(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Twelve years a slave Narrative of Solomon Northup, a citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River, in Louisiana"

SUBSCRIPTION BOOKS: 



BLAKE S FARMER S EVERY DAY BOOK; 

<?r. How a Former may Became RieJi : Being Sketches of Life in the Country, -with 
the Popular Elements of Practical and Theoretical Agriculture, and Twelve Hun- 
livd Laconics and Apothegms, relating to Morals, Kegimen, and General Litera- 
tuiv; a No Five Hundred Receipts on Health, Cookery, and Domestic Economy; 
with ten line Illustrations, representing the various scenes attendant upon Farming, 
i-ii . l>y JOHN L. BLAKE, D. D., author of "Biographical Dictionary," etc., etc. 

"; ^ The publishers respectfully announce that they have undertaken the publica- 
!>..!! of tiiis larsre and beautiful work, with a view to supply a tfesitjerafum that has 
li in. been felt a bonk for fi cri/ Fanner s Library believing that the venerable 
un!lii>r ha* produced a work that will be wortli its weight in gold to every Farmer s 
I aiiiily that thoroughly peruse it. The work contains 604 pages, large octavo, with 
a motfo surrounding each page. It is printed on fine paper, and bound in substantial 
imituUuu Turkey morocco, gilt back. Retail price $2,50. 

FHOST AND DRAKE S BOOK OF INDIAN WARS AND CAPTIVITIES, 

CEING A COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE IXDIAX WABS OF THE TJXITED STATES, 

Kml>rarin _ r the early Indian Warsof the Colonies nnd the American devolution, King 
I liilip s War. the" French and Indian Wars, the North-Western War, Black Hawk 
War, Seminoie War. &c., &c., together with Indian Captivities being true Narra 
tives of Captives who have been carried away by the Indians, from the Frontier 
.- -ttbrncnts of the United States, from the earliest period to the present time. By 
.LIMN I HOST. LE. D., and SAM TEL G. DKAKK, M. I). Well printed, on <rood paper, 
rind l.oiind in. elegant red morocco binding. 634 pages, large octavo, and illustrated 
with 106 engravings, from original designs by W. Crooiue, and other distinguished 
artists. Retail price $2,50. 

J roft JT Vost * *\*ew Worl:! 

GREAT MEX AXD GREAT EVENTS IX HISTORY, 

From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, beginning with Eizypt under the first 
L haraohs, and brought down to the Discovery of Gold in California. Illustrated 
with 30(i beautiful wood Engravings, by Croome and other eminent artists. In one 
lavi;v octavo volume of S-S2 pages; elegantly bound iu.imitation Turkey morocco 
gilt back and sides. He tail price $3,00. 



Fro fit and 

HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA AND 

A Hixtorjf of the Slate of California, from the period of Conquest by Spain, to tho 
y:-ar ]>"> !. inclusive, containing an account of the discovery of the Gold Mines and 
Plap. i-s ; ii large number of Gold Seekers, the quantity of Gold already obtained, 
a description of h<_-r Mineral and Agricultural Resources, with thrilling accounts of 
A h-vni;i.!v- among t!ie Miners, with advice to Emigrants of best routes and prepa- 
!:: ions iiectssary to get there. By JOHN FKUST, LL. D. Also, 

A fin* jjfte Ilixf rr / of f/,e Colonie* of Amtralia, New South TH/.V.9, Victoria and 
frutiii A HKti-c iii, from their first discovery until the year 1S52, with a detailed ac- 
f-ount <>f flieir Pastun-s. Copper Mines and Gold Fields. By SAMUEL SIDNEY, Esq., 
author of "The Australian Hand Book. The whole making an o?tavo volume of 
( M"! jtigcs. illustrated by numerous Engravings, and bound in &L?bstantial scarlet 
doth. Retail price, $2,50. (In press, and will be published during the Summer of 



DERBY AND MILLET? : S PUBLICA TIONS. 



FREMONT S EXPLORING EXPEDITION, 

Through the Eocky Mountains, Oregon and California, with addi- Price, 
tional "El Dorado" matter, with several portraits and illustrations, 
435 pages, 12mo. muslin, 

SIR JOHN FRANKLIN, 

And the Arctic Expeditions, by P. L. SIMMONDS, 12mo. muslin,. . . . 1 25 

FRONTIER LIFE, 

Or, Scenes and Adventures in the South-west, by F. HARDMAN, 

12mo muslin, 1 25 

INDIAN CAPTIVES, 

Or, Life in the "Wigwam, being true narratives of Captives who 
have been carried away by the Indians from the frontier settle 
ments of the United States, from the earliest period, by SAMUEL G. 
DRAKE, 12mo. muslin. 1 25 

HISTORY OF THE MORMONS, 

Or, Latter Day Saints, with Memoirs of Joe Smith, the "American 
Mahomet," illustrated, 1 vol. 12mo. muslin, 1 00 

HISTORY OF THE WAR WITH MEXICO, 

From the commencement of hostilities with the United States, to 
the ratification of peace embracing detailed accounts of the bril 
liant achievements of Generals Tyalor, Scott, Worth, Twiggs, Kear 
ney and others, by JOHN S. JENKINS, 514 pp. large 12rno. 20 illus 
trations, gilt back, muslin, 1 25 

FROST S PICTORIAL HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA, 

Illustrated, 12mo. muslin, 1 50 

THRILLING ADVENTURES, 

By Land and by Sea, 12mo. muslin, illustrated by J. O. BRAYMAN, 1 25 

DARING DEEDS OF AMERICAN HEROES, 

12mo. illustrated, by J. 0. BEAYJIAN, 1 25 

WESTERN SCENES, 

And Reminiscences, together with thrilling Legends and Traditions 

of the Ked Man of the Forest, octavo, muslin, 2 00 

WILD SCENES OF A HUNTER S LIFE, 

Including Cummings 1 Adventures among the Lions, Elephants and 
other wild Animals of Africa, with 300 illustrations, by JOHN FKOST, 
LL. D., two colored plates, 1 50 

BORDER WARS OF THE WEST, 

By PROFESSOR FROST, 300 illustrations, octavo, muslin, 2 00 

YOUNG S SCIENCE OF GOVERNMENT, 

New and improved edition, 12mo. muslin 1 00 

AMERICAN LADY S SYSTEM OF COOKERY, 

Comprising every variety of information for ordinary and holiday 
occasions, by Mrs. T. J. CROWEN, 12mo. muslin, 1 25 

WHAT I SAW IN LONDON, 

Or, Men and Things in the Great Metropolis, by D. W. BARTLETT, 

12mo. muslin, i QQ 



DEPBY AND MILLER & PUBLICATIONS. 



WHAT I SAW IN NEW-YORK, 

Or, a Bird s-eye View of City Life, r.y J. H. Eoss, M. D., 12mo. Price. 
muslin, ............ . .............. , ............................ 1 00 

HINTS AND HELPS TO HEALTH AND HAPPINESS, 

By J. II. Iloss, M. D,. 121110. inuslin, ............................. 1 00 

YOUATT ON THE DISEASES OF THE HORSE, 

With their Remedies, also practical Rules to Buyers, Breeders, Break 
ers. Smiths. i\cc. Notes by SPOONER. An account of breeds in the 
Tnited states, by II. S. RANDALL with sixty illustrations, muslin, 
r. mo ........................................................... 1 25 

THE AMERICAN FRUIT CULTURIST, 

By J. J. THOMAS, revised and enlarged, 12mo. inuslin, ............ 1 25 

THE DAIRYMAN S MANUAL, 

By G. EVANS, octavo, muslin, ................................... 1 00 

THE AMERICAN FARMER, 

Or. Home in the Country, for rainy days and winter evenings, Ly 

J. L. BLAKE, D. I)., 12ino. muslin, " .............................. 1 25 

THE YOUTH S BOOK OF GEMS, 

For the Head and Heart, (with many illustrations) by F. 0. "WOOD- 

WORTH, octavo, muslin, ......................................... 1 25 

THE STRING OF PEARLS, 

For Boys and Girls, by T. S. ARTHUR, 16mo. muslin, .............. 75 

STORIES ABOUT BIRDS, 

With pictures to match, by F. C. WOODWORTH, 16mo. muslin, ---- 75 

STORIES ABOUT ANIMALS, 

With pictures to match, by F. C. WOODWORTH, 16mo. muslin, ..... 75 

THE HOME STORY BOOK, 

Illustrated, 16mo. muslin, ....................................... 38 

STORIES FOR GOOD CHILDREN, 

By. Mrs. E. OAKES SMITH, 32mo 



Dandelion, .................................... ) 

Moss Cun, .................................... V per set ........ 75 

Rose Bud, .................................... ) 

DOYLE S READY RECKONER, ................................... 25 

ROBBINS PRODUCE RECKONER, ............................... 75 

THE POCKET ANATOMIST, ..................................... 38 

LIFE AND ESSAYS OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, 

15 mo. muslin, .................................................. S3 



THE AUSTRALIAN CAPTIVE, 

Or, Adventures of William Jackman, with plates, 12mo. muslin, Ed 

ited by Eev. I. CHAMBERLAIN, ................................... 1 25 

DICK WILSON, 

The Rumseller s Victim, or Humanity Pleading for the Maine Law, 

by J. K. CORXYS, 12mo. muslin, ................................ . 1 25 



DERBY AND MILLER S PUBLIC A TIONS. 



LIFE AT THE SOUTH, 

Or, " Uncle Tom s Cabin as it is," by TV. L. G. SMITH, 12mo. muslin, 

WHY I AM A TEMPERANCE MAN, 

With Tales and Keveries, by T. TV. BROWN, 12mo. 1 25 

LITE OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, 

By P. C. HEADLEY, 12mo. (ready iu August) 1 25 

LIFE ON THE PLAINS, 

And aiming the Diggings of California, by A, DELANO, (ready in 

August) 1 25 

FROSTS PICTORIAL FAMILY MUSEUM, 

TVith SOU illustrations, 2 50 

TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, 

Narrative of SOLOMON NORTHUP, 12mo. muslin, 1 00 

LIFE OF DANIEL WEBSTER, 

By B. F. TEFFT, D. D., President of Genesee College, 12mo. (in 

press,) 1 25 

DANIEL BOONE AND THE HUNTERS OF KENTUCKY, 

By TV. 11. BOGERT, l^mo. (in press) 1 25 

THE MORNING STARS OF THE NEW WORLD, 

By HELEN F. PAIIK.EH, (in press,) 1 25 

THE SUNRISE AND SUNSET OF LIFE, 

By HELEN F. PARKEE, (in press,) 50 

MINNIE HERMGN, 

Or. tin- Night and its Morning, a Tale of the Times, by T. TV. 
BUO\VN, (ju press) 

WHITE SLAVES OF ENGLAND, 

By J. C. COBDEX, 12m o. ill ustrated, (in press) 150 

THE WRITINGS OF JAMES ARMLNIUS, 

Translated by J. NICHOLS and TV. 11. BAGNALL, 3 vols., 6 00 

PHILOSOPHY OF CHRISTIAN PERFECTION, 

By PROF. CALDWELL, 50 

THE NEW-YORK CIVIL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE, 

By MORGAN and SEWARO, 4 00 

THE NEW CLERK S ASSISTANT, 

A book of 1071 practical forms for business men, octavo, 2 25 

WRIGHT S EXECUTOR S, ADMINISTRATOR S AND GUAR 
DIAN S GUIDE, 1 50 

THE NEW CONST ALLY S GUIDE, 1 CO 

THE STATUTES OF NEW- YORK STATE, 

Of a General Nature, 2 yols., 5 50 

THE NEW ROAD ACT AND HIGHWAY LAWS, 50 



. I ,;. ftp. , 

; ! I WM \ 




HIS PLANTATION SUIT 



1C I] T H THOU? AN TV 



TWELVE YEARS A SLAV 



N A ii i; ATI v ;: 



SOLOMON NOIITIHIP, 

A CITIZE17 OF NEW-YOKK, 

KULXAITED IX \Y\MilXGTOX CITY IX 1341, 

AND 

RESCUED JX 1853, 



FROM A COTTON PLANTATION NEAR THE EC ED E TV Eli 

IX EG L !S! AN A. 



AUBURN: 
J) RUBY AND MILLEK. 

BUFEA ED: 

DERBY, ORTON AND MULLIGAN., 

I . O N D O N : 
fL-UIP.^ON LOW, ov X ^ COMPANY, 17 EUDGATE KIEL, 



Entered according to Act of Cohgiv.-s. in ihc year one thousand eight hundred un<i 

liny-throe, by 

DERBY AND M : L L E n , 

Ln the Clerk s Office of the District Court, of the Northern District of New- Y oik, 



EXTKRTvD IN LONOON AT ;->TATIONKRS 



TO 

HARRIET BEECHER STOWE: 

WHOSE NAME, 

THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, IS IDENTIFIED WITH THE 
GREAT REFORM: 

THT3 NARRATIVE, AFFORDING ANOTH2R 

25 c to t lncle (Tom s <abfn, 

IB R E S P K T F IT L L T P E P I A T E D 



Such dupes are men to custom, and so prone 
To reverence wbnt is ancient, and can plead 
A course of long observance for its use, 
That even servitude, the worst of ills, 
Bewmse delivered down from sire to son, 
Is kept and guarded as a sacred thing. 
But is it fit, or can it bear the shock 
Of rational discussion, that a man 
Compounded and made up, like other mea. 
Of elements tumultuous, in whom lust 
And fullv in as ample measure meet, 
As in the bosom of the slave he rules, 
Should be a despot absolute, and boast 
Himself the only freeman of bis land ? " 



CONTENTS. 



PAGB. 

Eton s PREFACE, 15 

CHAPTER I. 

Introdueiory Ancestry The Xorthup Family Birth and 
Parc i iac-p Mintus, Xorthup Marriage withAnne Ilamp- 
t .n (Juod Resv>lutious Champlrun Canal Rafting Ex 
cursion to Canada Farming The Violin Cooking 
Removal to Saratoga Parker and Perry Slaves and Sla 
very The Children The Beginning of Sorrow, 17 

CHAPTER IT. 

The two Strangers The Circi^ Company Departure from 
Saratoga Ventriloquism and Legerdemain Journey to 
Xew-York Free Papers Brown and Hamilton The 
haste to reach the Circus Arrival in Washington Fune 
ral of Harrison The Sudden Sickness The Torment of 
Thirst The Receding Light Insensibility Chains and 
Dark n es s, 23 

CHAPTER III. 

Painful Meditations James II. Burch Williams Slave Pen 
in Washington The Lacker, Radburn Assert my Free 
dom The Anger of the Trader The Paddle and Cat-o -nine 
tails The Whipping Xew Acquaintances Ray, Williams, 
and Randall Arrival of Little Emily and her Mother in the 
Pen Maternal Sorrows The Story of Eliza, 40 



V1J1 CONTENTS. 

CTIAPTEU IV. 

r vriK 

Eliza s Sorrows Preparation to Embark Driven Through 
the Streets of Washington Hail, Columbia The Tomb oi 
Washington Clem Ray The Breakfast on the S( earner 
The happy Birds /Vquin Creek Frederioksburgh Arri 
val in Richmond Goodin and his Slave Pen Hubert, oi 
Cincinnati David and his Wife Mary and Lethe Clero s 
Return His subsequent Escape to Canada The Brig Or 
leans James IT. Bureli, o4 

CHAPTER V. 

Arrival at Norfolk Fredem-k and Maria Arthur, the Free 
man Appointed Steward Jim, CufFee, find Jenny The 
Storrn BahanAa Banks The Calm. The Conspiracy 
Long Boat-Xflie Small-Pox Death of Robert Manuini--, 
the Sailor The Meeting in the Forecastle The Letter - 
Arrival at New-Orleans Arthur s Rescue Thcophi!i;s F.:v<>- 
rnan, the Consignee Platt First Xight in the ^ e\v-0rk-uj^ 
Slave Pen, 05 

CHAPTER VI. 

Freeman s Industry Cleanliness and Clothes Exercising la 
the Show Room The Dance -^Bob, the Fiddler Arrival 
oi Customers Slaves Examined The Old Gentleman of 
JSTew-Orleans Sale of David, Caroline, and Lethe Parting 
of Randall and El iza-^ Small-Pox The Hospital Recov 
ery and Return to Freeman s Slave Pen The Purchaser of 
Eli/a, Harry, and Platt Eliza s Agony on Parting from 
Little Emily, f 8 

CHAPTER VII. 

The Steamboat Rodolph Departure from ^few-Orleans Wil 
liam Ford Arrival at Alexandria, on Red River Resolu 
tionsThe Great Pine Woods "Wil.l Cattle Mai-fin s Sum 
mer Residence The Texas Road Arrival at Mast -i- Ford s 
Rose Mistress Ford Sally and her Children John, the 
; Cook ^AYalter, Sam, and Antony The Mills on Indian 
1 Creek * Sabbath Days Sam s Conversion The Profit of 



CONTENTS. IX 

PAGE. 

Kindness Rafting Adam Taydem, the Little White Man 
Cascalla and his Tribe The Indian Ball John M. Tibeats 

The Storm approaching, 89 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Ford s Embarrassments The Sale to Tibeats The Chattel 
Mortgage Mistress Ford s Plantation on Bayou Boeuf 
Description of the Latter Ford s Brother-in-law, Peter Tan 
ner Meeting with Eliza She still Mourns for her Chil 
dren Ford s Overseer, Chapiu Tibeats Abuse The Keg 
of Is ails The First Fight with Tibcats His Discomfiture 
and Castigation The attempt to Hang me Chapin s In 
terference and Speech Unhappy Reflections Abrupt De 
parture of Tibtats, Cook, and Ramsey Lawson and the 
Brown Mule Message to the Pine Woods, 105 

CHAPTER IX. 

The Plot Sun Yet bound The Cords sink into my Flesh 
Chapin s Uneasiness Speculation Rachel, and her Cup of 
Water Suffering increases The Happiness of Slavery 
Arrival of Ford He cuts the Cords which bind me, and 
takes the Rope from my Neck Misery The gathering of 
the Slaves in Eliza s Cabin Their Kindness Rachel Re 
peats the Occurrences of the Day Lawson entertains hi.3 
Companions with an Account of his Ride Chapin s appre 
hensions of Tibeats Hired to Peter Tanner Peter ex 
pounds the Scriptures Description of the Stocks, 118 

CHAPTER X. 

Return to Tibeats Impossibility of pleasing him He at 
tacks me with a Hatchet The Struggle over the Broad Axe 

The Temptation to Murder him Escape across the Plan 
tation Observations from the Fence Tibeats approaches, 
followed by the Hounds They take my Track Their loud 
Yf lls They almost overtake me I reach the Water - 
The Hounds confused Moccasin Snakes Alligators Xight 
in the "Great Pacoudrie Swamp" The Sounds of Life 

A* 






CONTEXTS. 

FAGK. 

North- West Course Emerge into the Pine Woods Slave 
and his Young Master Arrival at Ford s Food and Rest, 1C1 



CHAPTER XL 

The Mistress Garden The Crimson and Golden Fruit Or 
ange and Pomegranate Trees Return to Bayou Boeuf 
Master Ford s Remarks on the way The Meeting with Tib- 
eats His Account of the Chase Ford censures his Brutal 
ity Arrival at the Plantation Astonishment of the Slaves 
on seeing me The anticipated Flogging Kentucky John 
Mr. Eldrct, the Planter Eldret s Sam Trip to the "Big 
Cane Brake" The Tradition of "Button s Field" Forest 
Trees Gnats and Mosquitoes The Arrival of Black Wo 
men in the Big Cane -V Lumber Women Sadden Appc 
ance of Tibeats His Provoking Treatment Visit to Ba 
you Bceuf The Slave Pass Southern Hospitality The 
Last of Eliza Sale to Edwin Epps, ...................... 1 -1 



CHAPTER XII. 

Personal Appearance of Epps Epps, Drunk and Sober A 

Glimpse of his History Cotton Growing The Mode of 

Ploughing and Preparing Ground Of Planting, of IIoo- 

ing, of Picking, of Treating Raw Hands The difference in 

Cotton Pickers Patsey a remarkable one Tasked accord 

ing to Ability Beauty of a Cotton Field The Slave s La 

bors Fear of Approaching the Gin-House Weighing 

! " Chores" Cabin Life The Corn Mill The Uses of the 

V Gourd Fear of Oversleeping Fear continually Mode 

\>f Cultivating Corn Sweet Potatoes Fertility of th j Soil 

Fattening Hogs Preserving Bacon Raising Cattle 

Shooting-Matches Garden Products Flowers find Verdure, 1C 2 



CHAPTER XIII. 

The Curious Axe-Helve Symptoms of approaching Illness 
Continue to decline The Whip ineffectual Confined 



CONTENTS. Al 

PAQH. 

to the Cabin Visit by Dr. "Wines Partial Recovery Fail 
ure at Cotton Picking "What may be heard on Epps Plan 
tation Lashes Graduated Epps in a Whipping Mood 
Eppsin a Dancing Mood Description of the Dance Losa 
of Rest no Excuse Epps Characteristics Jim Burns Re 
moval from Huff Power to Bayou Boeuf Description of 
Uncle Abram ; of Wiley ; of Aunt Phebe ; of Bob, Henry, 
and Edward ; of Patsey ; with a Genealogical Account of 
each Something of their Past History, and Peculiar Char 
acteristics Jealousy and Lust Patsey, the Victim, 176 

CHAPTER XIV. 

Destruction of the Cotton Crop in 1845 Demand for Laborers 
in St. Mary s Parish Sent thither in a Drove The Order 
of the March-^The Grand Coteau Hired to Judge Turner on. 
Bayou Salle Appointed Driver in his Sugar House -^Sun 
day Services Slave Furniture; how obtained The Party 
at Yarney s, in Centreville Good Fortune The Captain 
of the Steamer His Refusal to Secrete me Return to Ba 
you Boeuf Sight of Tibeats Patsey s Sorrows Tumult 
and Contention Hunting the Coon and Opossum The 
Cunning of the latter The Lean Condition of the Slave 
Description of the Fish Trap The Murderpf the Man from 
Natchez Epps Chalenged by Marshall Vrlie Influence of 
Slavery The Love of Freedom, 191 






CHAPTER XV. 

labors on Sugar Plantations The Mode of Planting Cane 
of Hoeing Cane Cane Ricks Cutting Cane Description 
of the Cane Ivnife Winrowing Preparing for Succeeding 
Crops Description of Hawkins Sugar Mill on Bayou Boeuf 
^-The Christmas Holidays The Carnival Season of the 
Children of Bondage The Christmas Supper Red, the Fa 
vorite Color The Violin, and the Consolation it afforded 
The Christmas Dance Lively, the Coquette Sam Roberts, 
and his Rivals Slave Songs Southern Life as it is Three 
Days in the Year The System of Marriage Uncle Abram a 
Contempt of Matrimony, 208 



Xll CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XVI. 

PAOR 

Overseers How they are Armed and Accompanied The 
Homicide His Execution at Marksville Slave Drivers 
Appointed Driver on removing to Bayou Boenf Practice 
makes perfect Epps s Attempt to Cut Platt s Throat The 
Escape from him Protected by the Mistress Forbids Read 
ing and "Writing Obtain a Sheet of Paper after ISine Years 
Effort The Letter Armsby, the Mean White Partially 
confide in him His Treachery Epps Suspicions How 
they were quieted Burning the Letter Armsby leaves 
the Bayou Disappointment and Despair, 228 

CHAPTER XVII. 

"Wiley disregards the counsels of Aunt Phebe and Uncle Abram, 
and is caught by the Patrollers The Organization and Du 
ties of the latter Wiley Runs Away Speculations in re 
gard to him His Unexpected Return His Capture on the 
Red River, and Confinement in Alexandria Jail Discovered 
by Joseph B. Roberts Subduing Dogs in anticipation of 
Escape The Fugitives in the Great Pine Woods Captur 
ed by Adam Taydern. and the Indians Augustiis killed by 
Dogs Nelly, Eldret s Slave Woman The Story of Celeste 

The Concerted Movement Lew Cheney, the Traitor 
The Idea of Insurrection, 23C 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

O Kiel, the Tanner Conversation with Aunt Phebe overheard 

Epps in the Tanning Business Stabbing of Uncle Abram 

The Ugly Wound Epps is Jealous Patsey is Missing 
Her Return from Shaw s Harriet, Shaw s Black Wife 
Epps Enraged Patsey denies his Charges She is Tied 
Down Naked to Four Stakes The Inhuman Flogging 
Flaying of Patsey The Beauty of the Day The Bucket of 
Salt Water The Dress stiff with Blood Patsey grows 
Melancholy Her Idea of God and Eternity Of Heaven and 
Freedom The Effect of Slave-Whipping Epps Oldest Son 

- "The Child is Father to the Man," . 250 



CONTENTS. Xlll 

CHAPTER XIX. 

PACE. 

Avery, on Bayou Rouge Peculiarity of Dwellings Epps 
builds a Xew House Bus?, the Carpenter His ISToble Qual 
ities His Personal Appearance and Eccentricities Bass 
and Epps discuss the Question of Slavery Epps Opinion 
of Bass I make myself known to him Our Conversation 

His Surprise The Midnight Meeting on the Bayou Bank 

Bass Assurances Declares War against Slavery "Why 
I did not Disclose iny History Bass writes Letters Copy 
uf his Letter to Messrs. Parker and Perry The Fever of 
Suspense Disappointments Bass endeavors to cheer me 

My Faith in him, 2G3 

CHAPTER XX. 

Bass faithful to his won! His Arrival on Christmas Eve 
The Difficulty of Obtaining an Interview The Meeting in 
the Cabin Non-arrival of the Letter Bass announces hia 
Intention to proceed North Christmas Coversation be 
tween Epps and Bass Young Mistress McCoy, the Beauty 
of Bayou Bceuf The "Ne plus ultra" of Dinners Music 
and Dancing Presence of the Mistress Her Exceeding 
Beauty The Last Slave Dance William Pierce Over 
sleep myself The Last Whipping Despondency Cold 
Morning Epps Threats The Passing Carriage Stran 
gers approaching through the Cotton-Field Last Hour on 
Bayou Bumf, 279 

CHAPTER XXL 

The- Letter reaches Saratoga Is forwarded to Anne Is laid 
before Henry B. Northup The Statute of May 14, 1840 
Its Provisions Anne s Memorial to the Governor The af 
fidavits Accompanying it Senator Soule s Letter Depar 
ture of the Agent appointed by the Governor Arrival at 
Marks ville The Hon. John P. Waddill The Conversation 
on New-York Politics It suggests a Fortunate Idea The 
Meeting with Bass The See-ret out Legal Proceedings in 
stituted Departure of Northup and the Sheriff from Marks- 



XIV CONTEXTS. 

PAGE. 

ville for Bayou Boeuf Arrangements on the Way Reach 
Epps Plantation Discover his Slaves in the Cotton-Field 
The Meeting The Farewell, 289 

CHAPTER XXII. 

Arrival in Xew-Orleans Glimpse of Freeman Genois, the 
Recorder His Description of Solomon Ileach Charleston 
Interrupted by Custom House Officers Pass through Rich 
mond Arrival in Washington Burch Arrested Shekels 
and Thorn Their Testimony Burch Acquitted Arrest 
of Solomon Burch withdraws the Complaint The High 
er Tribunal Departure from Washington Arrival at San 
dy Hill Old Friends and Familiar Scenes Proceed to 
Glens Falls Meeting with Anne, Margaret, and Elizabeth 
Solomon Nbrthup Staunton Incidents Conclusion, 310 



APPENDIX, 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PORTRAIT OF SOLOMON IN ras PLANTATION SUIT, 

SCENE IN THE SLAVE PEN AT "WASHINGTON, 

SEPARATION OF ELIZA AND HER LAST CHILD, 

CHAPIN RESCUES SOLOMON FROM HANGING, 

THE STAKING OUT AND FLOGGING OF THE GIRL PATSEY, 

SCENE IN THE COTTON FIELD, AND SOLOMON S DELIVERY, 

ARRIVAL HOME, AND FIRST MEETING WITH HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN, 



EDITOR S PREFACE. 



WHEN the editor commenced the preparation of the fol 
lowing narrative, he did not suppose it would reach the size of 
this volume. In order, however, to present all the facts which 
have been communicated to him, it has seemed necessary to 
extend it to its present length. 

Many of the statements contained in the following pages are 
corroborated by abundant evidence others rest entirely upon 
Solomon s assertion. That he has adhered strictly to the truth, 
the editor, at least, who has had an opportunity of detecting 
any contradiction or discrepancy in his statements, is well sat 
isfied, lie has invariably repeated the same story without 
deviating in the slightest particular, and has also carefully pe 
rn - cd the manuscript, dictating an alteration wherever the most 
trivial in accuracy has appeared. 

It was Solomon s fortune, during his captivity, to be owned by 
sover.il masters. The treatment he received while at the " Pine 
Woods " shows that among slaveholders there are men of hu 
manity as well as of cruelty. Some of them are spoken of with 
emotions of gratitude others in a spirit of bitterness. It is 



XVI EDITOR S PKEFACE. 

believed that the following account of his experience on POYOU 
Bueuf presents a correct picture of Slavery, in all its lights and 
shadows, as it now exists in that locality. Unbiased, as lie 
conceives, by any prepossessions or prejudices, the ouly object 
of the editor has been to give a faithful history of Solomon 
Northup s life, as he received it from hi.; lips. 

In the accomplishment of that object, he trusts he has suc 
ceeded, notwithstanding the numerous faults of style and of 
expresssion it may be found to contain. 

DAVID WILSON. 
WHITEHALL, N. Y., May, 1853. 



NARRATIVE OF SOLOMON KORTHUP. 



CHAPTER I. 



rTuolMTToKY ANCn~TRY II IK XOIITJTIT FAMILY BIRTH AND PAREXT- 

AGE MINTL S XORTiUri? MARRIAGE WITH ANNE HAMPTON GOOD RES- 

OLUTIONsa CiTAMt LAIN CANAL RAFTING EXCURSION TO CANADA 

1 ARMING THE VIOLIN COOKING REMOVAL TO SARATOGA PARKER 

AND PERRY SLAVES AND SLAVERY THE CHILDREN THE BEGINNING 



HAVING been born a freeman, and for more than 
thirty years enjoyed the blessings of liberty in a free 
State and having at the end of that time been kid 
napped ami sold into Slavery, where I remained, until 
liappiiv rescued in the month of January, 1853, after 
a bondage of twelve years it has been suggested 
that an account of my life and fortunes would not be 
uninteresting to the public. 

Since my return to liberty, I have not failed to per 
ceive the increasing interest throughout the Northern 
Suites, in regard to the subject of Slavery. "Works of 
iictioiij professing to portray its features in their more 
pleasing as well as more repugnant aspects, have been 



A ." " . : 1?; . . : : "TWELVE YE APIS A SI. ATE, 

circulated to an extent unprecedented, and, as I un 
derstand, have created a fruitful topic of coniniout and 

discussion. 

I can speak of Slavery only so far as it carne under 

my own observation only so far as I have known 
and experienced it in my own person. My object i*, 
to give a candid and truthful statement of facts : to 

D 

repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration, leav 
ing it for others to determine, whether even, the pages 
of fiction present a picture of more cruel wrong or n 
severer bondage. 

As far back as I have been able to ascertain, my 
ancestors on the paternal side were slaves in .1 
Island. They belonged to a family by the name of 
Korthup, one of whom, removing to the State of : 
York, settled at Hoosic, in Rensselacr county. 
brought with him Mintus ISTorthup, er. Ou 



the death of this gentleman, which must have occur 
red some fifty years ago, my father became free, hav 
ing been emancipated by a direction in his will. 

Henry B. ISTorthnp, Esq., of Sandy Hill, a distin 
guished counselor at law, and the man to whom, un 
der Providence, I am indebted for my present liberty, 
and my return to the society of my wife and children, 
is a relative of the family in which my forefathers 
were thus held to service, and from which they tool: 
the name I bear. To this fact may be attributed the 
persevering interest he lias taken in my behalf. 

Sometime after my father s liberation, he removed 
to the town of Minerva, Essex county, "N. Y., wLerel 



PARENTAGE. 19 

wan born, in the month of July, 1S08. How long he 
remained in the latter place I have not the means of 
definitely ascertaining. From thence he removed to 
Granville, Washington county, near a place known as 
Slyborough, where, for some years, he labored on the 
farm of Clark ISforthup, also a relative of his old mas 
ter ; from thence he removed to the Alden farm, at 
Moss Street, a short distance north of the village of 
Sandy Hill ; and from thence to the farm now owned 
by Eussel Pratt, situated on the road leading from 
Fort Edward to Argyle, where he continued to reside 
until his death, which took place on the 22<1 day of 
November, 1829. He left a widow and tw T o children 
myself, and Joseph, an elder brother. Thelatte: 
is still living in the county of Oswego, near the city 
of that name ; my mother died during the period of 
my captivity. 

Though born a slave, and laboring under the disad 
vantages to which my unfortunate race is subjected, 
my father was a man respected for his industry and 
integrity, as many now living, who well remember 
him, are ready to testify. His whole life was passed in 
the peaceful pursuits of agriculture, never seeking em 
ployment in those more menial positions, which seern 
to be especially allotted to the children of Africa. Be 
sides giving us an education surpassing that ordinari 
ly bestowed upon children in our condition, he ac- 
cjuired, by his diligence and economy, a sufficient 
property qualification to entitle him to the right of 
suffrage. He was accustomed to speak to us of his 



50 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

early life ; and although at all times cherishing the 
warmest emotions of kindness, and even of affection 
towards the family, in whose house he had been a 
bondsman, he nevertheless comprehended the system 
of Slavery, and dwelt with sorrow on the degradation 
of his race. He endeavored to imbue our minds with 
sentiments of morality, and to teach us to place our 
trust and confidence in Him who regards the humblest 
as well as the highest of his creatures. How often 
since that time has the recollection of his paternal 
counsels occurred to me, while lying in a slave hut in 
the distant and sickly regions of Louisiana, smarting 
with the undeserved wounds which an inhuman mas 
ter had inflicted, and longing only for the grave which 

O O i/ < 

had covered him, to shield me also from the lash of 
the oppressor. In the church-yard at Sandy Hill, an 
humble stone marks the spot where he reposes, after 
having worthily performed the duties appertaining to 
the lowly sphere wherein God had appointed him to 
walk. 

Up to this period I had been principally engaged 
with my father in the labors of the farm. The leis 
ure hours allowed me were generally either employed 
over my books, or playing on the violin an amuse* 
ment which was the ruling passion of my youth. It 
has also been the source of consolation since, afford in % 

1 O 

pleasure to the simple beings with whom my lot was 
cast, and beguiling my own thoughts, for many hours, 
from the painful contemplation of my fate. 

On Christmas day, 1829, I was married to Anne 



GOOD RESOLUTIONS. 21 

Hampton, a colored girl then living in the vicinity of 
our residence. The ceremony was performed at Fort 
Edward, by Timothy Eddy, Esq., a magistrate of 
that town, and still a prominent citizen of the place. 
She had resided a long time at Sandy Hill, with Mr. 
Baird, proprietor of the Eagle Tavern, and also in the 
family of Rev. Alexander Proudfit, of Salem. This 
gentleman for many years had presided over the Pres 
byterian society at the latter place, and was widely 
distinguished for his learning and piety. Anno 
still holds in grateful remembrance the exceeding 
kindness and the excellent counsels of that good man. 
She is not able to determine the exact line of her de 
scent, but the blood of three races mingles in her 
veins. It is difficult to tell whether the red, white, or 
black predominates. The union of them all, however, 
in her origin, has given her a singular but pleasing 
expression, such as is rarely to be seen. Though 
somewhat resembling, yet she cannot properly be 
styled a quadroon, a class to which, I have omitted to 
mention, my mother belonged. 

I had just now passed the period of my minority, 
having reached the age of twenty-one years in the 
month of July previous. Deprived of the advice and 
assistance of my father, with a wife dependent upon 
me for support, I resolved to enter upon a life of in 
dustry ; and notwithstanding the obstacle of color, 
and the consciousness of my lowly state, indulged in 
pleasant dreams of a good time coming, when the pos 
session of some humble habitation, with a few eur- 



22 TWELVE YE AUS A SLAVE. 

rounding acres, should reward my labors, and bring 
me the means of happiness and comfort. 

From the time of my marriage to this day the love 
I have borne my wife has been sincere and unabated ; 
and only those who have felt the glowing tenderness 
a father cherishes for his offspring, can appreciate my 
affection for the beloved children which have since 
been born to us. This much I deem appropriate and 
necessary to say, in order that those who read these 
pages, may comprehend the poignancy of those suf 
ferings I have been doomed to bear. 

O 

Immediately upon our marriage we commenced 
house-keeping, in the old yellow building then stand 
ing at the southern extremity of Fort Edward village, 
and which has since been transformed into a modern 
mansion, and lately occupied by Captain Lathrop. 
It is known as the Fort House. In this building the 
courts were sometime held after the organization of 
the county. It was also occupied by JJurgoyne in 
1777, being situated near the old Fort on the left bank 
of the Hudson. 

During the winter I was employed with others re 
pairing the Champlain Canal, on that section over 
which William Van Nortwick was superintendent. 
David McEachron had the immediate charge of the 
men in whose company I labored. By the time the 
canal opened in the spring, I was enabled, from the 
savings of my w r ages, to purchase a pair of horses, and 
other things necessarily required in the buyine:^ of 
navigation, 



EXCURSION TO CANADA. 23 

Having liired several efficient hands to assist me, I 
entered into contracts for the transportation of large 
rafts of timber from Lake Champlaiii to Troy. Dyer 
Bock with and a Mr. Bartemy, of Whitehall, accompa 
nied nie on several trips. During the season I be 
came perfectly familiar with the art and mysteries of 
rafting a knowledge which afterwards enabled me 
to render profitable service to a worthy master, and 
to astonish the simple- witted lumbermen on the banks 
<->f the Bayou Boeuf. 

In one of my voyages down Lake Champlain, I was 
induced to make a visit to Canada. Repairing to 
Montreal, I visited the cathedral and other places of 
interest in that city, from whence I continued my ex 
cursion to Kingston and other towns, obtaining a 
knowledge of localities, which was also of service to 
me afterwards, as will appear towards the close of 
this narrative. 

Having completed my contracts on the canal satis 
factorily to myself and to my employer, and not wish 
ing to remain idle, now that the navigation of the ca 
nal was again suspended, I entered into another con 
tract with Medad Gunn, to cut a large quantity of 
wood. In this business I was engaged during the 
winter of 1831-32. 

With the return of spring, Anne and myself con 
ceived the project of taking a farm in the neighbor 
hood. I had been accustomed from earliest youth to 
agricultural labors, and it was an occupation conge 
nial [<> my tastes. I accordingly entered into arrange- 



134- TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

ments for a part of the old Alderi farm, 011 which raj 
father formerly resided. With one cow, one swine, 
a joke of fine oxen I had lately purchased of Lewis 
Brown, in Hartford, and other personal property and 
effects, we proceeded to our new home in Xingsbury, 
That year I planted twenty-five acres of com, sowed 
large fields of oats, and commenced funning upon as 
large a scale as my utmost means would permit. 
Anne was diligent about the house affairs, while I 
toiled laboriously in the field. 

On this place we continued to reside i;:u"l 1834. 
In the winter season I had numerous calls to play on 
the violin. Wherever the young people assembled i.o 
dance, I was almost invariably there. Throughout. 
the surrounding villages my fiddle was notorious, 
Anne, also, during her long residence at the Eagle 
Tavern, had become somewhat famous as a. cook, 
During court weeks, and on public occasion?, bhe was 
employed at high wages in the kitchen at SlierriLFs 
Coffee House. 

We always returned home from the performance 
of these services with money in our pockets ; so that, 
with fiddling, cooking, and farming, we soon found 
ourselves in the possession of abundance, ar.d, in fact, 
leading a happy and prosperous life. Well, indeed, 
would it have been for us had we remained on the 
farm at Kingsbury; but the time came whep the 
next step was to be taken towards the cruel r.cstiny 
that awaited me. 

In March, 1S34-, we removed to Saratog, Sjc. rings. 






REMOVAL TO SARATOGA. > 

We occupied a lionsc belonging to Daniel O Brien, 
on the north side of Washington street. At that time 
Isaac Taylor kept a large boarding house, known as 
Washington Hall, at the north end of Broadway. He 
employed me to drive a hack, in which capacity 1 
worked for him two years. After this time I was 
generally employed through the visiting season, as 
also was Anne, in the United States Hotel, and other 
public houses of the place. In winter seasons I ra 
iled upon my violin, though during the construction 
of the Troy and Saratoga railroad, I performed many 
hard days 1 labor upon it. 

I was in the habit, at Saratoga, of purchasing arti 
cles necessary for my family at the stores of Mr. Ce - 
phas Parker and Mr. William Perry, gentlemen 
towards whom, for many acts of kindness, I enter 
tained feelings of strong regard. It was for this rea 
son that, twelve years afterwards, I caused to be di 
rected to them the letter, which is hereinafter insert- 
ed, and which was the means, in the hands of Mr. 
Korthup, of my fortunate deliverance. 

While living at the United States Hotel, I frequent 
ly met with slaves, who had accompanied their maa- 
ters from the South. They were always well dressed 
and well provided for, leading apparently an easy life, 
with but few of its ordinary troubles to perplex them. 
Many times they entered into conversation with me 
on the subject of Slavery. Almost uniformly I found 
they cherished a secret desire for liberty. Some of 
them expressed the most ardent anxiety to escape, and 
B 



26 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

consulted me on the best method of effecting it. The 
fear of punishment, however, w^hich they knew was 
certain to attend their re-capture and return, in all 
cases proved sufficient to deter them from the exper 
iment. Having all my life breathed the free air of 
the North, and conscious that I possessed the same 
feelings and affections that find a place in the white 
man s breast ; conscious, moreover, of an intelligence 
equal to that of some men, at least, with a fairer skin, 
I was too ignorant, perhaps too independent, to con 
ceive how any one could be content to live in the ab 
ject condition of a slave. I could not comprehend the 
justice of that law, or that religion, which upholds or 
recognizes the principle of Slavery ; and never once, 
I am proud to say, did I fail to counsel any one who 
came to me, to watch his opportunity, and strike for 
freedom. 

I continued to reside at Saratoga until the spring of 
184:1. The flattering anticipations which, seven years 
before, had seduced us from the quiet farm-house, on 
the east side of the Hudson, had not been realized. 
Though always in comfortable circumstances, we 
had not prospered. The society and associations at that 
world-renowned watering place, were not calculated 
to preserve the simple habits of industry and economy 
to which I had been accustomed, but, on the contrary, 
to substitute others in their stead, tending to sliift- 
lessness and extravagance. 

At this time we were the parents of three children 
Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo. Elizabeth, the 



HOilE A^ D ITS PLEASURES. 27 

eldest, was in her tenth year; Margaret was two 
years younger, and little Alonzo had just passed his 
fifth birth-day. They filled our house with gladness. 
Their young voices were music in our ears. Many an 
airy castle did their mother and myself build for the 
little innocents. When not at labor I was always 
walking with them, clad in their best attire, through 
the streets and groves of Saratoga. Their presence 
was my delight ; and I clasped them to my bosom 
with as warm and tender love as if their clouded skins 
had been as white as snow. 

Thus far the history of my life presents nothing 
whatever unusual nothing but the common hopes, 
and loves, and labors of an obscure colored man, ma 
king his humble progress in the world. But now I 
had reached a turning point in my existence reach 
ed the threshold of unutterable wrong, and sorrow, 
and despair. 2s"ow had I approached within the shad 
ow of the cloud, into the thick darkness whereof I was 
soon to disappear, thenceforward to be hidden from 
the eyes of all my kindred, and shut out from the 
sweet light of liberty, for many a weary year. 



CHAPTER II. 



THE TWO STRANGERS THE CIRCUS COMPANY DEPARTURE FROM SARA 
TOGA VENTRILOQUISM AND LEGERDEMAIN JOURNEY TO NEW-YORK - 

FREE PAPERS BROWN AND HAMILTON THE HASTE TO REACH THE 

CIRCUS ARRIVAL IN WASHINGTON FUNERAL OF HARRISON THE SUD 
DEN SICKNESS THE TORMENT OF THIRST THE RECEDING LIGHT IN 
SENSIBILITY CHAINS AND DARKXESS. 



ONE morning, towards the latter part of the month 
of March, 1841, having at that time no particnlai 
business to engage my attention, I was walking about 
the village of Saratoga Springs, thinking to myself 
where I might obtain some present employment, un 
til the busy season should arrive. Anne, as was her 
usual custom, had gone over to Sandy Hill, a dis 
tance of some twenty miles, to take charge of the cu 
linary department at Sherrill s Coffee House, during 
the session of the court. Elizabeth, I think, had ac 
companied her. Margaret and Alonzo were with 
their aunt at Saratoga. 

On the corner of Congress street and Broadway, 
near the tavern, then, and for aught I know to the 
contrary, still kept by Mr. Moon, I was met by two 
gentlemen of respectable appearance, both of whom 
were entirely unknown to me. I have the impres- 



THE TWO STEAXGERS. 29 

gion that they were Introduced to me by some one of 
my acquaintances, but who, I have in vain endeavor 
ed to recall, with the remark that I was an expert 
player on the violin. 

At any rate, they immediately entered into conver 
sation on that subject, making numerous inquiries 
touching my proficiency in that respect. My respon 
ses being to all appearances satisfactory, they propos 
ed to engage my services for a short period, stating, 
at the same time, I was just such a person as their 
business required. Their names, as they afterwards 
gave them to me, were Merrill Brown and Abram 
Hamilton, though whether these were their true ap 
pellations, I have strong reasons to doubt. The for 
mer was a man apparently forty years of age, some 
what short and thick-set, with a countenance indica 
ting shrewdness and intelligence. He wore a black 
frock coat and black hat, and said he resided either at 
Rochester or at Syracuse. The latter was a young 
man of fair complexion and light eyes, and, I should 
judge, had not passed the age of twenty-five. He 
was tall and slender, dressed in a snuff-colored coat, 
with, glossy hat, and vest of elegant pattern. His 
whole apparel was in the extreme of fashion. His 
appearance was somewhat effeminate, but prepossess 
ing, and there was alrout him an easy air, that showed 
he had mingled with the world. They were connect 
ed, as they informed me, with a circus company, then 
in the city of Washington ; that they were on their 



30 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

way .thither to rejoin it, having left it for a short time 
to make an excursion northward, for the purpose of 
seeing the country, and were paying their expenses 
by an occasional exhibition. They also remarked 
that they had found much difficulty in procuring mu 
sic for their entertainments, and that if I would ac 
company them as far as New-York, they would give 
me one dollar for each day s services, and three dol 
lars in addition for every night I played at their per 
formances, besides sufficient to pay the expenses of 
my return from New-York to Saratoga. 

I at once accepted the tempting offer, both for the 
reward it promised, and from a desire to visit the 
metropolis. They were anxious to leave immediately. 
Thinking my absence would be brief, I did not deem 
it necessary to write to Anne whither I had gone ; 
in fact supposing that my return, perhaps, would be 
as soon as hers. So taking a change of linen and my 
violin, I was ready to depart. The carriage was 
brought round a covered one, drawn by a pair of 
noble bays, altogether forming an elegant establish 
ment. Their baggage, consisting of three largo 
trunks, was fastened on the rack, and mounting to 
the driver s seat, while they took their places in the 
rear, I drove away from Saratoga on the road to 
Albany, elated with my new position, and happy as 
I had ever been, on any day in all my life. 

"We passed through Ballston, and striking the ridge 
road, as it is called, if my memory correctly serves 



VENTRILOQUISM AND LEGERDEMAIN. 31 

me, followed it direct to Albany. We reached that 
city before dark, and stopped at a hotel southward 
from the Museum. 

Tliis night I had an opportunity of witnessing one 
of their performances the only one, during the whole 
period I was with them. Hamilton was stationed at 
the door ; I formed the orchestra, while Brown pro 
vided the entertainment. It consisted in throwing 
balls, dancing on the rope, frying pancakes in a hat, 
causing invisible pigs to squeal, and other like feats 
of ventriloquism and legerdemain. The audience 
was extraordinarily sparse, and not of the selectest 
character at that, and Hamilton s report of the pro 
ceeds presented but a " beggarly account of empty 
boxes." 

Early next morning we renewed our journey. The 
burden of their conversation now was the expression 
of an anxiety to reach the circus without delay. 
They hurried forward, without again stopping to e*x- 
hibit, and in due course of time, we reached Xew 
York, taking lodgings at a house on the west side of 
the city, in a street running from Broadway to the 
river. I supposed my journey was at an end, and 
expected in a day or two at least, to return to my 
friends and family at Saratoga. Brown and Hamil 
ton, however, began to importune me to continue with 
them to Washington. They alleged that immediately 
on their arrival, now that the summer season was ap 
proaching, the circus would set out for the north. 
They promised me a situation and high wages if I 



S2 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

would accompany them. Largely did they expatiate 
on the advantages that would result to me, and such 
were the flattering representations they made, that I 
finally concluded to accept the offer. 

The next morning they suggested that, inasmuch 
&3 we were about entering a slave State, it would be 
well, before leaving ISTew-York, to procure free pa 
pers. The idea struck me as a prudent one, though I 
dink it would scarcely have occurred to me, had they 
not proposed it. "We proceeded at once to what I un 
derstood to be the Custom House. They made oath to 
certain facts showing I was a free man. A paper was 
drawn up and handed us, with the direction to take it 
to the clerk s office. "We did so, and the clerk having 
added something to it, for which he was paid six shil 
lings, we returned again to the Custom House. Some 
further formalities were gone through with before it 
was completed, when, paying the officer two dollars, 
I placed the papers in my pocket, and started with 
ttiy two friends to our hotel. I thought at the time, 
I must confess, that the papers were scarcely worth the 
cost of obtaining them the apprehension of danger 
to my personal safety never having suggested itself 
to me in the remotest manner. The clerk, to whom 
we were directed, I remember, made a memorandum 
in a large book, which, I presume, is in the office 
yet. A reference to the entries during the latter part 
of March, or first of April, 1811, I have no doubt 
will satisfy the incredulous, at least so far as this par 
ticular transaction is concerned. 



AEKIVAL AT WASHINGTON. 33 

With the evidence of freedom in my possession, the 
next day after our arrival in New- York, we crossed 
the ferry to Jersey City, and took the road to Phila 
delphia. Here we remained one night, continuing 
our journey towards Baltimore early in the morning. 
In due time, we arrived in the latter city, and stopped 
at a hotel near the railroad depot, either kept by a 
Mr. Eathbone, or known as the Rathbone House. 
All the way from IS r ew-York, their anxiety to reach 
the circus seemed to grow more and more intense. 
We left the carriage at Baltimore, and entering the 
cars, proceeded to Washington, at which place we 
arrived just at nightfall, the evening previous to the 
funeral of General Harrison, and stopped at Gadsby s 
Hotel, on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

After supper they called me to their apartments, 
and paid me forty- three dollars, a sum greater than 
my wages amounted to, which act of generosity was 
in conseojuence, they said, of their not having exhib 
ited as often as they had given me to anticipate, du 
ring our trip from Saratoga. They moreover inform 
ed me that it Lad been the intention of the circus 
company to leave Washington the next morning, but 
that on account of the funeral, they had concluded to 
remain another day. They were then, as they had been 
from the time of our first meeting, extremely kind. 
No opportunity was omitted of addressing me in the 
language of approbation ; while, on the other hand, 
I was certainly much prepossessed in their favor. I 



34: TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

gave them my confidence without reserve, and would 
freely have trusted them to almost any extent. Their 
constant conversation and manner towards me their 
foresight in suggesting the idea of free papers, and a 
hundred other little acts, unnecessary to be repeated 
all indicated that they were friends indeed, sincerely 
solicitous for my welfare. I know not but they were. 
I know not but they were innocent of the great wick 
edness of which I now believe them guilty. Whether 
they were accessory to my misfortunes subtle and 
inhuman monsters in the shape of men designedly 
luring me away from home and family, and liberty, 
for the sake of gold those who read these pages 
will have the same means of determining as myself. 
If they were innocent, my sudden disappearance 
must have been unaccountable indeed ; but revolv 
ing in my mind all the attending circumstances, I 
never yet could indulge, towards them, so charitable 
a supposition. 

After receiving the money from them, of which 
they appeared to have an abundance, they advised 
me not to go into the streets that night, inasmuch 
as I was unacquainted with the customs of the city. 
Promising to remember their advice, I left them to 
gether, and soon after was shown by a colored ser 
vant to a sleeping room in the back part of the hotel, 
on the ground floor. I laid down to rest, thinking of 
home and wife, and children, and the long distance 
that stretched between us, until I fell asleep. But 



FUNERAL OF HARRISON. 35 

no good angel of pity came to my bedside, bidding 
me to fly no voice of mercy forewarned me in my 
dreams of the trials that were just at hand. 

The next day there was a great pageant in Wash 
ington. The roar of cannon and the tolling of bells 
filled the air, while many houses were shrouded with 
crape, and the streets were black with people. As 
the day advanced, the procession made its appear 
ance, coming slowly through the Avenue, carriage 
after carriage, in long succession, while thousands 
upon thousands followed on foot all moving to the 
sound of melancholy music. They were bearing the 
dead body of Harrison to the grave. 

From early in the morning, I was constantly in the 
company of Hamilton and Brown. They were the 
only persons I knew in Washington. We stood to 
gether as the funeral pomp passed by. I remember 
distinctly how the window glass would break and 
rattle to the ground, after each report of the cannon 
they were firing in the burial ground. We went to the 
Capitol, and walked a long time about the grounds. 
In the afternoon, they strolled towards the Presi 
dent s House, all the time keeping me near to them, 
and pointing out various places of interest. As yet, 
I had seen nothing of the circus. In fact, I had 
thought of it but little, if at all, amidst the excite 
ment of the day. 

My friends, several times during the afternoon, en 
tered drinking saloons, and called for liquor. They 
were by no means in the habit, however, so far as I 



86 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

knew them, of indulging to excess. On these occa 
sions, after serving themselves, they would pour out 
a glass and hand it to me. I did not become intoxi- 
^ited, as may be inferred from what subsequently 
occurred. Towards evening, and soon after parta 
king of one of these potations, I began to experience 
most unpleasant sensations. I felt extremely ill. My 
"head commenced aching a dull, heavy pain, inex 
pressibly disagreeable. At the supper table, I was 
*inthout appetite ; the sight and flavor of food was 
nauseous. About dark the same servant conducted 
me to the room I had occupied the previous night. 
Brown and Hamilton advised me to retire, commise 
rating me kindly, and expressing hopes that I would be 
better in the morning. Divesting myself of coat and 
boots merely, I threw myself upon the bed. It was 
impossible to sleep. The pain in my head continued 
to increase, until it became almost unbearable. In a 
short time I became thirsty. My lips were parched. 
I could think of nothing but water of lakes and 
flowing rivers, of brooks where I had stooped to 
tirink, and of the dripping bucket, rising with its cool 
and overflowing nectar, from the bottom of the well. 
Towards midnight, as near as I could judge, I arose, 
tinable longer to bear such intensity of thirst. I 
was a stranger in the house, and knew nothing of its 
apartments. There was no one up, as I could observe. 
Groping about at random, I knew not where, I found 
the way at last to a kitchen in the basement. Two 
or three colored servants were moving through it, one 



THE TOEMEXT OF THIEST. 37 

x.*. whom, a woman, gave me two glasses of water. 
It afforded momentary relief, but by the time I had 
reached my room again, the same burning desire of 
drink, the same tormenting thirst, had as;am returned. 

/ O o 

It was even more torturing than before, as ,was also 
the wild pain in my head, if such a thing could be. 
I was in sore distress in most excruciating agony! 
I seemed to stand on the brink of madness ! The 
memory of that night of horrible suffering will fol 
low me to the grave. 

In the course of an hour or more after my return 
from the kitchen, I was conscious of some one enter 
ing my room. There seemed to be several a ming 
ling of various voices, but how many, or who 
they were, I cannot tell. Whether Brown and Hamil 
ton were among them, is a mere matter of conjecture. 
I only remember, with any degree of distinctness, 
that I was told it was necessary to go to a physician 
and procure medicine, and that pulling on my boots, 
without coat or hat, I followed them through a long 
passage-way, or alley, into the open street. It ran 
out at right angles from Pennsylvania Avenue. On 
the opposite side there was a light burning in a win 
dow. My impression is there were then three per- 
sons with me, but it is altogether indefinite and 
vague, and like the memory of a painful dream. 
Going towards the light, which I imagined proceed 
ed from a physician s office, and which seemed to re 
cede as I advanced, is the last glimmering recollec 
tion I can now recall. From that moment I was 



38 TWELVE YEAK8 A SLAVE. 

insensible. How long I remained in that condition 
whether only that night, or many days and nights 
I do not know ; but when consciousness returned, I 
found myself alone, in utter darkness, and in chains. 
The pain in my head had subsided in a measure, 
but I was very faint and weak. I was sitting upon a 
low bench, made of rough boards, and without coat 
or hat. I was hand-cuffed. Around my ankles also 
were a pair of heavy fetters. One end of a chain was 
fastened to a large ring in the floor, the other to the 
fetters on my ankles. I tried in vain to stand upon 
my feet. Waking from such a painful trance, it 
was some time before I could collect my thoughts. 
Where was I? "What was the meaning of these 
chains ? Where were Brown and Hamilton ? What 
had I done to deserve imprisonment in such a dun 
geon 3 I could not comprehend. There was a blank 
of some indefinite period, preceding my awakening 
in that lonely place, the events of which the utmost 
stretch of memory was unable to recall. I listened 
intently for some sign or sound of life, but nothing 
broke the oppressive silence, save the clinking of my 
chains, whenever I chanced to move. I spoke aloud, 
"but the sound of my voice startled me. I felt of my 
pockets, so far as the fetters would allow far enough, 
indeed, to ascertain that I had not only been robbed 
of liberty, but that my money and free papers were 
also gone ! Then did the idea begin to break upon 
my mind, at first dim and confused, that I had been 
kidnapped. But that I thought was incredible- 



CHAINS AND DARKNESS. 39 

There must liave been some misapprehension some 
unfortunate mistake, It could not be that a free 
citizen of ^New-York, who had wronged no man, nor 
violated any law, should be dealt with thus inhumanly. 
The more I contemplated my situation, however, the 
more I became confirmed in my suspicions. It was a 
desolate thought, indeed. I felt there was no trust or 
mercy in unfeeling man ; and commending myself to 
the God of the oppressed, bowed my head upon my 
fettered hands, and wept most bitterly. 



CHAPTER III. 

PAINFUL MEDITATIONS JAMES H. BUUCH WILLIAMS SLAVE PEN IN 

WASHINGTON TIIE LACKEY, RADRURN ASSERT MY FREEDOM THE 

ANGER OF THE TKADER TIIE PADDLE AND CAT-o -NINETAILS THE 

WHIFFING >T ACQUAINTANCES RAT, WILLIAMS, AND RANDALL 

ARRIVAL OF LITTLE EMILY AND HER MOTHER IN TIIE PEN MATERNAL 
SORROWS THE STORY OF ELIZA. 

