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(title page) Struggles for Freedom; or The Life of James Watkins, Formerly a Slave in Maryland, U. S.; in Which is Detailed a Graphic Account of His Extraordinary Escape from Slavery, Notices of the Fugitive Slave Law, the Sentiments of American Divines on the Subject of Slavery, etc., etc.
PRINTED FOR JAMES WATKINS.
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
"Worse than all, and most to be deplored --COWPER.
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
With stripes, that Mercy with a bleeding heart
Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast."
My Kind Readers,
Through the blessing of God, who has preserved me for so many years from the cruel and unrelenting persecutions of my oppressors, I now feel a great pleasure in presenting to the British nation the Nineteenth edition of my narrative, embodying as it does the stern realities and horrors of Slave Life in the Southern States of America. To thousands of warm-hearted Christian Friends, both in the Free States of America and in Great Britain, who have so kindly and generously assisted me since I set foot on freedom's ground, do I beg leave to tender my most warm-hearted thanks; and assure them that I will never relax my efforts in attempting to put down that accursed system of human suffering, degradation, and torture--slavery!
In revising the present edition for the press, I have taken all the pains my humble abilities will allow to make it as accurate as possible; but if any slight mistakes should still exist, I must humbly throw myself on the kind indulgence of my readers, who, I am sure, will excuse them, when they look back on my childhood and youth, and see how few have been my opportunities of acquiring education. Thanking again all those kind Christian friends who have so generously assisted and protected me,
I have the honour to subscribe myself,
Your obedient servant,
November 11th, 1850.
"The bearer of this letter, JAMES WATKINS, has been well known to me for the last five years. It gives me pleasure to state that during this period he has sustained an excellent character for sobriety, industry, and integrity. I recommend him as entirely worthy of confidence in the sphere of life in which it has pleased Providence to place him.
THOMAS CHURCH BROWNELL,Bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut."
"I am well acquainted with the individual named in the above recommendation of Bishop Brownell, and fully concur in all that he has said of his good character.
J. HAWES,Pastor of the first Congregational Church, Hartford."
"To Thomas Booth and James Henwood, Esqrs., Hull, England, and to all the
friends of freedom.
I have known the bearer, JAMES WATKINS, for some time, and take great pleasure in certifying that he has been a good citizen, and an acceptable member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in this city.
He has been compelled to flee from the United States, in consequence of a law lately passed by Congress; entitled the "Fugitive Slave Law," and take refuge in England, knowing that there, if nowhere else, he can be free. I commend him to the Christian kindness of the humane, and particularly to the confidence and sympathy of all who have adopted the name and doctrines of Wesley.
HENRY G. FOX,Pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Hartford, Connecticut, December 3rd, 1850.
"Hartford, Connecticut, December 3rd, 1850.
The bearer of this, Mr. JAMES WATKINS, is personally known to me as a young man of good character and unblemished reputation. Feeling somewhat insecure in his present residence, in consequence of the operation of the recent "Fugitive Slave Act" of Congress, he proposes to travel to parts where he may feel more at ease, and be less liable to unpleasant interruption. It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to commend him to the confidence and sympathies of the good, wherever, in the Providence of God, he may journey.
J. N. MURDOCK,Pastor of South Baptist Church, Hartford, Connecticut."
"St. John's Parish, Hartford, Connecticut, College Green,
November 14th, 1850.
JAMES WATKINS is a respectable coloured man, who has lived for several years among us in habits of industry, and moral rectitude, and who is very generally esteemed and loved by those who have known him in Hartford. He is a pious man, of the Methodist persuasion, but sometimes attends the services of the Church, to which he might belong, if we Churchmen had not sadly neglected his people. He is now forced, by no fault of his, to seek an asylum under the flag of England; and I commend him to the charities of Christians, and to the blessing of that God, to whom 'the pious commits himself, as the helper of the friendless.'
A. CLEVELAND COX, Rector."
"Hartford, December 16th, 1850.
"To the Hon. Benjamin Rotch, Counsellor, No. 1, New Furnival's Inn, Holborn, London.
DEAR SIR,--The bearer, JAMES WATKINS, is a negro man of highly respectable character and standing as a servant, and for the last five years has been a resident of this town. He has certificates of character from Bishop Brownell, and other clergymen.
This man has been advised to go to England for a few months, and in case he should be in London, I have ventured to recommend him to call on you for advice.
Any aid you may render him will be duly appreciated; and I pray you may receive a ten-fold greater reward for your kindness.
Your obedient Servant,
JOHN A. TAINTOR."
"Hartford, December 28th, 1850.
I have known the bearer of this for several years past, and have neither seen nor heard anything against his character as a man of integrity in every form. He is generally esteemed by all who know him, and will prove himself worthy, I have no doubt, of whatever confidence may be given him, or kindness shown him.
HORACE BUSHNELL,Congregational Pastor."
"Rev. William Chalmers, Minister of the Free Church of Scotland; Rev. Dr. Cox, Hackney, London; or other friends of freedom.
I have known JAMES WATKINS for some time, and can recommend him as a worthy and industrious man, and profoundly regret that anything in the laws of this country should subject him to the necessity of finding a home in another part of the world.
ROBERT TURNBULL,Pastor of the first Baptist Church, Hartford, Connecticut."
"6, Grinfield-street, Edge Hill, Liverpool,
April 21st, 1851.
John Cropper, Esq.
DEAR SIR,--Last Friday, while passing the street, I met with JAMES WATKINS, and hastened to fulfil my promise. He is the man I have long known in Hartford, and who answers the character I have before given of him. I have seen his letters, and from the long intercourse I have had with all the gentlemen, I am satisfied of their genuineness.
J. W. C. PENNINGTON, D.D.".
It is now about ten years since I set my foot on British ground, under that standard of liberty which has been long the glory of this great and happy nation.
Driven from my home, my wife, my children, and all I held dear to me upon earth, to a strange land, by that accursed law which passed the Congress of that liberty-boasting land (alas! where so little of it exists, or exists but partially), none can tell the deep feelings which stirred within my soul, and throbbed within my bosom, but those who have been in a position similar to my own.
It may be interesting to my numerous readers to know a little more of that law, called the "Fugitive Slave Law," by the operation of which I have been placed in my present circumstances; and not only I, but hundreds; for I can speak of Christian churches devastated, ministers scattered, homesteads broken up, hearts smitten with anguish, and of many who have been hidden with their sorrow in the grave; whose deep long loud wail of woe has pierced the heavens, and has entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth: whose sorrows, like Abel's blood, cry aloud for vengeance; and He who governs universal empire, He who smote the great Egyptian slaveholder of old, will ere long "avenge his elect, who cry day and night unto him mightily," for we know who hath said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."
By this law, called the Fugitive Slave Act, passed in Congress in the year 1850, all slaves who have escaped from bondage, and have taken refuge in the free states, are liable to be recaptured at any subsequent period, and dragged back again into slavery; and so cruel and relentless is it, that it makes punishable with fine and imprisonment any parties who may be convicted of giving even a cup of cold water to one of these sons of sorrow and wretchedness.
Take one or two quotations from the act itself, as given in the Eclectic Review for June, 1851.
"This act provides for the appointment by district judges of commissioners in each county of the several states, whose duty it shall be to issue process for the arrest of slaves, and of assistant commissioners, whose duty it shall be to arrest such slaves. The deputy marshall in each county is also authorised and required to serve such process; and any of the said commissioners or marshalls holding such process, may call to his aid every citizen of the county; and if such citizen shall refuse when called on, he will forfeit 500 dollars; and if the deputy marshall or commissioner shall fail to arrest such slave when he has power to do so, he shall forfeit one thousand dollars."
In the 6th section of the act are these words, "and by taking or causing such persons to be taken forthwith before such court, judge, or commissioners, whose duty it shall be to hear and determine the case in a summary manner."
This sixth section of the act, says the writer of the Review, is enough to condemn the whole act, and is a palpable violation of the 5th article of the constitution, which avows that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of the law." It is equally a violation of the constitution of each free state, which guarantees personal liberty to all, unless deprived of it by "due course of law," and maintains that the right of trial by jury shall be inviolate. The affidavit and bare testimony of the slaveholder are received as sufficient evidence, and the alleged fugitive is not allowed to procure and produce evidence to establish his freedom. At Detroit, a negro was brought before the commissioners as a fugitive slave from Tenessee; the counsel for the negro presented an affidavit duly sworn by the latter, that he was manumitted by deeds of the present claimants for 700 dollars, which the latter had received for the same, and that the deed was then in the hands of the negro's friends in Cincinnatti; on this affidavit, the counsel for the prisoner moved that the case be adjourned until the deeds of emancipation could be procured and used as evidence. The commissioner decided that the deed would be inadmissable if produced; that he had no power to enquire into any defence the negro might have against the claim, but only to determine whether the case presented on the part of the claimants was sufficient to entitle him to a certificate for the removal of the negro. The Buffalo Express comments with reason, "If this decision is sustained, no coloured man north can be safe for a single day."
The parts of the act most revolting to the feelings of the northern men, are the clauses which require all good citizens to aid and assist in the prompt and efficient execution of this law, whenever their services may be required, under heavy penalties; and those in section 7, by which it is enacted, that any person who shall in any way, directly or indirectly, aid the fugitive in his flight, shall incur a penalty of two hundred dollars, and suffer six months' imprisonment.
Such is the Fugitive Slave Law, which, not content with recapturing the poor fugitive, compels free citizens of the commonwealth to be petty informers, and to form a constabulary of slave hunters, contrary to their most sacred convictions, and contrary to the laws of Christ.
But that which appears to me to be the most astounding is, that ministers of religion, the preachers of that glorious gospel which proclaims liberty to the captive, and breathes goodwill to man, and unites and binds mankind in one great bond of brotherhood--that the exponents of this gospel should support and advocate this vile system. When I only think what slavery is, and what I have known of it in the painful experience of twenty years, I can truly say that I am not surprised that any right minded man should deprecate it in language the most strong and vehement: and now I cannot do better than give you the opinion of the Rev. Dr. Dixon on this question. He says, speaking of slavery as a system, "as to slavery
in its own nature, nothing can be said but that it is the grossest evil under the sun; it is, in truth, every possible wrong in one. Rob a man of his clothes, his watch, his purse, his house, his lands,--is not this a moral evil, a sin? If not, what of the laws of civilized communities, jails, and gallows? But is it not a greater evil to rob a man of himself, than to strip him of his coat, to pull down his house, and to drive him from his home? The degrees of evil in each case can bear no comparison. Slavery is robbery in its highest possible enormity. But it is a lingering injury, it is inflicted for life; a life of conscious wrong; for to imagine that these wretches are not sensible of their condition, is to add calumny to injury. It is a robbery, torture, degradation, misery mental and physical, dealt out by the moment, the live long day, the whole period of existence; it is as if by some infernal contrivance existence was sustained--as with the damned, while the operations of the whip, the iron, the fangs of slavery were constantly at work upon their tortured and lacerated limbs. To say that villany like this can in any way be identified with Christianity, is to degrade our holy religion to a co-partnership or a connivance with man's greatest, most concentrated, and unmitigated crimes against his fellows.
"There is not a truth, a doctrine, a principle, a precept, of the gospel which, if fairly carried out, would not annihilate slavery. The very existence of the church is fundamentally opposed to the spirit and injustice of this evil. How can a slaveholder make his servants his property, and then meet them as brethren at the table of the Lord?"
And yet this is the system, and this is the crime which has the patronage and support of the ministers of religion in the slaveholding states. I do not say of all, for there are, thanks be to God, some memorable exceptions. Permit me to give here a few of the sayings of some of the most eminent of these American divines in support of what I have affirmed: and here again I quote from the same article in the "Eclectic Review" for June, 1851; in reviewing the Anti-Slavery Reporter from January to April of that year.
The Rev. Dr. Gardner Spring, an eminent Presbyterian clergyman of New York, lately declared from the pulpit, that "If by one prayer he could liberate every slave in the world, he would not dare to offer it."
The Rev. Dr. Parker, of Philadelphia, affirms in a recent thanksgiving sermon, "That there are no evils in slavery, but such as are inseparable from any other relation in social life."
The Rev. W. Rogers, an orthodox minister of Boston, delivered on the last thanksgiving day a sermon, in which he says, "when the slave asks me to stand between him and his master, what does he ask? he asks me to murder a nation's life; and I will not do it, because I have a conscience, and because there is a God." He proceeds to affirm that if this resistance to the carrying of the "Fugitive Slave Law" should lead the magistracy to call the citizens to arms, their duty was to obey, and "if ordered to take away human life, in the name of God to take it."
The Rev. Orville Dewey, D.D., of the Unitarian connection, declares that for his part, he "would send his own brother or child into slavery, if needed to preserve the union between the free and slaveholding States."
It must not be supposed that the ministers of America are all chargeable with these opinions; there are noble exceptions, and they are becoming daily more numerous. Large numbers of them feel deeply the dishonour done to their country and their religion by the perpetuation of this atrocious system, and are labouring with national energy to bring it to a speedy termination: may God speed the work.
While politicians void of shame,
Cry this is law and liberty,
The clergy lend the awful name
And sanction of the Deity,
Help to sustain the monstrous wrong,
And crush the weak beneath the strong.
The Heathen, Atheist, Turk, and Jew,
May well reject with loathing scorn
The doctrines taught by those who sell
Their brethren in the Saviour born;
And with the price of Christian blood
Build temples to the Christian's God.
Lord, thou hast said the tyrant's ear
Shall not be always closed to thee,
But that thou wilt in wrath appear,
And set the trembling captive free.
I was born on Mr. Abraham Ensor's plantation, about six miles from Cuckerville, Baltimore Co., Maryland. I do not know the date of my birth--slaves know little of dates--but, from what I have been able to gather, I think it was about the year 1823. I remained upon the same estate till I attempted my first escape, about the year 1840. The overseer's name was Amos Salisbury; he was a clever, shrewd man. My mother's name was Milcah Berry. I was called Sam Berry, after my mother, but more commonly "Ensor Sam." When about two years of age, I was removed from my mother, and then nursed, along with eighty or ninety others, by an old female slave, called by us Aunt Comfort, who was appointed to watch over us like a sort of matron. She had four or five other old women to assist her, but they were much too old to have the power to assist much either her or us. I lived under the superintendence of this old woman about four years. During that time we were kept up like so many sheep in a fold, blacks and whites, boys and girls, all rolling in the dirt together like so many pigs, and indeed little better cared for. Our food was composed of bonny-clabba, buttermilk, and milk in mush made from Indian corn into a thick porridge; when ready it was poured into a trough, from which we all had to eat, diving in our heads and hands to assist ourselves as well as we could, and feeding ourselves like pigs; for we had no knives or forks, spoons, dishes, plates, chairs, or tables. We were not thought any better than pigs, and therefore no better, if as well, treated. Our only meat was what we called blind robins (red herrings), and these we had served out to us three times a day. At Christmas, and on the great 4th of July, we slaves, who have not sense to know anything, always expected a treat, and
we often got wheaten bread, fresh meat, apple dumplings, apple pie, apple jack, and haigh-nog, and when any of our owners died we had generally something similar.
Our masters sometimes brought ladies and gentlemen to look at us, but when we saw them coming towards us we ran to our cribs, fearing lest they should be coming to buy some of us; but we were called back, and had then to amuse them by performing various antics. We had to run on our hands and knees like dogs, and jump over each other like horses, to stand on our heads, to butt one another with our heads like sheep, and to dance and sign, some knocking old tin pans together, others jingling bones, and others beating juba, the forestep, the backstep, the middle step, the juba singing--
"I went down the sandy point,
And I bought half a yard of waste,
And I wrapped it round the lady's waist,
And I asked her how the juba taste.
And juba this, and juba that,
And juba killed the white-haired cat."
At this, our degradation and misery, the so-called ladies and gentlemen would join in a hearty laugh, and go away well satisfied with their amusement. I remained with this old woman until I was about five or six years old.
I was soon thought to be of some use to my owner, and was sent to attend the cows, and keep them off the corn, there being no hedges there. I continued at this sort of employment for some time; I afterwards was sent to the plantation, where my work was picking stones, clearing the soil, assisting in sheep-shearing, washing the wool, and making myself generally useful. I was employed in the general work of the farm, lodged with the other slaves, clothed in rags, sleeping sometimes under a tree, and sometimes in the lodging provided for us, a kind of shed, where male and female slaves were huddled together for the night, without any kind of bed but a sort of sloping platform, inclining towards the fire. Early in the morning we were called, and provided with a breakfast of corn bread, and occasionally we had some whisky with it.
Being a fine, sharp boy, I was taken from field labour, and made errand boy, or "body slave," in the house, and afterward promoted to the office of ladies maid. My duty was to wait upon them, and travel with them, to fan them, hand them in and out of their carriages, and do all such like services. During that time I was as well fed as the young ladies themselves, had good meat, and delicacies just the same, was dressed well, and very well treated. Some people will say, "Now, why did you leave such a good place as the one you then held?"--because I groaned under the oppression of slavery; I knew not what a day might bring forth, for I was liable to be sold at any moment, and I believed myself to be born as free as the persons who kept me as their slave. I therefore sighed under the oppressive yoke, and prayed for deliverance from my captivity.
The slave is trained to answer his master, to suit his purposes. A gentleman is brought by the master to see the slaves: he says "Good morning," but the poor wretches dare not hold up their heads and answer, like other men, knowing that he would break out, "You villainous rascals, how dare you hold up your black skulls in that way before a gentleman?" they, therefore, place one hand on their forehead, and, making a very low bow, reply, "Good morning, sir-r-r," like men deprived of their rights. The gentleman asks, "Would you like to be free?" "No, sir-r-r," is the answer. He asks you, "Does your master ever flog you?" "Yes, sir-r-r, when I deserve it," is the reply. But is this the truth? No. They dare not answer any other way, as they know that if they did, as soon as ever the gentleman was gone, they would be unmercifully flogged for daring to tell the truth.
To show that the slave is not totally devoid of understanding, and that, at times, he is even keener sighted than his betters, I will give an illustration, which took place whilst I was occupied as lady's maid, or body servant:--"Samuel." "Yes, mem." "Go to Mrs. I. T. H. Wetherton's, the Rev. Mr. Best's, the Rev. Mr. Gossage's, and Mrs. Merryman's; give my compliments to them, and say that I shall be happy to see them to tea next Thursday week." Samuel goes, delivers his message, comes back again, and waits at the door. "Hem, hem." "Come in, Samuel." He bows and enters. "Well, have you delivered my message?" "Yes, mem." "Are they all coming?" "Yes, mem."
Then she goes on, "Oh dear! I wish these Wethertons, Bests, Gossages, and Merrymans would stay at home, and not come troubling me with their company so much," and so forth. But the day comes, and the company also: Samuel sees some of them approaching, and runs to apprize his mistress, and she wishes again that they would stay at home, and mind their own business. The company alight, and are shown into a large room. Soon after, the lady enters the room, and there is such a greeting as if they were the most cordial friends in the world. "My dear Mrs. Wetherton, I am so delighted to see you;" then there is a kiss, and a fond embrace, and so on with all the others. When the slaves are gathered together in one corner, talking over the events of the day, they exclaim to one another, in their own language, "High golly, our masters ask these people to come, and then they don't want to see them; but when they get together how they kiss one another; how awful!" And if the slave, low and ignorant as his race is said to be, can thus perceive the inconsistency of these so called free people, what must be the impression made upon the mind of the slave at such conduct, and what must be the feeling of the great God above towards those who violate His great commandment, "Love thy neighbour as thyself"?
Early in my life my master died, and many of the slaves were driven to the market, but I was kept on the estate, being valued at 900 dollars. About this time a wager was made that I could fetch a bucket of water from a spring in a given time; it appeared they had a good opinion of my activity and ability to perform this task, but I had not sufficient time allowed me to do it in. I did all I could to accomplish it, knowing that I should be punished if my oppressor lost his wager, but I failed; he was greatly enraged, and getting a switch from the hedge, laid it on my bare back till the blood ran down to my heels, and for this slight offence almost took my life--at least I thought so. About a year after my whipping, my father, who was then, I think, about forty years of age, came into the field in harvest time, and thinking the slaves had not worked hard enough, called for a "cradle"--a thing used for cutting wheat--and took the lead; the slaves kept so well up with him that they almost got ahead of him; but he was determined not to be beaten, so he kept going on at a furious rate until he was quite exhausted. He was almost immediately taken ill, from over exertion, and died about four o'clock the next day. I believe this was in the year 1836.
I have mentioned the death of my old master, Mr. Abraham Ensor, who lived to near eighty years of age. His son, Mr. Luke Ensor, succeeded to the estate, and not only took me at a valuation, but
also my mother, with the rest of the children; a circumstance which pleased us much, as we dreaded being separated; for we poor slaves, with all our degradations, have strong natural affections. Our new master was what is called a moderate one, though at times violent in his temper, and tyrannical in his conduct, but not more so than his abominable slave-holding propensities would make him; he gave us plenty of work, and did not overfeed us, our food being Indian corn, red herrings, cabbage, and always something very cheap; you may be sure when we could catch anything better we were no way particular about taking it. I remember on one occasion we found about a dozen eggs, and were resolved to have a feast; so we took them to our quarters, and placed them in the ashes to roast. Whilst they were cooking, Mr. Ensor came to inquire about some business; being Sabbath day we were dreadfully afraid, thinking he had come to look after the eggs, and were all but scared to death lest he should discover them in our possession, when lo! as he stood at the door, a tremendous explosion took place among the ashes. Mr. Ensor had stayed so long that some of the eggs had got overdone, and exploded with a frightful noise, scattering the ashes in all directions, even to the door where Mr. Ensor stood. He immediately enquired what was the matter. We all declared we did not know, but our answer did not satisfy him, so he came forward, and with his cane began poking in the ashes, where he found some which had not broken. He demanded who brought them there, and I, along with three others, were obliged to confess. We all got a severe caning on the spot, with a promise that for the next offence we should be tied up and bled!
