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_By a principle essential to Christianitya 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--COVEYTHE 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
ARTthe 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
fieldand while those achievements are yet fresh in the memory
of the millionhe who would add another to the legionmust
possess the charm of transcendent excellenceor apologize for
something worse than rashness. The reader istherefore
assuredwith all due promptitudethat his attention is not
invited to a work of ARTbut to a work of FACTS--Factsterrible
and almost incredibleit may be yet FACTSnevertheless.

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 givenand that every transaction therein described
actually transpired.

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

ROCHESTERN. Y. _July_ 21855.

DEAR FRIEND: I have long entertainedas you very well knowa
somewhat positive repugnance to writing or speaking anything for

the publicwhich couldwith any degree of plausibiltymake me
liable to the imputation of seeking personal notorietyfor its
own sake. Entertaining that feeling very sincerelyand
permitting its controlperhapsquite unreasonablyI have often
<2>refused to narrate my personal experience in public antislavery
meetingsand in sympathizing circleswhen urged to do
so by friendswith whose views and wishesordinarilyit were a
pleasure to comply. In my letters and speechesI have generally
aimed to discuss the question of Slavery in the light of
fundamental principlesand upon factsnotorious and open to
all; makingI trustno more of the fact of my own former
enslavementthan circumstances seemed absolutely to require. I
have never placed my opposition to slavery on a basis so narrow
as my own enslavementbut rather upon the indestructible and
unchangeable laws of human natureevery 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 selfin such a manner as not
to incur the imputation of weaknessvanityand egotismis 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 hesitatewhen first you kindly
urged me to prepare for publication a full account of my life as
a slaveand my life as a freeman.

NeverthelessI seewith youmany reasons for regarding my
autobiography as exceptional in its characterand as beingin
some sensenaturally beyond the reach of those reproaches which
honorable and sensitive minds dislike to incur. It is not to
illustrate any heroic achievements of a manbut to vindicate a
just and beneficent principlein its application to the whole
human familyby letting in the light of truth upon a system
esteemed by some as a blessingand by others as a curse and a
crime. I agree with youthat this system is now at the bar of
public opinion--not only of this countrybut of the whole
civilized world--for judgment. Its friends have made for it the
usual plea--"not guilty;" the case mustthereforeproceed. Any
factseither from slavesslaveholdersor by-standers
calculated to enlighten the public mindby revealing the true
naturecharacterand tendency of the slave systemare in
orderand can scarcely be innocently withheld.

I seetoothat there are special reasons why I should write my
own biographyin preference to employing another to do it. Not
only is slavery on trialbut unfortunatelythe enslaved people
are also on trial. It is allegedthat they arenaturally
inferior; that they are _so low_ in the scale of humanityand so
utterly stupidthat they are unconscious of their wrongsand do
not apprehend their rights. Lookingthenat your requestfrom
this stand-pointand wishing everything of which you think me
capable to go to the benefit of my afflicted peopleI part with
my doubts and hesitationand 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. Douglassas to the propriety of his giving to the world a
full account of himself. A man who was born and brought up in

slaverya living witness of its horrors; who often himself
experienced its cruelties; and whodespite the depressing
influences surrounding his birthyouth and manhoodhas risen
from a dark and almost absolute obscurityto the distinguished
position which he now occupiesmight very well assume the
existence of a commendable curiosityon 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 highestmankind pay him the tribute of their admiration;
when he accomplishes this elevation by native energyguided by
prudence and wisdomtheir admiration is increased; but when his
courseonward and upwardexcellent in itselffurthermore
proves a possiblewhat had hitherto been regarded as an
impossiblereformthen he becomes a burning and a shining
lighton which the aged may look with gladnessthe young with
hopeand the down-troddenas a representative of what they may
themselves become. To such a mandear readerit is my
privilege to introduce you.

The life of Frederick Douglassrecorded in the pages which
followis not merely an example of self-elevation under the most
adverse circumstances; it ismoreovera noble vindication of
the highest aims of the American anti-slavery movement. The real
object of that movement is not only to disenthrallit isalso
to bestow upon the Negro the exercise of all those rightsfrom
the possession of which he has been so long debarred.

But this full recognition of the colored man to the rightand
the entire admission of the same to the full privileges
politicalreligious and socialof manhoodrequires powerful
effort on the part of the enthralledas well as on the part of
those who would disenthrall them. The people at large must feel
the convictionas well as admit the abstract logicof human
equality; <5>the Negrofor the first time in the world's
historybrought in full contact with high civilizationmust
prove his title first to all that is demanded for him; in the
teeth of unequal chanceshe must prove himself equal to the mass
of those who oppress him--thereforeabsolutely superior to his
apparent fateand to their relative ability. And it is most
cheering to the friends of freedomtodaythat evidence of this
equality is rapidly accumulatingnot from the ranks of the halffreed
colored people of the free statesbut from the very depths
of slavery itself; the indestructible equality of man to man is
demonstrated by the ease with which black menscarce 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 GarnettWells Brown
and PenningtonLoguen and Douglassare banners on the outer
wallunder which abolition is fighting its most successful
battlesbecause they are living exemplars of the practicability
of the most radical abolitionism; forthey were all of them born
to the doom of slaverysome of them remained slaves until adult
ageyet they all have not only won equality to their white
fellow citizensin civilreligiouspolitical and social rank
but they have also illustrated and adorned our common country by
their geniuslearning and eloquence.

The characteristics whereby Mr. Douglass has won first rank among
these remarkable menand is still rising toward highest rank
among living Americansare abundantly laid bare in the book
before us. Like the autobiography of Hugh Millerit carries us
so far back into early childhoodas to throw light upon the
questionwhen positive and persistent memory begins in the
human being.Andlike Hugh Millerhe must have been a shy
old-fashioned childoccasionally oppressed by what he could not
well account forpeering and poking about among the layers of
right and wrongof tyrant and thralland the wonderfulness of
that hopeless tide of things which brought power to one raceand
unrequited toil to anotheruntilfinallyhe 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 passionsuntil the drear
agony of slave-wife and slave-children had been piled upon his
already bitter experiences--thennot only would his own history
have had another terminationbut the drama of American slavery
would have been essentially varied; for I cannot resist the
beliefthat the boy who learned to read and write as he didwho
taught his fellow slaves these precious acquirements as he did
who plotted for their mutual escape as he didwouldwhen a man
at baystrike a blow which would make slavery reel and stagger.
Furthermoreblows and insults he boreat the momentwithout

resentment; deep but suppressed emotion rendered him insensible
to their sting; but it was afterwardwhen the memory of them
went seething through his brainbreeding a fiery indignation at
his injured self-hoodthat the resolve came to resistand the
time fixed when to resistand the plot laidhow to resist; and
he always kept his self-pledged word. In what he undertookin
this linehe looked fate in the faceand had a coolkeen look
at the relation of means to ends. Henry Bibbto avoid
chastisementstrewed 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 bondagewe findwell developed
that inherent and continuous energy of character which will ever
render him distinguished. What his hand found to dohe did with
his might; even while conscious that he was wronged out of his
daily earningshe workedand worked hard. At his daily labor
he went with a will; with keenwell set eyebrawny chestlithe
figureand fair sweep of armhe would have been king among
calkershad that been his mission.

It must not be overlookedin this glance at his educationthat
<8>Mr. Douglass lacked one aid to which so many men of mark have
been deeply indebted--he had neither a mother's carenor a
mother's culturesave that which slavery grudgingly meted out to
him. Bitter nurse! may not even her features relax with human
feelingwhen she gazes at such offspring! How susceptible he
was to the kindly influences of mother-culturemay be gathered
from his own wordson page 57: "It has been a life-long
standing grief to methat I know so little of my motherand
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 memoryand I take few steps in lifewithout
feeling her presence; but the image is muteand I have no
striking words of hers treasured up."

From the depths of chattel slavery in Marylandour author
escaped into the caste-slavery of the northin New Bedford
Massachusetts. Here he found oppression assuming anotherand
hardly less bitterform; of that very handicraft which the greed
of slavery had taught himhis 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 SocietyMay_1854.

Four years or morefrom 1837 to 1841he struggled onin New
Bedfordsawing woodrolling casksor doing what labor he
mightto 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 thenwith his wounds yet unhealedhe
fell among the Garrisonians--a glorious waif to those most ardent
reformers. It happened one dayat Nantucketthat he
diffidently and reluctantlywas led to address an anti-slavery
meeting. He was about the age when the younger Pitt entered the
House of Commons; like Pitttoohe stood up a born orator.

William Lloyd Garrisonwho was happily presentwrites 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
auditorycompletely taken by surprise. * * * I think I never
hated slavery so intensely as at that moment; certainlymy
perception of the enormous outrage which is inflicted by it on
the godlike nature of its victimswas 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 twoI think the latter the
most correct. It must have been a grand burst of eloquence! The
pent up agonyindignation and pathos of an abused and harrowed
boyhood and youthbursting out in all their freshness and
overwhelming earnestness!

This unique introduction to its great leaderled immediately

[1] LetterIntroduction 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 permithe becameafter the strictest secta
Garrisonian. It is not too much to saythat he formed a
complement which they neededand they were a complement equally
necessary to his "make-up." With his deep and keen sensitiveness
to wrongand his wonderful memoryhe came from the land of
bondage full of its woes and its evilsand painting them in
characters of living light; andon his parthe foundtold out
in sound Saxon phraseall those principles of justice and right
and libertywhich had dimly brooded over the dreams of his
youthseeking definite forms and verbal expression. It must
have been an electric flashing of thoughtand a knitting of
soulgranted to but few in this lifeand will be a life-long
memory to those who participated in it. In the society
moreoverof Wendell PhillipsEdmund QuincyWilliam Lloyd
Garrisonand other men of earnest faith and refined cultureMr.
Douglass enjoyed the high advantage of their assistance and
counsel in the labor of self-cultureto which he now addressed
himself with wonted energy. Yetthese gentlemenalthough proud
of Frederick Douglassfailed to fathomand bring out to the
light of daythe 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 sarcasmirresistible mimicryand
a pathetic narrative of his own experiences of slaverywere the

intellectual manifestations which they encouraged him to exhibit
on the platform or in the lecture desk.

A visit to Englandin 1845threw Mr. Douglass among men and
women of earnest souls and high cultureand whomoreoverhad
never drank of the bitter waters of American caste. For the
first time in his lifehe breathed an atmosphere congenial to
the longings of his spiritand felt his manhood free and
<11>unrestricted. The cordial and manly greetings of the British
and Irish audiences in publicand the refinement and elegance of
the social circles in which he minglednot only as an equalbut
as a recognized man of geniusweredoubtlessgenial and
pleasant resting places in his hitherto thorny and troubled
journey through life. There are joys on the earthandto the
wayfaring fugitive from American slavery or American castethis
is one of them.

But his sojourn in England was more than a joy to Mr. Douglass.
Like the platform at Nantucketit 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 soughtfrom various
points of viewand he mustperforcebestir 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 reformersthe gentlewomen of
England[2] were foremost to encourage and strengthen him to carve
out for himself a path fitted to his powers and energiesin the
life-battle against slavery and caste to which he was pledged.
And one stirring thoughtinseparable from the British idea of
the evangel of freedommust have smote his ear from every side-

_ Hereditary bondmen! know ye not
Who would be freethemselves mast strike the blow?_

The result of this visit wasthat on his return to the United
Stateshe established a newspaper. This proceeding was sorely
against the wishes and the advice of the leaders of the American
Anti-Slavery Societybut our author had fully grown up to the
conviction of a truth which they had once promulgedbut now

[2] One of these ladiesimpelled by the same noble spirit which
carried Miss Nightingale to Scutarihas devoted her timeher
untiring energiesto a great extent her meansand her high
literary abilitiesto the advancement and support of Frederick
Douglass' Paperthe only organ of the downtroddenedited and
published by one of themselvesin the United States.
<12>forgottento wit: that in their own elevation--selfelevation--
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 TELEGRAPHin the
daily papers. The keen caterers for the public attentionset
downin this columnsuch 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 Myersof Albanydeserves mention as one of the
most persevering among the colored editorial fraternity.

<14>week from Boston--over the lightning wiresas the name of
any other manof whatever note. To no man did the people more
widely nor more earnestly say_"Tell me thy thought!"_ And
somehow or otherrevolution 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 wordsthat brought forth fruits in the
revolution in Illinoisand in the passage of the franchise
resolutions by the Assembly of New York.

And the secret of his powerwhat 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 statethen
representing the lowest forms of organic life[4] and passing
through every subordinate grade or typeuntil he reaches the
last and highest--manhood. In like mannerand to the fullest
extenthas Frederick Douglass passed through every gradation of
rank comprised in our national make-upand 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
bentto active toil and visible progressare in the strictly
national directiondelighting to outstrip "all creation."

Nor have the natural giftsalready named as hislost anything
by his severe training. When unexcitedhis mental processes are
probably slowbut singularly clear in perceptionand wide in
visionthe unfailing memory bringing up all the facts in their
every aspect; incongruities he lays hold of incontinentlyand
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 senseand 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 disunionif 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
freedomat Pittsburghin 1852where he towered among the
highestbecausewith abilities inferior to noneand moved more
deeply than anythere was neither policy nor party to trammel
the outpourings of his soul. Thus we findopposed to all
disadvantages which a black man in the United States labors and
struggles underis this one vantage ground--when the chance
comesand the audience where he may have a sayhe stands forth
the freestmost deeply moved and most earnest of all men.

It has been said of Mr. Douglassthat his descriptive and
declamatory powersadmitted 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>logicnature 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. _"Yesif indeed thou artwherefore dost thou suffer
us to be slain?"_ is the only prayer and worship of the Godforsaken
Dodos in the heart of Africa. Almost the same was his
prayer. One of his earliest observations was that white children
should know their ageswhile 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 soundand music of
the spiritcould not consociate with miserable degradation.

To such a mindthe ordinary processes of logical deduction are
like proving that two and two make four. Mastering the
intermediate steps by an intuitive glanceor recurring to them
as Ferguson resorted to geometryit goes down to the deeper
relation of thingsand brings out what may seemto somemere
statementsbut which are new and brilliant generalizationseach
resting on a broad and stable basis. ThusChief Justice
Marshall gave his decisionsand then told Brother Story to look
up the authorities--and they never differed from him. Thus
alsoin 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 natureto
Philadelphiaand in a meeting composed mostly of his colored
brethrenMr. 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 conditionand could be
conquered by the efforts of the degraded themselves. A gentleman
presentdistinguished for logical acumen and subtletyand who
had devoted no small portion of the last twenty-five years to the
study and elucidation of this very questionheld the opposite
viewthat prejudice is innate and unconquerable. He terminated
a series of well dove-tailedSocratic questions to Mr. Douglass
with the following: `If the legislature at Harrisburgh should
awakento-morrow morningand find each man's skin turned black
and his hair woollywhat 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. Douglassis his
style in writing and speaking. In March1855he 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 audienceand their
rapt attention to the speakeras the grandest scene he ever
witnessed in the capitol. Among those whose eyes were riveted on
the speaker full two hours and a halfwere Thurlow Weed and
Lieutenant Governor Raymond; the latterat the conclusion of the
addressexclaimed to a friendI 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 Dartmoutha rising politician
ranking foremost in the legislature; of coursehis ideal of
oratory must be of the most polished and finished description.

The style of Mr. Douglass in writingis to me an intellectual
puzzle. The strengthaffluence and terseness may easily be
accounted forbecause the style of a man is the man; but how are
we to account for that rare polish in his style of writing
whichmost critically examinedseems the result of careful
early culture among the best classics of our language; it equals
if it does not surpass the style of Hugh Millerwhich was the
wonder of the British literary publicuntil he unraveled the
mystery in the most interesting of autobiographies. But
Frederick Douglass was still calking the seams of Baltimore
clippersand 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
admitalthough sorry to do sothat the Caucasian predominates."
At that timeI almost agreed with him; butfacts narrated in
the first part of this workthrow 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 sidewe 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 netsher perseverance
in using themand her wide-spread fame in the agricultural way
he addsIt 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 meand 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 readand that she was the _only_ one of all the
slaves and colored people in Tuckahoe who enjoyed that advantage.
How she acquired this knowledgeI know notfor Tuckahoe is the
last place in the world where she would be apt to find facilities
for learning." (p. 57.) "There isin _Prichard's Natural
History of Man_the head of a figure--on page 157--the features
of which so resemble those of my motherthat 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
Greatan Egyptian king of the nineteenth dynasty. The authors
of the _Types of Mankind_ give a side view of the same on page
148remarking that the profilelike Napoleon's, is superbly
European!The nearness of its resemblance to Mr. Douglass'
mother rests upon the evidence of his memoryand judging from
his almost marvelous feats of recollection of forms and outlines
recorded in this bookthis testimony may be admitted.

These facts show that for his energyperseveranceeloquence
invectivesagacityand wide sympathyhe 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 wieldsin common with
DumasIra Aldridgeand Miss Greenfieldwould seem to be the
result of the grafting of the Anglo-Saxon on goodoriginal
Negro stock. If the friends of "Caucasus" choose to claimfor
that regionwhat 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 Caucasusare
and have ever beenMongols. The great "white race" now seek
paternityaccording to Dr. Pickeringin Arabia--"Arida Nutrix"
of the best breed of horses &c. Keep ongentlemen; you will
find yourselves in Africaby-and-by. The Egyptianslike the
Americanswere a _mixed race_with some Negro blood circling
around the throneas well as in the mud hovels.

This is the proper place to remark of our authorthat the same
strong self-hoodwhich led him to measure strength with Mr.
Coveyand to wrench himself from the embrace of the
Garrisoniansand which has borne him through many resistances to
the personal indignities offered him as a colored mansometimes
becomes a hyper-sensitiveness to such assaults as men of his mark

will meet withon paper. Keen and unscrupulous opponents have
soughtand not unsuccessfullyto pierce him in this direction;
for well they knowthat if assailedhe will smite back.

It is not without a feeling of pridedear readerthat I present
you with this book. The son of a self-emancipated bond-womanI
feel joy in introducing to you my brotherwho has rent his own
bondsand whoin his every relation--as a public manas 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 mebidding him to strive and emulate its noble
example. You may do likewise. It is an American bookfor
Americansin the fullest sense of the idea. It shows that the
worst of our institutionsin its worst aspectcannot keep down
energytruthfulnessand earnest struggle for the right. It
proves the <21>justice and practicability of Immediate
Emancipation. It shows that any man in our landno 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 countyEastern ShoreMarylandnear Eastonthe
county town of that countythere is a small district of country
thinly populatedand remarkable for nothing that I know of more
than for the worn-outsandydesert-like appearance of its soil
the general dilapidation of its farms and fencesthe indigent
and spiritless character of its inhabitantsand the prevalence
of ague and fever.

The name of this singularly unpromising and truly famine stricken
district is Tuckahoea name well known to all Marylandersblack
and white. It was given to this section of country probablyat
the firstmerely in derision; or it may possibly have been
applied to itas I have heardbecause 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_
thereforeisin Maryland parlance_Tuckahoe_. Butwhatever
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 derisionon
account of the barrenness of its soiland the ignorance
indolenceand poverty of its people. Decay and ruin are
everywhere visibleand the thin population of the place would
have quitted it long agobut for the Choptank riverwhich runs

through itfrom which they take abundance of shad and herring
and plenty of ague and fever.

It was in this dullflatand unthrifty districtor
neighborhoodsurrounded by a white population of the lowest
orderindolent and drunken to a proverband among slaveswho
seemed to ask_"Oh! what's the use?"_ every time they lifted a
hoethat I--without any fault of mine was bornand spent the
first years of my childhood.

The reader will pardon so much about the place of my birthon
the score that it is always a fact of some importance to know
where a man is bornifindeedit be important to know anything
about him. In regard to the _time_ of my birthI cannot be as
definite as I have been respecting the _place_. Norindeedcan
I impart much knowledge concerning my parents. Genealogical
trees do not flourish among slaves. A person of some consequence
here in the northsometimes 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 yearnor of the days of the
month. They keep no family recordswith marriagesbirthsand
deaths. They measure the ages of their children by spring time
winter timeharvest timeplanting timeand 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 upthat my master--and
this is the case with masters generally--allowed no questions to
be put to himby which a slave might learn his <27
GRANDPARENTS>age. Such questions deemed evidence of impatience
and even of impudent curiosity. From certain eventshowever
the dates of which I have since learnedI 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 lifeand had long lived on the spot where they then resided.
They were considered old settlers in the neighborhoodandfrom
certain circumstancesI infer that my grandmotherespecially
was held in high esteemfar higher than is the lot of most
colored persons in the slave states. She was a good nurseand a
capital hand at making nets for catching shad and herring; and
these nets were in great demandnot only in Tuckahoebut at
Denton and Hillsboroneighboring villages. She was not only
good at making the netsbut 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 potatoesand 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 diggingand in placing it beyond the reach of
frostby actually burying it under the hearth of her cabin
during the winter months. In the time of planting sweet
potatoesGrandmother Betty,as she was familiarly calledwas
sent for in all directionssimply to place the seedling potatoes
in the hills; for superstition had itthat if "Grandmamma Betty
but touches them at plantingthey 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>lifeyet of such as it did possess
grandmother got a full sharein the way of presents. If good
potato crops came after her plantingshe 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 hutor cabinbuilt of claywood
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
howeverit was a noble structureadmirably adapted to promote
the comforts and conveniences of its inmates. A few rough
Virginia fence-railsflung loosely over the rafters above
answered the triple purpose of floorsceilingsand bedsteads.
To be surethis upper apartment was reached only by a ladder-but
what in the world for climbing could be better than a ladder?
To methis ladder was really a high inventionand 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
serviceor because she had so faithfully discharged the duties
of her station in early lifeI know not--enjoyed the high
privilege of living in a cabinseparate from the quarterwith
no other burden than her own supportand the necessary care of
the little childrenimposed. She evidently esteemed it a great
fortune to live so. The children were not her ownbut her
grandchildren--the children of her daughters. She took delight
in having them around herand in attending to their few wants.
The practice of separating children from their motherand hiring
the latter out at distances too great to admit of their meeting
except at long intervalsis a marked feature of the cruelty and
barbarity of the slave system. But it is in harmony with the
grand aim of slaverywhichalways and everywhereis 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
slaveall just ideas of the sacredness of _the family_as an

Most of the childrenhoweverin this instancebeing the
children of my grandmother's daughtersthe notions of family
and the reciprocal duties and benefits of the relationhad a
better chance of being understood than where children are
placed--as they often are in the hands of strangerswho have no
care for themapart from the wishes of their masters. The
daughters of my grandmother were five in number. Their names
last named was my motherof whom the reader shall learn more byand-

Living herewith my dear old grandmother and grandfatherit 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 grandmammafor a time there was nothing to
disturb me; butas I grew larger and olderI learned by degrees
the sad factthat 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 lotbut that grandmother herself
(grandfather was free) and all the little children around her

belonged to this mysterious personagecalled by grandmother
with every mark of reverenceOld 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 factstill 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 intelligenceand mostly spent
my childhood days in gleesome sports with the other childrena
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 coldcruel ironand left
me something to brood over after the play and in moments of
repose. Grandmammy wasindeedat that timeall the world to
me; and the thought of being separated from herin any
considerable timewas 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. SLAVEchildren
_are_ childrenand prove no exceptions to the general
rule. The liability to be separated from my grandmotherseldom
or never to see her againhaunted 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 passesand our sable boy
continues to roll in the dustor play in the mudas bests suits
himand in the veriest freedom. If he feels uncomfortablefrom
mud or from dustthe coast is clear; he can plunge into <32>the
river or the pondwithout the ceremony of undressingor 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 kindconsisting
for the most part of cornmeal mushwhich often finds it way from
the wooden tray to his mouth in an oyster shell. His dayswhen
the weather is warmare spent in the pureopen airand in the
bright sunshine. He always sleeps in airy apartments; he seldom
has to take powdersor to be paid to swallow pretty little
sugar-coated pillsto cleanse his bloodor to quicken his
appetite. He eats no candies; gets no lumps of loaf sugar;
always relishes his food; cries but littlefor nobody cares for
his crying; learns to esteem his bruises but slightbecause
others so esteem them. In a wordhe isfor the most part of
the first eight years of his lifea spiritedjoyous
uproariousand happy boyupon whom troubles fall only like
water on a duck's back. And such a boyso far as I can now
rememberwas 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 cabinunder
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
hairwhich 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 figureelasticand
muscular. I seemed hardly to be a burden to her. She would have
totedme fartherbut that I felt myself too much of a man to
allow itand insisted on walking. Releasing dear grandmamma
from carrying medid 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 gripand holding her clothinglest
something should come out of the woods and eat me up. Several
old logs and stumps imposed upon meand got themselves taken for
wild beasts. I could see their legseyesand earsor I could
see something like eyeslegsand earstill I got close enough
to them to see that the eyes were knotswashed white with rain
and the legs were broken limbsand the earsonly 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;
blackbrowncopper coloredand nearly white. I had not seen
so many children before. Great houses loomed up in different
directionsand a great many men and women were at work in the
fields. All this hurrynoiseand singing was very different
from the stillness of Tuckahoe. As a new comerI was an object
of special interest; andafter laughing and yelling around me
and playing all sorts of wild tricksthey (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 affectionas she had lost
many before. I knew she was unhappyand the shadow fell from
her brow on methough I knew not the cause.

All suspensehowevermust have an end; and the end of minein
this instancewas at hand. Affectionately patting me on the
headand exhorting me to be a good boygrandmamma 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
PhilTomSteveand JerryNance and Betty.

Grandmother pointed out my brother PERRYmy sister SARAHand my
sister ELIZAwho 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 themand felt a curious interest
in themI really did not understand what they were to meor I
to them. We were brothers and sistersbut what of that? Why
should they be attached to meor I to them? Brothers and
sisters we were by blood; but _slavery_ had made us strangers. I
heard the words brother and sistersand knew they must mean
something; but slavery had robbed these terms of their true
meaning. The experience through which I was passingthey had
passed through before. They had already been initiated into the
mysteries of old master's domicileand they seemed to look upon

me with a certain degree of compassion; but my heart clave to my
grandmother. Think it not strangedear readerthat 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 motherlike many other slavewomen
had many _children_but NO FAMILY! The domestic hearth
with its holy lessons and precious endearmentsis 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, FedFed!
grandmammy gone! grandmammy gone!" I could not believe it; yet
fearing the worstI ran into the kitchento see for myselfand
found it even so. Grandmammy had indeed goneand was now far
awaycleanout of sight. I need not tell all that happened
now. Almost heart-broken at the discoveryI fell upon the
groundand <38>wept a boy's bitter tearsrefusing to be
comforted. My brother and sisters came around meand said
Don't cry,and gave me peaches and pearsbut I flung them
awayand 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 grandmotherbut 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 oneand I knew not how or wherebut I suppose I
sobbed myself to sleep. There is a healing in the angel wing of
sleepeven for the slave-boy; and its balm was never more
welcome to any wounded soul than it was to minethe first night
I spent at the domicile of old master. The reader may be
surprised that I narrate so minutely an incident apparently so
trivialand 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 slaveryI cannot withhold a circumstance whichat
the timeaffected me so deeply. Besidesthis wasin factmy
first introduction to the realities of slavery.



If the reader will now be kind enough to allow me time to grow
biggerand afford me an opportunity for my experience to become
greaterI will tell him somethingby-and-byof slave lifeas
I sawfeltand heard iton Col. Edward Lloyd's plantationand
at the house of old masterwhere I had nowdespite of myself
most suddenlybut not unexpectedlybeen dropped. MeanwhileI
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 fathersas
it does away with families. Slavery has no use for either
fathers or familiesand its laws do not recognize their
existence in the social arrangements of the plantation. When
they _do_ existthey are not the outgrowths of slaverybut 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 fatherand his condition does not necessarily affect that
of the child. He may be the slave of Mr. Tilgman; and his child
when bornmay be the slave of Mr. Gross. He may be a _freeman;_
and yet his child may be a _chattel_. He may be whiteglorying
in the purity of his Anglo-<40>Saxon blood; and his child may be
ranked with the blackest slaves. Indeedhe _may_ beand often
_is_master and father to the same child. He can be father
without being a husbandand may sell his child without incurring
reproachif 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 returnor ratherto begin. My knowledge of my mother is
very scantybut very distinct. Her personal appearance and
bearing are ineffaceably stamped upon my memory. She was tall
and finely proportioned; of deep blackglossy complexion; had
regular featuresandamong the other slaveswas 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 motherthat 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 separatedaccording to the
common customwhen I was but an infantandof coursebefore I
knew my mother from any one else.

The germs of affection with which the Almightyin his wisdom and
mercyarms the hopeless infant against the ills and vicissitudes
of his lothad been directed in their growth toward that loving
old grandmotherwhose gentle hand and kind deportment it was in
the first effort of my infantile understanding to comprehend and
appreciate. Accordinglythe tenderest affection which a
beneficent Father allowsas a partial compensation to the mother
for the pains and lacerations of her heartincident to the
maternal relationwasin my casediverted from its true and
natural objectby the enviousgreedyand 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
anguishwhen it adds another name to a master's ledgerbut
_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 affectionsand its
diverting them from their natural coursewithout 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 plantationand in the kitchen of my old master. Her
visits to me there were few in numberbrief in durationand
mostly made in the night. The pains she tookand the toil she
enduredto see metells 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. Stewartwho lived about twelve
miles from old master'sandbeing a field handshe seldom had
leisureby dayfor the performance of the journey. The nights
and the distance were both obstacles to her visits. She was
obliged to walkunless 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 affordto allow a black slave-mother a horse
or a muleupon which to travel twenty-four mileswhen she could
walk the distance. Besidesit is deemed a foolish whim for a
slave-mother to manifest concern to see her childrenandin one
point of viewthe case is made out--she can do nothing for them.
She has no control over them; the master is even more than the
motherin all matters touching the fate of her child. Why
thenshould she give herself any concern? She has no
responsibility. Such is the reasoningand such the practice.
The iron rule of the plantationalways passionately and
violently enforced in that neighborhoodmakes flogging the
penalty of <42>failing to be in the field before sunrise in the
morningunless 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 instancefor my
offenses were numerous in that quartergreatly depending
howeverupon the mood of Aunt Katyas to their heinousness; but
she had adoptedthat dayher favorite mode of punishing me
namelymaking me go without food all day--that isfrom after
breakfast. The first hour or two after dinnerI succeeded
pretty well in keeping up my spirits; but though I made an
excellent stand against the foeand fought bravely during the
afternoonI knew I must be conquered at lastunless I got the
accustomed reenforcement of a slice of corn breadat sundown.
Sundown camebut _no bread_andin its steadtheir came the
threatwith a scowl well suited to its terrible importthat she
meant to _starve the life out of me!_ Brandishing her knife
she chopped off the heavy slices for the other childrenand put
the loaf awaymutteringall the whileher savage designs upon
myself. Against this disappointmentfor I was expecting that
her heart would relent at lastI made an extra effort to
maintain my dignity; but when I saw all the other children around
me with merry and satisfied facesI could stand it no longer. I
went out behind the houseand cried like a fine fellow! When
tired of thisI returned to the kitchensat by the fireand
brooded over my hard lot. I was too hungry to sleep. While I
sat in the cornerI caught sight of an ear of Indian corn on an
upper shelf of the kitchen. I watched my chanceand got it
andshelling off a few grainsI put it back again. The grains
in my handI quickly put in some ashesand covered them with
embersto roast them. All this I <43 "AUNT KATY">did at the
risk of getting a brutual thumpingfor Aunt Katy could beatas
well as starve me. My corn was not long in roastingandwith
my keen appetiteit did not matter even if the grains were not
exactly done. I eagerly pulled them outand placed them on my
stoolin a clever little pile. Just as I began to help myself
to my very dry mealin came my dear mother. And nowdear

readera scene occurred which was altogether worth beholding
and to me it was instructive as well as interesting. The
friendless and hungry boyin 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 wasat 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 countenancewhen 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 meand a fiery indignation at Aunt Katy at the same
time; andwhile she took the corn from meand gave me a large
ginger cakein its steadshe read Aunt Katy a lecture which she
never forgot. My mother threatened her with complaining to old
master in my behalf; for the latterthough harsh and cruel
himselfat timesdid not sanction the meannessinjustice
partiality and oppressions enacted by Aunt Katy in the kitchen.
That night I learned the factthat I wasnot only a childbut
_somebody's_ child. The "sweet cake" my mother gave me was in
the shape of a heartwith a richdark ring glazed upon the edge
of it. I was victoriousand well off for the moment; prouder
on my mother's kneethan a king upon his throne. But my triumph
was short. I dropped off to sleepand waked in the morning only
to find my mother goneand myself left at the mercy of the sable
viragodominant in my old master's kitchenwhose 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 itI believea life judging from her
wearysaddown-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 childeven at the bed of
death. The motherat the verge of the gravemay not gather her
childrento impart to them her holy admonitionsand invoke for
them her dying benediction. The bond-woman lives as a slaveand
is left to die as a beast; often with fewer attentions than are
paid to a favorite horse. Scenes of sacred tendernessaround
the death-bednever forgottenand which often arrest the
vicious and confirm the virtuous during lifemust be looked for
among the freethough they sometimes occur among the slaves. It
has been a life-longstanding grief to methat 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 memoryand I take few steps in
lifewithout feeling her presence; but the image is muteand I
have no striking words of her's treasured up.

I learnedafter my mother's deaththat she could readand that
she was the _only_ one of all the slaves and colored people in
Tuckahoe who enjoyed that advantage. How she acquired this
knowledgeI know notfor Tuckahoe is the last place in the
world where she would be apt to find facilities for learning. I
canthereforefondly and proudly ascribe to her an earnest love
of knowledge. That a "field hand" should learn to readin any
slave stateis remarkable; but the achievement of my mother
considering the placewas very extraordinary; andin view of
that factI am quite willingand even happyto attribute any
love of letters I possessand for which I have got--despite of
prejudices only too much credit_not_ to my admitted Anglo-Saxon
paternitybut to the native genius of my sableunprotectedand
uncultivated _mother_--a womanwho belonged to a race <45

PENALTY FOR HAVING A WHITE FATHER>whose mental endowments it is
at presentfashionable to hold in disparagement and contempt.

Summoned away to her accountwith the impassable gulf of slavery
between us during her entire illnessmy mother died without
leaving me a single intimation of _who_ my father was. There was
a whisperthat my master was my father; yet it was only a
whisperand I cannot say that I ever gave it credence. Indeed
I now have reason to think he was not; neverthelessthe fact
remainsin all its glaring odiousnessthatby the laws of
slaverychildrenin all casesare reduced to the condition of
their mothers. This arrangement admits of the greatest license
to brutal slaveholdersand their profligate sonsbrothers
relations and friendsand gives to the pleasure of sinthe
additional attraction of profit. A whole volume might be written
on this single feature of slaveryas I have observed it.

One might imaginethat the children of such connectionswould
fare betterin the hands of their mastersthan 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 bloodmay 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 worseperhapssuch a child is a
constant offense to the wife. She hates its very presenceand
when a slaveholding woman hatesshe wants not means to give that
hate telling effect. Women--white womenI mean--are IDOLS at
the southnot WIVESfor the slave women are preferred in many
instances; and if these _idols_ but nodor lift a fingerwoe to
the poor victim: kickscuffs and stripes are sure to follow.
Masters are frequently compelled to sell this class of their
slavesout 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 fleshit 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 storyto
comment upon every phase of slavery not within my experience as a

ButI may remarkthatif the lineal descendants of Ham are
only to be enslavedaccording to the scripturesslavery in this
country will soon become an unscriptural institution; for
thousands are ushered into the worldannuallywho--like
myself--owe their existence to white fathersandmost
frequentlyto their mastersand master's sons. The slave-woman
is at the mercy of the fatherssons or brothers of her master.
The thoughtful know the rest.

After what I have now said of the circumstances of my motherand
my relations to herthe reader will not be surprisednor be
disposed to censure mewhen I tell but the simple truthviz:
that I received the tidings of her death with no strong emotions
of sorrow for herand with very little regret for myself on
account of her loss. I had to learn the value of my mother long
after her deathand by witnessing the devotion of other mothers
to their children.

There is notbeneath the skyan enemy to filial affection so
destructive as slavery. It had made my brothers and sisters
strangers to me; it converted the mother that bore meinto a

myth; it shrouded my father in mysteryand left me without an
intelligible beginning in the world.

My mother died when I could not have been more than eight or nine
years oldon one of old master's farms in Tuckahoein the
neighborhood of Hillsborough. Her grave isas the grave of the
dead at seaunmarkedand without stone or stake.

_A General Survey of the Slave Plantation_


It is generally supposed that slaveryin the state of Maryland
exists in its mildest formand that it is totally divested of
those harsh and terrible peculiaritieswhich mark and
characterize the slave systemin the southern and south-western
states of the American union. The argument in favor of this
opinionis the contiguity of the free statesand the exposed
condition of slavery in Maryland to the moralreligious and
humane sentiment of the free states.

I am not about to refute this argumentso far as it relates to
slavery in that stategenerally; on the contraryI am willing
to admit thatto this general pointthe arguments is well
grounded. Public opinion isindeedan unfailing restraint upon
the cruelty and barbarity of mastersoverseersand slave-
driverswhenever and wherever it can reach them; but there are
certain secluded and out-of-the-way placeseven in the state of
Marylandseldom visited by a single ray of healthy public
sentiment--<48>where slaverywrapt 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 shudderingand murderous without apprehension or
fear of exposure.

Just such a secludeddarkand out-of-the-way placeis the
home plantationof Col. Edward Lloydon the Eastern Shore
Maryland. It is far away from all the great thoroughfaresand
is proximate to no town or village. There is neither school-
housenor town-house in its neighborhood. The school-house is
unnecessaryfor there are no children to go to school. The
children and grand-children of Col. Lloyd were taught in the
houseby a private tutor--a Mr. Page a tallgaunt sapling of a
manwho did not speak a dozen words to a slave in a whole year.
The overseers' children go off somewhere to school; and they
thereforebring 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 indignationat
cruelty and wrong on other plantations--are white menon this
plantation. Its whole public is made up ofand divided into

blacksmithswheelwrightsshoemakersweaversand coopersare
slaves. Not even commerceselfish and iron-hearted at it is
and readyas it ever isto 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 secretsI know notbut it is a factthe
every leaf and grain of the produce of this plantationand those
of the neighboring farms belonging to Col. Lloydare 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 plantationcomes through the same
channel. Thuseven the glimmering and unsteady light of trade
which sometimes exerts a civilizing influenceis excluded from
this "tabooed" spot.

Nearly all the plantations or farms in the vicinity of the "home
plantation" of Col. Lloydbelong to him; and those which do not
are owned by personal friends of hisas deeply interested in
maintaining the slave systemin all its rigoras Col. Lloyd
himself. Some of his neighbors are said to be even more
stringent than he. The Skinnersthe Peakersthe Tilgmansthe
Lockermansand the Gipsonsare in the same boat; being
slaveholding neighborsthey may have strengthened each other in
their iron rule. They are on intimate termsand their interests
and tastes are identical.

Public opinion in such a quarterthe reader will seeis not
likely to very efficient in protecting the slave from cruelty.
On the contraryit must increase and intensify his wrongs.
Public opinion seldom differs very widely from public practice.
To be a restraint upon cruelty and vicepublic opinion must
emanate from a humane and virtuous community. To no such humane
and virtuous communityis Col. Lloyd's plantation exposed. That
plantation is a little nation of its ownhaving its own
languageits own rulesregulations and customs. The laws and
institutions of the stateapparently touch it nowhere. The
troubles arising hereare not settled by the civil power of the
state. The overseer is generally accuserjudgejuryadvocate
and executioner. The criminal is always dumb. The overseer
attends to all sides of a case.

There are no conflicting rights of propertyfor 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 themin this neighborhoodonly when
they are able to pay for it. The slaveshaving no moneyget no
gospel. The politician keeps awaybecause the people have no
votesand the preacher keeps awaybecause the people have no
money. The rich planter can afford to learn politics in the
parlorand to dispense with religion altogether.

In its isolationseclusionand self-reliant independenceCol.
Lloyd's plantation resembles what the baronial domains were
during the middle ages in Europe. Grimcoldand unapproachable
by all genial influences from communities without_there it
stands;_ full three hundred years behind the agein all that
relates to humanity and morals.

Thishoweveris not the only view that the place presents.

Civilization is shut outbut nature cannot be. Though separated
from the rest of the world; though public opinionas I have
saidseldom gets a chance to penetrate its dark domain; though
the whole place is stamped with its own peculiarironlike
individuality; and though crimeshigh-handed and atrociousmay
there be committedwith almost as much impunity as upon the deck
of a pirate ship--it isneverthelessaltogetherto outward
seeminga most strikingly interesting placefull of life
activityand 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 latterI was
not long in adapting myself to thismy new home. A man's
troubles are always half disposed ofwhen he finds endurance his
only remedy. I found myself here; there was no getting away; and
what remained for mebut to make the best of it? Here were
plenty of children to play withand plenty of places of pleasant
resort for boys of my ageand boys older. The little tendrils
of affectionso rudely and treacherously broken from around the
darling objects of my grandmother's hutgradually began to
extendand 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 inat the bottom of an open flat spaceof twenty acres
or morecalled "the Long Green"--a very beautiful play-ground
for the children.

In the rivera short distance from the shorelying quietly at
anchorwith her small boat dancing at her sternwas 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 thingsfull of thoughts and ideas. A child cannot well
look at such objects without _thinking_.

Then here were a great many houses; human habitationsfull of
the mysteries of life at every stage of it. There was the little
red houseup the roadoccupied by Mr. Sevierthe overseer. A
little nearer to my old master'sstood a very longroughlow
buildingliterally alive with slavesof all agesconditions
and sizes. This was called "the Longe Quarter." Perched upon a
hillacross the Long Greenwas a very talldilapidatedold
brick building--the architectural dimensions of which proclaimed
its erection for a different purpose--now occupied by slavesin
a similar manner to the Long Quarter. Besides thesethere were
numerous other slave houses and hutsscattered around in the
neighborhoodevery nook and corner of which was completely
occupied. Old master's housea longbrick buildingplainbut
substantialstood in the center of the plantation lifeand
constituted one independent establishment on the premises of Col.

Besides these dwellingsthere were barnsstablesstore-houses
and tobacco-houses; blacksmiths' shopswheelwrights' shops
coopers' shops--all objects of interest; butabove allthere
stood the grandest building my eyes had then ever beheldcalled
by every one on the plantationthe "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 kitchenswashhouses

housespigeon-housesand arborsof many sizes and devicesall
neatly paintedand altogether interspersed with grand old trees
ornamental and primitivewhich afforded delightful shade in
<52>summerand imparted to the scene a high degree of stately
beauty. The great house itself was a largewhitewooden
buildingwith wings on three sides of it. In fronta large
porticoextending the entire length of the buildingand
supported by a long range of columnsgave to the whole
establishment an air of solemn grandeur. It was a treat to my
young and gradually opening mindto behold this elaborate
exhibition of wealthpowerand vanity. The carriage entrance
to the house was a large gatemore than a quarter of a mile
distant from it; the intermediate space was a beautiful lawn
very neatly trimmedand watched with the greatest care. It was
dotted thickly over with delightful treesshrubberyand
flowers. The roador lanefrom the gate to the great house
was richly paved with white pebbles from the beachandin its
courseformed a complete circle around the beautiful lawn.
Carriages going in and retiring from the great housemade the
circuit of the lawnand their passengers were permitted to
behold a scene of almost Eden-like beauty. Outside this select
inclosurewere parkswhere as about the residences of the
English nobility--rabbitsdeerand other wild gamemight be
seenpeering and playing aboutwith none to molest them or make
them afraid. The tops of the stately poplars were often covered
with the red-winged black-birdsmaking all nature vocal with the
joyous life and beauty of their wildwarbling notes. These all
belonged to meas well as to Col. Edward Lloydand for a time I
greatly enjoyed them.

