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This is the January 1992 Project Gutenberg release of:

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
An American Slave

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In the month of August, 1841, I attended an anti-
slavery convention in Nantucket, at which it was
my happiness to become acquainted with FREDERICK
DOUGLASS, the writer of the following Narrative. He
was a stranger to nearly every member of that body;
but, having recently made his escape from the south-
ern prison-house of bondage, and 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 in-
duced to give his attendance, on the occasion al-
luded to, though at that time a resident in New

Fortunate, most fortunate occurrence!--fortunate
for the millions of his manacled brethren, yet pant-
ing for deliverance from their awful thraldom!--for-
tunate for the cause of negro emancipation, and 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 acquaint-
ances, whose sympathy and affection he has strongly
secured by the many sufferings he has endured, by
his virtuous traits of character, by his ever-abiding
remembrance of those who are in bonds, as being
bound with them!--fortunate for the multitudes, in
various parts of our republic, whose minds he has
enlightened on the subject of slavery, and who have
been melted to tears by his pathos, or roused to
virtuous indignation by his stirring eloquence against
the enslavers of men!--fortunate for himself, as
it at once brought him into the field of public use-
fulness, "gave the world assurance of a MAN," quick-
ened the slumbering energies of his soul, and con-
secrated him to the great work of breaking the rod
of the oppressor, and letting the oppressed go free!

I shall never forget his first speech at the conven-
tion--the extraordinary emotion it excited in my own
mind--the powerful impression it created upon a
crowded auditory, completely 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; certainly, my
perception of the enormous outrage which is in-
flicted by it, on the godlike nature of its victims, was
rendered far more clear than ever. There stood one,
in physical proportion and stature commanding and
exact--in intellect richly endowed--in natural elo-
quence a prodigy--in soul manifestly "created but a
little lower than the angels"--yet a slave, ay, a fugi-
tive slave,--trembling for his safety, hardly daring to
believe that on the American soil, a single white
person could be found who would befriend him at
all hazards, for the love of God and humanity! Ca-
pable of high attainments as an intellectual and
moral being--needing nothing but a comparatively
small amount of cultivation to make him an orna-
ment to society and a blessing to his race--by the law
of the land, by the voice of the people, by the terms
of the slave code, he was only a piece of property, a
beast of burden, a chattel personal, nevertheless!

A beloved friend from New Bedford prevailed on
Mr. DOUGLASS to address the convention: He came
forward to the platform with a hesitancy and embar-
rassment, necessarily the attendants of a sensitive
mind in such a novel position. After apologizing for
his ignorance, and reminding the audience that slav-
ery was a poor school for the human intellect and
heart, he proceeded to narrate some of the facts in
his own history as a slave, and in the course of his
speech gave utterance to many noble thoughts and
thrilling reflections. As soon as he had taken his
seat, filled with hope and admiration, I rose, and
declared that PATRICK HENRY, of revolutionary fame,
never made a speech more eloquent in the cause of
liberty, than 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 self-
emancipated young man at the North,--even in Mas-
sachusetts, on the soil of the Pilgrim Fathers, among
the descendants of revolutionary sires; and I ap-
pealed to them, whether they would ever allow him
to be carried back into slavery,--law or no law, con-
stitution or no constitution. The response was unani-
mous 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 startling, that the ruthless tyrants
south of Mason and Dixon's line might almost have
heard the mighty burst of feeling, and recognized
it as the pledge of an invincible determination, on
the part of those who gave it, never to betray him
that wanders, but to hide the outcast, and firmly to
abide the consequences.

It was at once deeply impressed upon my mind,
that, if Mr. DOUGLASS could be persuaded to conse-
crate his time and talents to the promotion of the
anti-slavery enterprise, a powerful impetus would
be given to it, and 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 mind, in order that he might
dare to engage in a vocation so anomalous and re-
sponsible for a person in his situation; and I was
seconded in this effort by warm-hearted friends, es-
pecially by the late General Agent of the Massa-
chusetts Anti-Slavery Society, Mr. JOHN A. COLLINS,
whose judgment in this instance entirely coincided
with my own. At first, he could give no encourage-
ment; with unfeigned diffidence, he expressed his
conviction that he was not adequate to the perform-
ance of so great a task; the path marked out was
wholly an untrodden one; he was sincerely appre-
hensive that he should do more harm than good.
After much deliberation, however, he consented to
make a trial; and ever since that period, he has acted
as a lecturing agent, under the auspices either of the
American or the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.
In labors he has been most abundant; and his success
in combating prejudice, in gaining proselytes, in agi-
tating the public mind, has far surpassed the most
sanguine expectations that were raised at the com-
mencement of his brilliant career. He has borne him-
self with gentleness and meekness, yet with true
manliness of character. As a public speaker, he excels
in pathos, wit, comparison, imitation, strength of
reasoning, and fluency of language. There is in him
that union of head and heart, which 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
grace, and 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 per-
son of CHARLES LENOX REMOND, whose eloquent
appeals have extorted the highest applause of multi-
tudes on both sides of the Atlantic. Let the calum-
niators of the colored race despise themselves for
their baseness and illiberality of spirit, and hence-
forth 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 relation-
ship to mankind; and yet how wonderfully they have
sustained the mighty load of a most frightful bond-
age, under which they have been groaning for cen-
turies! 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 mighti-
est 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 itself, slavery is still
hideous. ~It has a natural, an inevitable tendency to
brutalize every noble faculty of man.~ An American
sailor, who was cast away on the shore of Africa,
where he was kept in slavery for three years, was, at
the expiration of that period, found to be imbruted
and stultified--he had lost all reasoning power; and
having forgotten his native language, could only ut-
ter some savage gibberish between Arabic and Eng-
lish, which nobody could understand, and which
even he himself found difficulty in pronouncing. So
much for the humanizing influence of THE DOMESTIC
INSTITUTION!" Admitting this to have been an ex-
traordinary case of mental deterioration, it 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 Narrative, in his own style, and according
to the best of his ability, rather than to employ some
one else. It is, therefore, entirely his own produc-
tion; and, considering how long and dark was the ca-
reer he had to run as a slave,--how few have been his
opportunities to improve his mind since he broke his
iron fetters,--it is, in my judgment, highly creditable
to his head and heart. He who can peruse it without
a tearful eye, a heaving breast, an afflicted spirit,--
without being filled with an unutterable abhorrence
of slavery and all its abettors, and 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 oppressed, and whose
arm is not shortened that it cannot save,--must have
a flinty heart, and be qualified to act the part of a
trafficker "in slaves and the souls of men." I am con-
fident that it is essentially true in all its statements;
that nothing has been set down in malice, nothing
exaggerated, nothing drawn from the imagination;
that it comes short of the reality, rather than over-
states a single fact in regard to SLAVERY AS IT IS.
The experience of FREDERICK DOUGLASS, as 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 Maryland, in
which State it is conceded that they are better fed
and less cruelly treated than in Georgia, Alabama,
or Louisiana. Many have suffered incomparably
more, while very few on the plantations have suf-
fered less, than 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 aspirations, how like a brute
was he treated, even 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 aid, even 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 augmented, in proportion as he
grew reflective and intelligent,--thus demonstrating
that a happy slave is an extinct man! how he
thought, reasoned, felt, under the lash of the driver,
with the chains upon his limbs! what perils he en-
countered in his endeavors to escape from his hor-
rible doom! and how signal have been his deliverance
and preservation in the midst of a nation of pitiless

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 de-
scription DOUGLASS gives of his feelings, as he stood
soliloquizing respecting his fate, and the chances of
his one day being a freeman, on the banks of the
Chesapeake Bay--viewing the receding vessels as they
flew with their white wings before the breeze, and
apostrophizing them as animated by the living spirit
of freedom. Who can read that passage, and be in-
sensible to its pathos and sublimity? Compressed
into it is a whole Alexandrian library of thought,
feeling, and sentiment--all that can, all that need be
urged, in the form of expostulation, entreaty, rebuke,
against that crime of crimes,--making man the prop-
erty of his fellow-man! O, how accursed is that
system, which entombs the godlike mind of man,
defaces the divine image, reduces those who by crea-
tion were crowned with glory and honor to a level
with four-footed beasts, and exalts the dealer in hu-
man flesh above all that is called God! Why should
its existence be prolonged one hour? Is it not evil,
only evil, and that continually? What does its pres-
ence imply but the absence of all fear of God, all
regard for man, on the part of the people of the
United States? Heaven speed its eternal overthrow!

So profoundly ignorant of the nature of slavery
are many persons, that they are stubbornly incredu-
lous 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 prop-
erty; but that terrible fact seems to convey to their
minds no idea of injustice, exposure to outrage, or
savage barbarity. Tell them of cruel scourgings, of
mutilations and brandings, of scenes of pollution
and blood, of the banishment of all light and knowl-
edge, and they affect to be greatly indignant at such
enormous exaggerations, such wholesale misstate-
ments, 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 thing, than to give him a severe flagellation,
or to deprive him of necessary food and clothing!
As if whips, chains, thumb-screws, paddles, blood-
hounds, overseers, drivers, patrols, were not all in-
dispensable to keep the slaves down, and to give
protection to their ruthless oppressors! As if, when
the marriage institution is abolished, concubinage,
adultery, and incest, must not necessarily abound;
when all the rights of humanity are annihilated, any
barrier remains to protect the victim from the fury
of the spoiler; when absolute power is assumed over
life and liberty, it will not be wielded with destruc-
tive sway! Skeptics of this character abound in so-
ciety. In some few instances, their incredulity arises
from a want of reflection; but, generally, it indicates
a hatred of the light, a desire to shield slavery from
the assaults of its foes, a contempt of the colored
race, whether 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 birth, the names of those who
claimed ownership in his body and soul, and the
names also of those who committed the crimes which
he has alleged against them. His statements, there-
fore, may easily be disproved, if they are untrue.

In the course of his Narrative, he relates two in-
stances of murderous cruelty,--in one of which a
planter deliberately shot a slave belonging to a neigh-
boring plantation, who had unintentionally gotten
within his lordly domain in quest of fish; and in the
other, an 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 Amer-
ican, of March 17, 1845, relates a similar case of
atrocity, perpetrated with similar impunity--as fol-
lows:--"~Shooting a slave.~--We learn, upon the au-
thority of a letter from Charles county, Maryland,
received by a gentleman of this city, that a young
man, named Matthews, a nephew of General Mat-
thews, and whose father, it is believed, holds an of-
fice at Washington, killed 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 servant, which was dis-
obeyed, when he proceeded to the house, ~obtained
a gun, and, returning, shot the servant.~ He immedi-
ately, the letter continues, fled to his father's resi-
dence, where he still remains unmolested."--Let it
never be forgotten, that no slaveholder or overseer
can be convicted of any outrage perpetrated on the
person of a slave, however diabolical it may be, on
the testimony of colored witnesses, whether bond
or free. By the slave code, they are adjudged to be
as incompetent to testify against a white man, as
though they were indeed a part of the brute creation.
Hence, there is no legal protection in fact, whatever
there may be in form, for 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 fol-
lowing Narrative, and shown to be any thing but
salutary. In the nature of the case, it must be in
the highest degree pernicious. The testimony of Mr.
DOUGLASS, on this point, is sustained by a cloud of
witnesses, whose veracity is unimpeachable. "A slave-
holder's profession of Christianity is a palpable im-
posture. 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 purpose, or on the side of their down-trodden
victims? If with the former, then are you the foe of
God and man. If with the latter, what are you pre-
pared to do and dare in their behalf? Be faithful,
be vigilant, be untiring in your efforts to break every
yoke, and let the oppressed go free. Come what may
--cost what it may--inscribe on the banner which
you unfurl to the breeze, as your religious and po-

BOSTON, ~May~ 1, 1845.



BOSTON, APRIL 22, 1845.

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 his-

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 might, indeed, rest
sufficiently satisfied with what, it is evident, must
be, in general, the results of such a relation, with-
out seeking farther to find whether they have fol-
lowed in every instance. Indeed, those who stare at
the half-peck of corn a week, and love to count the
lashes on the slave's back, are seldom the "stuff" out
of which reformers and abolitionists are to be made.
I remember that, in 1838, many were waiting for
the results of the West India experiment, before
they could come into our ranks. Those "results" have
come long ago; but, alas! few of that number have
come with them, as converts. A man must be dis-
posed 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 learn, in your story, how early the
most neglected of God's children waken to a sense
of their rights, and of the injustice done them. Ex-
perience is a keen teacher; and long before you had
mastered your A B C, or knew where the "white
sails" of the Chesapeake were bound, you began, I
see, to gauge the wretchedness of the slave, not by
his hunger and want, not by his lashes and toil, but
by the cruel and blighting death which gathers over
his soul.

In connection with this, there 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 hear, then, what it is at its best estate--gaze on
its bright side, if 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 Death, where the
Mississippi sweeps along.

Again, we have known you long, and can put the
most entire confidence in your truth, candor, and
sincerity. Every one who has heard you speak has
felt, and, I am confident, every one who reads your
book will feel, persuaded 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 neutralized, for
a moment, the deadly system with which it was
strangely allied. You have been with us, too, some
years, and can fairly compare the twilight of rights,
which your race enjoy at the North, with that "noon
of night" under which they labor south of Mason
and Dixon's line. Tell us whether, after all, the half-
free colored man of Massachusetts is worse off than
the pampered slave of the rice swamps!

In reading your life, no one can say that we have
unfairly picked out some rare specimens of cruelty.
We know that the bitter drops, which even you have
drained from the cup, are no incidental aggravations,
no individual ills, but such as must mingle always
and necessarily in the lot of every slave. They are the
essential ingredients, not the occasional results, of
the system.

After all, I shall read your book with trembling
for you. Some years ago, when you were beginning
to tell me your real name and birthplace, you may
remember I stopped you, and preferred to remain
ignorant of all. With the exception of a vague de-
scription, so I continued, till the other day, when
you read me your memoirs. I hardly knew, at the
time, whether to thank you or not for the sight of
them, when I reflected that it was still dangerous,
in Massachusetts, for honest men to tell their names!
They say the fathers, in 1776, signed the Declaration
of Independence with the halter about their necks.
You, too, publish your declaration of freedom with
danger compassing you around. In all the broad lands
which the Constitution of the United States over-
shadows, there is no single spot,--however narrow or
desolate,--where a fugitive slave can plant himself
and say, "I am safe." The whole armory of North-
ern Law has no shield for you. I am free to say that,
in your place, I should throw the MS. into the fire.

You, perhaps, may tell your story in safety, en-
deared as you are to so many warm hearts by rare
gifts, and 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 who, trampling the
laws and Constitution of the country under their
feet, are 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 friend, till you, and those who, like you,
have been saved, so as by fire, from the dark prison-
house, shall stereotype these free, illegal pulses into
statutes; and New England, cutting loose from a
blood-stained Union, shall 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; but, consecrat-
ing anew the soil of the Pilgrims as an asylum for the
oppressed, proclaim our WELCOME to the slave so
loudly, that the tones shall reach every hut in the
Carolinas, and make the broken-hearted bondman
leap up at the thought of old Massachusetts.

God speed the day!