SOME three hours elapsed, during which time I re 
mained seated on the low bench, absorbed in painful 
meditations. At length I heard the crowing of a 
cock, and soon a distant rumbling sound, as of car 
riages hurrying through the streets, came to my ears, 
and I knew that it was day. Is o ray of light, how 
ever, penetrated my prison. Finally, I heard foot 
steps immediately overhead, as of some one walking 
to and fro. It occurred to me then that I must be 
in an underground apartment, and the damp, mouldy 
odors of the place confirmed the supposition. The 
noise above continued for at least an hour, when, 
at last, I heard footsteps approaching from without. 
A key rattled in the lock a strong door swung back 
upon its hinges, admitting a flood of light, and two 
men entered and stood before me. One of them was 
a large, powerful man, forty years of age, perhaps. 



EdlCIT, THE SLAVE DEALER. 4-1 

witli dark, chestnut-colored hair, slightly interspersed 
with gray. His face was full, his complexion flush, 
his features grossly coarse, expressive of nothing but 
cruelty and cunning. He was about five feet ten 
inches high, of full habit, and, without prejudice, I 
must be allowed to say, was a man whose whole ap 
pearance was sinister and repugnant. His name was 
James II. Burch, as I learned afterwards a well- 
known slave-dealer in Washington ; and then, or late 
ly, connected in business, as a partner, with Theophi- 
lus Freeman, of Kew-Orleans. The person who 
accompanied him was a simple lackey, named Ebe- 
nezer liaclburn, who acted merely in the capacity of 
turnkey. Both of these men still live in Washington, 
or did. at the time of my return through that city 
from slavery in January last. 

The light admitted through the open door enabled 
me to observe the room in which I was confined. It 
was about twelve feet square the walls of solid ma 
sonry. The floor was of heavy plank. There was 
one small window, crossed with great iron bars, with 
an outside shutter, securely fastened. 

An iron-bound door led into an adjoining cell, or 
vault, wholly destitute of windows, or any means of 
admitting light. The furniture of the room in which 
I was, consisted of the wooden bench on which I sat, 
an old-fashioned, dirty box stove, and besides these, 
in either cell, there was neither bed, nor blanket, nor 
any other thing whatever. The door, through which 



42 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

Burch and Kadburn entered, led tlirougli a small 
passage, up a flight of steps into a yard, surrounded 
by a brick wall ten or twelve feet high, immediately 
in rear of a building of tlie same width as itself. 
The yard extended rearward from the house about 
thirty feet. In one part of the wall there was a 
strongly ironed door, opening into a narrow, covered 
passage, leading along one side of the house into the 
street. The doom of the colored man, upon whom 
the door leading out of that narrow passage closed, 
was sealed. The top of the wall supported one end 
of a roof, which ascended inwards, forming a kind of 
open shed. Underneath the roof there was a crazy 
loft all round, where slaves, if so disposed, might 
sleep at night, or in inclement weather seek shelter 
from the storm. It was like a farmer s barnyard in 
most respects, save it was so constructed that the out 
side world could never see the human cattle that were 
herded there. 

The building to which the yard was attached, w r as 
two stories high, fronting on one of the public streets 
of Washington. Its outside presented only the ap 
pearance of a qaiet private residence. A stranger 
looking at it, w r ould never have dreamed of its exe 
crable uses. Strange as it may seem, within plain 
sight of this same house, looking down from its com 
manding height upon it, was the Capitol. The voices 
of patriotic representatives boasting of freedom and 
equality, and the rattling of the poor slave s chains, 



MY FIU-:EDOM. 43 

almost commingled. A slave pen within the very 
shadow of the Capitol ! 

Such is a correct description as it was in 1841, of 
Williams slave pen in Washington, in one of the eel 
lars of which I fonnd myself so unaccountably con 
fined. 

" Well, my boy, how do you feel now ?" said 
Burch, as he entered through the open door. I re 
plied that I was sick, and inquired the cause of my 
imprisonment. He answered that I was his slave 
that he had bought me, and that he was about to send 
me to ISTew-Orleans. I asserted, aloud and boldly, 
that I was a free man a resident of Saratoga, where 
I had a wife and children, who were also free, and 
that my name was Xorthup. I complained bitterly 
of the strange treatment I had received, and. threat 
ened, upon my liberation, to have satisfaction for the 
wrong. He denied that I was free, and with an em 
phatic oath, declared that I came from Georgia. 
Again and again I asserted I was no man s slave, and 
insisted upon his taking oft my chains at once. He 
endeavored to hush me, as if he feared my voice 
would be overheard. But I would not be silent, and 
denounced the authors of my imprisonment, whoever 
they might be, as unmitigated villains. Finding he 
could not quiet me, he ilew into a towering passion. 
With blasphemous oaths, he called me a black liar, a 
mnawrvy from Georgia, and every other profane and 



44: TWELVE TEARS A SLAVE. 

vulgar epithet that the most indecent fancy could 
conceive. 

During this time Kadburn was standing silently 
by. His business was, to oversee this human, or 
rather inhuman stable, receiving slaves, feeding and 
whipping them, at the rate of t\vo shillings a head 
per day. Turning to him, Burch ordered the paddle 
and cat-o -ninetails to be brought in. He disappear 
ed, and in a few moments returned with these in 
struments of torture. The paddle, as it is termed in 
slave-beating parlance, or at least the one with which I 
first became acquainted, and of which I now speak, was 
a piece of hard- wood board, eighteen or twenty inches 
long, moulded to the shape of an old-fashioned pudding 
stick, or ordinary oar. The flattened portion, which 
was about the size in circumference of two open 
hands, was bored with a small auger in numerous 
places. The cat w T as a large rope of many strands 
the strands unraveled, and a knot tied at the extrem 
ity of each. 

As soon as these formidable w r hips appeared, I was 
seized by both of them, and roughly divested of my 
clothing. My feet, as has been stated, were fastened 
to the floor. Drawing me over the bench, face down 
wards, Radburn placed his heavy foot upon the fet 
ters, between my wrists, holding them painfully to the 
floor. "With the paddle, Burch commenced beating 
me. Blow after blow was inflicted upon my naked 
body. "When his unrelenting arm grew tired, he 




SCENE IN THE SLAVE PEN AT WASHINGTON 



THE WHIPPING. 4:5 

1 

stopped and asked if I still insisted I was a free man. 
I did insist upon it, and then the blows were renewed, 
faster and more energetically, if possible, than before. 
When again tired, he would repeat the same question, 
and receiving the same answer, continue his cruel 
labor. All this time, the incarnate devil was utter 
ing most fiendish oaths. At length the paddle broke, 
leaving the useless handle in his hand. Still I would 
not yield. All his brutal blows could not force from 
my lips the foul lie that I was a slave. Casting mad 
ly on the floor the handle of the broken paddle, he 
seized the rope. , This was far more painful than, the 
other. I struggled with all my power, but it was in 
vain. I prayed for mercy, biit my prayer was only 
answered with imprecations and with stripes. I 
thought I must die beneath the lashes of the accursed 

o 

brute. Even now the flesh crawls upon my bones, as 
I recall the scene. I was all on fire. ]\Iy sufferings 
I can compare to nothing else than the burning ago 
nies of hell ! 

At last I became silent to his repeated questions. 
I would make no reply. In fact, I was becoming al 
most unable to speak. Still he plied the lash without 
stint upon my poor body, until it seemed that the 
lacerated flesh was stripped from my bones at every 
stroke. A man with a particle of mercy in his soul 
would not have beaten even a dog so cruelly. At 
length Eadburn said that it was useless to whip 
me any more that I would be sore enough. There 
upon. Eurch desisted, saying, with an admonitory 



46 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

shake of his fist in my face, and hissing the woids 
through his firm-set teeth, that if ever I dared to 
utter again that I was entitled to my freedom, that I 
had been kidnapped, or any thing whatever of the 
kind, the castigation I had just received was nothing 
in comparison with what would follow. lie swore 
that he would either conquer or kill me. "With, these 
consolatory words, the fetters were taken from my 
wrists, my feet still remaining fastened to the ring ; 
the shutter of the little "barred window, which had 
been opened, was again closed, and going out, lock 
ing the great door behind them, I was left in dark 
ness as before. 

In an hour, perhaps two, my heart leaped to my 
throat, as the key rattled in the door again. I, who 
had been so lonely, and who had longed so ar 
dently to see some one, I cared not who, now shud 
dered at the thought of man s approach. A human 
face was fearful to me, especially a white one. liacl- 
burn entered, bringing with him, on a tin plate, a 
piece of shriveled fried pork, a slice of bread and a 
cup of water. He asked me how I felt, and remark 
ed that I had received a pretty severe flogging. He 
remonstrated with me against the propriety of as 
serting my freedom. In rather a patronizing and 
confidential manner, he gave it to me as his advice, 
that the less I said on that subject the better it would 
be for me. The man evidently endeavored to appear 
kind whether touched at the sight of my sad condi 
tion, or with the view of silencing, on my part, anv 



THE WHIPPING. 47 

farther expression of my rights, it is not necessary 
now to conjecture. He unlocked the fetters from my 
ankles, opened the shutters of the little window, and 
departed, leaving me again alone. 

By this time I had become stiff and sore ; my 
body was covered with blisters, and it was with great 
pain and difficulty that I could move. From the 
window I could observe nothing but the roof resting 
on the adjacent wall. At night I laid down upon the 
damp, hard floor, without any pillow or covering 
whatever. Punctually, twice a day, Eadburn came 
in, with his pork, and bread, and water. I had but 
little appetite, though I was tormented with contin 
ual thirst. My wounds would not permit me to re 
main but a few minutes in any one position ; so, sit 
ting, or standing, or moving slowly round, I passed 
the days and nights. I was heart sick and discour 
aged. Thoughts of my family, of my w r ife and chil 
dren, continually occupied my mind. "When sleep 
overpowered me I dreamed of them dreamed I was 
again in Saratoga that I could see their faces, and 
hear their voices calling me. Awakening from the 
pleasant phantasms of sleep to the bitter realities 
around me, I could but groan and weep. Still my 
spirit was not broken. I indulged the anticipation of 
escape, and that speedily. It was impossible, I rea 
soned, that men could be so unjust as to detain me as 
a slave, when the truth of my case was known. 
Burch, ascertaining I was no runaway from Georgia, 
would certainly let me go. Though suspicions of 



4:8 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

Brown and Hamilton were not unfrequent, I could 
not reconcile myself to the idea that they were in 
strumental to my imprisonment. Surely they wonld 
seek me out they would deliver me from thraldom. 
Alas ! I had not then learned the measure of " man s 
inhumanity to man," nor to what limitless extent of 
wickedness he will go for the love of gain. 

In the course of several days the outer door was 
thrown open, allowing me the liberty of the yard. 
There I found three slaves one of them a lad of ten 
years, the others young men of about twenty and 
twenty-five. I was not long in forming an acquaint 
ance, and learning their names and the particulars of 
their history. 

The eldest was a colored man named Clemens Kay. 
He had lived in Washington ; had driven a hack, and 
worked in a livery stable there for a long time. He 
was very intelligent, and fully comprehended his sit 
uation. The thought of going south overwhelmed 
him with grief. Burch had purchased him a few 
days before, and had placed him there until such time 
as he was ready to send him to the New-Orleans mar 
ket. From him I learned for the first time that I was 
in William s Slave Pen, a place I had never heard of 
previously. He described to me the uses for which 
it was designed. I repeated to him the particulars of 
my unhappy story, but he could only give me the 
consolation of his sympathy. He also advised me to 
be silent henceforth on the subject of my freedom; 
for, knowing the character of Burch, he assured me 



RAY, WILLIAMS AND RANDALL. 49 

that it would only be attended with renewed whip 
ping. The next eldest was named John Williams. lie 
was raised in Virginia, not far from Washington. 
Lurch had taken him in payment of a debt, and he 
constantly entertained the hope that his master would 
redeem him- a hope that was subsequently realized. 
The lad was a sprightly child, that answered to the 
name of Randall. Most of the time he was playing 
about the yard, but occasionally would cry, calling 
for his mother, and wondering when, she would come. 
His mothers absence seemed to be the great and only 
grief in his little heart. He was too young to realize 
his condition, and when the memory of his mother 
was not in his mind, he amused us with his pleasant 
pranks. 

At night, Hay, Williams, and the boy, slept in the 
loft of the shed, while I was locked in the cell. Fi 
nally we were each provided with blankets, such as 
are used upon horses the only bedding I was allow 
ed to have for twelve years afterwards. Ray and 
Williams asked me many questions about Xew-York 
-how colored people were treated there ; how they 
could have homes and families of their own, with none 
to disturb and oppress them ; and Ray, especially, 
sighed continually for freedom. Such conversations, 
however, were not in the hearing of Bnrch, or the 
keep-.". !* Radburn. Aspirations such as these would 
have brought down the lash upon our backs. 

It is necessary in this narrative, in order to present 
a full and truthful statement of all the principal events 

4 



5 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

in the hi-tory of my life, and to portray the instim 
tion of Slavery as I have seen and known it, to speak 
of well-known places, and of many persons who arc 
yet living. I am, and always was, an entire stranger 
in Washington and its vicinity aside from Bnrch 
and Radburn, knowing no man there, except as I have 
heard of them through my enslaved companion?. 
What I am about to say, if false, can be ea; iiy eon 
tradictcd. 

I remained in Williams slave pen about two 
weeks. The night previous to my departure a woman 
was brought in, weeping bitterly, and leading by !he 
hand a little child. They were .Randall s mother nud 
half-sister. On meeting {hem ho was overjoyed, 
clinging to her dress, kissing the child, and exhibit 
ing every demonstration of delight. The mother also 
clasped him in her arms, embraced him tender 1 v. and 
gazed at him fondly through her tears, calling hbn by 
many an endearing name. 

Emily, the child, was seven or eight years old, of 
light complexion, and with a face of admirable beau 
ty. Her hair fell in curls around her neck, while the 
style and richness of her dress, and the neatness of 
her whole appearance indicated she had been brought, 
up in the midst of wealth. She was a sweet child 
indeed. The woman also was arrayed in silk, with 
rings upon her fingers, and golden ornaments sus 
pended from her ears. Her air and manners, the cor 
rectness and propriety of her language all showed, 
evidently, that she had sometime stood above the- 






mon level of a ;ikivo. JSlie seemed, to Lc amazed 
inuhig her-clf in fciicli a place iio that. It was 
inly a sudden and. unexpected turn of im-tune that 

brought her there, lulling tlie air whh her com- 
hih:gs, she was hurtled, wiili the children and my- 
j into the c-oll. Lan^uuge can convey but an iuad- 
uiiC hiiprcioioii of the lamentations to which tlio 
e iiux ^.sant utterance. Thro win hers el fuion the 



lo I " c > i ii : v -11 i i 1 hf i 1 "i l l^ * 

,g uie cmiuren. ILL nei ami*, ^10 

touehmir words as only maternal 



o and kindness can suggest. They nestled closely 
her, as if i/k / e only wns there any safety or pro- 
rioii. At hist they slept, their heads resting upon 
.-lap. Vriiile they shunbered, she smoothed the 
a- Lack from their litilo foreheads, and Laiked to 
Mn ad iright h-ag. uhe called them her darlings 
c -aveec babes poor innocent tilings, that knew 
: the misery they \;ere destined to endure. Soon 
V would have no mother to comfort them they 
> aid be taken from her. "What would become of 
;m? Oh! she could not live away from her Little 
- and her dear boy. They had - always been 
:d ||| I -, an 1 had such loving ways. It vroul,! 
}ak her he :> Cod knew, she said, if they were, fo- 

; m, and, my be/ they would be separated, and 
1--1 never leo e;ichothe;- any more. It was cnougli 
^._- t a heart of stone to listen to the phia l ox- 
.. .L.riiS of i.iu.1: doiA luie and distracted mother, iicr 



52 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

name was Eliza ; and tliis was tlie story of her life, as 
slic afterwards related it : 

She was tlie slave of Elisha Deny, a ricli man, liv 
ing in tlie neighborhood of Washington. S:;e was 
born, I think she said, on his plantation, "lears be 
fore, he had fallen into dissipated habits, and quarrel- 
ed with his wife. In fact, soon a ft or the birth of 
Randall, they separated. Leaving h is wile an" daugh 
ter in the house they had always occupied, he erected 
a new one near by, on the estate. Into this lion so he 
brought Eliza ; find, on condition of her living with 
him, she and her chil--- were to be emr-meipatcd. 
She resided with him - -ve nine years, vrilh servants 
to attend upon her, and piovided with every comfort 
and luxury of life. Emily was his child ! 1 inally, 
her young mispress, wlio had always remained TV 1m 
her morhcr at the homestead, married a !},Ir. Jacob 
Brooks. At length, for some caure, (as I :thcred 
from licr relation,) beyond Berry s control, a division 
of his property was made. She and her children fell 
to the share of Mr. Brooks. During the nhie years 
she had lived with Berry, in consequence of tl:e posi 
tion she was compelled to occupy, she ami L nu ivhad 
become the object of Ilrs. Berry and her daughter s 
hatred and dislike. Berry himself she represented as 
a man of naturally a kind lieari;, A ."ho always projnis- 
cd her that she should have her freedom^ -ml who, 
the had no doubt, would grant it to her then, ii it 
were only in his power. As soon as they thus came 



THE STOUT OF ELIZA, 53 

info the poss< inji find control of tlie daughter, it be 
came verv iiK miih-st thcv would not live Ions; together. 

-, / O O 

d to be odious to l[rs. Lroohs ; 
i!-j : 1-,-r c-o-.il lio boar to look upon the child, lialf- 



- she was led into the pen, Urcoks had 

t her from the estate into ine city, under pre- 
: : the I lino had come when her iree papers 
executed, in fuhiilment of Iier manor s 
Llated at the prospect of immediate li bor 
ed herself and little Thnmy in their best 
:. a:id accompanied him with a j-yfal heart. 
; .! in the citv, instead of beini 1 baptized 

v O JL 

g fuiiiily 01 freemen, she was delivered to tho 

jlarcb. 1 he paper that was executed was a 

s,-le. The h-"pe of years was blasted in a mo- 

I r..;m the Light of most exulting Iia]pines3 

;:mr)st depths of wretchedness, she had that 

cended. Xo wonrler that she wept, and filled 

i with Wculhi r :s and expressions of heart-rend- 



i,:a is now (bad. Far up the Eed Eiver, wlicro 
it pours i" waters slavishly tl iron ^h tho nnheaWiy 
L T .V liuida of Louisiana, she rests in the prave at last 
the only resting-place of the poor slave ! How all her 
e realized how she mourned day and ni;:ht, 
J: ( K! never would he comforted how, as she predict 
ed, her Leart did indeed break, with the burden of 
maternal sorrow, will be seen as the narrative pro 
ceeds. 



T77 T> 
JL u .1.1 



SOriRO VS PRKPA^ATTAN 70 L TRAHK 

F.TRF.;;TS OF ^ Asmycxnx UAU,, co3.r".<j;TA T 
T;>N crj-.M HAY Tin: MEAKKAST ox THE . 
r;pj>s A^I TA CT.K;:I: ;;:;. i:;:it ;:-:"; T ;ny:! r A : 

\V1FI; 7,. r AV.Y AND LT.TII" fT.r - i s RKTCnX I 

To CANADA Tin: L.UG oiiLiCANS jA:,;:::i ;:. n; 



AT iiucrvals during tlio first ni^lit of llz::\] Ir^-Hr- 
ecrcilloii in tlic pc-]i, slio coiiirliiiiiccl Llvl crl-. <jf JV.v."i> 
Broola, licr young mistress Inisbaiifl. Llio diSKl 
tliat L:i<l f-;lio Leon avrcu O c i f tlio dcc: : ] 
to practice upon her, 3io never would liavo Lr%^|| 
Lcr tlicro alivo. Tlicy liad cliozcn tlic opporlninty of 
etting lier tiway wlicn blaster Lcny vras absent from 
tho plantation. IIo Lad always been land to lie:-. 
i^Jio \vi.dicd tliat glio could see iihu ; br.t slic kr.cv\ T tur.t 
even lio \vas unable now to rescue Lcr. alien would 
f.-lic commence weeping again Lkiing tlio sice-" 
cLildreU talking first to one, tneii to the other, as 
tliey L:y in their nnconscious dimibcrs, with tlieir 
heads upon Ler lap. So wore tlio long night away; 
f.nd wlien tlse morning dawned, and night Lad come 
ugnin, still she kept mourning on, and would not bo 
consoled. 



PREPARATION TO EMBARK. 55 

About midnight following, the cell door opened, 
and Duron raid Eadburn entered, with lanterns in 
their hands. Burch, with ah oath, ordered us to roll 
up ouv "blankets without delay, and get ready to go 
en board the boat. He swore we would be left unless 
we hurried, fast. He aroused the children from their 
^lumbers with a rough shake, and said they were 
d d sleepy, it appeared. Going out into the yard, 
lie call CM] Clem Eay, ordering him to leave the loft 
and come into the cell, and bring his blanket with 
him. When Clem appeared, he placed us side by 
rdde, and fastened us together with hand- curls my 
lefi hand, to his right. John Williams had been ta 
ken out n day or two before, his master having 
redeemed him, greatly to his delight. Clem and I 
were ordered to march, Eliza and the children fol 
lowing. We were conducted into the yard, from 
thence into the covered passage, and up a night of 
Bteps through a side door into the upper room, where 
I had heard the walking to and fro. Its furniture was 
a stove, a few old chair.?, and a long table, covered 
with papers. It was a whits-washed room, without 
any carpet 011 the floor, and seemed a sort of office. 
By one of the windows, I remember, hung a rusty 
sword, which attracted, my attention. Burch s trunk 
was there. In obedience to his orders, I took hold of 
one of its handles with my unfettered hand, while he 
taking hold of the other, we proceeded out of the 
front door into the street in the same order as we had 
left the cell. 



56 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

It was a dark night. All was quiet. I could see 
lights, or the reflection of them, over towards Penn 
sylvania Avenue, but there was no one, not even a 
straggler, to he seen. - I was almost resolved to at 
tempt to break away. Had I not been hand-cuffed 
the attempt would certainly Lave been made, what 
ever consequence might have followed. Eadburn 
was in the rear, carrying a large stick, and hurrying 
up the children as fast as the little ones could walk. 
So we passed, hand-cuffed and in silence, through the 
streets of Washington through the Capital of a na 
tion, whose theory of government, we are told, rests 
on the foundation of man s inalienable right to lite, 
LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness! If ail ! Co 
lumbia, happy land, indeed ! 

Reaching the steamboat, we were quickly hulled 
into the hold, among barrels and boxes of freight. A 
colored servant brought a light, the bell rung, and 
soon the vessel started clown the Potomac, cany ing 
us we knew not where. The bell tolled as we parsed 
the tomb of Washington ! l>urch, no doubt, with un 
covered head, bowed reverently before the sacred ash 
es of the man who devoted his illustrious life to the 
liberty of his country. 

!N"one of us slept that night but Hand all and littlo 
Emmy. For the first time Clem Kay was wholly 
overcome. To him the idea of going south was ter 
rible in the extreme. lie was leaving the friends and 
associations of his youth every thing that was dear 
and precious to his heart in all probability never 



BREAKFAST CX THE STEAMER. 57 

to return. Ho am! Ihiza mingled their tears together, 
"bemoaning their cruel late. For 1113- own part, cliiil- 
cuit as it was, I endeavored to keep up my spirits. I 
resolve 1 in my mind a hundred plans of escape, and 
f ally determined to make tlio attempt the first despe- 
ra o chance that offered. I Iiad by this time Income 
satisiic-d, however, that my true policy was to say no 
thing farther on the subject of my having "been Lorn a 
freeman. It would but expose mo to mal-treatment, 
an;! dhuini.-ili the chances of liberation. 

After sunrise in the morning we were called up on 
dock to breakfast. JJurch tool; OUT hand-cnfls oil, and 
v/e sat down to table, lie asked Eliza if she would 
o a dram. Slio declined, tlianking him politely. 
j hiring the meal YTG were all silont not a word pass 
ed l>etvv*ecn us. A. mulatto woman who served at ta- 
i-emed to take an interest in our behalf told us 
1 V > cb?cr up, and not to bo so cast down. Breakfast 
over, the hand-cutf.s were restored, and Burcli ordered 
i! o;u on the stern dock. "We sat down together on 
oxer-, still saying nothing in Eurclrs presence. 
Occasionally a passongor would, walk out to where 
we were, look at us fur a Avhiio, then silently return. 

Ic was a very pleasant morning. The fields along 
tho river were covered with verdure, far in advance 
m what I had been accustomed to sco at that season 
j year. The sun shone out warmly ; the birds 
were singing in the trees. The happy birds I en- 
vk-d them. I wished for wings like them, that I 
might cleave the air to where my birdlmgs waited 



i>8 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

vainly for their fathers coming, in the cooler reg on 
oftheXorth. 

In the forenoon tlie steamer readied Arpila Crock. 
There the passengers took stages Enroll and hi- live 
slaves occupying one exclusively. lie laughed with 
the children, and at one stop-ing place Trent so far as 
to purchase -them a piece of gingerbread. IFe told 
me to hold up my head and look smart. That I 
might, perhaps, get a good master if i hchavcd my 
self. I made him no reply. His face was hateful to 
me, and I could not bear to look upon it. I sat in 
the corner, cherishing in niy heart the hope, not yet 
extinct, of some day meeting the tyrant c:i the soil of 
my native State. 

At Frederieksbnrgli we were transferred firm, tho 
stage coach to a car, raid before dark arrived in 1 
niond, the chief city of Virginia. At this city we 
were taken from the cars, and driven through the 
fiJroet to a slave pen, between the railroad depot and 
the river, kept by a ALT. Gooclin. This pen is similar 
to \Yilliaxns in "Washington, cxecr/t it is somewhat 

O / J. 

larger; and besides, there were two small houses 
standing at opposite corners within the yard. Theso 
houses are snsnally found within slave yards, being 
used as rooms for the examination of human chattels 
bv purchasers before concluding a bar.? ; 

v -i. O O 

^onndness in a slave, as well as in a horse, detracts 
materially from his value. If no warrantv is given, 
a close examination is a matter of particular impor 
tance to the negro jockey. 



GOODIN AXD HIS SLAVE PEN. Otf 

TTe were met at the door of Goodin s yard by tliat 
gentleman liimself a short, fat man, with a round, 

plump face, "black hair and whiskers, and a complex 
ion almost as dark as some of his own negroes. He 
had a hard, stem look, and was perhaps about fifty 
yeai 3 <:<f age. Burch and he met with great cordiali 
ty. They were evidently old friends. Shaking each 
ether warmly by the hand, IBurch remarked he had 
brought some company, inquired at what time the 
I-rig would leave, and was answered that it would 
probably leave the next day at such an hour. Good- 
:-u then turned to me, took hold of my arm, turned 
me partly round, looked at me sharply with the air of 
one who considered himself a good jud^e of property, 
and as if estimating i:i his own mind about how 
much I was worth. 

"Wei;, boy, where did yon come from? 
Forgetting myself, for a moment, I answered, 



"ew-Tork 2 II 1 ! what have you been doing 
rip there T was his astonished interrogatory. 

Observing Unrch at this moment looking at me with 
; !i angry expression that conveyed a meaning it was 
not diijvca.lt to understand, I immediately said, " O. I 
have only been up that way a piece," in a manner 
intended to imply that although I might have been as 
v.r as Xew-York, yet I wished it distinctly understood 
lid not belong to that free State, nor to any 
ithor. 

Good in then turned to Clem, and then to Eliza and 



60 TWELVE YEARS A SLATE. 

the children, examining them severally, and asking 
various questions. lie was pleased with Emily, as 
was everyone who saw the child s sweet countenance. 
She was not as tidy as when I first beheld her ; her 
hair was now somewhat disheveled ; but through its 
unkempt and soft profusion there still beamed a little 
face of most surpassing loveliness. " Altogether we 
were a fair lot- -a devilish good lot, he said, enforc 
ing that opinion with more than one emphatic adjec 
tive not found in the Christian vocabulary. Thereup 
on we passed into the yard. Quite a number of 
slaves, as many as thirty I should say, were moving 
about, or sitting on benches under the shed. They 
were all cleanly dressed- -the men with hat?, the wo 
men with handkerchiefs tied about their heads. 

Burch and Goodin, after separating from us, walk 
ed up the steps at the back part of the main building, 
and sat down upon the door gill. They entered into 
conversation, but the subject of it I could not hear. 
Presently Burch came down into the yard, unfettered 
me, and led me into one of the small houses. 

"You told that man yon came from Xew- York," 
said he. 

I replied, " I told him I had been up as far as Xew- 
York, to be sure, but did not tell him I belonged 
there, nor that I was a freeman. I meant no harm at 
all. Master Burch. I would not have said it had I 
thought," 

He looked at me a moment as if he was ready to 
devour me, then turmiif? round went out. In a fevr 



HOBEKT, OF CIXCIXXATI. Cl 

minutes lie returned. " If ever I liear you say a word 
about Xew-Tork, or about your freedom, I will be the 
death of you I will kill you; you may rely on 
that," he ejaculated fierce! v. 

j ^ 

I doubt not he understood then better than 1 did, 
the danger and the penally of selling a free man into 
slavery. lie felt the necessity of closing my mouth 
against the crime he knew he was committing. Of 
course, my life would not have weighed a feather, in 
any emergency requiring such a sacrifice. Undoubt 
edly, lie meant precisely what he said. 

Under the shed on one side of the yard, there was 
constructed a rough table, while overhead were sleep 
ing lofts the same as in the pen at Washington. Af 
ter partaking at this table of our supper of pork and 
bread, I was hand-cuffed to a large yellow man, quite 
stout and fleshy, with a countenance expressive of 
the utmost melancholy. lie was a man of intelli 
gence and information. Chained together, it was not 
long before we became acquainted with each other s 
history. His name was liobort. Like myself, he 
had been Lorn free, and had a wife and two chil 
dren in Cincinnati. lie said he had come south with 
two men, who had hired him in the city of his resi 
dence. "Without free papers, he had been seized at 
Predericksburgh, placed in confinement, and beaten 
Tini.il he had learned, as I had, the necessity and the 
policy of silence. He had been in Goodin s pen 
about three weeks. To this man I became much 
attached. We could sympathize with, and understand 



62 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVK. 

each oilier. It was with tears and a heavy heart, 
not many days subsequently, that I saw him die, and 
looked for tlie last time upon liis lifeless form ! 

Robert and myself, witli Clem, Eliza and her chil 
dren , slept that night npon our "blankets, in one of the 
email houses in the yard. There wore lour others, all 
from the same plantation, who had been sold, and 
were now on their way south, who also occupied it 
with ns. David and his wife, Caroline, both mulat- 
toes, were exceedingly alfocted. They dreaded the 
thought of belli" put into . he cane and cotton fields; 

O O JL 

but their greatest source anxiety was the apprehen 
sion of being separated. <Iary, a tall, lithe girl, of a 
most jetty black, was IK ~:ss and apparently indiffer 
ent. Like many of the class, she scarcely knew there 
was such a word as freedom. Eronght up in the ig 
norance of a brnte, she possessed but little mo re than 
a brute s intelligence. She was one of those, and 
there are very many, who foar nothing but their mas 
ter s lash, and know no further dnty than to obey his 
voice. The other was Lethe. Che was of an entirely 
different character. She had long, straight hair, and 
bore more the appearance of an Indian than a negro 
wonifm. She had sharp and spiteful eyes, and con 
tinually gave utterance to the language of h sired 
and revenge. Her husband had been sold. She 
knew not where she was. An exchange of mnstcrs, 
she was sure, could not be fo>r the worso. She cared 
no! whither they might carry her. Pointing to the 
tears npon her face, the desperate creature wished 



CLT::I RAY. 

that she might see the < vlien she could wipe them 
Oii b; :<ome man s blood 

ile wo were thus u.o 1 tho history of each 

O f 

otkc; ! as seated in a corner by 

:;g hymns and praying for her children. 

ed from tho loss of so much sleep, I could no 

::_,:! bear up against the advances of that "sweet 

re.--torer," a;id laying down by the side of llobert, on 

- i 1 , soon forgot my troubles, and slept until the 

dawn of day. 

In the mornin^, having swevtihe yard, and wash- 

O -L *s 

cd ourselves, under Goodi:vs superintendence, wo 
were ordered to roll up our blanhets, and make ready 
for the -uunuauce of our journey. Clem P. ay was 
iiib ruiei that he would go no further, Uurcli, for soino 
having concluded to carry him back to TTash- 
." -i. II j Aras much rejoiced. Shaking hands, we 
ted in (he slave pen at Ilichinond, and I have not 
n him since. Eut, much to my surprise, since my 
jarned that he had escaped from bondage, 
on his way to tho free soil of Canada, lodged one 
c Imase of my brother-in-hiw in Saratoga, 
i mi,!g my family of the place and the condition 



n the afternoon, we were drawn up, two abreast, 
IJobert and myself in advance, and in this order, driy- 
c -.1 by ihireh and G:--odin from the yard, through tlio 
streets of Hiclimond to tlie brig Orleans. She was 
a ve.- A of respectable size, full rigged, and freighted 
la-iiicipally wiih tobacco. We were all on board by 



61 TWELVE VEAE3 A ST. AVI]. 

five o clock. Lurch brought us each a tin cup and a 
epoon. There were lorry of us in. ilie brig, Leing all, 
except Clem, that were in the pen. 

With a small pocket knife that ha-i not been taken 
.from me, I began cutting the imdals of my nnme 
upon the tin cup. Tho others immediately flocked 
round me, requesting me to mark theirs in a similar 
manner. In lime, I gra iHed them all. of which, they 
did not appear to he forgetful. 

~\Ye were ail stowed, away in tlie hold at n : ght, and 
the hatch barred down. AVu laid oiiLoxes, or wluTe- 
ever there Avas room enourdi to f-.tre cdi oar ] 

O 

on the iloor. 

Lurch accompanied us no farther than Kich:ii^;;.1, 
returning from that point to tlie capital whh Clc-ia. 
jNTot until tlie lapse of ahno^t twelve years, to -,-, ii\ in 
January last, in the Washington police olllce, did I 
set my eyes upon his face again. 

James II. Lurch was a slave-trader -hnyi::g men, 
women and children at low prices, and soiling ihe:n 
at an advance. He was a speculator in human ikvh 
a disreputable calling and so considered at the 
South. For the present he disappears from the scenes 
recorded in this narrative, hue he will appear cg-da 
before its close, not in the character of a man-whip 
ping tyrant, but as an arrested, cringhig criminal in 
a court of law, that failed to do him justice. 



CHAPTER V. 

AUPJVAL AT NORFOLK FRF.r>F;nii K AM) MARIA ARTHUR, TEE FREEMAN 

AITOI-NTED 8TE\VAK1> J!M, CLTFEK, AND JENNY THE STORM BA 
HAMA J;ANKS THE CALM THE o>> ^PIRACY TIH; LOM; COAT THE 

SMALL-I OX liEATII OK ROr.::i--T MANNING, THE SA ! !.O|> . TTir. MEF.TINCi 

IN THE FORECASTLE THE LETTER ARRIVAL AT NEW-ORLEANS A U- 

Tiirivs KTSCUL: TUEoi-iJi^ns FRKKMAX, THE CONSIGNEE TLATT -HII^T 

MGLIT IN XiiE NENV-OllLEANS SLAVE TEX. 

AFTER vro were till <:>:i Loard, tlio "brig Orleans pro- 
cocdoil down Jiirnos Iliver. Passing into CLesapeake 
l ;iv we arrived next duv o])])osite the. titv of Xor- 

.- t JL -L t,- 

ibl v. ^Vliilo lyhig at aiiclior, a jigliter approaclied 
us from tlio town, Lringing f(.ur more slaves. Frede- 
rielc, a Loy of eiglitcen, had Leon Lorn a lave, as also 
liad Henry, wlio Avas some years old-ji 1 . , Tliey had 
Lutli Leen house servants in the city. .ii ia was a 
rather genteel looking colored girl, wiiu : limitless 
form, Lut ignorant and extremely vain. 1.ho idea of 
going to Xew-Orleans was pleasing to her. She en 
tertained an extravagantly high opinion of her own 
attractions. Assuming a haughty mien, she declared 
to her companions, that immediately on our arrival 
in Xew-Orleans, she had no doubt, sonic wealthy sin 
gle g< . djinanof good taste would purchase her at 
once ; 



68 TWELVE VE1KS A SLATE. 

Eut the most prominent of tlie four, was a man 
named Arthur. As the lighter approached, he strug 
gled stonily with his keepers. It was with muni 
ibree that lie was dragged aboard the brig. lie pro 
tested, in a load voice, against the treatment lie was 
receiving, and demanded to be relea-cd. His faco 
was swollen, and covered with wounds and bruises, 
and, Indeed, one side of it was a complete raw sore. 
lie was forced, Avith all ha^te, dov.n (he liateliway 
into the hold. I caught an outline of his story as he 
was borne straggling aiong, of which he afterwards 
gave mo a more full relation, and it was as fallow; : 
lie had long resided in the city of Xortblk, and wa.5 
a free man. lie had a family living there., and was a 
mason by trade. Having Leon, unusually detained, 
he was returning late 0110 night to liis honse iii the 
suburbs of the city, when he was attached by a gang 
of persons in an nnfrerpicnted street. Ho fought 
nnt l his strength failed him. Overpowered at last, 
he was gagged and bound with ropes, and beaten, 
until ne became insensible. Iw>r several dnys they 
secreted him in the slave pen at Xorfblk- a very 
common establishment, it appears, in the cities of the 
South. The night before, he had been taken out and 
put on board the lighter, which, pushing ont from 
shore, had awaited our arrival. For some time he 
continued his protestations, and yras altogether irrec 
oncilable. At length, however, he became silent. 
lie sank into a gloomy and thoughtful mood, and ap 
peared to be counseling with himself. There was in 



.TT:,I, CT;FFT:E AXD JEXXT. 67 

; .- determined ijr-o, something that susrcrested 

* O 



A: -/.vhig Xuriblk use hand-cnfirf were taken 

; the (.lay we wore a!V\ved to remain 

elected iloV rt as Lis waiter, 

\i><^ppoin{ocl to superintend the cooking de- 

- .,U aad the distribution of f<>od and water. I 

.-: j i T r t^ 1 r T i 

flu L irco a^sL^TLiiiL^j uiii : ., v.iiuv aiiu j t/nnv. ueimys 

w:.i.j to prepare tlio coiiuOj vrliieh conr-;i^te-.l of 

c:; r- :d . : .-relied in a keWo, l)oiled a;;d sweetened 

v.-if.: i id v:^. Jim and Cn;T.e baked the hoe-cake 

a:. a feMtlieLa on. 

:;<;. a t-.T-lo, farmed of a wide board rest- 
in ; of the ba -j-o!?. I cut and handed to 
3 of inoatand a " cl-clgor" of the bread, 
( iVera Joiiny s l:etde al^o dipped ont for each a 
crip of 1: ? JG. Tlio n:e of plates YTRS dispensed 
vr/di, !- T tbc i salde flivvers took the place of knives 
:. . Jim and CiijTce were very dcninre and 
} to bndric--, somewhat inflated with their 
,-,,. o, ; f^concl cooks, and without doubt feeling 
AV[i.-- a .e. rca!: rer-ponsibility rc-;:ing on tneiD. 
1 wa? called stovrard a name given me by ing cap- 

Thc slave.- wore f :1 twice a day, at ten and five 

o cbick always receiving tlie :-amok nd and quantity 

/, ard in the ? aine manner a3 alcove described. 

.vo were driven into the hold, and securely 

f\;,:-cnel down. 

Sea v were we cut of si^ht of land before we 



t>8 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

were overtaken by a violent storm. The brig rolled 
and plunged until we feared she would go down. 
Some were sea-sick, others on their knees praying, 
while some were fast holding to each other, paralysed 
with fear. The sea-sickness rendered the place of our 
confinement loathsome and disgusting. It would 
have been a happy thing for most of us- -it would 
have saved the agony of many hundred la--l 
miserable deaths at last had the compax- on at. 
snatched us that day from the clutches 
men. The thought of iiandull and little 
ing down among the monsters of the deep, is a ~\ 
pleasant contemplation than to think of them a,; 
are now, perhaps, dragging out lives of ui.:. 
toil. 

TThen in sight of the Bahama Bank;-, at a r< 
called Old Point Compass, or the Hole in tl- 
we were becalmed three days. There was scarce 
breath of air. The waters of the g;;lf pr< 
singularly white appearance, like lime water. 

O / 

In the order of even .;, I come rr-w to the rela 
of an occurrence, which I never call to in -hid bn 
sensations of regret. I thank (k-u, who has since 
permitted me to escape from thethralldom of slaverv, 
that through Ins merciful interposition I was prevent 
ed from imbruing my hands in the blood of hi.; crea 
tures. Let not those who have never keen placed in 
like circumstances, judge me harshly. Until they 
have been chained and beaten until they find them 
selves in the situation I was, borne away from homo 



THE coxsriKA.cY. 6Q 

and. family towards a land of bondage let them re 
frain from saying what they would not do for liberty. 
How far I should have been insti fieri in the sisrht of 

J O 

( T< >d n;-,(l mail, it is unnecessary now to speculate upon. 
If i< enough to say that I am able to congratulate 
myself upon the harmless termination of an affair 
which threatened, for a time, to be attended with se 
rious results. 

Towards evening, on the first day of the calm, Ar 
thur a? id myself were in the bow of the vessel, seat 
ed on the windlass. We v\ ci c conversing together of 
the probable destiny that awaited us, and mourning 
together over r >m misfortunes. Arthur said, and I 
} ..u reed with him, that death was far less terrible than 
the living prospect that was before ns. For a long 
time we talked of our children, onr past live?, and of 
the probabilities of escape. Obtaining possession of 
the brig was susrccestccl by one of us. We discussed 
the possibility of our being able, in such, an event, to 
inal i our way to the harbor of Xew-York. I knew 
litilo of the compass ; but the idea of risking the ex 
periment was eagerly entertained. The chances, for 
and against us, in an encounter with the crew, was 
canvassed. "Who could be relied upon, and who 
could not, the proper time and manner of the attack, 
Nvcre all talked over and over again. From the mo- 
iM^ iit the plot suggested itself I began to hope. I 
\\~-d it constantly in mv mind. As difficulty af- 

J ; > 

t:r (Uiiiculiy arose, some ready conceit was at hand, 
how it could be overcome, While 



70 TWELVE YEARS A SLAV! . 

others slept, Arthur and I were maturing our plans. 
At length, with nineh caution, Ttobert wuo 
made acquainted with our int en liens, lie approved 
of them at once, and entered into the conspiracy \\iili 
a zealous spirit. Ill ere was not another slave \;e 
dared to trust. Brought up in fear and ignorance a3 
they are, it can scarcely be conceived how servilely 
they will cringe before a white mi in.":, look. It was 
not safe to deposit so bold a secret with any of them, 
and finally we three resolved to tahe upon o 
alone the fearful responsibility of tho ail pi. 

At night, as has l3een said, ire we-i driven i^ the 
liold, and the liatcli barred down. How to r:-. 
deck was the first dilllculty chatpres^ite..! i,:^:.; ( :i 
the how of the brig, h,wover, I luul < 
small boat lying bottom upwards, it cccLiri 
that by secreting ourselves underneath if, w 
not be missed from the crowd, as they were Iran led. 
down into the hold at night. I \vas s; :d to mal.o 
the experiment, in order to sati.d y ourselves of ito fea 
sibility. The next evening, accordingly, iv. pper, 
watching my opporhiuity, I hastily cone rJed :nysclf 
beneath it. Lyiiig close upon the dee" :, 1 could see 
what was going on around me, while whoh y unper- 
ceivcd myself. In the morning, as thev esmo np, I 
slipped from my hiding place wKhor.t bein^ob: jrved. 
The result was entirely sati ?f:yjtory. 

The captain and mute slept in the c::bin of the f<.r- 
jncr. Prom .1 lobe rr ; Y, ho hud fK pieiit occasion, i/i 
his capacity of waiter, to make observations in ihut 



T;;E coxsnuAer, 71 

quarter, we ascertained, the exact position of their 
respective berths, lie further informed us that there 
were always two pistols and a cutlass lying on tho 
table. The crew s cook slept in the cook galley on 
deck, a sort of vehicle on wheels, that could be mov 
ed abo iii: as convenience required, while the sailors,, 
numbering only six, either slept in the forecastle, or 
in hammocks swung among tire rigging. 

Finally our arrangements were all completed. Ar 
thur and 1 were to steal silently to the cai main s cab 
in, sci;:e the pktols and cutlass, and as quickly as possi 
ble despatch him and the mate. lkbcrt, with a club, 
was to stand by tho door leading from tho deck do\vn 
into the cabin, and, in ca o of necessity, bent back iho 
L-iiiiorSj until we cuiild hurry to his assistance. "We 
were to proceed tlien as circumstances might require. 
Should the attack be so sudden and successful as to 
prevent resistance, the hatch was to remain barred 
down ; otherwise the slaves were to be called up, and 
in the crowd, and hurry, and confusion of the time, 
we resolved to regain our linerfv or lose our lives. I 
w;is then to as ,111110 the unaccustomed place of pilot, 

wind might bear us to the soil of freedom. 

The mate s name was Biddee, the captain s I can 
not now recall, though 1 rarely ever, forget a name 
once hoard. The captain was a small, genteel man. 
erect and prompt, with a proud bearing, aud looked 
! lie personification of courage. If lie is :s;:ill living, 
hTid these pages should chance to meet h : s oye, he 



72 TWELVE TEARS A SLAVE. 

will learn a fact connected with the voyage of the 
brig, from Richmond, to New-Orleans, in 1811, not 
entered on his log-book. 

"We were all prepared, and impatiently waiting an 
opportunity of putting our designs into execution, 
when they were frustrated by a sad and unforeseen 
event. Robert was taken ill. It was soon announced 
that he had the small-pox. lie continued to grow 
worse, and four days previous to our arrival in ]S"cw- 
Orleans he died. One of the sailors sewed him in his 
blanket, with a large stone from the ballast at his feet, 
and then laying him on a hatchway, and elevating it 
with tackles above the railing, the inanimate body of 
poor Robert was consigned to the white waters of the 
gulf. 

We were all panic-stricken by the appearance of 
the small-pox. The captain ordered lime to be scat 
tered through the hold, and other prudent precau 
tions to be taken. The death of Robert, however, and 
the presence of the malady, oppressed me sadly, and 
I gazed out over the great waste of waters with a 
spirit that was indeed disconsolate. 

An evening or two after Robert s burial, I was 
leaning on the hatchway near the forecastle, full of 
desponding thoughts, when a sailor in a kind voirtj 
asked me why I was so dovni-hearted. The tone and 
manner of the man assured me, and I answered, be 
cause I was a freeman, and had been kidnapped, 
He remarked that it was enough io make any one 
down-hearted, and continued to interrogate me until 



MAXNIXGj Till: SAILOR. 73 

he learned the particulars of my whole history. He 
was evidently much interested in my behalf, and, in 
the hi unt speech of a sailor, swore he would aid me 
all he couhl, if it . split his timbers." I requested 
him to furnish me pen, ink and paper, in order that 1 
might write to some of my friends. He promised to 
ohtain them but how I could use them undiscover 
ed was a difficulty. If I could only get into the fore 
castle while his watch was off, and the other sailors 
asleep, the thing could be accomplished. The small 
boat instantly occurred to me. lie thought we were 
n-ot far from the Lalize, at the mouth of the Mississip 
pi, and it was necessary that the letter be written 
>on, or the opportunity would be lost. Accordingly, 
bv amusement, I managed the next night to secret 
myself again under the long-boat. His watch was off 
at twelve. I saw him pass into the forecastle, and in 
about an hour f< flowed him. He was nodding over 
a table, half ? sleep, on which a sickly liirht was flick- 

t/ O 

crir.g, and on which also was a pen and sheet of pa 
per. As I entered he aroused, beckoned me to a seat 
beside him, and pointed to the paper. I directed the 
Icttor to Henry 13. Xortlnrp, of Sandy Hill stating 
that I. had been kidnapped, was then on board the 
brig Orleans, bound f>r X ew-Orlcans ; that it was 
then impossible ibr me to conjecture my ultimate des 
tination, and requesting he would take measures to 
rescue me. The letter was sealed and directed, and 
Claiming, having read it, promised to deposit it in the 
Ts evr-Qj leans post- r-.filce. I hastened back to my place 



74 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

under the long-boat, and in tlie morning, as the slave* 
came tip and were walking round, crept out unno 
ticed and mingled with them. 

My good friend, whose name was John Manning, 
was an Englishman by birth, and a noble-hearted, 
generous sailor as ever walked a deck, lie had lived 
in Boston was a tall, well-built; man, about twenty- 
four years old, with a face somewhat pock-marked, 
but full of benevolent expression. 

ISTothing to vary the monotony of our daily life oc 
curred, until we reached Xew-Orleans. Oncoming 
to the levee, and before the vessel was made fast, I 
saw Manning leap on shore and hurry away into the 
city. As he started off he locked back over hi^ shoul 
der significantly, giving me to understand tho object 
of his errand. Presently he returned, and pacing 
close by me, hunched me with his elbow, with a pe 
culiar wink, as much as to say, "it is all right. 7 

The letter, as I have since learned, reached Sandy 
Hill. Mr. Korthup visited Albany and laid it before 
Governor Seward, but inasmuch as it gave no tLlinitc 
information as to my probable locality, it wa not, at 
that time, deemed advisable to institute measures for 
my liberation. It was concluded to delay, trusting 
that a knowledge of where I was might event ardlv be 
obtained, 

A happy and touching scene was witnessed imme 
diately upon our reaching the levee, Junt as Man 
ning left the brig, on his way to the po.-.t-ofliee, two 
men came up and called aloud for Arthur, The b; 



E:-:SCCE. 75 



lor, as lie recognized them, was almost crazy with do- 
light, lie could hardly be restrained from leaping 
over the brig s side; and when they met soon after, 
he gra-ped them by the hand, and clung to them a 
long, long time. They were men from Xorfolk, who 
had crane on to IXew-Orleans to rescue him. His 
kidnappers, they informed him, had been arrested, 
and were then confined in the Xorlblk prison. They 
converged a lew moments wirh the captain, and then 
departed with the rejoicing Arthur. 

But in all the crowd that thronged the wharf; there 
was no one who knew or cared for me. Xot one. 
Xj ihmhLr volco greeted my ears, nor was there a 
shigle fa:e that 1 had ever seen. Soon Arthur would 
rejoin his ha, id a and have the satisfaction of seeing 
his wremr- avenged : my family, alas, should I ever 

e them more ? There wa> a feeling of utter deso 
lation in my heart, filling it with a despairing and re- 
, that I had not irone down with Robert 



\"ery : :-.o:i traders and consignees came on board. 

One, a tall, thin-faced man, with light complexion 

ra 1 a lit; nt, ma he his appearance, with a paper 

in his hand. Larch s gang, consisting of myself; Eli- 

;-a and her children, Harry, Lethe, and some others, 

wh-j had joined a- at Pachraond, were consigned to 

j an. Thl? gentleman was hVIr. Tlieopliilus Freeman. 

:dmg from his paper, he called, u Platt. 7 Xo one 

i. , , > , :d. The name was called again and again, but 

ply. Then Lctho was called, then 



70 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

Eliza, then Harry, until the list was finished, each 
one stopping forward as his or her name was called. 

"Captain, there s Platt?" demanded Theophilus 
Freeman. 

The captain was unable to inform him, no one be 
ing on board answering to that name. 

"Who shipped that niiTGrer?" he a <:> :iin inouired of 

_L J. i_ v_j O -i- 

the captain, pointing to me. 

" Bnrch," replied the captain. 

" Yonr name is Plait -you answer my description. 
Why don t yon conic forward ?" he demanded of me, 
in an angry tone. 

I informed him that was not my name ; that I had 
never been called by if, but that I had no objection 
to it as I knew of. 

".TTell, I will learn yon your name," said he ; " and 
so you won t forget it either, by - ," he added. 

Mr. Theophilus Freeman, by the way, was not a 
whit behind his partner, Bnrch, in the matter of blas 
phemy. On the vessel I had gone by the name of 
"Steward," and this was the first time I had ever 
been designated as Platt the name forwarded by 
Bnrch to his consignee. From the vessel I observ 
ed the chain-gang at work on the levee. T^e passed. 
near them as we were driven to Freeman s slave pen. 
This pen is very similar to Goodin s in "Richmond, ex 
cept the yard was enclosed by plank, standing n~o- 
right, with ends sharpened, instead of brick walls. 

Including ns, there were now nt least fifty in this 
pen. ^Depositing our blankets in one of the sina 1 ] 



FIHST XIGIJT IX XEW-OELEAX3. 77 

buildings in. the yard, mid Laving been called up and 
(Vd, we wore allowed to saunter about the enclosuro" 
inn il nii; 1 ] if, when wo wrapped our blankets round us 
a 1 id I down under [lie shed, or in the loft, or intlio 
< ;. :! y;-.:-d. just as each one preferred. 

r- wa but a short time I closed my eyes that night. 
Thought was busy in my brain. Could it be possible 
thut i was thousands of miles from home that I had 
been driven through the streets like a dumb beast 
that I had boon chained and beaten without mercy -=- 
as even then lierded with a drove of slaves, a 
self? "Wore the events of the last few weeks 
realities indeed ? or was I passing only through the 
dismal phases of a long, protracted dream? It was 
no illusion. Tly cup of sorrow was full to overflow- 
i;]g. Then I lifted up my hands to God, and in tlio 
still watches of the night, surrounded by the sleeping 
i ji iiis of my companions, begged for mercy on the 
poor, forsaken captive. To the Almighty Father of 
us all tlio freeman and the slave I poured forth 
the supplications of a broken spirit, imploring strength 
from on high to bear up against the burden of my 
troubles, until the morning light aroused the slumber- 
ers, ushering in another day of bondage. 



CHAPTER VI. 



INDUSTRY CLEANLINESS AND CLOTIII-S EXETJCI.TINO ix TM-: 

SHOW ROOM -THE DAXCi; - BOB, i HE TIDDLKU - AUIUVAL OE CTSTO.M> 
ri:S - SLAVICS EXAMINED THE OLD GENTLEMAN O < NEY. -OIILEANS -- 

SALT: OF DAVID. CAHOLIXE AND LET:;;: PARTING OF EAXDALL AND 

KLIZA - = MALL TOX - THE IIO.-1 ITAL - KECOVLIIV AXD FvilTURX TO 
FKCEMAX S SLAVE TEX - Tin: rair.TIASER Or ELIZA, l .\\\RY AXD TLATT 

ELIZA S AGOXY ox rAirnxa n;o:,i LITTLE E:,:;LY. 

TIIE very amin,Lle, pious-lieartccl I-,Ir. Tlicopliilv.s 
Freeman, partner or consignee of Janice II. JJiireh, 
and keeper of tlie slave pen in Xcvr-Orleans. Ava r ; on I; 
amoniv liis animals early in tiie morning. "\Vitli nn 
occasional kick of tlie olJcr men aiivl vromc]i, aiu! 
many a siiarp crack of tlie vrliip abont tlio ears of tlio 
younger slaves, it vras not long before they were all 
astir, and wide awake. Mr. Theophilns Freeman 
Ir.Tstletl about in a very industrious manner, get "inn; 
I\ig property ready for the sales-room, intending, no 
d nibt, to do that day a rousing business. 

In the first place we were required to wash thorough 
ly, and those with beards, to sliave. Yv"e were then 
furnished with a new snit each, cheap, but clean. 
The men had hat, coat, shirt, pants r.nd shoos ; tlio 
women frocks of calico, and handkerchief to bind 
about their heads. T\ r e wei e now conducted into a 
large room in the front part of the building to which 



FREEMAN S INDUSTRY. 79 

the yard was attached, in order to be properly trained, 
before the admission of customers. The men were 
arranged on one side of the room, the women on the 
other. The tallest was placed at the head of the row, 
then the next tallest, and so on in the order of their 
respective heights. Emily was at the foot of the 
line of women. Freeman charged us to remem 
ber our places ; exhorted us to appear smart and live 
ly. sometimes threatening, and again, holding out 
various inducements. During the day he exercised 
us in the art of " looking smart," and of moving to 
our places with exact precision. 

Alter being feel, in the afternoon, we were again 
paraded r. 1 made to dance. Bob, a colored boy, 
who had : me time belonged to Freeman, played on 
the vio ii;. Standing near him, I made bold to in 
quire if 1; could play the " Virginia Reel." He an 
swered lie could not, and asked me if I could play. 
lieplvin^ in the affirmative, he handed me the violin. 

J- V O 

I struck up a tune^ancl finished it. Freeman ordered 
r.ie to continue playing, and seemed well pleased, 
telling Bob that. I far excelled him a remark that 
seemed to grieve my musical companion very much. 
Xext day many customers called to examine Free 
man s " new lot." The latter gentleman was very 
loquacious, dwelling at much length upon our several 
good points and qualities. He would make us hold 
up our heads, walk briskly back and forth, while cus 
tomers would feel of our hands and arms and bodies, 
turn us about, ask us what we could do, make us open 



80 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

our mouths and show our teeth, precisely as a jockey 
examines a horse which he is about to barter i <>r 01* 
purchase. Sometimes a man or woman was taken 
back to the small house in the yard, stripped, and in 
spected more minutely. Scars upon a slave s back 
were considered evidence of a rebellious or unruly 
spirit, and hurt his sale. 

One old gentleman, who said lie wanted a coach 
man, appeared to take a fancy to me. Prom his con 
versation witii Freeman, 1 learned ho was a resident in 
the city. I very much desired that lie would buy me, 
because I conceived it would not bo diiiicult to make 
my escape from Xe Ay- Orleans on some northern vessel. 
Freeman asked him fifteen hundred dollars for- me, 
The old gentleman insisted it was too much, as times 
were very hard. Freeman, however, declared that I 
was sound and healthy, of a good constitution, and 
intelligent. He made it a point to enlargo upon my 
musical attainments. The old gentleman argued 
quite adroitly that there was nothing extraordinary 
about the nigger, and finally, to my regret, went out, 
saying he would call again. During the day, how 
ever, a number of sales wore made. David and Car 
oline were purchased together by a Xatchez planter. 
They left us, grinning broadly, and in the most happy 
state of mind, caused by the fact of their not being sep 
arated. Lethe was sold to a planter of Baton Rouge, 
her eyes flashing with anger as she was led away. 