A short distance from the great housewere the stately mansions
of the deada place of somber aspect. Vast tombsembowered
beneath the weeping willow and the fir treetold of the
antiquities of the Lloyd familyas 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 ghostsriding on great black horseshad been
seen to enter; balls of fire had been seen to fly there at
midnightand 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 soundsstrange and
terribleconnected with the huge black tombswere a very great
security to the grounds about themfor few of the slaves felt
like approaching them even in the day time. It was a dark
gloomy and forbidding placeand it was difficult to feel that
the spirits of the sleeping dust there depositedreigned with
the blest in the realms of eternal peace.

The business of twenty or thirty farms was transacted at this
calledby way of eminencegreat house farm.These farms all
belonged to Col. Lloydas didalsothe slaves upon them. Each
farm was under the management of an overseer. As I have said of
the overseer of the home plantationso I may say of the
overseers on the smaller ones; they stand between the slave and
all civil constitutions--their word is lawand is implicitly

The colonelat this timewas reputed to beand he apparently
wasvery rich. His slavesalonewere an immense fortune.
Thesesmall and greatcould not have been fewer than one
thousand in numberand though scarcely a month passed without
the sale of one or more lots to the Georgia tradersthere was no

apparent diminution in the number of his human stock: the home
plantation merely groaned at a removal of the young increaseor
human cropthen proceeded as lively as ever. Horse-shoeing
cart-mendingplow-repairingcooperinggrindingand weaving
for all the neighboring farmswere performed hereand 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 anybut
according to plantation _etiquette_as a mark of respectdue
<54>from the younger to the older slaves. Strangeand even
ridiculous as it may seemamong a people so uncultivatedand
with so many stern trials to look in the facethere is not to be
foundamong any peoplea more rigid enforcement of the law of
respect to eldersthan they maintain. I set this down as partly
constitutional with my raceand partly conventional. There is
no better material in the world for making a gentlemanthan is
furnished in the African. He shows to othersand exacts for
himselfall 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 handand woe betide himif he
fails to acknowledge a favorof any sortwith 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 plantationwas 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 northin this respectthat even
abolitionists make very little of the surname of a Negro. The
only improvement on the "Bills Jacks Jims and Neds" of
the southobservable here isthat "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 droppedhe generally had the prefix
doctor,in its stead. He was our doctor of medicineand
doctor of divinity as well. Where he took his degree I am unable
to sayfor he was not very communicative to inferiorsand I was
emphatically suchbeing but a boy seven or eight years old. He
was too well established in his profession to permit questions as
to his native skillor his attainments. One qualification he
undoubtedly had--he <55 PRAYING AND FLOGGING>was a confirmed
_cripple;_ and he could neither worknor would he bring anything
if offered for sale in the market. The old manthough lamewas
no sluggard. He was a man that made his crutches do him good
service. He was always on the alertlooking up the sickand
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 childrento learn the "Lord's Prayer." I found the old
gentleman seated on a huge three-legged oaken stoolarmed with
several large hickory switches; andfrom his positionhe could
reach--lame as he was--any boy in the room. After standing

awhile to learn what was expected of usthe old gentlemanin
any other than a devotional tonecommanded us to kneel down.
This donehe 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 prayerto give us
a short lecture upon the consequences of inattentionboth
immediate and futureand especially those more immediate. About
these he was absolutely certainfor 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 earsfollowed him to the best of our ability.
Thishoweverwas not sufficient to please the old gentleman.
Everybodyin the southwants the privilege of whipping somebody
else. Uncle Isaac shared the common passion of his countryand
thereforeseldom 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 slaveholderand is held as a sovereign remedy among the
slaves themselvesfor every form of disobediencetemporal or
spiritual. Slavesas well as slaveholdersuse it with an
unsparing hand. Our devotions at Uncle Isaac's combined too much
of the tragic and comicto make them very salutary in a
spiritual point of view; and it is due to truth to sayI 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. Kinneya kind hearted old
Englishmanwas to me a source of infinite interest and pleasure.
The old man always seemed pleased when he saw a troop of darkey
little urchinswith their tow-linen shirts fluttering in the
breezeapproaching to view and admire the whirling wings of his
wondrous machine. From the mill we could see other objects of
deep interest. These werethe vessels from St. Michael'son
their way to Baltimore. It was a source of much amusement to
view the flowing sails and complicated riggingas the little
crafts dashed byand to speculate upon Baltimoreas to the kind
and quality of the place. With so many sources of interest
around methe 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 crabsclams and oysters
were to be caught by wadingdigging and raking for them. Here
was a field for industry and enterprisestrongly inviting; and
the reader may be assured that I entered upon it with spirit.

Even the much dreaded old masterwhose merciless fiat had
brought me from Tuckahoegraduallyto my mindparted with his
terrors. Strange enoughhis reverence seemed to take no
particular notice of menor of my coming. Instead of leaping
out and devouring mehe scarcely seemed conscious of my
presence. The fact ishe 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 adventas he would have thought of the addition of a single
pig to his stock!

As the chief butler on Col. Lloyd's plantationhis 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 himand received the law from his mouth.
The colonel himself seldom addressed an overseeror 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 graintobaccoand all saleable
produce of the plantation to marketand had the general
oversight of the coopers' shopwheelwrights' shopblacksmiths'
shopand shoemakers' shop. Besides the care of thesehe often
had business for the plantation which required him to be absent
two and three days.

Thus largely employedhe had little timeand perhaps as little
dispositionto interfere with the children individually. What
he was to Col. Lloydhe made Aunt Katy to him. When he had
anything to say or do about usit was said or done in a
wholesale manner; disposing of us in classes or sizesleaving
all minor details to Aunt Katya 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 herno matter how broad that authority might
be. Ambitiousill-tempered and cruelshe 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 cookand she really was very
industrious. She wasthereforegreatly favored by old master
and as one mark of his favorshe 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 Philone dayin <58>my presencewith a huge butcher
knifeand dealt a blow with its edge which left a shocking gash
on his armnear the wrist. For thisold master did sharply
rebuke herand threatened that if she ever should do the like
againhe would take the skin off her back. Cruelhoweveras
Aunt Katy was to her own childrenat times she was not destitute
of maternal feelingas I often had occasion to knowin the
bitter pinches of hunger I had to endure. Differing from the
practice of Col. Lloydold masterinstead of allowing so much
for each slavecommitted the allowance for all to the care of
Aunt Katyto be divided after cooking itamongst us. The
allowanceconsisting of coarse corn-mealwas not very
abundant--indeedit was very slender; and in passing through
Aunt Katy's handsit was made more slender stillfor some of
us. WilliamPhil and Jerry were her childrenand it is not to
accuse her too severelyto allege that she was often guilty of
starving myself and the other childrenwhile 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 breadbut they soon failed in the
absence of bread. I speak but the simple truthwhen I sayI
have often been so pinched with hungerthat I have fought with
the dog--"Old Nep"--for the smallest crumbs that fell from the
kitchen tableand have been glad when I won a single crumb in
the combat. Many times have I followedwith eager stepthe
waiting-girl when she went out to shake the table clothto get
the crumbs and small bones flung out for the cats. The waterin
which meat had been boiledwas 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 baconwas a
positive luxury. NeverthelessI sometimes got full meals and
kind words from sympathizing old slaveswho knew my sufferings
and received the comforting assurance that I should be a man some

day. "Never mindhoney--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 notprobablyin the whole
southa 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 writingthere 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?"_ meansWhom do you belong to?_"Oo dem
got any peachy?"_ meansHave you got any peaches?I could
scarcely understand them when I first went among themso broken
was their speech; and I am persuaded that I could not have been
dropped anywhere on the globewhere I could reap lessin the
way of knowledgefrom my immediate associatesthan 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 slavesand 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
thereforebrought him seven or eight hundred dollars a year
besides his yearly salaryand 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.

Suchkind readerwas the communityand such the placein
which my earliest and most lasting impressions of slaveryand of
slave-lifewere 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 attentionand
although that little was of a remarkably mild and gentle
descriptiona 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 couldwhen it suited him
appear to be literally insensible to the claims of humanitywhen
appealed to by the helpless against an aggressorand he could
himself commit outragesdeepdark and nameless. Yet he was not
by nature worse than other men. Had he been brought up in a free
statesurrounded 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 respectableas many who now oppose the slave
system; certainly as humane and respectable as are members of
society generally. The slaveholderas well as the slaveis 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 characterthan that sustained by
the slaveholder to the slave. Reason is imprisoned hereand
passions run wild. Like the fires of the prairieonce lighted
they are at the mercy of every windand must burntill they
have consumed all that is combustible within their remorseless
grasp. Capt. Anthony could be kindandat timeshe 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 headspeaking to me in softcaressing 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
thatand 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 violentending with a
threatening shake of the headand a sharp snap of his middle
finger and thumbI deemed it wise to keep at a respectable
distance from him; forat such timestrifling faults stoodin
his eyesas momentous offenses; andhaving both the power and
the dispositionthe victim had only to be near him to catch the
punishmentdeserved or undeserved.

One of the first circumstances that opened my eyes to the cruelty
and wickedness of slaveryand the heartlessness of my old
masterwas the refusal of the latter to interpose his authority
to protect and shield a young womanwho had been most cruelly
abused and beaten by his overseer in Tuckahoe. This overseer--a
Mr. Plummer--was a man like most of his classlittle better than
a human brute; andin addition to his general profligacy and
repulsive coarsenessthe creature was a miserable drunkard. He
wasprobablyemployed by my old masterless on account of the
excellence of his servicesthan 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 madnesshe 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
Millyan own aunt of mine. The poor girlon arriving at our
housepresented a pitiable appearance. She had left in haste
and without preparation; andprobablywithout the knowledge of
Mr. Plummer. She had traveled twelve milesbare-footedbarenecked
and bare-headed. Her neck and shoulders <64>were covered
with scarsnewly made; and not content with marring her neck and
shoulderswith the cowhidethe cowardly brute had dealt her a
blow on the head with a hickory clubwhich cut a horrible gash
and left her face literally covered with blood. In this
conditionthe poor young woman came downto implore protection
at the hands of my old master. I expected to see him boil over
with rage at the revolting deedand to hear him fill the air
with curses upon the brutual Plummer; but I was disappointed. He
sternly told herin an angry tonehe "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 slaveholding

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.
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 scenewith all its attendantswas 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 stripesold master untied his suffering victimand let
her get down. She could scarcely standwhen untied. From my
heart I pitied herand--child though I was--the outrage kindled
in me a feeling far from peaceful; but I was hushedterrified
stunnedand could do nothingand the fate of Esther might be
mine next. The scene here described was often repeated in the
case of poor Estherand her lifeas I knew itwas one of

_Treatment of Slaves on Lloyd's Plantation_


The heart-rending incidentsrelated in the foregoing chapter
led methus earlyto inquire into the nature and history of
slavery. _Why am I a slave? Why are some people slavesand
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 thoughtsand to exercise the weak
powers of my mindfor I was still but a childand 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 olderand little better informed than myselfI was not
rapid in reaching a solid footing. By some means I learned from
these inquiries that _"Godup 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."
NeverthelessI could not reconcile the relation of slavery with
my crude notions of goodness.

ThentooI found that there were puzzling exceptions to this
theory of slavery on both sidesand 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_ whitewho
were slaves. _Color_thereforewas a very unsatisfactory basis
for slavery.

Oncehoweverengaged in the inquiryI 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 truthviz: what man can makeman
can unmake. The appalling darkness faded awayand I was master
of the subject. There were slaves heredirect from Guinea; and
there were many who could say that their fathers and mothers were
stolen from Africa--forced from their homesand compelled to
serve as slaves. Thisto mewas knowledge; but it was a kind
of knowledge which filled me with a burning hatred of slavery
increased my sufferingand 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
oldwhen I began to make this subject my study. It was with me
in the woods and fields; along the shore of the riverand
wherever my boyish wanderings led me; and though I wasat that
time<71 EARLY REFLECTIONS ON SLAVERY>quite ignorant of the
existence of the free statesI 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 Tuckahoewho had been so badly beaten by the cruel
Mr. Plummermy attention had not been calledespeciallyto the
gross features of slavery. I hadof courseheard of whippings
and of savage _rencontres_ between overseers and slavesbut I
had always been out of the way at the times and places of their
occurrence. My plays and sportsmost of the timetook me from
the corn and tobacco fieldswhere the great body of the hands
were at workand where scenes of cruelty were enacted and
witnessed. Butafter the whipping of Aunt EstherI saw many
cases of the same shocking naturenot only in my master's house
but on Col. Lloyd's plantation. One of the first which I saw
and which greatly agitated mewas the whipping of a woman
belonging to Col. Lloydnamed Nelly. The offense alleged
against Nellywas one of the commonest and most indefinite in
the whole catalogue of offenses usually laid to the charge of
slavesviz: "impudence." This may mean almost anythingor
nothing at alljust according to the caprice of the master or
overseerat the moment. Butwhatever it isor is notif 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 sloopand the mother
of five sprightly children. She was a vigorous and spirited
womanand one of the most likelyon the plantationto be

guilty of impudence. My attention was called to the sceneby
the noisecurses and screams that proceeded from it; andon
going a little in that directionI came upon the parties engaged
in the skirmish. Mr. Sieverthe overseerhad hold of Nelly
when I caught sight of them; he was endeavoring to drag her
toward a treewhich endeavor Nelly was sternly resisting; but to
no purposeexcept to retard the progress of the overseer's
plans. Nelly--as I have said--was the mother of five children;
three of them were presentand though quite small (from seven to
ten years oldI should think) they gallantly came to their
mother's defenseand gave the overseer an excellent pelting with
stones. One of the little fellows ran upseized the overseer by
the leg and bit him; but the monster was too busily engaged with
Nellyto pay any attention to the assaults of the children.
There were numerous bloody marks on Mr. Sevier's facewhen I
first saw himand they increased as the struggle went on. The
imprints of Nelly's fingers were visibleand I was glad to see
them. Amidst the wild screams of the children--"_Let my mammy
go"--"let my mammy go_"--there escapedfrom between the teeth of
the bullet-headed overseera few bitter cursesmingled with
threatsthat "he would teach the d--d b--h how to give a white
man impudence." There is no doubt that Nelly felt herself
superiorin some respectsto the slaves around her. She was a
wife and a mother; her husband was a valued and favorite slave.
Besideshe was one of the first hands on board of the sloopand
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 kindno doubtinfluenced her;
butfor whatever reasonshe nobly resistedandunlike most of
determined to make her whipping cost Mr. Sevier as much as
possible. The blood on his (and her) faceattested her skill
as well as her courage and dexterity in using her nails.
Maddened by her resistanceI expected to see Mr. Sevier level
her to the ground by a stunning blow; but no; like a savage bulldog--
which he resembled both in temper and appearance--he
maintained his gripand steadily dragged his victim toward the
treedisregarding alike her blowsand the cries of the children
for their mother's release. He woulddoubtlesshave knocked
her down with his hickory stickbut that such act might have
cost him his place. It is often deemed advisable to knock a
_man_ slave downin order to tie himbut it is considered
cowardly and inexcusablein an overseerthus to deal with a
_woman_. He is expected to tie her upand to give her what is
calledin southern parlancea "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 madethat 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 sorrowsrather than the joysof his
heart; and he is relieved by themonly as an aching heart is
relieved by its tears. Such is the constitution of the human
mindthatwhen pressed to extremesit often avails itself of
the most opposite methods. Extremes meet in mind as in matter.
When the slaves on board of the "Pearl" were overtakenarrested
and carried to prison--their hopes for freedom blasted--as they
marched in chains they sangand found (as Emily Edmunson tells
us) a melancholy relief in singing. The singing of a man cast
away on a desolate islandmight be as appropriately considered
an evidence of his contentment and happinessas the singing of a
slave. Sorrow and desolation have their songsas well as joy
and peace. Slaves sing more to _make_ themselves happythan to
express their happiness.

It is the boast of slaveholdersthat 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 farmreceivedas their monthly
<78>allowance of foodeight pounds of pickled porkor their
equivalent in fish. The pork was often taintedand the fish was
of the poorest quality--herringswhich would bring very little
if offered for sale in any northern market. With their pork or
fishthey had one bushel of Indian meal--unbolted--of which
quite fifteen per cent was fit only to feed pigs. With thisone
pint of salt was given; and this was the entire monthly allowance
of a full grown slaveworking constantly in the open fieldfrom
morning until nightevery day in the month except Sundayand
living on a fraction more than a quarter of a pound of meat per
dayand 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 exhaustionthan 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
plantationconsisted of two tow-linen shirts--such linen as the
coarsest crash towels are made of; one pair of trowsers of the
same materialfor summerand a pair of trowsers and a jacket of
woolenmost slazily put togetherfor winter; one pair of yarn
stockingsand 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 childrenwas committed to their mothersor to the older
slavewomen having the care of them. Children who were unable to
work in the fieldhad neither shoesstockingsjackets nor
trowsers given them. Their clothing consisted of two coarse towlinen
shirts--already described--per year; and when these failed
themas they often didthey went naked until the next allowance
day. Flocks of little children from five to ten years oldmight
be seen on Col. Lloyd's plantationas destitute of clothing as
any little heathen on the west coast of Africa; and thisnot
merely during the summer monthsbut 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 onthey 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 themand this only to the
men and women. The children stuck themselves in holes and
cornersabout the quarters; often in the corner of the huge
chimneyswith their feet in the ashes to keep them warm. The
want of bedshoweverwas not considered a very great privation.
Time to sleep was of far greater importanceforwhen the day's
work is donemost of the slaves have their washingmending and
cooking to do; andhaving few or none of the ordinary facilities
for doing such thingsvery 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 youngmale and female
married and singledrop down upon the common clay flooreach
covering up with his or her blanket--the only protection they
have from cold or exposure. The nighthoweveris shortened at
both ends. The slaves work often as long as they can seeand
are late in cooking and mending for the coming day; andat the
first gray streak of morningthey 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 doorarmed with stick and cowskinready to whip
any who may be a few minutes behind time. When the horn is
blownthere is a rush for the doorand the hindermost one is
sure to get a blow from the overseer. Young mothers who worked
in the fieldwere allowed an hourabout ten o'clock in the
morningto go home to nurse their children. Sometimes they were
compelled to take their children with themand to leave them in
the corner of the fencesto 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 untannedbut driedox hideand is about
as hard as a piece of well-seasoned live oak. It is made of
various sizesbut the usual length is about three feet. The
part held in the hand is nearly an inch in thickness; andfrom
the extreme end of the butt or handlethe cowskin tapers its
whole length to a point. This makes it quite elastic and
springy. A blow with iton the hardest backwill gash the
fleshand make the blood start. Cowskins are painted redblue
and greenand 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 pointand comes with a spring
that makes the air whistle. It is a terrible instrumentand is
so handythat the overseer can always have it on his personand
ready for use. The temptation to use it is ever strong; and an
overseer canif disposedalways have cause for using it. With
himit is literally a word and a blowandin most casesthe
blow comes first.

As a general ruleslaves do not come to the quarters for either
breakfast or dinnerbut take their "ash cake" with themand eat
it in the field. This was so on the home plantation; probably
because the distance from the quarter to the fieldwas sometimes
twoand even three miles.

The dinner of the slaves consisted of a huge piece of ash cake
and a small piece of porkor two salt herrings. Not having
ovensnor any suitable cooking utensilsthe slaves mixed their
meal with a little waterto such thickness that a spoon would

stand erect in it; andafter the wood had burned away to coals
and ashesthey would place the dough between oak leaves and lay
it carefully in the ashescompletely covering it; hencethe
bread is called ash cake. The surface of this peculiar bread is
covered with ashesto the depth of a sixteenth part of an inch
and the ashescertainlydo not make it very grateful to the
teethnor render it very palatable. The branor coarse part of
the mealis baked with the fineand bright scales run through
the bread. <81 THE CONTRAST>This breadwith its ashes and bran
would disgust and choke a northern manbut it is quite liked by
the slaves. They eat it with avidityand are more concerned
about the quantity than about the quality. They are far too
scantily provided forand are worked too steadilyto be much
concerned for the quality of their food. The few minutes allowed
them at dinner timeafter partaking of their coarse repastare
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 velvetlike
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: _Troubledlike 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 memuch of the timeto 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 complexionwho was quite portlyand wore a
dignified aspect for a slave. He wasevidentlymuch devoted to
his professionand held his office an honorable one. He was a
farrier as well as an ostler; he could bleedremove lampers from
the mouths of the horsesand was well instructed in horse
medicines. No one on the farm knewso well as Old Barneywhat
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 presentsbut he got stripes as well; for in
nothing was Col. Lloyd more unreasonable and exactingthan 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 Barneyif the colonel
only suspected something wrong about his horses; and
consequentlyhe was often punished when faultless. It was
absolutely painful to listen to the many unreasonable and fretful
scoldingspoured out at the stableby Col. Lloydhis sons and
sons-in-law. Of the latterhe had three--Messrs. Nicholson
Winder and Lownes. These all <88>lived at the great house a
portion of the yearand enjoyed the luxury of whipping the
servants when they pleasedwhich 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
complaintshowever groundlessBarney must standhat in hand
lips sealednever answering a word. He must make no replyno
explanation; the judgment of the master must be deemed
infalliblefor his power is absolute and irresponsible. In a
free statea masterthus complaining without causeof his
ostlermight be told--"SirI am sorry I cannot please youbut
since I have done the best I canyour remedy is to dismiss me."
Herehoweverthe ostler must standlisten and tremble. One of
the most heart-saddening and humiliating scenes I ever witnessed
was the whipping of Old Barneyby Col. Lloyd himself. Here were
two menboth 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 herebut _equals_ at the

bar of God; andin the common course of eventsthey must both
soon meet in another worldin a world where all distinctions
except those based on obedience and disobedienceare blotted out
forever. "Uncover your head!" said the imperious master; he was
obeyed. "Take off your jacketyou old rascal!" and off came
Barney's jacket. "Down on your knees!" down knelt the old man
his shoulders barehis bald head glistening in the sunand his
aged knees on the colddamp ground. In his humble and debasing
attitudethe master--that master to whom he had given the best
years and the best strength of his life--came forwardand laid
on thirty lasheswith his horse whip. The old man bore it
patientlyto the lastanswering each blow with a slight shrug
of the shouldersand a groan. I cannot think that <89 A
HUMILIATING SPECTACLE>Col. Lloyd succeeded in marring the flesh
of Old Barney very seriouslyfor the whip was a lightriding
whip; but the spectacle of an aged man--a husband and a father-humbly
kneeling before a worm of the dustsurprised and shocked
me at the time; and since I have grown old enough to think on the
wickedness of slaveryfew facts have been of more value to me
than thisto which I was a witness. It reveals slavery in its
true colorand in its maturity of repulsive hatefulness. I owe
it to truthhoweverto saythat this was the first and the
last time I ever saw Old Barneyor any other slavecompelled to
kneel to receive a whipping.

I sawat the stableanother incidentwhich I will relateas
it is illustrative of a phase of slavery to which I have already
referred in another connection. Besides two other coachmenCol.
Lloyd owned one named Williamwhostrangely enoughwas often
called by his surnameWilksby 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
formand comeliness of featureshe bore a very striking
resemblance to Mr. Murray Lloyd. It was whisperedand pretty
generally admitted as a factthat William Wilks was a son of
Col. Lloydby a highly favored slave-womanwho was still on the
plantation. There were many reasons for believing this whisper
not only in William's appearancebut in the undeniable freedom
which he enjoyed over all othersand his apparent consciousness
of being something more than a slave to his master. It was
notorioustoothat William had a deadly enemy in Murray Lloyd
whom he so much resembledand that the latter greatly worried
his father with importunities to sell William. Indeedhe gave
his father no rest until he did sell himto Austin Woldfolkthe
great slave-trader at that time. Before selling himhowever
Mr. L. tried what giving William a whipping would dotoward
making things smooth; but this was a failure. It was a
compromiseand defeated itself; forimme<90>diately after the
inflictionthe heart-sickened colonel atoned to William for the
abuseby giving him a gold watch and chain. Another fact
somewhat curiousisthat though sold to the remorseless
_Woldfolk_taken in irons to Baltimore and cast into prison
with a view to being driven to the southWilliamby _some_
means--always a mystery to me--outbid all his purchaserspaid
for himself_and now resides in Baltimorea_ FREEMAN. Is there
not room to suspectthatas the gold watch was presented to
atone for the whippinga purse of gold was given him by the same
handwith which to effect his purchaseas an atonement for the
indignity involved in selling his own flesh and blood. All the
circumstances of Williamon the great house farmshow him to
have occupied a different position from the other slavesand
certainlythere is nothing in the supposed hostility of
slaveholders to amalgamationto 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 numerousthat he did not know
them when he saw them. Norindeeddid all his slaves know him.
In this respecthe was inconveniently rich. It is reported of
himthatwhile riding along the road one dayhe met a colored
manand addressed him in the usual way of speaking to colored
people on the public highways of the south: "Wellboywho do
you belong to?" "To Col. Lloyd replied the slave. Welldoes
the colonel treat you well?" "Nosir was the ready reply.
What? does he work you too hard?" "Yessir." "Welldon't he
give enough to eat?" "Yessirhe gives me enoughsuch as it
is." The colonelafter ascertaining where the slave belonged
rode on; the slave also went on about his businessnot dreaming
that he had been conversing with his master. He thoughtsaid
and heard nothing more of the matteruntil two or three weeks
after<91 PENALTY FOR TELLING THE TRUTH>wards. The poor man was
then informed by his overseerthatfor having found fault with
his masterhe was now to be sold to a Georgia trader. He was
immediately chained and handcuffed; and thuswithout a moment's
warning he was snatched awayand forever sundered from his
family and friendsby a hand more unrelenting than that of
death. _This_ is the penalty of telling the simple truthin
answer to a series of plain questions. It is partly in
consequence of such factsthat slaveswhen inquired of as to
their condition and the character of their mastersalmost
invariably say they are contentedand that their masters are
kind. Slaveholders have been known to send spies among their
slavesto ascertainif possibletheir views and feelings in
regard to their condition. The frequency of this had the effect
to establish among the slaves the maximthat a still tongue
makes a wise head. They suppress the truth rather than take the
consequence of telling itandin so doingthey prove
themselves a part of the human family. If they have anything to
say of their masterit isgenerallysomething in his favor
especially when speaking to strangers. I was frequently asked
while a slaveif I had a kind masterand I do not remember ever
to have given a negative reply. Nor did Iwhen pursuing this
courseconsider 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. Howeverslaves are
like other peopleand imbibe similar prejudices. They are apt
to think _their condition_ better than that of others. Many
under the influence of this prejudicethink their own masters
are better than the masters of other slaves; and thistooin
some caseswhen the very reverse is true. Indeedit is not
uncommon for slaves even to fall out and quarrel among themselves
about the relative kindness of their masterscontending for the
superior goodness of his own over that of others. At the very
same timethey mutually execrate their masterswhen viewed
separately. It was so on our plantation. When Col. Lloyd's
slaves met those of Jacob Jepsonthey <92>seldom parted without
a quarrel about their masters; Col. Lloyd's slaves contending
that he was the richestand Mr. Jepson's slaves that he was the
smartestman 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 SLAVEwas thought to be bad enough; but to
be a _poor man's_ slavewas deemed a disgraceindeed.

_A Chapter of Horrors_


As I have already intimated elsewherethe slaves on Col. Lloyd's
plantationwhose hard lotunder Mr. Sevierthe reader has
already noticed and deploredwere 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 confessI
hardly know how to bring this man fitly before the reader. He
wasit is truean overseerand possessedto a large extent
the peculiar characteristics of his class; yetto call him
merely an overseerwould 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 southas are
the fishwomen of Parisand the coal-heavers of Londondistinct
from other members of society. They constitute a separate
fraternity at the southnot 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 attractionwhich determines
the spheres and affinities of men; which ordainsthat menwhose
malign and brutal propensities predominate over their moral and
intellectual endowmentsshallnaturallyfall 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 brutalityand stamps it
as a distinct class of southern society. Butin this classas
in all other classesthere are characters of marked
individualityeven while they bear a general resemblance to the
mass. Mr. Gore was one of thoseto 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 overseerhe 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-possessionand a sternness
of glancewhich might well daunt hearts less timid than those of
poor slavesaccustomed 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 overseershipwhich he possessed in such an eminent degree.

Mr. Gore was one of those overseerswho could torture the
slightest word or look into impudence; he had the nervenot only
to resentbut to punishpromptly and severely. He never
allowed himself to be answered backby a slave. In thishe was

as lordly and as imperious as Col. Edward Lloydhimself; acting
always up to the maximpractically maintained by slaveholders
that it is better that a dozen slaves suffer under the lash
without faultthan 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 guiltyit is enough to be
accusedto be sure of a flogging. The very presence of this man
Gore was <95 AUSTIN GORE>painfuland I shunned him as I would
have shunned a rattlesnake. His piercingblack eyesand sharp
shrill voiceever awakened sensations of terror among the
slaves. For so young a man (I describe him as he wastwentyfive
or thirty years ago) Mr. Gore was singularly reserved and
grave in the presence of slaves. He indulged in no jokessaid
no funny thingsand kept his own counsels. Other overseershow
brutal soever they might bewereat timesinclined to gain
favor with the slavesby indulging a little pleasantry; but Gore
was never known to be guilty of any such weakness. He was always
the colddistantunapproachable _overseer_ of Col. Edward
Lloyd's plantationand needed no higher pleasure than was
involved in a faithful discharge of the duties of his office.
When he whippedhe seemed to do so from a sense of dutyand
feared no consequences. What Hopkins did reluctantlyGore did
with alacrity. There was a stern willan iron-like reality
about this Gorewhich would have easily made him the chief of a
band of pirateshad his environments been favorable to such a
course of life. All the coolnesssavage barbarity and freedom
from moral restraintwhich are necessary in the character of a
pirate-chiefcenteredI thinkin this man Gore. Among many
other deeds of shocking cruelty which he perpetratedwhile I was
at Mr. Lloyd'swas the murder of a young colored mannamed
Denby. He was sometimes called Bill Denbyor Demby; (I write
from soundand the sounds on Lloyd's plantation are not very
certain.) I knew him well. He was a powerful young manfull of
animal spiritsandso far as I knowhe was among the most
valuable of Col. Lloyd's slaves. In something--I know not what-he
offended this Mr. Austin Goreandin accordance with the
custom of the latterhe under took to flog him. He gave Denby
but few stripes; the latter broke away from him and plunged into
the creekandstanding 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 callstelling him that <96>if he did not obey
the last callhe would shoot him. When the third call was
givenDenby stood his ground firmly; and this raised the
questionin the minds of the by-standing slaves--"Will he dare
to shoot?" Mr. Gorewithout further parleyand without making
any further effort to induce Denby to come out of the water
raised his gun deliberately to his facetook deadly aim at his
standing victimandin an instantpoor Denby was numbered with
the dead. His mangled body sank out of sightand only his warm
red blood marked the place where he had stood.

This devilish outragethis fiendish murderproducedas it was
well calculated to doa tremendous sensation. A thrill of
horror flashed through every soul on the plantationif I may
except the guilty wretch who had committed the hell-black deed.
While the slaves generally were panic-struckand howling with
alarmthe murderer himself was calm and collectedand appeared
as though nothing unusual had happened. The atrocity roused my
old masterand he spoke outin 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
matterbut this amounted to nothing. His replyor
explanation--as I remember to have heard it at the time wasthat

the extraordinary expedient was demanded by necessity; that Denby
had become unmanageable; that he had set a dangerous example to
the other slaves; and thatwithout some such prompt measure as
that to which he had resortedwere adoptedthere 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-crythat 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 donewe 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 factthat the
<98>wife of Mr. Giles Hickswho lived but a short distance from
Col. Lloyd'swith her own hands murdered my wife's cousina
young girl between fifteen and sixteen years of age--mutilating
her person in a most shocking manner. The atrocious womanin
the paroxysm of her wrathnot content with murdering her victim
literally mangled her faceand broke her breast bone. Wild
howeverand infuriated as she wasshe took the precaution to
cause the slave-girl to be buried; but the facts of the case
coming abroadvery speedily led to the disinterment of the
remains of the murdered slave-girl. A coroner's jury was
assembledwho 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 worldwas this: she had
been set that nightand several preceding nightsto mind Mrs.
Hicks's babyand having fallen into a sound sleepthe baby
criedwaking Mrs. Hicksbut not the slave-girl. Mrs. Hicks
becoming infuriated at the girl's tardinessafter calling
several timesjumped from her bed and seized a piece of firewood
from the fireplace; and thenas she lay fast asleepshe
deliberately pounded in her skull and breast-boneand thus ended
her life. I will not say that this most horrid murder produced
no sensation in the community. It _did_ produce a sensation;
butincredible to tellthe 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 arrestbutfor some reason or otherthat 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 plantationI will briefly narrate another
dark transactionwhich occurred about the same time as the
murder of Denby by Mr. Gore.

On the side of the river Wyeopposite from Col. Lloyd'sthere
lived a Mr. Beal Bondleya wealthy slaveholder. In the
direction <99 NO LAW PROTECTS THE SLAVE>of his landand near the
shorethere was an excellent oyster fishing groundand to this
some of the slaves of Col. Lloyd occasionally resorted in their
little canoesat nightwith a view to make up the deficiency of
their scanty allowance of foodby the oysters that they could
easily get there. ThisMr. Bondley took it into his head to
regard as a trespassand 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 creekto satisfy his
hungerthe villainous Mr. Bondleylying in ambushwithout the
slightest ceremonydischarged the contents of his musket into
the back and shoulders of the poor old man. As good fortune
would have itthe shot did not prove mortaland Mr. Bondley
came overthe next dayto see Col. Lloyd--whether to pay him
for his propertyor to justify himself for what he had doneI
know not; but this I _can_ saythe cruel and dastardly
transaction was speedily hushed up; there was very little said
about it at alland nothing was publicly done which looked like
the application of the principle of justice to the man whom
_chance_onlysaved from being an actual murderer. One of the
commonest sayings to which my ears early became accustomedon
Col. Lloyd's plantation and elsewhere in Marylandwasthat it
was _"worth but half a cent to kill a niggerand 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 slavesareas they must needs
beutterly incapable of being enforcedwhere the very parties
who are nominally protectedare not permitted to give evidence
in courts of lawagainst the only class of persons from whom
abuseoutrage and murder might be reasonably apprehended. While
I heard of numerous murders committed by slaveholders on the
Eastern Shores of MarylandI 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 isthat
the slave has offered resistance. Should a slavewhen
assaultedbut raise his hand in self defensethe white
assaulting <100>party is fully justified by southernor
Marylandpublic opinionin shooting the slave down. Sometimes
this is donesimply because it is alleged that the slave has

been saucy. But here I leave this phase of the society of my
early childhoodand will relieve the kind reader of these heartsickening

_Personal Treatment_


I have nothing cruel or shocking to relate of my own personal
experiencewhile I remained on Col. Lloyd's plantationat the
home of my old master. An occasional cuff from Aunt Katyand a
regular whipping from old mastersuch as any heedless and
mischievous boy might get from his fatheris all that I can
mention of this sort. I was not old enough to work in the field
andthere being little else than field work to performI had
much leisure. The most I had to dowasto drive up the cows in
the eveningto keep the front yard cleanand to perform small
errands for my young mistressLucretia Auld. I have reasons for
thinking this lady was very kindly disposed toward meand
although I was not often the object of her attentionI
constantly regarded her as my friendand was always glad when it
was my privilege to do her a service. In a family where there
was so much that was harshcold and indifferentthe slightest
word or look of kindness passedwith mefor 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 meif she did not love me. In addition to
words and looksshe sometimes gave me a piece of bread and
butter; a thing not set down in the bill of fareand which must
have been an extra rationplanned aside from either Aunt Katy or
old mastersolely out of the tender regard and friendship she
had for me. ThentooI one day got into the wars with Uncle
Able's sonIke,and had got sadly worsted; in factthe little
rascal had struck me directly in the forehead with a sharp piece
of cinderfused with ironfrom the old blacksmith's forge
which made a cross in my forehead very plainly to be seen now.
The gash bled very freelyand I roared very loudly and betook
myself home. The coldhearted Aunt Katy paid no attention either
to my wound or my roaringexcept 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 Lucretiain this state of
the casecame forward; andin quite a different spirit from
that manifested by Aunt Katyshe called me into the parlor (an
extra privilege of itself) andwithout using toward me any of
the hard-hearted and reproachful epithets of my kitchen
tormentorshe quietly acted the good Samaritan. With her own
soft hand she washed the blood from my head and facefetched her
own balsam bottleand with the balsam wetted a nice piece of
white linenand bound up my head. The balsam was not more
healing to the wound in my headthan her kindness was healing to
the wounds in my spiritmade by the unfeeling words of Aunt
Katy. After thisMiss Lucretia was my friend. I felt her to be

such; and I have no doubt that the simple act of binding up my
headdid much to awaken in her mind an interest in my welfare.
It is quite truethat this interest was never very markedand
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 plantationand I was the only one of the children to whom
such attention was paid. <103 REALMS OF SUNLIGHT>When very
hungryI would go into the back yard and play under Miss
Lucretia's window. When pretty severely pinched by hungerI had
a habit of singingwhich the good lady very soon came to
understand as a petition for a piece of bread. When I sung under
Miss Lucretia's windowI was very apt to get well paid for my
music. The reader will see that I now had two friendsboth at
important points--Mas' Daniel at the great houseand Miss
Lucretia at home. From Mas' Daniel I got protection from the
bigger boys; and from Miss Lucretia I got breadby singing when
I was hungryand sympathy when I was abused by that termagant
who had the reins of government in the kitchen. For such
friendship I felt deeply gratefuland bitter as are my
recollections of slaveryI love to recall any instances of
kindnessany sunbeams of humane treatmentwhich 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
penetrateand the impression they make is vividly distinct and

As I have before intimatedI was seldom whipped--and never
severely--by my old master. I suffered little from the treatment
I receivedexcept 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 winterI was kept almost in a state
of nudity; no shoesno stockingsno jacketno trowsers;
nothing but coarse sackcloth or tow-linenmade into a sort of
shirtreaching down to my knees. This I wore night and day
changing it once a week. In the day time I could protect myself
pretty wellby keeping on the sunny side of the house; and in
bad weatherin the corner of the kitchen chimney. The great
difficulty wasto keep warm during the night. I had no bed.
The pigs in the pen had leavesand the horses in the stable had
strawbut the children had no beds. They lodged anywhere in the
ample kitchen. I sleptgenerallyin a little closetwithout
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 milland crawled into that. Sleeping therewith my head in
and feet outI was partly protectedthough not comfortable. My
feet have been so cracked with the frostthat the pen with which
I am writing might be laid in the gashes. The manner of taking
our meals at old master'sindicated but little refinement. Our
corn-meal mushwhen sufficiently cooledwas placed in a large
wooden trayor troughlike those used in making maple sugar
here in the north. This tray was set downeither on the floor
of the kitchenor out of doors on the ground; and the children
were calledlike so many pigs; and like so many pigs they would
comeand literally devour the mush--some with oyster shells
some with pieces of shinglesand none with spoons. He that eat
fastest got mostand he that was strongest got the best place;
and few left the trough really satisfied. I was the most unlucky
of anyfor Aunt Katy had no good feeling for me; and if I pushed
any of the other childrenor if they told her anything
unfavorable of meshe always believed the worstand was sure to
whip me.

As I grew older and more thoughtfulI was more and more filled

with a sense of my wretchedness. The cruelty of Aunt Katythe
hunger and cold I sufferedand the terrible reports of wrong and
outrage which came to my eartogether with what I almost daily
witnessedled mewhen yet but eight or nine years oldto wish
I had never been born. I used to contrast my condition with the
black-birdsin 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 greatprimary
subjects of knowledgeand reachin a momentconclusions which
no subsequent experience can shake. I was just as well aware of
the unjustunnatural and murderous character of slaverywhen
nine years oldas I am now. Without any appeal to booksto
lawsor to authorities of any kindit was enough to accept God
as a fatherto 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 friendMiss Lucretiathat my old master
had determined to let me go to Baltimore to live with Mr. Hugh
Aulda brother to Mr. Thomas Auldmy 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 creekwashing off
the plantation scurfand 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 kneesbefore I
could go to Baltimorefor the people there were very cleanly
and would laugh at me if I looked dirty; andbesidesshe was
intending to give me a pair of trowserswhich 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
trowserswas greatindeed. 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
earnestworking for the first time in the hope of reward. I was
greatly excitedand could hardly consent to sleeplest I should
be left. The ties thatordinarilybind children to their
homeswere all severedor they never had any existence in my
caseat least so far as the home plantation of Col. L. was
concerned. I therefore found no severe trail at the moment of my
departuresuch 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 homebut a prison to me; on parting from itI 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
awayso that I seldom saw her; Aunt Katy was my unrelenting
tormentor; and my two sisters and brothersowing to our early
separation in lifeand the family-destroying power of slavery
werecomparativelystran<106>gers to me. The fact of our
relationship was almost blotted out. I looked for _home_
elsewhereand was confident of finding none which I should
relish less than the one I was leaving. IfhoweverI found in
my new home to which I was going with such blissful
anticipations--hardshipwhipping and nakednessI had the
questionable consolation that I should not have escaped any one
of these evils by remaining under the management of Aunt Katy.
ThentooI thoughtsince I had endured much in this line on
Lloyd's plantationI could endure as much elsewhereand
especially at Baltimore; for I had something of the feeling about
that city which is expressed in the sayingthat being "hanged in
Englandis 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 thereand though not
fluent (he stuttered immoderately) in speechhe had inspired me
with that desireby his eloquent description of the place. Tom
wassometimesCapt. Auld's cabin boy; and when he came from
Baltimorehe was always a sort of hero amongst usat least till
his Baltimore trip was forgotten. I could never tell him of
anythingor point out anything that struck me as beautiful or
powerfulbut that he had seen something in Baltimore far
surpassing it. Even the great house itselfwith all its
pictures withinand pillars withouthe 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 crackersand 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; andindeedwhich 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; forat that time
<107 ARRIVAL AT BALTIMORE>I had no knowledge of the days of the
monthnorindeedof the months of the year. On setting sail
I walked aftand gave to Col. Lloyd's plantation what I hoped
would be the last look I should ever give to itor to any place
like it. My strong aversion to the great farmwas not owing to
my own personal sufferingbut the daily suffering of othersand
to the certainty that I mustsooner or laterbe placed under
the barbarous rule of an overseersuch as the accomplished Gore
or the brutal and drunken Plummer. After taking this last view
I quitted the quarter deckmade 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 distancerather than what was near by
or behind. The vesselssweeping along the baywere very
interesting objects. The broad bay opened like a shoreless ocean
on my boyish visionfilling me with wonder and admiration.

Late in the afternoonwe reached Annapolisthe capital of the
statestopping 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 Englandmy
feelingson seeing itwere 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 imposingand surpassed in
grandeur the appearance of the great house. The great world was
opening upon me very rapidlyand I was eagerly acquainting
myself with its multifarious lessons.

We arrived in Baltimore on Sunday morningand landed at Smith's
wharfnot far from Bowly's wharf. We had on board the sloop a
large flock of sheepfor the Baltimore market; andafter
assisting in driving them to the slaughter house of Mr. Curtis
on Loudon Slater's HillI was speedily conducted by Rich--one of
the hands belonging to the sloop--to my new home in Alliciana
streetnear Gardiner's ship-yardon Fell's Point. Mr. and Mrs.
Hugh Auldmy new mistress and masterwere both at homeand met
me at the door with their rosy cheeked little sonThomas
<108>to take care of whom was to constitute my future occupation.
In factit 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
neededfor 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 dutieswith not a cloud above the

I may say herethat 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 likelihoodsit is
quite probable thatbut 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-driverinstead of beingtodaya FREEMANI might have
been wearing the galling chains of slavery. I have sometimes
felthoweverthat 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 aspirationsor havein 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 youngerboys olderand boys of the
same agebelonging to my old master some at his own houseand
some at his farm--but the high privilege fell to my lot.

