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_By a principle essential to Christianity, a PERSON is eternally
differenced from a THING; so that the idea of a HUMAN BEING,
necessarily excludes the idea of PROPERTY IN THAT BEING_.


Entered according to Act of Congress in 1855 by Frederick
Douglass in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the
Northern District of New York


A Small but most Sincere Acknowledgement of
This Volume is Respectfully Dedicated,





EDITORS PREFACE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4


I--CHILDHOOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
II--REMOVED FROM MY FIRST HOME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
III--PARENTAGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
VII--LIFE IN THE GREAT HOUSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
VIII--A CHAPTER OF HORRORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
IX--PERSONAL TREATMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101
X--LIFE IN BALTIMORE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111
XI--"A CHANGE CAME O'ER THE SPIRIT OF MY DREAM". . . . . . . . . . .118
XII--RELIGIOUS NATURE AWAKENED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .127
XIII--THE VICISSITUDES OF SLAVE LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .135
XIV--EXPERIENCE IN ST. MICHAEL'S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .144
XV--COVEY, THE NEGRO BREAKER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .159
XVI--ANOTHER PRESSURE OF THE TYRANTS VICE. . . . . . . . . . . . . .172



XVII--THE LAST FLOCCING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180
XVIII--NEW RELATIONS AND DUTIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .194
XIX--THE RUN-AWAY PLOT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .209
XX--APPRENTICESHIP LIFE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .235
XXI--MY ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .248

XXII--LIBERTY ATTAINED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .261
XXIII--INTRODUCED TO THE ABOLITIONISTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .278
XXIV--TWENTY-ONE MONTHS IN GREAT BRITAIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . .284
XXV--VARIOUS INCIDENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .304

RECEPTION SPEECH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .318
LETTER TO HIS OLD MASTER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .330
THE NATURE OF SLAVERY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .337
INHUMANITY OF SLAVERY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .343
WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS THE FOURTH OF JULY? . . . . . . . . . . . . . .349
THE INTERNAL SLAVE TRADE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .354
THE SLAVERY PARTY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .358
THE ANTI-SLAVERY MOVEMENT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .363






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

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

Perhaps the best Preface to this volume is furnished in the
following letter of Mr. Douglass, written in answer to my urgent
solicitation for such a work:

ROCHESTER, N. Y. _July_ 2, 1855.

DEAR FRIEND: I have long entertained, as you very well know, a
somewhat positive repugnance to writing or speaking anything for
the public, which could, with any degree of plausibilty, make me
liable to the imputation of seeking personal notoriety, for its
own sake. Entertaining that feeling very sincerely, and
permitting its control, perhaps, quite unreasonably, I have often
<2>refused to narrate my personal experience in public anti-
slavery meetings, and in sympathizing circles, when urged to do
so by friends, with whose views and wishes, ordinarily, it were a
pleasure to comply. In my letters and speeches, I have generally
aimed to discuss the question of Slavery in the light of
fundamental principles, and upon facts, notorious and open to
all; making, I trust, no more of the fact of my own former
enslavement, than circumstances seemed absolutely to require. I
have never placed my opposition to slavery on a basis so narrow
as my own enslavement, but rather upon the indestructible and
unchangeable laws of human nature, every one of which is
perpetually and flagrantly violated by the slave system. I have
also felt that it was best for those having histories worth the
writing--or supposed to be so--to commit such work to hands other
than their own. To write of one's self, in such a manner as not
to incur the imputation of weakness, vanity, and egotism, is a
work within the ability of but few; and I have little reason to
believe that I belong to that fortunate few.

These considerations caused me to hesitate, when first you kindly
urged me to prepare for publication a full account of my life as
a slave, and my life as a freeman.

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

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


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





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

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

But this full recognition of the colored man to the right, and
the entire admission of the same to the full privileges,
political, religious and social, of manhood, requires powerful
effort on the part of the enthralled, as well as on the part of
those who would disenthrall them. The people at large must feel
the conviction, as well as admit the abstract logic, of human
equality; <5>the Negro, for the first time in the world's
history, brought in full contact with high civilization, must
prove his title first to all that is demanded for him; in the
teeth of unequal chances, he must prove himself equal to the mass
of those who oppress him--therefore, absolutely superior to his
apparent fate, and to their relative ability. And it is most
cheering to the friends of freedom, today, that evidence of this
equality is rapidly accumulating, not from the ranks of the half-
freed colored people of the free states, but from the very depths
of slavery itself; the indestructible equality of man to man is
demonstrated by the ease with which black men, scarce one remove
from barbarism--if slavery can be honored with such a
distinction--vault into the high places of the most advanced and
painfully acquired civilization. Ward and Garnett, Wells Brown
and Pennington, Loguen and Douglass, are banners on the outer
wall, under which abolition is fighting its most successful
battles, because they are living exemplars of the practicability
of the most radical abolitionism; for, they were all of them born
to the doom of slavery, some of them remained slaves until adult
age, yet they all have not only won equality to their white
fellow citizens, in civil, religious, political and social rank,
but they have also illustrated and adorned our common country by
their genius, learning and eloquence.

The characteristics whereby Mr. Douglass has won first rank among
these remarkable men, and is still rising toward highest rank
among living Americans, are abundantly laid bare in the book
before us. Like the autobiography of Hugh Miller, it carries us
so far back into early childhood, as to throw light upon the
question, "when positive and persistent memory begins in the
human being." And, like Hugh Miller, he must have been a shy
old-fashioned child, occasionally oppressed by what he could not
well account for, peering and poking about among the layers of
right and wrong, of tyrant and thrall, and the wonderfulness of
that hopeless tide of things which brought power to one race, and
unrequited toil to another, until, finally, he stumbled upon
<6>his "first-found Ammonite," hidden away down in the depths of
his own nature, and which revealed to him the fact that liberty
and right, for all men, were anterior to slavery and wrong. When
his knowledge of the world was bounded by the visible horizon on
Col. Lloyd's plantation, and while every thing around him bore a
fixed, iron stamp, as if it had always been so, this was, for one
so young, a notable discovery.

To his uncommon memory, then, we must add a keen and accurate
insight into men and things; an original breadth of common sense
which enabled him to see, and weigh, and compare whatever passed
before him, and which kindled a desire to search out and define
their relations to other things not so patent, but which never
succumbed to the marvelous nor the supernatural; a sacred thirst
for liberty and for learning, first as a means of attaining
liberty, then as an end in itself most desirable; a will; an
unfaltering energy and determination to obtain what his soul
pronounced desirable; a majestic self-hood; determined courage; a
deep and agonizing sympathy with his embruted, crushed and
bleeding fellow slaves, and an extraordinary depth of passion,
together with that rare alliance between passion and intellect,
which enables the former, when deeply roused, to excite, develop
and sustain the latter.

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

For his special mission, then, this was, considered in connection
with his natural gifts, a good schooling; and, for his special
mission, he doubtless "left school" just at the proper moment.
Had he remained longer in slavery--had he fretted under bonds
until the ripening of manhood and its passions, until the drear
agony of slave-wife and slave-children had been piled upon his
already bitter experiences--then, not only would his own history
have had another termination, but the drama of American slavery
would have been essentially varied; for I cannot resist the
belief, that the boy who learned to read and write as he did, who
taught his fellow slaves these precious acquirements as he did,
who plotted for their mutual escape as he did, would, when a man
at bay, strike a blow which would make slavery reel and stagger.
Furthermore, blows and insults he bore, at the moment, without
resentment; deep but suppressed emotion rendered him insensible
to their sting; but it was afterward, when the memory of them
went seething through his brain, breeding a fiery indignation at
his injured self-hood, that the resolve came to resist, and the
time fixed when to resist, and the plot laid, how to resist; and
he always kept his self-pledged word. In what he undertook, in
this line, he looked fate in the face, and had a cool, keen look
at the relation of means to ends. Henry Bibb, to avoid
chastisement, strewed his master's bed with charmed leaves and
_was whipped_. Frederick Douglass quietly pocketed a like
_fetiche_, compared his muscles with those of Covey--and _whipped

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

It must not be overlooked, in this glance at his education, that
<8>Mr. Douglass lacked one aid to which so many men of mark have
been deeply indebted--he had neither a mother's care, nor a
mother's culture, save that which slavery grudgingly meted out to
him. Bitter nurse! may not even her features relax with human
feeling, when she gazes at such offspring! How susceptible he
was to the kindly influences of mother-culture, may be gathered
from his own words, on page 57: "It has been a life-long
standing grief to me, that I know so little of my mother, and
that I was so early separated from her. The counsels of her love
must have been beneficial to me. The side view of her face is
imaged on my memory, and I take few steps in life, without
feeling her presence; but the image is mute, and I have no
striking words of hers treasured up."

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

"Aliens are we in our native land. The fundamental principles of
the republic, to which the humblest white man, whether born here
or elsewhere, may appeal with confidence, in the hope of
awakening a favorable response, are held to be inapplicable to
us. The glorious doctrines of your revolutionary fathers, and
the more glorious teachings of the Son of God, are construed and
applied against us. We are literally scourged beyond the
beneficent range of both authorities, human and divine. * * * *
American humanity hates us, scorns us, disowns and denies, in a
thousand ways, our very personality. The outspread wing of
American christianity, apparently broad enough to give shelter to
a perishing world, refuses to cover us. To us, its bones are
brass, and its features iron. In running thither for shelter and
<9>succor, we have only fled from the hungry blood-hound to the
devouring wolf--from a corrupt and selfish world, to a hollow and
hypocritical church."--_Speech before American and Foreign Anti-
Slavery Society, May_, 1854.

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

William Lloyd Garrison, who was happily present, writes thus of
Mr. Douglass' maiden effort; "I shall never forget his first
speech at the convention--the extraordinary emotion it excited in
my own mind--the powerful impression it created upon a crowded
auditory, completely taken by surprise. * * * I think I never
hated slavery so intensely as at that moment; certainly, my
perception of the enormous outrage which is inflicted by it on
the godlike nature of its victims, was rendered far more clear
than ever. There stood one in physical proportions and stature
commanding and exact--in intellect richly endowed--in natural
eloquence a prodigy."[1]

It is of interest to compare Mr. Douglass's account of this
meeting with Mr. Garrison's. Of the two, I think the latter the
most correct. It must have been a grand burst of eloquence! The
pent up agony, indignation and pathos of an abused and harrowed
boyhood and youth, bursting out in all their freshness and
overwhelming earnestness!

This unique introduction to its great leader, led immediately


[1] Letter, Introduction to _Life of Frederick Douglass_, Boston,


<10>to the employment of Mr. Douglass as an agent by the American
Anti-Slavery Society. So far as his self-relying and independent
character would permit, he became, after the strictest sect, a
Garrisonian. It is not too much to say, that he formed a
complement which they needed, and they were a complement equally
necessary to his "make-up." With his deep and keen sensitiveness
to wrong, and his wonderful memory, he came from the land of
bondage full of its woes and its evils, and painting them in
characters of living light; and, on his part, he found, told out
in sound Saxon phrase, all those principles of justice and right
and liberty, which had dimly brooded over the dreams of his
youth, seeking definite forms and verbal expression. It must
have been an electric flashing of thought, and a knitting of
soul, granted to but few in this life, and will be a life-long
memory to those who participated in it. In the society,
moreover, of Wendell Phillips, Edmund Quincy, William Lloyd
Garrison, and other men of earnest faith and refined culture, Mr.
Douglass enjoyed the high advantage of their assistance and
counsel in the labor of self-culture, to which he now addressed
himself with wonted energy. Yet, these gentlemen, although proud
of Frederick Douglass, failed to fathom, and bring out to the
light of day, the highest qualities of his mind; the force of
their own education stood in their own way: they did not delve
into the mind of a colored man for capacities which the pride of
race led them to believe to be restricted to their own Saxon
blood. Bitter and vindictive sarcasm, irresistible mimicry, and
a pathetic narrative of his own experiences of slavery, were the
intellectual manifestations which they encouraged him to exhibit
on the platform or in the lecture desk.

A visit to England, in 1845, threw Mr. Douglass among men and
women of earnest souls and high culture, and who, moreover, had
never drank of the bitter waters of American caste. For the
first time in his life, he breathed an atmosphere congenial to
the longings of his spirit, and felt his manhood free and
<11>unrestricted. The cordial and manly greetings of the British
and Irish audiences in public, and the refinement and elegance of
the social circles in which he mingled, not only as an equal, but
as a recognized man of genius, were, doubtless, genial and
pleasant resting places in his hitherto thorny and troubled
journey through life. There are joys on the earth, and, to the
wayfaring fugitive from American slavery or American caste, this
is one of them.

But his sojourn in England was more than a joy to Mr. Douglass.
Like the platform at Nantucket, it awakened him to the
consciousness of new powers that lay in him. From the pupilage
of Garrisonism he rose to the dignity of a teacher and a thinker;
his opinions on the broader aspects of the great American
question were earnestly and incessantly sought, from various
points of view, and he must, perforce, bestir himself to give
suitable answer. With that prompt and truthful perception which
has led their sisters in all ages of the world to gather at the
feet and support the hands of reformers, the gentlewomen of
England[2] were foremost to encourage and strengthen him to carve
out for himself a path fitted to his powers and energies, in the
life-battle against slavery and caste to which he was pledged.
And one stirring thought, inseparable from the British idea of
the evangel of freedom, must have smote his ear from every side--

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


The result of this visit was, that on his return to the United
States, he established a newspaper. This proceeding was sorely
against the wishes and the advice of the leaders of the American
Anti-Slavery Society, but our author had fully grown up to the
conviction of a truth which they had once promulged, but now



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

<12>forgotten, to wit: that in their own elevation--self-
elevation--colored men have a blow to strike "on their own hook,"
against slavery and caste. Differing from his Boston friends in
this matter, diffident in his own abilities, reluctant at their
dissuadings, how beautiful is the loyalty with which he still
clung to their principles in all things else, and even in this.

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

The arduous nature of his labors, from the date of the
establishment of his paper, may be estimated by the fact, that
anti-slavery papers in the United States, even while organs of,
and when supported by, anti-slavery parties, have, with a single
exception, failed to pay expenses. Mr. Douglass has maintained,
and does maintain, his paper without the support of any party,
and even in the teeth of the opposition of those from whom he had
reason to expect counsel and encouragement. He has been
compelled, at one and the same time, and almost constantly,
during the past seven years, to contribute matter to its columns
as editor, and to raise funds for its support as lecturer. It is
within bounds to say, that he has expended twelve thousand
dollars of his own hard earned money, in publishing this paper, a
larger sum than has been contributed by any one individual for
the general advancement of the colored people. There had been
many other papers published and edited by colored men, beginning
as far back as <13>1827, when the Rev. Samuel E. Cornish and John
B. Russworm (a graduate of Bowdoin college, and afterward
Governor of Cape Palmas) published the _Freedom's Journal_, in
New York City; probably not less than one hundred newspaper
enterprises have been started in the United States, by free
colored men, born free, and some of them of liberal education and
fair talents for this work; but, one after another, they have
fallen through, although, in several instances, anti-slavery
friends contributed to their support.[3] It had almost been
given up, as an impracticable thing, to maintain a colored
newspaper, when Mr. Douglass, with fewest early advantages of all
his competitors, essayed, and has proved the thing perfectly
practicable, and, moreover, of great public benefit. This paper,
in addition to its power in holding up the hands of those to whom
it is especially devoted, also affords irrefutable evidence of
the justice, safety and practicability of Immediate Emancipation;
it further proves the immense loss which slavery inflicts on the
land while it dooms such energies as his to the hereditary
degradation of slavery.

It has been said in this Introduction, that Mr. Douglass had
raised himself by his own efforts to the highest position in
society. As a successful editor, in our land, he occupies this
position. Our editors rule the land, and he is one of them. As
an orator and thinker, his position is equally high, in the
opinion of his countrymen. If a stranger in the United States
would seek its most distinguished men--the movers of public
opinion--he will find their names mentioned, and their movements
chronicled, under the head of "BY MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH, in the
daily papers. The keen caterers for the public attention, set
down, in this column, such men only as have won high mark in the
public esteem. During the past winter--1854-5--very frequent
mention of Frederick Douglass was made under this head in the
daily papers; his name glided as often--this week from Chicago,



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


<14>week from Boston--over the lightning wires, as the name of
any other man, of whatever note. To no man did the people more
widely nor more earnestly say, _"Tell me thy thought!"_ And,
somehow or other, revolution seemed to follow in his wake. His
were not the mere words of eloquence which Kossuth speaks of,
that delight the ear and then pass away. No! They were _work_-
able, _do_-able words, that brought forth fruits in the
revolution in Illinois, and in the passage of the franchise
resolutions by the Assembly of New York.

And the secret of his power, what is it? He is a Representative
American man--a type of his countrymen. Naturalists tell us that
a full grown man is a resultant or representative of all animated
nature on this globe; beginning with the early embryo state, then
representing the lowest forms of organic life,[4] and passing
through every subordinate grade or type, until he reaches the
last and highest--manhood. In like manner, and to the fullest
extent, has Frederick Douglass passed through every gradation of
rank comprised in our national make-up, and bears upon his person
and upon his soul every thing that is American. And he has not
only full sympathy with every thing American; his proclivity or
bent, to active toil and visible progress, are in the strictly
national direction, delighting to outstrip "all creation."

Nor have the natural gifts, already named as his, lost anything
by his severe training. When unexcited, his mental processes are
probably slow, but singularly clear in perception, and wide in
vision, the unfailing memory bringing up all the facts in their
every aspect; incongruities he lays hold of incontinently, and
holds up on the edge of his keen and telling wit. But this wit
never descends to frivolity; it is rigidly in the keeping of his
truthful common sense, and always used in illustration or proof
of some point which could not so readily be reached any other
way. "Beware of a Yankee when he is feeding," is a shaft that
strikes home



[4] The German physiologists have even discovered vegetable
matter--starch--in the human body. See _Med. Chirurgical Rev_.,
Oct., 1854, p. 339.


<15>in a matter never so laid bare by satire before. "The
Garrisonian views of disunion, if carried to a successful issue,
would only place the people of the north in the same relation to
American slavery which they now bear to the slavery of Cuba or
the Brazils," is a statement, in a few words, which contains the
result and the evidence of an argument which might cover pages,
but could not carry stronger conviction, nor be stated in less
pregnable form. In proof of this, I may say, that having been
submitted to the attention of the Garrisonians in print, in
March, it was repeated before them at their business meeting in
May--the platform, _par excellence_, on which they invite free
fight, _a l'outrance_, to all comers. It was given out in the
clear, ringing tones, wherewith the hall of shields was wont to
resound of old, yet neither Garrison, nor Phillips, nor May, nor
Remond, nor Foster, nor Burleigh, with his subtle steel of "the
ice brook's temper," ventured to break a lance upon it! The
doctrine of the dissolution of the Union, as a means for the
abolition of American slavery, was silenced upon the lips that
gave it birth, and in the presence of an array of defenders who
compose the keenest intellects in the land.

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

It has been said of Mr. Douglass, that his descriptive and
declamatory powers, admitted to be of the very highest order,
take precedence of his logical force. Whilst the schools might
have trained him to the exhibition of the formulas of deductive
<16>logic, nature and circumstances forced him into the exercise
of the higher faculties required by induction. The first ninety
pages of this "Life in Bondage," afford specimens of observing,
comparing, and careful classifying, of such superior character,
that it is difficult to believe them the results of a child's
thinking; he questions the earth, and the children and the slaves
around him again and again, and finally looks to _"God in the
sky"_ for the why and the wherefore of the unnatural thing,
slavery. _"Yes, if indeed thou art, wherefore dost thou suffer
us to be slain?"_ is the only prayer and worship of the God-
forsaken Dodos in the heart of Africa. Almost the same was his
prayer. One of his earliest observations was that white children
should know their ages, while the colored children were ignorant
of theirs; and the songs of the slaves grated on his inmost soul,
because a something told him that harmony in sound, and music of
the spirit, could not consociate with miserable degradation.

To such a mind, the ordinary processes of logical deduction are
like proving that two and two make four. Mastering the
intermediate steps by an intuitive glance, or recurring to them
as Ferguson resorted to geometry, it goes down to the deeper
relation of things, and brings out what may seem, to some, mere
statements, but which are new and brilliant generalizations, each
resting on a broad and stable basis. Thus, Chief Justice
Marshall gave his decisions, and then told Brother Story to look
up the authorities--and they never differed from him. Thus,
also, in his "Lecture on the Anti-Slavery Movement," delivered
before the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society, Mr. Douglass
presents a mass of thought, which, without any showy display of
logic on his part, requires an exercise of the reasoning
faculties of the reader to keep pace with him. And his "Claims
of the Negro Ethnologically Considered," is full of new and fresh
thoughts on the dawning science of race-history.

If, as has been stated, his intellection is slow, when unexcited,
it is most prompt and rapid when he is thoroughly aroused.
<17>Memory, logic, wit, sarcasm, invective pathos and bold
imagery of rare structural beauty, well up as from a copious
fountain, yet each in its proper place, and contributing to form
a whole, grand in itself, yet complete in the minutest
proportions. It is most difficult to hedge him in a corner, for
his positions are taken so deliberately, that it is rare to find
a point in them undefended aforethought. Professor Reason tells
me the following: "On a recent visit of a public nature, to
Philadelphia, and in a meeting composed mostly of his colored
brethren, Mr. Douglass proposed a comparison of views in the
matters of the relations and duties of `our people;' he holding
that prejudice was the result of condition, and could be
conquered by the efforts of the degraded themselves. A gentleman
present, distinguished for logical acumen and subtlety, and who
had devoted no small portion of the last twenty-five years to the
study and elucidation of this very question, held the opposite
view, that prejudice is innate and unconquerable. He terminated
a series of well dove-tailed, Socratic questions to Mr. Douglass,
with the following: `If the legislature at Harrisburgh should
awaken, to-morrow morning, and find each man's skin turned black
and his hair woolly, what could they do to remove prejudice?'
`Immediately pass laws entitling black men to all civil,
political and social privileges,' was the instant reply--and the
questioning ceased."

The most remarkable mental phenomenon in Mr. Douglass, is his
style in writing and speaking. In March, 1855, he delivered an
address in the assembly chamber before the members of the
legislature of the state of New York. An eye witness[5]
describes the crowded and most intelligent audience, and their
rapt attention to the speaker, as the grandest scene he ever
witnessed in the capitol. Among those whose eyes were riveted on
the speaker full two hours and a half, were Thurlow Weed and
Lieutenant Governor Raymond; the latter, at the conclusion of the
address, exclaimed to a friend, "I would give twenty thousand


[5] Mr. Wm. H. Topp, of Albany.


<18>if I could deliver that address in that manner." Mr. Raymond
is a first class graduate of Dartmouth, a rising politician,
ranking foremost in the legislature; of course, his ideal of
oratory must be of the most polished and finished description.

The style of Mr. Douglass in writing, is to me an intellectual
puzzle. The strength, affluence and terseness may easily be
accounted for, because the style of a man is the man; but how are
we to account for that rare polish in his style of writing,
which, most critically examined, seems the result of careful
early culture among the best classics of our language; it equals
if it does not surpass the style of Hugh Miller, which was the
wonder of the British literary public, until he unraveled the
mystery in the most interesting of autobiographies. But
Frederick Douglass was still calking the seams of Baltimore
clippers, and had only written a "pass," at the age when Miller's
style was already formed.

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

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

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

After describing her skill in constructing nets, her perseverance
in using them, and her wide-spread fame in the agricultural way
he adds, "It happened to her--as it will happen to any careful
<19>and thrifty person residing in an ignorant and improvident
neighborhood--to enjoy the reputation of being born to good
luck." And his grandmother was a black woman.

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

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

These facts show that for his energy, perseverance, eloquence,
invective, sagacity, and wide sympathy, he is indebted to his
Negro blood. The very marvel of his style would seem to be a
development of that other marvel--how his mother learned to read.
<20>The versatility of talent which he wields, in common with
Dumas, Ira Aldridge, and Miss Greenfield, would seem to be the
result of the grafting of the Anglo-Saxon on good, original,
Negro stock. If the friends of "Caucasus" choose to claim, for
that region, what remains after this analysis--to wit:
combination--they are welcome to it. They will forgive me for
reminding them that the term "Caucasian" is dropped by recent
writers on Ethnology; for the people about Mount Caucasus, are,
and have ever been, Mongols. The great "white race" now seek
paternity, according to Dr. Pickering, in Arabia--"Arida Nutrix"
of the best breed of horses &c. Keep on, gentlemen; you will
find yourselves in Africa, by-and-by. The Egyptians, like the
Americans, were a _mixed race_, with some Negro blood circling
around the throne, as well as in the mud hovels.

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

It is not without a feeling of pride, dear reader, that I present
you with this book. The son of a self-emancipated bond-woman, I
feel joy in introducing to you my brother, who has rent his own
bonds, and who, in his every relation--as a public man, as a
husband and as a father--is such as does honor to the land which
gave him birth. I shall place this book in the hands of the only
child spared me, bidding him to strive and emulate its noble
example. You may do likewise. It is an American book, for
Americans, in the fullest sense of the idea. It shows that the
worst of our institutions, in its worst aspect, cannot keep down
energy, truthfulness, and earnest struggle for the right. It
proves the <21>justice and practicability of Immediate
Emancipation. It shows that any man in our land, "no matter in
what battle his liberty may have been cloven down, * * * * no
matter what complexion an Indian or an African sun may have
burned upon him," not only may "stand forth redeemed and
disenthralled," but may also stand up a candidate for the highest
suffrage of a great people--the tribute of their honest, hearty
admiration. Reader, _Vale!






In Talbot county, Eastern Shore, Maryland, near Easton, the
county town of that county, there is a small district of country,
thinly populated, and remarkable for nothing that I know of more
than for the worn-out, sandy, desert-like appearance of its soil,
the general dilapidation of its farms and fences, the indigent
and spiritless character of its inhabitants, and the prevalence
of ague and fever.

The name of this singularly unpromising and truly famine stricken
district is Tuckahoe, a name well known to all Marylanders, black
and white. It was given to this section of country probably, at
the first, merely in derision; or it may possibly have been
applied to it, as I have heard, because some one of its earlier
inhabitants had been guilty of the petty meanness of stealing a
hoe--or taking a hoe that did not belong to him. Eastern Shore
men usually pronounce the word _took_, as _tuck; Took-a-hoe_,
therefore, is, in Maryland parlance, _Tuckahoe_. But, whatever
may have been its origin--and about this I will not be
<26>positive--that name has stuck to the district in question;
and it is seldom mentioned but with contempt and derision, on
account of the barrenness of its soil, and the ignorance,
indolence, and poverty of its people. Decay and ruin are
everywhere visible, and the thin population of the place would
have quitted it long ago, but for the Choptank river, which runs
through it, from which they take abundance of shad and herring,
and plenty of ague and fever.

It was in this dull, flat, and unthrifty district, or
neighborhood, surrounded by a white population of the lowest
order, indolent and drunken to a proverb, and among slaves, who
seemed to ask, _"Oh! what's the use?"_ every time they lifted a
hoe, that I--without any fault of mine was born, and spent the
first years of my childhood.

The reader will pardon so much about the place of my birth, on
the score that it is always a fact of some importance to know
where a man is born, if, indeed, it be important to know anything
about him. In regard to the _time_ of my birth, I cannot be as
definite as I have been respecting the _place_. Nor, indeed, can
I impart much knowledge concerning my parents. Genealogical
trees do not flourish among slaves. A person of some consequence
here in the north, sometimes designated _father_, is literally
abolished in slave law and slave practice. It is only once in a
while that an exception is found to this statement. I never met
with a slave who could tell me how old he was. Few slave-mothers
know anything of the months of the year, nor of the days of the
month. They keep no family records, with marriages, births, and
deaths. They measure the ages of their children by spring time,
winter time, harvest time, planting time, and the like; but these
soon become undistinguishable and forgotten. Like other slaves,
I cannot tell how old I am. This destitution was among my
earliest troubles. I learned when I grew up, that my master--and
this is the case with masters generally--allowed no questions to
be put to him, by which a slave might learn his <27
GRANDPARENTS>age. Such questions deemed evidence of impatience,
and even of impudent curiosity. From certain events, however,
the dates of which I have since learned, I suppose myself to have
been born about the year 1817.

The first experience of life with me that I now remember--and I
remember it but hazily--began in the family of my grandmother and
grandfather. Betsey and Isaac Baily. They were quite advanced
in life, and had long lived on the spot where they then resided.
They were considered old settlers in the neighborhood, and, from
certain circumstances, I infer that my grandmother, especially,
was held in high esteem, far higher than is the lot of most
colored persons in the slave states. She was a good nurse, and a
capital hand at making nets for catching shad and herring; and
these nets were in great demand, not only in Tuckahoe, but at
Denton and Hillsboro, neighboring villages. She was not only
good at making the nets, but was also somewhat famous for her
good fortune in taking the fishes referred to. I have known her
to be in the water half the day. Grandmother was likewise more
provident than most of her neighbors in the preservation of
seedling sweet potatoes, and it happened to her--as it will
happen to any careful and thrifty person residing in an ignorant
and improvident community--to enjoy the reputation of having been
born to "good luck." Her "good luck" was owing to the exceeding
care which she took in preventing the succulent root from getting
bruised in the digging, and in placing it beyond the reach of
frost, by actually burying it under the hearth of her cabin
during the winter months. In the time of planting sweet
potatoes, "Grandmother Betty," as she was familiarly called, was
sent for in all directions, simply to place the seedling potatoes
in the hills; for superstition had it, that if "Grandmamma Betty
but touches them at planting, they will be sure to grow and
flourish." This high reputation was full of advantage to her,
and to the children around her. Though Tuckahoe had but few of
the good things of <28>life, yet of such as it did possess
grandmother got a full share, in the way of presents. If good
potato crops came after her planting, she was not forgotten by
those for whom she planted; and as she was remembered by others,
so she remembered the hungry little ones around her.

The dwelling of my grandmother and grandfather had few
pretensions. It was a log hut, or cabin, built of clay, wood,
and straw. At a distance it resembled--though it was smaller,
less commodious and less substantial--the cabins erected in the
western states by the first settlers. To my child's eye,
however, it was a noble structure, admirably adapted to promote
the comforts and conveniences of its inmates. A few rough,
Virginia fence-rails, flung loosely over the rafters above,
answered the triple purpose of floors, ceilings, and bedsteads.
To be sure, this upper apartment was reached only by a ladder--
but what in the world for climbing could be better than a ladder?
To me, this ladder was really a high invention, and possessed a
sort of charm as I played with delight upon the rounds of it. In
this little hut there was a large family of children: I dare not
say how many. My grandmother--whether because too old for field
service, or because she had so faithfully discharged the duties
of her station in early life, I know not--enjoyed the high
privilege of living in a cabin, separate from the quarter, with
no other burden than her own support, and the necessary care of
the little children, imposed. She evidently esteemed it a great
fortune to live so. The children were not her own, but her
grandchildren--the children of her daughters. She took delight
in having them around her, and in attending to their few wants.
The practice of separating children from their mother, and hiring
the latter out at distances too great to admit of their meeting,
except at long intervals, is a marked feature of the cruelty and
barbarity of the slave system. But it is in harmony with the
grand aim of slavery, which, always and everywhere, is to reduce
man to a level with the brute. It is a successful method of
obliterating <29 "OLD MASTER">from the mind and heart of the
slave, all just ideas of the sacredness of _the family_, as an

Most of the children, however, in this instance, being the
children of my grandmother's daughters, the notions of family,
and the reciprocal duties and benefits of the relation, had a
better chance of being understood than where children are
placed--as they often are in the hands of strangers, who have no
care for them, apart from the wishes of their masters. The
daughters of my grandmother were five in number. Their names
last named was my mother, of whom the reader shall learn more by-

Living here, with my dear old grandmother and grandfather, it was
a long time before I knew myself to be _a slave_. I knew many
other things before I knew that. Grandmother and grandfather
were the greatest people in the world to me; and being with them
so snugly in their own little cabin--I supposed it be their own--
knowing no higher authority over me or the other children than
the authority of grandmamma, for a time there was nothing to
disturb me; but, as I grew larger and older, I learned by degrees
the sad fact, that the "little hut," and the lot on which it
stood, belonged not to my dear old grandparents, but to some
person who lived a great distance off, and who was called, by
grandmother, "OLD MASTER." I further learned the sadder fact,
that not only the house and lot, but that grandmother herself,
(grandfather was free,) and all the little children around her,
belonged to this mysterious personage, called by grandmother,
with every mark of reverence, "Old Master." Thus early did
clouds and shadows begin to fall upon my path. Once on the
track--troubles never come singly--I was not long in finding out
another fact, still more grievous to my childish heart. I was
told that this "old master," whose name seemed ever to be
mentioned with fear and shuddering, only allowed the children to
live with grandmother for a limited time, and that in fact as
soon <30>as they were big enough, they were promptly taken away,
to live with the said "old master." These were distressing
revelations indeed; and though I was quite too young to
comprehend the full import of the intelligence, and mostly spent
my childhood days in gleesome sports with the other children, a
shade of disquiet rested upon me.

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

Children have their sorrows as well as men and women; and it
would be well to remember this in our dealings with them. SLAVE-
children _are_ children, and prove no exceptions to the general
rule. The liability to be separated from my grandmother, seldom
or never to see her again, haunted me. I dreaded the thought of
going to live with that mysterious "old master," whose name I
never heard mentioned with affection, but always with fear. I
look back to this as among the heaviest of my childhood's
sorrows. My grandmother! my grandmother! and the little hut, and
the joyous circle under her care, but especially _she_, who made
us sorry when she left us but for an hour, and glad on her
return,--how could I leave her and the good old home?

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

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


There is, after all, but little difference in the measure of
contentment felt by the slave-child neglected and the
slaveholder's <31 COMPARATIVE HAPPINESS>child cared for and
petted. The spirit of the All Just mercifully holds the balance
for the young.

The slaveholder, having nothing to fear from impotent childhood,
easily affords to refrain from cruel inflictions; and if cold and
hunger do not pierce the tender frame, the first seven or eight
years of the slave-boy's life are about as full of sweet content
as those of the most favored and petted _white_ children of the
slaveholder. The slave-boy escapes many troubles which befall
and vex his white brother. He seldom has to listen to lectures
on propriety of behavior, or on anything else. He is never
chided for handling his little knife and fork improperly or
awkwardly, for he uses none. He is never reprimanded for soiling
the table-cloth, for he takes his meals on the clay floor. He
never has the misfortune, in his games or sports, of soiling or
tearing his clothes, for he has almost none to soil or tear. He
is never expected to act like a nice little gentleman, for he is
only a rude little slave. Thus, freed from all restraint, the
slave-boy can be, in his life and conduct, a genuine boy, doing
whatever his boyish nature suggests; enacting, by turns, all the
strange antics and freaks of horses, dogs, pigs, and barn-door
fowls, without in any manner compromising his dignity, or
incurring reproach of any sort. He literally runs wild; has no
pretty little verses to learn in the nursery; no nice little
speeches to make for aunts, uncles, or cousins, to show how smart
he is; and, if he can only manage to keep out of the way of the
heavy feet and fists of the older slave boys, he may trot on, in
his joyous and roguish tricks, as happy as any little heathen
under the palm trees of Africa. To be sure, he is occasionally
reminded, when he stumbles in the path of his master--and this he
early learns to avoid--that he is eating his _"white bread,"_ and
that he will be made to _"see sights"_ by-and-by. The threat is
soon forgotten; the shadow soon passes, and our sable boy
continues to roll in the dust, or play in the mud, as bests suits
him, and in the veriest freedom. If he feels uncomfortable, from
mud or from dust, the coast is clear; he can plunge into <32>the
river or the pond, without the ceremony of undressing, or the
fear of wetting his clothes; his little tow-linen shirt--for that
is all he has on--is easily dried; and it needed ablution as much
as did his skin. His food is of the coarsest kind, consisting
for the most part of cornmeal mush, which often finds it way from
the wooden tray to his mouth in an oyster shell. His days, when
the weather is warm, are spent in the pure, open air, and in the
bright sunshine. He always sleeps in airy apartments; he seldom
has to take powders, or to be paid to swallow pretty little
sugar-coated pills, to cleanse his blood, or to quicken his
appetite. He eats no candies; gets no lumps of loaf sugar;
always relishes his food; cries but little, for nobody cares for
his crying; learns to esteem his bruises but slight, because
others so esteem them. In a word, he is, for the most part of
the first eight years of his life, a spirited, joyous,
uproarious, and happy boy, upon whom troubles fall only like
water on a duck's back. And such a boy, so far as I can now
remember, was the boy whose life in slavery I am now narrating.



_Removed from My First Home_



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

About this plantation, and about that queer old master--who must
be something more than a man, and something worse than an angel--
the reader will easily imagine that I was not only curious, but
eager, to know all that could be known. Unhappily for me,
however, all the information I could get concerning him increased
my great dread of being carried thither--of being <34>separated
from and deprived of the protection of my grandmother and
grandfather. It was, evidently, a great thing to go to Col.
Lloyd's; and I was not without a little curiosity to see the
place; but no amount of coaxing could induce in me the wish to
remain there. The fact is, such was my dread of leaving the
little cabin, that I wished to remain little forever, for I knew
the taller I grew the shorter my stay. The old cabin, with its
rail floor and rail bedsteads upstairs, and its clay floor
downstairs, and its dirt chimney, and windowless sides, and that
most curious piece of workmanship dug in front of the fireplace,
beneath which grandmammy placed the sweet potatoes to keep them
from the frost, was MY HOME--the only home I ever had; and I
loved it, and all connected with it. The old fences around it,
and the stumps in the edge of the woods near it, and the
squirrels that ran, skipped, and played upon them, were objects
of interest and affection. There, too, right at the side of the
hut, stood the old well, with its stately and skyward-pointing
beam, so aptly placed between the limbs of what had once been a
tree, and so nicely balanced that I could move it up and down
with only one hand, and could get a drink myself without calling
for help. Where else in the world could such a well be found,
and where could such another home be met with? Nor were these
all the attractions of the place. Down in a little valley, not
far from grandmammy's cabin, stood Mr. Lee's mill, where the
people came often in large numbers to get their corn ground. It
was a watermill; and I never shall be able to tell the many
things thought and felt, while I sat on the bank and watched that
mill, and the turning of that ponderous wheel. The mill-pond,
too, had its charms; and with my pinhook, and thread line, I
could get _nibbles_, if I could catch no fish. But, in all my
sports and plays, and in spite of them, there would,
occasionally, come the painful foreboding that I was not long to
remain there, and that I must soon be called away to the home of
old master.

I was A SLAVE--born a slave and though the fact was in <35
DEPARTURE FROM TUCKAHOE>comprehensible to me, it conveyed to my
mind a sense of my entire dependence on the will of _somebody_ I
had never seen; and, from some cause or other, I had been made to
fear this somebody above all else on earth. Born for another's
benefit, as the _firstling_ of the cabin flock I was soon to be
selected as a meet offering to the fearful and inexorable
_demigod_, whose huge image on so many occasions haunted my
childhood's imagination. When the time of my departure was
decided upon, my grandmother, knowing my fears, and in pity for
them, kindly kept me ignorant of the dreaded event about to
transpire. Up to the morning (a beautiful summer morning) when
we were to start, and, indeed, during the whole journey--a
journey which, child as I was, I remember as well as if it were
yesterday--she kept the sad fact hidden from me. This reserve
was necessary; for, could I have known all, I should have given
grandmother some trouble in getting me started. As it was, I was
helpless, and she--dear woman!--led me along by the hand,
resisting, with the reserve and solemnity of a priestess, all my
inquiring looks to the last.

The distance from Tuckahoe to Wye river--where my old master
lived--was full twelve miles, and the walk was quite a severe
test of the endurance of my young legs. The journey would have
proved too severe for me, but that my dear old grandmother--
blessings on her memory!--afforded occasional relief by "toting"
me (as Marylanders have it) on her shoulder. My grandmother,
though advanced in years--as was evident from more than one gray
hair, which peeped from between the ample and graceful folds of
her newly-ironed bandana turban--was yet a woman of power and
spirit. She was marvelously straight in figure, elastic, and
muscular. I seemed hardly to be a burden to her. She would have
"toted" me farther, but that I felt myself too much of a man to
allow it, and insisted on walking. Releasing dear grandmamma
from carrying me, did not make me altogether independent of her,
when we happened to pass through portions of the somber woods
which lay between Tuckahoe and <36>Wye river. She often found me
increasing the energy of my grip, and holding her clothing, lest
something should come out of the woods and eat me up. Several
old logs and stumps imposed upon me, and got themselves taken for
wild beasts. I could see their legs, eyes, and ears, or I could
see something like eyes, legs, and ears, till I got close enough
to them to see that the eyes were knots, washed white with rain,
and the legs were broken limbs, and the ears, only ears owing to
the point from which they were seen. Thus early I learned that
the point from which a thing is viewed is of some importance.

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

All suspense, however, must have an end; and the end of mine, in
this instance, was at hand. Affectionately patting me on the
head, and exhorting me to be a good boy, grandmamma told me to go
and play with the little children. "They are kin to you," said
she; "go and play with them." Among a number of cousins were
Phil, Tom, Steve, and Jerry, Nance and Betty.

Grandmother pointed out my brother PERRY, my sister SARAH, and my
sister ELIZA, who stood in the group. I had never seen <37
BROTHERS AND SISTERS>my brother nor my sisters before; and,
though I had sometimes heard of them, and felt a curious interest
in them, I really did not understand what they were to me, or I
to them. We were brothers and sisters, but what of that? Why
should they be attached to me, or I to them? Brothers and
sisters we were by blood; but _slavery_ had made us strangers. I
heard the words brother and sisters, and knew they must mean
something; but slavery had robbed these terms of their true
meaning. The experience through which I was passing, they had
passed through before. They had already been initiated into the
mysteries of old master's domicile, and they seemed to look upon
me with a certain degree of compassion; but my heart clave to my
grandmother. Think it not strange, dear reader, that so little
sympathy of feeling existed between us. The conditions of
brotherly and sisterly feeling were wanting--we had never nestled
and played together. My poor mother, like many other slave-
women, had many _children_, but NO FAMILY! The domestic hearth,
with its holy lessons and precious endearments, is abolished in
the case of a slave-mother and her children. "Little children,
love one another," are words seldom heard in a slave cabin.

I really wanted to play with my brother and sisters, but they
were strangers to me, and I was full of fear that grandmother
might leave without taking me with her. Entreated to do so,
however, and that, too, by my dear grandmother, I went to the
back part of the house, to play with them and the other children.
_Play_, however, I did not, but stood with my back against the
wall, witnessing the playing of the others. At last, while
standing there, one of the children, who had been in the kitchen,
ran up to me, in a sort of roguish glee, exclaiming, "Fed, Fed!
grandmammy gone! grandmammy gone!" I could not believe it; yet,
fearing the worst, I ran into the kitchen, to see for myself, and
found it even so. Grandmammy had indeed gone, and was now far
away, "clean" out of sight. I need not tell all that happened
now. Almost heart-broken at the discovery, I fell upon the
ground, and <38>wept a boy's bitter tears, refusing to be
comforted. My brother and sisters came around me, and said,
"Don't cry," and gave me peaches and pears, but I flung them
away, and refused all their kindly advances. I had never been
deceived before; and I felt not only grieved at parting--as I
supposed forever--with my grandmother, but indignant that a trick
had been played upon me in a matter so serious.

It was now late in the afternoon. The day had been an exciting
and wearisome one, and I knew not how or where, but I suppose I
sobbed myself to sleep. There is a healing in the angel wing of
sleep, even for the slave-boy; and its balm was never more
welcome to any wounded soul than it was to mine, the first night
I spent at the domicile of old master. The reader may be
surprised that I narrate so minutely an incident apparently so
trivial, and which must have occurred when I was not more than
seven years old; but as I wish to give a faithful history of my
experience in slavery, I cannot withhold a circumstance which, at
the time, affected me so deeply. Besides, this was, in fact, my
first introduction to the realities of slavery.





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

I say nothing of _father_, for he is shrouded in a mystery I have
never been able to penetrate. Slavery does away with fathers, as
it does away with families. Slavery has no use for either
fathers or families, and its laws do not recognize their
existence in the social arrangements of the plantation. When
they _do_ exist, they are not the outgrowths of slavery, but are
antagonistic to that system. The order of civilization is
reversed here. The name of the child is not expected to be that
of its father, and his condition does not necessarily affect that
of the child. He may be the slave of Mr. Tilgman; and his child,
when born, may be the slave of Mr. Gross. He may be a _freeman;_
and yet his child may be a _chattel_. He may be white, glorying
in the purity of his Anglo-<40>Saxon blood; and his child may be
ranked with the blackest slaves. Indeed, he _may_ be, and often
_is_, master and father to the same child. He can be father
without being a husband, and may sell his child without incurring
reproach, if the child be by a woman in whose veins courses one
thirty-second part of African blood. My father was a white man,
or nearly white. It was sometimes whispered that my master was
my father.

But to return, or rather, to begin. My knowledge of my mother is
very scanty, but very distinct. Her personal appearance and
bearing are ineffaceably stamped upon my memory. She was tall,
and finely proportioned; of deep black, glossy complexion; had
regular features, and, among the other slaves, was remarkably
sedate in her manners. There is in _Prichard's Natural History
of Man_, the head of a figure--on page 157--the features of which
so resemble those of my mother, that I often recur to it with
something of the feeling which I suppose others experience when
looking upon the pictures of dear departed ones.

Yet I cannot say that I was very deeply attached to my mother;
certainly not so deeply as I should have been had our relations
in childhood been different. We were separated, according to the
common custom, when I was but an infant, and, of course, before I
knew my mother from any one else.

The germs of affection with which the Almighty, in his wisdom and
mercy, arms the hopeless infant against the ills and vicissitudes
of his lot, had been directed in their growth toward that loving
old grandmother, whose gentle hand and kind deportment it was in
the first effort of my infantile understanding to comprehend and
appreciate. Accordingly, the tenderest affection which a
beneficent Father allows, as a partial compensation to the mother
for the pains and lacerations of her heart, incident to the
maternal relation, was, in my case, diverted from its true and
natural object, by the envious, greedy, and treacherous hand of
slavery. The slave-mother can be spared long enough from <41 MY
MOTHER>the field to endure all the bitterness of a mother's
anguish, when it adds another name to a master's ledger, but
_not_ long enough to receive the joyous reward afforded by the
intelligent smiles of her child. I never think of this terrible
interference of slavery with my infantile affections, and its
diverting them from their natural course, without feelings to
which I can give no adequate expression.

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

My mother was hired out to a Mr. Stewart, who lived about twelve
miles from old master's, and, being a field hand, she seldom had
leisure, by day, for the performance of the journey. The nights
and the distance were both obstacles to her visits. She was
obliged to walk, unless chance flung into her way an opportunity
to ride; and the latter was sometimes her good luck. But she
always had to walk one way or the other. It was a greater luxury
than slavery could afford, to allow a black slave-mother a horse
or a mule, upon which to travel twenty-four miles, when she could
walk the distance. Besides, it is deemed a foolish whim for a
slave-mother to manifest concern to see her children, and, in one
point of view, the case is made out--she can do nothing for them.
She has no control over them; the master is even more than the
mother, in all matters touching the fate of her child. Why,
then, should she give herself any concern? She has no
responsibility. Such is the reasoning, and such the practice.
The iron rule of the plantation, always passionately and
violently enforced in that neighborhood, makes flogging the
penalty of <42>failing to be in the field before sunrise in the
morning, unless special permission be given to the absenting
slave. "I went to see my child," is no excuse to the ear or
heart of the overseer.

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

"I had on that day offended "Aunt Katy," (called "Aunt" by way of
respect,) the cook of old master's establishment. I do not now
remember the nature of my offense in this instance, for my
offenses were numerous in that quarter, greatly depending,
however, upon the mood of Aunt Katy, as to their heinousness; but
she had adopted, that day, her favorite mode of punishing me,
namely, making me go without food all day--that is, from after
breakfast. The first hour or two after dinner, I succeeded
pretty well in keeping up my spirits; but though I made an
excellent stand against the foe, and fought bravely during the
afternoon, I knew I must be conquered at last, unless I got the
accustomed reenforcement of a slice of corn bread, at sundown.
Sundown came, but _no bread_, and, in its stead, their came the
threat, with a scowl well suited to its terrible import, that she
"meant to _starve the life out of me!"_ Brandishing her knife,
she chopped off the heavy slices for the other children, and put
the loaf away, muttering, all the while, her savage designs upon
myself. Against this disappointment, for I was expecting that
her heart would relent at last, I made an extra effort to
maintain my dignity; but when I saw all the other children around
me with merry and satisfied faces, I could stand it no longer. I
went out behind the house, and cried like a fine fellow! When
tired of this, I returned to the kitchen, sat by the fire, and
brooded over my hard lot. I was too hungry to sleep. While I
sat in the corner, I caught sight of an ear of Indian corn on an
upper shelf of the kitchen. I watched my chance, and got it,
and, shelling off a few grains, I put it back again. The grains
in my hand, I quickly put in some ashes, and covered them with
embers, to roast them. All this I <43 "AUNT KATY">did at the
risk of getting a brutual thumping, for Aunt Katy could beat, as
well as starve me. My corn was not long in roasting, and, with
my keen appetite, it did not matter even if the grains were not
exactly done. I eagerly pulled them out, and placed them on my
stool, in a clever little pile. Just as I began to help myself
to my very dry meal, in came my dear mother. And now, dear
reader, a scene occurred which was altogether worth beholding,
and to me it was instructive as well as interesting. The
friendless and hungry boy, in his extremest need--and when he did
not dare to look for succor--found himself in the strong,
protecting arms of a mother; a mother who was, at the moment
(being endowed with high powers of manner as well as matter) more
than a match for all his enemies. I shall never forget the
indescribable expression of her countenance, when I told her that
I had had no food since morning; and that Aunt Katy said she
"meant to starve the life out of me." There was pity in her
glance at me, and a fiery indignation at Aunt Katy at the same
time; and, while she took the corn from me, and gave me a large
ginger cake, in its stead, she read Aunt Katy a lecture which she
never forgot. My mother threatened her with complaining to old
master in my behalf; for the latter, though harsh and cruel
himself, at times, did not sanction the meanness, injustice,
partiality and oppressions enacted by Aunt Katy in the kitchen.
That night I learned the fact, that I was, not only a child, but
_somebody's_ child. The "sweet cake" my mother gave me was in
the shape of a heart, with a rich, dark ring glazed upon the edge
of it. I was victorious, and well off for the moment; prouder,
on my mother's knee, than a king upon his throne. But my triumph
was short. I dropped off to sleep, and waked in the morning only
to find my mother gone, and myself left at the mercy of the sable
virago, dominant in my old master's kitchen, whose fiery wrath
was my constant dread.

I do not remember to have seen my mother after this occurrence.
Death soon ended the little communication that had <44>existed
between us; and with it, I believe, a life judging from her
weary, sad, down-cast countenance and mute demeanor--full of
heartfelt sorrow. I was not allowed to visit her during any part
of her long illness; nor did I see her for a long time before she
was taken ill and died. The heartless and ghastly form of
_slavery_ rises between mother and child, even at the bed of
death. The mother, at the verge of the grave, may not gather her
children, to impart to them her holy admonitions, and invoke for
them her dying benediction. The bond-woman lives as a slave, and
is left to die as a beast; often with fewer attentions than are
paid to a favorite horse. Scenes of sacred tenderness, around
the death-bed, never forgotten, and which often arrest the
vicious and confirm the virtuous during life, must be looked for
among the free, though they sometimes occur among the slaves. It
has been a life-long, standing grief to me, that I knew so little
of my mother; and that I was so early separated from her. The
counsels of her love must have been beneficial to me. The side
view of her face is imaged on my memory, and I take few steps in
life, without feeling her presence; but the image is mute, and I
have no striking words of her's treasured up.

I learned, after my mother's death, that she could read, and that
she was the _only_ one of all the slaves and colored people in
Tuckahoe who enjoyed that advantage. How she acquired this
knowledge, I know not, for Tuckahoe is the last place in the
world where she would be apt to find facilities for learning. I
can, therefore, fondly and proudly ascribe to her an earnest love
of knowledge. That a "field hand" should learn to read, in any
slave state, is remarkable; but the achievement of my mother,
considering the place, was very extraordinary; and, in view of
that fact, I am quite willing, and even happy, to attribute any
love of letters I possess, and for which I have got--despite of
prejudices only too much credit, _not_ to my admitted Anglo-Saxon
paternity, but to the native genius of my sable, unprotected, and
uncultivated _mother_--a woman, who belonged to a race <45
PENALTY FOR HAVING A WHITE FATHER>whose mental endowments it is,
at present, fashionable to hold in disparagement and contempt.

Summoned away to her account, with the impassable gulf of slavery
between us during her entire illness, my mother died without
leaving me a single intimation of _who_ my father was. There was
a whisper, that my master was my father; yet it was only a
whisper, and I cannot say that I ever gave it credence. Indeed,
I now have reason to think he was not; nevertheless, the fact
remains, in all its glaring odiousness, that, by the laws of
slavery, children, in all cases, are reduced to the condition of
their mothers. This arrangement admits of the greatest license
to brutal slaveholders, and their profligate sons, brothers,
relations and friends, and gives to the pleasure of sin, the
additional attraction of profit. A whole volume might be written
on this single feature of slavery, as I have observed it.

One might imagine, that the children of such connections, would
fare better, in the hands of their masters, than other slaves.
The rule is quite the other way; and a very little reflection
will satisfy the reader that such is the case. A man who will
enslave his own blood, may not be safely relied on for
magnanimity. Men do not love those who remind them of their sins
unless they have a mind to repent--and the mulatto child's face
is a standing accusation against him who is master and father to
the child. What is still worse, perhaps, such a child is a
constant offense to the wife. She hates its very presence, and
when a slaveholding woman hates, she wants not means to give that
hate telling effect. Women--white women, I mean--are IDOLS at
the south, not WIVES, for the slave women are preferred in many
instances; and if these _idols_ but nod, or lift a finger, woe to
the poor victim: kicks, cuffs and stripes are sure to follow.
Masters are frequently compelled to sell this class of their
slaves, out of deference to the feelings of their white wives;
and shocking and scandalous as it may seem for a man to sell his
own blood to the traffickers in human flesh, it is often an act
of humanity <46>toward the slave-child to be thus removed from
his merciless tormentors.

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

But, I may remark, that, if the lineal descendants of Ham are
only to be enslaved, according to the scriptures, slavery in this
country will soon become an unscriptural institution; for
thousands are ushered into the world, annually, who--like
myself--owe their existence to white fathers, and, most
frequently, to their masters, and master's sons. The slave-woman
is at the mercy of the fathers, sons or brothers of her master.
The thoughtful know the rest.

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

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

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



_A General Survey of the Slave Plantation_



It is generally supposed that slavery, in the state of Maryland,
exists in its mildest form, and that it is totally divested of
those harsh and terrible peculiarities, which mark and
characterize the slave system, in the southern and south-western
states of the American union. The argument in favor of this
opinion, is the contiguity of the free states, and the exposed
condition of slavery in Maryland to the moral, religious and
humane sentiment of the free states.

I am not about to refute this argument, so far as it relates to
slavery in that state, generally; on the contrary, I am willing
to admit that, to this general point, the arguments is well
grounded. Public opinion is, indeed, an unfailing restraint upon
the cruelty and barbarity of masters, overseers, and slave-
drivers, whenever and wherever it can reach them; but there are
certain secluded and out-of-the-way places, even in the state of
Maryland, seldom visited by a single ray of healthy public
sentiment--<48>where slavery, wrapt in its own congenial,
midnight darkness, _can_, and _does_, develop all its malign and
shocking characteristics; where it can be indecent without shame,
cruel without shuddering, and murderous without apprehension or
fear of exposure.

Just such a secluded, dark, and out-of-the-way place, is the
"home plantation" of Col. Edward Lloyd, on the Eastern Shore,
Maryland. It is far away from all the great thoroughfares, and
is proximate to no town or village. There is neither school-
house, nor town-house in its neighborhood. The school-house is
unnecessary, for there are no children to go to school. The
children and grand-children of Col. Lloyd were taught in the
house, by a private tutor--a Mr. Page a tall, gaunt sapling of a
man, who did not speak a dozen words to a slave in a whole year.
The overseers' children go off somewhere to school; and they,
therefore, bring no foreign or dangerous influence from abroad,
to embarrass the natural operation of the slave system of the
place. Not even the mechanics--through whom there is an
occasional out-burst of honest and telling indignation, at
cruelty and wrong on other plantations--are white men, on this
plantation. Its whole public is made up of, and divided into,
blacksmiths, wheelwrights, shoemakers, weavers, and coopers, are
slaves. Not even commerce, selfish and iron-hearted at it is,
and ready, as it ever is, to side with the strong against the
weak--the rich against the poor--is trusted or permitted within
its secluded precincts. Whether with a view of guarding against
the escape of its secrets, I know not, but it is a fact, the
every leaf and grain of the produce of this plantation, and those
of the neighboring farms belonging to Col. Lloyd, are transported
to Baltimore in Col. Lloyd's own vessels; every man and boy on
board of which--except the captain--are owned by him. In return,
everything brought to the plantation, comes through the same
channel. Thus, even the glimmering and unsteady light of trade,
which sometimes exerts a civilizing influence, is excluded from
this "tabooed" spot.

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

Public opinion in such a quarter, the reader will see, is not
likely to very efficient in protecting the slave from cruelty.
On the contrary, it must increase and intensify his wrongs.
Public opinion seldom differs very widely from public practice.
To be a restraint upon cruelty and vice, public opinion must
emanate from a humane and virtuous community. To no such humane
and virtuous community, is Col. Lloyd's plantation exposed. That
plantation is a little nation of its own, having its own
language, its own rules, regulations and customs. The laws and
institutions of the state, apparently touch it nowhere. The
troubles arising here, are not settled by the civil power of the
state. The overseer is generally accuser, judge, jury, advocate
and executioner. The criminal is always dumb. The overseer
attends to all sides of a case.

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

In its isolation, seclusion, and self-reliant independence, Col.
Lloyd's plantation resembles what the baronial domains were
during the middle ages in Europe. Grim, cold, and unapproachable
by all genial influences from communities without, _there it
stands;_ full three hundred years behind the age, in all that
relates to humanity and morals.

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

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


In the river, a short distance from the shore, lying quietly at
anchor, with her small boat dancing at her stern, was a large
sloop--the Sally Lloyd; called by that name in honor of a
favorite daughter of the colonel. The sloop and the mill were
wondrous things, full of thoughts and ideas. A child cannot well
look at such objects without _thinking_.

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

Besides these dwellings, there were barns, stables, store-houses,
and tobacco-houses; blacksmiths' shops, wheelwrights' shops,
coopers' shops--all objects of interest; but, above all, there
stood the grandest building my eyes had then ever beheld, called,
by every one on the plantation, the "Great House." This was
occupied by Col. Lloyd and his family. They occupied it; _I_
enjoyed it. The great house was surrounded by numerous and
variously shaped out-buildings. There were kitchens, wash-
houses, dairies, summer-house, green-houses, hen-houses, turkey-
houses, pigeon-houses, and arbors, of many sizes and devices, all
neatly painted, and altogether interspersed with grand old trees,
ornamental and primitive, which afforded delightful shade in
<52>summer, and imparted to the scene a high degree of stately
beauty. The great house itself was a large, white, wooden
building, with wings on three sides of it. In front, a large
portico, extending the entire length of the building, and
supported by a long range of columns, gave to the whole
establishment an air of solemn grandeur. It was a treat to my
young and gradually opening mind, to behold this elaborate
exhibition of wealth, power, and vanity. The carriage entrance
to the house was a large gate, more than a quarter of a mile
distant from it; the intermediate space was a beautiful lawn,
very neatly trimmed, and watched with the greatest care. It was
dotted thickly over with delightful trees, shrubbery, and
flowers. The road, or lane, from the gate to the great house,
was richly paved with white pebbles from the beach, and, in its
course, formed a complete circle around the beautiful lawn.
Carriages going in and retiring from the great house, made the
circuit of the lawn, and their passengers were permitted to
behold a scene of almost Eden-like beauty. Outside this select
inclosure, were parks, where as about the residences of the
English nobility--rabbits, deer, and other wild game, might be
seen, peering and playing about, with none to molest them or make
them afraid. The tops of the stately poplars were often covered
with the red-winged black-birds, making all nature vocal with the
joyous life and beauty of their wild, warbling notes. These all
belonged to me, as well as to Col. Edward Lloyd, and for a time I
greatly enjoyed them.

A short distance from the great house, were the stately mansions
of the dead, a place of somber aspect. Vast tombs, embowered
beneath the weeping willow and the fir tree, told of the
antiquities of the Lloyd family, as well as of their wealth.
Superstition was rife among the slaves about this family burying
ground. Strange sights had been seen there by some of the older
slaves. Shrouded ghosts, riding on great black horses, had been
seen to enter; balls of fire had been seen to fly there at
midnight, and horrid sounds had been repeatedly heard. Slaves
know <53 WEALTH OF COLONEL LLOYD>enough of the rudiments of
theology to believe that those go to hell who die slaveholders;
and they often fancy such persons wishing themselves back again,
to wield the lash. Tales of sights and sounds, strange and
terrible, connected with the huge black tombs, were a very great
security to the grounds about them, for few of the slaves felt
like approaching them even in the day time. It was a dark,
gloomy and forbidding place, and it was difficult to feel that
the spirits of the sleeping dust there deposited, reigned with
the blest in the realms of eternal peace.

The business of twenty or thirty farms was transacted at this,
called, by way of eminence, "great house farm." These farms all
belonged to Col. Lloyd, as did, also, the slaves upon them. Each
farm was under the management of an overseer. As I have said of
the overseer of the home plantation, so I may say of the
overseers on the smaller ones; they stand between the slave and
all civil constitutions--their word is law, and is implicitly

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

These mechanics were called "uncles" by all the younger slaves,
not because they really sustained that relationship to any, but
according to plantation _etiquette_, as a mark of respect, due
<54>from the younger to the older slaves. Strange, and even
ridiculous as it may seem, among a people so uncultivated, and
with so many stern trials to look in the face, there is not to be
found, among any people, a more rigid enforcement of the law of
respect to elders, than they maintain. I set this down as partly
constitutional with my race, and partly conventional. There is
no better material in the world for making a gentleman, than is
furnished in the African. He shows to others, and exacts for
himself, all the tokens of respect which he is compelled to
manifest toward his master. A young slave must approach the
company of the older with hat in hand, and woe betide him, if he
fails to acknowledge a favor, of any sort, with the accustomed
_"tank'ee,"_ &c. So uniformly are good manners enforced among
slaves, I can easily detect a "bogus" fugitive by his manners.

Among other slave notabilities of the plantation, was one called
by everybody Uncle Isaac Copper. It is seldom that a slave gets
a surname from anybody in Maryland; and so completely has the
south shaped the manners of the north, in this respect, that even
abolitionists make very little of the surname of a Negro. The
only improvement on the "Bills," "Jacks," "Jims," and "Neds" of
the south, observable here is, that "William," "John," "James,"
"Edward," are substituted. It goes against the grain to treat
and address a Negro precisely as they would treat and address a
white man. But, once in a while, in slavery as in the free
states, by some extraordinary circumstance, the Negro has a
surname fastened to him, and holds it against all
conventionalities. This was the case with Uncle Isaac Copper.
When the "uncle" was dropped, he generally had the prefix
"doctor," in its stead. He was our doctor of medicine, and
doctor of divinity as well. Where he took his degree I am unable
to say, for he was not very communicative to inferiors, and I was
emphatically such, being but a boy seven or eight years old. He
was too well established in his profession to permit questions as
to his native skill, or his attainments. One qualification he
undoubtedly had--he <55 PRAYING AND FLOGGING>was a confirmed
_cripple;_ and he could neither work, nor would he bring anything
if offered for sale in the market. The old man, though lame, was
no sluggard. He was a man that made his crutches do him good
service. He was always on the alert, looking up the sick, and
all such as were supposed to need his counsel. His remedial
prescriptions embraced four articles. For diseases of the body,
_Epsom salts and castor oil;_ for those of the soul, _the Lord's
Prayer_, and _hickory switches_!

I was not long at Col. Lloyd's before I was placed under the care
of Doctor Issac Copper. I was sent to him with twenty or thirty
other children, to learn the "Lord's Prayer." I found the old
gentleman seated on a huge three-legged oaken stool, armed with
several large hickory switches; and, from his position, he could
reach--lame as he was--any boy in the room. After standing
awhile to learn what was expected of us, the old gentleman, in
any other than a devotional tone, commanded us to kneel down.
This done, he commenced telling us to say everything he said.
"Our Father"--this was repeated after him with promptness and
uniformity; "Who art in heaven"--was less promptly and uniformly
repeated; and the old gentleman paused in the prayer, to give us
a short lecture upon the consequences of inattention, both
immediate and future, and especially those more immediate. About
these he was absolutely certain, for he held in his right hand
the means of bringing all his predictions and warnings to pass.
On he proceeded with the prayer; and we with our thick tongues
and unskilled ears, followed him to the best of our ability.
This, however, was not sufficient to please the old gentleman.
Everybody, in the south, wants the privilege of whipping somebody
else. Uncle Isaac shared the common passion of his country, and,
therefore, seldom found any means of keeping his disciples in
order short of flogging. "Say everything I say;" and bang would
come the switch on some poor boy's undevotional head. _"What you
looking at there"--"Stop that pushing"_--and down again would
come the lash.

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

The windmill under the care of Mr. Kinney, a kind hearted old
Englishman, was to me a source of infinite interest and pleasure.
The old man always seemed pleased when he saw a troop of darkey
little urchins, with their tow-linen shirts fluttering in the
breeze, approaching to view and admire the whirling wings of his
wondrous machine. From the mill we could see other objects of
deep interest. These were, the vessels from St. Michael's, on
their way to Baltimore. It was a source of much amusement to
view the flowing sails and complicated rigging, as the little
crafts dashed by, and to speculate upon Baltimore, as to the kind
and quality of the place. With so many sources of interest
around me, the reader may be prepared to learn that I began to
think very highly of Col. L.'s plantation. It was just a place
to my boyish taste. There were fish to be caught in the creek,
if one only had a hook and line; and crabs, clams and oysters
were to be caught by wading, digging and raking for them. Here
was a field for industry and enterprise, strongly inviting; and
the reader may be assured that I entered upon it with spirit.

Even the much dreaded old master, whose merciless fiat had
brought me from Tuckahoe, gradually, to my mind, parted with his
terrors. Strange enough, his reverence seemed to take no
particular notice of me, nor of my coming. Instead of leaping
out and devouring me, he scarcely seemed conscious of my
presence. The fact is, he was occupied with matters more weighty
and important than either looking after or vexing me. He
probably thought as <57 "OLD MASTER" LOSING ITS TERRORS>little of
my advent, as he would have thought of the addition of a single
pig to his stock!

As the chief butler on Col. Lloyd's plantation, his duties were
numerous and perplexing. In almost all important matters he
answered in Col. Lloyd's stead. The overseers of all the farms
were in some sort under him, and received the law from his mouth.
The colonel himself seldom addressed an overseer, or allowed an
overseer to address him. Old master carried the keys of all
store houses; measured out the allowance for each slave at the
end of every month; superintended the storing of all goods
brought to the plantation; dealt out the raw material to all the
handicraftsmen; shipped the grain, tobacco, and all saleable
produce of the plantation to market, and had the general
oversight of the coopers' shop, wheelwrights' shop, blacksmiths'
shop, and shoemakers' shop. Besides the care of these, he often
had business for the plantation which required him to be absent
two and three days.