~Till then, and ever,~
~Yours truly,~


Frederick Douglass was born in slavery as Fred-
erick Augustus Washington Bailey near Easton in
Talbot County, Maryland. He was not sure of the
exact year of his birth, but he knew that it was 1817
or 1818. As a young boy he was sent to Baltimore,
to be a house servant, where he learned to read and
write, with the assistance of his master's wife. In
1838 he escaped from slavery and went to New York
City, where he married Anna Murray, a free colored
woman whom he had met in Baltimore. Soon there-
after he changed his name to Frederick Douglass.
In 1841 he addressed a convention of the Massa-
chusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Nantucket and so
greatly impressed the group that they immediately
employed him as an agent. He was such an impres-
sive orator that numerous persons doubted if he had
ever been a slave, so he wrote NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE
OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. During the Civil War he as-
sisted 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 years, at different times,
he was secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission,
marshall and recorder of deeds of the District of
Columbia, and United States Minister to Haiti. His
other autobiographical works are MY BONDAGE AND
DOUGLASS, published in 1855 and 1881 respectively.
He died in 1895.


I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and
about twelve miles from Easton, in 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 theirs, and 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-time, harvest-
time, cherry-time, spring-time, or 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 con-
cerning it. He deemed all such inquiries on the part
of a slave improper and impertinent, and evidence
of a restless spirit. The nearest estimate I can give
makes me now between twenty-seven and twenty-
eight years of age. I come to this, from hearing my
master say, some time during 1835, I was about
seventeen years old.

My mother was named Harriet Bailey. She was
the daughter of Isaac and Betsey Bailey, both col-
ored, and quite dark. My mother was of a darker
complexion than either my grandmother or grand-

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 opinion, I
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 custom, in the part of Maryland
from which I ran away, to part children from their
mothers at a very early age. Frequently, before the
child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is
taken from it, and hired out on some farm a con-
siderable distance off, and the child is placed under
the care of an old woman, too old for field labor.
For what this separation is done, I do not know,
unless it be to hinder the development of the child's
affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy
the natural affection of the mother for the child.
This is the inevitable result.

I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more
than four or five times in my life; and each of these
times was very short in duration, and at night. She
was hired by a Mr. Stewart, who lived about twelve
miles from my home. She made her journeys to see
me in the night, travelling the whole distance on
foot, after the performance of her day's work. She
was a field hand, and a whipping is the penalty of
not being in the field at sunrise, unless a slave has
special permission from his or her master to the con-
trary--a permission which they seldom get, and 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 me, and get me
to sleep, but 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 lived, and with it her hardships and suffering.
She died when I was about seven years old, on one
of my master's farms, near Lee's Mill. I was not al-
lowed to be present during her illness, at her death,
or burial. She was gone long before I knew any thing
about it. Never having enjoyed, to any considerable
extent, her soothing presence, her tender and watch-
ful care, I 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 away, she left me without
the slightest intimation of who my father was. The
whisper that my master was my father, may or may
not be true; and, true or false, it is of but little con-
sequence to my purpose whilst the fact remains,
in all its glaring odiousness, that slaveholders have
ordained, and by law established, that 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 lusts, and make a grati-
fication of their wicked desires profitable as well as
pleasurable; for by this cunning arrangement, the
slaveholder, in cases not a few, sustains 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 with, than others. They
are, in the first place, a 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 lash, especially when she suspects her husband
of showing to his mulatto children favors which he
withholds from his black slaves. The master is fre-
quently compelled to sell this class of his slaves, out
of deference to the feelings of his white wife; and,
cruel as the deed may strike any one to be, for a
man to sell his own children to human flesh-mongers,
it is often the dictate of humanity for him to do so;
for, unless he does this, he must not only whip them
himself, but must stand by and see one white son
tie up his brother, of but few shades darker com-
plexion than himself, and ply the gory lash to his
naked back; and if he lisp one word of disapproval,
it is set down to his parental partiality, and only
makes a bad matter worse, both 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 knowl-
edge of this fact, that one great statesman of the
south predicted the downfall of slavery by the in-
evitable laws of population. Whether this prophecy
is ever fulfilled or not, it is nevertheless plain that a
very different-looking class of people are springing up
at the south, and are now held in slavery, from those
originally brought to this country from Africa; and
if their increase do no other good, it will do
away the force of the argument, that God cursed
Ham, and therefore American slavery is right. If the
lineal descendants of Ham are alone to be scriptur-
ally enslaved, it is certain that slavery at the south
must soon become unscriptural; for thousands are
ushered into the world, annually, who, like myself,
owe their existence to white fathers, and those fa-
thers 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
which, I presume, he acquired by sailing a craft on
the Chesapeake Bay. He was not considered a rich
slaveholder. He owned two or three farms, and 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 swearer, and 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 horribly, that even master would be enraged at
his cruelty, and would threaten to whip him if he
did not mind himself. Master, however, was not a
humane slaveholder. It required extraordinary bar-
barity on the part of an overseer to affect him. He
was a cruel man, hardened by a long life of slave-
holding. He would at times seem to take great pleas-
ure 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 mine, whom he used to tie up
to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she
was literally covered with blood. No words, no tears,
no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move
his iron heart from its bloody purpose. The louder
she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where
the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest. He
would whip her to make her scream, and 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 hor-
rible exhibition. I was quite a child, but I well re-
member it. I never shall forget it whilst I remember
any thing. It was the first of a long series of such out-
rages, of which I was doomed to be a witness and a
participant. It struck me with awful force. It was
the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of
slavery, through 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 master, and 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 evenings, and warned
her that she must never let him catch her in com-
pany with a young man, who was paying attention
to her belonging to Colonel Lloyd. The young man's
name was Ned Roberts, generally called Lloyd's
Ned. Why master was so careful of her, may be
safely left to conjecture. She was a woman of noble
form, and of graceful proportions, having very few
equals, and fewer superiors, in personal appearance,
among the colored or white women of our neighbor-

Aunt Hester had not only disobeyed his orders in
going out, but had been found in company with
Lloyd's Ned; which circumstance, I found, from
what he said while whipping her, was the chief of-
fence. 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 Hester, he took her
into the kitchen, and stripped her from neck to waist,
leaving her neck, shoulders, and back, entirely
naked. He then told her to cross her hands, calling
her at the same time a d----d b---h. After crossing
her hands, he tied them with a strong rope, and led
her to a stool under a large hook in the joist, put
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 length, so that she stood upon the
ends of her toes. He then said to her, "Now, you
d----d b---h, I'll learn you how to disobey my
orders!" and after rolling up his sleeves, he com-
menced to lay on the heavy cowskin, and soon the
warm, red blood (amid heart-rending shrieks from
her, and horrid oaths from him) came dripping to
the floor. I was so terrified and horror-stricken at the
sight, that I hid myself in a closet, and 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 plantation, where she was put to
raise the children of the younger women. I had there-
fore been, until now, out of the way of the bloody
scenes that often occurred on the plantation.


My master's family consisted of two sons, Andrew
and Richard; one daughter, Lucretia, and her hus-
band, Captain Thomas Auld. They lived in one
house, upon 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 child-
hood 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 it, and of slavery as
it there existed. The plantation is about twelve miles
north of Easton, in Talbot county, and is situated
on the border of Miles River. The principal products
raised upon it were tobacco, corn, and wheat. These
were raised in great abundance; so that, with the
products of this and the other farms belonging to
him, he was able to keep in almost constant em-
ployment a large sloop, in carrying them to market
at Baltimore. This sloop was named Sally Lloyd,
in honor of one of the colonel's daughters. My mas-
ter's son-in-law, Captain Auld, was master of the
vessel; she was otherwise manned by the colonel's
own slaves. Their names were Peter, Isaac, Rich, and
Jake. These were esteemed very highly by the other
slaves, and looked upon as the privileged ones of the
plantation; for it was no small affair, in the eyes of
the slaves, to be allowed to see Baltimore.

Colonel Lloyd kept from three to four hundred
slaves on his home plantation, and 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 overseer-
ship of a Mr. Townsend. The overseers of these,
and all the rest of the farms, numbering 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
misdemeanor, became unmanageable, or evinced a
determination to run away, he was brought immedi-
ately here, severely whipped, put on board the sloop,
carried to Baltimore, and sold to Austin Woolfolk,
or some other slave-trader, as a warning to the slaves

Here, too, the slaves of all the other farms received
their monthly allowance of food, and their yearly
clothing. The men and women slaves received, as
their monthly allowance of food, eight pounds of
pork, or its equivalent in fish, and one bushel of
corn meal. Their yearly clothing consisted of two
coarse linen shirts, one pair of linen trousers, like
the shirts, one jacket, one pair of trousers for winter,
made of coarse negro cloth, one 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 mothers, or
the old women having the care of them. The chil-
dren unable to work in the field had neither shoes,
stockings, jackets, nor trousers, given to them; their
clothing consisted of two coarse linen shirts per year.
When these failed them, they went naked until the
next allowance-day. Children from seven to ten years
old, of both sexes, almost naked, might be seen
at all seasons of the year.

There were no beds given the slaves, unless one
coarse blanket be considered such, and none but
the men and women had these. This, however, is
not considered a very great privation. They find less
difficulty from the want of beds, than from the want
of time to sleep; for when their day's work in the
field is done, the most of them having their wash-
ing, mending, and cooking to do, and having few or
none of the ordinary facilities for doing either of
these, very many of their sleeping hours are con-
sumed in preparing for the field the coming day;
and when this is done, old and young, male and
female, married and single, drop down side by side,
on one common bed,--the cold, damp 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
this, all must rise, and 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 hearing, they are by the
sense of feeling: no age nor sex finds any favor.
Mr. Severe, the overseer, used to stand by the door
of the quarter, armed with a large hickory stick
and heavy cowskin, ready to whip any one who was
so unfortunate as not to hear, or, from any other
cause, was 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 woman, causing the
blood to run half an hour at the time; and this, too,
in the midst of her crying children, pleading for their
mother's release. He seemed to take pleasure in
manifesting his fiendish barbarity. Added to his
cruelty, he 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 hor-
rid 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 sun, he was cursing, raving,
cutting, and 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 lived, uttering, with his dying
groans, bitter curses and horrid oaths. His death was
regarded by the slaves as the result of a merciful

Mr. Severe's place was filled by a Mr. Hopkins.
He was a very different man. He was less cruel, less
profane, and made less noise, than Mr. Severe. His
course was characterized by no extraordinary demon-
strations of cruelty. He whipped, but seemed to take
no pleasure in it. He was called by the slaves a good

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 mending, the blacksmithing,
cartwrighting, coopering, weaving, and grain-grind-
ing, were all performed by the slaves on the home
plantation. The whole place wore a business-like as-
pect very unlike the neighboring farms. The num-
ber of houses, too, conspired to give it advantage
over the neighboring farms. It was called by the
slaves the ~Great House Farm.~ Few privileges were
esteemed higher, by the slaves of the out-farms, than
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 re-
posed in them by their overseers; and it was on
this account, as well as a constant desire to be out of
the field from under the driver's lash, that they es-
teemed it a high privilege, one worth careful living
for. He was called the smartest and most trusty fel-
low, who had this honor conferred upon him the
most frequently. The competitors for this office
sought as diligently to please their overseers, as 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 slaves, as 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-slaves, were peculiarly enthusiastic. While on
their way, they would make the dense old woods,
for miles around, reverberate with their wild songs,
revealing at once the highest joy and the deepest
sadness. They would compose and sing as they went
along, consulting neither time nor tune. The thought
that came up, came out--if not in the word, in the
sound;--and as frequently in the one as in the other.
They would sometimes sing the most pathetic senti-
ment in the most rapturous tone, and the most rap-
turous sentiment in the most pathetic tone. Into all
of their songs they would manage to weave some-
thing of the Great House Farm. Especially would
they do this, when 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 sing, as a chorus, to words which to
many would seem unmeaning jargon, but which,
nevertheless, were 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 slavery, than the read-
ing of whole volumes of philosophy on the subject
could do.

I did not, when a slave, understand the deep
meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent
songs. I was myself within the circle; so that I nei-
ther saw nor heard as those without might see and
hear. They told a tale of woe which was then al-
together beyond my feeble comprehension; they
were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the
prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the
bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against
slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from
chains. The hearing of those wild notes always de-
pressed my spirit, and filled me with ineffable sad-
ness. I have frequently found myself in tears while
hearing them. The mere recurrence to those songs,
even now, afflicts me; and while I am writing these
lines, an expression of feeling has already found its
way down my cheek. To those songs I trace my first
glimmering conception of the dehumanizing char-
acter of slavery. I can never get rid of that concep-
tion. Those songs still follow me, to deepen my
hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for
my brethren in bonds. If any one wishes to be im-
pressed with the soul-killing effects of slavery, let
him go to Colonel Lloyd's plantation, and, on allow-
ance-day, place himself in the deep pine woods, and
there let him, in silence, analyze the sounds that
shall pass through the chambers of his soul,--and if
he is not thus impressed, it will only be because
"there is no flesh in his obdurate heart."

I have often been utterly astonished, since I came
to the north, to find persons who could speak of
the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their con-
tentment 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 them, only
as an aching heart is relieved by its tears. At least,
such is my experience. I have often sung to drown
my sorrow, but seldom to express my happiness.
Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike un-
common 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 happiness, as the singing of a
slave; the songs of the one and of the other are
prompted by the same emotion.


Colonel Lloyd kept a large and finely cultivated
garden, which afforded almost constant employment
for four men, besides the chief gardener, (Mr.
M'Durmond.) This garden was probably the great-
est attraction of the place. During the summer
months, people came from far and near--from
Baltimore, Easton, and Annapolis--to see it. It
abounded in fruits of almost every description, from
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 slaves, belonging to the colonel,
few of whom had the virtue or the vice to resist
it. Scarcely a day passed, during the summer, but
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 which, if a slave was caught with
any tar upon his person, it was deemed sufficient
proof that he had either been into the garden, or had
tried to get in. In either case, he was severely whip-
ped 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 appear-
ance 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 gigs, besides 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 inat-
tention to these was unpardonable, and was visited
upon those, under whose care they were placed, with
the severest punishment; no excuse could shield
them, if the colonel only suspected any want of
attention to his horses--a supposition which he fre-
quently indulged, and one which, of course, made
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
deserving, and escaped whipping when most deserv-
ing it. Every thing depended upon the looks of the
horses, and the state of Colonel Lloyd's own mind
when his horses were brought to him for use. If a
horse did not move fast enough, or hold his head
high enough, it was owing to some fault of his keep-
ers. 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 suffi-
ciently rubbed and curried, or he has not been prop-
erly 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 hay, and not enough of grain; or he
had too much grain, and not enough of hay; instead
of old Barney's attending to the horse, he had very
improperly left it to his son." To all these com-
plaints, no matter how unjust, the slave must an-
swer never a word. Colonel Lloyd could not brook
any contradiction from a slave. When he spoke, a
slave must stand, listen, and tremble; and such was
literally the case. I have seen Colonel Lloyd make
old Barney, a man between fifty and sixty years of
age, uncover his bald head, kneel down upon the
cold, damp ground, and receive upon his naked and
toil-worn shoulders more than thirty lashes at the
time. Colonel Lloyd had three sons--Edward, Mur-
ray, and Daniel,--and three sons-in-law, Mr. Winder,
Mr. Nicholson, and Mr. Lowndes. All of these lived
at the Great House Farm, and enjoyed the luxury of
whipping the servants when they pleased, from old
Barney down to William Wilkes, the 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 whip, and 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 slaves, and 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 him, that, while riding along the road
one day, he met a colored man, and addressed him
in the usual manner of speaking to colored people
on the public highways of the south: "Well, boy,
whom do you belong to?" "To Colonel Lloyd," re-
plied the slave. "Well, does the colonel treat you
well?" "No, sir," was the ready reply. "What, does
he work you too hard?" "Yes, sir." "Well, don't he
give you enough to eat?" "Yes, sir, he gives me
enough, such as it is."

