property may be injured by spoliations on our
commerce, such as imprisoning our seamen, as well as by the crime of
seizing our free citizens and depriving them of their liberty; and can
we obtain the least redress? O the ignominy of our puerile connection
with the South!

It is well known that under the system of Slavery, the three great
blessings of republicanism are denied to a large portion of our
citizens. These are, freedom of the press, of speech and of locomotion.
And will we allow ourselves to be deprived of what even Europe’s
despotic kings have been bestowing upon their subjects? Are we more base
and abject in our submission to the South, than are the oppressed
millions of the old world, in their subjection to their kingly
oppressors? O what falsifiers of our own professions, and truants to our
own dearly prized principles, we are! Can an abolitionist travel
unexposed at the South? I have had some little experience in the matter,
and know that such is not the case. Men have pursued me with relentless
hate, and implements of death have been brought into requisition against
me, for no crime, only for exposing Slavery, in its own dominions. Can
we send to any part of the South those newspapers we may wish to send
there? While at the South, I was advised by a friend to conceal a paper
I had received, because of its being opposed to Slavery; and it is in
only particular portions of that ill-fated country, that anti-slavery
publications, can be introduced. It is not many years, since a man was
publicly whipped, for having an anti-slavery newspaper wrapped around a
bible, which he was offering for sale. As to liberty of speech, not half
the freedom is allowed the opponents of Slavery on the floors of
Congress, that the British Parliament allowed the opposers of the
American War. In Boston, on the day which ushered the famous _stamp act_
into existence, the bells were tolled, and a funeral procession passed
through the streets, bearing a coffin, on which the word _Liberty_ was
inscribed. “During the movement of the procession, minute guns were
fired, and an oration was pronounced in favor of the _deceased_. Similar
expressions of grief and indignation occurred in many parts of the
land;” but, friends, no funeral procession passed through our streets
when Liberty died the second time--no muffled bells sounded their
melancholy peals in the ears of a mourning people; no liberty-loving
orator was found to pronounce a requiem for the departed goddess; and
yet she was slain--and slain too, not by foreign hands, nor by the
natural allies of human oppressors, but, shall I tell the sad and dismal
tale? by those, who twenty-five years before, had shrouded their faces
in mantles of mourning, and rent the air with their expressions of
grief, at the destruction of one of liberty’s little fingers, by the
passage of the stamp act; but when Liberty lay a full length corpse, on
the floors of that Congress, which sold her to the South, as Judas
betrayed the Son of God, and for almost as small a boon, viz.: “the
carrying trade” of the South; not only were there _no_ lamentations made
over her complete departure, but she was taken by night and buried
hastily; while

    “Not a drum was heard nor a funeral note,”

as her corse was deposited without a “winding sheet,” or even “a
soldier’s cloak” to wrap around her bleeding form. Clandestinely was she
hurried out of the sight of the men who murdered her; and instead of
songs of sorrow, being heard throughout the land, pæans of praise
ascended from its every corner, and honors were heaped on the heads of
her murderers. But Liberty as truly died then, as if loud lamentations
had been made in her behalf, and the descendants of those very men, who
in 1765 followed the coffin of liberty to its place of deposit, because
no business was deemed lawful unless the records of it were made on
_stamped paper_; the descendants of these very mourners of liberty, now,
do what is infinitely worse than to use the stamped paper of a British
king; they swear to support that sacrifice of Liberty upon the altar of
Southern slavery, whenever they are admitted to any offices of trust and
renown. Is not this oppressive, when we may not administer justice to
our fellow men, or exercise the most common authority, without renewing
the thrust at the departed spirit of liberty, as our fathers actually
slew her fair form?

    O Liberty! didst thou draw thy keen sword
      For those, whom av’rice sought to rob, and slay,
      And sent its minions far, to seek its prey,
      That glittering gold might its coffers fill;
      While they their foes should crush, and seek to kill,
    That England’s lords, their gold could steal, and hoard?

    Goddess celestial, and divine, and pure,
      Wert thou, the champion brave, the soldier true,
      Who fought with youthful vigor, with the few,
      Of Columbia’s sons, who stood, a sturdy band,
      And bade their country’s foes to leave their land,
    While they, to thee didst vow allegiance sure?