Thus largely employed, he had little time, and perhaps as little
disposition, to interfere with the children individually. What
he was to Col. Lloyd, he made Aunt Katy to him. When he had
anything to say or do about us, it was said or done in a
wholesale manner; disposing of us in classes or sizes, leaving
all minor details to Aunt Katy, a person of whom the reader has
already received no very favorable impression. Aunt Katy was a
woman who never allowed herself to act greatly within the margin
of power granted to her, no matter how broad that authority might
be. Ambitious, ill-tempered and cruel, she found in her present
position an ample field for the exercise of her ill-omened
qualities. She had a strong hold on old master she was
considered a first rate cook, and she really was very
industrious. She was, therefore, greatly favored by old master,
and as one mark of his favor, she was the only mother who was
permitted to retain her children around her. Even to these
children she was often fiendish in her brutality. She pursued
her son Phil, one day, in <58>my presence, with a huge butcher
knife, and dealt a blow with its edge which left a shocking gash
on his arm, near the wrist. For this, old master did sharply
rebuke her, and threatened that if she ever should do the like
again, he would take the skin off her back. Cruel, however, as
Aunt Katy was to her own children, at times she was not destitute
of maternal feeling, as I often had occasion to know, in the
bitter pinches of hunger I had to endure. Differing from the
practice of Col. Lloyd, old master, instead of allowing so much
for each slave, committed the allowance for all to the care of
Aunt Katy, to be divided after cooking it, amongst us. The
allowance, consisting of coarse corn-meal, was not very
abundant--indeed, it was very slender; and in passing through
Aunt Katy's hands, it was made more slender still, for some of
us. William, Phil and Jerry were her children, and it is not to
accuse her too severely, to allege that she was often guilty of
starving myself and the other children, while she was literally
cramming her own. Want of food was my chief trouble the first
summer at my old master's. Oysters and clams would do very well,
with an occasional supply of bread, but they soon failed in the
absence of bread. I speak but the simple truth, when I say, I
have often been so pinched with hunger, that I have fought with
the dog--"Old Nep"--for the smallest crumbs that fell from the
kitchen table, and have been glad when I won a single crumb in
the combat. Many times have I followed, with eager step, the
waiting-girl when she went out to shake the table cloth, to get
the crumbs and small bones flung out for the cats. The water, in
which meat had been boiled, was as eagerly sought for by me. It
was a great thing to get the privilege of dipping a piece of
bread in such water; and the skin taken from rusty bacon, was a
positive luxury. Nevertheless, I sometimes got full meals and
kind words from sympathizing old slaves, who knew my sufferings,
and received the comforting assurance that I should be a man some
day. "Never mind, honey--better day comin'," was even then a
solace, a cheering consolation to me in my <59 JARGON OF THE
PLANTATION>troubles. Nor were all the kind words I received from
slaves. I had a friend in the parlor, as well, and one to whom I
shall be glad to do justice, before I have finished this part of
my story.

I was not long at old master's, before I learned that his surname
was Anthony, and that he was generally called "Captain Anthony"--
a title which he probably acquired by sailing a craft in the
Chesapeake Bay. Col. Lloyd's slaves never called Capt. Anthony
"old master," but always Capt. Anthony; and _me_ they called
"Captain Anthony Fred." There is not, probably, in the whole
south, a plantation where the English language is more
imperfectly spoken than on Col. Lloyd's. It is a mixture of
Guinea and everything else you please. At the time of which I am
now writing, there were slaves there who had been brought from
the coast of Africa. They never used the "s" in indication of
the possessive case. "Cap'n Ant'ney Tom," "Lloyd Bill," "Aunt
Rose Harry," means "Captain Anthony's Tom," "Lloyd's Bill," &c.
_"Oo you dem long to?"_ means, "Whom do you belong to?" _"Oo dem
got any peachy?"_ means, "Have you got any peaches?" I could
scarcely understand them when I first went among them, so broken
was their speech; and I am persuaded that I could not have been
dropped anywhere on the globe, where I could reap less, in the
way of knowledge, from my immediate associates, than on this
plantation. Even "MAS' DANIEL," by his association with his
father's slaves, had measurably adopted their dialect and their
ideas, so far as they had ideas to be adopted. The equality of
nature is strongly asserted in childhood, and childhood requires
children for associates. _Color_ makes no difference with a
child. Are you a child with wants, tastes and pursuits common to
children, not put on, but natural? then, were you black as ebony
you would be welcome to the child of alabaster whiteness. The
law of compensation holds here, as well as elsewhere. Mas'
Daniel could not associate with ignorance without sharing its
shade; and he could not give his black playmates his company,
without giving them his intelligence, as well. Without knowing
<60>this, or caring about it, at the time, I, for some cause or
other, spent much of my time with Mas' Daniel, in preference to
spending it with most of the other boys.

Mas' Daniel was the youngest son of Col. Lloyd; his older
brothers were Edward and Murray--both grown up, and fine looking
men. Edward was especially esteemed by the children, and by me
among the rest; not that he ever said anything to us or for us,
which could be called especially kind; it was enough for us, that
he never looked nor acted scornfully toward us. There were also
three sisters, all married; one to Edward Winder; a second to
Edward Nicholson; a third to Mr. Lownes.

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

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

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


_Gradual Initiation to the Mysteries of Slavery_



Although my old master--Capt. Anthony--gave me at first, (as the
reader will have already seen) very little attention, and
although that little was of a remarkably mild and gentle
description, a few months only were sufficient to convince me
that mildness and gentleness were not the prevailing or governing
traits of his character. These excellent qualities were
displayed only occasionally. He could, when it suited him,
appear to be literally insensible to the claims of humanity, when
appealed to by the helpless against an aggressor, and he could
himself commit outrages, deep, dark and nameless. Yet he was not
by nature worse than other men. Had he been brought up in a free
state, surrounded by the just restraints of free society--
restraints which are necessary to the freedom of all its members,
alike and equally--Capt. Anthony might have been as humane a man,
and every way as respectable, as many who now oppose the slave
system; certainly as humane and respectable as are members of
society generally. The slaveholder, as well as the slave, is the
victim of the slave <62>system. A man's character greatly takes
its hue and shape from the form and color of things about him.
Under the whole heavens there is no relation more unfavorable to
the development of honorable character, than that sustained by
the slaveholder to the slave. Reason is imprisoned here, and
passions run wild. Like the fires of the prairie, once lighted,
they are at the mercy of every wind, and must burn, till they
have consumed all that is combustible within their remorseless
grasp. Capt. Anthony could be kind, and, at times, he even
showed an affectionate disposition. Could the reader have seen
him gently leading me by the hand--as he sometimes did--patting
me on the head, speaking to me in soft, caressing tones and
calling me his "little Indian boy," he would have deemed him a
kind old man, and really, almost fatherly. But the pleasant
moods of a slaveholder are remarkably brittle; they are easily
snapped; they neither come often, nor remain long. His temper is
subjected to perpetual trials; but, since these trials are never
borne patiently, they add nothing to his natural stock of

Old master very early impressed me with the idea that he was an
unhappy man. Even to my child's eye, he wore a troubled, and at
times, a haggard aspect. His strange movements excited my
curiosity, and awakened my compassion. He seldom walked alone
without muttering to himself; and he occasionally stormed about,
as if defying an army of invisible foes. "He would do this,
that, and the other; he'd be d--d if he did not,"--was the usual
form of his threats. Most of his leisure was spent in walking,
cursing and gesticulating, like one possessed by a demon. Most
evidently, he was a wretched man, at war with his own soul, and
with all the world around him. To be overheard by the children,
disturbed him very little. He made no more of our presence, than
of that of the ducks and geese which he met on the green. He
little thought that the little black urchins around him, could
see, through those vocal crevices, the very secrets of his heart.
Slaveholders ever underrate the intelligence with which <63
really understood the old man's mutterings, attitudes and
gestures, about as well as he did himself. But slaveholders
never encourage that kind of communication, with the slaves, by
which they might learn to measure the depths of his knowledge.
Ignorance is a high virtue in a human chattel; and as the master
studies to keep the slave ignorant, the slave is cunning enough
to make the master think he succeeds. The slave fully
appreciates the saying, "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to
be wise." When old master's gestures were violent, ending with a
threatening shake of the head, and a sharp snap of his middle
finger and thumb, I deemed it wise to keep at a respectable
distance from him; for, at such times, trifling faults stood, in
his eyes, as momentous offenses; and, having both the power and
the disposition, the victim had only to be near him to catch the
punishment, deserved or undeserved.

One of the first circumstances that opened my eyes to the cruelty
and wickedness of slavery, and the heartlessness of my old
master, was the refusal of the latter to interpose his authority,
to protect and shield a young woman, who had been most cruelly
abused and beaten by his overseer in Tuckahoe. This overseer--a
Mr. Plummer--was a man like most of his class, little better than
a human brute; and, in addition to his general profligacy and
repulsive coarseness, the creature was a miserable drunkard. He
was, probably, employed by my old master, less on account of the
excellence of his services, than for the cheap rate at which they
could be obtained. He was not fit to have the management of a
drove of mules. In a fit of drunken madness, he committed the
outrage which brought the young woman in question down to my old
master's for protection. This young woman was the daughter of
Milly, an own aunt of mine. The poor girl, on arriving at our
house, presented a pitiable appearance. She had left in haste,
and without preparation; and, probably, without the knowledge of
Mr. Plummer. She had traveled twelve miles, bare-footed, bare-
necked and bare-headed. Her neck and shoulders <64>were covered
with scars, newly made; and not content with marring her neck and
shoulders, with the cowhide, the cowardly brute had dealt her a
blow on the head with a hickory club, which cut a horrible gash,
and left her face literally covered with blood. In this
condition, the poor young woman came down, to implore protection
at the hands of my old master. I expected to see him boil over
with rage at the revolting deed, and to hear him fill the air
with curses upon the brutual Plummer; but I was disappointed. He
sternly told her, in an angry tone, he "believed she deserved
every bit of it," and, if she did not go home instantly, he would
himself take the remaining skin from her neck and back. Thus was
the poor girl compelled to return, without redress, and perhaps
to receive an additional flogging for daring to appeal to old
master against the overseer.

Old master seemed furious at the thought of being troubled by
such complaints. I did not, at that time, understand the
philosophy of his treatment of my cousin. It was stern,
unnatural, violent. Had the man no bowels of compassion? Was he
dead to all sense of humanity? No. I think I now understand it.
This treatment is a part of the system, rather than a part of the
man. Were slaveholders to listen to complaints of this sort
against the overseers, the luxury of owning large numbers of
slaves, would be impossible. It would do away with the office of
overseer, entirely; or, in other words, it would convert the
master himself into an overseer. It would occasion great loss of
time and labor, leaving the overseer in fetters, and without the
necessary power to secure obedience to his orders. A privilege
so dangerous as that of appeal, is, therefore, strictly
prohibited; and any one exercising it, runs a fearful hazard.
Nevertheless, when a slave has nerve enough to exercise it, and
boldly approaches his master, with a well-founded complaint
against an overseer, though he may be repulsed, and may even have
that of which he complains repeated at the time, and, though he
may be beaten by his master, as well as by the overseer, for his
temerity, in the end the <65 SLAVEHOLDERS IMPATIENCE>policy of
complaining is, generally, vindicated by the relaxed rigor of the
overseer's treatment. The latter becomes more careful, and less
disposed to use the lash upon such slaves thereafter. It is with
this final result in view, rather than with any expectation of
immediate good, that the outraged slave is induced to meet his
master with a complaint. The overseer very naturally dislikes to
have the ear of the master disturbed by complaints; and, either
upon this consideration, or upon advice and warning privately
given him by his employers, he generally modifies the rigor of
his rule, after an outbreak of the kind to which I have been

Howsoever the slaveholder may allow himself to act toward his
slave, and, whatever cruelty he may deem it wise, for example's
sake, or for the gratification of his humor, to inflict, he
cannot, in the absence of all provocation, look with pleasure
upon the bleeding wounds of a defenseless slave-woman. When he
drives her from his presence without redress, or the hope of
redress, he acts, generally, from motives of policy, rather than
from a hardened nature, or from innate brutality. Yet, let but
his own temper be stirred, his own passions get loose, and the
slave-owner will go _far beyond_ the overseer in cruelty. He
will convince the slave that his wrath is far more terrible and
boundless, and vastly more to be dreaded, than that of the
underling overseer. What may have been mechanically and
heartlessly done by the overseer, is now done with a will. The
man who now wields the lash is irresponsible. He may, if he
pleases, cripple or kill, without fear of consequences; except in
so far as it may concern profit or loss. To a man of violent
temper--as my old master was--this was but a very slender and
inefficient restraint. I have seen him in a tempest of passion,
such as I have just described--a passion into which entered all
the bitter ingredients of pride, hatred, envy, jealousy, and the
thrist{sic} for revenge.

The circumstances which I am about to narrate, and which gave
rise to this fearful tempest of passion, are not singular nor
<66>isolated in slave life, but are common in every slaveholding
community in which I have lived. They are incidental to the
relation of master and slave, and exist in all sections of slave-
holding countries.

The reader will have noticed that, in enumerating the names of
the slaves who lived with my old master, _Esther_ is mentioned.
This was a young woman who possessed that which is ever a curse
to the slave-girl; namely--personal beauty. She was tall, well
formed, and made a fine appearance. The daughters of Col. Lloyd
could scarcely surpass her in personal charms. Esther was
courted by Ned Roberts, and he was as fine looking a young man,
as she was a woman. He was the son of a favorite slave of Col.
Lloyd. Some slaveholders would have been glad to promote the
marriage of two such persons; but, for some reason or other, my
old master took it upon him to break up the growing intimacy
between Esther and Edward. He strictly ordered her to quit the
company of said Roberts, telling her that he would punish her
severely if he ever found her again in Edward's company. This
unnatural and heartless order was, of course, broken. A woman's
love is not to be annihilated by the peremptory command of any
one, whose breath is in his nostrils. It was impossible to keep
Edward and Esther apart. Meet they would, and meet they did.
Had old master been a man of honor and purity, his motives, in
this matter, might have been viewed more favorably. As it was,
his motives were as abhorrent, as his methods were foolish and
contemptible. It was too evident that he was not concerned for
the girl's welfare. It is one of the damning characteristics of
the slave system, that it robs its victims of every earthly
incentive to a holy life. The fear of God, and the hope of
heaven, are found sufficient to sustain many slave-women, amidst
the snares and dangers of their strange lot; but, this side of
God and heaven, a slave-woman is at the mercy of the power,
caprice and passion of her owner. Slavery provides no means for
the honorable continuance of the race. Marriage as imposing
obligations on the parties to it--has no <67 A HARROWING SCENE>
existence here, except in such hearts as are purer and higher
than the standard morality around them. It is one of the
consolations of my life, that I know of many honorable instances
of persons who maintained their honor, where all around was

Esther was evidently much attached to Edward, and abhorred--as
she had reason to do--the tyrannical and base behavior of old
master. Edward was young, and fine looking, and he loved and
courted her. He might have been her husband, in the high sense
just alluded to; but WHO and _what_ was this old master? His
attentions were plainly brutal and selfish, and it was as natural
that Esther should loathe him, as that she should love Edward.
Abhorred and circumvented as he was, old master, having the
power, very easily took revenge. I happened to see this
exhibition of his rage and cruelty toward Esther. The time
selected was singular. It was early in the morning, when all
besides was still, and before any of the family, in the house or
kitchen, had left their beds. I saw but few of the shocking
preliminaries, for the cruel work had begun before I awoke. I
was probably awakened by the shrieks and piteous cries of poor
Esther. My sleeping place was on the floor of a little, rough
closet, which opened into the kitchen; and through the cracks of
its unplaned boards, I could distinctly see and hear what was
going on, without being seen by old master. Esther's wrists were
firmly tied, and the twisted rope was fastened to a strong staple
in a heavy wooden joist above, near the fireplace. Here she
stood, on a bench, her arms tightly drawn over her breast. Her
back and shoulders were bare to the waist. Behind her stood old
master, with cowskin in hand, preparing his barbarous work with
all manner of harsh, coarse, and tantalizing epithets. The
screams of his victim were most piercing. He was cruelly
deliberate, and protracted the torture, as one who was delighted
with the scene. Again and again he drew the hateful whip through
his hand, adjusting it with a view of dealing the most pain-
giving blow. Poor Esther had never yet been severely whipped,
and her shoulders <68>were plump and tender. Each blow,
vigorously laid on, brought screams as well as blood. _"Have
mercy; Oh! have mercy"_ she cried; "_I won't do so no more;"_ but
her piercing cries seemed only to increase his fury. His answers
to them are too coarse and blasphemous to be produced here. The
whole scene, with all its attendants, was revolting and shocking,
to the last degree; and when the motives of this brutal
castigation are considered,--language has no power to convey a
just sense of its awful criminality. After laying on some thirty
or forty stripes, old master untied his suffering victim, and let
her get down. She could scarcely stand, when untied. From my
heart I pitied her, and--child though I was--the outrage kindled
in me a feeling far from peaceful; but I was hushed, terrified,
stunned, and could do nothing, and the fate of Esther might be
mine next. The scene here described was often repeated in the
case of poor Esther, and her life, as I knew it, was one of



_Treatment of Slaves on Lloyd's Plantation_



The heart-rending incidents, related in the foregoing chapter,
led me, thus early, to inquire into the nature and history of
slavery. _Why am I a slave? Why are some people slaves, and
others masters? Was there ever a time this was not so? How did
the relation commence?_ These were the perplexing questions
which began now to claim my thoughts, and to exercise the weak
powers of my mind, for I was still but a child, and knew less
than children of the same age in the free states. As my
questions concerning these things were only put to children a
little older, and little better informed than myself, I was not
rapid in reaching a solid footing. By some means I learned from
these inquiries that _"God, up in the sky,"_ made every body; and
that he made _white_ people to be masters and mistresses, and
_black_ people to be slaves. This did not satisfy me, nor lessen
my interest in the subject. I was told, too, that God was good,
and that He knew what was best for me, and best for everybody.
This was less satisfactory than the first statement; because it
came, point blank, against all my <70>notions of goodness. It
was not good to let old master cut the flesh off Esther, and make
her cry so. Besides, how did people know that God made black
people to be slaves? Did they go up in the sky and learn it? or,
did He come down and tell them so? All was dark here. It was
some relief to my hard notions of the goodness of God, that,
although he made white men to be slaveholders, he did not make
them to be _bad_ slaveholders, and that, in due time, he would
punish the bad slaveholders; that he would, when they died, send
them to the bad place, where they would be "burnt up."
Nevertheless, I could not reconcile the relation of slavery with
my crude notions of goodness.

Then, too, I found that there were puzzling exceptions to this
theory of slavery on both sides, and in the middle. I knew of
blacks who were _not_ slaves; I knew of whites who were _not_
slaveholders; and I knew of persons who were _nearly_ white, who
were slaves. _Color_, therefore, was a very unsatisfactory basis
for slavery.

Once, however, engaged in the inquiry, I was not very long in
finding out the true solution of the matter. It was not _color_,
but _crime_, not _God_, but _man_, that afforded the true
explanation of the existence of slavery; nor was I long in
finding out another important truth, viz: what man can make, man
can unmake. The appalling darkness faded away, and I was master
of the subject. There were slaves here, direct from Guinea; and
there were many who could say that their fathers and mothers were
stolen from Africa--forced from their homes, and compelled to
serve as slaves. This, to me, was knowledge; but it was a kind
of knowledge which filled me with a burning hatred of slavery,
increased my suffering, and left me without the means of breaking
away from my bondage. Yet it was knowledge quite worth
possessing. I could not have been more than seven or eight years
old, when I began to make this subject my study. It was with me
in the woods and fields; along the shore of the river, and
wherever my boyish wanderings led me; and though I was, at that
time, <71 EARLY REFLECTIONS ON SLAVERY>quite ignorant of the
existence of the free states, I distinctly remember being, _even
then_, most strongly impressed with the idea of being a freeman
some day. This cheering assurance was an inborn dream of my
human nature a constant menace to slavery--and one which all the
powers of slavery were unable to silence or extinguish.

Up to the time of the brutal flogging of my Aunt Esther--for she
was my own aunt--and the horrid plight in which I had seen my
cousin from Tuckahoe, who had been so badly beaten by the cruel
Mr. Plummer, my attention had not been called, especially, to the
gross features of slavery. I had, of course, heard of whippings
and of savage _rencontres_ between overseers and slaves, but I
had always been out of the way at the times and places of their
occurrence. My plays and sports, most of the time, took me from
the corn and tobacco fields, where the great body of the hands
were at work, and where scenes of cruelty were enacted and
witnessed. But, after the whipping of Aunt Esther, I saw many
cases of the same shocking nature, not only in my master's house,
but on Col. Lloyd's plantation. One of the first which I saw,
and which greatly agitated me, was the whipping of a woman
belonging to Col. Lloyd, named Nelly. The offense alleged
against Nelly, was one of the commonest and most indefinite in
the whole catalogue of offenses usually laid to the charge of
slaves, viz: "impudence." This may mean almost anything, or
nothing at all, just according to the caprice of the master or
overseer, at the moment. But, whatever it is, or is not, if it
gets the name of "impudence," the party charged with it is sure
of a flogging. This offense may be committed in various ways; in
the tone of an answer; in answering at all; in not answering; in
the expression of countenance; in the motion of the head; in the
gait, manner and bearing of the slave. In the case under
consideration, I can easily believe that, according to all
slaveholding standards, here was a genuine instance of impudence.
In Nelly there were all the necessary conditions for committing
the offense. She was <72>a bright mulatto, the recognized wife
of a favorite "hand" on board Col. Lloyd's sloop, and the mother
of five sprightly children. She was a vigorous and spirited
woman, and one of the most likely, on the plantation, to be
guilty of impudence. My attention was called to the scene, by
the noise, curses and screams that proceeded from it; and, on
going a little in that direction, I came upon the parties engaged
in the skirmish. Mr. Siever, the overseer, had hold of Nelly,
when I caught sight of them; he was endeavoring to drag her
toward a tree, which endeavor Nelly was sternly resisting; but to
no purpose, except to retard the progress of the overseer's
plans. Nelly--as I have said--was the mother of five children;
three of them were present, and though quite small (from seven to
ten years old, I should think) they gallantly came to their
mother's defense, and gave the overseer an excellent pelting with
stones. One of the little fellows ran up, seized the overseer by
the leg and bit him; but the monster was too busily engaged with
Nelly, to pay any attention to the assaults of the children.
There were numerous bloody marks on Mr. Sevier's face, when I
first saw him, and they increased as the struggle went on. The
imprints of Nelly's fingers were visible, and I was glad to see
them. Amidst the wild screams of the children--"_Let my mammy
go"--"let my mammy go_"--there escaped, from between the teeth of
the bullet-headed overseer, a few bitter curses, mingled with
threats, that "he would teach the d--d b--h how to give a white
man impudence." There is no doubt that Nelly felt herself
superior, in some respects, to the slaves around her. She was a
wife and a mother; her husband was a valued and favorite slave.
Besides, he was one of the first hands on board of the sloop, and
the sloop hands--since they had to represent the plantation
abroad--were generally treated tenderly. The overseer never was
allowed to whip Harry; why then should he be allowed to whip
Harry's wife? Thoughts of this kind, no doubt, influenced her;
but, for whatever reason, she nobly resisted, and, unlike most of
the slaves, <73 COMBAT BETWEEN MR. SEVIER AND NELLY>seemed
determined to make her whipping cost Mr. Sevier as much as
possible. The blood on his (and her) face, attested her skill,
as well as her courage and dexterity in using her nails.
Maddened by her resistance, I expected to see Mr. Sevier level
her to the ground by a stunning blow; but no; like a savage bull-
dog--which he resembled both in temper and appearance--he
maintained his grip, and steadily dragged his victim toward the
tree, disregarding alike her blows, and the cries of the children
for their mother's release. He would, doubtless, have knocked
her down with his hickory stick, but that such act might have
cost him his place. It is often deemed advisable to knock a
_man_ slave down, in order to tie him, but it is considered
cowardly and inexcusable, in an overseer, thus to deal with a
_woman_. He is expected to tie her up, and to give her what is
called, in southern parlance, a "genteel flogging," without any
very great outlay of strength or skill. I watched, with
palpitating interest, the course of the preliminary struggle, and
was saddened by every new advantage gained over her by the
ruffian. There were times when she seemed likely to get the
better of the brute, but he finally overpowered her, and
succeeded in getting his rope around her arms, and in firmly
tying her to the tree, at which he had been aiming. This done,
and Nelly was at the mercy of his merciless lash; and now, what
followed, I have no heart to describe. The cowardly creature
made good his every threat; and wielded the lash with all the hot
zest of furious revenge. The cries of the woman, while
undergoing the terrible infliction, were mingled with those of
the children, sounds which I hope the reader may never be called
upon to hear. When Nelly was untied, her back was covered with
blood. The red stripes were all over her shoulders. She was
whipped--severely whipped; but she was not subdued, for she
continued to denounce the overseer, and to call him every vile
name. He had bruised her flesh, but had left her invincible
spirit undaunted. Such floggings are seldom repeated by the same
overseer. They prefer to whip those <74>who are most easily
whipped. The old doctrine that submission is the very best cure
for outrage and wrong, does not hold good on the slave
plantation. He is whipped oftenest, who is whipped easiest; and
that slave who has the courage to stand up for himself against
the overseer, although he may have many hard stripes at the
first, becomes, in the end, a freeman, even though he sustain the
formal relation of a slave. "You can shoot me but you can't whip
me," said a slave to Rigby Hopkins; and the result was that he
was neither whipped nor shot. If the latter had been his fate,
it would have been less deplorable than the living and lingering
death to which cowardly and slavish souls are subjected. I do
not know that Mr. Sevier ever undertook to whip Nelly again. He
probably never did, for it was not long after his attempt to
subdue her, that he was taken sick, and died. The wretched man
died as he had lived, unrepentant; and it was said--with how much
truth I know not--that in the very last hours of his life, his
ruling passion showed itself, and that when wrestling with death,
he was uttering horrid oaths, and flourishing the cowskin, as
though he was tearing the flesh off some helpless slave. One
thing is certain, that when he was in health, it was enough to
chill the blood, and to stiffen the hair of an ordinary man, to
hear Mr. Sevier talk. Nature, or his cruel habits, had given to
his face an expression of unusual savageness, even for a slave-
driver. Tobacco and rage had worn his teeth short, and nearly
every sentence that escaped their compressed grating, was
commenced or concluded with some outburst of profanity. His
presence made the field alike the field of blood, and of
blasphemy. Hated for his cruelty, despised for his cowardice,
his death was deplored by no one outside his own house--if indeed
it was deplored there; it was regarded by the slaves as a
merciful interposition of Providence. Never went there a man to
the grave loaded with heavier curses. Mr. Sevier's place was
promptly taken by a Mr. Hopkins, and the change was quite a
relief, he being a very different man. He was, in <75 ALLOWANCE
DAY AT THE HOME PLANTATION>all respects, a better man than his
predecessor; as good as any man can be, and yet be an overseer.
His course was characterized by no extraordinary cruelty; and
when he whipped a slave, as he sometimes did, he seemed to take
no especial pleasure in it, but, on the contrary, acted as though
he felt it to be a mean business. Mr. Hopkins stayed but a short
time; his place much to the regret of the slaves generally--was
taken by a Mr. Gore, of whom more will be said hereafter. It is
enough, for the present, to say, that he was no improvement on
Mr. Sevier, except that he was less noisy and less profane.

I have already referred to the business-like aspect of Col.
Lloyd's plantation. This business-like appearance was much
increased on the two days at the end of each month, when the
slaves from the different farms came to get their monthly
allowance of meal and meat. These were gala days for the slaves,
and there was much rivalry among them as to _who_ should be
elected to go up to the great house farm for the allowance, and,
indeed, to attend to any business at this (for them) the capital.
The beauty and grandeur of the place, its numerous slave
population, and the fact that Harry, Peter and Jake the sailors
of the sloop--almost always kept, privately, little trinkets
which they bought at Baltimore, to sell, made it a privilege to
come to the great house farm. Being selected, too, for this
office, was deemed a high honor. It was taken as a proof of
confidence and favor; but, probably, the chief motive of the
competitors for the place, was, a desire to break the dull
monotony of the field, and to get beyond the overseer's eye and
lash. Once on the road with an ox team, and seated on the tongue
of his cart, with no overseer to look after him, the slave was
comparatively free; and, if thoughtful, he had time to think.
Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work. A
silent slave is not liked by masters or overseers. _"Make a
noise," "make a noise,"_ and _"bear a hand,"_ are the words
usually addressed to the slaves when there is silence amongst
them. This may account for the almost constant singing <76>heard
in the southern states. There was, generally, more or less
singing among the teamsters, as it was one means of letting the
overseer know where they were, and that they were moving on with
the work. But, on allowance day, those who visited the great
house farm were peculiarly excited and noisy. While on their
way, they would make the dense old woods, for miles around,
reverberate with their wild notes. These were not always merry
because they were wild. On the contrary, they were mostly of a
plaintive cast, and told a tale of grief and sorrow. In the most
boisterous outbursts of rapturous sentiment, there was ever a
tinge of deep melancholy. I have never heard any songs like
those anywhere since I left slavery, except when in Ireland.
There I heard the same _wailing notes_, and was much affected by
them. It was during the famine of 1845-6. In all the songs of
the slaves, there was ever some expression in praise of the great
house farm; something which would flatter the pride of the owner,
and, possibly, draw a favorable glance from him.

_I am going away to the great house farm,
O yea! O yea! O yea!
My old master is a good old master,
O yea! O yea! O yea!_


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


I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meanings of those
rude, and apparently incoherent songs. I was myself within the
circle, so that I neither saw or heard as those without might see
and hear. They told a tale which was <77 SINGING OF SLAVES--AN
EXPLANATION>then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension; they
were tones, loud, long and deep, breathing the prayer and
complaint of souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish.
Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God
for deliverance from chains. The hearing of those wild notes
always depressed my spirits, and filled my heart with ineffable
sadness. The mere recurrence, even now, afflicts my spirit, and
while I am writing these lines, my tears are falling. To those
songs I trace my first glimmering conceptions of the dehumanizing
character of slavery. I can never get rid of that conception.
Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and
quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds. If any one
wishes to be impressed with a sense of the soul-killing power of
slavery, let him go to Col. Lloyd's plantation, and, on allowance
day, place himself in the deep, pine woods, and there let him, in
silence, thoughtfully analyze the sounds that shall pass through
the chambers of his soul, and if he is not thus impressed, it
will only be because "there is no flesh in his obdurate heart."


The remark is not unfrequently made, that slaves are the most
contended and happy laborers in the world. They dance and sing,
and make all manner of joyful noises--so they do; but it is a
great mistake to suppose them happy because they sing. The songs
of the slave represent the sorrows, rather than the joys, of his
heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is
relieved by its tears. Such is the constitution of the human
mind, that, when pressed to extremes, it often avails itself of
the most opposite methods. Extremes meet in mind as in matter.
When the slaves on board of the "Pearl" were overtaken, arrested,
and carried to prison--their hopes for freedom blasted--as they
marched in chains they sang, and found (as Emily Edmunson tells
us) a melancholy relief in singing. The singing of a man cast
away on a desolate island, might be as appropriately considered
an evidence of his contentment and happiness, as the singing of a
slave. Sorrow and desolation have their songs, as well as joy
and peace. Slaves sing more to _make_ themselves happy, than to
express their happiness.

It is the boast of slaveholders, that their slaves enjoy more of
the physical comforts of life than the peasantry of any country
in the world. My experience contradicts this. The men and the
women slaves on Col. Lloyd's farm, received, as their monthly
<78>allowance of food, eight pounds of pickled pork, or their
equivalent in fish. The pork was often tainted, and the fish was
of the poorest quality--herrings, which would bring very little
if offered for sale in any northern market. With their pork or
fish, they had one bushel of Indian meal--unbolted--of which
quite fifteen per cent was fit only to feed pigs. With this, one
pint of salt was given; and this was the entire monthly allowance
of a full grown slave, working constantly in the open field, from
morning until night, every day in the month except Sunday, and
living on a fraction more than a quarter of a pound of meat per
day, and less than a peck of corn-meal per week. There is no
kind of work that a man can do which requires a better supply of
food to prevent physical exhaustion, than the field-work of a
slave. So much for the slave's allowance of food; now for his
raiment. The yearly allowance of clothing for the slaves on this
plantation, consisted of two tow-linen shirts--such linen as the
coarsest crash towels are made of; one pair of trowsers of the
same material, for summer, and a pair of trowsers and a jacket of
woolen, most slazily put together, for winter; one pair of yarn
stockings, and one pair of shoes of the coarsest description.
The slave's entire apparel could not have cost more than eight
dollars per year. The allowance of food and clothing for the
little children, was committed to their mothers, or to the older
slavewomen having the care of them. Children who were unable to
work in the field, had neither shoes, stockings, jackets nor
trowsers given them. Their clothing consisted of two coarse tow-
linen shirts--already described--per year; and when these failed
them, as they often did, they went naked until the next allowance
day. Flocks of little children from five to ten years old, might
be seen on Col. Lloyd's plantation, as destitute of clothing as
any little heathen on the west coast of Africa; and this, not
merely during the summer months, but during the frosty weather of
March. The little girls were no better off than the boys; all
were nearly in a state of nudity.

As to beds to sleep on, they were known to none of the field
hands; nothing but a coarse blanket--not so good as those used in
the north to cover horses--was given them, and this only to the
men and women. The children stuck themselves in holes and
corners, about the quarters; often in the corner of the huge
chimneys, with their feet in the ashes to keep them warm. The
want of beds, however, was not considered a very great privation.
Time to sleep was of far greater importance, for, when the day's
work is done, most of the slaves have their washing, mending and
cooking to do; and, having few or none of the ordinary facilities
for doing such things, very many of their sleeping hours are
consumed in necessary preparations for the duties of the coming

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

More slaves are whipped for oversleeping than for any other
fault. Neither age nor sex finds any favor. The overseer stands
at the quarter door, armed with stick and cowskin, ready to whip
any who may be a few minutes behind time. When the horn is
blown, there is a rush for the door, and the hindermost one is
sure to get a blow from the overseer. Young mothers who worked
in the field, were allowed an hour, about ten o'clock in the
morning, to go home to nurse their children. Sometimes they were
compelled to take their children with them, and to leave them in
the corner of the fences, to prevent loss of time in nursing
them. The overseer generally rides about the field on horseback.
A cowskin and a hickory stick are his constant companions. The
<80>cowskin is a kind of whip seldom seen in the northern states.
It is made entirely of untanned, but dried, ox hide, and is about
as hard as a piece of well-seasoned live oak. It is made of
various sizes, but the usual length is about three feet. The
part held in the hand is nearly an inch in thickness; and, from
the extreme end of the butt or handle, the cowskin tapers its
whole length to a point. This makes it quite elastic and
springy. A blow with it, on the hardest back, will gash the
flesh, and make the blood start. Cowskins are painted red, blue
and green, and are the favorite slave whip. I think this whip
worse than the "cat-o'nine-tails." It condenses the whole
strength of the arm to a single point, and comes with a spring
that makes the air whistle. It is a terrible instrument, and is
so handy, that the overseer can always have it on his person, and
ready for use. The temptation to use it is ever strong; and an
overseer can, if disposed, always have cause for using it. With
him, it is literally a word and a blow, and, in most cases, the
blow comes first.

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

The dinner of the slaves consisted of a huge piece of ash cake,
and a small piece of pork, or two salt herrings. Not having
ovens, nor any suitable cooking utensils, the slaves mixed their
meal with a little water, to such thickness that a spoon would
stand erect in it; and, after the wood had burned away to coals
and ashes, they would place the dough between oak leaves and lay
it carefully in the ashes, completely covering it; hence, the
bread is called ash cake. The surface of this peculiar bread is
covered with ashes, to the depth of a sixteenth part of an inch,
and the ashes, certainly, do not make it very grateful to the
teeth, nor render it very palatable. The bran, or coarse part of
the meal, is baked with the fine, and bright scales run through
the bread. <81 THE CONTRAST>This bread, with its ashes and bran,
would disgust and choke a northern man, but it is quite liked by
the slaves. They eat it with avidity, and are more concerned
about the quantity than about the quality. They are far too
scantily provided for, and are worked too steadily, to be much
concerned for the quality of their food. The few minutes allowed
them at dinner time, after partaking of their coarse repast, are
variously spent. Some lie down on the "turning row," and go to
sleep; others draw together, and talk; and others are at work
with needle and thread, mending their tattered garments.
Sometimes you may hear a wild, hoarse laugh arise from a circle,
and often a song. Soon, however, the overseer comes dashing
through the field. _"Tumble up! Tumble up_, and to _work,
work,"_ is the cry; and, now, from twelve o'clock (mid-day) till
dark, the human cattle are in motion, wielding their clumsy hoes;
hurried on by no hope of reward, no sense of gratitude, no love
of children, no prospect of bettering their condition; nothing,
save the dread and terror of the slave-driver's lash. So goes
one day, and so comes and goes another.

But, let us now leave the rough usage of the field, where vulgar
coarseness and brutal cruelty spread themselves and flourish,
rank as weeds in the tropics; where a vile wretch, in the shape
of a man, rides, walks, or struts about, dealing blows, and
leaving gashes on broken-spirited men and helpless women, for
thirty dollars per month--a business so horrible, hardening and
disgraceful, that, rather, than engage in it, a decent man would
blow his own brains out--and let the reader view with me the
equally wicked, but less repulsive aspects of slave life; where
pride and pomp roll luxuriously at ease; where the toil of a
thousand men supports a single family in easy idleness and sin.
This is the great house; it is the home of the LLOYDS! Some idea
of its splendor has already been given--and, it is here that we
shall find that height of luxury which is the opposite of that
depth of poverty and physical wretchedness that we have just now
been contemplating. But, there is this difference in the two
extremes; <82>viz: that in the case of the slave, the miseries
and hardships of his lot are imposed by others, and, in the
master's case, they are imposed by himself. The slave is a
subject, subjected by others; the slaveholder is a subject, but
he is the author of his own subjection. There is more truth in
the saying, that slavery is a greater evil to the master than to
the slave, than many, who utter it, suppose. The self-executing
laws of eternal justice follow close on the heels of the evil-
doer here, as well as elsewhere; making escape from all its
penalties impossible. But, let others philosophize; it is my
province here to relate and describe; only allowing myself a word
or two, occasionally, to assist the reader in the proper
understanding of the facts narrated.



_Life in the Great House_



The close-fisted stinginess that fed the poor slave on coarse
corn-meal and tainted meat; that clothed him in crashy tow-linen,
and hurried him to toil through the field, in all weathers, with
wind and rain beating through his tattered garments; that
scarcely gave even the young slave-mother time to nurse her
hungry infant in the fence corner; wholly vanishes on approaching
the sacred precincts of the great house, the home of the Lloyds.
There the scriptural phrase finds an exact illustration; the
highly favored inmates of this mansion are literally arrayed "in
purple and fine linen," and fare sumptuously every day! The
table groans under the heavy and blood-bought luxuries gathered
with painstaking care, at home and abroad. Fields, forests,
rivers and seas, are made tributary here. Immense wealth, and
its lavish expenditure, fill the great house with all that can
please the eye, or tempt the taste. Here, appetite, not food, is
the great _desideratum_. Fish, flesh and fowl, are here in
profusion. Chickens, of <84>all breeds; ducks, of all kinds,
wild and tame, the common, and the huge Muscovite; Guinea fowls,
turkeys, geese, and pea fowls, are in their several pens, fat and
fatting for the destined vortex. The graceful swan, the
mongrels, the black-necked wild goose; partridges, quails,
pheasants and pigeons; choice water fowl, with all their strange
varieties, are caught in this huge family net. Beef, veal,
mutton and venison, of the most select kinds and quality, roll
bounteously to this grand consumer. The teeming riches of the
Chesapeake bay, its rock, perch, drums, crocus, trout, oysters,
crabs, and terrapin, are drawn hither to adorn the glittering
table of the great house. The dairy, too, probably the finest on
the Eastern Shore of Maryland--supplied by cattle of the best
English stock, imported for the purpose, pours its rich donations
of fragant cheese, golden butter, and delicious cream, to
heighten the attraction of the gorgeous, unending round of
feasting. Nor are the fruits of the earth forgotten or
neglected. The fertile garden, many acres in size, constituting
a separate establishment, distinct from the common farm--with its
scientific gardener, imported from Scotland (a Mr. McDermott)
with four men under his direction, was not behind, either in the
abundance or in the delicacy of its contributions to the same
full board. The tender asparagus, the succulent celery, and the
delicate cauliflower; egg plants, beets, lettuce, parsnips, peas,
and French beans, early and late; radishes, cantelopes, melons of
all kinds; the fruits and flowers of all climes and of all
descriptions, from the hardy apple of the north, to the lemon and
orange of the south, culminated at this point. Baltimore
gathered figs, raisins, almonds and juicy grapes from Spain.
Wines and brandies from France; teas of various flavor, from
China; and rich, aromatic coffee from Java, all conspired to
swell the tide of high life, where pride and indolence rolled and
lounged in magnificence and satiety.

Behind the tall-backed and elaborately wrought chairs, stand the
servants, men and maidens--fifteen in number--discriminately
selected, not only with a view to their industry and faith<85
HOUSE SERVANTS>fulness, but with special regard to their personal
appearance, their graceful agility and captivating address. Some
of these are armed with fans, and are fanning reviving breezes
toward the over-heated brows of the alabaster ladies; others
watch with eager eye, and with fawn-like step anticipate and
supply wants before they are sufficiently formed to be announced
by word or sign.

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

Let us now glance at the stables and the carriage house, and we
shall find the same evidences of pride and luxurious
extravagance. Here are three splendid coaches, soft within and
lustrous without. Here, too, are gigs, phaetons, barouches,
sulkeys and sleighs. Here are saddles and harnesses--beautifully
wrought and silver mounted--kept with every care. In the stable
you will find, kept only for pleasure, full thirty-five horses,
of the most approved blood for speed and beauty. There are two
men here constantly employed in taking care of these horses. One
of these men must be always in the stable, to answer every call
from the great house. Over the way from the stable, is a house
built expressly for the hounds--a pack of twenty-five or thirty--
whose fare would have made glad the heart of a dozen slaves.
Horses and hounds are not the only consumers of the slave's toil.
There was practiced, at the Lloyd's, a hospitality which would
have <86>astonished and charmed any health-seeking northern
divine or merchant, who might have chanced to share it. Viewed
from his own table, and _not_ from the field, the colonel was a
model of generous hospitality. His house was, literally, a
hotel, for weeks during the summer months. At these times,
especially, the air was freighted with the rich fumes of baking,
boiling, roasting and broiling. The odors I shared with the
winds; but the meats were under a more stringent monopoly except
that, occasionally, I got a cake from Mas' Daniel. In Mas'
Daniel I had a friend at court, from whom I learned many things
which my eager curiosity was excited to know. I always knew when
company was expected, and who they were, although I was an
outsider, being the property, not of Col. Lloyd, but of a servant
of the wealthy colonel. On these occasions, all that pride,
taste and money could do, to dazzle and charm, was done.

Who could say that the servants of Col. Lloyd were not well clad
and cared for, after witnessing one of his magnificent
entertainments? Who could say that they did not seem to glory in
being the slaves of such a master? Who, but a fanatic, could get
up any sympathy for persons whose every movement was agile, easy
and graceful, and who evinced a consciousness of high
superiority? And who would ever venture to suspect that Col.
Lloyd was subject to the troubles of ordinary mortals? Master
and slave seem alike in their glory here? Can it all be seeming?
Alas! it may only be a sham at last! This immense wealth; this
gilded splendor; this profusion of luxury; this exemption from
toil; this life of ease; this sea of plenty; aye, what of it all?
Are the pearly gates of happiness and sweet content flung open to
such suitors? _far from it!_ The poor slave, on his hard, pine
plank, but scantily covered with his thin blanket, sleeps more
soundly than the feverish voluptuary who reclines upon his
feather bed and downy pillow. Food, to the indolent lounger, is
poison, not sustenance. Lurking beneath all their dishes, are
invisible spirits of evil, ready to feed the self-deluded
gormandizers <87 DECEPTIVE CHARACTER OF SLAVERY>which aches,
pains, fierce temper, uncontrolled passions, dyspepsia,
rheumatism, lumbago and gout; and of these the Lloyds got their
full share. To the pampered love of ease, there is no resting
place. What is pleasant today, is repulsive tomorrow; what is
soft now, is hard at another time; what is sweet in the morning,
is bitter in the evening. Neither to the wicked, nor to the
idler, is there any solid peace: _"Troubled, like the restless

I had excellent opportunities of witnessing the restless
discontent and the capricious irritation of the Lloyds. My
fondness for horses--not peculiar to me more than to other boys
attracted me, much of the time, to the stables. This
establishment was especially under the care of "old" and "young"
Barney--father and son. Old Barney was a fine looking old man,
of a brownish complexion, who was quite portly, and wore a
dignified aspect for a slave. He was, evidently, much devoted to
his profession, and held his office an honorable one. He was a
farrier as well as an ostler; he could bleed, remove lampers from
the mouths of the horses, and was well instructed in horse
medicines. No one on the farm knew, so well as Old Barney, what
to do with a sick horse. But his gifts and acquirements were of
little advantage to him. His office was by no means an enviable
one. He often got presents, but he got stripes as well; for in
nothing was Col. Lloyd more unreasonable and exacting, than in
respect to the management of his pleasure horses. Any supposed
inattention to these animals were sure to be visited with
degrading punishment. His horses and dogs fared better than his
men. Their beds must be softer and cleaner than those of his
human cattle. No excuse could shield Old Barney, if the colonel
only suspected something wrong about his horses; and,
consequently, he was often punished when faultless. It was
absolutely painful to listen to the many unreasonable and fretful
scoldings, poured out at the stable, by Col. Lloyd, his sons and
sons-in-law. Of the latter, he had three--Messrs. Nicholson,
Winder and Lownes. These all <88>lived at the great house a
portion of the year, and enjoyed the luxury of whipping the
servants when they pleased, which was by no means unfrequently.
A horse was seldom brought out of the stable to which no
objection could be raised. "There was dust in his hair;" "there
was a twist in his reins;" "his mane did not lie straight;" "he
had not been properly grained;" "his head did not look well;"
"his fore-top was not combed out;" "his fetlocks had not been
properly trimmed;" something was always wrong. Listening to
complaints, however groundless, Barney must stand, hat in hand,
lips sealed, never answering a word. He must make no reply, no
explanation; the judgment of the master must be deemed
infallible, for his power is absolute and irresponsible. In a
free state, a master, thus complaining without cause, of his
ostler, might be told--"Sir, I am sorry I cannot please you, but,
since I have done the best I can, your remedy is to dismiss me."
Here, however, the ostler must stand, listen and tremble. One of
the most heart-saddening and humiliating scenes I ever witnessed,
was the whipping of Old Barney, by Col. Lloyd himself. Here were
two men, both advanced in years; there were the silvery locks of
Col. L., and there was the bald and toil-worn brow of Old Barney;
master and slave; superior and inferior here, but _equals_ at the
bar of God; and, in the common course of events, they must both
soon meet in another world, in a world where all distinctions,
except those based on obedience and disobedience, are blotted out
forever. "Uncover your head!" said the imperious master; he was
obeyed. "Take off your jacket, you old rascal!" and off came
Barney's jacket. "Down on your knees!" down knelt the old man,
his shoulders bare, his bald head glistening in the sun, and his
aged knees on the cold, damp ground. In his humble and debasing
attitude, the master--that master to whom he had given the best
years and the best strength of his life--came forward, and laid
on thirty lashes, with his horse whip. The old man bore it
patiently, to the last, answering each blow with a slight shrug
of the shoulders, and a groan. I cannot think that <89 A
HUMILIATING SPECTACLE>Col. Lloyd succeeded in marring the flesh
of Old Barney very seriously, for the whip was a light, riding
whip; but the spectacle of an aged man--a husband and a father--
humbly kneeling before a worm of the dust, surprised and shocked
me at the time; and since I have grown old enough to think on the
wickedness of slavery, few facts have been of more value to me
than this, to which I was a witness. It reveals slavery in its
true color, and in its maturity of repulsive hatefulness. I owe
it to truth, however, to say, that this was the first and the
last time I ever saw Old Barney, or any other slave, compelled to
kneel to receive a whipping.

I saw, at the stable, another incident, which I will relate, as
it is illustrative of a phase of slavery to which I have already
referred in another connection. Besides two other coachmen, Col.
Lloyd owned one named William, who, strangely enough, was often
called by his surname, Wilks, by white and colored people on the
home plantation. Wilks was a very fine looking man. He was
about as white as anybody on the plantation; and in manliness of
form, and comeliness of features, he bore a very striking
resemblance to Mr. Murray Lloyd. It was whispered, and pretty
generally admitted as a fact, that William Wilks was a son of
Col. Lloyd, by a highly favored slave-woman, who was still on the
plantation. There were many reasons for believing this whisper,
not only in William's appearance, but in the undeniable freedom
which he enjoyed over all others, and his apparent consciousness
of being something more than a slave to his master. It was
notorious, too, that William had a deadly enemy in Murray Lloyd,
whom he so much resembled, and that the latter greatly worried
his father with importunities to sell William. Indeed, he gave
his father no rest until he did sell him, to Austin Woldfolk, the
great slave-trader at that time. Before selling him, however,
Mr. L. tried what giving William a whipping would do, toward
making things smooth; but this was a failure. It was a
compromise, and defeated itself; for, imme<90>diately after the
infliction, the heart-sickened colonel atoned to William for the
abuse, by giving him a gold watch and chain. Another fact,
somewhat curious, is, that though sold to the remorseless
_Woldfolk_, taken in irons to Baltimore and cast into prison,
with a view to being driven to the south, William, by _some_
means--always a mystery to me--outbid all his purchasers, paid
for himself, _and now resides in Baltimore, a_ FREEMAN. Is there
not room to suspect, that, as the gold watch was presented to
atone for the whipping, a purse of gold was given him by the same
hand, with which to effect his purchase, as an atonement for the
indignity involved in selling his own flesh and blood. All the
circumstances of William, on the great house farm, show him to
have occupied a different position from the other slaves, and,
certainly, there is nothing in the supposed hostility of
slaveholders to amalgamation, to forbid the supposition that
William Wilks was the son of Edward Lloyd. _Practical_
amalgamation is common in every neighborhood where I have been in

Col. Lloyd was not in the way of knowing much of the real
opinions and feelings of his slaves respecting him. The distance
between him and them was far too great to admit of such
knowledge. His slaves were so numerous, that he did not know
them when he saw them. Nor, indeed, did all his slaves know him.
In this respect, he was inconveniently rich. It is reported of
him, that, while riding along the road one day, he met a colored
man, and addressed him in the usual way of speaking to colored
people on the public highways of the south: "Well, boy, who do
you belong to?" "To Col. Lloyd," replied the slave. "Well, does
the colonel treat you well?" "No, sir," was the ready reply.
"What? does he work you too hard?" "Yes, sir." "Well, don't he
give enough to eat?" "Yes, sir, he gives me enough, such as it
is." The colonel, after ascertaining where the slave belonged,
rode on; the slave also went on about his business, not dreaming
that he had been conversing with his master. He thought, said
and heard nothing more of the matter, until two or three weeks
after<91 PENALTY FOR TELLING THE TRUTH>wards. The poor man was
then informed by his overseer, that, for having found fault with
his master, he was now to be sold to a Georgia trader. He was
immediately chained and handcuffed; and thus, without a moment's
warning he was snatched away, and forever sundered from his
family and friends, by a hand more unrelenting than that of
death. _This_ is the penalty of telling the simple truth, in
answer to a series of plain questions. It is partly in
consequence of such facts, that slaves, when inquired of as to
their condition and the character of their masters, almost
invariably say they are contented, and that their masters are
kind. Slaveholders have been known to send spies among their
slaves, to ascertain, if possible, their views and feelings in
regard to their condition. The frequency of this had the effect
to establish among the slaves the maxim, that a still tongue
makes a wise head. They suppress the truth rather than take the
consequence of telling it, and, in so doing, they prove
themselves a part of the human family. If they have anything to
say of their master, it is, generally, something in his favor,
especially when speaking to strangers. I was frequently asked,
while a slave, if I had a kind master, and I do not remember ever
to have given a negative reply. Nor did I, when pursuing this
course, consider myself as uttering what was utterly false; for I
always measured the kindness of my master by the standard of
kindness set up by slaveholders around us. However, slaves are
like other people, and imbibe similar prejudices. They are apt
to think _their condition_ better than that of others. Many,
under the influence of this prejudice, think their own masters
are better than the masters of other slaves; and this, too, in
some cases, when the very reverse is true. Indeed, it is not
uncommon for slaves even to fall out and quarrel among themselves
about the relative kindness of their masters, contending for the
superior goodness of his own over that of others. At the very
same time, they mutually execrate their masters, when viewed
separately. It was so on our plantation. When Col. Lloyd's
slaves met those of Jacob Jepson, they <92>seldom parted without
a quarrel about their masters; Col. Lloyd's slaves contending
that he was the richest, and Mr. Jepson's slaves that he was the
smartest, man of the two. Col. Lloyd's slaves would boost his
ability to buy and sell Jacob Jepson; Mr. Jepson's slaves would
boast his ability to whip Col. Lloyd. These quarrels would
almost always end in a fight between the parties; those that beat
were supposed to have gained the point at issue. They seemed to
think that the greatness of their masters was transferable to
themselves. To be a SLAVE, was thought to be bad enough; but to
be a _poor man's_ slave, was deemed a disgrace, indeed.



_A Chapter of Horrors_



As I have already intimated elsewhere, the slaves on Col. Lloyd's
plantation, whose hard lot, under Mr. Sevier, the reader has
already noticed and deplored, were not permitted to enjoy the
comparatively moderate rule of Mr. Hopkins. The latter was
succeeded by a very different man. The name of the new overseer
was Austin Gore. Upon this individual I would fix particular
attention; for under his rule there was more suffering from
violence and bloodshed than had--according to the older slaves
ever been experienced before on this plantation. I confess, I
hardly know how to bring this man fitly before the reader. He
was, it is true, an overseer, and possessed, to a large extent,
the peculiar characteristics of his class; yet, to call him
merely an overseer, would not give the reader a fair notion of
the man. I speak of overseers as a class. They are such. They
are as distinct from the slaveholding gentry of the south, as are
the fishwomen of Paris, and the coal-heavers of London, distinct
from other members of society. They constitute a separate
fraternity at the south, not less marked than is the fraternity
of Park Lane bullies in New York. They have been arranged and
classified <94>by that great law of attraction, which determines
the spheres and affinities of men; which ordains, that men, whose
malign and brutal propensities predominate over their moral and
intellectual endowments, shall, naturally, fall into those
employments which promise the largest gratification to those
predominating instincts or propensities. The office of overseer
takes this raw material of vulgarity and brutality, and stamps it
as a distinct class of southern society. But, in this class, as
in all other classes, there are characters of marked
individuality, even while they bear a general resemblance to the
mass. Mr. Gore was one of those, to whom a general
characterization would do no manner of justice. He was an
overseer; but he was something more. With the malign and
tyrannical qualities of an overseer, he combined something of the
lawful master. He had the artfulness and the mean ambition of
his class; but he was wholly free from the disgusting swagger and
noisy bravado of his fraternity. There was an easy air of
independence about him; a calm self-possession, and a sternness
of glance, which might well daunt hearts less timid than those of
poor slaves, accustomed from childhood and through life to cower
before a driver's lash. The home plantation of Col. Lloyd
afforded an ample field for the exercise of the qualifications
for overseership, which he possessed in such an eminent degree.

Mr. Gore was one of those overseers, who could torture the
slightest word or look into impudence; he had the nerve, not only
to resent, but to punish, promptly and severely. He never
allowed himself to be answered back, by a slave. In this, he was
as lordly and as imperious as Col. Edward Lloyd, himself; acting
always up to the maxim, practically maintained by slaveholders,
that it is better that a dozen slaves suffer under the lash,
without fault, than that the master or the overseer should _seem_
to have been wrong in the presence of the slave. _Everything
must be absolute here_. Guilty or not guilty, it is enough to be
accused, to be sure of a flogging. The very presence of this man
Gore was <95 AUSTIN GORE>painful, and I shunned him as I would
have shunned a rattlesnake. His piercing, black eyes, and sharp,
shrill voice, ever awakened sensations of terror among the
slaves. For so young a man (I describe him as he was, twenty-
five or thirty years ago) Mr. Gore was singularly reserved and
grave in the presence of slaves. He indulged in no jokes, said
no funny things, and kept his own counsels. Other overseers, how
brutal soever they might be, were, at times, inclined to gain
favor with the slaves, by indulging a little pleasantry; but Gore
was never known to be guilty of any such weakness. He was always
the cold, distant, unapproachable _overseer_ of Col. Edward
Lloyd's plantation, and needed no higher pleasure than was
involved in a faithful discharge of the duties of his office.
When he whipped, he seemed to do so from a sense of duty, and
feared no consequences. What Hopkins did reluctantly, Gore did
with alacrity. There was a stern will, an iron-like reality,
about this Gore, which would have easily made him the chief of a
band of pirates, had his environments been favorable to such a
course of life. All the coolness, savage barbarity and freedom
from moral restraint, which are necessary in the character of a
pirate-chief, centered, I think, in this man Gore. Among many
other deeds of shocking cruelty which he perpetrated, while I was
at Mr. Lloyd's, was the murder of a young colored man, named
Denby. He was sometimes called Bill Denby, or Demby; (I write
from sound, and the sounds on Lloyd's plantation are not very
certain.) I knew him well. He was a powerful young man, full of
animal spirits, and, so far as I know, he was among the most
valuable of Col. Lloyd's slaves. In something--I know not what--
he offended this Mr. Austin Gore, and, in accordance with the
custom of the latter, he under took to flog him. He gave Denby
but few stripes; the latter broke away from him and plunged into
the creek, and, standing there to the depth of his neck in water,
he refused to come out at the order of the overseer; whereupon,
for this refusal, _Gore shot him dead!_ It is said that Gore
gave Denby three calls, telling him that <96>if he did not obey
the last call, he would shoot him. When the third call was
given, Denby stood his ground firmly; and this raised the
question, in the minds of the by-standing slaves--"Will he dare
to shoot?" Mr. Gore, without further parley, and without making
any further effort to induce Denby to come out of the water,
raised his gun deliberately to his face, took deadly aim at his
standing victim, and, in an instant, poor Denby was numbered with
the dead. His mangled body sank out of sight, and only his warm,
red blood marked the place where he had stood.

This devilish outrage, this fiendish murder, produced, as it was
well calculated to do, a tremendous sensation. A thrill of
horror flashed through every soul on the plantation, if I may
except the guilty wretch who had committed the hell-black deed.
While the slaves generally were panic-struck, and howling with
alarm, the murderer himself was calm and collected, and appeared
as though nothing unusual had happened. The atrocity roused my
old master, and he spoke out, in reprobation of it; but the whole
thing proved to be less than a nine days' wonder. Both Col.
Lloyd and my old master arraigned Gore for his cruelty in the
matter, but this amounted to nothing. His reply, or
explanation--as I remember to have heard it at the time was, that
the extraordinary expedient was demanded by necessity; that Denby
had become unmanageable; that he had set a dangerous example to
the other slaves; and that, without some such prompt measure as
that to which he had resorted, were adopted, there would be an
end to all rule and order on the plantation. That very
convenient covert for all manner of cruelty and outrage that
cowardly alarm-cry, that the slaves would _"take the place,"_ was
pleaded, in extenuation of this revolting crime, just as it had
been cited in defense of a thousand similar ones. He argued,
that if one slave refused to be corrected, and was allowed to
escape with his life, when he had been told that he should lose
it if he persisted in his course, the other slaves would soon
copy his example; the result of which would be, the freedom of
the slaves, and the enslavement of the <97 HOW GORE MADE PEACE
WITH COL. LLOYD>whites. I have every reason to believe that Mr.
Gore's defense, or explanation, was deemed satisfactory--at least
to Col. Lloyd. He was continued in his office on the plantation.
His fame as an overseer went abroad, and his horrid crime was not
even submitted to judicial investigation. The murder was
committed in the presence of slaves, and they, of course, could
neither institute a suit, nor testify against the murderer. His
bare word would go further in a court of law, than the united
testimony of ten thousand black witnesses.

All that Mr. Gore had to do, was to make his peace with Col.
Lloyd. This done, and the guilty perpetrator of one of the most
foul murders goes unwhipped of justice, and uncensured by the
community in which he lives. Mr. Gore lived in St. Michael's,
Talbot county, when I left Maryland; if he is still alive he
probably yet resides there; and I have no reason to doubt that he
is now as highly esteemed, and as greatly respected, as though
his guilty soul had never been stained with innocent blood. I am
well aware that what I have now written will by some be branded
as false and malicious. It will be denied, not only that such a
thing ever did transpire, as I have now narrated, but that such a
thing could happen in _Maryland_. I can only say--believe it or
not--that I have said nothing but the literal truth, gainsay it
who may.

I speak advisedly when I say this,--that killing a slave, or any
colored person, in Talbot county, Maryland, is not treated as a
crime, either by the courts or the community. Mr. Thomas Lanman,
ship carpenter, of St. Michael's, killed two slaves, one of whom
he butchered with a hatchet, by knocking his brains out. He used
to boast of the commission of the awful and bloody deed. I have
heard him do so, laughingly, saying, among other things, that he
was the only benefactor of his country in the company, and that
when "others would do as much as he had done, we should be
relieved of the d--d niggers."

As an evidence of the reckless disregard of human life where the
life is that of a slave I may state the notorious fact, that the
<98>wife of Mr. Giles Hicks, who lived but a short distance from
Col. Lloyd's, with her own hands murdered my wife's cousin, a
young girl between fifteen and sixteen years of age--mutilating
her person in a most shocking manner. The atrocious woman, in
the paroxysm of her wrath, not content with murdering her victim,
literally mangled her face, and broke her breast bone. Wild,
however, and infuriated as she was, she took the precaution to
cause the slave-girl to be buried; but the facts of the case
coming abroad, very speedily led to the disinterment of the
remains of the murdered slave-girl. A coroner's jury was
assembled, who decided that the girl had come to her death by
severe beating. It was ascertained that the offense for which
this girl was thus hurried out of the world, was this: she had
been set that night, and several preceding nights, to mind Mrs.
Hicks's baby, and having fallen into a sound sleep, the baby
cried, waking Mrs. Hicks, but not the slave-girl. Mrs. Hicks,
becoming infuriated at the girl's tardiness, after calling
several times, jumped from her bed and seized a piece of fire-
wood from the fireplace; and then, as she lay fast asleep, she
deliberately pounded in her skull and breast-bone, and thus ended
her life. I will not say that this most horrid murder produced
no sensation in the community. It _did_ produce a sensation;
but, incredible to tell, the moral sense of the community was
blunted too entirely by the ordinary nature of slavery horrors,
to bring the murderess to punishment. A warrant was issued for
her arrest, but, for some reason or other, that warrant was never
served. Thus did Mrs. Hicks not only escape condign punishment,
but even the pain and mortification of being arraigned before a
court of justice.

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

On the side of the river Wye, opposite from Col. Lloyd's, there
lived a Mr. Beal Bondley, a wealthy slaveholder. In the
direction <99 NO LAW PROTECTS THE SLAVE>of his land, and near the
shore, there was an excellent oyster fishing ground, and to this,
some of the slaves of Col. Lloyd occasionally resorted in their
little canoes, at night, with a view to make up the deficiency of
their scanty allowance of food, by the oysters that they could
easily get there. This, Mr. Bondley took it into his head to
regard as a trespass, and while an old man belonging to Col.
Lloyd was engaged in catching a few of the many millions of
oysters that lined the bottom of that creek, to satisfy his
hunger, the villainous Mr. Bondley, lying in ambush, without the
slightest ceremony, discharged the contents of his musket into
the back and shoulders of the poor old man. As good fortune
would have it, the shot did not prove mortal, and Mr. Bondley
came over, the next day, to see Col. Lloyd--whether to pay him
for his property, or to justify himself for what he had done, I
know not; but this I _can_ say, the cruel and dastardly
transaction was speedily hushed up; there was very little said
about it at all, and nothing was publicly done which looked like
the application of the principle of justice to the man whom
_chance_, only, saved from being an actual murderer. One of the
commonest sayings to which my ears early became accustomed, on
Col. Lloyd's plantation and elsewhere in Maryland, was, that it
was _"worth but half a cent to kill a nigger, and a half a cent
to bury him;"_ and the facts of my experience go far to justify
the practical truth of this strange proverb. Laws for the
protection of the lives of the slaves, are, as they must needs
be, utterly incapable of being enforced, where the very parties
who are nominally protected, are not permitted to give evidence,
in courts of law, against the only class of persons from whom
abuse, outrage and murder might be reasonably apprehended. While
I heard of numerous murders committed by slaveholders on the
Eastern Shores of Maryland, I never knew a solitary instance in
which a slaveholder was either hung or imprisoned for having
murdered a slave. The usual pretext for killing a slave is, that
the slave has offered resistance. Should a slave, when
assaulted, but raise his hand in self defense, the white
assaulting <100>party is fully justified by southern, or
Maryland, public opinion, in shooting the slave down. Sometimes
this is done, simply because it is alleged that the slave has
been saucy. But here I leave this phase of the society of my
early childhood, and will relieve the kind reader of these heart-
sickening details.



