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NARRATIVE

OF THE

LIFE

OF

FREDERICK DOUGLASS

AN

AMERICAN SLAVE.

--------------WRITTEN
BY HIMSELF.
--------------


BOSTON
PUBLISHED AT THE ANTI-SLAVERY OFFICE
NO. 25 CORNHILL
1845

NARRATIVE
OF THE LIFE OF
FREDERICK DOUGLASS
AN AMERICAN SLAVE

WRITTEN BY HIMSELF

ENTEREDACCORDING TO ACT OF CONGRESS
IN THE YEAR 1845
BY FREDERICK DOUGLASS
IN THE CLERK'S OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT COURT
OF MASSACHUSETTS.

PREFACE

In the month of August1841I attended an antislavery
convention in Nantucketat which it was
my happiness to become acquainted with FREDERICK
DOUGLASSthe writer of the following Narrative. He
was a stranger to nearly every member of that body;
buthaving recently made his escape from the southern
prison-house of bondageand feeling his curiosity
excited to ascertain the principles and measures of
the abolitionists--of whom he had heard a somewhat
vague description while he was a slave--he was induced
to give his attendanceon the occasion alluded
tothough at that time a resident in New


Bedford.

Fortunatemost fortunate occurrence!--fortunate
for the millions of his manacled brethrenyet panting
for deliverance from their awful thraldom!--fortunate
for the cause of negro emancipationand of
universal liberty!--fortunate for the land of his birth
which he has already done so much to save and bless!
--fortunate for a large circle of friends and acquaintances
whose sympathy and affection he has strongly
secured by the many sufferings he has enduredby
his virtuous traits of characterby his ever-abiding
remembrance of those who are in bondsas being
bound with them!--fortunate for the multitudesin
various parts of our republicwhose minds he has
enlightened on the subject of slaveryand who have
been melted to tears by his pathosor roused to
virtuous indignation by his stirring eloquence against
the enslavers of men!--fortunate for himselfas
it at once brought him into the field of public usefulness
gave the world assurance of a MAN,quickened
the slumbering energies of his souland consecrated
him to the great work of breaking the rod
of the oppressorand letting the oppressed go free!

I shall never forget his first speech at the convention--
the extraordinary emotion it excited in my own
mind--the powerful impression it created upon a
crowded auditorycompletely taken by surprise--the
applause which followed from the beginning to the
end of his felicitous remarks. I think I never hated
slavery so intensely as at that moment; certainlymy
perception of the enormous outrage which is inflicted
by iton the godlike nature of its victimswas
rendered far more clear than ever. There stood one
in physical proportion and stature commanding and
exact--in intellect richly endowed--in natural eloquence
a prodigy--in soul manifestly "created but a
little lower than the angels"--yet a slaveaya fugitive
slave--trembling for his safetyhardly daring to
believe that on the American soila single white
person could be found who would befriend him at
all hazardsfor the love of God and humanity! Capable
of high attainments as an intellectual and
moral being--needing nothing but a comparatively
small amount of cultivation to make him an ornament
to society and a blessing to his race--by the law
of the landby the voice of the peopleby the terms
of the slave codehe was only a piece of propertya
beast of burdena chattel personalnevertheless!

A beloved friend from New Bedford prevailed on
Mr. DOUGLASS to address the convention: He came
forward to the platform with a hesitancy and embarrassment
necessarily the attendants of a sensitive
mind in such a novel position. After apologizing for
his ignoranceand reminding the audience that slavery
was a poor school for the human intellect and
hearthe proceeded to narrate some of the facts in
his own history as a slaveand in the course of his
speech gave utterance to many noble thoughts and
thrilling reflections. As soon as he had taken his
seatfilled with hope and admirationI roseand
declared that PATRICK HENRYof revolutionary fame


never made a speech more eloquent in the cause of
libertythan the one we had just listened to from
the lips of that hunted fugitive. So I believed at
that time--such is my belief now. I reminded the
audience of the peril which surrounded this selfemancipated
young man at the North--even in Massachusetts
on the soil of the Pilgrim Fathersamong
the descendants of revolutionary sires; and I appealed
to themwhether they would ever allow him
to be carried back into slavery--law or no lawconstitution
or no constitution. The response was unanimous
and in thunder-tones--"NO!" "Will you succor
and protect him as a brother-man--a resident of the
old Bay State?" "YES!" shouted the whole mass
with an energy so startlingthat the ruthless tyrants
south of Mason and Dixon's line might almost have
heard the mighty burst of feelingand recognized
it as the pledge of an invincible determinationon
the part of those who gave itnever to betray him
that wandersbut to hide the outcastand firmly to
abide the consequences.

It was at once deeply impressed upon my mind
thatif Mr. DOUGLASS could be persuaded to consecrate
his time and talents to the promotion of the
anti-slavery enterprisea powerful impetus would
be given to itand a stunning blow at the same time
inflicted on northern prejudice against a colored
complexion. I therefore endeavored to instil hope
and courage into his mindin order that he might
dare to engage in a vocation so anomalous and responsible
for a person in his situation; and I was
seconded in this effort by warm-hearted friendsespecially
by the late General Agent of the Massachusetts
Anti-Slavery SocietyMr. JOHN A. COLLINS
whose judgment in this instance entirely coincided
with my own. At firsthe could give no encouragement;
with unfeigned diffidencehe expressed his
conviction that he was not adequate to the performance
of so great a task; the path marked out was
wholly an untrodden one; he was sincerely apprehensive
that he should do more harm than good.
After much deliberationhoweverhe consented to
make a trial; and ever since that periodhe has acted
as a lecturing agentunder the auspices either of the
American or the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.
In labors he has been most abundant; and his success
in combating prejudicein gaining proselytesin agitating
the public mindhas far surpassed the most
sanguine expectations that were raised at the commencement
of his brilliant career. He has borne himself
with gentleness and meeknessyet with true
manliness of character. As a public speakerhe excels
in pathoswitcomparisonimitationstrength of
reasoningand fluency of language. There is in him
that union of head and heartwhich is indispensable
to an enlightenment of the heads and a winning of
the hearts of others. May his strength continue to
be equal to his day! May he continue to "grow in
graceand in the knowledge of God that he may
be increasingly serviceable in the cause of bleeding
humanity, whether at home or abroad!

It is certainly a very remarkable fact, that one of


the most efficient advocates of the slave population,
now before the public, is a fugitive slave, in the
person of FREDERICK DOUGLASS; and that the free
colored population of the United States are as ably
represented by one of their own number, in the person
of CHARLES LENOX REMOND, whose eloquent
appeals have extorted the highest applause of multitudes
on both sides of the Atlantic. Let the calumniators
of the colored race despise themselves for
their baseness and illiberality of spirit, and henceforth
cease to talk of the natural inferiority of those
who require nothing but time and opportunity to
attain to the highest point of human excellence.

It may, perhaps, be fairly questioned, whether any
other portion of the population of the earth could
have endured the privations, sufferings and horrors
of slavery, without having become more degraded
in the scale of humanity than the slaves of African
descent. Nothing has been left undone to cripple
their intellects, darken their minds, debase their
moral nature, obliterate all traces of their relationship
to mankind; and yet how wonderfully they have
sustained the mighty load of a most frightful bondage,
under which they have been groaning for centuries!
To illustrate the effect of slavery on the white
man,--to show that he has no powers of endurance,
in such a condition, superior to those of his black
brother,--DANIEL O'CONNELL, the distinguished
advocate of universal emancipation, and the mightiest
champion of prostrate but not conquered Ireland,
relates the following anecdote in a speech delivered
by him in the Conciliation Hall, Dublin, before the
Loyal National Repeal Association, March 31, 1845.
No matter said Mr. O'CONNELL, under what
specious term it may disguise itselfslavery is still
hideous. ~It has a naturalan inevitable tendency to
brutalize every noble faculty of man.~ An American
sailorwho was cast away on the shore of Africa
where he was kept in slavery for three yearswasat
the expiration of that periodfound to be imbruted
and stultified--he had lost all reasoning power; and
having forgotten his native languagecould only utter
some savage gibberish between Arabic and English
which nobody could understandand which
even he himself found difficulty in pronouncing. So
much for the humanizing influence of THE DOMESTIC
INSTITUTION!" Admitting this to have been an extraordinary
case of mental deteriorationit proves at
least that the white slave can sink as low in the
scale of humanity as the black one.

Mr. DOUGLASS has very properly chosen to write
his own Narrativein his own styleand according
to the best of his abilityrather than to employ some
one else. It isthereforeentirely his own production;
andconsidering how long and dark was the career
he had to run as a slave--how few have been his
opportunities to improve his mind since he broke his
iron fetters--it isin my judgmenthighly creditable
to his head and heart. He who can peruse it without
a tearful eyea heaving breastan afflicted spirit-without
being filled with an unutterable abhorrence
of slavery and all its abettorsand animated with a


determination to seek the immediate overthrow of
that execrable system--without trembling for the
fate of this country in the hands of a righteous God
who is ever on the side of the oppressedand whose
arm is not shortened that it cannot save--must have
a flinty heartand be qualified to act the part of a
trafficker "in slaves and the souls of men." I am confident
that it is essentially true in all its statements;
that nothing has been set down in malicenothing
exaggeratednothing drawn from the imagination;
that it comes short of the realityrather than overstates
a single fact in regard to SLAVERY AS IT IS.
The experience of FREDERICK DOUGLASSas a slave
was not a peculiar one; his lot was not especially
a hard one; his case may be regarded as a very fair
specimen of the treatment of slaves in Marylandin
which State it is conceded that they are better fed
and less cruelly treated than in GeorgiaAlabama
or Louisiana. Many have suffered incomparably
morewhile very few on the plantations have suffered
lessthan himself. Yet how deplorable was his
situation! what terrible chastisements were inflicted
upon his person! what still more shocking outrages
were perpetrated upon his mind! with all his noble
powers and sublime aspirationshow like a brute
was he treatedeven by those professing to have the
same mind in them that was in Christ Jesus! to what
dreadful liabilities was he continually subjected! how
destitute of friendly counsel and aideven in his
greatest extremities! how heavy was the midnight of
woe which shrouded in blackness the last ray of hope
and filled the future with terror and gloom! what
longings after freedom took possession of his breast
and how his misery augmentedin proportion as he
grew reflective and intelligent--thus demonstrating
that a happy slave is an extinct man! how he
thoughtreasonedfeltunder the lash of the driver
with the chains upon his limbs! what perils he encountered
in his endeavors to escape from his horrible
doom! and how signal have been his deliverance
and preservation in the midst of a nation of pitiless
enemies!

This Narrative contains many affecting incidents
many passages of great eloquence and power; but I
think the most thrilling one of them all is the description
DOUGLASS gives of his feelingsas he stood
soliloquizing respecting his fateand the chances of
his one day being a freemanon the banks of the
Chesapeake Bay--viewing the receding vessels as they
flew with their white wings before the breezeand
apostrophizing them as animated by the living spirit
of freedom. Who can read that passageand be insensible
to its pathos and sublimity? Compressed
into it is a whole Alexandrian library of thought
feelingand sentiment--all that canall that need be
urgedin the form of expostulationentreatyrebuke
against that crime of crimes--making man the property
of his fellow-man! Ohow accursed is that
systemwhich entombs the godlike mind of man
defaces the divine imagereduces those who by creation
were crowned with glory and honor to a level
with four-footed beastsand exalts the dealer in human
flesh above all that is called God! Why should


its existence be prolonged one hour? Is it not evil
only eviland that continually? What does its presence
imply but the absence of all fear of Godall
regard for manon the part of the people of the
United States? Heaven speed its eternal overthrow!

So profoundly ignorant of the nature of slavery
are many personsthat they are stubbornly incredulous
whenever they read or listen to any recital of
the cruelties which are daily inflicted on its victims.
They do not deny that the slaves are held as property;
but that terrible fact seems to convey to their
minds no idea of injusticeexposure to outrageor
savage barbarity. Tell them of cruel scourgingsof
mutilations and brandingsof scenes of pollution
and bloodof the banishment of all light and knowledge
and they affect to be greatly indignant at such
enormous exaggerationssuch wholesale misstatements
such abominable libels on the character of
the southern planters! As if all these direful outrages
were not the natural results of slavery! As if it were
less cruel to reduce a human being to the condition
of a thingthan to give him a severe flagellation
or to deprive him of necessary food and clothing!
As if whipschainsthumb-screwspaddlesbloodhounds
overseersdriverspatrolswere not all indispensable
to keep the slaves downand to give
protection to their ruthless oppressors! As ifwhen
the marriage institution is abolishedconcubinage
adulteryand incestmust not necessarily abound;
when all the rights of humanity are annihilatedany
barrier remains to protect the victim from the fury
of the spoiler; when absolute power is assumed over
life and libertyit will not be wielded with destructive
sway! Skeptics of this character abound in society.
In some few instancestheir incredulity arises
from a want of reflection; butgenerallyit indicates
a hatred of the lighta desire to shield slavery from
the assaults of its foesa contempt of the colored
racewhether bond or free. Such will try to discredit
the shocking tales of slaveholding cruelty which are
recorded in this truthful Narrative; but they will
labor in vain. Mr. DOUGLASS has frankly disclosed
the place of his birththe names of those who
claimed ownership in his body and souland the
names also of those who committed the crimes which
he has alleged against them. His statementstherefore
may easily be disprovedif they are untrue.

In the course of his Narrativehe relates two instances
of murderous cruelty--in one of which a
planter deliberately shot a slave belonging to a neighboring
plantationwho had unintentionally gotten
within his lordly domain in quest of fish; and in the
otheran overseer blew out the brains of a slave who
had fled to a stream of water to escape a bloody
scourging. Mr. DOUGLASS states that in neither of
these instances was any thing done by way of legal
arrest or judicial investigation. The Baltimore American
of March 171845relates a similar case of
atrocityperpetrated with similar impunity--as follows:--"~
Shooting a slave.~--We learnupon the authority
of a letter from Charles countyMaryland
received by a gentleman of this citythat a young


mannamed Matthewsa nephew of General Matthews
and whose fatherit is believedholds an office
at Washingtonkilled one of the slaves upon his
father's farm by shooting him. The letter states that
young Matthews had been left in charge of the farm;
that he gave an order to the servantwhich was disobeyed
when he proceeded to the house~obtained
a gunandreturningshot the servant.~ He immediately
the letter continuesfled to his father's residence
where he still remains unmolested."--Let it
never be forgottenthat no slaveholder or overseer
can be convicted of any outrage perpetrated on the
person of a slavehowever diabolical it may beon
the testimony of colored witnesseswhether bond
or free. By the slave codethey are adjudged to be
as incompetent to testify against a white manas
though they were indeed a part of the brute creation.
Hencethere is no legal protection in factwhatever
there may be in formfor the slave population; and
any amount of cruelty may be inflicted on them
with impunity. Is it possible for the human mind
to conceive of a more horrible state of society?

The effect of a religious profession on the conduct
of southern masters is vividly described in the following
Narrativeand shown to be any thing but
salutary. In the nature of the caseit must be in
the highest degree pernicious. The testimony of Mr.
DOUGLASSon this pointis sustained by a cloud of
witnesseswhose veracity is unimpeachable. "A slaveholder's
profession of Christianity is a palpable imposture.
He is a felon of the highest grade. He is a
man-stealer. It is of no importance what you put in
the other scale."

Reader! are you with the man-stealers in sympathy
and purposeor on the side of their down-trodden
victims? If with the formerthen are you the foe of
God and man. If with the latterwhat are you prepared
to do and dare in their behalf? Be faithful
be vigilantbe untiring in your efforts to break every
yokeand let the oppressed go free. Come what may
--cost what it may--inscribe on the banner which
you unfurl to the breezeas your religious and political
motto--"NO COMPROMISE WITH SLAVERY! NO
UNION WITH SLAVEHOLDERS!"

WM. LLOYD GARRISON
BOSTON~May~ 11845.

LETTER

FROM WENDELL PHILLIPSESQ.

BOSTONAPRIL 221845.

My Dear Friend:

You remember the old fable of "The Man and
the Lion where the lion complained that he should
not be so misrepresented when the lions wrote history."



I am glad the time has come when the "lions
write history." We have been left long enough to
gather the character of slavery from the involuntary
evidence of the masters. One mightindeedrest
sufficiently satisfied with whatit is evidentmust
bein generalthe results of such a relationwithout
seeking farther to find whether they have followed
in every instance. Indeedthose who stare at
the half-peck of corn a weekand love to count the
lashes on the slave's backare seldom the "stuff" out
of which reformers and abolitionists are to be made.
I remember thatin 1838many were waiting for
the results of the West India experimentbefore
they could come into our ranks. Those "results" have
come long ago; butalas! few of that number have
come with themas converts. A man must be disposed
to judge of emancipation by other tests than
whether it has increased the produce of sugar--and
to hate slavery for other reasons than because it
starves men and whips women--before he is ready
to lay the first stone of his anti-slavery life.

I was glad to learnin your storyhow early the
most neglected of God's children waken to a sense
of their rightsand of the injustice done them. Experience
is a keen teacher; and long before you had
mastered your A B Cor knew where the "white
sails" of the Chesapeake were boundyou beganI
seeto gauge the wretchedness of the slavenot by
his hunger and wantnot by his lashes and toilbut
by the cruel and blighting death which gathers over
his soul.

In connection with thisthere is one circumstance
which makes your recollections peculiarly valuable
and renders your early insight the more remarkable.
You come from that part of the country where we
are told slavery appears with its fairest features. Let
us hearthenwhat it is at its best estate--gaze on
its bright sideif it has one; and then imagination
may task her powers to add dark lines to the picture
as she travels southward to that (for the colored
man) Valley of the Shadow of Deathwhere the
Mississippi sweeps along.

Againwe have known you longand can put the
most entire confidence in your truthcandorand
sincerity. Every one who has heard you speak has
feltandI am confidentevery one who reads your
book will feelpersuaded that you give them a fair
specimen of the whole truth. No one-sided portrait
--no wholesale complaints--but strict justice done
whenever individual kindliness has neutralizedfor
a momentthe deadly system with which it was
strangely allied. You have been with ustoosome
yearsand can fairly compare the twilight of rights
which your race enjoy at the Northwith that "noon
of night" under which they labor south of Mason
and Dixon's line. Tell us whetherafter allthe halffree
colored man of Massachusetts is worse off than
the pampered slave of the rice swamps!

In reading your lifeno one can say that we have


unfairly picked out some rare specimens of cruelty.
We know that the bitter dropswhich even you have
drained from the cupare no incidental aggravations
no individual illsbut such as must mingle always
and necessarily in the lot of every slave. They are the
essential ingredientsnot the occasional resultsof
the system.

After allI shall read your book with trembling
for you. Some years agowhen you were beginning
to tell me your real name and birthplaceyou may
remember I stopped youand preferred to remain
ignorant of all. With the exception of a vague description
so I continuedtill the other daywhen
you read me your memoirs. I hardly knewat the
timewhether to thank you or not for the sight of
themwhen I reflected that it was still dangerous
in Massachusettsfor honest men to tell their names!
They say the fathersin 1776signed the Declaration
of Independence with the halter about their necks.
Youtoopublish your declaration of freedom with
danger compassing you around. In all the broad lands
which the Constitution of the United States overshadows
there is no single spot--however narrow or
desolate--where a fugitive slave can plant himself
and sayI am safe.The whole armory of Northern
Law has no shield for you. I am free to say that
in your placeI should throw the MS. into the fire.

Youperhapsmay tell your story in safetyendeared
as you are to so many warm hearts by rare
giftsand a still rarer devotion of them to the service
of others. But it will be owing only to your labors
and the fearless efforts of those whotrampling the
laws and Constitution of the country under their
feetare determined that they will "hide the out-
cast and that their hearths shall be, spite of the
law, an asylum for the oppressed, if, some time or
other, the humblest may stand in our streets, and
bear witness in safety against the cruelties of which
he has been the victim.

Yet it is sad to think, that these very throbbing
hearts which welcome your story, and form your best
safeguard in telling it, are all beating contrary to the
statute in such case made and provided." Go on
my dear friendtill youand those wholike you
have been savedso as by firefrom the dark prisonhouse
shall stereotype these freeillegal pulses into
statutes; and New Englandcutting loose from a
blood-stained Unionshall glory in being the house
of refuge for the oppressed--till we no longer merely
~hide~ the outcast,or make a merit of standing idly
by while he is hunted in our midst; butconsecrating
anew the soil of the Pilgrims as an asylum for the
oppressedproclaim our WELCOME to the slave so
loudlythat the tones shall reach every hut in the
Carolinasand make the broken-hearted bondman
leap up at the thought of old Massachusetts.

God speed the day!

~Till thenand ever~
~Yours truly~


~WENDELL PHILLIPS~

FREDERICK DOUGLASS.

Frederick Douglass was born in slavery as Frederick
Augustus Washington Bailey near Easton in
Talbot CountyMaryland. He was not sure of the
exact year of his birthbut he knew that it was 1817
or 1818. As a young boy he was sent to Baltimore
to be a house servantwhere he learned to read and
writewith the assistance of his master's wife. In
1838 he escaped from slavery and went to New York
Citywhere he married Anna Murraya free colored
woman whom he had met in Baltimore. Soon thereafter
he changed his name to Frederick Douglass.
In 1841 he addressed a convention of the Massachusetts
Anti-Slavery Society in Nantucket and so
greatly impressed the group that they immediately
employed him as an agent. He was such an impressive
orator that numerous persons doubted if he had
ever been a slaveso he wrote NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE
OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. During the Civil War he assisted
in the recruiting of colored men for the 54th
and 55th Massachusetts Regiments and consistently
argued for the emancipation of slaves. After the war
he was active in securing and protecting the rights
of the freemen. In his later yearsat different times
he was secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission
marshall and recorder of deeds of the District of
Columbiaand United States Minister to Haiti. His
other autobiographical works are MY BONDAGE AND
MY FREEDOM and LIFE AND TIMES OF FREDERICK
DOUGLASSpublished in 1855 and 1881 respectively.
He died in 1895.