The colonel, after ascertaining where the slave
belonged, rode on; the man also went on about his
business, not dreaming that he had been conversing
with his master. He thought, said, and heard noth-
ing more of the matter, until two or three weeks
afterwards. The poor man was then informed by his
overseer that, for 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 warning, he was snatched away,
and forever sundered, from his family and friends,
by a hand more unrelenting than death. This is the
penalty of telling the truth, of telling the simple
truth, in answer to a series of plain questions.

It is partly in consequence of such facts, that
slaves, when inquired of as to their condition and
the character of their masters, almost universally say
they are contented, and that their masters are kind.
The slaveholders have been known to send in spies
among their slaves, to ascertain their views and feel-
ings in regard to their condition. The frequency of
this has had the effect to establish among the slaves
the maxim, that a still tongue makes a wise head.
They suppress the truth rather than take the con-
sequences of telling it, and in so doing prove them-
selves a part of the human family. If they have any
thing to say of their masters, it is generally in their
masters' favor, especially when speaking to an un-
tried man. I have been frequently asked, when a
slave, if I had a kind master, and do not remember
ever to have given a negative answer; nor did I, in
pursuing this course, consider myself as uttering what
was absolutely false; for I always measured the kind-
ness of my master by the standard of kindness set
up among slaveholders around us. Moreover, slaves
are like other people, and imbibe prejudices quite
common to others. They think their own better than
that of others. Many, under the influence of this
prejudice, think their own masters are better than
the masters of other slaves; and this, too, in some
cases, when the very reverse is true. Indeed, it is
not uncommon for slaves even to fall out and quar-
rel among themselves about the relative goodness of
their masters, each contending for the superior good-
ness of his own over that of the others. At the very
same time, they mutually execrate their masters
when viewed separately. It was so on our plantation.
When Colonel Lloyd's slaves met the slaves of Jacob
Jepson, they seldom parted without a quarrel about
their masters; Colonel Lloyd's slaves contending that
he was the richest, and Mr. Jepson's slaves that he
was the smartest, and 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 parties, and those
that whipped were supposed to have gained the
point at issue. They seemed to think that the great-
ness 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!


Mr. Hopkins remained but a short time in the
office of overseer. Why his career was so short, I
do not know, but suppose he lacked the necessary
severity to suit Colonel Lloyd. Mr. Hopkins was suc-
ceeded by Mr. Austin Gore, a man possessing, in
an eminent degree, all those traits of character in-
dispensable to what is called a first-rate overseer. Mr.
Gore had served Colonel Lloyd, in the capacity of
overseer, upon one of the out-farms, and had shown
himself worthy of the high station of overseer upon
the home or Great House Farm.

Mr. Gore was proud, ambitious, and persevering.
He was artful, cruel, and obdurate. He was just the
man for such a place, and it was just the place for
such a man. It afforded scope for the full exercise
of all his powers, and he seemed to be perfectly
at home in it. He was one of those who could torture
the slightest look, word, or gesture, on the part of
the slave, into impudence, and would treat it ac-
cordingly. There must be no answering back to him;
no explanation was allowed a slave, showing 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
lash, than that the overseer should be convicted, in
the presence of the slaves, of having been at fault."
No matter how innocent a slave might be--it availed
him nothing, when 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 either, under the
overseership of Mr. Gore. He was just proud enough
to demand the most debasing homage of the slave,
and quite servile enough to crouch, himself, at the
feet of the master. He was ambitious enough to be
contented with nothing short of the highest rank
of overseers, and persevering enough to reach the
height of his ambition. He was cruel enough to in-
flict the severest punishment, artful enough to de-
scend to the lowest trickery, and obdurate enough to
be insensible to the voice of a reproving conscience.
He was, of all the overseers, the most dreaded by
the slaves. His presence was painful; his eye flashed
confusion; and seldom was his sharp, shrill voice
heard, without producing horror and trembling in
their ranks.

Mr. Gore was a grave man, and, though a young
man, he indulged in no jokes, said no funny words,
seldom smiled. His words were in perfect keeping
with his looks, and his looks were in perfect keeping
with his words. Overseers will sometimes indulge in
a witty word, even with the slaves; not so with Mr.
Gore. He spoke but to command, and commanded
but to be obeyed; he dealt sparingly with his words,
and bountifully with his whip, never using the
former where the latter would answer as well. When
he whipped, he seemed to do so from a sense of
duty, and feared no consequences. He did nothing
reluctantly, no matter how disagreeable; always at his
post, never inconsistent. He never promised but to
fulfil. He was, in a word, a man of the most in-
flexible firmness and stone-like coolness.

His savage barbarity was equalled only by the con-
summate 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 slaves, by the name of Demby. He
had given Demby but few stripes, when, to get rid
of the scourging, he ran and plunged himself into a
creek, and stood there at the depth of his shoulders,
refusing to come out. Mr. Gore told him that he
would give him three calls, and that, if he did not
come out at the third call, he 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 call, raised
his musket to his face, taking deadly aim at his
standing victim, and in an instant poor Demby was
no more. His mangled body sank out of sight, and
blood and brains marked the water where he had

A thrill of horror flashed through every soul upon
the plantation, excepting Mr. Gore. He alone
seemed cool and collected. He was asked by Colonel
Lloyd and my old master, why he resorted to this
extraordinary expedient. His reply was, (as well as
I can remember,) that Demby had become unman-
ageable. He was setting a dangerous example to the
other slaves,--one which, if suffered to pass without
some such demonstration on his part, would finally
lead to the total subversion of all rule and order
upon the plantation. He argued that if one slave re-
fused to be corrected, and escaped with his life, the
other slaves would soon copy the example; the re-
sult of which would be, the freedom of the slaves,
and the enslavement of the whites. Mr. Gore's de-
fence was satisfactory. He was continued in his sta-
tion 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 slaves, and they of
course could neither institute a suit, nor testify
against him; and thus the guilty perpetrator of one of
the bloodiest and most foul murders goes unwhipped
of justice, and uncensured by the community in
which he lives. Mr. Gore lived in St. Michael's, Tal-
bot county, Maryland, when I left there; and if he
is still alive, he very probably lives there now; and if
so, he is now, as he was then, as 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 slave, or any colored person, in Talbot county,
Maryland, is not treated as a crime, either by the
courts or the community. Mr. Thomas Lanman, of
St. Michael's, killed two slaves, one of whom he
killed with a hatchet, by knocking his brains out. He
used to boast of the commission of the awful and
bloody deed. I have heard him do so laughingly,
saying, among other things, that he was the only
benefactor of his country in the company, and that
when others would do as much as he had done, we
should be relieved of "the d----d niggers."

The wife of Mr. Giles Hicks, living but a short
distance from where I used to live, murdered my
wife's cousin, a young girl between fifteen and six-
teen years of age, mangling her person in the most
horrible manner, breaking her nose and breastbone
with a stick, so that the poor girl expired in a few
hours afterward. She was immediately buried, but
had not been in her untimely grave but a few hours
before she was taken up and examined by the cor-
oner, 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 baby, and during the
night she fell asleep, and the baby cried. She, having
lost her rest for several nights previous, did not hear
the crying. They were both in the room with Mrs.
Hicks. Mrs. Hicks, finding the girl slow to move,
jumped from her bed, seized an oak stick of wood
by the fireplace, and with it broke the girl's nose
and breastbone, and thus ended her life. I will not
say that this most horrid murder produced no sen-
sation in the community. It did produce sensation,
but not enough to bring the murderess to punish-
ment. There was a warrant issued for her arrest,
but it was never served. Thus she escaped not only
punishment, but 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 another, which occurred about
the same time as the murder of Demby by Mr.

Colonel Lloyd's slaves were in the habit of spend-
ing a part of their nights and Sundays in fishing for
oysters, and in this way made up the deficiency of
their scanty allowance. An old man belonging to
Colonel Lloyd, while thus engaged, happened to get
beyond the limits of Colonel Lloyd's, and on the
premises of Mr. Beal Bondly. At this trespass, Mr.
Bondly took offence, and with his musket came
down to the shore, and blew its deadly contents
into the poor old man.

Mr. Bondly came over to see Colonel Lloyd the
next day, whether to pay him for his property, or
to justify himself in what he had done, I know not.
At any rate, this whole fiendish transaction was soon
hushed up. There was very little said about it at all,
and nothing done. It was a common saying, even
among little white boys, that it was worth a half-
cent to kill a "nigger," and a half-cent to bury one.


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 lei-
sure 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 advan-
tage 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 suf-
fered 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 carry-
ing 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 oyster-
shells, 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 (An-
thony) 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 re-
ceived 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 Balti-
more; 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 pig-
drovers 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 charm-
less; 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 hard-
ship, 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 Tom, though not
fluent in speech, had inspired me with that desire
by his eloquent description of the place. I could
never point out any thing at the Great House, no
matter how beautiful or powerful, but that he had
seen something at Baltimore far exceeding, both in
beauty and strength, the object which I pointed out
to him. Even the Great House itself, with all its
pictures, was far inferior to many buildings in Bal-
timore. So strong was my desire, that I thought a
gratification of it would fully compensate for what-
ever loss of comforts I should sustain by the ex-
change. I left without a regret, and 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
week, for at that time I had no knowledge of the
days of the month, nor the months of the year. On
setting sail, I walked aft, and gave to Colonel Lloyd's
plantation what I hoped would be the last look. I
then placed myself in the bows of the sloop, and
there spent the remainder of the day in looking
ahead, interesting myself in what was in the distance
rather than in things near by or behind.

In the afternoon of that day, we reached Annap-
olis, the capital of the State. We stopped but a
few moments, so that I had no time to go on shore.
It was the first large town that I had ever seen, and
though it would look small compared with some of
our New England factory villages, I thought it a
wonderful place for its size--more imposing even
than the Great House Farm!

We arrived at Baltimore early on Sunday morn-
ing, landing at Smith's Wharf, not far from Bow-
ley'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
Hill, I was conducted by Rich, one of the hands
belonging on board of the sloop, to my new home
in Alliciana Street, near Mr. Gardner's ship-yard, on
Fells Point.

Mr. and Mrs. Auld were both at home, and met
me at the door with their little son Thomas, to 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 mistress, Sophia Auld. I wish I could de-
scribe 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 happi-
ness. Little Thomas was told, there 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 possible, and even quite probable, that
but for the mere circumstance of being removed
from that plantation to Baltimore, I should have
to-day, instead of being here seated by my own table,
in the enjoyment of freedom and the happiness of
home, writing this Narrative, been confined in the
galling chains of slavery. Going to live at Baltimore
laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all
my subsequent prosperity. I have ever regarded it
as the first plain manifestation of that kind provi-
dence which has ever since attended me, and 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 younger, those older, and those of the same
age. I was chosen from among them all, and was
the first, last, and only choice.

I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotisti-
cal, 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 soul, if I sup-
pressed the opinion. I prefer to be true to myself,
even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others,
rather than to be false, and incur my own abhor-
rence. From my earliest recollection, I date the en-
tertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would
not always be able to hold me within its foul em-
brace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slav-
ery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope de-
parted not from me, but remained like ministering
angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good
spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving
and praise.


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 myself, and
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 servility, usually so acceptable
a quality in a slave, did 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 presence, and none left without feeling bet-
ter for having seen her. Her face was made of heav-
enly smiles, and her voice of tranquil music.

But, alas! this kind heart had but a short time to
remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power
was already in her hands, and soon commenced its
infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influ-
ence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that
voice, made all of sweet accord, changed 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.
Auld, she very kindly commenced to teach me the
A, B, C. After I had learned this, she assisted me in
learning to spell words of three or four letters. Just
at this point of my progress, Mr. Auld found out
what was going on, and at once forbade Mrs. Auld
to instruct me further, telling her, among other
things, that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to
teach a slave to read. To use his own words, further,
he said, "If 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 he, "if
you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to
read, there would be no keeping him. It would for-
ever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once be-
come 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 revelation, ex-
plaining dark and mysterious things, with which my
youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled
in vain. I now understood what had been to me a
most perplexing difficulty--to wit, the white man's
power to enslave the black man. It was a grand
achievement, and I prized it highly. From that mo-
ment, I understood the pathway from slavery to free-
dom. It was just what I wanted, and I got it at a
time when I the least expected it. Whilst I was sad-
dened by the thought of losing the aid of my kind
mistress, I was gladdened by the invaluable instruc-
tion which, by the merest accident, I had gained
from my master. Though conscious of the difficulty
of learning without a teacher, I set out with high
hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trou-
ble, to learn how to read. The very decided manner
with which he spoke, and 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 confi-
dence on the results which, he said, would flow from
teaching me to read. What he most dreaded, that
I most desired. What he most loved, that I most
hated. That which to him was a great evil, to be
carefully shunned, was to me a great good, to be
diligently sought; and the argument which he so
warmly urged, against my learning to read, only
served to inspire me with a desire and determina-
tion to learn. In learning to read, I owe almost as
much to the bitter opposition of my master, as 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 difference, in the treatment of
slaves, from that which I had witnessed in the coun-
try. A city slave is almost a freeman, compared with
a slave on the plantation. He is much better fed and
clothed, and enjoys privileges altogether unknown
to the slave on the plantation. There is a vestige of
decency, a sense of shame, that does much to curb
and check those outbreaks of atrocious cruelty so
commonly enacted upon the plantation. He is a des-
perate slaveholder, who 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 things, they would not be known as
not giving a slave enough to eat. Every city slave-
holder is anxious to have it known of him, that 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 are, however, some painful exceptions to this
rule. Directly opposite to us, on Philpot Street, lived
Mr. Thomas Hamilton. He owned two slaves. Their
names were Henrietta and Mary. Henrietta was
about twenty-two years of age, Mary was about four-
teen; and of all the mangled and emaciated creatures
I ever looked upon, these two were the most so. His
heart must be harder than stone, that could look
upon these unmoved. The head, neck, and shoulders
of Mary were literally cut to pieces. I have fre-
quently felt her head, and found it nearly covered
with festering sores, caused by the lash of her cruel
mistress. I do not know that her master ever whipped
her, but 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 room, with a heavy cow-
skin always by her side, and 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 saying, "Move faster, you ~black gip!~" at the same
time giving them a blow with the cowskin over the
head or shoulders, often drawing the blood. She
would then say, "Take that, you ~black gip!~" con-
tinuing, "If you don't move faster, I'll move you!"
Added to the cruel lashings to which these slaves
were subjected, they 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 pieces, that she was oftener called
"~pecked~" than by her name.