_Personal Treatment_



I have nothing cruel or shocking to relate of my own personal
experience, while I remained on Col. Lloyd's plantation, at the
home of my old master. An occasional cuff from Aunt Katy, and a
regular whipping from old master, such as any heedless and
mischievous boy might get from his father, is all that I can
mention of this sort. I was not old enough to work in the field,
and, there being little else than field work to perform, I had
much leisure. The most I had to do, was, to drive up the cows in
the evening, to keep the front yard clean, and to perform small
errands for my young mistress, Lucretia Auld. I have reasons for
thinking this lady was very kindly disposed toward me, and,
although I was not often the object of her attention, I
constantly regarded her as my friend, and was always glad when it
was my privilege to do her a service. In a family where there
was so much that was harsh, cold and indifferent, the slightest
word or look of kindness passed, with me, for its full value.
Miss Lucretia--<102>as we all continued to call her long after
her marriage--had bestowed upon me such words and looks as taught
me that she pitied me, if she did not love me. In addition to
words and looks, she sometimes gave me a piece of bread and
butter; a thing not set down in the bill of fare, and which must
have been an extra ration, planned aside from either Aunt Katy or
old master, solely out of the tender regard and friendship she
had for me. Then, too, I one day got into the wars with Uncle
Able's son, "Ike," and had got sadly worsted; in fact, the little
rascal had struck me directly in the forehead with a sharp piece
of cinder, fused with iron, from the old blacksmith's forge,
which made a cross in my forehead very plainly to be seen now.
The gash bled very freely, and I roared very loudly and betook
myself home. The coldhearted Aunt Katy paid no attention either
to my wound or my roaring, except to tell me it served me right;
I had no business with Ike; it was good for me; I would now keep
away _"from dem Lloyd niggers."_ Miss Lucretia, in this state of
the case, came forward; and, in quite a different spirit from
that manifested by Aunt Katy, she called me into the parlor (an
extra privilege of itself) and, without using toward me any of
the hard-hearted and reproachful epithets of my kitchen
tormentor, she quietly acted the good Samaritan. With her own
soft hand she washed the blood from my head and face, fetched her
own balsam bottle, and with the balsam wetted a nice piece of
white linen, and bound up my head. The balsam was not more
healing to the wound in my head, than her kindness was healing to
the wounds in my spirit, made by the unfeeling words of Aunt
Katy. After this, Miss Lucretia was my friend. I felt her to be
such; and I have no doubt that the simple act of binding up my
head, did much to awaken in her mind an interest in my welfare.
It is quite true, that this interest was never very marked, and
it seldom showed itself in anything more than in giving me a
piece of bread when I was hungry; but this was a great favor on a
slave plantation, and I was the only one of the children to whom
such attention was paid. <103 REALMS OF SUNLIGHT>When very
hungry, I would go into the back yard and play under Miss
Lucretia's window. When pretty severely pinched by hunger, I had
a habit of singing, which the good lady very soon came to
understand as a petition for a piece of bread. When I sung under
Miss Lucretia's window, I was very apt to get well paid for my
music. The reader will see that I now had two friends, both at
important points--Mas' Daniel at the great house, and Miss
Lucretia at home. From Mas' Daniel I got protection from the
bigger boys; and from Miss Lucretia I got bread, by singing when
I was hungry, and sympathy when I was abused by that termagant,
who had the reins of government in the kitchen. For such
friendship I felt deeply grateful, and bitter as are my
recollections of slavery, I love to recall any instances of
kindness, any sunbeams of humane treatment, which found way to my
soul through the iron grating of my house of bondage. Such beams
seem all the brighter from the general darkness into which they
penetrate, and the impression they make is vividly distinct and

As I have before intimated, I was seldom whipped--and never
severely--by my old master. I suffered little from the treatment
I received, except from hunger and cold. These were my two great
physical troubles. I could neither get a sufficiency of food nor
of clothing; but I suffered less from hunger than from cold. In
hottest summer and coldest winter, I was kept almost in a state
of nudity; no shoes, no stockings, no jacket, no trowsers;
nothing but coarse sackcloth or tow-linen, made into a sort of
shirt, reaching down to my knees. This I wore night and day,
changing it once a week. In the day time I could protect myself
pretty well, by keeping on the sunny side of the house; and in
bad weather, in the corner of the kitchen chimney. The great
difficulty was, to keep warm during the night. I had no bed.
The pigs in the pen had leaves, and the horses in the stable had
straw, but the children had no beds. They lodged anywhere in the
ample kitchen. I slept, generally, in a little closet, without
even a blanket to cover me. In very cold weather. I sometimes
got down the bag in which corn<104>meal was usually carried to
the mill, and crawled into that. Sleeping there, with my head in
and feet out, I was partly protected, though not comfortable. My
feet have been so cracked with the frost, that the pen with which
I am writing might be laid in the gashes. The manner of taking
our meals at old master's, indicated but little refinement. Our
corn-meal mush, when sufficiently cooled, was placed in a large
wooden tray, or trough, like those used in making maple sugar
here in the north. This tray was set down, either on the floor
of the kitchen, or out of doors on the ground; and the children
were called, like so many pigs; and like so many pigs they would
come, and literally devour the mush--some with oyster shells,
some with pieces of shingles, and none with spoons. He that eat
fastest got most, and he that was strongest got the best place;
and few left the trough really satisfied. I was the most unlucky
of any, for Aunt Katy had no good feeling for me; and if I pushed
any of the other children, or if they told her anything
unfavorable of me, she always believed the worst, and was sure to
whip me.

As I grew older and more thoughtful, I was more and more filled
with a sense of my wretchedness. The cruelty of Aunt Katy, the
hunger and cold I suffered, and the terrible reports of wrong and
outrage which came to my ear, together with what I almost daily
witnessed, led me, when yet but eight or nine years old, to wish
I had never been born. I used to contrast my condition with the
black-birds, in whose wild and sweet songs I fancied them so
happy! Their apparent joy only deepened the shades of my sorrow.
There are thoughtful days in the lives of children--at least
there were in mine when they grapple with all the great, primary
subjects of knowledge, and reach, in a moment, conclusions which
no subsequent experience can shake. I was just as well aware of
the unjust, unnatural and murderous character of slavery, when
nine years old, as I am now. Without any appeal to books, to
laws, or to authorities of any kind, it was enough to accept God
as a father, to regard slavery as a crime.

I was not ten years old when I left Col. Lloyd's plantation for
Balitmore{sic}. I left that plantation with inexpressible joy.
I never shall forget the ecstacy with which I received the
intelligence from my friend, Miss Lucretia, that my old master
had determined to let me go to Baltimore to live with Mr. Hugh
Auld, a brother to Mr. Thomas Auld, my old master's son-in-law.
I received this information about three days before my departure.
They were three of the happiest days of my childhood. I spent
the largest part of these three days in the creek, washing off
the plantation scurf, and preparing for my new home. Mrs.
Lucretia took a lively interest in getting me ready. She told me
I must get all the dead skin off my feet and knees, before I
could go to Baltimore, for the people there were very cleanly,
and would laugh at me if I looked dirty; and, besides, she was
intending to give me a pair of trowsers, which I should not put
on unless I got all the dirt off. This was a warning to which I
was bound to take heed; for the thought of owning a pair of
trowsers, was great, indeed. It was almost a sufficient motive,
not only to induce me to scrub off the _mange_ (as pig drovers
would call it) but the skin as well. So I went at it in good
earnest, working for the first time in the hope of reward. I was
greatly excited, and could hardly consent to sleep, lest I should
be left. The ties that, ordinarily, bind children to their
homes, were all severed, or they never had any existence in my
case, at least so far as the home plantation of Col. L. was
concerned. I therefore found no severe trail at the moment of my
departure, such as I had experienced when separated from my home
in Tuckahoe. My home at my old master's was charmless to me; it
was not home, but a prison to me; on parting from it, I could not
feel that I was leaving anything which I could have enjoyed by
staying. My mother was now long dead; my grandmother was far
away, so that I seldom saw her; Aunt Katy was my unrelenting
tormentor; and my two sisters and brothers, owing to our early
separation in life, and the family-destroying power of slavery,
were, comparatively, stran<106>gers to me. The fact of our
relationship was almost blotted out. I looked for _home_
elsewhere, and was confident of finding none which I should
relish less than the one I was leaving. If, however, I found in
my new home to which I was going with such blissful
anticipations--hardship, whipping and nakedness, I had the
questionable consolation that I should not have escaped any one
of these evils by remaining under the management of Aunt Katy.
Then, too, I thought, since I had endured much in this line on
Lloyd's plantation, I could endure as much elsewhere, and
especially at Baltimore; for I had something of the feeling about
that city which is expressed in the saying, that being "hanged in
England, is better than dying a natural death in Ireland." I had
the strongest desire to see Baltimore. My cousin Tom--a boy two
or three years older than I--had been there, and though not
fluent (he stuttered immoderately) in speech, he had inspired me
with that desire, by his eloquent description of the place. Tom
was, sometimes, Capt. Auld's cabin boy; and when he came from
Baltimore, he was always a sort of hero amongst us, at least till
his Baltimore trip was forgotten. I could never tell him of
anything, or point out anything that struck me as beautiful or
powerful, but that he had seen something in Baltimore far
surpassing it. Even the great house itself, with all its
pictures within, and pillars without, he had the hardihood to say
"was nothing to Baltimore." He bought a trumpet (worth six
pence) and brought it home; told what he had seen in the windows
of stores; that he had heard shooting crackers, and seen
soldiers; that he had seen a steamboat; that there were ships in
Baltimore that could carry four such sloops as the "Sally Lloyd."
He said a great deal about the market-house; he spoke of the
bells ringing; and of many other things which roused my curiosity
very much; and, indeed, which heightened my hopes of happiness in
my new home.

We sailed out of Miles river for Baltimore early on a Saturday
morning. I remember only the day of the week; for, at that time,
<107 ARRIVAL AT BALTIMORE>I had no knowledge of the days of the
month, nor, indeed, of the months of the year. On setting sail,
I walked aft, and gave to Col. Lloyd's plantation what I hoped
would be the last look I should ever give to it, or to any place
like it. My strong aversion to the great farm, was not owing to
my own personal suffering, but the daily suffering of others, and
to the certainty that I must, sooner or later, be placed under
the barbarous rule of an overseer, such as the accomplished Gore,
or the brutal and drunken Plummer. After taking this last view,
I quitted the quarter deck, made my way to the bow of the sloop,
and spent the remainder of the day in looking ahead; interesting
myself in what was in the distance, rather than what was near by
or behind. The vessels, sweeping along the bay, were very
interesting objects. The broad bay opened like a shoreless ocean
on my boyish vision, filling me with wonder and admiration.

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

We arrived in Baltimore on Sunday morning, and landed at Smith's
wharf, not far from Bowly's wharf. We had on board the sloop a
large flock of sheep, for the Baltimore market; and, after
assisting in driving them to the slaughter house of Mr. Curtis,
on Loudon Slater's Hill, I was speedily conducted by Rich--one of
the hands belonging to the sloop--to my new home in Alliciana
street, near Gardiner's ship-yard, on Fell's Point. Mr. and Mrs.
Hugh Auld, my new mistress and master, were both at home, and met
me at the door with their rosy cheeked little son, Thomas,
<108>to take care of whom was to constitute my future occupation.
In fact, it was to "little Tommy," rather than to his parents,
that old master made a present of me; and though there was no
_legal_ form or arrangement entered into, I have no doubt that
Mr. and Mrs. Auld felt that, in due time, I should be the legal
property of their bright-eyed and beloved boy, Tommy. I was
struck with the appearance, especially, of my new mistress. Her
face was lighted with the kindliest emotions; and the reflex
influence of her countenance, as well as the tenderness with
which she seemed to regard me, while asking me sundry little
questions, greatly delighted me, and lit up, to my fancy, the
pathway of my future. Miss Lucretia was kind; but my new
mistress, "Miss Sophy," surpassed her in kindness of manner.
Little Thomas was affectionately told by his mother, that _"there
was his Freddy,"_ and that "Freddy would take care of him;" and I
was told to "be kind to little Tommy"--an injunction I scarcely
needed, for I had already fallen in love with the dear boy; and
with these little ceremonies I was initiated into my new home,
and entered upon my peculiar duties, with not a cloud above the

I may say here, that I regard my removal from Col. Lloyd's
plantation as one of the most interesting and fortunate events of
my life. Viewing it in the light of human likelihoods, it is
quite probable that, but for the mere circumstance of being thus
removed before the rigors of slavery had fastened upon me; before
my young spirit had been crushed under the iron control of the
slave-driver, instead of being, today, a FREEMAN, I might have
been wearing the galling chains of slavery. I have sometimes
felt, however, that there was something more intelligent than
_chance_, and something more certain than _luck_, to be seen in
the circumstance. If I have made any progress in knowledge; if I
have cherished any honorable aspirations, or have, in any manner,
worthily discharged the duties of a member of an oppressed
people; this little circumstance must be allowed its due weight
<109 A TURNING POINT IN MY HISTORY>in giving my life that
direction. I have ever regarded it as the first plain
manifestation of that

_Divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough hew them as we will_.


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

I may be deemed superstitious and egotistical, in regarding this
event as a special interposition of Divine Providence in my
favor; but the thought is a part of my history, and I should be
false to the earliest and most cherished sentiments of my soul,
if I suppressed, or hesitated to avow that opinion, although it
may be characterized as irrational by the wise, and ridiculous by
the scoffer. From my earliest recollections of serious matters,
I date the entertainment of something like an ineffaceable
conviction, that slavery would not always be able to hold me
within its foul embrace; and this conviction, like a word of
living faith, strengthened me through the darkest trials of my
lot. This good spirit was from God; and to him I offer
thanksgiving and praise.


_Life in Baltimore_



Once in Baltimore, with hard brick pavements under my feet, which
almost raised blisters, by their very heat, for it was in the
height of summer; walled in on all sides by towering brick
buildings; with troops of hostile boys ready to pounce upon me at
every street corner; with new and strange objects glaring upon me
at every step, and with startling sounds reaching my ears from
all directions, I for a time thought that, after all, the home
plantation was a more desirable place of residence than my home
on Alliciana street, in Baltimore. My country eyes and ears were
confused and bewildered here; but the boys were my chief trouble.
They chased me, and called me _"Eastern Shore man,"_ till really
I almost wished myself back on the Eastern Shore. I had to
undergo a sort of moral acclimation, and when that was over, I
did much better. My new mistress happily proved to be all she
_seemed_ to be, when, with her husband, she met me at <111
KINDNESS OF MY NEW MISTRESS>the door, with a most beaming,
benignant countenance. She was, naturally, of an excellent
disposition, kind, gentle and cheerful. The supercilious
contempt for the rights and feelings of the slave, and the
petulance and bad humor which generally characterize slaveholding
ladies, were all quite absent from kind "Miss" Sophia's manner
and bearing toward me. She had, in truth, never been a
slaveholder, but had--a thing quite unusual in the south--
depended almost entirely upon her own industry for a living. To
this fact the dear lady, no doubt, owed the excellent
preservation of her natural goodness of heart, for slavery can
change a saint into a sinner, and an angel into a demon. I
hardly knew how to behave toward "Miss Sopha," as I used to call
Mrs. Hugh Auld. I had been treated as a _pig_ on the plantation;
I was treated as a _child_ now. I could not even approach her as
I had formerly approached Mrs. Thomas Auld. How could I hang
down my head, and speak with bated breath, when there was no
pride to scorn me, no coldness to repel me, and no hatred to
inspire me with fear? I therefore soon learned to regard her as
something more akin to a mother, than a slaveholding mistress.
The crouching servility of a slave, usually so acceptable a
quality to the haughty slaveholder, was not understood nor
desired by this gentle woman. So far from deeming it impudent in
a slave to look her straight in the face, as some slaveholding
ladies do, she seemed ever to say, "look up, child; don't be
afraid; see, I am full of kindness and good will toward you."
The hands belonging to Col. Lloyd's sloop, esteemed it a great
privilege to be the bearers of parcels or messages to my new
mistress; for whenever they came, they were sure of a most kind
and pleasant reception. If little Thomas was her son, and her
most dearly beloved child, she, for a time, at least, made me
something like his half-brother in her affections. If dear Tommy
was exalted to a place on his mother's knee, "Feddy" was honored
by a place at his mother's side. Nor did he lack the caressing
strokes of her gentle hand, to convince him that, though
_motherless_, he was not _friendless_. Mrs. Auld <112>was not
only a kind-hearted woman, but she was remarkably pious; frequent
in her attendance of public worship, much given to reading the
bible, and to chanting hymns of praise, when alone. Mr. Hugh
Auld was altogether a different character. He cared very little
about religion, knew more of the world, and was more of the
world, than his wife. He set out, doubtless to be--as the world
goes--a respectable man, and to get on by becoming a successful
ship builder, in that city of ship building. This was his
ambition, and it fully occupied him. I was, of course, of very
little consequence to him, compared with what I was to good Mrs.
Auld; and, when he smiled upon me, as he sometimes did, the smile
was borrowed from his lovely wife, and, like all borrowed light,
was transient, and vanished with the source whence it was
derived. While I must characterize Master Hugh as being a very
sour man, and of forbidding appearance, it is due to him to
acknowledge, that he was never very cruel to me, according to the
notion of cruelty in Maryland. The first year or two which I
spent in his house, he left me almost exclusively to the
management of his wife. She was my law-giver. In hands so
tender as hers, and in the absence of the cruelties of the
plantation, I became, both physically and mentally, much more
sensitive to good and ill treatment; and, perhaps, suffered more
from a frown from my mistress, than I formerly did from a cuff at
the hands of Aunt Katy. Instead of the cold, damp floor of my
old master's kitchen, I found myself on carpets; for the corn bag
in winter, I now had a good straw bed, well furnished with
covers; for the coarse corn-meal in the morning, I now had good
bread, and mush occasionally; for my poor tow-lien shirt,
reaching to my knees, I had good, clean clothes. I was really
well off. My employment was to run errands, and to take care of
Tommy; to prevent his getting in the way of carriages, and to
keep him out of harm's way generally. Tommy, and I, and his
mother, got on swimmingly together, for a time. I say _for a
time_, because the fatal poison of irresponsible power, and the
natural influence <113 LEARNING TO READ>of slavery customs, were
not long in making a suitable impression on the gentle and loving
disposition of my excellent mistress. At first, Mrs. Auld
evidently regarded me simply as a child, like any other child;
she had not come to regard me as _property_. This latter thought
was a thing of conventional growth. The first was natural and
spontaneous. A noble nature, like hers, could not, instantly, be
wholly perverted; and it took several years to change the natural
sweetness of her temper into fretful bitterness. In her worst
estate, however, there were, during the first seven years I lived
with her, occasional returns of her former kindly disposition.

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

Master Hugh was amazed at the simplicity of his spouse, and,
probably for the first time, he unfolded to her the true
philosophy of slavery, and the peculiar rules necessary to be
observed by masters and mistresses, in the management of their
human chattels. Mr. Auld promptly forbade continuance of her
instruction; telling her, in the first place, that the thing
itself was unlawful; that it was also unsafe, and could only lead
to mischief. To use <114>his own words, further, he said, "if
you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell;" "he should know
nothing but the will of his master, and learn to obey it." "if
you teach that nigger--speaking of myself--how to read the bible,
there will be no keeping him;" "it would forever unfit him for
the duties of a slave;" and "as to himself, learning would do him
no good, but probably, a great deal of harm--making him
disconsolate and unhappy." "If you learn him now to read, he'll
want to know how to write; and, this accomplished, he'll be
running away with himself." Such was the tenor of Master Hugh's
oracular exposition of the true philosophy of training a human
chattel; and it must be confessed that he very clearly
comprehended the nature and the requirements of the relation of
master and slave. His discourse was the first decidedly anti-
slavery lecture to which it had been my lot to listen. Mrs. Auld
evidently felt the force of his remarks; and, like an obedient
wife, began to shape her course in the direction indicated by her
husband. The effect of his words, _on me_, was neither slight
nor transitory. His iron sentences--cold and harsh--sunk deep
into my heart, and stirred up not only my feelings into a sort of
rebellion, but awakened within me a slumbering train of vital
thought. It was a new and special revelation, dispelling a
painful mystery, against which my youthful understanding had
struggled, and struggled in vain, to wit: the _white_ man's power
to perpetuate the enslavement of the _black_ man. "Very well,"
thought I; "knowledge unfits a child to be a slave." I
instinctively assented to the proposition; and from that moment I
understood the direct pathway from slavery to freedom. This was
just what I needed; and I got it at a time, and from a source,
whence I least expected it. I was saddened at the thought of
losing the assistance of my kind mistress; but the information,
so instantly derived, to some extent compensated me for the loss
I had sustained in this direction. Wise as Mr. Auld was, he
evidently underrated my comprehension, and had little idea of the
use to which I was capable of putting <115 CITY SLAVES AND
COUNTRYSLAVES>the impressive lesson he was giving to his wife.
_He_ wanted me to be _a slave;_ I had already voted against that
on the home plantation of Col. Lloyd. That which he most loved I
most hated; and the very determination which he expressed to keep
me in ignorance, only rendered me the more resolute in seeking
intelligence. In learning to read, therefore, I am not sure that
I do not owe quite as much to the opposition of my master, as to
the kindly assistance of my amiable mistress. I acknowledge the
benefit rendered me by the one, and by the other; believing, that
but for my mistress, I might have grown up in ignorance.

I had resided but a short time in Baltimore, before I observed a
marked difference in the manner of treating slaves, generally,
from which I had witnessed in that isolated and out-of-the-way
part of the country where I began life. A city slave is almost a
free citizen, in Baltimore, compared with a slave on Col. Lloyd's
plantation. He is much better fed and clothed, is less dejected
in his appearance, and enjoys privileges altogether unknown to
the whip-driven slave on the plantation. Slavery dislikes a
dense population, in which there is a majority of non-
slaveholders. The general sense of decency that must pervade
such a population, does much to check and prevent those outbreaks
of atrocious cruelty, and those dark crimes without a name,
almost openly perpetrated on the plantation. He is a desperate
slaveholder who will shock the humanity of his non-slaveholding
neighbors, by the cries of the lacerated slaves; and very few in
the city are willing to incur the odium of being cruel masters.
I found, in Baltimore, that no man was more odious to the white,
as well as to the colored people, than he, who had the reputation
of starving his slaves. Work them, flog them, if need be, but
don't starve them. These are, however, some painful exceptions
to this rule. While it is quite true that most of the
slaveholders in Baltimore feed and clothe their slaves well,
there are others who keep up their country cruelties in the city.

An instance of this sort is furnished in the case of a family
<116>who lived directly opposite to our house, and were named
Hamilton. Mrs. Hamilton owned two slaves. Their names were
Henrietta and Mary. They had always been house slaves. One was
aged about twenty-two, and the other about fourteen. They were a
fragile couple by nature, and the treatment they received was
enough to break down the constitution of a horse. Of all the
dejected, emaciated, mangled and excoriated creatures I ever saw,
those two girls--in the refined, church going and Christian city
of Baltimore were the most deplorable. Of stone must that heart
be made, that could look upon Henrietta and Mary, without being
sickened to the core with sadness. Especially was Mary a heart-
sickening object. Her head, neck and shoulders, were literally
cut to pieces. I have frequently felt her head, and found it
nearly covered over with festering sores, caused by the lash of
her cruel mistress. I do not know that her master ever whipped
her, but I have often been an eye witness of the revolting and
brutal inflictions by Mrs. Hamilton; and what lends a deeper
shade to this woman's conduct, is the fact, that, almost in the
very moments of her shocking outrages of humanity and decency,
she would charm you by the sweetness of her voice and her seeming
piety. She used to sit in a large rocking chair, near the middle
of the room, with a heavy cowskin, such as I have elsewhere
described; and I speak within the truth when I say, that these
girls seldom passed that chair, during the day, without a blow
from that cowskin, either upon their bare arms, or upon their
shoulders. As they passed her, she would draw her cowskin and
give them a blow, saying, _"move faster, you black jip!"_ and,
again, _"take that, you black jip!"_ continuing, _"if you don't
move faster, I will give you more."_ Then the lady would go on,
singing her sweet hymns, as though her _righteous_ soul were
sighing for the holy realms of paradise.

Added to the cruel lashings to which these poor slave-girls were
subjected--enough in themselves to crush the spirit of men--they
were, really, kept nearly half starved; they seldom knew <117
MRS. HAMILTON'S CRUELTY TO HER SLAVES>what it was to eat a full
meal, except when they got it in the kitchens of neighbors, less
mean and stingy than the psalm-singing Mrs. Hamilton. I have
seen poor Mary contending for the offal, with the pigs in the
street. So much was the poor girl pinched, kicked, cut and
pecked to pieces, that the boys in the street knew her only by
the name of _"pecked,"_ a name derived from the scars and
blotches on her neck, head and shoulders.

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



_"A Change Came O'er the Spirit of My Dream"_



I lived in the family of Master Hugh, at Baltimore, seven years,
during which time--as the almanac makers say of the weather--my
condition was variable. The most interesting feature of my
history here, was my learning to read and write, under somewhat
marked disadvantages. In attaining this knowledge, I was
compelled to resort to indirections by no means congenial to my
nature, and which were really humiliating to me. My mistress--
who, as the reader has already seen, had begun to teach me was
suddenly checked in her benevolent design, by the strong advice
of her husband. In faithful compliance with this advice, the
good lady had not only ceased to instruct me, herself, but had
set her face as a flint against my learning to read by any means.
It is due, however, to my mistress to say, that she did not adopt
this course in all its stringency at the first. She either
thought it unnecessary, or she lacked the depravity indispensable
to shutting me up in <119 EFFECTS OF SLAVEHOLDING ON MY
MISTRESS>mental darkness. It was, at least, necessary for her to
have some training, and some hardening, in the exercise of the
slaveholder's prerogative, to make her equal to forgetting my
human nature and character, and to treating me as a thing
destitute of a moral or an intellectual nature. Mrs. Auld--my
mistress--was, as I have said, a most kind and tender-hearted
woman; and, in the humanity of her heart, and the simplicity of
her mind, she set out, when I first went to live with her, to
treat me as she supposed one human being ought to treat another.

It is easy to see, that, in entering upon the duties of a
slaveholder, some little experience is needed. Nature has done
almost nothing to prepare men and women to be either slaves or
slaveholders. Nothing but rigid training, long persisted in, can
perfect the character of the one or the other. One cannot easily
forget to love freedom; and it is as hard to cease to respect
that natural love in our fellow creatures. On entering upon the
career of a slaveholding mistress, Mrs. Auld was singularly
deficient; nature, which fits nobody for such an office, had done
less for her than any lady I had known. It was no easy matter to
induce her to think and to feel that the curly-headed boy, who
stood by her side, and even leaned on her lap; who was loved by
little Tommy, and who loved little Tommy in turn; sustained to
her only the relation of a chattel. I was _more_ than that, and
she felt me to be more than that. I could talk and sing; I could
laugh and weep; I could reason and remember; I could love and
hate. I was human, and she, dear lady, knew and felt me to be
so. How could she, then, treat me as a brute, without a mighty
struggle with all the noble powers of her own soul. That
struggle came, and the will and power of the husband was
victorious. Her noble soul was overthrown; but, he that
overthrew it did not, himself, escape the consequences. He, not
less than the other parties, was injured in his domestic peace by
the fall.

When I went into their family, it was the abode of happiness and
contentment. The mistress of the house was a model of
affec<120>tion and tenderness. Her fervent piety and watchful
uprightness made it impossible to see her without thinking and
feeling--"_that woman is a Christian_." There was no sorrow nor
suffering for which she had not a tear, and there was no innocent
joy for which she did not a smile. She had bread for the hungry,
clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came
within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her
of these excellent qualities, and her home of its early
happiness. Conscience cannot stand much violence. Once
thoroughly broken down, _who_ is he that can repair the damage?
It may be broken toward the slave, on Sunday, and toward the
master on Monday. It cannot endure such shocks. It must stand
entire, or it does not stand at all. If my condition waxed bad,
that of the family waxed not better. The first step, in the
wrong direction, was the violence done to nature and to
conscience, in arresting the benevolence that would have
enlightened my young mind. In ceasing to instruct me, she must
begin to justify herself _to_ herself; and, once consenting to
take sides in such a debate, she was riveted to her position.
One needs very little knowledge of moral philosophy, to see
_where_ my mistress now landed. She finally became even more
violent in her opposition to my learning to read, than was her
husband himself. She was not satisfied with simply doing as
_well_ as her husband had commanded her, but seemed resolved to
better his instruction. Nothing appeared to make my poor
mistress--after her turning toward the downward path--more angry,
than seeing me, seated in some nook or corner, quietly reading a
book or a newspaper. I have had her rush at me, with the utmost
fury, and snatch from my hand such newspaper or book, with
something of the wrath and consternation which a traitor might be
supposed to feel on being discovered in a plot by some dangerous

Mrs. Auld was an apt woman, and the advice of her husband, and
her own experience, soon demonstrated, to her entire
satisfaction, that education and slavery are incompatible with
each other. When this conviction was thoroughly established, I
was <121 HOW I PURSUED MY EDUCATION>most narrowly watched in all
my movements. If I remained in a separate room from the family
for any considerable length of time, I was sure to be suspected
of having a book, and was at once called upon to give an account
of myself. All this, however, was entirely _too late_. The
first, and never to be retraced, step had been taken. In
teaching me the alphabet, in the days of her simplicity and
kindness, my mistress had given me the _"inch,"_ and now, no
ordinary precaution could prevent me from taking the _"ell."_

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

Although slavery was a delicate subject, and very cautiously
talked about among grown up people in Maryland, I frequently
talked about it--and that very freely--with the white boys. I
<122>would, sometimes, say to them, while seated on a curb stone
or a cellar door, "I wish I could be free, as you will be when
you get to be men." "You will be free, you know, as soon as you
are twenty-one, and can go where you like, but I am a slave for
life. Have I not as good a right to be free as you have?" Words
like these, I observed, always troubled them; and I had no small
satisfaction in wringing from the boys, occasionally, that fresh
and bitter condemnation of slavery, that springs from nature,
unseared and unperverted. Of all consciences let me have those
to deal with which have not been bewildered by the cares of life.
I do not remember ever to have met with a _boy_, while I was in
slavery, who defended the slave system; but I have often had boys
to console me, with the hope that something would yet occur, by
which I might be made free. Over and over again, they have told
me, that "they believed I had as good a right to be free as
_they_ had;" and that "they did not believe God ever made any one
to be a slave." The reader will easily see, that such little
conversations with my play fellows, had no tendency to weaken my
love of liberty, nor to render me contented with my condition as
a slave.

When I was about thirteen years old, and had succeeded in
learning to read, every increase of knowledge, especially
respecting the FREE STATES, added something to the almost
intolerable burden of the thought--I AM A SLAVE FOR LIFE. To my
bondage I saw no end. It was a terrible reality, and I shall
never be able to tell how sadly that thought chafed my young
spirit. Fortunately, or unfortunately, about this time in my
life, I had made enough money to buy what was then a very popular
school book, viz: the _Columbian Orator_. I bought this addition
to my library, of Mr. Knight, on Thames street, Fell's Point,
Baltimore, and paid him fifty cents for it. I was first led to
buy this book, by hearing some little boys say they were going to
learn some little pieces out of it for the Exhibition. This
volume was, indeed, a rich treasure, and every opportunity
afforded me, for <123 _The Columbian Orator_--A DIALOGUE>a time,
was spent in diligently perusing it. Among much other
interesting matter, that which I had perused and reperused with
unflagging satisfaction, was a short dialogue between a master
and his slave. The slave is represented as having been
recaptured, in a second attempt to run away; and the master opens
the dialogue with an upbraiding speech, charging the slave with
ingratitude, and demanding to know what he has to say in his own
defense. Thus upbraided, and thus called upon to reply, the
slave rejoins, that he knows how little anything that he can say
will avail, seeing that he is completely in the hands of his
owner; and with noble resolution, calmly says, "I submit to my
fate." Touched by the slave's answer, the master insists upon
his further speaking, and recapitulates the many acts of kindness
which he has performed toward the slave, and tells him he is
permitted to speak for himself. Thus invited to the debate, the
quondam slave made a spirited defense of himself, and thereafter
the whole argument, for and against slavery, was brought out.
The master was vanquished at every turn in the argument; and
seeing himself to be thus vanquished, he generously and meekly
emancipates the slave, with his best wishes for his prosperity.
It is scarcely neccessary{sic} to say, that a dialogue, with such
an origin, and such an ending--read when the fact of my being a
slave was a constant burden of grief--powerfully affected me; and
I could not help feeling that the day might come, when the well-
directed answers made by the slave to the master, in this
instance, would find their counterpart in myself.

This, however, was not all the fanaticism which I found in this
_Columbian Orator_. I met there one of Sheridan's mighty
speeches, on the subject of Catholic Emancipation, Lord Chatham's
speech on the American war, and speeches by the great William
Pitt and by Fox. These were all choice documents to me, and I
read them, over and over again, with an interest that was ever
increasing, because it was ever gaining in intelligence; for the
more I read them, the better I understood them. The reading of
<124>these speeches added much to my limited stock of language,
and enabled me to give tongue to many interesting thoughts, which
had frequently flashed through my soul, and died away for want of
utterance. The mighty power and heart-searching directness of
truth, penetrating even the heart of a slaveholder, compelling
him to yield up his earthly interests to the claims of eternal
justice, were finely illustrated in the dialogue, just referred
to; and from the speeches of Sheridan, I got a bold and powerful
denunciation of oppression, and a most brilliant vindication of
the rights of man. Here was, indeed, a noble acquisition. If I
ever wavered under the consideration, that the Almighty, in some
way, ordained slavery, and willed my enslavement for his own
glory, I wavered no longer. I had now penetrated the secret of
all slavery and oppression, and had ascertained their true
foundation to be in the pride, the power and the avarice of man.
The dialogue and the speeches were all redolent of the principles
of liberty, and poured floods of light on the nature and
character of slavery. With a book of this kind in my hand, my
own human nature, and the facts of my experience, to help me, I
was equal to a contest with the religious advocates of slavery,
whether among the whites or among the colored people, for
blindness, in this matter, is not confined to the former. I have
met many religious colored people, at the south, who are under
the delusion that God requires them to submit to slavery, and to
wear their chains with meekness and humility. I could entertain
no such nonsense as this; and I almost lost my patience when I
found any colored man weak enough to believe such stuff.
Nevertheless, the increase of knowledge was attended with bitter,
as well as sweet results. The more I read, the more I was led to
abhor and detest slavery, and my enslavers. "Slaveholders,"
thought I, "are only a band of successful robbers, who left their
homes and went into Africa for the purpose of stealing and
reducing my people to slavery." I loathed them as the meanest
and the most wicked of men. As I read, behold! the very
discontent so graphically pre<125 MY EYES OPENED>dicted by Master
Hugh, had already come upon me. I was no longer the light-
hearted, gleesome boy, full of mirth and play, as when I landed
first at Baltimore. Knowledge had come; light had penetrated the
moral dungeon where I dwelt; and, behold! there lay the bloody
whip, for my back, and here was the iron chain; and my good,
_kind master_, he was the author of my situation. The revelation
haunted me, stung me, and made me gloomy and miserable. As I
writhed under the sting and torment of this knowledge, I almost
envied my fellow slaves their stupid contentment. This knowledge
opened my eyes to the horrible pit, and revealed the teeth of the
frightful dragon that was ready to pounce upon me, but it opened
no way for my escape. I have often wished myself a beast, or a
bird--anything, rather than a slave. I was wretched and gloomy,
beyond my ability to describe. I was too thoughtful to be happy.
It was this everlasting thinking which distressed and tormented
me; and yet there was no getting rid of the subject of my
thoughts. All nature was redolent of it. Once awakened by the
silver trump of knowledge, my spirit was roused to eternal
wakefulness. Liberty! the inestimable birthright of every man,
had, for me, converted every object into an asserter of this
great right. It was heard in every sound, and beheld in every
object. It was ever present, to torment me with a sense of my
wretched condition. The more beautiful and charming were the
smiles of nature, the more horrible and desolate was my
condition. I saw nothing without seeing it, and I heard nothing
without hearing it. I do not exaggerate, when I say, that it
looked from every star, smiled in every calm, breathed in every
wind, and moved in every storm.

I have no doubt that my state of mind had something to do with
the change in the treatment adopted, by my once kind mistress
toward me. I can easily believe, that my leaden, downcast, and
discontented look, was very offensive to her. Poor lady! She
did not know my trouble, and I dared not tell her. Could I have
freely made her acquainted with the real state of my mind, and
<126>given her the reasons therefor, it might have been well for
both of us. Her abuse of me fell upon me like the blows of the
false prophet upon his ass; she did not know that an _angel_
stood in the way; and--such is the relation of master and slave I
could not tell her. Nature had made us _friends;_ slavery made
us _enemies_. My interests were in a direction opposite to hers,
and we both had our private thoughts and plans. She aimed to
keep me ignorant; and I resolved to know, although knowledge only
increased my discontent. My feelings were not the result of any
marked cruelty in the treatment I received; they sprung from the
consideration of my being a slave at all. It was _slavery_--not
its mere _incidents_--that I hated. I had been cheated. I saw
through the attempt to keep me in ignorance; I saw that
slaveholders would have gladly made me believe that they were
merely acting under the authority of God, in making a slave of
me, and in making slaves of others; and I treated them as robbers
and deceivers. The feeding and clothing me well, could not atone
for taking my liberty from me. The smiles of my mistress could
not remove the deep sorrow that dwelt in my young bosom. Indeed,
these, in time, came only to deepen my sorrow. She had changed;
and the reader will see that I had changed, too. We were both
victims to the same overshadowing evil--_she_, as mistress, I, as
slave. I will not censure her harshly; she cannot censure me,
for she knows I speak but the truth, and have acted in my
opposition to slavery, just as she herself would have acted, in a
reverse of circumstances.



_Religious Nature Awakened_



Whilst in the painful state of mind described in the foregoing
chapter, almost regretting my very existence, because doomed to a
life of bondage, so goaded and so wretched, at times, that I was
even tempted to destroy my own life, I was keenly sensitive and
eager to know any, and every thing that transpired, having any
relation to the subject of slavery. I was all ears, all eyes,
whenever the words _slave, slavery_, dropped from the lips of any
white person, and the occasions were not unfrequent when these
words became leading ones, in high, social debate, at our house.
Every little while, I could hear Master Hugh, or some of his
company, speaking with much warmth and excitement about
_"abolitionists."_ Of _who_ or _what_ these were, I was totally
ignorant. I found, however, that whatever they might be, they
were most cordially hated and soundly abused by slaveholders, of
every grade. I very soon discovered, too, that slavery was, in
some <128>sort, under consideration, whenever the abolitionists
were alluded to. This made the term a very interesting one to
me. If a slave, for instance, had made good his escape from
slavery, it was generally alleged, that he had been persuaded and
assisted by the abolitionists. If, also, a slave killed his
master--as was sometimes the case--or struck down his overseer,
or set fire to his master's dwelling, or committed any violence
or crime, out of the common way, it was certain to be said, that
such a crime was the legitimate fruits of the abolition movement.
Hearing such charges often repeated, I, naturally enough,
received the impression that abolition--whatever else it might
be--could not be unfriendly to the slave, nor very friendly to
the slaveholder. I therefore set about finding out, if possible,
_who_ and _what_ the abolitionists were, and _why_ they were so
obnoxious to the slaveholders. The dictionary afforded me very
little help. It taught me that abolition was the "act of
abolishing;" but it left me in ignorance at the very point where
I most wanted information--and that was, as to the _thing_ to be
abolished. A city newspaper, the _Baltimore American_, gave me
the incendiary information denied me by the dictionary. In its
columns I found, that, on a certain day, a vast number of
petitions and memorials had been presented to congress, praying
for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and for
the abolition of the slave trade between the states of the Union.
This was enough. The vindictive bitterness, the marked caution,
the studied reverse, and the cumbrous ambiguity, practiced by our
white folks, when alluding to this subject, was now fully
explained. Ever, after that, when I heard the words "abolition,"
or "abolition movement," mentioned, I felt the matter one of a
personal concern; and I drew near to listen, when I could do so,
without seeming too solicitous and prying. There was HOPE in
those words. Ever and anon, too, I could see some terrible
denunciation of slavery, in our papers--copied from abolition
papers at the north--and the injustice of such denunciation
commented on. These I read with avidity. <129 ABOLITIONISM--THE
ENIGMA SOLVED>I had a deep satisfaction in the thought, that the
rascality of slaveholders was not concealed from the eyes of the
world, and that I was not alone in abhorring the cruelty and
brutality of slavery. A still deeper train of thought was
stirred. I saw that there was _fear_, as well as _rage_, in the
manner of speaking of the abolitionists. The latter, therefore,
I was compelled to regard as having some power in the country;
and I felt that they might, possibly, succeed in their designs.
When I met with a slave to whom I deemed it safe to talk on the
subject, I would impart to him so much of the mystery as I had
been able to penetrate. Thus, the light of this grand movement
broke in upon my mind, by degrees; and I must say, that, ignorant
as I then was of the philosophy of that movement, I believe in it
from the first--and I believed in it, partly, because I saw that
it alarmed the consciences of slaveholders. The insurrection of
Nathaniel Turner had been quelled, but the alarm and terror had
not subsided. The cholera was on its way, and the thought was
present, that God was angry with the white people because of
their slaveholding wickedness, and, therefore, his judgments were
abroad in the land. It was impossible for me not to hope much
from the abolition movement, when I saw it supported by the
Almighty, and armed with DEATH!

Previous to my contemplation of the anti-slavery movement, and
its probable results, my mind had been seriously awakened to the
subject of religion. I was not more than thirteen years old,
when I felt the need of God, as a father and protector. My
religious nature was awakened by the preaching of a white
Methodist minister, named Hanson. He thought that all men, great
and small, bond and free, were sinners in the sight of God; that
they were, by nature, rebels against His government; and that
they must repent of their sins, and be reconciled to God, through
Christ. I cannot say that I had a very distinct notion of what
was required of me; but one thing I knew very well--I was
wretched, and had no means of making myself otherwise. Moreover,
I knew that I could pray for light. I consulted a good colored
man, named <130>Charles Johnson; and, in tones of holy affection,
he told me to pray, and what to pray for. I was, for weeks, a
poor, brokenhearted mourner, traveling through the darkness and
misery of doubts and fears. I finally found that change of heart
which comes by "casting all one's care" upon God, and by having
faith in Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer, Friend, and Savior of
those who diligently seek Him.

After this, I saw the world in a new light. I seemed to live in
a new world, surrounded by new objects, and to be animated by new
hopes and desires. I loved all mankind--slaveholders not
excepted; though I abhorred slavery more than ever. My great
concern was, now, to have the world converted. The desire for
knowledge increased, and especially did I want a thorough
acquaintance with the contents of the bible. I have gathered
scattered pages from this holy book, from the filthy street
gutters of Baltimore, and washed and dried them, that in the
moments of my leisure, I might get a word or two of wisdom from
them. While thus religiously seeking knowledge, I became
acquainted with a good old colored man, named Lawson. A more
devout man than he, I never saw. He drove a dray for Mr. James
Ramsey, the owner of a rope-walk on Fell's Point, Baltimore.
This man not only prayed three time a day, but he prayed as he
walked through the streets, at his work--on his dray everywhere.
His life was a life of prayer, and his words (when he spoke to
his friends,) were about a better world. Uncle Lawson lived near
Master Hugh's house; and, becoming deeply attached to the old
man, I went often with him to prayer-meeting, and spent much of
my leisure time with him on Sunday. The old man could read a
little, and I was a great help to him, in making out the hard
words, for I was a better reader than he. I could teach him
_"the letter,"_ but he could teach me _"the spirit;"_ and high,
refreshing times we had together, in singing, praying and
glorifying God. These meetings with Uncle Lawson went on for a
long time, without the knowledge of Master Hugh or my mistress.
Both knew, how<131 FATHER LAWSON--OUR ATTACHMENT>ever, that I had
become religious, and they seemed to respect my conscientious
piety. My mistress was still a professor of religion, and
belonged to class. Her leader was no less a person than the Rev.
Beverly Waugh, the presiding elder, and now one of the bishops of
the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Waugh was then stationed
over Wilk street church. I am careful to state these facts, that
the reader may be able to form an idea of the precise influences
which had to do with shaping and directing my mind.

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

This pleasure was not long allowed me. Master Hugh became averse
to my going to Father Lawson's, and threatened to whip me if I
ever went there again. I now felt myself persecuted by a wicked
man; and I _would_ go to Father Lawson's, notwithstanding the
threat. The good old man had told me, that the "Lord had a great
work for me to do;" and I must prepare to do it; and that he had
been shown that I must preach the gospel. His words made a deep
impression on my mind, and I verily felt that some such work was
before me, though I could not see _how_ I should ever engage in
its performance. "The good Lord," he said, "would bring it to
pass in his own good time," and that I must go on reading and
studying the scriptures. The advice and the suggestions of Uncle
Lawson, were not without their influence upon my character and
destiny. He threw my thoughts into a channel from which they
have never entirely diverged. He fanned my already intense love
of knowledge into a flame, by assuring me that I was to be a
useful man in the world. When I would <132>say to him, "How can
these things be and what can _I_ do?" his simple reply was,
_"Trust in the Lord."_ When I told him that "I was a slave, and
a slave FOR LIFE," he said, "the Lord can make you free, my dear.
All things are possible with him, only _have faith in God."_
"Ask, and it shall be given." "If you want liberty," said the
good old man, "ask the Lord for it, _in faith_, AND HE WILL GIVE

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

I went, one day, on the wharf of Mr. Waters; and seeing two
Irishmen unloading a large scow of stone, or ballast I went on
board, unasked, and helped them. When we had finished the work,
one of the men came to me, aside, and asked me a number of
questions, and among them, if I were a slave. I told him "I was
a slave, and a slave for life." The good Irishman gave his
shoulders a shrug, and seemed deeply affected by the statement.
He said, "it was a pity so fine a little fellow as myself should
be a slave for life." They both had much to say about the
matter, and expressed the deepest sympathy with me, and the most
decided hatred of slavery. They went so far as to tell me that I
ought to run away, and go to the north; that I should find
friends there, and that I would be as free as anybody. I,
however, pretended not to be interested in what they said, for I
feared they might be treacherous. White men have been known to
encourage slaves to escape, and then--to get the reward--they
have kidnapped them, and returned them to their masters. And
while I mainly inclined to the notion that these men were honest
and meant me no ill, I feared it might be otherwise. I
nevertheless remembered their words and their advice, and looked
forward to an escape to the north, as a possible means of gaining
the liberty <133 HOW I LEARNED TO WRITE>for which my heart
panted. It was not my enslavement, at the then present time,
that most affected me; the being a slave _for life_, was the
saddest thought. I was too young to think of running away
immediately; besides, I wished to learn how to write, before
going, as I might have occasion to write my own pass. I now not
only had the hope of freedom, but a foreshadowing of the means by
which I might, some day, gain that inestimable boon. Meanwhile,
I resolved to add to my educational attainments the art of

After this manner I began to learn to write: I was much in the
ship yard--Master Hugh's, and that of Durgan & Bailey--and I
observed that the carpenters, after hewing and getting a piece of
timber ready for use, wrote on it the initials of the name of
that part of the ship for which it was intended. When, for
instance, a piece of timber was ready for the starboard side, it
was marked with a capital "S." A piece for the larboard side was
marked "L;" larboard forward, "L. F.;" larboard aft, was marked
"L. A.;" starboard aft, "S. A.;" and starboard forward "S. F." I
soon learned these letters, and for what they were placed on the

My work was now, to keep fire under the steam box, and to watch
the ship yard while the carpenters had gone to dinner. This
interval gave me a fine opportunity for copying the letters
named. I soon astonished myself with the ease with which I made
the letters; and the thought was soon present, "if I can make
four, I can make more." But having made these easily, when I met
boys about Bethel church, or any of our play-grounds, I entered
the lists with them in the art of writing, and would make the
letters which I had been so fortunate as to learn, and ask them
to "beat that if they could." With playmates for my teachers,
fences and pavements for my copy books, and chalk for my pen and
ink, I learned the art of writing. I, however, afterward adopted
various methods of improving my hand. The most successful, was
copying the _italics_ in Webster's spelling book, until <134>I
could make them all without looking on the book. By this time,
my little "Master Tommy" had grown to be a big boy, and had
written over a number of copy books, and brought them home. They
had been shown to the neighbors, had elicited due praise, and
were now laid carefully away. Spending my time between the ship
yard and house, I was as often the lone keeper of the latter as
of the former. When my mistress left me in charge of the house,
I had a grand time; I got Master Tommy's copy books and a pen and
ink, and, in the ample spaces between the lines, I wrote other
lines, as nearly like his as possible. The process was a tedious
one, and I ran the risk of getting a flogging for marring the
highly prized copy books of the oldest son. In addition to those
opportunities, sleeping, as I did, in the kitchen loft--a room
seldom visited by any of the family--I got a flour barrel up
there, and a chair; and upon the head of that barrel I have
written (or endeavored to write) copying from the bible and the
Methodist hymn book, and other books which had accumulated on my
hands, till late at night, and when all the family were in bed
and asleep. I was supported in my endeavors by renewed advice,
and by holy promises from the good Father Lawson, with whom I
continued to meet, and pray, and read the scriptures. Although
Master Hugh was aware of my going there, I must say, for his
credit, that he never executed his threat to whip me, for having
thus, innocently, employed-my leisure time.



_The Vicissitudes of Slave Life_



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

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

In a very short time after I went to Baltimore, my old master's
youngest son, Richard, died; and, in three years and six months
after his death, my old master himself died, leaving only his
son, Andrew, and his daughter, Lucretia, to share his estate.
The <136>old man died while on a visit to his daughter, in
Hillsborough, where Capt. Auld and Mrs. Lucretia now lived. The
former, having given up the command of Col. Lloyd's sloop, was
now keeping a store in that town.

Cut off, thus unexpectedly, Capt. Anthony died intestate; and his
property must now be equally divided between his two children,
Andrew and Lucretia.

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

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

That was a sad day for me, a sad day for little Tommy, and a sad
day for my dear Baltimore mistress and teacher, when I left for
the Eastern Shore, to be valued and divided. We, all three, wept
bitterly that day; for we might be parting, and we feared we were
parting, forever. No one could tell among which pile of chattels
I should be flung. Thus early, I got a foretaste of that painful
uncertainty which slavery brings to the ordinary lot of mortals.
Sickness, adversity and death may interfere with the plans and
purposes of all; but the slave has the added danger of changing
homes, changing hands, and of having separations unknown to other
men. Then, too, there was the intensified degradation of the
spectacle. What an assemblage! Men and women, young and old,
married and single; moral and intellectual beings, in open
contempt of their humanity, level at a blow with <137 DIVISION OF
OLD MASTER'S PROPERTY>horses, sheep, horned cattle and swine!
Horses and men--cattle and women--pigs and children--all holding
the same rank in the scale of social existence; and all subjected
to the same narrow inspection, to ascertain their value in gold
and silver--the only standard of worth applied by slaveholders to
slaves! How vividly, at that moment, did the brutalizing power
of slavery flash before me! Personality swallowed up in the
sordid idea of property! Manhood lost in chattelhood!

After the valuation, then came the division. This was an hour of
high excitement and distressing anxiety. Our destiny was now to
be _fixed for life_, and we had no more voice in the decision of
the question, than the oxen and cows that stood chewing at the
haymow. One word from the appraisers, against all preferences or
prayers, was enough to sunder all the ties of friendship and
affection, and even to separate husbands and wives, parents and
children. We were all appalled before that power, which, to
human seeming, could bless or blast us in a moment. Added to the
dread of separation, most painful to the majority of the slaves,
we all had a decided horror of the thought of falling into the
hands of Master Andrew. He was distinguished for cruelty and

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

The people of the north, and free people generally, I think, have
less attachment to the places where they are born and brought up,
than have the slaves. Their freedom to go and come, <138>to be
here and there, as they list, prevents any extravagant attachment
to any one particular place, in their case. On the other hand,
the slave is a fixture; he has no choice, no goal, no
destination; but is pegged down to a single spot, and must take
root here, or nowhere. The idea of removal elsewhere, comes,
generally, in the shape of a threat, and in punishment of crime.
It is, therefore, attended with fear and dread. A slave seldom
thinks of bettering his condition by being sold, and hence he
looks upon separation from his native place, with none of the
enthusiasm which animates the bosoms of young freemen, when they
contemplate a life in the far west, or in some distant country
where they intend to rise to wealth and distinction. Nor can
those from whom they separate, give them up with that
cheerfulness with which friends and relations yield each other
up, when they feel that it is for the good of the departing one
that he is removed from his native place. Then, too, there is
correspondence, and there is, at least, the hope of reunion,
because reunion is _possible_. But, with the slave, all these
mitigating circumstances are wanting. There is no improvement in
his condition _probable_,--no correspondence _possible_,--no
reunion attainable. His going out into the world, is like a
living man going into the tomb, who, with open eyes, sees himself
buried out of sight and hearing of wife, children and friends of
kindred tie.

In contemplating the likelihoods and possibilities of our
circumstances, I probably suffered more than most of my fellow
servants. I had known what it was to experience kind, and even
tender treatment; they had known nothing of the sort. Life, to
them, had been rough and thorny, as well as dark. They had--most
of them--lived on my old master's farm in Tuckahoe, and had felt
the reign of Mr. Plummer's rule. The overseer had written his
character on the living parchment of most of their backs, and
left them callous; my back (thanks to my early removal from the
plantation to Baltimore) was yet tender. I had left a kind
mistress <139 MY SAD PROSPECTS AND GRIEF>at Baltimore, who was
almost a mother to me. She was in tears when we parted, and the
probabilities of ever seeing her again, trembling in the balance
as they did, could not be viewed without alarm and agony. The
thought of leaving that kind mistress forever, and, worse still,
of being the slave of Andrew Anthony--a man who, but a few days
before the division of the property, had, in my presence, seized
my brother Perry by the throat, dashed him on the ground, and
with the heel of his boot stamped him on the head, until the
blood gushed from his nose and ears--was terrible! This fiendish
proceeding had no better apology than the fact, that Perry had
gone to play, when Master Andrew wanted him for some trifling
service. This cruelty, too, was of a piece with his general
character. After inflicting his heavy blows on my brother, on
observing me looking at him with intense astonishment, he said,
"_That_ is the way I will serve you, one of these days;" meaning,
no doubt, when I should come into his possession. This threat,
the reader may well suppose, was not very tranquilizing to my
feelings. I could see that he really thirsted to get hold of me.
But I was there only for a few days. I had not received any
orders, and had violated none, and there was, therefore, no
excuse for flogging me.

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

Capt. Thomas Auld and Mrs. Lucretia at once decided on my return
to Baltimore. They knew how sincerely and warmly Mrs. Hugh Auld
was attached to me, and how delighted Mr. Hugh's son would be to
have me back; and, withal, having no immediate use for one so
young, they willingly let me off to Baltimore.

I need not stop here to narrate my joy on returning to Baltimore,
nor that of little Tommy; nor the tearful joy of his mother;
<140>nor the evident saticfaction{sic} of Master Hugh. I was
just one month absent from Baltimore, before the matter was
decided; and the time really seemed full six months.

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

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

No alteration took place in the condition of the slaves, in
consequence of these deaths, yet I could not help feeling less
secure, after the death of my friend, Mrs. Lucretia, than I had
done during her life. While she lived, I felt that I had a
strong friend to plead for me in any emergency. Ten years ago,
while speaking of the state of things in our family, after the
events just named, I used this language:

Now all the property of my old master, slaves included, was in
the hands of strangers--strangers who had nothing to do in
accumulating it. Not a slave was left free. All remained
slaves, from youngest to oldest. If any one thing in my
experience, more than another, served to deepen my conviction of
the infernal character of slavery, and to fill me with
unutterable loathing of slaveholders, it was their base
ingratitude to my poor old grandmother. She had served my old
master faithfully from youth to old age. She had been the source
of all his wealth; she had peopled his plantation with slaves;
she had become a great-grandmother in his service. She had
rocked him in infancy, attended him in childhood, served him
through life, and at his death wiped from his icy brow the cold
death-sweat, and closed his eyes forever. She was nevertheless
left a slave--a slave for life--a slave in the hands of
strangers; and in their hands she saw her children, her
grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren, divided, like so many
sheep, without being gratified with the small privilege of a
single word, as to their or her own destiny. And, to cap the
climax of their base ingratitude and fiendish barbarity, my
grandmother, who was now very old, having outlived my old master
and all his children, having seen the beginning and end of all of
them, and her present owners finding she <141 DEATH OF MRS.
LUCRETIA>was of but little value, her frame already racked with
the pains of old age, and complete helplessness fast stealing
over her once active limbs, they took her to the woods, built her
a little hut, put up a little mud-chimney, and then made her
welcome to the privilege of supporting herself there in perfect
loneliness; thus virtually turning her out to die! If my poor
old grandmother now lives, she lives to suffer in utter
loneliness; she lives to remember and mourn over the loss of
children, the loss of grandchildren, and the loss of great-
grandchildren. They are, in the language of the slave's poet,

_Gone, gone, sold and gone,
To the rice swamp dank and lone,
Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings,
Where the noisome insect stings,
Where the fever-demon strews
Poison with the falling dews,
Where the sickly sunbeams glare
Through the hot and misty air:--
Gone, gone, sold and gone
To the rice swamp dank and lone,
From Virginia hills and waters--
Woe is me, my stolen daughters_!


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

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

Not long after his marriage, Master Thomas had a misunderstanding
with Master Hugh, and, as a means of punishing his brother, he
ordered him to send me home.

As the ground of misunderstanding will serve to illustrate the
character of southern chivalry, and humanity, I will relate it.

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

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

Here was another shock to my nerves, another breaking up of my
plans, and another severance of my religious and social
alliances. I was now a big boy. I had become quite useful to
several young colored men, who had made me their teacher. I had
taught some of them to read, and was accustomed to spend many of
my leisure hours with them. Our attachment was strong, and I
greatly dreaded the separation. But regrets, especially in a
slave, are unavailing. I was only a slave; my wishes were
nothing, and my happiness was the sport of my masters.

My regrets at now leaving Baltimore, were not for the same
reasons as when I before left that city, to be valued and handed
over to my proper owner. My home was not now the pleasant place
it had formerly been. A change had taken place, both in Master
Hugh, and in his once pious and affectionate wife. The influence
of brandy and bad company on him, and the influence of slavery
and social isolation upon her, had wrought disastrously upon the
<143 REASONS FOR REGRETTING THE CHANGE>characters of both.
Thomas was no longer "little Tommy," but was a big boy, and had
learned to assume the airs of his class toward me. My condition,
therefore, in the house of Master Hugh, was not, by any means, so
comfortable as in former years. My attachments were now outside
of our family. They were felt to those to whom I _imparted_
instruction, and to those little white boys from whom I
_received_ instruction. There, too, was my dear old father, the
pious Lawson, who was, in christian graces, the very counterpart
of "Uncle" Tom. The resemblance is so perfect, that he might
have been the original of Mrs. Stowe's christian hero. The
thought of leaving these dear friends, greatly troubled me, for I
was going without the hope of ever returning to Baltimore again;
the feud between Master Hugh and his brother being bitter and
irreconcilable, or, at least, supposed to be so.

In addition to thoughts of friends from whom I was parting, as I
supposed, _forever_, I had the grief of neglected chances of
escape to brood over. I had put off running away, until now I
was to be placed where the opportunities for escaping were much
fewer than in a large city like Baltimore.

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


_Experience in St. Michael's_



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

St. Michael's had, in former years, (previous to 1833, for that
was the year I went to reside there,) enjoyed some reputation as
a ship building community, but that business had almost entirely
given place to oyster fishing, for the Baltimore and Philadelphia
markets--a course of life highly unfavorable to morals, industry,
and manners. Miles river was broad, and its oyster fishing <145
ARRIVAL AT ST. MICHAEL'S>grounds were extensive; and the
fishermen were out, often, all day, and a part of the night,
during autumn, winter and spring. This exposure was an excuse
for carrying with them, in considerable quanties{sic}, spirituous
liquors, the then supposed best antidote for cold. Each canoe
was supplied with its jug of rum; and tippling, among this class
of the citizens of St. Michael's, became general. This drinking
habit, in an ignorant population, fostered coarseness, vulgarity
and an indolent disregard for the social improvement of the
place, so that it was admitted, by the few sober, thinking people
who remained there, that St. Michael's had become a very
_unsaintly_, as well as unsightly place, before I went there to

I left Baltimore for St. Michael's in the month of March, 1833.
I know the year, because it was the one succeeding the first
cholera in Baltimore, and was the year, also, of that strange
phenomenon, when the heavens seemed about to part with its starry
train. I witnessed this gorgeous spectacle, and was awe-struck.
The air seemed filled with bright, descending messengers from the
sky. It was about daybreak when I saw this sublime scene. I was
not without the suggestion, at the moment, that it might be the
harbinger of the coming of the Son of Man; and, in my then state
of mind, I was prepared to hail Him as my friend and deliverer.
I had read, that the "stars shall fall from heaven"; and they
were now falling. I was suffering much in my mind. It did seem
that every time the young tendrils of my affection became
attached, they were rudely broken by some unnatural outside
power; and I was beginning to look away to heaven for the rest
denied me on earth.

But, to my story. It was now more than seven years since I had
lived with Master Thomas Auld, in the family of my old master, on
Col. Lloyd's plantation. We were almost entire strangers to each
other; for, when I knew him at the house of my old master, it was
not as a _master_, but simply as "Captain Auld," who had married
old master's daughter. All my lessons concerning his <146>temper
and disposition, and the best methods of pleasing him, were yet
to be learnt. Slaveholders, however, are not very ceremonious in
approaching a slave; and my ignorance of the new material in
shape of a master was but transient. Nor was my mistress long in
making known her animus. She was not a "Miss Lucretia," traces
of whom I yet remembered, and the more especially, as I saw them
shining in the face of little Amanda, her daughter, now living
under a step-mother's government. I had not forgotten the soft
hand, guided by a tender heart, that bound up with healing balsam
the gash made in my head by Ike, the son of Abel. Thomas and
Rowena, I found to be a well-matched pair. _He_ was stingy, and
_she_ was cruel; and--what was quite natural in such cases--she
possessed the ability to make him as cruel as herself, while she
could easily descend to the level of his meanness. In the house
of Master Thomas, I was made--for the first time in seven years
to feel the pinchings of hunger, and this was not very easy to

For, in all the changes of Master Hugh's family, there was no
change in the bountifulness with which they supplied me with
food. Not to give a slave enough to eat, is meanness
intensified, and it is so recognized among slaveholders
generally, in Maryland. The rule is, no matter how coarse the
food, only let there be enough of it. This is the theory, and--
in the part of Maryland I came from--the general practice accords
with this theory. Lloyd's plantation was an exception, as was,
also, the house of Master Thomas Auld.

All know the lightness of Indian corn-meal, as an article of
food, and can easily judge from the following facts whether the
statements I have made of the stinginess of Master Thomas, are
borne out. There were four slaves of us in the kitchen, and four
whites in the great house Thomas Auld, Mrs. Auld, Hadaway Auld
(brother of Thomas Auld) and little Amanda. The names of the
slaves in the kitchen, were Eliza, my sister; Priscilla, my aunt;
Henny, my cousin; and myself. There were eight persons <147
STEALING--MODE OF VINDICATION>in the family. There was, each
week, one half bushel of corn-meal brought from the mill; and in
the kitchen, corn-meal was almost our exclusive food, for very
little else was allowed us. Out of this bushel of corn-meal, the
family in the great house had a small loaf every morning; thus
leaving us, in the kitchen, with not quite a half a peck per
week, apiece. This allowance was less than half the allowance of
food on Lloyd's plantation. It was not enough to subsist upon;
and we were, therefore, reduced to the wretched necessity of
living at the expense of our neighbors. We were compelled either
to beg, or to steal, and we did both. I frankly confess, that
while I hated everything like stealing, _as such_, I nevertheless
did not hesitate to take food, when I was hungry, wherever I
could find it. Nor was this practice the mere result of an
unreasoning instinct; it was, in my case, the result of a clear
apprehension of the claims of morality. I weighed and considered
the matter closely, before I ventured to satisfy my hunger by
such means. Considering that my labor and person were the
property of Master Thomas, and that I was by him deprived of the
necessaries of life necessaries obtained by my own labor--it was
easy to deduce the right to supply myself with what was my own.
It was simply appropriating what was my own to the use of my
master, since the health and strength derived from such food were
exerted in _his_ service. To be sure, this was stealing,
according to the law and gospel I heard from St. Michael's
pulpit; but I had already begun to attach less importance to what
dropped from that quarter, on that point, while, as yet, I
retained my reverence for religion. It was not always convenient
to steal from master, and the same reason why I might,
innocently, steal from him, did not seem to justify me in
stealing from others. In the case of my master, it was only a
question of _removal_--the taking his meat out of one tub, and
putting it into another; the ownership of the meat was not
affected by the transaction. At first, he owned it in the _tub_,
and last, he owned it in _me_. His meat house was not always
open. There was a strict watch kept on that <148>point, and the
key was on a large bunch in Rowena's pocket. A great many times
have we, poor creatures, been severely pinched with hunger, when
meat and bread have been moulding under the lock, while the key
was in the pocket of our mistress. This had been so when she
_knew_ we were nearly half starved; and yet, that mistress, with
saintly air, would kneel with her husband, and pray each morning
that a merciful God would bless them in basket and in store, and
save them, at last, in his kingdom. But I proceed with the

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

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

I shall here make a profession of faith which may shock some,
offend others, and be dissented from by all. It is this: Within
the bounds of his just earnings, I hold that the slave is fully
justified in helping himself to the _gold and silver, and the
best apparel of his master, or that of any other slaveholder; and
that such taking is not stealing in any just sense of that word_.

The morality of _free_ society can have no application to _slave_
society. Slaveholders have made it almost impossible for the
slave to commit any crime, known either to the laws of God or to
the laws of man. If he steals, he takes his own; if he kills his
master, <149 SELFISHNESS OF MASTER THOMAS>he imitates only the
heroes of the revolution. Slaveholders I hold to be individually
and collectively responsible for all the evils which grow out of
the horrid relation, and I believe they will be so held at the
judgment, in the sight of a just God. Make a man a slave, and
you rob him of moral responsibility. Freedom of choice is the
essence of all accountability. But my kind readers are,
probably, less concerned about my opinions, than about that which
more nearly touches my personal experience; albeit, my opinions
have, in some sort, been formed by that experience.

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

When I lived with him, I thought him incapable of a noble action.
The leading trait in his character was intense selfishness. I
think he was fully aware of this fact himself, and often tried to
conceal it. Capt. Auld was not a _born_ slaveholder--not a
birthright member of the slaveholding oligarchy. He was only a
slaveholder by _marriage-right;_ and, of all slaveholders, these
latter are, _by far_, the most exacting. There was in him all
the love of domination, the pride of mastery, and the swagger of
authority, but his rule lacked the vital element of consistency.
He could be cruel; but his methods of showing it were cowardly,
and evinced his meanness rather than his spirit. His commands
were strong, his enforcement weak.

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

Slaves, too, readily distinguish between the birthright bearing
of the original slaveholder and the assumed attitudes of the
accidental slaveholder; and while they cannot respect either,
they certainly despise the latter more than the former.

The luxury of having slaves wait upon him was something new to
Master Thomas; and for it he was wholly unprepared. He was a
slaveholder, without the ability to hold or manage his slaves.
We seldom called him "master," but generally addressed him by his
"bay craft" title--_Capt. Auld_." It is easy to see that such
conduct might do much to make him appear awkward, and,
consequently, fretful. His wife was especially solicitous to
have us call her husband "master." Is your _master_ at the
store?"--"Where is your _master_?"--"Go and tell your _master"_--
"I will make your _master_ acquainted with your conduct"--she
would say; but we were inapt scholars. Especially were I and my
sister Eliza inapt in this particular. Aunt Priscilla was less
stubborn and defiant in her spirit than Eliza and myself; and, I
think, her road was less rough than ours.

In the month of August, 1833, when I had almost become desperate
under the treatment of Master Thomas, and when I entertained more
strongly than ever the oft-repeated determination to run away, a
circumstance occurred which seemed to promise brighter and better
days for us all. At a Methodist camp-meeting, held in the Bay
Side (a famous place for campmeetings) about eight miles from St.
Michael's, Master Thomas came out with a profession of religion.
He had long been an object of interest to the church, and to the
ministers, as I had seen by the repeated visits and lengthy
exhortations of the latter. He was a fish quite worth catching,
for he had money and standing. In the community of St. Michael's
he was equal to the best citizen. He was strictly temperate;
_perhaps_, from principle, but most likely, from interest. There
was very little to do for him, to give him the appearance of
piety, and to make him a pillar in the church. Well, the camp-
meeting continued a week; people gathered from all parts of the
county, and two steamboat loads came from Baltimore. The ground
was happily chosen; seats were arranged; a stand erected; a rude
altar fenced in, fronting the preachers' stand, with straw in it
for the accommodation of <151 SOUTHERN CAMP MEETING>mourners.
This latter would hold at least one hundred persons. In front,
and on the sides of the preachers' stand, and outside the long
rows of seats, rose the first class of stately tents, each vieing
with the other in strength, neatness, and capacity for
accommodating its inmates. Behind this first circle of tents was
another, less imposing, which reached round the camp-ground to
the speakers' stand. Outside this second class of tents were
covered wagons, ox carts, and vehicles of every shape and size.
These served as tents to their owners. Outside of these, huge
fires were burning, in all directions, where roasting, and
boiling, and frying, were going on, for the benefit of those who
were attending to their own spiritual welfare within the circle.
_Behind_ the preachers' stand, a narrow space was marked out for
the use of the colored people. There were no seats provided for
this class of persons; the preachers addressed them, _"over the
left,"_ if they addressed them at all. After the preaching was
over, at every service, an invitation was given to mourners to
come into the pen; and, in some cases, ministers went out to
persuade men and women to come in. By one of these ministers,
Master Thomas Auld was persuaded to go inside the pen. I was
deeply interested in that matter, and followed; and, though
colored people were not allowed either in the pen or in front of
the preachers' stand, I ventured to take my stand at a sort of
half-way place between the blacks and whites, where I could
distinctly see the movements of mourners, and especially the
progress of Master Thomas.