CHAPTER I

I was born in Tuckahoenear Hillsboroughand
about twelve miles from Eastonin Talbot county
Maryland. I have no accurate knowledge of my age
never having seen any authentic record containing it.
By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of
their ages as horses know of theirsand it is the wish
of most masters within my knowledge to keep their
slaves thus ignorant. I do not remember to have ever
met a slave who could tell of his birthday. They
seldom come nearer to it than planting-timeharvesttime
cherry-timespring-timeor fall-time. A want
of information concerning my own was a source of
unhappiness to me even during childhood. The white
children could tell their ages. I could not tell why I
ought to be deprived of the same privilege. I was
not allowed to make any inquiries of my master concerning
it. He deemed all such inquiries on the part
of a slave improper and impertinentand evidence
of a restless spirit. The nearest estimate I can give
makes me now between twenty-seven and twentyeight
years of age. I come to thisfrom hearing my
master saysome time during 1835I was about
seventeen years old.


My mother was named Harriet Bailey. She was
the daughter of Isaac and Betsey Baileyboth colored
and quite dark. My mother was of a darker
complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather.


My father was a white man. He was admitted to
be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage.
The opinion was also whispered that my master was
my father; but of the correctness of this opinionI
know nothing; the means of knowing was withheld
from me. My mother and I were separated when I
was but an infant--before I knew her as my mother.
It is a common customin the part of Maryland
from which I ran awayto part children from their
mothers at a very early age. Frequentlybefore the
child has reached its twelfth monthits mother is
taken from itand hired out on some farm a considerable
distance offand the child is placed under
the care of an old womantoo old for field labor.
For what this separation is doneI do not know
unless it be to hinder the development of the child's
affection toward its motherand to blunt and destroy
the natural affection of the mother for the child.
This is the inevitable result.

I never saw my motherto know her as suchmore
than four or five times in my life; and each of these
times was very short in durationand at night. She
was hired by a Mr. Stewartwho lived about twelve
miles from my home. She made her journeys to see
me in the nighttravelling the whole distance on
footafter the performance of her day's work. She
was a field handand a whipping is the penalty of
not being in the field at sunriseunless a slave has
special permission from his or her master to the contrary--
a permission which they seldom getand one
that gives to him that gives it the proud name of
being a kind master. I do not recollect of ever seeing
my mother by the light of day. She was with me in
the night. She would lie down with meand get me
to sleepbut long before I waked she was gone. Very
little communication ever took place between us.
Death soon ended what little we could have while
she livedand with it her hardships and suffering.
She died when I was about seven years oldon one
of my master's farmsnear Lee's Mill. I was not allowed
to be present during her illnessat her death
or burial. She was gone long before I knew any thing
about it. Never having enjoyedto any considerable
extenther soothing presenceher tender and watchful
careI received the tidings of her death with
much the same emotions I should have probably
felt at the death of a stranger.

Called thus suddenly awayshe left me without
the slightest intimation of who my father was. The
whisper that my master was my fathermay or may
not be true; andtrue or falseit is of but little consequence
to my purpose whilst the fact remains
in all its glaring odiousnessthat slaveholders have
ordainedand by law establishedthat the children
of slave women shall in all cases follow the condi



tion of their mothers; and this is done too obviously
to administer to their own lustsand make a gratification
of their wicked desires profitable as well as
pleasurable; for by this cunning arrangementthe
slaveholderin cases not a fewsustains to his slaves
the double relation of master and father.

I know of such cases; and it is worthy of remark
that such slaves invariably suffer greater hardships
and have more to contend withthan others. They
arein the first placea constant offence to their
mistress. She is ever disposed to find fault with them;
they can seldom do any thing to please her; she is
never better pleased than when she sees them under
the lashespecially when she suspects her husband
of showing to his mulatto children favors which he
withholds from his black slaves. The master is frequently
compelled to sell this class of his slavesout
of deference to the feelings of his white wife; and
cruel as the deed may strike any one to befor a
man to sell his own children to human flesh-mongers
it is often the dictate of humanity for him to do so;
forunless he does thishe must not only whip them
himselfbut must stand by and see one white son
tie up his brotherof but few shades darker complexion
than himselfand ply the gory lash to his
naked back; and if he lisp one word of disapproval
it is set down to his parental partialityand only
makes a bad matter worseboth for himself and the
slave whom he would protect and defend.

Every year brings with it multitudes of this class
of slaves. It was doubtless in consequence of a knowledge
of this factthat one great statesman of the
south predicted the downfall of slavery by the inevitable
laws of population. Whether this prophecy
is ever fulfilled or notit is nevertheless plain that a
very different-looking class of people are springing up
at the southand are now held in slaveryfrom those
originally brought to this country from Africa; and
if their increase do no other goodit will do
away the force of the argumentthat God cursed
Hamand therefore American slavery is right. If the
lineal descendants of Ham are alone to be scripturally
enslavedit is certain that slavery at the south
must soon become unscriptural; for thousands are
ushered into the worldannuallywholike myself
owe their existence to white fathersand those fathers
most frequently their own masters.

I have had two masters. My first master's name
was Anthony. I do not remember his first name.
He was generally called Captain Anthony--a title
whichI presumehe acquired by sailing a craft on
the Chesapeake Bay. He was not considered a rich
slaveholder. He owned two or three farmsand about
thirty slaves. His farms and slaves were under the
care of an overseer. The overseer's name was
Plummer. Mr. Plummer was a miserable drunkard
a profane swearerand a savage monster. He always
went armed with a cowskin and a heavy cudgel. I
have known him to cut and slash the women's heads
so horriblythat even master would be enraged at
his crueltyand would threaten to whip him if he


did not mind himself. Masterhoweverwas not a
humane slaveholder. It required extraordinary barbarity
on the part of an overseer to affect him. He
was a cruel manhardened by a long life of slaveholding.
He would at times seem to take great pleasure
in whipping a slave. I have often been awakened
at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks
of an own aunt of minewhom he used to tie up
to a joistand whip upon her naked back till she
was literally covered with blood. No wordsno tears
no prayersfrom his gory victimseemed to move
his iron heart from its bloody purpose. The louder
she screamedthe harder he whipped; and where
the blood ran fastestthere he whipped longest. He
would whip her to make her screamand whip her
to make her hush; and not until overcome by fatigue
would he cease to swing the blood-clotted cowskin.
I remember the first time I ever witnessed this horrible
exhibition. I was quite a childbut I well remember
it. I never shall forget it whilst I remember
any thing. It was the first of a long series of such outrages
of which I was doomed to be a witness and a
participant. It struck me with awful force. It was
the blood-stained gatethe entrance to the hell of
slaverythrough which I was about to pass. It was
a most terrible spectacle. I wish I could commit to
paper the feelings with which I beheld it.

This occurrence took place very soon after I went
to live with my old masterand under the following
circumstances. Aunt Hester went out one night-where
or for what I do not know--and happened to
be absent when my master desired her presence. He
had ordered her not to go out eveningsand warned
her that she must never let him catch her in company
with a young manwho was paying attention
to her belonging to Colonel Lloyd. The young man's
name was Ned Robertsgenerally called Lloyd's
Ned. Why master was so careful of hermay be
safely left to conjecture. She was a woman of noble
formand of graceful proportionshaving very few
equalsand fewer superiorsin personal appearance
among the colored or white women of our neighborhood.


Aunt Hester had not only disobeyed his orders in
going outbut had been found in company with
Lloyd's Ned; which circumstanceI foundfrom
what he said while whipping herwas the chief offence.
Had he been a man of pure morals himself
he might have been thought interested in protecting
the innocence of my aunt; but those who knew him
will not suspect him of any such virtue. Before
he commenced whipping Aunt Hesterhe took her
into the kitchenand stripped her from neck to waist
leaving her neckshouldersand backentirely
naked. He then told her to cross her handscalling
her at the same time a d----d b---h. After crossing
her handshe tied them with a strong ropeand led
her to a stool under a large hook in the joistput
in for the purpose. He made her get upon the stool
and tied her hands to the hook. She now stood fair
for his infernal purpose. Her arms were stretched
up at their full lengthso that she stood upon the


ends of her toes. He then said to herNow, you
d----d b---h, I'll learn you how to disobey my
orders!and after rolling up his sleeveshe commenced
to lay on the heavy cowskinand soon the
warmred blood (amid heart-rending shrieks from
herand horrid oaths from him) came dripping to
the floor. I was so terrified and horror-stricken at the
sightthat I hid myself in a closetand dared not
venture out till long after the bloody transaction was
over. I expected it would be my turn next. It was
all new to me. I had never seen any thing like it
before. I had always lived with my grandmother on
the outskirts of the plantationwhere she was put to
raise the children of the younger women. I had therefore
beenuntil nowout of the way of the bloody
scenes that often occurred on the plantation.

CHAPTER II

My master's family consisted of two sonsAndrew
and Richard; one daughterLucretiaand her husband
Captain Thomas Auld. They lived in one
houseupon the home plantation of Colonel Edward
Lloyd. My master was Colonel Lloyd's clerk and
superintendent. He was what might be called the
overseer of the overseers. I spent two years of childhood
on this plantation in my old master's family.
It was here that I witnessed the bloody transaction
recorded in the first chapter; and as I received my
first impressions of slavery on this plantation
I will give some description of itand of slavery as
it there existed. The plantation is about twelve miles
north of Eastonin Talbot countyand is situated
on the border of Miles River. The principal products
raised upon it were tobaccocornand wheat. These
were raised in great abundance; so thatwith the
products of this and the other farms belonging to
himhe was able to keep in almost constant employment
a large sloopin carrying them to market
at Baltimore. This sloop was named Sally Lloyd
in honor of one of the colonel's daughters. My master's
son-in-lawCaptain Auldwas master of the
vessel; she was otherwise manned by the colonel's
own slaves. Their names were PeterIsaacRichand
Jake. These were esteemed very highly by the other
slavesand looked upon as the privileged ones of the
plantation; for it was no small affairin the eyes of
the slavesto be allowed to see Baltimore.

Colonel Lloyd kept from three to four hundred
slaves on his home plantationand owned a large
number more on the neighboring farms belonging to
him. The names of the farms nearest to the home
plantation were Wye Town and New Design. "Wye
Town" was under the overseership of a man named
Noah Willis. New Design was under the overseership
of a Mr. Townsend. The overseers of these
and all the rest of the farmsnumbering over twenty
received advice and direction from the managers of
the home plantation. This was the great business
place. It was the seat of government for the whole


twenty farms. All disputes among the overseers were
settled here. If a slave was convicted of any high
misdemeanorbecame unmanageableor evinced a
determination to run awayhe was brought immediately
hereseverely whippedput on board the sloop
carried to Baltimoreand sold to Austin Woolfolk
or some other slave-traderas a warning to the slaves
remaining.

Heretoothe slaves of all the other farms received
their monthly allowance of foodand their yearly
clothing. The men and women slaves receivedas
their monthly allowance of foodeight pounds of
porkor its equivalent in fishand one bushel of
corn meal. Their yearly clothing consisted of two
coarse linen shirtsone pair of linen trouserslike
the shirtsone jacketone pair of trousers for winter
made of coarse negro clothone pair of stockings
and one pair of shoes; the whole of which could not
have cost more than seven dollars. The allowance
of the slave children was given to their mothersor
the old women having the care of them. The children
unable to work in the field had neither shoes
stockingsjacketsnor trousersgiven to them; their
clothing consisted of two coarse linen shirts per year.
When these failed themthey went naked until the
next allowance-day. Children from seven to ten years
oldof both sexesalmost nakedmight be seen
at all seasons of the year.

There were no beds given the slavesunless one
coarse blanket be considered suchand none but
the men and women had these. Thishoweveris
not considered a very great privation. They find less
difficulty from the want of bedsthan from the want
of time to sleep; for when their day's work in the
field is donethe most of them having their washing
mendingand cooking to doand having few or
none of the ordinary facilities for doing either of
thesevery many of their sleeping hours are consumed
in preparing for the field the coming day;
and when this is doneold and youngmale and
femalemarried and singledrop down side by side
on one common bed--the colddamp floor--each
covering himself or herself with their miserable
blankets; and here they sleep till they are summoned
to the field by the driver's horn. At the sound of
thisall must riseand be off to the field. There
must be no halting; every one must be at his or
her post; and woe betides them who hear not this
morning summons to the field; for if they are not
awakened by the sense of hearingthey are by the
sense of feeling: no age nor sex finds any favor.
Mr. Severethe overseerused to stand by the door
of the quarterarmed with a large hickory stick
and heavy cowskinready to whip any one who was
so unfortunate as not to hearorfrom any other
causewas prevented from being ready to start for
the field at the sound of the horn.

Mr. Severe was rightly named: he was a cruel
man. I have seen him whip a womancausing the
blood to run half an hour at the time; and thistoo
in the midst of her crying childrenpleading for their


mother's release. He seemed to take pleasure in
manifesting his fiendish barbarity. Added to his
crueltyhe was a profane swearer. It was enough to
chill the blood and stiffen the hair of an ordinary
man to hear him talk. Scarce a sentence escaped him
but that was commenced or concluded by some horrid
oath. The field was the place to witness his
cruelty and profanity. His presence made it both
the field of blood and of blasphemy. From the rising
till the going down of the sunhe was cursingraving
cuttingand slashing among the slaves of the field
in the most frightful manner. His career was short.
He died very soon after I went to Colonel Lloyd's;
and he died as he livedutteringwith his dying
groansbitter curses and horrid oaths. His death was
regarded by the slaves as the result of a merciful
providence.

Mr. Severe's place was filled by a Mr. Hopkins.
He was a very different man. He was less cruelless
profaneand made less noisethan Mr. Severe. His
course was characterized by no extraordinary demonstrations
of cruelty. He whippedbut seemed to take
no pleasure in it. He was called by the slaves a good
overseer.

The home plantation of Colonel Lloyd wore the
appearance of a country village. All the mechanical
operations for all the farms were performed here.
The shoemaking and mendingthe blacksmithing
cartwrightingcooperingweavingand grain-grinding
were all performed by the slaves on the home
plantation. The whole place wore a business-like aspect
very unlike the neighboring farms. The number
of housestooconspired to give it advantage
over the neighboring farms. It was called by the
slaves the ~Great House Farm.~ Few privileges were
esteemed higherby the slaves of the out-farmsthan
that of being selected to do errands at the Great
House Farm. It was associated in their minds with
greatness. A representative could not be prouder of
his election to a seat in the American Congress
than a slave on one of the out-farms would be of his
election to do errands at the Great House Farm.
They regarded it as evidence of great confidence reposed
in them by their overseers; and it was on
this accountas well as a constant desire to be out of
the field from under the driver's lashthat they esteemed
it a high privilegeone worth careful living
for. He was called the smartest and most trusty fellow
who had this honor conferred upon him the
most frequently. The competitors for this office
sought as diligently to please their overseersas the
office-seekers in the political parties seek to please
and deceive the people. The same traits of character
might be seen in Colonel Lloyd's slavesas are seen
in the slaves of the political parties.

The slaves selected to go to the Great House Farm
for the monthly allowance for themselves and their
fellow-slaveswere peculiarly enthusiastic. While on
their waythey would make the dense old woods
for miles aroundreverberate with their wild songs
revealing at once the highest joy and the deepest


sadness. They would compose and sing as they went
alongconsulting neither time nor tune. The thought
that came upcame out--if not in the wordin the
sound;--and as frequently in the one as in the other.
They would sometimes sing the most pathetic sentiment
in the most rapturous toneand the most rapturous
sentiment in the most pathetic tone. Into all
of their songs they would manage to weave something
of the Great House Farm. Especially would
they do thiswhen leaving home. They would then
sing most exultingly the following words:-


I am going away to the Great House Farm!

O, yea! O, yea! O!
This they would singas a chorusto words which to
many would seem unmeaning jargonbut which
neverthelesswere full of meaning to themselves. I
have sometimes thought that the mere hearing of
those songs would do more to impress some minds
with the horrible character of slaverythan the reading
of whole volumes of philosophy on the subject
could do.

I did notwhen a slaveunderstand the deep
meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent
songs. I was myself within the circle; so that I neither
saw nor heard as those without might see and
hear. They told a tale of woe which was then altogether
beyond my feeble comprehension; they
were tones loudlongand deep; they breathed the
prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the
bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against
slaveryand a prayer to God for deliverance from
chains. The hearing of those wild notes always depressed
my spiritand filled me with ineffable sadness.
I have frequently found myself in tears while
hearing them. The mere recurrence to those songs
even nowafflicts me; and while I am writing these
linesan expression of feeling has already found its
way down my cheek. To those songs I trace my first
glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character
of slavery. I can never get rid of that conception.
Those songs still follow meto deepen my
hatred of slaveryand quicken my sympathies for
my brethren in bonds. If any one wishes to be impressed
with the soul-killing effects of slaverylet
him go to Colonel Lloyd's plantationandon allowance-
dayplace himself in the deep pine woodsand
there let himin silenceanalyze the sounds that
shall pass through the chambers of his soul--and if
he is not thus impressedit will only be because
there is no flesh in his obdurate heart.

I have often been utterly astonishedsince I came
to the northto find persons who could speak of
the singingamong slavesas evidence of their contentment
and happiness. It is impossible to conceive
of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are
most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the
sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by themonly
as an aching heart is relieved by its tears. At least
such is my experience. I have often sung to drown


my sorrowbut seldom to express my happiness.
Crying for joyand singing for joywere alike uncommon
to me while in the jaws of slavery. The
singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island
might be as appropriately considered as evidence of
contentment and happinessas the singing of a
slave; the songs of the one and of the other are
prompted by the same emotion.

CHAPTER III

Colonel Lloyd kept a large and finely cultivated
gardenwhich afforded almost constant employment
for four menbesides the chief gardener(Mr.
M'Durmond.) This garden was probably the greatest
attraction of the place. During the summer
monthspeople came from far and near--from
BaltimoreEastonand Annapolis--to see it. It
abounded in fruits of almost every descriptionfrom
the hardy apple of the north to the delicate orange
of the south. This garden was not the least source
of trouble on the plantation. Its excellent fruit was
quite a temptation to the hungry swarms of boys
as well as the older slavesbelonging to the colonel
few of whom had the virtue or the vice to resist
it. Scarcely a day passedduring the summerbut
that some slave had to take the lash for stealing fruit.
The colonel had to resort to all kinds of stratagems
to keep his slaves out of the garden. The last and
most successful one was that of tarring his fence
all around; after whichif a slave was caught with
any tar upon his personit was deemed sufficient
proof that he had either been into the gardenor had
tried to get in. In either casehe was severely whipped
by the chief gardener. This plan worked well;
the slaves became as fearful of tar as of the lash.
They seemed to realize the impossibility of touching
TAR without being defiled.

The colonel also kept a splendid riding equipage.
His stable and carriage-house presented the appearance
of some of our large city livery establishments.
His horses were of the finest form and noblest blood.
His carriage-house contained three splendid coaches
three or four gigsbesides dearborns and barouches
of the most fashionable style.

This establishment was under the care of two
slaves--old Barney and young Barney--father and son.
To attend to this establishment was their sole work.
But it was by no means an easy employment; for in
nothing was Colonel Lloyd more particular than in
the management of his horses. The slightest inattention
to these was unpardonableand was visited
upon thoseunder whose care they were placedwith
the severest punishment; no excuse could shield
themif the colonel only suspected any want of
attention to his horses--a supposition which he frequently
indulgedand one whichof coursemade
the office of old and young Barney a very trying one.
They never knew when they were safe from punish



ment. They were frequently whipped when least
deservingand escaped whipping when most deserving
it. Every thing depended upon the looks of the
horsesand the state of Colonel Lloyd's own mind
when his horses were brought to him for use. If a
horse did not move fast enoughor hold his head
high enoughit was owing to some fault of his keepers.
It was painful to stand near the stable-door
and hear the various complaints against the keepers
when a horse was taken out for use. "This horse has
not had proper attention. He has not been sufficiently
rubbed and curriedor he has not been properly
fed; his food was too wet or too dry; he got it
too soon or too late; he was too hot or too cold; he
had too much hayand not enough of grain; or he
had too much grainand not enough of hay; instead
of old Barney's attending to the horsehe had very
improperly left it to his son." To all these complaints
no matter how unjustthe slave must answer
never a word. Colonel Lloyd could not brook
any contradiction from a slave. When he spokea
slave must standlistenand tremble; and such was
literally the case. I have seen Colonel Lloyd make
old Barneya man between fifty and sixty years of
ageuncover his bald headkneel down upon the
colddamp groundand receive upon his naked and
toil-worn shoulders more than thirty lashes at the
time. Colonel Lloyd had three sons--EdwardMurray
and Daniel--and three sons-in-lawMr. Winder
Mr. Nicholsonand Mr. Lowndes. All of these lived
at the Great House Farmand enjoyed the luxury of
whipping the servants when they pleasedfrom old
Barney down to William Wilkesthe coach-driver.
I have seen Winder make one of the house-servants
stand off from him a suitable distance to be touched
with the end of his whipand at every stroke raise
great ridges upon his back.

To describe the wealth of Colonel Lloyd would
be almost equal to describing the riches of Job. He
kept from ten to fifteen house-servants. He was said
to own a thousand slavesand I think this estimate
quite within the truth. Colonel Lloyd owned so
many that he did not know them when he saw them;
nor did all the slaves of the out-farms know him. It
is reported of himthatwhile riding along the road
one dayhe met a colored manand addressed him
in the usual manner of speaking to colored people
on the public highways of the south: "Wellboy
whom do you belong to?" "To Colonel Lloyd replied
the slave. Welldoes the colonel treat you
well?" "Nosir was the ready reply. Whatdoes
he work you too hard?" "Yessir." "Welldon't he
give you enough to eat?" "Yessirhe gives me
enoughsuch as it is."

The colonelafter ascertaining where the slave
belongedrode on; the man also went on about his
businessnot dreaming that he had been conversing
with his master. He thoughtsaidand heard nothing
more of the matteruntil two or three weeks
afterwards. The poor man was then informed by his
overseer thatfor having found fault with his master
he was now to be sold to a Georgia trader. He was


immediately chained and handcuffed; and thus
without a moment's warninghe was snatched away
and forever sunderedfrom his family and friends
by a hand more unrelenting than death. This is the
penalty of telling the truthof telling the simple
truthin answer to a series of plain questions.