A circumstance, which proves the violence of Mr. Ensor's temper, occurs to me. I was sent out to harrow in a large field of corn, and had got pretty well on with my work, when my master rode up on horseback, and, unfortunately for me, in that state sometimes called "three sheets in the wind." He called me to him, and complained that my work was badly done. I durst not answer, so he followed up his complaint by laying his cane about my head and shoulders; he then took the butt end of his whip and struck me some violent blows on my forehead, which felled me to the ground, bleeding most dreadfully. I was in an unconscious state for some time; my master got alarmed, and thought he had killed me. Having dismounted from his horse, and called some slaves, he bade them remove me under the shade of a large tree; he then commanded them to rub me, in order to bring me round again. I was then carried to the kitchen at the "big house," where I was taken care of by Mrs. Ensor, who quite believed her husband had beaten the senses out of me, and scolded him severely for having done
so. I remained in this state for some time, and, though badly hurt, was not so bad as I pretended, for I wished him to think that my senses were gone, in order to get a little sympathy from him and others--an ingredient which poor slaves do not often meet with. Though still keeping up the deception, I was employed in shelling corn, Mrs. Ensor frequently blaming my master for having "driven poor Sam crazy." However, he came into the kitchen one day, evidently to try me, and called out "Sam, Sam, come here and saddle and bridle my horse." I looked up at him very stupidly, and followed him very slowly to the stable. I then took down the bridle, and moving gently to the horse's tail, began to lift up the bridle in that direction, when he cried out, "You black ghost, don't you know the horse's head from its tail?" and taking it from me, put it on himself, and rode off. I returned to the kitchen, where Mrs. Ensor continued her care of me, giving me calomel and jalap, until I was completely tired out, and resumed my occupation again. This affair had a very salutary effect on Mr. Ensor, who never ventured to beat his slaves on their heads again.
The above-named incidents serve to show the degrading character of slavery, and its pernicious effects on the moral as well as the physical condition of both victim and victimisers.
I still continued Mr. Ensor's slave, and got on for a length of time as comfortably as most do in my situation; but, from the frequent whippings and ill-treatment which I received, as well as witnessed, I began to feel a longing desire for freedom. I felt as though I had been unfortunate in being born black, and wished that I could by any means change my skin into a white one, feeling certain that I should then be free. Seeing my poor mother frequently shedding tears, I used anxiously to press her to tell me why she did so, and would often say, "Mother, why do you weep?" "Oh!" she would say, "I am sick at heart to think that I am a poor wretched slave for life, and you and your brothers and sisters are in the same condition." I, of course, sympathised very deeply with my poor mother, particularly as at this time two brothers and a sister of mine were sold by Mr. Ensor; also a cousin, a girl nearly white, and a daughter of my Aunt Comfort. This was a sore trial to my poor mother and aunt, and I thought they would never see through their grief at parting with their children, which proved to be for ever, as they never saw them again. I shall never forget going down to Baltimore to take a last farewell of my relatives. I had to intercede with Mr. Ensor for a length of time before he would consent to let me go on such an errand. At last, after ridiculing the idea of black people having any feelings, he consented,
and to Baltimore I went, along with my poor mother. We found our relatives in a large prison, in Pratt-street, together with eight or nine hundred other slaves, who belonged to two slave dealers, named Slater and Woodfork, who had bought them for the southern market; and although they do all they can to keep up the spirits of the poor wretches, by supplying them with plenty of whisky, and amusements of various kinds, yet the grief and anguish that prevailed amongst them were beyond description. My mother and I were only allowed about half an hour to take leave of those whom we were about to lose for ever. I shall never forget the parting as long as I live; I really thought it would have killed my mother, and have no doubt that her health and spirits then received a very severe shock.
These separations made me sigh for freedom with an intensity of feeling such as I had hitherto been a stranger to, and I resolved on making an attempt to escape the very first opportunity that should present itself. I set about obtaining every information in my power on the subject, and for that purpose frequently made stolen visits to some limekilns, about two or three miles from our quarters, ostensibly to give the men a hand at their work, but really to hear something about freedom, and--don't laugh--to help the poor fellows to eat their supper, my visits being always paid in the evening, where I frequently remained till three o'clock in the morning. I often met persons there who would say something sympathising to me on my cruel bondage; I well remember meeting with two Irishmen at this place, who listened to my tale of woe with manifest feelings of interest; they told me there was a country where I should be free if I could get there; but I could not conceive where this country could be, or how I was to get to it, nor, in fact, how I was to keep myself anywhere, for Mr. Ensor had always tried to make us believe that we could not take care of ourselves if we had the liberty, so that my poor mind was in such a dark state that I was far off being in a condition to seek for freedom in right good earnest.
Oh! when I heard of this sweet land,
Where Freedom bravely thrives,
And sure protection guards each class,
And treasures human lives,
Oh! then like flashing lightning, quick
Came HOPE unto my mind;
Why should not I, like others, strive
That blessed land to find?
About the year 1840 Maryland was visited by the cholera, which swept off great numbers of the slaves, not omitting white people in its ravages. I began to be much alarmed for my own safety, and (ignorant as I was) felt that if I were cut off in my sins, I should be eternally lost. I cried to the Lord earnestly for preservation, and besought pardon for my transgressions. I continued in this state of mind for some time, praying to the Lord daily and hourly, that he would sustain and strengthen me. I had chosen a large tree for my place of prayer, under whose spreading branches I often poured forth my soul in supplication. During this time there was a great Camp Meeting held by the Methodists. These Camp Meetings were of a most interesting character. At certain seasons of the year thousands of persons flock to some vicinity previously arranged, cities, towns, and villages, all sending their quota; tents are erected in a kind of circle, a sort of raised platform in the centre accommodates the preachers, who sometimes number twenty or upwards. Posts are driven into the ground, round which candles are placed, to give light when needed; and for six or eight days and nights prayer and praise re-echo through the woods and groves, forming altogether a scene of the grandest description. To return: this camp meeting was about four miles from our quarters. I longed to attend it; but although Mr. Ensor had given permission to some of the slaves to go, he would on no account consent in my case. However, I was determined to risk it, and resolved that when the master had retired for the night, I would start. About ten o'clock I set off, and on arriving at the place, found a very large company, the whites in front of the minister, and the coloured people behind them, it being well known that even at a camp meeting they were not permitted to mix together. The Rev. Mr. Collins was, at the time, preaching in a very powerful manner. Whilst listening to him, I felt as though my heart would burst. He spoke of one Jesus, who had told the blind man to go to the pool and wash, and he received his sight. Oh! I thought, could I but find this Jesus! how I long to know him! He further stated, that "if the Son had made us free, then we should be free indeed;" then I thought if I could but find out this great man I should be free from slavery as well as from sin. He also said many other things which wrought upon my
feelings very powerfully, so much so that I burst into a flood of tears, still feeling ignorant of what I should do to be saved. I left the ground, and proceeded to some considerable distance, where, kneeling down at the foot of a very large tree, I poured out my soul to the Almighty, in my weak and ignorant way, beseeching Him earnestly to pardon my sins. I remained there wrestling with God for the space of three or four hours, when, blessed for ever be His adorable Name, my prayers were answered in a very unmistakable manner. My heart was so filled with the love of God that the fear of the whip, or even of death, was entirely taken away from me. In this state I went home rejoicing. It was now near eleven o'clock in the forenoon. I could have said with the poet--
With Thee conversing, I forget
All time, and toil, and care;
Labour is rest, and pain is sweet,
If Thou, my God, art here.
I met Mr. Ensor some distance from our quarters; he was on the look out for me. He accosted me with, "you infernal black ghost, where have you been?" I said I had been to the camp meeting, and told him what the Lord had done for my soul. "You infernal black ghost, you have got no soul. I'll teach you to go to the camp meeting without my leave," and he ordered me off to the whipping post. I immediately went into the barn, and falling on my knees, prayed earnestly for myself and master. While there he came in with one of his sons, and ordered me to strip. This I immediately did, then looking earnestly at him, I told him my soul was happy, and although he might punish my body, he could not harm my soul. I further reminded him that every stripe he laid on my back would be registered in heaven, and rise up against him at the day of judgment. However he fastened me up, and tying my hands to the beam over my head, left me. I had continued my pleadings with him till he trembled from head to foot like an aspen leaf. I firmly believe the Lord stood by me on this occasion and paralysed the arm of my master, for he seemed utterly unable to lift the lash or give me a single blow. After staying in the house for about half an hour, he and his son returned and released me, but on loosing the cords from my wrists, my arms fell down by my sides useless. Contrary to anything I ever saw done on such occasions, they each took one of my hands and arms, and commenced rubbing them, in order to restore circulation; they then told me to go to my work, and be more obedient for the future. How applicable are the words of scripture--"The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." The addresses the preachers opened up in my soul a new world, I learned
to believe in and rely faithfully on Jesus. Gradually as the truths of Christianity broke in upon my mind, I felt a new man, and I yearned for freedom with the most intense anxiety. The truths of the gospel filled my heart with excess of joy; I became conscious of the sins I had been guilty of, and in the joy which overspread my soul I became filled with the love of Jesus. Teach the slave the gospel, and you will make him free. Teach him that there is a God that loves him, that cares for him, that died for him to cleanse him from earthly sin, and all the task masters and slave owners in the Land of Stripes, or in any other part of the world, wherever it may be, cannot retain that infamous power which the present system grants them--property in man. Christianity is life, and light, and freedom, instil this into the slave, and you burst his bonds asunder for ever.
And now, behold me growing up to be a man! strong, active, energetic, but not owned by myself! the chattel of a man like myself, who dared, in the sight of High Heaven, to deprive me of my birthright--the right to act, and think, and speak--behold me! body, soul, and spirit, valued at 900 dollars, and a slave!--But to my narrative.
My master seemed to gain confidence in me, and being as he called "a fine young man," and a "valuable slave," he made me into his market-man, and frequently sent me to Baltimore market, with a wagon and two horses, laden with the produce of the plantation. The distance was about 20 or 30 miles, which took us a long day to travel. We generally arrived there in the evening, and put up at the Bull's Head, kept by Mr. George Manley. When we got there in good time, we had an hour or two to spare, previous to going to bed. This time was generally spent in visiting friends with whom we had become acquainted in the course of our business transactions. One of these friends was a free coloured woman, named Elizabeth Simmerwell, to whom I had become warmly attached, having a strong desire to make her my wife. After some time I resolved to ask Mr. Ensor's permission, which I was bound to do before I could take any further steps in this important business. My courage failed me, I was so afraid to name the matter to him; however, I took the first opportunity to consult Mrs. Ensor. The first question she asked me was, "who is this woman; is she free
or a slave?" On being told that she was free she said, "you cannot have her; master will never consent for you to marry a free woman; but I will name it to him." She then stated that there were several slave women from among whom I might choose one that suited me, such as Suke, Nancy, or Fan; these had good masters to take care of them." Mrs. Ensor seemed quite willing, and indeed anxious, that I should take one of those for my partner,--for, as slaves, we were not allowed to be married. Now Mrs. Ensor firmly believed that my so doing would have settled me for life, but such was not to be the case, as the sequel of the narrative will clearly prove.
Mr. Ensor accosted me the day following in the field, where he came rubbing his spectacles, and appeared as though he hardly knew how to make a beginning; but at last he called out, "Sam, I want you here. What was that you were saying to your mistress yesterday?" "Nothing sir," I replied. "You black rascal, do you mean to tell me lies?" "No, sir, I said nothing;" but immediately recollecting myself, I said, "Oh, yes, I told her that I wanted to get married." He then made similar inquiries to what Mrs. Ensor had made the day before; he also asked many foolish questions, such as did I really love the girl, and how I met with her, to which I gave very simple answers, such as I suppose he would laugh heartily at when he saw the mistress again; our interview closed with his saying, "Now mind, you cannot have this free woman, but you may have any slave who has got a good master to take care of her; let me hear no more about this free negro woman; if you do, I will hoist you up." Mr. Ensor had a particular objection to any of his property being connected with free persons. He knew that the offspring of a free mother could not be his chattels. I was far from being obedient to his tyrannical commands, as may naturally be supposed; and I managed to continue my visits to Potter-street from time to time, the laws of Baltimore being very inconvenient, however, as they prohibit coloured people of all grades from appearing in the streets after nine o'clock in the evening, under any pretence whatever! On the occasion of one of these stolen visits, I was accompanied by an acquaintance, also a coloured man. There being several of both sexes present, and the company agreeable, the time flew swiftly away, the poor girls meanwhile reminding us that if we staid much longer we should get into the Calaboose. We, nevertheless, staid till the clock struck eleven; for what man will not risk much for the society of a virtuous woman? Our anxiety now was to get to our quarters without being discovered; but, darting down a dark street for that purpose, we had not gone many yards before a policeman collared me, and, springing
his rattle, demanded to know whose slave I was. I hesitated for some time, but was at length compelled to say I was Mr. Ensor's, fearing I should be sold to pay expenses, which is commonly the case if the owner be not forthcoming. My companion and I were safely lodged in the Calaboose in Front-street, where we had to be on the cold ground till five o'clock in the morning, when each captive was aroused, and our names called over in rotation. Presently I heard my friend give a dreadful scream, which made the prison ring again. This alarmed me terribly, knowing that my turn came next, which was the case; for being called, I was told to strip off my clothes, and was then placed in a wooden frame, with my head down, and the other part of my body up, having no power to change my position. The gaoler, a white man, then got a long paddle that was perforated with a number of holes, about a quarter of an inch in diameter, and laid it on the fleshy part of my body with great violence, which almost deprived me of my senses. The flesh rose up into the holes of the paddle, leaving hard lumps which the next stroke burst. These blows were repeated six times, and the torture was such as I never experienced either before or since. I was then turned out into the street, with a dozen others, who had been degraded and punished in this abominable manner, for no crime but the breaking of a law which is a disgrace to humanity, and especially disgraceful to the boasted "Land of Liberty."
I now walked up to see my horses, and get the load of produce into the market, where I had to remain, in this wretched condition, till all was disposed of. I arrived home in due time, and did not intend mentioning my adventure to my master, but in this I was disappointed, for the papers had given an account of each of us, together with the expense incurred by each of our masters on our account. This enraged Mr. Ensor considerably, who said I deserved all I got, and comforting me with a slight caning, drove me off to my work.
My master was a pious man, and professor of religion, and he would call all his slaves together for exhortation, & c. When we were assembled before the hall, or, as we call it in America, the big house, under a palm tree, our master would come and place himself in his stately chair, and we slaves, four or five hundred of us, being seated on the ground, he would commence with an exhortation, thus:--"How happy you negroes ought to be that you have such a kind and benevolent master, to read the word of God to you, and to instil the principles of Christianity into you, and to teach you the right way." This short exhortation would fall from his lips as seasoned as if he were really in earnest for our spiritual well-being; but how can a man who thus holds so many of his fellows in bondage, consistently teach them the glorious
principles of Christianity? he cannot, surely. I think if John Wesley were upon this our earth in these days, he would disdain to own these men as brethren, or to acknowledge them as co-workers with him, and the society which originated in his name, would I think, be freed from these wolves in sheep's clothing,--this generation of vipers. But to return, after the exhortation, he would take the word of God, as he called it, and thus read:--"God has given you negroes black hides, knowing you are to toil in the sun for your lordly white masters; and He also has given you woolly hair, like wool on the sheeps' backs, knowing that you are not to wear any hats, and so that the sun cannot burn your brains out. He has given you big mouths, flat noses, and thick lips, knowing that you are not to use any knives or forks, but to cram your victuals into your mouths; you must not murmur, you must not grumble, or steal, or deceive your white masters, for we masters will find it out, because we can read and write, and we can read it in your countenance if you deceive us. You that know your master's will, and do not do it, the cow-hide is made for your backs."
I would call the attention of the Christian world to the fact that thousands are compelled to work by their unmerciful slaveholders on the Sabbath Day. Some of the slave owners give to their slaves patches of ground, on which to cultivate their own cotton, potatoes, rice, & c., for their own use; this they have to work at on the Sabbath Day, having seldom any other time allowed them to do so. Who is answerable for this great sin of breaking the Sabbath? Is it the poor oppressed slave, who is under the beck and nod of his task master? or is it chargeable to those who know the commandment which says, "Remember the Sabbath Day; to keep it holy: six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work: but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates," & c. Many of the more moral, and so-called Christian, slaveholders, will not allow any work on their estates on that day, except domestic duties. There are five ministers of the gospel who own, in Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, about 3,000 slaves or upwards. Some of these are mechanics, some sempstresses, many of whom are known to work on the Sabbath Day; and these Christian ministers state in public that it would not do to give them the Bible, or to establish Sunday schools; it would unfit them for their duties, they would be impudent and above their business; the only way to keep the men, women, and children happy and obedient, is to keep them in ignorance; then they make
good slaves, and obey their masters and mistresses. The Hon. Bishop Meads, clergyman, of Virginia, Rev. Bishop Soule, Wesleyan Episcopal, Rev. Mr. Best, Presiding Elder, Rev. Mr. Rogers, Congregationalist, of North Carolina, and the Rev. Eli Scott, of the Baptist Church; these represent various denominations of Christians, and they are all slave holders. I feel proud to say that when the Wesleyan Conference was held in Liverpool recently, one of this class of men,--a slave-holding minister from the south,--sought admittance, they put the question, "was he a slaveholder?" and being informed he was, they rose up, and with the President, the Rev. F. A. West, at their head, that noble band of ministers declared they could not admit him while he held his fellow-men in bondage. This was carrying out the noble principles of the venerable Wesley, who said in his day "That slavery was the sum of all villany."
I now began to think seriously of making my escape from slavery, and told my mother of my intention, which grieved her very much. She did all she could to dissuade me from it. Poor soul! she told me that she had been a slave all her life, that all my brothers and sisters were slaves, that I had better be satisfied and remain with them; besides she would say, "You will surely be retaken." Poor woman! she could not bear the thonght of parting with me; however, I resolved to try. This conversation took place on a Friday night, I think in May, 1840.
On the night following I made a start direct north, taking the north star for my guide, having been told that Canada lay in that direction. I travelled through woods and swamps, being afraid to take the high road, even during the night. I had made a little provision for my journey in the shape of corn bread, sufficient to last me probably for three days; fearing to take what would make too large a bundle, which would be sure to create suspicion if met by any on the road. In addition I was armed with a walking stick and an old dirk; though I felt in no humour for fighting, being alarmed at the slightest noise I heard. The first night I walked about fifteen miles, and lay up for the day on John Merryman's, Pine-hill; this was on a Sunday. In the evening I proceeded on my journey, and had, on the third, taken up my lodgings at Deer Creek, in the woods, when I was overtaken by John Nelson and Bill Foster, two negro-catchers, who resided a few miles from Mr. Ensor. These men had a number of bloodhounds with them, which soon scented me out,
I got upon my feet, and had a most desperate struggle with them, but they succeeded in tearing my clothes to rags. They endeavoured to seize me by the throat, and bit me severely on the breast, the marks of which are plainly visible to this day. The fellows now came up, and made them loose their hold, at the same time exultingly shouting, "Well, Ensor Sam, we've got you at last!" They then handcuffed me, and dragging me along some distance, mounted their horses, while I trudged along on foot, weak, wretched, and miserable, for two whole days. When we arrived at Mr. Ensor's, the whole family turned out to upbraid me for my ingratitude, reminding me of Mr. Ensor's great kindness in having paid 950 dollars for me, rather than send me to Georgia, which would have been my fate had he not purchased me with the estate; but upbraidings were not all. I must be severely punished; and Eli Stephenson, the overseer, got orders to give me a severe lashing upon my bare back, the effects of which I feel to this day. In addition to this a yoke was made for me to wear on my head. This was a band of iron, to which was affixed two upright pieces, hooked to the top, from which were suspended two bells, the whole fitting closely to my head; and this disgraceful badge I wore day and night for three months. So much again for slave-holding tyranny.
My spirits this time seemed so broken and subdued, that life appeared not worth the having. My master often tauntingly asked me how I liked the "yoke;" and, while pretending to pity me, always threatened that if I attempted to escape again, I should wear it for life. About this time two gentlemen came on a visit to Mr. Ensor, and frequently asked me if I would like to be free, and go with them to the north; but my constant answer was, "No, I would rather stop with my master, and be a slave." I durst not trust them--I had no confidence in them--slavery destroys confidence between man and man. I was conscious that I was uttering falsehoods, and doing what I ought not to do. And, let me ask my kind readers, who is the party answerable at the judgment seat of God for such wickedness; is it myself or my cruel persecutors? Oh! I could have told them of big thoughts swelling in my bosom--thoughts of Liberty, Liberty. I felt that slavery was a burden too heavy to be borne. My poor degraded fellow slaves laughed at my sorrows, and exultingly exhibited their freedom in contrast to my disgrace. The neighbouring planters forbade me to associate with their slaves, lest I should contaminate them. I was shunned and dreaded in the neighbourhood, and treated as an outcast by all around. However, time works wonders, and so it did for me. I began to feel I was again regaining the confidence of
those around. I became much attached to a number of slaves on the late Mr. Gorsuch's plantation, which joined Mr. Ensor's, and often went to their quarters in the evening, and remained with them till morning. This came to Mr. Gorsuch's ears, who watched his opportunity for forbidding it. One summer's evening I paid one of my usual visits, and as at that time of the year the slaves slept in the hayloft, over the horses, of course I did the same. We were all fast asleep, when about three o'clock in the morning we were all startled by Mr. Gorsuch's voice calling the slaves' names over; he then inquired if there were any stray niggers there. Some said "No;" while others said there was a "darkey" there,--meaning a stranger. He soon found me out, and with a thick stick laid on me most unmercifully. I jumped from the loft into the stable, he after me in quick pursuit; I then attempted to scale a boarded fence, but it was too high for me; so I pushed my head through an opening in the fencing, hoping to drag my body after, but whilst struggling there, neither able to get backward nor forward, Mr. Gorsuch came up and renewed the attack in the most savage manner. At last the boards gave way. I took to my heels; but my unmerciful punisher was not satisfied. He followed me home, related the affair to Mr. Ensor, who encouraged him to give me a second beating before his face, which he did, leaving me in such a state that after a week I had not recovered from the effects of his brutality.*
* This is the same Mr. Gorsuch who was shot in September, 1851, at Christiana, in Pennsylvania, whilst attempting to re-capture four of his own slaves. He was considered one of the best slaveholders in Maryland, and was esteemed a very pious man amongst the Methodists, being a class leader and a local preacher. This may appear strange to English professors, but it is a lamentable fact that amongst the various religious denominations in America, numbers of those who publicly profess to be the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus are traffickers in human flesh. The Society of Friends form an honorable exception to this disgrace.
