Isaac T. Hopper
L. Maria Child
Part 3 out of 6
slaveholder. He still demanded to have his victim delivered up to him.
When the keeper declined doing it, and urged the reason that the
physician said he could not be moved without imminent danger to his
life, the brutal tyrant exclaimed, "Damn him! He's my property; and I
_will_ have him, dead or alive. If he dies, it's nobody's loss but
As he had the mayor's warrant for taking him, the keeper dared not incur
the responsibility of disobeying his requisitions. He convened the
inspectors for consultation; and they all agreed that any attempt to
remove the wounded man would render them accessory to his death. They
laid the case before the mayor, who ordered that the prisoner should
remain undisturbed till the physician pronounced him out of danger. When
the master was informed of this, he swore that nobody had any right to
interfere between him and his property. He cursed the mayor, threatened
to prosecute the keeper, and was in a furious rage with every body.
Meanwhile, the sympathy of Isaac T. Hopper was strongly excited in the
case, and he obtained a promise from the physician that he would let him
know if there was any chance that the slave would recover. Contrary to
all expectation, he lingered along day after day; and in about a week,
the humane physician signified to Friend Hopper, and Joseph Price, one
of the inspectors, that a favorable result might now be anticipated. Of
course, none of them considered it a duty to inform the master of their
hopes. They undertook to negotiate for the purchase of the prisoner, and
obtained him for a moderate price. The owner was fully impressed with
the belief that he would die before long, and therefore regarded the
purchase of him as a mere freak of humanity, by which he was willing
enough to profit. When he heard soon afterward that the doctor
pronounced him out of danger, he was greatly enraged. But his suffering
victim was beyond the reach of his fury, which vented itself in harmless
The colored man lived many years, to enjoy the liberty for which he had
been willing to sacrifice his life. He was a sober, honest,
simple-hearted person, and always conducted in a manner entirely
satisfactory to those who had befriended him in his hour of utmost need.
THE FOREIGN SLAVE.
Early in the year of 1808, a Frenchman arrived in Philadelphia from one
of the West India Islands, bringing with him a slave, whom he took
before one of the aldermen, and had him bound to serve him seven years
in Virginia. When the indenture was executed, he committed his bondman
to prison, for safe-keeping, until he was ready to leave the city. One
of the keepers informed Isaac T. Hopper of the circumstance, and told
him the slave was to be carried South the next morning.
Congress had passed an Act prohibiting the importation of slaves, which
was to begin to take effect at the commencement of the year 1808. It
immediately occurred to Friend Hopper that the present case came within
the act; and if so, the colored man was of course legally entitled to
freedom. In order to detain him till he could examine the law, and take
advice on the subject, he procured a warrant for debt and lodged it at
the prison, telling the keeper not to let the colored man go till he had
paid his demand of a hundred dollars.
When the Frenchman called for his slave next morning, they refused to
discharge him; and he obtained a writ of _habeas corpus_, to bring the
case before the mayor's court. Friend Hopper was informed that the slave
was on trial, that the Recorder did not think it necessary to notify
him, and had made very severe remarks concerning the fictitious debt
assumed for the occasion. He proceeded directly to the court, which was
thronged with people, who watched him with lively curiosity, and made a
lane for him to pass through. Mahlon Dickinson, the Recorder, was in the
act of giving his decision on the case, and he closed his remarks by
saying, "The conduct of Mr. Hopper has been highly reprehensible. The
man is not his debtor; and the pretence that he was so could have been
made for no other reason but to cause unnecessary delay, vexation, and
expense." The lawyers smiled at each other, and seemed not a little
pleased at hearing him so roughly rebuked; for many of them had been
more or less annoyed by his skill and ready wit in tangling their
skein, in cases where questions of freedom were involved. Friend Hopper
stood before the Recorder, looking him steadfastly in the face, while he
was making animadversions on his conduct; and when he had finished, he
respectfully asked leave to address the court for a few minutes.
"Well, Mr. Hopper," said the Recorder, "what have you to say in
justification of your very extraordinary proceedings?"
He replied, "It is true the man is not my debtor; but the court has
greatly erred in supposing that the step I have taken was merely
intended to produce unnecessary delay and expense. The Recorder will
doubtless recollect that Congress has passed an act prohibiting the
introduction of foreign slaves into this country. It is my belief that
the case now before the court is embraced within the provisions of that
act. But I needed time to ascertain the point; and I assumed that the
man was my debtor merely to detain him until the Act of Congress could
Jared Ingersoll, an old and highly respectable lawyer, rose to say, "May
it please your honors, I believe Mr. Hopper is correct in his opinion. A
National Intelligencer containing the Act of Congress is at my office,
and I will send for it if you wish." The paper was soon brought, and
Friend Hopper read aloud the section which Mr. Ingersoll pointed out;
placing strong emphasis on such portions as bore upon the case then
pending. When he had concluded, he observed, "I presume the court must
now be convinced that the censures so liberally bestowed on my conduct
are altogether unmerited."
The counsel for the claimant said a newspaper was not legal evidence of
the existence of a law. Friend Hopper replied, "The court is well aware
that I am no lawyer. But I have heard lawyers talk about _prima facie_
evidence; and I should suppose the National Intelligencer amounted at
least to that sort of evidence, for it is the acknowledged organ of
government, in which the laws are published for the information of
citizens. But if that is not satisfactory, I presume the court will
detain the man until an authenticated copy of the law can be obtained."
After some discussion, the court ordered a copy of the law to be
procured; but the attorney abandoned the case, and the slave was set at
As soon as this decision was announced, the throng of spectators, white
and colored, began to shout, "Hurra for Mr. Hopper!" The populace were
so accustomed to see him come off victorious from such contests, that
they began to consider his judgment infallible.
Many years afterward, when Friend Hopper met Mahlon Dickinson on board
a steam-boat, he inquired whether he recollected the scolding he gave
him on a certain occasion. He replied pleasantly, "Indeed I do. I
thought I _had_ you that time, and I intended to give it to you; but you
slipped through my fingers, as usual."
THE NEW-JERSEY SLAVE.
In the year 1809, a gentleman from East New-Jersey visited Philadelphia,
and brought a young slave to wait upon him. When they had been in that
city four or five months, the lad called upon Isaac T. Hopper to inquire
whether his residence in Philadelphia had made him free. He was informed
that he would not have a legal claim to freedom till he had been there
six months. Just as the term expired, somebody told the master that the
laws of Pennsylvania conferred freedom on slaves under such
circumstances. He had been ignorant of the fact, or had forgotten it,
and as soon as he received the information he became alarmed lest he
should lose his locomotive property. He sent for a constable, who came
to his door with a carriage. The lad had just come up from the cellar
with an armful of wood. When he entered the parlor, the constable
ordered him to put it down and go with him. He threw the wood directly
at the legs of the officer, and ran down cellar full speed, slamming the
door after him. As soon as the constable could recover from the blow he
had received, he followed the lad into the cellar; but he had escaped by
another door, and gone to Isaac T. Hopper.
It was snowing fast, and when he arrived there in his shirt sleeves, his
black wool plentifully powdered with snow, he was a laughable object to
look upon. But his countenance showed that he was too thoroughly
frightened and distressed to be a subject of mirth to any compassionate
heart. Friend Hopper tried to comfort him by promising that he would
protect him, and assuring him that he was now legally free. His
agitation subsided in a short time, and he began to laugh heartily to
think how he had upset the constable. The master soon came to Friend
Hopper's house, described the lad's dress and appearance, and inquired
whether he had seen him. He admitted that he had, but declined telling
where he was. The master made some severe remarks about the meanness of
tampering with gentlemen's servants, and went away. In about half an
hour he returned with the constable and said Alderman Kepler desired his
respects to Isaac T. Hopper, and wished to see him at his office. He
replied, "I think it likely that Alderman Kepler has not much more
respect for me than I have for him. If he has more _business_ with me
than I have with him, I am at home, and can be spoken with."
The master went away, but soon returned with two constables and a
lawyer, who was very clamorous in his threats of what would be the
consequences if the slave was not at once surrendered to the gentleman.
One of the officers said he had a warrant to search the house. "Very
well," replied Friend Hopper, "execute it."
"I have great respect for you," rejoined the officer. "I should be sorry
to search your house by virtue of the warrant. I hope you will consent
to my doing so without."
"There is no need of delicacy on this occasion," replied Friend Hopper.
"Thou hadst better proceed to the extent of thy authority."
"You give your consent, do you?" inquired the officer.
He answered, "No, I do not. If thou hast a warrant, of course my consent
is not necessary. Proceed to the full extent of thy authority. But if
thou goest one inch beyond, thou wilt have reason to repent of it."
The party left the house utterly discomfited. He afterward learned that
they had applied for a search-warrant, but could not procure one.
The first step in the process of securing the lad's freedom was to
obtain proof that he had been in Philadelphia six months. The landlord
of the hotel where the master lodged, refused to say anything on the
subject, being unwilling to offend his lodger. But the servants were
under no such prudential restraint; and from them Friend Hopper obtained
testimony sufficient for his purpose. He then wrote a note to the
alderman that he would be at his office with the lad at nine o'clock
next morning, and requesting him to inform the claimant. In the mean
time, he procured a writ of _habeas corpus_, to have it in readiness in
case circumstances required it. The claimant made his appearance at the
appointed hour, and stated how he had come to Philadelphia on a visit,
and brought a slave to attend upon him. He descanted quite largely upon
the courtesy due from citizens of one state to those of another state.
Friend Hopper was about to reply, when the magistrate interrupted him by
saying, "I shall not interfere with the citizens of other states. I
shall surrender the boy to his master. If he thinks he has a legal claim
to his freedom, let him prosecute it in New-Jersey."