It is partly in consequence of such factsthat
slaveswhen inquired of as to their condition and
the character of their mastersalmost universally say
they are contentedand that their masters are kind.
The slaveholders have been known to send in spies
among their slavesto ascertain their views and feelings
in regard to their condition. The frequency of
this has had the effect to establish among the slaves
the maximthat a still tongue makes a wise head.
They suppress the truth rather than take the consequences
of telling itand in so doing prove themselves
a part of the human family. If they have any
thing to say of their mastersit is generally in their
masters' favorespecially when speaking to an untried
man. I have been frequently askedwhen a
slaveif I had a kind masterand do not remember
ever to have given a negative answer; nor did Iin
pursuing this courseconsider myself as uttering what
was absolutely false; for I always measured the kindness
of my master by the standard of kindness set
up among slaveholders around us. Moreoverslaves
are like other peopleand imbibe prejudices quite
common to others. They think their own better than
that of others. Manyunder the influence of this
prejudicethink their own masters are better than
the masters of other slaves; and thistooin some
caseswhen the very reverse is true. Indeedit is
not uncommon for slaves even to fall out and quarrel
among themselves about the relative goodness of
their masterseach contending for the superior goodness
of his own over that of the others. At the very
same timethey mutually execrate their masters
when viewed separately. It was so on our plantation.
When Colonel Lloyd's slaves met the slaves of Jacob
Jepsonthey seldom parted without a quarrel about
their masters; Colonel Lloyd's slaves contending that
he was the richestand Mr. Jepson's slaves that he
was the smartestand most of a man. Colonel Lloyd's
slaves would boast his ability to buy and sell Jacob
Jepson. Mr. Jepson's slaves would boast his ability
to whip Colonel Lloyd. These quarrels would almost
always end in a fight between the partiesand those
that whipped were supposed to have gained the
point at issue. They seemed to think that the greatness
of their masters was transferable to themselves.
It was considered as being bad enough to be a
slave; but to be a poor man's slave was deemed a
disgrace indeed!

CHAPTER IV

Mr. Hopkins remained but a short time in the
office of overseer. Why his career was so shortI
do not knowbut suppose he lacked the necessary


severity to suit Colonel Lloyd. Mr. Hopkins was succeeded
by Mr. Austin Gorea man possessingin
an eminent degreeall those traits of character indispensable
to what is called a first-rate overseer. Mr.
Gore had served Colonel Lloydin the capacity of
overseerupon one of the out-farmsand had shown
himself worthy of the high station of overseer upon
the home or Great House Farm.

Mr. Gore was proudambitiousand persevering.
He was artfulcrueland obdurate. He was just the
man for such a placeand it was just the place for
such a man. It afforded scope for the full exercise
of all his powersand he seemed to be perfectly
at home in it. He was one of those who could torture
the slightest lookwordor gestureon the part of
the slaveinto impudenceand would treat it accordingly.
There must be no answering back to him;
no explanation was allowed a slaveshowing himself
to have been wrongfully accused. Mr. Gore acted
fully up to the maxim laid down by slaveholders-"
It is better that a dozen slaves should suffer under the
lashthan that the overseer should be convictedin
the presence of the slavesof having been at fault."
No matter how innocent a slave might be--it availed
him nothingwhen accused by Mr. Gore of any
misdemeanor. To be accused was to be convicted
and to be convicted was to be punished; the one
always following the other with immutable certainty.
To escape punishment was to escape accusation; and
few slaves had the fortune to do eitherunder the
overseership of Mr. Gore. He was just proud enough
to demand the most debasing homage of the slave
and quite servile enough to crouchhimselfat the
feet of the master. He was ambitious enough to be
contented with nothing short of the highest rank
of overseersand persevering enough to reach the
height of his ambition. He was cruel enough to inflict
the severest punishmentartful enough to descend
to the lowest trickeryand obdurate enough to
be insensible to the voice of a reproving conscience.
He wasof all the overseersthe most dreaded by
the slaves. His presence was painful; his eye flashed
confusion; and seldom was his sharpshrill voice
heardwithout producing horror and trembling in
their ranks.

Mr. Gore was a grave manandthough a young
manhe indulged in no jokessaid no funny words
seldom smiled. His words were in perfect keeping
with his looksand his looks were in perfect keeping
with his words. Overseers will sometimes indulge in
a witty wordeven with the slaves; not so with Mr.
Gore. He spoke but to commandand commanded
but to be obeyed; he dealt sparingly with his words
and bountifully with his whipnever using the
former where the latter would answer as well. When
he whippedhe seemed to do so from a sense of
dutyand feared no consequences. He did nothing
reluctantlyno matter how disagreeable; always at his
postnever inconsistent. He never promised but to
fulfil. He wasin a worda man of the most inflexible
firmness and stone-like coolness.


His savage barbarity was equalled only by the consummate
coolness with which he committed the
grossest and most savage deeds upon the slaves under
his charge. Mr. Gore once undertook to whip one of
Colonel Lloyd's slavesby the name of Demby. He
had given Demby but few stripeswhento get rid
of the scourginghe ran and plunged himself into a
creekand stood there at the depth of his shoulders
refusing to come out. Mr. Gore told him that he
would give him three callsand thatif he did not
come out at the third callhe would shoot him.
The first call was given. Demby made no response
but stood his ground. The second and third calls
were given with the same result. Mr. Gore then
without consultation or deliberation with any one
not even giving Demby an additional callraised
his musket to his facetaking deadly aim at his
standing victimand in an instant poor Demby was
no more. His mangled body sank out of sightand
blood and brains marked the water where he had
stood.

A thrill of horror flashed through every soul upon
the plantationexcepting Mr. Gore. He alone
seemed cool and collected. He was asked by Colonel
Lloyd and my old masterwhy he resorted to this
extraordinary expedient. His reply was(as well as
I can remember) that Demby had become unmanageable.
He was setting a dangerous example to the
other slaves--one whichif suffered to pass without
some such demonstration on his partwould finally
lead to the total subversion of all rule and order
upon the plantation. He argued that if one slave refused
to be correctedand escaped with his lifethe
other slaves would soon copy the example; the result
of which would bethe freedom of the slaves
and the enslavement of the whites. Mr. Gore's defence
was satisfactory. He was continued in his station
as overseer upon the home plantation. His
fame as an overseer went abroad. His horrid crime
was not even submitted to judicial investigation. It
was committed in the presence of slavesand they of
course could neither institute a suitnor testify
against him; and thus the guilty perpetrator of one of
the bloodiest and most foul murders goes unwhipped
of justiceand uncensured by the community in
which he lives. Mr. Gore lived in St. Michael'sTalbot
countyMarylandwhen I left there; and if he
is still alivehe very probably lives there now; and if
sohe is nowas he was thenas highly esteemed
and as much respected as though his guilty soul
had not been stained with his brother's blood.

I speak advisedly when I say this--that killing
a slaveor any colored personin Talbot county
Marylandis not treated as a crimeeither by the
courts or the community. Mr. Thomas Lanmanof
St. Michael'skilled two slavesone of whom he
killed with a hatchetby knocking his brains out. He
used to boast of the commission of the awful and
bloody deed. I have heard him do so laughingly
sayingamong other thingsthat he was the only
benefactor of his country in the companyand that
when others would do as much as he had donewe


should be relieved of "the d----d niggers."

The wife of Mr. Giles Hicksliving but a short
distance from where I used to livemurdered my
wife's cousina young girl between fifteen and sixteen
years of agemangling her person in the most
horrible mannerbreaking her nose and breastbone
with a stickso that the poor girl expired in a few
hours afterward. She was immediately buriedbut
had not been in her untimely grave but a few hours
before she was taken up and examined by the coroner
who decided that she had come to her death
by severe beating. The offence for which this girl
was thus murdered was this:--She had been set
that night to mind Mrs. Hicks's babyand during the
night she fell asleepand the baby cried. Shehaving
lost her rest for several nights previousdid not hear
the crying. They were both in the room with Mrs.
Hicks. Mrs. Hicksfinding the girl slow to move
jumped from her bedseized an oak stick of wood
by the fireplaceand with it broke the girl's nose
and breastboneand thus ended her life. I will not
say that this most horrid murder produced no sensation
in the community. It did produce sensation
but not enough to bring the murderess to punishment.
There was a warrant issued for her arrest
but it was never served. Thus she escaped not only
punishmentbut even the pain of being arraigned
before a court for her horrid crime.

Whilst I am detailing bloody deeds which took
place during my stay on Colonel Lloyd's plantation
I will briefly narrate anotherwhich occurred about
the same time as the murder of Demby by Mr.
Gore.

Colonel Lloyd's slaves were in the habit of spending
a part of their nights and Sundays in fishing for
oystersand in this way made up the deficiency of
their scanty allowance. An old man belonging to
Colonel Lloydwhile thus engagedhappened to get
beyond the limits of Colonel Lloyd'sand on the
premises of Mr. Beal Bondly. At this trespassMr.
Bondly took offenceand with his musket came
down to the shoreand blew its deadly contents
into the poor old man.

Mr. Bondly came over to see Colonel Lloyd the
next daywhether to pay him for his propertyor
to justify himself in what he had doneI know not.
At any ratethis whole fiendish transaction was soon
hushed up. There was very little said about it at all
and nothing done. It was a common sayingeven
among little white boysthat it was worth a halfcent
to kill a "nigger and a half-cent to bury one.

CHAPTER V

As to my own treatment while I lived on Colonel
Lloyd's plantation, it was very similar to that of the
other slave children. I was not old enough to work in


the field, and there being little else than field work
to do, I had a great deal of leisure time. The most
I had to do was to drive up the cows at evening,
keep the fowls out of the garden, keep the front
yard clean, and run of errands for my old master's
daughter, Mrs. Lucretia Auld. The most of my leisure
time I spent in helping Master Daniel Lloyd
in finding his birds, after he had shot them. My
connection with Master Daniel was of some advantage
to me. He became quite attached to me, and
was a sort of protector of me. He would not allow
the older boys to impose upon me, and would divide
his cakes with me.

I was seldom whipped by my old master, and suffered
little from any thing else than hunger and
cold. I suffered much from hunger, but much more
from cold. In hottest summer and coldest winter, I
was kept almost naked--no shoes, no stockings, no
jacket, no trousers, nothing on but a coarse tow linen
shirt, reaching only to my knees. I had no bed. I
must have perished with cold, but that, the coldest
nights, I used to steal a bag which was used for carrying
corn to the mill. I would crawl into this bag,
and there sleep on the cold, damp, clay floor, with
my head in and feet out. My feet have been so
cracked with the frost, that the pen with which I
am writing might be laid in the gashes.

We were not regularly allowanced. Our food was
coarse corn meal boiled. This was called MUSH. It
was put into a large wooden tray or trough, and set
down upon the ground. The children were then
called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they
would come and devour the mush; some with oystershells,
others with pieces of shingle, some with naked
hands, and none with spoons. He that ate fastest
got most; he that was strongest secured the best
place; and few left the trough satisfied.

I was probably between seven and eight years old
when I left Colonel Lloyd's plantation. I left it with
joy. I shall never forget the ecstasy with which I
received the intelligence that my old master (Anthony)
had determined to let me go to Baltimore,
to live with Mr. Hugh Auld, brother to my old
master's son-in-law, Captain Thomas Auld. I received
this information about three days before my
departure. They were three of the happiest days
I ever enjoyed. I spent the most part of all these
three days in the creek, washing off the plantation
scurf, and preparing myself for my departure.

The pride of appearance which this would indicate
was not my own. I spent the time in washing, not so
much because I wished to, but because Mrs.
Lucretia had told me I must get all the dead skin
off my feet and knees before I could go to Baltimore;
for the people in Baltimore were very cleanly,
and would laugh at me if I looked dirty. Besides,
she was going to give me a pair of trousers, which I
should not put on unless I got all the dirt off me.
The thought of owning a pair of trousers was great
indeed! It was almost a sufficient motive, not only


to make me take off what would be called by pigdrovers
the mange, but the skin itself. I went at it
in good earnest, working for the first time with the
hope of reward.

The ties that ordinarily bind children to their
homes were all suspended in my case. I found no
severe trial in my departure. My home was charmless;
it was not home to me; on parting from it, I
could not feel that I was leaving any thing which I
could have enjoyed by staying. My mother was dead,
my grandmother lived far off, so that I seldom saw
her. I had two sisters and one brother, that lived in
the same house with me; but the early separation of
us from our mother had well nigh blotted the fact
of our relationship from our memories. I looked for
home elsewhere, and was confident of finding none
which I should relish less than the one which I was
leaving. If, however, I found in my new home hardship,
hunger, whipping, and nakedness, I had the
consolation that I should not have escaped any one
of them by staying. Having already had more than
a taste of them in the house of my old master, and
having endured them there, I very naturally inferred
my ability to endure them elsewhere, and especially
at Baltimore; for I had something of the feeling
about Baltimore that is expressed in the proverb,
that being hanged in England is preferable to
dying a natural death in Ireland." I had the strongest
desire to see Baltimore. Cousin Tomthough not
fluent in speechhad inspired me with that desire
by his eloquent description of the place. I could
never point out any thing at the Great Houseno
matter how beautiful or powerfulbut that he had
seen something at Baltimore far exceedingboth in
beauty and strengththe object which I pointed out
to him. Even the Great House itselfwith all its
pictureswas far inferior to many buildings in Baltimore.
So strong was my desirethat I thought a
gratification of it would fully compensate for whatever
loss of comforts I should sustain by the exchange.
I left without a regretand with the highest
hopes of future happiness.

We sailed out of Miles River for Baltimore on a
Saturday morning. I remember only the day of the
weekfor at that time I had no knowledge of the
days of the monthnor the months of the year. On
setting sailI walked aftand gave to Colonel Lloyd's
plantation what I hoped would be the last look. I
then placed myself in the bows of the sloopand
there spent the remainder of the day in looking
aheadinteresting myself in what was in the distance
rather than in things near by or behind.

In the afternoon of that daywe reached Annapolis
the capital of the State. We stopped but a
few momentsso that I had no time to go on shore.
It was the first large town that I had ever seenand
though it would look small compared with some of
our New England factory villagesI thought it a
wonderful place for its size--more imposing even
than the Great House Farm!


We arrived at Baltimore early on Sunday morning
landing at Smith's Wharfnot far from Bowley's
Wharf. We had on board the sloop a large
flock of sheep; and after aiding in driving them to
the slaughterhouse of Mr. Curtis on Louden Slater's
HillI was conducted by Richone of the hands
belonging on board of the sloopto my new home
in Alliciana Streetnear Mr. Gardner's ship-yardon
Fells Point.

Mr. and Mrs. Auld were both at homeand met
me at the door with their little son Thomasto take
care of whom I had been given. And here I saw what
I had never seen before; it was a white face beaming
with the most kindly emotions; it was the face of
my new mistressSophia Auld. I wish I could describe
the rapture that flashed through my soul as I
beheld it. It was a new and strange sight to me
brightening up my pathway with the light of happiness.
Little Thomas was toldthere was his Freddy
--and I was told to take care of little Thomas; and
thus I entered upon the duties of my new home with
the most cheering prospect ahead.

I look upon my departure from Colonel Lloyd's
plantation as one of the most interesting events of
my life. It is possibleand even quite probablethat
but for the mere circumstance of being removed
from that plantation to BaltimoreI should have
to-dayinstead of being here seated by my own table
in the enjoyment of freedom and the happiness of
homewriting this Narrativebeen confined in the
galling chains of slavery. Going to live at Baltimore
laid the foundationand opened the gatewayto all
my subsequent prosperity. I have ever regarded it
as the first plain manifestation of that kind providence
which has ever since attended meand marked
my life with so many favors. I regarded the selection
of myself as being somewhat remarkable. There were
a number of slave children that might have been
sent from the plantation to Baltimore. There were
those youngerthose olderand those of the same
age. I was chosen from among them alland was
the firstlastand only choice.

I may be deemed superstitiousand even egotistical
in regarding this event as a special interposition
of divine Providence in my favor. But I should be
false to the earliest sentiments of my soulif I suppressed
the opinion. I prefer to be true to myself
even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others
rather than to be falseand incur my own abhorrence.
From my earliest recollectionI date the entertainment
of a deep conviction that slavery would
not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace;
and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery
this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed
not from mebut remained like ministering
angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good
spirit was from Godand to him I offer thanksgiving
and praise.


CHAPTER VI

My new mistress proved to be all she appeared
when I first met her at the door--a woman of the
kindest heart and finest feelings. She had never had
a slave under her control previously to myselfand
prior to her marriage she had been dependent upon
her own industry for a living. She was by trade a
weaver; and by constant application to her business
she had been in a good degree preserved from the
blighting and dehumanizing effects of slavery. I was
utterly astonished at her goodness. I scarcely knew
how to behave towards her. She was entirely unlike
any other white woman I had ever seen. I could not
approach her as I was accustomed to approach other
white ladies. My early instruction was all out of
place. The crouching servilityusually so acceptable
a quality in a slavedid not answer when manifested
toward her. Her favor was not gained by it; she
seemed to be disturbed by it. She did not deem it
impudent or unmannerly for a slave to look her in
the face. The meanest slave was put fully at ease
in her presenceand none left without feeling better
for having seen her. Her face was made of heavenly
smilesand her voice of tranquil music.

Butalas! this kind heart had but a short time to
remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power
was already in her handsand soon commenced its
infernal work. That cheerful eyeunder the influence
of slaverysoon became red with rage; that
voicemade all of sweet accordchanged to one of
harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave
place to that of a demon.

Very soon after I went to live with Mr. and Mrs.
Auldshe very kindly commenced to teach me the
ABC. After I had learned thisshe assisted me in
learning to spell words of three or four letters. Just
at this point of my progressMr. Auld found out
what was going onand at once forbade Mrs. Auld
to instruct me furthertelling heramong other
thingsthat it was unlawfulas well as unsafeto
teach a slave to read. To use his own wordsfurther
he saidIf you give a nigger an inch, he will take
an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey
his master--to do as he is told to do. Learning would
~spoil~ the best nigger in the world. Now,said heif
you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to
read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever
unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become
unmanageable, and of no value to his master.
As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great
deal of harm. It would make him discontented and
unhappy.These words sank deep into my heart
stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering
and called into existence an entirely new train of
thought. It was a new and special revelationexplaining
dark and mysterious thingswith which my
youthful understanding had struggledbut struggled
in vain. I now understood what had been to me a
most perplexing difficulty--to witthe white man's
power to enslave the black man. It was a grand


achievementand I prized it highly. From that moment
I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom.
It was just what I wantedand I got it at a
time when I the least expected it. Whilst I was saddened
by the thought of losing the aid of my kind
mistressI was gladdened by the invaluable instruction
whichby the merest accidentI had gained
from my master. Though conscious of the difficulty
of learning without a teacherI set out with high
hopeand a fixed purposeat whatever cost of trouble
to learn how to read. The very decided manner
with which he spokeand strove to impress his wife
with the evil consequences of giving me instruction
served to convince me that he was deeply sensible
of the truths he was uttering. It gave me the best
assurance that I might rely with the utmost confidence
on the results whichhe saidwould flow from
teaching me to read. What he most dreadedthat
I most desired. What he most lovedthat I most
hated. That which to him was a great evilto be
carefully shunnedwas to me a great goodto be
diligently sought; and the argument which he so
warmly urgedagainst my learning to readonly
served to inspire me with a desire and determination
to learn. In learning to readI owe almost as
much to the bitter opposition of my masteras to
the kindly aid of my mistress. I acknowledge the
benefit of both.

I had resided but a short time in Baltimore before
I observed a marked differencein the treatment of
slavesfrom that which I had witnessed in the country.
A city slave is almost a freemancompared with
a slave on the plantation. He is much better fed and
clothedand enjoys privileges altogether unknown
to the slave on the plantation. There is a vestige of
decencya sense of shamethat does much to curb
and check those outbreaks of atrocious cruelty so
commonly enacted upon the plantation. He is a desperate
slaveholderwho will shock the humanity of
his non-slaveholding neighbors with the cries of his
lacerated slave. Few are willing to incur the odium
attaching to the reputation of being a cruel master;
and above all thingsthey would not be known as
not giving a slave enough to eat. Every city slaveholder
is anxious to have it known of himthat he
feeds his slaves well; and it is due to them to say
that most of them do give their slaves enough to eat.
There arehoweversome painful exceptions to this
rule. Directly opposite to uson Philpot Streetlived
Mr. Thomas Hamilton. He owned two slaves. Their
names were Henrietta and Mary. Henrietta was
about twenty-two years of ageMary was about fourteen;
and of all the mangled and emaciated creatures
I ever looked uponthese two were the most so. His
heart must be harder than stonethat could look
upon these unmoved. The headneckand shoulders
of Mary were literally cut to pieces. I have frequently
felt her headand found it nearly covered
with festering sorescaused by the lash of her cruel
mistress. I do not know that her master ever whipped
herbut I have been an eye-witness to the cruelty of
Mrs. Hamilton. I used to be in Mr. Hamilton's house
nearly every day. Mrs. Hamilton used to sit in a large


chair in the middle of the roomwith a heavy cowskin
always by her sideand scarce an hour passed
during the day but was marked by the blood of one
of these slaves. The girls seldom passed her without
her sayingMove faster, you ~black gip!~at the same
time giving them a blow with the cowskin over the
head or shouldersoften drawing the blood. She
would then sayTake that, you ~black gip!~continuing
If you don't move faster, I'll move you!
Added to the cruel lashings to which these slaves
were subjectedthey were kept nearly half-starved.
They seldom knew what it was to eat a full meal.
I have seen Mary contending with the pigs for the
offal thrown into the street. So much was Mary
kicked and cut to piecesthat she was oftener called
~pecked~than by her name.

