“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
― Abraham Lincoln.
Recollections of life on a plantation, a thrilling slave escape story, Fifty Years in Chains by Charles Ball, a famous essay on Slavery and Abolitionism, a survey of ‘Christian slavery’ and The Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chestnut – it’s all here and more in Slave Narrative Six Pack 5.
Fifty Years in Chains; or, the Life of an American Slave by Charles Ball.
Cordelia Loney’s Escape by William Still.
An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism by Catharine Esther Beecher.
The Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chesnutt.
Old Plantation Days: Being Recollections of Southern Life Before the Civil War by N. B. De Saussure.
American Scenes, and Christian Slavery - A Recent Tour of Four Thousand Miles in the United States by Ebenezer Davies.
Includes image gallery.
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SLAVE NARRATIVE SIX PACK 5
Catharine Esther Beecher
Charles W. Chesnutt
Nancy Bostick De Saussure
Slave Narrative Six Pack 5
Fifty Years in Chains; or, the Life of an American Slave by Charles Ball. First published in 1858.
Cordelia Loney’s Escape by William Still. From The Underground Railroad by William Still. First published in 1872.
An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism by Catharine Esther Beecher. First published in 1837.
The Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chesnutt. First published in 1901.
Old Plantation Days: Being Recollections of Southern Life Before the Civil War by Nancy Bostick De Saussure. First published in 1909.
American Scenes, and Christian Slavery - A Recent Tour of Four Thousand Miles in the United States by Ebenezer Davies. First published in 1849.
Printed in the United States of America.
First printing, 2016.
Enhanced Media Publishing.
Published by Enhanced Media. 2016.
Fifty Years in Chains Or, the Life of an American Slave
By Charles Ball
A Slave Girl’s Narrative
By William Still
Cordelia Loney, slave of Mrs. Joseph Cahell (widow of the late hon. Joseph Cahell, of Va.), of Fredericksburg, Va.—Cordelia's escape from her mistress in Philadelphia.
An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism
By Catharine E. Beecher
The Marrow of Tradition
By Charles W. Chesnutt
I - AT BREAK OF DAY
II - THE CHRISTENING PARTY
III - THE EDITOR AT WORK
IV - THEODORE FELIX
V - A JOURNEY SOUTHWARD
VI - JANET
VII - THE OPERATION
VIII - THE CAMPAIGN DRAGS
IX - A WHITE MAN'S "NIGGER"
X - DELAMERE PLAYS A TRUMP
XI - THE BABY AND THE BIRD
XII - ANOTHER SOUTHERN PRODUCT
XIII - THE CAKEWALK
XIV - THE MAUNDERINGS OF OLD MRS. OCHILTREE
XV - MRS. CARTERET SEEKS AN EXPLANATION
XVI - ELLIS TAKES A TRICK
XVII - THE SOCIAL ASPIRATIONS OF CAPTAIN McBANE
XVIII - SANDY SEES HIS OWN HA'NT
XIX - A MIDNIGHT WALK
XX - A SHOCKING CRIME
XXI - THE NECESSITY OF AN EXAMPLE
XXII - HOW NOT TO PREVENT A LYNCHING
XXIII - BELLEVIEW
XXIV - TWO SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN
XXV - THE HONOR OF A FAMILY
XXVI - THE DISCOMFORT OF ELLIS
XXVII - THE VAGARIES OF THE HIGHER LAW
XXVIII - IN SEASON AND OUT
XXIX - MUTTERINGS OF THE STORM
XXX - THE MISSING PAPERS
XXXI - THE SHADOW OF A DREAM
XXXII - THE STORM BREAKS
XXXIII - INTO THE LION'S JAWS
XXXIV - THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW
XXXV - "MINE ENEMY, O MINE ENEMY!"
XXXVI - FIAT JUSTITIA
XXXVII - THE SISTERS
OLD PLANTATION DAYS
Being Recollections of Southern Life Before the Civil War
By Nancy Bostick De Saussure
American Scenes, and Christian Slavery
A Recent Tour of Four Thousand Miles in the United States
By Ebenezer Davies
Occasion of Visit to the United States—First Impressions of the Mississippi—Magnitude of that River—Impediment at its Entrance—The New Harbour—The "Great" and "Fat" Valley—High-Pressure Steam-Tug Frolics—Slave-Auction Facetiae.
American Oysters—Becalmed in the Mississippi—Anchor raised—Ship ashore—Taken off by a Steam-Tug—Slave-Sale Advertisements—Runaway Negroes—Return of Fever—Terrific Storm—Frightful Position—Ashore at New Orleans—A Ship-Chandler's Store—American Wheels—A Joltification—The St. Charles's Hotel.
New Orleans—The Story of Pauline—Adieu to the St. Charles's—Description of that Establishment—First Sight of Slaves for Sale—Texts for Southern Divines—Perilous Picture.
A Sabbath in New Orleans—The First Presbyterian Church—Expectoration—A Negro Pew—The Sermon.
First Religious Service in America (continued)—A Collection "taken up"—Rush out—Evening Service—Sketch of the Sermon—Profanation of the Sabbath—The Monthly Concert for Prayer.
"Jack Jones"—A Public Meeting for Ireland—Henry Clay—Other Speakers—American Feeling in reference to the Irish Famine—A Slave-Auction.
The Slave-Auction (continued)—"A Fine Young Woman"—A Man and his Wife—Jim, the Blacksmith—A Family—A Ploughboy—Cornelia—Another Jim—Tom, the House-Boy—Edmund—Tom, and "his reserved rights"—A Carriage Driver—Margaret and her Child.
St. Louis Exchange—Inspection of Human Chattels—Artizan Slaves—Scenes and Proceedings of the Auction—Sale of the Men.
Sale of Women—Second Sabbath in New Orleans—Cricket in front of the Presbyterian "Church"—The Baptist "Church"—A Peep at an American Sabbath-School—Proceedings in "Church"—A Sermon on "The New Birth"—Nut-cracking during Sermon—"Close Communion."
Interview with a Baptist Minister—Conversation with a Young Man in the Baptist Church—The Presbyterian Church, and Dr. Scott again—A Peep at the House of Representatives of Louisiana—Contrast between the French and the Americans in the Treatment of their Slaves—Dinner Table in New Orleans—American Manners.
