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Full text of "The experience of Thomas Jones, who was a slave for forty-three years"

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CONTENTS. 






THE 



EXPERIENCE OF THOMAS JO? 



WHO WAS 



A SLAVE FOR FORTY-THREE YEARS. 



WRITTEN BY A FRIEND, 
AS GIVEN TO HIM BY BROTHER JONES. 



BOSTON : 

PRINTED BY DANIEL LATNG, JE. 

1850. 









* 






TO THE FRIENDS OF SUFFERING HUMANITY. 

The undersigned Jake pleasure in certifying, that they 
have formed an acquaintance with Brother Thomas Jones, 
since his escape from slavery ; having seen and perused 
his letters, and his certificates of Church relations, and 
made all suitable enquiries, most cordially recommend 
him to the confidence and aid of all who have a heart to 
sympathize with a down-trodden and outraged portion of 
the great brotherhood. We would also say, that we have 
heard Brother Jones lecture before our respective church- 
es, and we only speak the unanimous sentiments of our 
people, when we say, that his narrative is one of thrill- 
ing interest, calculated to secure the attention of any 
audience, and to benefit the sympathising hearts of all 
who will make themselves acquainted with the present 
condition and past experience of this true-hearted brother. 

E. A. STOCKMAN, 
Pastor of the Wesleyan Church, Boston. 

DANIEL FOSTER, 

Pastor of the Free Evangelical Church, 
North Danvers, Mass. 

To whom it may concern: This may certify, that the 
bearer, Thomas Jones, has lectured to my people, with 
good success, giving a satisfaction uncommon to one de- 
prived, as he has been, of moral and mental cultivation. 

I can cheerfully recommend him to all such as may be 
inclined to give him a hearing or assistance in any way, 
in confidence, feeling that he is an honest and upright 
man. 

A. B. FLANDERS, 

Pastor of W. M. Church, Exeter, N. H- 
Nov. 25, 1849. 



A suffering brother would affectionately present this 
staple story of deep personal wrongs to the earnest 
Is of the Slave. He asks you to buy and read it, 
• so doing, you will help one who needs your sym- 
pathy and aid, and you will receive, in the perusal of 
this simple narative, a more fervent conviction of the ne- 
cessity and blessedness of toiling for the desolate mem- 
bers of the one great brotherhood who now suffer and 
die, ignorant and despairing, in the vast prison land of 
the South. " Whatsoever ye would that men should do 
unto you, do ye also unto then." 

THOMAS JONES. 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 



I was born a slave. My recollections of early life are 
associated with poverty, suffering and shame. I 
made to feel, in my boyhood's first experience, that I \ 
inferior and degraded, and that I must pass through life 
in a dependent and suffering condition. The experience 
of forty-three years, which were passed by me in slave- 
ry, was one of dark fears and darker realities. John 
Hawes was my first master. He lived in Hanover 
County. N. C, between the Black and South Riv 
and was the owner of a large plantation called Ha\ 
Plantation. He had over fifty slaves. I remained with 
my parents nine years. They were both slaves, owned 
by John Hawes. They had six children, Richard. A 
ander, Charles, Sarah, myself, and John. I remember 
well thai dear old cabin, with its clay floor and r m#d 
chimney, in which, for nine years, I enjoyed the pres- 
ence and love of my wretched parents. 

Father and mother tried to make it a happy place for 
r dear children. Tlwy worked late into the ni 
many and many a time to get a little simple furniture for 
th"ir home and the home of their children ; and they 
spent many hours of willing toil to stop up the chinks 
between the logs of their poor hut, that they and their 
children might be protected from the storm and the cold. 
I can testify, from my own painful experience, to the 
deep and fond affection which the slave cherishes in his 
heart for his home and its dear ones. We have no other 
tie to link us to the human family, but our fervent love 
for those who are with us and of us in relations of sym- 
hy and devotedness, in wrongs and wretchedness. 
My dear parents were conscious of the desperate and in- 



D NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

curable woe of their position and destiny ; and of the lot 
of inevitable suffering in store for their beloved children. 
They talked about our coming misery, and they lifted up 
their voices and wept aloud, as they spoke of our being 
torn from them and sold off to the dreaded slave trader, 
perhaps never again to see them or hear from them a 
word of fond love. I have heard them speak of their 
willingness to bear their own sorrows without complaint, 
if only we, their dear children, could be safe from the 
wretchedness before us. And I remember, and now fully 
understand*, as I did not then, the sad and tearful look 
they would fix upon us when we were gathered round 
them and running on with our foolish prattle. I am a 
father, and I have had the same feelings of unspeakable 
anguish, as I have looked upon my precious babes, and 
have thought of the ignorance, degradation and woe 
which they must endure as slaves. The great God, who 
knoweth all the secrets of the heart, and He only, knows 
the bitter sorrow I now feel when 1 think of my four 
dear children who are slaves, torn from me and consigned 
to hopeless servitude by the iron hand of ruthless wrong. 
I love those children with all a father's fondness. God 
gave them to me ; but my brother took them from me, 
in utter scorn of a father's earnest pleadings ; and I never 
shall look upon them again, till I meet them and my op- 
pressors at the final gathering. Will not the Great 
Father and God make them and me reparation in the 
final award of mercy to the victim, and of justice to the 
cruel desolator? 

Mr. Hawes was a very severe and cruel master. He 
kept no overseer, but managed his own slaves with the 
help of Enoch, his oldest son. Once a year he distrib- 
uted clothing to his slaves. To the men he gave one 
pair of shoes, one blanket, one hat, and five yards of 
coarse, home-spun cotton. To the women a correspond- 
ing outfit, and enough to make one frock for each of the 
children. The slaves were obliged to make up their 
own clothes, after the severe labor of the plantation had 
been performed. Any other clothing, beyond this yearly 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. I 

supply, which they might need, the slaves were com- 
pelled to get by extra work, or do without. 

The supply of food given out to the slaves, was, one 
peck of corn a week, or some equivalent, and nothing 
besides. They must grind their own corn, after the 
work of the day was performed, at a mill which stood on 
the plantation. We had to eat our coarse bread without 
meat, or butter, or milk. Severe labor alone gave us an 
appetite for our scanty and unpalatable fare. Many of 
the slaves were so hungry after their excessive toil, that 
they were compelled to steal food in addition to this al- 
lowance. 

During the planting and harvest season, we had to 
work early and late. The men and women were called 
at three o'clock in the morning, and were worked on the 
plantation till it was dark at night. After that they must 
prepare their food for supper and for the breakfast of the 
next day, and attend to other duties of their own dear 
homes. Parents would often have to work for their 
children at home, after each day's protracted toil, till the 
middle of the night, and then snatch a few hours' sleep, 
to get strength for the heavy burdens of the next day. 

In the month of November, and through the winter 
season, the men and women worked in the fields, clear- 
ing up new land, chopping and burning bushes, burning 
tar kilns, and digging ditches. They worked together, 
poorly clad, and suffering from the bitter cold and wet of 
those winter months. Women, wives and mothers, 
daughters and sisters, on that plantation, were compelled 
to toil on cold, stormy days in the Open field, while the 
piercing wind and driving storn benumbed their limbs, 
and almost froze the tears that came forth out of their 
cold and desolate hearts. Little boys, and girls, too, 
worked a.id cried, toting brush to the fires, husking the 
corn, watching the stock, and running onf errands for 
master and mistress, for their three sons, Enoch, Edward 
and John, and constantly receiving from them scoldings 
and beatings as their reward. 

Thus passed nine years of my life ; years of suffering, 
the shuddering memory of which is deeply fixed in my 



O NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

he&rt. Oh, that tliese happy, merry boys and girls, 
whom I have seen in Massachusetts since my escape 
from slavery, whom I have so often met rejoicing in their 
mercies since I came here, only knew the deep wretch- 
edness of the poor slave child! For then, I am sure, 
their tender hearts would feel to love and pray for these 
unhappy ones, on whose early life hopeless sufferings 
bear down a crushing, killing burden ! These nine 
years of wretchedness passed, and a change came for me. 
My master sold me to Mr. Jones of Washington, N. C, 
tit forty-five miles from Hawes' plantation. Mr. 
Jones sent his slave driver, a colored man, named Abra* 
ham, to conduct me to my new home in Washington. I 
at home with my mother when he came. He look- 
ed in at the door, and called to me, " Tom, yon must go 
with me." His looks were ugly and his voice was sav- 
age. I was very much afraid, and began to cry, holding 
on to my mother's clothes and begging her to protect 
me, and not let the man take me away. Mother wept 
bitterly, and, in the midst of her loud sobbings, cried out 
in broken words, " I can't save you, Tommy ; master 
has sold you, you must go." She threw her arms around 
me, and while the hot tears fell on my face, she strained 
me to her heart. There she held me, sobbing and 
mourning, till the brutal Abraham came in. snatched me 
. hurried me out of the house where I was born, 
my only home, and tore me away from the dear mother 
who loved me as no oilier friend could do. She follow- 
ed him, imploring a moment's delay and weeping aloud, 
to the road, where lie turned around, and striking at her 
with his heavy cowhide, fiercely ordered her to stop 
bawling, and go back into the house. 

Thus was 1 snatched from the presence of my loving 
parents, and from the true affection of the dear ones of 
home. For thirteen weary years did my heart turn m its 
yearnings to that precious home. And then, at the age 
of twenty-two, I was permitted to revisit my early home. 
I found it all desolate ; the family all broken up; father 
was sold and gone ; Richard, Alexander, Charles. Sarah. 
and John weie sold and gone. Mother prcmatmely old, 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLATE. \) 

heartbroken, utterly desolate, weak and dying, alone re- 
mained. I saw her, and wept once more on her bosom. 
I went back to my chains with a deeper woe in my heart 
than I had ever felt before. There was but one thought 
of joy in my wretched consciousness, and that was, that 
my kind and precious mother would soon be at rest in 
the grave. And then, too, I remember, I mused with 
deep earnestness on death, as the only friend the poor 
slave had. And I wished that I, too. might lie down by 
my mother's side, and die with her in her loving em- 
brace. 