The same man also purchased Randall. The little 
fellow was made to jump, and run across the floor, 



PAI1TIXG OF KAXDALL AXD ELIZA. 

form many other feats, exhibiting his activity 
"rion. All the time the trade was going on, 
Eliza was crying aloud, and wriiudu^ her hands. She 

^ O . ) O 

Lcsxu.ht the man not to buy him, unless he also 
Lough: herself and Emily. She promised, in that case, 
to he the most faithful slave that ever lived. The 
man answered that lie could not afford it, and then 
Eliza, burst into a paroxysm of grief, weeping plain 
tively. Ereeman turned round to her, savagely, with 
his whip in his uplifted hand, ordering her to stop her 
noise, or he would fu>r; her. lie would not have snch 
work such snivelling; and unless she ceased that 
minute, he would take her to the yard and give her a 
hundred lashes. Yes, lie would take the nonsense out 
oi her pretty oulck if lie didn t, might he be d d. 
Eliza shrunk before him, and tried to wipe away her 
tears, but it was all in vain. She wanted to he with 
her children, she said, the little time she had to live. 
All the frowns and threats of Freeman, could not 
wholly silence the afnicted mother. She kept on beg- 
gin; and beseeching them, most piteously, not to sep 
arate the three. Over and over again she told them 
how she loved her boy. A great many times she 
rei -oiitetl her former promises how very faithful and 
obedient she would be; how hard she would labor 
day and night, to the last moment of her life, if he 
would only buy them all together. But it was of no 
avail ; the man could not afford it. The bargain was 
agreed upon, and Eaudall must go alone. Then Eli 
za ran to him ; embraced him passionately ; kissed 

.])* 6 



82 TWELVE YEAI13 A SLAVE. 

him again and again; told him to remember her 
all the while her tears falling in the boy s face like rain. 
Freeman damned her, calling her a blubbering, 
bawling wench, and ordered her to go to her place, 
and behave herself, and be somebody. He swore lie 
wouldn t stand such smft but a littlo longer, lio 
would soon give her something to cry about, if she 
was not miirhtv careful, and that she niii- lit depend 

O / / -L 

upon. 

The planter from Baton Rouge, with his new pur 
chases, was ready to depart. 

4i Don t cry, mania. I will be a good boy. Don t 
cry," said Randall, looking back, as they parsed out 
of the door. 

"\7hat has become of the lad, God knows. It was 
a mournful scene indeed. I would have cried iny. ieU 
if I had dared. 

That night, nearly all who came in on the brig Or 
leans, were taken ill. They complained of violent 
pain in the head and back. Little Emily a thing 
unusual with her cried constantly. In the morn 
ing a physician was called in, but was unable to de 
termine the nature of our complaint. Yfhile examin 
ing me, and asking questions touching my symptom*, 
I gave it as my opinion that it was an attack of small 
pox mentioning the fact of Robert s death as llio 
reason of my belief. It might be so indeed, he thona-ht, 
and he would send for the head physician of the hos 
pital. Shortly, the head physician came a small, 
light-haired man, whom they called Dr. Can*, lie 



SMALL-POX. 83 

pronounced it small-pox, whereupon tlicre was much 

alarm tlirongliout tlio yard. Soon after Dr. Carr left, 
Eliza, Emmy, Harry and myself were put into a hack 
and driven to tlio hospital a lar.^e white marble 

_i_ O 

building, standing on tlio outskirts of the city. Har 
ry and 1 were placed in a room in one of the upper 
stories. I became very sick. For three days I was 
entirely blind. "While lying in this state one day, 
Bob came in, saying to Dr. Carr that Freeman had 
sent him over to inquire how we were getting on. 
Toll him, said the doctor, that Platt is very bad, but 
that if he survives until nine o clock, he may recover. 
1 expected to die. Though there was little in tho 
prospect before me worth living for, the near approach 
of death appalled me. I thought I could have been 
esigned to yield up my life in the bosom of my family, 
but to expire in the midst of strangers, under such 

JL o / 

circumstances, was a bitter reflection. 

There wore a great number in the hospital, of both 
sexes, and of all ages. In the rear of the building 
Collins were manufactured. When one died, the bell 
tolled a signal to the undertaker to come and bear 
away the body to the potter s field., llany times, each 
day and night, the tolling bell sent forth its melan 
choly voice, announcing another dealh. But my time 
1 1 ad not yet come. The crisis having passed, I began to 
revive/and at the end of two weeks and two days, 
returned with Harry to the pen, bearing upon my 
face the effects of the malady, which to this day con 
tinues to disfigure it. Eliza and Emily were also 



84: TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, 

brought back next day in a hack, and again were we 
paraded in the sales-room, for the inspection and ex 
amination of purchasers. I still indulged the hope 
that the old gentleman in search of a coachman would 
call again, as lie had promised, and purchase me. In 
that event I felt an abiding coniidence that 1 would 
soon regain my liberty. Customer after customer 
entered, but the old gentleman never 111:1 do Ins ap 
pearance. 

At length, one day, while we wore in the yard, 
Freeman came out and ordered us to our places, in 
the great room. A gentleman was waiting for us MS 
we entered, and inasmuch as lie will bo often men 
tioned in the progress of this narrative, a description 
of his personal appearance, and my estimation of his 
character, at iirst sight, may not be out of place. 

He was a man above tlie ordinary height, some 
what bent and stooping forward. He was a good- 
looking man, and appeared to Lave readied about iho 
middle age of life. There was nothing repulsive in 
his presence ; but on the other. hand, there was some 
thing cheerful and attractive in bis face, and in his 
tone of voice. The finer elements were all kindly 
mingled in his breast, as any one could see. ] I e 
moved about among us, asking many questions, as to 
what we could do, and what labor we had been ac 
customed to ; if we thought we would like *to live 
with him, and would be good boys if he would buy 
us, and other interrogatories of like character. 

After some further inspection, and conversation 



ELIZA S PAKTIXO- FROM E^IILY. 85 

touching price?, lie finally offered Freeman one thou 
sand dollars f>r me, nine hundred for Harry, and sev 
en linn fired for Eliza. "Whether the sinall-pox had 

depreciated our value, or from what cause Freeman 
had concluded to fall five hundred dollars from the 
price I was "before held at, I cannot say. At any rate, 
a Tier a little shrewd reflection, he announced his ac 
ceptance of the oiler. 

As soon as Eliza heard it, she was in an agony 
again. By this time she had become haggard and 
hollow-eyed with sickness and with sorrow. It would 
be a relief if I could consistently pass over in silence 
the scene that now ensued. It recalls memories more 
mournful and affecting than any language can por 
tray. I have seen mothers kissing for the last time 
ike faces of their dead offspring ; I have seen them 
locking down into the grave, as the earth fell with a 
dull S uind upon their cohins, hiding them from their 
eyes forever; but never have I seen such an exhibi- 
tion of intense, unmeasured, and unbounded grief, as 
when. Eliza was paired from her child. She broke 
from her i dace in the li:ic of women- and rushing down 

-L ? O 

where Emily was standing., caught her in her arms. 
The child, sensible of some impending danger, instinct 
ively fastened her hands around her mother s neck, 
and nestled her little head upon her bosom. Free 
man sternly ordered her to be cjuiet, but she did not 
heed him. lie caught her by the arm and pulled her 
rudely, but she only clung the closer to the child. 
Then, with a volley of groat oaths, he struck her such 



86 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

a heartless blow, tliat slio staggered backward, and 
was like to fall. Oli ! how piteously then did she be 
seech and beg and pray that they might not be sepa 
rated. Why could they not be purchased together ? 
Why not let her have one of her dear children ? 
" Mercy, mercy, master i " she cried, falling 011 her 
knees. i: Please, master, bny Emily. I can never 
work any if she is taken from me : I will die." 

Freeman interfered again, but, disregarding him, 
she still plead most earnestly, telling how Randall had 
been taken from her how she never would see him 
again, and now it was too bad oh, God ! it was too 
bad, too cruel, to take her away from Emily her 
pride her only darling, that could not live, it was 
so young, without its mother ! 

Finally, after much more of supplication, the pur 
chaser of Eliza stepped forward, evidently afieetcd, 
and said to Freeman he would buy Emily, and asked 
him what her price was. 

" Yv r hat is her price? J3v.y her?" was the respon 
sive interrogatory of Theophilus Freeman. And in 
stantly answering his own inquiry, he added, " I won t 
sell her. She s not for sale. 

The man remarked iie was not in need of one so 
young that it would, be of no profit to him, but 
since the mother was so fond of her, rather than see 
them separated, ho would pay a reasonable price. 
But to this humane proposal Freeman was entirely 
deaf. lie would not sell her then on any account 
whatever. There were heaps and piles of money to 



rilEELlAST liKFUSES TO SELL EMILY. 87 

e made of her, lie said, when slie was a few years 

older. There were incn enough in IS ew-Orleans who 

vrould ^ Ivo live thousand dollars for such an extra, 

md.-omc-, iancy piece as Emily would be, rather than 

;2t her. l>"o, 110, ho would not sell her then. 

3 was a "beauty a picture >a doll one of the 

nlar bloods none of your thick-lipped, bullet- 

ided, cotton-picking niggers if she was might he 

7 , _ s ,-j ,-} 

Trlicn Eii::a Iieard Freeman s determination not to 
pnrt vritli Emily, she Lccanie absolutely frantic. 

"I will not go without her. They shall not take 
]ur from me," she fairly slu ieked, her shrieks com- 
gling vrltli the loud arid angry voice of Freeman, 
cor-:niandhig her to be silent. 

"eaiiiime Harry and myself had been to the yard 

a. id returned with our blankets, and were at the front 

el-)or ready to leave. Our purchaser stood near us, 

.zing at Eliza with an expression indicative of re- 

% bought her at the expense of so much 

i. : O O -L 

s.r/row. T7e waited some time, when, finally, Free- 
jii:i:i, out of patience, tore Emily from her mother by 
ma hi force, the tAVO clinging to each other with all 
their might. 

Ci Don t leave me, mama don t leave me," scream 
ed the child, as its mother was pushed harshly for 
ward ; u Don t leave me come back, mama," she still 
cried., stretching forth her little arms imploringly. 
JJai she cried in vain. Out of the door and into the 
street we were cpiickly hurried. Still we could hear 



88 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

her calling to her mother, " Comeback don t leave 
me comeback, mama," until her infant voice grow 
faint and still more faint, and gradually died away, 
as distance intervened., and finally was" 

Eliza never after saw or heard of Emily or I?ai:dall. 
Day nor night, however, were they ever absent from 
her memory. In the cotton field, in the cabin, al 
ways and everywhere, she was talking of them often 
to them, as if thov were actuallv present. Only 

*J 1J -L. / 

when absorbed in that illusion, or asleep did she ever 
have a moment s comfort afterwards. 

She was no common slave, as lias been said. To a 
lar^c share of natural intelligence which she possess- 

O O i. 

ed, was added a general knowledge and information. 
on most subjects. She had enjoyed opportunities snch 
as are afforded to very lew of her oppressed class. 
She had been lifted np into the regions of a higher 
life. Freedom freedom for herself and for her oil- 
spring, for many years had been her cloud by day, 
her pillar of lire by night. In her pilgrimage through 
the wilderness of bondage, with eyes fixed upon that 
hope-inspiring beacon, she had at length ascended to 
" the top of Pisgah," and beheld " the land of prom 
ise." In an unexpected moment she was utterly over 
whelmed with disappointment and despair. The glo 
rious vision of liberty faded from her sight as they led 
her away into captivity. 2sTow " she wcepeth sore in 
the night, and tears are on her cheeks : all her friends 
have dealt treacherously with her : they have become 
her enemies." 




SEPARATION OF ELIZA AND HER I. AST CHILD. 



CHAPTER VII, 

TTTE STEAMIIOAT RODOLPTI DEPARTURE FROM N I ;-.\ -O ?,:.!: AN.S YnLLTAM 

KO;I;> ARRIVAL AT ALEXANDRIA, ON RI;I> Rivr.r, RESOLUTIONS T;:U 
GR T :AT i>i\>-: V/MODS ^.V;LD CATTLI-: MARTIN S ^MM^R RESIDENCE 

TIIK TLXA.i I .OA!) ARRIVAL AT MASTF.R FORI/S RO",l-; M!STi;i:S3 

FORD SALLY, AND Iir.H. CHILDREN JOHN, THi; Ci JK Vv ALTI":, SAM, 

AND AXTviXY T.iV XILLS ON INDIAN CT.CKK SARI ATII DAY.? 

SAM S CONVERSrON THE I U-^i-TT OI-" KINI;N:>:S RAFTING ADAM TAY- 

DI:M, T:;H LITTLE AVSIITE MAN CASCALLA AND ins TRII;E THE INDIAN 

KALL JOHN M. TliJ^ATo THE STORM APi UuACHING. 

C)x Icnvina; tlio Xow-Orleans slave pen, Harry and 
I iV>ilo-A*c-il our nc\v master tlirougli tlio street-:-, \vLile 
Eliza, crying ami turning Lael:, ^vas forced aloiig uy 
Preoman and his minion?, until we found ourselves on 
lK>ard the steamboat H<:>lolpli, then lying at the levee. 
In the course of half an hoiir AVO were moving briskly 
up the Mis- -.:ippi, bound for some point on lied Hiv- 
er. There vrere quite a number of slaves on board 
beside ourselves, just purchased in the Xew-Orleans 
market. I remember a jlr. Ivelso\v, who was said to 
be a. well known and extensive planter, had in charge 
a gang of women. 

Our master s name was William Ford. He resided 
then in the " Great Pine "Woods," in the parish of 
Avoyelles, situated on the right bank of Reel River, 



TWi-::A i-: VKAIIS A SLA.YK., 

In the heart of Louisiana. II o is now n Bnpti:-.t 
preacher. Tlirongliout the whole parish of Avoyelles, 
and especially along both shores of .Bayou Burii! , 
where lie is more intimately known, lie is accounted 
;v liis fellow-citizens as a worthy minister of God. 
In many northern minds, perhaps, the idea of a mnn 
holding liis brother man in servitude, and the traffic 
:.n human flesh, may sccni altogether incompatible 
with their conceptions of a moral or religions life. 
From descriptions of such men as lJureh and Freeman, 
a -id others hereinafter mentioned, they are led to de- 
.spise and execrate the whole class of slaveholders, in- 
discriminately. But I was sometime his slave, and 
had an opportunity of learning well his character and 
disposition, and it is hur simple justice to him when I 
say, in my opinion, there never Avas a mere hind, no 
ble, candid, Christian man than William Ford. The 
influences and associations that had always surround 
ed him, blinded him to the inherent wrong at the bot 
tom of the system of Shivery. lie never doubted tin; 
moral right of one man holding another in subjection. 
Looking through the same medium with his fathers 
before him, he saw things in the same light. Brought 
up under other circumstances and other influences, 
his notions would undoubtedly have been, difiurc-iit. 
Nevertheless, he was a model master, walking up 
rightly, according to the light of his understanding, 
and fortunate was the slave who came to his posses 
sion. Were all men such as he, Slav- y would be de 
prived of more than half its bitterness. 



01 



nights < :! board the 
!-h ! :, during which time nothing of 
TJ t occn -., i. I was now known as 
e given mo by Bnrch, and by which I 
1 through the whole period of my ser- 
, was ^old by flic nrjno of " Dradey." 
ii-riiviriii.ilied in the conveyance to Ford, 

i: i\\* c-n record in tlie recorder s omce in Xevr-Or- 

j , , - i - ^ 

( -n on:* ] a : - -a .^ I was constantly rejecting on my sit- 

ii. r itio:i, r-.n 1 consulting wiln myself on tl:e best conrso 

to iViii ^UG in order to efl^et my ultimate escape. 

I ^M-jtir-i^--, not only t!i?n, but afterwards, I was al- 

e pDint of disclosing fully to Ford tlie facia 

iy. I a-n inclined now to tlie opinion it 

r.ve resiilted in my benefit. This course was 

lerc-d. br.t tlirongli tear of its miscarriage, 

ijovoi 1 pnt into execution, until eventually my transfer 

Ccriiiiary embarrassments rendered it evi- 

if-j. Afterwards, under other masters, nn- 

iar-i Ford, I knew well enough the slightest 

of niy real character wonld consign me at 

onoe ::> the remoter depths of Slavery. I was too 

-*ly a cl:a ;el to be lost, and was well aware that I 

-::>-: 1 he taken farther on, into some by-place, over 

ihf --an border, perhaps, and sold ; that I would be 

d of as the thief disposes of his stolen horse, if 

.ht to freedom was even whispered. Sol re- 

solved to lock the secret closely in my heart never 

to utter one word or syllable as to who or what I was 



92 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

trusting in Providence and my own shrewdness fur 
deliverance. 

At length we left the steamboat Rodolph at a placo 
called Alexandria, several hundred miles from Xew- 
Orleans. It is a small town on the southern shore 
of Red River. Having remained there over night, 
we entered the morning train of cars, and were soon 
at Bayou Lamourie, a still smaller place, distant 
eighteen miles from Alexandria. At that time it was 

o 

the termination of the railroad. Ford s plantation 
was situated on the Texas road, twelve m:lc3 from 
Lamourie, in the Great Pine "Woods. This distance, it 
was announced to us, must "be traveled on foot, there 
being public conveyances no farther. Accordingly 
we all set out in the company of Forth It way an ex 
cessively hot day. Harry, Eliza, and myself were yet 
weak, and the bottoms of our feet were very tender 
from the effects of the small-pox. "We proceeded 
slowly, Ford telling us to take our time and sit down 
and rest whenever we desired a privilege that was 
taken advantage of quite frequently. After leaving 
Lamourie and crossing two plantations, one belong 
ing to Mr. Carnell, the other to a Mr. Flint, we readi 
ed the Pine Woods, a wilderness that stretches to the 
Sabine River. 

The whole country about Red River is low and 
marshy. The Pine "Woods, as they are called, is com 
paratively upland, with frequent small intervals, how 
ever, running through them. This upland is covered 
with numerous trees the white oak, the chincopin, 



AEEIVAL AT ALEXAXDEIA. 03 

resembling chestnut, l)iit principally the yellow pine. 
They arc of great size, running np sixty foot, and per 
fectly straight. The woods were full of cattle, very 
shy and wild, dashing away in herds, with a. loud 
snr.il , at our approach. Some of them were marked 
or "branded, the rest appeared to he in their wild and 
untamed slate. They are much smaller than northern 
breeds, and the peculiarity about them that most at- 
<racicd my attention was their liorni. They stand 
out from the sides of the head precisely straight, like 
two iron spikes. 

At noon vre readied a cleared piece of ground con 
taining three or four acres. Upon it was a small, nn- 
paiute,!, woo:len house, a corn crib, or, as we would 
say. n barn, and a log kitchen, standing about a rod 
iVoin ike house. It was the summer residence of Mr. 
Martin. PJch planters, having large establishments 
on Bayou BOJUL, are accustomed to spend the warmer 
season in these woods. Here they .find clear water 
and djiightful shades. In iact, these retreats arc to 
the planters of that section of the country what Xew- 
p >rl and Saratoga are to the wealthier inhabitants of 
northern cities. 

Yfe were sent around into the kitchen, and supplied 
with sweet potatoes, corn-bread, and bacon, while 
Master "Furd dined with Martin in the house. There 

-re several slaves about the premises. Martin came 
oui" :r:d Mo!: a look at ns, askiug Ford the price of 

A.X ;: \vs \vere green hands, and so f<.)rth, and iiiak nig 
ir: ) ! <:ri :. ^ i-:la ; icii .o the sla\ r e mniket rrererallv 



01- TWELVE YEAUS A SLAVE. 

After a long rest we set forl.li again., following rh 3 
Texas road, which had the appearance oi being very 
rarely traveled. For live miles we passed through 
continuons woods without observing a single liabiia- 
tion. At length, just as the sun was sinking in the 
west, vrc entered another opening, containing some 
twelve or fifteen acres. 

In tins opening stood a house miichlarg?r than Air. 
Martin s. It was two stories high, Vv Itli a piazza in 
front. In the rear of it was also a log- hitchen, poul- 
try house, corncrihs, and several negro cabins. JS"c-iu 
the house was a peach orchard, and gardens f;i orange 
and pomegranate trees. The -space was entirely sur 
rounded l>y woods, and covered with a carpet of rich, 
rank verdure. It was a quiet, lonely, pleasant place 
literally a green spot in Hie wilderness. It was the 
residence of my mascer, \Yilliain Ford. 

As we approached, a yellow g rl -her name w.i- 
Eose was standing on the piazza. Going to the 
door, she called her mistress, who presently came run 
ning out to meet her lord. She hissed him, and 
laughingly demanded if he had Long-lit "those nig 
gers." Ford said lie had, and told us to go round to 
Sally s caLin and rest ourselves. Turning the corner 
of the house, we discovered Gaily washing- her two 
Laby children near her, rolling on the .< . ;. Yhev 
jumped up and toddled towards i:s, 
Tiioment lil:e a Lrace of ra] -L; : , then i. 
mother as if afraid of ns. 

^ ally conducted iu- in to the caLIn, told us to Is - ,i., 



AE1UVAL, AT LIA3TE.K FOKD 3. V<J 

our bundles and be seated, for she was sure that we \\ ere 
tired. Just then John, the cook, a boy some sixteen 
years of age, and blacker than any crow, came run 
ning in, looked steadily in our faces, then turning 
round, without saying as much as "how d ye do," 
ran back to the kitchen, lauo hinsj loudlv, as if our 

O O *J 

coming was a <n*cat ioke indeed. 

O & tj 

JMnch wearied witli our walk, as soon as it was 
dark, .Many and I wrapped our blankets round us, 
and laid down npon the cabin floor, Sly thoughts, 
as usual, wandered back to my wife and children. 
The consciousness of my real situation; the hopeless 
ness of any effort to escape through the wide forests 
of Avoyelles, pressed heavily upon me, yet my heart 
was at home in Saratoga. 

I was awakened early in the. morning by {lie voice 
of AT .isiur Ford, calling Hose. She hastened into the 
house to dress the children, Sally to the Held to milk 
the cows, while John was busy in the kitchen prepar 
ing breakfast. In the meantime Harry and I were 
strobing about the yard, looking at our new quarters. 
Just alter breakfast a colored man, driving three yoke 
of oxen, attached to a wagon load of lumber, drove 
into the opening. lie was a slave of Ford s, named 
Walton, the husband of Ilese. By the way, Kose was 
a native of TTasliington, and had been brought from 
thence live years before. She had. never seen Eliza, 
but she had heard of Berry, and they knew the same 
fctre- 1 --, and tire same people, either personally, or by 
rvp;riailon, Thev became fast iritndo immediately, 



90 TWELVE YEAK3 A SLAVE. 

and talked a great deal together of old time?, and of 
friends they had left behind. 

Ford was at that time a wealthy man. Besides his 
scat in the Pine Tv r oocls, he owned a large lumbering 
establishment on Indian Creek, four miles distant, and 
also, in his wife s right, an extensive plantation and 
many slaves on Bayou Bcenf. 

Walton had come with his load of lumber from the 
mills on Indian Creek. Ford directed us to return 
with him, saying he would follow us as soon as possible. 
Before leaving, ^.listress Ford called me into the store 
room, and handed me, as it is there termed, a tin 
bucket of molasses lor Harry and myself. 

Fliza was still ringing her hands and deploring the 
!<>>s of her children. Ford tried as much as possible 
to console her told her she need not work very hard ; 
that she might remain with Rose,, and assist the mr. cl 
am in the house afiairs. 

Hiding with Walton in the wagon, Harry and I be 
came quite well acquainted with him long before 
reaching Indian Creek. lie was a cc born thrall " of 
Ford s, and spoke kindly and affectionately of him, as 
a child would speak of his own father. In answer to 
his inquiries from whence I came. I told him from 
Washington. Of that city, he had heard much from 
his wile, Rose, and all the way plied me with many 
extravagant and absurd questions. 

On reaching the mills at Indian Creek, we found 
Iwo more of Ford 1 :; skives, Sam and Antony. Sam, 
al:;^, yra~ a Washingtonian, having been brought oui 



SA.I3UATII DAYS. " 97 

la the -same gang with Rose. lie had worked on a 
farm near Georgetown. Antony was a blacksmith, 
from Kentucky, who had been in his present master s 
service about ten years. Sam knew Burch, and when 
informed that he was the trader who had sent me on 
from "Washington, it was remarkable how well we 
agreed upon the subject of his superlative rascality, 
lie had forwarded Sam, also. 

On "Ford s arrival at the mill, we were employed in 
piling lumber, and chopping logs, which occupation 
v-v continued during the remainder of the summer. 
>Ve usually spent our Sabbaths at the opening, on 
\vJiich days our master would gather all hi slaves 
about him, and read and expound the Scriptures. 
lie souirht to inculcate in our minds feelings of kind- 

o o 

ness towards each other, of dependence upon God 
set! ing forth the rewards promised unto those who 
lead an upright and prayerful life. Seated in the 
doorway of his house, surrounded by his man-ser 
vants and his maid-servants, \vho looked earnestly into 
the good man s ic-ice,, he spoke of the loving kindness 
of the Creator, and of the life that is to come. Often 
did the voice of prayer ascend from his lips to heaven, 
the only sound that broke the solitude of the place. 
In the course of the summer Sam became deeply 
convicted, his mind dwelling intensely on the subject 
of religion. His mistress gave him a Bible, which 
he carried with him to his work. Whatever leisure 
time was allowed him, he spent in perusing it, though 
it was only with great difficulty that he could master 



OS TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

any part of it. I often read to him, a favor which lie 
well repaid me by many expressions of gratitude. 
oam s piety was frequently observed by white men 
K-ho came to the mill, and the remark it most gener 
ally provoked was, that a man like Ford, who allowed 
his slaves to have Bibles, was " not fit to own a nigger." 

He, however, lost nothing by his kindness. It is 
a fact I have more than once observed, that -those who 
treated their slaves most leniently, were rewarded by 
the greatest amount of lab/or. I know it from my 
own experience. It was a source of pleasure to sur 
prise Master Ford with a greater day s work than was 
recruirecl, while, under subsequent masters, there was 
no prompter to extra effort but the overseer s lush 

It was the desire of Ford s approving voice tiiat 
suggested to me an idea that resulted to his profit, 
The lumber we were manufacturing was contracted 
to be delivered at Lainourie. It had hitherto been 
transported by land, and was an important item of 
expense. Indian Creek, upon which the mills were 
situated, was a narrow but deep stream empty ing into 
Bayou Bceuf. In some places it was not more than 
twelve feet wide, and much obstructed with trunks of 
trees. Bayou Boeuf was connected with Bayou La i no 11 
He. I ascertained the distance from the mills to tho 
point on the latter bayou, where our lumber was to be 
d jlivered, was but a few miles less by hind than by 
water. Provided the creek could be made navigable 
for rafts, it occurred to me that the expense of trans 
portation would be materially diminished. 



ADAM TAYPLjL O J 

A -.1 in n Tavd. ni, ii little white man, who had Leon a 
soldier in Florida, and had strolled into that distant 
region, was foreman and superintendent of tlic iniiis. 
Jjo scouted the idea; but Ford, when I laid it before 
Lim, received it ihvorahlv, and permitted 1110 to try 

tj i. J 

the experiment. 

Having removed the obstructions, I made np a nar 
row raft, consisting of twelve cribs. At this business 
I think I was ouite skillful, not having forgotten my 
experience years before on the Champlaiii canal. I 
labored hard, being extremely anxious to succeed, 
both from a desire to please my master, and to show 
Adam Tayilem that my scheme was not such a vis- 
i >n:iry one- as he incessantly pronounced it. One 
hand could manage three cribs. I took charge of the 
forward three, and commenced poling down the 
creek. In due time we entered the first bayou, and 
finally reached our destination in a shorter period 
of t : ine than I had anticipated. 

The arrival of the ivft at Lamonrie created a sen 
sation, while J,fr. Ford loaded me with commenda 
tions. On all sides I hoard Ford s Platt pronounced 
the " smartest nigpyr in the Pine Woods"- in fact 
I was the Fulton of Indian Creek. I was not insen 
sible to the praise bestowed upon me, and enjoyed, 
especially, my triumph over Taydem, whose half- 
malicious ridicule had stung my pride. From this 
time the entire control of bringing the lumber to 
Lamonrie was placed in my hands until the contract 
was fulfilled. 



100 TWELVE YEAES A SLAVE. 

Indian Creek, in its whole length, flows through a 
magnificent forest. There dwells on its shore a tribe 
of Indians, a remnant of the Chickasaws or Chick- 
opees, if I remember rightly. They live in. simple 
huts, ten or twelve feet square, constructed of pine 
poles and covered with bark. They subsist princi 
pally on the flesh of the deer, the coon, and opos 
sum, all of which are plenty in these woods. Some 
times they exchange venison for a little corn and 
whisky with the planters on the bayous. Their 
usual dress is buckskin breeches and calico hunting 
shirts of fantastic colors, buttoned from belt to chin. 
They wear brass rings on their wrists, and in their 
ears and noses. The dress of the squaws is very 
similar. They are fond of dogs and horses owning 
many of the latter, of a small, tough breed and 
are skillful riders. Their bridles, girths and saddles 
were made of raw skins of animals ; their stirrups 
of a certain kind of wood.--. Mounted astride their 
ponies, men and women, I have seen them dash out 
into the woods at the utmost of their speed, following 
narrow winding paths, and dodging trees, in a man 
ner that eclipsed the most miraculous feats of civil 
ized equestrianism. Circling away in various direc 
tions, the forest echoing and re-echoing with their 
whoops, they would presently return at the same 
dashing, headlong speed with which they started. 
Their village was on Indian Creek, known as Indian 
Castle, but their range extended to the Sabine River. 
Occasionally a tribe from Texas would come over on 



CASCALLA. AXD HIS TFIB", 



ici 



a visit, and then there was indeed a carnival in the 
" Great Pine "Woods." Chief of the tribe was Cas 
e-all a ; second in rank, John Balteso, his son-in-law ; 
with both of whom, as with many others of the tribe, 
I became acquainted during my frequent voyages 
down flie creek with rafts. Sam and myself would 
Gi icn visit them when the day s task was done. They 
were obedient to the chief; the word of Cascalla 
was their law. They were a rude but harmless peo 
ple, and enjoyed their wild mode of life. They had 
little fancy for the open country, the cleared lands 
on tli o chores of the bayous, but preferred to hide 
themselves within the shadows of the forest. They 
worshiped the Great Spirit, loved whisky, and were 



On one occasion I was present at a dance, when 
a roving herd from Texas had encamped in their 
village. The entire carcass of a deer was roasting 
before a lur^e fire, which threw its light a long dis- 

O O O 

lance among the trees under which they were assem 
bled. Yfhen they had formed in a ring, men and 
r- iuaws alternately, a sort of Indian fiddle set up an 
indescribable tune. It was a continuous, melancholy 
hind of wavy sound, with the slightest possible vari 
ation. At the fiist note, if indeed there was more 
than one note in the whole tune, they circled around, 
trotting after each other, and giving utterance to a 
guttural, sing-song noise, equally as nondescript as the 
music of the fiddle. At the end of the third circuit, 
they would stop suddenly, whoop as if their lungs 



10 2 TWELVE YEARS A SLATE. 

would crack, then break from the ring, funning in 
couples, man and squaw, each jumping backwards as 
far as possible from the other, then forwards -which 
graceful feat having been twice or thrice accomplish 
ed, they would form in a ring, and go trotting round 
again. The best dancer appeared to be considered 
the one who could whoop the loudest, jump the far 
thest, and utter the most excruciating noise. At in 
tervals, one or more would leave the dancing circle, 
and going to the fire, cut from the roasting carcass a 
slice of venison. 

In a hole, shaped like a mortar, cut in the trunk 
of a fallen tree, they pounded corn with a wooden 
pestle, and of the meal made cake. Alternately they 
danced and ate. Tims were the visitors from Texas 
entertained by the dusky sons and daughters of the 
Chicopees, and such is a description, as I saw it, of 
an Indian ball in the Pine "Woods of Avoyell.es. 

In the autumn, I left the mills, and was employed 
at the opening. One day the mistress was urging 
Ford to procure a loom, in order that Sally might 
commence weaving cloth for the winter garments of 
the slaves. He could not imagine where one was to 

o 

be found, when I suggested that the easiest way to 
get one would be to make it, informing him at tho 
same time, that I was a sort of "Jack at all trades," 
and would attempt it, with his permission. It was 
granted very readily, and I was allowed to go to a 
neighboring planter s to inspect one before commen 
cing the undertaking. At length it was finished 



JOHN M. TICEATS. 103 

and pronounced by Sally to be perfect. She could 
easily weave her task of fourteen yards, milk the 
cows, and have leisure time besides each day. It 
worked so well, I was continued in the employment 
oi mailing looms, which were taken down to the 

O 

plantation on the bayou. 

At this time one John M. Tibeats a carpenter, camo 
to the opening to do some work on master s house. 
I was directed to quit the looms and assist him. For 
two weeks I was in his company, planing and match 
ing boards for ceiling, a plastered room being a rare 
thing in the parish of Avoyelles. 

John M. Tibeats was the opposite of Ford in all 
respects. lie was a small, crabbed, quick-tempered, 
spiteful man. lie had no fixed, residence that I ever 
hoard of, but passed from one plantation to another, 
wherever he could find employment. lie was with 
out standing in the community, not esteemed by 
white men, nor even respected by slaves. lie was 
ignorant, withal, and of a revengeful disposition. He 
left the parish long before I did, and I know not 
whether he is at present alive or dead. Certain it is, 
it was a mo3t unlucky day for me that brought us 
together. During my residence with Master Ford I 
had seen only the briirht side of slavery. His. was 
no heavy hand crushing us to the earth. lie pointed 
upwards, and with benign and cheering words ad 
dressed us as his fellow-mortals, accountable, like 
himself, to the MaKer of us all. I think of him with 
affection, and had my family been with me, could 



104: TWELVE TEARS A SLAVE. 

have borne his gentle servitude, without murmuring, 
all my da vs. But clouds were Catherine: in the hori- 

t/ */ O o 

zon- -forerunners of a pitiless storm that was soon 
to break over me. I was doomed to endure such bit 
ter trials as the poor slave only knows, and to lead 
no more the comparatively happy life which I had 
led in the " Great Pine Woods." 



CHAPTER VIII. 

FORD S EMBARRASSMENTS THE SALE TO TIBEATS THE CHATTEL MORT 
GAGE MISTRESS FORD S PLANTATION ON BAYOU BCEUF DESCRIPTION 

OF THE LATTER FORI/S BROTHER-IN-LAW, PETER TANNER MEETING 

WITH KLTZA SHE STILL MOURNS FOR HER CHILDREN FORD S OVER 
SEER, CHAPIX TTBEAT S ABUSE THE KEG OF NAILS THE FIRST 
rrniiT WITH TI BEATS HIS DISCOMFITURE AND CASTIGATION THE AT- 

TEMl T TO HANG ME CTIAPIN s INTERFERENCE AND SPEECH UNIIAP- 

I V REFLECTIONS ABRUPT DEPARTURE OF TIB EATS, COOK AND RAMSAY 

LA \VSON AND THE BROWN MULE MESSAGE TO THE PINE WOODS. 

AViLLiAM FOKD unfortunately became embarrassed 
mliis pecuniary affairs. A heavy judgment was ren 
dered against him in consequence of his having be 
come security for his brother, Franklin Ford, residing 
on lied Kiver, above Alexandria, and wlio had failed 
to moot his liabilities. He was also indebted to John 
31. Tibents to a considerable amount in consideration 
yrvk cs in building the mills on Indian Creek, 
and also a weaving-house, corn-mill and other erec 
tion- on the plantation at Bayou Boeuf, not yet com 
pleted. It was therefore necessary., in order to meet 
these demands, to dL-po-o of eighteen slaves, myself 
among the number. Seventeen of them, including 
S;nu and Harry, were purchased by Peter Compton, 
a planter also residing on Red Hiver. 



106 TWELVE YEAK3 A SLAVE. 

I was sold to Tibeats, in consequence, undoubtedly, 
of ir j slight skill as a carpenter. This was in the 
winter of 1812. The deed of myself from Freeman 
to Ford, as I ascertained from the public records in 
New-Orleans on my return, was dated June 23d, 
1811. At the time of my sale to Tibeats, the price 
agreed to be given for me being more than the debt, 
Ford took a chattel mortgage of four hundred dollars. 
I am indebted for my life, as will hereafter be seen, 
to that mortgage. 

I bade farewell to my good friends at the opening, 
and departed with my new master Tibeats. Wo 
went down to the plantation on Bayou Beouf, distant 
twenty-seven miles from the Pine "Woods, to complete 
the unfinished contract. Bayou Boeuf is a sluggish, 
winding stream one of those stagnant bodies of 
water common in that region, setting back from lied 
River. It stretches from a point not far from Alex 
andria, in a south-easterly direction, and following its 
tortuous course, is more than ilfty miles in length. 
Large cotton and sugar plantations line each shore, 
extending back to the borders of interminable 
swamps. It is alive with aligators, rendering it un 
safe for swine, or unthinking slave children to stroll 

j Q 

along its banks. Upon a bend in this bayou, a short 
distance from Cheney ville, was situated the plantation 
of Madam Ford her brother, Peter Tanner, a great 
landholder, living on the opposite side. 

On. my arrival at Bayou "Docuf, I had the pleasure 
of meeting Eliza, whom I had not seen for several 



OVERSEER CHAPI^. 10 



months. She had not pleased Mrs. Ford, being more 
occupied in brooding over her sorrows than in attend 

ing to her business, and had, in consequence, been sent 
down t.j work in the field on the plantation. She h^c. 
grown feeble and emaciated, and was still mourning 
for her children. She asked mo if I had forgotten 
them, and a great many times inquired if I still re 
membered how handsome little Emily was how 
much Randall loved her and wondered if they were 
living still, and where the darlings could then be. 
She had sunk beneath the weight of an excessive grief. 
Her drooping form and hollow cheeks too plainly indi 
cated that she had well nigh reached the end of her 
weary road. 

Ford s overseer on this plantation, and who had the 
exclusive charge of it, was a ]\Ir. Chapin, a kindly-dis 
posed man, and a native of Pennsylvania. In com 
mon with others, he held Tib cats in light estimation, 
which fact, in connection with the four hundred dol 
lar mortgage, was fortunate for me. 

I was now compelled to labor very hard. Fron> 
earliest dawn until late at night, I was not allowed to 
be a moment idle. Notwithstanding which, Tibeats 
was never satisfied. lie was continually cursing and 
complaining. lie never spoke to me a kind word. I 
was his faith i ? ul slave, and earned him large wages 
every day, and yet I went to my cabin nightly, loaded 
with abuse and stinging epithets. 

AVe had completed the corn mill, the kitchen, and 
forth, and were at work upon the weaving-house, 



103 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

wlien I was guilty of an act, in that State punishable 
with death. It was my first fight with Tibeats. The 
weaving-house we were erecting stood in the orchard 

o o 

a few rods from the residence of Chapin, or the " great 
house," as it was called. One night, having worked 
until it was too dark to see, I was ordered by Tibeats 
to rise very early in the morning, procure a keg of 
nails from Chapin, and commence putting on the 
clapboards. I retired to the cabin extremely tired, 
and having cooked a supper of bacon and corn cake, 
and conversed a while with Eliza, who occupied the 
same cabin, as also did Lawson and his wife Mary, 
and a slave named Bristol, laid down upon the ground 
floor, little dreaming of the sufferings that awaited me 
on the morrow. Before daylight I was on the piazza 
of the " great house," awaiting the appearance of over 
seer Chapin. To have aroused him from his slumbers 
and stated my errand, would have been an unpardon 
able boldness. At length he came out. Taking off 
my hat, I informed him Master Tibeats had directed 
me to call upon him for a keg of nails. Going into 
the store-room, he rolled it out, at the same time say 
ing, if Tibeats preferred a different size, he would en 
deavor to furnish them, but that I might use thoso 
until further directed. Then mounting his horse, 
which stood saddled and bridled at the door, lie rode 
away into the field, whither the slaves had preceded 
him, while I took the keg on my shoulder, and pro 
ceeding to the weaving-house, broke in the head, and 
commerced nailing on tlio clapboards. 



FIRST FIGHT WITII TIBEAT3. 109 

As the day began to open, Tibeats came out of the 
house to where I was, hard at work. lie seemed to 
be that morning even more morose and disagreeable 
than usual, lie was iuy master, entitled by law to 
my ilL sh and blood, and to exercise over me such ty 
rannical control as his mean nature prompted ; but 
there was no law that could prevent my looking upon 
him with intense contempt. I despised both his dis 
position and his intellect. I had just come round to 
the keg for a further supply of nails, as he reached 
the weaving-house. 

I thought I told you to commence putting on 

O ^ JL O 

weather-boards this morning, he remarked. 

" Yes, master, and I am about it," I replied. 

TThere ( " he demanded. 

On the other side,* was iny answer. 

lie walked round to the other side, examined my 
work tor a while, muttering to himself in a fault-find 
ing tone. 

" Didn t I tell you last night to get a keg of nails 
of Chapin ? " he broke forth again. 

" Yes, master, and so I did ; and overseer said he 
would get another size ll>r you, if you wanted them, 
when he came back iVom the field." 

Ti beats walked to the keg, looked a moment at the 
contents, then kicked it violently. Coming towards 
me in a great passion, he exclaimed, 

" G d d 11 you ! I thought you knowecl some 
thing." 

I made answer : " I tried to do as voi; told me, 



110 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

master. I didn t mean anything wrong. Overseer 
said " l>iit lie interrupted me with snch a flood of 
curses that I was unable to finish the sentence. At 
length he ran towards the house, and going to the 
piazza, took down one of the overseer s whips. The 
whip had a short wooden slock, braided over with 
leather, and was loaded at the butt. The lash was 
three feet long, or thereabouts, and made of raw-hide 
strands. 

At first I was somewhat frightened, and my impulse 
was to run. There was no one about except Rachel, 
the cook, and Chapin s wife, and neither of them were 
to be seen. The rest were in the field. I knew he 
intended to whip me, and it was the first time any 
one had attempted it since my arrival at Avoyelles. 
I felt, moreover, that I had been faithful that I was 
guilty of no wrong whatever, and deserved commenda 
tion rather than punishment. ]\Iy fear changed to 
anger, and before he reached me I had made up my 
mind fully not to be whipped, let the result be life or 
death. 

Winding the lash around his hand, and taking hold 
of the small end of the stock, he walked up to me, 
and with a malignant look, ordered me to strip. 

"blaster Tibeats, said T, looking him boldly in the 
f ico, " I will no*" I was about to say something; 
further in justification, but wuh concentrated von 
oaiicc, he spran^ upon me, seizin ^ me bv the thro.it 

JL O .1. O t/ 

with one hand, raising the whip with the other, in the 
act of striking. Before the blow descended, however. 



TIBEATS DISCOMFITURE. Ill 

I had cTiight him by the collar of the coat, and drawn 
him clo=ely to me. Reaching down, I seized him by 
the ankle, and pushing him back with the other hand, 
he loll over on the ground. Putting one arm around 
his I- ;; , and holding It to my breast, so that his head 
shoulders only touched the ground, I placed my 
KM -i upon his neck. He was completely in my power. 
Aly blood was up. It seemed to course through my 
veins like lire. In the frenzy of my madness I snatched 
the whin from his hand. lie struggled with all his 
power; swore that I should not live to see another 
day ; and that he would tear out my heart. But his 
shvi Wlc3 and his threats were alike in vain. I cannot 
tell how ninny time.? I struck him. Blow after blow 
I ll fast and heavy upon his wriggling form. At 

ngtli lie screamed cried murder and at last the 
blasphemous tyrant called on God for mercy. But 
he who had never shown mercy did not receive it. 
The sthf stock of the whip warped round his cringing 
body until my right arm ached. 

Until this time I had been too busy to look about 
me. Desisting for a moment, I saw ]\Irs. Chapin 
looking from die window, and Rachel standing in the 
kitchen door. Their attitudes expressed the utmost 
excitement and alarm. His screams had been heard 
in the field. Chapin was coming as fast as he could 
ride. I struck him a blow or two more, then pushed 
him from me with such a well-directed kick that he 
went rolling over on the ground. 

Rising to his feet, and brushing the dirt from his 



112 TWELVE YE A US A SLAVE. 

hair, lie stood looking at me. pale with rage. Wo 
gazed at eacli other in silence. Xot a word was ut 
tered until Cliapin galloped up to us. 

" What is the matter T lie cried out. 

"Master Tibeats wants to whip me for using the 
nails you gave me," I replied. 

"What is the matter with the nails ?* he inquired, 
turning to Tibeats. 

Tibeats answered to the eifect that they were too 
large, paying little heed, however, to Chapin s ques 
tion, but still keeping his snakish eyes fastened mali 
ciously on me. 

"I am overseer here," Chapin began. "I told 
Platt to take them and use them, and if they were not 
of the proper size I would get others on returning from 
the field. It is not his fault. Besides, I shall furnish 
such nails as I please. I hope you will understand 
that, Mr. Tibeats/ 

Tibeats made no reply, but, grinding his teeth and 
shaking his fist, swore he would have satisfaction, 
and that it was not half over yet. Thereupon he walk 
ed away, followed by the overseer, and entered the 
house, the latter talking to him all the while in a sup 
pressed tone, and with earnest gestures. 

I remained where I wa?, doubting whether it was 
better to fly or abide the result, whatever it might 
"be. Presently Tibeats came out of the house, and, 
saddling his horse, the only property he possessed be 
sides myself, departed on the road to Chenyville. 

When he was gone, Chapin came out, visibly exci- 



UNHAPPY REFLECTIONS. 113 

tcrl, telling me not to stir, not to attempt to leave the 
plantation on any account whatever. lie then went 
to the kitchen, and calling Rachel out, conversed with 
her some time. Coming back, he again charged me 
with great earnestness not to run, saying my master 
was a rascal ; that he had left on no good errand, and 
that there might he trouble before night. But at all 
events, he insisted upon it, I must not stir. 

As I stood there, feelings of unutterable agony 

/ O O *j 

overwhelmed me. I was conscious that I had sub- 
iected invself to unimaginable punishment. The re- 

J t, O 

action that followed my extreme ebullition of anger 
produced the most painful sensations of regret. An 
unfriended, helpless slave what could I clo y what 
could I say, to justify, in the remotest manner, the 
heinous act I had committed, of resenting a white 
man s contumely and abuse. I tried to pray I tried 
to beseech my Heavenly Father to sustain me in my 
sore extremity, but emotion choked my utterance, and 
I could only bow my head upon my hands and weep. 
For at least an hour I remained in this situation, find 
ing relief only in tears, when, looking up, I beheld 
Tib-eats, accompanied by two horsemen, coming down 
the bayou. They rode into the yard, jumped from 
their horses, and approached mo with large whips, 
one of them also carrying a coll of rope. 

" Cross your hands/ commanded Tibeats, with the 
addition of such a shuddering expression of blasphe 
my as is not decorous to repeat. 

3 



114: TWELVE YEAH3 A SLAVE. 

" You need not bind me, Muster Tibeats, I am 
ready to go with you anywhere," said I. 

One of his companions then stepped forward, swear 
ing if I made the least resistance he would break my 
head he would tear me limb from limb he would 
cut my black throat and giving wide scope to other 
similar expressions. Perceiving any importunity al 
together vain, I crossed my hands, submitting hum 
bly to whatever disposition they might please to make 
of me. Thereupon Tibeats tied my wrists, drawing 
the rope around them with his utmost strength. Then 
lie bound my ankles in the same manner. In the 
meantime the other two had slipped a cord within my 
elbows, running it across my back, and tying it firm 
ly. It was utterly impossible to move hand or foot. 
With a remaining piece of rope Tibeats made an awk 
ward noose, and placed it about nay neck. 

" Xow, then," inquired one of Tibeats companions, 
" where shall we hang the nigger ?" 

One proposed such a limb, extending from the body 
of a peach tree, near the spot where we were stand 
ing. His comrade objected to it, alleging it would 
break, and proposed another. Finally they fixed up 
on the lattur. 

During mis conversation, and all the time they 
were binding me, I uttered not a word. OvOiseer 
Chapin, during the progress of the scene, was walk 
ing hastily back and forth on the piazza. Ilachel was 
crying by the kitchen door, and Mrs. Chapin was still 




CHAPIN RESCUFS SOLOMON" FROM HANGING. 



ATTEMPT TO RANG ME. 115 

looking from the window. Hope died within my 
heart. Surely my time had come. I should never 
behold tho light of another day- never behold the 
laces of my children the sweet anticipation I had 
ehcrirhed with such fondness. I should that hour 
struggle through the fearful agonies of death ! ISTone 
would mourn for me none revenge me. Soon my 
form would be mouldering in that distant soil, or, per 
haps, be cast to the slimy reptiles that tilled the stag 
nant waters of the bayou ! Tears ilowed down my 
cheeks, but they only afforded a subject of insulting 
comment for my executioners. 

At length, as they were dragging me towards the 
tree, Chapin, who had momentarily disappeared from 
the piazza, came out of the house and walked towards 
us. lie had a pistol in each hand, and as near as I 
can now recall to mind, spoke in a firm, determined 
manner, as follows : 

" Gentlemen, I have a few words to say. You had 
better listen to them. Whoever moves that slave an 
other foot from where he stands is a dead man. In 
the first place, he docs not deserve this treatment. It 
is a shame to murder him in this manner. I never 
knew a more faithful boy than Platt. You, Tibeats, 
nre in the fault yourself. You are pretty much of a 
scoundrel, and I know it, and you richly deserve the 
ijog-jing you have received. In the next place, I have 
been overseer on this plantation seven years, and, in 
the absence of William Ford, am master here. My 
duty is to protect his interests, and that duty I shall 



116 TWELVE YEAK9 A SLAVE. 

perform. Ton are not responsible yon are a worth 
less fellow. Ford holds a mortgage on Platt of four 
hundred dollars. If you hang him ho loses his debt. 
Until that is canceled yon have no right to take his 
life. You have no right to take it any way. There 
is a law for the slave as well as for the white man. 
You are no better than a murderer. 

" As for yon," addressing Cook and Ramsay, a 
couple of overseers from neighboring plantations, " as 
for you begone ! If you have any regard for your 
own safety, I say, begone." 

Cook and Ramsay, without a further word, mount 
ed their horses and rode away. Tibeats, in a few 
minutes, evidently in fear, and overawed by the deci 
ded tone of Chapin, sneaked off like a coward, as ho 
was, and mounting his horse, followed his companions. 

I remained standing where I was, still bound, with 
the rope around my neck. As soon as they were 
gone, Chapin called Rachel, ordering her to run to 
the field, and tell Lawson to hurry to the house with 
out delay, and bring the brown mule with him. an 
animal much prized for its unusual fleetness. Pres 
ently the boy appeared. 

" Lawson," said Chapin, " you must go to the Pine 
Woods. Tell your master Ford to come here at once 
that lie must not delay a single moment. Tell him 
they are trying to murder Platt. !N"ow hurry, boy. 
Be at the Pine Woods by noon if you kill the mule." 

Chapin stepped into the house and wrote a pass. 
When he returned, Lawson was at the door, mounted 



LAWSOX AXD THE MULE. 117 

on his mule. Receiving the pass, lie plied the whip 
right smartly to the beast, dashed out of the yard, and 
turning up the bayou on a hard gallop, in less time 
than it has taken me to describe the scene, was out 

of sight. 



t it A I LL Li IX. 



SHE HOT SUN YET BOUND THE CHRDS SINK INTO JIT FLESH CIFA- 

PIX S UNEASINESS Si ECULAT^ N RACHEL, AND HER CUP OF \VAT ; :U 

SUFFERING INCREASES THE HAl PI.NF.-b OF SLAVERY AIIRIVAL OK 

FORD HE CUTS THE COUPS WITCH IJIND ME, AN I> TAKF.S THE ROPE FRO. ; 

51 Y NECK MISERY THE GATHERING OF THE SLAV KS IN KI.TZA s CA1MX-- 

THEIR KIXDNEbS RACHEL REPEATS TilE OCCURRENCES OF THE 1, AY 

LAWSON ENTERTAINS HIS COMPANIONS WITH AN ACCOUNT OF HIS RIDE 

CUAPIN S APPREHENSIONS OF TIBEATS HIRED TO TETER TANNER l FT!-;U 

EXPOUNDS THE SCRIPTURES I;ES(T.I!?TIOX OF TEE 



As tlie sun approached the meridian that day it be 
came insufferably warm. Irs hot ra.ys scorclied the 
ground. The earth almost blistered the foot that stood 
upon it. I vras without coat or hat, standing bare 
headed, exposed to its burning bmze. Great drops 
of perspiration rolled down my f;:ce, drenching the 
scanty apparel wherewith I was clothed. Over the 
fence, a very little way off, the peach trees cast their 
cool, delicious shadows on the grass. I would gladly 
have given a long year of service to have been ena 
bled to exchange the heated oven, as it were, where 
in I stood, for a seat beneath their branches. Ihrt 1 
was yet bound, the rope still dangling from my neck, 
and standing in the same tracks where Tib eats and 
his comrades left me. I could not move an inch, so 
firmly had I been bound. To have been enabled to 



UNEASINESS. 



lean against the weavinp- house would have been a 

O O 

luxury indeed. Eut it was far beyond my reach, 
though distant less than twenty feet. I wanted to lie 
down, but knew I could not rise again. The ground 
was so parched and boiling hot I was aware it would 

-1 O 

but add to the discomfort of my situation. If I couil 
have only moved my position, however slightly, it 
would have been relief unspeakable. But the hot 
rays of a southern sun, beating all the long summer 
day on my bare head, produced not half the suffer 
ing I experienced from my aching limbs. My wrists 
and ankles, and the cords of mv leers and arms bewail 

i/O O 

to swell, burying the rope that bound them into the 

i/O -i- 

swollen ilesh. 

All day Chapin walked back and forth upon the 
stoop, but not once approached me. lie appeared to 
be in a state of great uneasiness, looking first 
towards me, and then up the road, as if expecting 
some arrival every moment. He did not go to the 
iield, as was his custom. It was evident from his man 
ner that lie supposed Tib eats would return with more 
and better armed assistance, perhaps, to renew the 
quarrel, and it was equally evident he had prepared 
his mind to defend my life at whatever hazard, 
Yrhy he did not relieve me ^ liy he suffered me to 
remain in agony the whole weary day, I never knew. 
It was not for want of sympathy, I am certain. Per- 
Inps he wished Ford to see the rope about my neck, 
and the brutal manner in which. I had been bound ; 
perhaps his interference with another s property in 



120 TWELVE YEAES A SLAVE. 

which lie had no legal interest might liave been a 
trespass, wlii cli would have subjected him to the pen 
alty of the law. "Why Tibeats was all day absent was 
another mystery I never could divine. lie knew well 
enough that Chapin would not harm him unless he 
persisted in his design against me. Lawson told me 
afterwards, that, as he passed the plantation of John 
David Cheney, he saw the three, and that they turned 
and looked after him as he flew by. I think his sup 
position was, that Lawson had been sent out by Over 
seer Chapin to arouse the neighboring planters, and 
to call on them to come to his assistance. lie, there 
fore, undoubtedly, acted on the principle, that " dis 
crction is the better part of valor," and kept away. 

But whatever motive may have governed the cow 
ardly and malignant tyrant, it is of no importance. 
There I still stood in the noon-tide sun, groaning with 
pain. From long before daylight I had not eaten a 
morsel. I was growing faint from pain, and thirst, 
and hunger. Once only, in the very hottest portion 
of the day, Rachel, half fearful she was acting con 
trary to the overseer s wishes, ventured to me, and 
held a cup of water to my lips. The humble crea 
ture never knew, nor could she comprehend if she 
had heard them, the blessings I invoked upon her, 
for that balmy draught. She could only sav, " Oh, 
Platt, how I do pity you," and then hastened back to 
her labors in the kitchen. 

Never did the sun move so slowly through the 
heavens never did it shower down such fervent and 



ARRIVAL OF FORD. 121 

fiery rays, as it did that day. At least, so it appear 
ed to me. What my meditations were the innume 
rable thoughts that thronged through my distracted 
bruin I will not attempt to give expression to. 
JSuliice it to say, during the whole long day 1 came 
not to the conclusion, even once, that the southern 
slave, fed, clothed, whipped and protected by las 
master, is happier than the free colored citizen of the 
Xorth. To that conclusion I have never since arri 
ved. There are many, however, even in the Northern 
States, benevolent and well-disposed men, who will 
pronounce my opinion erroneous, and gravely proceed 
to substantiate the assertion with an argument. Alas ! 
they have never drank, as I have, from the bitter cup 
of slavery. Just at sunset my heart leaped with un 
bounded joy, as Ford came riding into the yard, his 
horse covered with foam. Chapin met him at the 
door, and after conversing a short time, he walked 
directly to me. 

" Poor Platt, you are in a bad state," was the only 
expression that escaped his lips. 

" Thank God !" said I, " thank God, Master Ford, 
that you have come at last." 

Drawing a knife from his pocket, he indignantly 
cut the cord from my wrists, arms, and ankles, and 
slipped the noose from my neck. I attempted to 
walk, but staggered like a drunken man, and fell par 
tially to the ground. 

Ford returned immediately to the house, leaving 
me alone again. As he reached the piazza, Tibeata 



129 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

and his two friends rode up. A long dialogue fol- 
*owed. I could hear the sound of their voices, the 
mild tones of Ford mingling with the angry accents 
of Tib eats, but was unable to distinguish what was 
said. Finally the three departed again, apparently 
not well pleased. 

I endeavored to raise the hammer, thinking to show 
Ford how willing I was to work, by proceeding with 
my labors on the weaving house, but it fell from my 
nerveless hand. At dark I crawled into the cabin, 
&nd laid down. I was in great misery all sore and 
swollen the slightest movement producing excruci 
ating suffering. Soon the hands came in from the 
field. Rachel, when she went after Lawson, had told 
them what had happened. Eliza and Mary broiled 
me a piece of bacon, but my appetite was gone. 
Then they scorched some corn meal and made coffee. 
It was all that I could take. Eliza consoled me and 
was very kind. It was not long before the cabin was 
full of slaves. They gathered round me, asking many 
questions about the difficulty with Tibeats in the 
morning and the particulars of all the occurrences 
of the day. Then Rachel came in, and in her simple 
language, repeated it over again dwelling emphat 
ically on the kick that sent Tibeats rolling over on 
the ground whereupon there was a general titter 
throughout the crowd. Then she described how Cha- 
pin walked out with his pistols and rescued me, 
and how Master Ford cut the ropes with his knife, 
just as if he was mad. 



123 

By this time Lawson had returned. He had to 
resale them with an account of his trip to the Pine 
Woods how the brown mule bore him faster than 
a " streak o lightnin" how he astonished everybody 
as he flew along how Master Ford started right 
away how he said Platt was a good nigger, and 
they shouldn t kill him, concluding with pretty strong 
intimations that there was not another human being 
in the wide world, who could have created such a 
universal sensation on the road, or performed such a 
marvelous John Gilpin feat, as he had done that day 
on the brown mule. 