CHAPTER VII

I lived in Master Hugh's family about seven years.
During this timeI succeeded in learning to read and
write. In accomplishing thisI was compelled to resort
to various stratagems. I had no regular teacher.
My mistresswho had kindly commenced to instruct
mehadin compliance with the advice and direction
of her husbandnot only ceased to instructbut
had set her face against my being instructed by any
one else. It is duehoweverto my mistress to say
of herthat she did not adopt this course of treatment
immediately. She at first lacked the depravity
indispensable to shutting me up in mental darkness.
It was at least necessary for her to have some training
in the exercise of irresponsible powerto make her
equal to the task of treating me as though I were
a brute.

My mistress wasas I have saida kind and tenderhearted
woman; and in the simplicity of her soul she
commencedwhen I first went to live with herto
treat me as she supposed one human being ought
to treat another. In entering upon the duties of a
slaveholdershe did not seem to perceive that I sustained
to her the relation of a mere chatteland
that for her to treat me as a human being was not
only wrongbut dangerously so. Slavery proved as
injurious to her as it did to me. When I went there
she was a piouswarmand tender-hearted woman.
There was no sorrow or suffering for which she had
not a tear. She had bread for the hungryclothes for
the nakedand comfort for every mourner that came
within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to
divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its influence
the tender heart became stoneand the
lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like
fierceness. The first step in her downward course was
in her ceasing to instruct me. She now commenced
to practise her husband's precepts. She finally became
even more violent in her opposition than her
husband himself. She was not satisfied with simply
doing as well as he had commanded; she seemed
anxious to do better. Nothing seemed to make her


more angry than to see me with a newspaper. She
seemed to think that here lay the danger. I have had
her rush at me with a face made all up of furyand
snatch from me a newspaperin a manner that fully
revealed her apprehension. She was an apt woman;
and a little experience soon demonstratedto her
satisfactionthat education and slavery were incompatible
with each other.

From this time I was most narrowly watched. If I
was in a separate room any considerable length of
timeI was sure to be suspected of having a book
and was at once called to give an account of myself.
All thishoweverwas too late. The first step had
been taken. Mistressin teaching me the alphabet
had given me the ~inch~ and no precaution could prevent
me from taking the ~ell.~

The plan which I adoptedand the one by which
I was most successfulwas that of making friends of
all the little white boys whom I met in the street.
As many of these as I couldI converted into teachers.
With their kindly aidobtained at different times
and in different placesI finally succeeded in learning
to read. When I was sent of errandsI always
took my book with meand by going one part of
my errand quicklyI found time to get a lesson before
my return. I used also to carry bread with me
enough of which was always in the houseand to
which I was always welcome; for I was much better
off in this regard than many of the poor white children
in our neighborhood. This bread I used to bestow
upon the hungry little urchinswhoin return
would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge.
I am strongly tempted to give the names of
two or three of those little boysas a testimonial of
the gratitude and affection I bear them; but prudence
forbids;--not that it would injure mebut it
might embarrass them; for it is almost an unpardonable
offence to teach slaves to read in this Christian
country. It is enough to say of the dear little
fellowsthat they lived on Philpot Streetvery near
Durgin and Bailey's ship-yard. I used to talk this
matter of slavery over with them. I would sometimes
say to themI wished I could be as free as they
would be when they got to be men. "You will be
free as soon as you are twenty-one~but I am a slave
for life!~ Have not I as good a right to be free as
you have?" These words used to trouble them; they
would express for me the liveliest sympathyand console
me with the hope that something would occur
by which I might be free.

I was now about twelve years oldand the thought
of being ~a slave for life~ began to bear heavily upon
my heart. Just about this timeI got hold of a book
entitled "The Columbian Orator." Every opportunity
I gotI used to read this book. Among much of
other interesting matterI found in it a dialogue between
a master and his slave. The slave was represented
as having run away from his master three
times. The dialogue represented the conversation
which took place between themwhen the slave was
retaken the third time. In this dialoguethe whole


argument in behalf of slavery was brought forward
by the masterall of which was disposed of by the
slave. The slave was made to say some very smart as
well as impressive things in reply to his master-things
which had the desired though unexpected effect;
for the conversation resulted in the voluntary
emancipation of the slave on the part of the master.

In the same bookI met with one of Sheridan's
mighty speeches on and in behalf of Catholic emancipation.
These were choice documents to me. I read
them over and over again with unabated interest.
They gave tongue to interesting thoughts of my own
soulwhich had frequently flashed through my mind
and died away for want of utterance. The moral
which I gained from the dialogue was the power of
truth over the conscience of even a slaveholder. What
I got from Sheridan was a bold denunciation of slavery
and a powerful vindication of human rights.
The reading of these documents enabled me to
utter my thoughtsand to meet the arguments
brought forward to sustain slavery; but while they
relieved me of one difficultythey brought on another
even more painful than the one of which I was
relieved. The more I readthe more I was led to
abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them
in no other light than a band of successful robbers
who had left their homesand gone to Africaand
stolen us from our homesand in a strange land
reduced us to slavery. I loathed them as being the
meanest as well as the most wicked of men. As I
read and contemplated the subjectbehold! that very
discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted
would follow my learning to read had already come
to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish.
As I writhed under itI would at times feel that
learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing.
It had given me a view of my wretched condition
without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the
horrible pitbut to no ladder upon which to get out.
In moments of agonyI envied my fellow-slaves for
their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast.
I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to
my own. Any thingno matter whatto get rid of
thinking! It was this everlasting thinking of my condition
that tormented me. There was no getting rid
of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within
sight or hearinganimate or inanimate. The silver
trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal
wakefulness. Freedom now appearedto disappear
no more forever. It was heard in every soundand
seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment
me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw
nothing without seeing itI heard nothing without
hearing itand felt nothing without feeling it. It
looked from every starit smiled in every calm
breathed in every windand moved in every storm.

I often found myself regretting my own existence
and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of
being freeI have no doubt but that I should have
killed myselfor done something for which I should
have been killed. While in this state of mindI was
eager to hear any one speak of slavery. I was a ready


listener. Every little whileI could hear something
about the abolitionists. It was some time before I
found what the word meant. It was always used in
such connections as to make it an interesting word
to me. If a slave ran away and succeeded in getting
clearor if a slave killed his masterset fire to a
barnor did any thing very wrong in the mind of a
slaveholderit was spoken of as the fruit of ~abolition.~
Hearing the word in this connection very oftenI set
about learning what it meant. The dictionary afforded
me little or no help. I found it was "the act
of abolishing;" but then I did not know what was
to be abolished. Here I was perplexed. I did not
dare to ask any one about its meaningfor I was
satisfied that it was something they wanted me to
know very little about. After a patient waitingI got
one of our city paperscontaining an account of the
number of petitions from the northpraying for the
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbiaand
of the slave trade between the States. From this
time I understood the words ~abolition~ and ~abolitionist~
and always drew near when that word was spoken
expecting to hear something of importance to myself
and fellow-slaves. The light broke in upon me
by degrees. I went one day down on the wharf of
Mr. Waters; and seeing two Irishmen unloading a
scow of stoneI wentunaskedand helped them.
When we had finishedone of them came to me
and asked me if I were a slave. I told him I was. He
askedAre ye a slave for life?I told him that I
was. The good Irishman seemed to be deeply affected
by the statement. He said to the other that
it was a pity so fine a little fellow as myself should
be a slave for life. He said it was a shame to hold
me. They both advised me to run away to the north;
that I should find friends thereand that I should
be free. I pretended not to be interested in what
they saidand treated them as if I did not understand
them; for I feared they might be treacherous.
White men have been known to encourage slaves to
escapeand thento get the rewardcatch them and
return them to their masters. I was afraid that these
seemingly good men might use me so; but I nevertheless
remembered their adviceand from that time
I resolved to run away. I looked forward to a time
at which it would be safe for me to escape. I was
too young to think of doing so immediately; besides
I wished to learn how to writeas I might have occasion
to write my own pass. I consoled myself with
the hope that I should one day find a good chance.
MeanwhileI would learn to write.

The idea as to how I might learn to write was
suggested to me by being in Durgin and Bailey's
ship-yardand frequently seeing the ship carpenters
after hewingand getting a piece of timber ready
for usewrite on the timber the name of that part
of the ship for which it was intended. When a piece
of timber was intended for the larboard sideit
would be marked thus--"L." When a piece was for
the starboard sideit would be marked thus--"S." A
piece for the larboard side forwardwould be marked
thus--"L. F." When a piece was for starboard side
forwardit would be marked thus--"S. F." For lar



board aftit would be marked thus--"L. A." For starboard
aftit would be marked thus--"S. A." I soon
learned the names of these lettersand for what
they were intended when placed upon a piece of
timber in the ship-yard. I immediately commenced
copying themand in a short time was able to make
the four letters named. After thatwhen I met with
any boy who I knew could writeI would tell him
I could write as well as he. The next word would be
I don't believe you. Let me see you try it.I would
then make the letters which I had been so fortunate
as to learnand ask him to beat that. In this way I
got a good many lessons in writingwhich it is quite
possible I should never have gotten in any other way.
During this timemy copy-book was the board fence
brick walland pavement; my pen and ink was a
lump of chalk. With theseI learned mainly how to
write. I then commenced and continued copying the
Italics in Webster's Spelling Bookuntil I could make
them all without looking on the book. By this time
my little Master Thomas had gone to schooland
learned how to writeand had written over a number
of copy-books. These had been brought homeand
shown to some of our near neighborsand then laid
aside. My mistress used to go to class meeting at
the Wilk Street meetinghouse every Monday afternoon
and leave me to take care of the house. When
left thusI used to spend the time in writing in the
spaces left in Master Thomas's copy-bookcopying
what he had written. I continued to do this until I
could write a hand very similar to that of Master
Thomas. Thusafter a longtedious effort for years
I finally succeeded in learning how to write.

CHAPTER VIII

In a very short time after I went to live at Baltimore
my old master's youngest son Richard died;
and in about three years and six months after his
deathmy old masterCaptain Anthonydiedleavonly
his sonAndrewand daughterLucretiato
share his estate. He died while on a visit to see his
daughter at Hillsborough. Cut off thus unexpectedly
he left no will as to the disposal of his property. It
was therefore necessary to have a valuation of the
propertythat it might be equally divided between
Mrs. Lucretia and Master Andrew. I was immediately
sent forto be valued with the other property.
Here again my feelings rose up in detestation of
slavery. I had now a new conception of my degraded
condition. Prior to thisI had becomeif not insensible
to my lotat least partly so. I left Baltimore
with a young heart overborne with sadnessand a
soul full of apprehension. I took passage with Captain
Rowein the schooner Wild Catandafter a
sail of about twenty-four hoursI found myself near
the place of my birth. I had now been absent from
it almostif not quitefive years. Ihoweverremembered
the place very well. I was only about
five years old when I left itto go and live with my
old master on Colonel Lloyd's plantation; so that


I was now between ten and eleven years old.

We were all ranked together at the valuation. Men
and womenold and youngmarried and singlewere
ranked with horsessheepand swine. There were
horses and mencattle and womenpigs and children
all holding the same rank in the scale of being
and were all subjected to the same narrow examination.
Silvery-headed age and sprightly youthmaids
and matronshad to undergo the same indelicate
inspection. At this momentI saw more clearly than
ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon both
slave and slaveholder.

After the valuationthen came the division. I have
no language to express the high excitement and deep
anxiety which were felt among us poor slaves during
this time. Our fate for life was now to be decided.
we had no more voice in that decision than the
brutes among whom we were ranked. A single word
from the white men was enough--against all our
wishesprayersand entreaties--to sunder forever the
dearest friendsdearest kindredand strongest ties
known to human beings. In addition to the pain of
separationthere was the horrid dread of falling into
the hands of Master Andrew. He was known to us
all as being a most cruel wretch--a common drunkard
who hadby his reckless mismanagement and
profligate dissipationalready wasted a large portion
of his father's property. We all felt that we
might as well be sold at once to the Georgia traders
as to pass into his hands; for we knew that that
would be our inevitable condition--a condition held
by us all in the utmost horror and dread.

I suffered more anxiety than most of my fellowslaves.
I had known what it was to be kindly treated;
they had known nothing of the kind. They had seen
little or nothing of the world. They were in very
deed men and women of sorrowand acquainted with
grief. Their backs had been made familiar with the
bloody lashso that they had become callous; mine
was yet tender; for while at Baltimore I got few whippings
and few slaves could boast of a kinder master
and mistress than myself; and the thought of passing
out of their hands into those of Master Andrew-a
man whobut a few days beforeto give me a
sample of his bloody dispositiontook my little
brother by the throatthrew him on the groundand
with the heel of his boot stamped upon his head
till the blood gushed from his nose and ears--was
well calculated to make me anxious as to my fate.
After he had committed this savage outrage upon
my brotherhe turned to meand said that was the
way he meant to serve me one of these days--meaning
I supposewhen I came into his possession.

Thanks to a kind ProvidenceI fell to the portion
of Mrs. Lucretiaand was sent immediately back
to Baltimoreto live again in the family of Master
Hugh. Their joy at my return equalled their sorrow
at my departure. It was a glad day to me. I had
escaped a worse than lion's jaws. I was absent from
Baltimorefor the purpose of valuation and division


just about one monthand it seemed to have been
six.

Very soon after my return to Baltimoremy mistress
Lucretiadiedleaving her husband and one
childAmanda; and in a very short time after her
deathMaster Andrew died. Now all the property
of my old masterslaves includedwas in the hands
of strangers--strangers who had had nothing to do
with accumulating it. Not a slave was left free. All
remained slavesfrom the youngest to the oldest. If
any one thing in my experiencemore than another
served to deepen my conviction of the infernal character
of slaveryand to fill me with unutterable
loathing of slaveholdersit was their base ingratitude
to my poor old grandmother. She had served
my old master faithfully from youth to old age. She
had been the source of all his wealth; she had peopled
his plantation with slaves; she had become a
great grandmother in his service. She had rocked
him in infancyattended him in childhoodserved
him through lifeand at his death wiped from his
icy brow the cold death-sweatand closed his eyes
forever. She was nevertheless left a slave--a slave for
life--a slave in the hands of strangers; and in their
hands she saw her childrenher grandchildrenand
her great-grandchildrendividedlike so many sheep
without being gratified with the small privilege of a
single wordas to their or her own destiny. Andto
cap the climax of their base ingratitude and fiendish
barbaritymy grandmotherwho was now very old
having outlived my old master and all his children
having seen the beginning and end of all of them
and her present owners finding she was of but little
valueher frame already racked with the pains of old
ageand complete helplessness fast stealing over her
once active limbsthey took her to the woodsbuilt
her a little hutput up a little mud-chimneyand
then made her welcome to the privilege of supporting
herself there in perfect loneliness; thus virtually
turning her out to die! If my poor old grandmother
now livesshe lives to suffer in utter loneliness; she
lives to remember and mourn over the loss of children
the loss of grandchildrenand the loss of greatgrandchildren.
They arein the language of the
slave's poetWhittier-


Gone, gone, sold and gone

To the rice swamp dank and lone,

Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings,

Where the noisome insect stings,

Where the fever-demon strews

Poison with the falling dews,

Where the sickly sunbeams glare

Through the hot and misty air:-



Gone, gone, sold and gone

To the rice swamp dank and lone,

From Virginia hills and waters-


Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

The hearth is desolate. The childrenthe unconscious
childrenwho once sang and danced in her
presenceare gone. She gropes her wayin the darkness
of agefor a drink of water. Instead of the voices
of her childrenshe hears by day the moans of the
doveand by night the screams of the hideous owl.
All is gloom. The grave is at the door. And now
when weighed down by the pains and aches of old
agewhen the head inclines to the feetwhen the
beginning and ending of human existence meetand
helpless infancy and painful old age combine together--
at this timethis most needful timethe time
for the exercise of that tenderness and affection
which children only can exercise towards a declining
parent--my poor old grandmotherthe devoted
mother of twelve childrenis left all alonein yonder
little hutbefore a few dim embers. She stands-she
sits--she staggers--she falls--she groans--she dies
--and there are none of her children or grandchildren
presentto wipe from her wrinkled brow the cold
sweat of deathor to place beneath the sod her
fallen remains. Will not a righteous God visit for
these things?

In about two years after the death of Mrs. Lucretia
Master Thomas married his second wife. Her
name was Rowena Hamilton. She was the eldest
daughter of Mr. William Hamilton. Master now
lived in St. Michael's. Not long after his marriage
a misunderstanding took place between himself and
Master Hugh; and as a means of punishing his
brotherhe took me from him to live with himself
at St. Michael's. Here I underwent another most
painful separation. Ithoweverwas not so severe
as the one I dreaded at the division of property; for
during this intervala great change had taken place
in Master Hugh and his once kind and affectionate
wife. The influence of brandy upon himand of
slavery upon herhad effected a disastrous change
in the characters of both; so thatas far as they
were concernedI thought I had little to lose by the
change. But it was not to them that I was attached.
It was to those little Baltimore boys that I felt the
strongest attachment. I had received many good
lessons from themand was still receiving themand
the thought of leaving them was painful indeed. I
was leavingtoowithout the hope of ever being
allowed to return. Master Thomas had said he would
never let me return again. The barrier betwixt himself
and brother he considered impassable.

I then had to regret that I did not at least make
the attempt to carry out my resolution to run away;
for the chances of success are tenfold greater from
the city than from the country.


I sailed from Baltimore for St. Michael's in the
sloop AmandaCaptain Edward Dodson. On my
passageI paid particular attention to the direction
which the steamboats took to go to Philadelphia. I
foundinstead of going downon reaching North
Point they went up the bayin a north-easterly direction.
I deemed this knowledge of the utmost importance.
My determination to run away was again
revived. I resolved to wait only so long as the offering
of a favorable opportunity. When that cameI was
determined to be off.

CHAPTER IX

I have now reached a period of my life when I
can give dates. I left Baltimoreand went to live
with Master Thomas Auldat St. Michael'sin
March1832. It was now more than seven years
since I lived with him in the family of my old master
on Colonel Lloyd's plantation. We of course
were now almost entire strangers to each other. He
was to me a new masterand I to him a new slave.
I was ignorant of his temper and disposition; he
was equally so of mine. A very short timehowever
brought us into full acquaintance with each other.
I was made acquainted with his wife not less than
with himself. They were well matchedbeing equally
mean and cruel. I was nowfor the first time during
a space of more than seven yearsmade to feel the
painful gnawings of hunger--a something which I
had not experienced before since I left Colonel
Lloyd's plantation. It went hard enough with me
thenwhen I could look back to no period at which
I had enjoyed a sufficiency. It was tenfold harder
after living in Master Hugh's familywhere I had
always had enough to eatand of that which was
good. I have said Master Thomas was a mean man.
He was so. Not to give a slave enough to eatis
regarded as the most aggravated development of
meanness even among slaveholders. The rule isno
matter how coarse the foodonly let there be enough
of it. This is the theory; and in the part of Maryland
from which I cameit is the general practice--though
there are many exceptions. Master Thomas gave us
enough of neither coarse nor fine food. There were
four slaves of us in the kitchen--my sister Elizamy
aunt PriscillaHennyand myself; and we were allowed
less than a half of a bushel of corn-meal per
weekand very little elseeither in the shape of
meat or vegetables. It was not enough for us to
subsist upon. We were therefore reduced to the
wretched necessity of living at the expense of our
neighbors. This we did by begging and stealing
whichever came handy in the time of needthe one
being considered as legitimate as the other. A great
many times have we poor creatures been nearly
perishing with hungerwhen food in abundance lay
mouldering in the safe and smoke-houseand our
pious mistress was aware of the fact; and yet that
mistress and her husband would kneel every morn



ingand pray that God would bless them in basket
and store!

Bad as all slaveholders arewe seldom meet one
destitute of every element of character commanding
respect. My master was one of this rare sort. I do
not know of one single noble act ever performed by
him. The leading trait in his character was meanness;
and if there were any other element in his
natureit was made subject to this. He was mean;
andlike most other mean menhe lacked the ability
to conceal his meanness. Captain Auld was not born
a slaveholder. He had been a poor manmaster only
of a Bay craft. He came into possession of all his
slaves by marriage; and of all menadopted slaveholders
are the worst. He was cruelbut cowardly.
He commanded without firmness. In the enforcement
of his ruleshe was at times rigidand at times
lax. At timeshe spoke to his slaves with the firmness
of Napoleon and the fury of a demon; at other times
he might well be mistaken for an inquirer who had
lost his way. He did nothing of himself. He might
have passed for a lionbut for his ears. In all things
noble which he attemptedhis own meanness shone
most conspicuous. His airswordsand actions
were the airswordsand actions of born slaveholders
andbeing assumedwere awkward enough.
He was not even a good imitator. He possessed all
the disposition to deceivebut wanted the power.
Having no resources within himselfhe was compelled
to be the copyist of manyand being suchhe
was forever the victim of inconsistency; and of consequence
he was an object of contemptand was held
as such even by his slaves. The luxury of having
slaves of his own to wait upon him was something
new and unprepared for. He was a slaveholder without
the ability to hold slaves. He found himself incapable
of managing his slaves either by forcefear
or fraud. We seldom called him "master;" we generally
called him "Captain Auld and were hardly
disposed to title him at all. I doubt not that our
conduct had much to do with making him appear
awkward, and of consequence fretful. Our want of
reverence for him must have perplexed him greatly.
He wished to have us call him master, but lacked
the firmness necessary to command us to do so. His
wife used to insist upon our calling him so, but to
no purpose. In August, 1832, my master attended a
Methodist camp-meeting held in the Bay-side, Talbot
county, and there experienced religion. I indulged
a faint hope that his conversion would lead
him to emancipate his slaves, and that, if he did not
do this, it would, at any rate, make him more kind
and humane. I was disappointed in both these respects.
It neither made him to be humane to his
slaves, nor to emancipate them. If it had any effect
on his character, it made him more cruel and hateful
in all his ways; for I believe him to have been a much
worse man after his conversion than before. Prior
to his conversion, he relied upon his own depravity
to shield and sustain him in his savage barbarity;
but after his conversion, he found religious sanction
and support for his slaveholding cruelty. He made
the greatest pretensions to piety. His house was the


house of prayer. He prayed morning, noon, and
night. He very soon distinguished himself among
his brethren, and was soon made a class-leader and
exhorter. His activity in revivals was great, and he
proved himself an instrument in the hands of the
church in converting many souls. His house was the
preachers' home. They used to take great pleasure
in coming there to put up; for while he starved us, he
stuffed them. We have had three or four preachers
there at a time. The names of those who used to
come most frequently while I lived there, were Mr.
Storks, Mr. Ewery, Mr. Humphry, and Mr. Hickey.
I have also seen Mr. George Cookman at our house.
We slaves loved Mr. Cookman. We believed him to
be a good man. We thought him instrumental in getting
Mr. Samuel Harrison, a very rich slaveholder, to
emancipate his slaves; and by some means got the
impression that he was laboring to effect the emancipation
of all the slaves. When he was at our house,
we were sure to be called in to prayers. When the
others were there, we were sometimes called in and
sometimes not. Mr. Cookman took more notice of
us than either of the other ministers. He could not
come among us without betraying his sympathy for
us, and, stupid as we were, we had the sagacity to
see it.