Farewell to New Orleans—Revolting Bargain—"The Anglo Saxon" Steam-boat—Moderate Fare—Steam Navigation of the Mississippi—Steam boat and Railway Literature—Parting View of the "Crescent City"—Slave Advertisements—Baton Rouge—A Sugar Estate—Fellow-Passengers—The Ladies' Cabin—A Baptist Minister—A Reverend Slave-holder.
Voyage up the Mississippi (continued)—"Patriarchal" Establishments—The Red River—Elder Wright—Lynch-Law administered by a Preacher—Natchez —Story of Mary Brown—The Flat Boats of the Mississippi.
Voyage up the Mississippi (continued)—Grand Gulph and Big Black River—Snags—"I belong to myself, Sir"—Vicksburg and Lynch Law—A Man Overboard—"Drove of Horses, Mules, and Niggers"—Character of Fellow-Passengers—The Sabbath—Disobedience to Conscience.
Voyage up the Mississippi (continued)—The Arkansas—Treatment of the Indians—M. de Tocqueville—"Napoleon" and Lynch Law—Memphis, and its Advertisements—A Scene witnessed there—The Ohio—Nashville, and Amos Dresser.
Voyage up the Ohio (continued)—Illinois—Evansville—Owensborough —Indiana—New Albany—Louisville, and its Cruel Histories—The Grave of President Harrison—Arrival in Cincinnati—First Impressions—The Congregational Minister—A Welsh Service.
Stay at Cincinnati (continued)—Close of the Welsh Service—The Governor of Ohio and his Relatives—The "Black Laws"—Governor Bebb's Hostility to them—Dr. Weed and American Versatility—Private Lodgings—Introduction to Dr. Beecher and others—A Peep at a Democratic Meeting.
Stay at Cincinnati (continued)—The Democratic Meeting—A Visit to Lane Seminary—"Public Declamation"—Poem on War—Essay on Education.
Visit to Lane Seminary (continued)—Dr. Beecher and his Gun—The College Library—Dr. Stowe and his Hebrew Class—History of Lane Seminary—Qualifications for Admission—The Curriculum—Manual Labour—Expenses of Education—Results—Equality of Professors and Students.
A Sabbath at Cincinnati—The Second Presbyterian Church—Mutilation of a Popular Hymn—The Rushing Habit—A wrong "Guess"—A German Sunday-School—Visit to a Church of Coloured People—Engagement at the Welsh "Church"—Monthly Concert—The Medical College of Ohio—Tea at the House of a Coloured Minister.
Stay at Cincinnati (continued)—The New Roman Catholic Cathedral—The Rev. C. B. Boynton and Congregationalism—"The Herald of a New Era"—American Nationality.
Stay at Cincinnati (continued)—The Orphan Asylum—A Coloured Man and a White Fop treated as each deserved—A Trip across to Covington—Mr. Gilmore and the School for Coloured Children—"The Fugitive Slave to the Christian"—Sabbath—Mr. Boynton—Dr. Beecher—Lane Seminary—Departure from Cincinnati.
Cincinnati—Its History and Progress—Its Trade and Commerce—Its Periodical Press—Its Church Accommodation—Its Future Prospects —Steaming up the Ohio—Contrast between Freedom and Slavery—An Indian Mound—Splendid Scenery—Coal Hills.
Arrival at Pittsburg—Its Trade and Prospects—Temperance—Newspapers—Trip up the Monongahela to Brownsville—Staging by Night across the Alleghany Mountains—Arrival at Cumberland—The Railway Carriages of America.
Journey by Railroad from Cumberland to Baltimore—A Tedious Stoppage —A Sabbath in Baltimore—Fruitless Inquiry—A Presbyterian Church and Dr. Plummer—Richmond and its Resolutions—Dr Plummer's Pro slavery Manifesto—The Methodist Episcopal Church.
A Sabbath at Baltimore (continued)—A Coloured Congregation—The Thought of seeing Washington abandoned—Departure from Baltimore —Coloured Ladies in the Luggage-Van—American Railways—Chesapeak Bay—Susquehannah—State of Delaware, and Abolition of Slavery —Philadelphia—Albert Barnes—Stephen Girard's Extraordinary Will.
Departure from Philadelphia—A Communicative Yankee—Trenton—The Mansion of Joseph Bonaparte—Scenes of Brainerd's Labours One Hundred Years ago—First Impressions of New York—150, Nassau-street—Private Lodgings—Literary Society—American Lodging-houses—A Lecture on Astronomy—The "Negro Pew" in Dr. Patton's Church.
A Presbyterian Church in New York, and its Pastor—The Abbotts and their Institution—Union Theological Seminary—Dr. Skinner's Church—New York University—A threatening "Necessity"—Prejudice against Colour—A Fact connected with Mr. ———'s Church—Another Fact in Pennsylvania—State of Public Opinion in New York—An Interview with Dr. Spring—A Missionary Meeting in Dr. Adams's Church.
A Visit to Mount Vernon—Dr. Robinson—Welsh Deputation—Queen Anne and New York—The Sabbath—Preaching at Dr. L's—Afternoon Service at Mr. C——'s—Tea at Dr. L——'s—Evening Service at Mr.——'s.
The Rev. Theodore Sedgwick Wright—His Testimony against Caste—His Funeral—Drs. Cox and Patton—The Service in the House—The Procession—The Church—The Funeral Oration—Mrs. Wright.
Trip to New Haven—Captain Stone and his Tender Feeling—Arrival in New Haven—A Call from Dr. Bacon and the Rev. Mr. Dutton—Newspapers—The Centre Church and Standing Order—The North Church and Jonathan Edwards, junior.
The Spot on which Whitfield preached—Judge Daggett—Governor Yale—Yale College—The Libraries—Elliot's Indian Bible—Geological Museum—Dr. Goodrich—Education and Expenses at Yale College—The Graves of the Regicides.
A Fast-Day—Political Sermons—A Church of Coloured People—The Sabbath—Morning Service—Afternoon ditto and Dr. Hawes—Prayers at College Chapel—United Service in North Church—The Cemetery—The "Fathers"—Professor Gibbs—Annual Election—Statistics—Arrival at Hartford—Mr. Hosmer—Chief Justice—Deaf and Dumb—Charter Oak.