"If he has got religion," thought I, "he will emancipate his
slaves; and if he should not do so much as this, he will, at any
rate, behave toward us more kindly, and feed us more generously
than he has heretofore done." Appealing to my own religious
experience, and judging my master by what was true in my own
case, I could not regard him as soundly converted, unless some
such good results followed his profession of religion.

But in my expectations I was doubly disappointed; Master Thomas
was _Master Thomas_ still. The fruits of his righteousness
<152>were to show themselves in no such way as I had anticipated.
His conversion was not to change his relation toward men--at any
rate not toward BLACK men--but toward God. My faith, I confess,
was not great. There was something in his appearance that, in my
mind, cast a doubt over his conversion. Standing where I did, I
could see his every movement. I watched narrowly while he
remained in the little pen; and although I saw that his face was
extremely red, and his hair disheveled, and though I heard him
groan, and saw a stray tear halting on his cheek, as if inquiring
"which way shall I go?"--I could not wholly confide in the
genuineness of his conversion. The hesitating behavior of that
tear-drop and its loneliness, distressed me, and cast a doubt
upon the whole transaction, of which it was a part. But people
said, _"Capt. Auld had come through,"_ and it was for me to hope
for the best. I was bound to do this, in charity, for I, too,
was religious, and had been in the church full three years,
although now I was not more than sixteen years old. Slaveholders
may, sometimes, have confidence in the piety of some of their
slaves; but the slaves seldom have confidence in the piety of
their masters. _"He cant go to heaven with our blood in his
skirts_," is a settled point in the creed of every slave; rising
superior to all teaching to the contrary, and standing forever as
a fixed fact. The highest evidence the slaveholder can give the
slave of his acceptance with God, is the emancipation of his
slaves. This is proof that he is willing to give up all to God,
and for the sake of God. Not to do this, was, in my estimation,
and in the opinion of all the slaves, an evidence of half-
heartedness, and wholly inconsistent with the idea of genuine
conversion. I had read, also, somewhere in the Methodist
Discipline, the following question and answer:

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

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


These words sounded in my ears for a long time, and en<153 FAITH
AND WORKS AT VARIANCE>couraged me to hope. But, as I have before
said, I was doomed to disappointment. Master Thomas seemed to be
aware of my hopes and expectations concerning him. I have
thought, before now, that he looked at me in answer to my
glances, as much as to say, "I will teach you, young man, that,
though I have parted with my sins, I have not parted with my
sense. I shall hold my slaves, and go to heaven too."

Possibly, to convince us that we must not presume _too much_ upon
his recent conversion, he became rather more rigid and stringent
in his exactions. There always was a scarcity of good nature
about the man; but now his whole countenance was _soured_ over
with the seemings of piety. His religion, therefore, neither
made him emancipate his slaves, nor caused him to treat them with
greater humanity. If religion had any effect on his character at
all, it made him more cruel and hateful in all his ways. The
natural wickedness of his heart had not been removed, but only
reinforced, by the profession of religion. Do I judge him
harshly? God forbid. Facts _are_ facts. Capt. Auld made the
greatest profession of piety. His house was, literally, a house
of prayer. In the morning, and in the evening, loud prayers and
hymns were heard there, in which both himself and his wife
joined; yet, _no more meal_ was brought from the mill, _no more
attention_ was paid to the moral welfare of the kitchen; and
nothing was done to make us feel that the heart of Master Thomas
was one whit better than it was before he went into the little
pen, opposite to the preachers' stand, on the camp ground.

Our hopes (founded on the discipline) soon vanished; for the
authorities let him into the church _at once_, and before he was
out of his term of _probation_, I heard of his leading class! He
distinguished himself greatly among the brethren, and was soon an
exhorter. His progress was almost as rapid as the growth of the
fabled vine of Jack's bean. No man was more active than he, in
revivals. He would go many miles to assist in carrying them on,
and in getting outsiders interested in religion. His house being
<154>one of the holiest, if not the happiest in St. Michael's,
became the "preachers' home." These preachers evidently liked to
share Master Thomas's hospitality; for while he _starved us_, he
_stuffed_ them. Three or four of these ambassadors of the
gospel--according to slavery--have been there at a time; all
living on the fat of the land, while we, in the kitchen, were
nearly starving. Not often did we get a smile of recognition
from these holy men. They seemed almost as unconcerned about our
getting to heaven, as they were about our getting out of slavery.
To this general charge there was one exception--the Rev. GEORGE
COOKMAN. Unlike Rev. Messrs. Storks, Ewry, Hickey, Humphrey and
Cooper (all whom were on the St. Michael's circuit) he kindly
took an interest in our temporal and spiritual welfare. Our
souls and our bodies were all alike sacred in his sight; and he
really had a good deal of genuine anti-slavery feeling mingled
with his colonization ideas. There was not a slave in our
neighborhood that did not love, and almost venerate, Mr. Cookman.
It was pretty generally believed that he had been chiefly
instrumental in bringing one of the largest slaveholders--Mr.
Samuel Harrison--in that neighborhood, to emancipate all his
slaves, and, indeed, the general impression was, that Mr. Cookman
had labored faithfully with slaveholders, whenever he met them,
to induce them to emancipate their bondmen, and that he did this
as a religious duty. When this good man was at our house, we
were all sure to be called in to prayers in the morning; and he
was not slow in making inquiries as to the state of our minds,
nor in giving us a word of exhortation and of encouragement.
Great was the sorrow of all the slaves, when this faithful
preacher of the gospel was removed from the Talbot county
circuit. He was an eloquent preacher, and possessed what few
ministers, south of Mason Dixon's line, possess, or _dare_ to
show, viz: a warm and philanthropic heart. The Mr. Cookman, of
whom I speak, was an Englishman by birth, and perished while on
his way to England, on board the ill-fated "President". Could
the thousands of slaves <155 THE SABBATH SCHOOL>in Maryland know
the fate of the good man, to whose words of comfort they were so
largely indebted, they would thank me for dropping a tear on this
page, in memory of their favorite preacher, friend and

But, let me return to Master Thomas, and to my experience, after
his conversion. In Baltimore, I could, occasionally, get into a
Sabbath school, among the free children, and receive lessons,
with the rest; but, having already learned both to read and to
write, I was more of a teacher than a pupil, even there. When,
however, I went back to the Eastern Shore, and was at the house
of Master Thomas, I was neither allowed to teach, nor to be
taught. The whole community--with but a single exception, among
the whites--frowned upon everything like imparting instruction
either to slaves or to free colored persons. That single
exception, a pious young man, named Wilson, asked me, one day, if
I would like to assist him in teaching a little Sabbath school,
at the house of a free colored man in St. Michael's, named James
Mitchell. The idea was to me a delightful one, and I told him I
would gladly devote as much of my Sabbath as I could command, to
that most laudable work. Mr. Wilson soon mustered up a dozen old
spelling books, and a few testaments; and we commenced
operations, with some twenty scholars, in our Sunday school.
Here, thought I, is something worth living for; here is an
excellent chance for usefulness; and I shall soon have a company
of young friends, lovers of knowledge, like some of my Baltimore
friends, from whom I now felt parted forever.

Our first Sabbath passed delightfully, and I spent the week after
very joyously. I could not go to Baltimore, but I could make a
little Baltimore here. At our second meeting, I learned that
there was some objection to the existence of the Sabbath school;
and, sure enough, we had scarcely got at work--_good work_,
simply teaching a few colored children how to read the gospel of
the Son of God--when in rushed a mob, headed by Mr. Wright
Fairbanks and Mr. Garrison West--two class-leaders<156>--and
Master Thomas; who, armed with sticks and other missiles, drove
us off, and commanded us never to meet for such a purpose again.
One of this pious crew told me, that as for my part, I wanted to
be another Nat Turner; and if I did not look out, I should get as
many balls into me, as Nat did into him. Thus ended the infant
Sabbath school, in the town of St. Michael's. The reader will
not be surprised when I say, that the breaking up of my Sabbath
school, by these class-leaders, and professedly holy men, did not
serve to strengthen my religious convictions. The cloud over my
St. Michael's home grew heavier and blacker than ever.

It was not merely the agency of Master Thomas, in breaking up and
destroying my Sabbath school, that shook my confidence in the
power of southern religion to make men wiser or better; but I saw
in him all the cruelty and meanness, _after_ his conversion,
which he had exhibited before he made a profession of religion.
His cruelty and meanness were especially displayed in his
treatment of my unfortunate cousin, Henny, whose lameness made
her a burden to him. I have no extraordinary personal hard usage
toward myself to complain of, against him, but I have seen him
tie up the lame and maimed woman, and whip her in a manner most
brutal, and shocking; and then, with blood-chilling blasphemy, he
would quote the passage of scripture, "That servant which knew
his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according
to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes." Master would
keep this lacerated woman tied up by her wrists, to a bolt in the
joist, three, four and five hours at a time. He would tie her up
early in the morning, whip her with a cowskin before breakfast;
leave her tied up; go to his store, and, returning to his dinner,
repeat the castigation; laying on the rugged lash, on flesh
already made raw by repeated blows. He seemed desirous to get
the poor girl out of existence, or, at any rate, off his hands.
In proof of this, he afterwards gave her away to his sister Sarah
(Mrs. Cline) but, as in the case of Master <157 BARBAROUS
TREATMENT OF HENNY>Hugh, Henny was soon returned on his hands.
Finally, upon a pretense that he could do nothing with her (I use
his own words) he "set her adrift, to take care of herself."
Here was a recently converted man, holding, with tight grasp, the
well-framed, and able bodied slaves left him by old master--the
persons, who, in freedom, could have taken care of themselves;
yet, turning loose the only cripple among them, virtually to
starve and die.

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

Bad as my condition was when I lived with Master Thomas, I was
soon to experience a life far more goading and bitter. The many
differences springing up between myself and Master Thomas, owing
to the clear perception I had of his character, and the boldness
with which I defended myself against his capricious complaints,
led him to declare that I was unsuited to his wants; that my city
life had affected me perniciously; that, in fact, it had almost
ruined me for every good purpose, and had fitted me for
everything that was bad. One of my greatest faults, or offenses,
was that of letting his horse get away, and go down to the farm
belonging to his father-in-law. The animal had a liking for that
farm, with which I fully sympathized. Whenever I let it out, it
would go dashing down the road to Mr. Hamilton's, as if going on
a grand frolic. My horse gone, of course I must go after it.
The explanation of our mutual attachment to the place is the
same; the horse found there good pasturage, and I found there
plenty of bread. Mr. Hamilton had his faults, but starving his
slaves was not among them. He gave food, in abundance, and that,
too, of an excellent quality. In Mr. Hamilton's cook--Aunt
Mary--I found a most generous and considerate friend. She never
allowed me to go there without giving me bread enough <158>to
make good the deficiencies of a day or two. Master Thomas at
last resolved to endure my behavior no longer; he could neither
keep me, nor his horse, we liked so well to be at his father-in-
law's farm. I had now lived with him nearly nine months, and he
had given me a number of severe whippings, without any visible
improvement in my character, or my conduct; and now he was
resolved to put me out--as he said--"_to be broken."_

There was, in the Bay Side, very near the camp ground, where my
master got his religious impressions, a man named Edward Covey,
who enjoyed the execrated reputation, of being a first rate hand
at breaking young Negroes. This Covey was a poor man, a farm
renter; and this reputation (hateful as it was to the slaves and
to all good men) was, at the same time, of immense advantage to
him. It enabled him to get his farm tilled with very little
expense, compared with what it would have cost him without this
most extraordinary reputation. Some slaveholders thought it an
advantage to let Mr. Covey have the government of their slaves a
year or two, almost free of charge, for the sake of the excellent
training such slaves got under his happy management! Like some
horse breakers, noted for their skill, who ride the best horses
in the country without expense, Mr. Covey could have under him,
the most fiery bloods of the neighborhood, for the simple reward
of returning them to their owners, _well broken_. Added to the
natural fitness of Mr. Covey for the duties of his profession, he
was said to "enjoy religion," and was as strict in the
cultivation of piety, as he was in the cultivation of his farm.
I was made aware of his character by some who had been under his
hand; and while I could not look forward to going to him with any
pleasure, I was glad to get away from St. Michael's. I was sure
of getting enough to eat at Covey's, even if I suffered in other
respects. _This_, to a hungry man, is not a prospect to be
regarded with indifference.



_Covey, the Negro Breaker_




The morning of the first of January, 1834, with its chilling wind
and pinching frost, quite in harmony with the winter in my own
mind, found me, with my little bundle of clothing on the end of a
stick, swung across my shoulder, on the main road, bending my way
toward Covey's, whither I had been imperiously ordered by Master
Thomas. The latter had been as good as his word, and had
committed me, without reserve, to the mastery of Mr. Edward
Covey. Eight or ten years had now passed since I had been taken
from my grandmother's cabin, in Tuckahoe; and these years, for
the most part, I had spent in Baltimore, where--as the reader has
already seen--I was treated with comparative tenderness. I was
now about to sound profounder depths in slave life. The rigors
of a field, less tolerable than the field of battle, awaited me.
My new master was notorious for his fierce and savage
disposition, and my only consolation in going to live <160>with
him was, the certainty of finding him precisely as represented by
common fame. There was neither joy in my heart, nor elasticity
in my step, as I started in search of the tyrant's home.
Starvation made me glad to leave Thomas Auld's, and the cruel
lash made me dread to go to Covey's. Escape was impossible; so,
heavy and sad, I paced the seven miles, which separated Covey's
house from St. Michael's--thinking much by the solitary way--
averse to my condition; but _thinking_ was all I could do. Like
a fish in a net, allowed to play for a time, I was now drawn
rapidly to the shore, secured at all points. "I am," thought I,
"but the sport of a power which makes no account, either of my
welfare or of my happiness. By a law which I can clearly
comprehend, but cannot evade nor resist, I am ruthlessly snatched
from the hearth of a fond grandmother, and hurried away to the
home of a mysterious `old master;' again I am removed from there,
to a master in Baltimore; thence am I snatched away to the
Eastern Shore, to be valued with the beasts of the field, and,
with them, divided and set apart for a possessor; then I am sent
back to Baltimore; and by the time I have formed new attachments,
and have begun to hope that no more rude shocks shall touch me, a
difference arises between brothers, and I am again broken up, and
sent to St. Michael's; and now, from the latter place, I am
footing my way to the home of a new master, where, I am given to
understand, that, like a wild young working animal, I am to be
broken to the yoke of a bitter and life-long bondage."

With thoughts and reflections like these, I came in sight of a
small wood-colored building, about a mile from the main road,
which, from the description I had received, at starting, I easily
recognized as my new home. The Chesapeake bay--upon the jutting
banks of which the little wood-colored house was standing--white
with foam, raised by the heavy north-west wind; Poplar Island,
covered with a thick, black pine forest, standing out amid this
half ocean; and Kent Point, stretching its sandy, desert-like
shores out into the foam-cested bay--were all in <161 COVEY'S
RESIDENCE--THE FAMILY>sight, and deepened the wild and desolate
aspect of my new home.

The good clothes I had brought with me from Baltimore were now
worn thin, and had not been replaced; for Master Thomas was as
little careful to provide us against cold, as against hunger.
Met here by a north wind, sweeping through an open space of forty
miles, I was glad to make any port; and, therefore, I speedily
pressed on to the little wood-colored house. The family
consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Covey; Miss Kemp (a broken-backed
woman) a sister of Mrs. Covey; William Hughes, cousin to Edward
Covey; Caroline, the cook; Bill Smith, a hired man; and myself.
Bill Smith, Bill Hughes, and myself, were the working force of
the farm, which consisted of three or four hundred acres. I was
now, for the first time in my life, to be a field hand; and in my
new employment I found myself even more awkward than a green
country boy may be supposed to be, upon his first entrance into
the bewildering scenes of city life; and my awkwardness gave me
much trouble. Strange and unnatural as it may seem, I had been
at my new home but three days, before Mr. Covey (my brother in
the Methodist church) gave me a bitter foretaste of what was in
reserve for me. I presume he thought, that since he had but a
single year in which to complete his work, the sooner he began,
the better. Perhaps he thought that by coming to blows at once,
we should mutually better understand our relations. But to
whatever motive, direct or indirect, the cause may be referred, I
had not been in his possession three whole days, before he
subjected me to a most brutal chastisement. Under his heavy
blows, blood flowed freely, and wales were left on my back as
large as my little finger. The sores on my back, from this
flogging, continued for weeks, for they were kept open by the
rough and coarse cloth which I wore for shirting. The occasion
and details of this first chapter of my experience as a field
hand, must be told, that the reader may see how unreasonable, as
well as how cruel, my new master, Covey, was. <162>The whole
thing I found to be characteristic of the man; and I was probably
treated no worse by him than scores of lads who had previously
been committed to him, for reasons similar to those which induced
my master to place me with him. But, here are the facts
connected with the affair, precisely as they occurred.

On one of the coldest days of the whole month of January, 1834, I
was ordered, at day break, to get a load of wood, from a forest
about two miles from the house. In order to perform this work,
Mr. Covey gave me a pair of unbroken oxen, for, it seems, his
breaking abilities had not been turned in this direction; and I
may remark, in passing, that working animals in the south, are
seldom so well trained as in the north. In due form, and with
all proper ceremony, I was introduced to this huge yoke of
unbroken oxen, and was carefully told which was "Buck," and which
was "Darby"--which was the "in hand," and which was the "off
hand" ox. The master of this important ceremony was no less a
person than Mr. Covey, himself; and the introduction was the
first of the kind I had ever had. My life, hitherto, had led me
away from horned cattle, and I had no knowledge of the art of
managing them. What was meant by the "in ox," as against the
"off ox," when both were equally fastened to one cart, and under
one yoke, I could not very easily divine; and the difference,
implied by the names, and the peculiar duties of each, were alike
_Greek_ to me. Why was not the "off ox" called the "in ox?"
Where and what is the reason for this distinction in names, when
there is none in the things themselves? After initiating me into
the _"woa," "back" "gee," "hither"_--the entire spoken language
between oxen and driver--Mr. Covey took a rope, about ten feet
long and one inch thick, and placed one end of it around the
horns of the "in hand ox," and gave the other end to me, telling
me that if the oxen started to run away, as the scamp knew they
would, I must hold on to the rope and stop them. I need not tell
any one who is acquainted with either the strength of the
disposition of an untamed ox, that this order <163 FIRST
ADVENTURE AT OX DRIVING>was about as unreasonable as a command to
shoulder a mad bull! I had never driven oxen before, and I was
as awkward, as a driver, as it is possible to conceive. It did
not answer for me to plead ignorance, to Mr. Covey; there was
something in his manner that quite forbade that. He was a man to
whom a slave seldom felt any disposition to speak. Cold,
distant, morose, with a face wearing all the marks of captious
pride and malicious sternness, he repelled all advances. Covey
was not a large man; he was only about five feet ten inches in
height, I should think; short necked, round shoulders; of quick
and wiry motion, of thin and wolfish visage; with a pair of
small, greenish-gray eyes, set well back under a forehead without
dignity, and constantly in motion, and floating his passions,
rather than his thoughts, in sight, but denying them utterance in
words. The creature presented an appearance altogether ferocious
and sinister, disagreeable and forbidding, in the extreme. When
he spoke, it was from the corner of his mouth, and in a sort of
light growl, like a dog, when an attempt is made to take a bone
from him. The fellow had already made me believe him even
_worse_ than he had been presented. With his directions, and
without stopping to question, I started for the woods, quite
anxious to perform my first exploit in driving, in a creditable
manner. The distance from the house to the woods gate a full
mile, I should think--was passed over with very little
difficulty; for although the animals ran, I was fleet enough, in
the open field, to keep pace with them; especially as they pulled
me along at the end of the rope; but, on reaching the woods, I
was speedily thrown into a distressing plight. The animals took
fright, and started off ferociously into the woods, carrying the
cart, full tilt, against trees, over stumps, and dashing from
side to side, in a manner altogether frightful. As I held the
rope, I expected every moment to be crushed between the cart and
the huge trees, among which they were so furiously dashing.
After running thus for several minutes, my oxen were, finally,
brought to a stand, by a tree, against which they dashed
<164>themselves with great violence, upsetting the cart, and
entangling themselves among sundry young saplings. By the shock,
the body of the cart was flung in one direction, and the wheels
and tongue in another, and all in the greatest confusion. There
I was, all alone, in a thick wood, to which I was a stranger; my
cart upset and shattered; my oxen entangled, wild, and enraged;
and I, poor soul! but a green hand, to set all this disorder
right. I knew no more of oxen than the ox driver is supposed to
know of wisdom. After standing a few moments surveying the
damage and disorder, and not without a presentiment that this
trouble would draw after it others, even more distressing, I took
one end of the cart body, and, by an extra outlay of strength, I
lifted it toward the axle-tree, from which it had been violently
flung; and after much pulling and straining, I succeeded in
getting the body of the cart in its place. This was an important
step out of the difficulty, and its performance increased my
courage for the work which remained to be done. The cart was
provided with an ax, a tool with which I had become pretty well
acquainted in the ship yard at Baltimore. With this, I cut down
the saplings by which my oxen were entangled, and again pursued
my journey, with my heart in my mouth, lest the oxen should again
take it into their senseless heads to cut up a caper. My fears
were groundless. Their spree was over for the present, and the
rascals now moved off as soberly as though their behavior had
been natural and exemplary. On reaching the part of the forest
where I had been, the day before, chopping wood, I filled the
cart with a heavy load, as a security against another running
away. But, the neck of an ox is equal in strength to iron. It
defies all ordinary burdens, when excited. Tame and docile to a
proverb, when _well_ trained, the ox is the most sullen and
intractable of animals when but half broken to the yoke.

I now saw, in my situation, several points of similarity with
that of the oxen. They were property, so was I; they were to be
<165 SENT BACK TO THE WOODS>broken, so was I. Covey was to break
me, I was to break them; break and be broken--such is life.

Half the day already gone, and my face not yet homeward! It
required only two day's experience and observation to teach me,
that such apparent waste of time would not be lightly overlooked
by Covey. I therefore hurried toward home; but, on reaching the
lane gate, I met with the crowning disaster for the day. This
gate was a fair specimen of southern handicraft. There were two
huge posts, eighteen inches in diameter, rough hewed and square,
and the heavy gate was so hung on one of these, that it opened
only about half the proper distance. On arriving here, it was
necessary for me to let go the end of the rope on the horns of
the "in hand ox;" and now as soon as the gate was open, and I let
go of it to get the rope, again, off went my oxen--making nothing
of their load--full tilt; and in doing so they caught the huge
gate between the wheel and the cart body, literally crushing it
to splinters, and coming only within a few inches of subjecting
me to a similar crushing, for I was just in advance of the wheel
when it struck the left gate post. With these two hair-breadth
escape, I thought I could sucessfully{sic} explain to Mr. Covey
the delay, and avert apprehended punishment. I was not without a
faint hope of being commended for the stern resolution which I
had displayed in accomplishing the difficult task--a task which,
I afterwards learned, even Covey himself would not have
undertaken, without first driving the oxen for some time in the
open field, preparatory to their going into the woods. But, in
this I was disappointed. On coming to him, his countenance
assumed an aspect of rigid displeasure, and, as I gave him a
history of the casualties of my trip, his wolfish face, with his
greenish eyes, became intensely ferocious. "Go back to the woods
again," he said, muttering something else about wasting time. I
hastily obeyed; but I had not gone far on my way, when I saw him
coming after me. My oxen now behaved themselves with singular
<166>propriety, opposing their present conduct to my
representation of their former antics. I almost wished, now that
Covey was coming, they would do something in keeping with the
character I had given them; but no, they had already had their
spree, and they could afford now to be extra good, readily
obeying my orders, and seeming to understand them quite as well
as I did myself. On reaching the woods, my tormentor--who seemed
all the way to be remarking upon the good behavior of his oxen--
came up to me, and ordered me to stop the cart, accompanying the
same with the threat that he would now teach me how to break
gates, and idle away my time, when he sent me to the woods.
Suiting the action to the word, Covey paced off, in his own wiry
fashion, to a large, black gum tree, the young shoots of which
are generally used for ox _goads_, they being exceedingly tough.
Three of these _goads_, from four to six feet long, he cut off,
and trimmed up, with his large jack-knife. This done, he ordered
me to take off my clothes. To this unreasonable order I made no
reply, but sternly refused to take off my clothing. "If you will
beat me," thought I, "you shall do so over my clothes." After
many threats, which made no impression on me, he rushed at me
with something of the savage fierceness of a wolf, tore off the
few and thinly worn clothes I had on, and proceeded to wear out,
on my back, the heavy goads which he had cut from the gum tree.
This flogging was the first of a series of floggings; and though
very severe, it was less so than many which came after it, and
these, for offenses far lighter than the gate breaking

I remained with Mr. Covey one year (I cannot say I _lived_ with
him) and during the first six months that I was there, I was
whipped, either with sticks or cowskins, every week. Aching
bones and a sore back were my constant companions. Frequent as
the lash was used, Mr. Covey thought less of it, as a means of
breaking down my spirit, than that of hard and long continued
labor. He worked me steadily, up to the point of my powers of
endurance. From the dawn of day in the morning, till the
dark<167 CUNNING AND TRICKERY OF COVEY>ness was complete in the
evening, I was kept at hard work, in the field or the woods. At
certain seasons of the year, we were all kept in the field till
eleven and twelve o'clock at night. At these times, Covey would
attend us in the field, and urge us on with words or blows, as it
seemed best to him. He had, in his life, been an overseer, and
he well understood the business of slave driving. There was no
deceiving him. He knew just what a man or boy could do, and he
held both to strict account. When he pleased, he would work
himself, like a very Turk, making everything fly before him. It
was, however, scarcely necessary for Mr. Covey to be really
present in the field, to have his work go on industriously. He
had the faculty of making us feel that he was always present. By
a series of adroitly managed surprises, which he practiced, I was
prepared to expect him at any moment. His plan was, never to
approach the spot where his hands were at work, in an open, manly
and direct manner. No thief was ever more artful in his devices
than this man Covey. He would creep and crawl, in ditches and
gullies; hide behind stumps and bushes, and practice so much of
the cunning of the serpent, that Bill Smith and I--between
ourselves--never called him by any other name than _"the snake."_
We fancied that in his eyes and his gait we could see a snakish
resemblance. One half of his proficiency in the art of Negro
breaking, consisted, I should think, in this species of cunning.
We were never secure. He could see or hear us nearly all the
time. He was, to us, behind every stump, tree, bush and fence on
the plantation. He carried this kind of trickery so far, that he
would sometimes mount his horse, and make believe he was going to
St. Michael's; and, in thirty minutes afterward, you might find
his horse tied in the woods, and the snake-like Covey lying flat
in the ditch, with his head lifted above its edge, or in a fence
corner, watching every movement of the slaves! I have known him
walk up to us and give us special orders, as to our work, in
advance, as if he were leaving home with a view to being absent
several days; and before he got half way to the <168>house, he
would avail himself of our inattention to his movements, to turn
short on his heels, conceal himself behind a fence corner or a
tree, and watch us until the going down of the sun. Mean and
contemptible as is all this, it is in keeping with the character
which the life of a slaveholder is calculated to produce. There
is no earthly inducement, in the slave's condition, to incite him
to labor faithfully. The fear of punishment is the sole motive
for any sort of industry, with him. Knowing this fact, as the
slaveholder does, and judging the slave by himself, he naturally
concludes the slave will be idle whenever the cause for this fear
is absent. Hence, all sorts of petty deceptions are practiced,
to inspire this fear.

But, with Mr. Covey, trickery was natural. Everything in the
shape of learning or religion, which he possessed, was made to
conform to this semi-lying propensity. He did not seem conscious
that the practice had anything unmanly, base or contemptible
about it. It was a part of an important system, with him,
essential to the relation of master and slave. I thought I saw,
in his very religious devotions, this controlling element of his
character. A long prayer at night made up for the short prayer
in the morning; and few men could seem more devotional than he,
when he had nothing else to do.

Mr. Covey was not content with the cold style of family worship,
adopted in these cold latitudes, which begin and end with a
simple prayer. No! the voice of praise, as well as of prayer,
must be heard in his house, night and morning. At first, I was
called upon to bear some part in these exercises; but the
repeated flogging given me by Covey, turned the whole thing into
mockery. He was a poor singer, and mainly relied on me for
raising the hymn for the family, and when I failed to do so, he
was thrown into much confusion. I do not think that he ever
abused me on account of these vexations. His religion was a
thing altogether apart from his worldly concerns. He knew
nothing of it as a holy principle, directing and controlling his
daily life, <169 SHOCKING CONTEMPT FOR CHASTITY>making the latter
conform to the requirements of the gospel. One or two facts will
illustrate his character better than a volume of

I have already said, or implied, that Mr. Edward Covey was a poor
man. He was, in fact, just commencing to lay the foundation of
his fortune, as fortune is regarded in a slave state. The first
condition of wealth and respectability there, being the ownership
of human property, every nerve is strained, by the poor man, to
obtain it, and very little regard is had to the manner of
obtaining it. In pursuit of this object, pious as Mr. Covey was,
he proved himself to be as unscrupulous and base as the worst of
his neighbors. In the beginning, he was only able--as he said--
"to buy one slave;" and, scandalous and shocking as is the fact,
he boasted that he bought her simply "_as a breeder_." But the
worst is not told in this naked statement. This young woman
(Caroline was her name) was virtually compelled by Mr. Covey to
abandon herself to the object for which he had purchased her; and
the result was, the birth of twins at the end of the year. At
this addition to his human stock, both Edward Covey and his wife,
Susan, were ecstatic with joy. No one dreamed of reproaching the
woman, or of finding fault with the hired man--Bill Smith--the
father of the children, for Mr. Covey himself had locked the two
up together every night, thus inviting the result.

But I will pursue this revolting subject no further. No better
illustration of the unchaste and demoralizing character of
slavery can be found, than is furnished in the fact that this
professedly Christian slaveholder, amidst all his prayers and
hymns, was shamelessly and boastfully encouraging, and actually
compelling, in his own house, undisguised and unmitigated
fornication, as a means of increasing his human stock. I may
remark here, that, while this fact will be read with disgust and
shame at the north, it will be _laughed at_, as smart and
praiseworthy in Mr. Covey, at the south; for a man is no more
condemned there for buying a woman and devoting her to this life
of dishonor, <170>than for buying a cow, and raising stock from
her. The same rules are observed, with a view to increasing the
number and quality of the former, as of the latter.

I will here reproduce what I said of my own experience in this
wretched place, more than ten years ago:



If at any one time of my life, more than another, I was made to
drink the bitterest dregs of slavery, that time was during the
first six months of my stay with Mr. Covey. We were worked all
weathers. It was never too hot or too cold; it could never rain,
blow, snow, or hail too hard for us to work in the field. Work,
work, work, was scarcely more the order of the day than the
night. The longest days were too short for him, and the shortest
nights were too long for him. I was somewhat unmanageable when I
first went there; but a few months of his discipline tamed me.
Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul
and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed; my intellect
languished; the disposition to read departed; the cheerful spark
that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed
in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!

Sunday was my only leisure time. I spent this in a sort of
beast-like stupor, between sleep and wake, under some large tree.
At times, I would rise up, a flash of energetic freedom would
dart through my soul, accompanied with a faint beam of hope,
flickered for a moment, and then vanished. I sank down again,
mourning over my wretched condition. I was sometimes prompted to
take my life, and that of Covey, but was prevented by a
combination of hope and fear. My sufferings on this plantation
seem now like a dream rather than a stern reality.

Our house stood within a few rods of the Chesapeake bay, whose
broad bosom was ever white with sails from every quarter of the
habitable globe. Those beautiful vessels, robed in purest white,
so delightful to the eye of freemen, were to me so many shrouded
ghosts, to terrify and torment me with thoughts of my wretched
condition. I have often, in the deep stillness of a summer's
Sabbath, stood all alone upon the banks of that noble bay, and
traced, with saddened heart and tearful eye, the countless number
of sails moving off to the mighty ocean. The sight of these
always affected me powerfully. My thoughts would compel
utterance; and there, with no audience but the Almighty, I would
pour out my soul's complaint in my rude way, with an apostrophe
to the moving multitude of ships:

"You are loosed from your moorings, and free; I am fast in my
chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale,
and I sadly before the bloody whip! You are freedom's swift-
winged angels, that fly around the world; I am confined in bands
of iron! O, that I were free! O, that I were on one of your
gallant decks, and under your protecting wing! Alas! betwixt me
<171 ANGUISH BEYOND DESCRIPTION>and you the turbid waters roll.
Go on, go on. O that I could also go! Could I but swim! If I
could fly! O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute!
The glad ship is gone; she hides in the dim distance. I am left
in the hottest hell of unending slavery. O God, save me! God,
deliver me! Let me be free! Is there any God? Why am I a
slave? I will run away. I will not stand it. Get caught, or
get clear, I'll try it. I had as well die with ague as with
fever. I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed
running as die standing. Only think of it; one hundred miles
straight north, and I am free! Try it? Yes! God helping me, I
will. It cannot be that I shall live and die a slave. I will
take to the water. This very bay shall yet bear me into freedom.
The steamboats steered in a north-east coast from North Point. I
will do the same; and when I get to the head of the bay, I will
turn my canoe adrift, and walk straight through Delaware into
Pennsylvania. When I get there, I shall not be required to have
a pass; I will travel without being disturbed. Let but the first
opportunity offer, and come what will, I am off. Meanwhile, I
will try to bear up under the yoke. I am not the only slave in
the world. Why should I fret? I can bear as much as any of
them. Besides, I am but a boy, and all boys are bound to some
one. It may be that my misery in slavery will only increase my
happiness when I get free. There is a better day coming."

I shall never be able to narrate the mental experience through
which it was my lot to pass during my stay at Covey's. I was
completely wrecked, changed and bewildered; goaded almost to
madness at one time, and at another reconciling myself to my
wretched condition. Everything in the way of kindness, which I
had experienced at Baltimore; all my former hopes and aspirations
for usefulness in the world, and the happy moments spent in the
exercises of religion, contrasted with my then present lot, but
increased my anguish.

I suffered bodily as well as mentally. I had neither sufficient
time in which to eat or to sleep, except on Sundays. The
overwork, and the brutal chastisements of which I was the victim,
combined with that ever-gnawing and soul-devouring thought--"_I
am a slave--a slave for life--a slave with no rational ground to
hope for freedom_"--rendered me a living embodiment of mental and
physical wretchedness.



_Another Pressure of the Tyrant's Vice_



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

As I have elsewhere intimated that my hardships were much greater
during the first six months of my stay at Covey's, than during
the remainder of the year, and as the change in my condition was
owing to causes which may help the reader to a better
understanding of human nature, when subjected to the terrible
extremities of slavery, I will narrate the circumstances of this
<173 SCENE IN THE TREADING YARD>change, although I may seem
thereby to applaud my own courage. You have, dear reader, seen
me humbled, degraded, broken down, enslaved, and brutalized, and
you understand how it was done; now let us see the converse of
all this, and how it was brought about; and this will take us
through the year 1834.

On one of the hottest days of the month of August, of the year
just mentioned, had the reader been passing through Covey's farm,
he might have seen me at work, in what is there called the
"treading yard"--a yard upon which wheat is trodden out from the
straw, by the horses' feet. I was there, at work, feeding the
"fan," or rather bringing wheat to the fan, while Bill Smith was
feeding. Our force consisted of Bill Hughes, Bill Smith, and a
slave by the name of Eli; the latter having been hired for this
occasion. The work was simple, and required strength and
activity, rather than any skill or intelligence, and yet, to one
entirely unused to such work, it came very hard. The heat was
intense and overpowering, and there was much hurry to get the
wheat, trodden out that day, through the fan; since, if that work
was done an hour before sundown, the hands would have, according
to a promise of Covey, that hour added to their night's rest. I
was not behind any of them in the wish to complete the day's work
before sundown, and, hence, I struggled with all my might to get
the work forward. The promise of one hour's repose on a week
day, was sufficient to quicken my pace, and to spur me on to
extra endeavor. Besides, we had all planned to go fishing, and I
certainly wished to have a hand in that. But I was disappointed,
and the day turned out to be one of the bitterest I ever
experienced. About three o'clock, while the sun was pouring down
his burning rays, and not a breeze was stirring, I broke down; my
strength failed me; I was seized with a violent aching of the
head, attended with extreme dizziness, and trembling in every
limb. Finding what was coming, and feeling it would never do to
stop work, I nerved myself up, and staggered on until I fell by
the side of the wheat fan, feeling that the earth had fallen
<174>upon me. This brought the entire work to a dead stand.
There was work for four; each one had his part to perform, and
each part depended on the other, so that when one stopped, all
were compelled to stop. Covey, who had now become my dread, as
well as my tormentor, was at the house, about a hundred yards
from where I was fanning, and instantly, upon hearing the fan
stop, he came down to the treading yard, to inquire into the
cause of our stopping. Bill Smith told him I was sick, and that
I was unable longer to bring wheat to the fan.

I had, by this time, crawled away, under the side of a post-and-
rail fence, in the shade, and was exceeding ill. The intense
heat of the sun, the heavy dust rising from the fan, the
stooping, to take up the wheat from the yard, together with the
hurrying, to get through, had caused a rush of blood to my head.
In this condition, Covey finding out where I was, came to me;
and, after standing over me a while, he asked me what the matter
was. I told him as well as I could, for it was with difficulty
that I could speak. He then gave me a savage kick in the side,
which jarred my whole frame, and commanded me to get up. The man
had obtained complete control over me; and if he had commanded me
to do any possible thing, I should, in my then state of mind,
have endeavored to comply. I made an effort to rise, but fell
back in the attempt, before gaining my feet. The brute now gave
me another heavy kick, and again told me to rise. I again tried
to rise, and succeeded in gaining my feet; but upon stooping to
get the tub with which I was feeding the fan, I again staggered
and fell to the ground; and I must have so fallen, had I been
sure that a hundred bullets would have pierced me, as the
consequence. While down, in this sad condition, and perfectly
helpless, the merciless Negro breaker took up the hickory slab,
with which Hughes had been striking off the wheat to a level with
the sides of the half bushel measure (a very hard weapon) and
with the sharp edge of it, he dealt me a heavy blow on my head
which made a large gash, and caused the blood to run freely,
saying, <175 ESCAPE TO ST. MICHAEL'S>at the same time, "If _you
have got the headache, I'll cure you_." This done, he ordered me
again to rise, but I made no effort to do so; for I had made up
my mind that it was useless, and that the heartless monster might
now do his worst; he could but kill me, and that might put me out
of my misery. Finding me unable to rise, or rather despairing of
my doing so, Covey left me, with a view to getting on with the
work without me. I was bleeding very freely, and my face was
soon covered with my warm blood. Cruel and merciless as was the
motive that dealt that blow, dear reader, the wound was fortunate
for me. Bleeding was never more efficacious. The pain in my
head speedily abated, and I was soon able to rise. Covey had, as
I have said, now left me to my fate; and the question was, shall
I return to my work, or shall I find my way to St. Michael's, and
make Capt. Auld acquainted with the atrocious cruelty of his
brother Covey, and beseech him to get me another master?
Remembering the object he had in view, in placing me under the
management of Covey, and further, his cruel treatment of my poor
crippled cousin, Henny, and his meanness in the matter of feeding
and clothing his slaves, there was little ground to hope for a
favorable reception at the hands of Capt. Thomas Auld.
Nevertheless, I resolved to go straight to Capt. Auld, thinking
that, if not animated by motives of humanity, he might be induced
to interfere on my behalf from selfish considerations. "He
cannot," thought I, "allow his property to be thus bruised and
battered, marred and defaced; and I will go to him, and tell him
the simple truth about the matter." In order to get to St.
Michael's, by the most favorable and direct road, I must walk
seven miles; and this, in my sad condition, was no easy
performance. I had already lost much blood; I was exhausted by
over exertion; my sides were sore from the heavy blows planted
there by the stout boots of Mr. Covey; and I was, in every way,
in an unfavorable plight for the journey. I however watched my
chance, while the cruel and cunning Covey was looking in an
opposite direction, and started <176>off, across the field, for
St. Michael's. This was a daring step; if it failed, it would
only exasperate Covey, and increase the rigors of my bondage,
during the remainder of my term of service under him; but the
step was taken, and I must go forward. I succeeded in getting
nearly half way across the broad field, toward the woods, before
Mr. Covey observed me. I was still bleeding, and the exertion of
running had started the blood afresh. _"Come back! Come back!"_
vociferated Covey, with threats of what he would do if I did not
return instantly. But, disregarding his calls and his threats, I
pressed on toward the woods as fast as my feeble state would
allow. Seeing no signs of my stopping, Covey caused his horse to
be brought out and saddled, as if he intended to pursue me. The
race was now to be an unequal one; and, thinking I might be
overhauled by him, if I kept the main road, I walked nearly the
whole distance in the woods, keeping far enough from the road to
avoid detection and pursuit. But, I had not gone far, before my
little strength again failed me, and I laid down. The blood was
still oozing from the wound in my head; and, for a time, I
suffered more than I can describe. There I was, in the deep
woods, sick and emaciated, pursued by a wretch whose character
for revolting cruelty beggars all opprobrious speech--bleeding,
and almost bloodless. I was not without the fear of bleeding to
death. The thought of dying in the woods, all alone, and of
being torn to pieces by the buzzards, had not yet been rendered
tolerable by my many troubles and hardships, and I was glad when
the shade of the trees, and the cool evening breeze, combined
with my matted hair to stop the flow of blood. After lying there
about three quarters of an hour, brooding over the singular and
mournful lot to which I was doomed, my mind passing over the
whole scale or circle of belief and unbelief, from faith in the
overruling providence of God, to the blackest atheism, I again
took up my journey toward St. Michael's, more weary and sad than
in the morning when I left Thomas Auld's for the home of Mr.
Covey. I was bare-footed and bare-headed, and in <177 BEARING OF
MASTER THOMAS>my shirt sleeves. The way was through bogs and
briers, and I tore my feet often during the journey. I was full
five hours in going the seven or eight miles; partly, because of
the difficulties of the way, and partly, because of the
feebleness induced by my illness, bruises and loss of blood. On
gaining my master's store, I presented an appearance of
wretchedness and woe, fitted to move any but a heart of stone.
From the crown of my head to the sole of my feet, there were
marks of blood. My hair was all clotted with dust and blood, and
the back of my shirt was literally stiff with the same. Briers
and thorns had scarred and torn my feet and legs, leaving blood
marks there. Had I escaped from a den of tigers, I could not
have looked worse than I did on reaching St. Michael's. In this
unhappy plight, I appeared before my professedly _Christian_
master, humbly to invoke the interposition of his power and
authority, to protect me from further abuse and violence. I had
begun to hope, during the latter part of my tedious journey
toward St. Michael's, that Capt. Auld would now show himself in a
nobler light than I had ever before seen him. I was
disappointed. I had jumped from a sinking ship into the sea; I
had fled from the tiger to something worse. I told him all the
circumstances, as well as I could; how I was endeavoring to
please Covey; how hard I was at work in the present instance; how
unwilling I sunk down under the heat, toil and pain; the brutal
manner in which Covey had kicked me in the side; the gash cut in
my head; my hesitation about troubling him (Capt. Auld) with
complaints; but, that now I felt it would not be best longer to
conceal from him the outrages committed on me from time to time
by Covey. At first, master Thomas seemed somewhat affected by
the story of my wrongs, but he soon repressed his feelings and
became cold as iron. It was impossible--as I stood before him at
the first--for him to seem indifferent. I distinctly saw his
human nature asserting its conviction against the slave system,
which made cases like mine _possible;_ but, as I have said,
humanity fell before the systematic tyranny of slavery. He first
walked <178>the floor, apparently much agitated by my story, and
the sad spectacle I presented; but, presently, it was _his_ turn
to talk. He began moderately, by finding excuses for Covey, and
ending with a full justification of him, and a passionate
condemnation of me. "He had no doubt I deserved the flogging.
He did not believe I was sick; I was only endeavoring to get rid
of work. My dizziness was laziness, and Covey did right to flog
me, as he had done." After thus fairly annihilating me, and
rousing himself by his own eloquence, he fiercely demanded what I
wished _him_ to do in the case!

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

Calming down a little in view of my silence and hesitation, and,
perhaps, from a rapid glance at the picture of misery I
presented, he inquired again, "what I would have him do?" Thus
invited a second time, I told Master Thomas I wished him to allow
me to get a new home and to find a new master; that, as sure as I
went back to live with Mr. Covey again, I should be killed by
him; that he would never forgive my coming to him (Capt. Auld)
with a complaint against him (Covey); that, since I had lived
with him, he almost crushed my spirit, and I believed that he
would ruin me for future service; that my life was not safe in
his hands. This, Master Thomas _(my brother in the church)_
regarded as "nonsence{sic}." "There was no danger of Mr. Covey's
killing me; he was a good man, industrious and religious, and he
would not think of <179 THE SLAVE IS NEVER SICK>removing me from
that home; "besides," said he and this I found was the most
distressing thought of all to him--"if you should leave Covey
now, that your year has but half expired, I should lose your
wages for the entire year. You belong to Mr. Covey for one year,
and you _must go back_ to him, come what will. You must not
trouble me with any more stories about Mr. Covey; and if you do
not go immediately home, I will get hold of you myself." This
was just what I expected, when I found he had _prejudged_ the
case against me. "But, Sir," I said, "I am sick and tired, and I
cannot get home to-night." At this, he again relented, and
finally he allowed me to remain all night at St. Michael's; but
said I must be off early in the morning, and concluded his
directions by making me swallow a huge dose of _epsom salts_--
about the only medicine ever administered to slaves.

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

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


_The Last Flogging_



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

I remained all night--sleep I did not--at St. Michael's; and in
the morning (Saturday) I started off, according to the order of
Master Thomas, feeling that I had no friend on earth, and
doubting if I had one in heaven. I reached Covey's about nine
o'clock; and just as I stepped into the field, before I had
reached the house, Covey, true to his snakish habits, darted out
at me <181 RETURN TO COVEY'S>from a fence corner, in which he had
secreted himself, for the purpose of securing me. He was amply
provided with a cowskin and a rope; and he evidently intended to
_tie me up_, and to wreak his vengeance on me to the fullest
extent. I should have been an easy prey, had he succeeded in
getting his hands upon me, for I had taken no refreshment since
noon on Friday; and this, together with the pelting, excitement,
and the loss of blood, had reduced my strength. I, however,
darted back into the woods, before the ferocious hound could get
hold of me, and buried myself in a thicket, where he lost sight
of me. The corn-field afforded me cover, in getting to the
woods. But for the tall corn, Covey would have overtaken me, and
made me his captive. He seemed very much chagrined that he did
not catch me, and gave up the chase, very reluctantly; for I
could see his angry movements, toward the house from which he had
sallied, on his foray.

Well, now I am clear of Covey, and of his wrathful lash, for
present. I am in the wood, buried in its somber gloom, and
hushed in its solemn silence; hid from all human eyes; shut in
with nature and nature's God, and absent from all human
contrivances. Here was a good place to pray; to pray for help
for deliverance--a prayer I had often made before. But how could
I pray? Covey could pray--Capt. Auld could pray--I would fain
pray; but doubts (arising partly from my own neglect of the means
of grace, and partly from the sham religion which everywhere
prevailed, cast in my mind a doubt upon all religion, and led me
to the conviction that prayers were unavailing and delusive)
prevented my embracing the opportunity, as a religious one.
Life, in itself, had almost become burdensome to me. All my
outward relations were against me; I must stay here and starve (I
was already hungry) or go home to Covey's, and have my flesh torn
to pieces, and my spirit humbled under the cruel lash of Covey.
This was the painful alternative presented to me. The day was
long and irksome. My physical condition was deplorable. I was
weak, from the toils of the previous day, and from the want of
<182>food and rest; and had been so little concerned about my
appearance, that I had not yet washed the blood from my garments.
I was an object of horror, even to myself. Life, in Baltimore,
when most oppressive, was a paradise to this. What had I done,
what had my parents done, that such a life as this should be
mine? That day, in the woods, I would have exchanged my manhood
for the brutehood of an ox.

Night came. I was still in the woods, unresolved what to do.
Hunger had not yet pinched me to the point of going home, and I
laid myself down in the leaves to rest; for I had been watching
for hunters all day, but not being molested during the day, I
expected no disturbance during the night. I had come to the
conclusion that Covey relied upon hunger to drive me home; and in
this I was quite correct--the facts showed that he had made no
effort to catch me, since morning.

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

As soon as I had ascertained that the disturber of my solitude
was not an enemy, but the good-hearted Sandy--a man as famous
among the slaves of the neighborhood for his good nature, as for
his good sense I came out from my hiding place, and made <183 THE
ASH CAKE SUPPER>myself known to him. I explained the
circumstances of the past two days, which had driven me to the
woods, and he deeply compassionated my distress. It was a bold
thing for him to shelter me, and I could not ask him to do so;
for, had I been found in his hut, he would have suffered the
penalty of thirty-nine lashes on his bare back, if not something
worse. But Sandy was too generous to permit the fear of
punishment to prevent his relieving a brother bondman from hunger
and exposure; and, therefore, on his own motion, I accompanied
him to his home, or rather to the home of his wife--for the house
and lot were hers. His wife was called up--for it was now about
midnight--a fire was made, some Indian meal was soon mixed with
salt and water, and an ash cake was baked in a hurry to relieve
my hunger. Sandy's wife was not behind him in kindness--both
seemed to esteem it a privilege to succor me; for, although I was
hated by Covey and by my master, I was loved by the colored
people, because _they_ thought I was hated for my knowledge, and
persecuted because I was feared. I was the _only_ slave _now_ in
that region who could read and write. There had been one other
man, belonging to Mr. Hugh Hamilton, who could read (his name was
"Jim"), but he, poor fellow, had, shortly after my coming into
the neighborhood, been sold off to the far south. I saw Jim
ironed, in the cart, to be carried to Easton for sale--pinioned
like a yearling for the slaughter. My knowledge was now the
pride of my brother slaves; and, no doubt, Sandy felt something
of the general interest in me on that account. The supper was
soon ready, and though I have feasted since, with honorables,
lord mayors and aldermen, over the sea, my supper on ash cake and
cold water, with Sandy, was the meal, of all my life, most sweet
to my taste, and now most vivid in my memory.

Supper over, Sandy and I went into a discussion of what was
_possible_ for me, under the perils and hardships which now
overshadowed my path. The question was, must I go back to Covey,
or must I now tempt to run away? Upon a careful survey, the
latter was found to be impossible; for I was on a narrow neck of
land, <184>every avenue from which would bring me in sight of
pursuers. There was the Chesapeake bay to the right, and "Pot-
pie" river to the left, and St. Michael's and its neighborhood
occupying the only space through which there was any retreat.

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

Now all this talk about the root, was to me, very absurd and
ridiculous, if not positively sinful. I at first rejected the
idea that the simple carrying a root on my right side (a root, by
the way, over which I walked every time I went into the woods)
could possess any such magic power as he ascribed to it, and I
was, therefore, not disposed to cumber my pocket with it. I had
a positive aversion to all pretenders to _"divination."_ It was
beneath one of my intelligence to countenance such dealings with
the devil, as this power implied. But, with all my learning--it
was really precious little--Sandy was more than a match for me.
"My book learning," he said, "had not kept Covey off me" (a
powerful <185 THE MAGIC ROOT>argument just then) and he entreated
me, with flashing eyes, to try this. If it did me no good, it
could do me no harm, and it would cost me nothing, any way.
Sandy was so earnest, and so confident of the good qualities of
this weed, that, to please him, rather than from any conviction
of its excellence, I was induced to take it. He had been to me
the good Samaritan, and had, almost providentially, found me, and
helped me when I could not help myself; how did I know but that
the hand of the Lord was in it? With thoughts of this sort, I
took the roots from Sandy, and put them in my right hand pocket.

This was, of course, Sunday morning. Sandy now urged me to go
home, with all speed, and to walk up bravely to the house, as
though nothing had happened. I saw in Sandy too deep an insight
into human nature, with all his superstition, not to have some
respect for his advice; and perhaps, too, a slight gleam or
shadow of his superstition had fallen upon me. At any rate, I
started off toward Covey's, as directed by Sandy. Having, the
previous night, poured my griefs into Sandy's ears, and got him
enlisted in my behalf, having made his wife a sharer in my
sorrows, and having, also, become well refreshed by sleep and
food, I moved off, quite courageously, toward the much dreaded
Covey's. Singularly enough, just as I entered his yard gate, I
met him and his wife, dressed in their Sunday best--looking as
smiling as angels--on their way to church. The manner of Covey
astonished me. There was something really benignant in his
countenance. He spoke to me as never before; told me that the
pigs had got into the lot, and he wished me to drive them out;
inquired how I was, and seemed an altered man. This
extraordinary conduct of Covey, really made me begin to think
that Sandy's herb had more virtue in it than I, in my pride, had
been willing to allow; and, had the day been other than Sunday, I
should have attributed Covey's altered manner solely to the magic
power of the root. I suspected, however, that the _Sabbath_, and
not the _root_, was the real explanation of Covey's manner. His
religion hindered him from breaking the <186>Sabbath, but not
from breaking my skin. He had more respect for the _day_ than
for the _man_, for whom the day was mercifully given; for while
he would cut and slash my body during the week, he would not
hesitate, on Sunday, to teach me the value of my soul, or the way
of life and salvation by Jesus Christ.

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

Whilst I was obeying his order to feed and get the horses ready
for the field, and when in the act of going up the stable loft
for the purpose of throwing down some blades, Covey sneaked into
the stable, in his peculiar snake-like way, and seizing me
suddenly by the leg, he brought me to the stable floor, giving my
newly mended body a fearful jar. I now forgot my roots, and
remembered my pledge to _stand up in my own defense_. The brute
was endeavoring skillfully to get a slip-knot on my legs, before
I could <187 THE FIGHT>draw up my feet. As soon as I found what
he was up to, I gave a sudden spring (my two day's rest had been
of much service to me,) and by that means, no doubt, he was able
to bring me to the floor so heavily. He was defeated in his plan
of tying me. While down, he seemed to think he had me very
securely in his power. He little thought he was--as the rowdies
say--"in" for a "rough and tumble" fight; but such was the fact.
Whence came the daring spirit necessary to grapple with a man
who, eight-and-forty hours before, could, with his slightest word
have made me tremble like a leaf in a storm, I do not know; at
any rate, _I was resolved to fight_, and, what was better still,
I was actually hard at it. The fighting madness had come upon
me, and I found my strong fingers firmly attached to the throat
of my cowardly tormentor; as heedless of consequences, at the
moment, as though we stood as equals before the law. The very
color of the man was forgotten. I felt as supple as a cat, and
was ready for the snakish creature at every turn. Every blow of
his was parried, though I dealt no blows in turn. I was strictly
on the _defensive_, preventing him from injuring me, rather than
trying to injure him. I flung him on the ground several times,
when he meant to have hurled me there. I held him so firmly by
the throat, that his blood followed my nails. He held me, and I
held him.

All was fair, thus far, and the contest was about equal. My
resistance was entirely unexpected, and Covey was taken all aback
by it, for he trembled in every limb. _"Are you going to
resist_, you scoundrel?" said he. To which, I returned a polite
_"Yes sir;"_ steadily gazing my interrogator in the eye, to meet
the first approach or dawning of the blow, which I expected my
answer would call forth. But, the conflict did not long remain
thus equal. Covey soon cried out lustily for help; not that I
was obtaining any marked advantage over him, or was injuring him,
but because he was gaining none over me, and was not able, single
handed, to conquer me. He called for his cousin Hughs, to come
to his assistance, and now the scene was changed. I was
compelled to <188>give blows, as well as to parry them; and,
since I was, in any case, to suffer for resistance, I felt (as
the musty proverb goes) that "I might as well be hanged for an
old sheep as a lamb." I was still _defensive_ toward Covey, but
_aggressive_ toward Hughs; and, at the first approach of the
latter, I dealt a blow, in my desperation, which fairly sickened
my youthful assailant. He went off, bending over with pain, and
manifesting no disposition to come within my reach again. The
poor fellow was in the act of trying to catch and tie my right
hand, and while flattering himself with success, I gave him the
kick which sent him staggering away in pain, at the same time
that I held Covey with a firm hand.

Taken completely by surprise, Covey seemed to have lost his usual
strength and coolness. He was frightened, and stood puffing and
blowing, seemingly unable to command words or blows. When he saw
that poor Hughes was standing half bent with pain--his courage
quite gone the cowardly tyrant asked if I "meant to persist in my
resistance." I told him "_I did mean to resist, come what
might_;" that I had been by him treated like a _brute_, during
the last six months; and that I should stand it _no longer_.
With that, he gave me a shake, and attempted to drag me toward a
stick of wood, that was lying just outside the stable door. He
meant to knock me down with it; but, just as he leaned over to
get the stick, I seized him with both hands by the collar, and,
with a vigorous and sudden snatch, I brought my assailant
harmlessly, his full length, on the _not_ overclean ground--for
we were now in the cow yard. He had selected the place for the
fight, and it was but right that he should have all the
advantges{sic} of his own selection.

By this time, Bill, the hiredman, came home. He had been to Mr.
Hemsley's, to spend the Sunday with his nominal wife, and was
coming home on Monday morning, to go to work. Covey and I had
been skirmishing from before daybreak, till now, that the sun was
almost shooting his beams over the eastern woods, and we were
still at it. I could not see where the matter was to terminate.
He evidently was afraid to let me go, lest I should again <189
BILL REFUSES TO ASSIST COVEY>make off to the woods; otherwise, he
would probably have obtained arms from the house, to frighten me.
Holding me, Covey called upon Bill for assistance. The scene
here, had something comic about it. "Bill," who knew _precisely_
what Covey wished him to do, affected ignorance, and pretended he
did not know what to do. "What shall I do, Mr. Covey," said
Bill. "Take hold of him--take hold of him!" said Covey. With a
toss of his head, peculiar to Bill, he said, "indeed, Mr. Covey I
want to go to work." _"This is_ your work," said Covey; "take
hold of him." Bill replied, with spirit, "My master hired me
here, to work, and _not_ to help you whip Frederick." It was now
my turn to speak. "Bill," said I, "don't put your hands on me."
To which he replied, "My GOD! Frederick, I ain't goin' to tech
ye," and Bill walked off, leaving Covey and myself to settle our
matters as best we might.

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

Covey at length (two hours had elapsed) gave up the contest.
Letting me go, he said--puffing and blowing at a great rate--
"Now, you scoundrel, go to your work; I would not have whipped
you half so much as I have had you not resisted." The fact was,
<190>_he had not whipped me at all_. He had not, in all the
scuffle, drawn a single drop of blood from me. I had drawn blood
from him; and, even without this satisfaction, I should have been
victorious, because my aim had not been to injure him, but to
prevent his injuring me.

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

Well, my dear reader, this battle with Mr. Covey--undignified as
it was, and as I fear my narration of it is--was the turning
point in my _"life as a slave_." It rekindled in my breast the
smouldering embers of liberty; it brought up my Baltimore dreams,
and revived a sense of my own manhood. I was a changed being
after that fight. I was _nothing_ before; I WAS A MAN NOW. It
recalled to life my crushed self-respect and my self-confidence,
and inspired me with a renewed determination to be A FREEMAN. A
man, without force, is without the essential dignity of humanity.
Human nature is so constituted, that it cannot _honor_ a helpless
man, although it can _pity_ him; and even this it cannot do long,
if the signs of power do not arise.

He can only understand the effect of this combat on my spirit,
who has himself incurred something, hazarded something, in
repelling the unjust and cruel aggressions of a tyrant. Covey
was a tyrant, and a cowardly one, withal. After resisting him, I
felt as I had never felt before. It was a resurrection from the
dark and pestiferous tomb of slavery, to the heaven of
comparative freedom. I was no longer a servile coward, trembling
under the frown of a brother worm of the dust, but, my long-cowed
spirit was roused to an attitude of manly independence. I had
reached the point, at which I was _not afraid to die_. This <191
RESULTS OF THE VICTORY>spirit made me a freeman in _fact_, while
I remained a slave in _form_. When a slave cannot be flogged he
is more than half free. He has a domain as broad as his own
manly heart to defend, and he is really _"a power on earth_."
While slaves prefer their lives, with flogging, to instant death,
they will always find Christians enough, like unto Covey, to
accommodate that preference. From this time, until that of my
escape from slavery, I was never fairly whipped. Several
attempts were made to whip me, but they were always unsuccessful.
Bruises I did get, as I shall hereafter inform the reader; but
the case I have been describing, was the end of the brutification
to which slavery had subjected me.

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

The only explanation I can venture to suggest, is the fact, that
Covey was, probably, ashamed to have it known and confessed that
he had been mastered by a boy of sixteen. Mr. Covey enjoyed the
unbounded and very valuable reputation, of being a first rate
overseer and _Negro breaker_. By means of this reputation, he
was able to procure his hands for _very trifling_ compensation,
and with very great ease. His interest and his pride mutually
suggested the wisdom of passing the matter by, in silence. The
story that he had undertaken to whip a lad, and had been
resisted, was, of itself, sufficient to damage him; for his
bearing should, in the estimation of slaveholders, be of that
imperial order that should make such an occurrence _impossible_.
I judge from these circumstances, that Covey deemed it best to
<192>give me the go-by. It is, perhaps, not altogether
creditable to my natural temper, that, after this conflict with
Mr. Covey, I did, at times, purposely aim to provoke him to an
attack, by refusing to keep with the other hands in the field,
but I could never bully him to another battle. I had made up my
mind to do him serious damage, if he ever again attempted to lay
violent hands on me.

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

_New Relations and Duties_



My term of actual service to Mr. Edward Covey ended on Christmas
day, 1834. I gladly left the snakish Covey, although he was now
as gentle as a lamb. My home for the year 1835 was already
secured--my next master was already selected. There is always
more or less excitement about the matter of changing hands, but I
had become somewhat reckless. I cared very little into whose
hands I fell--I meant to fight my way. Despite of Covey, too,
the report got abroad, that I was hard to whip; that I was guilty
of kicking back; that though generally a good tempered Negro, I
sometimes "_got the devil in me_." These sayings were rife in
Talbot county, and they distinguished me among my servile
brethren. Slaves, generally, will fight each other, and die at
each other's hands; but there are few who are not held in awe by
a white man. Trained from the cradle up, to think and <194>feel
that their masters are superior, and invested with a sort of
sacredness, there are few who can outgrow or rise above the
control which that sentiment exercises. I had now got free from
it, and the thing was known. One bad sheep will spoil a whole
flock. Among the slaves, I was a bad sheep. I hated slavery,
slaveholders, and all pertaining to them; and I did not fail to
inspire others with the same feeling, wherever and whenever
opportunity was presented. This made me a marked lad among the
slaves, and a suspected one among the slaveholders. A knowledge
of my ability to read and write, got pretty widely spread, which
was very much against me.

The days between Christmas day and New Year's, are allowed the
slaves as holidays. During these days, all regular work was
suspended, and there was nothing to do but to keep fires, and
look after the stock. This time was regarded as our own, by the
grace of our masters, and we, therefore used it, or abused it, as
we pleased. Those who had families at a distance, were now
expected to visit them, and to spend with them the entire week.
The younger slaves, or the unmarried ones, were expected to see
to the cattle, and attend to incidental duties at home. The
holidays were variously spent. The sober, thinking and
industrious ones of our number, would employ themselves in
manufacturing corn brooms, mats, horse collars and baskets, and
some of these were very well made. Another class spent their
time in hunting opossums, coons, rabbits, and other game. But
the majority spent the holidays in sports, ball playing,
wrestling, boxing, running foot races, dancing, and drinking
whisky; and this latter mode of spending the time was generally
most agreeable to their masters. A slave who would work during
the holidays, was thought, by his master, undeserving of
holidays. Such an one had rejected the favor of his master.
There was, in this simple act of continued work, an accusation
against slaves; and a slave could not help thinking, that if he
made three dollars during the holidays, he might make three
hundred during the year. Not to be drunk during the holi<195
EFFECTS OF HOLIDAYS>days, was disgraceful; and he was esteemed a
lazy and improvident man, who could not afford to drink whisky
during Christmas.

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

_We raise de wheat,
Dey gib us de corn;
We bake de bread,
Dey gib us de cruss;
We sif de meal,
Dey gib us de huss;
We peal de meat,
Dey gib us de skin,
And dat's de way
Dey takes us in.
We skim de pot,
Dey gib us the liquor,
And say dat's good enough for nigger.
Walk over! walk over!
Tom butter and de fat;
Poor nigger you can't get over dat;
Walk over_!


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

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

To enslave men, successfully and safely, it is necessary to
<196>have their minds occupied with thoughts and aspirations
short of the liberty of which they are deprived. A certain
degree of attainable good must be kept before them. These
holidays serve the purpose of keeping the minds of the slaves
occupied with prospective pleasure, within the limits of slavery.
The young man can go wooing; the married man can visit his wife;
the father and mother can see their children; the industrious and
money loving can make a few dollars; the great wrestler can win
laurels; the young people can meet, and enjoy each other's
society; the drunken man can get plenty of whisky; and the
religious man can hold prayer meetings, preach, pray and exhort
during the holidays. Before the holidays, these are pleasures in
prospect; after the holidays, they become pleasures of memory,
and they serve to keep out thoughts and wishes of a more
dangerous character. Were slaveholders at once to abandon the
practice of allowing their slaves these liberties, periodically,
and to keep them, the year round, closely confined to the narrow
circle of their homes, I doubt not that the south would blaze
with insurrections. These holidays are conductors or safety
valves to carry off the explosive elements inseparable from the
human mind, when reduced to the condition of slavery. But for
these, the rigors of bondage would become too severe for
endurance, and the slave would be forced up to dangerous
desperation. Woe to the slaveholder when he undertakes to hinder
or to prevent the operation of these electric conductors. A
succession of earthquakes would be less destructive, than the
insurrectionary fires which would be sure to burst forth in
different parts of the south, from such interference.