The kind creatures loaded me with the expression 
of their sympathy saying, Tibeatswas a hard, cruel 
man, and hoping " Massa Ford" would get me back 
again. In this manner they passed the time, discus 
sing, chatting, talking over and over again the exci 
ting affair, until suddenly Chapin presented himself 
at the cabin door and called me. 

; Platt," said he, " you will sleep on the floor in the 
great house to-night ; bring your blanket with you." 

I arose as quickly as I was able, took my blanket 
in my hand, and followed him. On the way he in 
formed me that he should not wonder if Tibeats was 
back again before morning that he intended to kill 
me and that he did not mean he should do it with 
out witnesses. Had he stabbed me to the heart in 
the presence of a hundred slaves, not one of them, by 
the laws of Louisiana, could have given evidence 
against him. I laid down on the floor in the " great 



12i TWELVE YEAES A SLAVE. 

house" the first and the last time such a sumptu 
ous resting place was granted me during my twelve 
years of bondage and tried to sleep. Near midnight 
the dog began to bark. Chapin arose, looked from 
the window, but could discover nothing. At length 
the dog was quiet. As he returned to his room, he said, 

" I believe, Platt, that scoundrel is skulking about 
the premises somewhere. If the dog barks again, and 
I am sleeping, wake me." 

I promised to do so. After the lapse of an hour or 
more, the dog re-commenced his clamor, running 
towards the gate, then back again, all the while bark 
ing furiously. 

Chapin was out of bed without waiting to be called. 
On this occasion, he stepped forth upon the piazza, 
and remained standing there a considerable length of 
time. Nothing, however, was to be seen, and the 
dog returned to his kennel. We were not disturbed 
again during the night. The excessive pain that I 
suffered, and the dread of some impending danger, 
prevented any rest whatever. Whether or not Tibe- 
ats did actually return to the plantation that night, 
seeking an opportunity to wreak his vengeance upon 
me, is a secret known only to himself, perhaps. I 
thought then, however, and have the strong impres 
sion still, that he was there. At all events, he had 
the disposition of an assassin cowering before a 
brave man s words, but ready to strike his helpless or 
unsuspecting victim in the back, as I had reason af 
terwards to know. 



CIIAPIN S APPEAKANCE. 125 

At daylight in the morning, I arose, sore and wea 
ry, having rested little. Nevertheless, after partaking 
breakfast, which Mary and Eliza had prepared for me 
in the cabin, I proceeded to the weaving house and 
commenced the labors of another day. It was Cha- 
pin s practice, as it is the practice of overseers gen 
erally, immediately on arising, to bestride his horse, 
always saddled and bridled and ready for him 
the particular business of some slave and ride into 
the field. This morning, on the contrary, he came to 
the weaving house, asking if I had seen anything of 
Tibeats yet. Replying in the negative, he remarked 
there was something not right about the fellow 
there was bad blood in him that I must keep a 
sharp watch of him, or he would do me wrong some 
day when I least expected it. 

"While he was yet speaking, Tibeats rode in, hitched 
his horse, and entered the house. I had little fear of 
him while Ford and Chapin were at hand, but they 
could not be near me always. 

Oh ! how heavily the weight of slavery pressed 
upon me then. I must toil day after day, endure 
abuse and taunts and scoffs, sleep on the hard ground, 
live on the coarsest fare, and not only this, but live 
the slave of a blood-seeking wretch, of whom I must 
stand henceforth in continued fear and dread. "Why 
had I not died in my young years before God had 
given me children to love and live for ? What un- 
happiness and suffering and sorrow it would have 
prevented. I sighed for liberty ; but the bondman s 



125 TWELVE TEAKS A SLATE. 

chain was round me, and could not be shaken off. I 
could only gaze wistfully towards the ^N"orth, and 
think of the thousands of miles that stretched between 
me and the soil of freedom, over which a Hack free 
man may not pass. 

Tibeats, in the course of half an hour, walked over 
to the weaving-house, looked at me sharply, then re 
turned without saying anything. Most of the fore 
noon he sat on the piazza, reading a newspaper and 
conversing with Ford. After dinner, the hitter left 
for the Pine Woods, and it was indeed with regret 
that I beheld him depart from the plantation. 

Once more during the day Tibeats came to me, 
gave me some order, and returned. 

During the week the weaving-house was completed 
Tibeats in the meantime making no allusion what 
ever to the difficulty when I was informed he had 
hired me to Peter Tanner, to work under another car 
penter by the name of Myers. This announcement 
was received with gratification, as any place was de 
sirable that would relieve me of his hateful presence. 

Peter Tanner, as the reader has already been in 
formed, lived on the opposite shore, and was the broth 
er of Mistress Ford. He is one of the most extensive 
planters on Bayou Boeuf, and owns a large number 
of slaves. 

Over I went to Tanner s, joyfully enough. lie had 
heard of my late difficulties in fact, I ascertained 
the flogging of Tibeats was soon blazoned far and wide. 
This affair, together with my rafting experiment, had 



PETER EXPOUNDS THE SCEIPTUEE. 127 

rendered me somewhat notorious. More than once I 
heard it said that Platt Ford, now Platt Tibeats -a 
slave s name changes with his change of master was 
" a devil of a nigger." But I was destined to make a 
still further noise, as will presently be seen, through 
out the little world of Bayou Boeuf. 

Peter Tanner endeavored to impress upon me the 
idea that he was quite severe, though I could per 
ceive there was a vein of good humor in the old fel 
low, after all. 

" You re the nigger," he said to me on rny arrival 
" You re the nigger that flogged your master^ eh? 
You re the nigger that kicks, and holds carpenter 
Tibeats by the leg, and wallops him, are ye ? I d like 
to see you hold me by the leg I should. You re a 
portant character you re a great nigger very re 
markable nigger, ain t ye \ Pd lash you Pd take 
the tantrums out of ye. Jest take hold of my leg, if 
you please. None of your pranks here, my boy, re- 
member that. Now go to work, you Jcickin* rascal," 
concluded Peter Tanner, unable to suppress a half- 
comical grin at his own wit and sarcasm. 

After listening to this salutation, I was taken charge 
of by Myers, and labored under his direction for -a 
month, to his and my own satisfaction. 

Like William Ford, his brother-in-law, Tanner w f as 
in the habit of reading the Bible to his slaves on the 
Sabbath, but in a somewhat different spirit. He was 
an impressive commentator on the New Testament 
The first Sunday after my coming to the plantation 



128 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

lie called tliem together, and began to read the twelfth 
chapter of Luke. AVhen he came to the 47th verse, 
he looked deliberately around him, and continued 
" And that servant which knew his lord s will"- -here 
he paused, looking around more deliberately than be 
fore, and again proceeded " which knew his lord s 
will, and prepared not himself" here was another 
pause "prepared not himself, neither did according 
to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes" 

" D ye hear that ? " demanded Peter, emphatically. 
f < Stripes" he repeated, slowly and distinctly, taking 
off his spectacles, preparatory to making a few re 
marks. 

"That nigger that don t take care that don t obey 
his lord that s his master d ye see ? that ere 
nigger shall be beaten with many stripes. K~ow, 
4 many signifies a great many forty, a hundred, 
a hundred and fifty lashes. That s Scripter ! " and so 
Peter continued to elucidate the subject for a great 
length of time, much to the edification of his sable 
audience. 

At the conclusion of the exercises, calling up three 
of his slaves, "Warner, Will and Major, he cried out 
to me 

" Here, Platt, you held Tibeats by the legs ; now I ll 
see if you can hold these rascals in the same way, till 
I got back from meetin ." 

Thereupon he ordered them to the stocks a com 
mon thing on plantations in the Red Eiver country. 
She stocks are formed of two planks, the lower one 



DESCKir-TION OF THE STOCKS. 129 

made fast at the ends to two short posts, driven firmly 
into the ground. At regular distances half circles 
are cut in the upper edge. The other plank is fas 
tened to one of the posts "by a hinge, so that it can be 
opened or shut down, in the same manner as the blade 
of a pocket-knife is shut or opened. In the lower edge 
of the upper plank corresponding half circles are also 
cut, so that wlien they close, a row of holes is formed 
lar^e enough to admit a negro s leer above the ankle, 

o o O O ^ 

but not large enough to enable him to draw out his 
foot. The other end of the upper plank, opposite the 
hinge, is fastened to its post by lock and key. The 
slave is made to sit upon the ground, when the upper 
most plank is elevated, his legs, just above the ankles, 
placed in the sub-half circles, and shutting it down 
again, and locking it, he is held secure and fast. Yery 
often the neck instead of the ankle is enclosed. In 
this manner they are held during the operation of 
whipping. 

Warner, Will and Major, according to Tanner s ac 
count of them, were melon-stealing, Sabbath-break 
ing niggers, and not approving of such wickedness, he 
felt it his duty to put them in the stocks. Handing 
me the key, himself, Myers, Mistress Tanner and the 
children entered the carriage and drove away to 
church at Cheney ville. When they were gone, the 
boys begged me to let them out. I felt sorry to see 
them sitting on the hot ground, and remembered my 
own sufferings in the sun. Upon their promise to re 
turn to the stocks at any moment they were required 



130 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

to do so, I consented to release them. Grateful for 
the lenity shown them, and in order in some meas 
ure to repay it, they could do no less, of course, 
than pilot me to the melon-patch. Shortly before 
Tanner s return, they were in the stocks again. 
Finally he drove up, and looking at the boys, said, with 
a chuckle, 

" Aha ! ye havn t been strolling about much to-day, 
any way. Pll teach you what s what, I ll tire ye 
of eating water-melons on the Lord s day, ye Sabbath- 
breaking niggers." 

Peter Tanner prided himself upon his strict religious 
observances : he was a deacon in the church. 

But I have now reached a point in the progress of 
my narrative, when it becomes necessary to turn away 
from these light descriptions, to the more grave and 
weighty matter of the second battle with Master Tib- 
eats, and the flight through the great Pacoudrie 
Swamp. 



CHAPTER X, 

KETURN TO TIBEATS YMPOS3IBILITY OF PLEASING HIM HE ATTACKS MB 
WITH A HATCHET THE STRUGGLE OVER THE BROAD AXE THE TEMPTA 
TION TO MURDER HIM ESCAPE ACROSS THE PLANTATION OBSERVA 
TIONS FROM THE FKNCE TIBEATS APPROACHES, FOLLOWED BY THE HOUNDS 

THEY TAKE MY TRACK THEIR LOUD YELLS THEY ALMOST OVERTAKE 

ME 1 REACH THE WATER THE HOUNDS CONFUSED MOCCASIN SNAKES 

ALLIGATORS NIGHT IN THE "GREAT PACOUDRIE SWAMP" THE SOUNDS 

OF LIFE NORTH-WEST COURSE EMERGE INTO THE PINE WOODS TUB 

SLAVE AND HIS YOUNG MASTER ARRIVAL AT FORD s FOOD AND REST. 

AT the end of a month, my services being no lon 
ger required at Tanner s I was sent over the bayou 
again to my master, whom I found engaged in build 
ing the cotton press. This was situated at some dis 
tance from the great house, in a rather retired place. 
I commenced working once more in company with 
Tibeats, being entirely alone with him most part of 
the time. I remembered the words of Chapin, his 
precautions, his advice to beware, lest in some unsus 
pecting moment he might injure me. They were al 
ways in my mind, so that I lived in a most uneasy 
state of apprehension and fear. One eye was on my 
work, the other on my master. I determined to give 
him no cause of offence, to work still more diligently, 



132 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

if possible, than I had done, to bear whatever abuse 
he might heap upon me, save bodily injury, humbly 
and patiently, hoping thereby to soften in some de 
gree his manner towards me. until the blessed time 
might come when I should be delivered from his 
clutches. 

The third morning after my return, Chapin left the 
plantation for Cheney ville, to be absent until night. 
Tibeats, on that morning, was attacked with one of 
those periodical fits of spleen and ill-humor to which 
he was frequently subject, rendering him still more 
disagreeable and venomous than usual. 

It was about nine o clock in the forenoon, when I 
was busily employed with the jack-plane on one of the 
sweeps. Tibeats was standing by the work-bench, 
fitting a handle into the chisel, with which he had 
been engaged previously in cutting the thread of the 
screw. 

" You are not planing that down enough," said he. 

"It is just even with the line," I replied. 

" You re a d d liar," he exclaimed passionately. 

"Oh, well, master," I said, mildly, " I will plane it 
down more if you say so," at the same time proceed 
ing to do as I supposed he desired. Before one sha 
ping had been removed, however, he cried out, say 
ing I had now planed it too deep it w r as too small 
I had spoiled the sweep entirely. Then followed 
curses and imprecations. I had endeavored to do ex 
actly as he directed, but nothing would satisfy the un 
reasonable man. In silence and in dread I stood by the 



TIBEATS ATTACKS 3IE. 

sweep, holding the jack-plane in my hand, not know 
ing wliat to do, and not daring to be idle. His anger 
grew more and more violent, until, finally, with an 
oath, such a Litter, frightful oath as only Tibeats could 
utter, he seized a hatchet from the work-bench and 
darted towards me, swearing he would cut my head 
open. 

It was a moment of life or death. The sharp, bright 
blade of the hatchet glittered in the sun. In another 
instant it would be buried in my brain, and yet in 
that instant so quick will a man s thoughts come to 
him in such a fearful strait I reasoned with my 
self. If I stood still, my doom was certain ; if I fled, 
ten chances to one the hatchet, flying from his hand 
with a too-deadly and unerring aim, would strike me 
in the back. There was but one course to take. 
Springing towards him with all my power, and meet 
ing him full half-way, before he could bring down the 
blow, with one hand I caught his uplifted arm, with 
the other seized him by the throat. "We stood look 
ing each other in the eyes. In his I could see mur 
der. I felt as if I had a serpent by the neck, watch 
ing the slightest relaxation of my gripe, to coil itself 
round my body, crushing and stinging it to death. I 
thought to scream aloud, trusting that some ear might 
catch the sound but Chapin was away; the hands 
were in the field ; there was no living soul in sight 
or hearing. 

The good genius, which thus far through life has 
saved me from the hands of violence, at that moment 



134: TWELVE YEARS A SLATE. 

suggested a lucky thought. With a vigorous and 
sudden kick, that brought him on one knee, with a 
groan, I released my hold upon his throat, snatched 
the hatchet, and cast it beyond reach. 

Frantic with rage, maddened beyond control, he 
seized a white oak stick, five feet long, perhaps, and 
as large in circumference as his hand could grasp, 
which was lying on the ground. Again he rushed 
towards me, and again I met him, seized him about 
the waist, and being the stronger of the two, bore 
him to the earth. While in that position I obtained 
possession of the stick, and rising, cast it from me, 
also. 

He likewise arose and ran for the broad-axe, on the 
work-bench. Fortunately, there was a heavy plank 
lying upon its broad blade, in such a manner that he 
could not extricate it, before I had sprung upon his 
back. Pressing him down closely and heavily on the 
plank, so that the axe was held more firmly to its 
place, I endeavored, but in vain, to break his grasp 
upon the handle. In that position we remained some 
minutes. 

There have been hours in my unhappy life, many 
of them, when the contemplation of death as the end 
of earthly sorrow of the grave as a resting place 
for the tired and worn out body has been pleasant 
to dwell upon. But such contemplations vanish in the 
hour of peril. !Ko man, in his full strength, can 
stand undismayed, in the presence of the " king of 
terrors." Life is dear to every living thing; the 



TEMPT ATIOX TO MURDER TIBEATS. 135 

worm that crawls upon the ground will struggle for 
it. At that moment it was dear to me, enslaved and 
treated as I was. 

Xot able to unloose his hand, once more I seized 
him by the throat, and this time, with a vice-like 
gripe that soon relaxed his hold. He became pliant 
and unstrung. His face, that had been white with 
passion, was now black from suffocation. Those small 
serpent eyes that spat such venom, were now full of 
horror two great white orbs starting from their 
sockets ! 

There was "a lurking devil" in my heart that 
prompted me to kill the human blood-hound on the 
spot -to retain the gripe on his accursed throat till 
the breath of life was gone ! I dared not murder 
him, and I dared not let him live. If I killed him, 
my life must pay the forfeit if he lived, my life 
only would satisfy his vengeance. A voice within 
whispered me to fly. To be a wanderer among tbe 
swamps, a fugitive and a vagabond on the face of 
the earth, was preferable to the life that I was lead 
ing. 

]My resolution was soon formed, and swinging him 
from the work-bench to the ground, I leaped a fence 
near by, and hurried across the plantation, passing 
the slaves at work in the cotton field. At the end of 
a quarter of a mile I reached the wood-pasture, and 
it was a short time indeed that I had been running 
it. Climbing on to a high fence, I could see the 
cotton press, the great house," and the space between. 



136 TWELVE YEARS A 

It was a conspicuous position, from whence the whole 
plantation was in view. I saw Tibeats cross the field 
towards the house, and enter it then he came out, 
carrying his saddle, and presently mounted his horse 
and galloped away. 

I was desolate, but thankful. Thankful that my 
life was spared, desolate and discouraged with the 
prospect before me. What would become of me ? 
Who would befriend me ? Whither should I fly ? 
Oh, God ! Thou who gavest me life, and implanted 
in my bosom the love of life who filled it with 
emotions such as other men, thy creatures, have, do 
not forsake me. Have pity on the poor slave let 
me not perish. If thou dost not protect me, I am 
lost lost! Such supplications, silently and unut- 
tered, ascended from my inmost heart to Heaven. 
But there was no answering voice no sweet, low 
tone, coming down from on high, whispering to my 
soul, " It is I, be not afraid." I was the forsaken of 
God, it seemed the despised and hated of men ! 

In about three-fourths of an hour several of the 
slaves shouted and made signs for me to run. Pres 
ently, looking up the bayou, I saw Tibeats and two 
others on horse-back, coming at a fast s;ait, followed 

O cD / 

by a troop of dogs. There were as many as eight or 
ten. Distant as I was, I knew them. They belonged 
on the adjoining plantation. The dogs used on Bayou 
Bosiif for hunting slaves are a kind of blood-hound, 
but a far more savage breed than is found in the 
Northern States. They will attack a negro, at their 



PURSUED BY HOUNDS. 137 

master s bidding, and cling to him as the common 
bull-dog will cling to a four footed animal. Fre 
quently their loud bay is heard in the swamps, and 
then there is speculation as to what point the runaway 
will be overhauled the same as a New-York hunter 
stops to listen to the hounds coursing along the hill 
sides, and suggests to his companion that the fox will 
be taken at such a place. I never knew a slave es 
caping with hig life from Bayou Boeuf. One reason 
is, they are not allowed to learn the art of swimming, 
and are incapable of crossing the most inconsiderable 
stream. In their flight they can go in no direction 
but a little way without coming to a bayou, when the 
inevitable alternative is presented, of being drowned 
or overtaken by the dogs. In youth I had practised 
in the clear streams that flow through my native dis 
trict, until I had become an expert swimmer, and felt 
at home in the watery element. 

I stood upon the fence until the dogs had reached 
the cotton press. In an instant more, their long, sav 
age yells announced they were on my track. Leap 
ing down from my position, I ran towards the swamp. 
Fear gave me strength, and I exerted it to the utmost. 
Every few moments I could hear the yelpings of the 
dogs. They were gaining upon me. Every howl 
was nearer and nearer. Each moment I expected 
they would spring upon my back expected to feel 
their long teeth sinking into my flesh. There were 
so many of them, I knew they would tear me to pie 
ces, that they would worry me, at once, to death. I 



138 TWELVE YE AES A SLAVE. 

gasped for breath gasped forth a half-uttered, cho 
king prayer to the Almighty to save me to give me 
strength to reach some wide, deep bayou where I 
could throw them off the track, or sink into its wa 
ters. Presently I reached a thick palmetto bottom. 
As I fled through them they made a loud rustling 
noise, not loud enough, however, to drown the voices 
of the dogs. 

Continuing my course due south, as nearly as I can 
judge, I came at length to water just over shoe. 
The hounds at that moment could not have been five 
rods behind me. I could hear them crashing and 
plunging through the palmettoes, their loud, eager 
yells making the whole swamp clamorous with the 
sound. Hope revived a little as I reached the water. 
If it were only deeper, they might loose the scent, and 
thus disconcerted, afford me the opportunity of eva 
ding them. Luckily, it grew deeper the farther I 
proceeded now over my ankles now half-way to 
my knees now sinking a moment to my waist, and 
then emerging presently into more shallow places. 
The dogs had not gained upon me since I struck the 
water. Evidently they were confused. Xow their 
savage intonations grew more and more distant, as 
suring me that I was leaving them. Finally I stop 
ped to listen, but the long howl came booming on the 
air again, telling me I was not yet safe. From bog to 
bog, where I had stepped, they could still keep upon 
the track, though impeded by the water. At length, 
to my great joy, I came to a wide bayou, and plung- 



I EEACH THE WATER. 139 

ing ill, had soon stemmed its sluggish current to the 
other side. There, certainly, the dogs would be con 
founded the current carrying down the stream all 
traces of that slight, mysterious scent, which enables 
the quick-smelling hound to follow in the track of the 
fugitive. 

After crossing this bayou the water became so 
deep I could not run. I was now in what I after 
wards learned was the " Great Pacoudrie Swamp." 
It was tilled with immense trees the sycamore, the 
gum, the cotton wood and cypress, and extends, I am 
informed, to the shore of the Calcasieu river. For 
thirty or forty miles it is without inhabitants, save 
wild beasts the bear, the wild-cat, the tiger, and 
great slimy reptiles, that are crawling through it 
everywhere. Long before I reached the bayou, in 
fact, from the time I struck the water until I emer 
ged from the swamp on my return, these reptiles 
surrounded me. I saw hundreds of moccasin snakes. 
Every log and bog every trunk of a fallen tree, 
over which I was compelled to step or climb, was 
alive with them. They crawled away at my ap 
proach, but sometimes in my haste, I almost placed 
my hand or foot upon them. They are poisonous 
serpents their bite more fatal than the rattlesnake s. 
Besides, I had lost one shoe, the sole having come 
entirely off, leaving the upper only dangling to my 
ankle. 

I saw also many alligators, great and small, lying 
in the water, or on pieces of floodwood. The noise I 



14:0 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

made usually startled them, when they moved off and 
plunged into the deepest places. Sometimes, how 
ever, I would come directly upon a monster before 
observing it. In such cases, I would start back, run 
a short way round, and in that manner shun them. 
Straight forward, they will run a short distance rapidly, 
but do not possess the power of turning. In a crook 
ed race, there is no difficulty in evading them. 

About two o clock in the afternoon, I heard the 
last of the hounds. Probably they did not cross the 
bayou. Wet and weary, but relieved from the sense 
of instant peril, I continued on, more cautious and 
afraid, however, of the snakes and alligators than I 
had been in the earlier portion of my flight. ISfow, 
before stepping into a muddy pool, I would strike 
the water with a stick. If the waters moved, I would 
go around it, if not, would venture through. 

At length the sun went down, and gradually night s 
trailing mantle shrouded the great swamp in dark 
ness. Still I staggered on, fearing every instant I 
should feel the dreadful sting of the moccasin, or be 
crushed within the javvs of some disturbed alligator. 
The dread of them now almost equaled the fear of 
the pursuing hounds. The moon arose after a time, 
its mild light creeping through the overspreading 
branches, loaded with long, pendent moss. I kept 
traveling forwards until after midnight, hoping all 
the while that I would soon emerge into some less 
desolate and dangerous region. But the water grew 
deeper and the walking more difficult than ever. I 



NIGHT IN THE SWAMP. 141 

perceived it would be impossible to proceed much 
farther, and knew not, moreover, what hands I might 
fall into, should I succeed in reaching a human hab 
itation. Not provided with a pass, any white man 
would be at liberty to arrest me, and place me in 
prison until such time as my master should " prove 
property, pay charges, and take me away." I was an 
estray, and if so unfortunate as to meet a law-abiding- 
citizen of Louisiana, he would deem it his duty to his 
neighbor, perha]^ to put mfi. forthwith in the pound. 
Really, it was difficult to determine which I had most x 
reason to jearj^^dogs^lligators or mm.! 

After midnight, however, I came to a halt. Ima 
gination cannot picture the dreariness of the scene. 
The swamp was resonant with the quacking of innu 
merable clucks ! Since the foundation of the earth, 
in all probability, a human footstep had never before 
so far penetrated the recesses of the swamp. It was 
not silent now silent to a decree that rendered it 

O 

oppressive, as it was when the sun was shining in 
the heavens. My midnight intrusion had awakened 
the feathered tribes, which seemed to throng the mo 
rass in hundreds of thousands, and their garrulous 
throats poured forth such multitudinous sounds 
there was such a fluttering of wings such sullen 
plunges in the water all around me that I was af 
frighted and appalled. All the fowls of the air, and 
all the creeping things of the earth appeared to have 
assembled together in that particular place, for tho 
purpose of filling it with clamor and confusion. 



142 TWELVE YEAKS A SLAVE. 

by Iniman dwellings not in crowded cities alone, 
are the sights and sounds of life. The wildest places 
of the earth are full of them. Even in the heart of 
that dismal swamp, God had provided a refuge and a 
dwelling place for millions of living things. 

The moon had now risen above the trees, when I 
resolved upon a new project. Thus far Iliad endeav 
ored to travel as nearly south as possible. Turning 
about I proceeded in a north-west direction, my ob 
ject being to strike the Pine Woods in the vicinity of 
Master Ford s. Once within the shadow of his pro 
tection, I felt I would be comparatively safe. 

My clothes were in tatters, my hands, face, and 
body covered with scratches, received from the sharp 
knots of fallen trees, and in climbing over piles of 
brush and floodwood. My bare foot was full of thorns. 
I was besmeared with muck and mud, and the green 
slime that had collected on the surface of the dead 
water, in which I had been immersed to the neck 
many times during the day and night. Hour after 
hour, and tiresome indeed had they become, I contin 
ued to plod along on my north-west course. The wa 
ter began to grow less deep, and the ground more firm 
under my feet. At last I reached the Pacoudrie, the 
same wide bayou I had swam while " outward 
bound." I swam it again, and shortly after thought 
I heard a cock crow, but the sound was faint, and it 
might have been a mockery of the ear. The water 
receded from my advancing footsteps now I had 
left the bogs behind me now I was on dryland 



THE SLAVE AND HIS MASTER. 143 

that gradually ascended to the plain, and I knew I 
was somewhere in the " Great Pine Woods." 

Just at day-break I came to an opening a sort of 
small plantation but one I had never seen before. 
In the edge of the woods I came upon two men, a 
slave and his young master, engaged in catching wild 
hogs. The white man I knew would demand ray 
pass, and not able to give him one, would take me 
into possession. I was too wearied to run again, and 
too desperate to be taken, and therefore adopted a 
ruse that proved entirely successful. Assuming a 
fierce expression, I walked directly towards him, look 
ing him steadily in the face. As I approached, ho 
moved backwards with an air of alarm. It was plain 
he was much affrighted that he looked upon me as 
some infernal goblin, just arisen from the bowels of 
the swamp ! 

Where does William Ford live? " I demanded, in 
no gentle tone. 

4% lie lives seven miles from here," was the reply. 

" Which is the way to his place ? " I again demand 
ed, trying to look more fiercely than ever. 

Do you see those pine trees yonder?" he asked, 
pointing to two, a mile distant, that rose far above 
their fellows, like a couple of tall sentinels, overlook 
ing the broad expanse of forest. 

" I see them," was the answer. 

" At the feet of those pine trees," he continued, 
" runs the Texas road. Turn to the left, and it will 
lead you to William Ford s." 



14:4: TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

Without further parley, I hastened forward, happy 
as he was, no doubt, to place the widest possible dis 
tance between us. Striking the Texas road, I turned 
to the left hand, as directed, and soon passed a great 
fire, where a pile of logs were burning. I went to it, 
thinking I would dry my clothes ; but the gray light 
of the morning was fast breaking away, some pass 
ing white man might observe me ; besides, the heat 
overpowered me with the desire of sleep : so, linger 
ing no longer, I continued my travels, and finally, 
about eight o clock, reached the house of Master Ford. 

The slaves w r ere all absent from the quarters, at 
their work. Stepping on to the piazza, I knocked at 
the door, which was soon opened by Mistress Ford. 
My appearance was so changed I was in such a wo- 
begone and forlorn condition, she did not know me. 
Inquiring if Master Ford was at home, that good man 
made his appearance, before the question could be 
answered. I told him of my flight, and all the par 
ticulars connected with it. He listened attentively, 
and when I had concluded, spoke to me kindly and 
sympathetically, and taking me to the kitchen, called 
John, and ordered him to prepare me food. I had 
tasted nothing since daylight the previous morning. 

"When John had set the meal before me, the madam 
came out with a bowl of milk, and many little deli 
cious dainties, such as rarely please the palate of a 
slave. I was hungry, and I was weary, but neither 
food nor rest afforded half the pleasure as did the 
blessed voices speaking kindness and consolation. It 



FOOD AJS D KEriT. 145 

was the oil raid the wine which tlie Good Samaritan 
in tlio " Great Pine Woods " was ready to pour into 
tlie wounded spirit of tlie slave, who came to him, 
stripped of his raiment and half-dead. 

They left me in the cabin, that I might rest. Blessed 
be sleep ! It visiteth all alike, descending as the dews 
of heaven on the bond and free. Soon it nestled to my 
bosom, driving away the troubles that oppressed it, and 
bearing me to that shadowy region, where I saw again 
the faces, and listened to the voices of my children, 
who, alas, for aught I knew in my waking hours, had 
fallen into the arms of that other sleep, from which 
they nccer would arouse. 

G 10 



CHAPTER XI. 

THE MISTRESS GARDEN THE CRIMSON AND GOLDEN FRUIT -ORANGE 

AND POMEGRANATE TRE.ES RETURN TO BAYOU BCEUK MASTER FORD 3 

REMARKS ON THE WAY -THE MEETING WITH T1BEATS HIS ACCOUNT OK 

THE CHASE FORD CENSURES HIS BRUTALITY ARRIVAL AT THE PLANTA 
TION ASTONISHMENT OK THE SLAVES ON SEEING Mi: 711 C ANTICIPATED 

FLOGGING KENTUCKY JOHN MR. ELDRET, THE PLANTER ELDRET ? 3 

SAM TRIP TO THE "BIG CANE CRAKE" THE TRADITION OK "SLTTOX a 

FIELD" FOREST TREES GNATS AND MOSQUJTOS THE ARRI VA r, OF BLACK 

WOMEN IN THE BIG CANE LUMBER WOMEN SUDDEN APPEARANCE O7 

TIBEATS HIS PROVOKING TREATMENT VISIT TO BAYOU BCEUK T!IK 

SLAVE PASS SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY THE LAST OF ELIZA SALE TO 

EDWIN EPPS. 

AFTER a long sleep, sometime in the afternoon I 
awoke, refreshed, but very sore and stiff. Sally cayj?o 
in and talked with me, while John cooked me; some 
dinner. Sally was in great trouble, as well as myself, 
one of her children being ill, and she feared it could 
not survive. Dinner over, after walking about tho 
quarters for a while, visiting Sally s cabin and looking 
at the sick child, I strolled into the madam s garden. 
Though it was a season of the year when the voices 
of the birds are silent, and the trees are stripped of 
their summer glories in more frisnd cliinep, vet tho 

o / i/ 

whole variety of roses were then blooming (here, and 



THE MISTRESS GAIiDEX. 14:7 

the long, luxuriant vines creeping over the frames. 
The crimson and golden fruit hung half hidden amidst 
the younger and older blossoms of the peach, the or 
ange, the plum, and the pomegranate ; for, in that 
region of almost perpetual warmth, the leaves are 
lulling and the buds bursting into bloom the whole 
year lom>\ 

I indulged the mo it grateful feelings towards Mas 
ter and Mistress Ford, and wishing in sonic manner 
to repay their kindness, commenced trimming the 
vines, and afterwards weedinir out the erass from 

O O 

among the orange and pomegranate trees. The latter 
grows eiglit or ten feet high, and its fruit, though lar 
ger, is similar in appearance to the jelly-flower. It 
lias the luscious flavor of the strawberry. Oranges, 
peaches, plums, and most other fruits are indigenous 
to the rich, warm soil of Avoyelles ; but the apple, the 
most common of them all in colder latitudes, is rare 
ly to be seen. 

Mistress 1-V-rd came out presently, saying it was 
praise-worthy i:i me, but I was not in a condition to la 
bor, and might rc.-t myself at the quarters until mas 
ter should go d >wn to JJayou Boeuf, which would not 
be that dav, and it i-iiaht not be the next. I said to 
her to be sure, I felt bad, and was .stiff, and that 
my foot pained me, the stubs and thorns having so 
torn it , but thought such exercise would not hurt 
me. and that it was a great pleasure to work for so 
good a mistress. Thereupon she returned to the great 
ii-juu-c, and for three days I was diligent in the garden, 



148 TWELVE TEAK5 A SLAVE. 

cleaning the walks, weeding the flower beds, and 
pulling np the rank grass beneath the jessamine vines, 
which the gentle and generous hand of my protectress 
had taught to clamber along the walls. 

The fourth morning, having become recruited and 
refreshed, Master Ford ordered me to make ready to 
accompany him to the bayou. There was but one 
saddle horse at the opening, all the others with 
the mules having been sent down to the plantation. 
I said I could walk, and bidding Sally and John good 
bye, left the opening, trotting along by the horse s 
side. 

That little paradise in the Great Pine Woods was 
the oasis in the desert, towards which my heart turn 
ed lovingly, during many years of bondage. I went 
forth from it now with regret and sorrow, not so over 
whelming, however, as if it had then been given mo 
to know that I should never return to it again. 

Master Ford urged me to take his place occasion 
ally on the horse,, to .rest me ; but I said no, I was not 
tired, and it was better for me to walk than him. He 
said many kind and cheering things to me on the way, 
riding slowly, in order that I might keep pace with 
him. The goodness of God was manifest, he declared, 
in my miraculous escape from the swamp. As Dan 
iel came forth unharmed from the den of lions, and 
as Jonah had been preserved in the whale s belly, 
even so had I been delivered from evil by the Al 
mighty. He interrogated me in regard to the various 
fears and emotions I had experienced during the day 



FORD S EEilAEKS OX THE WAY. 149 

and night, and if I had felt, at any time, a desire to 
pray. I felt forsaken of the whole world, I answered 
him, and was praying mentally all the while. At 
such times, said he, the heart of man turns instinct 
ively towards his Maker. In prosperity, and when 
there is nothing to injure or make him afraid, he re 
members Him not, and is ready to defy Him ; but 
place him in the midst of dangers, cut him off from 
human aid, let the grave open before him then it 
is, m the time of his tribulation, that the scoffer and 
unbelieving man turns to God for help, feeling there 
is no other hope, or refuge, or safety, save in his pro 



tecting arm. 



So did that benignant man speak to me of this life 
and of the life hereafter ; of the goodness and power 
of God, and of the vanity of earthly things, as we 
journeyed along the solitary road towards Bayou 
Bo3uf. 

When within some five miles of the plantation, we 
discovered a horseman at a distance, galloping tow 
ards us. As he came near I saw that it was Tibeats ! 
He looked at me a moment, but did not address me, 
and turning about, rode along side by side with Ford. 
I trotted silently at their horses heels, listing to their 
conversation. Ford informed him of my arrival in 
the Pine Woods three days before, of the sad plight I 
was in, and of the difficulties and dangers I had en 
countered. 

" Well,* exclaimed Tibeats, omitting his usual oaths 
in the presence of Ford, C -I never saw such running 



150 TWELVE YEARS A SLATE. 

before. I ll bet him against a hundred dollars, he ll 
beat any nigger in Louisiana. I offered John David 
Cheney twenty-five dollars to catch him, dead or alive, 
but he outran his dogs in a fair race. Them Cheney 
dogs ain t much, after all. Dunwoodie s hounds 
would have had him down before he touched the pal- 
mettoes. Somehow the dogs got off the track, and we 
had to give, up the hunt. "We rode the horses as far 
as we could, and then kept on foot till the water was 
three feet deep. The boys said lie was drowned, sure. 
I allow I wanted a shot at him mightily. Ever since, 
I have been riding up and down the bayou, but had nt 
much hope of catching him thought he was dead, 
sartin. Oh, he s a cuss to run that nigger is ! 

In this way Tibeats ran on, describing his search in 
the swamp, the wonderful speed with which I had 
fled before the hounds, and when he had finished, 
Master Ford responded by saying, I had always been 
a willing and faithful boy with him ; that he was sor 
ry we had such trouble ; that, according to Platt s 
story, he had been inhumanly treated, and that he, 
Tibeats, was himself in fault. Using hatchets and 
broad-axes upon slaves was shameful, and should not 
be allowed, he remarked. "This is no way of dealing 
with them, when first brought into the country. It 
will have a pernicious influence, and set them all run 
ning away. The swamps will be full of them. A lit 
tle kindness would be far more effectual in restraining 
thorn, and rendering them obedient, than the use of 
ETch deadly weapons. Every planter on the bayou 



FORD CENSURES TIBEAT3. 151 

should frown upon such inhumanity. It is for the in 
terest of all to do so. It is evident enough, Mr. Tib- 
eats, that you and Platt cannot live together. You 
dislike him, and would not hesitate to kill him, and 
knowing it, he will run from you again through fear 
of Ills life. Xow, Tibeats, you must sell him, or hire 
him out, at least. Unless you do so, I shall take 
measures to get him out of your possession." 

In this spirit Ford addressed him the remainder of 
the distance. I opened not my mouth. On reaching 
the plantation they entered the great house, while I 
repaired to Eliza s cabin. The slaves were astonish 
ed to find me there, on returning from the field, sup 
posing I was drowned. That night, again, they gath 
ered about the cabin to listen to the story of my 
adventure. They took it for granted I would be whip 
ped, and that it would be severe, the well-known pen- 
altv of running away being five hundred lashes. 

, ; O t/ o 

"Poor fellow," said Eliza, taking me by the hand, 
Ci it would have been better for you if you had drown 
ed. You have a cruel master, and he will kill you 
yet, I am afraid." 

Lawson suggested that it might be, overseer Clia- 
pin would be appointed to inflict the punishment, in 
which case it would not be severe, whereupon Mary, 
1^.1 ch el, Bristol, and others hoped it would be Master 
Ford, and then it would be no whipping at all. They 
all pitied me and tried to console me, and were sadiu 
view of the castigation that awaited me, except Ken 
tucky John. There were no bounds to his laughter ; 



152 TWELVE TEAKS A SLATE. 

he filled the cabin with cachinnations, holding his sides 
to prevent an explosion, and the cause of his noisy 
mirth was the idea of my outstripping the hounds. 
Somehow, he looked at the subject in a comical light. 
"I know\l dey would nt cotcli him, when he run cross 
de plantation. O, de lor , did nt Platt pick his feet 
right np, tho , hey ? When dein dogs got whar he 
was, he was nt dar haw, haw, haw ! O, de lor a 
mity !" and then Kentucky John relapsed into an 
other of his boisterous fits. 

Early the next morning, Tibcats left the plantation, 
In the course of the forenoon, while sauntering about 

O 

the gin-house, a tall, good-looking man came to me, 
and inquired if I was Tibeats boy, that youthful ap 
pellation being applied indiscriminately to slaves 
even though they may have passed the number of 
three score years and ten. I took off my hat, and an 
swered that I was. 

"How would you like to work for me? 1 he in 
quired. 

" Oh, I would- like to, very much," said I, inspired 
with a sudden hope of getting away from Tibeats. 

" You worked under Myers at Peter Tanner s, didn t 
you ? " 

I replied I had, adding some complimentary re 
marks that Myers Lad made concerning me. 

" Well, boy," said he, " I have hired you of your 
master to work for me in the " Big Cane Brake," 
thirty-eight miles from here, down on Red River." 

This man was Mr. Eldret, who lived below Ford s, 



ELDSET, THE PLANTER. 153 

on the same side of the bayou. I accompanied him 
to his plantation, and in the morning started with his 
slave Sam, and a wagon-load of provisions, drawn by 
four mules, for the Big Cane, Eldret and Myers hav 
ing preceded us on horseback. This Sam was a na 
tive of Charleston, where he had a mother, brother 
and sisters. lie " allowed " a common word among 
both black and white -that Tibeats was a mean man, 
and hoped, as I most earnestly did also, that his mas 
ter would buy me. 

^\v T e proceeded down the south shore of the bayou, 
crossing it at Carey s plantation ; from thence to Huff 
Bower, passing which, we came upon the Bayou 
Bongo road, which runs towards Red River. After 
passing through Bayou Ilouge Swamp, and just at 
sunset^ turning from the highway, we struck off into 
the " Big Cane Brake." Tv r e followed an unbeaten 
track, scarcely wide enough, to admit the wagon. 

, o 

The cane, such as are used for fishing-rods, were as 
thick as they could stand. A person could not be 
pecn through them the distance of a rod. The paths 
of wild beasts run through them in various directions 
the bear and the American tiger abounding in these 
brake-, and wherever there is a basin of stagnant wa 
ter, it is full of alligators. 

Yfe kept on our lonely course through the " Big 
Cane" several miles, when we entered a clearing, 
3. mown as "Button s Field." Many years before, a 
man by the name of Sutton had penetrated the wilder 
ness of i;ane to this solitary place. Tradition has it, 
o* 



154 TWELVE YEA113 A SLAVE. 

that lie fled thither, a fugitive, not from service, but 
from justice. Here lie lived alone recluse and her 
mit of the swamp with his own hands planting the 
seed and gathering in the harvest. One clay a Land 
of Indians stole upon his solitude, and after a bloody 
battle, overpowered and massacred him. Eor miles 
the country round, in the slaves quarters, and on the 
piazzas of " great houses," where white children listen 
to superstitious tales, the story goes, that that spot, in 
the heart of the " Big Cane," is a haunted place. Eoi- 
more than a quarter of a century, human voices had 
rarely, if ever, disturbed the silence of the clearing. 
Rank and noxious weeds had overspread the once cul 
tivated field serpents sunned themselves on the door 
way of the crumbling cabiii. It was indeed a dreary 
picture of desolation. 

Passing " Sutton s Field," we followed a new-cut 
road two miles farther, which brought us to its ter 
mination. "We had now reached the wild lands of 
Mr. Eldret, where he contemplated clearing up an 
extensive plantation. "We went to work next morn 
ing with our cane-knives, and cleared a sufficient 
space to allow the erection of two cabins one for 
Myers and Eldret, the other for Sam, myself and tho 
slaves that were to join us. We were now in the 
midst of trees of enormous growth, whose wide-spread 
ing branches almost shut out the light of the sun, 
w T hile the space between the trunks was an impervi 
ous mass of cane, with here and there an occasional 
palmetto. 



LIFE IN THE BIG CANE BRAKE. 155 

The bav and tlio sycamore, the oak arid the cypress, 
reach a growth unparalleled, in those fertile lowlands 
bordering the Iced IT ver. From every tree, moreover, 
hang long, largo masses of moss, presenting to the eye 
unaccustomed to them, a striking and singular appear 
ance. This moss, in largo quantities, is sent north, 
and there used for manufacturing purposes. 

We cut down oaks, split them into rails, and with 
these erected temporary cabins. "We covered the 
roofs with the broad palmetto leaf, an excellent sub 
stitute for shingles, as long as they last. 

The greatest annoyance I met with here were small 
(lies, gnats and mosquitoes. They swarmed the air. 
They penetrated the porches of the ear, the nose, the 
eyes, the mouth. They sucked themselves beneath 
the skin. It was impossible to brush or beat them 
off. It seemed, indeed, as if they would devour us 
carry us. away piecemeal, in their small tormenting 
mouths. 

A lonelier spot, or one more disagreeable, than the 
centre of the " Big Cane Brake, it would be difficult 
to conceive ; yet to me it was a paradise, in compari 
son wirh any other place in the company of Master 
Tibcats. I labored hard, and oft-times was weary and 
fatigued, yet I could lie down at night in peace, and 
arise in the morning without fear. 

In the course of a fortnight, four black girls came 
down from Eldrefs plantation Charlotte, Fanny, 
Cresici and I\elly. They were all large and stout. 
Axes were put. into their hands, and they were sent 



15G TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

out with Sam and myself to cut trees. They were 
excellent choppers, the largest oak or sycamore stand 
ing but a brief season before their heavy and well- 
directed blows. At piling logs, they were equal to 
any man. There are lumberwomen as well as lum 
bermen in the forests of the South. In fact, in the 
region of the Bayou Boeuf they perform their share of 
all the labor required on the plantation. They plough, 
drag, drive team, clear wild lands, work on the high 
way, and so forth. Some planters, owning large cot 
ton and sugar plantations, have none oilier than tho 
\ labor of slave women." 1 Such an one is Jim Burn-;, 
who lives on the north shore of the bayon, opposite 
the plantation of John Fogaman. 

On our arrival in the brake, Elclrct promised me, 
if I worked well, I might go up to visit my friends at 
Ford s in four weeks. On Saturday night of the fifth 
week, I reminded him of his promise, when he told 
me I had done so well, that I might go. I had set 
my heart upon it, and Eldret\s announcement thrilled 
me with pleasure. I was to return in time to com 
mence the labors of the day on Tuesday morning. 

While indulging the pleasant anticipation of so soon 
meeting my old friends again, suddenly the hateful 
form of Tibeats appeared among us. lie inquired 
how Myers and Platt got along together, and was 
told, very well, and that Platt wa.s going up to Ford s 
plantation in the morning on a visit. 

" Poh, poh ! " sneered Tibeats ; " it isn t worth while 
the nigger will get unsteady. He can t go." 



TllEA-niENT OF TIEEATS. 157 

But Eldrct insisted I had worked faithfully that 
lie had given me his promise, and that, under the cir 
cumstances, I ought rot to be disappointed. Ihoy 
then, it being about dark, entered one cabin and 1 
the other. I could not give up the idea of going ; it 
was a sore disappointment. Before morning I resolved, 
if Eldret made no objection, to leave at all hazards. 
At daylight I was at his door, with my blanket rolled 
up into a bundle, and hanging on a stick over my 
shoulder, waiting for a pass. Tibeats came out pre 
sently in one of his disagreeable moods, washed his 
face, and going to a stump near by, sat down upon it, 
apparently busily thinking with himself. After stand 
ing there a long time, impelled by a sudden impulse 
of impatience, I started oil . 

Are you going without a pass ? " he cried out 
to me. 

Ci Yes, master, I thought I would," I answered. 

u How do you think you ll get there ? " demanded 
lie. 

" Don t know," was all the reply I made him. 

You d be taken and sent to jail, where you ought 
to he, before you got half- way there," he added, pass 
ing into the cabin as he said it. lie came out soon 
\vil"h the pass in his hand, and calling me a " d dm" 2;- 

J. O *._; 

gei 1 that deserved a hundred lashes," threw it on the 
ground. I picked it up, and hurried away right 
tpeedily. 

A slave caught off his master s plantation without 

o -1 

JL pass, may he scizod and whipped by any white man 



153 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

whom he meets. The one I now received was dated, 
and read as follows : 

" Platt- has permission to go to Ford s plantation, 
on Bayou Boeuf, and retir. :; by Tuesday morning. 

JOHX T\I. TIBEATS." 

This is the usual form. On the way, a great many 
demanded it, read it, ar/i passed on. Those having 
the air and appearance 01 gentlemen, whose dress 
indicated the possession of wealth, frequently took no 
notice of me whatever ; but a shabby fellow, an un 
mistakable loafer, never failed to hail me, and to 
scrutinize and examine me in the most thorough man 
ner. Catching runaways is sometimes a money-mak 
ing business. If, after advertising, no owner appears, 
they may be sold to the highest bidder ; and certain 
fees are allowed the finder for his services, at all 
events, even if reclaimed. "A mean white," there 
fore, a name applied to the species loafer con 
siders it a god-send to meet an unknown negro with 
out a pas.:. 

There r > no inns along the higlnvr; ; in that por 
tion of tiie btate where I sojourned. 1 was wholly 
destitute of money, neither did I carry any provision?, 
on my journey from the Big Cane to Bayou Bceuf ; 
nevertheless, with his pass in his hnu l, a slave need 
never suffer from hunger or from thirst. It is only 
necessary to present it to the master or overseer of a 
plantation, and state his wants, when lie will be sent 
round to the kitchen and provided with food or shel 
ter, a 3 the case may require. The traveler stops at 



VISIT TO BAYOU BCEUF. 159 

any house and calls for a meal with as much freedom 
M:s if it was a public tavern. It is the general custom 

J- o 

of the country. Yliatever their faults may be, it is 
certain the inhabitants along Tied River, and around 
tiie bayous in the . .l^rior of Louisiana are not want- 
in i;- in hospitality. 

I arrived at Ford s plantation towards the close of 
the afternoon, ..assing the evening in Eliza s cabin, 
whhLawson, Tlachel, and others of my acquaintance. 
Vriicn we left "Washington Eliza s form was round and 
plump. She stood erect, and in her silks and jewels, 
presented a picture of graceful strength and elegance. 
Xow she was but a thin shadow of her former self. 
Her face had become ghastly haggard, and the once- 
r;raight and active form was bowed down, as if bear 
ing the weight of a hundred years. Crouching on her 
cabin iloor, and clad in the coarse garments of a slave, 
old ElUha Eerrv would not have recognized the moth- 

tj O 

erofh s child. I never saw her afterwards. Having 
become m-elcf-s in the cotton-field, she was bartered 
f ! a trifle, to some man residing in the vicinity of 
i\ :er Comptoirs. Grief had gnawed remorselessly at 
hoi 1 heart, until her strength was gone ; and for that, 
her last master, it is said, lashed and abused her most 
unmercifully. But he could not whip back the de 
parted vigor of her youth, nor straighten up that bend 
ed body t:.s its full height, such as it was when her 
children were around her, and the light of freedom 
was shining on her path. 

I learned the particulars relative to her departure 



1GO TWELVE YEAKS A SLAVE. 

from tliis world, from sonic of Compton s slaves, who 
Lad come over Keel Ilivcr to the "bayou, to assist 
young Madam Tanner during the " busy season." 
She "became at length, they said, utterly helpless, for 
several weeks lying on the ground floor in a dilapida 
ted cabin, dependent upon the mercy of her fellow- 
thralls for an occasional drop of water, and a morsel 
of food. Her master did not " knock her on the 
head," as is sometimes done to put a suffering animal 
out of misery, hut left her unprovided for, and unpro 
tected, to linger through a life of pain and wretched 
ness to its natural close. "When the hands returned 
from the field one night they found her dead ! Du 
ring the day, the Angel of the Lord, who movetli in 
visibly over all the earth, gathering in his harvest of 
departing souls, had silently entered the cabin of the 
dying woman, and taken her from thence. She was 
free at last ! 

Xext day, rolling up my blanket, I started on my 
return to the Big Cane. After traveling five miles, 
at a place called Huff Power, the ever-present Tibe- 
ats met me in the road. He inquired why I was go 
ing back so soon, and when informed I was anxious 
to return by the time I was directed, he said I need 
go no farther than the next plantation, as he had that 
day sold me to Edwin Epps. Yfe walked, down into 
the yard, where we met the latter gentleman, who ex 
amined me, and asked me the usual questions pro 
pounded by purchasers. Having been duly delivered 
over, I was ordered to the quarters, and at the same 



SALE TO EDWIN E.PPS. 161 

time directed to make a- hoe and axe handle for my 
self. 

I was now no longer the property of Tibeats his 
dog, his brute, dreading his wrath and cruelty day 
and night ; and whoever or whatever my new master 
might prove to be, I could not, certainly, regret the 
change. So it was good news when the sale was an 
nounced, and with a sigh of relief I sat down for the 
first time in my new abode. 

Tibeats soon after disappeared from that section of 
the country. Once afterwards, and only once, I 
caught a glimpse of him. It was many miles from 
Bayou Bcsuf. He was seated in the doorway of a 
low groggcry. I was passing, in a drove of slaves,, 

through St. Mary s parish. 

n 



CHAPTER XII. 



PERSONAL APIEARANCE OF FTPS F.PPP, DRUNK AND SOBER A GLIMPSE 

OF HIS HISTORY COTTON GROOVING THE MODE OF PLOUGHING AND 

PREPARING GROUND OF PLANTING OF HOEING, OF PICKING, OF TREAT 
ING RAW HANDS TIL -: DIFFERENCE IN COTTON PICKERS PATSEY A 

EEMARKACLE ONE TASKED ACCORDING TO ABILITY BEAUTY OF A 

COTTON FIELD THE SLAVE S LABORS FEAR ON APPROACHING THE GIN- 

HOL SE WEIGHING "CHORES " CABIN LIFE THE CORN MILL 

THE USES OF THE GOURD FEAR OF OVERSLEEPING FEAR CONTINUAL 
LY MODE OF CULTIVATING CORN SWEET POTATOES FERTILITY OF 

THE SOIL -J^TTENING HOGS PRESERVING BACON RAISING CATTLE 

SHOOTING-MATCHES GARDEN PRODUCTS FLOWERS AND VERDURE. 



EDWIN EPPS, of whom much will be said during 
the remainder of tins history, is a large, portly, heavy- 
bodied mail with light hair, high cheek bones, and a 
Homan iiosc of extraordinary dimensions. He has 
blue eyes, a fair complexion, and is, as I should say, 
full six feet high. He has the sharp, inquisitive ex 
pression of a jockey. His manners are repulsive 
and coarse, and his language gives speedy and une 
quivocal evidence that he has never enjoyed the ad 
vantages of an education. He has the faculty of 
saying most provoking thing , in that respect even 
excelling old Peter Tanner. At the time I came into 
Ms possession, Edwin Epps was fond of the bottle, his 



HABITS OF EDWIN EPFS. 163 

sometimes extending over the space of two 
whole week.-. Latterly, however, he had reformed 

s habit?. mid when I left him, was as strict a speci- 
]\] en of temperance as could be found on Bayou 
In^uf. AY lien " in his cups," blaster Epps was a roys- 
lering, blustering, noisy fellow, whose chief delight 
was in dancing with his u niggers/ or lashing them 
about the yard with Iiis long whip, just for the pleas 
ure of hearing them screech and scream, as the great 
welts were planted on their backs. When sober, he 
was silent, reserved and cunning, not beating us in 
discriminately, a; in his drunken moments, but send- 
r.iy the end of Iris rawhide to some tender spot of :i 
lagging slave, W L!I a sly dexterity peculiar to himsch. 

lie had been a driver and overseer in his younger 
years, but at this time was in possession of a planta 
tion on Bayou Unif Power, two and a half miles from 
Kohnesville, eighteen from, liarksvilie, and twelve 
from Cheney ville. It belonged to Joseph B. Roberts, 
]iis wife":; uncle, and was leased by Epps. His prin 
cipal business was raiding cotton, and inasmuch as 
some may read this book who have never seen a cot- 
t(v- field, a description of the manner of its culture 
i not be out of place. 

lie ground is prepared by throwing up beds or 

;ges, with the plough back-furrowing, it is called. 
Oxen and mules, the latter almost exclusively, are 
used in ploughing. The women as frequently as the 
men perform this labor, feeding, currying, and ta 
king care of their teams, and in all respects doing tko 



16 i TWELVE TEARS A SLAVE. 

field and stable work, precisely as do the ploughboyg 
of the North. 

The beds, or ridges, are six feet wide, that is, from 
water furrow to water furrow. A plough drawn 1-v 
one mnle is then run along the top of the ridge or 
center of the bed, making the drill, into which a girl 
usually drops the seed, which she carries in a bag 
hnng round her neck. Behind her comes a mule 
and harrow, covering up the seed, so that two mule. , 
three slaves, a plough and harrow, are employed 
in planting a row of cotton. This is done in the 
months of March and April. Corn is planted in Feb 
ruary. "When there are no cold rains, the cotton n>;i- 
ally makes its appearance in a week. In the conr^ 
of eight or ten days afterwards the first hoeing is 
commenced. This is performed in part, also, by tho 
aid of the plough and mnle. The plough pas--.es as 
near as possible to the cotton on both sides, throw 
ing the furrow from it. Slaves follow with their hoe^, 
cutting up the grass and cotton, leaving hills two foot 
and a half apart. This is called scraping cotton. In 
two weeks more commences the second hoeing. 
This time the furrow is thrown towards the cotton. 
Only one stalk, the largest, is now left standinr.>; in 
each hill. In another fortnight it is hoed the third 
time, throwing the furrow towards the cotton in the 
same manner as before, and killing all the grass be 
tween the rows. About the first of July, when it is 
a foot high or thereabouts, it is hoed the fourth and 
last time. JSTow the whole space between the rows 



COTTON GROWING. 165 

is ploughed, leaving a deep water furrow in the center. 
During all these hoeings the overseer or driver 
fallows the slaves on horseback with a whip, such as 
luts been described. The fastest hoer takes the lead 
row. lie is usually about a rod in advance of his 
companions. If one of them passes him, he is whip- 
]>L"I. If one foils behind or is a moment idle, he is 
whipped. In fact, the lash is flying from morning 
until night, the whole day long. The hoeing season 
thus continues from April until July, a field having 
no sooner been finished once, than it is commenced 



In the hitter part of August begins the cotton pick 
ing season. At this time each slave is presented 
with a sack. A strap is fastened to it, which goes 
over the neck, holclin^ the mouth of the sack breast 

O 

high, while the bottom reaches nearly to the ground. 
Each one is also presented with a large basket that 
will hold about two barrels. This is to put the cotton 
in when the sack is filled. The baskets are carried 
to the field and placed at the beginning of the rows. 
TVlien a new hand, one unaccustomed to the busi 
ness, is sent for the first time into the field, he is 
whipped up smartly, and made for that day to pick 
as fast as he can possibly. At night it is weighed, 
so that his capability* in cotton picking is known. 
Ic must bring in the same weight each night follow 
ing. If it fails short, it is considered evidence that 
lie has been laggard, and a greater or less number 
of Liihoo is the penalty. 



166 TWELVE YEARS A SLAY! . 

An ordinary day s work is two hundred pound-. 
A slave who is accustomed to picking, is punished, 
if he or she brings in a less quantity than that. 
There is a great difference ainonp 1 them as re ^rds 

o o 

this kind of labor. Some of them seem to have a 
natural knack, or quickness, which enables them to 
pick with great celerity, and witli both hands, while 
others, with, whatever practice or industry, are utterly 
unable to come up to the ordinary standard. Such 
hands are taken from the cotton lield and employed 
in other business. Fatsey, of whom I shall have 
more to say, was known as the most remarkable cot 
ton picker on Day on Bcenf. She picked with both 
hands and with such surprising rapidity., that live 
hundred pounds a day was not unusual for lie:-. 

Each one is tasked, therefore, according to his 
picking abilities, none, however, to come short of two 
hundred weight. I, being unskillful always in "hat 
business, would have satisfied my master by bringing 
in the latter quantity, while on the other hand, IV. L- 
sey would surely have been beaten if she failed to 
produce twice as much. 

The cotton grows from five to seven feet high, each 
stalk having a great many branches, shooting out in 
all directions, and lapping each other above the wa 
ter furrow. 