The "Retreat"—Introductions to the Insane—Piety and Profanity —Service in the Fourth Church—Memorials of the Pilgrims—Dr. Bushnell and his Opinions—The Mother Church and its Burying-Ground—The New Cemetery—Prejudice against Colour—Mrs. Sigourney—Departure from Hartford—Worcester and Elihu Burritt—Boston—The Rev. Seth Bliss—The Cradle of Liberty—Mr. Garrison—Bunker's Hill.
Boston (continued)—The Old South—Unitarianism, and Connection between Church and State—A Welsh Service in an "Upper Room"—Laura Bridgman and the Wedding Ring—Oliver Caswell—Departure from Boston—John Todd and his Family—His Congregationalism—Albany and the Delevan House—Journey to Utica—Remsen and the Welsh People—Dogs made to churn, and Horses to saw Wood.
A Peep at the House of Representatives in Albany—"The Chair is but a Man," &c.—Sailing down the Hudson—Dr. Spring—His Morning Sermon—Afternoon Service—Gough the great Lecturer—The Tract House and Steam-presses—May-day in New York—Staten Island—Immigrants—A hurried Glance.
The May Meetings—Dr. Bushnell's Striking Sermon—Two Anti-Slavery Meetings—A Black Demosthenes—Foreign Evangelical Society—A New Thing in the New World—The Home-Missionary Society—Progress and Prospects of the West—Church of Rome—Departure from New York—What the Author thinks of the Americans.
Slavery—Responsibility of the North—District of Columbia—Preponderance of the Slave Power—Extermination of the Indians—President Taylor and his Blood-hounds—Conclusion.
"My God! can such things be?
Hast Thou not said that whatsoe'er is done
Unto thy weakest and thy humblest one,
Is even done to Thee?"—Whittier.
SEPARATED FROM MY MOTHER
My story is a true one, and I shall tell it in a simple style. It will be merely a recital of my life as a slave in the Southern States of the Union—a description of negro slavery in the "model Republic."
My grandfather was brought from Africa and sold as a slave in Calvert county, in Maryland. I never understood the name of the ship in which he was imported, nor the name of the planter who bought him on his arrival, but at the time I knew him he was a slave in a family called Maud, who resided near Leonardtown. My father was a slave in a family named Hauty, living near the same place. My mother was the slave of a tobacco planter, who died when I was about four years old. My mother had several children, and they were sold upon master's death to separate purchasers. She was sold, my father told me, to a Georgia trader. I, of all her children, was the only one left in Maryland. When sold I was naked, never having had on clothes in my life, but my new master gave me a child's frock, belonging to one of his own children. After he had purchased me, he dressed me in this garment, took me before him on his horse, and started home; but my poor mother, when she saw me leaving her for the last time, ran after me, took me down from the horse, clasped me in her arms, and wept loudly and bitterly over me. My master seemed to pity her, and endeavored to soothe her distress by telling her that he would be a good master to me, and that I should not want anything. She then, still holding me in her arms, walked along the road beside the horse as he moved slowly, and earnestly and imploringly besought my master to buy her and the rest of her children, and not permit them to be carried away by the negro buyers; but whilst thus entreating him to save her and her family, the slave-driver, who had first bought her, came running in pursuit of her with a raw-hide in his hand. When he overtook us, he told her he was her master now, and ordered her to give that little negro to its owner, and come back with him.
My mother then turned to him and cried, "Oh, master, do not take me from my child!" Without making any reply, he gave her two or three heavy blows on the shoulders with his raw-hide, snatched me from her arms, handed me to my master, and seizing her by one arm, dragged her back towards the place of sale. My master then quickened the pace of his horse; and as we advanced, the cries of my poor parent became more and more indistinct—at length they died away in the distance, and I never again heard the voice of my poor mother. Young as I was, the horrors of that day sank deeply into my heart, and even at this time, though half a century has elapsed, the terrors of the scene return with painful vividness upon my memory. Frightened at the sight of the cruelties inflicted upon my poor mother, I forgot my own sorrows at parting from her and clung to my new master, as an angel and a saviour, when compared with the hardened fiend into whose power she had fallen. She had been a kind and good mother to me; had warmed me in her bosom in the cold nights of winter; and had often divided the scanty pittance of food allowed her by her mistress, between my brothers, and sisters, and me, and gone supperless to bed herself. Whatever victuals she could obtain beyond the coarse food, salt fish and corn bread, allowed to slaves on the Patuxent and Potomac rivers, she carefully distributed among her children, and treated us with all the tenderness which her own miserable condition would permit. I have no doubt that she was chained and driven to Carolina, and toiled out the residue of a forlorn and famished existence in the rice swamps, or indigo fields of the South.
My father never recovered from the effects of the shock, which this sudden and overwhelming ruin of his family gave him. He had formerly been of a gay, social temper, and when he came to see us on a Saturday night, he always brought us some little present, such as the means of a poor slave would allow—apples, melons, sweet potatoes, or, if he could procure nothing else, a little parched corn, which tasted better in our cabin, because he had brought it.