Thus, the holidays, became part and parcel of the gross fraud,
wrongs and inhumanity of slavery. Ostensibly, they are
institutions of benevolence, designed to mitigate the rigors of
slave life, but, practically, they are a fraud, instituted by
human selfishness, the better to secure the ends of injustice and
oppression. The slave's happiness is not the end sought, but,
rather, the master's <197 A DEVICE OF SLAVERY>safety. It is not
from a generous unconcern for the slave's labor that this
cessation from labor is allowed, but from a prudent regard to the
safety of the slave system. I am strengthened in this opinion,
by the fact, that most slaveholders like to have their slaves
spend the holidays in such a manner as to be of no real benefit
to the slaves. It is plain, that everything like rational
enjoyment among the slaves, is frowned upon; and only those wild
and low sports, peculiar to semi-civilized people, are
encouraged. All the license allowed, appears to have no other
object than to disgust the slaves with their temporary freedom,
and to make them as glad to return to their work, as they were to
leave it. By plunging them into exhausting depths of drunkenness
and dissipation, this effect is almost certain to follow. I have
known slaveholders resort to cunning tricks, with a view of
getting their slaves deplorably drunk. A usual plan is, to make
bets on a slave, that he can drink more whisky than any other;
and so to induce a rivalry among them, for the mastery in this
degradation. The scenes, brought about in this way, were often
scandalous and loathsome in the extreme. Whole multitudes might
be found stretched out in brutal drunkenness, at once helpless
and disgusting. Thus, when the slave asks for a few hours of
virtuous freedom, his cunning master takes advantage of his
ignorance, and cheers him with a dose of vicious and revolting
dissipation, artfully labeled with the name of LIBERTY. We were
induced to drink, I among the rest, and when the holidays were
over, we all staggered up from our filth and wallowing, took a
long breath, and went away to our various fields of work;
feeling, upon the whole, rather glad to go from that which our
masters artfully deceived us into the belief was freedom, back
again to the arms of slavery. It was not what we had taken it to
be, nor what it might have been, had it not been abused by us.
It was about as well to be a slave to _master_, as to be a slave
to _rum_ and _whisky._

I am the more induced to take this view of the holiday system,
<198>adopted by slaveholders, from what I know of their treatment
of slaves, in regard to other things. It is the commonest thing
for them to try to disgust their slaves with what they do not
want them to have, or to enjoy. A slave, for instance, likes
molasses; he steals some; to cure him of the taste for it, his
master, in many cases, will go away to town, and buy a large
quantity of the _poorest_ quality, and set it before his slave,
and, with whip in hand, compel him to eat it, until the poor
fellow is made to sicken at the very thought of molasses. The
same course is often adopted to cure slaves of the disagreeable
and inconvenient practice of asking for more food, when their
allowance has failed them. The same disgusting process works
well, too, in other things, but I need not cite them. When a
slave is drunk, the slaveholder has no fear that he will plan an
insurrection; no fear that he will escape to the north. It is
the sober, thinking slave who is dangerous, and needs the
vigilance of his master, to keep him a slave. But, to proceed
with my narrative.

On the first of January, 1835, I proceeded from St. Michael's to
Mr. William Freeland's, my new home. Mr. Freeland lived only
three miles from St. Michael's, on an old worn out farm, which
required much labor to restore it to anything like a self-
supporting establishment.

I was not long in finding Mr. Freeland to be a very different man
from Mr. Covey. Though not rich, Mr. Freeland was what may be
called a well-bred southern gentleman, as different from Covey,
as a well-trained and hardened Negro breaker is from the best
specimen of the first families of the south. Though Freeland was
a slaveholder, and shared many of the vices of his class, he
seemed alive to the sentiment of honor. He had some sense of
justice, and some feelings of humanity. He was fretful,
impulsive and passionate, but I must do him the justice to say,
he was free from the mean and selfish characteristics which
distinguished the creature from which I had now, happily,
escaped. He was open, frank, imperative, and practiced no
concealments, <199 RELIGIOUS SLAVEHOLDERS>disdaining to play the
spy. In all this, he was the opposite of the crafty Covey.

Among the many advantages gained in my change from Covey's to
Freeland's--startling as the statement may be--was the fact that
the latter gentleman made no profession of religion. I assert
_most unhesitatingly_, that the religion of the south--as I have
observed it and proved it--is a mere covering for the most horrid
crimes; the justifier of the most appalling barbarity; a
sanctifier of the most hateful frauds; and a secure shelter,
under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal
abominations fester and flourish. Were I again to be reduced to
the condition of a slave, _next_ to that calamity, I should
regard the fact of being the slave of a religious slaveholder,
the greatest that could befall me. For all slaveholders with
whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I
have found them, almost invariably, the vilest, meanest and
basest of their class. Exceptions there may be, but this is true
of religious slaveholders, _as a class_. It is not for me to
explain the fact. Others may do that; I simply state it as a
fact, and leave the theological, and psychological inquiry, which
it raises, to be decided by others more competent than myself.
Religious slaveholders, like religious persecutors, are ever
extreme in their malice and violence. Very near my new home, on
an adjoining farm, there lived the Rev. Daniel Weeden, who was
both pious and cruel after the real Covey pattern. Mr. Weeden
was a local preacher of the Protestant Methodist persuasion, and
a most zealous supporter of the ordinances of religion,
generally. This Weeden owned a woman called "Ceal," who was a
standing proof of his mercilessness. Poor Ceal's back, always
scantily clothed, was kept literally raw, by the lash of this
religious man and gospel minister. The most notoriously wicked
man--so called in distinction from church members--could hire
hands more easily than this brute. When sent out to find a home,
a slave would never enter the gates of the preacher Weeden, while
a sinful sinner needed a hand. Be<200>have ill, or behave well,
it was the known maxim of Weeden, that it is the duty of a master
to use the lash. If, for no other reason, he contended that this
was essential to remind a slave of his condition, and of his
master's authority. The good slave must be whipped, to be _kept_
good, and the bad slave must be whipped, to be _made_ good. Such
was Weeden's theory, and such was his practice. The back of his
slave-woman will, in the judgment, be the swiftest witness
against him.

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

The reader might imagine a difficulty in finding faults enough
for such frequent whipping. But this is because you have no idea
how easy a matter it is to offend a man who is on the look-out
for offenses. The man, unaccustomed to slaveholding, would be
astonished to observe how many _foggable_ offenses there are in
<201>CATALOGUE OF FLOGGABLE OFFENSES>the slaveholder's catalogue
of crimes; and how easy it is to commit any one of them, even
when the slave least intends it. A slaveholder, bent on finding
fault, will hatch up a dozen a day, if he chooses to do so, and
each one of these shall be of a punishable description. A mere
look, word, or motion, a mistake, accident, or want of power, are
all matters for which a slave may be whipped at any time. Does a
slave look dissatisfied with his condition? It is said, that he
has the devil in him, and it must be whipped out. Does he answer
_loudly_, when spoken to by his master, with an air of self-
consciousness? Then, must he be taken down a button-hole lower,
by the lash, well laid on. Does he forget, and omit to pull off
his hat, when approaching a white person? Then, he must, or may
be, whipped for his bad manners. Does he ever venture to
vindicate his conduct, when harshly and unjustly accused? Then,
he is guilty of impudence, one of the greatest crimes in the
social catalogue of southern society. To allow a slave to escape
punishment, who has impudently attempted to exculpate himself
from unjust charges, preferred against him by some white person,
is to be guilty of great dereliction of duty. Does a slave ever
venture to suggest a better way of doing a thing, no matter what?
He is, altogether, too officious--wise above what is written--and
he deserves, even if he does not get, a flogging for his
presumption. Does he, while plowing, break a plow, or while
hoeing, break a hoe, or while chopping, break an ax? No matter
what were the imperfections of the implement broken, or the
natural liabilities for breaking, the slave can be whipped for
carelessness. The _reverend_ slaveholder could always find
something of this sort, to justify him in using the lash several
times during the week. Hopkins--like Covey and Weeden--were
shunned by slaves who had the privilege (as many had) of finding
their own masters at the end of each year; and yet, there was not
a man in all that section of country, who made a louder
profession of religion, than did MR. RIGBY HOPKINS.

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

My poor, weather-beaten bark now reached smoother water, and
gentler breezes. My stormy life at Covey's had been of service
to me. The things that would have seemed very hard, had I gone
direct to Mr. Freeland's, from the home of Master Thomas, were
now (after the hardships at Covey's) "trifles light as air." I
was still a field hand, and had come to prefer the severe labor
of the field, to the enervating duties of a house servant. I had
become large and strong; and had begun to take pride in the fact,
that I could do as much hard work as some of the older men.
There is much rivalry among slaves, at times, as to which can do
the most work, and masters generally seek to promote such
rivalry. But some of us were too wise to race with each other
very long. Such racing, we had the sagacity to see, was not
likely to pay. We had our times for measuring each other's
strength, but we knew too much to keep up the competition so long
as to produce an extraordinary day's work. We knew that if, by
extraordinary exertion, a large quantity of work was done in one
day, the fact, becoming known to the master, might lead him to
require the same amount every day. This thought was enough to
bring us to a dead halt when over so much excited for the race.

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

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

This was a vast improvement on the rule at Covey's. There, I
<203 NOT YET CONTENTED>was the general pack horse. Bill Smith
was protected, by a positive prohibition made by his rich master,
and the command of the rich slaveholder is LAW to the poor one;
Hughes was favored, because of his relationship to Covey; and the
hands hired temporarily, escaped flogging, except as they got it
over my poor shoulders. Of course, this comparison refers to the
time when Covey _could_ whip me.

Mr. Freeland, like Mr. Covey, gave his hands enough to eat, but,
unlike Mr. Covey, he gave them time to take their meals; he
worked us hard during the day, but gave us the night for rest--
another advantage to be set to the credit of the sinner, as
against that of the saint. We were seldom in the field after
dark in the evening, or before sunrise in the morning. Our
implements of husbandry were of the most improved pattern, and
much superior to those used at Covey's.

Nothwithstanding the improved condition which was now mine, and
the many advantages I had gained by my new home, and my new
master, I was still restless and discontented. I was about as
hard to please by a master, as a master is by slave. The freedom
from bodily torture and unceasing labor, had given my mind an
increased sensibility, and imparted to it greater activity. I
was not yet exactly in right relations. "How be it, that was not
first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and
afterward that which is spiritual." When entombed at Covey's,
shrouded in darkness and physical wretchedness, temporal
wellbeing was the grand _desideratum;_ but, temporal wants
supplied, the spirit puts in its claims. Beat and cuff your
slave, keep him hungry and spiritless, and he will follow the
chain of his master like a dog; but, feed and clothe him well--
work him moderately--surround him with physical comfort--and
dreams of freedom intrude. Give him a _bad_ master, and he
aspires to a _good_ master; give him a good master, and he wishes
to become his _own_ master. Such is human nature. You may hurl
a man so low, beneath the level of his kind, that he loses all
just ideas of his natural position; <204>but elevate him a
little, and the clear conception of rights arises to life and
power, and leads him onward. Thus elevated, a little, at
Freeland's, the dreams called into being by that good man, Father
Lawson, when in Baltimore, began to visit me; and shoots from the
tree of liberty began to put forth tender buds, and dim hopes of
the future began to dawn.

I found myself in congenial society, at Mr. Freeland's. There
were Henry Harris, John Harris, Handy Caldwell, and Sandy

Henry and John were brothers, and belonged to Mr. Freeland. They
were both remarkably bright and intelligent, though neither of
them could read. Now for mischief! I had not been long at
Freeland's before I was up to my old tricks. I early began to
address my companions on the subject of education, and the
advantages of intelligence over ignorance, and, as far as I
dared, I tried to show the agency of ignorance in keeping men in
slavery. Webster's spelling book and the _Columbian Orator_ were
looked into again. As summer came on, and the long Sabbath days
stretched themselves over our idleness, I became uneasy, and
wanted a Sabbath school, in which to exercise my gifts, and to
impart the little knowledge of letters which I possessed, to my
brother slaves. A house was hardly necessary in the summer time;
I could hold my school under the shade of an old oak tree, as
well as any where else. The thing was, to get the scholars, and
to have them thoroughly imbued with the desire to learn. Two
such boys were quickly secured, in Henry and John, and from them
the contagion spread. I was not long bringing around me twenty
or thirty young men, who enrolled themselves, gladly, in my
Sabbath school, and were willing to meet me regularly, under the
trees or elsewhere, for the purpose of learning to read. It was


[6] This is the same man who gave me the roots to prevent my
being whipped by Mr. Covey. He was "a clever soul." We used
frequently to talk about the fight with Covey, and as often as we
did so, he would claim my success as the result of the roots
which he gave me. This superstition is very common among the
more ignorant slaves. A slave seldom dies, but that his death is
attributed to trickery.


<205 SABBATH SCHOOL INSTITUTED>surprising with what ease they
provided themselves with spelling books. These were mostly the
cast off books of their young masters or mistresses. I taught,
at first, on our own farm. All were impressed with the necessity
of keeping the matter as private as possible, for the fate of the
St. Michael's attempt was notorious, and fresh in the minds of
all. Our pious masters, at St. Michael's, must not know that a
few of their dusky brothers were learning to read the word of
God, lest they should come down upon us with the lash and chain.
We might have met to drink whisky, to wrestle, fight, and to do
other unseemly things, with no fear of interruption from the
saints or sinners of St. Michael's.

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

Had any one asked a religious white man, in St. Michael's, twenty
years ago, the names of three men in that town, whose lives were
most after the pattern of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the
first three would have been as follows:

GARRISON WEST, _Class Leader_.
THOMAS AULD, _Class Leader_.

And yet, these were men who ferociously rushed in upon my Sabbath
school, at St. Michael's, armed with mob-like missiles, and I
must say, I thought him a Christian, until he took part in bloody
by the lash. This same Garrison West was my class leader, and I
must say, I thought him a Christian, until he took part in
breaking up my school. He led me no more after that. The plea
for this outrage was then, as it is now and at all times--the
danger to good order. If the slaves learnt to read, they would
learn something else, and something worse. The peace of slavery
would be disturbed; slave rule would be endangered. I leave the
reader to <206>characterize a system which is endangered by such
causes. I do not dispute the soundness of the reasoning. It is
perfectly sound; and, if slavery be _right_, Sabbath schools for
teaching slaves to read the bible are _wrong_, and ought to be
put down. These Christian class leaders were, to this extent,
consistent. They had settled the question, that slavery is
_right_, and, by that standard, they determined that Sabbath
schools are wrong. To be sure, they were Protestant, and held to
the great Protestant right of every man to _"search the
scriptures"_ for himself; but, then, to all general rules, there
are _exceptions_. How convenient! What crimes may not be
committed under the doctrine of the last remark. But, my dear,
class leading Methodist brethren, did not condescend to give me a
reason for breaking up the Sabbath school at St. Michael's; it
was enough that they had determined upon its destruction. I am,
however, digressing.

After getting the school cleverly into operation, the second time
holding it in the woods, behind the barn, and in the shade of
trees--I succeeded in inducing a free colored man, who lived
several miles from our house, to permit me to hold my school in a
room at his house. He, very kindly, gave me this liberty; but he
incurred much peril in doing so, for the assemblage was an
unlawful one. I shall not mention, here, the name of this man;
for it might, even now, subject him to persecution, although the
offenses were committed more than twenty years ago. I had, at
one time, more than forty scholars, all of the right sort; and
many of them succeeded in learning to read. I have met several
slaves from Maryland, who were once my scholars; and who obtained
their freedom, I doubt not, partly in consequence of the ideas
imparted to them in that school. I have had various employments
during my short life; but I look back to _none_ with more
satisfaction, than to that afforded by my Sunday school. An
attachment, deep and lasting, sprung up between me and my
persecuted pupils, which made parting from them intensely
grievous; and, <207 FRIENDSHIP AMONG SLAVES>when I think that
most of these dear souls are yet shut up in this abject
thralldom, I am overwhelmed with grief.

Besides my Sunday school, I devoted three evenings a week to my
fellow slaves, during the winter. Let the reader reflect upon
the fact, that, in this christian country, men and women are
hiding from professors of religion, in barns, in the woods and
fields, in order to learn to read the _holy bible_. Those dear
souls, who came to my Sabbath school, came _not_ because it was
popular or reputable to attend such a place, for they came under
the liability of having forty stripes laid on their naked backs.
Every moment they spend in my school, they were under this
terrible liability; and, in this respect, I was sharer with them.
Their minds had been cramped and starved by their cruel masters;
the light of education had been completely excluded; and their
hard earnings had been taken to educate their master's children.
I felt a delight in circumventing the tyrants, and in blessing
the victims of their curses.

The year at Mr. Freeland's passed off very smoothly, to outward
seeming. Not a blow was given me during the whole year. To the
credit of Mr. Freeland--irreligious though he was--it must be
stated, that he was the best master I ever had, until I became my
own master, and assumed for myself, as I had a right to do, the
responsibility of my own existence and the exercise of my own
powers. For much of the happiness--or absence of misery--with
which I passed this year with Mr. Freeland, I am indebted to the
genial temper and ardent friendship of my brother slaves. They
were, every one of them, manly, generous and brave, yes; I say
they were brave, and I will add, fine looking. It is seldom the
lot of mortals to have truer and better friends than were the
slaves on this farm. It is not uncommon to charge slaves with
great treachery toward each other, and to believe them incapable
of confiding in each other; but I must say, that I never loved,
esteemed, or confided in men, more than I did in these. They
were as true as steel, and no band of brothers could have been
more <208>loving. There were no mean advantages taken of each
other, as is sometimes the case where slaves are situated as we
were; no tattling; no giving each other bad names to Mr.
Freeland; and no elevating one at the expense of the other. We
never undertook to do any thing, of any importance, which was
likely to affect each other, without mutual consultation. We
were generally a unit, and moved together. Thoughts and
sentiments were exchanged between us, which might well be called
very incendiary, by oppressors and tyrants; and perhaps the time
has not even now come, when it is safe to unfold all the flying
suggestions which arise in the minds of intelligent slaves.
Several of my friends and brothers, if yet alive, are still in
some part of the house of bondage; and though twenty years have
passed away, the suspicious malice of slavery might punish them
for even listening to my thoughts.

The slaveholder, kind or cruel, is a slaveholder still--the every
hour violator of the just and inalienable rights of man; and he
is, therefore, every hour silently whetting the knife of
vengeance for his own throat. He never lisps a syllable in
commendation of the fathers of this republic, nor denounces any
attempted oppression of himself, without inviting the knife to
his own throat, and asserting the rights of rebellion for his own

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



_The Run-Away Plot_



I am now at the beginning of the year 1836, a time favorable for
serious thoughts. The mind naturally occupies itself with the
mysteries of life in all its phases--the ideal, the real and the
actual. Sober people look both ways at the beginning of the
year, surveying the errors of the past, and providing against
possible errors of the future. I, too, was thus exercised. I
had little pleasure <210>in retrospect, and the prospect was not
very brilliant. "Notwithstanding," thought I, "the many
resolutions and prayers I have made, in behalf of freedom, I am,
this first day of the year 1836, still a slave, still wandering
in the depths of spirit-devouring thralldom. My faculties and
powers of body and soul are not my own, but are the property of a
fellow mortal, in no sense superior to me, except that he has the
physical power to compel me to be owned and controlled by him.
By the combined physical force of the community, I am his slave--
a slave for life." With thoughts like these, I was perplexed and
chafed; they rendered me gloomy and disconsolate. The anguish of
my mind may not be written.

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

But the kindness of the slavemaster only gilds the chain of
slavery, and detracts nothing from its weight or power. The
thought that men are made for other and better uses than slavery,
thrives best under the gentle treatment of a kind master. But
the grim visage of slavery can assume no smiles which can
fascinate the partially enlightened slave, into a forgetfulness
of his bondage, nor of the desirableness of liberty.

I was not through the first month of this, my second year with
the kind and gentlemanly Mr. Freeland, before I was earnestly
considering and advising plans for gaining that freedom, which,
<211 INCIPIENT STEPS TOWARDS ESCAPE>when I was but a mere child,
I had ascertained to be the natural and inborn right of every
member of the human family. The desire for this freedom had been
benumbed, while I was under the brutalizing dominion of Covey;
and it had been postponed, and rendered inoperative, by my truly
pleasant Sunday school engagements with my friends, during the
year 1835, at Mr. Freeland's. It had, however, never entirely
subsided. I hated slavery, always, and the desire for freedom
only needed a favorable breeze, to fan it into a blaze, at any
moment. The thought of only being a creature of the _present_
and the _past_, troubled me, and I longed to have a _future_--a
future with hope in it. To be shut up entirely to the past and
present, is abhorrent to the human mind; it is to the soul--whose
life and happiness is unceasing progress--what the prison is to
the body; a blight and mildew, a hell of horrors. The dawning of
this, another year, awakened me from my temporary slumber, and
roused into life my latent, but long cherished aspirations for
freedom. I was now not only ashamed to be contented in slavery,
but ashamed to _seem_ to be contented, and in my present
favorable condition, under the mild rule of Mr. F., I am not sure
that some kind reader will not condemn me for being over
ambitious, and greatly wanting in proper humility, when I say the
truth, that I now drove from me all thoughts of making the best
of my lot, and welcomed only such thoughts as led me away from
the house of bondage. The intense desires, now felt, _to be
free_, quickened by my present favorable circumstances, brought
me to the determination to act, as well as to think and speak.
Accordingly, at the beginning of this year 1836, I took upon me a
solemn vow, that the year which had now dawned upon me should not
close, without witnessing an earnest attempt, on my part, to gain
my liberty. This vow only bound me to make my escape
individually; but the year spent with Mr. Freeland had attached
me, as with "hooks of steel," to my brother slaves. The most
affectionate and confiding friendship existed between us; and I
felt it my duty to give them an opportunity to share in my
<212>virtuous determination by frankly disclosing to them my
plans and purposes. Toward Henry and John Harris, I felt a
friendship as strong as one man can feel for another; for I could
have died with and for them. To them, therefore, with a suitable
degree of caution, I began to disclose my sentiments and plans;
sounding them, the while on the subject of running away, provided
a good chance should offer. I scarcely need tell the reader,
that I did my _very best_ to imbue the minds of my dear friends
with my own views and feelings. Thoroughly awakened, now, and
with a definite vow upon me, all my little reading, which had any
bearing on the subject of human rights, was rendered available in
my communications with my friends. That (to me) gem of a book,
the _Columbian Orator_, with its eloquent orations and spicy
dialogues, denouncing oppression and slavery--telling of what had
been dared, done and suffered by men, to obtain the inestimable
boon of liberty--was still fresh in my memory, and whirled into
the ranks of my speech with the aptitude of well trained
soldiers, going through the drill. The fact is, I here began my
public speaking. I canvassed, with Henry and John, the subject
of slavery, and dashed against it the condemning brand of God's
eternal justice, which it every hour violates. My fellow
servants were neither indifferent, dull, nor inapt. Our feelings
were more alike than our opinions. All, however, were ready to
act, when a feasible plan should be proposed. "Show us _how_ the
thing is to be done," said they, "and all is clear."

We were all, except Sandy, quite free from slaveholding
priestcraft. It was in vain that we had been taught from the
pulpit at St. Michael's, the duty of obedience to our masters; to
recognize God as the author of our enslavement; to regard running
away an offense, alike against God and man; to deem our
enslavement a merciful and beneficial arrangement; to esteem our
condition, in this country, a paradise to that from which we had
been snatched in Africa; to consider our hard hands and dark
color as God's mark of displeasure, and as pointing us out as the
proper <213 FREE FROM PROSLAVERY PRIESTCRAFT>subjects of slavery;
that the relation of master and slave was one of reciprocal
benefits; that our work was not more serviceable to our masters,
than our master's thinking was serviceable to us. I say, it was
in vain that the pulpit of St. Michael's had constantly
inculcated these plausib]e doctrine. Nature laughed them to
scorn. For my own part, I had now become altogether too big for
my chains. Father Lawson's solemn words, of what I ought to be,
and might be, in the providence of God, had not fallen dead on my
soul. I was fast verging toward manhood, and the prophecies of
my childhood were still unfulfilled. The thought, that year
after year had passed away, and my resolutions to run away had
failed and faded--that I was _still a slave_, and a slave, too,
with chances for gaining my freedom diminished and still
diminishing--was not a matter to be slept over easily; nor did I
easily sleep over it.

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

It is the interest and business of slaveholders to study human
nature, with a view to practical results, and many of them attain
astonishing proficiency in discerning the thoughts and emotions
of slaves. They have to deal not with earth, wood, or stone, but
with _men;_ and, by every regard they have for their safety and
prosperity, they must study to know the material on which they
are at work. So much intellect as the slaveholder has around
him, requires watching. Their safety depends upon their
vigilance. Conscious of the injustice and wrong they are every
hour perpe<214>trating, and knowing what they themselves would do
if made the victims of such wrongs, they are looking out for the
first signs of the dread retribution of justice. They watch,
therefore, with skilled and practiced eyes, and have learned to
read, with great accuracy, the state of mind and heart of the
slaves, through his sable face. These uneasy sinners are quick
to inquire into the matter, where the slave is concerned.
Unusual sobriety, apparent abstraction, sullenness and
indifference--indeed, any mood out of the common way--afford
ground for suspicion and inquiry. Often relying on their
superior position and wisdom, they hector and torture the slave
into a confession, by affecting to know the truth of their
accusations. "You have got the devil in you," say they, "and we
will whip him out of you." I have often been put thus to the
torture, on bare suspicion. This system has its disadvantages as
well as their opposite. The slave is sometimes whipped into the
confession of offenses which he never committed. The reader will
see that the good old rule--"a man is to be held innocent until
proved to be guilty"--does not hold good on the slave plantation.
Suspicion and torture are the approved methods of getting at the
truth, here. It was necessary for me, therefore, to keep a watch
over my deportment, lest the enemy should get the better of me.

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

I am the more inclined to think that he suspected us, because,
prudent as we were, as I now look back, I can see that we did
many silly things, very well calculated to awaken suspicion. We
were, <215 HYMNS WITH A DOUBLE MEANING>at times, remarkably
buoyant, singing hymns and making joyous exclamations, almost as
triumphant in their tone as if we reached a land of freedom and
safety. A keen observer might have detected in our repeated
singing of

_O Canaan, sweet Canaan,
I am bound for the land of Canaan,_

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

_I thought I heard them say,
There were lions in the way,
I don't expect to Star
Much longer here.

Run to Jesus--shun the danger--
I don't expect to stay
Much longer here_.

was a favorite air, and had a double meaning. In the lips of
some, it meant the expectation of a speedy summons to a world of
spirits; but, in the lips of _our_ company, it simply meant, a
speedy pilgrimage toward a free state, and deliverance from all
the evils and dangers of slavery.

I had succeeded in winning to my (what slaveholders would call
wicked) scheme, a company of five young men, the very flower of
the neighborhood, each one of whom would have commanded one
thousand dollars in the home market. At New Orleans, they would
have brought fifteen hundred dollars a piece, and, perhaps, more.
The names of our party were as follows: Henry Harris; John
Harris, brother to Henry; Sandy Jenkins, of root memory; Charles
Roberts, and Henry Bailey. I was the youngest, but one, of the
party. I had, however, the advantage of them all, in experience,
and in a knowledge of letters. This gave me great influence over
them. Perhaps not one of them, left to himself, would have
dreamed of escape as a possible thing. Not one of them was self-
moved in the matter. They all wanted to be free; but the serious
thought of running away, had not entered into <216>their minds,
until I won them to the undertaking. They all were tolerably
well off--for slaves--and had dim hopes of being set free, some
day, by their masters. If any one is to blame for disturbing the
quiet of the slaves and slave-masters of the neighborhood of St.
Michael's, _I am the man_. I claim to be the instigator of the
high crime (as the slaveholders regard it) and I kept life in it,
until life could be kept in it no longer.

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

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

We had several words, expressive of things, important to us,
which we understood, but which, even if distinctly heard by an
outsider, would convey no certain meaning. I have reasons for
suppressing these _pass-words_, which the reader will easily
divine. I hated the secrecy; but where slavery is powerful, and
liberty is weak, the latter is driven to concealment or to

The prospect was not always a bright one. At times, we were
almost tempted to abandon the enterprise, and to get back to that
comparative peace of mind, which even a man under the gallows
might feel, when all hope of escape had vanished. Quiet bondage
was felt to be better than the doubts, fears and uncertainties,
which now so sadly perplexed and disturbed us.

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

To look at the map, and observe the proximity of Eastern Shore,
Maryland, to Delaware and Pennsylvania, it may seem to the reader
quite absurd, to regard the proposed escape as a formidable
undertaking. But to _understand_, some one has said a man must
_stand under_. The real distance was great enough, but the
imagined distance was, to our ignorance, even greater. Every
slaveholder seeks to impress his slave with a belief in the
boundlessness of slave territory, and of his own almost
illimitable power. We all had vague and indistinct notions of
the geography of the country.

The distance, however, is not the chief trouble. The nearer are
the lines of a slave state and the borders of a free one, the
greater the peril. Hired kidnappers infest these borders. Then,
too, we knew that merely reaching a free state did not free us;
that, wherever caught, we could be returned to slavery. We could
see no spot on this side the ocean, where we could be free. We
had heard of Canada, the real Canaan of the American bondmen,
simply as a country to which the wild goose and the swan repaired
at the end of winter, to escape the heat of summer, but not as
the home of man. I knew something of theology, but nothing of
geography. I really did not, at that time, know that there was a
state of New York, or a state of Massachusetts. I had heard of
Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, and all the southern
states, but was ignorant of the free states, generally. New York
city was our northern limit, and to go there, and be forever
harassed with the liability of being hunted down and returned to
slavery--with the certainty of being treated ten times worse than
we had ever been treated before was a prospect far from
delightful, and it might well cause some hesitation about
engaging in the enterprise. The case, sometimes, to our excited
visions, <218>stood thus: At every gate through which we had to
pass, we saw a watchman; at every ferry, a guard; on every
bridge, a sentinel; and in every wood, a patrol or slave-hunter.
We were hemmed in on every side. The good to be sought, and the
evil to be shunned, were flung in the balance, and weighed
against each other. On the one hand, there stood slavery; a
stern reality, glaring frightfully upon us, with the blood of
millions in his polluted skirts--terrible to behold--greedily
devouring our hard earnings and feeding himself upon our flesh.
Here was the evil from which to escape. On the other hand, far
away, back in the hazy distance, where all forms seemed but
shadows, under the flickering light of the north star--behind
some craggy hill or snow-covered mountain--stood a doubtful
freedom, half frozen, beckoning us to her icy domain. This was
the good to be sought. The inequality was as great as that
between certainty and uncertainty. This, in itself, was enough
to stagger us; but when we came to survey the untrodden road, and
conjecture the many possible difficulties, we were appalled, and
at times, as I have said, were upon the point of giving over the
struggle altogether.

The reader can have little idea of the phantoms of trouble which
flit, in such circumstances, before the uneducated mind of the
slave. Upon either side, we saw grim death assuming a variety of
horrid shapes. Now, it was starvation, causing us, in a strange
and friendless land, to eat our own flesh. Now, we were
contending with the waves (for our journey was in part by water)
and were drowned. Now, we were hunted by dogs, and overtaken and
torn to pieces by their merciless fangs. We were stung by
scorpions--chased by wild beasts--bitten by snakes; and, worst of
all, after having succeeded in swimming rivers--encountering wild
beasts--sleeping in the woods--suffering hunger, cold, heat and
nakedness--we supposed ourselves to be overtaken by hired
kidnappers, who, in the name of the law, and for their thrice
accursed reward, would, perchance, fire upon us--kill some, wound
others, and capture all. This dark pic<219 IMAGINARY
DIFFICULTIES>ture, drawn by ignorance and fear, at times greatly
shook our determination, and not unfrequently caused us to

_Rather bear those ills we had
Than fly to others which we knew not of_.


I am not disposed to magnify this circumstance in my experience,
and yet I think I shall seem to be so disposed, to the reader.
No man can tell the intense agony which is felt by the slave,
when wavering on the point of making his escape. All that he has
is at stake; and even that which he has not, is at stake, also.
The life which he has, may be lost, and the liberty which he
seeks, may not be gained.

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

In the progress of our preparations, Sandy, the root man, became
troubled. He began to have dreams, and some of them were very
distressing. One of these, which happened on a Friday night,
was, to him, of great significance; and I am quite ready to
confess, that I felt somewhat damped by it myself. He said, "I
dreamed, last night, that I was roused from sleep, by strange
noises, like the voices of a swarm of angry birds, that caused a
roar as they passed, which fell upon my ear like a coming gale
<220>over the tops of the trees. Looking up to see what it could
mean," said Sandy, "I saw you, Frederick, in the claws of a huge
bird, surrounded by a large number of birds, of all colors and
sizes. These were all picking at you, while you, with your arms,
seemed to be trying to protect your eyes. Passing over me, the
birds flew in a south-westerly direction, and I watched them
until they were clean out of sight. Now, I saw this as plainly
as I now see you; and furder, honey, watch de Friday night dream;
dare is sumpon in it, shose you born; dare is, indeed, honey."

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

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

There were several objections to this plan. One was, the danger
from gales on the bay. In rough weather, the waters of the
Chesapeake are much agitated, and there is danger, in a canoe, of
being swamped by the waves. Another objection was, that the
canoe would soon be missed; the absent persons would, at once, be
suspected of having taken it; and we should be pursued by some of
the fast sailing bay craft out of St. Michael's. Then, again, if
we reached the head of the bay, and turned the canoe adrift, she
might prove a guide to our track, and bring the land hunters
after us.

These and other objections were set aside, by the stronger ones
which could be urged against every other plan that could then be
<221 PASSES WRITTEN>suggested. On the water, we had a chance of
being regarded as fishermen, in the service of a master. On the
other hand, by taking the land route, through the counties
adjoining Delaware, we should be subjected to all manner of
interruptions, and many very disagreeable questions, which might
give us serious trouble. Any white man is authorized to stop a
man of color, on any road, and examine him, and arrest him, if he
so desires.

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

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


This is to certify, that I, the undersigned, have given the
bearer, my servant, John, full liberty to go to Baltimore, to
spend the Easter holidays.
Near St. Michael's, Talbot county, Maryland


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

These were long, tedious days and nights. The suspense was
painful, in the extreme. To balance probabilities, where life
and liberty hang on the result, requires steady nerves. I panted
for action, and was glad when the day, at the close of which we
were to start, dawned upon us. Sleeping, the night before, was
<222>out of the question. I probably felt more deeply than any
of my companions, because I was the instigator of the movement.
The responsibility of the whole enterprise rested on my
shoulders. The glory of success, and the shame and confusion of
failure, could not be matters of indifference to me. Our food
was prepared; our clothes were packed up; we were all ready to
go, and impatient for Saturday morning--considering that the last
morning of our bondage.

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

Our anxiety grew more and more intense, as the time of our
intended departure for the north drew nigh. It was truly felt to
be a matter of life and death with us; and we fully intended to
_fight_ as well as _run_, if necessity should occur for that
extremity. But the trial hour was not yet to come. It was easy
to resolve, but not so easy to act. I expected there might be
some drawing back, at the last. It was natural that there should
be; therefore, during the intervening time, I lost no opportunity
to explain away difficulties, to remove doubts, to dispel fears,
and to inspire all with firmness. It was too late to look back;
and _now_ was the time to go forward. Like most other men, we
had done the talking part of our <223 APPEALS TO COMRADES>work,
long and well; and the time had come to _act_ as if we were in
earnest, and meant to be as true in action as in words. I did
not forget to appeal to the pride of my comrades, by telling them
that, if after having solemnly promised to go, as they had done,
they now failed to make the attempt, they would, in effect, brand
themselves with cowardice, and might as well sit down, fold their
arms, and acknowledge themselves as fit only to be _slaves_.
This detestable character, all were unwilling to assume. Every
man except Sandy (he, much to our regret, withdrew) stood firm;
and at our last meeting we pledged ourselves afresh, and in the
most solemn manner, that, at the time appointed, we _would_
certainly start on our long journey for a free country. This
meeting was in the middle of the week, at the end of which we
were to start.

Early that morning we went, as usual, to the field, but with
hearts that beat quickly and anxiously. Any one intimately
acquainted with us, might have seen that all was not well with
us, and that some monster lingered in our thoughts. Our work
that morning was the same as it had been for several days past--
drawing out and spreading manure. While thus engaged, I had a
sudden presentiment, which flashed upon me like lightning in a
dark night, revealing to the lonely traveler the gulf before, and
the enemy behind. I instantly turned to Sandy Jenkins, who was
near me, and said to him, _"Sandy, we are betrayed;_ something
has just told me so." I felt as sure of it, as if the officers
were there in sight. Sandy said, "Man, dat is strange; but I
feel just as you do." If my mother--then long in her grave--had
appeared before me, and told me that we were betrayed, I could
not, at that moment, have felt more certain of the fact.

In a few minutes after this, the long, low and distant notes of
the horn summoned us from the field to breakfast. I felt as one
may be supposed to feel before being led forth to be executed for
some great offense. I wanted no breakfast; but I went with the
other slaves toward the house, for form's sake. My feelings were
<224>not disturbed as to the right of running away; on that point
I had no trouble, whatever. My anxiety arose from a sense of the
consequences of failure.

In thirty minutes after that vivid presentiment came the
apprehended crash. On reaching the house, for breakfast, and
glancing my eye toward the lane gate, the worst was at once made
known. The lane gate off Mr. Freeland's house, is nearly a half
mile from the door, and shaded by the heavy wood which bordered
the main road. I was, however, able to descry four white men,
and two colored men, approaching. The white men were on
horseback, and the colored men were walking behind, and seemed to
be tied. _"It is all over with us,"_ thought I, _"we are surely
betrayed_." I now became composed, or at least comparatively so,
and calmly awaited the result. I watched the ill-omened company,
till I saw them enter the gate. Successful flight was
impossible, and I made up my mind to stand, and meet the evil,
whatever it might be; for I was not without a slight hope that
things might turn differently from what I at first expected. In
a few moments, in came Mr. William Hamilton, riding very rapidly,
and evidently much excited. He was in the habit of riding very
slowly, and was seldom known to gallop his horse. This time, his
horse was nearly at full speed, causing the dust to roll thick
behind him. Mr. Hamilton, though one of the most resolute men in
the whole neighborhood, was, nevertheless, a remarkably mild
spoken man; and, even when greatly excited, his language was cool
and circumspect. He came to the door, and inquired if Mr.
Freeland was in. I told him that Mr. Freeland was at the barn.
Off the old gentleman rode, toward the barn, with unwonted speed.
Mary, the cook, was at a loss to know what was the matter, and I
did not profess any skill in making her understand. I knew she
would have united, as readily as any one, in cursing me for
bringing trouble into the family; so I held my peace, leaving
matters to develop themselves, without my assistance. In a few
moments, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Freeland came down from the barn to
the house; and, just as they <225 THE MANNER OF ARRESTING US>made
their appearance in the front yard, three men (who proved to be
constables) came dashing into the lane, on horseback, as if
summoned by a sign requiring quick work. A few seconds brought
them into the front yard, where they hastily dismounted, and tied
their horses. This done, they joined Mr. Freeland and Mr.
Hamilton, who were standing a short distance from the kitchen. A
few moments were spent, as if in consulting how to proceed, and
then the whole party walked up to the kitchen door. There was
now no one in the kitchen but myself and John Harris. Henry and
Sandy were yet at the barn. Mr. Freeland came inside the kitchen
door, and with an agitated voice, called me by name, and told me
to come forward; that there was some gentlemen who wished to see
me. I stepped toward them, at the door, and asked what they
wanted, when the constables grabbed me, and told me that I had
better not resist; that I had been in a scrape, or was said to
have been in one; that they were merely going to take me where I
could be examined; that they were going to carry me to St.
Michael's, to have me brought before my master. They further
said, that, in case the evidence against me was not true, I
should be acquitted. I was now firmly tied, and completely at
the mercy of my captors. Resistance was idle. They were five in
number, armed to the very teeth. When they had secured me, they
next turned to John Harris, and, in a few moments, succeeded in
tying him as firmly as they had already tied me. They next
turned toward Henry Harris, who had now returned from the barn.
"Cross your hands," said the constables, to Henry. "I won't"
said Henry, in a voice so firm and clear, and in a manner so
determined, as for a moment to arrest all proceedings. "Won't
you cross your hands?" said Tom Graham, the constable. "_No I
won't_," said Henry, with increasing emphasis. Mr. Hamilton, Mr.
Freeland, and the officers, now came near to Henry. Two of the
constables drew out their shining pistols, and swore by the name
of God, that he should cross his hands, or they would shoot him
down. Each of these hired ruffians now cocked their pistols,
<226>and, with fingers apparently on the triggers, presented
their deadly weapons to the breast of the unarmed slave, saying,
at the same time, if he did not cross his hands, they would "blow
his d--d heart out of him."

_"Shoot! shoot me!"_ said Henry. "_You can't kill me but once_.
Shoot!--shoot! and be d--d. _I won't be tied_." This, the brave
fellow said in a voice as defiant and heroic in its tone, as was
the language itself; and, at the moment of saying this, with the
pistols at his very breast, he quickly raised his arms, and
dashed them from the puny hands of his assassins, the weapons
flying in opposite directions. Now came the struggle. All hands
was now rushed upon the brave fellow, and, after beating him for
some time, they succeeded in overpowering and tying him. Henry
put me to shame; he fought, and fought bravely. John and I had
made no resistance. The fact is, I never see much use in
fighting, unless there is a reasonable probability of whipping
somebody. Yet there was something almost providential in the
resistance made by the gallant Henry. But for that resistance,
every soul of us would have been hurried off to the far south.
Just a moment previous to the trouble with Henry, Mr. Hamilton
_mildly_ said--and this gave me the unmistakable clue to the
cause of our arrest--"Perhaps we had now better make a search for
those protections, which we understand Frederick has written for
himself and the rest." Had these passes been found, they would
have been point blank proof against us, and would have confirmed
all the statements of our betrayer. Thanks to the resistance of
Henry, the excitement produced by the scuffle drew all attention
in that direction, and I succeeded in flinging my pass,
unobserved, into the fire. The confusion attendant upon the
scuffle, and the apprehension of further trouble, perhaps, led
our captors to forego, for the present, any search for _"those
protections" which Frederick was said to have written for his
companions_; so we were not yet convicted of the purpose to run
away; and it was evident that there was some doubt, on the part
of all, whether we had been guilty of such a purpose.

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

Could the kind reader have been quietly riding along the main
road to or from Easton, that morning, his eye would have met a
painful sight. He would have seen five young men, guilty of no
crime, save that of preferring _liberty_ to a life of _bondage_,
drawn along the public highway--firmly bound together--tramping
through dust and heat, bare-footed and bare-headed--fastened to
three strong horses, whose riders were armed to the teeth, with
pistols and daggers--on their way to prison, like felons, and
suffering every possible insult from the crowds of idle, vulgar
people, who clustered around, and heartlessly made their failure
the occasion for all manner of ribaldry and sport. As I looked
upon this crowd of vile persons, and saw myself and friends thus
assailed and persecuted, I could not help seeing the fulfillment
of Sandy's dream. I was in the hands of moral vultures, and
firmly held in their sharp talons, and was hurried away toward
Easton, in a south-easterly direction, amid the jeers of new
birds of the same feather, through every neighborhood we passed.
It seemed to me (and this shows the good understanding between
the slaveholders and their allies) that every body we met knew
<228>the cause of our arrest, and were out, awaiting our passing
by, to feast their vindictive eyes on our misery and to gloat
over our ruin. Some said, _I ought to be hanged_, and others, _I
ought to be burnt_, others, I ought to have the _"hide"_ taken
from my back; while no one gave us a kind word or sympathizing
look, except the poor slaves, who were lifting their heavy hoes,
and who cautiously glanced at us through the post-and-rail
fences, behind which they were at work. Our sufferings, that
morning, can be more easily imagined than described. Our hopes
were all blasted, at a blow. The cruel injustice, the victorious
crime, and the helplessness of innocence, led me to ask, in my
ignorance and weakness "Where now is the God of justice and
mercy? And why have these wicked men the power thus to trample
upon our rights, and to insult our feelings?" And yet, in the
next moment, came the consoling thought, _"The day of oppressor
will come at last."_ Of one thing I could be glad--not one of my
dear friends, upon whom I had brought this great calamity, either
by word or look, reproached me for having led them into it. We
were a band of brothers, and never dearer to each other than now.
The thought which gave us the most pain, was the probable
separation which would now take place, in case we were sold off
to the far south, as we were likely to be. While the constables
were looking forward, Henry and I, being fastened together, could
occasionally exchange a word, without being observed by the
kidnappers who had us in charge. "What shall I do with my pass?"
said Henry. "Eat it with your biscuit," said I; "it won't do to
tear it up." We were now near St. Michael's. The direction
concerning the passes was passed around, and executed. _"Own
nothing!"_ said I. _"Own nothing!"_ was passed around and
enjoined, and assented to. Our confidence in each other was
unshaken; and we were quite resolved to succeed or fail
together--as much after the calamity which had befallen us, as

On reaching St. Michael's, we underwent a sort of examination at
my master's store, and it was evident to my mind, that Master
<229 THE DENIAL>Thomas suspected the truthfulness of the evidence
upon which they had acted in arresting us; and that he only
affected, to some extent, the positiveness with which he asserted
our guilt. There was nothing said by any of our company, which
could, in any manner, prejudice our cause; and there was hope,
yet, that we should be able to return to our homes--if for
nothing else, at least to find out the guilty man or woman who
had betrayed us.

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

We were literally dragged, that morning, behind horses, a
distance of fifteen miles, and placed in the Easton jail. We
were glad to reach the end of our journey, for our pathway had
been the scene of insult and mortification. Such is the power of
public <230>opinion, that it is hard, even for the innocent, to
feel the happy consolations of innocence, when they fall under
the maledictions of this power. How could we regard ourselves as
in the right, when all about us denounced us as criminals, and
had the power and the disposition to treat us as such.

In jail, we were placed under the care of Mr. Joseph Graham, the
sheriff of the county. Henry, and John, and myself, were placed
in one room, and Henry Baily and Charles Roberts, in another, by
themselves. This separation was intended to deprive us of the
advantage of concert, and to prevent trouble in jail.

Once shut up, a new set of tormentors came upon us. A swarm of
imps, in human shape the slave-traders, deputy slave-traders, and
agents of slave-traders--that gather in every country town of the
state, watching for chances to buy human flesh (as buzzards to
eat carrion) flocked in upon us, to ascertain if our masters had
placed us in jail to be sold. Such a set of debased and
villainous creatures, I never saw before, and hope never to see
again. I felt myself surrounded as by a pack of _fiends_, fresh
from _perdition_. They laughed, leered, and grinned at us;
saying, "Ah! boys, we've got you, havn't we? So you were about
to make your escape? Where were you going to?" After taunting
us, and peering at us, as long as they liked, they one by one
subjected us to an examination, with a view to ascertain our
value; feeling our arms and legs, and shaking us by the shoulders
to see if we were sound and healthy; impudently asking us, "how
we would like to have them for masters?" To such questions, we
were, very much to their annoyance, quite dumb, disdaining to
answer them. For one, I detested the whisky-bloated gamblers in
human flesh; and I believe I was as much detested by them in
turn. One fellow told me, "if he had me, he would cut the devil
out of me pretty quick."

These Negro buyers are very offensive to the genteel southern
Christian public. They are looked upon, in respectable Maryland
society, as necessary, but detestable characters. As a class,
they <231 SLAVE-TRADERS>are hardened ruffians, made such by
nature and by occupation. Their ears are made quite familiar
with the agonizing cry of outraged and woe-smitted humanity.
Their eyes are forever open to human misery. They walk amid
desecrated affections, insulted virtue, and blasted hopes. They
have grown intimate with vice and blood; they gloat over the
wildest illustrations of their soul-damning and earth-polluting
business, and are moral pests. Yes; they are a legitimate fruit
of slavery; and it is a puzzle to make out a case of greater
villainy for them, than for the slaveholders, who make such a
class _possible_. They are mere hucksters of the surplus slave
produce of Maryland and Virginia coarse, cruel, and swaggering
bullies, whose very breathing is of blasphemy and blood.

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

Soon after the holidays were over, contrary to all our
expectations, Messrs. Hamilton and Freeland came up to Easton;
not to make a bargain with the "Georgia traders," nor to send us
up to Austin Woldfolk, as is usual in the case of run-away
salves, <232>but to release Charles, Henry Harris, Henry Baily
and John Harris, from prison, and this, too, without the
infliction of a single blow. I was now left entirely alone in
prison. The innocent had been taken, and the guilty left. My
friends were separated from me, and apparently forever. This
circumstance caused me more pain than any other incident
connected with our capture and imprisonment. Thirty-nine lashes
on my naked and bleeding back, would have been joyfully borne, in
preference to this separation from these, the friends of my
youth. And yet, I could not but feel that I was the victim of
something like justice. Why should these young men, who were led
into this scheme by me, suffer as much as the instigator? I felt
glad that they were leased from prison, and from the dread
prospect of a life (or death I should rather say) in the rice
swamps. It is due to the noble Henry, to say, that he seemed
almost as reluctant to leave the prison with me in it, as he was
to be tied and dragged to prison. But he and the rest knew that
we should, in all the likelihoods of the case, be separated, in
the event of being sold; and since we were now completely in the
hands of our owners, we all concluded it would be best to go
peaceably home.

Not until this last separation, dear reader, had I touched those
profounder depths of desolation, which it is the lot of slaves
often to reach. I was solitary in the world, and alone within
the walls of a stone prison, left to a fate of life-long misery.
I had hoped and expected much, for months before, but my hopes
and expectations were now withered and blasted. The ever dreaded
slave life in Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama--from which escape
is next to impossible now, in my loneliness, stared me in the
face. The possibility of ever becoming anything but an abject
slave, a mere machine in the hands of an owner, had now fled, and
it seemed to me it had fled forever. A life of living death,
beset with the innumerable horrors of the cotton field, and the
sugar plantation, seemed to be my doom. The fiends, who rushed
into the prison when we were first put there, continued to visit
me, <233 LEFT ALONE IN PRISON>and to ply me with questions and
with their tantalizing remarks. I was insulted, but helpless;
keenly alive to the demands of justice and liberty, but with no
means of asserting them. To talk to those imps about justice and
mercy, would have been as absurd as to reason with bears and
tigers. Lead and steel are the only arguments that they

After remaining in this life of misery and despair about a week,
which, by the way, seemed a month, Master Thomas, very much to my
surprise, and greatly to my relief, came to the prison, and took
me out, for the purpose, as he said, of sending me to Alabama,
with a friend of his, who would emancipate me at the end of eight
years. I was glad enough to get out of prison; but I had no
faith in the story that this friend of Capt. Auld would
emancipate me, at the end of the time indicated. Besides, I
never had heard of his having a friend in Alabama, and I took the
announcement, simply as an easy and comfortable method of
shipping me off to the far south. There was a little scandal,
too, connected with the idea of one Christian selling another to
the Georgia traders, while it was deemed every way proper for
them to sell to others. I thought this friend in Alabama was an
invention, to meet this difficulty, for Master Thomas was quite
jealous of his Christian reputation, however unconcerned he might
be about his real Christian character. In these remarks,
however, it is possible that I do Master Thomas Auld injustice.
He certainly did not exhaust his power upon me, in the case, but
acted, upon the whole, very generously, considering the nature of
my offense. He had the power and the provocation to send me,
without reserve, into the very everglades of Florida, beyond the
remotest hope of emancipation; and his refusal to exercise that
power, must be set down to his credit.

After lingering about St. Michael's a few days, and no friend
from Alabama making his appearance, to take me there, Master
Thomas decided to send me back again to Baltimore, to live with
his brother Hugh, with whom he was now at peace; possibly he
<234>became so by his profession of religion, at the camp-meeting
in the Bay Side. Master Thomas told me that he wished me to go
to Baltimore, and learn a trade; and that, if I behaved myself
properly, he would _emancipate me at twenty-five!_ Thanks for
this one beam of hope in the future. The promise had but one
fault; it seemed too good to be true.


_Apprenticeship Life_



Well! dear reader, I am not, as you may have already inferred, a
loser by the general upstir, described in the foregoing chapter.
The little domestic revolution, notwithstanding the sudden snub
it got by the treachery of somebody--I dare not say or think
who--did not, after all, end so disastrously, as when in the iron
cage at Easton, I conceived it would. The prospect, from that
point, did look about as dark as any that ever cast its gloom
over the vision of the anxious, out-looking, human spirit. "All
is well that ends well." My affectionate comrades, Henry and
John Harris, are still with Mr. William Freeland. Charles
Roberts and Henry Baily are safe at their homes. I have not,
therefore, any thing to regret on their account. Their masters
have mercifully forgiven them, probably on the ground suggested
in the spirited little speech of Mrs. Freeland, made to me just
before leaving for the jail--namely: that they had been allured
into the wicked scheme of making their escape, by me; and that,
but for me, they would never have dreamed of a thing so shocking!
My <236>friends had nothing to regret, either; for while they
were watched more closely on account of what had happened, they
were, doubtless, treated more kindly than before, and got new
assurances that they would be legally emancipated, some day,
provided their behavior should make them deserving, from that
time forward. Not a blow, as I learned, was struck any one of
them. As for Master William Freeland, good, unsuspecting soul,
he did not believe that we were intending to run away at all.
Having given--as he thought--no occasion to his boys to leave
him, he could not think it probable that they had entertained a
design so grievous. This, however, was not the view taken of the
matter by "Mas' Billy," as we used to call the soft spoken, but
crafty and resolute Mr. William Hamilton. He had no doubt that
the crime had been meditated; and regarding me as the instigator
of it, he frankly told Master Thomas that he must remove me from
that neighborhood, or he would shoot me down. He would not have
one so dangerous as "Frederick" tampering with his slaves.
William Hamilton was not a man whose threat might be safely
disregarded. I have no doubt that he would have proved as good
as his word, had the warning given not been promptly taken. He
was furious at the thought of such a piece of high-handed
_theft_, as we were about to perpetrate the stealing of our own
bodies and souls! The feasibility of the plan, too, could the
first steps have been taken, was marvelously plain. Besides,
this was a _new_ idea, this use of the bay. Slaves escaping,
until now, had taken to the woods; they had never dreamed of
profaning and abusing the waters of the noble Chesapeake, by
making them the highway from slavery to freedom. Here was a
broad road of destruction to slavery, which, before, had been
looked upon as a wall of security by slaveholders. But Master
Billy could not get Mr. Freeland to see matters precisely as he
did; nor could he get Master Thomas so excited as he was himself.
The latter--I must say it to his credit--showed much humane
feeling in his part of the transaction, and atoned for much that
had been harsh, cruel <237 CHANGE IN LITTLE TOMMY>and
unreasonable in his former treatment of me and others. His
clemency was quite unusual and unlooked for. "Cousin Tom" told
me that while I was in jail, Master Thomas was very unhappy; and
that the night before his going up to release me, he had walked
the floor nearly all night, evincing great distress; that very
tempting offers had been made to him, by the Negro-traders, but
he had rejected them all, saying that _money could not tempt him
to sell me to the far south_. All this I can easily believe, for
he seemed quite reluctant to send me away, at all. He told me
that he only consented to do so, because of the very strong
prejudice against me in the neighborhood, and that he feared for
my safety if I remained there.

Thus, after three years spent in the country, roughing it in the
field, and experiencing all sorts of hardships, I was again
permitted to return to Baltimore, the very place, of all others,
short of a free state, where I most desired to live. The three
years spent in the country, had made some difference in me, and
in the household of Master Hugh. "Little Tommy" was no longer
_little_ Tommy; and I was not the slender lad who had left for
the Eastern Shore just three years before. The loving relations
between me and Mas' Tommy were broken up. He was no longer
dependent on me for protection, but felt himself a _man_, with
other and more suitable associates. In childhood, he scarcely
considered me inferior to himself certainly, as good as any other
boy with whom he played; but the time had come when his _friend_
must become his _slave_. So we were cold, and we parted. It was
a sad thing to me, that, loving each other as we had done, we
must now take different roads. To him, a thousand avenues were
open. Education had made him acquainted with all the treasures
of the world, and liberty had flung open the gates thereunto; but
I, who had attended him seven years, and had watched over him
with the care of a big brother, fighting his battles in the
street, and shielding him from harm, to an extent which had
induced his mother to say, "Oh! Tommy is always safe, when he is
with <238>Freddy," must be confined to a single condition. He
could grow, and become a MAN; I could grow, though I could _not_
become a man, but must remain, all my life, a minor--a mere boy.
Thomas Auld, Junior, obtained a situation on board the brig
"Tweed," and went to sea. I know not what has become of him; he
certainly has my good wishes for his welfare and prosperity.
There were few persons to whom I was more sincerely attached than
to him, and there are few in the world I would be more pleased to

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


There was no time to learn any thing. Every man had to do that
which he knew how to do. In entering the ship-yard, my orders
from Mr. Gardiner were, to do whatever the carpenters commanded
me to do. This was placing me at the beck and call of about
seventy-five men. I was to regard all these as masters. Their
word was to be my law. My situation was a most trying one. At
times I needed a dozen pair of hands. I was called a dozen ways
in the space of a single minute. Three or four voices would
strike my ear at the same moment. It was--"Fred., come help me
to cant this timber here." "Fred., come carry this timber
yonder."--"Fred., bring that roller here."--"Fred., go get a
fresh can of water."--"Fred., come help saw off the end of this
timber."--"Fred., go quick and get the crow bar."--"Fred., hold
on the end of this fall."--"Fred., go to the blacksmith's shop,
and get a new punch."--<239 DESPERATE FIGHT>

"Hurra, Fred.! run and bring me a cold chisel."--"I say, Fred.,
bear a hand, and get up a fire as quick as lightning under that
steam-box."--"Halloo, nigger! come, turn this grindstone."--
"Come, come! move, move! and _bowse_ this timber forward."--"I
say, darkey, blast your eyes, why don't you heat up some
pitch?"--"Halloo! halloo! halloo!" (Three voices at the same
time.) "Come here!--Go there!--Hold on where you are! D--n you,
if you move, I'll knock your brains out!"


Such, dear reader, is a glance at the school which was mine,
during, the first eight months of my stay at Baltimore. At the
end of the eight months, Master Hugh refused longer to allow me
to remain with Mr. Gardiner. The circumstance which led to his
taking me away, was a brutal outrage, committed upon me by the
white apprentices of the ship-yard. The fight was a desperate
one, and I came out of it most shockingly mangled. I was cut and
bruised in sundry places, and my left eye was nearly knocked out
of its socket. The facts, leading to this barbarous outrage upon
me, illustrate a phase of slavery destined to become an important
element in the overthrow of the slave system, and I may,
therefore state them with some minuteness. That phase is this:
_the conflict of slavery with the interests of the white
mechanics and laborers of the south_. In the country, this
conflict is not so apparent; but, in cities, such as Baltimore,
Richmond, New Orleans, Mobile, &c., it is seen pretty clearly.
The slaveholders, with a craftiness peculiar to themselves, by
encouraging the enmity of the poor, laboring white man against
the blacks, succeeds in making the said white man almost as much
a slave as the black slave himself. The difference between the
white slave, and the black slave, is this: the latter belongs to
_one_ slaveholder, and the former belongs to _all_ the
slaveholders, collectively. The white slave has taken from him,
by indirection, what the black slave has taken from him,
directly, and without ceremony. Both are plundered, and by the
same plunderers. The slave is robbed, by his master, of all his
earnings, above what is required for his bare physical
necessities; and the white man is robbed by the slave system, of
the just results of his labor, because he is flung into
<240>competition with a class of laborers who work without wages.
The competition, and its injurious consequences, will, one day,
array the nonslaveholding white people of the slave states,
against the slave system, and make them the most effective
workers against the great evil. At present, the slaveholders
blind them to this competition, by keeping alive their prejudice
against the slaves, _as men_--not against them _as slaves_. They
appeal to their pride, often denouncing emancipation, as tending
to place the white man, on an equality with Negroes, and, by this
means, they succeed in drawing off the minds of the poor whites
from the real fact, that, by the rich slave-master, they are
already regarded as but a single remove from equality with the
slave. The impression is cunningly made, that slavery is the
only power that can prevent the laboring white man from falling
to the level of the slave's poverty and degradation. To make
this enmity deep and broad, between the slave and the poor white
man, the latter is allowed to abuse and whip the former, without
hinderance. But--as I have suggested--this state of facts
prevails _mostly_ in the country. In the city of Baltimore,
there are not unfrequent murmurs, that educating the slaves to be
mechanics may, in the end, give slavemasters power to dispense
with the services of the poor white man altogether. But, with
characteristic dread of offending the slaveholders, these poor,
white mechanics in Mr. Gardiner's ship-yard--instead of applying
the natural, honest remedy for the apprehended evil, and
objecting at once to work there by the side of slaves--made a
cowardly attack upon the free colored mechanics, saying _they_
were eating the bread which should be eaten by American freemen,
and swearing that they would not work with them. The feeling
was, _really_, against having their labor brought into
competition with that of the colored people at all; but it was
too much to strike directly at the interest of the slaveholders;
and, therefore proving their servility and cowardice they dealt
their blows on the poor, colored freeman, and aimed to prevent
_him_ from serving himself, in the evening of life, with the
had served his master, during the more vigorous portion of his
days. Had they succeeded in driving the black freemen out of the
ship-yard, they would have determined also upon the removal of
the black slaves. The feeling was very bitter toward all colored
people in Baltimore, about this time (1836), and they--free and
slave suffered all manner of insult and wrong.

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

Now, although this movement did not extend to me, _in form_, it
did reach me, _in fact_. The spirit which it awakened was one of
malice and bitterness, toward colored people _generally_, and I
suffered with the rest, and suffered severely. My fellow
apprentices very soon began to feel it to be degrading to work
with me. They began to put on high looks, and to talk
contemptuously and maliciously of _"the Niggers;"_ saying, that
"they would take the country," that "they ought to be killed."
Encouraged by the cowardly workmen, who, knowing me to be a
slave, made no issue with Mr. Gardiner about my being there,
these young men did their utmost to make it impossible for me to
stay. They seldom called me to do any thing, without coupling
the call with a curse, and Edward North, the biggest in every
thing, rascality included, ventured to strike me, whereupon I
picked him up, and threw <242>him into the dock. Whenever any of
them struck me, I struck back again, regardless of consequences.
I could manage any of them _singly_, and, while I could keep them
from combining, I succeeded very well. In the conflict which
ended my stay at Mr. Gardiner's, I was beset by four of them at
once--Ned North, Ned Hays, Bill Stewart, and Tom Humphreys. Two
of them were as large as myself, and they came near killing me,
in broad day light. The attack was made suddenly, and
simultaneously. One came in front, armed with a brick; there was
one at each side, and one behind, and they closed up around me.
I was struck on all sides; and, while I was attending to those in
front, I received a blow on my head, from behind, dealt with a
heavy hand-spike. I was completely stunned by the blow, and
fell, heavily, on the ground, among the timbers. Taking
advantage of my fall, they rushed upon me, and began to pound me
with their fists. I let them lay on, for a while, after I came
to myself, with a view of gaining strength. They did me little
damage, so far; but, finally, getting tired of that sport, I gave
a sudden surge, and, despite their weight, I rose to my hands and
knees. Just as I did this, one of their number (I know not
which) planted a blow with his boot in my left eye, which, for a
time, seemed to have burst my eyeball. When they saw my eye
completely closed, my face covered with blood, and I staggering
under the stunning blows they had given me, they left me. As
soon as I gathered sufficient strength, I picked up the hand-
spike, and, madly enough, attempted to pursue them; but here the
carpenters interfered, and compelled me to give up my frenzied
pursuit. It was impossible to stand against so many.

Dear reader, you can hardly believe the statement, but it is
true, and, therefore, I write it down: not fewer than fifty white
men stood by, and saw this brutal and shameless outrage
committed, and not a man of them all interposed a single word of
mercy. There were four against one, and that one's face was
beaten and battered most horribly, and no one said, "that is
enough;" but some cried out, "Kill him--kill him--kill the d--d
<243 CONDUCT OF MASTER HUGH>nigger! knock his brains out--he
struck a white person." I mention this inhuman outcry, to show
the character of the men, and the spirit of the times, at
Gardiner's ship yard, and, indeed, in Baltimore generally, in
1836. As I look back to this period, I am almost amazed that I
was not murdered outright, in that ship yard, so murderous was
the spirit which prevailed there. On two occasions, while there,
I came near losing my life. I was driving bolts in the hold,
through the keelson, with Hays. In its course, the bolt bent.
Hays cursed me, and said that it was my blow which bent the bolt.
I denied this, and charged it upon him. In a fit of rage he
seized an adze, and darted toward me. I met him with a maul, and
parried his blow, or I should have then lost my life. A son of
old Tom Lanman (the latter's double murder I have elsewhere
charged upon him), in the spirit of his miserable father, made an
assault upon me, but the blow with his maul missed me. After the
united assault of North, Stewart, Hays and Humphreys, finding
that the carpenters were as bitter toward me as the apprentices,
and that the latter were probably set on by the former, I found
my only chances for life was in flight. I succeeded in getting
away, without an additional blow. To strike a white man, was
death, by Lynch law, in Gardiner's ship yard; nor was there much
of any other law toward colored people, at that time, in any
other part of Maryland. The whole sentiment of Baltimore was

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

The heart of my once almost over-kind mistress, Sophia, was again
melted in pity toward me. My puffed-out eye, and my scarred and
blood-covered face, moved the dear lady to tears. She kindly
drew a chair by me, and with friendly, consoling words, she took
water, and washed the blood from my face. No mother's hand could
have been more tender than hers. She bound up my head, and
covered my wounded eye with a lean piece of fresh beef. It was
almost compensation for the murderous assault, and my suffering,
that it furnished and occasion for the manifestation, once more,
of the orignally{sic} characteristic kindness of my mistress.
Her affectionate heart was not yet dead, though much hardened by
time and by circumstances.

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

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

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

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

"Sir," said Watson, "I am sorry, but I cannot move in this matter
except upon the oath of white witnesses."

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

But Watson insisted that he was not authorized to do anything,
unless _white_ witnesses of the transaction would come forward,
and testify to what had taken place. He could issue no warrant
on my word, against white persons; and, if I had been killed in
the presence of a _thousand blacks_, their testimony, combined
would have been insufficient to arrest a single murderer. Master
Hugh, for once, was compelled to say, that this state of things
was _too bad;_ and he left the office of the magistrate,

Of course, it was impossible to get any white man to testify
against my assailants. The carpenters saw what was done; but the
actors were but the agents of their malice, and only what the
carpenters sanctioned. They had cried, with one accord, _"Kill
the nigger!" "Kill the nigger!"_ Even those who may have pitied
me, if any such were among them, lacked the moral courage to come
and volunteer their evidence. The slightest manifestation of
sympathy or justice toward a person of color, was denounced as
abolitionism; and the name of abolitionist, subjected its bearer
to frightful liabilities. "D--n _abolitionists,"_ and _"Kill the
niggers,"_ were the watch-words of the foul-mouthed ruffians of
those days. Nothing was done, and probably there would not have
been any thing done, had I been killed in the affray. The laws
and the morals of the Christian city of Baltimore, afforded no
protection to the sable denizens of that city.

Master Hugh, on finding he could get no redress for the cruel
wrong, withdrew me from the employment of Mr. Gardiner, and took
me into his own family, Mrs. Auld kindly taking care of me, and
dressing my wounds, until they were healed, and I was ready to go
again to work.