I should have related, that one of the earliest scenes of 
painful memory associated with my opening years of suf- 
fering is connected with a severe whipping which my 
master inflicted on my sister Sarah. He tied her up, 
having compelled her to strip herself entirely naked, in 
the smoke-house, and gave her a terrible whipping, — at 
least so it seemed- to my young heart, as I heard her 
am, and stood by my mother, who was wringing her 
hands in an agony of grief at the cruelties which her 
tender child was enduring. I do not know what my sis- 
ter had done for which she was then whipped ; but I re- 
member that her body was marked arid scarred for weeks 
after that terrible scourging, and that our parents alv 
after seemed to hold their breath when they spoke of it. 
Sarah was the last of the family who was sold ; and my 
poor mother never looked up after this final act of cruel- 
ty was accomplished. I think of my only sister now : 
and often try to imagine where she is. and how she fares 
in this cruel land of slavery. And', Oh, my God. how 
dark and wretched are these pictures ! Can I think of 
that poor sister without a sorrow too great for utterance ? 
Ah, me! how can the generous, loving brother or sister 
blessed with freedom, forget the cruel sorrows and 
wrongs of the slave brother and sister? How fellow- 
ship, ever in the least act of comity, the atrocious slave- 
holder ? There may be some who do this from ignorance 
of such cruel wrongs. God grant that this simple story 
may enlighten some who only need to know our deep ne- 
ities, to give us their willing sympathy, and aid, and 
love. 



10 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

My journey to Wilmington with the heartless Abra- 
ham was a very sad one. We walked all the way. I 
was afraid of my savage companion ; and yet, my heart 
felt so desolate, and my longings for sympathy so intense, 
that I was impelled to turn to my cruel guide for relief. 
He was striding along in stern gloom and silence, too fast 
for my young feet to keep pace ; "and I began to feel that 
I must stop and rest. It was bitter cold, too. and I was 
poorly clad to bear the keen air of a January day. My 
limbs were weary with travel and stiff with cold. I could 
not go on at the rate I had done, and so I turned to my 
guide, and begged him to take me into some hut and let 
me rest and get warm. He cursed me, and told me to 
keep silence and come along, or he would warm rne with 
the cow-hide. Oh, I thought how cruel and hopeless my 
lot ! Would that I conld fall down here and die. And 
I did fall down. We had just passed through a soft, wet 
place, and it seemed then to me that I was frozen And 
I fell down on my dark, cold way, unable to proceed. I 
was then carried into a slave's cabin and allowed to warm 
and rest. It was nearly midnight when I arrived with 
my conductor at my place of exile and suffering. And 
certainly no heart could be more entirely wretched than 
I was when I threw my weary, aching body on my cold 
hard bed. 

The next morning I was called into the presence of 
Mr. Jones, my new master, and my work was assigned to 
me. I was to take care of the old gray horse, kept for 
the use of the family when they wished to ride out, to 
fetch water from the spring to the house, to go on er- 
rands to my master's store, to clean the boots and shoes 
belonging to the white members of the family and to the 
white visiters, to sweep the rooms, and to bring wood 
from the wharf on my head for the fires at the house and 
store. From the first dawn of day till ten and eleven, 
and sometimes twelve at night, I could hardly find one 
moment's time for rest. And, Oh, how the memory of 
that year of constant toil and weariness is imprinted on 
my heart, an impression of appalling sorrow. My dreams 
are still haunted with the agony ot that year. 1 had just 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 11 

been torn from my home ; my yearning heart was de- 
prived of the sweet sympathy of those to whose memory 
I then clung, and to whom my heart still turns with ir- 
repressible and unutterable longings. J was torn from 
them and put into a circle of cold, selfish and cruel hearts, 
and put then to perform labors too great for my young 
strength. And yet I lived through that year, just as the 
slave lives on through weary years of suffering, on which 
no ray of light shines, save that which hope of a better, 
happier future gives even to the desolate bondman. I 
lived through it, with all its darkness and sorrow. That 
year I received my first whipping. I had failed one day 
to finish my allotted task. It seemed to me that I had 
done my best ; but, somehow, that day, thoughts of home 
came so fresh and tender into my mind, and, along wilh 
these thoughts, a sense of my utter hopeless desolation 
came in and took such a strong hold of my heart, that I 
sank aown a helpless, heartbroken child. My tasks for 
that day were neglected. The next morning my master 
made me strip otf my shirt, and then whipped me with 
the cow-hide till the blood ran trickling down upon the 
floor. My master was very profane, and, with dreadful 
oaths, he assured me that there was only one way for 
me to avoid a repetition of this terrible discipline, and 
that was, to do my tasks every day, sick or well. 

And so this year went by, and my duties Were chang- 
ed, and my lot was made a little easier. The cook, Fanny, 
died, and I was put into her place. I still had to get 
wood and keep the fires in the house, and, after the work 
of cooking, setting the table, clearing away and washing 
the dishes, there was always something to be done for 
my mistress. I got but little time to rest ; but I got 
enough to eat, which I had not done the year before. I 
was by the comfortable fire, a good part of the cold win- 
ter weather, instead of being exposed to the cold and wet, 
without warm clothing, as I had been the year before, 
and my labor was not so hard the second year as it had 
been the first. 

My mistress complained of me at length, that I was 
not so obedient as I ought to be, and so I was taken from 



12 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 



tTie house into the store. My business there was to open 
and sweep out the store in the morning, and get all the 
things ready for the accommodation of customers who 
rnight come in during the day. Then I had to brmg 
out and deliver all heavy articles that might be called for 
during the day, such as salt, large quantities of which 
were sold in the store ; ship stores, grain, &c, &c. I 
had also to hold myself ready to run on any errand my 
master or his clerk, David Cogdell, might wish to send 
me on. While Cogdell remained in the store. I enjoyed 
a gleam of happiness. He was very kind to me, never 
giving me a cross word or a sour look ; always ready to 
show me how to do anything which I did not under- 
stand, and to perform little acts of kindness to me. His 
condescension to me. a poor, despised, homeless and 
idless slave, and {lis tenderness to me, while all oth- 
ers were severe and scornful, sank down a precious bond 
of grateful emotion into my desolate heart. I seemed to 
be lifted up by this noble friend. at times, from the dark 
despair which had settled down upon my life, and to be 
joined once more to a living hope of future improvement 
in my sad lot. Should these simple words ever meet the 
eye of David Cogdell. let them assure him of my fervent 
gratitude and affection for his goodness to me. Let 
them tell him how infinitely precious to my mourning 
heart, then and now, his generous treatment and noble 
kindness of a despised and unhappy boy. And let them 
say to him, " My early and true friend, Tommy, the poor 
slave boy, whom you blessed with unfailing kindness, is 
now grown to be a man, and has run away from the dark 
misery of bondage. And now, when he calls upon his 
Father in Heaven to pour out rich blessings on the few 
friends who have aided him, then David Cogdell is re- 
membered with fond and fervent affection." David was 
one of the (cw who always regard the feelings and hap- 
piness of others as earnestly as his own ; who find their 
own happiness in making the unfortunate happy, by sym- 
pathy and kindness,, and who would suffer any loss rather 
than do injustice to the poor and the defenceless. I often 
wondered how there could be such a difference in the 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 13 

character of two men, as there was between that of my 
master and my friend and benefactor, David Cogdell. 
And I often wished that I might pass into the hands of 
such a man as he was. But his kindness and generosity 
to the poor slaves was very offensive to my master and to 
other slaveholders; and so, at length, Mr. Jones turned 
him off, though he was compelled to acknowledge, at the 
same time, that he was the most trustworthy and valua- 
ble assistant he had ever had in his store. 

After my master dismissed Mr. C, he tried to get 
along with me alone in the store. He kept th 
and waited upon the most genteel of his customers, leav- 
ing me to do the rest of the work. This went on six 
months, when he declared that he could not bear this 
confinement any longer; and so he got a white boy to 
come and enter as clerk, to stay till he was of age. 
James Dixon was a poor boy, about my own age, and 
when he came into the store, could hardly read or write. 
He was accordingly engaged a part of each day with his 
books and writing. I saw him studying, and asked him 
to let me see his book. When he felt in a good humor, 
James was Very kind and obliging. The great trouble 
with him was, that his fits of ili-humor were much m 
frequent than his times of good feeling. It happened, 
however, that he was on good terms with himself when 
I asked him to show me his book, and so he let me take 
it, and look at it, and he answered very kindly mariy 
questions which I asked him about books and schools 
and learning. He told me that he was trying to get 
learning enough to fit him to do a good business for him- 
self after he should get through with Mr Jones. He 
told me that a man who had learning would always find 
friends, and get along very well in the world without 
having to work hard, while those who had no lean;; 
.would have no friends and be compelled to work v 
hard for a poor living all their days. This was all new 
to me, and furnished me topics for wondering thought 
for days afterwards. The result of my meditations was, 
that an intense, burning desire, to learn to read and write 
t«(;k possession of my mind, occupying me wholly m 



14 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

waking hours, and stirring up earnest thoughts in my 
soul even when I slept. The question, which then took 
hold of my whole consciousness was, how can I get a 
book to begin ? James told me that a spelling-book was 
the first one necessary in getting learning. So I contriv- 
ed how I might obtain a spelling-book. At length, after 
much study, I hit upon this plan : I cleaned the boots of 
a Mr. David Smith, Jr., who carried on the printing busi- 
ness, in Wilmington, and edited the Cape Fear Recorder. 
He had always appeared to me to be a very kind man. I 
thought I would get him to aid me in procuring a spell- 
ing-book. So I went one morning, with a beating heart, 
into his office, and asked him to sell me a spelliug-book. 
He looked at me in silence, and with close attention, for 
some time, and asked me what I wanted. I told him I 
wanted to learn to read. He shook his head, and replied, 
" No, Thomas, it would not answer for me to sell you a 
book to learn out of; you must not learn to read ; you 
will only get yourself into trouble if you attempt it ; and 
I advise you to get that foolish notion out of your head 
as quickly as you can." 

