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AN I N T K O 13 U C T I O N. 


By a principle essential to Christianity, a person is eternally differenced from a 
THING ; so that the idea of a HUiiAN being, necessarily excludes the idea of peopekty 



New York : 25 Park Row.— Auburn : 107 Grenesee-st. 



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ir\tered according to Act of Conarress, in the year one thousand eight hundred 
^ "> ,' • and fifty-five, 


In the CcrL's Office of the District Court of the Northern District of New York. 

miller, orton &. mulligan, 








^ .Small but most Sincere ^cttnctolctifimcnt of 









If the volume now presented to the public were a 
mere work of Art, the history of its misfortune might 
be written in two very simple words — too late. The 
nature and character of slavery have been subjects of 
an almost endless variety of artistic re2:)resentation ; 
and after the brilliant achievements in that field, and 
while those achievements are yet fresh in the memory 
of the million, he who would add another to the les^ion, 
must possess the charm of transcendent exellence, or 
apologize for something worse than rashness. The 
reader is, therefore, assured, with all due promptitude, 
that his attention is not invited to a work of Art, but 
to a work of Facts — Facts, terrible and almost in- 
credible, it may be — yet Facts, nevertheless. 

I am authorized to say that there is not a fictitious 
name nor place in the whole volume ; but that 
names and places are literally given, and that every 
transaction therein described actually transpired. 

Perhaps the best Preface to this volume is furnished 


in the following letter of Mr. Douglass, written in 
answer to mj urgent solicitation for such a work : 

Rochester, N. Y. July 2, 1855. 

Dear Friend : I have long entertained, as you very well 
know, a somewhat positive repugnance to writing or speaking 
anything for the public, which could, with any degree of 
plausibility, make me liable to the imputation of seeking per- 
sonal notoriety, for its own sake. Entertaining that feeling 
very sincerely, and permitting its control, perhaps, quite un- 
reasonably, I have often refused to narrate my personal expe- 
rience m public anti-slavery meetings, and in sympathizing 
circles, when urged to do so by friends, with whose views and 
wishes, ordinarily, it were a pleasure to comply. In my letters 
and speeches, I have generally aimed to discuss the question of 
Slavery in the light of fundamental principles, and upon facts, 
notorious and open to all ; making, I trust, no more of the flict 
of my own former enslavement, than circumstances seemed 
absolutely to require. I have never placed my opposition to 
slavery on a basis so narrow as my own enslavement, but rather 
upon the indestructible and unchangeable laws of human nature, 
every one of which is perpetually and flagrantly violated by 
the slave system. I have also felt that it was best for those 
having histories worth the writing — or supposed to be so — to 
commit such work to hands other than their own. To write 
of one's self, in such a manner as not to incur the Imputation of 
weakness, vanity, and egotism, is a work within the ability of 
but few ; and I have little reason to believe that I belong to 
that fortunate few. 

These considerations caused me to hesitate, when first you 


kindly urged me to prepare for publication a full account of 
mj life as a slave, and my life as a freeman. 

Nevertheless, I see, with you, many reasons for regarding 
my autobiography as exceptional in its character, and as being, 
in some sense, naturally beyond the reach of those reproaches 
which honorable and sensitive minds dislike to incur. It is not 
to illustrate any heroic achievements of a man, but to vindicate 
a just and beneficent principle, in its application to the whole 
human family, by letting in the light of truth upon a system, 
esteemed by some as a blessing, and by others as a curse and a 
crime. I agree with you, that this system is now at the bar of 
public opinion — not only of this country, but of the whole 
civilized world — for judgment. Its friends have made for it 
the usual plea — '• not guilty ;" the case must, therefore, pro- 
ceed. Any facts, either from slaves, slaveholders, or by-standers, 
calculated to enlighten the public mind, by revealing the true 
nature, character, and tendency of the slave system, are in order, 
and can scarcely be innocently withheld. 

I see, too, that there are special reasons why I should write 
my own biography, in preference to em.ploying another to do 
it. Not only is slavery on trial, but unfortunately, the enslaved 
people are also on trial. It is alleged, that they are, naturally, 
inferior ; that they are so loio in the scale of humanity, and so 
utterly stupid, that they are unconscious of their wrongs, and 
do not apprehend their rights. Looking, then, at your request, 
from this stand-point, and wishing everything of which you 
think me capable to go to the benefit of my afiilcted people, I 
part with my doubts and hesitation, and proceed to furnish you 
the desired manuscript ; hoping that you may be able to make 
such arrangements for its publication as shall be best adapted 


to accomplish that good wliich you so enthusiastically an 


Frederick Douglass. 

There was little necessity for doubt and hesitation 
on the part of Mr. Douglass, as to the propriety of his 
giving to the world a full account of himself. A man 
who was born and brought up in slavery, a living 
witness of its horrors ; who often himself experienced 
its cruelties ; and who, despite the depressing influ- 
ences surrounding his birth, youth and manhood, has 
risen, from a dark and almost absolute obscurity, to 
the distinguished position which he now occupies, 
might very well assume the existence of a commen- 
dable curiosity, on the part of the public, to know the 

facts of his remarkable history. 




Inteoditction, . . . . . . . , . 17 


THE author's childhood. 

Place of Birth, ......... 83 

Character of tlie District, ....... 34 

TimeofBirtli — My Granrl parents, ...... 35 

Character of my Grandmother, ...... 36 

The Lotj Cabin— Its Charms, ....... 37 

First Knowledge of being a Slave, . . • . . . S3 

01<1 Master— Griefs and Joys of Childhood, ..... 39 

Comparative Happiness of the Slave-Boy and his White Brother, . . 40 



The name " Old Ma«ter " a Ten-or, ...... 43 

Home Attractions — Dread of being removed from Tuckahoe, . . 44 
The Journey to Col. Lloyd's Plantation, . . . . .46 

Scene on reaching Old Master's, ...... 47 

First Meeting with my Brothers and Sisters, . . . . .48 

Departure of Grandmother — Author's Grief, .... 49 


TEE author's parentage. 

Author's Father shrouded in Mystery, ...... 51 

My Mother — Her Personal Appearance, ..... 52 

Her Situation — Visits to her Boy, ...... 53 

Cruelty of "Aunt Katy" — Threatened Starvation, ... 55 

My Mother's Interference, ....... 56 

Her Death, ......... 57 

Her Love of Knowledge, ....... 58 

Penalty for having a White Father, ..... 59 


A general survey of the slave plantation. 
Slaveholding Cruelty restrained by Puljlic Opinion, . . . .61 

Isolation of Lloyd's Plantation, ...... 62 

Bej'oiid the reach of Public Opinion, ...... 53 

Eeligion and Politics alike Excluded, ..... 64 

Natural and Artificial Charms of the Place, ..... 65 

The " Great House," ....... 67 


Etiquette among Slaves, ...... 

Tlie Comic Slave-Doctor, ...••• 
Praying and Flogging, ...•••• 

Business of Old Master, ...••• 
Bufferings from Hunger, ...... 

Jargon of the PlaTitation, ...... 

Family of Col. Lloyd— Mas' Daniel, . . . - . 

Family of Old Master— Social Position, .... 



Growing Acquaintance with Old Master— His Character, 

Evils of Unrestrained Passion— A Man of Trouble, 

Supposed Obtuscness of Slave-Children, 

Brutal Outrage on my Aunt Milly by a drunken Overseer, 

Slaveholders' Impatience at Appeal- against Cruelty, . 

"Wisdom of appealing to Superiors, .... 

Attempt to break up a Courtship, .... 

Slavery destroys all Incentives to a Yirtuous Life, 

A Harrowing Scene, ...... 


The Author's Early Ecflections on Slavery, 
Conclusions at which he Arrived, .... 

Presentiment of one day being a Freeman, 

Combat between an Overseer and a Slave-Woman, 

Nelly's noble Eesistance, . . ... 

Advantages of Eesistance, ..... 

Mr. Sevier, the brutal Overseer, and his Successors, 
Allowance-day on the Home Plantation, . 
The Singins of the Slaves no Proof of Contentment, . 
Food and Clothing of the Slaves, .... 

Naked Children, ...... 

Nursing Children carried to the Field, 

Description of the Cowskin, ..... 

Manner of making the Ash Cake — The Dinner Hour, 
Contrast at the Great House, ..... 


Comfort and Luxuries — Elaborate Expenditure, 
Men and Maid Servants — Black Aristocracy, 
Stable and Carriage House, ..... 
Deceptive Character of Slavery, .... 
Slaves and Slaveholders alike Unhappy, 
Fretfulne^s and Cai)riciousness of Slaveholders, . 
Whipping of Old Barney by Col. Lloyd, 
William Wilks, a supposed son of Col. Lloyd, 
Curious Incident — Penalty of telling the Truth, 
Preference of Slaves for Eioh Masters, 







Au"*! in Gore — Sketch of his Character, 

Ahsohite Power of Overseers, ..... 

Murder of Denby — How it Occurred, 

How Gore made Peace with Col. Lloyd, 

Murder of a blave-girl by Mrs. Ilicks, 

No Laws for the Protection of Slaves can be Enforced, 


?iliss Lucretia Auld — Her Kindness, .... 

A Battle with '• Ike," and its Consequences, * . 

Beams of Sunlight, ...... 

Suffering fmm Cold — How we took our Meals, 
Orders to prepare to go to Baltimore — Extraordinary Cleansing, 
Cousin Tom's Description of Baltimore, ... 
The Journey, . . ..... 

Arrival at Baltimore, ..... 

Kindness of my new Mistress — Little Tommy, . 

A Turning Point in my History, .... 


City Annoyances — Plantation Eegrets, .... 
My Improved Condition, .... 

("haracler of my new Master, Hugh Auld, 
My Occupation — Increased Sensitiveness, . . . , 

Commencement of Learning to Eead — Why Discontinued, . 
Master Hugh's Exposition of the true Philosophy of Slavery, 
Increased Determination to Learn, .... 
Contrast between City and Plantation Slaves, 
Mrs. Hamilton's Brutal Treatment of her Slaves, 


"a change came o'er TUE SPIRIT OF MY DRE 
Knowledge Acquired by Stealth, 
My Mistress — Her Slaveholding Duties, 

Deplorable Eifects on her Character, .... 
How I pursued my Education — My Tutors, 
My Deliberations on the Character of Slavery, , 

The Columbian Orator and its Lessons, , . . 

Speeches of Chatham, Sheridan, Pitt, and Fox, 
Knowledge ever Increasing — My Eyes Opened, 
How I pined for Liberty, ..... 

Dissatisfaction of my poor Mistres-s, . . . 



Abolitionists spoken of, ..... 

Eagerness to know what the wortl meant, 











TLe Enlgtoa solved — Turner's Insurrection, . 

First A^Yakened on the subject of Eeligion, 

My Friend La^yson — His Character and Occupation, . 

Comfort Perived from liis Teaching, 

New Hopes and Aspirations, ..... 

The Irishmen on the Wliarf— Their Sympathy, 

How I learned to Write, ...... 


Death of Young Master Eichard, .... 

Author's Presence required at the Division of Old Master's Property, 
Attachment of Slaves to their Homes, .... 
Sad Prospects and Grief, ..... 
General Dread of Master Andrew — His Cruelty, 
Return to Baltimori^ — Deatli of Mistress Lucretia, 
My po'T old Grandmotlier — Her sad Fate, 
Second Marriage of Master Thomas. 

Agiiin Removed from Master Hugh's, .... 
Kegrets at Leaving Baltimore, .... 
A Plan of Escape Entertained, ..... 


The Yillacre and its Inhabitants, .... 

Meteoric Phenomena — Author's Impressions, 

Character of my new Master and Mistress, 

Allowance of Food — Sutferings from Hunger, . . 

Stealing and its Vindication, ..... 

A new Profession of Faith, 

Morality of Free Society has no Application to Slave Society, 
Southern Camp-Meeti ig — Master Thomas professes Conversion, 
Hopes and Suspicions, ... ... 

The Eesult — Faith and Works entirely at Variance, 
No more Meal brought from the Mill — Methodist Preachers, . 
. Their utter Disregard of the Slaves — An Exception, 
A Sabbath School Instituted, . , . . . 

How broken up and by whom, .... 

Cruel Treatment of (;ousin Henny by Master Thomas, 
Differences with Master Thomas, and the Consequences, . 
Edward Covey — His Character, .... 


Journey to Til y new Master's, ..... 
Meditations by the way, . . . . , 

View of Cov^'y's Residence — The Family, ... 

Awkwardness as a Field Hand, .... 
First Adventure at Ox Driving, .... 

Unruly Animals — Hair-breadth Escapes, ... 
Oxen and Men — Points of Similarity, . ' . , , 


Sent back to the Woods, . . . . . 

Covey's Manner of proceeding to "Whip, 

His Cunning and Trickery — Severe Labor, , . 

Family Worship, ...... 

Shocking Contempt for Chastity — An Illustration, 
Author Broken Down — His only Leisure Time, 
Freedom of the Ships and his own Slavery Contrasted, t-^ . 
Anguish beyond Description, . . 


Experience at Covey's summed up, .... 

Scene in the Treading Yard, .... 

Author taken 111, ...... 

Unusual Brutality of Covey, .... 

Escape to St. Michael's — Suffering in the Woods, 
Circumstances Narrated to Master Thomas — His Bearing, 
The Case Prejudged— Driven back to Covey's, 


A Sleepless Night — Eeturn to Covey's, 
His Conduct — Again Escape to the Woods,- 
Deplorable Spectacle — Night in the Woods, 
An Alarm — A Friend, not an Enemy, . , 

Sandy's Hospitality — The Ash Cake Supper, 
A Conjuror — His Advice — The Magic Root, 
Want of Faith — The Talisman Accepted, . 
Meeting with Covey — His Sunday Face, 
His Manner on Monday — A Defensive Eesolve, 
A Kough and Tumble Fight, 
Unexpected Resistance, 

Covej'"s Inefiectual Commands for Assistance, 
The Victory and its Results, 
Effects upon mj' own Character, 



Chanire of Masters — Resolve to Fight my Way 

Ability to Read a cause of Prejudice^ 

Manner of Spending the Holidays, 

Tlie Effects — Sharp hit at Slavery, 

A Device of Slavery, 

Difference between Master Freeland and Covey, 

An Irrelidons Master Preferred— The Reasons 

The Reverend Rigby Hopkins, 

CL.talogue of Flogsable Offenses, 

Rivalry among Slaves Encouraged, 

Improved Condition at Freeland's, 

Reasons for continued Discontent, 

Oongenjal Society— The Sabbath School, . 







, . 



. 251 




. 253 


. 257 




. 259 




. 261 




. 263 





ItsMemoers — Necessity for Secrecy, 
AftVctionate Eelations of Master aud Pnpils, 
Confidence and Friendship among Slaves, 
Slavery the Inviter of Vengeance, 


New Year's Thoushts and Eeflections, 
Again hired by Freeland, .... 
Still Devising Plans for gaining Freedom, 
A Solemn Vow — Plan Divulged to the Slaves, 
Arguments in its Support — The Scheme gains Favor, 
Danger of Discovery — Difficulty of Concealment, 
Skill of Slaveholders— Suspicion and Coercion, 
Hymns with a Double Meaning. 
Author's Confederates — His Induecce over them. 
Preliminary Consultations — Pass- Words, 
Conflict of Hopes and Fears — Ignorance of Geography, 
Survey of Imaginary Difficulties, 
Effect upon our Minds, . . . , 

Sandy becomes a Dreamer, 

Eoute to the North laid out — Objections Considered, 
Frauds Practiced on Freemen — Passes Written, . 
Anxieties as the Time drew near. 
Appeals to Comrades — A Presentiment, 
Tne Betra\'iil Discovered, . . . . 

Manner of Arresting us, .... 
Efsistance made by Henry Harris — Its Effects, 
Unique Speech of Mrs. Freeland, . 
Our Sad Procession to Easton, 
Passes Eaten — The Examination at St. Michael's, 
No Evidence Produced — Who was the Betrayer ? 
Dragged behind Horses — The Jail a Belief, 
A New set of Tormentors, . . . , 

Eelease of my Companions, 
Author taken out of Prison and sent to Baltimore, 


Nothing Lost by the Attempt to Eun Away, 
Eeasons for sending the Author Away, 
XJnlooked for Clemency in Master Thomas, 
Eeturn to Baltimore — Change in Little Tommy, 
Trials in Gardiner's Ship Yard, 
Des[)erate Fight with -the White Apprentices, 
Conflict between White and Black Labor, 
Description of the Outrage, 

Conduct of Master Hugh, .... 
Testimony of a Colored Man Nothing, 
Spirit of Slavery in Baltimore, 
Author's Condition Improves, . , 



New Associates — Benefits derived therefrom, 
How to make a Contented Slave, 



Manner of Escape not given — Reasons why. 

Craftiness and Malice of Slaveholders, . . 

"Want of Wisdom in Publishing Details of Escape, 

Suspicions Implied by Master Hugh's Manner, 

Difficulty of Escape — Discontent, 

Author allowed to Hire his Time, 

A Gleam of Hope — Hard Terms, . 

Author attends Camp Meeting without Permission, 

Anger of Master Hugh thereat, 

Plans of Escape Accelerated thereby, . . 

Painful Thoughts of Separation from Friends, 

The Attempt made — Its Success, 



Author a Wanderer in New York — Feelings on Beaching that City, 

An Old Acquaintance met. 

Unfavorable Impressions — ^Loneliness and Insecurity, 

Apology for Slaves who Return to their Masters, 

Make known my Condition — David Ruggles, 

Author's Marriage — Removal to New Bedford, 

Kindness of Nathan Johnson — Change of Name, 

Dark Notions of Northern Civilization enlightened, 

Contrast between the North and the South, 

Colored People in New Bedford, 

An Incident Illustrating their Spirit, 

The Author finds Employment, 

Denied Work at his Trade, 

The first Winter at the North, 

Proscription in the Church, 

An Incident at the Communion Table, 

First Acquaintance with the Liberator, 

Character of its Editor, 

Prompt Attendance at Anti-Slavery Meetings, 


Anti-Slavery Convention at Nantucket, 
Authors First Speech, ..... 
Becomes a Public Lecturer, .... 
Youthful Enthusiasm, ..... 

Difficulties in his Position, .... 

His Fugitive Slaveship Doubted, .... 
Publishes his Narrative — Danger of Recapture, 
Advised not to Publish his Story, .... 





, 822 


. 325 


, , 

. 82T 


, , 

. 829 


, , 

. 832 


, . 

. 834 








Good arising out of Unpropitious Events, . . . . . 865 

Embarks tbr England— Denied Cabin Passage, .... Sf 6 

Mub on board tlie Cambria—Happy Introduction to the British Public, . 867 

Letter to Mr. Garrison, ....... 868 

" We dont allow Niggers in here," ...... 871 

Time and Labors Abroad, ....... 373 

Freedom Purchased — Free Papers, ...... 374 

Abolitionists Displeased with the Ransom, .... 875 

How the Author's Energies were Directed in Great Britain, . . . 876 

Keception Sjieech in Finsbury Chape!, London, .... 877 

Character of the Speech Defended, ...... 378 

Cau-^s Contributing to my Success, ..... 880 

The Free Church of Scotland— Its Position, . . . . .381 

Agitation of the Slavery Question, ..... 3S2 

Debates in the General Assembly — "Send back the Money," . . 883 

Dr. Cunn'nghams Spi-ech— A Striking Incident, . . . 8S5 

The World's Temperance Convention — Collision with Dr. Cox, . . 837 

Proposed Testimonial to the Author, ..... 8S8 

Project of Establisliing a Newspaper, ..... 3^9 

Eeturn to America — Again Denied Cabin Passage, . . . ' 890 



Unexpected Opposition to my Newspaper Enterprise, . . . 892 

The Objections to it— Their Plausibility Admitted, . . . 893 

Motives for going to Rochester, ...... £95 

A Change of Opinions — Causes leading to it, . . . . 896 

Prejudice against Color — The "Jim Crow Car," .... 399 

An Amusing Domestic Scene, ...... 4/)i 

The Author in High Company, ...... 403 

Elevation of the Free People of Color — Pledge for the Future, . . 405 



Eeception Speech at Finsbury Chapel, Moorfields, England, . , . 40T 

Letter to his Old Master, . . . . . . . 421 

The Nature of Slavery, . , - . . . , . 429 

Inhumanity of Slavery, ....... 435 

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? . . . . .441 

The Internal Slave Trade, ....... 446 

The Slavery Party, ........ 4ol 

The Anti-Slavery MovemeQt, ...... 457 


When a man raises himself from the lowest condition in society 
to the highest, mankind pay him the tribute of their admiration ; 
Tvhen he accomplishes this elevation by native energy, guided by 
prudence and wisdom, their admiration is increased ; but when his 
course, onward and upward, excellent in itself, furthermore proves 
a possible, what had hitlierto been regarded as an impossible, reform, 
then he becomes a burning and a shining light, on which the aged 
may look with gladness, the young with hope, and the down-trod- 
den, as a representative of what they may themselves become. To 
such a man, dear reader, it is my privilege to introduce you. 

The life of Frederick Douglass, recorded in the pages which fol- 
low, is not merely an example of self-elevation under the most 
adverse circumstances ; it is, moreover, a noble vindication of the 
highest aims of the American anti-slavery movement. The real 
object of that movement is not only to disenthrall, it is, also, to be- 
Btow upon the negro the exercise of all those rights, from the posses 
cion of which he has been so long debarred. 

But this full recognition of the colored man to the right, and the 
entire admission of the same to the full privileges, political, religious 
and social, of manhood, requires powerful effort on the part of the 
enthralled, as well as on the part of those who would disenthrall 
them. The people at large must feel the conviction, as well as ad- 
mit the abstract logic, of human equality ; the negro, for the first 
time in the world's history, brought in full contact with high civ- 
ilization, must prove his title to all that is demanded for him; in the 
teeth of unequal chances, he must prove himself equal to the mass 
of those who oppress him — therefore, absolutely superior to his ap- 
parent fate, and to their relative ability. And it is most cheering 
to the friends of freedom, to-day, that evidence of this equality is 



rapidly accumulating, not from the ranks of the lialf-freed colored 
people of the free states, but from the ver}' depths of slavery itself; 
the indestructible equality of man to man is demonstrated b}' the 
ease with which black men, scarce one remove from barbarism — if 
slavery can be honored with such a distinction — vault into the high 
places of the most advanced and painfully acquired civilization. 
Ward and Garnett, Wells Brown and Pennington, Loguen and 
Douglass, are banners on the outer wall, under which abolition 
is fighting its most successful battles, because they are living ex- 
emplars of the practicability of the most radical abolitionism; for, 
they were all of them born to the doom of slavery, some of them 
remained slaves until adult age, j^et tliey all have not only won 
equality^ to their wliite fellow citizens, in civil, religious, political and 
social rank, but they have also illustrated and adorned our com- 
mon country by their genius, learning and eloquence. 

The characteristics whereby Mr. Douglass has won first rank 
among these remarkable men, and is still rising toward highest 
rank among living Americans, are abundantl}' laid bare in the book 
before us. Like the autobiography of Hugh Miller, it carries us 
so far back into earl}' childhood, as to throw light upon the question, 
*' when positive and persistent memory begins in the human being." 
And, like Hugh Miller, he must have been a shy old fashioned 
child, occasionally oppressed by what he could not well account 
for, peering and poking about among the layers of right and wrong, 
of tyrant and thrall, and the wonderfulness of that hopeless tide of 
things which brought power to one race, and unrequited toil to 
another, until, finally, he stumbled upon his "first-found Ammonite," 
hidden away down in the depths of his own nature, and which re- 
vealed to him the fact that liberty and right, for all men, were an- 
terior to slavery and wrong. When his knowledge of the world was 
bounded by the visible horizon on Col. Lloyd's plantation, and 
while every thing around him bore a fixed, lion stamp, as if it had 
always been so, this was, for one so young, a notable discovery. 

To his uncommon memory, then, we must add a keen and accu- 
rate insight into men and things ; an original breadth of common 
sense which enabled him to see, and weigh, and compare whatever 
passed before him, and which kindled a desire to search out and 
define their relations to other things not so patent, but which never 


succumbed to tlie marvelous nor the supernatural; a sacred thirst 
for liberty and for learning, first as a means of attaining liberty, 
then as an end in itself most defirable ; a will; an unfaltering energy 
and determination to obtain what his soul pronounced desirable ; a 
majestic self-hood; determined courage; a deep and agonizing 
sympathy with his embruted, crushed and bleeding fellow slaves, 
and an extraordinary depth of passion, together with that rare al- 
liance between passion and intellect, which enables the former, 
when deeply rouse-^, to excite, develop and sustain the latter. 

With these original gifts in view, let us look at his schooling ; 
the fearful discipline through which it pleased God to prepare him 
for the high calling on which he has since entered — the advocacy 
of emancipation by the people who are not slaves. And for this 
special mission, his plantation education was better than any he 
could have acquired in any lettered school. What he needed, was 
facts and experiences, welded to acutely wrought up sympathies, 
and these he could not elsewhere have obtained, in a manner so 
peculiarly adapted to his nature. His physical being was well 
trained, also, running wild until advanced into boyhood; hard 
work and light diet, thereafter, and a skill in handicraft in youth* 

For his special mission, then, this was, considered in connection 
with his natural gifts, a good schooling ; and, for his special mission, 
he doubtless "left school" just at the proper moment. Had he re- 
mained longer in slavery — had he fretted under bonds until the 
ripening of manhood and its passions, until the drear agony of 
elave-wife and slave-children had been piled upon his already bitter 
experiences — then, not only would his own history have had another 
termination, but the drama of American slavery would have been 
essentially varied; for I cannot resist the belief, that the boy who 
learned to read and write as he did, who taught his fellow slaves 
these precious acquirements as he did, who plotted for their mu- 
tual escape as he did, would, when a man at bay, strike a blow 
which would make slaveiy reel and stagger. Furthermore, blowa 
and insults he bore, at the moment, without resentment ; deep but 
suppressed emotion rendered him insensible to their sting ; but it 
was afterward, when the memory of them went seething through 
his brain, breeding a fiery indignation at his injured self-hood, that 
the resolve came to resist, and the time fixed when to resist, and 


the plot laid, how to resist; and he always kept his self-pledged 
'seord. In what he undertook, in this line, he looked fate in the face, 
and had a cool, keen look at the relation of means to ends. Henry 
Bibb, to avoid chastisement, strewed his master's bed with charmed 
leaves — and teas whipped. Frederick Douglass quietly pocketed a 
like fetiche, compared his muscles with those of Covey — and whip- 
ped him. 

In the history of his life in bondage, we find, well developed, 
that inherent and continuous energy of character which will ever 
render him distinguished. What his hand found to do, he did 
with his might; even while conscious that he was wronged out of 
his daily earnings, he worked, and worked hard. At his daily la- 
bor he went with a will; with keen, well set eye, brawny chest, 
lithe figure, and fair sweep of arm, he would have been king among 
ealkers, had that been his mission. 

It must not be overlooked, in this glance at his education, that 
Mr. Douglass lacked one aid to which so many men of mark have 
been deeply indebted — he had neither a mother's care, nor a mother's 
culture, save that which slavery grudgingly meted out to him. 
Bitter nurse ! may not even her features relax with human feeling, 
when she gazes at such offspring ! How susceptible he was to the 
kindly influences of mother-culture, may be gathered from his own 
words, on page 57 : "It has been a life-long, standing grief to me, 
that I know so little of my mother, and that I was so early separa- 
ted from her. The counsels of her love must have been beneficial 
to me. The side view of her face is imaged on my memory, and I 
take few steps in life, without feeling her presence ; but the image 
is mute, and I have no striking words of hers treasured up." 

From the depths of chattel slaver}- in Maryland, our author 
escaped into the caste-slavery of the north, in New Bedford, Massa- 
chusetts. Here he foimd oppression assuming another, and hardly 
less bitter, form; of that very handicraft which the greed of slave- 
ry had taught him, his half-freedom denied him the exercise for an 
honest living ; he found himself one of a class — free colored men — 
whose position he has described in the following words : 

"Aliens are we in our native land. The fundamentul principles 
of the republic, to which the humblest white man, wlietlier born 
her« or elsewhere^ may appeal with confidencej in the hope oS 

rNTRODTJcnoN. xxi 

awakening a favorable response, are held to be inapplicable to us. 
The glorious doctrines of your revolutionary fathers, and the more 
glorious teachings of the Son of God, are construed and applied 
against us. "We are literally scourged beyond the beneficent range 
of both authorities, human and divine. * * * * American 
humanity hates us, scorns us, disowns and denies, in a thousand 
ways, our very personality. The outspread wing of American 
Christianity, apparently broad enough to give shelter to a perishing 
world, refuses to cover us. To us, its bones are brass, and its fea- 
tures iron. In running thither for shelter and succor, we have only 
fled from tlie hungry blood-hound to the devouring wolf — from a 
corrupt and selfish world, to a hollow and hypocritical church." — 
Speech before Ainerican and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, May, 1854. 

Four years or more, from 1837 to 1841, he struggled on, in JS'ew 
Bedford, sawing wood, rolling casks, or doing what labor he might, 
to support himself and young family ; four years he brooded over 
the scars which slavery and semi-slavery had inflicted upon his body 
and soul ; and then, with his wounds yet unhealed, he fell among 
the Garrisonians — a glorious waif to those most ardent reformers. 
It happened one day, at jSTantucket, that he, difiidently and reluc- 
tantly, was led to address an anti-slavery meeting. He was about 
the age when the younger Pitt entered the House of Commons ; 
like Pitt, too, he stood up a born orator. 

William Lloyd Garrison, who was happily present, writes thui 
of Mr. Douglass' maiden efi"ort ; " I shall never forget his first speech 
at the convention — the extraordinary emotion it excited in my own 
mind — the powerful impression it created upon a crowded auditory, 
completely taken by surprise. * * * i think I never hated 
slavery so intensely as at that moment ; certainly, my perception 
of the enormous outrage which is inflicted by it on the godlike na- 
ture of its victims, was rendered far more clear than ever. There 
stood one in physical proportions and stature commanding and 
exact — in intellect richly endowed — in natural eloquence a pro- 

It is of interest to compare Mr. Douglass's account of this meet- 
ing with Mr. Garrison's. Of the two, I think the latter the most 
correct. It must have been a grand burst of eloquence ! The pent 

♦Letter, Introduction to Life of Frederick Douglass, Boston, 1S41. 


up agony, indignation and pathos of an abused and harrowed hoy- 
hood and youth, bursting out in all their freshness and overwhelm- 
ing earnestness ! 

This unique introduction to its great leader, led immediately to the 
employment of Mr. Douglass as an agent by the American Anti- 
Slavery Society. So far as his self-relying and independent char- 
acter would permit, he became, after the strictest sect, a Garrisonian. 
It is not too much to say, that he formed a complement which they 
needed, and they were a complement equally necessary to his 
"make-up," With his deep and keen sensitiveness to wrong, and 
his wonderful memory, he came from the land of bondage full of its 
woes and its evils, and painting them in characters of living light ; 
and, on his part, he found, told out in sound Saxon phrase, all those 
principles of justice and right and liberty, which had dimly brooded 
over the dreams of his youth, seeking definite forms and verbal ex- 
pression. It must have been an electric flashing of thought, and a 
knitting of soul, granted to but few in this life, and will be a life- 
long memory to those who participated in it. In the society, more- 
over, of Wendell Phillips, Edmund Quincy, William Lloyd Garri- 
son, and other men of earnest faith and refined culture, Mr, Doug- 
lass enjoyed the high advantage of their assistance and counsel in 
the labor of self-culture, to which he now addressed himself with 
wonted energy. Yet, these gentlemen, although proud of Freder- 
ick Douglass, failed to fathom, and bring out to the light of day, 
the highest qualities of his mind ; the force of their own education 
stood in their own way : they did not delve into the mind of a col- 
ored man for capacities which the pride of race led them to believe 
to be restricted to their own Saxon blood. Bitter and vindictive 
sarcasm, irresistible mimicry, and a pathetic narrative of his own 
experiences of slavery, were the intellectual manifestations which 
they encouraged him to exhibit on the platform or in the lecture 

A visit to England, in 1845, threw Mr. Douglass among men and 
women of earnest souls and high culture, and who, moreover, had 
never drank of the bitter waters of American caste. For the first 
time in his life, he breathed an atmosphere congenial to the long- 
ings of his spirit, and felt his manhood free and unrestricted. The 
cordial and manly greetings of the British and Irish audiences in 


public, and the refinement and elegance of the social circles in 
which he mingled, not only as an equal, but as a recognized man of 
genius, were, doiibtless genial and pleasant resting places in his 
hitherto thorny and troubled journey through life. There are joys 
on the earth, and, to the wayfaring fugitive from American slavery 
or American caste, this is one of them. 

But his sojourn in England was more than a joy to Mr. Douglass. 
Like the platform at Nantucket, it awakened him to the conscious- 
ness of new powers that lay in him. From the pupilage of Garri- 
Bouism he rose to the dignity of a teacher and a thinker ; his opinions 
on the broader aspects of the great American question were earn- 
estly and incessantly sought, from various points of view, and he 
must, perforce, bestir himself to give suitable answer. With that 
prompt and truthful perception which has led their sisters in all 
ages of the world to gather at the feet and support the hands of 
reformers, the gentlewomen of England * were foremost to encourage 
and strengthen him to carve out for himself a path fitted to his 
powers and energies, in the life-battle against slavery and caste 
to which he was pledged. And one stirring thought, inseparable 
from the British idea of the evangel of freedom, must have smote 
his ear from every side — 

"Hereditary bondmen ! know ye not 
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow ? " 

The result of this visit was, that on his return to the United 
States, he established a newspaper. This proceeding was sorely 
against the wishes and the advice of the leaders of the American 
Anti-Slavery Society, but our author had fully grown up to the con- 
viction of a truth which they had once promulged, but now forgot- 
ten, to wit: that in their own elevation — self-elevation — colored 
men have a blow to strike " on their own hook," against slavery 
and caste. Differing from his Boston friends in this -matter, diffi- 

* One of these ladies, impelled by the same noble spirit which carried Miss Night- 
ingale to Scutari, has devoted her time, her untiring energies, to a great extent her 
means, and her high literary abilities, to the advancement and support of Frederick 
Douglass' Paper, the only organ of the downtrodden, edited and published by one 
of themselves, in the United States. 


dent in his own abilities, reluctant at their dissuadings, how beau- 
tiful is the loyalty with which he still clung to their principles in 
all things else, and even in this. 

Now came the trial hour. Without cordial support from any large 
body of men or party on this side the Atlantic, and too far distant 
in space and immediate interest to expect much more, after the 
much already done, on the other side, he stood up, almost alone, to 
the arduous labor and heavy expenditure of editor and lecturer. 
The Garrison party, to which he still adhered, did not want a colored 
newspaper — there was an odor of caste about it ; the Liberty party 
could hardly be expected to give warm support to a man who 
smote their principles as with a hammer ; and the wide gulf which 
separated the free colored people from the Garrisonians, also sep- 
arated them from their brother, Frederick Douglass. 

The arduous nature of his labors, from the date of the establish- 
ment of his paper, may be estimated by the fact, that anti-slavery 
papers in the United States, even while the organs of, and 
when supported by, anti-slavery parties, have, with a single ex- 
ception, failed to pay expenses. Mr. Douglass has maintained, and 
does maintain, his paper without the support of any party, and 
even in the teeth of the opposition of those from whom he had rea- 
son to expect counsel and encouragement. He has been compelled, 
at one and the same time, and almost constantly, during the past 
seven years, to contribute matter to its columns as editor, and to 
raise funds for its support as lecturer. It is within bounds to say, 
that he has expended twelve thousand dollars of his own hard earned 
money, in publishing this paper, a larger sum than has been contrib- 
uted by any one individual for the general advancement of the 
colored people. There had been many other papers published and 
edited by colored men, beginning as far back as 1827, when the 
Rev. Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russworm (a graduate of 
Bowdoin college, and afterward Governor of Cape Palmas) pub- 
lished the Freedom's Jour^tal, in New York city ; probably not less 
than one hundred newspaper enterprises have been started in the 
United States, by free colored men, born free, and some of them of lib- 
eral education and fair talents for this work ; but, one after another, 
they have fallen through, although, in several instances, anti-slavery 


friends contributed to their support.* It had almost been given 
up, as an impracticable thing, to maintain a colored newspaper, 
when Mr. Douglass, with fewest early advantages of all his com- 
petitors, essayed, and has proved, the thing perfectly practicable, 
and, moreover, of great public benefit. This paper, in addition to 
its power in holding up the hands of those to whom it is especially 
devoted, also affords irrefutable evidence of the justice, safety and 
practicability of Immediate Emancipation ; it further proves the 
immense loss which slavery inflicts on the land while it dooms such 
energies as his to the hereditary degradation of slavery. 

It has been said in this Introduction, that Mr. Douglass had raised 
himself by his own efforts to the highest position in society. As a 
successful editor, in our land, he occupies this position. Our editors 
rule the land, and he is one of them. As an orator ajid thinker, 
his position is equally high, in the opinion of his countrymen. If a 
stranger in the United States would seek its most distinguished 
men — the movers of public opinion — he will find their names men- 
tioned, and their movements chronicled, under the head of " By 
Magnetic Telegraph," in the daily papers. The keen caterers for 
the public attention, set down, in this column, such men only as 
have won high mark in the public esteem. During the past win- 
ter — 1854-5 — very frequent mention of Frederick Douglass was 
made under this head in the daily papers ; his name glided as 
often — this week from Chicago, next week from Boston — over the 
lightning wires, as the name of any other man, of whatever note. 
To no man did the people more widely nor more earnestly say, 
" Tell me thy thought ! " And, somehow or other, revolution seemed 
to follow in his wake. His were not the mere words of eloquence 
which Kossuth speaks of, that delight the ear and then pass away. 
No ! They were worlc-ahle, do-ab\e words, that brought forth fruits 
in the revolution in Illinois, and in the passage of the franchise reso- 
lutions b}^ the Assembly of New York. 

And the secret of his power, what is it? He is a Representative 
American man — a type of his countrymen. Naturalists tell us that 
a full grown man is a resultant or representative of all animated 
nature on this globe ; beginning with the early embryo state, then 

* Mr. Stephen Myers, of Albany, deserves mention as one of the most persevering 
among the colored editorial fraternity. 


representing the lowest forms of organic life,* and passing through 
every subordinate grade or type, until he reaches the last and high- 
est — manhood. In like manner, and to the fullest extent, has Fred- 
erick Douglass passed through every gradation of rank comprised 
in our national make-up, and bears upon his person and upon his 
soul ever}' thing that is American. And he has not only full sym- 
pathy with evei-y thing American ; his proclivity or bent, to active 
toil and visible progress, are in the strictly national direction, de- 
lighting to outstrip " all creation." 

IS'or have the natural gifts, already named as his, lost an^-thing 
by his severe training. When unexcited, his mental processes are 
probably slow, but singularly clear in perception, and wide in vision, 
the unfailing memory bringing up all the facts in their every as- 
pect; incongruities he lays hold of incontinently, and holds up on the 
edge of his keen and telling wit. But this wit never descends to 
frivolity ; it is rigidly in the keeping of his truthful common sense, 
and always used in illustration or proof of some point which could 
not so readily be reached any other way. "Beware of a Yankee 
when he is feeding," is a shaft that strikes home in a matter never 
so laid bare by satire before. " The Garrisonian views of disunion, 
if carried to a successful issue, would only place the people of the 
north in the same relation to American slavery which they now bear 
to the slavery of Cuba or the Brazils," is a statement, in a few words, 
which contains the result and the evidence of an argument which 
might cover pages, but could not carry stronger conviction, nor be 
stated in less pregnable form. In proof of this, I may say, that hav- 
ing been submitted to the attention of the Garrisonians in print, 
in March, it was repeated before them at their business meeting in 
May — the platform, par excellence, on which they invite free fight, 
a Voutrance, to all comers. It was given out in the clear, ringing 
tones, wherewith the hall of shields was wont to resound of old, 
yet neither Garrison, nor Phillips, nor May, nor Remond, nor Fos- 
ter, nor Burleigh, with his subtle steel of " the ice brook's temper," 
ventured to break a lance upon it! The doctrine of the dissolu- 
tion of the Union, as a means for the abolition of American slavery, 
was silenced upon the lips that gave it birth, and in the presence 

* The German physiologists have even discovered vegetable matter — starch — In 
the human body. See Med. Chirargical Eev., Oct., 1854, p. 839. 


of an array of defenders who compose the keenest intellects in 
the land. 

" The man who is right is a majority,'' is an aphorism struck out by 
Mr. Douglass in that great gathering of the friends of freedom, at 
Pittsburgh, in 1852, where he towered among the highest, because, 
with abilities inferior to none, and moved more deeply than any, 
there was neither polic}'' nor party to trammel the outpourings of 
bis soul. Thus we find, opposed to all the disadvantages which a 
black man in the United States labors and struggles under, is this 
one vantage ground — when the chance comes, and the audience 
where he may have a say, he stands forth the freest, most deeply 
moved and most earnest of all men. 

It has been said of Mr. Douglass, that his descriptive and declama- 
tory powers, admitted to be of the very highest order, take prece- 
dence of his logical force. Whilst the schools might have trained 
him to the exhibition of the formulas of deductive logic, nature and 
circumstances forced him into the exercise of the higher faculties 
required by induction. The first ninety pages of this " Life in Bon- 
dage," afford specimens of observing, comparing, and careful classi- 
fying, of such superior character, that it is diflicult to believe them 
the results of a child's thinking ; he questions the earth, and the 
children and the slaves around him again and again, and finally 
looks to " God in the sky" for the why and the wherefore of the un- 
natural thing, slavery. " Yere, if indeed thou art, wherefore dost thou 
suffer us to be slain ? " is the only prayer and worship of the God- 
forsaken Dodos in the heart of Africa. Almost the same was his 
prayer. One of his earliest observations was that wHte children 
should know their ages, while the colored children were ignorant 
of theirs ; and the songs of the slaves grated on his inmost soul, be- 
cause a something told him that harmony in sound, and music of 
the spirit, could not consociate with miserable degradation. 

To such a mind, the ordinary processes of logical deduction are 
like proving that two and two make four. Mastering the interme- 
diate steps by an intuitive glance, or recurring to them as Ferguson 
resorted to geometry, it goes down to the deeper relation of things, 
and brings out what may seem, to some, mere statements, but which 
are new and brilliant generalizations, each resting on a broad and 
stable basis. Thus, Chief Justice Marshall gave his decisions, and 


then told Brother Story to look up the authorities— anu they ncvti 
differed from him. Thus, also, in his " Lecture on th ^ Anti-iflavery 
Movement," delivered before the Rochester Ladies' An'i-Slavery So- 
ciet3^ Mr. Douglass presents a mass of thought, which, without any 
showy display cf logic on his part, requires an exercise of the rea- 
soning faculties of the readier to keep pace with him. And his 
"Claims of th« Negro Ethnologically Considered," is fuL' of new 
and fresh thoughts on Mve dawning science of race-history. 

If, as has been stated, his intellection is slow, when unexcited, it 
is most prompt and rapid when he is thoroughly aroused. Memory, 
logic, wit, sarcasm, invective, pathos and bold imagery of rare struc- 
tural beauty, well up as from a copious fountain, yet each in its 
proper place, and contributing to form a whole, grand in itself, yet 
complete in the minutest proportions. It is most difficult to hedge 
him in a corner, for his positions are taken so deliberately, that it 
is rare to find a point in them undefended aforethought. Professor 
Reason tells me the following : " On a recent visit of a public na- 
ture, to Philadelphia, and in a meeting composed mostly of his col- 
ored brethren, Mr. Douglass proposed a comparison of views in tho 
matters of the relations and duties of 'our people ;' he holding that 
prejudice was the result of condition, and could be conquered by 
the efforts of the degraded themselves. A gentleman present, dis- 
tinguished for logical acumen and subtlety, and Avho had devoted 
no small portion of the last twenty-five years to the study and elu- 
cidation of this very question, held the opposite view, that prc>ju- 
dice is innate and unconquerable. He terminated a series of well 
dove-tailed, Socratic questions to Mr. Douglass, with the following: 
*If the legislature at Harrisburgh should awaken, to-morrow morn 
ing, and find each man's skin turned black and his hair woolly, what 
could they do to remove prejudice?' 'Immediately pass laws en- 
titling black men to all civil, political and social privileges,' was 
the instant reply — and the questioning ceased." 

Tlie most remarkable mental phenomenon in Mr. Douglass, is his 
style in writing and speaking. In March, 1855, he delivered an ad- 
dress in the assembly chamber before the members of the legislature 
of the state of New York. An eye witness * describes the crowded 
and most intelligent audience, and their rapt attention to the speaker. 

*Mr. "Win. H. Topp, of Albany. 


as the grandest scene lie ever witnessed in the capitol. Among 
those whose ejes were riveted on the speaker full two hours and a 
half, were Thurlow "Weed and Lieutenant Governor Raymond ; the 
latter, at the conclusion of the address, exclaimed to a friend, " I 
would give twenty thousand dollars, if I could deliver that address 
in that manner." Mr. Raymond is a first class graduate of Dart- 
mouth, a rising politician, ranking foremost in the legislature ; of 
course, his ideal of oratory must be of the most polished and finished 

The style of Mr. Douglass in writing, is to me an intellectual puz- 
zle. The strength, afiluence and terseness may easily be accounted 
for, because the style of a man is the man ; but how are we to ac- 
count for that rare polish in his style of writing, which, most criti- 
cally examined, seems the result of careful early culture among the 
best classics of our language ; it equals if it do not surpass the style 
of Hugh Miller, which was the wonder of the British literary pub- 
lic, until he unraveled the m^-stery in the most interesting of auto- 
biographies. But Frederick Douglass was still calking the seams 
of Baltimore clippers, and had only written a "pass," at the age 
when Miller's style was already formed. 

^^ asked "William Whipper, of Pennsylvania, the gentleman allu- 
ded to above, whether he thought Mr. Douglass's power inherited 
from the Negroid, or from what is called the Caucasian side of his 
make-up ? After same reflection, he frankly answered, " I must 
admit, although sorry to do so, that the Caucasian predominates.'* 
At that time, I almost agreed with him ; but, facts narrated in the 
first part of this work, throw a different light on this interesting 
question. ^ * 

"We are left in the dark as to who was the paternal ancestor of 
our author; a fact which generally holds good of the Romulusea 
and Remuses who are to inaugurate the new birth of our republic. 
In the absence of testimony from the Caucasian side, we must see 
what evidence is given on the other side of the hone^. 

" My grandmother, though advanced in years, * * * -^as 
yet a woman of power and spirit. She was marvelously straight 
iu figure, elastic and muscular." (p. 46.) 

After describing her skill in constructing nets, her perseverance 
in using them, and her wide-spread fame iu the agricultural way 


he adds, " It happened to her — as it will happen to any careful an*' 
thrifty person residing in an ignorant and improvident neighbor- 
hood — to enjoy the reputation of being born to good luck." And 
his grandmother was a black woman. 

"My mother was tall, and finely proportioned; of deep black, 
glossy complexion ; had regular features ; and among other slaves 
was remarkably sedate in her manners." " Being a field hand, she 
was obliged to walk twelve miles and return, between nightfall and 
daybreak, to see her children " (p. 54.) "I shall never forget the 
indescribable expression of her countenance when I told her that I 
had had no food since morning. * * * There was pit}' in her 
glance at me, and a fiery indignation at Aunt Katy at the same 
time ; * * * * she read Aunt Katy a lecture which she never 
forgot." (p. 56.) " I learned, after my mother's death, that she could 
read, and that she was the only one of all the slaves and colored 
people in Tuckahoe who enjoyed that advantage. How she ac- 
quired this knowledge, I know not, for Tuckahoe is the last place 
in the world where she would be apt to find facilities for learning." 
(p. 57.) "There is, in 'Frichard's Natural History of Man' the 
head of a figure — on page 157 — the features of which so resemble 
those of my mother, that I often recur to it with something of the 
feeling which I suppose others experience when looking upon the 
pictures of dear departed ones." (p. 52.) 

The head alluded to is copied from the statue of Ramses the 
Great, an Egyptian king of the nineteenth dynasty. The authors 
of the "Types of Mankind" give a side view of the same on page 
148, remarking that the profile, " like Napoleon's, is superbly Euro- 
pean ! " The nearness of its resemblance to Mr. Douglass' mother, 
rests upon the evidence of his memory, and judging from his almost 
marvelous feats of recollection of forms and outlines recorded in 
this book, this testimony may be admitted. 

These facts show that for his energy, perseverance, eloquence, in 
vective, sagacity, and wide s^-mpathy, he is indebted to his negro 
blood. The very marvel of his style would seem to be a develop- 
ment of that other marvel, — how his mother learned to read. The 
versatility of talent which he wields, in common with Dumas, Ira 
Aldx'idge, and Miss Greenfield, would seem to be the result of the 
grafting of the Anglo-Saxon on good, original, negro stock. If the 


friends of "Caucasus" choose to claim, for that region, "vv^liat re- 
mains after this analysis — to wit : combination — they are welcome 
to it. They will forgive me for reminding them that the term- 
" Caucasian " is dropped by recent writers on Ethnology ; for the 
people about Mount Caucasus, are, and have ever been, Mongols. 
The great " white race " now seek fraternity, according to Dr. Pick- 
ering, in Arabia — "Arida Xutrix" of the best breed of horses (fee. 
Keep on, gentlemen ; you will find yourselves in Africa, by-and-by. 
The Egyptians, like the Americans, were a mixed race, with some ne- 
gro blood circling around the throne, as well as in the mud hovels. 

This is the proper place to remark of our author, that the same 
strong self-hood, which led him to measure strength with Mr. Co- 
rey, and to wrench himself from the embrace of the Garrisonians, 
and which has borne him through many resistances to the personal 
indignities offered him as a colored man, sometimes becomes a 
hyper-sensitiveness to such assaults as men of his mark will meet 
with, on paper. Keen and unscrupulous opponents have sought, 
and not unsuccessfully, to pierce him in this direction ; for well 
they know, that if assailed, he will smite back. 

It is not without a feeling of pride, dear reader, that I present 
you with this book. The son of a self-emancipated bond-woman, I 
feel joy in introducing to you my brother, who has rent his own 
bonds, and who, in his every relation — as a public man, as a husband 
and as a father — is such as does honor to the land which gave him 
birth. I shall place this book in the hands of the only child spared 
me, bidding him to strive and emulate its noble example. You 
may do likewise. ^-^ is an American book, for Americans, in the 
fullest sense of the idea. It shows that the worst of our institutions, 
in its worst aspect, cannot keep down energy, truthfulness, and 
earnest struggle for the right/* It proves the justice and practica- 
bility of Immediate Emancipation. /It shows that any man in our 
land,/ " no matter in what battle his liberty may have been cloven 
d-^wn, * * * * no matter what complexion an Indian or an 
African sun may have burned upon him," not only may " stand 
forth redeemed and disenthralled," feut may also stand up a candi- 
date for the highest suffrage of a great people — the tribute of their 
honest, hearty admiration.^ Reader, Vale ! 

Neva York. James M'Cune Smith. 












In Talbot coiintj, Eastern Sliore, Maiylancl, near 
Easton, the county town of tliat county, there is a 
small district of country, thinly populated, and re- 
markable for nothino^ that I know of more than for 
the worn-out, sandy, desert-like appearance of its soil, 
the general dilapidation of its farms and fences, 
the indigent and spiritless character of its inhabitants, 
and the prevalence of ague and fever. 

The name of this singularly unpromising and truly 
famine stricken district is Tuckahoe, a name well 
known to all Marylanders, black and white. It was 
given to this section of country probably, at the first, 
merely in derision ; or it may possibly ha^e been 
B* 3 


applied to it, as I have heard, because some one of its 
earlier inhabitants had been guilty of the ]3ett j mean- 
ness of stealing a hoe — or taking a hoe — that did not 
belong to him. Eastern Shore men usually pronounce 
the word took^ as tuck / Took-a-hoe^ therefore, is, in 
Maryland parlance, Tuckahoe. But, whatever may 
have been its origin — and about this I will not be 
positive — that name has stuck to the district in ques- 
tion ; and it is seldom mentioned but with contempt 
and derision, on account of the barrenness of its soil, 
and the ignorance, indolence, and poverty of its peo- 
ple. Decay and ruin are everywhere visible, and the 
thin population of the place would have quitted it 
long ago, but for the Choptank river, which runs 
through it, from which they take abundance of shad 
and herring, and plenty of ague and fever. 
, It w^as in this dull, flat, and unthrifty district, or 
neighborhood, surrounded by a white population of 
the lowest order, indolent and drunken to a proverb, 
and among slaves, who seemed to ask, " Oh! tohat^s 
the useV every time they lifted a hoe, that I — with- 
out any fault of mine — was born, and spent the first 
years of my childhood./ 

The reader will pardon so much about the place of 
my birth, on the score that it is always a fact of some 
importance to know where a man is born, if, indeed, 
it be important to know anything about him. In re- 
gard to the time of my birth, I cannot be as definite 
as I have been respecting the j^lace. ISTor, indeed, 
can I impart much knowledge concerning my pai <.:nts. 
Genealogical trees do not flourish among slaves. A 
person of some consequence here in the north, S(»me- 


times designated father^ is literally abolished in slave 
law and slave practice. It is only once in a while 
that an exception is found to this statement. I never 
met with a sl^ve who could tell me how old he was. 
Few slave-mothers know anything of the months of 
the year, nor of the days of the month. They keep 
no family records, with marriages, births, and deaths. 
They measure the ages of their children by spring 
time, winter time, harvest time, planting time, and 
the like ; but these goon become undistinguishable 
and forgotten. Like other slaves, I cannot tell how 
old I am. This destitution was among my earliest 
troubles. I learned when I grew up, that my mas- 
ter — and this is the case with masters generally — al- 
lowed no questions to be put to him, by which a 
slave might learn his age. Such questions are deem- 
ed evidence of impatience, and even of impudent cu- 
riosity. From certain events, however, the dates of 
which I have since learned, I suppose myself to have 
been born about the year 1S17. 

The first experience of life with me that I now re- 
member — and I remember it but hazily — began in 
the family of my grandmother and grandfather, Bet- 
eey and Isaac Baily. They were quite advanced in 
life, and had long lived on the spot where they then 
resided. They were considered old settlers in the 
neighborliood, and, from certain circumstances, I in- 
fer that my grandmother, especially, was held in high 
esteem, far higher than is the lot of most colored per- 
sons in the slave states. She was a good nurse, and 
a capital hand at making nets for catching shad and 
herring ; and these nets were in great demand, not 


only ill Tuckanoe, but at Denton and Hillsboro, 
neighboring villages. Slie was not only good at ma- 
king the nets, but was also somewhat famous for her 
good fortune in taking fae fishes referred to. I have 
known her to be in the water half the day. Grand- 
mother was likewise more provident than most of her 
neighbors in the preservation of seedling sweet pota- 
toes, and it happened to her — as it will happen to 
any careful and thrifty person residing in an ignorant 
and improvident community — to enjoy the reputation 
of having been born to " good luck." Her " good 
luck" was owing to the exceeding care which she 
took in preventing the succulent root from getting 
bruised in the digging, and in placing it beyond the 
reach of frost, by actually burying it under the hearth 
of her cabin during the winter months. In the time 
of planting sweet potatoes, " Grandmother Betty," 
as she was familiarly called, was sent for in all direc- 
tions, simply to place the seedling potatoes in the 
hills ; for superstition had it, that if " Grandmamma 
Betty but touches them at planting, they will be sure 
to grow and flourish." This high reputation was full 
of advantage to her, and to the children around her. 
Though Tiickahoe had but few of the good things of 
life, yet of such as it did possess grandmother got a 
full share, in the way of presents. If good potato 
crops came after her planting, she was not forgotten by 
those for whom she planted ; and as she was remem- 
bered by others, so she remembered the hungry little 
ones around her. 

The dwelling of my grandmother and grandfather 
had few pretensions. It was a log hut, or cabin, 


built of clay, wood, and straw. At a distance it re- 
sembled — though it was much smaller, less commodi- 
ous and less substantial — the cabins erected in the 
western states by the first settlers. To my child's 
eye, however, it was a noble structure, admirably 
adapted to promote the comforts and conveniences 
of its inmates. A few rough, Virginia fence-rails, 
flung loosely over the rafters above, answered the 
triple purpose of floors, ceilings, and bedsteads. To 
be sure, this upper apartment was reached only by a 
ladder — but what in the world for climbincc could be 
better than a ladder ? To me, this ladder was really 
a high invention, and possessed a sort of charm as I 
played with delight upon the rounds of it. In this 
little hut tliere was a large family of children : I dare 
not say how many. My grandmother — whether be- 
cause too old for field service, or because she had so 
faithfully discharged the duties of her station in early 
life, I know not — enjoyed the high privilege of living 
in a cabin, separate from the quarter, with no other 
burden than her own support, and the necessary care 
of the little children, imposed. She evidently es- 
teemed it a great fortune to live so. The children 
were not her own, but her grandchildren — the chil- 
dren of her daughters. She took delight in having 
them around her, and in attending to their few wants. 
The practice of separating children from their moth- 
ers, and hiring the latter out at distances too great to 
admit of their meeting, except at long intervals, is a 
marked feature of the cruelty and barbarity of the 
slave system. But it is in harmony with the grand 
aim of slavery, which, always and everywhere, is to 


reduce man to a level with the brute. It is a suc- 
cessful method of obliterating from the mind and 
heart of the slave, all just ideas of the sacredness of 
the family^ as an institution. 

Most of the children, however, in this instance, be- 
ing the children of mj grandmother's daughters, the 
notions of family, and the reciprocal duties and bene- 
fits of the relation, had a better chance of being un- 
derstood than where children are placed — as they 
often are — in the hands of strangers, who have no 
care for them, apart from the wishes of their masters. 
The daughters of my grandmother were five in num- 
ber. Their names were Jenny, Esther, Milly, Pkis- 
ciLLA, and Haeriet. The daughter last named was 
my mother, of whom the reader shall learn more by- 
and by. 

Living here, with my dear old grandmother and 
grandfather, it was a long time before I knew myself 
to be a slave. I knew many other things before I 
knew that. Grandmother and grandfather were the 
greatest people in the world to me ; and being with 
them so snugly in their own little cabin — I supposed 
it be their own — knowing no higher authority over 
me or the other children tlian the authority of grand- 
mamma, for a time there was nothing to disturb me ; 
/but, as I grew larger and older, I learned by degrees 
the sad fact, that the "little hut,' and the lot on 
which it stood, belonged not to my dear old grand- 
parents, but to some person who lived a great dis- 
tance ofi*, and who was called, by grandmother, " Old 
Master." I further learned the sadder fact, that not 
only the house and lot, but that grandmother herself, 

" OLD MASTEK.'' • 39 

(grandfather was free,) and all tlie little children 
around her, belonged to this mysterious personage, 
called by grandmother, with every mark of reverence, 
" Old Master." Thus early did clouds and shadows 
begin to fall upon my path. Once on the track — ■ 
troubles never come singly — I was not long in find- 
ing out another fact, still more grievous to my child- 
ish heart. I was told that this " old master," whose 
name seemed ever to be mentioned with fear and shud- 
dering, only allowed the children to live with grand- 
mother for a limited time, and that in fact as soon 
as they were big enough, they were promptly taken 
away, to live with the said " old master." These 
were distressing revelations indeed ; and though I 
was quite too young to comprehend the full import 
of the intelligence, and mostly spent my childhood 
days in gleesome sports with the other children, a 
shade of disquiet rested upon me. 

The absolute power of this distant "old master" 
had touched my young spirit with but the point of 
its cold, cruel iron, and left me something to brood 
over after the play and in moments of repose. Grand- 
mammy was, indeed, at that time, all the world to 
me ; and the thought of being separated from her, in 
any considerable time, v/as more than an unwelcome 
intruder. It was intolerable. •• 

Children have their sorrows as well as men and 
women ; and it would be well to remember this in 
our dealings with them. Slave- children are children, 
and prove no exceptions to the general rule. The li- 
ability to be separated from my grandmother, seldom 
or never to see her again, haunted me. I dreaded 


the thonglit of going to live vritli that mjsterioiia 
" old master," whose name I never heard mentioned 
with affection, hut always with fear. I look hack to 
this as anions: the heaviest of my childhood's sorrows. 
My grandmother ! my grandmother ! and the little 
hut, and the joyous circle under her care, hut espe- 
cially she^ who made us sorry when she left us hut 
for an hour, and glad on her return, — how could 1 
leave her and the good old home ? 

But the sorrows of childhood, like the pleasures of 
after life, are transient. It is not even within the 
power of slavery to write indelible sorrow, at a single 
dash, over the heart of a child. 

" The tear down childhood's cheek that flows, 
Is like the dew-drop on the rose, — 
"When next the summer breeze comes by, 
And waves the bush, — the flower is dry." 

There is, after all, but little difference in the meas- 
ure of contentment felt by the slave-child neglected 
and the slaveholder's child cared for and petted. The 
spirit of the All Just mercifully holds the balance 
for the vouns:. 

•J o 

The slaveholder, having nothing to fear from im- 
potent childhood, easily affords to refrain from cruel 
inflictions ; and if cold and hunger do not pierce the 
tender frame, the first seven or eight years of the 
slave-boy's life are about as full of sweet content as 
those of the most favored and petted vjhite children 
of the slaveholder. ^The slave-boy escapes many 
troubles which befall and vex his white brother^ He 
seldom has to listen to lectures on propriety of be- 


havior, or on anything else. He is never chicled for 
handling his little knife and fork improperly or awk- 
wardly, for he uses none. He is never reprimanded 
for soiling the table-cloth, for he takes his meals on 
the clay floor. He never has the misfortune, in his 
games or sports, of soiling or tearing his clothes, for 
he has almost none to soil or tear. He is never ex- 
pected to act like a nice little gentleman, for he is 
only a rude little slave. Thus, freed from all re- 
straint, the slave-boy can be, in his life and conduct, 
a genuine boy, doing whatever his boyish nature sug- 
gests ; enacting, by turns, all the strange antics and 
freaks of horses, dogs, pigs, and barn-door fowls, with- 
out in any manner compromising his dignity, or in- 
curring reproach of any sort. He literally runs wild ; 
has no pretty little verses to learn in the nursery ; 
no nice little speeches to make for aunts, uncles, or 
cousins, to show how smart he is ; and, if he can only 
manage to keep out of the way of the heavy feet and 
fists of the older slave boys, he may trot on, in his 
joyous and roguish tricks, as happy as any little 
heathen under the palm trees of Africa. To be sure, 
he is occasionally reminded, when he stumbles in the 
path of his master — and this he early learns to avoid 
— that he is eating his "white hread^'' and that he 
will be made to " see sights " by-and-by. The threat 
is soon forgotten ; the shadow soon passes, and our 
sable boy continues to roil in the dust, or play in the 
mud, as bests suits him, and in the veriest freedom. 
If he feels uncomfortable, from mud or from dust, the 
coast is clear ; he can plunge into the river or the 
pond, without the ceremony of undressing, or the fear 


of wetting Ms clothes ; liis little tow-linen sliirt — for 
that is all he has on — is easily dried ; and it needed 
ablution as much as did his skin. His food is of the 
coarsest kind, consisting for the most part of corn- 
meal mush, which often finds it way from the wooden 
tray to his mouth in an oyster shell. His days, when 
the weather is warm, are spent in the pure, open air, 
and in the bright sunshine. He always sleeps in airy 
apartments ; he seldom has to take powders, or to be 
paid to swallow pretty little sugar-coated pills, to 
cleanse his blood, or to quicken his appetite. He 
eats no candies ; gets no lumps of loaf sugar ; always 
relishes his food ; cries but little, for nobody cares for 
his crying ; learns to esteem his bruises but slight, 
because others so esteem them. /In a word, he is, for 
the most part of the first eight years of his life, a spir- 
ited, joyous, uproarious, and happy boy, upon whom 
troubles fall only like water on a duck's back. And 
such a boy, so far as I can now remember, was the 
boy whose life in slavery I am now narratingv 








That mysterious individual referred to in the first 
chapter as an object of terror among the inhabitants 
of our little cabin, under the ominous title of " old 
master," was really a man of some consequence. He 
owned several farms in Tuckahoe ; was the chief 
clerk and butler on the home plantation of Col. Ed- 
ward Llojd ; had overseers on his own farms ; and 
gave directions to overseers on the farms belonging 
to Col. Lloyd. This plantation is situated on Wye 
river — the river receiving its name, doubtless, from 
"Wales, where the Lloyds originated. They (the 
Lloyds) are an old and honored family in Maryland, 
exceedingly wealthy. The home plantation, where 
they have resided, perhaps for a century or more, is 
one of the largest, most fertile, and best appointed, in 
the state. 

About this plantation, and about that queer old 
master — who must be something more than a man, 


and something worse than an angel — the reader will 
easily imagine that I was not only curious, but eager, 
to know all that could be known. Unhappily for 
me, however, all the information I could get concern- 
ing him but increased my great dread of being car- 
ried thither — of being separated from and deprived 
of the protection of my grandmother and grandfather. 
It was, evidently, a great thing to go to Col. Lloyd's ; 
and I was not without a little curiosity to see the 
place ; but no amount of coaxing could induce in me 
the wish to remain there. The fact is, such was my 
dread of leaving the little cabin, that I wished to 
remain little forever, for I knew the taller I grew the 
shorter my stay. The old cabin, with its rail floor 
and rail bedsteads up stairs, and its clay floor down 
stairs, and its dirt chimney, and windowless sides, 
and that most curious piece of workmanship of all the 
rest, the ladder stairway, and the hole curiously dug 
in front of the fire-place, beneath which grandmammy 
placed the sweet potatoes to keep them from the frost, 
was MY HOME — the only home I ever had ; and 1 loved 
it, and all connected with it. The old fences around 
it, and the stumps in the edge of the woods near it, 
and the squirrels that ran, skipped, and pla^^ed upon 
them, were objects of interest and aflection. There, 
too, right at the side of the hut, stood the old well, 
with its stately and skyward-pointing beam, so aptly 
placed between the limbs of what had once been a 
tree, and so nicely balanced that I could move it up 
and down with only one hand, and could get a drink 
myself without calling for help. Where else in the 
world could such a well be found, and where could 


siicli another liome be met witli ? l^ov were these all 
the attractions of the place. Down in a little valley, 
not far from grandmaramj's cabin, stood Mr. Lee's 
mill, where the peoj^le came often in large numbers 
to get their corn ground. It was a water-mill ; and 
I never shall be able to tell the many things thought 
and felt, while I sat on the bank and Y,\atched that 
mill, and the turning of that ponderous wheel. The 
mill-pond, too, had its charms ; and with my pin- 
hook, and thread line, I could get nibbles^ if I could 
catch no fish. But, in all my sports and plays, and 
in spite of them, there would, occasionally, come the 
painful foreboding that I was not long to remain 
there, and that I must soon be called away to the 
home of old master. 

I was A SLAVE — born a slave — and tliough the fact 
was incomprehensible to me, it conveyed to my mind 
a sense of my entire dependence on the will of sorne- 
hody I had never seen ; and, from some cause or 
other, I bad been made to fear this somebody above 
all else on earth. Born for another's benefit, as the 
firstling of the cabin flock I was soon to be selected 
as a meet ofi'ering to the fearful and inexorable demi- 
god^ whose huge image on so many occasions haunted 
my' childhood's imagination. When the time of my 
departure was decided upon, my grandmother, know- 
ing my fears, and in pity for them, kindly kept me ig- 
norant of the dreaded event about to transpire. Up to 
the morning (a beautiful summer morning) when we 
were to start, and, indeed, during the whole journey 
— a journey which, child as I was, I remember as 
well as if it were yesterday — she kept the sad fact 


liidden from me. This reserve was necessary ; for, 
conlcl I have known all, I should liave given grand- 
mother some trouble in getting me started. As it 
was, I was helpless, and she— dear woman ! — led me 
along by the hand, resisting, with the reserve and so- 
lemnity of a priestess, all my inquiring looks to the 

The distance from Tuckahoe to Wye river — where 
my old master lived — was full twelve miles, and the 
walk was quite a severe test of the endurance of my 
young legs. The journey would have proved too se- 
vere for me, but that my dear old grandmother — 
blessings on her memory ! — afforded occasional relief 
by "toting" me (as Marylanders have it) on her 
shoulder. My grandmother, though advanced in 
years — as was evident from more than one gray liair, 
which peeped from between the ample and graceful 
folds of her newly-ironed bandana turban — v\'as yet 
a woman of power and spirit. She was marvelously 
straight in figure, elastic, and muscular. I seemed 
hardly to be a burden to her. She w^ould have 
" toted " me farther, but that I felt myself too much 
of a man to allow it, and insisted on walking. Re- 
leasing dear grandmamma from carrying me, did not 
make me altogther independent of her, when we hap- 
pened to pass through portions of the somber woods 
which lay between Tuckahoe and Wye river. She 
often found me increasing the energy of my grip, and 
liolding her clothing, lest something should come out 
of the woods and eat me up. Several old logs and 
stumps imposed upon me, and got themselves taken 
for wild beasts. I could see their legs, eyes, and ears, 


01 I could see sometMng like eyes, legs, and ears, till 
I got close enough to tliem to see that the eyes were 
knots, was! led white with rain, and the legs were 
broken limbs, and the ears, only ears owing to the 
point from which they were seen. Thus early T 
learned that the point from which a thing is viewed 
is of some importance. 

As the day advanced the heat increased ; and it 
was not until the afternoon that we reached the much 
dreaded e^d of the journey. I found myself in the 
midst of a group of children of many colors ; black, 
brown, copper colored, and nearly white. I had not 
seen so many children before. Great houses loomed 
up in different directions, and a great many men and 
women were at work in the fields. All this hurry, 
noise, and singing was very different from the still- 
ness of Tuckahoe. As a new comer, I was an object 
of special interest ; and, after laughing and yelling 
around me, and playing all sorts of wild tricks, they 
(the children) asked me to go out and play with them. 
This I refused to do, preferring to stay with grand- 
mamma. I could not help feeling that our being 
there boded no good to me. Grandmamma looked 
sad. She was soon to lose another object of affection, 
as she had lost many before. I knew she was un- 
happy, and the shadow fell from her brow on me, 
though I knew not the cause. 

All suspense, however, must have an end ; and the 
end of mine, in this instance, was at hand. Affec- 
tionately patting me on the head, and exhorting me 
to be a good boy, grandmamma told me to go and 
play with the little children. " They are kin to you," 


said site ; " go and play with them." Among a num 
ber of cousins were Phil, Tom, Steve, and Jerrj, 
Nance and Betty. 

Grandmother pointed out my brother Peery, my 
sister Sabah, and my sister Eliza, who stood in the 
group. I had never seen my brother nor my sisters 
before ; and, though I had sometimes heard of them, 
and felt a curious interest in them, I really did not 
understand what they were to me, or I to them. We 
were brothers and sisters, but what of that? Why 
should they be attached to me, or I to them? /Broth- 
ers and sisters we were by blood ; but slavery had 
made us strangersy I lieard the words brother and 
sisters, and knew they must mean something ; but 
slavery had robbed these terms of their true meaning. 
The experience through which I was passing, they 
had passed through before. They had already been 
initiated into the mysteries of old master's domicile, 
and they seemed to look upon me with a certain de- 
gree of compassion ; but my heart clave to my grand- 
mother. Think it not strange, dear reader, that so 
little sympathy of feeling existed between us. The 
conditions of brotherly and sisterly feeling were 
wanting--we had never nestled and played together. 
My poor mother, like many other slave-women, had 
many children^ but no family ! The domestic hearth, 
with its holy lessons and precious endearments, is abol- 
ished in the case of a slave-mother and her children. 
" Little children, love one another," are words seldom 
heard in a slave cabin. 

I really wanted to play with my brother and sis- 
ters, but they were strangers to me, and I was full of 


fear that grandmother might leave without taking me 
with her. Entreated to do so, however, and that, too, 
by my dear grandmother, I went to the' back part 
of the house, to play with them and the other chil- 
dren. Plciy, however, I did not, but stood with my 
back against the wall, witnessing the playing of the 
others. At last, while standing there, one of the chil- 
dren, who had been in the kitchen, ran up to me, in 
a sort of roguish glee, exclaiming, " Fed, Fed ! grand- 
mammy gone ! grandmammy gone ! " I could not 
believe it ; yet, fearing the worst, I ran into the 
kitchen, to see for myself, and found it even so. 
Grandmammy had indeed gone, and was now far 
away, " clean " out of sight. I need not tell all that 
happened now. Almost heart-broken at the discov- 
ery, I fell upon the ground, and wept a boy's bitter 
tears, refusing to be comforted. My brother and sis- 
ters came around me, and said, "Don't cry," and 
gave me peaches and pears, but I flung them away, 
and refused all their kindly advances. I had never 
been deceived before ; and I felt not only grieved at 
parting — as I supposed forever — with my grand- 
mother, but indignant that a trick had been played 
upon me in a matter so serious. 

It was now late in the afternoon. The day had 
been an exciting and wearisome one, and I knew not 
how or where, but I suppose I sobbed myself to sleep. 
There is a healing in the angel wing of sleep, even 
for the slave-boy ; and its balm was never more wel- 
come to any wounded soul than it was to mine, the 
first night I spent at the domicile of old master. The 
reader may be surprised that I narrate so minutely 
C 4 


an incident apparently so trivial, and which mnst 
have occurred when I was not more than seven years 
old ; but as I wish to give a faithful history of my 
experience in slavery, I cannot withhold a circum- 
stance which, at the time, affected me so deeply. 
Besides, this was, in fact, my first introduction to the 
realities of slavery. 



author's father shrouded in mystery author's mother HER PKE- 




If the reader will now be kind enough to allow me 
time to grow bigger, and afford me an opportunity 
for my experience to become greater, I will tell him 
something, by-and-by, of slave life, as I saw, felt, and 
heard it, on Col. Edward Lloyd's plantation, and 
at the house of old master, where I had now, despite 
of myself, most suddenly, but not unexpectedly, been 
dropped. Meanwhile, I will redeem my promise to 
say something more of my dear mother. 

I say nothing o^ father^ for he is shrouded in a 
mystery I have never been able to penetrate. Sla- 
very does away with fathers, as it does away with 
families. Slavery has no use for either fathers or 
families, and its laws do not recognize their existence 
in the social arrangements of the plantation. When 
they do exist, they are not the outgrowths of slavery, 
but are antagonistic to that system. The order of 
civilization is reversed here. The name of the child 
is not expected to be that of its father, and his con- 


dition does not necessarily affect that of the chikl. 
He may be the slave of Mr. Tilgman ; and his child, 
when born, may be the slave of Mr. Gross. He may 
be a freeman ; and yet his child may be a chattel. 
He may be white, glorying in the purity of his An- 
glo-Saxon blood ; and his child may be ranked with 
the blackest slaves. Indeed, he may be, and often 
is^ master and father to the same child. He can be 
father without being a husband, and may sell his 
child without incurring reproach, if the child be by a 
woman in whose veins courses one thirty-second part 
of African blood. My father was a w^hite man, or 
nearly white. It was sometimes whispered that my 
master was my father. 

But to return, or rather, to begin. My knowledge of 
my mother is very scanty, but very distinct. Her per- 
sonal appearance and bearing are ineffaceably stam23ed 
upon my memory. She was tall, and finely propor- 
tioned ; of deep black, glossy complexion ; had regu- 
lar features, and, among the other slaves, was remark- 
ably sedate in her manners. There is in " Prichard's 
Natural History of Man^^ the head of a figure — on 
page 157 — the features of which so resemble those of 
my mother, that I often recur to it with something of 
the feeling which I suppose others experience when 
looking upon the pictures of dear departed ones. 

Yet I cannot say that I was very deeply attached 
to my mother ; certainly not so deeply as I should 
have been had our relations in childhood been dilfer- 
ent. We were separated, accordins: to the common 
custom, when I was but an infant, and, of course^ be- 
fore I knew my mother from any one else» 

author's mother. 5S 

The germs of affection with which the Ahmghty, 
in his wisdom and mercy, arms the helpless infant 
against the ills and yicissitndes of his lot, had been 
directed in their growth toward that loving old grand- 
mother, whose gentle hand and kind deportment it 
was the first effort of my infantile nnderstanding to 
comprehend and appreciate. Accordingly, the ten- 
derest affection which a beneficent Father allows, as 
a partial compensation to the mother for the pains 
and lacerations of her heart, incident to the maternal 
relation, was, in my case, diverted from its true and 
natural object, by the envious, greedy, and treacher- 
ous hand of slavery. The slave-mother can be spared 
lonsr enouo^h from the field to endure all the bitter- 
ness of a mother's anguish, when it adds another 
name to a master's ledger, but not long enough to re- 
ceive the joyous reward afibrded by the intelligent 
smiles of her child. I never think of this terrible in- 
terference of slavery with my infantile affections, and 
its diverting them from their natural course, without 
feelings to which I can give no adequate expression. 

I do not remember to have seen my mother at my 
grandmother's at any time. I remember her only in 
her visits to me at Col. Lloyd's plantation, and in the 
kitchen of my old master. Her visits to me there 
were few in number, brief in duration, and mostly 
made in the night. The pains she took, and the toil 
she endured, to see me, tells me that a true mother's 
heart was hers, and that slavery had difiiculty in par- 
alyzing it with unmotherly indiflerence. 

My mother was hired out to a Mr. Stewart, who 
lived about twelve miles from old master's, and, be- 


ing a field hand, she seldom had leisure, by day, foi 
the performance of the journey. The nights and the 
distance were both obstacles to her visits. She was 
obliged to walk, unless chance flung into her way an 
opportunity to ride ; and the latter was sometimes 
her good luck. But she always had to walk one way 
or the other. It was a greater luxury than slavery 
could afford, to allow a black slave-mother a horse or 
a mule, upon which to travel twenty-four miles, when 
she could walk the distance. Besides, it is deemed a 
foolish whim for a slave-mother to manifest concern 
to see her children, and, in one point of view, the case 
is made out — she can do nothing for them. She has 
no control over them ; the master is even more than 
the mother, in all matters touching the fate of her 
child. Why, then, should she give herself any con- 
cern? She has no responsibility. Such is the rea- 
soning, and such the practice. The iron rule of the 
plantation, always passionately and violently enforced 
in that neighborhood, makes flogging the penalty of 
failing to be in the field before sunrise in the morning, 
unless special permission be given to the absenting 
slave. "I went to see my child," is no excuse to the 
ear or heart of the overseer. 

One of the visits of my mother to me, while at Col. 
Lloyd's, I remember very vividly, as aflbrding a bright 
gleam of a mothers love, and the earnestness of a 
mother's care. 

I had on that day oflended '' Aunt Katy," (called 
" Aunt" by way of respect,) the cook of old master's 
establishment. I do not now remember the nature 
of my offense in this instance, for my offenses were 


numerous in that quarter, greatly depending, however, 
upon the mood of Aunt Ka tj, as to their heinousness; 
but she had adopted, that day, her favorite mode of 
punishing me, namely, making me go without food 
all day — that is, from after breakfast. The first hour 
or two after dinner, I succeeded pretty well in keeping 
up my spirits ; but though I made an excellent stand 
against the foe, and fought bravely during the after- 
noon, I knew I must be conquered at last, unless I got 
the accustomed reenforcement of a slice of corn bread, 
at sundown. Sundown came, but no hread^ and, in its 
stead, their came the threat, with a scowl well suited 
to its terrible import, that she " meant to starve the 
life out of me .'"' Brandishing her knife, she chopped 
ofi" the heavy slices for the other children, and put the 
loaf away, muttering, all the while, her savage designs 
upon myself. Against this disappointment, for I was 
expecting that her heart would relent at last, I made 
an extra effort to maintain my dignity ; but when I 
saw all the other children around me with merry and 
satisfied faces, I conld stand it no longer. I went out 
behind the house, and cried like a fine fellow ! When 
tired of this, I returned to the kitchen, sat by the fire, 
and brooded over my hard lot. I was too hungry to 
sleep. While I sat in the corner, I caught sight of 
an ear of Indian corn on an upper shelf of the kitchen. 
I watched my chance, and got it, and, shelling off a 
few grains, I put it back again. The grains in my 
hand, I quickly put in some ashes, and covered them 
with embers, to roast them. All this I did at the risk 
of getting a brutal thumping, for Aunt Katy could 
beat, as well as starve me. My corn was not long in 


roasting, and, with my keen appetite, it did not mat- 
ter even if the grains were not exactly done. I eagerly 
pulled them out, and placed them on my stool, in a 
clever little pile. Just as I began to help myself to 
my very dry meal, in came my dear mother. And 
now, dear reader, a scene occurred which was alto- 
gether worth beholding, and to me it was instructive 
as well as interesting. The friendless and hungry 
boy, in his extremest need — and when he did not dare 
to look for succor — found himself in the strong, pro- 
tecting arms of a mother ; a mother who was, at the 
moment (being endowed with high powers of manner 
as well as matter) more than a match for all his ene- 
mies. I shall never forget the indescribable expression 
of her countenance, when I told her that I had had no 
food since morning ; and that Aunt Katy said she 
" meant to starve the life out of me." There was pity 
in her glance at me, and a fiery indignation at Aunt 
Katy at the same time ; and, while she took the corn 
from me, and gave me a large ginger cake, in its stead, 
she read Aunt Katy a lecture which she never forgot. 
My mother threatened her with complaining to old 
master in my behalf; for the latter, though harsh and 
cruel himself, at times, did not sanction the meanness, 
injustice, partiality and oppressions enacted by Aunt 
Katy in the kitchen. That night I learned the fact, 
that I was not only a child, but somebodifs child. The 
" sweet cake" my mother gave me was in the shape 
of a heart, with a rich, dark ring glazed upon the edge 
of it. I was victorious, and well off for the moment ; 
prouder, on my mother's knee, than a king upon his 
throne. But my triumph was short. I dropped off to 


sleep, and waked in the morning only to find my 
mother gone, and myself left at the mercy of the sable 
virago, dominant in my old master's kitchen, whose 
fiery wrath was my constant dread. 

I do not remember to have seen my mother after 
this occurrence. Death soon ended the little com- 
munication that had existed between us; and with it, 
I believe, a life — judging from her weary, sad, down- 
cast countenance and mute demeanor — full of heart- 
felt sorrow. I was not allowed to visit her during 
any part of her long illness ; nor did I see her for a 
long time before she was taken ill and died. The 
heartless and ghastly form of slavery rises between 
mother and child, even at the bed of death. The 
mother, at the verge of the grave, may not gather her 
children, to impart to them her holy admonitions, and 
invoke for them her dying benediction. The bond- 
woman lives as a slave, and is left to die as a beast ; 
often with fewer attentions than are paid to a favorite 
horse. Scenes of sacred tenderness, around the death- 
bed, never forgotten, and which often arrest the 
vicious and confirm the virtuous during life, must be 
looked fqr among the free, though they sometimes 
occur among the slaves. It has been a life-long, 
standing grief to me, that I knew so little of my 
mother ; and that I was so early separated from her. 
The counsels of her love must have been beneficial to 
me. The side view of her face is imaged on my 
memory, and I take few steps in life, without feeling 
her presence ; but the image is mute, and I have no 
striking words of her's treasured up. 

I learned, after my mother's death, that she could 


read, and that she was the only one of all the slaves 
and colored people in Tuckahoe who enjojed that 
advantage. How she acquired this knowledge, I 
know not, for Tuckahoe is the last place in the world 
where she would be apt to find facilities for learning. 
I can, therefore, fondly and proudly ascribe to her an 
earnest love of knowledge. Tliat a "field hand" 
should learn to read, in any slave state, is remarkable ; 
but the achievement of my mother, considering the 
place, was very extraordinary ; and, in view of that 
fact, I am quite willing, and even happy, to attribute 
any love of letters I possess, and for which I have got 
— despite of prejudices — only too much credit, not to 
my admitted Anglo-Saxon paternity, but to the native 
genius of my sable, unprotected, and uncultivated 
another — a woman, who belonged to a race w^hose 
mental endowments it is, at present, fashionable to 
hold in disparagement and contempt. 

Summoned away to her account, with the impassa- 
ble gulf of slavery between us during her entire illness, 
my mother died without leaving me a single intima- 
tion of ivJio my father was. There was a Avhisper, 
that my master was my father ; yet it was only a whis- 
per, and I cannot say that I ever gave it credence. 
Indeed, I now have reason to think he was not ; nev- 
ertheless, the fact remains, in all its glaring odiousness, 
that, by the laws of slavery, children, in all cases, are 
reduced to the condition of their mothers. This ar- 
rangement admits of the greatest license to brutal 
slaveholders, and their profligate sons, brothers, rela- 
tions and friends, and gives to the pleasure of sin, the 
additional attraction of profit. A whole volume might 


be written on this s'ngle feature of slavery, as I have 
observed it. 