While I lived with my master in St. Michael's,
there was a white young man, a Mr. Wilson, who
proposed to keep a Sabbath school for the instruction
of such slaves as might be disposed to learn to read
the New Testament. We met but three times, when
Mr. West and Mr. Fairbanks, both class-leaders,
with many others, came upon us with sticks and
other missiles, drove us off, and forbade us to meet
again. Thus ended our little Sabbath school in the
pious town of St. Michael's.

I have said my master found religious sanction
for his cruelty. As an example, I will state one of
many facts going to prove the charge. I have seen
him tie up a lame young woman, and whip her with
a heavy cowskin upon her naked shoulders, causing
the warm red blood to drip; and, in justification
of the bloody deed, he would quote this passage of
Scripture--He that knoweth his master's willand
doeth it notshall be beaten with many stripes."

Master would keep this lacerated young woman
tied up in this horrid situation four or five hours at
a time. I have known him to tie her up early in the
morningand whip her before breakfast; leave her
go to his storereturn at dinnerand whip her again
cutting her in the places already made raw with his
cruel lash. The secret of master's cruelty toward
Hennyis found in the fact of her being almost
helpless. When quite a childshe fell into the fire
and burned herself horribly. Her hands were so
burnt that she never got the use of them. She could
do very little but bear heavy burdens. She was to
master a bill of expense; and as he was a mean man
she was a constant offence to him. He seemed
desirous of getting the poor girl out of existence.
He gave her away once to his sister; butbeing a


poor giftshe was not disposed to keep her. Finally
my benevolent masterto use his own wordsset
her adrift to take care of herself.Here was a recently-
converted manholding on upon the mother
and at the same time turning out her helpless child
to starve and die! Master Thomas was one of the
many pious slaveholders who hold slaves for the
very charitable purpose of taking care of them.

My master and myself had quite a number of
differences. He found me unsuitable to his purpose.
My city lifehe saidhad had a very pernicious effect
upon me. It had almost ruined me for every good
purposeand fitted me for every thing which was
bad. One of my greatest faults was that of letting
his horse run awayand go down to his father-inlaw's
farmwhich was about five miles from St.
Michael's. I would then have to go after it. My
reason for this kind of carelessnessor carefulness
wasthat I could always get something to eat when
I went there. Master William Hamiltonmy master's
father-in-lawalways gave his slaves enough to eat.
I never left there hungryno matter how great the
need of my speedy return. Master Thomas at length
said he would stand it no longer. I had lived with
him nine monthsduring which time he had given
me a number of severe whippingsall to no good
purpose. He resolved to put me outas he saidto
be broken; andfor this purposehe let me for one
year to a man named Edward Covey. Mr. Covey
was a poor mana farm-renter. He rented the place
upon which he livedas also the hands with which
he tilled it. Mr. Covey had acquired a very high
reputation for breaking young slavesand this reputation
was of immense value to him. It enabled him
to get his farm tilled with much less expense to
himself than he could have had it done without
such a reputation. Some slaveholders thought it not
much loss to allow Mr. Covey to have their slaves
one yearfor the sake of the training to which they
were subjectedwithout any other compensation.
He could hire young help with great easein consequence
of this reputation. Added to the natural
good qualities of Mr. Coveyhe was a professor of
religion--a pious soul--a member and a class-leader in
the Methodist church. All of this added weight to
his reputation as a "nigger-breaker." I was aware of
all the factshaving been made acquainted with
them by a young man who had lived there. I nevertheless
made the change gladly; for I was sure of
getting enough to eatwhich is not the smallest
consideration to a hungry man.

CHAPTER X

I had left Master Thomas's houseand went to live
with Mr. Coveyon the 1st of January1833. I was
nowfor the first time in my lifea field hand. In
my new employmentI found myself even more
awkward than a country boy appeared to be in a


large city. I had been at my new home but one
week before Mr. Covey gave me a very severe whipping
cutting my backcausing the blood to run
and raising ridges on my flesh as large as my little finger.
The details of this affair are as follows: Mr. Covey
sent mevery early in the morning of one of our
coldest days in the month of Januaryto the woods
to get a load of wood. He gave me a team of unbroken
oxen. He told me which was the in-hand ox
and which the off-hand one. He then tied the end
of a large rope around the horns of the in-hand ox
and gave me the other end of itand told meif
the oxen started to runthat I must hold on upon
the rope. I had never driven oxen beforeand of
course I was very awkward. Ihoweversucceeded in
getting to the edge of the woods with little difficulty;
but I had got a very few rods into the woods
when the oxen took frightand started full tiltcarrying
the cart against treesand over stumpsin the
most frightful manner. I expected every moment
that my brains would be dashed out against the
trees. After running thus for a considerable distance
they finally upset the cartdashing it with
great force against a treeand threw themselves into
a dense thicket. How I escaped deathI do not
know. There I wasentirely alonein a thick wood
in a place new to me. My cart was upset and shattered
my oxen were entangled among the young
treesand there was none to help me. After a long
spell of effortI succeeded in getting my cart righted
my oxen disentangledand again yoked to the cart.
I now proceeded with my team to the place where
I hadthe day beforebeen chopping woodand
loaded my cart pretty heavilythinking in this way
to tame my oxen. I then proceeded on my way
home. I had now consumed one half of the day. I
got out of the woods safelyand now felt out of
danger. I stopped my oxen to open the woods gate;
and just as I did sobefore I could get hold of my
ox-ropethe oxen again startedrushed through the
gatecatching it between the wheel and the body of
the carttearing it to piecesand coming within a
few inches of crushing me against the gate-post. Thus
twicein one short dayI escaped death by the
merest chance. On my returnI told Mr. Covey
what had happenedand how it happened. He ordered
me to return to the woods again immediately.
I did soand he followed on after me. Just as I got
into the woodshe came up and told me to stop my
cartand that he would teach me how to trifle away
my timeand break gates. He then went to a large
gum-treeand with his axe cut three large switches
andafter trimming them up neatly with his pocketknife
he ordered me to take off my clothes. I made
him no answerbut stood with my clothes on. He
repeated his order. I still made him no answernor
did I move to strip myself. Upon this he rushed
at me with the fierceness of a tigertore off my
clothesand lashed me till he had worn out his
switchescutting me so savagely as to leave the marks
visible for a long time after. This whipping was the
first of a number just like itand for similar offences.



I lived with Mr. Covey one year. During the first
six monthsof that yearscarce a week passed without
his whipping me. I was seldom free from a sore
back. My awkwardness was almost always his excuse
for whipping me. We were worked fully up
to the point of endurance. Long before day we were
upour horses fedand by the first approach of day
we were off to the field with our hoes and ploughing
teams. Mr. Covey gave us enough to eatbut
scarce time to eat it. We were often less than five
minutes taking our meals. We were often in the field
from the first approach of day till its last lingering
ray had left us; and at saving-fodder timemidnight
often caught us in the field binding blades.

Covey would be out with us. The way he used to
stand itwas this. He would spend the most of his
afternoons in bed. He would then come out fresh
in the eveningready to urge us on with his words
exampleand frequently with the whip. Mr. Covey
was one of the few slaveholders who could and did
work with his hands. He was a hard-working man.
He knew by himself just what a man or a boy could
do. There was no deceiving him. His work went on
in his absence almost as well as in his presence; and
he had the faculty of making us feel that he was
ever present with us. This he did by surprising us.
He seldom approached the spot where we were at
work openlyif he could do it secretly. He always
aimed at taking us by surprise. Such was his cunning
that we used to call himamong ourselvesthe
snake.When we were at work in the cornfieldhe
would sometimes crawl on his hands and knees to
avoid detectionand all at once he would rise
nearly in our midstand scream outHa, ha!
Come, come! Dash on, dash on!This being his
mode of attackit was never safe to stop a single
minute. His comings were like a thief in the night.
He appeared to us as being ever at hand. He was
under every treebehind every stumpin every bush
and at every windowon the plantation. He would
sometimes mount his horseas if bound to St. Michael's
a distance of seven milesand in half an
hour afterwards you would see him coiled up in
the corner of the wood-fencewatching every motion
of the slaves. He wouldfor this purposeleave his
horse tied up in the woods. Againhe would sometimes
walk up to usand give us orders as though
he was upon the point of starting on a long journey
turn his back upon usand make as though he was
going to the house to get ready; andbefore he would
get half way thitherhe would turn short and crawl
into a fence-corneror behind some treeand there
watch us till the going down of the sun.

Mr. Covey's FORTE consisted in his power to deceive.
His life was devoted to planning and perpetrating
the grossest deceptions. Every thing he possessed
in the shape of learning or religionhe made
conform to his disposition to deceive. He seemed
to think himself equal to deceiving the Almighty.
He would make a short prayer in the morningand
a long prayer at night; andstrange as it may seem
few men would at times appear more devotional


than he. The exercises of his family devotions were
always commenced with singing; andas he was a
very poor singer himselfthe duty of raising the
hymn generally came upon me. He would read his
hymnand nod at me to commence. I would at
times do so; at othersI would not. My non-compliance
would almost always produce much confusion.
To show himself independent of mehe would
start and stagger through with his hymn in the most
discordant manner. In this state of mindhe prayed
with more than ordinary spirit. Poor man! such was
his dispositionand success at deceivingI do verily
believe that he sometimes deceived himself into the
solemn beliefthat he was a sincere worshipper of
the most high God; and thistooat a time when
he may be said to have been guilty of compelling
his woman slave to commit the sin of adultery. The
facts in the case are these: Mr. Covey was a poor
man; he was just commencing in life; he was only
able to buy one slave; andshocking as is the fact
he bought heras he saidfor A BREEDER. This woman
was named Caroline. Mr. Covey bought her from
Mr. Thomas Loweabout six miles from St. Michael's.
She was a largeable-bodied womanabout
twenty years old. She had already given birth to one
childwhich proved her to be just what he wanted.
After buying herhe hired a married man of Mr.
Samuel Harrisonto live with him one year; and him
he used to fasten up with her every night! The result
wasthatat the end of the yearthe miserable
woman gave birth to twins. At this result Mr. Covey
seemed to be highly pleasedboth with the man and
the wretched woman. Such was his joyand that of
his wifethat nothing they could do for Caroline
during her confinement was too goodor too hard
to be done. The children were regarded as being
quite an addition to his wealth.

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

Sunday was my only leisure time. I spent this in
a sort of beast-like stuporbetween sleep and wake
under some large tree. At times I would rise upa
flash of energetic freedom would dart through my
soulaccompanied with a faint beam of hopethat
flickered for a momentand then vanished. I sank
down againmourning over my wretched condition.


I was sometimes prompted to take my lifeand that
of Coveybut was prevented by a combination of
hope and fear. My sufferings on this plantation seem
now like a dream rather than a stern reality.

Our house stood within a few rods of the Chesapeake
Baywhose broad bosom was ever white with
sails from every quarter of the habitable globe.
Those beautiful vesselsrobed in purest whiteso
delightful to the eye of freemenwere to me so
many shrouded ghoststo terrify and torment me
with thoughts of my wretched condition. I have often
in the deep stillness of a summer's Sabbath
stood all alone upon the lofty banks of that noble
bayand tracedwith saddened heart and tearful
eyethe countless number of sails moving off to
the mighty ocean. The sight of these always affected
me powerfully. My thoughts would compel utterance;
and therewith no audience but the Almighty
I would pour out my soul's complaintin my rude
waywith an apostrophe to the moving multitude of
ships:-


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

Thus I used to thinkand thus I used to speak
to myself; goaded almost to madness at one moment
and at the next reconciling myself to my


wretched lot.

I have already intimated that my condition was
much worseduring the first six months of my stay
at Mr. Covey'sthan in the last six. The circumstances
leading to the change in Mr. Covey's course
toward me form an epoch in my humble history.
You have seen how a man was made a slave; you
shall see how a slave was made a man. On one of
the hottest days of the month of August1833Bill
SmithWilliam Hughesa slave named Eliand
myselfwere engaged in fanning wheat. Hughes was
clearing the fanned wheat from before the fan. Eli
was turningSmith was feedingand I was carrying
wheat to the fan. The work was simplerequiring
strength rather than intellect; yetto one entirely
unused to such workit came very hard. About three
o'clock of that dayI broke down; my strength failed
me; I was seized with a violent aching of the head
attended with extreme dizziness; I trembled in every
limb. Finding what was comingI nerved myself
upfeeling it would never do to stop work. I stood
as long as I could stagger to the hopper with grain.
When I could stand no longerI felland felt as
if held down by an immense weight. The fan of
course stopped; every one had his own work to do;
and no one could do the work of the otherand
have his own go on at the same time.

Mr. Covey was at the houseabout one hundred
yards from the treading-yard where we were fanning.
On hearing the fan stophe left immediatelyand
came to the spot where we were. He hastily inquired
what the matter was. Bill answered that I
was sickand there was no one to bring wheat to the
fan. I had by this time crawled away under the
side of the post and rail-fence by which the yard
was enclosedhoping to find relief by getting out
of the sun. He then asked where I was. He was
told by one of the hands. He came to the spotand
after looking at me awhileasked me what was
the matter. I told him as well as I couldfor I scarce
had strength to speak. He then gave me a savage
kick in the sideand told me to get up. I tried to
do sobut fell back in the attempt. He gave me
another kickand again told me to rise. I again
triedand succeeded in gaining my feet; butstooping
to get the tub with which I was feeding the
fanI again staggered and fell. While down in this
situationMr. Covey took up the hickory slat with
which Hughes had been striking off the half-bushel
measureand with it gave me a heavy blow upon
the headmaking a large woundand the blood ran
freely; and with this again told me to get up. I made
no effort to complyhaving now made up my mind
to let him do his worst. In a short time after receiving
this blowmy head grew better. Mr. Covey
had now left me to my fate. At this moment I resolved
for the first timeto go to my masterenter
a complaintand ask his protection. In order to do
thisI must that afternoon walk seven miles; and
thisunder the circumstanceswas truly a severe
undertaking. I was exceedingly feeble; made so as
much by the kicks and blows which I receivedas


by the severe fit of sickness to which I had been
subjected. Ihoweverwatched my chancewhile
Covey was looking in an opposite directionand
started for St. Michael's. I succeeded in getting a
considerable distance on my way to the woodswhen
Covey discovered meand called after me to come
backthreatening what he would do if I did not
come. I disregarded both his calls and his threats
and made my way to the woods as fast as my feeble
state would allow; and thinking I might be overhauled
by him if I kept the roadI walked through
the woodskeeping far enough from the road to
avoid detectionand near enough to prevent losing
my way. I had not gone far before my little strength
again failed me. I could go no farther. I fell down
and lay for a considerable time. The blood was yet
oozing from the wound on my head. For a time I
thought I should bleed to death; and think now that
I should have done sobut that the blood so matted
my hair as to stop the wound. After lying there
about three quarters of an hourI nerved myself
up againand started on my waythrough bogs and
briersbarefooted and bareheadedtearing my feet
sometimes at nearly every step; and after a journey
of about seven milesoccupying some five hours to
perform itI arrived at master's store. I then presented
an appearance enough to affect any but a
heart of iron. From the crown of my head to my
feetI was covered with blood. My hair was all
clotted with dust and blood; my shirt was stiff with
blood. I suppose I looked like a man who had escaped
a den of wild beastsand barely escaped them.
In this state I appeared before my masterhumbly
entreating him to interpose his authority for my
protection. I told him all the circumstances as well
as I couldand it seemedas I spokeat times to
affect him. He would then walk the floorand seek
to justify Covey by saying he expected I deserved
it. He asked me what I wanted. I told himto let
me get a new home; that as sure as I lived with Mr.
Covey againI should live with but to die with
him; that Covey would surely kill me; he was in a
fair way for it. Master Thomas ridiculed the idea
that there was any danger of Mr. Covey's killing
meand said that he knew Mr. Covey; that he was
a good manand that he could not think of taking
me from him; thatshould he do sohe would lose
the whole year's wages; that I belonged to Mr. Covey
for one yearand that I must go back to himcome
what might; and that I must not trouble him with
any more storiesor that he would himself GET HOLD
OF ME. After threatening me thushe gave me a very
large dose of saltstelling me that I might remain
in St. Michael's that night(it being quite late)
but that I must be off back to Mr. Covey's early
in the morning; and that if I did nothe would
~get hold of me~ which meant that he would whip
me. I remained all nightandaccording to his orders
I started off to Covey's in the morning(Saturday
morning) wearied in body and broken in
spirit. I got no supper that nightor breakfast that
morning. I reached Covey's about nine o'clock; and
just as I was getting over the fence that divided
Mrs. Kemp's fields from oursout ran Covey with


his cowskinto give me another whipping. Before
he could reach meI succeeded in getting to the
cornfield; and as the corn was very highit afforded
me the means of hiding. He seemed very angryand
searched for me a long time. My behavior was altogether
unaccountable. He finally gave up the
chasethinkingI supposethat I must come home
for something to eat; he would give himself no further
trouble in looking for me. I spent that day
mostly in the woodshaving the alternative before
me--to go home and be whipped to deathor stay
in the woods and be starved to death. That night
I fell in with Sandy Jenkinsa slave with whom
I was somewhat acquainted. Sandy had a free wife
who lived about four miles from Mr. Covey's; and
it being Saturdayhe was on his way to see her. I
told him my circumstancesand he very kindly invited
me to go home with him. I went home with
himand talked this whole matter overand got his
advice as to what course it was best for me to pursue.
I found Sandy an old adviser. He told mewith
great solemnityI must go back to Covey; but that
before I wentI must go with him into another
part of the woodswhere there was a certain ~root~
whichif I would take some of it with mecarrying
it ~always on my right side~ would render it impossible
for Mr. Coveyor any other white manto
whip me. He said he had carried it for years; and
since he had done sohe had never received a blow
and never expected to while he carried it. I at first
rejected the ideathat the simple carrying of a root
in my pocket would have any such effect as he had
saidand was not disposed to take it; but Sandy
impressed the necessity with much earnestnesstelling
me it could do no harmif it did no good. To
please himI at length took the rootandaccording
to his directioncarried it upon my right
side. This was Sunday morning. I immediately
started for home; and upon entering the yard gate
out came Mr. Covey on his way to meeting. He
spoke to me very kindlybade me drive the pigs
from a lot near byand passed on towards the
church. Nowthis singular conduct of Mr. Covey
really made me begin to think that there was something
in the ROOT which Sandy had given me; and
had it been on any other day than SundayI could
have attributed the conduct to no other cause than
the influence of that root; and as it wasI was half
inclined to think the ~root~ to be something more
than I at first had taken it to be. All went well till
Monday morning. On this morningthe virtue of
the ROOT was fully tested. Long before daylightI
was called to go and rubcurryand feedthe horses.
I obeyedand was glad to obey. But whilst thus
engagedwhilst in the act of throwing down some
blades from the loftMr. Covey entered the stable
with a long rope; and just as I was half out of the
lofthe caught hold of my legsand was about tying
me. As soon as I found what he was up toI gave
a sudden springand as I did sohe holding to my
legsI was brought sprawling on the stable floor.
Mr. Covey seemed now to think he had meand
could do what he pleased; but at this moment-from
whence came the spirit I don't know--I re



solved to fight; andsuiting my action to the resolution
I seized Covey hard by the throat; and as I
did soI rose. He held on to meand I to him. My
resistance was so entirely unexpected that Covey
seemed taken all aback. He trembled like a leaf.
This gave me assuranceand I held him uneasy
causing the blood to run where I touched him with
the ends of my fingers. Mr. Covey soon called out
to Hughes for help. Hughes cameandwhile Covey
held meattempted to tie my right hand. While he
was in the act of doing soI watched my chance
and gave him a heavy kick close under the ribs.
This kick fairly sickened Hughesso that he left
me in the hands of Mr. Covey. This kick had the
effect of not only weakening Hughesbut Covey also.
When he saw Hughes bending over with painhis
courage quailed. He asked me if I meant to persist
in my resistance. I told him I didcome what
might; that he had used me like a brute for six
monthsand that I was determined to be used so
no longer. With thathe strove to drag me to a
stick that was lying just out of the stable door. He
meant to knock me down. But just as he was leaning
over to get the stickI seized him with both hands
by his collarand brought him by a sudden snatch
to the ground. By this timeBill came. Covey called
upon him for assistance. Bill wanted to know what
he could do. Covey saidTake hold of him, take
hold of him!Bill said his master hired him out to
workand not to help to whip me; so he left Covey
and myself to fight our own battle out. We were
at it for nearly two hours. Covey at length let me
gopuffing and blowing at a great ratesaying that
if I had not resistedhe would not have whipped
me half so much. The truth wasthat he had not
whipped me at all. I considered him as getting entirely
the worst end of the bargain; for he had drawn
no blood from mebut I had from him. The whole
six months afterwardsthat I spent with Mr. Covey
he never laid the weight of his finger upon me in
anger. He would occasionally sayhe didn't want
to get hold of me again. "No thought I, you
need not; for you will come off worse than you did
before."