    Insulted nymph! thy fair form shone so bright,
      That kings, as thee they saw, could not reject
      That face, alive with claims to their respect;
      E’en they, besotted with the lust of power,
      Could not refuse to yield to thee thy dower,
    But ceased at thy command, their foes to fight.

    But ah! the men who thee so loud did call,
      The souls, whom thou hadst saved from bondage dread,
      O fearful tale! _themselves on thee did tread_;
      And thy fair robe was pierced with traitorous thrusts.
      As Cæsar groaning fell and kissed the dust,
    When ingrate Brutus’ blows on him did fall.

On the 5th of March, 1775, the Boston massacre occurred--the fearful
tragedy of State Street! All Boston was aroused, murders dreadful had
been committed by the British troops, and it was a difficult task to
allay the excitement occasioned thereby. What was the amount of this
terrible massacre? Why, three Boston citizens had been shot in the heat
of an affray with the British soldiery! What horror seemed to seize upon
the hearts of the people! Why, “our brothers are being shot down in the
face of open day, and our turn may come next.” Terrible was the
indignation of our fathers! And yet we, their descendants, calmly allow
the South to slay our citizens at their leisure. The blood of a murdered
Lovejoy, still cries out from the ground for vengeance! A Baltimore
prison, still contains the impress of a departed spirit’s feet, which
left an impression on its gloomy pavement, as he fled from an earthly
prison-house to the mansions of the blest. A C. C. Torrey still calls
for redress for his wrongs at the hands of Southern tyrants. The jail of
our own capital if it could speak, would tell of him who pined away
within its noisome walls, as he lay in that republican enclosure, a
victim to Southern tyranny. Yes, Dr. Crandall’s blood has not yet been
atoned for, by the wicked South. Here are, at least three victims who
have been slain, at the cruel dictation of Slavery’s dreadful power. But
time would fail me, to tell of a Van Zandt, of a Fairbanks, and of
numerous others, whose lives have been forfeited to the South. And yet
we submit to her dictation. Our own citizens slain, imprisoned, and
cruelly beaten, but yet we have no heart to break away from this
degrading alliance with our Southern man-stealing brethren.

But, I must bring this expostulation to a close, and proceed to show the
_consequences_ of this event, the formation of a new government. Of
these it may be said; they could not be more disastrous to the North
than Slavery has been; for like the “horse-leech’s two daughters,” she
continually cries “give, give,” and never seems to have enough. Hardly
through with the digestion of the tremendous morsel just administered to
her gormandizing appetite, she commences to lick her lips, and daintily
ask for a dessert, with which to finish the full meal which she has
already made of California and New Mexico, and as her mother deems it
her duty, never to deny any of her darling daughter’s reasonable
requests, probably the Island of Cuba, will soon be placed at her side,
for her to nibble upon at leisure.

Many persons deprecate our plan, for fear of a civil war; and terrific
ideas of rivers of blood rolling across our fields, and piles of bones
heaped on our shores, startle them in their slumbers, as the rustling of
a leaf fills the slaveholder’s heart with fear. In the first place, how
very absurd is this idea of a civil war being the result of disunion.
Can any one seriously urge it, as an objection to this movement? Look at
the vast extent of territory open to the incursions of an enemy, if the
North should withdraw from the South. There are the Islands of the West
Indies, filled with emancipated slaves, ready, some of them to join in
an effort to redeem the Southern slaves from bondage. Then there is the
long line of sea-board, entirely unprotected, which even in the last war
was devastated in part by the British army, and the capital of our
country reduced to ashes. On the Northern frontier, runs that talismanic
line, over which a slave has but to place his foot, and glorious liberty
becomes his possession. Here stand, twelve millions of freemen, ready to
fight in behalf of the panting fugitive, while nearly 20,000 sturdy
hearts beat quick to the sound of the trumpet of freedom, and are ready
to leave their homes in _Canada_, to assist their brethren. Then, there
is ill-treated and insulted Mexico, burning under a sense of the wrongs
inflicted upon her, and watching an opportunity to redress those wrongs.
Last of all, are the numerous Indian tribes, smarting under a deep sense
of the wrongs they have received at our hands. Now will any sensible
person assert that five millions of Southerners, allowing all her white
population to be in favor of Slavery, with an intestine foe, ready to
spring upon her, as soon as the last chance of freedom presents itself,
will be in danger of fighting twelve millions of free Northerners, who
can call to their aid all these, and numerous other allies? Why, the
idea is preposterous, and none but an insane man, can seriously
entertain it. Who would fight the North, if war should be declared? At
the first sound of the trumpet of war, every slave would be instantly
free; for never could the Southerners leave their homes exposed to the
fury of an insurgent population, as they would be obliged to, if an army
should be organized to fight the North.