One might imagine, that the children of such con- 
nections, would fare better, in the hands of their mas- 
ters, than other slaves. The rule is quite the other 
way ; and a very little reflection will satisfy the reader 
that such is the case. A man who will enslave his 
own blood, may not be safely relied on for magna- 
nimity. Men do not love those who remind them of 
their sins — unless they have a mind to repent — and the 
mulatto child's face is a standing accusation against 
him who is master and father to the child. What is 
still worse, perhaps, such a child is a constant offense 
to the wife. She hates its very presence, and when 
a slaveholding woman hates, she wants not means to 
give that hate telling effect. Women — white women, 
I mean — are idols at the south, not wives, for the slave 
women are preferred in many instances ; and if these 
idols but nod, or lift a finger, woe to the poor victim : 
kicks, cufl's and stripes are sure to follow. Masters 
are frequently compelled to sell this class of their 
slaves, out of deference to the feelings of their white 
wives ; and shocking and scandalous as it may seem 
for a man to sell his own blood to the traffickers in hu- 
man flesh, it is often an act of humanity toward the 
slave-child to be thus removed from his merciless 

It is not vnthin the scope of the design of my simple 
story, to comment upon eveiy phase of slavery not 
within my experience as a slave. 

But, I may remark, that, if the lineal descendants 
of Ham are only to be enslaved, according to the 


scriptures, slavery in this country will soon become 
an unscriptural institution ; for thousands are ushered 
into the world, annually, who — like myself — owe their 
existence to white fathers, and, most frequently, to 
their masters, and master's sons. The slave-woman 
.s at the mercy of the fathers, sons or brothers of her 
master. The thoui^htful know the rest. 


After what I have now said of the circumstances 
of my mother, and my relations to her, the reader 
will not be surprised, nor be disposed to censure me, 
when I tell but the simple truth, viz : that I received 
the tidings of her death with no strong emotions of 
sorrow for her, and with very little regret for myself 
on account of her loss. I had to learn the value of 
my mother long after her death, and by witnessing 
the devotion of other mothers to their children. 

There is not, beneath the sky, an enemy to filial 
affection so destructive as slavery. It had made my 
brothers and sisters strangers to me ; it converted the 
mother that bore me, into a myth ; it shrouded my 
father in mystery, and left me without an intelligible 
beginning in the world. 

My mother died when I could not have been more 
than eight or nine years old, on one of old master's 
farms in Tuckahoe, in the neighborhood of Hillsbor- 
ough. Her grave is, as the grave of the dead at 
sea, unmarked, and without stone or stake. 










It is generally suj^posed that slavery, in tlie state 
of Maryland, exists in its mildest form, and that it is 
totally divested of those harsh and terrible peculiari- 
ties, which mark and characterize the slave system, 
in the southern and south-western states of the Amer- 
ican union. The argument in favor of this opinion, 
is the contiguity of the free states, and the exposed 
condition of slavery in Maryland to the moral, re- 
ligious and humane sentiment of the free states. 

I am not about to refute this argument, so far as it 
relates to slavery in that State, generally ; on the 
contrary, I am willing to admit that, to this general 
point, the argument is well grounded. Public opinion 
is, indeed, an unfailing restraint upon the cruelty and 
barbarity of masters, overseers, and slave-drivers, 
whenever and wherever it can reach them ; but there 


are certain secluded and out-of-tlie way places, even 
in the state of Marj-land, seldom visited by a single 
ray of healthy public sentiment — vrhere slavery, wrapt 
in its own congenial, midnight darkness, can,^ and 
does^ develop all its malign and shocking characteris- 
tics ; where it can be indecent without shame, cruel 
without shuddering, and murderous without appre- 
hension or fear of exposure. 

Just such a secluded, dark, and out-of-the-way place, 
is the " home plantation" of Col. Edward Lloyd, on 
the Eastern Shore, Maryland. It is far away from 
all the great thoroughfares, and is proximate to no 
town or village. There is neither school-house, nor 
town-house in its neighborhood. The school-house is 
unnecessary, for there are no children to go to school. 
The children and grand-children of Col. Lloyd were 
taught in the house, by a private tutor — a Mr. Page — 
a tall, gaunt sapling of a man, who did not speak a 
dozen words to a slave in a whole year. The over- 
seers' children go off somewhere to school ; and they, 
therefore, bring no foreign or dangerous influence from 
abroad, to embarrass the natural operation of the 
slave system of the place. Not even the mechanics — 
through whom there is an occasional out-burst of 
honest and telling indignation, at cruelty and wrong 
on other plantations — are white men, on this planta- 
tion. Its whole public is made up of, and divided 
into, three classes — slaveholders, slaves and over- 
SEERS. Its blacksmiths, wheelwrights, shoemakers, 
weavers, and coopers, are slaves. JSTot even com- 
merce, selfish and iron-hearted at it is, and ready, as 
it ever is, to side with the strong against the weak — 


the rich against the poor — is trusted or permitted 
within its secluded precincts. Whether with a view 
of guarding against the escape of its secrets, I know 
not, but it is a fact, that every leaf and grain of the 
produce of this plantation, and those of the neighboring 
farms belonging to Col. Lloyd, are transported to Bal- 
timore in Col. Lloyd's own vessels ; every man and 
boy on board of which — except the captain — are 
owned by him. In return, everything brought to the 
plantation, comes through the same channel. Thus, 
even the glimmering and unsteady light of trade, 
which sometimes exerts a civilizing influence, is ex- 
cluded from this " tabooed" spot. 

Kearly all the plantations or farms in the vicinity 
of the " home plantation" of Col. Lloyd, belong to 
him ; and those which do not, are owned by personal 
friends of his, as deeply interested in maintaining 
the slave system, in all its rigor, as Col. Lloyd him- 
self. Some of his neighbors are said to be even more 
stringent than he. The Skinners, the Peakers, the 
Tilgmans, the Lockermans, and the Gipsons, are in the 
same boat ; being slaveholding neighbors, they may 
have strengthened each other in their iron rule. They 
are on intimate terms, and their interests and tastes 
are identical. 

Public opinion in such a quarter, the reader will see, 
is not likely to be very efficient in protecting the slave 
from cruelty. On the contrary, it must increase and 
intensify his wrongs. Public opinion seldom diff'ers 
very widely from public practice. To be a restraint 
upon cruelty and vice, public opinion must emanate 
from a humane and virtuous community. To no such 


humane and virtuous community, is Col. Lloyd's plan 
tation exposed. That plantation is a little nation of 
its own, having its own language, its own rules, regu- 
lations and customs. The laws and institutions of the 
state, apparently touch it nowhere. The troubles 
arising here, are not settled by the civil power of the 
state. The overseer is generally accuser, judge, jury, 
advocate and executioner. The criminal is always 
dumb. The overseer attends to all sides of a case. 

There are no conflicting rights of property, for all 
the people are owned by one man ; and they can 
themselves own no property. Religion and politics 
are alike excluded. One class of the population is too 
high to be reached by the preacher; and the other 
class is too low to be cared for by the preacher. The 
poor have the gospel preached to them, in this neigh- 
borhood, only when they are able to pay for it. Tiie 
slaves, having no money, get no gospel. The poli- 
tician keeps away, because the people have no votes, 
and the preacher keeps away, because the people have 
no money. The rich planter can afford to learn politics 
in the parlor, and to dispense with religion altogether. 

In its isolation, seclusion, and self-reliant indepen- 
dence, Col. Lloyd's plantation resembles wdiat tlie 
baronial domains were, during the middle ages in 
Europe. Grim, cold, and unapproachable by all gonial 
influences from communities without, tliere it stands / 
full three hundred years behind the age, in all that 
relates to humanity and morals. 

This, however, is not the only view that the place 
presents. Civilization is shut out, but nature cannot 
be. Though separated from the rest of the vrorld ; 


thongli public opinion, as I have said, seldom gets a 
chance to penetrate its dark domain ; though the 
whole place is stamped with its own peculiar, iron- 
like individuality ; and though crimes, high-handed 
and atrocious, may there be committed, with almost 
as much impunity as upon the deck of a pirate ship, — 
it is, nevertheless, altogether, to outward seeming, a 
most strikingly interesting place, full of life, activity, 
and spirit ; and presents a very favorable contrast to 
the indolent monotony and languor of Tuckahoe. Keen 
as was my regret and great as was my sorrow at 
leaving the latter, I was not long in adapting myself 
to this, my new home. A man's troubles are always 
half disposed of, when he finds endurance his only 
remedy. I found myself here ; there was no getting 
away ; and what remained for me, but to make the 
best of it ? Here were plenty of children to play with, 
and plenty of places of pleasant resort for boys of my 
age, and boys older. The little tendrils of affection, 
60 rudely and treacherously broken from around the 
darling objects of my grandmother's hut, gradually 
began to extend, and to entwine about the new objects 
by which I now found myself surrounded. 

There was a windmill (always a commanding object 
to a child's eye) on Long Point — a tract of land divi- 
ding Miles river from the Wye — a mile or more from 
my old master's house. There was a creek to swim in, 
at the bottom of an open flat space, of twenty acres or 
more, called "the Long Green" — a very beautiful 
play -ground for the children. 

In the river, a short distance from the shore, lying 
quietly at anchor, with her small boat dancing at her 



Stern, was a large sloop— tlie Sally Lloyd ; called by 
that name in honor of a favorite daughter of the 
colonel. The sloop and the mill were wondrous 
things, full of thoughts and ideas. A child cannot 
well look at such objects without thinking. 

Then here were a great many houses ; human habi- 
tations, full of the mysteries of life at every stage of 
it. There was the little red house, up the road, occu- 
pied by Mr. Sevier, the overseer. A little nearer to 
my old master's, stood a very long, rough, low build- 
ing, literally alive with slaves, of all ages, conditions 
and sizes. This was called "the Long Quarter." 
Perched upon a hill, across the Long Green, was a 
very tall, dilapidated, old brick building — the archi- 
tectural dimensions of which proclaimed its erection 
for a diflcrent purpose — now occupied by slaves, in 
a similar manner to the Long Quarter. Besides 
these, there were numerous other slave houses and 
huts, scattered around in the neighborhood, every 
nook and corner of which was completely occupied. 
Old master's house, a long, brick building, plain, but 
substantial, stood in the center of the plantation life, 
and constituted one independent establishment on the 
premises of Col. Lloyd. 

Besides these dwellings, there were barns, stables, 
store-houses, and tobacco-houses ; blacksmiths' shops, 
wheelwrights' shops, coopers' shops — all objects of 
interest ; but, above all, there stood the grandest 
building my eyes had then ever beheld, called, by 
every one on the plantation, the " Great House." 
This was occupied by Col. Lloyd and his family. 
They occupied it ; / enjoyed it. The great house 


"was surrounded by numerous and variously shaped 
out-buildings. There were kitchens, wash-houses, 
dairies, summer-house, green-houses, hen-houses, tur- 
key-houses, pigeon-houses, and arbors, of many sizes 
and devices, all neatly painted, and altogether inter- 
spersed with grand old trees, ornamental and primi- 
tive, which alforded delightful shade in summer, and 
imparted to the scene a high degree of stately beauty. 
The great house itself was a large, white, wooden 
building, with wings on three sides of it. In front, a 
large portico, extending the entire length of the build- 
ing, and supported by a long range of columns, gave 
to the vv'hole establishment an air of solemn grandeur. 
It w^as a treat to my young and gradually opening 
mind, to behold this elaborate exhibition of wealth, 
power, and vanity. The carriage entrance to the 
house was a large gate, more than a quarter of a mile 
distant from it; the intermediate space was a beau- 
tiful lawn, very neatly trimmed, and watched with 
the greatest care. It was dotted thickly over with 
delightful trees, shrubbery, and flowers. The road, 
or lane, from the gate to the great house, wa^ 
richly paved with white pebbles from the beach, and, 
in its course, formed a complete circle around the 
beautiful lawn. Carriages going in and retiring from 
the great house, made the circuit of the lawn, and 
their passengers were permitted to behold a scene of 
almost Eden-like beauty. Outside this select in- 
closure, were parks, where — as about the residences 
of the English nobilit}' — rabbits, deer, and other wild 
game, might be seen, peering and playing about, 
with none to molest them or make them afraid. The 


tops of the stately poplars were often covered with 
the red-winged black-birds, making all nature vocal 
with the joyous life and beauty of their wild, warbling 
notes. These all belonged to me, as well as to Col. 
Edward Lloyd, and for a time I greatly enjoyed them. 

A short distance from the great house, were the 
stately mansions of the dead, a place of somber as- 
pect. Yast tombs, embowered beneath the weeping 
willow and the fir tree, told of the antiquities of the 
Lloyd family, as well as of their wealth. Supersti- 
tion was rife among the slaves about this family bury- 
ino: crround. Stransje sio-hts had been seen there bv 
some of the older slaves. Shrouded ghosts, riding 
on great black horses, had been seen to enter ; balls of 
fire had been seen to fly there at midnight, and horrid 
sounds had been repeatedly heard. Slaves know 
enough of the rudiments of theology to believe that 
those go to hell who die slaveholders ; and they often 
fancy such persons wishing themselv^es back again, 
to wield the lash. Tales of sights and sounds, strange 
and terrible, connected with the huge black tombs, 
were a very great security to the grounds about them, 
for few of the slaves felt like approaching them even 
in the day time. It was a dark, gloomy and forbid- 
ding place, and it was difficult to feel that the spirits 
of the sleeping dust there deposited, reigned with the 
blest in the realms of eternal peace. 

The business of twenty or thirty farms was trans- 
acted at this, called, by way of eminence, " great 
house farm." These farms all belonged to Col. Lloyd, 
as did, also, the slaves upon them. Each farm was 
under the manao:ement of an overseer. As I have 



said of the overseer of the home plantation, so I may 
say of the overseers on the smaller ones ; they stand 
between the slave and all civil constitutions — their 
word is law, and is implicitly obeyed. 

The colonel, at this time, was reputed to be, and he 
apparently was, very rich. His slaves, alone, were 
an immense fortune. These small and great, could 
not have been fewer than one thousand in number, 
and though scarcely a month passed without the sale 
of one or more lots to the Georgia traders, there was 
no apparent diminution in the number of his human 
stock : the home plantation merely groaned at a re- 
moval of the young increase, or human crop, then 
proceeded as lively as ever. Horse-shoeing, cart- 
mending, plow-repairing, coopering, grinding, and 
weaving, for all the neighboring farms, were performed 
here, and slaves were employed in all these branches. 
" Uncle Tony " was the blacksmith ; " Uncle Ilany " 
was the cartwright ; '' Uncle Abel " was the shoema- 
ker ; and all these had hands to assist them in their 
several departments. 

These mechanics were called " uncles " by all the 
younger slaves, not because they really sustained that 
relationship to any, but according to plantation eti- 
quette^ as a mark of respect, due from the younger to 
the older slaves. ''Strange, and even ridiculous as it 
may seem, among a people so uncultivated, and with 
so many stern trials to look in the face, there is not 
to be found, among any people, a more rigid enforce-^-^ 
ment of the law of respect to elders, than they main- 
tain. I set this down as partly constitutional with 
my race, and partly conventional. There is no better 


material in the world for making a gentleman, than 
is furnished in the African. He sliows to others, and 
exacts for himself, all the tokens of respect which he 
is compelled to manifest toward his master. A young 
slave must approach the comjDany of the older with 
hat in hand, and woe betide him, if he fails to ac- 
knowledge a favor, of any sort, with the accustomed 
" taiil^ee^'' (fee. So uniformly are good manners en- 
forced among slaves, that I can easily detect a " bo- 
gus " fugitive by his manners. / 

Among other slave notabilities of the plantation, 
was one called by everybody Uncle Isaac Cop])er. It 
is seldom that a slave gets a surname from anybody 
in Maryland ; and so completely has the south shaj^ed 
the manners of the north, in this respect, that even 
abolitionists make very little of the surname of a 
negro. The only improvement on the "Bills," 
" Jacks," " Jims," and " Xeds " of the south, obser- 
vable here is, that " William," " John," " James," 
" Edward," are substituted. It goes against the grain 
to treat and address a negro precisely as they would 
treat and address a white man. But, once in a while, 
in slavery as in the free states, by some extraordinary 
circumstance, the negro has a surname fastened to 
him, and holds it against all conventionalties. This 
was the case with Uncle Isaac Copper. When the 
*' uncle " was dropped, he generally had the j^retix 
" doctor," in its stead. He was our doctor of medi- 
cine, and doctor of divinity as well. Where he took 
his degree I am unable to say, for he was not very 
communicative to inferiors, and I was emphatically 
Buch, being but a boy seven or eight years old. He 


was too well established in his profession to permit 
questions as to his native skill, or his attainments. 
One qualification he undoubtedly had — he was a con- 
firmed cripple ; and he could neither work, nor v/ould 
he bring anything if oftered for sale in the market. 
The old man, though lame, was no sluggard. He 
was a man that made his crutches do him good ser- 
vice. He was always on the alert, looking up the 
sick, and all such as were supposed to need his counsel. 
His remedial prescriptions embraced four articles. 
For diseases of the body, Epsmn salts and castor oil / 
for those of the soul, the Lord's Prayer^ and hickory 
switches 1 

I was not long at Col. Lloyd's before I was placed 
under the care of Doctor Isaac Copper. I was sent 
to him with twenty or thirty other children, to learn 
the "Lord's Prayer." I found the old gentleman 
seated on a huge three-legged oaken stool, armed with 
several large hickory switches ; and, from his position, 
he could reach — lame as he was — any boy in the 
room. After standing awhile to learn what was ex- 
pected of us, the old gentleman, in any other than a 
devotional tone, commanded us to kneel down. This 
done, he commenced telling us to say everything he 
said. " Our Father " — this we repeated after him 
with promptness and uniformity ; " Who art^ in 
heaven " — was less promptly and uniformly rej^eated ; 
and the old gentleman paused in the prayer, to give 
us a short lecture upon the consequences of inatten- 
tion, both immediate and future, and especially those 
more immediate. About these he was absolutely 
certain, for he held in his right hand the means of 


bringing all his predictions and warnings to pass. 
On he proceeded with the prayer ; and we with our 
vhick tongues and unskilled ears, followed him to the 
best of our ability. This, however, was not sufficient 
to please the old gentleman. Everybody, in the 
south, wants the privilege of whipping somebody 
else. Uncle Isaac shared the common passion of his 
country, and, therefore, seldom found any means of 
keeping his disciples in order short of flogging. " Say 
everything I say ; " and bang would come the switch 
on some poor boy's undevotional head. " What yoio 
looking at there ^'' — ^' Stoj? that ^pushing^^ — and down 
asrain would come the lash. 

The whip is all in all. It is supposed to secure obe- 
dience to the slaveholder, and is held as a sovereign 
remedy among the slaves themselves, for every form 
of disobedience, temporal or spiritual. Slaves, as 
w^ell as slaveholders, use it with an unsparing hand. 
Our devotions at Uncle Isaac's combined too much 
of the tragic and comic, to make them very salutary 
in a spiritual point of view ; and it is due to truth to 
say, I was often a truant when the time for attending 
the praying and flogging of Doctor Isaac Copper 
came on. 

The windmill under the care of Mr. Kinney, a kind 
hearted old Englishman, was to me a source of inti- 
iiite interest and pleasure. The old man always 
seemed pleased when he sav/ a troop of darkey little 
urchins, with their tow-linen sliirts fluttering in the 
breeze, approaching to view and admire the whirling 
wings of his wondrous machine. From the mill we 
could see other objects of deep interest. These were, 


the vessels from St. Micliael's, on their way to Balti- 
more. It was a source of much amusement to v^iew 
the flowing sails and complicated rigging, as the lit- 
tle crafts dashed by, and to speculate upon Baltimore, 
as to the kind and quality of the place. Witli so 
many sources of interest around me, the reader may be 
prepared to learn that I began to think very highly 
of Col. L.'s plantation. It was just a place to my 
boyish taste. There were fish to be caught in the 
creek, if one only had a hook and line ; and crabs, 
clams and oysters were to be caught by wading, dig- 
ging and raking for them. Here was a field for 
industry and enterprise, strongly inviting; and the 
reader may be assured that I entered upon it with 

Even the much dreaded old master, whose merci- 
less fiat had brought me from Tuckahoe, gradually, to 
my mind, parted with his terrors. Strange enough, his 
reverence seemed to take no particular notice of me, 
nor of my coming. Instead of leaping out and de- 
vouring me, he scarcely seemed conscious of my pres- 
ence. The fact is, he was occupied with matters 
more weiglity and important than either looking af- 
ter or vexing me. He probably thought as little of 
my advent, as he would have thought of the addition 
of a single pig to his stock ! 

As the chief butler on Col. Lloyd's plantation, his 
d titles were numerous and perplexing. In almost all 
important matters he answered in Col. Lloyd's stead. 
The overseers of all the farms were in some sort under 
him, and received the la-w from his mouth. The 
colonel himself seldom addressed an overseer, or al- 


lowed an overseer to address him. Old master •car- 
ried the keys of all the store houses ; measured out 
the allowance for each slave at the end of every 
month ; superintended the storing of all goods brought 
to the 2^1^i^tation ; dealt out the raw material to all 
the handicraftsmen ; sliipped the grain, tobacco, and 
all saleable produce of the plantation to market, 
and had the general oversight of the coopers' shop, 
wheelwrights' shop, blacksmitlis' shop, and shoema- 
kers' shop. Besides the care of these, he often had 
business for the plantation which required him to be 
absent two and three days. 

Thus largely employed, he had litttle time, and 
perhaps as little disposition, to interfere with the cliil- 
dren individually. What he was to Col. Lloyd, he 
made- Aunt Katy to him. When he had anything to 
say or do about us, it was said or done in a wholesale 
manner ; disposing of us in classes or sizes, leaving 
all minor details to Aunt Katy, a person of whom the 
reader has already received no very favorable impres- 
sion. Aunt Katy was a woman who never allowed 
herself to act greatly within the margin of power 
granted to her, no matter how broad that authority 
might be. Ambitious, ill-tempered and cruel, she 
found in her present position an am]3le field for the 
exercise of her ill-omened qualities. She had a strong 
hold on old master — she was considered a first rate 
cook, and she really was very industrious. She was, 
therefore, greatly favored by old master, and as one 
mark of his favor, she w^as the only mother who was 
permitted to retain her children around her. Even 
to these children she w^as often fiendish in her bru- 


tality. She pursued her son Phil, one day, in my 
presence, with a huge butcher knife, and dealt a blow 
with its edge which left a shocking gash on his arm, 
near the wrist. For this, old master did sharply re- 
buke her, and threatened that if she ever should do 
the like again, he would take the skin off her back. 
Cruel, however, as Aunt Katy was to her own chil- 
dren, at times she was not destitute of maternal feel- 
ing, as I often had occasion to know, in the bitter 
pinches of hunger I had to endure. Differing from 
the practice of Col. Lloyd, old master, instead of al- 
lowing so much for each slave, committed the allow- 
ance for all to the care of Aunt Katy, to be divided 
after cooking it, amongst us. The allowance, consist- 
ing of coarse corn-meal, was not very abundant — in- 
deed, it was very slender ; and in passing through 
Aunt Katy's hands, it was made more slender still, 
for some of us. William, Phil and Jerry were her 
children, and it is not to accuse her too severely, to 
allege that she was often guilty of starving myself 
and the other children, while she was literally cram- 
ming her own. Want of food was my chief trouble 
the first summer at my old master's. Oysters and 
clams would do very well, with an occasional supply 
of bread, but they soon failed in the absence of bread. 
I speak but the simple truth, when I say, I have often 
been so pinched with hunger, that I have fought with 
the dog — " Old IN^ep " — for the smallest crumbs that 
fell from the kitchen table, and have been glad when 
I won a single crumb in the combat. Many times 
have I followed, with eager step, the waiting-girl 
when she went out to shake the table cloth, to get 


the crumbs and small bones flung out for tbe cats. 
The water, in which meat had been boiled, was as 
eagerly sought for by me. It was a great thing to 
get the privilege of dipping a piece of bread in such 
water; and the skin taken from rusty bacon, was a 
positive luxury. Nevertheless, I sometimes got full 
meals and kind words from sympathizing old slaves, 
who knew my sufferings, and received the comfort- 
ing assurance that I should be a man some day. 
" Never mind, honey — better day comin','' was even 
then a solace, a cheering consolation to me in my 
troubles. Nor were all the kind words I received 
from slaves. I had a friend in the parlor, as well, 
and one to whom I shall be glad to do justice, before 
I have finished this part of my story. 

I was not long at old master's, before I learned that 
his surname was Anthony, and that he was generally 
called " Captain Anthony " — a title which he proba- 
bly acquired by sailing a craft in the Chesapeake 
Bay. Col. Lloyd's slaves never called Capt. An- 
thony '' old master," but always Capt. Anthony ; and 
me they called " Captain Anthony Fed." There is 
not, probably, in the whole south, a plantation where 
the English language is more imperfectly spoken than 
on Col. Lloyd's. It is a mixture of Guinea and ev- 
erything else you please. At the time of which I am 
now writing, there were slaves there who had been 
brought from the coast of Africa. They never used 
the "5 " in indication of the possessive case. " Ca})*n 
Ant'ney Tom," '' Lloyd Bill," " Aunt Kose Harry," 
means " Captain Anthony's Tom," " Lloyd's Bill," 
(fee. " Go you dem long to f " means, '• Whom do you 


belong to ? " " Oo dem got any jpeachy f " means, 
" Have you got any peaches ? " I could scarcely un- 
derstand them when I first went among them, so bro- 
ken was their speech ; and I am persuaded that I 
could not have been dropped anywhere on the globe, 
where I could reap less, in the way of knowledge, 
from my immediate associates, than on this planta- 
tion. Even " Mas' Daniel," by his association with 
his father's slaves, had measurably adopted their dia- 
lect and their ideas, so far as they had ideas to be 
adopted. The equality of nature is strongly asserted 
in childhood, and childhood requires children for as- 
sociates. Color makes no dilierence with a child. 
Are you a child with wants, tastes and pursuits com- 
mon to children, not put on, but natural ? then, 
were you black as ebony you would be welcome 
to the child of alabaster whiteness. The law of 
compensation holds here, as well as elsewhere. Mas' 
Daniel could not associate with ignorance without 
sharing its shade ; and he could not give his black 
playmates his company, without giving them his 
intelligence, as well. Without knowing this, or 
caring about it, at the time, I, for some cause or 
other, spent much of my time with Mas' Daniel, 
in preference to spending it with most of the other 

Mas' Daniel was the youngest son of Col. Lloyd ; 
his older brothers were Edward and Murray — both 
grown up, and fine looking men. Edward was 
especially esteemed by the children, and by me 
among the rest ; not that he ever said anything to 
us or for us, which could be called especially kind ; 


it was enongli for us, that he never looked nor 
acted scornfiillj toward ns. There were also three 
sisters, all married ; one to Edward Winder ; a sec- 
ond to Edward Kicholson ; a third to Mr. Lownes. 

The family of old master consisted of two sons, 
Andrew and Kichard ; his daughter, Lucretia, and 
her newly married husband, Capt. Auld. This was 
the house family. The kitchen family consisted 
of Aunt Katy, Aunt Estlier, and ten or a dozen 
children, most of them older than myself. Capt. 
Anthony was not considered a rich slaveholder, but 
was pretty well off in the world. He owned about 
thirty " head " of slaves, and three farms in Tiick- 
ahoe. The most valuable part of his property was 
his slaves, of whom he could afford to sell one ev- 
ery year. This crop, therefore, brought him seven 
or eight hundred dollars a year, besides his yearly 
salary, and other revenue from his farms. 

The idea of rank and station was rigidly main- 
tained on Col. Lloyd's plantation. Our family 
never visited the great house, and the Lloyds never 
came to our home. Equal non-intercourse was ob- 
served between Capt. Anthony's family and that of 
Mr. Sevier, the overseer. 

Such, kind reader, was the community, and such 
the place, in which my earliest and most lasting 
impressions of slavery, and of slave-life, were re- 
ceived ; of which impressions you will learn more in 
the coming chapters of this book. 











Although my old master — Capt. Anthony — gave 
me at first, (as the reader will have already seen,) very 
little attention, and although that little was of a re- 
markably mild and gentle description, a few months 
only were sufficient to convince me that mildness 
and gentleness were not the prevailing or govern- 
ing traits of his character. These excellent qual- 
ities were displayed only occasionally. He could, 
when it suited him, appear to be literally insensible 
to the claims of humanity, when appealed to by the 
helpless against an aggressor, and he could himself 
commit outrages, deep, dark and nameless. Yet he 
was not by nature worse than other men. Had he 
been brought up in a free state, surrounded by the 
just restraints of free society — restraints which are 
necessary to the freedom of all its members, alike 
and equally — Capt. Anthony might have been as hu- 


mane a man, and every way as respectable, as many 
who now oppose the slave system ; certainly as hu- 
mane and respectable as are membere of society gen- 
erally. ''The slaveholder, as well as the slave, is the 
victim of the slave system.*' A man's character greatly 
takes its hue and shape from the form and color 
of things about him. Uuder the whole heavens 
there is no relation more unfavorable to the devel- 
opment of honorable character, than that sustained 
bv the slaveholder to the slave, lleason is impris- 
oned here, and passions run wild. Like the fires of 
the prairie, once lighted, they are at the mercy of 
every wind, and must burn, till they have consumed 
all that is combustible within their remorseless grasp. 
Capt. Anthony could be kind, and, at times, he even 
showed an affectionate disposition. Could the reader 
have seen him gently leading me by the hand — as he 
sometimes did — patting me on the head, speaking to 
me in soft, caressing tones and calling me his " little 
Indian boy," he would have deemed him a kind old 
man, and, really, almost fatherly. But the pleasant 
moods of a slaveholder are remarkably brittle ; they 
are easily snapped ; they neither come often, nor re- 
main long. His temper is subjected to perpetual 
trials; but, since these trials are never borne pa- 
tiently, they add nothing to his natural stock of 

Old master very early impressed me with the idea 
that he was an unhappy man. Even to my child's eye, 
he wore a troubled, and at times, a haggard asj^ect. 
His strange movements excited my curiosity, and 
awakened my compassion. He seldom walked alone 


without muttering to himself; and he occasionally 
stormed about, as if defying an army of invisible foes. 
" He would do this, that, and the other ; he'd be d — d 
if he did not," — was the usual form of his threats. 
Most of his leisure was spent in walking, cursing and 
gesticulating, like one possessed by a demon. Most 
evidently, he was a wretched man, at war with his 
own soul, and with all the world around him. To be 
overheard by the children, disturbed him very little. 
He made no more of 6>2^r presence, than of that of the 
ducks and geese which he met on the green. He little 
thought that the little black urchins around him, could 
see, through those vocal crevices, the very secrets of 
his heart. Slaveholders ever underrate the intelligence 
with which they have to grapple. I really under- 
stood the old man's mutterings, attitudes and gestures, 
about as well as he did himself. But slaveholders 
never encourage that kind of communication, with 
the slaves, by which they might learn to mxeasure the 
depths of his knowledge. Ignorance is a high virtue 
in a human chattel ; and as the master studies to keep 
the slave ignorant, the slave is cunning enough to 
make the master think he succeeds. The slave fully 
appreciates the saying, " where ignorance is bliss, 
'tis folly to be wise." AVhen old master's gestures 
were violent, ending with a threatening shake of the 
head, and a sharp snap of his middle finger and thumb, 
I deemed it wise to keep at a respectable distance 
from him ; for, at such times, trifling faults stood, in 
his eyes, as momentous offenses ; and, having both 
the power and the disposition, the victim had only to 
D* 6 


be near him to catch the punishment, deserved or un- 

One of the first circumstances that opened my eyes 

to the cruelty and wickedness of slavery, and the 
heartlessness of my old master, was the refusal of the 
latter to interpose his authority, to protect and shield 
a young woman, wlio had heen most cruelly abused 
and beaten by liis overseer in Tuckahoe. Tins over- 
seer — a Mr. Plummer — was a man like most of his 
class, little better than a human brute ; and, in ad- 
dition to his general profligacy and repulsive coarse- 
ness, the creature was a miserable drunkard. He 
was, probably, employed by my old master, less on 
account of the excellence of his services, than for the 
cheap rate at wdiich they could be obtained. He was 
not fit to have the management of a drove of mules. 
In a fit of drunken madness, he committed the <:]&"it- 
rage wdiich brought the young woman in question 
down to my old master's for protection. This yonng 
woman was the daughter of Milly, an own aunt of 
mine. The poor girl, on arriving at our house, pre- 
sented a pitiable appearance. She had left in liaste, 
and without preparation ; and, probably, without tlie 
knowledge of Mr. Plummer. She had traveled 
twelve miles, bare-footed, bare-necked and bare- 
headed. Her neck and shoulders were covered with 
scars, newly made ; and, not content with marring her 
neck and shoulders, with the cowhide, the cowardly 
brute had dealt her a blow on the head with a hickory 
club, which cut a horrible gash, and left her face liter- 
ally covered with blood. In this condition, the poor 
young woman came down, to implore protection at 


tlie hands of my old master. I expected to see him 
boil over with rage at the revolting deed, and to hear 
him fill the air with curses upon the brutal Plummer ; 
but I was disappointed. He sternly told her, in an 
angry tone, he " believed she deserved every bit of 
it," and, if she did not go home instantly, he would 
himself take the remaining skin from her neck and 
back. Thus was the poor girl compelled to return, 
without redress, and perhaps to receive an additional 
flogging for daring to appeal to old master against the 

Old master seemed furious at the thought of beins: 
troubled by such complaints. I did not, at that time, 
understand the philosophy of his treatment of my 
cousin. It was stern, unnatural, violent. Had the 
man no bowels of compassion? Was he dead to all 
sense of humanity? ISTo. I think I now understand 
it. This treatment is a part of the system, rather than 
a part of the man. Were slaveholders to listen to 
complaints of this sort against the overseers, the luxury 
of owning large numbers of slaves, would be impossi- 
ble. It w^ould do away with the office of overseer, 
entirely ; or, in o^^her w^ords, it would convert the 
master himself into an overseer. It would occasion 
great loss of time and labor, leaving the overseer in 
fetters, and without the necessary power to secure 
obedience to his orders. A privilege so dangerous as 
that of appeal, is, therefore, strictly prohibited ; and 
any one exercising it, runs a fearful hazard. JSTever- 
theless, when a slave has nerve enough to exercise it, 
and boldly approaches his master, with a well-founded 


complaint against an overseer, tliongli he may be re- 
pulsed, and may even have that of which he com- 
plains repeated at the time, and, thongh he may be 
beaten by his master, as well as by the overseer, for 
his temerity, in the end the policy of complaining is, 
generally, vindicated by the relaxed rigor of the 
overseer's treatment. The latter becomes more care- 
ful, and less disposed to use the lash upon such slaves 
thereafter. It is with this final result in view, rather 
than with any expectation of immediate good, that 
the outraged slave is induced to meet his master with 
a complaint. The overseer very naturally dislikes to 
have the ear of the master disturbed by complaints ; 
and, either upon this consideration, or upon advice 
and warning privately given him by his employers, 
he generally modifies the rigor of his rule, after an 
outbreak of the kind to which I have been referring. 
Howsoever the slaveholder may allow himself to 
act toward his slave, and, whatever cruelty he may 
deem it wise, for example's sake, or for the gratifica- 
tion of his humor, to inflict, he cannot, in the absence 
of all provocation, look with pleasure upon the bleed- 
ing wounds of a defenseless slave-woman. "When he 
drives her from his presence without redress, or the 
hope of redress, he acts, generally, from motives of 
policy, rather than from a hardened nature, or from 
innate brutality. Yet, let but his own temper be stirred, 
his own passions get loose, and the slave-owner will 
go far heyond the overseer in cruelty. He will con- 
vince the slave that his wrath is far more terrible and 
boundless, and vastly more to be dreaded, than that 
of the underling overseer. What may have been 



mechanically and heartlessly done by the overseer, is 
now done with a will. The man who now wields the 
lash is irresponsible. He may, if he pleases, cripple 
or kill, without fear of consequences ; except in so far 
as it may concern profit or loss. To a man of violent 
temper — as my old master was — this was but a very 
slender and inefficient restraint. . I have seen him in 
a tempest of passion, such as I have just described — 
a passion into which entered all the bitter ingredients 
of pride, hatred, envy, jealousy, and the thirst for 

The circumstances which I am about to narrate, 
and which gave rise to this fearful tempest of passion, 
are not singular nor isolated in slave life, but are 
common in every slaveholding community in which 1 
have lived. They are incidental to the relation of 
master and slave, and exist in all sections of slave- 
holding countries. 

The reader will have noticed that, in enumerating 
the names of the slaves who lived with my old mas- 
ter, Esther is mentioned. This was a young woman 
who possessed that which is ever a curse to the slave- 
girl ; namely, — personal beauty. She was tall, well 
formed, and made a fine appearance. The daughters 
of Col. Lloyd could scarcely surpass her in personal 
charms. Esther was courted by I^ed Roberts, and he 
was as fine looking a young man, as she was a woman. 
He was the son of a favorite slave of Col. Lloyd. 
Some slaveholders would have been glad to promote 
the marriage of two such persons ; but, for some rea- 
son or other, my old master took it upon him to break 
up the growing intimacy between Esther and Edward, 


He strictly ordered her to quit tlie company of said 
Koberts, telling her that he would punish her severely 
if he ever found her again in Edward's company. 
This unnatural and heartless order was, of course, 
broken. A woman's love is not to be annihilated by 
the peremptory command of any one, whose breath 
is in his nostrils. It was impossible to keep Edward 
and Esther apart. Meet they would, and meet they 
did. Had old master been a man of honor and purity, 
his motives, in this matter, might have been viewed 
more favorably. As it was, his motives were as ab- 
horrent, as his methods were foolish and contemptible. 
It was too evident that he was not concerned for the 
girl's welfare. It is one of the damning characteristics 
of the slave system, that it robs its victims of every 
earthly incentive to a holy life. The fear of God, and 
the hope of heaven, are found sufhcient to sustain 
many slave-women, amidst the snares and dangers of 
their strange lot ; but, this side of God and heaven, a 
slave-woman is at the mercy of the power, caprice 
and passion of her owner. Slavery provides no means 
for the honorable continuance of the race. Marria2:e 
— as imposing obligations on the parties to it — has no 
existence here, except in such hearts as are purer and 
higher than the standard morality around them. It 
is one of the consolations of my life, that I know of 
many honorable instances of persons who maintained 
their honor, where all around was corrupt. 

Esther was evidently much attached to Edward, 
and abhorred — as she had reason to do — the tyranni- 
cal and base behavior of old master. Edward was 
young, and fine looking, and he loved and courted 


her. He might have been her husband, in the lii^n 
sense just aUuded to ; but who and loliat was this old 
master? His attentions were plainly brutal and sel- 
fish, and it was as natural that Esther should loathe 
him, as that she should love Edward. Abhorred and 
circumvented as lie was, old master, having the power, 
very easily took revenge. I happened to see this ex- 
hibition of his rage and cruelty toward Esther. The 
tiuie selected was singular. It was early in the morn- 
ing, when all besides w^as still, and before any of the 
family, in the house or kitchen, had left their beds. I 
saw but few of the shocking preliminaries, for the 
cruel work had begun before I awoke. I w'as proba- 
bly awakened by the shrieks and piteous cries of poor 
Esther. My sleeping place was on the floor of a little, 
rough closet, which opened into the kitchen ; and 
through the cracks of its unplaned boards, I could 
dictinctly see and hear what was going on, without 
being seen by old master. Esther's wrists were firmly 
tied, and the twisted rope was fastened to a strong 
staple in a heavy wooden joist above, near the fire- 
place. Here she stood, on a bench, her arms tightly 
drawn over her breast. Her back and shoulders were 
bare to the waist. Behind her stood old master, with 
cowskin in hand, preparing his barbarous work with 
all manner of harsh, coarse, and tantalizing epithets. 
The screams of his victim were most piercing. He 
was cruelly deliberate, and protracted the torture, as 
one who was delighted with the scene. Again and 
again he drew the hateful wdiip through his hand, 
adjusting it with a view of dealing the most pain- 
giving* blow. Poor Esther had never yet been se- 


verely whipped, and lier slionlders were plumj) and 
tender. Each blow, vigorously laid on, brought 
screams as well as blood. "Have mercy ; Oh! have 
ruercij'^ she cried ; " I ivonH do so no more f'' bnt her 
piercing cries seemed only to increase his fury. His 
answers to them are too coarse and blasphemous to 
be produced here. The whole scene, with all its 
attendants, was revolting and shocking, to the last 
degree ; and when the motives of this brutal castiga- 
tion are considered, language has no power to convey 
a just sense of its awful criminality. After laying on 
some thirty or forty stripes, old master nntied his 
suflering victim, and let her get down. She could 
scarcely stand, when "untied. From my heart I pitied 
her, and — child though I was — the outrage kindled 
in me a feeling far from peaceful ; but I was hushed, 
terrified, stunned, and could do nothing, and the fate 
of Esther might be mine next. The scene here de- 
scribed was often repeated in the case of poor Esther, 
and her life, as I knew it, was one of wretchedness. 










The lieart-rending incidents, related in the forego- 
ing chapter, led me, thus early, to inquire into the na- 
ture and history of slavery. Why am- 1 a slave f Why 
are some people slaves y and others onastersf Was 
there ever a time when this was not so f Hovj did 
the relation cooiimence ? These were the perplexing 
questions which began now to claim my thoughts, 
and to exercise the weak powers of my mind, for I 
was still but a child, and knew less than children of 
the same age in the free states. As my questions 
concerning these things were only put to children a 
little older, and little better informed than myself, 
I was not rapid in reaching a solid footing. By some 
means I learned from these inquiries, that " God^ iip 
in the shy^'' made every body ; and that he made 
white people to be masters and mistresses, and hlach 
people to be slaves. This did not satisfy me, nor 
lessen* my interest in the subject. I was told, too, 


that God was good, and that He knew what was iDest 
for nie, and best for everybody. This was less satis- 
factory than the first statement; because it came, 
point blank, against all my notions of good- -ess. It 
was not o;ood to let old master cut the flesh off Estlier, 
and make her cry so. Besides, how did people know 
that God made black people to be slaves? Did they 
^o np in the sky and learn it? or, did He come down 
and tell them so? All was dark here. It was some 
relief to my hard notions of the goodness of God, that, 
although he made white men to be slaveholders, he 
did not make them to be had slaveholders, and that, 
in due time, he would punish the bad slaveholders; 
that he would, when they died, send them to the bad 
place, where they would be "burnt up." Neverthe- 
less, I could not reconcile the relation of slavery with 
my crude notions of goodness. 

Tlien, too, I found that there were puzzling excep- 
tions to this theor}^ of slavery on both sides, and in 
the middle. I knew of blacks who were not slaves ; 
I knew of whites who were iiot slaveholders; an I I 
knew of persons who were nearly white, who were 
slaves. Color^ therefore, was a very unsatisfactory 
basis for slavery. 

^ Once, however, engaged in the inquiry, I was not 
verv lona: in findino^ out the true solution of the mat- 
ter. It was not coloi\ but erhne^ not God^ but man^ 
that afforded the true explanation of the existence of 
slavery ; nor was I long in finding out another im- 
poi'taut truth, viz : what man can make, man can un- 
make. The appalling darkness faded away, and I 
was master of the subject. There were' slaves here, 


direct from Guinea ; and there were many who could 
say that their fathers and mothers were stolen from 
Africa — forced from their homes, and compelled to 
serve as slaves. This, to me, was knowledge ; but it 
was a kind of knowledge which tilled me with a burn- 
ing hatred of slavery, increased my suifering, and left 
me without the means of breaking away from my 
bondage. Yet it was knowledge quite worth possess- 
ing. I could not have been more than seven or eight 
3^earsold, when I began to make this subject my stud}'-. 
It was with me in the woods and fields ; along the 
shore of the river, and wherev^er my boyish wander- 
ings led me; and though I v/as, at that time, quite 
ignorant of the existence of the free states, I distinctly" 
remember being, even then^ most strongly impressed 
with the idea of being a freeman some day. This 
cheering assurance was an inborn dream of my human 
nature— a constant menace to slavery — and one which 
all the powers of slavery were unable to silence or 

Up to the time of the brutal flogging of my Aunt 
Esther — for she was my own aunt — and the horrid 
plight in which I had seen my cousin from Tuckahoe, 
who had been so badly beaten by the cruel Mr. Plum- 
mer, my attention had not been called, especially, to 
the gross features of slavery. I had, of course, heard 
of whippings, and of savage rencontres between over- 
seers and slaves, but I had always been out of the 
way at the times and places of their occurrence. My 
plays and sports, most of the time, took me from the 
corn and tobacco fields, where the ^reat bodv of the 
hands v^^ere at work, and where scenes of cruelty were 

92 LIFE AS A slaat:. 

enacted and witnessed. But, after the whipping of 
Aunt Esther, I saw many cases of the same shocking 
nature, not only in my master's house, but on CoL 
Lloyd's plantation. One of the first which I saw, and 
which greatly agitated me, was the whipping of a 
woman belonging to Col. Lloyd, named Nelly. The 
offense alleged against Nelly, was one of the com- 
monest and most indefinite in the whole catalogue 
of offenses usually laid to the charge of slaves, viz : 
" impudence." This may mean almost anything, or 
nothing at all, just according to the caj^rice of the 
master or overseer, at the moment. But, whatever 
it is, or is not, if it gets the name of "impudence," the 
party charged with it is sure of a flogging. This of- 
fense may be committed in various ways ; in the tone 
of an answer ; in answering at all ; in not answering ; 
in the expression of countenance ; in the motion of 
the head ; in the gait, manner and bearing of the 
slave. In the case under consideration, I can easily 
believe that, according to all slaveholding standards, 
here was a genuine instance of impudence. In Nelly 
there were all the necessary conditions for committing 
the offense. She was a bright mulatto, the recognized 
wife of a favorite " hand" on board Col. Lloyd's sloop, 
and the mother of five sprightly children. She was 
a vigorous and spirited woman, and one of the most 
likely, on the plantation, to be guilty of impudence. 
My attention was called to the scene, by the noise, 
curses and screams that proceeded from it ; and, on 
going a little in that direction, I came upon the parties 
engaged in the skirmish. Mr. Sevier, the overseer, 
had hold of Nelly, when I caught sight of them ; he 


was endeavoring to drag lier toward a tree, which 
endeavor [N^elly was sternly resisting ; but to no pur- 
pose, except to retard the progress of the overseer's 
plans. jS^ellv — as I have said — was the mother of 
five children ; three of them were present, and though 
quite small, (from seven to ten years old, I should 
think,) they gallantly came to their mother's defense, 
and gave the overseer an excellent pelting with stones. 
One of the little fellows ran up, seized the overseer 
by the leg and bit him ; but the monster was too busily 
engaged with Xelly, to pay any attention to the as- 
saults of the children. There were numerous bloody 
marks on Mr. Sevier's face, when I first saw him, and 
they increased as the struggle went on. The imprints 
of Nelly's fingers were visible, and I was glad to see 
them. Amidst the wild screams of the children — 
" Let my mammy go^'' — " let my mammy go''' — there 
escaped, from between the teeth of the bullet-headed 
overseer, a few bitter curses, mingled with threats, 
that " he would teach the d — d b — h how to give a white 
man impudence." There is no doubt that I^elly felt 
herself superior, in some respects, to the slaves around 
her. She was a wife and a mother ; her husband was 
a valued and favorite slave. Besides, he was one of 
the first hands on board of the sloop, and the sloop 
hands — since they had to represent the plantation 
abroad — were generally treated tenderly. The over- 
seer never was allowed to whip Harry ; why then 
should he be allowed to whip Harry's wife? Thoughts 
of this kind, no doubt, influenced her ; but, for what- 
ever reason, she nobly resisted, and, unlike most of 
the slaves, seemed determined to make her whipping 


cost Mr. Sevier as miicli as possible. The blood on 
his (and her) face, attested her skill, as v\ ell as her 
courage and dexterity in using her nails. Maddened 
by her resistance, I expected to see Mr. Sevier level 
her to the ground by a stunning blow; but no ; like 
a savasre bull-door — which he resembled both in tern- 
per and appearance — he maintained his grip, and 
steadily dragged his victim toward the tree, disre- 
garding alike her blows, and the cries of the children 
for their mother's release. He would, doubtless, have 
knocked her dow^n with his hickory stick, but that 
such act might have cost him his place. It is often 
deemed advisable to knock a man slave down, in 
order to tie him, but it is considered cow^ardly and in- 
excusable, in an overseer, thus to deal with a woman. 
He is expected to tie her up, and to give her what is 
called, in southern parlance, a "genteel flogging," 
without any very great outlay of strength or skill. 1 
watched, with palpitating interest, the course of the 
preliminary struggle, and was saddened by every new 
advantage gained over her by the ruffian. There were 
times wdien she seemed likely to get the better of the 
brute, but he finally overpowered her, and succeeded 
in gettiug his rope around her arms, and in firmly ty- 
ing her to the tree, at which he had been aiming. This 
done, and l^elly was at the mercy of his merciless 
lash ; and now, what followed, I have no heart to de- 
scribe. The cowardly creature made good his every 
threat ; and wielded the lash with all the hot zest of 
furious revenge. The cries of the woman, while un- 
dergoing the terrible infliction, -were mingled with 
those of the children, sounds wdiich I hope the reader 


may never be called upon to bear. Wben I^elly was 
untied, ber back was covered witb blood. Tbe red 
stripes were all over ber sboiilders. Sbe was wbip- 
ped — severely wbipped ; but sbe was not subdued, 
for sbe continued to denounce tbe overseer, and to 
call bim every vile name. lie bad bruised ber flesb, 
but bad left ber invincible spirit undaunted. Sucb 
floggings are seldom repeated by tbe same overseer. 
Tbey prefer to wbip tbose wbo are most easily wbip- 
ped. Tbe old doctrine tbat submission is tbe best 
cure for outrage and wrong, does not bold good on tbe 
slave plantation. He is wbipped oftenest, wbo is 
wbipped easiest ; and tbat slave wbo bas tbe courage 
to stand up for bimself against tbe overseer, altbongb 
be may bave many bard stripes at tbe first, becomes, 
in tbe end, a freeman, even tbougb be sustain tbe for- 
mal relation of a slave. "You can sboot me but vou 
can't wbip me," said a slave to Rigby Hopkins ; and 
tbe result was tbat be was neitber wbipped not sbot. 
K tbe latter bad been bis fate, it would bave been less 
deplorable tban tbe living an(J lingering deatb to 
wbicb cowardly and slavisb souls are subjected. I do 
not know tbat Mr. Sevier ever undertook to wbip 
Nelly again. He probably never did, for it was not 
long after bis attempt to subdue ber, tbat be was taken 
sick, and died. Tbe w^retcbed man died as be bad 
lived, unrepentant ; and it was said — witb bow mucb 
trutb I know not — tbat in the very last bours of bis 
life, bis ruling passion sbowed itself, and tbat wben 
wrestling witb deatb, be was uttering borrid oaths, 
and flourisbing tbe cowskin, as tbougb be was tearing 
tbe flesb off some belpless slave. One tbing is cer- 


tain, that when he was in health, it was enough to 
chill the blood, and to stiffen the hair of an ordinary 
man, to hear Mr. Sevier talk. Nature, or his cruel 
habits, had given to his face an expression of unusual 
eavaofeness, even for a slave-driver. Tobacco and 
rage had worn his teeth short, and nearly every sen- 
tence that escaped their compressed grating, was com- 
menced or concluded with some outburst of profanity. 
His presence made the field alike the field of blood, 
and of blasphemy. Hated for his cruelty, despised 
for his cowardice, his death was deplored by no one 
outside his own house — if indeed it was deplored 
there ; it was regarded by the slaves as a merciful 
interposition of Providence. Never went there a man 
to the grave loaded with heavier curses. Mr. Sevier's 
place was promptly taken by a Mr. Hopkins, and the 
change was quite a relief, he being a very different 
man. He was, in all respects, a better man than his 
predecessor ; as good as any man can be, and yet be 
an overseer. His course was characterized by no ex- 
traordinary cruelty ; and when he whipj^ed a slave, 
as he sometimes did, he seemed to take no especial 
pleasure in it, but, on the contrary, acted as though 
he felt it to be a mean business. Mr. Hopkins stayed 
but a short time ; his place — much to the regret of 
the slaves generally — was taken by a Mr. Gore, of 
whom more will be said hereafter. It is enough, for the 
present, to say, that he was no improvement on Mr. 
Sevier, except that he was less noisy and less profane. 
I have already referred to the business-like aspect 
of Col. Lloyd's plantation. This business-like appear- 
ance was much increased on the two days at the end 


of each month, when the slaves from the different 
farms came to get then- montlilj allowance of meal 
and meat. These were gala days for the slaves, and 
there was much rivalry among them as to loho should 
be elected to go up to the great house farm for the al- 
lowance, and, indeed, to attend to any business at 
this, (for them,) the capitaL The beauty and gran- 
deur of the place, its numerous slave population, and 
the fact that Harry, Peter and Jake — the sailors of 
the sloop — almost always kept, privately, little trink- 
ets which they bought at Baltimore, to sell, made it 
a privilege to come to the great house farm. Being 
selected, too, for this office, was deemed a high honor. 
It was taken as a proof of confidence and favor ; but, 
probably, the chief motive of the competitors for the 
place, was, a desire to break the dull monotony of the 
field, and to get beyond the overseer's eye and lash. 
Once on the road with an ox team, and seated on 
the tongue of his cart, with no overseer to look after 
him, the slave was comparatively free ; and, if thought- 
ful, he had time to think. Slaves are generally ex- 
pected to sing as well as to work. ' A silent slave is 
not liked by masters or overseers. " Make a noise^'^ 
'^ make a noise^'' and ^'hear a liand^'' are the words 
usually addressed to the slaves when there is silence 
amongst them. This may account for the almost con- 
stant singing heard in the southern states,^ There 
was, generally, more or less singing among the team- 
sters, as it was one means of letting the overseer 
know where they were, and that they were moving 
on with the work. But, on allowance day, those who 
visited the great house farm were peculiarly excited 
E 7 


and noisy. While on tlieir way, tliey would make 
the dense old woods, for miles around, reverberate 
with their wild notes. These were not always merry 
because they were wild. On the contrary, they were 
mostly of a plaintive cast, and told a tale of grief 
and sorrow. In the most boisterous outbursts of rap- 
turous sentiment, there was ever a tinge of deep mel- 
ancholy. I have never heard any songs like those 
anywhere since I left slavery, except when in Ireland. 
There I heard the same wailing notes^ and was mucli 
affected by them. It was during the famine of lSi5-6. 
In all the songs of the slaves, there was ever some 
expression in praise of the great house farm ; some- 
thing which would flatter the pride of the owner, 
and, possibly, draw a favorable glance from him. 

"I am going away to the great house farm, 

Oyea! Oyea! O yea! 
My old master is a good old master, 

Oh yea! Oyea! O yea! " 

This they would sing, with other words of their 
own improvising — jargon to others, but full of mean- 
ing to themselves. I have sometimes thought, that 
the mere hearing of those songs would do more to im- 
press truly spiritual-minded men and women with the 
soul-crushing and death-dealing character of slavery, 
than the reading of whole volumes of its mere physi- 
cal cruelties. They speak to the heart and to the soul 
of the thoughtful. I cannot better express my sense 
of them now, than ten years ago, when, in sketch- 
ing my life, I thus spoke of this feature of my plan- 
tation experience : 


"I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meanings of 
those rude, and apparently incoherent songs. 1 was myself 
within the circle, so that I neither saw nor heard as those with- 
out might see and hear. They told a tale which was then al- 
together beyond my feeble comprehension ; they vrere tones, 
loud, long and deep, breathing the prayer and complaint of 
souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish. '"Every tone was 
a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliver 
ance from chains The hearing of those wild notes always de- 
pressed my spirits, and filled my heart with ineffable sadness. 
The mere recurrence, even now, afflicts my spirit, and while 1 
am writing these lines, my tears are falling. To those songs 1 
trace my first glimmering conceptions of the dehumanizing 
character of slavery. ^ I can never get rid of that conception. 
Those son^s still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, 
and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds. If any 
one wishes to be impressed with a sense of the soul-killing 
power of slavery, let him go to Col. Lloyd's plantation, and, 
on allowance day, place himself in the deep, pine woods, and 
there let him, in silence, thoughtfully analyze the sounds that 
shall pass through the chambers of his soul, and if he is not 
thus impressed, it will only be because 'there is no flesh in his 
obdurate heart.' " 

The remark is not imfrequently made, that sh^ves are 
the most contented and happy laborers in the world. 
They dance and sing, and make all manner of joyful 
noises — so they do ; but it is a great mistake to sup- 
pose them happy because they sing. The songs of 
the slave represent the sorrows, rather than the joys, 
of his heart ; and he is relieved by them, only as an 
aching heart is relieved by its tears. Such is the 
constitution of the human mind, that, when pressed 


to extremes, it often avails itself of the most opposite 
metliods. Extremes meet in mind as in matter. 
When the slaves on board of the " Pearl " were over- 
taken, arrested, and carried to prison — their hopes for 
freedom blasted — as they marched in chains they 
sang, and found (as Emily Edmunson tells us) a mel- 
ancholy relief in singing. The singing of a man cast 
away on a desolate island, might be as appropriately 
considered an evidence of his contentment and hap- 
piness, as the singing of a slave. Sorrow and deso- 
lation have their songs, as well as joy and peace. 
/Slaves sing more to onake themselves hapj)y, than to 
express their happiness. * 

It is the boast of slaveholders, that their slaves en- 
joy more of the physical comforts of life than the 
peasantry of any country in the world. My expe- 
rience contradicts this. The men and the w^omen 
slaves on Col. Lloyd's farm, received, as their monthly 
allow^ance of food, eight pounds of pickled pork, or 
their equivalent in fish. The pork was often tainted, 
and the fish was of the poorest quality — herrings, 
which would bring very little if offered for sale in 
any northern market. With their pork or fish, they 
had one bushel of Indian meal — unbolted — of which 
quite fifteen per cent, was fit only to feed pigs. AYith 
this, one pint of salt was given ; and this was the en- 
tire monthly allowance of a full grown slave, work- 
ing constantly in the open field, from morning until 
night, every day in the month except Sunday, and 
liviug on a fraction more than a quarter of a pound of 
meat per day, and less than a peck of corn-meal per 
week. There is no kind of work that a man can do 

THE slaves' food AND CLOTHING. 101. 

wliicli requires a better supply of food to prevent 
physical exhaustion, than the field-work of a slave. 
So much for the slave's allowance of food ; now for 
his raiment. The yearly allowance of clothing for 
the slaves on this plantation, consisted of two tow- 
linen shirts — such linen as the coarsest crash towels 
are made of; one pair of trowsers of the same mate- 
rial, for summer, and a pair of trowsers and a jacket 
of woolen, most slazily put together, for winter ; one 
pair of yarn stockings, and one pair of shoes of the 
coarsest description. The slave's entire apparel could 
not have cost more than eight dollars per year. The 
allowance of food and clothing for the little children, 
was committed to their mothers, or to the older slave- 
women having the care of them. Children who w^ere 
unable to work in the field, had neither shoes, stock- 
ings, jackets nor trowsers given them. Their clothing 
consisted of two coarse tow-linen shirts — already de- 
scribed — per year ; and when these failed them, as 
they often did, they went naked until the next allow- 
ance day. Flocks of little children from five to ten 
years old, might be seen on Col. Lloyd's plantation, 
as destitute of clothing as any little heathen on the 
west coast of Africa ; and this, not merely during the 
summer months, but during the frosty weather of 
March. The little girls were no better ofi" than the 
boys ; all were nearly in a state of nudity. 

As to beds to sleep on, they were known to none of 
the field hands ; nothing but a coarse blanket — not 
so good as those used in the north to cover horses — 
was given them, and this only to the men and women. 
The children stuck themselves in holes and cornersj 


about the quarters ; often in the corner of the huge 
chimneys, with their feet in the ashes to keep them 
warm. The want of beds, however, was not consid- 
ered a very great privation. Time to sleep was of 
far greater importance, for, when the day's work is 
done, most of the slaves have their washing, mending 
and cooking to do ; and, having few or none of the 
ordinary facilities for doing such things, very many 
of their sleeping hours are consumed in necessary 
preparations for the duties of the coming day. 

The sleeping apartments — if they may be called 
such — have little regard to comfort or decency. Old 
and young, male and female, married and single, drop 
dowm upon the common clay floor, each covering up 
w4th his or her blanket, — the only protection they 
have from cold or exposure. The night, however, is 
shortened at both ends. The slaves work often as 
long as they can see, and are late in cooking and 
mending for the coming day ; and, at the first gray 
streak of morning, they are summoned to the field 
by the driver's horn. 

More slaves are whipped for oversleeping than for 
any other fault. Xeither age nor sex finds any favor. 
The overseer stands at the quarter door, armed with 
stick and cowskin, ready to whip any who may be a 
few minutes behind time. When the horn is blown, 
there is a rush for the door, and the hindermost one is 
sure to get a blow from the overseer. Young mothers 
who worked in the field, were allowed an hour, about 
ten o'clock in the morning, to go home to nurse their 
children. Sometimes they were compelled to take 
their children with them, and to leave them in the 


corner of the fences, to prevent loss of time in nursing 
them. The overseer generally rides about the field 
on horseback. A cowskin and a hickory stick are 
his constant companions. The cowskin is a kind of 
whip seldom seen in the northern states. It is made 
entirely of untanned, but dried, ox hide, and is about 
as hard as a piece of well-seasoned live oak. It is 
made of various sizes, but the usual length is about 
three feet. The part held in the hand is nearly an 
inch in thickness ; and, from the extreme end of the 
butt or handle, the cowskin tapers its whole length to 
a point. This makes it quite elastic and springy. A 
blow with it, on the hardest back, will gash the flesh, 
and make the blood start. Cowskins are painted red, 
blue and green, and are the favorite slave whip. I 
think this whip worse than the " cat-o'-nine-tails." It 
condenses the whole strength of the arm to a single 
point, and comes with a spring that makes the air 
whistle. It is a terrible instrument, and is so handy, 
that the overseer can always have it on his person, and 
ready for use. The temptation to use it is ever strong ; 
and an overseer can^ if disposed, always have cause 
for using it. With him, it is literally a word and a 
blow, and, in most cases, the blow comes first. 

As a general rule, slaves do not come to the quar- 
ters for either breakfast or dinner, but take their " ash 
cake" with them, and eat it in the field. This was so 
on the home plantation ; probably, because the dis- 
tance from the quarter to the field, was sometimes two, 
and even three miles. 

The dinner of the slaves consisted of a huge piece 
of ash cake, and a small piece of pork, or two salt 


herrings. ITot having ovens, nor any suitable cook- 
ing utensils, the slaves mixed their meal with a little 
water, to such thickness that a spoon would stand 
erect in it ; and, after the wood had burned away to 
coals and ashes, they would place the dough between 
oak leaves and lay it carefully in the ashes, completely 
covering it ; hence, the bread is called ash cake. The 
surface of this peculiar bread is covered with ashes, to 
the depth of a sixteenth part of an inch, and the ashes, 
certainly, do not make it very grateful to the teeth, 
nor render it very palatable. The bran, or coarse 
part of the meal, is baked with the fine, and bright 
scales run through the bread. This bread, with its 
ashes and bran, would disgust and choke a northern 
man, but it is quite liked by the slaves. They eat it 
with avidity, and are more concerned about the quan- 
tity than about the quality. They are far too scantily 
provided for, and are worked too steadily, to be much 
concerned for the quality of their food. The few 
minutes allowed them at dinner time, after partaking 
of their coarse repast, are variously spent. Some lie 
down on the " turning row," and go to sleep ; others 
draw together, and talk ; and others are at work with 
needle and thread, mending their tattered garments. 
Sometimes you may hear a wild, hoarse laugh arise 
from a circle, and often a song. Soon, however, the 
overseer comes dashing through the field. " TumMe 
ujp ! Tumble uj^^ and to work^ worh^'' is the cry ; 
and, now, from twelve o'clock (mid-day) till dark, the 
human cattle are in motion, wielding their clumsy 
noes ; hurried on by no hope of reward, no sense of 
gratitude, no love of children, no prospect of bettering 


their condition ; nothing, save the dread and terror 
of the shive-driver's hish. So goes one daj, and so 
comes and goes another. 

But, let us now leave the rough usage of the field, 
where vulgar coarseness and brutal cruelty spread 
themselves and flourish, rank as weeds in the tropics ; 
where a vile wretch, in the shape of a man, rides, 
walks, or struts about, dealing blows, and leaving 
gashes on broken-spirited men and helpless women, 
for thirty dollars pei^ month — a business so horrible, 
hardening, and disgraceful, that, rather than engage 
in it, a decent man would blow his own brains out — 
and let the reader view with me the equally wicked, 
but less repulsive aspects of slave life ; where pride 
and pomp roll luxuriously at ease ; where the toil of a 
thousand men supports a single family in easy idle- 
ness and sin. This is the great house ; it is the home 
of the Lloyds ! Some idea of its splendor has already 
been given — and, it is here that we shall find that 
height of luxury which is the opposite of that depth 
of poverty and physical wretchedness that we have 
just now been contemplating. But, there is this dif- 
ference in the two extremes ; viz : that in the case of 
^he slave, the miseries and hardships of his lot are 
imposed by others, and, in the master's case, they are 
imposed by himself. The slave is a subject, subjected 
by others; the slaveholder is a subject, but he is the 
author of his own subjection. There is more truth in 
the saying, that slavery is a greater evil to the master 
than to the slave, than many, who utter it, suppose. 
The self-executing laws of eternal justice follow close 
on the heels- of the evil-doer here, as well as else- 


where ; making escape from all its penalties impossi- 
ble. But, let others philosophize ; it is my province 
here to relate and describe ; only allowing myself a 
word or two, occasionally, to assist the reader in the 
proper understanding of the facts narrated. 









The close-fisted stinginess tliat fed tlie poor slave 
on coarse corn-meal and tainted meat ; tliat clothed 
him in crashy tow-linen, and hnrried him on to toil 
through the field, in all weathers, with wind and rain 
beating throngh his tattered garments ; that scarcely 
gave even the yonng slave-mother time to nnrse her 
hungry infant in the fence corner ; wholly vanishes on 
approaching the sacred precincts of the great house, 
the home of the Lloyds. There the scriptural phrase 
finds an exact illustration; the highly favored in- 
mates of this mansion are literally arrayed "in purple 
and fine linen," and fare sumptuously every day ! The 
table groans under the heavy and blood-bought luxu- 
ries gathered with pains-taking care, at home and 
abroad. Fields, forests, rivers and seas, are made tri- 
butary here. Immense wealth, and its lavish expen- 
diture, fill the great house with all that can please the 


eye, or tempt the taste. Here, appetite, not food, is 
the great desideratum. Fish, flesh and fowl, are here 
in profusion. Chickens, of all breeds ; ducks, of all 
kinds, wild and tame, the common, and the huge Mus- 
covite ; Guinea fowls, turkeys, geese, and pea fowls, 
are in their several pens, fat and fatting for the des- 
tined vortex. The graceful swan, the mongrels, the 
black-necked wild goose ; partridges, quails, pheasants 
and pigeons ; choice water fowl, with all their strange 
varieties, are caught in this huge family net. Beef, 
veal, mutton and venison, of the most select kinds and 
quality, roll bounteously to this grand consumer. The 
teeming riches of the Chesapeake bay, its rock, perch, 
drums, crocus, trout, oysters, crabs, and terrapin, are 
drawn hither to adorn the glittering table of the great 
house. The dairy, too, probably the finest on the 
Eastern Shore of Maryland — supplied by cattle of the 
best English stock, imported for the jDurpose, pours 
its rich donations of fragrant cheese, golden butter, 
and delicious cream, to heighten the attraction of the 
gorgeous, unending round of feasting. Nor are the 
fruits of the earth foro^otten or neo^lected. The fertile 
garden, many acres in size, constituting a separate 
establishment, distinct from the common farm — with 
its scientific gardener, imported from Scotland, (a Mr. 
McDermott,) with four men under his direction, was 
not behind, either in the abundance or in the delicacy 
of its contributions to the same full board. The ten- 
der asparagus, the succulent celery, and the delicate 
cauliflower ; ^^g plants, beets, lettuce, parsnips, peas, 
and French beans, early and late ; radislies, cantelopcs, 
melons of all kinds ; the fruits and flowers of all 


climes and of all descriptions, from the hardy apple 
of the north, to the lemon and orange of the south, 
culminated at this point. Baltimore gathered figs, 
raisins, almonds and juicy grapes from S23ain. AVines 
and brandies from France ; teas of various flavor, 
from China ; and rich, aromatic coffee from Java, all 
conspired to swell the tide of high life, where pride 
and indolence rolled and lounged in magnificence and 

Behind the tall-backed and elaborately wrought 
chairs, stand the servants, men and maidens — fifteen 
in number — discriminately selected, not only with a 
view to their industry and faithfulness, but with spe- 
cial regard to their personal appearance, their grace- 
ful agility and captivating address. Some of these 
are armed with fans, and are fanning reviving breezes 
toward the over-heated brows of the alabaster ladies ; 
others watch with eager eye, and with fawn-like step 
anticipate and supply, wants before they are sufii- 
ciently formed to be announced by word or sign. 

These servants- constituted a sort of black aristoc- 
racy on Col. Lloyd's plantation. They resembled the 
field hands in nothing, except in color, and in this 
they held the advantage of a velvet-like glossiness, 
rich and beautiful. The hair, too, showed the same 
advantage. The delicate colored maid rustled in the 
scarcely worn silk of her young mistress, while the 
servant men were equally well attired from the over- 
flowing wardrobe of their young masters ;, so that, in 
dress, as well as in form and feature, in manner aud 
speech, in tastes and habits, the distance between 
these favored few, and the sorrow and hunger-smitten 


miiltitndes of the quarter and the field, was immense ; 
and this is seldom passed over. 

Let us now glance at the stables and the carriage 
honse, and we shall find the same evidences of pride 
and luxurious extravagance. Here are three splendid 
coaches, soft within and lustrous without. Here, too, 
are gigs, phsetons, barouches, sulkeys and sleighs. 
Here are saddles and harnesses — beautifully wrought 
and silver mounted — kept with every care. In the 
stable you will find, kept only for pleasure, full thirty- 
five horses, of the most approved blood for speed and 
beauty. There are two men here constantly employed 
in taking care of these horses. One of these men 
must be always in the stable, to answer every call 
from the great house. Over the way from the stable, 
is a house built expressly for the hounds — a pack of 
twenty-five or thirty — whose fare would have made 
glad the heart of a dozen slaves. Horses and hounds 
are not the only consumers of the slave's toil. There 
was practiced, at the Lloyd's, a hospitality which 
would have astonished and charmed any health-seek- 
ing northern divine or merchant, who might have 
chanced to share it. Yiewed from his own table, and 
not from the field, the colonel was a model of gener- 
ous hospitality. His house was, literally, a hotel, for 
weeks during the summer months. At these times, 
es^Decially, the air was freighted with the rich fumes 
of baking, boiling, roasting and broiling. The odors 
I shared with the winds ; but the meats were under a 
more stringent monopoly — except that, occasionally, 
I got a cake from Mas' Daniel. In Mas' Daniel I had 
a friend at court, from whom I learned many things 


vrliicli my eager curiosity was excited to know. I 
always knew when company was expected, and who 
they were, although I was an outsider, beiug the prop- 
erty, not of Col. Lloyd, but of a servant of the 
wealthy colonel. On these occasions, all that pride, 
taste and money could do, to dazzle and charm, was 

Who could say that the servants of Col. Lloyd were 
not well clad and cared for, after witnessing one of 
his magnificent entertainments? Who could say that 
they did not seem to glory in being the slaves of such 
a master? Who, but a fanatic, could get up any sym- 
pathy for persons whose every movement was agile, 
easy and graceful, and who evinced a consciousness 
of high superiority ? And who would ever venture 
to suspect that Col. Lloyd was subject to the troubles 
of ordinary mortals ? Master and slave seem alike in 
their glory here? Can it all be seeming? Alas! it 
may only be a sham at last ! This immense wealth ; 
this gilded splendor ; this profusion of luxury ; this 
exemption from toil ; this life of ease ; this sea of 
plenty ; aye, what of it all ? Are the pearly gates 
of happiness and sweet content flung o]3en to such 
suitors ? far from it ! The poor slave, on his hard, 
pine plank, but scantily covered with his thin blanket, 
sleeps more soundly than the feverish voluptuary who 
reclines upon his feather bed and downy pillow. 
Food, to the indolent lounger, is poison, not sustenance. 
Lurking beneath all their dishes, are invisible spirits 
of evil, ready to feed the self-deluded gormandizers 
with aches, pains, fierce temper, uncontrolled pas- 
sions, dyspepsia, rheumatism, lumbago and gout ; and 


of these the Lloyds got their full share. To the pam- 
pered love of ease, there is no resting place. What 
is pleasant to-day, is repulsive to-morrow ; what is 
soft now, is hard at another time ; what is sweet in 
the morning, is bitter in the evening. Xeither to the 
wicked, nor to the idler, is there any solid peace : 
*' Troubled^ like the 'restless seaP 

I had excellent opportunities of witnessing the rest- 
less discontent and the capricious irritation of the 
Lloyds. My fondness for horses — not peculiar to me 
more than to other boys — attracted me, much of tlie 
time, to the stables. This establishment was espe- 
cially under the care of "old " and "young " Barney — 
father and son. Old Barney was a fine looking old 
man, of a brownish complexion, who was quite portly, 
and wore a dignified aspect for a slave. He was, ev- 
idently, much devoted to his profession, and held his 
ofiice an honorable one. He was a farrier as well as 
an ostler ; he could bleed, remove lampers from the 
mouths of the horses, and was well instructed in horse 
medicines. No one on the farm knew, so well as Old 
Barney, what to do w^ith a sick horse. But his gifts 
and acquirements were of little advantage to him. 
His office was l>y no means an enviable one. He 
often got presents, but he got stripes as well ; for in 
nothing was Col. Lloyd more unreasonable and ex- 
acting, than in respect to tlie management of his pleas- 
ure horses. Any supposed inattention to tliese ani- 
mals was sure to be visited with degrading punish- 
ment. His horses and dogs fared better than his 
men. Their beds must be softer and cleaner than 
those of his human cattle. Xo excuse could shield 


Old Barney, if the colonel only suspected something 
wrong about his horses ; and, consequently, he was 
often punished when faultless. It was absolutely 
painful to listen to the many unreasonable and fretful 
scoldings, poured out at the stable, by Col. Lloyd, his 
sons and sons-in-law. Of the latter, he had three — ■ 
Messrs. Nicholson, Winder and Lownes. These all 
lived at the great house a portion of the year, and en- 
joyed the luxury of whipping the servants when they 
pleased, which was by no means unfrequently. A 
horse was seldom brought out of the stable to which no 
objection could be raised. "There was dust in his 
hair ; " " there was a twist in his reins ; " " his mane 
did not lie straight ; " " he had not been properly 
grained ; " " his head did not look well ; " " his fore- 
top was not combed out ; " " his fetlocks had not been 
properly trimmed ; " something was always wrong. 
Listening to complaints, however groundless, Barney 
must stand, hat in hand, lips sealed, never answering 
a word. He must make no reply, no explanation • 
the judgment of the master must be deemed infalli- 
ble, for his power is absolute and irresponsible. '^In a 
free state, a master, thus complaining without cause, 
of his ostler, might be told — " Sir, I am sorry I cannot 
please you, but, since I have done the best I can, your 
remedy is to dismiss me." Here, however, the ostler 
must stand, listen and tremblo-- ^One of the most 
heart-saddening and humiliating scenes I ever wit- 
nessed, was the whipping of Old Barney, by Col. 
Lloyd himself. Here were two men, both advanced 
in years; there were the silvery locks of Col. L., and 
there was the bald and toil-worn brow of Old Barney | 



master and slave; superior and inferior here, bnt 
equals at the bar of God ; and, in the common course 
of events, they must both soon meet in another world, 
in a world where all distinctions, except those based on 
obedience and disobedience, are blotted out forever. 
" Uncover your head ! " said the imperious master ; 
he was obeyed. "Take off your jacket, you old ras- 
cal ! " and off came Barney's jacket. " Down on your 
knees ! " down knelt the old man, his shoulders bare, 
his bald head glistening in the sun, and his aged knees 
on the cold, damp ground. In this humble and deba- 
sing attitude, the master — tliat master to wliom he had 
given the best years and the best strejigth of his life — - 
came forward, and laid on thirty lashes, with his horse 
whip. The old man bore it patiently, to the last, an- 
swering each blow with a slight shrug of the shoulders, 
and a groan. I cannot think that Col. Lloyd succeed- 
ed in marring the flesh of Old Barney very seriously, 
for the whip was a light, riding whip; but the spectacle 
of an aged man — a husband and a father — humbly 
kneeling before a worm of the dust, surprised and 
shocked me at the time ; and since I have grov/n old 
enough to think on the wickedness of slavery, few facts 
have been of more value to me than this, to wdiich I 
was a witness. It reveals slavery in its true color, 
and in its maturity of repulsive hatefnlness. I owe it 
to truth, however, to say, that this was the flrst and 
the last time I ever saw Old Barney, or any other 
slave, compelled to kneel to receive a whipping.^ 

I saw, at the stable, another incident, which I will 
relate, as it is illustrative of a phase of slavery to which 
I have already referred in another connection. Be- 


sides two otlier coachmen, Col. Lloyd owned one 
named William, who, strangely enough, was often 
called by his surname, Wilks, by white and colored 
people on the home plantation. Wilks was a very 
fine looking man. He was about as white as anybody 
on the plantation ; and in manliness of form, and 
comeliness of features, he bore a very striking resem- 
blance to Mr. Mr.rray Lloyd. It was whispered, and 
pretty generally admitted as a tact, that William 
Wilks was a son of Col. Lloyd, by a highly favored 
slave- woman, who was still on the plantation. There 
were many reasons for believing this whisper, not 
only in William's appearance, but in the undeniable 
freedom which he enjoyed over all others, and his»ap- 
parent consciousness of being something more than a 
slave to his master. It was notorious, too, that Wil- 
liam had a deadly enemy in Murray Lloyd, whom he 
so much resembled, and that the latter greatly wor- 
ried his father with importunities to sell William. 
Indeed, he gave his father no rest until he did sell 
him, to Austin Woldfolk, the great slave-trader at 
that time. Before selliug him, however, Mr. L. tried 
what giving William a whipping would do, toward 
making things smooth ; but this was a failure. It 
was a compromise, and defeated itself; for, immedi- 
ately after the infliction, the heart-sickened colonel 
atoned to William for the abuse, by giving him a gold 
watch and chain. Another fact, somewhat curious, 
is, that though sold to the remorseless Woldfolk^ ta- 
ken in irons to Baltimore and cast into prison, with a 
view to being driven to the south, William, by some 
means — always a mystery to me — outbid all his pur- 


chasers, paid for himself, and now resides in JBalti- 
Tnore^ a freeman. Is there not room to suspect, that, 
as the gold watch was presented to atone for the whip- 
ping, a pnrse of gold was given him by the same 
hand, with which to effect his purchase, as an atone- 
ment for the indignity involved in selling his own 
flesh and blood. All the circumstances of William, 
on the great house farm, show him to have occupied 
a different position from the other slaves, and, cer- 
tainly, there is nothing in the supposed hostility of 
slaveholders to amalgamation, to forbid the supposi- 
tion that William Wilks was the son of Edward 
Lloyd. Practical amalgamation is common in ev- 
ery, neighborhood where I have been in slavery. 

Col. Lloyd was not in the way of knowing much 
of the real opinions and feelings of his slaves respect- 
ing him. The distance between him and them was 
far too great to admit of such knowledge. His 
slaves were so numerous, that he did not know them 
when he saw them. Nor, indeed, did all his slaves 
know him. In this respect, he was inconveniently 
rich. . It is reported of him, that, while riding along 
the road one day, he met a colored man, and ad- 
dresssed him in the usual way of speaking to colored 
people on the publichighways of the south : "Well, 
boy, who do you belong to ? " " To Col. Lloyd," re- 
plied the slave. " Well, does the colonel treat you 
well ? " " Xo, sir," was the ready reply. " What ! 
does he work you too hard ? " " Yes, sir." " Well, 
don't he give enough to eat ? " " Yes, sir, he gives 
me enough, such as it is." The colonel, after ascer- 
taining where the slave belonged, rode on ; the slave 


also went on about his business, not dreaming tliat he 
had been conversing with his master. He thought, 
said and heard nothing more of the matter, until 
two or- three weeks afterwards. The poor man was 
then informed by his overseer, that, for having found 
fault with his master, he was now to be sold to a 
Georgia trader. He was immediately chained and 
handcuffed ; and thus, without a moment's warning 
he was snatched away, and forever sundered from 
his family and friends, by a hand more unrelenting 
than that of death. This is the penalty of telling the 
simple truth, in answer to a series of plain ques- 
tions. It is partly in consequence of such facts, that 
slaves, when inquired of as to their condition and 
the character of their masters, almost invariably say 
they are contented, and that their masters are kind.. 
Slaveholders have been known to send spies among 
their slaves, to ascertain, if possible, their views 
and feelin2:s in reo:ard to their condition. The fre- 
quency of this has had the effect to establish among 
the slaves the maxim, that a still tongue makes a 
wise head. Tliey suppress the truth rather than take 
the consequence of telling it, and, in so doing, they 
prove themselves a part of the human family. If 
they have anything to say of their master, it is, gen- 
erally, something in his favor, especially when speak- 
ing to strangers. I was frequently asked, while a 
slave, if I had a kind master, and I do not remem- 
ber ever to have given a negative reply. jSTor did I, 
when pursuing this course, consider myself as utter- 
ing what was utterly false ; for I always measured 
the kindness of my master by the standard of kind- 


Bess set up by slaveliolders around ns. However, 
slaves are like other people, and imbibe similar pre- 
judices. They are apt to think their condition bet- 
ter than that of others. Many, under the intinence of 
this prejudice, think their own masters are better 
than the masters of other slaves ; and this, too, in 
some cases, when the very reverse is true. Indeed, 
it is not uncommon for slaves even to fall out and 
quarrel among themselves about the relative kindness 
of their masters, each contending for the superior 
goodness of his own over that of others. At the very 
same time, they mutually execrate their masters, 
when viewed separately. It v/as so on our plantation. 
When Col. Lloyd's slaves met those of Jacob Jepson, 
they seldom parted without a quai'rel about their 
masters ; Col. Lloyd's slaves contending that he was 
the richest, and Mr. Jepson's slaves that he was the 
smartest, man of the two. Col. Lloyd's slaves would 
boast his ability to buy and sell Jacob Jepson ; Mr. 
Jepson's slaves would boast his ability to whip Col. 
Lloyd. These quarrels would almost always end in a 
light between the parties ; those that beat were sup- 
posed to have gained the point at issue. They 
seemed to think that the greatness of their masters 
was transferable to themselves. To be a slave, was 
thought to be bad enough ; but to be a ])oor man's 
slave, was deemed a disgrace, indeed. 