David's brother, Peter Smith, kept a book and station- 
ery store under the printing office, and I next applied to 
him for a book, determined to persevere till I obtained 
this coveted treasure. He asked me the same question 
that his brother David had done, and with the same 
searching, suspicious look. By my previous repulse I 
had discovered that I could not get a spelling-book, if I 
told what I wanted to do with it, and so I told a lie, in 
order to get it. I answered, that I wanted it for a white 
boy, naming one that lived at my master's, and that he 
had given me the money to get it with, and had asked 
me to call at the store and buy it. The book was then 
handed out to me, the money taken in return, and I left, 
feeling very rich with my long desired treasure. I got 
out of the store, and, looking round to see that no one 
observed me, I hid my book in my bosom, and hurried on 
to my work, conscious that a new era in my life was 
opeuing upon me through the possession of this book. 
That consciousness at once awakened new thoughts, pur- 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 15 

poses and hopes, a new life, in fact, in my experience. 
My mind was excited. The words spoken by James 
Dixon of the great advantages of learning, made me in- 
tensely anxious to learn. I was a slave ; and I knew (hat 
the whole community was in league to keep the poor 
slave in ignorance and chains. Yet I longed to be free, 
and to be able to move the minds of other men by my 
thoughts. It seemed to me now, that, i( I could learn to 
read and write, this learning might — nay, I really thought 
it would, point out to me the way to freedom, influence, 
and real, secure happiness. So I hurried on to my mas- 
ter's store, and, watching my opportunity to do it safe 
from curious eyes, I hid my book with the utmost care, 
under some liquor barrels in the smoke house. The first 
opportunity I improved to examine my book. I looked 
it over with the most intent eagerness, turned over its 
leaves, and tried to discover what the new and strange 
characters which I saw in its pages might mean. But I 
found it a vain endeavor. I could understand a picture, 
and from it make out a story of immediate interest to my 
mind. But I could not associate any thought or fact 
with these crooked letters with which my primmer was 
filled. So the next day I sought a favorable moment, 
and asked James to tell me where a scholar must begin 
in order to learn to read, and how. He laughed at my 
ignorance, and, taking his spelling-book, showed me the 
alphabet in large and small letters on the same page. I 
asked him the name of the first letter, pointing it out, 
he told me A ; so of the next, and so on through the al- 
phabet. 1 managed to remember A and B, and 1 studied 
and looked out the same letters in many other parts of 
the book. And so I fixed in a tenacious memory the 
names of the two first letters of the alphabet. But I 
found 1 could not get on without help, and so I applied 
to James again to show me the letters and tell me their 
names. This time he suspected me of trying to learn to 
read myself, and he plied me with questions till he ascer- 
tained that 1 was, in good earnest, entering upon an effort 
to get knowledge. At this discovery, he manifested a 
good deal of indignation. He told me, in scorn, that it 



16 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

was not for such as me to try to improve, that / was a 
slave, and that it was not proper for me to learn to read. 
He threatened to tell my master, and at length, by his 
hard language, my anger was fully aroused, and I answer- 
ed taunt with taunt. He called me a poor, miserable 
niggar ; and I called him a poor, ignorant white servant 
boy. While we were engaged in loud and angry words, 
of mutual defiance and scorn, my master came into the 
store. Mr. Jones had never given me a whipping since 
the time I have already described, during my first year 
of toil, want and suffering in his service. But he had 
now caught me in the unpardonable offence of giving 
saucy language to a white boy, and one, too, who was in 
his employ. Without stopping to make any enquiries, 
he took down the c: . and gave me a severe whip- 

ping. He told me never to talk back to a white man on 
pain of flogging; 1 suppose this law or custom is uni- 
versal at the south. And I suppose it is thought neces- 
y to enforce this habit of obsequious submission on the 
part of the colored people to the whites, in order to 
maintain their supremacy over the poor, outraged slaves. 
I will mention, in this connection, as illustrative of 
this cruel custom, an incident which I saw just before I 
ran away from my chains. A little colored boy was car- 
rying along through Wilmington a basket of food. His 
name was Ben, and he belonged to Mrs. Runkin, a widow 
Lys. A little mischievous white boy, just about Ben's 
age and size, met him, and purposely overturned the lit- 
tle fellow's basket, tiered, his load in the mud. 
Ben, in return for this wanton act, called him some hard 
name, when the white boy clinched him to throw him 
down with the scattered fragments upon his basket in the 
mud. Ben resisted and threw down the white boy, prov- 
ing to be the stronger of the two. Tom Myers, a young 
lawyer of Wilmington, saw the contest, and immediately 
rushing out, seized little Ben, and dragged him into the 
store opposite the place of battle. He sent out to a sad- 
dler's shop, procured a cow-hide, and gave the little fel- 
low a tremendous flogging, for the daring crime of re- 
sisting a white boy who had wantonly invaded his rights. 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 17 

Is it any wonder that the spirit of self-respect of the poor, 
ignorant slave is broken down by such treatment of un- 
sparing and persevering cruelty ? 

I was now repulsed by James, so that I cjuld hope for 
no assistance from him in learning to read. But I could 
not go on alone. I must get some one to aid me in start- 
ing, or give up the effort to learn. This I could not 
bear to do. I longed to be able to read, and so I cast 
about me to see what I should do next. I thought of a 
kind boy at the bake-house, near my own age. I thought 
he would help me, and so I went to him, showed my 
book, and asked him to teach me the letters. He told 
their names, and went over the whole alphabet with me 
three times. By this assistance, I learned a few more of 
the letters, so that I could remember them afterwards 
when I sat down alone and tried to call them over. I 
could now pick out and name five or six of the letters in 
any part of the book. I felt then that I was getting 
along, and the consciousness that I was making progress, 
though slow and painful, was joy and hope to my sor- 
rowing heart, such as I had never felt before. I could 
not with safety go to the bake-house, as there I was ex- 
posed to detection bv the sudden entrance of customers 
or idlers. I wanted to get a teacher who would give me 
a little aid each day, and I now set about securing this 
object. As kind Providence would have it, I easily suc- 
ceeded, and on this wise: A little boy, Hiram Bricket, 
ten years old, or about that age, came along by the store 
one day, on his way home from school, while my master 
was gone home to dinner, and James was in the front 
part of the store. I beckoned to Hiram to come round 
to the back door ; and with him 1 made a bargain to meet 
me each day at noon, when I was allowed a little while 
to get my dinner, and to give me instruction in reading. 
I was to give him six cents a week. I met him the next 
day at his father's stable, the place agreed upon for our 
daily meeting; and, going into one of the stables, the 
noble little Hiram gave me a thorough lesson in the al- 
phabet. I learned it nearly all at that time, with what 



18 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

study I could give it by stealth daring the day and night. 
And then again I felt lifted up and happy. 

I was permitted to enjoy these advantages, however, 
but a short time. A black boy, belonging to Hiram's 
father, one day discovered our meeting and what we 
were doing. He told his master of it, and Hiram was 
at once forbidden this employment. I had then got 
along so that I was reading and spelling in words of two 
syllables. My noble little teacher was very patient and 
faithful with me, and my days were passing away in very 
great happiness under the consciousness that I was learn- 
ing to read. I felt at night, as I went to my rest, that I 
was really beginning to be a man, preparing myself for a 
condition in life better and higher and happier than could 
belong to the ignorant slave. And in this blessed feeling 
I found, waking and sleeping, a most precious happiness. 

After I was deprived of my kind little teacher, I plod- 
ded on the best way I could by myself, and in this way 
I got into words of five syllables. I got some little time 
to study by daylight in the morning, before any of my 
master's family had risen. I got a moment's opportunity 
also at noon, and sometimes at night. During the day, 
I was in the back store a good deal, and whenever I 
thought I could have five minutes to myself, I would 
take my book and try to learn a little In reading and 
spelling. If I heard James, or master Jones, or any cus- 
tomer coming in, I would drop mv book among the bar- 
rels, and pretend to be very busy shovelling the salt or 
doing some other work. Several times I came very near 
being detected. My master suspected something, because 
I was so still in the back room, and a number of tunes 
he came very slyly to see what I was about. But at 
such times I was always so fortunate as to hear his tread 
or to see his shadow on the wall in time to hide away my 
book. 

When I had got along to words of five syllables, I went 
to see a free colored friend, Ned Cowen, whom I knew I 
could trust. I told him I was trying to learn to read, and 
asked him to help me a little. He said he did not dare to 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 19 

give me any instruction, but he heard me read a few words, 
and then told me I should learn if I would only persevere 
as nobly as I had done thus far. I told him how I had got 
along, and what difficulties I had met with. He encour- 
aged me, and spoke very kindly of my efforts to improve 
my condition by getting learning. He told me I had got 
along far enough to get another book, in which I could 
learn to write the letters, as well as to read. He told me 
where and how to procure this book. I followed his di- 
rections, and obtained another spelling-book at Worces- 
ter's store, in Wilmington. Jacob showed me a little 
about writing. He set me a copy, first of straight marks. 
I now got me a box, which I could hide under my bed, 
some ink, pens, and a bit of candle. So, when I went to 
bed, I pulled my box out from under my cot, turned it 
up on end, and began my first attempt at writing. I 
worked away till my candle was burned out, and then lay 
down to sleep. Jacob next set me a copy, which he call- 
ed pot-hooks ; then, the letters of the alphabet. These 
letters were also in my new spelling-book, and according 
to Jacob's directions, I set them before me for a copy, and 
wrote on these exercises till I could form all the letters 
and call them by name. One evening I wrote out my 
name in large letters, — THOM/i S JONES. This I car- 
ried to Jacob, in a great excitement of happiness, and he 
warmly commended me for my perseverance and dili- 
gence. 