* This is the same Mr. Gorsuch who was shot in September, 1851, at Christiana, in Pennsylvania, whilst attempting to re-capture four of his own slaves. He was considered one of the best slaveholders in Maryland, and was esteemed a very pious man amongst the Methodists, being a class leader and a local preacher. This may appear strange to English professors, but it is a lamentable fact that amongst the various religious denominations in America, numbers of those who publicly profess to be the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus are traffickers in human flesh. The Society of Friends form an honorable exception to this disgrace.
Hark! the bloodhound's fearful bay,
Whilst cruel hunters thread their way;
Up! Fugitive, and bravely speed,
For dangers thicken fast indeed:
Away from scenes where grief enthrals,
For Freedom! heavenly Freedom, calls.
I was now very diligent at my occupation, and was what Mr. Ensor would call a "good slave," yet I never gave up the idea of
one day trying to obtain my freedom. The notion considerably increased with me after my conversion: nor can I think that four millions of slaves could be kept in bondage if they had the same advantage of education and religion as the white people of America have. Their cruel task-masters feel this, and "ignorance"--"ignorance" is their stronghold.
I had been planning my escape for some time, having saved a little money by making mats, brooms, and baskets, which I managed to dispose of. I had also secured to myself some provisions, and in May, 1844, resolved to make a start. I had fixed on Saturday night as the best time, and having equipped myself with a walking stick, set out for my mother's hut, which was about three miles distant. I found her up, and told her my intention: she entreated me, with tears in her eyes, to remain in slavery, as it would break her heart to part with me. I told her I could endure it no longer, and left her, but she kept following me, weeping and pleading. I at length bade her farewell, and tore myself from her, though with a bleeding heart. It was a hard trial to leave my poor mother. One instance will suffice to show why I was more determined than ever to effect my escape,--it was this:--My mother, for a petty offence, was taken and unfeelingly flogged. The work she had done did not satisfy the overseer, and when he complained, she innocently replied that she was unable then to do as much as she could have done thirty years before. For that reply he ordered her to be tied to a post and flogged; and I was an eye-witness to this scene of misery and brutality; and on many other occasions I had also to endure the sight of similar brutalities exercised upon the slaves. My feelings were aroused by this treatment. I should have been justified had I, under my then exasperated feelings, slain the brutes upon the spot; but better feelings prevailed, and I only thought more and more of trying to effect my escape. I travelled all night, and till about nine o'clock on Sunday morning, when I concealed myself in the woods for the day, and when night arrived again made considerable progress. On the third night I reached the village of Newmarket, where I met three men, who inquired where I was bound. I gave them an evasive answer, and took to my heels, and got on pretty well for the remainder of the night. On Tuesday, being the fourth day of my travels, I was concealed in the side of a mountain, when I heard the voice of bloodhounds on my track, along with the noise of a number of negro hunters. I had taken the precaution, before I took up my station for my day's rest and concealment, to make a circle by trampling the ground, and then strewed it with a good quantity of snuff and cayenne pepper. When the dogs came up,
full tilt, to this place, they began sneezing terribly, which caused them to lose scent of me entirely, although I was only about three hundred yards from them. I distinctly saw the men and dogs; all of them appeared to be at a loss, and I was very glad to see them move off in another direction. I took my repose during the remainder of the day in some degree of comfort and safety, and about eight o'clock in the evening I again started on my journey in pursuit of freedom. About midnight I was accosted by two men and a woman, who charged me with being a runaway negro; I denied the charge, for I was only walking away. They told me I was a slave belonging to Mr. Luke Ensor, and that they had seen an advertisement offering 250 dollars for my apprehension, which they were determined to obtain, by detaining me, which advertisement they, by the light from their lantern, read to me, as follows:--"My runaway negro boy, Sambo, bullet head, full eyes, big mouth, flat nose, and a cut over the eye. A reward of 250 dollars will be given to bring him back alive, and 150 dollars if brought back dead.--Luke Ensor." I then told them I was a free man, and begged they would not interrupt me. One of the men, however, took me by the collar, and we had a struggle together. I struck him a heavy blow, and he fell to the ground, when the second man engaged me, who at the same time gave me an awful blow on my head. I now determined to be free from them all, and I struck him to the ground. I was then tackled by the woman who held on by my leg. I pleaded with her as if she had been my sister to let me go, but she would not, screaming with all her might for assistance, not wishing to lose the prize of 250 dollars. I found I must make another effort, or still remain in slavery, so I served her in the same way as I had treated her companions, and off I ran with the speed of a racer, and saw no more of them. I now got on for a considerable distance without any further delay. Having again rested for the day I proceeded onwards, and soon found myself in Pennsylvania. I here began to discover fresh difficulties; for my provisions were exhausted, and how to procure more I did not know. I durst not venture into a store or shop for that purpose, although I had a little cash in my pocket, and for three days and nights I was without food of any description; a little cold water was the only beverage that I took into my stomach during that time. For seven days and nights I could not sleep at all; and oh! what were my feelings then? My imagination pictured the oppressors' steps after me, and I constantly thought that I heard the baying of the bloodhounds, the trampling of the men hunters' horses, and the horrid imprecations which were heaped on my poor devoted head. The night following I passed a village called Logansville, in which
place I approached a gentleman's residence, and found a large barrel of swill in the yard adjoining the house, for which I felt exceedingly glad, and made a most hearty meal of its contents. I also furnished my little bag with sufficient to supply me with food, such as it was, for the next day. This was a most fortunate circumstance for me, as I had begun to fear that I should perish with hunger. In the course of the following night I was again tracked by two men, who chased me up a river. In order to free myself from their pursuit I jumped in and swam across. In doing this I, of course, lost my bag and stick, and was again without food. In a comfortless and destitute condition I still journeyed on, supported by hope. After travelling about twelve nights further I reached Little York, where I was so oppressed with hunger that I resolved to make some application for food, whatever might be the consequence. I was providentially directed to a house where I happily found a number of kind and sympathising friends, who took me in and supplied my wants for three days, whilst I recruited my strength a little. The master of the house then engaged a coloured man to conduct me to a village about a dozen miles distant, which we travelled on horseback. My guide instructed me to wait until he had put his horse up, when he would see me across the Susquehana river to Columbia, which is in Lancaster county. I waited for about two hours for him, but from some cause or other he never came. I felt this to be a great disappointment, and bemoaned my sad condition, concluding that if I was again pursued by the base negro hunters (these being white men employed for the purpose), I would jump into the river rather than return to bondage. In this state of mind was I met by a white man, with a coloured one accompanying him, who appeared as though they had been fishing. They inquired where I was going, but I was afraid of them, and evaded the question, on which they left me to myself. Shortly after, the coloured man returned, and invited me to his house, but I objected to go with him for some time. His entreaties, however, were so pressing that I at length yielded--though not without fears that he might betray me. He provided me, to my great surprise, with a good breakfast, it being about three o'clock in the morning, and, contrary to all expectation, put me into a boat, and ferried me across the river to Columbia town. This was help indeed, and caused me great delight, for which I returned him many thanks. The good man had not yet done with me, for he further conducted me to the house of a good old Quaker gentleman, who took me in and made me feel quite at home. Amid the best of treatment I remained with him about three days, and then he yoked his one-horse carriage, and conveyed me fifteen or twenty miles, to the
residence of another friend, which was a little beyond Lancaster city. Here I remained all night and the following day, receiving the kindest attentions, and feeling quite safe and happy. From this "home" I was again conducted about twelve miles, to the residence of a distinguished member of the Society of Friends, one who is well known in America as ever ready to assist the poor fugitive. The present state of the law will not permit me to mention the names of those to whom I shall ever feel grateful: it would expose them to persecutions and loss were I to do so. The gentleman I have mentioned received me as though he had been my father, making many inquiries as to where I came from--my master's name--and what I was called. After I had satisfied him he suggested the propriety of an immediate change of my name, and asked me what name I should like in future. I replied JAMES WATKINS, for I had even thought of these things before I left Mr. Ensor. He advised me to adopt it at once, and never change it again. He then proposed to hire me as his servant, at ten dollars per month, with board and washing, This I gladly accepted, and began to think myself a man, out of the clutches of the accursed man-stealers; but my hopes were soon crushed, for about a fortnight after some negro hunters were seen about the neighbourhood, and my employer considered me in danger, so he paid me a month's wages, and took me to the railway station, where he got me stowed away into a covered luggage van, paying all expenses himself. He then took a seat in one of the carriages, and off we started for Philadelphia. At the end of our journey of sixty miles, we were met by several friends at the station, who escorted us to one of their houses. The kindness with which they treated me did not prevent a severe attack of illness, which the doctor said had been brought on by so much exposure to the weather, particularly during the night. I remained in this place about three weeks, when, having pretty well recovered from indisposition, I was accompanied by one of my friends direct to New York.
I was here hospitably received by the Rev. Mr. Wright, and a number of other friends of the down-trodden and deeply injured slave. I staid but a day and a night among this delightful band of philanthropists, after which I was forwarded to Hartford city, being furnished with letters of introduction to A. F. Williams, Esq., and other gentlemen of that city.
Upon my flight from the land of Egypt and the house of bondage, and during my journey of six weeks through the dark wilderness which separated me from the land of freedom, I was followed and hunted by the civilised Americans, as they would hunt a wild beast; and if, by so doing, they could have arrested my flight, they would not have hesitated a moment in shooting me as a dog, in which humane act they would have been borne out by the laws of America. Such was the treatment I experienced at the hands of the civilised and Christianised white men; but when in my flight I fell in with an encampment of Red Indians, in Maryland and Pennsylvania, men whom the refined Americans would call savages and heathens, I was welcomed as a friend; and when I made them understand by signs (for I did not understand their language) with what haste and terror I had fled from the scenes of cruelty and torture which I could endure no longer, and that there was a price set upon my head, and that my obdurate pursuers were fast hastening after me, they showed their sympathy for me in every possible way; and though it was roughly expressed, I believe it to have been as deep and as genuine as ever animated the breasts of Christian men; they shared with me their food, they gave me a place in their wigwams; they prepared for me a bed of skins, and did their utmost to render my short stay amongst them one of ease and comfort. Besides which, they assisted me in baffling the pursuit of my oppressors, by hiding me in caves, and by ferrying me in their canoes across the brooks, & c., which I had to traverse. In spite, however, of the kindness of these savages (who were, I sincerely believe, raised up by God to assist in my deliverance from thraldom), the dangers and difficulties which encompassed my path, were so numerous and so heavy, that many a time, after having been days and nights without tasting food, in consequence of my not daring to show my face in any place where it could be obtained, I wished I had never attempted what appeared to me such a hopeless task, but had been content to die in slavery.
But when (having overcome difficulties which seemed insurmountable, and having escaped dangers which appeared inevitable) I reached that welcome place Connecticut, which was then a free state, I felt as the Israelites must have done when in such a miraculous way they had escaped from the hands of Pharoah, and I sang and shouted for
joy, thanking God with a full heart and overflowing eyes for having in his goodness wrought out for me such a wonderful deliverance.
I arrived safe at Hartford, the journey to which more than completed a thousand miles which I had travelled since I had started to seek a place where God alone would claim me as property.
I now felt myself so safe from pursuit that my original intention of hastening to Canada began to give way, and I entertained the idea of settling at Hartford. This was strengthened by my being surrounded with a great number of friends soon after my arrival.
The first day I spent there I had the great pleasure of meeting with an uncle who made his escape about fourteen years before, from the very same plantation I had bid adieu to--Mr. Ensor's. It is impossible to describe our mutual feelings under these circumstances. Of course the adventures of our several flights were gone into, and also the particular circumstances which had happened in our histories during the fourteen years, were freely talked over.
Mr. Ensor had informed us that my uncle had been re-taken and sent to Georgia to pick cotton, for running away. This is considered a great punishment, and according to the accounts which the slaveholders give their slaves, few escape being caught, and sold into the most horrible degradation the mind of man can imagine. I have no doubt my companions in trouble were duly acquainted with my capture, and the dreadful calamities which had befallen me, while I was enjoying myself in Hartford all the time! Lying and deceit are practised in every form to keep the light from breaking in.
My uncle took me with him to his own house, where I found him comfortably settled, having married. He procured me employment as butler or pantryman with Mr. Horace Williams, of East Hartford. In this situation I remained about two years. This time passed sweetly, and gave me such an experience of freedom, not from work, but from serfdom, that made me feel glad I had escaped, though at such risks. Here I found no objection to knowledge being obtained, because I was in a free state; on the contrary, a little daughter of master's took me in hand as a pupil, and heroically engaged to lead me through the alphabet. The dear child little knew what a dunce slavery had provided for her. I had often been told, as all slaves are, that I had "a head as thick as a beetle;" that is, as thick and hard as a mallet or hammer. I am afraid my little teacher sometimes thought this true, for this A B C work made me perspire at times more than any one could imagine. I conquered, and great was my delight. So little did I know the extent of the field I was entering, that this acquisition made me feel as though I was going to be one of some account in the world.
The year following I was employed by Mr. Samuel Kennedy, in whose service I experienced great kindness, and to whom I shall always entertain the liveliest gratitude, as one of my best friends. I cannot enter into the particular incidents of these periods of my life. Many, undoubtedly, there were, but generally such as are common to persons in a similar station to the one I occupied. I kept improving in a general knowledge of things belonging to civilised society, and great indeed I felt the change to the heathen life I had left.
My next situation was with Roswell Brown, Esq., in Hartford city, my stay with him being about twelve months. In the course of the passing months I had occasionally met with a young woman, to whom I became strongly attached. She was the daughter of a respectable citizen of Hartford, named Mr. Thomas Wells. He threw many obstacles in the way of my wishes, on account of my being a fugitive, his daughter being a free woman. This objection was not to be wondered at when the danger is considered of taking me "for better and for worse;" the chances of the one being quite as great as of the other. However, eventually all difficulties were overcome, and we were married in April, 1847, having previously provided a cottage for her reception. This step was one of freedom, for in slavery the marriage ceremony is but a mockery. The whole affair is as the owner determines or wishes, and the fiat "whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder" might never have been issued, so little is it regarded by the pious dispensers of the "peculiar institution." A trifle light as air will make a sale that will separate man and wife hundreds of miles, and the bleeding hearts are frequently compelled to enter into new engagements to please the tyrant whose property they may be for the time! Oh! the horrors of the system from which I have escaped! Millions of immortal beings without the enjoyments of a family hearth.
There are features in this great monstrosity that I cannot describe in language fit to be read. O that they were blotted out for ever.
In my little cottage, with my "help meet," I had all the comfort and happiness a "home" could afford. We carried on a small business, the principal part of it being the making and selling of
hominy, an article of food made from Indian corn, which was in great demand in Hartford.
Up to this time I never had any opportunity of hearing from my relatives whom I left in the "house of bondage;" my desires to know something about them were nevertheless very strong at times. These desires had increased to such an extent while my own comfort was becoming greater, that in May, 1849, I made a resolution to go and try to see my poor mother. Of course I was much opposed by all my friends in this "wild scheme," as they called it. I was told it was like going into the tiger's den, for certainly I should never return if I did such a foolish thing. My poor wife was sadly distressed at the possibility of my being captured and again taken into slavery. Somehow or other these things did not overcome my intense desire after the welfare of those I loved, and who had cared for me. The more my circumstances became different from what they had been, the more I remembered others still "in Egypt." I at last determined to yield to my desires, and made preparations for a journey to the south, to ascertain how they fared, and with the hope of one way or other freeing my mother and the rest of the family from degradation. I left Hartford on Wednesday evening, travelling by railway to New York. From thence I proceeded to Philadelphia, where I met with several friends, who tried to dissuade me from going any further. I could not plant within them my feelings, and though I was thought headstrong, I proceeded onwards by railway to Columbia, and from thence to a small town called Strasburg, not far from the junction of Pennsylvania and Maryland, where I remained for a short time, and was again advised not to proceed further. Though this advice I did not follow, I took the precaution to travel by night only, and on foot, through the swamps, as when I escaped. Three nights' travelling brought me within ten miles of my mother's hut, where I stopped to get lodgings with an old acquaintance. My anxiety to see my only parent became intense as I got near to her residence, and I sent a conveyance over to fetch her to me, but she could hardly be induced to come, for she could not believe I was in Maryland again. She had, as I expected, been told by Mr. Ensor that I had been retaken, and sold to the rice swamps in Georgia, and, consequently, she had no idea of seeing me any more in the flesh. However she was prevailed upon at length to come, but she did not know me at first, I was so altered. We had nevertheless a joyful meeting, and the night glided swiftly away whilst we related to each other what we had passed through the years we had been separated. One circumstance my poor mother mentioned shows another trait of the system, which I may
mention. A number of slaves had escaped from neighbouring plantations, and in searching for them the owners called at my mother's hut, and insisted that she knew something about them: not having seen the fugitives, she of course denied the charge; but as the masters give so much cause for deceit, they placed no reliance upon her statements, and they resolved to punish her to make her tell where they were. They carried out their threats by stripping her, and then tied her up and cut her with the whip upon her back until she stood in her blood, leaving her all but dead. When Mr. Ensor was informed of the circumstance, he said he could do nothing in the matter, as no white man was present when the act was perpetrated, the evidence of coloured people being of no value according to the laws of the country which declares "all men equal," a white man's testimony, whatever his character, being more than that of any slave. Her owner was, however, far from being pleased with the treatment his property had thus received; this circumstance, along with the fact that she was getting into years, and not of much market value, induced Mr. Ensor about this time to turn her loose. Old as she was it gave her no small pleasure to be able to call her body and soul her own, and most certainly I was exceedingly glad to have this piece of news communicated to me during this interview, that she was no longer a chattel but a free woman.
I will not give more particulars of what passed on that, to me, short night, but simply say that when the time approached when I must leave, or be in danger of immediate capture, the parting was painful in the extreme. I had no thought of ever seeing her again in this world, and I bid her a long farewell with streaming eyes, and then hastened off to the bushes, and she returned to her hut. We have feelings, slaves though we have been; these we have not been deprived of, notwithstanding all the pains that have been taken to accomplish that object. They are implanted by our great Creator, and lie too deep to be erased by the ruthless hands that use the whip. I ought to add that my mother was nominally liberated when seventy years of age, and helpless and infirm, and had to maintain herself with an allowance only of a peck of corn a week.
I reached Strasburg in safety, where I took the railway train again direct to Philadelphia, where I stayed a day among the friends who were interested in my adventure, and then hastened on by the same means to my own "castle" at Hartford. I need scarcely say that my reception was marked by every demonstration of joy and pleasure, not only in my family, but by a great number of friends and acquaintances, who had given me up for lost. My poor wife had been all but frantic
during my absence, with fear that I had again been taken into bondage. I had been a fortnight from home, which was longer than we first expected. After this extraordinary trip I pursued my business with increased vigour. I needed to be very industrious, since by this time I had two children, a boy and a girl, whom I valued at something more than "two guineas a pound," which is a price slave-traders sometimes mention. Indeed, I was very proud of them, and wished to do for them whatever my industry and exertions could afford.
I must not omit to mention that through the generosity and kindness of American and English friends, I was instrumental in releasing from the cruel bonds of slavery my two sisters and one brother. I brought three other slaves,--two males and one female,--to the Free States. The girl was a white slave, the daughter of John T. H. Wethington, Esq., member of Congress, by a slave mother. One of the male slaves afterwards lived as servant with Edward Westhead, Esq., Manchester. I thought no self-denial or toil too great, in carrying out these designs, but was very happy in having it in my power to render them any help whatever, more especially as I had the pleasure of afterwards having them near me, and of enjoying their society. This happiness was increased by my seeing the pleasure I had been the means of imparting to others. I felt that I indeed "got good by doing good."
Another cloud hangs o'er my head,
And dangers thickly press,
But still I trust in God alone
For succour and success.
With confidence, and faith, and hope,
Misfortunes do I stand,
Until, with pleasure and with joy,
I tread on Freedom's land.
In 1850, I was in the enjoyment of comfort and prosperity, and surrounded by a large circle of friends, both civil and religious; I was certainly enjoying the communion of saints in the church to which I belonged, and I had few things to wish for in this world, excepting that all those who were in thraldom might be speedily set free, and become as comfortable as I was. In these circumstances, and with these feelings I was living, when, with hundreds--nay, thousands--of
others whose skins were not white, I was thrown into the greatest disquietude and peril by the enactment of the "American Fugitive Slave Law."
