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(title page) An Autobiography. Bond and Free: or, Yearnings for Freedom, from My Green Brier House. Being the Story of My Life in Bondage, and My Life in Freedom
(cover) Bond and Free
vi, -320 p., ill.
C. E. P. BRINCKLOE & CO., PRINTERS.
Call number 326.9C188Y (McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University)
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
Yours Very Truly,
Elder I. Campbell.
[Title Page Image]
[Title Page Verso Image]
DEAR READER, I ask your attention to the contents of a book, that you may see and understand what the title-page intends to convey to your mind when it says, "Bond and Free." It is not my theoretical views upon any system or institution,--not a panegyric upon the advantages of freedom, or a denunciation of those who hold human beings in bondage. God, in His good Providence, would not permit such to be, without some great design was intended, nor does He sanction such as either lawful or right.
I was born a slave, saw both the bright and the gloomy sides of the institution, suffered its bitter sorrows and enjoyed its enervating pleasures. Something better, however, was intended for me; and, although I was doomed to drink of the bitter waters of Marah, and to pass through the dark valley of its desolation, I have been allowed to come into the promised land, and to enjoy the milk and honey with which it abounds.
But my mission is not yet finished. Three of my children are yet in the land, treading the wine-press and making bricks without straw. And as time rolls on, I see the oppressor's rod becoming heavier, and the shackles becoming tighter and tighter around them, and my heart yearns for them, and my prayers are often and earnest for their liberation.
Many ways have suggested themselves to my mind by which they might become free; but my mind revolts at any course that may not be considered right, and of which my conscience does not approve.
To go to their homes, and, under the plea of filial affection, instil into their minds a hatred of their masters, a disaffection to their homes and labor might be approved by many. But is it right? Would God approve of such hypocrisy in one whose mission is to preach peace and truth and submission to the powers that be. Besides, few know the danger, the suffering, or the peril of such a course until they have passed through its experiences. And I pray that my friends will never advise or urge such a plan while a better one remains open, and one which I think God has pointed out as the only just way.
Again, I might, by hard labor in some mechanical occupation, gain, after many years, enough to buy their freedom; but I have chosen the better part, and am endeavoring to free men, to the best of my poor ability, from the thraldom of sin and misery; and should I have preferred the former plan, their hairs might become gray while I was trying, and I would gain but three bodies from earthly bondage, while I may be instrumental, through God's blessing and your aid, of doing the same and rescuing many from the bondage of Satan. Which would you have me to do?
Or, again, I might traverse the land, and beg from charity and sympathy's purse the means by which they could be liberated; but methinks it would be given coldly, if not grudgingly, to so uncertain an object, and, in many
instances, be denied altogether from a want of appreciation of my cause.
All such thoughts and plans as these have occurred to my mind; but a voice within has said, not my will, "A higher and better way I point thee to;" and I have answered, "Thy servant prayeth, What wilt Thou have me to do, Lord?"
And then came the thought, convincing, while it was consoling, "You have passed through the sea. You have trodden the wine-press, and you have enjoyed the promised land. Fiction has painted its scenes, interested parties have told their story, and partial observers have undertaken to give their opinions to the world. Cannot you, from experience, tell a tale which will place the truth uppermost, and enable both friends and the public to judge impartially of the great question of the age?"
And I answered, "With Thy help, O Lord."
This, then, gives the reason for the appearance of my little work, in which I have endeavored to present three reasons why I may ask for patronage and encouragement.
Firstly. I have written nothing but what I have witnessed or experienced, which, as my life was an uncommonly varied one, presents both the horrors and advantages of slavery, shows the bitter trials and yearnings of the slave, and the almost total neglect of their mental and moral training, leaving them without God in the world. I have not painted the scenes with fancy; for I consider the naked truth more powerful than fiction. I have not given my views or opinions of slavery; for, as I have before said, I may be biased, and do not think myself capable of judging on such a great question. Let facts speak for themselves.
Secondly. I have children yet in the land of bondage, who, had I the means, I can purchase from their masters at a reasonable price. To this end I expect to devote the proceeds of the sale of this book; by which I consider that I am not only gaining their liberty, but am placing before the world the truest picture of the South and its institutions,--both the dark and the bright side.
And Thirdly, I wish here to show what, under God's blessing and proper training, I believe, in a few years, the majority of the slaves may attain in mental and moral growth and understanding. I do not wish to be my own trumpeter, but hope my book will be read; and while so doing, remember it is the record of one who has been in the very lowest places of slavery and in the most cheering ones of freedom, and then judge what may be the result.
Hoping that I have not tired you in this my humble statement of my case, and that I may have your kind approval of my course, I leave the following pages to tell their own story.
I am, very respectfully,
In Christian fellowship and love,
ISRAEL CAMPBELL.CANADA WEST,
HAPPY, ye sons of busy life,
Who equal to the bustling strife,
No other view regard.
Even when the wished ends deny'd,
Yet while the busy measure ply'd
They bring their own reward:
Whilst I, a hope-abandoned wight,
Unfitted with an aim,
Meet ev'ry sad returning night
And joyless morn the same.
IN the State of Old Kentucky, and in Greenville County, my eyes first opened to the light. My mother lived in the family of Captain John Russell, who was well-known as a leading light of the Presbyterian Church in that county, and who was truly, I believe, a devoted Christian, as he always tried to do what he thought right, and his memory will ever remain honored by his slaves and those with whom he was accustomed to associate.
His wife, however, who was devoid of all feeling
or principle, gave the Captain no little cause of trouble, and made his life rather a burden than a pleasure. She was of all women the most unprincipled. She would swear, rant and beat the slaves as if they were brutes, and could never be pleased by any one--not only the slaves but her husband would feel the weight of her wrath if he dared to interpose a word in behalf of the slave, or remonstrate with her about her wickedness. From morning until night could her voice be heard swearing, bawling and screaming at some of the hands; and, with whip in hand, she would traverse the field, and if she thought any of the hands were not working as hard as they should, would pounce suddenly upon them, and appease her wrath by applying the lash. Should her husband interpose, she would lay it on him, until he was glad to get beyond her reach.
The reason of her having such bitter feelings was said to have been caused by a disappointment in her marraige--she thinking the Captain was wealthy, and being of a wealthy family herself was disappointed in finding him only in comfortable circumstances, and appeared to make his life as miserable as she possibly could. He was, however, of a respectable family, and a distant relative of Henry Clay, and held a very high social position in Greenville County. But all this could not reconcile her to her disappointment.
In her treatment of the slave children was her disposition still further unmasked. She fed them
like so many pigs, and her presence was to them like a hawk flying over a hen with a young brood. She delighted to be considered a "bully"--fearing neither man nor spirit. I must say, that in all my experience in life, that never have I met such a strange combination of the wicked in any human being, and often have I conjectured in my own mind as to what purpose she really could have been sent upon the earth. But as all the ways of Providence are inscrutible to the finite, so have I left the revelation of her purpose until the last day, when all things shall be revealed.
Never shall I forget her, although I had hardly become conscious of existence before she died, and well do I remember that event. The rejoicing that then occurred was such as is seldom indulged in among slaves. The thought of being freed from her tyrranny seemed to thrill every heart, and although they did not really understand the full meaning of death, the idea of being free from her lash and eye, seemed to possess every one, and while her spirit was passing to the undiscovered country, they were dancing and rejoicing over the result. The only good they really wished her was that God would have mercy on her and pardon her great wickedness.
THAT night a child might understand,
The deil had business on his hands.
OLD mistress died as she had lived--raving, swearing and screaming, nor would she listen even in her last moments to consolation or direct her mind to the great event which was fast approaching, and in which she was to be the principal actor. But the dreaded and last enemy spares not the strong, and as the day passed away her spirit took its flight.
But, it appeared as if their hopes were to be disappointed, for even after her body was cold, and laid beneath the green sod, did her spirit continue to "walk the earth," and haunt the old stumping ground,* * It is a common belief among the slaves in the south and among many others, that the spirits of those who are unhappy in the other world, still continue to visit the earth until the cause of their trouble is removed.
giving master no peace, and following the slaves as was her practice when alive.
* It is a common belief among the slaves in the south and among many others, that the spirits of those who are unhappy in the other world, still continue to visit the earth until the cause of their trouble is removed.
So convinced was master that such was the fact, that he could rest neither night nor day, and at last concluded to sell his farm and go away. But still did old mistress haunt the place and contend that the farm belonged to her. At last the man that bought it tried to persude master to buy it back
again. But master had had too much trouble there to go back so easily, and refused to have any thing to do with it. Such was the termination of mistress's visits to that place, at least as far as was known, as all the slaves were then removed, and from such I derived my information.
I was, at the time of moving, about four years old, but my memory has always been very good, and I remember many circumstances which then took place. In removing we were no little troubled by being caught in a heavy shower, which completely drenched us, and as we had no protection, we were huddled in an open wagon and a few old clothes thrown over us.
The place to which we removed was on the Ohio river, in Union County, near Morganfield the County Town. Here master purchased a new place and it was not long before he took to himself a help-meet. The lady he chose was a kind and affectionate mistress, always looking after and considering the wants of her slaves. Master seemed in her to have been rewarded for all the misery he had suffered with his first wife, for never did man and wife live more happily together than they. Truly did the slaves feel the change, and never did any one try to repay by faithfulness Christian solicitude than did old master's hands. There was no need either of hard and severe treatment or the lash.
Mistress Sallie, for such was her name, was of the Methodist persuasion, and a truly devoted
Christian. After master's marriage all things changed. Where carelessness and disorder prevailed, she established order and system. Where religion was never thought of, she taught us all that we should pray to the Great Being who made us, and that we were poor miserable sinners, with the wrath of God abiding on us; that he had sent his dear Son upon this earth, who had suffered and died to save us from the punishment hereafter, to which we were doomed. She established family prayer, and at night all the slaves were called upon to participate in the devotion--master reading the Bible and Miss Sallie singing a hymn and praying. We then had enough to eat and to wear, and every thing was as prosperous as we could wish for, and master had nothing of which to complain, either with the work or his other affairs. God surely worked there.
But like all human hopes this course of affairs could not last long. Disappointment seems to be the direst enemy of our human nature, and we could expect no exception.
We had now passed over three of the happiest years we had ever known, and really began to think this world a better place than we had ever imagined it. But now our happiness and hopes were to be blasted.
From some unknown cause master was taken very sick; every day he grew worse. The Doctor was summoned, but seemed to give him but little relief. At length he gave up all hopes of
life, and had all his slaves called to his bedside He told them he was dying; this he did not dread, for all must die; but it weighed heavily on his mind when he thought how his poor slaves would be scattered after he was gone, and which he was now powerless to prevent; urging and advising them to try and do their duty, and God would take care of and help them. I stood by his bedside and saw him breathe his last breath, and never shall I forget the beautiful smile which remained on his countenance after his body was cold.
The day and even week after he died was one of universal mourning. The thought that master was gone forever, brought tears from the stoutest heart, for they well knew they had lost their best friend.
All his slaves followed his remains to the grave and dropped a tear to his memory. It was on this occasion that I received the first money I ever possessed, which I got for holding the horse of old master's nephew--a four pence half-penny.
BUT me, not destined such delights to share,
My prime of life in wandering spent and care;
Impelled, with steps unceasing, to pursue
Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view.
A CHANGE was now to take place. Hitherto my life had been passed in old master's family, and the last three or four years had made me forget the hard treatment of his first wife. I was now about nine years old.
The estate was appraised, and mistress allowed to continue on until the first of the year. On New Year's day we went to the auctioneer's block, to be hired to the highest bidder for one year. This scattered my old associates far and wide, casting each among strangers, and perhaps hard masters.
I was sold to one Ezekiel Edwards, a Tanner, for ten dollars. He owned no slaves but hired all his help--so I ground tan for that year.
Mr. Edwards was not married, but boarded with a widow lady in Morganfield, Mrs. Kate Thornton, more familiarly known as Aunt Katy, who, after my day's work was over, I used to wait on and run her errands, which in a very short time made me a great favorite with her. She had many
strange ways, and had a peculiar mode of getting along cheaply, an instance of which is the following:--
Every morning she would tell me to get the pitcher and go for some cream for her coffee.
"Where must I go, Mistress Katy?"
"Go to Mrs. Townsend, and tell her I wish some cream for my coffee."
So off I would go, and Mrs. Townsend would give her some cream. This continued until Mrs. Townsend became tired of giving her cream, and sent her what we called blue John. Then Aunt Katy raved and scolded, and said:--
"What did you bring this stuff for, you d--l?"
"Mrs. Townsend gave it to me, madam," I replied.
"You bring any more blue John here, and I will blue John you, you rascal."
"Well, Mistress Katy, what must I do?"
"Tell her I want cream, and if she has not got it go somewhere else."
So the next morning Aunt Katy said, "Israel, get the cream pitcher and get some cream for breakfast."
"Where must I go, Mistress Katy?"
"Ask me where to go. Do you not know who has cows?"
Off I went to every person who had a cow, until I succeeded in getting the cream; so by the time I left Aunt Katy's I knew every person who owned a cow in Morganfield. But never did Aunt
Katy pay for any cream.
Another of her plans for living cheaply was--On Sundays many of the boys (slaves) came to town to sell their produce, (a privilege which many masters allowed) which they had raised in their little plots of ground, by working overtime.
Aunt Katy was ever on the alert to find a stranger, who, should she espy one, she would always accost--
"Good morning, my man servant!"
"Pleasant day, mistress," he would reply.
"What have you to sell to-day, my man?"
"Some brooms, foot-mats, eggs, bread-trays, madam," or whatever he might have.
"They are the very things I want."
"Well, Mistress, I want to sell them."
"Then come in, my man, come in."
Then she would buy whatever she would want, and then put the following questions:
"How far do you live from here my man?"
"Four or five miles, mistress," or whatever the distance might be.
"Can you not call in next Sunday, I have just spent every cent I had; but I will have plenty by that time. Mr. Willett will be here and pay you, if I do not."
Off goes the boy, thinking that he has made an excellent bargain.
The next Sunday soon rolls around, and the boy presents himself to Aunt Katy for pay. Summoning her to the door, he would address her,
"Good morning, mistress."
"Good morning, my man, and what do you wish this morning?"
"I called, mistress, for the little change you owe me."
"The change for the things you bought last Sunday," mistress."
"Be off from here, you rascal, I never saw you before."
"Oh, yes, mistress; do you not remember you bought some brooms, and eggs, &c., last Sunday?"
"Get out of yard this minute, or I will have Mr. Willett after you, you saucy d--l."
So the poor fellow would have to leave without a cent for his things.
This Mr. Willett was an old boarder of Aunt Katy's, and always attended to whatever she wished, so that she thought there was nobody living like Squire Willett.
But a year or so after I had been there, Squire Willett took a notion to take to himself a wife. This almost broke Aunt Katy's heart. She raved and went almost mad, she cried, groaned and moaned, to think that she was losing all the support she had in life.
Soon, however, another boarder took his place, which soothed her feelings, and she often remarked that although she had lost squire Willett she had gained a Bell, who was a most liberal provider, and things soon went their usual way.
In the fall, however, Mr. Edwards took to himself a wife, and then he took me to live at home with him; the other hands still boarded at Aunt Katy's.
An incident occurred about this time which so impressed my mind with the terror of being sold to the South, that I believe I should have rather died than that such should have been my fate. There was a colored man and his wife living at this time on the opposite of the road, where I was grinding bark. She heard that her master had sold her to a slave dealer. The thoughts of being parted from her husband made her grieve so hard that it unstrung her mind, and she cut her throat with a razor. Such is the terror among all the more intelligent slaves of going South (meaning Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, etc.) that they had rather suffer death.
On Christmas-Eve my time was up, all the hired slaves being allowed, by custom, to a week of holidays. Mr. Edwards thought, because I was boy, that I might stay with him until New Year's day.
But I was not willing to this, and as he wished to compel me, on Christmas-Eve night I took flight, and went to my mother. I remained with her until New Year's day. I had never been with her so long since I could remember, as I was taken from her when a babe, and had never had an opportunity of spending my holidays with her since.
Shook their white heads o'er me and said,
Of such materials wretched men were made.
ANOTHER New Year had come, and again we were to be put on the auctioneer's block, to be hired to the highest bidder for another year. One by one they went, until my turn came, and I was bid off to a Mr. John Wing, of Morganfield, a merchant--an Englishman by birth. I did not remain with him long, as the executors had settled up old master's estate, and all the slaves had either to be sold or divided among the heirs. The division was performed as follows:--The names of five were put down on strips of paper, and then drawn like a lottery. The man who owned my uncle and mother put them in with the others, thinking that he would lose the old ones and get some of the young ones.
My brother Washington was a smart and very sprightly young man, and was wanted by several. The man who owned my mother said he was determined to have him, but his brother-in-law was equally as anxious; however, when the tickets were drawn, it so proved that neither of them
had drawn him, but he was drawn by master's youngest child, a young lady, then about my age. The man who had owned my mother again drew my uncle, Aunt Fanny, an old woman about the same age as my mother, myself and sister. But, as his wife was so taken with my mother, they hired her from her owner. This brought my mother and sister and myself together.
Mr. Lucius Devaull was our new master's name. He was a prominent member of the M. E. Church, class-leader, a good singer and good hand to pray; but, should he get angry, would give vent to his temper by oaths, always asking forgiveness the moment his anger subsided. I was very well pleased with this home, as I was with my sister and mother. My work was to nurse a little child and wait on mistress. On Saturdays I had to clean the candle-sticks, which was the cause at this time of a little incident, and was my first experience in running away:--Every night at this time I had to lay beside the cradle and rock the baby, and would sometimes fall asleep and let the baby cry, for which mistress would whip me. One night, being very tired, I determined if she whipped me I would run away. The Saturday following this resolution I was as usual put to cleaning the candle-sticks, which, when I presented them for inspection, were not as well cleaned as she wished them, and told me to clean them again, and if I did not make them shine as I ought, she would whip me. I thought to myself, I you whip me to-day I will
run away; but I went again to clean the candle-sticks. After cleaning them as well as I could, I again presented them to her for inspection, but they did not please her, and she said, "Put them down, sir, and hand me that switch from behind the bureau." She then gave me the promised whipping, after which she said, "Now go and try it again."
I took up the candle-sticks and went to the kitchen, and sit them down, and went over to one of the neighbors about two miles away. There I staid all night, and the next morning, about nine o'clock, I was sitting on the fence thinking what I should do, on looking up who should I see but my master and his brother coming along the road. They espied me before I noticed them, but I took across the field as hard as I could run, and they after me. When they came to the fence, as master's brother could run the fastest, master held the horses while he went after me. After a long race, however, he caught me, and master carried me home. He then wanted to know why I ran away, and if old Aunt Fanny told me to? I told him no sir; but he did not believe me, and commenced whipping me; when I saw he was determined to make me say Aunt Fanny persuaded me, I acknowledged she did. He then stopped whipping me, and commenced at poor old Aunt Fanny, who did not know what could be the matter, but bore it patiently. Then he was satisfied, and said he hoped it was a lesson I would not soon forget, and
that I was growing just like my Uncle Anderson, who would always run away every chance he got.
But the candle-sticks were not cleaned any better that time.
In that country Sunday is a great day for sports. The slaves would all get together and wrestle and box and play, and pass a jovial day, and we all passed the time very pleasantly.
THERE's a bliss beyond all the poet has told,
When two, that are linked in one heavenly tie,
With heart never changing, and brow never cold,
Love on through all ills, and love till they die. * * * * * * *
All that stood dark and drear before the eye.
ANOTHER Christmas rolled upwards, and my mother took again a partner for the second time. There was quite a lively time at the wedding, many of her friends being assembled, and after supper a sermon was preached by a Baptist minister by the name of Sebolt, from the text, "Wherefore laying aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings, as new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.--1 PETER ii. 1, 2.
Such is the common custom among pious persons, always endeavoring to sanctify their lives, by giving God the glory. My mother was a very pious woman, and the man she married was a preacher of the Baptist persuasion. Prayer was my mother's great delight, and three times a day, as did Daniel's of old, her prayers ascended to heaven for mercy, deliverance and protection.
About this time I was twelve year's old and was getting along as happily as could be expected. But disappointment must come. One day master told me that he was going to sell me before long. I afterwards found out that old master Russell was very much in debt, and that each one of the heirs had to pay a portion of the amount, and that as I was the youngest, mine was going to part with me for that purpose. This grieved me very much to think of being parted from mother again, and I thought that the Lord would prevent my being sold, so I chose the old wheat yard, and prayed earnestly every day that the Lord would not let my master sell me; pleading that if I was sold my mother would be bereft of her only help, and that I would try and be a good boy. But the Lord had other ends, which I was not able to comprehend.
One morning my master told me to catch two of the horses, Kate and Dragon, and put the saddles on them. He then told me to get on Kate while he bestrode Dragon, and off we rode, without any word as to where we were going or on what mission. As we passed the cattle-pen my mother was milking the cows, and comprehending that I was going to be sold, came to me and bade me good-bye, urging me to be good boy; not to be saucy to any one, to be honest and trustworthy, and, if she never saw me again in this world, to meet her in heaven. Master sit on his horse impatiently while mother was talking, but never said a word either as consolation or information as to where I was I going.
We rode about six miles without halting; we then stopped for breakfast. Here master met some of his friends, who, knowing his purpose, told him where he could get the money for me. After breakfast all the party again mounted their horses and rode into Livinton County, and as night was approaching, halted before a large house and halloed, not liking to alight before they were sure they would be hospitably received. In a few minutes out came an old man in his shirt sleeves, as I then thought, looking more like a slave than an owner or master of such a fine looking place.
They told him their mission, and that they did not wish to go further that night. He invited them to alight, had our horses taken care of, and we went to partake of supper. While we were all talking together in the kitchen, the house girl came in for me, and said they wanted to see me in the house. I followed her, and found myself in the presence of the man and his wife. After looking at me some minutes, feeling my flesh to see that I was strong and solid, he asked me how I would like them for master and mistress. I answered politely, "I don't know, sir." The lady said "We are going to buy you from your master in the morning." Then the girl led me back to the kitchen, and I thought to myself, I wish you were both dead.
After I became more familiarized with the boys I asked them what kind of master and mistress they were? One of them said the old man was
the very devil, "and if they buy you, you will wish they were dead in less than a week."
"Why, you all look very well," I replied.
"Yes, but they whip like the d--l, and do not give us half enough to eat; well, if we did not get any more than they give us, we would not be able to work at all.
"Then, how do you get it," I asked.
"Oh, if they buy you, you'll soon find out how we get it."
We then retired for the night, some to sleep, but I to ponder over my future.
The next morning they ordered their horses to be caught and saddled, and all master's party, with the landlord, rode off to Princeton, telling me to stay there until they returned.
When master Lucius had settled all his business and was ready to return home, he came to me and said, "Israel, I have sold you to this gentleman, and you must try and be a good boy, and if you do not, he will have to make you good; after handing me a Pistareen he rode off, leaving me behind, but carrying away instead three hundred and fifty dollars--unequal exchange, thought I, bringing me on a horse and taking away my value in his pocket.
ABOUT the joys and pleasures of this world
This question was not seldom in debate.
THE next Monday morning I went to work for my new master. Having eaten breakfast very early, and not having much of it, about eight o'clock my appetite began to sharpen, and I asked the hands where I could get any thing to eat.
They answered, "You work on, you will get nothing to eat here till ten o'clock."
Although I was very hungry I worked steadily until the horn blew for dinner. We then had ash-cake and buttermilk, without any meat, given us to eat; we felt the want of meat very much as it was necessary to keep up strength when working in the hot sun all day. We had nothing more then until night, when we came in from work; then we had ash-cake and pot liquor, with a very little piece of meat. This was our fare every day from our master.
Having been accustomed to have enough to eat and wear, this kind of treatment was more than I was willing to bear. The next morning, when we all started out to work, I took the public road and started back to my mother, thinking master Lucius would repent of selling me to such a hard
man and buy me back; and that Mr. Crookesty would be so tired of me as to be glad to get clear of me, seeing I was likely to give him considerable trouble.
I went about seven miles before I stopped, and was very tired and hungry, when I discovered on the road a Blacksmith shop and a white man at the door. My first thought was to get out of his sight by going through the woods, but hunger prevailed, and I went up to the shop and spoke to him. He asked me whose slave I was, where I was going and several questions about my mission. Thinking he would befriend me, I told him my story, and that I was going back to my old home, expecting my master would buy me back again.
He soon perceived that I had run away and invited me in the shop to rest and get something to eat. I was not there long, when in came Mr. Crookesty. I then knew it was all over with my getting home at that time. After remunerating Mr. Simpson for stopping me, he drove off home.
When we reached home the first one to greet me was his wife, who commenced scolding and ranting; asking me if I did not think myself a pretty fellow, etc., and advising Mr. Crookesty to put me in the garden to work, and put the children to watch me. So I worked for the next two days in the garden, with the children watching me by day and the slaves by night. The third day I was again put in the field to work, but at night, as we were going home, I got into the road and
started off towards master Lucius, again. I got about eight miles from home before any one noticed me. At this time I came up to a house that stood on the road, where the owner, with another man, was sitting conversing outside the door. Fearing they would see me I jumped into the cotton-field; but the man saw me, it being moonlight, and hailed me, and told me to come to him. He asked me my name, where I was from, and where I was going. I told him my story. He then asked me if I was not hungry, telling me to go into the kitchen and the girls would give me something to eat. I done as I was told, and they soon gave me a good supper--such an one as I had not had for many a day, and for which I was truly grateful. While I was enjoying my meal who should walk in but old master Crookesty, with a rope in his hand.
"Well, is this you, Israel?"
"Yes sir," I replied.
He then tied the rope around my neck, and led me from the table, leaving all the nice supper behind. He led me out in the yard, and seated himself in front of the other gentlemen, holding me by the rope. There I stood, like a prisoner at the bar, with no one to plead or speak a word in my behalf.
At length one of them, a blacksmith, named Carlisle, ventured to speak to me; and told me he knew how I was raised, that master Lucius was kind to his slaves; but Mr. Crookesty has bought
you and is able to give you even better than you ever had, and that I had better give up running away and be content with my home.
I replied that I would never be satisfied; that I had to work from daylight until ten o'clock without a mouthful to eat; that then I only had a little ash-cake and some butter milk; at night only a little ask-cake and pot-liquor, with a very little piece of meat. Master gave the rope around my neck a sharp pull, but I continued and said, that this was not enough for any one who had to work in the field all day.
Mr. Crookesty seeing that I was exposing his treatment, spoke up--
"Well, it is time I was getting home. Good-night gentleman," and off we started, to travel the eight miles I had come that night over--he making me walk and run the whole way. It being late when we reached home, he took me in his room, and tied me to the bed-post: to be sure of my not getting off again before morning. There I lay on the hard floor, with nothing to cover me, thinking of another chance to run away.
When morning came, and led me into the yard, and told me to take off my shirt. When I had done this he told me to put my arms around a Black Jack tree which stood there. (This tree was known by the name of Widow Black, for here the old man always tied all of the slaves when he whipped them--it was said that they did not always come off alive.) He then got two or three
switches and commenced the whipping. I hollowed and screamed, but all to no purpose. I pleaded with his wife to intercede for me, but she replied, "I am not your mistress, I am old 'Black Tooth.' "
I then again begged master to have mercy on me, but he replied, "I am not your master, I am 'Old Sam,' " and he commenced whipping me again. He stopped again and said, "I have been whipping you for running away, now I am going to whip you for what you told the hands in the field. You told them that you was not going to call us master and mistress, but my wife 'Black Tooth,' and myself 'Old Sam,' and then he began whipping me. When he had finished and untied me I hurried down to a spring of water and leaped into it, and rolled over and over. Mr. Crookesty came upon me while I was thus cooling myself and commenced whipping me again. After I got out of his grasp, I hurried up in the field and went to hoeing corn with all my might, thinking to myself that "I had paid rather dear for my whistle."
But all this action produced some good results. The next morning the horn blowed at eight instead of ten o'clock for breakfast; and although we found the ash-cake and butter-milk, there was more of it and some meat. We had meat again at dinner, at two o'clock, and bread and milk for supper. The hands looked upon me as a benefactor, all thanking me and expressing sorrow that I had to hug the widow, "for," said they, "we have
never had three meals a day before since we belonged to Mr. Crookesty.
The next day after my whipping, Mr. Crookesty came to me in the field where I was working, and said, "Israel, I tell you what I will do; I have bought you, and you have caused me to give you a severe whipping for running away; this I do not wish to have to do any more. Now, if you will be a good boy, and not run away any more, I will take you to wait on the house and let you be hostler at the stable, then you can have a chance of making some money, and I will give you cnough to eat and wear."
"Sir," I replied, "I will do the very best I can."
So he took me to the house, and all of us had plenty to eat and wear; and never did he have occasion to whip me again. The place where he lived was an old town, about one hundred and ten miles from Nashville, and twenty-five miles from the mouth of the Cumberland River, by the name of Centreville, and master was said to keep the best tavern in that part of Kentucky. After I had lived here a little over two years, master took a notion to go to Mississippi. He advertised and sold every thing except his slaves. He then purchased a large flat-boat and after we had all embarked we rowed down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In going down the rivers we often met large steamboats which would terribly frighten old mistress. All the way she was praying and crying. Among the boys there was one who was her
favorite, named King, and when she saw one of the boats coming, she would cry to King to pull with all his might, and see her out of danger, as she was sure they would kill them.
One day, while rowing down the Mississippi, there came blenching and blowing down the river a large steamer, with an Indian painted on the side, named Tecumseh: this so frightened old mistress that it threw her into hysterics. In fact, so completely did this voyage affect old mistress that by the time we reached Vicksburg she died. For this event the slaves did not feel sorry, for she had treated them very meanly.
Old master Crookesty did not commence operations here immediately, but hired all his slaves except one woman, who he kept to take care of his children. He hired me to a gentleman by the name of Mr. Bellfer, who had a large cotton farm. Here I entered on a new life, that of the plantation system, that is, every one had to be up with the blowing of the horn, and be in the field by day-light. Every Sunday each one had their rations dealt out to them: three pounds of meat and one peck of corn for the week, which they had to grind and cook for themselves.
When Cotton-picking time came, they talked of giving every one a stated task, and told me I would have to pick a hundred pounds a-day. I tried it for three days, but could not get over ninety pounds, but they put it down one hundred, and the Monday morning following they gave each
one their task, and told them that if they did not pick the amount they would have as many lashes as there were pounds short. I tried it, and took my basket up to be weighed at noon. The overseer noticed that I was going to fall short of my number of pounds, and exclaimed, to hurry me up, "Jatherous, jatherous, by the holy and just God, Israel, you will have to buy the rabbit agin night," meaning that I would get a whipping.
The overseer was an Irishman by birth, and was a singular old fellow. He kept a slate with each hand's name on it, and would put each draft of cotton down as they brought it in. At night his voice could be heard at its loudest pitch, "All ye's, all ye's gather up your baskets and away to the cotton-house. So we would gather up the baskets and go to the cotton-house. As I was going I espied Mr. Bellfer coming to the cotton-house, with the lantern, bull-whip and rope to tie the delinquents. I knew that my task was short, and that I would get as many lashes as my task was wanting pounds. I could not brave the settlement, so as the others went up I set my basket down and slipped behind the house, and went into the woods. I remained there until I thought all the white people had retired, then I took my sack, which I used for picking cotton, and went into the sweet potato patch and digged some potatoes, which I took into the cook's house to roast. Hardly had I them covered, before Mr. Bellfer made his appearance at the door, and exclaimed--
"Well, Israel, is that you?"
"Yes, sir," I replied.
"Well, I will settle with you now," adding an oath for emphasis.
The overseer was not in the house, but was in the slave quarters, he having a fine black woman for a wife, he not having as much prejudice against color as many of our northern brethren. Mr. Bellfer aroused him, and, soon after he made his appearance--
"So you have him, have you, Doctor; by the holy and just God, he will buy the rabbit now."
They ordered me to cross my hands, and they fastened them and lead me out into the yard. There was no whipping ground there, so while Mr. Bellfer held me, the overseer prepared the stakes to which to tie me while they were whipping me. Finding they were going to give me a hard whipping, I commenced begging and pleading, that if they would only forgive me that time, I would do better in future. But they were deaf to my cries. Mrs. Bellfer coming to the door at that time, I entreated her to plead for me; told her I would do better, and that I was sorry for what I had done.
Mistress Betsy had great influence with her husband, and she seeing that I was not as hardened as many of the other slaves, she stopped him and inquired into my case. The Doctor told her that I had not picked my task and had commenced running away.
Mistress Betsy then asked the Doctor not to whip me this time, for she was sure I would try and do better. But he told her to go away, that I had commenced running sway, and if he did not break me all the niggers would do likewise.
But I kept on pleading and so awakened Mistress Betsy's feelings in my behalf that she begged the Doctor to let me off this time, and offering to go my security that I would have my task hereafter, and never run away any more. She asked me if I understood what she had promised.
"Yes ma'am," I replied.
Then Mr. Bellfer said, "Israel, if Mrs. Bellfer will go your security, I will let you off this time: but never expect it again. He then untied my hands, and I went into the kitchen and took my potatoes out of the fire and began to eat them.
While thus engaged I commenced revolving in my mind as to how I should make good my word and give myself a good character for promptness and energy. To pick a hundred pounds of cotton a day I knew I could not, and yet to break my word and lose my good name was equally as hard. I began thing of some way by which I might succeed in always having my task made up. Thought I, we have a large water-melon patch near the field and if I do not succeed in having a full quantity before the last load, I will slip one of them in the bottom of the basket. This settled, I went to sleep and dreamt my plan over.
The next morning we all started as usual to the
cotton-field. All went on as usual. At eight o'clock we went to the cotton-house, and I had thirty-two pounds; after breakfast we picked until two o'clock, and then I had twenty-eight pounds. The overseer who could tell very near how much each one ought to average, said, "Jatherous, jatherous, Israel, by the holy and just God you will buy the rabbit agin night."
"The fast race-horse runs the fastest the last round," says I to myself, and off I went to the field, and picked hard until dark. Then the overseer's voice could be heard, "All ye's, all ye's, get up your baskets and away to the cotton-house. During the time I was picking I had selected a good sized melon and put it in the basket, and went up to have it weighed.
I was among one of the first who put their baskets in the scales that night, and the result was announced as a hundred and five pounds for my day's work. "I knew you could reach a hundred pounds," said the doctor.
"Hard work, sir, hard work," I replied. Thought I to myself, if you only knew how much less cotton there was, you would not look so pleasing; I leapt into the cotton-house and emptied my basket as far back as I possibly could. I succeeded this time without being caught: but I must confess I felt greatly afraid, but I knew that if I did not have the hundred pounds a whipping was sure, and if nothing ventured nothing would be gained, and this overbalanced my fear. I thought myself
pretty smart to play such a trick upon as sharp persons as master and the overseer.
I continued this whenever I thought my task was short, and was never caught. When melons were gone I used pumpkins, and finally filled my sack with dirt and was equally successful.
It may be thought that this is exaggerated, as the melons would increase and then all would be brought to light. But when they all left the cotton-house I would pretend to have forgotten something and go and get them out, take them into my house and eat them.
There was another boy who was whipped nearly every day. I took pity on him, and he promising me faithfully not to expose my plan, I let him into my secret and thus saved him also. Before the season was over every one of the delinquents knew how to save their backs, and they found it much easier to pick melons and pumpkins than to have their backs cut to pieces.
But a day of reckoning was to come with master. Before the cotton was saleable it had to be ginned--that is, cleaned of the seed and dirt, put up in bales of 450 pounds and was then ready for market. As they always put down the amount picked, allowing so much for waste, they could calculate very nearly the amount it ought to make.
When the ginner had completed his work, and had baled all the cotton, there was several bales short. Master accused him of stealing the cotton, but he proved to him that he had only got the
ninth bale, which he was entitled to for ginning. The falling short was a mystery which was never solved.
About this time there occurred the following incident, which shows how little mercy the overseers have upon the slaves:--There was a woman on the plantation named Mary, who was an extraordinary hand at picking cotton. Her task was put at a hundred and seventy-five pounds. She never had to be whipped for not getting her task, but was industrious and faithful. One day the overseer (generally they had rather see laziness and meanness) who had become uneasy under her good example, thought he would find some fault with her and whip her. Her husband seeing him, interferred. He then turned on him, and the resisting and trying to get out of his way, he took up his gun and deliberately fired at him. He did not kill him, but he was laid up a long time, and cost master considerable to have him attended to and cured.
So ended my year on that farm.
OUR freedom chained; quite wingless our desire.
* * * * * * *
Embruted every faculty divine,
Heart buried in the rubbish of the world.
AGAIN my ever-changing life must be doomed to pass the bitter ordeal of cruel indifference. I changed masters this year. Another of master Crookesty's boys and myself was hired to a Mr. John Jones, near Vicksburg. He bargained with him that we were to have plenty to eat and have three suits of clothes, a hat and a pair of shoes.
Mr. Jones had just been married, and now supposed that he could settle down and grow rich very fast. He hired him two boys and a girl, and planted twenty acres of cotton and fifteen acres of corn. Considerable of the ground, however, was to be cleared before it could be planted, and that was our first work. Beside those he hired he had a boy who he owned, named Joe, who was a special favorite with them. We being yellow and he beng coal black, we thought it hard that he should be treated so much better than we, and complained among ourselves about it.
Mrs. Jones was a little red-headed woman, and this among the slaves was held to be a very bad
sign. We would talk about this, and would use sundry idle threats as to what we would do--as boys who feel themselves aggrieved always will--never meaning to take the least action in the matter. One day Barry said that Mrs. Jones had better mind, for he would as soon slap her over as not. All these conversations Joe told Mr. Jones and his wife. One rainy morning we were all in the kitchen--Barry was making a maul, Joe was making an axe-helve, and I was mending my clothes, when Mr. Jones and his brother-in-law came in, and jocosely remarked, "That every man is at his trade." He then walked up to Barry and took the drawing-knife out of his hand, then told him to cross his hand, tied him, and took him into the yard and whipped him--giving him a hundred lashes.
A few weeks after this, I remarked that they treated Joe better than the rest of us. Joe told Mr. Jones of this also, and he told me he would settle with me on Saturday. On Saturday afternoon he and Mrs. Jones went to Livingstone, as he said, to buy a new whip. Knowing what was my lot when they returned, I said to Barry,
"Let us run away, and when he comes back he will find none of us to whip."
"Agreed," said Barry, "I am willing, if you are."
Off we started, but we did not get far before the girl, surmising our intention, halloed after us, begging us not to leave her behind. We told her we did not want her with us. She insisted so hard,
however, that we consented, and bundling up every thing we could we started for Vicksburg.
When Mr. Jones and his wife returned they must have been surprised at finding all his hands gone except Joe. We had no idea of getting free, but was intent of making him lose a good crop from lateness, knowing we would get whipped if we were caught.
When we had got about three miles from home, we went into a thicket, and staid there until night. We were then at a loss what course to pursue. It occurred to me that it was about time for old master Crookesty to be at Vicksburg, which was between fifty and sixty miles from that place, and we thought we would try and get there, and started accordingly. The second night, not having had any thing to eat except our day's provisions with which we started, we all became very hungry. About twelve o'clock at night we went into a garden to hunt some vegetables, leaving the woman to stand as sentinel at the gate, to alarm us in case any one should approach. We found a man there on the same mission as ourselves, and, seeing us, he thought we were after him, and broke out as quickly as he could, with a beehive on his back. The woman taking him to be one of us took after him. The noise he made aroused the dogs and they began to bark, which made us think it prudent to follow after them. We then tried to get each other together by our mutual signal, which was to whistle. Barry and myself soon got together,
but we whistled and whistled, but could not find the woman. Thinking that the dogs might have aroused the inmates and she have thought it best to look to them for protection. We did not try further to find her. We then sought a good place to rest until the next night, and soon found one in a thicket near which there was a fine spring of water. About nine o'clock we saw a woman come down there to wash clothes. She being a black woman, Barry thought she would befriend us. We being very hungry thought we might venture to ask her if she could not get us something to eat. Barry went up to her and stated his case, and she professed to be a friend; she said her mistress kept a dancing-school and boarded the scholars, that she could get us plenty to eat without its being missed. She asked him if he was alone. He told her that he was not, but that he had a partner not very far off. She asked to see me, and Barry whistled for me to come to him. I being suspicious of her did not respond. He then came to me and blamed me for not coming to her, and stating what she had told him. I told him to go back and tell her I could not come. She seemed very sorry, and said that she was grieved to see her own color afraid of her; that I did not know what she had done for her color. She told him that on the other side of the farm there was a cane-brake, where she said she had staid when she ran away, for twelve months at a time without being found, and that she would bring us food
there, and for us both to come up to the road at night, and not to be afraid of her. Barry came and told me what she had said, and I promised him I would go up to the road at night. She told Barry which way to come come, and that the people of the house always retired just after dark. We lay there the remainder of the day, wishing for night to come. Every few minutes Barry would exclaim, "What a fine woman she was," little thought had he that she was laying a trap to catch him that night. At length the sun departed behind the western hill-tops, and we commenced drawing near the house. When we came to the place she had appointed, there she was with a large waiter filled with eatables, with her mistress' china cups and saucers, and light biscuit and sugar. I began to think this woman was truly a friend to those in trouble, and especially to us.
Being very hungry we began eating without much ceremony. Presently we saw a colored man coming from the house. She hallooed to him to go back, that he was no friend of hers. George, as she called him, started back toward the house. The next thing I noticed was a white man catch George around the waist and command him to stand. I thought that all this did not seem right, and we sprang up and took for the woods. Two white men stept before us into the lane, and told us to stop or they would shoot us. We paid no attention to their commands, and one of them fired away, cutting off one of Barry's eyebrows, leaving
the bone bare. After the gun was fired I noticed Barry stagger from one side to the other, and gave him up as dead. I ran for the cane-brake which I reached without being hurt. I climbed a tree to see if I could see any thing of my partners, but could not. I saw, however, four, white men and the woman with a lantern trying to track some blood. They walked on until they came to the spring where we saw the woman washing; they then went back to the house. This convinced me that Barry was not dead, and I came down from the tree and whistled for him. He answered me; but I was afraid to go to him, and he was afraid to come to me, we each surmising that it might be either the woman or one of the white men, she having learnt our signal for calling each other. We whistled for each other for nearly an hour, but neither of ventured to go to the other. I then found a good place and laid down to sleep.