About this time, I was at the store early one morning, 
and, thinking I was safe from all danger for a few min- 
utes, had seated myself in the back store, on one of the 
barrels, to study in my precious spelling-book. While I 
was absorbed in this happy enterprize, my master came 
in, much earlier than usual, and I did not hear him. He 
came directly into the back store. I saw his shadow on 
the wall, just in lime to throw my book over in among 
the barrels, before he could see what it was, although he 
saw that I had thrown something quickly away. His 
suspicion was aroused. He said that I had been stealing 
something out of the store, and he fiercely ordered me to 

get what I threw away just as he was coming in at the 
3* 



20 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

door. Without a moment's hesitation, I determined to 
save my precious book and my future opportunities to 
learn out of it. I knew if my book was discovered, that 
all was lost, and I felt prepared for any hazard or suffer- 
ing rather than give up my book and my hopes of im- 
provement. So I replied at once to his question, that I 
had not thrown any thing away ; that I had not stolen 
any thing from the store ; that I did not have any thing 
in my hands which I could throw away when he came 
in. My master declared, in a high passion, that I was 
lying, and ordered me to begin and roll away the barrels. 
This I did ; hut managed to keep the book slipping along 
so that he could not see it, as he stood in the door- way. 
He charged me again with stealing and throwing some- 
thing away, and I again denied the charge. In a great 
rage, he then got down his long, heavy cow-hide, and 
ordered me to strip off my jacket and shirt, saying, with 
an oath, " I will make you tell me what it was you had 
when I came in." I stripped myself, and came forward, 
according to his directions, at the same time denying his 
charge with great earnestness of tone, and look, and 
manner. He cut me on my naked back, perhaps thirty 
times, with great severity, making the blood flow freely. 
He then stopped, and asked me what 1 had thrown away 
as he came in. I answered again that I had thrown 
nothing away. He swore terribly; said he was certain I 
was lying, and declared that he would kill me, if I did 
not tell him the truth. He whipped me the second time 
with greater severity, and at greater length than before. 
He then repeated his question, and I answered again as 
before. I was determined to die, if I could possibly bear 
the pain, rather than give up my dear book. He whipped 
me the third time, with the same result as before, and 
then, seizing hold of my shoulders, turned me round, as 
though he would inflict on my quivering flesh still an- 
other scourging ; but he saw the deep gashes he had al- 
ready made, and the blood already flowing under his 
cruel infliction ; and his stern purpose failed him. He 
said, " Why, Tom, I didn't think I had cut you so bad," 
and, saying that, he stopped, and told me to put on my 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 21 

shirt again. I did as he bade me. although my coarse 
shirt touching my raw back put me to a cruel pain. He 
then went out, and I got my book and hid it safely away 
before he came in again. When I went to the house, 
my wounds had dried, and I was in an agony of pain. 
My mistress told the servant girl, Rachel, to help me off 
with my shirt, and to wash my wounds for me, and put 
on to them some sweet oil. The shirt was dried to my 
back, so that it could not be got off without tearing off 
some of the skin with it. The pain, upon doing this, 
was greater even than I had endured from my cruel 
whipping. After Rachel had got my shirt off, my mis- 
tress asked me what I had done for which my master had 
whipped me so severely. I told her he had accused me 
of stealing when I had not, and then had whipped me 
to make me own it. 

While Rachel was putting on the sweet oil, my mas- 
ter came in, and I could hear mistress scolding him for 
giving me such an inhuman beating, when I had done 
nothing. He said in reply, that Tom was an obstinate 
liar, and that was the reason why he had whipped me. 

But I got well of my mangled back, and my book was 
still left. This was my best, my constant friend. With 
great eagerness, I snatched every moment I could get, 
morning, noon, and night, for study. I had begun to 
read ; and, Oh, how I loved to study, and to dwell on the 
thoughts which I gained from my reading. About this 
time, I read a piece in my book about God. It said that 
"God, who sees and knows all our thoughts, loves the 
good and makes them happy ; while he is angry with the 
bad, and will punish them for all their sins." This 
made me feel very unhappy, because I was sure that I 
was not good in the sight of God. I thought about this, 
and couldn't get it out of my mind a single honr. So I 
went to James Galley, a colored man, who exhorted the 
slaves sometimes on Sunday, and told him my trouble, 
asking, " what shall I do ?" He told me about Jesus, 
and told me I must pray the Lord to forgive me and help 
me to be good and happy. So I went home, and went 
down cellar and prayed, but I found no relief, no comfort 



22 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

for my unhappy mind. I felt so bad, that I could not 
even study my book. My master saw that I looked very 
unhappy, and he asked me what ailed me. I did not 
dare now to tell a lie. for I wanted to be good, that I 
might be happy. So I told master jnst how it was with 
me ; and then he swore terribly at me, and said he would 
whip me if I did not give over praying. He said there 
was no heaven and no hell, and that Christians were all 
hypocrites, and that there was nothing after this life, and 
that he would not permit me to go moping round, pray- 
ing and going to the meetings. I told him I could not 
help praying ; and then he cursed me in a great passion, 
and declared that he would whip me if he knew of my 
going on any more in that foolish way. The next night 
I was to a meeting, which was led by Jack Cammon, 
a free colored man, and a class leader in the Methodist 
Church. I was so much overcome by my feelings, that 
I staid very late. They prayed for me, but I did not yet 
find any relief; I was still very unhappy. The next 
morning, my master came in, and asked me if I went the 
night before to the meeting. I told him the truth. He said, 
" didn't I tell you I would whip you if you went nigh those 
meetings.and did'nt I tell you to stop this foolish praying." 
I told him he did, and if he would, why, he might whip 
me, but still I could not stop praying, because I wanted 
to be good, that I might be happy and go to heaven. 
This reply made my master very angry. With many 
bitter oaths, he said he had promised me a whipping, and 
now he should be as good as his word. And so he was. 
He whipped me, and then forbade, with bitter threaten- 
ings, my praying any more, and especially my going 
again to meeting. This was Friday morning. I conti- 
nued to pray for comfort and peace. The ne\t Sunday 
I went to meeting. The minister preached a sermon on 
being born again, from the words of Jesus to Nicodemus. 
All this only deepened my trouble of mind. I returned 
home very unhappy. Collins, a free man of color, was 
at the meeting, and told my master that I was there. So, 
on Monday morning my master whipped me again, and 
once moie forbade my going to meetings and praying. 
The next Sunday there was a class meeting, led by 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 23 

Binney Penuison, a colored free man. I asked my mas- 
ter, towards night, if I might go out. I told him I did 
not feel well. I wanted to go to the class meeting. 
Without asking ms where I was going, he said I might 
go. I went to the class. I staid very late, and was so 
overcome by my feelings, that I could not go home 
that night. So they carried me to Joseph Jones's cabin, 
a slave of Mr. Jones. Joseph talked and prayed with 
me nearly all night. In the morning I went home as 
soon as it was light, and, for fear of master, I asked 
Nancy, one of the slaves, to go up into mistress's mom 
and get the store key for me, that I might go and open 
the store. My master told her to go back and tell me to 
come up. I obeyed with many fears. My master asked 
me where I had been the night before. I told him the 
whole truth. He cursed me again, and said he should 
whip me for my obstinate disobedience ; and he declared 
that he would kill me if I did not promise to obey hi in. 
He refused to listen to my mistress, who was a professor, 
and who tried to intercede for me. And, just as soon as 
he had finished threatening me with what he would do, 
he ordered me to take the key and go and open the store. 
When he came into the store that morning, two of his 
neighbors, Julius Dumbiven, and McCauslin, came in too. 
He called me up, and asked me again where I staid last 
night. I told him with his boy, Joseph. He said he 
knew that was a lie; and he immediately sent off for 
Joseph to confirm his suspicions. He ordered me to 
strip oft my clothes, and, as I did so, he took down the 
cow-hide, heavy and stiff with blood which he had be- 
fore drawn from my body with that cruel weapon, and 
which was congealed upon it. Dumbiven professed to 
be a Christian, and he now came forward, and earnestly 
interceded for mc, but to no purpose, and then he left. 
McCauslin a?ked my master, if he did not know, that a 
slave was worth more money after he became pious than 
he was before. And why then, he said, should you for- 
bid Tom going to meetings and praying ? He replied, 
that religion was all a damned mockery, and he was not 
going to have any of his slaves praying and whining 



24 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

round about their souls. McCauslin then left. Joseph came 
and told the same story about the night before that J had 
done ; and then he began to beg master not to whip me. 
He cursed him and drove him off. He then whipped, 
me with great severity, inflicting terrible pain at every 
blow upon my quivering body, which was still very ten- 
der from recent lacerations. My suffering was so great, 
that it seemed to me I should die. He paused at length, 
and asked me would I mind him and stop praying. I 
told him I could not promise him not to pray any more, 
for I felt that I must and should pray as long as I lived. 
" Well, then. Tom," he said, "I swear that I will whip 
you to death." I told him I could not help myself, if 
he was determined to kill me, but that I must pray while 
I lived. He then began to whip me the second time, 
but soon stopped, threw down the bloody cow-hide, and 
told me to go wash myself in the river, just back of the 
store, and then dress myself, and if I was determined to 
be a fool, why, I must be one. My mistress now inter- 
ceded earnestly for me with my cruel master. The next 
Sabbath was love feast, and I felt very anxious to join in 
that feast. This I could not do without a paper from my 
master, and so 1 asked mistress to help me. She advised 
me to be patient, and said she would help me all she 
could. Master refused to give any paper, and so I could 
not join in the love feast the next day. 

On the next Friday evening, I went to the prayer 
meeting. Jack Caramon was there, and opened the 
meeting with prayer. Then Binney Pennison gave out 
the sweet hymn, which begins in these words : » 

" Come yc sinners poor and needr, 
Weak and wounded, sick and sore." 

I felt that it all applied most sweetly to my condition, 
and I said in my heart, / will come now to Jesus, and 
trust in him. So when those who felt anxious were re- 
quested to come forward and kneel within the altar for 
prayer, / came and knelt down. While Jacob Cammon 
was praying for me, and for those who knelt by my side, 
my burden of sorrow, which had so long weighed me 
down, was removed. I felt the glory of God's Jove 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 25 

warming my heart, and making me very happy. I shout- 
ed aloud for joy, and tried to tell all my poor slave broth- 
ers and sisters, who were in the house, what a dear Savior 
I had found, and how happy I felt in his precious love. 
Binney Peunison asked me if I could forgive my mas- 
ter. I told him I could, and did, and that I could pray 
God to forgive him, too, and make him a good man. He 
asked me if I could tell my master of the change in my 
feelings. I told him I should tell him in the morning. 
"And what," he asked, "will you do if he whips you 
still for praying and going to meeting ?" I said I will 
ask Jesus to help me to bear the pain, and to forgive my 
master for being so wicked. He then said, "Well, then, 
Brother Jones, I believe that you are a Christian." 