This atrocious and abominable law makes it a great crime, punishable with heavy fines and imprisonment, to be either directly or indirectly a party to the escape of a slave. It also appoints Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners throughout the so-called Free States, to see after catching the fugitives, and returning them to their owners. These officers are, in addition, empowered to call in the aid of free citizens in carrying out the provisions of this "sop" to the slave states. Any one who refuses to assist in catching his fellow-man, and depriving him of liberty, is also exposed to a heavy penalty. Under these circumstances I was not only uncomfortable myself, but all who knew my history were somewhat in jeopardy, as being "accessory after the fact." All my dreams of prosperity and happiness in store for me were upset; I was quite unfit for business of any sort; and I could not help wondering at times that Providence permitted the legislature to pass such a law, when their duty seemed to be to abolish all those acts that were already on the statute books which licensed slavery, in a nation which had for a fundamental principle, that "all men are equal." It appears likely however, that what is thoroughly bad and disgusting to many who have hitherto been indifferent, will yet turn out for the advancement of emancipation; and it may be said, with Cowper,--
"His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower."
I was in a state of great perplexity for about four months after the passing of the bill; some of my friends advising one thing and some another; but all agreed I would have to leave Hartford, or they would be compelled to assist in chaining me and sending me back to bondage. Anything of this kind they detested, and therefore wished on their own account, as well as mine, that I was safe. For to crown all, Mr. Chamberlain, one of the city constables, sent for me, and told me that Mr. Ensor had offered one thousand dollars for my apprehension; also, that if I did not leave the city, he was afraid he would be necessitated to arrest me, which he did not like the thoughts of, much less did he wish to do the deed.
My poor wife was in sad distress; and said she would rather hear of me being "buried in the blue seas," than see me again taken into slavery. With the most conflicting feelings, as may well be imagined, she joined in the advice to leave the country, at least for a time.
This was afflictive work for my mind; a terrible conflict going on within continually, made me that I scarcely knew what I was doing. At intervals my feelings completely overpowered me, and it was some time before I could get my courage up to the point of preparing for my departure. My friends were not backward in assisting me to the extent of their power, in various ways, including numerous letters of introduction to philanthropists in the "Old World."
On the 20th of January, 1851, I was ready to start from Hartford. Now came the struggle. The difference between the conflict of feelings at this time and those I had when I left Maryland was great. It is true I had my mother and brethren there, whom I was now leaving behind, but I had not a "home." Oh! that sweet word, to which slaves are strangers! I had not then what makes a home comfortable--a partner of my joys and sorrows; I had not the responsibilities of a parent. These new relationships and circumstances, added to my increased knowledge and capability to feel deprivations, all combined to make this into an hour of trial to me, even though I was in good hopes that our separation would be but for a season, and that it would all "work together for good."
On the day I have mentioned, I took my farewell of my poor wife and children, now three in number, in confidence that they were in good hands, and with an understanding that she would try to make up to the little ones for my absence. I prayed that the Lord would be with her and protect her, and that, if we should not meet again on this side Jordan, we might in heaven, where slavery and sorrow can never come.
Having made all the necessary preparations for my voyage across the ocean to this land of liberty, I started by the railway cars for New York, with my heart quite full, and ready to burst at the thoughts of my having such a choice--to leave those I loved, with a possibility of not seeing them again, or return into hopeless, helpless bondage. The latter I could not now endure the thoughts of, not because of the labour a slave has to perform--being healthy and strong, I was never afraid of that, for I could always accomplish it without much difficulty. It was the tyranny regularly practised--the many cruel whippings, and various other indignities to which they were subjected--the thousand immoralities that flow through the system--and in short, the fact that, in body and soul, a slave is made to feel that he is the property of a fallen human being, instead of the free agent that the Creator has designed him to be, free to serve him where and how his conscience, regulated by the divine will, dictates. This is the essence of the agony, to my mind--that whatever might be the duty that I felt I had
to do in the world, it depended upon the will of another whether I had the opportunity. In fact, I hate the whole thing with a perfect hatred, and no consideration shall induce me again to become a slave.
Since I have been in England, I have often been surprised to hear working men declare that they, too, know what slavery is. They argue that they are compelled to work very hard and long for little pay, and this they call "slavery," forgetting that they can, at any time, give a fortnight or a month's notice to their employers that they are going to leave, and then they are at liberty to improve their circumstances if they can. All this is very different to being placed on the auction block, and knocked off to the highest bidder, with the same ease and as little consideration as a piece of old furniture is done in any English market-place. Before a slave can get a "fresh shop," however skilful he may be, he must go through the same process that a horse does that changes masters. When I hear people talk thus, I think they don't comprehend the subject. I can truly say, that were Luke Ensor to make me an offer to clothe me in the best broad cloth, place a gold chain and watch about my neck, give me a horse to ride upon, and feed me on the best his plantation could produce, on the condition that I would return to him a slave, that is, his property, I would spurn the offer with indignation, and be horror-stricken at the idea of the proposition; I should fly from him as from the face of Satan, for I prize my freedom above every earthly blessing.
With thoughts akin to these my mind was occupied as I travelled from Hartford to New York, where I arrived about four o'clock in the morning. I took my lodgings at one of the hotels, where I remained four days, until the ship was ready to sail in which I had arranged to cross the Atlantic. I was obliged to keep as much as possible within doors, for fear of meeting the man-hunters or their emissaries. When the day of sailing arrived, I was conveyed in a close carriage to the dock, and put on board, where I was again concealed till we got out to sea. I very reluctantly withhold the names of the captain and vessel. Such was the goodwill and kindness manifested, that I shall ever feel grateful to this gentleman, and I only regret the existence of laws which prevent one from giving "honour to whom honour is due." It is possible that no notice would be taken of so insignificant a fact as the escape of one "nigger," as we are called, but, nevertheless, there is a liability to punishment, and a heavy penalty hanging over the heads of those who directly or indirectly assist coloured men to obtain freedom. I had substantial proofs of the views and feelings of this generous-hearted captain before I left his care.
There were many incidents of an interesting character in connection
with the voyage, but they were such as usually happen to most people more or less, during a three weeks' sail, and therefore I will not mention them here. I was every day struck with the admirable management of everything that was manifested by the persons in authority. We came in sight of Cape Clear, in Ireland, sooner than we expected. The prospect of free soil, even though a long way off at this time, made me feel delighted, and when we entered the Mersey and came into the docks at Liverpool, I could not help leaping and shouting for joy, and I sung a song of liberty. Some of the bystanders and waiters declared that a "mad black man" had just landed from an American ship. They little knew the emotions I was then the subject of. I cannot make them understand by any description; persons must be in similar circumstances to know what they are. To say that I was greatly excited, is like saying nothing. My joy was unbounded, and I was able to fully adopt and appreciate the assertion of Cowper, that--
Slaves cannot breathe in England. If their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
I could also add with perfect confidence--"NOW I AM FREE!"
At length I reached England, upon my arrival at the happy shores of which I felt that I was in reality FREE; and that no "fugitive slave law," nor any other iniquitous statute which American legislators might pass, could possibly touch me any more: and, in my ignorance of English manners and customs, I shouted in the exultation and joy of my heart, "God bless Mrs. Queen Victoria and Mr. Prince Albert," the titles of English monarchs and American presidents being mingled together in my mind.
The kind sympathy everywhere shown to me, and the hearty reception I received from some of the best men in Liverpool, made me feel very happy. The testimonials I had with me greatly assisted me, and many friends on this side of the Atlantic being personally acquainted with some of my friends in America, made the matter still more easy. I had obtained the following lines from the parties connected with the ship I had come over in, which removed any doubts in Liverpool:--
"JAMES WATKINS, fugitive slave, made his escape from Maryland to Hartford, and thence came over in the ship Arctic, from New York, with me, as passenger to Liverpool, and had his fare paid by some of his friends to Liverpool.
Captain of the Arctic.
"We certify the above to be correct, and that Mr. JAMES WATKINS has satisfied us by his testimonials that he is a deserving and respectable man.
TAPSCOTT, SMITH, & Co."
After a residence of three years in England, during which time, though I enjoyed the sweets of freedom, my mind was often embittered by the absence of my dear wife and children, I was enabled to send for them. They purposed, in the first place, coming by one of the Cunard line of steamers. They, however, after receiving 125 dollars, refused to bring them across, on account of their colour. Under these circumstances I applied to Henry Van Wart, Esq., a merchant and a magistrate of Birmingham, who, at my request, wrote a letter to Messrs. Geo. Wright and Co., Liverpool (copy of which is below), desiring them to make arrangements for my wife coming over.
Birmingham, February 8th, 1854.
Messrs. George Wright and Co., Liverpool.
Dear Sir,--This note will be delivered to you by James Watkins, a respectable coloured man, who wishes to make an arrangement to get his wife out from America. She is, we understand, a free woman, and never has been a slave. This person has sent a considerable sum of money through us to his relatives in the U. S.
If you can assist him in securing a comfortable passage for his wife, we shall be much obliged.
We remain, dear Sir,
VAN WART, SON, & Co.
In compliance with this letter arrangements were made for her coming over in the "City of Glasgow" steamer, which unfortunate vessel, however, it will be in the recollection of my readers, is supposed to have sunk on its way from Liverpool to Philadelphia, with 480 passengers on board.
My wife therefore came over in the "City of Manchester" steamer, and arrived safely in Liverpool, having been treated during her voyage with much kindness by the captain of the vessel.
We then became comfortably settled in Birmingham, in which town I was recognised as a citizen, and paid rates during a residence of six years, during which time my children received their education in the Grammar School; and I met with very many kind friends, who manifested the most sincere interest in myself and family.
Unfortunately, however, the climate of England proved too cold for my wife's constitution, and in consequence she was attacked with paralysis, and entirely lost the use of her limbs. I consulted Dr. Warden, and other eminent physicians, who declared that there was no hope of her recovery unless she went back to her native country, and they signed a certificate to that effect. I shall never forget the unswerving affection which, during my wife's affliction, was manifested by my noble band of friends and sympathisers, amongst whom I am proud to be able to name Joseph Sturge, Esq., R. F. Sturges, Esq., Mr. Charles Sturges, Wm. Middlemore, Esq., Mr. Griffiths, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Walton, and their families. The kindness of these friends I can never forget; but particularly, and above all, would I express my gratitude to Mrs. Edmonds and her dear family. This noble lady sat by my wife, and nursed her day after day and night after night, as though she had been her own sister, and showed the greatest affection for her until her departure from this country. I pray that heaven may reward her for her kindness to myself and my family, for I feel that I never can do so adequately.
My wife's affliction and consequent removal from England necessitated the breaking up of my little establishment at Birmingham; and though this was a matter of considerable regret to me, it was inevitable, and therefore I had to submit to it; but I am happy to say my wife arrived safely back again in her fatherland, where she has regained some small portion of her health, though she is still very unwell.
I brought with me to Liverpool letters of introduction from numerous gentlemen who had known me at Hartford (their names my readers will see at the commencement of this book) addressed to Mr. Radley, the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, Messrs. Bradley and Brothers, Dr. Raffles, Wm. Tapscott, Esq., and many others. I immediately proceeded to deliver these letters to the respective gentlemen, who kindly exerted themselves to obtain for me a situation of some kind or other, as I was wishful to meet with employment in Liverpool for a few months, believing, along with great numbers of the American people, that this odious "Fugitive Slave Law," which had caused my flight from my native land, would be repealed in less than twelve months. I regret, however, for the honour of Englishmen, that the exertions of my friends in my behalf proved unavailing. I could not obtain employment, and not only was I refused work, but was treated by some people from whom I asked it, with contumely and contempt.
I applied to some large Liverpool merchants who, after asking me a great many questions, declared that they could not think of employing a "nigger who would steal." Upon my expressing my entire
innocence of ever having acted dishonestly towards my master, I was informed that my having escaped from slavery was looked upon as a heinous offence by these gentlemen, who considered that by obtaining my freedom I had robbed my master of the amount at which I was valued in the slave market.
Though I was disappointed in not being able to get a permanent situation in Liverpool, I stayed there altogether about twelve months, obtaining now and then a month or two's work in an hotel, & c. I found, however, that the people with whom I came in contact in Liverpool had imbibed so much of American feeling in relation to men of my colour, that there was not much prospect of my getting on very well in that town, and I was therefore recommended by my friends to come to Manchester, and was furnished with introductory letters and testimonials to the Rev. Francis Tucker, the Rev. George Osborn, R. F. Chappell, Esq., J. Sidebottom, Esq., the Rev. Dr. Mc. Kerrow, Dr. Halley, and Dr. Beard, John Hewitt, Esq., Mr. Alderman Heywood, Mr. Mayo, and many other gentlemen.
I waited upon these gentlemen, who expressed most sincere interest in my welfare, and suggested that a subscription should be opened on behalf of myself and family (which they promised to head very handsomely), and that I should go through Manchester and neighbouring towns soliciting contributions I, however, whilst thanking my friends for their kindness, objected to this, stating that I had never begged in my life, and while I could work had no wish to begin, but that I was anxious to obtain a situation. These gentlemen, however, thought it would not be very easy to get such a one as would suit me, and the Rev. F. Tucker at last remarked, that having been myself a slave, and consequently being able to speak practically upon the evils of the system, I ought to go all over Great Britain to tell the people the horrors of that most hateful of all human institutions--Slavery, and to arouse the warm sympathies of the British people on behalf of my down trodden and oppressed countrymen.
When this kind suggestion was made, I, never having spoken in public in my life, mistrusted my own ability to act upon it, but being encouraged by Mr. Tucker and my other friends, at last made a first attempt in Mr. Tucker's schoolroom, which he kindly lent me for the purpose. I was so successful, that Mr. Tucker gave me a testimonial (which I insert along with that from Mr. Osborn), and I began to travel as a lecturer on slavery.
"I have much pleasure in stating that JAMES WATKINS gave a very interesting and affecting address on the "Operation of the Fugitive Slave Law, as illustrated by his own case," in my school room, last evening. It
is only justice to him to add that the tone and spirit of his address was admirable.
"Manchester, June 6th, 1851.
"I have carefully examined Mr. WATKINS' case, and from my knowledge of the parties who have signed his testimonials in America, and elsewhere, am prepared to recommend it as one which deserves the support of the friends of humanity and freedom.
Manchester, June 7th, 1851."
By my exertions, the kind assistance of my friends, and the blessing of God, I made considerable progress, and was enabled to redeem from bondage my brother and two sisters; their purchase was negociated by a warm-hearted and old-tried friend, A. F. Williams, Esq., Merchant, of New York, who had magnanimously interested himself on my behalf during my absence from America.
I resided in Birmingham for nearly two years before the arrival of my wife, and during that time addressed numerous very largely attended meetings both in that town and in many of the adjoining counties, as Warwickshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, and then made arrangements for permanently settling in Birmingham when my wife came. I entered into a small way of business, by which I made a comfortable living, besides which I was frequently invited out into different parts of the country, to give lectures on slavery, and to assist various denominations of Christians, by delivering exhortations at their Sunday school and anniversary services, & c.
To accomplish what I have done, I have had many difficulties to overcome, and have experienced many dark hours of sorrow and disappointment, and many a time have found it necessary to make one meal a day do, but in all my afflictions, and strugglings, and disappointments, I have always had one solace and one comfort which nothing could overcome or take away, that I was a free man, in a Christian land, and that God was my helper and my sure defence.
Through the ignorance and the prejudice of a certain portion of this community, we coloured people have been calumniated, and ideas have been disseminated in relation to us, which have no foundation in fact, but have only originated in the malice of people who have made it their business to misrepresent us; thus, for instance, we often hear English mothers and servants threaten a naughty child with being handed over to "Black Sam," or "The Black Man," & c.
We have public exhibitions in pot-houses and low singing rooms of men who black their faces, and perform such outlandish antics as were never seen amongst the negroes, and who profess to imitate, but who in reality only caricature men of my race.
Though I have for twenty years been ground down under the relentless hoof of the oppressor, and have tasted the bitterest dregs of slavery, I had rather that the laws of England would send me back into bondage, than that I should ever be guilty of disfiguring my face in order to bring into contempt a race of men who have been injured and wronged as have the Africans; whose woes and sorrows should excite the sympathies, instead of provoking the mirth and raising the laughter, of more fortunate human beings.
God gave to Afric's sons a brow of sable dye,
And spread the country of their birth beneath a burning sky:
To me he gave a form of fairer, whiter, clay,
But am I, therefore, in His sight respected more than they?
No! not by the tinted cheek which fades away so fast,
But by the colour of the soul we shall be judged at last,
But God the judge will look at me, with anger in his eyes,
If I my brother's darker brow shall ever dare despise.
I have no doubt the majority of my readers will be quite willing to take my word for the truth of the circumstances which I have narrated, but as it is possible there may be a few who will not be satisfied without some evidence, I have taken the trouble to collect a number of proofs of the accuracy of what I have stated. The following are from American sources.
The following extraordinary case is stated to have occurred in Mississippi, under the slave law of that state:--A planter was afflicted with a loathsome disease. So offensive were the ulcers that he was deserted by his white friends, and while thus afflicted and forsaken, a girl whom he owned as a slave kindly and patiently waited upon him, dressed his ulcers, cleansed his person, and watched over him until he finally recovered. With gratitude and affection to his benefactor, he took her to Cincinnati, Ohio, executed to her a deed of manumission, had it recorded, returned to Mississippi, and there married her in legal form. They lived together affectionately for many years, reared a family of children, and, as he lay upon his death-bed, by will he divided his property between his wife and children. His brothers, hearing of his death, came forward and demanded the property. The widow and
children were indignant at the demand. They, too, were seized, and the validity of that marriage was tried before Judge Sharkley, of that state, who decided that the whole matter was a fraud upon the law of slavery--that the property belonged to the collateral heirs. His widow was sold by the surviving brothers, the children were bid off at public auction, and both mother and children now toil in chains, or sleep in servile graves.--From a New York Paper.
A correspondent of the Chicago Daily Journal, writing from Cincinnati, details a scene of the workings of our "peculiar institution," as follows:--Years of talk about the wickedness of slavery will not so stir the sluggish blood as a single incident, occurring in a moment. On the cars the other day we noticed a beautiful woman,--one of the finest forms, and sweetest lady-like countenances, we have seen for many a day. On the seat behind her was a gentlemanly looking man, whose features the lady's very much resembled. Before the cars started, another well dressed gentleman came in, and recognising the first, took a seat by the side of him. "Is that a slave?" asked the second gentleman, pointing to the lady in front. "Yes." We were astonished, for the lady had deep blue eyes, straight beautiful hair, and a clear, blooming complexion. "Yours?" "Yes." "For sale?" "She is." "What do you ask?" "Twelve hundred." The trader--for so I deemed him--walked out in front of the woman, examined her hands, tried her arms and joints, and then, as if examining a cow, with both hands examined her bosom, abdomen, and hips, in the meantime asking the shrinking creature a series of questions such as we hope never again to hear put to one of the sex of our mother. "I'll take her; and pay the money when the train reaches----." The blue-eyed flaxen-haired chattel goes to New Orleans, and to the fate worse than death. Such is the "divine institution!"
The Galena (Ill.) Advertiser states that a former resident of that city, a bricklayer, had just returned from Mississippi, where he had found employment at his trade, under the following circumstances. He determined to keep his own counsel with regard to his views upon slavery. Acting upon this course he managed to glide along smoothly for some time without molestation. At last a new test was applied to his "sympathies:"--"One rainy day, when the hands were detained in the house, a slave having failed to build as good a fire from green
wood as the overseer wanted, the slave was ordered to be thrown down by the latter, to receive one hundred and fifty lashes as a punishment. As there was but one room for shelter, our friend was compelled to stand by and see the inhuman cruelty inflicted, or go out and stand in the rain. He promptly chose the latter, and at the end of half or three quarters of an hour, came in drenching wet. He was met by a laugh, and a remark, by the overseer, that perhaps he did 'not like to see such fun.' His only reply was that he did not, and nothing more was said on the subject. The next day a saddled horse was brought up to the door, and he was informed that he could leave that part of the country. He was informed that he could ride into Natchez, and leave the horse and saddle at a particular livery stable. With true British pluck, he refused the service of the animal, and walked to Natchez on foot, and soon made his way back to Galena."
Rev. Daniel Worth, of North Carolina, whose case we noticed on Saturday, is said to be an agent of the American Missionary Association. The only specification which we hear against him is his saying that he "would not have hung John Brown for a thousand worlds." Under date of Greensboro jail, December 26, he writes:--"I have been three days incarcerated in this jail on charges of a breach of the criminal laws of this state, in preaching and selling incendiary books, Helper's Impending Crisis, & c. The excitement on my preliminary trial was great. I plead my own cause, but three lawyers were against me. My bonds were fixed at ten thousand dollars,--a very modest sum in which to bind a preacher. My securities will file my bonds this afternoon, when I shall again have temporary liberty. My trial will come on in April, and though conscious of no offence against any just law, not even against the laws of North Carolina, in consequence of the great prejudice, added to the tremendous excitement, I can hardly hope to escape. The punishment, if convicted, is pillory, whipping, and imprisonment. Yesterday, the anniversary of the Saviour's advent, I spent in my prison in reading my Bible and prayer. I seemed to hear my Saviour's voice asking "Art thou ready to suffer for my sake? canst thou enter into dungeons for thy Saviour's love, and suffer shame for my sake?" When I came to the point, and could say, "Yes, Lord, I am willing to suffer thy righteous will in all things," he poured his love into my soul so boundlessly that I shouted aloud for joy. And let me say that I fully believe if I am sentenced to confinement or other punishment, God will glorify his name by my suffering for him as much as though I was at liberty and
working in his vineyard. O, let me have the prayers of my dear Christian brethren everywhere, that my faith fail not, and that I may in patience possess my soul.--Yours, in the love of that Saviour who suffered shame for us,--D. WORTH."--North Carolina Paper.