I may be deemed superstitious and egotisticalin regarding this
event as a special interposition of Divine Providence in my
favor; but the thought is a part of my historyand I should be
false to the earliest and most cherished sentiments of my soul
if I suppressedor hesitated to avow that opinionalthough it
may be characterized as irrational by the wiseand ridiculous by
the scoffer. From my earliest recollections of serious matters
I date the entertainment of something like an ineffaceable
convictionthat slavery would not always be able to hold me
within its foul embrace; and this convictionlike a word of
living faithstrengthened 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 Baltimorewith hard brick pavements under my feetwhich
almost raised blistersby their very heatfor 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 stepand with startling sounds reaching my ears from
all directionsI for a time thought thatafter allthe home
plantation was a more desirable place of residence than my home
on Alliciana streetin Baltimore. My country eyes and ears were
confused and bewildered here; but the boys were my chief trouble.
They chased meand 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 hadin truthnever been a
slaveholderbut had--a thing quite unusual in the south-depended
almost entirely upon her own industry for a living. To
this fact the dear ladyno doubtowed the excellent
preservation of her natural goodness of heartfor slavery can
change a saint into a sinnerand 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 upchild; don't be
afraid; seeI am full of kindness and good will toward you."
The hands belonging to Col. Lloyd's sloopesteemed it a great
privilege to be the bearers of parcels or messages to my new
mistress; for whenever they camethey were sure of a most kind
and pleasant reception. If little Thomas was her sonand her
most dearly beloved childshefor a timeat leastmade me
something like his half-brother in her affections. If dear Tommy
was exalted to a place on his mother's kneeFeddywas honored
by a place at his mother's side. Nor did he lack the caressing
strokes of her gentle handto convince him thatthough
_motherless_he was not _friendless_. Mrs. Auld <112>was not
only a kind-hearted womanbut she was remarkably pious; frequent
in her attendance of public worshipmuch given to reading the

bibleand to chanting hymns of praisewhen alone. Mr. Hugh
Auld was altogether a different character. He cared very little
about religionknew more of the worldand was more of the
worldthan his wife. He set outdoubtless to be--as the world
goes--a respectable manand to get on by becoming a successful
ship builderin that city of ship building. This was his
ambitionand it fully occupied him. I wasof courseof very
little consequence to himcompared with what I was to good Mrs.
Auld; andwhen he smiled upon meas he sometimes didthe smile
was borrowed from his lovely wifeandlike all borrowed light
was transientand vanished with the source whence it was
derived. While I must characterize Master Hugh as being a very
sour manand of forbidding appearanceit is due to him to
acknowledgethat he was never very cruel to meaccording to the
notion of cruelty in Maryland. The first year or two which I
spent in his househe left me almost exclusively to the
management of his wife. She was my law-giver. In hands so
tender as hersand in the absence of the cruelties of the
plantationI becameboth physically and mentallymuch more
sensitive to good and ill treatment; andperhapssuffered more
from a frown from my mistressthan I formerly did from a cuff at
the hands of Aunt Katy. Instead of the colddamp floor of my
old master's kitchenI found myself on carpets; for the corn bag
in winterI now had a good straw bedwell furnished with
covers; for the coarse corn-meal in the morningI now had good
breadand mush occasionally; for my poor tow-lien shirt
reaching to my kneesI had goodclean clothes. I was really
well off. My employment was to run errandsand to take care of
Tommy; to prevent his getting in the way of carriagesand to
keep him out of harm's way generally. Tommyand Iand his
mothergot on swimmingly togetherfor a time. I say _for a
time_because the fatal poison of irresponsible powerand the
natural influence <113 LEARNING TO READ>of slavery customswere
not long in making a suitable impression on the gentle and loving
disposition of my excellent mistress. At firstMrs. Auld
evidently regarded me simply as a childlike 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 naturelike herscould notinstantlybe
wholly perverted; and it took several years to change the natural
sweetness of her temper into fretful bitterness. In her worst
estatehoweverthere wereduring the first seven years I lived
with heroccasional 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 readingand 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; andwithout hesitation
the dear woman began the taskand very soonby her assistance
I was master of the alphabetand 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; andsupposing that her husband
would be as well pleasedshe made no secret of what she was
doing for me. Indeedshe exultingly told him of the aptness of
her pupilof her intention to persevere in teaching meand of
the duty which she felt it to teach meat 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 spouseand
probably for the first timehe unfolded to her the true
philosophy of slaveryand the peculiar rules necessary to be

observed by masters and mistressesin the management of their
human chattels. Mr. Auld promptly forbade continuance of her
instruction; telling herin the first placethat the thing
itself was unlawful; that it was also unsafeand could only lead
to mischief. To use <114>his own wordsfurtherhe saidif
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 himselflearning would do him
no goodbut probablya great deal of harm--making him
disconsolate and unhappy." "If you learn him now to readhe'll
want to know how to write; andthis accomplishedhe'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 antislavery
lecture to which it had been my lot to listen. Mrs. Auld
evidently felt the force of his remarks; andlike an obedient
wifebegan 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 heartand stirred up not only my feelings into a sort of
rebellionbut awakened within me a slumbering train of vital
thought. It was a new and special revelationdispelling a
painful mysteryagainst which my youthful understanding had
struggledand struggled in vainto 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 timeand 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 derivedto some extent compensated me for the loss
I had sustained in this direction. Wise as Mr. Auld washe
evidently underrated my comprehensionand 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 ignoranceonly rendered me the more resolute in seeking
intelligence. In learning to readthereforeI am not sure that
I do not owe quite as much to the opposition of my masteras to
the kindly assistance of my amiable mistress. I acknowledge the
benefit rendered me by the oneand by the other; believingthat
but for my mistressI might have grown up in ignorance.

I had resided but a short time in Baltimorebefore I observed a
marked difference in the manner of treating slavesgenerally
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 citizenin Baltimorecompared with a slave on Col. Lloyd's
plantation. He is much better fed and clothedis less dejected
in his appearanceand enjoys privileges altogether unknown to
the whip-driven slave on the plantation. Slavery dislikes a
dense populationin which there is a majority of nonslaveholders.
The general sense of decency that must pervade
such a populationdoes much to check and prevent those outbreaks
of atrocious crueltyand 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

neighborsby the cries of the lacerated slaves; and very few in
the city are willing to incur the odium of being cruel masters.
I foundin Baltimorethat no man was more odious to the white
as well as to the colored peoplethan hewho had the reputation
of starving his slaves. Work themflog themif need bebut
don't starve them. These arehoweversome 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 houseand 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-twoand the other about fourteen. They were a
fragile couple by natureand the treatment they received was
enough to break down the constitution of a horse. Of all the
dejectedemaciatedmangled and excoriated creatures I ever saw
those two girls--in the refinedchurch going and Christian city
of Baltimore were the most deplorable. Of stone must that heart
be madethat could look upon Henrietta and Marywithout being
sickened to the core with sadness. Especially was Mary a heartsickening
object. Her headneck and shoulderswere literally
cut to pieces. I have frequently felt her headand found it
nearly covered over with festering sorescaused by the lash of
her cruel mistress. I do not know that her master ever whipped
herbut 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 conductis the factthatalmost 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 chairnear the middle
of the roomwith a heavy cowskinsuch as I have elsewhere
described; and I speak within the truth when I saythat these
girls seldom passed that chairduring the daywithout a blow
from that cowskineither upon their bare armsor upon their
shoulders. As they passed hershe would draw her cowskin and
give them a blowsaying_"move fasteryou black jip!"_ and
again_"take thatyou black jip!"_ continuing_"if you don't
move fasterI will give you more."_ Then the lady would go on
singing her sweet hymnsas 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
werereallykept nearly half starved; they seldom knew <117
MRS. HAMILTON'S CRUELTY TO HER SLAVES>what it was to eat a full
mealexcept when they got it in the kitchens of neighborsless
mean and stingy than the psalm-singing Mrs. Hamilton. I have
seen poor Mary contending for the offalwith the pigs in the
street. So much was the poor girl pinchedkickedcut and
pecked to piecesthat 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 Hughat Baltimoreseven years
during which time--as the almanac makers say of the weather--my
condition was variable. The most interesting feature of my
history herewas my learning to read and writeunder somewhat
marked disadvantages. In attaining this knowledgeI was
compelled to resort to indirections by no means congenial to my
natureand which were really humiliating to me. My mistress--
whoas the reader has already seenhad begun to teach me was
suddenly checked in her benevolent designby the strong advice
of her husband. In faithful compliance with this advicethe
good lady had not only ceased to instruct meherselfbut had
set her face as a flint against my learning to read by any means.
It is duehoweverto my mistress to saythat she did not adopt
this course in all its stringency at the first. She either
thought it unnecessaryor she lacked the depravity indispensable
to shutting me up in <119 EFFECTS OF SLAVEHOLDING ON MY
MISTRESS>mental darkness. It wasat leastnecessary for her to
have some trainingand some hardeningin the exercise of the
slaveholder's prerogativeto make her equal to forgetting my
human nature and characterand to treating me as a thing
destitute of a moral or an intellectual nature. Mrs. Auld--my
mistress--wasas I have saida most kind and tender-hearted
woman; andin the humanity of her heartand the simplicity of
her mindshe set outwhen I first went to live with herto
treat me as she supposed one human being ought to treat another.

It is easy to seethatin entering upon the duties of a
slaveholdersome little experience is needed. Nature has done
almost nothing to prepare men and women to be either slaves or
slaveholders. Nothing but rigid traininglong persisted incan
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 mistressMrs. Auld was singularly
deficient; naturewhich fits nobody for such an officehad 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 boywho
stood by her sideand even leaned on her lap; who was loved by
little Tommyand who loved little Tommy in turn; sustained to
her only the relation of a chattel. I was _more_ than thatand
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 humanand shedear ladyknew and felt me to be
so. How could shethentreat me as a brutewithout a mighty
struggle with all the noble powers of her own soul. That
struggle cameand the will and power of the husband was
victorious. Her noble soul was overthrown; buthe that
overthrew it did nothimselfescape the consequences. Henot
less than the other partieswas injured in his domestic peace by
the fall.

When I went into their familyit 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 tearand there was no innocent
joy for which she did not a smile. She had bread for the hungry
clothes for the nakedand comfort for every mourner that came
within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her
of these excellent qualitiesand 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 slaveon Sundayand toward the
master on Monday. It cannot endure such shocks. It must stand
entireor it does not stand at all. If my condition waxed bad
that of the family waxed not better. The first stepin the
wrong directionwas the violence done to nature and to
consciencein arresting the benevolence that would have
enlightened my young mind. In ceasing to instruct meshe must
begin to justify herself _to_ herself; andonce consenting to
take sides in such a debateshe was riveted to her position.
One needs very little knowledge of moral philosophyto see
_where_ my mistress now landed. She finally became even more
violent in her opposition to my learning to readthan was her
husband himself. She was not satisfied with simply doing as
_well_ as her husband had commanded herbut seemed resolved to
better his instruction. Nothing appeared to make my poor
mistress--after her turning toward the downward path--more angry
than seeing meseated in some nook or cornerquietly reading a
book or a newspaper. I have had her rush at mewith the utmost
furyand snatch from my hand such newspaper or bookwith
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 womanand the advice of her husbandand
her own experiencesoon demonstratedto her entire
satisfactionthat education and slavery are incompatible with
each other. When this conviction was thoroughly establishedI
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 timeI was sure to be suspected
of having a bookand was at once called upon to give an account
of myself. All thishoweverwas entirely _too late_. The
firstand never to be retracedstep had been taken. In
teaching me the alphabetin the days of her simplicity and
kindnessmy 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 readat any costI hit
upon many expedients to accomplish the desired end. The plea
which I mainly adoptedand the one by which I was most
successfulwas that of using my young white playmateswith whom
I met in the streets as teachers. I used to carryalmost

constantlya copy of Webster's spelling book in my pocket; and
when sent of errandsor when play time was allowed meI would
stepwith my young friendsasideand take a lesson in
spelling. I generally paid my _tuition fee_ to the boyswith
breadwhich 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 onehoweverdemanded this
considerationfor there were those who took pleasure in teaching
mewhenever 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
thembut prudence forbids; not that it would injure mebut it
mightpossiblyembarrass them; for it is almost an unpardonable
offense to do any thingdirectly or indirectlyto promote a
slave's freedomin a slave state. It is enough to sayof my
warm-hearted little play fellowsthat they lived on Philpot
streetvery near Durgin & Bailey's shipyard.

Although slavery was a delicate subjectand very cautiously
talked about among grown up people in MarylandI frequently
talked about it--and that very freely--with the white boys. I
<122>wouldsometimessay to themwhile seated on a curb stone
or a cellar doorI 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 theseI observedalways troubled them; and I had no small
satisfaction in wringing from the boysoccasionallythat fresh
and bitter condemnation of slaverythat 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
slaverywho defended the slave system; but I have often had boys
to console mewith the hope that something would yet occurby
which I might be made free. Over and over againthey have told
methat "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 seethat such little
conversations with my play fellowshad no tendency to weaken my
love of libertynor to render me contented with my condition as
a slave.

When I was about thirteen years oldand had succeeded in
learning to readevery increase of knowledgeespecially
respecting the FREE STATESadded 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 realityand I shall
never be able to tell how sadly that thought chafed my young
spirit. Fortunatelyor unfortunatelyabout this time in my
lifeI had made enough money to buy what was then a very popular
school bookviz: the _Columbian Orator_. I bought this addition
to my libraryof Mr. Knighton Thames streetFell's Point
Baltimoreand paid him fifty cents for it. I was first led to
buy this bookby hearing some little boys say they were going to
learn some little pieces out of it for the Exhibition. This
volume wasindeeda rich treasureand every opportunity
afforded mefor <123 _The Columbian Orator_--A DIALOGUE>a time
was spent in diligently perusing it. Among much other
interesting matterthat which I had perused and reperused with
unflagging satisfactionwas a short dialogue between a master
and his slave. The slave is represented as having been
recapturedin a second attempt to run away; and the master opens
the dialogue with an upbraiding speechcharging the slave with
ingratitudeand demanding to know what he has to say in his own

defense. Thus upbraidedand thus called upon to replythe
slave rejoinsthat he knows how little anything that he can say
will availseeing that he is completely in the hands of his
owner; and with noble resolutioncalmly saysI submit to my
fate.Touched by the slave's answerthe master insists upon
his further speakingand recapitulates the many acts of kindness
which he has performed toward the slaveand tells him he is
permitted to speak for himself. Thus invited to the debatethe
quondam slave made a spirited defense of himselfand thereafter
the whole argumentfor and against slaverywas brought out.
The master was vanquished at every turn in the argument; and
seeing himself to be thus vanquishedhe generously and meekly
emancipates the slavewith his best wishes for his prosperity.
It is scarcely neccessary{sic} to saythat a dialoguewith such
an originand 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 comewhen the welldirected
answers made by the slave to the masterin this
instancewould find their counterpart in myself.

Thishoweverwas not all the fanaticism which I found in this
_Columbian Orator_. I met there one of Sheridan's mighty
speecheson the subject of Catholic EmancipationLord Chatham's
speech on the American warand speeches by the great William
Pitt and by Fox. These were all choice documents to meand I
read themover and over againwith an interest that was ever
increasingbecause it was ever gaining in intelligence; for the
more I read themthe 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 thoughtswhich
had frequently flashed through my souland died away for want of
utterance. The mighty power and heart-searching directness of
truthpenetrating even the heart of a slaveholdercompelling
him to yield up his earthly interests to the claims of eternal
justicewere finely illustrated in the dialoguejust referred
to; and from the speeches of SheridanI got a bold and powerful
denunciation of oppressionand a most brilliant vindication of
the rights of man. Here wasindeeda noble acquisition. If I
ever wavered under the considerationthat the Almightyin some
wayordained slaveryand willed my enslavement for his own
gloryI wavered no longer. I had now penetrated the secret of
all slavery and oppressionand had ascertained their true
foundation to be in the pridethe power and the avarice of man.
The dialogue and the speeches were all redolent of the principles
of libertyand poured floods of light on the nature and
character of slavery. With a book of this kind in my handmy
own human natureand the facts of my experienceto help meI
was equal to a contest with the religious advocates of slavery
whether among the whites or among the colored peoplefor
blindnessin this matteris not confined to the former. I have
met many religious colored peopleat the southwho are under
the delusion that God requires them to submit to slaveryand 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.
Neverthelessthe increase of knowledge was attended with bitter
as well as sweet results. The more I readthe more I was led to
abhor and detest slaveryand my enslavers. "Slaveholders
thought I, are only a band of successful robberswho 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 readbehold! the very
discontent so graphically pre<125 MY EYES OPENED>dicted by Master
Hughhad already come upon me. I was no longer the light

heartedgleesome boyfull of mirth and playas when I landed
first at Baltimore. Knowledge had come; light had penetrated the
moral dungeon where I dwelt; andbehold! there lay the bloody
whipfor my backand here was the iron chain; and my good
_kind master_he was the author of my situation. The revelation
haunted mestung meand made me gloomy and miserable. As I
writhed under the sting and torment of this knowledgeI almost
envied my fellow slaves their stupid contentment. This knowledge
opened my eyes to the horrible pitand revealed the teeth of the
frightful dragon that was ready to pounce upon mebut it opened
no way for my escape. I have often wished myself a beastor a
bird--anythingrather 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 knowledgemy spirit was roused to eternal
wakefulness. Liberty! the inestimable birthright of every man
hadfor meconverted every object into an asserter of this
great right. It was heard in every soundand beheld in every
object. It was ever presentto torment me with a sense of my
wretched condition. The more beautiful and charming were the
smiles of naturethe more horrible and desolate was my
condition. I saw nothing without seeing itand I heard nothing
without hearing it. I do not exaggeratewhen I saythat it
looked from every starsmiled in every calmbreathed in every
windand moved in every storm.

I have no doubt that my state of mind had something to do with
the change in the treatment adoptedby my once kind mistress
toward me. I can easily believethat my leadendowncastand
discontented lookwas very offensive to her. Poor lady! She
did not know my troubleand I dared not tell her. Could I have
freely made her acquainted with the real state of my mindand
<126>given her the reasons thereforit 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 knowalthough 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 Godin making a slave of
meand in making slaves of others; and I treated them as robbers
and deceivers. The feeding and clothing me wellcould 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
thesein timecame only to deepen my sorrow. She had changed;
and the reader will see that I had changedtoo. We were both
victims to the same overshadowing evil--_she_as mistressIas
slave. I will not censure her harshly; she cannot censure me
for she knows I speak but the truthand have acted in my
opposition to slaveryjust as she herself would have actedin a
reverse of circumstances.


_Religious Nature Awakened_


Whilst in the painful state of mind described in the foregoing
chapteralmost regretting my very existencebecause doomed to a
life of bondageso goaded and so wretchedat timesthat I was
even tempted to destroy my own lifeI was keenly sensitive and
eager to know anyand every thing that transpiredhaving any
relation to the subject of slavery. I was all earsall eyes
whenever the words _slaveslavery_dropped from the lips of any
white personand the occasions were not unfrequent when these
words became leading onesin highsocial debateat our house.
Every little whileI could hear Master Hughor some of his
companyspeaking with much warmth and excitement about
_"abolitionists."_ Of _who_ or _what_ these wereI was totally
ignorant. I foundhoweverthat whatever they might bethey
were most cordially hated and soundly abused by slaveholdersof
every grade. I very soon discoveredtoothat slavery wasin
some <128>sortunder considerationwhenever the abolitionists
were alluded to. This made the term a very interesting one to
me. If a slavefor instancehad made good his escape from
slaveryit was generally allegedthat he had been persuaded and
assisted by the abolitionists. Ifalsoa slave killed his
master--as was sometimes the case--or struck down his overseer
or set fire to his master's dwellingor committed any violence
or crimeout of the common wayit was certain to be saidthat
such a crime was the legitimate fruits of the abolition movement.
Hearing such charges often repeatedInaturally enough
received the impression that abolition--whatever else it might
be--could not be unfriendly to the slavenor very friendly to
the slaveholder. I therefore set about finding outif possible
_who_ and _what_ the abolitionists wereand _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 wasas to the _thing_ to be
abolished. A city newspaperthe _Baltimore American_gave me
the incendiary information denied me by the dictionary. In its
columns I foundthaton a certain daya vast number of
petitions and memorials had been presented to congresspraying
for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbiaand for
the abolition of the slave trade between the states of the Union.
This was enough. The vindictive bitternessthe marked caution
the studied reverseand the cumbrous ambiguitypracticed by our
white folkswhen alluding to this subjectwas now fully
explained. Everafter thatwhen 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 Godand by having
faith in Jesus Christas the RedeemerFriendand Savior of
those who diligently seek Him.

After thisI saw the world in a new light. I seemed to live in
a new worldsurrounded by new objectsand 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 wasnowto have the world converted. The desire for
knowledge increasedand especially did I want a thorough
acquaintance with the contents of the bible. I have gathered
scattered pages from this holy bookfrom the filthy street
gutters of Baltimoreand washed and dried themthat in the
moments of my leisureI might get a word or two of wisdom from
them. While thus religiously seeking knowledgeI became
acquainted with a good old colored mannamed Lawson. A more
devout man than heI never saw. He drove a dray for Mr. James
Ramseythe owner of a rope-walk on Fell's PointBaltimore.
This man not only prayed three time a daybut he prayed as he
walked through the streetsat his work--on his dray everywhere.
His life was a life of prayerand his words (when he spoke to
his friends) were about a better world. Uncle Lawson lived near
Master Hugh's house; andbecoming deeply attached to the old
manI went often with him to prayer-meetingand spent much of

my leisure time with him on Sunday. The old man could read a
littleand I was a great help to himin making out the hard
wordsfor 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 togetherin singingpraying and
glorifying God. These meetings with Uncle Lawson went on for a
long timewithout the knowledge of Master Hugh or my mistress.
Both knewhow<131 FATHER LAWSON--OUR ATTACHMENT>everthat I had
become religiousand they seemed to respect my conscientious
piety. My mistress was still a professor of religionand
belonged to class. Her leader was no less a person than the Rev.
Beverly Waughthe presiding elderand 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 factsthat
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 leadingandespeciallyin view of the separation from
religious associations to which she was subjectedmy mistress
hadas I have before statedbecome lukewarmand 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 instructorin matters of religionwas Uncle Lawson. He
was my spiritual father; and I loved him intenselyand 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'sand 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'snotwithstanding the
threat. The good old man had told methat 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 mindand I verily felt that some such work was
before methough 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 slaveand
a slave FOR LIFE he said, the Lord can make you freemy dear.
All things are possible with himonly _have faith in God."_
Ask, and it shall be given.If you want liberty,said the
good old manask the Lord for it, _in faith_, AND HE WILL GIVE

Thus assuredand cheered onunder the inspiration of hopeI
worked and prayed with a light heartbelieving that my life was
under the guidance of a wisdom higher than my own. With all
other blessings sought at the mercy seatI always prayed that
God wouldof His great mercyand in His own good timedeliver
me from my bondage.

I wentone dayon the wharf of Mr. Waters; and seeing two
Irishmen unloading a large scow of stoneor ballast I went on
boardunaskedand helped them. When we had finished the work
one of the men came to measideand asked me a number of
questionsand among themif I were a slave. I told him "I was

a slaveand a slave for life." The good Irishman gave his
shoulders a shrugand seemed deeply affected by the statement.
He saidit was a pity so fine a little fellow as myself should
be a slave for life.They both had much to say about the
matterand expressed the deepest sympathy with meand the most
decided hatred of slavery. They went so far as to tell me that I
ought to run awayand go to the north; that I should find
friends thereand that I would be as free as anybody. I
howeverpretended not to be interested in what they saidfor I
feared they might be treacherous. White men have been known to
encourage slaves to escapeand then--to get the reward--they
have kidnapped themand returned them to their masters. And
while I mainly inclined to the notion that these men were honest
and meant me no illI feared it might be otherwise. I
nevertheless remembered their words and their adviceand looked
forward to an escape to the northas a possible means of gaining
the liberty <133 HOW I LEARNED TO WRITE>for which my heart
panted. It was not my enslavementat 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; besidesI wished to learn how to writebefore
goingas I might have occasion to write my own pass. I now not
only had the hope of freedombut a foreshadowing of the means by
which I mightsome daygain 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'sand that of Durgan & Bailey--and I
observed that the carpentersafter hewing and getting a piece of
timber ready for usewrote on it the initials of the name of
that part of the ship for which it was intended. Whenfor
instancea piece of timber was ready for the starboard sideit
was marked with a capital "S." A piece for the larboard side was
marked "L;" larboard forwardL. F.;larboard aftwas marked
L. A.;starboard aftS. A.;and starboard forward "S. F." I
soon learned these lettersand for what they were placed on the

My work was nowto keep fire under the steam boxand 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 presentif I can make
four, I can make more.But having made these easilywhen I met
boys about Bethel churchor any of our play-groundsI entered
the lists with them in the art of writingand would make the
letters which I had been so fortunate as to learnand ask them
to "beat that if they could." With playmates for my teachers
fences and pavements for my copy booksand chalk for my pen and
inkI learned the art of writing. Ihoweverafterward adopted
various methods of improving my hand. The most successfulwas
copying the _italics_ in Webster's spelling bookuntil <134>I
could make them all without looking on the book. By this time
my little "Master Tommy" had grown to be a big boyand had
written over a number of copy booksand brought them home. They
had been shown to the neighborshad elicited due praiseand
were now laid carefully away. Spending my time between the ship
yard and houseI 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
inkandin the ample spaces between the linesI wrote other
linesas nearly like his as possible. The process was a tedious
oneand I ran the risk of getting a flogging for marring the

highly prized copy books of the oldest son. In addition to those
opportunitiessleepingas I didin the kitchen loft--a room
seldom visited by any of the family--I got a flour barrel up
thereand a chair; and upon the head of that barrel I have
written (or endeavored to write) copying from the bible and the
Methodist hymn bookand other books which had accumulated on my
handstill late at nightand 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 Lawsonwith whom I
continued to meetand prayand read the scriptures. Although
Master Hugh was aware of my going thereI must sayfor his
creditthat he never executed his threat to whip mefor having
thusinnocentlyemployed-my leisure time.

_The Vicissitudes of Slave Life_


I must now ask the reader to go with me a little back in point of
timein my humble storyand to notice another circumstance that
entered into my slavery experienceand whichdoubtlesshas had
a share in deepening my horror of slaveryand increasing my
hostility toward those men and measures that practically uphold
the slave system.

It has already been observedthat though I wasafter my removal
from Col. Lloyd's plantationin _form_ the slave of Master Hugh
I wasin _fact_and in _law_the slave of my old masterCapt.
Anthony. Very well.

In a very short time after I went to Baltimoremy old master's
youngest sonRicharddied; andin three years and six months
after his deathmy old master himself diedleaving only his
sonAndrewand his daughterLucretiato share his estate.
The <136>old man died while on a visit to his daughterin
Hillsboroughwhere Capt. Auld and Mrs. Lucretia now lived. The
formerhaving given up the command of Col. Lloyd's sloopwas
now keeping a store in that town.

Cut offthus unexpectedlyCapt. Anthony died intestate; and his
property must now be equally divided between his two children
Andrew and Lucretia.

The valuation and the division of slavesamong contending heirs
is an important incident in slave life. The character and
tendencies of the heirsare generally well understood among the
slaves who are to be dividedand all have their aversions and
preferences. Butneither their aversions nor their preferences
avail them anything.

On the death of old masterI was immediately sent forto be
valued and divided with the other property. Personallymy
concern wasmainlyabout my possible removal from the home of
Master Hughwhichafter that of my grandmotherwas the most
endeared to me. Butthe whole thingas 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 greatrose with this new conception of its enormity.

That was a sad day for mea sad day for little Tommyand a sad
day for my dear Baltimore mistress and teacherwhen I left for
the Eastern Shoreto be valued and divided. Weall threewept
bitterly that day; for we might be partingand we feared we were
partingforever. No one could tell among which pile of chattels
I should be flung. Thus earlyI got a foretaste of that painful
uncertainty which slavery brings to the ordinary lot of mortals.
Sicknessadversity and death may interfere with the plans and
purposes of all; but the slave has the added danger of changing
homeschanging handsand of having separations unknown to other
men. Thentoothere was the intensified degradation of the
spectacle. What an assemblage! Men and womenyoung and old
married and single; moral and intellectual beingsin open
contempt of their humanitylevel at a blow with <137 DIVISION OF
OLD MASTER'S PROPERTY>horsessheephorned 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 inspectionto ascertain their value in gold
and silver--the only standard of worth applied by slaveholders to
slaves! How vividlyat that momentdid the brutalizing power
of slavery flash before me! Personality swallowed up in the
sordid idea of property! Manhood lost in chattelhood!

After the valuationthen 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 questionthan the oxen and cows that stood chewing at the
haymow. One word from the appraisersagainst all preferences or
prayerswas enough to sunder all the ties of friendship and
affectionand even to separate husbands and wivesparents and
children. We were all appalled before that powerwhichto
human seemingcould bless or blast us in a moment. Added to the
dread of separationmost 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 sotand had alreadyby his
reckless mismanagement and profligate dissipationwasted a large
portion of old master's property. To fall into his handswas
thereforeconsidered merely as the first step toward being sold
away to the far south. He would spend his fortune in a few
yearsand his farms and slaves would be soldwe thoughtat
public outcry; and we should be hurried away to the cotton
fieldsand rice swampsof the sunny south. This was the cause
of deep consternation.

The people of the northand free people generallyI thinkhave
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 thereas they listprevents any extravagant attachment
to any one particular placein their case. On the other hand
the slave is a fixture; he has no choiceno goalno
destination; but is pegged down to a single spotand must take

root hereor nowhere. The idea of removal elsewherecomes
generallyin the shape of a threatand in punishment of crime.
It isthereforeattended with fear and dread. A slave seldom
thinks of bettering his condition by being soldand hence he
looks upon separation from his native placewith none of the
enthusiasm which animates the bosoms of young freemenwhen they
contemplate a life in the far westor in some distant country
where they intend to rise to wealth and distinction. Nor can
those from whom they separategive them up with that
cheerfulness with which friends and relations yield each other
upwhen they feel that it is for the good of the departing one
that he is removed from his native place. Thentoothere is
correspondenceand there isat leastthe hope of reunion
because reunion is _possible_. Butwith the slaveall these
mitigating circumstances are wanting. There is no improvement in
his condition _probable_--no correspondence _possible_--no
reunion attainable. His going out into the worldis like a
living man going into the tombwhowith open eyessees himself
buried out of sight and hearing of wifechildren and friends of
kindred tie.

In contemplating the likelihoods and possibilities of our
circumstancesI probably suffered more than most of my fellow
servants. I had known what it was to experience kindand even
tender treatment; they had known nothing of the sort. Lifeto
themhad been rough and thornyas well as dark. They had--most
of them--lived on my old master's farm in Tuckahoeand had felt
the reign of Mr. Plummer's rule. The overseer had written his
character on the living parchment of most of their backsand
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 Baltimorewho was
almost a mother to me. She was in tears when we partedand the
probabilities of ever seeing her againtrembling in the balance
as they didcould not be viewed without alarm and agony. The
thought of leaving that kind mistress foreverandworse still
of being the slave of Andrew Anthony--a man whobut a few days
before the division of the propertyhadin my presenceseized
my brother Perry by the throatdashed him on the groundand
with the heel of his boot stamped him on the headuntil the
blood gushed from his nose and ears--was terrible! This fiendish
proceeding had no better apology than the factthat Perry had
gone to playwhen Master Andrew wanted him for some trifling
service. This crueltytoowas of a piece with his general
character. After inflicting his heavy blows on my brotheron
observing me looking at him with intense astonishmenthe said
_That_ is the way I will serve you, one of these days;meaning
no doubtwhen I should come into his possession. This threat
the reader may well supposewas 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
ordersand had violated noneand there wasthereforeno
excuse for flogging me.

At lastthe anxiety and suspense were ended; and they ended
thanks to a kind Providencein accordance with my wishes. I
fell to the portion of Mrs. Lucretia--the dear lady who bound up
my headwhen 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 meand how delighted Mr. Hugh's son would be to
have me back; andwithalhaving no immediate use for one so

youngthey 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 Baltimorebefore the matter was
decided; and the time really seemed full six months.

One trouble overand on comes another. The slave's life is full
of uncertainty. I had returned to Baltimore but a short time
when the tidings reached methat my friendMrs. Lucretiawho
was only second in my regard to Mrs. Hugh Auldwas deadleaving
her husband and only one child--a daughternamed Amanda.

Shortly after the death of Mrs. Lucretiastrange to sayMaster
Andrew diedleaving his wife and one child. Thusthe 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 slavesin
consequence of these deathsyet I could not help feeling less
secureafter the death of my friendMrs. Lucretiathan I had
done during her life. While she livedI 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 familyafter the
events just namedI used this language:

Now all the property of my old masterslaves includedwas in
the hands of strangers--strangers who had nothing to do in
accumulating it. Not a slave was left free. All remained
slavesfrom youngest to oldest. If any one thing in my
experiencemore than anotherserved to deepen my conviction of
the infernal character of slaveryand to fill me with
unutterable loathing of slaveholdersit 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 infancyattended him in childhoodserved him
through lifeand at his death wiped from his icy brow the cold
death-sweatand 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 childrenher
grandchildrenand her great-grandchildrendividedlike so many
sheepwithout being gratified with the small privilege of a
single wordas to their or her own destiny. Andto cap the
climax of their base ingratitude and fiendish barbaritymy
grandmotherwho was now very oldhaving outlived my old master
and all his childrenhaving seen the beginning and end of all of
themand her present owners finding she <141 DEATH OF MRS.
LUCRETIA>was of but little valueher frame already racked with
the pains of old ageand complete helplessness fast stealing
over her once active limbsthey took her to the woodsbuilt her
a little hutput up a little mud-chimneyand 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 livesshe lives to suffer in utter
loneliness; she lives to remember and mourn over the loss of
childrenthe loss of grandchildrenand the loss of greatgrandchildren.
They arein the language of the slave's poet

_Gonegonesold 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:-

Gonegonesold and gone

To the rice swamp dank and lone

From Virginia hills and waters-

Woe is memy stolen daughters_!

The hearth is desolate. The childrenthe unconscious children
who once sang and danced in her presenceare gone. She gropes
her wayin the darkness of agefor a drink of water. Instead
of the voices of her childrenshe hears by day the moans of the
doveand by night the screams of the hideous owl. All is gloom.
The grave is at the door. And nowwhen weighed down by the
pains and aches of old agewhen the head inclines to the feet
when the beginning and ending of human existence meetand
helpless infancy and painful old age combine together--at this
timethis most needful timethe time for the exercise of that
tenderness and affection which children only can exercise toward
a declining parent--my poor old grandmotherthe devoted mother
of twelve childrenis left all alonein yonder little hut
before a few dim embers.

Two years after the death of Mrs. LucretiaMaster Thomas married
his second wife. Her name was Rowena Hamiltonthe eldest
daughter of Mr. William Hamiltona rich slaveholder on the
Eastern Shore of Marylandwho lived about five miles from St.
Michael'sthe then place of my master's residence.

Not long after his marriageMaster Thomas had a misunderstanding
with Master Hughandas a means of punishing his brotherhe
ordered him to send me home.

As the ground of misunderstanding will serve to illustrate the
character of southern chivalryand humanityI will relate it.

Among the children of my Aunt Millywas a daughternamed Henny.
When quite a childHenny had fallen into the fireand 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 somethingbut she was considered hardly worth the
having--of little more value than a horse with a broken leg.
This unprofitable piece of human propertyill shapenand
disfiguredCapt. Auld sent off to Baltimoremaking his brother
Hugh welcome to her services.

After giving poor Henny a fair trialMaster Hugh and his wife
came to the conclusionthat they had no use for the crippled
servantand they sent her back to Master Thomas. Thusthe
latter took as an act of ingratitudeon the part of his brother;
andas a mark of his displeasurehe required him to send me
immediately to St. Michael'ssayingif he cannot keep _"Hen_
he shall not have _Fred."_

Here was another shock to my nervesanother breaking up of my
plansand another severance of my religious and social
alliances. I was now a big boy. I had become quite useful to
several young colored menwho had made me their teacher. I had
taught some of them to readand was accustomed to spend many of

my leisure hours with them. Our attachment was strongand I
greatly dreaded the separation. But regretsespecially in a
slaveare unavailing. I was only a slave; my wishes were
nothingand my happiness was the sport of my masters.

My regrets at now leaving Baltimorewere not for the same
reasons as when I before left that cityto 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 placeboth in Master
Hughand in his once pious and affectionate wife. The influence
of brandy and bad company on himand the influence of slavery
and social isolation upon herhad 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 perfectthat he might
have been the original of Mrs. Stowe's christian hero. The
thought of leaving these dear friendsgreatly troubled mefor I
was going without the hope of ever returning to Baltimore again;
the feud between Master Hugh and his brother being bitter and
irreconcilableorat leastsupposed to be so.

In addition to thoughts of friends from whom I was partingas I
supposed_forever_I had the grief of neglected chances of
escape to brood over. I had put off running awayuntil 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'sdown the Chesapeake
bayour sloop--the "Amanda"--was passed by the steamers plying
between that city and Philadelphiaand I watched the course of
those steamersandwhile going to St. Michael'sI formed a
plan to escape from slavery; of which planand matters connected
therewith the kind reader shall learn more hereafter.

_Experience in St. Michael's_


St. Michael'sthe village in which was now my new homecompared
favorably with villages in slave statesgenerally. There were a
few comfortable dwellings in itbut the placeas a wholewore
a dullslovenlyenterprise-forsaken aspect. The mass of the
buildings were wood; they had never enjoyed the artificial

adornment of paintand time and storms had worn off the bright
color of the woodleaving them almost as black as buildings
charred by a conflagration.

St. Michael's hadin former years(previous to 1833for that
was the year I went to reside there) enjoyed some reputation as
a ship building communitybut that business had almost entirely
given place to oyster fishingfor the Baltimore and Philadelphia
markets--a course of life highly unfavorable to moralsindustry
and manners. Miles river was broadand its oyster fishing <145
ARRIVAL AT ST. MICHAEL'S>grounds were extensive; and the
fishermen were outoftenall dayand a part of the night
during autumnwinter and spring. This exposure was an excuse
for carrying with themin considerable quanties{sic}spirituous
liquorsthe then supposed best antidote for cold. Each canoe
was supplied with its jug of rum; and tipplingamong this class
of the citizens of St. Michael'sbecame general. This drinking
habitin an ignorant populationfostered coarsenessvulgarity
and an indolent disregard for the social improvement of the
placeso that it was admittedby the few soberthinking people
who remained therethat St. Michael's had become a very
_unsaintly_as well as unsightly placebefore I went there to

I left Baltimore for St. Michael's in the month of March1833.
I know the yearbecause it was the one succeeding the first
cholera in Baltimoreand was the yearalsoof that strange
phenomenonwhen the heavens seemed about to part with its starry
train. I witnessed this gorgeous spectacleand was awe-struck.
The air seemed filled with brightdescending messengers from the
sky. It was about daybreak when I saw this sublime scene. I was
not without the suggestionat the momentthat it might be the
harbinger of the coming of the Son of Man; andin my then state
of mindI was prepared to hail Him as my friend and deliverer.
I had readthat 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
attachedthey were rudely broken by some unnatural outside
power; and I was beginning to look away to heaven for the rest
denied me on earth.

Butto my story. It was now more than seven years since I had
lived with Master Thomas Auldin the family of my old masteron
Col. Lloyd's plantation. We were almost entire strangers to each
other; forwhen I knew him at the house of my old masterit 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 itselfin form and in factto assist Master Thomas in
robbing me of my rightful libertyand of the just reward of my
labor; thereforewhatever rights I have against Master ThomasI
haveequallyagainst 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
thereforebelong to each."

I shall here make a profession of faith which may shock some
offend othersand be dissented from by all. It is this: Within
the bounds of his just earningsI hold that the slave is fully
justified in helping himself to the _gold and silverand the
best apparel of his masteror 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 crimeknown either to the laws of God or to
the laws of man. If he stealshe 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 relationand I believe they will be so held at the
judgmentin the sight of a just God. Make a man a slaveand
you rob him of moral responsibility. Freedom of choice is the
essence of all accountability. But my kind readers are
probablyless concerned about my opinionsthan about that which
more nearly touches my personal experience; albeitmy opinions
havein some sortbeen formed by that experience.

Bad as slaveholders areI have seldom met with one so entirely
destitute of every element of character capable of inspiring
respectas was my present masterCapt. Thomas Auld.

When I lived with himI 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 himselfand 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;_ andof all slaveholdersthese
latter are_by far_the most exacting. There was in him all
the love of dominationthe pride of masteryand the swagger of
authoritybut 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 stronghis enforcement weak.

Slaves are not insensible to the whole-souled characteristics of
a generousdashing slaveholderwho 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 fretfullittle
soulwho never uses the lash but at the suggestion of a love of

Slavestooreadily 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
slaveholderwithout 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 awkwardand
consequentlyfretful. 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; andI
thinkher road was less rough than ours.

In the month of August1833when I had almost become desperate
under the treatment of Master Thomasand when I entertained more
strongly than ever the oft-repeated determination to run awaya
circumstance occurred which seemed to promise brighter and better
days for us all. At a Methodist camp-meetingheld in the Bay
Side (a famous place for campmeetings) about eight miles from St.
Michael'sMaster Thomas came out with a profession of religion.
He had long been an object of interest to the churchand to the
ministersas 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 principlebut most likelyfrom interest. There
was very little to do for himto give him the appearance of
pietyand to make him a pillar in the church. Wellthe campmeeting
continued a week; people gathered from all parts of the
countyand two steamboat loads came from Baltimore. The ground
was happily chosen; seats were arranged; a stand erected; a rude
altar fenced infronting the preachers' standwith 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' standand outside the long
rows of seatsrose the first class of stately tentseach vieing
with the other in strengthneatnessand capacity for
accommodating its inmates. Behind this first circle of tents was
anotherless imposingwhich reached round the camp-ground to
the speakers' stand. Outside this second class of tents were
covered wagonsox cartsand vehicles of every shape and size.
These served as tents to their owners. Outside of thesehuge
fires were burningin all directionswhere roastingand
boilingand fryingwere going onfor the benefit of those who
were attending to their own spiritual welfare within the circle.
_Behind_ the preachers' standa 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 thishe willat any
ratebehave toward us more kindlyand feed us more generously
than he has heretofore done." Appealing to my own religious
experienceand judging my master by what was true in my own
caseI could not regard him as soundly convertedunless 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 faithI confess
was not great. There was something in his appearance thatin my
mindcast a doubt over his conversion. Standing where I didI
could see his every movement. I watched narrowly while he
remained in the little pen; and although I saw that his face was
extremely redand his hair disheveledand though I heard him
groanand saw a stray tear halting on his cheekas 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 lonelinessdistressed meand cast a doubt
upon the whole transactionof 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 halfheartedness,
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 timeand en<153 FAITH
AND WORKS AT VARIANCE>couraged me to hope. Butas I have before
saidI was doomed to disappointment. Master Thomas seemed to be
aware of my hopes and expectations concerning him. I have
thoughtbefore nowthat he looked at me in answer to my
glancesas much as to sayI 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.