A good many of us went from the meeting to a broth- 
er's cabin, where we began to express our joy in happy 
songs. The palace of General Dudley was only a little 
way off, and he soon sent over a slave with orders to stop 
our noise, or he would send the patrolers upon us. We 
then stopped our singing, and spent the remainder of the 
night in talking, rejoicing, and praying. It was a night 
of very great happiness to me. The contrast between 
my feelings then, and for many weeks previous, was very 
great. Now all was bright and joyous in my relations 
towards my precious S~vior, I felt certain that Jesus 
was my Savior, and, in this blessed assurance, a flood of 
glory and joy filled my happy soul. But this sweet night 
passed away, and, as the morning came, I felt that I must 
go home, and bear the slave's heavy cross. I went, and 
told my mistress the blessed change in my feelings. She 
promised me what aid she could give me with my mas- 
ter, and enjoined upon me to be patient and very faithful 
to his interest, and, in this way, I should at length wear 
out his opposition to my praying and going to meeting. 

I went down to the store in a very happy state of 
miud. I told James my feelings. He called me a fool, 
and said master would be sure to whip me. I told him I 
hoped I should be able to bear it, and to forgive master 
for his cruelty to me. Master came down, talked with 
me a while, and told me that he should whip me because 



26 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

I had disobeyed him in staying out all night. He had 
told me he should whip me if ever I did so, and he 
should make every promise good. So I began to take off 
my clothes. He called me a crazy fool, and told me to 
keep my clothes on, till he told me to take them off. He 
whipped me over my jacket ; but I enjoyed so much 
peace of mind, that 1 scarcely felt the cow-hide. This 
was the last whipping that Mr. Jones inflicted upon me. 

I was then nearly eighteen years old. I waited and 
begged for a paper to join the Church six months before 
I could get it. But all this time I was cheerful, as far as 
a slave can be, and very earnest to do all I could for my 
master and mistress. I was resolved to convince them 
that I was happier and better for being a Christian; and 
ray master at last acknowledged that he could not find 
any fault with my conduct, and that it was impossible to 
find a more faithful slave than I was to him. And so, at 
last, he gave me a paper to Ben English, the leader of the 
colored members, and I joined the love feast, and was 
taken into the Church on trial for six months I was put 
into Billy Cochran's class. At the expiration of six 
months, I was received into the Church in full fellowship, 
Quaker Davis' class. I remained there three years. My 
master was much kinder after this time than he had ever 
been before ; and I was allowed some more time to my- 
self than I had been before. I pursued my studies as 
far as I could, but I soon found the utter impossibility of 
carrying on my studies as I wished to do. I was a slave, 
and all avenues to real improvement I found guarded 
with jealous care and cruel tenacity against the despised 
and desolated bondman. 

I still felt a longing desire to improve, to be free, but 
the conviction was getting hold of my soul, that I was 
only struggling in vain when seeking to elevate myself 
into a manly and happy position. And now my mind 
was fast sinking into despair. I could read and write, 
and often enjoyed much happiness in poring over the very 
few books I could obtain ; and especially, at times, I 
found great peace m reading my old, worn Testament. 
But I wanted now that hope which had filled my mind 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 27 

with such joy when I first began to learn to read. I 
found much happiness in prayer. But here, also, my 
mind labored in sadness and darkness much of the time. 
I read in my Testament that Jesus came from the bright 
heaven of his glory into this selfish and cruel world to 
seek and to save the lost. I read and pondered with 
deep earnestness on the blessed rule of heavenly love 
which Jesus declared to be the whole ot man's duty to 
his fellow : Lach to treat his brother as he would be 
treated. I thought of the command given to the follow- 
ers of the loving Savior, to teach all nations to obey the 
blessed precepts of the Gospel. I considered that eighteen 
hundred years had gone by since Jesus died for man's re- 
demption and salvation, and, going up to heaven, had left 
His work of mercy to be finished by His children, and 
then I thought that I, and thousands of my brothers and 
sisters, loving the Lord and pressing on to a blessed and 
endless home in His presence, were slaves, — branded, 
whipped, chained ; deeply, hopelessly aegraded, — thus 
degraded and outraged, too, in a land of Bibles and Sab- 
baths and Churches, and by professed followers of the 
Lord of Love. And often such thoughts were too much 
for me. In an agony of despair, I have at times given 
up prayer and hope together, believing that my master's 
words were true, that "religion is a cursed mockery, and 
the Bible a lie.". May God forgive me for doubting, at 
such timr-s, His justice and love. There was but one 
thing that saved me from going at once and fully into 
dark infidelity, when such agony assailed my bleed- 
ing heart. The memory of seasons of unspeakable 
joy in prayer, when Love and Faith were strong in my 
heart. The sweet remembrance of these dear hours 
would draw me back to Jesus and to peace in his mercy. 
Oh, that all true Christians knew just how the slave 
feels in view of the religion of this country, by whose 
sanction men and women are bound, branded, bought and 
sold! 

About this time, my master was taken sick. On Sun- 
day, he was prostrated by mortal pains ; and, on Friday 
the same week, he died. He left fifteen slaves. I was 



28 NARHATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

purchased by Owen Holmes for $435,00. I was then in 
my twenty-third year. I had just passed through the 
darkest season of despairing agony that I had yet known. 
This came upon me in consequence of the visit, Which I 
have already described, to my dear old desolate home. 
About this time, too, I entered on a new and distinct 
period of life, which I will unfold in another chapter. I 
will close this period of sorrow and shame with a few 
lines of touching interest to my mind. 

Who shall avenge the slave ? I stood and cried ; 

The earth, the earth, the echoing sea replied. 

I turned me to the ocean, but each wave 

Declined to be the avenger of the slave. 

Who shall avenge the slave ? my species cried ; 

The winds, the flood, the lightnings of the sky. 

I turned to these, from them one echo ran, 

The riykt avenger of the slave is man. 

Man was my fellow ; in his sight I stood, 

Wept and besought him by the voice of blood. 

Sternly he looked, as proud on earth he trod, 

Then said, the aVenger of the slave is God. 

I looked in prayer towards Heaven, a while 'twas still, 

And then, methought, God's voice replied, I will. 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 29 



CHAPTER SECOND. 

I enter now upon a new development of wrongs and 
woes which I, as a slave, was called to undergo. I must 
go back son c two or three years from the time when my 
master died, and I was sold to Owen Holmes. The bit- 
terness of persecution which master Jones had kept up 
against me so long, because I would try to serve the 
Lord, had passed away. I was permitted to pray and go 
to our meetings without molestation. My master laid 
aside his terrible severity towards me. By his treatment 
of me afterwards, he seemed to feel that he had done me 
wrong in scourging me as he had done, because I could 
not obey his wicked command, to stop praying and keep 
away from the meetings. For, after the time of my 
joining the Church, he allowed me to go to all the meet- 
ings, and granted to me many other little favors, which I 
had never before received from him. About this time, I 
began to feel very lonely. I wanted a friend to whom I 
could tell my story of sorrows, of unsatisfied longing, of 
new and fondly cherished plans. I wanted a companion 
whom I could love with all my warm affections, who 
should love me in return with a true and fervent heart, of 
whom J might think when toiling for a selfish, unfeeling 
master, who should dwell fondly on my memory when 
we were separated during the severe labors of the day, 
and with whom I might enjoy the blessed happiness of 
social endearments after the work of each day was over. 
My heart yearned to have a home, if it w;is only the 
wretched home of the unprotected slave, to have a wife 
to love me and to love. It seems to me that no one can 
have such fondness of love, and such intensity of desire 
for home and home affections, as the poor slave. Despis- 
ed and trampled upon by a cruel race unfeeling men, the 
bondman must die in the prime of his wretched life, if 
he finds no refuge in a dear home, where love and sym- 
pathy shall meet him from hearts made sacred to him by 
his own irrepressible affection and tenderness for them. 



30 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

And so I sought to love and to win a true heart in return. 
I did t,his, too, with a full knowledge of the desperate 
agony that the slave husband and father is exposed to. 
Had I not seen this in the anguish of my own parents ? 
Yea, I saw it in every public auction, where men and 
women and children were brought upon the block, exam- 
ined, and bought. I saw it on such occasions, in the 
hopeless agony depicted on the countenance of husband 
and wife, there separated to meet no more in this cruel 
world ; and in the screams of wild despair and useless 
entreaty which the mother, then depiived of her darling 
child, sent forth. I heard the doom which stares every 
slave parent in the face each waking and sleeping hour of 
an unhappy life. And yet I sought to become a husband 
and a father, because I felt that I could live no longer 
unloved and unloving. I was married to Lucilla Smith, 
the slave oi Mrs. Moore. We called it and v e considered 
it a true marriage, although we knew well that marriage 
was nut permitted to the slaves, as a sacred right of the 
loving heart. Luolla was seventeen years old when we 
were married. I loved her with all my heart, and she 
gave me a return for my affection, with which I was con- 
tented. Oh, God of Love, thou knowest what happy 
hours we have passed in each other's society in our poor 
cabin. When we knelt in prayer, we never forgot to ask 
God to save us from the misery of cruel separation, while 
life and love were our portion. Oh, how we have talked 
of this dreaded fate, and wept in mingling sorrow, as we 
thought of our desolation, if we should be parted and 
doomed to live on weary years away from each other's 
dear presence. We had three dear little babes. Our 
fondness for our precious children increased the current 
feeling of love for each other, which filled our hearts. 
They were bright, precious things, those little babes ; at 
least, so they seemed to us. Lucilla and I were never 
tired of planning to improve their condition, as far as 
might be done for slaves. We prayed with new ferven- 
cy to our Father in heaven to protect our precious babes. 
Lucilla was very proud of me, because I could read and 
write, and she often spoke o*" my teaching our dear little 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLATE. 31 

ones, and then she would say, with tears, " Who knows, 
Thomas, but they may yet be free and happy ?" Lucilla 
was a valuable slave to her mistress She was a seams- 
tress, and very expert at her needle. I had a constant 
dread that Mrs Moore, her mistress, would be in want of 
money, and sell my dear wife. We constantly dreaded 
a final separation. Our affection for each other was very 
strong, and this made us always apprehensive of a cruel 
parting. These fears were well founded, as our sorrow- 
ing hearts too soon learned. A few years of very pine 
and constant happiness, for slaves, passed away, and we 
were parted to meet but once again till we meet in Eter- 
nity. Mrs. Moore left Wilmington, and moved to New- 
burn. She carried with her my beloved Lucilla, and my 
three children, Annie, four years old ; Lizzie, two and a 
half years ; and our sweet little babe, Charlie. She re- 
mained there eighteen months. And, Oh, how lonely 
and dreary and desponding were those months of lonely 
life to my crushed heart ! My dear wife and my pre- 
cious children were seventy-four miles distant from me, 
carried away from me in utter scorn of my beseeching 
words. I was tempted to put an end to my wretched life. 
I thought of my dear family by day and by night. A 
deep despair was iu my heart, such as no one is called to 
bear in such cruel, crushing power as the poor slave, sev- 
ered forever from the objects of his love, by the capacity 
of his brother. But that dark time of despair passed 
away, and I saw once more my wife and children. Mrs. 
Moore left Newburn for Tusculoosa, Ala. and, passing 
through Wilmington, on her journey, she spent one night 
in her old home. That night I passed with my wife and 
children. Lucilla had pined away under the agony of 
our separation, even more than I had done. That night 
she wept on my bosom, and we mingled bitter tears to- 
gether. Our dear children were baptized in the tears of 
agony that were wrung from our breaking hearts. The 
just God remember that night in the last award that we 
and our oppressors are to receive. 

