Part 2 out of 3

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.


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