I lived in Master Hugh's family about seven years.
During this time, I succeeded in learning to read and
write. In accomplishing this, I was compelled to re-
sort to various stratagems. I had no regular teacher.
My mistress, who had kindly commenced to instruct
me, had, in compliance with the advice and direc-
tion of her husband, not only ceased to instruct, but
had set her face against my being instructed by any
one else. It is due, however, to my mistress to say
of her, that she did not adopt this course of treat-
ment 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 power, to make her
equal to the task of treating me as though I were
a brute.

My mistress was, as I have said, a kind and tender-
hearted woman; and in the simplicity of her soul she
commenced, when I first went to live with her, to
treat me as she supposed one human being ought
to treat another. In entering upon the duties of a
slaveholder, she did not seem to perceive that I sus-
tained to her the relation of a mere chattel, and
that for her to treat me as a human being was not
only wrong, but dangerously so. Slavery proved as
injurious to her as it did to me. When I went there,
she was a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman.
There was no sorrow or suffering for which she had
not a tear. She had bread for the hungry, clothes for
the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came
within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to
divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its in-
fluence, the tender heart became stone, and 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 be-
came 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 fury, and
snatch from me a newspaper, in a manner that fully
revealed her apprehension. She was an apt woman;
and a little experience soon demonstrated, to her
satisfaction, that education and slavery were incom-
patible with each other.

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

The plan which I adopted, and the one by which
I was most successful, was that of making friends of
all the little white boys whom I met in the street.
As many of these as I could, I converted into teach-
ers. With their kindly aid, obtained at different times
and in different places, I finally succeeded in learn-
ing to read. When I was sent of errands, I always
took my book with me, and by going one part of
my errand quickly, I found time to get a lesson be-
fore my return. I used also to carry bread with me,
enough of which was always in the house, and to
which I was always welcome; for I was much better
off in this regard than many of the poor white chil-
dren in our neighborhood. This bread I used to be-
stow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return,
would give me that more valuable bread of knowl-
edge. I am strongly tempted to give the names of
two or three of those little boys, as a testimonial of
the gratitude and affection I bear them; but pru-
dence forbids;--not that it would injure me, but it
might embarrass them; for it is almost an unpar-
donable offence to teach slaves to read in this Chris-
tian country. It is enough to say of the dear little
fellows, that they lived on Philpot Street, very near
Durgin and Bailey's ship-yard. I used to talk this
matter of slavery over with them. I would sometimes
say to them, I 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 sympathy, and con-
sole me with the hope that something would occur
by which I might be free.

I was now about twelve years old, and the thought
of being ~a slave for life~ began to bear heavily upon
my heart. Just about this time, I got hold of a book
entitled "The Columbian Orator." Every opportu-
nity I got, I used to read this book. Among much of
other interesting matter, I found in it a dialogue be-
tween a master and his slave. The slave was repre-
sented as having run away from his master three
times. The dialogue represented the conversation
which took place between them, when the slave was
retaken the third time. In this dialogue, the whole
argument in behalf of slavery was brought forward
by the master, all 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 ef-
fect; for the conversation resulted in the voluntary
emancipation of the slave on the part of the master.

In the same book, I met with one of Sheridan's
mighty speeches on and in behalf of Catholic eman-
cipation. 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
soul, which 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 slav-
ery, and a powerful vindication of human rights.
The reading of these documents enabled me to
utter my thoughts, and to meet the arguments
brought forward to sustain slavery; but while they
relieved me of one difficulty, they brought on an-
other even more painful than the one of which I was
relieved. The more I read, the 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 homes, and gone to Africa, and
stolen us from our homes, and 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 subject, behold! 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 it, I would at times feel that
learning to read had been a curse rather than a bless-
ing. It had given me a view of my wretched condi-
tion, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the
horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out.
In moments of agony, I 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 thing, no matter what, to get rid of
thinking! It was this everlasting thinking of my con-
dition that tormented me. There was no getting rid
of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within
sight or hearing, animate or inanimate. The silver
trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal
wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear
no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and
seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment
me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw
nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without
hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It
looked from every star, it smiled in every calm,
breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm.

I often found myself regretting my own existence,
and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of
being free, I have no doubt but that I should have
killed myself, or done something for which I should
have been killed. While in this state of mind, I was
eager to hear any one speak of slavery. I was a ready
listener. Every little while, I 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
clear, or if a slave killed his master, set fire to a
barn, or did any thing very wrong in the mind of a
slaveholder, it was spoken of as the fruit of ~abolition.~
Hearing the word in this connection very often, I set
about learning what it meant. The dictionary af-
forded 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 meaning, for I was
satisfied that it was something they wanted me to
know very little about. After a patient waiting, I got
one of our city papers, containing an account of the
number of petitions from the north, praying for the
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and
of the slave trade between the States. From this
time I understood the words ~abolition~ and ~abolition-
ist,~ and always drew near when that word was spoken,
expecting to hear something of importance to my-
self 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 stone, I went, unasked, and helped them.
When we had finished, one of them came to me
and asked me if I were a slave. I told him I was. He
asked, "Are ye a slave for life?" I told him that I
was. The good Irishman seemed to be deeply af-
fected 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 there, and that I should
be free. I pretended not to be interested in what
they said, and treated them as if I did not under-
stand them; for I feared they might be treacherous.
White men have been known to encourage slaves to
escape, and then, to get the reward, catch them and
return them to their masters. I was afraid that these
seemingly good men might use me so; but I never-
theless remembered their advice, and 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 write, as I might have oc-
casion to write my own pass. I consoled myself with
the hope that I should one day find a good chance.
Meanwhile, I 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-yard, and frequently seeing the ship carpenters,
after hewing, and getting a piece of timber ready
for use, write 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 side, it
would be marked thus--"L." When a piece was for
the starboard side, it would be marked thus--"S." A
piece for the larboard side forward, would be marked
thus--"L. F." When a piece was for starboard side
forward, it would be marked thus--"S. F." For lar-
board aft, it would be marked thus--"L. A." For star-
board aft, it would be marked thus--"S. A." I soon
learned the names of these letters, and for what
they were intended when placed upon a piece of
timber in the ship-yard. I immediately commenced
copying them, and in a short time was able to make
the four letters named. After that, when I met with
any boy who I knew could write, I 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 learn, and ask him to beat that. In this way I
got a good many lessons in writing, which it is quite
possible I should never have gotten in any other way.
During this time, my copy-book was the board fence,
brick wall, and pavement; my pen and ink was a
lump of chalk. With these, I learned mainly how to
write. I then commenced and continued copying the
Italics in Webster's Spelling Book, until I could make
them all without looking on the book. By this time,
my little Master Thomas had gone to school, and
learned how to write, and had written over a number
of copy-books. These had been brought home, and
shown to some of our near neighbors, and then laid
aside. My mistress used to go to class meeting at
the Wilk Street meetinghouse every Monday after-
noon, and leave me to take care of the house. When
left thus, I used to spend the time in writing in the
spaces left in Master Thomas's copy-book, copying
what he had written. I continued to do this until I
could write a hand very similar to that of Master
Thomas. Thus, after a long, tedious effort for years,
I finally succeeded in learning how to write.


In a very short time after I went to live at Balti-
more, my old master's youngest son Richard died;
and in about three years and six months after his
death, my old master, Captain Anthony, died, leav-
only his son, Andrew, and daughter, Lucretia, to
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
property, that it might be equally divided between
Mrs. Lucretia and Master Andrew. I was immedi-
ately sent for, to 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 this, I had become, if not in-
sensible to my lot, at least partly so. I left Baltimore
with a young heart overborne with sadness, and a
soul full of apprehension. I took passage with Cap-
tain Rowe, in the schooner Wild Cat, and, after a
sail of about twenty-four hours, I found myself near
the place of my birth. I had now been absent from
it almost, if not quite, five years. I, however, re-
membered the place very well. I was only about
five years old when I left it, to 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 women, old and young, married and single, were
ranked with horses, sheep, and swine. There were
horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and chil-
dren, all holding the same rank in the scale of being,
and were all subjected to the same narrow examina-
tion. Silvery-headed age and sprightly youth, maids
and matrons, had to undergo the same indelicate
inspection. At this moment, I saw more clearly than
ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon both
slave and slaveholder.

After the valuation, then 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
wishes, prayers, and entreaties--to sunder forever the
dearest friends, dearest kindred, and strongest ties
known to human beings. In addition to the pain of
separation, there 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 drunk-
ard, who had, by his reckless mismanagement and
profligate dissipation, already wasted a large por-
tion 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 fellow-
slaves. 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 sorrow, and acquainted with
grief. Their backs had been made familiar with the
bloody lash, so that they had become callous; mine
was yet tender; for while at Baltimore I got few whip-
pings, and few slaves could boast of a kinder master
and mistress than myself; and the thought of pass-
ing out of their hands into those of Master Andrew--
a man who, but a few days before, to give me a
sample of his bloody disposition, took my little
brother by the throat, threw him on the ground, and
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 brother, he turned to me, and said that was the
way he meant to serve me one of these days,--mean-
ing, I suppose, when I came into his possession.

Thanks to a kind Providence, I fell to the portion
of Mrs. Lucretia, and was sent immediately back
to Baltimore, to 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
Baltimore, for the purpose of valuation and division,
just about one month, and it seemed to have been

Very soon after my return to Baltimore, my mis-
tress, Lucretia, died, leaving her husband and one
child, Amanda; and in a very short time after her
death, Master Andrew died. Now all the property
of my old master, slaves included, was in the hands
of strangers,--strangers who had had nothing to do
with accumulating it. Not a slave was left free. All
remained slaves, from the youngest to the oldest. If
any one thing in my experience, more than another,
served to deepen my conviction of the infernal char-
acter of slavery, and to fill me with unutterable
loathing of slaveholders, it was their base ingrati-
tude 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 peo-
pled his plantation with slaves; she had become a
great grandmother in his service. She had rocked
him in infancy, attended him in childhood, served
him through life, and at his death wiped from his
icy brow the cold death-sweat, and 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 children, her grandchildren, and
her great-grandchildren, divided, like so many sheep,
without being gratified with the small privilege of a
single word, as to their or her own destiny. And, to
cap the climax of their base ingratitude and fiendish
barbarity, my grandmother, who 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
value, her frame already racked with the pains of old
age, and complete helplessness fast stealing over her
once active limbs, they took her to the woods, built
her a little hut, put up a little mud-chimney, and
then made her welcome to the privilege of support-
ing herself there in perfect loneliness; thus virtually
turning her out to die! If my poor old grandmother
now lives, she lives to suffer in utter loneliness; she
lives to remember and mourn over the loss of chil-
dren, the loss of grandchildren, and the loss of great-
grandchildren. They are, in the language of the
slave's poet, Whittier,--

"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 children, the uncon-
scious children, who once sang and danced in her
presence, are gone. She gropes her way, in the dark-
ness of age, for a drink of water. Instead of the voices
of her children, she hears by day the moans of the
dove, and 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
age, when the head inclines to the feet, when the
beginning and ending of human existence meet, and
helpless infancy and painful old age combine to-
gether--at this time, this most needful time, the time
for the exercise of that tenderness and affection
which children only can exercise towards a declining
parent--my poor old grandmother, the devoted
mother of twelve children, is left all alone, in yonder
little hut, before 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
present, to wipe from her wrinkled brow the cold
sweat of death, or 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. Lu-
cretia, 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
brother, he took me from him to live with himself
at St. Michael's. Here I underwent another most
painful separation. It, however, was not so severe
as the one I dreaded at the division of property; for,
during this interval, a great change had taken place
in Master Hugh and his once kind and affectionate
wife. The influence of brandy upon him, and of
slavery upon her, had effected a disastrous change
in the characters of both; so that, as far as they
were concerned, I 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 them, and was still receiving them, and
the thought of leaving them was painful indeed. I
was leaving, too, without the hope of ever being
allowed to return. Master Thomas had said he would
never let me return again. The barrier betwixt him-
self 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 Amanda, Captain Edward Dodson. On my
passage, I paid particular attention to the direction
which the steamboats took to go to Philadelphia. I
found, instead of going down, on reaching North
Point they went up the bay, in a north-easterly direc-
tion. I deemed this knowledge of the utmost im-
portance. My determination to run away was again
revived. I resolved to wait only so long as the offering
of a favorable opportunity. When that came, I was
determined to be off.


I have now reached a period of my life when I
can give dates. I left Baltimore, and went to live
with Master Thomas Auld, at St. Michael's, in
March, 1832. It was now more than seven years
since I lived with him in the family of my old mas-
ter, on Colonel Lloyd's plantation. We of course
were now almost entire strangers to each other. He
was to me a new master, and I to him a new slave.
I was ignorant of his temper and disposition; he
was equally so of mine. A very short time, however,
brought us into full acquaintance with each other.
I was made acquainted with his wife not less than
with himself. They were well matched, being equally
mean and cruel. I was now, for the first time during
a space of more than seven years, made 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
then, when I could look back to no period at which
I had enjoyed a sufficiency. It was tenfold harder
after living in Master Hugh's family, where I had
always had enough to eat, and of that which was
good. I have said Master Thomas was a mean man.
He was so. Not to give a slave enough to eat, is
regarded as the most aggravated development of
meanness even among slaveholders. The rule is, no
matter how coarse the food, only let there be enough
of it. This is the theory; and in the part of Maryland
from which I came, it 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 Eliza, my
aunt Priscilla, Henny, and myself; and we were al-
lowed less than a half of a bushel of corn-meal per
week, and very little else, either 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 need, the one
being considered as legitimate as the other. A great
many times have we poor creatures been nearly
perishing with hunger, when food in abundance lay
mouldering in the safe and smoke-house, and our
pious mistress was aware of the fact; and yet that
mistress and her husband would kneel every morn-
ing, and pray that God would bless them in basket
and store!

Bad as all slaveholders are, we 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 mean-
ness; and if there were any other element in his
nature, it was made subject to this. He was mean;
and, like most other mean men, he lacked the ability
to conceal his meanness. Captain Auld was not born
a slaveholder. He had been a poor man, master only
of a Bay craft. He came into possession of all his
slaves by marriage; and of all men, adopted slave-
holders are the worst. He was cruel, but cowardly.
He commanded without firmness. In the enforce-
ment of his rules, he was at times rigid, and at times
lax. At times, he 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 lion, but for his ears. In all things
noble which he attempted, his own meanness shone
most conspicuous. His airs, words, and actions,
were the airs, words, and actions of born slave-
holders, and, being assumed, were awkward enough.
He was not even a good imitator. He possessed all
the disposition to deceive, but wanted the power.
Having no resources within himself, he was com-
pelled to be the copyist of many, and being such, he
was forever the victim of inconsistency; and of con-
sequence he was an object of contempt, and 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 with-
out the ability to hold slaves. He found himself in-
capable of managing his slaves either by force, fear,
or fraud. We seldom called him "master;" we gen-
erally 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, Tal-
bot county, and there experienced religion. I in-
dulged 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 re-
spects. 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 get-
ting 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 emanci-
pation 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 will, and
doeth it not, shall 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
morning, and whip her before breakfast; leave her,
go to his store, return at dinner, and whip her again,
cutting her in the places already made raw with his
cruel lash. The secret of master's cruelty toward
"Henny" is found in the fact of her being almost
helpless. When quite a child, she 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; but, being a
poor gift, she was not disposed to keep her. Finally,
my benevolent master, to use his own words, "set
her adrift to take care of herself." Here was a re-
cently-converted man, holding 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 life, he said, had had a very pernicious effect
upon me. It had almost ruined me for every good
purpose, and fitted me for every thing which was
bad. One of my greatest faults was that of letting
his horse run away, and go down to his father-in-
law's farm, which was about five miles from St.
Michael's. I would then have to go after it. My
reason for this kind of carelessness, or carefulness,
was, that I could always get something to eat when
I went there. Master William Hamilton, my master's
father-in-law, always gave his slaves enough to eat.
I never left there hungry, no 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 months, during which time he had given
me a number of severe whippings, all to no good
purpose. He resolved to put me out, as he said, to
be broken; and, for this purpose, he let me for one
year to a man named Edward Covey. Mr. Covey
was a poor man, a farm-renter. He rented the place
upon which he lived, as also the hands with which
he tilled it. Mr. Covey had acquired a very high
reputation for breaking young slaves, and this repu-
tation 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 year, for the sake of the training to which they
were subjected, without any other compensation.
He could hire young help with great ease, in con-
sequence of this reputation. Added to the natural
good qualities of Mr. Covey, he 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 facts, having been made acquainted with
them by a young man who had lived there. I never-
theless made the change gladly; for I was sure of
getting enough to eat, which is not the smallest
consideration to a hungry man.