This battle with Mr. Covey was the turningpoint
in my career as a slave. It rekindled the few
expiring embers of freedomand revived within me
a sense of my own manhood. It recalled the departed
self-confidenceand inspired me again with
a determination to be free. The gratification afforded
by the triumph was a full compensation for
whatever else might followeven death itself. He
only can understand the deep satisfaction which I
experiencedwho has himself repelled by force the
bloody arm of slavery. I felt as I never felt before.
It was a glorious resurrectionfrom the tomb of
slaveryto the heaven of freedom. My long-crushed
spirit rosecowardice departedbold defiance took
its place; and I now resolved thathowever long I
might remain a slave in formthe day had passed
forever when I could be a slave in fact. I did not
hesitate to let it be known of methat the white
man who expected to succeed in whippingmust


also succeed in killing me.

From this time I was never again what might be
called fairly whippedthough I remained a slave
four years afterwards. I had several fightsbut was
never whipped.

It was for a long time a matter of surprise to me
why Mr. Covey did not immediately have me taken
by the constable to the whipping-postand there
regularly whipped for the crime of raising my hand
against a white man in defence of myself. And the
only explanation I can now think of does not entirely
satisfy me; but such as it isI will give it. Mr. Covey
enjoyed the most unbounded reputation for being
a first-rate overseer and negro-breaker. It was of considerable
importance to him. That reputation was at
stake; and had he sent me--a boy about sixteen years
old--to the public whipping-posthis reputation
would have been lost; soto save his reputationhe
suffered me to go unpunished.

My term of actual service to Mr. Edward Covey
ended on Christmas day1833. The days between
Christmas and New Year's day are allowed as holidays;
andaccordinglywe were not required to perform
any labormore than to feed and take care of
the stock. This time we regarded as our ownby the
grace of our masters; and we therefore used or
abused it nearly as we pleased. Those of us who had
families at a distancewere generally allowed to
spend the whole six days in their society. This time
howeverwas spent in various ways. The staidsober
thinking and industrious ones of our number would
employ themselves in making corn-broomsmats
horse-collarsand baskets; and another class of us
would spend the time in hunting opossumshares
and coons. But by far the larger part engaged in
such sports and merriments as playing ballwrestling
running foot-racesfiddlingdancingand
drinking whisky; and this latter mode of spending
the time was by far the most agreeable to the feelings
of our masters. A slave who would work during
the holidays was considered by our masters as
scarcely deserving them. He was regarded as one
who rejected the favor of his master. It was deemed
a disgrace not to get drunk at Christmas; and he
was regarded as lazy indeedwho had not provided
himself with the necessary meansduring the year
to get whisky enough to last him through Christmas.

From what I know of the effect of these holidays
upon the slaveI believe them to be among the
most effective means in the hands of the slaveholder
in keeping down the spirit of insurrection. Were
the slaveholders at once to abandon this practice
I have not the slightest doubt it would lead to an
immediate insurrection among the slaves. These
holidays serve as conductorsor safety-valvesto carry
off the rebellious spirit of enslaved humanity. But
for thesethe slave would be forced up to the wildest
desperation; and woe betide the slaveholderthe
day he ventures to remove or hinder the operation
of those conductors! I warn him thatin such an


eventa spirit will go forth in their midstmore to
be dreaded than the most appalling earthquake.

The holidays are part and parcel of the gross
fraudwrongand inhumanity of slavery. They are
professedly a custom established by the benevolence
of the slaveholders; but I undertake to sayit is the
result of selfishnessand one of the grossest frauds
committed upon the down-trodden slave. They do
not give the slaves this time because they would
not like to have their work during its continuance
but because they know it would be unsafe to deprive
them of it. This will be seen by the factthat the
slaveholders like to have their slaves spend those
days just in such a manner as to make them as glad
of their ending as of their beginning. Their object
seems to beto disgust their slaves with freedom
by plunging them into the lowest depths of dissipation.
For instancethe slaveholders not only like to
see the slave drink of his own accordbut will adopt
various plans to make him drunk. One plan isto
make bets on their slavesas to who can drink the
most whisky without getting drunk; and in this way
they succeed in getting whole multitudes to drink
to excess. Thuswhen the slave asks for virtuous
freedomthe cunning slaveholderknowing his ignorance
cheats him with a dose of vicious dissipation
artfully labelled with the name of liberty.
The most of us used to drink it downand the result
was just what might be supposed; many of us
were led to think that there was little to choose
between liberty and slavery. We feltand very properly
toothat we had almost as well be slaves to
man as to rum. Sowhen the holidays endedwe
staggered up from the filth of our wallowingtook
a long breathand marched to the field--feeling
upon the wholerather glad to gofrom what our
master had deceived us into a belief was freedom
back to the arms of slavery.

I have said that this mode of treatment is a part
of the whole system of fraud and inhumanity of
slavery. It is so. The mode here adopted to disgust
the slave with freedomby allowing him to see only
the abuse of itis carried out in other things. For
instancea slave loves molasses; he steals some.
His masterin many casesgoes off to townand
buys a large quantity; he returnstakes his whip
and commands the slave to eat the molassesuntil
the poor fellow is made sick at the very mention
of it. The same mode is sometimes adopted to make
the slaves refrain from asking for more food than
their regular allowance. A slave runs through his
allowanceand applies for more. His master is enraged
at him; butnot willing to send him off without
foodgives him more than is necessaryand compels
him to eat it within a given time. Thenif he
complains that he cannot eat ithe is said to be
satisfied neither full nor fastingand is whipped
for being hard to please! I have an abundance of
such illustrations of the same principledrawn from
my own observationbut think the cases I have cited
sufficient. The practice is a very common one.


On the first of January1834I left Mr. Covey
and went to live with Mr. William Freelandwho
lived about three miles from St. Michael's. I soon
found Mr. Freeland a very different man from Mr.
Covey. Though not richhe was what would be
called an educated southern gentleman. Mr. Covey
as I have shownwas a well-trained negro-breaker
and slave-driver. The former (slaveholder though he
was) seemed to possess some regard for honor
some reverence for justiceand some respect for
humanity. The latter seemed totally insensible to
all such sentiments. Mr. Freeland had many of the
faults peculiar to slaveholderssuch as being very
passionate and fretful; but I must do him the
justice to saythat he was exceedingly free from
those degrading vices to which Mr. Covey was constantly
addicted. The one was open and frankand
we always knew where to find him. The other was a
most artful deceiverand could be understood only
by such as were skilful enough to detect his cunningly-
devised frauds. Another advantage I gained
in my new master washe made no pretensions to
or profession ofreligion; and thisin my opinion
was truly a great advantage. I assert most unhesitatingly
that the religion of the south is a mere
covering for the most horrid crimes--a justifier of
the most appalling barbarity--a sanctifier of the
most hateful frauds--and a dark shelter under
which the darkestfoulestgrossestand most infernal
deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection.
Were I to be again reduced to the chains of
slaverynext to that enslavementI should regard
being the slave of a religious master the greatest
calamity that could befall me. For of all slaveholders
with whom I have ever metreligious slaveholders
are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest
and basestthe most cruel and cowardlyof all others.
It was my unhappy lot not only to belong to a
religious slaveholderbut to live in a community of
such religionists. Very near Mr. Freeland lived the
Rev. Daniel Weedenand in the same neighborhood
lived the Rev. Rigby Hopkins. These were members
and ministers in the Reformed Methodist Church.
Mr. Weeden ownedamong othersa woman slave
whose name I have forgotten. This woman's back
for weekswas kept literally rawmade so by the
lash of this merciless~religious~ wretch. He used to
hire hands. His maxim wasBehave well or behave
illit is the duty of a master occasionally to whip
a slaveto remind him of his master's authority.
Such was his theoryand such his practice.

Mr. Hopkins was even worse than Mr. Weeden.
His chief boast was his ability to manage slaves.
The peculiar feature of his government was that
of whipping slaves in advance of deserving it. He
always managed to have one or more of his slaves
to whip every Monday morning. He did this to alarm
their fearsand strike terror into those who escaped.
His plan was to whip for the smallest offencesto
prevent the commission of large ones. Mr. Hopkins
could always find some excuse for whipping a slave.
It would astonish oneunaccustomed to a slaveholding
lifeto see with what wonderful ease a slave



holder can find thingsof which to make occasion
to whip a slave. A mere lookwordor motion--a
mistakeaccidentor want of power--are all matters
for which a slave may be whipped at any time. Does
a slave look dissatisfied? It is saidhe has the devil
in himand it must be whipped out. Does he speak
loudly when spoken to by his master? Then he is
getting high-mindedand should be taken down a
button-hole lower. Does he forget to pull off his
hat at the approach of a white person? Then he is
wanting in reverenceand should be whipped for
it. Does he ever venture to vindicate his conduct
when censured for it? Then he is guilty of impudence--
one of the greatest crimes of which a slave
can be guilty. Does he ever venture to suggest a
different mode of doing things from that pointed
out by his master? He is indeed presumptuousand
getting above himself; and nothing less than a flogging
will do for him. Does hewhile ploughing
break a plough--orwhile hoeingbreak a hoe? It
is owing to his carelessnessand for it a slave must
always be whipped. Mr. Hopkins could always find
something of this sort to justify the use of the lash
and he seldom failed to embrace such opportunities.
There was not a man in the whole countywith
whom the slaves who had the getting their own
homewould not prefer to liverather than with
this Rev. Mr. Hopkins. And yet there was not a
man any where roundwho made higher professions
of religionor was more active in revivals--more
attentive to the classlove-feastprayer and preaching
meetingsor more devotional in his family-that
prayed earlierlaterlouderand longer--than
this same reverend slave-driverRigby Hopkins.

But to return to Mr. Freelandand to my experience
while in his employment. Helike Mr. Covey
gave us enough to eat; butunlike Mr. Coveyhe
also gave us sufficient time to take our meals. He
worked us hardbut always between sunrise and
sunset. He required a good deal of work to be done
but gave us good tools with which to work. His
farm was largebut he employed hands enough to
work itand with easecompared with many of
his neighbors. My treatmentwhile in his employment
was heavenlycompared with what I experienced
at the hands of Mr. Edward Covey.

Mr. Freeland was himself the owner of but two
slaves. Their names were Henry Harris and John
Harris. The rest of his hands he hired. These consisted
of myselfSandy Jenkins* and Handy Caldwell.
Henry and John were quite intelligentand in
a very little while after I went thereI succeeded in
creating in them a strong desire to learn how to
read. This desire soon sprang up in the others also.
They very soon mustered up some old spelling-books
and nothing would do but that I must keep a Sabbath
school. I agreed to do soand accordingly
devoted my Sundays to teaching these my loved fellow-
slaves how to read. Neither of them knew his
letters when I went there. Some of the slaves of the
neighboring farms found what was going onand
also availed themselves of this little opportunity to


learn to read. It was understoodamong all who
camethat there must be as little display about it
as possible. It was necessary to keep our religious
masters at St. Michael's unacquainted with the fact
thatinstead of spending the Sabbath in wrestling
boxingand drinking whiskywe were trying to learn
how to read the will of God; for they had much

*This is the same man who gave me the roots to prevent
my being whipped by Mr. Covey. He was "a clever soul."
We used frequently to talk about the fight with Coveyand
as often as we did sohe would claim my success as the
result of the roots which he gave me. This superstition
is very common among the more ignorant slaves. A slave
seldom dies but that his death is attributed to trickery.
rather see us engaged in those degrading sportsthan
to see us behaving like intellectualmoraland accountable
beings. My blood boils as I think of the
bloody manner in which Messrs. Wright Fairbanks
and Garrison Westboth class-leadersin connection
with many othersrushed in upon us with sticks
and stonesand broke up our virtuous little Sabbath
schoolat St. Michael's--all calling themselves
Christians! humble followers of the Lord Jesus
Christ! But I am again digressing.

I held my Sabbath school at the house of a free
colored manwhose name I deem it imprudent to
mention; for should it be knownit might embarrass
him greatlythough the crime of holding the
school was committed ten years ago. I had at one
time over forty scholarsand those of the right sort
ardently desiring to learn. They were of all ages
though mostly men and women. I look back to those
Sundays with an amount of pleasure not to be expressed.
They were great days to my soul. The work
of instructing my dear fellow-slaves was the sweetest
engagement with which I was ever blessed. We loved
each otherand to leave them at the close of the
Sabbath was a severe cross indeed. When I think
that these precious souls are to-day shut up in the
prison-house of slaverymy feelings overcome me
and I am almost ready to askDoes a righteous
God govern the universe? and for what does he hold
the thunders in his right hand, if not to smite the
oppressor, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand
of the spoiler?These dear souls came not to Sabbath
school because it was popular to do sonor did
I teach them because it was reputable to be thus
engaged. Every moment they spent in that school
they were liable to be taken upand given thirtynine
lashes. They came because they wished to
learn. Their minds had been starved by their cruel
masters. They had been shut up in mental darkness.
I taught thembecause it was the delight of my
soul to be doing something that looked like bettering
the condition of my race. I kept up my school
nearly the whole year I lived with Mr. Freeland;
andbeside my Sabbath schoolI devoted three evenings
in the weekduring the winterto teaching the
slaves at home. And I have the happiness to know
that several of those who came to Sabbath school
learned how to read; and that oneat leastis now


free through my agency.

The year passed off smoothly. It seemed only
about half as long as the year which preceded it.
I went through it without receiving a single blow.
I will give Mr. Freeland the credit of being the
best master I ever had~till I became my own master.~
For the ease with which I passed the yearI
washoweversomewhat indebted to the society of
my fellow-slaves. They were noble souls; they not
only possessed loving heartsbut brave ones. We
were linked and interlinked with each other. I loved
them with a love stronger than any thing I have
experienced since. It is sometimes said that we
slaves do not love and confide in each other. In
answer to this assertionI can sayI never loved
any or confided in any people more than my fellowslaves
and especially those with whom I lived at
Mr. Freeland's. I believe we would have died for
each other. We never undertook to do any thing
of any importancewithout a mutual consultation.
We never moved separately. We were one; and as
much so by our tempers and dispositionsas by the
mutual hardships to which we were necessarily subjected
by our condition as slaves.

At the close of the year 1834Mr. Freeland again
hired me of my masterfor the year 1835. Butby
this timeI began to want to live ~upon free land~
as well as ~with freeland;~ and I was no longer content
thereforeto live with him or any other slaveholder.
I beganwith the commencement of the
yearto prepare myself for a final strugglewhich
should decide my fate one way or the other. My
tendency was upward. I was fast approaching manhood
and year after year had passedand I was
still a slave. These thoughts roused me--I must do
something. I therefore resolved that 1835 should
not pass without witnessing an attempton my part
to secure my liberty. But I was not willing to cherish
this determination alone. My fellow-slaves were dear
to me. I was anxious to have them participate with
me in thismy life-giving determination. I therefore
though with great prudencecommenced early to
ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their
conditionand to imbue their minds with thoughts
of freedom. I bent myself to devising ways and
means for our escapeand meanwhile stroveon all
fitting occasionsto impress them with the gross
fraud and inhumanity of slavery. I went first to
Henrynext to Johnthen to the others. I found
in them allwarm hearts and noble spirits. They
were ready to hearand ready to act when a feasible
plan should be proposed. This was what I wanted.
I talked to them of our want of manhoodif we
submitted to our enslavement without at least one
noble effort to be free. We met oftenand consulted
frequentlyand told our hopes and fearsrecounted
the difficultiesreal and imaginedwhich we should
be called on to meet. At times we were almost disposed
to give upand try to content ourselves with
our wretched lot; at otherswe were firm and unbending
in our determination to go. Whenever we
suggested any planthere was shrinking--the odds


were fearful. Our path was beset with the greatest
obstacles; and if we succeeded in gaining the end
of itour right to be free was yet questionable--we
were yet liable to be returned to bondage. We could
see no spotthis side of the oceanwhere we could
be free. We knew nothing about Canada. Our
knowledge of the north did not extend farther than
New York; and to go thereand be forever harassed
with the frightful liability of being returned to
slavery--with the certainty of being treated tenfold
worse than before--the thought was truly a horrible
oneand one which it was not easy to overcome.
The case sometimes stood thus: At every gate
through which we were to passwe saw a watchman
--at every ferry a guard--on every bridge a sentinel-and
in every wood a patrol. We were hemmed in
upon every side. Here were the difficultiesreal or
imagined--the good to be soughtand the evil to be
shunned. On the one handthere stood slaverya
stern realityglaring frightfully upon us--its robes
already crimsoned with the blood of millionsand
even now feasting itself greedily upon our own flesh.
On the other handaway back in the dim distance
under the flickering light of the north starbehind
some craggy hill or snow-covered mountainstood
a doubtful freedom--half frozen--beckoning us to
come and share its hospitality. This in itself was
sometimes enough to stagger us; but when we permitted
ourselves to survey the roadwe were frequently
appalled. Upon either side we saw grim
deathassuming the most horrid shapes. Now it was
starvationcausing us to eat our own flesh;--now we
were contending with the wavesand were drowned;
--now we were overtakenand torn to pieces by the
fangs of the terrible bloodhound. We were stung
by scorpionschased by wild beastsbitten by snakes
and finallyafter having nearly reached the desired
spot--after swimming riversencountering wild
beastssleeping in the woodssuffering hunger and
nakedness--we were overtaken by our pursuersand
in our resistancewe were shot dead upon the spot!
I saythis picture sometimes appalled usand made
us

rather bear those ills we had,

Than fly to others, that we knew not of.

In coming to a fixed determination to run away
we did more than Patrick Henrywhen he resolved
upon liberty or death. With us it was a doubtful
liberty at mostand almost certain death if we failed.
For my partI should prefer death to hopeless bondage.


Sandyone of our numbergave up the notion
but still encouraged us. Our company then consisted
of Henry HarrisJohn HarrisHenry BaileyCharles
Robertsand myself. Henry Bailey was my uncle
and belonged to my master. Charles married my
aunt: he belonged to my master's father-in-lawMr.
William Hamilton.


The plan we finally concluded upon wasto get
a large canoe belonging to Mr. Hamiltonand upon
the Saturday night previous to Easter holidays
paddle directly up the Chesapeake Bay. On our arrival
at the head of the baya distance of seventy
or eighty miles from where we livedit was our
purpose to turn our canoe adriftand follow the
guidance of the north star till we got beyond the
limits of Maryland. Our reason for taking the water
route wasthat we were less liable to be suspected as
runaways; we hoped to be regarded as fishermen;
whereasif we should take the land routewe should
be subjected to interruptions of almost every kind.
Any one having a white faceand being so disposed
could stop usand subject us to examination.

The week before our intended startI wrote several
protectionsone for each of us. As well as I
can rememberthey were in the following wordsto
wit:-


This is to certify that I, the undersigned, have
given the bearer, my servant, full liberty to go to
Baltimore, and spend the Easter holidays. Written
with mine own hand, &c., 1835.

WILLIAM HAMILTON

Near St. Michael's, in Talbot county, Maryland.

We were not going to Baltimore; butin going up
the baywe went toward Baltimoreand these protections
were only intended to protect us while on
the bay.

As the time drew near for our departureour
anxiety became more and more intense. It was truly
a matter of life and death with us. The strength of
our determination was about to be fully tested. At
this timeI was very active in explaining every difficulty
removing every doubtdispelling every fear
and inspiring all with the firmness indispensable to
success in our undertaking; assuring them that half
was gained the instant we made the move; we had
talked long enough; we were now ready to move;
if not nowwe never should be; and if we did not
intend to move nowwe had as well fold our arms
sit downand acknowledge ourselves fit only to be
slaves. Thisnone of us were prepared to acknowledge.
Every man stood firm; and at our last meeting
we pledged ourselves afreshin the most solemn
mannerthatat the time appointedwe would certainly
start in pursuit of freedom. This was in the
middle of the weekat the end of which we were
to be off. We wentas usualto our several fields
of laborbut with bosoms highly agitated with
thoughts of our truly hazardous undertaking. We
tried to conceal our feelings as much as possible;
and I think we succeeded very well.

After a painful waitingthe Saturday morning


whose night was to witness our departurecame. I
hailed it with joybring what of sadness it might.
Friday night was a sleepless one for me. I probably
felt more anxious than the restbecause I wasby
common consentat the head of the whole affair.
The responsibility of success or failure lay heavily
upon me. The glory of the oneand the confusion
of the otherwere alike mine. The first two hours
of that morning were such as I never experienced
beforeand hope never to again. Early in the
morningwe wentas usualto the field. We were
spreading manure; and all at oncewhile thus engaged
I was overwhelmed with an indescribable feeling
in the fulness of which I turned to Sandywho
was near byand saidWe are betrayed!Well,
said hethat thought has this moment struck me.
We said no more. I was never more certain of any
thing.

The horn was blown as usualand we went up
from the field to the house for breakfast. I went for
the formmore than for want of any thing to eat
that morning. Just as I got to the housein looking
out at the lane gateI saw four white menwith
two colored men. The white men were on horseback
and the colored ones were walking behindas if tied.
I watched them a few moments till they got up to
our lane gate. Here they haltedand tied the colored
men to the gate-post. I was not yet certain as to
what the matter was. In a few momentsin rode
Mr. Hamiltonwith a speed betokening great excitement.
He came to the doorand inquired if Master
William was in. He was told he was at the barn. Mr.
Hamiltonwithout dismountingrode up to the barn
with extraordinary speed. In a few momentshe and
Mr. Freeland returned to the house. By this time
the three constables rode upand in great haste dismounted
tied their horsesand met Master William
and Mr. Hamilton returning from the barn; and
after talking awhilethey all walked up to the
kitchen door. There was no one in the kitchen but
myself and John. Henry and Sandy were up at the
barn. Mr. Freeland put his head in at the doorand
called me by namesayingthere were some gentlemen
at the door who wished to see me. I stepped
to the doorand inquired what they wanted. They
at once seized meandwithout giving me any satisfaction
tied me--lashing my hands closely together.
I insisted upon knowing what the matter was. They
at length saidthat they had learned I had been in a
scrape,and that I was to be examined before my
master; and if their information proved falseI
should not be hurt.