He spent the greater part of the time, which his master permitted him to pass with us, in relating such stories as he had learned from his companions, or in singing the rude songs common amongst the slaves of Maryland and Virginia. After this time I never heard him laugh heartily, or sing a song. He became gloomy and morose in his temper, to all but me; and spent nearly all his leisure time with my grandfather, who claimed kindred with some royal family in Africa, and had been a great warrior in his native country. The master of my father was a hard, penurious man, and so exceedingly avaricious, that he scarcely allowed himself the common conveniences of life. A stranger to sensibility, he was incapable of tracing the change in the temper and deportment of my father, to its true cause; but attributed it to a sullen discontent with his condition as a slave, and a desire to abandon his service, and seek his liberty by escaping to some of the free States. To prevent the perpetration of this suspected crime of running away from slavery, the old man resolved to sell my father to a southern slave-dealer, and accordingly applied to one of those men, who was at that time in Calvert, to become the purchaser. The price was agreed on, but, as my father was a very strong, active, and resolute man, it was deemed unsafe for the Georgian to attempt to seize him, even with the aid of others, in the day-time, when he was at work, as it was known he carried upon his person a large knife. It was therefore determined to secure him by stratagem, and for this purpose, a farmer in the neighborhood, who was made privy to the plan, alleged that he had lost a pig, which must have been stolen by some one, and that he suspected my father to be the thief. A constable was employed to arrest him, but as he was afraid to undertake the business alone, he called on his way, at the house of the master of my grandfather, to procure assistance from the overseer of the plantation. When he arrived at the house, the overseer was at the barn, and thither he repaired to make his application. At the end of the barn was the coach-house, and as the day was cool, to avoid the wind which was high, the two walked to the side of the coach-house to talk over the matter, and settle their plan of operations. It so happened that my grandfather, whose business it was to keep the coach in good condition, was at work at this time, rubbing the plated handles of the doors, and brightening the other metallic parts of the vehicle. Hearing the voice of the overseer without, he suspended his work, and listening attentively, became a party to their councils. They agreed that they would delay the execution of their project until the next day, as it was then late. They supposed they would have no difficulty in apprehending their intended victim, as, knowing himself innocent of the theft, he would readily consent to go with the constable to a justice of the peace, to have the charge examined. That night, however, about midnight, my grandfather silently repaired to the cabin of my father, a distance of about three miles, aroused him from his sleep, made him acquainted with the extent of his danger, gave him a bottle of cider and a small bag of parched corn, and then enjoined him to fly from the destination which awaited him. In the morning the Georgian could not find his newly purchased slave, who was never seen or heard of in Maryland from that day.
After the flight of my father, my grandfather was the only person left in Maryland with whom I could claim kindred. He was an old man, nearly eighty years old, he said, and he manifested all the fondness for me that I could expect from one so old. He was feeble, and his master required but little work from him. He always expressed contempt for his fellow-slaves, for when young, he was an African of rank in his native land. He had a small cabin of his own, with half an acre of ground attached to it, which he cultivated on his own account, and from which he drew a large share of his sustenance. He had singular religious notions—never going to meeting or caring for the preachers he could, if he would, occasionally hear. He retained his native traditions respecting the Deity and hereafter. It is not strange that he believed the religion of his oppressors to be the invention of designing men, for the text oftenest quoted in his hearing was, "Servants, be obedient to your masters."
The name of the man who purchased me at the vendue, and became my master, was John Cox; but he was generally called Jack Cox. He was a man of kindly feelings towards his family, and treated his slaves, of whom he had several besides me, with humanity. He permitted my grandfather to visit me as often as he pleased, and allowed him sometimes to carry me to his own cabin, which stood in a lonely place, at the head of a deep hollow, almost surrounded by a thicket of cedar trees, which had grown up in a worn out and abandoned tobacco field. My master gave me better clothes than the little slaves of my age generally received in Calvert, and often told me that he intended to make me his waiter, and that if I behaved well I should become his overseer in time. These stations of waiter and overseer appeared to me to be the highest points of honor and greatness in the whole world, and had not circumstances frustrated my master's plans, as well as my own views, I should probably have been living at this time in a cabin on the corner of some tobacco plantation.
Fortune had decreed otherwise. When I was about twelve years old, my master, Jack Cox, died of a disease which had long confined him to the house. I was sorry for the death of my master, who had always been kind to me; and I soon discovered that I had good cause to regret his departure from this world. He had several children at the time of his death, who were all young; the oldest being about my own age. The father of my late master, who was still living, became administrator of his estate, and took possession of his property, and amongst the rest, of myself. This old gentleman treated me with the greatest severity, and compelled me to work very hard on his plantation for several years, until I suppose I must have been near or quite twenty years of age. As I was always very obedient, and ready to execute all his orders, I did not receive much whipping, but suffered greatly for want of sufficient and proper food. My master allowed his slaves a peck of corn, each, per week, throughout the year; and this we had to grind into meal in a hand-mill for ourselves. We had a tolerable supply of meat for a short time, about the month of December, when he killed his hogs. After that season we had meat once a week, unless bacon became scarce, which very often happened, in which case we had no meat at all. However, as we fortunately lived near both the Patuxent river and the Chesapeake Bay, we had abundance of fish in the spring, and as long as the fishing season continued. After that period, each slave received, in addition to his allowance of corn, one salt herring every day.
My master gave me one pair of shoes, one pair of stockings, one hat, one jacket of coarse cloth, two coarse shirts, and two pair of trowsers, yearly. He allowed me no other clothes. In the winter time I often suffered very much from the cold; as I had to drive the team of oxen which hauled the tobacco to market, and frequently did not get home until late at night, the distance being considerable, and my cattle traveled very slow.
One Saturday evening, when I came home from the corn field, my master told me that he had hired me out for a year at the city of Washington, and that I would have to live at the Navy Yard.
On the New Year's day following, which happened about two weeks afterwards, my master set forward for Washington, on horseback, and ordered me to accompany him on foot. It was night when we arrived at the Navy Yard, and everything appeared very strange to me.
I was told by a gentleman who had epaulets on his shoulders, that I must go on board a large ship, which lay in the river. He at the same time told a boy to show me the way. This ship proved to be a frigate, and I was told that I had been brought there to cook for the people belonging to her. In the course of a few days the duties of my station became quite familiar to me; and in the enjoyment of a profusion of excellent provisions, I felt very happy. I strove by all means to please the officers and gentlemen who came on board, and in this I soon found my account. One gave me a half-worn coat, another an old shirt, and a third, a cast off waistcoat and pantaloons. Some presented me with small sums of money, and in this way I soon found myself well clothed, and with more than a dollar in my pocket. My duties, though constant, were not burthensome, and I was permitted to spend Sunday afternoon in my own way. I generally went up into the city to see the new and splendid buildings; often walked as far as Georgetown, and made many new acquaintances among the slaves, and frequently saw large numbers of people of my color chained together in long trains, and driven off towards the South. At that time the slave-trade was not regarded with so much indignation and disgust, as it is now. It was a rare thing to hear of a person of color running away, and escaping altogether from his master: my father being the only one within my knowledge, who had, before this time, obtained his liberty in this manner, in Calvert county; and, as before stated, I never heard what became of him after his flight.