I had left Master Thomas's house, and went to live
with Mr. Covey, on the 1st of January, 1833. I was
now, for the first time in my life, a field hand. In
my new employment, I 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 whip-
ping, cutting my back, causing 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 me, very early in the morning of one of our
coldest days in the month of January, to the woods,
to get a load of wood. He gave me a team of un-
broken 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 it, and told me, if
the oxen started to run, that I must hold on upon
the rope. I had never driven oxen before, and of
course I was very awkward. I, however, succeeded in
getting to the edge of the woods with little diffi-
culty; but I had got a very few rods into the woods,
when the oxen took fright, and started full tilt, carry-
ing the cart against trees, and over stumps, in the
most frightful manner. I expected every moment
that my brains would be dashed out against the
trees. After running thus for a considerable dis-
tance, they finally upset the cart, dashing it with
great force against a tree, and threw themselves into
a dense thicket. How I escaped death, I do not
know. There I was, entirely alone, in a thick wood,
in a place new to me. My cart was upset and shat-
tered, my oxen were entangled among the young
trees, and there was none to help me. After a long
spell of effort, I succeeded in getting my cart righted,
my oxen disentangled, and again yoked to the cart.
I now proceeded with my team to the place where
I had, the day before, been chopping wood, and
loaded my cart pretty heavily, thinking 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 safely, and now felt out of
danger. I stopped my oxen to open the woods gate;
and just as I did so, before I could get hold of my
ox-rope, the oxen again started, rushed through the
gate, catching it between the wheel and the body of
the cart, tearing it to pieces, and coming within a
few inches of crushing me against the gate-post. Thus
twice, in one short day, I escaped death by the
merest chance. On my return, I told Mr. Covey
what had happened, and how it happened. He or-
dered me to return to the woods again immediately.
I did so, and he followed on after me. Just as I got
into the woods, he came up and told me to stop my
cart, and that he would teach me how to trifle away
my time, and break gates. He then went to a large
gum-tree, and with his axe cut three large switches,
and, after trimming them up neatly with his pocket-
knife, he ordered me to take off my clothes. I made
him no answer, but stood with my clothes on. He
repeated his order. I still made him no answer, nor
did I move to strip myself. Upon this he rushed
at me with the fierceness of a tiger, tore off my
clothes, and lashed me till he had worn out his
switches, cutting me so savagely as to leave the marks
visible for a long time after. This whipping was the
first of a number just like it, and for similar of-

I lived with Mr. Covey one year. During the first
six months, of that year, scarce a week passed with-
out his whipping me. I was seldom free from a sore
back. My awkwardness was almost always his ex-
cuse for whipping me. We were worked fully up
to the point of endurance. Long before day we were
up, our horses fed, and by the first approach of day
we were off to the field with our hoes and plough-
ing teams. Mr. Covey gave us enough to eat, but
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 time, midnight
often caught us in the field binding blades.

Covey would be out with us. The way he used to
stand it, was this. He would spend the most of his
afternoons in bed. He would then come out fresh
in the evening, ready to urge us on with his words,
example, and 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 openly, if he could do it secretly. He always
aimed at taking us by surprise. Such was his cunning,
that we used to call him, among ourselves, "the
snake." When we were at work in the cornfield, he
would sometimes crawl on his hands and knees to
avoid detection, and all at once he would rise
nearly in our midst, and scream out, "Ha, ha!
Come, come! Dash on, dash on!" This being his
mode of attack, it 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 tree, behind every stump, in every bush,
and at every window, on the plantation. He would
sometimes mount his horse, as if bound to St. Mi-
chael's, a distance of seven miles, and in half an
hour afterwards you would see him coiled up in
the corner of the wood-fence, watching every motion
of the slaves. He would, for this purpose, leave his
horse tied up in the woods. Again, he would some-
times walk up to us, and give us orders as though
he was upon the point of starting on a long journey,
turn his back upon us, and make as though he was
going to the house to get ready; and, before he would
get half way thither, he would turn short and crawl
into a fence-corner, or behind some tree, and there
watch us till the going down of the sun.

Mr. Covey's FORTE consisted in his power to de-
ceive. His life was devoted to planning and perpe-
trating the grossest deceptions. Every thing he pos-
sessed in the shape of learning or religion, he 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 morning, and
a long prayer at night; and, strange 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; and, as he was a
very poor singer himself, the duty of raising the
hymn generally came upon me. He would read his
hymn, and nod at me to commence. I would at
times do so; at others, I would not. My non-com-
pliance would almost always produce much confu-
sion. To show himself independent of me, he would
start and stagger through with his hymn in the most
discordant manner. In this state of mind, he prayed
with more than ordinary spirit. Poor man! such was
his disposition, and success at deceiving, I do verily
believe that he sometimes deceived himself into the
solemn belief, that he was a sincere worshipper of
the most high God; and this, too, at 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; and, shocking as is the fact,
he bought her, as he said, for A BREEDER. This woman
was named Caroline. Mr. Covey bought her from
Mr. Thomas Lowe, about six miles from St. Mi-
chael's. She was a large, able-bodied woman, about
twenty years old. She had already given birth to one
child, which proved her to be just what he wanted.
After buying her, he hired a married man of Mr.
Samuel Harrison, to live with him one year; and him
he used to fasten up with her every night! The re-
sult was, that, at the end of the year, the miserable
woman gave birth to twins. At this result Mr. Covey
seemed to be highly pleased, both with the man and
the wretched woman. Such was his joy, and that of
his wife, that nothing they could do for Caroline
during her confinement was too good, or 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,
blow, hail, or snow, too hard for us to work in the
field. Work, work, work, was scarcely more the order
of the day than of the night. The longest days were
too short for him, and the shortest nights too long
for him. I was somewhat unmanageable when I first
went there, but a few months of this discipline
tamed me. Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I
was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural
elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the
disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that
lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery
closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed
into a brute!

Sunday was my only leisure time. I spent this in
a sort of beast-like stupor, between sleep and wake,
under some large tree. At times I would rise up, a
flash of energetic freedom would dart through my
soul, accompanied with a faint beam of hope, that
flickered for a moment, and then vanished. I sank
down again, mourning over my wretched condition.
I was sometimes prompted to take my life, and that
of Covey, but 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 Chesa-
peake Bay, whose broad bosom was ever white with
sails from every quarter of the habitable globe.
Those beautiful vessels, robed in purest white, so
delightful to the eye of freemen, were to me so
many shrouded ghosts, to terrify and torment me
with thoughts of my wretched condition. I have of-
ten, in the deep stillness of a summer's Sabbath,
stood all alone upon the lofty banks of that noble
bay, and traced, with saddened heart and tearful
eye, the countless number of sails moving off to
the mighty ocean. The sight of these always affected
me powerfully. My thoughts would compel utter-
ance; and there, with no audience but the Almighty,
I would pour out my soul's complaint, in my rude
way, with an apostrophe to the moving multitude of

"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 pro-
tecting 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 steam-
boats 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 think, and thus I used to speak
to myself; goaded almost to madness at one mo-
ment, and at the next reconciling myself to my
wretched lot.

I have already intimated that my condition was
much worse, during the first six months of my stay
at Mr. Covey's, than in the last six. The circum-
stances 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 August, 1833, Bill
Smith, William Hughes, a slave named Eli, and
myself, were engaged in fanning wheat. Hughes was
clearing the fanned wheat from before the fan. Eli
was turning, Smith was feeding, and I was carrying
wheat to the fan. The work was simple, requiring
strength rather than intellect; yet, to one entirely
unused to such work, it came very hard. About three
o'clock of that day, I 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 coming, I nerved myself
up, feeling 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 longer, I fell, and 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 other, and
have his own go on at the same time.

Mr. Covey was at the house, about one hundred
yards from the treading-yard where we were fanning.
On hearing the fan stop, he left immediately, and
came to the spot where we were. He hastily in-
quired what the matter was. Bill answered that I
was sick, and 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 enclosed, hoping 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 spot, and,
after looking at me awhile, asked me what was
the matter. I told him as well as I could, for I scarce
had strength to speak. He then gave me a savage
kick in the side, and told me to get up. I tried to
do so, but fell back in the attempt. He gave me
another kick, and again told me to rise. I again
tried, and succeeded in gaining my feet; but, stoop-
ing to get the tub with which I was feeding the
fan, I again staggered and fell. While down in this
situation, Mr. Covey took up the hickory slat with
which Hughes had been striking off the half-bushel
measure, and with it gave me a heavy blow upon
the head, making a large wound, and the blood ran
freely; and with this again told me to get up. I made
no effort to comply, having now made up my mind
to let him do his worst. In a short time after re-
ceiving this blow, my head grew better. Mr. Covey
had now left me to my fate. At this moment I re-
solved, for the first time, to go to my master, enter
a complaint, and ask his protection. In order to do
this, I must that afternoon walk seven miles; and
this, under the circumstances, was truly a severe
undertaking. I was exceedingly feeble; made so as
much by the kicks and blows which I received, as
by the severe fit of sickness to which I had been
subjected. I, however, watched my chance, while
Covey was looking in an opposite direction, and
started for St. Michael's. I succeeded in getting a
considerable distance on my way to the woods, when
Covey discovered me, and called after me to come
back, threatening 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 over-
hauled by him if I kept the road, I walked through
the woods, keeping far enough from the road to
avoid detection, and 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 so, but that the blood so matted
my hair as to stop the wound. After lying there
about three quarters of an hour, I nerved myself
up again, and started on my way, through bogs and
briers, barefooted and bareheaded, tearing my feet
sometimes at nearly every step; and after a journey
of about seven miles, occupying some five hours to
perform it, I arrived at master's store. I then pre-
sented an appearance enough to affect any but a
heart of iron. From the crown of my head to my
feet, I 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 es-
caped a den of wild beasts, and barely escaped them.
In this state I appeared before my master, humbly
entreating him to interpose his authority for my
protection. I told him all the circumstances as well
as I could, and it seemed, as I spoke, at times to
affect him. He would then walk the floor, and seek
to justify Covey by saying he expected I deserved
it. He asked me what I wanted. I told him, to let
me get a new home; that as sure as I lived with Mr.
Covey again, I 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
me, and said that he knew Mr. Covey; that he was
a good man, and that he could not think of taking
me from him; that, should he do so, he would lose
the whole year's wages; that I belonged to Mr. Covey
for one year, and that I must go back to him, come
what might; and that I must not trouble him with
any more stories, or that he would himself GET HOLD
OF ME. After threatening me thus, he gave me a very
large dose of salts, telling 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 not, he would
~get hold of me,~ which meant that he would whip
me. I remained all night, and, according to his or-
ders, I started off to Covey's in the morning, (Sat-
urday morning,) wearied in body and broken in
spirit. I got no supper that night, or 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 ours, out ran Covey with
his cowskin, to give me another whipping. Before
he could reach me, I succeeded in getting to the
cornfield; and as the corn was very high, it afforded
me the means of hiding. He seemed very angry, and
searched for me a long time. My behavior was al-
together unaccountable. He finally gave up the
chase, thinking, I suppose, that I must come home
for something to eat; he would give himself no fur-
ther trouble in looking for me. I spent that day
mostly in the woods, having the alternative before
me,--to go home and be whipped to death, or stay
in the woods and be starved to death. That night,
I fell in with Sandy Jenkins, a slave with whom
I was somewhat acquainted. Sandy had a free wife
who lived about four miles from Mr. Covey's; and
it being Saturday, he was on his way to see her. I
told him my circumstances, and he very kindly in-
vited me to go home with him. I went home with
him, and talked this whole matter over, and got his
advice as to what course it was best for me to pursue.
I found Sandy an old adviser. He told me, with
great solemnity, I must go back to Covey; but that
before I went, I must go with him into another
part of the woods, where there was a certain ~root,~
which, if I would take some of it with me, carrying
it ~always on my right side,~ would render it impos-
sible for Mr. Covey, or any other white man, to
whip me. He said he had carried it for years; and
since he had done so, he had never received a blow,
and never expected to while he carried it. I at first
rejected the idea, that the simple carrying of a root
in my pocket would have any such effect as he had
said, and was not disposed to take it; but Sandy
impressed the necessity with much earnestness, tell-
ing me it could do no harm, if it did no good. To
please him, I at length took the root, and, ac-
cording to his direction, carried 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 kindly, bade me drive the pigs
from a lot near by, and passed on towards the
church. Now, this singular conduct of Mr. Covey
really made me begin to think that there was some-
thing in the ROOT which Sandy had given me; and
had it been on any other day than Sunday, I could
have attributed the conduct to no other cause than
the influence of that root; and as it was, I 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 morning, the virtue of
the ROOT was fully tested. Long before daylight, I
was called to go and rub, curry, and feed, the horses.
I obeyed, and was glad to obey. But whilst thus
engaged, whilst in the act of throwing down some
blades from the loft, Mr. Covey entered the stable
with a long rope; and just as I was half out of the
loft, he caught hold of my legs, and was about tying
me. As soon as I found what he was up to, I gave
a sudden spring, and as I did so, he holding to my
legs, I was brought sprawling on the stable floor.
Mr. Covey seemed now to think he had me, and
could do what he pleased; but at this moment--
from whence came the spirit I don't know--I re-
solved to fight; and, suiting my action to the reso-
lution, I seized Covey hard by the throat; and as I
did so, I rose. He held on to me, and I to him. My
resistance was so entirely unexpected that Covey
seemed taken all aback. He trembled like a leaf.
This gave me assurance, and 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 came, and, while Covey
held me, attempted to tie my right hand. While he
was in the act of doing so, I watched my chance,
and gave him a heavy kick close under the ribs.
This kick fairly sickened Hughes, so that he left
me in the hands of Mr. Covey. This kick had the
effect of not only weakening Hughes, but Covey also.
When he saw Hughes bending over with pain, his
courage quailed. He asked me if I meant to persist
in my resistance. I told him I did, come what
might; that he had used me like a brute for six
months, and that I was determined to be used so
no longer. With that, he 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 stick, I seized him with both hands
by his collar, and brought him by a sudden snatch
to the ground. By this time, Bill came. Covey called
upon him for assistance. Bill wanted to know what
he could do. Covey said, "Take hold of him, take
hold of him!" Bill said his master hired him out to
work, and 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
go, puffing and blowing at a great rate, saying that
if I had not resisted, he would not have whipped
me half so much. The truth was, that he had not
whipped me at all. I considered him as getting en-
tirely the worst end of the bargain; for he had drawn
no blood from me, but I had from him. The whole
six months afterwards, that I spent with Mr. Covey,
he never laid the weight of his finger upon me in
anger. He would occasionally say, he didn't want
to get hold of me again. "No," thought I, "you
need not; for you will come off worse than you did

This battle with Mr. Covey was the turning-
point in my career as a slave. It rekindled the few
expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me
a sense of my own manhood. It recalled the de-
parted self-confidence, and inspired me again with
a determination to be free. The gratification af-
forded by the triumph was a full compensation for
whatever else might follow, even death itself. He
only can understand the deep satisfaction which I
experienced, who has himself repelled by force the
bloody arm of slavery. I felt as I never felt before.
It was a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of
slavery, to the heaven of freedom. My long-crushed
spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took
its place; and I now resolved that, however long I
might remain a slave in form, the day had passed
forever when I could be a slave in fact. I did not
hesitate to let it be known of me, that the white
man who expected to succeed in whipping, must
also succeed in killing me.