In a few momentsthey succeeded in tying John.
They then turned to Henrywho had by this time
returnedand commanded him to cross his hands.
I won't!said Henryin a firm toneindicating his
readiness to meet the consequences of his refusal.
Won't you?said Tom Grahamthe constable. "No
I won't!" said Henryin a still stronger tone. With
thistwo of the constables pulled out their shining
pistolsand sworeby their Creatorthat they would
make him cross his hands or kill him. Each cocked


his pistolandwith fingers on the triggerwalked
up to Henrysayingat the same timeif he did not
cross his handsthey would blow his damned heart
out. "Shoot meshoot me!" said Henry; "you can't
kill me but once. Shootshoot--and be damned! ~I
won't be tied!~" This he said in a tone of loud defiance;
and at the same timewith a motion as quick
as lightninghe with one single stroke dashed the
pistols from the hand of each constable. As he did
thisall hands fell upon himandafter beating
him some timethey finally overpowered himand
got him tied.

During the scuffleI managedI know not how
to get my pass outandwithout being discovered
put it into the fire. We were all now tied; and just
as we were to leave for Easton jailBetsy Freeland
mother of William Freelandcame to the door with
her hands full of biscuitsand divided them between
Henry and John. She then delivered herself of a
speechto the following effect:--addressing herself
to meshe said~You devil! You yellow devil!~ it was
you that put it into the heads of Henry and John
to run away. But for you, you long-legged mulatto
devil! Henry nor John would never have thought
of such a thing.I made no replyand was immediately
hurried off towards St. Michael's. Just a moment
previous to the scuffle with HenryMr. Hamilton
suggested the propriety of making a search for
the protections which he had understood Frederick
had written for himself and the rest. Butjust at
the moment he was about carrying his proposal into
effecthis aid was needed in helping to tie Henry;
and the excitement attending the scuffle caused
them either to forgetor to deem it unsafeunder
the circumstancesto search. So we were not yet
convicted of the intention to run away.

When we got about half way to St. Michael's
while the constables having us in charge were looking
aheadHenry inquired of me what he should
do with his pass. I told him to eat it with his biscuit
and own nothing; and we passed the word around
~Own nothing;~and "~Own nothing!~" said we all.
Our confidence in each other was unshaken. We
were resolved to succeed or fail togetherafter the
calamity had befallen us as much as before. We
were now prepared for any thing. We were to be
dragged that morning fifteen miles behind horses
and then to be placed in the Easton jail. When we
reached St. Michael'swe underwent a sort of examination.
We all denied that we ever intended to run
away. We did this more to bring out the evidence
against usthan from any hope of getting clear of
being sold; foras I have saidwe were ready for
that. The fact waswe cared but little where we
wentso we went together. Our greatest concern was
about separation. We dreaded that more than any
thing this side of death. We found the evidence
against us to be the testimony of one person; our
master would not tell who it was; but we came to
a unanimous decision among ourselves as to who
their informant was. We were sent off to the jail at
Easton. When we got therewe were delivered up


to the sheriffMr. Joseph Grahamand by him
placed in jail. HenryJohnand myselfwere placed
in one room together--Charlesand Henry Bailey
in another. Their object in separating us was to
hinder concert.

We had been in jail scarcely twenty minutes
when a swarm of slave tradersand agents for slave
tradersflocked into jail to look at usand to ascertain
if we were for sale. Such a set of beings I
never saw before! I felt myself surrounded by so
many fiends from perdition. A band of pirates never
looked more like their fatherthe devil. They
laughed and grinned over ussayingAh, my boys!
we have got you, haven't we?And after taunting
us in various waysthey one by one went into an
examination of uswith intent to ascertain our value.
They would impudently ask us if we would not like
to have them for our masters. We would make them
no answerand leave them to find out as best they
could. Then they would curse and swear at ustelling
us that they could take the devil out of us in a very
little whileif we were only in their hands.

While in jailwe found ourselves in much more
comfortable quarters than we expected when we
went there. We did not get much to eatnor that
which was very good; but we had a good clean room
from the windows of which we could see what was going
on in the streetwhich was very much better
than though we had been placed in one of the dark
damp cells. Upon the wholewe got along very well
so far as the jail and its keeper were concerned.
Immediately after the holidays were overcontrary
to all our expectationsMr. Hamilton and Mr. Freeland
came up to Eastonand took Charlesthe two
Henrysand Johnout of jailand carried them
homeleaving me alone. I regarded this separation
as a final one. It caused me more pain than any
thing else in the whole transaction. I was ready for
any thing rather than separation. I supposed that
they had consulted togetherand had decided that
as I was the whole cause of the intention of the
others to run awayit was hard to make the innocent
suffer with the guilty; and that they hadtherefore
concluded to take the others homeand sell meas
a warning to the others that remained. It is due
to the noble Henry to sayhe seemed almost as
reluctant at leaving the prison as at leaving home
to come to the prison. But we knew we shouldin
all probabilitybe separatedif we were sold; and
since he was in their handshe concluded to go
peaceably home.

I was now left to my fate. I was all aloneand
within the walls of a stone prison. But a few days
beforeand I was full of hope. I expected to have
been safe in a land of freedom; but now I was covered
with gloomsunk down to the utmost despair.
I thought the possibility of freedom was gone. I
was kept in this way about one weekat the end
of whichCaptain Auldmy masterto my surprise
and utter astonishmentcame upand took me out
with the intention of sending mewith a gentleman


of his acquaintanceinto Alabama. Butfrom some
cause or otherhe did not send me to Alabama
but concluded to send me back to Baltimoreto
live again with his brother Hughand to learn a
trade.

Thusafter an absence of three years and one
monthI was once more permitted to return to my
old home at Baltimore. My master sent me away
because there existed against me a very great prejudice
in the communityand he feared I might be
killed.

In a few weeks after I went to BaltimoreMaster
Hugh hired me to Mr. William Gardneran extensive
ship-builderon Fell's Point. I was put there
to learn how to calk. Ithoweverproved a very
unfavorable place for the accomplishment of this
object. Mr. Gardner was engaged that spring in
building two large man-of-war brigsprofessedly for
the Mexican government. The vessels were to be
launched in the July of that yearand in failure
thereofMr. Gardner was to lose a considerable sum;
so that when I enteredall was hurry. There was
no time to learn any thing. Every man had to do
that which he knew how to do. In entering the shipyard
my orders from Mr. Gardner wereto do whatever
the carpenters commanded me to do. This was
placing me at the beck and call of about seventy-five
men. I was to regard all these as masters. Their
word was to be my law. My situation was a most
trying one. At times I needed a dozen pair of hands.
I was called a dozen ways in the space of a single
minute. Three or four voices would strike my ear
at the same moment. It was--"Fred.come help me
to cant this timber here."--"Fred.come carry this
timber yonder."--"Fred.bring that roller here."-"
Fred.go get a fresh can of water."--"Fred.come
help saw off the end of this timber."--"Fred.go
quickand get the crowbar."--"Fred.hold on the
end of this fall."--"Fred.go to the blacksmith's
shopand get a new punch."--"HurraFred.! run
and bring me a cold chisel."--"I sayFred.bear a
handand get up a fire as quick as lightning under
that steam-box."--"Halloonigger! cometurn this
grindstone."--"Comecome! movemove! and BOWSE
this timber forward."--"I saydarkyblast your eyes
why don't you heat up some pitch?"--"Halloo!
halloo! halloo!" (Three voices at the same time.)
Come here!--Go there!--Hold on where you are!
Damn you, if you move, I'll knock your brains out!

This was my school for eight months; and I might
have remained there longerbut for a most horrid
fight I had with four of the white apprenticesin
which my left eye was nearly knocked outand I
was horribly mangled in other respects. The facts
in the case were these: Until a very little while
after I went therewhite and black ship-carpenters
worked side by sideand no one seemed to see any
impropriety in it. All hands seemed to be very well
satisfied. Many of the black carpenters were freemen.
Things seemed to be going on very well. All at once
the white carpenters knocked offand said they


would not work with free colored workmen. Their
reason for thisas allegedwasthat if free colored
carpenters were encouragedthey would soon take
the trade into their own handsand poor white men
would be thrown out of employment. They therefore
felt called upon at once to put a stop to it. And
taking advantage of Mr. Gardner's necessitiesthey
broke offswearing they would work no longerunless
he would discharge his black carpenters. Now
though this did not extend to me in formit did
reach me in fact. My fellow-apprentices very soon
began to feel it degrading to them to work with
me. They began to put on airsand talk about the
niggerstaking the countrysaying we all ought to
be killed; andbeing encouraged by the journeymen
they commenced making my condition as
hard as they couldby hectoring me aroundand
sometimes striking me. Iof coursekept the vow
I made after the fight with Mr. Coveyand struck
back againregardless of consequences; and while
I kept them from combiningI succeeded very well;
for I could whip the whole of themtaking them
separately. Theyhoweverat length combinedand
came upon mearmed with sticksstonesand heavy
handspikes. One came in front with a half brick.
There was one at each side of meand one behind
me. While I was attending to those in frontand on
either sidethe one behind ran up with the handspike
and struck me a heavy blow upon the head.
It stunned me. I felland with this they all ran
upon meand fell to beating me with their fists. I
let them lay on for a whilegathering strength. In
an instantI gave a sudden surgeand rose to my
hands and knees. Just as I did thatone of their
number gave mewith his heavy boota powerful
kick in the left eye. My eyeball seemed to have
burst. When they saw my eye closedand badly
swollenthey left me. With this I seized the handspike
and for a time pursued them. But here the
carpenters interferedand I thought I might as well
give it up. It was impossible to stand my hand
against so many. All this took place in sight of not
less than fifty white ship-carpentersand not one
interposed a friendly word; but some criedKill
the damned nigger! Kill him! kill him! He struck
a white person.I found my only chance for life
was in flight. I succeeded in getting away without
an additional blowand barely so; for to strike a
white man is death by Lynch law--and that was the
law in Mr. Gardner's ship-yard; nor is there much
of any other out of Mr. Gardner's ship-yard.

I went directly homeand told the story of my
wrongs to Master Hugh; and I am happy to say of
himirreligious as he washis conduct was heavenly
compared with that of his brother Thomas under
similar circumstances. He listened attentively to my
narration of the circumstances leading to the savage
outrageand gave many proofs of his strong indignation
at it. The heart of my once overkind mistress
was again melted into pity. My puffed-out eye and
blood-covered face moved her to tears. She took a
chair by mewashed the blood from my faceand
with a mother's tendernessbound up my head


covering the wounded eye with a lean piece of fresh
beef. It was almost compensation for my suffering
to witnessonce morea manifestation of kindness
from thismy once affectionate old mistress. Master
Hugh was very much enraged. He gave expression
to his feelings by pouring out curses upon the heads
of those who did the deed. As soon as I got a little
the better of my bruiseshe took me with him to
Esquire Watson'son Bond Streetto see what could
be done about the matter. Mr. Watson inquired who
saw the assault committed. Master Hugh told him
it was done in Mr. Gardner's ship-yard at midday
where there were a large company of men at work.
As to that,he saidthe deed was done, and there
was no question as to who did it.His answer was
he could do nothing in the caseunless some white
man would come forward and testify. He could
issue no warrant on my word. If I had been killed
in the presence of a thousand colored peopletheir
testimony combined would have been insufficient
to have arrested one of the murderers. Master Hugh
for oncewas compelled to say this state of things
was too bad. Of courseit was impossible to get any
white man to volunteer his testimony in my behalf
and against the white young men. Even those who
may have sympathized with me were not prepared
to do this. It required a degree of courage unknown
to them to do so; for just at that timethe slightest
manifestation of humanity toward a colored person
was denounced as abolitionismand that name subjected
its bearer to frightful liabilities. The watchwords
of the bloody-minded in that regionand in
those dayswereDamn the abolitionists!and
Damn the niggers!There was nothing doneand
probably nothing would have been done if I had
been killed. Such wasand such remainsthe state
of things in the Christian city of Baltimore.

Master Hughfinding he could get no redressrefused
to let me go back again to Mr. Gardner. He
kept me himselfand his wife dressed my wound
till I was again restored to health. He then took me
into the ship-yard of which he was foremanin the
employment of Mr. Walter Price. There I was immediately
set to calkingand very soon learned the
art of using my mallet and irons. In the course of
one year from the time I left Mr. Gardner'sI was
able to command the highest wages given to the
most experienced calkers. I was now of some importance
to my master. I was bringing him from six
to seven dollars per week. I sometimes brought him
nine dollars per week: my wages were a dollar and
a half a day. After learning how to calkI sought
my own employmentmade my own contractsand
collected the money which I earned. My pathway
became much more smooth than before; my condition
was now much more comfortable. When I could
get no calking to doI did nothing. During these
leisure timesthose old notions about freedom would
steal over me again. When in Mr. Gardner's employment
I was kept in such a perpetual whirl of excitement
I could think of nothingscarcelybut
my life; and in thinking of my lifeI almost forgot
my liberty. I have observed this in my experience


of slavery--that whenever my condition was improved
instead of its increasing my contentment
it only increased my desire to be freeand set me to
thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found
thatto make a contented slaveit is necessary to
make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his
moral and mental visionandas far as possibleto
annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to
detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made
to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought
to that only when he ceases to be a man.

I was now gettingas I have saidone dollar and
fifty cents per day. I contracted for it; I earned it;
it was paid to me; it was rightfully my own; yet
upon each returning Saturday nightI was compelled
to deliver every cent of that money to Master Hugh.
And why? Not because he earned it--not because
he had any hand in earning it--not because I owed
it to him--nor because he possessed the slightest
shadow of a right to it; but solely because he had
the power to compel me to give it up. The right of
the grim-visaged pirate upon the high seas is exactly
the same.

CHAPTER XI

I now come to that part of my life during which I
plannedand finally succeeded in makingmy escape
from slavery. But before narrating any of the peculiar
circumstancesI deem it proper to make
known my intention not to state all the facts connected
with the transaction. My reasons for pursuing
this course may be understood from the following:
Firstwere I to give a minute statement of all the
factsit is not only possiblebut quite probablethat
others would thereby be involved in the most embarrassing
difficulties. Secondlysuch a statement would
most undoubtedly induce greater vigilance on the
part of slaveholders than has existed heretofore
among them; which wouldof coursebe the means
of guarding a door whereby some dear brother bondman
might escape his galling chains. I deeply regret
the necessity that impels me to suppress any thing
of importance connected with my experience in
slavery. It would afford me great pleasure indeed
as well as materially add to the interest of my narrative
were I at liberty to gratify a curiositywhich
I know exists in the minds of manyby an accurate
statement of all the facts pertaining to my most
fortunate escape. But I must deprive myself of this
pleasureand the curious of the gratification which
such a statement would afford. I would allow myself
to suffer under the greatest imputations which
evil-minded men might suggestrather than exculpate
myselfand thereby run the hazard of closing
the slightest avenue by which a brother slave might
clear himself of the chains and fetters of slavery.

I have never approved of the very public manner
in which some of our western friends have conducted


what they call the ~underground railroad~ but which
I thinkby their open declarationshas been made
most emphatically the ~upperground railroad.~ I honor
those good men and women for their noble daring
and applaud them for willingly subjecting themselves
to bloody persecutionby openly avowing their
participation in the escape of slaves. Ihowevercan
see very little good resulting from such a course
either to themselves or the slaves escaping; while
upon the other handI see and feel assured that
those open declarations are a positive evil to the
slaves remainingwho are seeking to escape. They
do nothing towards enlightening the slavewhilst
they do much towards enlightening the master.
They stimulate him to greater watchfulnessand
enhance his power to capture his slave. We owe
something to the slave south of the line as well as
to those north of it; and in aiding the latter on their
way to freedomwe should be careful to do nothing
which would be likely to hinder the former from
escaping from slavery. I would keep the merciless
slaveholder profoundly ignorant of the means of
flight adopted by the slave. I would leave him to
imagine himself surrounded by myriads of invisible
tormentorsever ready to snatch from his infernal
grasp his trembling prey. Let him be left to feel
his way in the dark; let darkness commensurate with
his crime hover over him; and let him feel that at
every step he takesin pursuit of the flying bondman
he is running the frightful risk of having his hot
brains dashed out by an invisible agency. Let us
render the tyrant no aid; let us not hold the light
by which he can trace the footprints of our flying
brother. But enough of this. I will now proceed to
the statement of those factsconnected with my
escapefor which I am alone responsibleand for
which no one can be made to suffer but myself.

In the early part of the year 1838I became quite
restless. I could see no reason why I shouldat the
end of each weekpour the reward of my toil into
the purse of my master. When I carried to him my
weekly wageshe wouldafter counting the money
look me in the face with a robber-like fierceness
and askIs this all?He was satisfied with nothing
less than the last cent. He wouldhoweverwhen I
made him six dollarssometimes give me six cents
to encourage me. It had the opposite effect. I regarded
it as a sort of admission of my right to the
whole. The fact that he gave me any part of my
wages was proofto my mindthat he believed me
entitled to the whole of them. I always felt worse
for having received any thing; for I feared that the
giving me a few cents would ease his conscience
and make him feel himself to be a pretty honorable
sort of robber. My discontent grew upon me. I was
ever on the look-out for means of escape; andfinding
no direct meansI determined to try to hire my
timewith a view of getting money with which to
make my escape. In the spring of 1838when Master
Thomas came to Baltimore to purchase his spring
goodsI got an opportunityand applied to him to
allow me to hire my time. He unhesitatingly refused
my requestand told me this was another stratagem


by which to escape. He told me I could go nowhere
but that he could get me; and thatin the event
of my running awayhe should spare no pains in his
efforts to catch me. He exhorted me to content
myselfand be obedient. He told meif I would
be happyI must lay out no plans for the future.
He saidif I behaved myself properlyhe would take
care of me. Indeedhe advised me to complete
thoughtlessness of the futureand taught me to depend
solely upon him for happiness. He seemed to
see fully the pressing necessity of setting aside my
intellectual naturein order to contentment in
slavery. But in spite of himand even in spite of
myselfI continued to thinkand to think about
the injustice of my enslavementand the means of
escape.

About two months after thisI applied to Master
Hugh for the privilege of hiring my time. He was
not acquainted with the fact that I had applied to
Master Thomasand had been refused. He tooat
firstseemed disposed to refuse; butafter some reflection
he granted me the privilegeand proposed
the following terms: I was to be allowed all my
timemake all contracts with those for whom I
workedand find my own employment; andin return
for this libertyI was to pay him three dollars
at the end of each week; find myself in calking tools
and in board and clothing. My board was two dollars
and a half per week. Thiswith the wear and
tear of clothing and calking toolsmade my regular
expenses about six dollars per week. This amount
I was compelled to make upor relinquish the
privilege of hiring my time. Rain or shinework or
no workat the end of each week the money must
be forthcomingor I must give up my privilege. This
arrangementit will be perceivedwas decidedly in
my master's favor. It relieved him of all need of
looking after me. His money was sure. He received
all the benefits of slaveholding without its evils;
while I endured all the evils of a slaveand suffered
all the care and anxiety of a freeman. I found it a
hard bargain. Buthard as it wasI thought it better
than the old mode of getting along. It was a step
towards freedom to be allowed to bear the responsibilities
of a freemanand I was determined to hold
on upon it. I bent myself to the work of making
money. I was ready to work at night as well as day
and by the most untiring perseverance and industry
I made enough to meet my expensesand lay up
a little money every week. I went on thus from May
till August. Master Hugh then refused to allow me
to hire my time longer. The ground for his refusal
was a failure on my partone Saturday nightto pay
him for my week's time. This failure was occasioned
by my attending a camp meeting about ten miles
from Baltimore. During the weekI had entered
into an engagement with a number of young friends
to start from Baltimore to the camp ground early
Saturday evening; and being detained by my employer
I was unable to get down to Master Hugh's
without disappointing the company. I knew that
Master Hugh was in no special need of the money
that night. I therefore decided to go to camp meet



ingand upon my return pay him the three dollars.
I staid at the camp meeting one day longer than I
intended when I left. But as soon as I returnedI
called upon him to pay him what he considered his
due. I found him very angry; he could scarce restrain
his wrath. He said he had a great mind to give me a
severe whipping. He wished to know how I dared
go out of the city without asking his permission. I
told him I hired my time and while I paid him the
price which he asked for itI did not know that I
was bound to ask him when and where I should go.
This reply troubled him; andafter reflecting a few
momentshe turned to meand said I should hire
my time no longer; that the next thing he should
know ofI would be running away. Upon the same
pleahe told me to bring my tools and clothing
home forthwith. I did so; but instead of seeking
workas I had been accustomed to do previously to
hiring my timeI spent the whole week without
the performance of a single stroke of work. I did this
in retaliation. Saturday nighthe called upon me
as usual for my week's wages. I told him I had no
wages; I had done no work that week. Here we
were upon the point of coming to blows. He raved
and swore his determination to get hold of me. I did
not allow myself a single word; but was resolvedif
he laid the weight of his hand upon meit should
be blow for blow. He did not strike mebut told me
that he would find me in constant employment in
future. I thought the matter over during the next day
Sundayand finally resolved upon the third day of
Septemberas the day upon which I would make a
second attempt to secure my freedom. I now had
three weeks during which to prepare for my journey.
Early on Monday morningbefore Master Hugh had
time to make any engagement for meI went out
and got employment of Mr. Butlerat his ship-yard
near the drawbridgeupon what is called the City
Blockthus making it unnecessary for him to seek
employment for me. At the end of the weekI
brought him between eight and nine dollars. He
seemed very well pleasedand asked why I did not
do the same the week before. He little knew what
my plans were. My object in working steadily was
to remove any suspicion he might entertain of my
intent to run away; and in this I succeeded admirably.
I suppose he thought I was never better
satisfied with my condition than at the very time
during which I was planning my escape. The second
week passedand again I carried him my full wages;
and so well pleased was hethat he gave me twentyfive
cents(quite a large sum for a slaveholder to
give a slave) and bade me to make a good use of it.
I told him I would.