Friend Hopper said nothing, but gave a signal to have the writ served.
The magistrate was highly offended, and asked in an angry tone, "What
was your object in procuring a writ of _habeas corpus_?"
Friend Hopper replied, "From my knowledge of thee, I anticipated the
result that has just occurred; and I determined to remove the case to a
tribunal where I had confidence that justice would be done in the
The Court of Common Pleas was then in session. The case was brought
before it the next day, and after the examination of two or three
witnesses, the lad was declared free.
A SLAVE HUNTER DEFEATED.
In 1810, a slave escaped from Virginia to Philadelphia. In a few months,
his master heard where he was, and caused him to be arrested. He was a
fine looking young man, apparently about thirty years old. When he was
brought before Alderman Shoemaker, that magistrate's sympathy was so
much excited, that he refused to try the case unless some one was
present to defend the slave. Isaac T. Hopper was accordingly sent for.
When he had heard a statement of the case, he asked the agent of the
slaveholder to let him examine the Power of Attorney by which he had
been authorized to arrest a "fugitive from labor," and carry him to
Virginia. The agent denied his right to interfere, but Alderman
Shoemaker informed him that Mr. Hopper was a member of the Emancipation
Society, and had a right to be satisfied.
The Power of Attorney was correctly drawn, and had been acknowledged in
Washington, before Bushrod Washington, one of the judges of the Supreme
Court of the United States. Friend Hopper's keen eye could detect no
available flaw in it. When the agent had been sworn to answer truly all
questions relating to the case, he inquired whether the fugitive he was
in search of had been advertised; if so, he wished to see the
advertisement. It was handed to him, and he instantly noticed that it
was headed "Sixty Dollars Reward."
"Art thou to receive sixty dollars for apprehending the man mentioned in
this advertisement?" said he.
The agent replied, "I am to receive that sum provided I take him home to
"How canst thou prove that the man thou hast arrested is the one here
advertised?" inquired he.
The agent answered that he could swear to the fact.
"That may be," rejoined Friend Hopper; "but in Philadelphia we do not
allow any person, especially a stranger, to swear sixty dollars into his
own pocket. Unless there is better evidence than thy oath, the man must
be set at liberty."
The agent became extremely irritated, and said indignantly, "Do you
think I would swear to a lie?"
"Thou art a stranger to me," replied Friend Hopper. "I don't know
whether thou wouldst swear falsely or not. But there is one thing I do
know; and that is, I am not willing to trust thee."
The agent reiterated, "I know the man standing there as well as I know
any man living. I am perfectly sure he is the slave described in the
advertisement. I was overseer for the gentleman who owns him. If you
examine his back, you will find scars of the whip."
"And perhaps thou art the man who made the scars, if he has any,"
rejoined the Friend.
Without replying to this suggestion, the slave-hunter ordered the
colored man to strip, that his back might be examined by the court.
Friend Hopper objected to such a proceeding. "Thou hast produced no
evidence that the man thou hast arrested is a slave," said he. "Thou and
he are on the same footing before this court. We have as good a right to
examine thy back, as are have to examine his." He added, with a very
significant tone, "In some places, they whip for kidnapping."
This remark put the slave-hunter in a violent rage. The magistrate
decided that his evidence was not admissible, on the ground that he was
interested. He then proposed to summon two witnesses from a Virginian
vessel lying at one of the wharves.
"Of course thou art at liberty to go for witnesses," replied Friend
Hopper. "But I appeal to the magistrate to discharge this man. Under
present circumstances, he ought not to be detained a single moment." The
alderman needed no urging on that point. He very promptly discharged the
prisoner. As soon as he left the office, the slave-hunter seized hold of
him, and swore he would keep him till witnesses were brought. But Friend
Hopper walked up to him, and said in his resolute way, "Let go thy hold!
or I will take such measures as will make thee repent of thy rashness.
How darest thou lay a finger upon the man after the magistrate has
Thus admonished, he reluctantly relinquished his grasp, and went off
swearing vengeance against "the meddlesome Quaker."
Friend Hopper hastened home with the colored man, and wrote a brief
letter to his friend William Reeve, in New-Jersey, concluding with these
words: "Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the
least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." This letter was
given to the fugitive with directions how to proceed. His friend
accompanied him to the ferry, saw him safely across the river, and then
In an hour or two the slave-hunter came to the house, accompanied by a
constable and two witnesses from Virginia. "The slave I arrested was
seen to come here," said he. "Where is he? Produce him."
Friend Hopper replied very quietly, "The man has been here; but he is
This answer made the agent perfectly furious. After discharging a volley
of oaths, he said he had a search warrant, and swore he would have the
house searched from garret to cellar. "Very well," replied Friend
Hopper, "thou art at liberty to proceed according to law; but be careful
not to overstep that boundary. If thou dost, it will be at thy peril."
After the slave-hunter had vented his rage in a torrent of abuse, the
constable proposed to speak a few words in private. With many friendly
professions, he acknowledged that they had no search-warrant. "The
gentleman was about to obtain one from the mayor," said he; "but I
wished to save your feelings. I told him you were well acquainted with
me, and I had no doubt you would permit me to search your house without
any legal process."
Friend Hopper listened patiently, perfectly well aware that the whole
statement was a sham. When the constable paused for a reply, he opened
the door, and said very concisely, "Thou art at liberty to go about thy
They spent several days searching for the fugitive, but their efforts
A woman, who was born too early to derive benefit from the gradual
emancipation law of Pennsylvania, escaped from bondage in Lancaster
County to Philadelphia. There she married a free colored man by the name
of Abraham Morris. They lived together very comfortably for several
years, and seemed to enjoy life as much as many of their more wealthy
neighbors. But in the year 1810, it unfortunately happened that Mary's
master ascertained where she lived, and sent a man to arrest her, with
directions either to sell her, or bring her back to him.
Abraham Morris was a very intelligent, industrious man, and had laid up
some money. He offered one hundred and fifty dollars of his earnings to
purchase the freedom of his wife. The sum was accepted, and the parties
applied to Daniel Bussier, a magistrate in the District of Southwark, to
draw up a deed of manumission. The money was paid, and the deed given;
but the agent employed to sell the woman absconded with the money. The
master, after waiting several months and not hearing from him, sent to
Philadelphia and caused Mary Morris to be arrested again. She was taken
to the office of Daniel Bussier, and notwithstanding he had witnessed
her deed of manumission a few months before, he committed her to prison
as a fugitive slave. When her husband called upon Isaac T. Hopper and
related all the circumstances, he thought there must be some mistake;
for he could not believe that any magistrate would be so unjust and
arbitrary, as to commit a woman to prison as a fugitive, when he had
seen the money paid for her ransom, and the deed of manumission given.
He went to Mr. Bussier immediately, and very civilly told him that he
had called to make inquiry concerning a colored woman committed to
prison as a fugitive slave on the evening previous.
"Go out of my office!" said the undignified magistrate. "I want nothing
to do with you."
He replied, "I come here as the friend and adviser of the woman's
husband. My request is reasonable, and I trust thou wilt not refuse it."
In answer to this appeal, Mr. Bussier merely repeated, "Go out of my
Friend Hopper offered him half a dollar, saying, "I want an extract from
thy docket. Here is the lawful fee."
All this time, Mr. Bussier had been under the hands of a barber, who was
cutting his hair. He became extremely irritated, and said, "If you won't
leave this office, I will put you out, as soon as I have taken the seat
"I wish thou wouldst take the seat of justice," replied Friend Hopper;
"for then I should obtain what I want; but if thou dost, I apprehend it
will be for the first time."
Mr. Bussier sprang hastily from his chair, and seated himself at the
magisterial desk, which was raised about a foot from the floor, and
surrounded by a railing. Conceiving himself now armed with the thunders
of the law, he called out, in tones of authority, "Mr. Hopper, I command
you to quit this office!"
The impassive Quaker stood perfectly still, and pointing to Abraham
Morris, he again tendered the half dollar, saying, "I want an extract
from thy docket, in the case of this man's wife. Here is the lawful fee
for it. Please give it to me."
This quiet perseverance deprived the excited magistrate of what little
patience he had left. He took the importunate petitioner by the
shoulders, pushed him into the street, and shut the door.
Friend Hopper then applied to Jacob Rush, President of the Court of
Common Pleas for a writ of _habeas corpus._ The woman was brought before
him, and when he had heard the particulars of the case, and examined her
deed of manumission, he immediately discharged her, to the great joy of
herself and husband.
Friend Hopper thought it might be a useful lesson for Mr. Bussier to
learn that his "little brief authority" had boundaries which could not
be passed with impunity. He accordingly had him indicted for assault
and battery. He and his political friends were a good deal ashamed of
his conduct, and finally, after many delays in bringing on the trial,
and various attempts to hush up the matter, Mr. Bussier called upon
Friend Hopper to say that he deeply regretted the course he had pursued.
His apology was readily accepted, and the case dismissed; he agreeing to
pay the costs.
THE SLAVE MOTHER.
Gassy was slave to a merchant in Baltimore, by the name of Claggett. She
had reason to believe that her master was about to sell her to a
speculator, who was making up a coffle for the markets of the far South.