While I was on the Eastern Shore, Master Hugh had met with
reverses, which overthrew his business; and he had given up ship
building in his own yard, on the City Block, and was now acting
as foreman of Mr. Walter Price. The best he could now do for me,
<246>was to take me into Mr. Price's yard, and afford me the
facilities there, for completing the trade which I had began to
learn at Gardiner's. Here I rapidly became expert in the use of
my calking tools; and, in the course of a single year, I was able
to command the highest wages paid to journeymen calkers in

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

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

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

The reader already knows enough of the _ill_ effects of good
treatment on a slave, to anticipate what was now the case in my
improved condition. It was not long before I began to show signs
of disquiet with slavery, and to look around for means to get out
of that condition by the shortest route. I was living among
_free_<247 MY CONDITION IMPROVES>_men;_ and was, in all respects,
equal to them by nature and by attainments. _Why should I be a
slave?_ There was _no_ reason why I should be the thrall of any

Besides, I was now getting--as I have said--a dollar and fifty
cents per day. I contracted for it, worked for it, earned it,
collected it; it was paid to me, and it was _rightfully_ my own;
and yet, upon every returning Saturday night, this money--my own
hard earnings, every cent of it--was demanded of me, and taken
from me by Master Hugh. He did not earn it; he had no hand in
earning it; why, then, should he have it? I owed him nothing.
He had given me no schooling, and I had received from him only my
food and raiment; and for these, my services were supposed to
pay, from the first. The right to take my earnings, was the
right of the robber. He had the power to compel me to give him
the fruits of my labor, and this power was his only right in the
case. I became more and more dissatisfied with this state of
things; and, in so becoming, I only gave proof of the same human
nature which every reader of this chapter in my life--
slaveholder, or nonslaveholder--is conscious of possessing.

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



_My Escape from Slavery_



I will now make the kind reader acquainted with the closing
incidents of my "Life as a Slave," having already trenched upon
the limit allotted to my "Life as a Freeman." Before, however,
proceeding with this narration, it is, perhaps, proper that I
should frankly state, in advance, my intention to withhold a part
of the{sic} connected with my escape from slavery. There are
reasons for this suppression, which I trust the reader will deem
altogether valid. It may be easily conceived, that a full and
complete statement of all facts pertaining to the flight of a
bondman, might implicate and embarrass some who may have,
wittingly or unwittingly, assisted him; and no one can wish me to
involve any man or <249 MANNER OF MY ESCAPE NOT GIVEN>woman who
has befriended me, even in the liability of embarrassment or

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

While, therefore, it would afford me pleasure, and perhaps would
materially add to the interest of my story, were I at liberty to
gratify a curiosity which I know to exist in the minds of many,
as to the manner of my escape, I must deprive myself of this
pleasure, and the curious of the gratification, which such a
statement of facts would afford. I would allow myself to suffer
under the greatest imputations that evil minded men might
suggest, rather than exculpate myself by explanation, and thereby
run the hazards of closing the slightest avenue by which a
brother in suffering might clear himself of the chains and
fetters of slavery.

The practice of publishing every new invention by which a
<250>slave is known to have escaped from slavery, has neither
wisdom nor necessity to sustain it. Had not Henry Box Brown and
his friends attracted slaveholding attention to the manner of his
escape, we might have had a thousand _Box Browns_ per annum. The
singularly original plan adopted by William and Ellen Crafts,
perished with the first using, because every slaveholder in the
land was apprised of it. The _salt water slave_ who hung in the
guards of a steamer, being washed three days and three nights--
like another Jonah--by the waves of the sea, has, by the
publicity given to the circumstance, set a spy on the guards of
every steamer departing from southern ports.

I have never approved of the very public manner, in which some of
our western friends have conducted what _they_ call the _"Under-
ground Railroad,"_ but which, I think, by their open
declarations, has been made, most emphatically, the _"Upper_-
ground Railroad." Its stations are far better known to the
slaveholders than to the slaves. I honor those good men and
women for their noble daring, in willingly subjecting themselves
to persecution, by openly avowing their participation in the
escape of slaves; nevertheless, the good resulting from such
avowals, is of a very questionable character. It may kindle an
enthusiasm, very pleasant to inhale; but that is of no practical
benefit to themselves, nor to the slaves escaping. Nothing is
more evident, than that such disclosures are a positive evil to
the slaves remaining, and seeking to escape. In publishing such
accounts, the anti-slavery man addresses the slaveholder, _not
the slave;_ he stimulates the former to greater watchfulness, and
adds to his facilities for capturing his slave. We owe something
to the slaves, south of Mason and Dixon's line, as well as to
those north of it; and, in discharging the duty of aiding the
latter, on their way to freedom, we should be careful to do
nothing which would be likely to hinder the former, in making
their escape from slavery. Such is my detestation of slavery,
that I would keep the merciless slaveholder profoundly ignorant
of the means of flight adopted by the slave. He <251 CRAFTINESS
OF SLAVEHOLDERS>should be left to imagine himself surrounded by
myriads of invisible tormentors, ever ready to snatch, from his
infernal grasp, his trembling prey. In pursuing his victim, let
him be left to feel his way in the dark; let shades of darkness,
commensurate with his crime, shut every ray of light from his
pathway; and let him be made to feel, that, at every step he
takes, with the hellish purpose of reducing a brother man to
slavery, he is running the frightful risk of having his hot
brains dashed out by an invisible hand.

But, enough of this. I will now proceed to the statement of
those facts, connected with my escape, for which I am alone
responsible, and for which no one can be made to suffer but

My condition in the year (1838) of my escape, was, comparatively,
a free and easy one, so far, at least, as the wants of the
physical man were concerned; but the reader will bear in mind,
that my troubles from the beginning, have been less physical than
mental, and he will thus be prepared to find, after what is
narrated in the previous chapters, that slave life was adding
nothing to its charms for me, as I grew older, and became better
acquainted with it. The practice, from week to week, of openly
robbing me of all my earnings, kept the nature and character of
slavery constantly before me. I could be robbed by
_indirection_, but this was _too_ open and barefaced to be
endured. I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each
week, pour the reward of my honest toil into the purse of any
man. The thought itself vexed me, and the manner in which Master
Hugh received my wages, vexed me more than the original wrong.
Carefully counting the money and rolling it out, dollar by
dollar, he would look me in the face, as if he would search my
heart as well as my pocket, and reproachfully ask me, "_Is that
all_?"--implying that I had, perhaps, kept back part of my wages;
or, if not so, the demand was made, possibly, to make me feel,
that, after all, I was an "unprofitable servant." Draining me of
the last cent of my hard earnings, he would, however,
occasionally--when I brought <252>home an extra large sum--dole
out to me a sixpence or a shilling, with a view, perhaps, of
kindling up my gratitude; but this practice had the opposite
effect--it was an admission of _my right to the whole sum_. The
fact, that he gave me any part of my wages, was proof that he
suspected that I had a right _to the whole of them_. I always
felt uncomfortable, after having received anything in this way,
for I feared that the giving me a few cents, might, possibly,
ease his conscience, and make him feel himself a pretty honorable
robber, after all!

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

My discontent grew upon me, and I was on the look-out for means
of escape. With money, I could easily have managed the matter,
and, therefore, I hit upon the plan of soliciting the privilege
of hiring my time. It is quite common, in Baltimore, to allow
slaves this privilege, and it is the practice, also, in New
Orleans. A slave who is considered trustworthy, can, by paying
his master a definite sum regularly, at the end of each week,
dispose of his time as he likes. It so happened that I was not
in very good odor, and I was far from being a trustworthy slave.
Nevertheless, I watched my opportunity when Master Thomas came to
Baltimore (for I was still his property, Hugh only acted as his
agent) in the spring of 1838, to purchase his spring supply of
goods, <253 ALLOWED TO HIRE MY TIME>and applied to him, directly,
for the much-coveted privilege of hiring my time. This request
Master Thomas unhesitatingly refused to grant; and he charged me,
with some sternness, with inventing this stratagem to make my
escape. He told me, "I could go _nowhere_ but he could catch me;
and, in the event of my running away, I might be assured he
should spare no pains in his efforts to recapture me. He
recounted, with a good deal of eloquence, the many kind offices
he had done me, and exhorted me to be contented and obedient.
"Lay out no plans for the future," said he. "If you behave
yourself properly, I will take care of you." Now, kind and
considerate as this offer was, it failed to soothe me into
repose. In spite of Master Thomas, and, I may say, in spite of
myself, also, I continued to think, and worse still, to think
almost exclusively about the injustice and wickedness of slavery.
No effort of mine or of his could silence this trouble-giving
thought, or change my purpose to run away.

About two months after applying to Master Thomas for the
privilege of hiring my time, I applied to Master Hugh for the
same liberty, supposing him to be unacquainted with the fact that
I had made a similar application to Master Thomas, and had been
refused. My boldness in making this request, fairly astounded
him at the first. He gazed at me in amazement. But I had many
good reasons for pressing the matter; and, after listening to
them awhile, he did not absolutely refuse, but told me he would
think of it. Here, then, was a gleam of hope. Once master of my
own time, I felt sure that I could make, over and above my
obligation to him, a dollar or two every week. Some slaves have
made enough, in this way, to purchase their freedom. It is a
sharp spur to industry; and some of the most enterprising colored
men in Baltimore hire themselves in this way. After mature
reflection--as I must suppose it was Master Hugh granted me the
privilege in question, on the following terms: I was to be
allowed all my time; to make all bargains for work; to find my
own employment, and to collect my own wages; and, <254>in return
for this liberty, I was required, or obliged, to pay him three
dollars at the end of each week, and to board and clothe myself,
and buy my own calking tools. A failure in any of these
particulars would put an end to my privilege. This was a hard
bargain. The wear and tear of clothing, the losing and breaking
of tools, and the expense of board, made it necessary for me to
earn at least six dollars per week, to keep even with the world.
All who are acquainted with calking, know how uncertain and
irregular that employment is. It can be done to advantage only
in dry weather, for it is useless to put wet oakum into a seam.
Rain or shine, however, work or no work, at the end of each week
the money must be forthcoming.

Master Hugh seemed to be very much pleased, for a time, with this
arrangement; and well he might be, for it was decidedly in his
favor. It relieved him of all anxiety concerning me. His money
was sure. He had armed my love of liberty with a lash and a
driver, far more efficient than any I had before known; and,
while he derived all the benefits of slaveholding by the
arrangement, without its evils, I endured all the evils of being
a slave, and yet suffered all the care and anxiety of a
responsible freeman. "Nevertheless," thought I, "it is a
valuable privilege another step in my career toward freedom." It
was something even to be permitted to stagger under the
disadvantages of liberty, and I was determined to hold on to the
newly gained footing, by all proper industry. I was ready to
work by night as well as by day; and being in the enjoyment of
excellent health, I was able not only to meet my current
expenses, but also to lay by a small sum at the end of each week.
All went on thus, from the month of May till August; then--for
reasons which will become apparent as I proceed--my much valued
liberty was wrested from me.

During the week previous to this (to me) calamitous event, I had
made arrangements with a few young friends, to accompany them, on
Saturday night, to a camp-meeting, held about twelve miles from
Baltimore. On the evening of our intended start for <255 I
ATTEND CAMP-MEETING>the camp-ground, something occurred in the
ship yard where I was at work, which detained me unusually late,
and compelled me either to disappoint my young friends, or to
neglect carrying my weekly dues to Master Hugh. Knowing that I
had the money, and could hand it to him on another day, I decided
to go to camp-meeting, and to pay him the three dollars, for the
past week, on my return. Once on the camp-ground, I was induced
to remain one day longer than I had intended, when I left home.
But, as soon as I returned, I went straight to his house on Fell
street, to hand him his (my) money. Unhappily, the fatal mistake
had been committed. I found him exceedingly angry. He exhibited
all the signs of apprehension and wrath, which a slaveholder may
be surmised to exhibit on the supposed escape of a favorite
slave. "You rascal! I have a great mind to give you a severe
whipping. How dare you go out of the city without first asking
and obtaining my permission?" "Sir," said I, "I hired my time and
paid you the price you asked for it. I did not know that it was
any part of the bargain that I should ask you when or where I
should go."

"You did not know, you rascal! You are bound to show yourself
here every Saturday night." After reflecting, a few moments, he
became somewhat cooled down; but, evidently greatly troubled, he
said, "Now, you scoundrel! you have done for yourself; you shall
hire your time no longer. The next thing I shall hear of, will
be your running away. Bring home your tools and your clothes, at
once. I'll teach you how to go off in this way."

Thus ended my partial freedom. I could hire my time no longer;
and I obeyed my master's orders at once. The little taste of
liberty which I had had--although as the reader will have seen,
it was far from being unalloyed--by no means enhanced my
contentment with slavery. Punished thus by Master Hugh, it was
now my turn to punish him. "Since," thought I, "you _will_ make
a slave of me, I will await your orders in all things;" and,
instead of going to look for work on Monday morning, as I had
<256>formerly done, I remained at home during the entire week,
without the performance of a single stroke of work. Saturday
night came, and he called upon me, as usual, for my wages. I, of
course, told him I had done no work, and had no wages. Here we
were at the point of coming to blows. His wrath had been
accumulating during the whole week; for he evidently saw that I
was making no effort to get work, but was most aggravatingly
awaiting his orders, in all things. As I look back to this
behavior of mine, I scarcely know what possessed me, thus to
trifle with those who had such unlimited power to bless or to
blast me. Master Hugh raved and swore his determination to _"get
hold of me;"_ but, wisely for _him_, and happily for _me_, his
wrath only employed those very harmless, impalpable missiles,
which roll from a limber tongue. In my desperation, I had fully
made up my mind to measure strength with Master Hugh, in case he
should undertake to execute his threats. I am glad there was no
necessity for this; for resistance to him could not have ended so
happily for me, as it did in the case of Covey. He was not a man
to be safely resisted by a slave; and I freely own, that in my
conduct toward him, in this instance, there was more folly than
wisdom. Master Hugh closed his reproofs, by telling me that,
hereafter, I need give myself no uneasiness about getting work;
that he "would, himself, see to getting work for me, and enough
of it, at that." This threat I confess had some terror in it;
and, on thinking the matter over, during the Sunday, I resolved,
not only to save him the trouble of getting me work, but that,
upon the third day of September, I would attempt to make my
escape from slavery. The refusal to allow me to hire my time,
therefore, hastened the period of flight. I had three weeks,
now, in which to prepare for my journey.

Once resolved, I felt a certain degree of repose, and on Monday,
instead of waiting for Master Hugh to seek employment for me, I
was up by break of day, and off to the ship yard of Mr. Butler,
on the City Block, near the draw-bridge. I was a favorite <257
PAINFUL THOUGHTS OF SEPARATION>with Mr. B., and, young as I was,
I had served as his foreman on the float stage, at calking. Of
course, I easily obtained work, and, at the end of the week--
which by the way was exceedingly fine I brought Master Hugh
nearly nine dollars. The effect of this mark of returning good
sense, on my part, was excellent. He was very much pleased; he
took the money, commended me, and told me I might have done the
same thing the week before. It is a blessed thing that the
tyrant may not always know the thoughts and purposes of his
victim. Master Hugh little knew what my plans were. The going
to camp-meeting without asking his permission--the insolent
answers made to his reproaches--the sulky deportment the week
after being deprived of the privilege of hiring my time--had
awakened in him the suspicion that I might be cherishing disloyal
purposes. My object, therefore, in working steadily, was to
remove suspicion, and in this I succeeded admirably. He probably
thought I was never better satisfied with my condition, than at
the very time I was planning my escape. The second week passed,
and again I carried him my full week's wages--_nine dollars;_ and
so well pleased was he, that he gave me TWENTY-FIVE CENTS! and
"bade me make good use of it!" I told him I would, for one of
the uses to which I meant to put it, was to pay my fare on the
underground railroad.

Things without went on as usual; but I was passing through the
same internal excitement and anxiety which I had experienced two
years and a half before. The failure, in that instance, was not
calculated to increase my confidence in the success of this, my
second attempt; and I knew that a second failure could not leave
me where my first did--I must either get to the _far north_, or
be sent to the _far south_. Besides the exercise of mind from
this state of facts, I had the painful sensation of being about
to separate from a circle of honest and warm hearted friends, in
Baltimore. The thought of such a separation, where the hope of
ever meeting again is excluded, and where there can be no
correspondence, is very painful. It is my opinion, that
thousands would escape from <258>slavery who now remain there,
but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their
families, relatives and friends. The daughter is hindered from
escaping, by the love she bears her mother, and the father, by
the love he bears his children; and so, to the end of the
chapter. I had no relations in Baltimore, and I saw no
probability of ever living in the neighborhood of sisters and
brothers; but the thought of leaving my friends, was among the
strongest obstacles to my running away. The last two days of the
week--Friday and Saturday--were spent mostly in collecting my
things together, for my journey. Having worked four days that
week, for my master, I handed him six dollars, on Saturday night.
I seldom spent my Sundays at home; and, for fear that something
might be discovered in my conduct, I kept up my custom, and
absented myself all day. On Monday, the third day of September,
1838, in accordance with my resolution, I bade farewell to the
city of Baltimore, and to that slavery which had been my
abhorrence from childhood.

How I got away--in what direction I traveled--whether by land or
by water; whether with or without assistance--must, for reasons
already mentioned, remain unexplained.


_as a_

_Liberty Attained_



There is no necessity for any extended notice of the incidents of
this part of my life. There is nothing very striking or peculiar
about my career as a freeman, when viewed apart from my life as a
slave. The relation subsisting between my early experience and
that which I am now about to narrate, is, perhaps, my best
apology for adding another chapter to this book.

Disappearing from the kind reader, in a flying cloud or balloon
(pardon the figure), driven by the wind, and knowing not where I
should land--whether in slavery or in freedom--it is proper that
I should remove, at once, all anxiety, by frankly making known
where I alighted. The flight was a bold and perilous one; but
here I am, in the great city of New York, safe and sound, without
loss of blood or bone. In less than a week after leaving
Baltimore, I was walking amid the hurrying throng, and gazing
upon the dazzling wonders of Broadway. The dreams <262>of my
childhood and the purposes of my manhood were now fulfilled. A
free state around me, and a free earth under my feet! What a
moment was this to me! A whole year was pressed into a single
day. A new world burst upon my agitated vision. I have often
been asked, by kind friends to whom I have told my story, how I
felt when first I found myself beyond the limits of slavery; and
I must say here, as I have often said to them, there is scarcely
anything about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer.
It was a moment of joyous excitement, which no words can
describe. In a letter to a friend, written soon after reaching
New York. I said I felt as one might be supposed to feel, on
escaping from a den of hungry lions. But, in a moment like that,
sensations are too intense and too rapid for words. Anguish and
grief, like darkness and rain, may be described, but joy and
gladness, like the rainbow of promise, defy alike the pen and

For ten or fifteen years I had been dragging a heavy chain, with
a huge block attached to it, cumbering my every motion. I had
felt myself doomed to drag this chain and this block through
life. All efforts, before, to separate myself from the hateful
encumbrance, had only seemed to rivet me the more firmly to it.
Baffled and discouraged at times, I had asked myself the
question, May not this, after all, be God's work? May He not,
for wise ends, have doomed me to this lot? A contest had been
going on in my mind for years, between the clear consciousness of
right and the plausible errors of superstition; between the
wisdom of manly courage, and the foolish weakness of timidity.
The contest was now ended; the chain was severed; God and right
stood vindicated. I was A FREEMAN, and the voice of peace and
joy thrilled my heart.

Free and joyous, however, as I was, joy was not the only
sensation I experienced. It was like the quick blaze, beautiful
at the first, but which subsiding, leaves the building charred
and desolate. I was soon taught that I was still in an enemy's
land. A sense of loneliness and insecurity oppressed me sadly.
I had <263 MEET WITH A FUGITIVE SLAVE>been but a few hours in New
York, before I was met in the streets by a fugitive slave, well
known to me, and the information I got from him respecting New
York, did nothing to lessen my apprehension of danger. The
fugitive in question was "Allender's Jake," in Baltimore; but,
said he, I am "WILLIAM DIXON," in New York! I knew Jake well,
and knew when Tolly Allender and Mr. Price (for the latter
employed Master Hugh as his foreman, in his shipyard on Fell's
Point) made an attempt to recapture Jake, and failed. Jake told
me all about his circumstances, and how narrowly he escaped being
taken back to slavery; that the city was now full of southerners,
returning from the springs; that the black people in New York
were not to be trusted; that there were hired men on the lookout
for fugitives from slavery, and who, for a few dollars, would
betray me into the hands of the slave-catchers; that I must trust
no man with my secret; that I must not think of going either on
the wharves to work, or to a boarding-house to board; and, worse
still, this same Jake told me it was not in his power to help me.
He seemed, even while cautioning me, to be fearing lest, after
all, I might be a party to a second attempt to recapture him.
Under the inspiration of this thought, I must suppose it was, he
gave signs of a wish to get rid of me, and soon left me his
whitewash brush in hand--as he said, for his work. He was soon
lost to sight among the throng, and I was alone again, an easy
prey to the kidnappers, if any should happen to be on my track.

New York, seventeen years ago, was less a place of safety for a
runaway slave than now, and all know how unsafe it now is, under
the new fugitive slave bill. I was much troubled. I had very
little money enough to buy me a few loaves of bread, but not
enough to pay board, outside a lumber yard. I saw the wisdom of
keeping away from the ship yards, for if Master Hugh pursued me,
he would naturally expect to find me looking for work among the
calkers. For a time, every door seemed closed against me. A
sense of my loneliness and helplessness crept over me, <264>and
covered me with something bordering on despair. In the midst of
thousands of my fellowmen, and yet a perfect stranger! In the
midst of human brothers, and yet more fearful of them than of
hungry wolves! I was without home, without friends, without
work, without money, and without any definite knowledge of which
way to go, or where to look for succor.

Some apology can easily be made for the few slaves who have,
after making good their escape, turned back to slavery,
preferring the actual rule of their masters, to the life of
loneliness, apprehension, hunger, and anxiety, which meets them
on their first arrival in a free state. It is difficult for a
freeman to enter into the feelings of such fugitives. He cannot
see things in the same light with the slave, because he does not,
and cannot, look from the same point from which the slave does.
"Why do you tremble," he says to the slave "you are in a free
state;" but the difficulty is, in realizing that he is in a free
state, the slave might reply. A freeman cannot understand why
the slave-master's shadow is bigger, to the slave, than the might
and majesty of a free state; but when he reflects that the slave
knows more about the slavery of his master than he does of the
might and majesty of the free state, he has the explanation. The
slave has been all his life learning the power of his master--
being trained to dread his approach--and only a few hours
learning the power of the state. The master is to him a stern
and flinty reality, but the state is little more than a dream.
He has been accustomed to regard every white man as the friend of
his master, and every colored man as more or less under the
control of his master's friends--the white people. It takes
stout nerves to stand up, in such circumstances. A man,
homeless, shelterless, breadless, friendless, and moneyless, is
not in a condition to assume a very proud or joyous tone; and in
just this condition was I, while wandering about the streets of
New York city and lodging, at least one night, among the barrels
on one of its wharves. I was not only free from slavery, but I
was free from home, as well. The reader <265 MARRIAGE>will
easily see that I had something more than the simple fact of
being free to think of, in this extremity.

I kept my secret as long as I could, and at last was forced to go
in search of an honest man--a man sufficiently _human_ not to
betray me into the hands of slave-catchers. I was not a bad
reader of the human face, nor long in selecting the right man,
when once compelled to disclose the facts of my condition to some

I found my man in the person of one who said his name was
Stewart. He was a sailor, warm-hearted and generous, and he
listened to my story with a brother's interest. I told him I was
running for my freedom--knew not where to go--money almost gone--
was hungry--thought it unsafe to go the shipyards for work, and
needed a friend. Stewart promptly put me in the way of getting
out of my trouble. He took me to his house, and went in search
of the late David Ruggles, who was then the secretary of the New
York Vigilance Committee, and a very active man in all anti-
slavery works. Once in the hands of Mr. Ruggles, I was
comparatively safe. I was hidden with Mr. Ruggles several days.
In the meantime, my intended wife, Anna, came on from Baltimore--
to whom I had written, informing her of my safe arrival at New
York--and, in the presence of Mrs. Mitchell and Mr. Ruggles, we
were married, by Rev. James W. C. Pennington.

Mr. Ruggles[7] was the first officer on the under-ground railroad
with whom I met after reaching the north, and, indeed, the first
of whom I ever heard anything. Learning that I was a calker by
trade, he promptly decided that New Bedford was the proper

[7] He was a whole-souled man, fully imbued with a love of his
afflicted and hunted people, and took pleasure in being to me, as
was his wont, "Eyes to the blind, and legs to the lame." This
brave and devoted man suffered much from the persecutions common
to all who have been prominent benefactors. He at last became
blind, and needed a friend to guide him, even as he had been a
guide to others. Even in his blindness, he exhibited his manly
character. In search of health, he became a physician. When
hope of gaining is{sic} own was gone, he had hope for others.
Believing in hydropathy, he established, at Northampton,
Massachusetts, a large _"Water Cure,"_ and became one of the most
successful of all engaged in that mode of treatment.


<266>place to send me. "Many ships," said he, "are there fitted
out for the whaling business, and you may there find work at your
trade, and make a good living." Thus, in one fortnight after my
flight from Maryland, I was safe in New Bedford, regularly
entered upon the exercise of the rights, responsibilities, and
duties of a freeman.

I may mention a little circumstance which annoyed me on reaching
New Bedford. I had not a cent of money, and lacked two dollars
toward paying our fare from Newport, and our baggage not very
costly--was taken by the stage driver, and held until I could
raise the money to redeem it. This difficulty was soon
surmounted. Mr. Nathan Johnson, to whom we had a line from Mr.
Ruggles, not only received us kindly and hospitably, but, on
being informed about our baggage, promptly loaned me two dollars
with which to redeem my little property. I shall ever be deeply
grateful, both to Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Johnson, for the lively
interest they were pleased to take in me, in this hour of my
extremest need. They not only gave myself and wife bread and
shelter, but taught us how to begin to secure those benefits for
ourselves. Long may they live, and may blessings attend them in
this life and in that which is to come!

Once initiated into the new life of freedom, and assured by Mr.
Johnson that New Bedford was a safe place, the comparatively
unimportant matter, as to what should be my name, came up for
considertion{sic}. It was necessary to have a name in my new
relations. The name given me by my beloved mother was no less
pretentious than "Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey." I had,
however, before leaving Maryland, dispensed with the _Augustus
Washington_, and retained the name _Frederick Bailey_. Between
Baltimore and New Bedford, however, I had several different
names, the better to avoid being overhauled by the hunters, which
I had good reason to believe would be put on my track. Among
honest men an honest man may well be content with one name, and
to acknowledge it at all times and in all <267 CHANGE OF
NAME>places; but toward fugitives, Americans are not honest.
When I arrived at New Bedford, my name was Johnson; and finding
that the Johnson family in New Bedford were already quite
numerous--sufficiently so to produce some confusion in attempts
to distinguish one from another--there was the more reason for
making another change in my name. In fact, "Johnson" had been
assumed by nearly every slave who had arrived in New Bedford from
Maryland, and this, much to the annoyance of the original
"Johnsons" (of whom there were many) in that place. Mine host,
unwilling to have another of his own name added to the community
in this unauthorized way, after I spent a night and a day at his
house, gave me my present name. He had been reading the "Lady of
the Lake," and was pleased to regard me as a suitable person to
wear this, one of Scotland's many famous names. Considering the
noble hospitality and manly character of Nathan Johnson, I have
felt that he, better than I, illustrated the virtues of the great
Scottish chief. Sure I am, that had any slave-catcher entered
his domicile, with a view to molest any one of his household, he
would have shown himself like him of the "stalwart hand."

The reader will be amused at my ignorance, when I tell the
notions I had of the state of northern wealth, enterprise, and
civilization. Of wealth and refinement, I supposed the north had
none. My _Columbian Orator_, which was almost my only book, had
not done much to enlighten me concerning northern society. The
impressions I had received were all wide of the truth. New
Bedford, especially, took me by surprise, in the solid wealth and
grandeur there exhibited. I had formed my notions respecting the
social condition of the free states, by what I had seen and known
of free, white, non-slaveholding people in the slave states.
Regarding slavery as the basis of wealth, I fancied that no
people could become very wealthy without slavery. A free white
man, holding no slaves, in the country, I had known to be the
most ignorant and poverty-stricken of men, and the laugh<268>ing
stock even of slaves themselves--called generally by them, in
derision, _"poor white trash_." Like the non-slaveholders at the
south, in holding no slaves, I suppose the northern people like
them, also, in poverty and degradation. Judge, then, of my
amazement and joy, when I found--as I did find--the very laboring
population of New Bedford living in better houses, more elegantly
furnished--surrounded by more comfort and refinement--than a
majority of the slaveholders on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
There was my friend, Mr. Johnson, himself a colored man (who at
the south would have been regarded as a proper marketable
commodity), who lived in a better house--dined at a richer
board--was the owner of more books--the reader of more
newspapers--was more conversant with the political and social
condition of this nation and the world--than nine-tenths of all
the slaveholders of Talbot county, Maryland. Yet Mr. Johnson was
a working man, and his hands were hardened by honest toil. Here,
then, was something for observation and study. Whence the
difference? The explanation was soon furnished, in the
superiority of mind over simple brute force. Many pages might be
given to the contrast, and in explanation of its causes. But an
incident or two will suffice to show the reader as to how the
mystery gradually vanished before me.

My first afternoon, on reaching New Bedford, was spent in
visiting the wharves and viewing the shipping. The sight of the
broad brim and the plain, Quaker dress, which met me at every
turn, greatly increased my sense of freedom and security. "I am
among the Quakers," thought I, "and am safe." Lying at the
wharves and riding in the stream, were full-rigged ships of
finest model, ready to start on whaling voyages. Upon the right
and the left, I was walled in by large granite-fronted
warehouses, crowded with the good things of this world. On the
wharves, I saw industry without bustle, labor without noise, and
heavy toil without the whip. There was no loud singing, as in
southern ports, where ships are loading or unloading--no loud
cursing or swear<269 THE CONTRAST>ing--but everything went on as
smoothly as the works of a well adjusted machine. How different
was all this from the nosily fierce and clumsily absurd manner of
labor-life in Baltimore and St. Michael's! One of the first
incidents which illustrated the superior mental character of
northern labor over that of the south, was the manner of
unloading a ship's cargo of oil. In a southern port, twenty or
thirty hands would have been employed to do what five or six did
here, with the aid of a single ox attached to the end of a fall.
Main strength, unassisted by skill, is slavery's method of labor.
An old ox, worth eighty dollars, was doing, in New Bedford, what
would have required fifteen thousand dollars worth of human bones
and muscles to have performed in a southern port. I found that
everything was done here with a scrupulous regard to economy,
both in regard to men and things, time and strength. The maid
servant, instead of spending at least a tenth part of her time in
bringing and carrying water, as in Baltimore, had the pump at her
elbow. The wood was dry, and snugly piled away for winter.
Woodhouses, in-door pumps, sinks, drains, self-shutting gates,
washing machines, pounding barrels, were all new things, and told
me that I was among a thoughtful and sensible people. To the
ship-repairing dock I went, and saw the same wise prudence. The
carpenters struck where they aimed, and the calkers wasted no
blows in idle flourishes of the mallet. I learned that men went
from New Bedford to Baltimore, and bought old ships, and brought
them here to repair, and made them better and more valuable than
they ever were before. Men talked here of going whaling on a
four _years'_ voyage with more coolness than sailors where I came
from talked of going a four _months'_ voyage.

I now find that I could have landed in no part of the United
States, where I should have found a more striking and gratifying
contrast to the condition of the free people of color in
Baltimore, than I found here in New Bedford. No colored man is
really free in a slaveholding state. He wears the badge of
bondage while <270>nominally free, and is often subjected to
hardships to which the slave is a stranger; but here in New
Bedford, it was my good fortune to see a pretty near approach to
freedom on the part of the colored people. I was taken all aback
when Mr. Johnson--who lost no time in making me acquainted with
the fact--told me that there was nothing in the constitution of
Massachusetts to prevent a colored man from holding any office in
the state. There, in New Bedford, the black man's children--
although anti-slavery was then far from popular--went to school
side by side with the white children, and apparently without
objection from any quarter. To make me at home, Mr. Johnson
assured me that no slaveholder could take a slave from New
Bedford; that there were men there who would lay down their
lives, before such an outrage could be perpetrated. The colored
people themselves were of the best metal, and would fight for
liberty to the death.

Soon after my arrival in New Bedford, I was told the following
story, which was said to illustrate the spirit of the colored
people in that goodly town: A colored man and a fugitive slave
happened to have a little quarrel, and the former was heard to
threaten the latter with informing his master of his whereabouts.
As soon as this threat became known, a notice was read from the
desk of what was then the only colored church in the place,
stating that business of importance was to be then and there
transacted. Special measures had been taken to secure the
attendance of the would-be Judas, and had proved successful.
Accordingly, at the hour appointed, the people came, and the
betrayer also. All the usual formalities of public meetings were
scrupulously gone through, even to the offering prayer for Divine
direction in the duties of the occasion. The president himself
performed this part of the ceremony, and I was told that he was
unusually fervent. Yet, at the close of his prayer, the old man
(one of the numerous family of Johnsons) rose from his knees,
deliberately surveyed his audience, and then said, in a tone of
solemn resolution, _"Well, friends, we have got him here, and I
would now_ <271 COLORED PEOPLE IN NEW BEDFORD>_recommend that you
young men should just take him outside the door and kill him."_
With this, a large body of the congregation, who well understood
the business they had come there to transact, made a rush at the
villain, and doubtless would have killed him, had he not availed
himself of an open sash, and made good his escape. He has never
shown his head in New Bedford since that time. This little
incident is perfectly characteristic of the spirit of the colored
people in New Bedford. A slave could not be taken from that town
seventeen years ago, any more than he could be so taken away now.
The reason is, that the colored people in that city are educated
up to the point of fighting for their freedom, as well as
speaking for it.

Once assured of my safety in New Bedford, I put on the
habiliments of a common laborer, and went on the wharf in search
of work. I had no notion of living on the honest and generous
sympathy of my colored brother, Johnson, or that of the
abolitionists. My cry was like that of Hood's laborer, "Oh! only
give me work." Happily for me, I was not long in searching. I
found employment, the third day after my arrival in New Bedford,
in stowing a sloop with a load of oil for the New York market.
It was new, hard, and dirty work, even for a calker, but I went
at it with a glad heart and a willing hand. I was now my own
master--a tremendous fact--and the rapturous excitement with
which I seized the job, may not easily be understood, except by
some one with an experience like mine. The thoughts--"I can
work! I can work for a living; I am not afraid of work; I have
no Master Hugh to rob me of my earnings"--placed me in a state of
independence, beyond seeking friendship or support of any man.
That day's work I considered the real starting point of something
like a new existence. Having finished this job and got my pay
for the same, I went next in pursuit of a job at calking. It so
happened that Mr. Rodney French, late mayor of the city of New
Bedford, had a ship fitting out for sea, and to which there was a
large job of calking and coppering to be done. I applied to that
<272>noblehearted man for employment, and he promptly told me to
go to work; but going on the float-stage for the purpose, I was
informed that every white man would leave the ship if I struck a
blow upon her. "Well, well," thought I, "this is a hardship, but
yet not a very serious one for me." The difference between the
wages of a calker and that of a common day laborer, was an
hundred per cent in favor of the former; but then I was free, and
free to work, though not at my trade. I now prepared myself to
do anything which came to hand in the way of turning an honest
penny; sawed wood--dug cellars--shoveled coal--swept chimneys
with Uncle Lucas Debuty--rolled oil casks on the wharves--helped
to load and unload vessels--worked in Ricketson's candle works--
in Richmond's brass foundery, and elsewhere; and thus supported
myself and family for three years.

The first winter was unusually severe, in consequence of the high
prices of food; but even during that winter we probably suffered
less than many who had been free all their lives. During the
hardest of the winter, I hired out for nine dolars{sic} a month;
and out of this rented two rooms for nine dollars per quarter,
and supplied my wife--who was unable to work--with food and some
necessary articles of furniture. We were closely pinched to
bring our wants within our means; but the jail stood over the
way, and I had a wholesome dread of the consequences of running
in debt. This winter past, and I was up with the times--got
plenty of work--got well paid for it--and felt that I had not
done a foolish thing to leave Master Hugh and Master Thomas. I
was now living in a new world, and was wide awake to its
advantages. I early began to attend the meetings of the colored
people of New Bedford, and to take part in them. I was somewhat
amazed to see colored men drawing up resolutions and offering
them for consideration. Several colored young men of New
Bedford, at that period, gave promise of great usefulness. They
were educated, and possessed what seemed to me, at the time, very
superior talents. Some of them have been cut down by death, and
<273 THE CHURCH>others have removed to different parts of the
world, and some remain there now, and justify, in their present
activities, my early impressions of them.

Among my first concerns on reaching New Bedford, was to become
united with the church, for I had never given up, in reality, my
religious faith. I had become lukewarm and in a backslidden
state, but I was still convinced that it was my duty to join the
Methodist church. I was not then aware of the powerful influence
of that religious body in favor of the enslavement of my race,
nor did I see how the northern churches could be responsible for
the conduct of southern churches; neither did I fully understand
how it could be my duty to remain separate from the church,
because bad men were connected with it. The slaveholding church,
with its Coveys, Weedens, Aulds, and Hopkins, I could see through
at once, but I could not see how Elm Street church, in New
Bedford, could be regarded as sanctioning the Christianity of
these characters in the church at St. Michael's. I therefore
resolved to join the Methodist church in New Bedford, and to
enjoy the spiritual advantage of public worship. The minister of
the Elm Street Methodist church, was the Rev. Mr. Bonney; and
although I was not allowed a seat in the body of the house, and
was proscribed on account of my color, regarding this
proscription simply as an accommodation of the uncoverted
congregation who had not yet been won to Christ and his
brotherhood, I was willing thus to be proscribed, lest sinners
should be driven away form the saving power of the gospel. Once
converted, I thought they would be sure to treat me as a man and
a brother. "Surely," thought I, "these Christian people have
none of this feeling against color. They, at least, have
renounced this unholy feeling." Judge, then, dear reader, of my
astonishment and mortification, when I found, as soon I did find,
all my charitable assumptions at fault.

An opportunity was soon afforded me for ascertaining the exact
position of Elm Street church on that subject. I had a chance of
seeing the religious part of the congregation by themselves; and
<274>although they disowned, in effect, their black brothers and
sisters, before the world, I did think that where none but the
saints were assembled, and no offense could be given to the
wicked, and the gospel could not be "blamed," they would
certainly recognize us as children of the same Father, and heirs
of the same salvation, on equal terms with themselves.

The occasion to which I refer, was the sacrament of the Lord's
Supper, that most sacred and most solemn of all the ordinances of
the Christian church. Mr. Bonney had preached a very solemn and
searching discourse, which really proved him to be acquainted
with the inmost secerts{sic} of the human heart. At the close of
his discourse, the congregation was dismissed, and the church
remained to partake of the sacrament. I remained to see, as I
thought, this holy sacrament celebrated in the spirit of its
great Founder.

There were only about a half dozen colored members attached to
the Elm Street church, at this time. After the congregation was
dismissed, these descended from the gallery, and took a seat
against the wall most distant from the altar. Brother Bonney was
very animated, and sung very sweetly, "Salvation 'tis a joyful
sound," and soon began to administer the sacrament. I was
anxious to observe the bearing of the colored members, and the
result was most humiliating. During the whole ceremony, they
looked like sheep without a shepherd. The white members went
forward to the altar by the bench full; and when it was evident
that all the whites had been served with the bread and wine,
Brother Bonney--pious Brother Bonney--after a long pause, as if
inquiring whether all the whites members had been served, and
fully assuring himself on that important point, then raised his
voice to an unnatural pitch, and looking to the corner where his
black sheep seemed penned, beckoned with his hand, exclaiming,
"Come forward, colored friends! come forward! You, too, have an
interest in the blood of Christ. God is no respecter of persons.
Come forward, and take this holy sacrament to your <275 THE
SACRAMENT>comfort." The colored members poor, slavish souls went
forward, as invited. I went out, and have never been in that
church since, although I honestly went there with a view to
joining that body. I found it impossible to respect the
religious profession of any who were under the dominion of this
wicked prejudice, and I could not, therefore, feel that in
joining them, I was joining a Christian church, at all. I tried
other churches in New Bedford, with the same result, and finally,
I attached myself to a small body of colored Methodists, known as
the Zion Methodists. Favored with the affection and confidence
of the members of this humble communion, I was soon made a
classleader and a local preacher among them. Many seasons of
peace and joy I experienced among them, the remembrance of which
is still precious, although I could not see it to be my duty to
remain with that body, when I found that it consented to the same
spirit which held my brethren in chains.

In four or five months after reaching New Bedford, there came a
young man to me, with a copy of the _Liberator_, the paper edited
by WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, and published by ISAAC KNAPP, and
asked me to subscribe for it. I told him I had but just escaped
from slavery, and was of course very poor, and remarked further,
that I was unable to pay for it then; the agent, however, very
willingly took me as a subscriber, and appeared to be much
pleased with securing my name to his list. From this time I was
brought in contact with the mind of William Lloyd Garrison. His
paper took its place with me next to the bible.

The _Liberator_ was a paper after my own heart. It detested
slavery exposed hypocrisy and wickedness in high places--made no
truce with the traffickers in the bodies and souls of men; it
preached human brotherhood, denounced oppression, and, with all
the solemnity of God's word, demanded the complete emancipation
of my race. I not only liked--I _loved_ this paper, and its
editor. He seemed a match for all the oponents{sic} of
emancipation, whether they spoke in the name of the law, or the
gospel. <276>His words were few, full of holy fire, and straight
to the point. Learning to love him, through his paper, I was
prepared to be pleased with his presence. Something of a hero
worshiper, by nature, here was one, on first sight, to excite my
love and reverence.

Seventeen years ago, few men possessed a more heavenly
countenance than William Lloyd Garrison, and few men evinced a
more genuine or a more exalted piety. The bible was his text
book--held sacred, as the word of the Eternal Father--sinless
perfection--complete submission to insults and injuries--literal
obedience to the injunction, if smitten on one side to turn the
other also. Not only was Sunday a Sabbath, but all days were
Sabbaths, and to be kept holy. All sectarism false and
mischievous--the regenerated, throughout the world, members of
one body, and the HEAD Christ Jesus. Prejudice against color was
rebellion against God. Of all men beneath the sky, the slaves,
because most neglected and despised, were nearest and dearest to
his great heart. Those ministers who defended slavery from the
bible, were of their "father the devil"; and those churches which
fellowshiped slaveholders as Christians, were synagogues of
Satan, and our nation was a nation of liars. Never loud or
noisy--calm and serene as a summer sky, and as pure. "You are
the man, the Moses, raised up by God, to deliver his modern
Israel from bondage," was the spontaneous feeling of my heart, as
I sat away back in the hall and listened to his mighty words;
mighty in truth--mighty in their simple earnestness.

I had not long been a reader of the _Liberator_, and listener to
its editor, before I got a clear apprehension of the principles
of the anti-slavery movement. I had already the spirit of the
movement, and only needed to understand its principles and
measures. These I got from the _Liberator_, and from those who
believed in that paper. My acquaintance with the movement
increased my hope for the ultimate freedom of my race, and I
united with it from a sense of delight, as well as duty.
<277 THE _Liberator_>

Every week the _Liberator_ came, and every week I made myself
master of its contents. All the anti-slavery meetings held in
New Bedford I promptly attended, my heart burning at every true
utterance against the slave system, and every rebuke of its
friends and supporters. Thus passed the first three years of my
residence in New Bedford. I had not then dreamed of the
posibility{sic} of my becoming a public advocate of the cause so
deeply imbedded in my heart. It was enough for me to listen--to
receive and applaud the great words of others, and only whisper
in private, among the white laborers on the wharves, and
elsewhere, the truths which burned in my breast.


_Introduced to the Abolitionists_



In the summer of 1841, a grand anti-slavery convention was held
in Nantucket, under the auspices of Mr. Garrison and his friends.
Until now, I had taken no holiday since my escape from slavery.
Having worked very hard that spring and summer, in Richmond's
brass foundery--sometimes working all night as well as all day--
and needing a day or two of rest, I attended this convention,
never supposing that I should take part in the proceedings.
Indeed, I was not aware that any one connected with the
convention even so much as knew my name. I was, however, quite
mistaken. Mr. William C. Coffin, a prominent abolitionst{sic} in
those days of trial, had heard me speaking to my colored friends,
in the little school house on Second street, New Bedford, where
we worshiped. He sought me out in the crowd, and invited me to
say a few words to the convention. Thus sought out, and thus
invited, I was induced to speak out the feelings inspired by the
occasion, and the fresh recollection of the scenes through which
I had passed as a slave. My speech on this occasion is about the
only one I ever made, of which I do not remember a single
connected sentence. It was <279 EXTRAORDINARY SPEECH OF MR.
GARRISON>with the utmost difficulty that I could stand erect, or
that I could command and articulate two words without hesitation
and stammering. I trembled in every limb. I am not sure that my
embarrassment was not the most effective part of my speech, if
speech it could be called. At any rate, this is about the only
part of my performance that I now distinctly remember. But
excited and convulsed as I was, the audience, though remarkably
quiet before, became as much excited as myself. Mr. Garrison
followed me, taking me as his text; and now, whether I had made
an eloquent speech in behalf of freedom or not, his was one never
to be forgotten by those who heard it. Those who had heard Mr.
Garrison oftenest, and had known him longest, were astonished.
It was an effort of unequaled power, sweeping down, like a very
tornado, every opposing barrier, whether of sentiment or opinion.
For a moment, he possessed that almost fabulous inspiration,
often referred to but seldom attained, in which a public meeting
is transformed, as it were, into a single individuality--the
orator wielding a thousand heads and hearts at once, and by the
simple majesty of his all controlling thought, converting his
hearers into the express image of his own soul. That night there
were at least one thousand Garrisonians in Nantucket! A{sic} the
close of this great meeting, I was duly waited on by Mr. John A.
Collins--then the general agent of the Massachusetts anti-slavery
society--and urgently solicited by him to become an agent of that
society, and to publicly advocate its anti-slavery principles. I
was reluctant to take the proffered position. I had not been
quite three years from slavery--was honestly distrustful of my
ability--wished to be excused; publicity exposed me to discovery
and arrest by my master; and other objections came up, but Mr.
Collins was not to be put off, and I finally consented to go out
for three months, for I supposed that I should have got to the
end of my story and my usefulness, in that length of time.

Here opened upon me a new life a life for which I had had no
preparation. I was a "graduate from the peculiar institution,"
<280>Mr. Collins used to say, when introducing me, _"with my
diploma written on my back!"_ The three years of my freedom had
been spent in the hard school of adversity. My hands had been
furnished by nature with something like a solid leather coating,
and I had bravely marked out for myself a life of rough labor,
suited to the hardness of my hands, as a means of supporting
myself and rearing my children.

Now what shall I say of this fourteen years' experience as a
public advocate of the cause of my enslaved brothers and sisters?
The time is but as a speck, yet large enough to justify a pause
for retrospection--and a pause it must only be.

Young, ardent, and hopeful, I entered upon this new life in the
full gush of unsuspecting enthusiasm. The cause was good; the
men engaged in it were good; the means to attain its triumph,
good; Heaven's blessing must attend all, and freedom must soon be
given to the pining millions under a ruthless bondage. My whole
heart went with the holy cause, and my most fervent prayer to the
Almighty Disposer of the hearts of men, were continually offered
for its early triumph. "Who or what," thought I, "can withstand
a cause so good, so holy, so indescribably glorious. The God of
Israel is with us. The might of the Eternal is on our side. Now
let but the truth be spoken, and a nation will start forth at the
sound!" In this enthusiastic spirit, I dropped into the ranks of
freedom's friends, and went forth to the battle. For a time I
was made to forget that my skin was dark and my hair crisped.
For a time I regretted that I could not have shared the hardships
and dangers endured by the earlier workers for the slave's
release. I soon, however, found that my enthusiasm had been
extravagant; that hardships and dangers were not yet passed; and
that the life now before me, had shadows as well as sunbeams.

Among the first duties assigned me, on entering the ranks, was to
travel, in company with Mr. George Foster, to secure subscribers
to the _Anti-slavery Standard_ and the _Liberator_. With <281
MATTER OF THE SPEECH>him I traveled and lectured through the
eastern counties of Massachusetts. Much interest was awakened--
large meetings assembled. Many came, no doubt, from curiosity to
hear what a Negro could say in his own cause. I was generally
introduced as a _"chattel"--_a_"thing"_--a piece of southern
_"property"_--the chairman assuring the audience that _it_ could
speak. Fugitive slaves, at that time, were not so plentiful as
now; and as a fugitive slave lecturer, I had the advantage of
being a _"brand new fact"_--the first one out. Up to that time,
a colored man was deemed a fool who confessed himself a runaway
slave, not only because of the danger to which he exposed himself
of being retaken, but because it was a confession of a very _low_
origin! Some of my colored friends in New Bedford thought very
badly of my wisdom for thus exposing and degrading myself. The
only precaution I took, at the beginning, to prevent Master
Thomas from knowing where I was, and what I was about, was the
withholding my former name, my master's name, and the name of the
state and county from which I came. During the first three or
four months, my speeches were almost exclusively made up of
narrations of my own personal experience as a slave. "Let us
have the facts," said the people. So also said Friend George
Foster, who always wished to pin me down to my simple narrative.
"Give us the facts," said Collins, "we will take care of the
philosophy." Just here arose some embarrassment. It was
impossible for me to repeat the same old story month after month,
and to keep up my interest in it. It was new to the people, it
is true, but it was an old story to me; and to go through with it
night after night, was a task altogether too mechanical for my
nature. "Tell your story, Frederick," would whisper my then
revered friend, William Lloyd Garrison, as I stepped upon the
platform. I could not always obey, for I was now reading and
thinking. New views of the subject were presented to my mind.
It did not entirely satisfy me to _narrate_ wrongs; I felt like
_denouncing_ them. I could not always curb my moral indignation
<282>for the perpetrators of slaveholding villainy, long enough
for a circumstantial statement of the facts which I felt almost
everybody must know. Besides, I was growing, and needed room.
"People won't believe you ever was a slave, Frederick, if you
keep on this way," said Friend Foster. "Be yourself," said
Collins, "and tell your story." It was said to me, "Better have
a _little_ of the plantation manner of speech than not; 'tis not
best that you seem too learned." These excellent friends were
actuated by the best of motives, and were not altogether wrong in
their advice; and still I must speak just the word that seemed to
_me_ the word to be spoken _by_ me.

At last the apprehended trouble came. People doubted if I had
ever been a slave. They said I did not talk like a slave, look
like a slave, nor act like a slave, and that they believed I had
never been south of Mason and Dixon's line. "He don't tell us
where he came from--what his master's name was--how he got away--
nor the story of his experience. Besides, he is educated, and
is, in this, a contradiction of all the facts we have concerning
the ignorance of the slaves." Thus, I was in a pretty fair way
to be denounced as an impostor. The committee of the
Massachusetts anti-slavery society knew all the facts in my case,
and agreed with me in the prudence of keeping them private.
They, therefore, never doubted my being a genuine fugitive; but
going down the aisles of the churches in which I spoke, and
hearing the free spoken Yankees saying, repeatedly, _"He's never
been a slave, I'll warrant ye_," I resolved to dispel all doubt,
at no distant day, by such a revelation of facts as could not be
made by any other than a genuine fugitive.

In a little less than four years, therefore, after becoming a
public lecturer, I was induced to write out the leading facts
connected with my experience in slavery, giving names of persons,
places, and dates--thus putting it in the power of any who
doubted, to ascertain the truth or falsehood of my story of being
a fugitive slave. This statement soon became known in Maryland,
<283 DANGER OF RECAPTURE>and I had reason to believe that an
effort would be made to recapture me.

It is not probable that any open attempt to secure me as a slave
could have succeeded, further than the obtainment, by my master,
of the money value of my bones and sinews. Fortunately for me,
in the four years of my labors in the abolition cause, I had
gained many friends, who would have suffered themselves to be
taxed to almost any extent to save me from slavery. It was felt
that I had committed the double offense of running away, and
exposing the secrets and crimes of slavery and slaveholders.
There was a double motive for seeking my reenslavement--avarice
and vengeance; and while, as I have said, there was little
probability of successful recapture, if attempted openly, I was
constantly in danger of being spirited away, at a moment when my
friends could render me no assistance. In traveling about from
place to place--often alone I was much exposed to this sort of
attack. Any one cherishing the design to betray me, could easily
do so, by simply tracing my whereabouts through the anti-slavery
journals, for my meetings and movements were promptly made known
in advance. My true friends, Mr. Garrison and Mr. Phillips, had
no faith in the power of Massachusetts to protect me in my right
to liberty. Public sentiment and the law, in their opinion,
would hand me over to the tormentors. Mr. Phillips, especially,
considered me in danger, and said, when I showed him the
manuscript of my story, if in my place, he would throw it into
the fire. Thus, the reader will observe, the settling of one
difficulty only opened the way for another; and that though I had
reached a free state, and had attained position for public
usefulness, I ws{sic} still tormented with the liability of
losing my liberty. How this liability was dispelled, will be
related, with other incidents, in the next chapter.



_Twenty-One Months in Great Britain_




The allotments of Providence, when coupled with trouble and
anxiety, often conceal from finite vision the wisdom and goodness
in which they are sent; and, frequently, what seemed a harsh and
invidious dispensation, is converted by after experience into a
happy and beneficial arrangement. Thus, the painful liability to
be returned again to slavery, which haunted me by day, and
troubled my dreams by night, proved to be a necessary step in the
path of knowledge and usefulness. The writing of my pamphlet, in
the spring of 1845, endangered my liberty, and led me to seek a
refuge from republican slavery in monarchical England. A rude,
uncultivated fugitive slave was driven, by stern necessity, to
that country to which young American gentlemen go to increase
their stock of knowledge, to seek pleasure, to have their rough,
democratic manners softened by contact with English aristocratic
refinement. On applying for a passage to England, on board the
"Cambria", of the Cunard line, my friend, James N. Buffum, of
informed that I could not be received on board as a cabin
passenger. American prejudice against color triumphed over
British liberality and civilization, and erected a color test and
condition for crossing the sea in the cabin of a British vessel.
The insult was keenly felt by my white friends, but to me, it was
common, expected, and therefore, a thing of no great consequence,
whether I went in the cabin or in the steerage. Moreover, I felt
that if I could not go into the first cabin, first-cabin
passengers could come into the second cabin, and the result
justified my anticipations to the fullest extent. Indeed, I soon
found myself an object of more general interest than I wished to
be; and so far from being degraded by being placed in the second
cabin, that part of the ship became the scene of as much pleasure
and refinement, during the voyage, as the cabin itself. The
Hutchinson Family, celebrated vocalists--fellow-passengers--often
came to my rude forecastle deck, and sung their sweetest songs,
enlivening the place with eloquent music, as well as spirited
conversation, during the voyage. In two days after leaving
Boston, one part of the ship was about as free to me as another.
My fellow-passengers not only visited me, but invited me to visit
them, on the saloon deck. My visits there, however, were but
seldom. I preferred to live within my privileges, and keep upon
my own premises. I found this quite as much in accordance with
good policy, as with my own feelings. The effect was, that with
the majority of the passengers, all color distinctions were flung
to the winds, and I found myself treated with every mark of
respect, from the beginning to the end of the voyage, except in a
single instance; and in that, I came near being mobbed, for
complying with an invitation given me by the passengers, and the
captain of the "Cambria," to deliver a lecture on slavery. Our
New Orleans and Georgia passengers were pleased to regard my
lecture as an insult offered to them, and swore I should not
speak. They went so far as to threaten to throw me overboard,
and but for the firmness of Captain Judkins, prob<286>ably would
have (under the inspiration of _slavery_ and _brandy_) attempted
to put their threats into execution. I have no space to describe
this scene, although its tragic and comic peculiarities are well
worth describing. An end was put to the _melee_, by the
captain's calling the ship's company to put the salt water
mobocrats in irons. At this determined order, the gentlemen of
the lash scampered, and for the rest of the voyage conducted
themselves very decorously.

This incident of the voyage, in two days after landing at
Liverpool, brought me at once before the British public, and that
by no act of my own. The gentlemen so promptly snubbed in their
meditated violence, flew to the press to justify their conduct,
and to denounce me as a worthless and insolent Negro. This
course was even less wise than the conduct it was intended to
sustain; for, besides awakening something like a national
interest in me, and securing me an audience, it brought out
counter statements, and threw the blame upon themselves, which
they had sought to fasten upon me and the gallant captain of the

Some notion may be formed of the difference in my feelings and
circumstances, while abroad, from the following extract from one
of a series of letters addressed by me to Mr. Garrison, and
published in the _Liberator_. It was written on the first day of
January, 1846:


MY DEAR FRIEND GARRISON: Up to this time, I have given no direct
expression of the views, feelings, and opinions which I have
formed, respecting the character and condition of the people of
this land. I have refrained thus, purposely. I wish to speak
advisedly, and in order to do this, I have waited till, I trust,
experience has brought my opinions to an intelligent maturity. I
have been thus careful, not because I think what I say will have
much effect in shaping the opinions of the world, but because
whatever of influence I may possess, whether little or much, I
wish it to go in the right direction, and according to truth. I
hardly need say that, in speaking of Ireland, I shall be
influenced by no prejudices in favor of America. I think my
circumstances all forbid that. I have no end to serve, no creed
to uphold, no government to defend; and as to nation, I belong to
none. I have no protection at home, or resting-place abroad.
The land of my birth welcomes me to her shores only as a slave,
and spurns with contempt the idea of treating me differently; so
that I am an outcast from the society of my childhood, and an
outlaw in the <287 LETTER TO GARRISON>land of my birth. "I am a
stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were."
That men should be patriotic, is to me perfectly natural; and as
a philosophical fact, I am able to give it an _intellectual_
recognition. But no further can I go. If ever I had any
patriotism, or any capacity for the feeling, it was whipped out
of me long since, by the lash of the American soul-drivers.

In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her
bright blue sky, her grand old woods, her fertile fields, her
beautiful rivers, her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains.
But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to
mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal
spirit of slaveholding, robbery, and wrong; when I remember that
with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren
are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her
most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged
sisters; I am filled with unutterable loathing, and led to
reproach myself that anything could fall from my lips in praise
of such a land. America will not allow her children to love her.
She seems bent on compelling those who would be her warmest
friends, to be her worst enemies. May God give her repentance,
before it is too late, is the ardent prayer of my heart. I will
continue to pray, labor, and wait, believing that she cannot
always be insensible to the dictates of justice, or deaf to the
voice of humanity.

My opportunities for learning the character and condition of the
people of this land have been very great. I have traveled alm@@
@@om the Hill of Howth to the Giant's Causeway, and from the
Giant's Causway, to Cape Clear. During these travels, I have met
with much in the chara@@ and condition of the people to approve,
and much to condemn; much that @@thrilled me with pleasure, and
very much that has filled me with pain. I @@ @@t, in this
letter, attempt to give any description of those scenes which
have given me pain. This I will do hereafter. I have enough,
and more than your subscribers will be disposed to read at one
time, of the bright side of the picture. I can truly say, I have
spent some of the happiest moments of my life since landing in
this country. I seem to have undergone a transformation. I live
a new life. The warm and generous cooperation extended to me by
the friends of my despised race; the prompt and liberal manner
with which the press has rendered me its aid; the glorious
enthusiasm with which thousands have flocked to hear the cruel
wrongs of my down-trodden and long-enslaved fellow-countrymen
portrayed; the deep sympathy for the slave, and the strong
abhorrence of the slaveholder, everywhere evinced; the cordiality
with which members and ministers of various religious bodies, and
of various shades of religious opinion, have embraced me, and
lent me their aid; the kind of hospitality constantly proffered
to me by persons of the highest rank in society; the spirit of
freedom that seems to animate all with whom I come in contact,
and the entire absence of everything that looked like prejudice
against me, on account of the color of my skin--contrasted so
strongly with my long and bitter experience in the United States,
that I look with wonder and amazement on the transition. In the
southern part of the United States, I was a slave, thought of
<288>and spoken of as property; in the language of the LAW,
"_held, taken, reputed, and adjudged to be a chattel in the hands
of my owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators,
and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes
whatsoever_." (Brev. Digest, 224). In the northern states, a
fugitive slave, liable to be hunted at any moment, like a felon,
and to be hurled into the terrible jaws of slavery--doomed by an
inveterate prejudice against color to insult and outrage on every
hand (Massachusetts out of the question)--denied the privileges
and courtesies common to others in the use of the most humble
means of conveyance--shut out from the cabins on steamboats--
refused admission to respectable hotels--caricatured, scorned,
scoffed, mocked, and maltreated with impunity by any one (no
matter how black his heart), so he has a white skin. But now
behold the change! Eleven days and a half gone, and I have
crossed three thousand miles of the perilous deep. Instead of a
democratic government, I am under a monarchical government.
Instead of the bright, blue sky of America, I am covered with the
soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle. I breathe, and lo! the
chattel becomes a man. I gaze around in vain for one who will
question my equal humanity, claim me as his slave, or offer me an
insult. I employ a cab--I am seated beside white people--I reach
the hotel--I enter the same door--I am shown into the same
parlor--I dine at the same table and no one is offended. No
delicate nose grows deformed in my presence. I find no
difficulty here in obtaining admission into any place of worship,
instruction, or amusement, on equal terms with people as white as
any I ever saw in the United States. I meet nothing to remind me
of my complexion. I find myself regarded and treated at every
turn with the kindness and deference paid to white people. When
I go to church, I am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip to
tell me, "_We don't allow niggers in here_!"

I remember, about two years ago, there was in Boston, near the
south-west corner of Boston Common, a menagerie. I had long
desired to see such a collection as I understood was being
exhibited there. Never having had an opportunity while a slave,
I resolved to seize this, my first, since my escape. I went, and
as I approached the entrance to gain admission, I was met and
told by the door-keeper, in a harsh and contemptuous tone, "_We
don't allow niggers in here_." I also remember attending a
revival meeting in the Rev. Henry Jackson's meeting-house, at New
Bedford, and going up the broad aisle to find a seat, I was met
by a good deacon, who told me, in a pious tone, "_We don't allow
niggers in here_!" Soon after my arrival in New Bedford, from
the south, I had a strong desire to attend the Lyceum, but was
told, "_They don't allow niggers in here_!" While passing from
New York to Boston, on the steamer Massachusetts, on the night of
the 9th of December, 1843, when chilled almost through with the
cold, I went into the cabin to get a little warm. I was soon
touched upon the shoulder, and told, "_We don't allow niggers in
here_!" On arriving in Boston, from an anti-slavery tour, hungry
and tired, I went into an eating-house, near my friend, Mr.
Campbell's to get some refreshments. I was met by a lad in a
white apron, "_We don't allow niggers in here_!" <289 TIME AND
LABORS ABROAD>A week or two before leaving the United States, I
had a meeting appointed at Weymouth, the home of that glorious
band of true abolitionists, the Weston family, and others. On
attempting to take a seat in the omnibus to that place, I was
told by the driver (and I never shall forget his fiendish hate).
"_I don't allow niggers in here_!" Thank heaven for the respite
I now enjoy! I had been in Dublin but a few days, when a
gentleman of great respectability kindly offered to conduct me
through all the public buildings of that beautiful city; and a
little afterward, I found myself dining with the lord mayor of
Dublin. What a pity there was not some American democratic
Christian at the door of his splendid mansion, to bark out at my
approach, "_They don't allow niggers in here_!" The truth is,
the people here know nothing of the republican Negro hate
prevalent in our glorious land. They measure and esteem men
according to their moral and intellectual worth, and not
according to the color of their skin. Whatever may be said of
the aristocracies here, there is none based on the color of a
man's skin. This species of aristocracy belongs preeminently to
"the land of the free, and the home of the brave." I have never
found it abroad, in any but Americans. It sticks to them
wherever they go. They find it almost as hard to get rid of, as
to get rid of their skins.

The second day after my arrival at Liverpool, in company with my
friend, Buffum, and several other friends, I went to Eaton Hall,
the residence of the Marquis of Westminster, one of the most
splendid buildings in England. On approaching the door, I found
several of our American passengers, who came out with us in the
"Cambria," waiting for admission, as but one party was allowed in
the house at a time. We all had to wait till the company within
came out. And of all the faces, expressive of chagrin, those of
the Americans were preeminent. They looked as sour as vinegar,
and as bitter as gall, when they found I was to be admitted on
equal terms with themselves. When the door was opened, I walked
in, on an equal footing with my white fellow-citizens, and from
all I could see, I had as much attention paid me by the servants
that showed us through the house, as any with a paler skin. As I
walked through the building, the statuary did not fall down, the
pictures did not leap from their places, the doors did not refuse
to open, and the servants did not say, "_We don't allow niggers
in here_!"

A happy new-year to you, and all the friends of freedom.


My time and labors, while abroad were divided between England,
Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Upon this experience alone, I
might write a book twice the size of this, _My Bondage and My
Freedom_. I visited and lectured in nearly all the large towns
and cities in the United Kingdom, and enjoyed many favorable
opportunities for observation and information. But books on
England are abundant, and the public may, therefore, dismiss any
fear that I am meditating another infliction in that line;
<290>though, in truth, I should like much to write a book on
those countries, if for nothing else, to make grateful mention of
the many dear friends, whose benevolent actions toward me are
ineffaceably stamped upon my memory, and warmly treasured in my
heart. To these friends I owe my freedom in the United States.
On their own motion, without any solicitation from me (Mrs. Henry
Richardson, a clever lady, remarkable for her devotion to every
good work, taking the lead), they raised a fund sufficient to
purchase my freedom, and actually paid it over, and placed the
papers[8] of my manumission in my hands, before


[8] The following is a copy of these curious papers, both of my
transfer from Thomas to Hugh Auld, and from Hugh to myself:

"Know all men by these Presents, That I, Thomas Auld, of Talbot
county, and state of Maryland, for and in consideration of the
sum of one hundred dollars, current money, to me paid by Hugh
Auld, of the city of Baltimore, in the said state, at and before
the sealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof,
I, the said Thomas Auld, do hereby acknowledge, have granted,
bargained, and sold, and by these presents do grant, bargain, and
sell unto the said Hugh Auld, his executors, administrators, and
assigns, ONE NEGRO MAN, by the name of FREDERICK BAILY, or
DOUGLASS, as he callls{sic} himself--he is now about twenty-eight
years of age--to have and to hold the said negro man for life.
And I, the said Thomas Auld, for myself my heirs, executors, and
administrators, all and singular, the said FREDERICK BAILY
_alias_ DOUGLASS, unto the said Hugh Auld, his executors,
administrators, and assigns against me, the said Thomas Auld, my
executors, and administrators, and against ali and every other
person or persons whatsoever, shall and will warrant and forever
defend by these presents. In witness whereof, I set my hand and
seal, this thirteenth day of November, eighteen hundred and
forty-six. THOMAS

"Signed, sealed, and delivered in presence of Wrightson Jones.

The authenticity of this bill of sale is attested by N.
Harrington, a justice of the peace of the state of Maryland, and
for the county of Talbot, dated same day as above.

"To all whom it may concern: Be it known, that I, Hugh Auld, of
the city of Baltimore, in Baltimore county, in the state of
Maryland, for divers good causes and considerations, me thereunto
moving, have released from slavery, liberated, manumitted, and
set free, and by these presents do hereby release from slavery,
liberate, manumit, and set free, MY NEGRO MAN, named FREDERICK
BAILY, otherwise called DOUGLASS, being of the age of twenty-
eight years, or thereabouts, and able to work and gain a
sufficient livelihood and maintenance; and him the said negro man
named FREDERICK BAILY, otherwise called FREDERICK DOUGLASS, I do
declare to be henceforth free, manumitted, and discharged from
all manner of servitude to me, my executors, and administrators

"In witness whereof, I, the said Hugh Auld, have hereunto set my
hand and seal the fifth of December, in the year one thousand
eight hundred and forty-six.
Hugh Auld

"Sealed and delivered in presence of T. Hanson Belt.