From this time I was never again what might be
called fairly whipped, though I remained a slave
four years afterwards. I had several fights, but 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-post, and 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 is, I will give it. Mr. Covey
enjoyed the most unbounded reputation for being
a first-rate overseer and negro-breaker. It was of con-
siderable importance to him. That reputation was at
stake; and had he sent me--a boy about sixteen years
old--to the public whipping-post, his reputation
would have been lost; so, to save his reputation, he
suffered me to go unpunished.

My term of actual service to Mr. Edward Covey
ended on Christmas day, 1833. The days between
Christmas and New Year's day are allowed as holi-
days; and, accordingly, we were not required to per-
form any labor, more than to feed and take care of
the stock. This time we regarded as our own, by the
grace of our masters; and we therefore used or
abused it nearly as we pleased. Those of us who had
families at a distance, were generally allowed to
spend the whole six days in their society. This time,
however, was spent in various ways. The staid, sober,
thinking and industrious ones of our number would
employ themselves in making corn-brooms, mats,
horse-collars, and baskets; and another class of us
would spend the time in hunting opossums, hares,
and coons. But by far the larger part engaged in
such sports and merriments as playing ball, wres-
tling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and
drinking whisky; and this latter mode of spending
the time was by far the most agreeable to the feel-
ings 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 indeed, who had not provided
himself with the necessary means, during the year,
to get whisky enough to last him through Christmas.

From what I know of the effect of these holidays
upon the slave, I 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 conductors, or safety-valves, to carry
off the rebellious spirit of enslaved humanity. But
for these, the slave would be forced up to the wild-
est desperation; and woe betide the slaveholder, the
day he ventures to remove or hinder the operation
of those conductors! I warn him that, in such an
event, a spirit will go forth in their midst, more to
be dreaded than the most appalling earthquake.

The holidays are part and parcel of the gross
fraud, wrong, and inhumanity of slavery. They are
professedly a custom established by the benevolence
of the slaveholders; but I undertake to say, it is the
result of selfishness, and 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 fact, that 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 be, to disgust their slaves with freedom,
by plunging them into the lowest depths of dissipa-
tion. For instance, the slaveholders not only like to
see the slave drink of his own accord, but will adopt
various plans to make him drunk. One plan is, to
make bets on their slaves, as to who can drink the
most whisky without getting drunk; and in this way
they succeed in getting whole multitudes to drink
to excess. Thus, when the slave asks for virtuous
freedom, the cunning slaveholder, knowing his ig-
norance, cheats him with a dose of vicious dissi-
pation, artfully labelled with the name of liberty.
The most of us used to drink it down, and 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 felt, and very prop-
erly too, that we had almost as well be slaves to
man as to rum. So, when the holidays ended, we
staggered up from the filth of our wallowing, took
a long breath, and marched to the field,--feeling,
upon the whole, rather glad to go, from 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 freedom, by allowing him to see only
the abuse of it, is carried out in other things. For
instance, a slave loves molasses; he steals some.
His master, in many cases, goes off to town, and
buys a large quantity; he returns, takes his whip,
and commands the slave to eat the molasses, until
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
allowance, and applies for more. His master is en-
raged at him; but, not willing to send him off with-
out food, gives him more than is necessary, and com-
pels him to eat it within a given time. Then, if he
complains that he cannot eat it, he is said to be
satisfied neither full nor fasting, and is whipped
for being hard to please! I have an abundance of
such illustrations of the same principle, drawn from
my own observation, but think the cases I have cited
sufficient. The practice is a very common one.

On the first of January, 1834, I left Mr. Covey,
and went to live with Mr. William Freeland, who
lived about three miles from St. Michael's. I soon
found Mr. Freeland a very different man from Mr.
Covey. Though not rich, he was what would be
called an educated southern gentleman. Mr. Covey,
as I have shown, was a well-trained negro-breaker
and slave-driver. The former (slaveholder though he
was) seemed to possess some regard for honor,
some reverence for justice, and some respect for
humanity. The latter seemed totally insensible to
all such sentiments. Mr. Freeland had many of the
faults peculiar to slaveholders, such as being very
passionate and fretful; but I must do him the
justice to say, that he was exceedingly free from
those degrading vices to which Mr. Covey was con-
stantly addicted. The one was open and frank, and
we always knew where to find him. The other was a
most artful deceiver, and could be understood only
by such as were skilful enough to detect his cun-
ningly-devised frauds. Another advantage I gained
in my new master was, he made no pretensions to,
or profession of, religion; and this, in my opinion,
was truly a great advantage. I assert most unhesi-
tatingly, 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 darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infer-
nal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protec-
tion. Were I to be again reduced to the chains of
slavery, next to that enslavement, I 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 met, religious slaveholders
are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest
and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all oth-
ers. It was my unhappy lot not only to belong to a
religious slaveholder, but to live in a community of
such religionists. Very near Mr. Freeland lived the
Rev. Daniel Weeden, and in the same neighborhood
lived the Rev. Rigby Hopkins. These were members
and ministers in the Reformed Methodist Church.
Mr. Weeden owned, among others, a woman slave,
whose name I have forgotten. This woman's back,
for weeks, was kept literally raw, made so by the
lash of this merciless, ~religious~ wretch. He used to
hire hands. His maxim was, Behave well or behave
ill, it is the duty of a master occasionally to whip
a slave, to remind him of his master's authority.
Such was his theory, and 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 fears, and strike terror into those who escaped.
His plan was to whip for the smallest offences, to
prevent the commission of large ones. Mr. Hopkins
could always find some excuse for whipping a slave.
It would astonish one, unaccustomed to a slave-
holding life, to see with what wonderful ease a slave-
holder can find things, of which to make occasion
to whip a slave. A mere look, word, or motion,--a
mistake, accident, or want of power,--are all matters
for which a slave may be whipped at any time. Does
a slave look dissatisfied? It is said, he has the devil
in him, and it must be whipped out. Does he speak
loudly when spoken to by his master? Then he is
getting high-minded, and 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 reverence, and should be whipped for
it. Does he ever venture to vindicate his conduct,
when censured for it? Then he is guilty of impu-
dence,--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 presumptuous, and
getting above himself; and nothing less than a flog-
ging will do for him. Does he, while ploughing,
break a plough,--or, while hoeing, break a hoe? It
is owing to his carelessness, and 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 county, with
whom the slaves who had the getting their own
home, would not prefer to live, rather than with
this Rev. Mr. Hopkins. And yet there was not a
man any where round, who made higher professions
of religion, or was more active in revivals,--more
attentive to the class, love-feast, prayer and preach-
ing meetings, or more devotional in his family,--
that prayed earlier, later, louder, and longer,--than
this same reverend slave-driver, Rigby Hopkins.

But to return to Mr. Freeland, and to my experi-
ence while in his employment. He, like Mr. Covey,
gave us enough to eat; but, unlike Mr. Covey, he
also gave us sufficient time to take our meals. He
worked us hard, but 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 large, but he employed hands enough to
work it, and with ease, compared with many of
his neighbors. My treatment, while in his employ-
ment, was heavenly, compared with what I experi-
enced 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 con-
sisted of myself, Sandy Jenkins,* and Handy Cald-
well. Henry and John were quite intelligent, and in
a very little while after I went there, I 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 Sab-
bath school. I agreed to do so, and accordingly
devoted my Sundays to teaching these my loved fel-
low-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 on, and
also availed themselves of this little opportunity to
learn to read. It was understood, among all who
came, that 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,
that, instead of spending the Sabbath in wrestling,
boxing, and drinking whisky, we 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 Covey, and
as often as we did so, he 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 sports, than
to see us behaving like intellectual, moral, and ac-
countable beings. My blood boils as I think of the
bloody manner in which Messrs. Wright Fairbanks
and Garrison West, both class-leaders, in connection
with many others, rushed in upon us with sticks
and stones, and broke up our virtuous little Sab-
bath school, at 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 man, whose name I deem it imprudent to
mention; for should it be known, it might embar-
rass him greatly, though the crime of holding the
school was committed ten years ago. I had at one
time over forty scholars, and 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 ex-
pressed. 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 other, and 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 slavery, my feelings overcome me,
and I am almost ready to ask, "Does 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 Sab-
bath school because it was popular to do so, nor 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 up, and given thirty-
nine 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 them, because it was the delight of my
soul to be doing something that looked like better-
ing the condition of my race. I kept up my school
nearly the whole year I lived with Mr. Freeland;
and, beside my Sabbath school, I devoted three eve-
nings in the week, during the winter, to 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 one, at least, is 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 mas-
ter.~ For the ease with which I passed the year, I
was, however, somewhat indebted to the society of
my fellow-slaves. They were noble souls; they not
only possessed loving hearts, but 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 assertion, I can say, I never loved
any or confided in any people more than my fellow-
slaves, 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 importance, without a mutual consultation.
We never moved separately. We were one; and as
much so by our tempers and dispositions, as by the
mutual hardships to which we were necessarily sub-
jected by our condition as slaves.

At the close of the year 1834, Mr. Freeland again
hired me of my master, for the year 1835. But, by
this time, I began to want to live ~upon free land~
as well as ~with freeland;~ and I was no longer con-
tent, therefore, to live with him or any other slave-
holder. I began, with the commencement of the
year, to prepare myself for a final struggle, which
should decide my fate one way or the other. My
tendency was upward. I was fast approaching man-
hood, and year after year had passed, and I was
still a slave. These thoughts roused me--I must do
something. I therefore resolved that 1835 should
not pass without witnessing an attempt, on 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 this, my life-giving determination. I therefore,
though with great prudence, commenced early to
ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their
condition, and to imbue their minds with thoughts
of freedom. I bent myself to devising ways and
means for our escape, and meanwhile strove, on all
fitting occasions, to impress them with the gross
fraud and inhumanity of slavery. I went first to
Henry, next to John, then to the others. I found,
in them all, warm hearts and noble spirits. They
were ready to hear, and ready to act when a feasible
plan should be proposed. This was what I wanted.
I talked to them of our want of manhood, if we
submitted to our enslavement without at least one
noble effort to be free. We met often, and consulted
frequently, and told our hopes and fears, recounted
the difficulties, real and imagined, which we should
be called on to meet. At times we were almost dis-
posed to give up, and try to content ourselves with
our wretched lot; at others, we were firm and un-
bending in our determination to go. Whenever we
suggested any plan, there was shrinking--the odds
were fearful. Our path was beset with the greatest
obstacles; and if we succeeded in gaining the end
of it, our right to be free was yet questionable--we
were yet liable to be returned to bondage. We could
see no spot, this side of the ocean, where we could
be free. We knew nothing about Canada. Our
knowledge of the north did not extend farther than
New York; and to go there, and 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
one, and one which it was not easy to overcome.
The case sometimes stood thus: At every gate
through which we were to pass, we 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 difficulties, real or
imagined--the good to be sought, and the evil to be
shunned. On the one hand, there stood slavery, a
stern reality, glaring frightfully upon us,--its robes
already crimsoned with the blood of millions, and
even now feasting itself greedily upon our own flesh.
On the other hand, away back in the dim distance,
under the flickering light of the north star, behind
some craggy hill or snow-covered mountain, stood
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 per-
mitted ourselves to survey the road, we were fre-
quently appalled. Upon either side we saw grim
death, assuming the most horrid shapes. Now it was
starvation, causing us to eat our own flesh;--now we
were contending with the waves, and were drowned;
--now we were overtaken, and torn to pieces by the
fangs of the terrible bloodhound. We were stung
by scorpions, chased by wild beasts, bitten by snakes,
and finally, after having nearly reached the desired
spot,--after swimming rivers, encountering wild
beasts, sleeping in the woods, suffering hunger and
nakedness,--we were overtaken by our pursuers, and,
in our resistance, we were shot dead upon the spot!
I say, this picture sometimes appalled us, and made

"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 Henry, when he resolved
upon liberty or death. With us it was a doubtful
liberty at most, and almost certain death if we failed.
For my part, I should prefer death to hopeless bond-

Sandy, one of our number, gave up the notion,
but still encouraged us. Our company then consisted
of Henry Harris, John Harris, Henry Bailey, Charles
Roberts, and myself. Henry Bailey was my uncle,
and belonged to my master. Charles married my
aunt: he belonged to my master's father-in-law, Mr.
William Hamilton.

The plan we finally concluded upon was, to get
a large canoe belonging to Mr. Hamilton, and upon
the Saturday night previous to Easter holidays,
paddle directly up the Chesapeake Bay. On our ar-
rival at the head of the bay, a distance of seventy
or eighty miles from where we lived, it was our
purpose to turn our canoe adrift, and follow the
guidance of the north star till we got beyond the
limits of Maryland. Our reason for taking the water
route was, that we were less liable to be suspected as
runaways; we hoped to be regarded as fishermen;
whereas, if we should take the land route, we should
be subjected to interruptions of almost every kind.
Any one having a white face, and being so disposed,
could stop us, and subject us to examination.

The week before our intended start, I wrote sev-
eral protections, one for each of us. As well as I
can remember, they were in the following words, to

"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.


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

We were not going to Baltimore; but, in going up
the bay, we went toward Baltimore, and these pro-
tections were only intended to protect us while on
the bay.