The next morning I started forth alone, not knowing what had become of my companions. Going on I came to a farm where there was an old house standing well up in the field. Watching it I saw a man go from it who I took, from his general appearance, to be a slave-driver. Still watching the house very closely, and looking around to see that there was no person there, I at last went in it to look for something to eat. I found a large piece ef bread and some meat, and, on looking in and on the top of the cupboard, found a cup of sugar and a hat full of eggs. On the bed, which
stood in the corner of the room, lay a large black whip, which he used to drive the slaves. I here found an ample repast, for which I was truly thankful. Then I went into the cane-brake and fell into a sound sleep.
In perusing the foregoing account, the reader who is acquainted with the South will ask (in his or her own mind at least) as to where the blood-hounds were kept during all my wanderings. To which I would reply, that in many districts, even of Mississippi, these dogs are not kept for distances of fifty miles apart, and that at the time of which I am speaking, I had not seen one for six months previous.
I travelled on from this time until I came into Vicksburg. Having lived here before, my intention was to go to the man's house with whom I had lived, and try and find out if Master Crookesty had returned from Tennessee, and if not, stay there until he returned. I did not think it prudent, however, to go into to the town until near night, and wandered slowly along the banks of the river (Mississippi). While I was thus engaged a white man met me, and asked if I was a slave. I told him "Yes sir."
"That's a pity; you ought not to be a slave; where I live there are no slaves," said he.
"Where is that, sir." I asked.
"In the State of Ohio," he replied.
"I wish I was there," said I.
From that time the idea of being free and of
seeing the State of Ohio, never left my mind. But, thought I, they must be very poor in Ohio if they have no slaves, for I knew that the people who owned no slaves wherever I had been were very poor. So ended our conversation; but I did not tell him I was a runaway.
I had not gone much further before I saw another white man. When we came up to each other, he said--
"Boy, which way are you going?"
"I am hunting geese, sir," I replied.
"Who do you belong to," asked he.
"Mr. Wood, sir," says I.
"Well, come with me and we will see if you belong to him."
This Mr. Wood was the gentleman with whom I had lived in Vicksburg. We started off to go Mr. Wood's, but, thinking if he caught me in a lie he would whip me, as we were going along I told him I was a runaway, and belonged to Mr. Crookesty. After I told him this he took me to the jail. When he got there he says to the jailor,
"Well, Mr. Downs, I have a stray here."
"He is a fine looking fellow, to whom does he belong?" said Mr. Downs.
"To Crookesty," replied the man.
"Why, I have one of Crookesty's boys in here now; there was two of you ran off together?" interrogated Mr. Downs.
"Yes sir," says I.
They then took me to the measuring board and
took my height and general description, and then took me up a winding stairs and put me into one of the cells. In here I found Barry, who, after all was quiet, told me how he came to be there.
* * * * * *
Barry's story ran thus:--
He had, after being shot, dragged himself to the cane-brake where he had heard my whistle, but, as I before stated, he thought it was one of the men trying to catch us, they having learned our signal through the woman, whom we thought our friend, and had been too free in using it in her presence. There he remained until the next morning, when he started out again, going he knew not whither. He continued on until he came to a field where there was a colored man plowing, to whom he told his story, and asked him if he could not get him something to eat, he being very hungry. He asked him not to betray him, and he promised him he would not, but told him he would have to go to the house before he could get him any thing. Barry waited for him until he returned with the food. While they were talking, the master, overseer and three black men came suddenly upon him. He resisted, but their number overpowered him. They tied him and gave him one hundred lashes, then sent him to Vicksburg and imprisoned him. Here we met. This was near the end of the week after we had started off.
Even the best must own
That patience and resignation are the pillars
Of human peace on earth.
THE following Monday morning after our imprisonment we heard that Lucinda had also been brought into the prison. We did not get to see her as the prison was divided into different apartments--the debtor, the criminal, the runaway and the women's--she being confined in the last.
To anticipate what she afterwards informed us was her fortune, we will present it here:--
She had followed the man who had run off with the bee-hive, supposing it to be Barry or me. After she found out her mistake she was at a loss what to do, until the man tried to take undue liberties with her, to which she would not submit, and she succeeded in getting out of his company and gave herself up to the proprietor of the farm, thinking it better to suffer punishment than submit to wrong. She was a very pretty girl, and the landlord took quite a fancy to her. She stayed there for several days, and had a very pleasant time. He thought it expedient, however, to deliver her up, und accordingly about a week after, he brought her in to the jail.
We all had quite a lively time in the prison--laughing, talking and singing. We remained here eleven days, and our jail fee amounted to forty-nine dollars and fifty cents, and six dollars for the persons who caught us.
The last night we were there, I had quite an ominous dream, which, from the minute fulfilment, increased my faith in such revelations. I dreamt that I had a trace chain around my neck and a padlock under my chin and a white man leading me down the prison stairs. I awoke and found it all a dream.
About ten o'clock the next day Mr. Jones came into the apartment where Barry and I was with three chains and padlocks. These he placed around our necks, and put the padlocks under our chins, and led us out of the prison. Thus was my dream fulfilled. He chained all three of us together and then started for home, making us walk the entire distance of fifty-four miles without getting any thing to eat or drink. He then gave us a glass of liquor to invigorate us, and we reached home the next morning before breakfast. He gave each one a light whipping, and had a piece of iron weighing seven pounds put around Barry's ancle, six pounds around Lucinda's and six around mine, to cripple us in case we should attempt to run away again. We came off much better than we anticipated, and went to work with better feelings than we expected. A few days after this Barry was missing again, but I thought I would not try
running away any more, but if he did not treat me right I would defend myself, even if I had to hurt him.
A short time after the events just related, Mr. Crookesty, having returned to Vicksburg, and hearing of our having been there, he came to see Mr. Jones as to what were the prospects and how he liked us by this time. Mr. Jones told him his story, and Mr. Crookesty having some other motive, wished him to give us up to him. This he consented to do provided Mr. Crookesty would pay the jail fee, and for our time. This he would not consent to do. Mr. Jones then wanted him to pay for the time we had lost by running away, when he had to hire two other men to fill our places. Mr. Crookesty, however, would listen to nothing but an unconditional surrender, which Mr. Jones would not submit to.
Mr. Crookesty then tried to decoy us off. He had seen Barry, who had told him his story, and he sympathized with him. Seeing me with the iron around my ancle, he resolved that we should leave Mr. Jones. After making every proposition they could think of without either of them being willing to accept the other's terms, they decided finally to leave the matter to arbitration. The next day the arbitrators met, and decided in Mr. Crookesty's favor.
While I was plowing, on the day after the decision, Mr. Crookesty came to me and said, "Israel, fasten that horse to the fence, and come with me."
I told him I had a blanket and some clothes at the house.
"Well," says he, "go and get them, and I will be here when you come back."
I went and got my things without saying any thing to any person. Mr. Crookesty took me to the Blacksmith shop, and had the iron band cut off; but this did not mend the matter much, for I had worn it so long that my muscles had become accustomed to it, and when it was taken off, my foot jumped up and down, so that I could hardly walk.
After we left the blacksmith shop we went to Squire Waddleton's where we met Barry. Mr. Crookesty had the iron taken from his ancle, and then gave us a couple day's rest, which made us all right; our legs by that time becoming of equal weight. So ended our career with Mr. Jones.
WITH me that time is come. * * *
A new world rises, and new manners reign.
ON the morning of the third day, while we were stopping at Squire Waddleton's, Master Crookesty told me he had sold me to a Mr. Garner, who he said was a very good man, and I want you to get ready and we will go over there and see him. I did as he commanded, and after master had made out a bill of sale, we went over to Mr. Garner's.
This Mr. Garner was a poor man as regards property. He owned, however, four slaves, and hired his brother-in-law to work his farm. He had married his second wife, and was, as to size, a heavy man, weighing about two hundred pounds. He worked regularly with the hands, and was his own overseer. We made a very good crop the first year I was with him. By the time cotton-picking time came around, I had learned the art a little better than I understood it when I had to pick water-melons to make up my task, and did'nt have to do any such thing to make up my number of pounds and save my back.
My new master was not a fast picker, and I tried
to pick as much as he did. In a little while I could go far ahead of him. He had a pretty fast picker by the name of Uncle Bob, and after I had come to outstrip master, we used to run races, so that before cotton-picking was over I could go ahead of Uncle Bob.
With Mr. Garner all the hands had Saturday afternoon to themselves. They generally took this time to get their clothes washed by the women and attend to any other business they might have. I was very much pleased with my place and with my master and mistress, and they were very well satisfied with me. Everything went as usual until Christmas again come round. We had then five days holidays, and we enjoyed them very much. Here occurred an episode in my life, which I will relate:
Christmas holidays being over, on New Year's day I had to go to mill. Master told me to go over to Squire Waddleton's and ask his uncle (Squire's overseer) to lend me one of his horses to ride. He told me to take either of them, except the two mules, which they worked in the cotton-gin. Among the horses there was one which was owned by the Squire's son; but as the order was to take any except the mules, I thought I had rather ride that one in preference to any of the others, and accordingly took it. When I came back he found out that I had his horse, and he threatened to whip me for it. Knowing that I was as strong as he was, he thought he would over-power
me by strategem, and went to the corn-crib and made his arrangements. The crib had two doors, one of these he fastened, intending to come in at the other door and get me foul.
When he saw me he spoke quite pleasantly as if he was not at all displeased at me. "Well, Israel, how do you like my horse?"
"First rate, Master Irving," I replied.
"Well, I want you to feed him before you go home."
"Very well, sir," I replied.
I then went to the crib to get the corn, he going with me. As I stooped down to get the corn he up with a board and struck at me, breaking out with an oath and wanting to know what I rode his horse for?"
"The overseer told me to take any of the horses except old Jef and the mules, master," said I.
"Well, I am going to cow-hide you for taking my horse," said he.
I don't know about that, master," said I.
Upon that he struck at me, and I seized him by the collar. He saw that I was rather too much for him to handle, and began to get frightened. I gave him one or two blows in the short-ribs and made for the door, but found it fastened; I then threw myself against it and broke it open. The cook going across the yard at that moment, he called for her to come and help him. I told her not to come, or I would knock her down, and she went her way. I then got out of the crib and
started for home. He said he would come over and get master to whip me for what I had done.
When I got home, I went immediately and told master what had happened. A little while after Mr. Irving came over with his story. Master decided in my favor. After this Mr. Irving always bore an ill-will against me.
This year master gave each of the men an acre of ground for their own farm. This, as I have before stated, we tilled on Saturday afternoons and holidays, and sometimes on Sundays. We made a pretty good crop of general produce for master this year, and succeeded very well with our truck patches, as we called them.
When cotton-picking time came, master said to me, "Israel, if you want it I will give you a task, and all you pick over that I will pay you fifty cents a hundred for." My task was fixed at one-hundred and seventy-five pounds. I made during the season by over-work, an average of from two to three dollars a week.
Master seeing that I was quick and willing took some pains with me, taught me how to weigh with the steelyards and also how to calculate.
Master's success this year made him think that he could afford to have more help, and after all the work was over he went to the slave market to see what he could find to suit him.
AND now I take my quiet rest,
With my head upon thy breast
And make no further quest.
* * * * * * *
The discipline of slavery is unknown.
MASTER returned from the market bringing with him seven slaves, which he had purchased. Among them was a beautiful girl, nearly white, with long black hair and jet black eyes. Hardly had we seen each other than each of us seemed at once to regard the other with affection and interest. But I could not think of marriage just yet. Before long however we began talking of marriage, and as master and mistress gave their consent, we concluded to be married the next Christmas.
Time sped its onward flight, carrying with it the usual pleasures and sorrows of life. We had made a very good crop and master was well pleased with the manner in which the work had been performed and with the amount that had been accomplished. A week or so before Christmas we went to the city, and I dressed my intended bride from head to foot, and purchased myself a nice suit of broadcloth.
Christmas having arrived, we were very busy
in making preparation for the wedding--master and mistress helping in the preparation of our supper. A Justice of the Peace (commonly called Squires in the South) solemnized the bands and for that night we had a very lively time, every one enjoying themselves as much as possible. I was about eighteen years old when I was married. I never had any cause to regret my choice, as we lived very happily together, she always being willing to go with me night or day where duty called.
There was one of the boys who was very bad, and who would run away without the least provocation; staying away until hunger compelled him to come back and go to work. He being a very smart hand master had not whipped him for so doing, but had made work harder when he came back. This fall he had run off in the busiest time of cotton-picking, and had staid away over a week. When he came back master determined he would not bear with such conduct any longer, and would cure him of the propensity. He told him to tell me he wanted me. He sent me to the stable to get a couple of plow lines, which I brought him. He then got a barrel. After tying Caleb he made him lay down across the barrel, and put a fence-rail across his arms and ancles. Then he commanded me to get the bull-whip and hand saw. When I had so done, he told me wanted me to whip Caleb until he could not stand. This I refused to do; so he said he would do it himself. He began with the bull-whip. As he grew warm
with whipping, he lost his temper, and he would whip as hard as he could, and would draw the saw across his bare back. The poor fellow hollowed and screamed without much success. The neighbors thought he was killing him, and came to see what was the matter. After giving him two hundred lashes, he told him, if he would promise not to run away any more, he would stop now. This he did, and master then untied him. He took up his clothes, and hurried away to his cabin, with the blood streaming down his back. It was hard to stand and see a fellow-partner suffer such punishment; but I dared not say a word. Several days elapsed before Caleb was able to go to work. He finally recovered, however; and, although he lived with Mr. Garner for several years after that, he never attempted to run away.
Work increasing on his hands, and he having more slaves than he could attend to, master concluded to get an overseer. The man he employed was a Mr. Cotton, from Alabama. This gentleman was quite stout, weighing, I think, about one hundred and seventy-five pounds. He had to act as overseer and work the same as a hand. Every thing went on very well, until one day he told me to pick up some grubs where he was ploughing, and throw them over the fence. I picked them up and threw them in one corner of the fence to stop up a hole which was there, this being the way master had told me to do. When Mr. Cotton saw what I had done with them, he went into the
woods and cut him three hickory switches. He then attempted to arrest me for not obeying his orders. This was the first time he had attempted to whip any of us, and three of us boys agreed together to help each other if he should undertake to do it, and beat him almost to death. Relying upon their honor for sticking to the bargain, I was in no way backward in answering to his summons. To keep me off my guard, he had set his hickories behind a tree, and he was standing against it. When I came to where he was standing, he asked--
"What did you do with with them grubs I told you to pick up?"
"I threw them down in the corner of the fence," I replied.
"What did you do that for?" said he.
"That is the way master has told me to do, to keep the pigs out of the field."
"Well, what did I tell you to do with them?"
"You told me to throw them over the fence."
"Well, I will let you know you shall obey my orders." He then reached behind the tree and got his hickories. This surprised me, and for the moment I was thrown off my guard. He then told me to draw off my coat.
"Sir," I said, "I would just as soon throw them over the fence as to put them down in the corner."
But he would listen to nothing but me pulling off my coat.
"My master does not make me take off my coat, and I shall not do it for you," I replied.
"Well, d--n you, I will whip it off," said he.
"There is no devil if you do," I replied.
I did not think I could whip him; but there was another of the boys working close by, and I expected him to come to my help, as we had agreed, as soon as he should commence whipping me. He then made an attack on me. As soon as he raised his hand to strike me, I seized him and looked him straight in the face. The color left it, and I saw he was badly frightened. He dropped his switch and seized me. We then stood there like two bull-dogs, each afraid of the other. He then hallooed to a black man who was working close by, to come and help him. But Uncle Bob, as he was called, would not come. I then called him, but he would not come. Mr. Cotton then said to me--
"Let me go."
I told him to let me go.
But he would not. He then threw me down, and, as I fell, I caught his thumb in my mouth. This made him release me, when both of us sprung up and made at each other again. By this time I saw that I would have to do my own fighting, and went at it in earnest. I seized him by his shirt, and tore it half off, and presently tore the other half, leaving him shirtless. He, seeing that I was too much for him, gave up the idea of whipping me, and told me to go to my work. I was as willing to do this as he was to get clear of me; for I must confess that if I had thought the other
boys would not have come to my help, I should have run. Confidence often accomplishes more than strength.
Mr. Cotton told master his side, and I mine of the story. Mistress, who did not bear me the best of good-will, wanted master to tie me and let Mr. Cotton whip me. I knew that the best way to get around master was to be very humble, and I had not a word to say; but, as he was to see me next morning, I set my wits to work to find out something that would please him. I at last thought that he liked the hands to be up very early in the morning, and I was up bright and early. A little while after I was up, I saw master coming towards the stable, where I was feeding the horses. After hearing my explanation, he said--
"Now, young man, you will have to walk straight."
This was the end of this episode. Every thing went on smoothly after this until cotton-picking time. By this time, Mr. Cotton seemed to have forgotten master's displeasure at his whipping the hands. So one day he whipped a colored woman for some slight offence. She told master of it, and also that he had said she was too great a favorite of master's. Master became very angry about this, and told Mr. Cotton never to strike one of the hands as long as he was with him.
Another incident occurred just at this time, which I give to show upon what little cause many
of the masters and overseers whip the slaves, and sometimes other persons' hands.
A short time after the above had happened, another young man and myself were walking along the main road about a mile from home, when we came to where two women were washing. They belonged to a man by the name of Gruffin, and he had an overseer named Hatch. We stopped there a minute or two, and were talking with the women. Presently Mr. Hatch came up and spoke to us, and asked us what we were doing there.
We replied, that we were passing along the road, and had just stopped a minute to chat with the ladies.
"This is against my orders," said he.
"We did not know this, sir; and it shall not happen again," we replied.
I noticed that he had his bull-whip and pistol in his hand, and commenced moving off. He said--
"You move from here until I give you each a few lashes, and your blood shall spill."
"I cannot help it, sir," said I, and we jumped off the fence and got away as fast as we could. He fired his pistol at us, but it did not hit either of us. When I was beyond his reach, I hollowed at the top of my voice--
"Oh! if that is the best you can do, you had better go back and take your rest."
WORTH is elevated to place; 'tis more;
It makes the place stand candidate for thee;
* * * * *
Nor wake indulgence from her golden dream.
* * * * *
Vain are all sudden sallies of delight,
If not on honest principle based.
AT this time master sold out his farm and bought another seven miles west of a town called Mount Vernon.
Mr. Cotton's time was now ended, and master paid him and gave him his discharge.
After Mr. Cotton had gone, master came to me and said--
"Now, Israel, I am going to make you my overseer. I want you to go right ahead; and if any thing goes wrong, I want you to let me know it."
I entered on my new office with misgivings as to my ability, but I was determined to do the best I could. * * * * *
The first year we lived on the new farm my wife gave birth to a fine son. I called him Nelson, after my older brother. I thought as much of him as it was possible, and took great pleasure,
as he grew older and commenced noticing, in watching his pranks. I was now as happy as I thought it possible to be in this world. When about eleven months old, however, the child was taken very sick with a fever; and, after lingering for eleven days, it died. It seemed now that every thing in the world was worthless, and that the Lord was a cruel and unjust God. But all this affliction was for my benefit. While in the field one day soon after, I began thinking about my child; and, as one thought suceeded another, I thought of the admonition of my mother when I left her, to meet her in heaven; and now I thought to try and do this, as my child had gone there. I made a resolution that I would endeavor to live a better life and try and be a Christian.
I found, however, by my experience, that it was much easier to think of being an overseer than to practice it. Master had, at this time, about thirty slaves, and I often felt that I had rather be one of the hands than overseer. There was a man who master got of his brother, who had been overseer for him, and I thought I could get the place; but when I told my intention, none of the hands would listen to my resigning; so, for their sakes, I continued on.
Master's affairs went on very prosperously at this time. I tried to make the slaves work for his interest; and he, seeing them do this, was kind to them. One or two circumstances occurred at this time which may help to show the habits of the
slaves and the sufferings they have to endure, even to the death.
The first of these we will call the hog scrape. A neighbor of master's (Mr. Lipscomb) had missed one of his hogs, and he had traced it to one of the cabins of master's slaves. Master endeavored to ferret out the truth, and came with Mr. Lipscomb into the field where we were at work. Master asked me if I knew any thing about it. I told him I did not. He said he thought as much. The hog had been traced to the cabin of a man by the name of George. So master asked him about it, and he acknowledged to it. Master wished to pay Mr. Lipscomb; but to this he would not consent, and said the only way in which he could be paid was to take it out of their backs.
At first master would not consent to this; but Mr. Lipscomb was so determined either to settle it in this way or have the men imprisoned and publicly punished, that master at last gave way, but made the provision, that he should not draw blood.
Master told George that Mr. Lipscomb would not be satisfied with any other pay than whipping him, so he would have to pull off his shirt. George drew off his shirt, and Mr. Lipscomb gave him fifty lashes. George hollowed, begged, and pleaded with him, which made him strike lighter than he would otherwise have done. The other boy, who helped him to kill and clean the hog,
came in for his portion of the punishment. He was very sullen and stubborn, and would not beg nor cry, but stood it bravely. Mr. Lipscomb, seeing his stubbornness, struck him much harder. Master stopped him and said that he must either not strike so hard or quit, which caused him to lighten his strokes. After he had given him fifty lashes also, he seemed perfectly satisfied.
Master told the boys that he was sorry they had done such a thing; and, although he would not tolerate stealing, he would rather they would have taken two of his hogs than to have touched a neighbor's; and that he hoped they would learn a lesson from the consequences of this act.
An incident occurred at Mr. Lipscomb's at this time which forcibly shows what sufferings some of the poor slaves have to endure. Mr. Lipscomb lived about one mile from our house. He had a boy named Jupiter. One day the hands were talking about their mistress, who was a very disagreeable woman, when Jupiter called her a little red-headed devil. One of them told her what he had said, and she told his master, who tied him down to three stakes and gave him two hundred lashes on his bare back. After this, Jupiter ran away; but they caught him after a few days, when he was tied down and given two hundred lashes more. His master then put his tied hands behind his neck and passed a stick through them. He then tied another stick so that it should be above his head, and to this he fastened a bell.
After his master went to bed, he came over to our house to get master to take his shackles off and go and plead with his master for him. The first person who heard the bell was George, who was at his old tricks,--prowling around the stable after chickens. He could not think what in the world it was coming towards him with such a noise, as it was too high for any cattle to have a bell. He soon perceived who it was, however; and after Jupiter told him his story, he advised him to go and see master. This he done, and after taking off his shackles, master told him to go to one of the houses and stay, and in the morning he would go with him, which he did, and Mr. Lipscomb promised he would not whip him again.
The next day, however, he was not able to pick his full task of cotton, so badly had he been whipped, and his master gave him two hundred more lashes, making six hundred lashes the poor fellow had received in a week's time. The next morning Jupiter was dead. Mr. Lipscomb sent for master to come over and look at him. After master came back, he came to where I was and said--
"Well, Jupiter, Mr. Lipscomb has whipped Jupiter to death."
That was the last I ever heard of this affair.
Cotton-picking time had again arrived, and master gave those who wished it a task, and paid them for all over they could pick. My task was
put at one hundred and seventy-five pounds, and my wife's at one hundred and fifty pounds. We worked hard late and early, and some weeks would make from three dollars and a half to four dollars and a half. After master had raised several successful crops, he considered that he had made money enough, and thought of moving to Tennessee.
About that time a man by the name of Mr. Thomas came in that neighborhood. He was a Methodist preacher, and had come from Louisiana for the purpose of buying a farm in the vicinity of Vicksburg. Master hearing of him, offered his farm for sale. Mr. Thomas bought it and twenty slaves. Master reserved ten of his choice hands, and said he was going to take them up to Tennessee. I having got a good name as a cotton-picker, he refused two thousand five hundred dollars for me, and the same for another boy, named Ned, he being a single man.
He hired me and my family to his brother-in-law. He then bought himself a pair of horses and a carriage, and took a pleasure-trip into Tennessee.
I now changed my home, and went to live with his brother-in-law, Mr. Charles Hestel.
DARKEST sacrifice! which had with horror shocked
The darkest, Pagans offered to their gods.
AFTER I had got fairly installed into my new home, Mr. Hestel came to me and said he wanted me to take charge of his hands and do just the same for him as I had done for my old master.
"Well, master," I replied, I am willing to do the very best I can for you. What kind of a chance are you going to give for over-work?"
"Well, I am not able to do as your master did, Israel; but I will pay you for all you pick over your task and on Sundays; and when cotton-picking is over, I want you to be teamster."
"I do not wish to work on Sundays, master. All the rest I like very well," said I.
"Just as you please about that," said he.
After cotton-picking was over, Master Charles and his wife concluded they would take a trip to Tennessee to see their parents, and left his younger brother to manage his business.
An insurrection broke out this year, but did not come to open riot, although many poor fellows suffered on suspicion of being concerned in raising it. The first I knew of it was: Two white men came to my house one night after I had gone to
bed, and ordered me to get up immediately. I could not think, for my life, what was the matter. Before I got my clothes on, they became impatient, and called for me to open the door. As I done this, one of them seized me by the collar, having a bowie-knife in one hand. Uttering a horrible oath, he asked--
"What do you know about Doctor Cotton's scrape?"
"Nothing at all, sir," I replied.
"Don't you tell me a lie. Do you know Dr. Cotton? When did you see him last?"
I replied, that I would not tell them a lie; that I did know Mr. Cotton, but that I had not seen him for some time. They went on asking a number of questions, wanting to know if I knew Harris' old Dave, the negro preacher, and when I heard him preach last, and where at? I answered them satisfactorily these queries. They then wanted to know if I staid at the meeting until the people had all dispersed? If they talked any thing about getting free and killing the white people?
I replied to them about knowing the different parties; but about the rising of the slaves I had heard nothing.
After convincing themselves that I was ignorant, they left, warning me, however, not to be caught outside our own plantation, nor talk with any strange negroes or white men. They told me that Dr. Cotton and some other mean white men
and a great many of the negroes were laying plans to rise and kill off the white people and free the negroes. After giving me some brandy, and again warning me, that if I did not heed their advice, I would be shot, they left my house.
They, with other parties, went around among all the slave quarters. many they scared so badly, that they told lies of every description, and suffered for it. When they thought they had succeeded in quelling the insurrection, they commenced punishing those they had caught. Some they hung, others they burned, and some of those they thought not so guilty they pulled cats back-wards on their bare backs. Two of the party hung themselves in the prison.
They then got the bloodhounds and scoured the swamps and forests. When they thought their work was complete, they gave a large feast to the citizens. I was at this myself, to help wait on the table. They had a long table set in the woods, and at every man's plate was a bottle of wine, and champagne went freely. At the proper time, twelve armed men escorted Mr. Stewart (the man who first detected the plan that was being laid) to the table. Mayor Green, a wealthy farmer, was called on to address the meeting. He said--
"Friends and fellow-citizens, we have the pleasure to-day of meeting with Mr. Stewart, who has been the means of saving the lives of our wives and children, and preserving our farms from destruction. The State owes him a debt they
can never repay; and I am glad to see those who are acquainted with the importance of his acts showing a just appreciation of his worth. I call upon you, gentlemen, to drink the health of Mr. Stewart, the protector of our families and firesides."
Then they all drank his health, and filled the woods with their cheers Mr. Stewart then arose and replied--
"Gentlemen and fellow-citizens, I am happy to meet you here to-day in this time of rejoicing, after we have succeeded in putting an end to the diabolical plot which was being laid; and as you appointed me your leader, I have done no more than it was my duty to do, and which, I am sure, every true friend to his country would have done. Thanking you for this heartfelt manifestation of your feelings, I assure you I will long hold this day in grateful, though painful, remembrance."
They then all sat down to the dinner, which was prepared. After all was over, they went into the village.
I saw the place where the slaughter took place. Two large wooden forks, with a pole laid from one to the other, served for the gallows, and they told me men hung there two days and nights.
Dr. Cotton was a steam doctor; and the party who were making arrests endeavored to get hold of every steam doctor and colored preacher they could; and when once in their grasp, there was very little mercy shown them. The heads of the
preachers they cut off and put on poles, and placed them along the road, where they remained until they were bleached. I saw several of their skulls in an apothecary store at Mount Vernon the latter part of that fall. Dr. Cotton was a noble-looking man and a friend to the slave, and he died a martyr to the cause he had so much at heart,--the emancipation of the slave.
This affair was known as Murrell's Insurrection, and happened, as well as I can remember, in the year 1836.
"WHEN through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee o'erflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress."
LATE that fall, Master Garner returned from Tennessee. I was very glad the trouble was all over, and that I was permitted to see him again. He seemed very glad to see me. He said he had quite a serious sickness since he left, but that he was much better now, and was gaining fast. He told me he was going to settle down in Mount Vernon for a while. He thought it likely that he would stop at the tavern, and that he would take my wife and myself there, too. A few days after that they sent up for us come down to Mount Vernon, and master hired me to the landlord of the tavern for twenty-five dollars a month. I was very well pleased here, as I had an excellent chance to make money, making almost as much a month as master got for my wages, by blacking boots, tending horses and waiting on the gamblers at night. Often have I made five dollars of a night waiting on them. We remained here from fall until the next May.
At this time master concluded to move altogether to Tennessee, and accordingly we took the steamboat at Vicksburg. I waited on the table on the steamboat, and the captain took quite a fancy to me, and offered master sixteen hundred dollars for me; but master had promised me that he would not sell me without I was willing, and asked me if I was willing to go. I told him I was not; that I did not want to leave him. I never saw a man I thought as much of as Master Garner.
We arrived safe at Nashville, and here master hired a team to take us to Winchester. We lived at his father's the remainder of that year.
I had always, during the time we have been reviewing, been trying to make my peace with God; but in Mississippi there were so many drawbacks, that I had not made much progress. I now thought I would succeed, as I was away from that wicked place, and put my whole soul to the work. I went to the meetings, and was much encouraged by the sermons I heard. I sought me out a praying-ground, and resorted there twice a day.
This I continued until the last of the fall.--At this time there was a Methodist camp-meeting held near where we lived, and my wife and myself got permission on Saturday afternoon to attend it. I thought that if it was possible for me to get religion, I would now succeed. We had an excellent
sermon preached, and after that was over the minister called for anxious souls to come forward. Both my wife and myself went up at the first invitation. They had a series of prayers, but no conversions. Meeting then dismissed. We were disappointed in our expectations; but next morning we went up again, thinking we would be more successful. For several days we went forward without experiencing any change. On Sunday night the meeting broke up, and left us in a state of almost despair. To still continue my pleadings I went up to the graveyard and tried to pray there, but found no relief.
I thought when I became converted I would see the Lord face to face, and He would talk with me. After being some time in the woods by myself, I asked my wife how she felt. She said, "No better." I told her I feared the day of grace was passed with me. We agreed, however, to strive on, and on Monday evening went to the camp-ground again.
They had a sermon and partook of the Lord's Supper. After they had ended these exercises, they again invited mourners forward. My wife seemed to be in a more anxious state of mind than I was, and went forward immediately. I held back, not feeling like praying, and fearing that there was no mercy for me. When my wife noticed that I was not kneeling, she caught hold of me and pulled me down by the side of her. I kneeled down for her sake, not that I expected to
receive any profit from praying. When the ministers came around exhorting us, I would clear my throat to let them know I was not asleep. When we had been kneeling there some time, my wife rose up and began praying. An old colored minister, named Reeves, came near to us, and said--
"Pray on, my young brother. Your wife has found the Lord."
I had not yet began to pray; and a little while after there appeared to be a load settle on my back, so that, had I a fifty-six pound weight tied there, I could not have felt more bowed down or uncomfortable. I then tried to pray, to relieve me of my load; but my sins rose up before me so fast and in such abundance, that they seemed like a swarm of bees flying thickly before me. After praying awhile longer, a new state of mind came over me, and I felt perfectly willing for God's will to be done. I could see now that it was myself that I had been relying on, and not God. My friends had told me to say when I prayed, "Here, Lord, I give myself to Thee; it is all that I can do!" This I had said again and again, but never experienced, until that night, the efficacy of prayer in the fullest extent. Then I prayed, "Lord, I give myself to Thee; it is all that I can do. I own that I am vile and weak, yet Thy salvation is free!"
I felt that if it was God's will, I should rather be sent to perdition than arise from there without
experiencing peace with Him. All at once, in a moment of time, the darkness vanished, light sprang up, and my soul was filled with joy. I I felt alive in Christ; I felt that I was new born in Christ. I rose up and cried out, "The Lord be praised for evermore!" I loved everybody; I had no feeling of hatred in my heart. My wife met me and threw her arms around my neck, and we had a time of rejoicing together.
We went home that night, praising God, and I felt as if there must be rejoicing with God and the angels over the finding of the lost sheep.
The next morning I began to study the matter over, and I thought to myself, as I always thought, that I would see the Lord when I experienced a change of nature; and if I had done so the night previous, why had not my hopes been confirmed? Doubts began to arise, and my mind felt as if it could not be satisfied until it had the assurance from the Lord's own voice of its entire emancipation from the bondage of sin. Then it came to my mind, that "Thomas was of a doubtful nature, and would not be convinced until he had put his finger in the holes of His hands and thrust his hand into His side; yet He did not cast him off." Then I thought I would pray, and try and get free from such harrassing doubts and fears. I worked that day without eating any thing, and prayed that my doubts and fears might be removed. When I went in at night I asked my wife how she felt.
She replied, "I feel as if God had made peace with my soul." She then asked me how I felt.
I told her that I was like doubting Thomas; that I had doubts and fears that my peace was not complete.
"Whether you are right or wrong," said she, "pray to God."
This I told her I had done, and found no relief; but I still continued to pray.
The next morning, as I was going to my work, I went through the woods, with my mind in its agonizing state, praying that the Lord would relieve my doubts. Just as I was going out of the woods, a new feeling came over me. Such perfect peace seemed to take possession of my mind, that I could not realize that I was the same being. I then heard a voice say--
"Spread it wherever you go; for you have, indeed, found it."
This voice appeared to me as if it was from the East, though I was convinced that it was the voice of Jesus. I cried out--
"Thank you, Jesus; I will spread it wherever I go!" and went on rejoicing.
The foregoing experience may seem strange to some persons, and others will say it was imagination; but the sudden change of feeling, the entire banishment of all doubt from my mind, and the plainness with which the voice uttered the charge were to me too unmistakable to be disregarded; and I pen them as a true statement of the manner
in which one of the most important events of my life took place.
When I came to the main road, I met an old colored man, a member of the Presbyterian Church. I told him all about my feelings, and what I had heard, and asked him what he thought of it.
"Well, brother," he said, "I have great hope and faith that it will last beyond the grave."
Before I was through talking to him, an old Free-will Baptist preacher came up to us, and I told him my story, and asked him what he thought of it.
He said, "Go on, baby, go on to the goal."
I went on my way rejoicing.
The next morning, which was the third after my conversion, as I was going to my work, my mind not fully satisfied, but peaceful and happy, and feeling the presence of the Lord, I heard a voice say--
"And yet you will be doubtful."
I drove my axe into a sapling, and fell upon my knees and cried, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
And I heard a voice say, "Watch and pray, or you will be led astray."
I then endeavored to lay hold of the promises. I had often thought of the man with the withered hand; how, when he was commanded to stretch forth his hand, and, by believing, had it made whole. So I tried, by God's help and grace, to imitate his example, and cast all my fears on His
mercy and believe. I then promised the Lord that I would fast and pray one day in every month, and made choice of the last Friday in the month for that purpose; and from that day (in 1837) to the present time have I kept the promise.
It now came to my mind that it was my duty to join some Christian church. Heretofore my entire thoughts had been centered on Jesus alone, and the thought of any church, as a means of my salvation, had never entered my mind; but now I felt the want of sympathy--felt the want of communion. Not being able to read, I resorted to prayer, relying entirely upon God's direction to guide me in the right way. I commenced praying about the first of December, and pleaded with the Lord night and day for some sign which would convince me what course to take. This I continued until the latter part of January, without my mind being settled. One night, at this time, I had gone to bed, and was thinking upon the subject and wondering if I should ever be advised as to what I should do, when a strange feeling came over me, and I was shown a vision.
I was conducted to a large pond of water. There were many people standing on the border of the pond, and in the midst of it were several dead trees. While I was standing there, I heard a voice say--
"When you are baptized, your progress shall be renewed."
The vision departed, and my natural feelings
returned, and I found myself still in the bed. I lay there some time, turning the things I had witnessed over and over in my mind. I did not remember of ever having seen the pond, and the people were nearly all strangers to me. Then I thought I had been asleep and dreamed what I had seen; but I did not feel as if it had been so, as I was not rested in body like sleep leaves you, and the scenes were too forcibly impressed on my mind for a dream. I then began to think what the words I had heard--"When you are baptized, your progress shall be renewed,"--could mean. I knew what baptism meant; for my mother was a Baptist and my step-father was a Baptist minister. I came to the conclusion that the vision was intended to point out to me that I must be a Baptist, and was confirmed in this by having no doubts about it.
I then went to my mistress and told her what I had experienced; also, that I wanted to join the Baptist Church, and asked her for a horse to take my wife and myself to the nearest church, which was ten miles off, at a place called Bean's Creek, as that was the nearest one I knew of.
She gave her consent, and said she knew master would be perfectly willing if he was home; "but," said she, "father tells me there is a new Baptist church starting about five miles from here, and I think it would be better for you to join it, as you can go to church oftener then."
The first Sunday in February there was a meeting
at this church. My wife and myself went, and at the proper time gave our intention and experience. We were both received. It is required that slaves shall have a certificate from their masters before they can become members; but mistress and master's father were there. Mistress gave her consent for Matilda and myself, and master's father gave his for his son, who was absent at that time.
Deacon Woods moved that we be put on probation for baptism, which was agreed to by a unanimous vote. He then asked the candidates if they would be baptized the first Sunday in March. To this they all gave their consent, nothing hindering. It was then announced that there would be baptizing at that church on the first Sunday in March. By this it had a month's circulation.
We all met at the church on the first Sunday in March. The minister preached a powerful sermon on the subject of Baptism; after which we all retired to the water, which was a pond a short distance off. When we arrived there, Elder Smith inquired of the members--
"Can any man forbid water for those who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"
There was not a single voice raised against it.
I was surprised, on coming to the pond, to find it the very one which I saw in my vision; and as I lifted up my eyes there, I beheld the people standing on the shores, and there were the dead
trees, all of which I saw so plain, and yet I have no recollection of ever seeing them before.
When the minister was ready to baptize us, I took my wife's hand, and we three went down into the water together. He then took my hands and joined them together and said--
"My dear brother, upon the confession of your faith, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
Then my wife was baptized in the same manner. When we came up out of the water, we were met by our brothers and sisters, who bid us God speed. We were the first baptized in that pond, and from that circumstance, it was called Israel's pond, and probably bears that name at this day.
Many have been surprised to hear of my giving in such an experience with such a limited education as I had received, and still more so when I tell them that I never heard any one give their experience and never saw any one baptized. But as I look back upon those days, I can see the hand of God working out my salvation, and, like John the Baptist, I received my knowledge from above. Then could I sing that beautiful song of Zion:
"How lost was my condition, till Jesus made me whole!
There is but one Physician that can cure a sin-sick soul;
Next door to death He found me, and snatched me from the grave,
To tell to all around me His wond'rous power to save.
"The worst of all diseases is light, compared with sin,--
On every part it seizes, but rages most within;
`Tis palsy, plague, and fever, and madness all combined,
And none but a believer the least relief can find.
"From men of skill in their profession I thought a cure to gain;
But this proved more distressing and added to my pain;
Some said that nothing ailed me, some gave me up for lost,--
Thus every refuge failed me and all my hopes were crossed.
"At length this great Physician, how matchless is His grace,
Accepted my petition and undertook my case,
First gave me sight to view Him, for sin my eyes had sealed,
Then bade me look unto Him,--I looked and I was healed.
"A dying, risen Jesus, seen by the eye of faith,
At once from danger frees us, and saves the soul from death;
Come, then, to this Physician, His help He'll freely give,
He makes no hard condition, 'tis only look and live."
Truly can I bear testimony to His skill, for He found me dead in trespasses and sins, and I now feel restored to life, and through His grace, my sins are all washed away. And now I wish to proclaim to men what efficacy there is in His cross; how, if they come to Jesus, humble and repentant, He will send them away rejoicing, singing a new song. Although I had to work hard during the day, at night I would walk several
miles to attend prayer-meetings. We would sing and pray there until near midnight.
Sometimes the patrols would come in upon us, and if any of us were found without passes, they would give us a few stripes. We freely rejoiced that we were called upon to suffer for Jesus' sake.
I continued on in this way for eighteen months, when one day, as I was working in the field alone, I heard a voice say--
"You must preach the gospel."
I thought the voice was from heaven, and I answered it, "Lord, the Scriptures say that in the last days there will arise false prophets, and will deceive the very elect if possible; and if I try to preach, I will be called a false prophet."
Then I heard another voice say--
"Hell may rage and events may spite, but Christ will have his own delight."
I then began thinking what a message I had received from heaven, and how I was going to comply with its demands. I wondered if any person would believe me if I told my story; and then I thought that I could not preach, and I need not tell it. But I was so impressed with what I had heard, that I found it impossible to rid my mind of it. I could not read, and I knew very little except what God had revealed to me, and I felt, like Jonah, that, had I been my own master, I would have fled to some other part of the globe. This feeling of doubt, rebellion, and unworthiness
so increased, that I thought I would tell my wife my state of mind and feelings.
She replied, "Why, I am afraid if you should try to preach, you would make such a bad out, that all the people would laugh at you, and that would hurt my feelings."
I told her, "That was just what I thought of myself; but so troubled in mind have I been, that I thought I would ask your advice."
"Well," she replied, "I would not mind it if you could only read."
I did not feel any relief, although I was to church every Sunday and prayed day and night for nearly three weeks. About this time I went to the Cumberland Meeting, and heard a man named Mr. Ogden preach. His text was in the third chapter of the First Epistle of St. John, first verse: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God."
I listened very attentively to the sermon, and enjoyed it very much; and I thought I could see through it as well as the preacher. I felt that I could preach now from that text. When I went home, I told my wife what I had heard, and that I thought I could preach from that text.
"Well, my husband," she said, "I shall not put a straw in your way, and I will pray for you all I can; so just do as seemeth to you best. If the Lord has called you, He will surely be with you
and enable you to do the work which He has set for you."
After this, I continued praying for nearly two weeks more, when, one Saturday evening, the pastor of our church came to our house. Our white people thought a great deal of him. He was a colored man. His name was Cyrus Chin. He was going to a meeting four miles distant.
Mistress Eliza called me to her and told me to tell Matilda to set Uncle Chin a good supper, and if she has not such things as she wants, tell her to come to me and get them.
I thanked her for her kindness, and told Matilda what she had said.
While Uncle Chin was eating his supper, mistress called me and asked me if I would not like to go down to Mr. Wood's with him to attend church?
I replied, "I would like to go very much.
She said, "You can go, and can have my horse and your master's saddle. You can stay all night, but be home early in the morning, as I want you to drive the carriage to church for me."