As I have already intimated elsewhere, the slaves 
on Col. Lloyd's plantation, whose hard lot, under Mr. 
Sevier, the reader has already noticed and deplored, 
were not permitted to enjoy the comparatively mod- 
erate rule of Mr. Hopkins. The latter was succeeded 
by a very different man. The name of the new over- 
seer was Austin Gore. Upon this individual I would 
fix particular attention; for under his rule there was 
more sufferino; from violence and bloodshed than had 
— according to the older slaves — ever been experi- 
enced before on this plantation. I confess, I hardly 
know how to bring this man fitly before the reader, 
lie was, it is true, an overseer, and possessed, to a 
large extent, the peculiar characteristics of his class ; 
yet, to call him merely an overseer, would not give 
the reader a fair notion of the man. I speak of over- 
seers as a class. They are such. They are as dis- 
tinct from the slaveholding gentry of the south, as are 
the fish-women of Paris, and the coal-heavers of Lon- 


don, distinct from other members of society. They 
constitute a separate fraternity at the south, not less 
marked than is the fraternity of Fark lane bullies in 
Kew York. They have been arranged and classified 
by that great law of attraction, which determines the 
spheres and afiinities of men; which ordains, that 
men, whose malign and brutal propensities predomi- 
nate over their moral and intellectual endowments, 
shall, naturally, fall into those employments which 
promise the largest gratification to tiiose predomina- 
ting instincts or propensities. The ofiice of overseer 
takes this raw material of vulgarity and brutality, and 
stamps it as a distinct class of southern society. But, 
in this class, as in all other classes, there are charac- 
ters of marked individuality, even while they bear a 
general resemblance to the mass. Mr. Gore was one 
of those, to whom a general characterization would do 
no manner of justice. He was an overseer; but he 
was something more. With the malign and tyranni- 
cal qualities of an overseer, he combined something 
of the lawful master. He had the artfulness and the 
mean ambition of his class; but he was wholly free 
from the disgusting swagger and noisy bravado of his 
fraternity. There was an easy air of independence 
about him ; a calm self-possession, and a sternness of 
glance, which might well daunt hearts less timid than 
those of poor slaves, accustomed from childhood and 
through life to cower before a driver's lash. The 
home plantation of Col. Lloyd aftbrded an ample field 
for the exercise of the qualifications for overseership, 
which he possessed in such an eminent degree. 
Mr. Gore was one of those overseers, who could 


torture the slightest word or look into impudence ; lie 
had the nerve, not only to resent, but to punish, 
promptly and severely. He never allowed himself 
to be answered back, by a slave. In this, he was as 
lordly and as imperious as Col. Edward Lloyd, him- 
self; acting always up to the maxim, practically 
maintained by slaveholders, that it is better that a 
dozen slaves suffer under the lash, without fault, than 
that the master or the overseer should seem to have 
been wrong in the presence of the slave. Everything 
must he absolute here. Guilty or not guilty, it is 
enough to be accused, to be sure of a flogging. The 
very presence of this man Gore was painful, and I 
shunned him as I would have shunned a rattlesnake. 
His piercing, black eyes, and sharp, shrill voice, ever 
awakened sensations of terror among the slaves. For 
so young a man, (I describe him as he was, twenty- 
five or thirty years ago,) Mr. Gore was singularly 
reserved and grave in the presence of slaves. He 
indulged in no jokes, said no funny things, and kept 
his own counsels. Other overseers, how brutal soever 
they might be, were, at times, inclined to gain favor 
with the slaves, by indulging a little pleasantry ; but 
Gore was never known to be guilty of any such weak- 
ness. He was always the cold, distant, unapproacha- 
ble overseer of Col. Edward Lloyd's plantation, and 
needed no higher pleasure than was involved in a 
faithful discharge of the duties of his office. When 
he whipped, he seemed to do so from a sense of duty, 
and feared no consequences. What Hopkins did 
reluctantly, Gore did with alacrity. There was 'a 
stern will, an iron-like reality, about this Gore, which 


would have easily made liim the chief of a band of 
pirates, had his environments been favorable to such 
a course of life. x\ll the coolness, savage barbarity 
and freedom from moral restraint, which are necessary 
in the character of a pirate-chief, centered, I think, in 
tliis man Gore. Among many other deeds of shock- 
ing cruelty which he perpetrated, while I was at Mr. 
Lk>yd's, was the murder of a young colored man, 
named Denby. He was sometimes called Bill Denby, 
or Demby ; (I write from sound, and the sounds on 
Lloyd's plantation are not very certain.) I knew him 
well. He was a powerful young man, full of animal 
spirits, and, so far as I know, he was among the most 
valuable of Col. Lloyd's slaves. Li something — I 
know not w^hat — he offended this Mr. Austin Gore, 
and, in accordance with the custom of the latter, he 
undertook to ^og him. He gave Denby but few 
stripes; the latter broke away from him and plunged 
into the creek, and, standing there to the depth of his 
neck in water, he refused to come out at the order of 
the overseer; whereupon, for this refusal, Got^e shot 
him dead! It is said that Gore gave Denby three 
calls, telling him that if he did not obey the last call, 
he would shoot him. When the third call was given, 
Denby stood his ground lirmly ; and this raised the 
question, in the minds of the by-standing slaves — 
" will he dare to shoot V Mr. Gore, without further 
parley, and without making any further effort to in- 
duce Denby to come out of the water, raised his gun 
deliberately to his face, took deadly aim at his stand- 
ing victim, and, in an instant, poor Denby was num- 
bered with the dead. His mangled body sank out of 


sight, and only his vv^arm, red blood marked the place 
where he had stood. 

This devilish outrage, this fiendish murder, produ- 
ced, as it was well calculated to do, a tremendous sen- 
sation. A thrill of horror flashed through every soul 
on the plantation, if I may except the guilty wretch 
who had committed the hell-black deed. While the 
slaves generally were panic-struck, and howling with 
alarm, the murderer himself was calm and collected, 
and appeared as though nothing unusual had happened. 
The atrocity roused my old master, and he spoke out, 
in reprobation of it ; but the whole thing proved to 
be less than a nine days' wonder. Both Col. Lloyd 
and my old master arraigned Gore for his cruelty in 
the matter, but this amounted to nothing. His reply, 
or explanation — as I remember to have heard it at the 
time — was, that the extraordinary expedient was de- 
manded by necessity ; that Denby had become un- 
manageable ; that he had set a dangerous example 
to the other slaves ; and that, without some such 
prompt measure as that to which he had resorted, 
were adopted, there would be an end to all rule and 
order on the plantation. That very convenient covert 
for all manner of cruelty and outrage — that cowardly 
alarm-cry, that the slaves would " take the place^'' 
was pleaded, in extenuation of this revolting crime, 
just as it had been cited in defense of a thousand 
similar ones. lie argued, that if one slave refused to 
be corrected, and was allowed to escape with his life, 
when he had been told that he should lose it if he 
persisted in his course, the other slaves would soon 
copy his example ; the result of which would be, the 


freedom of tlie slaves, and tlie enslavement of tlie 
whites. I have every reason to believe that Mr. 
Gore's defense, or explanation, was deemed satisfac- 
tory — at least to Col. Lloyd. He was continued in his 
oflice on the plantation. His fame as an overseer 
went abroad, and his horrid crime was not even sub- 
mitted to judicial investigation. The murder was 
committed in the presence of slaves, and they, of 
course, could neither institute a suit, nor testify 
against the murderer. His bare word would go further 
in a court of law, than the united testimony of ten 
thousand black witnesses. 

All that Mr. Gore had to do, was to make his peace 
with Col. Lloyd. This done, and the guilty perpetra- 
tor of one of the most foul murders goes unwhipped 
of justice, and uncensured by the community in which 
he lives. Mr. Gore lived in St. Michael's, Talbot 
county, when I left Maryland ; if he is still alive he 
probably yet resides there ; and I have no reason to 
doubt that he is now as highly esteemed, and as greatly 
respected, as though his gnilty soul had never been 
stained with innocent blood. I am well aware that 
what I have now written will by some be branded as 
false and malicious. It will be denied, not only that 
such a thing ever did transpire, as I have now narra- 
ted, but that such a thing could happen in Maryland. 
I can only say — believe it or not — that I have said 
notliing but the literal truth, gainsay it who may. 

I speak advisedly when I say this, — that killing a 
slave, or any colored person, in Talbot county, Mary- 
land, is not treated aiS a crime, either by the courts or 
the community. Mr Thomas Lanman, ship carpenter, 


of St. Michael's, killed two slaves, one of wliom lie 
butchered with a hatchet, bj knocking his brains out. 
He used to boast of the commission of the awful and 
bloody deed. I have heard him do so, laughingly, 
saying, among other things, that he was the only bene- 
factor of his country in the company, and that when 
" others would do as much as he had done, we should 
be relieved of the d — d niggers." 

As an evidence of the reckless disregard of human 
life — where the life is that of a slave — I may state the 
notorious fact, that the wife of Mr. Giles Plicks, who 
lived but a short distance from Col. Lloyd's, with her 
own hands murdered my wife's cousin, a young girl 
between fifteen and sixteen years of age — mutilating 
her person in a most shocking manner. The atrocious 
woman, in the paroxysm of her wi'ath, not content with 
murdering her victim, literally mangled her face, and 
broke her breast bone. Wild, however, and infuria- 
ted as she was, she took the precaution to cause the 
slave-girl to be buried ; but the facts of the case com- 
ing abroad, very speedily led to the disinterment of 
the remains of the murdered slave-girl. A coroner's 
jury was assembled, who decided that the girl had 
come to her death by severe beating. It was ascer- 
tained that the offense for which this girl was thus 
hurried out of the world, was this : she had been set 
that night, and several preceding nights, to mind Mrs. 
Hicks's baby, and having fallen into a sound sleep, 
the baby cried, waking Mrs. Hicks, but not the slave- 
girl. Mrs. Hicks, becoming infuriated at the girl's tar- 
diness, after calling her several times, jumped from 
her bed and seized a piece of fire-wood from the fire- 


place ; and then, as she lay fast aslec};, she deliber- 
ately pounded in her skull and breast-bone, and thus 
ended her life. I will not say that this most horrid 
murder produced no sensation in the community. It 
did produce a sensation ; but, incredible to tell, the 
moral sense of the community was blunted too entire- 
ly by the ordinary nature of slaver}^ horrors, to bring 
the murderess to punishment. A warrant was issued 
for her arrest, but, for some reason or other, that war- 
rant was never served. Thus did Mrs. Hicks not only 
escape condign punishment, but even the pain and 
mortification of being arraigned before a court of 

Whilst I am detailing the bloody deeds that took 
place during my stay on Col. Lloyd's plantation, I 
will briefly narrate another dark transaction, which 
occurred about the same time as the murder of Denby 
by Mr. Gore. 

On the side of the river Wye, opposite from Col. 
Lloyd's, there lived a Mr. Beal Bondley, a w^ealthy 
slaveholder. In the direction of his land, and near 
the shore, there was an excellent oyster fishing ground, 
and to this, some of the slaves of Col Lloyd occasion- 
ally resorted in their little canoes, at night, with a 
view to make up the deficiency of their scanty allow- 
ance of food, by the oysters tliat they could easily get 
there. This, Mr, Bondley took it into his head to re- 
ojard as a trespass, and while an old man belono-ino- to 
Col. Lloyd was engaged in catching a few of the many 
millions of oysters that lined the bottom of that creek, 
to satisfy his hunger, the villainous Mr. Bondley, Iv- 
ing in ambush, without the slightest ceremony, dis- 


charged the contents of his mnsket into the back and 
shoulders of the poor okl man. As good fortune 
would have it, the shot did not prove mortal, and Mr. 
Bondley came over, the next day, to see Col. Lioyd — 
Vvdiether to pay him for his property, or to justify him- 
self for what he had done, I know not ; but this I can 
say, the cruel and dastardly transaction was speedily 
hushed up ; there was very little said about it at all, 
and nothing was publicly done which looked like the 
application of the princij^le of justice to. the man whom 
chance^ only, saved from being an actual murderer. 
One of the commonest sayings to which my ears early 
became accustomed, on Col. Lloyd's plantation and 
elsewhere in Maryland, was, that it was " worth hut 
half a cent to hill a nigger^ and a half a cent to hury 
?iim ;^'' and the facts of my experience go far to justify 
the practical truth of this strange proverb. Laws for 
the protection of the lives of the slaves, are, as they 
must needs be, utterly incapable of being enforced, 
where the very parties who are nominally protected, 
are not permitted to give evidence, in courts of law, 
against the only class of persons from whom abuse, 
outrage and murder might be reasonably apprehended. 
While I heard of num^erous murders committed by 
slaveholders on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I 
never knew a solitary instance in which a slaveholder 
was either hung or imprisoned for having murdered 
a slave. The usual pretext for killing a slave is, that 
the slave has offered resistance. Should a slave, 
when assaulted, but raise his hand in self-defense, the 
white assaulting party is fully justified by southern, 
or Maryland, public opinion, in shooting the slavo 


down. Sometimes this is done, simply because it is 
alleged tliat the slave has been saucj. But here I 
leave this phase of the society of my early childhood, 
and will relieve the kind reader of these heart-sicken- 
ing details. 


pePwSOjS'al treatment of the author. 









I HAVE notliing cruel or shocking to relate of my 
own personal experience, while I remained on Col. 
Lloyd's plantation, at the home of my old master. 
An occasional cuff from Aunt Katy, and a regular 
whipping from old master, such as any heedless and 
mischievous boy might get from his father, is all that 
I can mention of this sort. I was not old enouo^h to 
work in the field, and, there being little else than 
field work to perform, I had much leisure. The most 
I had to do, was, to drive up the cows in the evening, 
to keep the front yard clean, and to perform small er- 
rands for my young mistress, Lucretia Auld. I have 
reasons for thinking this lady was very kindly dis- 
posed toward me, and, although I was not often the 
object of her attention, I constantly regarded her 
as my friend, and was always glad when it was my 
privilege to do her a service. In a family where there 
F* 9 


was SO mucli that was harsh, cold and indifferent, the 
slightest word or look of kindness passed, with me, 
for its full value. Miss Lucretia — as we all continued 
to call her long after her marriage — had bestowed 
upon me such words and looks as taught me that she 
pitied me, if she did not love me. In addition to 
words and looks, she sometimes gave me a piece of 
bread and butter ; a thing not set down in the bill of 
fare, and which must have been an extra ration, 
planned aside from either Aunt Xaty or old master, 
solely out of the tender regard and friendship she had 
for me. Then, too, I one day got into the wars with 
Uncle Abel's son, " Ike," and had got sadly worsted ; 
in fact, the little rascal had struck me directly in the 
forehead with a sharp piece of cinder, fused with iron, 
from the old blacksmith's forge, which made a cross 
in my forehead very plainly to be seen now. The 
gash bled very freely, and I roared very loudly and 
betook myself home. The cold-hearted Aunt Katy 
paid no attention either to my wound or my roaring, 
except to tell me it served me right ; I had no bu- 
siness with Ike ; it was good for me ; I would now 
keep away ^''froin dem Lloyd niggersP Miss Lucre- 
tia, in this state of the case, camje forward ; and, in 
quite a different spirit from that manifested by Aunt 
Katy, she called me into the parlor, (an extra privi- 
lege of itself,) and, without using toward me any of 
the hard-hearted and reproachful epithets of my 
kitchen tormentor, she quietly acted the good Sama- 
ritan. With her own soft hand she washed the blood 
from my head and face, fetched her own balsam bot- 
tle, and with the balsam wetted a nice piece of white 


linen, and bound up my head. Tlie balsam was not 
more healing to the wound in my head, than her kind- 
ness was healing to the wounds in my spirit, made by 
the unfeeling words of Aunt Katy. After this, Miss 
Lucretia was my friend. I felt her to be such ; and I 
have no doubt that the simple act of binding up my 
head, did much to awaken in her mind an interest in 
my welfare. It is quite true, that this interest was 
never very marked, and it seldom showed itself in 
anything more than in giving me a piece of bread 
when I was very hungry ; but this was a great favor 
on a slave plantation, and I was the only one of the 
children to whom such attention was paid. When 
yery hungry, I would go into the back yard and play 
under Miss Lucretia's window. When pretty se- 
verely pinched by hunger, I had a habit of singing, 
which the good lady very soon came to understand 
as a petition for a piece of bread. When I sung un- 
der Miss Lucretia's window, I was yery apt to get 
well paid for my music. The reader will see that I 
now had two friends, both at important points — Mas' 
Daniel at the great house, and Miss Lucretia at home. 
From Mas' Daniel I got protection from the bigger 
boys ; and from Miss Lucretia I got bread, by sing- 
ing when I was hungry, and sympathy when I was 
abused by that termagant, who had the reins of gov- 
ernment in the kitchen. For such friendship I felt 
deeplj^ gratefid, and bitter as are my recollections of 
slavery, I love to recall any instances of kindness, any 
sunbeams of humane treatment, which found way to 
my soul through the iron grating of my house of 
bondage. Such beams seem all the brighter from 


the general darkness into whicii tliey penetrate, and 
the impression they make is vividly distinct and 

As I have before intimated, I was seldom whipped 
— and never severely — by my old master. I sufiered 
little from the treatment I received, except from hun- 
ger and cold. These were my two great physical 
troubles- I could neither get a sufficiency of food nor 
of clothing ; but I suffered less from hunger than from 
cold. In hottest summer and coldest winter, I was 
kept almost in a state of nudity ; no slioes, no stock- 
ings, no jacket, no trowsers ; nothing but coarse sack- 
cloth or tow-linen, made into a sort of shirt, reaching 
down to my knees. Tliis I wore night and day, 
changing it once a week. Id the day time I could 
protect myself pretty well, by keeping on the sunny 
side of the house ; and in bad weather, in the corner 
of the kitchen chimney. The great difficulty was, to 
keep warm during the night. I had no bed. The 
pigs in the pen had leaves, and the horses in the sta- 
ble had straw, but the children had no beds. They 
lodged anywhere in the ample kitchen. I slept, gen- 
erally, in a little closet, without even a blanket to 
cover me. In very cold weather, I sometimes got 
down the bag in which corn-meal was usually car- 
ried to the mill, and crawled into that. Sleeping 
there, with my head in and feet out, I was partly pro- 
tected, though not comfortable. My feet have been 
so cracked with the frost, that the pen with which I 
am writing might be laid in the gashes. The manner 
of taking our meals at old master's, indicated but little 
refinement. Our corn-meal mush, when sufficiently 


cooled, was placed in a large wooden traj, or trough, 
like those used in making maple sugar here in the 
north. This traj was set down, either on the floor of 
the kitchen, or out of doors on the ground; and the 
children were called, like so many pigs ; and like so 
many pigs they would come, and literally devour the 
mush — some with oyster shells, some with pieces of 
shingles, and none vrith spoons. He that eat fastest 
got most, and he that was strongest got the best 
place; and few left the trough really satisfied. I 
was the most unlucky of any, for Aunt Katy had no 
good feeling for me ; and if I pushed any of the 
other children, or if they told her anything unfavora- 
ble of me, she always believed the worst, and was 
sure to whip me. 

As I grew older and more thoughtful, I was more 
and more filled with a sense of my wretchedness^^he 
cruelty of Aunt Katy, the hunger and cold I sufi'ered, 
and the terrible reports of wrong and outrage which 
came to my ear, together with what I almost daily 
witnessed, led me, when yet but eight or nine years 
old, to wish I had never been born.^ I used to con- 
trast my condition with the black-birds, in whose wild 
and sweet songs I fancied them so happy ! Their ap- 
parent joy only deepened the shades of my sorrow. 
There are thouo'htful davs in the lives of children — ■ 
at least there were in mine — when they grapple with 
all the great, primary subjects of knowledge, and 
reach, in a moment, conclusions which no subsequent 
experience can shake, fl was just as well aware of 
the unjust, unnatural and murderous character of 
slavery, when nine years old, as I am now. /Without 


any appeal to books, to laws, or to aiitliorities of any 
kind, it wms eiiou^-li to accept God as a father, to re- 
gard slavery as a crinje. '' 

1 was not teii years old wiien I left Col. Lloyd's 
plantation for Baltimore. I left that plantation with 
inexpressible joy. I never shall Ibrget the ecstacy 
with which I received the intelligence from my friend, 
Miss Lucretia, that my old master had determined to 
let me go to Baltimore to live with Mr. Hugh Anld, 
a brother to Mr. Thomas Auld, my old master's son- 
in-law. I received this information about three daj'S 
before my departure. They were three of the hap- 
piest days of my childhood. I spent the largest part 
of these three days in the creek, washing off the 
plantation scurf, and preparing for my new home. 
Mrs. Lucretia took a lively interest in getting me 
ready. She told me I must get all the dead skin off 
my feet and knees, before I could go to Baltimore, 
for the people there were very cleanly, and. would 
laugh at me if I looked dirty ; and, besides, she was 
intending to give me a pair of trowsers, which I 
should not put on unlec5s I got all the dirt off. This 
was a warning to which I was bound to take heed ; 
for the tliought of owning a pair of trowsers, was 
great, indeed. It was almost a sufficient motive, not 
only to induce me to scrub off the mange^ O^spig dro- 
vers would call it,) but the tkin as well. So I went 
at it in good earnest, working for the first time in the 
hope of re vard. I was greatly excited, and could 
hardly consent to sleep, lest I should be left. The 
ties that, ordinarily, bind children to their homes, 
were all severed, or they never had any existence in 


raj case, at least so far as tlie liome plantation of Col. 
L. was concerned. I therefore fonnd no severe trial at 
the moment of my departure, such as I had experi- 
enced when separated from my home in Tuckahoe. 
My home at my old master's was charmless to me ; 
it was not home, but a prison to me ; on parting from 
it, I could not feel that I was leaving anything which 
I could have enjo^^ed by staying. My mother was 
now long dead ; my grandmother was far away, so 
that I seldom saw her ; Aunt Katy was my unrelent- 
ing tormentor ; and my two sisters and brothers, owing 
to our early separation in life, and the family-de- 
stroying power of slavery, were, comparatively, stran- 
gers to me. The fact of our relationship was almost 
blotted out. I looked for ho77ie elsewhere, and was 
confident of finding none which I should relish less 
than the one I was leaving. If, however, I found in 
my new home — to which I was going with such -bliss- 
ful anticipations- — hardship, whipping and nakedness, 
I had the ({uestionable consolation that I should not 
have escaped any one of these evils by remaining un- 
der the management of Aunt Katy. Then, too, I 
thought, since I had endured much in this line on 
Lloyd's plantation, I could endure as much elsewhere, 
and especially at Baltimore ; for I had something of 
the feeling about that city which is expressed in the 
saying, that being " hanged in England, is better than 
dvins: a natural death in Ireland." I had the stronoj- 
est desire to see Baltimore. My cousin Tom — a boy 
two or three years older than I — had been there, and 
though not fluent (he stuttered immoderately,) in 
speech, he had inspired me with that desire, by his 

136 I^nfE AS A SLAVE. 

eloquent description of the place. Tom was, some- 
times, Capt. Auld's cabin boj ; and when he came 
from Baltimore, he was always a sort of hero amongst 
us, at least till his Baltimore trip was forgotten. I 
could never tell him of anything, or point out anything 
that struck me as beautiful or powerful, but that he 
had seen something in Baltimore far surpassing it. 
Even the great house itself, with all its pictures within, 
and pillars without, he had the hardihood to say 
"was nothing to Baltimore." He bought a trumpet, 
(worth six pence,) and brought it home ; told what he 
had seen in the windows of stores ; that he had heard 
shooting crackers, and seen soldiers ; that he had seen 
a steamboat ; that there were ships in Baltimore that 
could carry four such sloops as the " Sally Lloyd." 
He said a great deal about the market-house ; he 
spoke of the bells ringing ; and of many other things 
which roused my curiosity very much ; and, indeed, 
which heightened my hopes of happiness in my new 

We sailed out of Miles river for Baltimore early 
on a Saturday morning. I remember only the day 
of the week; for, at that time, I had no knowledge 
of the days of the month, nor, indeed, of the months 
of the year. On setting sail, I walked aft, and gave 
to Col. Lloyd's plantation what I hoped would be the 
last look I should ever give to it, or to any place like 
it. My strong aversion to the great house farm, was not 
owing to my own personal suffering, but the daily 
suffering of others, and to the certainty, that I must, 
sooner or later, be placed under the barbarous rule 
of an overseer, such as the accomplished Gore, or the 


brutal and cTriinken Plummer. After taking this last 
view, I quitted the quarter deck, made my way to 
the bow of the sloop, and spent the remainder of the 
day in looking ahead ; interesting myself in what was 
in the distance, rather than what was near by or be- 
hind. The vessels, sweeping along the bay, were 
very interesting objects. The broad bay opened like 
a shoreless ocean on my boyish vision, filling me with 
wonder and admiration. 

Late in the afternoon, we reached Annapolis, the 
capital of the state, stopping there not long enough to 
admit of my going ashore. It was the first large 
town I had ever seen ; and though it was inferior to 
many a factory village in ISTew England, my feelings, 
on seeing it, were excited to a pitch very little below 
that reached by travelers at the first view of Rome. 
The dome of the state house was especially imposing, 
and surpassed in grandeur the appearance of the 
great house. The great world was opening upon me 
very rapidly, and I was eagerly acquainting myself 
with its multifarious lessons. 

We arrived in Baltimore on Sunday morning, and 
landed at Smith's wharf, not far from Bowly's wharf. 
We had on board the sloop a large flock of sheep, for 
the Baltimore market ; and, after assisting in driving 
them to the slaughter house of Mr. Curtis, on Loudon 
Slater's Hill, I was speedily conducted by Rich — one 
of the hands belonging to the sloop — to my new home 
in AUiciana street, near Gardiner's ship-yard, on Fell's 
Point. Mr. and Mrs. Huo-h Auld, mv new mistress aud 
master, were both at home, and met me at the door 
with their rosy cheeked little son, Thomas, to take' 

138 LIFE AS A SLA^'E. 

care of whom was to constitute my futm'e occupation. 
In fact, it was to " little Tommy," ratlier than to his 
parents, that old master made a present of me ; and 
though there was no legal form or arrangement en- 
tered into, I have no doubt that Mr. and Mrs. Auld 
felt that, in due time, I should be the legal property 
of their bright-eyed and beloved boy. Tommy. I 
was struck with the appearance, especially, of my 
new mistress. Tier face was lighted with the kindli- 
est emotions ; and the reflex influence of her counte- 
nance, as well as the tenderness with which she 
seemed to regard me, while asking me sundry little 
questions, greatly delighted me, and lit up, to my 
fancy, the pathway of my future. Miss Lucretia was 
kind ; but my new mistress, " Miss Sophy," sur- 
passed her in kindness of manner. Little Thomas 
was afi'ectionately told by his mother, that " therewas 
Ms Freddy ^^ and that " Freddy would take care of 
him ; " and I was told to " be kind to little Tommy" 
— an injunction I scarcely needed, for I had already 
fallen in love with the dear boy ; and with these lit- 
tle ceremonies I was initiated into my new home, and 
entered upon my peculiar duties, with not a cloud 
above the horizon. 

I may say here, that I regard my removal from 
Col. Lloyd's plantation as one of the most interesting 
and fortunate events of my life. Viewing it in the 
light of human likelihoods, it is quite probable that, 
but for the mere circumstance of being thus removed 
before the rigors of slavery had fastened upon me ; 
before my young spirit had been crushed under the 
iron control of the slave-driver, instead of being, to- 


day, a freeman, I might have been wearing the gall- 
ing chains of slavery. I have sometimes felt, how- 
ever, that there was something more intelligent than 
chan<:e^ and something more certain than luck^ to be 
seen in the circumstance. If I have made any pro- 
gress in knowledge ; if I have cherished any honora- 
ble aspirations, or have, in any manner, worthily dis- 
charged the duties of a member of an oppressed peo- 
ple ; this little circumstance must be allowed its 
due weight in giving my life that direction. I have 
ever regarded it as the first plain manifestation of that 

"Divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rough hew them as we will." 

I was not the only boy on the plantation that 
might have been sent to live in Baltimore. There 
was a wide margin from which to select. There were 
boys younger, boys older, and boys of the same age, 
belonging to my old master — some at his own house, 
and some at his farm — but the high privilege fell to 
my lot. 

I may be deemed superstitions and egotistical, in 
regarding this event as a special interposition of Di- 
vine Providence in my favor ; but the thought is a 
part of my history, and I should be false to the earli- 
est and most cherished sentiments of my soul, if I 
suppressed, or hesitated to avow that opinion, al- 
though it may be characterized as irrational by the 
wise, and ridiculous by the scofl[*er. From my earli- 
est recollections of serious matters, I date the en- 
tertainment of something like an ineffaceable con- 
viction, that slavery would not always be able to 


hold me within its foul embrace ; and this convic- 
tion, like a word of living faith, strengthened me 
through the darkest trials of my lot. This good 
spirit was from God ; and to him I offer thanksgiv- 
ing and praise. 













OxcE in Baltimore, with hard brick pavements nn- 
der mj feet, which almost raised blisters, by their 
very heat, for it was in the height of summer ; walled 
in on all sides by towering brick buildings ; with troops 
of hostile boys ready to pounce upon me at every 
street corner ; with new and strange objects glaring 
upon me at every step, and with startling sounds reach- 
ing my ears from all directions, I for a time thought 
that, after all, the home plantation was a more desira- 
ble place of residence than my home on Alliciana 
street, in Baltimore. My country eyes and ears were 
confused and bewildered here ; but the boys were my 
chief trouble. They chased me, and called me " Eas- 
tern Shore man^'' till really I almost wished myself 
back on the Eastern Shore. I had to undergo a sort 


of moral ricclimation, and when that was over, I 
did much better. My new mistress happily proved 
to be all she seemed to be, when, with her husband, 
she met me at the door, with a most beaming, benig- 
nant countenance. She was, naturally, of an excel- 
lent disposition, kind, gentle and cheerful. The super- 
cilious contempt for the rights and feelings of the 
slave, and the petulance and bad humor which gen- 
erally characterize slaveholding ladies, were all quite 
absent from kind " Miss" Sophia's manner and bear- 
ing toward me. She had, in truth, never been a slave- 
holder, but had — a thing quite unusual in the south — 
depended almost entirely upon her own industry for 
a living, f^o this fact the dear lady, no doubt, owed 
the excellent preservation of her natural goodness of 
heart, for slavery can change a saint into a sinner, 
and an angel into a demon^y I hardly knew how to be- 
have toward " Miss Sopha," as I used to call Mrs. 
Hugh Auld. I had been treated as a jpig on the 
plantation ; I was treated as a child now. I could not 
even approach her as I had formerly approached Mrs. 
Thomas Auld. How could I hang down my head, 
and speak with bated breath, when there was no pride 
to scorn me, no coldness to repel me, and no hatred 
to inspire me with fear ? I therefore soon learned to 
regard her as something more akin to a mother, than 
a slaveholding mistress. The crouching servility of 
a slave, usually so acceptable a quality to the haughty 
slaveholder, was not understood nor desired by this 
gentle woman. So far from deeming it impudent in 
a slave to look her straight in the face, as some slave- 
holding ladies do, she seemed ever to say, " look up, 


child ; don't be afraid ; see, I am full of kindness and 
good will toward you." The hands belonging to Col. 
Lloyd's sloop, esteemed it a great privilege to be the 
bearers of parcels or messages to my new mistress ; 
for whenever they came, they were sure of a most 
kind and pleasant reception. If little Thomas was 
her son, and her most dearly beloved child, she, for a 
time, at least, made me something like his half-brother 
in her affections. If dear Tommy was exalted to a 
place on his mother's knee, " Feddy " was honored by a 
place at his mother's side. J^or did he lack the ca- 
ressing strokes of her gentle hand, to convince him 
that, though motherless^ he was not friendless. Mrs. 
Auld was not only a kind-hearted woman, bnt she 
was remarkably pious ; frequent in her attendance of 
public worship, much given to reading the bible, and 
to chanting hj-mns of pi-aise, when alone. Mr. Hugh 
Auld was altogether a different character. He cared 
very little about religion, knew more of the world, 
and was more of the world, than his wife. He set 
out, doubtless, to be — as the world goes — a respecta- 
ble man, and to get on by becoming a successful ship 
builder, in that city of ship building. This was his 
ambition, and it fully occupied him. I was, of course, 
of very little consequence to him, compared with what 
I was to good Mrs. Auld ; and, when he smiled upon 
me, as he sometimes did, the smile was borrowed 
from his lovely wife, and, like all borrowed light, was 
transient, and vanished with the source whence it was 
derived. While I must characterize Master Hugh as 
being a very sour man, and of forbidding appearance, 
it is due to him to acknowledge, that he was never 


very cruel to me, according to the notion of cruelty 
in Maryland. The first year or two which T spent in 
his house, he left me almost exclusively to the man- 
agement of his wife. She was my law-giver. In 
hands so tender as hers, and in the absence of the 
cruelties of the plantation, I became, both phj^sically 
and mentally, much more sensitive to good and ill 
treatment ; and, perhaps, suffered more from a frown 
from my mistress, than I formerly did from a cuff at 
the hands of Aunt Katy. Instead of the cold, damp 
floor of my old master's kitchen, I found myself on 
carpets ; for the corn bag in winter, I now had a good 
straw bed, well furnished with covers ; for the coarse 
corn-meal in the morning, I now had good bread, and 
mush occasionally ; for my poor tow-linen shirt, reach 
ing to my knees, I had good, clean clothes. I was 
really well off. My employment was to run of er- 
rands, and to take care of Tommy ; to prevent his 
getting in the way of carriages, and to keep him out 
of harm's way generally. Tommy, and I, and his mo- 
ther, got on swimmingly together, for a time. I say 
for a time^ because the fatal poison of irresi^onsible 
power, and the natural influence of slavery customs, 
were not long in making a suitable impression on the 
gentle and loving disposition of my excellent mis- 
tress. At first, Mrs. Auld evidently regarded me 
simply as a child, like any other child ; she had not 
come to regard me as ^ro^erty. This latter thought 
was a thing of conventional growth. The first was 
natural and spontaneous. A noble nature, like hers, 
could not, instantly, be wholly perverted ; and it took 
several years to change the natural sweetness of her 


temper into fretful bitterness. In her worst estate, 
however, there were, during the first seven ^^ears I 
lived with her, occasional returns of her former kindly 

The frequent hearing of my mistress reading the 
bible — for she often read aloud when her husband was 
absent — soon awakened my curiosity in respect to this 
fnystery of reading, and roused in me the desire to 
learn. Having no fear of my kind mistress before my 
eyes, (she had then given me no reason to fear,) I 
frankly asked her to teach me to read ; and, without 
hesitation, the dear w^oman began the task, and very 
soon, by her assistance, I was master of the alphabet, 
and could spell words of three or four letters. My 
mistress seemed almost as proud of my progress, as if 
I had been her own child ; and, supposing that her 
husband would be as well pleased, she made no secret 
of what she was doing for me. Indeed, she exultingly 
told him of the aptness of her pupil, of her intention 
to persevere in. teaching me, and of the duty which 
she felt it to teach me, at least to read the hible. Here 
arose the first cloud over my Baltimore prospects, 
the precursor of drenching rains and chilling blasts. 

Master Hugh was amazed at the simplicity of his 
spouse, and, probably for the first time, he unfolded 
to her the true philosophy of slavery, and the pecu- 
liar rules necessary to be observed by masters and 
mistresses, in the management of their human chat- 
tels. Mr. Auld promptly forbade the continuance of 
her instruction ; telling her, in the first place, that the 
thing itself was unlawful ; that it was also unsafe, and 
could only lead to mischief. To use his own words, 
G 10 


further, lie said, " if you give a nigger an inch, Le 
will take an ell ;" " he ehoulcl know nothing but th^ 
will of his master, and learn to obey it." " Learning- 
would spoil the best nigger in the world ;" " if you 
teach that nigger — speaking of myself — how to read 
the bible, there will be no keeping him ;" " it would for- 
ever unfit him for the duties of a slave ;" and " as to 
himself, learning would do him no good, but probably, 
a great deal of harm — making him disconsolate and un- 
happy." " If you learn him now to read, he'll want 
to know how to write ; and, this accomj)lislied, he'll 
be running away with himself." Such was the tenor 
of Master Hugh's oracular exposition of the true phi- 
losophy of training a human chattel ; and it must be 
confessed that he very clearly comprehended the na- 
ture and the requirements of the relation of master 
and slave. His discourse was the first decidedly anti- 
slavery lecture to which it had been my lot to listen. 
Mrs. Auld evidently felt the force of his remarks ; 
and, like an obedient wife, began to shape her course 
in the direction indicated by her husband. The efiect 
of his words, o?i 7ne, was neither slight nor transitory. 
His iron sentences — cold and harsh — sunk deep into 
my heart, and stirred up not only ]ny feelings into a 
sort of rebellion, but awakened within me a slumber- 
ing train of vital thought. It was a new and special 
revelation, dispelling a painful mystery, against whicli 
my youthful understanding had struggled, and strug- 
gled in vain, to wit : the white man's power to per- 
petuate the enslavement of the I/lack man. " Yery 
well," thought I; "knowledge unfits a child to be a 
slave." I instinctively assented to the proposition ; 


and from that moment I understood the direct path- 
way from slavery to freedom. This was just what I 
needed ; and I got it at a time, and from a source, 
whence I least expected it. I v»'as saddened at the 
thought of losing the assistance of my kind mistress ; 
but the information, so instantly derived, to some ex- 
tent compensated me for the loss I had sustained in 
this direction. Wise as Mr. Auld was, he evidently 
underrated my comprehension, and had little idea of 
the use to which I was capable of putting the impres- 
sive lesson he was giving to his wife. He wanted me 
to be a slave ; I had already voted against that on 
the home plantation of Col. Lloyd. That which he 
most loved I most hated ; and the very determination 
which he expressed to keep me in ignorance, only 
rendered me the more resolute in seeking intelligence. 
In learning to read, therefore, I am not sure that I do 
not owe quite as much to the ojDposition of my master, 
as to the kindly assistance of my amiable mistress. I 
acknowledge the benefit rendered me by the one, and 
by the other ; believing, that but for my mistress, I 
might have grown up in ignorance. 

I had resided but a short time in Baltimore, before 
I observed a marked difference in the manner of 
treating slaves, generally, from that which I had wit- 
nessed in that isolated and out-of-the-way part of the 
country where I began life. A city slave is almost a 
free citizen, in Baltimore, compared with a slave on 
Col. Lloyd's plantation. He is much better fed and 
clothed, is less dejected in his appearance, and enjoys 
privileges altogether unknown to the Avhip-driven 
slave on the plantation. Slavery dislikes a dense popu- 

14:8 . LIFE AS A SLAVE. 

lation, in wliicli there is a majority of non-slavehold- 
ers* The general sense of decency that must pervade 
such a population, does much to check and prevent 
those outbreaks of atrocious cruelty, and those dark 
crimes without a name, almost openly perpetrated on 
the plantation. He is a desperate slaveholder who 
will shock the humanity of his non-slaveholding 
neighbors, by the cries of the lacerated slaves ; and 
very few in the city are willing to incur the odium of 
being cruel masters. I found, in Baltimore, that no 
man was more odious to the white, as well as to the 
colored people, than he, who had the reputation of 
starving his slaves. Work them, flog them, if need 
be, but don't starve them. There are, however, some 
painful exceptions to this rule. While it is quite true 
that most of the slaveholders in Baltimore feed and 
clothe their slaves well, there are others who keep 
up their country cruelties in the city. 

An instance of this sort is furnished in the case of 
a family who lived directly opposite to our house, 
and were named Hamilton. Mrs. Hamilton owned 
two slaves. Their names were Henrietta and Mary. 
Tliey had always been house slaves. One was aged 
about twenty-two, and the other about fourteen. 
They were a fragile couple by nature, and the treat- 
ment they received was enough to break down the 
constitution of a horse. Of all the dejected, emacia- 
ted, mangled and excoriated creatures I ever saw, 
those two girls — in the refined, church going and 
Christian city of Baltimore — were the most deplora- 
ble. Of stone must that heart be made, that could 
look upon Henrietta and Mary, without being sick 

MES. Hamilton's cetteltt to her slaves. 149 

ened to the core with sadness. Especially was Mary 
a heart-sickening object. Her head, neck and shoul- 
ders, were literally cut to pieces. I have frequently 
felt her head, and found it nearly covered over with 
festering sores, caused by the lash of her cruel mis- 
tress. I do not know that her master ever whipped 
her, but I have often been an eye witness of the re- 
volting and brutal inflictions by Mrs. Hamilton ; and 
what lends a deeper shade to this woman's conduct, 
is the fact, that, almost in the very moments of her 
shocking outrages of humanity and decency, she 
would charm you by the sweetness of her voice and 
her seeming piety. She used to sit in a large rock- 
ing chair, near the middle of the room, with a heavy 
cowskin, such as I have elsewhere described ; and I 
speak within the truth when I say, that those girls 
seldom passed that chair, during the day, without a 
blow from that cowskin, either upon their bare arms, 
or U23on their shoulders. As they passed her, she 
would draw her cowskin and give them a blow, say- 
ing, " move faster^ you Uackjij? ! " and, again, ^' take 
that^ you hlachji^ ! " continuing, ''^ if you dorCt move 
faster^ I will give you m.ore.'^^ Then the lady would 
go on, singing her sweet hymns, as though her 
righteous soul were sighing for the holy realms of 

Added to the cruel lashings to which these poor 
slave-girls were subjected — enough in themselves to 
crush the spirit of men — they were, really, kept 
nearly half starved ; they seldom knew what it was 
to eat a full meal, except when they got it in the 
kitchens of neighbors, less mean and stingy than tho 


psalm-singing Mrs. Hanriilton. I have seen poor 
Mary contending for the oiFal, with the pigs in the 
street. So much was the poor girl pinched, kicked, 
cut and pecked to pieces, that the bojs in the street 
knew her only by the name of ^^ jpecked^^ a name de- 
rived from the scars and blotches on her neck, head 
and shoulders. 

It is some relief to this picture of slavery in Balti- 
more, to say — what is but the simple truth — that 
Mrs. Hamilton's treatment of her slaves was gener- 
ally condemned, as disgraceful and shocking ; but 
while I say this, it must also be remembered, that 
the very parties who censured the cruelty of Mrs. 
Hamilton, would have condemned and promptly pun- 
ished any attempt to interfere with Mrs. Plamilton's 
right to cut and slash her slaves to pieces. There 
must be no force between the slave and the slave- 
holder, to restrain the power of the one, and protect 
the weakness of the other ; and the cruelty of Mrs. 
Hamilton is as justly chargeable to the upholders of 
the slave system, as drunkenness is chargeable on 
those who, by precept and example, or by indiffer- 
ence, uphold the drinking system. 













I LIVED in the family of Master Hugh, at Baltimore, 
seven years, during which time — as the almanac ma- 
kers say of the weather — my condition was variable. 
The most interesting feature of my history here, vras 
my learning to read and write, under somewhat 
marked disadvantages. In attaining this knowledge, 
I was compelled to resort to indirections by no means 
congenial to my nature, and which were really hu- 
miliating to me. My mistress — who, as the reader 
has already seen, had begun to teach me — was sud- 
denly checked in her benevolent design, by the strong 
advice of her husband. In faithful compliance with 
this advice, the good lady had not only ceased to in- 
struct me, herself, but had set her face as a flint 
against my learning to read by any means. It is due, 


however, to my mistress to say, that she did not 
adopt this course in all its stringency at the first. 
She either thought it unnecessary, or she lacked the 
depravity indispensable to shutting me up in mental 
darkness. It was, at least, necessary for her to have 
some training, and some hardening, in the exercise 
of the slaveholder's prerogative, to make her equal 
to forgetting my human nature and character, and to 
treating me as a thing destitute of a moral or an in- 
tellectual nature. Mrs. Auld — my mistress — was, as 
I have said, a most kind and tender-hearted woman ; 
and, in the humanity of her heart, and the simplicity 
of her mind, she set out, when I first went to live 
with her, to treat me as she supposed one human be- 
ing ouglit to treat another. 

It is easy to see, that, in entering upon the duties 
of a slaveholder, some little experience is needed. 
!N^ature has done almost nothing to prepare men and 
women to be either slaves or slaveholders. [^Tothing 
but rigid training, long persisted in, can perfect the 
character of the one or the other. One cannot easily 
forget to love freedom ; and it is as hard to cease to re- 
spect that natural love in our fellow creatures. On 
entering upon the career of a slaveholding mistress, 
Mrs. Auld was singularly deficient ; nature, which fits 
nobody for such an oflice, had done less for her than 
any lady I had known. It was no easy matter to in- 
duce her to think and to feel that the curly^headed 
boy, who stood by her side, and even leaned on her 
lap ; who was loved by little Tommy, and who loved 
little Tommy in turn ; sustained to her only the rela- 
tion of a chattel. I was more than that, and slie felt 


me to be more than that. I could talk and sing ; I 
could laugh and weep ; I could reason and remem- 
ber ; I could love and hate. I was human, and she, 
dear ladv, knew and felt me to be so. How could 
she, then, treat me as a brute, without a mighty strug- 
gle with all the noble powers of her own soul. That 
struggle came, and the will and power of the hus- 
band was victorious. Her noble soul was over- 
thrown ; but, he that overthrew it did not, himself, 
escape the consequences. He, not less than the other 
parties, was injured in his domestic peace by the 

When I went into their family, it was the abode 
of happiness and contentment. The mistress of the 
house was a model of affection and tenderness. Her 
fervent piety and watchful uprightness made it im- 
possible to see her without thinking and feeling — " that 
woman is a christianP There was no sorrow nor suf- 
fering for which she had not a tear, and there was no 
innocent joy for which she had not a smile. She had 
bread for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and com- 
fort for every mourner that came within her reach. 
Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these 
excellent qualities, and her home of its early happi- 
ness. Conscience cannot stand much violence. Once 
thoroughly broken dovm, loho is he that can repair 
the damage ? It may be broken toward the slave, 
on Sunday, and tovrard the master on Monday. It 
cannot endure such shocks. It must stand entire, or 
it does not stand at all. If my condition waxed bad, 
that of the family waxed not better. The first step, 
in the wrong direction, was the violence done to na- 


ture and to conscience, in arresting the benevolence 
that would have enlightened m.j young mind. In 
ceasing to instruct me, she must begin to justify her- 
self to herself; and, once consenting to take sides in 
such a debate, she was riveted to her j)osition. One 
needs very little knowledge of moral philosophy, to 
see icliere my mistress now landed. She linally be- 
came even more violent in her opposition to my learn- 
ing to read, than was her husband himself. She was 
not satisfied witli simpl}^ doing as loell as her liusband 
had commanded her, but seemed resolved to better 
his instruction. Nothing appeared to make my poor 
mistress — after her turning tow^ard the downward 
path — more angry, than seeing me, seated in some nook 
or corner, quietly reading a book or a newspaper. I 
have had her rush at me, with the utmost fury, and 
snatch from my hand such newsj^aper or book, with 
somethino: of the wrath and consternation wdiich a 
traitor might be supposed to feel on being discovered 
in a plot by some dangerous spy. 

Mrs. Auld was an apt woman, and the advice of 
her husband, and her owm experience, soon demon- 
strated, to her entire satisfaction, that education and 
slavery are incompatible with each other. When this 
conviction was thoroughly established, I was most 
narrowly watched in all my movements. If I remained 
in a separate room from the family for any consider- 
able length of time, I was sure to be suspected of hav- 
ing a book, and was at once called upon to give an 
account of myself. All this, however, was entirely 
too late. The first, and never to be retraced, step had 
been taken. In teaching me the alphabet, in the 


days of her simplicity and kindness, my mistress had 
given me the " mcA," and now, no ordinary precau- 
tion could prevent me from taking the " ell."''' 

Seized with a determination to learn to read, at any 
cost, I hit upon many expedients to accomplish the 
desired end. The plea which I mainly adopted, and 
the one by which I was most successful, was that of 
using my young white playmates, with whom I met 
in the street, as teachers. I used to carry, almost con- 
stantly, a copy of Webster's spelling book in my pock- 
et ; and, when sent of errands, or when play time was 
allowed me, I would step, with my young friends, 
aside, and take a lesson' in spelling. I generally paid 
my tuition fee to the boys, with bread, which I also 
carried in my pocket. For a single biscuit, any of 
my hungry little comrades would give me a lesson 
more valuable to me than bread. JSTot every one, 
however, demanded this consideration, for there were 
those who took pleasure in teaching me, whenever I 
had a chance to be taught by them. I am strongly 
tempted to give the names of two or three of those 
little boys, as a slight testimonial of the gratitude and 
afiection I bear them, but prudence forbids ; not that 
it would injure me, but it might, possibly, embarrass 
them ; for it is almost an unpardonable offense to do 
any thing, directly or indirectly, to promote a slave's 
freedom, in a slave state. It is enough to say, of my 
warm-hearted little play fellows, that they lived on 
Philpot street, very near Durgin & Bailey's shipyard. 
Although slavery was a delicate subject, and very 
cautiously talked about among grown up people in 
Maryland, I frequently talked about it — and that very 


freely — with the white boys, I would, sometimes, say 
to them, while seated on a curb stone or a cellar door, 
"I wish I could be free, as you will be when you get 
to be men." " You will be free, you know, as soon 
as you are twenty-one, and can go where you like, 
but I am a slave for life. Have I not as good a right 
to be free as you have ?" Words like these, I ob- 
served, always troubled them ; and I had no small satis- 
faction in wringing from the boys, occasionally, that 
fresh and bitter condemnation of slavery, that springs 
from nature, unseared and unperverted. Of all con- 
sciences, let me have those to deal with which have 
not been bewildered by the cares of life. I do not 
remember ever to have met with a hoy^ while I w^as 
in slavery, who defended the slave system ; but I have 
often had boys to console me, with the hope that 
something would yet occur, by which I might be made 
free. Over and over again, they have told me, that 
" they believed / had as good a right to be free as 
they had ;" and that " they did not believe God ever 
made any one to be a slave." The reader will easily 
see, that such little conversations with my playfellows, 
had no tendency to Aveaken my love of liberty, nor to 
render me contented with my condition as a slave. 

When I was about thirteen years old, and had suc- 
ceeded in learning to read, every increase of know- 
ledge, especially respecting the Fkee States, added 
something to the almost intolerable burden of the 
thought — " I AM A Slave for life," To my bon- 
dage I saw no end. It Vv'^as a terrible reality, and I 
shall never be able to tell how sadly that thought 
chafed my young spirit, Fortunately, or unfortu- 


nately, about this time in my life, I had made enough 
money to buy what was then a very po^^ular school 
book, viz : the " Columbian Orator." I bought this 
addition to my library, of Mr. Knight, on Thames 
street, Fell's Point, Baltimore, and paid him fifty 
cents for it. I was first led to buy this book, by hear- 
ing some little boys say that they were going to learn 
some little pieces out of it for the Exhibition. This 
volume was, indeed, a rich treasure, and every oppor- 
tunity afibrded me, for a time, was spent in diligently 
perusing it. Among much other interesting matter, 
that which I had perused and reperused with unflag- 
ging satisfaction, was a short dialogue between a mas- 
ter and his slave. The slave is represented as having 
been recaptured, in a second attempt to run away ; and 
the master opens the dialogue with an upbraiding 
speech, charging the slave with ingratitude, and de- 
manding to know what he has to say in his own de- 
fense. Thus upbraided, and thus called upon to re- 
ply, the slave rejoins, that he knows how little any- 
thing that he can say will avail, seeing that he is 
completely in the hands of his owner ; and with noble 
resolution, calmly says, "I submit to my fate." 
Touched by the slave's answer, the master insists upon 
his further speaking, and recapitulates the many acts 
of kindness which he has performed toward the slave, 
and tells him he is permitted to speak for himself. 
Thus invited to the debate, the quondam slave made 
a spirited defense of himself, and thereafter the whole 
argument, for and against slavery, was brought out. 
The master was vanquished at every turn in the argu- 
ment ; and seeing himself to be thus vanquished, he 


generously and meekly emancipates the slave, witli 
his best wishes for his prosperity. It is scarcely 
neccessary to say, that a dialogue, with such an origin, 
and such an ending — read when the fact of my being 
a slave was a constant burden of grief — powerfully 
affected me ; and I could not help feeling that the 
day might come, when the well-directed answers made 
by the slave to the master, in this instance, would 
find their counterpart in myself. 

This, however, was not all the fanaticism which I 
found in this Columbian Orator. I met there one of 
Sheridan's mighty speeches, on the subject of Catho- 
lic Emancipation, Lord Chatham's speech on the 
American w^ar, and speeches by the great William 
Pitt and by Fox. These were all choice documents 
to me, and I read them, over and over again, with an 
interest that was ever increasing, because it was ever 
gaining in intelligence ; for the more I read them, the 
better I understood them. The reading of these 
speeches added much to my limited stock of language, 
and enabled me to give tongue to many interesting 
thoughts, which had frequently flashed through my 
soul, and died away for want of utterance. The 
mighty power and heart-searching directness of truth, 
penetrating ev^en the heart of a slaveholder, compel- 
ling him to yield up his earthly interests to the claims 
of eternal justice, w^ere finely illustrated in the dia- 
logue, just referred to ; and from the speeches of Sheri- 
dan, I got a bold and powerful denunciation of op- 
pression, and a most brilliant vindication of the rights 
of man. Here was, indeed, a noble acquisition. If 
I ever wavered undei* the consideration, that the Al- 


mighty, in some way, ordained slavery, and willed 
my enslavement for his own glory, I wavered no lon- 
ger. I had now penetrated the secret of all slavery 
and oppression, and had ascertained their true foun- 
dation to be in the pride, the power and the avarice 
of man. The dialogue and the speeches were all redo- 
.lent of the principles of liberty, and poured floods of 
light on the nature and character of slavery. With a 
book of this kind in my hand, my own human nature, 
and the facts of my experience, to help me, I was 
equal to a contest with the religious advocates of slave- 
ry, whether among the whites or among the colored 
people, for blindness, in this matter, is not confined 
to the former. I have met manv relisrious colored 
people, at the south, who are under the delusion that 
God requires them to submit to slavery, and to wear 
their chains with meekness and humility. I could en- 
tertain no such nonsense as this ; and I almost lost 
my patience when I found any colored man weak 
enough to believe such stuff. ISTevertheless, the in- 
crease of knowledge was attended with bitter, as well 
as sweet results. /The more I read, the more I was 
led to abhor and detest slavery, and my enslavers. 
" Slaveholders," thought I, " are only a band of sue 
cessful robbers, who left their homes and went into 
Africa for the purpose of stealing and reducing my 
people to slavery." I loathed them as the meanest 
and the most wicked of men. J^As I read, behold ! the 
\Qrj discontent so graphically predicted by Master 
Hugh, had already come upon me. I was no longer 
the light-hearted, gieesome boy, full of mirth and play, 
as when I landed first at Baltimore. Knowledge had 


come ; liglit had penetrated the moral dungeon where 
I dwelt ; and, behold I there lay the bloody whip, for 
my back, and here was the iron chain ; and my good, 
ki7\d inaster^ he was the author of my situation. The 
revelation haunted me, stung me, and made me 
gloomy and miserable. As I writhed under the sting 
and torment of this knowledge, I almost envied my 
fellow slaves their stupid contentment./' This know- 
ledge opened my eyes to the horrible pit, and re- 
vealed the teeth of the frightful dragon that was ready 
to pounce upon me, but it opened no way for my es- 
cape. I have often wished myself a beast, or a bird — 
anything, rather than a slave. I was wretched and 
gloomy, beyond my ability to describe. I was too 
thoughtful to be happy. It was this everlasting think- 
ing which distressed and tormented me ; and yet there 
was no getting rid of the subject of my thoughts. All 
nature was redolent of it. Once awakened by the 
silver trump of knowledge, my spirit was roused to 
eternal wakefulness. Liberty ! the inestimable birth- 
right of every man, had, for me, converted every ob- 
ject into an asserter of this great right. It was heard 
in every sound, and beheld in every object. It was 
ever present, to torment me with a sense of my wretch- 
ed condition. The more beautiful and charming were 
the smiles of nature, the more horrible and desolate 
was my condition. / I saw nothing without seeing it, 
and I heard nothing without hearing it. I do not ex- 
aggerate, when I say, that it looked from every star, 
smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and 
moved in every storm. / 

I have no doubt that my state of mind had some- 


tiling to do with tlie change in'the treatment adopted, 
by my once kind mistress toward me. I can easily 
believe, that my leaden, downcast, and discontented 
look, was ver}^ offensive to her. Poor lady ! She did 
not know my trouble, and I dared not tell her. Could 
I have freely made her acquainted with the real state 
of my mind, and given her the reasons therefor, it 
might have been well for both of us. Her abuse of 
me fell upon me like the blows of the false prophet 
upon his ass ; she did not know that an angel stood in 
the way ; and — such is the relation of master and 
slave — I could not tell her. Xature had made us 
friends'^ slavery made us enemies. My interests 
were in a direction opposite to hers, and we both had 
our private thoughts and plans. She aimed to keep 
me ignorant; and I resolved to know, although know- 
ledge only increased my discontent. My feelings were 
not the result of any marked cruelty in the treatment 
I received ; they sprung from the consideration of my 
being a slave at all. It was slavery — not its mere in- 
cidents — that I hated. I had been cheated. . I saw 
through the attempt to keep me in ignorance ; I saw 
lat slaveholders would have gladly made me believe 
that they were merely acting under the authority of 
God, in making a slave of me, and in making slaves 
of others ; and I treated them as robbers and deceiv- 
ers. The feeding and clothing me well, could not 
atone for taking my liberty from me. The smiles of 
my mistress could not remove the deep sorrow tliat 
dwelt in my young bosom. Indeed, these, in time, 
came only to deepen my sorrow. She had changed ; 
and the reader will see that I had changed, too. We 



^were both victims to tlie same overshadowing evil — • 
slie^ as mistress, /, as slave. I will not censure her 
harshly ; she cannot censure me, for she knows I speak 
but the truth, and have acted in mj opposition to slave- 
ry, just as she herself would have acted, in a reverse 
of circumstances. 4 











Whilst in the painful state of mind described in the 
foregoing chapter, ahnost regretting my very exist- 
ence, because doomed to a life of bondage, so goaded 
and so wretched, at times, that I was even tempted 
to destroy my own life, I was yet keenly sensitive and 
eager to know any, and every thing that transpired, 
having any relation to the subject of slavery. I 
was all ears, all eyes, whenever the words slave^ slcvve- 
ry^ dropped from the lips of any white person, and the 
occasions were not unfrequent when these words be- 
came leading ones, in high, social debate, at our house. 
Every little while, I could overhear Master Hugh, or 
some of his company, speaking with much warmth 
and excitement about " ctholitionistsP Of %olio or 
what these were, I was totally ignorant. I found, 
however, that whatever they might be, they were most 


cordially hated and soundly abused by slaveholders, 
of every grade. I very soon discovered, too, that 
slavery was, in some sort, under consideration, when- 
ever the abolitionists were alluded to. This made the 
terra a very interesting one to me. If a slave, for 
instance, had made good his escape from slavery, it 
was generally alleged, that he had been persuaded 
and assisted by the abolitionists. If, also, a slave killed 
his master — as was sometimes the case — or struck 
down his overseer, or set fire to his master's dwelling, 
or committed any violence or crime, out of the com- 
mon way, it was certain to be said, that such a crime 
was the legitimate fruits of the abolition movement. 
Hearing such charges often repeated, I, naturally 
enough, received the impression that abolition — 
whatever else it might be — could not be unfriendly 
to the slave, nor very friendly to the slaveholder. I 
therefore set about finding out, if possible, \oho and 
what the abolitionists were, and why they were so 
obnoxious to the slaveholders. The dictionary af- 
forded me very little help. It taught me that abo- 
lition was the "act of abolishing;" but it left me in 
ignorance at the very point where I most wanted in- 
formation — and that was, as to the thing to be abol- 
ished. A city newspaper, the " Baltimore American," 
gave me the incendiary information denied me by the 
dictionary. In its columns I found, that, on a certain 
day, a vast number of petitions and memorials had 
been presented to congress, praying for the abolition 
of slavery in the District of Columbia, and for the 
abolition of the slave trade between the states of the 
Union. This was enough. The vindictive bitternesSj 


the marked caution, the studied reserve, and the cum- 
brous ambiguity, practiced by our white folks, when 
allluding to this subject, was now fully explained. 
Ever, after that, when I heard the words "abolition," 
or "abolition movement," mentioned, I felt the mat- 
ter one of a personal concern ; and I drew near to lis- 
ten, when I could do so, without seeming too solicit- 
ous and prying. There was Hope in those words. 
Ever and anon, too, I could see some terrible denun- 
ciation of slavery, in our papers — copied from abo- 
lition papers at the north, — and the injustice of such 
denunciation commented on. These I read with 
avidity. I had a deep satisfaction in the thought, that 
the rascality of slaveholders was not concealed from 
the eyes of the world, and that I was not alone in ab- 
horring the cruelty and brutality of slavery. A still 
deeper train of thought was stirred. I saw that there 
wsLSjfear, as well as ra[/e, in the manner of speaking of 
the abolitionists. The latter, therefore, I was com- 
pelled to regard as having some power in the coun- 
try ; and I felt that they might, possibly, succeed in. 
their designs. When I met with a slave to whom I 
deemed it safe to talk on the subject, I would impart 
to him so much of the mystery as I had been able to 
penetrate. Thus, the light of this grand movement 
broke in upon my mind, by degrees ; and I must say, 
that, ignorant as I then was of the philosophy of that 
movement, I believed in it from the first — and I be- 
'lieved in it, partly, because I saw that it alarmed the 
consciences of slaveholders. The insurrection of JSTa- 
thaniel Turner had been quelled, but the alarm and 
terror had not subsided. The cholera was on its way, 


and the thonglit was present, that God was angry with 
the white people because of their slaveholding w^ick- 
edness, and, therefore, his judgments were abroad in 
the land. It was impossible for me not to hope much 
from the abolition movement, v/hen I saw it supported 
by the Almighty, and armed wath Death ! 

Previous to my contemplation of the anti-slavery 
movement, and its probable results, my mind had 
been seriously awakened to the subject of religion. I 
was not more than thirteen years old, when I felt the 
need of God, as a father and protector. My religious 
nature was awakened by the preaching of a white 
Methodist minister, named Hanson. He thought 
that all men, great and small, bond and free, were 
sinners in the sight of God ; that they were, by na- 
ture, rebels against His government 5 and that they 
must repent of their sins, and be reconciled to God, 
through Christ. I cannot say that I had a very dis- 
tinct notion of what was required of me ; but one 
thing I knew very well — I was wretched, and had no 
means of making myself otherwise. Moreover, I 
knew that I could pray for light. I consulted a good 
colored man, named Charles Johnson ; and, in tones 
of holy affection, he told me to pray, and what to 
pray for. I was, for weeks, a poor, broken-hearted 
mourner, traveling through the darkness and misery 
of doubts and fears. I finally found that change of 
heart which comes by " casting all one's care " upon 
God, and by having faith in Jesus Christ, as the Re- 
deemer, Friend, and Savior of those who diligently 
seek Him. 

After this, I saw the world in a new light. I 


seemed to live in a new world, surrounded by new 
objects, and to be animated b}^ new hopes and de- 
sires. I loved all mankind — slaveholders not ex- 
cepted ; tliongh I abhorred slavery more than ever. 
My great concern was, now, to have the world con- 
verted. The desire for knowledge increased, and es- 
pecially did I want a thorough acquaintance with the 
contents of the bible. I have gathered scattered pa- 
ges from this holy book, from the filthy street gutters 
of Baltimore, and washed and dried them, that in 
the moments of my leisure, I might get a word or 
two of wisdom from them. While thus religiously 
seeking knowledge, I became acquainted with a good 
old colored man, named Lawson. A more devout 
man than he, I never saw. He drove a dray for Mr. 
James Ramsey, the owner of a rope-walk on Fell's 
Point, Baltimore. This man not only prayed three 
times a day, but he prayed as he walked through the 
streets, at his work — on his dray — everywhere. His 
life was a life of prayer, and his words, (when he 
spoke to his friends,) were about a better world. 
Uncle Lawson lived near Master Hugh's house ; and, 
becoming deeply attached to the old man, I went of- 
ten with him to prayer-meeting, and spent much of 
my leisure time with him on Sunday. The old man 
could read a little, and I was a great help to him, in 
making out the hard T\rords, for I was a better reader 
than he. I could teach him " the letter^^ but he could 
teach me 'Hhe sjnrit j ''^ and high, refreshing times we 
had together, in singing, praying and glorifying God. 
These meetings with Uncle Lawson went on for a 
long time, without the knowledge of Master Hugh or 


my mistress. Both knew, tiowever, that I had be- 
come religious, and they seemed to respect my con- 
scientious piety. My mistress was still a professor of 
religion, and belonged to class. Her leader was no 
less a person than the Rev. Beverly Waugh, the pre- 
siding elder, and now one of the bishops of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal church. Mr. Waugh was then sta- 
tioned over AYilk street church. I am careful to state 
these facts, that the reader may be able to form an 
idea of the precise influences which had to do with 
shaping and directing my mind. 

In view of the cares and anxieties incident to the 
life she was then leading, and, especially, in view of 
the separation from religious associations to which she 
was subjected, my mistress had, as I have before sta- 
ted, become lukewarm, and needed to be looked up 
by her leader. This brought Mr. Waugh to our house, 
and gave me an opportunity to hear him exhort and 
pray. But my chief instructor, in matters of religion, 
was Uncle Lawson. He was my spiritual father ; 
and I loved him intensely, and was at his house ev- 
ery chance I got. 

This pleasure was not long allowed me. Master 
Hugh became averse to my going to Father Lawson's, 
and threatened to whip me if I ever went there again. 
I now felt myself persecuted by a wicked man ; and 
I would go to Father Lawson's, notwithstanding the 
threat. The good old man had told me, that the 
" Lord had a great work for me to do ; " and I must 
prepare to do it ; and that he had been shown that I 
must preach the gospel. His words made a deep im- 
pression on my mind, and I verily felt that some such 


work was before me, though I could not see hoio I 
should ever engage in its performance. " The good 
Lord," he said, " would bring it to pass in his own 
good time," and that I must go on reading and study- 
ing the scriptures. The advice and the suggestions 
of Uncle Lawson, were not without their influence 
upon my character and destiny. He threw my 
thoughts into a channel from which they have never 
entirely diverged. He fanned my already intense 
love of knowledge into a flame, by assuring me that 
I was to be a useful man in the world. When I would 
say to him, " How can these things be — and what can 
/do ? " his simple reply was, " Trust in the Lord.^'^ 
"When I told him that "I was a slave, and a slave for 
LIFE," he said, " the Lord can make you free, my 
dear. All things are possible with him, only have 
faith in GodP ''Ask, and it shall be given." " If 
you want liberty," said the good old man, " ask the 
Lord for it, infaith^ axd he will gia'e it to tou." 

Thus assured, and cheered on, under the inspira- 
tion of hope, I worked and prayed with a light heart, 
believing that my life was under the guidance of a 
wisdom higher than my own. AYith all other bless- 
ings sought at the mercy seat, I always prayed that 
God would, of His great mercy, and in His own good 
time, deliver me from my bondage. 

I went, one day, on the wharf of Mr. Waters ; and 
seeing two Irishmen unloading a large scow of stone, 
or ballast, I went on board, unasked, and helped them. 
When we had finished the work, one of the men 
came to me, aside, and asked me a number of ques- 
tions, and among them, if I were a slave. I told him 


" I was a slave, and a slave for life." The good Irisli- 
man gave bis shoulders a shrng, and seemed deeply 
affected by the statement. He said, *' it was a pity 
so fine a little fellow as myself should be a slave for 
life." They both had much to say about the matter, 
and expressed the deepest sympathy with me, and the 
most decided hatred of slavery. They went so far as 
to t^ll me that I ought to run away, and go to the 
north ; that I should find friends there, and that I 
would be as free as anybody. I, however, pretended 
not to be interested in what they said, for I feared 
they might be treacherous. White men have been 
known to encourage slaves to escape, and then — to 
get the reward — they have kidnapped them, and re- 
turned them to their masters. And while I mainly 
inclined to the notion that these men were honest and 
meant me no ill, I feared it might be otherwise. I 
nevertheless remembered their words and their ad- 
vice, and looked forward to an escape to the north, 
as a possible means of gaining the liberty for which 
my heart panted. It was not my enslavement, at the 
then present time, that most affected me ; the being a 
slave for Ufe^ was the saddest thouglit. I was too 
young to think of running away immediately ; be- 
sides, I wished to learn how to write, before going, as 
I might have occasion to write my own pass. I now 
not only had the hope of freedom, but a foreshadow- 
ing of the means by which I might, some day, gain 
that inestimable boon. Meanwhile, I resolved to add 
to my educational attainments the art of writing. 

After this manner I began to learn to write : I was 
much in the ship yard — Master Hugh's, and that of 


Durgan & Bailey — and I observed that the carpen- 
ters, after hewing and getting a piece of timber ready 
for use, wrote on it the initials of the name of that 
part of the ship for which it was intended. When, 
for instance, a piece of timber was ready for the star- 
board side, it was marked with a capital " S." A 
piece for the larboard side was marked " L ; " lar- 
board forward, " L. F. ; " larboard aft, was marked 
" L. A. ; " starboard aft, " S. A. ; *' and starboard for- 
ward " S. F." I soon learned these letters, and foi 
what they were placed on the timbers. 

My work w^as now, to keep fire nnder the steam 
box, and to watch the ship yard while the carpenters 
had gone to dinner. This interval gave me a fine op- 
portunity for copying the letters named. I soon as- 
tonished myself with the ease with which I made the 
letters ; and the thought was soon present, " if I can 
make four, I can make more." But having made 
these easily, when I met boys about Bethel church, 
or any of our play-grounds, I entered the lists with 
them in the art of writing, and would make the let- 
ters wdiich I had been so fortunate as to learn, and 
ask them to " beat that if they could." With play- 
mates for my teachers, fences and pavements for my 
copy books, and chalk for my pen and ink, I learned 
the art of writing. I, however, afterward adopted 
various methods of improving my hand. The most 
successful, was copying the italics in Webster's spell- 
ing book, until I could make them all without look- 
ing on the book. By this time, my little " Master 
Tommy" had grown to be a big boy, and had written 
over a number of copy books, and brought them 


home. They bad been sbown to tbe neigbbors, bad 
elicited due praise, and were now laid carefully away. 
Spending my time between tbe sbip yard and bouse, 
I was as often tbe lone keeper of tbe latter as of tbe 
former. Wben my mistress left me in cbarge of tbe 
bouse, I bad a grand time ; I got Master Tommy's 
copy books and a pen and ink, and, in tbe ample spa- 
ces between tbe lines, I wrote otber lines, as nearly 
like bis as jjossible. Tbe process was a tedious one, 
and I ran tbe risk of getting a flogging for marring 
tbe bigbly prized copy books of tbe oldest son. In 
addition to tbese o2:>portunitie3, sleeping, as I did, in 
tbe kitcben loft — a room seldom visited by any of tbe 
family, — I got a flour barrel up tbere, and a cbair ; 
and upon tbe bead of tbat barrel I bave written, (or 
endeavored to write,) copying from tbe bible and tbe 
Metbodist bymn book, and otber books wbicb bad 
accumulated on my bands, till late at nigbt, and wben 
all tbe family were in bed and asleep. I was sup- 
ported in my endeavors by renewed advice, and by 
boly promises from tbe good Fatber Lawson, witb 
wbom I continued to meet, and pray, and read tbe 
scriptures. Altbougb Master Hugh was aware of 
my going tbere, I must say, for bis credit, tbat be 
never executed bis threat to whip me, for having thus, 
innocently, employed my leisure time. 














I MUST now ask the reader to go witli me a little back 
in point of time, in mj humble story, and to notice 
another circumstance that entered into my slavery 
experience, and which, doubtless, has had a share in 
deepening my horror of slavery, and increasing my 
hostility toward those men and measures that practi- 
cally uphold the slave system. 

It has already been observed, that though I was, 
after my removal from Col. Lloyd's plantation, in 
form the slave of Master Hugh, I was, in fact^ and 
in law^ the slave of my old master, Capt. Anthony. 
Very well. 

In a very short time after I went to Baltimore, my 
old master's youngest son, Eichard, died ; and, in 


three years and six montlis after liis deatli, my old 
master himself died, leaving only his son, Andrew, 
and his daughter, Lncretia, to share his estate. The 
old man died while on a visit to his daughter, in 
Hillsborough, where Capt. Anld and Mrs. Lncretia 
now lived. The former, having given up the com- 
mand of Col. Lloyd's sloop, was now keeping a store 
in that town. 

Cut off, thus unexpectedly, Capt. Anthony died in- 
testate ; and his property must now be equaily divi- 
ded between his two children, Andrew and Lncretia. 

The valuation and the division of slaves, among 
contending heirs, is an important incident in slave 
life. The character and tendencies of the heirs, are 
generally well understood among the slaves who are 
to be divided, and all have their aversions and pref- 
erences. But, neither their aversions nor their pref- 
erences avail them anvthinsj. 

On the death of old master, I was immediately sent 
for, to be valued and divided with the otlier property. 
Personally, my concern was, mainly, about my pos- 
sible removal from the home of Master Hugh, which, 
after that of my grandmother, was the most endeared 
to me. But, the whole thing, as a feature of slavery, 
shocked me. It furnished me a new insight into the 
imnatural power to which I was subjected. My de- 
testation of slavery, already great, rose with this new 
conception of its enormity. 

That was a sad day for me, a sad day for little Tom- 
my, and a sad day for my dear Baltimore mistress and 
teacher, when I left for the Eastern Shore, to be val- 
ued and divided. We, all three, wept bitterly that 


day ; for we might be parting, and we feared we were 
parting, forever. ' JSTo one could tell among which pile 
of chattels I should be flung. Thus early, I got a fore- 
taste of that painful uncertainty which slavery brings 
to the ordinary lot of mortals. /Sickness, adversit}^ 
and death may interfere with the plans and purposes 
of all ; but the slave has the added danger of changing 
homes, changing hands, and of having separations 
unknown to other men. Then, too, there was the in- 
tensified degradation of the spectacle. What an as- 
semblage ! Men and women, young and old, mar- 
ried and single ; moral and intellectual beings, in open 
contempt of their humanity, leveled at a blow with 
horses, sheep, horned cattle and swine ! Horses and 
men — cattle and women — pigs and children — all hold- 
ing the same rank in the scale of social existence ; 
and all subjected to the same narrow inspection, to 
ascertain their value in gold and silver — the only 
standard of worth applied by slaveholders to slaves ! 
'How vividly, at that moment, did the brutalizing 
power of slavery flash before me ! Personality swal- 
lowed up in the sordid idea of property ! Manhood 
lost in chattelhood !/ 

After the valuation, then came the division. This 
was an hour of high excitement and distressing anxi- 
ety. Our destiny was now to be fixed for Ufe^ and 
we had no more voice in the decision of the question, 
than the oxen and cows that stood chewing at the hay- 
mow. One word from the appraisers, against all pref- 
erences or prayers, was enough to sunder all the ties 
of friendship and aflection, and even to separate hus- 
bands and wives, parents and children. We were all 


appafted before that power, which, to human seem- 
ing, could bless or blast ns in a moment. Added to 
the dread of separation, most painful to the majority 
of the slaves, we all had a decided horror of the 
thought of falling into the hands of Master Andrew. 
He was distinguished for cruelty and intemperance. 

Slaves generally dread to fall into the hands of 
drunken owners. Master Andrew was almost a con- 
firmed sot, and had already, by his reckless misman- 
agement and profligate dissipation, wasted a large 
portion of old master's property. To fall into his 
hands, was, therefore, considered merely as the first 
step toward being sold away to the far south. He 
would spend his fortune in a few years, and his farms 
and slaves would be sold, we thought, at public out- 
cry ; and we should be hurried away to the cotton 
fields, and rice swamps, of the sunny south. This 
was the cause of deep consternation. 

The people of the north, and free people generally, 
I think, have less attachment to the places where they 
are born and brought up, than have the slaves. Their 
freedom to go and come, to be here and there, as they 
list, prevents any extravagant attachment to any one 
particular place, in their case. On the other hand, 
the slave is a fixture ; he has no choice, no goal, no 
destination ; but is pegged down to a single spot, and 
must take root here, or nowhere. The idea of remo- 
val elsewhere, comes, generally, in the shape of a 
threat, and in punishment of crime. It is, therefore, 
attended with fear and dread. A slave seldom thinks 
of bettering his condition by being sold, and hence 
he looks upon separation from his native place, with 


none of the enthusiasm which animates the bosoms 
of young freemen, when they contemplate a life in 
the far west, or in some distant country where they 
intend to rise to wealth and distinction. 'Nor can those 
from whom they separate, give them up with that 
cheerfulness with which friends and relations yield 
each other up, when they feel that it is for the good 
of the departing one that he is removed from his na- 
tive place. Then, too, there is correspondence, and 
there is, at least, the hoj^e of reunion, because reiinion 
is possible. But, with the slave, all these mitigating 
circumstances are wanting. There is no improvement 
in his condition prohahle, — no correspondence possible, 
— no reunion attainable. His going out into the 
world, is like a living man going into the tomb, who, 
with open eyes, sees himself buried out of sight and 
hearing of wife, children and friends of kindred tie. 
In contemplating the likelihoods and possibilities 
of our circumstances, I probably suffered more than 
most of my fellow servants. I had known what it 
was to experience kind, and even tender treatment ; 
they had known nothing of the sort. Life, to them, 
had been rough and thorny, as well as dark. They 
had — most of them — lived on my old master's farm in 
Tuckahoe, and had felt the reign of Mr. Plummer's 
rule. The overseer had written his character on the 
living parchment of most of their backs, and left them 
callous ; my back (thanks to my early removal from 
the plantation to Baltimore,) was yet tender. I had 
left a kind mistress at Baltimore, who was almost a 
mother to me. She was in tears when we parted, and 
the probabilities of ever seeing her again, trembling 
H* 12 


in the balance as they did, could not be viewed with- 
out alarm and agon3\ The thought of leaving that 
kind mistress forever, and, worse still, of being the 
slave of Andrew Anthony — a man who, but a few 
days before the division of the property, had, in my 
presence, seized my brother Perry by the throat, 
dashed him on the ground, and with the heel of his 
boot stamped him on the head, until the blood gushed 
from his nose and ears — was terrible ! This fiendish 
proceeding liad no better apology than the fact, that 
Perry had gone to play, when Master Andrew wanted 
him for some trifling service. This cruelty, too, was 
of a piece with his general character. After inflict- 
ing his heavy blows on my brother, on observing me 
looking at him with intense astonishment, he said, 
" That is the way I will serve you, one of these days ; " 
meaning, no doubt, when I should come into his pos- 
session. This threat, the reader may well suppose, 
was not very tranquilizing to my feelings. I could 
see that he really thirsted to get hold of me. But I 
was there only for a few days. I had not received 
any orders, and had violated none, and there was, 
therefore, no excuse for flogging me. 

At last, the anxiety and suspense were ended ; and 
they ended, thanks to a kind Providence, in accord- 
ance with my wishes. I fell to the portion of Mrs. 
Lucretia — the dear lady who bound up my head, when 
the savage Aunt Katy was adding to my suflerings 
her bitterest maledictions. 

Capt. Thomas Auld and Mrs. Lucretia at once de- 
jided on my return to Baltimore. They knew liow 
sincerely and warmly Mrs. Hngh Auld was attached 


to me, and how delighted Mr. Hugh's son would be 
to have me back ; and, withal, having no immediate 
use for one so young, they willingly let me off to 

I need not stop here to narrate my joy on returning 
to Baltimore, nor that of little Tommy ; nor the tearful 
joy of his mother; nor the evident satisfaction of 
Master Hugh. I was just one month absent from 
Baltimore, before the matter was decided ; and the 
time really seemed full six months. 

One trouble over, and on comes another. The 
slave's life is full of uncertainty. I had returned to 
Baltimore but a short time, when the tidings reached 
me, that my kind friend, Mrs. Lucretia, who was only 
second in my regard to Mrs. Hugh Anld, was dead, 
leaving her husband and only one child — a daughter, 
named Amanda. 

Shortly after the death of Mrs. Lucretia, strange to 
say, Master Andrew died, leaving his wife and one 
child. Thus, the whole family of Anthonys was 
swept away ; only two children remained. All this 
happened w^ithinfive years of my leaving Col. Lloyd's. 

ISO alteration took place in the condition of the 
slaves, in consequence of these deaths, yet I could not 
help feeling less secure, after the death of my friend, 
Mrs. Lucretia, than 1 had done during her life. While 
she lived, I felt that I had a strong friend to plead for 
me in any emergency. Ten years ago, while speak- 
ing of the state of things in our family, after the 
events just named, I used this language : 

" Now all the property of my old master, slaves included, 


was in the hands of strangers — strangers who had nothing- fo 
do in accumulating it. Not a slave was left free. All re- 
mained slaves, from the youngest to the oldest. If any one 
thing in my experience, more than another, served, to deepen 
my conviction of the infernal character of slavery, and to fill 
me with unutterable loathing of slaveholders, it was their base 
ingratitude to my poor old grandmother. She had served my 
old master faithfully from youth to old age. She had been 
the source of all his wealth ; she had peopled his plantation 
with slaves ; she had become a great-grandmother in his ser- 
vice. She had rocked him in infancy, attended him in child- 
hood, served him through life, and at his death wiped from his 
icy brow the cold death-sweat, and closed his eyes forever. She 
was nevertheless left a slave — a slave for life — a slave in the 
hands of strangers ; and in their hands she saw her children, 
her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren, divided, like so 
many sheep, without being gratified with the small privilege 
of a single word, as to their or her own destiny. And, to cap 
the climax of their base ingratitude and fiendish barbarity, my 
grandmother, who was now very old, having outlived my old 
master and all his children, having seen the beginning and end 
of all of them, and her present owners finding she was of but 
little value, her frame already racked with the pains of old 
age, and complete helplessness fast stealing over her once ac- 
tive limbs, they took her to the woods, built her a little hut, 
put up a little mud-chimney, and then made her welcome to 
the privilege of supporting herself there in perfect loneliness ; 
thus virtually turning her out to die ! If my poor old grand- 
mother now lives, she lives to suflfer in utter loneliness ; she 
lives to remember and mourn over the loss of children, the 
loss of grandchildren, and the loss of great-grandchildren. They 
are, in the language of the slave's poet, Whittier. — 


* Gone, gone, sold and gone, 
To the rice swamp dank and lone, 
Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings, 
Where the noisome insect stings, 
"Where the fever-demon strews 
Poison with the falling dews. 
Where the sickly sunbeams glare 
Through the hot and misty air: — 

Gone, gone, sold and gone 

To the rice swamp dank and lone, 

From Virginia hills and waters — 

Woe is me, my stolen daughters ! ' 

"The hearth is desolate. The children, the unconscious 
children, who once sang and danced in her presence, are gone. 
She gropes her ^Yay, in the darkness of age, for a drink of 
water. Instead of the voices of her children, she hears by day 
the moans of the dove, and by night the screams of the hideous 
owl. All is gloom. The grave is at the door. And now, 
when weighed down by the pains and aches of old age, when 
the head inclines to the feet, when the beginning and ending 
of human existence meet, and helpless infancy and painful old 
age combine together — at this time, this most needful time, 
the time for the exercise of that tenderness and affection which 
children only can exercise toward a declining parent — my 
poor old grandmother, the devoted mother of twelve children, 
is left all alone, in yonder little hut, before a few dim embers." 

Two years after the death of Mrs. Lncretia, Master 
Thomas married his second wife. Her name was 
Eowena Hamilton, the eldest daughter of Mr. Wil- 
liam Hamilton, a rich slaveholder on the Eastern 
Shore of Maryland, who lived about five miles from 
St. Michael's, the then place of my master's residence. 

JSTot long after his marriage. Master Thomas had a 


misunderstanding with Master Hugh, and, as a means 
of punishing his brother, he ordered him to send me 

As the gronnd of misunderstanding will serve to 
illustrate the character of southern chivalry, and hu- 
manity, I will relate it. 

Among the children of my xlunt Milly, was a daugh- 
ter, named Henny. When quite a child, Henny had 
fallen into the fire, and had burnt her hands so bad 
that they were of very little use to her. Her fingers 
were drawn almost into the palms of her hands. She 
could make out to do something, but she was consid- 
ered hardly worth the having — of little more value 
than a horse with a broken leg. This unprofitable 
piece of human property, ill shapen, and disfigured, 
Capt. Auld sent off to Baltimore, making his brother 
Hugh welcome to her services. 

After giving poor Henny a fair trial. Master Hugh 
and his wil^e came to the conclusion, that they had no 
use for the crippled servant, and they sent her back to 
Master Thomas. This, the latter took as an act of 
ingratitude, on the part of his brother ; and, as a mark 
of his displeasure, he required him to send me imme- 
diately to St. Michael's, saying, if he cannot keep 
■ "- Ilen^^'' he shall not have ^'' Fred^ 

Here was another shock to my nerves, another 
breaking up of my plans, and another severance of 
mv religious and social alliances. I v/as now a bis: 
boy. '^I had become quite useful tu several young 
colored men, who had made me their teacher. I had 
taught some of them to read, and was accustomed to 
spend many of my leisure hours with them. Our at* 


taclimeut was strong, and I greatly dreaded tlie sep- 
aration, t, But regrets, especially in a slave, are una- 
vailing. I was only a slave ; my wishes were no- 
thing, and my happiness was the sport of my masters. 
My regrets at now leaving Baltimore, were not for 
the same reasons as when I before left that city, to be 
valued and handed over to my proper owner. My 
home was not now the pleasant place it liad formerly 
been. A change had taken place, both in Master 
Hugh, and in his once pious and afiectionate wife. 
The influence of brandy and bad company on him, 
and the influence of slavery and social isolation upon 
her, had wrought disastrously upon the characters of 
both. Thomas was no longer " little Tommy," but 
was a big boy, and had learned to assume the airs of 
liis class toward me. My condition, therefore, in the 
liouse of Master Hugh, v/as not, by any means, so 
comfortable as in former years. My attachments 
were now outside of our family. They were felt to 
those to whom I iinjjarted instruction, and to those 
little white boys from whom I received instruction. 
There, too, vv-as my dear old father, the pious Law- 
son, who was, in christian graces, the very counter- 
part of " Uncle" Tom. The resemblance is so perfect, 
that he might have been the original of Mrs. Stowe's 
christian hero. The thought of leaving these dear 
friends, greatly troubled me, for I was going without 
the hope of ever returning to Baltimore again ; the 
feud between Master Hugh and his brother being bit- 
ter and irreconcilable, or, at least, supposed to be so. 
In addition to thoughts of friends from whom I was 
parting, as I supposed, forever, I had the grief of 



neglected chances of escape to brood over. I liad 
put off running away, until now I was to be placed 
where the opportunities for escaping were much fewer 
than in a large city like Baltimore. 