As the time drew near for our departure, our
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 time, I was very active in explaining every dif-
ficulty, removing every doubt, dispelling 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 now, we never should be; and if we did not
intend to move now, we had as well fold our arms,
sit down, and acknowledge ourselves fit only to be
slaves. This, none of us were prepared to acknowl-
edge. Every man stood firm; and at our last meeting,
we pledged ourselves afresh, in the most solemn
manner, that, at the time appointed, we would cer-
tainly start in pursuit of freedom. This was in the
middle of the week, at the end of which we were
to be off. We went, as usual, to our several fields
of labor, but 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 waiting, the Saturday morning,
whose night was to witness our departure, came. I
hailed it with joy, bring what of sadness it might.
Friday night was a sleepless one for me. I probably
felt more anxious than the rest, because I was, by
common consent, at the head of the whole affair.
The responsibility of success or failure lay heavily
upon me. The glory of the one, and the confusion
of the other, were alike mine. The first two hours
of that morning were such as I never experienced
before, and hope never to again. Early in the
morning, we went, as usual, to the field. We were
spreading manure; and all at once, while thus en-
gaged, I was overwhelmed with an indescribable feel-
ing, in the fulness of which I turned to Sandy, who
was near by, and said, "We are betrayed!" "Well,"
said he, "that thought has this moment struck me."
We said no more. I was never more certain of any

The horn was blown as usual, and we went up
from the field to the house for breakfast. I went for
the form, more than for want of any thing to eat
that morning. Just as I got to the house, in looking
out at the lane gate, I saw four white men, with
two colored men. The white men were on horseback,
and the colored ones were walking behind, as if tied.
I watched them a few moments till they got up to
our lane gate. Here they halted, and tied the colored
men to the gate-post. I was not yet certain as to
what the matter was. In a few moments, in rode
Mr. Hamilton, with a speed betokening great excite-
ment. He came to the door, and inquired if Master
William was in. He was told he was at the barn. Mr.
Hamilton, without dismounting, rode up to the barn
with extraordinary speed. In a few moments, he and
Mr. Freeland returned to the house. By this time,
the three constables rode up, and in great haste dis-
mounted, tied their horses, and met Master William
and Mr. Hamilton returning from the barn; and
after talking awhile, they 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 door, and
called me by name, saying, there were some gentle-
men at the door who wished to see me. I stepped
to the door, and inquired what they wanted. They
at once seized me, and, without giving me any satis-
faction, tied me--lashing my hands closely together.
I insisted upon knowing what the matter was. They
at length said, that they had learned I had been in a
"scrape," and that I was to be examined before my
master; and if their information proved false, I
should not be hurt.

In a few moments, they succeeded in tying John.
They then turned to Henry, who had by this time
returned, and commanded him to cross his hands.
"I won't!" said Henry, in a firm tone, indicating his
readiness to meet the consequences of his refusal.
"Won't you?" said Tom Graham, the constable. "No,
I won't!" said Henry, in a still stronger tone. With
this, two of the constables pulled out their shining
pistols, and swore, by their Creator, that they would
make him cross his hands or kill him. Each cocked
his pistol, and, with fingers on the trigger, walked
up to Henry, saying, at the same time, if he did not
cross his hands, they would blow his damned heart
out. "Shoot me, shoot me!" said Henry; "you can't
kill me but once. Shoot, shoot,--and be damned! ~I
won't be tied!~" This he said in a tone of loud defi-
ance; and at the same time, with a motion as quick
as lightning, he with one single stroke dashed the
pistols from the hand of each constable. As he did
this, all hands fell upon him, and, after beating
him some time, they finally overpowered him, and
got him tied.

During the scuffle, I managed, I know not how,
to get my pass out, and, without being discovered,
put it into the fire. We were all now tied; and just
as we were to leave for Easton jail, Betsy Freeland,
mother of William Freeland, came to the door with
her hands full of biscuits, and divided them between
Henry and John. She then delivered herself of a
speech, to the following effect:--addressing herself
to me, she 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 reply, and was imme-
diately hurried off towards St. Michael's. Just a mo-
ment previous to the scuffle with Henry, Mr. Hamil-
ton suggested the propriety of making a search for
the protections which he had understood Frederick
had written for himself and the rest. But, just at
the moment he was about carrying his proposal into
effect, his aid was needed in helping to tie Henry;
and the excitement attending the scuffle caused
them either to forget, or to deem it unsafe, under
the circumstances, to 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 look-
ing ahead, Henry 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 together, after 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's, we underwent a sort of exami-
nation. We all denied that we ever intended to run
away. We did this more to bring out the evidence
against us, than from any hope of getting clear of
being sold; for, as I have said, we were ready for
that. The fact was, we cared but little where we
went, so 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 there, we were delivered up
to the sheriff, Mr. Joseph Graham, and by him
placed in jail. Henry, John, and myself, were placed
in one room together--Charles, and 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 traders, and agents for slave
traders, flocked into jail to look at us, and to as-
certain 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 father, the devil. They
laughed and grinned over us, saying, "Ah, my boys!
we have got you, haven't we?" And after taunting
us in various ways, they one by one went into an
examination of us, with 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 answer, and leave them to find out as best they
could. Then they would curse and swear at us, telling
us that they could take the devil out of us in a very
little while, if we were only in their hands.

While in jail, we found ourselves in much more
comfortable quarters than we expected when we
went there. We did not get much to eat, nor that
which was very good; but we had a good clean room,
from the windows of which we could see what was go-
ing on in the street, which was very much better
than though we had been placed in one of the dark,
damp cells. Upon the whole, we got along very well,
so far as the jail and its keeper were concerned.
Immediately after the holidays were over, contrary
to all our expectations, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Free-
land came up to Easton, and took Charles, the two
Henrys, and John, out of jail, and carried them
home, leaving 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 together, and had decided that,
as I was the whole cause of the intention of the
others to run away, it was hard to make the innocent
suffer with the guilty; and that they had, therefore,
concluded to take the others home, and sell me, as
a warning to the others that remained. It is due
to the noble Henry to say, he seemed almost as
reluctant at leaving the prison as at leaving home
to come to the prison. But we knew we should, in
all probability, be separated, if we were sold; and
since he was in their hands, he concluded to go
peaceably home.

I was now left to my fate. I was all alone, and
within the walls of a stone prison. But a few days
before, and I was full of hope. I expected to have
been safe in a land of freedom; but now I was cov-
ered with gloom, sunk down to the utmost despair.
I thought the possibility of freedom was gone. I
was kept in this way about one week, at the end
of which, Captain Auld, my master, to my surprise
and utter astonishment, came up, and took me out,
with the intention of sending me, with a gentleman
of his acquaintance, into Alabama. But, from some
cause or other, he did not send me to Alabama,
but concluded to send me back to Baltimore, to
live again with his brother Hugh, and to learn a

Thus, after an absence of three years and one
month, I 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 preju-
dice in the community, and he feared I might be

In a few weeks after I went to Baltimore, Master
Hugh hired me to Mr. William Gardner, an ex-
tensive ship-builder, on Fell's Point. I was put there
to learn how to calk. It, however, proved a very
unfavorable place for the accomplishment of this
object. Mr. Gardner was engaged that spring in
building two large man-of-war brigs, professedly for
the Mexican government. The vessels were to be
launched in the July of that year, and in failure
thereof, Mr. Gardner was to lose a considerable sum;
so that when I entered, all 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 ship-
yard, my orders from Mr. Gardner were, to do what-
ever the carpenters commanded me to do. This was
placing me at the beck and call of about seventy-five
men. I was to regard all these as masters. Their
word was to be my law. My situation was a most
trying one. At times I needed a dozen pair of hands.
I was called a dozen ways in the space of a single
minute. Three or four voices would strike my ear
at the same moment. It was--"Fred., come help me
to cant this timber here."--"Fred., come carry this
timber yonder."--"Fred., bring that roller here."--
"Fred., go get a fresh can of water."--"Fred., come
help saw off the end of this timber."--"Fred., go
quick, and get the crowbar."--"Fred., hold on the
end of this fall."--"Fred., go to the blacksmith's
shop, and get a new punch."--"Hurra, Fred.! run
and bring me a cold chisel."--"I say, Fred., bear a
hand, and get up a fire as quick as lightning under
that steam-box."--"Halloo, nigger! come, turn this
grindstone."--"Come, come! move, move! and BOWSE
this timber forward."--"I say, darky, blast 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 longer, but for a most horrid
fight I had with four of the white apprentices, in
which my left eye was nearly knocked out, and I
was horribly mangled in other respects. The facts
in the case were these: Until a very little while
after I went there, white and black ship-carpenters
worked side by side, and 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 off, and said they
would not work with free colored workmen. Their
reason for this, as alleged, was, that if free colored
carpenters were encouraged, they would soon take
the trade into their own hands, and 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 necessities, they
broke off, swearing they would work no longer, unless
he would discharge his black carpenters. Now,
though this did not extend to me in form, it 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 airs, and talk about the
"niggers" taking the country, saying we all ought to
be killed; and, being encouraged by the journey-
men, they commenced making my condition as
hard as they could, by hectoring me around, and
sometimes striking me. I, of course, kept the vow
I made after the fight with Mr. Covey, and struck
back again, regardless of consequences; and while
I kept them from combining, I succeeded very well;
for I could whip the whole of them, taking them
separately. They, however, at length combined, and
came upon me, armed with sticks, stones, and heavy
handspikes. One came in front with a half brick.
There was one at each side of me, and one behind
me. While I was attending to those in front, and on
either side, the one behind ran up with the hand-
spike, and struck me a heavy blow upon the head.
It stunned me. I fell, and with this they all ran
upon me, and fell to beating me with their fists. I
let them lay on for a while, gathering strength. In
an instant, I gave a sudden surge, and rose to my
hands and knees. Just as I did that, one of their
number gave me, with his heavy boot, a powerful
kick in the left eye. My eyeball seemed to have
burst. When they saw my eye closed, and badly
swollen, they left me. With this I seized the hand-
spike, and for a time pursued them. But here the
carpenters interfered, and 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-carpenters, and not one
interposed a friendly word; but some cried, "Kill
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 blow, and 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 home, and told the story of my
wrongs to Master Hugh; and I am happy to say of
him, irreligious as he was, his 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
outrage, and gave many proofs of his strong indigna-
tion 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 me, washed the blood from my face, and,
with a mother's tenderness, bound up my head,
covering the wounded eye with a lean piece of fresh
beef. It was almost compensation for my suffering
to witness, once more, a manifestation of kindness
from this, my 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 bruises, he took me with him to
Esquire Watson's, on Bond Street, to 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 said, "the deed was done, and there
was no question as to who did it." His answer was,
he could do nothing in the case, unless 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 people, their
testimony combined would have been insufficient
to have arrested one of the murderers. Master Hugh,
for once, was compelled to say this state of things
was too bad. Of course, it 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 time, the slightest
manifestation of humanity toward a colored person
was denounced as abolitionism, and that name sub-
jected its bearer to frightful liabilities. The watch-
words of the bloody-minded in that region, and in
those days, were, "Damn the abolitionists!" and
"Damn the niggers!" There was nothing done, and
probably nothing would have been done if I had
been killed. Such was, and such remains, the state
of things in the Christian city of Baltimore.

Master Hugh, finding he could get no redress, re-
fused to let me go back again to Mr. Gardner. He
kept me himself, and his wife dressed my wound
till I was again restored to health. He then took me
into the ship-yard of which he was foreman, in the
employment of Mr. Walter Price. There I was im-
mediately set to calking, and very soon learned the
art of using my mallet and irons. In the course of
one year from the time I left Mr. Gardner's, I was
able to command the highest wages given to the
most experienced calkers. I was now of some impor-
tance 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 calk, I sought
my own employment, made my own contracts, and
collected the money which I earned. My pathway
became much more smooth than before; my condi-
tion was now much more comfortable. When I could
get no calking to do, I did nothing. During these
leisure times, those old notions about freedom would
steal over me again. When in Mr. Gardner's employ-
ment, I was kept in such a perpetual whirl of ex-
citement, I could think of nothing, scarcely, but
my life; and in thinking of my life, I almost forgot
my liberty. I have observed this in my experience
of slavery,--that whenever my condition was im-
proved, instead of its increasing my contentment,
it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to
thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found
that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to
make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his
moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to
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 getting, as I have said, one 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 night, I 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.


I now come to that part of my life during which I
planned, and finally succeeded in making, my escape
from slavery. But before narrating any of the pe-
culiar circumstances, I deem it proper to make
known my intention not to state all the facts con-
nected with the transaction. My reasons for pursuing
this course may be understood from the following:
First, were I to give a minute statement of all the
facts, it is not only possible, but quite probable, that
others would thereby be involved in the most embar-
rassing difficulties. Secondly, such a statement would
most undoubtedly induce greater vigilance on the
part of slaveholders than has existed heretofore
among them; which would, of course, be the means
of guarding a door whereby some dear brother bond-
man 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 nar-
rative, were I at liberty to gratify a curiosity, which
I know exists in the minds of many, by an accurate
statement of all the facts pertaining to my most
fortunate escape. But I must deprive myself of this
pleasure, and the curious of the gratification which
such a statement would afford. I would allow my-
self to suffer under the greatest imputations which
evil-minded men might suggest, rather than excul-
pate myself, and 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 think, by their open declarations, has been made
most emphatically the ~upperground railroad.~ I honor
those good men and women for their noble daring,
and applaud them for willingly subjecting them-
selves to bloody persecution, by openly avowing their
participation in the escape of slaves. I, however, can
see very little good resulting from such a course,
either to themselves or the slaves escaping; while,
upon the other hand, I see and feel assured that
those open declarations are a positive evil to the
slaves remaining, who are seeking to escape. They
do nothing towards enlightening the slave, whilst
they do much towards enlightening the master.
They stimulate him to greater watchfulness, and
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 freedom, we 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
tormentors, ever 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 takes, in 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 facts, connected with my
escape, for which I am alone responsible, and for
which no one can be made to suffer but myself.