I thanked her, and prepared to go. Uncle Chin seemed greatly pleased at having company, and we had a very pleasant ride. The meeting opened with singing and praying. The state of the church was then inquired into, and was found to be harmonious and prosperous. Uncle Chin then preached a sermon and called on me to pray, after which the meeting was dismissed. After
meeting, Uncle Chin and myself walked out of the church together, and I told him what I had experienced.
He said, "Brother Israel, this is what I have been listening to hear for some time. I have thought ever since you was baptized the Lord had a work for you to do."
The next Sunday we met at another meeting-house, and Uncle Chin told the church about my call for the ministry. They were all glad to hear the news. He then asked as many as were in favor of my going forth to sing, pray and exhort until I could have some knowledge of the gift that God had given me would raise their right hand. Every person in the house, except myself, raised their hands. Henceforward my life was changed.
"FROM purity of thought all pleasure springs,
And from an humble spirit all our peace."
I NOW commenced the duty assigned me; and no sooner had I entered on my course, than my griefs and burthen were removed. The cloud that hung over me was dispersed, and I found that it was pleasant to wait on the Lord. I was glad when Sundays came, that I could travel from place to place and hold meetings. It is true that I could not read, but I seldom found myself at a loss for a word to say. Sometimes the children would read to me, and at other times Mistress Eliza would read for me. Having a good memory, I could remember nearly every thing they read. Getting the chapter and verse, the words would occur to my mind as though I had them before me.
My labors were attended with much success. Often have I walked ten miles on Sundays, and attended meetings morning, afternoon and night. I felt it to be a great pleasure to wait upon the Lord. There was much talk in the settlements about my preaching; and crowds of people came together, both white and colored, to hear my sermons. There was a movement started amongst
the slave-owners, at one time, to buy me, so that they could keep me to preach to their slaves; but, from some cause, it was never accomplished.
My life during that summer was spent in preaching and exhorting from place to place. That my master would lose nothing, I got him to consent that I might pay him for the time lost in my travelling, and I then got work wherever I could to enable me to do so.
One afternoon in the following autumn, a lady came to my house and wished me to hold a meeting at her house. She said that her sister and herself had become deeply concerned for the welfare of their souls, and wished me to come and pray for them.
I told her that I had an engagement at Colonel Lewis' on the night she wished me to come; but if they would wait until I could get there, I would be glad to attend her request. I was perfectly willing to give half the night to the Lord. I attended both meetings, and the Lord abundantly blessed my labors.
One day I went into a shoemaker's shop and asked what they would charge me for the uppers and soles for a pair of shoes.
They told me, "Half a dollar."
I bought them and then bargained with the proprietors to learn me shoemaking. I was soon able to make good boots and shoes. I could then work and study how I could best serve the Lord.
Having got through my probationary period, I
was called upon by the brethren to preach what was called my trial sermon, so that the church could judge whether my theology was sound and such as could be approved.
The sermon was thought all correct, and I was given the commission to "Preach the gospel whenever opportunity offered."
My wife labored with me, and so hard did she labor, that her health began to fail. She endeavored to imitate Phoebe of old, and was a beacon-light to the church.
During my ministry at this time, Mistress Eliza became very greatly concerned for the welfare of her soul. She often conversed with me on the subject, and asked me to pray for her. I told her that she must pray to the Lord for His grace and direction, and for His Holy Spirit to guide her into all peace, and that I would take the case to the Lord and plead for her.
It was not many weeks after this that I had the pleasure of seeing her visit the church, heard her give her experience, and saw her go down into a watery grave, to rise again with Christ. She chose her own hymn to be sung, and I took such a liking to it, that I was able to sing it at my meeting the next Sunday. I have not been able to find it in any hymn-book at the North, and I will repeat it:
"Despise me not, my carnal friends,
Lest you despise my Lord;
He bids me in the water go,--
I will obey His word.
"Christ is the Bishop of my soul;
He meekly did appear,
And was baptized in Jordan's stream
By John, his harbinger.
"The watery grave I have in view
He bids me hasten in;
To all the world I bid adieu,
To reign with Christ, my King.
"And shall I now refuse to do
What He has enjoined on me?
No, I will, through grace, His cross bear,
And His disciple be.
"Indeed, dear Lord, I put my trust,
With all I have or own,
Hoping that Thou wilt raise this dust
To praise Thee on Thy throne."
When the hymn had been sung and she had come up from the water, she clasped her husband around the neck and said--
"My dear, won't you go with me to glory?"
This caused old master to shed tears, and it was not many weeks after that master followed her footsteps. Soon after, his oldest daughter made profession of the faith. This made twelve of us, (including seven of the boys who had been baptized,) all belonging to one church.
"INDUSTRIOUS habits in each bosom reign,
And industry begets a love of gain."
* * * * *
"Once more we meet on earth,
So changed the form, the features,
That e'en a mother's eagle eye
Detects not the traces of her long-lost son,
Till trembling voice and anxious eye
Recalls old scenes, and says, 'Tis he."
ABOUT this time, master bought a large farm, about two miles from Winchester, on Boiling Creek. There was a brick house on the farm, the upper rooms of which had never been finished. He hired two plasterers to complete it, and I had to wait on them. One day, while they were away, I thought I would try my hand at plastering, and finished the top rooms, which pleased my master so much, that when the men returned, he went with them. When they came to the room I had plastered, master remarked that they were getting along finely. But neither of them remembered plastering the room. As I was the only one who waited on them, master asked me if I knew any thing about it.
I told him, "Yes, sir."
Master burst into a laugh, and said, "Mr. McNeal, I fear Israel will steal your trade."
The other gentleman, Mr. Menear, said, "If he can do such work as this, I will give you eighty dollars for him until Christmas."
"Well, Israel," said master, "can you work with Mr. Menear and learn the trade?"
I hesitated about answering.
Master added, "You can make considerable for yourself and something for me."
I still hesitating, he promised me that I might go to see my relations in Kentucky if I accepted this offer. I thought this too good an offer to be slighted, and consented. I worked with them until Christmas.
There was nothing said about my visit to Kentucky until after the next summer's harvest, and the wheat and oats were all taken care of. I then went to master and reminded him of what he had promised me.
"Well," said he, "I must be as good as my word," and he wrote me out a pass, to return in eighteen days, and told me which of the horses I could take, and borrowed Dr. Fitzpatrick's saddlebags, in which I carried my provisions. I also bought a new suit of clothes and a broad-brimmed hat. My wife baked me some cakes and one or two chickens, and I started for Kentucky.
Just at dark the first day I halted at a tavern, and, hailing the landlord, asked him if I could get lodgings there that night.
He replied in the affirmative, and asked me to alight.
I dismounted my horse, took off my saddlebags, and started in the house, the landlord walking beside me. He called a boy to take care of my horse.
When I got in the tavern, I noticed a Methodist minister sitting in the room we entered; and, as I learned, they were going to commence the camp-meeting the next morning just across the road from the tavern. I thought I would pass off as a white man, and I did not take off my hat, which excited the curiosity of the minister, and I noticed him and the landlord talking together soon after. I did not hear what they said, but in a little while the landlord walked across to near where I was sitting, and asked--
"Who do you belong to?"
I answered him very quickly, "I work with Mr. Garner, sir," and I acted as if I was greatly insulted.
He asked me if I had had my supper.
I told him I had.
After sitting there a little while, I told him I would like to go to bed, and he called one of the boys and told him to light me to my room. The next morning I was up about an hour before day, called for my horse and bill and rode off.
As I was riding along this day, I came to a peach tree, which was almost breaking with its load of fruit, and I filled my pockets. There
were several men in the adjoining field, who I did not see; but when they saw me take the peaches, they thought they would have some sport; so they mounted their horses and rode after me. When they caught up to me, one of them said--
"Where did you get them peaches?"
"Off of that tree yonder, sir."
"Who gave you permission to take them?"
"I did not see anybody near by to ask, sir; and as the tree was almost breaking, I thought there could be no harm in taking a few of them."
They, seeing they could not scare me, rode on.
The next day, as I was riding by a blacksmith-shop, the sun being pretty hot, I hoisted my umbrella. There were several men standing there. One of them threw a stone at me. I stopped and said--
"My good fellow, if there is a Justice near here, I will have you arrested."
They did not say any thing, and I rode on.
Several other incidents occurred in my journey, which, while they were amusing, may not interest the reader.
About this time I arrived at the house of a family of colored people I had known in Mississippi. I rode up to the gate, and hoisted my umbrella, as the sun was very hot. The old lady was sitting in the door, with watermelons on either side of her, which they had for sale. Wishing to see if they would recognize me, I halted and exchanged compliments.
The old lady asked me if I did not want to buy a watermelon.
"How do you sell them?" I asked.
"Some fourpence, some sixpence, and some ninepence."
I got off my horse and fastened him. The old lady told her daughter to hand me a melon. She brought me two for my choice and handed me a chair. I was not in a hurry about cutting the melon, for I wanted something more substantial first, and I knew that when they recognized me, any thing they had would not be too good for me. So I began a conversation by asking Aunt Betsey if there were any religious people about there?
"Yes, sir," she answered, "some few."
Aunt Betsey thought she recognized my voice; and, had I taken off my hat, she would have known me immediately. At length she asked--
"Ain't this Brother Israel?"
I answered, "No; this is as fair a white man as there ever was," and I lifted my hat, and she knew me at once. She kissed me, and we rejoiced together over our meeting. After dinner, I bid them farewell, and went on towards my mistress' father's. The next day I got within twenty miles of where my mother lived, and the next day reached her residence. It was the same place I had left when I was twelve years old. The first person I saw was one of my young mistresses, and I asked her if there was a lady living there by the name of Aunt Nelly.
She said there was; and then turned to the kitchen and called my mother, telling her that there was a gentleman who wished to see her.
When she came to where I was, she bid me good-day.
I then began asking her about her children,--if she had sons named Daniel, Washington, Nelson and Abraham, and daughters, one of whom was living in Illinois, Eliza and Nancy?
She said she had; and, in answer to my questions about them, I learned that Daniel was living in Hopkins County with Mistress Sally, old master's widow; that Washington had been sold to a man in St. Louis; that Nelson was sold to a man in Illinois; and that Abraham was living with Mistress Sally. The daughter who was living in Illinois had been to see her the week before I arrived. Eliza was living on the Red River with old master's son Samuel, and Nancy had been sold to a Baptist minister by the name of Morrison, who lived about five miles the other side of Morganfield.
I at last asked her if she had a son named Israel?
Whether my voice changed, or whether she had noticed a resemblance before, I do not know; but she looked up in my face and said--
"Yes, and this is he."
Then we had a happy greeting. Mother was so rejoiced at seeing me, that she could not contain her feelings, and began praising the Lord for His
wonderful loving kindness,--that the dead is alive, and the lost is found. "The Lord has sent my dear son back to see me once more!"
So loud was her rejoicing and crying, that she alarmed the white people, and they came out to see what was the matter.
Mother had changed very little since I saw her last, only age had made deeper furrows on her cheeks; but the same form, eye and manners still remained as of old.
We then went toward the house, mother still crying and rejoicing. She went up to the people who had come out and said--
"The Lord has answered my prayers. I have went to this stump and prayed to the Lord to let me see him once more, and the Lord has answered my prayers."
My horse was then put away, and I made myself at home. After dinner, mother went with me to see Master Lucius Devaull. Mother did not go up to the house with me, but waited a short distance off. None of them knew me. I asked for Mr. Devaull, and was invited in and asked to take a chair. Mr. Lucius was not at home. I then asked his wife if they had not at one time owned a yellow boy named Israel?
She said, "Yes, sir, is this him?"
She was very glad to see me, and called her daughter Mary, who went almost wild when she recognized me. After talking awhile on old times and how things were getting along at present,
I went into the woods to see my Uncle Washington, who was making rails. He did not recognize me. I made myself known. He was very glad to see me, but he was in great trouble at this time. His wife had been taken from him and sold in a distant part of the country; and so much did it affect him, that he could not be comforted, and was morose and melancholy.
" 'Tis hard to part with those we love,
Even by the cold hand of death;
With double force the arrow's driven,
When living, of them bereft."
The next day I saw my youngest brother. He was quite a small boy when I left; but now he was larger than myself, and it hardly seemed possible, for a day or two, that he could be my brother.
On Saturday my uncle and mother went with me across to Illinois to see our relations living there. We had to have a pass to cross over the Ohio River; and, as master was away, one of the young men copied the one master wrote for and signed it. We found them all well. Mother introduced me as a Baptist minister. We sat there some time talking of different things, but neither my sister nor brother recognized me. At length my mother asked them if they did not know their brother?
"Yes," said my sister, "you told us he was a brother Baptist."
My mother said, "But this is one of your own brothers,--one of my own sons."
They could not tell who I was, however, until mother informed them. Then we had renewed greetings. My sister shook my hands and kissed me, so glad was she to see me. "She never," she said, "expected to see me again in this world."
The next day being Sunday, they had a meeting, and they asked me to preach for them. My text was the history of Joseph. I compared his case to my own,--our being sold from our parents and leading many weary years in slavery, from which, while he had gone to his rest, I was yet to be delivered; but I felt that God would, in His own good time, bring all things to pass for the best.
They thought I had given them a very interesting sermon. Some of my free friends wanted me to keep on to Canada.
I told them no; that I was my master's trusted hand, and my mother would not listen to any such proposition. I told them that I hoped to be able to buy my freedom before a great while.
"WHAT plaintive sobs thy filial spirit drew!
What sorrow choked thy long and last adieu?"
* * * * *
"By watchful danger, by unceasing toil,
The immortal mind rises superior to its fate."
WE now returned to Kentucky, and my time having nearly expired, I started for Tennessee, after having bid all good-bye and received my mother's blessing. Shortly after I got home, I received a letter from my mother, in which she stated that my brother-in-law in Illinois and his son had embraced religion, and dated his first impressions to the sermon I preached while there.
This was in 1839. He ever after lived a devoted and consistent Christian life, and departed to his heavenly home about eight years since, rejoicing in the hope of resting from his labors. His son became a minister of the gospel, and is still magnifying his office in some part of the Western States.
It is now a great encouragement to know that God has blessed my labors abundantly, and I pray that I may continue in His guidance and protection till I am called from these earthly
scenes and labors to praise Him with the angels who stand around the great white throne.
* * * * *
There was near Winchester a young man named Vicks, who had a very pretty bay mare, which was afflicted with the big head. He offered to sell her to one of the members of the church for ten dollars. So, with master's consent that I should buy her, I gave the money to the person and they made the bargain for me. I put her into the hands of a horse-doctor to cure. In a few months he returned her to me sound and healthy. Soon after that she had a fine colt. At one time during my bondage I owned as many as eight horses at one time, and bought and traded with master the same as with any other man, and always consulted him when I was either buying or trading. I was now in possession of about six hundred dollars, and was making and saving every dollar I could, with the view of buying my freedom.
During all the time before spoken of I continued my meetings around the neighborhood. One Saturday night I held a meeting at home in my own house.
There lived near by master's a man named Sharp, who, as they were both Democrats, was a great friend of master's. On this night he told his boys they must husk out several wagon-loads of corn that had been hauled in that evening. Now, the boys knew that I was going to hold a meeting, and wished to come to it. So they
husked until their master went to bed. They then left the corn unhusked, and came over.
Sunday morning, Mr. Sharp, seeing that they had not obeyed him, took them to task about it, and asked them why they had not husked out the corn.
They told him they went over to Mr. Garner's to meeting.
He asked them who preached, and they told him I did.
"Well," said he, "I will have these nigger meetings broke up."
He saw my master in a few days, and they talked the matter over, and Mr. Sharp influenced him to stop my preaching.
One night when I made the fire, master said to me, "Israel, I will have to stop your preaching. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction in the neighborhood. People say they cannot keep their hands home to do any thing when you preach. [He here instanced the case of Mr. Sharp.] So you must not preach any more."
I did not say yea or nay. I had an appointment or two out at that time, and I studied over in my own mind whether it was best to obey my Heavenly Father or my master. After thinking the matter over for some time, I concluded I would continue to preach if I had to take a whipping every Monday morning.
Sunday morning, while master was eating his breakfast, I mounted my horse and attended one
of my meetings as usual. I returned on Sunday night. On Monday morning there was nothing said. Seeing that master did not seem to care whether I continued on or not, I kept all my engagements, except the one I had made for the meeting at my own house. So one night I went to master and told him I hoped he would not stop my preaching; that I thought it very hard that I should be stopped in my religious duties altogether. I told him that I always loved to obey his orders, and I was now placed in a difficult position,--I had either to disobey God or him. God had told me to proclaim His gospel, and he had forbidden me.
Mistress Eliza being present, then spoke. She said, "I think it is very hard that Israel should be debarred from preaching on account of what other people say. I think Mr. Sharp should have his negroes under his control so that they will obey his orders; and if he has not, let him and they settle it, and not stop Israel from preaching."
Master sat silent during the whole conversation, nor did he give any opinion; but I knew from his remaining quiet, that he would not oppose me. So I commenced holding my meetings at home again.
Master's brother was a determined infidel, and had no regard for religion. He often threatened that if he caught me preaching, he would cowhide me, and had tried to get master to stop me before Mr. Sharp spoke to him, which, no doubt, made
him backward in giving me direct permission to continue.
My troubles increased thick and fast at this time. Hardly had I settled about my preaching before my wife was taken from me. She had been sickly for three years, and had three skilful physicians attending her, but they did not seem to relieve her much. Before she died, she sent for some of the brethren of the church to come and see her for the last time. She said to them--
"Brethren, there are two kinds of religion,--one kind will only serve you while you live on earth; the other will serve you after death and enable you to reach the heavenly shore. Brethren, I want you all to prove faithful to me and meet me in glory; for I feel, brethren, that I have that faith which will save me. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, and the Lord has prepared a crown for me, and has sent His messenger to call me from this life to meet Him in glory."
With these words, she departed to a better home,
"Where the wicked cease from troubling,
And the weary are at rest."
This was a trying time with me. The loss of my first child I had considered almost unbearable; but now the dearest object I had on earth was taken from me, and I truly felt desolate and alone. I felt that death would have been preferable to
living without her. Yet I prayed, "Not my will, but Thine be done!" On her part, I felt it was a better change. Here she had seen trouble and affliction, and for three years had disease bowed her frame, and she experienced pain which, but for her Christian hope and resignation, would have bowed her to the earth with groaning and complaining. But now she had gone "to receive her crown," to meet her child, "and to sing the loud anthem of praise around her Saviour's throne of "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."
"PRESUMPTUOUS fear! How durst I dread my foes,
While nature's loudest dictates I obeyed!"
MASTER now bought a large farm at the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, of some eleven hundred acres. His brother-in-law helped him to supply it with slaves. At his suggestion, master hired an overseer. My time being so much taken up with preaching, I was not willing to undertake the charge.
The man he chose had been an overseer in the settlement, and had got a great name for being a good ruler of negroes. He took charge of the farm, and things went on very nicely for a time. At length Mr. Bass thought he would show his authority, and began with myself. My preaching sometimes calling me a distance from home, very often I was not able to reach home on Monday morning before eight and nine o'clock, when I would go and tell master what detained me, and all was right.
Mr. Bass, however, said I must be home by daylight. This I done when I could. One morning I was detained, and did not get home. It happened that one of the neighbors had asked Bass to help them punish one of their negroes,
who had rebelled. When he came back he walked up to me and asked me what time I got home.
I told him.
He then commenced railing at me, and repeated what he had told me.
I informed him how master had always done, and commenced telling him what had detained me.
"Don't you tell me about your master," said he; "I am master now."
We had words over it for some time, but he did not attempt to strike me; for, although he was rather heavier than myself, I had made up my mind that he should not whip me.
About this time master left home to attend the Legislature at Nashville, to which he was a representative. Mr. Bass had got young master and mistress both on his side, and they made up their minds, now that master was likely to be away for some time, to punish me severely. They had every thing arranged: that the fire was to go out and that I was to build it, and while I was so doing, they were to overpower and tie me and then give me one hundred and fifty lashes.
The little kitchen-girl, however, overheard them concocting their plans, and came to the wood-pile where I was cutting wood and told me what they said. There were three of us cutting wood, and we agreed that if he came out there and undertook to whip me, we would all jump on him and whip him almost to death.
I continued chopping wood until they got tired waiting, when Mr. Bass came out on the porch and said--
"Israel, why do you not come and make the fire for your mistress?"
"I'm chopping wood for it, sir," I replied.
He then went in the house; but, getting tired of waiting, he again came out and called me.
I told him I could make the fire without his telling me.
This provoked him, and he told me to come in immediately.
I then told him that I knew why he was so anxious to get me in, and that I had done nothing for him to whip me for. I said that I was willing to do any thing he wished me to do; but that master was away, and I was going to take care of myself.
He then came to the wood-pile, and said that he would stay there while I made the fire.
I then shouldered a back-log and carried it in. Mistress was sitting in a chair, and looked very black and displeased. Thinks I, "You have all got the d--l in you to-night, and I am going to leave;" so I went to the wood-pile and commenced picking up another turn of wood, as if I was going back into the house. Mr. Bass then moved off and went in. I went round to my cabin, got my overcoat and went down into the meadow. After awhile I heard Mr. Bass call Isaac to come
and make the fire. Said he, "Israel is not going to do it."
I said to myself, "No, indeed, I ain't."
I knew that if I went to the house, there would be another fight the next morning, or a foot-race. So I got up the next day and fed my hogs. After I had done this, I started away from the house. I saw him coming after me. He called to me to stop. He came up to me and said--
"Did you make a fire for your mistress last night?"
"No, sir," I replied.
"Why not?" asked he.
"Because you wished to get me in the house and whip me; and I am not going to be whipped, for I have done nothing to be whipped for," I replied.
"Well," said he, "I am going to whip you this morning; and if you do not cross your hands, I will kill you."
Now, I was on about equal grounds here, for I had a double-barrelled pistol heavily loaded, besides a large bowie-knife, and he had no arms with him.
"Well, sir," I replied, "you may kill me, but I will not die first."
I could see the very old Lucifer was in him, and he was chewing his tobacco as savage as he could. I broke off from him in a slow run, not with a view of running off from him, but of getting him off from the house. He ran after me
and pulled out a pocket-knife about as long, handle and blade, as my hand. I kept ahead of him until I thought I had him far enough, so that I could give him a good whipping before he could get any help. Then I drew out my bowie-knife and began flourishing it around, and said--
"Burst your low-lived head! Here's death, right now!"
Seeing this, he thought his end had come; but he tried for his life, and ran for the house as fast as his legs would carry him. There was a gate to go through to get into the yard, but he did not stop to open it, but made a leap over it and cried, "Murder! murder! Shoot him!" at the top of his voice.
I did not follow him any further; but while I was after him, I scared him so badly, that he looked as white as any man I ever saw, although he was half-African and was naturally very dark-skinned.
I have, when relating this incident in my preaching, sometimes illustrated it with the supposition that man, being taken from the earth, was naturally dark-skinned, or the color of the earth, and that his fright in the expulsion from Eden changed him to a whiter color; and that Cain might have been of the same color, but that the awful curse of his Maker after his atrocious murder of his brother so frightened him, as to turn him entirely white, and he nor his posterity never after resumed the original color.
I do not give this as an argument; but certain it is, that on this day I frightened a half-white man so badly, that his color changed as white as the generality of white men. I have never had any reason to doubt the probability, or at least the feasibility, of the illustration; for if the fear of man should turn a half-dark man white, would not the presence of the Great Judge and the awful sentence pronounced upon Cain be sufficient to turn an entire-black man the same color?
Leaving Mr. Bass at the barn, I went around to where Mansfield and Isaac were at work, and asked them whether they thought it was best to stand fight, or go to the woods.
Mansfield said, "Mr. Bass' brother-in-law and cousin are at the house, and I think you had better go to the woods."
I took his advice and started for the woods. I had about half a mile to go before I could reach it. When I was nearly through the field, I looked back and saw the overseer, his brother and my young master, with the dogs and a gun, after me. I put fresh courage to the task, determined to make my escape, if possible. Just as the dogs came up to me, a rabbit started. I took after it, and hissed the dogs on. They took the scent and left me. The overseer and his party, seeing that I had diverted the dogs, gave up all hopes of catching me, and went back.
I remained in the mountains till after sunset, and while they were at the stables feeding, I went
down to my cabin, got one of the girls to bake me some biscuit and fry a good lot of meat, for I always kept plenty to eat in my cabin. I took this and went into another settlement about twelve miles from home. There I remained among my slave friends for some time, making brooms, shuck horse-collars and mats. Then I went back home and got all the news I could. I learned that master had not returned, and I went to another settlement. This I continued until master returned from Nashville. I then went to one of his brothers-in-law and got him to go home with me. After staying there over night, the next morning we started for home. When we reached there, master was all alone, reading the newspaper. When I went in where he was sitting, he rose up, shook my hand, and seemed greatly pleased.
"Well, Israel," said he, "you seem like a boy given to me, for I never expected to see you again."
"Oh, no, sir. I had no intention of running away from you, sir. I only ran away to keep Mr. Bass from whipping me, which he seemed determined to do while you was away."
When Mr. Bass found out that I had returned, he saw master and tried to get him to let him whip me.
Master called me and told me that Mr. Bass said that we could not work in the same field without he could have the satisfaction of whipping me.
"Well, sir," I said, "you can sell me, then."
"No, I shall not do that. I have land enough for you both to work on; and if you cannot get along peaceably in the field, you can stay here at the house, and work in the garden and drive the carriage," he replied.
"Yes, sir, I shall be pleased if I can do that," said I.
Master was a man of very few words, and after we were through talking, I went down to my cabin.
On the afternoon of my return, mistress also got home. She seemed very glad to see me, and appeared in much better humor than she was on the morning I left home.
One day, a week or so after, master called me, and said--
"Israel, you ought to ask Mr. Bass' pardon for drawing that knife on him and scaring him so badly."
I told master I would, as I loved to do any thing he wished.
At night, when Mr. Bass came in from the field, I went to him and said--
"Mr. Bass, I want to ask your pardon for drawing my knife on you."
He began to chew his tobacco rapidly, and said, "Israel, Israel, I do not know how to forgive you. I never was frightened so badly in my life."
I walked away, leaving him there talking, not caring much whether he granted my request or
not, although I wished to be in charity with all men. I did not feel that I was wrong, and felt that if there was any pardon to be granted, I was the offended party. But this I knew would not be done, and I asked his only to please master. This seemed, however, to satisfy Mr. Bass; and two days after, master told me that I could go into the field to work, where every thing went on as well as could be wished.
Shortly after the time of which we have been speaking, Mistress Eliza received a letter from her father, stating that her step-mother was dead, and had left two little girls. Her husband thought they ought to take one of them, at least, and take care of her, as mistress was the only daughter her father had by his first wife. So they concluded to pay her father a visit.
They were making arrangements to go in the buggy alone. I thought it would be a good opportunity to visit my mother and relations if I could get to go with them. So I spoke to master about it, and told him he ought to take a waiter along with them; and if he would let me go, I would either bear my expenses or lose the time. We agreed that I should go, and that master was to bear the expenses, and I was to lose the time, and he was to let me go and see my mother and relations.
All arrangements being made, we started, master and mistress in a covered buggy and I on horseback. I waited on them until we got to her
father's, when master gave me a pass for the remainder of my journey. I had quite a pleasant visit. I preached several times for them in Shawneetown, Illinois, and twice in Union County, Kentucky, where my mother lived. My friends in Illinois persuaded me hard to go on to Canada.
I told them I could not; that I did not wish to run away; but that I expected to buy my liberty in a short time.
They all wished to know how much it would cost me.
I told them that I thought I could gain it for about six hundred dollars.
They all said they would try and help me to raise that amount.
I was to let them know, when I got home, how much I would have to raise, and whether master would leave me off. I had a brother in St. Louis, who had made considerable money draying, and who had offered to loan my brother in Illinois five hundred dollars if he wished it. He told me that he could get along without it, and that he would try and get it for me on reasonable terms, as my brother thought a great deal of me, and had taken care of me when my mother was taken from me when I was quite young.
I returned to mistress' father's, and we all started back to Tennessee. When we got home, I went around among the churches to see how much I could raise. I told them that I had good offers,
and that I thought, with their assistance, I would soon be a free man.
They were much pleased at the thought of me getting my liberty, but did not wish me to leave Tennessee. So I then settled upon making Tennessee my home, but occasionally visiting my friends in the North.
After I thought all my arrangements were fixed, I saw master and mistress, and stated to them that I would like to be a freeman, and asked them how much they would let me off for.
Master said, "Well, Israel, if you wish to be free, and can give me eight hundred dollars, I will part with you, and you can go wherever it suits you."
I told master that I thought eight hundred dollars was too much. I called to his mind that I had been a faithful servant to him; that he only gave six hundred dollars for me, and got that on a long credit; that I had worked hard and faithfully for him, making his interest my interest.
Master replied that he knew what I said was true; but that he had been offered some large prices for me, and had refused them, referring to those I have related in our trip from Mississippi. "In fact," said he, "I do not know where I can get another boy that will suit me as well as you do. But if it is any accommodation to you, or you think you will be better off free, I have told you the very best we can do."
I then told him of the conversation of my
friends in Illinois, and that they would help me to raise six hundred dollars, but I did not see how we could possibly get eight hundred dollars.
Then Mistress Eliza asked me what I would do with my children after I was free.
I asked them, "Will you not allow me to buy them after I am free?"
Master then spoke up and said," After you have bought yourself, we will give you a chance to buy your children."
Maria, my oldest daughter, was a sprightly girl, with black eyes and black curly hair. I then intended buying her first. This ended our conversation that time; and I thought I should not be free so soon as I had anticipated, and that I might as well settle down contentedly until a brighter day dawned. Both master and mistress had promised me that I should not be sold to any one else, and at their death I should be free, should I outlive them.
How circumstances change the tastes and feelings of men! When I thought I was almost sure of getting free, every thing in slavery looked cruel and revolting, and I wished to get beyond its iron grasp. But now that my hopes were deferred, I settled down to the conviction that things were not so bad, after all,--that I was well treated, had plenty to eat, allowed a fine riding horse, kept cattle, hogs, chickens, bees, had shoemakers' and carpenters' tools; and I settled down to the conviction
that it would be better for me to remain as I was awhile longer.
During this time I had attended my meetings and preached the same as before. One day, when I came in to dinner, Mistress Eliza was sitting in my house, talking to my wife's mother, who was now quite old. Mistress thought a great deal of her, and always called her granna, but her name was Maria.
Mistress asked me, "Have you given up the idea of giving master eight hundred dollars yet?"
I said, "No, ma'm. I think I can get free for less money than that.
She said that I could never do so while she lived; "but," added she, "if you outlive me, you will get free for nothing."
"The Bible says, Miss Eliza, 'no good thing will I withhold from them that walk uprightly.' "
She laughed and said, "You can trust to that."
There was but little more said after that about me buying my freedom.
Master wished to buy my horse, which, he said, just suited his buggy; but I told master that I did not want to sell him. So he did not urge the matter.
During my spare time, mornings, evenings, and rainy days, I used to make boots and shoes, and would trade them off at the store for dry-goods and groceries, and bring them up in the mountain and sell them to the poor people.
One night I went to Winchester, and the next
day I discovered that my horse was tender-footed, and I had him shod all around. In this way I made and handled a considerable amount of money. All the hands who wished it, had a plot of ground for his own cultivation of two or three acres. One year I raised corn, which was only fifteen cents or a shilling a bushel. So I would shell my corn, and could get a gallon of whiskey for a bushel of corn, and then sell the whiskey for fifty cents a gallon. Some years I would sow it in wheat, which would bring from fifty to seventy-five cents per bushel. I never knew wheat to be worth a dollar but once in that State. At other times I would plant my ground with potatoes, yams and watermelons, which would repay me well. I also made bedsteads, tables, chests, shuck-bottom chairs, brooms, foot-mats, and bread-trays. Should there be a plough or any other utensil or tool broken, I had to mend them. By these means I always had money, and have lent master money a number of times, and he would lend me whenever I asked him. The last time master borrowed from me was the time of the great dinner that was given to General Jackson in Alabama.
During the many years that I lived with Master Garner, he never had to correct me once for not doing work enough; nor did my mistress ever complain of my wife not working as hard as she was able. Although master and myself did have some fallings out when I first went with him, at
the time of which I am speaking we were more like father and son than master and servant. He would most always consult me about his general business, and I would always ask his advice of whatever I was about to do.
One day he told me he would have to sell some of his slaves. He went off one day with that intention. When he came home it was after dark. He called me to take his horse.
"Well, Israel," he said, "I have succeeded in selling my niggers."
"Have you sold me, too, master?" I asked.
"No," said he, "I don't call you a nigger. I consider you a dark-skinned white man," laughing.
The next day he sent them off, father, mother, and eight children. I could not do them any good by saying any thing, so I only bid them good-bye. But I was very sorry to see them go. I afterwards found out the reason why master sold this family was, that the mother had greatly offended Miss Eliza.
Mistress was a thorough-going woman, and had all the slave women under her, except in cotton-picking time, (which was not very long in Tennessee,) and had them spinning, weaving, and doing the house-work. She gave each one a task of four cuts of cotton to card and spin a day to a woman who had a child, and six cuts to a woman without a child. A cut was a reel like a cotton-spool, but much larger, which would hold one hundred and forty-four threads round. The
weavers had to weave from four to eight yards; and if every one did not perform their task, she whipped them. The woman who was sold did not perform her task one day, and Miss Eliza thought, for an example, she must whip her. She knew that the woman might turn against her, and had taken me along with her. She began whipping her, when the woman gave her a push, sending her against the wall, and giving her several bad bruises from the fall. I helped her up, and assisted her into the house. She said she would send and get some white men to whip her.
I persuaded her not to do this, as master was away, and her husband might cause considerable trouble by trying to protect her from strangers.
She took my advice, and waited for master to return, when she told him of her trouble, and he said the best way to settle it was to sell the whole family South; for he had no disposition to be whipping the hands every few days as she wished him. This was the second woman he had sold for turning against her. Although she was so strict, she was kind and humane, and was the best of five different mistresses that I had had, but she would have her rules obeyed.
The last time that master and myself could not agree was about a young woman in our family. There was a young girl about sixteen years old, very pretty, and almost white. It appeared that one of the neighbor's hands had been coming to see her, and that he had a wife at home. I did
not notice any thing of it until his wife came to me complaining about it. She told me about it, and said the girl was trying to take her husband from her.
I told her that I did not think there was any danger of that, and I promised her that I would keep an eye on them.
One Saturday night I went away from home, and returned before day on Sunday morning. I learned from the girl's brother that this man and herself were in one of the slave-cabins alone, and that master and mistress had consented for her to go out with him that night.
I thought I would go over and see if this was true, and, if so, I would attend to him. The girl's brother went with me. When we got to the cabin, I rapped at the door, and asked--
"Who is in there?"
The girl replied, "I am."
I said, "Nellie, are you and Bill Deckard in there together?"
There was no answer.
I then called Bill, and asked him, "Are you in there with Nellie, and got a wife at home?" and told him to come out of there, and I would give him a fair chance. "You shall either whip me or I will whip you."
He would not come out nor open the door. The girl's brother then climbed up on the roof, and he thought we were coming down on him that way, and he made his escape through the window.
I thought I heard a noise in that direction, and went round there just in time to see him make off across the field. I gave him chase; but he being barefooted, and with nothing but shirt and pants on, he kept well ahead of me. As it was a pretty cool morning, and there being a heavy frost on the ground, I had on heavy clothing. Running him about two hundred yards, and seeing that I did not gain any thing on him, I gave up the chase, and returned to the cabin to give the girl a lecture; but I found that she had gone to the house and told her master what occurred.
When I got to the house I saw my master out in the yard.
"Well, Israel, what's going on this morning?" asked he.
"Master, don't you know what is going on?" said I.
"Well, what is it?" queried he.
"Why, here is Bill Decker and Nellie sleeping together."
By this time he had walked to the gate. He opened the gate and said--
"Come in and tell me all about it."
"Why, master, you must know all about it. Nellie is sleeping in the house, and you let her come out to sleep with Bill."
He was inside the gate and I on the outside. I knew that if I went in, he would seize me, and if he got hold of me he would hurt me. He said--
"Won't you come in the yard, sir?"
I replied, "No, master, I cannot come in there."
There was about eight feet between us. He made a spring at me, and I broke from him and started across the field as fast as I could run, and he after me. The race was pretty closely contested. He ran me so close, that I had to drop my cloak. There was a deep creek running through the field, and I determined, that before he should catch me, I would jump in. Near the creek there was considerable gravel and sand, and when I got to this my feet slipped from under me. As I fell I looked back to see where master was, and saw him getting up. We must have both fallen at the same time. My hat fell off, but I did not stop to pick it up. Finally he got tired of running, and seeing my intention, thought there was a poor chance of catching me, and he halloed after me--
"Clear yourself, you scoundrel," and then he went back to the house, taking with him my cloak and hat. He remarked to his wife--
"Well, I have got his dry-goods, anyhow."
I then returned and went in the barn and hid myself in the fodder. I staid there until about one o'clock that day. I then came down and went to the cook's kitchen. She seemed very much frightened, and asked me--
"Are you not afraid to come in here? Master and his brother are both in the house."
I then went to the wood-pile and began chopping wood. I knew they saw me, for I saw his
brother and him both looking at me, but they said nothing to me. I went into the kitchen and got my dinner, but I kept a close eye on them. About an hour before sundown I began driving up my shoats, and fed them. I then went to Winchester and staid there until within about two hours of day. I then went home and made a fire in the house, before master was up. I went on with my work as usual. The third day master saw me, and said--
"Israel, I want you to turn that mare and colt of yours out of the meadow. I cannot afford to keep a riding nag for a gentleman that treats me as you do."
I now knew that the difficulty was settled if I only kept out of his way until his anger was over. So ended our difficulty.
"MORE wretched, then, than ere their slave can be,
Their treacherous blessings, at the day of need,
Like all faithless friends, unmasked, stings."
EVERY thing seemed to be getting along very well at this time. I was making money, working hard and preaching. After I had my horse shod, I bought myself a new saddle, bridle, martingale and collar.
Master noticing these things, thought I was going to run away. I had no such idea, nor had I ever evinced the least disposition in that way. One day, when I had been riving boards, on coming to the house I noticed several men there. This did not particularly surprise me, as company was quite common. After I had eaten my dinner, master came to me and said--
"Israel, bring out the brown mare with the sore foot. I want to put some medicine on it."
When I had brought her to where he was, he said--
"Clean off her hoof."
While I was stooping down, one of the men caught me around the waist. I quickly straightened up, and he relaxed his hold.
I asked him what was the matter?
He said, "Nothing."
"Why did you take me around the waist?"
"These men want you," said he.
"What do they want me for?" asked I.
By this time time another of them came up to me with a rope, and said--
"Cross your hands, Israel."
"What have I done, sir?" I asked, looking him straight in the eye.
"Nothing," said he; "cross your hands."
I then crossed my hands, and he tied me. Then the third man came up to me with another rope, and tied my elbows as far back as he could. The last was the Deputy Sheriff, master's nephew. I could get no satisfaction from any of them as to what I had done, or where I was going; but I felt perfectly independent, for I knew that I had committed no crime, and had always, for ten years, tried to live a Christian life. Nor did I feel any great alarm; for I had had no warning of any thing befalling me, which I always had by a vision when it was of any importance. All I could ascertain from master was, that he had not sold me.
I told him, if he had anticipated sending me away, I wished he would have given me some notice, so that I could have collected the money that was owing to me and settled up my business.
He said, "You will be about here for some time yet. Mr. Tallaway and Mr. Williamson will have
any business attended to for you that you wish."
My little daughter now came to where I was standing; and, crying as if her heart would break, said--
"Papa, what's the matter?"
I told her to go back; that nothing was the matter; and that all would be right soon. But it pained me to see my daughter grieve so hard, as, since her mother's death, she had been my only care.
Master ordered one of the boys to bring my horse and saddle. They assisted me to get on her back, and we rode off to Winchester. As we were riding along, we met the High Sheriff, with whom I was well acquainted. His name was Hayden March. He asked the men what I had done, and what they were going to do with me.
They told him that I had done nothing, and they were going to put me in jail for safe keeping. So they passed on.
Nearly every one we met knew me, and there was a great curiosity to know what I had done; but they could only answer, "Nothing."
When they reached the jail, the keeper was not at home. So one of them staid with me while the other went after him. The jailer was Mr. Williamson, of whom master spoke in reference to settling up my business. He was so completely bloated with liquor that he could hardly see, and his whole features assumed a frightful appearance.
When he came he saluted me, for he was half intoxicated--
"Well, preacher, what in the h--ll did you come here for?"
"I did not come, sir. These gentlemen brought me, sir."
"What did they bring you here for?"
"They have not told me yet," I replied.
"Oh, well, I suppose they brought you here for me to take care of; and, by G--d, I can do it. Well, come, alight," said he.
"I am not prepared to alight. They put me up, and they must take me down," said I.
"You want a waiter, do you? Well, boys, I guess we must help him down."
When we entered the jail they searched and took every thing out of my pockets, and examined my hair, to see if I had a fine saw hidden there, and then put me in a cell. There were two men in the cell into which I was put, a white and a black man. The first night they gave me no bed to sleep on, and the black man offered me part of his, which I accepted.
The next morning, when the jailer brought us our breakfast, he said--
"Israel, what did your master put you in here for?"
I replied, "I do not know, sir."
"Have you no idea?"
"I have not, sir."
"Did you not have your horse shod, and buy a
saddle, bridle, &c.? Your master wanted to buy her, and you would not sell her to him."
I told him all that was true.
"Well," says he, "your master thinks that you were preparing to run away."
"Well, Mr. Williamson," said I, "you tell master to come and see me, and I will soon convince him that I was not going to do any such thing. I have been to a free country, and I could have run away then if I wished to, but I do not want to leave in that way."
Master did not come, and whether Mr. Williamson ever told him I never heard. One of the men that brought me came and got the keys to my boxes. I had one very large one, in which I put my groceries and goods at night. When they went to my cabin to open my boxes and get what money and things I had, they found nothing to take. The slaves, thinking they would capture every thing I had, went there and took all my things away. Miss Eliza said--
"The niggers have been too smart for us."
They were sadly disappointed and chagrined, for they expected to make a good haul.
When I had been in jail a day or two, they put a chain around my ankle and fastened it to the floor, and my bed was prepared near the white man's bed. One day I asked the jailer--
"Is master going to come and see me?"
He said he did not know.