On my way from Baltimore to St. Michael's, down 
the Chesapeake bay, our sloop — the Amanda — was 
passed by the steamers plying between that city and 
Philadelphia, and I watched the course of those steam- 
ers, and, while going to St. Michael's, I formed a plan 
to escape from slavery ; of which plan, and matters 
connected therewith the kind reader shall learn more 













St. Michael's, tlie village in which was now my 
new home, compared favorably with villages in slave 
states, generally. There were a few comfortable 
dwellings in it, but the place, as a whole, wore a dull, 
slovenly, enterprise-forsaken aspect. The mass of the 
buildings were of wood ; they had never enjoyed the 
artificial adornment of paint, and time and storms had 
worn off the bright color of the wood, leaving them al- 
most as black as buildings charred by a conflagration. 

St. Michael's had, in former years, (previous to 1833, 
for that was the year I went to reside there,) enjoyed 
some reputation as a ship building community, but 
that business had almost entirely given place to oys- 
ter fishing, for the Baltimore and Philadelphia mar- 
kets — a course of life highly unfavorable to morals. 


industry, and manners. Miles river was broad, and 
its" oyster fishing grounds were extensive ; and the 
fishermen were out, often, all day, and a part of the 
nio'ht, during autumn, winter and spring. Tliis ex- 
posure was an excuse for carrying with them, in con- 
siderable quantities, spirituous liquors, the then sup- 
posed best antidote for cold. Each canoe was sup- 
plied with its jug of rum; and tippling, among this 
class of the citizens of St. Michael's, became general. 
This drinking habit, in an ignorant population, fos- 
tered coarseness, vulgarity and an indolent disregard 
for the social improvement of the place, so that it was 
admitted, by the few sober, thinking people who re- 
mained there, that St. Michael's had become a very 
u:isaintly^ as well as an unsightly place, before I went 
there to reside. 

I left Baltimore, for St. Michael's in the month of 
March, 1833. I know the year, because it was the 
one succeeding the first cholera in Baltimore, and was 
the year, also, of that strange phenomenon, when the 
heavens seemed about to part with its starry train. I 
witnessed this gorgeous spectacle, and was awe-struck. 
The air seemed tilled with brio-ht, descendins: niessen- 
gers from the sky. It was about daybreak when I saw 
this sublime scene. I was not without the suggestion, at 
the moment, that it might be the harbinger of the com- 
ing of the Son of Man ; and, in my then state of mind, 
I was prepared to hail Him as my friend and deliverer. 
I had read, that the -" stars shall fall from heaven ;" 
and they were now falling. I was suffering much in 
my mind. It did seem that every time the young ten- 
drils of my aiiection became attached, they were rude- 


Ij broken by some unnatural outside power ; and I 
was beginning to look away to lieaven for the rest de- 
nied me on earth. 

But, to my story. It was now m.ore than seven 
years since I had lived with Master Thomas Auld, in 
the family of my old master, on Col. Lloyd's planta- 
tion. We were almost entire strangers to each other ; 
for, when I knew him at tlie house of my old master, it 
was not as a master^ but simply as " Captain Auld," 
who had married old master's daughter. All my les- 
sons concerning his temper and disposition, and the 
best methods of pleasing him, were yet to be learnt. 
Slaveholders, liowever, are not very ceremonious in 
approaching a slav^e ; and my ignorance of the new 
material in the shape of a master was but transient. 
Kor was my new mistress long in making known her 
animus. She was not a '' Miss Lucretia," traces of 
whom I yet remembered, and the more especially, as 
I sav/ them shining in the face of little Amanda, her 
daughter, now living under a step-mother's govern- 
ment. I had not forgotten the soft hand, guided by a 
tender heart, that bound up with healing balsam the 
gash made in my head by Ike, the son of Abel. 
Thomas and Rowena, I found to be a well-matched 
pair. He was stingy, and she was cruel ; and — v/hat 
was Quite natural in such cases — she possessed the 
ability to make him as cruel as herself, while she could 
easily descend to the level of his meanness. In the 
house of Master Thomas, I was made — for the first 
tinie in sev'en years — to feel the pinchings of hunger, 
and this was not very easy to bear. 

For, in all the changes of Master Hugh's family, 


there was no cliaiige in the bountifulness with which 
they siipplied me with food. ISTot to give a slave 
enough to eat, is meanness intensified, and it is so recog- 
nized among slaveholders generally, in Maryland. The 
rule is, no matter how coarse the food, only let there be 
enough of it. This is the theory, and — in the part of 
Maryland I came from — the general practice accords 
with this theory. Lloyd's plantation was an exception, 
as was, also, the house of Master Thomas Auld. 

All know the lightness of Indian corn-meal, as an 
article of food, and can easily judge from the follow- 
in 2: facts whether the statements I have made of the 
stinginess of Master Thomas, are borne out. There 
were four slaves of us in the kitchen, and four whites 
in the great house — ^Thomas Auld, Mrs. Auld, Ilada- 
way Auld, (brother of Thomas Auld,) and little 
Amanda. The names of the slaves in the kitchen, 
were Eliza, my sister ; Priscilla, my aunt ; Ilenny, my 
cousin ; and myself. There were eight persons in the 
family. There was, each week, one half bushel of 
corn-meal brought from the mill ; and in the kitchen, 
corn-meal was almost our exclusive food, for very lit- 
tle else was allowed us. Out of this half bushel of 
corn-meal, the family in the great house had a small 
loaf every morning ; thus leaving us, in the kitchen, 
with not quite a half a peck of meal per week, apiece. 
This allowance was less than half the allowance of 
food on Lloyd's plantation. It was not enough to sub- 
sist upon ; and we were, therefore, reduced to the 
wretched necessity of living at the expense of our 
neighbors. We were compelled either to beg, or to 
steal, and we did both. I frankly confess, that while 


I liated everything like stealing, as such^ I neverthe- 
less did not hesitate to take food, when I was hungry, 
wherever I could find it. Xor was this practice the 
mere result of an unreasoning instinct ; it was, in my 
case, the result of a clear apprehension of the claims 
of morality. I weighed and considered the matter 
closely, before I ventured to satisfy my hunger by 
such means. Considering that my labor and person 
were the property of Master Thomas, and that I was 
by him deprived of the necessaries of life — necessa- 
ries obtained by my own labor — it was easy to de- 
duce the right to supply myself with what was my 
own. It was simply appropriating what was my own 
to the use of my master, since the health and strength 
derived from such food were exerted in his service. 
To be sure, this was stealing, according to the law and 
gospel I heard from St. Michael's pulpit ; but I had 
already begun to attach less importance to what 
dropped from that quarter, on that point, while, as 
yet, I retained my reverence for religion. It was not 
always convenient to steal from master, and the same 
reason why I might, innocently, steal from him, did 
not seem to justify me in stealing from others. In 
the case of my master, it was only a question of re- 
moval — the taking his meat out of one tub, and put- 
ting it into another ; the ownership of the meat was 
not affected hj the transaction. At first, he owned 
it in the tulj^ and last, he owned it in me. His meat 
house was not always open. There was a strict watch 
kept on that point, and the key was on a large bunch 
in Rowena's pocket. A great many times have we, 
poor creatures, been severely pinched with hunger, 

190 LIFE AS A SLA-vTi;. 

vrlien meat and bread liave been moulding under the 
lock, vWiile the key was in the pocket of our mistress. 
This had been so vrhen she linevj we were nearly half 
starved ; and yet, that mistress, with saintly air, would 
kneel with her husband, and pray each morning that 
a merciful God would bless them in basket and in 
store, and save them, at last, in his kingdom. But I 
proceed with the argument. 

It was necessary that the right to steal from others 
should be established ; and this could only rest upon 
a wider range of generalization than that which sup- 
posed the right to steal from my master. 

It was sometime before I arrived at this clear right. 
The reader will get some idea of my train of reason- 
ing, by a brief statement of the case. '' I am," 
thought I, "not only the slave of Master Thomas, but 
I am the slave of society at large. Society at large 
has bound itself, in form and in fact, to assist Mas- 
ter Thomas in robbing me of my rightful liberty, 
and of the just reward of my labor; therefore, 
w^hatever rights I have against Master Thomas, I 
have, equally, against those confederated with him 
in robbing me of liberty. As society has marked me 
out as privileged plunder, on the principle of self- 
preservation I am justified in plundering in turn. 
Since each slave belongs to all ; all must, therefore, be- 
long to each." 

I shall here make a jjrofession of faith which may 
shock some, offend others, and be dissented from by 
all. It is this : Within the bounds of his just earn- 
ings, I hold that the slave is fully justified in helping 
himself to the gold and silver^ and the lest a]);parrel of 


Ms master, or that of any other slaveholder / and that 
such tahing is not stealing in any just sense of that icord. 

The morality oi free society can have no applica- 
tion to slave society. Slaveholders have made it al- 
most impossible for the slave to commit any crime, 
known either to the laws of God or to tlie laws of man. 
If he steals, he takes liis own ; if he kills his master, 
he imitates only the heroes of the revolution. Slave- 
holders I hold to be individually and collectively re- 
sponsible for all the evils which grow out of the hor- 
rid relation, and I believe they will be so held at the 
judgment, in the sight of a just God. Make a man a 
slave, and you rob him of moral responsibility. Free- 
dom of choice is the essence of all accountability. 
But my kind readers are, probably, less concerned 
about my opinions, than about that which more nearly 
touches my personal exnerience ; albeit, my opinions 
have, in some sort, been formed by that experience. 

Bad as slaveholders are, I have seldom met with 
one so entirely destitute of every element of charac- 
ter capable of inspiring respect, as was my present 
master, Capt. Thomas Auld. 

When I lived with him, I thought him incapable 
of a noble action. The leading trait in his character 
was intense selfishness. I think he was fully aware 
of this fact himself, and often tried to conceal 
it. Capt. Auld was not a horn slaveholder — not a 
birthright member of the slaveholding oligarchy. 
He was only a slaveholder by marriage-right j and, 
of all slaveholders, these latter are, hyfar, the most 
exacting. There was in him all the love of domina- 
tion, tlie pride of mastery, and the swagger of author- 


itj, but his rule lacked tlie vital element of consist- 
ency. He could be cruel ; but his methods of show- 
ing it were cowardly, and evinced his meanness rather 
than his spirit. His commands were strong, his en- 
forcement weak. 

Slaves are not insensible to the whole-souled char- 
acteristics of a generous, dashing slaveholder, who is 
fearless of consequences ; and they prefer a master 
of this bold and darins^ kind — even with the risk of 
being shot down for impudence — to the fretful, little 
soul, who never nses the lash but at the suggestion 
of a love of gain. 

Slaves, too, readily distinguish between the birth- 
rio-ht bearinor of the orio^inal slaveholder and the as- 
sumed attitudes of the accidental slaveholder ; and 
while they cannot respect either, they certainly des- 
pise the latter more than the former. 

The luxury of having slaves wait upon him was 
something new to Master Thomas ; and for it he was 
wholly unprepared. He was a slaveholder, without 
the ability to hold or manage his slaves. AYe seldom 
called him " master," but generally addressed him by 
his "bay craft" title — " Caj^t. AiildP It is easy to 
Bee that such conduct might do much to make him 
appear awkward, and, consequently, fretful. His 
wife was especially solicitous to have us call her hus- 
band " master." Is your 'tnaster at the store ? " — 
" Where is your master f " — " Go and tell your mas- 
ter '"^ — "I will make your 7nast<?r acquainted wn'th 
your conduct" — she would say ; but we were inapt 
scholars. Especially were I and my sister Eliza in- 
apt in this particular. Aunt Priscilla was less stub- 


born and defiant in lier spirit than Eliza and myself ; 
and, I think, her road was less rough than ours. 

In the month of Angust, 1833, when I had almost 
become desperate nnder the treatment of Master 
Thomas, and when I entertained more strongly than 
ever the oft-repeated determination to run away, a 
circumstance occurred which seemed to promise 
brighter and better days for us all. At a Methodist 
camp-meeting, held in the Bay Side, (a famous place 
for camp-meetings,) about eight miles from St. Mi- 
chael's, Master Thomas came out with a profession 
of religion. He had long been an object of interest 
to the church, and to the ministers, as I had seen by 
the repeated visits and lengthy exhortations of the 
latter. He was a fish quite worth catching, for he 
had money and standing. In the community of St. 
Michael's he was equal to the best citizen. He waa 
strictly temperate ; fe^^haps^ from principle, but most 
likely, from interest. There was very little to do for 
him, to give him the appearance of piety, and to make 
him a pillar in the church. Well, the camp-meeting 
continued a week ; people gathered from all parts of 
the county, and two steamboat loads came from Bal- 
timore. The ground was happily chosen ; seats were 
arranged ; a stand erected ; a rude altar fenced in, 
fronting the preachers' stand, with straw in it for the 
accommodation of mourners. This latter would hold 
at least one hundred persons. In front, and on the 
sides of the preachers' stand, and outside the long 
rows of seats, rose the first class of stately tents, each 
vieing with the other in strength, neatness, and capa- 
city for accommodating its inmates. Behind this 
I 13 


first circle of tents was another, less imposing, whicli 
readied round the camp-ground to the speakers' 
stand. Outside this second class of tents were cov- 
ered wagons, ox carts, and vehicles of every shape 
and size. These served as tents to their owners. Out- 
side of these, huge fires were burning, in all direc- 
tions, where roasting, and boiling, and frying, were 
going on, for the benefit of those who were attending 
to their own spiritual welfare within the circle. Be- 
hind the preachers' stand, a narrow space was 
marked out for the use of the colored people. There 
were no seats provided for this class of persons ; the 
preachers addressed them, " over' the left^^ if they ad- 
di-essed tliem at all. After the preaching was over, 
at every service, an invitation was given to mourners 
to come into the pen ; and, in some cases, ministers 
went out to persuade men and women to come in. 
By one of these ministers. Master Thomas Auld was 
persuaded to go inside the pen. I was deeply inter- 
ested in that matter, and followed ; and, though col- 
ored people were not allowed either in the pen or in 
front of the preachers' stand, I ventured to take my 
stand at a sort of half-wav place between the blacks 
and whites, where I could distinctly see the move- 
ments of mourners, and especially the progress of 
Master Thomas. 

" If he has got religion," thought I, " he will eman- 
cipate his slaves ; and if he should not do so much as 
this, he will, at any rate, behave toward us more 
kindly, and feed us more generously than he has 
heretofore done." Appealing to my own religious 
experience, and judging my master by what was 


true in my own case, I conld not regard him as 
soundly converted, unless some such good results fol- 
lowed his profession of religion. 

But in my expectations I was doubly disappointed ; 
Master Thomas was Master Thomas still. The fruits 
of his righteousness were to show themselves in no 
such way as I had anticipated. His conversion was 
not to change his relation toward men — at any rate 
not toward black men — but toward God. My 
faith, I confess, was not great. There was something 
in his appearance that, in my mind, cast a doubt over 
his conversion. Standing where I did, I could see 
his every movement. I watched very narrowly while 
he remained in the little pen ; and although I saw 
that his face was extremely red, and his hair dishev- 
eled, and though I heard him groan, and saw a stray 
tear halting on his cheek, as if inquiring " which way 
shall I go ? " — I could not wholly contide in the gen- 
uineness of his coversion. The hesitating behavior 
of that tear-drop, and its loneliness, distressed me, and 
cast a doubt upon the whole transaction, of which it 
was a part. But peo23le said, " Capt. Auld had come 
thvoiigh^'^ and it was for me to hope for the best. 1 
was bound to do this, in charity, for I, too, was reli- 
gious, and had been in the church full three years, 
although now I was not more than sixteen years old. 
Slaveholders may, sometimes, have confidence in the 
piety of some of their slaves ; but the slaves seldom 
have confidence in the piety of their masters. "i7^ 
cant (JO to heaven ivith our Mood in his skirts^^^ is a 
settled point in the creed of every slave ; rising su- 
perior to all teaching to the contrary, and standing 


forever as a fixed fact. The highest evidence the 
slaveholder can give the slave of his acceptance with 
God, is the emancipation of his slaves. This is proof 
that he is willing to give np all to God, and for the 
sake of God. J^ot to do this, was, in my estimation, 
and in the opinion of all the slaves, an evidence of 
half-heartedness, and wholly inconsistent with the 
idea of genuine conversion. I had read, also, some- 
where in the Methodist Discipline, the following 
question and answer: 

" Question. What shall be done for the extirpation 
of slavery ? 

" Answer. We declare that we are as much as ever 
convinced of the great evil of slavery ; therefore, 
no slaveholder shall be eligible to any official station 
in our church." 

These words sounded in my ears for a long time, 
and encouraged me to hope. But, as I have before 
said, I was doomed to disappointment. Master 
Thomas seemed to be aware of my hopes and ex- 
pectations concerning him. I have thought, before 
now, that he looked at me in answer to my glances, 
as much as to say, " I will teach you, young man, 
that, though I have parted with my sins, I have not 
parted with my sense. I shall hold my slaves, and 
go to heaven too." 

Possibly, to convince us that we must not presume 
too much upon his recent conversion, he became 
rather more rigid and stringent in his exactions. 
There always was a scarcity of good nature about 
the man ; but now his whole countenance was 
soured over with the seemings of piety. His reli- 


gion, therefore, neither made him emancipate his 
slaves, nor caused him to treat them with greater hu- 
manity. If religion had any effect on his character 
at all, it made him more cruel and hateful in all his 
ways. The natural wickedness of his heart had not 
been removed, but only reenforced, by the profession 
of religion. Do I judge him harshly? God forbid. 
Facts are facts. Capt. Auld made the greatest pro- 
fession of piety. His honse was, literally, a house of 
prayer. In the morning, and in the evening, loud 
prayers and hymns were heard there, in which both 
himself and his wife joined; yet, no more meal was 
brought from the mill, no more attention was paid to 
the moral welfare of the kitchen ; and nothing was 
done to make us feel that the heart of Master Thomas 
was one whit better than it was before he went into 
the little pen, opposite to the preachers' stand, on 
the camp ground. 

Our hopes (founded on the discipline) soon vanished ; 
for the authorities let him into the church at once, 
and before he was out of his term of j[>r6bation, I 
heard of his leading class ! He distinguished himself 
greatly among the brethren, and was soon an exhorter. 
His progress was almost as rapid as the growth of the 
fabled vine of Jack's bean. No man was more active 
than ho, in revivals. He would go many miles to 
assist in carrying them on, and in getting outsiders 
interested in religion. His house being one of the 
holiest, if not the happiest in St. Michael's, became 
the " preachers' home." These preachers evidently 
liked to share Master Thomas's hospitality ; for while 
he starved us, he stuffed them. Three or four of these 


ambassadors of tlie gospel — according to slavery — - 
have been there at a time ; all living on the fat of 
the hind, wliile we, in the kitchen, were nearly starv- 
ing. Not often did we get a smile of recognition from 
these holy men. They seemed almost as nnconcerned 
about our getting to heaven, as they were about our 
getting out of slavery. To this general charge there 
was one exception — the Rev. Geokge Cookmax. Un- 
like Rev. Messrs. Storks, Ewry, Hickey, Humphrey 
and Cooper, (all whom were on the St. Michael's cir- 
cuit,) he kindly took an interest in our temporal and 
spiritual welfare. Our souls and our bodies were all 
alike sacred in his sight ; and he really had a good 
deal of genuine anti-slavery feeling mingled Avith his 
colonization ideas. There was not a slave in our 
neig!il)()rhood that did not love, and almost venerate, 
Mr. Cookman. It was pretty generally believed that 
he had been chieflv instrumental in brins^ino^ one of 
the laro^est slaveholders — Mr. Samuel Harrison — in 
that neighborhood, to emancipate all his sl.-ves, and, 
indeed, the general impression was, that Mr. Cook- 
man had labored faithfully with slaveholders, when- 
ever he met them, to induce them to emancipate their 
bondmen, and that he did this as a religious dat3^ 
When this good man was at our house, we were all 
sure to be called in to prayers in the morning ; and he 
was not slow in making inquiries as to the state of our 
minds, nor in giving us a word of exhortation and of 
encouragement. Great was the sorrow of all the 
slaves, when this faithful preacher of the gospel was 
removed iVom the Talbot county circuit. He was an 
eloquent preacher, and possessed what few ministers, 


south of Mason Dixon's line, possess, or dare to show, 
viz : a warm and philanthropic heart. TheMr. Cook- 
man, of whom I speak, was an Englishman by birth, 
and perished vdiile on his way to England, on board 
the ill-fated President. Could the thousands of slaves 
in Maryland, know the fate of the good man, to whose 
words of comfort they were so largely indebted, tliey 
would thank me for dropping a tear on this page, in 
memory of their tavorite preacher, friend and bene- 

But, let me return to Master Thomas, and to my 
experience, after his conversion. In Baltimore, I 
could, occasionally, get into a Sabbath school, among 
the free chiklren, and receive lessons, with the rest ; 
but, having already learned both to read and to write, 
I was more of a teacher than a pupil, even there. 
When, however, I went back to the Eastern Shore, and 
was at the house of Master Thomas, I was neither al- 
lowed to teach, nor to be taught. The whole com- 
munity — with but a single exception, among the 
whites — frowned upon everything like imparting in- 
struction either to slaves or to free colored persons. 
That single exception, a pious young man, named 
Wilson, asked me, one day, if I would like to assist 
him in teaching a little Sabbath school, at the house 
of a free colored man in St. Michael's, named James 
Mitchell. The idea was to me a delightful one, and 
I told him I would gladly devote as much of my Sab- 
baths as I could command, to that most laudable 
work. Mr. "Wilson soon mustered up a dozen old 
spelling books, and a few testaments ; and w^e com- 
menced operations, with some twenty scholars, in our 

goo LIFE AS A SI^VP:. 

Sunday school. Here, tliouglit I, is something worth 
living for ; here is an excellent chance for usefulness ; 
and I shall soon have a company of young friends, 
lovers of knowledge, like some of my Baltimore friends, 
from whom 1 now felt parted forever, 

Onr first Sabhath passed delightfully, and I spent 
the week after very joyously. I could not go to Bal- 
timore, but I could make a little Baltimore here. At 
our second meeting, I learned that there was some 
objection to the existence of the Sabbath school ; and, 
sure enough, we had scarcely got at work — good work, 
simply teaching a few colored children how to read 
the gospel of the Son of God — when in rushed a mob, 
headed by Mr. Wright Fairbanks and Mr. Garrison 
"West — two class-leaders — and Master Thomas ; who, 
armed with sticks and other missiles, drove us off, and 
commanded us never to meet for such a purpose again. 
One of this pious crew told me, that as for my. part, 
I wanted to be another IS'at Turner ; and if I did not 
look out, I should get as many balls into me, as E'at 
did into him. Thus ended the infant Sabbath school, 
in the town of St. Michael's. The reader will not be 
surprised when I say, that the breaking up of my 
Sabbath school, by these class-leaders, and professed- 
ly holy men, did not serve to strengthen my religious 
convictions. The cloud over my St. Michael's home 
grew heavier and blacker than ever. 

It was not merely the agency of Master Thomas, in 
breaking up and destroying my Sabbath school, that 
shook my confidence in the power of southern reli- 
gion to make men wiser or better ; but I saw in him 
all the cruelty and meanness, after his conversioHj 


wliicli he had exhibited before he made a profession 
of religion. His cruelty and meanness were espe- 
cially displayed in his treatment of my unfortunate 
cousin, Henny, whose lameness made her a burden to 
him. I have no extraordinary personal hard usage 
toward myself to complain of, against him, but I have 
seen him tie up the lame and maimed woman, and 
whip her in a manner most brutal, and shocking ; and 
then, with blood-chilling blasphemy, he would quote 
the passage of scripture, " That servant which knew 
his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did ac- 
cording to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes." 
Master would keep this lacerated woman tied up by 
her wrists, to a bolt in the joist, three, four and five 
hours at a time. He would tie her up early in the 
morning, whip her with a cowskin before breakfast ; 
leave her tied up ; go to his store, and, returning to 
his dinner, repeat the castigation ; laying on the rug- 
ged lash, on flesh already made raw by repeated blows. 
He seemed desirous to get the poor girl out of exist- 
ence, or, at any rate, off his hands. In proof of this, 
he afterwards gave her away to his sister Sarah, (Mrs. 
Cline ;) but, as in the case of Master Hugh, Henny 
was soon returned on his hands. Finally, upon a pre- 
tense that he could do nothing with her, (I use his 
own words,) he " set her adrift, to take care of herself." 
Here was a recently converted man, holding, with 
tight grasp, the well- framed, and able bodied slaves 
left him by old master— the persons, who, in freedom, 
could have taken care of themselves ; yet, turning 
loose the only cripple among them, virtually to starve 
and die. 



"No doubt, had Master Thomas been asked, by some 
pious northern brother, lohy he continued to sustain 
the relation of a slaveholder, to those whom he re- 
tained, his answer would have been precisely the 
same as many other religious slaveholders have re- 
turned to that inquiry, viz : " I hold my slaves for 
their own good." 

Bad as my condition was when I lived with Mas- 
ter Thomas, I was soon to experience a life far more 
goading and bitter. The many differences spring- 
ing up between myself and Master Thomas, owing to 
the clear perception I had of his character, and the 
boldness with which I defended mvself asrainst his 
capricious complaints, led him to declare that I was 
unsuited to his wants ; that my city life had affected 
me perniciously ; that, in fact, it had almost ruined me 
for every good purpose, and had fitted me for every- 
thing that was bad. One of my greatest faults, or 
offenses, was that of letting his horse get away, and 
go down to the farm belonging to his father-in-law. 
The animal had a liking for that farm, with which I 
fully sympathized. Whenever I let it out, it would 
go dashing down the road to Mr. Hamilton's, as if going 
on a grand frolic. My horse gone, of course I must 
go after it. The explanation of our mutual attach- 
ment to the place is the same ; the horse found there 
good pasturage, and I found there plenty of bread. 
Mr. Hamilton had his faults, but starving his slaves 
was not among them. He gave food, in abundance, 
and that, too, of an excellent quality. In Mr. Ham- 
ilton's cook — Aunt Mary — I found a most generous 
and considerate friend. She never allowed me to go 


tiiere without giving me bread enough to make good 
the deficiencies of a day or two. Master Thomas at 
last resolved to endure my behavior no longer; he 
could neither keep me, nor his horse, we liked so well 
to be at his father-in-law's farm. I had now lived 
with him nearly nine months, and he had given me 
a number of severe whippings, without any visible 
improvement in my character, or my conduct; and 
now he was resolved to put me out — as he said — ^Ho 
he hvohen^'' 

There was, in the Bay Side, very near the camp 
ground, where my master got his religious impres- 
sions, a man named Edward Covey, who enjoyed the 
execrated reputation, of being a first rate hand at 
breaking young negroes. This Covey v,'as a poor 
man, a farm renter; and this reputation, (hateful as 
it was to the slaves and to all good men,) was, at the 
same time, of immense advantage to him. It enabled 
him to get his larm tilled with very little ex23ense, 
compared with what it would have cost him without 
this most extraordinary reputation. Some slavehold- 
ers thought it an advantage to let Mr. Covey have 
the government of their slaves a year or two, almost 
free of charge, for the sake of the excellent training 
such slaves got under his happy management ! Like 
some horse breakers, noted for their skill, who ride 
the best horses in th« country without expense, Mr. 
Covey could have under him, the most fiery bloods 
of the neighborhood, for the simple reward of re- 
turning them to their owners, well broken. Added 
to the natural fitness of Mr. Covey for the duties 
of his profession, he was said to " enjoy religion," 


and was as strict in the cultivation of piety, as he was 
in the cultivation of his farm. I was made aware of 
his character by some who had been under his hand ; 
and while I could not look forward to going to him 
with any pleasure, I was glad to get away from St. 
Michael's. I was sure of getting enough to eat at 
Covey's, even if I suffered in other respects. This, 
to a hungry man, is not a prospect to be regarded 
with indifference. 












The morning of the first of January, 1834, with its 
chilling wind and pinching frost, quite in harmony 
with the winter in my own mind, found me, with my 
little bundle of clothing on the end of a stick, swung 
across my shoulder, on the main road, bending my 
way toward Covey's, whither I had been imperiously 
ordered by Master Thomas. The latter had been as 
good as his word, and had committed me, without re- 
serve, to the mastery of Mr. Edward Covey. Eight 
or ten years had now passed since I had been taken 
from my grandmother's cabin, in Tuckahoe ; and 
these years, for the most part, I had spent in Bal- 
timore, where — as the reader has already seen — I was 
treated with comparative tenderness. I was now 
about to sound profounder depths in slave life. The 


rigors of a field, less tolerable tlian the field of bat- 
tle, awaited me. My new master was notorious for 
his fierce and savage disposition, and my only conso- 
lation in going to live with him was, the certainty of 
finding him precisely as represented by common fame. 
There was neither joy in my heart, nor elasticity in 
my step, as I started in search of the tyrant's home. 
Starvation made me glad to leave Thomas Auld's, and 
the cruel lash made me dread to go to Covey's. Es- 
cape was impossible ; so, heavy and sad, I paced tlie 
seven miles, which separated Covey's house from St. 
Michael's — thinking much by the solitary way — 
averse to my condition ; but thinking was all I could 
do. Like a fish in a net, allowed to play for a time, 
I was now drawn rapidly to the shore, secured at all 
points. " I am," thought I, " but the sport of a 
power which makes no account, either of my welfiire 
or of my happiness. By a law which I can clearly 
comprehend, but cannot evade nor resist, I am ruth- 
lessly snatched from the hearth of a fond grandmother, 
and hurried away to the home of a mysterious ' old 
master ; ' again I am removed from there, to a master 
in Baltimore ; thence am I snatched away to the 
Eastern Shore, to be valued with the beasts of the 
field, and, with them, divided and set apart for a pos- 
sessor ; then I am sent back to Baltimore ; and by 
the time I have formed new attachments, and have be- 
gun to hope that no more rude shocks shall touch me, 
a difi'erence arises between brothers, and I am again 
broken up, and sent to St. Michael's ; and now, from 
the latter place, I am footing my way to the liome of 
a new master, where, I am given to understand, that, 

covey's residence THE FAMILY. 207 

like a wild young working animal, I am to be broken 
to the yoke of a bitter and life-long bondage." 

With thoughts and reflections like these, I came in 
sight of a small Y\'ood-colored building, about a mile 
from the main road, which, from the description I had 
received, at starting, I easily recognized as m}^ new 
home. The Chesapeake bay — upon the j utting banks 
of which the little wood-colored house w^as standins; — 
white with foam, raised by the heavy north-west 
wind ; Poplar Island, covered with a thick, black 
pine forest, standing out amid this half ocean ; and 
Kent Point, stretching its sandy, desert-like shores 
out into the foam-crested bay, — were all in sight, and 
deepened the wild and desolate aspect of my new 

The good clothes I had brought with me from Bal- 
timore were now worn thin, and had not been re- 
placed ; for Master Thomas was as little careful to 
provide us against cold, as against hunger. Met here 
by a north wind, sweeping through an open space of 
forty miles, I was glad to make any port ; and, there- 
fore, I speedily pressed on to the little wood-colored 
house. The family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Covey ; 
Miss Kemp, (a broken-backed woman,) a sister of 
Mrs. Covey ; William Hughes, cousin to Edward Co- 
vey ; Caroline, the cook ; Bill Smith, a hired man ; 
and myself. Bill Smith, Bill Hughes, and myself, 
were the working force of the farm, which consisted 
of three or four hundred acres. I was now, for the 
first time in my life, to be a field hand ; and in my 
new employment I found myself even more awkward 
than a green country boy may be supposed to be, 


■Qpon his first entrance into the bewildering scenes of 
citj life ; and mj awkwardness gave me much trouble. 
Strange and unnatural as it may seem, I had been at 
my new home but three days, before Mr. Covey, (my 
brother in the Methodist church,) gave me a bitter 
foretaste of what was in reserve for me. I presume 
he thought, that since he had but a single year in which 
to complete his work, the sooner he began, the bet- 
ter. Perhaps he thought that, by coming to blows at 
once, we should mutually better understand our rela- 
tions. Bat to whatever motive, direct or indirect, 
the cause may be referred, I had not been in his pos- 
session three whole days, before he subjected me to a 
most brutal chastisement. Under his heavy blows, 
blood flowed freely, and wales were left on my back 
as large as my little finger. The sores on my back, 
from this flogging, continued for weeks, for they were 
kept open by the rough and coarse cloth which I wore 
for shirting. The occasion and details of this first 
chapter of my experience as a field hand, must be 
told, that the reader may see how unreasonable, as 
well as how cruel, my new master. Covey, was. The 
wdiole thing I found to be characteristic of the man ; 
and I was probably treated no worse by him than 
scores of lads who had previously been committed 
to him, for reasons similar to those which induced 
my master to place me with him. But, here are 
the facts connected with the afi'air, precisely as they 

On one of the coldest days of the whole month of 
January, 1834, I was ordered, at day break, to get a 
load of wood, from a forest about two miles from the 


house. In order to perform tliis work, Mr. Covey gave 
me a pair of unbroken oxen, for, it seems, liis breaking 
abilities bad not been turned in this direction ; and I 
may remark, in passing, tbat working animals in the 
south, are seldom so well trained as in the north. In 
due form, and with all proper ceremony, I v/as intro- 
duced to this huge yoke of unbroken oxen, and was 
carefully told which was " Buck," and which was 
" Darby " — which was the " in hand," and which was 
the " off hand " ox. The master of this important 
ceremony was no less a person than Mr. Covey, him- 
self ; and the introduction, was the first of the kind I 
had ever had. My life, hitherto, had led me away 
from horned cattle, and I had no knowledge of the 
art of managing them. What was meant by the " in 
ox," as against the " off ox," when both were equally 
fastened to one cart, and under one yoke, I could not 
very easily divine ; and the difference, implied by the 
names, and the peculiar duties of each, were alike 
Greek to mic. Why was not the " off ox " called the 
" in ox ? " Where and what is the reason for this dis- 
tinction in names, when there is none in the things 
themselves ? After initiating me into the " woa^"^ 
" hacW " gee^"^ " hither " — the entire spoken language 
between oxen and driver — Mr. Covey took a rope, 
about ten feet long and one inch thick, and placed 
one end of it around the horns of the " in hand ox," 
and gave the other end to me, telling me that if the 
oxen started to run away, as the scamp knew they 
would, I must hold on to the rope and stop them. I 
need not tell any one who is acquainted with either 
the strength or the disposition of an untamed ox, that 



this order was about as unreasonable, as a command 
to shoulder a mad bull ! I had never driven oxen be- 
fore, and I was as awkward, as a driver, as it is pos- 
sible to conceive. It did not answer for me to plead 
ignorance, to Mr. Covey ; there was something in his 
manner that quite forbade that. He was a man to 
whom a slave seldom felt any disposition to speak. 
Cold, distant, morose, with a face wearing all the 
marks of captious pride and malicious sternness, he 
repelled all advances. Covey was not a large man ; 
he was only about five feet ten inches in height, I 
should think ; short necked, round shoulders ; of 
quick and wiry motion, of thin and wolfish visage ; 
with a pair of small, greenish-gray eyes, set well back 
under a forehead without dignity, and constantly in 
motion, and floating his passions, rather tlian his 
thoughts, in sight, but denying them utterance in 
words. The creature presented an appearance alto- 
gether ferocious and sinister, disagreeable and forbid- 
ding, in the extreme. When he spoke, it was from 
the corner of his mouth, and in a sort of light growl, 
like a dog, when an attempt is made to take a bone 
from him. The fellow had already made me believe 
him even v:orse than he had been represented. With 
his directions, and without stopping to question, I 
started for the woods, quite anxious to perform my 
first exploit in driving, in a creditable manner. The 
distance from the house to the woods gate — a full mile, 
I should think — vras passed over with very little difii- 
culty ; for although the animals ran, I was fleet 
enough, in the open field, to keep pace with them ; 
especially as they pulled me along at the end of the 


rope ; but, on reaching the woods, I was speedily 
thrown into a distressing plight. The animals took 
fright, and started off ferociously into the woods, carry- 
ing the cart, full tilt, against trees, over stumps, and 
dashing from side to side, in a manner altogether fright- 
ful. As I held the rope, I expected every moment 
to be crushed between the cart and the huge trees, 
among which they were so furiously dashing. After 
running thus for several minutes, my oxen were, 
finally, brought to a stand, by a tree, against which 
they dashed themselves with great violence, upsetting 
the cart, and entangling themselves among sundry 
young saplings. By the shock, the body of the cart 
was flung in one direction, and the wheels and tongue 
in another, and all in the greatest confusion. There I 
was, all alone, in a thick wood, to which I was a stran 
ger ; my cart upset and shattered ; my oxen entan- 
gled, wild, and enraged ; and I, poor soul ! but a 
green hand, to set all this disorder right. I knew no 
more of oxen, than the ox driver is supposed to know 
of wisdom. After standing a few moments survey- 
ing the damage and disorder, and not without a pre- 
sentiment that this trouble would draw after it oth- 
ers, even more distressing, I took one end of the cart 
body, and, by an extra outlay of strength, I lifted it 
toward the axle-tree, from which it had been violently 
flung ; and after much pulling and straining, I suc- 
ceeded in getting the body of the cart in its place. 
This was an important step out of the difliculty, and 
its performance increased my courage for the work 
which remained to be done. The cart was provided 
with an ax, a tool with which I had become pretty 

212 Lit'E AS A SLAVE. 

well acquainted in the sliip yard at Baltimore. With 
this, I cut down the saplings by which my oxen were 
entangled, and again pursued my journey, with my 
heart in my mouth, lest the oxen should again take it 
into their senseless heads to cut up a caper. My feara 
were groundless. Their spree was over for the pres- 
ent, and the rascals now moved off as soberly as 
thouo^h their behavior had been natural and exem- 
plary. On reaching the part of the forest where I 
had been, the day before, chopping wood, I filled the 
cart with a heavy load, as a security against another 
running away. But, the neck of an ox is equal in 
strength to iron. It defies all ordinary burdens, when 
excited. Tame and docile to a proverb, when well 
trained, the ox is the most sullen and and intractable 
of animals when but half broken to the yoke. 

I noAV saw, in my situation, several points of simi- 
larity with that of the oxen. They were property, so 
was I ; they were to be broken, so was I. Covey was 
to break me, I was to break them ; break and be bro- 
ken — such is life. 

Half the day already gone, and my face not yet 
homeward ! It required only two day's experience 
and observation to teach me, that such apparent waste 
of time would not be lightly overlooked by Covey. 
I therefore hurried toward home ; but, on reaching 
the lane gate, I met with the crowning disaster for 
the day. This gate was a fair specimen of southern 
handicraft. There were two huge posts, eighteen 
inches in diameter, rough hewed and square, and 
the heavy gate was so hung on one of these, that it 
opened only about half the proper distance. On 


arriving here, it was necessary for me to let go the 
end of the rope on the horns of the " in hand ox : " 
and now as soon as the gate was open, and I let go of 
it to get the rope, again, off went mj oxen — making 
nothing of their load — full tilt ; and in doing so they 
caught the huge gate between the wheel and the cart 
body, literally crushing it to splinters, and coming 
only within a few inches of subjecting me to a simi- 
lar crushing, for I was just in advance of the wheel 
when it struck the left gate post. AYith these two 
hair-breadth escapes, I thought I could successfully 
explain to Mr. Covey the delay, and avert appre- 
hended punishment. I was not without a faint hope 
of being commended for the stern resolution which I 
had displayed in accomplishing the difficult task — a 
task which, I afterwards learned, even Covey himself 
would not have undertaken, without first driving the 
oxen for some time in the open field, preparatory 
to their going into the woods. But, in this I was 
disappointed. On coming to him, his countenance 
assumed an aspect of rigid displeasure, and, as I gave 
him a history of the casualties of my trip, his wolfish 
face, with his greenish eyes, became intensely fero- 
cious. " Go back to the woods again," he said, mut- 
tering something else about wasting time. I hastily 
obeyed ; but I had not gone far on my way, vvhen I 
saw him coming after me. My oxen now behaved 
themselves with singular propriety, opposing their 
present conduct to my representation of their former 
antics. I almost wished, now that Covey was com- 
ing, they would do something in keeping with the 
character I had given them ; but no, they had already 


had their spree, and they could afford now to be extra 
good, readily obeying my orders, and seeming to un- 
derstand them quite as well as I did myself. On 
reaching the woods, my tormentor — who seemed all 
the way to be remarking upon the good behavior of 
his oxen — came up to me, and ordered me to stop the 
cart, accompanying the same with the threat that he 
would now teach me how to break gates, and idle 
away my time, when he sent me to the woods. 
Suiting the action to the word, Covey paced off, in his 
own wiry fashion, to a large, black-gum tree, the 
young shoots of which are generally used for ox goads^ 
they being exceedingly tough. Three of these goads, 
from four to six feet long, he cut off, and trimmed 
up, with his large jack-knife. This done, he ordered 
me to take off my clothes. To this unreasonable or- 
der I made no reply, but sternly refused to take off 
my clothing. " If you will beat me," thought I, " you 
shall do so over my clothes." After many threats, 
which made no impression on me, he rushed at me 
with something of the savage fierceness of a wolf, tore 
oft' the few and thinly worn clothes I had on, and pro- 
ceeded to wear out, on my back, the heavy goads 
which he had cut from the gum tree. This flogging 
was the first of a series of floggings ; and though very 
severe, it was less so than many which came after 
it, and these, for offenses far lighter than the gate 

I remained with Mr. Covey one year, (I cannot say 
I lived with him,) and during the first six months that 
I was there, I was whipped, either with sticks or cow- 
gkins, every week. Aching bones and a sore back 


were my constant companions. Frequent as tlie lasb. 
was used, Mr. Covey tliouglit less of it, as a means 
of breaking down my spirit, than that of hard and 
long continued labor. He worked me steadily, up to 
the 23oint of my powers of endurance. From the 
dawn of day in the mornino^, till the darkness was 

u ■ CD' 

complete in the evening, I was kept at hard work, in 
the field or the woods. At certain seasons of the 
year, we were all kept in the field till eleven and 
twelve o'clock at night. At these times, Covey would 
attend us in the field, and ui*ge us on with words or 
blows, as it seemed best to him. He had, in his life, 
been an overseer, and he well understood the business 
of slave driving. There was no deceiving him. He 
knew just what a man or boy could do, and he held 
both to strict account. When he pleased, he would 
work himself, like a very Turk, making everything fly 
before him. It was, however, scarcely necessary for 
Mr. Covey to be really present in the field, to have 
his work go on industriously. He had the faculty of 
making us feel that he was always present. By a se- 
ries of adroitly managed surprises, which he prac- 
ticed, I was prepared to expect him at any moment. 
His plan was, never to approach the spot where his 
hands were at work, in an oj^en, manly and direct 
manner. Xo thief was ever more artful in his devi- 
ces than this man Covey. He would creep and crawl, 
in ditches and gullies ; hide behind stumps and bushes, 
and practice so much of the cunning of the serpent, 
that Bill Smith and I — between ourselves — never 
called him by any other name than " the s7iakeJ^ We 
fancied that in his eyes and his gait we could see a 


snakisli resemblance. One half of his proficiency in 
the art of negro breaking, consisted, I should think, 
in this species of cunning. We were never secure. 
He could see or hear us nearly all the time. He was, 
to us, behind every stump, tree, bush and fence on the 
plantation. He carried this kind of trickery so far, 
that he would sometimes mount his horse, and make 
believe he was going to St. Michael's ; and, in thirty 
minutes afterward, you might find his horse tied in 
the woods, and the snake-like Covey lying fiat in the 
ditch, with his head lifted above its edge, or in a fence 
corner, watching every movement of the slaves ! I 
have known him walk up to us and give us special or- 
ders, as to our work, in advance, as if he were leaving 
home with a view to being absent several days ; and 
before he got half way to the house, he would avail 
himself of our inattention to his movements, to turn 
short on his heels, conceal himself behind a fence cor- 
ner or a tree, and watch us until the going down of 
the sun. Mean and contemptible as is all this, it is 
in keeping with the character which the life of a slave- 
holder is calculated to produce. There is no earthly 
inducement, in the slave's condition, to incite him to 
labor fiiithfully. The fear of punishment is the sole 
motive for any sort of industry, w^ith him. Knowing 
this fact, as the slaveholder does, and judging the 
slave by himself, he naturally concludes the slave 
will be idle whenever the cause for this fear is absent. 
Hence, all sorts of petty deceptions are practiced, to 
inspire this fear. 

But, with Mr. Covey, trickery was natural. Ev- 
erything in the shape of learning or religion, which 


he possessed, was made to conform to this semi-lying 
propensity. He did not seem conscious that the prac- 
tice had anything unmanly, base or contemptible 
about it. It was a part of an important system, w^ith 
him, essential to the relation of master and slave. I 
thought I saw, in his very religious devotions, this 
controlling element of his character. A long prayer 
at night made up for the short prayer in the morning ; 
and few men could seem more devotional than he, 
when he had nothins: else to do. 

Mr. Covey w^as not content with the cold style of 
family worship, adopted in these cold latitudes, which 
begin and end with a simple prayer. Iso I the voice 
of praise, as well as of prayer, must be heard in his 
house, night and morning. At first, I was called upon 
to bear some part in these exercises ; but the repeated 
flogging given me by Covey, turned the whole thing 
into mockery. He was a poor singer, and mainly re- 
lied on me for raising the hymn for the family, and 
when I failed to do so, he was thrown into much con- 
fusion. I do not think that he ever abused me on ac- 
count of these vexations. His religion was a thing 
altogether apart from his worldly concerns. He knev/ 
nothing of it as a holy principle, directing and con- 
trolling his daily life, making the latter conform to 
the requirements of the gospel. One or two facts 
will illustrate his character better than a volume of 

I have already said, or implied, that Mr. Edward Co 

vey was a poor man. He was, in fact, just commencing 

to lay the foundation of his fortune, as fortune is re^ 

garded in a slave state. The first condition of wealth 



and respectability there, being the ownership of human 
propertj^, every nerve is strained, by the poor man, to 
obtain it, and very little regard is had to the manner 
of obtaining it. In pursuit of this object, pious as 
Mr. Covey was, he proved himself to be as unscrupu- 
lous and base as the worst of his neighbors. In the 
beginning, he was only able — as he said—" to buy 
one slave ; " and, scandalous and shocking as is the 
fact, he boasted that he bought her simply " as a 
hreedery But the worst is not told in this naked state- 
ment. This young woman (Caroline w^as her name) 
was virtually compelled by Mr." Covey to abandon her- 
self to the object for which he had purchased her ; 
and the result was, the birth of twins at the end of 
the year. At this addition to his human stock, both 
Edward Covey and his wife, Susan, were extatic with 
joy. No one dreamed of reproaching the woman, or 
of findins: fault with the hired man — Bill Smith — the 
father of the children, for Mr. Covey himself had 
locked the two up together every night, thus inviting 
the result. 

But I will pursue this revolting subject no further. 
No better illustration of the unchaste and demoralizing 
character of slavery can be found, than is furnished 
in the fact that this professedly christian slaveliolder, 
amidst all his prayers and hymns, was shamelessly 
and boastfully encouraging, and actually compelling, 
in his own house, undisguised and unmitigated forni- 
cation, as a means of increasing his human stock. I 
may remark here, that, while this fact will be read 
with disgust and shame at the north, it will be laughed 
at, as smart and praiseworthy in Mr. Covey, at the 


Point. I will do the same ; and when I get to the head of the 
bay, I will turn my canoe adrift, and walk straight through 
Delaware into Pennsylvania. When I get there, I shall not be 
required to have a pass ; I will travel without being disturbed. 
Let but the first opportunity offer, and, come what will, I am 
off. Meanwhile, I will try to bear up under the yoke. I am 
not the only slave in the world. Why should I fret ? I can 
bear as much as any of them. Besides, I am but a boy, and 
all boys are bound to some one. It may be that my misery 
in slavery will only increase my happiness when I get free. 
There is a better day coming.' " 

I shall never be able to narrate the mental experi- 
ence through which it was my lot to 23ass dm-ing my 
stay at Covey's. I was completely wrecked, changed 
and bewildered ; goaded almost to madness at one 
time, and at another reconciling myself to my wretched 
condition. Everything in the way of kindness, which 
I had experienced at Baltimore ; all my former hopes 
and aspirations for nsefaluess in the world, and the 
happy moments spent in the exercises of religion, con- 
trasted with my then present lot, bnt increased my 

I suffered bodily as well as mentally. I had neither 
sufficient time in which to eat or to sleep, except on 
Sundays. The over work, and the brutal chastise- 
ments of which I was the victim, combined with that 
ever-o'nawin<2^ and soul-devourino; thouo-ht — " I am a 
slave — Oj slave for life — a slave iciili no rational 
ground to hope for freedom " — rendered me a living 
embodiment of mental and physical wretchedness. 











The foregoing chapter, with all it8 horrid incidents 
and shocking features, may be taken as a fair repre- 
sentation of the first six months of my life at Covey's. 
The reader has but to repeat, in his own mind, once a 
week, the scene in the woods, where Covey subjected 
me to his merciless lash, to have a true idea of my 
bitter experience there, during the first period of the 
breaking process through which Mr. Covey carried 
me. I have no heart to repeat each separate trans- 
action, in which I was a vict;m of his violence and 
brutality. Such a narration would fill a volume much 
larger than the present one. I aim only to give the 
reader a truthful impression of my slave life, without 
unnecessarily affecting him with harrowing details. 

As I have elsewhere intimated that my hardships 
were mucli greater during the first six montlis of my 
rstay at Covey's, tlian during the remainder of the year, 


and as the change in ray condition was owing to causes 
which may help the reader to a better understanding 
of human nature, when subjected to the terrible ex- 
tremities of slavery, I will narrate the circumstances 
of this change, although I may seem thereby to ap- 
plaud my own courage. 

You have, dear reader, seen me humbled, degraded, 
broken down, enslaved, and brutalized, and you un- 
derstand how it was done ; now let ns see the con- 
verse of all this, and how it was brought about ; and 
this will take us through the year 1834. 

On one of the hottest days of the month of August, 
of the year just mentioned, had the reader been pass- 
ing through Covey's farm, he might have seen me at 
work, in what is there called the " treading yard" — a 
yard npon which wheat is trodden out from the straw, 
by the horses' feet. I was there, at work, feeding the 
"fan," or rather bringing wheat to the fan, while Bill 
Smith was feeding. Our force consisted of Bill Hughes, 
Bill Smith, and a slave by the name of Eli ; the lat- 
ter having been hired for this occasion. The work 
was simple, and required strength and activity, rather 
than any skill or intelligence, and yet, to one entirely 
unused to such work, it came very hard. The heat 
was intense and overpowering, and there was much 
hurry to get the wheat, trodden out that day, through 
the fan ; since, if that work was done an hour before 
sundown, the hands would have, according to a prom- 
ise of Covey, that hour added to their night's rest. I 
was not behind any of them in the wish to complete 
the day's work before sundown, and, hence, I strug- 
gled with all my might to get the work forward. The 


promise of one hour's repose on a week day, was suf- 
licient to quicken my pace, and to spur me on to ex- 
tra endeavor. Besides, we liad all planned to go fish- 
ing, and I certainly v/ished to have a hand in that. 
But I was disappointed, and the day turned out to be 
one of the bitterest I ever experienced. About three 
o'clock, while the sun was pouring down his burning 
rays, and not a breeze was stirring, I broke down ; 
my strength failed me ; I was seized with a violent 
aching of the head, attended with extreme dizziness, 
and trembling in every limb. Finding what was com- 
ing, and feeling it would never do to stop work, I 
nerved myself up, and staggered on until I fell by the 
side of the wheat fan, feeling that the earth had fallen 
upon me. This brought the entire work to a dead 
stand. There was work for four ; each one had his 
part to perform, and each part depended on the other, 
so that when one stopped, all were compelled to stop. 
Covey, who had now become my dread, as well as 
my tormentor, was at the house, about a hundred 
yards from where I was tanning, and instantly, upon 
hearing the fan stop, he came down to the treading 
yard, to inquire into the cause of our stopping. Bill 
Smith told him I was sick, and that I was unable lon- 
ger to bring wheat to the fan. 

I had, by this time, crawled away, under the side 
of a post-and-rail fence, in the shade, and was exceed- 
ingly ill. The intense heat of the sun, the heavy dust 
rising from the fan, the stooping, to take up the wheat 
from the yard, together with the hurrying, to get 
through, had caused a rush of blood to my liead. In 
this condition. Covey finding out where I was, came 

TusrusrAL brutality of covey. 225 

to me ; and, after standing over me a while, he asked 
me what the matter was. I told him as well as I 
could, for it was with dilficultv that I could speak. 
He then gave me a savage kick in the side, which 
jarred mj whole frame, and commanded me to get 
up. The man had obtained complete control over 
me ; and if he had commanded me to do any possible 
thing, I should, in my then state of mind, have endea- 
vored to comply. I made an effort to rise, but fell 
back in the attempt, before gaining my feet. The 
brute now gave me another heavy kick, and again 
told me to rise. I again tried to rise, and succeeded 
in gaining my feet ; but, upon stooping to get the tub 
with which I was feeding the fan, I again staggered 
and fell to the ground ; and I must have so fallen, had 
I been sure that a hundred bullets would have pierced 
me, as the consequence. While down, in this sad 
condition, and perfectly helpless, the merciless negro 
breaker took up the hickory slab, with which Hughes 
had been striking off the wheat to a level with the 
sides of the half bushel measure, (a very hard weapon,) 
and with the sharp edge of it, he dealt me a heavy 
blow on my head which made a large gash, and caused 
the blood to run freely, saying, at the same time, " If 
you have got the headache^ PR cure youP This done, 
he ordered me again to rise, but I made no effort to 
do so ; for I had made up my mind that it was use- 
less, and that the heartless monster might now do his 
worst ; he could but kill me, and that might put me 
out of mv miserv. Findinii: nie unable to rise, or ra- 
ther despairing of my doing so, Covey left me, with 
a view to getting on with the work without me. I 
J* 15 


was bleeding very freely, and my face was soon cov- 
ered with my warm blood. Cruel and merciless as 
was tlie motive tliat dealt that blow, dear reader, the 
wound was fortunate for me. Bleeding was never 
more efficacious. The pain in my head speedily aba- 
ted, and I was soon able to rise. Covey had, as I 
have said, now left me to my fate ; and the cpiestion 
was, shall I return to my work, or shall I find my 
way to St. Michael's, and make Capt. Auld acquain- 
ted with the atrocious cruelty of his brother Covey, 
and beseech him to get me another master ? Remem- 
bering the object he had in view, in placing me un- 
der the management of Covey, and further, his cruel 
treatment of my poor crippled cousin, Henny, and his 
meanness in the matter of feeding and clothing his 
slaves, there was little ground to hope for a favorable 
reception at the hands of Capt. Thomas Auld. Ne- 
vertheless, I resolved to go straight to Capt. Auld, 
thinking that, if not animated hy motives of humani- 
ty, he might be induced to interfere on my behalf 
from selfish considerations.^*"' He cannot," thought I, 
" allow his property to be thus bruised and battered, 
marred and defaced ; and I will go to him, and tell 
him the simple truth about the matter." ji In order to 
get to St. Michael's, by the most favorable and direct 
road, I must walk seven miles ; and this, in my sad 
condition, was no easy performance. I had already 
lost much blood ; I was exhausted by over exertion ; 
my sides were sore from the heavy blows planted 
there by the stout boots of Mr. Covey ; and I was, in 
every way, in an unfavorable plight for the journey. 
I however watched my chance, while the cruel and 


cunning Covey was looking in an opposite direction, 
and started off, across the field, for St. Michael's. This 
was a daring step ; if it failed, it would only exasper- 
ate Covey, and increase the rigors of my bondage, du- 
ring the remainder of my term of service under him ; 
but the step was taken, and I must go forward. I 
succeeded in getting nearly half way across' the broad 
field, toward the woods, before Mr. Covey observed 
me. I was still bleeding, and the exertion of running 
had started the blood afresh. " Come hack ! Come 
hach ! " vociferated Covey, with threats of what he 
would do if I did not return instantly. But, disre- 
garding his calls and his threats, I pressed on toward 
the woods as fast as my feeble state would allow. 
Seeing no signs of my stopping, Covey caused his 
horse to be brought out and saddled, as if he intended 
to pursue me. The race was now to be an unequal 
one ; and, thinking I might be overhauled by him, if 
I kept the main road, I walked nearly the whole dis- 
tance in the woods, keeping far enough from the road 
to avoid detection and pursuit. But, I had not gone 
far, before my little strength again failed me, and I 
laid down. The blood was still oozins: from the 
wound in my head ; and, for a time, I suffered more 
than I can describe. There I was, in the deep woods, 
sick and emaciated, pursued by a wretch whose char- 
acter for revolting cruelty beggars all opprobrious 
speech — bleeding, and almost bloodless. I was not 
without the fear of bleedino; to death. The thouo^ht 
of dying in the woods, all alone, and of being torn 
to pieces by the buzzards, had not yet been ren- 
dered tolerable by my many troubles and hardships, 


and 1 was glad when the shade of the trees, and the 
cool evening breeze, combined with my matted hair 
to stop the flow of blood. After lying there abont 
three quarters of an honr, brooding over the siogular 
and mom-nful lot to which I was doomed, my mind 
passing over the whole scale or circle of belief and 
unbelief, from faith in the overruling providence of 
God, to the blackest atheism, I again took up my jour- 
ney toward St. Michael's, more weary and sad than 
in the morning when I left Thomas Auld's for the 
home of Mr. Covey. I was bare-footed and bare- 
headed, and in my shirt sleeves. The way was through 
bogs and briers, and I tore my feet often during the 
journey. I was full five hours in going the seven or 
eight miles ; partly, because of the difiiculties of the 
way, and partly, because of the feebleness induced by 
my illness, bruises and loss of blood. On gaining my 
master's store, I presented an appearance of wretch- 
edness and woe, fitted to move any but a heart of 
stone. From the crown of my head to the sole of my 
feet, there were marks of blood. My Jiair was all 
clotted with dust and blood, and the back of my shirt 
was literally stifle with the same. Briers and thorns 
had scarred and torn my feet and legs, leaving blood 
marks there. Had I escaped from a den of tigers, I 
could not have looked worse than I did on reaching 
St. Michael's. In this unhappy plight, I aj)peared be- 
fore my professedly christian master, humbly to in- 
voke the interposition of his power and authority, to 
protect me from further abuse and violence. I had 
begun to ho23e, during the latter part of my tedious 
journey toward St. Michael's, that Capt. Auld would 


now show himself in a nobler light than I had ever 
before seen him. I was disappointed. Ihad jumped 
from a sinking ship into the sea ; I had fled from the 
tiger to something worse. I told him all the circum- 
stances, as well as I could ; how I was endeavoring to 
please Covey ; how hard I was at work in the present 
instance ; how unwillinglj I sunk down under the 
heat, toil and pain ; the brutal manner in which Co- 
vey had kicked me in the side ; the gash cut in my 
head ; my hesitation about troubling him (Capt. Auld) 
with complaints ; but, that now I felt it would not be 
best longer to conceal from him the outrages commit- 
ted on me from time to time by Covey. At first, master 
Thomas seemed somewhat affected by the story of my 
wrongs, but he soon repressed his feelings and became 
cold as iron. It was impossible — as I stood before 
him at the first — for him to seem indifferent. I dis- 
tinctly saw his human nature asserting its conviction 
against the slave system, which made cases like mine 
2?ossible / but, as I have said, humanity fell before the 
systematic tyranny of slavery. He first walked the 
floor, apparently much agitated by my story, and the 
sad spectacle I presented ; but, presently, it was his 
turn to talk. He began moderately, by finding excuses 
for Covey, and ending with a full justification of him, 
and a passionate condemnation of me. "He had 
no doubt I deserved the floo^o-ino^. He did not believe 
I was sick ; I was only endeavoring to get rid of work. 
My dizziness was laziness, and Covey did right to 
flog me, as he had done." After thus fairly annihi- 
lating me, and rousing himself by his own eloquence, 


he fiercely demanded what I wished Idm to do in the 
case ! 

With such a complete knock-down to all my hopes, 
as he had given me, and feeling, as I did, my entire 
subjection to his power, I had very little heart to re- 
ply. I must not affirm my innocence of the allega- 
tions which he had piled up against me ; for that 
would be impudence, and would probably call down 
fresh violence as well as wrath upon me. The guilt 
of a slave is always, and everywhere, presumed ; and 
the innocence of the slaveholder or the slave employ- 
er, is always asserted. The word of the slave, against 
this presumption, is generally treated as impudence, 
worthy of punishment. "Do you contradict me, you 
rascal ?" is a final silencer of counter statements from 
the lips of a slave. 

Calming down a little in view of my silence and 
hesitation, and, perhaps, from a rapid glance at the 
picture of misery I presented, he inquired again, 
" what I would have him do ? " Thus invited a se- 
cond time, I told Master Thomas I wished him to al- 
low me to get a new home and to find a new master ; 
that, as sure as I went back to live with Mr. Covey 
again, I should be killed by him ; that he would ne- 
ver forgive my coming to him (Capt Auld) with a 
complaint against him (Covey ;) that, since I had lived 
with him, he had almost crushed my spirit, and I 
believed that he would ruin me for future service ; 
that my life was not safe in his hands. This, Master 
Thomas {my Ijrotlier in the cJiurch) regarded as " non- 
sense." " There was no danger of Mr. Covey's kill- 
ing me ; he was a good man, industrious and religious, 


and he would not think of removing me from that 
home; "besides," said he, — and this I found was the 
most distressing thought of all to him — " if jou should 
leave Covey now, that your year has but half expired, 
I should lose your wages for the entire year. You 
belong to T\Ir. Covey for one year, and you must go 
lach to him, come what will. You must not trouble 
me with any more stories about Mr. Covey ; and if 
you do not go immediately home, I will get hold of 
you myself." This was just what I expected, when I 
found he had prejudged the case against me. " But, 
Sir," I said, "I am sick and tired, and I cannot get 
home to-night." At this, he again relented, and finally 
he allowed me to remain all night at St. Michael's ; 
but said I must be off early in the morning, and con- 
cluded his directions by making me swallow a huge 
dose of e-psoin salts — about the only medicine ever ad- 
ministered to slaves. 

It was quite natural for Master Thomas to presume 
I was feigning sickness to escape work, for he proba- 
bly thought that were he in the place of a slave — with 
no wages for his work, no praise for well doing, no 
motive for toil but the lash — he would try every pos- 
sible scheme by which to escape labor. I say I have 
no doubt of this ; the reason is, that there are not, un- 
der the whole heavens, a set of men who cultivate 
such an intense dread of labor as do the slaveholders. 
The charge of laziness against the slaves is ever on their 
lips, and is the standing apology for every species of 
cruelty and brutality. ** These men literally "bind 
heavy burdens, grievous to be borne, and lay them 


on men's shoulders ; but tliey, tliemselves, will not 
move them with one of their fingers." 

My kind readers shall have, in the next chapter — 
what they were led, perhaps, to expect to find in this 
— namely: an account of my partial disenthrallment 
from the tyranny of Covey, and the marked change 
which it broufrht about. 










Sleep itself does not always come to the relief of the 
weary in body, and the broken in spirit ; especially 
when past troubles only foreshadow coming disasters. 
The last hope had been extinguished. My master, 
who I did not venture to hope would protect me as 
a man^ had even now refused to protect me as his joroj)- 
erty ; and had cast me back, covered with reproaches 
and bruises, into the hands of a stranger to that mercy 
which was the soul of the religion he professed. May 
the reader never spend such a night as that allotted 
to me, previous to the morning which was to herald 
my return to the den of horrors from which I had 
made a temporary escape. 

I remained all night — sleep I did not — at St. Mi- 
chael's ; and in the morning (Saturday) I started off, 
according to the order of Master Thomas, feeling that 


I had no friend on earth, and doubting if I had one 
in heaven. I reached Covey's about nine o'clock ; 
and just as I stepped into the iiekl, before I had 
reached the house, Covey, true to his snakish habits, 
darted out at me from a fence corner, in which he 
had secreted himself, for the purpose of securing me. 
He was amply provided with a cowskin and a rope ; 
and he evidently intended to tie me itp^ and to wreak 
his vengeance on me to the fullest extent. I. should 
have been an easy prey, had he succeeded in getting 
his hands upon me, for I had taken no refreshment 
since noon on Friday ; and this, together with the 
pelting, excitement, and the loss of blood, had re- 
duced my strength. I, however, darted back into the 
woods, before the ferocious hound could get hold of 
me, and buried myself in a thicket, where he lost 
sight of me. The corn-field aflorded me cover, in get- 
ting to the woods. But for the tall corn. Covey would 
have overtaken me, and made me his captive. He 
seemed very much chagrined that he did not catch 
me, and gave up the chase, very reluctantly ; for I 
could see his angry movements, toward the house 
from which he had sallied, on his foray. 

Well, now I am clear of Covey, and of his wrath- 
ful lash, for the present. I am in the wood, buried in 
its somber gloom, and hushed in its solemn silence ; 
hid from all human eyes ; shut in with nature and na- 
ture's God, and absent from all human contrivances. 
Here was a good place to pray ; to pray for help for 
deliverance — a prayer I had often made before. /But 
how could I pray ? Covey could pray — Capt. Auld 
could pray — I would fain pray ; but doubts (arising 


partly from my own neglect of the means of grace, 
and partly from the sham religion which every- 
where prevailed, cast in my mind a doubt upon all 
religion, and led me to the conviction that prayers 
were unavailing and delusive) prevented my em- 
bracing the opportunity, as a religious one/ Life, in 
itself, had almost become burdensome to me. All my 
outvv^ard relations were against me ; I must stay here 
and starve, (I was already hungry,) or go home to 
Covey's, and have my flesh torn to pieces, and my 
spirit humbled under the cruel lash of Covey. This 
was the painful alternative presented to me. The day 
was long and irksome. My physical condition was 
deplorable. I was weak, from the toils of the pre- 
vious day, and from the want of food and rest ; and had 
been so little concerned about my appearance, that I 
had not yet washed the blood from my garments. I 
was an object of horror, even to myself. Life, in 
Baltimore, when most oppressive, was a paradise to 
this. What had I done, what had my parents done, 
that such a life as this should be mine ? That day, in 
the woods, I would have exchanged my manhood for 
the brutehood of an ox. 

Xight came. I was still in the woods, unresolved 
what to do. Hunger had not yet pinched me to the 
point of going home, and I laid myself down in tiie 
leaves to rest; fori had been watching for hunters all 
day, but not being molested during the day, I ex- 
pected no disturbance during the night. I had come 
to the conclusion that Covey relied upon hunger to 
drive me home : and in this I was quite correct — the 


facts showed that he had made no effort to catch me, 
since morning. 

During the night, I heard the step of a man in the 
woods. He was coming toward the place where I 
lay. A person lying still has the advantage over one 
walking in the woods, in the day time, and this ad- 
vantage is mnch greater at night. I was not ahle to 
engage in a physical struggle, and I had recourse to 
the common resort of the weak. I hid myself in the 
leaves to prevent discovery. But, as the night rambler 
in the woods drew nearer, I found him to be 2^ friend^ 
not an enemy ; it was a slave of Mr. AVilliam Groomes, 
of Easton, a kind hearted fellow, named " Sandy." 
Sandy lived with Mr. Kemp that year, about four miles 
from St. Michael's. He, like myself, had been hired 
out by the year ; but, unlike myself, had not been 
hired out to be broken. Sandy was the husband of 
a free woman, who lived in the lower part of " Pot- 
2ne Neck^^ and he was now on his way through the 
woods, to see her, and to spend the Sabbath with her. 

As soon as I had ascertained that the disturber of 
my solitude was not an enemy, but the good-hearted 
Sandy — a man as famous among the slaves of the 
neighborhood for his good nature, as for his good 
sense — I came out from my hiding place, and made 
myself known to him. I explained the circumstan- 
ces of the past two daj- s, which had driven me to the 
woods, and he deeply compassionated my distress. It 
was a bold thing for him to shelter me, and I could 
not ask him to do so ; for, had I been found in his hut, 
he would have sufi'ered the penalty of thirty-nine 
lashes on his bare back, if not something: worse. But, 


Sandy was too generous to permit the fear of piinisli- 
ment to prevent his relieving a brother bondman from 
hunger and exposure ; and, therefore, on his own mo- 
tion, I accompanied him to his home, or rather to the 
home of his wife — for the house and lot were hers-. 
nis wife was called up — for it was now about mid- 
night — a fire was made, some Indian meal was 
soon mixed with salt and water, and an ash cake 
was baked in a hurry to relieve my hunger. Sandy's 
wife was not behind him in kindness — both seemed 
to esteem it a privilege to succor me ; for, although I 
was hated by Covey and by my master,^ was loved 
by the colored people, because they thought I was ha- 
ted for my knowledge, and persecuted because I was 
feared. 1 was the only slave now in that region who 
could read and write^' There had been one other man, 
belonging to Mr. Hugh Hamilton, who could read, 
(his name was "Jim,") but he, poor fellow, had, 
shortly after my coming into the neighborhood, been 
sold off to the far south. I saw Jim ironed, in the 
cart, to be carried to Easton for sale, — pinioned like 
a yearling for the slaughter. '!My knowledge was now 
the pride of my brother slaves ;yand, no doubt, Sandy 
felt something of the general interest in me on that 
account. The supper was soon ready, and though I 
have feasted since, with honorables, lord mayors and 
aldermen, over the sea, my supper on ash cake and 
cold water, with Sandy, was the meal, of all my life, 
most sweet to my taste, and now most vivid in my 

Supper over, Sandy and I went into a discussion of 
what was jjossihle for me, under the perils and hard- 


sliips whicli now overshadowed my path. The ques- 
tion was, must I go back to Covey, or must I now at- 
tempt to run away ? Upon a careful survey, the latter 
was found to be impossible ; for I was on a narrow 
neck of land, every avenue from which would bring 
me in sight of pursuers. There was the Chesapeake 
bay to the right, and " Pot-pie " river to the left, and 
St. Michael's and its neighborhood occupying the only 
sjDace through which there was any retreat. 

I found Sandy an old adviser. He Avas not only a 
religious man, but he professed to believe in a sys- 
tem for which I have no name. He was a genuine 
African, and had inherited some of the so called ma- 
gical powers, said to be possessed by African and 
eastern nations. He told me that he could help me ; 
that, in those very woods, there was an herb, which in 
the morning might be found, possessing all the powers 
required for my protection, (I put his thoughts in my 
own language ;) and that, if I would take his advice, 
he would procure me the root of the herb of which 
he spoke. He told me further, that if I would take 
that root and wear it on my right side, it would be 
impossible for Covey to strike me a blow ; that with 
this root about my person, no white man conld whip 
me. He said he had carried it for years, and that he 
had fully tested its virtues. He had never received 
a blow from a slaveholder since he carried it ; and he 
never expected to receive one, for he always meant to 
carry that root as a protection. He knew Covey 
well, for Mrs. Covey was the daughter of Mr. Kemp ; 
and he (Sandy) had heard of the barbarous treatment 


to whicli I was subjected, and he wanted to do some- 
thing for me. 

'Now all this talk about the root, was, to me, very ab- 
surd and ridiculous, if not positively sinful. I at first 
rejected the idea that the simple carrying a root on 
my right side, (a root, by the way, over which I walked 
every time I went into the woods,) could possess any 
such magic power as he ascribed to it, and I was, 
therefore, not disposed to cumber my pocket with it. 
I had a positive aversion to all pretenders to " divi- 
natioii.'''' It was beneath one of my intelligence to 
countenance such dealings with the devil, as this 
power implied. But, with all my learning — it was 
really precious little — Sandy was more than a match 
for me. " My book learning," he said, " had not kept 
Covey off me," (a powerful argument just then,) and 
he entreated me, with ilashino; eves, to trv this. If it 
did me no good, it could do me no harm, and it would 
cost me nothing, any way. Sandy was so earnest, 
and so confident of the good qualities of this weed, 
that, to please him, rather than from any conviction 
of its excellence, I was induced to take it. He had 
been to me the good Samaritan, and had, almost prov- 
identially, found me, and helped me when I could not 
help myself; how did I know but that the hand of 
the Lord was in it ? With thoughts of this sort, I 
took the roots from Sandy, and put them in my right 
hand pocket. 

This was, of course, Sunday morning. Sandy now 
urged me to go home, with all speed, and to walk up 
bravely to the house, as though nothing had hap- 
pened. I saw in Sandy too deep an insight into hu- 


man nature, with all his superstition, not tohave some 
respect for his advice; and perhaps, too, a slight 
gleam or shadow of his superstition had fallen upon 
me. At any rate, I started off toward Covey's, as di- 
rected by Sandy. Having, the previous night, poured 
my griefs into Sandy's ears, and got him enlisted in my 
behalf, having made his wife a sharer in my sorrows, 
and having, also, become well refreshed by sleep and 
food, I moved off, quite courageously, toward the much 
dreaded Covey's. Singularly enough, just as I en- 
tered his yard gate, I met him and his wife, dressed 
in their Sunday best — looking as smiling as angels — on 
their way to church. The manner of Covey aston- 
ished me. There was something really benignant in 
his countenance. He spoke to me as never before ; 
told me that the pigs had got into the lot, and he 
wished me to drive them out ; inquired how I was, 
and seemed an altered man. This extraordinary con- 
duct of Covey, really made me begin to think that 
Sandy's herb had more virtue in it than I, in my 
pride, had been willing to allow ; and, had the day 
been other than Sunday, I should have attributed 
Covey's altered manner solely to the magic power of 
the root. I suspected, however, that the Scibhath^ 
and not the root, was the real explanation of Covey's 
manner. His religion hindered him from breaking 
the Sabbath, but not from breaking my skin. He 
had more respect for the day than for the man^ for 
whom the day was mercifully given ; for while he 
would cut and slash my body during the week, he 
Would not hesitate, on Sunday, to teach me the value 


of my soul, or the way of life and salvatiou by Jesus 

All went well with me till Monday morning ; and 
then, whether the root had lost its virtue, or whether 
my tormentor had gone deeper into the black art than 
myself, (as was sometimes said of him,) or whether 
he had obtained a special indulgence, for his faithful 
Sabbath day's worship, it is not necessary for me to 
know, or to inform the reader ; but, this much I may 
say, — the pious and benignant smile which graced 
Covey's face on Sunday^ wholly disappeared on Mon- 
day. Long before daylight, I was called up to go 
and feed, rub, and curry the horses. I obeyed the 
call, and I would have so obeyed it, had it been made 
at an earlier hour, for I had brought my mind to a 
firm resolve, during that Sunday's reflection, viz : to 
obey every order, however unreasonable, if it were pos- 
sible, and, if Mr. Covey should then undertake to beat 
me, to defend and protect myself to the best of my abil- 
ity. My religious views on the subject of resisting 
my master, had suffered a serious shock, by the sav- 
age persecution to which I had been subjected, and 
my hands were no longer tied by my religion. Mas- 
ter Tliomas's indilFerence had severed the last link. 
I had now to this extent " backslidden " from this 
point in the slave's religious creed ; and I soon had 
occasion to make my fallen state know^n to my Sun- 
day-pious brother. Covey. 

Whilst I was obeying his order to feed and get the 
horses ready for the field, and when in the act of go- 
ing up the stable loft for the purpose of throwing down 
soixie blades, Covey sneaked into the stable, in his 
K 16 


peculiar snake-like way, and seizing me suddenly by 
the leg, he brought me to the stable floor, giving my 
newly mended body a fearful jar. I now forgot my 
roots, and remembered my pledge to stand up in my 
own defense. The brute was endeavoring skillfully 
to get a slip-knot on my legs, before I could draw up 
my feet. As soon as I found what he was up to, I 
gave a sudden spring, (my two day's rest had been of 
much service to me,) and by that means, no doubt, 
he was able to bring me to the floor so heavily. He 
was defeated in his plan of tying me. While down, 
he seemed to think he had me very securely in his 
power. He little* tliought he was — as the rowdies 
say — " in" for a " rougli and tumble" fight ; but such 
was the fact. Whence came the daring spirit neces- 
sary to grapple with a man who, eight-and-forty hours 
before, could, with his slightest word have made me 
tremble like a leaf in a storm, I do not know ; at any 
rate, I loas resolved to fight ^ and, what was better still, 
I was actually hard at it. The fighting madness had 
come upon me, and I found my strong fingers firmly 
attached to the throat of my cowardly tormentor ; as 
heedless of consequences, at the moment, as though 
we stood as equals before the law. The very color of 
the man was forgotten. I felt as supple as a cat, and 
was ready for the snakish creature at every turn. 
Every blow of his was parried, though I dealt no 
blows in turn. I was strictly on the defenswe, pre- 
venting him from injuring me, rather than trying to 
injure him. I flung him on the ground several times, 
when he meant to have hurled me there. I held him 


SO firmly by tlie throat, that his blood followed my 
nails. He held me, and I held him. 

All was fair, thus far, and the contest was about 
equal. My resistance was entirely unexpected, and 
Covey was taken all aback by it, for he trembled in 
every limb. " Are you going to resist^ you scoundrel ? " 
said he. To which, I returned a polite " yes sir ; 
steadily gazing my interrogator in the eye, to meet the 
first approach or dawning of the blow, which I expect- 
ed my answer would call forth. But, the conflict did 
not long remain thus equal. Covey soon cried out 
lustily for help ; not that I was obtaining any marked 
advantage over him, or was injuring him, but because 
he was gaining none over me, and was not able, single 
handed, to conquer me. He called for his cousin 
Hughes, to come to his assistance, and now the scene 
was changed. I was compelled to give blows, as well 
as to parry them ; and, since I was, in any case, to 
suffer for resistance, I felt (as the musty proverb 
goes) that " I might as well be hanged for an old 
sheep as a lamb." I was still defensive toward Co- 
vey, but aggressive toward Hughes ; and, at the first 
approach of the latter, I dealt a blow, in my despera- 
tion, which fairly sickened my youthful assailant. He 
went ofi^, bending over with pain, and manifesting no 
disposition to come within my reach again. The poor 
lelluw was in the act of trying to catch and tie my 
right hand, and while flattering himself with success, 
I <2:ave him the kick which sent him stao'srerins; away 
in pain, at the same time that I held Coyqj with a 
firm hand. 

Taken completely by surprise, Covey seemed to 


have lost liis usual strength and coolness. He was 
frightened, and stood puffing and blowing, seemingly 
unable to command words or blows. When he saw 
that poor Hughes was standing half bent with pain — 
his courage quite gone — the cowardly tyrant asked 
if I " meant to persist in my resistance." I told him 
" I did mean to resist^ come what might •^'' that I had 
been by him treated like a hrute^ during the last six 
months ; and that I should stand it no longer. With 
that, he gave me a shake, and attempted to drag me 
toward a stick of wood, that was lying just outside 
the stable door. He meant to knock me down with 
it ; but, just as he leaned over to get the stick, I seized 
him with both hands by the collar, and, with a vigor- 
ous and sudden snatch, I brought my assailant harm- 
lessly, his full length, on the not over clean ground — 
for we were now in the cow yard. He had selected 
the place for the fight, and it was but right that he 
should have all the advantages of his own selection. 
By this time. Bill, the hired man, came home. He 
had been to Mr. Hemsley's, to spend the Sunday with 
his nominal wife, and was coming home on Monday 
morning, to go to work. Covey and I had been 
skirmishing from before daybreak, till now, that the 
sun was almost shooting his beams over the eastern 
w^oods, and we were still at it. I could not see where 
the matter was to terminate. He evidently was afraid 
to let me go, lest I should again make ofi* to the woods ; 
otherwise, he would probably have obtained ar"ins from 
the house, to frighten me. Holding me, Covey called 
upon Bill for assistance. The scene here, had some- 
thing comic about it. " Bill," who knew precisely 


what Covey wished him to do, affected ignorance, and 
pretended he did not knovv'whatto do. "What shall 
I do, Mr. Covey," said Bill. " Take hold of him— 
take hold of him ! " said Covey. With a toss of his 
head, pecnliar to Bill, he said, " indeed, Mr. Covey, 
I want to go to work." " This is your work," said 
Covey ; " take hold of him." Bill replied, with spirit, 
" My master hired me here, to work, and not to help 
you whip Frederick." It was now my turn to speak. 
" Bill," said I, " don't put your hands on me." To 
which he replied, " My God ! Frederick, I aint goin' 
to tech ye," and Bill walked off, leaving Covey and 
myself to settle our matters as best we might. 

But, my present advantage was threatened when I 
saw Caroline (the slave-woman of Covey) coming to 
the cow yard to milk, for she was a powerful woman, 
and could liave mastered me very easily, exhausted 
as I now was. As soon as she came into the yard, 
Covey attempted to rally her to his aid. Strangely — 
and, I may add, fortunately — Caroline was in no hu- 
mor to take a hand in any such sport. We were all 
in open rebellion, that morning. Caroline answered 
the command of her master to " take hold of m^," pre- 
cisely as Bill had answered, but in her^ it was at 
greater peril so to answer ; she was the slave of Co- 
vey, and he could do what he pleased with her. It 
was not so with Bill, and Bill knew it. Samuel Harris, 
to whom Bill belonged, did not allow his slaves to be 
beaten, unless they were guilty of some crime, which 
the law would punish. But, poor Caroline, like my- 
self, was at the mercy of the merciless Covey ; nor 


did she escape the dire effects of her refusaL He 
gave her several sharp blows. 

Covev at length (two hours had elapsed) gave Tip 
the contest. Letting me go, he said, — puthng and 
blowing at a great rate — " now, ^^ou scoundrel, go to 
your work ; I would not have whipped you half so 
much as I have had you not resisted." The fact was, 
lie had not whipped me at all. He had not, in all the 
scuffle, drawn a single drop of blood from me. I had 
drawn blood from him; and, even without this satis- 
faction, I should have been victorious, because my 
aim had not been to injure him, but to prevent his 
injuring me. 

During the whole six months that I lived w^ith Co- 
vey, after this transaction, he never laid on me the 
weight of his finger in anger. He would, occasionally, 
say be did not w^ant to have to get hold of me again — 
a declaration which I had no difficulty in believing; 
and I had a secret feeling, which answered, " you 
need not wish to get hold of me again, for you will 
be likely to come off worse in a second tight than you 
did in the first." 

Well, my dear reader, this battle with Mr. Covey, 
— undignitied as it was, and as I fear my narration of 
it is — was the turning point in my ^^life as a slaveP 
It rekindled in my breast the smouldering embers of 
liberty ; it brought up my Baltimore dreams, and re- 
vived a sense of my own manhood. I was a changed 
being after that fight. I w^as nothing before ; I was 
A MAN NOW. It recalled to life my crushed self-respect 
and my self-confidence, and inspired me with a re- 
newed determination to be a fi^eeman. A man, wdth- 


out force, is without the essential dignity of humanity. 
Human nature is so constituted, that it cannot honor a 
helpless man, although it can ])ity him ; and even 
this it cannot do long, if the signs of power do not 

He only can understand the effect of this combat 
on my sjjirit, who has himself incurred something, 
hazarded something, in repelling the unjust and cruel 
aggressions of a tyrant. Covey was a tyrant, and a 
cowardly one, withal. After resisting him, I felt as 
I had never felt before. It was a resurrection from 
the dark and pestiferous tomb of slavery, to the heav- 
en of comparative freedom. 'I was no longer a ser- 
vile coward, trembling under the frown of a brother 
worm of the dust, but, my long-cowed spirit w^as 
roused to an attitude of manly independence*— I had 
reached the point, at which I was not afraid to die. 
This spirit made me a freeman in fact^ while I re- 
mained a slave in form. When a slave cannot be 
floo'ored he is more than half free. He has a domain 
as broad as his own manly heart to defend, and he is 
really " a power on earth.'''' AYliile slaves prefer their 
lives, with flogging, to instant death, they will always 
find christians enough, like unto Covey, to accommo- 
date that preference. From this time, until that of 
my escape from slavery, I w^as never fairly whipped. 
Several attempts were made to whip me, but they 
were always unsuccessful. Bruises I did get, as I 
shall hereafter inform the reader ; but the case I have 
been describing, was the end of tlie brutification to 
which slavery had subjected me. 