The next morning Mrs. Moore embarked on board the 
packet. I followed my wile and children to the boat, 



32 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

and parted from them without a word of farewell. Our 
sobs and tears were our only adieu. Our hearts were too 
full of anguish for any other expression of our hopeless 
woe. I have never seen that dear family since, nor have 
I heard from them since I parted from them there. God 
only knows the bitterness of my agony, experienced in 
the separation of my wife and children from me. The 
memory of that great woe will find a fresh impression 
on my heart while that heart shall beat. How will the 
gifted and the great meet the charge against them at the 
great day, as the Judge shall say to them, in stern dis- 
pleasure, " I was sick, destitute, imprisoned, helpless, and 
ye ministered not unto me, for when ye slighted and des- 
pised these wretched, pleading slaves, ; ye did these acts 
of scorn against me. Depart, ye workers of iniquity." 
After my purchase by Owen Holmes, 1 hired my time 
at $ lot). 00 per year, paid monthly. I rented a house of 
Ur. E. J. Derset. I worked, loading and unloading vessels 
that came into Wilmington, and could earn from one 
dollar to a dollar and a quarter a day. While my wife 
and family were spared to bless my home by their pres- 
ence and love, I was comparatively happy. But I found 
then that the agony of the terrible thought, " I am a 
slave, my wife is a slave, my precious children are 
slaves," grew bitter and insupportable, just as the happi- 
ness in the society of my beloved home became more 
distinct and abounding. And this one cup of bitterness 
was ever at my lips. Hearts of kind sympathy and ten- 
der pity, did I not drain that cup of bitter woe to its very 
dregs, when my family were carried off into retumless 
exile, and I was left a heartbroken lonely man ? Can 
you be still inactive while thousands are drinking that 
potion of despair every year in this land of schools and 
Bibles ? After I parted from my family, I continued to 
toil on, but not as I had done before My home was 
darker than the holds of ships in which I worked. Its 
light, the bright, joyous light of love and sympathy and 
mutual endearments, was quenched. Ah me, how dark 
it left my poor heart. It was colder than the winter 
wind and frost ; the warm sunshine was snatched away, 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 33 

and my poor heart froze in its bitter cold. Its gloom 
was deeper than prison or cave could make it. Was not 
there the deserted chairs and beds, once occupied by the 
objects of a husband's and a father's deep love ? Desert- 
ed ! How, and why ? The answer, is it not the unqual- 
ified condemnation of the government and religion of 
this land ? I could not go into my cold, dark, cheerless 
house ; the sight of its deserted room was despair to my 
soul. So I worked on, taking jobs whenever I could get 
them, and working often till nearly morning, and never 
going to my home for rest till I could toil no more. And 
so I passed four years, and I began to feel that I could 
not live in utter loneliness any longer. My heart was 
still and always yearning for affection and sympathy and 
loving communion. My wife was torn from me. I had 
ceased to hope for another meeting with her in this 
world of oppression and suffering ; so I sat down and 
wrote to Lucilla. that I could live alone no longer, and 
saying to her the sad farewell, which we could not say 
when we were sundered. I asked Mary R. Moore to 
come and cheer me in my desolate home. She became 
my wife, and, thank God, she has been rescued from 
slavery by the blessing of God and my efforts to save 
her. She is now my wife, and she is with me to-day, 
and till death parts us, secure from the iron hand of sla- 
very. Three of our dear children are with us, too, in 
the old Commonwealth. I cannot say they are in a free 
land ; for, even here, in the city of Boston, where, I am 
told, is kept the old cradle of liberty, my precious chil- 
dren are excluded from the public schools, because their 
skin is black. Still, Boston is better than Wilmington, 
inasmuch as the rulers of this place permit me to send 
my children to any school at all. After my second mar- 
riage, I hired my wife of her master, and paid for her 
time $48,00 a year, for three years. We had one child 
while Mary was a slave. That child is still in chains. 
The fourth year, by the aid of a white friend, I purchas- 
ed my wife for $350.00. We had before determined to 
try to accomplish this enterprise, in order that our dear 
babes might be free. Besides, I felt that I could not 
3 



34 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

bear another cruel separation from wife and children. 
Yet, the dread of it was strong and unceasing upon my 
mind. So we made a box, and, through a hole in the 
top, we put in every piece of money, from five cents up 
to a dollar, that we could save from our hard earnings. 
This object nerved us for unceasing toil, for twenty 
months, or about that time. What hopes and fears beset 
us as those months wore away. I have been compelled 
to hide that box in a hole, dug for it, when I knew the 
patrollers were coming to search my cabin. For well 
did I know, if they found my box, I should be penniless 
again. How often have I started and turned in sudden 
and terrible alarm, as I have dropped a piece of money 
into my box, and heard its loud ring upon the coin be- 
low, lest some prowling enemy should hear it, and steal 
from me my hoarded treasure. And how otten have I 
started up in my sleep, as the storm has beat aloud upon 
my humble home, with the cry of unspeakable agony in 
my heart, — " Then, O God, they have taken my box, 
and my wife and babes are still slaves." When my box 
was broken open, I still lacked a little of the $350,00 
necessary to buy my wife. The kind friend, who had 
promised to aid me in my contemplated purchase, made 
up the deficiency, and I became the owner of my wife. 
We had three children at this time, and O, how my 
crushed heart was uplifted in its pride and joy, as I took 
them in my arms and thought that they were not slaves. 
These three children are with me and with their mother 
now, where the slave's chains and whips are heard no 
more. Oh, how sweet is freedom to man ! But doubly 
dear is the consciousness to the father's heart, made bit- 
ter in its incurable woe by the degradation of slavery, 
that his dear child is never to be a slave ! Would to 
God the fathers of this nation were all possessed of a 
true consciousness of these things; for then, surely, they 
would will and secure the immediate ending of human 
bondage. 

After I had purchased my wife, we still worked hard, 
and saved our earnings with great care, in order to get 
some property in hand for future use. As I saved my 



NARRATIVE OP A REFUGEE SLAVE. 35 

earnings, I got a white man whom I thought my friend, 
(his name I choose to keep back for the present,) to«lay 
it out for me. In this way I became the owner of the 
cabin in which I lived, and two other small houses, all 
of which were held in the name of this supposed friend. 
He held them in his own name for me. A slave cannot 
hold property. I will here remark, that I was deceived 
by this man ; and, when I ran away from my chains, 
after sending on my family, I was compelled to sacrifice 
the whole of this property. I left it, because I could not 
get my own, in his hands, and came off entirely desti- 
tute. Thank God, / got away, and now I have no tears 
to shed over the loss of my houses. 

During the winter of 18-1S-9, a kind lady came and 
told me that some white men were plotting to enslave 
my wife and children again. She advised me to get 
them off to the free States as quickly and secretly as 
possible. A lawyer of Wilmington told me they were 
not safe, unless emancipated by a special act of the Le- 
gislature. He was a member of the House, and tried to 
get through the House a bill for their emancipation. 
But there was so much ill feeling upon this question, 
that he could not do it. The Legislature threw it aside 
at once. He then advised me to get them off to the 
free States as my only course to save them. This I de- 
termined to do, if possible. I kept a good look out for a 
vessel. I found one, and made a bargain with the cap- 
tain to take on board for New York, a free colored woman 
and her three children. A kind friend gave me a certifi- 
cate of their freedom to the captain, and I brought my 
wife and children on board at night, paid the captain 
$25.00 for their fare, and staid on the wharf in torturing 
fear till about sunrise, when I saw the vessel under way. 
It was soon out of sight. When I went home, I threw 
myself on my knees, and poured out my soul to God, to 
carry that ship and its precious cargo safely and swiftly 
on to a free haven, and to guard and guide me soon to a 
free home with my beloved family. And so I kept on, 
praying, working, hoping, pining, for nearly three weeks, 
when I received the happy news that my dear ones were 



36 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

safe with a true-hearted friend in Brooklyn. I had noti- 
fied him before hand that they were coming; and now 
the good and glorious news came that they were safe 
with Robert H. Cousins, where the slaveholder could 
trouble them no more. I had arranged with Mary when 
she left, to come on myself as soon as I could get the 
motley for my houses and land. She was to write to me 
as though she had gone to New York on a visit, intend- 
ing to come back, and she was to speak of New York as 
if she did not like it at all. I knew my master would 
be very angry when he heard she had gone unbeknown 
to him, and I thought he would demand to see the let- 
ters my wife should get friends in New York to write to 
me for her ; and so I made ready to meet and quiet his 
suspicions, while I was plotting my own escape. For 
more than three months I tried to get the money, or part 
of it, for my houses ; but was put off and deceived till 
I found I must come off without a cent of the property 
I had tried so hard to accumulate. I was required to 
call and see my master every day, because he suspected 
me of a design to run away. He was taken suddenly 
sick ; and then I started for my wife and children. Be- 
fore I give a narrative of my escape, I will give copies 
of the letters which passed between me and my wife 
while I remained in the land of bondage after her escape. 
These letters, with their post marks, are all in my pos- 
session, and can be examined by any one who may doubt 
their authenticity, or the fidelity with which they are 
here given. The kind friend, who has written this nar- 
rative for me, has corrected some mistakes in the con- 
struction and spelling of these letters ; and some he has 
left uncorrected. He has also omitted some repetitions ; 
otherwise, they are given as exact copies. I wrote my 
own letters ; my wife wrote by the help of a friend. I 
give all my letters, and the two from my wife, which I 
was able to keep. The following was written soon after 
my wife started for New York. 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 37 



Wilmington, N. C, July 11, 1849. 