Seeing that there was not much prospect of
their making any effort to find out whether I was guilty or not, I put my wits to work to try and escape. The plan, I adopted was to pretend to have a fit, and make a great noise and get very sick. This plan I began to carry out the following night. About twelve o'clock I commenced hollowing, groaning and shaking my legs, and made a desperate noise, which so frightened the white man, that he called the other man and roused the jailer and told him to bring a light, that Israel had a fit.
When the jailer came in, I was laying flat on my back. My eyes rolled up and I frothed at the mouth. Mitchell, the white prisoner, said--
"He has got a fit or is dying, I don't know which."
The jailer got some camphor, and they rubbed my temples and took the chain off my leg. I trembled and shook, and acted my part well, for I had seen persons have fits. They worked at me for nearly an hour, and I seemed somewhat composed.
The jailer then told Mitchell to call him if I got any worse.
I laid very quiet, however, the remainder of that night. In the morning, when they brought my breakfast, I was very sick, and did not remember any thing that had happened. The jailer saw master that day, and told him I was very sick and had had a very hard fit that night.
Master said, "That's a smart boy. You must watch him. He is only playing sham.
"No," said Mr. Williamson; "I am certain he was sick, and I can easily tell a person who is sick."
"Well," said the old gentleman, "if you think he is very sick, I will send for Dr. Hestel to see him."
Mr. Williamson came and told me what conversation had passed between him and master, and said--
"The doctor will be down here to see you."
Shortly after this, I heard the doctor's voice. I knew he would feel my pulse, and as they had to come through two doors to get into the cell, while they were between the two I hit my elbow hard against the floor to quicken my pulse; for, as I had been so successful in fooling the jailer, I thought I could also fool the doctor, and by that means get out of jail. When he came to where I was laying, I looked very stupid, and talked a little insane. The doctor felt my pulse, and asked me what was the matter.
"You ought to know what is the matter with me," said I in a low voice.
He then told me to put out my tongue. He said I was sick, but not dangerous. After leaving me some medicine, and giving directions that if I was any worse, to let him know, he departed.
This time my plan failed. After taking the medicine, I revived again and eat as usual. The
colored man was taken, which left only the white man and myself in the cell. At this time Mansfield, one of the boys of whom I have before spoken, made a desperate attempt to get me set free.
He had for some time been persuading me to run away to Canada and take him with me. But to this I never would consent. So he now thought that if I could get off, and he be the means, I would comply with his wish. At any rate, he made the attempt.
Master had a son in Winchester, studying medicine, and Mansfield thought he would go there, and, with a bold face, tell his son that his father had sent him to tell him to go to the jailer and tell him to send me home, which he accordingly did.
But Master Thomas asked him if he did not send an order.
"You know master never writes orders," said Mansfield.
"I know he does not care to do it,' said Master Thomas, and up he rose and started off for the jail to let me out.
After he had started out, the gentleman of the house called him back, and they had some private conversation, which Mansfield could not hear.
Master then told Mansfield that he would wait until morning, and then he would take me out, and that he could go to his Uncle Talloway's and stay there that night.
Mansfield saw that he was defeated in his expectations, and that he was in a dilemma. He did not want to go to Mr. Talloway's, and he dare not go back home. So he thought that the best thing he could do was to leave. He remembered, he thought, about the road leading to the Free States, and he intended to try and get there. He went two miles towards home that night, and turned his horse loose, knowing that she would go home. He then went to some of his colored friends and told them all about his difficulty.
They told him of a poor white man who they thought they could get to write him a pass, and the next night they went over to his house.
Mansfield told him that he was going to run away, and that he wanted to go to the State of Illinois, and that, by having a pass, he could travel in the day, instead of the night.
So Jack Norwood said he would write him a good pass for three dollars. He wrote the pass; but instead of putting it as he read it, which was to pass the bearer to Illinois, he wrote--
"This boy is a runaway. Please take him up. To the first man that finds him."
Mansfield gave him three dollars and took the pass. He then went home, dressed himself in his best suit, put saddle and bridle on the same horse he had rode to Winchester, and started off for the Free States.
The next day he was riding along, and was about twenty miles south of Nashville, when he
came to a doggerel, (i.e., a place where the slave-dogs are kept, and the men make a regular business hunting runaway slaves.) One of the men hailed him and asked him who he belonged to, and if he had a pass.
He handed them what he thought was his pass.
They read it, and all burst into a loud laugh. They told him he was a runaway, and that his pass was forged, and that they would have to take him to Nashville and put him in jail. They then made him get off his horse, put it in the stable, and took him in the house. After giving him some dinner, the owner of the establishment began preparing to take him to Nashville. He had sent his team there that morning with his riding horse in it. He ordered two horses to be caught and saddled. One of them they brought was very slow, and the other was Mansfield's own horse. The man told Mansfield to get on the slow one, and he took the other, and off they started.
He remarked to Mansfield, that he need not try to get away, as his horse was the fastest, and he could easily catch him.
When they had rode about eight miles, they met his team, and they took his horse out and put the one Mansfield was on in its place. They then changed horses. Still the man said he had the best horse. They rode on until they came to the city of Nashville.
Mansfield had been there before, and was well acquainted with the manner in which it was built.
When they were near the jail, he gave the man's horse a sharp blow, which sent it off as hard as it could run, while he turned into another street, and after running round two or three squares, made for the Cumberland Bridge. He threw the keeper ten cents for toll, and went as hard as he could across the bridge. When he got to the other side, the keeper called out for them to stop him; that he had run his horse across the bridge, which was five dollars fine. So several men with horses went after him with two or three dogs. After running about two miles, he saw that his horse was failing him, and he got off it and started into the woods, with dogs and men after him. He came to a large pond, and, as it would happen, there was a large log lying in it. In he jumped, and hid himself under the log, with only his head above water. The dogs came down to the pond, but lost his trace where he sprang into the water.
The men came and looked all around the pond. After looking for some time, and as the dogs could get no traces of his track, they took the horse he had rode and went back.
After Mansfield was sure they were out of the way, he came out and went to a colored man's house, where he got something to eat and dried his clothes. Here he staid until the next night, when he started off again. He came to a plantation found the stable, took a saddle and bridle,
caught one of the horses, and armed himself with a heavy club.
He had rode but about twelve miles when his horse's bridle was seized. He instantly knocked that man down, when two other men fired on him and knocked him off his horse and struck him several times afterwards. They then secured him and asked him where he was from and where he was bound.
He told them his story, but they would not believe him. They told him that they had read a notice in the papers of a boy that had fled from Mississippi, and there was three hundred dollars offered for his capture. They were in hopes that he was the boy. However, they took him home that night, and the next day took him to Nashville Jail.
A few days after, a man living in Winchester was at Nashville, and seeing the notice and knowing master, took him out, paid the jail fees, and brought him and the horse both to Winchester, and he was put in the same cell with Mitchell and myself. We three then agreed that whoever got out first should help the others to get out.
Mitchell's trial came on, and he was proven clear of the charge made against him, and that was the last we heard of him.
A few days, however, after he was gone, one of Mr. Sharp's boys came in. He had run away and had been caught and was put in the jail. They took him out after ten days, which again left us
alone. We studied every way to get out. One day I told Mansfield that I had heard master read, when I was quite small, that John Wesley made a fire by rubbing two sticks together. So we thought we would get some sticks, make a fire, fire the jail, and escape in the general confusion. We got a couple of sticks, and I rubbed until I was tired, and Mansfield done the same. This we done for nearly a day, but no fire came, and we gave up this idea.
The next thing that occurred to me was to make my escape while they were bringing in the food; but the chain on my ankle was the great trouble here. I then went to work to get the chain off without being found out, for the jailer examined them every few days. At last I succeeded. One morning the jailer came in with our breakfast, and also brought us a glass of liquor.
He told us that he was going away for a few days, and that he wanted us to be good boys while he was gone, or he would pay us up when he came back. He then examined the chains on our ankles, which proved all right.
After he was gone I took my chain off, and began exercising and rubbing myself down to make me limber and suple. The next morning his son and daughter brought our breakfast. They handed it to Mansfield, as he was the nearest to the door, and while he was taking it, I slipped out.
Of all the hollowing and screaming I had ever
heard, it could not compare with that done by those three women and boy. I had my way picked, and made directly for the Presbyterian Church, which was about thirty yards from the jail, and near that there was a deep gully, (which led to the creek called Boiling Fork,) about eight feet deep, and I jumped into that and made for the creek, which was about a quarter of a mile off. No one could see me in that gully; but the the women's screaming had excited that part of the town so much, that every one was on the lookout. They were so frightened, that they did not attempt to follow nor set the dogs on me, for they had two very severe ones.
I hardly thought, when I attempted it, that I should be successful in getting away, but I made up my mind that I would make a desperate effort. I also thought that if they saw that I was about to get away, they would shoot me; but for this I did not care much, for my life was a misery to me, and I sometimes felt that I had just as leave be dead as alive. As I got near the creek, I saw a party of tanners who were watching for me, having got the alarm. When I got near them, they hailed me to stop. I did not pay any attention to them. One of them threw a stone at me, which hit me on the head and knocked me down. This not stopping me, they all began throwing at me, and I got several pretty severe bruises on my head and body.
I succeeded, however, in reaching the creek, and
just as I was going to jump in, one of the men seized me by the collar and held me, and the jailer's son-in-law came up and struck me on the head with a large stone, and, with an oath, said--
"I will kill you!"
"Well, sir," said I, "kill me; that is just what I want."
After tying me, they took me back to the jail. They put another iron on my ankle and handcuffed my hands. The next day I was quite sick, having received some stunning blows from the men, and was very sore, but laid there without complaining, thinking upon the hardness of my position and fate.
When the jailer returned, they told him about my escape. He came in to see me, and cursed and swore at me, but did not attempt to strike me. One day he came home very much intoxicated, and said he was going to settle with me; but his wife and daughter pacified him, and he put it off.
I felt very miserable in jail. I could find nothing to do, could not preach, was in trouble about my business, and knew that I was in there wrongfully. But when these desponding moments came on me, I always tried to dispel them by that beautiful hymn--
"Oh, that I had some secret friend
To unburden my weary mind;
But here I wander up and down,
And pity never find.
"I feel a stranger, quite unknown,
A son of misery;
None lend an ear to my complaint,
Nor mind my tears and cries.
"None come to cheer me, though I faint,
Nor my vast burthen help to bear;
But soon my journey now will end,
Then adieu to sorrow, sin and care.
"Then oh, my soul, lift up thine head.
With glory and surprise,
And know thy Saviour and thy God
Reigns eternal in the skies."
But when this thought would leave my mind, I would attempt to take my life. I then thought I would try and starve myself to death, and went five days without tasting any thing, and I believe that I should have been able to accomplish my purpose but for the interference of Divine Providence, who sent a kind friend to change my purpose. This was one of my fellow-servants, a woman who was a member of the same church as myself, and a good Christian. Her mistress had sent her to the wool-factory for some wool-rools; but thinking that she would come and see me, told her, before she left home, that she must not go to the jail, as Mr. Williamson would certainly whip her. But she made up her mind to risk it, let her punishment be what it might. Her mistress told her she was going to send her two or three days before she started, and she had baked some biscuit
and pies, and had prepared me a change of clothing and also a comb for my hair.
When she reached the jail, she saw Mr. Williamson, told him who she was and what she had, and asked to see me.
He brought her to our cell. She was quite surprised at seeing Mansfield, as she did not know that he was there. She told us what she had brought us.
Mansfield told her that I was trying to starve myself to death.
She seemed surprised at that, and told me not to think of such a thing,--that there was yet hope. She said she often heard Miss Eliza talk to master about taking me out, and that she did not believe that I wanted to run away. But he said that I was angry on account of my being put in jail, and that, if I did not intend running away before, I would do it now; that he was going to keep me there until he saw a good opportunity of selling me, or until he got his drove made up for Mississippi. She encouraged me with the thought, that even if he did sell me, I might escape and get free still; for she felt that the Lord would provide for me.
I took her advice, and began eating some of the things she had brought me, and afterwards lived as usual.
About this time, master's brother took Mansfield out, and I now made up my mind that I would die before I would contentedly be another
white man's slave; for old master had deceived me, and I could never put confidence in any other; and I made up my mind, that if they undertook to carry me South, I would jump into the river and drown myself. There were only three of my old friends that came to see me during my imprisonment; but many more might have come, only the jailer having the name of being such a mean man, they did not know whether they could get in or not, and were afraid to ask him.
This imprisonment was the worst misery or slavery I had ever seen in this world; but as the darkest hour is just before day, so this imprisonment finally resulted in my freedom. I was in prison from the 1st of March until the 9th of September, 1847. About the 1st of September Mr. Williamson took me out in the hall to get some air, and I promised him I would not try to escape. This he continued for several mornings.
On the 6th they brought Mansfield back. He told me that Braselton was going, in a few days, with a drove to Mississippi, and that we were to join the drove. So I began to think that I should see the sun and stars once more.
Mr. Braselton, a member of the Presbyterian Church, came to the jail, and asked to see me.
Mr. Williamson brought me into the sitting-room.
"Well, parson, you have got to be as white a man as I am."
"Yes, sir," I replied, "they have kept me here
so long that I have become pretty well bleached."
"Why, how long have they had you here?" he asked.
"One hundred and sixty-nine days, sir, I have been shut up from the sun, moon and stars," I replied.
The jailer said that I was correct, and remarked that I must have kept count.
"Well," said Mr. Braselton, "your master tells me that you are the smartest boy he ever saw in his life, and said you knew the way to the Free States, and he thought that the only way to save you was to put you in jail. I have now got my drove ready, and he wants me to take and sell you for him. Now, if you will go with me and help me to sell, I will give you choice of your own master, and I will give you ten dollars in cash when I sell you."
"Mr. Braselton, I have been a faithful servant to my master and mistress. They cast me into prison without the least cause, and I cannot consent to help to sell my fellow-mortals where I cannot follow," I replied.
"Well," said he, "will you go with me, and not try to get away from me?"
I told him I would not if I could help it.
"I shall carry you off in chains, then," said he.
"Very well, sir," I replied, "I cannot help that."
"Put him back,--put him back," said Mr. Braselton. He then went up into the town and sent down another man, by the name of Porterkeith,--
a man that master had employed to see me safe to Mississippi until Mr. Braselton could sell me. He took me from the prison to the blacksmith-shop, and had my irons changed, putting on a pair with a chain about three feet long, fastened to my hands so that I could use them.
While they were fixing the irons on my hands, a man named Enos England, a partner of Mr. Braselton's, was standing in the shop.
"This is what your preaching has brought you to, parson," said he.
"Yes, sir," I answered, "but the Apostle Paul had chains on him, also, master."
Nothing more was said after that on that subject.
They had my hands fixed in this way in order that I could use them to attend to the horses and wait on them. They were going to take quite a large quantity of produce along with them. Several wagons were loaded with bacon and feathers.
After all was in readiness for starting, they put me on a horse, and two men started off with me. Porterkeith was to have twelve shillings a day for taking care of me.
When we were a short distance from the town, we met Squire Hestel, who asked--
"Well, parson, which way are you bound?"
"A prophet, sir, has no honor at home in his own country; so I will try some other," I replied.
"Well, parson, I wish you success," said he.
It being on the road, they took me to see my
two youngest children, that I might see them for the last time. We met quite a number of my old acquaintances on the road. We continued on until night, when we stopped at a tavern by the roadside.
I assisted them to feed the mules and horses, with my watchman at my back. We then had supper, and that night Porterkeith chained my feet together and fastened me to the bed-post, secured the windows, locked the door, and put the key under his pillow. The next morning they found me secure. They learned that they could get another load of bacon in this place, and they concluded to stop there that day, and two of them went back to Winchester to get a wagon. While the other two went to examine the bacon and have it weighed out, Porterkeith stayed by me and kept a close eye on me.
When I left the jail, Mr. Williamson remarked, "Israel, when you get to Mississippi, you sell Porterkeith, for you look the whitest man of the two."
While I was feeding the horses and mules that day, I noticed just by the cook-house a large patch of weeds. So I thought that if I could only get in there, I could make my escape at night. While we were feeding, the supper-bell rung, and Porterkeith called me to go to the house. When we got there, he took me to the dining-room, and set me by the door, while he went and eat his supper.
I had not shown any signs of dissatisfaction that night, but sat there with my hands on my knees. I noticed that every time he took a mouthful, he would look at me. Once or twice he took two or three mouthsful without looking.
Thought I, "The next time you take three mouthsful, when you look up I will not be here." I did not stop to see whether he took them or not; but taking a time when he was not looking, I slipped off. I had to pass through two doors and over the yard before I reached the patch of weeds; but I found that they would not hide me much. So I ran through them, and got into the cornfield, which was not more than two hundred yards from the house. I had just succeeded in getting in there, when I heard Porterkeith calling me. I had always been very prompt in answering; but I thought that this time I would let him call awhile, and put off answering. In fact, he has never been answered by me yet.
When they thought I had escaped, they went into the barn and slave-cabins and searched them. They then saddled and bridled their horses and rode off towards Winchester to a colored family they knew I was acquainted with, thinking I would go directly there.
And so I did. I got into the main road, and I thought that if I heard them coming, I could give them the road. I succeeded, however, in getting there before they overtook me, and aroused the inmates, and, when I had made myself known,
the man came out and tried to help me get my chains off. While we were talking, I heard the dogs, and started off for another friend's, about three miles further. My friends told me afterwards, that had it been daylight, they would have caught me; for I was not out of sight of the house when they rode up.
They asked if I had been there, and some of them answered that they had not seen me since they went past with me going away.
Porterkeith remarked that he thought I had hardly reached there yet, but they expected that I would be there. He said that it was the worst thing I had ever done, for they intended, when they got me to Mississippi, to get me a good master; but when they got me there now, they were going to sell me to the hardest man they could find, and on a sugar plantation, where I would have an overseer who would drive me from sunrise to sunset, and should I ever attempt to run away, he would have the negro-dogs set upon my track.
They watched around the house all that night, thinking that I would come there; but they did not see me.
Porterkeith had the name of being the smartest detective in that part of the country, and I knew that I had to keep on the alert, or else he would entrap me. The party started off in the morning, looking through all the settlements and houses in the neighborhood, and offering large rewards for
me. They went north, where I was supposed to have gone, but could get no clue as to my whereabouts.
After searching for some time, they returned home. Porterkeith said that I was the smartest boy he ever had any thing to do with; for he never undertook to find any man before but what he soon got on his track, and then he was easily captured. But he could not tell whether I had ascended or descended.
They then gave up the search, thinking that I had succeeded in getting over the river.
"I DARE attempt, and find
In due restraint a luxury;
Patient in hope, in caution fearless,
These to the soul are ministers of love."
ON reaching my friend's, I aroused him, and he at once knew my voice, and sprang up, opened the door, and invited me to come in.
I told him that I wanted him to help me to get my chains off first. We then went to the side of a hill where there was a large rock, which he beat against the irons first on one side and then on the other until he succeeded in breaking them off, they being made of cast-iron. I threw them as far into the woods as I could, and this was the last I ever saw or heard of them.
I then went to the house with my friend and his wife, who prepared me some supper. I remained there until near morning, when I went to the barn to hide myself for the day. I selected a spot where I thought I would not be detected and made my bed. Now, I found, to my great discomfort, that I had company; for the chickens had been roosting there, and the straw was full of chicken-lice. As soon as my body began to warm the straw, they commenced tormenting me, so that
it was almost unbearable. What added still more to my discomfort was, that the proprietor of the farm was shearing sheep directly under where I was lying, and I could not move nor make any noise, for fear of detection. I made out, however, to stand their torments until the horn blew for dinner.
I then came down and got into the corn-field without being seen. I here soon had vengeance on my enemies, as I killed every one I could see, and finally succeeded in clearing myself of them. I remained in the field until after dark, and then went to my friend's again, got a good supper, and then started off for my old stumping-ground. I reached there just before daylight the next morning. I laid in the corner of the fence all that day, and after dark I went up toward the house. I could hear the hands out in the fodder-field working, for it was quite common for them to work until near midnight at this time. I knew pretty well that the overseer was out in the field with them.
I reached the house and got into the garden, and I heard the cook singing, going from her cabin to the house. This woman was the friend who came to see me in the jail, and was the means of preventing my starving to death.
I threw up a clod of dirt, and it fell close by her. She looked up and around, and said--
"Who is that?"
I said, in a low voice, that it was I, and for her
to keep quiet. I then asked her where master was, and found that he had gone to the Association as a delegate, and that he thought he had delegated me to Mississippi.
I found, also, that they did know of my escape. Then I told her of my plans of how I intended to secrete myself; for I knew that Porterkeith would catch me if I attempted to go North at this time. She entered into it fully, and promised to get me provisions.
There was a place about a quarter of a mile from the house, that I had selected for my abode, where I thought I would be perfectly safe. It was a tract of land of between four and five acres, that had been cleared off for some years, had never been cultivated, and had now grown up thick with high weeds, grape-vines, bamboos and briers, and hazel bushes. They stood so thick, that the eye could scarcely see ten yards into it. I went into this and made me a pleasant spot by clearing it up. The next night I got some boards and put them on the top of the bushes, which were so rank they held them secure. I then got some bed-clothing and a jug full of water from a spring that was near by, and found myself quite comfortable.
Here I remained for three weeks, and laid my plans for future action. This is what I have ever designated as my GREEN BRIER HOUSE. Here I was secure from every thing except snakes and vermin; for rattlesnakes were very thick in that
country, and they always liked a nice dry place to lay in, but they never troubled me. Like Elijah of old, the Lord pointed me out a place near a brook and sent ravens with my food, so that during my sojourn there I neither wanted food to eat nor water to drink. Several incidents occurred, which I will relate.
One day one of the neighbors came over, and was asking questions about me, and wished to know if they had ever heard any thing from me.
Master then went on to say that he had told Porterkeith, if I got half a chance, I would get away from him, and if I did, he would never catch me; but that he was satisfied I was now in Ohio.
"Well," inquired his neighbor, "if you knew where he was, could you get him?"
"There are some places where I could; but it would be a risky business to go amongst those abolitionists."
When they told me this conversation, "Well," thought I, "if I only keep myself out of sight, I am safe enough now; for they have given me up." I took an opportunity to visit several of my friends, and had quite pleasant times in meeting with them, many of whom I had not seen since my first imprisonment, and they were all glad that I had outdone Porterkeith, for he had a terrible name among the slaves.
I now removed my clothing and jug from my Green Brier House, as it was getting rather chilly to be there at night, and two of my friends dug a
cellar under the floor of their cabin and made me a comfortable bed, and here I staid the remainder of the autumn.
About the time I moved from the Green Brier House, Mansfield returned from Mississippi, they not being able to sell him. The reason for that was, as he told me, that when we were in jail I told him how to act if they undertook to sell him South, and he could get off, and in his case nature helped him through.
Mansfield was a fine-looking boy, but he had one reel foot, his toes turning pretty much behind, which made that leg very small, and looked as if it would injure him very much, but really it was nearly, if not quite, as strong as his other leg. I told him, however, to limp and complain very much of his ankle, and I knew that they could not sell him.
He acted the possum so well, that it turned out just as I anticipated, and they had to bring him back again.
He told me all about his journey, which was very interesting to me, as I had been over the same field before, and was pretty much the same as I have given in the former pages of my history.
I now took possession of my subterranean abode. Master and mistress would stop sometimes in that cabin and talk about me, and as I was right under their feet, I could hear every word they said.
I could tell many incidents which occurred at
this time that might be interesting; but as I do not know into whose hands my little work may chance to fall, and as many of the actors are still alive, I do not care to recall to their minds and expose their acts to each other or cause unpleasant feelings or thoughts to any one, and leave them for the Great Judge at the last day to unfold the great roll of the Book of Life, and if He has forgiven and blotted them out, I hope I may not be the means of recording them against them.
I had not seen my oldest daughter since my imprisonment. I felt as if I ought to see her, and determined to make the attempt. I had often heard her sing, but could never get an opportunity of speaking to her. So I got a friend to bring her to where I was, and I stood behind the door to see what she would say. When they had reached where I was, they asked her if she would like to see me, and if she could keep from telling the white people,--for this last was one great reason why I had not spoken to her before. I was afraid, as all children will do, that she would be so glad to see me, and run off and tell master and mistress.
But she said, "Not for my life will I tell."
I then stepped from behind the door. She hugged and kissed me, and was overjoyed to see me, and appeared very much afraid that the white people would catch me.
I told her I was not afraid of that; but that I was going to start for Canada pretty soon now;
and that when I got free, I would go back for her. I told her that she must be a good girl and obey every body in all that is right. I then parted with her, and bid her good-bye. We had a very affectionate parting, and I left that settlement.
I had strong thoughts about taking old master's life, or injuring him in some way, for the wrong he had done me; but the good spirit always got the better of such designs and always thwarted my plans. I have stood at a window with my pistol loaded, and thought if I ought not to blow his brains out; but there came a voice, telling me that it was wrong. My pistol snapped, and he passed on unharmed.
I once stationed myself in the woods, with the intention of shooting his horse from under him, and if he found out it was me, to shoot him; but when he came near enough for me to see, I saw that it was my horse he was riding, and not his own, and I could not kill it.
I did not start at once for Canada, but lingered around there. They were about moving, as master had bought another place about ten miles distant, and I now knew that I would soon have to change my quarters.
I had concluded to start on a Sunday night; but I wished to see my daughter again before I left, for she was the only one large enough to remember what I might tell them. I stationed myself a little distance from the house, and as she went from the house to the kitchen, I called her name.
She became very much frightened, thinking that I was a ghost, (for the belief in ghosts is very common in the South, especially among the slave population.)
The alarm which she gave caused both the white and black people to come out in the yard; but I succeeded in getting away without their seeing me, and I got into a plot of high sage grass. She told them which way the ghost went, and they came hunting for it, but they happened not to see me.
I then started for Canada, and thought that I would be able to take my Christmas-dinner there, it being about a week from that holiday, leaving a promise with several of my friends to do all I could for them when I reached there.
"TRUTH shall restore the light by nature given,
And, like Promotheus, bring the fire of heaven;
Prone to the dust Oppression shall be hurled--
Her name, her nature, withered from the world!"
MY first object before starting on my journey was to obtain a pass, so that I could travel in the daytime as well as at night. I got a man to write it for me, and I told him what to write, for I had heard what master had written for me when I travelled in Kentucky. I had it worded as though I belonged to a man in Alabama by the name of William King, a celebrated horse-racer, and whose name was known far and wide. It was worded as follows:
December 5th, 1847.
"To all whom it may concern, or who may have occasion to question this boy: Please to let him pass and re-pass unmolested to the State of Illinois, Gallatin County, to visit his friends and relations, returning here by the 10th of January.
"WILLIAM KING'S Mulatto Boy Joell."
Now, where he had the signature he should have left off the "Mulatto Boy Joell," and I told him that he had better not put it there. But he
thought that it would be that much better for me, as it described my color.
On Sunday night I started on my journey, and I travelled on all that night and Monday night, and on Tuesday morning I found myself about seventy miles from home. As I had never travelled so far from home before on this road, and as this was a new route, I thought that I could venture to travel in the daytime as well as at night, and be able to proceed much faster.
I had not proceeded far by daylight before I was stopped by a set of ruffianly-looking men, who wanted to know which way I was going, who I was, and if I had a pass.
I told them I was going to see my friends, and that I had a pass.
They insisted on seeing it, and I showed it to them.
They read it, and then stepped off a short distance and held a short consultation. They then came back to me and said--
"We believe you have run away."
"Why do you believe that, sirs, when I have a pass?"
"Yes, but your pass is not correct," they said.
I asked them what was wrong about it.
They told me that the words "mulatto boy" should not have been there by my master's name.
I told them that I could not help it if my master wrote it in that way.
"But we don't believe that your master wrote
it. We think that you forged it and got some one to write it for you, and you cannot go any further," they replied.
"Well, sirs, what is to be done?" I asked.
One of them said, "You will have to go back to Columbia and lay there in that cold jail."
He then asked me if I was not a runaway.
I told him he said that I was; and if I told him I was not, he would not believe me.
I told them that they had better leave me pass on my way, or my master would make them suffer for it.
One of them said, "We will take the responsibility."
They then tied me, caught two horses, and took me back about twelve miles to Columbia, and had me put in the jail. I would not own to them that I was a runaway; but after they were gone, the jailer came and asked me who I belonged to.
I told him that I belonged to Mr. Thomas H. Garner, near Winchester, Franklin County; that I was a runaway, and that my name was Israel.
He said that he would write to my master immediately, which he did.
I found two very fine fellows in the cell into which I was put. One of them had run away. The other had attempted to run away, and a man tried to stop him. He shot him, and had been tried and condemned to be hung. His master, however, thought so much of him, that he succeeded
in getting him a new trial, which he was now awaiting.
I was quite disappointed about my Christmas-dinner, having to take it in a jail instead of Canada.
The jailer's name was Washington Gamble. He gave us each a glass of liquor to let us know that it was Christmas on that day. I remained here forty days. At this time Master Garner's son-in-law, James Davis, came after me. He told me that his father-in-law sent him to propose to me, that if I would give up my money as security against my running away, he might take me home, and if I would not do this, to sell me; for he knew that I would be running away all the time.
Now, they had an idea that I had about three hundred dollars, and if they could only get hold of that, I would not run away, for I would have nothing to travel on.
To this proposal I would not agree.
"Well, then," said Mr. Davis, "I will sell you to the worst man I can find."
"Very well, sir. I believe I can please most any gentleman," I replied.
"Well, Israel, you need not hope to get away from me. I am not Porterkeith. I have brought hand-cuffs to put on you, and I intend to sit right by your side until you are sold. There is no devil if you get away from me," he said.
When he was ready to start, he and Mr.
Gamble came into the jail, and after putting the hand-cuffs on me, led me out of the jail, mounted me on the stage, and we travelled for Nashville.
There was another man with Mr. Davis, a slavetrader, and he got him to talk to me and try and get me to give my money up.
He said, "Now, my boy, your master says that if you will only give him your money as security, he is willing for you to come back; but if you will not consent to that, I am going South in a week or so, and I will take you and find the very strictest master for you I can."
"Well," I replied, "you can sell me to any one you have a mind to."
They took me to Nashville and put me in the jail, and then went around the city to hunt up a buyer.
There were fourteen colored men in the jail, and none of them had ever seen a Free State but myself. They were all expecting to be sold South; and as soon as I had told them about my visits almost to the country where there was no slavery, they were highly pleased, and seemed to take new life, and commenced sawing the iron bars out of the windows, and broke my hand-cuffs off, and said they would all be out soon, and they wanted me to lead them to the Free States.
To keep from being heard while we were sawing, we would sing and dance and have a merry time.
Just about the time they succeeded in getting
the bars in two, so that we could have all got out, there came a man to the jail named James Comering, and asked me how I would like him for a master.
I told him that I did not know, as I never saw him before.
"Well," said he, "your master wants to sell you, and he says that you are an honest, trusty kind of a boy, and that is the kind of a boy I want; and if you are willing to live with me, I will buy you."
"Well, sir, if you are willing to buy me and treat me well, give me an opportunity to go and see my children, and if you ever sell me, give me a chance to buy myself I will promise to live with you until I see an opportunity of getting away."
This last clause I said easy to myself, and is what people at the North call mental reservation, and I had firmly made up my mind that I would never be another man's slave any longer than I could get away from him.
He thought I would suit him, and bought me at the low price of five hundred dollars, and we took the stage to Shelbyville, where the man resided. He had recently married a wife, and had not yet began housekeeping, but boarded at his father-in-law's, who kept a tavern in the place.
After I had been there about two weeks, one day, while I was cleaning the horses, he brought his uncle to the stables to see me. He
was a regular slave-dealer. They examined me and made some remarks upon my person, when his uncle asked me if I was a good hand to manage horses.
I told him that I was.
Nothing more was said, and they left the stable.
Thinks I, "You are trying to sell me, and I will keep my eye on you."
A few days after, a traveller rode up, and they called me to take his horse.
I got on the horse, and was riding around town, when he fell on my left ankle and put it out of place. I suffered considerably from it, and was laid up for two weeks. After I got well, my young master started for Philadelphia to buy goods for storekeeping. He was gone so short a time, that it excited the curiosity of our towns-people, and they found out that he had only been as far as Pittsburg. He now removed to a little village about twelve miles distant, and opened his store.
I waited on him some three weeks, when I found out that he had made arrangements with his uncle to take me South and sell me. He had his drove at Nashville, and was soon to leave. They thought that if they could only get me on board the steamboat, they could easily get me down to Mississippi.
One morning, one or two days after the above information, and the very day that he wanted to send me away with his uncle, he gave me a letter to his wife's father, to tell her mother to come up
as soon as she could; that mistress was very sick, and expected to have to go to bed every hour.
I understood pretty well the contents of the letter, which did not in any way relate to his wife's sickness, but to my going South. So I did not hurry myself. I walked slowly along for about six miles, and then went into the bushes on the roadside and staid there until about two o'clock in the afternoon. I then came out and walked slowly along, which brought me to my journey's end a little after dark.
I presented my letter to master's wife's mother, and told her that I started in the morning, but that I had been taken sick by the way, and felt very stupid and bad now.
She told me to go into the kitchen, and she would give me a good cup of tea.
I stayed there that night, and learned that the slave-drove had left there about one o'clock that day. I felt highly elated to think that I had outwitted the slave-dealers. I remained there all Friday. On Saturday morning they gave me another letter and sent me back home.
I thought it would not do to get home before night, as I was afraid they would imprison me; so I loitered along, and got home after dark.
When I got home, I went straight to master's room and knocked. He was much surprised at seeing me, and after finding it was me, he jumped out of bed and invited me into his room.
I gave him the letter his father-in-law had given me for him.
"I hear it is reported about, Israel, that I have sold you," said he.
"Well, you have not, have you, Master James?" I asked.
"Why, do you suppose that I would sell you, and not let you know it?" said he.
"I hope not, Master James," I replied. At the same time I knew that he had tried to sell me; but we had to prevaricate a little for our purposes.
Like every thing wrong, slavery here shows its true character, as it is the example of the master which banishes all love of truth and honor from the slave's breast, so little is there found in the great mass of theirs.
He asked me if I was not hungry; and, upon my telling him that I was, he told me to help myself to some things that were on the table.
I then went into the kitchen. When I got there, the first person I met was the cook. As we were the only colored persons about the house, she seemed greatly surprised when I went into the kitchen, and exclaimed, without thinking--
"Why, laws, Israel, Master James sold you!"
"I have just come out of the house, and he says that he has done no such a thing," says I.
"You need not believe a word he says," said she, "for he has given your clothes to Mr. Armstrong's boy."
I did not make my thoughts or intentions
known to her. I arose bright and early the next morning (Sunday) and built a fire in the house, and then went to the stables and cleaned my horse. While I was doing that, I thought to myself, "This is the last time I will clean you, old gray;" for I had made up my mind to leave that night. I loitered about the house and yard all day, so that I could be seen at any time.
A little after dark, Master James called me in the store-room. He had his partner with him, whose name was Mr. Ward. After I had entered, he shut the door. He then said--
"Israel, when I bought you I thought that I would never sell you; but you know that my trip to Philadelphia completely exhausted my means, so that I will have to part with you, and I wish to know if you are willing to live with Mr. Ward.
I understood how to humor the joke, and I said, "Well, Master James, as you are not able to keep me, and are obliged to sell me, I had just as leave live with Mr. Ward as yourself, as I know him and know that I can please him."
"Yes," said Mr. Ward, "he can please any body at work."
Having, as they thought, gained their point this time, they thought they would try a little further, and Mr. Ward said--
"Well, Israel, I am going to start for Mississippi in the morning with a drove of horses, and I want you to go along and help to take care of them, and also to help me sell them."
"Well, sir, I can do that. I am good among horses," I then remarked; "but, sir, when you get me down there, you will sell me."
"No, no, Israel, I will not do that," he replied.
Now, I knew that he was lying, for he had neither horse nor mule to go with; but I saw the dodge,--for, had I shown the least unwillingness, they would have tied me that night; but as I agreed to all they proposed, they let me out, and I went to the kitchen. I thought, the sooner I was away from there, the better.
After all had gone to bed, I got my bowie-knife and loaded both barrels of my pistol, and I got a good old Jackson club out of the loft. I had made up my mind that I was going to try for either liberty or death this time, and intended killing any one who should undertake to stop me, and off I started, and bid farewell to Tennessee, for I was bound to Canada.
I went immediately to Shelbyville, going the twelve miles in about three hours. I went to a friend of mine, a few doors from Master James' wife's father's. He had a very good pistol, which he immediately consented to let me have. He also told me that a cousin of his was expecting to be sold every day, and that he would be glad to get off with me; and if I would wait about an hour, he would find him.
When they came back, we talked the matter over, and he concluded to go with me. We soon got ready for our journey, prepared some provisions,
two suits of clothes apiece, and an umbrella, and then we turned our eyes towards Canada.
It was in January that Master James bought me, and I left him in April. I am sure that I never earned him eighty dollars while he owned me.
We travelled in the main road the first night. The second night we thought we would try it by the north star; but found that a hard way of proceeding, and on the third night retraced the ground we had travelled on the second, and took the main road again.
We travelled in the night, and secreted ourselves in the day, travelling about thirty or thirty-five miles a night, sometimes covering ourselves with leaves, hiding in thickets, sometimes in fodder-houses.
Our provisions had now given out, and we were beginning to feel the gnawings of hunger, and were almost afraid to speak to any one, for fear they would betray us. One night, however, we met two colored men, and, as our hunger had become almost unbearable, we allowed them to see us.
After we had spoken to each other, I asked them if they could not give us poor hungry fellows something to eat.
One of them said they were going to his wife's house, and that they had nothing with them.
I told him him we were travellers, and that I would pay him for something to eat.
They paused awhile, and he again said, "I suppose I could get you something by going back home."
"How far is that?" I asked.
"About half a mile," he replied.
We all went towards the house.
He told us he was a blacksmith, and that the man with him was his striker. "You go right on past the house till you come to the shop, and stay there until I come," said he.
I remarked, "Now, my friend, I hope you won't betray us or cause us any trouble. If you do, I will shoot you."
He said, if he gave me any trouble, he would give me leave to shoot him.
I then went on past the blacksmith-shop, and looked in and stationed myself so that I could see any one come from the house to the shop. I was there about an hour, when he came back to the shop and asked--
"Where are you?"
I made no reply. He then looked around, and, not seeing me, went into the shop. After I had satisfied myself of my safety, I went into where they were at. The man had brought us three or four pounds of bread and ham, and a killet to fry our meat with.
After cooking and eating as much as we wanted, we cooked the remainder to take with us. I fired one of my pistols and loaded it again, gave the man half a dollar, and started on.
"EVEN now, perhaps, some pilgrim strays
Through tangled forests and through dangerous ways;
And all around distressful yells arise.
The pensive exile, bending with his woe,
To stop too fearful, and too faint to go."
HAVING again started on our journey, (for the reader must not lose sight of my friend who started from Shelbyville with me,) after travelling until within an hour of daybreak, we found ourselves in the city of Nashville. As the day was breaking, we thought we had better look about us for a hiding-place. There was a heavy fog at the time, and we took the first place we could find. After the sun arose and the fog cleared away, we found that our position was not well chosen, but we could not move for fear of detection, as there was a company of men working at the boat-yard a short distance from where we were.
Soon after sunrise there came a company of children hunting for pieces of wood, and they came very near where I was lying. I knew that it would not do to run, and the only way I could see to escape detection was to pretend to be very sick, and when they came near me I was grunting and groaning as if I was in great misery.
They came to me, asked me if I was sick, looked at me awhile, and then gathered up their wood and started home.
I thought that they would go home and tell their parents, and they would be coming to look for me; so I said to my partner--
"We must risk getting away from here, as we are in danger of being found out."
We started and went through the thicket as fast as we could run. Then we walked through the opening for a brier-patch a short distance off, which we reached without being noticed. Here we remained until night, when we came into the city again by the back way round by the hospital. We met a colored man driving cows out to pasture, and we asked him if he could tell us where we could get a raft of any kind to cross the river.
He said that he could not.
He then asked us where we were going.
I told him that I did not tell every body my business.
He said that he wanted to know if we were going to the free country, and if we were, he wanted to go with us. He told us that his name was Toney; that he belonged to a Mr. Oldhouse, who was a very hard master; that he wanted to go to the free country; but that he was not ready yet, but wanted us to wait until he could collect thirty dollars, and then he would divide the money.
I said, "Friend, we are in a hurry, and are in danger here every minute. If you can tell me
where I can get a craft to cross the river, I will thank you."
He told us to wait until he turned the cows out, and then he would take us to a man who we could get a boat from.
We went with him to turn the cows in the pasture, and he then took us around to his friend's. As we were going along, he told us his troubles and trials, all of which are common among the poor slaves,--how his master beat, starved and punished him in every way, and that he was in continual dread of being sold to the South.
I told him that we could not wait for any body, and if I did, we might all be taken back.
He seemed to comprehend, at last, that it would not do, but tried to get me to promise, that if I ever came back free, and if he was not sold or dead, I would lead him to the land of the free, and that he would repay me for all my trouble.
We had now reached his friend, whom he called Washington, and told him what we wanted. He told us that we need not be afraid of him, as he was our friend.
Washington said that he had a father who had gone to Canada, and he hoped soon to follow him. He then went with us to see if we could find a boat. We went through the city, talking politics, as if we all belonged there, and reached the river without molestation. We looked up and down the river, but could see only one boat, and that a man was fishing with.
Washington at length bethought him of a way by which we might succeed in getting over the bridge, which was as follows:
There was on the other side of the bridge a rich old farmer, whose daughter had married a doctor in Nashville, and their slaves came backward and forward whenever they pleased by giving the old farmer's name; but the keeper of the bridge did not know them from any other negroes. He told me the farmer's and doctor's names, but I have forgotten them. He went to the bridge with us, and as we parted Washington said--
"Good night. Tell my brother that I will be over on Sunday, and will bring him that money I owe him."
When the keeper heard what Washington said, there were no questions asked, and we went across the bridge.
I now began to feel free, for this I had looked upon as the worst point in my journey, as the saying is common that colored people cannot pass Cumberland Bridge without a pass, and I felt as if I should reach my destination. We travelled the next two nights without there being much of note occurring. The second night, however, we came to another river. It was not very wide, however, and we found a skiff, in which we rowed ourselves across the river and then sent the boat adrift.
Before day the next morning it began raining, and continued to rain all that day. We kept partially
dry by being sheltered under the trees; but we were as wet as we comfortably cared to be, only keeping our powder dry.
After dark, we started from our watery camp. We went about half a mile, and came to a very large creek. I did not know how deep it might be; but I determined to attempt to cross it, even though I might get drowned.