The reader will be glad to know why, after I had 


SO grievously offended Mr. Covey, lie did not have 
me taken in hand by the authorities ; indeed, why the 
law of Maryland, which assigns hanging to the slave 
who resists his master, was not put in force against 
me ; at any rate, why I vras not taken up, as is usual 
in such cases, and publicly whipped, for an example 
to other slaves, and as a means of deterring me from 
committing the same offense again. I confess, that 
the easy manner in which I got off, was, for a long 
time, a surprise to me, and I cannot, even now, fully 
explain the cause. 

The only explanation I can venture to suggest, is 
the fact, that Covey was, probably, ashamed to have 
it known and confessed that he had been mastered by 
a boy of sixteen. Mr. Covey enjoyed the unbounded 
and very valuable reputation, of being a first rate 
overseer and negro hreciker. By means of this repu- 
tation, he was able to procure his hands for 'i^ery tri- 
fling compensation, and with very great ease. His 
interest and his pride mutually suggested the wisdom 
of passing the matter by, in silence. The story that 
he had undertaken to whip a lad, and had been resist- 
ed, was, of itself, sufficient to damage him ; for his 
bearing should, in the estimation of slaveholders, be 
of that imperial order that should make such an oc- 
currence imjyossible. I judge from these circumstan- 
ces, that Covey deemed it best to give me the go-by. 
It is, perhaps, not altogether creditable to my natural 
temper, that, after this conflict with Mr. Covey, I did, 
at times, purposely aim to provoke him to an attack, 
by refusing to keep with the other hands in the field, 


but I could never bullj him to another battle. I had 
made up my mind to do him serious damage, if he 
ever again attempted to lay violent hands on me. 

"Hereditary bondmen, know ye not 
"Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow ?" 














My term of actual service to Mr. Edward Covey 
ended on Christmas day, 1834. I gladly left the 
enakish Covey, although he was now as gentle as a 
lamb. My home for the year 1835 was already se- 
cured — my next master was already selected. There is 
always more or less excitement about tlie matter of 
changing hands, but I had become somewhat reckless. 
I cared very little into whose hands I fell — 1 meant 
to fight my way. Despite of Covey, too, the report 
got abroad, that I was hard to whip ; that I w^as guilty 
of kicking back ; that though generally a good tem- 
pered negro, I sometimes " cjot the devil in mey These 
sayings were rife in Talbot county, and they distin- 
guished me among my servile brethren. Slaves, gen- 


erallj, will fight eacli other, and die at each other's 
bauds ; but there are few who are not held in awe 
by a white man. Trained from the cradle up, to think 
and feel that their masters are superior, and invested 
with a sort of sacredness, there are few who can out- 
grow or rise above the control which that sentiment 
exercises. I had now got free from it, and the thing 
was known. One bad sheep will spoil a whole flock. 
Among the slaves, I was a bad sheep. I hated slave- 
ry, slaveholders, and all pertaining to them ; and I 
did not fail to inspire others with the same feeling, 
wherever and whenever opportunity was presented. 
This made me a marked lad among the slaves, and a 
suspected one among the slaveholders. A knowledge 
of my ability to read and write, got pretty widely 
spread, which was very much against me. 

. The days between Christuias day and j^ew Years, 
are allowed the slaves as holidays. During these 
days, all regular work was suspended, and there was 
nothing to do but to keep fires, and look after the 
stock. This time we regarded as our own, by the 
grace of our masters, and we, therefore used it, or 
abused it, as we pleased. Those who had families at 
a distance, were now expected to visit them, and to 
spend with them the entire week. The younger 
slaves, or the unmarried ones, were expected to see to 
the cattle, and attend to incidental duties at home. 
The holidays were variously spent. The sober, think- 
ing and industrious ones of our number, would employ 
themselves in manufacturing corn brooms, mats, horse 
collars and baskets, and some of these were very well 
made. Another class spent their time in hunting 


opossums, coons, rabbits, and other game. But tlie 
majority spent the holidays in sports, ball playing, 
wrestling, boxing, running foot races, dancing, and 
drinking whisky ; and this latter mode of spending 
the time was generally most agreeable to their mas- 
ters. A slave who would work during the holidays, 
was thought, by his master, undeserving of holidays. 
Such an one had rejected the favor of his master. 
There was, in this simple act of continued work, an 
accusation against slaves ; and a slave could not help 
thinking, that if he made three dollars during the 
holidays, he might make three hundred during the 
year. 'Not to be drunk during the holidays, was dis- 
graceful ; and he was esteemed a lazy and improvi- 
dent man, who could not aflbrd to drink whisky du- 
ring Christmas. 

The fiddling, dancing and '\jicbilee Ijeating^'' w^s 
going on in all directions. This latter performance is 
strickly southern. It supplies the place of a violin, 
or of other musical instruments, and is played so 
easily, that almost every farm has its " Juba" beater. 
The performer improvises as he beats, and sings his 
merry songs, so ordering the words as to have them 
fall pat with the movement of his hands. Among a 
mass of nonsense and wild frolic, once in a while a 
sharp hit is given to the meanness of slaveholders. 
Take \\\^, following, for an example : 

" We raise de wheat, 
Dey gib us de corn ; 
We bake de bread, 
Dey gib us de cruss ; 
We sif de meal, 
Dey gib us de huss ; 


"VTe peal de meat, 

Dey gib us de skin, 

And dat's de way 

Dey takes us in. 

"We skim de pot, 

Dey gib us the liquor, 

And say dat's good enougb for nigger. 

"VTalk over ! walk over ! 
Tom butter and de fat ; 
Poor nigger you can't get over dat y 

"Walk over ! " 

This is not a bad summary of the palpable injustice 
and fraud of slavery, giving — as it does — to the lazy 
and idle, the comforts which God designed should be 
given solely to the honest laborer. But to the holi- 

Judging from my own observation and experience, 
I believe these holidays to be among the most effect- 
ive means, in the hands of slaveholders, of keeping 
down the spirit of insurrection among the slaves. 

To enslave men, successfully and safely, it is neces- 
sary to have their minds occupied with thoughts and 
aspirations short of the liberty of which they are de- 
prived. A certain degree of attainable good must be 
kept before them. These holidays serve the purpose 
of keeping the minds of the slaves occupied with pros- 
pective pleasure, within the limits of slavery. The 
vouno; man can o^o wooino: ; the married man can 

t/ O CD O ^ 

visit his wife ; the father and mother can see their 
children ; the industrious and money loving can make 
a few dollars ; the great wrestler can win laurels ; 
the young people can meet, and enjoy each other's 
society ; the drunken man can get plenty of whisky ; 


and the religions man can hold prayer meetings^ 
preach, pray and exhort dnring the holidays. Before 
the holidays, these are pleasures in prospect ; after 
the holidays, they become pleasures of memory, and 
they serve to keep out thoughts and wishes of a more 
dangerous character. Were slaveholders at once to 
abandon the practice of allowing their slaves these 
liberties, periodically, and to keep them, the year 
round, closely confined to the narrow circle of their 
homes, I doubt not that the south would blaze with 
insurrections. These holidays are conductors or safety 
valves to carry oflf the explosive elements inseparable 
from the human mind, when reduced to the condition 
of slavery. But for these, the rigors of bondage would 
become too severe for endurance, and the slave would 
be forced up to dangerous desperation. Woe to the 
slaveholder when he undertakes to hinder or to pre- 
vent the operation of these electric conductors. A 
succession of earthquakes would be less destructive, 
than the insurrectionary fires which would be sure to 
burst forth in different parts of the south, from such 

Thus, the holidays, become part and parcel of the 
gross fraud, wrongs and inhumanity of slavery. Os- 
tensibly, they are institutions of benevolence, designed 
to mitigate the rigors of slave life, but, practically, 
they are a fraud, instituted by human selfishness, the 
better to secure the ends of injustice and oppression. 
The slave's happiness is not the end sought, but, rath- 
er, the master's safety. It is not from a generous un- 
concern for the slave's labor that this cessation from 
labor is allowed, but from a prudent regard to the 


safety of the slave system. I am strengtliened in tliis 
opinion, by the fact, that most slaveholders like to 
have their slaves spend the holidays in such a man- 
ner as to he of no real benefit to the slaves. It is 
plain, that everything like rational enjoyment among 
the slaves, is frowned upon ; and only those wild and 
low sports, peculiar to semi-civilized people, are en- 
couraged. All the license allowed, appears to have 
no other object than to disgust the slaves with their 
temporary freedom, and to make them as glad to re- 
turn to their work, as they were to leave it. By 
plunging them into exhausting depths of drunkenness 
and dissipation, this effect is almost certain to follow. 
I have known slaveholders resort to cunning tricks, 
with a view of getting their slaves deplorably drunk. 
A usual plan is, to make bets on a slave, that he can 
drink more whisky than any other ; and so to induce a 
rivalry among them, for the mastery in this degrada- 
tion. The scenes, brought about in this way, were 
often scandalous and loathsome in the extreme. Whole 
multitudes might be found stretched out in brutal 
drunkenness, at once helpless and disgusting. Thus, 
when the slave asks for a few hours of virtuous free- 
dom, his cunning master takes advantage of his igno- 
rance, and cheers him with a dose of vicious and re- 
volting dissipation, artfully labeled with the name of 
Liberty. We were induced to drink, I among the 
rest, and when the holidays were over, we all staggered 
up from our filth and wallowing, took a long breath, 
and went away to our various fields of work ; feeling, 
upon the whole, rather glad to go from that which our 
masters artfully deceived us into the belief was W-ee- 


dom, back again to the arms of slavery. It was not 
wliat we had taken it to be, nor what it might have 
been, had it not been abused by us. It was about as 
well to be a slave to master^ as to be a slave to rum 
and whisky. 

I am the more induced to take this view of the holi- 
day system, adopted by slaveholders, from what I 
know of their treatment of slaves, in regard to other 
things. It is the commonest thing for them to try to 
disgust their slaves with what they do not want them 
to have, or to enjoy. A slave, for instance, likes mo- 
lasses ; he steals some ; to cure him of the taste for it, 
his master, in many cases, will go away to town, and 
buy a large quantity of Xhoi ])oorest quality, and set it 
before his slave, and, with whip in hand, compel him 
to eat it, until the poor fellow is made to sicken at the 
very thought of molasses. The same course is often 
adopted to cure slaves of the disagreeable and incon- 
venient practice of asking for more food, when their 
allowance has failed them. The same disgusting pro- 
cess works well, too, in other things, but I need not 
cite them. AVhen a slave is drunk, the slaveholder 
has no fear that he will plan an insurrection ; no fear 
that he will escape to the north. It is the sober, 
thinking slave who is dangerous, and needs the vigi- 
lance of his master, to kee^D him a slave. But, to pro- 
ceed with my narrative. 

On the first of January, 1835, I proceeded from St. 
Michael's to Mr. AYilliam Freeland's, my new home. 
Mr. Freeland lived onl}' three miles from St. Michael's, 
on an old worn out farm, which required much labor 


to restore it to anything like a self-supporting estab- 

I was not long in finding Mr Freeland to he a very 
different man from Mr. Covey. Though not rich, Mr. 
Freeland was what may be called a well-bred south- 
ern gentleman, as different from Covey, as a well- 
trained and hardened negro breaker is from the best 
specimen of the first families of the south. Though 
Freeland was a slaveholder, and shared many of the 
vices of his class, he seemed alive to the sentiment of 
honor. He had some sense of justice, and some feel- 
ings of humanity. He was fretful, impulsive and 
passionate, but I must do him the justice to say, he 
was free from the mean and selfish characteristics 
which distinguished the creature from which I had 
now, happily, escaped. He was open, frank, impera- 
tive, and practiced no concealments, disdaining to 
play the spy. In all this, he was the opposite of the 
crafty Covey. 

Among the many advantages gained in my change 
from Covey's to Freeland's — startling as the state- 
ment may be — was the fact that the latter gentleman 
made no profession of religion. I assert most unJiesi- 
tatingly^ that the religion of the south — as I have ob- 
served it and proved it — is a mere covering for the 
most horrid crimes ; the justifier of the most appalling 
barbarity ; a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds ; 
and a secure shelter, under which the darkest, foulest, 
grossest, and most infernal abominations fester and 
flourish. Were I again to be reduced to the condition 
of a slave, next to that calamity, I should regard the 
fact of being the slave of a religious slaveholder, the 



greatest that could befall me. ^or of all slaveholders 
with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders 
are the worst. I have found them, almost invariably, 
the vilest, meanest and basest of their class./ Excep- 
tions there may be, but this is true of religious slave- 
holders, as a class. It is not for me to explain the 
fact. Others may do that ; I simply state it as a fact, 
and leave the theological, and psychological inquiry, 
which it raises, to be decided by others more compe- 
tent than myself. Religious slaveholders, like reli- 
gious persecutors, are ever extreme in their malice 
and violence. Yery near my new home, on an ad- 
joining farm, there lived the Rev. Daniel Weeden, 
who was both pious and cruel after the real Covey 
pattern. Mr. Weeden was a local preacher of the 
- Protestant Methodist persuasion, and a most zealous 
supporter of the ordinances of religion, generally. 
This AYeeden owned a woman called " Ceal," who 
was a standing proof of his mercilessness. Poor Ceal's 
back, always scantily clothed, was kept literally raw, 
by the lash of this religious man and gospel minister. 
The most notoriously wicked man — so called in dis- 
tinction from church members — could hire hands 
more easily than this brute. When sent out to find 
a home, a slave would never enter the gates of the 
preacher Weeden, while a sinful sinner needed a hand. 
jJehave ill, or behave well, it was the known maxim 
of Weeden, that it is the duty of a master to use the 
lash. If, for no other reason, he contended that this 
was essential to remind a slave of his condition, and 
of his master's authority. Tlie good slave must be 
whipped, to be kej)t good, and the bad slave must be 


whipped, to be made good. Such was TVeeden's 
theory, and such was his practice. The back of his 
slave-woman will, in the jndgment, be the swiftest 
witness against him. 

While I am stating particnlar cases, I might as well 
immortalize another of my neighbors, by calling him 
by name, and putting him in print. He did not think 
that a " chiel" was near, " taking notes," and will, 
doubtless, feel quite angry at having his character 
touched off in the ragged style of a slave's pen. I 
beg to introduce the reader to Eey. Rigby Hopkins. 
Mr. Hopkins resides between Easton and St. Michael's, 
in Talbot county, Maryland. The severity of this 
man made him a perfect terror to the slaves of his 
neighborhood. The peculiar feature of his govern- 
ment, was, his system of whipping slaves, as he said, 
in advance of deserving it. He always managed to 
have one or tv70 slaves to whi]3 on Monday morning, 
so as to start his hands to their work, under the inspi- 
ration of a new assurance on Monday, that his preach- 
ing about kindness, mercy, brotherly love, and the 
like, on Sunday, did not interfere with, or prevent 
him from establishing his authority, by the cowskin. 
He seemed to wish to assure them, that his tears over 
poor, lost and ruined sinners, and his pity for them, 
did not reach to the blacks who tilled his fields. This 
saintly Hopkins used to boast, that he was the best 
hand to manage a negro in the county. He whipped 
tor the smallest offenses, by way of preventing the 
commission of large ones. 

The reader might imagine a difficulty in finding 
faults enough for such frequent whipping. Bu^ this 


is because you have no idea how easy a matter it is 
to offend a man who is on the look-out for offenses. 
The man, unaccustomed to slaveholding, would be as- 
tonished to observe how many ^6>^^^i^5Z^ offenses there 
are in the slaveholder's catalogue of crimes ; and how 
easy it is to commit any one of them, even when the 
slave least intends it. A slaveholder, bent on finding 
fault, will hatch up a dozen a day, if he chooses to do 
so, and each one of these shall be of a punishable de- 
scription. A mere look, word, or motion, a mistake, 
accident, or want of power, are all matters for which 
a slave may be whipped at any time. Does a slave 
look dissatisfied with his condition ? It is said, that 
he has the devil in him, and it must be whipped out. 
Does he answer loudly^ when spoken to by his mas- 
ter, with an air of self-consciousness ? Then, must he 
be taken down a button-hole lower, by the lash, well 
laid on. Does he forget, and omit to pull off his hat, 
when approaching a white person ? Then, he must, 
or may be, whipped for his bad manners. Does he 
ever venture to vindicate his conduct, when harshly 
and unjustly accused? Then, he is guilty of impu- 
dence, one of the greatest crimes in the social cata- 
logue of southern society. To allow a slave to escape 
punishment, who has impudently attempted to excul- 
pate himself from unjust charges, preferred against 
him by some white person, is to be guilty of great 
dereliction of duty. Does a slave ever venture to sug- 
gest a better way of doing a thing, no matter what ? 
he is, altogether, too ofiicious — wise above ^vhat is 
written — and he deserves, even if he does not get, a 
flogging for his presumption. Does he, while plow- 


ing, break a plow, or while hoeing, break a hoe, or 
while chopping, break an ax ? no matter what were 
the imperfections of the implement broken, or the nat- 
ural liabilities for breaking, the slave can be whipped 
for carelessness. The reverend slaveholder could 
always find something of this sort, to justify him in 
using the lash several times during the week. Hop- 
kins — like Covey and Weeden — were shunned by 
slaves who had the privilege (as many had) of finding 
their own masters at the end of each year ; and yet, 
there was not a man in all that section of country, 
who made a louder profession of religion, than did 
Mr. KiGBY Hopkins. 

But, to continue the thread of my story, through my 
experience when at Mr. William Freeland's. 

My poor, weather-beaten bark now reached smooth- 
er water, and gentler breezes. My stormy life at Co- 
vey's had been of service to me. The things that 
would have seemed very hard, had I gone direct to 
Mr. Freeland's, from the home of Master Thomas, 
were now (after the hardships at Covey's) "trifles 
light as air." I was still a field hand, and had come 
to prefer the severe labor of the field, to the enerva- 
ting duties of a house servant. I had become larg^e 
and strong ; and had begun to take pride in the fact, 
that I could do as much hard work as some of the 
older men. There is much rivalry among slaves, at 
times, as to which can do the most work, and masters 
generally seek to promote such rivalry. But some 
of us were too wise to race with each other very 
long. Such racing, wc had the sagacity to see, was 
not likely to pay. We had our times for measuring 


each other's strength, but we knew too mncli to keep 
up the competition so long as to produce an extraor- 
dinary day's work. We knew that if, by extraordina- 
ry exertion, a large quantity of work was done in one 
day, the fact, becoming known to the master, might 
lead him to require the same amount every day. Tliis 
thought was enough to bring us to a dead halt when 
ever so much excited for the race. 

At Mr. Freeland's, my condition was everyway im- 
proved. I was no longer the poor scape-goat that I 
was when at Covey's, where every wrong thing done 
was saddled upon me, and where otlier slaves were 
whipped over my shoulders. Mr. Freeland was too j ust 
a man thus to impose upon me, or upon any one else. 

It is quite usual to make one slave the object of es- 
pecial abuse, and to beat him often, with a view to its 
effect upon others, rather than with any expectation 
that the slave whipped will be improved by it, but 
the man with whom I now was, could descend to no 
such meanness and wickedness. Every man here was 
held individually responsible for his own conduct. 

Tliis was a vast improvement on the rule at Covey's. 
There, I was the general pack horse. Bill Smitli was 
protected, by a positive prohibition made by his rich 
master, and the command of the rich slaveholder is 
LAW to the poor one ; Hughes was favored, because of 
his relationship to Covey ; and the hands hired tem- 
porarily, escaped flogging, except as they got it over 
my poor shoulders. Of course, this comparison refers 
to the time when Covey could whip me. 

Mr. Freeland, like Mr. Covey, gave his hands 
enough to eat, but, unlike Mr. Covey, he gave them 


time to take their meals ; he worked us liard durino* 
the daj, but gave us the night for rest — another ad- 
vantage to be set to the credit of the sinner, as 
against that of the saint. We were seldom in the tield 
after dark in the evening, or before sunrise in the 
morning. Our implements of husbandly were of the 
most improved pattern, and much superior to those 
used at Covey's. 

Notwithstanding the improved condition which was 
now mine, and the many advantages I had gained by 
my new home, and my new master, I was still rest- 
less and discontented. I was about as hard to please 
by a master, as a master is by a slave. The freedom 
from bodily torture and unceasing labor, had given 
my mind an increased sensibility, and imparted to it 
greater activity. I was not yet exactly in right rela- 
tions. " How be it, that was not first which is spir- 
itual, but tliat which is natural, and afterward that 
which is spiritual." When entombed at Covey's, 
shrouded in darkness and physical wretchedness, tem- 
poral well-being was the grand desideratum ; but, tem- 
poral wants supplied, the spirit puts in its claims. 
Beat and cuff your slave, keep him hungry and spir- 
itless, and he will follow the chain of his master like 
a dog ; but, feed and clothe him well, — work liim mod- 
erately — surround him with physical comfort, — and 
dreams of freedom intrude. ''Give him a had master, 
and he aspires to a good master ; give him a good mas- 
ter, and he wishes to become his own master. Such 
is human nature. /You may hurl a man so low, be- 
neath the level of his kind, that he loses all just ideas 
of his natural position ; but elevate him a little, and 


the clear conception of rights rises to hfe and power, 
and leads him onward. Thus elevated, a little, at Free- 
land's, the dreams called into being by that good man, 
Father Lawson, when in Baltimore, began to visit me ; 
and shoots from the tree of liberty began to put forth 
tender buds, and dim hopes of the future began to dawn. 

I found myself in congenial society, at Mr. Free- 
land's. There were Henry Harris, John Harris, Han- 
dy Caldwell, and Sandy Jenkins.'^ 

Henry and John were brotliers, and belonged to 
Mr. Freeland. They were both remarkably bright 
and intelligent, though neither of them could read. 
Kow for mischief ! I had not been long at Freeland's 
before I was up to my old tricks. I early began to 
address my companions on the subject of education, 
and the advantages of intelligence over ignorance, 
and, as fiir as I dared, I tried to show the agency of 
ignorance in keeping men in slavery. Webster's 
spelling book and the Columbian Orator were looked 
into again. As summer came on, and the long Sab- 
bath days stretched themselves over our idleness, I 
became uneasy, and wanted a Sabbath school, in 
which to exercise my gifts, and to impart the little 
knowledge of letters which I possessed, to my brother 
slaves. A house was hardly necessary in the sum- 
mer time ; I could hold my school under the shade 

* This is the same man who gave me the roots to prevent mj be- 
ing whipped by Mr. Covey. He was "a clever soul." We used 
frequently to talk about the fight with Covey, and as often as we 
did so, he would claim my success as the result of the roots which 
he gave me. This superstition is ver}' common among the more 
ignorant slaves. A slave seldom dies, but that his death is attribu- 
ted to trickery. 


of an old oak tree, as well as any where else. The 
thing was, to get the scholars, and to have them thor- 
ous^hlv imbued with the desire to learn. Two such 
boys were quickly secured, in Henry and John, and 
from them the contagion spread. I was not long in 
bringing around me twenty or thirty young men, who 
enrolled themselves, gladly, in my Sabbath school, 
and were willing to meet me regularly, under the 
trees or elsewhere, for the purpose of learning to read. 
It was surprising with what ease they provided them- 
selves with spelling books. These were mostly the 
cast off books of their young masters or mistresses. I 
taught, at first, on our own farm. All were impressed 
with the necessity of keeping the matter as private 
as possible, for the fate of the St. Michael's attempt 
was notorious, and fresh in the minds of all. Our 
pious masters, at St. Michael's, must not know that a 
few of their dusky brothers were learning to read the 
word of God, lest they should come down upon us 
with the lash and chain. We mio^ht have met to 
drink whisky, to wrestle, fight, and to do other un- 
seemly things, with no fear of interruption from the 
saints or the sinners of St. Michael's. 

But, to meet for the purpose of improving the mind 
and heart, by learning to read the sacred scriptures, 
was esteemed a most dangerous nuisance, to be in- 
stantly stopped. The slaveholders of St. Michael's, 
like slaveholders elsewhere, would always prefer to 
see the slaves engaged in degrading sports, rather 
tlian to see them acting like moral and accountable 

Had any one asked a religious white man, in St. 


Michael's, twenty years ago, the names of three men 
in that town, ^vliose lives were most after the pattern 
of onr Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the first three 
w^oiild have been as follovfs : 

Gakrisox West, Class Leader. 

Wkigiit Fairbanks, Class Leader 

Tho:\ias Auld, Class Leoxler. 
And yet, these were the men who ferociously rushed 
in upon my Sabbath school, at St. MichaePs, armed 
with mob-like missiles, and forbade our meeting again, 
on pain of having our backs made bloody by the lash. 
This same Garrison AVest was my class leader, and I 
must say, I thought him a christian, until he took 
part in breaking up my school. He led me no more 
after that. The plea for this outrage was then, as it is 
now and at all times, — the danger to good order. If 
the slaves learnt to read, they would learn some- 
thing else, and something worse. The peace of slave- 
ry would be disturbed ; slave rule would be endan- 
gered. I leave the reader to characterize a system 
which is endangered by such causes. I do not dis- 
pute the soundness of the reasoning. It is perfectly 
sound ; and, if slavery be right^ Sabbath schools for 
teaching slaves to read the bible are wrong^ and ought 
to be put down. These christian class' leaders were, 
to this extent, consistent. They had settled the ques- 
tion, that slavery is rights and, by that standard, they 
determined that Sabbath schools are wrong. To be 
sure, they were Protestant, and held to the great Pro- 
testant right of every man to " search the scri])turei'^ 
for himself; but, then, to all general rules, there are 
excej)tions. How convenient ! what crimes, may not 


be committed under the doctrine of the last remark. 
But, my dear, class leading Methodist brethren, did 
not condescend to give give me a reason for breaking 
np the Sabbath school at St. Michael's ; it was enough 
that they had determined upon its destruction. I am, 
however, digressing. 

After getting the school cleverly into operation, the 
second time — holding it in the woods, behind the 
barn, and in the shade of trees — I succeeded in indu- 
cing a free colored man, who lived several miles from 
our house, to permit me to hold my school in a room 
at his house. He, very kindly, gave me this liberty ; 
but he incurred much peril in doing so, for the assem- 
blage was an unlawful one. I shall not mention, here, 
the name of this man ; for it might, even now, sub- 
ject him to persecution, although the offenses were 
committed more than twenty years ago. I had, at 
one time, more than forty scholars, all of the right sort ; 
and many of them succeeded in learning to read. I 
have met several slaves from Maryland, who were 
once my scholars ; and who obtained their freedom, 
I doubt not, partly in consequence of the ideas im- 
parted to them in that school. I have had various 
employments during my short life ; but I look back 
to 7iQne with more satisfaction, than to that afforded 
by my Sunday school. An attachment, deep and 
lasting, sprung up between me and my persecuted 
pupils, which made my parting from them intensely 
grievous ; and, when I think that most of these dear 
souls are yet shut up in this abject thralldom, I am 
overwhelmed with grief. 

Besides my Sunday school, I devoted three eve- 


niiigs a week to mj fellow slaves, diiring the winter. 
Let the reader reflect upon the fact, tliat, in tliis chris- 
tian country, men and women are hiding from pro- 
fessors of religion, in barns, in the woods and fields, 
in order to learn to read the holy hible. Those dear 
souls, who came to my Sabbath school, came iwt be- 
cause it was popular or reputable to attend such a 
phice, for they came under the liability of having 
forty stripes laid on their naked backs. Every mo- 
ment they spent in my school, they were under this 
terrible liability ; and, in this respect, I was a sharer 
with them. Their minds had been cramped and starved 
by their cruel masters ; the liglit of education had 
been completely excluded ; and their hard earnings 
had been taken to educate their master's children. I 
felt a delight in circumventing the tyrants,, and in 
blessing the victims of their curses. 

The year at Mr. Freeland's passed off very smooth- 
ly, to outward seeming. Xot a blow was given me 
during the whole year. To the credit of Mr. Free- 
land, — irreligious though he was — it must be stated, 
that he was the best master I ever had, until I became 
my own master, and assumed for myself, as I had a 
right to do, the responsibility of my own existence 
and the exercise of my own powers. For much of 
the happiness — or absence of misery — with which I 
passed this year with Mr. Freeland, I am indebted to 
the genial temper and ardent friendship of my broth- 
er slaves. They were, every one of them, manly, gen- 
erous and brave, yes ; I say they were brave, and I 
will add, fine looking. It is seldom the lot of mortals 
to have truer and better friends than were the slaves 


on this farm. It is not uncommon to charge slaves 
with great treachery toward each other, and to believe 
them incapable of confiding in each other ; but I must 
say, that I never loved, esteemed, or confided in men, 
more than I did in these. They were as true as steel, 
and no band of brothers could have been more loving. 
There were no mean advantages taken of each other, 
as is sometimes the case where slaves are situated as 
we were ; no tattling ; no giving each other bad 
names to Mr. Freeland; and no elevating one at the 
expense of the other. We never undertook to do 
any thing, of any importance, which was likely to 
aflect each other, without mutual consultation. We 
were generally a unit, and moved together. Thoughts 
and sentiments were exchanged between us, which 
might well be called very incendiary, by oppressors 
and tyrants ; and perhaps the time has not even now 
come, when it is safe to unfold all the flying sugges- 
tions which arise in the minds of intelligent slaves. 
Several of my friends and brothers, if yet alive, are 
still in some part of the house of bondage ; and though 
twenty years have passed away, the suspicious malice 
of slavery might punish them for even listening to my 

The slaveholder, kind or cruel, is a slaveholder still 
— the every hour violator of the just and inalienable 
rights of man ; and he is, therefore, every hour silently 
whottin«: the knife of veno;eance for his own throat. 
He never lisps a syllable in commendation of the 
fathers of this republic, nor denounces any attempted 
oppression of himself, without inviting the knife to hia 


own tliroat, and asserting tlie riglits of rebellion for 
his own slaves. 

The year is ended, and we are now in the midst of 
the Christmas holidays, which are kept this year as 
last, according to the general description previously 
























I AM now at the beginning of the year 1836, a time 
favorable for serious thoughts. The mind naturally 
occupies itself with the mysteries of life in all its 
phases — the ideal, the real and the actual. Sober 
people look both ways at the beginning of the year, 
surveying the errors of the past, and providing against 
possible errors of the future. I, too, was thus exer- 
cised, I had little pleasure in retrospect, and the 


prospect was not very brilliant. " E"ot withstanding," 
thonght I, " the many resolutions and prayers I have 
made, in behalf of freedom, I am, this first day of the 
year 1836, still a slave, still wandering in the depths 
of spirit-devom-ing thralldom. My faculties and 
powers of body and soul are not my own, but are the 
property of a fellow mortal, in no sense superior to 
me, except that he has the physical power to compel 
me to be owned and controlled by him. By the com- 
bined physical force of the community, I am his slave, 
— a slave for life." With thoughts like these, I was 
perplexed and chafed ; they rendered me gloomy and 
disconsolate. The anguish of my mind may not be 

At the close of the year 1835, Mr. Freeland, my 
temporary master, had bought me of Capt. Thomas 
Auld, for the year 1836. His promptness in securing 
my services, would have been flattering to my vanity, 
had I been ambitious to win the reputation of being 
a valuable slave. Even as it was, I felt a slight de- 
gree of complacency at the circumstance. It showed 
he was as well pleased with me as a slave, as I was 
with him as a master. I have already intimated my 
regard for Mr. Freeland, and I may say here, in ad- 
dressino: northern readers — where there is no selfish 
motive for speaking in praise of a slaveholder — that 
Mr. Freeland was a man of many excellent quali- 
ties, and to me quite preferable to any master I ever 

But the kindness of the slavemaster only gilds the 
chain of slavery, and detracts nothing from its weight 
or power. The thought that men are made for other 


and better uses than slayerj, thrives best under tbe 
gentle treatment of a kind master. But the grim vis- 
age of slavery can assume no smiles which can fasci- 
nate the partially enlightened slave, into a forgetful- 
ness of his bondage, nor of the desirableness of liberty. 
I was not through the first month of this, my se- 
cond year with the kind and gentlemanly Mr. Free- 
land, before I was earnestly considering and devising 
plans for gaining that freedom, which, when I was 
but a mere child, I had ascertained to be the natural 
and inborn right of every member of the human fam- 
ily. The desire for this freedom had been benumbed, 
while I was under the brutalizing dominion of Covey ; 
and it had been postponed, and rendered inoperative, 
by my truly pleasant Sunday school engagements 
with my friends, during the year 1835, at Mr. Free- 
land's. It had, however, never entirely subsided. I 
hated slavery, always, and the desire for freedom on- 
ly needed a favorable breeze, to fan it into a blaze, at 
any moment. The thought of only being a creature 
of the prese?it and the past, troubled me, and I longed 
to have a future — a future with hope in it. To be 
shut up entirely to tlie past and present, is abhorrent 
to the human mind ; it is to the soul — whose life and 
happiness is unceasing progress — what the prison is 
to the body ; a blight and mildew, a hell of horrors. 
The dawning of this, another year, awakened me from 
my temporary slumber, and roused into life my la- 
tent, but long cherished aspirations for freedom. I 
was now not only ashamed to be contented in slave- 
ry, but ashamed to seem to be contented, and in my 
present favorable condition, under the mild rule of 
L* 18 


Mr. F., I am not sure that some kind reader will 
not condemn me for being over ambitious, and greatly 
wanting in proper humility, when I say the truth, 
that I now drove from me all thoughts of making 
the best of my lot, and welcomed only such thoughts 
as led me away from the house of bondage. The in- 
tense desire, now felt, to he free, quickened by my 
present favorable circumstances, brought me to the 
determination to cict, as well as to think and speak. 
Accordingly, at the beginning of this year 1836, I 
took upon me a solemn vow, that the year which had 
now dawned upon me should not close, without wit- 
nessing an earnest attem^^t, on my part, to gain my 
liberty. This vow only bound me to make my escape 
individually ; but the year spent with Mr. Freeland 
had attached me, as with " hooks of steel," to my broth- 
er slaves. The most affectionate and confiding friend- 
ship existed between us ; and I felt it my duty to give 
them an oj^portunity to share in my virtuous deter- 
mination, by frankly disclosing to them my plans and 
purj^oses. Toward Henry and John Harris, I felt a 
friendship as strong as one man can feel for another ; 
for I could have died with and for them. To them, 
therefore, with a suitable degree of caution, I began 
to disclose my sentiments and plans ; sounding them, 
the while, on the subject of running away, provided 
a good chance should ofler. I scarcely need tell the 
reader, that I did my very hest to imbue the minds of 
my dear friends with my own views and feelings. 
Thoroughly awakened, now, and with a definite vow 
upon me, all my little reading, which had any bear- 
ing on the subject of human rights, was rendered 


available in my communications with my friends. 
That (to me) gem of a book, the Columbian Orator, 
with its eloquent orations and spicy dialogues, denoun- 
cing oppression and slavery — telling of what had been 
dared, done and suffered by men, to obtain the ines- 
timable boon of liberty — was still fresh in my mem- 
ory, and whirled into the ranks of my speech with the 
aptitude of well trained soldiers, going through the 
drill. The fact is, I here began my public speaking. 
I canvassed, with Henry and John, the subject of 
slavery, and dashed against it the condemning brand 
of God's eternal justice, which it every hour violates. 
My fellow servants were neither indifi'erent, dull, nor 
inapt. Our feelings were more alike than our opin- 
ions. All, however, were ready to act, when a feasi- 
ble plan should be proposed. " Show us lioio the 
thing is to be done," said they, " and all else is clear." 
We were all, except Sandy, quite free from slave- 
holding priestcraft. It was in vain that we had been 
taught from the pulpit at St. Michael's, the duty of 
obedience to our masters ; to recognize God as the 
author of our enslavement ; to regard running away 
an offense, alike against God and man ; to deem our 
enslavement a merciful and beneficial arrangement ; 
to esteem our condition, in this country, a paradise 
to that from which we had been snatched in Africa ; 
to consider our hard hands and dark color as God's 
mark of displeasure, and as pointing us out as the 
proper subjects of slavery ; that the relation of mas- 
ter and slave was one of reciprocal benefits ; that 
our work was not more serviceable to our masters, 
than our master's thinkino; was serviceable to us. I 


say, it was in vain that the pulpit of St. Michael's 
had constantly inculcated these plausible doctrines. 
Kature laughed them to scorn. For my own part, I 
had now become altogether too big for my chains. 
Father Lawson's solemn words, of what I ought to be, 
and might be, in the providence of God, had not fal- 
len dead on my soul. I was fast verging toward man- 
hood, and the prophecies of my childhood were still 
unfulfilled. The thought, that year after year had 
passed away, and my best resolutions to run away had 
failed and faded — that I was still a slave^ and a slave, 
too, with chances for gaining my freedom diminished 
and still diminishing — was not a matter to be slept 
over easily ; nor did I easily sleep over it. 

But here came a new trouble. Thoughts aud pur- 
poses so incendiary as those I now cherished, could 
not agitate the mind long, without danger of making 
themselves manifest to scrutinizing and unfriendly 
beholders. I had reason to fear that my sable face 
might prove altogether too transparent for the safe 
concealment of my hazardous enterjDrise. Plans of 
greater moment have leaked through stone walls, and 
revealed their projectors. But, here was no stone 
wall to hide my purpose. I would have given my 
poor, tell tale face for the immovable countenance of 
an Indian, for it was far from being proof against the 
daily, searching glances of those with whom I met. 

It is the interest and business of slaveholders to 
study human nature, with a view to practical results, 
and many of them attain astonishing proficiency in 
discerning the thoughts and emotions of slaves. They 
have to deal not with earth, wood, or stone, but with 


men / and, by every regard they have for their safety 
and prosperity, they must study to know the material 
on which they are at work. So much intellect as the 
slaveholder has around him, requires watching. Their 
safety depends upon their vigilance. Conscious of 
the injustice and wrong they are every hour perpe- 
trating, and knowing what they themselves would do 
if made the victims of such wrongs, they are looking 
out for the first signs of the dread retribution of jus- 
tice. They watch, therefore, with skilled and prac- 
ticed eyes, and have learned to read, with great ac- 
curacy, the state of mind and heart of the slave, 
through his sable face. These uneasy sinners are 
quick to inquire into the matter, where the slave is 
concerned. Unusual sobriety, apparent abstraction, 
sullenness and indifi*erence — indeed, any mood out of 
the common way — afford ground for suspicion and 
inquiry. Often relying on their superior position and 
wisdom, they hector and torture the slave into a con- 
fession, by affecting to know the truth of their accu- 
sations. " You have got the devil in you," say they, 
" and we will whip him out of you." I have often 
been put thus to the torture, on bare suspicion. This 
system has its disadvantages as well as their opposite. 
The slave is sometimes whipped into the confession 
of offenses which he never committed. The reader 
will see that the good old rule — " a man is to be 
held innocent until proved to be guilty " — does not 
hold good on the slave plantation. Suspicion and 
torture are the approved methods of getting at the 
truth, here. It was necessary for me, therefore, to 


keep a watch over my deportment, lest the enemy 
should o^et the better of me. 

But with all our caution and studied reserve, I am 
not sure that Mr. Freeland did not suspect that all 
was not right with us. It did seem that he watched us 
more narrowly, after the plan of escape had been con- 
ceived and discussed amongst us. Men seldom see 
themselves as others see them ; and while, to our- 
selves, everything connected with our contemplated 
escape appeared concealed, Mr. Freeland may have, 
with the peculiar prescience of a slaveholder, mas- 
tered the huge thought which was disturbing o»r 
peace in slavery. 

I am the more* inclined to think that he suspected 
us, because, prudent as we were, as I now look back, 
I can see that we did many silly things, very well 
calculated to awaken suspicion. We were, at times, 
remarkably buoyant, singing hymns and making joy- 
ous exclamations, almost as triumphant in their tone 
as if we had reached a land of freedom and safety. 
A keen observer might have detected in our repeated 
singing of 

"O Canaan, sweet Canaan, 

I am bound for the land of Canaan," 

something more than a hope of reaching heaven. 
We meant to reach the north — and the north was our 

" I thought I heard them say, 
There were lions in ihe way, 
I don't expect to stay 
Much longer here. 


Run to Jesus — shun the danger — 
I don't expect to stay 
Much longer here," 

was a favorite air, and bad a doii"ble meaning. In 
the lips cf some, it meant the expectation of a speedy 
summons to a world of spirits ; but, in the lips of our 
company, it simply meant, a speedy pilgrimage to- 
ward a free state, and deliverance from all the evils 
and dangers of slavery. 

I bad succeeded in winning to my (wbat slavehold- 
ers would call wicked) scheme, a company of five 
young men, the very flower of the neighborhood, each 
one of whom would have commanded one thousand 
dollars in the home market. At jSTew Orleans, they 
would have brought fifteen hundred dollars a piece, 
and, perhaps, more. The names of our party were 
as follows : Henry Harris ; John Harris, brother to 
Henry ; Sandy Jenkins, of root memory ; Charles 
Roberts, and Henry Bailey. I was the youngest, but 
one, of the j)arty. I had, however, the advantage of 
them all, in experience, and in a knowledge of letters. 
This gave me great influence over them. Perhaps 
not one of them, left to himself, would have dreamed 
of escape as a possible thing. ]N"ot one of them was 
self-moved in the matter. They all wanted to be 
free ; but the serious thought of running away, had 
not entered into their minds, until I won them to the 
undertaking. They all were tolerably well ofi" — for 
slaves — and had dim hopes of being set free, some 
day, by their masters. If any one is to blame for 
disturbing the quiet of the slaves and slave-masters 
of the neighborhood of St. Michael's, I am the man. 


I claim to be the instigator of the high crime, (as 
the slaveholders regard it,) and I kept life in it, until 
life could be kept in it no longer. 

Pending the time of our contemplated departure 
out of our Egypt, we met often by night, and on ev- 
ery Sunday. At these meetings we talked the matter 
over ; told our hopes and fears, and the difficulties 
discovered or imagined ; and, like men of sense, we 
counted the cost of the enterprise to which we were 
committing ourselves. 

These meetings must have resembled, on a small 
scale, the meetings of revolutionary conspirators, in 
their primary condition. We were plotting against 
our (so called) lawful rulers ; with this difference — 
that we sought our own good, and not the harm of our 
enemies. We did not seek to overthrow them, but to 
escape from them. As for Mr. Freeland, we all liked 
him, and would have gladly remained with him, as 
freemen. Liberty was our aim ; and w^e had now 
come to think that we had a right to liberty, against 
every obstacle — even against the lives of our enslavers. 

We had several words, expressive of things, impor- 
tant to us, which we understood, but which, even if 
distinctly heard by an outsider, would convey no cer- 
tain meaning. I have reasons for suppressing these 
2?ass-ioordSj which the reader will easily divine. I 
hated the secrecy ; but where slavery is powerful, 
and liberty is weak, the latter is driven to conceal- 
ment or to destruction. 

The prospect was not always a bright one. At 
times, we v,rere almost tempted to abandon the enter- 
prise, and to get back to that comparative peace of 


mind, which even a man under the gallows might 
feel, when all hope of escape had vanished. Quiet 
bondage was felt to be better than the doubts, fears 
and uncertainties, which now so sadlj perplexed and 
disturbed us. 

The infirmities of humanity, generally, were rep- 
resented in our little band. We were confident, bold 
and determined, at times ; and, again, doubting, timid 
and wavering ; whistling, like the boy in the grave- 
yard, to keep away the spirits. 

To look at the map, and observe the proximity of 
Eastern Shore, Maryland, to Delaware and Pennsyl- 
vania, it may seem to the reader quite absurd, to 
regard the piX)posed escape as a formidable underta- 
king. But to linderstand^ some one has said a man 
must stand under. The real distance was great 
enough, but the imagined distance was, to our igno- 
rance, even greater. Every slaveholder seeks to im- 
press his slave with a belief in the boundlessness of 
slave territory, and of his own almost illimitable power. 
We all had vague and indistinct notions of the geog- 
raphy of the country. 

The distance, however, is not the chief trouble. The 
nearer are the lines of a slave state and the borders 
of a free one, the greater the peril. Hired kidnap- 
pers infest these borders. Then, too, we knew that 
merely reaching a free state did not free us ; that, 
wherever caught, we could be returned to slavery. 
We could see no spot on this side the ocean, where 
we could be free. We had heard of Canada, the real 
Canaan of the American bondmen, simply as a coun-' 
try to which the wild goose and the swan repaired at 


the end of winter, to escape the heat of summer, but 
not as the home of man. I knew something of the- 
ology, but nothing of geography. I really did not, at 
that time, know that there was a state of Xew York, 
or a state of Massachusetts. I had heard of Penn- 
sylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, and all the south- 
ern states, but was ignorant of the free states, gener- 
all3^ New York city was our northern limit, and to 
go there, and to be forever harassed with the liability 
of being hunted down and returned to slavery — with 
the certainty of being treated ten times worse than 
we had ever been treated before — was a prospect far 
from deliglitful, and it might well cause some hesita- 
tion about eno^aorinor in the enterprise. The case, 
sometimes, to our excited visions, stood thus : At 
every gate through which we had to pass, we saw a 
watchman ; at every ferry, a guard ; on every bridge, 
a sentinel ; and in every wood, a patrol or shxve-liun- 
ter. We were hemmed in on every side. The good 
to be sought, and the evil to be shunned, were flung 
in the balance, and weighed against each other. On 
the one hand, there stood slavery ; a stern reality, 
glaring frightfully upon us, with the blood of millions 
in his polluted skirts— terrible to behold — greedily de- 
vouring our hard earnings and feeding himself upon 
our flesh. Here was the evil from which to escape. On 
the other hand, far away, back in the hazy distance, 
-'^vhere all forms seemed but shadows, under the flick- 
ering light of the north star — behind some craggy hill 
or snow-covered mountain — stood a doubtful freedom, 
half frozen, beckoning us to her icy domain. This 
was, the good to be sought. The inequality was as 


great as that between certainty and uncertainty. Tins, 
in itself, was enough to stagger us ; but when we came 
to survey the untrodden road, and conjecture the 
many possible difficulties, we were appalled, and at 
times, as I have said, were upon the point of giving 
over the struggle altogether. 

The reader can have little idea of the phantoms of 
trouble which flit, in such circumstances, before the 
uneducated mind of the slave. Upon either side, we 
saw grim death assuming a variety of horrid shapes. 
Now, it was starvation, causing us, in a strange and 
friendless land, to eat our own iiesh. Now, we were 
contending with the waves, (for our journey was in 
part by water,) and were drowned. Now, we were 
hunted by dogs, and overtaken and torn to pieces by 
their merciless fangs. We were stung by scorpions — 
chased by wild beasts — bitten by snakes ; and, worst 
of all, after having succeeded in swimming rivers — 
encountering w41d beasts — sleeping in the woods 
— suffering hunger, cold, heat and nakedness — we 
supposed ourselves to be overtaken by hired kidnap- 
pers, who, in the name of the law, and for their thrice 
accursed reward, would, perchance, fire ujDon us — 
kill some, wound others, and capture all. This dark 
picture, drawn by ignorance and fear, at times greatly 
shook our determination, and not unfrequently caused 
us to 

"Rather bear those ills we had 
Than fly to others which we knew not of." 

I am not disposed to magnify this circumstance in 
my experience, and yet I think I shall seem to be so 


disposed, to the reader. 'No man can tell the intense 
agony which is felt by the slave, when wavering on 
the point of making his escape. All that he has is 
at stake ; and even that which he has not, is at stake, 
also. The life which he has, may be lost, and the 
liberty which he seeks, may not be gained. 

Patrick Henry, to a listening senate, thrilled by his 
magic eloquence, and ready to stand by him in his 
boldest flights, could say, " Give me Liberty or give 
ME Death," and this saying was a sublime one, even 
for a freeman ; but, incomparably more sublime, is 
the same sentiment, yvheii practicaUj/ asserted b}^ men 
accustomed to the lash and chain — men whose sensi- 
bilities must have become more or less deadened by 
their bondage. With us it was a doubtful liberty, at 
best, that we sought ; and a certain, lingering death 
in the rice swamps and sugar fields, if we failed. Life 
is not lightly regarded by men of sane minds. It is 
precious, alike to the pauper and to the prince — to 
the slave, and to his master ; and yet, I believe there 
was not one among us, who would not rather have 
been shot down, than pass away life in hopeless 

In the progress of our preparations, Sandy, the root 
man, became troubled. He began to have dreams, 
and some of them were very distressing. One of 
these, which happened on a Friday night, was, to him, 
of great significance ; and I am quite ready to confess, 
that I felt somewhat damped by it myself. He said, 
" I dreamed, last night, that I was roused from sleep, 
by strange noises, like the voices of a swarm of angry 
birds, that caused a roar ^s they passed, which fell 


upon ray ear like a coming gale over tlie tops of the 
trees. Looking up to see what it could mean,'- said 
Sandy, " I saw you, Frederick, in the claws of a huge 
bird, surrounded by a large number of birds, of all 
colors and sizes. These were all picking at you, while 
you, with your arms, seemed to be trying to j)rotect 
your eyes. Passing over me, the birds flew in a 
south-westerly direction, and I watched them until 
they were clean out of sight. Now, I saw this as 
plainly as I now see you ; and furder, honey, watch 
de Friday night dream ; dare is sumpon in it, shose 
you born ; dare is, indeed, honey." 

I confess I did not like this dream ; but I threw off 
concern about it, by attributing it to the general ex- 
citement and perturbation consequent upon our con- 
templated j)lan of escape. I could not, however, 
shake off its effect at once. I felt that it boded 
me no good. Sandy was unusually emphatic and 
oracular, and his manner had much to do with the 
impression made upon me. 

The plan of escape which I recommended, and to 
which my comrades assented, was to take a large ca- 
noe, owned by Mr. Hamilton, and, on the Saturday 
night previous to the Easter holidays, launch out into 
the Chesapeake bay, and paddle for its head, — a dis- 
tance of seventy miles — with all our might. Our 
course, on reaching this point, was, to turn the canoe 
adrift, and bend our steps toward the north star, till 
we reached a free state. 

There were several objections to this plan. One 
was, the danger from gales on the bay. In rough 
weather, the waters of the Chesapeake are much agi- 


tated, and there is danger, in a canoe, of being swamped 
by the waves. Another objection was, that the ca- 
noe would soon be missed ; the absent persons would, 
at once, be suspected of having taken it; and we 
should be pursued by some of the fast sailing bay 
craft out of St. Michael's. Then, again, if we reached 
the head of the bay, and turned the canoe adrift, she 
might prove a guide to our track, and bring the land 
hunters after us. 

These and other objections were set aside, by the 
stronger ones whicli could be urged against every 
other plan that could then be suggested. On the wa- 
ter, we had a chance of being regarded as fishermen, 
in the service of a master. On the other hand, by 
taking the land route, through the counties adjoining 
Delaware, we should be subjected to all manner of 
interruptions, and many very disagreeable questions, 
which might give us serious trouble. Any white man 
is authorized to stop a man of color, on any road, and 
examine him, and arrest him, if he so desires. 

By this arrangement, many abuses (considered such 
even by slaveholders) occur. Cases have been known, 
where freemen have been called upon to show their 
free papers, by a pack of ruffians — and, on tlie pre- 
sentation of the papers, the ruffians have torn them 
up, and seized their victim, and sold him to a life of 
endless bondage. 

The week before our intended start, I wrote a pass 
for each of our party, giving them permission to visit 
Baltimore, during the Easter holidays. The pass ran 
after this manner : 


" This is to certify, that I, the undersigned, have given the 
bearer, my servant, John, full liberty to go to Baltimore, to 
spend the Easter holidays. 

"W. H. 

" Near St. Michael's, Talbot county, Maryland." 

Although we were not going to Baltimore, and 
were intending to land east of ISTorth Point, in the di- 
rection where I had seen the Philadelphia steamers 
go, these passes might be made useful to us in the 
lower part of the bay, while steering toward Balti- 
more. These were not, however, to be shown by us, 
until all other answers failed to satisfy the inquirer. 
We were all fully alive to the importance of being 
calm and self-possessed, when accosted, if accosted 
we should be ; and we more times than one rehearsed 
to each other how we should behave in the hour of 

Those were long, tedious days and nights. The 
suspense was painful, in the extreme. To balance 
probabilities, where life and liberty hang on the re- 
sult, requires steady nerves. I panted for action, and 
was glad when the day, at the close of which we were 
to start, dawned upon us. Sleeping, the night before, 
was out of the question. I probably felt more deeply 
than any of my companions, because I Was the insti- 
gator of the jnovement. The responsibility of the 
whole enterprise rested on my shoulders. The glory 
of success, and the shame and confusion of failure, 
could not be matters of indifference to me. Our food 
was prepared ; our clothes were packed up ; we were 
all ready to go, and impatient for Saturday morning — 
considering that the last morning of our bondage. 


I cannot describe the tempest and tnmnlt of my 
brain, that morning. The reader will please to bear 
in mind, that, in a slave state, an unsnccessful run- 
away is not only subjected to cruel torture, and sold 
away to the far south, but he is frequently execrated 
by the other slaves. He is charged with making the 
condition of the other slaves intolerable, by laying 
them all under the suspicion of their masters — sub- 
jecting them to greater vigilance, andim]30sing great- 
er limitations on their privileges. I dreaded murmurs 
from this quarter. It is difficult, too, for a slave-mas- 
ter to believe that slaves escaping have not been aided 
in their flight by some one of their fellow slaves. 
When, therefore, a slave is missing, every slave on the 
place is closely examined as to his knowledge of the 
undertaking ; and they are sometimes even tortured, 
to make them disclose what they are suspected of 
knowing of such escape. 

Our anxiety grew more and more intense, as the 
time of our intended departure for the north drew 
nigh. It was truly felt to be a matter of life and 
death with us ; and we fully intended to fight as well 
as run^ if necessity should occur for that extremity. 
But the trial hour was not yet come. It w^as easy to 
resolve, but not so easy to act. I expected there 
might be some drawing back, at the last. It was 
natural that there should be ; therefore, during the 
intervening time, I lost no opportunity to explain 
away difficulties, to remove doubts, to dispel fears, 
and to inspire all with firmness. It was too late to 
look back; and now was the time to go forward. 
Like most other men, we had done the talking part 


of our work, long and well ; and the time had come 
to act as if we were in earnest, and meant to be as 
true in action as in words. I did not forget to appeal 
to the pride of my comrades, by telling them that, if 
after having solemnly promised to go, as they had 
done, they now failed to make the attempt, they would, 
in efiect, brand themselves with cowardice, and might 
as well sit down, fold their arms, and acknowledge 
themselves as fit only to be slaves. This detestable 
character, all were unwilling to assume. Every man 
except Sandy (he, much to our regret, withdrew) stood 
firm ; and at our last meeting w^e pledged, ourselves 
afresh, and in the most solemn manner, that, at the 
time appointed, we luoiild certainly start on our long 
journey for a free country. This meeting was in the 
middle of the week, at the end of which we were to start. 
Early that morning we went, as usual, to the field, 
but with hearts that beat quickly and anxiously. 
Any one intimately acquainted with us, might have 
seen that all was not well with us, and that some mon- 
ster liupfered in our thouo;hts. Our work that morn- 
ing was the same as it had been for several days past — 
drawing out and spreading manure. While thus en- 
gaged, I had a sudden presentiment, which flashed upon 
me like lightning in a dai'k night, revealing to the 
lonely traveler the gulf before, and the enemy be- 
hind. I instantly turned to Sandy Jenkins, who was 
near me, and said to him, " Sandy ^ loe are hetrayed j 
something has just told me so." I felt as sure of it, 
as if the officers were there in sight. Sandy said, 
" Man, dat is strange ; but I feel just as you do." If 
my mother — then long in her grave — had appeared 
M 19 


before me, and told me tliat we were betrayed, I 
could not, at that moment, liave felt more certain of 

the fact. 

In a few minutes after this, the long, low and dis- 
tant notes of the horn summoned us from the field to 
breakfast. I felt as one may be supposed to feel be 
fore being led forth to be executed for some great of- 
fense. I wanted no breakfast ; but I went with the 
other slaves toward the house, for form's sake. My 
feelings were not disturbed as to the right of running 
away ; on that point I had no trouble, whatever. My 
anxiety arose from a sense of the consecpences of 

In thirty minutes after that vivid presentiment, 
came the apprehended crash. On reaching the house, 
for breakfast, and glancing my eye tov\'ard the lane 
gate, the worst was at once made known. The lane 
gate of Mr. Freeland's house, is nearly a half a mile 
from the door, and much shaded by the heavy wood 
which bordered the main road. I was, however, able 
to descry four white men, and two colored men, ap- 
proaching. The white men were on horseback, and 
the colored men were walking behind, and seemed to 
be tied. " It is all over with tcs,''^ thought I, " we are 
siorely hetrayecV I now became composed, or at 
least comparatively so, and calmly awaited the re- 
sult. I watched the ill-omened company, till I saw 
them enter the gate. Successful flight was impossi- 
ble, and I made up my mind to stand, and meet the 
evil, whatever it might be ; for I was now not with- 
out a slight hope that things might turn diiierently 
from what I at first expected. In a few moments, in 


came Mr. William Hamilton, riding very rapidly, 
and evidently mucii excited. He was in the habit 
of riding very slowly, and was seldom known to 
gallop his horse. This time, his horse was nearly at 
fidl speed, causing the dust to roll thick behind him. 
Mr. Hamilton, though one of the most resolute men 
in the whole neighborhood, was, nevertheless, a re- 
markably mild spoken man ; and, even when greatly 
excited, his language was cool and circumspect. He 
came to the door, and inquired if Mr. Freeland was 
in. I told him that Mr. Freeland was at the barni 
Off the old gentleman rode, toward the barn, with un- 
wonted speed. Mary, the cook, was at a loss to know 
what was the matter, and I did not profess any skill 
in making her understand. I knew she would have 
united, as readily as any one, in cursing me for brinf>-- 
ing trouble into the family ; so I held my peace, leav- 
ing matters to develop themselves, without my assist- 
ance. In a few moments, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. 
Freeland came down from the barn to the house ; and, 
just as they made their appearance in the front yard, 
three men (v/ho proved to be constables) came dash- 
ing into the lane, on horseback, as if summoned by a 
sign requiring quick work. A few seconds brought 
tliem into the front yard, where they hastily dismount- 
ed, and tied their horses. This done, they joined Mr, 
Freeland and Mr. Hamilton, who were standincj a 
short distance from the kitchen. A few moments 
were spent, as if in consulting how to proceed, and 
then the whole party walked up to the kitchen door. 
There vras now no one in the kitchen but myself and 
John Harris. Henry and Sandy were yet at the barn. 

292 LI^'^E AS A SLAVE. 

Mr. Freeland came inside the kitchen door, and with 
an agitated voice, called me by name, and told me to 
come forward ; that there were some gentlemen who 
wished to see me. I stepped toward them, at the 
door, and asked what they wanted, when the consta- 
bles grabbed me, and told me that I had better not 
resist ; that I had been in a scrape, or was said to have 
been in one ; that they were merely going to take me 
where I could be examined ; that they were going to 
carry me to St. Michael's, to have me brought before 
my master. They further said, that, in case the evi- 
dence against me was not true, I should be acquitted. 
I was now firmly tied, and completely at the mercy 
of mv captors. Resistance was idle. They were five 
in number, armed to the very teeth. AYlien they had 
secured me, they next turned to John Harris, and, in 
a few moments, succeeded in tying him as firmly as 
they had already tied me. They next turned toward 
Henry Harris, who had now returned from the barn. 
" Cross your hands," said the constables, to Henry. 
" I won't " said Henry, in a voice so firm and clear, 
and in a manner so determined, as for a moment to 
arrest all proceedings. " Won't you cross your hands ? " 
said Tom Graham, the constable. '' J^o I woiiH^^'^ 
said Henry, with increasing emphasis. Mr. Hamil- 
ton, Mr. Freeland, and the ofiicers, now came near to 
Henry. Two of the constables drew out their shi- 
ning pistols, and swore by the name of God, that he 
should cross his hands, or they would shoot him down. 
Each of these hired rufiians now cocked their pistols, 
and, with fingers apparently on the triggers, presen- 
ted their deadly weapons to the breast of the unarmed 


slave, saying, at the same time, if lie did not cross his 
hands, thej would " blow his d — d heart out of liim." 
" Shoot ! shoot me ! " said Henry. " You canH 
hill me hut once. Shoot ! — shoot ! and be d — d. / 
^DonH he tiecV This, the brave fellow said in a voice 
as defiant and heroic in its tone, as was the lano:uaG:e 
itself; and, at the moment of saying this, with the 
pistols at his very breast, he quickly raised his arms, 
and dashed them from the puny hands of his assassins, 
the weapons flying in opposite directions. Kow came 
the struggle. All hands now rushed upon the brave 
fellow, and, after beating him for some time, they 
succeeded in overpowering and tying him. Henry 
put me to shame ; he fought, and fought bravely. 
John and I had made no resistance. The fact is, I 
never see much use in fighting, unless there is a rea- 
sonable probability of whipping somebody. Yet 
there was something almost providential in the resist- 
ance made by the gallant Henry. But for that re- 
sistance, eveiy soul of us would have been hurried oflT 
to the far south. Just a moment previous to the 
trouble with Henry, Mr. Hamilton mildly said — and 
this gave me the unmistakable clue to the cause of 
our arrest — '' Perhaps we had now better make a 
search for those protections, which we understand 
Frederick has written for himself and the rest." Had 
these passes been found, they would have been point 
blank proof against us, and would have confirmed all 
the statements of our betrayer. Thanks to the resist- 
ance of Henry, the excitement produced by the 
scuffle drew all attention in that direction, and I suc- 
ceeded in flinging my pass, unobserved, into the fire. 


The confusion attendant upon the scuffle, and the ap- 
prehension of further trouble, perhaps, led our cap- 
tors to forego, for the present, any search for " those 
'protections'^'' vjhich Frederick icas said to have xoritten 
for his companions I so we were not yet convicted 
of the purpose to run away ; and it was evident that 
there was some doubt, on the part of all, whether we 
had been guilty of such a purpose. 

Just as we were all completely tied, and about 
ready to start toward St. Michael's, and thence to jail, 
Mrs. Betsey Freeland (mother to AVilliam, who was 
very much attached — after the southern fasliion — to 
Henry and Jolin,tliey having been reared from child- 
hood in her house) came to the kitchen door, Avith 
her hands full of biscuits, — for we had not had time 
to take our breakfast that morning — and divided them 
between Henry and John. This done, the lady made 
the following parting address to me, looking and 
pointing her bony finger at me. "You devil! you 
yellow devil! It was you tliat put it into the 
heads of Henry and John to run away. But for 
you^ you long legged yellow devil^ Henry and John 
would never have thought of running away." I gave 
the lady a look, which called forth a scream of 
mingled wrath and terror, as she slammed the 
kitchen door, and went in, leaving me, with the rest, 
in hands as harsh as her own broken voice. 

Could the kind reader have been quietly riding 
along the main road to or from Easton, that morning, 
his eye would have met a painful sight. He would 
have seen five young men, guilty of no crime, save 
that of preferring liherty to a life of hondage^ drawn 


along the public highway — firmly bound together — 
tramping through dust and heat, bare-footed and bare- 
Leaded — fastened to three strong horses, whose riders 
were armed to the teeth, with pistols and daggers — ■ 
on their way to prison, like felons, and suffering every 
possible insult from the crowds of idle, vulgar people, 
who clustered around, and heartlessly made their fail- 
ure the occasion for all manner of ribaldry and sport. 
As I looked upon this crowd of vile persons, and saw 
myself and friends thus assailed and persecuted, I could 
not help seeing the fulfillment of Sandy's dream. I 
was in the hands of moral vultures, and firmly held in 
their sharj) talons, and was being hurried away to- 
ward Easton, in a south-easterly direction, amid the 
jeers of new birds of the same feather, through every 
neighborhood we passed. It seemed to me, (and this 
shows the good understanding between the slavehold- 
ers and their allies,) that every body we met knew the 
cause of our arrest, and were out, awaiting our passing 
by, to feast their vindictive eyes on our misery and 
to gloat over our ruin. Some said, I ought to he hanged^ 
and others, / ought to he hurnt; others, I ought to 
have the " hide''' taken from my back ; while no one 
gave us a kind v^^ord or sympathizing look, except 
the poor slaves, who were lifting their heavy hoes, 
and who cautiously glanced at us through the post- 
and-rail fences, behind which they were at work. Our 
sufferings, that morning, can be more easily imagined 
than described. Our hopes were all blasted, at a 
blow. The cruel injustice, the victorious crime, and 
the helplessness of innocence, led me to ask, in my 
ignorance and weakness — '• Where now is the God 


of justice and mercy? and why have these wicked 
men the j^o^^^r thus to trample upon our rights, and 
to insult our feelings ? " And yet, in the next moment, 
came the consoling thought, " the day of the ojjjrres- 
sor will come at lastP Of one thing I could be glad — 
not one of my dear friends, upon whom I had brought 
this great calamity, either by word or look, reproached 
me for having led them into it. We were a band of 
brothers, and never dearer to each other than now. 
The thought which gave us the most pain, was the 
probable separation which would now take place, in 
case we were sold off to the far south, as we were likely 
to be. While the constables were looking forward, Hen- 
ry and I, being fastened together, could occasionally 
exchange a word, without being observed by the kid- 
nappers who had us in charge. " What shall I do 
with my pass?" said Henry. " Eat it w4th your bis- 
cuit," said I ; "it won't do to tear it up." We were 
now near St. Michael's. The direction concerning 
the passes was passed around, and executed. " Own 
nothing ! " said I. " Own nothing I " was passed 
around and enjoined, and assented to. Our coniidence 
in each other was unshaken ; and we were quite re- 
solved to succeed or fail together — as much after the 
calamity which had befallen us, as before. 

On reaching St. Michael's, we underwent a sort of 
examination at my master's store, and it was evident 
to my mind, that Master Thomas suspected the truth- 
fulness of the evidence upon which they had acted in 
arresting us ; and that he only affected, to some ex- 
tent, the positivenesswith which he asserted our guilt. 
There was nothing said by any of our company, which 


could, in any manner, prejudice onr cause ; and there 
was hoi3e, yet, that we should be able to return to our 
homes — if for nothing else, at least to find out the 
guilty man or woman who had betrayed us. 

To this end, we all denied that we had been guilty 
of intended flight. Master Thomas said that the evi- 
dence he had of our intention to run away, was strong 
enough to hang us, in a case of murder. " But," said 
I, " the cases are not equal. If murder were com- 
mitted, some one must have committed it — the thins* 
is done ! In our case, nothing has been done! We 
have not run away. Where is the evidence against 
us? We were quietly at our work." I talked thus, 
with unusual freedom, to bring out the evidence 
against us, for we all wanted, above all things, to know 
the guilty wretch who had betrayed us, that we might 
have something tangible upon which to pour our exe- 
crations. From something which dropped, in the 
course of the talk, it appeared that there was but one 
witness against us — and that that witness could not 
be produced. Master Thomas would not tell us who 
his informant was ; but we suspected, and suspected 
one person only. Several circumstances seemed to 
point Sandy out, as our betrayer. His entire know- 
ledge of our plans — his participation in them — his 
withdrawal from us — -his dream, and his simultaneous 
presentiment that we were betrayed — the taking us, 
and the leaving him — were calculated to turn suspi- 
cion toward him ; and yet, we could not suspect him. 
We all loved him too well to think \i possible that he 
could have betrayed us. So we rolled the guilt on 
other shoulders. 


We were literally dragged, that morning, behind 
horses, a distance of fifteen miles, and placed in the 
Easton jail. We were glad to reach the end of our 
journey, for our pathway had been the scene of in- 
sult and mortification. Such is the power of public 
opinion, that it is hard, even for the innocent, to feel 
the happy consolations of innocence, when they fall 
under the maledictions of this power. How could we 
regard ourselves as in the right, when all about us 
denounced us as criminals, and had the power and the 
disposition to treat us as such. 

In jail, we were placed under the care of Mr. Jo- 
seph Graham, the slieriif of the county. Henry, and 
John, and myself, were placed in one room, and Hen- 
ry Baily and Charles Roberts, in another, by them- 
selves. This separation was intended to deprive us 
of the advantage of concert, and to prevent trouble in 

Once shut up, a uew set of tormentors came upon 
us. A swarm of imps, in human shape — the slave- 
traders, deputy slave-traders, and agents of slave- 
traders — that gather in every country town of the 
state, watching for chances to buy human fiesli, (as 
buzzards to eat carrion,) flocked in upon us, to ascer- 
tain if our masters had placed us in jail to be sold. 
Such a set of debased and villainous creatures, I nev- 
er saw before, and hope never to see again. I felt 
myself surrounded as b}^ a pack of fiends^ fresh from 
perdition. They laughed, leered, and grinned at us ; 
saying, " Ah ! boys, we've got you, havn't we ? So 
you were about to make your escape? Where were 
you going to ?" After taunting us, and jeering at us, 


as long as tliej liked, they one by one subjected iis 
to an examination, with a view to ascertain our value; 
feelino; our arms and les^s, and shakino; us bv the 
shoulders to see if we were sorttid and healthy ; im- 
pudently asking us, " how we would like to have them 
for masters ? " To such questions, we were, very 
much to their annoyance, quite dumb, disdaining to 
answer them. For one, I detested the whisky-bloated, 
gamblers in human flesh ; and I believe I was as much 
detested by them in turn. One fellow^ told me, " if 
he had me, he would cut the devil out of me pretty 

These negro buyers are very offensive to the gen- 
teel southron christian public. They are looked upon, 
in respectable Maryland society, as necessary, but 
detestable characters. As a class, they are hardened 
rufiians, made such by nature and by occupation. 
Their ears are made quite familiar with the agonizing 
cry of outraged and woe-smitten humanity. Their eyes 
are forever open to human misery. They walk amid 
desecrated affections, insulted virtue, and blasted 
hopes. They have grown intimate with vice and 
blood ; they gloat over the wildest illustrations of 
their soul-damning and earth-polluting business, and 
are moral pests. Yes ; tliey are a legitimate fruit of 
slavery ; and it is a puzzle to make out a case of great- 
er vilhuny for them, tlian for the slaveholders, who 
make such a class possible. They are mere hucksters 
of the surplus slave produce of Maryland and Vir- 
ginia — coarse, cruel, and swaggering bullies, whose 
Tery breathing is of blasphemy and blood. 

Aside from these slave-buyers, who infested the 


prison, from time to time, our quarters were mnch 
more comfortable than we had any right to expect 
they would be. Our allowance of food was small and 
coarse, bnt onr room was the best in the jail — neat 
and spacious, and with nothing about it necessarily 
reminding us of being in prison, but its heavy locks 
and bolts and the black, iron lattice- work at the win- 
dows. "We were prisoners of state, compared with 
most slaves who are put into that Easton jail. But 
the place was not one of contentment. Bolts, bars 
and grated windows are not acceptable to freedom- 
loving people of any color. The suspense, too, was 
painful. Every step on the stairway was listened to, 
in the hope that the comer would cast a ray of light 
on our fate. We would have given the hair off our 
heads for half a dozen words with one of the waiters 
in Sol. Lowe's hotel. Such waiters were in the way 
of hearing, at the table, the probable course of things. 
We could see them flitting about in their white jack- 
ets, in front of this hotel, but could speak to none 
of them. 

Soon after the holidays were over, contrary to all 
our expectations, Messrs. Hamilton and Freeland came 
np to Easton ; not to make a bargain with the " Geor- 
gia traders," nor to send us up to Austin Woldfolk, 
as is usual in the case of run-away slaves, but to re- 
lease Charles, Henry Harris, Henry Baily and John 
Harris, from prison, and this, too, without the inflic- 
tion of a single blow. I was now left entirely alone 
in prison. The innocent had been taken, and the 
guilty left. My friends were separated from me, and 
apparently forever. This circumstance caused me 


more pain than any other incident connected with our 
capture and imprisonment. Thirty-nine lashes on my 
naked and bleeding back, would have been joyfully 
borne, in preference to this separation from these, the 
friends of my youth. And yet, I could not but feel 
that I was the victim of something like justice. Why 
should these young men, who were led into this scheme 
by me, sufi'er as much as the instigator ? I felt glad 
that they were released from prison, and from the 
dread prospect of a life (or death I should rather say) 
in the rice swamps. It is due to the noble Henry, to 
say, that he seemed almost as reluctant to leave the 
prison with me in it, as he w^as to be tied and dragged 
to prison. But he and the rest knew that we should, 
in all the likelihoods of the case, be separated, in the 
event of being sold ; and since- we were now complete- 
ly in the hands of our owners, we all concluded it 
would be best to go peaceably home. 

]N"ot until this last separation, dear reader, had I 
touched those profounder dejDths of desolation, which 
it is the lot of slaves often to reach. I was solitary 
in the world, and alone within the walls of a stone 
prison, left to a fate of life-long misery. I had hoped 
and expected much, for months before, but my hopes 
and exj)ectation3 were now withered and blasted. 
The ever dreaded slave life in Georgia, Louisiana and 
Alabama — from which escape is next to impossible — 
now, in my loneliness, stared me in the lace. The 
possibility of ever becoming anything but an abject 
slave, a mere machine in the hands of an owner, had 
now fled, and it seemed to me it had fled forever. A 
life of living death, beset with the innumerable 


horrors of the cotton field, and the siigiar plantation, 
seemed to be my doom. The fiends, who rushed into 
the prison when we were first pnt there, continued to 
yisit me, and to ply me with questions and with their 
tantalizing remarks. I was insulted, but helpless ; 
keenly alive to the demands of justice and liberty, 
but with no means of assertino- them. To talk to 
those imps about justice and mercy, would have been 
as absurd as to reason with bears and tigers. Lead 
and steel are the only arguments that they under- 

After remaining in this life of misery and despair 
about a week, which, by the w^ay, seemed a month, 
Master Thomas, very much to my surprise, and greatly 
to my relief, came to the prison, and took me out, for 
the purpose, as he said, of sending me to xYlabama, 
with a friend of his, who would emancipate me at the 
end of eight years. I w^as glad enough to get out of 
prison ; but I had no faith in the story that this friend 
of Capt. Auld would emancipate me, at the end of 
the time indicated. Besides, I never had heard of his 
having a friend in Alabama, and I took the announce- 
ment, simply as an easy and comfortable method of 
shipping me off to the far south. There was a little 
scandal, too, connected Avith the idea of one christian 
selling another to the Georgia traders, while it was 
deemed every way proper for them to sell to others. I 
thought this friend in Alabama was an invention, to 
meet this difficulty, for Master Thomas was quite jeal- 
ous of his christian reputation, however unconcerned 
he might be about his real christian character. In 
these remarks, however, it is possible that I do Mas- 


ter Thomas Aiild injustice. He certainly did not ex- 
haust his power upon me, in the case, but acted, upon 
the whole, very generously, considering the nature 
of my offense. He had the power and the proyoca- 
tion to send me, without reserye, into the yerj eyer- 
glades of Florida, beyond the remotest hope of eman- 
cipation ; and his refusal to exercise that power, must 
be set down to his credit. 

After lingering about St. Michael's a few c'ajs, and 
no friend from Alabama making his appearance, to 
take me there, Master Thomas decided to send 
me back again to Baltimore, to liye with his brother 
Hugh, with whom he was now at peace ; possibly he 
became so bj his profession of religion, at the camp- 
meeting in the Bay Side. Master Thomas told me 
that he wished me to go to Baltimore, and learn a 
trade ; and that, if I behayed myself properly, he 
would emayicij^ate me at twenty-Jive I Thanks for this 
one beam of hope in the future. The promise had 
but one fault ; it seemed too good to be true. 






TRIALS IN Gardiner's ship yard — desperate fight — its causes — con- 


TIONS slaveholders' right TO TAKE HIS WAGES HOW TO MAKE A 


Well ! dear reader, I am not, as you may have al- 
ready inferred, a loser by the general upstir, described 
in the foregoing chapter. The little domestic revolu- 
tion, notwithstanding the sudden snub it got by the 
treachery of somebody — I dare not say or think who — 
did not, after all, end so disastrously, as, when in the 
iron cage at Easton, I conceived it w^ould. The pros- 
pect, from that point, did look about as dark as any 
that ever cast its gloom over the vision of the anxious, 
out-looking, human spirit. " All is well that ends 
well." My affectionate comrades, Henry and John 
Harris, are still with Mr. AYilliam Freeland. Charles 
Hoberts and Henry Baily are safe at their homes. 
I have not, therefore, any thing to regret on their ac- 
count. Their masters have mercifully forgiven them, 
probably on the ground suggested in the spirited little 
speech of Mrs. Freeland, made to me just before leav- 


ing for the jail — namely : that they had been allured 
into the wicked scheme of making their escape, by 
me ; and that, but for me, they would never have 
dreamed of a thing so shocking ! My friends had 
nothing to regret, either ; for while they were watched 
more closely on account of what had happened, they 
were, doubtless, treated more kindly than before, and 
got new assurances that they would be legally eman- 
cipated, some day, provided their behavior should 
make them deserving, from that time forward. ITot 
a blow, as I learned, was struck any one of them. As 
for Master William Freeland, good, unsuspecting soul, 
he did not believe that we were intending to run 
away at all. Having given — as he thought — no oc- 
casion to his boys to leave him, he could not think 
it j)i'obable that they had entertained a design so 
grievous. This, however, was not the view taken of 
the matter by " Mas' Billy," as we used to call the 
soft spoken, but crafty and resolute Mr. "William 
Hamilton. He had no doubt that the crime had been 
meditated ; and regarding me as the instigator of it, 
he frankly told Master Thomas that he must remove 
me from that neighborhood, or he would shoot me 
down. He would not have one so dangerous as 
"Frederick" tampering with his slaves. William 
Hamilton was not a man whose threat might be safe- 
ly disregarded. I have no doubt that he would have 
proved as good as his word, had the warning given 
not been promptly taken. He w^as furious at the 
thought of such a piece of high-handed theft^ as we 
were about to perpetrate — the stealing of our own bo- 
dies and souls ! The feasibility of the plan, too, 



could the first steps Lave been taken, was marvelouslj 
plain. Besides, tins was a new idea, this use of the 
bay. Slaves escaping, until now, had taken to the 
woods; they had never dreamed of profaning and 
abusing the waters of the noble Chesapeake, by ma- 
kino* them the hio-hv/av from slavery to freedom. 
Here was a broad road of destruction to slavery, which, 
before, had been looked upon as a wall of security by 
slaveholders. But Master Billy could not get Mr. Free- 
land to see matters precisely as he did ; nor could he 
get Master Thomas so excited as he was himself. The 
latter — I must say it to his credit — showed much hu- 
mane feeling in his part of the transaction, and atoned 
for much that had been harsh, cruel and unreason- 
able in his former treatment of me and others. His 
clemency was quite unusual and unlooked for. " Cous- 
in Tom" told me that while I was in jail, Master 
Thomas was very unhappy ; and that the night before 
his going up to release me, he had walked the floor 
nearly all night, evincing great distress ; that very 
tempting oilers had been made to him, by the negro- 
traders, but he had rejected them all, saying that 
money could not tempt him to sell me to the far south. 
All this I can easily believe, for he seemed quite re- 
luctant to send me away, at all. He told me that he 
only consented to do so, because of the very strong 
prejudice against me in the neighborhood, and that he 
feared for my safety if I remained there. 

Thus, after three years spent in the country, rough- 
ing it in the field, and experiencing all sorts of hard- 
ships, I was again permitted to return to Baltimore, the 
very place, of all others, shorf; of a free state, where I 


most desired to live. Tlie three years spent in the coun- 
try, had made some ditierence in me, and in the house- 
hold of Master Hugh. ''Little Tommy " was no lon- 
ger little Tommy ; and I was not the slender lad who 
had left for the Eastern Shore just three years before. 
j2rhe lov^ing relations between me and Mas' Tommy 
were broken up. He was no longer dependent on me 
for protection, but felt himself a maw, with other and 
more suitable associates. In childhood, he scarcely 
considered me inferior to himself — certainly, as good as 
any other boy with whom he played ; but the time 
had come when \\\?, friend must become his slave. ^ So 
we vrere cold, and we parted. It was a sad thing to 
me, that, loving each other as we had done, we must 
now take different roads. To him, a thousand ave- 
nues were open. Education had made him acquainted 
wdth all the treasures of the w^orld, and liberty had 
flung open the gates thereunto ; but I, who had attend- 
ed him seven years, and had watched over him with 
the care of a big brother, fighting his battles in the 
street, and shielding him from harm, to an extent 
wdiich had induced his mother to say, " Oh ! Tommy 
is always safe, when he is with Freddy," must be con- 
fined to a single condition. '^le could grow, and be- 
come a istAX ; I could grow, though I could 7iot become 
a man, but must remain, all my life, a minor — a mere 
boy. y Thomas Auld, junior, obtained a situation on 
board the brig Tweed, and went to sea. I know not 
what has become of him ; he certainly has my good 
wishes for his welfare and prosperity. There were 
few persons to whom I was more sincerely attached 


than to Mm, and there are few in the world I would 
be more pleased to meet. 

Yery soon after I went to Baltimore to live, Master 
Hugh succeeded in getting me hired to Mr. William 
Gardiner, an extensive ship builder on Fell's Point. I 
was placed here to learn to calk, a trade of which I 
already had some knowledge, gained while in Mr. 
Hugh Auld's ship-yard, when he was a master build- 
er. Gardiner's, however, proved a very unfavorable 
place for the accomplishment of that object. Mr. 
Gardiner was, that season, engaged in building two 
large man-of-war vessels, professedly for the Mexican 
government. These vessels were to be launched in 
the month of July, of that year, and, in failure there- 
of, Mr. G. would forfeit a very considerable sum of 
money. So, when I entered the ship-yard, all was 
hurry and driving. There were in the yard about 
one hundred men ; of these about seventy or eighty 
were regular carpenters — privileged men. Speaking 
of my condition here, I wrote, years ago — and I have 
now no reason to vary the picture — as follows : 

" There was no thne to learn any thing. Every man had to 
do that which he knew how to do. In enterhig the ship-yardv, 
my orders from j\Ir. Gardiner were, to do whatever the car- 
penters commanded me to do. This was placing me at the 
beck and call of about seventy -five men. I was to regard all 
these as masters. Their word was to be my law. My 
situation w^as a most trying one. At times I needed a dozen 
pair of hands. I was called a dozen ways in the space of a 
single minute. Three or four voices would strike ray ear at 
the same moment. It was — ' Fred,, come help me to cant this 
timber here." — Fred., come carry this timber yonder.' — 


* Fred., bring that roller here.' — ' Fred., go get a fi*esh can of wa- 
ter.' — 'Fred., come help saw off the end of this timber.' — 'Fred., 
go quick and get the crowbar.' — 'Fred., hold on the end of this 
fall.' — 'Fred., go the blacksmith's shop, and get a new punch.' 
— 'Hurra, Fred.! run and bring me a cold chisel.' — 'I say, Fred., 
bear a hand, and get up a fire as quick as lightning under that 
steam-box.' — 'Halloo, nigger! come, turn this grindstone.' — 

* Come, come ! move, move ! and boivse this timber forward.' — 
' I say, darkey, blast your eyes, why don't you heat up some 
pitch 1 ' — ' Halloo ! halloo ! halloo ! ' (Three voices at the same 
time.) ' Come here ! — Go there ! — Hold on where you are ! 
D — n you, if you move, I'll knock your brains out ! " ' 

Such, dear reader, is a glance at the school which 
was mine, during the first eight months of my stay at 
Baltimore. At the end of eight months, Master Hugh 
refused lonsrer to allow me to remain with Mr. Gardi- 
ner. The circumstance which led to his taking me 
away, was a brutal outrage, committed upon me by 
the w^hite apprentices of the ship-yard. The fight 
was a desperate one, and I came out of it most shock- 
ingly mangled. I was cut and bruised in sundry 
places, and my left eye was nearly knocked out of its 
socket. The facts, leading to this barbarous outrage 
upon me, illustrate a phase of slavery destined to be- 
come an important element in the overthrow of the 
slave system, and I may, therefore state them with 
some minuteness. That phase is this : the conflict of 
slavery with the interests of the white mechanics and 
laborers of the south. In the country, this conflict is 
not so apparent ; but, in cities, such as Baltimore, 
Kichmond, E'ew Orleans, Mobile, &c., it is seen pretty 
clearly. The slaveholders, with a craftiness peculiar 



to themselves, by encouraging the enmity of the poor, 
laboring" white man against the blacks, succeeds in 
making the said white man almost as much a slave as 
the black slave himself. The difference between the 
white slave, and the black ^slave, is this: the latter 
belongs to 07ie slaveholder, and the former belongs to 
all the slaveholders, collectively. The white shive 
has taken from him, by indirection, what the black 
slave has taken from him, directly, and without cere- 
mony. Both are phindered, and by the same plun- 
derers. The slave is robbed, by his master, of all his 
earnings, above what is required for his bare physical 
necessities ; and the white man is robbed by the slave 
system, of the just results of his hibor, because he is 
flung into competition with a class of laborers who 
work without wages. The competition, and its inju- 
rious consequences, will, one day, array the non- 
slaveholding white people of the slave states, against 
the slave system, and make them the most effective 
workers against the great evil. At present, the slave- 
holders blind them to this competition, by keeping 
alive their prejudice against the slaves, as men — not 
against them as slaves. They appeal to their pride, 
often denouncing emancipation, as tending to place 
the white working man, on an equality with negroes, 
and, by this means, they succeed in drawing off the 
minds of the poor whites from the real fact, that, by 
the rich slave-master, they are alread}^ regarded as 
but a single remove from equality with the slave. 
The impression is cunningly made, that slavery is the 
only power that can prevent the laboring white man 
from falling to the level of the slave's poverty and 


clegrcidation. To make this enmity deep and broad, 
between the slave and the poor white man, the latter 
is allowed to abnse and wliip the former, without hin- 
derance. But — as I have suggested — this state of 
facts prevails mostly in the country. In the city of 
Baltimore, there are not nnfrequent murmurs, that 
educating the slaves to be mechanics may, in the end, 
give slave-masters power to dispense Ys\\\i the services 
of the poor white man altogether. But, with charac- 
teristic dread of offending the slaveholders, these poor, 
white mechanics in Mr. Gardiner's ship-j^ard — in- 
stead of applying the natural, honest remedy for the 
apprehended evil, and objecting at once to work there 
by the side of slaves — made a cowardl}^ attack upon the 
free colored mechanics, saying they were eating the 
bread which should be eaten by American freemen, 
and swearing that they would not work with them. 
The feeling was, really^ against having their labor 
brought into competition with that of the colored 
people at all ; but it was too much to strike directly 
at the interest of the slaveholders ; and, therefore — 
proving their servility and cowardice — they dealt 
their blows on the poor, colored freeman, and aimed 
to prevent him from serving himself, in the evening 
of life, with the trade with which he had served his 
master, during the more vigorous portion of his days. 
Had they succeeded in driving the black freemen out 
of the ship yard, they would have determined also 
upon the removal of the black slaves. The feeling 
was very bitter toward all colored people in Baltimore, 
about this time, (1836,) and they — free and slave — 
Buffered all manner of insult and wrong. 