There are few sights more pleasant lo the eve, 
than a wide cotton field when it is in the bloom. It 
presents an appearance of purity, like an immaculaio 
expanse of light, new-fall c-n snow. 



COTTON PICKING. 167 

Sometimes the slave picks clown one side of a row, 
and back upon tlie other, but more usually, there id 
one on either side, gathering all that has blossomed, 
leaving the unopened boils for a succeeding picking. 
When the sack is lillcd, it is emptied into the basket and 
trodden down. It is necessary to be extremely care- 
lid the first time going through the field, in order not 
to break the branches off the stalks. The cotton 
will not bloom upon a broken branch. Epps never 
fill led to inflict the severest chastisement on the un 
lucky servant who, either carelessly or unavoidably, 
was guilty in the least degree in this respect. 

The hands are required to be in the cotton field as 
soon as it is light in the morning, and, with the ex 
ception of ten or fifteen minutes, which is given them 
at noon to swallow their allowance of cold bacon, 
they are not permitted to be a moment idle until it 
is too dark to see, and when the moon is full, they 
often times labor till the middle of the night. They 
d-i not dare to stop even at dinner time, nor return 
t the quarters, however late it be, until the order to 
halt is given by the driver. 

The day s work over in the Held, the baskets arc 
" toted. or in other words, carried to the gin-house, 
where the cotton is weighed. Xo matter how fa- 

O 

tigr.cd and weary he may be no matter how much 
he l^iigs for sleep and. rest a slave never approaches 
the gin-house with his basket of cotton but with fear. 
If it iaUs short in weight if he has not performed 
the full task appointed him, he knows that he muct 



16 S TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

suffer. And if lie lias exceeded it by ten or twenty 
pounds, in all probability his master w r ill measure tlie 
next day s task accordingly. So, whether he has too 
little or too much, his approach to the gin-house is 
always with fear and trembling. Most frequently 
they have too little, and therefore it is they are not 
anxious to leave the field. After weighing, follow the 
whippings ; and then the baskets are carried to the 
cotton house, and their contents stored away like hay, 
all hands being sent in to tramp it down. If the cot 
ton is not dry, instead of taking it to the gin-house 
at once, it is laid upon platforms, two feet high, and 
some three times as wide, covered with boards or 
plank, with narrow walks running between them. 

This done, the labor of the day is not yet ended, by 
any means. Each one must then attend to his re 
spective chores. One feeds the mules, another the 
swine another cuts the wood, and so forth; besides, 
the packing is all done by candle light. Finally, at 
a late hour, they reach the quarters, sleepy and over 
come with the long day s toil. Then a fire must bo 
kindled in the cabin, the corn ground in the small 
hand-mill, and suppe2\ and dinner for the next day in 
the field, prepare-!. All that is allowed them is corn 
and bacon, which is given out at the corn crib and 
;--moke-house every Sunday morning Each one re 
ceives, as his weekly allowance, three and a half 
pounds of bacon, and corn enough to make a peck of 
meal. That is all no tea, coffee, sugar, and with 
the exception of a very scanty sprinkling now aii .l 



CABKS LIFE. 

then, no salt. I can say, from a ten years residence 
with Master Epps, that no slave of his is ever likely 
to suffer from the gout, superinduced by excessive 
high living. Master Epps hogs were fed on shelled 
corn it was thrown out to his "niggers" in the 
car. The former, he thought, would fatten faster by 
shelling, and soaking it in the water the latter, 
perhaps, if treated in the same manner, might grow 

00 fat to labor. Master Epps was a shrewd cal- 
.ilator, and knew how to manage his own animals, 

Irunk or sober. 

The corn mill stands in the yard beneath a shelter. 

1 is like a common coffee mill, the hopper holding 
.bout six quarts. There- was one privilege which 
Master Epps granted freely to every slave he had. 
ihey might grind their corn nightly, in such small 
quantities as their daily wants required, or they 
might grind the whole week s allowance at one time, 
on Sundays, just as they preferred. A very gener- 
ou3 man was Master Epps ! 

I kept my corn in a small wooden box, the meal in 
a gourd : and, by the way, the gourd is one of the 
most convenient and necessary utensils on a planta 
tion. Besides supplying the place of all kinds of 
crockery in a slave cabin, it is used for carrying 
water to the fields. Another, also, contains the din 
ner. It dispenses w r ith the necessity of pails, dippers, 
basins, and such tin and wooden superfluities alto 
gether. 

When the corn is ground, and fire h made, the 

li 



170 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 



bacon is trken doW^i from the nail on which it hangs, 
a slice cut off and thrown upon the coals to broil. 
The majority of slaves have no knife, much less a 
fork. They cut their bacon with the axe at the wood 
pile. The corn meal is mixed with a little water, 
placed in the fire, and baked. When it is "done 
brown," the ashes are scraped off, and being placed 
upon a chip, which answers for a table, the tenant of 
the slave hut is ready to sit down upon the ground to 
supper. By this time it is usually midnight. Tho 
same fear of punishment with which they approach 
the gin-house, possesses them again on lying down to 
get a snatch of rest. It is the fear of oversleeping in 
the morning. Such an offence w r ould certainly bo 
attended with not less than twenty lashes. With a 
prayer that he may be on his feet and wide awake at 
the first sound of the horn, he sinks to his slumbers 
nightly. 

The softest couches in the w r oiid are not to be found 
in the log mansion of the slave. The one whereon I 
reclined year after year, was a plank twelve inches 
wide and ten feet long. My pillow was a stick of 
wood. The bedding was a coarse blanket, and not a 
rag or shred beside. Moss might be used, were it not 
that it directly breeds a swarm of fleas. 

The cabin is constructed of logs, without floor or 
window. The latter is altogether unnecessary, the 
crevices between the logs admitting sufficient light. 
In stormy weather the rain drives through them, 
rendering it comfortless and extremely disagreeable. 



THI-: SLAVICS LABOES. 171 

The rude door hangs on great wooden hinr:-::. In one 
end is constructed an awkward fire-place. 

An hour before day light the horn is blown. Then 
the slaves arouse, prepare their breakfa-;, fill a gourd 
with water, in another deposit their dinner of cold 
bacon ai:d corn cake, and hurry to the field again. 
It is an Oifouce invariably followed by a Hogging, to 
be found at the quarters after daybreak. Then the 
foars and labors of another day begin ; and until its 
close there is no such thing as rest. lie fears lie will 
be caught lagging through the day; he foars to 
approach the gin-house with his basket-load of cotton 
at night; lie foars, when lie lies down, that he will 
oversleep himself in the morning. Such is n, true, 
faithful, uiiexaggerated picture and description of 
the slave s daily life, during the time of cotton-pick 
ing, on the shores of Eayon Bomf. 

In the month of January, generally, the fourth and 
last picking i:- < :. pitted. Then commences the har 
vesting of con:. Ikis is considered a secondary crop, 
nnd receives foj less attention than the cotton. It is 
planted, as already mentioned, in February. Corn is 
grown in that region for the purpose of fattening 
hogs and feeding slaves ; very little, if any, being sent 
to market. It is the white variety, the ear of great 
size, and the stalk growing to the height of eight, 
and often times ten feet. In August the leaves are 
stripped off, dried in the sun, bound in small bundles, 
and stored away as provender for the mules and oxen. 
After this the slaves go through the field, turning 



172 TWilLVii Yj^ilvri A SLAVE. 

down the ear, for the purpose of keeping the rains 
from penetrating to the grain. It is left in this condi 
tion until after cotton-picking is over, whether earlier 
or later. Then the ears are separated from the stalks, 
and deposited in the corncrib with the husks on : 
otherwise, stripped of the husks, the weevil wouLl 
destroy it. The stalks are left standing in the ficl<;. 

The Carolina, or sweet potato, is also grown in thai; 
region to some extent. They are not fed, however, 
to hogs or cattle, and are considered but of small im 
portance. They are preserved by placing them upon 
the surface of the ground, with a slight covering of 
earth or cornstalks. There is not a cellar on Bayou 
Boeuf. The ground is so low it would fill with water. 
Potatoes are worth from two to three "bits," or 
shillings a barrel ; corn, except when there is an 
unusual scarcity, can be purchased at the same rate. 

As soon as the cotton and corn crops are secure*], 
the stalks are pulled up, thrown into piles and burne< . 
The ploughs are started at the same time, thrown] ; 
up the beds again, preparatory to another planting. 
The soil, in the parishes of Rapides and Avoyelles, 
and throughout the whole country, so far as my obser 
vation extended, is of exceeding richness and fertility. 
It is a kind of marl, of a brown or reddish color. It 
does not require those invigorating composts neces 
sary to more barren lands, and on the same field the 
same crop is grown for many successive years. 

Ploughing, planting, picking cotton, gathering the 
corn, and pulling and burning stalks, occupies the 



PRESERVING BACON. 175 

whole of the four seasons of the year. Drawing and 
cutting wood, pressing cotton, fattening and killing 
hogs, are but incidental labors. 

In the month of September or October, the hogs 
are run out of the swamps by dogs, and confined in 
pens. On a cold morning, generally about ISTew 
Year s day, they are slaughtered. Each carcass is 
cut into six parts, and piled one above the other in 
salt, upon large tables in the smoke-house. In this 
condition it remains a fortnight, when it is hung up, 
and a fire built, and continued more than half the 
time during the remainder of the year. This thorough 
smoking is necessary to prevent the bacon from be 
coming infested with worms. In so warm a climate 
it is difficult to preserve it, and very many times my 
self and my companions have received our weekly 
allowance of three pounds and a half, when it was 
full of these disgusting vermin. 

Although the swamps are overrun with cattle, they 
are never made the source of profit, to any considera 
ble extent. The planter cuts his mark upon the ear, 
or brands his initials upon the side, and turns them 
into the swamps, to roam unrestricted within their 
almost limitless confines. They are the Spanish breed, 
small and spike-horned. I have known of droves 
being taken from Bayou Bceuf, but it is of very rare 
occurrence. The value of the best cows is about five 
dollars each. Two quarts at one milking, would be 
considered an unusual large quantity. They furnish 
little tallow, and that of a soft, inferior quality. Not- 



174: TWELVE YEAKS A SLATE. 

withstanding the great number of cows that throng 
the swamps, the planters are indebted to the !N"orth 
for their cheese and butter, which is purchased in the 
New-Orleans market. Salted beef is not an article of 
food cither in the great house, or in the cabin. 

Master Epps was accustomed to attend si rooting 
matches for the purpose of obtaining what fresh beef 
he required. These sports occurred weekly at the 
neighboring village of Holmesville. Fat beeves are 
driven thither and shot at, a stipulated price being 
demanded for the privilege. The lucky marksman 
divides the flesh among his fellows, and in this man 
ner the attending planters are supplied. 

The great number of tame and untamed cattle 
which swarm the woods and swamps of Bayou Beenf, 
most probably suggested that appellation to the 
French, inasmuch as the term, translated, signifies the 
creek or river of the wild ox. 

Garden products, such as cabbages, turnips and the 
like, are cultivated for the use of the master and his 
family. They have greens and vegetables at all times 
and seasons of the year. "The grass withereth and 
the flower fadeth" before the desolating winds of au 
tumn in the chill northern latitudes, but perpetual 
verdure overspreads the hot lowlands, and fiower.3 
bloom in the heart of winter, in the region of Bayou 
Boeuf. 

There are no meadows appropriated to the cultiva 
tion of the grasses. The leaves of the corn supply a 
sufficiency of food for the laboring cattle, while the 



LIFE AT THE SOUTH. 175 

rest provide for themselves all the year in the ever- 
growing pasture. 

There are many other peculiarities of climate, 
habit, custom, and of the manner of living and labor 
ing at the South, but the foregoing, it is supposed, 
will give the reader an insight and general idea of 
life on a cotton plantation in Louisiana. The mode 
of cultivating can*?, and the process of sugar manu 
facturing, will be mentioned in another place. 



CHAPTER XIII 

TIIECURIOT78 AXE-IiELVE SYMPTOMS OF APPROACHING ILLNESS CON7INI T 

TO DECLINE THE WHIP INEFFECTUAL CONFINED TO THE CABIN VISIT 

BY DR. WINES PARTIAL RECOVERY FAILURE AT COTTON PICKING - 

WHAT MAY BE HEARD ON EPPS* PLANTATION LASHES GRADUATED EPPO 

IN A WHIPPING MOOD EPPS IN A DANCING MOOD DESCRIPTION OF TII3 

DANCE LOSS OF REST NO EXCUSE EPPS CHARACTERISTICS JIM BURNS 

REMOVAL- FROM HUFF POWER TO BAYOU BCEUF DESCRIPTION OF UNCLK 

ABRAM; OF W T ILEY; OF AUNT PHEBE; OF BOB, HENRY, AND EDWARD; oir 
PATSEY; W T ITH A GENEALOGICAL ACCOUNT OF EACH SOMETHING OF THEIR 

FAST HISTORY, AND PECULIAR CHARACTERISTICS JEALOUSY AND LUST 

PATSEY, THE VICTIM. 

ON my arrival at Master Epps 7 , in obedience to his 
order, the first business upon which I entered was the 
making of an axe-helve. The handles in use there 
are simply a round, straight stick. I made a crooked 
one, shaped like those to which I had been accustom 
ed at the North. When finished, and presented to 
Epps, he looked at it with astonishment, unable to 
determine. exactly what it was. He had never before 
Been such a handle, and when I explained its conveni 
ences, he was forcibly struck with the novelty of the 
idea. He kept it in the house a long time, and when his 
friends called, was wont to exhibit it as a curiosity. 

It was now the season of hoeing. I was first sent 



APPROACHING ILLNESS. 177 

into the corn-field, and afterwards set to scraping cot 
ton. In tins employment I remained until hoeing 
time was nearly passed, when I began to experience 
the symptoms of approaching illness. I was attacked 
with chills, which were succeeded by a burning fever. 
I became weak and emaciated, and frequently so diz 
zy that it caused me to reel and stagger like a drunk 
en man. ^Nevertheless, I was compelled to keep up 
my row. When in health I found little difficulty in 
keeping pace with my fellow-laborers, but now it 
seemed to be an utter impossibility. Often I fell be 
hind, when the driver s lash was sure to greet my 
back, infusing into my sick and drooping body a little 
temporary energy. I continued to decline until at 
length the whip became entirely ineffectual. The 
sharpest sting of the rawhide could not arouse me. 
Finally, in September, when the busy season of cotton 
picking was at hand, I was unable to leave my cabin. 
Up to this time I had received no medicine, nor any 
attention from my master or mistress. The old cook 
visited me occasionally, preparing me corn-coffee, and 
sometimes boiling a bit of bacon, when I had grown 
too feeble to accomplish it myself. 

When it was said that I would die, Master Epps, 
unwilling to bear the loss, which the death of an ani 
mal worth a thousand dollars would bring upon him, 
concluded to incur the expense of sending to Ilolmes- 
ville for Dr. "JSTines. He announced to Epps that it 
was the effect of the climate, and there was a proba 
bility of his losing me. He directed me to eat no 
JT* 12 



178 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

meat, and to partake of no more food than was abso 
lutely necessary to sustain life. Several weeks elaps 
ed, during which time, under the scanty diet to which 
I was subjected, I had partially recovered. One 
morning, long before I was in a proper condition to 
labor, Epps appeared at the cabin door, and, present 
ing me a sack, ordered me to the cotton field. At this 
time I had had no experience whatever in cotton pick 
ing. It was an awkward business indeed. "Y/liile 
others used both hands, snatching the cotton and de 
positing it in the mouth of the sack, with a precision 
and dexterity that w^as incomprehensible to mo, I 
had to seize the boll with one hand, and deliberately 
draw out the white, gushing blossom with the other. 
Depositing the cotton in the sack, moreover, was a 
difficulty that demanded the exercise of both hands 
and eyes. I was compelled to pick it from the ground 
where it would fall, nearly as often as from the stalk 
where it had grown. I made havoc also with the 
branches, loaded with the yet unbroken bolls, the 
long, cumbersome sack swinging from side to side in 
a manner not allowable in the cotton field. After a 
most laborious day I arrived at the gin-house with my 
load. When the scale determined its weight to be 
only ninety-five pounds, not half the quantity required 
of the poorest picker, Epps threatened the severest 
flogging, but in consideration of my being a " raw 
hand," concluded to pardon me 011 that occasion, 
The following day, and many days succeeding, I re 
turned at night with no better success I was evi- 



L ASHES GRADUATED. 170 

denth not designed for that kind of labor. I had not 
the gift the dexterous lingers and quick motion of 
Patscy, who could fly along one side of a row of cot 
ton, stripping it of its undefiled and fleecy whiteness 
miraculously fast. Practice and whipping were alike 
unavailing, and Epps, satisfied of it at last, swore I was 
a disgrace that I was not fit to associate with a cot 
ton-picking "nigger" that I could not pick enough 
in a day to pay the trouble of weighing it, and that I 
should go into the cotton field no more. I was, now 
employed in cutting and hauling wood, drawing cot 
ton from the field to the gin-house, and performed 
whatever other service was required. Suffice to say, 
I was never permitted to be idle. 

It was rarely that a day passed- by without one or 
more whippings. This occurred at the time the cot 
ton was weighed. The delinquent, whose weight had 
fallen short, was taken out, stripped, made to lie upon 
the ground, face downwards, when he received a pun- 
iVnment proportioned to his offence. It is the literal, 
unvarnished truth, that the crack of the lash, and 
the shrieking of the slaves, can be heard from dark 
till bod time, on Epps plantation, any day almost 
during the entire period of the cotton-picking season. 

The number of lashes is graduated according to the 
nature of the case. Twenty-five are deemed a mere 
brush, inflicted, for instance, when a dry leaf or piece 
of boll is found in the cotton, or when a branch is 
broken in the field ; fifty is the ordinary penalty fol 
lowing all delinquencies of the next higher grade ; one 



180 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

hundred is called severe: it is the punishment inflict 
ed for the serious offence of standing idle in the field ; 
from one hundred and fifty to two hundred is bestow 
ed upon him who quarrels with his cabin-mates, and 
five hundred, well laid on, besides the mangling of 
the dogs, perhaps, is certain to consign the poor, un- 
pitied runaway to weeks of pain and agony. 

During the two years Epps remained 011 the plan 
tation at Bayou Huff Power, he was in the habit, as 
often as once in a fortnight at least, of coming home 
intoxicated from Ilolmesville. The shooting-matches 
almost invariably concluded with a debauch. At such 
times he was boisterous and half-crazy. Often lie 
would break the dishes, chairs, and whatever furni 
ture he could lay his hands on. When satisfied with 
his amusement in the house, he would seize the whip 
and walk forth into the yard. Then it behooved tho 
slaves to be watchful and exceeding wary. The first 
one who came within reach felt the smart of his lash. 
Sometimes for hours he would keep them running in 
all directions, dodging around the corners of the cab 
ins. Occasionally he would come upon one unawares, 
and if he succeeded in inflicting a fair, round blow, it 
was a feat that much delighted him. The -younger 
children, and the aged, who had become inactive, 
suffered then. In the midst of the confusion he would 
slily take his stand-behind a cabin, waiting with rais 
ed whip, to dash it into the first black face that peep 
ed cautiously around the corner. 

At other times he would come home in a less brutal 



Errs IX A DANCING MOOD. 181 

humor. Then there must he a merry-making. Then 
all must move to the measure of a tune. Then Mas 
ter Epps must needs regale Iris melodious ears with 
the music of a fiddle. Then did he become buoyant, 
elastic, gaily " tripping the light fantastic toe" around 
the piazza and all through, the house. 

JL 

Til) eats, at the time of my sale, had informed 
him I could play on the violin. He had receiv 
ed his information from Ford. Through the im 
portunities of Mistress Epps, her husband had been in 
duced to purchase me one during a visit to Xew-Or- 
leans. Frequently I was called into the house to play 
before the family, mistress being passionately fond of 
music. 

All of us would be assembled in the large room of 
the great house, whenever Epps came home in one of 
his dancing moods. Xo matter how worn out and 
tired we were, there must be a general dance. AVhen 
properly stationed on the floor, I would strike up a tune. 

^ Dance, you d cl niggers, dance," Epps would 
shout. 

Then there must be no halting or delay, no slow or 
languid movements ; all must be brisk, and lively, 
and alert. " Up and down, heel and toe, and away 
we go," was the order of the hour. Epps portly form 
mingled with those of his dusky slaves, moving rap 
idly through all the mazes of the dance. 

Usually his whip was in his hand, ready to fall 
about the ears of the presumptuous thrall, who dared 
to rest a moment, or even stop to catcli his breath. 



182 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

When lie was himself exhausted, there would be a 
brief cessation, but it would be very brief. With a 
slash, and crack, and flourish of the whip, he would 
shout again, " Dance, niggers, dance," and away they 
would go once more, pell-mell, while I, spurred by an 
occasional sharp touch of the lash, sat in a corner, ex 
tracting from my violin a marvelous quick-stepping 
tune. The mistress often upbraided him, declaring 
she would return to her father s house at Cheney ville ; 
nevertheless, there were times she could not restrain 
a burst of laughter, on witnessing his uproarious 
pranks. Frequently, we were thus detained until al 
most morning. Bent with excessive toil actually 
suffering for a little refreshing rest, and feeling rather 
as if we could cast ourselves upon the earth and weep, 
many a night in the house of Edwin Epps have his 
unhappy slaves been made to dance and laugh. 

Notwithstanding these deprivations in order to grat 
ify the w T him of an unreasonable master, we had to 
be in the field as soon as it was light, and during the 
day perform the ordinary and accustomed task. Such 
deprivations could not be urged at the scales in exten 
uation of any lack of weight, or in the cornfield for 
not hoeing with the usual rapidity. The whippings 
were just as severe as if we had gone forth in the 
morning, strengthened and invigorated by a night s 
repose. Indeed, after such frantic revels, he was 
always more sour and savage than before, punishing 
for slighter causes, and using the whip with increased 
and more vindictive energy. 



CHARACTER OF EPPS. 183 

Ten years I toiled for that man without reward. 

Ten years of my incessant labor has contributed to 
increase the bulk of his possessions. Ten years I was 
compelled to address him with down-cast eyes and 
uncovered head in the attitude and language of a 
slave. I am indebted to him for nothing, save unde 
served abuse and stripes. 

Beyond the reach of his inhuman thong, and stand 
ing on the soil of the free State where I was born, 
thanks be to Heaven, I can raise my head once more 
among men. I can speak of the wrongs I have suf 
fered, and of those who inflicted them, with upraised 
eye.--. But I have no desire to speak of him or any 
other one otherwise than truthfully. Yet to speak 
truthfully of Edwin Epps would be to say he is a 
man in whose heart the quality of kindness or of jus 
tice is not found. A rough, rude energy, united with 
mi uncultivated mind and an avaricious spirit, are his 
prominent characteristics. He is known as a " nigger 
breaker," distinguished for his faculty of subduing the 
spirit of the slave, and priding himself upon his repu 
tation in this respect, as a jockey boasts of his skill in 
managing a refractory horse. lie looked upon a col 
ored man, not as a human being, responsible to his Crea 
tor for the small talent entrusted to him, but as a " chat 
tel personal," as mere live property, no better, except 
in value, than his mule or dog. When the evidence, 
clear and indisputable, was laid before him that I was 
a free man, and as much entitled to my liberty as he 
when, on the day I left, lie was informed that I 



184: TWELVE YEAJES A SLAVE. 

had a wife and children, as dear to me as his own 
babes to him, he only raved and swore, denouncing 
the law that tore me from him, and declaring ho 
would find out the man who had forwarded the letter 
that disclosed the place of rny captivity, if there was 
any virtue or power in money, and would take his 
life. He thought of nothing but his loss, and cursed 
me for having been born free. lie could have stood 
unmoved and seen the tongues of his poor slaves 
torn out by the roots -he could have seen them 
burned to ashes over a slow fire, or gnawed to death 
by dogs, if it only brought him profit. Such a hard, 
cruel, unjust man is Edwin Epps. 

There was but one greater savage on Bayou Bceuf 
than he. Jim Burns plantation was cultivated, as 
already mentioned, exclusively by women. That 
barbarian kept their backs so sore and raw, that they 
could not perform the customary labor demanded 
daily of the slave. He boasted of his cruelty, and 
through all the country round was accounted a more 
thorough-going, energetic man than even Epps. A 
brute himself, Jim Burns had not a particle of mercy 
for his subject brutes, and like a fool, whipped and 
scourged away the very strength upon which depend 
ed his amount of gain. 

Epps remained on Huff Power two years, when, 
having accumulated a considerable sum of. money, he 
expended it in the purchase of the plantation on the 
east bank of Bayou Boeuf, where he still continues to 
reside. lie took possession of it in 1845, after the 



UNCLE AJil-CAM, WILEY, AC. 185 

holidays were passed, lie carried thither with him 
nine slaves, all of whom, except myself, and Susan, 
who lias since died, remain there yet. He made no 
addition to this force, and for eight years the follow- 

<^< </ 

iiur wore my companions in his quarters; viz : Abram, 
Wiley, rhebe, Bob, .Henry, Edward, and Patsey, 
All these, except Edward, born since, were purchased 
out of a drove bv E]vp:} during the time he was over- 

> O 

seer for Archy 13. William-, whose plantation is situa 
ted on the shore of Red Paver, not far from Alexan 
dria. 

Abram was tell, standing a full head above any 

O v 

common man. He is sixty years of age, and was 
born in Tennessee. Twenty years ago, he was pur 
chased by a trader, carried into South Carolina, and 
sold to James Buibrd, of Williarnsburgh county, in 
that State. In his youth he was renowned for his 
great strength, but age and unremitting toil have 
somewhat shattered his powerful frame and enfeebled 
his mental faculties. 

Wiley is forty-eight. He was born on the estate 
of William Tassle, and fur many years took charge of 
that gentleman s ferry over the Big Black River, in 
South Carolina. 

Phebe was a slave of Buford, Tassle s neighbor, 
and having married "Wiley, he bought the latter, at 
her instigation. Buford was a kind master, sheriff of 
the county, and i-n those days a man of wealth. 

Bob and Henry are Phebe s children, by a former 
husband, their father having been abandoned to give 



180 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

place to Wiley. That seductive youth had insinuated 
himself into Phebe s affections, and therefore the 
faithless spouse had gently kicked her first husband 
out of her cabin door. Edward had been born to 
them on Bayou Huff Power. 

Patsey is twenty-three also from Buford s planta 
tion. She is in no wise connected with the others, 
but glories in the fact that she is the offspring of a 
" Guinea nigger," brought over to Cuba in a slave 
ship, and in the course of trade transferred to Buford, 
who was her mother s owner. 

This, as I learned from them, is a genealogical account 
of my master s slaves. For years they had been to 
gether. Often they recalled the memories of other 
days, and sighed to retrace their steps to the old homo 
in Carolina. Troubles came upon their master Bu 
ford, which brought far greater troubles upon them. 
He became involved in debt, and unable to bear up 
against his failing fortunes, was compelled to sell these, 
and others of his slaves. In a chain gang they had 
been driven from beyond the Mississippi to the plan 
tation of Archy B. Williams. Edwin Epps, who, for a 
long while had been his driver and overseer, w r as 
about establishing himself in business on his own ac 
count, at the time of their arrival, and accepted them 
i-i payment of his wages. 

C;ld Abram was a kind-hearted beinsj a sort of 

O 

p-.i:riarch among us, fond of entertaining his younger 
brethren with grave and serious discourse. He was 
deeply versed in such philosophy as is taught in the 



UNCLE ABEAM AND AUNT PHEBS. 187 

cabin of the slave ; but the great absorbing hobby of 
Uncle Abrani was General Jackson, whom his young 
master in Tennessee had followed to the wars. He 
loved to wander back, in imagination, to the place 
where he was born, and to recount the scenes of his 
youth during those stirring times when the nation was 
in arms. He had been athletic, and more keen and 
powerful than the generality of his race, but now his 
eye had become dim, and his natural force abated. 
Very oiteiij indeed, while discussing the best method 
of baking the hoe-cake, or expatiating at large upon 
the glory of Jackson, he would forget where he left 
las hat, or his hoe, or his basket ; and then would the 
old man be laughed at, if Epps was absent, and whip 
ped if he was present. So was he perplexed continu 
ally, and sighed to think that he was growing aged 
and going to decay. Philosophy and Jackson and 
ibrgetfulness had played the mischief with him, and 
it was evident that all of them combined WLVO fast 
bringing down the gray hairs of Uncle Abram to the 
grave. 

Aunt Phebe had been an excellent field hand, but 
latterly was put into the kitchen, where she remained, 
except occasionally, in a time of uncommon hurry. 
She was a sly old creature, and when not in the 
presence of her mistress or her master, was garrulous 
in tlic extreme. 

"Wiley, on the contrary, w T as silent. He performed 
his task without murmur or complaint, seldom in 
dulging in the luxury of speech, except to utter a 



188 TWELVE YEARS A SLATE. 

wish that he was away from Epps, and back once 
more in South Carolina. 

Bob and Henry had reached the ages of twenty 
and twenty-three, and were distinguished for nothing 
extraordinary or unusual, while Edward, a lad of 
thirteen," not yet able to maintain his row in the corn 
or the cotton field, was kept in the great house, to 
wait on the little Eppses. 

Patsey was slim and straight. She stood erect as 
the human form is capable of standing. There was 
an air of loftiness in her movement, that neither labor, 
nor weariness, nor punishment could destroy. Truly, 
Patsey was a splendid animal, and were it not t::at 
bondage had enshrouded her intellect in utter find 
everlasting darkness, would have been chief among 
ten- thousand of her people. She could leap the 
highest fences, and a fleet hound it was indeed, that 
could outstrip her in a race. No horse could fling her 
from his back. She was a skillful teamster. She 
turned as true a furrow as the best, and at splitting 
rails there were none who could excel her/ When 
the order to halt was heard at nio;ht, she would have 

O / 

her mules at the crib, unharnessed, fed and curried, 
before uncle Abram had found his hat. Not, how 
ever, for all or any of these, was she chiefly famous. 
Such lightning-like motion was in her fingers as no 
other fingers ever possessed, and therefore it was, that 
in cotton picking time, Patsey was queen of the field. 
She had a genial and pleasant temper, and was 
faithful and obedient. Naturally, she was a joyous 



TREATMENT OF PATSEY. 189 

creature, a laughing, light-hearted girl, rejoicing in 
the mere sense of existence. Yet Patsey wept oftener, 
and suffered more, than any of her companions. 
She had been literally excoriated. Her back bore 
the scars of a thousand stripes; not because she was 
backward in her work, nor because she was of an un 
mindful and rebellious spirit, but because it had fallen 
to her lot to be the slave of a licentious master and a 
jealous mistress. She shrank before the lustful eye of 
the one, and was in danger even of her life at the 
hands of the other, and between the two, she was 
i ndeed accursed. In the great house, for days together, 
there were high and angry words, poutings and 
ustrangeinent, whereof she was the innocent cause. 
X othing delighted the mistress so much as to see her 
suffer, and more than once, when Epps had refused to. 
yull her, has she tempted me with bribes to put her 
secretly to death, and bury her body in some lonely 
place in the margin of the swamp. Gladly would 
Patsey have appeased this unforgiving spirit, if it had 
been in Ivor power, but not like Joseph, dared she 
escape l rom Master Epps, leaving her garment in his 
hand. Patsey walked under a cloud. If she uttered 
a word in opposition to her master s will, the Ush was 
resorted to at once, to bring her to subjection ; if she 
was not watchful when about her cabin, or when 
walking in the yard, a billet of wood, or a broken 
bottle perhaps, hurled from her mistress hand, would 
smite her unexpectedly in the face. The enslaved vic 
tim of lust and hate. Patsey had no comfort of her life. 



190 TWELVE YEAIIS A SLAVE. 

These were my companions and fellow-slaves, with 
whom I was accustomed to be driven to the field, and 
with whom it has been my lot to dwell for ten years 
in the log cabins of Edwin Epps. They, if living, are 
yet toiling on the banks of Bayou Bo3iif, never des 
tined to breathe, as I now do, the blessed air of liberty, 
nor to shake off the hep.vy shackles that enthrall 
them, until they shall lie down iurever in the dust. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



DESTRUCTION OF THE COTTON CROP IX 184-5 DEMAND FOR LABORERS 1:3 

ST. MARY S PARISH SENT THITHER IN A DROVE THE ORDER OF TUT; 

MARCH THE GRAND COTEAU HIRED TO JUDGE TURNER ON BAYOU 

8ALLE APPOINTED DRIVER IN HIS SUGAR HOUSE SUNDAY SERVICES 

SLAVE FURNITURE, HOW OBTAINED THE PARTY AT YARNEY s IN CEN 
TRE VILLE GOOD FORTUNE THE CAPTAIN OF THE STEAMER HIS RE 
FUSAL TO SECRETE ME RETURN TO BAYOU BCEUF SIGHT OF TIBEAT3 

FATSKY S SORROWS TUMULT AND CONTENTION HUNTING THE COON 

AND OPOSSUM THE CUNNING OF THE LATTER THE LEAN CONDITION 

OF THE SLAVE DESCRIPTION OF THE FISH TRAP THE MURDER OF THE 

MAN FROM NATCHEZ EPPS CHALLENGED 3Y MARSHALL THE INFLUENCE 

Oi- SLAVERY THE LOVE OF FREEDOM. 



Tin-; first year of Epps residence on the bayou, 
1S-J-5, the caterpillars almost totally destroyed the 
cotton crop throughout that region. There was little 

J. O O 

to bo done, so that the slaves were necessarily idlo 
half the time. However, there came a rumor to Ba 
you Bceuf that wages were high, and laborers in great 
demand on the sugar plantations in St. Clary s parish. 
This parish is situated on the coast of the Gulf of 
jMexico, about one hundred and forty miles from 
Avoy clles. The Ilio Tcclie, a considerable stream, 
flows through St. Marv s to the "tilf. 



192 TWELVE YEAE8 A SLAVE. 

i 

It was determined by the planters, on the receipt 
of this intelligence, to make up a drove of slaves to 
be sent down to Tuckapaw in St. Mary s, for the pur 
pose of hiring them out in the cane fields. Accord 
ingly, in the month of September, there were one 
hundred and forty-seven collected at Holmesville, 
Abram, Bob and myself among the number. Of these 
about one-half were women. Epps, Alonson Pierce, 
Henry Toler, and Addisoii Roberts, were the white 
men, selected to accompany, and take charge of the 
drove. They had a two-horse carriage and two sad 
dle horses for their use. A large wagon, drawn by 
four horses, and driven by John, a boy belonging to 
Mr. Roberts, carried the blankets and provisions. 

About 2 o clock in the afternoon, having been fed, 
preparations were made to depart. The duty assign 
ed me was, to take charge of the blankets and pro- 
visions, and see that none were lost by the way. Tho 
carriage proceeded in advance, the wagon following: 
behind this the slaves were arranged, while the two 
horsemen brought up the rear, and in this order the- 
procession moved out of Holmesville. 

That night we reached a Mr. McCrow s plantation, 
a distance of ten or fifteen miles, when we were or 
dered to halt. Large fires were built, and each one 
spreading his blanket on the ground, laid down upon 
it. The white men lodged in the great house. An 
hour before day we were aroused by the drivers com 
ing among us, cracking their whips and ordering us 
to arise. Then the blankets were rolled up, and bo 



rvlAllCI! TO ST. MAitY s PARISH. 193 

ing severally delivered to me and deposited in the 
wagon, the procession set forth again. 

The following night it rained violently. We were 
all drenched, our clothes saturated with mud and wa 
ter. Reaching an open shed, formerly a gin-house, we 
found beneath it such shelter as it afforded. There 
was not room for all of us to lay down. There we 
remained, huddled together, through the night, con 
tinuing our march, as usual, in the morning. During 
the journey we were fed twice a day, boiling our 
"bacon and baking our corn-cake at the fires in the 
same manner as in our huts. "We passed through La- 
fayetteville, Mountsville, Xew-Town, to Centreville, 
where Bob and Uncle Abram were hired. Our num 
ber decreased as we advanced nearly every sugar 
plantation requiring the services of one or more. 

On our route we passed the Grand Coteau or prairie, 
a vast space of level, monotonous country, without a 
free, except an occasional one which had been trans 
planted near some dilapidated dwelling. It was once 
thickly populated, and under cultivation, but for some 
cause had been abandoned. The business of the 
scattered inhabitants that now dwell upon it is prin 
cipally raising cattle. Immense herds were feeding 
vpon it as we passed. In the centre of the Grand 
Coteau one feels as if he were on the ocean, out 
of sight of land. As far as the eye can see, in all 
directions, it is but a ruined and deserted waste. 

I was hired to Judge Turner, a distinguished man 
and extensive planter, whose large estate is situated 

I 13 



19-i * TWELVE YEAE5 A SLAVE. 

on Bayou Salle, within a few miles of the gulf. Bay 
ou Salle is a small stream flowing into the bay of 
Atchafalaya. For some days I was employed at 
Turner s in repairing his sugar house, when a cane 
knife was put into my hand, and with thirty or 
forty others, I was sent into the field. I found no 
such difficulty in learning the art of cutting cane 
that I had in picking cotton. It came to me natural 
ly and intuitively, and in a short time I was able to 
keep up with the fastest knife. Before the cutting 
was over, however, Judge Tanner transferred me from 

* O 

the field to the sugar house, to act there in the ca 
pacity of driver. From the time of the commence 
ment of sugar making to the close, the grind hy and 

O o O O 

boiling does not cease day or night, The whip was 
given me with directions to use it upon any one who 
was caught standing idle. If I foiled to obey them 
to the letter, there was another one for my own back. 
In addition to this my duty was to call on and oil the 
different gangs at the proper time. I had no regular 
periods of rest, and could never snatch but a few mo 
ments of sleep at a time. 

It is the custom in Louisiana, as I presume it is in 
other slave States, to allow the slave to retain what 
ever compensation he may obtain for services per 
formed on Sundays. In this w r ay, only, are they able 
to provide themselves with any luxury or conveni 
ence whatever. When a slave, purchased, or kidnap 
ped in the North, is transported to a cabin on Bayou 
Bceuf, he is furnished with neither kiiif; , nor fork, 



105 
nor dish, nor kettle, nor aiiv other thin * in tlio shape 

t/ O JL 

of crockciy, or furniture of any nature or description. 
lie is furnished with a blanket before he reaches 
there, and wrapping that around him, he can either 
stand up, or lie down upon the ground, or on a hoard, 
if lib muster has no use for it. He is at liberty to 
ibid a gourd in which to heep his nical, or he can eat 
his corn irom the col), just as he pleases. To ash the 
master for akniib, or skillet, or any small convcnienco 

*/ 

of the kind, would be answered with a kick, or lanrh- 

O 

eJ at as a joke. Yfhatevcr necessary article of this 
nature is found in a cabin lias been purchased with 
Sunday money. However injurious to the morals, 
.it is certainly a blessing to the physical condition of 
the slave, to be permitted to break the Sabbath. 
Otherwise there would bo no way to provide him 
self with any utensils, which seem to be indispensa 
ble to him who is compelled to be his own cook. 
On cane plantations in sugar time, there is no dis- 
t motion as to the days of the week. It is well un 
derstood that all hands must labor on the Sabbath, 
and it is counlly well understood that those especial 
ly who are hired, as I was to Judge Turner, and oth 
ers in succeeding years, shall receive remuneration 
for it. It is usual, also, in the most hurrying time of 
cotton-picking, to require the same extra service. 
jj roni this source, slaves ffonerally are afforded an 

o / 

iortunivy of earning sumcicnt to purchase a knife, 
a kettle, tobacco and so forth. The females, discard 
ing the hil-er luxury, are apt to expend their little 



196 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

revenue in the purchase of gaudy ribbons, wherewithal 
to deck their hair in the merry season of the holidays. 

I remained in St. Mary s until the first of January, 
during which time my Sunday money amounted to 
ten dollars. I met with other good fortune, for which 
I was indebted to my violin, my constant companion, 
the source of profit, and soother of my sorrows during 
years of servitude. There was a grand party of 
whites assembled at Mr. Yarncy s, in Ceutreville, a 
hamlet in the vicinity of Turner s plantation. I was 
employed to play for them, and so well pleased were 
the merry-makers with my performance, that a con 
tribution was taken for my benefit, which amounted 
to seventeen dollars. 

"With this sum in possession, I was looked upon by 
my fellows as a millionaire. It afforded me great, 
pleasure to look at it to count it over and over 
again, day after day. Visions of cabin furniture, of 
water pails, of pocket knives, new shoes and coats 
and hats, floated through my fancy, and up through 
all rose the triumphant contemplation, that I was 
the wealthiest " nigger" on Bayou Bceuf. 

Vessels run up the Eio Teclie to Centrcville. 
While there, I was bold enough one day to present 
myself before the captain of a steamer, and beg per 
mission to hide myself among the freight. I was 
emboldened to risk the hazard of such a step, from 
overhearing a conversation, in the course of which I 
ascertained he was a native of the !NV>rth. I did n<>i. 
relate to him the particulars of my history, but only 



RETURN TO EAYOU IJCEUF. 197 

expressed an ardent clesiro to escape from slavery to 
a free State. lie pitied me, but said it would be im 
possible to avoid tlie vigilant custom house officers in 
Xew-Orleans, and that detection would subject him 
to punishment, and his vessel to confiscation. My 
earnest entreaties evidently excited his sympathies, 
and doubtless lie would have yielded to them, could 
he have done so with any kind of safety. I was 
compelled to smother the sudden flame that lighted 
rip my bosom with sweet hopes of liberation, and 
turn my steps once more towards the increasing 
darkness of despair. 

Immediately after this event the drove assembled 
at Ccntreville, and several of the owners having ar 
rived and collected the monies due for our services, 
we were driven back to Bayou Boeuf. It was on our 
return, while passing through a small village, that I 
caught sight of Tib eats, seated in the door of a dirty 
grocery, looking somewhat seedy and out of repair. 
Passion and poor whisky, I doubt not, have ere this 
laid him on the shelf. 

Daring our absence, I learned from Aunt Phebe 
and Patsey, that the latter had been getting deeper 
and deeper into trouble. The poor girl was truly an 
object of pity. " Old Hogjaw," the name by which 
Epps was called, when the slaves were by themselves, 
had beaten her more severely and frequently than 
ever. As surely as he came from Ilolmesville, elated 
with liquor and it was often in those days he- 
would whip her, merely to gratify the mistress ; would 



108 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

punisli licr to an extent almost beyond endurance, for 
an offence of which lie himself was the sole and irre 
sistible cause. In liis sober moments lie could not al 
ways be prevailed upon to indulge his wife s insatia 
ble tliirst for vengeance. 

To bo rid of Patsey to place her beyond sight or 
roach, by sale, or death, or in any other manner, of 
late years, seemed to be the ruling thought and pas 
sion of my misircs,;. Paisey h:id been a favorite when 
a child, even in the great house. She had been pet 
ted and admired for her uncommon sprightllneTS ami 
pleasant disposition. She had been led many a time, 
so Uncle Abram said, even on biscuit and mill:, when 
the madam, in her younger days, was wont to cull 
her to the piazza, and fondle her as she would a play 
ful kitten. But a sad change had come over the spirit 
of the woman. Xow, only black and ar.gry fiends 
ministered in the temple of her heari:, until she could 
look on Patsey but with concentrated venom. 

Mistress Epps was not naturally such an evil wo 
man, after all. She was possessed of the devil, jeal 
ousy, it is true, but aside from that, there vras much 
in her character to admire. Her father, 1h\ Robert- 1 , 
resided in Cheney ville, an influential and honorable 
man, and as much respected throughout the parish 
as any other citizen. She had been well educated ab 
some institution this side the ilississippi ; vras boauti- 
fi:l 3 accomplished, and usually good-humored. She 
was hind to all of us but Patsey frequently, in the 
absence of her husband, sending out to us some little 



PATSEY S SORROWS. 199 

dainty from her own table. In other situations in 
a diliLTcnt society from tliat wliicli exists on the shores 
oi Bayou Bu2ivf, she would have been pronounced an 
elegant and fascinating woman. An ill wind it was 
that blew her into the arms of Epps. 

lie respected and loved his wife as much as a coarse 
nature like his is capable of loving, but supreme sel 
fishness always overmastered conjugal affection. 

"Ho loved as well as baser natures can, 

But a mean heart and soul wore in that man." 

lie was ready to gratify any whim to grant any re 
quest she made, provided it did not cost too much. 
Patsey was equal to any two of his slaves in the cot- 
Ion field. lie could not replace her with the same 
money she would bring. The idea of disposing of 
her, therefore, could not be entertained. The mistress 
did not regard her at all in that light. The pride of 
the haughty woman was aroused ; the blood of the 
liery southern boiled at the sight of Patsey, and noth 
ing less than trampling out the life of the helpless 
bondwoman would satisfy her. 

Sometimes the current of her wrath turned upon 
him whom she had jus.t cause to hate. But the storm 
of angry words would pass over at length, and there 
would be a season of calm again. At such times Pat 
sey trembled with fear, and cried as if her heart, would 
break, for she knew from painful experience, that if 
mistress should work herself to the reel-hot pitch of 
rage, Epps would quiet her at last with a promise that 
Patsey should be flogged a promise he was sure to 



200 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

keep. Tims did pride, and jealousy, and vengeance 
war with avarice and brute-passion in tlie mansion of 
my master, filling it with daily tumult and conten 
tion. Tims, upon the head of Patsey the simple- 
minded slave, in whose heart God had implanted tho 
seeds of virtue the force of all these domestic tem 
pests spent itself at last. 

During the summer succeeding my return from St. 
Mary s parish, I conceived a plan of providing myself 
with food, which, though simple, succeeded beyond 
expectation. It has been followed by many others 
in my condition, up and down the bayou, and of such 
benefit has it become that I am almost persuaded to 
look upon myself as a benefactor. That summer the 
worms got into the bacon. ^Nothing but ravenous 
hunger could induce us to swallow it. The weekly 
allowance of meal scarcely sufficed to satisfy us. It 
was customary with us, as it is with all in that region, 
where the allowance is exhausted boil) re Saturday 
night, or is in such a state as to render it nauseous 
and disgusting, to hunt in the swamps for coon and 
opossum. This, however, must be done at night, af 
ter the day s work is accomplished. There are plan 
ters whose slaves, for months at a time, have no other 
meat than such as is obtained in this manner. ]STo 
objections arc made to hunting, inasmuch as it dis 
penses with drafts upon the smoke -house, and because 
every marauding coon that is killed is so much saved 
from the standing corn. They are limited with dogs 
and clubs, slaves not being allowed the use of fire-arms. 



HUNTING THE COON AND OPOSSUM. 20 J 

Tlie ilesli of tlie coon is palatable, but verily there 
is notliing in all bntcherdom so delicious as a roasted 
possum. They are a round, ratlier long-bodied, little 
animal, of a whitish color, with nose like a pig, and 
caudal extremity like a rat. They burrow among 
the roots and in the hollows of the gum tree, and are 
clumsy and slow of motion. They are deceitful and 
cunning creatures. On receiving the slightest tap of 
a stick, they will roll over on the ground and feign 
death. If the hunter leaves him, in pursuit of anoth 
er, without first taking particular pains to break his 
neck, the chances are, on his return, he is not to bo 
found. The little animal has out witted the enemy 
has " played possum" and is off. But after a 
long and hard day s work, the weary slave feels little 
like going to the swamp for his supper, and half the 
time prefers throwing himself on the cabin floor with 
out it. It is for the interest of tlie master that the ser 
vant should not suffer in health from starvation, and 
it is also for his interest that he should not become gross 
from over-feeding. In the estimation of the owner, a 

O / 

tlavc is the rno.-t serviceable when in rather a lean 
and lank condition, such a condition as the race-horse 
is in, when fitted for the course, and in that condition 
they are generally to be found on the sugar and cot 
ton plantations along Eed Elver. 

My cabin was within a few rods of the bayou bank, 
and necessity being indeed the mother of invention, I 
resolved upon a mode of obtaining the requisite 
amount of food, without the trouble of resorting night- 



202 TWELVE YE Alia A SLAVE 

iy to tiio woods. This was to construct a fisli trap. 
Having, in my mind, conceived the manner in which, 
it could he done, the next Sunday I set about putting 
it into practical execution. * It may be impossible for 
me to convey to the reader a full and correct idea of 
its construction, but the following will serve as a gen 
eral description : 

A frame between two and three feet square is made, 
and of a greater or less height, according to the 
depth of water. Boards or slats are nailed on three 
sides of this frame, not so closely, however, as to pre 
vent the water circulating freely through it. A door 
is fitted into the fourth side, in such manner that it 
will slide easily up and down in the grooves cut in 
the two posts. A movable bottom is then so fitted 
that it can be raised to the top of the frame without 
difficulty. In the centre of the movable bottom an 
auger hole is bored, and into this one end of a handle 
or round stick is fastened on the under side so loosely 
that it will turn. The handle ascends from the centre 
of the movable bottom to the top of the frame, or as 
much higher as is desirable. Up and down this 
handle, in a great many places, are gimlet holes, 
through which small sticks are inserted, extending to 
opposite sides of the frame. So many of these small 
sticks are running out from the handle in all direc 
tions, that a fish of any considerable dimensions can 
not pass through without hitting one of them. The 
frame is then placed in the water and made sta 
tionary. 



DESCPJPTIOX OF THE FISH TRAP. 203 

Tlic trap is " set" "by sliding or drawing up the door, 
and kept in tlutt position by another stick, one end 
of which rests in a notch on the inner side, the other 
end in a notch made in the handle, running up from 
the centre of the movable bottom. The trap is 
baited by rolling a handful of wet meal and cotton 
together until it becomes hard, and depositing it in 
the back part of the frame. A fish swimming through 
the upraised door towards the bait, necessarily strikes 
one of the small sticks turning the handle, which dis 
placing the stick supporting the door, the latter falls, 
securing the fish within the frame. Taking hold of 

O o 

the top of the handle, the movable bottom is then 
drawn up to the surface of the water, and the fish 
taken out. There may have been other such traps in 
use before mine was constructed, but if there were 
I had never happened to see one. Bayou Bceuf 
abounds in fish of large size and excellent quality, 
and after this time I was very rarely in want of one 
il>r myself, or for my comrades. Thus a mine was 
opened a new resource was developed, hitherto un- 
thought of by the enslaved children of Africa, who 
toil and hunger along the shores of that sluggish, but 
prolific stream. 

About. the time of which I am now writing, an 
event occurred in our immediate neighborhood, which 
made a eep impression upon me, and which shows 
the state of society existing there, and the manner in 
which affronts are oftentimes avenged. Directly op 
posite our quarters, on the other side of the bayou, 



204: TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

was situated the plantation of Mr. Marshall. IIo 
belonged to a family among tho most wealth v and 

O t/ O v 

aristocratic in the country. A gentleman from tho 
vicinity of Natchez had been negotiating with him 
for the purchase of tho estate. One day a messenger 
came in great haste to our plantation, saying that a 
bloody and fearful battle was going on at Mar 
shall s -that blood had been spilled and unless 
the combatants were forthwith separated, the result 
would be disastrous. 

On repairing to Marshall s house, a scene presented 
itself that beggars description. On the floor of one 
of the rooms lay the ghastly corpse of the man from 
Natchez, while Marshall, enraged and covered with. 
wounds and blood, was stalking back and forth, 
" breathing out tlircatenings and slaughter." A diffi 
culty had arisen in the course of their negotiation, 
high words ensued, when drawing their weapons, the 
deadly strife began that ended so unfortunately. 
Marshall was never placed in confinement. A sort of 
trial or investigation was had at Marksvillc, when he 
was acquitted, and returned to his plantation, rather 
more respected, as I thought, than ever, from the fact 
that the blood of a fellow being was on his soul, 

Epps interested himself in his behalf, accompany 
ing him to Marksville, and on all occasions loudly 
justifying him, but his services in this re;:pet did not 
afterwards deter a kin em an of tlrio same Marshall 
from seeking his life also. A brawl occurred between 
them over a gambling-table, which terminated in ,, 



KPPS CHALLENGED. 205 

deadly fend. Hiding up on horseback in front of the 
house one day, armed with pistols and bowie knife, 
^Marshall challenged him to come iorth and make fi 
final settlement of the quarrel, or he would brand 
him as a coward, and shoot him like a dog the first 
opportunity. iN^ot through cowardice, nor from any 
conscientious scruples, in my opinion, but through the 
influence of his wife, he was restrained from accept 
ing the challenge of his enemy. A reconciliation, 
however, was effected afterward, since which time 
they have been on terms of the closest intimacy. 

Such occurrences, which would bring upon the 
parties concerned in them merited and condign pun 
ishment in the Xorthern States, are frequent on tlis 
bayou, and pasg without notice, and almost without 
comment. Every man carries his howie knife, and 
when two fall out, they set to work hacking and 
thrusting at each other, more like savages than civ 
ilized and enlightened beings. 

The existence of Slavery in its most cruel form 
among them, has a tendency to brutalize the humane 
and finer feelings of their nature. Daily witnesses of 
human suffering listening to the agonizing screeches 
of the slave beholding him writhing beneath the 
merciless lash bitten and torn by dogs dying 
without attention, and buried without shroud or 
cnllin it cannot otherwise be expected, than that 
they should become brutilied. and reckless of human 
life. It is true there are many kind-hearted and good 
men in the mrisri of Avovelles such men as AVil- 



TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

iiam Ford who can look with pity upon the suffer 
ings of a slave, just as there are, over all the world, 
sensitive and sympathetic spirits, who cannot look 
with indifference upon the sufferings of any creature 
which the Almighty has endowed with life. [Jt is 
not the fault of the slaveholder that he is cruel, so 
much as it is the fault of the system under which he 
lives. He cannot withstand the influence of habit 
and associations that surround him. Taught from 
earliest childhood, by all that he sees and hears, that 
the rod is for the slave s back, he will not be apt to 
change his opinions in maturer years. 

There may be humane masters, as there certainly 
are inhuman ones there may be slaves well-clothed, 
well-fed, and happy, as there surely are those half- 
clad, half-starved and miserable ; nevertheless, the 
institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity 
as I have witnessed, is a cruel, unjust, and barbarous 
one. Men may write fictions portraying lowly life as 
it is, or as it is not may expatiate with owlish 
gravity upon the bliss of ignorance discourse flip 
pantly from arm chairs of the pleasures of slave life ; 
but let them toil with him in the field -sleep with 
him in the cabin feed with him on husks ; let them 
behold him scourged, hunted, trampled on, and they 
will come back with another story in their mouths. 
Let them know the heart of the poor slave learn 
I.;l3 secret thoughts thoughts he dare not utter in 
(-.10 hearing of the white man; let them sit by him 
in the silent watches of the m aiit converse with 



THE LOVE OF FREEDOM. 207 

him in trustful confidence, of "life, liberty, and tlio 
pursuit of happiness," and they will find that ninety- 
nine out of every hundred are intelligent enough to 
understand their situation, and to cherish in their 
bosoin : f.ie love of freedom, as passionately as them 
selves 



CHAPTER IV. 

LABORS ON SUGAR PLANTATIONS TEE MODE OF PLANTING CANE OF HOEING 

CANE CANE RICKS CUTTING CANE DESCRIPTION OF THE CANE KNIFS 

WINDOWING PREPARING FOR SUCCEEDING CROPS DESCRIPTION OF 

HAWKINS SUGAR MILL ON BAYOU P.CEUF THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS 

THE CARNIVAL SEASON OF THE CHILDREN OF BONDAGE THE CHRISTMAS 

SUPPER RED, THE FAVORITE COLOR THE VIOLIN, AND THE CONSOLATION 

IT AFFORDED THE CHRISTMAS DANCE LIVELY, THE COQUETTE SAM 

ROBERTS, AND HIS RIVALS SLAVE SONGS SOUTHERN LIEE AS IT IS 

THREE DAYS IN THE YEAR THE SYSTEM OF MARRIAGE UNCLE ABRAM s 

CONTEMPT OF MATRIMONY. 

Ls" consequence of my inability in cotton-picking, 
Epps was in tlie habit of hiring me out on sugar 
plantations during the season of cane-cutting and 
sugar-making. He received for my services a dollar 
a day, with the money supplying my place on his 
cotton plantation. Cutting cane was an employment 
that suited me, and for three successive years I held 
the lead row at Hawkins , leading a gang of from 
fifty to an hundred hands. 

In a previous chapter the mode of cultivating cot 
ton is described. This may be the proper place to 
speak of the manner of cultivating cane. 

The ground is prepared in beds, the same as it is 
prepared for the reception of the cotton seed, except 



MODE OF PLANTING CANE. 209 

it is ploughed deeper. Drills arc made in the same 
manner. Planting commences in January, and con 
tinues until April. It is necessary to plant a sugar 
field only once in three years. Three crops are taken 
before the seed or plant is exhausted. 

Three gangs arc employed in the operation. One 
draws the cane from the rick, or stack, cutting the 
top and flags from the stalk, leaving only that part 
which is sound and healthy. Each joint of the cane 
has an eye, like the eye of a potato, which sends forth 
a sprout when buried in the soil. Another gang lays 
the cane in the drill, placing two stalks side bv eide 

JL O *j 

in such manner that joints will occur once in four or 
six inches. The third gang follows with hoes, drawing 
earth upon the stalks, and covering them to the depth 
<jf three inches. 

In four weeks, at the farthest, the sprouts appear 
above the ground, and from this time forward grow 
vith great rapidity. A sugar field is hoed three 
times, the same as cotton, save that a greater quantity 
of earth is drawn to the roots. By the first of Au 
gust hoeing is usually over. About the middle of 
September, whatever is required for seed is cut and 
backed in ricks, as they are termed. In October it 
i.-; ready for the mill or sugar-house, and then the gen 
eral cutting begins. The blade of a cane-knife is fif 
teen inches long, three inches wide in the middle, and 
tapering towards the point and handle. The blade 
is thin, and in order to be at all serviceable must bo 
kept very sharp. Every third hand takes the lead cf 

14 



TWELVE YEARS A SLATE. 

two others, one of wliom is 011 cadi side of him. Tho 
lead hand, in the first place, with a blow of his knife 
shears the flags from the stalk. lie next cuts oil* the 
top down as far as it is green. He must be careful 
to sever all the green from the ripe part, inasmuch 
{is the juice of the former sours the molasses, and ren 
ders it unsalable. Then he severs the stalk at the 
root, and lays it directly behind him. His right and 
left hand companions lay their stalks, when cut in the 
same manner, upon his. To every three hands there 
is a cart, which follows, and the stalks are thrown into 
it by the younger slaves, when it is drawn to the GU- 
gar-house and ground. 

o o 

If the planter apprehends a frost, the cane is win- 
rowed. "Winrowing is the cutting the stalks at an 
early period and throwing them lengthwise in the wa- 

/ j. O O 

ter furrow in such a manner that the tops will cover 
the butts of the stalks. They will remain in this con 
dition three weeks or a month without souring, and 
secure from frost. AVlien the proper time arrives, 
they are taken up, trimmed and carted to the sugar- 
house. 