But who are those persons who cry out “civil war, and bloodshed?” Are
they not mostly those who believe the revolutionary war to have been
right? If Slavery is wrong, to be consistent, they ought to hail any
movement which will hasten an insurrection among the Slaves. What is a
civil war of a few years’ continuance, in comparison to the seven years’
war we waged with Great Britain? _Then_ our resources were limited, our
treasury light, and we were only three millions strong. But _now_, we
abound in resources, have become plethoric on account of our riches, and
are twelve millions strong, while our enemy is less than half that
number. We coped with twenty millions of British subjects, when we
numbered but three millions, can we not now with twelve millions cope
with five? Then has our glory departed indeed, and we are the veriest
slaves in existence. But would our trade be endangered? Ah, that is
_the_ question. Said a person to me not long since, “I acknowledge there
would be benefits in a dissolution of the Union, but there are also
disadvantages.” And what are they? we inquired. “Why, our trade would be
injured.” Let it perish then! Every mother’s son of us, had better pack
up and on board our numerous vessels go on a begging expedition to
England or France, or we had better “tie millstones about our necks, and
drown ourselves in the depths of the sea;” or, we had better lay down in
the streets and perish with hunger, than to allow Slavery to continue
its existence.

The moment it is granted that a dissolution of the Union would abolish
Slavery quicker than any other course, then I think our point is gained,
and there is no necessity of proving that we shall not lose the sale of
a few hats and boots, or _slave whips_. It seems almost an insult to the
character of the Northern people to answer such an argument as this, and
yet I fear that it is the “strong reason” why this question meets with
so much opposition.

If slavery is abolished, no one can deny that our _trade_, so important
to Northern men, and for which they are ready to barter the welfare of
three millions of human beings, would be materially increased; but for
one I care not, whether this will be the case or not. I cannot, I will
not argue this question. It is a sin against the Holy Ghost, to dream of
balancing the matter in this way. Northern men, you are too much
actuated by this spirit of Avarice! You must be converted from this
accursed love for gold; for it will sink you into the lowest degradation
of a life afar from Deity. You cannot be the friends of God, while it
reigns in your hearts! You must arise, and cast it from you! You must be
converted from your selfishness, and then you will have no objections to
offer against a dissolution of the Union! If your eyes can only be
anointed with the eye-salve of humanity, and be washed in the waters of
benevolence, you will see the folly of all your objections, and will be
ready to sink all your ships with their rich cargoes, into the depths of
the sea, and to burn your well-filled stores, rather than to cause
Slavery to continue another day! O, men of the North, can ye not be
aroused to action in the slave’s behalf? Shall the purple streams of the
slave’s blood, flow ceaselessly and rapidly o’er our land, gushing forth
from every hill-side of the South, and coloring all the fair fields of
Southern industry, on account of your sustaining power? O that I could
utter some word in your ear, which would quicken your dormant
sensibilities and arouse you to action in the slave’s cause! Shall I
tell you of God, of heaven, and of hell? There is a God, and as he
descends from his abode among the stars, and essays to find an entrance
into your soul, by which he may make you “a joint heir with Christ to an
inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled and which fadeth not away,”
depend upon it, that he will be frustrated in his benevolent purpose, if
the demon of pro-slavery, lies coiled up in your heart. Whatever may be
said of religion, it is true that God can never approve of any person,
in league with slaveholders; for a just God is forever opposed to all
forms of robbery and oppression. If God’s favor then is of any value,
flee, I beseech thee, to the arms of liberty, and be encircled by her
protecting power; so that all approach to Slavery may be dreaded by
thee, as an angel dreads the polluting touch of sin.

_EXTRACT of an Address of Sam’l J. May, Unitarian Clergyman, in
Syracuse, N. Y., delivered in Faneuil Hall_.