Until a very little while before I went there, white 
and black ship carpenters worked side by side, in the 
ship yards of Mr. Gardiner, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Walter 
Price, and Mr. Kobb. Nobody seemed to see any 
impropriety in it. To outward seeming, all hands were 
well satisfied. Some of the blacks were first rate 
workmen, and were given jobs requiring the highest 
skill. All at once, however, the white carpenters 
knocked off, and swore that they wonld no longer 
work on the same stage with free negroes. Taking 
advantage of the heavy contract resting npon Mr. 
Gardiner, to have the war vessels for Mexico ready 
to launch in July, and of the difficulty of getting oth- 
er hands at that season of the year, they swore they 
would not strike another blow for him, unless he w^ould 
discharge his free colored workmen. 

Now, although this movement did not extend to 
me, in form, it did reach me, in fact. The spirit 
which it awakened was one of malice and bitterness, 
toward colored peo^^le generally^ and I sufiered with 
the rest, and suffered severely. My fellow apprenti- 
ces very soon began to feel it to be degrading to work 
with me. They began to j^ut on high looks, and to 
talk contemptuously and maliciously of " the niggers /" 
saying, that " they would take the country," that 
" they ought to be killed." Encouraged by the cow- 
ardly workmen, who, knowing me to be a slave, made 
no issue with Mr. Gardiner about my being there, 
these young men did their utmost to make it impossi- 
ble for me to stay. They seldom called me to do any 
thing, without coupling the call with a curse, and, 
Edward North, the biggest in every things rascality 


included, ventured to strike me, whereupon I picked 
him np, and threw liim into the dock. Whenever 
any of them struck me, I struck back again, regard- 
less of consequences. I could manage anv of them 
singly ; and, while I could keep them from combining. 
I succeeded very well. In the conflict which ended 
my stay at Mr. Gardiner's, I was beset by four of them 
at once — Xed Xorth, ]N'ed Hays, Bill Stewart, and 
Tom Humphreys. Two of them were as large as my- 
self, and they came near killing me, in broad day 
light. The attack was made suddenly, and simulta- 
neously. One came in front, armed with a brick ; 
there was one at each side, and one behind, and they 
closed up around me. I was struck on all sides ; and, 
while I was attending to those in front, I received a 
blow on my head, from behind, dealt with a heavy 
hand-spike. I was completely stunned by the blow, 
and fell, heavily, on the ground, among the timbers. 
Taking advantage of my fall, thej- rushed upon me, 
and began to pound me with their fists. I let them 
lay on, for a while, after I came to myself, with a 
view of gaining strength. They did me little dam- 
age, so far ; but, finally, getting tired of that sport, I 
gave a sudden surge, and, despite their weight, I rose 
to my hands and knees. Just as I did this, one of their 
number (I know not which) planted a blow with his 
boot in my left eye, which, for a time, seemed to have 
burst my eyeball. When they saw my eye completely 
closed, my face covered with blood, and I staggering 
under the stunning blows they had given me, they 
left me. As soon as I gathered sufficient strength, I 
picked up the hand-spike, and, madly enough, at- 


tempted to pursue tliem ; but here the carpenters in- 
terfered, and compelled me to give up my frenzied 
pursuit. It v,'as impossible to stand against so niaii3\ 
Dear reader, you can hardly believe the statement, 
but it is true, and, therefore, I write it down : not 
fewer than fifty white men stood by, and saw this 
brutal and shameless outrage committed, and not a 
man of them all interposed a single word of mercy. 
There were four against one, and that one's face was 
beaten and battered most horribly, and no one said, 
" that is enough ; " but some cried out, " kill him — 
kill him — kill the d — d nigger! knock his brains 
out — he struck a white person." I mention this in- 
human outcry, to show the character of the men, and 
the spirit of the times, at Gardiner's ship yard, and, 
indeed, in Baltimore generally, in 1836. As I look 
back to this period, I am almost amazed that I was 
not murdered outright, in that ship yard, so murder- 
ous was the spirit which prev^ailed there, di two 
occasions, v.hile tliere, I came near lo^illg my life. 
I was driving b(3lts in the hold, through the keelson, 
with Hays. In its course, ihe bolt bent. Hays cursed 
me, and said that it was my blow which bent the 
bolt. I denied this, and charged it upon him. In a 
tit of rage he seized an adze, and darted toward me. 
I met him with a maul, and parried his blow, or I 
sliouhl have then lost my life. A son of old Tom 
Lanman, (the latter's double murder I have elsewhere 
charged upon him,) in the spirit of his miserable fa- 
ther, made an assault upon me, but the blow v/ith his 
maul missed me. After the united assault of North, 
Stewart, Hays and Humphreys, finding that the car- 


penters were as bitter toward me as tlie apprentices, 
and that the latter were probablj set on by the for- 
mer, I found mj only chance for life was in flight. I 
succeeded in getting away, without an additional blow. 
To strike a white man, was death, by Lynch law, in 
Gardiner's ship yard ; nor vv^as there much of any 
other law toward colored people, at that time, in any 
other part of Maryland. The whole sentiment of Bal- 
timore was murderous. 

After making my escape from the ship yard, I went 
straight home, and related the story of tlie outrage to 
Master Hugh Auld ; and it is due to him to say, that 
his conduct — though he was not a religious man — was 
every way more humane tlian that of liis brother, 
Thomas, when I went to the latter in a somewhat 
similar plight, from the hands of " Brother Edward 
Covey P He listened attentively to my narration of 
the circumstances leading to the ruffianly outrage, and 
gave m^any proofs of his strong indignation at what 
was done. Hugh was a rough, but manly-hearted 
fellow, and, at this time, his best nature showed 

The heart of my once almost over-kind mistress, 
Sophia,, was again melted in pity toward me. My 
puffed-out eye, and m^y scarred and blood-covered 
face, moved the dear lady to tears. She kindly drew 
a chair by me, and with friendly, consoling words, 
she took water, and washed the blood from my face. 
Ko miOther's hand could have been more tender than 
hers. She bound up my head, and covered my 
wounded eye v/ith a lean piece of fresh beef. It was 
almost compensation for the murderous assault, and 


my suffering, that it furnislied an occasion for tlie 
manifestation, once more, of the originally character- 
istic kindness of my mistress. Her affectionate heart 
was not yet dead, though much hardened by time and 
by circumstances. 

As for Master Hugh's part, as I have said, he v^as 
furious about it ; and he gave expression to his fury 
in the usual forms of speech in that locality. He 
poured curses on the heads of the whole ship yard 
company, and swore that he would have satisfaction 
for the outrage. His indignation was really strong 
and healthy ; but, unfortunately, it resulted from the 
thought that his rights of property, in my person, had 
not been respected, more than from any sense of the 
outrage committed on me as a man. I inferred as 
much as this, from the fact that he could, himself, beat 
and mano^le when it suited him to do so. Bent on 
having satisfaction, as he said, just as soon as I got a 
little the better of my bruises, Master Hugh took me 
to Esquire Watson's office, on Bond street. Fell's 
Point, with a view to procuring the arrest of those 
who had assaulted me. He related the outrage to the 
magistrate, as I had related it to him, and seemed to 
expect that a warrant would, at once, be issued for 
the arrest of the lawless ruffians. 

Mr. Watson heard it all, and instead of drawing up 
his warrant, he inquired. — 

" Mr. Auld, who saw this assault of which you 
speak ? " 

" It was done, sir, in the presence of a ship yard 
full of hands." 

" Sir," said Watson, " I am sorry, but I cannot move 


in this matter except upon the oath of white wit- 


" But here's the boy ; look at his head and face," 
said the excited Master Hugh ; '' ttiey show what has 
been done." 

But Watson insisted that he was not authorized to 
do anything, unless white witnesses of the transaction 
would come forward, and testify to what had taken 
place. He could issue no warrant on my word, 
against white 23ersons ; and, if I had been killed in 
the presence of a thousand hlacks^ their testimony, 
combined, would have been insufficient to arrest a 
single murderer. Master Hugh, for once, was com- 
pelled to say, that this state of things was too had ; 
and he left the office of the magistrate, disgusted. 

Of course, it was impossible to get any white man 
to testify against my assailants. The carpenters saw 
what was done ; but the actors were but the agents 
of their malice, and did only what the carpenters 
sanctioned. They had cried, with one accord, ''Mil 
the nigger ! " kill the nigger ! " Even those who may 
have pitied me, if any such were among them, lacked 
the moral courage to come and volunteer their evi- 
dence. The slightest manifestation of sympathy or 
justice toward a person of color, was denounced as 
abolitionism ; and the name of abolitionist, subjected 
its bearer to frightful liabilities. " D — n aholitionists^'^ 
and " Kill the niggers^'' were the watch-words of the 
foul-mouthed ruffians of those days, l^othing was 
done, and probably there would not have been any 
thing done, had I been killed in the affray. The 
laws and the morals of the christian city of Balti- 


more, afforded no protection to the sable denizens of 
that city. 

Master Hugh, on finding he could get no redress 
for the cruel wrong, withdrew me from the employ- 
ment of Mr, Gardiner, and took me into his own fami- 
ly. Ml s. Anld kindly taking care of me, and dressing 
my wounds, until they were healed, and I was ready 
to go again to work. 

While I was on the Eastern Shore, Master Hup-h 
had met wiih reverses, which overthrew his business ; 
and he had given up ship building in his own yard, on 
tlie City Block, and was now acting as foreman of Mr. 
Walter Price. The best he could now do for me, was 
to take me into Mr. Price's yard, and afford me the 
facilities there, for completing the trade which I liad 
began to learn at Gardiner's. Here I raj^idly became 
expert in the use of my calking tools; and, in the 
course of a single year, I was able to command the 
highest wages paid to journeymen calkers in Bal- 

The reader v/ill observe that I was now of some 
pecuniary value to my master. During the busy 
season, I was bringing six and seven dollars per week. 
I have, sometimes, brought him as much as nine dol- 
lars a week, for the wages were a dollar and a half 
per day. 

After learning to calk, I sought my own employ- 
ment, made my own contracts, and collected my own 
earnings ; giving Master Hugh no trouble in any part 
of the transactions to which I was a party. 

Here, then, were better days for the Eastern Shore 
slave. I was now free from the vexatious assaults of 

author's condition impeoyes. 319 

the apprentices at Mr. Gardiner's ; and free from the 
perils of plantation life, and once more in a favorable 
condition to increase my little stock of education, 
which had been at a dead stand since my removal 
from Baltimore. I had, on the Eastern Shore, been 
only a teacher, when in company with other slaves, 
but now there were colored persons who could in- 
struct me. Many of the young calkers could read, 
write and cipher. Some of them had high notions 
about mental improvement ; and the free ones, on 
Fell's Point, organized what they called the " East 
Baltimore Mental ImjpTovement Society^ To this 
society, notwithstanding it was intended that only 
free persons should attach themselves, I was admit- 
ted, and was, several times, assigned a prominent 
part in its debates. I owe much to the society of 
these young men. 

The reader already knows enough of the ill effects 
of good treatment on a slave, to anticipate what was 
now the case in my improved condition. It was not 
long before I began to show signs of disquiet wit'i 
slavery, and to look around for means to get out of 
that condition by the shortest route. I was living 
among freemen / and was, in all respects, equal to 
them by nature and by attainments. Why should I 
he a slave f There was no reason why I should be the 
thrall of any man. 

Besides, I was now getting — as I have said — a 
dollar and fifty cents per day. I contracted for it, 
worked for it, earned it, collected it ; it was paid to 
me, and it was rightfully my own ; and yet, upon 
every returning Saturday night, this money — my 


own hard earnings, every cent of it — was demanded 
of me, and taken from me by Master Hngli. He did 
not earn it ; lie had no hand in earning it ; why, 
then, should he have it ? I owed him nothing. He 
had given me no schooling, and I had received from 
him only my food and raiment ; and for these, my 
services were supposed to pay, from the first. The 
right to take my earnings, was the right of the robber. 
He had the power to compel me to give him the 
fruits of my labor, and this power was his only right 
in the case. I became more and more dissatisfied 
with this state of things ; and, in so becoming, I only 
gave proof of the same human nature which every 
reader of this chapter in my life — slaveholder, or non- 
slaveholder — is conscious of possessing. 

To make a contented slave, you must make a 
thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral 
and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihi- 
late his power of reason. He must be able to detect 
no inconsistencies in slavery. The man that takes his 
earnings, must be able to convince him that he has a 
perfect right to do so. It must not depend upon mere 
force ; the slave must know no Higher Law than his 
master's will. The whole relationship must not only 
demonstrate, to his mind, its necessity, but its abso- 
lute rightfulness. If there be one crevice through 
which a single drop can fall, it will certainly rust off 
the slave's chain. 












I WILL novr make the kind reader acquainted with 
tlie closing incidents of my ^' Life as a Slave," having 
already trenched upon the limit allotted to my " Life 
as a Freemano" Before, however, proceeding with 
this narration, it is, perhaps, proper that I should 
frankly state, in advance, my intention to withhold a 
part of the facts connected with my escape from slave- 
ry. There are reasons for this suppression, which I 
trust the reader will deem altogether valid. It may 
be easily conceived, that a full and complete state- 
ment of all the facts pertaining to the flight of a bond- 
man, might implicate and embarrass some who may 
N* 21 


have, wittingly or unwittiiiglv, assisted him ; and no 
one can wish me to involve any man or woman who 
has befriended me, even in the liabilitv of embarrass- 
ment or trouble. 

Keen is the scentof the slaveholder ; like the fangs 
of the rattlesnake, his malice retains its poison long ; 
and, although it is now nearly seventeen years since 
I made my escape, it is well to be careful, in dealing 
with the circumstances relating to it. "Were I to give 
but a shadowy outline of the process adopted, with 
characteristic aptitude, the crafty and malicious 
among the slaveholders might, possibly, hit upon the 
track I pursued, and involve some one in suspicion, 
which, in a slave state, is about as bad as positive 
evidence. The colored man, there, must not only 
shun evil, but shun the very appearaiice of evil, or be 
condemned as a criminal. K. slaveholding commu- 
nity has a peculiar taste for ferreting out offenses 
against the slave system, justice there being more sen- 
sitive in its regard for the peculiar rights of this sys- 
tem, than for any other interest or institution. By 
stringing together a train of events and circumstances, 
even if I were not very explicit, the means of escape 
might be ascertained, and, jDOssibly, those means be 
rendered, thereafter, no longer available to the liber- 
ty-seeking children of bondage I have left behind me. 
Ko anti-slavery man can wish me to do anything fa- 
voring such results, and no slaveholding reader has 
any right to expect the impartment of such infor- 

While, therefore, it would afford me pleasure, and 
perhaps would materially add to the interest of my 


story, were I at liberty to gratify a curiosity which I 
know to exist in the minds of many, as to the manner 
of my escape, I must deprive myself of this pleasure, 
and the carious of the gratification, which such a state- 
ment of facts would afford. I would allow myself to 
sniFer under the greatest imputations that eyil minded 
men might suggest, rather than exculpate myself by 
an explanation, and thereby run the hazard of closing 
the slightest avenue by which a brother in suffering 
might clear himself of the chains and fetters of slavery. 

The practice of publishing every new invention by 
which a slave is known to have escaped from slavery, 
has neither wisdom nor necessity to sustain it. Had 
not Henry Box Brown and his friends attracted slave- 
holding attention to the manner of his escape, we 
might have had a thousand Box Broicns per annum. 
The singularly original plan adopted by William and 
Ellen Crafts, perished with the first using, because 
every slaveholder in the land was apprised of it. The 
salt loater slctve who hung in the guards of a steamer, 
being washed three days and three nights — like another 
Jonah — by the waves of the sea, has, by the publicity 
given to the circumstance, set a spy on the guards of 
every steamer departing from southern ports. 

I have never approved of the very public manner, 
in which some of our western friends have conducted 
what they call tlie " Under-ground Railroad^'' but 
which, I think, by their open declarations, has been 
made, most emphatically, the " Upper-gvoww^ Rail- 
road." Its stations are fiir better known to the slave- 
holders than to the slaves. I honor those good men 
and women for their noble daring, in willingly sub- 

324 LIFE AS A SLA^T^:. 

jecting themselves to persecution, by openly avow- 
ing their participation in the escape of slaves ; never- 
theless, the good resulting from such avowals, is of a 
very questionable character. It may kindle an en- 
thusiasm, very pleasant to inhale ; but that is of no 
practical benefit to themselves, nor to the slaves escap- 
ing. ^N'othino'is more evident, than that such disclo- 
sures are a positive evil to the slaves remaining, and 
seeking to escape. In publishing such accounts, the 
anti-slavery man addresses the slaveholder, not the 
slave 'j he stimulates the former to greater watch- 
fulness, and adds to his facilities for capturing his 
slave. We owe something to the slaves, south of Ma- 
son and Dixon's Hi e, as well as to those north of it; 
and, in discharging the duty of aiding the latter, on 
tlieir way to freedom, we should be careful to do no- 
thing which would be likely to hinder the former, in ma- 
king their escape from slavery. Such is my detesta- 
tion of slavery, that I would keep the merciless slave- 
holder profoundly ignorant of the means of flight adop- 
ted by the slave. He should be left to imagine him- 
self surrounded by myriads of invisible tormentors, 
ever ready to snatch, from his infernal grasp, his 
trembling prey. In pursuing his victim, let him be 
left to feel his way in the dark ; let shades of darkness, 
commensurate with his crime, shut every ray of light 
from his pathway ; and let him be made to feel, that, 
at every step he takes, with the hellish purpose of re- 
ducing a brother man to slavery, he is running the 
frightful risk of having his hot brains dashed out by 
an invisible hand. 
But, enough of this. I will now proceed to the 


statement of those facts, connected with my escape, 
for which I am alone responsible, and for which no 
one can be made to snffer bnt myself. 

My condition in the year (1838) of my escape, was, 
comparatively, a free and easy one, so far, at least, as 
the wants of the physical man were concerned ; but 
tlie reader will bear in mind, that my troubles from 
the beginning, have been less physical than mental, 
and he will thus be prepared to find, after what is nar- 
rated in the previous chapters, that slave life was add- 
ing nothing to its charms for me, as I grew older, 
and became better acquainted with it. The practice, 
from week to week, of openly robbing me of all my 
earnings, kept the nature and character of slavery con- 
stantly before me. I could be robbed by indirection., 
but this was too open and barefaced to be en- 
dured. I could see no reason why I should, at the 
end of each week, pour the reward of my honest toil 
into the purse of any man. The thought itself vexed 
me, and the manner in which Master Hugh received 
my wages, vexed me more than the original wiong. 
Carefully counting the money and rolling it out, dol- 
lar by dollar, he would look me in the face, as if 
he would search my heart as well as my pocket, and 
reproachfully ask me, ^'' Is that all f ^^ — implying that 
I had, perhaps, kept back part of my wages ; or, if 
not so, the demand was made, possibly, to make me 
feel, that, after all, I was an " unprofitable servant." 
Draining me of the last cent of my hard earnings, he 
would, however, occasionally — when I brought home 
an extra large sum — dole out to me a sixpence or a 
shilling, with a view, perhaps, of kindling up my grat- 


itude; but this practice had the opposite effect — it 
was an admission of my right to the whole sum. The 
fact, that he gave me any part of my wages, was proof 
that he suspected that I had a right to the ivhole of 
them. I always felt uncomfortable, after having re- 
ceived anything in this way, for I feared that the 
giving me a few cents, might, possibly, ease his con- 
science, and make him feel himself a pretty honorable 
robber, after all ! 

Held to a strict account, and kept under a close 
watch — the old suspicion of my running away not 
Laving been entirely removed — escape from slavery, 
even in Baltimore, was very difficult. The railroad 
from Baltimore to Philadelphia was under regulations 
so stringent, that even free colored travelers were al- 
most excluded. They must have free papers ; they 
must be measured and carefidly examined, before 
they were allowed to enter the cars ; they only w^ent 
in the day time, even when so examined. The steam- 
boats were under regulations equally stringent. All 
the great turnpikes, leading northward, were beset 
with kidnappers, a class of men who watched the 
newspapers for advertisements for runaway slaves, 
making their living by the accursed reward of slave 

My discontent grew upon me, and I was on the 
look-out for means of escape. With money, I could 
easil}" have managed the matter, and, therefore, I hit 
upon the plan of soliciting the privilege of hiring my 
time. It is quite common, in Baltimore, to allow 
slaves this privilege, and it is the practice, also, in 
New Orleans. A slave who is considered trust-wor- 


thy, can, bj paying liis master a definite sum regu- 
larly, at the end of each week, dispose of his time as 
he likes. It so happened that I was not in very good 
odor, and 1 was far from being a trust-worthy slave. 
Is^evertheless, I watched my opportunity when Mas- 
ter Thomas came to Baltimore, (for I was still his 
property, Hugh only acted as his agent,) in the spring 
of 1S3S, to purchase his spring supply of goods, and 
applied to him, directly, for the much-coveted privi- 
lege of hiring my time. This request Master Thomas 
unhesitatingly refused to grant ; and he charged me, 
with some sternness, with inventing this stratagem to 
make- my escape. He told me, " I could go nowhere 
but he could catch me; and, in the event of my run- 
ning away, I might be assured he should spare no 
pains in his efforts to recapture me. He recounted, 
with a good deal of eloquence, the many kind offices 
he had done me, and exhorted me to be contented 
and obedient. " Lay out no plans for the future," 
said he. " If you behave yourself properly, I will 
take care of you." ^ow, kind and considerate as 
this oifer was, it failed to soothe nie into repose. In 
spite of Master Thomas, and, I may say, in spite of 
myself, also, I continued to think, and worse still, to 
think almost exclusively about the injustice and wick- 
edness of slavery. Xo effort of mine or of his could 
silence this trouble-giving thought, or change my pur- 
pose to run away. 

About two months after applying to Master Thom- 
as for the privilege of hiring my time, I applied to 
Master Hugh fur the same liberty, supposing him 
to be unacquainted with the fact that I had made a 


similar application to Master Thomas, and liad been 
refused. My boldness in making this request, fairly 
astounded him at the first. He gazed at me in 
amazement. But I had many good reasons for press- 
ing the matter ; and, after listening to them awhile, 
he did not absolutely refuse, but told me he would 
think of it. Here, then, was a gleam of hope. Once 
master of my own time, I felt snre that I could make, 
over and above my obligation to him, a dollar or two 
every week. Some slaves have made enough, in this 
way, to j)urchase their freedom. It is a sharp spur to 
industry ; and some of the most enterprising colored 
men in Baltimore hire themselves in this way. Af- 
ter mature reflection — as I must suppose it was — ■ 
Master Hugh granted me the privilege in question, 
on the following terms : I was to be allowed all my 
time ; to make all bargains for work ; to find my own 
employment, and to collect my own wages ; and, in 
return for this liberty, I was required, or obliged, to 
pay him three dollars at the end of each week, and 
to board and clothe myself, and buy my own calking 
tools. A failure in any of these particulars would put 
an end to my privilege. This was a hard bargain. 
The wear and tear of clothing, the losing and break- 
ing of tools, and the expense of board, made it neces- 
sary for me to earn at least six dollars per week, to 
keep even with the world. All who are acquainted 
with calking, know how uncertain and irregular that 
employment is. It can be done to advantage only in 
dry weather, for it is useless to put wet oakum into a 
seam. Rain or shine, however, work or no work, at 
the end of each week the money must be forthcoming.. 


Master Hugh seemed to be very mucli pleased, for 
a time, witli this arrangement ; and well he might be, 
for it was decidedly in his favor. It relieved him of 
all anxiety concerning me. His money was sure. He 
had armed my love of liberty with a lash and a dri- 
ver, far more efficient than any I had before knovrn ; 
and, vrhile he derived all the benefits of slaveholdinoj 
l)y the arrangement, without its evils, I endured all 
the evils of being a slave, and yet suffered all the care 
and anxiety of a responsible freeman. " JSTeverthe- 
less," thought I, " it is a valuable privilege — another 
step in my career toward freedom." It v\^as some- 
thing even to be permitted to stagger under the dis- 
advantages of liberty, and I was determined to hold 
on to the newly gained footing, by all proper indus- 
try. I was ready to work by night as well as by day ; 
and being in the enjoyment of excellent health, I was 
able not only to meet my current expenses, but also 
to lay by a small sum at the end of each week. All 
went on thus, from the month of May till August ; 
then — for reasons which will become apparent as I pro- 
ceed — my much valued liberty was wrested from me. 

During the week previous to this (to me) calami- 
tous event, I had made arrangements with a few young 
friends, to accompany them, on Saturday night, to a 
camp-meeting, held about twelve miles from Balti- 
more. On the evening of our intended start for the 
camp-ground, something occurred in the ship yard 
where I was at w^ork, which detained me unusually 
late, and compelled me either to disappoint my young 
friends, or to neglect carrying my weekly dues to 
Master Hugh. Knowing that I had the money, and 


could band it to liim on another day, I decided to go 
to camp-meeting, and to pay him the three dollars, 
for the past week, on mj return. Once on the camp- 
ground, I was induced to remain one day longer than 
I had intended, when I left home. But, as soon as 
I returned, I went straight to his house on Fell street, 
to hand him his (my) money. Unhappily, the fatal 
mistake had been committed. I found him exceed- 
ingly angry. He exhibited all the signs of apprehen- 
sion and wrath, which a slaveholder may be surmised 
to exhibit on the supposed escape of a favorite slave. 
" You rascal ! I have a great mind to give you a se- 
vere whipping. How dare you go out of the city 
without lirst asking and obtaining my permission ? " 
*' Sir," said I, "I hired my time and paid you the 
price you asked for it. I did not know that it was 
any part of the bargain that I should ask you when 
or where I should go." 

" You did not know, you rascal ! You are bound to 
show yourself here every Saturday niglit." After re- 
flecting, a few moments, he became somewhat cooled 
down ; but, evidently greatly troubled, he said, 
"Now, you scoundrel! you have done for yourself ; 
you shall hire your time no longer. The next thing 
T shall hear of, will be your running away. Bring 
home your tools and your clothes, at once. I'll teacli 
you how to go off in this way." 

Thus ended my partial freedom. I could hire my 
time no longer ; and I obeyed my master's orders at 
once. The little taste of liberty which I had had — 
although as the reader will have seen, it was far from 
being unalloyed — by no means enhanced my content- 


ment with slavery. Punished thus by Master Hugh, 
it was now my turn to punish him. " Since," thought 
I, " you loill make a slave of me, I will await your 
orders in all things ; " and, instead of going to look 
for work on Monday morning, as I had formerly done, 
I remained at home during the entire week, without 
the performance of a single stroke of work. Saturday 
night came, and he called npon me, as usual, for my 
wages. I, of course, told him I had done no work, 
and had no wages. Here we were at the point of 
•comino: to blows. His wrath had been accumulating; 
during the whole week ; for he evidently saw that I 
was making no effort to get work, but was most ag- 
gravatingly awaiting his orders, in all things. As I 
look back to this behavior of mine, I scarcely know 
what possessed me, thus to trifle with those who had 
such unlimited power to bless or to blast me. Mas- 
ter Hugh raved and swore his determination to " get 
hold of 7?2^/" but, wisely for him^ and happily for 
me, his wrath only employed those very harmless, im- 
palpable missiles, which roll from a limber tongue. 
In my desperation, I had fully made up my mind to 
measure strength with Master Hugh, in case he should 
undertake to execute his threats. I am o-lad there 
was no necessitv for this : for resistance to him could 
not have ended so haj^pily for me, as it did in the case 
of Covey. He was not a man to be safely resisted 
by a slave ; and I freely own, that in my conduct to- 
ward him, in this instance, there was more folly than 
wisdom. Master Hugh closed his reproofs, by telling 
me that, hereafter, I need give myself no uneasiness 
about getting work ; that he " w^ould, himself, see to 


getting work for me, and enongli of it, at that." Tliis 
threat I confess had some terror in it ; and, on think- 
ing the matter over, during the Sunday, I resolved, 
not only to save him the trouble of getting me work, 
but that, upon the third day of September, I would 
attempt to make my escape from slavery. The re- 
fusal to allow me to hire my time, therefore, hastened 
the period of my flight. I had three weeks, now, in 
which to prepare for my journey. 

Once resolved, I felt a certain degree of repose, 
and on Monday, instead of waiting for Master Hugh 
to seek employment for me, I was up by break of day, 
and off to the ship yard of Mr. Butler, on the City 
Block, near the draw-bridge. I was a favorite with 
Mr. B., and, young as I was, I had served as his fore- 
man on the float stage, at calking. Of course, 
I easily obtained work, and, at the end of the 
week — which by the way was exceedingly fine — I 
brought Master Hugh nearly nine dollars. The ef- 
fect of this mark of returning good sense, on my part, 
was excellent. He was very much pleased ; he took 
the money, commended me, and told me I might 
have done the same thing the week before. It is a 
blessed thing that the tyrant may not always know 
the thoughts and purposes of his victim. Master 
Hugh little knew what my plans were. The going 
to camp-meeting without asking his permission — the 
insolent answers made to his reproaches — the sulky 
deportment the week after being deprived of the 
privilege of hiring my time — had awakened in him 
the suspicion that I might be cherishing disloyal pur- 
poses. My object, therefore, in working steadily, 


"u-as to remove suspicion, and in this I succeeded ad- 
mirably, lie probably thought I was never better 
satisfied with my condition, than at the very time I 
was planning my escape. The second week passed, 
and again I carried him my full week's wages — nine 
dollars I and so well pleased was he, that he gave 
me TWENTY-FH^E CENTS ! and " bade me make good use 
of it ! '' I told him I would, for one of the uses to 
which I meant to put it, was to pa}^ my fare on the 
under2:round railroad. 

Things without went on as usual ; but I was passing 
through the same internal excitement and anxiety 
which I had experienced two years and a half be- 
fore. The failure, in that instance, was not calculated 
to increase my confidence in the success of this, my 
second attempt ; and I knew that a second faihire 
could not leave me where my first did — I must either 
get to ihefai" norths or be sent to the/ar south. Be- 
sides the exercise of m.ind from this state of facts, I 
had the painful sensation of being about to sejDarate 
from a circle of honest and warm hearted friends, in 
Baltimore. The thought of such a separation, where 
the hope of ever meeting again is excluded, and where 
there can be no correspondence, is very painful. It 
is my opinion, that thousands would escape from 
slavery who now remain there, but for the strong 
cords of aflection tliat bind them to their families, rel- 
atives and friends. The daughter is hindered from 
escaping, by the love she bears her mother, and the 
father, by the love he bears his children ; and so, to the 
end of the chapter. I had no relations in Baltimore, 
and I saw no probability of ever living in the neigh- 


borliood of sisters and brothers ; but the thought of 
leaving my friends, was among the strongest obsta- 
cles to my running away. The last two da^^s of the 
week — Friday and Saturday — were spent mostly in 
collecting my things together, for my journey. Hav- 
ing worked four days that week, for my master, I 
handed him six dollars, on Saturday night. I seldom 
spent my Sundays at home ; and, for fear that some- 
thing might be discovered in my conduct, I kept up 
my custom, and absented myself all day. On Mon- 
day, the third day of September, 1838, in accordance 
with my resolution, I bade farewell to the city of Bal- 
timore, and to that slavery which had been my ab- 
horrence from childhood. 

How I got away — in what direction I traveled — 
whether by land or by water ; whether with or with- 
out assistance — must, for reasons already mentioned, 
remain unexplained. 

^ uv^v- 











Thkre is no necessity for any extended notice of 
the incidents of tliis part of my life. There is no- 
thing very striking or peculiar about my cai-eer as a 
freeman, when viewed apart from my life as a slave. 
The relation subsisting between my early experience 
and that which I am now about to narrate, is, per- 
haps, my best apology for adding another chapter to 
this book. 

Disappearing from the kind reader, in a flying 
cloud or balloon, (pardon the figure,) driven by the 


wind, and knowing not where I should land — whether 
in slavery or in freedom — it is proper that I sliould 
remove, at once, all anxiety, by frankly making 
known where I alighted. The flight was a bold and 
perilous one ; but here I am, in the great city of 
Kew York, safe and sound, without loss of blood or 
bone. In less than a week after leaving Baltimore, 
I was walking amid the hurrying throng, and gaziog 
upon the dazzling wonders of Broadway. The 
dreams of my childhood and the purposes of my 
manhood were now fulfilled. A free state around 
me, and a free earth under my feet ! What a mo- 
ment was this to me ! A whole year was pressed 
into a single day. A new world burst upon my agi- 
tated vision. I have often been asked, by kind 
friends to w^hom I have told my story, how I felt 
when first I found myself beyond the limits of sla- 
very ; and I must say here, as I have often said to 
them, there is scarcely anything about which I could 
not give a more satisfactory answer. It w^as a mo- 
ment of joyous excitement, which no words can de- 
scribe. In a letter to a friend, written soon after 
reaching Xew York, I said I felt as one might be sup- 
posed to feel, on escaping from a den of hungry lions. 
But, in a moment like that, sensations are too in- 
tense and too rapid for words. Anguish and grief, 
like darkness and rain, may be described, but joy 
and gladness, like the rainbow of promise, defy 
alike the pen and pencil. 

For ten or fifteen years I had been dragging a 
heavy chain, with a huge block attached to it, cum- 
bering my every motion. I had felt myself doomed 

:meet with a fugitive slate. 337 

to drag this cliain and this block through life. All 
efforts, before, to separate myself from the hateful en- 
cumbrance, had only seemed to rivet me the more 
firmly to it. Baffled and discouraged at times, I had 
asked myself the question. May not this, after all, be 
God's work ? May He not, for wise ends, have 
doomed me to this lot ? A contest had been o-oino^ 
on in my mind for years, between the clear conscious- 
ness of right and the plausible errors of superstition ; 
between the wisdom of manly courage, and the fool- 
ish weakness of timidity. The contest was now 
ended ; the chain was severed ; God and right stood 
vindicated. I was a fkeeman, and the voice of peace 
and joy thrilled my heart. 

Free and joyous, however, as I was, joy was not 
the only sensation I experienced. It was like the 
quick blaze, beautiful at the first, but which subsi- 
ding, leaves the building charred and desolate. I 
was soon taught that I was still in an enemy's land. 
A sense of loneliness and insecurity oppressed me 
sadly. I had been but a few hours in ]^ew York, 
before I was met in the streets by a fugitive slave, 
well known to me, and the information I got from 
him respecting Kew York, did nothing to lessen my 
apprehension of danger. The fugitive in question 
was " Allender's Jake," in Baltimore ; but, said he, 
I am " WiLLiA]vi Dixon," in Xew York ! I knew 
Jake well, and knew wlien Tolly Allender and Mr. 
Price (for the latter employed Master Hugh as his 
foreman, in his shipyard on Fell's Point) made an 
attempt to recapture Jake, and failed. Jake told me 
all about his circumstances, and how narrowly he 
O 22 


escaped being taken back to slavery ; that the city 
was now full of southerners, returning from the 
springs ; that the black people in ]^ew York were 
not to be trusted ; that there were hired men ou the 
lookout for fugitives from slavery, and who, for a 
few dollars, would betray me into the hands of the 
slave-catchers ; that I must trust no man with ni 
secret ; that I must not think of going either on the 
wharves to work, or to a boarding-house to board ; 
and, worse still, this same Jake told me it was not in 
his power to help me. He seemed, even while cau- 
tioning me, to be fearing lest, after all, I might be a 
party to a second attempt to recapture him. Under 
the inspiration of this thought, I must suppose it was, 
he gave signs of a wish to get rid of me, and soon 
left me — his whitewash brush in hand — as he said, 
for his work. He was soon lost to sight among the 
throng, and I was alone again, an easy prey to the 
kidnappers, if any should happen to be on my track. 
New York, seventeen years ago, was less a place 
of safety for a runaway slave than now, and all know 
how unsafe it now is, under the new fugitive slave 
bill. I was much troubled. I had very little money 
— enough to buy me a few loaves of bread, but not 
enough to pay board, outside a lumber yard. I saw 
the wisdom of keeping away from the ship yards, for 
if Master Hugh pursued me, he would naturally ex- 
pect to find me looking for work among the calker.-. 
For a time, every door seemed closed against mo. 
A sense of my loneliness and helplessness crept oroi 
me, and covered me with something bordering on 
despair. In the midst of thousands of my fello^v- 


men, and yet a perfect stranger ! In the midst of 
human brothers, and yet more fearful of them than 
of hungry wolves ! I was without home, without 
friends, without work, without money, and without 
any definite knowledge of vrhich way to go, or where 
to look for succor. 

Some apology can easily be made for the few 
slaves who have, after making good their escape, 
turned back to slavery, preferring the actual rule of 
their masters, to the life of loneliness, apprehension, 
hunger, and anxiety, which meets them on their first 
arrival in a free state. It is diflicult for a freeman 
to enter into the feelings of such fugitives. He can- 
not see things in the same light with the slave, be- 
cause he does not, and cannot, look from the same 
point from which the slave does. "Why do you 
tremble," he says to the slave — " you are in a free 
state ; " but the difficulty is, in realizing that he is in 
a free state, the slave might reply. A freeman can- 
not understand why the slave-master's shadow is 
bigger, to the slave, than the might and majesty of 
a free state ; but when he reflects that the slave 
knows more about the slavery of his master than he 
does of the might and majesty of the free state, he 
has the explanation. The slave has been all his life 
learning the power of his master — being trained to 
dread his approach — and only a few hours learning 
the power of the state. The master is to him a stern 
and flinty reality, but the state is little more than a 
dream. He has been accustomed to regard every 
white man as the friend of his master, and everv col- 
ored man as more or less under the control of his 


master's friends — the white people. It takes stout 
nerves to stand up, in such circumstances. A man, 
homeless, shelterless, breadless, friendless, and mon- 
eyless, is not in a condition to assume a very proud 
or joyous tone ; and in just this condition was I, 
while wandering about the streets of Isew York city 
and lodging, at least one night, among the barrels on 
one of its wharves. I was not only free from sla- 
very, but I was free from home, as welL The reader 
will easily see that I had something more than the 
simple fact of being free to think of, in this ex- 

I kept my secret as long as I could, and at last was 
forced to go in search of an honest man — a man suf- 
ficiently human not to betray me into the hands of 
slave-catchers. I was not a bad reader of the human 
face, nor long in selecting the right man, when once 
compelled to disclose the facts of my condition to 
some one. 

I found my man in the person of one who said his 
name was Stewart. He was a sailor, warm-hearted 
and generous, and he listened to my story with a 
brother's interest. I told him I was running for my 
freedom — knew not where to go — money almost gone 
—was hungry — thought it unsafe to go the shipyards 
for work, and needed a friend. Stewart promptly 
put me in the way of getting out of my trouble. He 
took me to his house, and went in search of the late 
David Ruggles, who was then the secretary of the 
New York Vigilance Committee, and a very active 
man in all anti-slavery works. Once in the hands 
of Mr. Ruggles, I was comparatively safe. I was 


hidden with Mr. Rnggles several days. In the mean- 
time, my intended wife, Anna, came on from Balti- 
more — to whom I had written, informing her of my 
safe arrival at Xew York — and, in the presence of 
Mrs. Mitchell and Mr. Rugglcs, we were married, by 
Kev. James W. C. Pennington. 

Mr. Ruggles - was the first officer on the nnder- 
prround railroad with whom I met after reachino^ the 
north, and, indeed, the first of whom I ever heard 
anything. Learning that I was a calker by trade, 
he promptly decided that JSTew Bedford was the 
proper place to send me. " Many ships," said he, 
" are there fitted out for the whaling business, and 
you may there find work at your trade, and make a 
good living." Thus, in one fortnight after my flight 
from Maryland, I was safe in Isew Bedford, regu- 
larly entered upon the exercise of the rights, respon- 
sibilities, and duties of a freeman. 

I may mention a little circumstance which an- 
noyed me on reaching I^ew Bedford. I had not a cent 
of money, and lacked two dollars toward paying our 
fare from i^ewport, and our baggage — not very costly 

*He "was a whole-souled man, fully imbued with a love of his af- 
flicted and hunted people, and took pleasure in being to me, as was 
his wont, "E^^es to the blind, and legs to the lame." This brave 
and devoted man suffered much from the persecutions common to 
all who have been prominent benefactors. He at last became blind, 
and needed a friend to guide him, even as he had been a guide to 
others. Even in his blindness, he exhibited his manly cliaracter. 
In search of health, he became apliysician. When hope of gaining 
his own was gone, he had hope for others. Believing in hydro- 
pathy, he established, at IN^orthampton, Massachusetts, a large 
^^ Water Cure" and became one of the most successful of all eft» 
gaged in. that mode of treatment. 


— was taken by the stage driver, and held nntil I 
could raise the money to redeem it. This difficiiltj 
was soon surmounted. Mr. JSTathan Johnson, to 
whom we had a line from Mr. Ruggles, not only re- 
ceived us kindly and hospitably, but, on being in- 
formed about our baggage, promptly loaned me two 
dollars with which to redeem my little property. 1 
shall ever be deeply grateful, both to Mr. and Mrs. 
Nathan Johnson, for the lively interest they Avere 
pleased to take in me, in this the hour of my ex- 
tremest need. They not only gave myself and wife 
bread and shelter, but taught us how to begin to se- 
cure those benefits for ourselves. Long may they 
live, and may blessings attend them in this life and 
in that which is to come ! 

Once initiated into the new life of freedom, and 
assured by Mr. Johnson that ]^ew Bedford was a 
safe place, the comparatively unimportant matter, as 
to what should be my name, came up for considera- 
tion. It was necessary to have a name in my new 
relations. The name given me by my beloved 
mother was no less pretentious than ''Frederick Au- 
gustus Washington Bailey." I had, however, before 
leaving Maryland, dispensed with the Augustus 
Washington^ and retained the name Frederick Bai- 
ley. Between Baltimore and JSTew Bedford, however, 
I had several different names, the better to avoid be- 
ing overhauled by the hunters, which I had good 
reason to believe would be put on my track. Among 
honest men an honest man may well be content with 
one name, and to acknowledge it at all times and in 
all places ; but toward fugitives, Americans are not 


honest. "\Yhen I arrived at ^STew Bedford, my name 
was Jolinson; and finding that the Johnson family 
in E"ew Bedford were ah^eady quite numerous — suf- 
ficiently so to produce some confusion in attempts to 
distinguish one from another — there was the more 
reason for making another change in my name. In 
fact, " Johnson" bad been assumed by nearly every 
slave who had arrived in ]^ew Bedford from Mary- 
land, and this, much to the annoyance of the original 
" Johnsons " (of whom there were many) in that 
place. Mine host, unwilling to have another of his 
own name added to the community in this unauthor- 
ized way, after I spent a night and a day at his house, 
gave me my present name. He had been reading 
tlie " Lady of the Lake," and was pleased to regard 
me as a suitable person to wea,r this, one of Scotland's 
many famous names. Considering the noble hospi- 
tality and manly character of l^athau Johnson, I have 
felt that he, better than I, illustrated the virtues of 
the great Scottish chief. Sure I am, that had any 
slave-catcher entered his domicile, with a view to 
molest any one of his household, he would have 
shown himself like him of the " stalwart hand." 

The reader will be amused at ni}^ ignorance, when 
I tell the notions I had of the state of northern wealth, 
enterprise, and civilization. Of wealth and refine- 
ment, I supposed the north had none. My Colum- 
bian Orator, which was almost my only book, had 
not done much to enlighten me concerning northern 
society. Tlie impressions I had received were all 
wide of the truth. New Bedford, especially, took 
me by surprise, in the solid wealth and grandeur there 


exhibited. I had formed my notions respecting the 
social condition of the free states, by what I liad seen 
and known of free,- white, non-slaveholding people in 
the slave states. Regarding slavery as the basis of 
wealth, I fancied that no people could become very 
wealthy without slavery. A free white man, hold- 
ing no slaves, in the country, I had known to be the 
most ignorant and poverty-stricken of men, and the 
laughing stock even of slaves themselves — called gen- 
erally by them, in derision, '-^ ]}oor vjhite trash.^^ 
Like the non-slaveholders at the south, in holding no 
slaves, I supposed the northern people like them, also, 
in poverty and degradation. Judge, then, of my 
amazement and joy, when I found — as I did find — the 
very laboring population of ISTew Bedford living in 
better houses, more elegantly furnished — surrounded 
by more comfort and refinement — than a majority of 
the slaveholders on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. 
There was my friend, Mr. Johnson, himself a colored 
man, (who at the south would have been regarded as 
a proper marketable commodity,) who lived in a bet- 
ter house — dined at a richer board — was the owner 
of more books — the reader of more newspapers — was 
more conversant with the political and social condi- 
tion of this nation and the world — than nine-tenths 
of all the slaveholders of Talbot county, Maryland. 
Yet Mr. Johnson w^as a working man, and his hands 
were hardened by honest toil. Here, then, was 
something for observation and study. Whence the 
difierence ? The explanation was soon furnished, in 
the superiority of mind over simple brute force. 
Many pages might be given to the contrast, and in 


explanation of its causes. But an incident or two 
will suffice to show the reader as to how the mystery 
gradually vanished before me. 

My first afternoon, on reaching ^ew Bedford, was 
spent in visiting the Vvdiarves and viewing the ship- 
ping. The sight of the broad brim and the plain, 
Quaker dress, which met me at every turn, greatly 
increased my sense of freedom and security. " I am 
among the Quakers," thought I, " and am safe." 
Lying at the wharves and riding in the stream, were 
full-rigged ships of finest model, ready to start on 
whaling voyages. Upon the right and the left, I was 
walled in by large granite -fronted warehouses, crowd- 
ed with the good things of this world. On the 
wharves, I saw industry without bustle, labor with- 
out noise, and heavy toil without the whip. There 
was no loud singing, as in southern ports, where 
ships are loading or unloading — ^no loud cursing or 
swearing — but everything went on as smoothly as the 
works of a well adjusted machine. How different 
was all this from the noisily fierce and clumsily ab- 
surd manner of labor-life in Baltimore and St. Mi- 
chael's ! One of the first incidents which illustrated 
the superior mental character of northern labor over 
that of the south, was the manner of unloading a 
ship's cargo of oil. In a southern port, twenty or 
tliirty hands would have been employed to do what 
five or six did here, with the aid of a single ox at- 
tached to the end of a fall. Main strength, unas- 
sisted by skill, is slavery's method of labor. An old 
ox, worth eighty dollars, vras doing, in I^ew Bedf:yrd, 
what would have required fifteen thousand dollars 


worth of liiiman bones and muscles to have performed 
in a southern port. I found that everything was 
done here with a scrupulous regard to economy, both 
in regard to men and things, time and strength. The 
maid servant, instead of spending at least a tenth 
part of her time in bringing and carrying water, as 
in Baltimore, had the pump at her elbow. The wood 
was dry, and snugly piled away for winter. Wood- 
houses, in-door pumps, sinks, drains, self-shutting 
gates, washing machines, pounding barrels, were all 
new things, and told me that I was among a thought- 
ful and sensible people. To the ship-repairing dock 
I went, and saw the same wise prudence. The car- 
penters struck where they aimed, and the calkers 
wasted no blows in idle flourishes of the mallet. I 
learned that men went from ISTew Bedford to Balti- 
more, and bought old ships, and brought them here 
to repair, and made them better and more valuable 
than they ever were before. Men talked here of go- 
ing whaling on a four years' voyage with more cool- 
ness than sailors where I came from talked of going 
a four 'months' voyage. 

I now find that I could have landed in no part of 
the United States, where I should have found a more 
striking and gratifying contrast to the condition of the 
free people of color in Baltimore, than I found here 
in Xew Bedford. Ko colored man is really free in 
a slaveholding state. He wears the badge of bond- 
age while nominally free, and is often subjected to 
hardships to which the slave is a stranger ; but liere 
in New Bedford, it was my good fortune to see a 
pretty near approach to freedom on the part of the 


colored people. I was taken all aback when Mr. 
Johnson — who lost no time in making me acquainted 
with the fact — told me that there was nothing in the 
constitution of Massachusetts to prevent a colored 
man from holding anj office in the state. There, in 
Xew Bedford, the black man's children — although 
anti-slaverj was then far from popular — went to 
school side by side with the white children, and ap- 
parently without objection from any cpiarter. To 
make me at home, Mr. Johnson assured me that no 
slaveholder could take a slave from Xew Bedford ; 
that there were men there who would lay down their 
lives, before such an outrage could be perpetrated. 
The colored people themselves were of the best metal, 
and would fight for liberty to the death. 

Soon after my arrival in New Bedford, I was told 
the following story, which was said to illustrate the 
spirit of the colored peoj^le in that goodly town : A 
colored man and a fugitive slave happened to have a 
little quarrel, and the former was heard to threaten 
the latter with informing his master of his wherea- 
bouts. As soon as this threat became known, a no- 
tice was read from the desk of what was then the 
only colored church in the place, stating that business 
of importance was to be then and there transacted. 
Special measures had been taken to secure the attend- 
ance of the would-be Judas, and had proved success- 
ful. Accordingly, at the hour appointed, the people 
came, and the betrayer also. All the usual formali- 
ties of public meetings were scrupulously gone 
through, even to the ofi'ering prayer for Divine direc- 
tion in the duties of the occasion. The president 


himself performed this part of the ceremony, and I was 
told that he was unusually fervent. Yet, at the close 
of his prayer, the old man (one of the numerous fam- 
ily of Johnsons) rose from his knees, deliberately sur- 
veyed his audience, and then said, in a tone of sol- 
emn resolution, " Well, friends, we have got him here, 
and I vjould noio recommend that you young ^nen 
should just talce him outside the door and kill himP 
With this, a large body of the congregation, who 
well understood the business they had come there to 
transact, made a rush at the villain, and doubtless 
would have killed him, had he not availed himself 
of an open sash, and made good his escape. He has 
never shown his head in j^ew Bedford since that 
time. This little incident is perfectly characteristic 
of the spirit of the colored people in xs"ew Bedford. 
A slave could not be taken from that town seventeen 
years ago, any more than he could be so taken away 
now. The reason is, that the colored people in that 
city are educated up to the point of fighting for their 
fi'eedom, as well as speaking for it. 

Once assured of my safety in I^ew Bedford, I j^ut 
on the habiliments of a common laborer, and went 
on the wharf in search of work. I had no notion of 
living on the honest and generous sympathy of my 
colored brother, Johnson, or that of the abolitionists. 
My cry was like that of Hood's laborer, " Oh ! only 
give me work." Happily for me, I was not long in 
searching. I found employment, the third day after 
my arrival in Xew Bedford, in stowing a sloop with 
a load of oil for the New York market. It was new, 
hard, and dirty work, even for a calker, but I went 


at it with a glad heart and a willing hand. I was 
now my own master — a tremendous fact — and the 
rapturous excitement with which I seized the job, 
may not easily be understood, except by some one 
with an experience something like mine. The 
thoughts — "I can work ! I can work for a living ; 
I am not afraid of work ; I have no Master Huo;h to 
rob me of my earnings" — placed me in a state of 
independence, beyond seeking friendship or support 
of any man. That day's work I considered the real 
starting point of something like a new existence. 
Having finished this job and got my pay for the 
same, I went next in pursuit of a job at calking. It 
60 happened that Mr. Rodney French, late mayor of 
the city of i^ew Bedford, had a ship fitting out for 
sea, and to which there was a large job of calking 
and coppering to be done. I applied to that noble- 
hearted man for employment, and he promptly told me 
to go to work ; but going on the float-stage for the 
purpose, I was informed that every white man would 
leave the ship if I struck a blow upon her. " Well, 
well," thought I, " this is a hardship, but yet not a 
very serious one for me." The difi'erence between 
the wages of a calker and that of a common day la- 
borer, was an hundred per cent, in favor of the 
former ; but then I was free, and free to work, though 
not at my trade. I now prepared myself to do any- 
thing which came to hand in the way of turning an 
honest penny ; sawed wood — dug cellars — shoveled 
coal — swept chimneys with Uncle Lucas Debuty — 
rolled oil casks on the wharves — helped to load and 
unload vessels — worked in Kicketson's candle works 


— in Kiclimoncrs brass founderj, and elsewhere ; and 
thus supported myself and family for three years. 

The first winter was unusually severe, in conse- 
quence of the high prices of food; but even during 
that winter we probably suffered less than many 
who had been free all their lives. During the hard- 
est of the winter, I hired out for nine dollars a month ; 
and out of this rented two rooms for nine doHars per 
quarter, and supplied my wife — who v/as unable to 
work — with food and some necessary articles of fur- 
nitm-e. We were closely pinched to bring our wants 
within our means; but the jail stood over the way, 
and I had a wholesome dread of the consequences of 
running in debt. This winter past, and I was up 
with the times — got plenty of work — got well paid 
for it — and felt that I had not done a foolish thing to 
leave Master Iluo'h and Master Thomas. I was now 
living in a new world, and was wide awake to its ad- 
vantages. I early began to attend the meetings of 
the colored people of New Bedford, and to take part 
in them. I was somewhat amazed to see colored 
men drawing up resolutions and offering them for 
consideration. Several colored young men of New 
Bedford, at that period, gave promise of great useful- 
ness. They were educated, and ]30ssessed what 
seemed to me, at that time, very superior talents. 
Some of them have been cut down by death, and 
others have removed to different parts of the world, 
and some remain there now, and justify, in their 
present activities, my e^irly impressions of tliem. 

Among my first concerns on reaching New Bed- 
ford, was to become united with the church, for I had 


never given up, in reality, my religious faith. I bad 
become lukewarm and in a backslidden state, but I 
was still convinced that it was my duty to join the 
Methodist church. I was not then aware of the pow- 
erful influence of that religions body in favor of the 
enslavement of my race, nor did I see how the north- 
ern churches could be responsible for the conduct of 
southern churches ; neither did I fully understand 
how it could be my duty to remain separate from the 
church, because bad men were connected with it. 
The slaveholding church, with its Coveys, Weedens, 
Aulds, and Hopkins, I could see through at once, 
but I could not see how Elm Street church, in Isew 
Bedford, could be regarded as sanctioning the Chris- 
tianity of these characters in the church at St. Mi- 
chael's. I therefore resolved to join the Methodist 
church in Xew Bedford, and to eujoy the spiritual 
advantage of public worship. The minister of the 
Elm Street Methodist church, was the Bev. Mr. Bon- 
ney ; and although I was not allowed a seat in the 
body of the house, and was proscribed on account of 
my color, regarding this proscrij^tion simply as an 
accommodation of the unconverted congregation who 
had not yet been won to Christ and his brotherhood, 
I w^as willing thus to be proscribed, lest sinners 
should be driven away from the saving power of the 
gospel. Once converted, I thought they would be 
sure to treat me as a man and a brother. " Surely," 
thought I, " these christian people have none of this 
feeling against color. They, at least, have renounced 
this unholy feeliag." Judge, then, dear reader, of 
my astonishment and mortilication, vrhen I found, as 


soon I did find, all my charitable assumptions at 

An opportunity was soon aflbrded me for ascer- 
taining the exact position of Elm Street church on 
that subject. I had a chance of seeing the religious 
part of the congregation by themselves ; and al- 
though they disowned, in effect, their black brothers 
and sisters, before the world, I did think that where 
none but the saints were assembled, and no offense 
could be given to the wicked, and the gospel could 
not be '' blamed," they would certainly recognize us 
as children of the same Father, and heirs of the same 
salvation, on equal terms with themselves. 

The occasion to which I refer, was the sacrament 
of the Lord's Supper, that most sacred and most sol- 
emn of all the ordinances of the christian church. 
Mr. Bonney had preached a very solemn and search- 
ing discourse, which really proved him to be ac- 
quainted with the inmost secrets of the human heart. 
At the close of his discourse, the congregation was 
dismissed, and the church remained to partake of the 
sacrament. I remained to see, as I thought, this 
holy sacrament celebrated in the spirit of its great 

There were only about a half dozen colored mem 
bers attached to the Elm Street church, at this time. 
After the congregation was dismissed, these de- 
scended from the gallery, and took a seat against the 
wall most distant from the altar. Brother Bonney 
was very animated, and sung very sweetly, " Salva- 
tion 'tis a joyful sound," and soon began to adminis- 
ter the sacrament. I was anxious to observe the 


bearing of the colored members, and the result was 
most humiliating. During the whole ceremony, they 
looked like sheep without a shepherd. The white 
members went forward to the altar by the bench full ; 
and when it was evident that all the whites had been 
served with the bread and wine, Brother Bonney — 
pious Brother Bonney — after a long pause, as if in- 
quiring whether all the white members had been 
served, and fully assuring himself on that important 
point, then raised his voice to an unnatural pitch, 
and looking to the corner where his black sheep 
seemed penned, beckoned with his hand, exclaiming, 
" Come forward, colored friends ! — come forward ! 
You, too, have an interest in the blood of Christ. 
God is no resj)ecter of persons. Come forward, and 
take this holy sacrament to your comfort." The col- 
ored members — poor, slavish souls — vvent forward, as 
invited. I went oiit^ and have never been in that 
church since, althouo'h I honestlv went there with a 
view to joining that body. I found it impossible to 
respect the religious profession of any who were un- 
der the dominion of this wicked prejudice, and I 
could not, therefore, feel that in joining them, I was 
joining a christian church, at all. I tried other 
churches in JSTew Bedford, with the same result, and, 
finally, I attached myself to a small body of colored 
Methodists, known as the Zion Methodists. Favored 
with the affection and confidence of the members of 
this humble communion, I was soon made a class- 
leader and a local preacher among them. Many 
seasons of peace and joy I experienced among them, 
the remembrance of which is still precious, although 



I could not see it to be my duty to remain with that 
body, wlien I found that it consented to the same 
spirit which liekl my brethren in chains. 

In four or fiye months after reachino-lN'ew Bedford, 
there came a young man to me, with a copy of the 
" Liberator," the paper edited by William Lloyd Gar- 
KisoN, and published by Isaac Knafp, and asked me 
to subscribe for it. I told him I had but just escaped 
from slayery, and was of course very poor, and re- 
marked further, that I was unable to pay for it then ; 
the agent, however, very willingly took me as a sub- 
scriber, and appeared to be much pleased with secu- 
ring my name to his list. From this time I was 
brought in contact with the mind of William Lloyd 
Garrison. His paper took its place with me next to 
the bible. 

The Liberator was a paper after my own heart. 
It detested slavery — exposed hypocrisy and wicked- 
ness in high places — made no truce Avith the traf- 
fickers in the bodies and souls of men ; it preached hu- 
man brotherhood, denounced oppression, and, with 
all the solemnity of God's word, demanded the com- 
plete emancipation of my race. I not only liked — I 
loved this paper, and its editor. He seemed a match 
for all the opponents of emancipation, whether they 
spoke in the name of the law, or the gospel. His 
words were few, full of holy fire, and straight to the 
point. Learning to love him, through his paper, I 
was prepared to be pleased with his presence. Some- 
thing of a hero worshiper, by nature, here was one, 
on first sight, to excite my love and reverence. 

Seventeen years ago, few men possessed a more 


heavenly countenance than William Lloyd Garrison, 
and few men evinced a more genuine or a more ex- 
alted piety. The bible was his text book — held sa- 
cred, as the word of the Eternal Father — sinless per- 
fection — complete submission to insults and injuries 
— literal obedience to the injunction, if smitten on 
one side to turn the other also, i^otonly was Sunday 
a Sabbath, but all days were Sabbaths, and to be kept 
holy. All sectarism false and mischievous — the 
regenerated, throughout the world, members of one 
body, and the Head Christ Jesus. Prejudice against 
color was rebellion against God. Of all men beneath 
the sky, the slaves, because most neglected and des- 
pised, were nearest and dearest to his great heart. 
Those ministers who defended slavery from the bi- 
ble, were of their "father the devil;" and those 
churches which fellowshiped slaveholders as chris- 
tians, were synagogues of Satan, and our nation was 
a nation of liars. Never loud or noisy — calm and 
serene as a summer sky, and as pure. " You are the 
man, the Moses, raised up by God, to deliver his 
modern Israel from bondage," was the spontaneous 
feeling of my heart, as I sat away back in the hall 
and listened to his mighty words ; mighty in truth — 
mighty in their simple earnestness. 

I had not long been a reader of the Liberator, and 
listener to its editor, before I got a clear a[)pre]ien- 
sion of the principles of the anti-slavery movement. 
I had already the spirit of the movement, and only 
needed to understand its principles and measures. 
These I got from the Liberator, and from those who 
believed in that paper. My acquaintance with the 


movement increased mj hope for the ultimate free- 
dom of my race, and I united with it from a sense of 
delight, as well as duty. 

Every week the Liberator came, and every week I 
made myself master of its contents. All the anti- 
slavery meetings held in New Bedford I promptly 
attended, my heart burning at every true utterance 
against the slave system, and every rebuke of its 
friends and supporters. Thus passed the first three 
years of my residence in Xew Bedford. I had not 
then dreamed of the possibility of my becoming a 
public advocate of the cause so deeply imbedded in 
my heart. It was enough for me to listen — to re- 
ceive and applaud the great words of others, and only 
whisper in private, among the white laborers on the 
wharves, and elsewhere, the truths which burned in 
my breast. 








Ix the snminer of 184:1, a grand anti-slaverj con- 
vention was held in Kantucket, under the auspices 
of Mr. Garrison and his friends. Until now, I had 
taken no holiday since my escape from slavery. 
Having worked very hard that spring and summer, 
in Richmond's brass Ibundery — sometimes working all 
night as well as all day — and needing a day or tv/o 
of rest, I attended this convention, never supposing 
that I should take part in the proceedings. Indeed, 
I was not aware that any one connected with the con- 
vention even so much as knew my name. I was, how- 
ever, quite mistaken. Mr. William C. Coffin, a prom- 
inent abolitionist in those days of trial, had heard me 
speaking to my colored friends, in the little school- 
house on Second street, ISTew Bedford, where we wor- 
shiped. He sought me out in the crowd, and invited 
me to say a few words to the convention. Thus 
sought out, and thus invited, I was induced to speak 


out the feelings inspired by the occasion, and the 
fresh recollection of the scenes through which I had 
passed as a slave. My speech on this occasion is 
about the only one I ever made, of which I do not 
remember a single connected sentence. It was with 
the utmost dithculty that I could stand erect, or that 
I could command and articulate two words without 
hesitation and stammering. I trembled in every 
limb. I am not sure that my embarrassment was not 
the most effective part of my speech, if speech it 
could be called. At any rate, this is about the onl}^ 
part of my performance that I now distinctly remem- 
ber. But excited and convulsed as I was, the audi- 
ence, though remarkably quiet before, became as 
much excited as myself Mr. Garrison followed me, 
taking me as his text ; and now, whether I had made 
an eloquent speech in behalf of freedom or not, his 
was one never to be forgotten by those who heard it. 
Those who had heard Mr. Garrison oftenest, and had 
known him longest, were astonished. It was an ef- 
fort of unequaled power, sweeping down, like a very 
tornado, every opposing barrier, whether of senti- 
ment or opinion. For a moment, he possessed that 
almost fabulous inspiration, often referred to but sel- 
dom attained, in which a public meeting is trans- 
formed, as it were, into a single individuality — the 
orator wielding a thousand heads and hearts at once, 
and by the simple majesty of his all controlling 
thought, converting his hearers into the express im- 
age of his own soul. That night there were at least 
one thousand Garrisonians in ^N^antucket ! At the 
close of this great meeting, I was duly waited on by 


Mr. John A. Collins — then the general agent of the 
Massachusetts anti-slavery society — and nrgently so- 
licited by him to become an agent of that society, 
and to publicly advocate its anti-slavery principles. 
I was reluctant to take the proffered position. I had 
not been quite three years from slavery — was hon- 
estly distrustful of my ability — wished to be excused ; 
publicity exposed me to discovery and arrest by my 
master ; and other objections came up, but Mr. Col- 
lins was not to be put off, and I finally consented to 
go out for three months, for I supposed that I should 
have got to the end of my story and my usefulness, 
in that length of time. 

Here opened upon me a new life — a life for which 
I had had no preparation. I was a " graduate from 
the peculiar institution," Mr. Collins used to say, 
when introducing me, '* loith my cUjyloma written on 
my lach ! " The three years of m.j freedom had been 
spent in the hard school of adversity. My hands 
had been furnished by nature with something like a 
solid leather coating, and I had bravely marked out 
for myself a life of rough labor, suited to the hard- 
ness of my hands, as a means of supporting myself 
and rearing my children. 

ITow what shall I say of tliis fourteen years' expe- 
rience as a public advocate of the cause of my en- 
slaved brothers and sisters? The time is but as a 
speck, yet large enough to justify a pause for retro- 
spection — and a pause it must only be. 

Young, ardent, and hopeful, I entered upon this 
new life in the full gush of unsusj^ecting enthusiasm. 
The cause was good ; the men engaged in it were 

T/'JO LIFE AS A freeman: 


good ; tlie means to attain its triumph, good ; Heav- 
en's blessing must attend all, and freedom must soon 
be given to the pining millions under a ruthless bon- 
dage. My whole heart went with the holy cause, and 
my most fervent prayer to the Almighty Disposer of 
the hearts of men, were continually offered for its 
early triumph. '' Who or what," thought I, " can 
withstand a cause so good, so holy, so indescribably 
glorious. The God of Israel is with us. The might 
of the Eternal is on our side. Now let but the truth 
be spoken, and a nation will start forth at the sound ! " 
In this enthusiastic spirit, I dropped into the ranks of 
freedom's friends, and went forth to the battle. For 
a time I was made to forget that my skin was dark 
and my hair crisped. For a time I regretted that I 
could not have shared the hardships and dangers en- 
dured by the earlier workers for the slave's release. I 
soon, however, found that my enthusiasm had been 
extravagant ; that hardships and dangers were not 
yet passed ; and that the life now before me, had 
sliadows as well as sunbeams. 

Among the first duties assigned me, on entering 
tlie ranks, was to travel, in company with Mr. George 
Foster, to secure subscribers to the "Anti-slavery 
Standard " and the " Liberator." With him I trav- 
eled and lectured through the eastern counties of 
Massachusetts. Much interest was awakened — large 
meetings assembled. Many came, no doubt, from 
curiosity to hear what a negro could say in his own 
cause. I was generally introduced as a " chattel " — 
a " thing " — a piece of southern '-^property " — the 
chairman assuring the audience that it could speak. 


Fugitive slaves, at tliat time, were not so plentiful as 
now ; and as a fugitive slave lecturer, I had the ad- 
vantage of being a " hrand new fact " — the first one 
out. Up to that time, a colored man was deemed a 
fool who confessed himself a runaway slave, not only 
because of the dan2:er to which he exoosed himself 
of beins: retaken, but because it was a confession of 
a very loiu origin ! Some of my colored friends in 
Xew Bedford thought very badly of my wisdom for 
thus exposing and degrading myself. The only pre- 
caution I took, at the beginning, to prevent Master 
Thomas from knowing where I was, and what I was 
about, was the withholding my former name, my 
master's name, and the name of the state and county 
from which I came. During the first three or four 
months, my speeches were almost exclusively made 
up of narrations of my own personal experience as a 
slave. '' Let us have the facts,'- said the people. So 
also said Friend George Foster, who always wished 
to pin me down to my simple narrative. " Give us 
the facts," said Collins, '* we will take care of the 
philosophy." Just here arose some embarrassment. 
It was impossible for me to repeat the same old story 
month after month, and to keep up my interest in it. 
It was new to the people, it is true, but it was an old 
story to me ; and to go through with it night after 
night, was a task altogether too mechanical for my 
nature. " Tell your story, Frederick," would whis- 
per my then revered friend, William Lloyd Garrison, 
as I stepped upon the platform. I could not always 
^bey, for I was now reading and thinking. Kew 
Vi ■'.ws of the subject were presented to my mind. It 


(lid not entirely satisfy me to narrate wrongs ; I felt 
like denouncing them. I could not always curb my 
moral indignation for the perpetrators of slavehold- 
insr villainv, Ions; enous^h for a circumstantial state- 
ment of the facts which I felt almost everybody must 
know. Besides, I was growing, and needed room. 
" People won't believe you ever was a slave, Freder- 
ick, if you keep on this way," said Friend Foster. 
'^ Be yourself^" said Collins, " and tell your story." 
It was said to me, " Better have a little of tlie plan- 
tation manner of speech than not ; 'tis not best that 
you seem too learned." These excellent friends were 
actuated by the best of motives, and were not alto- 
gether wrong in their advice ; and still I must speak 
just the word that seemed to Qne the word to be spo- 
ken hy me. 

At last the apprehended trouble came. People 
doubted if I had ever been a slave. They said I did 
not talk like a slave, look like a slave, nor act like a 
slave, and that they believed I had never been south 
of Mason and Dixon's line. " He don't tell us where 
he came from — what his master's name was — how he 
got away — nor the story of his experience. Besides, 
he is educated, and is, in this, a contradiction of all 
the facts we have concernino; the io^norance of the 
slaves." Thus, I was in a pretty fair way to be de- 
nounced as an impostor. The committee of the Mas- 
sachusetts anti-slavery society knew all the facts in my 
case, and agreed with me in the prudence of keeping 
them private. They, therefore, never doubted my 
being a genuine fugitive ; but going down the aisles 
of the churches in which I spoke, and hearing the 


free spoken Yankees saying, repeatedly, " H&s never 
teen aslave^ Pll loarrant ?/^," I resolved to dispel all 
doubt, at no distant day, by sncli a revelation of facts 
as could not be made by any other than a genuine 

In a little less than four years, therefore, after be- 
coming a public lecturer, I was induced to write out 
the leading facts connected with my experience in 
slavery, giving names of persons, places, and dates — 
thus putting it in the power of any who doubted, to 
ascertain the truth or falsehood of my story of being 
a fugitive slave. This statement soon became known 
in Maryland, and I had reason to believe that an ef- 
fort would be made to recapture me. 

It is not probable that any open attempt to secure 
me as a slave could have succeeded, further than the 
obtainment, by my master, of the money value of 
my bones and sinews. Fortunately for me, in the 
four years of my labors in the abolition cause, 1 had 
gained many friends, who would have suffered them- 
selves to be taxed to almost anv extent to save me 
from slavery. It was felt that I had committed the 
double offense of running away, and exposing the se- 
crets and crimes of slavery and slaveholders. There 
was a double motive for seeking my reenslavement — ■ 
avarice and vengeance ; and while, as I have said, 
there was little probability of successful recapture, 
if attempted openly, I was constantly in danger of 
being spirited away, at a moment when my friends 
could render me no assistance. In traveling about 
from place to place — often alone — I was much ex- 
posed to this sort of attack. Any one cherishing the 


design to betray me, could easily do so, by simply tra- 
cino" my whereabouts through the anti-slavery journals, 
for my meetings and movements were promptly made 
known in advance. My true friends, Mr. Garrison 
and Mr. Phillips, had no faith in the power of Massa- 
chusetts to protect me in my right to liberty. Public 
sentiment and the law, in their opinion, would liand 
me over to the tormentors. Mr. Phillips, especially, 
considered me in danger, and said, when I showed 
him the manuscript of my story, if in my place, he 
would throw it into the fire. Thus, the reader will 
observe, the settling of one difficulty only opened the 
way for another ; and that though I had reached a 
free state, and had attained a position for public use- 
fulness, I was still tormented with the liability of 
losing my liberty. How this liability was dispelled, 
will be related, with other incidents, in the next 












The allotments of Providence, when coupled with 
trouble and anxiety, often conceal from finite vision 
the wisdom and goodness in which they are sent ; 
and, frequently, what seemed a harsh and invidious 
dispensation, is converted by after experience into a 
happy and beneficial arrangement. Thus, the pain- 
ful liability to be returned again to slavery, which 
haunted me by day, and troubled my dreams by 
night, proved to be a necessary step in the path of 
Ifnowledge and usefulness. The writing of my pam- 
phlet, in the spring of 1815, endangered my liberty, 
and led me to seek a refuge from republican slavery 
in monarchical England. A rude, uncultivated fugi- 
tive slave was driven, by stern necessity, to that coun- 
try to which young American gentlemen go to increase 


their stock of knowledge, to seek pleasure, to have 
their rough, democratic manners softened by contact 
with English aristocratic refinement. On applying 
for a passage to England, on board the Cambria, of 
the^Cunard line, my friend, James 1^. BuiFiim, of L^mn, 
Massachusetts, was informed that. I could not be re- 
ceived on board as a cabin passenger. American 
prejudice against color triumphed over British liberal- 
ity and civilization, and erected a color test and con- 
dition for crossing the sea in the cabin of a British 
ressel. The insult was keenly felt by my white 
friends, but to me, it was common, expected, and 
therefore, a thing of no great consequence, whether 
I went in the cabin or in the steerage. Moreover, I 
felt that if I could not go into the first cabin, first- 
cabin passengers could come into the second cabin, 
and the result justified my anticipations to the fullest 
extent. Indeed, I soon found myself an. object of 
more general interest than I wished to be ; and so 
far from being degraded by being placed in the sec- 
ond cabin, that part of the ship became the scene of 
as much pleasure and refinement, during the voyage, 
as the cabin itself. The Hutchinson Family, cele- 
brated vocalists — fellow-passengers — often came to 
my rude forecastle deck, and sung their sweetest 
songs, enlivening the place with eloquent music, as 
well as spirited conversation, during the voyage. In 
two days after leaving Boston, one part of the ship 
was about as free to me as another. My fellow-pas- 
sengers not only visited me, but invited me to visit 
them, on the saloon deck. My visits there, however, 
were but seldom. I preferred to live within my 


privileges, and keep upon my own premises. I found 
this quite as much in accordance with good policy, 
as with mj own feelings. The effect was, that with 
the majority of the passengers, all color distinctions 
were flung to the winds, and I found myself treated 
with every mark of respect, from the beginning 
to the end of the voyage, except in a single in- 
stance ; and in that, I came near being mobbed, 
for complying with an invitation given me by, the 
passengers, and the captain of the "Cambria," 
to deliver a lecture on slavery. Our l^ew Orleans 
and Georgia passengers were pleased to regard my 
lecture as an insult offered to them, and swore I 
should not speak. They went so far as to threaten 
to throw me overboard, and but for the firmness of 
Captain Judkins, probably would have (under the 
inspiration of slavery and hrancly) attempted to put 
their threats into execution. I have no space to de- 
scribe this scene, although its tragic and coniic pecu- 
liarities are well worth describing. An end was put 
to the raelee^ by the captain's calling the ship's com- 
pany to put the salt water mobocrats in irons. At 
this determined order, the gentlemen of the lash 
scampered, and for the rest of the voyage conducted 
themselves very decorously. 

This incident of the voyage, in two days after land- 
ing at Liverpool, brought me at once before the Brit- 
ish public, and that by no act of my own. The gen- 
tlemen so promptly snubbed in their meditated vio- 
lence, flew to the press to justify their conduct, and 
to denounce me as a worthless and insolent negro. 
This course was even less wise than the conduct it 


was intended to sustain ; for, besides awakening 
something like a national interest- in me, and securing 
me an audience, it brouglit out counter statements, 
and threw the blame upon themselves, which they 
had sought to fasten upon me and the gallant captain 
of the ship. 

Some notion may be formed of the diflerence in 
my feelings and circumstances, while abroad, from 
the following extract from one of a series of letters 
addressed by me to Mr. Garrison, and published in 
the Liberator. It was written on the first day of 
January, 1816 : 

" My Dear Friend Garrison : Up to this time, I have 
given no direct expression of the views, feelings, and opinions 
which I have formed, respecting the character and condition of 
the people of this land. I have refrained thus, purposely. I 
wish to speak advisedly, and in order to do this, I have waited 
till, I trust, experience has brought my opinions to an intelli- 
gent maturity. I have been thus careful, not because I think 
what I say will have much effect in shaping the opinions of the 
world, but because whatever of influence I may possess, whether 
little or much, I wish it to go in the right direction, and ac- 
cording to truth. I hardly need say that, in speaking of Ire- 
land, I shall be influenced by no prejudices . in favor of Amer- 
ica. I think my circumstances all forbid that. I have no end 
to serve, no creed to uphold, no government to defend ; and 
as to nation, I belong to none. I have no protection at home, 
or resting-place abroad. The land of my birth welcomes me 
to her shores only as a slave, and spurns with contempt the 
idea of treating me differently ; so that I am an outcast from 
the society of my childhood, and an outlaw in the land of my 
birth. 'I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my 


fathers were.' That men should be patriotic, is to me per- 
fectly natural ; and as a philosophical fact, I am able to give 
it an intellectual recognition. But no further can I go. If 
ever I had any patriotism, or any capacity for the feeling, it 
was whipped out of me long since, by the lash of the Ameri- 
can soul-drivers. 

'^In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring 
her bright blue sky, her grand old woods, her fertile fields, her 
beautiful rivers, her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains. 
But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to 
mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the in- 
fernal spirit of slaveholding, robbery, and wrong ; when I re- 
member that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears 
of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and for- 
gotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm 
blood of ni}^ outraged sisters ; I am filled with unutterable 
loathing, and led to reproach myself that anything could fall 
from my lips in praise of such a land. America will not al- 
low her children to love her. She seems bent on compelling 
those who would be her warmest friends, to be her worst ene- 
mies. May God give her repentance, before it is too late, is 
the ardent prayer of my heart. I will continue to pray, labor, 
and wait, believing that she cannot always be insensible to the 
dictates of justice, or deaf to the voice of humanity^ 

" My opportunities for learning the character and condition 
of the people of this land have been very great. I have trav- 
eled ahnost from the Hill of Howth to the Giant's Causeway, 
and from the Giant's Causeway to Cape Clear. During these 
travels, I have met with much in the character and condition 
of the people to approve, and much to condemn ; much that 
has thrilled me with pleasure, and very much that has filled 
me with pain. I will not, in this letter, attempt to give any 
description of those scenes which have given me pain. This I 
will do hereafter. I have enough, and more than your sub 



scribers will be disposed to read at one time, of the bright side 
of the picture. I can truly say, I have spent some of the hap- 
piest moments of my life since landing in this country. 1 
seem to have undergone a transformation. I live a new life. 
The warm and generous co5peration extended to me by the 
friends of my despised race ; the prompt and liberal man- 
ner with which the press h:is rendered me its aid ; the glori- 
ous enthusiasm with which thousands have flocked to hear the 
cruel wrongs of my down-trodden and long-enslaved fellow- 
countrymen portrayed ; the deep sympathy for the slave, and 
the strong abhorrence of the slaveholder, everywhere evinced ; 
the cordiality with which members and ministers of various 
relio^ious bodies, and of various shades of religious opinion, 
have embraced me, and lent me their aid ; the kind hospital- 
ity constantly proffered to me by persons of the highest rank 
in society ; the spirit of freedom that seems to animate all 
with whom I come in contact, and the entire absence of ever^'- 
thing that looked like prejudice against me, on account of the 
color of my skin — contrasted so strongly with my long and 
bitter experience in the United States, that 1 look with wonder 
and amazement on the transition, hi the southern part (jf the 
United States, I was a slave, thought of and spoken of as prop- 
erty ; in the language of the law, '/ie/cZ, taken^ reputed^ and 
adjudged to be a chattel in the hands of my owners and pos- 
sessors, and their executors, administrators, and assigns, to all 
intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.^ (Brev. Di- 
gest, 224.) hi the northern states, a fugitive slave, liable to 
be hunted at any moment, like a felon, and to be hurled into 
the terrible jaws of slavery — doomed by an inveterate preju- 
dice against color to insult and outrage on every hand, (jlassa- 
chusetts out of the question) — denied the privileges and cour- 
tesies common to others in the use of the most humble means 
of conveyance — shut out from the cabins on steamboats — re- 
fused admission to respectable hotels — caricatured, scorned, 


scoffecl, mocked, and maltreated with impunity by any one, 
(no matter how black his heart,) so he has a white skin. But 
now behold the change ! Eleven days and a half gone, and I 
have crossed three thousand miles of the perilous deep. In- 
stead of a democratic government, I am under a monarchical 
government. Instead of the bright, blue sky of America, 1 
am covered with the soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle. I 
breathe, and lo ! the chattel becomes a man. I gaze around 
in vain for one who will question my equal humanity, claim 
me as his slave, or offer me an insult. I employ a cab — 1 am 
seated beside white people — I reach the hotel — I enter the 
same door — 1 am shown into the same parlor — I dine at the 
same table — and no one is offended. No delicate nose grows 
deformed in mj^ presence. I find no difficulty here in obtain- 
ing admission into any place of worship, instruction, or amuse- 
ment, on equal terms vv^ith people as white as any I ever saw 
in the United States. I meet nothing to remind me of my 
complexion. I find myself regarded and treated at ever}^ turn 
with the kindness and deference paid to white people. When 
I go to church, I am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip 
to tell me, ^We doii't alloiv niggers in here!'' 