My partner did not want to venture, although he could swim and I could not. We ventured in, and the deepest place we found the water was up to my chin. We then travelled for several miles, until we reached a large farmhouse, where we were so fortunate as to be allowed to dry ourselves; and as the rain had ceased, we called upon a family of colored people. They made us welcome, and we stopped there several hours, got something to eat, and travelled the remainder of the night in mud and water. It was very discouraging, but it was the best we could do.
I felt very indignant at the slave-holders to see what risks we had to run to gain what was ours by nature,--life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and felt as if I could shoot one of them as unconcerned as I could a deer.
We now came to a very large and steep hill, probably near a mile from the bottom to the top, and as my partner could not walk quite as fast as I could, he would often lag behind. I had travelled the road before, and knew all about its difficulties. It was a made road, and was very
steep in some places, and the holes on either side were sometimes very deep, and difficult, if not hurt by the fall, to climb up in the daytime, much less in the night. Just as we had got fairly started up the hill, my partner cried out to me--
"O me! O me! I hear somebody riding this way!"
I started off on a run, which made him get along a little faster. I told him not to try to turn aside, as he would only kill himself.
We ran as fast as we could, and succeeded in reaching the top before any one overtook us, and got into a field and saw the person pass. It proved to be one of the slaves, who had either been to see his wife or sweetheart. We saw him put his horse up, go into his cabin, and extinguish his light, and we then drew out from our retreat.
This hill was called Paradise Hill, and a very wealthy gentleman lived there. We truly thought it a Paradise to us, for we were very tired and hungry. Satisfied that all was quiet, we walked on a few miles further, and so fatigued were we, that we went into a thicket by the roadside and took a short nap. It was the first night that we had taken any sleep since we started, for we tried to sleep enough in the daytime to enable us to travel all night. We slept by turns, one watching while the other slept.
We now reached Princeton, in Livingston County, Kentucky. This was the place where I had lived with Mr. Crookesty when he first bought
me. I looked at the old stumping-ground, and found that it had undergone many changes. We were now about thirty-five miles from where my mother lived. When we were within three miles of Tradewater River, I stopped to make some inquiries, the road being very much changed since I had last travelled it.
I asked a man if he would not go with us to the ferry.
He would not. He said he had been fishing all day, and was very tired and hungry; but that it was only three miles to the ferry.
I did not like the man's looks, and I offered him fifty cents if he would go with us to the ferry; for I thought that if we could get across, we were all right.
But he would not go with us, but said that we would find the boat on this side, and that we might go across in it and leave it tied on the other side. He did not see my companion, and thought that I was alone.
When we had gone about two miles, I heard some one coming after us. We stepped into the bushes and saw four men pass by on a very fast walk.
I told Phelix that the fellow we had just parted with had sent those men after us, and that we would have to alter our course. Thinks I, "My men, you will lose your game to-night;" for I thought they would go to the ferry and wait for
me to come and take the boat, when they would capture me.
I told my partner that we would not attempt to cross there that night. We then turned up the river, and went about a mile above the ferry. We stayed there all night. Near morning I told Phelix that we would have to try and get away from there; for those fellows would wait at the ferry until day, and then they would take a look through the woods, and that I intended to die before I would be taken; and if we got into a scrape, and should he not fight, if we got clear I would whip him myself.
This I told him to let him know that he had to look out for himself; for he was a great coward, and a white man's frown would make him give up without a blow.
He said he would do the best he could. But we had to get away from there. The river was very deep and swift, and not a boat was to be seen. After considerable planning, I thought of a raft. I got some logs and tied them together with grape-vines; and, looking about the drift, I found a piece of board, out of which I made a paddle. My raft and all being ready, I went off a little distance and offered up a prayer.
I asked Phelix if he would get on the raft with me.
He said, no; that he was afraid; but that he would take a log and kick out like a frog and go across in that way.
So off I started with my raft. Not understanding any thing about paddling when I first began, and as the tide was very rapid, the first attempt threw me back into the river. It frightened me very much, and Phelix exclaimed--
"There, mate, I told you that you could not go across on that."
I told him to hold on; that all dangers are not death; and I pushed my raft off again, turning it around this time, which proved to work much better. I finally succeeded in getting across, and fastened my raft to the bank of the river, and then looked about for Phelix.
He rolled a loose log into the water and got on the top of it and started over. Just as soon as he got where the current began running, over went his log and left him in the river. He became so much frightened, that he ceased to help himself, and would catch hold of the log every time he came up and say, "Ugh! ugh!"
I hollowed for him to kick back like a frog; but he seemed to have lost all power of helping himself. He went with the log towards the ferry, and I followed him until I thought we were getting too near, and that it was better that one should be lost than two.
Just at this time I noticed a long sassafras pole lying on the shore, and as he had been brought by the current to very near the shore where I was, I threw the pole into the river and waded out as far as I could. The pole just reached him,
and I told him to catch hold of it, which he did, and I drew him to the shore.
When he got on dry land he was powerless and almost senseless from his fright and strangling. I rolled him over and over, and got the water out of him, and rubbed him awhile, and told him that we must get away from there as soon as possible. I led him up the river bank, got him over a fence, and we coiled up there like wet rats.
The sun soon arose and shone directly on us, which made us quite comfortable and dried us considerably. We rejoiced that we had made our escape from our enemies, and that beautiful hymn came into my mind--
"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress."
We lay there all that day. At length the sun departed behind the western hills, and we crept out from our bed and took a survey to see that all was safe, and proceeded on our journey. About midnight we came to a farmhouse. Being weary and hungry, I thought we would call there and see if we could not obtain help. I felt some confidence in stopping there, as I had made it a matter of prayer for God to direct my steps to some friend, and I felt as if this was an answer to my prayer.
I knocked softly at the door, and a voice asked--
"Who is that?"
I answered, in a low voice, "It is a poor, weary, hungry traveller."
He then opened the door, and I asked him if he would give us something to eat.
He soon set some provisions before us, and we began replenishing our empty stomachs. While we were eating, we conversed on our business. I ascertained that he was a Baptist minister.
I asked him if he knew a minister by the name of Edward Finney.
"Perfectly well," he replied; "we were together last Sunday."
"Are you acquainted with his wife?" I asked.
"Yes, I have known her for years. As good a sister as ever lived," he answered.
I then told him that they were my step-father and mother.
"Are you the son Nelly talked about so much, who was sold down the river?" he asked.
I told him I was; that I had been in Mississippi, but that my master brought me back to Tennessee; that they were now trying to send me back again, and I had run away to keep from being sold; for I had rather be killed than go South again, and I had concluded to try to reach Canada.
"God bless your undertaking," said he.
I asked him how far it was to my mother's, and
I learned that it was about fifteen miles. After thanking him for his kindness and bidding him good-night, we started on, much refreshed, with the intention of trying to reach my mother's that night.
Mother and her husband had both got their freedom, and were living in a house by themselves. It was just daylight when I saw their house. As we would have to pass a white family's house before we could reach my mother's, and as I thought it would not be safe to venture up in the daytime, I looked around for some place in which to hide. The only place I could find was in a corn-shock. So I went into one, and Phelix into another.
I could hear the people talking and travelling along the main road, and would sometimes venture to peep out and see them. I saw an old bachelor and an old maid riding in a buggy. It was the son of old Master Russell, in whose family I was born, and his youngest daughter. I thought of the times which we then passed through,--of my first mistress and her death; then of Miss Sally, so kind and good; and then how the lady who was then in that carriage used to play with me,--pleasant dreams, but all past and buried in the ocean of time. What a blessing is memory to a good man!--what a witness against the wicked! At the death of this lady's father, her brother-in-law, Clayborn Devaull, a noted Methodist minister, became her guardian, and he sold all the slaves except my mother. When she was
between fifty and sixty years of age, her mistress told her that if she could raise one hundred dollars, she could have her freedom; which she succeeded in accomplishing.
She was at this time keeping house for the old bachelor, who was well known in Kentucky as Dr. William Russell.
Night again threw over the earth her dark shroud, under whose cover we emerged from our solitary house, and wended our way towards my mother's residence.
I knocked gently against the wall. My stepfather asked--
"Who is there?"
I answered, "A friend. Come out and see."
He came around the house to where I was standing, and bid me good evening. He knew my voice the instant I spoke, and said--
"Israel, is this you? I know your voice, my son, if it is in the dark." He then invited us in the house.
We went in, and I embraced my mother, and we had quite a happy meeting. But her joy was soon turned to sorrow when she saw what condition we were in. She wanted to know how it was that I came looking so much worse than I had always appeared when I came to see her before.
My father said, "I reckon Israel is sailing on the river; are you not?"
"Yes, sir," I answered.
My mother wanted to know what boat I was
sailing in, not seeming to comprehend what my father meant.
I told her that I was not in any boat just then.
She then seemed, for the first time, to suspicion that I had run away, and said, "Israel, my son, I want you to tell me where you are going."
I told her that I had started for Canada, to see my brother; for I had learned that my brother Washington was there.
"Then you are running away?" she asked.
"Yes, ma'am," said I, "I have set out to get my freedom, or loose my life in trying for it."
She wished to know why I had taken such a course; that I had told her of what a good master I had, and how well satisfied I was, and thought that I must be in the wrong.
I told her that times had changed since I last saw her, and then told her my story up to the time we were talking. While this conversation was going on, she was preparing supper for us.
When I was through with my history, she told us to sit up and partake of her poor fare, but which we considered good enough for any one. She only did not seem to enjoy it, so full was she of trouble and anxiety for our safe journey. She at length asked--
"Do you really think that you will be able to reach Canada?"
"I think I will if I live," said I. "Brother Washington is there, and I think I am as smart a child as you've ever had."
"Well, I pray the Lord will be with you," she said.
"Thank you, mother. The prayers of the righteous shall prevail," I answered.
We then conversed on different subjects until the time for retiring had arrived.
Mother told me that if we could stay there the next day, she would wash our clothes, as we were getting very dirty, not having had any clean clothes for some twenty or thirty days, although we had several good washings.
We slept in her house until within about an hour of day, when she did not think it safe for us to stay any longer; and, after furnishing us with a clean suit of clothes, we again took to our shock-house, where we remained all that day.
At night we came around to the house, and found our clothes washed, and after partaking of a hearty supper, we took our parting embrace and bid farewell to father and mother once more. We were now between four and five miles from the Ohio River.
Mother gave us such advice as directed us how to find some friends who resided near the ferry. As we approached the house, the dogs discovered us, and began barking very fiercely. I then saw a light in the house, and a white man came out to see if he could discover any one.
We got behind a tree and remained there until he went into the house and put the light out. This seemed to pacify the dogs, and we then went
around the house to the person's cabin to whom mother had directed us. Fearing lest the dogs should attack me if I made any noise, I climbed up the chimney and got between it and the house and knocked.
I soon awakened the man, and he came out, and after finding out who I was, informed me that a man from Rolly had taken the small boat; but that I could look up and down the river, and if I could find a small boat, I might take it and make it fast on the opposite side.
I went to where I had left my companion, and we looked up and down the river, but did not succeed in finding any thing we could venture to cross the river in. Discovering that day was breaking, we bethought us of a hiding-place for the day, and began retracing our steps. About a mile from the ferry we came across an old tree that had fallen down, and which had large forks on it.
We got in between the forks and covered ourselves up with the leaves. We found this, however, rather an uncomfortable retreat, as the leaves were full of seed-ticks, bear-ticks, and bull-ticks, and the mosquitoes (gallinippers) were very thick and troublesome, and I thought that these plagues were almost as tormenting as Pharoah's. So troublesome were they, that we were unable to sleep, and felt it more severely the next day.
The seed-tick is a very small one, generally found on a kind of wild grass, and sometimes
one hundred ticks can be found on one stalk of grass, and penny-royal is the only effectual antidote for them. The bull-tick is a large brown one, with a white spot on its back; and the bear-tick is something like the former, only it has a longer bill, and when it once becomes attached to the skin it leaves its head behind it. These, with the gallinippers, made us anxious for the sun to disappear, as we were afraid to move our position during the day, there being so many persons moving about near where we were.
Night at length came, and we gladly left our uncomfortable abode. We again went down to the bank of the river, but did not succeed in finding a boat until we had reached Rolly Town, about five miles from the ferry, where we found a large flat-bottomed boat, and a skiff fastened to it. We took the skiff and made an attempt to cross; but as neither of us understood how to manage it, we made but slow progress.
When we were in the middle of the river, a large steamer came close by us, and the wheels made a great commotion in the water, throwing our little craft up and down like the ocean's wave, which frightened us very much, as we thought we were certainly going to be swamped. We succeeded, however, in landing on the Illinois side, and made our boat fast.
[N. W. COFFIN.
"HERE, on a point between two oceans vast,
The boundless future, and the boundless past;
The eye surveys the unbroken waste before,
Unconscious yet of all it hath in store."
[N. W. COFFIN.
Now I thought that the worst of my journey was at an end. I had accomplished the greatest undertaking, and all I now had to do was to be cautious and wary, and my freedom was sure.
After having fastened our boat, we went up into the town near where we landed, I having some acquaintances there. I went to the house of one of my friends; but found his gate locked and his house enclosed by palings eight or nine feet high, which were not easily surmountable without help. His stable, however, was built on a line with his fence, and it being a log one, I climbed up on it and succeeded in getting into his yard, and rapped at his door.
"Who comes there?" he asked.
"A friend," I replied.
"Well, friend, you have got into my yard and have not come through the right gate, as that is locked, and a man cannot climb over my fence. I
do not know whether you are a friend or not, and you cannot come in here."
I then called his wife, who recognized my voice, and told her husband who I was; but he did not believe it.
After I had inquired as to where her brother and father lived, and she had told me, her husband consented to open the door if I would let him see me before I came in.
He got his gun and slowly opened the door, threatening to shoot me down if I attempted to enter before he saw who I was. He then let the candle shine full in my face, when he at once recognized me. He dropped his gun and bade me come in. He asked me to forgive him for what he had said and done; but said that there were so many kidnappers about, that he had to be very cautious, for he was afraid that they would try to kidnap some of his children.
I said that it was perfectly right, and told him how I got in his yard.
He then set his decanter of brandy out, and soon supplied us with a good supper, when we inquired about other friends who were living in that locality, and answered many questions which they asked us.
After having refreshed ourselves and rested, we started off again, being exceedingly anxious to get out of that town before the next morning, as there was a number of the low class of white people who made their livelihood by what is called
kidnapping, or stealing and selling or informing on colored persons who have run away. We got out without being noticed, and travelled about eight miles to another family's, where I was acquainted.
We reached there a little after day break, and met the children going after the cows.
They, thinking that we were kidnappers, became very much frightened, and ran back screaming and crying, which brought their parents out, who, seeing two of us, and that we were black, beckoned for us to hurry in their house.
There was a family of white people who lived in the next house, and they, hearing the noise, came over to see what was the matter; but they hid us under the bed, where we remained that day. At night, after telling them my story and getting some refreshment, we started on our journey. While we were travelling along, the moon shining unusually bright, we saw a white man coming towards us. He saw us just as we saw him, as it was at the bend of the road, and we dodged aside into a patch of weeds which happened to be close by. When he came opposite to where he saw us, he stopped and said--
"Good evening, gentlemen."
We made no reply, and he passed on. When he was out of sight, we pursued our journey until we discovered that day was breaking, when we resorted to a brier-patch for refuge that day, where
we remained until the sun again disappeared behind the western horizon.
That night, about eleven o'clock, we came up to a house built directly on the road. I told my companion that it would never do for us to pass that house, as the moon was shining very brightly, and if they had any dogs, and they should bark and alarm the inmates, they might see us before we could get beyond their reach.
We concluded, however, to get into the orchard and go around the house. We had got but a short distance in the orchard when the dogs discovered us and gave the alarm. I ran off at the top of my speed, and my companion after me.
The men from the house were immediately on the alert, and seeing the dogs start in the direction we were running, started with them and hissed them on.
We now came to a fence, which separated us from a wood, which we were soon over, and started through the woods, where we came to a hog-pen. Running directly through this, we put the dogs to fighting with the hogs, which they continued until the men came up, when they drove them off, and one of them again took our track. We had by this time got considerable in advance, but they soon gained on us, and I saw that we would have to defend ourselves, and I told Phelix to get his pistol ready. We placed ourselves behind a tree and made ready to shoot when they should come near enough to us.
They came within ten or fifteen yards of us and stopped, and did not give another bark, although the owners were urging them on. They seemed to have more than common judgment, and saw that there was danger ahead. I have no doubt, from the manner in which they pursued us, that both the dogs and their masters had caught many poor fugitives.
After waiting for some time, and not hearing any thing either of the dogs or men, we started back to the main road and pursued our journey. Near day we found ourselves near a river-bottom, where a hiding-place is always easily found, and secreted ourselves that day. We now felt some-what secure, and gave God the praise that He had brought us safely through our trials thus far, and had delivered us from our enemies. I felt that the Lord would fight our battles until we reached the promised land. I felt what a great privilege it was to watch and pray, and have a mighty Being upon whom to fix our faith and look in time of danger.
About two o'clock in the afternoon we ventured out of our hiding-place, and went down to the river and looked up and down to see if we could discover any craft in which we could cross. I also viewed the opposite shore, to see if there was any thing like a jail there; for I had quite enough of close confinement, and did not care to risk getting in another.
Not seeing any boat on the shore, and feeling
satisfied that there was not much danger on the opposite shore, I hollowed to the ferryman.
He came over and took us across, charging us five cents apiece. He was a rough Indiana man, but was quite friendly, and did not seem to want to know any thing about our business, asking us but very few questions.
After we landed we bethought us of something to eat, as we had no provisions, and although we were in a free country, we were fearful about calling on any one. So we travelled on until we came to some slippery-elm trees, which filled us pretty well, and not being easily digested, lasted us some time.
Travelling on, about ten o'clock the following night we called at the house of a colored man, where we got a good supper, and remained there the rest of the night. The next day we came to a parapet on the Wabash River, in Indiana, and took the steamer and went to Lafayette. There I made arrangements with the captain of a canal-boat to do their cooking and washing, and got Phelix a situation as assistant driver.
In travelling, I always had some place ahead that I was bound for, and I was now travelling for Toledo, where the canal-boat was going. We had a very pleasant trip, and nothing of any moment occurred until we reached Toledo. It was early in the morning when we arrived there, and, in looking around the hotel, I thought I saw a man there who I had known in Tennessee, who
was a merchant. I was considerably frightened when I saw him; for I had never seen but one fugitive that had ever got this far, and this same merchant had him arrested and taken back to Tennessee.
Reconnoitering around, I satisfied myself that I was correct, and thought that the sooner I was out of that place, the better; and, having found Phelix, we went directly to the wharf. We found a steamer, (the old John Owens), and on inquiry, found that she was bound for Detroit, and that the fare was twelve shillings.
I thought that this was my time, and I paid our fares, and, having ascertained that she was going to leave at nine o'clock, felt impatient for her to be off. I had no idea of seeing Canada before we reached Detroit; but when we had been out on the lake for three or four hours, I heard a gentleman say--
"There is Queen Victoria Land."
I felt so surprised, that I asked him what he said.
He again repeated it.
"What land is that?" I asked.
"Canada," said he.
I was instantly on my feet, and gazed anxiously in the direction in which I saw him looking. I saw a cluster of houses, and asked him--
"Is that a town, sir?"
"Yes," he replied, "that is what is called Fort Malven."
This was a new name to me, and he, seeing me look somewhat puzzled, asked--
"Were you ever in this part of the country before?"
I told him that I was not.
"I suppose you are bound for Detroit," said he; "and when you get there, you will only have a river between you and Canada."
"When I get to Detroit, I think I must go over and see the country," said I.
Turning around, he said, "That man lives there."
I addressed the person referred to, and said, "Stranger, do you live in Canada?"
"Yes, sir," he replied.
"What kind of a country is it?" I asked.
"Just like any other country," said he. Some persons like it and some do not." He then asked me if I did not wish a colored boarding-house when I got to Detroit. On my telling him that I did, he told me of one, kept by a man named Debapted, a deacon of the Baptist Church. When the boat landed, two of his sons were there, and conducted us up to their father's house.
We found their father a very sociable old gentleman. He asked us if we were freemen.
I told him we were.
"Well," said he, "you are free now, if you never were before."
These words made me feel like a new man, and
thus, in the fulness of my joy, with the poet, I could exclaim--
"Thus bold, independent, unconquered and free,
My pathway through life untrammelled I'll tread;
For the blessings of freedom have fallen on me;
By the slave's galling chain no more I'll be led."
I tarried with mine host that night, and after breakfast next morning, went out into the city to look for something by which to earn a livelihood. Passing along one of the streets, I noticed a colored man standing rather unconcernedly on the sidewalk.
I began a conversation with him, and asked him if he knew where I could obtain some kind of work.
He asked me what kind of work I could do.
I told him that I was not particular, but could do almost any thing.
He said that he knew of a tavern where, about a week ago, they wanted a cook; but whether they were supplied or not, he did not know. He said that he did not live there, but over the river, in Canada, and had himself come there to look for work, as he could get better wages.
I thought that, perhaps, he might know my brother, and asked him if he knew Washington Campbell.
He said he did.
"What kind of a looking man is he?" I inquired.
He described him to me.
I then asked him about his wife.
He described her.
I asked him if he ever heard him say where he came from.
He said that he had not; but he had heard him say that he had come through Illinois.
Feeling pretty confident that he was my brother, I asked the man where he lived.
He gave me his direction, and told me there was the boat in which I could cross over the river.
"Go ask the eagle, as far on high
He soars above our feeble eye,
If freedom is not the greatest gift to man
Which God e'er granted in His plan;
If he had not rather pain and misery brave,
Than bow to earth--a caged slave."
LEAVING the man standing there, I went on board of the boat, and was soon in the middle of the river on my way to Canada.
Looking back to Detroit, and then forward to Canada, I could hardly realize that this was really myself. I now, for the first time, felt what a blessing freedom really is, and my mind reflected back upon the trials and privations I had endured to obtain it. Forty days was I in prison, as was Elijah, suffering with fear and confinement; but the Lord was my protector, and He opened my way of escape. Forty days was I travelling through the wilderness towards the promised land, with the pillar of God's protection hovering over me through all my journey, and now, after all, in a short time I would step my foot on free soil, where no more could the galling chains of slavery bind my hands and feet, and no more could the oppressor's rod hover over my quaking back.
Then I thought of the strange coincidence of Israel of old being in the wilderness forty years, and I Israel being on my journey forty days, and one of our plantation songs, which I had so often sung, came into my mind--
"Oh, I do believe, I do believe, I am new-born again,
For I have been a long time talking
Of my troubles here below;
Free grace, free grace,--children,
I am new-born again."
We now landed, and, following the directions, I went about five miles on the Chatham road, and found the house designated.
I rapped at the door, and heard a woman's voice say--
I opened the door, bid the woman good-day, and asked her if Mr. Campbell lived there.
She said he did, but he was not at home just then.
She invited me in, and I amused myself for a few minutes by playing with a little dog she had.
Having discovered that she was my brother's wife, I began inquiring of her about his family.
She answered me correctly all that I asked her.
I then inquired whether she had ever heard him speak of a brother Israel.
She said she had, and that he was sold down South into Mississippi.
I was now satisfied that he was my brother, and I introduced myself to her as his brother.
She then went to the field for her husband, but, as I had requested her, did not tell him who I was.
When he came in, I bowed to him and asked him if he did not know me.
He said he did not.
I then asked him if he did not know John Breckenridge, who was one of our old playfellows when we were boys.
"Yes," said he; "but this ain't him, for John is dead."
I knew that John was dead, but I wanted to see if he had heard of it. I then asked him if he did not know Solomon Wilson, our oldest sister's son.
"Yes," said he; "but you are not Solomon, for I have seen him since he has been grown."
After questioning him for a short time about our family, I asked him if he could not see my favor.
He took a good look at me, and then said, "You have got eyes like mine, dimples in your cheeks like mine, features like mine; but you are none of my blood, unless it is my little brother Israel."
I answered, "This is little brother Israel."
He threw his arms around my neck, and we had a long rejoicing; for we both felt that the dead was alive, and the lost found. His wife joined in our joy; for she had often prayed for
our deliverance, and, although her hope was the faintest in my case, (I having been sold so far South,) they were rejoiced to see that I had reached the land of freedom. My brother and I had not met before for over twenty years.
He had recently made a purchase of some forty acres of land, payable in several instalments. He told me that if I chose to help him pay for it, half of it should belong to me, and a part of the stock he then owned.
I agreed to do this, and made his house my home. I had been in Canada but three days when I obtained work in a brickyard, getting ten dollars a month and my board. There being another opening, I went over to Detroit for Phelix.
He went back with me, and looked at the work, but thought it was too hard, and that he could do better in Detroit.
"Well, Phelix," said I, "we have travelled together from Tennessee, and I have assisted you the best I could in getting here. Now, I do not think that you are perfectly free in Detroit, but here you are; and, besides, you promised me, before we left Tennessee, that if I would see you here safe, you would serve the Lord; and now I want you to fulfil that promise, but I am afraid that if you go to Detroit to live, you will meet with many temptations."
He seemed determined to go back, however, and promised me that he would serve the Lord and shun all bad company, and then we parted.
The man who owned the yard in which I was working was named Wiley Reynolds. He had several hands working for him; but after I got to understand it, he said that I was the best hand in his yard.
I was very much in need of clothing when I arrived in Canada, and my brother told me of a Mr. Isaac Rice, who kept a mission-house at Ambersburg, for the supplying of the destitute with clothes, and advised me to make application to him.
I told him that I did not like to do this; that I was able to work, and that seemed too much like begging. Besides, Mr. Reynolds promised to pay me my ten dollars as soon as my month was up, and then I could buy myself some clothing.
When I had worked one month, I applied for my wages; but Mr. Reynolds could not pay me, and wanted me to work another month, and promised me my money in a short time. I needed my money, however, as fast as I could make it, and would not work with him any longer.
At the renewed request of my brother, I now took one of his horses and went to Ambersburg. I called upon Mr. Rice and stated my business. I told him that I was but one month from Southern bondage, and related to him the way I escaped.
I met with a warm reception. He said he was very glad to see me; that he had some clothing, and if any thing would suit me, I should have it.
There was a lady there, named Miss Gibbs, who
was from Boston, and seemed to superintend. He asked her if she thought there was any clothing that would suit me.
She said she would see, and went up stairs. Presently she came down with a suit of clothes, a pair of boots, a blanket, and a bed-quilt. The clothes fitted me very well; but the boots were rather small, so I left them and received the other things. I felt very grateful for them, and thanked them for their kindness to me.
Miss Gibbs asked me if I would not like to have a Bible.
I told her I would.
She then brought me one and wrote my name in it. She asked me if I ever drank any spirituous liquor.
I told her that sometimes I did.
She wished to know what good it done me.
I told her that we took a dram down South to keep us from taking cold when we got wet, and to warm us on a cold morning.
She said that was all a notion; cold water was just as good; and asked me if I could not promise not to drink any more.
I told her that I did not like to make such a promise, as I never drank enough to hurt me.
"Well," said she, handing me the Bible, "remember, Mr. Campbell, when you take a dram, that God sees you."
I thanked her, bid them good-day, and started for home, feeling amply rewarded for my day's
journey; but I could not help thinking on those words--"Remember that God sees you."
Not long after, I was invited to a house-raising. There was a man there by the name of Edward Justice; and he and I being the two best cornermen, we carried up two corners apiece, and he took his liquor pretty freely. Seeing that he was getting pretty well intoxicated, I said--
"Mr. Justice, you had better let some one take your place;" for I was fearful that he would fall off the house and hurt himself.
He got quite angry at this, and began cursing and swearing, and said to me, "You think I am drunk," and went on abusing me.
I did not retaliate, however, and he soon came down from the house, took his axe, and started for home. I then reflected upon the words of Miss Gibbs, and thought upon the fruits of intemperance, and thought that if liquor could ever get such a hold upon any man, it might overcome me, and I would give up taking even a dram as a beverage. I have never joined any Temperance Society, for I believe in being temperate in all things.
My brother was living, at this time, on a leased farm. I advised him to move on our own land, and when his lease was up, we done so, which took place that same fall. We lived in a log-cabin that winter, and felt quite independent to think we were living on our own land. We began clearing up the land, and by selling the best wood
and burning the rest into charcoal, we succeeded in paying off the last dollar of our indebtedness. We now built a hewed-log house sixteen feet wide and thirty-six feet in length, weather-boarded it up on the outside and painted it nicely, and built a brick chimney.
After our house was finished, we set out a small apple-orchard, and continued improving our land. It was common in Canada to use carts, instead of wagons; but I preferred the wagon, and told my brother that we must have one.
He thought we could not afford it; but I told him that I could do most of the wood work myself, and where there was a will there was a way, and set to work to accomplish it. We took the cart-wheels for the hind ones, and burned charcoal and bought the fore ones. I made the running-gear and body, and in a few weeks we had a cart and wagon both.
There were only three of us in the family,--my brother, his wife, and myself,--and we were all praying persons; and while we were improving in fortune, we tried to improve in grace. I often went nine and ten miles to preach, sometimes twice a day. We lived peaceably and contentedly together, and made the interest of all the interest of each.
We soon got a pair of Canadian ponies and a buggy, and were getting along finely. I had not, however, forgotten the promise I made to my daughter when I left Tennessee, and was waiting
with great patience for an answer to a letter I had written the same fall that I had arrived in Canada. I wrote my letter as follows:
"CANADA, September 10th, 1849.
"My Dear Friends:
"I take this opportunity to address you a few lines to inform you of my safe arrival in Canada,--the land of the free and the home of the brave, and an asylum for the slave. I was forty days on the road, and had no very serious difficulty more than is common to those making their escape, and I am well pleased with this country. If you desire it, you can marry either black or white, as there is no legal distinction of color. So should it be.
"Now, my dear friends, I wish you to read this letter to Mansfield, Richmond, Roseanna and Maria. Tell them that I am coming back after them. Tell them to be ready to leave whenever I come, and tell Mansfield and Richmond that I want them to have twenty dollars apiece to help themselves along. Tell them not to give up looking for me under four years, for I will come back if I live.
I directed my letter to one of old master's neighbor's boys, named Wyatt Taylor.
"I GRANT the deed
Is madness; but madness of the heart.
Hence strategem delights, and surprise
Is his familiar wear."
No answer came to my letter, and I thought I would make the journey whether I received one or not. The next fall I started, and succeeded in getting to Kentucky without much difficulty. I called on my mother rather unexpectedly, and surprised her by calling there in the middle of the night. When I had made myself known to her and got seated, she said--
"My son, where in the world are you going now? You wrote to me that you had got to Canada."
"Yes, I did, mother," I replied; "but I have started back after Maria and some of my friends whom I have left behind."
"Israel," said she, "have you got the assurance to try and go back to Tennessee?"
"Yes, ma'am," I answered, "that is just what I started from Canada for."
"If you do not mind, the white people will catch and kill you. The Lord blessed you to get to Canada, and now you will not stay there."
"Mother, I cannot be satisfied until I make an effort to get Maria out of slavery," said I.
The conversation then turned upon my brother and his family, and how they were getting along, and other things, such as my journey to Canada, what I was doing there, and how I got back to Kentucky. I then began making preparation to continue my journey, when my mother said to me--
"Israel, do you really intend to go back to Tennessee?"
"Yes, ma'am, that's what I hope to do," I answered.
She folded her arms and looked me in the face wishfully, and said, "My son, I think it will be the means of shortening my days if you go back to Tennessee."
My mind changed when she said this, and I said, "Well, mother, I will not go now. I will go back to Canada. But I must come back again; and the next time I start, I will not tell you any thing about it." I then told her that I must stop there some few days, as I wished to see some of the rest of my friends.
She was in some trouble as to where I should stay, as it would not do for any of the white people to know that I was there. I proposed staying in the loft; but she said--
"The white ladies come here to see me three or four times a week, and you might cough or sneeze while they are here, and that would betray you."
I told her that I would risk that if she was willing for me to stay there.
She asked her husband, and he thought there was no danger, and then she was willing, and said, "The Lord is truly good to me; for if we had not this loft, there is no place about this house where you could stay; and your father has just cleaned it out and fixed it up to day,--the Lord, as it were, preparing a place for you to stay, although you did not know it."
I now retired to bed. The next morning I eat my breakfast, and, taking some bed-clothes, retired to my hiding-place. About ten o'clock, Widow Finney, the mistress of my mother's husband, came in and staid there till near noon. In the afternoon Mr. Finney's daughter came in, so that I had to remain very quiet during the day. I staid there three days and acted as a missionary at nights. That visit resulted in the liberation of six persons.
I then returned to Canada and pursued my usual business of helping my brother on his farm.
"TIGHTER and tighter are the cords
Of human bondage drawn,
Until, in sympathy sincere,
Nature cries out against such vile injustice.
* * * *
There, in solemn conclave, we were seated,
Pondering o'er what our future was to be."
WHEN the Fugitive Slave Bill was passed in the United States, there was an exciting time among the fugitives in Canada, and especially among those who yet remained in the Border States. They came over by scores, and the British barracks, as well as every vacated house, were filled with them.
The fugitives all assembled together, and called a Convention to determine what was best to do. The Convention met at Sandwich, Canada West. While we were there transacting our business, all at once quite a number got up and left the room.
The President arose and requested all the gentlemen not to leave the room, as there would soon be no one to transact the business. I heard some one say--
"There is a slave-dealer out here."
I said, on the impulse of the moment, "Let him come in and see how we are transacting business."
He would not come in, however, and I felt as if I must see him, and went out also. There was quite a crowd around him, listening to his story. The first words I heard him say distinctly were--
"That I told her, if she wished to go back, and had not the wherewith to go, I would furnish her with sufficient means."
I then stepped forward and said to him, "My friend, what do you want here?"
"I came here to see about my business," he replied.
"You have no business here," said I, "and you had better be getting away."
"I will leave when I get through with my business, and not before," he answered.
"I will show you whether you will or not," said I, and started towards him, looking very vicious.
Some of our friends said to me, "Do not interfere with the man. Give him a fair chance."
"Give him a chance?" said I. "What chance would he give you if he was to catch you in the United States?"
I then felt quite provoked; and, as he saw that I was bound to injure him, he took to his legs and began running away, with about one hundred after him, throwing sticks and stones. He was badly frightened. The road that he took made it necessary for him to pass by the gate that went into the jail. The constable was standing there, and opened the gate of the jail and told him to go in there; which he did.
The constable then told the colored people that he would put him jail, which pacified them. They went back to the Convention and attended to the business.
We afterwards learned that they took the man out the back way and sent him over to Detroit. I never heard of his being in Canada after that.
The Convention adopted measures to provide for the fugitives by sending agents to the benevolent public to collect money, food and clothing. I was appointed one of the agents where I lived, and soon began operations. I met with many friends with liberal hearts and hands, which were ever open to relieve the wants of the suffering. I have collected as much as a hundred dollars a month, which I reported to the public through the Fugitive, a paper published by Mr. Henry Bibb. I also acted as agent for the paper at the same time, and endeavored to be as useful as possible.
I had never had an opportunity of observing the influence of parties in the Free States. I knew nothing about Abolitionists, only what I had heard of them in the South, where they bore the very worst character, and I still retained my prejudices against them. In travelling around, however, I found that many of my white friends and those who were the most liberal to my cause were called Abolitionists, but I found them true-hearted philanthrophists.
My duties as an agent learned me a great lesson. I had a good opportunity of studying human
nature and learning the motives which influenced the great mass of men. This I endeavored to improve, and have found it very useful in the predatory life which I have since led. One or two examples, which impressed themselves on my mind at the time, may not be uninteresting:
One evening, as I was travelling through Michigan, I came to a house where there were two very fine little boys, apparently ten or twelve years of age, sitting in the doorway.
I asked them if their parents were at home.
They said they were not, but had gone to the village.
I told them that I thought I would stop and see if I could not get permission to stay there over night.
One of the boys said that he thought his parents would be willing; that they would soon be home; and asked me to sit down.
I took a seat and talked with the boys until their father and mother returned. When they came in, I introduced myself to them and told them my object in calling.
The man answered, "We could not keep you very well, as our beds are all occupied, but I can tell you where you can stop. Go up the road to the first house on the right hand side, and there you will be almost sure to be accommodated."
Off I started. "There is something wrong there," thought I. "Either the boys or the parents
have not told the whole truth." But I thought it was the latter. I soon reached the house that had been pointed out, and rapped at the door.
A voice said, "Come in."
I went in, bowed, bid them good evening, and told them my business and request.
"We never turn any body out of doors," said the man. "Help thyself to a chair."
I thought to myself that he must be a Quaker, judging from his language.
"Has thee been to supper this evening?" he inquired.
"No, sir," I replied.
His wife immediately began to prepare me something. While she was doing this, we entered into conversation.
"Did any one send thee here?" inquired the old gentleman.
"The gentleman at the next house north directed me here," said I.
"Did thee ask to stop there?" he asked.
"I did, sir; but he said he could not accommodate me, as his beds were all occupied," I answered.
"I am glad he sent thee here," said he; "for I would hate for thee to stop with such a man. I suppose you are travelling?"
"I am, sir, in every direction," I replied. "I am an agent of the Fugitive Convention of Canada, and am soliciting money and clothing for them."
"Well, I will take my team in the morning and
we will see what can be done for thy cause," said he.
I was very pleasantly entertained that night, and the next morning he geared up his horses and we went around the neighborhood, and I think we got something at every house at which we called that day. We returned to my friend's that night with a good wagon-load, and I remained there again that night. The next morning he secured a house for me to lecture in, and went around and gathered up another load that day. At night I had quite a good congregation, and gave them a lecture on what I had seen in slavery, and sung them some anti-slavery songs, which pleased the two little boys, of whom I spoke, very much, and they came to me and asked me to come over to their house and stay; that they had more beds than they ever used.
But I declined, and the next morning their mother came to Mr. Waterman's to buy some of my anti-slavery ballads, and apologized for not permitting me to stop there that night.
I left my kind friends and went into another town in a different part of the country, and made a number of calls, but got no assistance. Some would say they had nothing to give for the niggers. Others would not even invite me in their houses. The rest said they would rather give money to send the niggers back to their masters.
I thought to myself, "The fugitive has no friends here," and I started for another part of the
country. Going along, I saw a very fine house standing near the roadside, and thought I would certainly be successful in getting something there. I went up to it and found two ladies. I told them my story, and asked if they could not do something for my cause. I conversed with them for some time, and the lady of the house informed me that her husband was about half a mile from the house at work, and I might go and see him.
I asked her if they were Democrats or Republicans in that district.
She said they were all Democrats.
I asked her if her husband was a Democrat.
She said he was, and a strong one, at that.
"Then it is hardly worth while for me to go and see him," said I; "for I have been trying among the Democrats all day, and have not got any thing yet."
"Well," said she, "you might see my husband. He is a benevolent and liberal man sometimes, and I think he will give you something."
"Well, madam," said I, "I do not think it is of much use; but if you think he will give me something, I will go and see."
I then went into the field where he was at work. I found him, and introduced myself and business.
He took my subscription-book, read it very carefully, and then told me that I was engaged in a good cause.
I thanked him for his good wishes, and asked
him if he could not give me something to help my cause along.
He said that he would be glad to help me, but could not spare any thing that day.
I said that I did not expect to get much from him, but that I had told his wife I would see him.
He wished to know why I thought so.
I told him I had been travelling in that settlement among Democrats, and had not got any thing yet.
He laughed heartily at this.
I bid him good-day, and tried further, but with no success among the Democrats.
The next day I reached a Republican and Abolition settlement, and found them more liberal towards my cause. I made a good collection there, and met with a warm reception. I travelled mostly on foot on my excursion through the country, which enabled me to go much faster and adapt myself more to circumstances.
While on my return to Detroit, I had occasion to stop at a tavern, which was situated on a hill. I called for my dinner. There were, beside myself, some six or seven men there, who were in the bar-room, drinking, swearing, and chewing tobacco, who were also waiting for their dinner.
When the bell rang, I started with the others into the dining-room.
The landlord met me at the door, and told me
that I could not eat until the other men were done.
I asked him the reason for this, and told him that I was neither a horse nor a cow, and that I would neither hook nor bite; that I could eat off my own plate, and eat what I put on it; that he told me I could get my dinner there, and that I wanted to eat it.
He said that I could not eat until those men were done.
"Very well, sir," said I, "you have a right to do as you please in your own house," and I turned around, took up my carpet-bag, and walked out. I felt quite indignant to think that he should want me to wait until those drunken fellows had picked every thing clean, and I to pay as much as they for what I got. I went to another tavern, about a quarter of a mile further on, and rapped at the door.
A young man opened the door, and I asked him if I could get my dinner there.
The family were then at dinner, and the landlord called out from the dining-room, and said, "Tell him to walk right in and take a seat."
I went into the dining-room. There was a company of ladies and gentlemen seated at the table. They insisted on my sitting down, and paid me all the attention I could wish for.
I said to the landlord, "There are no colored persons about here now, are there?"
"No, sir," he answered. "There were a great
many before the Fugitive Slave Law passed, but they have all left now."
"I thought so," said I; "for prejudice, I find, is pretty high in some places hereabouts. I stopped at Carr's tavern, just above here, and he had six or seven drunken fellows there to dinner, and he told me that I would have to wait until they were done. So I thought I would go on a little further, and am fortunate enough to find your house."
"Well," said he, "you will not find any thing very good here."
"I am the best judge of that," I replied. I eat a hearty dinner. I then went into the bar-room sang several of the anti-slavery songs, sold several of my ballads, got my dinner for fifteen cents, and went on my way rejoicing.
The following digression I will introduce here, not so much as an incident of my journey as to show the views entertained on the subject by the slaves, as also to show how my prejudices were abolished, and I was led to look upon the entire creation of man as one great brotherhood, irrespective of race or color.
While I was a slave in the South I thought and was taught that it was a very great crime for the Anglo-Saxon and the African to intermarry, and I never knew of such a thing until I went to Canada. Even then I thought it very unbecoming, and have often said I would sooner suffer my head to be cut off before I would ever marry a white woman; for while I was in the South there
was nothing that I was as afraid of as white women, for they could have a black man's neck broke just as easy as they were of a mind to tell a falsehood on him.
I have been going along the road, and, upon seeing a white woman coming towards me, would get out of the road and go through the woods, for fear they would raise a lie about me and have me punished. And now, to even think of marrying one, although it was lawful, was a thing I could not bring my mind to entertain. I had no bitter hatred against them, but held them to be full of deceit and trickery.