I here insert a brief notice of Elijah P. Loveloy. He was a native of Maine, a graduate of Waterville College. He settled at St. Louis, Missouri, and attained a high reputation as an editor of a newspaper there. He became a clergyman, and at length an abolitionist. After the burning of M`Intosh at St. Louis, he spoke out in his newspaper on the atrocity of the deed, & c. For this his press and types were destroyed, and he then established himself on the opposite side of the river, in the free state of Illinois. But the town of Alton was as dangerous to him as if it had stood in a slave state. It was the resort of slave-traders and of river traders, who believed their interests to depend on the preservation of slavery. Three times was his property annihilated; still his paper continued to be the steady, dispassionate advocate of freedom, and reprover of violence. In October, 1837, he wrote to a friend in New York, to unburden his full head and heart. After describing the fury and murderous spirit of his assailants, and the manner in which, for weeks, his footsteps had been tracked, he proceeded;--"And now, my dear brother, if you ask what are my feelings at a time like this, I answer, calm, perfectly calm, perfectly resigned. In the midst of danger, I have a constant sense of security. God has said, 'As thy day is, so shall thy strength be;' and He has made His promise good. True, I am a husband and a father; but I am commanded to forsake father and mother, and wife and children, for Jesus' sake: and the time for fulfilling this pledge, it seems to me, has come. I dare not flee from Alton." He was murdered in a few days after writing thus. His office was surrounded by an armed mob, and defended from within by the mayor of Alton. When the attack was supposed to be over, Lovejoy looked out to reconnoitre. He received five bullets in his body, was able to reach a room on the first floor, declared himself fatally wounded, and fell on his face dead. His age was thirty-two.
William Brown, a fugitive slave, commonly called Box Brown, from the incident of having escaped from bondage in a box, in his speech before the American Anti-Slavery Society at New York last week, when referring to the subject of colonization, declared that the
coloured race would not leave this country and go to Africa, or South America, or to New Mexico. (Applause.) They had, through the agency of the slaveholders, too much Anglo-Saxon blood in them. He met the other day a friend who had run away about the time he did, and they had a long talk about their white relations at the South. (Laughter.) They talked about his cousin William, Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Spain [Hon. William Preston.]--(Roars of laughter.) That gentleman married his other cousin Fanny. (Renewed laughter.) The Wickliffe family were his cousins. (More laughter.) Bob died a few months since, said to have been worth about five million dollars. (Renewed merriment.) His cousin, Charles A. Wickliffe, was Postmaster under John Tyler. (Laughter.) Perhaps they didn't know who John Tyler was, but certainly they would know his cousin Charles. (Continued laughter.) He did not look upon these white relations of his with such pleasure as they might think; still they were his relations. (Laughter.) Sometimes they found themselves related to those about whom they did not care much. (Great laughter.) If they wanted him to leave his white relations, he wouldn't; and he wanted to stay and defend his coloured friends, and labour for their emancipation. (Applause.)--This Mr. Brown is the same man who, a few years since, was driven from a passenger car, and compelled to ride on a rear freight car, and when the conductor attempted to collect his fare, refused to pay more than the regular charge on freight. "You count me as freight," said he, "and I'll pay you as freight; weigh me, and I'll pay by the pound." The conductor was compelled to yield to his view of the case.--From a Hartford Journal.
TWO FREED SLAVES are now in Liverpool, one of them in search of money wherewith to purchase the freedom of his children. Their history is suggestive. One of them, Mr. Savage, was born in Maryland, sold into slavery in Kentucky, and re-sold there four times. The last purchaser was a Methodist preacher, and finding Savage an intelligent man, he sent him out on Sundays to preach to the slaves in the district. Savage was industrious as well as pious, and by working overtime contrived to save 400 dols. He gave this money to his master, and with it a bond for 1,000 dols., and his master made him free. Lewis Smith was born into slavery in Kentucky, in German town. His master died, and his slaves were sold. A gentleman from Ohio purchased Smith, and as Smith had saved money by working overtime, his master allowed him to purchase his freedom. For himself he paid 1,015 dols., and his master advanced him 1,200 dols.,
to purchase the freedom of his wife and three children. He had seven in all, and four of the eldest still remain in slavery. Their master will keep them until March next, but if not purchased then they will be sold. To get money to purchase these, and pay their debts, is the object of their visit to England. They appeal to the anti-slavery party here; and their appeal, we are sure, will not be without the anticipated results. They make no complaint against their masters, and say that slaves are well used in the northern slave states.--Liverpool Daily Post.
The state of New York has been disgraced by a shocking case of Lynch law. In the town of Portland, Chantaqua county, New York, a family of the name of Whipple reside. On the evening of the 20th April, a mob of fifteen men and five women went to the house of the Whipples, broke open the door, dragged one of his daughters from her bedroom, stripped her in the street, and deliberately set about covering her person with a coat of tar and feathers, and in that state left her. The local newspaper which records the affair simply states that her father, having recently lost his wife, had his daughter brought home to take care of his other children, who were very young; and that latterly the house has been suspected as disorderly, the tarring and feathering being the refined method adopted in these parts to reform it. The perpetrators have been arrested, and held to bail before a magistrate, to answer for the outrage at the Criminal Court.--Manchester Examiner and Times.
Advices from Texas state that two Abolitionists have been hung there for distributing arms to slaves, and inciting them to insurrection. Manchester Guardian.
Great excitement has been caused in Texas, and is spreading throughout the Southern States generally, arising out of a series of conflagrations that have taken place in a portion of that State.--Ibid.
Miss Cornelia Barbour, a daughter of the Hon. J. Barbour, of Virginia, formerly Governor of that State, and a member of President J. Q. Adams's cabinet, has resolved to emancipate her numerous slaves, and locate them in a free State, where they may enjoy liberty, and (if they will) acquire property.--Ibid.
A fugitive slave came from Harper's Ferry into Auburn yesterday, on his way to Canada. While walking about he strolled into one of our
restaurants, and there, to his surprise, he saw quietly eating oysters, a United States Marshal from Harper's Ferry. The Marshal, on seeing the fugitive, arose, and patting him on the shoulder, called him by name, and asked him what he was doing in Auburn. The negro made an incoherent reply, when the Marshal immediately left. The negro went into the street, and saw the Marshal, in company with two others, rapidly approaching the restaurant. The negro immediately took to his heels, but the Marshal failed to pursue him, probably not wishing to attract attention. The fugitive found friends, who learned his history, and have sent him on toward Canada, or parts unknown. The Marshal lived within three doors of the fugitive at Harper's Ferry, and was perfectly well known to the latter. Whether the Marshal was in pursuit of the fugitive, or engaged in summoning witnesses for the Senate Investigating Committee, and met the fugitive by merest chance, is unknown. The Marshal and his men have not been seen since yesterday in Auburn. The fugitive, it is understood, was the slave who guided John Brown into the Arsenal at Harper's Ferry. The affair has created considerable excitement among several prominent abolitionists of this city, who were made familiar with the circumstances.--Auburn (N.Y.) Advertiser, January 18th.
The following is a relation of an incident which occurred in an American law court, and will show the feelings of some of the American judges on the slavery question:--
A fugitive, escaped from Maryland, and on his way to Canada, was seized in Vermont. The abolitionists rallied round him--took all parties into court. Three judges were on the bench; one aged and feeble. The defence wished to know why this man was taken. The reply was that he had broken the laws of Maryland State, and stolen himself. Proof was demanded that he was a slave. The slaveholder held forth a document, saying, "This is a bill of sale made in my favour for this man, signed by his original owner." The learned and venerable judge rose to his feet, and with a voice of thunder, strangely loud for one so old, demanded, "who signed it, sir?" "John Williams," replied the astonished owner. "Take it away, sir, take it away," said the venerable judge, raising his hands to heaven; "it is not valid, sir; it is falsely signed, sir; it is falsely signed, sir; it is a blasphemous forgery; none can sign that bill of sale but God Almighty." Need we add that the court was electrified, and the slaveholder shrunk out! and when the news spread it resulted in thousands more of abolition
votes at the next election. When the pious defenders can show the right the judge required we cease our labour. Until then we proclaim an earnest war, with the conviction that the day is not far distant when this blot will be wiped from the world's escutcheon. Britons, help as you can; and when you can; and may God bless our labours, and hasten the day of Jubilee.
In reference to the above, I might name thousands of American gentlemen of the highest eminence who hold opinions, identical with that expressed by the judge, but the limits of my little book will not permit me, and I must content myself with simply mentioning the names of such men as the Hon. Chas. P. Summer; the Hon. J. P. Hale; the Hon. V. Philips; Wm. L. Garrison, Esq.; the Rev. Theodore Parker; the Rev. H. Ward Beecher; the Rev. Mr. Patten; A. M. Collins, Esq., Mayor of Hartford; and last, but not least of this illustrious list, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe.
In addition to the above, I have (since I have been in England) been favoured with the opinions of the highest authorities in the land in favour of the abolition of slavery, amongst which I am proud to be able to mention her most gracious majesty Queen Victoria.
The Inquirer newspaper narrates the following:--
"A lady in this country, who has lately travelled in America, had issued a book containing her impressions of what she had seen. She is not unknown in this country for her sympathy with our white slaves, and her name has an honorary place in the history of reformatory schools. This lady, the Honourable Miss Murray, adopted in the southern states the tone of the society she found there; and agreed heartily not only in what was said of the white slaves in England, but also what was said of the black slaves in Carolina. She has therefore not hesitated to publish in her book opinions favourable to negro slavery, even to the extent of dogmatically saying that God created negroes to live under restraint, and that slavery is a means designed by Providence for the making of some good Christian men and women. As one of the Queen's ladies in waiting, Miss Murray wished to dedicate the book to her Majesty. It is understood, however, that on seeing the proof sheets, her Majesty not only refused the dedication, but required that Miss Murray, if she published it, should resign her place at court."
I have also been favoured with the opinion of Lord Brougham and Lord Aberdeen, and also of Lord Denman, at whose mansion I have
been a welcome guest. I may also mention the name of the Rev. Dr. Dixon, who having himself witnessed the evils of slavery, is enabled to speak practically on the subject.
"Tell me not of rights, talk not of property of the planter in his slaves. I deny the right, I acknowledge not the property. The principles, the feelings of our common nature rise in rebellion against it. Be the appeal made to the understanding, or the heart, the sentence is the same that rejects it. In vain you tell me of laws which sanction such a claim. There is a law above all human codes, the same throughout the world, the same in all times, such as it was before the daring genius of Columbus pierced the night of ages and opened to one world the sources of power, wealth, and knowledge--to another all unutterable woes, such as it is at this day. It is the law written by the finger of God upon the heart of man; and by that law unchangeable and eternal, while men despise fraud, and loathe rapine, and abhor blood, they will reject with indignation the wild and guilty phantasies that man can hold property in man."
I visited Stony Middleton, and by letter invited Lord Denman to preside at my meeting. His lordship, with the greatest possible kindness, forwarded me the following reply:--
"Middleton, April 4th, 1856.
"Sir,--I shall be happy to attend the meeting at which you will actually 'take the chair.' "It will give me great pleasure to endeavour to create an addition to the good feeling towards you, which (from information received yesterday) I know to exist already in Middleton.
"Your obedient Servant,
"DENMAN.""Mr. James Watkins."
He took the chair at several of my meetings, and invited me to his mansion, where I was kindly received by the ladies of the family. My warmest thanks are due to his lordship, who evinced the greatest interest in my welfare, as will appear by the following letters I received from him. His father was a noble advocate of the slave's cause while Lord Chief Justice of England, and I was furnished by the present Lord Denman with the following copy of a prayer, made by his worthy and noble ancestor:--
"April 10th, 1856.
"My dear Sir,--I regret that I cannot attend the lecture to be given by you at Eyam.
"You asked me for some writing of my father's. I give you a prayer in verse, by him. It was intended for Africa, but in many cases it applies to America.
'From that abyss of misery arise
These brethren of thy only Son,*
* "For as much as ye did it to the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me."
Oh thou all wise, all just, all good!
Deign to suppress thy wrath divine!
Forbear to visit for the blood
By Moloch poured on Mammon's shrine:
Quench not the blood of honest shame;
Touch reckless hearts with love again:
Let Christians still deserve their name,
And men remember they are men.'
* "For as much as ye did it to the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me."
"It is in this spirit that I wish to act, to let bygones be bygones, and the Southern States, like Penn's Quakers, suppress slavery by the scruples of their own awakened consciences.
Yours very truly,
"DENMAN.""Mr. James Watkins."
After I had left the neighbourhood, I received the following interesting and kind letter from his lordship:--
"Dear Sir,--I desire no thanks for my goodwill towards you and others less fortunate than yourself, but am glad that you like the poetical prayer of my father.
"You know that I wish you to appeal to the slumbering feelings of humanity within the breasts of the slave-owners, and of the advocates of the fugitive slave law, and to disprove their allegations, that a system so liable to base abuse, and so hardening to the heart as slavery is, is preferable to freedom, however well some slaves in perhaps frequent instances are kept bodily by their masters.
"I now give you a stanza, written by a relation, in reference to my father, after he had lost the power of speech and writing, and to a letter of his (which I mentioned at Stony Middleton at your second meeting) to Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe:--
" 'Tis sweet to think the last that thou hast written,
With power to show thy thought to other eyes,
Is in behalf of the oppressed and smitten,
Whom some that pity all men else despise.
While greeting her, whose tale of highest power **
And then, in allusion to him as Lord Chief Justice--
"Mercy and justice joined, how deeply felt,
Was doom pronounced, when pity might not melt."
"Your letter came to me only this morning, as I am now in London, and remain,
"Dear Sir, "Yours respectfully,
"DENMAN.""May 24th, 1856."
Nothing will obliterate the impression his lordship made upon me by the warm sympathy he evidenced for the millions in slavery, and for the personal kindness I experienced from him.
Let me insert in my narrative the opinion of Lord Aberdeen, expressed in the House of Lords:--"A slave commits no crime when he throws off his master's yoke, and escapes into liberty; nor was it theft if he availed himself of his master's horse, or his master's boat, in his flight. Any strong man has as much right to reduce to slavery, and hold in bondage, a weak crippled fellow creature, in this country, as any elder or deacon in America can have to hold in slavery any one because certain moneys have been paid into the hands of a third party, which party has no moral right to sell."
I would also recommend my readers to peruse "Twofold Slavery in the United States," by Marshall Hall, Esq., M.D., F.R.S., & c., "A Thousand Witnesses," and also a work published by Dr. Jobson, a Wesleyan minister, who has travelled in the slave states of America.
Since I have had the happiness of advocating the cause of the slave in Great Britain, I have been most warmly received and most cordially supported by the ministers and members of almost all religious communities; and although it is quite impossible within the limits of a book like this even to mention their names, yet I cannot forbear giving expression to my gratitude to those ministers who have made my task comparatively easy, by opening their schools and chapels for me to lecture in, and by introducing me to their congregations.
The following is a list of the names of a few of the ministers of different denominations who have so warmly seconded my efforts in the cause of freedom:--
Wesleyan ministers:--Revs. Dr. Dixon, S. Simpson, S. Broadbent, Peter Duncan, Geo. B. Macdonald, Dr. Newton, Dr. Hannah, Mr. Bowers, George Curnock, George Taylor, Mr. Allin, Mr. Parkes, Mr. Sturges, Josiah Hudson, Isaac Woodcock, R. Wilcox, John Brush, Mr. Page, Mr. Rodgers, S. W. Christophers, Mr. Vine, Mr. Kendall, Mr. Hollis, S. Keeling, T. Yates, Mr. Summer, R. Hornabrook, R. Sargeant, W. Stevenson, S. Rowe, Mr. Guest, Mr. Thomas Hardy, Dewsbury, Mr. Morris, Mr. Mackenzie, and Mr. Lawton.
Church of England:--Revs. Dr. M`Neile, Liverpool; Canon Stowell, Manchester; G. S. Bull, rector of Birmingham; Mr. Wilson,
Mr. Hughes, Dr. Fleury, Dr. Howick, Dublin; Dr. Edgar, Dr. Cook, Belfast; Mr. Butcher, Ramsbottom; Mr. Saunders, Ripponden; J. Bromley, incumbent, Wolverhampton; Isaac Clarkson, vicar, Wednesbury; Mr. White, rector, Darleston; Mr. Fletcher, rector, Bilston; J. H. Sharwood, vicar, Walsall; Mr. Bradshaw, incumbent, West Bromwich; John Mason, vicar, Sherburn; J. Tobin, M.A., Liverpool; E. Fernier, government chaplain, Kingston, Isle of Man; J. H. Stowell, vicar, Peel; J. L. Stowell, B.A., Kirkmichael; J. F. Garde, M.A, St. John's; E. L. Davis, Holywell; Hon. and Rev. O. Crewe, rector, Congleton; Mr. Herbert, rector, Burslem; Mr. Gwyther, rector, Yardley.
Independents:--Revs. Joseph Parker, Cavendish-street Chapel, Manchester; Mr. Bean, Heckmondwike; J. A. James, Birmingham; Dr. Raffles, Liverpool; Mr. Cameron, Mirfield; W. R. Thorburn, Bury; William Roaf, Wigan; Mr. Gwyther, Manchester; Mr. Rogers, M.A., Ashton-under-Lyne; Mr. Marsland, Bakewell; Brewin Grant, Sheffield; Mr. Johnson, Birmingham; Dr. Ryan, Beverley; Mr. Shawcross, John Kay, Esq., Burnley, and Mr. Councillor Taylor, Wigan.
Baptists:--Revs. Mr. Tucker, Manchester; H. Stowell Brown, Liverpool; Charles Vince, Isaac New, Mr. Swan, J. Taylor, J. Landells, Birmingham, and D. M. Evans.
Methodist New Connexion:--Revs. Dr. Crofts, Mr. Boycott, J. Addryman, J. Taylor, S. Hume, D. Round, J. Stoko.
Methodist Free Church:--Revs. John Mann, Mr. Morgan, Mr. Hargreaves, Mr. Barron, Mr. Dodgson, Mr. Thomas Barron, Mr. J. Evers, Mr. M. Milnes, Mr. Maddock.
Primitive Methodists: Revs. Mr. Anncliffe, Mr. Garner.
Whilst I have had the honour of being cordially received by the higher classes, and by some of the nobility of this country (and for the encouragement they have given me I am deeply grateful), yet I would not forget the thousands and tens of thousands of the poorer classes, or, as they are called, the "lower orders," who have received me with unexampled kindness, and have so nobly rallied round the cause which I advocated, and have shown, in a most decided and unmistakeable manner, their abounding sympathy for the slave, and their utter detestation of the slave's oppressor.
Though these people are spoken of as the "working" and the "lower classes," I have never found their sympathies less warm, their generosity less cheerful, nor the instincts of their hearts less noble, than those who are far above them in worldly wealth and influence; and so long as it is alike my duty and my privilege to plead before the
English nation, in favour of my oppressed and down-trodden fellow-countrymen, I trust I shall deserve and receive (as I have hitherto done) the blessing of God upon my labours, and the good wishes and sympathies of the people of all classes, from the nobleman down to the poorest artizan.
I would now beg to refer the affectionate and considerate attention of the whole of the civilised--and more especially the Christian--world, to the cruelties practised upon the free blacks, Creoles, mixed races, and the Indians, of the United States of America, who, including the free coloured persons in both the free and slave states, constitute a population of from 7,000,000 to 8,000,000. The voices of these people are of no value in a civil court; they cannot travel in the same conveyance with white men, they are not allowed to worship with them, and the prejudice of the people against them even in what are termed the free states is as strong as in the slave ones, although they certainly cannot buy and sell them as in the southern states. Notwithstanding the cruel and unrelenting opposition these people have to contend with, it has been estimated by gentlemen of the most undoubted authority in that country, that the property held by the whole of the free coloured people in the United States amounts to upwards of 150,000,000 dols., for which they are taxed to support the revenues of the country. Still, staring the people sternly in the face as this fact does, they are not considered as citizens, much less as brethren, and the slaveholders and pro-slavery men have yet the cowardly audacity to openly assert the unmanly libel,--not to call it anything worse,--that these very people who can thus amass wealth and property, have not the simple power and common sense to take care of themselves. Nor is this all; the spiritual state of affairs with these classes is very satisfactory amongst the Methodist Episcopal Church alone (followers of the venerable John Wesley); there are some 500,000 members and communicants exclusively of the free coloured people, who have their bishops, elders in charge, or superintendents of the circuits, travelling and local preachers, all of this class. And they build their own churches and chapels in order to offer worship to their heavenly master, not being, as already stated, allowed to associate with the white people in common brotherly communion. In addition to these, there are about 600,000 members of other denominations, such as the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Catholics, and Unitarians, besides a vast number of others who, not being members, attend various places of worship, all of them being free coloured people. And it is with some degree of pride I state that many eminent English ministers, including the Rev. Dr. Newton, Rev. Dr. Jobson, Rev. George
Marsden, Rev. Dr. Cox, and others, have preached to large congregations of these classes in their own free churches and chapels. Amongst the most wealthy and influential of these people in Baltimore, are John Forte, Esq., one the richest men of the city, Daniel Givvins, Esq., Dr. Young, one of the most eminent physicians in the country. In Philadelphia, Stephen Smith, Esq., who, it is estimated, is worth 1,000,000 dollars, and who entertained Joseph Sturge, Esq., when in that country, Dr. Byers, a most noted physician, William Whipper, Esq., one of the largest merchants in Columbia. In addition to these I might mention many in New York, Boston, and other of the principal cities and towns of considerable influence, but time and space would not permit. In the religious and professional community, may be enumerated such men as Dr. Pennington, of New York, Dr. Canon Smith, and the Rev. Alexander A. Crumwell, of the same city, Charles Rowman, Esq., an eminent councillor of Boston, and many others of the same profession, and last, though not least, comes Frederick Douglas, who was once in bondage for eighteen or twenty years, but is now editor and proprietor of a paper having an extensive circulation in Rochester, New York State. Many of their forefathers, I may also mention, have fought and bled in the cause of freedom under Generals Washington and Jackson, and were then considered as citizens; in proof of which I would call the attention of my readers to the following proclamations of General Jackson.