In the month of January the slaves enter the field 
again to prepare for another crop. The ground is 
now strewn with the tops, and flags cut from the past 
year s cane. On a dry day fire is set to this combus 
tible refuse, which sweeps over the field, leaving it 
bare and clean, and ready. for the hoes. The earth is 
loosened about the roots of the old stubble, and in 
process of time another crop springs up from tlie last 



HAWKINS sue; AK MILL. 211 

year s seed. It is the same tlie year following ; but 
the third year the seed has exhausted its strength, 
and the rL>kl must be ploughed and planted again. 
The second year the cane is sweeter and yields more 
lium the iirst, and the third year more than the second. 

Dining the three seasons I labored on Hawkins 
plantation, I was employed a considerable portion of 
1 lie time in the sugar-house. He is celebrated as the 
producer of the finest variety of white sugar. The 
following is a general description of his sugar-house 
and the process of manufacture : 

The mill is an immense brick building, standing on 
the shore of the bayou. Running; out from the build- 

J O 

ing is an open shed, at least an hundred feet in length 
and forty or fifty feet in width. The boiler in which 
the steam is generated is situated outside the main 
building; the machinery and engine rest on a brick 
1 sier, fifteen feet above the floor, within the body of tlio 
] F ildiii \ The machinery turns two Great iron rollers, 

O i/ O / 

between two and three feet in diameter and six or 
eight feet in length. They are elevated above the 
brick pier, and roll in towards each other. An encl- 
kv-s carrier, made of chain and wood, like leathern 
beKS used in small mills, extends from the iron rollers 
out of the main building and through the entire 
length of the open shed. The carts in which the cane 
is br; night from the field as fast as it is cut, are un 
loaded at the sides of the shed. All along the endless 
earner are ranged slave children, whose business it is 
to place the cane upon it, when it is conveyed through. 



21:2 TWELVE \ KAK3 A SLAVE. 

the slice! into the main building, where it fa 1 Is be 
tween the rollers, is crushed, and drops upon another 
carrier that conveys it out of (lie main "building in an 
opposite direction, depositing it in the t^p of a chim 
ney upon a fire beneath, which consumes it. It is ne 
cessary to burn it in this manner, because othcrwi c- 
it would soon fill the buildinir, and more especial iv 

O ? J. / 

because it would soon sour and engender diseas-*. 
The juice of the cane falls into a conductor underneath 
the iron rollers, raid is carried into a reservoir. Pipe;; 
convey it from thence into live lilterers, holding sev 
eral hogsheads each. These filterers are illled with 
bone-black, a substance resembling pulverized char 
coal. It is made of bones calcinated in close ves-cb, 
and is used for the purpose of decolorizing, by filtra 
tion, the cane juice before boiling. Through thcvo 
five filterers it passes in succession, and then rims into 
a larffe reservoir underneath the Around 11001% from 

o 

whence it is carried up, by means of a steam pump, 
into a clarifier made of sheet iron, where it is heated 
by steam until it boils. From the first clarifier it is 
carried in pipes to a second and a third, and thenco 
into close iron pans, through which tubes pass, filled 
with steam. "While in a boiling state it flows through 
three pans in succession, and is then carried in other 
pipes down to the coolers on the ground floor. Cool 
ers are wooden boxes with sieve bottoms made of the 
finest wire. As soon as the syrup passes into the 
coolers, and is met by the air, it grains, and the mo 
lasses at once escapes through the sieves into a cistern 



CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS. 213 

below. It is then white or loaf sugar of the finest 
kind clear, clean, and as white as snow. When 
cool, it is taken out, packed in hogsheads, and is ready 
it r market. The molasses is then carried from the 
cistern into tlie upper story again, and by another 
process converted into brown sugar. 

There are larger mills, and those constructed differ 
ently from the one thus imperfectly described, but 
none, perhaps, more celebrated than this anywhere 
on J lay on Ucoui. Lambert, of ]STew-Orleans, is a part 
ner of Ildwkins. He is a man of vast wealth, hold- 
in;.; , as I have been told, an interest in over forty dif- 

i j.ont sugar plantations in Louisiana. 

# * * * * # 

The only respite from constant labor the slave hay 
!;.;< >u." h the wliole vear, is during the Christinas lioli- 

O i. > O 

days. Epps allowed us three -others allow four, 
five and six days, according to the measure of their 
generosity. It is the only time to which they look 
i snviird with any intorc-st or pleasure. They are glad 
.vliv ii night conies, not only because it brings them a 
; jw hours repose, but because it brings them one day 
iirer Christinas. : is hailed wilh equal delight by 

/ 

the old and the young ; even Uncle Abram ceases to 
glorify Andrew Jackson, andPatsey forgets her many 
sorrow?, amid the general hilarity of the holidays. It 
is the time of feasting, and frolicking, and fiddling 
the carnival season with the children of bondage, 
TiK vaiv the only days when they are allowed a liLllo 
restricted liberty, and hcartilv indeed do they enjoy it. 



21-1 TVVKLYE YKAKS A SLAVE. 

It Is tlio custom for one planter to give a " Cliri t- 
mas supper," inviting tlio slaves from neighboring 
plantations to join liis own on the occasion ; for in 
stance, one year it is given by Epps, tlio next by Mar 
shall, the next by Hawkins, and. so on. v/Usually from 
three to five hundred arc assembled, coming togethei 
on foot/in carts, on horseback, on nniles, riding donblo 
and triple, sometimes a boy and girl, a!" others a girl 
and two boys, and at others again a boy, a girl and 
an old woman. Uncle Abrani astride a mule, with 
AnntPhebe and Pat^ey behind him, trotting towards 
a Christmas supper, would be no uncommon sight on 
Bayou Bceuf. 

^Then, too, " of all days i tlio year," they array 
themselves in their best attire. The cotton coat lias 
been washed clean, the stump of a tallow candle has 
been applied to the shoes, and if so fortunate as to pos 
sess a rimless or a crownle^s hat, it LJ placed jaunlily 
on the head. They are welcomed with equal cordial 
ity, however, if they come bare-headed and bare 
footed to the feast. As a general thing, the women 
wear handkerchiefs tied about their hea;L, but i: 
chance has thrown in their way a fiery red ribbon, 
or a cast-off bonnet of their niistrc-.o grandmother, it 
is sure to be worn on such occasion ;. Tied the deep 
blood red is decidedly the favorho i ;lor among the 
enslaved damsels of my acquaintance. If a red rib 
bon does not encircle the neck, you will be certain to 
find all the hair of their woolly heads tied up with rt;.l 
strings of one sort or another. 



THE CHRISTMAS SUPPEE. 215 

The table is spread in the open air, and loaded with 
pieties of meat and piles of vegetables. Bacon and 
corn meal at such times are dispensed with: Some 
times the cooking is performed in the kitchen on the 
plantation, at others in the shade of wide branching 
trees. In the latter case, a ditch is dug in the ground, 
and wood laid in and burned until it is filled with 
glowing coals, over which chickens, ducks, turkey, 3 , 
pig--, cind not unfreoaicntly the entire body of a wild 
ox, arc roasted. They are furnished also with Hour:,; 
of which biscuits are made, and often with peach and 
other preserves, with tarts, and every manner and de 
scription of pies, except the mince, that being an ar 
ticle of pastry as yet unknown among them. Only 
the slave who has lived all the years on his scanty al 
lowance of meal and bacon, can appreciate such sup 
pers. VTIiite people in great nun. 1 - : assemble to 
vriiiie the gastronomical enjoyment 

The. .-eat themselves at the rustic table themale:j 
on one i-:le, the females on the other. The two be 
tween whom there may have been ;.:. exchange oi 
k-iidorness, invariably manage to sit opposite; for the 
<,-mnipre,-ent Cupid disdains i: t to hurl his arrows into 
the Dimple hearts of slaves. Jindloyed and exulting 
happiness lights up the dart: i :ces of them all. Tho 
ivorv teeth, contrasting witli their black complexions, 
exhibit two long, white streaks the whole extent of 
the table. -Ml round the bountiful board a multitude 
of eves roll in ccstacy. Giggling and laughter and 
the clattering of cutlery and crockerv succeed. Cuf- 



Si 6 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

fee s elbow hunches his neighbor s side, impelled by 
an involuntary impulse of delight ; Nelly shakes her 
finger at Sambo and laughs, she knows not why, and 
so the fun and merriment flows on. 

When the viands have disappeared, and the hungry 
maws of the children of toil are satisfied, then, ne: - 
in the order of amusement, is the Christmas danc 
My business on these gala days always was to play o:. i 
the violin. The African race is a music-loving one, 
proverbially ; and many there were among my fellow- 
bondsmen whose organs of tune were strikingly devcl- 

^3 o y 

oped, and who could thumb the banjo with dexterity ; 
but at the expense of appearing egotistical, I must, 
nevertheless, declare, that I was considered the Ole 
Bull of Bayou Bocuf. My master often received let 
ters, sometimes from a distance of ten miles, request 
ing him to send me to play at a ball or festival of the 
whites. lie received his compensation, and usually I 
also returned with many picayunes jingling in my 
pockets the extra contributions of those to whoso 
delight I had administered. In this manner I became 
more acquainted than I otherwise would, up and down 
the bayou. The young men and maidens of llolmo;> 
ville always knew there was to be a jollification some 
where, whenever Platt Epps was seen passing through 
the town with his fiddle in his hand. " Where ai-3 
you going now, Platt :" and " What is coming oil to 
night, Platt ?" would be interrogatories issuing from 
every door and window, and many a time wlien there 
was no special hui ry, yielding to pressing importuni- 



217 

tics, Plati would draw liis Lev,*, and bitting astride 
his mule, perhaps, discourse musically to a crowd 
of delighted children, gathered around him in tho 
street, 

Alas ! had it not been for my beloved violin, I scarce 
ly can conceive how I could have endured the long 
years of bondage. It introduced me to great houses 
relieved me of many days labor in the field sup 
plied me with conveniences for my cabin with 
pipes and tobacco, and extra pairs of shoes, and often 
times led me away from the presence of a hard mas 
ter, to witness scenes of jollity and mirth. It was 
my companion the friend of my bosom triumph 
ing loudly when I was joyful, and uttering its soft, 
melodious consolations when I was sad. Often, at 
midi light, when sleep had lied affrighted from the 
cabin, and my soul was disturbed and troubled with 
the contemplation of my fate, it would sing me a song 
of peace. On holy Sabbath days, when an hour or 
tvro of leisure was allowed, it would accompany me 
to some fjiiiet pb.ce on the bayou bank, and, lifting 
Hp its voice, discourse kindly and pleasantly indeed. 
It heralded my name round the country made mo 
friends, who, otherwise would not have noticed me 
g:ive me an honored seat at the yearly feasts, and se 
cured the loudest and heartiest welcome of them all 
at tho Christmas dance. The Christmas dance ! Oh, 
} pleasure-seeking sons and daughters of idleness, 
who move with measured step, listless and snail-like, 
ihi.Hiuh the siuvr windiiu cotillon, if ve wish to look 



218 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

upon the celerity, if not the " poetry of motion" 
upon genuine happiness, rampant and unrestrained 
go down to Louisiana, and see the slaves dancing in 
the starlight of a Christmas night. 

On that particular Christinas I have now in my 
mind, a description whereof will serve as a descrip 
tion of the day generally, Miss Lively and Mr. Sam, 
the first belonging to Stewart, the hitter to Eobcrhi, 
started the ball. It was well known that Sam cher 
ished an ardent passion for Lively, as also did one of 
Marshall s and another of Carey s boys ; for Lively 
was lively indeed, and a heart-breaking cocpiette with 
al. It was a victory for Sam Boberts, when, rising 
from the repast, she gave him her hand for the f :^ 
"figu e" in preference to either of his rivals. 1 .ey 
were somewhat crest-fallen, and, shaking their 1. ad; 
angrily, rather intimated they would like to pitci into 
Mr. Sam and hurt him badly. But not an en jtiou 
of wrath ruffled the placid bosom of Samuel as his 
legs flew like drum-sticks down the ouUido .ml up 
the middle, by the side of his bewitching .xirt.ii or, 
The whole company cheered them vociieron.-iy, and, 
excited with the applause, they continued Li tearing 
down" after all the others had become exhausted and 
halted a moment to recover breath. But Sam s su 
perhuman exertions overcame him finally, leaving 
Lively alone, yet whirling like a top. Tlier:MiT>f>n >ne 
of Sam s rivals, Pete Marshall, dashed in, ijii>, with 
might and main, leaped and shufiled and threw him 
self into every conceivable shape, as if ("k 1 - Tunned << 



sornii-::x LIFI; AS IT is. 219 

show Miss Lively and nil tlio world that Sam Roberts 
was of no account. 

Pete s affection, however, was greater than his dis 
cretion. Such violent exercise took the breath out of 
him directly, and he dropped like an empty bag. 
Then was the time f rr Harry Carey. to try his hand ; 
hut Lively also soon out-winded him, amidst hurrahs 
and shouts, fully sustaining her well-earned reputation 
of being the "fastest gal* on the bayou. 

One " set oil , another takes its place, lie or she re- 
mamm r longest on the floor receiving the most up- 

O C O JL 

roarious commendation, and so the dancing continues 
until br^ad daylight. It does not cease wiui the 
sound of the fiddle, but in that case they set up a mu- 
::ic peculiar t > themselves. This is called patting," 
acc -^.npanied wifii one of those unmeaning songs, 
Cisinpi 1 ratiier f.)r its adaptation to a certain tune 
(.-r mea .ii-.re. than for the purpose of expressing any 
("liscinct id^a. Tl;e patting is performed by striking 
tlie liands on the knees, then striking the hands to- 
I .erher, then striking the right shoulder with one 
hand, the lefc with the other all the while keeping 
t me with the feet, and singing, perhaps, this song: 

" Tlarj-or 1 .; croel: ai d ro:iriu riljbor, 
Tniiv. ;;;.- cear, v\v r il live ^a-cLbor : 
DL-JJ v - 11 <j j .>> .T--.i In.v:in ji.ntioii, 

n j 1 V>"3^! :il OJi L i L J.ll .-M, 

1: - i O^ Jl. 1 Y. ill, ;;:;] l_. ; lnntatui i. 



^0 TWELVE YEAE.D A SLAV. 

Or, if these words are not adapted to tlie tune called 
for, it may be that " Old Hog Eye" is a rather sol 
emn and startling specimen of versification, not, how 
ever, to be appreciated unless heard at the South. It 
runneth as follows : 

"Who s been licre since Tvo boon gone? 
Pretty little gal wid a j<>^y on. 

Hog Eye! 
Okl Hog Eye, 
And Ilosey too! 

Never see ue like since I was born, 
Here, come a little gal wid a josoy on. 

Hog Eye! 

Oid JlogEyc! 
And Hosoy too ! 

Or,may be the following, perhaps, equally nonsen 
sical, but full of melody, nevertheless, as it ilnws 
from the negro s mouth : 

"Ebo Dick and Jin-dan s Jo, 
Them Uvo niggers stole my yo . 

Chorus. IToji Jim til 011,11, 
Walk Jim alonr. 
Talk Jim along;" &c. 



Old black Dan, as black as tar, 
ras not clar. 

Hop Jim along," &c. 



He dam glad he was not clar. 



During the remaining holidays succeeding Christ 
mas, they are provided with passes, and permitted to 
go where they please within a limited distance, or 
they may remain and labor on .the plantation, in 



Tint:-;! : DAYS u; THE YLAIZ. 221 

which case they are paid for it. It is very rarely, 
however, that the Litter alternative is accepted, 
Thcv may he scon at those times hurrvin^ in all di- 

*; tj v O 

rections, as happy locking mortals as can he form;! 
on the face 1 of the earth. They are different being 3 
from what they are in the field; the temporary re 
laxation, the brief deliverance from fear, and from 
the lash, producing an entire metamorphosis in their 
appearance and demeanor. In visiting, riding, renew- 
i.i- <11 iond- iins, or, perchance, reviving some old 

7? -L / " i. 7 O 

attacliincnt, or pnrsuing whatever pleasure may sug- 
r;ost itsolf, the time is occupied. Such is "southern 
3iie as it i:?-," three days in the year, as I found it 
the other three hundred and sixty-two being days 
of weariness, and fear, and suffering, and unremit- 
ting labor. 

-rlarriaice is frequently contracted during the holi- 

O J. */ o 

days, if such an institution may be said to exist 
among them. The only ceremony required before 
entering into that "holy estate," is to obtain the con- 
ront of the respective owners. It is usually encour- 
ngod by the masters of female slaves. Either party 
can have as many husbands or wives as the owner 
will permit, and either is at liberty to discard the 
Cither at pleasure. The law in relation to divorce, or 
to bigamy, and so forth, is not applicable to property, 
of course. If the wife does not belong on the same 
plantation with the husband, the latter is permitted 
to visit her on Saturday nights, if the distance is not 
too far. Uncle Abnmi s wife lived seven miles from 



222 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

Epps , on Bayou Huff Power. Ho had permission to 
visit her once a fortnight, but lie was growing old, as 
lias "been said, and truth to say, had latterly well nigh 
forgotten her. Uncle Abram had no time to spavi> 
from liis meditations on General Jackson connubial 
dalliance being well enough for the young and 

o o Jo 

thoughtless, but unbecoming a rrave and solemn vlii- 

O ? O O JL 

losopher like liimself. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

cvEtiSEERS now THEY ARE ARMED AND ACCOMPANIED THE HOMICIDE 

HIS EXECUTION AT MARKS YILT.E SLAVE-DRIVERS APPOINTED DRIVER 

ON REMOVING TO BAYOU BCEUF PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT EPPS AT 
TEMPT TO CUT PLATT S THROAT THE ESCAPE FROM HIM PROTECTED 

BY THE MISTILEiS^ FORBIDS READING AND WRITING OBTAIN A SHEET 

OF PAPER AFTER NINE YEARS EFFORT THE LETTER ARMSBY, THE 

ME.VX WHITE PARTIALLY CONFIDE IN HIM HIS TREACHERY EPPS* 

EUirPICToNS HOW THEY WERE QUIETED BURNING THE LETTER." ARMS- 

13V LEAVES THE BAYOU DISAPPOINTMENT AND DESPAIR. 

TTiTu the exception of my trip to St. Mary s parish, 
and my absence during the cane-cutting seasons, I 
was constantly employed on the plantation of Master 
Epps. lie was considered but a small planter, not 
having a sufficient number of hands to require the 
services of an overseer, acting in the latter capacity 
himself. !Not able to increase his force, it was his 
custom to hire during the hurry of cotton-picking. 

On larger estates, employing fifty or a hundred, or 
perhaps two hundred hands, an overseer is deemed 
indispensable. These gentlemen ride into the field 
on horseback, without an exception, to my knowledge, 
armed with pistols, bowie knife, whip, and accompa 
nied by several dogs. They follow, equipped in this 
fashion, in rear of the slaves, keeping a sharp lookout 



224: TWELVE YEAIIS A SLAVE. 

xupon them all. Tlie requisite qualifications in an 
overseer are utter heartlessness, brutality and cruelty., 
It is liis business to produce large crops, and if that is 
accomplished, no matter what amount of suliering it 
may have cost. The presence of the dogs are neces 
sary to overhaul a fugitive who may take to his lieeb, 
as is sometimes the case, when faint or sick, lie is un 
able to maintin his row, and unable, also, to en 
dure the whip. The pistols are reserved for any dan 
gerous emergency, there having been instances when 

tD O & ? O 

such weapons were necessary. Goaded into uncon 
trollable madness, even the slave will sometimes turn 
upon his oppressor. The gallows were standing at 
Marksville last January, upon which one was execu 
ted a year ago for killing his overseer. It occurred 
not many miles from Epps plantation on Tied Ilivcr. 
The slave was given his task at splitting rails. In 
the course of the day the overseer sent him on an 
errand, which occupied so much time that it was not 
possible for him to perform the task. The next day 
he was called to an account, but the loss of time oc 
casioned by the errand was no excuse, and lie was 
ordered to kneel and bare his back for the reception 
of the lash. They were in the woods ill one beyond 
the reach of sight or hearing. The boy submitted 
until maddened at such injustice, and insane with 
pain, he sprang to his feet, and seizing an axe, liter 
ally chopped the overseer in pieces. He made no at 
tempt whatever at concealment, but hastening to his 
master, related the whole affair, and declared himself 



SLAVE DUIVI-ES. 225 

ready to expiate tiio wrong by the sacrifice of liis life, 
lie was k-d to the scaiibld, and while liie rope was 
around his neck, maintained an undismayed and 
fearless b oaring, and with his last words justified the 



csldos the overseer, there are drivers under him, 
flic number being in proportion to the number o 
hands in the field. The drivers are black, who, \ ; 
addition to the performance of their erpial share of 
work, are compelled to do the whipping of thel 
several gangs. Whips hang around their necks, an "! 
if they fail to use them thoroughly, are whipped 
themselves. They have a few privileges, however; 
for example, in cane-cutting the hands are not allow 
ed to sit down long enough to eat their dinners. Carts 
iilled wii:h corn cake, cooked at the kitchen, are driv 
en into the field at noon. The cake is distributed by 
the drivers, and must be eaten with the least possible 
delay. 

When the slave ceases to perspire, as he often does 
when taxed beyond his strength, he falls to the ground 

o O J O 

and becomes entirely helpless. It is then the duty 
of the driver to drag him into the shade of the stand 
ing cotton or cane, or of a neighboring tree, where 
be dashes buckets of water upon him, and uses other 
means of bringing out perspiration again, when he is 
ordered to his place, and compelled to continue his 

At Huff Power, when I first came to Epps , Tom, 
one of Huberts negroes, was driver. He was a burly 



220 TWELVE YEAIte A tfLAVE. 

fellow, and severe in the extreme. After Epps re 
moval to Bayou Bceuf, tliat distinguished koiior way 
conferred upon myself. Up to the time of my de 
parture I had to wear a whip about my neck in the 
field. If Epps was present, I dared not shov/ any 
/ lenity, not having the Christian fortitude of a certain 
well-known Uncle Tom sufficiently to brave his wrath, 
by refusing to perform the office. In that way, only, 
I escaped the immediate martyrdom he suffered, and, 
withal, saved my companions much suffering, as it 
proved in the end. Epps, I soon found, whether 
actually in the field or not, had his eyes pretty gen 
erally upon us. From the piazza, from behind sonic 
adjacent tree, or other concealed point of observation, 
he was perpetually on the watch. If one of us luid 
been backward or idle through the day, we were apt 
to be told all about it on. returning to the quartern, 
and as it was a matter of principle with him to re 
prove every offence of that kind that came "within his 
knowledge, the offender not only was certain of re 
ceiving a castigation for his tardiness, but I likewise 
was punished for permitting it. 

If, on the other hand, he had seen me use tho la -li 
freely, the man -was satisfied. " Practice makes per 
fect/ 7 truly ; and during my eight years experience 
cis a driver, I learned to handle the whip with mar 
velous dexterity and precision, throwing the lash 
within a hair s breadth of the back, the ear, the nose, 
without, however, touching either of them. If Epps 
-"as observed at a distance, or we had reason to ap- 



AITOIXTED DPJVEIl. I^Z 4 

prehcnd he was sneaking somewhere in the vicinity, 
I would commence plying the lash vigorously, when, 
according to arrangement, they would squirm and 
screech as if in agony, al chough not one of them had 
in fact been even grazed. Patsey would take occa 
sion, if lie made his appearance presently, to mumble 
in his hearing some complaints that Platt was lash 
ing them the whole time, and Uncle Abram, with an 
appearance of honesty peculiar to himself, would de 
clare roundly I had just whipped them worse than 
General Jackson whipped the enemy at New-Orleans. 
If Epps was not drunk, and in one of his beastly hu 
mors, this was, in general, satisfactory. If he was, 
some one or more of us must suffer, as a matter of 
course. Sometimes his violence assumed a dangerous 
form, placing the lives of his human stock in jeop- 
artlv. On one occasion the drunken madman thought 
to amuse himself by cutting my throat. 

lie had been absent at Ilolmesville, in attendance at 
a shooting-match, and none of us were aware of his 
return. "\Yhile hoeing by the side of Patsey, she ex 
claimed, in a low voice, suddenly, " Platt, d ye see 
old IIog-TaA7 beckoning me to come to him ?" 

Glancing sideways, I discovered him in the edge 
of the field, motioning and grimacing, as was his habit 
when half-intoxicated. Aware of his lewd intentions, 
Patsey began to cry. I whispered her not to look up, 
and to continue at her work, as if she had not ob 
served him. Suspecting the truth of the matter, 
hovcver, he soon staggered up to me in a great rage. 



228 TWELTE YEAJ13 A SLAVE. 

" What did you say to Pats?" lie demanded, with 
an oath. I made him some evasive an swer, which 
only had the effect of increasing his violence. 

" How long have you owned this plantation, say, 

you d d nigger?" he inquired, with a malicious 

sneer, at the same time taking hold of my shirt col 
lar with one hand, and thrusting the other into his 
pocket. "!NOW I ll cut your "black throat; that s 
what I ll do," drawing his knife from his pocket as 
he said it. But with one hand lie was unable to 
open it, until finally seizing the blade in his teeth, I 
saw he was about to succeed, and felt the necessity 
of escaping from him, for in his present reckless state, 
it was evident he was not joking, hy any means. I\ly 
shirt was open in front, and as I turned round quickly 
and sprang from him, while he still retained his gripe, 
it was stripped entirely from my hack. There was 
no difficulty now in eluding him. He would chase 
me until out of breath, then stop until it was recov 
ered, swear, and renew the chase again. !N"ow he 
would command me to come to him, now endeavor 
to coax me, but I was careful to keep at a respectful 
distance. In this manner we made the circuit of the 
field several times, he making desperate plunges, and 
I always dodging them, more amused than frightened, 
well knowing that when his sober senses returned, 
he would laut> h at his own drunken folly. At length 

O t/ O 

I observed the mistress standing by the yard fence, 
watching our half-serious, half-comical manoeuvres, 
Shooting past him, I ran directly to her. Epps, on 



PI:OTI:CT^D BY Tin- MISTKESS. 

discovering her, did not follow. IIo remained about 
the field an liour or more, during- which time I stood 
by the mi>tre. : ;s, -having related the particulars of 
what had taken place. Xow, she was aroused again, 
denouncing her husband and Patsey about equally. 
Finally, Epps came towards the house, by this time 
nearly sober, walking demurely, with his hands be 
hind his back, and attempting to look as innocent as 
a child. 

As he approached, nevertheless. Mistress Epps be 
gan to berate him roundly, heaping upon him many 
rather disrespectful epithets, and demanding ibr what 
reason he had attempted to cut my throat. Epps 
made wondrous strange of it all, and to niy surprise, 
swore by all the saints in the calendar he had not 
spoken to me that day. 

u Platt, you lying nigger, have I?" was his brazen 



It is not safe to contradict a master, even by the 
assertion of a truth. So Fwas silent, and when he en 
tered the house I returned to the field, and the affair 
was never after alluded to. 

Shortly after this time a circumstance occurred that 
came n gh divul iin:; the secret of my real name and 

GOO / 

history, which I had so long and carefully concealed, 
and upon which I was convinced depended my final 
escape. Soon after he purchased me, Epps asked 
me il I could write and road, and on being informed 
that I had received some instruction in those branches 
of education, he assured mo, with emphasis, if he ever 



TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

can glit me with a book, or with pen and ink, lie would 
give me a hundred lashes. He said lie wanted me to 
understand that lie "bought " niggers" to work and not 
to educate. lie never inquired a word of my past 
life, or from whence I came. The mistress, however, 
cross-examined me frequently about Washington, 
which she supposed was my native city, and more 
than once remarked that I did not talk nor act like 
the other " niggers," and she was sure I had seen more 
of the world than I admitted. 

My great object always was to invent means of get 
ting a letter secretly into the post-office, directed to 
some of my friends or family at the North. The diffi 
culty of such an achievement cannot be comprehend 
ed by one unacquainted with the severe restrictions 
imposed upon me. In the first place, I was deprived 
of pen, ink, and paper. In the second place, a slave 
cannot leave his plantation without a pass, nor will a 
post-master mail a letter for one without written in 
structions from his owner. I was in slavery nine 
years, and always watchful and on the alert, before I 
met with the good fortune of obtaining a sheet of pa 
per. While Epps was in New-Orleans, one winter, 
disposing of his cotton, the mistress sent me to Ilolmcs- 
ville, with an order for several articles, and among 
the rest a quantity of foolscap. I appropriated a sheet 
concealing it in the cabin, under the board on which 

O / 

I slept. 

After various experiments I succeeded in making 
ink, by boiling white maple bark, and with a feather 



THE LETTER. 231 

u, r-;ked from the wing of a duel:, manufactured a 
pen. When all were asleep in the cabin, by the light 
of the coal*, lying upon my plank couch, I managed 
to complete a somewhat lengthy epistle. It was di 
rected to an old acquaintance- at Sandy Hill, stating 
my condition, and urging him to take measures to re 
store me to liberty. This letter I kept a long time, 
contriving measures by which it could be safely de- 
p<) Led in the post-office. At length, a low fellow, by 
the name of Armsby, hitherto a stranger, came into 
the neighborhood, seeking a situation as overseer. 
He applied to Epps, and was about the plantation for 
scvc: J. days. He next went over to Shaw s, near by, 
and remained with him several weeks. Shaw was 
genially surrounded by such worthless characters, 
being himself noted as a gambler and unprincipled 
man. He had made a wife of his slave Charlotte, and 
a b rood of young mulattoes were growing up in his 
house. Armsby became so much reduced at last, 
that he wa.3 compelled to labor with the slaves. \ A 
white man working in the field is a rare and unusual 
j-pectacle on Lay on BreuttSl improved every oppor 
tunity of cultivating his acquaintance privately, de- 
sirir. 4 to obtain his confidence so far as to be willing 
to intrust the letter to his keeping. lie visited Marks- 
vino repeatedly, he informed me, a town some twenty 
miles distant, and there, I proposed to myself, the let 
ter should be mailed. 

Carefully deliberating on the most proper manner 
of approaching him on the subject, I concluded final- 



232 TWELVE YEARS A SLATE. 

]y to ask him simply if lie would deposit a letter for 
me in tlie IvTarksville post-office the next time lie vis 
ited that place, without disclosing to liiin that the let 
ter was written, or any of the particulars it contained ; 
for I had fears that he might betray me, and know 
that some inducement must bo held ont to him of a 
pecuniary nature, before it vronld bo safe to confide 
in him. . As late as one o clock one night I stole noise 
lessly from my cabin, and, crossing the field to Shaw s, 
found him sleeping on the piazza. I had but a few 
picayunes the proceeds of my fiddling performan 
ces, but all I had in the world I promised him if he 
would do me the favor required. I begged him not 
to expose me if he could not grant the request. lie 
assured me, upon Iris honor, he would deposit it in the 
Marksville post-office, and that he would keep it an 
inviolable secret forever. Though the letter was in 
my pocket at the time, I dared not then deliver it to 
him, but stating I would have it written in a day or 
two, bade him good night, and returned to my cab 
in. It was impossible for" me to expel the suspicions 
I entertained, and all night I lay awake, revolving in 
my mind the safest course to pursue. I was willing 
to risk a great deal to accomplish my purpose, but 
should the letter by any means fall into the hands of 
Epps, it would be a death-blow to my aspirations. I 
was " perplexed in the extreme." 

My suspicions were well-founded, as the sequel de 
monstrated. The next day but one, while scraping cot 
ton in the field, Epps seated himself on the line fence 



Errs SUSPICIONS. z33 

between Shaw s plantation and his own, in such a po 
sition as to overlook the scene of our labors. Pres 
ently Armsby made his appearance, and, mounting 
the fence, took a scat beside him. They remained 
two or three hours, all of which time I was in an ag 
ony of apprehension. 

That night, while broiling my bacon, Epps entered 
the cabin with his rawhide in his hand. 

;i Well, boy, said he, i; I understand I ve got a 
hirncd nigger, that writes letters, and tries to get 
white fellows to mail em. Wonder if you know who 
he is r 

Z\Iv worst fears were realized, and although it may 

v O / 

not be considered entirely creditable, even under the 
circumstances, yet a report to duplicity and downright 
falsehood was the only refuge that presented itself. 

" Don t know nothing about it, Master Epps," I an 
swered, him, assuming an air of ignorance and sur 
prise ; i; Don t kir..w nothing at all about it, sir." 

i; \Tan t vou over to Shaw s night before last?" he 
inquire,.!. 

t: Xo, master," was the reply. 

; I-Liv nt yon asked that fellow, Armsby, to mail a 
letter lor yon at Marksville ":" 

" Why, Lord, master, 1 never spoke three words to 
him in all my life. I don t know what you mean." 

Well," he continued, " Armsby told me to-day the 
devil was among my niggers ; that I had one that 
needed close watching or he would run away; and 
when I axed him why, he said you come over to 



34: TWELVE TEARS A SLAVE. 

Shaw s, and waked him up in the night, and wanted 
him to cany a letter to Marksville. What have you 
got to say to that, ha 2" 

"All I ve got to say, master," I replied, "is, there 
is no truth in it. How could i write a letter wit] ion f, 
any ink or paper ? There is nobody I want to write 
to, cause I haint got no friends living as I know of. 
That Armsby is a lying, drunken fellow, they say, and 
nobody believes him anyway. You know I always 
tell the truth, and that I never go off the plantation 
without a pa.;s. IN~OW, master, I can see what that 
Armsby is after, plain enough. Did nt lie want you 
to hire him for an overseer? 5 

"Yes, he wanted me to hire him," answered Epp.i. 

" That s it," said I, "he wants to make you believe 
we re all going to run away, and then he thinks you ll 
hire an overseer to watch us. lie jn,:t made that sto 
ry out of whole cloth, cause lie wants to get a situa 
tion. It s all a lie, master, you may depend on t." 

Epps mused awhile, evidently impressed with the 

JL JL / JL 

plausibility of my theory, and exclaimed, 

"Tin d d, Platt, if I don t believe you tell the 
truth. He must take me for a soft, to think he can 
come it over me with them kind of yarns, mnm t he? 
Maybe lie thinks he can fool me; maybe he thinks 
I don t know nothing can t take care of my own 
niggers, eh ! Soft soap old Epps, eh! II a, ha, Im ! 
D n Arnisby! Set the dogs on him, Platt," tind 
with many other comments descriptive of Armsby s 
general character, and his capability of taking care of 



DISAPPOINTMENT AND DE3PAIK. 235 

3; s own business, and attending to his own "niggers," 
1 Lv-ter Epps left tlio cabin. As soon as lie was gone 
i tli vow the letter in the fire, and, witli a desponding 
nnd despairing heart, Lehehl the epistle whicli had 
v.t me so much anxiety and thought, and which I 
fondly hoped would have Leon my forerunner to tlio 
hind of freedom, writhe and shrivel on its Led of coals, 
and dissolve into smoke and ashes. ArmsLy, tlio 
treacherous wretch, was driven fiv-m Shaw s planta 
tion not long subsequently, much to my relief, for I 
.bared he might renew his conversation, and perhaps 
induce Epps to credit him. 

I knew not now whither to look for deliverance. 
Hopes sprang np in my heart only to Le crushed and 
ol ; <;htcd. The summer of my life was passing aw^y ; 
I iblt I was growing prematurely old ; that a lew 
years more, and toil, and grief, and the poisonons mi- 
asmas of the swamps would accomplish their work 
up .ai me would consign me to the grave s cmhrace, 
L:J moulder and Le forgotten. Ilepelled, Letrayed, cut 
ofi iroin tlio hope of succor, I could only prostrate 
m"self UDon the earth and ^roan in nnntteraLle an- 

i -i. O 

gni:-li. The hope of rescue was the only light that 
ca.-t a ray of comfort on my heart. That was now 
flickering, faint and low ; another Lreath of disap 
pointment would extinguish it altogether, leaving mo 
to iriwe in midnight darkness to the end of life. 



CIiAPTER XVII. 

VTILEY DISREGARDS THE COUNSELS OF AUNT niEHE AND UNCLE AHllA^, 
AND IS CAUGHT BY THE rATilOLLKIlo THE Oi;0 ANIMATION AND DUT I .-} 

OF THE LATTETI WILEY liUNS AWAY SPECULATIONS IN JMXIATID TO 

HIM II IS UNEXPECTED RETURN IMS CAPTURE ON RED lUYEr:, ANT) 

CONFINEMENT IN ALEXANDRIA JAIL DISCOVERED BY JOSE . IJ H. K J!>- 

ERTS SUJ5DUINQ DOGS IN ANTICIPATION OF ESCAPE T;:^ M ^rJ IVP: , 

IX THE CUE AT TINE WOODS CAPTURED BY ADA"! TAYDEM AND ! !.". 

INDIANS AUGUSTUS KILLED BY DOGS NELLY, ELDIIET ? S SLAV:-: V. OMA N 

TIIESTOIIY OF CELESTE THE CONCERTED MOVEMENT LEV. C-IEENE V, 

THE TIIAITOU THE IDEA OF iNSUIUlECTION. 

TIIE year 1850, cloAvn to \vliieli time I liave r.ov,- nr- 
rived, omitting many occurrences uninteresting to i ;o 
]*eader, \vas an unlucky year for my companion Vril^y, 
the husband of Phche, \vliose taciturn and retiring 
nature has thus i^r kept him in the background, Not 
withstanding Wiley seldom opened his month, ar ; d 
revolved in his obscure and unpretending orbit* v;:th- 
out a grumble, nevertheless the warm elements of. so 
ciality vrere strong in the bosom of that silent " n . r- 
ger.". In the exuberance of his self-reliance, disre 
garding the philosophy of Uncle Abram, and setting 
the counsels of Aunt Pliebe utterly at naught, he Lad 
the fool-hardiness to essay a nocturnal visit to a neigh 
boring cabin without a pass. 



WILEY S INDISCEKTION. 237 



^So attractive was the society in which lie found 
himself, tliat Yfiley took little note of the passing 
hours, and the light began to break in the east before 
ho was aware. Speeding homeward as fust as he 
could run, he hoped to reach the quarters before the 
horn would sound ; but, unhappily, he was spied on 
the way by a company of patrollers. 

How it is in other dark places of slavery, I do not 
l;now, but on Bayou Bceuf there is an organization of 
patrollers, as they are styled, whose business it is to 
seize and whip any slave they may find wandering 
from the plantation. They ride on horseback, headed 
by a captain, armed, and accompanied by dogs. They 
have the right, either by law, or by general consent, 
to inllict discretionary chastisement upon a black man 
caught beyond the boundaries of his master s estate 
without a pa^ r.ud even to shoot him, if he attempts 
to escape. Each company has a certain distance to 
ri!e up and down the bayou. They are compensated 
by the planters, who contribute in proportion to the 
number of slaves they own. The clatter of their hor- 
bes ? hooid dashing by can be heard at all hours of the 
i light, and frequently they may be seen driving a 
slave before them, or leading him by a rope fastened 
around his neck, to his owners plantation. 

"Wiley fled before one of these companies, thinking 
he could reach his cabin before they could overtake 
him ; but one of their dogs, a great ravenous hound, 
griped him by the leg, and held him fast. The pa- 
;::!!.;. vJiij_>i/o 1 him severe! v, and brought him, u 



23S TWELVE YEAI:3 A SLAVE. 

prisoner, to Epps. From lain he received another 
flagellation still more severe, so that the cul s of tlio 

O J 

lash and the bites of the dog rendered him sere, still 
and miserable, insomuch lie was scarcely able to move. 
It was impossible in such a state to keep up his row, 
and consequently there was not an hour in the day 
but Wiley felt the sting of his master s rawhide on 
his raw and bleeding back. His suliermgs became 
intolerable, and finally he resolved to run away. 
Without disclosing his intentions to run away even 
to his wile Phehe, lie proceeded to make arrange 
ments for carrying his plan into execution. Having 
cooked his whole week s allowance, ho caiitiov.sly loiu 
the cabin on a Sunday night, afuer the inmates of the 
(juartcrs were asleep. "When the horn sounded in (ho 
morning, Wiley did not make his appearance. Search 
was made for him in the cabins, in the corn-crib, in 
the cotton-house, and in every nook and corner of iho 
premises. Each of us was examined, touching rmy 
knowleda c we mi dit have that could throw 11 "ht upon 

O O 1- 

his sudden disappearance or present whereaboul - 
Epps raved and siorincd, and mounting his horse, gal 
loped to neighboring plantations, making inquiries 
in all directions. The search was fruitless. Hoiking 
whatever was elicited, going to show what had be- 

/ o o 

come of the missing man. The dog-; were led to > 
swamp, but were unable to strike his tr;;H. Th- 
would circle away through the forest; their nose:. 1 > 
the ground, but invariably returned in a short tinrj 
to the- spot from whence they Parted 



WILI:Y ij CAITUIIK o:-i ii;-;n RIVEE, 
Wilev Iiad cscrmed, and so secretly and cautiously 

i, -L J *J */ 

as to elude and bailie all pursuit. Days and even 
weeks passed away, and nothing could be heard of 
lii ni. Epps did nothing "but curse and swear. It was 
the only topic of conversation among us when alone. 
We indulged in a great deal of speculation in regard 
to him, one suggesting he might have been drowned 
in some hay on, inasmuch as lie was a poor swimmer; 
another, that perhaps he might have been devoured, 
bv alligators, or stung by the venomous moccasin, 
whose Lite is certain and sudden death. The warm 
and -hearty sympathies of us aft, however, were 
with poor Wiley, wherever ho might be. Many an 
earnest prayer ascended from the lips of Uncle Abram, 
beseeching saic-ty for the wanderer. 

In about three weeks, when all hope of ever seeing 
him again was dismissed, to onr surprise, he one day 
appeared among us. On leaving the plantation, he 
informed us, it was his intention to make his way 
bark i o South Carolina to the old ouarters of Mas- 
u/r r>uf<>id. During the day ho remained secreted, 
K ineLimos in tlie branches <>f a tree, and at night 
preyed ibr\\-ai d througli the swamps. Finally, one 
morning, just at dawn, he reached the shore of lied 
Paver. While standing on the- haul:, considering how 
ho could cross it, a white man accosted him, and cle- 
manded a pass. Without one, and evidently a runa 
way, he was taken to Alexandria, the si lire town of 
tlie pari^-h of Iiap dcs, and confined in prison. It 
h -j ] ".-..:.! f-veral days after that Joseph L-, Robcif^ ; 



2 TWELVE YEA113 A SLAVE. 

nude of Mistress Epps, was in Alexandria, and going 
into the jail, recognized him. Wiley had worked on 
his plantation, when Epps resided at Hull Power. 
Paying the jail fee, and writing him a pass, under 
neath which was a note to Epps, requesting him riot 
to whip him on his return, Wiley was sent Lack to 
Bayou Bceuf. It was the hope that hnng upon this 
request, and which HoLerts assured him would Lc re 
spected Ly his master, that sustained him as lie ap 
proached the house. The request, however, as may 
Lc readily supposed, was entirely disregarded. After 
Leing kept in suspense three days, "Wiley was stripped, 
and compelled to endure one of those inhuman i log 
gings to which the poor slave is so often subjected. 
It was the first and last attempt of Wiley to run awav. 

/ / 

The long scars upon his Lack, which he will carry 
with him to the grave, perpetually remind him of the 
dangers of such a step. 

There was not a day throughout the ten years I Lc- 

/ O i7 

longed to Epps that I did not consult with myself upon 
the prospect of escape. I laid many plans, which at 
the time I considered excellent ones, Lut one after the 
other they were all abandoned. ~No man who has 
never Leen placed in such a situation, can comprehend 
the thousand oLstacl es thrown in the way of the ilying 
slave. Every white man s hand is raised against him 
the patrollers are watching for him the hounds 
are ready to folloAV on his track, and the nature of 
I3ie country is such as renders it impossible to p.vs 
fhroii^h ii with any safeiv. I thought, however, dial 



FUGITIVES i:\ THE TINE WOODS. 2il 

the time might conic, perhaps, when I sliould be run- 
31 ing through tlic swamps again. I concluded, in that 
case, to be prepared for Epps dogs, should they pur 
sue me. He possessed several, one of which was a 
notorious slave-hunter, and the most fierce and savage 
of his breed. AVhile out hunting the coon or the 
opossum, I never allowed an opportunity to escape, 
v. licn alone, of whipping them severely. In this man 
ner I succeeded at length in subduing them com 
pletely. They feared me, obeying my voice at once 
when others had no control over them whatever. 
I Fad they followed and overtaken me, I doubt not 
they would have shrank from attacking me. 

Notwithstanding the certainty of being captured, 
fho woods and swamps arc, nevertheless, continually 
filled with runaways. Many of them, when sick, or 
;-;o worn out as to be unable to perform their tasks, 
--cape info the swamps, willing to suffer the punish 
ment inflicted for such offences, in order to obtain a 
!ay or two of rest. 

While I belonged to Ford, I was unwittingly the 
moans of disclosing the hiding-place of six or eight, 
who had taken up their residence in the " Great Pine 
\Voods." -Adam Tnydem frequently sent me from 
the mills over to the opening after provisions. The 
".hole distance was then a thick pine forest. About 
ton o clock of a beautiful moonlight night, while 
talking along the Texas road, returning to the mills, 
arrying a dressed pig 1 in a bag swung over my 
t-h"iilde) , I heard footsteps behind me, and turning 
K I 1 



2-12 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

round, beheld two black men in the dress of slaves 
approaching at a rapid pace. When within a short 
distance, one of them raised a club, as if intending to 
strike me ; the other snatched at the bag. I managed 
to dodge them both, and seizing a pine knot, hurled 
it with such force against the head of one of them 
that he was prostrated apparently senseless to the 
ground. Just then two more made their appearance 
from one side of the road. Before they could grapple 
me, however, I succeeded in passing them, and taking 
to my heels, fled, much affrighted, towards the mills. 
When Adam was informed of the adventure, he 
hastened straightway to the Indian village, and arous 
ing Cascalla and several of his tribe, started in pur 
suit of the highwaymen. I accompanied them to the 
scene of attack, when we discovered a puddle of 
blood in the road; where the man whom I Lad smit 
ten with the pine knot had fallen. After searching 
carefully through the woods a long time, one of Cas 
calla s men discovered a smoke curling up through 
the branches of several prostrate pines, who. : -:o tops 
had fallen together. The rendezvous was cautiously 

o J 

surrounded, and all of them taken prisoners. They 
had escaped from a plantation in the vicinity of La- 
mourie, and had been secreted there three week?:. 
They had no evil design upon me, except to frig] it en 
me out of my pig. Having observed mo passing 
towards Ford s just at night-fall, and suspecting the 
nature of my errand, they had followed me, seen me 
butcher and dress the porker, and start on my retm?i. 



AUGUSTUS KILLED LY DOGS, 

They had been pinched for food, and were driven 

to this extremity by necessity. Adam conveyed 
{.hem to the parish jail, and was liberally rewarded. 

i\"ot unfrecpaently the runawa y loses his life in tlie 
attempt to escape. Epps premises were bounded cr 
one side by Carey s, a very extensive sugar planta- 
LI- iii. lie cultivates annually at least fifteen hundred 
acres of cane, manufacturing twenty-two or twenty- 
three hundred hogsheads of sugar; an hogshead and 
a half being the usual yield of an acre. Besides this 
he also cultivates live or six hundred acres of corn and 
cotton. lie owned last year one hundred and fifty 
three Held hands, besides nearly as many children, and 
vcr.rly hires a drove during the busy season from this 
side the Mississippi. 

One of his negro drivers, a pleasant, intelligent 
l.ov, wa; name.! Augustus. During the holidays, and 
occasionally while at work in adjoining fields, I ha*? 
an opportunity of making his acquaintance, which 
eventually ripened into a warm and mutual attach 
ment. Summer before last he was so unfortunate as 
10 incur the displeasure of the overseer, a coarse, 
heartless brute, who whipped him most cruelly. Au- 
g-ustus ran away, teaching a cane rick on Hawkins 
plantation, he secreted himself in the top of it. All 
Carey s dogs were put upon his track some fifteen 
(L ? them and soon scented his footsteps to the hiding 
plf: cc. They surrounded the rick, baying and scratch- 
ing, but could not reach him. Presently, guided h>y 
the clamor of [he L.unl : ; the pursuers rode up, when 



244: TWELVE YEAIIS A SLAVE. 

tlio overseer, mounting on to the rick, drew him forth. 
As be rolled down to the ground the whole pack 
plunged upon him, and before they could ho beaten 
off, had gnawed and mutilated his body in the most 
shocking manner, their teeth having penetrated to 
the bone in an hundred places. lie was taken up, 
tied upon a mule, and carried home. But this was 
Augustus last trouble. He lingered until the next 
day, when death sought the unhappy boy, and kindly 
relieved him from his agony. 

It was not unusual for slave women as well as slave 
men to endeavor to escape. Kelly, Eldret s girl, with 
whom I lumbered for a time in the "Big Cane 
Brake," lay concealed in Epps corn crib three days. 
At night, when his family were asleep, she would 
steal into the quarters for food, and return to the crib 
again. We concluded it would no longer be safe for 
us to allow her to remain, and accordingly she re 
traced her steps to her own cabin. 

But the most remarkable instance of a successful 
evasion of dogs and hunters was the following : 
Among Carey s girls was one by the name of Celeste. 
She was nineteen or twenty, and far whiter than her 
owner, or any of his offspring. It required a close 
inspection to distinguish in her features the slightest 
trace of African blood. A stranger would never 
have dreamed that she was the descendant of slaves. 
I was sitting in my cabin late at night, playing a low 
air on my violin, when the door opened carefully, and 
Celeste stood before mo. Sho war? pnlc and h-g^aid 



STUiil OF (JlXhSTi:. 245 

Had an apparition arisen from the earth, I could not 
Lave been more startled. 

" Yriio are you?" I demanded, after gazing at her 
a moment. 

a Tin hungry ; i.r vc me some bacon," was her reply. 

[y ilivt impression was that she was some de- 

ivav^ed voiing mistress, who, escaping from home, was 

O t- O ? -L O 

wandering, she knew not whither, and had been 
attracted to my cabin by the sound of the violin. 
The coarse cotton slave dress she wore, however, soon 
dispelled such a supposition. 

u \Vhat is your name ?" I again interrogated. 

" My name is Celeste," she answered. " I belong 
to Carey, and have been two days among the pal- 
mcttoes. I am sick and can t work, and would rather 
die in the swamp than be whipped to death by tho 
overseer. Carey s dogs won t follow me. They have 
tried to set them on. There s a secret between them 
and Celeste, and they wont mind the devilish orders 
of tho overseer. Give me some meat I m starving." 

I divided my scanty allowance with her, and while 
partaking of it, she related how she had managed to 
escape, and described the place of her concealment. 
In the edge of the swamp, not half a mile from Epps 
house, was a large space, thousands of acres in 
extent, thickly covered with palmetto. Tall trees, 
whose long arms interlocked each other, formed a 
canopy above them, so dense as to exclude the beams 
of the sun. It was like twilight always, even in the 
middle of the brightest dav. In the centre of this 



MG TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

great space, winch nothing but serpents very often 
explore a sombre and solitary spot Celeste liad 
erected a rude hut of dead branches that had fallen. 
to the ground, and covered it witli the leaves of the 

o 

palmetto. This was the abode she had selected. 
She had no fear of Carey s dogs, any more than I had 
of Epps 7 . It is a fact, which I have never been able 
to explain, that there are those whose tracks the 
hounds will absolutely refuse to follow. Celeste was 
one of them. 

For several nights she came to my cabin for food. 

O t/ 

On one occasion our dogs barked as she approached, 
which aroused Epps, and induced him to reconnoitre 
the premises. lie did not discover her, but after that 
it was not deemed prudent for her to come to tho 
yard. \Yhen all was silent I carried provisions to a 
certain spot agreed upon, where she would find them. 
In this manner Celeste passed the greater part of 
the summer. She regained her health, and became 
strong and hearty. At all seasons of the year the 
liowlings of wild animals can be heard at night along 
the borders of the swamps. Several times they had 
made her a midnight call, awakening her from slum 
ber with a OTowl. Terrified by such unpleasant spin- 

O / j_ 

tations, she finally concluded to abandon her lonely 
dwelling ; and, accordingly, returning to her master, 
was scourged, her neck meanwhile being fastened in 
the stocks, and sent into the field again. 

The year before my arrival in the country there 
was a concerted movement among a number of slaves 



THE CONCERTED MOVEMENT. 247 

on Bayou Boouf, that terminated tragically indeed. 
It was, I presume, a matter of newspaper notoriety at 
the time, Imt all the knowledge I have of it, has been 
derived from the relation of those living at that period 
in the immediate vicinity of the excitement. It has 
Lc-come a subject of general and unfailing interest in 
every slave-hut on the bayou, and will doubtless go 
down to succeeding generations as their chief tradi 
tion. Lew Cheney, with whom I became acquainted 
a shrewd, cunning negro, more intelligent than the 
generality of his race, but unscrupulous and full of 
treachery conceived the project of organizing a com 
pany sufficiently strong to light their way against all 
opposition, to the neighboring territory of Mexico. 

A remote spot, far within the depths of the swamp, 
buck of Hawkins plantation, was selected as the ral 
lying point. Lew flitted from one plantation to an 
other, in the dead of night, preaching a crusade to 
2>roxico, and, like Peter the Hermit, creating a furor 
of excitement wherever he appeared. At length a 
largo number of runaways were assembled; stolen 
mules, and corn gathered from the fields, and bacon 
filched from smoke-houses, had been conveyed into 
the woods. The expedition was about ready to pro 
ceed, when their hiding place was discovered. Lev/ 
Cheney, becoming convinced of the ultimate failure 
of his project, in order to curry favor with his master, 
and avoid the consequences which he foresaw would 
follow, deliberately determined to sacrifice all his 
companions. Departing secretly from the encamp- 



24:8 TWELVE YEAKS A SLAVE, 

ment, lie proclaimed among tlic planters the number 
collected in the swamp, and, instead of stating truly 
the object JIICY had in view, asserted their intention 
was to emerge from their seclusion the first favorable. 
opportunity, and murder every white person along Ihu 
bayou. 

Such an announcement, exaggerated as it passed 
from month to month, filled the whole country with 
terror. The fugitives were surrounded and taken pris 
oners, carried in chains to Alexandria, and hung by 
the populace. Not only those, but many who were 
suspected, though entirely innocent, were taken from 
the field and from the cabin, and without the shadow 
of process or form of trial, hurried to the scaffold. 
The planters on Bayou Bcouf finally rebelled against 
such reckless destruction of property, but it was not 
until a rcp inient of soldiers had arrived from some- 

O 

fort on the Texan frontier, demolished the gallows, 
and opened the doors of the Alexandria prison, that 
the indiscriminate slaughter was stayed. Lew Che 
ney escaped, and was even rewarded ibr his treachery, 
lie is still living, but his name is despised and exe 
crated by all his race throughout the parishes of 
Ilapides and Avoyelles. 

Such an idea as insurrection, however, is not new 
among the enslaved population of Bayou Bojuf. More 
than once I have joined in serious consultation, when 
the subject has been discussed, and there have been 
times when a word from me would have placed hun 
dreds of my fellow-bondsmen in an attitude of deli- 



HIE LD11A OF IXSl ltKECTIuX. 240 

aucc. Yv ithout arms or ammunition, or oven with 
them, I saw such a step would result in certain defeat, 
disaster and death, and always raised my voice 
against it. 

During tlio Mexican war I well remember the ex 
tra vapi;;t hopes that were excited. The news of vie 
tory tilled the great house with rejoicing, but pro 
duced only sorrow and disappointment in the cabin. 
In my opinion and I have had opportunity to know 
something of the feeling of which. I speak there are 
not fifty slaves on the shores of Bayou Bconf, but 
would hail with unmeasured delight tlie approach of 
an invading army. 

They are deceived who flatter themselves that tho 
ignorant and debased slave has no conception of the 
magnitude of his wrongs. They are deceived who 
imagine that he arises from his knees, with back la 
cerated and bleeding, cherishing only a spirit of meek 
ness and forgiveness. A day may come it will 
come, if his prayer is heard a terrible day of ven 
geance, when the master in his turn will cry in vain 
for mercy. 

Jv* 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



, THE TANNER - CONVERSATION WITH AUNT PIIEBE OVERHEARD Err 3 
IN THE TANNING BUSINESS - STACKING OF UNCLE ABRAM - THE UGLY 
WOUND - EPPS IS JEALOUS - PATSEY IS MISSING - HER RETURN FRO-tt 
BHAW S - HARRIET, SHAw s BLACK WIFE - EPP3 ENRAGED - I ATSEY I>E- 
KEES HIS CHARGES - SHE LS TIED DOWN NAKED TO FOUR STAK .F.S - Tn i" 
INHUMAN FLOGGING - FLAYING OF PATSSY - THE BEAUTY OF THE DAY - 
THE BUCKET OF SALT WATER - THE DRESS STIFF WITH BLOOD - PAT.= EV 
GROWS MELANCHOLY - HER IDEA OF GOD AND ETERNITY - OF HEAVEN AND 
FREEDOM - THE EFFECT OF SLAVE- WHIPPING - EPPS OLDEST SON - "TKE 
CHILD IS FATHER TO THE MAN." 

WILEY suffered severely at tlio hands of Master 
Epps, as has been related in the preceding chapter, 
but in this respect lie fared no worse than his unfor 
tunate companions. " Spare the rod," was an iden 
scouted by our master. He was constitutionally sub 
ject to periods of ill-humor, and at such times, how 
ever little provocation there might be, a certain 
amount of punishment w r as inflicted. The circum- 
etances attending the last flogging but one that I re 
ceived, will show how trivial a cause was sufficient 
with him for resorting to the whip. 

A Mr. O !Niel, residing in the vicinity of the Big 
Fine Woods, called upon Epps for the purpose of pur- 



o tflEL, THE TAlNXER. 251 

chasing me. lie was a tanner and currier by occu 
pation, transacting an extensive business, and intend 
ed to place me at service in some department of liis 
establishment, provided lie bought me. Aunt Phebe, 
while preparing the dinner-table in the great house, 
overheard their conversation. On returning to the 

o 

yard at night, the old woman ran to meet me, design 
ing, of course, to overwhelm me with the news. She 
entered into a minute repetition of all she had heard, 
and Aunt Phebe was one whose cars never failed to 
drink in every word of conversation uttered in her 
hearing. She enlarged upon the fact that "]\Iassa 
Epps was g wine to sell me to a tanner ober in de 
Pine TVoods,- so long and loudly as to attract the at 
tention of the mistress, who, standing unobserved on 
the piazza at the time, was listening to our conver 
sation. 

" TTelh Aunt Phebe," said I, " I m glad of it. I m 
tired of scraping cotton, and would rather be a tanner. 

IT T - T ^ 

pe lie li.buy me. 