There was, however, a great change came over my mind during the first ten years I was in Canada, and produced mostly by the knowledge I gained of human nature during my missionary tour for the Fugitives' Convention. I then learned that it was not the color of the skin, nor the straightness of the hair, that makes the man or woman; and I believe, as St. Peter declared when preaching in the house of Cornelius, that God is no respecter of persons; that "he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness in every nation is acceptable with Him;" and, although I think it is better that the white and colored people should not intermarry on grounds of policy, I do not think it is the prerogative of any man to say who I shall marry, if I love them, whether they be white or black, if the marriage is acceptable to the parties interested. And especially among
Christians should the rule be predominant, to choose from merit, and judge of a person's fitness from their qualifications, rather than from color or station.
Thus far, although I am a citizen of the amiable Queen of Britain, I am a Democrat and a lover of true Republican institutions.
I now returned from my tour, during which time I had collected considerable clothing, provisions and money, all of which I saw deposited in the proper place, and made acknowledgment for the same.
"KNOWLEDGE is power, the poet sings;
Mankind on ignorance contempt doth throw;
Knowledge, unsanctified, is a dangerous thing,--
The greater knowledge, the greater woe."
DURING my whole life, and especially since I had been free from the bonds of slavery, I had felt the want of an education, if it were only of the primary branches. I now began thinking if there was not some way by which I might obtain such knowledge, and thought of giving up my agency and going to school.
The Convention, however, were unwilling to let me resign, and for the good of the cause in which I was engaged, I did not push my views at this time, but concluded to defer them awhile until some more opportune time should present itself.
I now took a missionary tour in the Western reserve of Ohio. I found a great many warm hearts there and a great interest in the cause. I collected quite a large quantity of clothing and money and returned home.
During this tour I met a young lady, who was a teacher, and she partly promised me that she would come to Canada and open a school, and if she could make arrangements, she was to let me
know. When I returned, I expected to find a letter from her on that subject.
On my return, I found but one letter at the office for me, and that was postmarked Missouri. I could not think that it was intended for me, and started from the office. After I had got a short distance, the thought occurred to me, that it might be from this teacher. I went back, paid the postmaster the postage (ten cents), with the privilege of returning it if it was not for me. I took the letter across the street to a grocery, where I was acquainted, and got it read. It proved to be an answer to the letter I had written to Tennessee directly after my arrival in Canada. I will give you the letter, and it will explain itself. It bore no date:
"I now take my pen in hand to give you an answer to the letter you wrote to me when you got to Canada. I attended the post-office regularly for some several months after you left. But when I heard that you were caught and sold again, I did not attend so regularly.
"One Saturday master went to the post-office, and the postmaster handed him a letter for me. There were several in the office, and master's brother among the rest. When he saw that the letter was mailed from Detroit, he said you had got to Canada, and had written back here to me, and said to my master--
" 'I want to know what's in that letter.'
"All the men in the office then became excited and anxious to know what was in it also. So master had to open it. When they read what was in it, they told my master that he must never let me know any thing about it;
that it would put the d--l in the slaves' heads, and they would all be for running away. They wanted to keep it perfectly quiet, so that they might catch you if you should ever venture to come back.
"This is the only letter I have ever received from you since you left. Master brought the letter home, and asked me some questions about you, and said that he had got a letter from you, and told me all that was said in the postoffice.
"Some time after that, I got hold of the letter, and went and read it to your friends, just as you wished me to do. They were all glad to hear from you, and are well pleased at your coming after them. Mansfield and Richmond have forty dollars to aid them in getting to Canada when you come.
"Now, I have not failed to write to you because I did not wish to do so,--it was because I was afraid. But now my master has sold out in Tennessee and moved to the State of Missouri.
"I still remain your friend,
I succeeded in getting up a school that winter in Canada on our own place, and my brother's wife and myself attended regularly for three months. We made rapid improvement.
"How cruel this! More cruel to forbear!
Our nature such, with necessary pains,
We purchase prospects of precarious peace."
ON the first Monday in January, as is common, an election for officers of the roads and school districts was held. At this election all real estate owners had a vote, and I, among others, went to the polls to vote for such men as I thought would best magnify their office. Having learned from one of my neighbors that some ruffians had prevented him from voting the previous year, I went determined that they should not prevent my voting.
When we first went to the polls there were four of us in company. I asked the gentleman that stood in the door, if there was any admittance.
He said, "The room is full. You had better go to the other door."
I went to the other door and asked if there was any admittance.
The man who stood there said, "When it comes to your turn, you can go in."
There were several white men, whose time came before mine. The first man in order went in, and having to wait some time, two of our party became
weary and left the crowd. The other man and myself were left, and we resolved to see the result of the effort.
When it came my turn to go in, my friend, who stood behind me, and who would have been next, was seized by some ruffians, who began their dirty work, and they said he should not vote. I heard the voice of an Irishman exclaim against him. So far no one had interfered with me. I heard my friend say--
"Let me go."
I looked back and saw a large Frenchman have him by the collar, and perceiving that my friend was too timid to protect himself, I turned around, seized the Frenchman's hand and loosened it.
He then caught me by the collar, and I seized him. Another man came up, and I took his cudgel with my other hand. Two or three of them then picked me up and carried me across the road, as the snow was from eighteen inches to two feet deep, and made an effort to throw me into it; but I held the Frenchman fast by the collar and still retained my hold of the other man's club, and they failed in their object.
By this time we had raised quite an excitement. and the Canadian constable came running up, and said--
"I command peace, in the name of the Queen!"
I held fast, however, until they loosed my hands. A lawyer, who had been a friend in other times, came up at that time and asked--
"Campbell, what is the matter?"
"Why, these fellows want to keep me down from voting," I answered.
"Contend for your rights," said he. "You have as much right to vote as any body; and if any of them hurts you, let me know, and I will defend you."
The crowd then dispersed. I went back to the polls, but found no other colored man there. Seeing a pile of wood and an axe near by, I cut me a club, intending to leave the profile of the first man that attacked me on the ground. I had not more than got my club made, when the constable came up to me and demanded it in the name of the Queen.
My prospects of getting a vote were rather gloomy. I studied awhile, and another idea occurred to me. I went up to Windsor. There I met Mr. Reynolds, and I told him my plan. We agreed to call a meeting of the colored inhabitants, and circulated the news around pretty rapidly, and as the barracks were pretty well filled with men, it was not much trouble to raise a very respectable meeting.
We appointed a Moderator, and Mr. Reynolds called on me to state the objects of the meeting.
This I did in as vivid a manner as possible, stating the occurrence of the day, and telling my countrymen that we came here to enjoy our rights which are granted to us by the British Constitution and the Queen, who knew no man by his color, and that we should not submit to any such
infamous prejudice. After having got my hearers pretty well interested in the cause, I called on all who were willing to meet me at the polls, to give their assent by saying aye.
The ayes arose from almost the entire meeting.
I told them that we wanted even those who were not entitled to a vote to go to see that those who were could enjoy the privilege.
The next morning about forty of us assembled and went to the polls. The ruffians saw us coming and got out of the way, and those who were entitled deposited their votes. Many of our party were quite disappointed, as they expected to have what they called some fun, and many of them went armed with bowie-knives, pistols and clubs. Some of them came to me and wanted to know where those men were that kept us from voting. Just at that moment one of the party, a Frenchman by the name of Lisperause, passed by where we were standing, and I said--
"Mr. Lisperause, why don't you keep us from voting to-day? You was in the crowd yesterday."
He said, "Campbell, then you no pass for me; now me no pass for you."
I saw that we had them badly frightened, and said nothing more. I then thought of the old adage, that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
We never had any trouble, to my knowledge, in voting after that. I continued to go to school during that winter.
"How prone to prejudice is half mankind!
The satcheled schoolboy and old age, we find,
Forsake their reason and their feelings please;
Unless despotic, are never at their ease."
ANOTHER instance where I upheld the rights of my countrymen and broke down a conspiracy, is the following:
One day, during the summer following the incidents which I have related in the preceding chapter, I had occasion to go to Sandwich to mill, riding a very fine bay horse. I there met an Irishman with a yoke of oxen.
He proposed a trade. This suited me very well, as we needed a yoke of oxen on our new farm.
I bargained, that if he would give me the cattle, yoke and chain, I would trade.
To this he agreed, and said that he had to take his cart home; but any day I would deliver my horse, he would deliver the oxen.
A few days afterwards I saddled my horse and started off to get the cattle. Before reaching his house, I had to pass through an Irish settlement. It was commonly reported that the Irish bore a hatred against the colored people, and had threatened,
that if any of them attempted to pass through their settlement, they would kill them. I thought I would risk it, however. I had not more than entered their precincts, before some of them began to hollow after me and call me names. I did not notice them, but rode on.
Presently two others began to hollow after me, but I paid no attention to them. At length I came to a house, where I thought I would inquire as to the probabilities of my not being allowed to go on peaceably.
An old gentleman, rather grave and peaceable looking, came out.
I told him what I had heard, and asked him if he thought there would be any danger in my continuing on.
"Well," said he, "you are pretty near white yourself. I do not think any body will interfere with you."
While I was talking with him, two men came up, who were going the same way as myself, and began shaking their fists at me and talking to the old gentleman. I saw that they were possessed with a bad spirit, and I thought I had better go back.
I left the old gentleman and started back home. I soon saw a man beckoning to me to stop, but I did not pay any attention to him. He then began to run after me, and, as I did not try to get away from him, he soon came nearly up to me.
I told him not to come near me.
"I am a friend," said he. "I want to talk with you on some business."
I then stopped my horse.
"You needn't have any fears while you are with me. You shall not be hurt," said he. "Your people are coming rapidly from the States over here, and I wish to know if you cannot tell me of any of them that have property in Detroit which they would like to trade for property here. If you should hear of any of them that have, send them to me, and I will give them a good bargain."
While we were talking, three more men came to where we were standing, and one of them said to me--
"Did I not see you go by here awhile ago?"
I told him he did.
He wished to know what I was going for, and why I did not keep on.
I told him that I was going to the River of Pruse to get a yoke of oxen I had traded for; but as the Irish seemed to wish to molest me, I thought it best to turn back. "But," I added, "if I had had some colored man with me for witness as to what might have taken place, I would have went through."
"You could not have went through this settlement if you had thirty colored men," said he.
"Yes, I could," I replied.
"If you did, there would be some shooting done," said he.
"Well," returned I, "there would be shooting
on both sides; for there's law in this country that will justify travelling on the Queen's highway."
"We do not care for law here," said he.
He then asked me if I did not want to trade my horse. He said he had one, which, if I would go to his house, he would give me a bargain.
The man who stopped me remonstrated against it, and told me that he only wanted to get me back there to hurt me. He told the man, that if he wanted to trade, to go and bring his horse there.
I noticed the man that spoke to me take a stick out of a boy's hand, and walked around me at if he wanted to give me a blow. I slyly looked around and kept my eye on him.
He whispered to another man who was by his side. I thought that they had made up their minds to injure me. By this time the crowd had increased to half a dozen, and I thought it best to be getting out of their way. I said--
"Good day, gentlemen," and rode off.
I had gone but a few steps when the man who had the club gave me a blow on my right side, which came very near knocking me off my horse. When I had sufficiently recovered to look around, I saw him running away as fast as he could, and the man who had first stopped me was upbraiding him for his conduct. I turned to the parties that were left, and said--
"Bear me witness, gentlemen. I am attacked on the Queen's highway without any cause."
The man who appeared to be my friend said he would bear witness.
I then turned to the man to whom the one that struck me whispered, and asked him if he would bear me witness.
"No; I did not see him strike you," he replied.
"You knew it," said I, "for I believe he told you." I dismounted and picked up the stick, which was a hickory one with the club at one end of it nearly as broad as a man's fist. The club end was the one which had hit me, and I thought that two of my ribs were surely broken. I felt the effects of the blow for nearly six months, if not more. I said I would show the club to Squire Woodbridge.
I then rode on for about half a mile, when I was stopped by a man, who proposed a trade of horses. While I was talking to him, two boys came along, one of whom had furnished the man with the club.
I asked him if he knew the man's name that struck me.
He said he did, but that he was afraid to tell me, for the man would whip him.
I told him that I would give him a pretty knife.
But he would not tell me for that.
I then offered him fifty cents.
This was also ineffectual.
I had, however, a little dog which belonged to my sister-in-law. The boy seemed to take a liking
to it, and said that if I would give him that, he would tell me.
I told him that I would, provided he would tell me the man's name and residence, although the dog belonged to my sister-in-law.
He said that his name was Mike Reilly, and that he lived over by the furnace.
I asked him if he had told me the truth.
He declared that he had, and I gave him the dog.
I then returned home without further molestation. The next morning I went to the Squire's office and entered my complaint, and got out a warrant.
The Squire told me to appear at one o'clock.
At the appointed time I was there, and in about half an hour the constable appeared, accompanied by Mike Reilly.
Squire Woodbridge then called upon me to make my charge, which I did.
He then asked Rielly if he ever saw me or that club before.
He would not answer their questions.
Squire Wilkinson, who was also there, said, "You may know he is guilty, for he has nothing to say."
Squire Woodbridge then gave him a lecture, and told him that he had heard they did not care for the law in the Irish settlement, and had threatened to shoot any colored persons who might venture to pass through there. He then bound
him over to keep the peace for twelve months, and told him, that if he broke the peace in that time, he would have to pay twenty pounds in behalf of the Queen, and the bail, fifteen pounds. He also fined him six dollars. He then told him that if he could pay the fine and get any one to go his security, he could go home; but if he could not, he would have to go to jail, and remain there until the court opened, and then he might have to go to Kingston and be put into the penitentiary. He told him that if he wanted to get security, the constable would go with him."
They went out together, and in a short time returned with a man as security.
Squire Woodbridge then said, "I have made this as light on you as I thought the case would admit of. I have heard of the conduct of you Irish before; but as this is the first case we have ever had brought before us, we have been lenient, and I want you to tell your Irish friends, that when they see colored people passing, not to molest them. You Irish came here because you could not live in your own country, but these colored people came here to enjoy the freedom they could not obtain in other places, and the law protects them, and the Queen thinks just as much of them as she does of you."
I mentally exclaimed, "The Lord bless the Queen!"
We both left the office, and this was the breaking up of the Irish conspiracy.
"WHAT wealth in souls that soar, dive or range around,
From their materials sifted and refined.
* * * * *
Who wishes life immortal, proves it,
To find the being which alone can know
And praise His works."
I WORKED on our farm the remainder of that season. When the crops had been harvested, I went into Ohio and lectured.
One evening I delivered a lecture in Northfield, and told my friends that I was then endeavoring to get assistance to go to school during the winter. There was a gentleman present by the name of James Darling. He was a teacher by profession, and had taught school in that district during the winter, and thought of beginning again in a short time. He came the next morning to where I was, and told me about his hearing my lecture, and said that he had taken an interest in me. He told me of his school, and said that if I had a mind to attend, he would give me my tuition gratis, and would get me a way of earning a livelihood while I was attending school.
I accepted his offer, and as soon as he opened
and I had made arrangements, I began my school-life again.
He had a very fine school, comprised of both sexes and almost all ages, under twenty-five. He was a very amiable teacher, and was admired very much by the scholars. They all tried to make my life as pleasant as possible.
The scholars often invited me to their houses to stay over night, when I would sing my anti-slavery songs and tell them the story of my Southern bondage and how I escaped.
We had a Literary and Debating Society connected with the school, in which both master and scholars took a lively interest, and I used to think the teacher dreaded me in debate, as the question was nearly always decided in favor of the side which I took. The last night of the session, however, the decision was against us, although I was sure that our side had the best arguments.
The teacher told me next morning, that it was preconcerted, even if we had the best of the argument, to decide against us, as they did not wish me to leave without being beat; but it was done with the kindest of feelings.
About this time there was a Free Mission Baptist Convention held in Lafayette, Ohio. Elder Huer, who was then preaching at Bedford, came by the school and insisted on my going with him to the Convention.
During the session I was called upon to preach,
and one morning the Committee announced that Brother Campbell would preach at one o'clock.
The announcement took all my appetite away, so that I was unable to eat scarcely a mouthful of dinner. I thought, however, that it would not do for me to decline at this time, and began preparing myself for the duty. I retired to a secret place, and there strengthened myself by prayer. When the hour for preaching arrived, I entered the pulpit and called upon one of the brothers to open the meeting by singing. I then called upon another to pray. I felt incompetent and trembling for the task before me; but I looked to the Lord for my strength, for I felt that nothing could be done without His aid.
As soon as I had began speaking, my fears all disappeared, and I felt the power of the Spirit come over me. I saw a number of the congregation in tears, and I hope that many persons who attended that Convention may have the pleasure of reading this little book, and that this will bring again to their minds how the colored schoolboy, by the Spirit of God, caused them to laugh and cry.
When I closed my remarks, Elder Huer moved that a collection be taken up for Brother Campbell, which was seconded by Brother Elder Scott, and in less than ten minutes they handed me twenty dollars. I heard some of the ladies say that they saw persons give who never gave before.
All of my most cheering and satisfactory labors
have been when I have relied entirely upon God's assistance for my utterance, and I am convinced that there would be much less bitter complaining of lukewarmness and backsliding if ministers would live more prayerful and faithful lives.
The brethren now began to take quite an interest in me. Elder Huer told them that I was trying to get an education to prepare myself for future usefulness, and that I was worthy of some assistance.
They then spoke to me about going to Oberlin College. Some were not altogether willing for me to go there, as they did not like the theology taught there, and also thought that Oberlin theology and Baptist theology did not harmonize,--the one teaching much work and the other much faith.
One of the brethren, however, said that he owned a scholarship at Oberlin, and if I would go there, my tuition should cost me nothing, which decided in favor of Oberlin.
"To cheat and steal appeared their trade,
For bound together were they;
To what one said they all agreed,
And I, poor wight, made pay."
* * * *
"To do my duty, this my aim;
But envious detraction lifts her hydra-head,
And seeks my shame,--the means false friends."
WHEN I had settled the matter of my going to Oberlin, as soon as I could make it convenient, I went to Canada to make preparation.
Trying to raise means for my support while I was attending college, I bethought me of every thing I could part with for that purpose. I had a very fine Canadian poney, and as it was not needed on the farm, I thought I would dispose of that to help me along. I took it over to Detroit and put it at the livery stable for inspection and sale. Quite a number of gentlemen came to look at it, and I had a number of offers.
One man offered me a village lot out West.
I told him that I did not want land, and especially in the States.
At length a German invited me to go home with him, and said that he thought we could make a bargain.
I agreed to let him have the poney for forty dollars, and reserve the bridle, saddle and blanket.
In the room where the bargain was made there were four or five Germans, and from what I saw, I judged that they understood the English language.
When we had concluded the bargain, he invited me into another room to pay me, I leaving the poney standing at the door. As we left the room, he spoke to one of the men in German.
As we went into the other room, the man spoken to started towards the door where the poney was standing. When we got into the room, he counted but thirty dollars.
I told him that was not enough,--that he was to give me forty dollars.
He insisted that he was to give me only thirty dollars for the poney, bridle, saddle and all.
I told him that I would not take that amount, and started to get the poney, but it was gone. I asked him where the poney was.
He said that he had bought it and taken it away, and that he could prove by these men that thirty dollars was the bargain; "and," said he, "you have got to take that, for you cannot get the poney."
I hesitated awhile. At length, thinking it was best to get off as well as possible, I took the amount and told him that I thought I was dealing with gentlemen, but was deceived.
Even of the thirty dollars, three of them were
counterfeit. This I considered the worst bargain I ever made, and had it happened in Canada, I would have had justice.
I remained at home until about the first of June, when I succeeded in making arrangements to go to Oberlin. Thinking that I could now prove successful in getting my emancipation papers from my last master, I wrote to him at this time as follows:
"CANADA WEST, June 6th, 1854.
"My Dear Sir:
"I now take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well and doing well in Canada,--not under the wing of the Eagle, but under the paw of the Lion,--where a slave cannot breathe; and when the Lion roars, nations tremble under his protection. I have found a peaceable home, and have come to the conclusion, as I was with you but a few weeks, I am willing to give you one hundred and fifty dollars if you will give me my free papers and relinquish all claims to me.
"Please write and let me know if you will accept of my offer. My respects to you and yours and all of my inquiring friends.
"Direct your letter to Washington Campbell, Windsor, Canada West, and then I will be certain to get it.
I told my brother, when I left home, to send the answer, should any come, to me. I now proceeded to Oberlin, and was duly installed as a student.
I attended church, prayer-meeting and the lectures regularly through the week, and on the Sabbath would visit and preach in the country
churches, mostly among the Baptist denomination. One Saturday I went to Akron and preached at the Baptist and Disciple churches.
Elder Joy, the pastor of the Baptist Church, invited me to stop and deliver a lecture on anti-slavery on Monday evening.
I accepted the invitation. During my lecture I spoke of my eldest daughter, and of my intention of going back after her.
After the lecture, Elder Joy invited me home with him.
I told him about my life in slavery, and the difficulty I had in getting away.
He thought it would be unsafe for me to go back. He said I could be of great benefit to my brethren in Canada and the the Northern States; and if I would give up the idea of going back, he would go to Cleveland and see elders Adams and J. Hyatt Smith, the Baptist pastors of that place, and see if they could not buy her for me. He saw them, and they agreed to buy her if she could be bought.
So Elder Smith wrote a letter to my old Master Garner. It was a very kind and affectionate letter, and when he read it to me before he sent it, it caused me to shed tears, and I thought it was enough to make any slaveholder repent and be almost willing to free his slaves for nothing.
But it did not have the desired effect on old master, for we never had any response. I suppose the reason was, that they had not forgotten
my letter to Wyatt Taylor, and were determined that I should not get any intelligence from there; and they supposed that I was only trying to find out whether I could get access there or not.
I never received an answer to but one of some half a dozen letters which I wrote to the South, and that was the one from Wyatt Taylor.
A little incident occurred about this time, which convinced me of the just dealing, even in this world, of God's justice and of retribution with lying and deception.
There was at Oberlin at the same time with myself, a Welsh gentleman by the name of Mr. Jones. He seemed to be very friendly to me, and we used to travel together around the country and preach and lecture. A kind friend, named Mr. Wyman, loaned me his horse and buggy. We travelled together very pleasantly for some time, until he noticed that the brethren, wherever I went, aided me pecuniarily, and that I met with very warm receptions.
He seemed to be envious of my prosperity, and after this tried to detract from my character by telling a gentleman who had offered to give me a dollar a quarter to help me along while I was pursuing my studies, that I had taken the money that was given me and bought a seventy or eighty dollar watch and chain.
When I heard this, I at once went to Mr. Balder, who resided in Elyria, and showed him the watch, and told him the circumstance, which was,
that having been at an auction, I saw a very pretty little watch sold very cheap, and, needing one very much, I bought it. I knew that Mr. Jones had only told this to injure me, as I had heard him tell Elder Allen that he thought I would get spoiled, the friends made so much of me.
My explanation, however, satisfied my friends, and there was nothing more said about it.
One Sabbath we went out to Obloth together. I had an appointment to lecture in the afternoon. When we arrived there, we found that Elder Allen's eldest child had died that morning, and he asked Brother Jones to supply his place that morning, and he consented to do so.
As we went to the church, he said he had no scribblings with him, and had never preached an extempore sermon. He asked me if I would give him a text to preach from.
I mentioned to him the text, "That the spirit and the bride say come, and he that will let him come and take the water of life freely." This, I thought, was a very easy and simple text.
He thought over it for some time; but when he came to give out his text, I found that he had selected a very mysterious subject from the Old Testament.
He spoke a few minutes, but very soon found himself wandering to and fro, like a ship on the ocean without a rudder, and finally excused himself and took his seat, and the elder had to get up and preach his own sermon.
I felt sorry for the poor brother, but he was destined to reap the bitter fruits of his own planting. The brethren finally saw that he would never do much in the ministry; and as he was an active man, and they not wishing to throw him off altogether, they employed him as an agent to collect money to build them a meeting-house at Northambert.
He consulted me about his taking the agency. He said he was a poor man, and that the brethren would have to give him suitable apparel, and wished to know of me what I thought they ought to give him.
I told him I thought they ought to give him two suits of clothes and thirty dollars. The brethren accordingly granted his request, and he started on his mission.
I have since understood that he collected considerable money, and that his employers have never seen him since nor heard from any of the money he collected.
I remained at Oberlin six months, when I again returned home to Canada.
"To preach the mercies of Thy word
Is ever my delight."
AFTER I returned home, I labored among the brethren there, and organized a Baptist church upon Little River, and was appointed a missionary among the destitute churches. I received a letter from Mr. Jones at this time, in answer to the one I wrote him, as follows:
"Your letter came to hand, and I was glad to hear from you. I was sure that you was dead, as I have never heard from you since you left me. You say that you will give me one hundred and fifty dollars if I will relinquish all claims to you and give you your free papers. I had much rather that you would come back and live with me, and I will give you two hundred dollars a year for your services, and you can soon be able to buy yourself and live here with your children, for I know that this is a better country than where you are.
"I am selling groceries now, and I have a negro boy hired, and you would be of great service to me now. I saw Mr. Deckard a few days ago, and he said that your old master's family and your children are all well. I have four children.
"We have a railroad running through our town now. I shall expect an answer from you soon. Let me know what you will do.
I laid this letter aside for some time. I then answered it as follows:
"I received your letter some time since. My mind has undergone no change since I wrote to you. You say that you wish me to return. I cannot accept of any such invitation; for I enjoy the rights of a freeman in this country, and am preaching the gospel of Christ. I have a missionary field of about four hundred miles in length, and cannot be bribed back to Tennessee.
"If you are of a mind to accept of one hundred and fifty dollars, let me have my free papers and relinquish all claims to me. I suppose you would be unwilling to give me my papers without the money, and I am sure I could not let you have the money without the papers. Garret Smith, of New York, will act as mediator between us, and I am willing to put my business in his hands, if you are.
"Nothing more at present. Direct your letter as before."
When I returned home at Christmas, I found an answer to this last and my free papers. The answer was as follows:
"I received your letter and accept your terms, as you would not return. We are well, and were glad to hear that you were well, and that you were preaching the gospel. I hope that you may do much good in the name of our Heavenly Father. I have made a profession of religion myself, and have joined the Baptist Church. I wish to hear from you often, that I may know how you are getting along. I hope that we will meet in the morn of the great Resurrection. I think that you ought to give me two hundred and fifty dollars if you are able; and if you are not able to give me that, send me the one hundred and fifty dollars. Send the check, payable to my order in New York.
The next spring I held a series of meetings in Windsor, Canada West, in a little school-house, which we rented, and where my labors were abundantly blessed. I baptized five women converts in Detroit River, and we sent around for the brethren from the neighboring churches and organized a Baptist church, which has proved a vine planted in due season; for, although we had not enough members to make a quorum when we first started in 1856, (one year after I was ordained to the ministry,) in 1860 it numbered forty members.
During the same summer I was called upon to hold a protracted meeting in New Richmond, Ohio. I labored there successfully for two weeks, having the pleasure of baptizing eight persons. Ten persons, however, embraced the Saviour, one of whom chose to join the Methodist Church, and the other was a young man from Mobile, who said that he would join the church as soon as he returned home.
There seemed to be a prospect of doing much good there, but I had to leave to attend the association in Chilicothe. After leaving there, I returned home. Being acquainted with Elder Collville, the pastor of the Baptist church in Detroit, he gave me a recommendation in a subscription-book.
I then went around the country and preached and lectured, and received donations from those who felt disposed to give, to raise the one hundred and fifty dollars for my liberty. After I had
succeeded in raising the amount for my liberty, I was again appointed by the association as a missionary in Canada and the States.
On the 18th of February I started, in company with Elder Clark, to organize a Baptist church at a place called the Roundout, about seventy miles from Windsor. There had been a heavy snow, and just at that time it had began thawing, and the water was very high in nearly all the streams. We walked up pretty smartly, endeavoring to head one creek or other, until near sunset, when we saw a town.
We were surprised, for we did not know that there was such a town in a day's journey. We inquired of a person on the road, what town it was, and they informed us that it was Ambersburg.
We were again surprised that we could walk from early breakfast to sunset, and yet be in sight of that place. We went into the town, and were warmly welcomed by the brethren, and we had quite a laugh over the result of that day's journey to Roundout.
I told Elder Clark that I did not think I would ever forget the 18th day of February, and he said that he did not think he ever should.
On the 20th of February I crossed Detroit River into Michigan, and went from thence to Toledo, where I occupied the Sabbath in the service of the Lord. I then went to Perrysburg, Ohio and on the Sabbath I preached in the Methodist
and Baptist churches. From thence I went to Sandusky City, where I arrived on Saturday evening. I found that some of the brethren had made a purchase of a meeting-house, and had only worshipped in it one Sabbath.
They were very glad to see me, for they had no supply for the next day (Sabbath).
I preached for them from the text: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." After the meeting had dismissed, one of the brethren came to me and said--
"Are you the minister the Lord sent here? I am like Abraham of old: I find myself here with a few Baptists, and have bought this house, and we have been praying to the Lord to send us a minister, and we think that you are the man."
I told him that I was willing to do all the good I could while I was there. I preached for them again in the evening.
They then asked me to hold a series of meetings. They said that they wanted a revival, and had been praying that the Lord would send His Holy Spirit among them.
We began our meetings on Tuesday evening, and continued there during the week. The Lord blessed my labors, and on the Sabbath morning I had the pleasure of baptizing four humble converts.
There was one young lady and her sister-in-law who embraced religion. The husband of one of
them was very much opposed to his wife and sister becoming religious. He would molest our meetings, and make sport of religious things.
I proposed to the church to pray for that young man's conversion.
The next Sabbath we held another baptism, and this young man attended. He looked very serious, and that night about twelve o'clock he sent for me, and wanted me to come and see him. He had behaved himself so badly, that the brethren would not let me go alone; so two or three of them accompanied me. I found him in much agony, but could not tell what was the matter with him. I told him that it was the Holy Spirit striving with him; that his Christian friends had been praying for him. I advised him to pray.
He said that he did not know how.
I told him to acknowledge his sins to God and ask for pardon; and we sang and prayed with him until, awhile before day, he revived a hope of the Saviour, and sprang up and praised the Lord, and asked his sister's forgiveness, for he had treated her very badly. He was then very anxious to be baptized; after which he joined the church, and has since lived a devoted and exemplary Christian life, magnifying the doctrine of his Saviour. He had a notice put up on his barbershop on the Sabbath, that it should only be open until eleven o'clock.
He would become a messenger of Christ, but his education makes him backward in appearing
before an audience. Such is the effect of faithful prayer.
Thirteen members were added to the church during this revival. I now thought of taking leave of my friends; but to this they would not listen, and insisted on my taking charge of their church. They called a meeting, and gave me a formal call to become their pastor.
I at first objected; but they were so urgent, that I consented to serve them awhile, and entered upon my duties as pastor.
"To preach Christ's gospel my delight,
And lead the sinner to the way
That points to heaven and happiness
Be my enjoyment night and day."
WHEN I took charge of the church I found that there was a debt of about eight hundred dollars hanging over it. To relinquish this, I first thought of employing all my influence and unoccupied time, and put myself earnestly to the task. I had hardly began my labors, however, before a difficulty arose in the person of one of the members.
We had received quite a number of new members since I had commenced laboring,--some by card, some by letter, and others by experience.
One man who joined us claimed to be one of the trustees when the church had not yet appointed any trustees. He giving us some trouble, we thought it best to organize and elect trustees to take charge of the temporal affairs of the church.
When the congregation met to make nominations, this man's name was not mentioned in connection with the election. When they came to a vote, he arose and asked the Moderator to erase
his name from the church-book before that was done.
To this I objected, as it was opposed to Baptist usage.
He then asked for letters to Mr. Canada's church, but the meeting would not grant him this.
He at length became so troublesome, that the meeting had to exclude him. He spared no trouble or pains to give us annoyance, but he always failed in the attempt.
I continued with this congregation from the spring of 1856 until the summer of 1860, claiming their entire confidence and Christian respect. By this time we had succeeded in raising the amount to liquidate the debt on our church.
Hearing, at this time, of a prospect of buying my children, and as the salary I was receiving barely sufficed to pay my expenses, I thought it best to resign my charge, although the congregation were very anxious for me to remain with them.
While I was laboring at Sandusky I had also organized a church at Toledo, which at this time numbered twenty-nine members, and they also were very anxious for me to remain at my posts; but I thought that my children had prior claim to my affections, and I could not labor there while they were in slavery, and my not being able to do any thing towards their freedom.
I at this time conceived the plan of writing my life, and by the means of lecturing, preaching and
selling my books, I should not only be doing much more good than I could as a pastor, but would have more facilities and opportunities of collecting and making a fund for the liberation of my children; and I have often thought that if I could see that object accomplished, I could exclaim, in the language of Simeon, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation."
I hope my friends and readers who have perused the story of my life thus far will look upon my motive with that liberal judgment which the feelings of a parent and the sympathy of a fellow-sufferer would ask. For never, under God's blessing, do I intend to lay down in quiet until this great object of my life is accomplished.
Now, Dear Reader, we have reached that point of my life where I must stop, having yet to experience the life which may yet be before me. I have but to express the hope that my object has been accomplished, and that you expectations have been realized. There are many more incidents which I might have related; but they would have made my work cumbersome, and, from its very bulk, prevented many from reading it. Besides, as I stated in the Preface, it was, in the main, to be but a faithful statement of my life to the present time, not so much for a treatise on slavery, as to show my birth, early years, causes of running away, and successful escape, with the course of my future life until I was prompted to present you with the contents of my little volume in its present form.
And may we now part with the full satisfaction that both giver and receiver have been benefitted by its perusal; and that at the Last Day there will be a recompense for those who have looked with
pity on the bondman, and have helped to break his shackles and set the captive free, is the prayer of your humble servant,
And may the blessing of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost be with you and remain with you always. Amen.
County of Essex,
To wit. In the Court of General
Quarter Sessions of the Peace.
Whereas, Israel Campbell, formerly of the State of Kentucky, in the United States of America, but now residing in the Township of Sandwich, in the County of Sussex aforesaid, Farmer, hath complied with the several requirements of a certain Act of the Parliament of this Province, passed in the twelfth year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, entitled "An Act to repeal a certain act therein mentioned, and to make better provision for the Naturalization of Aliens," and the Certificate thereof had been this day read, in open court, and therefore, by order of said court, duly filed of record in the same, pursuant to the directions of the said Act; These are, therefore, to certify to all whom it may concern, that under and by virtue of the said Act, the said Israel Campbell hath obtained all the rights and capacities of a natural-born British Subject within this Province, to have, hold, possess, and enjoy the same within the limits thereof upon, from, and after the twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five; and this Certificate thereof is hereby granted to the said Israel Campbell according to the form of the statute in such case made and provided.
Given under my hand and Seal of the said Court the twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five.
Clerk Peace, Essex.
I, James Askin, Register of the County of Essex, do hereby certify that the Reverend Israel Campbell, of the Township of Sandwich, in the County of Essex and Province of Canada, a Baptist of the Baptist denomination, did this day produce before me a Certificate, under the hand of M. J. Lightfoot, Clerk, certifying, that according to the discipline and usage of the Baptist Denomination, the Reverend Israel Campbell was duly examined, set apart, and ordained to the Christian Ministry, and is duly recognized as a regularly ordained Minister in said denomination; that the said Israel Campbell has duly taken the oath of allegiance before me, and that he, previous to my administering the said oath of allegiance, produced before me a Certificate of Thomas Woodbridge, Esquire, one of the Chief Justices of the Peace for the County of Essex, certifying that Israel Campbell had taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance as required by the statute 12 Vic. chap. 197; and that I have registered the said oath of allegiance taken before me, the Certificate of M. J. Lightfoot, Clerk of the Baptist Denomination, and this my Certificate.
Sandwich, 15th October, 1855.
CANADA, County of Essex, to wit:
I, Louis Joseph Fluett, a Notary Public, duly commissioned
in and for that part of Canada called "Canada West," do hereby certify and attest, to all whom it may concern, that I have been acquainted with, and done business for, Israel Campbell for upwards of ten years past, at the Township of Sandwich, in said County of Essex, where said Israel Campbell has resided, and he has a small Real Estate; and where he has devoted his time and energy in bettering and improving the condition of his brethren, who, like himself, have broken the Bonds of Slavery. By an undaunted perseverance and energy, he has obtained a tolerable good education, qualifying him to discharge the duties of a Preacher among his brethren with success. By the long and personal acquaintance I have had with him, I do not hesitate in recommending him as an honest and trusty man, and of good report, not only amongst his brethren, but also among the whole community, deserving the confidence of the world, before whom he now appears to solicit the sympathies on behalf of his three children remaining in bondage in the State of Tennessee, United States of America, whose liberty he has now resolved to purchase from their present owners; and, although poor in the world, he has resolved to travel and solicit aid until he has succeeded in realizing the amount required to redeem the liberty of a daughter eighteen years old, of a boy, fifteen, and a daughter of thirteen.
In testimony whereof, I have to these presents, at the request of said Israel Campbell, set my hand and Seal of Office, to serve and avail as occasion may require, this eight day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, at the Town of Sandwich, in said County of Essex.
LOUIS JOSEPH FLUETT,
Notary Public, Sandwich, C. W.,
and Attorney at Law.
This is to certify that we are acquainted with the Rev. Israel Campbell, and know him to be a Minister of the Gospel in good standing in the Baptist denomination, and we do most heartily commend him to the sympathy and aid of friends upon whom he may call in his effort to redeem from slavery his three children.
I have also recommendations from:
This is to certify that the Rev. Israel Campbell has been the Pastor of the First Regular Baptist Anti-Slavery Church of Sandusky City for the last three years. With regard to his Pastorship he has rendered us ample satisfaction.
Part of that time he served as an agent, soliciting contributions to liquidate the debt on our meeting-house. With regard to his agency, he has rendered us ample satisfaction, and now calls for his resignation, which we are bound to give by his request. We therefore recommend him to the Christian world as a man worthy of all confidence.
E. P. REYNOLDS, Clerk.Sandusky City, August 14th, 1860.
The following was published in the Sandusky Register on the same date as the above was given, and may explain more fully the success of my agency for the mission:
ACKNOWLEDGMENT.--I wish to say to the benevolent public, that the $800 we solicited for the payment of our meeting-house has been collected; but just about the time we were able to pay for it, the lot on which it stands was to be sold. In order to secure the lot, we had to pay $142 on it as first payment. We hope to have some day the remaining $300 paid for. I have closed my pastoral labors for the present, and shall now try to redeem my three children from slavery, hoping that God and all the lovers of freedom will be on my side in this great work.
ISRAEL CAMPBELL.Sandusky City, O., August 14, 1860.
The following letter I wrote to my niece at Shawneetown, Illinois, to ascertain the whereabouts of my mother and father:
"I now take this opportunity to address a few lines to you. I am glad that I can say to you, I am well. My brother's family are as well as common; and, indeed, his wife's health is better than it has been for six years. We have let out our farm for three years, and brother has been living here for two years. He came here, hoping that it might improve the health of his wife. It has been great gain to her; so much so, that they think of moving back to Canada this fall, if it is the Lord's will.
"I have left the Sandusky Church, where I was pastor when I last saw your sister. I am writing out the history of my life, and I think to get it into book-form this summer, and then I think of going to England. I wish you to let me know if my mother and step-father are yet alive; if so, I wish to see them before I leave the United States. I wish to hear from you all. I have not heard from you for four years. I wish you to write to me as soon as you receive this. Please let me hear from all of the friends and brethren. We join in sending our love to you all. Now, may the God of all grace be with you all evermore. Amen.
"I remain your Uncle,
To this letter I received the following answer:
"SHAWNEETOWN, March 2, 1861.
"I received your kind letter of the 16th of January a short time ago; but a favorable opportunity not presenting itself, I have failed to reply until the present. I was truly glad to hear from you and uncle Washington and family, that you were all in the enjoyment of good health.
Since I last heard from you grandfather has died. He died in November, 1859. Grandmother moved over here shortly after he died, and died the February following. Her death was from old age and debility. She had been
confined to her bed for nearly a year previous to her death. Uncle Nelson was here a day or so after receiving your letter. His family were all well. I gave him the name of your 'post-office.' The name of his post-office is 'Bell Prairie, Hamilton County, Illinois.' He said that he would write to you, and wished that you would do the same. Uncle Abram and Aunt Nancy were all well the last I heard from them. The rest of the family here are all in the enjoyment of usual health.
"The Baptist Association is to be held here this season, commencing the Thursday before the first Sunday in September. We expect then to have grandmother's and grandfather's funeral preached, and would be glad to have you attend, as you design and desire to pay us a visit, and on that occasion it would be very acceptable; and when you do come, bring a few copies of your book, and it is likely that you could find a sale for it.
"All the family join in sending their compliments to you and uncle's family. Write on the receipt of this letter, and give us all the news. Nothing more from your
THAT my friends may have the pleasure of preserving one of my sermons, I have appended the following, preached at Radnor, on the occasion of a baptizing:
"Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations. baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world." Amen.--ST. MATTHEW xxviii. 19, 20.
Now, brethren, these words present two great thoughts
to my mind. The first one is, that God created the nations of the earth susceptible of improvements. The second thought is, that it was the will of the Saviour that men should not perish in their sins. For this reason He commanded His disciples to preach the gospel to every creature; he that believed should be saved, and he that did not believe should be damned. Therefore, I behold that it is the duty of the watchman standing on the walls to declare the whole counsel of God, whether we bear or forbear; for we are told in His word that the gospel of His kingdom shall be preached to all nations for a witness, and then shall the end come. Therefore we should endeavor to publish an impartial gospel, inasmuch as we must render an account for our stewardship on earth.
Although the doctrine of baptism meets with the opposition of a gainsaying world, the Saviour and His disciples met with the same opposition, and all true disciples may ever expect to meet with opposition.
Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you that ye must be born again." (John iii. 5.) Many people stumble at the idea of being born again, just as Nicodemus did when the Saviour preached it to him.
The most of orthodox churches preach the doctrine of repentance, and we preach repentance and baptism; and I hold that they are in harmony one with the other, and the commandments were given by the same author; and if I were now to preach baptism without repentance it would be a strange doctrine. Why should I not call it strange that men preach repentance without baptism? If it is strange on the one hand, then why not strange on the other?
The Saviour himself said, "Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom."
He did not only give his advice and never observe the same, for He came to Jordan and was baptized of John. And when John pleaded his unworthiness, He told him to suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Hence, we infer that it must have been a righteous act, or Jesus would not have claimed the honor to be baptized of His servant John, to fulfil all righteousness.
Many persons, however, say, "Will not water applied to the candidate answer the same purpose just as well as to apply the candidate to the water. If the candidate be satisfied with the sprinkling or pouring, that should suffice. I hold that conscience in the early mind is subject to education; and if it learns that sprinkling is right, to them it is right; but if they have been taught that immersion is right, that is the mode they should adopt,--for baptism is of no saving effect without faith, and faith cometh from knowledge.