"Head quarters, 7th Military District, Mobile, Sept. 21st, 1814.
"To the Free Coloured Inhabitants of Louisiana.
"Through a mistaken policy, you have heretofore been deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights in which your country is engaged.
"This no longer shall exist.
"As sons of freedom, you are now called on to defend our most inestimable blessing. As Americans, your country looks with confidence to her adopted children for a valourous support. As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you are summoned to rally round the standard of the eagle, to defend all which is dear to existence.
"Your country, although calling for your exertions, does not wish you to engage in her cause without remunerating you for the services rendered.
"In the sincerity of a soldier, and in the language of truth, I address you. To every noble hearted free man of colour, volunteering to serve during the present contest with Great Britain, and no longer, there will be paid the same bounty in money and land now received by the white soldiers of the United States, viz., 124 dollars in money, and 160 acres of land.
"The non-commissioned officers and privates will also be entitled to the same monthly pay, and daily rations and clothes, furnished to any American soldier.
"The major-general commanding will select officers for your government from YOUR WHITE FELLOW CITIZENS. Your non-commissioned officers will be selected from yourselves. Due regard will be paid to the feelings of freemen and soldiers. As a distinct, independent battalion, or regiment, pursuing the path of glory, you will, undivided, receive the applause and gratitude of your countrymen.
"Major General Commanding.
September 25th, 1814.
"To the free people of colour.
"Soldiers! when, on the banks of the Mobile, I called you to take up arms, inviting you to partake of the perils and glory of your White fellow-citizens, I expected much from you; for I was not ignorant that you possessed qualities most formidable to an invading enemy--I knew with what fortitude you could endure hunger and thirst, and all the fatigues of a campaign.
"I knew well how you loved your native country; and that you, as well as ourselves, had to defend what man holds most dear,--his parents, wife, children, and property. You have done more than I expected.
"In addition to the previous qualities I before knew you to possess, I found among you a noble enthusiasm, which leads to the performance of great things.
"Soldiers! the President of the United States shall hear how praise-worthy was your conduct in the hour of danger; and the representatives of the American people will give you the praise your exploits entitle you to. Your general anticipates them in applauding your noble ardour.
"The enemy approaches--his vessels cover our lakes--our brave citizens are united--and all contention has ceased among them. Their only dispute is, who shall win the prize of valour? or, who the most glory?--its noblest reward.
"Aide de camp."
In the preceding paragraphs, the African, in the cases of Banneker and Toussaint, has been permitted to speak for himself. Totally without early education, the former, self-educated, rose to eminence in the difficult career of astronomical calculation. The latter, after fifty years of slavery, self made, rose to the highest rank of a soldier and a citizen, and became governor of St. Domingo.
There is genius, then, amongst the African people,--genius which has burst forth out of ignorance and slavery.
Of the educated African--of an educated African people--of their intellectual and moral endowments -- unfettered by prejudice--the people of the United States can form no idea, for they have never seen such a person, and such a people has never been presented to the world's observation.
Not only have uneducated individuals of the African race shown themselves worthy of honour and praise, but uneducated numbers of this people have acted meritoriously.
In Hayti, and other of the West India Islands, both individuals and people of the African race have presented examples of loyalty and faithfulness, of patience under sufferings, and of moderation in victory, which must excite the admiration of all candid minds.
I beg to refer my readers to Dr. Beard's "Life of Toussaint L'Overture." You will be pleased with the details of the noble conduct of Africans, and of the African race generally, in their "War of Independence."
I refer you once more to the "Tribute for the Negro," and especially to the account of Alexander Crumwell, of pure African origin, and one of the four episcopally ordained clergymen in the United States; and of Paul Cuffé, an "intelligent, enterprising, and benevolent negro, the son of John Cuffé, a negro dragged from his home, and sold into slavery," who, to do good to his fellow Africans, thrice visited Africa.
But I must not weary you; one day I may do more ample justice to this subject.
There is not a nation in the world will tolerate such horrible cruelties as I have shown in this narrative on their fellow men who happen to have the misfortune to be possessed of a skin of a rather darker hue than themselves, save in that country alone where they boast so strongly of having such unparalleled freedom. Under such pretended boast of freedom, this country alone sanctions, by law, the buying and selling of men, women, and children, at so much the pound weight, the selling of women for the most vile purposes, who are put upon the block of the auctioneer and knocked off by the hammer of these merciless men as beasts, furniture, and property would be in this country, and frequently sold for the purpose of sending the Word of God to the heathens, and building Christian churches. Notwithstanding such are the feelings, prejudices, and practices of the nation as a whole, we must, in justice, say that there are thousands of white men in the United States, such as the Hon. Charles Sumner, and many
others, who are standing up with undaunted courage to proclaim the rights of their coloured brethren, and who are working with unflinching zeal and energy to bring about that most devoutly wished for and happy period when that system known as "American Slavery" shall be buried in the oblivion of the past.
There is an opinion which is very prevalent in this country, and it is one which is fostered and encouraged by the statements of the proslavery party on the other side of the Atlantic, that the slaves there are unfit for any kind of labour except picking cotton, and that they are more a burden than a source of profit to their owners, a great many of whom would try to make the English people believe that they hold their slaves in a state of bondage not from any gain they derive from their labour, but only as a matter of kindness to the slaves themselves, who, these benevolent philanthropists represent, are unable to take care of themselves, and are not possessed of sufficient intelligence and industry to earn their own livings in any capacity, except that of cotton pickers, where they are under the immediate superintendence of an overseer.
It may be well, therefore, to inform my readers that in America there are tens of thousands of slaves who are tailors, shoemakers, hairdressers, mechanics, & c., men who earn sufficient to keep them in comfort, but whose earnings go into the pockets of their owners.
There is also another phase of slavery with which people generally are not conversant. Slaveholders are not all the brutal, profane, and dissolute men that people imagine. It is not only men of the "Legree" stamp (though there are a great many of them) who have stained their hands in this iniquitous traffic in flesh and blood. There are about a million and a half of slaves held by professedly religious people connected with the Church of England (or, as they are called there, Episcopalians), with the Independent (or Congregationalist) body, and also Wesleyans. What a libel is this upon the founder of their body, who spoke of slavery as "That execrable villany which is the scandal of religion and of human nature."
These people, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, and to do unto others as they would that others should do unto them, not content with keeping their negroes in a state of bodily slavery, attempt also to rivet the fetters round their souls, and keep them in spiritual thraldom. There is no church, no school, no missionary, no Bible reader, for the American slave; and though he may be the property of a minister of religion, he will remain as destitute of
religious instruction as a beast of the field. As a member of a Christian denomination myself, I should be very sorry to cast the slightest reflection upon any body of professing Christians. None is intended; but these are facts, and speak for themselves, and therefore need no comment.
In the West Indies, before the glorious day of emancipation had dawned, the slaves there were regarded and treated (as their brethren in America are now) as mere goods and chattles,--as animals,--possessing neither soul, nor mind, nor intellect. Now they enjoy, equally with Englishmen, all the rights and privileges of citizenship, besides which we find them holding civic, judicial, and legislative offices; and performing, with credit to themselves, and with profit to the state, the duties devolving upon them as Mayors, Magistrates, and Members of their House of Assembly,
Before the abolition of slavery it was boldly asserted by pro-slavery men in this country that if the slaves were liberated they would not know how to take care of their freedom, and that they would only work whilst in a state of slavery and under the fear of the lash.
These statements have been completely falsified by the result. Before the abolition of slavery there were annually grown 2,500,000 hogsheads of sugar. Since the abolition of slavery the annual production has been 5,500,000 hogsheads.
These figures have been communicated by a very high authority, and their accuracy may be relied on.
The following remarks, with reference to the social condition of the negro population in Jamaica, were made by Mr. E. B. Underhill, secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society, at a meeting held in New York, August 1st, 1860; Mr. Underhill having just before reached that city direct from the West Indies:--"The West India islands, it was well known, enjoyed a high protective duty on sugar, even down to the emancipation. The usual results followed in Jamaica, to wit:--unskilful cultivation, and dependence upon the margin of protection for profits, instead of good management in production and manufacture. But the withdrawal of protection would not account for the decay of Jamaica; for protection was lost to the other islands at the same time, and yet they all continued to prosper. Therefore neither emancipation nor the want of protection would account for commercial decay in Jamaica, which was unquestionable. The Jamaica planters complained that they could not get labourers, and said the people were idle and careless. He was sorry, but he could not confirm that story for the planters. The fault did not lie with the people. There was not, taking one thing with another, a more industrious peasantry on earth than
the peasantry of Jamaica. The value of the produce cultivated by the negroes of Jamaica, reached at least two millions per annum. In fact, they produced whatever was produced, and that did not prove idleness. He had crossed the country three times, had travelled a thousand miles in it, had gone into their cottages in the interior, had talked with them in all sorts of places, had seen great numbers of nice, comfortable houses, abundance of clothing, a people well dressed, houses filled with good furniture, and all the evidence of an approach to higher civilisation. He had seen men who were penniless at the time of emancipation, now possessed of large property. He knew of one man buying six hundred acres of land, and of another renting two thousand acres. One white planter told him he had seven properties, and a black man managed each of them, and said he would rather have a black man for honesty and integrity than the usual order of white men employed in these avocations. There were idle, wicked people, and badness in the towns, but not so much as in New York or London; and in the mountains they would find as orderly, well conducted, and decent a peasantry, as anywhere in the world. The population engaged in sugar cultivation was not the best, and the thought that business was not favourable, morally and spiritually, to the people. For their interest he doubted whether that culture should be encouraged. Before emancipation a majority of their church leaders were managers and drivers on the estates; now that class did not constitute a tenth part of their number. People of the best class would not engage in sugar cultivation, when they could make much more upon their own extensive holdings, for there were in the island fifty or sixty thousand black freeholders. Almost the only class who were accumulating money were the negroes. The planters could not get labour for the reason that the people could make more at home, and a large labour emigration into Jamaica would be necessary even to extend sugar cultivation. Emancipation, then, whether regarded from a religious or a social point of view, had not been a failure. The planters were not what they used to be, and to the people it had been an unmixed good. The present Governor of Jamaica told him he would select that island of all places to show the beneficent results of emancipation. On the mountains and beautiful valleys of Jamaica, and under the shade of its mangoe trees, might be found thousands of men and women, not only Christians, but upright and honourable, and striving to elevate themselves and their children. All their faults came from slavery, and all their virtues from emancipation, and he looked forward to the time when, under God's blessing, all the faults would disappear and only the virtues remain."
It is an opinion often expressed here that slavery is merely objectionable
on account of the "idea" or the name of the thing, that slaves are better treated, and in a better condition, than the poorer classes in this country, and that therefore they ought to be well satisfied with the position in which they are placed. If it be granted that in some few cases, they are better fed and clothed, I would appeal to the poorest Englishman living, and ask if he be willing to change his position, though it be one of "poverty, hunger, and dirt," for that of the best fed and best clothed slave in America? when he remembers that a slave cannot legally marry or have children born to him, that he and all he has are the property of his employer, that his wife remains his only during the pleasure of his owner, and that his sisters and daughters will merely be used as a means of increasing the slave population.
Yes, horrible as it may sound to "ears polite," it is no less horrible than true, that there are in America regular establishments for the express and professed purpose of breeding slaves, and, as the result, there are annually born in Maryland 30,000, in Virginia 40,000, and in Kentucky and other places, proportionate numbers of children to the inheritance of slavery, and to a life of misery and degradation.
Such a system as this, at once so barbarous and so immoral, would not be tolerated in despotic Russia, but is sanctioned and allowed in republican America. It would be detested as an abomination by the ignorant and uncivilized natives of Africa, but it is regarded as a national institution by the refined and intellectual people of Christian America, in a land where their professed love of liberty is so great that they have the word stamped upon their coinage.
A system so abhorrent to every feeling of common decency and humanity could not have an existence amongst the superstitious and unenlightened heathens of India, but it lives and flourishes in the land of "revivals" and awakenings.
My readers will perhaps to some extent sympathise with me in this matter, when I tell them that I have seen my own sisters sold for this vile purpose, and at a time, too, when my aged mother was tottering on the brink of the grave, having just lived long enough to witness the shame and dishonour of her daughters. Though I was myself a slave, ann my limbs in thraldom, my soul was unfettered and unenslaved, and, slave as I was, senseless animal as I was considered, my feeliugs were such that I would rather, a thousand times rather, have seem them laid in their graves than condemned to such a fate. But alas! my case was not a solitary one. There are thousands of my race whose hearts are being daily torn with similar misfortunes.
Perhaps, however, the most horrible phase in this horrible system is the fact that it is no unfrequent occurrence for slave masters to sell
their own children, simply because the mothers of those children, though they have been treated as their wives, are their slaves. But what can we think of the conscience, of the heart, of the common humanity, of the man who will sacrifice his own offspring for the sake of filthy lucre, who will sell his own flesh and blood in order to fill his pocket.
I am happy, however, to be able to say, that though it is no uncommon thing still for religious people to be the owners of slaves, there has been a division amongst the Methodists, and no less than 400,000 followers of Mr. Wesley, disgusted and indignant at this degrading and iniquitous system, have formed a distinct society, determined no longer to be connected with a slave-trading church, and the example of the noble band has been followed by other denominations of Christians.
The Hon. Chas. Sumner, of Massachusetts, who was so brutally struck down in the Senate four years ago, by Mr. Brooks, of South Carolina, revenged himself lately, in the same body, in the first speech which he has delivered since the oration which caused the former assault. This speech has attracted much attention, and is considered to have diminished the chances of the republican candidate. The following extract may be taken as a specimen of the whole:--
"Look at it in the light of principle, and it is nothing less than a huge insurrection against the eternal law of God, involving in its pretensions the denial of all human rights, and also the divine law, in which God himself is manifest, thus being practically the grossest lie and the grossest atheism. Founded in violence, sustained only by violence, such a wrong must by a sure law of compensation blast the master as well as the slave; blast the lands on which they live; blast the community of which they are a part; blast the government which does not forbid the outrage; and the longer it exists and the more completely it prevails must its blasting influence penetrate the whole social system. Barbarous in origin; barbarous in its law; barbarous in all its pretensions; barbarous in the instruments it employs; barbarous in consequences; barbarous in spirit; barbarous wherever it shows itself, slavery must breed barbarians, while it developes everywhere, alike in the individual, and in the society of which he forms a part, the essential elements of barbarism In this character it is now conspicuous before the world. In undertaking now to expose the barbarism of slavery, the whole broad field is open before me. There is nothing in its character, its manifold wrongs, its wretched results, and especially its influence on the class who claim to be 'ennobled' by
it, that will not fall naturally under consideration. Slavery is a bloody touch-me-not, and everywhere in sight now blooms the bloody flower. It is on the wayside as we approach the national capitol; it is on the marble steps which we mount; it flaunts on this floor. I stand now in the house of its friends. About me, while I speak, are its most sensitive guardians, who have shown in the past how much they are ready either to do or not to do where slavery is in question. Menaces to deter me have not been spared. But I should ill deserve this high post of duty here, with which I have been honoured by a generous and enlightened people, if I could hesitate. Idolatry has been often exposed in the presence of idolaters, and hypocrisy has been chastised in the presence of scribes and pharisees."
In the United States Senate Mr. Sumner has presented a petition praying for --the Repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law; the Abolition of Slavery in the district of Columbia; and the Prohibition of the Inter-state Slave Trade.
The following is a veritable copy of a bill of sale contracted between the parties whose names are appended, at a time when New York was under the British government.
Know all men by these presents that I Mary Pell, widow of Samuel Pell, of the city of New York, deceased, and Miss Hester Pell, for and in consideration of the sum of £80 current money of the province of New York to me in hand paid, at and before the ensealing and delivery of these presents, by Col. William Cockroft, the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, and myself to be therewith fully satisfied, contented, and paid, have granted, bargained, sold, released, and by these presents do fully, clearly, and absolutely grant, bargain, sell, and release unto the said Col. Wm. Cockroft, his heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, a negro man named York, aged about thirty years, to have and to hold the said negro man named York unto the said Col. Wm. Cockroft, his executors, administrators, and assigns, for ever. And I the said Mary Pell, for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, do covenant and agree to and with the above named Col. Wm. Cockroft, his executors, administrators, and assigns, to warrant and defend the sale of the above named negro man named York against all persons whatsoever. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-seventh day of August, anno Domini 1772. Signed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of
HENRY VAN, WEEK,
HENRY W. PERRY.
MARY X [her mark] PELL,
RECEIPT.--New York, the 27th day of August, 1772. Received of the within named Col. W. Cockcroft the within mentioned sum of eighty
pounds, New York money, as a full acknowledgment for the within named negro man York. As witness our hands,
HENRY VAN WEEK,
HENRY W. PERRY.
MARY X [her mark] PELL,
The above bill of sale was lent to me when lecturing at Heckmondwike by T. B. Oldfield, Esq., surgeon, of that place, who procured it from his father, Thomas Oldfield, Esq., of Stock Lane, near Halifax, amongst whose family papers the bill of sale was found some years ago. Colonel Cockcroft was connected with the Oldfield family, and it was thus the document came into their possession. The colonel being in the army which was stationed in the colonies previous to their being declared independent of England, bought the negro, and brought him to England. He remained with the colonel till his death, and was a very faithful and attached servant. After the colonel's death, the negro lived with another branch of the family, and died much respected, at a venerable age.
The following is a quotation from a pamphlet written by Mr. Henry Whiteley, of Heckmondwike, who presented it to me. It is a record of what he himself saw whilst resident in the West Indies. "The first of these two cases was that of a married woman, the mother of several children. She was brought up to the overseer's door one morning, and one of the drivers accused her of having stolen a fowl. The overseer asked her if she would pay for it. She said something in reply which I did not clearly understand. The question was repeated, and a similar reply given. The overseer then said 'put her down.' On this the woman set up a shriek, and rent the air with her cries of terror. Her countenance grew quite ghastly, and her lips became pale and livid. The woman craved permission to tie some covering round her nakedness, which she was allowed to do. She was then extended on the ground, and held down by two negroes. Her gown and shift were literally torn from her back, and thus brutally exposed, she was subjected to the cart whip. The punishment inflicted on this poor creature was inhumanly severe. She writhed and twisted her body violently under the infliction, moaning loudly, but uttering no exclamation in words except once, when she cried out entreating that her nakedness might not be indecently exposed; appearing to suffer from matronly modesty even more on account of her indecent exposure, than the cruel laceration of her body.
"I numbered the lashes, stroke by stroke, and counted fifty,--thus exceeding by eleven the number allowed by the law. This poor victim was shockingly lacerated. When permitted to rise she again shrieked violently. The overseer swore roughly, and threatened if she was not quiet to put her down again. He then ordered her to be taken to the hospital, and put in the stocks, where she was to be confined for several nights, working in the yard during the day.
"The flogging of an old man, about 60 years of age, is the last case I shall mention. He was the third driver upon the estate. He came up to the overseer's door at shell blow one day, and gave in, as is the practice, his account of the half day's work of the gang he superintended. The overseer was dissatisfied with the quantity, and ordered him to get a thrashing. The old man, groaning deeply, laid down his staff and whip, and lay quietly down to be flogged, without being held. The driver who had been called to flog him appeared very reluctant to perform his office, but on the overseer swearing a rough oath or two, he proceeded to inflict the usual punishment of thirty-nine lashes. When the punishment was over, and the poor man arose, the other drivers looked at each other and shook their heads, but dared not utter a word.
"The cart whip, when wielded by a vigourous arm, gives forth a loud report, which, without any exaggeration, may be likened to the report of a small pistol. I have often heard it distinctly at two miles distance in the open air."
It will be seen from the extracts what was the nature of slavery in the West Indies; and from my own experience and observation, I can affirm that slavery in America is equally bad; if possible, worse. As an illustration I may mention a circumstance which came under my own notice. A young girl was sold for 1800 dollars, for the vilest purpose,--the breeding of slaves, by her own father, John T. H. Worthington, who was a member of Congress. She, however, was a pious girl, having been converted through the instrumentality of the Rev. Dr. Newton, when he was in that country, and she declared she would not submit to the purpose for which she was sold, but would retain her virtue, thought it cost her her life. So brutal were the feelings of her owners, that a wager was actually laid that she would be beaten into submission; but her oppressors overshot their mark, and flogged her so severely that she died, and I was with her in her last hour on earth, when she was laid upon a bed of straw.
I am happy, however, to be able to say that she left behind her a bright testimony that she was going to that Saviour from whom it is impossible for all the American laws, and opinions, and prejudices
combined, to keep back the soul which has been saved by His precious blood, and whose trust is in Him.