My dear Wife — I write these few lines to inform you 
that I am well, and hope they may find you and the 
children well, and all the friends. My dear wife, I long 
to see you and the children one time more in this world. 
I hope to see you all soon. Don't get out of heart, for I 
will come as soon as I can. I hope it will not be long, 
for God will be my helper, and I feel he wid help me. 
My dear wife, you must pray for me, that God may help 
me. Tell John he must be a good boy till I see him. I 
must not forget sister Chavis. She must pray for me, 
that God may help me come out. Tell her I say that 
she must be faithful to God ; and I hope, dear wife, you 
will be faithful to God. Tell sister Chavis that Henry 
will be out soon, and he wants her to keep a good heart 
and he will send money out to her. Tell her he says she 
must write to him as soon as she can, for he will not stay 
long behind her. As soon as he gets his money he will 
come. I hope to see you all very soon. Tell my Broth- 
ering to pray for me, that God may help me to get there 
safe and make my way clear before me. Help me by 
your prayers, that God may be with me. Tell Brother 
Robert H. Cousins that he must pray for me ; for I long 
to meet him one time more in this world. Sister Tucker 
and husband give thare love to you and Sister Clavis, and 
say that you must pray for them. Dear wife, you may 
look for me soon. But what way I will come, I can't 
tell you now. You may look for me in three weeks from 
now. You must try and do the best you can till I come. 
You know how it is with me, and how I have to come. 
Tell the Church to pray for me, for I hope to reach that 
land if I live, and 1 want tthe prayers of all God's chil- 
dren. I can't say any more at this time ; but, I remain 
your dear husband, till death, 

THOMAS JONES. 

P. S. — Dear wife, I want you to make out that you 
don't like New York. When you write to me you must 
say so. Do mind how you write. 



38 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

The next letter was written before I had received any 
certain intelligence of my wife's arrival at New York. 

Wilmington, N. C, July 17, 1849. 

My dear Wife — I write to tell you I am well, and I 
hope these few lines will find you and the children well. 
I long to see you all one time more. Do pray for me, 
that God may help me to get to you all. Do ask sister 
to pray the Lord to help me. I will trust in God, for I 
know that He is my friend, and He will help me. My 
dear wife, tell my children I say they must be good till 
I see them once more. Do give my love to Brother R. 
H. Cousins, and tell him I hope to meet him in two or 
three weeks from now. Then I can tell him all I want 
to say to him. Tell Sister Chavis I say, do not come 
back to this place till I come. Her husband say he want 
her to stay, and he will come on soon. My dear wife, I 
want you to do the best you can till I come. I will 
come as soon as I can. You and sister Chavis must live 
together, for you went together, and you must try to stay 
together. Do give my love to sister Johnson and hus- 
band, and all of my friends. Ask them all to pray for 
me, that God may be with me in all that I do to meet 
you all one time more. My dear wife, you know how I 
told you, you must mind how you write your letters. 
You mnst not forget to write as if you did not like New 
York, and that you will come home soon. You know 
what I told you to do, and now you must not forget it, 
when you write. I will send you some money in my 
next letter. I have not sold my houses yet, and if I can't 
sell, I will leave all, and come to you and the children. 
I will trust in that God who can help the poor. My dear, 
don't forget what I told you to do when you write. You 
know how I have to do. Be careful how you write. I 
hope to be with you soon, by the help of God. But, 
above all things, ask all to pray for me, that God may 
open the way for me to come safe. I hope to be with 
you soon by the help of the Lord. Tell them if I never 
come, to go on, and may God help them to go forth to 
glorious war. Tell them to see on the mountain top the 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 39 

standard of God. Tell them to follow their Captain, and 
be led to certain victory. Tell them I can bnt sing with 
my latest breath happy, if I may to the last speak His 
name, preach Him to all, and cry, in death, " Behold the 
Lamb." Go on, my dear wife, and trust in God tor all 
things. I remain your husband, 

THOMAS JONES. 

Before I wrote the next, I received the happy news, 
that my wife was safe with Brother Cousins. 

Wilmington, N. C, July 25, 1849. 

My dear Wife — Do tell my children they must be 
good children till I come to them ; and yon, my dear 
wife, must do the best you can, for I don't know how I 
will come, but I will do the best I can for you. I hope 
God will help me, for, if He don't, I don't know what I 
will do. My dear wife, I have not sold my houses yet, 
hut I will do the best I can. If I had money, I would 
leave all I have and come, for I know the Lord will help 
me. It is for want of money I can't come. But I hope, 
my dear wife, the Lord will help me out. Tell Brother 
Cousins I hope he and all the people of God will pray for 
me ; and you, my dear wife, must not forget to pray for 
me. Ask Brother Cousins, if he pleases to put my chil- 
dren to some school. Dear wife, you know the white 
people will read your letters to me ; do mind how you 
write. No one but God knows my heart. Do pray for 
me. I remain your husband till death. 

THOMAS JONES. 

P. S. — My dear wife, I received your letter the 24th 
of July, and was truly glad to hear you arrived safe in 
New York. Please tell Brother Cousins I will write to 
him in a few days, and I will send you some money. My 
dear wife, do mind how you write. You must not forget 
I a> ;.• in a slave place, and I can't buy myself for the 
money. You know how it is, and you must tell Brother 
Cousins. I have not sold yet, but if I can't sell, I will 
come somehow, by the help of the Lord. John Homes 
is still in my way. I want you to write a letter and say 



40 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

in it, that you will be home in two months, so I can let 
them read it, for they think I will run away and come to 
you. So do mind how you write, for the Lord's sake. 

THOMAS JONES. 

The next letter was written to Sister Chavis, who 
went on to New York, but got disheartened, and came 
back to Wilmington. 

Wilmington, N. C, August 4, 1849. 

My dear Sister — I hope to see you in a few days, and 
all my friends. I hope, dear sister, you will not forget 
to pray for me, for, by the help of God, I will see you in 
a few days. Your husband is coming on soon, but J will 
be on before him. I would have been on before now, 
but I could not get my money. ■ I have had a hard time 
to get money to leave with. I am sorry to hear that you 
think we can't get a living where you are. My dear sis- 
ter, a smart man can get a living anywhere in the world 
if he try. Don't think we can't live out there, for I 
know God will help us. You know God has promised 
a living to all His children. Don't forget that God is 
ever present, for we must trust Him till death. Don't 
get out of heart, for I know we can live out there, if any 
one can. You may look for me before your husbabd. 
Don't leave New York before I come, for you know what 
I told you before you left Wilmington. If you come 
back to this place before I get off, it will make it bad for 
me. You know what the white people here are. Please 
don't come yet. I am, your brother in the Lord, till 
death, THOMAS JONES. 

P. S. — I sent the letter you wrote to Mr. John Ranks. 
I thought you will wait for a letter from your husband, 
and I hope you will be better satisfied in your mind that 
we can get a living out there. Your husband has wrote 
to you last week ; I hope you have got the letter. Oh, 
that you may trust in God every day, for I know God is 
your friend, and you must pray night and day, that He 
may help you. I long to see you one time more in this 
world. We went into the new Church on the 9th day 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 41 

of this month. God was with us on that day, and we 
had a good time. Though my time with them is short, 
I hope God will be with them, and may we all meet in 
the kingdom at last. So pray for me, my dear sister. 
Aunt Narvey has been dead nearly four weeks. She 
died happy in the Lord, and is gone home to rest. I hope 
we may meet in the kingdom at last. Good night, my 
dear sister. THOMAS JONES. 

The next letter is to my wife and Brother Cousins, 
and explains itself. 

Wilmington, August 7, 1849. 

My dear Wife — I long to see you once more in this 
world, and I hope it will not be very long before I am 
with you. I am trying, my dear wife, to do all I can to 
get to you. But I hope you will not forget to mind how 
you write to me. If you should not mind how you 
write, you will do me great harm. You know I told 
you to write that you would be home in two months, or 
three months at the longest. But in two months I told 
them you would be home. Now, my dear, you must 
mind, and don't forget, for you know how it is here ; a 
man can't say that his soul is his own, that is, a colored 
man. So do mind how you write to me. Tell Sister 
Chavis I say she must write to me ; and I hope soon I 
will write my last letter. I will let you know in my 
next letter how all things are with me. Dear wife, don't 
get out of heart, for God is my friend. The will of 
God is my sure defence, nor earth nor hell can pluck me 
thence, for God hath spoken the word. My dear wife, 
in reply to your kind letter, received the 2d day of this 
month, I have wrote these few lines I hope you will 
pray for me, your dear husband, 

THOMAS JONES. 

P. S. — To Brother Cousins — My dear Brother — I 
hope you will not think hard of me for not writing to 
you, for you know how it is with me out here. God 
knows that I would write to you at any time, if it was 
not for some things. You know the white people don't 
like for us to write to New York. Now, let me ask your 



42 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

prayers, and the prayers of all the Church, and God's 
children, that I may see you all soon. I know that God 
is my friend, for He doth my burden bear. Though I 
am but dust and ashes, I bless God, and often feel the 
power of God. Oh, my brother, pray for me, who loves 
you all, for I have found of late much comfort in the 
word of God's love. When I come where you are, in 
the work of the Lord, and I hope the time will soon 
come, when the Gospel will be preached to the whole 
world of mankind. Then go on, dear brother, and do 
all you can for the Lord, i hope the Lord will help me 
to get where you are at work soon. JNothing more, but 
I remain your brother in the Lord, 

THOMAS JONES. 

The next is from my wife. 

Brooklyn, Aug. 10, 1849. 