But we learn in the fourth chapter of Ephesians, fifth verse, that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; so that if we admit of a diversity of baptisms, there must be wrong somewhere: and if the doctrine of the Bible be the one which we hold to be true, we should contend for one baptism, hold to that, and deprecate all others. It would look more reasonable to me, then, to contend for the Bible, than to admit three modes, when the only authority we have for the ordinance guarantees but one.
It is true, people frequently say that the Baptists put too much stress on baptism, as if it was a saving ordinance. I know that a great many of the Baptists will not admit that it is a saving ordinance. Then what is the saving ordinance? Jesus said, "Then are ye my disciples, indeed, if you do whatsoever I command you." He commanded His disciples, and said unto them, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark xvi. 15.)
And we are commanded to teach all things whatsoever He directed for them to observe. I hold, therefore, and contend that the commandments of Jesus are advantageous to us as His disciples, and must be saving ordinances; and we have no right to say to any persons, that they can be saved outside of God's appointed way as set forth in His word. I do not look upon a person as being a complete Christian until they have conformed to the Bible:--"Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (Romans vi. 3, 4, 5.) "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." (Galatians iii. 27.)
Now, every rational man knows very well that a man is not considered buried until he is put out of sight; so then we learn that Christ was baptized, and we must be buried with Him by baptism. Now, what does Peter say with regard to baptism: "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water. The like figure where-unto, even baptism, doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter iii. 20, 21.)
I have thought much about this subject, and I never knew a person that had come to the years of accountability, and was converted to God and baptized, that ever became dissatisfied with their baptism by immersion, and wished to have water poured or sprinkled on them. But how many have been baptized by pouring or sprinkling that have become dissatisfied! Does this not speak more than volumes? Does it not demonstrate that many are sprinkled and baptized
by the pouring on, from their early training? Most assuredly it does.
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts ii. 41, 47.)
"But when they believed Philip, preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women" (Acts viii. 12.) "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts viii. 36, 37.) "Brother Saul, the Lord (even Jesus that appeared unto thee on the way as thou camest) hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized." (Acts ix. 17, 18.) "Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." (Acts x. 46, 47, 48.)
Jesus, with all these witnesses and Scripture proofs, should we be ashamed to teach them; to observe all things whatsoever you have commanded, when you have given us the comforting assurance, that lo! I am with you always! As it was in the days of the apostles, when the disciples tarried at Jerusalem until they were endued with the Holy Ghost, when they continued steadfast in the apostles' doctrine, breaking bread from house to house and eating with singleness of heart; and they earnestly contended for the faith.
As regards sprinkling, we learn from Mr. Mosheim, a Lutheran divine, that immersion was the apostolic mode
for more than two centuries after the departure of the Saviour, when sprinkling was introduced into the Christian Church; and from that time up to the present, it has been practised by different denominations. But, like to other traditions, it is wearing away. We discover many hundreds dissatisfied with that kind of baptism, and wish to receive it as they understand it when they have, by reading and reflection, ascertained the right mode.
I have often compared persons becoming Christians to a shoemaker preparing his shoe for finishing. He must have leather, thread and pegs; but it must be varnished up before it is complete. It is complete before it is taken off the last, and also before it is varnished it is a shoe; but the varnish adds the lustre to the leather, and makes the shoe have a pleasing appearance to the eye.
Just so with the Christian. To take the first step, he must have repentance and a godly sorrow for sin,--a repentance which needeth not to be repented of. Then faith, which clings to things unseen and believes all the promises of God. But, after all, there is one thing lacking to make him a new creature, that he may rejoice in the new birth,--he must be buried with Christ by baptism.
Let us consider the case of Naaman, the haughty Persian nobleman. His body was afflicted with that dreadful scourge, the leprousy. Through the timely word of a little girl, (a Jewish captive,) he was led to apply to the Prophet of Israel for relief. Taking with him a large number of servants and fine and costly gifts, the haughty prince proceeds to the humble abode of the prophet. He reaches the place; but the prophet scorns the gifts, and will not even go forth to look upon the princely supplicant, but commanded him to dip himself seven times in the River Jordan.
Oh, how this imperious prince was humbled! He who had but to speak and his every wish was obeyed,--who was able to enrich with this world's goods the person who should take from him his leprousy,--and now, after having
humbled himself to apply, in all his state, to the despised Prophet of Israel, he is told to go and dip himself seven times in the River Jordan. His haughty spirit revolts, and he exclaims--
"Behold, I surely thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean? So he departed away." (2 Kings v. 11, 12.)
But his servants persuaded him to comply with the command of the prophet, and he went and dipped himself seven times, and his flesh became as a little child's, and he was clean.
Now, my brethren, do you suppose that if he had only dipped the third or the fourth time, he would have been healed? No; seven times was he commanded by God, through His prophet, to bathe; and unless he had obeyed God, even six times would have been as fruitless as none at all. It is not the mode that saves, but the obeying God's commands.
I do not think for a moment that immersion alone will save. No. Repentance alone can save, and true repentance makes us anxious to obey all of God's commands. Now, I look upon all the commandments of the Saviour as being essential to the welfare of the soul.
I would now give a word of encouragement to those candidates that follow the example of their Saviour, as you are about laying foundation for the formation of your character for time and eternity. I exhort you to stand fast in the liberty wherein Christ has set you free; and be not entangled with the yoke of bondage again, but ever be found worthy of that high vocation wherewith you are called.
Now, as regards the ideas I have advanced, I have not presented them as Baptist views alone, but as the conclusions which I have arrived at by study and reflection, and
I hope that they are those which God will accept and bless to many souls. Believing that He will save, sanctify and bring His saints all together in the Last Day, when the line of demarcation shall be drawn,--when every man shall receive his just reward for all that he has done,--and I pray, brethren, that the God of all peace, love and mercy may guide and direct us while here on earth we are sojourning, and forgive all that has been said amiss; bringing us with all the sanctified.
Brethren, you who have not yet decided which course to take, allow me to make a solemn appeal to you. In one of my tours through this State, going from Springfield to Dayton, I was, with some of my friends, sitting in the ticket-office of the railroad depot. While we were sitting there, a man stepped up to the ticket-agent, presenting for payment a five dollar bill.
The agent, after examining the money, told him that it was not good, and handed it back to him.
The man put it back into his pocket, and walked unconcernedly and took a seat.
We all sat there until the cars were ready to start, when we all stepped into them. I noticed that the man who had no ticket got in also. I felt some curiosity to know how he would fare, and watched him with some attention.
After the cars had started, the conductor came his round, collecting the tickets.
The man again presented his five dollar bill.
The conductor told him that it was not good.
"But I got it for good money," said the man.
"I can't help that," said the conductor. "It won't pass here. Is this all you have got?"
"Yes, sir," replied the man.
The conductor told him that he would have to get off at the next station, and put the bill in his own pocket and went on his round. When we stopped at the next station, the conductor ordered him to get out.
He said that he would not until he got his money.
The conductor finally gave it to him just as the cars were about starting, and it was storming very hard at that time. I looked out of the window as the cars passed on and saw him standing beside the track, looking at the cars leaving him behind. The case reminded me very much of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, and then I thought, how many at the Last Day will be in the condition of this poor man! He was told that his money was not good before he started in the cars; but he was determined to try and pass through with it. He tried again, but met with the same repulse.
And so it is, my hearers, with many persons professing religion who have not the evidence of a genuine conversion. They are told by Christ's ministers that their coin is not genuine; and if they cannot credit them, they refer them to the detector, where they can see to read for themselves, and see just how they ought to live and act to be prepared to enter in at the straight gate, and yet they will say, "This way or that way will do," and when the trying hour comes, they see their error when it is too late to repent.
Now, there were a number who were very sorry for that poor man when they saw him put off the car in the storm and cold. I felt myself as if I was willing to pay a part of his fare, and others felt the same way; but by the time our sympathy was expressed, the car had left him far behind, and so our sympathy and sorrow profited him nothing. So, I fear, it may be in the coming day, when those who have been negligent and careless about the right way now shall knock and say, "Lord, Lord, open unto us;" when He shall say, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, into the place prepared for the devil and his angels."
Men read this, but they almost disbelieve it, and think that they can journey on with their spurious coin, just as that man did with his five dollar bill; but they will be arrested, sooner or later, and woe be unto them if the day of wrath overtakes them.
At another time I was travelling on the cars to Cincinnati. The conductor came around collecting the tickets, when he came to a man who said that he did not pay any fare,--that he was a member of the Ohio Legislature.
"Show me your authority," said the conductor.
"I give you my word," the man replied.
But the conductor said that he must have some other evidence of his being a member, and told him that if he could not satisfy him of the correctness, he would have to put him off at the next station.
"No, sir, you will not; and you had better prepare yourself before you take in hand to put me off," said the man.
The conductor passed on, and I expected to see him called on the next station. When we arrived there the conductor passed on; but when he went through collecting the fares, he again came to this man, and said--
"If you are a member of the Ohio Legislature, pay me your fare, and when we get to Cincinnati I will go with you to the office and return you your money."
"No, I shall do no such thing; I shall pay no fare," replied the man.
"Well, I will have to put you off at the next station," said the conductor.
"I tell you, sir, you had better prepare yourself if you take in hand to put me off," replied the man.
I thought, from the way he talked, that, should the conductor attempt to put him off, there would be some shooting done. So I was all excitement to know what would be the result should the conductor carry out his threat. However, when the cars again stopped, the conductor came around to the man, and said--
"Sir, I must magnify my office."
The man made an attempt to seize the conductor by the throat; but he being a large and stout man, he threw him upon his hip and started for the door. He tried all his might to keep from going out, and held on to the door.
The conductor, however, succeeded in getting him out on the platform. In the scuffle he left his hat in the car, and as soon as the conductor's back was turned, he started back, as he said, for his hat. The conductor again seized him and threw him down on the platform, and sprang on the car. Just at that moment the whistle blew, and away we went.
I thought how true the words of our Saviour were daily verified: "He that enters not in at the door is a thief and a robber." By trying to palm himself off for some distinguished person, he became disgraced. So will the sinner find it much easier to search out and follow the right way now, than to plead any excuse when he stands before the bar of God. For, depend upon it, that should he even try to be somebody, God's all-searching eye will detect the imposition, and will add greater punishment to his now already overflowing cup.
It seems to me that the heart of unregenerated man is the vilest thing in the world. It is constantly contriving some way to deceive and to go any way but the right one.
Once during my travels I took a steamboat at Detroit to cross the lake to Cleveland. Having got my ticket, the captain told me where I could lay down and sleep. I made a mistake, however, and got into the steward's room. After I had been there awhile, I fell into a slight sleep, when I was aroused by some one whispering, which caused me to listen with some interest. I found that it was the steward secreting some of his friends who were crossing the lake, and their intention was to cheat the captain out of the fare.
I laid very quietly, and heard their plans, which were, for the two men to stand behind the door, so that when the captain passed along, if he looked in he would see no one. They did not discover me until their plan was all arranged, when the steward discovered that there was some one in his berth.
He held up the light, and discovering that my face was
not quite as white as his, he ordered me up very abruptly.
I told him that the captain gave me permission to sleep there.
He said, "The captain did not tell you to sleep in here, for this is my room."
"Well," I replied, "it is a mistake of mine."
"Well, then," said he, "I want you to mistake out of here very quick."
I thought, "My dear sir, you think to show yourself, and I will see if you can cheat without detection." When I got out of his room I saw that they were collecting the tickets, and I stood a few steps from the door. The clerk and captain came along, looked in, saw nobody, and passed on. When they came to where I was standing, I asked them if they looked in that room.
The captain said they had.
"Did you see see anybody in there?" I asked.
"No," said he. "There is nobody in there," and he went back and looked in, without discovering the men, however.
When he came back I asked him if he saw any one.
"No," he answered; "there is nobody there."
"Suppose you go again and look behind the door," said I.
He went back again and found the two white men. He asked them what they were doing there.
They told him that they had no money, and thought they would hide.
He said that if they had no money, they ought not to have come on board, and he marched them up to the office and interrogated them as to where they were from and where they were going, and if they had any clothes.
They answered, that they had some clothes.
These he made them bring to him, and he told them that they could have them when they paid their fare.
I now left and went to my berth, getting in the right one this time, and when I awoke in the morning I was in
Cleveland. How the men and the captain settled about their fare I never heard; but I have no doubt they heartily repented of having done wrong when it was too late.
Finally, brethren, let me exhort you all to repent and be baptized. Be buried with Christ, so that you may rise with him; for, be assured, there is no other way by which men can be saved than through the cleansing of the blood of our Saviour. We, indeed, baptize you with water; but the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, shall baptize you with fire. And let me urge it upon you, that now is the accepted time,--now is the day of salvation. He has said, "He that calleth on me in the day of trouble I will not forsake;" but he that rejects all His overtures of mercy can expect nothing but eternal damnation.
Now is the accepted time, dear hearer. Do not say, "To-morow I will begin." Alas! to-morrow may never come. There is no to-morrow! Now is the accepted time, and the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." Oh, come, brethren, to the stream of life and drink freely, without money and without price. Cast all your cares and troubles on Jesus. Take up His service; for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. And remember, my parting words to you are, Repent and be baptized; or unless through the mercy of God, which you cannot expect, your eternal portion will be where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. God grant that you may all be led to serve him in spirit and in truth.
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be with you and remain with you always. Amen.
In the writing of John an ordinance we find,
In the third of Matthew that ordinance enjoined,
Enjoined on all believers, to witness how the Son
Came and was baptized by His own servant John.
Not at the River Jordan, but in the flowing stream,
Stood John the Baptist dipping, when he baptized the Lamb;
Then Jesus the Saviour out of the waters came,
To show that we must follow and pattern after Him.
Some say that John the Baptist was nothing but a Jew;
The word of God informs us he was a preacher, too,--
A preacher to the people, the gospel to impress,
In order to enforce a Saviour's righteousness.
Infants were brought to Jesus,--brought to Him to bless;
His blessing they received, and shall forever rest;
Then welcome, tender parents, to bring your babes along,
But not to be baptized, for Jesus baptized none.
Traditionists have said these sentiments are new;
If they will read the third of Matthew, they'll surely find it true,
That there were none baptized but such as did believe,
And none but true believers Almighty God receive.
Now read the third of Matthew, look steady at the thing,
There is none who were baptized but did repentance bring;
If you believe in Jesus, then be baptized like Him,
And long as you neglect it to you it is a sin.
This ordinance of Jesus doth stand so firm and strong,
There's none can overthrow it, though they have strove so long;
For Jesus and His kingdom shall stand forever, sure,
When anti-christian powers shall fall, to rise no more.
John was a gospel preacher when he baptized the Lamb,
Then Jesus was a Baptist, and thus the Baptists came;
If you would follow Jesus, as Christians ought to do,
You would come and be baptized, and be a Baptist too.
The following Lecture I delivered in Norwalk, Ohio, and I give it as my views on the subject of slavery:
Ladies and Gentlemen--
With regard to the peculiar institution under whose influence I was born and spent some twenty-eight years of my life, I think I am prepared to express a decided opinion as to the right and wrong of its existence and toleration. I must confess that I have never been able to see any thing of which I could approve, but have seen much wrong. It deprives a man of his natural and moral rights, and induces him to disrespect himself and all the honors and virtues which constitute and ennoble man. He is reduced to a mere machine, having his senses so blunted as to be incapable of comprehending of what he really is capable, and cultivating the animal, almost entirely crushing out all the higher principles of his nature. I will mention a few of the traits it encourages, which every honest man must deprecate and raise his voice and influence against, and upon which I believe God will visit vengeance.
And first. The almost entire nullity of the matrimonial alliance. It does not permit the man to own even his wife
after they have become joined as one flesh, and of which the apostle speaks as being honorable in the sight of God, but often separates them and causes great grief and affliction, and which is one of the worst features of slavery.
But what encouragement has a man to hold in reverence an institution which he is taught from his earliest moments is no more than convenience? For, ever after they are married, the man has no right to protect his wife from the assaults of the overseer or master, who think that the slaves have no rights, and often sell them, which they dislike very much; and, in fact, many of them had rather suffer death than allow themselves to be sold. But this sometimes proves to be advantageous to the slave, especially when they have hard masters, and he or she may succeed in getting among those who are more kind to them.
The system of amalgamation is another wrong which slavery enforces upon the slave. It is no uncommon thing to see among a company of children one black and another half-white by the same mother; and should the colored husband say any thing, he is whipped or sold. I have known instances where a man would have children by his slave-woman, and then his legitimate sons would have children by his own slave-daughters. These are the disgraceful and inhuman features of American slavery, and, in my opinion, is the most disgraceful part they carry out.
The Dred Scott decision establishes another principle, which tends to abolish every higher feeling in the heart of the slave, debases both the master and slave, and takes from the slave every inducement to be free.
What might they be if they were permitted to enjoy all their inalienable rights! But there is under the system of slavery no opportunity for the enjoyment of such rights. It robs a man of his virtue and honor; and on account of his bearing the color which his Maker gave him, abuse him for knowing nothing. They are even repulsed on every hand; North as well as South. But they have their rights,
you will say, in the Northern States. But what inducement is there for them to attempt to get there? To be pursued by their masters, and if not vigilant enough, to be caught and have the law to support the master in taking him back. Many boast of their land of freedom and rejoice in their Republican government, while they have four millions of slaves. They turn to their Declaration of Independence to prove that "These truths are self-evident,--that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," and yet in their constitution and laws deny the very truth. No wonder England and France and other civilized nations point the finger of scorn at such inconsistencies as are practised here.
And yet the Union, which is so admired and called a glorious Union, is cemented together by the groans and tears of the slave.
When the Southern powers cannot rule and control and extend and perpetuate their influence and power, they threaten dissolution and secession; and if interest is brought into the question, they cry out that the South can do better without the North than the North can do without the South, and so feel secure in their institutions. But I do not believe this principle. I believe that the North would fare the best by such an issue. We can make our own sugar and molasses; we can raise our own tobacco, and get sufficient cotton from Liberia and the West Indies to supply our demand; and that would be free-labor cotton. And even suppose that we could not get enough cotton from those places, and secession and dissolution should take place, the South will be obliged to sell their cotton; for they cannot eat it, and they cannot live without other things which only money will produce. For my part, I think that such an event would be the overthrow of slavery.
I have no faith or confidence in any political party emancipating the slaves or bettering their condition. But
if entire dissolution were to take place, the South would have to take care of the slaves themselves, and I think it is pretty evident that they would have every inducement to get clear of them. If they cannot find a profitable market for their cotton and sugar, their slave-labor will not pay; and, beside, the fear of their escaping North being in great measure removed, they will gradually become more lenient, and the slaves will continue to increase in power and enlightenment, until they will arise and, like those of St. Domingo, leave a name on the page of history that will never be forgotten. And I can see no wrong in the effort. If it was right for Washington to fight for the liberties of the white man, I cannot see why it would not be right for a liberator to free the black man. And I trust the time is not very far distant before they will feel called on to defend their rights. And during this present excitement I know that my slave brethren are hearing something about the present crisis, which will inspire their hearts for liberty, and ere long enable us to say, with Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty or give me death."
I know their sufferings. I know their sorrows. I have three children there to-day exposed to the lash, the chains, and the assaults of ruffians day after day. And when I think over things that are now transpiring, and think that I have a lovely daughter, eighteen years old, with no father to protect her, no mother to guide and advise her, and here I am free and a naturalized British subject. My spirit cannot rest when I look back to the Southern clime, and in my dreams I often go back there, and I see my children sweating beneath the galling load, and my spirit yearns for them the stronger when I awake and find them not here.
My Republican friends often tell me that the slaves will soon be free. "We will now hedge it up where it is, and it will soon die away." I dare not trust too much to that. Suppose it was true that it can be stopped where it is, with the Slave States and Territories, it could be made profitable
until this generation shall have passed away. They tell us that seven or ten years is as long as they will last in those extreme Southern States; and if that be correct, they can wear them out faster than Virginia and the Northern States can raise them.
I believe that the time will come when the slaves will be free. For, if Ethiopia should stretch forth her hand to God, truth is mighty and must prevail; and although the wicked go hand in hand, they cannot go unpunished, and the cup of this nation must be almost full. The present crisis tells the story. The Scriptures are fulfilling: "A house shall be divided against itself,--the father-in-law against the son-in-law, and the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law." And every thing seems to demonstrate that the time is drawing near for something to be done. We are commanded in the law of God to undo the heavy burdens; to loose the bonds of wickedness and break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free, and to deal out thy bread to the hungry.
Many think, perhaps, like old Uncle Henry Clay said in his day, "That two hundred years had sanctioned slavery, and that had made it a divine institution." But I hope that a few more years will tell a different story. Although many have passed away, desiring to see the day when the slaves should all be free. Henry Clay said in one of his speeches, that he "hoped to see the day when every free negro would be sent from America to the Republic of Liberia." Like many other good man, he died without the sight.
So I now hope that I may live to see the day when slavery shall be wiped away. I do not crave alone my own children; but I desire the freedom of all mankind, white as well as black; not only from the thraldom of human bondage, but from the chains of sin and misery. That all the nations of the earth shall enjoy their inalienable rights. Let us hope on, pray on, labor on with untiring zeal; for no one knows what wondrous changes time will effect by-
and-bye,--for we shall reap in due season, if we faint not. Truth and mercy, righteousness and justness are on our side. Then let us never yield to the will of tyrants. No compromise with men-stealers and people-robbers and heart-breakers, but contend for right until the last slave's chain is broken,--until America shall shine like the land of Great Britain, where a slave cannot breathe. Then, and not until then, should we cease from our labors in this ardent task. So now we say--
Come, join the Abolitionists,
Young men, bold and strong,
And with a warm and cheerful zeal,
Help the cause along.
CHORUS--Oh, that will be joyful, joyful,
When slavery is no more;
God for ever save the Queen.
I hear the cry of millions, of millions, of millions,
I hear the cry of millions,
"Oh, set the captives free!"
The voice of right is crying, is crying,
The voice of right is crying from above,
"Oh, set the captives free!
Set them free, set them free;
Oh, set the captives free from their chains;
Oh, set the captives free!"
I hear the voice of Turner, of Turner,
I hear the voice of Turner, for liberty or death!
"Oh, set the captives free!"
I hear the voice of Torry, of Torry,
I hear the voice of Torry, crying from the grave,
"Oh, set the captives free!"
I hear the voice of Lovejoy, of Lovejoy,
I hear the voice of Lovejoy, from Albion's bloody plains,
"Oh, set the captives free!"
I hear the voice of Professor Peck, of Professor Peck,
I hear the voice of Professor Peck, from Cleveland,
"Oh, set the captives free!"
I hear the voice of Langston, of Langston,
I hear the voice of Langston, from Cleveland City Jail,
"Oh, set the captives free?"
I hear the voice of Bushnell, of Bushnell,
I hear the voice of Bushnell, from Cleveland City Jail,
"Oh, set the captives free!"
I hear the voice of Leary, of Leary,
I hear the voice of Leary saying, "Shoot them down!
Oh, set the captives free!"
I hear the voice of John Brown, of John Brown,
I hear the voice of John Brown, from Harper's Ferry, too,
"Oh, set the captives free!"
As many of my friends have asked me what form I used in celebrating marriages in the South, I here give it. I learned it from a Methodist Episcopal Book of Forms.
The children read it to me, and I committed it to memory. They mostly choose the Christmas holidays, while they have an opportunity to enjoy themselves, before going to hard work, when there is very little time given for a honeymoon. They often have a very lively time, having a large dinner or supper, and invite all their friends to participate. For a slave man to marry a slave woman out of the family, it is necessary for him to get the consent of the girl's master and mistress and of his own master and mistress, and they are very often the witnesses to the marriage. When celebrating the ceremony, the company stand around; the groom and bride walk out into the floor. After addressing the throne of grace, I address the company, and say--
"We are gathered together in the sight of God, and in the presence of these witnesses, in order to join together this man and this woman in the holy estate of matrimony, which is an honorable estate in the sight of God, and instituted in the time of man's ignorance. If there are any person or persons who can show any just cause or lawful right wherefore this couple should not be lawfully joined together in the holy estate of matrimony, please speak now, or hold your peace for ever hereafter."
I here pause long enough to allow any one to make any objections they may have. There being none, I proceed by asking the waiters to join their right hands. I then say, "Mr. A., will you take Miss B., whom you hold by the right hand, forsaking all others, cleave unto her only; love her, honor her, obey her so long as you both shall live, even until death parts you?"
If he answers, "I will," I then ask the woman, "Miss B., will you take Mr. A., whom you hold by the right hand, forsaking all others, cleave unto him only; love him, serve him, honor and obey him so long as you both shall live, even unto death part you."
I then ask a blessing on the parties, and dismiss the company.
I have not, since I began my labors as a minister of the gospel, preached, on an average, less than one hundred sermons a year, and have made several reports to associations.
The following was one I made to the Ambersburg Baptist Association, held at Chatham, Canada West, September 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th, 1856, of which I was Moderator:
"Eld. I. Campbell made the following Report of his Missionary Labors:--I have travelled two thousand five hundred and fifty miles, preached one hundred and six sermons, visited two hundred and twelve families, attended twenty-four prayer-meetings, six church meetings, administered the Lord's Supper six times, attended one covenant meeting, and baptized thirteen. Expended fifty-five dollars. Received, cash, thirty dollars."
In 1855 a man and his wife came from Kentucky to Canada. The woman became very much dissatisfied after reaching the land of liberty, and, like the rebellious Israelites, wished herself back into the land of bondage. I saw her husband the same day the Convention met in Chatham to nominate a suitable man to the upper house of Parliament. Although we were perfect strangers, he related to me his troubles.
He told me that he had not been long in this country, and liked it very well himself; but his wife was greatly
dissatisfied, and he was afraid that she would embrace the the first opportunity of getting back, as she was living in town on the river.
I advised him to bring her out to our house, thinking that my brother's wife might have some influence over her, and quiet her fears. I saw my brother, and told him what I had done, and he agreed with me.
One day during the next week, my brother being in town, he brought her out. She seemed very much distressed, and very much opposed to living in Canada. She had got a lady to write from Windsor for her to her mistress, and soon after she came to our house she received an answer. I read it for her.
She said that she knew, from the answer, that the lady did not write the letter the way she wished.
The lady said:--"I am glad, Betty, to hear that you are doing well in Canada; but I am sorry that you went off in the way you did. If you had told me that you wanted to be free, I would have let you off in the day-time, and for you not to have went in the night. When my neighbors say that my pet deceived me, I tell them that you never left of your own will. You know that we always treated you well, and were your friends, and are still your friends, such as I fear you will never find in Canada."
The woman cried bitterly, and asked me if I would not write a letter for her.
We had company that evening, and I did not write it. The next morning, while we were at breakfast, she went over to one of the neighbors at the Refugee's Home, and got a man there to write one for her. This was all done the same fall that she came to our house.
She still remained at our house until the next spring, when, not receiving any letter from her mistress, and expecting soon to be confined, she asked me to write one for her. It caused considerable dissatisfaction among the neighbors, they saying, after she had left our house, that she had gone back to Kentucky, and they thought that I
had done the writing for her. She did not go, however, but now lives with her husband in the State of Michigan, and they are doing well. I paid a pleasant visit to them in the fall of 1860. I give the letter spoken of in full:
CANADA, February 12th, 1856.
"I now take this opportunity of addressing a few lines to you to inform you that I am as well as can be expected, and my husband also. I do not think that my first letter was written as I wished, from what you said in yours. I am better satisfied now than I have ever been since I left you. I would be very glad to see you all if I could, and especially the children, who I thought so much of; and if I never see you any more on earth, I hope to meet you in heaven, where you said you hoped to meet me. Give my love to old mistress, for I often think about her. You said that you had always been my friend. I want you to befriend me now, if you please. I am here among strangers, and expect to take my bed soon; so I thought that I would ask you to send me some money to help me in my sickness. Write soon, if you please. Send your letter to Betsy Boose. No more at present. Good-night to you all.
I add the following to my narrative, that the reader may see that the sable sons are acknowledged in the British dominions the same as men of other nations. For this cause I delight in the British laws. Therefore I will always say, "God bless and save the Queen and all her heirs:"
In the year 1856, June 1st, the Long Point Association
was to convene, and I was appointed as a messenger from the Ambersburg Baptist Association. I started three days before the Association met. The second day on my way I came to a schoolhouse on the road. The schoolmaster saw me coming in my buggy, and I suppose that he thought I must be on my way to the Association. He came out and said--
"Good morning, sir."
I made obedience to him.
"Are you on your way to the Association?" he asked.
"I am," I replied.
"From what church?"
"I am glad to see the Western brethren turning out to our Association. I saw two other brethren pass this morning," said he, "and I hope that you may all have a pleasant time."
"That is what we want," said I. "You will not be there yourself?"
"No; my business will not allow me," replied the schoolmaster.
As he seemed so very friendly, I asked him if he had any friends or acquaintances on the way that he could point out to me, that I might stop and get dinner for myself and horse.
"Oh, yes," he replied. "There is a Brother Fish living on the road, and you can get there by noon. You will find him a good brother."
I thanked him and passed on. I thought to myself, "There will be fifty cents saved." The house was some three hundred yards from the road. As I drew near the house, I saw a lady standing in the doorway. She took a good look at me, and of course she saw that there was some difference between her color and mine. I jumped out of my buggy, hitched my horse, and walked up to the house. I rapped at the door, and a young damsel came out.
"Good morning, miss," said I. "Does Mr. Fish live here?"
"Yes, sir; but he is not in," she answered.
"Is his lady in?" I asked.
"Yes, sir," replied the girl.
"Will you ask her to step to the door, if you please?" I asked.
The lady came.
I said, "Good morning, Mrs. Fish. I am a messenger to your Association. The schoolmaster some miles back told me that Brother Fish's would be a good place to get my dinner and have my horse fed; therefore I have called to see if you would grant me that favor."
"Yes, sir," said she; "but there is no one to take your horse."
"Oh, I can wait on myself, madam," I replied.
"Well, sir, there is the barn, and you will find feed," said she.
So I put up my horse and fed him. I did not go to the house until Mr. Fish came; for his wife said that he would be up soon, and, pointing, showed me where he was. When he came from the field to the lot where I was, I said to him--
"How do you do sir? I suppose this is Brother Fish."
"That is my name," he replied.
"Campbell is my name," said I, "and I am a messenger to your Association, and a friend of yours advised me to call here and get my dinner and have my horse fed; and, by permission from your lady, I have fed my horse."
"All right," he replied. "From what church are you?"
"The Sandwich Church," I answered.
I discovered that during the conversation he seemed a little shy. I did not get close enough to shake hands, as he went from me. I did not see why he should be afraid, as there was very little difference in our color or in the straightness of our hair; for he was a dark Canadian and I a dark
Southerner. He then looked toward the house, then at the sun, and then at me.
"I think that our dinner is about ready," said he; "but you just stop here till I step to the house. I will be back directly."
He soon returned, and beckoned for me to come in. I went in. We sat down and entered into conversation. While we were talking, the girl was setting the table. I was very observing, but did not discover that she was setting two tables at the same time. When the table was supplied with the comforts of life, Brother Fish stepped to the room-door and asked his wife if she was coming to dinner. I did not hear what she said, but she did not come out.
Mr. Fish then turned to me and said, "Dinner is ready."
I was glad to hear the good news, for my stomach craved food. As the table was just before me, I stepped up to it, and as I was about to set down, Brother Fish said--
"There is a table for you," and he pointed towards it in one corner of the room.
I looked around and thought to myself, "Good God! is this Fish? I had rather it was a whale!"
My motto is, that every man has a right to rule his own house; so I turned to the side table, without replying a word. I remembered the promise, that I would not eat to a side table prepared for me because I was not white. My thoughts came and went like electricity. I sat down to the table, and as my plate was large, I supplied it well with all I wanted from the variety on the table. I felt so indignant, that I did not bless the food on the table. I took a bowl of water and rose up from the table with my food in my hand. "I will go out and take my dinner on the woodpile," said I.
"Oh, no," said Mr. Fish. "Eat it in here."
"No," I replied, "I cannot." I chose the wood-pile for my table. There I gave thanks and received the food. I returned plate, bowl, knife and fork back to the side table, and went to the stable and commenced currying my horse.
I considered the matter over and over again. I thought to myself, "Can this be one of the disciples of Jesus, and treat his brother in this way? It is a question with me, whether this man knows the Lord in the pardon of his sins or not. I am sure that I could not treat a fellow-man so, no matter how white or how black." I then thought, "How will it be when we get to that Holy City, where Christ reigns head over all,--where there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, but all one in Christ?" During my meditation Mr. Fish came to me. I said to him--
"Mr. Fish, I guess your wife never saw a colored man before. Did she?"
"Yes," said he, "but she is not very used to them."
"I think that the best standard by which to judge a man is according to merit, and not according to color," said I.
"Yes, but we hardly ever see any colored people through here," replied Mr. Fish.
I thought that he was a man with a very small soul, and I made up my mind that I would leave him as soon as possible. So I harnessed up my horse and bid Mr. Fish good-bye, leaving him in the hands of the great I Am, hoping that He would make him a better man, and regretting that I could not have as much confidence in his goodness as I had before I found him, and yet I thought that he and his wife were more to be pitied than despised. I prosecuted my journey till I arrived at the place for meeting. I introduced myself to a gentleman I saw in a very fine cariage coming to the meeting-house.
He extended the friendly hand to me, and said, "When meeting adjourns, you keep your eye on this carriage, and when it starts, you follow right on after it with your horse and buggy."
"Thank you, sir," said I, thanking God that I had got out of the Fish-pond. I went into the meeting-house and found a very large congregation. I listened to an excellent sermon, after which the Association was organized, and
then adjourned to meet at two o'clock in the afternoon. I followed the carriage about half a mile from the meeting-house, and I turned in, and where they were not forgetful to entertain strangers, I hoped they might entertain angels. I put up my horse, and was invited into the parlor. There I found a number of Baptist ministers of the English and Scotch descent. They all appeared to be noble-hearted brethren. I was invited to make that my stopping-place until the Association adjourned.
I accepted the invitation, and found it a very agreeable place.
In the afternoon letters from the churches were received.
The Moderator spoke of a Committee on Resolutions.
A brother by the name of Wilkerson said that he thought it was not worth while to have a Committee on Resolutions. Just let brethren present resolutions such as they feel disposed, having confidence that they would not present only such as would be in order.
This was seconded, put to vote, and carried.
That was just what I wanted, because it had been noised abroad that the Long Point Association was rather pro-slavery, and I was sent as a messenger there to ascertain the fact whether it was or not. I had a resolution already written. I held it in my hand, and thought, that if the Association would receive the resolution, I should consider them anti-slavery. I arose to the floor and addressed the Moderator--
"Brother Moderator, I wish to present a resolution to this Association by your permission."
"Read your resolution, my brother," replied the Moderator.
As I was the only man in the house claiming to be a colored man, of course every eye was on me. The resolution embodied these words: "Resolved, That we recommend to the churches composing this Association to have no fellowship with slave-holders. Slave-holding ministers,
who would sell their brothers or sisters, are unfit to preach, baptize, or commune with us."
The resolution met with a warm response throughout the entire congregation. Elder Wilkerson, a Scotchman, was so well pleased, that he rushed through the crowd and came to me. "Brother," said he, "I must have this resolution read from the chair, for it is just the thing I want."
The Moderator read it again.
A motion was then made for its reception and adoption, and when it was put to vote, I never saw in any association so many hands raised to adopt any resolution, for many held up both hands.
I then told the brethren the reason why I presented this resolution,--that the impression in the West was, that this Association was pro-slavery, and we professed to be thoroughly and practically anti-slavery; and that I was sent there to ascertain the fact in this matter, and I thought this resolution would decide the thing at once, and that I could report to the brethren, when I returned home, that I found the Long Point Association in harmony with our's, feeling that the encouragement I received at the Association was tenfold more than the contempt I met with at Mr. Fish's.
Elder Fitch, a missionary of the Long Point Association, expressed his warm desire to unite the two associations in profound confidence. So every stumbling-block was removed out of the way, and God blessed the effort, so that it proved a blessing to both associations.
They then appointed some six messengers to meet with the Ambersburg Association on the second Thursday in September,--four elders and two deacons,--and we had a blessed time at that Association: such a time as will not be forgotten by both parties, for there was a perfect union. We all seemed to be one in Christ, so that color nor dialect made no difference. From that time to the present these two associations had messengers or letters annually.
Another incident, not quite so bad as the Fish story, happened during my agency.
During my agency for the Sandusky Church, I called, one Saturday evening, on a Baptist deacon, wishing to stop over Sabbath. After having attended church meeting with them, he said that I could stop. He and his wife seemed to be very kind, and when tea was ready he and myself were standing in the yard in conversation.
His wife said, "Come in to tea."
In we went, and, of course, I felt as though we were brethren. I saw a table prepared for one person. The brother deacon said to me--
"Brother, sit down and help yourself," and he walked on to another room.
There I saw another table. I did not feel exactly as the man did when they had him up for fighting. The minister asked him if he swore in the fight.
"No, brother," said he, "I didn't say 'damn it,' but I thought it."
I did not think, "Damn it," but "Have I met the devil again?" I remembered the promise I had made to myself, that I would not eat at a side table prepared for me because I was a colored man. I sat down and asked the lady if she could give me a glass of water She set a glass and a pitcher of water on the table. I took a drink of water and walked out of the room and hunted for some secret place to pray. I went out to the edge of the village and found a brier-patch. There I secreted myself and poured out my complaints to God, who seeth and knoweth all things, to give me grace and faith and patience to bear with these contemptible obstacles that I so frequently met with among those professing to be the household of faith, because I am just of the color that my Creator made me. I think that a man has the same right to charge God with wrong as he has to treat a man with contempt because he is not white.
I thought that it was a hard task for a man of color to live a Christian life with so many obstacles thrown across his pathway. I spent that night with slumbering thoughts. The minister had invited me to preach for him on Sabbath morning. He was a young single man, but seemed very kind and friendly towards me. When breakfast-time came on Sunday morning, I saw no hope of a change in the table arrangements; so I took the Bible and walked into the parlor, and there read some of the precious promises of Christ.
The deacon came in and invited me out to breakfast.
I said, "No, sir, I thank you. I do not wish any breakfast."
"Are you sick?" he asked.
"I am not," I replied.
"You had better come out and take a cup of coffee," said he.
"Nothing at all, sir," I answered. I am sure that I would not have suffered as much if I had fasted for two days as I would if I had taken breakfast at that side table. But I thought that I would go to the tavern in the village about nine o'clock, after breakfast would be over, and call for my breakfast, when there would be no one to eat but myself. About nine o'clock I asked the deacon when the meeting commenced.
He said about half-past ten or eleven o'clock. He asked me if I was going out.
"I have a notion of going out," I answered.
"We have a very interesting Sabbath-school," said he. "I should like you to walk over with me. It is but a few steps."
"I will go, sir," I replied.
We went, and after Sabbath-school was over, we retired to the meeting-house, and I preached for them that morning. The deacon sat right in front of me, and apparently enjoyed the sermon; and it did look a little strange that he could receive my preaching, but could not receive me at
his family table. After preaching, they gave me a collection. This brother waited on the congregation and knew that I had an appointment about nine miles from there in the evening. He asked me how I was to get to my next appointment.
I told him, "There is a brother here who said that he will take me home with him and his wife to dinner, and perhaps he will take me over to my appointment after dinner."
I found no side table there, yet they were both members of the same church. I then laughed and told them that I had not eat any thing since I took my dinner on Saturday. I enjoyed my dinner very much. After dinner the brother took me over in his buggy. He and his wife went along. They staid until after the evening sermon. They bid me God speed, and I bid them the same. I have not seen nor heard from them since.
I might enlarge on just such instances as this, but I only allude to those that I find among professing Christians, where I expect better things.
During the first year of my missionary labor in Canada West as an evangelist, I visited many of the settlements. They were largely populated with colored people, which enabled me to know much about the welfare of our people, both spiritual and temporal. Therefore I have been able to give an answer to persons inquiring after the welfare of our people in Canada. I am satisfied, from my own conviction, taking every thing under consideration, that they are advancing ahead of their brethren in America, and that Canada is decidedly the best place for them this side of Africa.
On one of my missionary tours I got aboard of the cars at Chatham. Coming down to Windsor, just as the cars arrived there, I learned that there were two slave girls in
the cars with their owner; and as I had waged war with slavery wherever I met it, I felt again like opposing the wrong and freeing the victims if I could. As my eyes were glancing in every direction, I saw a colored girl walking by the side of a white woman towards the ferry-boat that conveyed the passengers from one depot to the other across the Detroit River.
I asked the colored girl if she was going to Detroit.
"No, sir," she replied.
"If you go on that boat, you will go to Detroit," said I.
I heard the white lady speak to the colored girl, but did not understand what she said. I judged that she ordered the girl to hold her peace; for I could not get an answer from her, which led me so much the more that she was a slave. I followed them until they stepped on the boat, and as they had to take breakfast on board, and the boat being on the Canada side, I went back and got three men. I said--
"I believe these girls are slaves; and if you men will go with me, I will take them from their owner, if the girls will acknowledge that they are slaves."
I went into the cabin of the boat and saw the black girl, surrounded by some white ladies. They saw me coming, and turned as white as a corpse; and as they had their treasure hid, they stepped on one side, and said--
"Sir, here she is. Take her, if you wish. She does not belong to us; we have only hired her to nurse our children."
I stepped up to the girl with all the sagacity of a British subject. "Well, my daughter, where are you going?" I asked.
"I am going to Chicago," she replied.
"Where are you from?"
"Are you not a slave?"
"Nar, sir," she answered, in the very tone of a slave.
"I know that you are a slave. You are in Canada now,
and if you will just acknowledge it, I will make you free," said I.
She still contended that she was free.
I laid my hand upon her, and said, "I will take you ashore anyhow."
She screamed out, "I am free! I am free!"
I then let her alone; yet I was satisfied that she was a slave. But I had no right to take her unless she would acknowledge it. I then went around to another part of the boat, where another girl was surrounded by some white ladies in the same way; and as I advanced towards them, they exclaimed in the same way--
"She is not our's. We have hired her from her parents. You can take her if you wish."
"Where are you from, my daughter?" I asked.
"York State, sir," she answered.
"Where are you going?"
"What part of York State do your parents live in?" I asked.
She did not know how to answer the question, for she did not know what parents were.
I then asked her where her mother lived.
She said, "Geneva."
My friend, who stood at my back, asked, "What is your mother's name? I live in Geneva."
She looked him in the face, and answered, in the language of a slave, "My massa ain't dar now."