Through the heroic and untiring exertions of that noble band of men, Wilberforce, Clarkson, and Buxton, and the philanthropic Englishmen who backed their efforts by their influence and prayers, 800,000 slaves were liberated, at a cost to this country of twenty millions of money, and as Lamartine (the French author) well remarks of William Wilberforce, "that immortal Englishman spent forty years in advocating the rights of his fellow creatures, and at last ascended to the gates of heaven, bearing with him a million of broken chains as an emblem of freedom, and a well spent life."
The following was kindly supplied to me by the Rev. Jas. Sanders, rector of Ripponden, Yorkshire.
The following painful instance of this was a few years since related to the writer by a clergyman who had been for many years chaplain of the Christian Knowledge Society, on the Codrington estates, in the island of Jamaica. Calling one day upon a friend, the clergyman of a neighbouring parish, he went to see his church and churchyard. Whilst there he stood upon the grave of a young lady recently interred. Her father was an eminent planter and merchant: he had married a Creole, that is a native descended from European parents, or what is regarded as half-caste, and by whom he had the aforesaid daughter. At an early age she was sent to England for education, and confided to the guardianship of a wealthy and influential merchant in the city of London. She was placed out for several years at a first-rate ladies' establishment, and every accomplishment was taught in the way of music, dancing, language, & c. Her vacations were spent in the family of her guardian, by whom she was introduced to some of the best London society, and among whom she was always kindly treated,--just as an English lady. When her education was completed, and she had attained the golden age of eighteen, the time came for her return home. An intelligent, amiable, and most accomplished young person, her English friends parted from her with deep regret. After being at home a few weeks, she observed to her mamma that "none of the white gentry of the neighbourhood had called upon the family to give her the welcome home;" with stifled feelings the reply was, "you see, my love, unfortunately for you, your father married a person of African descent; the white gentry never notice me, they will never notice you; none but people such as I am will visit us, and you must
make up your mind to be excluded from such society as you have been accustomed to associate with." The thought of having to spend her life under such exclusion was too much for her sensitive mind, and the result was, that she sickened and died in a fortnight after the humiliating and melancholy announcement had been made. And oh! how humiliating and melancholy is the reflection that these things should be! Good and gracious God, who hast made of one blood all the families of mankind, made them in Thine own image, capable of knowing, loving, and serving Thee in the gospeI of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ here, and to bask for ever in Thy favour hereafter, to be associated in the employments and enjoyments of Thy redeemed church, and the bright and holy intelligences that minister in Thy presence, hasten that day when such cruel pride of blood and colour shall be unknown, when through the principles of Christ's holy gospel, and the benign influences of the Holy Ghost, Christianity shall rise up in giant-like might, and battle down such cruel prejudices, and unite the whole family of mankind in oné holy, loving brotherhood. Amen.
In all parts of America, free as well as slave states, the coloured people, be they slaves or freemen, receive no protection from the law; and there is no inducement held out for them to attempt to excel in anything, and no reward for any success they may obtain. They cannot send their children to a public school, nor get them taught a respectable trade, by which they can earn their living, and if a slave, having lived and worked hard for sixty or seventy years, until he can work no longer, requires a shelter for his head in his old age, the workhouse door--open to the most debased and degraded--is closed against him, and he is left to die in the street like a dog.
The benevolent and religious people in America contribute annually large sums in order to send the gospel to the heathen, to the African, the Hindoo, or the Turk, but not a cent of their money do they spend in attempting to remove the spiritual darkness of the slave. And not only so, but it is no unfrequent occurrence for slaves to be sold in order to raise money to purchase Bibles for their missionary enterprises.
Even in the free states of America coloured people cannot mingle with the congregations of any place of worship; if they attend at all, they are boxed off into separate compartments by themselves. But the prejudice against them is so intensely strong in some places, that there are clauses in the deeds of some of the churches, burial grounds, theatres, public parks, & c., expressly prohibiting any coloured person from entering them. Amongst the churches which can boast of this exclusiveness I may mention the Holy Trinity Church, in Broadway, New York, where there is a permanent notice that "no coloured person
shall enter." If any one wants this statement authenticating, I would refer them to the Rev. Mr. Bull, rector of St. Thomas' Church, Birmingham, who will substantiate what I have said.
Even in the church of the Rev. Baron Stow, an eminent evangelical minister in Boston, the same odious distinction is maintained.
The following, in illustration of what I have said, is an extract from the annual report of the Leeds Anti-Slavery Society, for 1859:--
The visits of ministers and clergymen to this country, who in America support and defend slavery, are of not uncommon occurrence, and the alacrity with which they are received and welcomed here is one of the most painful difficulties which English Abolitionists have to encounter. We may get up extensive meetings, make large speeches, and create great sensation in the minds of slave-holders by our avowed Anti-Slavery principles, but all will be in vain if the avowed supporters of slavery find a place in our homes, our pulpits, and upon our public platforms. Every American visitor to our shores should be asked, "Do you discountenance Slavery?" Every American Minister should be asked, "Does your church discountenance Slavery?" and unless this question be satisfactorily answered, without equivocation, the hand of fellowship should be withheld. Your Committee have felt the importance of watching this outpost of English Anti-Slavery work, and have therefore devoted much attention to the prosecution of this work. Another American gentleman, of very questionable antecedents, who recently paid a visit to England, is the Rev. Baron Stow, a Baptist Minister of Boston, Massachusetts. This gentleman is well known to the Baptists of Britain. In 1833, the London Board of Baptist Ministers, sent over to the American Baptist Triennial Convention a protest against slavery. This was received by the Rev. Baron Stow, as Secretary of that body, who on behalf of the Baptist Board returned a secret reply. This reply was unknown to the American Baptist Ministers until it was received in London, and published in the London papers, and afterwards copied into a proslavery American newspaper. Immediately upon its being published in America, a second convention was held in Boston, and another memorial adopted and forwarded to England, signed by upwards of 180 Baptist Ministers. The letter by Baron Stow did not reflect much credit upon himself or the Board he represented in this matter. But this is not all. It will be remembered that in the Free States of the American Union, there exists a rank prejudice against coloured people. This is but an offshoot of the spirit of slavery, and is the
means of causing the free coloured population much mental suffering. It has been asserted, and proved to be true, that in the pew-deeds of Baron Stow's church, there is a clause to the effect that "none but respectable white persons" should be permitted to occupy pews in that church. Now, there may be respectability in such a document (which is exceedingly questionable), but there can certainly be little Christianity where a man is forbidden to listen to truths which concern his eternal welfare, because God has been pleased to bless him with a skin of darker hue than his neighbour. Baron Stow's congregation have doubtless often contributed to send the gospel to India, but the Hindoo convert is a far higher pattern of Christian purity than they, for in confessing Christ he breaks the chains of caste for ever, and is found side by side with those whom he once despised, "sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind;" a position which Baron Stow and his "respectable white" congregation have yet to occupy. These facts being made known to the London Board of Baptist Ministers, a committee of enquiry was at once instituted for the purpose of examining those charges. Upon the formation of this committee, Baron Stow immediately left London for the U. S., unknown to many of his friends. The report of the committee is as follows:
Report of a Committee appointed by a Special Meeting held October 18th, 1859 (pursuant to a requisition signed by eight of the members, August 30th), "to consider how we may best avoid giving countenance to complicity with SLAVERY: the question to have immediate reference to the Rev. Baron Stow, D.D., of Boston, now (Aug. 30th) in this country, and to the other Baptist ministers coming from America."
Presented to the Board at its Quarterly Meeting, Jan. 31st, 1860.
Your committee have given close attention to the important question entrusted to them, and have collected a large amount of evidence thereupon.
Your committee find that Dr. Baron Stow is a minister of high standing and character, an amiable and godly man, an active member and a director of several religious societies, and therefore exerts considerable influence. They regret to add, however, that while there is proof that his convictions are against slavery, his influence is given in the opposite direction.*
Your committee have obtained from members of Dr. Stow's congregation, two copies of the pew-deed of his chapel, containing the objectionable provision that the said pews shall be sold to none but "respectable white persons." They find that during the eleven or twelve years of his present pastorate, in the course of which considerable reforms in favour of the
coloured population have been effected in Boston, and even since his return from England, he has not attempted to displace from the theory and practice of the society over which he presides this unchristian restriction, notwithstanding that for ten years past it has been repeatedly commented upon by the local press. His preaching and social intercourse, it appears, have not tended to teach his hearers the impropriety of such a rule.
Your committee find also that Dr. Stow is not known in America as an opponent of Slavery; that he has never preached nor published in favour of the emancipation of the enslaved millions of his countrymen; that he is not associated with any abolitionists as such, but discountenances all antislavery efforts, whether by Christians or so-called "infidels;" and that he is known as the associate and co-worker of those who oppose abolition. Your committee are grieved to add, that in all this Dr. Stow is not singular; for the same is true of hundreds of ministers in the Northern States.
Dr. Baron Stow, your committee find, is connected with the management of the New York American Tract Society, the American Baptist Missionary Union, the Southern Aid Society, and various other societies, all of which, they believe, are disfigured by refusing to pronounce slavery a sin, and to recognise slaves as proper objects of missionary effort; by making no provision against slaveholders being members and officers, not considering fellowship with that class of transgressors an inconsistency; and by positively declining and discountenancing all anti-slavery action.
When, in the early part of 1859, the Boston "American Tract Society" resolved upon a merely proximate anti-slavery action by "discussing in a fraternal and Christian spirit those moral duties which grow out of the existence of slavery, as well as those moral evils which it is known to promote," your committee have learned that Dr. Baron Stow resigned his seat at the Board thereof, which he had occupied for years, and that he retains his place in the directory of the New York Society of the same name, which resolutely ignores that manifold iniquity, mutilates publications by expunging every word that might offend the man-stealer, and even refuses to denounce as sinful the proposed revival by America of the African slave-trade.
Therefore your committee do not approve of Dr. Baron Stow representing himself, when in this country, as being a decidedly anti-slavery man, a declaration which describes one who favours more or less actively the abolition of slavery, and which, they think, admits of no other definition.
With reference to other ministers from the Umited States, your committee recommend that no one be received as an anti-slavery man except he disavows fellowship with slaveholders, both in a Church relationship and in the benevolent and religious societies with which he co-operates; and except also he disavows prejudice against colour, that barbarous iniquity which manifests itself in "negro pews," and separate communion at the table of the Lord, as well as in colleges, schools, hotels, railway trains, steam boats, and private life. Your committee beg to urge the requirement of this twofold disavowal, because they deem this only to be a sufficient test of sincerity in the case; because by this means only will complicity with the enormity in question be fully rebuked; and because
they are assured that the adoption of this test in this country will greatly facilitate the doom of slavery in that noble but shackled Republic.
Signed on behalf of the Committee,
W. A. BLAKE,
In closing my little book, I cannot but contrast the conduct of the religious people here with that of those in America, who have lately acquired (by the reports which have reached England of their revivals) a very high character for sanctity and devotion.
Here, in free, happy old England, I can worship in the noblest cathedral in the land, "None daring to make me afraid;" and in all matters, both civil and religious, I feel myself on an equality with others. And when I come to contrast my present position in England with what it used to be, and with what my brethren's in America now is, I am so elated with the absolute freedom I enjoy, that I feel that I can defend old England, as the home of the oppressed, the refuge of the persecuted, and as the freest and happiest land under heaven, against all her traducers.
If we coloured people believed the religious teachings of the Americans to be true, we could only look upon God as unjust and cruel in assigning to us such a degraded position amongst our fellow-men; but tracing our present down trodden condition, not to the will of God, but to the wickedness of man, and remembering the words of him who said, "He that saith he loveth God, and hateth his brother, is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also."--1 John, chapter iv., verse 20--so we look beyond our present state of wretchedness and misery, straight through this vale of tears, up to the throne of the Eternal, assured that we shall all at last meet with justice at Jehovah's bar, and believing, as I trust many of us do, that there is laid up for us an inheritance amongst the saints in light, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give us at that day.
Whilst I have had the privilege of travelling through Great Britain, I have, by the blessing of God, been enabled by my humble endeavours to convince thousands of the horrors of slavery, and I trust, if God spares my life, still to lift up my voice, wherever I can get men to hear me, against this diabolical and accursed system.
But in spite of the present gloomy aspect of affairs, I believe and fervently trust that a brighter day is dawning for the oppressed slave. Already, thousands of Americans are stretching out their hands, to redeem him from bondage, and the slow but gradual change of public feeling in America, coupled with the exertions of Dr. Livingstone, and
other eminent missionaries, for the emancipation of the African, inspires the hope that ere long the deliverance for which we have been so long waiting and praying, really draweth nigh, and that soon our eyes may behold what our hearts have so ardently longed for.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.--Revelations, c. 22, v. 18, 19.
Ethiopia, stretch, oh, stretch thy bleeding hands abroad,
Thy cries of agony shall find and have redress from God.
Referring again to the cruelties practised on the coloured people in America, I may quote a remark of the late Thomas Jefferson, an ex-President of the United States, and himself an owner of slaves. He says, in reference to slavery, "I tremble for my country, when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep for ever." Such being the language of a slave owner, shows very clearly that the people of America do not commit this sin in the dark, but are perfectly conscious, even when they are perpetrating it, of the enormity of the crime. Even this man, speaking as he did, sold his own daughters (which he had by his slaves) for the vilest of purposes.
Although the English people have been made so well acquainted by scores of travellers with America, its scenery and its people, and though thousands of Englishmen cross and re-cross the Atlantic every year, yet the condition of the free negro in the free cities, seems in a great measure to have escaped the observation of those by whom the country has been described, and his social condition is therefore almost unknown.
A few words concerning their conditions, supplied by a friend who has visited the States, may not be out of place.
"In the city of New York, one of the most generously disposed to negroes of the cities of the union, the social position of the African is the very lowest; and the lowest it must be so long as the vast distinction is maintained between a white and coloured skin which exists at present. The most important of these distinctions is this. Black children cannot attend the same school as that where white men's children are educated. This alone is surely sufficient to keep the condition of the black far below that of his white skinned neighbour. There is no law which prevents a coloured man's child from attending
the white man's school, but there is the certainty to the schoolmaster that every white child will be withdrawn if he gives admittance to a negro,--there is bigotry, which is stronger than law.
"The distinction commenced with the child, continues with the man; he is considered so immeasurably beneath the white man, that he must not even sit in the same car, omnibus, or railroad car, and cars may be seen in the streets of New York on which is printed in letters, 'coloured people allowed to ride in this car;' they are kindly provided with one on the railway, which serves also as the smoking car for the white gentlemen.
"I recollect once speaking to a very sensible New York gentleman on the subject, and he told me he would rather go without his dinner any or every day, than sit at the same table as a black man; he had no objection, however, to be waited on by a negro, but indeed considered that as about his only proper place.
"The treatment received by the blacks at the hands of the whites induces or enforces the former to occupy a separate part of the city, where they may at least know and feel that they are not held as inferior beings by their neighbours, and so much do they confine themselves to the locality in which they live, that although there are in New York some thousands of coloured men and women, there are few more to be seen in the principal thoroughfares than in the streets of Liverpool.
"They are occupied as waiters, hairdressers, and cooks, in the hotels, and as coachmen and butlers in private families, some also follow the trades of shoemaker, tailor, & c., but the majority are employed in connection with the shipping, as carmen and labourers; but be their employment what it may, the terrible distinction is kept up, and renders almost impossible any rise in their station.
"Even the great leveller death does not level entirely the difference between black and white, and the poor negro, who during his life has endured the scorn and scoffs of his fair skinned brethren, is after death, in many cases, not even allowed to rest in the same clay as his oppressor. For this end clauses used to be inserted (I do not know if they are still in new churches and cemeteries) in the church deeds, prohibiting black men to enter the church, or their corpses to be interred within their inclosure."
At a meeting held in Islington Wesleyan Rooms, in September, 1852, John Ratcliffe, Esq., F.A.S., in the chair (after a thrilling and deeply interesting lecture from Mr. James Watkins, on American Slavery, in which he gave a narrative of his own sufferings and
subsequent escape), the following resolution was unanimously adopted by a very large meeting:--Moved by Mr. R. F. Sturges, and seconded by Mr.--, "That this meeting expresses its sympathy with Mr. Watkins; and rejoices that, in the providence of God, he has been safely brought to this happy land: and it further declares it is the duty of every Englishman to take all legal means for the expression of opinion upon the infamous slave law of America; and especially to insist upon holding no fellowship with any church that sanctions slavery in any of its cruel and wicked forms." R. F. STURGES.
At a meeting held in St. Paul's Princess Park National School, on Monday evening, July 12th, 1858; the Rev. Dyson Rycroft, sen. curate, in the chair; after a deeply interesting and stirring lecture, delivered by Mr. James Watkins, on the evils of slavery, as it exists in America, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:--"That this meeting expresses its sympathy with Mr. Watkins, and rejoices that, in the providence of God, he has been safely brought to this happy land: and it further declares, that it is the duty of every Englishman to take all legal means for the expression of opinion upon the infamous slave law of America, especially to insist upon holding no fellowship with any church which sanctions slavery in any of its cruel and wicked forms."
The Rev. DYSON RYCROFT, Chairman.
Ruthin, North Wales, Jan. 14th, 1859.
Slavery is the sequence of sin,--sin is its ungovernable pilot, uncontrollable master, possessor, and oppressor. Serfs, serfdom, slaves and slavery, exist only where tyrants uphold their "diminished heads," and sway their unhallowed sceptres. Whether existing in the frigid clime of Siberia, or flourishing in that boasted land of liberty o'er which the "star spangled banner waves on high," slavery is a curse, contrary to our accepted notions of godliness, of justice, or of humanity. The blood of our common nature, as the descendants of Adam, pursues its course through its channels in its even path, and of as bright a crimson hue as it was when first called ints existence, whether under the protection and cover of the skin of the Albino, or that of the Ethiopian. Let the colour of our skin or of our complexion
or the contour of our features be varied, it matters not to Christianity at large in what quarter of the world where we may be born, I will say that we are all created after one form--the image of our Creator.--J. C. J.
THOMAS CUMPSTON JONES, M.D.;
M.R.C.S., Edin.; L.A.S., Lond.
After a very interesting and stirring address, delivered by Mr. James Watkins, on the cruelties of American Slavery, at Rose Place Chapel, Liverpool, on the 18th October, 1859, Mr. David Lewis in the chair, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:--"That this meeting expresses its sympathy with Mr. Watkins, and greatly rejoices that, through the kind providence of God, he has been brought to Great Britain, the land of liberty; but further declares, that it is the duty of every British subject on the other side of the Atlantic,--aye, and on this side of the Atlantic too,--to do all in their power to hasten the time when slavery shall be banished from the face of the earth; and not to relax in their exertions until the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea. And this meeting further indulges a hope that the time is not far distant when those states where slavery now exists, will be induced, as Great Britain has done, to adopt means for washing away this great stain on their national humanity and national honour.
"Haste, happy day,--that time we long to see,
When every son of Adam shall be free."
DAVID LEWIS, Chairman.
Lord Carlisle, on rising, was received with vehement applause, after which he proceeded to observe that he had really hoped his public functions for the year 1858 had come to an end, but he felt bound at once to surrender at discretion, when he received a summons from the Leeds Young Men's Anti-Slavery Society to attend there that evening. (Hear, hear.) There were various incentives to his attending that meeting. First, there was the locality--the place in which they were assembled--the town of Leeds--(hear, hear)--which had witnessed and won many an uphill fight in the good cause of human progress. (Applause.) Next, there were those of whom the society was composed, the young men of Leeds. (Hear, hear.) He could not help
remembering that the first time he ever addressed any large assembly of his countrymen was in Leeds, in the Coloured Cloth Hall, and that in the first moments of shyness and nervousness, he was cheered by some one crying out from the crowd, "Good lad." (Laughter and applause.) Now, he stood before them a grey-headed man, and he felt that it was on the young men of Leeds they must mainly rely for ardour of feeling and vigour of will, in the prosecution of any great object. (Hear, hear.) Above all was the incentive arising from the purpose for which the society was constituted. It was an Anti-Slavery Society, and this he firmly and potently believed to be the most important, the most elevating, and the holiest of causes which could enlist the feelings, the convictions, or the conscience of mankind. (Applause.) In accordance with that view he had been asked to move the following resolution:--
"That freedom being the gift of God, it is the inalienable right of every man: that to deprive a man of this right is contrary to all laws, human or Divine; and that therefore we regard slavery as an unmitigated evil, demanding the condemnation of every human being who respects the laws of God, or recognises the principle of natural justice or the equal rights of man."