I remained on board the frigate, and about the Navy Yard, two years, and was quite satisfied with my lot, until about three months before the expiration of this period, when it so happened that a schooner, loaded with iron and other materials for the use of the yard, arrived from Philadelphia. She came and lay close by the frigate, to discharge her cargo, and amongst her crew I observed a black man, with whom, in the course of a day or two, I became acquainted. He told me he was free, and lived in Philadelphia, where he kept a house of entertainment for sailors, which, he said, was attended to in his absence by his wife.
His description of Philadelphia, and of the liberty enjoyed there by the black people, so charmed my imagination that I determined to devise some plan of escaping from the frigate, and making my way to the North. I communicated my designs to my new friend, who promised to give me his aid. We agreed that the night before the schooner should sail, I was to be concealed in the hold, amongst a parcel of loose tobacco, which, he said, the captain had undertaken to carry to Philadelphia. The sailing of the schooner was delayed longer than we expected; and, finally, her captain purchased a cargo of flour in Georgetown, and sailed for the West Indies. Whilst I was anxiously awaiting some other opportunity of making my way to Philadelphia, (the idea of crossing the country to the western part of Pennsylvania, never entered my mind,) New Year's day came, and with it came my old master from Calvert, accompanied by a gentleman named Gibson, to whom, he said, he had sold me, and to whom he delivered me over in the Navy Yard. We all three set out that same evening for Calvert, and reached the residence of my new master the next day. Here, I was informed, that I had become the subject of a law-suit. My new master claimed me under his purchase from old Mr. Cox; and another gentleman of the neighborhood, named Levin Ballard, had bought me of the children of my former master, Jack Cox. This suit continued in the courts of Calvert county more than two years; but was finally decided in favor of him who had bought me of the children.
I went home with my master, Mr. Gibson, who was a farmer, and with whom I lived three years. Soon after I came to live with Mr. Gibson, I married a girl of color named Judah, the slave of a gentleman by the name of Symmes, who resided in the same neighborhood. I was at the house of Mr. Symmes every week; and became as well acquainted with him and his family, as I was with my master.
Mr. Symmes also married a wife about the time I did. The lady whom he married lived near Philadelphia, and when she first came to Maryland, she refused to be served by a black chambermaid, but employed a white girl, the daughter of a poor man, who lived near. The lady was reported to be very wealthy, and brought a large trunk full of plate and other valuable articles. This trunk was so heavy that I could scarcely carry it, and it impressed my mind with the idea of great riches in the owner, at that time. After some time Mrs. Symmes dismissed her white chambermaid and placed my wife in that situation, which I regarded as a fortunate circumstance, as it insured her good food, and at least one good suit of clothes.
The Symmes' family was one of the most ancient in Maryland, and had been a long time resident in Calvert county. The grounds had been laid out, and all the improvements projected about the family abode, in a style of much magnificence, according to the custom of the old aristocracy of Maryland and Virginia.
Appendant to the domicile, and at no great distance from the house, was a family vault, built of brick, in which reposed the occupants of the estate, who had lived there for many previous generations. This vault had not been opened or entered for fifteen years previous to the time of which I speak; but it so happened, that at this period, a young man, a distant relation of the family, died, having requested on his death-bed, that he might be buried in this family resting place. When I came on Saturday evening to see my wife and child, Mr. Symmes desired me, as I was older than any of his black men, to take an iron pick and go and open the vault, which I accordingly did, by cutting away the mortar, and removing a few bricks from one side of the building; but I could not remove more than three or four bricks before I was obliged, by the horrid effluvia which issued at the aperture, to retire. It was the most deadly and sickening scent that I have ever smelled, and I could not return to complete the work until after the sun had risen the next day, when I pulled down so much of one of the side walls, as to permit persons to walk in upright. I then went in alone, and examined this house of the dead, and surely no picture could more strongly and vividly depict the emptiness of all earthly vanity, and the nothingness of human pride. Dispersed over the floor lay the fragments of more than twenty human skeletons, each in the place where it had been deposited by the idle tenderness of surviving friends. In some cases nothing remained but the hair and the larger bones, whilst in several the form of the coffin was yet visible, with all the bones resting in their proper places. One coffin, the sides of which were yet standing, the lid only having decayed and partly fallen in, so as to disclose the contents of this narrow cell, presented a peculiarly moving spectacle. Upon the centre of the lid was a large silver plate, and the head and foot were adorned with silver stars.—The nails which had united the parts of the coffin had also silver heads. Within lay the skeletons of a mother and her infant child, in slumbers only to be broken by the peal of the last trumpet. The bones of the infant lay upon the breast of the mother, where the hands of affection had shrouded them. The ribs of the parent had fallen down, and rested on the back bone. Many gold rings were about the bones of the fingers. Brilliant ear-rings lay beneath where the ears had been; and a glittering gold chain encircled the ghastly and haggard vertebra of a once beautiful neck The shroud and flesh had disappeared, but the hair of the mother appeared strong and fresh. Even the silken locks of the infant were still preserved. Behold the end of youth and beauty, and of all that is lovely in life! The coffin was so much decayed that it could not be removed. A thick and dismal vapor hung embodied from the roof and walls of this charnel house, in appearance somewhat like a mass of dark cobwebs; but which was impalpable to the touch, and when stirred by the hand vanished away. On the second day we deposited with his kindred, the corpse of the young man, and at night I again carefully closed up the breach which I had made in the walls of this dwelling-place of the dead.
Some short time after my wife became chambermaid to her mistress, it was my misfortune to change masters once more. Levin Ballard, who, as before stated, had purchased me of the children of my former master, Jack Cox, was successful in his law suit with Mr. Gibson, the object of which was to determine the right of property in me; and one day, whilst I was at work in the corn-field, Mr. Ballard came and told me I was his property; asking me at the same time if I was willing to go with him. I told him I was not willing to go; but that if I belonged to him I knew I must. We then went to the house, and Mr. Gibson not being at home, Mrs. Gibson told me I must go with Mr. Ballard.
I accordingly went with him, determining to serve him obediently and faithfully. I remained in his service almost three years, and as he lived near the residence of my wife's master, my former mode of life was not materially changed, by this change of home.