Possiblyto convince us that we must not presume _too much_ upon
his recent conversionhe 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 religionthereforeneither
made him emancipate his slavesnor caused him to treat them with
greater humanity. If religion had any effect on his character at
allit made him more cruel and hateful in all his ways. The
natural wickedness of his heart had not been removedbut only
reinforcedby the profession of religion. Do I judge him
harshly? God forbid. Facts _are_ facts. Capt. Auld made the
greatest profession of piety. His house wasliterallya house
of prayer. In the morningand in the eveningloud prayers and
hymns were heard therein 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
penopposite to the preachers' standon 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 brethrenand 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 hein
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 holiestif 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 landwhile wein the kitchenwere
nearly starving. Not often did we get a smile of recognition
from these holy men. They seemed almost as unconcerned about our
getting to heavenas they were about our getting out of slavery.
To this general charge there was one exception--the Rev. GEORGE
COOKMAN. Unlike Rev. Messrs. StorksEwryHickeyHumphrey 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 loveand almost venerateMr. Cookman.
It was pretty generally believed that he had been chiefly
instrumental in bringing one of the largest slaveholders--Mr.
Samuel Harrison--in that neighborhoodto emancipate all his
slavesandindeedthe general impression wasthat Mr. Cookman
had labored faithfully with slaveholderswhenever he met them
to induce them to emancipate their bondmenand that he did this
as a religious duty. When this good man was at our housewe
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 slaveswhen this faithful
preacher of the gospel was removed from the Talbot county
circuit. He was an eloquent preacherand possessed what few
ministerssouth of Mason Dixon's linepossessor _dare_ to
showviz: a warm and philanthropic heart. The Mr. Cookmanof
whom I speakwas an Englishman by birthand perished while on
his way to Englandon board the ill-fated "President". Could
the thousands of slaves <155 THE SABBATH SCHOOL>in Maryland know
the fate of the good manto whose words of comfort they were so
largely indebtedthey would thank me for dropping a tear on this
pagein memory of their favorite preacherfriend and


Butlet me return to Master Thomasand to my experienceafter
his conversion. In BaltimoreI couldoccasionallyget into a
Sabbath schoolamong the free childrenand receive lessons
with the rest; buthaving already learned both to read and to
writeI was more of a teacher than a pupileven there. When
howeverI went back to the Eastern Shoreand was at the house
of Master ThomasI was neither allowed to teachnor to be
taught. The whole community--with but a single exceptionamong
the whites--frowned upon everything like imparting instruction
either to slaves or to free colored persons. That single
exceptiona pious young mannamed Wilsonasked meone dayif
I would like to assist him in teaching a little Sabbath school
at the house of a free colored man in St. Michael'snamed James
Mitchell. The idea was to me a delightful oneand I told him I
would gladly devote as much of my Sabbath as I could commandto
that most laudable work. Mr. Wilson soon mustered up a dozen old
spelling booksand a few testaments; and we commenced
operationswith some twenty scholarsin our Sunday school.
Herethought Iis something worth living for; here is an
excellent chance for usefulness; and I shall soon have a company
of young friendslovers of knowledgelike some of my Baltimore
friendsfrom whom I now felt parted forever.

Our first Sabbath passed delightfullyand I spent the week after
very joyously. I could not go to Baltimorebut I could make a
little Baltimore here. At our second meetingI learned that
there was some objection to the existence of the Sabbath school;
andsure enoughwe 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 mobheaded by Mr. Wright
Fairbanks and Mr. Garrison West--two class-leaders<156>--and
Master Thomas; whoarmed with sticks and other missilesdrove
us offand commanded us never to meet for such a purpose again.
One of this pious crew told methat as for my partI wanted to
be another Nat Turner; and if I did not look outI should get as
many balls into meas Nat did into him. Thus ended the infant
Sabbath schoolin the town of St. Michael's. The reader will
not be surprised when I saythat the breaking up of my Sabbath
schoolby these class-leadersand professedly holy mendid 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 Thomasin breaking up and
destroying my Sabbath schoolthat 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 cousinHennywhose lameness made
her a burden to him. I have no extraordinary personal hard usage
toward myself to complain ofagainst himbut I have seen him
tie up the lame and maimed womanand whip her in a manner most
brutaland shocking; and thenwith blood-chilling blasphemyhe
would quote the passage of scriptureThat 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 wriststo a bolt in the
joistthreefour and five hours at a time. He would tie her up
early in the morningwhip her with a cowskin before breakfast;
leave her tied up; go to his storeandreturning to his dinner
repeat the castigation; laying on the rugged lashon flesh
already made raw by repeated blows. He seemed desirous to get

the poor girl out of existenceorat any rateoff his hands.
In proof of thishe afterwards gave her away to his sister Sarah
(Mrs. Cline) butas in the case of Master <157 BARBAROUS
TREATMENT OF HENNY>HughHenny was soon returned on his hands.
Finallyupon a pretense that he could do nothing with her (I use
his own words) he "set her adriftto take care of herself."
Here was a recently converted manholdingwith tight graspthe
well-framedand able bodied slaves left him by old master--the
personswhoin freedomcould have taken care of themselves;
yetturning loose the only cripple among themvirtually to
starve and die.

No doubthad Master Thomas been askedby some pious northern
brother_why_ he continued to sustain the relation of a
slaveholderto those whom he retainedhis answer would have
been precisely the same as many other religious slaveholders have
returned to that inquiryviz: "I hold my slaves for their own

Bad as my condition was when I lived with Master ThomasI was
soon to experience a life far more goading and bitter. The many
differences springing up between myself and Master Thomasowing
to the clear perception I had of his characterand 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; thatin factit had almost
ruined me for every good purposeand had fitted me for
everything that was bad. One of my greatest faultsor offenses
was that of letting his horse get awayand go down to the farm
belonging to his father-in-law. The animal had a liking for that
farmwith which I fully sympathized. Whenever I let it outit
would go dashing down the road to Mr. Hamilton'sas if going on
a grand frolic. My horse goneof course I must go after it.
The explanation of our mutual attachment to the place is the
same; the horse found there good pasturageand I found there
plenty of bread. Mr. Hamilton had his faultsbut starving his
slaves was not among them. He gave foodin abundanceand that
tooof 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 menor his horsewe liked so well to be at his father-inlaw's
farm. I had now lived with him nearly nine monthsand he
had given me a number of severe whippingswithout any visible
improvement in my characteror my conduct; and now he was
resolved to put me out--as he said--"_to be broken."_

There wasin the Bay Sidevery near the camp groundwhere my
master got his religious impressionsa man named Edward Covey
who enjoyed the execrated reputationof being a first rate hand
at breaking young Negroes. This Covey was a poor mana farm
renter; and this reputation (hateful as it was to the slaves and
to all good men) wasat the same timeof immense advantage to
him. It enabled him to get his farm tilled with very little
expensecompared 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 twoalmost free of chargefor the sake of the excellent
training such slaves got under his happy management! Like some
horse breakersnoted for their skillwho ride the best horses
in the country without expenseMr. Covey could have under him
the most fiery bloods of the neighborhoodfor the simple reward
of returning them to their owners_well broken_. Added to the

natural fitness of Mr. Covey for the duties of his professionhe
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 accounteither of my
welfare or of my happiness. By a law which I can clearly
comprehendbut cannot evade nor resistI am ruthlessly snatched
from the hearth of a fond grandmotherand 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 Shoreto be valued with the beasts of the fieldand
with themdivided 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 mea
difference arises between brothersand I am again broken upand
sent to St. Michael's; and nowfrom the latter placeI am

footing my way to the home of a new masterwhereI am given to
understandthatlike a wild young working animalI am to be
broken to the yoke of a bitter and life-long bondage."

With thoughts and reflections like theseI came in sight of a
small wood-colored buildingabout a mile from the main road
whichfrom the description I had receivedat startingI easily
recognized as my new home. The Chesapeake bay--upon the jutting
banks of which the little wood-colored house was standing--white
with foamraised by the heavy north-west wind; Poplar Island
covered with a thickblack pine foreststanding out amid this
half ocean; and Kent Pointstretching its sandydesert-like
shores out into the foam-cested bay--were all in <161 COVEY'S
RESIDENCE--THE FAMILY>sightand deepened the wild and desolate
aspect of my new home.

The good clothes I had brought with me from Baltimore were now
worn thinand had not been replaced; for Master Thomas was as
little careful to provide us against coldas against hunger.
Met here by a north windsweeping through an open space of forty
milesI was glad to make any port; andthereforeI 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 Hughescousin to Edward
Covey; Carolinethe cook; Bill Smitha hired man; and myself.
Bill SmithBill Hughesand myselfwere the working force of
the farmwhich consisted of three or four hundred acres. I was
nowfor the first time in my lifeto be a field hand; and in my
new employment I found myself even more awkward than a green
country boy may be supposed to beupon his first entrance into
the bewildering scenes of city life; and my awkwardness gave me
much trouble. Strange and unnatural as it may seemI had been
at my new home but three daysbefore Mr. Covey (my brother in
the Methodist church) gave me a bitter foretaste of what was in
reserve for me. I presume he thoughtthat since he had but a
single year in which to complete his workthe 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 motivedirect or indirectthe cause may be referredI
had not been in his possession three whole daysbefore he
subjected me to a most brutal chastisement. Under his heavy
blowsblood flowed freelyand wales were left on my back as
large as my little finger. The sores on my backfrom this
floggingcontinued for weeksfor 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
handmust be toldthat the reader may see how unreasonableas
well as how cruelmy new masterCoveywas. <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 himfor reasons similar to those which induced
my master to place me with him. Buthere are the facts
connected with the affairprecisely as they occurred.

On one of the coldest days of the whole month of January1834I
was orderedat day breakto get a load of woodfrom a forest
about two miles from the house. In order to perform this work
Mr. Covey gave me a pair of unbroken oxenforit seemshis
breaking abilities had not been turned in this direction; and I
may remarkin passingthat working animals in the southare
seldom so well trained as in the north. In due formand with
all proper ceremonyI was introduced to this huge yoke of
unbroken oxenand 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. Coveyhimself; and the introduction was the
first of the kind I had ever had. My lifehithertohad led me
away from horned cattleand 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 nameswhen
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 ropeabout ten feet
long and one inch thickand 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 openand I let
go of it to get the ropeagainoff 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 bodyliterally crushing it
to splintersand coming only within a few inches of subjecting
me to a similar crushingfor I was just in advance of the wheel
when it struck the left gate post. With these two hair-breadth
escapeI thought I could sucessfully{sic} explain to Mr. Covey
the delayand 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 learnedeven Covey himself would not have
undertakenwithout first driving the oxen for some time in the
open fieldpreparatory to their going into the woods. Butin
this I was disappointed. On coming to himhis countenance
assumed an aspect of rigid displeasureandas I gave him a
history of the casualties of my triphis wolfish facewith his
greenish eyesbecame 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 threatswhich made no impression on mehe rushed at me
with something of the savage fierceness of a wolftore off the
few and thinly worn clothes I had onand proceeded to wear out
on my backthe heavy goads which he had cut from the gum tree.
This flogging was the first of a series of floggings; and though
very severeit was less so than many which came after itand
thesefor 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 thereI was
whippedeither with sticks or cowskinsevery week. Aching
bones and a sore back were my constant companions. Frequent as
the lash was usedMr. Covey thought less of itas a means of
breaking down my spiritthan that of hard and long continued
labor. He worked me steadilyup to the point of my powers of
endurance. From the dawn of day in the morningtill the
dark<167 CUNNING AND TRICKERY OF COVEY>ness was complete in the
eveningI was kept at hard workin the field or the woods. At
certain seasons of the yearwe were all kept in the field till
eleven and twelve o'clock at night. At these timesCovey would
attend us in the fieldand urge us on with words or blowsas it
seemed best to him. He hadin his lifebeen an overseerand
he well understood the business of slave driving. There was no
deceiving him. He knew just what a man or boy could doand he
held both to strict account. When he pleasedhe would work
himselflike a very Turkmaking everything fly before him. It
washoweverscarcely necessary for Mr. Covey to be really
present in the fieldto 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 surpriseswhich he practicedI was
prepared to expect him at any moment. His plan wasnever to
approach the spot where his hands were at workin an openmanly
and direct manner. No thief was ever more artful in his devices
than this man Covey. He would creep and crawlin ditches and
gullies; hide behind stumps and bushesand practice so much of
the cunning of the serpentthat 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
breakingconsistedI should thinkin this species of cunning.
We were never secure. He could see or hear us nearly all the
time. He wasto usbehind every stumptreebush and fence on
the plantation. He carried this kind of trickery so farthat he
would sometimes mount his horseand make believe he was going to
St. Michael's; andin thirty minutes afterwardyou might find
his horse tied in the woodsand the snake-like Covey lying flat
in the ditchwith his head lifted above its edgeor in a fence
cornerwatching every movement of the slaves! I have known him
walk up to us and give us special ordersas to our workin
advanceas if he were leaving home with a view to being absent
several days; and before he got half way to the <168>househe

would avail himself of our inattention to his movementsto turn
short on his heelsconceal himself behind a fence corner or a
treeand watch us until the going down of the sun. Mean and
contemptible as is all thisit is in keeping with the character
which the life of a slaveholder is calculated to produce. There
is no earthly inducementin the slave's conditionto incite him
to labor faithfully. The fear of punishment is the sole motive
for any sort of industrywith him. Knowing this factas the
slaveholder doesand judging the slave by himselfhe naturally
concludes the slave will be idle whenever the cause for this fear
is absent. Henceall sorts of petty deceptions are practiced
to inspire this fear.

Butwith Mr. Coveytrickery was natural. Everything in the
shape of learning or religionwhich he possessedwas made to
conform to this semi-lying propensity. He did not seem conscious
that the practice had anything unmanlybase or contemptible
about it. It was a part of an important systemwith him
essential to the relation of master and slave. I thought I saw
in his very religious devotionsthis 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 latitudeswhich begin and end with a
simple prayer. No! the voice of praiseas well as of prayer
must be heard in his housenight and morning. At firstI was
called upon to bear some part in these exercises; but the
repeated flogging given me by Coveyturned the whole thing into
mockery. He was a poor singerand mainly relied on me for
raising the hymn for the familyand when I failed to do sohe
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 principledirecting 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 saidor impliedthat Mr. Edward Covey was a poor
man. He wasin factjust commencing to lay the foundation of
his fortuneas fortune is regarded in a slave state. The first
condition of wealth and respectability therebeing the ownership
of human propertyevery nerve is strainedby the poor manto
obtain itand very little regard is had to the manner of
obtaining it. In pursuit of this objectpious as Mr. Covey was
he proved himself to be as unscrupulous and base as the worst of
his neighbors. In the beginninghe was only able--as he said-"
to buy one slave;" andscandalous 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 wasthe birth of twins at the end of the year. At
this addition to his human stockboth Edward Covey and his wife
Susanwere ecstatic with joy. No one dreamed of reproaching the
womanor of finding fault with the hired man--Bill Smith--the
father of the childrenfor Mr. Covey himself had locked the two
up together every nightthus 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 foundthan is furnished in the fact that this
professedly Christian slaveholderamidst all his prayers and
hymnswas shamelessly and boastfully encouragingand actually
compellingin his own houseundisguised and unmitigated
fornicationas a means of increasing his human stock. I may
remark herethatwhile this fact will be read with disgust and
shame at the northit will be _laughed at_as smart and
praiseworthy in Mr. Coveyat 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 cowand raising stock from
her. The same rules are observedwith a view to increasing the
number and quality of the formeras of the latter.

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

If at any one time of my lifemore than anotherI was made to
drink the bitterest dregs of slaverythat 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
blowsnowor hail too hard for us to work in the field. Work
workworkwas scarcely more the order of the day than the
night. The longest days were too short for himand 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 bodysoul
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 stuporbetween sleep and wakeunder some large tree.
At timesI would rise upa flash of energetic freedom would
dart through my soulaccompanied with a faint beam of hope
flickered for a momentand then vanished. I sank down again
mourning over my wretched condition. I was sometimes prompted to
take my lifeand that of Coveybut 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 baywhose
broad bosom was ever white with sails from every quarter of the
habitable globe. Those beautiful vesselsrobed in purest white
so delightful to the eye of freemenwere to me so many shrouded
ghoststo terrify and torment me with thoughts of my wretched
condition. I have oftenin the deep stillness of a summer's
Sabbathstood all alone upon the banks of that noble bayand
tracedwith saddened heart and tearful eyethe countless number
of sails moving off to the mighty ocean. The sight of these
always affected me powerfully. My thoughts would compel
utterance; and therewith no audience but the AlmightyI would
pour out my soul's complaint in my rude waywith 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 swiftwinged
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 wreckedchanged and bewildered; goaded almost to
madness at one timeand at another reconciling myself to my
wretched condition. Everything in the way of kindnesswhich I
had experienced at Baltimore; all my former hopes and aspirations
for usefulness in the worldand the happy moments spent in the
exercises of religioncontrasted with my then present lotbut
increased my anguish.

I suffered bodily as well as mentally. I had neither sufficient
time in which to eat or to sleepexcept on Sundays. The
overworkand 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 chapterwith all its horrid incidents and shocking
featuresmay be taken as a fair representation of the first six
months of my life at Covey's. The reader has but to repeatin
his own mindonce a weekthe scene in the woodswhere Covey
subjected me to his merciless lashto have a true idea of my
bitter experience thereduring the first period of the breaking
process through which Mr. Covey carried me. I have no heart to
repeat each separate transactionin 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 lifewithout 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'sthan during
the remainder of the yearand as the change in my condition was
owing to causes which may help the reader to a better
understanding of human naturewhen subjected to the terrible
extremities of slaveryI will narrate the circumstances of this
<173 SCENE IN THE TREADING YARD>changealthough I may seem
thereby to applaud my own courage. You havedear readerseen
me humbleddegradedbroken downenslavedand brutalizedand
you understand how it was done; now let us see the converse of
all thisand how it was brought about; and this will take us
through the year 1834.

On one of the hottest days of the month of Augustof the year
just mentionedhad the reader been passing through Covey's farm
he might have seen me at workin what is there called the
treading yard--a yard upon which wheat is trodden out from the
strawby the horses' feet. I was thereat workfeeding the
fan,or rather bringing wheat to the fanwhile Bill Smith was
feeding. Our force consisted of Bill HughesBill Smithand a
slave by the name of Eli; the latter having been hired for this
occasion. The work was simpleand required strength and
activityrather than any skill or intelligenceand yetto one
entirely unused to such workit came very hard. The heat was
intense and overpoweringand there was much hurry to get the
wheattrodden out that daythrough the fan; sinceif that work
was done an hour before sundownthe hands would haveaccording
to a promise of Coveythat hour added to their night's rest. I
was not behind any of them in the wish to complete the day's work
before sundownandhenceI struggled with all my might to get
the work forward. The promise of one hour's repose on a week
daywas sufficient to quicken my paceand to spur me on to
extra endeavor. Besideswe had all planned to go fishingand 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'clockwhile the sun was pouring down
his burning raysand not a breeze was stirringI broke down; my
strength failed me; I was seized with a violent aching of the
headattended with extreme dizzinessand trembling in every
limb. Finding what was comingand feeling it would never do to
stop workI nerved myself upand staggered on until I fell by
the side of the wheat fanfeeling 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 performand
each part depended on the otherso that when one stoppedall
were compelled to stop. Coveywho had now become my dreadas
well as my tormentorwas at the houseabout a hundred yards
from where I was fanningand instantlyupon hearing the fan
stophe came down to the treading yardto inquire into the
cause of our stopping. Bill Smith told him I was sickand that
I was unable longer to bring wheat to the fan.

I hadby this timecrawled awayunder the side of a post-andrail
fencein the shadeand was exceeding ill. The intense
heat of the sunthe heavy dust rising from the fanthe
stoopingto take up the wheat from the yardtogether with the
hurryingto get throughhad caused a rush of blood to my head.
In this conditionCovey finding out where I wascame to me;
andafter standing over me a whilehe asked me what the matter

was. I told him as well as I couldfor it was with difficulty
that I could speak. He then gave me a savage kick in the side
which jarred my whole frameand commanded me to get up. The man
had obtained complete control over me; and if he had commanded me
to do any possible thingI shouldin my then state of mind
have endeavored to comply. I made an effort to risebut fell
back in the attemptbefore gaining my feet. The brute now gave
me another heavy kickand again told me to rise. I again tried
to riseand succeeded in gaining my feet; but upon stooping to
get the tub with which I was feeding the fanI again staggered
and fell to the ground; and I must have so fallenhad I been
sure that a hundred bullets would have pierced meas the
consequence. While downin this sad conditionand perfectly
helplessthe 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 ithe dealt me a heavy blow on my head
which made a large gashand caused the blood to run freely
saying<175 ESCAPE TO ST. MICHAEL'S>at the same timeIf _you
have got the headache, I'll cure you_.This donehe ordered me
again to risebut I made no effort to do so; for I had made up
my mind that it was uselessand that the heartless monster might
now do his worst; he could but kill meand that might put me out
of my misery. Finding me unable to riseor rather despairing of
my doing soCovey left mewith a view to getting on with the
work without me. I was bleeding very freelyand my face was
soon covered with my warm blood. Cruel and merciless as was the
motive that dealt that blowdear readerthe wound was fortunate
for me. Bleeding was never more efficacious. The pain in my
head speedily abatedand I was soon able to rise. Covey hadas
I have saidnow left me to my fate; and the question wasshall
I return to my workor shall I find my way to St. Michael'sand
make Capt. Auld acquainted with the atrocious cruelty of his
brother Coveyand beseech him to get me another master?
Remembering the object he had in viewin placing me under the
management of Coveyand furtherhis cruel treatment of my poor
crippled cousinHennyand his meanness in the matter of feeding
and clothing his slavesthere was little ground to hope for a
favorable reception at the hands of Capt. Thomas Auld.
NeverthelessI resolved to go straight to Capt. Auldthinking
thatif not animated by motives of humanityhe might be induced
to interfere on my behalf from selfish considerations. "He
cannot thought I, allow his property to be thus bruised and
batteredmarred and defaced; and I will go to himand tell him
the simple truth about the matter." In order to get to St.
Michael'sby the most favorable and direct roadI must walk
seven miles; and thisin my sad conditionwas 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 wasin every way
in an unfavorable plight for the journey. I however watched my
chancewhile the cruel and cunning Covey was looking in an
opposite directionand started <176>offacross the fieldfor
St. Michael's. This was a daring step; if it failedit would
only exasperate Coveyand increase the rigors of my bondage
during the remainder of my term of service under him; but the
step was takenand I must go forward. I succeeded in getting
nearly half way across the broad fieldtoward the woodsbefore
Mr. Covey observed me. I was still bleedingand the exertion of
running had started the blood afresh. _"Come back! Come back!"_
vociferated Coveywith threats of what he would do if I did not
return instantly. Butdisregarding his calls and his threatsI
pressed on toward the woods as fast as my feeble state would
allow. Seeing no signs of my stoppingCovey caused his horse to

be brought out and saddledas if he intended to pursue me. The
race was now to be an unequal one; andthinking I might be
overhauled by himif I kept the main roadI walked nearly the
whole distance in the woodskeeping far enough from the road to
avoid detection and pursuit. ButI had not gone farbefore my
little strength again failed meand I laid down. The blood was
still oozing from the wound in my head; andfor a timeI
suffered more than I can describe. There I wasin the deep
woodssick and emaciatedpursued 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 woodsall aloneand of
being torn to pieces by the buzzardshad not yet been rendered
tolerable by my many troubles and hardshipsand I was glad when
the shade of the treesand the cool evening breezecombined
with my matted hair to stop the flow of blood. After lying there
about three quarters of an hourbrooding over the singular and
mournful lot to which I was doomedmy mind passing over the
whole scale or circle of belief and unbelieffrom faith in the
overruling providence of Godto the blackest atheismI again
took up my journey toward St. Michael'smore 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-headedand in <177 BEARING OF
MASTER THOMAS>my shirt sleeves. The way was through bogs and
briersand I tore my feet often during the journey. I was full
five hours in going the seven or eight miles; partlybecause of
the difficulties of the wayand partlybecause of the
feebleness induced by my illnessbruises and loss of blood. On
gaining my master's storeI presented an appearance of
wretchedness and woefitted to move any but a heart of stone.
From the crown of my head to the sole of my feetthere were
marks of blood. My hair was all clotted with dust and bloodand
the back of my shirt was literally stiff with the same. Briers
and thorns had scarred and torn my feet and legsleaving blood
marks there. Had I escaped from a den of tigersI could not
have looked worse than I did on reaching St. Michael's. In this
unhappy plightI appeared before my professedly _Christian_
masterhumbly to invoke the interposition of his power and
authorityto protect me from further abuse and violence. I had
begun to hopeduring the latter part of my tedious journey
toward St. Michael'sthat 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
circumstancesas 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 heattoil 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; butthat 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 firstmaster Thomas seemed somewhat affected by
the story of my wrongsbut 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;_ butas I have said
humanity fell before the systematic tyranny of slavery. He first
walked <178>the floorapparently much agitated by my storyand
the sad spectacle I presented; butpresentlyit was _his_ turn
to talk. He began moderatelyby finding excuses for Coveyand
ending with a full justification of himand 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 lazinessand Covey did right to flog
meas he had done." After thus fairly annihilating meand
rousing himself by his own eloquencehe fiercely demanded what I
wished _him_ to do in the case!

With such a complete knock-down to all my hopesas he had given
meand feelingas I didmy entire subjection to his powerI
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 impudenceand would probably call down fresh violence
as well as wrath upon me. The guilt of a slave is alwaysand
everywherepresumed; and the innocence of the slaveholder or the
slave employeris always asserted. The word of the slave
against this presumptionis generally treated as impudence
worthy of punishment. "Do you contradict meyou rascal?" is a
final silencer of counter statements from the lips of a slave.

Calming down a little in view of my silence and hesitationand
perhapsfrom a rapid glance at the picture of misery I
presentedhe inquired againwhat I would have him do?Thus
invited a second timeI told Master Thomas I wished him to allow
me to get a new home and to find a new master; thatas sure as I
went back to live with Mr. Covey againI should be killed by
him; that he would never forgive my coming to him (Capt. Auld)
with a complaint against him (Covey); thatsince I had lived
with himhe almost crushed my spiritand I believed that he
would ruin me for future service; that my life was not safe in
his hands. ThisMaster Thomas _(my brother in the church)_
regarded as "nonsence{sic}." "There was no danger of Mr. Covey's
killing me; he was a good manindustrious and religiousand 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
nowthat your year has but half expiredI should lose your
wages for the entire year. You belong to Mr. Covey for one year
and you _must go back_ to himcome what will. You must not
trouble me with any more stories about Mr. Covey; and if you do
not go immediately homeI will get hold of you myself." This
was just what I expectedwhen I found he had _prejudged_ the
case against me. "ButSir I said, I am sick and tiredand I
cannot get home to-night." At thishe again relentedand
finally he allowed me to remain all night at St. Michael's; but
said I must be off early in the morningand 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 workfor he probably thought that were _he_
in the place of a slave with no wages for his workno praise for
well doingno 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 isthat there are notunder the whole
heavensa 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 lipsand 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 havein the next chapter--what they were
ledperhapsto expect to find in this--namely: an account of my
partial disenthrallment from the tyranny of Coveyand the marked
change which it brought about.

_The Last Flogging_


Sleep itself does not always come to the relief of the weary in
bodyand the broken in spirit; especially when past troubles
only foreshadow coming disasters. The last hope had been
extinguished. My masterwho 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 backcovered with reproaches and
bruisesinto 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 meprevious 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 offaccording to the order of
Master Thomasfeeling that I had no friend on earthand
doubting if I had one in heaven. I reached Covey's about nine
o'clock; and just as I stepped into the fieldbefore I had
reached the houseCoveytrue to his snakish habitsdarted out
at me <181 RETURN TO COVEY'S>from a fence cornerin which he had
secreted himselffor 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 preyhad he succeeded in
getting his hands upon mefor I had taken no refreshment since
noon on Friday; and thistogether with the peltingexcitement
and the loss of bloodhad reduced my strength. Ihowever
darted back into the woodsbefore the ferocious hound could get
hold of meand buried myself in a thicketwhere he lost sight
of me. The corn-field afforded me coverin getting to the
woods. But for the tall cornCovey would have overtaken meand
made me his captive. He seemed very much chagrined that he did
not catch meand gave up the chasevery reluctantly; for I
could see his angry movementstoward the house from which he had
salliedon his foray.

Wellnow I am clear of Coveyand of his wrathful lashfor
present. I am in the woodburied in its somber gloomand
hushed in its solemn silence; hid from all human eyes; shut in
with nature and nature's Godand 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 graceand partly from the sham religion which everywhere
prevailedcast in my mind a doubt upon all religionand led me
to the conviction that prayers were unavailing and delusive)
prevented my embracing the opportunityas a religious one.
Lifein itselfhad 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'sand have my flesh torn
to piecesand 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
weakfrom the toils of the previous dayand from the want of
<182>food and rest; and had been so little concerned about my
appearancethat I had not yet washed the blood from my garments.
I was an object of horroreven to myself. Lifein Baltimore
when most oppressivewas a paradise to this. What had I done
what had my parents donethat such a life as this should be
mine? That dayin the woodsI would have exchanged my manhood
for the brutehood of an ox.

Night came. I was still in the woodsunresolved what to do.
Hunger had not yet pinched me to the point of going homeand I
laid myself down in the leaves to rest; for I had been watching
for hunters all daybut not being molested during the dayI
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 mesince morning.

During the nightI 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 woodsin the day timeand
this advantage is much greater at night. I was not able to
engage in a physical struggleand I had recourse to the common
resort of the weak. I hid myself in the leaves to prevent
discovery. Butas the night rambler in the woods drew nearerI
found him to be a _friend_not an enemy; it was a slave of Mr.
William Groomesof Eastona kind hearted fellownamed "Sandy."
Sandy lived with Mr. Kemp that yearabout four miles from St.
Michael's. Helike myself had been hired out by the year; but
unlike myselfhad not been hired out to be broken. Sandy was
the husband of a free womanwho 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 hepoor fellowhadshortly after my coming into
the neighborhoodbeen sold off to the far south. I saw Jim

ironedin the cartto be carried to Easton for sale--pinioned
like a yearling for the slaughter. My knowledge was now the
pride of my brother slaves; andno doubtSandy felt something
of the general interest in me on that account. The supper was
soon readyand though I have feasted sincewith honorables
lord mayors and aldermenover the seamy supper on ash cake and
cold waterwith Sandywas the mealof all my lifemost sweet
to my tasteand now most vivid in my memory.

Supper overSandy and I went into a discussion of what was
_possible_ for meunder the perils and hardships which now
overshadowed my path. The question wasmust I go back to Covey
or must I now tempt to run away? Upon a careful surveythe
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 rightand "Potpie"
river to the leftand 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 Africanand had inherited some of the so-called
magical powerssaid to be possessed by African and eastern
nations. He told me that he could help me; thatin those very
woodsthere was an herbwhich in the morning might be found
possessing all the powers required for my protection (I put his
thoughts in my own language); and thatif I would take his
advicehe would procure me the root of the herb of which he
spoke. He told me furtherthat if I would take that root and
wear it on my right sideit would be impossible for Covey to
strike me a blow; that with this root about my personno white
man could whip me. He said he had carried it for yearsand 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 onefor he always meant to carry that root as a
protection. He knew Covey wellfor Mrs. Covey was the daughter
of Mr. Kemp; and he (Sandy) had heard of the barbarous treatment
to which I was subjectedand he wanted to do something for me.

Now all this talk about the rootwas to mevery absurd and
ridiculousif not positively sinful. I at first rejected the
idea that the simple carrying a root on my right side (a rootby
the wayover which I walked every time I went into the woods)
could possess any such magic power as he ascribed to itand I
wasthereforenot 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 devilas this power implied. Butwith all my learning--it
was really precious little--Sandy was more than a match for me.
My book learning,he saidhad not kept Covey off me(a
powerful <185 THE MAGIC ROOT>argument just then) and he entreated
mewith flashing eyesto try this. If it did me no goodit
could do me no harmand it would cost me nothingany way.
Sandy was so earnestand so confident of the good qualities of
this weedthatto please himrather than from any conviction
of its excellenceI was induced to take it. He had been to me
the good Samaritanand hadalmost providentiallyfound meand
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 sortI
took the roots from Sandyand put them in my right hand pocket.

This wasof courseSunday morning. Sandy now urged me to go
homewith all speedand to walk up bravely to the houseas
though nothing had happened. I saw in Sandy too deep an insight

into human naturewith all his superstitionnot to have some
respect for his advice; and perhapstooa slight gleam or
shadow of his superstition had fallen upon me. At any rateI
started off toward Covey'sas directed by Sandy. Havingthe
previous nightpoured my griefs into Sandy's earsand got him
enlisted in my behalfhaving made his wife a sharer in my
sorrowsand havingalsobecome well refreshed by sleep and
foodI moved offquite courageouslytoward the much dreaded
Covey's. Singularly enoughjust as I entered his yard gateI
met him and his wifedressed 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 lotand he wished me to drive them out;
inquired how I wasand seemed an altered man. This
extraordinary conduct of Coveyreally made me begin to think
that Sandy's herb had more virtue in it than Iin my pridehad
been willing to allow; andhad the day been other than SundayI
should have attributed Covey's altered manner solely to the magic
power of the root. I suspectedhoweverthat the _Sabbath_and
not the _root_was the real explanation of Covey's manner. His
religion hindered him from breaking the <186>Sabbathbut 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 weekhe would not
hesitateon Sundayto teach me the value of my soulor the way
of life and salvation by Jesus Christ.

All went well with me till Monday morning; and thenwhether the
root had lost its virtueor 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 indulgencefor his faithful
Sabbath day's worshipit is not necessary for me to knowor to
inform the reader; butthis I _may_ say--the pious and benignant
smile which graced Covey's face on _Sunday_wholly disappeared
on _Monday_. Long before daylightI was called up to go and
feedruband curry the horses. I obeyed the calland would
have so obeyed ithad it been made at an earilier{sic} hourfor
I had brought my mind to a firm resolveduring that Sunday's
reflectionviz: to obey every orderhowever unreasonableif it
were possibleandif Mr. Covey should then undertake to beat
meto defend and protect myself to the best of my ability. My
religious views on the subject of resisting my masterhad
suffered a serious shockby the savage persecution to which I
had been subjectedand 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 brotherCovey.

Whilst I was obeying his order to feed and get the horses ready
for the fieldand when in the act of going up the stable loft
for the purpose of throwing down some bladesCovey sneaked into
the stablein his peculiar snake-like wayand seizing me
suddenly by the leghe brought me to the stable floorgiving my
newly mended body a fearful jar. I now forgot my rootsand
remembered my pledge to _stand up in my own defense_. The brute
was endeavoring skillfully to get a slip-knot on my legsbefore
I could <187 THE FIGHT>draw up my feet. As soon as I found what
he was up toI gave a sudden spring (my two day's rest had been
of much service to me) and by that meansno doubthe was able
to bring me to the floor so heavily. He was defeated in his plan
of tying me. While downhe 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
whoeight-and-forty hours beforecouldwith his slightest word
have made me tremble like a leaf in a stormI do not know; at
any rate_I was resolved to fight_andwhat was better still
I was actually hard at it. The fighting madness had come upon
meand I found my strong fingers firmly attached to the throat
of my cowardly tormentor; as heedless of consequencesat the
momentas though we stood as equals before the law. The very
color of the man was forgotten. I felt as supple as a catand
was ready for the snakish creature at every turn. Every blow of
his was parriedthough I dealt no blows in turn. I was strictly
on the _defensive_preventing him from injuring merather 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 throatthat his blood followed my nails. He held meand I
held him.

All was fairthus farand the contest was about equal. My
resistance was entirely unexpectedand Covey was taken all aback
by itfor he trembled in every limb. _"Are you going to
resist_you scoundrel?" said he. To whichI returned a polite
_"Yes sir;"_ steadily gazing my interrogator in the eyeto meet
the first approach or dawning of the blowwhich I expected my
answer would call forth. Butthe conflict did not long remain
thus equal. Covey soon cried out lustily for help; not that I
was obtaining any marked advantage over himor was injuring him
but because he was gaining none over meand was not ablesingle
handedto conquer me. He called for his cousin Hughsto come
to his assistanceand now the scene was changed. I was
compelled to <188>give blowsas well as to parry them; and
since I wasin any caseto suffer for resistanceI 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 Coveybut
_aggressive_ toward Hughs; andat the first approach of the
latterI dealt a blowin my desperationwhich fairly sickened
my youthful assailant. He went offbending over with painand
manifesting no disposition to come within my reach again. The
poor fellow was in the act of trying to catch and tie my right
handand while flattering himself with successI gave him the
kick which sent him staggering away in painat the same time
that I held Covey with a firm hand.

Taken completely by surpriseCovey seemed to have lost his usual
strength and coolness. He was frightenedand stood puffing and
blowingseemingly 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 resistcome 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 thathe gave me a shakeand attempted to drag me toward a
stick of woodthat was lying just outside the stable door. He
meant to knock me down with it; butjust as he leaned over to
get the stickI seized him with both hands by the collarand
with a vigorous and sudden snatchI brought my assailant
harmlesslyhis full lengthon the _not_ overclean ground--for
we were now in the cow yard. He had selected the place for the
fightand it was but right that he should have all the
advantges{sic} of his own selection.

By this timeBillthe hiredmancame home. He had been to Mr.
Hemsley'sto spend the Sunday with his nominal wifeand was
coming home on Monday morningto go to work. Covey and I had

been skirmishing from before daybreaktill nowthat the sun was
almost shooting his beams over the eastern woodsand we were
still at it. I could not see where the matter was to terminate.
He evidently was afraid to let me golest I should again <189
BILL REFUSES TO ASSIST COVEY>make off to the woods; otherwisehe
would probably have obtained arms from the houseto frighten me.
Holding meCovey called upon Bill for assistance. The scene
herehad 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 doMr. Covey said
Bill. Take hold of him--take hold of him!" said Covey. With a
toss of his headpeculiar to Billhe saidindeed, Mr. Covey I
want to go to work._"This is_ your work said Covey; take
hold of him." Bill repliedwith spiritMy 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 repliedMy GOD! Frederick, I ain't goin' to tech
ye,and Bill walked offleaving Covey and myself to settle our
matters as best we might.

Butmy present advantage was threatened when I saw Caroline (the
slave-woman of Covey) coming to the cow yard to milkfor she was
a powerful womanand could have mastered me very easily
exhausted as I now was. As soon as she came into the yardCovey
attempted to rally her to his aid. Strangely--andI may add
fortunately--Caroline was in no humor to take a hand in any such
sport. We were all in open rebellionthat 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-
Nowyou scoundrelgo 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 notin all the
scuffledrawn a single drop of blood from me. I had drawn blood
from him; andeven without this satisfactionI should have been
victoriousbecause my aim had not been to injure himbut to
prevent his injuring me.

During the whole six months that I lived with Coveyafter this
transactionhe never laid on me the weight of his finger in
anger. He wouldoccasionallysay 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 feelingwhich answeredYou 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.

Wellmy dear readerthis battle with Mr. Covey--undignified as
it wasand 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
manwithout forceis without the essential dignity of humanity.

Human nature is so constitutedthat it cannot _honor_ a helpless
manalthough 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 somethinghazarded somethingin
repelling the unjust and cruel aggressions of a tyrant. Covey
was a tyrantand a cowardly onewithal. After resisting himI
felt as I had never felt before. It was a resurrection from the
dark and pestiferous tomb of slaveryto the heaven of
comparative freedom. I was no longer a servile cowardtrembling
under the frown of a brother worm of the dustbutmy long-cowed
spirit was roused to an attitude of manly independence. I had
reached the pointat 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 defendand he is really _"a power on earth_."
While slaves prefer their liveswith floggingto instant death
they will always find Christians enoughlike unto Coveyto
accommodate that preference. From this timeuntil that of my
escape from slaveryI was never fairly whipped. Several
attempts were made to whip mebut they were always unsuccessful.
Bruises I did getas I shall hereafter inform the reader; but
the case I have been describingwas the end of the brutification
to which slavery had subjected me.

The reader will be glad to know whyafter I had so grievously
offended Mr. Coveyhe did not have me taken in hand by the
authorities; indeedwhy the law of Marylandwhich assigns
hanging to the slave who resists his masterwas not put in force
against me; at any ratewhy I was not taken upas is usual in
such casesand publicly whippedfor an example to other slaves
and as a means of deterring me from committing the same offense
again. I confessthat the easy manner in which I got offfor a
long timea surprise to meand I cannoteven nowfully
explain the cause.

The only explanation I can venture to suggestis the factthat
Covey wasprobablyashamed to have it known and confessed that
he had been mastered by a boy of sixteen. Mr. Covey enjoyed the
unbounded and very valuable reputationof being a first rate
overseer and _Negro breaker_. By means of this reputationhe
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 byin silence. The
story that he had undertaken to whip a ladand had been
resistedwasof itselfsufficient to damage him; for his
bearing shouldin the estimation of slaveholdersbe of that
imperial order that should make such an occurrence _impossible_.
I judge from these circumstancesthat Covey deemed it best to
<192>give me the go-by. It isperhapsnot altogether
creditable to my natural temperthatafter this conflict with
Mr. CoveyI didat timespurposely aim to provoke him to an
attackby 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 damageif he ever again attempted to lay
violent hands on me.

_ Hereditary bondmenknow ye not
Who would be freethemselves must strike the blow?


_New Relations and Duties_


My term of actual service to Mr. Edward Covey ended on Christmas
day1834. I gladly left the snakish Coveyalthough 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 handsbut I
had become somewhat reckless. I cared very little into whose
hands I fell--I meant to fight my way. Despite of Coveytoo
the report got abroadthat I was hard to whip; that I was guilty
of kicking back; that though generally a good tempered NegroI
sometimes "_got the devil in me_." These sayings were rife in
Talbot countyand they distinguished me among my servile
brethren. Slavesgenerallywill fight each otherand die at
each other's hands; but there are few who are not held in awe by
a white man. Trained from the cradle upto think and <194>feel
that their masters are superiorand invested with a sort of
sacrednessthere are few who can outgrow or rise above the
control which that sentiment exercises. I had now got free from
itand the thing was known. One bad sheep will spoil a whole
flock. Among the slavesI was a bad sheep. I hated slavery
slaveholdersand all pertaining to them; and I did not fail to
inspire others with the same feelingwherever and whenever
opportunity was presented. This made me a marked lad among the
slavesand a suspected one among the slaveholders. A knowledge
of my ability to read and writegot pretty widely spreadwhich
was very much against me.

The days between Christmas day and New Year'sare allowed the
slaves as holidays. During these daysall regular work was
suspendedand there was nothing to do but to keep firesand
look after the stock. This time was regarded as our ownby the
grace of our mastersand wetherefore used itor abused itas
we pleased. Those who had families at a distancewere now
expected to visit themand to spend with them the entire week.
The younger slavesor the unmarried oneswere expected to see
to the cattleand attend to incidental duties at home. The
holidays were variously spent. The soberthinking and
industrious ones of our numberwould employ themselves in
manufacturing corn broomsmatshorse collars and basketsand
some of these were very well made. Another class spent their
time in hunting opossumscoonsrabbitsand other game. But
the majority spent the holidays in sportsball playing
wrestlingboxingrunning foot racesdancingand drinking
whisky; and this latter mode of spending the time was generally
most agreeable to their masters. A slave who would work during
the holidayswas thoughtby his masterundeserving of
holidays. Such an one had rejected the favor of his master.
There wasin this simple act of continued workan accusation
against slaves; and a slave could not help thinkingthat if he

made three dollars during the holidayshe might make three
hundred during the year. Not to be drunk during the holi<195
EFFECTS OF HOLIDAYS>dayswas disgraceful; and he was esteemed a
lazy and improvident manwho could not afford to drink whisky
during Christmas.

The fiddlingdancing 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 beatsand
sings his merry songsso ordering the words as to have them fall
pat with the movement of his hands. Among a mass of nonsense and
wild froliconce in a while a sharp hit is given to the meanness
of slaveholders. Take the followingfor 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
slaverygiving--as it does--to the lazy and idlethe comforts
which God designed should be given solely to the honest laborer.
But to the holiday's.