(VXiel did not effect a purchase, however, the par 
ties differing as to price, and the morning following 
his arrival, departed homewards. He had been gone 
but a short time, when Epps made his appearance in 
the field. Xow nothing will more violently enrage a 

O i/ O 

master, especially Epps, than the intimation of one of 
l;;s servants that he would like to leave him. Mis 
tress Epps had repeated to him my expressions to 
Aunt Plicbe the evening previous, as I learned from 
the latter afterwards, the mistress having mentioned 



TWELVE YEAK3 A SLAVK. 

to her that she had overheard us. On entering the 
field, Epps walked directly to inc. 

" So, Platt, you re tired of scraping cotton, are yon ? 
You would like to change your master, eh ? You Ye. 
fond of moving round traveler ain t ye? Ah, 
yes like to travel for your health, may bo ? Feel 
above cotton-scraping, I spose. So yon Ye going into 
the tanning business? Good business devilish line 
business. Enterprising nigger ! B lieve I ll go into 
that business myself. Down on your knees, and strip 
that rag off your back ! I ll try my hand at tanning." 

I begged earnestly, and endeavored to soften him 
with excuses, but in vain. There was no other alter 
native ; so kneeling down, I presented my bare back 
for the application of the lash. 

" How do you like tannin y . ? " lie exclaimed, as the 
rawhide descended upon my flesh. " I low do you 
like tanning ? " he repeated at every blow. In this 
manner lie gave me twenty or thirty lashes, inces 
santly giving utterance to the word " tanning," in one 
form of expression or another. "When sufficiently 
" tanned," he allowed me to arise, and with a half- 
malicious laugh assured me, if I still fancied the busi 
ness, he would give me further instruction in it when 
ever I desired. This time, he remarked, he had only 
given me a short lesson in " tannin fj "- - the next time 
lie would " curry me down." 

Uncle Abram, also, was frequently treated with 
great brutality, although he was one of the kindest 
and most faithful creatures in the world, lie was my 



cabin-mate ibr years. There was a benevolent ex 
pression in the old man s face, pleasant to behold, 
lie regarded us with a kind of parental feeling, always 
counseling us with remarkable gravity and delibe 
ration. 

Eeturning from Marshall s plantation one afternoon, 
whither I had been sent on some errand of the mis 
tress, I found him lying on the cabin floor, his clothes 
saturated with blood. He informed me that he had 
been stabbed ! While spreading cotton on the scaf- 
fuld, Epps came home intoxicated from Holmesville. 
lie found fault with every thing, giving many orders 
so directly contrary that it was impossible to execute 
any of them. Uncle Abram, whose faculties were 
growing dull, became confused, and committed some 
blunder of no particular consequence. Epps was so 
enraged thereat, that, with drunken recklessness, ho 
flow upon the old man, and stabbed him in the back. 
It was a long, ugly wound, but did not happen to 
penetrate far enough to result fatally. It was sewed 
up by the mistress, who censured her husband with 
extreme severity, not only denouncing his inhumanity, 
but declaring that she expected nothing else than that 
he would bring the family to poverty that lie would 
kill all the slaves on the plantation in some of his 
drunken fits. 

It was no uncommon thing with him to prostrate 
Aunt Phebc with a chair or stick of wood ; but the 
most cruel whipping that ever I was doomed to wit 
ness one I can never recall with any other emotion 



251- TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

than that of horror was inflicted on the unfortunate 
Patsey. 

It has been seen that the jealousy and hatred of 
Mistress Epps made the daily life of her young and 
agile slave completely miserable. I am happy in the 
belief that on numerous occasions I was the means of 
averting punishment from the inoffensive girl. In 
Epps absence the mistress often ordered me to whip 
her without the remotest provocation. I would refuse, 
saying that I feared my master s displeasure, and sev 
eral times ventured to remonstrate with her against 
the treatment Patsey received. I endeavored to im 
press her with the truth that the latter was not re 
sponsible for the acts of which she complained, but 
that she being a slave, and subject entirely to her 
master s will, he alone was answerable. 

At length " the green-eyed monster " crept into the 
soul of Epps also, and then it was that he joined with 
his wrathful wife in an infernal jubilee over the girl s 
miseries. 

On a Sabbath day in hoeing time, not long ago, we 
were on the bayou bank, washing our clothes, as was 
our usual custom. Presently Patsey was missing 
Epps called aloud, but there was no answer. Ko one 
had observed her leaving the yard, and it was a won 
der with us whither she had gone. In the course of 
a couple of hours she was seen approaching from the 
direction of Shaw s. This man, as has been intima 
ted, was a notorious profligate, and withal not on the 
most friendly terms with Epps. Harriet, his black 



255 
wife, knowing Patsey s troubles, was kind to licr, in 

O y 

c >iisc<Tucnce of Avliicli the latter was in the habit of 
going over to see her every opportunity. Her visits 
were prompted by friendship merely, but the suspi 
cion gradually entered the brain of Epps, that another 
and a baser passion led her thither that it was not 
Harriet she desired to meet, but rather the unblush 
ing libertine, his neighbor. Patsey found her master 
in a fearful rage on her return. His violence so 
alarmed her that at first she attempted to evade direct 
answers to his questions, which only served to increase 
his suspicions. She finally, however, drew herself up 
proudly, and in a spirit of indignation boldly denied 
his charges. 

u Missus don t give me soap to wash with, as she 
docs the rest/ said Patsey, "and you know why. I 
went over to Harriet s to get a piece," and saying this, 
[.-he drew it forth from a pocket in her dress and ex 
hibited, it to him. ;i That s what I went to Shaw s for, 
lUassa Epps, continued she ; " the Lord knows that 
was all." 

" You lie, you black wench! " shouted Epps. 

" 1 doii t lie, massa. If you kill me, 111 stick to that." 

Oh ! I ll fetch you down. Ill learn you to go to 
Shaw s. Ill take the starch out of ye," he muttered 
fiercely through his shut teeth. 

Then turning to me, he ordered four stakes to bo 
driven into the ground, pointing with the toe of his 
booL to the places where he wanted them. "When the 
etakoo were driven down, lie ordered her to be strip- 



250 TWELV70 YEAltS A SLAVE. 

ped of every article of dress. Itopes wore then 
brought, and tlie naked girl was laid upon her face, 
her wrists and feet each tied firmly to a stake. Step 
ping to the piazza, he took down a heavy whip, and 
placing it in my hands, commanded me to lash her. 
Unpleasant as it was, I was compelled to obey him. 
j^owhere that day, on the face of the whole earth, I 
venture to say, was there such a demoniac exhibition 
witnessed as then ensued. 

Mistress Epps stood on the piazza among her chil 
dren, gazing on the scene with an air of heartless sat 
isfaction. The slaves were huddled together at a lit 
tle distance, their countenances indicating the sorrow 
of their hearts. Poor Patsey prayed piteously for. 
mercy, but her prayers were vain. Epps ground his 
teeth, and stamped upon the ground, screaming at me, 
like a mad fiend, to strike Ji artier. 

" Strike harder, or ymir turn will come next, yon 
scoundrel," he yelled. 

" Oli, mercy, massa ! -oh! have mercy, do. Oh, 
God ! pity me," Patsey exclaimed continually, strug 
gling fruitlessly, and the flesh quivering at every 
stroke. 

"When I had struck her as many as thirty times, I 
stopped, and turned round toward Epps, hoping ho 
was satisfied ; but with bitter oaths and threat.?, ho 
ordered me to continue. I inflicted ten or fifteen 
blows more. By this time her back was covered with 
Jong welts, intersecting eacli other like net work. 
Epps was yet furious and savage as ever, dcmandnur 



FLA\IXG uF PATiiEi*. 257 

if iL-lio would liko to go to Shaw s again, and swear- 
ing lie would flog her until she wished she was in h 1. 
Throwing down the wliip, I declared I could punish 
her no more. He ordered me to go on, threatening 
mo with a severer flogging than she had received, in 
en.-e of refusal. l\Iy heart revolted at the inhuman 
scene, and risking the consequences, I absolutely re 
fused to raise the whip. lie then seized it himself, 
and applied it with ten-fold greater force than I had. 
The painful cries and shrieks of the tortured Patsey, 
mingling with the loud and angry curses of Epps, 
loaded the air. She was terribly lacerated I may 
say, without exaggeration, literally flayed. The 
lash was wet with blood, which flowed down her 
sides and dropped upon the ground. At length sho 
ceased struggling. Her head sank listlessly on tho 
ground. Her screams and supplications gradually 
decreased and died away into a low moan. She no 
lunger writhed and shrank beneath the lash when it bit 
out small pieces of her flesh. I thought that she was 
dying! 

^ It was the Sabbath of the Lord. The fields smiled 
in the warm sunlight the birds chirped merrily 
amidst the foliage of the trees peace and happiness 
seemed to reign everywhere, save in the bosoms of 
Epps and his panting victim and the silent witnesses 
around him. The tempestuous emotions that were 
raging there were little in harmony with the calm 
and quiet beauty of the day. I could look on Epps 
only with unutterable loathing and abhorrence, and 



TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

thought within myself "Thou devil, sooner or later, 
somewhere in the course of eternal justice, thou shalt 
answer for this sin ! " 

Finally, he ceased whipping from mere exhaustion, 
and ordered Phebe to bring a bucket of salt and wa 
ter. After washing her thoroughly with this, I was 
told to take her to her cabin. Untying the ropes, I 
raised her in my arms. She was unable to stand, raid 
as her head rested on my shoulder, she repeated ma 
ny times, in a faint voice scarcely perceptible, " Oh, 
Platt oh, Platt!" but nothing further. Her dress 
was replaced, but it clung to her back, and was soon 
stiff with blood. We laid her on some boards in the 
hut, where she remained a long time, with eyes closed 
and groaning in agony. At night Phcbe applied 
melted tallow to her wounds, and so far as wo were 
able, all endeavored to assist and console her. Day 
after day she lay in her cabin upon her face, the sores 
preventing her resting in any other position. 

A blessed thing it would have been for her days 
and weeks and months of misery it would have saved 
her had she never lifted up her head in life again. 
Indeed, from that time forward she was not what she 
had been. The burden of a deep melancholy weigh 
ed heavily on her spirits. She no longer moved witli 
that buoyant and elastic step there was not that 
mirthful sparkle in her eyes that formerly distin 
guished her. Tte bounding vigor the sprightlv. 

O O j- O c/ / 

laughter-loving spirit of her youth, were gone. She 
fell into a mournful and desponding mood, and often- 



PATSEY S n>i-:A OF GOD, &c. 250 

times would start up in her sleep, and with raised 
hands, plead for mercy. She became more silent 
tlin.ii SMC was, toiling nil (Jay in our midst, not uttering 
a word. A care-worn, pitiful expression settled on 
Lor face, and it was her humor now to weep, rather 
than rejoice. If ever there was a broken heart 
one crushed and blighted by the rude grasp of suffer 
ing and misfortune it was Patsey s. 

She. had been reared no better than her master s 
beast looked upon merely as a valuable and hand 
some animal and consequently possessed but a lim 
ited amount of knowledge. And vet a taint lio-ht 

O t> O 

ca- :t its rays over her intellect, so that it was not 
wholly dark. She had a dim perception of God and 
of eternity, and a still more dim perception of a Sav 
iour who had died even ibr such as her. She enter 
taxied but confused notions of a future life not com 
prehending the distinction between the corporeal and 
spiritual existence. Happiness, in her mind, was ex 
emption from stripes from labor from the cruelty 
of masters and overseers. Her idea of the joy of 
heaven was simply rc-st, and is fully expressed in these 
lines of a melancholy bard : 

: I n4: no paraulsa on high, 

AYiih cares on earth oppressed, 

The onlv heaven for which I sigh, 
Is rest, eternal rest/ 

It is a mistaken opinion that prevails in some quar 
ters, that the slave does not understand the term 
does not comprehend the idea of freedom. Even on 



200 TWELVE YEARS A SLAYI-:, 

Bayou. Boeuf, where I conceive si a very exists in if -3 
most abject and cruel form where it exhibits fea 
tures altogetlier unknown in moro northern States 
the most inorant of tliem 



its meaning. riiey understand the privileges p.n<! 
exemptions that belong to it that it would best - 
upon tlicin tbe fruits of their own labors, and tbat ii, 
would secure to them the enjoyment of dumcsiic hap 
piness."^ They do not fail to observe the difference 
between their own condition and the meanest whitu 
man s, and to realize the injustice of the laws which 
place it in his power not only to appropriate tbe 
profits of their industry, but to subject them to un 
merited and unprovoked punishment, without reme 
dy, or the right to resist, or to remonstrate. 

Patscy s life, especially after her whipping, was ono 
long dream of liberty. Far awa} r , to her fancy an 
immeasurable distance, she knew there was a bind of 
freedom. A thousand times she had heard thni 
somewhere in the distant North there were no 
slaves no masters. In her imagination it was an 
enchanted region, the Paradise of the earth . To d we 1 1 
where the black man may work for him.- elf live in 
his own cabin till his own soil, was a blissful dream 
of Patsey s a dream, alas ! the fulfillment of \vhich 
she can never realize. 

The effect of these exhibitions of brutality on the 

J 

household of the slave-holder, is apparent. Epps 
oldest son is an intelligent lad of ten or twelve years 
of age. It is pitiable, sometimes, to see him clias- 



EPPS OLDEST SON. 

tising, for instance, the venerable Uncle Abram. He 

will call tlie old man to account, and if in his child 
ish judgment it is necessary, sentence him to a cer 
tain number of lashes, which he proceeds to inflict 
with much gravity and deliberation. Mounted on his 
pony, lie often rides into the field with his whip, play 
ing the overseer, greatly to his father s delight. 
"Without discrimination, at such times, he applies the 
rawhide, urging the slaves forward with shouts, and 
occasional expressions of profanity, while the old man 
laughs, and commends him as a thorough-going boy. 

O O O i/ 

"The child is father to the man," and with such 
training, whatever may be his natural disposition, it 
cannot well be otherwise than that, on arriving at ma 
turity, the sufferings and miseries of the slave will 
he looked upon with entire indifference. The influ 
ence or the iniquitous system necessarily fosters an 
unfeeling and cruel spirit, even in the bosoms of those 
wlm, among their equals, are regarded as humane 
and generous. 

Young Master Epps possessed some noble qualities, 
yet no process of reasoning could lead him to com 
prehend, that in the eye of the Almighty there is no 
distinction of color. He looked upon the black man 
simply as an animal, differing in no respect from any 
other animal, save in the gift of speech and the pos- 
HO: : :SH>:M of somewhat higher instincts, and, therefore, 
the IM< n e valuable. To work like his father s mules 
to bo whipped and kicked and scourged through lilb 

1 i O O 

! -.1 I re*-- the white man \\ilh hat in hair.!, and e.vca 



262 TWELVE YEAUS A SLAVE. 

bent servilely on the earth, in his mind, was the natu 
ral and proper destiny of the slave. Brought up with 
sucli ideas in the notion that we stand without tho 
pale of humanity no wonder the oppressors of my 
people arc a pitiless and unrelenting race. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

A\ERY, OF BAYOU ROUGE PECULIARITY OF DWELLINGS EPPS BUILDS A 

N r:\VHOUSE EA=V rlLK CARPENTER HIS NOBLE QUALITIES HIS J J U- 

S .S.VAL APPEARANCE AND ECCENTRICITIES HAS 3 AND Errs DISCUSS THE 

QUESTION OF SLAVERY EPPS OPINION OF BASS 1 MAKE MYSELF 

KN oV/N TO HIM OUR, CONVERSATION HIS SURPRISE THE MIDNIGHT 

MEETING OX THE BAYOU BANK BASs ASSURANCES DECLARES "WAR, 

AGAINST SLAVERY WHY I DID NOT DISCLOSE MY HISTORY BASS WRITES 

LETTERS COPY OF HIS LETTER TO MESSRS. PARKER AND PERRY THIi 

FEVER OF SUSPENSE DISAPPOINTMENTS BASS ENDEAVORS TO CHEEP. 

ME MY FAITH IN HIM. 

Tx the month of Juno, 1S52, in pursuance of n pre 
vious contract, Mr. Avcry, a carpenter of Bayou 
Ron rro, commenced the erection of a house for Mas- 
tor Kpp>. It has previously been stated that there 
are no collars on Bayou Buurf ; on the other Law), 
such is ui.e low and swampy nature of the ground, 
the Lrrottt houses are usually built upon spiles. An 
other peculiarity is, the rooms are not plastered, but 
the ceiling and sides arc covered with matched cy 
press boards, painted such color as most pleases the 
owners taste. Generally the plaid: and boards arc 
sawed by slaves with whip-saws, there being no water- 
poAver upon which mills mhxht be built within many 
milo 1 ^. ~V, r hcn the planter erects lor himself a dwel 
ling therefore, there is vlcnfv of extra worl: for his 



2G-i TWICLVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

slaves. Having liad some experience under Tibeats 
as a carpenter, I was taken from the field altogether, 
on the arrival of A very and his hands. 

Among them was one to whom I owe an immeas 
urable debt of gratitude. Only for him, in all prob 
ability, I should have ended my days in slavery. II o 
was my deliverer a man whose true heart over 
flowed with noble and generous emotions. To the 
last moment of my existence I shall remember him 
with feelings of thankfulness. His name was Bass, 

o J 

and at that time he resided in Marksville. It will 
be difficult to corrvey a correct impression of his ap 
pearance or character. He was a large man, between 
forty and fifty years old, of light complexion and 
light hair. He was very cool and self-possessed, fond 
of argument, but alwavs speaking with extreme do- 

O t> I O 

liberation. He was that kind of person whose pecu 
liarity of manner was such that nothing he uttered 
ever gave offence. What would be intolerable, corn 
ing from the lips of another, could be said by him 
with impunity. There was not a man on Red liiver, 
perhaps, that agreed with him on the subject of poli 
tics or religion, and not a man, I venture to say, who 
discussed either of those subjects half as much. It 
peeined to be taken for granted that he would espouse 
the unpopular side of every local question, and it al 
ways created amusement rath. or than displeasure 
among his auditors, to listen to the ingenious and 
original manner in which lie maintained the contr^ 
He was a bachelor an " old bachelor." ac- 



BASS, THE CAEPESTEE. 265 

cording to the true acceptation of the term having 
no kindred living, as he knew of, in the world. Nei 
ther had he any permanent abiding place wander 
ing from one State to another, as his fancy dictated, 
lie had lived in Marksville three or four years, and 
in the prosecution of his business as a carpenter ; and 
in consequence, likewise, of his peculiarities, was 
quite extensively known throughout the parish of 
Avoyelles. He was liberal to a fault ; and his many 
acts of kindness and transparent goodness of heart 
rendered him popular in the community, the senti 
ment of which he unceasingly combated. 

He was a native of Canada, from whence he had 
wandered in early life, and after visiting all the prin 
cipal localities in the northern and western States, in 
the course of his peregrinations, arrived in the un 
healthy region of the Red reiver. His last removal 
was from Illinois, Whither he has now gone, I re 
gret to be obliged to say, is unknown to me. He 
gathered up his effects and departed quietly from 
Marksville the day before I did, the suspicions of his 
instrumentality in procuring my liberation rendering 
such a step necessary. For the commission of a just 
and righteous act he would undoubtedly have suffer 
ed death, had he remained within reach of the slave- 
whipping tribe on Bayou Boeuf, 

One day, while working on the new house, Bass 

and Epps became engaged in a controversy, to which, 

;is will be readily supposed, I listened with absorbing 

Interest. They were discussing the subject of Slavery. 

I. 



206 TV/ELVE YEABS A SLATE. 

"I tell you what it is Epps," said Bass, "it s all 
wrong all wrong, sir there s no justice nor right 
eousness in it. I wouldn t own a slave if I was rich 
as Croesus, winch. I am not, as is perfectly well under 
stood, more particularly among my creditors. Tlier<?s 
another humbug the credit system humbug., sir; 
no credit no debt. Credit leads a man into tempta 
tion. Cash down is the only thing that will deliver 
him from evil. But this question of Slavery ; what 
rigid have you to your niggers when you come down 
to the point I " 

" What right ! " said Epps, laughing ; " why, I 
bought em, and paid for em." 

Of course you did ; the law says you have the right 
to hold a nigger, but begging the law s pardon, it 
lies. Yes, Epps, when the law says that it s a liar, 
and the truth is not in it. Is every thing right be 
cause the law allows it ? Suppose they d pass a law 
taking away your liberty and making you a slave P 

" Oh, that ain t a supposable case," said Epps. still 
laughing ; " hope you don t compare me to a nigger, 
Bass." 

" "Well," Bass answered gravely, " no, not exactly. 
But I have seen niggers before now as good as 1 am, 
and I have no acquaintance with any white man ia 
these parts that I consider a whit better than myself, 
Now, in the sight of Gocl, what is the difference, 
Epps, between a white man and a black one P 

" All the difference in the world," replied Epps. 
"You iiiilit as well ask what the difili encc is bo- 



DISCUSSION OX SLAVERY. 267 

Iwecn a white man and a baboon. l^sow, I ve seen 
".lie of them critters in Orleans that knowed jnst as 
unch as any nigger I ve got. You d call them feller 
citizens, 1 s pose ? " and Epps indulged in a loud 
laugh at his own wit. 

L * Look here, Eppi?," continued his companion ; " you 
can t laugh me down in that way. Some men are 
witty, and some ain t so witty as they think they are. 
iNovr let me ask yon a question. Are all men created 
free and equal as the Declaration of Independence 
hulds they are ?" 

" Yes," responded Eppp, "but all men, niggers, and 
monkeys //"/; and hereupon he broke forth into a 
more boisterous laugh than before. 

There arc monkeys among white people as well 
a 5 black, when you como to that," coolly remarked 
;i:^s.-. "I ::;: ,\v ^nme v/hite men that use arguments 
no sensible monkey would. But let that pass. These 
n r; ;ers are Lumi-.u beings. If they don t know as 
much as ikeir :::... iers, whose fault is it? They are 
nut (tiloi^n t) know anylhing. You have books and 
[..ipeis, and can go where you please, and gather 
i.ueiligence in a th<jUoand ways. Hut your slaves 
liuvo no privileges. You d Avhip one of tkem if 
cauu ht reading a book. They are held in bondage, 
generation after generation, deprived of mental im 
provement, and who can expect them to possess much 
knowledge 2 If they are not brought down to a level 
wiili the brute creation, you slaveholders will never 
be blamed fur it. If they ave baboons, or stand no 



26S TWELVE YEAES A SLAVE. 

higher in the scale of intelligence than such animals, 
you and men like you will have to answer for it. 
There s a sin, a fearful sin, resting on this nation, that 
will not go unpunished forever. There will Lo a 
reckoning yet yes, Epps, there s a day coining that 
will burn as an oven. It may be sooner or it may be 
later, but it s a coming as sure as the Lord is just." 

" If you lived up among the Yankees in !N"ew- 
England," said Epps, " I expect you d be one of them 
cursed fanatics that know more than the constitution, 
and go about peddling clocks and coaxing niggers 
to run away." 

" If I was in New-England," returned Bass, " I 
would be just what I am here. I would say that 
Slavery was an iniquity, and ought to be abolished. 
I would say there was no reason nor justice in the 
law, or the constitution that allows one man to hold 
another man in bondage. It would be hard for you 
to lose your property, to be sure, but it wouldn t be 
half as hard as it would be to lose your liberty. You 
have no more right to your freedom, in exact justice, 
than Uncle Abram yonder. Talk about black skin, 
and black blood ; why, how many slaves are there on 
this bayou as white as cither of us ? And what dif 
ference is there in the color of the soul ? Pshaw ! the 
whole system is as absurd as it is cruel. You may 
own niggers and behanged, but I wouldn t own 0110 
for the best plantation in Louisiana." 

" You like to hear yourself talk, Bass, better than 
cijjy man I know of You would argue that black w;u 



CONVERSATION WITH 15 AS 3. 260 

white, or white black, if any body would contradict 
you. Xothing suits you in this world, and I doii i 
believe yon will be satisfied with the next, if yon 
i-linuld have your choice in them." 

Conversations substantially like the foregoing wero 
not unusual between the two after this ; Epps drawing 
him out more for the purpose of creating a laugh at 
his expense, than with a view of fairly discussing the 
merits of the question. lie looked upon Bass, as a 
man ready to say anything merely for the pleasure of 
hearing, his own voice ; as somewhat self-conceited, , 
perhaps, contending against his faith and judgment, 
in order, simply, to exhibit his dexterity in argumen 
tation. 

lie remained at Epps through the summer, visiting 
Marksville generally once a fortnight. The more I 
saw of him, the more I became convinced lie was a 
man in whom I could confide. Nevertheless, my 
previous ill-fortune had taught me to be extremely 
cautious. It was not my place to speak to a white 
man except when spoken to, but I omitted no oppor- 
unity of throwing myself in his way, and endeavored 
constantly in every possible manner to attract his 
attention. In the early part of August he and my 
self were at work alone in the house, the other car 
penters having left, and Epps being absent in tlio 
field. Xow was the time, if ever, to broach the sub 
ject, and I resolved to do it, and submit to whatever 
consequences might ensue. We were busily at work 
in the afternoon, when I stopped suddenly and said 



270 TWELVE YEARS A SLATE. 

" Master Bass, I want to ask you what part of the 
country you came from ?" 

" Why, Platt, what put that into your head ? " ho 
answered. " You wouldn t know if I should toll yon. 
After a moment or two lie. added- " I was born in 
Canada ; now guess where that is." 

" Oh, I know where Canada is," said I, " I have 
been there myself." 

" Yes, I expect you are well acquainted all through 
that country," he remarked, laughing incredulously. 

"As sure as I live, Master Bass," I replied, " I have 
been there. I have been in Montreal and Kingston, 
and Queenston, and a great many places in Canada, 
and I have been in York State, too in Buffalo, and 
Rochester, and Albany, and can tell you the name:-; 
of the villages on the Erie canal and the Cliamplain 
canal." 

Bass turned round and gazed at me a long time 
without uttering a syllable. 

"How came you here?" he inquired, at length, 
"Master Bass," I answered, "if justice had been 
done, I never would have been here." 

" Well, how s this ? " said he. " Who are you ? Y r ou 
have been in Canada sure enough ; I know all the 
places you mention. How did you happen to get 
here ? Come, tell me all about it." 

" I have no friends here," was my reply, "that I 
can put confidence in. I am afraid to tell you, 
though I don t believe you would tell Master Epps if 
I should." 



271 

lie assured me earnestly lie would keep every word 
I might speak to liim a profound secret., and liis curi 
osity wa^ evidently strongly excited. It was a long 
story, I informed him, and would take some time to 
relate it. Master Epps would be "back soon, but if he 
would see me that night after all were asleep, I would 
repeat it to him. He consented readily to the ar 
rangement, and directed me to come into the building 

O 7 O 

where we were then at work, and I would find him 
there. About midnight, when all was still and quiet, 
I crept cautiousl} from my cabin, and silently enter 
ing tho unfinished building, found him awaiting me. 

After farther assurances 011 his part that I should 
not be betrayed, I began a relation of the history of 
my lifo and misfortunes. He was deeply interested, 
asking numerous questions in reference to localities 
and events. Having ended my story I besought him 
to write to some of my friends at the Korth, acquaint 
ing them with my situation, and begging them to for 
ward free papers, or take such steps as they might 
consider proper to secure my release. He promised 
to do so, but dwelt upon the danger of such an act in 
case of detection, and now impressed upon me the 
great necessity of strict silence and secresy. Before 
we parted our plan of operation was arranged. 

AVe agreed to meet the next night at a specified 
place among the high weeds on the bank of the bayou, 
some distance from master s dwelling. There he was 

O 

to write down on paper the names and address of sev 
eral persons, old friends in the Korth, to whom he 



272 TWELVE YEAES A SLATE. 

would direct letters during his next visit to Marks- 
ville. It was not deemed prudent to meet in the new 
house, inasmuch as the light it would be necessary to 
use might possibly be discovered. In the course of 
the day I managed to obtain a few matches and a 
piece of candle, unperceived, from the kitchen, during 
a temporary absence of Aunt Phebc. Bass had pen 
cil and paper in his tool chest. 

At the appointed hour we met on the hay on bank, 
and creeping among the high weeds, I lighted the 
candle, while he drew forth pencil and paper and pre 
pared for business. I gave him the names of Wil 
liam Perry, Cephas Parker and Judge Marvin, all of 
Saratoga Springs, Saratoga county, K cw- York. I had 
been employed by the latter in the United States 
Ilotel, and had transacted business with the former to 
a considerable extent, and trusted that at least one of 
them would be still living at that place. lie care 
fully wrote the names, and then remarked, thought- 
fully- 

" It is so many years since you left Saratoga, all 
these men may be dead, or may have removed. You 
say you obtained papers at the custom house in Xcw- 
York. Probably there is a record of them there, raid 
I think it would be well to write and ascertain. 3 

I agreed with him, and again repeated the circum 
stances related heretofore, connected with my visit t" 
the custom house with Brown and Hamilton. "We 
lingered on the bank of the bayou an hour or more, 
conversing upon the subject which now engrossed our 



MY FAITH IN BASS. 273 

thoughts. I could no longer doubt his fidelity, and 
freely spoke to him of the many sorrows I had borne 
in silence, and so long. I spoke of my wife and chil 
dren, mentioning their names and ages, and dwelling 
upon the unspeakable happiness it would be to clasp 
them to my heart once more before I died. I caught 
him by the hand, and with tears and passionate en 
treaties implored him to befriend me to restore me 
to my kindred and to liberty promising I would weary 
Heaven the remainder of my life with prayers that it 
would bless and prosper him. In the enjoyment of 
freedom surrounded by the associations of youth, 
and restored to the bosom of my family that prom 
ise is not yet forgotten, nor shall it ever be so long as 
I have strength to raise my imploring eyes on high. 

"Oli, blessings on his kindly voice and on his silver Lair, 
And ulesoings on his whole life long, until he meet rne there." 

He overwhelmed me with assurances of friendship 
and faithfulness, saying he had never before taken so 
deep an interest in the fate of any one. lie spoke of 
himself in a somewhat mournful tone, as a lonely 
man, a wanderer about the world that he was 
growing old, and must soon reach the end of his 
earthly journey, and lie down to his final rest with 
out kith or kin to mourn for him, or to remember 
him that his life was of little value to himself, and 
henceforth should be devoted to the accomplishment 
of my liberty, and to an unceasing warfare against 
(lie accursed shame of Slavery. 

L* 18 



274: TWELVE YEAES A SLAVE. 

After tins time we seldom spoke to, or recognized 
each other. He was, moreover, less free in his con 
versation with Epps on the subject of Slavery. The 
remotest suspicion that there was any unusual intima 
cy any secret understanding between us never 
once entered the mind of Epps, or any other person, 
white or black, on the plantation. 

I am often asked, with an air of incredulity, how I 
succeeded so many years in keeping from my daily 
and constant companions the knowledge of my true 
name and history. The terrible lesson Burch taught 
me, impressed indelibly upon my mind the danger 
and uselessness of asserting I v/aa a freeman. There 
was no possibility of any slave being able to assist 
me, while, on the other hand, there was a possibility 
of his exposing me. When it is recollected the whole 
current of my thoughts, for twelve years, turned to the 
contemplation of escape, it will not be wondered at, 
that I was always cautious and on my guard. It 
would have been an act of folly to have proclaimed 
niy right to freedom ; it would only have subjected 
me to severer scrutiny probably have consigned me 
to some more distant and inaccessible region than 
even Bayou Boouf. Edwin Epps was a person utter 
ly regardless of a black man s rights or wrongs ut 
terly destitute of any natural sense of justice, as I 
well knew. It was important, therefore, not only as 
regarded my hope of deliverance, but also as regard 
ed the few personal priviliges I was permitted to en 
joy, to keep from him the history of my life, 



LETTER TO PEKIIY AXD PARKEIJ. 275 

Tlic Saturday niglit subsequent to our interview at 
tlic water s edge, Bass went home to Marksville. The 
next day, being SuncLTy, he employed himself in his 
own room writing letters. One he directed to the 
Collector of Customs at Xew-York, another to Judge 
Marvin, and another to Messrs. Parker and Perry joint 
ly. The latter was the one which led. to my recovery. 
He subscribed iny true name, but in the postscript in 
timated I was not the writer. The letter itself shows 
that he considered himself engaged in a dangerous 
undertaking no less than running "the risk of his 
life, if detected." I did not see the letter before it was 
mailed, but have since obtained a copy, which is here 
inserted : 

"Bayou Bueuf, August 15, 1852. 
"Mr. WILLIAM PERRY or Mr. CEPHAS PARKER: 

i: Gentlerm-.R It having been a long time since I have seen 
or heard from you, and not knowing that you are living, it is 
with uncertainty that I write to you, but the necessity of the 
case mu-jt be my excuse. 

u Having been born free, just across the river from you, I am 
certain you must know me, and lam here now a slave. I wish 
you to obtain free papers for me, and forward them to me at 
Marksville, Louisiana, Parish of Avoyelles. and oblige 

" Yours, SOLOMON NORTHUP. 

" The way I came to be a slave, I was taken sick in Washing 
ton City, and was insensible for some time. When I recover 
ed my reason, I was robbed of my free -papers, and in irons on 
my way to this State, and have never been able to get any one 
to write for me until now ; and he that is writing for me runs 
the risk of his life if detected." 



276 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

The allusion to myself in the work recently issued, 
entitled " A Iley to Uncle Tom s Cabin," contains the 
first part of this letter, omitting the postscript. Nei 
ther are the full names of the gentlemen to whom it 
is directed correctly stated, there being a slight dis 
crepancy, probably a typographical error. To the 
postscript more than to the body of the communica 
tion am I indebted for my liberation, as will present 
ly be seen. 

When Bass returned from Marksville he informed 
me of what he had done. We continued our mid 
night consultations, never speaking to each other 
through the day, excepting as it was necessary about 
the work. As nearly as lie was able to ascertain, it 
would require two weeks for the letter to reach Sara 
toga in due course of mail, and the same length of 
time for an answer to return. Within six weeks, at 
the farthest, we concluded, an answer would arrive, if 
it arrived at all. A great many suggestions were 
now made, and a great deal of conversation took place 
between us, as to the most safe and proper course to 
pursue on receipt of the free papers. They would 
stand between him and harm, in case we were over 
taken and arrested leaving the country altogether. It 
would be no infringement of law, however much it 
might provoke individual hostility, to assist a freeman 
to regain his freedom. 

At the end of four weeks he was again at Marks 
ville, but no answer had arrived, I was sorely disap 
pointed, but ptill reconciled myself with the reflection 



BASS ENDEAVORS TO CHEER ME. 277 

that sufficient length of time had not yet elapsed 
that there might have been delays and that I could 
not reasonably expect one so soon. Six, seven, eight, 
and ten weeks passed by, however, and nothing came. 
I was in a fever of suspense whenever Bass visited 
Marksville, and could scarcely close my eyes until his 
return. Finally my master s house was finished, and 
the time came when Bass must leave me. The night 
before his departure I was wholly given up to despair. 
I had -clung to him as a drowning man clings to the 
floating spar, knowing if it slips from his grasp he 
must forever sink beneath the waves. The all-glorious 
hope, upon which I had laid such eager hold, was 
crumbling to ashes in my hands. I felt as if sinking 
down, down, amidst the bitter waters of Slavery, from 
the unfathomable depths of which I should never 
rise again. 

The generous heart of my friend and benefactor was 
touched with pity at the sight of my distress. lie en 
deavored to cheer me up, promising to return the day 
before Christmas, and if no intelligence was received 
in the meantime, some farther step would be under 
taken to effect our design. He exhorted me to keep 
up my spirits to rely upon his continued efforts in 
rny behalf, assuring me, in most earnest and impres 
sive language, that rny liberation should, from thence 
forth, be the chief object of his thoughts. 

In his absence the time passed slowly indeed. I 
looked forward to Christmas with inter.se anxiety and 
iir.patience. I had about given up the expectation of 



278 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

receiving any answer to the letters. They might have 
miscarried, or might have been misdirected. Perhaps 
those at Saratoga, to whom they had been addressed, 
were all dead ; perhaps, engaged in their pursuits, 
they did not consider the fate of an obscure, unhappy 
black man of sufficient importance to be noticed. My 
whole reliance was in Bass. The faith I had in him 
was continually re-assuring me, and enabled me to 
stand up against the tide of disappointment that had 
overwhelmed me. 

So wholly was I absorbed in reflecting upon my sit 
uation and prospects, that the hands with whom I la 
bored in the field often observed it. Patsey would 
ask me if I was sick, and Uncle Abram, and Bob, and 
Wiley frequently expressed a curiosity to know what 
I could be thinking about so steadily. But I evaded 
their inquiries with some light remark, and kept my 
thoughts locked closely in my breast. 



CHAPTER XX. 

BASS FAITHFUL TO III.? WORD HIS ARRIVAL ON CHRISTMAS EVE TTIE DIF- 

KCULTY OF OBTAINING AX INTERVIEW THE MEETING IX THE CABIN 

NON-ARRIVAL OF Tin: LETTER EASS AXXOUXCKS ins INTENTION* TO PRO 
CEED NORTH CHRISTMAS CONVERSATION BETWEEN Errs AND BASS 

YOUNG MISTRESS M COY, THE BEAUTY OF BAYOU ECEUF THE "XE PLUS 

ULTRA" OF DINNERS MUSIC AND DANCING PRESENCE OF THE MISTRESS 

IIKR EXi KEDTNG BEAUTY THE LAST SLAVE DANCE WILLIAM TIERCE 

OVERSLEEP M YSELF THE LAST WHIPPING DESPONDENCY THE COLD 

MORXING EPPS THREATS THE PASSIXG CARRIAGE STRANGERS AP- 

IT-OACUING TiiROUGH THE COTTON-FIELD LAST HOUR ON BAYOU ECEUF. 

FAITHFUL to Iris vrorJ, tlio day before Christinas, just 
nt ni^lit-fiill, Eass came riding into the yard. 

c IIovv* are YOU," said Epps, shaking him by the 
liand, " i?-lad to see you/ 

^J t/ 

lie vrould not have been very glad had he known 
the object of Iris errand. 

"Quito well, quite well," answered Bass. "Had 
some business out on the bayou, and concluded to call 
and see you, and stay over night." 

Epps ordered one of the slaves to take charge of 
hi.--, horse, and with much talk and laughter they pass 
ed into the house together ; not, however, until Eass 
luid l-.-okcd at me significantly, as much as to say, 



280 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

" Keep dark, we understand each other." It was ten 
o clock at night before the labors of the day were per 
formed, when I entered the cabin. At that time Un 
cle Abram and Bob occupied it with me. I laid 
down upon my board and feigned I was asleep. 
"When my companions had fallen into a profound 
slumber, I moved stealthily out of the door, and watch 
ed, and listened attentively for some sign or sound 
from Bass. There I stood until Ions; after midnight, 

o o / 

but nothing could be seen or heard. As I suspected, 
he dared not leave the house, through fear of exciting 
the suspicion of some of the family. I judged, eorrect- 
y, he would rise earlier than was his custom, and 
take the opportunity of seeing me before Epps was 
up. Accordingly I aroused Uncle Abram an hour 
sooner than usual, and sent him into the house to build 
a fire, which, at that season of the year, is a part of 
Uncle Abram s duties. 

I also gave Bob a violent shake, and asked him if 
he intended to sleep till noon, saying master would bo 
up before the mules were fed. lie knew right well 
the consequence that would follow such an event, and, 
jumping to his feet, was at the horse-pasture in a 
twinkling. 

O 

Presently, when both were gone, Bass slipped into 
the cabin. 

"No letter yet, Platt," said he. The announce 
ment fell upon my heart like lead. 

" Oh, do write again, Master Bass," I cried ; u I 
will give you the names of a great many I know. 



THE MEETING IN THE CABDT. 281 

Surely they arc not all dead. Surely some one will 
pity me." 

" Xo use," Bass replied, "no use. I have made up 
.my mind to that. I fear the Marksville post-master 
will mistrust something, I have inquired so often at 
his office. Too uncertain too dangerous." 

" Then it is all over," I exclaimed. " Oh, my God, 
how can I end my days here !" 

" You re not going to end them here," he said, " un- 

O O J / 

less you die very soon. I ve thought this matter all 
over, and have come to a determination. There are 
more ways than one to manage this business, and a 
better and surer way than writing letters. I have a 
job or two on hand which can be completed by March 
or April. By that time I shall have a considerable 
sum of money, and then, Platt, I am going to Sarato 
ga myself." 

I could scarcely credit my own senses as the words 
fell from his lips. But he assured me, in a manner 
that left no doubt of the sincerity of his intention, that 
if his life was spared until spring, he should certainly 
undertake the journey. 

" I have lived in this region long enough " he con- 

O O O 

tinned ; " I may as well be in one place as another. 
For a long time I have been thinking of going back 
once more to the place where I was born. I m tired 
of Slavery as well as you. If I can succeed in getting 
you away from here, it will be a good act that I shall 
like to think of all my life. And I shall succeed, 



282 TWELVE YEAK9 A SLAVE. 

Platt ; I m lound to do it. Now let me tell you what 
I want. Epps will 1)0 up soon, and it won t do to bo 
caught "hero. Think of a great many men at Sarato 
ga and Sandy Hill, and in that neighborhood, who 
once knew yon. I shall make excuse to come here 
again in the course of the winter, when I will write 
down their names. I will then know who to call on 
when I go north. Think of all yon can. Cheer np ! 
Don t be discouraged. I m with yon, life or death. 
Good-bye. God bless you," and saying this he left 
the cabin quickly, and entered the great house. 
""" It was Christmas morning the happiest day in the 
whole vear for the slave. That morning; he need not 

v O 

hurry to the field, with his gourd and cotton-bag. 
Happiness sparkled in the eyes and overspread the 
countenances of all. The time of feasting and dancing- 
had come. The cane and cotton fields were deserted. 
That day the clean dress was to be donned the red 

/ 

ribbon displayed ; there were to be re-unions, and 
joy and laughter, and hurrying to and fro. It was 
to be a day of liberty among the children of Slavery. 
"Wherefore they were happy, and rejoiced. 

After breakfast Epps and Bass sauntered about the 
yard, conversing upon the price of cotton, and va 
rious other topics. 

" Where do your niggers hold Christmas ?" Bass in 
quired. 

"Platt is going to Tanners to-day. His fiddle is 
in great demand. They want him at Marshall s Mon- 



EITS COVERS A.TIOX WITH BASS. 283 

day, and ]Mi?s Mary McCoy, on the old Norwood 
plantation, writes m-e a note that she wants him to 
play i lr her niggers Tuesday. 

" I Le is rather a smart "boy, ain t he? said Bass. 
" Coi no here, Platt," he added, looking at me as I 
walked up to them, as if he had never thought before 
to take any special notice of me. 

" Ye.y replied Epps, taking hold of my arm and 
feeling it, < ; there isn t a had joint in him. There ain t 
a hoy on the bayou worth more than he is perfect 
ly sound, and no bad tricks. D n him, lie isn t like 
other niggers ; doesn t look like em don t act liko 
7 eni, I was offered seventeen hundred dollars for him 
Lift week." 

".And didn t take it?" Bass inquired, with an air 
of surprise. 

" Take it no; devilish clear of it. "Why, he s a 
reg lar genius ; can make a plough beam, wagon 
tongue anything, as well as yon can. Marshall 
wanted to put up one of his niggers agin him. and raf 
fle fur them, but I told him I would see the devil have 
him first." 

i; I don t see anything remarkable about him," Bass 
observed. 

" "Why, just feel of him, now," Epps rejoined. 
" You don t see a boy very often put together any 
closer than he is. lie s a thin-skin d cuss, and wont 
bear as much whipping as some ; but he s got the 
muscle in him, and no mistake. 

Bass felt of me, turned me round, and made a 



284: TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

thorough examination, Epps all the while dwelling on 
my good points. But his visitor seemed to take but 
little interest finally in the subject, and consequently 
it was dropped. Bass soon departed, giving me an 
other sly look of recognition and significance, as lio 
trotted out of the yard. 

When he was gone I obtained a pass, and started 
for Tanner s not Peter Tanner s, of whom mention 
has previously been made, but a relative of his. I 
played during the day and most of the night, spend 
ing the next day, Sunday, in my cabin. Monday I 
crossed the bayou to Douglas Marshall s, all Epps 
slaves accompanying me, and on Tuesday went to t lie 
old Norwood place, which is the third plantation 
above Marshall s, on the same side of the water. 

This estate is now owned by Miss Mary McCoy, a 
lovely girl, some twenty years of age. She is the beau 
ty and the glory of Bayou Bceuf. She owns about a 
hundred working hands, besides a great many house 
servants, yard boys, and young children. Her broth 
er-in-law, who resides on the adjoining estate, is her 
general agent. She is beloved by all her slaves, and 
good reason indeed have they to be thankful that they 
have fallen into such gentle hands. Nowhere on the 
bayou are there such feasts, such merrymaking, as at 
yo^mg Madam McCoy s. Thither, more than to any 
other place, do the old and the young for miles around 
love to repair in the time of the Christmas holidays ; 
for nowhere else can they find such delicious repasts ; 
nowhere else can they hear a voice speaking to them 



CimiSTMAS DLXNEE. 285 

so pleasantly. ISTo one is so well beloved no one 
fills so largo a space in tlic hearts of a thousand slaves, 
as young Madam McCoy, the orphan mistress of tho 
old Norwood estate. 

On my arrival at her place, I found two or three 
hundred had assembled. The table was prepared in 
a long building, which she had erected expressly for 
her slaves to dance in. It was covered with every 
variety of food the country afforded, and was pro 
nounced by general acclamation to be the rarest of 
dinners. Roast turkey, pig, chicken, duck, and all 
kinds of meat, baked, boiled, and broiled, formed a 
lino the whole length of the extended table, while tho 
vacant spaces were filled with tarts, jellies, and frost 
ed cake, and pastry of many kinds. The young mis 
tress walked around the table, smiling arid saying a 
kind word to each one, and seemed to enjoy the scene 
exceedingly. 

When the dinner was over the tables were remov 
ed to make room for the dancers. I tuned my violin 
and struck up a lively air ; while some joined in a 
nimble reel, others patted and sang their simple but 
melodious songs, filling the great room with music 
mingled with the sound of human voices and the clat 
ter of many feet. 

In the evening the mistress returned, and stood in 
the door a long time, looking at us. She was magnifi 
cently arrayed. Her dark hair and eyes contrasted 
strongly with her clear and delicate complexion. 
Hf.-r f<>rm was slender but commanding, and her 



280 TWELVE YEAIiS A SLAVE. 

movement was a combination of unaffected dignity 
and grace. As she stood there, clad in her rich ap 
parel, her face animated with pleasure, I thought I had 
never looked upon a human being half so beautiful. 
I dwell with delight upon the description of this fair 
and gentle lady, not only because she inspired me 
with emotions of gratitude and admiration, but be 
cause I would have the reader understand that all 
slave-owners on Bayou Bceuf are not like Epps, or 
Tibeats, or Jim Burns. Occasionally can be found, 
rarely it may be, indeed, a good man like William 
Ford, or an angel of kindness like young Mistress 
McCoy. 

Tuesday concluded the three holidays Epps yearly 
allowed us. On my way homo, Wednesday morning, 
while passing the plantation of "William Fierce, that 
gentleman hailed me, saying he had received a line 
from Epps, brought down by "William Yarnell, per 
mitting him to detain me for the purpose of playing 
for his slaves that night. It was the last time I was 
destined to witness a slave dance on the shores of Ba 
you Bo3uf. The party at Tierce s continued their jol 
lification until broad daylight, when I returned to my 
master s house, somewhat wearied with the loos of 
rest, but rejoicing in the possession of numerous bits 
and picayunes, which the whites, who were pleased 
with my musical performances, had contributed. 

On Saturday morning, for the first lime in years, I 
overslept myself. I was frightened on coming out of 
the cabin lo find the slaves were already in the field. 



THE LAST WHIPPING. 2ST 

They had preceded me some fifteen minutes. Leav 
ing my dinner and water-gourd, I hurried after them 
as fast as I could move. It was not yet sunrise, but 
Epps Wiis on the piazza as I left the hut, and cried out 
to me that it was a pretty time of day to be getting 
up. By extra exertion my row was up when he came 
out after breakfast. This, however, was no excuse for 
the oifencc of oversleeping. Bidding me strip and lie 
down, he gave me ten or fifteen lashes, at the conclu 
sion of which he inquired if I thought, after that, I 
could get up sometime in the morning. I expressed 
myself quite positively that I coul l, and, with back 
stinging with pain, went about my work. 

The following day, Sunday, my thoughts wore upon 
Bass, and the probabilities and hopes which hung 
upon his action and determination. I considered the 
uncertainty of lite ; that if it should be the will of 
God that lie should die, my prospect of deliverance, and 
all expectation of happiness in this world, would be 
wholly ended and destroyed. My sore back, perhaps, 
did not have a tendency to render me unusually cheer- 
fill. I felt down-hearted and unhappy all day long, 
and when I laid down upon the hard board at night, 
my heart was oppressed with such a load of grief, it 
seemed that it must break. 

Monday morning, the third of January, 1S53, wo 
wore in the field betimes. It was a raw, cold morn- 
in:<\ such as is unusual in that region. I was in ad- 

O o 

vaueo, Uncle Abram next to me, behind him Bob, 
Patscv and Wilev, with our cotton-bases about our 



2bS TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

necks. Epps happened (a rare thing, indeed,) to como 
out that morning without his whip. He swore, in a 
manner that would shame a pirate, that we were do 
ing nothing. Bob ventured to say that his fingers 
were so numb with cold he couldn t pick fast. Epps 
cursed himself for not having brought his rawhide, 
and declared that when he came out again he would 
warm us well ; yes, he would make us all hotter than 
that fiery realm in which I am sometimes compelled 
to believe he will himself eventually reside. 

"With these fervent expressions, he left us. When 
out of hearing, we commenced talking to each other, 
saying how hard it was to be compelled to keep up 
our tasks with numb fingers ; how unreasonable mas 
ter was, and speaking of him generally in no flatter 
ing terms. Our conversation was interrupted by a 
carriage passing rapidly towards the house. Looking 
up, we saw two men approaching us through the cot 
ton-field. 

******** 

Having now brought down this narrative to the last 
hour I was to spend on Bayou Boeuf having got 
ten through my last cotton picking, and about to bid 
Master Epps farewell I must beg the reader to go 
back with me to the month of August ; to follow Bass 
letter on its long journey to Saratoga; to learn the 
effect it produced and that, while I was repining 
and despairing in the slave hut of Edwin Epps, 
through the friendship of Bass and the goodness of 
Providence, all things were working together for my 
deliverance. 



CHAPTER XXI. 



THE LETTER REACHES SARATOGA IS FORWARDED TO ANNE IS LAID BE 
FORE HENRY B. NORTHUP THE STATUTE OF MAY 14, 1840 ITS PRO 
VISIONS ANNE S MEMORIAL TO THE GOVERNOR THE AFFIDAVITS AC 
COMPANYING IT SENATOR SOULE s LETTER DEPARTURE OF THE AGENT 

APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR ARRIVAL AT MARKSVILLE THE HON. 

JOHN P. WADDILL THE CONVERSATION ON NEW-YORK POLITICS IT 

SUGGESTS A FORTUNATE IDEA THE MEETING WITH BASS THE SECRET 

OUT LEGAL PROCEEDINGS INSTITUTED DEPARTURE OF NORTHUP AND 

THE SHERIFF FROM M ARKSVILLE FOR BAYOU BOZUF ARRANGEMENTS ON 

THE WAY REACH EPPs PLANTATION DLSCOVER HIS SLAVES IN THJE 

COTTON FIELD THE MEETING THE FAREWELL, 



I A}[ Indebted to Mr. Henry B. Xortlmp and oth 
ers for many of the particulars contained in this 
chapter. 

The letter written by Bass, directed to Parker and 
Perry, and which, was deposited in the post-office in 
Marksviile on the 15th day of August, 1852, arrived 
at Saratoga in the early part of September. Some 
time previous to this, Anne had removed to Glens 
Falls, Warren county, where she had charge of the 
kitchen in Carpenter s Hotel. She kept house, how 
ever, lodging with our children, and was only absent 
from them during such time as the discharge of her 
duties in the hotel required. 



290 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

Messrs. Parker and Perry, on receipt of the letter, 
forwarded it immediately to Anne. On reading it 
the children were all excitement, and without delay 
hastened to the neighboring village of Sandy Hill, 
to consult Henry B. Kortlmp, and obtain his advice 
and assistance in the matter. 

Upon examination, that gentleman found among 
the statutes of the State an act providing for the re 
covery of free citizens from slavery. It was passed 
May 11, 18-10, and is entitled "An act more effectu 
ally to protect, the free citizens of this State from 
being kidnapped or reduced to slavery." It provides 
that it shall be the duty of the Governor, upon the re 
ceipt of satisfactory information that any free citizen or 
inhabitant of this State, is wrongfully held in another 
State or Territory of the United States, upon the al 
legation or pretence that such person is a slave, or 
by color of anv usaore or rule of law is deemed or 

/ t/ O 

taken to be a slave, to take such measures to procure 
the restoration of such person to liberty, as he shall 
deem necessary. And to that end, he is authorized 
to appoint and employ an agent, and directed to fur 
nish him with such credentials and instructions as will 
be likely to accomplish the object of his appointment. 
It requires the agent so appointed to proceed to col 
lect the proper proof to establish the right of such 
person to his freedom ; to perform such journeys, tulro 
such measures, institute such legal proceedings, &c., 
as may be necessary to return such person to this 
State, and charges all expenses inclined in carrying 



AXXITS }IEiIOEIAL TO THE GOVEHXOE. 291 

the act into effect, upon "moneys not otherwise ap 
propriated in the treasury."" 

It was necessary to establish two facts to the satis 
faction of the Governor: First, that I was a free citi 
zen of yew- York ; and secondly, that I was wrong- 
i ully held in bondage. As to the first point, there 
was no dimeulty, all the older inhabitants in the vi 
cinity hemp; ready to testily to it. The second point 
rested en rely upon the letter to Parker and Perry, 
written In an nnhnown hand, and upon the letter pen 
ned on hoard the brig Orleans, which, unfortunately, 
Lad been mislaid or lost. 

A memorial was prepared, directed to his excellen 
cy, Governor limit, setting ibrth her marriage, my 
departure to T7a .-hi:;;.- Nun city ; the receipt of the let 
ters ; that i was a free cit:;:cn, and such other facts as 
were (lev mod important, and was signed and verified 
by Anne. Accompanying this memorial were sever 
al amuavits of prominent citizens of Sandy Hill and 
Fore Edward, corroborating fully the statements it 
contained, and also a reonest of several well known 

remieincn to the Governor, that Henry 13. Xorthup 
ue appointed agent under the legislative act. 

On reading the memorial and affidavits, his excel 
lency took a lively interest in the matter, and on the 
5;:;d day of Xovembcr, 1S52, under the seal of the 
t tate, " constituted, appointed and employed Henry 

13. Xorthup, Fso., an agent, Avith full power to effect" 
mv restoration, and to take such measures as would 



292 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

"be most likely to accomplish it, and instructing him 
to proceed to Louisiana with all convenient dispatch.* 
The pressing nature of Mr. Northup s professional 
and political engagements delayed his departure un 
til December. On the fourteenth day of that month 
he left Sandy Hill, and proceeded to Washington. 
The Hon. Pierre Soule, Senator in Congress from Lou- 

O 

isiana, Hon. Mr. Conrad, Secretary of War, and 
Judge Xelson, of the Supreme Court of the United 
States, upon hearing a statement of the facts, and ex 
amining his commission, and certified copies of the 
memorial and affidavits, furnished him with open let 
ters to gentlemen in Louisiana, strongly urging their 
assistance in accomplishing the object of his ap 
pointment. 

Senator Soule especially interested himself in the 
matter, insisting, in forcible language, that it was the 
duty and interest of every planter in his State to aid 
in restoring me to freedom, and trusted the sentiments 
of honor and justice in the bosom of every citizen of 
the commonwealth would enlist him at once in my 
behalf. Having obtained these valuable letters, Mr. 
Northup returned to Baltimore, and proceeded from 
thence to Pittsburgh. It was his original intention, 
under advice of friends at Washington, to go directly 
to !N"ew Orleans, and consult the authorities of that 
city. Providentially, however, on arriving at the 
mouth of Bed River, he changed his mind. Had he 
continued on, he would not have met with Bass, i i 

* See A eiidix B. 



AUTIIVAL AT MAUKSVILLE. 293 

which case the search for me would probably have 
been fruitless. 

Taking passage on the first steamer that arrived, 
he pursued his journey up Red River, a sluggish, 
winding stream, flowing through a vast region of 
prim: live forests rmd impenetrable swamps, almost 
wholly destitute of inhabitants. About nine o clock in 
the forenoon, January 1st, 1S53, he left the steamboat 
at Marksville, and proceeded directly to Marksville 
Court House, a small village four miles in the interior. 

From the fact that the letter to Messrs. Parker and 
Perry was post-marked at Marksville, it was supposed 
by him that I was in that place or its immediate vi 
cinity. On reaching this town, he at once laid his 
business before the lion. John P. TVaddill, a legal 
gentleman of distinction, and a man of fine genius 
and most noble impulses. After reading the letters 
and documents presented him, and listening to a rep 
resentation of the circumstances under which I had 
been carried away into captivity, Mr. "Wacldill at 
once proffered his services, and entered into the af 
fair with creat zeal and earnestness. lie, in common 

O * 

with others of like elevated character, looked upon 
the kidnapper witli abhorrence. The title of his fel 
low parishioners and clients to the property which 
constituted the larger proportion of their wealth, not 
only depended upon the good faith in which slave 
sales were transacted, but he was a man in whose 
honorable heart emotions of indignation were aroused 
by such an instance of injustice. 



TWELVE YE A 113 A SLAVE. 

Marksville, although occupying a prominent posi 
tion, and standing out in impressive italics on the 
map of Louisiana, is, in fact, but a small and insig 
nificant hamlet. Aside from the- tavern, kept by a, 
jolly and generous bonlfaee, the court house, inhabi 
ted by lawless cows and swine in the seasons of va 
cation, and a high gallows, with its dl.v-evered ropo 
dangling in the air, there is little to attract the at 
tention of the stranger. 

Solomon ^Torthup was a name "Ir. Waudill had 
never heard, but he was confident that if there was 
a slave bearing that appellation in ^larks villa or vi 
cinity, his black boy Tom would know him. Tom 
was accordingly called, but in all his extensive cir 
cle of acquaintances there was no such personage. 