Mrs. Symmes spent much of her time in exchanging visits with the families of the other large planters, both in Calvert and the neighboring counties; and through my wife, I became acquainted with the private family history of many of the principal persons in Maryland.
There was a great proprietor, who resided in another county, who owned several hundred slaves; and who permitted them to beg of travelers on the high-way. This same gentleman had several daughters, and according to the custom of the time, kept what they called open house: that is, his house was free to all persons of genteel appearance, who chose to visit it. The young ladies were supposed to be the greatest fortunes in the country, were reputed beautiful, and consequently were greatly admired.
Two gentlemen, who were lovers of these girls, desirous of amusing their mistresses, invited a young man, whose standing in society they supposed to be beneath theirs, to go with them to the manor, as it was called. When there, they endeavored to make him an object of ridicule, in presence of the ladies; but he so well acquitted himself, and manifested such superior wit and talents, that one of the young ladies fell in love with him, and soon after wrote him a letter, which led to their marriage. His two pretended friends were never afterwards countenanced by the family, as gentlemen of honor; but the fortunate husband avenged himself of his heartless companions, by inviting them to his wedding, and exposing them to the observation of the vast assemblage of fashionable people, who always attended a marriage, in the family of a great planter.
The two gentlemen, who had been thus made to fall into the pit that they had dug for another, were so much chagrined at the issue of the adventure, that one soon left Maryland; and the other became a common drunkard, and died a few years afterwards.
My change of masters realized all the evil apprehensions which I had entertained. I found Mr. Ballard sullen and crabbed in his temper, and always prone to find fault with my conduct—no matter how hard I had labored, or how careful I was to fulfil all his orders, and obey his most unreasonable commands. Yet, it so happened, that he never beat me, for which, I was altogether indebted to the good character, for industry, sobriety and humility, which I had established in the neighborhood. I think he was ashamed to abuse me, lest he should suffer in the good opinion of the public; for he often fell into the most violent fits of anger against me, and overwhelmed me with coarse and abusive language. He did not give me clothes enough to keep me warm in winter, and compelled me to work in the woods, when there was deep snow on the ground, by which I suffered very much. I had determined at last to speak to him to sell me to some person in the neighborhood, so that I might still be near my wife and children—but a different fate awaited me.
My master kept a store at a small village on the bank of the Patuxent river, called B——, although he resided at some distance on a farm. One morning he rose early, and ordered me to take a yoke of oxen and go to the village, to bring home a cart which was there, saying he would follow me. He arrived at the village soon after I did, and took his breakfast with his store-keeper. He then told me to come into the house and get my breakfast. Whilst I was eating in the kitchen, I observed him talking earnestly, but low, to a stranger near the kitchen door. I soon after went out, and hitched my oxen to the cart, and was about to drive off, when several men came round about me, and amongst them the stranger whom I had seen speaking with my master. This man came up to me, and, seizing me by the collar, shook me violently, saying I was his property, and must go with him to Georgia. At the sound of these words, the thoughts of my wife and children rushed across my mind, and my heart beat away within me. I saw and knew that my case was hopeless, and that resistance was vain, as there were near twenty persons present, all of whom were ready to assist the man by whom I was kidnapped. I felt incapable of weeping or speaking, and in my despair I laughed loudly. My purchaser ordered me to cross my hands behind, which were quickly bound with a strong cord; and he then told me that we must set out that very day for the South. I asked if I could not be allowed to go to see my wife and children, or if this could not be permitted, if they might not have leave to come to see me; but was told that I would be able to get another wife in Georgia.
My new master, whose name I did not hear, took me that same day across the Patuxent, where I joined fifty-one other slaves, whom he had bought in Maryland. Thirty-two of these were men, and nineteen were women. The women were merely tied together with a rope, about the size of a bed-cord, which was tied like a halter round the neck of each; but the men, of whom I was the stoutest and strongest, were very differently caparisoned. A strong iron collar was closely fitted by means of a padlock round each of our necks. A chain of iron, about a hundred feet in length, was passed through the hasp of each padlock, except at the two ends, where the hasps of the padlock passed through a link of the chain. In addition to this, we were handcuffed in pairs, with iron staples and bolts, with a short chain, about a foot long, uniting the handcuffs and their wearers in pairs. In this manner we were chained alternately by the right and left hand; and the poor man to whom I was thus ironed, wept like an infant when the blacksmith, with his heavy hammer, fastened the ends of the bolts that kept the staples from slipping from our arms. For my own part, I felt indifferent to my fate. It appeared to me that the worst had come that could come, and that no change of fortune could harm me.
After we were all chained and handcuffed together, we sat down upon the ground; and here reflecting upon the sad reverse of fortune that had so suddenly overtaken me, I became weary of life, and bitterly execrated the day I was born. It seemed that I was destined by fate to drink the cup of sorrow to the very dregs, and that I should find no respite from misery but in the grave. I longed to die, and escape from the hands of my tormentors; but even the wretched privilege of destroying myself was denied me, for I could not shake off my chains, nor move a yard without the consent of my master. Reflecting in silence upon my forlorn condition, I at length concluded that as things could not become worse—and as the life of man is but a continued round of changes, they must, of necessity, take a turn in my favor at some future day. I found relief in this vague and indefinite hope, and when we received orders to go on board the scow, which was to transport us over the Patuxent, I marched down to the water with a firmness of purpose of which I did not believe myself capable, a few minutes before.
We were soon on the south side of the river, and taking up our line of march, we traveled about five miles that evening, and stopped for the night at one of those miserable public houses, so frequent in the lower parts of Maryland and Virginia, called "ordinaries."