Judging from my own observation and experienceI believe these
holidays to be among the most effective meansin the hands of
slaveholdersof keeping down the spirit of insurrection among
the slaves.

To enslave mensuccessfully and safelyit 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 pleasurewithin 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 meetand enjoy each other's
society; the drunken man can get plenty of whisky; and the
religious man can hold prayer meetingspreachpray and exhort
during the holidays. Before the holidaysthese are pleasures in
prospect; after the holidaysthey 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 libertiesperiodically
and to keep themthe year roundclosely confined to the narrow
circle of their homesI 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 mindwhen reduced to the condition of slavery. But for
thesethe rigors of bondage would become too severe for
enduranceand 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 destructivethan the
insurrectionary fires which would be sure to burst forth in
different parts of the southfrom such interference.

Thusthe holidaysbecame part and parcel of the gross fraud
wrongs and inhumanity of slavery. Ostensiblythey are
institutions of benevolencedesigned to mitigate the rigors of
slave lifebutpracticallythey are a fraudinstituted by
human selfishnessthe better to secure the ends of injustice and
oppression. The slave's happiness is not the end soughtbut
ratherthe 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 allowedbut from a prudent regard to the
safety of the slave system. I am strengthened in this opinion
by the factthat 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 plainthat everything like rational
enjoyment among the slavesis frowned upon; and only those wild
and low sportspeculiar to semi-civilized peopleare
encouraged. All the license allowedappears to have no other
object than to disgust the slaves with their temporary freedom
and to make them as glad to return to their workas they were to
leave it. By plunging them into exhausting depths of drunkenness
and dissipationthis effect is almost certain to follow. I have
known slaveholders resort to cunning trickswith a view of
getting their slaves deplorably drunk. A usual plan isto make
bets on a slavethat he can drink more whisky than any other;
and so to induce a rivalry among themfor the mastery in this
degradation. The scenesbrought about in this waywere often
scandalous and loathsome in the extreme. Whole multitudes might
be found stretched out in brutal drunkennessat once helpless
and disgusting. Thuswhen the slave asks for a few hours of
virtuous freedomhis cunning master takes advantage of his
ignoranceand cheers him with a dose of vicious and revolting
dissipationartfully labeled with the name of LIBERTY. We were
induced to drinkI among the restand when the holidays were
overwe all staggered up from our filth and wallowingtook a
long breathand went away to our various fields of work;
feelingupon the wholerather glad to go from that which our
masters artfully deceived us into the belief was freedomback
again to the arms of slavery. It was not what we had taken it to
benor what it might have beenhad 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 slaveholdersfrom what I know of their treatment
of slavesin 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 haveor to enjoy. A slavefor instancelikes
molasses; he steals some; to cure him of the taste for ithis
masterin many caseswill go away to townand buy a large
quantity of the _poorest_ qualityand set it before his slave
andwith whip in handcompel him to eat ituntil 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 foodwhen their

allowance has failed them. The same disgusting process works
welltooin other thingsbut I need not cite them. When a
slave is drunkthe slaveholder has no fear that he will plan an
insurrection; no fear that he will escape to the north. It is
the soberthinking slave who is dangerousand needs the
vigilance of his masterto keep him a slave. Butto proceed
with my narrative.

On the first of January1835I proceeded from St. Michael's to
Mr. William Freeland'smy new home. Mr. Freeland lived only
three miles from St. Michael'son an old worn out farmwhich
required much labor to restore it to anything like a selfsupporting

I was not long in finding Mr. Freeland to be a very different man
from Mr. Covey. Though not richMr. Freeland was what may be
called a well-bred southern gentlemanas 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 slaveholderand shared many of the vices of his classhe
seemed alive to the sentiment of honor. He had some sense of
justiceand some feelings of humanity. He was fretful
impulsive and passionatebut 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 nowhappily
escaped. He was openfrankimperativeand practiced no
concealments<199 RELIGIOUS SLAVEHOLDERS>disdaining to play the
spy. In all thishe 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 darkestfoulestgrossestand most infernal
abominations fester and flourish. Were I again to be reduced to
the condition of a slave_next_ to that calamityI 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 metreligious slaveholders are the worst. I
have found themalmost invariablythe vilestmeanest and
basest of their class. Exceptions there may bebut 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
factand leave the theologicaland psychological inquirywhich
it raisesto be decided by others more competent than myself.
Religious slaveholderslike religious persecutorsare ever
extreme in their malice and violence. Very near my new homeon
an adjoining farmthere lived the Rev. Daniel Weedenwho was
both pious and cruel after the real Covey pattern. Mr. Weeden
was a local preacher of the Protestant Methodist persuasionand
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 neartaking
notes,and willdoubtlessfeel quite angry at having his
character touched off in the ragged style of a slave's pen.
beg to introduce the reader to REV. RIGBY HOPKINS. Mr. Hopkins
resides between Easton and St. Michael'sin Talbot county
Maryland. The severity of this man made him a perfect terror to
the slaves of his neighborhood. The peculiar feature of his
governmentwashis system of whipping slavesas he said_in
advance_ of deserving it. He always managed to have one or two
slaves to whip on Monday morningso as to start his hands to
their workunder the inspiration of a new assurance on Monday
that his preaching about kindnessmercybrotherly loveand the
likeon Sundaydid not interfere withor prevent him from
establishing his authorityby the cowskin. He seemed to wish to
assure themthat his tears over poorlost and ruined sinners
and his pity for themdid not reach to the blacks who tilled his
fields. This saintly Hopkins used to boastthat he was the best
hand to manage a Negro in the county. He whipped for the
smallest offensesby 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 manunaccustomed to slaveholdingwould 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 themeven
when the slave least intends it. A slaveholderbent on finding
faultwill hatch up a dozen a dayif he chooses to do soand
each one of these shall be of a punishable description. A mere
lookwordor motiona mistakeaccidentor want of powerare
all matters for which a slave may be whipped at any time. Does a
slave look dissatisfied with his condition? It is saidthat he
has the devil in himand it must be whipped out. Does he answer
_loudly_when spoken to by his masterwith an air of selfconsciousness?
Thenmust he be taken down a button-hole lower
by the lashwell laid on. Does he forgetand omit to pull off
his hatwhen approaching a white person? Thenhe mustor may
bewhipped for his bad manners. Does he ever venture to
vindicate his conductwhen harshly and unjustly accused? Then
he is guilty of impudenceone of the greatest crimes in the
social catalogue of southern society. To allow a slave to escape
punishmentwho has impudently attempted to exculpate himself
from unjust chargespreferred 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 thingno matter what?
He isaltogethertoo officious--wise above what is written--and
he deserveseven if he does not geta flogging for his
presumption. Does hewhile plowingbreak a plowor while
hoeingbreak a hoeor while choppingbreak an ax? No matter
what were the imperfections of the implement brokenor the
natural liabilities for breakingthe slave can be whipped for
carelessness. The _reverend_ slaveholder could always find
something of this sortto 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 yetthere was not
a man in all that section of countrywho made a louder
profession of religionthan did MR. RIGBY HOPKINS.

Butto continue the thread of my storythrough my experience
when at Mr. William Freeland's.

My poorweather-beaten bark now reached smoother waterand
gentler breezes. My stormy life at Covey's had been of service
to me. The things that would have seemed very hardhad I gone
direct to Mr. Freeland'sfrom the home of Master Thomaswere
now (after the hardships at Covey's) "trifles light as air." I
was still a field handand had come to prefer the severe labor
of the fieldto 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 slavesat timesas to which can do
the most workand masters generally seek to promote such
rivalry. But some of us were too wise to race with each other
very long. Such racingwe had the sagacity to seewas not
likely to pay. We had our times for measuring each other's
strengthbut we knew too much to keep up the competition so long
as to produce an extraordinary day's work. We knew that ifby
extraordinary exertiona large quantity of work was done in one
daythe factbecoming known to the mastermight 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'smy condition was every way improved. I was no
longer the poor scape-goat that I was when at Covey'swhere
every wrong thing done was saddled upon meand where other
slaves were whipped over my shoulders. Mr. Freeland was too just
a man thus to impose upon meor upon any one else.

It is quite usual to make one slave the object of especial abuse
and to beat him oftenwith a view to its effect upon others
rather than with any expectation that the slave whipped will be
improved by itbut the man with whom I now wascould 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. ThereI
<203 NOT YET CONTENTED>was the general pack horse. Bill Smith
was protectedby a positive prohibition made by his rich master
and the command of the rich slaveholder is LAW to the poor one;
Hughes was favoredbecause of his relationship to Covey; and the
hands hired temporarilyescaped floggingexcept as they got it
over my poor shoulders. Of coursethis comparison refers to the
time when Covey _could_ whip me.

Mr. Freelandlike Mr. Coveygave his hands enough to eatbut
unlike Mr. Coveyhe gave them time to take their meals; he
worked us hard during the daybut gave us the night for rest-another
advantage to be set to the credit of the sinneras
against that of the saint. We were seldom in the field after
dark in the eveningor before sunrise in the morning. Our
implements of husbandry were of the most improved patternand
much superior to those used at Covey's.

Nothwithstanding the improved condition which was now mineand
the many advantages I had gained by my new homeand my new

masterI was still restless and discontented. I was about as
hard to please by a masteras a master is by slave. The freedom
from bodily torture and unceasing laborhad given my mind an
increased sensibilityand imparted to it greater activity.
was not yet exactly in right relations. "How be itthat was not
first which is spiritualbut that which is naturaland
afterward that which is spiritual." When entombed at Covey's
shrouded in darkness and physical wretchednesstemporal
wellbeing was the grand _desideratum;_ buttemporal wants
suppliedthe spirit puts in its claims. Beat and cuff your
slavekeep him hungry and spiritlessand he will follow the
chain of his master like a dog; butfeed and clothe him well-work
him moderately--surround him with physical comfort--and
dreams of freedom intrude. Give him a _bad_ masterand he
aspires to a _good_ master; give him a good masterand he wishes
to become his _own_ master. Such is human nature. You may hurl
a man so lowbeneath the level of his kindthat he loses all
just ideas of his natural position; <204>but elevate him a
littleand the clear conception of rights arises to life and
powerand leads him onward. Thus elevateda littleat
Freeland'sthe dreams called into being by that good manFather
Lawsonwhen in Baltimorebegan to visit me; and shoots from the
tree of liberty began to put forth tender budsand dim hopes of
the future began to dawn.

I found myself in congenial societyat Mr. Freeland's. There
were Henry HarrisJohn HarrisHandy Caldwelland Sandy

Henry and John were brothersand belonged to Mr. Freeland. They
were both remarkably bright and intelligentthough 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 educationand the
advantages of intelligence over ignoranceandas far as I
daredI 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 onand the long Sabbath days
stretched themselves over our idlenessI became uneasyand
wanted a Sabbath schoolin which to exercise my giftsand to
impart the little knowledge of letters which I possessedto my
brother slaves. A house was hardly necessary in the summer time;
I could hold my school under the shade of an old oak treeas
well as any where else. The thing wasto get the scholarsand
to have them thoroughly imbued with the desire to learn. Two
such boys were quickly securedin Henry and Johnand from them
the contagion spread. I was not long bringing around me twenty
or thirty young menwho enrolled themselvesgladlyin my
Sabbath schooland were willing to meet me regularlyunder the
trees or elsewherefor 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 Coveyand as often as we
did sohe 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 diesbut 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 firston our own farm. All were impressed with the necessity
of keeping the matter as private as possiblefor the fate of the
St. Michael's attempt was notoriousand fresh in the minds of
all. Our pious mastersat St. Michael'smust not know that a
few of their dusky brothers were learning to read the word of
Godlest they should come down upon us with the lash and chain.
We might have met to drink whiskyto wrestlefightand to do
other unseemly thingswith no fear of interruption from the
saints or sinners of St. Michael's.

Butto meet for the purpose of improving the mind and heartby
learning to read the sacred scriptureswas esteemed a most
dangerous nuisanceto be instantly stopped. The slaveholders of
St. Michael'slike slaveholders elsewherewould always prefer
to see the slaves engaged in degrading sportsrather than to see
them acting like moral and accountable beings.

Had any one asked a religious white manin St. Michael'stwenty
years agothe names of three men in that townwhose lives were
most after the pattern of our Lord and MasterJesus Christthe
first three would have been as follows:

GARRISON WEST_Class Leader_.
THOMAS AULD_Class Leader_.

And yetthese were men who ferociously rushed in upon my Sabbath
schoolat St. Michael'sarmed with mob-like missilesand I
must sayI thought him a Christianuntil he took part in bloody
by the lash. This same Garrison West was my class leaderand I
must sayI thought him a Christianuntil he took part in
breaking up my school. He led me no more after that. The plea
for this outrage was thenas it is now and at all times--the
danger to good order. If the slaves learnt to readthey would
learn something elseand 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; andif slavery be _right_Sabbath schools for
teaching slaves to read the bible are _wrong_and ought to be
put down. These Christian class leaders wereto this extent
consistent. They had settled the questionthat slavery is
_right_andby that standardthey determined that Sabbath
schools are wrong. To be surethey were Protestantand held to
the great Protestant right of every man to _"search the
scriptures"_ for himself; butthento all general rulesthere
are _exceptions_. How convenient! What crimes may not be
committed under the doctrine of the last remark. Butmy dear
class leading Methodist brethrendid 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

After getting the school cleverly into operationthe second time
holding it in the woodsbehind the barnand in the shade of
trees--I succeeded in inducing a free colored manwho lived
several miles from our houseto permit me to hold my school in a
room at his house. Hevery kindlygave me this liberty; but he
incurred much peril in doing sofor the assemblage was an
unlawful one. I shall not mentionherethe name of this man;
for it mighteven nowsubject him to persecutionalthough the
offenses were committed more than twenty years ago. I hadat
one timemore than forty scholarsall of the right sort; and
many of them succeeded in learning to read. I have met several

slaves from Marylandwho were once my scholars; and who obtained
their freedomI doubt notpartly 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
satisfactionthan to that afforded by my Sunday school. An
attachmentdeep and lastingsprung up between me and my
persecuted pupilswhich 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
thralldomI am overwhelmed with grief.

Besides my Sunday schoolI devoted three evenings a week to my
fellow slavesduring the winter. Let the reader reflect upon
the factthatin this christian countrymen and women are
hiding from professors of religionin barnsin the woods and
fieldsin order to learn to read the _holy bible_. Those dear
soulswho came to my Sabbath schoolcame _not_ because it was
popular or reputable to attend such a placefor they came under
the liability of having forty stripes laid on their naked backs.
Every moment they spend in my schoolthey were under this
terrible liability; andin this respectI 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 tyrantsand in blessing
the victims of their curses.

The year at Mr. Freeland's passed off very smoothlyto 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
statedthat he was the best master I ever haduntil I became my
own masterand assumed for myselfas I had a right to dothe
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. FreelandI am indebted to the
genial temper and ardent friendship of my brother slaves. They
wereevery one of themmanlygenerous and braveyes; I say
they were braveand I will addfine 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 otherand to believe them incapable
of confiding in each other; but I must saythat I never loved
esteemedor confided in menmore than I did in these. They
were as true as steeland no band of brothers could have been
more <208>loving. There were no mean advantages taken of each
otheras 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 thingof any importancewhich was
likely to affect each otherwithout mutual consultation. We
were generally a unitand moved together. Thoughts and
sentiments were exchanged between uswhich might well be called
very incendiaryby oppressors and tyrants; and perhaps the time
has not even now comewhen it is safe to unfold all the flying
suggestions which arise in the minds of intelligent slaves.
Several of my friends and brothersif yet aliveare still in
some part of the house of bondage; and though twenty years have
passed awaythe suspicious malice of slavery might punish them
for even listening to my thoughts.

The slaveholderkind or cruelis a slaveholder still--the every
hour violator of the just and inalienable rights of man; and he
isthereforeevery hour silently whetting the knife of
vengeance for his own throat. He never lisps a syllable in

commendation of the fathers of this republicnor denounces any
attempted oppression of himselfwithout inviting the knife to
his own throatand asserting the rights of rebellion for his own

The year is endedand we are now in the midst of the Christmas
holidayswhich are kept this year as lastaccording to the
general description previously given.

_The Run-Away Plot_


I am now at the beginning of the year 1836a time favorable for
serious thoughts. The mind naturally occupies itself with the
mysteries of life in all its phases--the idealthe real and the
actual. Sober people look both ways at the beginning of the
yearsurveying the errors of the pastand providing against
possible errors of the future. Itoowas thus exercised. I
had little pleasure <210>in retrospectand the prospect was not
very brilliant. "Notwithstanding thought I, the many
resolutions and prayers I have madein behalf of freedomI am
this first day of the year 1836still a slavestill wandering
in the depths of spirit-devouring thralldom. My faculties and
powers of body and soul are not my ownbut are the property of a
fellow mortalin no sense superior to meexcept that he has the
physical power to compel me to be owned and controlled by him.
By the combined physical force of the communityI am his slave--
a slave for life." With thoughts like theseI 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 1835Mr. Freelandmy temporary master
had bought me of Capt. Thomas Auldfor the year 1836. His
promptness in securing my serviceswould have been flattering to
my vanityhad I been ambitious to win the reputation of being a
valuable slave. Even as it wasI felt a slight degree of
complacency at the circumstance. It showed he was as well
pleased with me as a slaveas I was with him as a master. I

have already intimated my regard for Mr. Freelandand I may say
herein addressing northern readers--where is no selfish motive
for speaking in praise of a slaveholder--that Mr. Freeland was a
man of many excellent qualitiesand to me quite preferable to
any master I ever had.

But the kindness of the slavemaster only gilds the chain of
slaveryand 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 slaveinto a forgetfulness
of his bondagenor of the desirableness of liberty.

I was not through the first month of thismy second year with
the kind and gentlemanly Mr. Freelandbefore I was earnestly
considering and advising plans for gaining that freedomwhich
<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
benumbedwhile I was under the brutalizing dominion of Covey;
and it had been postponedand rendered inoperativeby my truly
pleasant Sunday school engagements with my friendsduring the
year 1835at Mr. Freeland's. It hadhowevernever entirely
subsided. I hated slaveryalwaysand the desire for freedom
only needed a favorable breezeto fan it into a blazeat any
moment. The thought of only being a creature of the _present_
and the _past_troubled meand I longed to have a _future_--a
future with hope in it. To be shut up entirely to the past and
presentis 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 mildewa hell of horrors. The dawning of
thisanother yearawakened me from my temporary slumberand
roused into life my latentbut long cherished aspirations for
freedom. I was now not only ashamed to be contented in slavery
but ashamed to _seem_ to be contentedand in my present
favorable conditionunder the mild rule of Mr. F.I am not sure
that some kind reader will not condemn me for being over
ambitiousand greatly wanting in proper humilitywhen I say the
truththat I now drove from me all thoughts of making the best
of my lotand welcomed only such thoughts as led me away from
the house of bondage. The intense desiresnow felt_to be
free_quickened by my present favorable circumstancesbrought
me to the determination to actas well as to think and speak.
Accordinglyat the beginning of this year 1836I took upon me a
solemn vowthat the year which had now dawned upon me should not
closewithout witnessing an earnest attempton my partto gain
my liberty. This vow only bound me to make my escape
individually; but the year spent with Mr. Freeland had attached
meas 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 allexcept Sandyquite free from slaveholding
priestcraft. It was in vain that we had been taught from the
pulpit at St. Michael'sthe duty of obedience to our masters; to
recognize God as the author of our enslavement; to regard running
away an offensealike against God and man; to deem our
enslavement a merciful and beneficial arrangement; to esteem our
conditionin this countrya paradise to that from which we had
been snatched in Africa; to consider our hard hands and dark
color as God's mark of displeasureand 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 sayit 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 partI had now become altogether too big for
my chains. Father Lawson's solemn wordsof what I ought to be
and might bein the providence of Godhad not fallen dead on my
soul. I was fast verging toward manhoodand the prophecies of
my childhood were still unfulfilled. The thoughtthat year
after year had passed awayand my resolutions to run away had
failed and faded--that I was _still a slave_and a slavetoo
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 cherishedcould 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 wallsand revealed their projectors. Buthere
was no stone wall to hide my purpose. I would have given my
poortell tale face for the immoveable countenance of an Indian
for it was far from being proof against the dailysearching
glances of those with whom I met.

It is the interest and business of slaveholders to study human
naturewith a view to practical resultsand many of them attain
astonishing proficiency in discerning the thoughts and emotions
of slaves. They have to deal not with earthwoodor stonebut
with _men;_ andby every regard they have for their safety and
prosperitythey must study to know the material on which they
are at work. So much intellect as the slaveholder has around
himrequires watching. Their safety depends upon their
vigilance. Conscious of the injustice and wrong they are every
hour perpe<214>tratingand knowing what they themselves would do
if made the victims of such wrongsthey are looking out for the
first signs of the dread retribution of justice. They watch

thereforewith skilled and practiced eyesand have learned to
readwith great accuracythe state of mind and heart of the
slavesthrough his sable face. These uneasy sinners are quick
to inquire into the matterwhere the slave is concerned.
Unusual sobrietyapparent abstractionsullenness and
indifference--indeedany mood out of the common way--afford
ground for suspicion and inquiry. Often relying on their
superior position and wisdomthey hector and torture the slave
into a confessionby 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
tortureon 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
truthhere. It was necessary for methereforeto keep a watch
over my deportmentlest the enemy should get the better of me.

But with all our caution and studied reserveI am not sure that
Mr. Freeland did not suspect that all was not right with us. It
_did_ seem that he watched us more narrowlyafter the plan of
escape had been conceived and discussed amongst us. Men seldom
see themselves as others see them; and whileto ourselves
everything connected with our contemplated escape appeared
concealedMr. Freeland may havewith the peculiar prescience of
a slaveholdermastered the huge thought which was disturbing our
peace in slavery.

I am the more inclined to think that he suspected usbecause
prudent as we wereas I now look backI can see that we did
many silly thingsvery well calculated to awaken suspicion. We
were<215 HYMNS WITH A DOUBLE MEANING>at timesremarkably
buoyantsinging hymns and making joyous exclamationsalmost 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 Canaansweet 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 airand had a double meaning. In the lips of
someit meant the expectation of a speedy summons to a world of
spirits; butin the lips of _our_ companyit simply meanta
speedy pilgrimage toward a free stateand deliverance from all
the evils and dangers of slavery.

I had succeeded in winning to my (what slaveholders would call
wicked) schemea company of five young menthe very flower of
the neighborhoodeach one of whom would have commanded one
thousand dollars in the home market. At New Orleansthey would

have brought fifteen hundred dollars a pieceandperhapsmore.
The names of our party were as follows: Henry Harris; John
Harrisbrother to Henry; Sandy Jenkinsof root memory; Charles
Robertsand Henry Bailey. I was the youngestbut oneof the
party. I hadhoweverthe advantage of them allin experience
and in a knowledge of letters. This gave me great influence over
them. Perhaps not one of themleft to himselfwould have
dreamed of escape as a possible thing. Not one of them was selfmoved
in the matter. They all wanted to be free; but the serious
thought of running awayhad 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 freesome
dayby 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 nightand on every Sunday. At these meetings we
talked the matter over; told our hopes and fearsand the
difficulties discovered or imagined; andlike men of sensewe
counted the cost of the enterprise to which we were committing

These meetings must have resembledon a small scalethe
meetings of revolutionary conspiratorsin their primary
condition. We were plotting against our (so called) lawful
rulers; with this difference that we sought our own goodand not
the harm of our enemies. We did not seek to overthrow thembut
to escape from them. As for Mr. Freelandwe all liked himand
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
libertyagainst every obstacle even against the lives of our

We had several wordsexpressive of thingsimportant to us
which we understoodbut whicheven if distinctly heard by an
outsiderwould 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 powerfuland
liberty is weakthe latter is driven to concealment or to

The prospect was not always a bright one. At timeswe were
almost tempted to abandon the enterpriseand to get back to that
comparative peace of mindwhich even a man under the gallows
might feelwhen all hope of escape had vanished. Quiet bondage
was felt to be better than the doubtsfears and uncertainties
which now so sadly perplexed and disturbed us.

The infirmities of humanitygenerallywere represented in our
little band. We were confidentbold and determinedat times;
andagaindoubtingtimid and wavering; whistlinglike the boy
in the graveyardto keep away the spirits.

To look at the mapand observe the proximity of Eastern Shore
Marylandto Delaware and Pennsylvaniait may seem to the reader
quite absurdto 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 enoughbut the
imagined distance wasto our ignoranceeven greater. Every
slaveholder seeks to impress his slave with a belief in the

boundlessness of slave territoryand of his own almost
illimitable power. We all had vague and indistinct notions of
the geography of the country.

The distancehoweveris not the chief trouble. The nearer are
the lines of a slave state and the borders of a free onethe
greater the peril. Hired kidnappers infest these borders. Then
toowe knew that merely reaching a free state did not free us;
thatwherever caughtwe could be returned to slavery. We could
see no spot on this side the oceanwhere we could be free. We
had heard of Canadathe real Canaan of the American bondmen
simply as a country to which the wild goose and the swan repaired
at the end of winterto escape the heat of summerbut not as
the home of man. I knew something of theologybut nothing of
geography. I really did notat that timeknow that there was a
state of New Yorkor a state of Massachusetts. I had heard of
PennsylvaniaDelaware and New Jerseyand all the southern
statesbut was ignorant of the free statesgenerally. New York
city was our northern limitand to go thereand 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
delightfuland it might well cause some hesitation about
engaging in the enterprise. The casesometimesto our excited
visions<218>stood thus: At every gate through which we had to
passwe saw a watchman; at every ferrya guard; on every
bridgea sentinel; and in every wooda patrol or slave-hunter.
We were hemmed in on every side. The good to be soughtand the
evil to be shunnedwere flung in the balanceand weighed
against each other. On the one handthere stood slavery; a
stern realityglaring frightfully upon uswith 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 handfar
awayback in the hazy distancewhere all forms seemed but
shadowsunder the flickering light of the north star--behind
some craggy hill or snow-covered mountain--stood a doubtful
freedomhalf frozenbeckoning us to her icy domain. This was
the good to be sought. The inequality was as great as that
between certainty and uncertainty. Thisin itselfwas enough
to stagger us; but when we came to survey the untrodden roadand
conjecture the many possible difficultieswe were appalledand
at timesas I have saidwere upon the point of giving over the
struggle altogether.

The reader can have little idea of the phantoms of trouble which
flitin such circumstancesbefore the uneducated mind of the
slave. Upon either sidewe saw grim death assuming a variety of
horrid shapes. Nowit was starvationcausing usin a strange
and friendless landto eat our own flesh. Nowwe were
contending with the waves (for our journey was in part by water)
and were drowned. Nowwe were hunted by dogsand overtaken and
torn to pieces by their merciless fangs. We were stung by
scorpions--chased by wild beasts--bitten by snakes; andworst of
allafter having succeeded in swimming rivers--encountering wild
beasts--sleeping in the woods--suffering hungercoldheat and
nakedness--we supposed ourselves to be overtaken by hired
kidnapperswhoin the name of the lawand for their thrice
accursed rewardwouldperchancefire upon us--kill somewound
othersand capture all. This dark pic<219 IMAGINARY
DIFFICULTIES>turedrawn by ignorance and fearat times greatly
shook our determinationand 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 disposedto 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 notis at stakealso.
The life which he hasmay be lostand the liberty which he
seeksmay not be gained.

Patrick Henryto a listening senatethrilled by his magic
eloquenceand ready to stand by him in his boldest flights
could sayGIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATHand this saying was
a sublime oneeven for a freeman; butincomparably more
sublimeis the same sentimentwhen _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_ libertyat bestthat we sought; and a
certainlingering death in the rice swamps and sugar fieldsif
we failed. Life is not lightly regarded by men of sane minds.
It is preciousalike to the pauper and to the prince--to the
slaveand to his master; and yetI believe there was not one
among uswho would not rather have been shot downthan pass
away life in hopeless bondage.

In the progress of our preparationsSandythe root manbecame
troubled. He began to have dreamsand some of them were very
distressing. One of thesewhich happened on a Friday night
wasto himof great significance; and I am quite ready to
confessthat I felt somewhat damped by it myself. He saidI
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 SandyI 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 itby attributing it to the general excitement and
perturbation consequent upon our contemplated plan of escape. I
could nothowevershake off its effect at once. I felt that it
boded me no good. Sandy was unusually emphatic and oracularand
his manner had much to do with the impression made upon me.

The plan of escape which I recommendedand to which my comrades
assentedwas to take a large canoeowned by Mr. Hamiltonand
on the Saturday night previous to the Easter holidayslaunch out
into the Chesapeake bayand paddle for its head--a distance of
seventy miles with all our might. Our courseon reaching this
pointwasto turn the canoe adriftand bend our steps toward
the north startill we reached a free state.

There were several objections to this plan. One wasthe danger
from gales on the bay. In rough weatherthe waters of the
Chesapeake are much agitatedand there is dangerin a canoeof
being swamped by the waves. Another objection wasthat the
canoe would soon be missed; the absent persons wouldat oncebe

suspected of having taken it; and we should be pursued by some of
the fast sailing bay craft out of St. Michael's. Thenagainif
we reached the head of the bayand turned the canoe adriftshe
might prove a guide to our trackand bring the land hunters
after us.

These and other objections were set asideby the stronger ones
which could be urged against every other plan that could then be
<221 PASSES WRITTEN>suggested. On the waterwe had a chance of
being regarded as fishermenin the service of a master. On the
other handby taking the land routethrough the counties
adjoining Delawarewe should be subjected to all manner of
interruptionsand many very disagreeable questionswhich might
give us serious trouble. Any white man is authorized to stop a
man of coloron any roadand examine himand arrest himif he
so desires.

By this arrangementmany abuses (considered such even by
slaveholders) occur. Cases have been knownwhere freemen have
been called upon to show their free papersby a pack of
ruffians--andon the presentation of the papersthe ruffians
have torn them upand seized their victimand sold him to a
life of endless bondage.

The week before our intended startI wrote a pass for each of
our partygiving them permission to visit Baltimoreduring the
Easter holidays. The pass ran after this manner:

This is to certifythat Ithe undersignedhave given the
bearermy servantJohnfull liberty to go to Baltimoreto
spend the Easter holidays.

Near St. Michael'sTalbot countyMaryland
Although we were not going to Baltimoreand were intending to
land east of North Pointin the direction where I had seen the
Philadelphia steamers gothese passes might be made useful to us
in the lower part of the baywhile steering toward Baltimore.
These were nothoweverto be shown by usuntil all other
answers failed to satisfy the inquirer. We were all fully alive
to the importance of being calm and self-possessedwhen
accostedif accosted we should be; and we more times than one
rehearsed to each other how we should behave in the hour of

These were longtedious days and nights. The suspense was
painfulin the extreme. To balance probabilitieswhere life
and liberty hang on the resultrequires steady nerves. I panted
for actionand was glad when the dayat the close of which we
were to startdawned upon us. Sleepingthe night beforewas
<222>out of the question. I probably felt more deeply than any
of my companionsbecause I was the instigator of the movement.
The responsibility of the whole enterprise rested on my
shoulders. The glory of successand the shame and confusion of
failurecould not be matters of indifference to me. Our food
was prepared; our clothes were packed up; we were all ready to
goand impatient for Saturday morning--considering that the last
morning of our bondage.

I cannot describe the tempest and tumult of my brainthat
morning. The reader will please to bear in mindthatin a
slave statean unsuccessful runaway is not only subjected to

cruel tortureand sold away to the far southbut he is
frequently execrated by the other slaves. He is charged with
making the condition of the other slaves intolerableby laying
them all under the suspicion of their masters--subjecting them to
greater vigilanceand imposing greater limitations on their
privileges. I dreaded murmurs from this quarter. It is
difficulttoofor a slavemaster to believe that slaves escaping
have not been aided in their flight by some one of their fellow
slaves. Whenthereforea slave is missingevery slave on the
place is closely examined as to his knowledge of the undertaking;
and they are sometimes even torturedto make them disclose what
they are suspected of knowing of such escape.

Our anxiety grew more and more intenseas 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 resolvebut not so easy to act. I expected there might be
some drawing backat the last. It was natural that there should
be; thereforeduring the intervening timeI lost no opportunity
to explain away difficultiesto remove doubtsto 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 menwe
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
earnestand meant to be as true in action as in words. I did
not forget to appeal to the pride of my comradesby telling them
thatif after having solemnly promised to goas they had done
they now failed to make the attemptthey wouldin effectbrand
themselves with cowardiceand might as well sit downfold their
armsand acknowledge themselves as fit only to be _slaves_.
This detestable characterall were unwilling to assume. Every
man except Sandy (hemuch to our regretwithdrew) stood firm;
and at our last meeting we pledged ourselves afreshand in the
most solemn mannerthatat the time appointedwe _would_
certainly start on our long journey for a free country. This
meeting was in the middle of the weekat the end of which we
were to start.

Early that morning we wentas usualto the fieldbut with
hearts that beat quickly and anxiously. Any one intimately
acquainted with usmight have seen that all was not well with
usand 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 engagedI had a
sudden presentimentwhich flashed upon me like lightning in a
dark nightrevealing to the lonely traveler the gulf beforeand
the enemy behind. I instantly turned to Sandy Jenkinswho was
near meand said to him_"Sandywe are betrayed;_ something
has just told me so." I felt as sure of itas if the officers
were there in sight. Sandy saidMan, dat is strange; but I
feel just as you do.If my mother--then long in her grave--had
appeared before meand told me that we were betrayedI could
notat that momenthave felt more certain of the fact.

In a few minutes after thisthe longlow 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 housefor form's sake. My feelings were
<224>not disturbed as to the right of running away; on that point
I had no troublewhatever. 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 housefor breakfastand
glancing my eye toward the lane gatethe worst was at once made
known. The lane gate off Mr. Freeland's houseis nearly a half
mile from the doorand shaded by the heavy wood which bordered
the main road. I washoweverable to descry four white men
and two colored menapproaching. The white men were on
horsebackand the colored men were walking behindand seemed to
be tied. _"It is all over with us_ thought I, _we are surely
betrayed_." I now became composedor 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
impossibleand I made up my mind to standand 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 momentsin came Mr. William Hamiltonriding very rapidly
and evidently much excited. He was in the habit of riding very
slowlyand was seldom known to gallop his horse. This timehis
horse was nearly at full speedcausing the dust to roll thick
behind him. Mr. Hamiltonthough one of the most resolute men in
the whole neighborhoodwasneverthelessa remarkably mild
spoken man; andeven when greatly excitedhis language was cool
and circumspect. He came to the doorand inquired if Mr.
Freeland was in. I told him that Mr. Freeland was at the barn.
Off the old gentleman rodetoward the barnwith unwonted speed.
Marythe cookwas at a loss to know what was the matterand I
did not profess any skill in making her understand. I knew she
would have unitedas readily as any onein cursing me for
bringing trouble into the family; so I held my peaceleaving
matters to develop themselveswithout my assistance. In a few
momentsMr. Hamilton and Mr. Freeland came down from the barn to
the house; andjust as they <225 THE MANNER OF ARRESTING US>made
their appearance in the front yardthree men (who proved to be
constables) came dashing into the laneon horsebackas if
summoned by a sign requiring quick work. A few seconds brought
them into the front yardwhere they hastily dismountedand tied
their horses. This donethey joined Mr. Freeland and Mr.
Hamiltonwho were standing a short distance from the kitchen. A
few moments were spentas if in consulting how to proceedand
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
doorand with an agitated voicecalled me by nameand told me
to come forward; that there was some gentlemen who wished to see
me. I stepped toward themat the doorand asked what they
wantedwhen the constables grabbed meand told me that I had
better not resist; that I had been in a scrapeor 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'sto have me brought before my master. They further
saidthatin case the evidence against me was not trueI
should be acquitted. I was now firmly tiedand completely at
the mercy of my captors. Resistance was idle. They were five in
numberarmed to the very teeth. When they had secured methey
next turned to John Harrisandin a few momentssucceeded in
tying him as firmly as they had already tied me. They next
turned toward Henry Harriswho had now returned from the barn.
Cross your hands,said the constablesto Henry. "I won't"
said Henryin a voice so firm and clearand in a manner so
determinedas for a moment to arrest all proceedings. "Won't
you cross your hands?" said Tom Grahamthe 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_." Thisthe brave
fellow said in a voice as defiant and heroic in its toneas was
the language itself; andat the moment of saying thiswith the
pistols at his very breasthe quickly raised his armsand
dashed them from the puny hands of his assassinsthe weapons
flying in opposite directions. Now came the struggle. All hands
was now rushed upon the brave fellowandafter beating him for
some timethey succeeded in overpowering and tying him. Henry
put me to shame; he foughtand fought bravely. John and I had
made no resistance. The fact isI never see much use in
fightingunless 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 HenryMr. 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 protectionswhich we understand Frederick has written for
himself and the rest." Had these passes been foundthey would
have been point blank proof against usand would have confirmed
all the statements of our betrayer. Thanks to the resistance of
Henrythe excitement produced by the scuffle drew all attention
in that directionand I succeeded in flinging my pass
unobservedinto the fire. The confusion attendant upon the
scuffleand the apprehension of further troubleperhapsled
our captors to foregofor the presentany 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 doubton the part
of allwhether we had been guilty of such a purpose.

Just as we were all completely tiedand about ready to start
toward St. Michael'sand thence to jailMrs. Betsey Freeland
(mother to Williamwho was very much attached--after the
southern fashion--to Henry and Johnthey having been reared from
childhood in her house) came to the kitchen doorwith 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
donethe lady made the following parting address to melooking
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 lookwhich called forth a scream of mingled wrath and
terroras she slammed the kitchen doorand went inleaving me
with the restin hands as harsh as her own broken voice.

Could the kind reader have been quietly riding along the main
road to or from Eastonthat morninghis eye would have met a
painful sight. He would have seen five young menguilty of no
crimesave that of preferring _liberty_ to a life of _bondage_
drawn along the public highway--firmly bound together--tramping
through dust and heatbare-footed and bare-headed--fastened to
three strong horseswhose riders were armed to the teethwith

pistols and daggers--on their way to prisonlike felonsand
suffering every possible insult from the crowds of idlevulgar
peoplewho clustered aroundand heartlessly made their failure
the occasion for all manner of ribaldry and sport. As I looked
upon this crowd of vile personsand saw myself and friends thus
assailed and persecutedI could not help seeing the fulfillment
of Sandy's dream. I was in the hands of moral vulturesand
firmly held in their sharp talonsand was hurried away toward
Eastonin a south-easterly directionamid the jeers of new
birds of the same featherthrough 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 arrestand were outawaiting our passing
byto 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_othersI ought to have the _"hide"_ taken
from my back; while no one gave us a kind word or sympathizing
lookexcept the poor slaveswho were lifting their heavy hoes
and who cautiously glanced at us through the post-and-rail
fencesbehind which they were at work. Our sufferingsthat
morningcan be more easily imagined than described. Our hopes
were all blastedat a blow. The cruel injusticethe victorious
crimeand the helplessness of innocenceled me to askin 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 rightsand to insult our feelings?" And yetin the
next momentcame the consoling thought_"The day of oppressor
will come at last."_ Of one thing I could be glad--not one of my
dear friendsupon whom I had brought this great calamityeither
by word or lookreproached me for having led them into it. We
were a band of brothersand never dearer to each other than now.
The thought which gave us the most painwas the probable
separation which would now take placein case we were sold off
to the far southas we were likely to be. While the constables
were looking forwardHenry and Ibeing fastened togethercould
occasionally exchange a wordwithout 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 aroundand executed. _"Own
nothing!"_ said I. _"Own nothing!"_ was passed around and
enjoinedand 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 usas

On reaching St. Michael'swe underwent a sort of examination at
my master's storeand it was evident to my mindthat Master
<229 THE DENIAL>Thomas suspected the truthfulness of the evidence
upon which they had acted in arresting us; and that he only
affectedto some extentthe positiveness with which he asserted
our guilt. There was nothing said by any of our companywhich
couldin any mannerprejudice our cause; and there was hope
yetthat we should be able to return to our homes--if for
nothing elseat least to find out the guilty man or woman who
had betrayed us.

To this endwe all denied that we had been guilty of intended
flight. Master Thomas said that the evidence he had of our
intention to run awaywas strong enough to hang usin a case of
murder. "But said I, the cases are not equal. If murder were
committedsome one must have committed it--the thing is done!
In our casenothing has been done! We have not run away. Where
is the evidence against us? We were quietly at our work." I

talked thuswith unusual freedomto bring out the evidence
against usfor we all wantedabove all thingsto know the
guilty wretch who had betrayed usthat we might have something
tangible upon which to pour the execrations. From something
which droppedin the course of the talkit 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 suspectedand suspected _one_ person _only_.
Several circumstances seemed to point SANDY outas our betrayer.
His entire knowledge of our plans his participation in them--his
withdrawal from us--his dreamand his simultaneous presentiment
that we were betrayed--the taking usand the leaving him--were
calculated to turn suspicion toward him; and yetwe 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 draggedthat morningbehind horsesa
distance of fifteen milesand placed in the Easton jail. We
were glad to reach the end of our journeyfor our pathway had
been the scene of insult and mortification. Such is the power of
public <230>opinionthat it is hardeven for the innocentto
feel the happy consolations of innocencewhen they fall under
the maledictions of this power. How could we regard ourselves as
in the rightwhen all about us denounced us as criminalsand
had the power and the disposition to treat us as such.

In jailwe were placed under the care of Mr. Joseph Grahamthe
sheriff of the county. Henryand Johnand myselfwere placed
in one roomand Henry Baily and Charles Robertsin anotherby
themselves. This separation was intended to deprive us of the
advantage of concertand to prevent trouble in jail.

Once shut upa new set of tormentors came upon us. A swarm of
impsin human shape the slave-tradersdeputy slave-tradersand
agents of slave-traders--that gather in every country town of the
statewatching for chances to buy human flesh (as buzzards to
eat carrion) flocked in upon usto ascertain if our masters had
placed us in jail to be sold. Such a set of debased and
villainous creaturesI never saw beforeand hope never to see
again. I felt myself surrounded as by a pack of _fiends_fresh
from _perdition_. They laughedleeredand grinned at us;
sayingAh! boys, we've got you, havn't we? So you were about
to make your escape? Where were you going to?After taunting
usand peering at usas long as they likedthey one by one
subjected us to an examinationwith a view to ascertain our
value; feeling our arms and legsand shaking us by the shoulders
to see if we were sound and healthy; impudently asking ushow
we would like to have them for masters?To such questionswe
werevery much to their annoyancequite dumbdisdaining to
answer them. For oneI detested the whisky-bloated gamblers in
human flesh; and I believe I was as much detested by them in
turn. One fellow told meif 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 uponin respectable Maryland
societyas necessarybut detestable characters. As a class
they <231 SLAVE-TRADERS>are hardened ruffiansmade 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 affectionsinsulted virtueand blasted hopes. They
have grown intimate with vice and blood; they gloat over the

wildest illustrations of their soul-damning and earth-polluting
businessand 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 themthan for the slaveholderswho make such a
class _possible_. They are mere hucksters of the surplus slave
produce of Maryland and Virginia coarsecrueland swaggering
bullieswhose very breathing is of blasphemy and blood.