Things went on without very smoothly indeed
but within there was trouble. It is impossible for
me to describe my feelings as the time of my contemplated
start drew near. I had a number of warmhearted
friends in Baltimore--friends that I loved
almost as I did my life--and the thought of being
separated from them forever was painful beyond
expression. It is my opinion that thousands would
escape from slaverywho now remainbut for the


strong cords of affection that bind them to their
friends. The thought of leaving my friends was decidedly
the most painful thought with which I had
to contend. The love of them was my tender point
and shook my decision more than all things else.
Besides the pain of separationthe dread and apprehension
of a failure exceeded what I had experienced
at my first attempt. The appalling defeat I then
sustained returned to torment me. I felt assured
thatif I failed in this attemptmy case would be
a hopeless one--it would seal my fate as a slave forever.
I could not hope to get off with any thing less
than the severest punishmentand being placed
beyond the means of escape. It required no very
vivid imagination to depict the most frightful
scenes through which I should have to passin case
I failed. The wretchedness of slaveryand the
blessedness of freedomwere perpetually before me.
It was life and death with me. But I remained
firmandaccording to my resolutionon the third
day of September1838I left my chainsand succeeded
in reaching New York without the slightest
interruption of any kind. How I did so--what means
I adopted--what direction I travelledand by what
mode of conveyance--I must leave unexplained
for the reasons before mentioned.

I have been frequently asked how I felt when I
found myself in a free State. I have never been able
to answer the question with any satisfaction to myself.
It was a moment of the highest excitement I
ever experienced. I suppose I felt as one may imagine
the unarmed mariner to feel when he is rescued
by a friendly man-of-war from the pursuit of a pirate.
In writing to a dear friendimmediately after my
arrival at New YorkI said I felt like one who had
escaped a den of hungry lions. This state of mind
howeververy soon subsided; and I was again seized
with a feeling of great insecurity and loneliness. I
was yet liable to be taken backand subjected to
all the tortures of slavery. This in itself was enough
to damp the ardor of my enthusiasm. But the loneliness
overcame me. There I was in the midst of
thousandsand yet a perfect stranger; without home
and without friendsin the midst of thousands of my
own brethren--children of a common Fatherand
yet I dared not to unfold to any one of them my
sad condition. I was afraid to speak to any one for
fear of speaking to the wrong oneand thereby falling
into the hands of money-loving kidnappers
whose business it was to lie in wait for the panting
fugitiveas the ferocious beasts of the forest lie in
wait for their prey. The motto which I adopted
when I started from slavery was this--"Trust no
man!" I saw in every white man an enemyand in
almost every colored man cause for distrust. It was
a most painful situation; andto understand itone
must needs experience itor imagine himself in
similar circumstances. Let him be a fugitive slave in
a strange land--a land given up to be the huntingground
for slaveholders--whose inhabitants are legalized
kidnappers--where he is every moment subjected
to the terrible liability of being seized upon
by his fellowmenas the hideous crocodile seizes


upon his prey!--I saylet him place himself in my
situation--without home or friends--without money
or credit--wanting shelterand no one to give it-wanting
breadand no money to buy it--and at the
same time let him feel that he is pursued by merciless
men-huntersand in total darkness as to what
to dowhere to goor where to stay--perfectly helpless
both as to the means of defence and means of
escape--in the midst of plentyyet suffering the terrible
gnawings of hunger--in the midst of houses
yet having no home--among fellow-menyet feeling
as if in the midst of wild beastswhose greediness
to swallow up the trembling and half-famished fugitive
is only equalled by that with which the monsters
of the deep swallow up the helpless fish upon which
they subsist--I saylet him be placed in this most
trying situation--the situation in which I was placed
--thenand not till thenwill he fully appreciate the
hardships ofand know how to sympathize withthe
toil-worn and whip-scarred fugitive slave.

Thank HeavenI remained but a short time in
this distressed situation. I was relieved from it by the
humane hand of Mr. DAVID RUGGLESwhose vigilance
kindnessand perseveranceI shall never forget.
I am glad of an opportunity to expressas far as
words canthe love and gratitude I bear him. Mr.
Ruggles is now afflicted with blindnessand is himself
in need of the same kind offices which he was
once so forward in the performance of toward others.
I had been in New York but a few dayswhen Mr.
Ruggles sought me outand very kindly took me
to his boarding-house at the corner of Church and
Lespenard Streets. Mr. Ruggles was then very deeply
engaged in the memorable ~Darg~ caseas well as attending
to a number of other fugitive slavesdevising
ways and means for their successful escape; and
though watched and hemmed in on almost every
sidehe seemed to be more than a match for his
enemies.

Very soon after I went to Mr. Ruggleshe wished
to know of me where I wanted to go; as he deemed
it unsafe for me to remain in New York. I told him
I was a calkerand should like to go where I could
get work. I thought of going to Canada; but he decided
against itand in favor of my going to New
Bedfordthinking I should be able to get work there
at my trade. At this timeAnna* my intended wife
came on; for I wrote to her immediately after my
arrival at New York(notwithstanding my homeless
houselessand helpless condition) informing her of
my successful flightand wishing her to come on
forthwith. In a few days after her arrivalMr. Ruggles
called in the Rev. J. W. C. Penningtonwhoin
the presence of Mr. RugglesMrs. Michaelsand
two or three othersperformed the marriage ceremony
and gave us a certificateof which the following
is an exact copy:-


This may certify, that I joined together in holy
matrimony Frederick Johnson+ and Anna Murray, as
man and wife, in the presence of Mr. David Ruggles


and Mrs. Michaels.

JAMES W. C. PENNINGTON

NEW YORK, SEPT. 15, 1838

Upon receiving this certificateand a five-dollar
bill from Mr. RugglesI shouldered one part of our
baggageand Anna took up the otherand we set
out forthwith to take passage on board of the steamboat
John W. Richmond for Newporton our way
to New Bedford. Mr. Ruggles gave me a letter to a
Mr. Shaw in Newportand told mein case my
money did not serve me to New Bedfordto stop in
Newport and obtain further assistance; but upon our

*She was free.

+I had changed my name from Frederick BAILEY
to that of JOHNSON.

arrival at Newportwe were so anxious to get to a
place of safetythatnotwithstanding we lacked the
necessary money to pay our farewe decided to take
seats in the stageand promise to pay when we got
to New Bedford. We were encouraged to do this by
two excellent gentlemenresidents of New Bedford
whose names I afterward ascertained to be Joseph
Ricketson and William C. Taber. They seemed at
once to understand our circumstancesand gave us
such assurance of their friendliness as put us fully
at ease in their presence. It was good indeed to meet
with such friendsat such a time. Upon reaching
New Bedfordwe were directed to the house of Mr.
Nathan Johnsonby whom we were kindly received
and hospitably provided for. Both Mr. and Mrs.
Johnson took a deep and lively interest in our welfare.
They proved themselves quite worthy of the
name of abolitionists. When the stage-driver found
us unable to pay our farehe held on upon our baggage
as security for the debt. I had but to mention
the fact to Mr. Johnsonand he forthwith advanced
the money.

We now began to feel a degree of safetyand to
prepare ourselves for the duties and responsibilities
of a life of freedom. On the morning after our arrival
at New Bedfordwhile at the breakfast-table
the question arose as to what name I should be
called by. The name given me by my mother was
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey.Ihowever
had dispensed with the two middle names long
before I left Maryland so that I was generally known
by the name of "Frederick Bailey." I started from
Baltimore bearing the name of "Stanley." When I
got to New YorkI again changed my name to "Frederick
Johnson and thought that would be the last
change. But when I got to New Bedford, I found it
necessary again to change my name. The reason of
this necessity was, that there were so many Johnsons
in New Bedford, it was already quite difficult to


distinguish between them. I gave Mr. Johnson the
privilege of choosing me a name, but told him he
must not take from me the name of Frederick."
I must hold on to thatto preserve a sense of my
identity. Mr. Johnson had just been reading the
Lady of the Lake,and at once suggested that my
name be "Douglass." From that time until now I
have been called "Frederick Douglass;" and as I am
more widely known by that name than by either of
the othersI shall continue to use it as my own.

I was quite disappointed at the general appearance
of things in New Bedford. The impression
which I had received respecting the character and
condition of the people of the northI found to be
singularly erroneous. I had very strangely supposed
while in slaverythat few of the comfortsand
scarcely any of the luxuriesof life were enjoyed at
the northcompared with what were enjoyed by the
slaveholders of the south. I probably came to this
conclusion from the fact that northern people owned
no slaves. I supposed that they were about upon a
level with the non-slaveholding population of the
south. I knew ~they~ were exceedingly poorand I had
been accustomed to regard their poverty as the necessary
consequence of their being non-slaveholders.
I had somehow imbibed the opinion thatin the
absence of slavesthere could be no wealthand very
little refinement. And upon coming to the northI
expected to meet with a roughhard-handedand
uncultivated populationliving in the most Spartanlike
simplicityknowing nothing of the easeluxury
pompand grandeur of southern slaveholders. Such
being my conjecturesany one acquainted with the
appearance of New Bedford may very readily infer
how palpably I must have seen my mistake.

In the afternoon of the day when I reached New
BedfordI visited the wharvesto take a view of the
shipping. Here I found myself surrounded with the
strongest proofs of wealth. Lying at the wharvesand
riding in the streamI saw many ships of the finest
modelin the best orderand of the largest size.
Upon the right and leftI was walled in by granite
warehouses of the widest dimensionsstowed to their
utmost capacity with the necessaries and comforts
of life. Added to thisalmost every body seemed to
be at workbut noiselessly socompared with what
I had been accustomed to in Baltimore. There were
no loud songs heard from those engaged in loading
and unloading ships. I heard no deep oaths or horrid
curses on the laborer. I saw no whipping of men;
but all seemed to go smoothly on. Every man appeared
to understand his workand went at it with
a soberyet cheerful earnestnesswhich betokened
the deep interest which he felt in what he was doing
as well as a sense of his own dignity as a man. To me
this looked exceedingly strange. From the wharves I
strolled around and over the towngazing with wonder
and admiration at the splendid churchesbeautiful
dwellingsand finely-cultivated gardens; evincing
an amount of wealthcomforttasteand refinement
such as I had never seen in any part of slaveholding
Maryland.


Every thing looked cleannewand beautiful.

I
saw few or no dilapidated houseswith povertystricken
inmates; no half-naked children and barefooted
womensuch as I had been accustomed to see
in HillsboroughEastonSt. Michael'sand Baltimore.
The people looked more ablestrongerhealthier
and happierthan those of Maryland. I was for
once made glad by a view of extreme wealthwithout
being saddened by seeing extreme poverty. But the
most astonishing as well as the most interesting thing
to me was the condition of the colored peoplea
great many of whomlike myselfhad escaped
thither as a refuge from the hunters of men. I found
manywho had not been seven years out of their
chainsliving in finer housesand evidently enjoying
more of the comforts of lifethan the average of
slaveholders in Maryland. I will venture to assert
that my friend Mr. Nathan Johnson (of whom I
can say with a grateful heartI was hungry, and he
gave me meat; I was thirsty, and he gave me drink;
I was a stranger, and he took me in) lived in a
neater house; dined at a better table; tookpaid
forand readmore newspapers; better understood
the moralreligiousand political character of the
nation--than nine tenths of the slaveholders in Talbot
county Maryland. Yet Mr. Johnson was a working
man. His hands were hardened by toiland not
his alonebut those also of Mrs. Johnson. I found the
colored people much more spirited than I had supposed
they would be. I found among them a determination
to protect each other from the blood-thirsty
kidnapperat all hazards. Soon after my arrivalI
was told of a circumstance which illustrated their
spirit. A colored man and a fugitive slave were on
unfriendly terms. The former was heard to threaten
the latter with informing his master of his whereabouts.
Straightway a meeting was called among the
colored peopleunder the stereotyped noticeBusiness
of importance!The betrayer was invited to attend.
The people came at the appointed hourand
organized the meeting by appointing a very religious
old gentleman as presidentwhoI believemade a
prayerafter which he addressed the meeting as follows:
~Friends, we have got him here, and I would
recommend that you young men just take him outside
the door, and kill him!~With thisa number
of them bolted at him; but they were intercepted
by some more timid than themselvesand the betrayer
escaped their vengeanceand has not been
seen in New Bedford since. I believe there have
been no more such threatsand should there be hereafter
I doubt not that death would be the consequence.


I found employmentthe third day after my arrival
in stowing a sloop with a load of oil. It was
newdirtyand hard work for me; but I went at it
with a glad heart and a willing hand. I was now my
own master. It was a happy momentthe rapture of
which can be understood only by those who have
been slaves. It was the first workthe reward of
which was to be entirely my own. There was no Master
Hugh standing readythe moment I earned the


moneyto rob me of it. I worked that day with a
pleasure I had never before experienced. I was at
work for myself and newly-married wife. It was to me
the starting-point of a new existence. When I got
through with that jobI went in pursuit of a job of
calking; but such was the strength of prejudice
against coloramong the white calkersthat they refused
to work with meand of course I could get no
employment.* Finding my trade of no immediate
benefitI threw off my calking habilimentsand prepared
myself to do any kind of work I could get to
do. Mr. Johnson kindly let me have his wood-horse
and sawand I very soon found myself a plenty of
work. There was no work too hard--none too dirty.
I was ready to saw woodshovel coalcarry wood
sweep the chimneyor roll oil casks--all of which I

* I am told that colored persons can now get employment
at calking in New Bedford--a result of anti-slavery effort.
did for nearly three years in New Bedfordbefore I
became known to the anti-slavery world.
In about four months after I went to New Bedford
there came a young man to meand inquired
if I did not wish to take the "Liberator." I told him
I did; butjust having made my escape from slavery
I remarked that I was unable to pay for it then. I
howeverfinally became a subscriber to it. The paper
cameand I read it from week to week with such
feelings as it would be quite idle for me to attempt
to describe. The paper became my meat and my
drink. My soul was set all on fire. Its sympathy for
my brethren in bonds--its scathing denunciations of
slaveholders--its faithful exposures of slavery--and its
powerful attacks upon the upholders of the institution--
sent a thrill of joy through my soulsuch as
I had never felt before!

I had not long been a reader of the "Liberator
before I got a pretty correct idea of the principles,
measures and spirit of the anti-slavery reform. I took
right hold of the cause. I could do but little; but
what I could, I did with a joyful heart, and never felt
happier than when in an anti-slavery meeting. I seldom
had much to say at the meetings, because what
I wanted to say was said so much better by others.
But, while attending an anti-slavery convention at
Nantucket, on the 11th of August, 1841, I felt
strongly moved to speak, and was at the same time
much urged to do so by Mr. William C. Coffin, a
gentleman who had heard me speak in the colored
people's meeting at New Bedford. It was a severe
cross, and I took it up reluctantly. The truth was,
I felt myself a slave, and the idea of speaking to
white people weighed me down. I spoke but a few
moments, when I felt a degree of freedom, and said
what I desired with considerable ease. From that
time until now, I have been engaged in pleading the
cause of my brethren--with what success, and with
what devotion, I leave those acquainted with my labors
to decide.


APPENDIX

I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative,
that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a
tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly
lead those unacquainted with my religious views
to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove
the liability of such misapprehension, I deem
it proper to append the following brief explanation.
What I have said respecting and against religion, I
mean strictly to apply to the ~slaveholding religion~ of
this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity
proper; for, between the Christianity of this
land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the
widest possible difference--so wide, that to receive
the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject
the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the
friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy
of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial
Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt,
slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering,
partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.
Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful
one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.
I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the
boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.
Never was there a clearer case of stealing the livery
of the court of heaven to serve the devil in." I am
filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate
the religious pomp and showtogether with the
horrible inconsistencieswhich every where surround
me. We have men-stealers for ministerswomenwhippers
for missionariesand cradle-plunderers for
church members. The man who wields the bloodclotted
cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on
Sundayand claims to be a minister of the meek and
lowly Jesus. The man who robs me of my earnings
at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader
on Sunday morningto show me the way of life
and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister
for purposes of prostitutionstands forth as the pious
advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious
duty to read the Bible denies me the right
of learning to read the name of the God who made
me. He who is the religious advocate of marriage
robs whole millions of its sacred influenceand leaves
them to the ravages of wholesale pollution. The
warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation
is the same that scatters whole families--sundering
husbands and wivesparents and children
sisters and brothers--leaving the hut vacantand the
hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against
theftand the adulterer against adultery. We have
men sold to build churcheswomen sold to support
the gospeland babes sold to purchase Bibles for
the POOR HEATHEN! ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE
GOOD OF SOULS! The slave auctioneer's bell and the
church-going bell chime in with each otherand the
bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned
in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals
of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand


in hand together. The slave prison and the church
stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and
the rattling of chains in the prisonand the pious
psalm and solemn prayer in the churchmay be
heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies
and souls of men erect their stand in the presence
of the pulpitand they mutually help each other.
The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support
the pulpitand the pulpitin returncovers his infernal
business with the garb of Christianity. Here
we have religion and robbery the allies of each other
--devils dressed in angels' robesand hell presenting
the semblance of paradise.

Just God! and these are they,

Who minister at thine altar, God of right!
Men who their hands, with prayer and blessing, lay

On Israel's ark of light.

What! preachand kidnap men?

Give thanksand rob thy own afflicted poor?
Talk of thy glorious libertyand then

Bolt hard the captive's door?

What! servants of thy own

Merciful Son, who came to seek and save
The homeless and the outcast, fettering down

The tasked and plundered slave!

Pilate and Herod friends!

Chief priests and rulersas of oldcombine!
Just God and holy! is that church which lends

Strength to the spoiler thine?"

The Christianity of America is a Christianityof
whose votaries it may be as truly saidas it was of
the ancient scribes and PhariseesThey bind heavy
burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on
men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move
them with one of their fingers. All their works they
do for to be seen of men.--They love the uppermost
rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
. . . . . . and to be called of men, Rabbi,
Rabbi.--But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven
against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither
suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Ye devour
widows' houses, and for a pretence make long
prayers; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte,
and when he is made, ye make him twofold
more the child of hell than yourselves.--Woe unto
you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay
tithe of mint, and anise, and cumin, and have omitted
the weightier matters of the law, judgment,
mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and
not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides!
which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe
unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter;
but within, they are full of extortion and excess.--
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for
ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed ap



pear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead
men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also
outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within
ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Dark and terrible as is this pictureI hold it to be
strictly true of the overwhelming mass of professed
Christians in America. They strain at a gnatand
swallow a camel. Could any thing be more true of
our churches? They would be shocked at the proposition
of fellowshipping a SHEEP-stealer; and at the
same time they hug to their communion a MANstealer
and brand me with being an infidelif I
find fault with them for it. They attend with Pharisaical
strictness to the outward forms of religionand
at the same time neglect the weightier matters of
the lawjudgmentmercyand faith. They are always
ready to sacrificebut seldom to show mercy.
They are they who are represented as professing to
love God whom they have not seenwhilst they hate
their brother whom they have seen. They love the
heathen on the other side of the globe. They can
pray for himpay money to have the Bible put into
his handand missionaries to instruct him; while
they despise and totally neglect the heathen at their
own doors.

Such isvery brieflymy view of the religion of
this land; and to avoid any misunderstandinggrowing
out of the use of general termsI mean by the
religion of this landthat which is revealed in the
wordsdeedsand actionsof those bodiesnorth and
southcalling themselves Christian churchesand yet
in union with slaveholders. It is against religionas
presented by these bodiesthat I have felt it my
duty to testify.

I conclude these remarks by copying the following
portrait of the religion of the south(which isby
communion and fellowshipthe religion of the
north) which I soberly affirm is "true to the life
and without caricature or the slightest exaggeration.
It is said to have been drawn, several years before
the present anti-slavery agitation began, by a northern
Methodist preacher, who, while residing at the
south, had an opportunity to see slaveholding morals,
manners, and piety, with his own eyes. Shall
I not visit for these things? saith the Lord. Shall not
my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"

A PARODY

Come, saints and sinners, hear me tell
How pious priests whip Jack and Nell,
And women buy and children sell,
And preach all sinners down to hell,


And sing of heavenly union.
They'll bleat and baadona like goats
Gorge down black sheepand strain at motes
Array their backs in fine black coats
Then seize their negroes by their throats

And chokefor heavenly union.


They'll church you if you sip a dram,
And damn you if you steal a lamb;
Yet rob old Tony, Doll, and Sam,
Of human rights, and bread and ham;


Kidnapper's heavenly union.

They'll loudly talk of Christ's reward
And bind his image with a cord
And scoldand swing the lash abhorred
And sell their brother in the Lord


To handcuffed heavenly union.

They'll read and sing a sacred song,
And make a prayer both loud and long,
And teach the right and do the wrong,
Hailing the brother, sister throng,

With words of heavenly union.

We wonder how such saints can sing
Or praise the Lord upon the wing
Who roarand scoldand whipand sting
And to their slaves and mammon cling


In guilty conscience union.

They'll raise tobacco, corn, and rye,
And drive, and thieve, and cheat, and lie,
And lay up treasures in the sky,
By making switch and cowskin fly,


In hope of heavenly union.
They'll crack old Tony on the skull
And preach and roar like Bashan bull
Or braying assof mischief full
Then seize old Jacob by the wool

And pull for heavenly union.

A roaring, ranting, sleek man-thief,
Who lived on mutton, veal, and beef,
Yet never would afford relief
To needy, sable sons of grief,


Was big with heavenly union.

'Love not the world' the preacher said
And winked his eyeand shook his head;
He seized on Tomand Dickand Ned
Cut short their meatand clothesand bread


Yet still loved heavenly union.

Another preacher whining spoke
Of One whose heart for sinners broke:
He tied old Nanny to an oak,
And drew the blood at every stroke,


And prayed for heavenly union.

Two others oped their iron jaws
And waved their children-stealing paws;
There sat their children in gewgaws;
By stinting negroes' backs and maws


They kept up heavenly union.

All good from Jack another takes,
And entertains their flirts and rakes,
Who dress as sleek as glossy snakes,
And cram their mouths with sweetened cakes;


And this goes down for union.


Sincerely and earnestly hoping that this little book
may do something toward throwing light on the
American slave systemand hastening the glad day
of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in
bonds--faithfully relying upon the power of truth
loveand justicefor success in my humble efforts
--and solemnly pledging my self anew to the sacred
cause--I subscribe myself

FREDERICK DOUGLASS
LYNN~Mass.April~ 281845.

THE END