The terror felt in view of such a prospect can be understood by slaves
only. She resolved to escape; and watching a favorable opportunity, she
succeeded in reaching the neighborhood of Haddonfield, New Jersey. There
she obtained service in a very respectable family. She was honest,
steady, and industrious, and made many friends by her cheerful, obliging
manners. But her heart was never at rest; for she had left in Baltimore
a babe little more than a year old. She had not belonged to an unusually
severe master; but she had experienced quite enough of the sufferings of
slavery to dread it for her child. Her thoughts dwelt so much on this
painful subject, that her naturally cheerful character became extremely
saddened. She at last determined to make a bold effort to save her
little one from the liability of being sold, like a calf or pig in the
shambles. She went to see Isaac T. Hopper and communicated to him her
plan. He tried to dissuade her; for he considered the project extremely
dangerous, and well nigh hopeless. But the mother's heart yearned for
her babe, and the incessant longing stimulated her courage to incur all
hazards. To Baltimore she went; her pulses throbbing hard and fast, with
the double excitement of hope and fear. She arrived safely, and went
directly to the house of a colored family, old friends of hers, in whom
she could confide with perfect safety. To her great joy, she found that
they approved her plan, and were ready to assist her. Arrangements were
soon made to convey the child to a place about twenty miles from
Baltimore, where it would be well taken care of, till the mother could
find a safe opportunity to remove it to New Jersey.
Before she had time to take all the steps necessary to insure success in
this undertaking, her master was informed of her being in the city, and
sent constables in pursuit of her. Luckily, her friends were apprized of
this in season to give her warning; and her own courage and ingenuity
proved adequate to the emergency. She disguised herself in sailor's
clothes, and walked boldly to the Philadelphia boat. There she walked
up and down the deck, with her arms folded, smoking a cigar, and
occasionally passing and repassing the constables who had been sent on
board in search of her. These men, having watched till the last moment
for the arrival of a colored woman answering to her description, took
their departure. The boat started, and brought the courageous mother
safely to Philadelphia, where Friend Hopper and others rejoiced over the
history of her hair-breadth escape.
A few weeks after, she went to the place where her child had been left,
and succeeded in bringing it safely away. For a short time, her
happiness seemed to be complete; but when the first flush of joy and
thankfulness had subsided, she began to be harassed with continual fears
lest she and her child should be arrested in some evil hour, and carried
back into slavery. By unremitting industry, and very strict economy, she
strove to lay by money enough to purchase their freedom. She had made
friends by her good conduct and obliging ways, while her maternal
affection and enterprising character excited a good deal of interest
among those acquainted with her history. Donations were occasionally
added to her earnings, and a sum was soon raised sufficient to
accomplish her favorite project. Isaac T. Hopper entered into
negotiation with her master, and succeeded in obtaining manumission for
her and her child.
COLONEL RIDGELEY'S SLAVE.
A slave escaped from Colonel Ridgeley, who resided in the southern part
of Virginia. He went to Philadelphia, and remained there undiscovered
for several years. But he was never quite free from anxiety, lest in
some unlucky hour, he should be arrested and carried back to bondage.
When he had laid up some money, he called upon Isaac T. Hopper to assist
him in buying the free use of his own limbs. A negotiation was opened
with Col. Ridgeley, who agreed to take two hundred dollars for the
fugitive, and appointed a time to come to Philadelphia to arrange the
business. But instead of keeping his agreement honorably, he went to
that city several weeks before the specified time, watched for his
bondman, seized him, and conveyed him to Friend Hopper's office. When
the promised two hundred dollars were offered, he refused to accept
"Why, that is the sum thou hast agreed upon," said Friend Hopper.
"I know that," replied the Colonel; "but I won't take it now. He was the
best servant I ever had. I can sell him for one thousand dollars in
Virginia. Under present circumstances, I will take five hundred dollars
for him, and not one cent less."
After considerable discussion, Friend Hopper urged him to allow his
bondman until ten o'clock next morning, to see what could be done among
his friends; and he himself gave a written obligation that the man
should be delivered up to him at that hour, in case he could not procure
five hundred dollars to purchase his freedom.
When the master was gone, Friend Hopper said to the alarmed fugitive,
"There now remains but one way for thee to obtain thy freedom. As to
raising five hundred dollars, that is out of the question. But if thou
wilt be prompt and resolute, and do precisely as I tell thee, I think
thou canst get off safely."
"I will do anything for freedom," replied the bondman; "for I have made
up my mind, come what may, that I never will go back into slavery."
"Very well then," rejoined his friend. "Don't get frightened when the
right moment comes to act; but keep thy wits about thee, and do as I
tell thee. Thy master will come here to-morrow at ten o'clock, according
to appointment. I must deliver thee up to him, and receive back the
obligation for one thousand dollars, which I have given him. Do thou
stand with thy back against the door, which opens from this room into
the parlor. When he has returned the paper to me, open the door
quickly, lock it on the inside, and run through the parlor into the
back-yard. There is a wall there eight feet high, with spikes at the
top. Thou wilt find a clothes-horse leaning against it, to help thee up.
When thou hast mounted, kick the clothes-horse down behind thee, drop on
the other side of the wall, and be off." The premises were then shown to
him, and he received minute directions through what alleys and streets
he had better pass, and at what house he could find a temporary refuge.
Col. Ridgeley came the next morning, at the appointed hour, and brought
a friend to stand sentinel at the street door, lest the slave should
attempt to rush out. It did not occur to him that there was any danger
of his running _in_.
"We have not been able to raise the five hundred dollars," said Friend
Hopper; "and here is thy man, according to agreement."
The Colonel gave back his obligation for one thousand dollars; and the
instant it left his hand, the fugitive passed into the parlor. The
master sprang over the counter after him, but found the door locked.
Before he could get to the back yard by another door, the wall was
scaled, the clothes-horse thrown down, and the fugitive was beyond his
reach. Of course, he returned very much disappointed and enraged;
declaring his firm belief that a trick had been played upon him
purposely. After he had given vent to his anger some little time, Friend
Hopper asked for a private interview with him. When they were alone
together in the parlor, he said, "I admit this was an intentional trick;
but I had what seemed to me good reasons for resorting to it. In the
first place, thou didst not keep the agreement made with me, but sought
to gain an unfair advantage. In the next place, I knew that man was thy
own son; and I think any person who is so unfeeling as to make traffic
of his own flesh and blood, deserves to be tricked out of the chance to
"What if he is my son?" rejoined the Virginian. "I've as good a right to
sell my own flesh and blood as that of any other person. If I choose to
do it, it is none of your business." He opened the door, and beckoning
to his friend, who was in waiting, he said, "Hopper admits this was all
a trick to set the slave free." Then turning to Friend Hopper, he added,
"You admit it was a trick, don't you?"
"Thou and I will talk that matter over by ourselves," he replied. "The
presence of a third person is not always convenient."
The Colonel went off in a violent passion, and forgetting that he was
not in Virginia, he rushed into the houses of several colored people,
knocked them about, overturned their beds, and broke their furniture,
in search of the fugitive. Being unable to obtain any information
concerning him, he cooled down considerably, and went to inform Friend
Hopper that he would give a deed of manumission for two hundred dollars;
but his offer was rejected.
"Why that was your own proposal!" vociferated the Colonel.
"Very true," he replied; "and I offered thee the money; but thou refused
to take it."
After storming awhile, the master went off to obtain legal advice from
the Hon. John Sergeant. Meanwhile, several of the colored people had
entered a complaint against him for personal abuse, and damage done to
their furniture. He was obliged to give bonds for his appearance at the
next court, to answer their accusations. This was a grievous humiliation
for a proud Virginian, who had been educated to think that colored
people had no civil rights. In this unpleasant dilemma, his lawyer
advised him to give a deed of manumission for one hundred and fifty
dollars; promising to exert his influence to have the mortifying suits
The proposed terms were accepted, and the money promptly paid by the
slave from his own earnings. But when Mr. Sergeant proposed that the
suits for assault and battery should be withdrawn, Friend Hopper
replied, "I have no authority to dismiss them."
"They will be dismissed if you advise it," rejoined the lawyer; "and if
you will promise to do it, I shall be perfectly satisfied."
"These colored people have been very badly treated," answered Friend
Hopper. "If the aggressor wants to settle the affair, he had better go
to them and offer some equivalent for the trouble he has given."
The lawyer replied, "When he agreed to manumit the man for one hundred
and fifty dollars, he expected these suits would be dismissed, of
course, as a part of the bargain. What sum do you think these people
will take to withdraw them?"
Friend Hopper said he thought they would do it for one hundred and fifty
"I will pay it," replied Mr. Sergeant; "for Colonel Ridgeley is very
anxious to return home."
Thus the money paid for the deed of manumission was returned. Forty
dollars were distributed among the colored people, to repay the damage
done to their property. After some trifling incidental expenses had been
deducted, the remainder was returned to the emancipated slave; who thus
obtained his freedom for about fifty dollars, instead of the sum
About the year 1826, a Marylander, by the name of Solomon Low, arrested
a fugitive slave in Philadelphia, and took him to the office of an
alderman to obtain the necessary authority for carrying him back into
bondage. Finding the magistrate gone to dinner, they placed the colored
man in the entry, while Mr. Low and his companions guarded the door.
Some of the colored people soon informed Isaac T. Hopper of these
circumstances, and he hastened to the office. Observing the state of
things there, he concluded it would be no difficult matter to give the
colored man a chance to escape. He stepped up to the men at the door,
and demanded in a peremptory manner by what authority they were holding
that man in duress. Mr. Low replied, "He is my slave."
"This is strange conduct," rejoined Friend Hopper. "Who can tell whether
he is thy slave or not? What proof is there that you are not a band of
kidnappers? Dost thou suppose the laws of Pennsylvania tolerate such
These charges arrested the attention of Mr. Low and his companions, who
turned round to answer the speaker. The slave, seeing their backs toward
him for an instant, seized that opportunity to rush out; and he had run
two or three rods before they missed him. They immediately raised the
cry of "Stop Thief! Stop Thief!" An Irishman, who joined in the
pursuit, arrested the fugitive and brought him back to his master.
Friend Hopper remonstrated with him; saying, "The man is not a thief.
They claim him for a slave, and he was running for liberty. How wouldst
thou like to be made a slave?"