Aside from these slave-buyerswho infested the prisonfrom time
to timeour quarters were much more comfortable than we had any
right to expect they would be. Our allowance of food was small
and coarsebut our room was the best in the jail--neat and
spaciousand with nothing about it necessarily reminding us of
being in prisonbut 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. Boltsbars and grated
windows are not acceptable to freedom-loving people of any color.
The suspensetoowas painful. Every step on the stairway was
listened toin 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 hearingat the tablethe probable
course of things. We could see them flitting about in their
white jackets in front of this hotelbut could speak to none of

Soon after the holidays were overcontrary to all our
expectationsMessrs. 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 comradesHenry and
John Harrisare still with Mr. William Freeland. Charles
Roberts and Henry Baily are safe at their homes. I have not
thereforeany thing to regret on their account. Their masters
have mercifully forgiven themprobably on the ground suggested
in the spirited little speech of Mrs. Freelandmade to me just
before leaving for the jail--namely: that they had been allured
into the wicked scheme of making their escapeby me; and that
but for methey would never have dreamed of a thing so shocking!
My <236>friends had nothing to regreteither; for while they
were watched more closely on account of what had happenedthey
weredoubtlesstreated more kindly than beforeand got new
assurances that they would be legally emancipatedsome day
provided their behavior should make them deservingfrom that
time forward. Not a blowas I learnedwas struck any one of
them. As for Master William Freelandgoodunsuspecting 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
himhe could not think it probable that they had entertained a
design so grievous. Thishoweverwas 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 wordhad 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 plantoocould the
first steps have been takenwas marvelously plain. Besides
this was a _new_ ideathis use of the bay. Slaves escaping
until nowhad taken to the woods; they had never dreamed of
profaning and abusing the waters of the noble Chesapeakeby
making them the highway from slavery to freedom. Here was a
broad road of destruction to slaverywhichbeforehad 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 transactionand atoned for much that
had been harshcruel <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 jailMaster Thomas was very unhappy; and
that the night before his going up to release mehe had walked
the floor nearly all nightevincing great distress; that very
tempting offers had been made to himby the Negro-tradersbut
he had rejected them allsaying that _money could not tempt him
to sell me to the far south_. All this I can easily believefor
he seemed quite reluctant to send me awayat all. He told me
that he only consented to do sobecause of the very strong
prejudice against me in the neighborhoodand that he feared for
my safety if I remained there.

Thusafter three years spent in the countryroughing it in the

fieldand experiencing all sorts of hardshipsI was again
permitted to return to Baltimorethe very placeof all others
short of a free statewhere I most desired to live. The three
years spent in the countryhad made some difference in meand
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 protectionbut felt himself a _man_with
other and more suitable associates. In childhoodhe scarcely
considered me inferior to himself certainlyas good as any other
boy with whom he played; but the time had come when his _friend_
must become his _slave_. So we were coldand we parted. It was
a sad thing to methatloving each other as we had donewe
must now take different roads. To hima thousand avenues were
open. Education had made him acquainted with all the treasures
of the worldand liberty had flung open the gates thereunto; but
Iwho had attended him seven yearsand had watched over him
with the care of a big brotherfighting his battles in the
streetand shielding him from harmto an extent which had
induced his mother to sayOh! Tommy is always safe, when he is
with <238>Freddy,must be confined to a single condition. He
could growand become a MAN; I could growthough I could _not_
become a manbut must remainall my lifea minor--a mere boy.
Thomas AuldJuniorobtained 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 himand there are few in the world I would be more pleased to

Very soon after I went to Baltimore to liveMaster Hugh
succeeded in getting me hired to Mr. William Gardineran
extensive ship builder on Fell's Point. I was placed here to
learn to calka trade of which I already had some knowledge
gained while in Mr. Hugh Auld's ship-yardwhen he was a master
builder. Gardiner'showeverproved a very unfavorable place
for the accomplishment of that object. Mr. Gardiner wasthat
seasonengaged in building two large man-of-war vessels
professedly for the Mexican government. These vessels were to be
launched in the month of Julyof that yearandin failure
thereofMr. G. would forfeit a very considerable sum of money.
Sowhen I entered the ship-yardall 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 wroteyears 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-yardmy orders
from Mr. Gardiner wereto 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 sayFred.
bear a handand get up a fire as quick as lightning under that
steam-box."--"Halloonigger! cometurn this grindstone."-"
Comecome! movemove! and _bowse_ this timber forward."--"I
saydarkeyblast your eyeswhy 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 moveI'll knock your brains out!"

Suchdear readeris a glance at the school which was mine
duringthe first eight months of my stay at Baltimore. At the
end of the eight monthsMaster Hugh refused longer to allow me
to remain with Mr. Gardiner. The circumstance which led to his
taking me awaywas a brutal outragecommitted upon me by the
white apprentices of the ship-yard. The fight was a desperate
oneand I came out of it most shockingly mangled. I was cut and
bruised in sundry placesand my left eye was nearly knocked out
of its socket. The factsleading to this barbarous outrage upon
meillustrate a phase of slavery destined to become an important
element in the overthrow of the slave systemand 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 countrythis
conflict is not so apparent; butin citiessuch as Baltimore
RichmondNew OrleansMobile& is seen pretty clearly.
The slaveholderswith a craftiness peculiar to themselvesby
encouraging the enmity of the poorlaboring white man against
the blackssucceeds in making the said white man almost as much
a slave as the black slave himself. The difference between the
white slaveand the black slaveis this: the latter belongs to
_one_ slaveholderand the former belongs to _all_ the
slaveholderscollectively. The white slave has taken from him
by indirectionwhat the black slave has taken from him
directlyand without ceremony. Both are plunderedand by the
same plunderers. The slave is robbedby his masterof all his
earningsabove what is required for his bare physical
necessities; and the white man is robbed by the slave systemof
the just results of his laborbecause he is flung into
<240>competition with a class of laborers who work without wages.
The competitionand its injurious consequenceswillone day
array the nonslaveholding white people of the slave states
against the slave systemand make them the most effective
workers against the great evil. At presentthe slaveholders
blind them to this competitionby keeping alive their prejudice
against the slaves_as men_--not against them _as slaves_. They
appeal to their prideoften denouncing emancipationas tending
to place the white manon an equality with Negroesandby this
meansthey succeed in drawing off the minds of the poor whites
from the real factthatby the rich slave-masterthey are
already regarded as but a single remove from equality with the
slave. The impression is cunningly madethat 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 broadbetween the slave and the poor white
manthe latter is allowed to abuse and whip the formerwithout
hinderance. But--as I have suggested--this state of facts
prevails _mostly_ in the country. In the city of Baltimore
there are not unfrequent murmursthat educating the slaves to be
mechanics mayin the endgive slavemasters power to dispense
with the services of the poor white man altogether. Butwith
characteristic dread of offending the slaveholdersthese poor
white mechanics in Mr. Gardiner's ship-yard--instead of applying

the naturalhonest remedy for the apprehended eviland
objecting at once to work there by the side of slaves--made a
cowardly attack upon the free colored mechanicssaying _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;
andtherefore proving their servility and cowardice they dealt
their blows on the poorcolored freemanand aimed to prevent
_him_ from serving himselfin the evening of lifewith the
had served his masterduring the more vigorous portion of his
days. Had they succeeded in driving the black freemen out of the
ship-yardthey would have determined also upon the removal of
the black slaves. The feeling was very bitter toward all colored
people in Baltimoreabout this time (1836)and they--free and
slave suffered all manner of insult and wrong.

Until a very little before I went therewhite and black ship
carpenters worked side by sidein the ship yards of Mr.
GardinerMr. DuncanMr. Walter Priceand Mr. Robb. Nobody
seemed to see any impropriety in it. To outward seemingall
hands were well satisfied. Some of the blacks were first rate
workmenand were given jobs requiring highest skill. All at
oncehoweverthe white carpenters knocked offand 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 Julyand
of the difficulty of getting other hands at that season of the
yearthey swore they would not strike another blow for him
unless he would discharge his free colored workmen.

Nowalthough 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 bitternesstoward colored people _generally_and I
suffered with the restand suffered severely. My fellow
apprentices very soon began to feel it to be degrading to work
with me. They began to put on high looksand to talk
contemptuously and maliciously of _"the Niggers;"_ sayingthat
they would take the country,that "they ought to be killed."
Encouraged by the cowardly workmenwhoknowing me to be a
slavemade 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 thingwithout coupling
the call with a curseand Edward Norththe biggest in every
thingrascality includedventured to strike mewhereupon I
picked him upand threw <242>him into the dock. Whenever any of
them struck meI struck back againregardless of consequences.
I could manage any of them _singly_andwhile I could keep them
from combiningI succeeded very well. In the conflict which
ended my stay at Mr. Gardiner'sI was beset by four of them at
once--Ned NorthNed HaysBill Stewartand Tom Humphreys. Two
of them were as large as myselfand they came near killing me
in broad day light. The attack was made suddenlyand
simultaneously. One came in frontarmed with a brick; there was
one at each sideand one behindand they closed up around me.
I was struck on all sides; andwhile I was attending to those in
frontI received a blow on my headfrom behinddealt with a
heavy hand-spike. I was completely stunned by the blowand
fellheavilyon the groundamong the timbers. Taking
advantage of my fallthey rushed upon meand began to pound me
with their fists. I let them lay onfor a whileafter I came
to myselfwith a view of gaining strength. They did me little

damageso far; butfinallygetting tired of that sportI gave
a sudden surgeanddespite their weightI rose to my hands and
knees. Just as I did thisone of their number (I know not
which) planted a blow with his boot in my left eyewhichfor a
timeseemed to have burst my eyeball. When they saw my eye
completely closedmy face covered with bloodand I staggering
under the stunning blows they had given methey left me. As
soon as I gathered sufficient strengthI picked up the handspike
andmadly enoughattempted to pursue them; but here the
carpenters interferedand compelled me to give up my frenzied
pursuit. It was impossible to stand against so many.

Dear readeryou can hardly believe the statementbut it is
trueandthereforeI write it down: not fewer than fifty white
men stood byand saw this brutal and shameless outrage
committedand not a man of them all interposed a single word of
mercy. There were four against oneand that one's face was
beaten and battered most horriblyand no one saidthat is
enough;but some cried outKill 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 outcryto show
the character of the menand the spirit of the timesat
Gardiner's ship yardandindeedin Baltimore generallyin
1836. As I look back to this periodI am almost amazed that I
was not murdered outrightin that ship yardso murderous was
the spirit which prevailed there. On two occasionswhile there
I came near losing my life. I was driving bolts in the hold
through the keelsonwith Hays. In its coursethe bolt bent.
Hays cursed meand said that it was my blow which bent the bolt.
I denied thisand charged it upon him. In a fit of rage he
seized an adzeand darted toward me. I met him with a mauland
parried his blowor 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 fathermade an
assault upon mebut the blow with his maul missed me. After the
united assault of NorthStewartHays and Humphreysfinding
that the carpenters were as bitter toward me as the apprentices
and that the latter were probably set on by the formerI found
my only chances for life was in flight. I succeeded in getting
awaywithout an additional blow. To strike a white manwas
deathby Lynch lawin Gardiner's ship yard; nor was there much
of any other law toward colored peopleat that timein any
other part of Maryland. The whole sentiment of Baltimore was

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

The heart of my once almost over-kind mistressSophiawas again
melted in pity toward me. My puffed-out eyeand my scarred and
blood-covered facemoved the dear lady to tears. She kindly
drew a chair by meand with friendlyconsoling wordsshe took
waterand washed the blood from my face. No mother's hand could
have been more tender than hers. She bound up my headand
covered my wounded eye with a lean piece of fresh beef. It was

almost compensation for the murderous assaultand my suffering
that it furnished and occasion for the manifestationonce more
of the orignally{sic} characteristic kindness of my mistress.
Her affectionate heart was not yet deadthough much hardened by
time and by circumstances.

As for Master Hugh's partas I have saidhe 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 companyand swore that he would have
satisfaction for the outrage. His indignation was really strong
and healthy; butunfortunatelyit resulted from the thought
that his rights of propertyin my personhad not been
respectedmore than from any sense of the outrage committed on
me _as a man_. I inferred as much as thisfrom the fact that he
couldhimselfbeat and mangle when it suited him to do so.
Bent on having satisfactionas he saidjust as soon as I got a
little the better of my bruisesMaster Hugh took me to Esquire
Watson's officeon Bond streetFell's Pointwith a view to
procuring the arrest of those who had assaulted me. He related
the outrage to the magistrateas I had related it to himand
seemed to expect that a warrant wouldat oncebe issued for the
arrest of the lawless ruffians.

Mr. Watson heard it alland 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 WatsonI 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 wordagainst white persons; andif I had been killed in
the presence of a _thousand blacks_their testimonycombined
would have been insufficient to arrest a single murderer. Master
Hughfor oncewas compelled to saythat this state of things
was _too bad;_ and he left the office of the magistrate

Of courseit 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 maliceand only what the
carpenters sanctioned. They had criedwith one accord_"Kill
the nigger!" "Kill the nigger!"_ Even those who may have pitied
meif any such were among themlacked the moral courage to come
and volunteer their evidence. The slightest manifestation of
sympathy or justice toward a person of colorwas denounced as
abolitionism; and the name of abolitionistsubjected 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 societynotwithstanding it was
intended that only free persons should attach themselvesI was
admittedand wasseveral timesassigned 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 slaveto anticipate what was now the case in my
improved condition. It was not long before I began to show signs
of disquiet with slaveryand 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 wasin 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

BesidesI was now getting--as I have said--a dollar and fifty
cents per day. I contracted for itworked for itearned it
collected it; it was paid to meand it was _rightfully_ my own;
and yetupon every returning Saturday nightthis money--my own
hard earningsevery cent of it--was demanded of meand taken
from me by Master Hugh. He did not earn it; he had no hand in
earning it; whythenshould he have it? I owed him nothing.
He had given me no schoolingand I had received from him only my
food and raiment; and for thesemy services were supposed to
payfrom the first. The right to take my earningswas the
right of the robber. He had the power to compel me to give him
the fruits of my laborand this power was his only right in the

case. I became more and more dissatisfied with this state of
things; andin so becomingI only gave proof of the same human
nature which every reader of this chapter in my life--
slaveholderor nonslaveholder--is conscious of possessing.

To make a contented slaveyou must make a thoughtless one. It
is necessary to darken his moral and mental visionandas far
as possibleto annihilate his power of reason. He must be able
to detect no inconsistencies in slavery. The man that takes his
earningsmust 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 demonstrateto his mindits
necessitybut its absolute rightfulness. If there be one
crevice through which a single drop can fallit 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." Beforehowever
proceeding with this narrationit isperhapsproper that I
should frankly statein advancemy intention to withhold a part
of the{sic} connected with my escape from slavery. There are
reasons for this suppressionwhich I trust the reader will deem
altogether valid. It may be easily conceivedthat a full and
complete statement of all facts pertaining to the flight of a
bondmanmight implicate and embarrass some who may have
wittingly or unwittinglyassisted him; and no one can wish me to
involve any man or <249 MANNER OF MY ESCAPE NOT GIVEN>woman who
has befriended meeven in the liability of embarrassment or

Keen is the scent of the slaveholder; like the fangs of the
rattlesnakehis malice retains its poison long; andalthough it
is now nearly seventeen years since I made my escapeit is well
to be carefulin dealing with the circumstances relating to it.
Were I to give but a shadowy outline of the process adoptedwith
characteristic aptitudethe crafty and malicious among the
slaveholders mightpossiblyhit upon the track I pursuedand
involve some one in suspicion whichin a slave stateis about
as bad as positive evidence. The colored mantheremust not
only shun evilbut shun the very _appearance_ of evilor 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 systemthan for any other interest or
institution. By stringing together a train of events and
circumstanceseven if I were not very explicitthe means of
escape might be ascertainedandpossiblythose means be
renderedthereafterno 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 resultsand no
slaveholding reader has any right to expect the impartment of
such information.

Whilethereforeit would afford me pleasureand perhaps would
materially add to the interest of my storywere I at liberty to
gratify a curiosity which I know to exist in the minds of many
as to the manner of my escapeI must deprive myself of this
pleasureand the curious of the gratificationwhich such a
statement of facts would afford. I would allow myself to suffer
under the greatest imputations that evil minded men might
suggestrather than exculpate myself by explanationand 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 slaveryhas neither
wisdom nor necessity to sustain it. Had not Henry Box Brown and
his friends attracted slaveholding attention to the manner of his
escapewe might have had a thousand _Box Browns_ per annum. The
singularly original plan adopted by William and Ellen Crafts
perished with the first usingbecause every slaveholder in the
land was apprised of it. The _salt water slave_ who hung in the
guards of a steamerbeing washed three days and three nights-like
another Jonah--by the waves of the seahasby the
publicity given to the circumstanceset a spy on the guards of
every steamer departing from southern ports.

I have never approved of the very public mannerin which some of
our western friends have conducted what _they_ call the _"Underground
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 daringin willingly subjecting themselves
to persecutionby openly avowing their participation in the
escape of slaves; neverthelessthe good resulting from such
avowalsis of a very questionable character. It may kindle an
enthusiasmvery pleasant to inhale; but that is of no practical
benefit to themselvesnor to the slaves escaping. Nothing is
more evidentthan that such disclosures are a positive evil to
the slaves remainingand seeking to escape. In publishing such
accountsthe anti-slavery man addresses the slaveholder_not
the slave;_ he stimulates the former to greater watchfulnessand
adds to his facilities for capturing his slave. We owe something
to the slavessouth of Mason and Dixon's lineas well as to
those north of it; andin discharging the duty of aiding the
latteron their way to freedomwe should be careful to do
nothing which would be likely to hinder the formerin 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 tormentorsever ready to snatchfrom his

infernal grasphis trembling prey. In pursuing his victimlet
him be left to feel his way in the dark; let shades of darkness
commensurate with his crimeshut every ray of light from his
pathway; and let him be made to feelthatat every step he
takeswith the hellish purpose of reducing a brother man to
slaveryhe is running the frightful risk of having his hot
brains dashed out by an invisible hand.

Butenough of this. I will now proceed to the statement of
those factsconnected with my escapefor which I am alone
responsibleand for which no one can be made to suffer but

My condition in the year (1838) of my escapewascomparatively
a free and easy oneso farat leastas the wants of the
physical man were concerned; but the reader will bear in mind
that my troubles from the beginninghave been less physical than
mentaland he will thus be prepared to findafter what is
narrated in the previous chaptersthat slave life was adding
nothing to its charms for meas I grew olderand became better
acquainted with it. The practicefrom week to weekof openly
robbing me of all my earningskept 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 shouldat the end of each
weekpour the reward of my honest toil into the purse of any
man. The thought itself vexed meand the manner in which Master
Hugh received my wagesvexed me more than the original wrong.
Carefully counting the money and rolling it outdollar by
dollarhe would look me in the faceas if he would search my
heart as well as my pocketand reproachfully ask me_Is that
all_?--implying that I hadperhapskept back part of my wages;
orif not sothe demand was madepossiblyto make me feel
thatafter allI was an "unprofitable servant." Draining me of
the last cent of my hard earningshe wouldhowever
occasionally--when I brought <252>home an extra large sum--dole
out to me a sixpence or a shillingwith a viewperhapsof
kindling up my gratitude; but this practice had the opposite
effect--it was an admission of _my right to the whole sum_. The
factthat he gave me any part of my wageswas proof that he
suspected that I had a right _to the whole of them_. I always
felt uncomfortableafter having received anything in this way
for I feared that the giving me a few centsmightpossibly
ease his conscienceand make him feel himself a pretty honorable
robberafter all!

Held to a strict accountand kept under a close watch--the old
suspicion of my running away not having been entirely removed-escape
from slaveryeven in Baltimorewas very difficult. The
railroad from Baltimore to Philadelphia was under regulations so
stringentthat even _free_ colored travelers were almost
excluded. They must have _free_ papers; they must be measured
and carefully examinedbefore they were allowed to enter the
cars; they only went in the day timeeven when so examined. The
steamboats were under regulations equally stringent. All the
great turnpikesleading northwardwere beset with kidnappersa
class of men who watched the newspapers for advertisements for
runaway slavesmaking their living by the accursed reward of
slave hunting.

My discontent grew upon meand I was on the look-out for means
of escape. With moneyI could easily have managed the matter
andthereforeI hit upon the plan of soliciting the privilege
of hiring my time. It is quite commonin Baltimoreto allow

slaves this privilegeand it is the practicealsoin New
Orleans. A slave who is considered trustworthycanby paying
his master a definite sum regularlyat the end of each week
dispose of his time as he likes. It so happened that I was not
in very good odorand I was far from being a trustworthy slave.
NeverthelessI watched my opportunity when Master Thomas came to
Baltimore (for I was still his propertyHugh only acted as his
agent) in the spring of 1838to purchase his spring supply of
goods<253 ALLOWED TO HIRE MY TIME>and applied to himdirectly
for the much-coveted privilege of hiring my time. This request
Master Thomas unhesitatingly refused to grant; and he charged me
with some sternnesswith inventing this stratagem to make my
escape. He told meI 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 properlyI will take care of you." Nowkind and
considerate as this offer wasit failed to soothe me into
repose. In spite of Master ThomasandI may sayin spite of
myselfalsoI continued to thinkand worse stillto think
almost exclusively about the injustice and wickedness of slavery.
No effort of mine or of his could silence this trouble-giving
thoughtor change my purpose to run away.

About two months after applying to Master Thomas for the
privilege of hiring my timeI applied to Master Hugh for the
same libertysupposing him to be unacquainted with the fact that
I had made a similar application to Master Thomasand had been
refused. My boldness in making this requestfairly astounded
him at the first. He gazed at me in amazement. But I had many
good reasons for pressing the matter; andafter listening to
them awhilehe did not absolutely refusebut told me he would
think of it. Herethenwas a gleam of hope. Once master of my
own timeI felt sure that I could makeover and above my
obligation to hima dollar or two every week. Some slaves have
made enoughin this wayto 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 questionon the following terms: I was to be
allowed all my time; to make all bargains for work; to find my
own employmentand to collect my own wages; and<254>in return
for this libertyI was requiredor obligedto pay him three
dollars at the end of each weekand 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 clothingthe losing and breaking
of toolsand the expense of boardmade it necessary for me to
earn at least six dollars per weekto keep even with the world.
All who are acquainted with calkingknow how uncertain and
irregular that employment is. It can be done to advantage only
in dry weatherfor it is useless to put wet oakum into a seam.
Rain or shinehoweverwork or no workat the end of each week
the money must be forthcoming.

Master Hugh seemed to be very much pleasedfor a timewith this
arrangement; and well he might befor 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
driverfar more efficient than any I had before known; and
while he derived all the benefits of slaveholding by the
arrangementwithout its evilsI endured all the evils of being

a slaveand 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 libertyand I was determined to hold on to the
newly gained footingby all proper industry. I was ready to
work by night as well as by day; and being in the enjoyment of
excellent healthI was able not only to meet my current
expensesbut also to lay by a small sum at the end of each week.
All went on thusfrom 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 eventI had
made arrangements with a few young friendsto accompany themon
Saturday nightto a camp-meetingheld about twelve miles from
Baltimore. On the evening of our intended start for <255 I
ATTEND CAMP-MEETING>the camp-groundsomething occurred in the
ship yard where I was at workwhich detained me unusually late
and compelled me either to disappoint my young friendsor to
neglect carrying my weekly dues to Master Hugh. Knowing that I
had the moneyand could hand it to him on another dayI decided
to go to camp-meetingand to pay him the three dollarsfor the
past weekon my return. Once on the camp-groundI was induced
to remain one day longer than I had intendedwhen I left home.
Butas soon as I returnedI went straight to his house on Fell
streetto hand him his (my) money. Unhappilythe fatal mistake
had been committed. I found him exceedingly angry. He exhibited
all the signs of apprehension and wrathwhich 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 reflectinga few momentshe
became somewhat cooled down; butevidently greatly troubledhe
saidNow, 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 Hughit was
now my turn to punish him. "Since thought I, you _will_ make
a slave of meI will await your orders in all things;" and
instead of going to look for work on Monday morningas I had
<256>formerly doneI remained at home during the entire week
without the performance of a single stroke of work. Saturday
night cameand he called upon meas usualfor my wages. Iof
coursetold him I had done no workand 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 workbut was most aggravatingly
awaiting his ordersin all things. As I look back to this
behavior of mineI scarcely know what possessed methus 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;"_ butwisely for _him_and happily for _me_his
wrath only employed those very harmlessimpalpable missiles
which roll from a limber tongue. In my desperationI had fully
made up my mind to measure strength with Master Hughin 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 meas it did in the case of Covey. He was not a man
to be safely resisted by a slave; and I freely ownthat in my
conduct toward himin this instancethere was more folly than
wisdom. Master Hugh closed his reproofsby telling me that
hereafterI need give myself no uneasiness about getting work;
that he "wouldhimselfsee to getting work for meand enough
of itat that." This threat I confess had some terror in it;
andon thinking the matter overduring the SundayI resolved
not only to save him the trouble of getting me workbut that
upon the third day of SeptemberI would attempt to make my
escape from slavery. The refusal to allow me to hire my time
thereforehastened the period of flight. I had three weeks
nowin which to prepare for my journey.

Once resolvedI felt a certain degree of reposeand on Monday
instead of waiting for Master Hugh to seek employment for meI
was up by break of dayand off to the ship yard of Mr. Butler
on the City Blocknear the draw-bridge. I was a favorite <257
I had served as his foreman on the float stageat calking. Of
courseI easily obtained workandat 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
senseon my partwas excellent. He was very much pleased; he
took the moneycommended meand 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 objectthereforein working steadilywas to
remove suspicionand in this I succeeded admirably. He probably
thought I was never better satisfied with my conditionthan 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 hethat he gave me TWENTY-FIVE CENTS! and
bade me make good use of it!I told him I wouldfor one of
the uses to which I meant to put itwas 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 failurein that instancewas not
calculated to increase my confidence in the success of thismy
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 factsI had the painful sensation of being about
to separate from a circle of honest and warm hearted friendsin
Baltimore. The thought of such a separationwhere the hope of
ever meeting again is excludedand where there can be no
correspondenceis very painful. It is my opinionthat
thousands would escape from <258>slavery who now remain there
but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their
familiesrelatives and friends. The daughter is hindered from
escapingby the love she bears her motherand the fatherby

the love he bears his children; and soto the end of the
chapter. I had no relations in Baltimoreand I saw no
probability of ever living in the neighborhood of sisters and
brothers; but the thought of leaving my friendswas 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 togetherfor my journey. Having worked four days that
weekfor my masterI handed him six dollarson Saturday night.
I seldom spent my Sundays at home; andfor fear that something
might be discovered in my conductI kept up my customand
absented myself all day. On Mondaythe third day of September
1838in accordance with my resolutionI bade farewell to the
city of Baltimoreand 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--mustfor reasons
already mentionedremain 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 freemanwhen viewed apart from my life as a
slave. The relation subsisting between my early experience and
that which I am now about to narrateisperhapsmy best
apology for adding another chapter to this book.

Disappearing from the kind readerin a flying cloud or balloon
(pardon the figure)driven by the windand knowing not where I
should land--whether in slavery or in freedom--it is proper that
I should removeat onceall anxietyby frankly making known
where I alighted. The flight was a bold and perilous one; but
here I amin the great city of New Yorksafe and soundwithout
loss of blood or bone. In less than a week after leaving
BaltimoreI was walking amid the hurrying throngand 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 meand 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 askedby kind friends to whom I have told my storyhow I
felt when first I found myself beyond the limits of slavery; and
I must say hereas I have often said to themthere is scarcely
anything about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer.

It was a moment of joyous excitementwhich no words can
describe. In a letter to a friendwritten soon after reaching
New York. I said I felt as one might be supposed to feelon
escaping from a den of hungry lions. Butin a moment like that
sensations are too intense and too rapid for words. Anguish and
grieflike darkness and rainmay be describedbut joy and
gladnesslike the rainbow of promisedefy alike the pen and

For ten or fifteen years I had been dragging a heavy chainwith
a huge block attached to itcumbering my every motion. I had
felt myself doomed to drag this chain and this block through
life. All effortsbeforeto separate myself from the hateful
encumbrancehad only seemed to rivet me the more firmly to it.
Baffled and discouraged at timesI had asked myself the
questionMay not thisafter allbe God's work? May He not
for wise endshave doomed me to this lot? A contest had been
going on in my mind for yearsbetween the clear consciousness of
right and the plausible errors of superstition; between the
wisdom of manly courageand the foolish weakness of timidity.
The contest was now ended; the chain was severed; God and right
stood vindicated. I was A FREEMANand the voice of peace and
joy thrilled my heart.

Free and joyoushoweveras I wasjoy was not the only
sensation I experienced. It was like the quick blazebeautiful
at the firstbut which subsidingleaves 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
Yorkbefore I was met in the streets by a fugitive slavewell
known to meand the information I got from him respecting New
Yorkdid 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 isin realizing that he is in a free
statethe slave might reply. A freeman cannot understand why
the slave-master's shadow is biggerto the slavethan 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 statehe 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 realitybut the state is little more than a dream.
He has been accustomed to regard every white man as the friend of
his masterand every colored man as more or less under the
control of his master's friends--the white people. It takes
stout nerves to stand upin such circumstances. A man
homelessshelterlessbreadlessfriendlessand moneylessis
not in a condition to assume a very proud or joyous tone; and in
just this condition was Iwhile wandering about the streets of
New York city and lodgingat least one nightamong the barrels
on one of its wharves. I was not only free from slaverybut I
was free from homeas well. The reader <265 MARRIAGE>will
easily see that I had something more than the simple fact of
being free to think ofin this extremity.

I kept my secret as long as I couldand 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 facenor 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 sailorwarm-hearted and generousand 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 workand
needed a friend. Stewart promptly put me in the way of getting
out of my trouble. He took me to his houseand went in search
of the late David Ruggleswho was then the secretary of the New
York Vigilance Committeeand a very active man in all antislavery
works. Once in the hands of Mr. RugglesI was
comparatively safe. I was hidden with Mr. Ruggles several days.
In the meantimemy intended wifeAnnacame on from Baltimore-to
whom I had writteninforming her of my safe arrival at New
York--andin the presence of Mrs. Mitchell and Mr. Ruggleswe
were marriedby Rev. James W. C. Pennington.

Mr. Ruggles[7] was the first officer on the under-ground railroad
with whom I met after reaching the northandindeedthe first

of whom I ever heard anything. Learning that I was a calker by
tradehe promptly decided that New Bedford was the proper

[7] He was a whole-souled manfully imbued with a love of his
afflicted and hunted peopleand took pleasure in being to meas
was his wontEyes 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
blindand needed a friend to guide himeven as he had been a
guide to others. Even in his blindnesshe exhibited his manly
character. In search of healthhe became a physician. When
hope of gaining is{sic} own was gonehe had hope for others.
Believing in hydropathyhe establishedat Northampton
Massachusettsa 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 businessand you may there find work at your
tradeand make a good living." Thusin one fortnight after my
flight from MarylandI was safe in New Bedfordregularly
entered upon the exercise of the rightsresponsibilitiesand
duties of a freeman.

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

Once initiated into the new life of freedomand assured by Mr.
Johnson that New Bedford was a safe placethe comparatively
unimportant matteras to what should be my namecame 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
howeverbefore leaving Marylanddispensed with the _Augustus
Washington_and retained the name _Frederick Bailey_. Between
Baltimore and New BedfordhoweverI had several different
namesthe better to avoid being overhauled by the hunterswhich
I had good reason to believe would be put on my track. Among
honest men an honest man may well be content with one nameand
to acknowledge it at all times and in all <267 CHANGE OF
NAME>places; but toward fugitivesAmericans are not honest.
When I arrived at New Bedfordmy 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 factJohnsonhad been
assumed by nearly every slave who had arrived in New Bedford from
Marylandand thismuch 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 wayafter I spent a night and a day at his

housegave 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 ignorancewhen I tell the
notions I had of the state of northern wealthenterpriseand
civilization. Of wealth and refinementI supposed the north had
none. My _Columbian Orator_which was almost my only bookhad
not done much to enlighten me concerning northern society. The
impressions I had received were all wide of the truth. New
Bedfordespeciallytook me by surprisein the solid wealth and
grandeur there exhibited. I had formed my notions respecting the
social condition of the free statesby what I had seen and known
of freewhitenon-slaveholding people in the slave states.
Regarding slavery as the basis of wealthI fancied that no
people could become very wealthy without slavery. A free white
manholding no slavesin the countryI had known to be the
most ignorant and poverty-stricken of menand the laugh<268>ing
stock even of slaves themselves--called generally by themin
derision_"poor white trash_." Like the non-slaveholders at the
southin holding no slavesI suppose the northern people like
themalsoin poverty and degradation. Judgethenof my
amazement and joywhen I found--as I did find--the very laboring
population of New Bedford living in better housesmore elegantly
furnished--surrounded by more comfort and refinement--than a
majority of the slaveholders on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
There was my friendMr. Johnsonhimself 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 countyMaryland. Yet Mr. Johnson was
a working manand his hands were hardened by honest toil. Here
thenwas something for observation and study. Whence the
difference? The explanation was soon furnishedin the
superiority of mind over simple brute force. Many pages might be
given to the contrastand 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 afternoonon reaching New Bedfordwas spent in
visiting the wharves and viewing the shipping. The sight of the
broad brim and the plainQuaker dresswhich met me at every
turngreatly 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 streamwere full-rigged ships of
finest modelready to start on whaling voyages. Upon the right
and the leftI was walled in by large granite-fronted
warehousescrowded with the good things of this world. On the
wharvesI saw industry without bustlelabor without noiseand
heavy toil without the whip. There was no loud singingas in
southern portswhere 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 southwas the manner of

unloading a ship's cargo of oil. In a southern porttwenty or
thirty hands would have been employed to do what five or six did
herewith the aid of a single ox attached to the end of a fall.
Main strengthunassisted by skillis slavery's method of labor.
An old oxworth eighty dollarswas doingin New Bedfordwhat
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 thingstime and strength. The maid
servantinstead of spending at least a tenth part of her time in
bringing and carrying wateras in Baltimorehad the pump at her
elbow. The wood was dryand snugly piled away for winter.
Woodhousesin-door pumpssinksdrainsself-shutting gates
washing machinespounding barrelswere all new thingsand told
me that I was among a thoughtful and sensible people. To the
ship-repairing dock I wentand saw the same wise prudence. The
carpenters struck where they aimedand the calkers wasted no
blows in idle flourishes of the mallet. I learned that men went
from New Bedford to Baltimoreand bought old shipsand brought
them here to repairand 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
Stateswhere I should have found a more striking and gratifying
contrast to the condition of the free people of color in
Baltimorethan 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 freeand is often subjected to
hardships to which the slave is a stranger; but here in New
Bedfordit 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. Therein New Bedfordthe black man's children-although
anti-slavery was then far from popular--went to school
side by side with the white childrenand apparently without
objection from any quarter. To make me at homeMr. Johnson
assured me that no slaveholder could take a slave from New
Bedford; that there were men there who would lay down their
livesbefore such an outrage could be perpetrated. The colored
people themselves were of the best metaland would fight for
liberty to the death.

Soon after my arrival in New BedfordI was told the following
storywhich 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 quarreland the former was heard to
threaten the latter with informing his master of his whereabouts.
As soon as this threat became knowna 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 Judasand had proved successful.
Accordinglyat the hour appointedthe people cameand the
betrayer also. All the usual formalities of public meetings were
scrupulously gone througheven to the offering prayer for Divine
direction in the duties of the occasion. The president himself
performed this part of the ceremonyand I was told that he was
unusually fervent. Yetat the close of his prayerthe old man
(one of the numerous family of Johnsons) rose from his knees
deliberately surveyed his audienceand then saidin a tone of

solemn resolution_"Wellfriendswe have got him hereand 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 thisa large body of the congregationwho well understood
the business they had come there to transactmade a rush at the
villainand doubtless would have killed himhad he not availed
himself of an open sashand 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 agoany more than he could be so taken away now.
The reason isthat the colored people in that city are educated
up to the point of fighting for their freedomas well as
speaking for it.

Once assured of my safety in New BedfordI put on the
habiliments of a common laborerand went on the wharf in search
of work. I had no notion of living on the honest and generous
sympathy of my colored brotherJohnsonor that of the
abolitionists. My cry was like that of Hood's laborerOh! only
give me work.Happily for meI was not long in searching. I
found employmentthe third day after my arrival in New Bedford
in stowing a sloop with a load of oil for the New York market.
It was newhardand dirty workeven for a calkerbut 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 jobmay not easily be understoodexcept 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
independencebeyond 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 sameI went next in pursuit of a job at calking. It so
happened that Mr. Rodney Frenchlate mayor of the city of New
Bedfordhad a ship fitting out for seaand to which there was a
large job of calking and coppering to be done. I applied to that
<272>noblehearted man for employmentand he promptly told me to
go to work; but going on the float-stage for the purposeI was
informed that every white man would leave the ship if I struck a
blow upon her. "Wellwell thought I, this is a hardshipbut
yet not a very serious one for me." The difference between the
wages of a calker and that of a common day laborerwas an
hundred per cent in favor of the former; but then I was freeand
free to workthough 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 founderyand elsewhere; and thus supported
myself and family for three years.

The first winter was unusually severein 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 winterI 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
wayand I had a wholesome dread of the consequences of running
in debt. This winter pastand 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 worldand was wide awake to its
advantages. I early began to attend the meetings of the colored
people of New Bedfordand 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
Bedfordat that periodgave promise of great usefulness. They
were educatedand possessed what seemed to meat the timevery
superior talents. Some of them have been cut down by deathand
<273 THE CHURCH>others have removed to different parts of the
worldand some remain there nowand justifyin their present
activitiesmy early impressions of them.

Among my first concerns on reaching New Bedfordwas to become
united with the churchfor I had never given upin realitymy
religious faith. I had become lukewarm and in a backslidden
statebut 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 CoveysWeedensAuldsand HopkinsI could see through
at oncebut I could not see how Elm Street churchin New
Bedfordcould 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 Bedfordand to
enjoy the spiritual advantage of public worship. The minister of
the Elm Street Methodist churchwas the Rev. Mr. Bonney; and
although I was not allowed a seat in the body of the houseand
was proscribed on account of my colorregarding this
proscription simply as an accommodation of the uncoverted
congregation who had not yet been won to Christ and his
brotherhoodI was willing thus to be proscribedlest sinners
should be driven away form the saving power of the gospel. Once
convertedI 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. Theyat leasthave
renounced this unholy feeling." Judgethendear readerof my
astonishment and mortificationwhen I foundas 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 disownedin effecttheir black brothers and
sistersbefore the worldI did think that where none but the
saints were assembledand no offense could be given to the
wickedand 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 forwardcolored friends! come forward! Youtoohave an
interest in the blood of Christ. God is no respecter of persons.
Come forwardand take this holy sacrament to your <275 THE
SACRAMENT>comfort." The colored members poorslavish souls went
forwardas invited. I went outand have never been in that
church sincealthough 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 prejudiceand I could notthereforefeel that in
joining themI was joining a Christian churchat all. I tried
other churches in New Bedfordwith the same resultand finally
I attached myself to a small body of colored Methodistsknown as
the Zion Methodists. Favored with the affection and confidence
of the members of this humble communionI was soon made a
classleader and a local preacher among them. Many seasons of
peace and joy I experienced among themthe remembrance of which
is still preciousalthough I could not see it to be my duty to
remain with that bodywhen I found that it consented to the same
spirit which held my brethren in chains.

In four or five months after reaching New Bedfordthere came a
young man to mewith a copy of the _Liberator_the paper edited
asked me to subscribe for it. I told him I had but just escaped
from slaveryand was of course very poorand remarked further
that I was unable to pay for it then; the agenthoweververy
willingly took me as a subscriberand 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 brotherhooddenounced oppressionandwith all
the solemnity of God's worddemanded the complete emancipation
of my race. I not only liked--I _loved_ this paperand its
editor. He seemed a match for all the oponents{sic} of
emancipationwhether they spoke in the name of the lawor the
gospel. <276>His words were fewfull of holy fireand straight
to the point. Learning to love himthrough his paperI was
prepared to be pleased with his presence. Something of a hero
worshiperby naturehere was oneon first sightto excite my
love and reverence.

Seventeen years agofew men possessed a more heavenly
countenance than William Lloyd Garrisonand few men evinced a
more genuine or a more exalted piety. The bible was his text
book--held sacredas the word of the Eternal Father--sinless
perfection--complete submission to insults and injuries--literal

obedience to the injunctionif smitten on one side to turn the
other also. Not only was Sunday a Sabbathbut all days were
Sabbathsand to be kept holy. All sectarism false and
mischievous--the regeneratedthroughout the worldmembers of
one bodyand the HEAD Christ Jesus. Prejudice against color was
rebellion against God. Of all men beneath the skythe slaves
because most neglected and despisedwere nearest and dearest to
his great heart. Those ministers who defended slavery from the
biblewere of their "father the devil"; and those churches which
fellowshiped slaveholders as Christianswere synagogues of
Satanand our nation was a nation of liars. Never loud or
noisy--calm and serene as a summer skyand as pure. "You are
the manthe Mosesraised up by Godto 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 handsas 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 speckyet large enough to justify a pause
for retrospection--and a pause it must only be.

Youngardentand hopefulI 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 alland freedom must soon be
given to the pining millions under a ruthless bondage. My whole
heart went with the holy causeand my most fervent prayer to the
Almighty Disposer of the hearts of menwere continually offered
for its early triumph. "Who or what thought I, can withstand
a cause so goodso holyso indescribably glorious. The God of
Israel is with us. The might of the Eternal is on our side. Now

let but the truth be spokenand a nation will start forth at the
sound!" In this enthusiastic spiritI dropped into the ranks of
freedom's friendsand 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 soonhoweverfound that my enthusiasm had been
extravagant; that hardships and dangers were not yet passed; and
that the life now before mehad shadows as well as sunbeams.

Among the first duties assigned meon entering the rankswas to
travelin company with Mr. George Fosterto 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 cameno doubtfrom 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 slavesat that timewere not so plentiful as
now; and as a fugitive slave lecturerI 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
slavenot only because of the danger to which he exposed himself
of being retakenbut 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 tookat the beginningto prevent Master
Thomas from knowing where I wasand what I was aboutwas the
withholding my former namemy master's nameand the name of the
state and county from which I came. During the first three or
four monthsmy 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 peopleit
is truebut it was an old story to me; and to go through with it
night after nightwas a task altogether too mechanical for my
nature. "Tell your storyFrederick 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 slaveFrederickif you
keep on this way said Friend Foster. Be yourself said
Collins, and tell your story." It was said to meBetter 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 motivesand 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 slavelook
like a slavenor act like a slaveand 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. Besideshe is educatedand
isin thisa contradiction of all the facts we have concerning
the ignorance of the slaves." ThusI 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.
Theythereforenever doubted my being a genuine fugitive; but
going down the aisles of the churches in which I spokeand
hearing the free spoken Yankees sayingrepeatedly_"He's never
been a slaveI'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 Providencewhen coupled with trouble and
anxietyoften conceal from finite vision the wisdom and goodness
in which they are sent; andfrequentlywhat seemed a harsh and
invidious dispensationis converted by after experience into a
happy and beneficial arrangement. Thusthe painful liability to
be returned again to slaverywhich haunted me by dayand
troubled my dreams by nightproved to be a necessary step in the
path of knowledge and usefulness. The writing of my pamphletin
the spring of 1845endangered my libertyand led me to seek a
refuge from republican slavery in monarchical England. A rude
uncultivated fugitive slave was drivenby stern necessityto
that country to which young American gentlemen go to increase
their stock of knowledgeto seek pleasureto have their rough
democratic manners softened by contact with English aristocratic
refinement. On applying for a passage to Englandon board the
Cambriaof the Cunard linemy friendJames N. Buffumof
informed that I could not be received on board as a cabin
passenger. American prejudice against color triumphed over
British liberality and civilizationand 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 friendsbut to meit was
commonexpectedand thereforea thing of no great consequence
whether I went in the cabin or in the steerage. MoreoverI felt
that if I could not go into the first cabinfirst-cabin
passengers could come into the second cabinand the result
justified my anticipations to the fullest extent. IndeedI 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
cabinthat part of the ship became the scene of as much pleasure
and refinementduring the voyageas the cabin itself. The
Hutchinson Familycelebrated vocalists--fellow-passengers--often
came to my rude forecastle deckand sung their sweetest songs
enlivening the place with eloquent musicas well as spirited
conversationduring the voyage. In two days after leaving
Bostonone part of the ship was about as free to me as another.
My fellow-passengers not only visited mebut invited me to visit
themon the saloon deck. My visits therehoweverwere but
seldom. I preferred to live within my privilegesand keep upon
my own premises. I found this quite as much in accordance with
good policyas with my own feelings. The effect wasthat with
the majority of the passengersall color distinctions were flung
to the windsand I found myself treated with every mark of
respectfrom the beginning to the end of the voyageexcept in a
single instance; and in thatI came near being mobbedfor
complying with an invitation given me by the passengersand 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 theeand a sojourneras all my fathers were."
That men should be patrioticis to me perfectly natural; and as
a philosophical factI am able to give it an _intellectual_
recognition. But no further can I go. If ever I had any
patriotismor any capacity for the feelingit was whipped out
of me long sinceby the lash of the American soul-drivers.