Our master ordered a pot of mush to be made for our supper; after despatching which we all lay down on the naked floor to sleep in our handcuffs and chains. The women, my fellow-slaves, lay on one side of the room; and the men who were chained with me, occupied the other. I slept but little this night, which I passed in thinking of my wife and little children, whom I could not hope ever to see again. I also thought of my grandfather, and of the long nights I had passed with him, listening to his narratives of the scenes through which he had passed in Africa. I at length fell asleep, but was distressed by painful dreams. My wife and children appeared to be weeping and lamenting my calamity; and beseeching and imploring my master on their knees, not to carry me away from them. My little boy came and begged me not to go and leave him, and endeavored, as I thought, with his little hands to break the fetters that bound me. I awoke in agony and cursed my existence. I could not pray, for the measure of my woes seemed to be full, and I felt as if there was no mercy in heaven, nor compassion on earth, for a man who was born a slave. Day at length came, and with the dawn, we resumed our journey towards the Potomac. As we passed along the road, I saw the slaves at work in the corn and tobacco fields. I knew they toiled hard and lacked food; but they were not, like me, dragged in chains from their wives, children and friends. Compared with me, they were the happiest of mortals. I almost envied them their blessed lot.
Before night we crossed the Potomac, at Hoe's Ferry, and bade farewell to Maryland. At night we stopped at the house of a poor gentleman, at least he appeared to wish my master to consider him a gentleman; and he had no difficulty in establishing his claim to poverty. He lived at the side, of the road, in a framed house, which had never been plastered within—the weather-boards being the only wall. He had about fifty acres of land enclosed by a fence, the remains of a farm which had once covered two or three hundred acres; but the cedar bushes had encroached upon all sides, until the cultivation had been confined to its present limits. The land was the picture of sterility, and there was neither barn nor stable on the place. The owner was ragged, and his wife and children were in a similar plight. It was with difficulty that we obtained a bushel of corn, which our master ordered us to parch at a fire made in the yard, and to eat for our supper. Even this miserable family possessed two slaves, half-starved, half-naked wretches, whose appearance bespoke them familiar with hunger, and victims of the lash; but yet there was one pang which they had not known—they had not been chained and driven from their parents or children, into hopeless exile.
We left this place early in the morning, and directed our course toward the south-west; our master riding beside us, and hastening our march, sometimes by words of encouragement, and sometimes by threats of punishment. The women took their place in the rear of our line. We halted about nine o'clock for breakfast, and received as much corn-bread as we could eat, together with a plate of boiled herrings, and about three pounds of pork amongst us. Before we left this place, I was removed from near the middle of the chain, and placed at the front end of it; so that I now became the leader of the file, and held this post of honor until our irons were taken from us, near the town of Columbia in South Carolina. We continued our route this day along the high road between the Potomac and Rappahannock; and I saw each of those rivers several times before night. Our master gave us no dinner to-day, but we halted and got as much corn-mush and sour milk as we could eat for supper. The weather grew mild and pleasant, and we needed no more fires at night.
From this time we all slept promiscuously, men and women on the floors of such houses as we chanced to stop at. We passed on through Bowling Green, a quiet village.
Time did not reconcile me to my chains, but it made me familiar with them. I reflected on my desperate situation with a degree of calmness, hoping that I might be able to devise some means of escape. My master placed a particular value upon me, for I heard him tell a tavern-keeper that if he had me in Georgia he could get eight hundred dollars for me, but he had bought me for his brother, and believed he should not sell me; he afterwards changed his mind, however. I carefully examined every part of our chain, but found no place where it could be separated.
We all had as much corn-bread as we could eat, procured of our owner at the places we stopped at for the night. In addition to this we usually had a salt herring every day. On Sunday we had a quarter of a pound of bacon each.
We continued our course up the country westward for a few days and then turned South, crossed James river above Richmond, as I heard at the time. After more than four weeks of travel we entered South Carolina near Camden, and for the first time I saw a field of cotton in bloom.
As we approached the Yadkin river the tobacco disappeared from the fields and the cotton plant took its place as an article of general culture.
I was now a slave in South Carolina, and had no hope of ever again seeing my wife and children. I had at times serious thoughts of suicide so great was my anguish. If I could have got a rope I should have hanged myself at Lancaster. The thought of my wife and children I had been torn from in Maryland, and the dreadful undefined future which was before me, came near driving me mad. It was long after midnight before I fell asleep, but the most pleasant dream, succeeded to these sorrowful forebodings. I thought I had escaped my master, and through great difficulties made my way back to Maryland, and was again in my wife's cabin with my little children on my lap. Every object was so vividly impressed on my mind in this dream, that when I awoke, a firm conviction settled upon my mind, that by some means, at present incomprehensible to me, I should yet again embrace my wife, and caress my children in their humble dwelling. Early in the morning, our master called us up; and distributed to each of the party a cake made of corn-meal and a small piece of bacon. On our journey, we had only eaten twice a day, and had not received breakfast until about nine o'clock; but he said this morning meal was given to welcome us to South Carolina. He then addressed us all, and told us we might now give up all hope of ever returning to the places of our nativity; as it would be impossible for us to pass through the States of North Carolina and Virginia, without being taken up and sent back. He further advised us to make ourselves contented, as he would take us to Georgia, a far better country than any we had seen; and where we would be able to live in the greatest abundance. About sunrise we took up our march on the road to Columbia, as we were told. Hitherto our master had not offered to sell any of us, and had even refused to stop to talk to any one on the subject of our sale, although he had several times been addressed on this point, before we reached Lancaster; but soon after we departed from this village, we were overtaken on the road by a man on horseback, who accosted our driver by asking him if his niggars were for sale. The latter replied, that he believed he would not sell any yet, as he was on his way to Georgia, and cotton being now much in demand, he expected to obtain high prices for us from persons who were going to settle in the new purchase. He, however, contrary to his custom, ordered us to stop, and told the stranger he might look at us, and that he would find us as fine a lot of hands as were ever imported into the country—that we were all prime property, and he had no doubt would command his own prices in Georgia.
The stranger, who was a thin, weather-beaten, sun-burned figure, then said, he wanted a couple of breeding wenches, and would give as much for them as they would bring in Georgia—that he had lately heard from Augusta, and that niggers were not higher there than in Columbia, and, as he had been in Columbia the week before, he knew what niggers were worth. He then walked along our line, as we stood chained together, and looked at the whole of us—then turning to the women, asked the prices of the two pregnant ones. Our master replied, that these were two of the best breeding-wenches in all Maryland—that one was twenty-two, and the other only nineteen—that the first was already the mother of seven children, and the other of four—that he had himself seen the children at the time he bought their mothers—and that such wenches would be cheap at a thousand dollars each; but as they were not able to keep up with the gang, he would take twelve hundred dollars for the two. The purchaser said this was too much, but that he would give nine hundred dollars for the pair. This price was promptly refused; but our master, after some consideration, said he was willing to sell a bargain in these wenches, and would take eleven hundred dollars for them, which was objected to on the other side; and many faults and failings were pointed out in the merchandise. After much bargaining, and many gross jests on the part of the stranger, he offered a thousand dollars for the two, and said he would give no more. He then mounted his horse, and moved off; but after he had gone about one hundred yards, he was called back; and our master said, if he would go with him to the next blacksmith's shop on the road to Columbia, and pay for taking the irons off the rest of us, he might have the two women.