My dear Husband — I got your kind letter of the 23d 
July, and rejoiced to hear that you was well. I have 
been very sick myself, and so has Alexander ; but, thanks 
to the Lord, these lines leave me and the children right 
well. I hope in God they may find you and my son and 
my mother, and all enquiring friends, enjoying the same 
blessings. My dear, you requested me and Mrs. Chavis 
to stay together ; but she has taken other people's ad- 
vice, beside mine and Mr. Cousin's, and has gone away. 
She started for home before we knew a word of it. She 
left me on the 8th of this month. Do give my love to 
Betsey Webb and to her husband. Tell her I am sorry 
she has not come on before now. I am waiting to see 
her before I start for home. My dear husband, you know 
you ought to send me some money to pay my board. 
You know 1 don't love to leave in this way with my 
children. It is true that Brother Cousins has not said 
any thing to me yet about it. You keep writing that 
you are going to send it in your next letter ; you know I 
love to act independent, and I wish you to help me to do 
so now, if you please. Do give my compliments to aunt 
Moore, and tell her the children all send their love to her. 
They send their love to you, and say they want to kiss 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 43 

yon mighty bad. The children send their love to broth- 
er Edward. I long to see yon, husband. No more at 
present, but remain your loving wife, till death, 

RYNAR JONES. 

The next letter is in answer to the letter from my wife, 
given above. 

Wilmington, N. C, Aug. 12, 1849. 

My dear Wife — I received your paper of the 10th 
to-day. I am glad to hear that you are well, and the 
children and friends. I have written to Brother Cousins, 
and told him to tell you that I had not sold out yet. But 
I hope to sell in a few days, and then I will send you 
some money. My dear wife, you know that I will do all 
I can for you and for my children, and that with all my 
heart. Do, try and wait on me a few days, and I hope 
you will see me, and the money too. I am trying to do 
all I can to sell out ; but you know how it is here, and so 
does Brother Cousins. I will do all I know, for I think 
of you, my dear wife, r.nd the children, day and night. 
If I can get my money, I will see you soon, by the help 
of God and my good friend, and that is a woman ; she is 
waiting for me to come every day. My dear wife, ail I 
want is my money and your prayers, and the prayers of 
my friends. I know that God will lu-lp me out of my 
trouble ; I know that God is my friend, and I will still 
trust in Him. You wrote to me that Mrs. Chavis left 
New York. She has not got home yet. I hope, dear 
wife, that you have done all your part for her. Do give 
my love to Brother Cousins ; ask him to pray for me, and 
all God's people to pray for me, a poor slave at this time. 
My dear wife, since I wrote last, I have seen much of the 
goodness of the Lord. Pray for me, that I may see more, 
and that I may trust in Him. My dear wife, I want you 
should pray for me day and night, till you see me. For, 
by the help of God, I will see you all soon. I do think 
now it will be but a few days. Do give my love to my 
children, and tell them that I want to kiss them all. 
Good night, my dear, I must go to bed, it is one o'clock 
at night, and 1 have a pain in my head at this time. Do 



44 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

tell Brother Cousins that I say he must look out for me, 
on John street, in a tew days. Nothing more, but I re- 
main your husband till death, 

THOMAS JONES. 

Letter from my wife. 

Brooklyn, August 23, 1849. 

My dear Husband^ — It is with the affectionate feelings 
of a wife I received your letter of the 19th instant. It 
found me and the children well, and we were glad to 
hear that you was well. But I feel very sorry you have 
not sold out yet ; I was in hopes you would have sold by 
the time you promised, before I got home. Your letter 
found Mr. Cousins and his wife very sick. Mr. C. has 
not been out of the house going on two weeks. He was 
taken by this sickness, so common, which carries so many 
people off, but, by the help of God and good attendance, 
he is much on the mend, and his wife also. You ask 
how much I pay for board. It is three dollars a week 
for myself and children. In all the letters you have 
written to me, you don't say a word of mother or 
Edward. It makes me feel bad not to hear from 
them. Husband, I have not paid Mr. Cousins any board, 
and am waiting for you to send me on some money. I 
will pray for you hourly, publicly and privately, and be- 
seech the Almighty God, till I see you again. I shall 
trust in God ; He will do all things for the best. • I am 
yours till death do us part, 

BYNAR JONES. 

Last letter to my wife from the land of bondage. 

Wilmington, N. C, Aug. 30, 1849. 

My dear Wife — I have been quite sick for three weeks, 
but, thank God, I am better at this time, and hope these 
few lines will find you and the children all well. I hope, 
my dear wife, that you have not got out of heart looking 
for me ; you know how it is here. I did think I would 
have got my money here before this time. But I can't 
get it, and I will leave all and come to you as soon as I 
can. So dont get out of heart, my dear wife ; I have a 
hard trial here ; do pray for me that the Lord may help 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 45 

me to see you all soon. I think of you day and night, 
and my dear children kiss them for me ; I hope to kiss 
them soon. Edward is sold to Owen Holmes; but I 
think Mr. Josh. Wright will get him from H. I have 
done all I could for Edward. Doirt think of coming 
back here, for I will come to you, or die. But I want 
you should write one more letter to me, and say you will 
be home in one month. Mr. Dawson will be on to New 
York next week and you will see him ; mind how you 
talk before him, for you know how it is, though he is a 
friend to me. Now, you must mind what I tell you, my 
dear wife, for, if you don't, you will make it hard for 
me. Now, my dear wife, you must not come back here 
for your brother and sister ; they talk too much ; but 
mind what I say to you, for you know I will do all lean 
for you ; you must not think that you will not get any 
money, for you shall have it soon. Don't get out of 
heart, my dear wife ; I hope I shall see you soon. Noth- 
ing more, but I remain your husband til! death, 

THOMAS JONES. 

Soon after despatching this letter, I bargained, while 
my master lay sick, with the steward of the brig Bell, to 
stow me away in the hold of the ship, and take me on to 
New York. I paid him eight dollars, which was all the 
money I then had or could get. I went into the hold, 
with an allowance of biscuit and water, and the ship 
started. She was loaded with turpentine, and I found, 
on the second day, that I could not live out the passage 
there. So I told the steward, and he took me out in a 
state of great weakness, and stowed me away in one of 
the state rooms. Here I was discovered by the captain. 
He charged me with being a runaway slave, and said he 
should send me back by the first opportunity that offered. 
That day a severe storm came on, and for several days, 
we were driven by the gale. I turned to, and cooked for 
the crew. The storm was followed by a calm of several 
days ; and when the wind sprung up again, the captain 
made for port at once. I had reason to suspect, from the 
manner in which I was guarded, after the ship came to 



46 NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLAVE. 

anchor off New York, that the captain was plotting to 
to send me back. I resolved to peril life in a b.st effort 
to get on shore. So, while the captain was in the city, 
and the mate was busy in the cabin, mending his clothes, 
I made a raft of such loose barrels as I could get, and 
hastily bound them together, and, committing myself to 
God, I launched forth upon the Avaves. The shore was 
about a mile distant ; I had the tide in my favor, and, 
with its help, J had paddled perhaps one fourth the dis- 
tance, when the mate of the Bell discovered my escape 
and made after me in the boat. I waved my old hat for 
help, and a boat, which seemed to be coming round, not 
far from me, came to my rescue. I was taken on board, 
They asked me if I was a slave, and told me not to fear 
to tell the truth, for I was with, friends, and they wonld 
protect me. I told them my circumstances just as they 
were. They were as good as their word. When the 
mate came up they ordered him to keep off, and told him 
they would prosecute him if he touched me. They took 
me to Brother Cousins, and gave me a little monev and 
some clothes in addition to all their other kindness. 

The meeting with my wife and children I cannot des- 
cribe. It was a moment of joy too deep and holy for 
any attempt to paint it. Husbands who love as I have 
loved, and fathers with hearts of fond, devoted affection, 
may imagine the scene, and my feelings, as my dear wife 
lay sobbing in her joy in my arms, and my three dear 
little babes were clinging to my knees, crying, " Fa has 
come ; Pa has come." It was the happy hour of my 
life. I felt then repaid for all my troubles and toils to 
secure the freedom of my family and my own. O God, 
would tint my other dear ones were here, too. God in 
mercy speed the day when right shall over might prevail, 
and all the down-trodden sons and daughters of toil and 
want shall be free and pious and happy. 

I. have but little more now to say. The Sabbath after 
my arrival in Brooklyn, I preached in the morning in the 
Bethel : I then came on to Hartford. A gentleman kindly 
paid my passage to that place, and sent me an introduc- 
tion to a true-hearted friend. I staid in Hartford twenty- 



NARRATIVE OF A REFUGEE SLATE, 47 

four hours ; but, finding I was pursued, and being in- 
formed that I should be safer in Massachusetts' than in 
Connecticut. I came on to Springfield, and from thence 
to Boston, where I arrived penniless and friendless, the 
7th of October. A generous friend took me, though a 
stranger, in, and fed and cheered me. He loaned me 
five dollars to get my dear family into Boston. He help- 
ed me to get a chance to lecture in May street Church, 
where I received a contribution of $2.58 ; also, in the 
Sion Church, where I obtained $2. 33 ; and in the B^ethel 
Church, where they gave me $3.53. And so I was en- 
abled to get my family to Boston. Entirely destitute, 
without employment, I now met with a kind friend, who 
took me with him to Danvers. I lectured and peached 
in the Free Evangelical Church, and received most gen- 
erous and opportune aid. They gave me ten dollars, and 
by their kindness, they lifted up a sinking brother. The 
next Sabbath evening I lectured in the Wesleyan Church 
in Boston, and received a contribution of $3.33. During 
the week following, I was assisted by the pastor of this 
Church, and by several individual members. The next 
Sabbath I spent with Brother Flanders, of Exeter, N. H. 
He gave a brother's warm welcome. I preached for him 
in the Wesleyan Church, of which he is pastor, in the 
morning, and lectured in the evening to a full and atten- 
tive house. Kere I received a generous contribution of 
nearly ten dollars. To-morrow is Thanksgiving Day. 
God will know, and He alone can know, the deep and 
fervent gratitude and joy with which 1 shall keep it, as I 
gather my friends, my dear family, around me to cele- 
brate the unspeakable goodness of C4od to me, and to 
speak, with swelling hearts, of the kindness of the dear 
friends who have poured upon our sadness and fears the 
sunlight of sympathy, love, and generous aid. May the 
blessings of Heaven rest down now and forever upon 
them, is the prayer of their grateful brother, and of his 
dear family, by their kindness saved from pinching want. 

THOMAS H. JONES. 



JUN 2 1933