In those days of his early canvass to which he had alluded, animated by the recollection that he was aspiring to fill the seat which had been long occupied by William Wilberforce--(applause)--animated by the actual presence and colleagueship of Henry Brougham, who was devoting his great talents (probably then at their highest pitch of excellence) mainly to this great cause--thus animated and encouraged, he called upon the men of Yorkshire, by voice and vote, to hasten the day when, in their own colonial possessions, the slave should kneel down and thank heaven for its best blessing, and spring again from the ground without a chain and without a master. (Applause.) Well, in a short time afterwards, (the late Mr. Cobbett saying that it was principally in consequence of the fuss made about it by the cracked-skull county of York)--(laughter)--so far as British agency and British partipation in this accursed property were concerned, slavery received its death-blow. (Hear, hear.) Then our hands, thanks be to the Almighty goodness, our own hands were entirely clean. (Hear, hear.) Why then, it might be asked, did the young men of Leeds and of other towns feel themselves called upon to constitute Anti-Slavery Associations, and to hold anti-slavery meetings? It might not be an imperative duty, but of this he was certain, it was a righteous exhibition of feeling and a graceful act of sympathy. (Applause.) They were not there to learn how large an extent of the country of a
kindred people in the United States of America--in how large a portion of that immense continent--slavery still prevailed; they knew it prevailed to an extent fearful to contemplate. He did not affect on that account, however, to draw up any bill of indictment against the American nation; he did not presume to assert that the system was incompatible either with the name of a Briton or the faith of a Christian. Their own complicity had been too recent to make him feel himself authorised to be the person to make that charge, however much inherent truth there might be in it. (Hear, hear.) He could not erase from his knowledge that it was the mother country that originally inoculated her offspring with the pest, and he felt conscious that in early life many of his own acquaintances held property in man. On the other hand, he knew that there were now across the wide Atlantic a noble brotherhood, aye, and a noble sisterhood,--(applause) who were straining every nerve; who were devoting time, opportunity, and health; who were sacrificing station, popularity, power--nay, who were perilling limb and life--who had caught the mantle of our own Clarksons, Wilberforces, Broughams, and Buxtons, and who were entering upon that costly career of self-devotion and self-sacrifice, to do the same work and achieve the same result. (Loud applause.) Everything that had recently reached them from the United States tended to show that a crisis was approaching, if it had not already come. (Hear, hear.) The leaven was fermenting, effervescing fast and hot. The struggle became every day more intense, more fierce, more pervading. Had not some of them read lately instances of the treatment of slaves which transcended even the usual depth of blackness and horror? Had they not seen what was perhaps a sort of indication still more to be relied upon, that there had been a convention of the State of Maryland, to decree that after a certain period all free blacks were to be banished from the State? (Hear, hear.) When he was in the United States, seventeen years ago, he remembered being much struck with the circumstance that, whereas in this country the great abolitionist leaders were almost always held in honour and spoken of with respect, even by those who might not feel much sympathy with their views, in the United States he never heard the abolitionists spoken of except in-terms of slight and of contempt. (Hear, hear.) He imagined that this was now very greatly altered. The abolitionists had become in the eyes of their opponents more formidable if not more acceptable. They excited fear, hatred, rage, but no longer contempt. (Hear, hear.) Slaveholders had attacked his much-valued friend, Charles Summer--(applause)--as he sat quietly and unsuspectingly in his seat in the Senate-house of his country, and nearly took away his life, and
then they presented the executioner with votive canes and commemorative cudgels. Battery, assault, mutilation, and murder were indications of hostility, of alarm, and of consternation, but not of indifference and contempt. (Applause.) Depend upon it the cause was making real and palpable and daily progress. (Hear, hear.) It entered now into every phase of public, social, and domestic life; the decisions of the courts of law teemed with it; it was a matter of comment, either as being adverted to, or as being omitted in the teachings of the pulpit; it entered almost into every election, the great staple of American existence; it affected the election of members of congress, of senators, of governors of states; and might, perhaps, before long, affect even the selection of the President of the Union. Under these circumstances he did not wish that the voice of sympathy, and hope, and encouragement, even from their old Europe, their old England, aye, and their old Yorkshire, might not be wholly wanting. (Applause.) It might also be of importance to Europe and to England. (Hear, hear.) They had already been reminded by the mayor that indications had not been wanting in the great neighbouring nation of France that the claims of liberty, which were not treated with inviolable respect in the interior relations of that country--(hear, hear)--might also meet with but scant observance in its exterior relations. (Applause.) He did not touch upon the question as to the lawfulness of the ships and cruizers of this country ascertaining the bond fide character of other vessels--whether they might be engaged under the lawful flag of their country, or were merely piratical and slave-carrying vessels? That question might for the moment be involved in some embarrassment, which he should be sorry by any observations of his to increase, especially as he could not tell exactly and precisely how it stood; but he must say that some of the abolitionists of the United States themselves, in speaking of this question last year, and of the part this country had taken, did not evince much generosity or much gratitude for the efficient part which Great Britain had always taken in every measure for the suppression of the slave trade. (Applause.) Whatever this country, however, did for that great--he had almost said that godlike purpose--it had not in view the thanks or gratitude of man, and it might pass well without them (hear, hear); but he did feel anxious that the demonstration of the feelings which animated their countrymen on this class of subjects, and which was evidenced by their society, should serve to show their own rulers, their own parliament, the nation, and mankind at large, that in all the essential questions relating to slavery or the slave trade, they would be true to themselves, and true to the great part which
their fathers played in this immortal cause. (Applause.) Most fervent, indeed, was his hope, that the present display of the spirit that was within them might even make itself felt and known across the wide world of waters, amongst those where this cause was still only militant, and had not yet become triumphant. (Applause.) There was a sublime notion connected with the laws of sound, which he believed Mr. Babbage had most impressively mentioned in one of his works, namely, that all sound whatever, even the lightest word which escaped their lips, was never wholly lost, but was so impelled by the undulations of the air, or whatever medium it might be, as to leave its impress through all space, and during all time. Such a notion seemed to invest all their utterances with new and undreamt of responsibilities. The very youngest amongst them had been startled by the marvellous facts of electrical communication, and he asked them only to figure to themselves that, by a chain of communications and sympathies still more to be relied upon than that great Atlantic cable which still lay submerged at the bottom of the deep, they were from their town-hall that night wafting across the mighty ocean, even to those rugged steeps once trod by the pilgrim fathers, even to those wide-spread plains where. Washington unfurled the standard of independence, or, to present the reverse of the picture, to the rice swamp, the sugar plantation, and the slave mart, where the slave still toiled and bled, and was sold afresh,--that they were wafting from this real land of liberty to that still subsisting home of slavery, the accents of their sympathy with the abolitionists, their pity for the slave, their allegiance to the undying cause of freedom. (Loud applause.)
Mr. E. Baines said that, as a Leeds man, he was proud those beautiful roofs had echoed the noble voices and the nobler sentiments which had been lifted up and expressed that evening. (Hear, hear.) He felt grateful to the young men of this Anti-Slavery Society for having called them together, and he trusted that with whatever degree of feebleness their society commenced, or whatever degree of feebleness might still attend it, they would continue to labour, under the conviction that the battle of freedom once begun, could never ultimately be defeated, and that if they only persevered, they might win the same noble triumphs which had been won in this cause, within the personal knowledge of many then present. (Applause.) After the admirable speeches which had been delivered, and knowing that there were others to follow eminently entitled to address them on such a subject, he should only detain them with a few sentences. In doing so he must express his warm sympathy with them in this cause. He was one of those plain Yorkshiremen, who had, what Mr. Cobbett called, the crack in
the brain on behalf of freedom; and not only the crack in the brain but the crack in the heart, which he hoped he should carry with him to his dying day. (Loud applause.) The resolution he had to move was as follows:--"That recognising the universal brotherhood of mankind, and that 'God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell in the earth,' we are called (so far as in our power lies) to remove and evil which interferes with the interests of our fellow men; and that, considering slavery a great social evil, we are justified in using every moral and legitimate means for its overthrow, wherever it exists."
He wished, he said, only to utter one or two words of encouragement to this society. The source of one of these was derived from the personal testimony of distinguished members of the Anti Slavery body in the United States of America. He could well believe that many reflecting Englishmen would ask these questions--"Can we do any good by expressing our opinions, by associating ourselves together, by passing resolutions, and by sending letters with reference to this subject? May we not do even more harm than good,--may we not excite prejudice on the other side of the Atlantic, by meddling with that which does not belong to us,--may we not excite prejudice amongst those who are only too sensitive with respect to anything from England?" He had been very anxious for many years to ascertain what was his own duty with regard to this matter, and he had felt that he could not better do so than by conversing with distinguished members of the Anti-Slavery body whom he might meet with, and asking their opinion as to the duty of England on this subject, He had never therefore met with any of those honoured men without conferring with them on this subject. The last of these men was the Honourable Charles Sumner, whom he had the pleasure of meeting at the table of his friend Mr. Forster, and they put to him this question--"Can we help you by the expression of our opinion?" The answer of Mr. Sumner, like the answer of Mrs. Stowe, like the answer of Mrs. Chapman, like the answer of other distinguished persons from Ohio, from Massachusetts, from New York, and from States still more remote, was this--"You can help us. You do a great deal more good than harm. You don't do much harm in creating additional prejudice on the part of the upholders of slavery, but you do immense good by holding up our hands and strengthening the hearts of the enemies of slavery, who need all your sympathy, all your encouragement, and all your prayers, on their behalf." (Applause.) It was, therefore, with the assurance of such men, so illustrious in this good cause, and who had every possible claim upon their co-operation
and sympathy, that he was strengthened in the belief that their moral influence would help them; and he concurred most heartily in the sentiments of the noble earl as to the inevitable effect of the moral influence of England upon the people of the United States of America. (Applause.) The second reason why he wished to address to this and similar societies throughout the country a word of encouragement was this. He had recently had the pleasure of meeting with a gentleman from Massachusetts, who had all his life been engaged in the great combat with slavery--a member of what was called "the underground railway," by which slaves were passed from the slave states to the only place where they could be secure--the British frontier of Canada. (Applause.) That gentleman, with whom he had a long conversation, gave him the most encouraging assurance with regard to the mighty step taken in the triumph of freedom in Kansas. He said that Kansas was a territory so placed, that it must give either a vast stride for liberty, or a vast stride for slavery. That stride had been given for liberty, and now that that had been secured, it would be not only a step forward, but a fulcrum upon which they could place their lever, and by which they could accelerate the progress of liberty still further, and to an extent greater than they had ever before dared to hope. (Hear, hear.) Many present would know that there were societies throughout New England for the purpose of promoting the emigration of those who were desirous of migrating from that comparatively over-peopled part of the States, to the vast wilderness of woods lying beyond the great Mississippi. These societies had sent many thousands of persons into the territory of Kansas, who, when they had got there, had proved themselves to be the majority of the people of that State, and the gentleman to whom he had referred said--"I can assure you there is vastly more power on the part of free men to send emigrants to a new state, than on the part of slave-holders or supporters of slavery. It is an exceedingly difficult thing for the slaveowner to move from the old slave states, and carry his slaves with him, into thinly populated territories, for, notwithstanding the boasted attachment of the slave to his master, and his contentment, they are very apt, when the opportunity occurs, to give their owners the slip, and free themselves from the bonds in which they are held." He had also from that gentleman the opinion that with regard to those territories lying in the wilderness--Nebraska and the states lying thousands of miles beyond the Mississippi in the direction of the Pacific--there was a much stronger disposition on the part of the men of the North to people them with free men, and to give them free institutions, than there was on the part of the slaveholders of the South to people
them with slaveholders and with slaves. (Hear, hear.) The effect of their sympathy in this country, continued Mr. Baines, was to encourage those who promoted that all-important emigration of freemen from the North into the back woods and territories of the West, and to support them in their arduous but noble effort to spread liberty in such a way as to hem in the old slave-holding states of the South; and thus, in process of time, there would be the strong probability that in several of the old slave states slavery would die out--that it would die a natural death. (Hear, hear.) In this way they would see a constant growth of freedom, and the friends of this society had the pleasure of contributing to the spread of that inestimable boon, and of aiding in the establishment of freedom in the vast country lying between the Atlantic and the Pacific. (Applause.)
The efforts of James Watkins in this country have been attended with great success--success because he represents in himself a standing monument of the injustice of American institutions towards his class, and Englishmen sympathise with him. His lectures are full of interest, and his claims to the sympathies of the public are abundant. I trust that whilst he stays in this country he may never have cause to regret the want of kindness and good fellowship towards him from all classes of the people.
ABEL HEYWOOD.Manchester, Feb. 6, 1859.
I have heard with much interest James Watkins deliver his lecture on slavery, a system the characteristics of which he portrays with considerable force and feeling. Having seen something of that American "institution" I can testify to the fidelity of Mr. Watkins's statements, from personal observations in the United States; and the hope is cherished that as a true and living Christianity prevails amongst the people of that great country, the principle of equal rights, civil and religious, will be acquired and established, without respect to creed, or the colour of the skin.
Manchester, Sept. 13, 1860.
Oh! our countrymen in chains;
The whip on woman's shrinking flesh,
Our soil still reddened with her blood,
Cut from her scourges warm and fresh.
This song was composed while George Latimer, the fugitive slave, was confined Leverett-street Jail, Boston, expecting to be carried back to Virginia, by James Gray, his claimant. THOMAS HOLLAND. Over Lane, Windsford, Cheshire, Feb. 27, 1856.
ABEL HEYWOOD, PRINTER, 58, OLDHAM STREET, MANCHESTER.
What! mothers from their children riven!
God's own image bought and sold!
Americans to market driven,
And bartered, as the brutes, for gold!
RESCUE THE SLAVE.
Sadly the fugitive weeps in his cell,
Listen awhile to the tale we tell;
Listen, ye gentle ones; listen, ye brave;
Lady fair, lady fair, weep for the slave.
Praying for liberty, dearer than life;
Torn from his little ones, torn from his wife;
Flying from slavery, hear him and save;
Christian men, Christian men, help the poor slave.
Think of his agony, think of his pain,
Should his hard master e'er hold him again.
Spirit of Liberty! rise from your grave,
Make him free, make him free,--rescue the slave.
Freely the slave master goes where he will,
Freemen stand ready his wish to fulfil,
Helping the tyrant, the honest, or knave,
Thinking not, caring not, for the poor slave.
Talk not of Liberty!--Liberty's dead;
See the slave master's whip over our head;
Stooping beneath it, we ask what he craves:
Boston boys, Boston boys, catch me my slaves.
Freemen, arouse ye, before 'tis too late,
Slavery is knocking at every gate!
Making good the promise your early days gave:
Boston boys, Boston boys, catch not the slave.
LINES ADDRESSED TO MR. JAMES WATKINS
THE FUGITIVE SLAVE.
Welcome stranger! welcome stranger,
To this land of liberty!
Welcome from thy recent danger,
We will lend our aid to thee.
Welcome! from those sunny plains,
From the throng, and cruel mart,
From the lash, and heavy chains,
Scenes that e'en would rend the heart.
Welcome! from those scenes of sadness;
Weep not for the sad "farewell,"
Breath'd to those thou left in sadness:
Come! in Freedom's land to dwell.
Welcome! let not mere reflection
Rend thy heart, nor cause a tear;
Pray for those of tried affection,
Firm throughout each fleeting year.
What though thou on earth may'st never
More embrace those ever dear;
Tho' compell'd from them to sever,
Live in faith,--dispel all fear.
There's a home, if they believe in
Him who brought thee to our shore,
Where, if cleansed from all their sin,
They shall dwell for evermore!
Wide o'er the tremulous sea
The moon spread her mantle of light,
And the gale gently dying away
Breathed soft on the bosom of night.
On the forecastle Maratan stood,
And pour'd forth his sorrowful tale;
His tears fell unseen in the flood,
His sighs died unheard in the gale.
"Oh, wretch!" in wild anguish he cried,
"From country and liberty torn!
Oh, Maratan, would thou hadst died,
Ere o'er the salt waves thou wert borne.
"Thro' the groves of Angola I strayed,
Love and hope made my bosom their home,
Then I talk'd with my favourite maid,
Nor dreamt of the sorrow to come.
"From the thicket the man-hunter sprung,
My cries echoed loud through the air;
There was fury and wrath on his tongue:
He was deaf to the voice of despair.
"Flow, ye tears, down my cheeks ever flow,
Still let sleep from my eyelids depart,
And still may the arrows of woe
Drink deep from the stream of my heart.
"But hark! o'er the silence of night
My Adela's accents I hear!
And mournful beneath the wan light,
I see her loved image appear.
"Slow o'er the smooth ocean she glides,
As the mist that hangs light on the wave,
And fondly her partner she chides,
Who lingers so long from his grave.
" 'Oh, Maratan, haste thee,' she cries,
'Here the reign of oppression is o'er;
The robber is robbed of his prize,
And Adela sorrows no more.'
"Now sinking amidst the dim ray,
Her form seems to sink from my view--
Oh stay thee, my Adela, stay--
She beckons, and I must pursue.
"To-morrow the white man in vain
Shall proudly account me his slave,
My shackles I plunge in the main,
And rush to the realms of the brave."
THE BLIND SLAVE BOY.
"Come back to me, mother, why linger away
From thy poor blind boy the long weary day?
I mark every footstep, I list to each tone,
And wonder my mother should leave me alone.
There are voices of sorrow and voices of glee,
But there's no one to joy or sorrow with me,
For each has of pleasure and trouble his share,
And none for the poor little blind boy will care.
"My mother, come back to me, close to thy breast
Once more let the poor little blind one be press'd;
Once more let me feel thy warm breath on my cheek,
And hear thee in accents of tenderness speak.
Oh, mother, I've no one to love me,--no heart,
Can bear like thy own in my sorrow a part;
No hand is so gentle, no voice is so kind,
Oh none like a mother can cherish the blind."
Poor blind one! no mother thy wailing can hear,
No mother can hasten to banish thy fear,
For the slave owner drives her o'er mountain and wild,
And for one paltry dollar hath sold the poor child.
Ah! who can in language of mortals reveal
The anguish that none but a mother can feel,
When man, in his vile lust for Mammon, hath trod
On her child who is stricken and smitten of God?
Blind, helpless, forsaken, with strangers alone,
She hears in anguish his piteous moan,
As he eagerly listens, he listens in vain,
To catch the loved tones of his mother again:
The curse of the broken in spirit shall fall
On the wretch who hath mingled his wormwood with gall,
And his gains like a mildew shall blight and destroy
Who hath torn from his mother the little blind boy.
THE SLAVE'S DREAM.
Beside the ungathered rice he lay,
With sickle in his hand;
His breast was bare--his matted hair
Was buried in the sand.
Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,
He saw his native land.
Wide through the landscape of his dreams
The lordly Niger flowed;
Beneath the palm trees on the plain
Once more a king he strode;
And heard the tinkling caravans
Descend the mountain road.
He saw once more his dark-eyed queen,
Among her children stand;
They clasp'd his neck--they kiss'd his cheek--
They held him by the hand!--
A tear burst from the sleeper's lids,
And fell upon the sand.
And then with furious speed he rode
Along the Niger's banks--
His bridle reins were golden chains,
And with a martial clank
At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel
Smiting his stallion's flank.
Before him like a blood-red flag
The bright flamingoes flew;
From morn till night he followd their flight
O'er plains where the tamarind grew,
Till he saw the roots of Caffre huts,
And the ocean rose to view.
At night he heard the lion's roar--
And the hyena scream;
And the river horse, as he crushed the reeds
Beside some hidden stream.
And it passed like a glorious roll of drums
Through the triumph of his dream.
The forests with their myriad tongues
Shouted of Liberty;
And the blast of the desert cried aloud
With a voice so wild and free,
That he started in his sleep and smiled
At their tempestuous glee.
He did not feel the driver's whip,
Nor the burning heat of day;
Death had illum'ed the land of sleep,
And his lifeless body lay
A worn-out fetter, that the soul
Had broken and thrown away.
"A Christian, going, gone;
Who bids for God's own image? For His grace,
Which this poor victim of the market-place
Hath, in her sufferings, won?
My God, can such things be?
Hast Thou not said that whatsoe'er is done
Unto Thy meekest and Thine humblest one
Is even done to Thee?
A Christian up for sale!
Wet with her blood your whips; o'ertask her frame,
Make her life loathsome with your wrong and shame,
Her patience will not fail!
God of all right, how long
Shall priestly robbers at Thine altar stand,
Lifting in prayer to Thee the bloody hand,
And haughty brow of wrong.
Oh, from the fields of cane,
From the low rice swamp, and the trader's cell,
From the black slave ship's foul and loathsome hell,
And coffle's weary chain--
Hoarse, horrible, and strong,
Rises to heaven the agonizing cry,
Filling the arches of the sky:
How long, oh God, how long?"
AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF THE MEETINGS
HELD BY MR. WATKINS,
Together with the names of the gentlemen who presided at them.
THE MORNING DREAM.
'Twas in the glad season of spring,
Asleep at the dawn of the day,
I dream'd what I cannot but sing,
So pleasant it seemed as I lay.
I dream'd that on ocean afloat,
Far hence to the westward I sail'd,
While the billows high-lifted the boat,
And the fresh-blowing breeze never fail'd.
In the steerage a woman I saw,
Such at least was the form that she wore,
Whose beauty impress'd me with awe,
Ne'er taught me by woman before.
She sat, and a shield at her side
Shed light, like a sun on the waves,
And, smiling divinely, she cried--
"I go to make freemen of slaves."
Then raising her voice to a strain
The sweetest that ear ever heard,
She sung of the slave's broken chain,
Wherever her glory appear'd.
Some clouds, which had over us hung,
Fled, chas'd by her melody clear,
And methought while she liberty sung.
'Twas liberty only to hear.
Thus swiftly dividing the flood,
To a slave cultur'd island we came,
Where a demon, her enemy, stood--
Oppression his terrible name.
In his hand, as the sign of his sway,
A scourge hung with lashes he bore,
And stood looking out for his prey
From Africa's sorrowful shore.
But soon as approaching the land
That goddess-like woman he view'd,
The scourge he let fall from his hand,
With blood of his subjects imbru'd.
I saw him both sicken and die,
And the moment the monster expir'd,
Heard shouts that ascended the sky,
From thousands with rapture inspir'd.
This song was composed while George Latimer, the fugitive slave, was confined Leverett-street Jail, Boston, expecting to be carried back to Virginia, by James Gray, his claimant.
Over Lane, Windsford, Cheshire, Feb. 27, 1856.
ABEL HEYWOOD, PRINTER, 58, OLDHAM STREET, MANCHESTER.
ABEL HEYWOOD, PRINTER, 58, OLDHAM STREET, MANCHESTER.