In thinking of AmericaI sometimes find myself admiring her
bright blue skyher grand old woodsher fertile fieldsher
beautiful riversher mighty lakesand star-crowned mountains.
But my rapture is soon checkedmy joy is soon turned to
mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal
spirit of slaveholdingrobberyand wrong; when I remember that
with the waters of her noblest riversthe tears of my brethren
are borne to the oceandisregarded and forgottenand that her
most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged
sisters; I am filled with unutterable loathingand 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
friendsto be her worst enemies. May God give her repentance
before it is too lateis the ardent prayer of my heart. I will
continue to praylaborand waitbelieving that she cannot
always be insensible to the dictates of justiceor 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 Causewayand from the
Giant's Causwayto Cape Clear. During these travelsI have met
with much in the chara@@ and condition of the people to approve
and much to condemn; much that @@thrilled me with pleasureand
very much that has filled me with pain. I @@ @@tin this
letterattempt 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
timeof the bright side of the picture. I can truly sayI 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 slaveand the strong
abhorrence of the slaveholdereverywhere evinced; the cordiality
with which members and ministers of various religious bodiesand
of various shades of religious opinionhave embraced meand
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 meon 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 StatesI was a slavethought 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. Digest224). In the northern statesa
fugitive slaveliable to be hunted at any momentlike 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--caricaturedscorned
scoffedmockedand 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 goneand I have
crossed three thousand miles of the perilous deep. Instead of a
democratic governmentI am under a monarchical government.
Instead of the brightblue sky of AmericaI am covered with the
softgrey fog of the Emerald Isle. I breatheand lo! the
chattel becomes a man. I gaze around in vain for one who will
question my equal humanityclaim me as his slaveor 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
instructionor amusementon 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 churchI am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip to
tell me_We don't allow niggers in here_!

I rememberabout two years agothere was in Bostonnear the
south-west corner of Boston Commona 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 thismy firstsince my escape. I wentand
as I approached the entrance to gain admissionI was met and
told by the door-keeperin 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-houseat New
Bedfordand going up the broad aisle to find a seatI was met
by a good deaconwho told mein a pious tone_We don't allow
niggers in here_!Soon after my arrival in New Bedfordfrom
the southI had a strong desire to attend the Lyceumbut was
told_They don't allow niggers in here_!While passing from
New York to Bostonon the steamer Massachusettson the night of
the 9th of December1843when chilled almost through with the
coldI went into the cabin to get a little warm. I was soon
touched upon the shoulderand told_We don't allow niggers in
here_!On arriving in Bostonfrom an anti-slavery tourhungry
and tiredI went into an eating-housenear my friendMr.
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 StatesI
had a meeting appointed at Weymouththe home of that glorious
band of true abolitioniststhe Weston familyand others. On
attempting to take a seat in the omnibus to that placeI 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 dayswhen a
gentleman of great respectability kindly offered to conduct me
through all the public buildings of that beautiful city; and a
little afterwardI 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 mansionto 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 worthand not
according to the color of their skin. Whatever may be said of
the aristocracies herethere 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 abroadin any but Americans. It sticks to them
wherever they go. They find it almost as hard to get rid ofas
to get rid of their skins.

The second day after my arrival at Liverpoolin company with my
friendBuffumand several other friendsI went to Eaton Hall
the residence of the Marquis of Westminsterone of the most
splendid buildings in England. On approaching the doorI found
several of our American passengerswho came out with us in the
Cambria,waiting for admissionas 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 facesexpressive of chagrinthose of
the Americans were preeminent. They looked as sour as vinegar
and as bitter as gallwhen they found I was to be admitted on
equal terms with themselves. When the door was openedI walked
inon an equal footing with my white fellow-citizensand from
all I could seeI had as much attention paid me by the servants
that showed us through the houseas any with a paler skin. As I
walked through the buildingthe statuary did not fall downthe
pictures did not leap from their placesthe doors did not refuse
to openand the servants did not say_We don't allow niggers

in here_!

A happy new-year to youand all the friends of freedom.

My time and laborswhile abroad were divided between England
IrelandScotlandand Wales. Upon this experience aloneI
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 Kingdomand enjoyed many favorable
opportunities for observation and information. But books on
England are abundantand the public maythereforedismiss any
fear that I am meditating another infliction in that line;
<290>thoughin truthI should like much to write a book on
those countriesif for nothing elseto make grateful mention of
the many dear friendswhose benevolent actions toward me are
ineffaceably stamped upon my memoryand warmly treasured in my
heart. To these friends I owe my freedom in the United States.
On their own motionwithout any solicitation from me (Mrs. Henry
Richardsona clever ladyremarkable for her devotion to every
good worktaking the lead)they raised a fund sufficient to
purchase my freedomand actually paid it overand placed the
papers[8] of my manumission in my handsbefore

[8] The following is a copy of these curious papersboth of my
transfer from Thomas to Hugh Auldand 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

Signedsealedand 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 knownthat IHugh Auldof
the city of Baltimorein Baltimore countyin the state of
Marylandfor divers good causes and considerationsme thereunto
movinghave released from slaveryliberatedmanumittedand
set freeand by these presents do hereby release from slavery
liberatemanumitand set freeMY NEGRO MANnamed FREDERICK
BAILYotherwise called DOUGLASSbeing of the age of twenty

eight yearsor thereaboutsand able to work and gain a
sufficient livelihood and maintenance; and him the said negro man
declare to be henceforth freemanumittedand discharged from
all manner of servitude to memy executorsand 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 thismy native country. To this commercial
transaction I owe my exemption from the democratic operation of
the Fugitive Slave Bill of 1850. But for thisI might at any
time become a victim of this most cruel and scandalous enactment
and be doomed to end my lifeas I began ita 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 arrangementand were not
pleased that I consented to iteven 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 handviewing it simply in the light of a ransomor as
money extorted by a robberand my liberty of more value than one
hundred and fifty pounds sterlingI could not see either a
violation of the laws of moralityor those of economyin the

It is trueI was not in the possession of my claimantsand
could have easily remained in Englandfor the same friends who
had so generously purchased my freedomwould have assisted me in
establishing myself in that country. To thishoweverI 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.
Consideringthereforeall 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 sterlingand
leaving me free to return to my appropriate field of labor. Had
I been a private personhaving no other relations or duties than
those of a personal and family natureI 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 Englandor 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 notoriousand withal quite as unpopular as
notorious; and I wasthereforemuch exposed to arrest and

The main object to which my labors in Great Britain were
directedwas 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
Statesand if there were no other justification than thisfor
appealing to her people to lend their moral aid for the abolition
of slaveryI should be justified. My speeches in Great Britain
were wholly extemporaneousand I may not always have been so

guarded in my expressionsas I otherwise should have been.
was ten years younger then than nowand only seven years from
slavery. I cannot give the reader a better idea of the nature of
my discoursesthan by republishing one of themdelivered in
Finsbury chapelLondonto an audience of about two thousand
personsand 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 statementsbecause
delivered before an audience supposed to be anti-republican in
their principles and feelingsmay 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 meetingswerein truth
about as good republicans as the mass of Americansand with this
decided advantage over the latter--they are lovers of
republicanism for all menfor black men as well as for white
men. They are the people who sympathize with Louis Kossuth and
Mazziniand with the oppressed and enslavedof every color and
nationthe world over. They constitute the democratic element
in British politicsand are as much opposed to the union of
church and state as wein Americaare to such an union. At the
meeting where this speech was deliveredJoseph Sturge--a worldwide

[9] See Appendix to this volumepage 317.
<293 ENGLISH REPUBLICANS>thropistand a member of the society of
Friends--presidedand addressed the meeting. George William
Alexanderanother Friendwho has spent more than an
Ameriacn{sic} fortune in promoting the anti-slavery cause in
different sections of the worldwas on the platform; and also
Dr. Campbell (now of the _British Banner_) who combines all the
humane tenderness of Melanchthonwith the directness and
boldness of Luther. He is in the very front ranks of nonconformists
and looks with no unfriendly eye upon America.
George Thompsontoowas 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 heartand 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
platformwho would gladly ingraft upon English institutions all
that is purely republican in the institutions of America.
Nothingthereforemust 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
governmentand with a view to stir up prejudice against
republican institutions.

Againlet it also be remembered--for it is the simple truth-that
neither in this speechnor in any other which I delivered
in Englanddid I ever allow myself to address Englishmen as
against Americans. I took my stand on the high ground of human
brotherhoodand spoke to Englishmen as menin behalf of men.
Slavery is a crimenot against Englishmenbut against Godand
all the members of the human family; and it belongs to the whole
human family to seek its suppression. In a letter to Mr.
Greeleyof the New York Tribunewritten while abroadI said:

I amnevertheless aware that the wisdom of exposing the sins of
one nation in the ear of anotherhas been seriously questioned
by good and clear-sighted peopleboth 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. Thishoweveris 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 senseand so well
calculated to beget a characterin every one around it
favorable to its own continuance--that I feel not only at
libertybut abundantly justifiedin appealing to the whole
world to aid in its removal.

Buteven if I had--as has been often charged--labored to bring
American institutions generally into disreputeand had not
confined my labors strictly within the limits of humanity and
moralityI 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 shudderI
was fully justified in turningif possiblethe 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. Firstthe 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 slavetraders.
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 treasurywith which to build _free_ churchesand
to pay _free_ church ministers for preaching the gospel; and
worse stillwhen honest John Murrayof Bowlien Bay--now gone to
his reward in heaven--with William SmealAndrew PatonFrederick
Cardand other sterling anti-slavery men in Glasgowdenounced
the transaction as disgraceful and shocking to the religious
sentiment of Scotlandthis churchthrough its leading divines
instead of repenting and seeking to mend the mistake into which
it had fallenmade it a flagrant sinby undertaking to defend
in the name of God and the biblethe principle not only <296>of
taking the money of slave-dealers to build churchesbut of
holding fellowship with the holders and traffickers in human
flesh. Thisthe reader will seebrought up the whole question
of slaveryand opened the way to its full discussionwithout
any agency of mine. I have never seen a people more deeply moved
than were the people of Scotlandon this very question. Public
meeting succeeded public meeting. Speech after speechpamphlet
after pamphleteditorial after editorialsermon after sermon
soon lashed the conscientious Scotch people into a perfect
_furore_. "SEND BACK THE MONEY!" was indignantly cried outfrom
Greenock to Edinburghand from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. George
Thompsonof LondonHenry C. Wrightof the United StatesJames

N. Buffumof LynnMassachusettsand myself were on the antislavery
side; and Doctors ChalmersCunninghamand Candlish on
the other. In a conflict where the latter could have had even
the show of rightthe truthin our hands as against themmust
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 Churchthe battleit must be confessedwas a hard-fought
one. Abler defenders of the doctrine of fellowshiping
slaveholders as christianshave not been met with. In defending
this doctrineit was necessary to deny that slavery is a sin.
If driven from this positionthey were compelled to deny that
slaveholders were responsible for the sin; and if driven from
both these positionsthey must deny that it is a sin in such a
senseand that slaveholders are sinners in such a senseas to
make it wrongin the circumstances in which they were placedto
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 mena parallel to which I think I
never witnessed beforeand 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 MillsEdinburgh. The building would hold
about twenty-five hundred persons; and on this occasion it was
densely packednotice having been given that Doctors Cunningham
and Candlish would speakthat dayin defense of the relations
of the Free Church of Scotland to slavery in America. Messrs.
ThompsonBuffummyselfand a few anti-slavery friends
attendedbut sat at such a distanceand in such a position
thatperhaps we were not observed from the platform. The
excitement was intensehaving been greatly increased by a series
of meetings held by Messrs. ThompsonWrightBuffumand myself

in the most splendid hall in that most beautiful cityjust
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 capitalsadorned 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 dayat 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 greatthe men greatand great speeches were expected from

In addition to the outside pressure upon Doctors Cunningham and
Candlishthere 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 slaverywas sensibly manifest
among the membersand 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 Millsas formerly. He whose voice was able to rend
asunder and dash down the granite walls of the established church
of Scotlandand to lead a host in solemn procession from itas
from a doomed citywas now old and enfeebled. Besideshe had
said his word on this very question; and his word had not
silenced the clamor withoutnor stilled <298>the anxious
heavings within. The occasion was momentousand felt to be so.
The church was in a perilous condition. A change of some sort
must take place in her conditionor she must go to pieces. To
stand where she didwas impossible. The whole weight of the
matter fell on Cunningham and Candlish. No shoulders in the
church were broader than theirs; and I must saybadly as I
detest the principles laid down and defended by themI 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 occasionbut to me it served to
increase its grandeur and gravity. The applausethough
tumultuouswas not joyous. It seemed to meas it thundered up
from the vast audiencelike the fall of an immense shaftflung
from shoulders already galled by its crushing weight. It was
like sayingDoctor, 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 speechabounding in logic
learningand eloquenceand apparently bearing down all
opposition; but at the moment--the fatal moment--when he was just
bringing all his arguments to a pointand that point beingthat
neither Jesus Christ nor his holy apostles regarded slaveholding
as a sinGeorge Thompsonin a clearsonorousbut rebuking
voicebroke the deep stillness of the audienceexclaiming
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 momentspeaker and audience were brought to
a dead silence. Both the doctor and his hearers seemed appalled
by the audacityas well as the fitness of the rebuke. At length
a shout went up to the cry of "_Put him out_!" Happilyno one
attempted to execute this cowardly orderand the doctor
proceeded with his discourse. Nothoweveras beforedid the
<299 COLLISION WITH DR. COX>learned doctor proceed. The
exclamation of Thompson must have reechoed itself a thousand

times in his memoryduring the remainder of his speechfor the
doctor never recovered from the blow.

The deed was donehowever; the pillars of the church--_the
proudFree Church of Scotland_--were committed and the humility
of repentance was absent. The Free Church held on to the bloodstained
moneyand 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 voiceher
voteand her example to the cause of humanity; and to-day she is
staggering under the curse of the enslavedwhose blood is in her
skirts. The people of Scotland areto this daydeeply grieved
at the course pursued by the Free Churchand would hailas a
relief from a deep and blighting shamethe "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 slaveryand for
arraying against the system the moral and religious sentiment of
that country. Thereforewhile we did not succeed in
accomplishing the specific object of our missionnamely--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 attendedand some of them went
there merely to weave a world-wide garment with which to clothe
evangelical slaveholders. Foremost among these divineswas the
Rev. Samuel Hanson Coxmoderator of the New School Presbyterian
General Assembly. He and his friends spared no pains to secure a
platform broad enough to hold American slaveholdersand in this
partly succeeded. But the question of slavery is too large a
question to be finally disposed ofeven by the <300>Evangelical
Alliance. We appealed from the judgment of the Allianceto the
judgment of the people of Great Britainand with the happiest
effect. This controversy with the Alliance might be made the
subject of extended remarkbut I must forbearexcept 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 discussionand that it was well improved.

The fourth and last circumstance that assisted me in getting
before the British publicwas 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. Coxwho made me the subject not only of
bitter remark in the conventionbut 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 couldand was
successful in getting a respectful hearing before the British
publicwho are by nature and practice ardent lovers of fair
playespecially in a conflict between the weak and the strong.

Thus did circumstances favor meand favor the cause of which I
strove to be the advocate. After such distinguished noticethe
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 partyby 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 themselvesand to judge for themselves
of the truth which I had to unfold. Whilethereforeit is by
no means easy for a stranger to get fairly before the British
publicit 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 ita <301
friends of the cause of emancipation in that country
intimated their intention to make me a testimonialnot only on
grounds of personal regard to myselfbut also to the cause to
which they were so ardently devoted. How far any such thing
could have succeededI 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 materialsto enable me
to start a paperdevoted 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 Stateswas the low estimateeverywhere in that
countryplaced upon the Negroas a man; that because of his
assumed natural inferioritypeople reconciled themselves to his
enslavement and oppressionas things inevitableif not
desirable. The grand thing to be donethereforewas 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 inferiorityand demonstrate their
capacity for a more exalted civilization than slavery and
prejudice had assigned to them. I further statedthatin my
judgmenta tolerably well conducted pressin the hands of
persons of the despised raceby 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 prejudiceand of awakening an interest in them. I
further informed them--and at that time the statement was true-that
there was notin the United Statesa single newspaper
regularly published by the colored people; that many attempts had
been made to establish such papers; but thatup to that time
they had all failed. These views I laid before my friends. The
result wasnearly two thousand five hundred dollars were
speed<302>ily raised toward starting my paper. For this prompt
and generous assistancerendered upon my bare suggestion
without any personal efforts on my partI 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 confidencewill never cease to be a motive for persevering

Proposing to leave Englandand turning my face toward America
in the spring of 1847I was meton the thresholdwith
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 abroadI was met with proscription on account of my
color. A few weeks before departing from Englandwhile in
LondonI was careful to purchase a ticketand secure a berth
for returning homein 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 CambriaI found that the Liverpool agent had
ordered my berth to be given to anotherand had forbidden my
entering the saloon! This contemptible conduct met with stern

rebuke from the British press. Forupon the point of leaving
EnglandI took occasion to expose the disgusting tyrannyin the
columns of the London _Times_. That journaland other leading
journals throughout the United Kingdomheld up the outrage to
unmitigated condemnation. So good an opportunity for calling out
a full expression of British sentiment on the subjecthad not
before occurredand 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 outrageand promising that
the like should never occur again on board his steamers; and the
likewe believehas 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 didI should be
very happy to bearpatientlymany more than I have borneof
<303 THE STING OF INSULT>the same sort. Albeitthe lash of
proscriptionto a man accustomed to equal social positioneven
for a timeas I washas 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 hardafter having
enjoyed nearly two years of equal social privileges in England
often dining with gentlemen of great literarysocialpolitical
and religious eminence neverduring the whole timehaving met
with a single wordlookor gesturewhich 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 Bedfordfour 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 yearsand my story will be done.

A trial awaited me on my return from England to the United
Statesfor 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 penas well as my voicein the
great work of renovating the public mindand building up a
public sentiment which shouldat leastsend slavery and
oppression to the graveand restore to "liberty and the pursuit
of happiness" the people with whom I had sufferedboth as a <305

Intimation had reached my friends in Boston of what I intended to
dobefore my arrivaland 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 paperand for several reasons. Firstthe paper was
not needed; secondlyit would interfere with my usefulness as a
lecturer; thirdlyI was better fitted to speak than to write;
fourthlythe paper could not succeed. This oppositionfrom a
quarter so highly esteemedand to which I had been accustomed to
look for advice and directioncaused me not only to hesitate
but inclined me to abandon the enterprise. All previous attempts
to establish such a journal having failedI felt that probably I
should but add another to the list of failuresand 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 acquirementsI felt to be most painfully
true. The unsuccessful projectors of all the previous colored
newspapers were my superiors in point of educationand if they
failedhow could I hope for success? Yet I did hope for
successand persisted in the undertaking. Some of my English
friends greatly encouraged me to go forwardand 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
presumptuousin 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 onein such circumstances
should aspire to establish a printing pressamong an educated
peoplemight well be consideredif not ambitiousquite silly.
My American friends looked at me with astonishment! "A woodsawyer"
offering himself to the public as an editor! A slave
brought up in the very depths of ignoranceassuming to instruct
the highly civilized people of the north in the principles of
libertyjusticeand humanity! The thing looked absurd.
NeverthelessI per<306>severed. I felt that the want of
educationgreat as it wascould be overcome by studyand that
knowledge would come by experience; and further (which was
perhaps the most controlling consideration). I thought that an
intelligent publicknowing my early historywould easily pardon
a large share of the deficiencies which I was sure that my paper
would exhibit. The most distressing thinghoweverwas the
offense which I was about to give my Boston friendsby 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 friendsand I labored hard to
convince them of the wisdom of my undertakingbut without
success. IndeedI never expect to succeedalthough time has
answered all their original objections. The paper has been
successful. It is a large sheetcosting 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 ratethe eight years to come are as full of
promise as were the eight that are past.

It is not to be concealedhoweverthat the maintenance of such
a journalunder the circumstanceshas been a work of much
difficulty; and could all the perplexityanxietyand trouble
attending ithave been clearly foreseenI might have shrunk
from the undertaking. As it isI rejoice in having engaged in
the enterpriseand count it joy to have been able to sufferin
many waysfor its successand for the success of the cause to
which it has been faithfully devoted. I look upon the time
moneyand labor bestowed upon itas being amply rewardedin

the development of my own mental and moral energiesand in the
corresponding development of my deeply injured and oppressed

From motives of peaceinstead of issuing my paper in Boston
among my New England friendsI came to Rochesterwestern New
Yorkamong strangerswhere the circulation of my paper could
not interfere with the local circulation of the _Liberator_ and
the _Standard;_ for at that time I wason the anti-slavery
question<307 CHANGE OF VIEWS>a faithful disciple of William
Lloyd Garrisonand 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. GarrisonI held it to be the
first duty of the non-slaveholding states to dissolve the union
with the slaveholding states; and hence my crylike hiswas
No union with slaveholders.With these viewsI came into
western New York; and during the first four years of my labor
hereI advocated them with pen and tongueaccording to the best
of my ability.

About four years agoupon a reconsideration of the whole
subjectI 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 votingwas 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 slaverybuton the contraryit is
in its letter and spiritan anti-slavery instrumentdemanding
the abolition of slavery as a condition of its own existenceas
the supreme law of the land.

Here was a radical change in my opinionsand in the action
logically resulting from that change. To those with whom I had
been in agreement and in sympathyI was now in opposition. What
they held to be a great and important truthI now looked upon as
a dangerous error. A very painfuland yet a very naturalthing
now happened. Those who could not see any honest reasons for
changing their viewsas I had donecould not easily see any
such reasons for my changeand the common punishment of
apostates was mine.

The opinions first entertained were naturally derived and
honestly entertainedand I trust that my present opinions have
the same claims to respect. Brought directlywhen I escaped
from slaveryinto contact with a class of abolitionists
regarding the <308>constitution as a slaveholding instrumentand
finding their views supported by the united and entire history of
every department of the governmentit is not strange that I
assumed the constitution to be just what their interpretation
made it. I was boundnot only by their superior knowledgeto
take their opinions as the true onesin respect to the subject
but also because I had no means of showing their unsoundness.
But for the responsibility of conducting a public journaland
the necessity imposed upon me of meeting opposite views from
abolitionists in this stateI 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 studywith some carenot only the just and proper rules
of legal interpretationbut the origindesignnaturerights
powersand duties of civil governmentand also the relations

which human beings sustain to it. By such a course of thought
and readingI was conducted to the conclusion that the
constitution of the United States--inaugurated "to form a more
perfect unionestablish justiceinsure domestic tranquillity
provide for the common defensepromote the general welfareand
secure the blessing of liberty"--could not well have been
designed at the same time to maintain and perpetuate a system of
rapine and murderlike slavery; especiallyas not one word can
be found in the constitution to authorize such a belief. Then
againif the declared purposes of an instrument are to govern
the meaning of all its parts and detailsas 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
howevernot to arguebut simply to state my views. It would
require very many pages of a volume like thisto set forth the
arguments demonstrating the unconstitutionality and the complete
illegality of slavery in our land; and as my experienceand not
my argumentsis within the scope and contemplation of this
volumeI 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 sakebut
whichsmall as it iscannot be properly omitted altogether; and
that thread is American prejudice against colorand its varied
illustrations in my own experience.

When I first went among the abolitionists of New Englandand
began to travelI found this prejudice very strong and very
annoying. The abolitionists themselves were not entirely free
from itand I could see that they were nobly struggling against
it. In their eagernesssometimesto show their contempt for
the feelingthey proved that they had not entirely recovered
from it; often illustrating the sayingin their conductthat a
man may "stand up so straight as to lean backward." When it was
said to meMr. 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 badthe old _black_ man--not the old _devil_--would
get them; and it was evidence of some couragefor any so
educated to get the better of their fears.

The custom of providing separate cars for the accommodation of
colored travelerswas established on nearly all the railroads of
New Englanda dozen years ago. Regarding this custom as
fostering the spirit of casteI made it a rule to seat myself in
the cars for the accommodation of passengers generally. Thus
seatedI was sure to be called upon to betake myself to the
_Jim Crow car_.Refusing to obeyI was often dragged out of
my seatbeatenand severely bruisedby conductors and
brakemen. Attempting to start from Lynnone dayfor
Newburyporton the Eastern railroadI wentas 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
conductorand ordered out; whereupon I demanded the reason for
my invidious removal. After a good deal of parleyingI was told
that it was because I <310>was black. This I deniedand
appealed to the company to sustain my denial; but they were
evidently unwilling to commit themselveson a point so delicate
and requiring such nice powers of discriminationfor 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 seatand if I did notthey
would drag me out. I refused to moveand they clutched me
headneckand shoulders. Butin anticipation of the
stretching to which I was about to be subjectedI had interwoven
myself among the seats. In dragging me outon this occasionit
must have cost the company twenty-five or thirty dollarsfor I
tore up seats and all. So great was the excitement in Lynnon
the subjectthat the superintendentMr. Stephen A. Chase
ordered the trains to run through Lynn without stoppingwhile 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 carsthis same company allowed slavesin company
with their masters and mistressesto ride unmolested.

After many battles with the railroad conductorsand being
roughly handled in not a few instancesproscription 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 peopleand 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 legislaturein
bringing this reformation; and to him the colored citizens of
that state are deeply indebted.

Although often annoyedand sometimes outragedby this prejudice
against colorI am indebted to it for many passages of quiet
amusement. A half-cured subject of it is sometimes driven into
awkward straitsespecially if he happens to get a genuine
specimen of the race into his house.

In the summer of 1843I was traveling and lecturingin company
with William A. WhiteEsq.through the state of Indiana. Antislavery
friends were not very abundant in Indianaat that time
and beds were not more plentiful than friends. We often slept
outin preference to sleeping in the housesat some points. At
the close of one of our meetingswe were invited home with a
kindly-disposed old farmerwhoin the generous enthusiasm of
the momentseemed to have forgotten that he had but one spare
bedand that his guests were an ill-matched pair. All went on
pretty welltill near bed timewhen signs of uneasiness began
to show themselvesamong the unsophisticated sons and daughters.
White is remarkably fine lookingand very evidently a born
gentleman; the idea of putting us in the same bed was hardly to
be tolerated; and yetthere we wereand but the one bed for us
and thatby the waywas in the same room occupied by the other
members of the family. Whiteas well as Iperceived the
difficultyfor yonder slept the old folksthere the sonsand a
little farther along slept the daughters; and but one other bed
remained. Who should have this bedwas the puzzling question.
There was some whispering between the old folkssome confused
looks among the youngas the time for going to bed approached.
After witnessing the confusion as long as I likedI relieved the
kindly-disposed family by playfully sayingFriend 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 jokeby seeming to esteem himself the favored party
and thus the difficulty was removed. If we went to a hoteland
called for dinnerthe landlord was sure to set one table for
White and another for mealways taking him to be masterand 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 daysit was thought strange that a white man and a colored
man could dine peaceably at the same tableand in some parts the
strangeness of such a sight has not entirely subsided.

Some people will have it that there is a naturalan 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 colorand that it is impossible for white people ever
to look upon dark races of menor men belonging to the African
racewith other than feelings of aversion. My experienceboth
serious and mirthfulcombats this conclusion. Leaving out of
sightfor a momentgrave factsto this pointI will state one
or twowhich illustrate a very interesting feature of American
character as well as American prejudice. Riding from Boston to
Albanya few years agoI found myself in a large carwell
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 whomon reaching the seat next to mecast a disdainful
glance upon itand passed to another carleaving me in the full
enjoyment of a hole form. For a timeI did not know but that my
riding there was prejudicial to the interest of the railroad
company. A circumstance occurredhoweverwhich gave me an
elevated position at once. Among the passengers on this train
was Gov. George N. Briggs. I was not acquainted with himand
had no idea that I was known to himhoweverI wasfor upon
observing methe governor left his placeand making his way
toward merespectfully asked the privilege of a seat by my side;
and upon introducing himselfwe 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 itas he
didon reaching Pittsfieldthere were at least one dozen
applicants for the place. The governor hadwithout changing my
skin a single shademade the place respectable which before was

A similar incident happened to me once on the Boston and New
Bedford railroadand 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 myselfby claiming too much intimacy with
great menI 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 Bostonfor New Bedford
whichwith the exception of a single seat was fulland found I
must occupy thisor stand upduring the journey. Having no
mind to do thisI stepped up to the man having the next seat
and who had a few parcels on the seatand gently asked leave to
take a seat by his side. My fellow-passenger gave me a look made
up of reproach and indignationand asked me why I should come to
that particular seat. I assured himin the gentlest manner
that of all others this was the seat for me. Finding that I was
actually about to sit downhe sang outO! stop, stop! and let
me get out!Suiting the action to the wordup the agitated man
gotand sauntered to the other end of the carand was compelled
to stand for most of the way thereafter. Halfway to New Bedford
or moreCol. Cliffordrecognizing meleft his seatand 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 rankmanifestedin

greeting mesomething of the feeling of an old friend. This
demonstration was not lost on the gentleman whose dignity I had
an hour beforemost 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 somebodyelse I
should not have been thus noticedby a person so distinguished.
Sure enoughafter Col. Clifford left meI found myself
surrounded with friends; and among the numbermy offended friend
stood nearestand with an apology for his rudenesswhich I
could not resistalthough 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-eyedand 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 progressI 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 thatnotwithstanding the ten thousand
discouragements and the powerful hinderanceswhich beset their
existence in this country--notwithstanding the blood-written
history of Africaand her childrenfrom 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 possibleand 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 futureas I
have labored in the pastto promote the moralsocial
religiousand intellectual elevation of the free colored people;
never forgetting my own humble orgin{sic}nor refusingwhile
Heaven lends me abilityto use my voicemy penor my voteto
advocate the great and primary work of the universal and
unconditional emancipation of my entire race.

_Containing Extracts from

_At Finsbury ChapelMoorfieldsEnglandMay 121846_

Mr. Douglass rose amid loud cheersand said: I feel exceedingly
glad of the opportunity now afforded me of presenting the claims
of my brethren in bonds in the United Statesto so many in
London and from various parts of Britainwho have assembled here
on the present occasion. I have nothing to commend me to your
consideration in the way of learningnothing in the way of
educationto 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

influencessuch as can exist nowhere beyond the pale of slavery;
and it will not be strangeif under such circumstancesI should
betrayin what I have to say to youa deficiency of that
refinement which is seldom or ever foundexcept 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 slaveryand that you will not
expect great things from me this eveningbut simply such facts
as I may be able to advance immediately in connection with my own
experience of slavery.

Nowwhat 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 inquirywhat is American slavery? I do
this the more readilysince I have found persons in this country
who have identified the term slavery with that which I think it
is notand in some instancesI have fearedin so doinghave
rather (unwittinglyI know) detracted much from the horror with
which the term slavery is contemplated. It is com

[10] Mr. Douglass' published speeches alonewould fill two
volumes of the size of this. Our space will only permit the
insertion of the extracts which follow; and whichfor
originality of thoughtbeauty and force of expressionand for
impassionedindignatory eloquencehave 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 slaverysays one; to have to work hard is
slaverysays another; and I do not know but that if we should
let them go onthey would say that to eat when we are hungryto
walk when we desire to have exerciseor to minister to our
necessitiesor have necessities at allis 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
commodityin the language of the lawto be bought or sold at
the will and caprice of the master who claims him to be his
property; he is spoken ofthought ofand treated as property.
His own goodhis consciencehis intellecthis affectionsare
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 fedhe is fed because he is
property. If he is clothedit 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
propertyis carefully wrested from himnot only by public
opinionbut 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 propertythe slaveholder declares he
shall not exercise it. The marriage institution cannot exist
among slavesand 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 libertyboasting of
its humanityboasting of its Christianityboasting of its love
of justice and purityand 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 togethermust 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 companionsand prove
themselves honestuprightvirtuous persons to each otheryet
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 readthe law in Louisiana proclaims that she may be
hanged by the neck. If the father attempt to give his son a
knowledge of lettershe may be punished by the whip in one
instanceand in another be killedat 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 thesebut it seems right to speak of them
not so much to influence your minds on this questionas to let
the slaveholders of America know that the curtain which conceals
their crimes is being lifted abroad; that we are opening the dark
celland 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 whippingstheir
scourgingstheir brandingstheir chainingsis not confined to
their plantationsbut that some Negro of theirs has broken loose
from his chains--has burst through the dark incrustation of
slaveryand 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
disposedI have matter enough to interest you on this question
for five or six eveningsbut I will not dwell at length upon
these cruelties. Suffice it to saythat all of the peculiar
modes of torture that were resorted to in the West India islands
are resorted toI believeeven more frequentlyin the United
States of America. Starvationthe bloody whipthe chainthe
gagthe thumb-screwcat-haulingthe cat-o'-nine-tailsthe
dungeonthe blood-houndare 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 pointI would ask him to read the
chapter on slavery in Dickens's _Notes on America_. If any man
has a doubt upon itI 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 feelingsit 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 comesis one of these
states--Marylandwhere menwomenand children are reared for
the marketjust as horsessheepand swine are raised for the
market. Slave-rearing is there looked upon as a legitimate
trade; the law sanctions itpublic opinion upholds itthe
church does not condemn it. It goes on in all its bloody
horrorssustained by the auctioneer's block. If you would see
the cruelties of this systemhear 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 permissionnot by rightof their masterand they had
reared a family. The master found it expedientand for his
interestto 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 blockunder the sound
of the hammer. The cry was raisedHere goes; who bids cash?
Think of it--a man and wife to be sold! The woman was placed on
the auctioneer's block; her limbsas is customarywere brutally
exposed to the purchaserswho 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
beseechinglyimploringlyto 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 hisno work of hiscould 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 himthat he might take a
farewell of his wife; but his way was obstructedhe was struck
over the head with a loaded whipand was held for a moment; but
his agony was too great. When he was let gohe 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. Gatesan anti-slavery gentleman of the state
of New Yorka representative in the congress of the United
Statestold me he saw with his own eyes the following
circumstances. In the national District of Columbiaover which
the star-spangled emblem is constantly wavingwhere orators are
ever holding forth on the subject of American libertyAmerican
democracyAmerican republicanismthere are two slave prisons.
When going across a bridgeleading to one of these prisonshe
saw a young woman run outbare-footed and bare-headedand with
very little clothing on. She was running with all speed to the
bridge he was approaching. His eye was fixed upon herand 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
womana sister--escaping from the bondage in which she had been
held. She made her way to the bridgebut had not reachedere
from the Virginia side there came two slaveholders. As soon as
they saw themher pursuers called outStop her!True to
their Virginian instinctsthey came to the rescue of their
brother kidnappersacross the bridge. The poor girl now saw
that there was no chance for her. It was a trying time. She
knew if she went backshe must be a slave forever--she must be
dragged down to the scenes of pollution which the slaveholders
continually provide for most of the poorsinkingwretched young
womenwhom they call their property. She formed her resolution;
and just as those who were about to take herwere going to put
hands upon herto drag her backshe leaped over the balustrades

of the bridgeand down she went to rise no more. She chose
deathrather 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 testimonysince it is
the calmthe coolthe deliberate enactment of their wisest
headsof their most clear-sightedtheir own constituted
representatives. "If more than seven slaves together are found
in any road without a white persontwenty lashes a piece; for
visiting a plantation without a written passten lashes; for
letting loose a boat from where it is made fastthirty-nine
lashes for the first offense; and for the secondshall have cut
off from his head one ear; for keeping or carrying a club
thirty-nine lashes; for having any article for salewithout a
ticket from his masterten lashes; for traveling in any other
than the most usual and accustomed roadwhen going alone to any
placeforty 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 nuditytied hand and foot to
a stakeand a strong man standing behind with a heavy whip
knotted at the endeach blow cutting into the fleshand leaving
the warm blood dripping to the feet; and for these trifles. "For
being found in another person's negro-quartersforty lashes; for
hunting with dogs in the woodsthirty lashes; for being on
horseback without the written permission of his mastertwentyfive
lashes; for riding or going abroad in the nightor riding
horses in the day timewithout leavea slave may be whipped
croppedor branded in the cheek with the letter R. or otherwise
punishedsuch punishment not extending to lifeor so as to
render him unfit for labor." The laws referred tomay be found
by consulting _Brevard's Digest; Haywood's Manual; Virginia
Revised Code; Prince's Digest; Missouri Laws; Mississippi Revised
Code_. A manfor going to visit his brethrenwithout the
permission of his master--and in many instances he may not have
that permission; his masterfrom caprice or other reasonsmay
not be willing to allow it--may be caught on his waydragged to
a postthe branding-iron heatedand the name of his master or
the letter R branded into his cheek or on his forehead. They
treat slaves thuson the principle that they must punish for
light offensesin 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 crimeswhich
when committed by a white manwill subject him to that
punishment. There are many of these crimes which if the white
man did not commithe would be regarded as a scoundrel and a
coward. In the state of Marylandthere is a law to this effect:
that if a slave shall strike his masterhe may be hangedhis
head severed from his bodyhis body quarteredand his head and
quarters set up in the most prominent places in the neighborhood.
If a colored womanin the defense of her own virtuein defense
of her own personshould shield herself from the brutal attacks
of her tyrannical masteror make the slightest resistanceshe
may be killed on the spot. No law whatever will bring the guilty
man to justice for the crime.

But you will ask mecan these things be possible in a land
professing Christianity? Yesthey 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 statesat this timeis the great supporterthe
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 forgottenuncared forbut is
trampled under foot by the very churches of the land. What have
we in America? Whywe have slavery made part of the religion of
the land. Yesthe 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
foremostthe strongest defenders of this "institution." As a
proof of thisI 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 yearsand there has not been
any war between the _religion_ and the _slavery_ of the south.
Whipschainsgagsand thumb-screws have all lain under the
droppings of the sanctuaryand instead of rusting from off the
limbs of the bondmanthose droppings have served to preserve
them in all their strength. Instead of preaching the gospel
against this tyrannyrebukeand wrongministers of religion
have soughtby all and every meansto throw in the back-ground
whatever in the bible could be construed into opposition to
slaveryand to bring forward that which they could torture into
its support. This I conceive to be the darkest feature of
slaveryand the most difficult to attackbecause it is
identified with religionand exposes those who denounce it to
the charge of infidelity. Yesthose with whom I have been
laboringnamelythe old <325>organization anti-slavery society
of Americahave been again and again stigmatized as infidels
and for what reason? Whysolely in consequence of the
faithfulness of their attacks upon the slaveholding religion of
the southern statesand the northern religion that sympathizes
with it. I have found it difficult to speak on this matter
without persons coming forward and sayingDouglass, 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 againeven since I came to this
countrybut I cannot be induced to leave off these exposures. I
love the religion of our blessed Savior. I love that religion
that comes from abovein the "wisdom of Godwhich is first
purethen peaceablegentleand easy to be entreatedfull of
mercy and good fruitswithout 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 principleof 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
yourselfit saysgrant it to your neighbors. If you claim a
right to think for yourselfit saysallow your neighbors the
same right. If you claim to act for yourselfit saysallow
your neighbors the same right. It is because I love this
religion that I hate the slaveholdingthe woman-whippingthe
mind-darkeningthe soul-destroying religion that exists in the
southern states of America. It is because I regard the one as
goodand pureand holythat I cannot but regard the other as

badcorruptand wicked. Loving the one I must hate the other;
holding to the one I must reject the other.

I may be askedwhy 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 isfirstthat slavery is the common enemy of
mankindand all mankind should be made acquainted with its
abominable character. My next answer isthat the slave is a
manandas suchis entitled to your sympathy as a brother.
All the feelingsall the susceptibilitiesall the capacities
which you havehe has. He is a part of the human family. He
has been the prey--the common prey--of Christendom for the last
three hundred yearsand it is but rightit is but justit is
but properthat his wrongs should be known throughout the world.
I have another reason for bringing this matter before the British
publicand it is this: slavery is a system of wrongso blinding
to all aroundso hardening to the heartso corrupting to the
moralsso deleterious to religionso <326>sapping to all the
principles of justice in its immediate vicinitythat the
community surrounding it lack the moral stamina necessary to its
removal. It is a system of such gigantic evilso strongso
overwhelming in its powerthat no one nation is equal to its
removal. It requires the humanity of Christianitythe morality
of the world to remove it. HenceI call upon the people of
Britain to look at this matterand to exert the influence I am
about to show they possessfor the removal of slavery from
America. I can appeal to themas strongly by their regard for
the slaveholder as for the slaveto labor in this cause. I am
herebecause 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 daysso that
the denunciations against slaveryuttered in London this week
may be heard in a fortnight in the streets of Bostonand
reverberating amidst the hills of Massachusetts. There is
nothing said here against slavery that will not be recorded in
the United States. I am herealsobecause 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 Napoleonnever to occupy
ground which the enemy would like me to occupy. The slaveholders
would much rather have meif I will denounce slaverydenounce
it in the northern stateswhere their friends and supporters
arewho will stand by and mob me for denouncing it. They feel
something as the man feltwhen he uttered his prayerin which
he made out a most horrible case for himselfand one of his
neighbors touched him and saidMy friend, I always had the
opinion of you that you have now expressed for yourself--that you
are a very great sinner.Coming from himselfit was all very
wellbut coming from a stranger it was rather cutting. The
slaveholders felt that when slavery was denounced among
themselvesit was not so bad; but let one of the slaves get
looselet him summon the people of Britainand make known to
them the conduct of the slaveholders toward their slavesand it
cuts them to the quickand 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 Statescomes teeming with
statements about this fugitive Negrocalling 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 freeand in the sanctuary
of freedomI will never return till I have seen the emancipation
of my country completed." He wants to surround these menthe
slaveholdersas by a wall of fire; and he himself may do much
toward kindling it. Let him travel over the island--eastwest
northand south--everywhere diffusing knowledge and awakening
principletill the whole nation become a body of petitioners to
America. He willhe mustdo 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. Wetoomust do something for him and them worthy of the
English name. I do not like the idea of a man of such mental
dimensionssuch moral courageand all but incomparable talent
having his own small wantsand the wants of a distant wife and
childrensupplied by the poor profits of his publicationthe
sketch of his life. Let the pamphlet be bought by tens of
thousands. But we will do something more for himshall we not?

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

_To My Old MasterThomas Auld_

SIR--The long and intimatethough by no means friendlyrelation
which unhappily subsisted between you and myselfleads 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 minein any
other way than in an advertisementaccurately describing my
personand offering a large sum for my arrest. In thus dragging
you again before the publicI am aware that I shall subject
myself to no inconsiderable amount of censure. I shall probably
be charged with an unwarrantableif 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 conventionalthan they do
for rights which are personal and essential. Not a few there are
in our countrywhowhile 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 caseand
wishing to meet every reasonable or plausible objection to my
conductI will frankly state the ground upon which I justfy{sic}
myself in this instanceas well as on former occasions when I
have thought proper to mention your name in public. All will
agree that a man guilty of theftrobberyor murderhas
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 retirementand
aim to conceal themselves and their movements from the popular
gazethe public have a right to ferret them outand 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 principlesand will easily see the light in
which you are regarded by me; I will not therefore manifest ill
temperby calling you hard names. I know you to be a man of
some intelligenceand 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 ambiguousand yet
be quite well understood by yourself.