The kind-hearted Hibernian replied, "Then they lied; for they said he
was a thief. If he is a slave, I'm sorry I stopped him. However, I will
put him in as good a condition as I found him." So saying, he went near
the man who had the fugitive in custody, and seized him by the collar
with a sudden jerk, that threw him on the pavement. The slave instantly
started, and ran at his utmost speed, again followed by the cry of "Stop
Thief!" Having run some distance, and being nearly out of breath, he
darted into the shop of a watch-maker, named Samuel Mason, who
immediately closed and fastened his door, so that the crowd could not
follow him. The fugitive passed out of the back door, and was never
The disappointed master brought an action against Samuel Mason for
rescuing his slave. Charles J. Ingersoll and his brother Joseph, two
accomplished lawyers of Philadelphia, conducted the trial for him, with
zeal and ingenuity worthy of a better cause. Isaac T. Hopper was
summoned as a witness, and in the course of examination he was asked
what course members of the Society of Friends adopted when a fugitive
slave came to them. He replied, "I am not willing to answer for any one
"Well," said Mr. Ingersoll, "what would _you_ do in such a case? Would
you deliver him to his master?
"Indeed I would not!" answered the Friend. "My conscience would not
permit me to do it. It would be a great crime; because it would be
disobedience to my own dearest convictions of right. I should never
expect to enjoy an hour of peace afterward. I would do for a fugitive
slave whatever I should like to have done for myself, under similar
circumstances. If he asked my protection, I would extend it to him to
the utmost of my power. If he was hungry, I would feed him. If he was
naked, I would clothe him. If he needed advice, I would give such as I
thought would be most beneficial to him."
The cause was tried before Judge Bushrod Washington, nephew of General
Washington. Though a slaveholder himself, he manifested no partiality
during the trial, which continued several days, with able arguments on
both sides. The counsel for the claimant maintained that Samuel Mason
prevented the master from regaining his slave, by shutting his door, and
refusing to open it. The counsel for the defendant replied that there
was much valuable and brittle property in the watchmaker's shop, which
would have been liable to robbery and destruction, if a promiscuous mob
had been allowed to rush in. Judge Washington summed up the evidence
very clearly to the jury, who after retiring for deliberation a
considerable time, returned into court, declaring that they could not
agree upon a verdict, and probably never should agree. They were ordered
out again, and kept together till the court adjourned, when they were
At the succeeding term, the case was tried again, with renewed energy
and zeal. But the jury, after being kept together ten days, were
discharged without being able to agree upon a verdict. Some, who were
originally in favor of the defendant, became weary of their long
confinement, and consented to go over to the slaveholder's side; but one
of them, named Benjamin Thaw, declared that he would eat his Christmas
dinner in the jury-room, before he would consent to such a flagrant act
His patience held out till the court adjourned. Consequently a third
trial became necessary; and the third jury brought in a verdict in favor
of the watchmaker.
The expenses of these suits were estimated at seventeen hundred dollars.
Solomon Low was in limited circumstances; and this expenditure in
prosecuting an innocent man was said to have caused his failure soon
THE DISGUISED SLAVEHOLDER.
A colored woman and her son were slaves to a man in East Jersey. She had
two sons in Philadelphia, who had been free several years, and her
present master was unacquainted with them. In 1827, she and her younger
son escaped, and went to live in Philadelphia. Her owner, knowing she
had free sons in that city, concluded as a matter of course that she had
sought their protection. A few weeks after her flight, he followed her,
and having assumed Quaker costume, went to the house of one of her sons.
He expressed great interest for the woman, and said he wished to obtain
an interview with her for her benefit. His friendly garb and kind
language completely deceived her son, and he told him that his mother
was then staying at his brother's house, which was not far off. Having
obtained this information, the slaveholder procured a constable and
immediately went to the place described. Fortunately, the son was at
home, and it being warm weather he sat near the open door. The mother
was seated at a chamber window, and saw a constable approaching the
house, with a gentleman in Quaker costume, whom she at once recognized
as her master. She gave the alarm to her son, who instantly shut the
door and fastened it. The master, being refused admittance, placed a
guard there, while he went to procure a search-warrant. These
proceedings attracted the attention of colored neighbors, and a crowd
soon gathered about the house. They seized the man who guarded the door,
and held him fast, while the woman and her fugitive son rushed out. It
was dusk, and the uncertain light favored their escape. They ran about a
mile, and took refuge with a colored family in Locust-street. The
watchman soon got released from the colored people who held him, and
succeeded in tracing the woman to her new retreat, where he again
mounted guard. The master returned meanwhile, and having learned the
circumstances, went to the magistrate to obtain another warrant to
search the house in Locust-street.
At this stage of the affair, Friend Hopper was summoned, and immediately
went to the rescue, accompanied by one of his sons, about sixteen years
old. He found the woman and her son stowed away in a closet, exceedingly
terrified. He assured them they would be quite as safe on the
mantel-piece, as they would be in that closet; that their being found
concealed would be regarded as the best evidence that they were the
persons sought for. Knowing it was dangerous for them to remain in that
house, he told them of a plan he had formed, on the spur of the moment.
After giving them careful instructions how to proceed, he left them and
requested that the street door might be opened for him. A crowd
immediately rushed in, as he had foreseen would be the case. He affected
to be greatly displeased, and ordered the men of the house to turn all
the intruders out. They obeyed him; and among the number turned out were
the two fugitives. It was dark, and in the confusion, the watchman on
guard could not distinguish them among the multitude.
Friend Hopper had hastily consigned them to his son, with instructions
to take them to his house; and the watchman, seeing that he himself
remained about the premises, took it for granted that the fugitives had
As soon as it was practicable, Friend Hopper returned home, where he
found the woman and her son in a state of great agitation. He
immediately sent her to a place of greater safety, and gave the son a
letter to a farmer thirty miles up in the country. He went directly to
the river Schuylkill, but was afraid to cross the bridge, lest some
person should be stationed there to arrest him. He accordingly walked
along the margin of the river till he found a small boat, in which he
crossed the stream. Following the directions he had received, he arrived
at the farmer's house, where he had a kindly welcome, and obtained
The master being unable to recapture his slaves, called upon Isaac T.
Hopper to inquire if he knew anything about them. He coolly replied, "I
believe they are doing very well. From what I hear, I judge it will not
be necessary to give thyself any further trouble on their account."
"There is no use in trying to capture a runaway slave in Philadelphia,"
rejoined the master. "I believe the devil himself could not catch them
when they once get here."
"That is very likely," answered Friend Hopper. "But I think he would
have less difficulty in catching the masters; being so much more
familiar with them."
Sixty dollars had already been expended in vain; and the slave-holder,
having relinquished all hope of tracing the fugitives, finally agreed to
manumit the woman for fifty dollars, and her son for seventy-five
dollars. These sums were advanced by two citizens friendly to the
colored people, and the emancipated slaves repaid them by faithful
THE SLAVE OF DR. RICH.
In the autumn of 1828, Dr. Rich of Maryland came to Philadelphia with
his wife, who was the daughter of an Episcopal clergyman in that city,
by the name of Wiltbank. She brought a slave to wait upon her, intending
to remain at her father's until after the birth of her child, which was
soon expected to take place. When they had been there a few months, the
slave was informed by some colored acquaintance that she was free in
consequence of being brought to Philadelphia. She called to consult with
Isaac T. Hopper, and seemed very much disappointed to hear that a
residence of six months was necessary to entitle her to freedom; that
her master was doubtless aware of that circumstance, and would probably
guard against it.
After some minutes of anxious reflection, she said, "Then there is
nothing left for me to do but to run away; for I am determined never to
go back to Maryland."
Friend Hopper inquired whether she thought it would be right to leave
her mistress without any one to attend upon her, in the situation she
then was. She replied that she felt no scruples on that point, for her
master was wealthy, and could hire as many servants as he pleased.
Finding her mind entirely made up on the subject, he gave her such
instructions as seemed suited to the occasion.
The next morning she was not to be found; and Dr. Rich went in search of
her, with his father-in-law, Mr. Wiltbank. Having frightened some
ignorant colored people where she visited, by threats of prosecuting
them for harboring a runaway, they confessed that she had gone from
their house to Isaac T. Hopper. Mr. Wiltbank accordingly waited upon
him, and after relating the circumstances of the case, inquired whether
he had seen the fugitive. In reply, he made a frank statement of the
interview he had with her, and of her fixed determination to obtain her
freedom. The clergyman reproached her with ingratitude, and said she had
always been treated with great kindness.
"The woman herself gives a very different account of her treatment,"
replied Friend Hopper; "but be that as it may, I cannot blame her for
wishing to obtain her liberty."
He asked if Friend Hopper knew where she then was; and he answered that
he did not. "Could you find her, if you tried?" inquired he.
"I presume I could do it very easily," rejoined the Quaker. "The colored
people never wish to secrete themselves from me; for they know I am
their true friend."
Mr. Wiltbank then said, "If you will cause her to be brought to your
house, Dr. Rich and myself will come here at eight o'clock this evening.
You will then hear her ask her master's pardon, acknowledge the kindness
with which she has always been treated, and express her readiness to go
home with him."
Friend Hopper indignantly replied, "I have no doubt that fear might
induce her to profess all thou hast said. But what trait hast thou
discovered in my character, that leads thee to suppose I would be such
a hypocrite as to betray the confidence this poor woman has reposed in
me, by placing her in the power of her master, in the way thou hast
Mr. Wiltbank then requested that a message might be conveyed to the
woman, exhorting her to return, and promising that no notice whatever
would be taken of her offence.
"She shall be informed of thy message, if that will be any satisfaction
to thee," replied Friend Hopper; "but I am perfectly sure she will never
voluntarily return into slavery."