" I remember, about two years ago, there was in Boston, 
near the south-west corner of Boston Common, a menagerie. 
I had long desired to see such a collection as I understood 
w-as being exhibited there. Never having had an opportunity 
M'hile a slave, I resolved to seize this, my first, since my escape. 
I went, and as I approached the entrance to gain admission, I 
was met and told by the door-keeper, in a harsh and contempt- 
uous tone, ' We don't allow niggers in here.'' I also remember 
attending a revival meeting in the Rev. Henry Jackson's meet- 
ing-house, at New Bedford, and going up the broad aisle to 
find a seat, I was met by a good deacon, who told me, in a 
pious tone, ' IFe donH allow niggers in here!'' Soon after 
my arrival in New Bedford, from the south, I had a strong de- 


sire to attend the Lyceum, but was told, ''They clonH allow nig- 
gers in hereP While passing from New York to Boston, on 
the stearaer Massachusetts, on the night of the 9th of Decem- 
ber, 1843, when chilled almost through with the cold, I went 
into the cabin to get a little warm. I was soon touched upon 
the shoulder, and told, ' TFe don'' tallow niggers in here!'' On 
arriving in Boston, from an anti-slavery tour, hungry and tired, 
I went into an eating-house, near my friend, Mr. Campbell's, 
to get some refreshments. I was met by a lad in a white 
apron, ' We doi-Ct allow niggers in hereP A week or two be- 
fore leaving the United States, I had a meeting appointed at 
Weymouth, the home of that glorious band of true abolition- 
ists, the Weston family, and others. On attempting to take 
a seat in the omnibus to that place, I was told by the driver, 
(and 1 never shall forget his fiendish hate,) '■I dont allow nig- 
gers in here f Thank heaven for the respite I now enjoy ! I 
had been in Dublin but a few days, when a gentleman of great 
respectability kindly offered to conduct me through all the 
public buildings of that beautiful city ; and a little afterward, I 
found myself dining with the lord mayor of Dublin. What a 
pity there was not some American democratic christian at the 
door of his splendid mansion, to bark out at my approach, 
' They dovbt allow niggers in hereP The truth is, the people 
here know nothing of the republican negro hate prevalent in 
our glorious land. They measure and esteem men according 
to their moral and intellectual worth, and not according to the 
color of their skin. Whatever may be said of the aristocra- 
cies here, there is none based on the color of a man's skin. 
This species of aristocracy belongs preeminently to 'the land 
of the free, and the home of the brave.' I have never found 
it abroad, in any but Americans. It sticks to them wherever 
they go. They find it almost as hard to get rid of, as to get 
rid of their skins. 

"The second day after my arrival at Liverpool, in company 


with my friend, Buffum, and several other friends, I went to 
Eaton Hal], the residence of the Marquis of Westminster, one 
of the most splendid buildings in England. On approaehinor 
the door, I found several of our American passengers, who 
came out with us in the Cambria, waiting for admission, as 
but one party was allowed in the house at a time. We all 
had to wait till the company within came out. And of all the 
faces, expressive of chagrin, those of the Americans were pre- 
eminent. They looked as sour as vinegar, and as bitter as 
gall, when they found I was to be admitted on equal terms 
with themselves. When the door was opened, I walked in, 
on an equal footing with my white fellow-citizens, and from all 
I could see, I had as much attention paid me by the servants 
that showed us through the house, as any with a paler skin. 
As I walked through the building, the statuary did not fall 
down, the pictures did not leap from their places, the doors 
did not refuse to open, and the servants did not say, ' We doiiH 
allow niggers in here I ^ 

"A happy new-year to you, and all the friends of freedom." 

My time and labors, Tvliile abroad, were divided 
between England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. 
Upon this experience alone, I might write a book 
twice the size of this, " My Bondage and my Free- 
dornP I visited and lectured in nearly all the large 
tovv^ns and cities in the United Kingdom, and enjoyed 
many favorable opportunities for observation and in- 
formation. But books on England are abundant, and 
the public may, therefore, dismiss any fear that I am 
meditating another infliction in that line ; though, in 
truth, I should like much to write a book on those 
countries, if for nothing else, to make grateful men* 
tion of the manv dear friends, whose benevolent ac* 


tions to\rard me are ineffaceably stamped upon my 
memory, and ^Yarmly treasured in my heart. To these 
friends I owe my freedom in the United States. On 
their own motion, without any solicitation from me, 
(Mrs. Henry Richardson, a clever lad}', remarkable 
for her devotion to every good work, taking the lead,) 
they raised a fund sufficient to purchase my freedom, 
and actually paid it over, and placed the papers " of 

* The following is a copy of these curious papers, both of my 
transfer from Thomas to Hugh Auld, and from Hugh to myself: 

" Know all men by these Presents, That I, Thomas Auld, of Tal- 
bot county, and state of Maryland, for and in consideration of tlie 
sum of one hundred dollars, current money, to me paid by Hugh 
Auld, of the city of Baltimore, in the said state, at and before the 
sealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof, I, the 
said Thomas Auld, do hereby acknowledge, have granted, bargained, 
and sold, and by these presents do grant, bargain, and sell unto the 
said Hugh Auld, his executors, administrators, and assigns, oxn ne- 
gro MAN, by the name of Frederick Baily, or Douglass, as lie calls 
himself — he is now about twenty-eight years of age — to have and to 
hold the said negro man for life. And I, the said Thomas Auld, for 
myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, all and singular, 
the said Frederick Baily, alias Douglass, unto the said Hugh Auld, 
his executors, administrators, and assigns, against me, the said 
Thomas Auld, my executors, and administrators, and against all 
and every other person or persons whatsoever, shall and will war- 
rant and forever defend by these presents. In witness whereof, I 
set my hand and seal, this thirteenth day of ISTovember, eighteen 
hundred and forty-six. Thomas Auld. 

"Signed, sealed, and delivered in presence of Wrightson Jones. 
"Joux C. Leas." 

The authenticity of this bill of sale is attested by X. Plarrington, 
3, justice of the peace of the state of Maryland, and for the county 
of Talbot, dated same day as above. 

''To all whom it may concern : Be it known, that I, Hugh Auld, 


my manumission in my bands, before tbey would tol- 
erate the idea of my returning to tbis, my native 
cou^tr3^ To tbis commercial transaction I owe my 
exemption from tbe democratic operation of tbe fu- 
<ritive slave bill of 1850. But for tbis, I mio^bt at 
any time become a victim of tbis most cruel and scan- 
dalous enactment, and be doomed to end my life, as 
I began it, a slave. Tbe sum paid for my freedom 
was one bundred and fifty pounds sterling. 

Some of my uncompromising anti-slavery friends 
in tbis country failed to see tbe wisdom of tbis ar- 
rangement, and were not pleased tbat I consented to 
it, even by my silence. Tbey tbougbt it a violation 
of anti-slavery principles — conceding a rigbt of prop- 
erty in man — and a wasteful expenditure of money. 
On tbe otber band, viewing it simply in tbe ligbt of 
a ransom, or as money extorted by a robber, and my 
liberty of more value tban one bundred and fifty 
pounds sterling, I could not see eitber a violation of 
tbe laws of morality, or tbose of economy, in tbe 

of the city of Baltimore, in Baltimore county, in tlie state of Mary- 
land, for divers good causes and considerations, me thereunto mov- 
inir, have released from slavery, liberated, manumitted, aud set free, 
and by these presents do hereby release from slavery, liberate, 
manumit, and set free, .vy negro man, named Frederick Bailt, oth- 
erwise called Douglass, being of the age of twenty-eight years, or 
tlsereabouts, and able to work and gain a sufficient livelihood aud 
maintenance; and him the said negro man, named Frederick 
Baily, otherwise called Frederick Douglass, I do declare to be 
henceforth free, manumitted, and discharged from all manner of 
servitude to me, m}- executors, and administrators forever, 

" In witness whereof, I, the said Hugh Auld, have hereunto set 


It is true, I was not in the possession of my claim- 
ants, and could have easily remained in England, for 
the same friends who had so generously purchased 
my freedom, would have assisted me in establishing 
myself in that country. To this, however, I could 
not consent. I felt that I had a duty to perform — 
and that was, to labor and suffer with the oppressed 
in my native land. Considering, therefore, all the 
circumstances — the fugitive slave bill included — ■ I 
think the very best thing was done in letting Master 
Hugh have the hundred and fifty pounds sterling, 
and leaving me free to return to my appropriate field 
of labor. Had I been a private person, having no 
other relations or duties than those of a personal and 
family nature, I should never have consented to the 
payment of so large a sum for the privilege of living 
securely under our glorious republican form of gov- 
ernment. I could have remained in England, or have 
gone to .some other country ; and perhaps I could 
even have lived unobserved in this. But to this I 
could not consent. I had already become somewhat 
notorious, and withal quite as unpo]3ular as notorious ; 
and I was, therefore, much exposed to arrest and re- 

The main object to which my labors in Great Brit- 
ain were directed, was the concentration of the moral 
and religious sentiment of its people against Amer- 
ican slavery. England is often charged with having 

my hand and seal, the fifth of December, in the year one thousand 
eight hundred and forty-six. Hugh Auld, 

"Sealed and delivered in presence of T, Hanson Belt. 
"James N. S. T. WriCxHt." 


established slavery in the United States, and if there 
were no other justification than this, for appealing to 
her people to lend their moral aid for the abolition 
of slavery, I should be justified. My speeches in 
Great Britain were wholly extemporaneous, and I 
may not always have been so guarded in my ex- 
pressions, as I otherwise should have been. I was 
ten years younger then than now, and only seven 
years from slavery. I cannot give the reader a bet- 
ter idea of the nature of my discourses, than by re- 
publishing one of them, delivered in Finsbury chapel, 
London, to an audience of about two thousand per- 
sons, and which was published in the " London Uni- 
verse," at the time.^' 

Those in the United States who may regard this 
speech as being harsh in its spirit and unjust in its 
statements, because delivered before an audience sup- 
posed to be anti-republican in their principles and 
feelings, may view the matter difi^erently, when they 
learn that the case supposed did not exist. It so hap- 
pened that the great mass of the people in England 
who attended and patronized my anti-slavery meet- 
ings, were, in truth, about as good republicans as the 
mass of Americans, and with this decided advan- 
tage over the latter — they are lovers of republi- 
canism for all men, for black men as well as for 
white men. They are the people who sympathize 
with Louis Kossuth and Mazzini, and with the op- 
pressed and enslaved, of every color and nation, the 
world over. They constitute the democratic element 
in British politics, and are as much opposed to the 

*See Appendix to this Tolume, page 40t, 


union of cliurcli and state as we, in America, are to 
sncii an union. At the meeting where this speech 
was delivered, Joseph Sturge— a world-wide phihm- 
tliro})ist, and a member of the society of Friends — 
presided, and addressed the meeting. George Wih 
liam Alexander, another Friend, who has spent more 
than an American fortune in promoting the anti-sla- 
very cause in difterent sections of the w^orld, was on 
the platform ; and also Dr. Campbell, (now of the 
"British Banner,'') who combines all the humane 
tenderness of Melaucthon, with the directness and 
boldness of Luther. He is in the very front ranks 
of non-conformists, and looks with no unfriendly eye 
upon America. George Thompson, too, was there ; 
and America will yet own that he did a true man's 
work in relighting the rapidly dying-out fire of true 
republicanism in the American heart, and be ashamed 
of the treatment he met at her hands. Coming gen- 
erations in this country will applaud the spirit of 
this much abused republican friend of freedom. 
There were others of note seated on the platform, 
who would gladly ingraft upon English institutions all 
that is purely republican in the institutions of Amer- 
ica. Nothing, therefore, must be set down against 
this speech on the score that it was deli veered in the 
presence of those who cannot appreciate the many 
excellent things belonging to our system of govern- 
ment, and with a view to stir up prejudice against re- 
publican institutions. 

Again, let it also be remembered — for it is the 
gimple truth — that neither in this speech, noi* in any 
other which I delivered in Ensrland, did I ever allow 


myself to address Englishmen as against Americans. 
I took my stand on the high ground of homan broth- 
erhood, and spoke to Englishmen as men, in behalf 
of men. Slavery is a crime, not against Englishmen, 
but against God, and all the members of the human 
family ; and it belongs to the whole human family to 
seek its suppression. In a letter to Mr. Greeley, of 
the New York Tribune, written while abroad, I said : 

" I am, nevertheless, aware that the wisdom of exposing the 
sins of one nation in the ear of another, has been seriously 
questioned by good and clear-sighted people, both on this and 
on your side of the Atlantic. And the thought is not without 
weiiz-ht on my own mind. I am satisfied that there are many 
evils which can be best removed by confining our efforts to the 
immediate locality where such evils exist. This, however, is 
by no means the case with the system of slavery. It is such 
a giant sin — such a monstrous aggregation of iniquity — so hard- 
ening to tlie human heart — so destructive to the moral sense, 
and so well cak-ulated to beget a character, in every one around 
it, favorable to its oven continuance, — that I feel not only at 
liberty, but abundantly justified, in appealing to the whole 
world to aid in its removal." 

But, even if I had — as has been often charged — 
labored to bring American institutions generally into 
disrepute, and had not confined my labors strictly 
within the limits of humanity and morality, I shoidd 
not have been without illustrious examples to sup- 
port me. Driven into semi-exile by civil and bar- 
barous laws, and by a system which cannot be thought 
of without a shudder, I was fully justified in turning, 
if possible, the tide of the moral universe against the 
heaven-darino: outraeje. 


Four circumstances greatly assisted me in getting 
the question of American slavery before the British 
public. First, the mob on board the Cambria, al- 
ready referred to, which was a sort of national an- 
nouncement of my arrival in England. Secondly, 
the highly reprehensible course pursued by the Free 
Church of Scotland, in soliciting, receiving, and re- 
taining money in its sustentation fund for supporting 
the gospel in Scotland, which was evidently the ill- 
gotten gain of slaveholders and slave-traders. Third, 
the great Evangelical Alliance — or rather the attempt 
to form such an alliance, which should include slave- 
holders of a certain description — added immensely to 
the interest felt in the slavery question. About the 
same time, there was the World's Temperance Con- 
vention, where I had the misfortune to come in col- 
lision with sundry American doctors of divinity — Dr. 
Cox among the number — with whom I had a small 

It has happened to me — as it has happened to most 
other men engaged in a good cause — often to be more 
indebted to my enemies than to my own skill or to 
the assistance of my friends, for whatever success has 
attended my labors. Great surprise was expressed 
by American newspapers, north and south, during 
my stay in Great Britain, that a person so illiterate 
and insignificant as myself could awaken an interest 
so marked in England. These papers were not the 
only parties surprised. I was myself not far behind 
them in surprise. But the very contempt and scorn, 
the systematic and extravagant disparagement of 
which I was the object, served, perhaps, to magnify 


my few merits, and to render me of some account, 
whether deserving or not. A man is sometimes made 
great, by the greatness of the abuse a portion of man- 
kind may think proper to heap upon him. Whether 
I was of as much consequence as the English papers 
made me out to be, or not, it was easily seen, in En- 
gland, that I could not be the ignorant and worthless 
creature, some of the American papers w^ould have 
them believe I was. Men, in their senses, do not 
take bowie-knives to kill mosquitoes, nor pistols to 
shoot flies ; and the American passengers w^ho thought 
proper to get up a mob to silence me, on board the 
Cambria, took the most effective method of telling 
the British public that I had something to say. 

But to the second circumstance, namely, the po- 
sition of the Free Church of Scotland, with the great 
Doctors Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish at its 
head. That church, with its leaders, put it out of 
the power of the Scotch people to ask the old ques- 
tion, which we in the north have often most wickedly 
asked — " What have loe to do with slavery f " That 
church had taken the price of blood into its treasury, 
with which to build free churches, and to pay free 
church ministers for preaching the gospel ; and, 
worse still, when honest John Murray, of Bowlien 
Bay — now gone to his reward in heaven — with "Wil- 
liam Smeal, Andrew Baton, Frederick Card, and 
other sterling anti-slavery men in Glasgow, denounced 
the transaction as disg-racefal and shocking; to the re- 
ligious sentiment of Scotland, this church, through 
its leading divines, instead of repenting and seeking 
to mend the mistake into which it had fallen, made 


it a flagrant sin, by nndertaking to defend, in tlie 
1 ame of God and the bible, the principle not only of 
taking the money of slave-dealers to bnild churclies, 
bnt of holding fellowship with the holders and tral- 
fickers in human flesh. This, the reader will see, 
bronght np the Avhole qnestion of slavery, and opened 
the way to its full discussion, without any agency of 
mine. I have never seen a people more deeply 
moved than were the people of Scotland, on this very 
question. Public meeting succeeded public meet- 
ing. Speech after speech, pamphlet after pamphlet, 
editorial after editorial, sermon after sermon, soon 
lashed the conscientious Scotch people into a perfect 
furore. " Send back the money ! " was indignantly 
cried out, from Greenock to Edinburgh, and from 
Edinburgh to Aberdeen. George Thompson, of Lon- 
don, Henry C. Wright, of the. United States, James 
X. Bufl'um, of Lynn, Massachusetts, and myself were 
on the anti-slavery side ; and Doctors Chalmers, Cun- 
ningham, and Candlish on the other. In a conflict 
where the latter could have had even the show of 
right, the truth, in our hands as against them, must 
have been driven to the wall ; and while I believe 
we were able to carry the conscience of the country 
against the action of the Free Church, the battle, it 
must be confessed, was a hard-fought one. Abler 
defenders of the doctrine of fellowshiping slave- 
holders as christians, have not been met with. In 
defending this doctrine, it was necessary to deny that 
slavery is a sin. If driven from this position, they 
were compelled to deny that slaveholders were re- 
sj^onsible for the sin ; and if driven from both these 


positions, they must denj that it is a sin in such a 
sense, and that slaveholders are sinners in such a 
sense, as to make it wrong, in the circumstance':^ in 
which they were placed, to recognize them as chris- 
tians. Dr. Cunningham was the most powerful de- 
bater on the slavery side of the question ; Mr. Thomp- 
son Vv'as the ablest on the anti-slavery side. A scene 
occurred between these two men, a parallel to which 
I think I never witnessed before, and I know I never 
have since. The scene was caused bv a sinu'le ex- 
clamation on the part of Mr. Thompson. 

The general assembly of the Free Church was in 
progress at Cannon Mills, Edinburgh. The building 
would hold about twenty-five hundred persons ; and 
on this occasion it was densely packed, notice having 
been given that Doctors Cunningham and Candlish 
would speak, that day, in defense of the relations of 
the Free Church of Scotland to slavery in America. 
Messrs. Thompson, BufFum, myself, and a few anti- 
slavery friends, attended, but sat at such a distance, 
and in such a position, that, perhaps, we were not 
observed from the platform. The excitement was in- 
tense, having been greatly increased hy a series of 
meetings held by Messrs. Thompson, Wright, Buflum, 
and myself, in the most splendid hall in that most 
beautiful city, just previous to the meetings of the 
general assembly. "Send back the money ! " stared 
at us from every street corner ; " Sp:nd back the 
MONEY ! " in large caj^itals, adorned the broad flags 
of the pavement ; " Send back the money ! " was the 
chorus of the popular street songs; "Send back the 
MONEY ! " was the heading of leading editorials in the 


daily newspapers. This day, at Cannon Mills, the 
great doctors of the chnrch were to give an answer 
to this loud and stern demand. Men of all parties 
and all sects were most eager to hear. Something 
great was expected. The occasion was great, the men 
great, and great speeches were expected from them. 
In addition to the outside pressure upon Doctors 
Cunnino:ham and Candlish, there was waverins: in 
their own ranks. The conscience of the church it- 
self was not at ease. A dissatisfaction with the position 
of the church touching slaver}", was sensibly manifest 
among the members, and something must be done to 
counteract this untoward influence. The great Dr. 
Chalmers was in feeble health, at the time. His most 
potent eloquence could not now be summoned to 
Cannon Mills, as formerly. He whose voice was 
able to rend asunder and dash down the granite walls 
of the established church of Scotland, and to lead a 
host in solemn procession from it, as from a doomed 
city, was now old and enfeebled. Besides, he had 
said his word on this very question ; and his word 
had not silenced the clamor without, nor stilled tlie 
anxious heavings within. The occasion was momen- 
tous, and felt to be so. The church was in a perilous 
condition. A change of some sort must take place 
in her condition, or she must go to pieces. To stand 
where she did, was impossible. The whole weight 
of the matter fell on Cunningham and Candlish. Xo 
shoulders in the church were broader than theirs ; 
and I must say, badly as I detest the principles laid 
down and defended by tliem, I was compelled to ac- 
knowledo-e the vast mental endowments of the men. 


Conningham rose ; and liis rising was the signal for 
almost tumultous applause. You will saj tliis was 
scarcely in keeping with the solemnity of the occa- 
sion, but to me it served to increase its grandeur and 
gravity. The applause, though tumultuous, was not 
joyous. It seemed to me, as it thundered up from 
the vast audience, like the fall of an immense shaft, 
flung from shoulders already galled by its crushing 
weight. It was like saying, " Doctor, we have borne 
this burden long enough, and willingly fling it upon 
you. Since it was you who brought it upon us, take 
it now, and do what you will with it, for we are too 
weary to bear it. 

Doctor Cunningham proceeded with his speech, 
abounding in logic, learning, and eloquence, and ap- 
parently bearing down all opposition ; but at the mo- 
ment — the fatal moment — when lie was just bringing 
all his arguments to a point, and that point being, 
that neither Jesus Christ nor his holy apostles re- 
garded slaveholding as a sin, George Thompson, in a 
clear, sonorous, but rebuking voice, broke the deep 
stillness of the audience, exclaiming, "Hear! hear! 
hear!" The eft'ect of this simple and common ex- 
clamation is almost incredible. It was as if a granite 
wall had been suddenly flung up against the advan- 
cing current of a mighty river. For a moment, 
speaker and audience were brought to a dead silence. 
Both the doctor and his hearers seemed ap23alled by 
the audacity, as well as the fitness of the rebuke. At 
length a shout went np to the cry of ^^Put him out! •' 
Happily, no* one attempted to execute this cowardly 
order, and the doctor proceeded with his discourse. 
Q 25 

386 lh'E as a feeeman. 

Not, however, as before, did the learned doctor pro- 
ceed. The exclamation of Thompson must have re- 
echoed itself a thousand times in his memory, during 
the remainder of his speed i, for the doctor never re- 
covered from the blow. 

The deed was done, however ; the pillars of the 
church — the proud^ Free CJiurcli of Scotland — were 
committed, and the humility of repentance was ab- 
sent. The Free Church held on to the blood-stained 
money, and continued to justify itself in its position 
— and of course to apologize for slavery — and does 
so till this day. She lost a glorious opportunity for 
giving her voice, her vote, and her example to the 
cause of humanity ; and to-day she is staggering un- 
der the curse of the enslaved, whose blood is in her 
skirts. The people of Scotland are, to this day, 
deeply grieved at the course pui*sued by the Free 
Church, and would hail, as a relief from a deep and 
blighting shame, the " sending back the money " to 
the slaveholders from whom it was gathered. 

One good result followed the conduct of the Free 
Church ; it furnished an occasion for making the peo- 
ple of Scotland thoroughly acquainted with \\\^ char- 
acter of slavery, and for arraying against the system 
the moral and religious sentiment of that country. 
Therefore, while we did not succeed in accomplish- 
ing the specific object of our mission, namely — pro- 
cure the sending back of the money — we were am- 
ply justified by the good which really did result from 
our labors. 

]S"ext comes the Evangelical Alliance." This was 
an attempt to form a union of all evangelical chris- 


tians thronglioiit tlie world. Sixty or seventy Amer- 
ican divines attended, and some of them went there 
merely to weave a world-wide gairment with which 
to clothe evano^elical slaveholders. Foremost amono' 
these divines, was the Rev. Samuel Hanson Cox, mod- 
erator of the Kew School Presbyterian General As- 
sembly. He and his friends spared no pains to se- 
cure a platform broad enough to hold American 
slaveholders, and in this they partly succeeded. But 
the question of slavery is too large a question to be 
finally disposed of, even by the Evangelical Alliance. 
"We appealed from the judgment of the xHliance, to 
the judgment of the people of Great Britain, and with 
the happiest efi'ect. This controversy with the Alli- 
ance might be made the subject of extended remark, 
but I must forbear, except to say, that this efibrt to 
shield the christian character of slaveholders greatly 
served to open a way to the British ear for anti-sla- 
ver}^ discussion, and that it was well improved. 

The fourth and last circumstance that assisted me 
in getting before the British public, was an attempt 
on tlie part of certain doctors of divinity to silence 
me on the platform of the World's Temperance Con- 
vention. Here I was brought into point blank col- 
lision with Rev. Dr. Cox, who made me the subject 
not only of bitter remark in the convention, but also 
of a long denunciatory letter published in the 'New 
York Evangelist and other American papers. I re- 
plied to the doctor as well as I could, and was suc- 
cessful in getting a respiectful hearing before the 
British public, who are by nature and practice ardppt 


lovers of fair play, especially in a conflict between the 
weak and the strong. 

Thus did circnmstances favor me, and favor the 
cause of which I strove to be the advocate. After 
such distinguished notice, the public in both coun- 
tries was compelled to attach some importance to my 
labors. By the very ill usage I received at the hands 
of Dr. Cox and his party, by the mob on board the 
Cambria, by the attacks made upon me in the Amer- 
ican newspapers, and by the aspersions cast upon me 
throufrh the oro;ans of the Free Church of Scotland, J 
became one of that class of men, who, for the mo- 
ment, at least, ''have greatness forced upon them." 
People became the more anxious to hear for them- 
selves, and to judge for themselves, of the truth 
which I had to unfold. While, therefore, it is by no 
means easy for a stranger to get fairly before the 
British public, it was my lot to accomplish it in the 
easiest manner possible. 

Havino; continued in Great Britain and Ireland 
nearly two years, and being about to return to Amer- 
ica — not as I left it, a slave, but a freeman — leading 
friends of the cause of emancipation in that country 
intimated their intention to make me a testimonial, 
not only on grounds of personal regard to myself, but 
also to the cause to which they were so ardently de- 
voted. How far any such thing could have suc- 
ceeded, I do not know ; but many reasons led me to 
prefer that my friends should simply give me the 
means of obtaining a printing press and printing ma- 
terials, to enable me to start a paper, devoted to the 
interests of my enslaved and oppressed people. I 


told tliem that perhaps the greatest hinclerance to the 
adoption of abolition principles hj the people of the 
United States, was the low estimate, everywhere in that 
country, placed upon the negro, as a man ; that because 
of his assumed natural inferiority, people reconciled 
themselves to his enslavement and oppression, as 
things inevitable, if not desirable. The grand thing 
to be done, therefore, was to change the estimation 
in wliich the colored people of the United States 
were held; to remove the prejudice which deprecia- 
ted and depressed them ; to prove them worthy of a 
higher consideration ; to disprove their alleged infe- 
riorit}^ and demonstrate their capacity for a more ex- 
alted civilization than slavery and prejudice had as- 
signed to them. I further stated, that, in my judg- 
ment, a tolerably well conducted press, in the hands 
of persons of the despised race, by calling out the 
mental energies of the race itself; by making them 
acquainted with their own latent powers ; by en- 
kindling among them the hope that for them there is 
a future ; by developing their moral j)ower ; by com- 
bining and reflecting their talents — would prove a 
most powerful means of removing prejudice, and of 
awakening an interest in them. I further informed 
them — and at that time the statement was true — that 
there was not, in the United States, a single newspa- 
per regularl}^ published by the colored people ; that 
many attempts had been made to establish such pa- 
pers ; but that, up to that time, they had all failed. 
These views I laid before my friends. The result 
was, nearly two thousand five hundred dollars were 
speedily raised toward starting my paper. For this 


prompt tiiid generous assistance, rendered upon my 
bare suggestion, without any personal efforts on my 
part, I shall never cease to feel deeply grateful ; and 
the thought of fulfilling the noble expectations of 
the dear friends who gave me this evidence of their 
confidence, will never cease to be a^motive for perse- 
vering exertion. 

Proposing to leave England, and turning my face 
toward America, in the spring of 18^1:7, I was met, 
on the threshold, with something which painfully re- 
minded me of the kind of life which awaited me in 
m}^ native land. For the first time in the many months 
spent abroad, I was met with proscription Oii account 
of my color. A few weeks before departing from 
England, while in London, I v/as careful to purchase 
a ticket, and secure a berth for returning home, in 
the Cambria — the steamer in which I left the United 
States — paying therefor the round sum of forty 
pounds and nineteen shillings sterling. This was 
first cabin fare. But on going aboard the Cambria, 
I found that the Liverpool agent had ordered my 
berth to be given to another, and had forbidden my 
entering the saloon ! This contemptible conduct met 
with stern rebuke from the British press. For, upon 
the point of leaving England, I took occasion to ex- 
pose the disgusting tyranny, in the columns of the 
London Times. That journal, and other leading 
journals throughout the United Kingdom, held up 
the outrage to unmitigated condemnation. So good 
an opportunity for calling out a full expression of 
British sentiment on the subject, had not before oc- 
curred, and it was most fully embraced. The result 


was, that Mr. Cunard came out in a letter to the pub- 
lic journals, assuring them of his regret at the out- 
rage, and promising that the like should never occur 
again on board his steamers ; and the like, we be- 
lieve, has never since occurred on board the steam- 
shijDs of the Cunard line. 

It is not verj pleasant to be made the subject of 
such insults ; but if all such necessarily resulted as 
this one did, I should be very happy to bear, pa- 
tiently, manj^ more than I have borne, of the same 
sort. Albeit, the lash of proscription, to a man ac- 
customed to equal social position, even for a time, as 
I was, has a sting for the soul hardly less severe than 
that which bites the flesh and draws the blood from 
the back of the plantation slave. It was rather hard, 
after having enjoyed nearl}^ two years of equal social 
privileges in England, often dining with gentlemen 
of great literary, social, political, and religious emi- 
nence — never, during the whole time, having met 
with a single word, look, or gesture, which gave me 
the slightest reason to think my color was an offense 
to anybody — now to be cooped up in the stern of the 
Cambria, and denied the right to enter the saloon, 
lest my dark presence should be deemed an offense 
to some of my democratic fellow-passengers. The 
reader will easily imagine what must have been my 









I HAVE now given tlie reader an imperfect sketch 
of nine years' experience in freedom — three years as 
a common hiborer on the wharves of Xew Bedford, 
four years as a lecturer in ISTew England, and two years 
of semi-exile in Great Britain and Ireland. A single 
ray of light remains to be flung upon my life during 
the last eight years, and my story will be done. 

A trial awaited me on my return from England to 
the United States, for which I was but very imper- 
fectly prepared. My plans for my then future use- 
fulness as an anti-slavery advocate were all settled. 
My friends in England had resolved to raise a given 
sum to purchase for me a press and printing materi- 
als ; and I already saw myself wielding my pen, as 
well as my voice, in the great work of renovating the. 
public mind, and building up a public sentiment 


whicli should, at least, send slavery and oppression 
to tlie grave, and restore to " liberty and the pursuit 
of happiness " the people with whom I had suffered, 
both as a slave and as a freeman. Intimation had 
reached my friends in Boston of what I intended to 
do, before my arrival, and I was prepared to find 
them favorably disposed toward my much cherished 
enterprise. In this I was mistaken. I found them 
very earnestly opposed to the idea of my starting a 
paper, and for several reasons. First, the paper was., 
not needed ; secondly, it would interfere with my 
usefulness as a lecturer ; thirdly, I was better fitted 
to speak than to write ; fourthly, the paper could not 
succeed. This opposition, from a quarter so highly 
esteemed, and to which I had been accustomed to 
look for advice and direction, caused me not onlv to 
hesitate, but inclined me to abandon the enterprise. 
All previous attempts to establish such a journal hav- 
ing failed, I felt that probably I should but add an- 
other to the list of failures, and thus contribute an- 
other proof of the mental and moral deficiencies of 
my race. Yery much that was said to me in respect 
to my imperfect literary acquirements, I felt to be 
most painfully true. The unsuccessful projectors of 
all the previous colored newspapers were my superi- 
ors in point of education, and if they failed, how 
could I hope for success ? Yet I did hope for success, 
and persisted in the undertaking. Some of my En- 
glish friends greatly encouraged me to go forward, 
and I shall never cease to be grateful for their words 
of cheer and generous deeds. 

I can easily pardon those who have denounced me 


as ambitious and presumptuous, in view of my per- 
sistence in this enterprise. I was but nine years 
from slavery. In point of mental experience, I was 
but nine years old. That one, in such circumstances, 
should aspire to establish a printing press, among an 
educated people, might well be considered, if not am- 
bitious, quite silly. My American friends looked at 
me with astonishment! "A wood-sawyer " offering 
himself to the public as an editor ! A slave, brought 
up in the very depths of ignorance, assuming to in- 
struct the highly civilized people of the north in the 
principles of liberty, justice, and humanity ! The 
thing looked absurd, l^evertheless, I persevered. I 
felt that the want of education, great as it was, could 
be overcome by study, and that knowledge would 
come by experience ; and further, (which was per- 
haps the most controlling consideration,) I thought 
that an intelligent public, knowing my earl}^ history, 
would easily pardon a large share of the deficiencies 
which I was sure that my paper would exhibit. Tlie 
most distressing thing, however, was the offense 
which I was about to give my Boston friends, by 
what seemed to them a reckless disregard of their 
sasre advice. I am not sure that I was not under the 
influence of something like a slavish adoration of my 
Boston friends, and I labored hard to convince them 
of the wisdom of my undertaking, but without suc- 
cess. Indeed, I never expect to succeed, although 
time has answered all their original objections. The 
paper has been successful. It' is a large sheet, cost- 
ing eighty dollars ])eY week — has three thousand sub- 
scribers — has been published regularly nearly eight 


years — and bids fair to stand eight years longer. At 
any rate, the eight years to come are as full of prom- 
ise as were the eight that are past. 

It is not to be concealed, however, that the main- 
tenance of such a journal, under the circumstances, 
has been a work of much difficulty ; and could all 
the perplexity, anxiety, and trouble attending it, have 
been clearly foreseen, I might have shrunk from the 
undertaking. As it is, I rejoice in having engaged 
in the enterprise, and count it joy to have been able 
to suffer, in many ways, for its success, and for the 
success of the cause to which it has been faithfully 
devoted. I look upon the time, money, and labor 
bestowed upon it, as being amply rewarded, in the 
development of my own mental and moral energies, 
and in the corresponding development of my deeply 
injured and oppressed people. 

From motives of peace, instead of issuing my pa- 
per in Boston, among my ]^ew England friends, I 
came to Rocliester, Western Xew York, among stran- 
gers, where the circulation of my paper could not in- 
terfere with the local circulation of the Liberator and 
the Standard ; for at that time I was, on the anti-sla- 
very question, a faithful disciple of William Lloyd 
Garrison, and fully committed to his doctrine touch- 
ing the pro-slavery character of the constitution of 
the United States, and the non-voting ])Tinci])le^ of 
which he is the known and distinscuished advocate. 
With Mr. Garrison, I held it to be the first duty of the 
non-slaveholdino; states to dissolve the union with the 
slaveholding states ; and hence my cry, like his, was, 
"ITo union with slaveholders." With these views, I 


came into Western IsTew York ; and during the first 
four years of my labor here, I advocated them with 
pen and tongue, according to the best of my ability. 

About four years ago, upon a reconsideration of the 
whole subject, I became convinced that there was no 
necessity for dissolving the " union between the north- 
ern and southern states ; " that to seek this dissolution 
was no part of my duty as an abolitionist ; that to ab- 
stain from voting, was to refuse to exercise a legiti- 
mate and powerful means for abolishing slavery ; and 
that the constitution of the United States not only 
contained no guarantees in favor of shivery, but, on 
the contrary, it is, in its letter and spirit, an anti-sla- 
very instrument, demanding the abolition of slavery 
as a condition of its own existence, as the supreme 
law of the land. 

Here was a radical change in my opinions, and in 
the action logically resulting from that change. To 
those with whom I had been in asireement and in 
syinpathy, I was now in opposition, What they held 
to be a great and important truth, I now looked upon 
as a dangerous error. A very painful, and yet a very 
natural, thing now happened. Those who could not 
see any honest reasons for changing their views, as I 
had done, could not easily see any such reasons for 
my change, and the common punishment of apos- 
tates was mine. 

The opinions first entertaiued were naturally de- 
rived and honestly entertained, and I trust that my 
present opinions have the same claims to respect. 
Brought directly, when I escaped from slavery, into 
contact with a class of abolitionists regarding the 


constitution as a slaveholding instrument, and finding 
their views supported by the united and entire his- 
tory of every department of the government, it is not 
strange that I assumed the constitution to be just 
what their interpretation made it. I was bound, not 
only by their superior knowledge, to take their opin- 
ions as the true ones, in respect to the subject, but 
also because I had no means of showino- their un- 
soundness. But for the responsibility of conducting 
a public journal, and the necessity imposed upon me 
of meeting opposite views from abolitionists in this 
state, I should in all probability have remained as 
firm in my disunion views as any other disciple of 
William LI >yd Garrison. 

My new circumstances compelled me to re-think 
the whole subject, and to study, with some care, not 
only the just and proper rules of legal interpretation, 
but the origin, design, nature, rights, powers, and du- 
ties of civil government, and also the relations which 
human beings sustain to it. By such a course of 
thought and reading, I was conducted to the conclu- 
sion that the constitution of the United States — inau- 
gurated "to form a more perfect union, establish jus- 
tice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the com- 
mon defense, promote the general welfare, and se- 
cure the blessino^s of libertv" — could not well have 
been designed at the same time to maintain and per- 
petuate a system of rapine and murder like slavery ; 
especially, as not one word can be found in the con- 
stitution to authorize such a belief. Then, again, if 
the declared purposes of an instrument are to govern 
the meaning of all its parts and details, as they clearly 


should, the constitution of our country is our warrant 
for the abolition of slavery in every state in the 
American Union. I mean, hovrever, not to argue, but 
simply to state my views. It would require very 
many pages of a volume like this, to set forth the- ar- 
Q;uments demonstrating the unconstitutionality and the 
complete illegality of slavery in our land ; and as my 
experience, and not my arguments, is within the 
scope and contemplation of this volume, I omit the 
latter and proceed with the former. 

I will now ask the kind reader to go back a little 
in my story, while I bring up a thread left behind for 
convenience sake, but wliich, small as it is, cannot 
be properly omitted altogether ; and that thread is 
American prejudice against color, and its varied il- 
lustrations in my own experience. 

When I first went among the abolitionists of ISTew 
England, and began to travel, I found this prejudice 
very strong and very annoying. The abolitionists 
themselves were not entirely free from it, and I could 
see that they were nobly struggling against it. In 
their eagerness, sometimes, to show their contempt 
for the feeling, they proved that they had not entirely 
recovered from it ; often illustrating the saying, in 
their conduct, that a man may " stand up so straight 
as to lean backward." When it was said to me, " Mr. 
Douglass, I will walk to meeting with you ; I am not 
afraid of a black man," I could not help thinking — 
seeing nothing very frightful in my appearance — 
"And why should you be?" The children at the 
north had all been educated to believe that if they 
were bad, the old Uach man — not the old devil — 


would get them ; and it was evidence of some cour- 
age, for any so educated to get the better of their 

The custom of providing separate cars for the ac- 
commodation of colored travelers, was established on 
nearly all the railroads of New England, a dozen 
years ago. Regarding this custom as fostering the 
spirit of caste, I made it a rule to seat myself in the 
cars f )r the accommodation of passengers generally. 
Thus seated, I was sure to be called upon to betake 
myself to the " Jim Croio carP Refusing to obey, I 
was often dragged out of my seat, beaten, and se- 
verely bruised, by conductors and brakemen. At- 
tempting to start from Lynn, one day, for ISTewbury- 
port, on the Eastern railroad, I went, as my custom 
was, into one of the best railroad carriages on the 
road. The seats were very luxuriant and beautiful. 
I was soon waited upon by the conductor, and or- 
dered out ; whereupon I demanded the reason for my 
invidious removal. After a good deal of parleying, 
I was told that it was because I was black. This I 
denied, and appealed to the company to sustain my 
denial ; but they were evidently unwilling to commit 
themselves, on a point so delicate, and requiring such 
nice powers of discrimination, for they remained as 
dumb as death. I was soon waited on by half a 
dozen fellows of the baser sort, (just such as would 
volunteer to take a bull-dog out of a meeting-house in 
time of public worship,) and told that I must move 
out of that seat, and if I did not, they would drag me 
out. I refused to move, and they clutched me, head, 
neck, and shoulders. But, in anticipation of the 


Btretcliing to wliich I was about to be subjected, I 
had interwoven myself among tlie seats. In drag- 
ging me out, on tliis occasion, it must have cost the 
company twenty-five or thirty dollars, for I tore up 
seats and all. So great was the excitement in Lynn, 
on the subject, that the superintendent, Mr. Stephen 
A. Chase, ordered the trains to run through Lynn 
without stopping, while I remained in that town ; 
and this ridiculous farce was enacted. For several 
days the trains went dashing through Lynn without 
stopping. At the same time that they excluded a 
free colored man from their cars, this same company 
allowed slaves, in comj^any with their masters and 
mistresses, to ride unmolested. 

After many battles with the railroad conductors, 
and being roughly handled in not a few instances, 
proscription was at last abandoned ; and the " Jim 
Crow car" — set up for the degradation of colored 
people — is nowhere found in New England. This 
result was not brought about w^ithout the interven- 
tion of the people, and the threatened enactment of 
a law compelling railroad companies to respect the 
rio^hts of travelers. Hon. Charles Francis Adams 
performed signal service in the Massachusetts legis- 
lature, in bringing about this reformation ; and to 
him the colored citizens of that state are deeply in- 

Although often annoyed, and sometimes outraged, 
by this prejudice against color, I am indebted to it 
for many passages of quiet amusement. A half-cured 
subject of it is sometimes driven into awkward straits, 


especially if he happens to get a genuine specimen 
of the race into his house. 

In the summer of 1843, I was traveling and lectur- 
ing, in company with William A. White, Esq., 
through the state of Indiana. Anti-slavery friends 
were not very abundant in Indiana, at that time, and 
beds were not more plentiful than friends. We often 
slept out, in preference to sleeping in the houses, at 
some points. At the close of one of our meetings, we 
were invited home with a kindly-disposed old farmer, 
who, in the generous enthusiasm of the moment, 
seemed to have forgotten that he had but one spare 
bed, and that his guests were an ill-matched pair. 
All went on pretty well, till near bed time, when 
signs of uneasiness began to show, themselves, among 
the unsophisticated sons and daughters. White is 
remarkably fine looking, and very evidently a born 
gentleman ; tlie idea of putting us in the same bed 
was hardly to be tolerated ; and yet, there we were, 
and but the one bed for us, and that, by the way, was 
in the same room occupied by the other members of 
the family. White, as well as I, perceived the diffi- 
culty, for yonder slept the old folks, there the sons, 
and a little farther along slept the daughters ; and 
but one other bed remained. Who should have this 
bed, was the puzzling question. There was some 
whispering between the old folks, some confused looks 
among the young, as the time for going to bed ap- 
proached. After witnessing the confusion as long as 
I liked, I relieved the kindly-disposed family by play- 
fully saying, ''Friend White, having got entirely rid of 
my prejudice against color, I think, as a proof of it, I 



must allow you to sleep with me to-niglit." White 
kept up the joke, bj seeming to esteem liimself . the 
favored party, and thus the difficulty was removed. 
If we went to a liotel, and called for dinner, the land- 
lord was sure to set one table for White and another 
for me, always taking him to be master, and me the 
servant. Large eyes were generally made when the 
order was given to remove the dishes from my table 
to that of White's. In those dav;^, it was thono^ht 
strano-e that a white man and a colored man could 
dine peaceably at the same table, and in some parts 
the strangeness of such a sight has not entirely sub- 

Some people will have it that there is a natural, an 
inherent, and an invincible repugnance in the breast 
of the white race toward dark-colored j^eople ; and 
some very intelligent colored men think that their 
proscription is owing solely to the color which na- 
ture has given tliem. They hold that they are rated 
according to their color, and that it is impossible for 
white people ever to look upon dark races of men, or 
men belonging to the African race, with other than 
feelings of aversion. My experience, both serious 
and mirthful, combats this conclusion. Leaving out 
of sight, for a moment, grave facts, to this point, 
I will state one or two, which illustrate a very inter- 
esting feature of Am'erican character as well as Amer- 
ican prejudice. Riding from Boston to Albany, a 
few years ago, I found myself in a large car, well 
filled with passengers. The seat next to me was 
about the only vacant one. At ever}^ stopping place 
we took in new passengers, all of whom, on reaching 


the seat next to me, cast a disdainful glance npon it, 
and passed to another car, leaving me in the full en- 
joj^ment of a whole form. For a time, I did not 
know but that mj riding there was prejudicial to the 
interest of the railroad company. A circumstance 
occurred, however, which gave me an elevated posi- 
tion at once. Among the passengers on this train 
was Gov. George X. Briggs. I was not acquainted 
with him, and had no idea that I was known to him. 
Known to him, however, I was, for upon observing 
me, the governor left his place, and making his way 
toward me, respectfully asked the privilege of a seat 
by my side ; and npon introducing himself, we en- 
tered into a conversation very pleasant and instruct- 
ive to me. The despised seat now became honored. 
His excellency had removed all the prejudice against 
sitting by the side of a negro ; and nj^on his leaving 
it, as he did, on reaching Pittsfiekl, there were at 
least one dozen applicants for the place. The gov- 
ernor had, without changing my skin a single shade, 
made the place resjjectable which before was des- 

A similar incident happened to me once on the 
Boston and Xew Bedford railroad, and the leading 
party to it has since been governor of the state of 
Massachusetts. I allude to Col. John Henry Clifford. 
Lest the reader may fancy I am aiming to elevate 
myself, by claiming too much intimacy with great 
men, I must state -that my only acquaintance with 
Cc'l. Clifford was formed while I wdshis hired servant^ 
during the first winter of my escape from slavery. I 
owe it him to say, that in that relatioii I found him 


always kind and gentlemanly. But to the incident. 
I entered a car at Boston, for Isew Bedford, "which, 
with the exception of a single seat, was full, and 
found I must occupy this, or stand up, during the 
journey. Having no mind to do this, I stepped up 
to the man having the next seat, and wlio had a few 
parcels on the seat, and gently asked leave to take a 
seat by his side. My fellow-passenger gave me a 
look made up of reproach and indignation, and asked 
me why I should come to that particular seat. I as- 
sured him, in the gentlest manner, that of all others 
this was the seat for me. Finding that I was actu- 
ally about to sit down, he sang out, " O ! stop, stop ! 
and let me get out ! " Suiting the action to the word, 
up the agitated man got, and sauntered to the other 
end of the car, and was compelled to stand for most 
of the way thereafter. Half-way to l^ew Bedford, or 
more. Col. Clifibrd, recognizing me, left his seat, and 
not having seen me before since I had ceased to wait 
on him, (in everything except hard arguments against 
his pro-slavery position,) apparently forgetful of his 
rank, manifested, in greeting me, something of the 
feeling of an old friend. This demonstration was not 
lost on the gentleman whose dignity I had, an hour 
before, most seriously offended. Col. Clifford was 
known to be about the most aristocratic gentleman in 
Bristol county ; and it was evidently thought that I 
must be somebody, else I should not have been thus 
noticed, by a person so distinguished. Sure enough, af- 
ter Col. Clifford leftmCj I found myself surrounded with 
friends ; and among the number, my offended friend 
stood nearest, and with an apology for his rudeness, 


which I could not resist, although it was one of the 
lamest ever offered. With such facts as these before 
me — and I have many of them — I am inclined to 
think that pride and fashion have much to do with 
the treatment commonly extended to colored people 
in the United States. I once heard a very plain man 
say, (and he was cross-eyed, and awkwardly flung to- 
gether in other resj)ects,) that he should be a hand- 
some man when public opinion shall be changed. 

Since I have been editing and publishing a journal 
devoted to the cause of liberty and progress, I have 
had my mind more directed to the condition and cir- 
cumstances of the free colored people than when I 
was the agent of an abolition society. The result has 
been a corresponding change in the disposition of my 
time and labors. I have felt it to be a part of my 
mission — under a gracious Providence — to impress 
m}^ sable brothers in this country with the convic- 
tion that, notwithstanding the ten thousand discour- 
agements and the powerful hinderances, which beset 
their existence in this country — notwithstanding the 
blood-written history of Africa, and her children, 
from whom we have descended, or the clouds and 
darkness, (whose stillness and gloom are made only 
more awful by wrathful thunder and lightning,) now 
overshadowing them — progress is yet possible, and 
bright skies shall yet shine upon their pathway ; and 
that " Ethiopia shall yet reach forth her hand unto 

Believing that one of the best means of emancijoa- 
ting the slaves of the south is to improve and elevate 
the character of the free colored people of the north 


I shall labor in the future, as I have labored in the 
past, to promote the moral, social, religions, and in- 
tellectual elevation of the free colored people ; never 
forgetting my own humble origin, nor refusing, while 
Heaven lends me ability, to use my voice, my pen, or 
my vote, to advocate the great and primary work of 
the universal and unconditional emancipation of my 
entire race. / 





Mr. Douglass rose amid loud clieers, and said : I feel exceed- 
ingly glad of the opportunity now afforded me of presenting the 
claims of my brethren in bonds in the United States, to so many in 
London and from various parts of Britain, who have assembled here 
on the present occasion. I have nothing to commend me to your 
consideration in the way of leaiming, nothing in the way of educa- 
tion, to entitle me to your attention ; and you are aware that sla- 
very is a very bad school for rearing teachers of morality and reli- 
gion. Twenty-one years of my life have been spent in slavery — 
personal §laver\^ — surrounded by degrading influences, such as can 
exist nowhere beyond the pale of slavery ; and it will not be strange, 
if under such circumstances, I should betray, in what I have to say 
to vou, a deficiency of that refinement which is seldom or ever 
found, except among persons that have experienced superior advan- 
tages to those which I have enjoyed. But I will take it for granted 
that you know something about the degrading influences of sla- 
\evy, and that you will not expect great things from me this eve- 
ning, but simply such facts as I may be able to advance immedi- 
ately in connection with my own experience of slavery. 

* Mr. Douglass'' published speeches alone, would fill two volumes of the size of this. 
Our space will only permit the insertion of the extracts which follow; and which, 
for originality of thought, beauty and force of expression, and for impassioned, in- 
dignatory eloquence, have seldom been eq^ualed. 


Xow, what is this system of slavery? This is the subject oi ./ly 
leettire this evening — what is the character of this institution ? I 
am about to answer the inquir}-, what is American slavery-? I Jo 
this the more readily, since I have found persons in this country 
who have identified the term slavery with that which I think it is 
not, and in some instances, I have feared, in so doing, have rather 
(unwittingly, I know,) detracted much from' the horror with which 
the term slavery is contemplated. It is common in this country to 
distinguish every bad thing by the name of slavery. Intemper- 
ance is slavery' ; to be deprived of the right to vote is slaver}', savs 
one; to have to work hard is slavery, says another; and I do not 
know but that if we should let them go on, they would say that to 
eat when we are hungry, to walk when we desire to have exercise, 
or to minister to our necessities, or have necessities at all, is slavery. 
I do not wish for a moment to detract from the horror with which 
the evil of intemperance is contemplated — not at all ; nor do I wish 
to throw the slightest obstruction in the way of any political free- 
dom that any class of persons in this country may desire to obtain. 
But I am here to say that I think the term slavery is sometimes 
abused by identifying it with that which it is not. Slavery in the 
United States is the granting of that power by which one man ex- 
ercises and enforces a right of property in the body and soul of an- 
other. The condition of a slave is simply that of the brute beast, 
lie is a piece of property — a marketable commodity, in the lan- 
guage of the law, to be bought or sold at the will and caprice of 
the master who claims him to be his property; he is spoken of, 
thought of, and treated as propert}'. His own good, his conscience, 
his intellect, his affections, are all set aside by the master. The 
Avill and the wishes of the master are the law of the slave. He is 
as much a piece of property as a horse. If he is fed, he is fed be- 
cause he is property. If he is clothed, it is with a view to the in- 
crease of his value as property. "Whatever of comfort is necessary 
to him for his body or soul that is inconsistent with his being prop- 
erty, is carefull}'^ wrested from him, not only by public opinion, but 
by the law of the country. He is carefully deprived of everything 
that tends in the slightest degree to detract from his value as prop- 
erty. He is deprived of education. God has given him an intel- 
lect ; the slaveholder declares it shall not be cultivated. If Iiis 
moral perception leads him in a course contrary to his value aa 


property, the slaveholder declares he shall not exercise it The 
marriage institution cannot exist ataong slaves, and one -sixth of the 
population of democratic America is denied its privileges by the 
law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation boasting of its 
liberty, boasting of its humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boast- 
ins: of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own 
boi'ders three millions of persons denied by law the right of mar- 
riage ? — what must be the condition of that people? I need not 
lift up the veil by giving you any experience of my own. Every 
one that can put two ideas together, must see the most fearful re- 
sults from such a state of things as I have just mentioned. If any 
of these three millions find for themselves companions, and prove 
themselves honest, upright, virtuous persons to each other, yet in 
these cases — few as I am bound to confess they are — the virtuous 
live in constant ai">prehension of being torn asunder by the merci- 
less men-stealers that claim them as their property. This is Amer- 
ican slavery ; no marriage — ^no education — the light of the gospel 
shut out from the dark mind of the bondman — and he forbidden by 
law to learn to read. If a mother shall teach her children to read, 
the law in Louisiana proclaims that she may be hanged by the neck. 
If the father attempt to give his son a knowledge of letters, he may 
be punished by the whip in one instance, and in another be killed, 
at the discretion of the court. Three millions of people shut out 
from the light of knowledge! It is easy for you to conceive the 
evil that must result from such a state of things. 

I now come to the physical evils of slavery. I do not wish to 
dwell at length upon these, but it seems right to speak of them, not 
so much to influence your minds on this question, as to let the slave- 
holders of America know that the curtain which conceals their 
crimes is being lifted abroad; that we are opening the dark cell, 
and leading the people into the horrible recesses of what they are 
pleased to call their domestic institution. We want them to know 
that a knowledge of their whippings, their seourgings, their brand- 
ings, their ehainings, is not confined to their plantations, but that 
some negro of theirs has broken loose from his chains — has burst 
through the dark incrustation of slavery, and is now exposing their 
deeds of deep damnation to the gaze of the christian people of 

The slaveholders resort to all kinds of cruelty. If I were dis- 
posed, I have matter enough to interest you on this question for 


five or six evenings, but I "will not dwell at length npon these cru- 
elties. Suffice it to say, that all the peculiar modes of torture that 
were resorted to in the West India islands, are resorted to, I be- 
lieve, even more frequentl}', in the United States of America. Star- 
vation, the bloody whip, the chain, the gfig, the thumb-screw, cat- 
hauling, the cat-o'-nine-tails, the dungeon, the blood-hound, are all 
in requisition to keep the slave in his condition as a slave in the 
United States. If any one has a doubt upon this point, I would 
ask hiiu to read the chapter on slavery in Dickens's Notes on Amer- 
ica. If any man has a doubt upon it, I have here the "testimony 
of a thousand witnesses," which I can give at any length, all going 
to prove the truth of my statement. The blood-hound is regularly 
trained in the United States, and advertisements are to be found in 
the southern papers of the Union, from persons advertising them- 
selves as blood-hound trainers, and offering to hunt down slaves at 
fifteen dollars a piece, recommending their hounds as the fleetest in 
the neighborhood, never known to fail. Advertisements are from 
time to time inserted, stating that slaves have escaped with iron 
collars about their necks, with bands of iron about their feet, marked 
with the lash, branded with red-hot irons, the initials of their mas- 
ter's name burned into their flesh ; and the masters advertise the 
fact of their being thus branded with their own signature, thereby 
proving to the world, that, however damning it may appear to 
non-slaveholders, such practices are not regarded discreditable 
among the slaveholders themselves. Wh^^, I believe if a man 
should brand his horse in this country — burn the initials of his 
name into any of his cattle, and publish the ferocious deed here — 
that the united execrations of christians in Britain Avould descend 
upon him. Yet, in the United States, human beings are thus brand- 
ed. As Whittier sa3^s — 

"... Our eountrymon In elia!ns, 
Tlie whip on woman's shrinkin? flesh, 
Our soil j'et reddening with the stains 

Caught from her scourgings warm and fresh." 

The slave-dealer boldl}" publishes his infamous acts to the world. 
Of all things that have been said of slavery to which exception has 
been taken b}" slaveholders, this, the charge of cruelt}", stands fore- 
most, and yet there is no charge capable of clearer demonstration, 
fclian that of the most barbarous inhumanity on tlie part of the slave- 


nolders toward their slaves. And all this is necessary; it is ne- 
cessary to resort to these cruelties, in order to make the slave a slave, 
and to keep him a slave. Why, my experience all goes to prove the 
truth of what you will call a marvelous proposition, that the bet- 
ter you treat a slave, the more you destroy his value as a slave, and 
enhance the probability of his eluding the grasp of the slaveholder ; 
the more kindly you treat him, the more wretched you make him, 
while you keep him in the condition of a slave. My experience, I 
sa}'', confirms the truth of this propostion. "When I was treated ex- 
ceedingly ill ; when my back was being scourged daily ; when I was 
whipped within an inch of my life — life was all I cared for. "Spare 
my life," was my continual prayer. "When I was looking for the 
blow about to be inflicted upon my head, I was not thinking of my 
liberty ; it was my life. But, as soon as the blow was not to be 
feared, then came the longing for liberty. If a slave has a bad mas- 
ter, his ambition is to get a better ; when he gets a better, he as- 
pires to have the best ; and when he gets the best, he aspires to be 
his own master. But the slave must be brutalized to keep him as a 
slave. The slaveholder feels this necessit}". I admit this necessity. 
If it be right to hold slaves at all, it is right to hold them in the 
only wa}' in whicli tliey can be held; and this can be done only by 
shutting out the light of education from their minds, and brutali- 
zing their persons. The whip, the chain, the gag, the thumb-screw, 
the blood-houud, the stocks, and all the other bloody paraphernalia 
of the slave system, are indispensably necessar}' to the relation of 
master and slave. The slave must be subjected to these, or he 
ceases to be a slave. Let him know that the whip is burned; that 
the fetters have been turned to some useful and profitable employ- 
ment ; that the chain is no longer for his limbs ; that the blood- 
hound is no longer to be put upon his track; that his master's au- 
thority over liim is no longer to be enforced by taking his life — and 
immediately he walks out from the house of bondage and asserts 
his freedom as a man. The slaveholder finds it necessary to have 
these implements to keep the slave in bondage ; finds it necessary 
to be able to say, "Unless you do so and so; unless 3-ou do as I bid 
you — I vv'ill take away your life! " 

Some of the most awful scenes of cruelty are constantly taking 
place in the middle states of the Union. "We have in those states 
what are called the slave-breeding states. Allow me to speak 
plainly. Although it is harrowing to your feelings, it is ne-^e.^^ar^ 

•1:12 APPENDIX. 

that the facts of the case should be stated. We have in the United 
States slave-breeding states. The very state from which the minis- 
ter from our court to j'ours comes, is one of these states — Maryland, 
■where men, women, and children are reared for the market, just as 
horses, sheep, and swine are raised for the market. Slave-rearing 
is there looked upon as a legitimate trade; the law sanctions it, 
public opinion upholds it, the church does not condemn it. It goes 
on in all its bloody horrors, sustained by the auctioneer's block. If 
you would see the cruelties of this system, hear the following nar- 
rative, xsot long since the following scene occurred. A slave- 
woman and a slave^man had united themselves as man and wife in 
the absence of any law to protect them as man and wife. They 
had lived together by the permission, not by right, of their master, 
and they had reared a family. The master found it expedient, and 
for his interest, to sell them. He did not ask them their wishes 
in regard to the matter at all ; they were not consulted. The man 
and woman were brought to the auctioneer's block, under the sound 
of the hammer. The cry was I'aised, " Here goes ; who bids cash ? " 
Think of it — a man and wife to be sold! The woman was placed 
on the auctioneer's block ; her limbs, as is customary, were brutally 
exposed to the purchasers, who examined her with all the freedom 
with which they would examine a horse. There stood the husband, 
powerless; no right to his wife; the master's right preeminent. 
She was sold. He was next brought to the auctioneer's block. Plis 
eyes followed his wife in the distance ; and he looked beseechingly, 
imploringl}', to the man that had bought his wife, to buy him also. 
But he was at length bid off to another person. He was about to 
be separated forever from her he loved. No word of his, no work 
of his, could save him from this separation. He asked permission 
of his new master to go and take the hand of his wife at parting. 
It was denied him. In the agony of his soul he rushed from the 
man who had just bought him, that he might take a farewell of his 
wife ; but his way was obstructed, he was struck over the head with 
a loaded whip, and was held for a moment ; but his agon}" was too 
great. When he was let go, he fell a corpse at the feet of his mas- 
ter. His heart was broken. Such scenes are the everj'-day fruits 
of American slavery. Some two years since, the Hon. Seth M. 
Gates, an anti-slavery gentleman of the state of Xew York, a rep- 
resentative in the congress of the United States, told me he saw 
"with his own eyes the following circumstance. In the national 


District of Columbia, over v/liich the star-spangled emblem is con- 
stanth' waving, where orators are ever holding forth on the sub- 
ject of American liberty, American democracy, American republi- 
canism, there are two slave prisons, "When going across a bridge, 
leading to one of these prisons, he saw a young woman run out, 
bare-footed and bare-headed, and with very little clothing on. She 
■was running with all speed to the bridge he v/as approaching. His 
eye was fixed upon her, and he stopped to see what was the mat- 
ter. He had not paused long before he saw three men run out af- 
ter her. He now knew what the nature of the case was ; a slave 
escaping from her chains — a young woman, a sister — escaping from 
the bondage in which she had been held. She made her way to the 
bridge, but had not reached it, ere from the A'irginia side there 
came two slaveholders. As soon as they saw them, her pursuers 
called out, "Stop her!" True to their Virginian instincts, they 
came to the rescue of their brother kidnappers, across the bridge. 
riie poor girl now saw that there was no chance for her. It was a 
trying time. She knew if she went back, she must be a slave forever 
— she must be dragged down to the scenes of pollution whicli the 
slaveholders continually provide for most of the poor, sinking, 
wretched young women, whom they call their property. She 
formed her resolution ; and just as those who were about to take 
her, were going to put hands upon her, to drag her back, she leaped 
over the balustrades of the bridge, and down she went to rise no 
more. She chose death, rather than to go back into the hands of 
those christian slaveholders from whom she had escaped. 

Can it be i^ossible that such things as these exist in the United 
States ? Are not these the exceptions ? Are any such scenes as this 
general ? Are not such deeds condemned by the law and -denounced 
by public opinion? Let me read to you a few of the laws of the 
slaveholding states of America. I think no better exposure of sla- 
very can be made than is made by the laws of the states in which 
slavery exists. I prefer reading the laws to making any statement 
in confirmation of what I have said myself; for the slaveholders 
cannot object to this testimony, since it is the calm, the cool, the 
deliberate enactment of thiir wisest heads, of their most clear- 
sighted, their own constituted representatives. "If more than 
seven slaves together are fo\md in any road without a white per- 
son, twenty laslies a piece ; for visiting a plantation without a writ- 
ten pass, ten lashes ; for lettii^.g loose a boat from where it is made 


fast, thirty-nine lashes for the first offense; and for the second, 
shall have cut off from his head one ear; for keeping or carrying 
a club, thirty-nine laslies; for having any article for sale, without 
a ticket from his master, ten lashes; for traveling in any other tlian 
the most usual and accustomed road, when going alone to any place, 
forty lashes; for traveling in the night without a pass, forty lashes." 
I am afraid you do not understand the awful character of these 
lashes. You must bring it before your mind. A human being in 
a perfect state of nudity, tied hand and foot to a stake, and a strong 
man standing behind with a heavy whip, knotted at the end, each 
blow cutting into the flesh, and leaving the warm blood dripping 
to the feet; and for these trifles. "For being found in another per- 
son's negro-quarters, forty lashes ; for hunting with dogs in tlie 
the woods, thirty lashes; for being on horseback without the writ- 
ten permission of his master, twenty-five lashes; for riding or go- 
ing abroad in the night, or riding horses in the day time, without 
leave, a slave may be whipped, cropped, or branded in the cheek 
with the letter R, or otherwise punished, such punishment not 
extending to life, or so as to render him unfit for labor." The laws 
referred to, may be found by consulting Brevard's Digest ; Hay- 
wood's Manual; Virginia Revised Code; Prince's Digest ; Missouri 
Laws; Mississippi Revised Code. A man, for going to visit his 
brethren, without the permission of his master — and in many in- 
stances he may not have that permission ; his master, from caprice 
or other reasons, may not be willing to allow it — may be caught on 
his way, dragged to a post, the branding-iron heated, and the name 
of his master or the letter R branded into his cheek or on his fore- 
head. They treat slaves thus, on the principle that they must pun- 
ish fur light offenses, in order to prevent the commission of larger 
ones. I wish you to mark that in the single state of Virginia there 
are seventy-one crimes for which a colored man may be executed ; 
while there are only three of these crimes, which, when committed 
by a white man, will subject him to that punishment. There are 
many of these crimes which if the white man did not commit, he 
would be regarded as a scoundrel and a coward. In the state of 
Maryland, there is a law to this effect : that if a slave shall strike 
his master, he may be hanged, his head severed from his bod3% his 
body quartererl, and his head and quarters setup in the most prom- 
inent places in the neighborhood. If a colored woman, in the de- 
fense of her own virtue, in defense of her own person, should shield 


herself from the brutal attacks of her tyrannical master, or make 
the slightest resistance, she may be killed on the spot, No law 
■whatever will bring the guilty man to justice for the crime. 

But you will ask me, can these things be possible in a land pro- 
fessing Christianity? Yes, they are so; and this is not the worst. 
ISTo ; a darker feature is yet to be presented than the mere existence 
of tliese facts. I have to inform 30U that the religion of the south- 
ern states, at this time, is the great supporter, the great sauctioner 
of the blood}' atrocities to which I have referred. While America 
is printing tracts and bibles ; sending missionaries abroad to con- 
vert the heathen ; expending her money in various ways for the 
promotion of the gospel in foreign lands — the slave not only lies 
forgotten, uncared for, but is trampled under foot by the very 
churches of the land. What have we in America? Whv, we have 
slavery made part of the religion of the land. Yes, the pulpit tliere 
stands up as the great defender of this cursed institution, as it is 
called. Ministers of religion come forward and torture the hal- 
lowed pages of inspired wisdom to sanction the bloody deed. They 
stand fortli as the foremost, the strongest defenders of this ''institu- 
tion." As a proof of this, I need not do more than state the general 
fact, that slavery has existed under the droppings of the sanctuary 
of the south for the last two hundred years, and there has not been 
any war between the religian and the slavery oi the south. Whips, 
chains, gags, and thumb-screws liave all lain under the droppings 
of the sanctuary, and instead of rusting from off the limbs of the 
bondman, those droppings have served to preserve them in all their 
strength. Instead of preaching the gospel against this tyranny, re- 
buke, and wrong, ministers of religion have sought, by all and every 
means, to throw in the back-ground whatever in the bible could be 
construed into opposition to slavery, and to bring forward that 
which they could torture into its support. This I conceive to be 
the darkest feature of slavery, and the most difficult to attack, be- 
cause it is identified with religion, and exposes those who denounce 
it to the charge of infidelity. Yes, those with whom I have been 
laboring, namely, the old organization anti-slavery society of Amer- 
ica, have been again and again stigmatized as infidels, and for what 
reason ? Why, solely in consequence of the faithfulness of their at- 
tacks upon the slaveholding religion of the southern states, and the 
northern religion that sympathizes with it. I have found it diffi- 
cult to speak on this matter without persons coming forward and 


Baying, "Douglass, are you not afraid of injuring the cause of 
Christ? You do not desire to do so, -we know; but are you not un- 
dermining religion?" This has been said to me again and again, 
even since I came to this country, but I cannot be induced to leave 
off these exposures. I love the religion of our blessed Savior. I 
love that religion that comes from above, in the "wisdom of God. 
■which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated. 
full of mercy and good fruits, without pai'tiality and without hy- 
pocrisy, I love that religion that sends its votaries to bind up the 
wounds of him that has fallen among thieves. I love that religion 
that makes it the duty of its disciples to visit the fatherless and the 
widow in their affliction. I love that religion that is based upon 
the glorious principle, of love to God and love to man ; which makes 
its followers do unto others as they themselves would be done by. 
If you demand liberty to yourself, it saj'S, grant it to your neigh- 
bors. If you claim a right to think for yourself, it says, allow your 
neighbors the same right. If you claim to act for yourself, it says, 
allow 3'our neighbors the same right. It is because I love this re- 
ligion that I hate the slaveholding, the woman-whipping, the mind- 
darkening, the soul-destroying religion that exists in the southern 
states of America. It is because I regard the one as good, and pure, 
and holy, that I cannot but regard the other as bad, corrupt, and 
wicked. Loving the one I must hate the other; holding to the one 
I must reject the other. 

I may be asked, why I am so anxious to bring this subject before 
the British public — why I do not confine my efforts to the United 
States? My answer is, first, that slavery is the common enemy of 
mankind, and all mankind should be made acquainted with its 
abominable character. My next answer is, that the slave is a man, 
and, as such, is entitled to your sympathy as a brother. All tlio 
feelings, all the susceptibilities, all the capacities, which you have, 
he has. He is a part of the human famil3^ He has been the prey 
— the common prey — of Christendom for the last three hundred 
years, and it is but right, it is but just, it is but proper, that his 
wrongs should be known throughout the world. I have another 
reason for bringing this matter before the British public, and it is 
this: slaverj is a system of wrong, so blinding to all around, so 
hardening to the heart, so corrupting to the morals, so deleterious 
to religion, so sapping to all the principles of justice in its immedi- 
ate vicinity, that the community surrounding it lack the moral 


stamina necessary to its removal. It is a system of such gigantic evil, 
so strong, so overwhelming in its power, that no one nation is equal 
to its removal. It requires the humanity of Christianity, the morality 
of the world to remove it. Hence, I call upon the people of Britain to 
look at this matter, and to exert tlie influence I am about to show 
they possess, for the removal of slavery from America. I can appeal 
to them, as strongly by their regard for the slaveholder as for the 
slave, to labor in this cause. I am here, because you have an in- 
fluence on America that no other nation can have. You have been 
drawn together by the power of steam to a marvelous extent; the 
distance between London and Boston is now reduced to some twelve 
or fourteen days, so that the denunciations against slavery, uttered 
in London this week, may be heard in a fortnight in the streets of 
Boston, and reverberating amidst the hills of Massachusetts. There 
is nothing said here against slavery that will not be recorded in 
the L'nited States. I am here, also, because the slaveholders do not 
want me to be here ; they would rather that I were not here. I 
have adopted a maxim laid down by Xapoleon, never to occupy 
ground which the enemy would like me to occupy. The slave- 
holders would much rather have me, if I will denounce slavery, de- 
nounce it in the northern states, where their friends and supporters 
are, who will stand by and mob me for denouncing it. They feel 
something as the man felt, when he uttered his pra3^er, in which he 
made out a most horrible case for himself, and one of his neighbors 
touched him and said, "My friend, I always had the opinion of 3"ou 
that you have now expressed for yourself — that you are a very 
great sinner." Coming from himself, it was all very well, but com- 
ing from a stranger it was rather cutting. The slaveholders felt 
that when slavery was denounced among themselves, it was not so 
bad; but let one of the slaves get loose, let him summon the people 
of Britain, and make known to them the conduct of the slavehold- 
ers toward their slaves, and it cuts them to the quick, and pro- 
duces a sensation such as would be produced by nothing else. The 
power I exert now is something like the power that is exerted by 
the man at the end of the lever; m}' influence now is just in pro- 
portion to the distance that I am from the United States. My ex- 
posure of slavery abroad will tell more upon the heaits and con- 
sciences of slaveholders, than if I was attacking them in America; 
for almost every paper that I now receive from the United States, 
comes teeming with statements about this fugitive negro, calling 


him a " glib-tongued scoundrel," and saying that he is running out 
against the institutions and people of America. I deny the charge 
that I am saying a word against the institutions of America, or the 
people, as such. What I have to say is against slavery and slave- 
holders. I feel at liberty to speak on this subject. I have on my 
back the marks of the lash ; I have four sisters and one brother now 
under the galling chain. I feel it my duty to cry aloud and spare 
not. I am not averse to having tlie good opinion of my fellow- 
creatures. I am not averse to being kindly regarded by all men ; 
but I am bound, even at the hazard of making a large class of reli- 
gionists in this country hate me, oppose me, and malign me as they 
have done — I am bound by the prayers, and tears, and entreaties of 
three millions of kneeling bondsmen, to have no compromise with 
men who are in an}- shape or form connected with the slaveholders 
of America. I expose slavery in this country, because to expose it 
is to kill it. Slaver}' is one of those monsters of darkness to whom 
the light of truth is death. Expose slavery, and it dies. Light is 
to slavery what the heat of the sun is to the root of a tree ; it must 
die under it. All the slaveholder asks of me is silence. He does 
not ask rae to go abroad and preach i7i favor of slavery ; he does not 
ask any one to do that. He would not say that slavery is a good 
thing, but the best under the circumstances. The slaveholders want 
total darkness on the subject. They want the hatchway shut 
down, that the monster ma}' crawl in his den of darkness, crushing 
human hopes and happiness, destroying the bondman at will, and 
having no one to reprove or rebuke him. Slavery shrinks from the 
light; it hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest its deeds 
should be reproved. To tear off the mask from this abominable 
system, to expose it to the light of heaven, aye, to the heat of the 
sun, that it may burn and wither it out of existence, is my object 
in coming to this country. I want the slaveholder surrounded, as 
by a wall of anti-slavery fire, so that he may see the condemnation 
of himself and his system glaring down in letters of light. I want 
him to feel that he has no sympathy in England, Scotland, or Ire- 
land; that he has none in Canada, none in Mexico, none among the 
poor wild Indians ; that the voice of the civilized, aye, and savage 
world is against him. I would have condemnation blaze down upon 
him in every direction, till, stunned and overwhelmed with shame 
and confusion, he is compelled to let go the grasp he holds upon 
the persons of his victims, and restore them to their long-lost rights. 



From Rev. Dr. Campbell's brilliant reply we extract the 
following : 

Frederick Douglass, the "beast of burden," the portion of "goods 
and chattels," the representative of three millions of men, has beea 
aised up! Shall I sa}^ the man? If there is a man on earth, he is 
a man. My blood boiled within me when I heard his address to- 
night, and thought that he had left behind him three millions of 
such men. 

"We must see more of this man ; we must have more of this man. 
One would have taken a voj'age round the globe some forty years 
back — especially since the introduction of steam — to have heard 
such an exposure of slavery from the lips of a slave. It will be an 
era in the individual history of the present assembly. Our chil- 
dren — our boys and girls — I have to-night seen the delightful sym- 
pathy of their hearts evinced by their heaving breasts, while their 
eves sparkled with wonder and admiration, that this black man — 
this slave — had so much logic, so much wit, so much fancy, so much 
eloquence. He was something more than a man, according to their 
little notions. Then, I say, we must hear him again. "We have got 
a purpose to accomplish. He has appealed to the pulpit of England. 
The English pulpit is with him. He has appealed to the press of 
England ; the press of England is conducted by English hearts, and 
that press will do him justice. About ten da3's hence, and his sec- 
ond master, who may well prize "such a piece of goods," will have 
the pleasure of reading his burning words, and his first master will 
bless himself that he has got quit of him. We have to create pub- 
lic opinion, or rather, not to create it, for it is created already ; but 
we have to foster it; and when to-night I heard those magnificent 
words — the words of Curran, by which my heart, from boyhood, 
has ofttimes been deeply moved — I rejoice to think that they em- 
body an instinct of an Englishman's nature. I heard, with inex- 
pressible delight, how they told on this mighty mass of the citizens 
of the metropolis. 

Britain has now no slaves ; we can therefore talk to the other 
nations now, as we could not have talked a dozen years ago. I want 
the whole of the London ministry to meet Douglass. For as his ap- 
peal is to England, and throughout England, I should rejoice in the 


idea of diurchmen and dissenters merging all sectional distinctions 
in this cause. Let us have a public breakfast. Let the ministei's 
meet .him ; 'let them hear him ; let them grasp his hand; and let 
him enlist their sympathies on behalf of the slave. Let him in- 
spire them with abhorrence of the man-stealer — the slaveholder. 
No slaveholding American shall ever my cross my door. No slave- 
holding or slavery-supporting minister shall ever pollute my pulpit. 
While I have a tongue to speak, or a hand to write, 1 will, to the 
utmost of my power, oppose these slaveholding men. We must 
have Douglass amongst us to aid in fostering public opinion. 

The great conflict with slaverj' must now take place in America; 
and while they are adding other slave states to the Union, our 
business is to step forward and help the abolitionists there. It is a 
pleasing circumstance that such a body of men has risen in Amer- 
ica, and whilst we hurl our thunders against her slavers, let us 
make a distinction between those who advocate slavery and those 
who oppose it. George Thompson lias been there. This man, 
Frederick Douglass, has been there, and has been compelled to flee. 
I wish, when he first set foot on our shores, he had made a solemn 
vow, and said, "Xow that I am free, and in the sanctuary of free- 
dom, I will never retiirn till I have seen the emancipation of my 
country' completed." He wants to surround these men, the slave- 
holders, as b}^ a wall of fire ; and he himself may do much toward 
kindling it. Let him travel over the island — east, west, north, and 
south — everywhere diff"using knowledge and awakening principle, 
till the whole nation become a bod}^ of petitioners to America. He 
will, he must, do it. He must for a season make England his home. 
He must send for his wife. He must send for his children. I want to 
see the sons and daughters of such a sire. We, too, must do something 
for him and them worthy of the English name. I do not like the 
idea of a man of such mental dimensions, such moral courage, and 
all but incomparable talent, having his own small wants, and the 
wants of a distant wife and children, supplied by the poor profits of 
his publication, the sketch of his life. Let the pamphlet be bought 
by tens of thousands. But we will do something more for him, 
shall we not? 

It only remains that we pass a resolution of thanks to Frederick 
Douglass, the slave that was, the man that is! He that was cov- 
ered with chains, and that is now being covered with glory, and 
■whom we will send back a gentleman. 


To My Old Master^ Thomas Auld. 

Sir — The lOng and intimate, tliongh by no means friendly, rela- 
tion which unhappily subsisted between you and myself, leads me 
to hope that you will easily account for the great liberty which I 
now take in addressing you in this open and public manner. Tlie 
same fact may possibly remove any disagreeable surprise which 
you may experience on again finding your name coupled with 
mine, in any other way than in an advertisement, accurately de- 
scribing my person, and offering a large sum for my arrest. In 
thus dragging you again before the public, I am aware that I shall 
subject mj'self to no inconsiderable amount of censure. I shall 
probably be charged with an unwarrantable, if not a wanton and 
reckless disregard of the rights ancj proprieties of private life. There 
are those north as well as south who entertain a much higher resj)ect 
for rights whit-'n are merely conventional, than they do for rights 
which are personal and essential. Not a few there are in our coun- 
try, who, w^hile they have no scruples against robbing the laborer 
of the hard-earned results of his patient industry", will be shocked 
by the extremely indelicate manner of bringing your name before 
the public. Believing this to be the case, and wishing to meet 
every reasonable or plausible objection to ray conduct, I will frankly 
state the ground upon which I justify m^'self in tliis instance, 
as well as on former occasions when I have thought proper to men- 
tion your name in public. All will agree that a man guilty of theft, 
robbery, or murder, has forfeited the right to concealment and pri- 
vate life; that the community have a right to subject such persons 
to the most complete exposure. However much they may desire 

* Tt is not often that chattels address their owners. The following letter is iinique ; 
and probably the only specimen of the kind extant. It was written while in 


retirement, ana aim to conceal themselves and their movements 
from the popular gaze, the public have a right to ferret them out, 
and bring their conduct before the proper tribunals of the country 
for investigation. Sir, j'ou will undoubtedl}" make the proper ap- 
plication of these generally admitted principles, and will easily see 
the light in which you are regarded by me; I will not therefore 
manifest ill temper, by calling you hard names. I know you to be 
a man of some intelligence, and can readilj" determine the precise 
estimate which I entertain of your character. I may therefore in- 
dulge in language which may seem to others indirect and ambigu- 
ous, and yet be quite well understood by yourself. 

I have selected this day on which to address you, because it is 
the anniversary of my emancipation ; and knowing no better way, 
I am led to this as the best mode of celebrating that truly impor- 
tant event. Just ten 3'ears ago this beautiful September morning, 
yon bright sun beheld me a slave — a poor degraded chattel — trem- 
bling at the sound of your voice, lamenting that I was a man, and 
wishing myself a brute. The hopes which I had treasured up for 
weeks of a safe and successful escape from your grasp, were power- 
fall}' confronted at this last hour by dark clouds of doubt and fear, 
making my person shake and my bosom to heave with the heavy 
contest between hope and fear. I have no words to describe to 
you the deep agony of soul which I experienced on tliat never-to- 
be-forgotten morning — for I left by daylight. I was making a leap 
in the dark. The probabilities, so far as I could b}- reason deter- 
mine them, were stoutly against the undertaking. The prelimina- 
ries and precautions I had adopted previously, all worked badly. 
I was like one going to war without weapons — ten chances of de- 
feat to one of victor}-. One in whom I had confided, and one who 
had promised me assistance, appalled by fear at the trial hour, de- 
serted me, thus leaving the responsibility of success or failure solely 
with mj'self You, sir, can never know my feelings. As I look 
back to them, I can scarcely realize that I have passed through a 
scene so trying. Trying, however, as they were, and gloomy as 
was the prospect, thanks be to the Most High, who is ever the God 
of the oppressed, at the moment which was to determine my whole 
earthly career, His grace was sufficient; my mind was made up. I 
embraced the golden opportunit}'', took the morning tide at the 
flood, and a free man, young, active, and strong, is the result. 

I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds 


upon which I have justified myself in running away from you. I 
am almost ashamed to do so now, for by this time you may have 
discovered them yourself, I will, however, glance at them. When 
yet but a child about six years old, I imbibed the determination to 
run away. The very first mental effort that I now remember on 
my part, was an attempt to solve the mystery — why am I a slave ? and 
with this question my youthful mind was troubled for many days, 
pressing upon me more heavily at times than others. When I saw 
the slave-driver whip a slave-woman, cut the blood out of her neck, 
and heard her piteous cries, I went away into the corner of the 
fence, wept and pondered over the myster}". I had, through some 
medium, I know not what, got some idea of God, the Creator of all 
mankind, the black and the white, and that he had made the blacks 
to serve the whites as slaves. How he could do this and be good, I 
could not tell. I was not satisfied with this theory, which made 
God responsible for slavery, for it pained me greath% and I have 
wept over it long and often. At one time, your first wife, Mrs. Lu- 
cretia, heard me sighing and saw me shedding tears, and asked of 
me the matter, but I was afraid to tell her. I was puzzled with 
this question, till one night while sitting in the kitchen, I heard 
some of the old slaves talking of their parents having been stolen 
from Africa by white men, and were sold here as slaves. The whole 
mystery was solved at ouce. Very soon after this, my Aunt Jinny 
and Uncle Xoah ran away, and the great noise made about it by 
your father-in-law, made me for the first time acquainted with the 
fact, that there were free states as well as slave states. From that 
time, I resolved that I would some day run away. The morality of 
the act I dispose of as follows : I am myself; you are yourself; we are 
two distinct persons, equal persons. What you are, I am. You are a 
man, and so am I. God created both, and made us separate beings. 
I am not by nature bond to you, or you to me. Nature does not 
make your existence depend upon me, or mine to depend upon j^ours. 
I cannot walk upon your legs, or you upon mine. I cannot breathe 
for you, or you for me ; I must breathe for myself, and you for 
yourself. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided 
with faculties necessary to our individual existence. In leaving you, 
I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened 
your means for obtaining an honest living. Your faculties remained 
yours, and mine became useful to their rightful owner. I therefore 
eee no wrong in any part of the transaction. It is true, I went off 


secretly ; but that was more your fault than mine. Had I let you 
into the secret, you would have defeated the enterprise entirely; 
but for this, I should have been really glad to have made you ac- 
quainted with my intentions to leave. 

You may perhaps want to know how I like my present condition. 
I am free to say, I greatly prefer it to that which I occupied in 
Marvland. I am, however, by no means prejudiced against the 
state as such. Its geography, climate, fertility, and products, are 
such as to make it a very desirable abode for any man ; and but for 
the existence of slavery" there, it is not impossible that I might again 
take up my abode in that state. It is not that I love Maryland less, 
but freedom more. You will be surprised to learn that people at 
the north labor tmder the strange delusion that if the slaves were 
emancipated at the south, they would flock to the north. So far 
from this being the case, in that event, you would see many old 
and familiar faces back again to the south. The fact is, there are 
few here who would not return to the south in the event of eman- 
cipation. We want to live in the land of our birth, and to lay our 
bones by the side of our fathers; and nothing short of an intense 
love of personal freedom keeps us from the south. For the sake of 
this, most of us would live on a crust of bread and a cup of cold 

Since I left you, I have had a rich experience. I have occupied 
stations which I never dreamed of when a slave. Three out of the 
ten years since I left you, I spent as a common laborer on the 
wharves of New Bedford, Massachusetts. It was there I earned 
my first free dollar. It was mine. I could spend it as I pleased. 
I could buy hams or herring with it, without asking any odds of 
an3'body. That was a precious dollar to me. You remember when 
I used to make seven, or eight, or even nine dollars a week in Bal- 
timore, you would take every cent of it from me every Saturday 
night, saying that I belonged to you, and my earnings also. I 
never liked this conduct on your part — to say the best, I thought 
it a little mean. I would not have served you so. But let that 
pass. I was a little awkward about counting money in New En- 
gland fashion when I first landed in New Bedford. I came near 
betraying myself several times. I caught m3-self saying phip, for 
fourpence; and at one time a man actually charged me with being 
a runaway, whereupon I was sill}^ enough to become one by run- 
ning away from him, for I was greatly afraid he might adopt mea3- 


•ares to get me again into slavery, a condition I then dreaded more 
\,han death. 