I have selected this day on which to address youbecause it is
the anniversary of my emancipation; and knowing no better wayI
am led to this as the best mode of celebrating that truly
important events. Just ten years ago this beautiful September
morningyon bright sun beheld me a slave--a poor degraded
chattel--trembling at the sound of your voicelamenting that I
was a manand wishing myself a brute. The hopes which I had
treasured up for weeks of a safe and successful escape from your
graspwere powerfully confronted at this last hour by dark
clouds of doubt and fearmaking 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 themwere stoutly against
the undertaking. The preliminaries and precautions I had adopted
previouslyall worked badly. I was like one going to war
without weapons--ten chances of defeat to one of victory. One in
whom I had confidedand one who had promised me assistance
appalled by fear at the trial hourdeserted methus leaving the
responsibility of success or failure solely with myself. You
sircan never know my feelings. As I look back to themI can
scarcely realize that I have passed through a scene so trying.
Tryinghoweveras they wereand gloomy as was the prospect
thanks be to the Most Highwho is ever the God of the oppressed
at the moment which was to determine my whole earthly careerHis
grace was sufficient; my mind was made up. I embraced the golden
opportunitytook the morning tide at the floodand a free man
youngactiveand strongis 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 nowfor by this time you may have
discovered them yourself. I willhoweverglance at them. When
yet but a child about six years oldI imbibed the determination
to run away. The very first mental <332>effort that I now
remember on my partwas an attempt to solve the mystery--why am
I a slave? and with this question my youthful mind was troubled
for many dayspressing upon me more heavily at times than
others. When I saw the slave-driver whip a slave-womancut the
blood out of her neckand heard her piteous criesI went away
into the corner of the fencewept and pondered over the mystery.
I hadthrough some mediumI know not whatgot some idea of
Godthe Creator of all mankindthe black and the whiteand
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 theorywhich made God responsible for
slaveryfor it pained me greatlyand I have wept over it long
and often. At one timeyour first wifeMrs. Lucretiaheard me
sighing and saw me shedding tearsand 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 kitchenI heard some of the
old slaves talking of their parents having been stolen from
Africa by white menand were sold here as slaves. The whole
mystery was solved at once. Very soon after thismy Aunt Jinny
and Uncle Noah ran awayand the great noise made about it by
your father-in-lawmade me for the first time acquainted with
the factthat there were free states as well as slave states.
From that timeI 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 personsequal persons. What
you areI am. You are a manand so am I. God created both
and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bond to youor
you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me
or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legsor
you upon mine. I cannot breathe for youor you for me; I must
breathe for myselfand you for yourself. We are distinct
personsand are each equally provided with faculties necessary
to our individual existence. In leaving youI took nothing but
what belonged to meand in no way lessened your means for
obtaining an _honest_ living. Your faculties remained yoursand
mine became useful to their rightful owner. I therefore see no
wrong in any part of the transaction. It is trueI went off
secretly; but that was more your fault than mine. Had I let you

into the secretyou would have defeated the enterprise entirely;
but for thisI 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 sayI greatly prefer it to that which I occupied in
Maryland. I amhoweverby no means prejudiced against the
state as such. Its geographyclimatefertilityand products
are such as to make it a very <333>desirable abode for any man;
and but for the existence of slavery thereit is not impossible
that I might again take up my abode in that state. It is not
that I love Maryland lessbut 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
souththey would flock to the north. So far from this being the
casein that eventyou would see many old and familiar faces
back again to the south. The fact isthere are few here who
would not return to the south in the event of emancipation. We
want to live in the land of our birthand 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 youI 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 youI spent as a common laborer on the
wharves of New BedfordMassachusetts. 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 itwithout asking any odds of
anybody. That was a precious dollar to me. You remember when I
used to make sevenor eightor even nine dollars a week in
Baltimoreyou would take every cent of it from me every Saturday
nightsaying that I belonged to youand my earnings also. I
never liked this conduct on your part--to say the bestI 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 phipfor
fourpence; and at one time a man actually charged me with being a
runawaywhereupon I was silly enough to become one by running
away from himfor I was greatly afraid he might adopt measures
to get me again into slaverya condition I then dreaded more
than death.

I soon learnedhoweverto count moneyas well as to make it
and got on swimmingly. I married soon after leaving you; in
factI was engaged to be married before I left you; and instead
of finding my companion a burdenshe was truly a helpmate. She
went to live at serviceand I to work on the wharfand though
we toiled hard the first winterwe never lived more happily.
After remaining in New Bedford for three yearsI met with
William Lloyd Garrisona person of whom you have _possibly_
heardas he is pretty generally known among slaveholders. He
put it into my head that I might make myself serviceable to the
cause of the slaveby devoting a portion of my time to telling
my own sorrowsand those of other slaveswhich 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 pureenlightenedand benevolentthat the
country affords. Among these I have never forgotten youbut
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 honestyand 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 referredbefore the light of its excellence exerted
a beneficial influence on my mind and heart. Much of my early
dislike of white persons was removedand their mannershabits
and customsso entirely unlike what I had been used to in the
kitchen-quarters on the plantations of the southfairly charmed
meand 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 deportmentas 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 conditionis truly a difficult matter. I would not
have you think that I am now entirely clear of all plantation
peculiaritiesbut my friends herewhile they entertain the
strongest dislike to themregard me with that charity to which
my past life somewhat entitles meso that my condition in this
respect is exceedingly pleasant. So far as my domestic affairs
are concernedI can boast of as comfortable a dwelling as your
own. I have an industrious and neat companionand four dear
children--the oldest a girl of nine yearsand three fine boys
the oldest eightthe next sixand the youngest four years old.
The three oldest are now going regularly to school--two can read
and writeand the other can spellwith tolerable correctness
words of two syllables. Dear fellows! they are all in
comfortable bedsand are sound asleepperfectly secure under my
own roof. There are no slaveholders here to rend my heart by
snatching them from my armsor blast a mother's dearest hopes by
tearing them from her bosom. These dear children are ours--not
to work up into ricesugarand tobaccobut to watch over
regardand protectand to rear them up in the nurture and
admonition of the gospel--to train them up in the paths of wisdom
and virtueandas far as we canto make them useful to the
world and to themselves. Oh! sira slaveholder never appears to
me so completely an agent of hellas 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 happinessbut thoughts and feel<335>ings which
this recital has quickenedunfit 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 chainthe gagthe 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 childrenand 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 backinflicted by your direction; and that youwhile we were
brothers in the same churchcaused this right handwith which I
am now penning this letterto be closely tied to my leftand my
person draggedat the pistol's mouthfifteen milesfrom the
Bay Side to Eastonto be sold like a beast in the marketfor
the alleged crime of intending to escape from your possession.
All thisand moreyou rememberand know to be perfectly true
not only of yourselfbut of nearly all of the slaveholders
around you.

At this momentyou are probably the guilty holder of at least
three of my own dear sistersand my only brotherin bondage.
These you regard as your property. They are recorded on your
ledgeror perhaps have been sold to human flesh-mongerswith a

view to filling our own ever-hungry purse. SirI 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 grandmotherwhom 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
aliveshe is of no service to youfor 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 Rochesteror
bring her to Philadelphiaand 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 fatherso 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 themand learn all I want to know
of themwithout disturbing you in any waybut thatthrough
your unrighteous conductthey 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 crueltycommitted in this respect on your fellowcreatures
are greater than all the stripes you have laid upon my
back or theirs. It is an outrage upon the soula war upon the
immortal spiritand 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
awfuland how you could stagger under it these many years is
marvelous. Your mind must have become darkenedyour heart
hardenedyour conscience seared and petrifiedor you would have
long since thrown off the accursed loadand sought relief at the
hands of a sin-forgiving God. Howlet me askwould you look
upon mewere Isome dark nightin company with a band of
hardened villainsto enter the precincts of your elegant
dwellingand seize the person of your own lovely daughter
Amandaand carry her off from your familyfriendsand 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 scantilyand whip her
on the naked back occasionally; moreand still more horrible
leave her unprotected--a degraded victim to the brutal lust of
fiendish overseerswho would polluteblightand blast her fair
soul--rob her of all dignity--destroy her virtueand annihilate
in her person all the graces that adorn the character of virtuous
womanhood? I askhow would you regard meif such were my
conduct? Oh! the vocabulary of the damned would not afford a
word sufficiently infernal to express your idea of my Godprovoking
wickedness. Yetsiryour 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 partit
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 systemand
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 nationwith yourselfto repentance. In

doing thisI entertain no malice toward you personally. There
is no roof under which you would be more safe than mineand
there is nothing in my house which you might need for your
comfortwhich I would not readily grant. IndeedI should
esteem it a privilege to set you an example as to how mankind
ought to treat each other.

_I am your fellow-manbut not your slave_.

_Extract from a Lecture on Slaveryat Rochester
December 11850_

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-bondmenand sharing with them all the
painful conditions of their wretched lot. In consideration of
these factsI feel that I have a right to speakand to speak
_strongly_. Yetmy friendsI 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 beenand still arethe 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 allI will stateas well as I canthe 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 himflog himhire him outsell him
andin certain contingencies_kill_ himwith perfect impunity.
The slave is a human beingdivested 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 namewhich the "recording angel" may have enrolled in
heavenamong the blestis impiously inserted in a _master's
ledger_with horsessheepand swine. In lawthe slave has no
wifeno childrenno countryand no home. He can own nothing
possess nothingacquire nothingbut what must belong to
another. To <338>eat the fruit of his own toilto clothe his
person with the work of his own handsis 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 lashthat 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 colddamp 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
behaviorthe slaveholder relies on the whip; to induce proper
humilityhe relies on the whip; to rebuke what he is pleased to
term insolencehe relies on the whip; to supply the place of
wages as an incentive to toilhe relies on the whip; to bind
down the spirit of the slaveto imbrute and destroy his manhood
he relies on the whipthe chainthe gagthe thumb-screwthe
pillorythe bowie knife the pistoland the blood-hound. These
are the necessary and unvarying accompaniments of the system.
Wherever slavery is foundthese horrid instruments are also
found. Whether on the coast of Africaamong the savage tribes
or in South Carolinaamong the refined and civilizedslavery is
the sameand its accompaniments one and the same. It makes no
difference whether the slaveholder worships the God of the
Christiansor is a follower of Mahomethe is the minister of
the same crueltyand the author of the same misery. _Slavery_
is always _slavery;_ always the same foulhaggardand damning
scourgewhether 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 oceancompared with the
stupendous wrongs which it inflicts upon the mentalmoraland
religious nature of its hapless victims. It is only when we
contemplate the slave as a moral and intellectual beingthat 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 manthe image of God,but "a little lower than
the angels;" possessing a souleternal and indestructible;
capable of endless happinessor immeasurable woe; a creature of
hopes and fearsof affections and passionsof joys and sorrows
and he is endowed with those mysterious powers by which man soars
above the things of time and senseand graspswith undying
tenacitythe 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 Makerit hides from him the laws of
Godand leaves him to grope his way from time to eternity in the
darkunder the arbitrary and despotic control of a frail
depravedand 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 impunityso the slaveholder
must strike down the conscience of the slave before he can obtain
the entire mastery over his victim.

It isthenthe first business of the enslaver of men to blunt
deadenand destroy the central principle of human
responsibility. Conscience isto the individual souland to
societywhat 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 otherlike 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 factthat in every state of the
American Unionwhere slavery existsexcept the state of
Kentuckythere are laws absolutely prohibitory of education
among the slaves. The crime of teaching a slave to read is
punishable with severe fines and imprisonmentandin some
instanceswith _death itself_.

Nor are the laws respecting this matter a dead letter. Cases may
occur in which they are disregardedand a few instances may be
found where slaves may have learned to read; but such are
isolated casesand 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 ruinedand 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 readI 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 philosophyand to
the literal fulfillment of this prophecy.

It is perfectly well understood at the souththat to educate a
slave is to make him discontened{sic} with slaveryand 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 slavehis constant vigilance is
exercised to prevent everything which militates againstor
endangersthe stability of his authority. Education being among
the menacing influencesandperhapsthe most dangerousis
thereforethe most cautiously guarded against.

It is true that we do not often hear of the enforcement of the
lawpunishing as a crime the teaching of slaves to readbut
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 isperhapsanother 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 slaverymany
martyrs will be found sacrificing their liberty and lives by
violating those prohibitory enactments.

As a general rulethendarkness reigns over the abodes of the
enslavedand "how great is that darkness!"

We are sometimes told of the contentment of the slavesand 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 finethat they have little
of which to complain. I admit that the slave does sometimes
singdanceand appear to be merry. But what does this prove?
It only proves to my mindthat though slavery is armed with a
thousand stingsit is not able entirely to kill the elastic
spirit of the bondman. That spirit will rise and walk abroad
despite of whips and chainsand extract from the cup of nature
occasional drops of joy and gladness. No thanks to the

slaveholdernor to slaverythat 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 saidby 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 bondmanmakes 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 ragsbut he is not a slave.
He is still the master of his own bodyand can say with the
poetThe 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 parliamentI 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 countrybut he has
liberty at home. He can writeand speakand 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 pressthat
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 Liffeytheir reform
clubsand their newspapers; they pass resolutionssend forth
addressesand 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 bewere our souls in his
soul's stead.

If there were no other fact descriptive of slaverythan that the
slave is dumbthis alone would be sufficient to mark the slave
system as a grand aggregation of human horrors.

Most who are presentwill 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 quietthey have produced alarm;
instead of peacethey have brought us war; and so it must ever

While this nation is guilty of the enslavement of three millions
of innocent men and womenit is as idle to think of having a
sound and lasting peaceas 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 condemnationor this guilty republic can
have a soundenduring peace.


_Extract from A Lecture on Slaveryat Rochester
December 81850_

The relation of master and slave has been called patriarchaland
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 accountin partfor the lack of
interest which we find among persons whom we are bound to believe
to be honest and humane. Whatthenare 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
evidencebecause it cannot be invalidated nor denied. I hold in
my hand sundry extracts from the slave codes of our countryfrom
which I will quote. * * *

Nowif 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 necessaryto insure
obedienceat timesto avail themselves of the utmost extent of
the lawand many go beyond it. If kindness were the rulewe
should not see advertisements filling the columns of almost every
southern newspaperoffering large rewards for fugitive slaves
and describing them as being branded with ironsloaded with
chainsand scarred by the whip. One of the most telling
testimonies against the pretended kindness of slaveholdersis
the fact that uncounted numbers of fugitives are now inhabiting
the Dismal Swamppreferring <344>the untamed wilderness to their
cultivated homes--choosing rather to encounter hunger and thirst
and to roam with the wild beasts of the forestrunning the
hazard of being hunted and shot downthan to submit to the
authority of _kind_ masters.

I tell youmy friendshumanity is never driven to such an
unnatural course of lifewithout great wrong. The slave finds
more of the milk of human kindness in the bosom of the savage
Indianthan 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 trialhowever bitteror
deathhowever terribleto 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 isthat 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 conferenceIf 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 powerby which to secure obedience to his ordersand
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 manwithout brutal
chastisement and enormous cruelty.

To talk of _kindness_ entering into a relation in which one party
is robbed of wifeof childrenof his hard earningsof homeof
friendsof societyof knowledgeand of all that makes this
life desirableis most absurdwickedand preposterous.

I have shown that slavery is wicked--wickedin that it violates
the great law of libertywritten on every human heart--wicked
in that it violates the first command of the decalogue--wicked
in that it fosters the most disgusting licentiousness--wickedin
that it mars and defaces <345>the image of God by cruel and
barbarous inflictions--wickedin that it contravenes the laws of
eternal justiceand 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 lakeapproaching
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 Yorkand which still more recently disgraced the city of
Boston. These violent demonstrationsthese outrageous invasions
of human rightsfaintly indicate the presence and power of
slavery here. It is a significant factthat while meetings for
almost any purpose under heaven may be held unmolested in the
city of Bostonthat in the same citya meeting cannot be
peaceably held for the purpose of preaching the doctrine of the
American Declaration of Independencethat all men are created
equal.The pestiferous breath of slavery taints the whole moral
atmosphere of the northand enervates the moral energies of the
whole people.

The moment a foreigner ventures upon our soiland utters a
natural repugnance to oppressionthat moment he is made to feel
that there is little sympathy in this land for him. If he were
greeted with smiles beforehe 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 slaverythe assaults of a

Nowwill 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 tyrannyand it is only
when the human mind has become familiarized with slaveryis
accustomed to its injusticeand corrupted by its selfishness
that it fails to record its abhorrence of slaveryand does not
exult in the triumphs of liberty.

The northern people have been long connected with slavery; they
have been linked to a decaying corpsewhich has destroyed the
moral health. The union of the government; the union of the
north and southin the political parties; the union in the
religious organizations of the landhave all served to deaden
the moral sense of the northern peopleand 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 factand ought to rally all
that is purejustand holy in one determined effort to crush
the monster of corruptionand to scatter "its guilty profits" to
the winds. In a high moral senseas well as in a national
sensethe whole American people are responsible for slaveryand
must sharein its guilt and shamewith the most obdurate menstealers
of the south.

While slavery existsand 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 crowdas 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 Mediterraneanthe
beautiful American war ship Ohiowith her masts tapering
proportionately aloftand an eastern sun reflecting her noble
form upon the sparkling watersattracting the gaze of the
multitudemy first impulse was of prideto think myself an
American; but when I thought that the first time that gallant
ship would gird on her gorgeous appareland wake from beneath
her sides her dormant thundersit would be in defense of the
African slave tradeI 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 nameand the
only national reproach which need make an American hang his head
in shamein the presence of monarchical governments.

With this gigantic evil in the landwe are constantly told to
look _at home;_ if we say ought against crowned headswe are
pointed to our enslaved millions; if we talk of sending
missionaries and bibles abroadwe 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 brethrenwe are

pointed to that horrible and hell-black enactmentthe fugitive
slave bill.

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

We have heard much of late of the virtue of patriotismthe love
of country&c.and this sentimentso natural and so strong
has been impiously appealed toby all the powers of human
selfishnessto cherish the viper which is stinging our national
life away. In its namewe have been called upon to deepen our
infamy before the worldto rivet the fetter more firmly on the
limbs of the enslavedand to become utterly insensible to the
voice of human woe that is wafted to us on every southern gale.
We have been called uponin its nameto desecrate our whole
land by the footprints of slave-huntersand even to engage
ourselves in the horrible business of kidnapping.

Itoowould invoke the spirit of patriotism; not in a narrow
and restricted sensebutI trustwith a broad and manly
signification; not to cover up our national sinsbut to inspire
us with sincere repentance; not to hide our shame from the
the{sic} world's gazebut utterly to abolish the cause of that
shame; not to explain away our gross inconsistencies as a nation
but to remove the hatefuljarringand incongruous elements from
the land; not to sustain an egregious wrongbut to unite all our
energies in the grand effort to remedy that wrong.

I would invoke the spirit of patriotismin the name of the law
of the living Godnatural and revealedand in the full belief
that "righteousness exalteth a nationwhile sin is a reproach to
any people." "He that walketh righteouslyand speaketh
uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressionsthat
shaketh his hands from the holding of bribeshe shall dwell on
highhis place of defense shall be the munitions of rocksbread
shall be given himhis water shall be sure."

We have not only heard much lately of patriotismand of its aid
being invoked on the side of slavery and injusticebut the very
prosperity of this people has been called in to deafen them to
the voice of dutyand 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 patriotismI warn the American peopleby all
that is just and honorableto BEWARE!

I warn them thatstrongproudand 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 landand the sable bondmen now in
chainsmay become the instruments of our nation's chastisement!
Without appealing to any higher feelingI would warn the
American peopleand the American govern<348>mentto 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 nowconfirms
its wisdomand commends its truth.


_Extract from an Orationat RochesterJuly 51852_

Fellow-Citizens--Pardon meand allow me to askwhy am I called
upon to speak here to-day? What have Ior those I representto
do with your national independence? Are the great principles of
political freedom and of natural justiceembodied in that
Declaration of Independenceextended to us? and am Itherefore
called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar
and to confess the benefitsand express devout gratitude for the
blessingsresulting from your independence to us?

Would to Godboth for your sakes and oursthat an affirmative
answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then
would my task be lightand 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 gratitudethat would
not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so
stolid and selfishthat would not give his voice to swell the
hallelujahs of a nation's jubileewhen the chains of servitude
had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like
thatthe dumb might eloquently speakand the "lame man leap as
an hart."

Butsuch 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 rejoiceare not enjoyed in common. The rich
inheritance of justicelibertyprosperityand independence
bequeathed by your fathersis shared by younot by me. The
sunlight that brought life and healing to youhas brought
stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is _yours_not
mine. You may rejoiceI must mourn. To drag a man in fetters
into the grand illuminated <350>temple of libertyand call upon
him to join you in joyous anthemswere inhuman mockery and
sacrilegious irony. Do you meancitizensto mock meby asking
me to speak to-day? If sothere is a parallel to your conduct.
And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a
nation whose crimestowering up to heavenwere thrown down by
the breath of the Almightyburying 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-citizensabove your nationaltumultous joyI hear the
mournful wail of millionswhose chainsheavy and grievous
yesterdayare to-day rendered more intolerable by the jubilant
shouts that reach them. If I do forgetif I do not faithfully
remember those bleeding children of sorrow this daymay my
right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the
roof of my mouth!To forget themto pass lightly over their
wrongsand to chime in with the popular themewould be treason
most scandalous and shockingand would make me a reproach before
God and the world. My subjectthenfellow-citizensis
AMERICAN SLAVERY. I shall see this day and its popular
characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there
identified with the American bondmanmaking his wrongs mineI
do not hesitate to declarewith all my soulthat 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
pastor to the professions of the presentthe conduct of the
nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to
the pastfalse to the presentand solemnly binds herself to be
false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and
bleeding slave on this occasionI willin the name of humanity
which is outragedin the name of liberty which is fetteredin
the name of the constitution and the biblewhich are disregarded
and trampled upondare to call in question and to denouncewith
all the emphasis I can commandeverything 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 manwhose judgment is not blinded by prejudiceor who is
not at heart a slaveholdershall not confess to be right and

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience sayit is just in
this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to
make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue
moreand denounce lesswould you persuade more and rebuke less
your cause would be much more likely to succeed. ButI 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
Virginiawhichif 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 moralintellectualand responsible being. The
manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact
that southern statute books are covered with enactments

forbiddingunder severe fines and penaltiesthe teaching of the
slave to read or write. When you can point to any such lawsin
reference to the beasts of the fieldthen I may consent to argue
the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streetswhen
the fowls of the airwhen the cattle on your hillswhen the
fish of the seaand the reptiles that crawlshall be unable to
distinguish the slave from a brutethen will I argue with you
that the slave is a man!

For the presentit is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the
Negro race. Is it not astonishing thatwhile we are plowing
plantingand reapingusing all kinds of mechanical tools
erecting housesconstructing bridgesbuilding shipsworking in
metals of brassironcoppersilverand gold; thatwhile we
are readingwritingand cypheringacting as clerksmerchants
and secretarieshaving among us lawyersdoctorsministers
poetsauthorseditorsoratorsand teachers; thatwhile we
are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men-digging
gold in Californiacapturing the whale in the Pacific
feeding sheep and cattle on the hillsidelivingmovingacting
thinkingplanningliving in families as husbandswivesand
childrenandabove allconfessing and worshiping the
Christian's Godand 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 argumentationas a matter beset with great
difficultyinvolving a doubtful application of the principle of
justicehard to be understood? How should I look to-day in the
presence of Americansdividing and subdividing a discourseto
show that men have a natural right to freedomspeaking of it
relatively and positivelynegatively and affirmatively? To do
sowould be to make myself ridiculousand 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 brutesto rob
them of their libertyto work them without wagesto keep them
ignorant of their relations to their fellow-mento beat them
with sticksto flay their flesh with the lashto load their
limbs with ironsto hunt them with dogsto sell them at
auctionto sunder their familiesto knock out their teethto
burn their fleshto starve them into obedience and submission to
their masters? Must I argue that a systemthus marked with
blood and stained with pollutionis wrong? No; I will not. I
have better employment for my time and strength than such
arguments would imply.

Whatthenremains 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 canmay! I cannot. The time for such
argument is past.

At a time like thisscorching ironynot convincing argumentis
needed. Oh! had I the abilityand could I reach the nation's
earI would to-day pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule
blasting reproachwithering sarcasmand stern rebuke. For it
is not light that is neededbut fire; it is not the gentle
showerbut thunder. We need the stormthe whirlwindand 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 answera
day that reveals to himmore than all other days in the year
the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant
victim. To himyour celebration is a sham; your boasted
libertyan unholy license; your national greatnessswelling
vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your
denunciations of tyrantsbrass-fronted impudence; your shouts of
liberty and equalityhollow mockery; your prayers and hymns
your sermons and thanksgivingswith all your religious parade
and solemnity<353>are to him mere bombastfrauddeception
impietyand 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 bloodythan are the
people of these United Statesat this very hour.

Go where you maysearch where you willroam through all the
monarchies and despotisms of the old worldtravel through South
Americasearch out every abuseand when you have found the
lastlay your facts by the side of the every-day practices of
this nationand you will say with methatfor revolting
barbarity and shameless hypocrisyAmerica reigns without a


_Extract from an Orationat RochesterJuly 51852_

Take the American slave tradewhichwe 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 isprobablycalled so
tooin 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 wordsfrom the high places of the nationas an
execrable traffic. To arrest itto put an end to itthis
nation keeps a squadronat immense coston the coast of Africa.
Everywhere in this countryit is safe to speak of this foreign
slave trade as a most inhuman trafficopposed 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 itsome of these last have consented that their colored
brethren (nominally free) should leave this countryand
establish themselves on the western coast of Africa. It is
howevera notable factthatwhile so much execration is poured
out by Americansupon those engaged in the foreign slave trade
the men engaged in the slave trade between the states pass
without condemnationand 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 countryand crowd the <355>highways of the
nation with droves of human stock. You will see one of these
human-flesh-jobbersarmed with pistolwhipand bowie-knife
driving a company of a hundred menwomenand childrenfrom the
Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched
people are to be sold singlyor in lotsto suit purchasers.
They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill.
Mark the sad procession as it moves wearily alongand the
inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his
blood-chilling oathsas he hurries on his affrighted captives.
Theresee the old manwith locks thinned and gray. Cast one
glanceif you pleaseupon that young motherwhose shoulders
are bare to the scorching sunher briny tears falling on the
brow of the babe in her arms. Seetoothat girl of thirteen
weepingyesweepingas 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 clankand 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 deepsad sobs that arose from that
scattered multitude. Tell mecitizenswhereunder the sun
can you witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this
is but a glance at the American slave tradeas it exists at this
momentin 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 childmy soul was often
pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot street
Fell's PointBaltimoreand have watched from the wharves the
slave ships in the basinanchored from the shorewith their
cargoes of human fleshwaiting for favorable winds to waft them
down the Chesapeake. There wasat that timea grand slave mart
kept at the head of Pratt streetby Austin Woldfolk. His agents
were sent into every town and county in Marylandannouncing
their arrival through the papersand on flaming hand-bills
headedcash for negroes.These men were generally well
dressedand very captivating in their manners; ever ready to
drinkto treatand 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 dozensand drive
themchainedto the general depot at Baltimore. When a
sufficient number have been collected herea ship is chartered
for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile or to New
Orleans. From the slave-prison to the shipthey are usually
driven in the darkness of night; for since the anti-slavery
agitation a certain caution is observed.

In the deepstill darkness of midnightI have been often
aroused by the deadheavy 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 consoledwhen speaking to my
mistress in the morningto hear her say that the custom was very
wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chainsand the
heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with
me in my horror.

Fellow citizensthis murderous traffic is to-day in active
operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my
spiritI see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the south;
I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered
humanityon the way to the slave marketswhere the victims are
to be sold like horsessheepand swineknocked off to the
highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly
brokento gratify the lustcapriceand 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 inhumandisgracefuland scandalous state of
things remains to be presented. By an act of the American
congressnot yet two years oldslavery has been nationalized in
its most horrible and revolting form. By that actMason and
Dixon's line has been obliterated; New York has become as
Virginia; and the power to holdhuntand sell menwomenand
children as slavesremains 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 gomay also go the merciless slavehunter.
Where these areman is not sacred. He is a bird for
the sportsman's gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human
decreesthe 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 robbersenemies of societymerely
but for men guilty of no crime. Your law-makers have commanded
all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your
presidentyour secretary of stateyour lordsnoblesand
ecclesiasticsenforce as a duty you owe to your free and
glorious country and to your Godthat you do this accursed
thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have within the past two
years been hunted downand without a moment's warninghurried
away in chainsand 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 preystands superior to the right of marriage
and to _all_ rights in this republicthe rights of God included!
For black men there are neither lawjusticehumanitynor
religion. The fugitive slave law makes MERCY TO THEM A CRIME;
and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge GETS TEN
he fails to do so. The oath of an{sic} two villains is
sufficientunder this hell-black enactmentto 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 worldthatin tyrant-killingking
hatingpeople-lovingdemocraticChristian Americathe seats
of justice are filled with judgeswho hold their office under an

open and palpable _bribe_and are boundin deciding in the case
of a man's liberty_to hear only his accusers!_

In glaring violation of justicein shameless disregard of the
forms of administering lawin cunning arrangement to entrap the
defenselessand in diabolical intentthis 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 matterand
feels able to disprove my statementsI will gladly confront him
at any suitable time and place he may select.


_Extract from a Speech Delivered before the A. A. S. Societyin
New YorkMay1853_

Sirit 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
nameand 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 partysirhas determined upon a fixed
definiteand comprehensive policy toward the whole colored
population of the United States. What that policy isit becomes
us as abolitionistsand especially does it become the colored
people themselvesto consider and to understand fully. We ought
to know who our enemies arewhere they areand what are their
objects and measures. Wellsirhere 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.

Sirthese 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
magnitudethese issues cast all others into the shadedepriving
them of all life and vitality. Old party ties are broken. Like
is finding its like on either side of these great issuesand the
great battle is at hand. For the presentthe 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 wasbefore his electionthat his whole life had
been consistent with the interests of slaverythat he is above
reproach on that score. In his inaugural addresshe reassures
the south on this point. Wellthe head of the slave power being
in powerit is natural that the pro slavery elements should
cluster around the administrationand 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 silvergray
whig shakes hands with the hunker democrat; the former only
differing from the latter in name. They are of one heartone
mindand 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 democracyand when spurned from the feast
by the more deservingit pockets the insult; when kicked on one
side it turns the otherand preseveres in its importunities.
The fact isthat 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 countryand
it goes to its own side. Silver grays and hunkers all understand
this. They arethereforerapidly sinking all other questions
to nothingcompared with the increasing demands of slavery.
They are collectingarrangingand 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 Statesis the compromise of 1850. In that
compromise we have all the objects of our slaveholding policy
specified. It issirfavorable to this view of the designs of
the slave powerthat both the whig and the democratic party bent
lowersunk deeperand strained harderin their conventions
preparatory to the late presidential electionto 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 speechand upon conscienceand
to drive the Almighty presence from the councils of the nation.
Resting their platforms upon the fugitive slave billthey boldly
asked the people for political power to execute the horrible and
hell-black provisions of that bill. The history of that election
revealswith great clearnessthe 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 humanitytriumphed; while the party suspected of a
leaning toward libertywas overwhelmingly defeatedsome say

But here is a still more important factillustrating the designs
of the slave power. It is a fact full of meaningthat no sooner
did the democratic slavery party come into powerthan a system
of legislation was presented to the legislatures of the northern
statesdesigned to put the states in harmony with the fugitive
slave lawand the malignant bearing of the national government
toward the colored inhabitants of the country. This whole
movement on the part of the statesbears the evidence of having
one originemanating from one headand urged forward by one
power. It was simultaneousuniformand generaland 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 wordit was intended to
discouragedisheartenand drive the free colored people out of
the country. In looking at the recent black law of Illinoisone
is struck dumb with its enormity. It would seem that the men who
enacted that lawhad not only banished from their minds all
sense of justicebut 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 themto increase their literary

While this is going on in the statesa pro-slaverypolitical
board of health is established at Washington. Senators Hale
Chaseand Sumner are robbed of a part of their senatorial
dignity and consequence as representing sovereign statesbecause
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; andin
saying to these honorable senatorsyou shall not serve on the
committees of this bodythe 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. Sirit 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 lostthat the great principle of senatorial
equality was left undefendedat 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 congressand charges of recreancy
should never be made but on the most sufficient grounds. Forof
all the places in the world where an anti-slavery man needs the
confidence and encouragement of friendsI 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
peoplewarm-heartedgenerousand sympathizing with the
oppressed everywherewhen they stand upon their own green
islandare instantly taughton arriving in this Christian
countryto 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 Irishthat our adversity is essential
to their prosperity. Sirthe 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 livelihoodare graduallyand 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-servantscooks
and stewardscommon laborersand flunkeys to our gentryand
for aught I seethey adjust themselves to their stations with
all becoming obsequiousness. This fact proves that if we cannot
rise to the whitesthe whites can fall to us. Nowsirlook
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 downlike wild gameand 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 lifeand 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.

Governmentstate and nationalis 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.
Evidentlythis 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 Godto the wicked." Suppose it were
possible to put down this discussionwhat would it avail the
guilty slaveholderpillowed 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 periodicalpaperbookpamphletor what
notwere searched outgathereddeliberately burned to ashes
and their ashes given to the four winds of heavenstillstill
the slaveholder could have _"no peace_." In every pulsation of
his heartin every throb of his lifein every glance of his
eyein the breeze that soothesand in the thunder that
startleswould be waked up an accuserwhose cause isThou
art, verily, guilty concerning thy brother.


_Extracts from a Lecture before Various Anti-Slavery Bodiesin
the Winter of 1855_

A grand movement on the part of mankindin any directionor for
any purposemoral or politicalis an interesting factfit and
proper to be studied. It is suchnot only for those who eagerly
participate in itbut 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 oneand a movement as sublime and
glorious in its characteras it is holy and beneficent in the
ends it aims to accomplish. At this momentI deem it safe to

sayit 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 deeplythough not as honestlyas Gerrit Smithor
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 mentalmoraland
religious constitution of human society. Daniel Webstertooin
the better days of his lifebefore he gave his assent to the
fugitive slave billand 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 eloquencewarned the southand the countryto
have a care how they attempted to put it down. He is an
illustration that it is easier to givethan to takegood
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 triumphantand 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 interestvastly more so should it
be such to freedom's friends. The latterit leads to the gates
of all valuable knowledge--philanthropicethicaland religious;
for it brings them to the study of manwonderfully and fearfully
made--the proper study of man through all time--the open bookin
which are the records of time and eternity.
Of the existence and power of the anti-slavery movementas a
factyou need no evidence. The nation has seen its faceand
felt the controlling pressure of its hand. You have seen it
moving in all directionsand in all weathersand in all places
appearing most where desired leastand pressing hardest where
most resisted. No place is exempt. The quiet prayer meeting
and the stormy halls of national debateshare its presence
alike. It is a common intruderand of course has the name of
being ungentlemanly. Brethren who had long sungin the most
affectionate fervorand with the greatest sense of security

_Together let us sweetly live--together let us die_

have been suddenly and violently separated by itand ranged in
hostile attitude toward each other. The Methodistone of the
most powerful religious organizations of this countryhas been
rent asunderand its strongest bolts of denominational
brotherhood started at a single surge. It has changed the tone
of the northern pulpitand modified that of the press. A
celebrated divinewhofour years agowas for flinging his own
motheror brotherinto the remorseless jaws of the monster
slaverylest he should swallow up the Unionnow 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 itwhether they will or not. Come
from where he mayor come for what he mayhe is compelled to
show his hand. What is this mighty force? What is its history?
and what is its destiny? Is it ancient or moderntransient or
permanent? Has it turned asidelike 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 mightfor instanceproceed to inquire not
only into the philosophy of the anti-slavery movementbut into
the philosophy of the lawin obedience to which that movement
started into existence. We might demand to know what is that law
or powerwhichat different timesdisposes the minds of men to
this or that particular object--now for peaceand now for war-now
for free<365>domand now for slavery; but this profound
question I leave to the abolitionists of the superior class to
answer. The speculations which must precede such answerwould
affordperhapsabout the same satisfaction as the learned
theories which have rained down upon the worldfrom time to
timeas to the origin of evil. I shallthereforeavoid water
in which I cannot swimand deal with anti-slavery as a fact
like any other fact in the history of mankindcapable of being
described and understoodboth as to its internal forcesand its
external phases and relations.

[After an eloquenta fulland highly interesting exposition of
the naturecharacterand history of the anti-slavery movement
from the insertion of which want of space precludes ushe
concluded in the following happy manner.]

Present organizations may perishbut the cause will go on. That
cause has a lifedistinct and independent of the organizations
patched up from time to time to carry it forward. Looked at
apart from the bones and sinews and bodyit is a thing immortal.
It is the very essence of justicelibertyand love. The moral
life of human societyit cannot die while consciencehonorand
humanity remain. If but one be filled with itthe cause lives.
Its incarnation in any one individual manleaves the whole world
a priesthoodoccupying the highest moral eminence even that of
disinterested benevolence. Whoso has ascended his heightand
has the grace to stand therehas the world at his feetand is
the world's teacheras of divine right. He may set in judgment
on the ageupon the civilization of the ageand upon the
religion of the age; for he has a testa sure and certain test
by which to try all institutionsand to measure all men. I say
he may do thisbut 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 Peacehe may sayif I judgeI
judge righteous judgment; still mainlylike himhe may say
this is not his work. The man who has thoroughly embraced the
principles of justiceloveand libertylike the true preacher
of Christianityis less anxious to reproach the world of its
sinsthan to win it to repentance. His great work on earth is
to exemplifyand to illustrateand 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
yearsmany or few his adherentspowerful or weak his
instrumentalitiesthrough good reportor through bad report
this is his work. It is to snatch from the bosom of nature the
latent facts of each individual man's experienceand with steady
hand to hold them up fresh and glowingenforeingwith all his
powertheir acknowledgment and practical adoption. If there be
but _one_ <366>such man in the landno matter what becomes of
abolition societies and partiesthere will be an anti-slavery
causeand an anti-slavery movement. Fortunately for that cause
and fortunately for him by whom it is espousedit requires no
extraordinary amount of talent to preach it or to receive it when
preached. The grand secret of its power isthat each of its
principles is easily rendered appreciable to the faculty of
reason in manand 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 fishermenand raise
them to power. In every human breastit has an advocate which
can be silent only when the heart is dead. It comes home to
every man's understandingand appeals directly to every man's
conscience. A man that does not recognize and approve for
himself the rights and privileges contended forin behalf of the
American slavehas not yet been found. In whatever else men may
differthey are alike in the apprehension of their natural and
personal rights. The difference between abolitionists and those
by whom they are opposedis not as to principles. All are
agreed in respect to these. The manner of applying them is the
point of difference.

The slaveholder himselfthe daily robber of his equal brother
discourses eloquently as to the excellency of justiceand 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 justicethe anti-abolitionist
assents saysyesI 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 meanslet us have justice. Every time the
abolitionist speaks in honor of human libertyhe touches a chord
in the heart of the anti-abolitionistwhich responds in
harmonious vibrations. Liberty--yesthat is evidently my right
and let him beware who attempts to invade or abridge that right.
Every time he speaks of loveof human brotherhoodand the
reciprocal duties of man and manthe anti-abolitionist assents-says
yesall right--all true--we cannot have such ideas too
oftenor too fully expressed. So he saysand so he feelsand
only shows thereby that he is a man as well as an antiabolitionist.
You have only to keep out of sight the manner of
applying your principlesto get them endorsed every time.
Contemplating himselfhe 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 lawyerbut he is
dumb when asked to plead the cause of others. He knows very well
whatsoever he would have done unto himselfbut is quite in doubt
as to having the <367>same thing done unto others. It is just
herethat lions spring up in the path of dutyand the battle
once fought in heaven is refought on the earth. So it isso
hath it ever beenand so must it ever bewhen the claims of
justice and mercy make their demand at the door of human
selfishness. Neverthelessthere is that within which ever
pleads for the right and the just.

In conclusionI have taken a sober view of the present antislavery
movement. I am soberbut not hopeless. There is no
denyingfor it is everywhere admittedthat 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 omnipotentto be snuffed out by the
contingencies of infancy. A thousand strong men might be struck
downand 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 Mississippimingled as they are
with bloodcould extinguish. The present will be looked to by
after coming generationsas 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 nowit will not be from outward oppositionbut from
inward decay. Its auxiliaries are everywhere. Scholars
authorsoratorspoetsand statesmen give it their aid. The
most brilliant of American poets volunteer in its service.
Whittier speaks in burning verse to more than thirty thousandin
the National Era. Your own Longfellow whispersin every hour of
trial and disappointmentlabor and wait.James Russell Lowell
is reminding us that "men are more than institutions." Pierpont
cheers the heart of the pilgrim in search of libertyby singing
the praises of "the north star." Bryanttoois with us; and
though chained to the car of partyand dragged on amidst a whirl
of <368>political excitementhe 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 themthat we have
allies in the Ethiopian songs; those songs that constitute our
national musicand without which we have no national music.
They are heart songsand 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 thousandand put
ten thousand to flight." It isthereforeupon the goodness of
our causemore than upon all other auxiliariesthat we depend
for its final triumph.

Another source of congratulations is the fact thatamid all the
efforts made by the churchthe governmentand the people at
largeto stay the onward progress of this movmentits course
has been onwardsteadystraightunshakenand unchecked from
the beginning. Slavery has gained victories large and numerous;
but never as against this movement--against a temporizing policy
and against northern timiditythe slave power has been

victorious; but against the spread and prevalence in the country
of a spirit of resistance to its aggressionand of sentiments
favorable to its entire overthrowit has yet accomplished
nothing. Every measureyet devised and executedhaving for its
object the suppression <369>of anti-slaveryhas 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 measuresand were afterward
termed by both the great parties of the countryas well as by
leading statesmena final settlement of the whole question of
slavery; but experience has laughed to scorn the wisdom of proslavery
statesmen; and their final settlement of agitation seems
to be the final revivalon a broader and grander scale than ever
beforeof 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
slavein hunting him down in a free stateand tearing him away
from wife and childrenthus 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 slaverybut
by attempting to make them parties to the crime. It has called
into exercise among the colored peoplethe hunted onesa 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 rightswhen the victims of
oppression stand up manfully for themselves.

There is another element of power added to the anti-slavery
movementof great importance; it is the convictionbecoming
every day more general and universalthat slavery must be
abolished at the southor 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
factconnected with the system of bondageis beginning to be
more fully realized. The slave-holder is not satisfied to
associate with men in the church or in the stateunless he can
thereby stain them with the blood of his slaves. To be a slaveholder
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
presenceto make war on slavery. The heart of pitywhich would
melt in due time over the brutal chastisements it sees inflicted
on the helplessmust be hardened. And this work goes on every
day in the yearand 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 askedhave 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. Givegivewill be its crytill the
timidity which concedes shall give place to couragewhich shall
resist. Such is the voice of experiencesuch has been the past
such is the presentand such will be that futurewhichso sure
as man is manwill come. Here I leave the subject; and I leave
off where I beganconsoling 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 agesand summoned its advocates from all ranks. Its
foundations are laid in the deepest and holiest convictionsand
from whatever soul the demonselfishnessis expelledthere

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 poweragainst all hinderancesand against all delays
and despite all the mutations of human instrumentalitiesit is
the faith of my soulthat this anti-slavery cause will triumph.

[The end]