Dr. Rich and Mr. Wiltbank called in the evening, and were told the
message had been delivered to the woman, but she refused to return. "She
is in your house now," exclaimed Dr. Rich. "I can prove it; and if you
don't let me see her, I will commence a suit against you to-morrow, for
harboring my slave."
"I believe Solomon Low resides in thy neighborhood," said Friend Hopper.
"Art thou acquainted with him?"
Being answered in the affirmative, he said, "Solomon Low brought three
such suits as thou hast threatened. They cost him seventeen hundred
dollars, which I heard he was unable to pay. But perhaps thou hast
seventeen hundred dollars to spare?"
Dr. Rich answered that he could well afford to lose that sum.
"Very well," rejoined his opponent. "There are lawyers enough who need
it, and still more who would be glad to have it."
Finding it alike impossible to coax or intimidate the resolute Quaker,
they withdrew. About eleven o'clock at night, some of the family
informed Friend Hopper that there was a man continually walking back and
forth in front of the house. He went out and accosted him thus: "Friend,
art thou watching my house?" When the stranger replied that he was, he
said, "It is very kind in thee; but I really do not think there is any
occasion for thy services. I am quite satisfied with the watchmen
employed by the public."
The man answered gruffly, "I have taken my stand, and I intend to keep
Friend Hopper told him he had no objection; and he was about to re-enter
the house, when he observed Dr. Rich, who was so wrapped up in a large
cloak, that at first he did not recognize him. He exclaimed, "Why
doctor, art thou here! Is it possible thou art parading the streets so
late in the night, at this cold season of the year? Now, from motives of
kindness, I do assure thee thy slave is not in my house. To save thee
from exposing thy health by watching at this inclement season, I will
give thee leave to search the house."
The doctor replied, "I shall obtain a warrant in the morning, and search
it with the proper officer."
"There appear to be several on the watch," said Friend Hopper; "and it
surely is not necessary for all of them to be out in the cold at the
same time. If thou wilt be responsible that nothing shall be stolen,
thou art welcome to use my parlor as a watch-house." This offer was
declined with freezing civility, and Friend Hopper returned to his
dwelling. Passing through the kitchen, he observed two colored domestics
talking together in an under tone, apparently planning something which
made them very merry. Judging from some words he overheard, that they
had a mischievous scheme on foot, he resolved to watch their movements
without letting them know that he noticed them. One of them put on an
old cloak and bonnet, opened the front door cautiously, looked up the
street and down the street, but saw nobody. The watchers had seen the
dark face the moment it peeped out, and they were lying in ambush to
observe her closely. After a minute of apparent hesitation, she rushed
into the street and ran with all speed. They joined in hot pursuit, and
soon overtook her. She pretended to be greatly alarmed, and called aloud
for a watchman. The offenders were arrested and brought back to the
house with the girl. Friend Hopper explained that these men had been
watching his house, supposing a fugitive slave to be secreted there; and
that they had mistaken one of his domestics for the person they were in
search of. After laughing a little at the joke practised upon them, he
proposed that they should be set at liberty; and they were accordingly
The next morning, as soon as it was light, he invited the watchers to
come in and warm themselves, but they declined. After sunrise, they all
dispersed, except two. When breakfast was ready, he urged them to come
in and partake; telling them that one could keep guard while the other
was eating. But they replied that Dr. Rich had ordered them to hold no
communication with him.
Being firmly persuaded that the slave was in the house, they kept sentry
several days and nights. For fear she might escape by the back way, a
messenger was sent to Mr. Warrence, who occupied a building in the rear,
offering to pay him for his trouble if he would watch the premises in
that direction. His wife happened to overhear the conversation; and
having a pitcher of scalding water in her hand, she ran out saying, "Do
you propose to hire my husband to watch neighbor Hopper's premises for a
runaway slave? Go about your business! or I will throw this in your
When Dr. Rich called again, he was received politely, and the first
inquiry was how he had succeeded in his efforts to procure a
search-warrant. He replied, "The magistrate refused to grant one."
"Perhaps Joseph Reed, the Recorder, would oblige thee in that matter,"
said Friend Hopper.
The answer was, "I have been to him, and he declines to interfere."
It was then suggested that it might be well to retain a lawyer with a
portion of the seventeen hundred dollars he said he had to spare.
"I have been to Mr. Broome," rejoined the doctor. "He tells me that you
understand the law in such cases as well as he does; and he advises me
to let the matter alone."
"I will give thee permission to search my house," said Friend Hopper;
"and I have more authority in that matter than any magistrate, judge, or
lawyer, in the city."
"That is very gentlemanly," replied the doctor; "but I infer from it
that the woman is not in your house."
He was again assured that she was not; and they fell into some general
discourse on the subject of slavery. "Suppose you came to Maryland and
lost your horse," said the Doctor. "If you called upon me, and I told
you that I knew where he was, but would not inform you, would you
consider yourself treated kindly?" "In such a case, I should not
consider myself well treated," replied Friend Hopper. "But in this part
of the country, we make a distinction between horses and men. We believe
that human beings have souls."
"That makes no difference," rejoined the Doctor. "You confess that you
could find my slave if you were so disposed; and I consider it your duty
to tell me where she is." "I will do it when I am of the same opinion,"
replied Friend Hopper; "but till then thou must excuse me."
The fugitive was protected by a colored man named Hill, who soon
obtained a situation for her as servant in a respectable country family,
where she was kindly treated. In the course of a year or two, she
returned to Philadelphia, married a steady industrious man, and lived
Mr. Hill had a very revengeful temper. One of his colored neighbors
brought suits against him for criminal conduct, and recovered heavy
damages. From that time he seemed to hate people of his own complexion,
and omitted no opportunity to injure them. The woman he befriended, when
he was in a better state of mind, had been married nine or ten years,
and had long ceased to think of danger, when he formed the wicked
project of making a little money by betraying her to her master.
Accordingly he sought her residence accompanied by one of those
wretches who make a business of capturing slaves. When he entered her
humble abode, he found her busy at the wash-tub. Rejoiced to see the man
who had rendered her such essential service in time of need, she threw
her arms about his neck, exclaiming, "O, uncle Hill, how glad I am to
see you!" She hastily set aside her tub, wiped up the floor, and
thinking there was nothing in the house good enough for her benefactor,
she went out to purchase some little luxuries. Hill recommended a
particular shop, and proposed to accompany her. The slave-hunter, who
had been left in the street, received a private signal, and the moment
she entered the shop, he pounced upon her. Before her situation could be
made known to Isaac T. Hopper, she was removed to Baltimore. The last he
ever heard of her she was in prison there, awaiting her day of sale,
when she was to be transported to New-Orleans.
He used to say he did not know which was the most difficult for his mind
to conceive of, the cruel depravity manifested by the ignorant colored
man, or the unscrupulous selfishness of the slaveholder, a man of
education, a husband and a father, who could consent to use such a tool
for such a purpose.
Many more narratives of similar character might be added; for I think he
estimated at more than one thousand the number of cases in which he had
been employed for fugitives, in one way or another, during his forty
years' residence in Philadelphia. But enough have been told to
illustrate the active benevolence, uncompromising boldness, and ready
wit, which characterized this friend of humanity. His accurate knowledge
of all laws connected with slavery was so proverbial, that magistrates
and lawyers were generally averse to any collision with him on such
In 1810, Benjamin Donahue of Delaware applied to Mr. Barker, mayor of
Philadelphia, to assist him in recovering a fugitive, with whose place
of residence he was perfectly sure Isaac T. Hopper was acquainted. After
a brief correspondence with Friend Hopper, the mayor said to Mr.
Donahue, "We had better drop this business, like a hot potato; for Mr.
Hopper knows more law in such cases as this, than you and I put
He would often resort to the most unexpected expedients. Upon one
occasion, a slave case was brought before Judge Rush, brother of Dr.
Benjamin Rush. It seemed likely to terminate in favor of the
slaveholder; but Friend Hopper thought he observed that the judge
wavered a little. He seized that moment to inquire, "Hast thou not
recently published a legal opinion, in which it is distinctly stated
that thou wouldst never seek to sustain a human law, if thou wert
convinced that it conflicted with any law in the Bible?"
"I did publish such a statement," replied Judge Rush; "and I am ready
to abide by it; for in all cases, I consider the divine law above the
Friend Hopper drew from his pocket a small Bible, which he had brought
into court for the express purpose, and read in loud distinct tones the
following verses: "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant
which is escaped from his master unto thee: He shall dwell with thee,
even among you, in that place which he shall choose, in one of thy
gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him." Deut. 23:
The slaveholder smiled; supposing, this appeal to old Hebrew law would
be considered as little applicable to modern times, as the command to
stone a man to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. But when the
judge asked for the book, read the sentence for himself, seemed
impressed by it, and adjourned the decision of the case, he walked out
of the court-house muttering, "I believe in my soul the old fool _will_
let him off on that ground." And sure enough, the slave was discharged.
Friend Hopper's quickness in slipping through loop-holes, and dodging
round corners, rendered him exceedingly troublesome and provoking to
slaveholders. He often kept cases pending in court three or four years,
till the claimants were completely wearied out, and ready to settle on
any terms. His acute perception of the slightest flaw in a document, or
imperfection in evidence, always attracted notice in the courts he
attended. Judges and lawyers often remarked to him, "Mr. Hopper, it is a
great pity you were not educated for the legal profession. You have such
a judicial mind." Mr. William Lewis, an eminent lawyer, offered him
every facility for studying the profession. "Come to my office and use
my library whenever you please," said he; "or I will obtain a clerkship
in the courts for you, if you prefer that. Your mind is peculiarly
adapted to legal investigation, and if you would devote yourself to it,
you might become a judge before long."