In the early part of the year 1838, I became quite
restless. I could see no reason why I should, at the
end of each week, pour the reward of my toil into
the purse of my master. When I carried to him my
weekly wages, he would, after counting the money,
look me in the face with a robber-like fierceness,
and ask, "Is this all?" He was satisfied with nothing
less than the last cent. He would, however, when I
made him six dollars, sometimes give me six cents,
to encourage me. It had the opposite effect. I re-
garded it as a sort of admission of my right to the
whole. The fact that he gave me any part of my
wages was proof, to my mind, that 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; and, find-
ing no direct means, I determined to try to hire my
time, with a view of getting money with which to
make my escape. In the spring of 1838, when Master
Thomas came to Baltimore to purchase his spring
goods, I got an opportunity, and applied to him to
allow me to hire my time. He unhesitatingly refused
my request, and told me this was another stratagem
by which to escape. He told me I could go nowhere
but that he could get me; and that, in the event
of my running away, he should spare no pains in his
efforts to catch me. He exhorted me to content
myself, and be obedient. He told me, if I would
be happy, I must lay out no plans for the future.
He said, if I behaved myself properly, he would take
care of me. Indeed, he advised me to complete
thoughtlessness of the future, and taught me to de-
pend solely upon him for happiness. He seemed to
see fully the pressing necessity of setting aside my
intellectual nature, in order to contentment in
slavery. But in spite of him, and even in spite of
myself, I continued to think, and to think about
the injustice of my enslavement, and the means of

About two months after this, I applied to Master
Hugh for the privilege of hiring my time. He was
not acquainted with the fact that I had applied to
Master Thomas, and had been refused. He too, at
first, seemed disposed to refuse; but, after some re-
flection, he granted me the privilege, and proposed
the following terms: I was to be allowed all my
time, make all contracts with those for whom I
worked, and find my own employment; and, in re-
turn for this liberty, I 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 dol-
lars and a half per week. This, with the wear and
tear of clothing and calking tools, made my regular
expenses about six dollars per week. This amount
I was compelled to make up, or relinquish the
privilege of hiring my time. Rain or shine, work or
no work, at the end of each week the money must
be forthcoming, or I must give up my privilege. This
arrangement, it will be perceived, was 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 slave, and suffered
all the care and anxiety of a freeman. I found it a
hard bargain. But, hard as it was, I thought it better
than the old mode of getting along. It was a step
towards freedom to be allowed to bear the respon-
sibilities of a freeman, and 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 expenses, and 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 part, one Saturday night, to pay
him for my week's time. This failure was occasioned
by my attending a camp meeting about ten miles
from Baltimore. During the week, I 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 em-
ployer, 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-
ing, and 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 returned, I
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 it, I did not know that I
was bound to ask him when and where I should go.
This reply troubled him; and, after reflecting a few
moments, he turned to me, and said I should hire
my time no longer; that the next thing he should
know of, I would be running away. Upon the same
plea, he told me to bring my tools and clothing
home forthwith. I did so; but instead of seeking
work, as I had been accustomed to do previously to
hiring my time, I spent the whole week without
the performance of a single stroke of work. I did this
in retaliation. Saturday night, he 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 resolved, if
he laid the weight of his hand upon me, it should
be blow for blow. He did not strike me, but told me
that he would find me in constant employment in
future. I thought the matter over during the next day,
Sunday, and finally resolved upon the third day of
September, as 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 morning, before Master Hugh had
time to make any engagement for me, I went out
and got employment of Mr. Butler, at his ship-yard
near the drawbridge, upon what is called the City
Block, thus making it unnecessary for him to seek
employment for me. At the end of the week, I
brought him between eight and nine dollars. He
seemed very well pleased, and 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 admi-
rably. 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 passed, and again I carried him my full wages;
and so well pleased was he, that he gave me twenty-
five 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 con-
templated start drew near. I had a number of warm-
hearted 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 slavery, who now remain, but for the
strong cords of affection that bind them to their
friends. The thought of leaving my friends was de-
cidedly 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 separation, the dread and appre-
hension 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
that, if I failed in this attempt, my case would be
a hopeless one--it would seal my fate as a slave for-
ever. I could not hope to get off with any thing less
than the severest punishment, and 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 pass, in case
I failed. The wretchedness of slavery, and the
blessedness of freedom, were perpetually before me.
It was life and death with me. But I remained
firm, and, according to my resolution, on the third
day of September, 1838, I left my chains, and suc-
ceeded in reaching New York without the slightest
interruption of any kind. How I did so,--what means
I adopted,--what direction I travelled, and 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 my-
self. 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 friend, immediately after my
arrival at New York, I said I felt like one who had
escaped a den of hungry lions. This state of mind,
however, very soon subsided; and I was again seized
with a feeling of great insecurity and loneliness. I
was yet liable to be taken back, and subjected to
all the tortures of slavery. This in itself was enough
to damp the ardor of my enthusiasm. But the lone-
liness overcame me. There I was in the midst of
thousands, and yet a perfect stranger; without home
and without friends, in the midst of thousands of my
own brethren--children of a common Father, and
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 one, and thereby fall-
ing into the hands of money-loving kidnappers,
whose business it was to lie in wait for the panting
fugitive, as 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 enemy, and in
almost every colored man cause for distrust. It was
a most painful situation; and, to understand it, one
must needs experience it, or imagine himself in
similar circumstances. Let him be a fugitive slave in
a strange land--a land given up to be the hunting-
ground for slaveholders--whose inhabitants are legal-
ized kidnappers--where he is every moment sub-
jected to the terrible liability of being seized upon
by his fellowmen, as the hideous crocodile seizes
upon his prey!--I say, let him place himself in my
situation--without home or friends--without money
or credit--wanting shelter, and no one to give it--
wanting bread, and no money to buy it,--and at the
same time let him feel that he is pursued by merci-
less men-hunters, and in total darkness as to what
to do, where to go, or where to stay,--perfectly help-
less both as to the means of defence and means of
escape,--in the midst of plenty, yet suffering the ter-
rible gnawings of hunger,--in the midst of houses,
yet having no home,--among fellow-men, yet feeling
as if in the midst of wild beasts, whose greediness
to swallow up the trembling and half-famished fugi-
tive is only equalled by that with which the monsters
of the deep swallow up the helpless fish upon which
they subsist,--I say, let him be placed in this most
trying situation,--the situation in which I was placed,
--then, and not till then, will he fully appreciate the
hardships of, and know how to sympathize with, the
toil-worn and whip-scarred fugitive slave.

Thank Heaven, I remained but a short time in
this distressed situation. I was relieved from it by the
humane hand of Mr. DAVID RUGGLES, whose vigi-
lance, kindness, and perseverance, I shall never for-
get. I am glad of an opportunity to express, as far as
words can, the love and gratitude I bear him. Mr.
Ruggles is now afflicted with blindness, and is him-
self 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 days, when Mr.
Ruggles sought me out, and 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~ case, as well as at-
tending to a number of other fugitive slaves, devis-
ing ways and means for their successful escape; and,
though watched and hemmed in on almost every
side, he seemed to be more than a match for his

Very soon after I went to Mr. Ruggles, he 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 calker, and should like to go where I could
get work. I thought of going to Canada; but he de-
cided against it, and in favor of my going to New
Bedford, thinking I should be able to get work there
at my trade. At this time, Anna,* my intended wife,
came on; for I wrote to her immediately after my
arrival at New York, (notwithstanding my homeless,
houseless, and helpless condition,) informing her of
my successful flight, and wishing her to come on
forthwith. In a few days after her arrival, Mr. Rug-
gles called in the Rev. J. W. C. Pennington, who, in
the presence of Mr. Ruggles, Mrs. Michaels, and
two or three others, performed the marriage cere-
mony, and gave us a certificate, of which the fol-
lowing 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.


"NEW YORK, SEPT. 15, 1838"

Upon receiving this certificate, and a five-dollar
bill from Mr. Ruggles, I shouldered one part of our
baggage, and Anna took up the other, and we set
out forthwith to take passage on board of the steam-
boat John W. Richmond for Newport, on our way
to New Bedford. Mr. Ruggles gave me a letter to a
Mr. Shaw in Newport, and told me, in case my
money did not serve me to New Bedford, to 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 Newport, we were so anxious to get to a
place of safety, that, notwithstanding we lacked the
necessary money to pay our fare, we decided to take
seats in the stage, and promise to pay when we got
to New Bedford. We were encouraged to do this by
two excellent gentlemen, residents of New Bedford,
whose names I afterward ascertained to be Joseph
Ricketson and William C. Taber. They seemed at
once to understand our circumstances, and gave us
such assurance of their friendliness as put us fully
at ease in their presence. It was good indeed to meet
with such friends, at such a time. Upon reaching
New Bedford, we were directed to the house of Mr.
Nathan Johnson, by whom we were kindly received,
and hospitably provided for. Both Mr. and Mrs.
Johnson took a deep and lively interest in our wel-
fare. They proved themselves quite worthy of the
name of abolitionists. When the stage-driver found
us unable to pay our fare, he held on upon our bag-
gage as security for the debt. I had but to mention
the fact to Mr. Johnson, and he forthwith advanced
the money.

We now began to feel a degree of safety, and to
prepare ourselves for the duties and responsibilities
of a life of freedom. On the morning after our ar-
rival at New Bedford, while 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." I, how-
ever, 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 York, I again changed my name to "Fred-
erick 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 that, to 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 others, I shall continue to use it as my own.

I was quite disappointed at the general appear-
ance of things in New Bedford. The impression
which I had received respecting the character and
condition of the people of the north, I found to be
singularly erroneous. I had very strangely supposed,
while in slavery, that few of the comforts, and
scarcely any of the luxuries, of life were enjoyed at
the north, compared 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 poor, and I had
been accustomed to regard their poverty as the nec-
essary consequence of their being non-slaveholders.
I had somehow imbibed the opinion that, in the
absence of slaves, there could be no wealth, and very
little refinement. And upon coming to the north, I
expected to meet with a rough, hard-handed, and
uncultivated population, living in the most Spartan-
like simplicity, knowing nothing of the ease, luxury,
pomp, and grandeur of southern slaveholders. Such
being my conjectures, any 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
Bedford, I visited the wharves, to take a view of the
shipping. Here I found myself surrounded with the
strongest proofs of wealth. Lying at the wharves, and
riding in the stream, I saw many ships of the finest
model, in the best order, and of the largest size.
Upon the right and left, I was walled in by granite
warehouses of the widest dimensions, stowed to their
utmost capacity with the necessaries and comforts
of life. Added to this, almost every body seemed to
be at work, but noiselessly so, compared 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 ap-
peared to understand his work, and went at it with
a sober, yet cheerful earnestness, which 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 town, gazing with won-
der and admiration at the splendid churches, beauti-
ful dwellings, and finely-cultivated gardens; evincing
an amount of wealth, comfort, taste, and refinement,
such as I had never seen in any part of slaveholding

Every thing looked clean, new, and beautiful. I
saw few or no dilapidated houses, with poverty-
stricken inmates; no half-naked children and bare-
footed women, such as I had been accustomed to see
in Hillsborough, Easton, St. Michael's, and Balti-
more. The people looked more able, stronger, health-
ier, and happier, than those of Maryland. I was for
once made glad by a view of extreme wealth, without
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 people, a
great many of whom, like myself, had escaped
thither as a refuge from the hunters of men. I found
many, who had not been seven years out of their
chains, living in finer houses, and evidently enjoying
more of the comforts of life, than 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 heart, "I 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; took, paid
for, and read, more newspapers; better understood
the moral, religious, and political character of the
nation,--than nine tenths of the slaveholders in Tal-
bot county Maryland. Yet Mr. Johnson was a work-
ing man. His hands were hardened by toil, and not
his alone, but those also of Mrs. Johnson. I found the
colored people much more spirited than I had sup-
posed they would be. I found among them a deter-
mination to protect each other from the blood-thirsty
kidnapper, at all hazards. Soon after my arrival, I
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 where-
abouts. Straightway a meeting was called among the
colored people, under the stereotyped notice, "Busi-
ness of importance!" The betrayer was invited to at-
tend. The people came at the appointed hour, and
organized the meeting by appointing a very religious
old gentleman as president, who, I believe, made a
prayer, after which he addressed the meeting as fol-
lows: "~Friends, we have got him here, and I would
recommend that you young men just take him out-
side the door, and kill him!~" With this, a number
of them bolted at him; but they were intercepted
by some more timid than themselves, and the be-
trayer escaped their vengeance, and has not been
seen in New Bedford since. I believe there have
been no more such threats, and should there be here-
after, I doubt not that death would be the conse-

I found employment, the third day after my ar-
rival, in stowing a sloop with a load of oil. It was
new, dirty, and 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 moment, the rapture of
which can be understood only by those who have
been slaves. It was the first work, the reward of
which was to be entirely my own. There was no Mas-
ter Hugh standing ready, the moment I earned the
money, to 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 job, I went in pursuit of a job of
calking; but such was the strength of prejudice
against color, among the white calkers, that they re-
fused to work with me, and of course I could get no
employment.* Finding my trade of no immediate
benefit, I threw off my calking habiliments, and pre-
pared myself to do any kind of work I could get to
do. Mr. Johnson kindly let me have his wood-horse
and saw, and I very soon found myself a plenty of
work. There was no work too hard--none too dirty.
I was ready to saw wood, shovel coal, carry wood,
sweep the chimney, or 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 Bedford, before I
became known to the anti-slavery world.

In about four months after I went to New Bed-
ford, there came a young man to me, and inquired
if I did not wish to take the "Liberator." I told him
I did; but, just having made my escape from slavery,
I remarked that I was unable to pay for it then. I,
however, finally became a subscriber to it. The paper
came, and 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 institu-
tion--sent a thrill of joy through my soul, such 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 sel-
dom 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 la-
bors to decide.


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 possi-
bly lead those unacquainted with my religious views
to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To re-
move 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 Christi-
anity 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 re-
ject 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 impar-
tial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the cor-
rupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plunder-
ing, 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 contem-
plate the religious pomp and show, together with the
horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround
me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-
whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for
church members. The man who wields the blood-
clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on
Sunday, and 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 morning, to show me the way of life,
and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister,
for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pi-
ous advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a re-
ligious 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 influence, and leaves
them to the ravages of wholesale pollution. The
warm defender of the sacredness of the family re-
lation is the same that scatters whole families,--sun-
dering husbands and wives, parents and children,
sisters and brothers,--leaving the hut vacant, and the
hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against
theft, and the adulterer against adultery. We have
men sold to build churches, women sold to support
the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for
GOOD OF SOULS! The slave auctioneer's bell and the
church-going bell chime in with each other, and 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 prison, and the pious
psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be
heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies
and souls of men erect their stand in the presence
of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other.
The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support
the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his in-
fernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here
we have religion and robbery the allies of each other
--devils dressed in angels' robes, and 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! preach, and kidnap men?
Give thanks, and rob thy own afflicted poor?
Talk of thy glorious liberty, and 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 rulers, as of old, combine!
Just God and holy! is that church which lends
Strength to the spoiler thine?"

The Christianity of America is a Christianity, of
whose votaries it may be as truly said, as it was of
the ancient scribes and Pharisees, "They 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 upper-
most rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the syna-
gogues, . . . . . . 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 dam-
nation. Ye compass sea and land to make one prose-
lyte, 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 omit-
ted 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 picture, I hold it to be
strictly true of the overwhelming mass of professed
Christians in America. They strain at a gnat, and
swallow a camel. Could any thing be more true of
our churches? They would be shocked at the propo-
sition of fellowshipping a SHEEP-stealer; and at the
same time they hug to their communion a MAN-
stealer, and brand me with being an infidel, if I
find fault with them for it. They attend with Phari-
saical strictness to the outward forms of religion, and
at the same time neglect the weightier matters of
the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. They are al-
ways ready to sacrifice, but seldom to show mercy.
They are they who are represented as professing to
love God whom they have not seen, whilst they hate
their brother whom they have seen. They love the
heathen on the other side of the globe. They can
pray for him, pay money to have the Bible put into
his hand, and missionaries to instruct him; while
they despise and totally neglect the heathen at their
own doors.

Such is, very briefly, my view of the religion of
this land; and to avoid any misunderstanding, grow-
ing out of the use of general terms, I mean by the
religion of this land, that which is revealed in the
words, deeds, and actions, of those bodies, north and
south, calling themselves Christian churches, and yet
in union with slaveholders. It is against religion, as
presented by these bodies, that I have felt it my
duty to testify.

I conclude these remarks by copying the following
portrait of the religion of the south, (which is, by
communion and fellowship, the 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 north-
ern Methodist preacher, who, while residing at the
south, had an opportunity to see slaveholding mor-
als, 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?"


"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 baa, dona like goats,
Gorge down black sheep, and strain at motes,
Array their backs in fine black coats,
Then seize their negroes by their throats,
And choke, for 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 scold, and 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 roar, and scold, and whip, and 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 ass, of 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 eye, and shook his head;
He seized on Tom, and Dick, and Ned,
Cut short their meat, and clothes, and 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 system, and hastening the glad day
of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in
bonds--faithfully relying upon the power of truth,
love, and justice, for success in my humble efforts
--and solemnly pledging my self anew to the sacred
cause,--I subscribe myself,

LYNN, ~Mass., April~ 28, 1845.


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