Never will the story be forgotten in our country, or throughout the
world, of the man--whom I trust you will all be permitted to see--who,
that he might escape from Southern oppression, consented to a living
entombment. He entered the box with the determination to be free or die:
and as he heard the nails driven in, his fear was that death was to be
his portion; yet, said he, let death come in preference to slavery! I
happened to be in the City of Philadelphia--I have told the story to the
convention already, but I will tell it again--in the midst of an
excitement that was caused by the arrival of a man in a box. I measured
it myself; _three feet one inch long, two feet wide, and two feet six

The box was placed in the express car in Richmond, Va., and subjected to
all the rough treatment ordinarily given to boxes of merchandise; for,
notwithstanding the admonition of “_this side up with care_,” the box
was tumbled over, so that he was sometimes on his head; yes, at one
time, for nearly two hours, as it seemed to him, _on his head_, and
momentarily expecting that life would become extinct, from the terrible
pressure of blood that poured upon his brain. Twenty-seven hours was
this man subjected to this imminent peril, that he might, for one
moment, at least, breathe the air of liberty. Does not such a man
deserve to be free? Is there a heart here, that does not bid him
welcome? Is there a heart here, that can doubt that there must be in him
not merely the heart and soul of a deteriorated man--a degraded,
inferior man--but the heart and soul of a noble man? Not a _nobleman_,
sir, but a NOBLE MAN? Who can doubt it?

                   *       *       *       *       *

                      REPRESENTATION OF THE BOX,

In which a fellow mortal travelled a long journey, in quest of those
rights which the piety and republicanism of this country denied to him,
the right to possess.


Right side up with care_

3 feet 1 inch long, 2 feet wide, 2 feet 6 inches high.]

As long as the temples of humanity contain a single worshipper, whose
heart beats in unison with that of the God of the universe; must a
religion and a government which could inflict such misery upon a human
being, be execrated and fled from, as a bright angel, abhors and flees
from the touch of hideous sin.


[1] HUGO GROTIUS was, in the year 1620, sent from prison,
confined in a small chest of drawers, by the affectionate hands of a
faithful wife, but he was taken by _friends_ on horseback and carried
to the house of a friend, without undergoing much suffering or running
the terrible risk which our friend ran.

[2] The reader may be disposed to doubt the truth of the above
assertion, but I once asked a girl in Ky., whose mistress was a
Methodist church member, if she could tell me “who Jesus Christ was?”
“Yes,” said she, “he is the bad man.”

                                                                  C. S.

[3] In proof of this, I would state that during my residence at the
South, a whole town was once thrown into an uproar by my entering a
slave hut, about Christmas time, and talking and praying with the
inmates about an hour. I was told that it would not be safe for me to
remain in the town over night.

                                                                  C. S.

[4] While at the South, a gentleman came one day to a friend of mine,
and in a very excited manner said to him, “Why, are you not afraid
to have that man about you? Do you not fear that your house will be
burned? I cannot sleep nights lest the slaves should rise and burn, all
before them.”

                                                                  C. S.

[5] While in Kentucky I knew of a case where a preacher punished a
female slave in this way, and his wife stood by, throwing cold water
into the slave’s face, to keep her from fainting. In endeavoring to
escape afterwards, the poor creature became faint from loss of blood,
and her body was found partly devoured by the buzzards.

                                                                  C. S.

[6] Will not this be considered a sufficient exhibition of that
_charity_, which pro-slavery divines exhort abolitionists to practise?

                                                                  C. S.

[7] Reader, do you wonder at abolitionists calling such churches the
brotherhood of thieves?

                                                                  C. S.

[8] I would here state, that Mr. Brown is endeavoring to raise money to
purchase his family. Twelve hundred dollars being the sum demanded for
them. Any person wishing to assist him in this laudable purpose, can
enclose donations to him, directing No. 21 Cornhill, Boston.

[9] Reader, smile not at the above idea, for if there is a God of love,
we must believe that he suggests steps to those who apply to him in
times of trouble, by which they can be delivered from their difficulty.
I firmly believe this doctrine, and know it to be true from frequent

                                                                  C. S.

[10] For a corroboration of this part of Mr. Brown’s narrative, the
reader is referred to the close of this book.

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