But Friend Hopper could never overcome his scruples about entering on a
career of worldly ambition. He thought he had better keep humble, and
resist temptations that might lead him out of the plainness and
simplicity of the religious Society to which he belonged.
As for the colored people of Philadelphia, they believed in his
infallibility, as devout Catholics believe in the Pope. They trusted
him, and he trusted them; and it is remarkable in how few instances he
found his confidence misplaced. The following anecdote will illustrate
the nature of the relation existing between him and that much abused
race. Prince Hopkins, a wood-sawyer of Philadelphia, was claimed as a
fugitive slave by John Kinsmore of Baltimore. When Friend Hopper went
to the magistrate's office to inquire into the affair, he found the poor
fellow in tears. He asked for a private interview, and the alderman gave
his consent. When they were alone, Prince confessed that he was the
slave in question. In the course of his narrative, it appeared that he
had been sent into Pennsylvania by his mistress, and had resided there
with a relative of hers two years. Friend Hopper told him to dry up his
tears, for it was in his power to protect him. When he returned to the
office, he informed the magistrate that Prince Hopkins was a free man;
having resided in Pennsylvania, with the consent of his mistress, a much
longer time than the law required. Mr. Kinsmore was irritated, and
demanded that the colored man should be imprisoned till he could obtain
"Let him go and finish the wood he was sawing," said Friend Hopper. "I
will be responsible for his appearance whenever he is wanted. If the
magistrate will give me a commitment, Prince will call at my house after
he has finished sawing his wood, and I will send him to jail with it. He
can remain there, until the facts I have stated are clearly proved."
The slave-holder and his lawyer seemed to regard this proposition as an
insult. They railed at Friend Hopper for his "impertinent interference,"
and for the absurd idea of trusting "that nigger" under such
He replied, "I would rather trust 'that nigger,' as you call him, than
either of you." So saying, he marched off with the magistrate's mittimus
in his pocket.
When Prince Hopkins had finished his job of sawing, he called for the
commitment, and carried it to the jailor, who locked him up.
Satisfactory evidence of his freedom was soon obtained, and he was
The colored people appeared to better advantage with their undoubted
friend, than they possibly could have done where a barrier of prejudice
existed. They were not afraid to tell him their experiences in their own
way, with natural pathos, here and there dashed with fun. A
fine-looking, athletic fugitive, telling him his story one day, said,
"When I first run away, I met some people who were dreadful afraid I
couldn't take care of myself. But thinks I to myself I took care of
master and myself too for a long spell; and I guess I can make out."
With a roguish expression laughing all over his face, he added, "I don't
look as if I was suffering for a master; do I, Mr. Hopper?"
Though slaveholders had abundant reason to dread Isaac T. Hopper, as
they would a blister of Spanish flies, yet he had no hardness of feeling
toward them, or even toward kidnappers; hateful as he deemed the
system, which produced them both.
In 1801, a sober industrious family of free colored people, living in
Pennsylvania on the borders of Maryland, were attacked in the night by a
band of kidnappers. The parents were aged, and needed the services of
their children for support. Knowing that the object of the marauders was
to carry them off and sell them to slave speculators, the old father
defended them to the utmost of his power. In the struggle, he was
wounded by a pistol, and one of his daughters received a shot, which
caused her death. One of the sons, who was very ill in bed, was beaten
and bruised till he was covered with blood. But mangled and crippled as
he was, he contrived to drag himself to a neighboring barn, and hide
himself under the straw.
If such lawless violence had been practised upon any white citizens, the
Executive of Pennsylvania would have immediately offered a high reward
for the apprehension of the aggressors; but the victims belonged to a
despised caste, and nothing was done to repair their wrongs. Friend
Hopper felt the blood boil in his veins when he heard of this cruel
outrage, and his first wish was to have the offenders punished; but as
soon as he had time to reflect, he said, "I cannot find it in my heart
to urge this subject upon the notice of the Executive; for death would
be the penalty if those wretches were convicted."
There were many highly respectable individuals among the colored people
of Philadelphia. Richard Allen, who had been a slave, purchased freedom
with the proceeds of his own industry. He married, and established
himself as a shoemaker in that city, where he acquired considerable
property, and built a three-story brick house. He was the principal
agent in organizing the first congregation of colored people in
Philadelphia, and was their pastor to the day of his death, without
asking or receiving any compensation. During the latter part of his
life, he was Bishop of their Methodist Episcopal Church. Absalom Jones,
a much respected colored man, was his colleague. In 1793, when the
yellow fever was raging, it was extremely difficult to procure
attendants for the sick on any terms; and the few who would consent to
render service, demanded exorbitant prices. But Bishop Allen and Rev.
Mr. Jones never hesitated to go wherever they could be useful; and with
them, the compensation was always a secondary consideration. When the
pestilence had abated, the mayor sent them a certificate expressing his
approbation of their conduct. But even these men, whose worth commanded
respect, were not safe from the legalized curse that rests upon their
hunted race. A Southern speculator arrested Bishop Allen, and claimed
him as a fugitive slave, whom he had bought running. The constable
employed to serve the warrant was ashamed to drag the good man through
the streets; and he merely said, in a respectful tone, "Mr. Allen, you
will soon come down to Alderman Todd's office, will you?"
The fugitive, whom they were seeking, had absconded only four years
previous; and everybody in Philadelphia, knew that Richard Allen had
been living there more than twenty years. Yet the speculator and his
sons swore unblushingly that he was the identical slave they had
purchased. Mr. Allen thought he ought to have some redress for this
outrage; "For," said he, "if it had not been for the kindness of the
officer, I might have been dragged through the streets like a felon."
Isaac T. Hopper was consulted, and a civil suit commenced. Eight hundred
dollars bail was demanded, and the speculator, being unable to procure
it, was lodged in the debtor's prison. When he had been there three
months, Mr. Allen caused him to be discharged; saying he did not wish to
persecute the man, but merely to teach him not to take up free people
again, for the purpose of carrying them into slavery.
The numerous instances of respectability among the colored people were
doubtless to be attributed in part to the protecting influence extended
over them by the Quakers. But even in those days, the Society of
Friends were by no means all free from prejudice against color; and in
later times, I think they have not proved themselves at all superior to
other sects in their feelings and practice on this subject. Friend
Hopper, Joseph Carpenter, and the few who resemble them in this respect,
are _exceptions_ to the general character of modern Quakers, not the
_rule._ The following very characteristic anecdote shows how completely
Isaac was free from prejudice on account of complexion. It is an unusual
thing to see a colored Quaker; for the African temperament is fervid and
impressible, and requires more exciting forms of religion. David Maps
and his wife, a very worthy couple, were the only colored members of the
Yearly Meeting to which Isaac T. Hopper belonged. On the occasion of the
annual gathering in Philadelphia, they came with other members of the
Society to share the hospitality of his house. A question arose in the
family whether Friends of white complexion would object to eating with
them. "Leave that to me," said the master of the household. Accordingly
when the time arrived, he announced it thus: "Friends, dinner is now
ready. David Maps and his wife will come with me; and as I like to have
all accommodated, those who object to dining with them can wait till
they have done." The guests smiled, and all seated themselves at the
The conscientiousness so observable in several anecdotes of Isaac's
boyhood was strikingly manifested in his treatment of a colored printer,
named Kane. This man was noted for his profane swearing. Friend Hopper
had expostulated with him concerning this bad habit, without producing
the least effect. One day, he encountered him in the street, pouring
forth a volley of terrible oaths, enough to make one shudder. Believing
him incurable by gentler means, he took him before a magistrate, who
fined him for blasphemy.
He did not see the man again for a long time; but twenty years
afterward, when he was standing at his door, Kane passed by. The
Friend's heart was touched by his appearance; for he looked old, feeble,
and poor. He stepped out, shook hands with him, and said in kindly
tones, "Dost thou remember me, and how I caused thee to be fined for
"Yes, indeed I do," he replied. "I remember how many dollars I paid, as
well as if it were but yesterday."
"Did it do thee any good;" inquired Friend Hopper.
"Never a bit," answered he. "It only made me mad to have my money taken
The poor man was invited to walk into the house. The interest was
calculated on the fine, and every cent repaid to him. "I meant it for
thy good," said the benevolent Quaker; "and I am sorry that I only
provoked thee." Kane's countenance changed at once, and tears began to
flow. He took the money with many thanks, and was never again heard to
Friend Hopper's benevolence was by no means confined to colored people.
Wherever there was good to be done, his heart and hand were ready. From
various anecdotes in proof of this, I select the following.
John was an Irish orphan, whose parents died of yellow fever, when he
was very young. He obtained a scanty living by doing errands for
cartmen. In the year 1800, when he was about fourteen years old, there
was a long period during which he could obtain scarcely any employment.