The letter to Parker and Perry was dated at Bayou 
Bceuf. At this place, therefore, the conclusion was, 
I must be sought. But here a difficulty suggested 
itself, of a very grave character indeed. Bayou Ikcnf, 
at its nearest point, was twenty-three miles distant, 
and was the name applied to the section of country 
extending between fifty and a hundred miles, on 
both sides of that stream. Thousands and thousands 
of slaves resided upon .its shore?, the remarkable 
richness and fertility of the coil having attracted 
thither a great number of planters. The information 
in the letter was so vague and indefinite as to render 
it difficult to conclude upon any specific course of 
proceeding. It was -finally determined, however, as 
the only plan that presented any prospect of success, 



NEW-YORK POLITICS. 295 

tli at Xorthup and the brother of AVaddill, a student 
in the office of the latter, should repair to the Bayou, 
and traveling up one side and down the other its 
whole length, inquire at each plantation for me. Mr. 
"\\ r addill tendered the use of his carriage, and it was 
definitely arranged that they should start upon the 
excursion early Monday morning. 

It will be seen at once that this course, in all prob 
ability, would have resulted unsuccessfully. It would 
have been impossible for them to have gone into the 
fields and examine all the gangs at work. They 
were not aware that I was known only as Platt ; and 
had they inquired of Epps himself, he would have 
stated truly that he knew nothing of Solomon 
jSTorthup. 

The arrangement being adopted, however, there 
was nothing further to be done until Sunday had 
elapsed. The conversation between Messrs. 2s~orthup 
and "\Yaddill, in the course of the afternoon, turned 
upon Xew-York politics. 

" I can scarcely comprehend the nice distinc 
tions and shades of political parties in your State," 
observed Mr. "Waddill. " I read of soft-shells and 
hard-shells, hunkers and barnburners, woolly-heads 
and silver-grays, and am unable to understand the 
precise difference between them. Pray, what is it?" 

Mr. Xorthup, re-filling his pipe, entered into quite 
an elaborate narrative of the origin of the various 
sections of parties, and concluded by saying there was 
another party in Kew-York, known as free-soilers or 



296 TWELVE YEAES A SLATE. 

abolitionists. " You have seen none of those in this 
part of the country, I presume ?" Mr. Xorthup re 
marked. 

" JS ever, "but one," answered "Waddill, laughingly. 
" "We have one here in Marks vi lie, an eccentric crea 
ture, who preaches abolitionism as vehemently as any 
fanatic at the Korth. He is a generous, inoffensive 
man, but always maintaining the wrong side of an 
argument. It affords us a deal of amusement. He 
is an excellent mechanic, and almost indispensable in 
this community. He is a carpenter. His name is 
Bass." 

Some further good-natured conversation was had at 
the expense of Bass peculiarities, when Waddill all 
at once fell into a reflective mood, and asked for the 
mysterious letter again. 

"Let me sec 1-e-t m-e s-e-e !" he repeated, 
thoughtfully to himself, running his eyes over the let 
ter once more. " Bayou Bceuf, August 15. August 
15 post-marked here. He that i s wri ting for m e 
"Where did Bass work last summer?" he inquired, 
turning suddenly to his brother. His brother was 
unable to inform him, but rising, left the office, and 
soon returned with the intelligence that " Bass work 
ed last summer somewhere on Bayou Bceuf." 

"lie is the man, "bringing down his hand emphat 
ically on the table, " who can tell us all about Sol 
omon Northup," exclaimed Waddill. 

Bass was immediately searched for, but could not 
be found. After some inquiry, it was ascertained he 



THE MEETING WITH BASS. 297 

was at the landing on Tied Hivcr. Procuring a con- 

O O 

Yeyanee. young "Waddill and Xortliup were not long 
in traversing tlie few miles to the latter place. On 
tlicir arrival, Bass was found, just on the point of leav 
ing, to bo absent a fortnight or more. After an in 
troduction, Xorthup begged the privilege of speaking 
to him privately a moment. They walked together 
towards the river, when the following conversation 
ensued : 

" Mi 1 . Bass," said Xortlmp, " allow me to ask you. 
if you were on Bayou Bueuf last August ? " 

u Yes, sir, I was there in August," was the reply. 

; Did yon write a letter for a colored man at that 
place to some gentleman in Saratoga Springs ? " 

JL O O J. O 

" Excuse me, sir, if I say that is none of your busi 
ness," answered Bass, stopping and looking his inter 
rogator searchingly in the face. 

u Perl iaps I am rather hasty, jlr. Bass ; I beg your 
pardon ; but I have come from the State of New- York 
to accomplish the purpose the writer of a letter dated 
the 15th of August, post-marked at Marksville, had 
in view. Circumstances have led me to think that 
YOU are perhaps the man who wrote it. I am in 
search of Solomon Xortlmp. If yon know him, I beg 
YOU to inform me frankly where he is, and I assure 
you the source of any information YOU may give me 
shall not be diYulged, if you desire it not to be." 

A long time Bass looked his new acquaintance 
steadily in the eyes, without opening his 3 ; ps. He 
ecemed to be doubting in his own mind if there was 
M* 



f>98 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

not an attempt to practice some deception upon him. 
Finally he said, deliberately 

" I have done nothing to be ashamed of. I am tho 
man who wrote the letter. If yon have come to res 
cue Solomon Nortlmp, I am glad to see you." 

" When did you last see him, and where is he ? " 
Northup inquired. 

" I last saw him Christmas, a week ago to-day. 
lie is the slave of Edwin Epps, a planter on Bayou 
33oeuf, near Holmesville. lie is not known as Solo 
mon Xorthup ; he is called Platt." 

The secret was out the mystery was unraveled. 
Through the thick, black cloud, amid whose dark and 
dismal shadows I had walked twelve years, broke the 
star that was to light me back to liberty. All mis 
trust and hesitation were soon- thrown aside, and the 
two men conversed long and freely upon the subject 
uppermost in their thoughts. Bass expressed the 
interest he had taken in my behalf his intention of 
going north in the Spring, and declaring that he had 
resolved to accomplish my emancipation, if it were in 
his power. lie described tho commencement and 
progress of his acquaintance witli me, and listened 
with eager curiosity to the account given him of my 
family, and the history of my early life. Before sep 
arating, he drew a map of the bayou on a strip of paper 
with a piece of red chalk, showing the locality of Epps 
plantation, and the road leading most directly to it. 

]N"orthup and his young companion returned to 
Marksville, where it was determined to commence 



LEGAL PROCEEDINGS. 299 

legal proceedings to test tlio question of my riglit to 
freedom. I was made plaintiff, Mr. Xorthup acting 
as my guardian, and Edwin Epps defendant. The 
process to be issued was in tlic nature of replevin, di 
rected to the sheriff of the parish, commanding him 
to take me into custody, and detain me until the de 
cision of the court. By the time the papers were duly 
drawn up, it was twelve o clock at night too late to 
obtain the necessary signature of the Judge, who resi 
ded some distance out of town. Further business was 
therefore suspended until Monday morning. 

Everything, apparently, was moving along swim 
mingly, until Sunday afternoon, whenWaddill called 
at JSTortlmp s room to express his apprehension of dif 
ficulties they had not expected to encounter. Bass 
had become alarmed, and had placed his affairs in 
the hands of a person at the landing, communicating 
to him his intention of leaving the State. This per 
son had betrayed the confidence reposed in him to a 
certain extent, and a rumor began to float about the 
town, that the stranger at the hotel, who had been 
observed in the company of lawyer "\Vaddill, was after 
one of old Epps slaves, over on the bayou. Epps 
was known at Marksville, having frequent occasion 
to visit that place during the session of the courts, and 
the fear entertained by Mr. Xorthup s adviser was, 
that intelligence would be conveyed to him in the 
night, giving him an opportunity of secreting me be 
fore the arrival of the sheriff. 

This apprehension had the effect of expediting mat- 



300 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

ters considerably. The sheriff, who lived in one direc 
tion from the village, was requested to hold himself 
in readiness immediately after midnight, while the 
Judge was informed he would be called upon at the 
same time. It is but justice to say, that the authori 
ties at Marksville cheerfully rendered all the assist 
ance in their power. 

As soon after midnight as bail could be perfected, 
and the Judge s signature obtained, a carriage, con 
taining Mr. Northup and the sheriff, driven by the 
landlord s son, rolled rapidly out of the village of 
Marksville, on the road towards Bayou Boeuf. 

It was supposed that Epps would contest the issue 
involving my right to liberty, and it therefore sug 
gested itself to Mr. iNorthup, that the testimony of the 
sheriff, describing my first meeting with the for 
mer, might perhaps become material on the trial. 
It was accordingly arranged during the ride, that, 
before I had an opportunity of speaking to Mr. 
ISTorthup, the sheriff should propound to me cer 
tain questions agreed upon, such as the number and 
names of my children, the name of my wife before 
marriage, of places I knew at the Xorth, and so forth. 
If my answers corresponded with the statements giv 
en him, the evidence must necessarily be considered 
conclusive. 

At length, shortly after Epps had loft the field, with 
the consoling assurance that he would soon return and 
warm us, as was stated in the conclusion of the pre 
ceding chapter, they came in sight of flie plantation, 



301 
and discovered us at work. Alighting from the car- 

o O 

riago, and directing the driver to proceed to the great 
house, with instructions not to mention to any one 
the object of their errand until they met again, Kortli- 
np and the stieriff turned from the highway, and camo 
towards us across the cotton field. We observed them, 
on looking up at the carriage one several rods in 
advance of the other. It was a singular and unusual 
thing to see white men approaching us in that man 
ner, and especially at that early hour in the morning, 
and Uncle Abram and Patsey made some remarks, 
expressive of their astonishment. Walking up to 
Bob, the sheriff inquired : 

" Where s the boy they call Platt ? " 

" Thar lie is, mnssa," answered Bob, pointing to me, 
and twitching oil his hat. 

I wondered to myself what business he could pos 
sibly have with me, and turning round, gazed at him 
until he had approached within a step. During my 
long residence on the bayou, I had become familiar 
with the face of every planter within many miles; 
but this man was an utter stranger certainly I had 
never seen him before. 

" Your name is Platt, is it ? " he asked. 

" Yes, master," I responded. 

Pointing towards Xorthup, standing a few rods dis 
tant, he demanded " Do you know that man? " 

I looked in the direction indicated, and as my eyes 
rested on his countenance, a world of images thronged 
my brain ; a multitude of well-known faces Anne s, 



302 TWELVE YEARS *A SLAVE. 

and tlio. dear children s, and my old dead father s ; all 
tlie scenes and associations of childhood and jontli ; 
all the friends of other and happier days, appeared 
and disappeared, flitting and floating like dissolving 
shadows before the vision of my imagination, until at 
last the perfect memory of the man recurred to me, 
and throwing up my hands towards Heaven, I ex 
claimed, in a voice louder than I could utter in a less 
exciting moment 

" Henry B. Nortlmp ! Thank God thank God ! " 

In an instant I comprehended the nature of his busi 
ness, and felt that the hour of my deliverance was at 
hand. I started towards him, but the sheriff stepped 
before me. 

"Stop a moment," said he ; "have you any oilier 
name than Platt ? " 

" Solomon Xorthup is my name, master," I replied. 

" Have you a family ? " he inquired. 

" I had a wife and three children." 

" What were your children s names ? " 

"Elizabeth, Margaret and Alonzo." 

" And your wife s name before her marriage ? " 

* Anne Hampton." 

" Who married you ? " 

" Timothy Eddy, of Fort Edward." 

" Where does that gentleman live ? " again pointing 
to Xorthup, who remained standing in the same place 
where I had first-recognized him. 

" He lives in Sandy Hill, Washington countv, Xow 
York," was the reply. 



THE. MEETING. 303 

lie was proceeding to ask further questions, but I 
pushed pa.tt him, unable longer to restrain myself. 
d my (Ad acquaintance by Loth hands. I could 
iif L speak. I could not refrain from tears. 

ol," lie said at length, "I m glad to see YOU." 

I essayed to make some answer, but emotion choked 
all utterance, and I was silent. The slaves, utterly 
confounded, stood gazing upon the scene, their open 
mouths and rolling eyes indicating the utmost wonder 
and astonishment. For ten rears I had dwelt amonjr 

u e> 

them, in the field and in the cabin, borne the same 
hardship?, partaken the same fare, mingled my griefs 
with theirs, participated in the same scanty joys ; 
nevertheless, not until this hour, the last I was to re 
main among them, had the remotest suspicion of my 
true name, or the slightest knowledge of my real his 
tory, been entertained by any one of them. 

>t a word was spoken for several minutes, during 
which time I clung fast to Xorthup, looking up into 
hi 6 face, fearful I should awake and find it all a 
dream. 

- Throw down that sack," Xorthup added, finally; 
:; your cotton-picking days are over. Come with us 
to the man you live with." 

I obeyed him, and walking between him and the 
sheriff, we moved towards the great house. It was 
not until we had proceeded some distance that I had 
recovered my voice sufficiently to ask if my family 
were all living, lie informed me he had seen Anne, 
Tu .irgaret and Elizabeth but a short time previously ; 



304 TWELVE TEAKS A SLAVE. 

that Alonzo was also living, and all were well. I\Iy 
mother, however, I could never see again. As I be 
gan to recover in some measure from the sudden and 
great excitement which so overwhelmed me, I grew 
faint and weak, insomuch it was with difficulty I could 
walk. The sheriff took hold of my arm and assisted 
me, or I think I should have fallen. As we entered 
the yard, Epps stood by the gate, conversing with the 
driver. That young man, faithful to his instructions, 
was entirely unable to give him the least information 
in answer to his repeated inquiries of what was going 
on. By the time we reached him he was almost as 
much amazed and puzzled as Bob or Uncle Abram. 
Shaking hands with the sheriff, and receiving an 
introduction to Mr. j^orthup, he invited them into the 
house, ordering me, at the same time, to bring in 
some wood. It was some time before I succeeded in 
cutting an armful, having, somehow, unaccountably 
lost the power of wielding the axe with any manner 
of precision. When I entered with it at last, the 
table was strewn with papers, from one of which 
Northup was reading. I was probably longer than 
necessity required, in placing the sticks upon the fire, 
being particular as to the exact position of each indi 
vidual one of them. I heard the words, " the said 
Solomon ISTorthup," and " the deponent further says," 
and " free citizen of ^ew-York," repeated frequently, 
and from these expressions understood that the secret 
I had so long retained from Master and Mistress Epps, 
was finally developing. I lingered as long as pru- 




SCENE IN THE COTTON FIELD. SOLOMON DELIVERED UP. 



305 

dcnce permitted, and was about leaving tlie room, 
when Epps inquired, 

" Platt, do you know tliis gentleman ? " 

" Yes, master," I replied, " I have known him as 
long as I can remember." 

"Where does he live?" 

" He lives in New-York." 

" Did you ever live there ? " 

" Yes, master born and bred there." 

" You was free, then. Now you d d nigger," 

he exclaimed, " why did you not tell me that when I 
bought you ? " 

" blaster Epps," I answered, in a somewhat differ 
ent tone than the one in which I had been accustomed 
to address him " Master Epps, you did not take the 
trouble to ask me ; besides, I told one of my owners 
the man that kidnapped me that I was free, and 
was whipped almost to death for it." 

" It seems there has been a letter written for you by 
somebody. Now, who is it ? " he demanded, authori 
tatively. I made no reply. 

"I say, who wrote that letter?" he demanded 
again. 

" Perhaps I wrote it myself," I said. 

" You haven t been to Marksville post-office and 
hack before light, I know." 

He insisted upon my informing him, and I insisted 
I would not. He made many vehement threats against 
the man, whoever he might be, and intimated the 

bloody and savage vengeance he would wreak upon 

20 



300 TWELVE YEAE3 A SLAVE. 

him, when he found him out. His whole manner 
and language exhibited a feeling of anger towards the 
unknown person who had written for me, and of fret- 
fulness at the idea of losing so much property. Ad 
dressing Mr. ISTorthup, he swore if he had only had an 
hour s notice of his coining, lie would have saved him 
the trouble of taking me back to ^New-York ; that he 
would have run me into the swamp, or some other 
place out of the way, where all the sheriffs on earth 
couldn t have found me. 

I walked out into the yard, and was entering the 
kitchen door, when something struck me in the back. 
Aunt Phebe, emerging from the back door of the 

7 O O 

great house with a pan of potatoes, had thrown one 
of them with unnecessary violence, thereby giving 
me to understand that she wished to speak to me a 
moment confidentially. Running up to me, she whis 
pered in my ear with great earnestness, 

" Lor a mity, Platt ! what d ye think ? Dem two 
men come after ye. Heard em tell massa you free 

t/ *> 

got wife and tree children back thar whar you come 
from. Goin wid em? Fool if ye don t wish I 
could go," and Aunt Phebe ran on in this manner at 
a rapid rate. 

Presently Mistress Epps made her appearance in 
the kitchen. She said many things to me, and won 
dered why I had not told her who I was. She ex 
pressed her regret, complimenting me by saying she 
had rather lose any other servant on the plantation. 
Had Patsey that day stood in my place, the measure 



THE FAREWELL. 807 

of my mistress joy would have overflowed. Now 
there was 110 one loft wlio could mend a chair or a 
piece of furnitiirc no one who was of any use about 
the house no one who could phiy for her on the vio 
lin :r id Mistress Epps was actually affected to tears. 

Epps had called to Boh to bring up his saddle horse. 
The other slaves, also, overcoming their fear of the 
penalty, had left their work and come to the yard. 
They wore standing "behind the cabins, out of sight of 
Epps. They beckoned me to come to them, and with 
<".H the eagerness of curiosity, excited to the highest 
pitch, conversed with and questioned me. If I could 
repeat; the exact words they uttered, with the same 
emphas :- if I could paint their several attitudes, and 
the expression of their countenances it would be 
indeed an interesting picture. In their estimation, I 
had suddenly arisen to an immeasurable height had 
become a being of immense importance. 

The legal papers having been served, and arrange 
ments made with Epps to meet them the next dav at 

X -L / 

ILirhsville, Korthup and the sheriff entered the 
carriage to return to the latter place. As I was about 
mounting to the driver s scat, the sheriff said I ought 
to hid . Epps roo(l bve. I ran back to 

JL i. O t/ 

the piazza where they were standing, and taking off 
my hat, said, 

"Good-bye, missis." 

"Good-bye, Platt," said Mrs. Epps, kindly. 

" Good-bye, master." 

" Ah ! yon cl d nigger," muttered Epps, in a surly, 



SOS TWELVE YEARS A SLATE. 

malicious tone of voice, " you needn t feel so cussed 
tickled you ain t gone yet I ll see about tliis busi 
ness at Marks ville to-morrow." 

I was only a " nigger" and knew my place, but felt 
as strongly as if I had been a white man, that it 
would have been an inward comfort, had I dared to 
have given him a parting kick. On my way hack to 
the carriage, Patsey ran from behind a cabin and 
threw her arms about my neck. 

" Oh! Platt," she cried, tears streaming clown her 
face, "you re goin to be free you re goin way oil 
yonder where we ll neber see ye any more. You ve 
saved me a good many whipping, Platt ; I m glad 
you re goin to be free but oh! de Lord, de Lord! 
what ll become of me ?" 

I disengaged myself from her, and entered the 
carriage. The driver cracked his whip and away we 
rolled. I looked back and saw Patsey, with drooping 
head, half reclining on the ground ; Mrs. Epps was on 
the piazza; Uncle Abram, and Bob, and Wiley, and 
Aunt Phebe stood by the gate, gazing after me. I 
waved my hand, but the carriage turned a bend of 
the bayou, hiding them from my eyes forever. 

We stopped a moment at Carey s sugar house, 
where a great number of slaves were at work, such 
an establishment being a curiosity to aXorthern man. 
Epps dashed by us on horseback at full speed on 
the way, as we learned next day, to the "Pine 
Woods," to see William Ford, who had brought me 
into the country. 



DEPARTURE HOMEWARD. 309 

Tuesday, the fourth of January, Epps and his coun 
sel, the Hon. IT. Taylor, iSTorthup, Waddill, the Judge 
and sheriff of Avoyelles, and- myself, met in a room 
in the village of Marksville. Mr. Korthup stated the 

facts in regard to me, and presented his commission, 
and the affidavits accompanying it. The sheriff de 
scribed the scene in the cotton field. I was also 
interrogated at great length. Finally, Mr. Taylor 
assured his client that he was satisfied, and that liti 
gation would not only be expensive, "but utterly use 
less. In accordance with his advice, a paper was 
drawn up and signed by the proper parties, wherein 
Epps acknowledged he was satisfied of my right to 
freedom, and formally surrendered me to the authori 
ties of Xew-York. It was also stipulated that it "be 
entered of record in the recorder s office of Avoy- 
elles.* 

Mr. Xorthup and myself immediately hastened to 
the landing, and taking passage on the first steamer 
that arrived, were soon floating down Eed River, up 
which, with such desponding thoughts, I had been 
borne twelve years before. 

* See Appendix C. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

ARRIVAL IN NEW-ORLEANS GLIMPSE OF FREEMAN GENOT?, THE RECOni" 

Ell HIS DESCRIPTION OF SOLOMON REACH CHARLESTON INTEKKUL T!:i.> 

BY CUSTOM HOUSE OFFICERS PASS THROUGH RICHMOND A R RIVAL IN 

"WASHINGTON LURCH ARRESTED SHEKELS AND THORN THiHR TESTI 
MONY LURCH ACQUITTED ARREST CF SOLOMON F.URCH AYITHDRAVv S 

THE COMPLAINT THE HIGHER TRIBUNAL DEPARTURE FROM WASHING 
TON ARRIVAL AT SANDY HILL OLD FRIENDS AND FAMILIAR SCENES 

PROCEED TO GLENS FALLS MEETING "SYITJI ANN! , MARGARET AND EL!/A- 

BETH SOLOMON NOKTIIUP STAUNTON INC1DJ;NT3 CONC L USIO N. 

As tlie steamer glided on its \vry towards Xev T - 
Orleans, perl taps I Avas not liiipp} r perhaps tlicro 
was no difficulty in restraining myself from dancing 
round the deck -perhaps I did not feel grateful to 
the man \vlio had come so many hundred miles for 
me perhaps I did not light his pipe, aud wait and 
watch his word, and run at his slightest Lidding. IT 
I didn t well, no matter. 

We tarried at ISTew-Orleans two days. During thai. 
time I pointed out the locality of Freeman s slave 
pen, and the room in which Ford purchased ir,c v . "YTe 
happened to meet Theophilus in the street, but I did 
not think it worth while to renew acquaintance with 
him. From respectable citizens we ascertained iio 
had become a low, miserable rowdy a broken-down, 
disreputable man. 



THE EECOKDEE OF XEW-OKLEAXS. 311 

also visitecl the recorder, Mr. Genois, to whom 
Senator Some s letter was directed, and found him a 
man well deserving the wide and honorable reputa 
tion that he hears. He very generously furnished ITS 
with a sort of letral pass, over his signature and seal 

O J_ 7 ^ 

of office, and as it contains the recorder s description 
of my personal appearance, it may not be -amiss to in 
sert it here. The following is a copy : 

O i. *j 

" State of Louisiana City of New- Orleans : 

Itecorder s Oflico, Second District. 
"To all to vniom these presents shall como : 

"This is to certify that Homy 13. Northnp, Esquire, of the 
county of Washington. New-York, has produced before me dun 
evidence of the freedom of Solomon, a mulatto man, aged 
about forty-two years, five feet, seven inches and six lines, woolly 
hair, aud chestnut eyes, who is a native born of the State of 
No-vr-Yoj-k. That the said Xorthup, beinci about bringing the 
said Solomon to his native place, through the southern routes, 
the civil authorities are requested to let the aforesaid color 
ed man Solomon pa?s unmolested, he demeaning well and 



Oiven under my hand and the seal of the. city of Xew-Or 
leans this 7th January, 1853. 

[L. .] "TIT. GEX01S, Recorder." 

On the Sth we came to Lake Pontchartrain, by rail 
road, and, in due time, following the usual route, 
reached Charleston. After going on board the steam 
boat, and paying our passage at this citv, 3,Ir. Xorth 
up was called upon by a cii-tom-housc officer to ex- 
plain whv he bad not registered his servant, "Ho 



312 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

replied that lie had no servant that, as the agent of 
New-York, he was accompanying a free citizen of that 
State from slavery to freedom, and did not desire nor 
intend to make any registry whatever. I conceived 
from his conversation and manner, though I may per 
haps be entirely mistaken, that no great pains would 
be taken to avoid whatever difficulty the Charleston 
officials might deem proper to create. At length, 
however, we were permitted to proceed, and, passing 
through Richmond, where I caught a glimpse of 
Goodin s pen, arrived in Washington January 17th, 
1853. 

We ascertained that both Btirch and Radburn were 
still residing in that city. Immediately a coin plaint 
was entered with a police magistrate of Washington, 
against James II. Burch, for kidnapping and selling 
me into slavery. He was arrested upon a warrant 
issued by Justice Goddard, and returned before Jus 
tice Mansel, and held to bail in the sum of three thou 
sand dollars. When first arrested, Burch was much 
excited, exhibiting the utmost fear and alarm, and be 
fore reaching the justice s office on Louisiana Ave 
nue, and before knowing the precise nature of the 
complaint, begged the police to permit him to consult 
Benjamin O. Shekels, a slave trader of seventeen 
years standing, and his former partner. The latter 
became his bail. 

At ten o clock, the 18th of January, both parties 
appeared before the magistrate. Senator Clmse, nf 
Ohio, Hon. Orville Clark, of Sanely Hill, and Mr 



EURCII AEEESTED. 313 

jSTorthup acted as counsel for the prosecution, and Jo 
seph II. Bradley for the defence. 

Gen. Orville Clark was called and sworn as a wit 
ness, and testified that he had known me from child 
hood, and that I was a free man, as was my father be 
fore ine. Mr. Nortlmp then testified to the same, and 
proved the facts connected with his mission to Avoy- 
elles. 

Ebenezer Eadburn was then sworn for the prosecu 
tion, and testified he was forty-eight years old ; that 
he was a resident of Washington, and had known 
Burch fourteen years ; that in 181:1 he was keeper of 
Williams slave pen ; that he remembered the fact of 
my confinement in the pen that year. At this point 
it was admitted by the defendant s counsel, that I had 
been placed in the pen by Burch in the spring of 
18-11, and hereupon the prosecution rested. 

Benjamin 0. Shekels was then offered as a witness 
by the prisoner. Benjamin is a large, coarse-featured 
man, and the reader may perhaps get a somewhat 
correct conception of him by reading the exact lan 
guage he used in answer to the first question of de 
fendant s lawyer. He was asked the place of his na 
tivity, and his reply, uttered in a sort of rowdyish 
way, was in these very words 

" I was born in Ontario county, New- York, and 
weighed fourteen pounds /" 

Benjamin was a prodigious baby ! He further tes 
tified that he kept the Steamboat Hotel in Washing 
ton in 1841, and saw me there in the spring of that 
N 



314: TWELVE YEAES A SLAVE. 

year. He was proceeding to state what he had heard 
two men say, when Senator Chase raised a legal ob 
jection, to wit, that the sayings of third persons, be 
ing hearsay, was improper evidence. The objection 
was overruled by the Justice, and Shekels continued, 
stating that two men came to his hotel and represent 
ed they had a colored man for sale ; that they had an 
interview with Burch ; that they stated they came 
from Georgia, but he did not remember the county ; 
that they gave a full history of the boy, saying he was 
a bricklayer, and played on the violin ; that Burch 
reniarked he would purchase if they could agree ; that 
they went out and brought the boy in, and that I was 
the same person. He further testified, with a; : 
much unconcern as if it was the truth, that I rep- 
presented I was born and bred in Georgia ; that 
one of the young men with me was my master ; that 
I exhibited a great deal of regret at parting with him, 
and he believed " got into tears !" - nevertheless, that 
I insisted my master had a right to sell me ; that ho 
ought to sell .me ; and the remarkable reason I gave 
was, according to Shekels, because he , my master, 
"had been gambling and on a spree !" 

He continued, in these words, copied from the min - 
utes taken on the examination : " Burch interrogated 
the boy in the usual manner, told him if he purchas 
ed him he should send him south. The boy said no 
had no objection, that in fact he would like to go 
south. Burch paid 650 for him, to my knowledge, 
I don t know what name was given him, but think it 



SHLKELS AXD TIIOEX. 315 

was not Solomon. Did not know tlie name of either 
of the two men. They were in my tavern two or three 
hours, during which time the boy played on the vio 
lin. The Lill of sale was signed in my bar-room. It 
was a prin ted llcuilt, filled up ly Burcli. Before 1838 
Burch was my partner. Our business was buying 
and selling slaves. After that time he was a partner 
of Theophilus Freeman, of Xew-Orleans. Burcli 
bought here Freeman sold there !" 

Shekels, before testifying, had heard my relation of 
the circumstances connected with the visit to "Wash 
ington, with Brown and Hamilton, and therefore, it 
was, undoubtedly, he spoke of " two men," and of my 
playing on the violin. Such was his fabrication, ut 
terly untrue, an:l yet there was found in Washington 
a man who endeavored to corroborate him. 

Beir] am in A. Thorn testified he was at Shekels in 

1.1 

18-il, and c aw a colored boy playing on a fiddle. 
"Shekel::- said ho was for sale. Heard his master tell 
him lie should sell him. The boy acknowledged to me 
he was a slave. I was not present when the money 
was paid. . Will not swear positively this is the boy. 
The master came near shedding tears : I tliiiik theloy 
did! I have been engaged in the business of taking 
slaves south, off and on, for twenty years. "When I 
can t do that I do something else." 

I was then offered as a witness, but, objection be 
ing made, the court decided my evidence inadmissible. 
It was rejected solely on the ground that I was a col- 



316 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

ored man the fact of my "being a freo citizen of 
New- York not being disputed. 

Shekels having testified there was a bill of sale ex 
ecuted, Burch was called upon by the prosecution to 
produce it, inasmuch as such a paper would corrobo 
rate the testimony of Thorn and Shekels. The pris 
oner s counsel saw the necessity of exhibiting it, or 
giving some reasonable explanation for its non-pro 
duction. To effect the latter, Burch himself was offer- 
as a witness in his own behalf. It was contended by 
counsel for the people, that such testimony should not 
be allowed that it was in contravention of every 
rule of evidence, and if permitted would defeat the 
ends of justice. His testimony, however, was receiv 
ed by the court ! He made oath that such a bill of 
sale had been drawn up and signed, lut he had lost it, 
and did not know what had become of it ! Thereup 
on the magistrate was requested to dispatch a police 
officer .to Burch s residence, with directions to bring 
his books, containing his bills of sales for the vear 

o \J 

1841. The request was granted, and before any meas 
ure could be taken to prevent it, the officer had ob 
tained possession of the books, and brought them into 
court. The sales for the year 1841 were found, and 
carefully examined, but no sale of myself, by any 
name, was discovered ! 

Upon this testimony the court held the fact to be 
established, that Burch came innocently and honestly 
by me, and accordingly he was discharged. 



ARREST OF SOLOMON. 31? 

.An attempt wars then made by Burcli and his sat 
ellites, to fasten upon me the charge that I had con 
spired with the two white men to defraud him with 
what success, appears in an extract taken from an ar 
ticle in the Xew-York Times, published a day or two 
subsequent to the trial : " The counsel for the defend 
ant had drawn up, before the defendant was dis 
charged, an affidavit, signed by Burcli, and had a 
warrant out against the colored man for a conspiracy 
with the two white men before referred to, to defraud 
Lurch out of six hundred and twenty-five dollars. 
The warrant was served, and the colored man arrest 
ed and brought before officer Goddard. Burcli and 
his witnesses appeared in court, and II. B. JSforthup 
appeared as counsel for the colored man, stating he 
was ready to proceed as counsel on the part of the de 
fendant, and asking no delay whatever. Burcli, after 
consulting privately a short time with Shekels, stated 
to the magistrate that he wished him to dismiss the 
complaint, as he would not proceed farther with. it. 
Defendant s counsel stated to the magistrate that if 
the complaint was withdrawn, it must be without the 
request or consent of the defendant. Burch then 
asked the magistrate to let him have the complaint 
and the warrant, and he took them. The counsel for 
the defendant objected to his receiving them, and in 
sisted they should remain as part of the records of the 
court, and that the court should endorse the proceed 
ings which had been had under the process. Bnrch 
delivered them up, and the court rendered a judg- 



313 TWELVE YEARS A STATE. 

2aent of discontinuance by the request of the prosecu 
tor, and filed it in his office. " 

There may be those who will affect to believe the 
statement of the slave-trader those, in whose minds 
his allegations will weigh heavier than mine. I am a 
poor colored man one of a down-trodden and de 
graded race, whose humble voice may hot be heeded 
by the oppressor but knowing the truth, and with a 
full sense of my accountability, I do solemnly declare 
before men, and before God, that any charge or as 
sertion, that I conspired directly or indirectly with 
any person or persons to sell myself; that any other 
account of my visit to Washington, my capture arid 
imprisonment in Williams slave pen, than is contain 
ed in these pages, is utterly and absolutely false. I 
never played on the violin in Washington. I never 
was in the Steamboat Hotel, and never saw Thorn or 
Shekels, to my knowledge, in my life, until last Jan 
uary. The story of the trio of slave-traders is a fab 
rication as absurd as it is base and unfounded. Were 
it true, I should not have turned aside on my way 
back to liberty for the purpose of prosecuting Burch. 
I should have avoided rather than song] it him. I 
should have known that such a step would have re 
sulted in rendering me infamous. Under the circum 
stances longing as I did to behold my family, and 
elated with the prospect of returning home it is an 
outrage upon probability to suppose I would have run 
the hazard, not only of exposure, but of a criminal 



DEPARTURE FROM WASHINGTON. 319 

prosecution and conviction, by voluntarily placing 
myself in the position I did, if the statements of 
Burch and his confederates contain a particle of truth. 
I took pains to seek him out, to confront him in a 
court of law, charging him with the crime of kidnap 
ping ; and the only motive that impelled me to this 
step, was a burning sense of the wrong he had inflict- 

J- / O O 

ed upon me, and a desire to bring him to justice, 
lie was acquitted, in the manner, and by such means 
as have been described. A human tribunal has per 
mitted him to escape ; but there is another and a 
higher tribunal, where false testimony will not pre 
vail, and where I am willing, so far at least as these 
statements are concerned, to be judged at last. 

We left "Washington on the 20th of January, and 
proceeding by the way of Philadelphia, New-York, 
and Albany, reached Sandy Hill in the night of the 
21st. My heart overflowed with happiness as I look 
ed around upon old familiar scenes, and found nfyself 
in the midst of friends of other days. The following 
morning I started, in company with several acquaint 
ances, for Glens Falls, the residence of Anne and our 
children. 

As I entered their comfortable cottage, Margaret 
was the first that met me. She did not recognize me. 

O 

When I left her, she was but seven years old, a little 
prattling girl, playing with her toys. Now she was 
grown to womanhood was married, with a bright- 
eyed boy standing by her side. Not forgetful of his 



820 TWELVE TEARS A SLATE. 

enslaved, unfortunate grand-father, she had named the 
child Solomon Northup Staunton. When told who 
I was, she was overcome with emotion, and unable to 
speak. Presently Elizabeth entered the room, and 
Anne came running from the hotel, having been in 
formed of my arrival. They embraced me, and with 
tears flowing down their cheeks, hung upon my neck. 
.But I draw a veil over a scene which can better be 
imagined than described. 

When the violence of our emotions had subsided to 
a sacred joy when the household gathered round 
the fire, that sent out its warm and crackling comfort 
through the room, we conversed of the thousand 
events that had occurred the hopes and fears, the 
joys and sorrows, the trials and troubles we had each 
experienced during the long separation. Alonzo was 
absent in the western part of the State. The boy 
had written to his mother a short time previous, of 
the prospect of his obtaining sufficient money to pur 
chase my freedom. From his earliest years, that had 
been the chief object of his thoughts and his ambi 
tion. They knew I was in bondage. The letter writ 
ten on board the brig, and Clem Ray himself, had 
given them that information. But where I was, until 
the arrival of Bass letter, was a matter of conjecture. 
Elizabeth and Margaret -once returned from school 
so Anne informed me weeping bitterly. On inquir 
ing the cause of the children s sorrow, it was- found 
that, while studying geography, their attention had 
been attracted to the picture of slaves working in the 




ARRIVAL HOME. AND FIRST MEETING WITH HIS \VIFE AND CHILDREN 



CONCLUSION. 321 

cotton-field, and an overseer following them with his 
whip. It reminded them of the sufferings their fa 
ther might be, and, as it happened, actually was, en 
during in the South. Numerous incidents, such as 
these, were related incidents showing they still held 
me in constant remembrance, but not, perhaps, of 
sufficient interest to the reader, to be recounted. 

My narrative is at an end. I have no comments to 
make upon the subject of Slavery. Those who read 
this book may form their own opinions of the " pe 
culiar institution." "What it may be in other States, 
I do not profess to know ; what it is in the region of 
lied River, is truly and faithfully delineated in these 
pages. This is no fiction, no exaggeration. If I have 
failed in anything, it has been in presenting to the 
reader too prominently the bright side of the picture. 
I doubt not hundreds have been as unfortunate as 
myself; that hundreds of free citizens have been kid 
napped and sold into slavery, and are at this mo 
ment wearing out their lives on plantations in 
Texas and Louisiana. But I forbear. Chastened 
and subdued in spirit by the sufferings I have borne, 
and thankful to that good Beins; through, whose mer- 

o o o 

cy I have been restored to happiness and liberty, 
I hope henceforward to lead an upright though lowly 
life, and rest at last in the church yard where my fa 
ther sleeps. 

X* 21 



ROARING RIVER, 



A REFRAIN OF THE RED RIVER PLAXTATION. 





Fine. 











Harper s creek ami roarin ribber, 
Thi\r, my dear, we ll live forebber ; 
Den we ll go to de In^ia nation, 
All I want in dis creation, 
Is pretty little wife and big plantation, 

CHORUS. 

Up dat oak and down dat ribber, 
Two overseers and one little nigger." 



APPENDIX, 



A. Page 291. 



CHAP. 375. 

An act more effectually to protect the free citizens of this State 
from "being kidnapped, or reduced to Slavery. 

[Passed May 14, 1840.] 

The People of the State of New- York, represented in Sen 
ate and Assembly, do enact as follows : 

1. Whenever the Governor of this State shall receive 
information satisfactory to him that any free citizen or any. 
inhabitant of this State has been kidnapped or transported 
away out of this State, into any other State or Territory of the 
United States, for the purpose of being there held in slavery ; or 
that such free citizen or inhabitant is wrongfully seized, im 
prisoned or held in slavery in any of the States or Territories 
of the United States, on the allegation or pretence that such 
a person is a slave, or by color of any usage or rule of law 
prevailing in such State or Territory, is deemed or taken to bo 
a slave, or not entitled of right to the personal liberty belong 
ing to a citizen ; it shall be the duty of the said Governor to 



324 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

take such measures as he shall deem necessary to procure such 
person to be restored to his liberty and returned to tins State. 
The Governor is hereby authorized to appoint and employ such 
agent or agents as he shall deem necessary to effect the restora 
tion and return of such person ; and shall furnish the said agent 
with such credentials and instructions as will be likely to ao 
complish the object of his appointment. The Governor may 
determine the compensation to be allowed to such agent for his 
services besides his necessary expenses. 

2. Such agent shall proceed to collect the proper proof to 
establish the right of such person to his freedom, and shall per 
form such journeys, take such measures, institute and procure 
to be prosecuted such legal proceedings, under the direction of 
the Governor, as shall be necessary to procure such person to 
be restored to his liberty and returned to this State. 

3. The accounts for all services and expenses incurred in 
carrying this act into effect shall be audited by the Comptroller, 
and paid by the Treasurer on his warrant, out of any moneys 
in the treasury of this State not otherwise appropriated. The 
Treasurer may advance, on the warrant of the Comptroller, to 
such agent, such sum or sums as the Governor shall certify to 
be reasonable advances to enable him to accomplish the pur- 
Doses of his appointment, for which advance such agent shall 
account, on the final audit of his warrant. 

8 4. This act shall take effect immediately. 



APPENDIX. 325 

B. Page 292. 

MEMORIAL OF ANNE. 

* 

To Jlis Excellency, the Cover nor of the State of New-York : 

The memorial of Anne Northup, of the village of Glens 
Falls, in the county of Warren, State aforesaid, respectfully 
sets forth 

That your memorialist, whose maiden name was Anne Hamp 
ton, was forty-four years old on the 14th day of March last, and 
was married to Solomon Northup, then of Fort Edward, in 
the county of Washington and State aforesaid, on the 25th day 
of December, A. D. 1828, by Timothy Eddy, then a Justice 
of the Peace. That the said Solomon, after such marriage, 
lived and kept house with your memorialist in said town until 
1830, when he removed with his said family to the town of 
Kingsbury in said county, and remained there about three 
years, and then removed to Saratoga. Springs in the State 
aforesaid, and continued to reside in said Saratoga Springs and 
the adjoining town until about the year 1841, as near as the 
time can be recollected, when the said Solomon started to go to 
the city of "Washington, in the District of Columbia, .since 
which time your memorialist has never seen her said husband. 

And your memorialist further states, that in the year 1841 
she received information by a letter directed to Henry B. 
Northup, Esq., of Sandy Hill, Washington county, New-York, 
and post-marked at New-Orleans, that said Solomon had been 
kidnapped in Washington, put on board of a vessel, and was 
then in such vessel in New-Orleans, but could not tell how he 
came hi that situation, nor what his lestination was. 

That your memorialist ever since the last mentioned period 
has been wholly unable to obtain any information of where the 
said Solomon was, until the month of September last, when 



32 6 TWELVE YEAES A SLAVE. 

another letter was received from the said Solomon, post-marked 
at Marksville, in the parish of Avoyelles, in the State of Lou 
isiana, stating that he was held there as a slave, which state 
ment your memorialist believes to be true. 

That the said Solomon is about forty-five years of age, and 
never resided out of the State of New-York, in which State he 
was born, until the time he went to Washington city, as before 
stated. That the said Solomon Northup is a free citizen of the 
State of New-York, and is now wrongfully held in slavery, in 
or near Marksville, in the parish of Avoyelles, in the State of 
Louisiana, one of the United States of America, on the allega 
tion or pretence that the said Solomon is a slave. 

And your memorialist further states that Mintus Northup was 
the reputed father of said Solomon, and was a negro, and died 
at Fort Edward, on the 22d day of November, 1829 ; that the 
mother of said Solomon was a mulatto, or three quarters white, 
and died in the county of Oswego, New- York, some five or six 
years ago, as your memorialist was informed and believes, and 
never w r as a slave. 

That your memorialist and her family are poor and wholly 
unable to pay or sustain any portion of the expenses of restor 
ing the said Solomon to his freedom. 

Your excellency is entreated to employ such agent or agents 
as shall be deemed necessary to effect the restoration and return 
of said Solomon Northup, in pursuance of an act of the Legis 
lature of the State of New-York, passed May 14th. 1840, 
entitled " An act more effectually to protect the free citizens of 
this State from being kidnappd or reduced to slavery." And 
your memorialist will ever pray. 

(Signed,) ANNE NORTHUP. 

Dated November 19, 1852. 



APPENDIX. 327 

STATE OF NEW-YORK : 

Washington county, ss. 

Anne Northup, of the village of Glens Falls, in the county 
of Warren, in said State, being duly sworn, doth depose and 
say that she signed the above memorial, and that the state 
ments therein contained are true. 

(Signed,) ANNE NORTHUP. 

Subscribed and sworn before me this 
19th November, 1852. 

CHARLES HUGHES, Justice Peace. 

We recommend that the Governor appoint Henry B. Northup, 
of the village of Sandy Hill, Washington county, New- York, 
as one of the agents to procure the restoration and return 
of Solomon Northup, named in the foregoing memorial of 
Anne Northup. 

Dated at Sandy Hill, Washington Co., N. Y., 
November 20, 1852. (Signed,) 

PETER HOLBROOK, DANIEL SWEET, 
B. F. IUOAG, ALMON CLARK, 

CHARLES HUGHES, BKXJAMIN EERRI3, 
E. D. BAKER, JOS I AH II. BROWN 

ORVILLE CLARK. 

STATE OF NEW-YORK : 

Washington County, ss : 

Jositih Hand, of the village of Sandy Hill, in said county, be 
ing duly sworn, says, he is fifty-seven years old, and was born 
in said village, and has always resided there ; that he has 
known Mintus Northup and his son Solomon, named in the an 
nexed memorial of Anne Northup, since previous to the year 
18 10 ; that Mintus Northup then, and until the time of his death, 
cultivated a farm in the towns of Kingsbury and Fort Edward, 
from the time deponent first knew him until he died ; that said 
Mini us and his wife, the mother of said Solomon Northup, 



328 TWELVE YEAES A SLATE. 

were reported to be free citizens of New-York, and deponent 
believes they were so free ; that said Solomon Northup was 
born in said county of Washington, as deponent believes, and 
was married Dec. 25th, 1828, in Fort Edward aforesaid, and 
his said wife and three children two daughters and one son 
are now living in Glens Falls, "VYarren county, New-York, and 
that the said Solomon Northup always resided in said county 
of Washington, and its immediate vicinity, until about 1841, 
since which time deponent has not seen him, but .deponent 
has been credibly informed, and as he verily believes truly, 
the said Solomon is now wrongfully held as a slave in the 
State of Louisiana. And deponent further says that Anne 
Northup, named in the said memorial, is entitled to credit, and 
deponent believes the statements contained in her said memo 
rial are true. (Signed,) JOSIAII HAND. 

Subscribed and sworn before me this 
19th day of November, 1852, 

CHARLES HUGHES, Justice Peace. 
STATE OF NEW-YORK : 

Washington county, ss : 

Timothy Eddy, of Fort Ed\vard, in said county, being duly 
sworn, says he is now over years old, and has been a resident 
of said town more than years last past, and that he was 
well acquainted with Solomon Northup, named in the annexed 
memorial of Anne Northup, and with his father, Mintus North- 
up, who was a negro, the wife of said Mintus was a mulatto 
woman ; that said Mintus Northup and his said wife and family, 
two sons, Joseph and Solomon, resided in said town of Fort 
Edward for several years before the year 1828, and said Min 
tus died in said town A. D. 1829, as deponent believes. And 
deponent farther says that he was a Justice of the Peace in 
said town in the year 1828, and as such Justice of the Peace, 
be, on the 25th day of Dec r, 1828, joined the said Solomon 



APPENDIX. 329 

N< >ri hup in marriage with Anne Hampton, who is the same 
person who has subscribed the annexed memorial. And depo 
nent expressly says, that said Solomon was a free citizen of 
the State of New-York, and always lived in said State, until 
about the year A. D. 1840, since which time deponent has not 
seen him, but has recently been informed, and as deponent be 
lieves truly, that said Solomon Northup is wrongfully held in 
slavery in or near Marksville, in the parish of Avoyelles, in the 
State of Louisiana. And deponent further says, that said Min- 
tus Northup was nearly sixty years old at the time of his death, 
and was, fur more than thirty years next prior to his death, a 
free citizen of the State of New-York. 

And this deponent further says, that Anne Northup, the wife 
of said Solomon Northup, is of good character and reputation, 
and her statements, as contained in the memorial hereto annexed, 
are entitled to full credit. 

(Signed,) TIMOTHY EDDY. 
Subscribed and sworn before me this 

19th day of November, 1852, 

TiM r STOUGHTOX, Justice. 

STATE OF NEW-YORK : 

Washington County, ss : 

Henry B. Northup, of the village of Sandy Hill, in said 
county, being duly sworn, says, that he is forty-seven years old, 
and has always lived in said county; that he knew Mintus 
Northup, named in the annexed memorial, from deponent s 
earliest recollection until the time of his death, which occurred 
at Fort Edward, in said county, in 1829 ; that deponent knew 
the children of said Mintus, viz, Solomon "and Joseph; that 
they were both born in the county of Washington aforesaid, as 
deponent believes ; that deponent was w r ell acquainted with 
said Solomon, who is the same person named in the annexed 
memorial of Anne Northup, from his childhood ; and that said 



330 TWELVE TEARS A SLAVE. 

Solomon always resided in said county of Washington and (lie 
adjoining counties until about the year 1841 ; that said Solo 
mon could read and write ; that said Solomon and his mother 
and father were free citizens of the State of New-York ; that- 
sometime about the year 1841 this deponent received a letter 
from said Solomon, post-marked New-Orleans, stating that 
while on business at Washington city, he had been kidnapped, 
and his free papers taken from him, and he was then on board 
a vessel, in irons, and was claimed as a slave, and that he did 
not know his destination, which the deponent believes to bo 
true, and he urged this deponent to assist in procuring his restora 
tion to freedom ; that deponent has lost or mislaid said letter, 
and cannot find it ; that deponent has since endeavored to find 
where said Solomon was, but- could get no farther trace of him 
until Sept. last, when this deponent ascertained by a letter pur 
porting to have been written by the direction of said Solomon, 
that said Solomon was held and claimed as a slave in or near 
Marksvilie, in the parish of Avoyelles, Louisiana, and that this 
deponent verily believes that such information is true, and that 
said Solomon is now wrongfully held in slavery at Marksville 
aforesaid. (Signed.) HENRY B. NORTIIUP. 

Subscribed and sworn to before me 
tliis 20th day of November, 1852, 

CHARLES HUGHES, J. P. 

STATE OF NEW-YORK: 
Washington County, ss 

Nicholas C. Northup, of the village of Sandy Hill, in said 
county, being duly sworn, doth depose and say, that he is now 
fifty-eight years of age, and has known Solomon Northup, men 
tioned in the annexed memorial of Ann Northup, ever since he 
was born. And this deponent saith that said Solomon is now 
about forty-five years old, and was born in the county of Wash- 



!n";ton aforesaid, or in the comity of Essex, in said Slate, and 
:i!\vays resided in the State of New-York until about the year 
1841, since which time deponent has not seen him or known 
where he was. until a few weeks since, deponent was informed, 
and believes truly, that said Solomon was held in slavery in 
the State of Louisiana. Deponent further savs, that said Sol 
omon was married in the town of Fort Edward, in said county, 
about twenty-iuur years ago, and that his wile and two daugh 
tors and one son now reside in the village of Glens Falls, conn 
ty of "Warren, in said State of New-York. And this deponent 
swears positively that said Solomon Northup is a citizen of said 
State of New-York, and was born free, and from his earliest 
infancy lived and resided hi the counties of Washington, Essex, 
Warren and Saratoga, in the State of New-York, and that his 
said wife- and children have never resided out of said counties 
since the time said Solomon was married; that deponent knew 
the father of said Solomon Northup ; that said father was a 
negro, named Mintus Northup, and died in the town of Fort 
Edward, in the county of Washington, State of New-York, on 
the 22d day of November, A. D. 1S29, and was buried in the 
grave-yard in Sandy Hill aforesaid ; that for more than thirty 
years before his death he lived in the counties of Essex, Wash 
ington and Rensselaer and State of New-York, and left a wife 
and two sons, Joseph and the said Solomon, him surviving; 
that the mother of said Solomon was a, mulatto woman, and is 
now dead, and died, as deponent believes, in Oswego county, 
New-York, within five or six years past. And this deponent 
further states, that the mother of the said Solomon Northup 
was not a slave at the time of the birth of said Solomon North- 
rip, and has not been a slave at any time within the last fifty 
years. (Signed,) N. C. NORTHUP. 

Subscribed and sworn before me this 19th day 

of November, 1852. CHARLES HUGHES, Justice Peace. 



332 TWELVE YEAKS A SLAVE. 

STATE OF NEW-YORK : 
Washington County, ss. 

Orville Clark, of the village of Sandy Hill, in the county of 
Washington, State of New- York, being duly sworn, doth de 
pose and say that he, this deponent, is over fifty years of age ; 
that in the years 1810 and 1811, or most of the time of tlio.-u 
years, this deponent resided at Sandy Hill, aforesaid, and at 
Glens Falls ; that this deponent then knew Mintus Northnp, a 
black or colored man ; he was then a free man, as this depo 
nent believes and always understood ; that the wife of said 
Mintus Northup, and mother of Solomon, was a free woman ; 
that from the year 1818 until the time of the death of said 
Mintus Northup, about the year 1829, this deponent was very 
well acquainted with the said Mintus Northnp ; that he was a 
respectable man in the community in which he resided, and 
was a free man, so taken and esteemed by all his acquaintan 
ces; that this deponent has also been and was acquainted with 
his. son Solomon Northup, from the said year 1818 until ho 
left this part of the country, about the year 1840 or 1841 ; 
that he married Anne Hampton, daughter of William Hamp 
ton, a near neighbor of this deponent; that the said Anne, wife 
of said Solomon, is now living, * ~1 resides in this vicinity ; that 
the said Mintus Northup and William Hampton were both re 
puted and esteemed in this community as respectable men. 
And this deponent saith that the said Mintus Northup and liw 
family, and the said William Hampton and his family, from 
the earliest recollection and acquaintance of this deponent with 
him (as far back as 1810,) were always reputed, esteemed, and 
taken to be, and this deponent believes, truly so, free citizens of 
the State of New- York. This deponent knows the said Wil 
liam Hampton, under the laws of this State, was entitled to 
vote at our elections, and he believes the said Mintus Northup 
also was entitled as a free citizen with the property qualifica- 



APPENDIX. 333 

tion. And tills deponent further saith, that the said Solomon 
Northup, son of said Mintus, and husband of said Anne Hamp 
ton, when he left this State, was at the time thereof a free citi 
zen of the State of Ne\v-York. And this deponent further 
saith. that said Anne Hampton, wife of Solomon Northup ? is a 
respectable woman, of good character, and I would believe her 
statements, and do believe the facts set forth in her memorial 
to his excellency, the Governor, in relation to her said husband, 
are true. (Signed,) ORVILLE CLARK. 

Sworn before me, November 
19th, 1852. 

U. G. PARIS, Justice of the Peace. 

STATE OF NEW-YORK : 

Washington County, ss. 

Benjamin Ferris, of the village of Sandy Hill, in said county, 
being duly sworn, doth depose and say that he is now fifty- 
seven years old, and has resided in said village forty-five years j 
that he was well acquainted with Mintus Northup, named in 
the annexed memorial of Anne Northup, from the year 1816 
to the time of his death, which occurred at Fort Edward, in the. 
fall of 1829; that he knew the children of the said Mintus, 
namely. Joseph Northup and Solomon Northup, and that the 
said Solomon is the same person named in said memorial ; 
that said Mintus resided in the said county of Washington to 
the time of his death, and was, during all that time, a free citi 
zen of the said State of New- York, as deponent verily believes ; 
that said memorialist, Anne Northup, is a woman of good char 
acter, and the statement contained in her memorial is entitled 
to credit. 

(Signed) BENJAMIN FERRIS. 

Sworn before me, November 
10th, 1852. 

U. G. PARIS, Justice of the Peace. 



334 TWELVE YEAK3 A SLAVE. 

STATE OF NEW-YORK: 

Executive Chamber, Albany, Nov. 30, 1852. 
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a correct copy of ccr 
tain proofs filed in the Executive Department, upon which 1 
have appointed Henry B. Northup an Agent of this Slate, tc 
take proper proceedings in behalf of Solomon Northup, there 
in mentioned. 

(Signed,) WASHINGTON HUNT. 

By the Governor. 

J. E. R., Private Secretary. 

STATE OF NEW- YORK : 

Executive JX-j >art ment, 
WASHINGTON HUNT, Governor of the Slate of New-York. 

to whom it may concern^ yrcetlny : 

Whereas, I have received information on oath, which is sat- 
isfactary to me, that Solomon Northup, who is a free citizen of 
this State, is wrongfully held in slavery, in the State of Lou 
isiana : 

And whereas, it is made my duty, by the laws of this State, 
to take such measures as I shall deem necessary to procure any 
citizen so wrongfully held in slavery, to be restored to his lib 
erty and returned to this State : 

Be it known, that in pursuance of chapter 375 of the laws of 
this State, passed in 1840, 1 have constituted, appointed and em 
ployed Henry B. Northup, Esquire, of the county of Washing 
ton, in this State, an Agent, with full power to effect the resto 
ration of said Solomon Northup, and the said Agent is hereby 
authorized and empowered to institute such proper and legal 
proceedings, to procure such evidence, retain such counsel, and 
finally to take such measures as will be most likely to accom 
plish the object of his said appointment. 

He is also instructed to proceed to the State of Louisiana 



APPENDIX. &3o 

with all convenient dispatch, to execute the agency hereby 
created. 

In witness whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name, 

[L.S.] and aflixed the privy seal of the State, at Albany, this 

23d day of November, in the year of our Lord 185*2, 

(Signed,) WASHINGTON HUNT. 

JAMES F. RUGGLES, Private Secretary. 



C. Page 309. 

STATE OF LOUISIANA : 

Parish of Avoyelles. 

Befbro me. Aristide Barbin, Recorder of the parish of Avoy 
olios, personally came and appeared Ik-i.ry B. Northup, of the 
county of "Washington, State of New-York, who hath declared 
that by virtue of a commission to him as agent of the State of 
New-York, given and granted by his excellency, Washington 
JJunt, Governor of the said State of New-York, bearing date 
the 23d day of November, 1S52, authorizing and empowering 
him. the said Northup, to pursue and recover from slavery a 
.free man of color, called Solomon Northnp, wJio is a free citi 
zen of the State of New-York, and who was kidnapped and sold 
into slavery, in the State of Louisiana, and now in the possession 
of Edwin Epp?. of the State of Louisiana, of the Parish of Avoy 
dies ; he, the said agent, hereto signing, acknowledges that the 
said Edwin has this clay given and surrendered to him as such 
agent, the said Solomon Northup, free man of color, as afore 
said, in order that he be restored to his freedom, and carried 
back to the said State of New- York, pursuant to said commis- 
fit">M, the said Edwin Epps being satisfied from the proofs pro 
duced by said agent, that the said Solomon Northup is entitled 
to h s freedom. The parties consenting that a certified copy of 
fcai.i rower of attorney be annexed to this act, 



336 TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. 

Done and signed at Marksville, parish of Avoyelles, tnis 
fourth day of January, one thousand eight hundred and fifty- 
three, in the presence of the- undersigned, legal and competent 
witnesses, \vho have also hereto signed. 

(Signed,) HENRY B. NORTHUP. 

EDWIN EPPS. 
ADE. BARBIN, Recorder. 
Witnesses : 

II. TAYLOR, 
JOHN P. WADDILL. 

STATE OF LOUISIANA : 

Parish of Avoyelles. 

I do hereby certify the foregoing to be a true and correct 
copy of the original on file and of record in my office. 

Given under my hand and seal of office as Recorder 
[L. s.] in and for the parish of Avoyelles, this 4th day of 
January, A. D. 1853. 

(Signed,) ADE. BARBIN, Recorder. 

THE END 



RETURN TO: CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT 
198 Main Stacks 



LOAN PERIOD 1 
Home Use 


2 


3 


4 


5 


6 



ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS. 

Renewals and Recharges may be made 4 days prior to the due date. 
Books may be renewed by calling 642-3405. 

DUE AS STAMPED BELOW. 



BffiR .-T700I 


































































FORM NO. DD6 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 
Berkeley, California 94720-6000 



GENERAL LIBRARY - 



B0007flSQb2