<291 FREEDOM PURCHASED>they would tolerate the idea of my
returning to this, my native country. To this commercial
transaction I owe my exemption from the democratic operation of
the Fugitive Slave Bill of 1850. But for this, I might at any
time become a victim of this most cruel and scandalous enactment,
and be doomed to end my life, as I began it, a slave. The sum
paid for my freedom was one hundred and fifty pounds sterling.

Some of my uncompromising anti-slavery friends in this country
failed to see the wisdom of this arrangement, and were not
pleased that I consented to it, even by my silence. They thought
it a violation of anti-slavery principles--conceding a right of
property in man--and a wasteful expenditure of money. On the
other hand, viewing it simply in the light of a ransom, or as
money extorted by a robber, and my liberty of more value than one
hundred and fifty pounds sterling, I could not see either a
violation of the laws of morality, or those of economy, in the

It is true, I was not in the possession of my claimants, and
could have easily remained in England, for the same friends who
had so generously purchased my freedom, would have assisted me in
establishing myself in that country. To this, however, I could
not consent. I felt that I had a duty to perform--and that was,
to labor and suffer with the oppressed in my native land.
Considering, therefore, all the circumstances--the fugitive slave
bill included--I think the very best thing was done in letting
Master Hugh have the hundred and fifty pounds sterling, and
leaving me free to return to my appropriate field of labor. Had
I been a private person, having no other relations or duties than
those of a personal and family nature, I should never have
consented to the payment of so large a sum for the privilege of
living securely under our glorious republican form of government.
I could have remained in England, or have gone to some other
country; and perhaps I could even have lived unobserved in this.
But to this I could not consent. I had already become
some<292>what notorious, and withal quite as unpopular as
notorious; and I was, therefore, much exposed to arrest and

The main object to which my labors in Great Britain were
directed, was the concentration of the moral and religious
sentiment of its people against American slavery. England is
often charged with having established slavery in the United
States, and if there were no other justification than this, for
appealing to her people to lend their moral aid for the abolition
of slavery, I should be justified. My speeches in Great Britain
were wholly extemporaneous, and I may not always have been so
guarded in my expressions, as I otherwise should have been. I
was ten years younger then than now, and only seven years from
slavery. I cannot give the reader a better idea of the nature of
my discourses, than by republishing one of them, delivered in
Finsbury chapel, London, to an audience of about two thousand
persons, and which was published in the _London Universe_, at the

Those in the United States who may regard this speech as being
harsh in its spirit and unjust in its statements, because
delivered before an audience supposed to be anti-republican in
their principles and feelings, may view the matter differently,
when they learn that the case supposed did not exist. It so
happened that the great mass of the people in England who
attended and patronized my anti-slavery meetings, were, in truth,
about as good republicans as the mass of Americans, and with this
decided advantage over the latter--they are lovers of
republicanism for all men, for black men as well as for white
men. They are the people who sympathize with Louis Kossuth and
Mazzini, and with the oppressed and enslaved, of every color and
nation, the world over. They constitute the democratic element
in British politics, and are as much opposed to the union of
church and state as we, in America, are to such an union. At the
meeting where this speech was delivered, Joseph Sturge--a world-
wide philan


[9] See Appendix to this volume, page 317.



<293 ENGLISH REPUBLICANS>thropist, and a member of the society of
Friends--presided, and addressed the meeting. George William
Alexander, another Friend, who has spent more than an
Ameriacn{sic} fortune in promoting the anti-slavery cause in
different sections of the world, was on the platform; and also
Dr. Campbell (now of the _British Banner_) who combines all the
humane tenderness of Melanchthon, with the directness and
boldness of Luther. He is in the very front ranks of non-
conformists, and looks with no unfriendly eye upon America.
George Thompson, too, was there; and America will yet own that he
did a true man's work in relighting the rapidly dying-out fire of
true republicanism in the American heart, and be ashamed of the
treatment he met at her hands. Coming generations in this
country will applaud the spirit of this much abused republican
friend of freedom. There were others of note seated on the
platform, who would gladly ingraft upon English institutions all
that is purely republican in the institutions of America.
Nothing, therefore, must be set down against this speech on the
score that it was delivered in the presence of those who cannot
appreciate the many excellent things belonging to our system of
government, and with a view to stir up prejudice against
republican institutions.

Again, let it also be remembered--for it is the simple truth--
that neither in this speech, nor in any other which I delivered
in England, did I ever allow myself to address Englishmen as
against Americans. I took my stand on the high ground of human
brotherhood, and spoke to Englishmen as men, in behalf of men.
Slavery is a crime, not against Englishmen, but against God, and
all the members of the human family; and it belongs to the whole
human family to seek its suppression. In a letter to Mr.
Greeley, of the New York Tribune, written while abroad, I said:


I am, nevertheless aware that the wisdom of exposing the sins of
one nation in the ear of another, has been seriously questioned
by good and clear-sighted people, both on this and on your side
of the Atlantic. And the <294>thought is not without weight on
my own mind. I am satisfied that there are many evils which can
be best removed by confining our efforts to the immediate
locality where such evils exist. This, however, is by no means
the case with the system of slavery. It is such a giant sin--
such a monstrous aggregation of iniquity--so hardening to the
human heart--so destructive to the moral sense, and so well
calculated to beget a character, in every one around it,
favorable to its own continuance,--that I feel not only at
liberty, but abundantly justified, in appealing to the whole
world to aid in its removal.


But, even if I had--as has been often charged--labored to bring
American institutions generally into disrepute, and had not
confined my labors strictly within the limits of humanity and
morality, I should not have been without illustrious examples to
support me. Driven into semi-exile by civil and barbarous laws,
and by a system which cannot be thought of without a shudder, I
was fully justified in turning, if possible, the tide of the
moral universe against the heaven-daring outrage.

Four circumstances greatly assisted me in getting the question of
American slavery before the British public. First, the mob on
board the "Cambria," already referred to, which was a sort of
national announcement of my arrival in England. Secondly, the
highly reprehensible course pursued by the Free Church of
Scotland, in soliciting, receiving, and retaining money in its
sustentation fund for supporting the gospel in Scotland, which
was evidently the ill-gotten gain of slaveholders and slave-
traders. Third, the great Evangelical Alliance--or rather the
attempt to form such an alliance, which should include
slaveholders of a certain description--added immensely to the
interest felt in the slavery question. About the same time,
there was the World's Temperance Convention, where I had the
misfortune to come in collision with sundry American doctors of
divinity--Dr. Cox among the number--with whom I had a small

It has happened to me--as it has happened to most other men
engaged in a good cause--often to be more indebted to my enemies
than to my own skill or to the assistance of my friends, for
whatever success has attended my labors. Great surprise was <295
FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND>expressed by American newspapers, north
and south, during my stay in Great Britain, that a person so
illiterate and insignificant as myself could awaken an interest
so marked in England. These papers were not the only parties
surprised. I was myself not far behind them in surprise. But
the very contempt and scorn, the systematic and extravagant
disparagement of which I was the object, served, perhaps, to
magnify my few merits, and to render me of some account, whether
deserving or not. A man is sometimes made great, by the
greatness of the abuse a portion of mankind may think proper to
heap upon him. Whether I was of as much consequence as the
English papers made me out to be, or not, it was easily seen, in
England, that I could not be the ignorant and worthless creature,
some of the American papers would have them believe I was. Men,
in their senses, do not take bowie-knives to kill mosquitoes, nor
pistols to shoot flies; and the American passengers who thought
proper to get up a mob to silence me, on board the "Cambria,"
took the most effective method of telling the British public that
I had something to say.

But to the second circumstance, namely, the position of the Free
Church of Scotland, with the great Doctors Chalmers, Cunningham,
and Candlish at its head. That church, with its leaders, put it
out of the power of the Scotch people to ask the old question,
which we in the north have often most wickedly asked--"_What have
we to do with slavery_?" That church had taken the price of
blood into its treasury, with which to build _free_ churches, and
to pay _free_ church ministers for preaching the gospel; and,
worse still, when honest John Murray, of Bowlien Bay--now gone to
his reward in heaven--with William Smeal, Andrew Paton, Frederick
Card, and other sterling anti-slavery men in Glasgow, denounced
the transaction as disgraceful and shocking to the religious
sentiment of Scotland, this church, through its leading divines,
instead of repenting and seeking to mend the mistake into which
it had fallen, made it a flagrant sin, by undertaking to defend,
in the name of God and the bible, the principle not only <296>of
taking the money of slave-dealers to build churches, but of
holding fellowship with the holders and traffickers in human
flesh. This, the reader will see, brought up the whole question
of slavery, and opened the way to its full discussion, without
any agency of mine. I have never seen a people more deeply moved
than were the people of Scotland, on this very question. Public
meeting succeeded public meeting. Speech after speech, pamphlet
after pamphlet, editorial after editorial, sermon after sermon,
soon lashed the conscientious Scotch people into a perfect
_furore_. "SEND BACK THE MONEY!" was indignantly cried out, from
Greenock to Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. George
Thompson, of London, Henry C. Wright, of the United States, James
N. Buffum, of Lynn, Massachusetts, and myself were on the anti-
slavery side; and Doctors Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish on
the other. In a conflict where the latter could have had even
the show of right, the truth, in our hands as against them, must
have been driven to the wall; and while I believe we were able to
carry the conscience of the country against the action of the
Free Church, the battle, it must be confessed, was a hard-fought
one. Abler defenders of the doctrine of fellowshiping
slaveholders as christians, have not been met with. In defending
this doctrine, it was necessary to deny that slavery is a sin.
If driven from this position, they were compelled to deny that
slaveholders were responsible for the sin; and if driven from
both these positions, they must deny that it is a sin in such a
sense, and that slaveholders are sinners in such a sense, as to
make it wrong, in the circumstances in which they were placed, to
recognize them as Christians. Dr. Cunningham was the most
powerful debater on the slavery side of the question; Mr.
Thompson was the ablest on the anti-slavery side. A scene
occurred between these two men, a parallel to which I think I
never witnessed before, and I know I never have since. The scene
was caused by a single exclamation on the part of Mr. Thompson.

The general assembly of the Free Church was in progress at <297
THE DEBATE>Cannon Mills, Edinburgh. The building would hold
about twenty-five hundred persons; and on this occasion it was
densely packed, notice having been given that Doctors Cunningham
and Candlish would speak, that day, in defense of the relations
of the Free Church of Scotland to slavery in America. Messrs.
Thompson, Buffum, myself, and a few anti-slavery friends,
attended, but sat at such a distance, and in such a position,
that, perhaps we were not observed from the platform. The
excitement was intense, having been greatly increased by a series
of meetings held by Messrs. Thompson, Wright, Buffum, and myself,
in the most splendid hall in that most beautiful city, just
previous to the meetings of the general assembly. "SEND BACK THE
MONEY!" stared at us from every street corner; "SEND BACK THE
MONEY!" in large capitals, adorned the broad flags of the
pavement; "SEND BACK THE MONEY!" was the chorus of the popular
street songs; "SEND BACK THE MONEY!" was the heading of leading
editorials in the daily newspapers. This day, at Cannon Mills,
the great doctors of the church were to give an answer to this
loud and stern demand. Men of all parties and all sects were
most eager to hear. Something great was expected. The occasion
was great, the men great, and great speeches were expected from

In addition to the outside pressure upon Doctors Cunningham and
Candlish, there was wavering in their own ranks. The conscience
of the church itself was not at ease. A dissatisfaction with the
position of the church touching slavery, was sensibly manifest
among the members, and something must be done to counteract this
untoward influence. The great Dr. Chalmers was in feeble health,
at the time. His most potent eloquence could not now be summoned
to Cannon Mills, as formerly. He whose voice was able to rend
asunder and dash down the granite walls of the established church
of Scotland, and to lead a host in solemn procession from it, as
from a doomed city, was now old and enfeebled. Besides, he had
said his word on this very question; and his word had not
silenced the clamor without, nor stilled <298>the anxious
heavings within. The occasion was momentous, and felt to be so.
The church was in a perilous condition. A change of some sort
must take place in her condition, or she must go to pieces. To
stand where she did, was impossible. The whole weight of the
matter fell on Cunningham and Candlish. No shoulders in the
church were broader than theirs; and I must say, badly as I
detest the principles laid down and defended by them, I was
compelled to acknowledge the vast mental endowments of the men.
Cunningham rose; and his rising was the signal for almost
tumultous applause. You will say this was scarcely in keeping
with the solemnity of the occasion, but to me it served to
increase its grandeur and gravity. The applause, though
tumultuous, was not joyous. It seemed to me, as it thundered up
from the vast audience, like the fall of an immense shaft, flung
from shoulders already galled by its crushing weight. It was
like saying, "Doctor, we have borne this burden long enough, and
willingly fling it upon you. Since it was you who brought it
upon us, take it now, and do what you will with it, for we are
too weary to bear it.{no close "}

Doctor Cunningham proceeded with his speech, abounding in logic,
learning, and eloquence, and apparently bearing down all
opposition; but at the moment--the fatal moment--when he was just
bringing all his arguments to a point, and that point being, that
neither Jesus Christ nor his holy apostles regarded slaveholding
as a sin, George Thompson, in a clear, sonorous, but rebuking
voice, broke the deep stillness of the audience, exclaiming,
HEAR! HEAR! HEAR! The effect of this simple and common
exclamation is almost incredible. It was as if a granite wall
had been suddenly flung up against the advancing current of a
mighty river. For a moment, speaker and audience were brought to
a dead silence. Both the doctor and his hearers seemed appalled
by the audacity, as well as the fitness of the rebuke. At length
a shout went up to the cry of "_Put him out_!" Happily, no one
attempted to execute this cowardly order, and the doctor
proceeded with his discourse. Not, however, as before, did the
<299 COLLISION WITH DR. COX>learned doctor proceed. The
exclamation of Thompson must have reechoed itself a thousand
times in his memory, during the remainder of his speech, for the
doctor never recovered from the blow.

The deed was done, however; the pillars of the church--_the
proud, Free Church of Scotland_--were committed and the humility
of repentance was absent. The Free Church held on to the blood-
stained money, and continued to justify itself in its position--
and of course to apologize for slavery--and does so till this
day. She lost a glorious opportunity for giving her voice, her
vote, and her example to the cause of humanity; and to-day she is
staggering under the curse of the enslaved, whose blood is in her
skirts. The people of Scotland are, to this day, deeply grieved
at the course pursued by the Free Church, and would hail, as a
relief from a deep and blighting shame, the "sending back the
money" to the slaveholders from whom it was gathered.

One good result followed the conduct of the Free Church; it
furnished an occasion for making the people of Scotland
thoroughly acquainted with the character of slavery, and for
arraying against the system the moral and religious sentiment of
that country. Therefore, while we did not succeed in
accomplishing the specific object of our mission, namely--procure
the sending back of the money--we were amply justified by the
good which really did result from our labors.

Next comes the Evangelical Alliance. This was an attempt to form
a union of all evangelical Christians throughout the world.
Sixty or seventy American divines attended, and some of them went
there merely to weave a world-wide garment with which to clothe
evangelical slaveholders. Foremost among these divines, was the
Rev. Samuel Hanson Cox, moderator of the New School Presbyterian
General Assembly. He and his friends spared no pains to secure a
platform broad enough to hold American slaveholders, and in this
partly succeeded. But the question of slavery is too large a
question to be finally disposed of, even by the <300>Evangelical
Alliance. We appealed from the judgment of the Alliance, to the
judgment of the people of Great Britain, and with the happiest
effect. This controversy with the Alliance might be made the
subject of extended remark, but I must forbear, except to say,
that this effort to shield the Christian character of
slaveholders greatly served to open a way to the British ear for
anti-slavery discussion, and that it was well improved.

The fourth and last circumstance that assisted me in getting
before the British public, was an attempt on the part of certain
doctors of divinity to silence me on the platform of the World's
Temperance Convention. Here I was brought into point blank
collison with Rev. Dr. Cox, who made me the subject not only of
bitter remark in the convention, but also of a long denunciatory
letter published in the New York Evangelist and other American
papers. I replied to the doctor as well as I could, and was
successful in getting a respectful hearing before the British
public, who are by nature and practice ardent lovers of fair
play, especially in a conflict between the weak and the strong.

Thus did circumstances favor me, and favor the cause of which I
strove to be the advocate. After such distinguished notice, the
public in both countries was compelled to attach some importance
to my labors. By the very ill usage I received at the hands of
Dr. Cox and his party, by the mob on board the "Cambria," by the
attacks made upon me in the American newspapers, and by the
aspersions cast upon me through the organs of the Free Church of
Scotland, I became one of that class of men, who, for the moment,
at least, "have greatness forced upon them." People became the
more anxious to hear for themselves, and to judge for themselves,
of the truth which I had to unfold. While, therefore, it is by
no means easy for a stranger to get fairly before the British
public, it was my lot to accomplish it in the easiest manner

Having continued in Great Britain and Ireland nearly two years,
and being about to return to America--not as I left it, a <301
leading friends of the cause of emancipation in that country
intimated their intention to make me a testimonial, not only on
grounds of personal regard to myself, but also to the cause to
which they were so ardently devoted. How far any such thing
could have succeeded, I do not know; but many reasons led me to
prefer that my friends should simply give me the means of
obtaining a printing press and printing materials, to enable me
to start a paper, devoted to the interests of my enslaved and
oppressed people. I told them that perhaps the greatest
hinderance to the adoption of abolition principles by the people
of the United States, was the low estimate, everywhere in that
country, placed upon the Negro, as a man; that because of his
assumed natural inferiority, people reconciled themselves to his
enslavement and oppression, as things inevitable, if not
desirable. The grand thing to be done, therefore, was to change
the estimation in which the colored people of the United States
were held; to remove the prejudice which depreciated and
depressed them; to prove them worthy of a higher consideration;
to disprove their alleged inferiority, and demonstrate their
capacity for a more exalted civilization than slavery and
prejudice had assigned to them. I further stated, that, in my
judgment, a tolerably well conducted press, in the hands of
persons of the despised race, by calling out the mental energies
of the race itself; by making them acquainted with their own
latent powers; by enkindling among them the hope that for them
there is a future; by developing their moral power; by combining
and reflecting their talents--would prove a most powerful means
of removing prejudice, and of awakening an interest in them. I
further informed them--and at that time the statement was true--
that there was not, in the United States, a single newspaper
regularly published by the colored people; that many attempts had
been made to establish such papers; but that, up to that time,
they had all failed. These views I laid before my friends. The
result was, nearly two thousand five hundred dollars were
speed<302>ily raised toward starting my paper. For this prompt
and generous assistance, rendered upon my bare suggestion,
without any personal efforts on my part, I shall never cease to
feel deeply grateful; and the thought of fulfilling the noble
expectations of the dear friends who gave me this evidence of
their confidence, will never cease to be a motive for persevering

Proposing to leave England, and turning my face toward America,
in the spring of 1847, I was met, on the threshold, with
something which painfully reminded me of the kind of life which
awaited me in my native land. For the first time in the many
months spent abroad, I was met with proscription on account of my
color. A few weeks before departing from England, while in
London, I was careful to purchase a ticket, and secure a berth
for returning home, in the "Cambria"--the steamer in which I left
the United States--paying therefor the round sum of forty pounds
and nineteen shillings sterling. This was first cabin fare. But
on going aboard the Cambria, I found that the Liverpool agent had
ordered my berth to be given to another, and had forbidden my
entering the saloon! This contemptible conduct met with stern
rebuke from the British press. For, upon the point of leaving
England, I took occasion to expose the disgusting tyranny, in the
columns of the London _Times_. That journal, and other leading
journals throughout the United Kingdom, held up the outrage to
unmitigated condemnation. So good an opportunity for calling out
a full expression of British sentiment on the subject, had not
before occurred, and it was most fully embraced. The result was,
that Mr. Cunard came out in a letter to the public journals,
assuring them of his regret at the outrage, and promising that
the like should never occur again on board his steamers; and the
like, we believe, has never since occurred on board the
steamships of the Cunard line.

It is not very pleasant to be made the subject of such insults;
but if all such necessarily resulted as this one did, I should be
very happy to bear, patiently, many more than I have borne, of
<303 THE STING OF INSULT>the same sort. Albeit, the lash of
proscription, to a man accustomed to equal social position, even
for a time, as I was, has a sting for the soul hardly less severe
than that which bites the flesh and draws the blood from the back
of the plantation slave. It was rather hard, after having
enjoyed nearly two years of equal social privileges in England,
often dining with gentlemen of great literary, social, political,
and religious eminence never, during the whole time, having met
with a single word, look, or gesture, which gave me the slightest
reason to think my color was an offense to anybody--now to be
cooped up in the stern of the "Cambria," and denied the right to
enter the saloon, lest my dark presence should be deemed an
offense to some of my democratic fellow-passengers. The reader
will easily imagine what must have been my feelings.



_Various Incidents_



I have now given the reader an imperfect sketch of nine years'
experience in freedom--three years as a common laborer on the
wharves of New Bedford, four years as a lecturer in New England,
and two years of semi-exile in Great Britain and Ireland. A
single ray of light remains to be flung upon my life during the
last eight years, and my story will be done.

A trial awaited me on my return from England to the United
States, for which I was but very imperfectly prepared. My plans
for my then future usefulness as an anti-slavery advocate were
all settled. My friends in England had resolved to raise a given
sum to purchase for me a press and printing materials; and I
already saw myself wielding my pen, as well as my voice, in the
great work of renovating the public mind, and building up a
public sentiment which should, at least, send slavery and
oppression to the grave, and restore to "liberty and the pursuit
of happiness" the people with whom I had suffered, both as a <305
Intimation had reached my friends in Boston of what I intended to
do, before my arrival, and I was prepared to find them favorably
disposed toward my much cherished enterprise. In this I was
mistaken. I found them very earnestly opposed to the idea of my
starting a paper, and for several reasons. First, the paper was
not needed; secondly, it would interfere with my usefulness as a
lecturer; thirdly, I was better fitted to speak than to write;
fourthly, the paper could not succeed. This opposition, from a
quarter so highly esteemed, and to which I had been accustomed to
look for advice and direction, caused me not only to hesitate,
but inclined me to abandon the enterprise. All previous attempts
to establish such a journal having failed, I felt that probably I
should but add another to the list of failures, and thus
contribute another proof of the mental and moral deficiencies of
my race. Very much that was said to me in respect to my
imperfect literary acquirements, I felt to be most painfully
true. The unsuccessful projectors of all the previous colored
newspapers were my superiors in point of education, and if they
failed, how could I hope for success? Yet I did hope for
success, and persisted in the undertaking. Some of my English
friends greatly encouraged me to go forward, and I shall never
cease to be grateful for their words of cheer and generous deeds.

I can easily pardon those who have denounced me as ambitious and
presumptuous, in view of my persistence in this enterprise. I
was but nine years from slavery. In point of mental experience,
I was but nine years old. That one, in such circumstances,
should aspire to establish a printing press, among an educated
people, might well be considered, if not ambitious, quite silly.
My American friends looked at me with astonishment! "A wood-
sawyer" offering himself to the public as an editor! A slave,
brought up in the very depths of ignorance, assuming to instruct
the highly civilized people of the north in the principles of
liberty, justice, and humanity! The thing looked absurd.
Nevertheless, I per<306>severed. I felt that the want of
education, great as it was, could be overcome by study, and that
knowledge would come by experience; and further (which was
perhaps the most controlling consideration). I thought that an
intelligent public, knowing my early history, would easily pardon
a large share of the deficiencies which I was sure that my paper
would exhibit. The most distressing thing, however, was the
offense which I was about to give my Boston friends, by what
seemed to them a reckless disregard of their sage advice. I am
not sure that I was not under the influence of something like a
slavish adoration of my Boston friends, and I labored hard to
convince them of the wisdom of my undertaking, but without
success. Indeed, I never expect to succeed, although time has
answered all their original objections. The paper has been
successful. It is a large sheet, costing eighty dollars per
week--has three thousand subscribers--has been published
regularly nearly eight years--and bids fair to stand eight years
longer. At any rate, the eight years to come are as full of
promise as were the eight that are past.

It is not to be concealed, however, that the maintenance of such
a journal, under the circumstances, has been a work of much
difficulty; and could all the perplexity, anxiety, and trouble
attending it, have been clearly foreseen, I might have shrunk
from the undertaking. As it is, I rejoice in having engaged in
the enterprise, and count it joy to have been able to suffer, in
many ways, for its success, and for the success of the cause to
which it has been faithfully devoted. I look upon the time,
money, and labor bestowed upon it, as being amply rewarded, in
the development of my own mental and moral energies, and in the
corresponding development of my deeply injured and oppressed

From motives of peace, instead of issuing my paper in Boston,
among my New England friends, I came to Rochester, western New
York, among strangers, where the circulation of my paper could
not interfere with the local circulation of the _Liberator_ and
the _Standard;_ for at that time I was, on the anti-slavery
question, <307 CHANGE OF VIEWS>a faithful disciple of William
Lloyd Garrison, and fully committed to his doctrine touching the
pro-slavery character of the constitution of the United States,
and the _non-voting principle_, of which he is the known and
distinguished advocate. With Mr. Garrison, I held it to be the
first duty of the non-slaveholding states to dissolve the union
with the slaveholding states; and hence my cry, like his, was,
"No union with slaveholders." With these views, I came into
western New York; and during the first four years of my labor
here, I advocated them with pen and tongue, according to the best
of my ability.

About four years ago, upon a reconsideration of the whole
subject, I became convinced that there was no necessity for
dissolving the "union between the northern and southern states;"
that to seek this dissolution was no part of my duty as an
abolitionist; that to abstain from voting, was to refuse to
exercise a legitimate and powerful means for abolishing slavery;
and that the constitution of the United States not only contained
no guarantees in favor of slavery, but, on the contrary, it is,
in its letter and spirit, an anti-slavery instrument, demanding
the abolition of slavery as a condition of its own existence, as
the supreme law of the land.

Here was a radical change in my opinions, and in the action
logically resulting from that change. To those with whom I had
been in agreement and in sympathy, I was now in opposition. What
they held to be a great and important truth, I now looked upon as
a dangerous error. A very painful, and yet a very natural, thing
now happened. Those who could not see any honest reasons for
changing their views, as I had done, could not easily see any
such reasons for my change, and the common punishment of
apostates was mine.

The opinions first entertained were naturally derived and
honestly entertained, and I trust that my present opinions have
the same claims to respect. Brought directly, when I escaped
from slavery, into contact with a class of abolitionists
regarding the <308>constitution as a slaveholding instrument, and
finding their views supported by the united and entire history of
every department of the government, it is not strange that I
assumed the constitution to be just what their interpretation
made it. I was bound, not only by their superior knowledge, to
take their opinions as the true ones, in respect to the subject,
but also because I had no means of showing their unsoundness.
But for the responsibility of conducting a public journal, and
the necessity imposed upon me of meeting opposite views from
abolitionists in this state, I should in all probability have
remained as firm in my disunion views as any other disciple of
William Lloyd Garrison.

My new circumstances compelled me to re-think the whole subject,
and to study, with some care, not only the just and proper rules
of legal interpretation, but the origin, design, nature, rights,
powers, and duties of civil government, and also the relations
which human beings sustain to it. By such a course of thought
and reading, I was conducted to the conclusion that the
constitution of the United States--inaugurated "to form a more
perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity,
provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and
secure the blessing of liberty"--could not well have been
designed at the same time to maintain and perpetuate a system of
rapine and murder, like slavery; especially, as not one word can
be found in the constitution to authorize such a belief. Then,
again, if the declared purposes of an instrument are to govern
the meaning of all its parts and details, as they clearly should,
the constitution of our country is our warrant for the abolition
of slavery in every state in the American Union. I mean,
however, not to argue, but simply to state my views. It would
require very many pages of a volume like this, to set forth the
arguments demonstrating the unconstitutionality and the complete
illegality of slavery in our land; and as my experience, and not
my arguments, is within the scope and contemplation of this
volume, I omit the latter and proceed with the former.

I will now ask the kind reader to go back a little in my story,
while I bring up a thread left behind for convenience sake, but
which, small as it is, cannot be properly omitted altogether; and
that thread is American prejudice against color, and its varied
illustrations in my own experience.

When I first went among the abolitionists of New England, and
began to travel, I found this prejudice very strong and very
annoying. The abolitionists themselves were not entirely free
from it, and I could see that they were nobly struggling against
it. In their eagerness, sometimes, to show their contempt for
the feeling, they proved that they had not entirely recovered
from it; often illustrating the saying, in their conduct, that a
man may "stand up so straight as to lean backward." When it was
said to me, "Mr. Douglass, I will walk to meeting with you; I am
not afraid of a black man," I could not help thinking--seeing
nothing very frightful in my appearance--"And why should you be?"
The children at the north had all been educated to believe that
if they were bad, the old _black_ man--not the old _devil_--would
get them; and it was evidence of some courage, for any so
educated to get the better of their fears.

The custom of providing separate cars for the accommodation of
colored travelers, was established on nearly all the railroads of
New England, a dozen years ago. Regarding this custom as
fostering the spirit of caste, I made it a rule to seat myself in
the cars for the accommodation of passengers generally. Thus
seated, I was sure to be called upon to betake myself to the
"_Jim Crow car_." Refusing to obey, I was often dragged out of
my seat, beaten, and severely bruised, by conductors and
brakemen. Attempting to start from Lynn, one day, for
Newburyport, on the Eastern railroad, I went, as my custom was,
into one of the best railroad carriages on the road. The seats
were very luxuriant and beautiful. I was soon waited upon by the
conductor, and ordered out; whereupon I demanded the reason for
my invidious removal. After a good deal of parleying, I was told
that it was because I <310>was black. This I denied, and
appealed to the company to sustain my denial; but they were
evidently unwilling to commit themselves, on a point so delicate,
and requiring such nice powers of discrimination, for they
remained as dumb as death. I was soon waited on by half a dozen
fellows of the baser sort (just such as would volunteer to take a
bull-dog out of a meeting-house in time of public worship), and
told that I must move out of that seat, and if I did not, they
would drag me out. I refused to move, and they clutched me,
head, neck, and shoulders. But, in anticipation of the
stretching to which I was about to be subjected, I had interwoven
myself among the seats. In dragging me out, on this occasion, it
must have cost the company twenty-five or thirty dollars, for I
tore up seats and all. So great was the excitement in Lynn, on
the subject, that the superintendent, Mr. Stephen A. Chase,
ordered the trains to run through Lynn without stopping, while I
remained in that town; and this ridiculous farce was enacted.
For several days the trains went dashing through Lynn without
stopping. At the same time that they excluded a free colored man
from their cars, this same company allowed slaves, in company
with their masters and mistresses, to ride unmolested.

After many battles with the railroad conductors, and being
roughly handled in not a few instances, proscription was at last
abandoned; and the "Jim Crow car"--set up for the degradation of
colored people--is nowhere found in New England. This result was
not brought about without the intervention of the people, and the
threatened enactment of a law compelling railroad companies to
respect the rights of travelers. Hon. Charles Francis Adams
performed signal service in the Massachusetts legislature, in
bringing this reformation; and to him the colored citizens of
that state are deeply indebted.

Although often annoyed, and sometimes outraged, by this prejudice
against color, I am indebted to it for many passages of quiet
amusement. A half-cured subject of it is sometimes driven into
awkward straits, especially if he happens to get a genuine
specimen of the race into his house.

In the summer of 1843, I was traveling and lecturing, in company
with William A. White, Esq., through the state of Indiana. Anti-
slavery friends were not very abundant in Indiana, at that time,
and beds were not more plentiful than friends. We often slept
out, in preference to sleeping in the houses, at some points. At
the close of one of our meetings, we were invited home with a
kindly-disposed old farmer, who, in the generous enthusiasm of
the moment, seemed to have forgotten that he had but one spare
bed, and that his guests were an ill-matched pair. All went on
pretty well, till near bed time, when signs of uneasiness began
to show themselves, among the unsophisticated sons and daughters.
White is remarkably fine looking, and very evidently a born
gentleman; the idea of putting us in the same bed was hardly to
be tolerated; and yet, there we were, and but the one bed for us,
and that, by the way, was in the same room occupied by the other
members of the family. White, as well as I, perceived the
difficulty, for yonder slept the old folks, there the sons, and a
little farther along slept the daughters; and but one other bed
remained. Who should have this bed, was the puzzling question.
There was some whispering between the old folks, some confused
looks among the young, as the time for going to bed approached.
After witnessing the confusion as long as I liked, I relieved the
kindly-disposed family by playfully saying, "Friend White, having
got entirely rid of my prejudice against color, I think, as a
proof of it, I must allow you to sleep with me to-night." White
kept up the joke, by seeming to esteem himself the favored party,
and thus the difficulty was removed. If we went to a hotel, and
called for dinner, the landlord was sure to set one table for
White and another for me, always taking him to be master, and me
the servant. Large eyes were generally made when the order was
given to remove the dishes from my table to that of White's. In
those days, it was thought strange that a white man and a colored
man could dine peaceably at the same table, and in some parts the
strangeness of such a sight has not entirely subsided.

Some people will have it that there is a natural, an inherent,
and <312>an invincible repugnance in the breast of the white race
toward dark-colored people; and some very intelligent colored men
think that their proscription is owing solely to the color which
nature has given them. They hold that they are rated according
to their color, and that it is impossible for white people ever
to look upon dark races of men, or men belonging to the African
race, with other than feelings of aversion. My experience, both
serious and mirthful, combats this conclusion. Leaving out of
sight, for a moment, grave facts, to this point, I will state one
or two, which illustrate a very interesting feature of American
character as well as American prejudice. Riding from Boston to
Albany, a few years ago, I found myself in a large car, well
filled with passengers. The seat next to me was about the only
vacant one. At every stopping place we took in new passengers,
all of whom, on reaching the seat next to me, cast a disdainful
glance upon it, and passed to another car, leaving me in the full
enjoyment of a hole form. For a time, I did not know but that my
riding there was prejudicial to the interest of the railroad
company. A circumstance occurred, however, which gave me an
elevated position at once. Among the passengers on this train
was Gov. George N. Briggs. I was not acquainted with him, and
had no idea that I was known to him, however, I was, for upon
observing me, the governor left his place, and making his way
toward me, respectfully asked the privilege of a seat by my side;
and upon introducing himself, we entered into a conversation very
pleasant and instructive to me. The despised seat now became
honored. His excellency had removed all the prejudice against
sitting by the side of a Negro; and upon his leaving it, as he
did, on reaching Pittsfield, there were at least one dozen
applicants for the place. The governor had, without changing my
skin a single shade, made the place respectable which before was

A similar incident happened to me once on the Boston and New
Bedford railroad, and the leading party to it has since been
governor of the state of Massachusetts. I allude to Col. John
Henry <313 AN INCIDENT>Clifford. Lest the reader may fancy I am
aiming to elevate myself, by claiming too much intimacy with
great men, I must state that my only acquaintance with Col.
Clifford was formed while I was _his hired servant_, during the
first winter of my escape from slavery. I owe it him to say,
that in that relation I found him always kind and gentlemanly.
But to the incident. I entered a car at Boston, for New Bedford,
which, with the exception of a single seat was full, and found I
must occupy this, or stand up, during the journey. Having no
mind to do this, I stepped up to the man having the next seat,
and who had a few parcels on the seat, and gently asked leave to
take a seat by his side. My fellow-passenger gave me a look made
up of reproach and indignation, and asked me why I should come to
that particular seat. I assured him, in the gentlest manner,
that of all others this was the seat for me. Finding that I was
actually about to sit down, he sang out, "O! stop, stop! and let
me get out!" Suiting the action to the word, up the agitated man
got, and sauntered to the other end of the car, and was compelled
to stand for most of the way thereafter. Halfway to New Bedford,
or more, Col. Clifford, recognizing me, left his seat, and not
having seen me before since I had ceased to wait on him (in
everything except hard arguments against his pro-slavery
position), apparently forgetful of his rank, manifested, in
greeting me, something of the feeling of an old friend. This
demonstration was not lost on the gentleman whose dignity I had,
an hour before, most seriously offended. Col. Clifford was known
to be about the most aristocratic gentleman in Bristol county;
and it was evidently thought that I must be somebody, else I
should not have been thus noticed, by a person so distinguished.
Sure enough, after Col. Clifford left me, I found myself
surrounded with friends; and among the number, my offended friend
stood nearest, and with an apology for his rudeness, which I
could not resist, although it was one of the lamest ever offered.
With such facts as these before me--and I have many of them--I am
inclined to think that pride and fashion have much to do with
<314>the treatment commonly extended to colored people in the
United States. I once heard a very plain man say (and he was
cross-eyed, and awkwardly flung together in other respects) that
he should be a handsome man when public opinion shall be changed.

Since I have been editing and publishing a journal devoted to the
cause of liberty and progress, I have had my mind more directed
to the condition and circumstances of the free colored people
than when I was the agent of an abolition society. The result
has been a corresponding change in the disposition of my time and
labors. I have felt it to be a part of my mission--under a
gracious Providence to impress my sable brothers in this country
with the conviction that, notwithstanding the ten thousand
discouragements and the powerful hinderances, which beset their
existence in this country--notwithstanding the blood-written
history of Africa, and her children, from whom we have descended,
or the clouds and darkness (whose stillness and gloom are made
only more awful by wrathful thunder and lightning) now
overshadowing them--progress is yet possible, and bright skies
shall yet shine upon their pathway; and that "Ethiopia shall yet
reach forth her hand unto God."

Believing that one of the best means of emancipating the slaves
of the south is to improve and elevate the character of the free
colored people of the north I shall labor in the future, as I
have labored in the past, to promote the moral, social,
religious, and intellectual elevation of the free colored people;
never forgetting my own humble orgin{sic}, nor refusing, while
Heaven lends me ability, to use my voice, my pen, or my vote, to
advocate the great and primary work of the universal and
unconditional emancipation of my entire race.


_Containing Extracts from
Speeches, etc._


_At Finsbury Chapel, Moorfields, England, May 12, 1846_


Mr. Douglass rose amid loud cheers, and said: I feel exceedingly
glad of the opportunity now afforded me of presenting the claims
of my brethren in bonds in the United States, to so many in
London and from various parts of Britain, who have assembled here
on the present occasion. I have nothing to commend me to your
consideration in the way of learning, nothing in the way of
education, to entitle me to your attention; and you are aware
that slavery is a very bad school for rearing teachers of
morality and religion. Twenty-one years of my life have been
spent in slavery--personal slavery--surrounded by degrading
influences, such as can exist nowhere beyond the pale of slavery;
and it will not be strange, if under such circumstances, I should
betray, in what I have to say to you, a deficiency of that
refinement which is seldom or ever found, except among persons
that have experienced superior advantages to those which I have
enjoyed. But I will take it for granted that you know something
about the degrading influences of slavery, and that you will not
expect great things from me this evening, but simply such facts
as I may be able to advance immediately in connection with my own
experience of slavery.

Now, what is this system of slavery? This is the subject of my
lecture this evening--what is the character of this institution?
I am about to answer the inquiry, what is American slavery? I do
this the more readily, since I have found persons in this country
who have identified the term slavery with that which I think it
is not, and in some instances, I have feared, in so doing, have
rather (unwittingly, I know) detracted much from the horror with
which the term slavery is contemplated. It is com-


[10] Mr. Douglass' published speeches alone, would fill two
volumes of the size of this. Our space will only permit the
insertion of the extracts which follow; and which, for
originality of thought, beauty and force of expression, and for
impassioned, indignatory eloquence, have seldom been equaled.


<318>mon in this country to distinguish every bad thing by the
name of slavery. Intemperance is slavery; to be deprived of the
right to vote is slavery, says one; to have to work hard is
slavery, says another; and I do not know but that if we should
let them go on, they would say that to eat when we are hungry, to
walk when we desire to have exercise, or to minister to our
necessities, or have necessities at all, is slavery. I do not
wish for a moment to detract from the horror with which the evil
of intemperance is contemplated--not at all; nor do I wish to
throw the slightest obstruction in the way of any political
freedom that any class of persons in this country may desire to
obtain. But I am here to say that I think the term slavery is
sometimes abused by identifying it with that which it is not.
Slavery in the United States is the granting of that power by
which one man exercises and enforces a right of property in the
body and soul of another. The condition of a slave is simply
that of the brute beast. He is a piece of property--a marketable
commodity, in the language of the law, to be bought or sold at
the will and caprice of the master who claims him to be his
property; he is spoken of, thought of, and treated as property.
His own good, his conscience, his intellect, his affections, are
all set aside by the master. The will and the wishes of the
master are the law of the slave. He is as much a piece of
property as a horse. If he is fed, he is fed because he is
property. If he is clothed, it is with a view to the increase of
his value as property. Whatever of comfort is necessary to him
for his body or soul that is inconsistent with his being
property, is carefully wrested from him, not only by public
opinion, but by the law of the country. He is carefully deprived
of everything that tends in the slightest degree to detract from
his value as property. He is deprived of education. God has
given him an intellect; the slaveholder declares it shall not be
cultivated. If his moral perception leads him in a course
contrary to his value as property, the slaveholder declares he
shall not exercise it. The marriage institution cannot exist
among slaves, and one-sixth of the population of democratic
America is denied its privileges by the law of the land. What is
to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of
its humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love
of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders
three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage?--
what must be the condition of that people? I need not lift up
the veil by giving you any experience of my own. Every one that
can put two ideas together, must see the most fearful results
from such a state of things as I have just mentioned. If any of
these three millions find for themselves companions, and prove
themselves honest, upright, virtuous persons to each other, yet
in these <319>cases--few as I am bound to confess they are--the
virtuous live in constant apprehension of being torn asunder by
the merciless men-stealers that claim them as their property.
This is American slavery; no marriage--no education--the light of
the gospel shut out from the dark mind of the bondman--and he
forbidden by law to learn to read. If a mother shall teach her
children to read, the law in Louisiana proclaims that she may be
hanged by the neck. If the father attempt to give his son a
knowledge of letters, he may be punished by the whip in one
instance, and in another be killed, at the discretion of the
court. Three millions of people shut out from the light of
knowledge! It is easy for you to conceive the evil that must
result from such a state of things.

I now come to the physical evils of slavery. I do not wish to
dwell at length upon these, but it seems right to speak of them,
not so much to influence your minds on this question, as to let
the slaveholders of America know that the curtain which conceals
their crimes is being lifted abroad; that we are opening the dark
cell, and leading the people into the horrible recesses of what
they are pleased to call their domestic institution. We want
them to know that a knowledge of their whippings, their
scourgings, their brandings, their chainings, is not confined to
their plantations, but that some Negro of theirs has broken loose
from his chains--has burst through the dark incrustation of
slavery, and is now exposing their deeds of deep damnation to the
gaze of the christian people of England.

The slaveholders resort to all kinds of cruelty. If I were
disposed, I have matter enough to interest you on this question
for five or six evenings, but I will not dwell at length upon
these cruelties. Suffice it to say, that all of the peculiar
modes of torture that were resorted to in the West India islands,
are resorted to, I believe, even more frequently, in the United
States of America. Starvation, the bloody whip, the chain, the
gag, the thumb-screw, cat-hauling, the cat-o'-nine-tails, the
dungeon, the blood-hound, are all in requisition to keep the
slave in his condition as a slave in the United States. If any
one has a doubt upon this point, I would ask him to read the
chapter on slavery in Dickens's _Notes on America_. If any man
has a doubt upon it, I have here the "testimony of a thousand
witnesses," which I can give at any length, all going to prove
the truth of my statement. The blood-hound is regularly trained
in the United States, and advertisements are to be found in the
southern papers of the Union, from persons advertising themselves
as blood-hound trainers, and offering to hunt down slaves at
fifteen dollars a piece, recommending their hounds as the
fleetest in the neighborhood, never known to fail.
Adver<320>tisements are from time to time inserted, stating that
slaves have escaped with iron collars about their necks, with
bands of iron about their feet, marked with the lash, branded
with red-hot irons, the initials of their master's name burned
into their flesh; and the masters advertise the fact of their
being thus branded with their own signature, thereby proving to
the world, that, however damning it may appear to non-slavers,
such practices are not regarded discreditable among the
slaveholders themselves. Why, I believe if a man should brand
his horse in this country--burn the initials of his name into any
of his cattle, and publish the ferocious deed here--that the
united execrations of Christians in Britain would descend upon
him. Yet in the United States, human beings are thus branded.
As Whittier says--
. . . _Our countrymen in chains,
The whip on woman's shrinking flesh,
Our soil yet reddening with the stains
Caught from her scourgings warm and fresh_.


The slave-dealer boldly publishes his infamous acts to the world.
Of all things that have been said of slavery to which exception
has been taken by slaveholders, this, the charge of cruelty,
stands foremost, and yet there is no charge capable of clearer
demonstration, than that of the most barbarous inhumanity on the
part of the slaveholders toward their slaves. And all this is
necessary; it is necessary to resort to these cruelties, in order
to _make the slave a slave_, and to _keep him a slave_. Why, my
experience all goes to prove the truth of what you will call a
marvelous proposition, that the better you treat a slave, the
more you destroy his value _as a slave_, and enhance the
probability of his eluding the grasp of the slaveholder; the more
kindly you treat him, the more wretched you make him, while you
keep him in the condition of a slave. My experience, I say,
confirms the truth of this proposition. When I was treated
exceedingly ill; when my back was being scourged daily; when I
was whipped within an inch of my life--_life_ was all I cared
for. "Spare my life," was my continual prayer. When I was
looking for the blow about to be inflicted upon my head, I was
not thinking of my liberty; it was my life. But, as soon as the
blow was not to be feared, then came the longing for liberty. If
a slave has a bad master, his ambition is to get a better; when
he gets a better, he aspires to have the best; and when he gets
the best, he aspires to be his own master. But the slave must be
brutalized to keep him as a slave. The slaveholder feels this
necessity. I admit this necessity. If it be right to hold
slaves at all, it is right to hold <321>them in the only way in
which they can be held; and this can be done only by shutting out
the light of education from their minds, and brutalizing their
persons. The whip, the chain, the gag, the thumb-screw, the
blood-hound, the stocks, and all the other bloody paraphernalia
of the slave system, are indispensably necessary to the relation
of master and slave. The slave must be subjected to these, or he
ceases to be a slave. Let him know that the whip is burned; that
the fetters have been turned to some useful and profitable
employment; that the chain is no longer for his limbs; that the
blood-hound is no longer to be put upon his track; that his
master's authority over him is no longer to be enforced by taking
his life--and immediately he walks out from the house of bondage
and asserts his freedom as a man. The slaveholder finds it
necessary to have these implements to keep the slave in bondage;
finds it necessary to be able to say, "Unless you do so and so;
unless you do as I bid you--I will take away your life!"

Some of the most awful scenes of cruelty are constantly taking
place in the middle states of the Union. We have in those states
what are called the slave-breeding states. Allow me to speak
plainly. Although it is harrowing to your feelings, it is
necessary that the facts of the case should be stated. We have
in the United States slave-breeding states. The very state from
which the minister from our court to yours comes, is one of these
states--Maryland, where men, women, and children are reared for
the market, just as horses, sheep, and swine are raised for the
market. Slave-rearing is there looked upon as a legitimate
trade; the law sanctions it, public opinion upholds it, the
church does not condemn it. It goes on in all its bloody
horrors, sustained by the auctioneer's block. If you would see
the cruelties of this system, hear the following narrative. Not
long since the following scene occurred. A slave-woman and a
slaveman had united themselves as man and wife in the absence of
any law to protect them as man and wife. They had lived together
by the permission, not by right, of their master, and they had
reared a family. The master found it expedient, and for his
interest, to sell them. He did not ask them their wishes in
regard to the matter at all; they were not consulted. The man
and woman were brought to the auctioneer's block, under the sound
of the hammer. The cry was raised, "Here goes; who bids cash?"
Think of it--a man and wife to be sold! The woman was placed on
the auctioneer's block; her limbs, as is customary, were brutally
exposed to the purchasers, who examined her with all the freedom
with which they would examine a horse. There stood the husband,
powerless; no right to his wife; the master's right preeminent.
She was sold. He was next <322>brought to the auctioneer's
block. His eyes followed his wife in the distance; and he looked
beseechingly, imploringly, to the man that had bought his wife,
to buy him also. But he was at length bid off to another person.
He was about to be separated forever from her he loved. No word
of his, no work of his, could save him from this separation. He
asked permission of his new master to go and take the hand of his
wife at parting. It was denied him. In the agony of his soul he
rushed from the man who had just bought him, that he might take a
farewell of his wife; but his way was obstructed, he was struck
over the head with a loaded whip, and was held for a moment; but
his agony was too great. When he was let go, he fell a corpse at
the feet of his master. His heart was broken. Such scenes are
the everyday fruits of American slavery. Some two years since,
the Hon. Seth. M. Gates, an anti-slavery gentleman of the state
of New York, a representative in the congress of the United
States, told me he saw with his own eyes the following
circumstances. In the national District of Columbia, over which
the star-spangled emblem is constantly waving, where orators are
ever holding forth on the subject of American liberty, American
democracy, American republicanism, there are two slave prisons.
When going across a bridge, leading to one of these prisons, he
saw a young woman run out, bare-footed and bare-headed, and with
very little clothing on. She was running with all speed to the
bridge he was approaching. His eye was fixed upon her, and he
stopped to see what was the matter. He had not paused long
before he saw three men run out after her. He now knew what the
nature of the case was; a slave escaping from her chains--a young
woman, a sister--escaping from the bondage in which she had been
held. She made her way to the bridge, but had not reached, ere
from the Virginia side there came two slaveholders. As soon as
they saw them, her pursuers called out, "Stop her!" True to
their Virginian instincts, they came to the rescue of their
brother kidnappers, across the bridge. The poor girl now saw
that there was no chance for her. It was a trying time. She
knew if she went back, she must be a slave forever--she must be
dragged down to the scenes of pollution which the slaveholders
continually provide for most of the poor, sinking, wretched young
women, whom they call their property. She formed her resolution;
and just as those who were about to take her, were going to put
hands upon her, to drag her back, she leaped over the balustrades
of the bridge, and down she went to rise no more. She chose
death, rather than to go back into the hands of those christian
slaveholders from whom she had escaped.

Can it be possible that such things as these exist in the United
States? <323>Are not these the exceptions? Are any such scenes
as this general? Are not such deeds condemned by the law and
denounced by public opinion? Let me read to you a few of the
laws of the slaveholding states of America. I think no better
exposure of slavery can be made than is made by the laws of the
states in which slavery exists. I prefer reading the laws to
making any statement in confirmation of what I have said myself;
for the slaveholders cannot object to this testimony, since it is
the calm, the cool, the deliberate enactment of their wisest
heads, of their most clear-sighted, their own constituted
representatives. "If more than seven slaves together are found
in any road without a white person, twenty lashes a piece; for
visiting a plantation without a written pass, ten lashes; for
letting loose a boat from where it is made fast, thirty-nine
lashes for the first offense; and for the second, shall have cut
off from his head one ear; for keeping or carrying a club,
thirty-nine lashes; for having any article for sale, without a
ticket from his master, ten lashes; for traveling in any other
than the most usual and accustomed road, when going alone to any
place, forty lashes; for traveling in the night without a pass,
forty lashes." I am afraid you do not understand the awful
character of these lashes. You must bring it before your mind.
A human being in a perfect state of nudity, tied hand and foot to
a stake, and a strong man standing behind with a heavy whip,
knotted at the end, each blow cutting into the flesh, and leaving
the warm blood dripping to the feet; and for these trifles. "For
being found in another person's negro-quarters, forty lashes; for
hunting with dogs in the woods, thirty lashes; for being on
horseback without the written permission of his master, twenty-
five lashes; for riding or going abroad in the night, or riding
horses in the day time, without leave, a slave may be whipped,
cropped, or branded in the cheek with the letter R. or otherwise
punished, such punishment not extending to life, or so as to
render him unfit for labor." The laws referred to, may be found
by consulting _Brevard's Digest; Haywood's Manual; Virginia
Revised Code; Prince's Digest; Missouri Laws; Mississippi Revised
Code_. A man, for going to visit his brethren, without the
permission of his master--and in many instances he may not have
that permission; his master, from caprice or other reasons, may
not be willing to allow it--may be caught on his way, dragged to
a post, the branding-iron heated, and the name of his master or
the letter R branded into his cheek or on his forehead. They
treat slaves thus, on the principle that they must punish for
light offenses, in order to prevent the commission of larger
ones. I wish you to mark that in the single state of Virginia
there are seventy-one crimes for which a colored man may be
executed; while there are only three of <324>these crimes, which,
when committed by a white man, will subject him to that
punishment. There are many of these crimes which if the white
man did not commit, he would be regarded as a scoundrel and a
coward. In the state of Maryland, there is a law to this effect:
that if a slave shall strike his master, he may be hanged, his
head severed from his body, his body quartered, and his head and
quarters set up in the most prominent places in the neighborhood.
If a colored woman, in the defense of her own virtue, in defense
of her own person, should shield herself from the brutal attacks
of her tyrannical master, or make the slightest resistance, she
may be killed on the spot. No law whatever will bring the guilty
man to justice for the crime.

But you will ask me, can these things be possible in a land
professing Christianity? Yes, they are so; and this is not the
worst. No; a darker feature is yet to be presented than the mere
existence of these facts. I have to inform you that the religion
of the southern states, at this time, is the great supporter, the
great sanctioner of the bloody atrocities to which I have
referred. While America is printing tracts and bibles; sending
missionaries abroad to convert the heathen; expending her money
in various ways for the promotion of the gospel in foreign
lands--the slave not only lies forgotten, uncared for, but is
trampled under foot by the very churches of the land. What have
we in America? Why, we have slavery made part of the religion of
the land. Yes, the pulpit there stands up as the great defender
of this cursed _institution_, as it is called. Ministers of
religion come forward and torture the hallowed pages of inspired
wisdom to sanction the bloody deed. They stand forth as the
foremost, the strongest defenders of this "institution." As a
proof of this, I need not do more than state the general fact,
that slavery has existed under the droppings of the sanctuary of
the south for the last two hundred years, and there has not been
any war between the _religion_ and the _slavery_ of the south.
Whips, chains, gags, and thumb-screws have all lain under the
droppings of the sanctuary, and instead of rusting from off the
limbs of the bondman, those droppings have served to preserve
them in all their strength. Instead of preaching the gospel
against this tyranny, rebuke, and wrong, ministers of religion
have sought, by all and every means, to throw in the back-ground
whatever in the bible could be construed into opposition to
slavery, and to bring forward that which they could torture into
its support. This I conceive to be the darkest feature of
slavery, and the most difficult to attack, because it is
identified with religion, and exposes those who denounce it to
the charge of infidelity. Yes, those with whom I have been
laboring, namely, the old <325>organization anti-slavery society
of America, have been again and again stigmatized as infidels,
and for what reason? Why, solely in consequence of the
faithfulness of their attacks upon the slaveholding religion of
the southern states, and the northern religion that sympathizes
with it. I have found it difficult to speak on this matter
without persons coming forward and saying, "Douglass, are you not
afraid of injuring the cause of Christ? You do not desire to do
so, we know; but are you not undermining religion?" This has
been said to me again and again, even since I came to this
country, but I cannot be induced to leave off these exposures. I
love the religion of our blessed Savior. I love that religion
that comes from above, in the "wisdom of God, which is first
pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of
mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
I love that religion that sends its votaries to bind up the
wounds of him that has fallen among thieves. I love that
religion that makes it the duty of its disciples to visit the
father less and the widow in their affliction. I love that
religion that is based upon the glorious principle, of love to
God and love to man; which makes its followers do unto others as
they themselves would be done by. If you demand liberty to
yourself, it says, grant it to your neighbors. If you claim a
right to think for yourself, it says, allow your neighbors the
same right. If you claim to act for yourself, it says, allow
your neighbors the same right. It is because I love this
religion that I hate the slaveholding, the woman-whipping, the
mind-darkening, the soul-destroying religion that exists in the
southern states of America. It is because I regard the one as
good, and pure, and holy, that I cannot but regard the other as
bad, corrupt, and wicked. Loving the one I must hate the other;
holding to the one I must reject the other.

I may be asked, why I am so anxious to bring this subject before
the British public--why I do not confine my efforts to the United
States? My answer is, first, that slavery is the common enemy of
mankind, and all mankind should be made acquainted with its
abominable character. My next answer is, that the slave is a
man, and, as such, is entitled to your sympathy as a brother.
All the feelings, all the susceptibilities, all the capacities,
which you have, he has. He is a part of the human family. He
has been the prey--the common prey--of Christendom for the last
three hundred years, and it is but right, it is but just, it is
but proper, that his wrongs should be known throughout the world.
I have another reason for bringing this matter before the British
public, and it is this: slavery is a system of wrong, so blinding
to all around, so hardening to the heart, so corrupting to the
morals, so deleterious to religion, so <326>sapping to all the
principles of justice in its immediate vicinity, that the
community surrounding it lack the moral stamina necessary to its
removal. It is a system of such gigantic evil, so strong, so
overwhelming in its power, that no one nation is equal to its
removal. It requires the humanity of Christianity, the morality
of the world to remove it. Hence, I call upon the people of
Britain to look at this matter, and to exert the influence I am
about to show they possess, for the removal of slavery from
America. I can appeal to them, as strongly by their regard for
the slaveholder as for the slave, to labor in this cause. I am
here, because you have an influence on America that no other
nation can have. You have been drawn together by the power of
steam to a marvelous extent; the distance between London and
Boston is now reduced to some twelve or fourteen days, so that
the denunciations against slavery, uttered in London this week,
may be heard in a fortnight in the streets of Boston, and
reverberating amidst the hills of Massachusetts. There is
nothing said here against slavery that will not be recorded in
the United States. I am here, also, because the slaveholders do
not want me to be here; they would rather that I were not here.
I have adopted a maxim laid down by Napoleon, never to occupy
ground which the enemy would like me to occupy. The slaveholders
would much rather have me, if I will denounce slavery, denounce
it in the northern states, where their friends and supporters
are, who will stand by and mob me for denouncing it. They feel
something as the man felt, when he uttered his prayer, in which
he made out a most horrible case for himself, and one of his
neighbors touched him and said, "My friend, I always had the
opinion of you that you have now expressed for yourself--that you
are a very great sinner." Coming from himself, it was all very
well, but coming from a stranger it was rather cutting. The
slaveholders felt that when slavery was denounced among
themselves, it was not so bad; but let one of the slaves get
loose, let him summon the people of Britain, and make known to
them the conduct of the slaveholders toward their slaves, and it
cuts them to the quick, and produces a sensation such as would be
produced by nothing else. The power I exert now is something
like the power that is exerted by the man at the end of the
lever; my influence now is just in proportion to the distance
that I am from the United States. My exposure of slavery abroad
will tell more upon the hearts and consciences of slaveholders,
than if I was attacking them in America; for almost every paper
that I now receive from the United States, comes teeming with
statements about this fugitive Negro, calling him a "glib-tongued
scoundrel," and saying that he is running out against the
institutions and people of America. I deny the charge that I am
saying a word against the institutions of America, <327>or the
people, as such. What I have to say is against slavery and
slaveholders. I feel at liberty to speak on this subject. I
have on my back the marks of the lash; I have four sisters and
one brother now under the galling chain. I feel it my duty to
cry aloud and spare not. I am not averse to having the good
opinion of my fellow creatures. I am not averse to being kindly
regarded by all men; but I am bound, even at the hazard of making
a large class of religionists in this country hate me, oppose me,
and malign me as they have done--I am bound by the prayers, and
tears, and entreaties of three millions of kneeling bondsmen, to
have no compromise with men who are in any shape or form
connected with the slaveholders of America. I expose slavery in
this country, because to expose it is to kill it. Slavery is one
of those monsters of darkness to whom the light of truth is
death. Expose slavery, and it dies. Light is to slavery what
the heat of the sun is to the root of a tree; it must die under
it. All the slaveholder asks of me is silence. He does not ask
me to go abroad and preach _in favor_ of slavery; he does not ask
any one to do that. He would not say that slavery is a good
thing, but the best under the circumstances. The slaveholders
want total darkness on the subject. They want the hatchway shut
down, that the monster may crawl in his den of darkness, crushing
human hopes and happiness, destroying the bondman at will, and
having no one to reprove or rebuke him. Slavery shrinks from the
light; it hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest its
deeds should be reproved. To tear off the mask from this
abominable system, to expose it to the light of heaven, aye, to
the heat of the sun, that it may burn and wither it out of
existence, is my object in coming to this country. I want the
slaveholder surrounded, as by a wall of anti-slavery fire, so
that he may see the condemnation of himself and his system
glaring down in letters of light. I want him to feel that he has
no sympathy in England, Scotland, or Ireland; that he has none in
Canada, none in Mexico, none among the poor wild Indians; that
the voice of the civilized, aye, and savage world is against him.
I would have condemnation blaze down upon him in every direction,
till, stunned and overwhelmed with shame and confusion, he is
compelled to let go the grasp he holds upon the persons of his
victims, and restore them to their long-lost rights.


_Dr. Campbell's Reply_


From Rev. Dr. Campbell's brilliant reply we extract the
following: FREDERICK DOUGLASS, the beast of burden," the portion
of "goods and chattels," the representative of three millions of
men, has been raised <328>up! Shall I say the _man?_ If there
is a man on earth, he is a man. My blood boiled within me when I
heard his address tonight, and thought that he had left behind
him three millions of such men.

We must see more of this man; we must have more of this man. One
would have taken a voyage round the globe some forty years back--
especially since the introduction of steam--to have heard such an
exposure of slavery from the lips of a slave. It will be an era
in the individual history of the present assembly. Our
children--our boys and girls--I have tonight seen the delightful
sympathy of their hearts evinced by their heaving breasts, while
their eyes sparkled with wonder and admiration, that this black
man--this slave--had so much logic, so much wit, so much fancy,
so much eloquence. He was something more than a man, according
to their little notions. Then, I say, we must hear him again.
We have got a purpose to accomplish. He has appealed to the
pulpit of England. The English pulpit is with him. He has
appealed to the press of England; the press of England is
conducted by English hearts, and that press will do him justice.
About ten days hence, and his second master, who may well prize
"such a piece of goods," will have the pleasure of reading his
burning words, and his first master will bless himself that he
has got quit of him. We have to create public opinion, or
rather, not to create it, for it is created already; but we have
to foster it; and when tonight I heard those magnificent words--
the words of Curran, by which my heart, from boyhood, has
ofttimes been deeply moved--I rejoice to think that they embody
an instinct of an Englishman's nature. I heard, with
inexpressible delight, how they told on this mighty mass of the
citizens of the metropolis.

Britain has now no slaves; we can therefore talk to the other
nations now, as we could not have talked a dozen years ago. I
want the whole of the London ministry to meet Douglass. For as
his appeal is to England, and throughout England, I should
rejoice in the idea of churchmen and dissenters merging all
sectional distinctions in this cause. Let us have a public
breakfast. Let the ministers meet him; let them hear him; let
them grasp his hand; and let him enlist their sympathies on
behalf of the slave. Let him inspire them with abhorrence of the
man-stealer--the slaveholder. No slaveholding American shall
ever my cross my door. No slaveholding or slavery-supporting
minister shall ever pollute my pulpit. While I have a tongue to
speak, or a hand to write, I will, to the utmost of my power,
oppose these slaveholding men. We must have Douglass amongst us
to aid in fostering public opinion.

The great conflict with slavery must now take place in America;
and <329>while they are adding other slave states to the Union,
our business is to step forward and help the abolitionists there.
It is a pleasing circumstance that such a body of men has risen
in America, and whilst we hurl our thunders against her slavers,
let us make a distinction between those who advocate slavery and
those who oppose it. George Thompson has been there. This man,
Frederick Douglass, has been there, and has been compelled to
flee. I wish, when he first set foot on our shores, he had made
a solemn vow, and said, "Now that I am free, and in the sanctuary
of freedom, I will never return till I have seen the emancipation
of my country completed." He wants to surround these men, the
slaveholders, as by a wall of fire; and he himself may do much
toward kindling it. Let him travel over the island--east, west,
north, and south--everywhere diffusing knowledge and awakening
principle, till the whole nation become a body of petitioners to
America. He will, he must, do it. He must for a season make
England his home. He must send for his wife. He must send for
his children. I want to see the sons and daughters of such a
sire. We, too, must do something for him and them worthy of the
English name. I do not like the idea of a man of such mental
dimensions, such moral courage, and all but incomparable talent,
having his own small wants, and the wants of a distant wife and
children, supplied by the poor profits of his publication, the
sketch of his life. Let the pamphlet be bought by tens of
thousands. But we will do something more for him, shall we not?

It only remains that we pass a resolution of thanks to Frederick
Douglass, the slave that was, the man that is! He that was
covered with chains, and that is now being covered with glory,
and whom we will send back a gentleman.



_To My Old Master, Thomas Auld_



SIR--The long and intimate, though by no means friendly, relation
which unhappily subsisted between you and myself, leads me to
hope that you will easily account for the great liberty which I
now take in addressing you in this open and public manner. The
same fact may remove any disagreeable surprise which you may
experience on again finding your name coupled with mine, in any
other way than in an advertisement, accurately describing my
person, and offering a large sum for my arrest. In thus dragging
you again before the public, I am aware that I shall subject
myself to no inconsiderable amount of censure. I shall probably
be charged with an unwarrantable, if not a wanton and reckless
disregard of the rights and properties of private life. There
are those north as well as south who entertain a much higher
respect for rights which are merely conventional, than they do
for rights which are personal and essential. Not a few there are
in our country, who, while they have no scruples against robbing
the laborer of the hard earned results of his patient industry,
will be shocked by the extremely indelicate manner of bringing
your name before the public. Believing this to be the case, and
wishing to meet every reasonable or plausible objection to my
conduct, I will frankly state the ground upon which I justfy{sic}
myself in this instance, as well as on former occasions when I
have thought proper to mention your name in public. All will
agree that a man guilty of theft, robbery, or murder, has
forfeited the right to concealment and private life; that the
community have a right to subject such persons to the most
complete exposure. However much they may desire retirement, and
aim to conceal themselves and their movements from the popular
gaze, the public have a right to ferret them out, and bring their
conduct before


[11] It is not often that chattels address their owners. The
following letter is unique; and probably the only specimen of the
kind extant. It was written while in England.


<331>the proper tribunals of the country for investigation. Sir,
you will undoubtedly make the proper application of these
generally admitted principles, and will easily see the light in
which you are regarded by me; I will not therefore manifest ill
temper, by calling you hard names. I know you to be a man of
some intelligence, and can readily determine the precise estimate
which I entertain of your character. I may therefore indulge in
language which may seem to others indirect and ambiguous, and yet
be quite well understood by yourself.

I have selected this day on which to address you, because it is
the anniversary of my emancipation; and knowing no better way, I
am led to this as the best mode of celebrating that truly
important events. Just ten years ago this beautiful September
morning, yon bright sun beheld me a slave--a poor degraded
chattel--trembling at the sound of your voice, lamenting that I
was a man, and wishing myself a brute. The hopes which I had
treasured up for weeks of a safe and successful escape from your
grasp, were powerfully confronted at this last hour by dark
clouds of doubt and fear, making my person shake and my bosom to
heave with the heavy contest between hope and fear. I have no
words to describe to you the deep agony of soul which I
experienced on that never-to-be-forgotten morning--for I left by
daylight. I was making a leap in the dark. The probabilities,
so far as I could by reason determine them, were stoutly against
the undertaking. The preliminaries and precautions I had adopted
previously, all worked badly. I was like one going to war
without weapons--ten chances of defeat to one of victory. One in
whom I had confided, and one who had promised me assistance,
appalled by fear at the trial hour, deserted me, thus leaving the
responsibility of success or failure solely with myself. You,
sir, can never know my feelings. As I look back to them, I can
scarcely realize that I have passed through a scene so trying.
Trying, however, as they were, and gloomy as was the prospect,
thanks be to the Most High, who is ever the God of the oppressed,
at the moment which was to determine my whole earthly career, His
grace was sufficient; my mind was made up. I embraced the golden
opportunity, took the morning tide at the flood, and a free man,
young, active, and strong, is the result.