Being without friends, and in a state of extreme destitution, he was
tempted to enter a shop and steal two dollars from the drawer. He was
pursued and taken. Isaac T. Hopper, who was one of the inspectors of the
prison at that time, saw a crowd gathered, and went to inquire the
cause. The poor boy's history was soon told. Friend Hopper liked the
expression of his countenance, and pitied his forlorn condition. When he
was brought up for trial, he accompanied him, and pleaded with the
judge in his favor. He urged that the poor child's education had been
entirely neglected, and consequently he was more to be pitied than
blamed. If sent to prison, he would in all probability become hardened,
if not utterly ruined. He said if the judge would allow him to take
charge of the lad, he would promise to place him in good hands, where he
would be out of the way of temptation. The judge granted his request,
and John was placed in prison merely for a few days, till Friend Hopper
could provide for him. He proposed to his father to have the boy bound
to him. The old gentleman hesitated at first, on account of his
neglected education and wild way of living; but pity for the orphan
overcame his scruples, and he agreed to take him. John lived with him
till he was twenty-one years of age, and was remarkably faithful and
industrious. But about two years after, a neighbor came one night to
arrest him for stealing a horse. Old Mr. Hopper assured him it was not
possible John had done such a thing; that during all the time he had
lived in his family he had proved himself entirely honest and
trustworthy. The neighbor replied that his horse had been taken to
Philadelphia and sold; and the ferryman from Woodbury was ready to swear
that the animal was brought over by Hopper's John, as he was generally
called. John was in bed, but was called up to answer the accusation. He
did not attempt to deny it, but gave up the money at once, and kept
repeating that he did know what made him do it. He was dreadfully
ashamed and distressed. He begged that Friend Isaac would not come to
see him in prison, for he could not look him the face. His anguish of
mind was so great, that when the trial came on, he was emaciated almost
to a skeleton. Old Mr. Hopper went into court and stated the adverse
circumstances of his early life, and his exemplary conduct during nine
years that he had lived in his family. He begged that he might be fined
instead of imprisoned, and offered to pay the fine himself. The
proposition was accepted, and the kind old man took the culprit home.
This lenient treatment completely subdued the last vestige of evil
habits acquired in childhood. He was humble and grateful in the extreme,
and always steady and industrious. He conducted with great propriety
ever afterward, and established such a character for honesty, that the
neighbors far and wide trusted him to carry their produce to market,
receiving a small commission for his trouble. Eventually, he came to own
a small house and farm, where he lived in much comfort and
respectability. He always looked up to Isaac as the friend who had early
raised him from a downward and slippery path; and he was never weary of
manifesting gratitude by every little attention he could devise.
Some one having told Friend Hopper of an apprentice who was cruelly
treated, he caused investigation to be made, and took the lad under his
own protection. As he was much bent upon going to sea, he was placed in
a respectable boarding-house for sailors, till a fitting opportunity
could be found to gratify his inclination. One day, a man in the employ
of this boarding-house brought a bill to be paid for the lad. He was
very ragged, but his manners were those of a gentleman, and his
conversation showed that he had been well educated. His appearance
excited interest in Friend Hopper's mind, and he inquired into his
history. He said his name was Levi Butler; that he was of German
extraction, and had been a wealthy merchant in Baltimore, of the firm of
Butler and Magruder. He married a widow, who had considerable property,
and several children. After her death, he failed in business, and gave
up all his own property, but took the precaution to secure all her
property to her children. His creditors were angry, and tried various
ways to compel him to pay them with his wife's money. He was imprisoned
a long time. He petitioned the Legislature for release, and the
committee before whom the case was brought made a report in his favor,
highly applauding his integrity in not involving his own affairs with
the property belonging to his wife's children, who had been intrusted to
his care. Poverty and persecution had broken down his spirits, and when
he was discharged from prison he left Baltimore and tried to obtain a
situation as clerk in Philadelphia. He did not succeed in procuring
employment. His clothes became thread-bare, and he had no money to
purchase a new suit. In this situation, some people to whom he applied
for employment treated him as if he were an impostor. In a state of
despair he went one day to drown himself. But when he had put some heavy
stones in his pocket to make him sink rapidly, he seemed to hear a voice
calling to him to forbear; and looking up, he saw a man watching him. He
hurried away to avoid questions, and passing by a sailor's
boarding-house, he went in and offered to wait upon the boarders for his
food. They took him upon those terms; and the gentleman who had been
accustomed to ride in his own carriage, and be waited upon by servants,
now roasted oysters and went of errands for common seamen. He was in
this forlorn situation, when accident introduced him to Friend Hopper's
notice. He immediately furnished him with a suit of warm clothes; for
the weather was cold, and his garments thin. He employed him to post up
his account-books, and finding that he did it in a very perfect manner,
he induced several of his friends to employ him in a similar way.
A brighter day was dawning for the unfortunate man, and perhaps he might
have attained to comfortable independence, if his health had not failed.
But he had taken severe colds by thin clothing and exposure to inclement
weather. A rapid consumption came on, and he was soon entirely unable to
work. Under these circumstances, the best Friend Hopper could do for him
was to secure peculiar privileges at the alms-house, and surround him
with, all the little comforts that help to alleviate illness. He visited
him very often, until the day of his death, and his sympathy and kind
attentions were always received with heartfelt gratitude.
THE MUSICAL BOY.
One day when Friend Hopper visited the prison, he found a dark-eyed lad
with a very bright expressive countenance His right side was palsied, so
that the arm hung down useless. Attracted by his intelligent face, he
entered into conversation with him, and found that he had been palsied
from infancy. He had been sent forth friendless into the world from an
alms-house in Maryland. In Philadelphia, he had been committed to prison
as a vagrant, because he drew crowds about him in the street by his
wonderful talent of imitating a hand-organ, merely by whistling tunes
through his fingers. Friend Hopper, who had imbibed the Quaker idea that
music was a useless and frivolous pursuit, said to the boy, "Didst thou
not know it was wrong to spend thy time in that idle manner?"
With ready frankness the young prisoner replied, "No, I did not; and I
should like to hear how _you_ can prove it to be wrong. God has given
you sound limbs. Half of my body is paralyzed, and it is impossible for
me to work as others do. It has pleased God to give me a talent for
music. I do no harm with it. It gives pleasure to myself and others, and
enables me to gain a few coppers to buy my bread. I should like to have
you show me wherein it is wrong."
Without attempting to do so, Friend Hopper suggested that perhaps he had
been committed to prison on account of producing noise and confusion in
"I make no riot," rejoined the youth. "I try to please people by my
tunes; and if the crowd around me begin to be noisy, I quietly walk
Struck with the good sense and sincerity of these answers, Friend Hopper
said to the jailor, "Thou mayest set this lad at liberty. I will be
responsible for it."
The jailer relying on his well-known character, and his intimacy with
Robert Wharton, the mayor, did not hesitate to comply with his request.
At that moment, the mayor himself came in sight, and Friend Hopper said
to the lad, "Step into the next room, and play some of thy best tunes
till I come."
"What's this?" said Mr. Wharton. "Have you got a hand-organ here!"
"Yes," replied Friend Hopper; "and I will show it to thee. It is quite
At first, the mayor could not believe that the sounds he had heard were
produced by a lad merely whistling through his fingers. He thought them
highly agreeable, and asked to have the tunes repeated.
"The lad was committed to prison for no other offence than making that
noise, which seems to thee so pleasant," said Friend Hopper. "I dare say
thou wouldst like to make it thyself, if thou couldst. I have taken the
liberty to discharge him."
"Very well," rejoined the mayor, with a smile. "You have done quite
right, Friend Isaac. You may go, my lad. I shall not trouble you. But
try not to collect crowds about the streets."
"That I cannot help," replied the youth. "The crowds _will_ come, when I
whistle for them; and I get coppers by collecting crowds. But I promise
you I will try to avoid their making any riot or confusion."
A stout healthy woman, named Mary Norris was continually taken up as a
vagrant, or committed for petty larceny. As soon as she was discharged
from the penalty of one misdemeanor, she was committed for another. One
day, Friend Hopper, who was then inspector, said to her, "Well, Mary,
thy time is out next week. Dost thou think thou shalt come back again?"
"Yes," she replied sullenly.
"Dost thou _like_ to come back?" inquired he.
"No, to be sure I don't," rejoined the prisoner. "But I've no doubt I
_shall_ come back before the month is out."
"Why dost thou not make a resolution to behave better?" said the kindly
"What use would it be?" she replied. "You wouldn't take me into your
family. The doctor wouldn't take me into his family. No respectable
person would have anything to do with me. My associates _must_ be such
acquaintances as I make here. If they steal, I am taken up for it; no
matter whether I am guilty or not. I am an old convict, and nobody
believes what I say. O, yes, I shall come back again. To be sure I shall
come back," she repeated bitterly.
Her voice and manner excited Friend Hopper's compassion, and he thus
addressed her: "If I will get a place for thee in some respectable
family where they will be kind to thee, wilt thou give me thy word that
thou wilt be honest and steady, and try to do thy duty."
Her countenance brightened, and she eagerly answered, "Yes I _will_! And
thank God and you too, the longest day I have to live."
He exerted his influence in her behalf, and procured a situation for her
as head-nurse at the alms-house. She was well contented there, and
behaved with great propriety. Seventeen years afterward, when Friend
Hopper had not seen her for a long time, he called to inquire about her,
and was informed that during all those years, she had been an honest,
sober, and useful woman. She was rejoiced to see him again, and
expressed lively gratitude, for the quiet and comfortable life she
enjoyed through his agency.
Upon one occasion, Friend Hopper entered a complaint against an old
woman, who had presided over an infamous house for many years. She was
tried, and sentenced to several months imprisonment. He went to see her
several times, and talked very seriously with her concerning the errors
of her life. Finding that his expostulations made some impression, he
asked if she felt willing to amend her ways. "Oh, I should be thankful
to do it!" she exclaimed. "But who would trust me? What can I do to earn
an honest living? Everybody curses me, or makes game of me. How _can_ I
be a better woman, if I try ever so hard?"
"I will give thee a chance to amend thy life," he replied; "and if thou
dost not, it shall be thy own fault."
He went round among the wealthy Quakers, and by dint of great persuasion
he induced one to let her a small tenement at very low rent. A few
others agreed to purchase some humble furniture, and a quantity of
thread, needles, tape, and buttons, to furnish a small shop. The poor
old creature's heart overflowed with gratitude, and it was her pride to
keep everything very neat and orderly. There she lived contented and
comfortable the remainder of her days, and became much respected in the
neighborhood. The tears often came to her eyes when she saw Friend
Hopper. "God bless that good man!" she would say. "He has been the
salvation of me."
THE UNCOMPLIMENTARY INVITATION.