I was still more impressed that she was lying. Her mistress stood by, (or at least the lady I judged to be her mistress,) but she did not say a word during the conversation. She had lost all the color in her face, for fear she would lose her waiting-maid. By this time a double-fisted white man came up and put his hand upon me and said--
"What is this man doing here, interfering with my people?"
I looked him in the face, and said, "My good fellow,
mind what you are about. I am a British subject, and am magnifying my office."
He stepped back and made himself as small as his wife, or at least the lady I took to be his wife.
I took the girl by the hand and said, "My daughter, you are a slave, and I will make you free if you will go with me.' "
She exclaimed, "I am free! I am free! I don't want to go!"
I then gave her up. I thought that I had done my duty. "You will repent of this by-and-bye," said I. I then went off the boat, and it soon started for the other side of the lake, where chains, whip and slavery reign. I think that the slaveholders on that boat will often remember me.
Of all the evils I am acquainted with on earth, there is none so blighting as the curse of American slavery.
In my judgment, a providential circumstance occurred May 15th, 1860. I was walking along near Dunkirk, New York, when a young man came along with a very fine span of horses and a wagon. The horse on the off side was very sleek and as black as a coal. I asked the young man if I could take a ride with him. "Yes," said he; "jump in." I got in and seated myself. I do not think that I had been in the wagon more than ten minutes before this black nag took a start. They ran as fast as they could put their feet to the ground. I saw that the young man could not hold them; and as there was a bridge some distance ahead, I was rather fearful lest we should not make a safe entrance on it. We reined them to the side of the road, something about the neck yoke gave way, the tongue of the wagon ran about four feet six inches in the ground on the side of a hill, such was the speed of the horses. If I
had not been with the young man, he would certainly have been crippled or killed. He thought so himself. We got the tongue out of the hill, hitched up the horses, and went on our way. I think that there is an over-ruling Providence that man cannot always see. I was then on my way to the city of New York. Soon after I had got my naturalization papers there was a notice of a farm to be sold, divided into village lots. The Great Western Railroad was then being constructed through that part of the country, and we thought that our village would soon become a town. The day arrived on which the sale was to take place. Hundreds of persons gathered together to purchase town property, and I being a British subject, felt that I had as much right there as any other person. There were many colored gentlemen present from Detroit. The auctioneer, John McCloud, said that colored men need not bid, as their bids would not be taken. One of the colored men from Detroit bid on a lot, and went to pay the money for it; but when McCloud saw that he was not white, he refused to take the money, and said-- "You're pretty good looking, but you can't come in," and put the lot up again, when it was bid off by a white man. He went on selling until he came to a corner lot, when I bid it off. While I was getting out my pocket-book to pay the amount, McCloud asked-- "Whose bid was that?" "It was mine," I replied. "I can't take it, sir," said he. "Why not, sir?" I asked. "I am a British subject, and have sworn allegiance to this government, and I expect to support it. I have as much right to buy property here as you or any other man." "I have nothing to do with that, sir," said he, and he
began selling the lot again. It was bid off by a Frenchman, who was as brown as I, for ten dollars less than my bid. This I thought was too much of an outrage upon a British subject; so I thought I would try the strength of the British law. I went the same afternoon down to Sandwich to consult a lawyer. He told me that it was a case such as had never come to his notice before, and it would cause considerable excitement, although it was according to British law, and he thought that I might recover damages. He told me, however, that I had better counsel with Colonel Prince. A few days afterwards I saw him again, and he said that Colonel Prince would take the case. A day or two after this I was going across the river to Detroit. H. L. Perry and myself were talking about colored men being prohibited buying town property. Colonel Prince was standing close by and heard the conversation. He said-- "They cannot prohibit you from buying property." "But they did do it," said I. "They cannot do it. If strangers and foreigners come here to live with us, we impart to them the same blessings we enjoy ourselves," said he. "How could you help yourself when, if you was to bid off a lot, they would not take your bid, but strike it off to some one else?" I asked. "I would sue them for damages," replied the Colonel. "Well, can a person do that?" I inquired. "Certainly they can," he answered. "Well, I have been waiting for you, Colonel, to see if you would undertake the case," said I. "Certainly I will. Take the case to Mr. Fluett, and he will prepare it for court, and I will defend it," he replied. I then went around among my colored friends, and told them what Colonel Prince had said. They all had great confidence in the Colonel. I told them, that if I entered the suit, it would be for their benefit as well as mine; so if they were all willing to help through the expense of the suit, I would enter it. They all agreed to help pay the cost, and every man who gave a dollar or more was to receive the same back again if I gained the suit, and if I lost we were all to lose together. I collected some eleven dollars, and went down to the clerk and sued for two thousand dollars damages. I had good prospects of succeeding; for Colonel Prince and S. McDonald, the owner of the lots, were at variance at this time. When court time arrived and the case came up the Colonel was not there; and when the Court of the Queen's Bench came on, Mr. McDonald was in Europe. When he returned, Colonel Prince was running for Parliament, and I was electioneering for him. Mr. McDonald also went to canvassing for him. Like Herod and Pilate, they united their friendship to defeat me in my case; for after the Colonel was elected, I went to him to know how my case was coming on. He said that he was rather doubtful about my recovering damages; but if I urged it, he could bring the case up at the next court. I saw at once that there was no hope for success. I thought, "Well might the Saviour exclaim, 'Woe be unto ye lawyers!' " I thought that it was better to lose the eleven dollars that I had given him than to press the suit. However, the action that was taken done considerable good, for it changed the public opinion, so that afterwards colored men could always buy property whenever they had a mind to. One evening, during my former labors, I stopped at the town of Norwalk, and called at Mr. Morehouse's to remain over night. I met with a warm reception, and enjoyed myself very much with the family. I sang several antislavery songs, and the young lady played several tunes on
the piano for me. The evening soon passed away, so agreeable was the company. It being time to retire, Mrs. Morehouse being a considerate woman, and the night being rather cold, she built a fire in the room next to the one in which I was to sleep, so that the room could be heated by the pipe which ran through it. After we had retired, the room in which the fire had been made took fire, which frightened Mrs. Morehouse very much, and she sprang up and ran into the room where I was, and cried out-- "Get up! the room is on fire! Get up! the house is on fire!" She soon had all the inmates up helping to put out the fire, which they accomplished with but little damage, except a bad fright. Whenever I call at Mr. Morehouse's, we have a hearty laugh over that memorable fire. In my travels I came to New London, and called on a venerable old gentleman, a deacon of the Baptist denomination, one Saturday evening, and asked for a night's lodging. He said that he did not know whether they could accommodate me or not, as they were rather scarce of beds. I told him that I should like to stay there over night. "Well," said he, "we will try to keep you." Bed-time came, and he gave me a bed on the floor; it was, however, a very comfortable one. The next morning (Sunday) the pastor came in from the country and called upon the deacon. I presented my papers to him. He read them, and then turned to the deacon and said-- "I presume we had better have our brother preach for us this morning." "Why, is he a minister?" asked the deacon. "Yes," replied the elder, "he comes well recommended." "I did not know that," said the deacon. They then consulted awhile, and concluded that I should preach for them that morning. After sermon, a gentleman moved that there be a collection taken up for my benefit. Another gentleman then arose and hoped that it would be deferred, and that I would speak again for them, when the people would come better prepared. It was finally agreed that the minister should speak in the afternoon, and that I should again preach in the evening. I done so, and they took up a collection of some dollars, and seemed very much pleased with my performance. In the morning, after service, the deacon insisted that the minister and myself should return to dinner, and at night I went home with him. This time he gave me a very nice curtained bed to sleep on. I thought that I had been raised from the lower to the upper story, and that it was an advantage sometimes for a man to be a minister. The deacon always found a bed for me when I called on him after that. I called, one day, at Welsh Hills, near Granville College, Ohio, and on the Sabbath preached in the Baptist Church, and made arrangements to deliver an anti-slavery lecture on the first night of February, 1860. I appeared there, according to arrangement, at that time; but as I stepped up to the gate that opened into the churchyard, I noticed a couple of men standing beside it. I bowed to them; and as I was about to pass on, one of them tapped me on the shoulder, and said-- "I want to speak a word with you." I asked him what he wanted. He said that the lecture which I was expected to deliver could not be given there that evening. "Why not?" I asked. "We have thought it best not to open the doors to you, as they will have to be open for the coming campaign," said he. "Well, what will have to be done?" I inquired. "You can preach," said he. I thought at the moment that I would, and walked on into the church. By the time I got in, my mind changed, and I determined, that if they could not hear me talk about my suffering brethren, they should not hear me preach. When the meeting opened, I arose and told the brethren that the persons having charge of the church were not willing for me to lecture there that evening, and therefore I was not prepared to do any thing else. Thereupon I started for the door, when a good part of the people arose to follow me, and wanted me to lecture in the street. It being very cold, I would not consent to this, as there were many ladies present, and they would get frosted. I went to the other side of the road, and proceeded towards the barn of a young man, who gave us admittance. His mother's house was near by, and she told him not to let me in; but he did not heed her. The barn was soon as full as it would hold, and I lectured about an hour. John's wife threatened to leave him if he permitted me to preach there, and the man who would not leave me lecture in the church stood outside for a while, and then went home. John's wife was not gone the next day, and I concluded that she would not leave so soon. I have been by there since, and the Mrs. Joneses imagine that I ought not to think hard of their action towards me. During one of my travels, I went to Concord, and found the Baptist brethren laboring in a protracted meeting. They invited me to preach for them on Sunday evening. I had a previous appointment at Johnstown, several miles from Concord, and was not able to accept the invitation. I consented, however, to preach for them on Tuesday evening. I expected to leave on Wednesday morning, but two of the deacons came and urged me to stay and labor with them during the meeting. I told them that I was endeavoring to collect money to liquidate the debt on our church, and that I could not stop at any one place long. They wished to know how much I would stay with them for. I told them that I could not stay unless they could give me twenty-five dollars, as I thought that I would collect about that amount during that time. They told me that they would raise it for me. I continued with them for two weeks, and had a very pleasant time. I had good congregations, many coming, perhaps, from the novelty of hearing a colored man preach, and many on account of the benefit they would derive from the services. The first week did not give any great promise of success, but I exhorted them to have faith in God, for He would hear and answer prayer. I endeavored to manifest myself in the glorious work that we were engaged in. I made it a subject of prayer; and one night, after I had went to bed and prayed that the Lord would bless my labors during this series of meetings, I was shown, in a vision, that we would have an addition of four. I saw their heads shining like fine gold, and their heads were the heads of ladies. I saw also in the vision an officer, with a warrant in his hand for two persons, and it appeared to me as if it were a death-warrant. When I awoke from my vision, I began connecting the
incidents together, and took the four heads for four additions to our church, and thought that the warrants predicted the death of two of them within the next twelve months. The next Sabbath I told my vision to the brethren, when I learned that four ladies had presented themselves for baptism. Thus I saw part of my dream fulfilled, but have not had an opportunity of hearing whether the latter part has happened or not. When the two weeks were up, the brethren gave me thirty dollars, instead of the twenty-five which I had been promised. I then took my departure. As I was about starting, two of the young ladies' fathers each put a dollar in my hand, and another lady gave me a dollar and a half, which made my two weeks' labor amount to over thirty-three dollars, besides some presents which I received from the kind friends. When I left Concord I went to Delhi and Middletown, and found the brethren laboring in serious meetings. I staid a few days at each place, and received collections from them. The following, from the American Baptist, gives the inside views of slavery on Southern plantations: We invite the attention of the reader to one of the plantations of Mr. L----, of Louisiana, the first one on which the writer was ever employed as a mechanic. This was considered one of the best managed plantations in the parish, for which no small part of the credit was due to the intelligence, skill and business energy of his faithful overseer, by whom his slaves were well fed, well clothed, well housed, well cared for in sickness and in the tender age of infancy and childhood; and, it may be added, well
worked, and well flogged for any delinquency or slackness. The allowance of food for each working slave was half a pound of pork a day, taken with corn-bread and water for breakfast, with the addition of vegetables for dinner. These meals are taken in the field. On this plantation there were from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and thirty cotton-pickers to be thus fed, besides the infirm, the small children, and others that were at home in their quarters. The food was prepared at the slaves' quarters by the cook, who provided the aggregate allowance for the whole gang, divided into as many equal parts as the gang numbered. The slaves provide themselves with tin buckets or gourds, according to their means, in which to receive respectfully their allowance, as it is dealt out to families and individuals. The allowance for supper, as before noticed, was simply corn-bread and water, the slaves sometimes reserving a portion of the pot-liquor, which comes with their breakfast and dinner, to sop their bread in at night. The supper is the only meal taken at their quarters. This is what, in Southern parlance, is called good feeding. For summer clothing the men received each one cheap palmetto hat, one Lowell cotton shirt, two pairs of pants of Lowell cotton, one pair of shoes; the women, one cotton handkerchief, one cotton under-garment, two cotton coats, and one pair of shoes. For winter, the men received each two cotton shirts, one linsey-woolsey jacket, one pair of pants of the same cloth, one pair of shoes, and once in two years, a cheap cotton felt hat. The winter allowance for the women was one cotton head-kerchief, two cotton under-garmenents, one linsey-woolsey coat, and one pair of shoes. Skirts they make for themselves, if they have them, by patching the fragments of worn-out clothes. Each working slave was allowed one cheap blanket every second year. On Monday morning they were all required to turn out with their cotton clothes well washed, or receive twenty-five
lashes. Sunday is their washing-day. Some take the night for it, after their day's work is completed. I afterwards found that the plantation regulations varied among different owners and overseers, some of whom give out their slaves' allowance on Sunday for the whole week, three and a half pounds of meat, and a peck of corn-meal, which the slaves cooked for themselves at night. This was, however, found to be bad economy, inasmuch as the labor of cooking encroached upon their needful hours of rest, and thus impaired their health and strength and their productive power. It was therefore superseded on large and well-regulations plantations by a common cooking establishment, where the meals were well cooked, and at seasonable hours, by an old and experienced slave. Planters generally worked their slaves from daybreak until dark, with no other intermission than the short time required for a hasty breakfast and dinner; except that during a part of June and July, up to the time of cotton-gathering, a recess of two hours in the midst of the day was allowed them. Mr. L----'s slaves were comfortably housed. Their quarters consisted of small one-story frame tenements of two rooms each, to accommodate two families, with a chimney in the centre. They are weather-boarded, and have a tight board floor, a comfort with which negro quarters are not always furnished, without ceiling, lining or windows, except wooden shutters. These buildings, arranged in two or more rows, placed at equal distances from each other, of uniform style and size, all whitewashed, present to the beholder an attractive appearance, somewhat resembling a neat New England village. Add to this the cleanly appearance of the slaves on Monday morning, with their newly-washed garments of Lowell cotton, and we have a specimen of Dr. Adams' South-side View, "beautiful outwardly," like the "whited sepulchres" spoken of by our Saviour. To infer from this show of order and beauty, that comfort and happiness reign within, would be
about as rational as a like conclusion drawn from the appearance of the splendid edifice which contains the manacled prisoner. Such were the negro quarters on the best regulated plantations in the region where I resided. On other places they were mean, uncomfortable log-cabins, with the ground for a floor. As to furniture, it is such as the slaves can make a shift to provide for themselves, as nothing of the kind is included in their allowance. A large gourd serves them for a bucket, a small one for a dipper; a rudely-constructed bench or stool for a chair, and a like rude construction or a box for a table. Their lodging is either on the floor, wrapped in their blanket, or in a rough bunk framed in a corner of their cabins, or on master's old cast-off bedstead. Their beds, if any are able to obtain that luxury, consist mostly of corn-shucks enclosed in a tick of old cotton sacks, or the patched fragments of their tattered garments, while a very few who have means purchase new ticking. A wooden tray, of their own manufacture, serves the double purpose of platter and plate for the family table, and in eating they illustrate the common saw, that "fingers were made before forks, and hands also before knives and spoons." One knife for a family, either pocket or case-knife, is about as indispensable as farming tools on a plantation. In the furniture of different cabins, however, there are grades of variety and style, as well as in the furniture of any other community; each family providing itself with conveniences and elegancies, such as knives and forks, and plates and dishes of crockery or tinware, as means permit and taste dictates. Such cooking implements as a pot, kettle or skillet, are among their rarities; the embers of the hearth for their ash-pone, and the hoe for baking hoe-cake, subserve the most of their cooking purposes, on plantations where they have no general cooking establishment. For washing, a tub, block and paddle, beside a stream,
lake or bayou, answer every purpose. The fire of the hearth serves them in the place of lamps or candles. Their fuel they gather and cut for themselves, when timber-land is near, or have it hauled by the teamster when it is far off. The slaves' pecuniary means are derived from a variety of sources, such as raising chickens; working for wages on Sunday, when work crowds; cultivating patches of their own on Sundays, an indulgence with which overseers sometimes stimulate their best slaves; and female prostitution, in which line many of the fairest of the sex do a very profitable business with wealthy paramours. Sunday is the slave's own day on all well-regulated plantations, except so much of it as their owner may require of them for washing and mending clothes, sharpening and repairing tools, and other necessary preparations for plantation work of the ensuing week, which must not be interrupted by these incidental avocations. Whatever work of their own they have to do must be done on this day, for the six days' labor, from early dawn to the shutting down of night, is all claimed by their owner. The Lord's day is the slave's day, in which to labor and do all his own work, and some of his master's, while the six are consecrated days--consecrated exclusively to the service of his earthly owner. The Sabbath is the day for him to work for wages, cultivate his own patch, gather moss for the market, market his chickens and his little crop of vegetables, and fit up or repair the rude comforts of his own cabin. All this work of his own and his master's, crowded upon this single day, makes it a poor day of rest for the slave. On another of Mr. L--'s well-managed plantations, where I was likewise employed as a mechanic, Mr. G-- was overseer, who had the reputation of being an excellent manager. Indeed, it was in all respects similar to the management of the overseer of the first named plantation, and between the two there was a constant strife to outdo each other at cropping. This spirit of emulation, I afterwards
found, was common to all the overseers in that region, which made them furious Jehus as slave-driving. This may be sport, or at least gain, to the competitors, but suffering sorrow to their panting human teams. Not that they are regardless of the life and health of their slaves. They are as careful to keep them in good condition as to get "the last lick" of work out of them, for one is subservient to the other. Their ambition is to secure the greatest possible amount of gain to their employers, and thus obtain for themselves good situations and large salaries; and, like the stock-growing farmer, they think as much of improving the value of the planter's human stock as of his crops. No pains are spared to make the negroes strong and healthy, and to rear a numerous and vigorous offspring. In the latter respect their care is often excessive--I mean excessively severe. Mr. G--, the overseer last named, told me that his rule was to give a slave mother one hundred lashes, if she lost her child; as if a mother's affection was not inducement enough to secure watchfulness and care on her part, and a mother's anguish at the death of her child not sufficiently intense, without the addition of this terrible scourging! Mr. G--'s care of the health and condition of his negroes did not spare their hides, as their scarred backs gave unmistakable proof. I noticed on the plantation he managed, a large number of slaves who had been so cut up with the lash, that their backs were marked with scars and welts from their shoulders to their heels. I was surprised and shocked at the amount of whipping which I witnessed myself on this plantation. I rode out, one day, with the overseer, to their field of labor. They were cutting timber, and getting out rails. A number of them, whose movement did not please him, were ordered to shell off and come down, to have their activity quickened with the driver's excruciating lash. One Sunday morning I witnessed a punishment of a very different kind. The vigilant overseer had, the night before,
caught a slave in the act of cooking a pig he had stolen. He was immediately taken to the stocks, and there fastened by the neck till the next morning. After breakfast, the overseer ordered his black driver to bring the culprit to his house, along with the pot of pig he had cooked. "Shell off your clothes, sir, and sit down!" The poor fellow trembled, and rolled his eyes in a wild manner, as if watching an opportunity to break away. But the presence of the driver, with his heavy loaded whip ready to knock him down if he made the attempt, precluded all hope of escape. The overseer taunted him, and bade him help himself to the contents of the pot as fast as possible. When he ceased, because he could eat no more, the raw hide was applied to his bare back, and the meat, grease and soup, were forced down him until his abused stomach disgorged its contents. This only aggravated his punishment, as he was compelled to swallow again what his stomach threw off, and this process of vomiting and swallowing it again was continued, alternated with scourging, until it seemed as if the poor fellow would die under the operation. Another method of punishment for a like offence was adopted by Mr. M--, the overseer of Col. B--. The pig-stealer was compelled to wear a ham of fresh pork lashed to his shoulders like a knapsack, without any relief from the burden, night or day, until the flesh dropped from the bones. The sickening stench of the putrid meat, which the victim was compelled perpetually to inhale, and the annoyance of the swarms of flies which it attracted, in fly time, together with the long process of decomposition, rendered this the most intolerable punishment! The overseer on another plantation boasted to his brother overseers, that he had compelled a slave to eat the whole of a duck which he had stolen, feathers, entrails, every thing but the wings, who applauded him for his skill in managing niggers. The same overseer drove a slave into the river, where he was drowned. He became notorious,
indeed, for his outrages upon the defenceless blacks. But he bore the character of "an excellent cropper," who could make a nigger travel about right. This alone was sufficient to cover a multitude of sins. Mammon is a cruel god when humanity crosses his path; it is then he becomes a Moloch. Another of the legitimate effects of slavery was exhibited on Mr. L--'s third plantation, in which the overseer suspended a slave by his thumbs and great toes to the limb of a peach tree, and whipped him to death. To escape punishment, he crossed over into Mississippi, and remained there until the Grand Jury had finished their report of criminal cases for the next court. This case excited a great deal of sympathy in the neighborhood, not for the poor murdered slave, but for the murderer, because he was compelled by this unhappy occurrence to leave a good situation, while his employer kept back his wages to indemnify himself for the property he had thus lost.
"It unmans the man, by God made free,
And robs him of his liberty."
In my judgment, a providential circumstance occurred May 15th, 1860. I was walking along near Dunkirk, New York, when a young man came along with a very fine span of horses and a wagon. The horse on the off side was very sleek and as black as a coal.
I asked the young man if I could take a ride with him.
"Yes," said he; "jump in."
I got in and seated myself. I do not think that I had been in the wagon more than ten minutes before this black nag took a start. They ran as fast as they could put their feet to the ground. I saw that the young man could not hold them; and as there was a bridge some distance ahead, I was rather fearful lest we should not make a safe entrance on it. We reined them to the side of the road, something about the neck yoke gave way, the tongue of the wagon ran about four feet six inches in the ground on the side of a hill, such was the speed of the horses. If I
had not been with the young man, he would certainly have been crippled or killed. He thought so himself. We got the tongue out of the hill, hitched up the horses, and went on our way. I think that there is an over-ruling Providence that man cannot always see. I was then on my way to the city of New York.
Soon after I had got my naturalization papers there was a notice of a farm to be sold, divided into village lots. The Great Western Railroad was then being constructed through that part of the country, and we thought that our village would soon become a town. The day arrived on which the sale was to take place. Hundreds of persons gathered together to purchase town property, and I being a British subject, felt that I had as much right there as any other person. There were many colored gentlemen present from Detroit.
The auctioneer, John McCloud, said that colored men need not bid, as their bids would not be taken.
One of the colored men from Detroit bid on a lot, and went to pay the money for it; but when McCloud saw that he was not white, he refused to take the money, and said--
"You're pretty good looking, but you can't come in," and put the lot up again, when it was bid off by a white man. He went on selling until he came to a corner lot, when I bid it off. While I was getting out my pocket-book to pay the amount, McCloud asked--
"Whose bid was that?"
"It was mine," I replied.
"I can't take it, sir," said he.
"Why not, sir?" I asked. "I am a British subject, and have sworn allegiance to this government, and I expect to support it. I have as much right to buy property here as you or any other man."
"I have nothing to do with that, sir," said he, and he
began selling the lot again. It was bid off by a Frenchman, who was as brown as I, for ten dollars less than my bid.
This I thought was too much of an outrage upon a British subject; so I thought I would try the strength of the British law. I went the same afternoon down to Sandwich to consult a lawyer.
He told me that it was a case such as had never come to his notice before, and it would cause considerable excitement, although it was according to British law, and he thought that I might recover damages. He told me, however, that I had better counsel with Colonel Prince.
A few days afterwards I saw him again, and he said that Colonel Prince would take the case. A day or two after this I was going across the river to Detroit.
H. L. Perry and myself were talking about colored men being prohibited buying town property. Colonel Prince was standing close by and heard the conversation. He said--
"They cannot prohibit you from buying property."
"But they did do it," said I.
"They cannot do it. If strangers and foreigners come here to live with us, we impart to them the same blessings we enjoy ourselves," said he.
"How could you help yourself when, if you was to bid off a lot, they would not take your bid, but strike it off to some one else?" I asked.
"I would sue them for damages," replied the Colonel.
"Well, can a person do that?" I inquired.
"Certainly they can," he answered.
"Well, I have been waiting for you, Colonel, to see if you would undertake the case," said I.
"Certainly I will. Take the case to Mr. Fluett, and he will prepare it for court, and I will defend it," he replied.
I then went around among my colored friends, and told them what Colonel Prince had said. They all had great confidence in the Colonel.
I told them, that if I entered the suit, it would be for their benefit as well as mine; so if they were all willing to help through the expense of the suit, I would enter it.
They all agreed to help pay the cost, and every man who gave a dollar or more was to receive the same back again if I gained the suit, and if I lost we were all to lose together.
I collected some eleven dollars, and went down to the clerk and sued for two thousand dollars damages. I had good prospects of succeeding; for Colonel Prince and S. McDonald, the owner of the lots, were at variance at this time. When court time arrived and the case came up the Colonel was not there; and when the Court of the Queen's Bench came on, Mr. McDonald was in Europe. When he returned, Colonel Prince was running for Parliament, and I was electioneering for him. Mr. McDonald also went to canvassing for him. Like Herod and Pilate, they united their friendship to defeat me in my case; for after the Colonel was elected, I went to him to know how my case was coming on.
He said that he was rather doubtful about my recovering damages; but if I urged it, he could bring the case up at the next court.
I saw at once that there was no hope for success. I thought, "Well might the Saviour exclaim, 'Woe be unto ye lawyers!' " I thought that it was better to lose the eleven dollars that I had given him than to press the suit. However, the action that was taken done considerable good, for it changed the public opinion, so that afterwards colored men could always buy property whenever they had a mind to.
One evening, during my former labors, I stopped at the town of Norwalk, and called at Mr. Morehouse's to remain over night. I met with a warm reception, and enjoyed myself very much with the family. I sang several antislavery songs, and the young lady played several tunes on
the piano for me. The evening soon passed away, so agreeable was the company. It being time to retire, Mrs. Morehouse being a considerate woman, and the night being rather cold, she built a fire in the room next to the one in which I was to sleep, so that the room could be heated by the pipe which ran through it.
After we had retired, the room in which the fire had been made took fire, which frightened Mrs. Morehouse very much, and she sprang up and ran into the room where I was, and cried out--
"Get up! the room is on fire! Get up! the house is on fire!"
She soon had all the inmates up helping to put out the fire, which they accomplished with but little damage, except a bad fright.
Whenever I call at Mr. Morehouse's, we have a hearty laugh over that memorable fire.
In my travels I came to New London, and called on a venerable old gentleman, a deacon of the Baptist denomination, one Saturday evening, and asked for a night's lodging.
He said that he did not know whether they could accommodate me or not, as they were rather scarce of beds.
I told him that I should like to stay there over night.
"Well," said he, "we will try to keep you."
Bed-time came, and he gave me a bed on the floor; it was, however, a very comfortable one. The next morning (Sunday) the pastor came in from the country and called upon the deacon. I presented my papers to him. He read them, and then turned to the deacon and said--
"I presume we had better have our brother preach for us this morning."
"Why, is he a minister?" asked the deacon.
"Yes," replied the elder, "he comes well recommended."
"I did not know that," said the deacon.
They then consulted awhile, and concluded that I should preach for them that morning.
After sermon, a gentleman moved that there be a collection taken up for my benefit.
Another gentleman then arose and hoped that it would be deferred, and that I would speak again for them, when the people would come better prepared.
It was finally agreed that the minister should speak in the afternoon, and that I should again preach in the evening. I done so, and they took up a collection of some dollars, and seemed very much pleased with my performance.
In the morning, after service, the deacon insisted that the minister and myself should return to dinner, and at night I went home with him. This time he gave me a very nice curtained bed to sleep on. I thought that I had been raised from the lower to the upper story, and that it was an advantage sometimes for a man to be a minister. The deacon always found a bed for me when I called on him after that.
I called, one day, at Welsh Hills, near Granville College, Ohio, and on the Sabbath preached in the Baptist Church, and made arrangements to deliver an anti-slavery lecture on the first night of February, 1860. I appeared there, according to arrangement, at that time; but as I stepped up to the gate that opened into the churchyard, I noticed a couple of men standing beside it. I bowed to them; and as I was about to pass on, one of them tapped me on the shoulder, and said--
"I want to speak a word with you."
I asked him what he wanted.
He said that the lecture which I was expected to deliver could not be given there that evening.
"Why not?" I asked.
"We have thought it best not to open the doors to you, as they will have to be open for the coming campaign," said he.
"Well, what will have to be done?" I inquired.
"You can preach," said he.
I thought at the moment that I would, and walked on into the church. By the time I got in, my mind changed, and I determined, that if they could not hear me talk about my suffering brethren, they should not hear me preach.
When the meeting opened, I arose and told the brethren that the persons having charge of the church were not willing for me to lecture there that evening, and therefore I was not prepared to do any thing else. Thereupon I started for the door, when a good part of the people arose to follow me, and wanted me to lecture in the street.
It being very cold, I would not consent to this, as there were many ladies present, and they would get frosted. I went to the other side of the road, and proceeded towards the barn of a young man, who gave us admittance. His mother's house was near by, and she told him not to let me in; but he did not heed her.
The barn was soon as full as it would hold, and I lectured about an hour.
John's wife threatened to leave him if he permitted me to preach there, and the man who would not leave me lecture in the church stood outside for a while, and then went home.
John's wife was not gone the next day, and I concluded that she would not leave so soon. I have been by there since, and the Mrs. Joneses imagine that I ought not to think hard of their action towards me.
During one of my travels, I went to Concord, and found the Baptist brethren laboring in a protracted meeting. They invited me to preach for them on Sunday evening.
I had a previous appointment at Johnstown, several miles from Concord, and was not able to accept the invitation. I consented, however, to preach for them on Tuesday evening. I expected to leave on Wednesday morning, but two of the deacons came and urged me to stay and labor with them during the meeting.
I told them that I was endeavoring to collect money to liquidate the debt on our church, and that I could not stop at any one place long.
They wished to know how much I would stay with them for.
I told them that I could not stay unless they could give me twenty-five dollars, as I thought that I would collect about that amount during that time.
They told me that they would raise it for me.
I continued with them for two weeks, and had a very pleasant time. I had good congregations, many coming, perhaps, from the novelty of hearing a colored man preach, and many on account of the benefit they would derive from the services.
The first week did not give any great promise of success, but I exhorted them to have faith in God, for He would hear and answer prayer. I endeavored to manifest myself in the glorious work that we were engaged in. I made it a subject of prayer; and one night, after I had went to bed and prayed that the Lord would bless my labors during this series of meetings, I was shown, in a vision, that we would have an addition of four. I saw their heads shining like fine gold, and their heads were the heads of ladies. I saw also in the vision an officer, with a warrant in his hand for two persons, and it appeared to me as if it were a death-warrant.
When I awoke from my vision, I began connecting the
incidents together, and took the four heads for four additions to our church, and thought that the warrants predicted the death of two of them within the next twelve months.
The next Sabbath I told my vision to the brethren, when I learned that four ladies had presented themselves for baptism. Thus I saw part of my dream fulfilled, but have not had an opportunity of hearing whether the latter part has happened or not.
When the two weeks were up, the brethren gave me thirty dollars, instead of the twenty-five which I had been promised. I then took my departure.
As I was about starting, two of the young ladies' fathers each put a dollar in my hand, and another lady gave me a dollar and a half, which made my two weeks' labor amount to over thirty-three dollars, besides some presents which I received from the kind friends.
When I left Concord I went to Delhi and Middletown, and found the brethren laboring in serious meetings. I staid a few days at each place, and received collections from them.
The following, from the American Baptist, gives the inside views of slavery on Southern plantations:
We invite the attention of the reader to one of the plantations of Mr. L----, of Louisiana, the first one on which the writer was ever employed as a mechanic. This was considered one of the best managed plantations in the parish, for which no small part of the credit was due to the intelligence, skill and business energy of his faithful overseer, by whom his slaves were well fed, well clothed, well housed, well cared for in sickness and in the tender age of infancy and childhood; and, it may be added, well
worked, and well flogged for any delinquency or slackness.
The allowance of food for each working slave was half a pound of pork a day, taken with corn-bread and water for breakfast, with the addition of vegetables for dinner. These meals are taken in the field.
On this plantation there were from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and thirty cotton-pickers to be thus fed, besides the infirm, the small children, and others that were at home in their quarters. The food was prepared at the slaves' quarters by the cook, who provided the aggregate allowance for the whole gang, divided into as many equal parts as the gang numbered. The slaves provide themselves with tin buckets or gourds, according to their means, in which to receive respectfully their allowance, as it is dealt out to families and individuals. The allowance for supper, as before noticed, was simply corn-bread and water, the slaves sometimes reserving a portion of the pot-liquor, which comes with their breakfast and dinner, to sop their bread in at night. The supper is the only meal taken at their quarters. This is what, in Southern parlance, is called good feeding.
For summer clothing the men received each one cheap palmetto hat, one Lowell cotton shirt, two pairs of pants of Lowell cotton, one pair of shoes; the women, one cotton handkerchief, one cotton under-garment, two cotton coats, and one pair of shoes. For winter, the men received each two cotton shirts, one linsey-woolsey jacket, one pair of pants of the same cloth, one pair of shoes, and once in two years, a cheap cotton felt hat. The winter allowance for the women was one cotton head-kerchief, two cotton under-garmenents, one linsey-woolsey coat, and one pair of shoes. Skirts they make for themselves, if they have them, by patching the fragments of worn-out clothes. Each working slave was allowed one cheap blanket every second year.
On Monday morning they were all required to turn out with their cotton clothes well washed, or receive twenty-five
lashes. Sunday is their washing-day. Some take the night for it, after their day's work is completed. I afterwards found that the plantation regulations varied among different owners and overseers, some of whom give out their slaves' allowance on Sunday for the whole week, three and a half pounds of meat, and a peck of corn-meal, which the slaves cooked for themselves at night. This was, however, found to be bad economy, inasmuch as the labor of cooking encroached upon their needful hours of rest, and thus impaired their health and strength and their productive power. It was therefore superseded on large and well-regulations plantations by a common cooking establishment, where the meals were well cooked, and at seasonable hours, by an old and experienced slave.
Planters generally worked their slaves from daybreak until dark, with no other intermission than the short time required for a hasty breakfast and dinner; except that during a part of June and July, up to the time of cotton-gathering, a recess of two hours in the midst of the day was allowed them.
Mr. L----'s slaves were comfortably housed. Their quarters consisted of small one-story frame tenements of two rooms each, to accommodate two families, with a chimney in the centre. They are weather-boarded, and have a tight board floor, a comfort with which negro quarters are not always furnished, without ceiling, lining or windows, except wooden shutters. These buildings, arranged in two or more rows, placed at equal distances from each other, of uniform style and size, all whitewashed, present to the beholder an attractive appearance, somewhat resembling a neat New England village. Add to this the cleanly appearance of the slaves on Monday morning, with their newly-washed garments of Lowell cotton, and we have a specimen of Dr. Adams' South-side View, "beautiful outwardly," like the "whited sepulchres" spoken of by our Saviour. To infer from this show of order and beauty, that comfort and happiness reign within, would be
about as rational as a like conclusion drawn from the appearance of the splendid edifice which contains the manacled prisoner.
Such were the negro quarters on the best regulated plantations in the region where I resided. On other places they were mean, uncomfortable log-cabins, with the ground for a floor.
As to furniture, it is such as the slaves can make a shift to provide for themselves, as nothing of the kind is included in their allowance. A large gourd serves them for a bucket, a small one for a dipper; a rudely-constructed bench or stool for a chair, and a like rude construction or a box for a table. Their lodging is either on the floor, wrapped in their blanket, or in a rough bunk framed in a corner of their cabins, or on master's old cast-off bedstead. Their beds, if any are able to obtain that luxury, consist mostly of corn-shucks enclosed in a tick of old cotton sacks, or the patched fragments of their tattered garments, while a very few who have means purchase new ticking. A wooden tray, of their own manufacture, serves the double purpose of platter and plate for the family table, and in eating they illustrate the common saw, that "fingers were made before forks, and hands also before knives and spoons." One knife for a family, either pocket or case-knife, is about as indispensable as farming tools on a plantation. In the furniture of different cabins, however, there are grades of variety and style, as well as in the furniture of any other community; each family providing itself with conveniences and elegancies, such as knives and forks, and plates and dishes of crockery or tinware, as means permit and taste dictates. Such cooking implements as a pot, kettle or skillet, are among their rarities; the embers of the hearth for their ash-pone, and the hoe for baking hoe-cake, subserve the most of their cooking purposes, on plantations where they have no general cooking establishment.
For washing, a tub, block and paddle, beside a stream,
lake or bayou, answer every purpose. The fire of the hearth serves them in the place of lamps or candles. Their fuel they gather and cut for themselves, when timber-land is near, or have it hauled by the teamster when it is far off.
The slaves' pecuniary means are derived from a variety of sources, such as raising chickens; working for wages on Sunday, when work crowds; cultivating patches of their own on Sundays, an indulgence with which overseers sometimes stimulate their best slaves; and female prostitution, in which line many of the fairest of the sex do a very profitable business with wealthy paramours.
Sunday is the slave's own day on all well-regulated plantations, except so much of it as their owner may require of them for washing and mending clothes, sharpening and repairing tools, and other necessary preparations for plantation work of the ensuing week, which must not be interrupted by these incidental avocations. Whatever work of their own they have to do must be done on this day, for the six days' labor, from early dawn to the shutting down of night, is all claimed by their owner. The Lord's day is the slave's day, in which to labor and do all his own work, and some of his master's, while the six are consecrated days--consecrated exclusively to the service of his earthly owner. The Sabbath is the day for him to work for wages, cultivate his own patch, gather moss for the market, market his chickens and his little crop of vegetables, and fit up or repair the rude comforts of his own cabin. All this work of his own and his master's, crowded upon this single day, makes it a poor day of rest for the slave.
On another of Mr. L--'s well-managed plantations, where I was likewise employed as a mechanic, Mr. G-- was overseer, who had the reputation of being an excellent manager. Indeed, it was in all respects similar to the management of the overseer of the first named plantation, and between the two there was a constant strife to outdo each other at cropping. This spirit of emulation, I afterwards
found, was common to all the overseers in that region, which made them furious Jehus as slave-driving. This may be sport, or at least gain, to the competitors, but suffering sorrow to their panting human teams. Not that they are regardless of the life and health of their slaves. They are as careful to keep them in good condition as to get "the last lick" of work out of them, for one is subservient to the other. Their ambition is to secure the greatest possible amount of gain to their employers, and thus obtain for themselves good situations and large salaries; and, like the stock-growing farmer, they think as much of improving the value of the planter's human stock as of his crops. No pains are spared to make the negroes strong and healthy, and to rear a numerous and vigorous offspring. In the latter respect their care is often excessive--I mean excessively severe. Mr. G--, the overseer last named, told me that his rule was to give a slave mother one hundred lashes, if she lost her child; as if a mother's affection was not inducement enough to secure watchfulness and care on her part, and a mother's anguish at the death of her child not sufficiently intense, without the addition of this terrible scourging!
Mr. G--'s care of the health and condition of his negroes did not spare their hides, as their scarred backs gave unmistakable proof. I noticed on the plantation he managed, a large number of slaves who had been so cut up with the lash, that their backs were marked with scars and welts from their shoulders to their heels. I was surprised and shocked at the amount of whipping which I witnessed myself on this plantation. I rode out, one day, with the overseer, to their field of labor. They were cutting timber, and getting out rails. A number of them, whose movement did not please him, were ordered to shell off and come down, to have their activity quickened with the driver's excruciating lash.
One Sunday morning I witnessed a punishment of a very different kind. The vigilant overseer had, the night before,
caught a slave in the act of cooking a pig he had stolen. He was immediately taken to the stocks, and there fastened by the neck till the next morning. After breakfast, the overseer ordered his black driver to bring the culprit to his house, along with the pot of pig he had cooked.
"Shell off your clothes, sir, and sit down!"
The poor fellow trembled, and rolled his eyes in a wild manner, as if watching an opportunity to break away. But the presence of the driver, with his heavy loaded whip ready to knock him down if he made the attempt, precluded all hope of escape. The overseer taunted him, and bade him help himself to the contents of the pot as fast as possible. When he ceased, because he could eat no more, the raw hide was applied to his bare back, and the meat, grease and soup, were forced down him until his abused stomach disgorged its contents. This only aggravated his punishment, as he was compelled to swallow again what his stomach threw off, and this process of vomiting and swallowing it again was continued, alternated with scourging, until it seemed as if the poor fellow would die under the operation.
Another method of punishment for a like offence was adopted by Mr. M--, the overseer of Col. B--. The pig-stealer was compelled to wear a ham of fresh pork lashed to his shoulders like a knapsack, without any relief from the burden, night or day, until the flesh dropped from the bones. The sickening stench of the putrid meat, which the victim was compelled perpetually to inhale, and the annoyance of the swarms of flies which it attracted, in fly time, together with the long process of decomposition, rendered this the most intolerable punishment!
The overseer on another plantation boasted to his brother overseers, that he had compelled a slave to eat the whole of a duck which he had stolen, feathers, entrails, every thing but the wings, who applauded him for his skill in managing niggers. The same overseer drove a slave into the river, where he was drowned. He became notorious,
indeed, for his outrages upon the defenceless blacks. But he bore the character of "an excellent cropper," who could make a nigger travel about right. This alone was sufficient to cover a multitude of sins. Mammon is a cruel god when humanity crosses his path; it is then he becomes a Moloch.
Another of the legitimate effects of slavery was exhibited on Mr. L--'s third plantation, in which the overseer suspended a slave by his thumbs and great toes to the limb of a peach tree, and whipped him to death. To escape punishment, he crossed over into Mississippi, and remained there until the Grand Jury had finished their report of criminal cases for the next court. This case excited a great deal of sympathy in the neighborhood, not for the poor murdered slave, but for the murderer, because he was compelled by this unhappy occurrence to leave a good situation, while his employer kept back his wages to indemnify himself for the property he had thus lost.