I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds
upon which I have justified myself in running away from you. I
am almost ashamed to do so now, for by this time you may have
discovered them yourself. I will, however, glance at them. When
yet but a child about six years old, I imbibed the determination
to run away. The very first mental <332>effort that I now
remember on my part, was an attempt to solve the mystery--why am
I a slave? and with this question my youthful mind was troubled
for many days, pressing upon me more heavily at times than
others. When I saw the slave-driver whip a slave-woman, cut the
blood out of her neck, and heard her piteous cries, I went away
into the corner of the fence, wept and pondered over the mystery.
I had, through some medium, I know not what, got some idea of
God, the Creator of all mankind, the black and the white, and
that he had made the blacks to serve the whites as slaves. How
he could do this and be _good_, I could not tell. I was not
satisfied with this theory, which made God responsible for
slavery, for it pained me greatly, and I have wept over it long
and often. At one time, your first wife, Mrs. Lucretia, heard me
sighing and saw me shedding tears, and asked of me the matter,
but I was afraid to tell her. I was puzzled with this question,
till one night while sitting in the kitchen, I heard some of the
old slaves talking of their parents having been stolen from
Africa by white men, and were sold here as slaves. The whole
mystery was solved at once. Very soon after this, my Aunt Jinny
and Uncle Noah ran away, and the great noise made about it by
your father-in-law, made me for the first time acquainted with
the fact, that there were free states as well as slave states.
From that time, I resolved that I would some day run away. The
morality of the act I dispose of as follows: I am myself; you
are yourself; we are two distinct persons, equal persons. What
you are, I am. You are a man, and so am I. God created both,
and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bond to you, or
you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me,
or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or
you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must
breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct
persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary
to our individual existence. In leaving you, I took nothing but
what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for
obtaining an _honest_ living. Your faculties remained yours, and
mine became useful to their rightful owner. I therefore see no
wrong in any part of the transaction. It is true, I went off
secretly; but that was more your fault than mine. Had I let you
into the secret, you would have defeated the enterprise entirely;
but for this, I should have been really glad to have made you
acquainted with my intentions to leave.

You may perhaps want to know how I like my present condition. I
am free to say, I greatly prefer it to that which I occupied in
Maryland. I am, however, by no means prejudiced against the
state as such. Its geography, climate, fertility, and products,
are such as to make it a very <333>desirable abode for any man;
and but for the existence of slavery there, it is not impossible
that I might again take up my abode in that state. It is not
that I love Maryland less, but freedom more. You will be
surprised to learn that people at the north labor under the
strange delusion that if the slaves were emancipated at the
south, they would flock to the north. So far from this being the
case, in that event, you would see many old and familiar faces
back again to the south. The fact is, there are few here who
would not return to the south in the event of emancipation. We
want to live in the land of our birth, and to lay our bones by
the side of our fathers; and nothing short of an intense love of
personal freedom keeps us from the south. For the sake of this,
most of us would live on a crust of bread and a cup of cold

Since I left you, I have had a rich experience. I have occupied
stations which I never dreamed of when a slave. Three out of the
ten years since I left you, I spent as a common laborer on the
wharves of New Bedford, Massachusetts. It was there I earned my
first free dollar. It was mine. I could spend it as I pleased.
I could buy hams or herring with it, without asking any odds of
anybody. That was a precious dollar to me. You remember when I
used to make seven, or eight, or even nine dollars a week in
Baltimore, you would take every cent of it from me every Saturday
night, saying that I belonged to you, and my earnings also. I
never liked this conduct on your part--to say the best, I thought
it a little mean. I would not have served you so. But let that
pass. I was a little awkward about counting money in New England
fashion when I first landed in New Bedford. I came near
betraying myself several times. I caught myself saying phip, for
fourpence; and at one time a man actually charged me with being a
runaway, whereupon I was silly enough to become one by running
away from him, for I was greatly afraid he might adopt measures
to get me again into slavery, a condition I then dreaded more
than death.

I soon learned, however, to count money, as well as to make it,
and got on swimmingly. I married soon after leaving you; in
fact, I was engaged to be married before I left you; and instead
of finding my companion a burden, she was truly a helpmate. She
went to live at service, and I to work on the wharf, and though
we toiled hard the first winter, we never lived more happily.
After remaining in New Bedford for three years, I met with
William Lloyd Garrison, a person of whom you have _possibly_
heard, as he is pretty generally known among slaveholders. He
put it into my head that I might make myself serviceable to the
cause of the slave, by devoting a portion of my time to telling
my own sorrows, and those of other slaves, which had come under
my observation. This <334>was the commencement of a higher state
of existence than any to which I had ever aspired. I was thrown
into society the most pure, enlightened, and benevolent, that the
country affords. Among these I have never forgotten you, but
have invariably made you the topic of conversation--thus giving
you all the notoriety I could do. I need not tell you that the
opinion formed of you in these circles is far from being
favorable. They have little respect for your honesty, and less
for your religion.

But I was going on to relate to you something of my interesting
experience. I had not long enjoyed the excellent society to
which I have referred, before the light of its excellence exerted
a beneficial influence on my mind and heart. Much of my early
dislike of white persons was removed, and their manners, habits,
and customs, so entirely unlike what I had been used to in the
kitchen-quarters on the plantations of the south, fairly charmed
me, and gave me a strong disrelish for the coarse and degrading
customs of my former condition. I therefore made an effort so to
improve my mind and deportment, as to be somewhat fitted to the
station to which I seemed almost providentially called. The
transition from degradation to respectability was indeed great,
and to get from one to the other without carrying some marks of
one's former condition, is truly a difficult matter. I would not
have you think that I am now entirely clear of all plantation
peculiarities, but my friends here, while they entertain the
strongest dislike to them, regard me with that charity to which
my past life somewhat entitles me, so that my condition in this
respect is exceedingly pleasant. So far as my domestic affairs
are concerned, I can boast of as comfortable a dwelling as your
own. I have an industrious and neat companion, and four dear
children--the oldest a girl of nine years, and three fine boys,
the oldest eight, the next six, and the youngest four years old.
The three oldest are now going regularly to school--two can read
and write, and the other can spell, with tolerable correctness,
words of two syllables. Dear fellows! they are all in
comfortable beds, and are sound asleep, perfectly secure under my
own roof. There are no slaveholders here to rend my heart by
snatching them from my arms, or blast a mother's dearest hopes by
tearing them from her bosom. These dear children are ours--not
to work up into rice, sugar, and tobacco, but to watch over,
regard, and protect, and to rear them up in the nurture and
admonition of the gospel--to train them up in the paths of wisdom
and virtue, and, as far as we can, to make them useful to the
world and to themselves. Oh! sir, a slaveholder never appears to
me so completely an agent of hell, as when I think of and look
upon my dear children. It is then that my feelings rise above my
control. I meant to have said more with respect to my own
prosperity and happiness, but thoughts and feel<335>ings which
this recital has quickened, unfit me to proceed further in that
direction. The grim horrors of slavery rise in all their ghastly
terror before me; the wails of millions pierce my heart and chill
my blood. I remember the chain, the gag, the bloody whip; the
death-like gloom overshadowing the broken spirit of the fettered
bondman; the appalling liability of his being torn away from wife
and children, and sold like a beast in the market. Say not that
this is a picture of fancy. You well know that I wear stripes on
my back, inflicted by your direction; and that you, while we were
brothers in the same church, caused this right hand, with which I
am now penning this letter, to be closely tied to my left, and my
person dragged, at the pistol's mouth, fifteen miles, from the
Bay Side to Easton, to be sold like a beast in the market, for
the alleged crime of intending to escape from your possession.
All this, and more, you remember, and know to be perfectly true,
not only of yourself, but of nearly all of the slaveholders
around you.

At this moment, you are probably the guilty holder of at least
three of my own dear sisters, and my only brother, in bondage.
These you regard as your property. They are recorded on your
ledger, or perhaps have been sold to human flesh-mongers, with a
view to filling our own ever-hungry purse. Sir, I desire to know
how and where these dear sisters are. Have you sold them? or are
they still in your possession? What has become of them? are they
living or dead? And my dear old grandmother, whom you turned out
like an old horse to die in the woods--is she still alive? Write
and let me know all about them. If my grandmother be still
alive, she is of no service to you, for by this time she must be
nearly eighty years old--too old to be cared for by one to whom
she has ceased to be of service; send her to me at Rochester, or
bring her to Philadelphia, and it shall be the crowning happiness
of my life to take care of her in her old age. Oh! she was to me
a mother and a father, so far as hard toil for my comfort could
make her such. Send me my grandmother! that I may watch over and
take care of her in her old age. And my sisters--let me know all
about them. I would write to them, and learn all I want to know
of them, without disturbing you in any way, but that, through
your unrighteous conduct, they have been entirely deprived of the
power to read and write. You have kept them in utter ignorance,
and have therefore robbed them of the sweet enjoyments of writing
or receiving letters from absent friends and relatives. Your
wickedness and cruelty, committed in this respect on your fellow-
creatures, are greater than all the stripes you have laid upon my
back or theirs. It is an outrage upon the soul, a war upon the
immortal spirit, and one for which you must give account at the
bar of our common Father and Creator.

The responsibility which you have assumed in this regard is truly
awful, and how you could stagger under it these many years is
marvelous. Your mind must have become darkened, your heart
hardened, your conscience seared and petrified, or you would have
long since thrown off the accursed load, and sought relief at the
hands of a sin-forgiving God. How, let me ask, would you look
upon me, were I, some dark night, in company with a band of
hardened villains, to enter the precincts of your elegant
dwelling, and seize the person of your own lovely daughter,
Amanda, and carry her off from your family, friends, and all the
loved ones of her youth--make her my slave--compel her to work,
and I take her wages--place her name on my ledger as property--
disregard her personal rights--fetter the powers of her immortal
soul by denying her the right and privilege of learning to read
and write--feed her coarsely--clothe her scantily, and whip her
on the naked back occasionally; more, and still more horrible,
leave her unprotected--a degraded victim to the brutal lust of
fiendish overseers, who would pollute, blight, and blast her fair
soul--rob her of all dignity--destroy her virtue, and annihilate
in her person all the graces that adorn the character of virtuous
womanhood? I ask, how would you regard me, if such were my
conduct? Oh! the vocabulary of the damned would not afford a
word sufficiently infernal to express your idea of my God-
provoking wickedness. Yet, sir, your treatment of my beloved
sisters is in all essential points precisely like the case I have
now supposed. Damning as would be such a deed on my part, it
would be no more so than that which you have committed against me
and my sisters.

I will now bring this letter to a close; you shall hear from me
again unless you let me hear from you. I intend to make use of
you as a weapon with which to assail the system of slavery--as a
means of concentrating public attention on the system, and
deepening the horror of trafficking in the souls and bodies of
men. I shall make use of you as a means of exposing the
character of the American church and clergy--and as a means of
bringing this guilty nation, with yourself, to repentance. In
doing this, I entertain no malice toward you personally. There
is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and
there is nothing in my house which you might need for your
comfort, which I would not readily grant. Indeed, I should
esteem it a privilege to set you an example as to how mankind
ought to treat each other.

_I am your fellow-man, but not your slave_.

_Extract from a Lecture on Slavery, at Rochester,
December 1, 1850_


More than twenty years of my life were consumed in a state of
slavery. My childhood was environed by the baneful peculiarities
of the slave system. I grew up to manhood in the presence of
this hydra headed monster--not as a master--not as an idle
spectator--not as the guest of the slaveholder--but as A SLAVE,
eating the bread and drinking the cup of slavery with the most
degraded of my brother-bondmen, and sharing with them all the
painful conditions of their wretched lot. In consideration of
these facts, I feel that I have a right to speak, and to speak
_strongly_. Yet, my friends, I feel bound to speak truly.

Goading as have been the cruelties to which I have been
subjected--bitter as have been the trials through which I have
passed--exasperating as have been, and still are, the indignities
offered to my manhood--I find in them no excuse for the slightest
departure from truth in dealing with any branch of this subject.

First of all, I will state, as well as I can, the legal and
social relation of master and slave. A master is one--to speak
in the vocabulary of the southern states--who claims and
exercises a right of property in the person of a fellow-man.
This he does with the force of the law and the sanction of
southern religion. The law gives the master absolute power over
the slave. He may work him, flog him, hire him out, sell him,
and, in certain contingencies, _kill_ him, with perfect impunity.
The slave is a human being, divested of all rights--reduced to
the level of a brute--a mere "chattel" in the eye of the law--
placed beyond the circle of human brotherhood--cut off from his
kind--his name, which the "recording angel" may have enrolled in
heaven, among the blest, is impiously inserted in a _master's
ledger_, with horses, sheep, and swine. In law, the slave has no
wife, no children, no country, and no home. He can own nothing,
possess nothing, acquire nothing, but what must belong to
another. To <338>eat the fruit of his own toil, to clothe his
person with the work of his own hands, is considered stealing.
He toils that another may reap the fruit; he is industrious that
another may live in idleness; he eats unbolted meal that another
may eat the bread of fine flour; he labors in chains at home,
under a burning sun and biting lash, that another may ride in
ease and splendor abroad; he lives in ignorance that another may
be educated; he is abused that another may be exalted; he rests
his toil-worn limbs on the cold, damp ground that another may
repose on the softest pillow; he is clad in coarse and tattered
raiment that another may be arrayed in purple and fine linen; he
is sheltered only by the wretched hovel that a master may dwell
in a magnificent mansion; and to this condition he is bound down
as by an arm of iron.

From this monstrous relation there springs an unceasing stream of
most revolting cruelties. The very accompaniments of the slave
system stamp it as the offspring of hell itself. To ensure good
behavior, the slaveholder relies on the whip; to induce proper
humility, he relies on the whip; to rebuke what he is pleased to
term insolence, he relies on the whip; to supply the place of
wages as an incentive to toil, he relies on the whip; to bind
down the spirit of the slave, to imbrute and destroy his manhood,
he relies on the whip, the chain, the gag, the thumb-screw, the
pillory, the bowie knife the pistol, and the blood-hound. These
are the necessary and unvarying accompaniments of the system.
Wherever slavery is found, these horrid instruments are also
found. Whether on the coast of Africa, among the savage tribes,
or in South Carolina, among the refined and civilized, slavery is
the same, and its accompaniments one and the same. It makes no
difference whether the slaveholder worships the God of the
Christians, or is a follower of Mahomet, he is the minister of
the same cruelty, and the author of the same misery. _Slavery_
is always _slavery;_ always the same foul, haggard, and damning
scourge, whether found in the eastern or in the western

There is a still deeper shade to be given to this picture. The
physical cruelties are indeed sufficiently harassing and
revolting; but they are as a few grains of sand on the sea shore,
or a few drops of water in the great ocean, compared with the
stupendous wrongs which it inflicts upon the mental, moral, and
religious nature of its hapless victims. It is only when we
contemplate the slave as a moral and intellectual being, that we
can adequately comprehend the unparalleled enormity of slavery,
and the intense criminality of the slaveholder. I have said that
the slave was a man. "What a piece of work is man! How noble in
reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving how
express and admirable! In action <339>how like an angel! In
apprehension how like a God! The beauty of the world! The
paragon of animals!"

The slave is a man, "the image of God," but "a little lower than
the angels;" possessing a soul, eternal and indestructible;
capable of endless happiness, or immeasurable woe; a creature of
hopes and fears, of affections and passions, of joys and sorrows,
and he is endowed with those mysterious powers by which man soars
above the things of time and sense, and grasps, with undying
tenacity, the elevating and sublimely glorious idea of a God. It
is _such_ a being that is smitten and blasted. The first work of
slavery is to mar and deface those characteristics of its victims
which distinguish _men_ from _things_, and _persons_ from
_property_. Its first aim is to destroy all sense of high moral
and religious responsibility. It reduces man to a mere machine.
It cuts him off from his Maker, it hides from him the laws of
God, and leaves him to grope his way from time to eternity in the
dark, under the arbitrary and despotic control of a frail,
depraved, and sinful fellow-man. As the serpent-charmer of India
is compelled to extract the deadly teeth of his venomous prey
before he is able to handle him with impunity, so the slaveholder
must strike down the conscience of the slave before he can obtain
the entire mastery over his victim.

It is, then, the first business of the enslaver of men to blunt,
deaden, and destroy the central principle of human
responsibility. Conscience is, to the individual soul, and to
society, what the law of gravitation is to the universe. It
holds society together; it is the basis of all trust and
confidence; it is the pillar of all moral rectitude. Without it,
suspicion would take the place of trust; vice would be more than
a match for virtue; men would prey upon each other, like the wild
beasts of the desert; and earth would become a _hell_.

Nor is slavery more adverse to the conscience than it is to the
mind. This is shown by the fact, that in every state of the
American Union, where slavery exists, except the state of
Kentucky, there are laws absolutely prohibitory of education
among the slaves. The crime of teaching a slave to read is
punishable with severe fines and imprisonment, and, in some
instances, with _death itself_.

Nor are the laws respecting this matter a dead letter. Cases may
occur in which they are disregarded, and a few instances may be
found where slaves may have learned to read; but such are
isolated cases, and only prove the rule. The great mass of
slaveholders look upon education among the slaves as utterly
subversive of the slave system. I well remember when my mistress
first announced to my master that she had dis<340>covered that I
could read. His face colored at once with surprise and chagrin.
He said that "I was ruined, and my value as a slave destroyed;
that a slave should know nothing but to obey his master; that to
give a negro an inch would lead him to take an ell; that having
learned how to read, I would soon want to know how to write; and
that by-and-by I would be running away." I think my audience
will bear witness to the correctness of this philosophy, and to
the literal fulfillment of this prophecy.

It is perfectly well understood at the south, that to educate a
slave is to make him discontened{sic} with slavery, and to invest
him with a power which shall open to him the treasures of
freedom; and since the object of the slaveholder is to maintain
complete authority over his slave, his constant vigilance is
exercised to prevent everything which militates against, or
endangers, the stability of his authority. Education being among
the menacing influences, and, perhaps, the most dangerous, is,
therefore, the most cautiously guarded against.

It is true that we do not often hear of the enforcement of the
law, punishing as a crime the teaching of slaves to read, but
this is not because of a want of disposition to enforce it. The
true reason or explanation of the matter is this: there is the
greatest unanimity of opinion among the white population in the
south in favor of the policy of keeping the slave in ignorance.
There is, perhaps, another reason why the law against education
is so seldom violated. The slave is too poor to be able to offer
a temptation sufficiently strong to induce a white man to violate
it; and it is not to be supposed that in a community where the
moral and religious sentiment is in favor of slavery, many
martyrs will be found sacrificing their liberty and lives by
violating those prohibitory enactments.

As a general rule, then, darkness reigns over the abodes of the
enslaved, and "how great is that darkness!"

We are sometimes told of the contentment of the slaves, and are
entertained with vivid pictures of their happiness. We are told
that they often dance and sing; that their masters frequently
give them wherewith to make merry; in fine, that they have little
of which to complain. I admit that the slave does sometimes
sing, dance, and appear to be merry. But what does this prove?
It only proves to my mind, that though slavery is armed with a
thousand stings, it is not able entirely to kill the elastic
spirit of the bondman. That spirit will rise and walk abroad,
despite of whips and chains, and extract from the cup of nature
occasional drops of joy and gladness. No thanks to the
slaveholder, nor to slavery, that the <341>vivacious captive may
sometimes dance in his chains; his very mirth in such
circumstances stands before God as an accusing angel against his

It is often said, by the opponents of the anti-slavery cause,
that the condition of the people of Ireland is more deplorable
than that of the American slaves. Far be it from me to underrate
the sufferings of the Irish people. They have been long
oppressed; and the same heart that prompts me to plead the cause
of the American bondman, makes it impossible for me not to
sympathize with the oppressed of all lands. Yet I must say that
there is no analogy between the two cases. The Irishman is poor,
but he is not a slave. He may be in rags, but he is not a slave.
He is still the master of his own body, and can say with the
poet, "The hand of Douglass is his own." "The world is all
before him, where to choose;" and poor as may be my opinion of
the British parliament, I cannot believe that it will ever sink
to such a depth of infamy as to pass a law for the recapture of
fugitive Irishmen! The shame and scandal of kidnapping will long
remain wholly monopolized by the American congress. The Irishman
has not only the liberty to emigrate from his country, but he has
liberty at home. He can write, and speak, and cooperate for the
attainment of his rights and the redress of his wrongs.

The multitude can assemble upon all the green hills and fertile
plains of the Emerald Isle; they can pour out their grievances,
and proclaim their wants without molestation; and the press, that
"swift-winged messenger," can bear the tidings of their doings to
the extreme bounds of the civilized world. They have their
"Conciliation Hall," on the banks of the Liffey, their reform
clubs, and their newspapers; they pass resolutions, send forth
addresses, and enjoy the right of petition. But how is it with
the American slave? Where may he assemble? Where is his
Conciliation Hall? Where are his newspapers? Where is his right
of petition? Where is his freedom of speech? his liberty of the
press? and his right of locomotion? He is said to be happy;
happy men can speak. But ask the slave what is his condition--
what his state of mind--what he thinks of enslavement? and you
had as well address your inquiries to the _silent dead_. There
comes no _voice_ from the enslaved. We are left to gather his
feelings by imagining what ours would be, were our souls in his
soul's stead.

If there were no other fact descriptive of slavery, than that the
slave is dumb, this alone would be sufficient to mark the slave
system as a grand aggregation of human horrors.

Most who are present, will have observed that leading men in this
<342>country have been putting forth their skill to secure quiet
to the nation. A system of measures to promote this object was
adopted a few months ago in congress. The result of those
measures is known. Instead of quiet, they have produced alarm;
instead of peace, they have brought us war; and so it must ever

While this nation is guilty of the enslavement of three millions
of innocent men and women, it is as idle to think of having a
sound and lasting peace, as it is to think there is no God to
take cognizance of the affairs of men. There can be no peace to
the wicked while slavery continues in the land. It will be
condemned; and while it is condemned there will be agitation.
Nature must cease to be nature; men must become monsters;
humanity must be transformed; Christianity must be exterminated;
all ideas of justice and the laws of eternal goodness must be
utterly blotted out from the human soul--ere a system so foul and
infernal can escape condemnation, or this guilty republic can
have a sound, enduring peace.




_Extract from A Lecture on Slavery, at Rochester,
December 8, 1850_


The relation of master and slave has been called patriarchal, and
only second in benignity and tenderness to that of the parent and
child. This representation is doubtless believed by many
northern people; and this may account, in part, for the lack of
interest which we find among persons whom we are bound to believe
to be honest and humane. What, then, are the facts? Here I will
not quote my own experience in slavery; for this you might call
one-sided testimony. I will not cite the declarations of
abolitionists; for these you might pronounce exaggerations. I
will not rely upon advertisements cut from newspapers; for these
you might call isolated cases. But I will refer you to the laws
adopted by the legislatures of the slave states. I give you such
evidence, because it cannot be invalidated nor denied. I hold in
my hand sundry extracts from the slave codes of our country, from
which I will quote. * * *

Now, if the foregoing be an indication of kindness, _what is
cruelty_? If this be parental affection, _what is bitter
malignity_? A more atrocious and blood-thirsty string of laws
could not well be conceived of. And yet I am bound to say that
they fall short of indicating the horrible cruelties constantly
practiced in the slave states.

I admit that there are individual slaveholders less cruel and
barbarous than is allowed by law; but these form the exception.
The majority of slaveholders find it necessary, to insure
obedience, at times, to avail themselves of the utmost extent of
the law, and many go beyond it. If kindness were the rule, we
should not see advertisements filling the columns of almost every
southern newspaper, offering large rewards for fugitive slaves,
and describing them as being branded with irons, loaded with
chains, and scarred by the whip. One of the most telling
testimonies against the pretended kindness of slaveholders, is
the fact that uncounted numbers of fugitives are now inhabiting
the Dismal Swamp, preferring <344>the untamed wilderness to their
cultivated homes--choosing rather to encounter hunger and thirst,
and to roam with the wild beasts of the forest, running the
hazard of being hunted and shot down, than to submit to the
authority of _kind_ masters.

I tell you, my friends, humanity is never driven to such an
unnatural course of life, without great wrong. The slave finds
more of the milk of human kindness in the bosom of the savage
Indian, than in the heart of his _Christian_ master. He leaves
the man of the _bible_, and takes refuge with the man of the
_tomahawk_. He rushes from the praying slaveholder into the paws
of the bear. He quits the homes of men for the haunts of wolves.
He prefers to encounter a life of trial, however bitter, or
death, however terrible, to dragging out his existence under the
dominion of these _kind_ masters.

The apologists for slavery often speak of the abuses of slavery;
and they tell us that they are as much opposed to those abuses as
we are; and that they would go as far to correct those abuses and
to ameliorate the condition of the slave as anybody. The answer
to that view is, that slavery is itself an abuse; that it lives
by abuse; and dies by the absence of abuse. Grant that slavery
is right; grant that the relations of master and slave may
innocently exist; and there is not a single outrage which was
ever committed against the slave but what finds an apology in the
very necessity of the case. As we said by a slaveholder (the
Rev. A. G. Few) to the Methodist conference, "If the relation be
right, the means to maintain it are also right;" for without
those means slavery could not exist. Remove the dreadful
scourge--the plaited thong--the galling fetter--the accursed
chain--and let the slaveholder rely solely upon moral and
religious power, by which to secure obedience to his orders, and
how long do you suppose a slave would remain on his plantation?
The case only needs to be stated; it carries its own refutation
with it.

Absolute and arbitrary power can never be maintained by one man
over the body and soul of another man, without brutal
chastisement and enormous cruelty.

To talk of _kindness_ entering into a relation in which one party
is robbed of wife, of children, of his hard earnings, of home, of
friends, of society, of knowledge, and of all that makes this
life desirable, is most absurd, wicked, and preposterous.

I have shown that slavery is wicked--wicked, in that it violates
the great law of liberty, written on every human heart--wicked,
in that it violates the first command of the decalogue--wicked,
in that it fosters the most disgusting licentiousness--wicked, in
that it mars and defaces <345>the image of God by cruel and
barbarous inflictions--wicked, in that it contravenes the laws of
eternal justice, and tramples in the dust all the humane and
heavenly precepts of the New Testament.

The evils resulting from this huge system of iniquity are not
confined to the states south of Mason and Dixon's line. Its
noxious influence can easily be traced throughout our northern
borders. It comes even as far north as the state of New York.
Traces of it may be seen even in Rochester; and travelers have
told me it casts its gloomy shadows across the lake, approaching
the very shores of Queen Victoria's dominions.

The presence of slavery may be explained by--as it is the
explanation of--the mobocratic violence which lately disgraced
New York, and which still more recently disgraced the city of
Boston. These violent demonstrations, these outrageous invasions
of human rights, faintly indicate the presence and power of
slavery here. It is a significant fact, that while meetings for
almost any purpose under heaven may be held unmolested in the
city of Boston, that in the same city, a meeting cannot be
peaceably held for the purpose of preaching the doctrine of the
American Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created
equal." The pestiferous breath of slavery taints the whole moral
atmosphere of the north, and enervates the moral energies of the
whole people.

The moment a foreigner ventures upon our soil, and utters a
natural repugnance to oppression, that moment he is made to feel
that there is little sympathy in this land for him. If he were
greeted with smiles before, he meets with frowns now; and it
shall go well with him if he be not subjected to that peculiarly
fining method of showing fealty to slavery, the assaults of a

Now, will any man tell me that such a state of things is natural,
and that such conduct on the part of the people of the north,
springs from a consciousness of rectitude? No! every fibre of
the human heart unites in detestation of tyranny, and it is only
when the human mind has become familiarized with slavery, is
accustomed to its injustice, and corrupted by its selfishness,
that it fails to record its abhorrence of slavery, and does not
exult in the triumphs of liberty.

The northern people have been long connected with slavery; they
have been linked to a decaying corpse, which has destroyed the
moral health. The union of the government; the union of the
north and south, in the political parties; the union in the
religious organizations of the land, have all served to deaden
the moral sense of the northern people, and to impregnate them
with sentiments and ideas forever in conflict with what as a
nation we call _genius of American institutions_. Rightly
viewed, <346>this is an alarming fact, and ought to rally all
that is pure, just, and holy in one determined effort to crush
the monster of corruption, and to scatter "its guilty profits" to
the winds. In a high moral sense, as well as in a national
sense, the whole American people are responsible for slavery, and
must share, in its guilt and shame, with the most obdurate men-
stealers of the south.

While slavery exists, and the union of these states endures,
every American citizen must bear the chagrin of hearing his
country branded before the world as a nation of liars and
hypocrites; and behold his cherished flag pointed at with the
utmost scorn and derision. Even now an American _abroad_ is
pointed out in the crowd, as coming from a land where men gain
their fortunes by "the blood of souls," from a land of slave
markets, of blood-hounds, and slave-hunters; and, in some
circles, such a man is shunned altogether, as a moral pest. Is
it not time, then, for every American to awake, and inquire into
his duty with respect to this subject?

Wendell Phillips--the eloquent New England orator--on his return
from Europe, in 1842, said, "As I stood upon the shores of Genoa,
and saw floating on the placid waters of the Mediterranean, the
beautiful American war ship Ohio, with her masts tapering
proportionately aloft, and an eastern sun reflecting her noble
form upon the sparkling waters, attracting the gaze of the
multitude, my first impulse was of pride, to think myself an
American; but when I thought that the first time that gallant
ship would gird on her gorgeous apparel, and wake from beneath
her sides her dormant thunders, it would be in defense of the
African slave trade, I blushed in utter _shame_ for my country."

Let me say again, _slavery is alike the sin and the shame of the
American people;_ it is a blot upon the American name, and the
only national reproach which need make an American hang his head
in shame, in the presence of monarchical governments.

With this gigantic evil in the land, we are constantly told to
look _at home;_ if we say ought against crowned heads, we are
pointed to our enslaved millions; if we talk of sending
missionaries and bibles abroad, we are pointed to three millions
now lying in worse than heathen darkness; if we express a word of
sympathy for Kossuth and his Hungarian fugitive brethren, we are
pointed to that horrible and hell-black enactment, "the fugitive
slave bill."

Slavery blunts the edge of all our rebukes of tyranny abroad--the
criticisms that we make upon other nations, only call forth
ridicule, contempt, and scorn. In a word, we are made a reproach
and a by-word to a <347>mocking earth, and we must continue to be
so made, so long as slavery continues to pollute our soil.

We have heard much of late of the virtue of patriotism, the love
of country, &c., and this sentiment, so natural and so strong,
has been impiously appealed to, by all the powers of human
selfishness, to cherish the viper which is stinging our national
life away. In its name, we have been called upon to deepen our
infamy before the world, to rivet the fetter more firmly on the
limbs of the enslaved, and to become utterly insensible to the
voice of human woe that is wafted to us on every southern gale.
We have been called upon, in its name, to desecrate our whole
land by the footprints of slave-hunters, and even to engage
ourselves in the horrible business of kidnapping.

I, too, would invoke the spirit of patriotism; not in a narrow
and restricted sense, but, I trust, with a broad and manly
signification; not to cover up our national sins, but to inspire
us with sincere repentance; not to hide our shame from the
the{sic} world's gaze, but utterly to abolish the cause of that
shame; not to explain away our gross inconsistencies as a nation,
but to remove the hateful, jarring, and incongruous elements from
the land; not to sustain an egregious wrong, but to unite all our
energies in the grand effort to remedy that wrong.

I would invoke the spirit of patriotism, in the name of the law
of the living God, natural and revealed, and in the full belief
that "righteousness exalteth a nation, while sin is a reproach to
any people." "He that walketh righteously, and speaketh
uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that
shaketh his hands from the holding of bribes, he shall dwell on
high, his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks, bread
shall be given him, his water shall be sure."

We have not only heard much lately of patriotism, and of its aid
being invoked on the side of slavery and injustice, but the very
prosperity of this people has been called in to deafen them to
the voice of duty, and to lead them onward in the pathway of sin.
Thus has the blessing of God been converted into a curse. In the
spirit of genuine patriotism, I warn the American people, by all
that is just and honorable, to BEWARE!

I warn them that, strong, proud, and prosperous though we be,
there is a power above us that can "bring down high looks; at the
breath of whose mouth our wealth may take wings; and before whom
every knee shall bow;" and who can tell how soon the avenging
angel may pass over our land, and the sable bondmen now in
chains, may become the instruments of our nation's chastisement!
Without appealing to any higher feeling, I would warn the
American people, and the American govern<348>ment, to be wise in
their day and generation. I exhort them to remember the history
of other nations; and I remind them that America cannot always
sit "as a queen," in peace and repose; that prouder and stronger
governments than this have been shattered by the bolts of a just
God; that the time may come when those they now despise and hate,
may be needed; when those whom they now compel by oppression to
be enemies, may be wanted as friends. What has been, may be
again. There is a point beyond which human endurance cannot go.
The crushed worm may yet turn under the heel of the oppressor. I
warn them, then, with all solemnity, and in the name of
retributive justice, _to look to their ways;_ for in an evil
hour, those sable arms that have, for the last two centuries,
been engaged in cultivating and adorning the fair fields of our
country, may yet become the instruments of terror, desolation,
and death, throughout our borders.

It was the sage of the Old Dominion that said--while speaking of
the possibility of a conflict between the slaves and the
slaveholders--"God has no attribute that could take sides with
the oppressor in such a contest. I tremble for my country when I
reflect that God _is just_, and that his justice cannot sleep
forever." Such is the warning voice of Thomas Jefferson; and
every day's experience since its utterance until now, confirms
its wisdom, and commends its truth.




_Extract from an Oration, at Rochester, July 5, 1852_


Fellow-Citizens--Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called
upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to
do with your national independence? Are the great principles of
political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that
Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore,
called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar,
and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the
blessings, resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative
answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then
would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For
who is there so cold that a nation's sympathy could not warm him?
Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would
not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so
stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the
hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude
had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like
that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as
an hart."

But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad
sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the
pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only
reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in
which you this day rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich
inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence,
bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The
sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought
stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is _yours_, not
mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters
into the grand illuminated <350>temple of liberty, and call upon
him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and
sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking
me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct.
And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a
nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by
the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable
ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and
woe-smitten people.

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when
we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the
midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive,
required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us
mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing
the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O
Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not
remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultous joy, I hear the
mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous
yesterday, are to-day rendered more intolerable by the jubilant
shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully
remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my
right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the
roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their
wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason
most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before
God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is
AMERICAN SLAVERY. I shall see this day and its popular
characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there,
identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I
do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character
and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on
this Fourth of July. Whether we turn to the declarations of the
past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the
nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to
the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be
false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and
bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity
which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in
the name of the constitution and the bible, which are disregarded
and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with
all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to
perpetuate slavery--the great sin and shame of America! "I will
not equivocate; I will not excuse;" I will use the severest
language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that
any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is
not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, it is just in
this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to
make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue
more, and denounce less, would you persuade more and rebuke less,
your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit,
where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in
the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch
of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I
undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is
conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves
acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government.
They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of
the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the state of
Virginia, which, if committed by a black man (no matter how
ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while
only two of these same crimes will subject a white man to the
like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgement that the
slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being. The
manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact
that southern statute books are covered with enactments
forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the
slave to read or write. When you can point to any such laws, in
reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue
the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when
the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the
fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to
distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you
that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the
Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are plowing,
planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools,
erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in
metals of brass, iron, copper, silver, and gold; that, while we
are reading, writing, and cyphering, acting as clerks, merchants,
and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers,
poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; that, while we
are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men--
digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific,
feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting,
thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and
children, and, above all, confessing and worshiping the
Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality
beyond the grave--we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he
is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared
it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a
question for republicans? <352>Is it to be settled by the rules
of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great
difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of
justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day in the
presence of Americans, dividing and subdividing a discourse, to
show that men have a natural right to freedom, speaking of it
relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively? To do
so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to
your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of
heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for _him_.

What! am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob
them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them
ignorant of their relations to their fellow-men, to beat them
with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their
limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at
auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to
burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to
their masters? Must I argue that a system, thus marked with
blood and stained with pollution, is wrong? No; I will not. I
have better employment for my time and strength than such
arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not
divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of
divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That
which is inhuman cannot be divine. Who can reason on such a
proposition! They that can, may! I cannot. The time for such
argument is past.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is
needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation's
ear, I would to-day pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule,
blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it
is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle
shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the
earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the
conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the
nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be
exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed
and denounced.

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a
day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year,
the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant
victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted
liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling
vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your
denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of
liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns,
your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade
and solemnity, <353>are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception,
impiety, and hypocrisy--a thin veil to cover up crimes which
would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the
earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody, than are the
people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the
monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South
America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the
last, lay your facts by the side of the every-day practices of
this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting
barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a



_Extract from an Oration, at Rochester, July 5, 1852_


Take the American slave trade, which, we are told by the papers,
is especially prosperous just now. Ex-senator Benton tells us
that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the
fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of
the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in
all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy;
and millions are pocketed every year by dealers in this horrid
traffic. In several states this trade is a chief source of
wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave
trade) _"the internal slave trade_." It is, probably, called so,
too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign
slave trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been
denounced by this government as piracy. It has been denounced
with burning words, from the high places of the nation, as an
execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this
nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa.
Everywhere in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign
slave trade as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the laws
of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it is
admitted even by our _doctors of divinity_. In order to put an
end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored
brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and
establish themselves on the western coast of Africa. It is,
however, a notable fact, that, while so much execration is poured
out by Americans, upon those engaged in the foreign slave trade,
the men engaged in the slave trade between the states pass
without condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable.

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave trade--the
American slave trade sustained by American politics and American
religion! Here you will see men and women reared like swine for
the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a
man-drover. They inhabit all our southern states. They
perambulate the country, and crowd the <355>highways of the
nation with droves of human stock. You will see one of these
human-flesh-jobbers, armed with pistol, whip, and bowie-knife,
driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the
Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched
people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers.
They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill.
Mark the sad procession as it moves wearily along, and the
inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his
blood-chilling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives.
There, see the old man, with locks thinned and gray. Cast one
glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders
are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the
brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that girl of thirteen,
weeping, yes, weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she
has been torn. The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have
nearly consumed their strength. Suddenly you hear a quick snap,
like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain
rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream that
seems to have torn its way to the center of your soul. The crack
you heard was the sound of the slave whip; the scream you heard
was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered
under the weight of her child and her chains; that gash on her
shoulder tells her to move on. Follow this drove to New Orleans.
Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms
of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shocking gaze of
American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated
forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that
scattered multitude. Tell me, citizens, where, under the sun,
can you witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this
is but a glance at the American slave trade, as it exists at this
moment, in the ruling part of the United States.

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave
trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often
pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot street,
Fell's Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves the
slave ships in the basin, anchored from the shore, with their
cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them
down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart
kept at the head of Pratt street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents
were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing
their arrival through the papers, and on flaming hand-bills,
headed, "cash for negroes." These men were generally well
dressed, and very captivating in their manners; ever ready to
drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate <356>of many a slave
has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has
been snatched from the arms of its mothers by bargains arranged
in a state of brutal drunkenness.

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive
them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a
sufficient number have been collected here, a ship is chartered,
for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile or to New
Orleans. From the slave-prison to the ship, they are usually
driven in the darkness of night; for since the anti-slavery
agitation a certain caution is observed.

In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have been often
aroused by the dead, heavy footsteps and the piteous cries of the
chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish
heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my
mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very
wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains, and the
heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with
me in my horror.

Fellow citizens, this murderous traffic is to-day in active
operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my
spirit, I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the south;
I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered
humanity, on the way to the slave markets, where the victims are
to be sold like horses, sheep, and swine, knocked off to the
highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly
broken, to gratify the lust, caprice, and rapacity of the buyers
and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.

_Is this the land your fathers loved?
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the earth whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?_


But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of
things remains to be presented. By an act of the American
congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in
its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason and
Dixon's line has been obliterated; New York has become as
Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women, and
children as slaves, remains no longer a mere state institution,
but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power
is coextensive with the star-spangled banner and American
christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-
hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for
the sportsman's gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human
decrees, the liberty and person of every man are <357>put in
peril. Your broad republican domain is a hunting-ground for
_men_. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely,
but for men guilty of no crime. Your law-makers have commanded
all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your
president, your secretary of state, your lords, nobles, and
ecclesiastics, enforce as a duty you owe to your free and
glorious country and to your God, that you do this accursed
thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have within the past two
years been hunted down, and without a moment's warning, hurried
away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating
torture. Some of these have had wives and children dependent on
them for bread; but of this no account was made. The right of
the hunter to his prey, stands superior to the right of marriage,
and to _all_ rights in this republic, the rights of God included!
For black men there are neither law, justice, humanity, nor
religion. The fugitive slave law makes MERCY TO THEM A CRIME;
and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge GETS TEN
DOLLARS FOR EVERY VICTIM HE CONSIGNS to slavery, and five, when
he fails to do so. The oath of an{sic} two villains is
sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most
pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of
slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no
witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound
by the law to hear but _one side_, and that side is the side of
the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let
it be thundered around the world, that, in tyrant-killing, king
hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America, the seats
of justice are filled with judges, who hold their office under an
open and palpable _bribe_, and are bound, in deciding in the case
of a man's liberty, _to hear only his accusers!_

In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the
forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the
defenseless, and in diabolical intent, this fugitive slave law
stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if
there be another nation on the globe having the brass and the
baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in
this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and
feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him
at any suitable time and place he may select.




_Extract from a Speech Delivered before the A. A. S. Society, in
New York, May, 1853_


Sir, it is evident that there is in this country a purely slavery
party--a party which exists for no other earthly purpose but to
promote the interests of slavery. The presence of this party is
felt everywhere in the republic. It is known by no particular
name, and has assumed no definite shape; but its branches reach
far and wide in the church and in the state. This shapeless and
nameless party is not intangible in other and more important
respects. That party, sir, has determined upon a fixed,
definite, and comprehensive policy toward the whole colored
population of the United States. What that policy is, it becomes
us as abolitionists, and especially does it become the colored
people themselves, to consider and to understand fully. We ought
to know who our enemies are, where they are, and what are their
objects and measures. Well, sir, here is my version of it--not
original with me--but mine because I hold it to be true.

I understand this policy to comprehend five cardinal objects.
They are these: 1st. The complete suppression of all anti-slavery
discussion. 2d. The expatriation of the entire free people of
color from the United States. 3d. The unending perpetuation of
slavery in this republic. 4th. The nationalization of slavery to
the extent of making slavery respected in every state of the
Union. 5th. The extension of slavery over Mexico and the entire
South American states.

Sir, these objects are forcibly presented to us in the stern
logic of passing events; in the facts which are and have been
passing around us during the last three years. The country has
been and is now dividing on these grand issues. In their
magnitude, these issues cast all others into the shade, depriving
them of all life and vitality. Old party ties are broken. Like
is finding its like on either side of these great issues, and the
great battle is at hand. For the present, the best
representative of the slavery party in politics is the democratic
party. Its great head for the <359>present is President Pierce,
whose boast it was, before his election, that his whole life had
been consistent with the interests of slavery, that he is above
reproach on that score. In his inaugural address, he reassures
the south on this point. Well, the head of the slave power being
in power, it is natural that the pro slavery elements should
cluster around the administration, and this is rapidly being
done. A fraternization is going on. The stringent
protectionists and the free-traders strike hands. The supporters
of Fillmore are becoming the supporters of Pierce. The silver-
gray whig shakes hands with the hunker democrat; the former only
differing from the latter in name. They are of one heart, one
mind, and the union is natural and perhaps inevitable. Both hate
Negroes; both hate progress; both hate the "higher law;" both
hate William H. Seward; both hate the free democratic party; and
upon this hateful basis they are forming a union of hatred.
"Pilate and Herod are thus made friends." Even the central organ
of the whig party is extending its beggar hand for a morsel from
the table of slavery democracy, and when spurned from the feast
by the more deserving, it pockets the insult; when kicked on one
side it turns the other, and preseveres in its importunities.
The fact is, that paper comprehends the demands of the times; it
understands the age and its issues; it wisely sees that slavery
and freedom are the great antagonistic forces in the country, and
it goes to its own side. Silver grays and hunkers all understand
this. They are, therefore, rapidly sinking all other questions
to nothing, compared with the increasing demands of slavery.
They are collecting, arranging, and consolidating their forces
for the accomplishment of their appointed work.

The keystone to the arch of this grand union of the slavery party
of the United States, is the compromise of 1850. In that
compromise we have all the objects of our slaveholding policy
specified. It is, sir, favorable to this view of the designs of
the slave power, that both the whig and the democratic party bent
lower, sunk deeper, and strained harder, in their conventions,
preparatory to the late presidential election, to meet the
demands of the slavery party than at any previous time in their
history. Never did parties come before the northern people with
propositions of such undisguised contempt for the moral sentiment
and the religious ideas of that people. They virtually asked
them to unite in a war upon free speech, and upon conscience, and
to drive the Almighty presence from the councils of the nation.
Resting their platforms upon the fugitive slave bill, they boldly
asked the people for political power to execute the horrible and
hell-black provisions of that bill. The history of that election
reveals, with great clearness, the extent to which <360>slavery
has shot its leprous distillment through the life-blood of the
nation. The party most thoroughly opposed to the cause of
justice and humanity, triumphed; while the party suspected of a
leaning toward liberty, was overwhelmingly defeated, some say

But here is a still more important fact, illustrating the designs
of the slave power. It is a fact full of meaning, that no sooner
did the democratic slavery party come into power, than a system
of legislation was presented to the legislatures of the northern
states, designed to put the states in harmony with the fugitive
slave law, and the malignant bearing of the national government
toward the colored inhabitants of the country. This whole
movement on the part of the states, bears the evidence of having
one origin, emanating from one head, and urged forward by one
power. It was simultaneous, uniform, and general, and looked to
one end. It was intended to put thorns under feet already
bleeding; to crush a people already bowed down; to enslave a
people already but half free; in a word, it was intended to
discourage, dishearten, and drive the free colored people out of
the country. In looking at the recent black law of Illinois, one
is struck dumb with its enormity. It would seem that the men who
enacted that law, had not only banished from their minds all
sense of justice, but all sense of shame. It coolly proposes to
sell the bodies and souls of the blacks to increase the
intelligence and refinement of the whites; to rob every black
stranger who ventures among them, to increase their literary

While this is going on in the states, a pro-slavery, political
board of health is established at Washington. Senators Hale,
Chase, and Sumner are robbed of a part of their senatorial
dignity and consequence as representing sovereign states, because
they have refused to be inoculated with the slavery virus. Among
the services which a senator is expected by his state to perform,
are many that can only be done efficiently on committees; and, in
saying to these honorable senators, you shall not serve on the
committees of this body, the slavery party took the
responsibility of robbing and insulting the states that sent
them. It is an attempt at Washington to decide for the states
who shall be sent to the senate. Sir, it strikes me that this
aggression on the part of the slave power did not meet at the
hands of the proscribed senators the rebuke which we had a right
to expect would be administered. It seems to me that an
opportunity was lost, that the great principle of senatorial
equality was left undefended, at a time when its vindication was
sternly demanded. But it is not to the purpose of my present
statement to criticise the conduct of our friends. I am
persuaded that much ought to be left to the discretion of
<361>anti slavery men in congress, and charges of recreancy
should never be made but on the most sufficient grounds. For, of
all the places in the world where an anti-slavery man needs the
confidence and encouragement of friends, I take Washington to be
that place.

Let me now call attention to the social influences which are
operating and cooperating with the slavery party of the country,
designed to contribute to one or all of the grand objects aimed
at by that party. We see here the black man attacked in his
vital interests; prejudice and hate are excited against him;
enmity is stirred up between him and other laborers. The Irish
people, warm-hearted, generous, and sympathizing with the
oppressed everywhere, when they stand upon their own green
island, are instantly taught, on arriving in this Christian
country, to hate and despise the colored people. They are taught
to believe that we eat the bread which of right belongs to them.
The cruel lie is told the Irish, that our adversity is essential
to their prosperity. Sir, the Irish-American will find out his
mistake one day. He will find that in assuming our avocation he
also has assumed our degradation. But for the present we are
sufferers. The old employments by which we have heretofore
gained our livelihood, are gradually, and it may be inevitably,
passing into other hands. Every hour sees us elbowed out of some
employment to make room perhaps for some newly-arrived emigrants,
whose hunger and color are thought to give them a title to
especial favor. White men are becoming house-servants, cooks,
and stewards, common laborers, and flunkeys to our gentry, and,
for aught I see, they adjust themselves to their stations with
all becoming obsequiousness. This fact proves that if we cannot
rise to the whites, the whites can fall to us. Now, sir, look
once more. While the colored people are thus elbowed out of
employment; while the enmity of emigrants is being excited
against us; while state after state enacts laws against us; while
we are hunted down, like wild game, and oppressed with a general
feeling of insecurity--the American colonization society--that
old offender against the best interests and slanderer of the
colored people--awakens to new life, and vigorously presses its
scheme upon the consideration of the people and the government.
New papers are started--some for the north and some for the
south--and each in its tone adapting itself to its latitude.
Government, state and national, is called upon for appropriations
to enable the society to send us out of the country by steam!
They want steamers to carry letters and Negroes to Africa.
Evidently, this society looks upon our "extremity as its
opportunity," and we may expect that it will use the occasion
well. They do not deplore, but glory, in our misfortunes.

But, sir, I must hasten. I have thus briefly given my view of
one aspect of the present condition and future prospects of the
colored people of the United States. And what I have said is far
from encouraging to my afflicted people. I have seen the cloud
gather upon the sable brows of some who hear me. I confess the
case looks black enough. Sir, I am not a hopeful man. I think I
am apt even to undercalculate the benefits of the future. Yet,
sir, in this seemingly desperate case, I do not despair for my
people. There is a bright side to almost every picture of this
kind; and ours is no exception to the general rule. If the
influences against us are strong, those for us are also strong.
To the inquiry, will our enemies prevail in the execution of
their designs. In my God and in my soul, I believe they _will
not_. Let us look at the first object sought for by the slavery
party of the country, viz: the suppression of anti slavery
discussion. They desire to suppress discussion on this subject,
with a view to the peace of the slaveholder and the security of
slavery. Now, sir, neither the principle nor the subordinate
objects here declared, can be at all gained by the slave power,
and for this reason: It involves the proposition to padlock the
lips of the whites, in order to secure the fetters on the limbs
of the blacks. The right of speech, precious and priceless,
_cannot, will not_, be surrendered to slavery. Its suppression
is asked for, as I have said, to give peace and security to
slaveholders. Sir, that thing cannot be done. God has
interposed an insuperable obstacle to any such result. "There
can be _no peace_, saith my God, to the wicked." Suppose it were
possible to put down this discussion, what would it avail the
guilty slaveholder, pillowed as he is upon heaving bosoms of
ruined souls? He could not have a peaceful spirit. If every
anti-slavery tongue in the nation were silent--every anti-slavery
organization dissolved--every anti-slavery press demolished--
every anti slavery periodical, paper, book, pamphlet, or what
not, were searched out, gathered, deliberately burned to ashes,
and their ashes given to the four winds of heaven, still, still
the slaveholder could have _"no peace_." In every pulsation of
his heart, in every throb of his life, in every glance of his
eye, in the breeze that soothes, and in the thunder that
startles, would be waked up an accuser, whose cause is, "Thou
art, verily, guilty concerning thy brother."



_Extracts from a Lecture before Various Anti-Slavery Bodies, in
the Winter of 1855_


A grand movement on the part of mankind, in any direction, or for
any purpose, moral or political, is an interesting fact, fit and
proper to be studied. It is such, not only for those who eagerly
participate in it, but also for those who stand aloof from it--
even for those by whom it is opposed. I take the anti-slavery
movement to be such an one, and a movement as sublime and
glorious in its character, as it is holy and beneficent in the
ends it aims to accomplish. At this moment, I deem it safe to
say, it is properly engrossing more minds in this country than
any other subject now before the American people. The late John
C. Calhoun--one of the mightiest men that ever stood up in the
American senate--did not deem it beneath him; and he probably
studied it as deeply, though not as honestly, as Gerrit Smith, or
William Lloyd Garrison. He evinced the greatest familiarity with
the subject; and the greatest efforts of his last years in the
senate had direct reference to this movement. His eagle eye
watched every new development connected with it; and he was ever
prompt to inform the south of every important step in its
progress. He never allowed himself to make light of it; but
always spoke of it and treated it as a matter of grave import;
and in this he showed himself a master of the mental, moral, and
religious constitution of human society. Daniel Webster, too, in
the better days of his life, before he gave his assent to the
fugitive slave bill, and trampled upon all his earlier and better
convictions--when his eye was yet single--he clearly comprehended
the nature of the elements involved in this movement; and in his
own majestic eloquence, warned the south, and the country, to
have a care how they attempted to put it down. He is an
illustration that it is easier to give, than to take, good
advice. To these two men--the greatest men to whom the nation
has yet given birth--may be traced the two great facts of the
present--the south triumphant, and the north humbled. <364>Their
names may stand thus--Calhoun and domination--Webster and
degradation. Yet again. If to the enemies of liberty this
subject is one of engrossing interest, vastly more so should it
be such to freedom's friends. The latter, it leads to the gates
of all valuable knowledge--philanthropic, ethical, and religious;
for it brings them to the study of man, wonderfully and fearfully
made--the proper study of man through all time--the open book, in
which are the records of time and eternity.

Of the existence and power of the anti-slavery movement, as a
fact, you need no evidence. The nation has seen its face, and
felt the controlling pressure of its hand. You have seen it
moving in all directions, and in all weathers, and in all places,
appearing most where desired least, and pressing hardest where
most resisted. No place is exempt. The quiet prayer meeting,
and the stormy halls of national debate, share its presence
alike. It is a common intruder, and of course has the name of
being ungentlemanly. Brethren who had long sung, in the most
affectionate fervor, and with the greatest sense of security,

_Together let us sweetly live--together let us die,_

have been suddenly and violently separated by it, and ranged in
hostile attitude toward each other. The Methodist, one of the
most powerful religious organizations of this country, has been
rent asunder, and its strongest bolts of denominational
brotherhood started at a single surge. It has changed the tone
of the northern pulpit, and modified that of the press. A
celebrated divine, who, four years ago, was for flinging his own
mother, or brother, into the remorseless jaws of the monster
slavery, lest he should swallow up the Union, now recognizes
anti-slavery as a characteristic of future civilization. Signs
and wonders follow this movement; and the fact just stated is one
of them. Party ties are loosened by it; and men are compelled to
take sides for or against it, whether they will or not. Come
from where he may, or come for what he may, he is compelled to
show his hand. What is this mighty force? What is its history?
and what is its destiny? Is it ancient or modern, transient or
permanent? Has it turned aside, like a stranger and a sojourner,
to tarry for a night? or has it come to rest with us forever?
Excellent chances are here for speculation; and some of them are
quite profound. We might, for instance, proceed to inquire not
only into the philosophy of the anti-slavery movement, but into
the philosophy of the law, in obedience to which that movement
started into existence. We might demand to know what is that law
or power, which, at different times, disposes the minds of men to
this or that particular object--now for peace, and now for war--
now for free<365>dom, and now for slavery; but this profound
question I leave to the abolitionists of the superior class to
answer. The speculations which must precede such answer, would
afford, perhaps, about the same satisfaction as the learned
theories which have rained down upon the world, from time to
time, as to the origin of evil. I shall, therefore, avoid water
in which I cannot swim, and deal with anti-slavery as a fact,
like any other fact in the history of mankind, capable of being
described and understood, both as to its internal forces, and its
external phases and relations.

[After an eloquent, a full, and highly interesting exposition of
the nature, character, and history of the anti-slavery movement,
from the insertion of which want of space precludes us, he
concluded in the following happy manner.]

Present organizations may perish, but the cause will go on. That
cause has a life, distinct and independent of the organizations
patched up from time to time to carry it forward. Looked at,
apart from the bones and sinews and body, it is a thing immortal.
It is the very essence of justice, liberty, and love. The moral
life of human society, it cannot die while conscience, honor, and
humanity remain. If but one be filled with it, the cause lives.
Its incarnation in any one individual man, leaves the whole world
a priesthood, occupying the highest moral eminence even that of
disinterested benevolence. Whoso has ascended his height, and
has the grace to stand there, has the world at his feet, and is
the world's teacher, as of divine right. He may set in judgment
on the age, upon the civilization of the age, and upon the
religion of the age; for he has a test, a sure and certain test,
by which to try all institutions, and to measure all men. I say,
he may do this, but this is not the chief business for which he
is qualified. The great work to which he is called is not that
of judgment. Like the Prince of Peace, he may say, if I judge, I
judge righteous judgment; still mainly, like him, he may say,
this is not his work. The man who has thoroughly embraced the
principles of justice, love, and liberty, like the true preacher
of Christianity, is less anxious to reproach the world of its
sins, than to win it to repentance. His great work on earth is
to exemplify, and to illustrate, and to ingraft those principles
upon the living and practical understandings of all men within
the reach of his influence. This is his work; long or short his
years, many or few his adherents, powerful or weak his
instrumentalities, through good report, or through bad report,
this is his work. It is to snatch from the bosom of nature the
latent facts of each individual man's experience, and with steady
hand to hold them up fresh and glowing, enforeing, with all his
power, their acknowledgment and practical adoption. If there be
but _one_ <366>such man in the land, no matter what becomes of
abolition societies and parties, there will be an anti-slavery
cause, and an anti-slavery movement. Fortunately for that cause,
and fortunately for him by whom it is espoused, it requires no
extraordinary amount of talent to preach it or to receive it when
preached. The grand secret of its power is, that each of its
principles is easily rendered appreciable to the faculty of
reason in man, and that the most unenlightened conscience has no
difficulty in deciding on which side to register its testimony.
It can call its preachers from among the fishermen, and raise
them to power. In every human breast, it has an advocate which
can be silent only when the heart is dead. It comes home to
every man's understanding, and appeals directly to every man's
conscience. A man that does not recognize and approve for
himself the rights and privileges contended for, in behalf of the
American slave, has not yet been found. In whatever else men may
differ, they are alike in the apprehension of their natural and
personal rights. The difference between abolitionists and those
by whom they are opposed, is not as to principles. All are
agreed in respect to these. The manner of applying them is the
point of difference.

The slaveholder himself, the daily robber of his equal brother,
discourses eloquently as to the excellency of justice, and the
man who employs a brutal driver to flay the flesh of his negroes,
is not offended when kindness and humanity are commended. Every
time the abolitionist speaks of justice, the anti-abolitionist
assents says, yes, I wish the world were filled with a
disposition to render to every man what is rightfully due him; I
should then get what is due me. That's right; let us have
justice. By all means, let us have justice. Every time the
abolitionist speaks in honor of human liberty, he touches a chord
in the heart of the anti-abolitionist, which responds in
harmonious vibrations. Liberty--yes, that is evidently my right,
and let him beware who attempts to invade or abridge that right.
Every time he speaks of love, of human brotherhood, and the
reciprocal duties of man and man, the anti-abolitionist assents--
says, yes, all right--all true--we cannot have such ideas too
often, or too fully expressed. So he says, and so he feels, and
only shows thereby that he is a man as well as an anti-
abolitionist. You have only to keep out of sight the manner of
applying your principles, to get them endorsed every time.
Contemplating himself, he sees truth with absolute clearness and
distinctness. He only blunders when asked to lose sight of
himself. In his own cause he can beat a Boston lawyer, but he is
dumb when asked to plead the cause of others. He knows very well
whatsoever he would have done unto himself, but is quite in doubt
as to having the <367>same thing done unto others. It is just
here, that lions spring up in the path of duty, and the battle
once fought in heaven is refought on the earth. So it is, so
hath it ever been, and so must it ever be, when the claims of
justice and mercy make their demand at the door of human
selfishness. Nevertheless, there is that within which ever
pleads for the right and the just.

In conclusion, I have taken a sober view of the present anti-
slavery movement. I am sober, but not hopeless. There is no
denying, for it is everywhere admitted, that the anti-slavery
question is the great moral and social question now before the
American people. A state of things has gradually been developed,
by which that question has become the first thing in order. It
must be met. Herein is my hope. The great idea of impartial
liberty is now fairly before the American people. Anti-slavery
is no longer a thing to be prevented. The time for prevention is
past. This is great gain. When the movement was younger and
weaker--when it wrought in a Boston garret to human apprehension,
it might have been silently put out of the way. Things are
different now. It has grown too large--its friends are too
numerous--its facilities too abundant--its ramifications too
extended--its power too omnipotent, to be snuffed out by the
contingencies of infancy. A thousand strong men might be struck
down, and its ranks still be invincible. One flash from the
heart-supplied intellect of Harriet Beecher Stowe could light a
million camp fires in front of the embattled host of slavery,
which not all the waters of the Mississippi, mingled as they are
with blood, could extinguish. The present will be looked to by
after coming generations, as the age of anti-slavery literature--
when supply on the gallop could not keep pace with the ever
growing demand--when a picture of a Negro on the cover was a help
to the sale of a book--when conservative lyceums and other
American literary associations began first to select their
orators for distinguished occasions from the ranks of the
previously despised abolitionists. If the anti-slavery movement
shall fail now, it will not be from outward opposition, but from
inward decay. Its auxiliaries are everywhere. Scholars,
authors, orators, poets, and statesmen give it their aid. The
most brilliant of American poets volunteer in its service.
Whittier speaks in burning verse to more than thirty thousand, in
the National Era. Your own Longfellow whispers, in every hour of
trial and disappointment, "labor and wait." James Russell Lowell
is reminding us that "men are more than institutions." Pierpont
cheers the heart of the pilgrim in search of liberty, by singing
the praises of "the north star." Bryant, too, is with us; and
though chained to the car of party, and dragged on amidst a whirl
of <368>political excitement, he snatches a moment for letting
drop a smiling verse of sympathy for the man in chains. The
poets are with us. It would seem almost absurd to say it,
considering the use that has been made of them, that we have
allies in the Ethiopian songs; those songs that constitute our
national music, and without which we have no national music.
They are heart songs, and the finest feelings of human nature are
expressed in them. "Lucy Neal," "Old Kentucky Home," and "Uncle
Ned," can make the heart sad as well as merry, and can call forth
a tear as well as a smile. They awaken the sympathies for the
slave, in which antislavery principles take root, grow, and
flourish. In addition to authors, poets, and scholars at home,
the moral sense of the civilized world is with us. England,
France, and Germany, the three great lights of modern
civilization, are with us, and every American traveler learns to
regret the existence of slavery in his country. The growth of
intelligence, the influence of commerce, steam, wind, and
lightning are our allies. It would be easy to amplify this
summary, and to swell the vast conglomeration of our material
forces; but there is a deeper and truer method of measuring the
power of our cause, and of comprehending its vitality. This is
to be found in its accordance with the best elements of human
nature. It is beyond the power of slavery to annihilate
affinities recognized and established by the Almighty. The slave
is bound to mankind by the powerful and inextricable net-work of
human brotherhood. His voice is the voice of a man, and his cry
is the cry of a man in distress, and man must cease to be man
before he can become insensible to that cry. It is the righteous
of the cause--the humanity of the cause--which constitutes its
potency. As one genuine bankbill is worth more than a thousand
counterfeits, so is one man, with right on his side, worth more
than a thousand in the wrong. "One may chase a thousand, and put
ten thousand to flight." It is, therefore, upon the goodness of
our cause, more than upon all other auxiliaries, that we depend
for its final triumph.

Another source of congratulations is the fact that, amid all the
efforts made by the church, the government, and the people at
large, to stay the onward progress of this movment, its course
has been onward, steady, straight, unshaken, and unchecked from
the beginning. Slavery has gained victories large and numerous;
but never as against this movement--against a temporizing policy,
and against northern timidity, the slave power has been
victorious; but against the spread and prevalence in the country,
of a spirit of resistance to its aggression, and of sentiments
favorable to its entire overthrow, it has yet accomplished
nothing. Every measure, yet devised and executed, having for its
object the suppression <369>of anti-slavery, has been as idle and
fruitless as pouring oil to extinguish fire. A general rejoicing
took place on the passage of "the compromise measures" of 1850.
Those measures were called peace measures, and were afterward
termed by both the great parties of the country, as well as by
leading statesmen, a final settlement of the whole question of
slavery; but experience has laughed to scorn the wisdom of pro-
slavery statesmen; and their final settlement of agitation seems
to be the final revival, on a broader and grander scale than ever
before, of the question which they vainly attempted to suppress
forever. The fugitive slave bill has especially been of positive
service to the anti-slavery movement. It has illustrated before
all the people the horrible character of slavery toward the
slave, in hunting him down in a free state, and tearing him away
from wife and children, thus setting its claims higher than
marriage or parental claims. It has revealed the arrogant and
overbearing spirit of the slave states toward the free states;
despising their principles--shocking their feelings of humanity,
not only by bringing before them the abominations of slavery, but
by attempting to make them parties to the crime. It has called
into exercise among the colored people, the hunted ones, a spirit
of manly resistance well calculated to surround them with a
bulwark of sympathy and respect hitherto unknown. For men are
always disposed to respect and defend rights, when the victims of
oppression stand up manfully for themselves.

There is another element of power added to the anti-slavery
movement, of great importance; it is the conviction, becoming
every day more general and universal, that slavery must be
abolished at the south, or it will demoralize and destroy liberty
at the north. It is the nature of slavery to beget a state of
things all around it favorable to its own continuance. This
fact, connected with the system of bondage, is beginning to be
more fully realized. The slave-holder is not satisfied to
associate with men in the church or in the state, unless he can
thereby stain them with the blood of his slaves. To be a slave-
holder is to be a propagandist from necessity; for slavery can
only live by keeping down the under-growth morality which nature
supplies. Every new-born white babe comes armed from the Eternal
presence, to make war on slavery. The heart of pity, which would
melt in due time over the brutal chastisements it sees inflicted
on the helpless, must be hardened. And this work goes on every
day in the year, and every hour in the day.

What is done at home is being done also abroad here in the north.
And even now the question may be asked, have we at this moment a
single free state in the Union? The alarm at this point will
become more general. <370>The slave power must go on in its
career of exactions. Give, give, will be its cry, till the
timidity which concedes shall give place to courage, which shall
resist. Such is the voice of experience, such has been the past,
such is the present, and such will be that future, which, so sure
as man is man, will come. Here I leave the subject; and I leave
off where I began, consoling myself and congratulating the
friends of freedom upon the fact that the anti-slavery cause is
not a new thing under the sun; not some moral delusion which a
few years' experience may dispel. It has appeared among men in
all ages, and summoned its advocates from all ranks. Its
foundations are laid in the deepest and holiest convictions, and
from whatever soul the demon, selfishness, is expelled, there
will this cause take up its abode. Old as the everlasting hills;
immovable as the throne of God; and certain as the purposes of
eternal power, against all hinderances, and against all delays,
and despite all the mutations of human instrumentalities, it is
the faith of my soul, that this anti-slavery cause will triumph.


[The end]

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