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Thomas H. Jones to Daniel Foster, 15 July 1852

FROM C. Peter Ripley et al., eds., The Black Abolitionist Papers, vol. 2, Canada, 1830-1865 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 212-4. Reproduced by permission of the publisher.
This letter originally appeared in The Liberator, 13 August 1852.

Flights to freedom frequently separated fugitive slaves from their families. After reaching safety, many refugees went about the difficult task of freeing those left behind. Some fugitives returned south to spirit away their loved ones, thereby enlarging the mystique of the underground railroad. Others tried to purchase the freedom of their family members and sought the assistance of the abolitionist community with that process. Thomas H. Jones's 15 July 1852 letter informed Massachusetts abolitionist Daniel Foster, his friend and benefactor, about his efforts to purchase his son out of slavery. Jones had left Edward, his eldest son, behind when he escaped from slavery in North Carolina in 1849. During early 1852, Edward's owner informed Mary Jones, Thomas's wife, that the son could be purchased for $850 if the money could be raised quickly. Mary Jones immediately sought funds in the Boston area, while Thomas Jones solicited contributions in the Maritime Provinces. By the time that Jones wrote to Foster, they had collected $324. But subsequent contributions came in slowly. Thomas Jones considered a fund-raising tour of England that never materialized; he continued to collect donations in the Maritimes and New England through 1854, selling copies of his slave narrative, The Experience of Thomas Jones (1854), as part of the effort. Sources: Jones The Experience of Thomas Jones, 33-43 [8:0551-56]; Lib [The Liberator], 18 August 1854.

LIVERPOOL, N[ova] S[cotia]
July 15, 1852


When I call to mind, which is not unfrequent, your generosity and brotherly kindness to me, an unworthy creature, I am constrained by such recollections to address a few words to you, merely to inform you where I am, and how I came to be here. Last autumn, when I came to Halifax, I found that my health was not as good as usual; that I was much debilitated. After a little time spent in and about Halifax, I came to this place, where I have tarried almost ever since. I have visited several villages in this (Queen) county. At times, I have been quite indisposed; but now, thank God for it, I am enjoying tolerably good health. My wife and one child are here with me. She came here to visit me, because I could not or dare not go to her in Boston.

O, my worthy brother in the Lord, pardon my freedom! How hard is the lot of the man, whose misfortune it is to be born of my color—though the great Creator has thought proper that it should be so. I therefore will submit, for it is his righteous will. I dare not proceed further on such a subject, lest I am found to murmur.

My wife has received a letter from a lady in North Carolina, stating that she has my wife's son, and will sell him for $850, provided the money can be made up soon. She has been offered $1000 for him, but has been kind enough to make this offer to us.

I have succeeded, through my wife's exertions in and near Boston, and my own in this country, to realize $324.00 towards making up the sum. Sometimes I get quite discouraged, and again I rally and strive on. If I can but get him freed from bondage and slavery, I think I could endure any thing in the shape of hardships in this life, to the end of my earthly career. I intend to go to old England, and state his case there, before I will give up all hopes of such comfort as the redemption of our son from all human, or rather inhuman, bondage. When I look at the kind recommendations you were pleased to give me, together with others, I am thereby stimulated to persevere.

Pardon, dear Sir, my liberty in thus addressing you. May God Almighty bless you and yours, even in this present life, is the sincere prayer of Your unworthy brother in Christ,


P.S. Dear brother Foster, before I quite close up this letter, I want to make a few more remarks. I am now under the roof of an esteemed friend, at Mill Village, William H. Whitman, whose home has always been an asylum to the poor fugitive slave, who had recently escaped from the land of boasted liberty. He has, in these respects, obeyed the commands of the dear Redeemer. When I was a stranger, he took me in; if hungry, he fed me-thirsty, he gave me drink; and when weary and faint, I would find myself rested and refreshed at his residence. But, thank God, the best of all is, that so soon as a slave lands on British soil, his shackles fall off. Since I have been on British ground, I find more time to study, and to learn the evils of slavery, than I could ever find in all my life previous to my coming here. Now it seems to me I can see our noble friend, WM. LLOYD GARRISON, and his noble band, on the platform and in the pulpits, pleading for the poor oppressed and down-trodden slave. I see that the old missionary has visited the British Provinces, and wherever that missionary goes, converts are made. I mean the old Liberator, 21 Cornhill. I have received several copies from the Agent, Mr. Wallcut. (1) I have sent some to the West Indies, where converts have been made—thanks be to God for it! I hope, Sir, that there will not be a lady or a gentleman of color who may have the means, but will subscribe for that excellent paper; and if they do not want it themselves, let them send it across the water to British subjects. I have frequently lectured on slavery, and exhibited the handcuffs, collar, chain, cowhide, and the paddle, showing many friends in this country what constitutes the liberty of the United States of America. Yours, &c.,

T. H. J.

Scholarly and bibliographic notes from The Black Abolitionist Papers.

Some bibliographic citations reference the microform edition of the The Black Abolitionist Papers which was published by Microfilming Corporation of America. Square brackets contain the reel number, a colon, and then the frame number, of the microfilm edition where there citation can be found: [reel #: frame #]

1. Jones refers to Robert F. Walcutt (1797-1884), who was born on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard, where he was a member of the famous "abolition class" of 1817. Walcutt briefly served as pastor to a Cape Cod Unitarian congregation but was dismissed for his antislavery views. A lifelong friend and associate of William Lloyd Garrison, Walcutt joined the New England and American antislavery societies and adopted Garrison's nonresistance and anti-Sabbatarian views. From 1846 until 1865, Walcutt was the general agent for the Liberator, a position that made him one of antislavery's most important administrators. Wendell Phillips Garrison and Francis Jackson Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, 1805-1879: The Story of His Life, 4 vols. (New York:N.Y., 1885-89), 1:213, 2:209, 236-37, 422, 3: 221, 353, 481, 4: 58, 137, 306; Merrill and Ruchames, Letters of William Lloyd Garrison, 3:342-43, 516, 531-32, 598, 4:37, 64, 199, 206, 263, 275, 305, 433.

Titles by Thomas H. Jones