I soon learned, ho-vrever, to count money, as well as to mate it, 
and got on swimmingly. I married soon after leaving you; in fact, 
I was engaged to be married before I left you; and instead of find- 
ing my companion a burden, she was truly a helpmate. She went 
to live at service, and I to work on the wharf, and though we toiled 
hard the first winter, we never lived more happily. After remaining 
in Usew Bedford for three years, I met with V/illiam Lloyd Garri- 
son, a person of whom you have possibly heard, as he is pretty gen- 
erally known among slaveholders. He put it into my head that I 
might make myself sei'viceable to the cause of the slave, by devo- 
ting a portion of my time to telling my own sorrows, and those of 
other slaves, which had come under mj observation. This was the 
commencement of a higher state of existence than any to which 1 
had ever aspired. I was thrown into society the most pure, en- 
lightened, and benevolent, that the country affords. Among these 
I have never forgotten you, but have invariably made you the 
topic of conversation — thus giving you all the notoriety I could do. 
I need not tell you that the opinion formed of you in these circles 
is far from being favorable. They have little respect for your hon- 
esty, and less for 3' our religion. 

■. But I was going on to relate to you something of my interesting 
experience. I had not long enjoyed the excellent society to which 
I have referred, before the light of its excellence exerted a benefi- 
cial influence on my mind and heart. Much of my early dislike of 
white persons was removed, and their manners, habits, and cus- 
toms, so entirely' unlike what I had been used to in the kitchen- 
quarters on the plantations of the south, fairly charmed me, and 
gave me a strong disrelish for the coarse and degrading customs of 
my former condition. I therefore made an effort so to improve my 
mind and deportment, as to be somewhat fitted to the station to 
which I seemed almost providentially called. The transition from 
degradation to respectability was indeed great, and to get from one 
to the other without carrying some marks of one's former condition, 
i? truly a difficult matter. I would not have you think that I am 
now entirely clear of all plantation peculiarities, but my friends 
here, while they entertain the strongest dislike to them, r-egard me 
with that charity to which my past life somewhat entitles me, so 
that my condition in this respect is exceedingly pleasant. So far 


as my domestic affairs are concerned, I can boast of as comfortable 
a dwelling as your own. I have an industrious and neat compan- 
ion, and four dear children — the oldest a girl of nine years, and 
three fine boys, the oldest eight, the next six, and the youngest four 
years old. The three oldest are now going regularly to school — 
two can rea4 and write, and the other can spell, with tolerable cor- 
rectness, words of two syllables. Dear fellows! they are all in 
comfortable beds, and are sound asleep, perfectly secure under my 
own roof. There are no slaveholders here to rend my heart by 
snatching them from my arms, or blast a mother's dearest hopes by 
tearing them from her bosom. These dear children are ours — not 
to work up into rice, sugar, and tobacco, but to watch over, regard, 
and protect, and to rear them up in the nurture and admonition of 
the gospel — to train them up in the paths of wisdom and virtue, 
and, as far as we can, to make them useful to the world and to 
themselves. Oh ! sir, a slaveholder never appears to me so com- 
pletely an agent of hell, as when I think of and look upon my dear 
children. It is then that my feelings rise above my control. I 
meant to have said more with respect to my own prospei'ity and 
happiness, but thoughts and feelings which this recital has quick- 
ened, unfits me to proceed fui'ther in that direction. The grim hor- 
rors of slavery rise in all their ghastly terror before me ; the wails 
of millions pierce my heart and chill my blood. I remember the 
chain, the gag, the bloody whip ; the death-like gloom overshadow- 
ing the broken spirit of the fettered bondman ; the appalling lia- 
bility of his being torn away from wife and children, and sold 
like a beast in the market. Say not that this is a picture of fancy. 
You well know that I wear stripes on my back, inflicted b}'^ your 
direction ; and that you, while we were brothers in the same chiircli, 
caused this right hand, with which I am now penning this letter, 
to be closely tied to my left, and my person dragged, at the pistol's 
mouth, fifteen miles, from the Bay Side to Easton, to be sold like a 
beast in the market, for the alleged crime of intending to escape 
from your possession. All this, and more, 5'ou remember, and know 
to be perfectly true, not only of 3-ourself, but of nearly all of the 
slaveholders around yon. • 

At this moment, you are probably the guilty holder of at least 
three of my own dear sisters, and my only brother, in bondage. 
These you regard as j^our property. They are recorded on your 
ledger, or perhaps have been sold to human flesh-mongers, with a 


view to filling your own ever-hungry purse. Sir, I desire to know- 
how and where these dear-eisters are. Have you sold them? or are 
they still in your possession ? What has become of them ? are they 
living or dead? And my dear old grandmother, whom you turned 
out like an old horse to die in the woods — is she still alive? Write 
and let me know all about them. If my grandmother be still alive^ 
she is of no service to you, for by this time she must be nearly 
eighty years old — too old to be cared for by one to whom she has 
ceased to be of service ; send her to me at Rochester, or bring her 
to Philadelphia, and it shall be the crowning happiness of my life 
to take care of her in her old age. Oh! she was to me a mother 
and a father, so far as hard toil for my comfort could make her 
such. Send me my grandmother! that I may watch over and take 
care of her in her old age. And my sisters — let me know all about 
them. I would write to them, and learn all I want to know of them, 
without disturbing you in any way, but that, through your un- 
righteous conduct, they have been entirely deprived of the power 
to read and write. You have kept them in utter ignorance, and 
have therefore robbed them of the sweet enjoyments of writing or 
receiving letters from absent friends and relatives. Your wicked- 
ness and cruelty, committed in this respect on your fellow-creatures, 
are greater than all the stripes you have laid upon my back or theirs. 
It is an outrage upon the soul, a war upon the immortal spirit, and 
one for which 3'ou must give account at the bar of our common 
Father and Creator. 

The responsibility which you have assumed in this regard is 
truly awful, and how you could stagger under it these many years 
is marvelous. Your mind must have become darkened, your heart 
hardened, your conscience seared and petrified, or you would have 
long since thrown off the accursed load, and sought relief at the 
hands of a sin-forgiving God. How, let me ask, would you look 
upon me, were I, some dark night, in company with a band of hard- 
ened villains, to enter the precincts of your elegant dwelling, and 
seize the person of your own lovely dausrhter, Amanda, and carry 
her off from your familj', friends, and all the loved ones of her youth 
— make her my slave — compel her to work, and I take her wages — • 
place her name on my ledger as property — disregard her personal 
rights — fetter the powers of her immortal soul by denying her the 
right and privilege of learning to read and write — feed her coarsely 
—clothe her scantily, and whip her on the naked back occasionally ; 


more, and still more horrible, leave her unprotected — a degraded 
victim to the brutal lust of fiendish overseers, who vrould pollute, 
blight, and blast her fair soul — rob her of all dignity — destroy her 
virtue, and annihilate in her person all the graces that adorn the 
character of virtuous womanhood? I ask, how would you regard 
me, if such were my conduct? Oh ! the vocabulary of the damned 
would not afford a word sufiiciently infernal to express 3'our idea 
of my God-provoking wickedness. Yet, sir, your treatment of my 
beloved sisters is in all essential points precisely like the case I 
have now supposed. Damning as would be such a deed on my 
part, it would be no more so than that which you have committed 
against me and my sisters. 

I will now bring this letter to a close; you shall hear from me 
again imless you let me hear from you. I intend to make use of 
you as a weapon with which to assail the system of slavery — as a 
means of concentrating public attention on the system, and deep- 
ening the horror of trafficking in the souls and bodies of men. I 
shall make use of you as a means of exposing the character of the 
American church and clergj- — and as a means of bringing this guilty 
nation, with yourself, to repentance. In doing this, I entertain no 
malice toward you personally. There is no roof under which 3-ou 
would be more safe than mine, and there is nothing in my house 
which you might need for your comfort, which I would not readily 
grant. Indeed, I should esteem it a privilege to set you an exam- 
ple as to how mankind ought to treat each other. 

I am 3'our fellow-iuan, but not your slave. 


CEMBER 1, 1850. 

More than t^venty years of my life were consumed in a state of 
slavery. My childhood was environed by the baneful peculiarities 
of the slave system. I grew up to manhood in the presence of this 
hydra-headed monster — not as a master — not as an idle spectator — 
not as the guest of the slaveholder — but as a slave, eating the bread 
and drinkinjT the cup of slavery with the most degraded of ray 
brother-bondmen, and sharing with them all the painful conditions 
of their wretched lot. In consideration of these facts, I feel that I 
have a right to speak, and to speak stronrjly. Yet, my friends, I 
feel bound to speak truly. 

Goading as have been the cruelties to which I have been sub- 
jected — bitter as have been the ti'ials through which 1 have passed 
— exasperating as have been, and still are, the indignities offered to 
my manhood — I find in them no excuse for the slightest departure 
from truth in dealing with any branch of this subject. 

First of all, I will state, as well as I can, the legal and social rela- 
tion of master and slave. A master is one — to speak in the vocab- 
ulary of the southern states — who claims and exercises a right of 
property in the person of a fellow-man. This he does with the 
force of the law and the sanction of southern religion.- The law 
gives the master absolute power over the slave. He may work 
him, flog him, hire him out, sell him, and, in certain contingencies, 
l-ill him, with perfect impunity. The slave is a human being, di- 
vested of all rights — reduced to the level of a brute — a mere "chat- 
tel" in the eye of the law — placed beyond the circle of human broth- 
erhood — cut off from his kind — his name, which the "recording 
angei" may have enrolled in heaven, among the blest, is impiously 
inserted in a master^ » ledger, with horses, sheep, and swine. In law, 
the slave has no wife, no children, no country, and no home. He 


can own nothing, possess nothing, acquire nothing, but -^hat must 
belong to another. To eat the fi-uit of his own toil, to clothe his 
person Avith the work of his own hands, is considered stealing. He 
toils that another may reap the fruit; he is industrious that an- 
other may live in idleness; he eats unbolted meal that another may 
eat the bread of fine flour; he labors in chains at home, under a 
burning sun and biting lash, that another may ride in ease and 
splendor abroad; he lives in ignorance that another may be educa- 
ted ; he is abused that another may be exalted; he rests his toil- 
worn limbs on the cold, damp ground that another may repose on 
the softest pillow; he is clad in coarse and tattered raiment that 
another may be arrayed in purple and fine linen; he is sheltered 
only by the wretched hovel that a master may dwell in a magnifi- 
cent mansion ; and to this condition he is bound down as by an arm 
of iron. 

From this monstrous relation there springs an unceasing stream 
of most revolting cruelties. The ver}- accompaniments of the slave 
system stamp it as the offspring of hell itself. To ensure good be- 
havior, the slaveholder relies on the whip ; to induce proper hu- 
mility, he relies on the whip ; to rebuke what he is pleased to 
term insolence, he relies on the whip ; to supply the place of wages 
as an incentive to toil, he relies on the whip; to bind down the 
spirit of the slave, to imbrute and destroy his manhood, he relies 
on the whip, the chain, the gag, the thumb-screw, the pillory, the 
bowie-knife, the pistol, and the blood-hound. These are the ne- 
cessary and unvarying accompaniments of the system. Wherever 
slavery is found, these horrid instruments are also found. "Whether 
on the coast of Africa, among the savage tribes, or in South Caro- 
lina, among the refined and civilized, slavery is the same, and its 
accompaniments one and the same. It makes no difference whether 
the slaveholder worships the God of the christians, or is a follower 
of Mahomet, he is the minister of the same cruelty, and the author 
of the same misery. Slavery is always slavery ; always the same 
foul, haggard, and damning scourge, whether found in the eastern 
or in the western hemisphere. 

There is a still deeper shade to be given to this picture. The 
physical cruelties are indeed sufficiently harassing and revolting; 
but they are as a few grains of sand on the sea shore, or a few 
drops of water in the great ocean, compared with the stupendous 
wrongs which it inflicts upon the mental, moral, and religious na- 


ture of its hapless victims. It is only wlien "vre contemplate the 
slave as a moral and intellectual being, that we can adequately 
comprehend the unpai'alleled enormity of slavery-, and the intense 
criminality of the slaveholder. I have said that the slave was a 
man. "What a piece of work is man ! How noble in reason! How 
infinite in faculties! In form and moving how express and admi- 
rable ! In action how like an angel ! In apprehension how like a 
God ! the beauty of the world ! the paragon of animals ! " 

The slave is a man, "the image of God," but "a little lower than 
the angels;" possessing a soul, eternal and indestructible; capable 
of endless happiness, or immeasurable woe ; a creature of hopes and 
fears, of affections and passions, of joys and sorrows, and he is en- 
dowed with those mj'sterious powers by which man soars above 
the things of time and sense, and grasps, with undying tenacity, 
the elevating and sublimely glorious idea of a God. It is such a 
being that is smitten and blasted. The first work of slavery is to 
mar and deface those characteristics of its victims which distin- 
guish men from things, and persons from property. Its first aim is 
to destroy all sense of high moral and religious responsibilit}'. It 
• reduces man to a mere machine. It cuts him off from his Maker, 
it hides from him the laws of God, and leaves him to grope his way 
from time to eternity in the dark, under the arbitrary and despotic 
control of a frail, depraved, and sinful fellow-man. As the serpent- 
charmer of India is compelled to extract the deadly teeth of his 
venomous prey before he is able to handle him with impunity, so 
the slaveholder must strike down the conscience of the slave before 
he can obtain the entire mastery over his victim. 

It is, then, the first business of the enslaver of men to blunt, deaden, 
and destroy the central principle of human responsibility. Con- 
science is, to the individual soul, and to society, what the law of gravi- 
tation is to the universe. It holds society together ; it is the basis of 
all trust and confidence ; it is the pillar of all moral rectitude. "With- 
out it, suspicion would take the place of trust ; vice would be more 
than a match for virtue; men would prey upon each other, like the 
wild beasts of the desert; and earth would become a hell. 

Nor is slavery more adverse to the conscience than it is to the 
mind. This is shown b}' the fact, that in ever}' state of the Amer- 
ican Union, where slavery exists, except the state of Kentucky, 
there are laws absolutely prohibitory of education among the slaves. 


The crime of teaching a slave to read is punishable with severe 
fines and imprisonment, and, in some instances, with death itself. 

JS'or are the laws respecting this matter a dead letter. Cases 
ma}' occur in which thej are disregarded, and a few instances may 
be found where slaves may have learned to read ; but such are iso- 
lated cases, and only prove the rule. The great mass of slavehold- 
ers look upon education among the slaves as utterly subversive of 
the slave system. I well remember when my mistress first an- 
nounced to my master that she had discovered that I could read. 
His face colored at once with surprise and chagrin. He said that 
*'I was ruined, and my value as a slave destroyed; tliat a slave 
should know nothing but to obey his master; that to give a negro 
an inch would lead him to take an ell ; that having learned how to 
read, I would soon want to know how to write; and that by-and- 
by I would be running away." I think my audience will bear wit- 
ness to the correctness of this philosophy, and to the literal fulfill- 
ment of this prophecy. 

It is perfectly well understood at the south, that to educate a slave is 
to make him discontented with slaver}-, and to invest him with a 
power which shall open to him the treasures of freedom ; and since ' 
the object of the slaveholder is to maintain complete authority over 
his slave, his constant vigilance is exercised to prevent everything 
which militates against, or endangers, the stability of his authority. 
Education being among the menacing influences, and, perhaps, the 
most dangerous, is, therefore, the most cautiously guarded against. 

It is true that we do not often hear of the enforcement of the law, 
punishing as a crime the teaching of slaves to read, but this is not 
because of a want of disposition to enforce it. The true reason or 
explanation of the matter is this : there is the gi*eatest unanimity 
of opinion among the white population in the south in favor of the 
policy of keeping the slave in ignorance. There is, perhaps, an- 
other reason why the law against education is so seldom violated. 
The slave is too poor to be able to offer a temptation sufficiently- 
strong to induce a white man to violate it; and it is not to be sup- 
posed that in a community where the moral and religious sentiment 
is in favor of slaver}^ many martyrs will be found sacrificing their 
liberty and lives by violating those prohibitory enactments. 

As a general rule, then, darkness reigns over the abodes of the 
enslaved, and " how great is that darkness ! " 

TVe are sometimes told of the contentment of the slaves, and are 


entertained with vivid pictures of their happiness. "We are told 
that they often dance and sing ; that their masters frequently give 
them wherewith to make merry ; in fine, that they have little of 
which to complain. I admit that the slave does sometimes sing, 
dance, and appear to be merry. But what does this prove? It 
onh' proves to my mind, that though slavery is armed with a thou- 
sand stings, it is not able entirely to kill the elastic spirit of the 
bondman. That spirit will rise and walk abroad, despite of whips 
and chains, and extract from the cup of nature occasional drops of 
joy and gladness, Ko thanks to the slaveholder, nor to slavery, 
that the vivacious captive may sometimes dance in his chains ; his 
very mirth in such circumstances stands before God as an accusing 
angel against his enslaver. 

It is often said, by the opponents of the anti-slavery cause, that 
the condition of the people of Ireland is more deplorable than that 
of the American slaves. Far be it from me to underrate the suffer- 
ings of the Irish people. They have been long oppressed ; and the 
same heart that prompts me to plead the cause of the American 
bondman, makes it impossible for me not to sympathize with the 
oppressed of all lands. Yet I must say that there is no analogy be- 
tween the two cases. The Irishman is poor, but he is not a slave. 
He may be in rags, but he is not a slave. He is still the master of 
his own body, and can say with the poet, "The hand of Douglass 
is his own." " The world is all before him, where to choose ; " and 
poor as may be my opinion of the British parliament, I cannot be- 
lieve that it will ever sink to such a depth of infamy as to pass a 
law for the recapture of fugitive Irishmen ! The shame and scandal 
of kidnapping will long remain wholly monopolized by the Ameri- 
can congress. The Irishman has not only the liberty to emigrate 
from his country, but he has liberty at home. He can write, and 
speak, and cooperate for the attainment of his rights and the re- 
dress of his wrongs. 

The multitude can assemble upon all the green hills and fertile 
plains of the Emerald Isle ; they can pour out their grievances, and 
proclaim their wants without molestation ; and the press, that 
"swift-winged messenger," can bear the tidings of their doiDgs to 
the extreme bounds of the civilized world. They have their "Con- 
ciliation Hall," on the banks of the Liffey, their reform clubs, and 
their newspapers ; they pass resolutions, send forth addresses, and 
enjoy the right of petition. But how is it with the American 
S 28 


slave? "Where may he assemble? Where is his Conciliation Hall? 
Whore are his newspapers ? Where is his right of petition ? Where 
is his freedom of speech ? his liberty of the press? and his right of 
locomotion? He is said to be happy; happy men can speak. But 
ask the slave what is his condition — what his state of mind — Avhat 
he thinks of enslavement? and you had as well address 3'our inqui- 
ries to the silent dead. There comes no voice from the enslaved. 
We are left to gather his feelings by imagining what ours would 
be, were our souls in his soul's stead. 

If there were no other fact descriptive of slavery, than that the 
slave is dumb, this alone vrould be sufficient to mark the slave sys- 
tem as a grand aggregation of human horrors. 

Most who are present, will have observed that leading men in 
this country have been jmtting forth their skill to secui-e quiet to 
the nation. A system of measures to promote this object was 
adopted a few months ago in congress. The result of those meas 
tires is known. Instead of quiet, they have produced alarm ; in- 
stead of peace, they have brought us war; and so it must ever be. 

While this nation is guilt}^ of the enslavement of three millions of 
innocent men and women, it is as idle to think of liaving a sound 
arid lasting peace, as it is to think there is no God to take cogni- 
zance of the affairs of men. There can be no peace to tlie wicked 
while slavery continues in the land. It will be condemned ; and 
while it is condemned there will be agitation. Nature must cease 
to be nature ; men must become monsters ; humanity must be trans- 
formed; Christianity' must be exterminated ; all ideas of justice and 
the laws of eternal goodness must be utterl\^ blotted out from the 
human soul, — ere a system so foul and infernal can escape condem 
nation, or this guilty republic can have a sound, enduring peace. 


CEMBER 8, 1850. 

The relation of master and slave has been called patriarchal, and 
oxi\y second in benignity and tenderness to that of the parent and 
child. This representation is doubtless believed by many northern 
people ; and this may account, in part, for the lack of interest which 
we find among persons whom we are bound to believe to be honest 
and humane. "What, then, are the facts? Here I will not quote 
my own experience in slavery ; for this you might call one-sided 
testimony. I will not cite the declarations of abolitionists ; for these 
you niight pronounce exaggerations. I will not rel}' upon adver- 
tisements cut from newspapers ; for these you might call isolated 
cases. But I will refer j^ou to the laws adopted by the legislatures 
of the slave states. I give yoii such evidence, because it cannot be 
invalidated nor denied. I hold in my hand sundry extracts from 
the slave codes of our country, from which I will quote. * * , * 

Now, if the foregoing be an indication of kindness, what is cruelty ^ 
If this be parental affection, what is bittennalignity ? A more atro- 
cious and blood-thirsty string of laws could not well be conceived 
of. And yet I am bound to say that they fall short of indicating 
the horrible cruelties constantly practiced in the slave states. 

I admit that there are individual slaveholders less cruel and bar- 
barous than is allowed by law ; but these form the exception. The 
majority of slaveholders find it necessary, to insure obedience, at 
times, to avail themselves of the utmost extent of the law, and many 
go beyond it. If kindness were the rule, we should not see adver- 
tisements filling the columns of almost every southern newspaper, 
offering large rewards for fugitive slaves, and describing them as 
being branded with irons, loaded with chains, and scarred by the 
whip. One of the most telling testimonies against the pretended 
kindness of slaveholders, is the fact that uncounted numbers of fu- 
gitives are now inhabiting the Dismal Swamp, preferring the un- 


tamed wilderness to their cultivated homes— choosing rather to en- 
counter hunger and thirst, and to roam with the wild beasts of the 
forest, running the hazard of being hunted and shot down, than 
to submit to the authority of kind masters, 

I tell you, my friends, humanity is never driven to such an un- 
natural course of life, without great wrong. The slave finds more 
of the milk of human kindness in the bosom of the savage Indian, 
than in the heart of his christian master. He leaves the man of the 
hible, and takes refuge with the man of the tomahawk. He rushes 
from the praying slaveholder into the paws of the bear. He quits 
the homes of men for the haunts of wolves. He prefers to encoun- 
ter a life of trial, however bitter, or death, however terrible, to 
dragging out his existence under the dominion of these kind 

The apologists for slavery often speak of the abuses of slavery; 
and they tell us that they are as much opposed to those abuses as 
we are ; and that they would go as far to correct those abuses and 
to ameliorate the condition of the slave as anybody. The answer 
to that view is, that slavery is itself an abuse ; that it lives by abuse ; 
and dies by the absence of abuse. Grant that slavery is right ; 
grant that the relation of master and slave may innocently exist ; 
and there is not a single outrage which was ever committed against 
the slave but what finds an apology in the very necessity of the case. 
As was said by a slaveholder, (the Rev. A. G. Few,) to the Metho- 
dist conference, "If the relation be right, the means to maintain it 
are also right;" for without those means slavery could not exist. 
Remove the dreadful scourge — the plaited thong — the galling fetter 
— the accursed chain — and let the slaveholder rely solely upon 
moral and religious power, by which to secure obedience to his or- 
ders, and how long do you suppose a slave would remain on his 
plantation ? The case only needs to be stated ; it carries its own 
refutation with it. 

Absolute and arbitrary power can never be maintained by one 
man over the body and soul of another man, without brutal chas- 
tisment and enormous cruelty. 

To talk of kiyidness entering into a relation in which one party is 
robbed of wife, of children, of his hard earnings, of home, of friends, 
of societ}', of knowledge, and of all that makes this life desirable, is 
most absurd, wicked, and preposterous. 

I have shown that slavery is wicked — wicked, in that it violates 


the great law of liberty, -written on every human heart — wicked, in 
that it violates the first command of the decalogue — wicked, in that it 
fosters the most disgusting licentiousness — wicked, in that it mars 
and defaces the image of God by cruel and barbarous inflictions — 
wicked, in that it contravenes the laws of eternal justice, and tram- 
ples in the dust all the humane and heavenly precepts of the Xew 

The evils resulting from this huge system of iniquity are not con- 
fined to the states south of Mason and Dixon's line. Its noxious in- 
fluence can easily be traced throughout our northern borders. It 
comes even as far north as the state of New York. Traces of it may 
be seen even in Rochester ; and travelers have told me it casts its 
gloomy shadows across the lake, approaching the very shores of 
Queen Victoria's dominions. 

The presence of slavery may be explained by — as it is the explana- 
tion of — the mobocratic violence which lately disgraced Xew York, 
and which still more recently disgraced the city of Boston. These 
violent demonstrations, these outrageous invasions of human rights, 
faintly indicate the presence and power of slavery here. It is a sig- 
nificant fact, that while meetings for almost any purpose under 
heaven may be held unmolested in the city of Boston, that in the 
same city, a meeting cannot be peaceably held for the purpose of 
preaching the doctrine of the American Declaration of Independ- 
ence, " that all men are created equal." The pestiferous breath of 
slavery taints the whole moral atmosphere of the north, and ener- 
vates the moral energies of the whole people. 

The moment a foreigner ventures upon our soil, and utters a 
natural repugnance to oppression, that moment he is made to feel 
that there is little sympathy in this land for him. If he were greeted 
with smiles before, he meets with frowns now ; and it shall go well 
with him if he be not subjected to that peculiarly fitting method of 
showing fealty to slavery, the assaults of a mob. 

Now, will any man tell me that such a state of things is natural, 
and that such conduct on the part of the people of the north, springs 
from a consciousness of rectitude? No! every fibre of the human 
heart unites in detestation of tyranny, and it is only when the hu- 
man mind has become familiarized with slaver}^, is accustomed to 
its injustice, and corrupted by its selfishness, that it fails to record 
its abhorrence of slavery, and does not exult in the triumphs of 


The northern peopLj have been long connected with slaverj^jthey 
have been linked to a decaying corpse, which has destroj'ed the 
moral health. The union of the government; the union of the north 
and south, in the political parties; the union in the religious organ- 
izations of the land, have all served to deaden the moral sense of the 
northern people, and to impregnate them with sentiments and ideas 
forever in conflict with what as a nation we call genius of American 
institutions. Rightly viewed, this is an alarming fact, and ought to 
rall}^ all that is pure, just, and holy in one determined effort to crush 
the monster of corruption, and to scatter " its guilty profits " to the 
winds. In a high moral sense, as well as in a national sense, the 
whole American people are responsible for slavery, and must share, 
in its guilt and shame, with the most obdurate men-stealers of the 

"While slavery exists, and the imion of these states endures, every 
American citizen must bear the chagrin of hearing his country 
branded before the world as a nation of liars and hypocrites; and 
behold his cherished national flag pointed at with the utmost scorn 
and derision. Even now an American abroad is pointed out in the 
crowd, as coming from a land where men gain their foi'tnnes by 
" the blood of souls," from a land of slave markets, of blood-hounds, 
and slave-hunters ; and, in some circles, such a man is shunned al- 
together, as a moral pest. Is it not time, then, for every American 
to awake, and inquire into his duty with respect to this subject? 

Wendell Phillips — the eloquent Xew England orator — on liis re- 
turn from Europe, in 18^2, said, "As I stood upon the shores of Ge- 
noa, and saw floating on the placid waters of the Mediterranean, the 
beautiful American war ship Ohio, with her masts tapering propor- 
tionately aloft, and an eastern sun reflecting her noble form upon 
the sparkling waters, attracting the gaze of the multitude, my first 
impulse was of pride, to think myself an American; but wlien I 
thought that the first time that gallant ship would gird on her gor- 
gjeous apparel, and wake from beneath her sides her dormant thun- 
ders, it would be in defense of the African slave trade, I blushed in 
utter shame for my country." 

Let me say again, slavery is alike the sin and the shame of the Amer- 
ican people ; it is a blot upon the American name, and the only na- 
tional reproach which need make an American hang his head in 
ehame, in the presence of njonarchical governments. 

With this gigantic evil in the land, we are constantly told to look 


at home; if ve say ought against crowned heads, we are pointed to 
our enslaved millions ; if we talk of sending missionaries and bibles 
abroad, we are pointed to three millions now lying in worse than 
heathen darkness ; if we express a word of sympathy for Kossuth 
and his Hungarian fugitive brethren, we are pointed to that horri- 
ble and hell-black enactment, "the fugitive slave bilk" 

Slavery blunts the edge of all our rebukes of tyranny abroad — 
the criticisms that we make upon other nations, only call foi'th rid- 
icule, contempt, and scorn. In a word, we are made a reproach 
and a bj'-word to a mocking earth, and we must continue to be so 
made, so long as slavery continues to pollute our soiL 

We have heard much of late of the virtue of patriotism, the love 
of country, <fec,, and this sentiment, so natural and so strong, has 
been impiously appealed to, by all the powers of human selfishness, 
to cherish the viper which is stinging our national life away. In 
In its name, we have been called upon to deepen our infamy before 
the world, to rivet the fetter more firmly on the limbs of the en- 
slaved, and to become utterly insensible to the voice of human woe 
that is wafted to us on every southern gale. We have been called 
upon, in its name, to desecrate our whole land by the footprints of 
slave-hunters, and even to engage ourselves in the horrible business 
of kidnapping. 

I, too, would invoke the spirit of patriotism ; not in a narrow and 
restricted sense, but, I trust, with a bi'oad and manly signification; 
not to cover up our national sins, but to inspire us with sincere re- 
pentance ; not to hide our shame from the world's gaze, but utterly 
to abolish the cause of that shame ; not to explain away our gross 
inconsistencies as a nation, but to remove the hateful, jarring, and 
incongruous elements from the land; not to sustain an egregious 
wrong, but to unite all our energies in the grand effort to remedy 
that wrorig. 

I would invoke the spirit of patriotism, in the name of the law of 
the living God, natural and revealed, and in the full belief that 
"righteousness exalteth a nation, while sin is a reproach to any 
people." "He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; 
he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands 
from the holding of bribes, he shall dwell on high, his place of de- 
fense shall be the munitions of rocks, bread shall be given him, his 
water shall be sure." 

We have not only heard much lately of patriotism, and of its aid 


being invoked on the side of slavery and injustice, but the very pros- 
perity of this people has been called in to deafen them to the voice 
of duty, and to lead them onward in the pathway of sin. Thus has 
the blessing of God been converted into a curse. In the spirit of 
genuine patriotism, I warn the American people, by all that is just 
and honorable, to beware ! 

I warn them that, strong, proud, and prosperous though we be, 
there is a power above us that can "bring down high looks ; at the 
breath of whose mouth our wealth may take wings ; and before 
whom every knee shall bow ; " and who can tell how soon the 
avenging angel may pass over our land, and the sable bondmen 
now in chains, may become the instruments of our nation's chastise- 
ment! Without appealing to any higher feeling, I would warn the 
American people, and the American government, to be wise in their 
day and generation. I exhort them to remember the history of 
other nations; and I remind them that America cannot always sit 
"as a queen," in peace and repose; that prouder and stronger gov- 
ernments than this have been shattered by the bolts of a just God ; 
that the time may come when those they now despise and hate, may 
be needed ; when those whom they now compel by oppression to 
be enemies, may be wanted as friends. What has been, may be again, 
Tliere is a point beyond which human endurance cannot go. The 
crushed worm may yet turn under tfie heel of the oppressor. I 
warn them, then, with all solemnity, and in the name of retributive 
justice, to look to their ways ; for in an evil hour, those sable arms 
that have, for the last two centuries, been engaged in cultivating 
and adorning the fair fields of our country, may yet become the in- 
struments of terror, desolation, and death, throughout our borders. 

It was the sage of the Old Dominion that said — while speaking of 
the possibility of a conflict between the slaves and the slaveholders 
— " God has no attribute that could take sides with the oppressor 
in such a contest. I tremble for my country when I reflect that 
God is just, and that his justice cannot sleep forever." Such is the 
warning voice of Thomas Jefl'erson ; and every day's experience since 
its utterance until now, confirms its wisdom, and commends its 



Fellow- Citizens — Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I 
called upon to speak here to-day ? What have I, or those I repre- 
sent, to do with your national independence ? Are the great prin- 
ciples of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that 
Declaration of Independence, extended to us ? and am I, therefore, 
called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and 
to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the bless- 
ings, resulting from your independence to us ? 

"Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an aiBrmative 
answer could be truthfully returned to these questions ! Then 
would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For 
who is there so cold that a nation's sj^mpathy could not warm him? 
"Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would 
not thankfull}' acknowledge such priceless benefits ? Who so stolid 
and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs 
of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn 
from his limbs ? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb 
might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart." 

But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense 
of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of 
this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals 
the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which 
you this day rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheri- 
tance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed 
by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that 
brought life and healing to 3'ou, has brought stripes and death to 
me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. Yov, may rejoice, / 
must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated 
temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, 
were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, oit- 


izens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day ? If so, there is a 
parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is danger- 
ous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to 
heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, bury- 
ing that nation in irrecoverable ruin ! I can to-day take up the 
plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people. 

"Bv the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept 
when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the wil- 
lows in the midst thereof. For there, the}' that carried us awa}'^ 
captive, required of us a song ; and they who wasted us required 
of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we 
sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, Jerusa- 
lem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember 
thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth." 

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the 
mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yes- 
terdav, are to-daj' rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts 
that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember 
those bleeding children of sorrow this da}', "may my rigiit hand 
forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my 
mouth! " To forget them, to pass lightly over tlieir wrongs, and to 
chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous 
and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the 
world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American' Slavkuy. I 
shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's 
point o-f view. Standing thei'e, identified with the American bond- 
man, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, witli all 
my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation nevei- looked 
blacker to me than on this Fourth of July. Whether we turn to the 
declarations of the past, or to tlie professions of the present, the 
conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America 
is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself 
to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and 
bleeding slave on tlijs occasion, I will, in the name of humanity 
which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the 
name of the constitution and the bible, which are disregarded and 
trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the 
em{»hasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate sla- 
very — the great sin and shame of America! "I will not eqiiivo- 
eate; I will not excuse;" I will use the severest language I can. 


command; and vet not one word shall escape me that any man, 
whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart 
a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just. 

But I fancy I hear some one of mj audience say, it is just in this 
circumstance that j'ou and 3'our brother abolitionists fail to make a 
favorable impression on the public mind. "Would you argue more, 
and denounce less, would you persuade more and rebuke less, your 
cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where 
all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-sla- 
very creed would you have me argue ? On what branch of the sub- 
ject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake 
to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. 
Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in 
the enactment of laws for their government. The}^ acknowledge it 
when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are 
seventy-two crimes in the state of Virginia, which, if committed by 
a black man, (no matter how ignorant he be,) subject him to the 
punishment of death ; while only two of these same crimes will 
subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the 
acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and respon- 
sible being. The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted 
in the fact that southern statute books are covered with enactments 
forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the 
slave to read or write. When you can point to any such laws, in 
reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the 
manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the 
fowls of the air, Mdien the cattle on jowv hills, when the fisli of the 
sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the 
slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a 
rnan ! 

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the 
negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are plowing, plant- 
ing, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, 
constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, 
lion, copper, silver, and gold; that, while we are reading, writing, 
and cyphering, acting as clerks, merchants, and secretaires, having 
among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, ora- 
tors, and -^eachers ; that, while we are engaged in all manner of en- 
terprises common to other men— digging gold in California, captur- 
ing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle ou the hill' 


side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families 
as husbands, wives, and children, and, above all, coufessing and wor- 
shiping the christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and im- 
mortality beyond the grave, — we are called upon to prove that we 
are men ! 

"Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that 
he is the rightful owner of his own body ? You have already de- 
clared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery ? Is that a 
question for republicans ? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic 
and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving 
a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be under- 
stood ? How should I look to-day in the presence of Americans, 
dividing and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a nat- 
ural right to freedom, speaking of it relativel}" and positively, nega- 
tively and affirmatively? To do so, would be to make myself ridic- 
ulous, and to offer an insult to your imderstanding. There is not a 
man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery 
is wrong for him. 

What! am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to 
rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep 
them ignorant of their relations to their fellow-men, to beat them 
with sticks, to flay their flesh Avith the lash, to load their limbs with 
irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder 
their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve 
them into obedience and submission to their masters ? Must I argue 
that a system, thus marked with blood and stained with pollution, 
is wrong ? No ; I will not. I have better employment for my time 
and strength than such arguments would imply. 

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not di- 
vine ; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are 
mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is in- 
human cannot be divine. Who can reason on such a proposition! 
They that can, may ; I cannot. The time for such argument is 

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is 
needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation's 
ear, I would to-day pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, 
blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is 
not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but 
thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. 


The feeling of the nation must be quickened ; the conscience of the 
nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; 
the hypoci'isy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against 
God and man must be proclaimed and denounced. 

"What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a 
day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the 
gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To 
him, your celebration is a sham ; your boasted liberty, an unholy li- 
cense ; your national greatness, swelling vanity ; your sounds of re- 
joicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, 
brass-fronted impudence ; your shouts of liberty and equality, hol- 
low mockery ; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks- 
givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him 
mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin 
veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. 
There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shock- 
ing and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this 
rery hour. 

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the 
monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South 
America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the 
last, lay your facts by the side of the every-day practices of this 
nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and 
shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. 



Take the American slave trade, ■which, we are told by the papers, 
is especially' prosperous just novr. Ex-senator Benton tells us that 
the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the 
fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of the 
peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in all the 
large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy ; and millions 
are pocketed every year by dealers in this horrid traffic. In seve- 
ral states this trade is a chief source of wealth. It is called (in con- 
tradistinction to the foreign slave trade) " tJie internal slave trade." 
It is, probably, called so, too, in order to divert from it the horror 
with which the foreign slave trade is contemplated. That trade 
has long since been denounced by this government as pirac}'. It 
has been denounced with burning words, fi*om the high })laces of 
the nation, as an execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to 
it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of 
Africa. Everywhere in this country, it is safe to speak of this for- 
eign slave trade as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the laws 
of God and of man. The dutj'- to extirpate and destroy it is admit- 
ted even by our doctors of divinity. In order to put an end to it, 
some of these last have consented that their colored brethren (nom- 
inally free) should leave this country, and establish themselves on 
the western coast of Africa. It is, however, a notable fact, that, 
while so much execration is poured out b}' Americans, upon those 
engaged in the foreign slave trade, the men engaged in the slave 
trade between the states pass without condemnation, and their 
business is deemed honorable. 

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave trade — the 
American slave trade sustained by American politics and American 
religion! Here 3"ou will see men and women roared like swine for 
the market. You know what is a swiue-drover? I Avill show you 


a man-drover. They inhabit all our southern states. They peram- 
bulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation with 
droves of human stock. You will see one of these human-flesh-job- 
bers, armed with pistol, whip, and bowie-knife, driving a company 
of a hundred men, women, and cliildren, from the Potomac to the 
slave market at Xew Orleans. These wretched people are to be sold 
sinf^ly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton- 
field and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession as it 
moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives then;. 
Hear his savage yells and his blood-chilling oaths, as he hurries on 
his affrighted captives. There, see the old man, with locks thinned 
and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, 
■whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears fall- 
ing on the brow of the babe in her arras. See, too, that girl of 
thirteen, weeping, 3'es, weeping, as she thinks of the mother from 
■whom she has been torn. The drove moves tardily. Heat and sor- 
row have nearly consumed their strength. Suddenly you hear a 
quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the 
chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream 
that seems to have torn its way to the center of your soul. The 
crack you heard was the sound of the slave whip ; the scream you 
heai'd was from the woman 3'ou saw with the babe. Her speed 
had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains; that 
gash on her shoulder tells her to move on. Follow this drove to 
New Orleans, Attend the auction ; see men examined like horses; 
see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shock- 
ing gaze of American slave-buyei's. See this drove sold and sepa- 
rated forever ; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose 
from that scattered multitude. Tell me, citizens, where, under the 
sun, can you witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet 
this is but a glance at the American slave trade, as it exists at this 
moment, in the ruling part of the United States. 

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American 
slave trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often 
pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot street. Fell's 
Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves the slave 
ships in the basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of 
human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the 
Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart kept at 
the head of Pratt street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents wero 


Bent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing their ar- 
rival through the papers, and on flaming hand-bills, headed, " cash 
for negroes." These men were generally well dressed, and very 
captivating in their manners; ever ready to drink, to treat, and to 
gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of 
a single card ; and many a child has been snatched from the arms 
of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunk- 

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive 
them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. "When a suffi- 
cient number have been collected here, a ship is chartered, for the 
purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile or to New Orleans. 
From the slave-prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the 
darkness of night ; for since the anti-slavery agitation a certain cau- 
tion is observed. 

In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have been often aroused 
by the dead, heavy footsteps and the piteous cries of the chained 
gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was 
intense ; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress 
in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked ; 
that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains, and the heart-rend- 
ing cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my 

Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is to-day in active opera- 
tion in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit, I see 
clouds of dust raised on the highways of the south ; I see the bleed- 
ing footsteps ; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity, on the 
way to the slave markets, where the victims are to be sold like 
hoi'ses, sheep, and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There 
I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, ca- 
price, and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sick- 
ens at the sight. 

"Is this the land your fathers loved ? 
Tbe freedom which they toiled to win? 
Is this the earth whereoa they moved ? 
Are these the graves they slumber in ? " 

But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of 
things remains to be presented. By an act of the American con- 
gress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its 


mo3t horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason and Dixon's 
line has been obliterated; New York has become as Virginia; and 
the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women, and children as slaves, 
remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution 
of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the 
star-spangled banner and American Christianity. Where these go, 
may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is 
not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman's gun. By that most 
foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of 
every man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is a 
hunting-ground for 7nen. Sot for thieves and robbers, enemies of 
society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Your law-makers 
have commanded all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. 
Your president, your secretary of state, your lords, nobles, and ec- 
clesiastics, enforce as a duty you owe to 3'our free and glorious coun- 
try and to 3"our God, that you do this accursed thing. IS'ot fewer 
than forty Americans have within the past two 3'ears been hunted 
down, and without a moment's warning, hurried away in chains, 
and consigned to slavery and excruciating torture. Some of these 
have had wives and children dependent on them for bread; but of 
this no account was made. The right of the hunter to his prey, 
stands superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this re- 
public, the riglits of God included! For black men there are nei- 
ther law, justice, humanity, nor religion. The fugitive slave law 
makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. 
An American judge gets tex dollars for every victim he consigns 
to slavery, and five, when he fails to do so. The oath of and two 
villians is sufiicient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the 
most pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of 
slavei'y ! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no wit- 
nesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound by the 
law to hear but one side; and that side is the side of the oppressor. 
Let- this damning fact be perpetually told. Let it be thundered 
around the world, that, in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-lov- 
ing, democratic, christian America, the seats of justice are filled 
with judges, who hold their office under an open and palpable bribe, 
and are bound, in deciding in the case of a man's liberty, to hear only 
his accusers ! 

In glaring violation of justice, in shamelesss disregard of the forma 
of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the de- 



fenseless, and in diabolical intent, this fugitive slave law stands 
alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be 
another nation on the globe having the brass and the baseness to 
put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in this assembly 
thinks differentl}' from me in this matter, and feels able to disprove 
my statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and 
place he may select. 



Sir, it is evident that there is in this country a purely slavery 
party — a party which exists for no other earthly purpose but to 
promote the interests of slavery. The presence of this party is felt 
everywhere in the republic. It is known by no particular name, 
and has assumed no definite shape ; but its branches reach far and 
wide in the church and in the state. This shapeless and nameless 
party is not intangible in other and more important respects. That 
party, sir, has determined upon a fixed, definite, and comprehen- 
sive policy toward the whole colored population of the United 
States. What that policy is, it becomes us as abolitionists, and es- 
pecially does it become the colored people themselves, to consider 
and to understand fully. We ought to know who our enemies are, 
where they are, and what are their objects and measures. Well, 
sir, here is my version of it — not original with me — but mine be- 
cause I hold it to be true. 

I understand this policy to comprehend five cardinal objects. 
They are these : Ist. The complete suppression of all anti-slavery 
discussion. 2d. The expatriation of the entire free people of color 
from the United States. Zd. The unending perpetuation of slavery 
in this republic. 4th. The nationalization of slavery to the extent 
of making slavery respected in every state of the Union. 5th. The 
extension of slavery over Mexico and the entire South American 

Sir, these objects are forcibly presented to us in the stern logic 
of passing events ; in the facts which are and have been passing 
around us during the last three years. The country has been and 
is now dividing on these grand issues. In their magnitude, these 
issues cast all others into the shade, depriving them of all life and 
vitality. Old party ties are broken. Like is finding its like on 


either side of these great issues, and the great battle is at hand. 
For the present, the best representative of the slavery party in pol- 
itics is the democratic party. Its great head for the present is 
President Pierce, vsrhose boast it Avas, before his election, that his 
whole life had been consistent with the interests of slavery, that he 
is above reproach on that score. In his inaugural addresp, he re- 
assures the south on this point. Well, the head of the slave power 
being in power, it is natural that the pro-slavery elements should 
cluster around the administration, and this is rapidly being done. 
A fraternization is going on. The stringent protectionists and the 
free-traders strike hands. The supporters of Fillmore are becom- 
ing the supporters of Pierce. The silver-gray whig shakes hands 
with the hunker democrat; the former only differing from the lat- 
ter in name. They are of one heart, one mind, and the union is 
natural and perhaps inevitable. Both hate negroes; both hate 
progress ; both hate the "higher law ; " both hate William H. Sew- 
ard ; both hate the free democratic party; and upon this hateful 
basis they are forming aunion of hatred. "Pilate and Herod are 
thus made friends." Even the central organ of the whig party is 
extending its beggar hand for a morsel from the table of slavery 
democracy, and when spurned from the feast by the more deserv- 
ing, it pockets the insult ; when kicked on one side it turns the 
other, and perseveres in its importunities. The fact is, that paper 
comprehends the demands of the times ; it understands the age and 
its issues ; it wisely sees that slavery and freedom are the great an- 
tagonistic forces in the country, and it goes to its owji side. Silver 
grays and hunkers all understand this. They are, therefore, rap- 
idly sinking all other questions to nothing, compared with the in- 
creasing demands of slavery. They are collecting, arranging, and 
consolidating their forces for the accomplishment of their appointed 

The keystone to the arch of this grand union of the slaver}" party 
of the United States, is the compromise of 1850. In that compro- 
mise we have all the objects of our slaveholding policy specified. 
It is, sir, favorable to this view of the designs of the slave power, 
that both the whig and the democratic party bent lower, sunk 
deeper, and strained harder, in their conventions, preparatory to 
the late presidential election, to meet the demands of the slavery 
party than at any previous time in their history. Never did par- 
ties come before the northern people with propositions of such nn- 


disguised contempt for the moral sentiment and the religions ideas 
of that people. They virtually asked them to unite in a war upon 
free speech, and upon conscience, and to drive the Almighty presence 
from the councils of the nation. Resting their platforms upon the 
fugitive slave bill, they boldh" asked the people for political power 
to execute the horrible and hell-black provisions of that bill. The his- 
tory of that election reveals, with great clearness, the extent to which 
slavery has shot its leprous distillment through the life-blood of the 
nation. The party most thoroughly opposed to the cause of justice 
and humanity, triumphed ; while the party suspected of a leaning 
toward liberty, was overwhelmingly defeated, some say annihilated. 

But here is a still more important fact, illustrating the designs 
of the slave power. It is a fact full of meaning, that no sooner did 
the democratic slavery party come into power, thaft a system of le- 
gislation was presented to the legislatures of the northern states, 
designed to put the states in harmony with the fugitive slave law, 
and the malignant bearing of the national government toward the 
colored inhabitants of the country. This whole movement on the 
part of the states, bears the evidence of having one origin, ema- 
nating from one head, and urged forward b}' one power. It was 
simultaneous, uniform, and general, and looked to one end. It 
was intended to put thorns under feet already bleeding ; to 
crush a people already bowed down ; to enslave a people already 
but half free; in a word, it was intended to discourage, dishearten, 
and drive the free colored people out of the country. In looking 
at the recent black law of Illinois, one is struck dumb with its enor- 
mity. It would seem that the men who enacted that law, had not 
onlv banished from their minds all sense of justice, but all sense of 
siiame. It C00II3' proposes to sell the bodies and souls of the black 
to increase the intelligence and refinement of the whites ; to rob 
every black stranger who ventures among them, to increase their 
literary" fund. 

While this is going on in the states, a pro-slavery, political board 
of health is established at Washington. Senators Hale, Chase, and 
Sumner are robbed of a part of their senatorial dignity and conse- 
quence as representing sovereign states, because they have refused 
to be inoculated with the slavery virus. Among the services which 
a senator is expected by his state to perform, are many that can 
only be done efiiciently on committees; and, in saying to these hon- 
orable senators, you shall not serve on the committees of this body, 


tlie slavery party took the responsibility of robbing and insulting 
tlie states that sent them. It is an attempt at Washington to de- 
cide for the states who shall be sent to the senate. Sir, it strikes 
me that this aggression on the part of the slave power did not meet 
at the hands of the proscribed senators the rebuke which we had a 
right to expect would be administered. It seems to me that an op- 
portunity was lost, that the great principle of senatorial equality 
was left undefended, at a time when its vindication was sternly 
demanded. But it is not to the purpose of my present statement 
to criticise the conduct of our friends. I am persuaded that much . 
ought to be left to the discretion of anti-slavery men in congress, 
and charges of recreancy should never be made but on the most 
sufficient grounds. For, of all the places in the world where an 
anti-slavery man needs the confidence and encouragement of friends, 
I take Washington to be that place. 

Let me now call attention to the social influences which are 
operating and cooperating with the slavery party of the coun- 
try, designed to contribute to one or all of the grand objects 
aimed at by that party. We see here the black man attacked 
in his vital interests ; prejudice and hate are excited against him ; 
enmity is stirred up between him and other laborers. The 
Irish people, warm-hearted, generous, and sympathizing with the 
oppressed everywhere, when they stand upon their own green 
island, are instantly taught, on arriving in this christian country, 
to hate and despise the colored people. They are taught to be- 
lieve that we eat the bread which of right belongs to them. The 
cruel lie is told the Irish, that our adversity is essential to their 
prosperit}". Sir, the Irish-American will find out his mistake one 
day. He will find that in assuming our avocation he also has as- 
sumed our degradation. But for the present we are sufferers. The 
old emj^loyments by which we have heretofore gained our livelihood, 
are gradually, and it may be inevitably, passing into other hands. 
Every hour sees us elbowed out of some employment to make room 
perhaps for some newly-arrived emigrants, whose hunger and color 
are thought to give them a title to especial favor. White men are 
becoming house-servants, cooks, and stewards, common laborers, 
and flunkeys to our gentry, and, for aught I see, they adjust them- 
selves to their stations with all becoming obsequiousness. This fact 
proves that if we cannot rise to the whites, the whites can fall to 
138. Now, sir, look one© more. While the colored people are thus 


elbowed out of employment ; while the enmity of emigrants is be- 
ing excited against us; while state after state enacts laws against 
us; while we are hunted down, like wild game, and oppressed with 
a general feeling of insecurity, — the American colonization society 
— that old offender against the best interests and slanderer of the 
colored people — awakens to new life, and vigorously presses its 
Bcheme upon the consideration of the people and the govern- 
ment. Xew papers are started — some for the north and some for 
the south — and each in its tone adapting itself to its latitude. Gov- 
ernment, state and national, is called upon for appropriations to 
enable the society to send us out of the country by steam ! They 
want steamers to carry letters and negroes to Africa. Evidently, 
this society looks upon our " extremit}" as its opportunity," and we 
may expect that it will use the occasion welL . They do not de- 
plore, but glory, in our misfortunes. 

But, sir, I must hasten. I have thus briefly given my view of 
one aspect of the present condition and future prospects of the col- 
ored people of the United States. And what I have said is far from 
encouraging to my afflicted people. I have seen the cloud gather 
upon the sable brows of some who hear me. I confess the case 
looks black enough. Sir, I am not a hopeful man. I think I am 
apt even to undercalculate the benefits of the future. Yet, sir, in 
this seemingly desperate case, I do not despair for my people. 
There is a bright side to almost every picture of this kind; and 
ours is no exception to the general rule. If the influences against 
us are strong, those for us are also strong. To the inquiry, will our 
enemies prevail in the execution of their designs. In my God and 
in ray soul, I believe they will not. Let us look at the first object 
sought for by the slavery party of the country, viz : the suppression 
of anti-slavery discussion. They desire to suppress discussion on 
this subject, with a view to the peace of the slaveholder and the 
security of slavery. ;?7ow, sir, neither the principle nor the subor- 
dinate objects here declared, can be at all gained by the slave power, 
and for this reason : It involves the proposition to padlock the 
lips of the whites, in order to secure the fetters on the limbs of the 
blacks. The right of speech, precious and priceless, cannot, will not, 
be siirrendered to slavery. Its suppression is asked for, as I have 
said, to give peace and security to slaveholders. Sir, that thing 
cannot be done. God has interposed an insuperable obstacle to any 
Buch result. "There can be no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.'' 


Suppose it "were possible to put down this discussion, what would 
it avail the guilty slaveholder, pillowed as he is upon the heaving 
bosoms of ruined souls? He could not have a peaceful spirit. If 
every anti-slavery tongue in the nation were silent — every anti- 
slavery organization dissolved — every anti-slavery press demol- 
ished — every anti-slavery periodical, paper, book, pamphlet, or 
what not, were searched out, gathered together, deliberately burned 
to ashes, and their ashes given to the four winds of heaven, still, 
still the slaveholder could have "«o peace." In every pulsation of 
his heart, in every throb of his life, in every glance of his eye, in 
the breeze that soothes, and in the thunder that startles, would be 
waked up an accuser, whose cause is, "Thou art, verily, guilty con- 
cerning thy brother." 



A GRAND movement on the part of mankind, in any direction, or 
for any purpose, .moral or political, is an interesting fact, fit and 
proper to be studied. It is such, not only for those who eagerly 
participate in it, but also for those who stand aloof from it — even 
for those by whom it is opposed. I take the anti-slavery movement 
to be such an one, and a movement as sublime and glorious in its 
character, as it is holy and beneficent in the ends it aims to accom- 
plish. At this moment, I deem it safe to say, it is properly en- 
grossing more minds in this country than any other subject now be- 
fore the American people. The late John C. Calhoun — one of the 
mightiest men that ever stood up in the American senate — did not 
deem it beneath him ; and he probably studied it as deeplj", though 
not as honestly, as Gerrit Smith, or "William Lloyd Garrison. He 
evinced the greatest familiarity with the subject; and the greatest 
efforts of his last j^ears in the senate had direct reference to this 
movement. His eagle eye watched every new development con- 
nected with it ; and he was ever prompt to inform the south of 
every im23ortant step in its progress. He never allowed himself to 
make light of it ; but always spoke of it and treated it as a matter 
of grave import ; and in this he showed himself a master of tlie 
mental, moral, and religious constitution of human society. Daniel 
Webster, too, in the better days of his life, before he gave his assent 
to the fugitive slave bill, and trampled upon all his earlier and bet- 
ter convictions — when his eye was yet single — he clearly compre- 
hended the nature of the elements involved in this movement; and 
m his own majestic eloquence, warned the south, and the country, 
to have a care how they attempted to put it down. He is an illus- 
tration that it is easier to give, than to take, good advice. To these 
two men — the greatest men to whom the nation has yet given birth — 



may be traced the two great facts of the present — the south tri- 
umphant, and the north humbled. Their names may stand thus, — 
Calhoun and domination — Webster and degradation. Yet again. 
If to the enemies of liberty this subject is one of engrossing inter- 
est, vastly more so should it be such to freedom's friends. The lat- 
ter, it leads to the gates of all valuable knowledge — philanthropic, 
ethical, and religious; for it brings them to the study of man, won- 
derfully and fearfull}' made — the proper study of man through all 
time — the open book, in Vy' hich are the records of time and eternity. 
Of the existence and power of the anti-slavery movement, as a 
fact, you need no evidence. The nation has seen its face, and felt 
the controlling pressure of its hand. You have seen it moving in 
all directions, and in all weathers, and in all places, appearing most 
where desired least, and pressing hardest where most resisted. No 
place is exempt. The quiet prayer meeting, and the stormy halls 
of national debate, share its presence alike. It is a common intru- 
der, and of course has the name of being ungentlemanly. Brethren 
who had long sung, in the most affectionate fervor, and with the 
greatest sense of security, 

"Together let us sweetly live — together let us die," 

have been suddenly and violently separated by it, and ranged in 
hostile attitude toward each other. The Methodist, one of the most 
powerful religious organizations of this country, has been rent asun- 
der, and its strongest bolts of denominational brotherhood started 
at a single surge. It has changed the tone of the northern pulpit, 
and modified that of the press. A celebrated divine, who, four 
years ago, was for flinging his own mother, or brother, into the re- 
morseless jaws of the monster slaver}", lest he should swallow up 
the Union, now recognizes anti-slavery as a characteristic of future 
civilization. Signs and wonders follow this movement ; and the 
fact just stated is one of them. Party ties are loosened by it; and 
men are compelled to take sides for or against it, whether they will 
or not. Come from where he may, or come for what he may, he is 
compelled to show his hand. What is this mighty force ? What is 
its history? and what is its destiny? Is it ancient or modern, tran- 
sient or permanent ? Has it turned aside, like a stranger and a so- 
journer, to tarry for anight? or has it come to rest with us forever? 
Excellent chances are here for speculation ; and some of them are 
quite profound. We might, for instance, proceed to inquire not 


only into the pliilosophy of the anti-slavery movement, but into the 
philosophy of the law, in obedience to which that movement started 
into existence. "We might demand to know what is that law or 
power which, at different times, disposes the minds of men to this 
or that particular object — now for peace, and now for war — now for 
freedom, and now for slavery ; but this profound question I leave 
to the abolitionists of the superior class to answer. The speculations 
which must precede such answer, would afford, perhaps, about the 
same satisfaction as the learned theories which have rained down 
upon the world, from time to time, as to the origin of evil. I shall, 
therefore, avoid water in which I cannot swim, and deal with anti- 
slavery as a fact, like any other fact in the history of mankind, ca- 
pable of being described and understood, both as to its internal 
forces, and its external phases and relations. 

[After an eloquent, a full, and highly interesting exposition of the nature, charac- 
ter, and history of the anti-slavery movement, from the insertion of which want of 
space precludes us, he concluded in the following happy manner.] 

Present organizations may perish, bxit the cause will go on. That 
cause has a life, distinct and independent of the organizations 
patched up from time to time to carry it forward. Looked at, 
apart from the bones and sinews and body, it is a thing immortal. 
It is the very essence of justice, liberty, and love. The moral life 
of human society, it cannot die while conscience, honor, and hu- 
manity remain. If but one be filled with it, the cause lives. Its 
incarnation in any one individual man, leaves the whole world a 
priesthood, occupying the highest moral eminence — even that of 
disinterested benevolence. Whoso has ascended this height, and 
has the grace to stand there, has the world at his feet, and is the 
world's teacher, as of divine right. He may set in judgment on the 
age, upon the civilization of the age, and upon the religion of the 
age ; for he has a test, a sure and certain test, by which to try all 
institutions, and to measure all men. I say, he may do this, but 
this is not the chief business for which he is qualified. The great 
work to which he is called is not that of judgment. Like the 
Prince of Peace, he may sav, if I judge, I judge righteous judgment; 
still mainly, like him, he may say, this is not his work. The man 
who has thoroughly embraced the principles of justice, love, and 
liberty, like the true preacher of Christianity, is less anxious to re- 
proach the world of its sins, than to win it to repentance. Hia 


great -vvork on eartli is to exemplify, and to illustrate, and to in- 
graft those principles upon the living and practical understandings 
of all men within the reach of his influence. This is his work ; long 
or short his years, many or few his adherents, powerful or weak his 
instrumentalities, through good report, or through bad report, this 
is his work. It is to snatch from the bosom of nature the la- 
tent facts of each individual man's experience, and with steady hand 
to hold them up fresh and glowing, enforcing, with all his power, 
their acknowledgment and practical adoption. If there be but one 
such man in the land, no matter what becomes of abolition socie- 
ties and parties, there will be an anti-slavery cause, and an anti- 
slavery movement. Fortunately for that cause, and fortunately for 
him by whom it is espoused, it requires no extraordinary amount 
of talent to preach it or to receive it when preached. The grand 
secret of its power is, that each of its principles is easily ren- 
dered appreciable to the facult}" of reason in man, and that the most 
unenlightened conscience has no difficulty in deciding on Avhich 
side to register its testimony. It can call its preachers from among 
the fishermen, and raise them to power. In every human breast, 
it has an advocate which can be silent only when the heart is dead. 
It comes home to every man's understanding, and appeals directly 
to every man's conscience. A man that does not recognize and ap- 
prove for himself the rights and privileges contended for, in behalf of 
the American slave, has not yet been found. In whatever else men 
may differ, the}^ are alike in the apprehension of their natural and 
personal rights. The difference between abolitionists and those by 
whom they are opposed, is not as to principles. All are agreed in 
respect to these. The manner of ap2il3'ing them is the point of 

The slaveholder himself, the daily robber of his equal brother, 
discourses eloquently as to the excellency of justice, and the man 
who employs a brutal driver to flay the flesh of his negroes, is not 
offended when kindness and humanity are commended. Every time 
the abolitionist speaks of justice, the anti-abolitionist assents — savs, 
yes, I wish the world were filled with a disposition to render to 
every man what is riglitfulh* due him ; I should then get what is 
due m.e. That's right; let us have justice. By all means, let us 
have justice. Every time the abolitionist speaks in honor of hu- 
man liberty, he touches a chord in the heart of the anti-aboli- 
tionist, which responds in hai'monious vibrations. Liberty — yes, 


that is very evidently my right, and let him beware "^Iio at- 
tempts, to invade or abridge that right. Every time he speaks of 
love, of human brotherhood, and the reciprocal duties of man and 
man, the antl-abolitionist assents — says, yes, all right — all true — 
we cannot have such ideas too often, or too fully expressed. So he 
says, and so he feels, and only shows thereby that he is a man as 
well as an anti-abolitionist. You have only to keep out of sight the 
manner of applying your principles, to get them endorsed every 
time. Contemplating himself, he sees truth with absolute clearness 
and distinctness. He only blunders when asked to lose sight of 
himself. In his own cause he can beat a Boston lawyer, but he is 
dumb when asked to plead the cause of others. He knows very 
well whatsoever he would have done unto himself, but is quite in 
doubt as to having the same thing done imto others. It is just here, 
that lions spring up in the path of duty, and the battle once fought 
in heaven is refought on the earth. So it is, so hath it ever been, 
and so must it ever be, when the claims of justice and mercy make 
their demand at the door of human selfishness. Nevertheless, there 
is that witiiin which ever pleads for tiie right and the just. 

In conclusion, I have taken a sober view of the present anti-sla- 
very movement. I am sober, but not hopeless. There is no deny- 
ing, for it is everywhere admitted, that the anti-slavery question is 
the great moral and social question now befoi'e the American peo- 
ple. A state of things has gradually been developed, by which 
that question has become the first thing in order. It must be met. 
Herein is my hope. The great idea of impartial liberty is now 
fairly before the American people. Anti-slavery is no longer a 
thing to be prevented. The time for prevention is past. This is 
great gain. Tv'hen the movement was younger and weaker — when 
it wrought in a Boston garret to human appiehension, it might 
have been silently put out of the way. Things are different now. 
It has grown too large — its friends are too numerous — its facilities 
too abundant — its ramifications too extended — its power too omnip- 
otent, to be snuffed out by the contingencies of infancy. A thou- 
sand strong men might be struck down, and its ranks still be invin- 
cible. One flash from the heart-supplied intellect of Harriet Beecher 
Stowe could light a million camp fires in front of the embattled 
host of slavery, which not all the waters of the Mississippi, mingled 
as they are with blood, could extinguish. The present will be looked 
to by after coming generations, as the age of anti-slavery literature 


— when supply on the gallop could not keep pace with the ever- 
growing demand — when a picture of a negro on the cover was^a 
help to the sale of a book — when conservative lyceums and other 
American literary associations began first to select their orators for 
distinguished occasions from the ranks of the previously despised 
abolitionists. If the anti-slavery movement shall fail now, it will 
not be from outward opposition, but from inward decay. Its aux- 
iliaries are everywhere. Scholars, authors, orators, poets, and states- 
men give it their aid. The most brilliant of American poets volun- 
teer in its service. "Whittier speaks in burning verse to more than 
thirty thousand, in the National Era. Your own Longfellow whis- 
pers, in every hour of trial and disappointment, "labor and wait." 
James Russell Lowell is reminding us that "men are more than in- 
stitutions." Pierpont cheers the heart of the pilgrim in search of 
liberty, by singing the praises of "the north star." Br3'ant, too, is 
with us ; and though chained to the car of part}", and dragged on 
amidst a whirl of political excitement, he snatches a moment for let- 
ting drop a smiling verse of sympathy for the man in chains. The 
poets are with us. It would seem almost absurd to say it, consid- 
ering the use that has been made of them, that we have allies in the 
Ethiopian songs; those songs that constitute our national music, 
and without which we have no national music. They are heart 
6ongs, and the finest feelings of human nature are expressed in them. 
"Lucy Xeal," "Old Kentucky Ilorae," and "Uncle Xed," can make 
the heart sad as well as meny, and can call forth a tear as well as a 
smile. They awaken the sympathies for the slave, in which anti- 
slavery principles take root, grow, and flourish. In addition to 
authors, poets, and scholars at home, the moral sense of the civilized 
world is with us. England, France, and Germany, the three great 
lights of modern civilization, are with us, and every American trav- 
eler learns to regret the existence of slavery in his country. The 
growth of intelligence, the influence of commerce, steam, wind, and 
lightning are our allies. It would be easy to amplify this summar}-, 
and to swell the vast conglomeration of our material forces ; but 
there is a deeper and truer method of measuring the power of our 
cause, and of comprehending its vitality. This is to be found in its 
accordance with the best elements of human nature. It is beyond 
the power of slavery to annihilate afiinities recognized and estab- 
lished by the Almighty. The slave is bound to mankind by the 
powerful and inextricable net- work of human brotherhood. His 


voice is tlie voice of a man, and his cry is the cry of a man in dis- 
tress, and man must cease to be man before he can become insensi- 
ble to that ci'j. It is the righteousness of the cause — the humanity 
of the cause — which constitutes its potency. As one genuine bank- 
bill is worth more than a thousand counterfeits, so is one man, with 
right on his side, worth more than a thousand in the wrong. " One 
may chase a thousand, and put ten thousand to flight." It is, there- 
fore, upon the goodness of our cause, more than upon all other aux- 
iliaries, that we depend for its final triumph. 

Another source of congratulation is the fact that, amid all the ef- 
forts made by the church, the government, and the people at large, 
to stay the onward progress of this movement, its course has been 
onward, steady, straight, unshaken, and unchecked from the begin- 
ning. Slavery has gained victories large and nimierous ; but never 
as against this movement — against a temporizing policy, and against 
northern timidity, the slave power has been victorious ; but against 
the spread and prevalence in the country, of a spirit of resistance to 
its aggression, and of sentiments favorable to its entire overthrow, 
it has yet accomplished nothing. Every measure, yet devised and 
executed, having for its object the suppression of anti-slavery, has 
been as idle and fruitless as pouring oil to extinguish fire. A gen- 
eral rejoicing took place on the passage of " the compromise meas- 
ures " of 1 850. Those measures were called peace measures, and were 
afterward termed by both the great parties of the country, as well 
as by leading statesmen, a final settlement of the whole question of 
slavery ; but experience has laughed to scorn the wisdom of pro- 
slavery statesmen ; and their final settlement of agitation seems to 
be the final revival, on a broader and grander scale than ever be- 
fore, of the question which they vainly attempted to suppress for- 
ever. The fugitive slave bill has especially been of positive service 
to the anti-slavery movement. It has illustrated before all the peo- 
ple the horrible character of slavery toward the slave, in hunting 
him down in a free state, and tearing him away from wife and chil- 
dren, thus setting its claims higher than marriage or parental claims. 
It has revealed the arrogant and overbearing spirit of tlie slave 
states toward the free states ; despising their principles — shocking 
their feelings of humanity, not only by bringing before them the 
abominations of slavery, but by attempting to make them parties to 
the crime. It has called into exercise among the colored people, the 
hunted ones, a spirit of manly resistance well calculated to surrouud 


them -with a bulvrark of sympathy and respect hitherto unknown. 
For men are always disposed to respect and defend rights, when the 
victims of oppression stand up manfully for themselves. 
■ There is another element of power added to the anti-slavery 
movement, of great importance; it is the conviction, becoming 
every day more general and imiversal, that slavery must be abol- 
ished at the south, or it will demoralize and destroy liberty at the 
north. It is the nature of slavery to beget a state of things all 
around it favorable to its own continuance. This fact, connected 
with the s3'stem of bondage, is beginning to be more fully realized. 
The slave-holder is not satisfied to associate with men in the church 
or in the state, unless he can thereby stain them with the blood of 
his slaves. To be a slave-holder is to be a propagandist from neces- 
sity ; for slavery can only live by keeping down the under-growth 
morality which nature supplies. Evei'y new-born white babe comes 
armed from the Eternal presence, to make war on slavery. The 
heart of pity, which would melt in due time over the brutal chas- 
tisements it sees inflicted on the helpless, must be hardened. And 
this work goes on every day in the year, and every hour in the day. 
What is done at home is being done also abroad here in the north. 
And even nov/ the question may be asked, have we at tliis moment 
a single free state in the Union? The alarm at this point will be- 
come more general. The slave power must go on in its career of ex- 
actions. Give, give, will be its cry, till the timidity which concedes 
shall give place to courage, which shall resist. Such is the voice of 
experience, such has been the past, sucli is the present, and such 
will be that future, which, so sure as man is man, will come. Here 
I leave the subject; and I leave off wliere I began, consoling myself 
and congratulating the friends of freedom upon the fact that the anti- 
slavery cause is not a new thing under the sun; not some moral de- 
lusion which a few years' experience may dispel. It has appeared 
among men in all ages, and summoned its advocates from all ranks. 
Its foundations are laid in the deepest and holiest convictions, and 
from whatever soul the demon, selfishness, is expelled, there will 
this cause take up its abode. Old as the everlasting hills; immova- 
ble as the throne of God; and certain as tlie purposes of eternal 
power, against all hinderances, and against all delays, and despite all 
the mutations of human instrumentalities, it is the faith of my soul, 
that this anti-slavery cause will triumph. 


The Narrative of Solomon Nortiiup, a citizen of New York, 

Kidnapped in. "Washington City, iu IS-tl, and Rescued in 1853, 

from a Cotton Plantation neai' Red River, Louisiana. 

1 1llustrations, 336 pp. 12mo. Price $1,00 


The narratire will bo read with interest by every one who can sympathize with a hu- 
man being struggling for freedom. — Ii>fff. Cour. 

The volume cannot fail to gain a M^ide circulation. No one can contemplate the scenes 
Tvhich are here so naturally set forth, without a new conviction of the hi(lei)usness of the 
institution from which the subject of the narrative has hai>pily escaped. — X. Y.Trihuiie. 

We think the story as atfecting as anj- tale of sorrow could be. — 21. Y. EvangelM. 

It proves conclusively that Uncle Tom"s Cabin is a tTuthful history of American Slavery, 
though drawn under the veil of fiction. — Otsego Hep. 

Xe\'t to Uncle Tom's Cabin, the extraordinary narrative of Solomon Xorthup. is the 
most remarkable book that was ever issued from the American pi-ess. — Detroit Trib. 

Tiiis is a simple, earnest, moving narrative of the events,vicissitudes, cruelties and 
kindnesses of a bondage of 12 years. If there are those who can jieruse it unmoved, wo 
pity them. That it will create as great a sensation, and be regarded equally as interesting 
SIS •' Uncle Tom"s Cabin,"' is not a question for argument. — BvTfulo Exjjress. 

This is one of the most exciting narratives, full of thrilling incidents artlessly told, with 
fill the marks of truth. There are no depicted scenes in " Uncle Tom '' more tragic, horri- 
ble, and pat!ietic,tlian the incidents compassed in the twelve years of this man"s life in 
slavery. — Cincinnati Jour. 

lie who with an unbiassed mind sits down to the perusal of this book, will arise per- 
f.^ctly satisfied that American slavery is a hell of torments yet untold, and feel like devo- 
ung tlie energies of his life to its extirpation from the face of God's beautiful earth. — 
Er'ening Chron. 

The story is one of thrilling interest as a mere personal history. lie is but a little darker 
than many who i>ass for white, and quite as intelligent as most white men. — A''. C. Adv. 

The book is one of most absorbing interest. — Pittsburgh Dispatch. 

It is written in a racy, agTeeable st3ie, and narrates with admirable conciseness, yet 
animation the story < if the sutterings, woes and persecutions of the hero. It is no less 
remarkable for candor and unity of purpose than for literary ability. — Oneida Her. 

It is one of the most efi'ective books against slavery that was ever written. "Archy 
Moore" and" Uncle Tom" are discredited by many as "'romances;" but how the apolo- 
gi?t.s for the institution can dispose of Northup we are curious to see. — Syracuse Jour. 

It is well told and bears internal evidence of being a clear statement of facts. There is 
no attempt at display, but the events are so graphically portrayed, that the interest in the 
perusal is deep and unabated to the last Some of the scenes have a fearful and exciting 
power in their delineation. — Cayuga Chief. 

It is a strange history, its ti'uth is far stranger than fiction. Think of it! For thirty 
years a man, with all a man's hopes, fears and aspirations — with a wife and children to call 
tiini bv the endearing names of husband and father — with a home, humble it may be, 
but stiii a HOME, beneath the shelter of whose roof none had a right to molest or make him 
afraid — then for twelve )'ears a thixg, a chattel personal, classed with mules and horses 
and treated with less consideration than they; torn from his home and family, and the free 
labor by which he earned tlieir bread, and driven to unremitting, unrequited toil iu a cotton 
field, under a burning southern sun. by the lash of an inhuman master. Oh ! it is horri- 
ble. It cliills the blood to think that such things are. — Fred. Doughufi' Paper. 

It comes before us with highly respectable vouchers, and is a plain and simple statement 
of what happened to the author while in bondage to southern masters. It is a well told 
story, full of interest, and may be said to be the reality of "life among the lowly." — Buff. 
Coui. Adv. 

Let it be read by all those good easy souls, who think slavery is, on the whole a good 
thing. Let it be read by all who think that althougli slavery is politically and economi- 
cally a bad thing, it is not very bad for the slaves. Let it bo read by all those M. C.'s and 
sup[)orters who are always ready to give their votes, in aidof slavery and the slave trade 
with all the kKlnapping inseparable from it. Let it be read, too, by our southern friends, 
whf> pity with so much christian sensibility, the wretched condition of the free negroes at 
the north, and rejoice at the enviable condition of their own slaves. — X. Y. Ind. 

Published by MILLER, ORTON <& MULLIGA]^, 
Jfo. 25 Park Row, Xew York, and 107 Genesee-st., Auburn 







One vol. 12nio., 396 pp., 6 Steel Portraits. Price $1.25. 

Containing bold, vigorous and life-like sketches of the rise, 
progress, and present position of the principal Temperance 
and Anti-Slavery leaders of this country, including such emi- 
nent Reformers as the Beeciiers, ^Irs. Stowe, Greeley, 
Seward, Gough, Chapin, Frederick Douglass, &c. <kc., 
with extracts from their writings. 


If any wish for a bound picture gallery of very distinguished persons, letthoiii buy 
this book. — Eellgioas Herald. 

The descriptions are animated and critical, and besides giving information -which 
everybody desires to know, present many noble and just views of reform. — X. Y. 

Thousands feel the want of just such an acquaintance as this volume gives, with 
the early history and struggles of the men who are giving character to this age and 
nation. — C hristian, Measeiiger. 

It contains some of the best selections from the best works of the best writers 
and best men in the countr}'. — American Neics. 

The author has given brief and interesting biographies, quoting extensively from 
the writings of the persons sketched, making a very attractive book. Mr. Bartlett 
is a strong friend of freedom. lie admires and loves those who battle for the right. 
His task has evidently been a very pleasant one. We commend the book to our 
readers, as one which will pay perusal. — Cayuga Chief. 

Pleasantly and well written sketches of notable Americans, who have taken an ac- 
tive part in various reforms which have been going on in the Union for many 
years. — British Whig. 

No one can read it without profit and pleasure of the highest order. The " prin- 
ciples" and the "Men" portrayed are given with the pen of a ready writer. — Wes- 

We venture the assertion that there is not a volume in existence which contains 
better specimens of eloquence, impassioned, pathetic, indignatory — eloquence tliat 
rouses up the better feelings of humanity — than are contained in this volume. The 
sketches are superior specimens of pen-portraits. — Boston Visitor. 

The book is a capital one — replete with instructive, stirring matter. — Temperance 


No. 25 Park Row, New York, and 107 Genesee-st., Auburn. 


33,000 Copies Already Sold ! 


BY W:vl. H. SEWARD. 

Steel Portrait, 404 pp. 12iiio., illuslin. Price $1 25. 

"She points thee out 
To all thy sons, and bids theui eye thy star, — 
Thy star, which, followed steadfastly, 'shall lead, 
To wisdom, virtue, glory here, and'joy 
Unspeakable in worlds to come." 

For more than half a century, John Quincy Adams had occu- 
pied a prominent position before tlie American people, and filled a 
large space in his country's historj-. His career was protracted to ex- 
treme old age. He outliv^ed political enmity and party rancor. His 
purity of life — his elevated and patriotic principles of action — his love 
of country, and devotion to its interests — his advocacy of human free- 
dom, and the rights of man — brought all to honor and love him. Ad- 
miring legislators hung with rapture on the lips of "the Old Man Elo- 
quent," and millions eagerly perused the sentiments he uttered, as 
they -were scattered by the press in every town and hamlet of the 
"Western Continent. 

This is the only life extant of Jolin Quincy Adams which is within 
the reach of the people. The immense and continued demand for it, 
therefore, is not surprising. It is one of those fireside books which 
will be within the everyday reach of American readers. 

It is a book that cannot fail to be read with interest by the scholar as well as the 
masses. The writer seems imbued with a sincere reverence for the great man whose 
career he chronicles, and depicts its various eventful incidents with si>irit and fidelity. 
Tliere is no book that we now remember, which presents in the same compass so much 
that is interesting in our history, during the period of which it treats. — Wash. Eepuh. 

"We would recommend this work to every class of mind — to the vicious, that they may 
be benefited by the contrast ; to the virtuous, that they may be incited to still higher at- 
tainments; to the patriot, that the love of country may be renewed in his bosom"; to the 
christian, that he may see how to honor God in exalted positions; to the youn?. that 
they mjiy drink from the pure rill of patriotism, and learn to cherish and protect their 
privileges; and histly, to the old. that they may yet once more read the lessons of wis- 
dom, as they distilled from the lips of him who was a Nestor among statesmen. — Wis- 
consin Chronicle, 

It is well adapted for popular reading, and comes within the means of every citizen. 
And possessing, as it does, a fund of hi:^torical and biographical information, of the most 
interesting description, it will be a desirable hook for the library, and a welcouie compan- 
ion to any man who cherishes a respect for the memory of Adams. — Boston Journal. 

It would be a ta«k of no ordinary difficulty for a contemporary, one who has mingled 
in the strife and arena of his times, to write an impartial life of so peculiar and promi- 
nent an actor (for half a century) as Mr. Adams. Gov. Seward luis attempted it, and 
succeeded in producing an interesting work, characterized by ability and eloquence. We 
C'nsider it worthy of public attention. — Albany Argus. 

We have read this volume with great attention, and hasten to express our thanks to 
the author; not merely for the pleasure afforded us, but for the service rendered humau- 
ity. — Louisville Examiner, 

25 Park Row, New York, and lO"? Genesee-st., Auburn. 


The great Temperance Tale. By T. W. Brown, Editor of the 

"Cayuga Chief," and auuior ^f "Temperance Tales." Portrait 

and four illustrations. Muslin, 472 pp. 12mo. Price $1,25. 

Brief Extracts from Notices of the Press. 

This -work bears the impress of life-like scenes. — Boston Olirie Branch. 

The st(^ry is dramatically worked up, involving a great variety of moving scenes. — N 
Y. Evangeii^t. 

Tills iP a powerfully written and absorbingly interesting volume. — Eurcd Keio Yorker. 

Tills is a freshly, buldlj'^ written story, free from fanaticism, and advocating the cause ol 
temi)erance by argumentative incidents taken from real life. — Dodge's Lit. Museum. 

Mr. Brown is a vigorous and agreeable writer, and never forgets the object be has in 
view, — the correction of a great public evil. — Butfalo I^fpuhlie. 

Its incidents are life-like, and are thriilingly related — terrible pictures of the misfor- 
tune and scandal of fallen man. — BuTfulo Christum Ad ix>t\ite. 

It is smoothly and strongly written — full of incident — and makes eloquent appeals to 
the heart and the conscience. — Buffalo Express. 

It appeals eloquently to the better feelinijrs (jf humanity, and we predict that it will be- 
come the "Uncle Tom'" of teetotalism. — Yankee Blade. 

Its matter is drawn from life, "written with a throbbing nib, and its truth sealed with 
the endorsement of a scalding tear." — Syracuse Journal. 

Among the many works which the Temperance Reform has of late years produced, 
few will rank as liigh as Minnie llermon. — Sijractu'ie Religioii.H Recorder. 

Mr. Brown has attained considerable reputation as a writer of Temfierance stories, llis 
works of that descri{)tion have had a wide circulation. — Cincinnati Commercial. 

This is a thrilling Temperance narrative. — Pittsburg Christian Advuctde. 

The characters are all drawn from life, and are sketched with a vigorous and fearless 
pen. — Maine Farmer. 

There are many passages of surpassing power and beauty, the effect of which the reader 
will find it dittieult to resist. — Auburn Adverii.ter. 

Mr. Brown narrates scenes which are strikiiiirly true to nature, which stir the blood 
ami provoke scalding tears. — Detroit Ch. Herald. 

The evils of the License system are drawn out with fcurfiil distinctness. — Toledo Blade. 

The work will be found a powerful ally by the friends of the Temperance Keform, and 
ghonld be circulated iar and wide — N. Y. Tribune. 

Minnie llermon is a story of thrilling interest, and of the highest moral tendencies. It 
is truly a " Tale for the Times." — Phrenol. Journal. 

A beautiful volume, and tliough called a tale, yet every chapter is drawn from life. — 
Baltimore Luth-eran Observer. 

Minnie Hermon is a book that ■will make its mark in a book making age. It is wor 
thy ot a wide circulation. — JVorthern Chr~L'itian Advocate. 

All of it sweet toned and pure, and some scenes really powerful — Sat. Eve. Post. 

Some of its passages have a beauty and force rivaling the great masters of fiction. — 
Rickiiiond CliriKtian Advoc<de. 

This excellent story should be read by both old and younsr. — Star Spangled Banner. 

It is a Tem[ierance Tale, told attractively, and printed and bound in first-rate style.- 
AU: Eve. Journal. 

Minnie Hermon is a vivid delineation, in the form of a romance, of the evils of Intern 
perance. — ^V. Y. Eve. Post. 

A valuable adjunct in the great moral movement of the age. — American Courier. 

This book must become very popular, and obtain a large circulation. — Milicaukie Sent. 

A valuable addition to the Temperance literature of our country. — y. Y. Alliance. 

It is written in a forcible and graphic style. — Temperance Banner. 

This Life-Tale, we are sure, will command the best commendation in the reading. — 
Lancaster E-vpress. 

As an addition to the Temperance literature of the day, it has its mission, and con- 
tains elements of power that cannot fail to execute that mission successfully. — Chicago 
C h rist. Advoca te. 

The author has succeeded in producing a work of rare merit. We hope it will be 
widely circulated. — Christian Ambasssador. 


No. 25 Park Row, Ne\v York, and MT (J.'ne.see-st., Ai;r>i:RV.