This proposal was agreed to, and as it was now about nine o'clock, we were ordered to hasten on to the next house, where, we were told, we must stop for breakfast. At this place we were informed that it was ten miles to the next smith's shop, and our new acquaintance was obliged by the terms of his contract, to accompany us thither. We received for breakfast, about a pint of boiled rice to each person, and after this was despatched, we again took to the road, eager to reach the blacksmith's shop, at which we expected to be relieved of the iron rings and chains, which had so long galled and worried us. About two o'clock we arrived at the longed-for residence of the smith; but, on inquiry, our master was informed that he was not at home, and would not return before evening. Here a controversy arose, whether we should all remain here until the smith returned, or the stranger should go on with us to the next smithery, which was said to be only five miles distant. This was a point not easily settled between two such spirits as our master and the stranger; both of whom had been overseers in their time, and both of whom had risen to the rank of proprietors of slaves.
The matter had already produced angry words, and much vaunting on the part of the stranger;—"that a freeman of South Carolina was not to be imposed upon; that by the constitution of the State, his rights were sacred, and he was not to be deprived of his liberty, at the arbitrary will of a man just from amongst the Yankees, and who had brought with him to the South as many Yankee tricks as he had niggers, and he believed many more." He then swore, that "all the niggers in the drove were Yankee niggers."
"When I overseed for Colonel Polk," said he, "on his rice plantation, he had two Yankee niggers that he brought from Maryland, and they were running away every day. I gave them a hundred lashes more than a dozen times; but they never quit running away, till I chained them together, with iron collars round their necks, and chained them to spades, and made them do nothing but dig ditches to drain the rice swamps. They could not run away then, unless they went together, and carried their chains and spades with them. I kept them in this way two years, and better niggers I never had. One of them died one night, and the other was never good for anything after he lost his mate. He never ran away afterwards, but he died too, after a while." He then addressed himself to the two women, whose master he had become, and told them that if ever they ran away, he would treat them in the same way. Wretched as I was myself, my heart bled for these poor creatures, who had fallen into the hands of a tiger in human form. The dispute between the two masters was still raging, when, unexpectedly, the blacksmith rode up to his house, on a thin, bony-looking horse, and dismounting, asked his wife what these gentlemen were making such a frolick about. I did not hear her answer, but both the disputants turned and addressed themselves to the smith—the one to know what price he would demand to take the irons off all these niggers, and the other to know how long it would take him to perform the work. It is here proper for me to observe, that there are many phrases of language in common use in Carolina and Georgia, which are applied in a way that would not be understood by persons from one of the Northern States. For instance, when several persons are quarrelling, brawling, making a great noise, or even fighting, they say, "the gentlemen are frolicking!" I heard many other terms equally strange, whilst I resided in the southern country, amongst such white people as I became acquainted with; though my acquaintance was confined, in a great measure, to overseers, and such people as did not associate with the rich planters and great families.
The smith at length agreed to take the irons from the whole of us for two dollars and fifty cents, and immediately set about it, with the air of indifference that he would have manifested in tearing a pair of old shoes from the hoofs of a wagon-horse. It was four weeks and five days, from the time my irons had been riveted upon me, until they were removed, and great as had been my sufferings whilst chained to my fellow-slaves, I cannot say that I felt any pleasure in being released from my long confinement; for I knew that my liberation was only preparatory to my final, and, as I feared, perpetual subjugation to the power of some such monster, as the one then before me, who was preparing to drive away the two unfortunate women whom he had purchased, and whose life's-blood he had acquired the power of shedding at pleasure, for the sum of a thousand dollars. After we were released from our chains, our master sold the whole lot of irons, which we had borne from Maryland, to the blacksmith, for seven dollars.
The smith then procured a bottle of rum, and treated his two new acquaintances to a part of its contents—wishing them both good luck with their niggers. After these civilities were over, the two women were ordered to follow their new master, who shaped his course across the country, by a road leading west. At parting from us, they both wept aloud, and wrung their hands in despair. We all went to them, and bade them a last farewell. Their road led into a wood, which they soon entered, and I never saw them nor heard of them again.
These women had both been driven from Calvert county, as well as myself, and the fate of the younger of the two, was peculiarly severe.
She had been brought up as a waiting-maid of a young lady, the daughter of a gentleman, whose wife and family often visited the mistress of my own wife. I had frequently seen this woman when she was a young girl, in attendance upon her young mistress, and riding in the same carriage with her. The father of the young lady died, and soon after she married a gentleman who resided a few miles off. The husband received a considerable fortune with his bride, and amongst other things, her waiting-maid, who was reputed a great beauty among people of color. He had been addicted to the fashionable sports of the country, before marriage, such as horse-racing, fox-hunting, &c., and I had heard the black people say he drank too freely; but it was supposed that he would correct all these irregularities after marriage, more especially as his wife was a great belle, and withal very handsome. The reverse, however, turned out to be the fact. Instead of growing better, he became worse; and in the course of a few years, was known all over the country, as a drunkard and a gambler. His wife, it was said, died of grief, and soon after her death, his effects were seized by his creditors, and sold by the sheriff. The former waiting-maid, now the mother of several children, was purchased by our present master, for four hundred dollars, at the sheriff's sale, and this poor wretch, whose employment in early life had been to take care of her young mistress, and attend to her in her chamber, and at her toilet, after being torn from her husband and her children, had now gone to toil out a horrible existence beneath the scorching sun of a South Carolina cotton-field, under the dominion of a master, as void of the manners of a gentleman, as he was of the language of humanity.
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