A preacher of the Society of Friends felt impressed with the duty of
calling a meeting for vicious people; and Isaac T. Hopper was appointed
to collect an audience. In the course of this mission, he knocked at
the door of a very infamous house. A gentleman who was acquainted with
him was passing by, and he stopped to say, "Friend Hopper, you have
mistaken the house."
"No, I have not," he replied.
"But that is a house of notorious ill fame," said the gentleman.
"I know it," rejoined he; "but nevertheless I have business here."
His acquaintance looked surprised, but passed on without further query.
A colored girl came to the door. To the inquiry whether her mistress was
within, she answered in the affirmative. "Tell her I wish to see her,"
said Friend Hopper. The girl was evidently astonished at a visitor in
Quaker costume, and of such grave demeanor; but she went and did the
errand. A message was returned that her mistress was engaged and could
not see any one. "Where is she?" he inquired. The girl replied that she
was up-stairs. "I will go to her," said the importunate messenger.
The mistress of the house heard him, and leaning over the balustrade of
the stairs, she screamed out, "What do you want with me, sir?"
In very loud tones he answered, "James Simpson, a minister of the
Society of Friends, has appointed a meeting to be held this afternoon,
in Penrose store, Almond-street. It is intended for publicans, sinners,
and harlots. I want thee to be there, and bring thy whole household with
thee. Wilt thou come?"
She promised that she would; and he afterward saw her at the meeting
melted into tears by the direct and affectionate preaching.
THEFT FROM NECESSITY.
One day, when the family were in the midst of washing, a man called at
Isaac T. Hopper's house to buy soap fat, and was informed they had none
to sell. A minute after he had passed out, the domestic came running in
to say that he had stolen some of the children's clothes from the line.
Friend Hopper followed him quickly, and called out, "Dost thou want to
buy some soap-fat? Come back if thou dost."
When the man had returned to the kitchen, he said, "Now give up the
clothes thou hast stolen."
The culprit was extremely confused, but denied that he had stolen
"Give them up at once, without any more words. It will be much better
for thee," said Friend Hopper, in his firm way.
Thus urged, the stranger drew from his bosom some small shirts and
flannel petticoats. "My wife is very sick," said he. "She has a babe two
weeks old, wrapped up in an old rag; and when I saw this comfortable
clothing on the line, I was tempted to take it for the poor little
creature. We have no fuel except a little tan. A herring is the last
mouthful of food we have in the house; and when I came away, it was
broiling on the hot tan."
His story excited pity; but fearing it might be made up for the
occasion, Friend Hopper took him to a magistrate and said, "Please give
me a commitment for this man. If he tells a true story, I will tear it
up. I will go and see for myself."
When he arrived at the wretched abode, he found a scene of misery that
pained him to the heart. The room was cold, and the wife was in bed,
pale and suffering. Her babe had no clothing, except a coarse rag torn
from the skirt of an old coat. Of course he destroyed the commitment
immediately. His next step was to call upon the rich Quakers of his
acquaintance, and obtain from them contributions of wood, flour, rice,
bread, and warm garments. Employment was soon after procured for the
man, and he was enabled to support his family comfortably. He never
passed Friend Hopper in the street without making a low bow, and often
took occasion to express his grateful acknowledgments.
Patrick was a poor Irishman in Philadelphia. He and another man were
arrested on a charge of burglary, convicted and sentenced to be hung. I
am ignorant of the details of his crime, or why the sentence was not
carried into execution. There were probably some palliating
circumstances in his case; for though he was carried to the gallows,
seated on his coffin, he was spared for some reason, and his companion
was hung. He was afterward sentenced to ten years imprisonment, and this
was eventually shortened one year. During the last three years of his
term, Friend Hopper was one of the inspectors, and frequently talked
with him in a gentle, fatherly manner. The convict was a man of few
words, and hope seemed almost dead within him; but though he made no
large promises, his heart was evidently touched by the voice of
kindness. As soon as he was released, he went immediately to work at his
trade of tanning leather, and conducted himself in the most exemplary
manner. Being remarkable for capability, and the amount of work he could
accomplish, he soon had plenty of employment. He passed Friend Hopper's
house every day, as he went to his work, and often received from him
words of friendly encouragement.
Things were going on thus satisfactorily, when his friend heard that
constables were in pursuit of him, on account of a robbery committed the
night before. He went straight to the mayor, and inquired why orders
had been given to arrest Patrick McKeever.
"Because there has been a robbery committed in his neighborhood,"
replied the magistrate.
He inquired what proof there was that Patrick had been concerned in it.
"None at all," rejoined the mayor. "But he is an old convict, and that
is enough to condemn him."
"It is _not_ enough, by any means," answered Friend Hopper. "Thou hast
no right to arrest any citizen without a shadow of proof against him. In
this, case, I advise thee by all means to proceed with humane caution.
This man has severely atoned for the crime he did commit; and since he
wishes to reform, his past history ought never to be mentioned against
him. He has been perfectly honest, sober, and industrious, since he came
out of prison. I think I know his state of mind; and I am willing to
take the responsibility of saying that he is guiltless in this matter."
The mayor commended Friend Hopper's benevolence, but remained
unconvinced. To all arguments he replied, "He is an old convict, and
that is enough."
Patrick's kind friend watched for him as he passed to his daily labors,
and told him that he would probably be arrested for the robbery that had
been committed in his neighborhood. The poor fellow bowed down his
head, the light vanished from his countenance, and hope seemed to have
forsaken him utterly. "Well," said he, with a deep sigh, "I suppose I
must make up my mind to spend the remainder of my days in prison."
"Thou wert not concerned in this robbery, wert thou?" inquired Friend
Hopper, looking earnestly in his face.
"No, indeed I was not," he replied. "God be my witness, I want to lead
an honest life, and be at peace with all men. But what good will _that_
do me? Everybody will say, he has been in the State Prison, and that is
His friend did not ask him twice; for he felt assured that he had spoken
truly. He advised him to go directly to the mayor, deliver himself up,
and declare his innocence. This wholesome advice was received with deep
dejection. He had lost faith in his fellow-men; for they had been to him
as enemies. "I know what will come of it," said he. "They will put me in
prison whether there is any proof against me, or not. They won't let me
out without somebody will be security for me; and who will be security
for an old convict?"
"Keep up a good heart," replied Friend Hopper. "Go to the mayor and
speak as I have advised thee. If they talk of putting thee in prison,
send for me."
Patrick acted in obedience to this advice, and was treated just as he
had expected. Though there was not a shadow of proof against him, his
being an old convict was deemed sufficient reason for sending him to
Friend Hopper appeared in his behalf. "I am ready to affirm that I
believe this man to be innocent," said he. "It will be a very serious
injury for him to be taken from his business and detained in prison
until this can be proved. Moreover, the effect upon his mind may be
completely discouraging. I will be security for his appearance when
called for; and I know very well that he will not think of giving me the
The gratitude of the poor fellow was overwhelming. He sobbed till his
strong frame shook like a leaf in the wind. The real culprits were soon
after discovered. For thirty years after and to the day of his death,
Patrick continued to lead a virtuous and useful life; for which he
always thanked Friend Hopper, as the instrument of Divine Providence.
THE UMBRELLA GIRL.
A young girl, the only daughter of a poor widow, removed from the
country to Philadelphia to earn her living by covering umbrellas. She
was very handsome; with glossy black hair, large beaming eyes, and "lips
like wet coral." She was just at that susceptible age when youth is
ripening into womanhood, when the soul begins to be pervaded by "that
restless principle, which impels poor humans to seek perfection in
At a hotel near the store for which she worked an English traveller,
called Lord Henry Stuart, had taken lodgings. He was a strikingly
handsome man, and of princely carriage. As this distinguished stranger
passed to and from his hotel, he encountered the umbrella girl, and was
attracted by her uncommon beauty. He easily traced her to the store,
where he soon after went to purchase an umbrella. This was followed up
by presents of flowers, chats by the wayside, and invitations to walk or
ride; all of which were gratefully accepted by the unsuspecting rustic;
for she was as ignorant of the dangers of a city as were the squirrels
of her native fields. He was merely playing a game for temporary
excitement. She, with a head full of romance, and a heart melting under
the influence of love, was unconsciously endangering the happiness of
her whole life.
Lord Henry invited her to visit the public gardens on the Fourth of
July. In the simplicity of her heart, she believed all his flattering
professions, and considered herself his bride elect; she therefore
accepted the invitation with innocent frankness. But she had no dress
fit to appear in on such a public occasion, with a gentleman of high
rank, whom she verily supposed to be her destined husband. While these
thoughts revolved in her mind, her eye was unfortunately attracted by a
beautiful piece of silk, belonging to her employer. Could she not take
it, without being seen, and pay for it secretly, when she had earned
money enough? The temptation conquered her in a moment of weakness. She
concealed the silk, and conveyed it to her lodgings. It was the first
thing she had ever stolen, and her remorse was painful. She would have
carried it back, but she dreaded discovery. She was not sure that her
repentance would be met in a spirit of forgiveness.
On the eventful Fourth of July, she came out in her new dress. Lord
Henry complimented her upon her elegant appearance, but she was not
happy. On their way to the gardens, he talked to her in a manner which
she did not comprehend. Perceiving this, he spoke more explicitly. The
guileless young creature stopped, looked in his face with mournful
reproach, and burst into tears. The nobleman took her hand kindly, and
said, "My dear, are you an innocent girl?"
"I am, I am," she replied, with convulsive sobs. "Oh, what have I ever
done, or said, that you should ask me such a question?"
The evident sincerity of her words stirred the deep fountains of his
better nature. "If you are innocent," said he, "God forbid that I should
make you otherwise. But you accepted my invitations and presents so
readily, that I supposed you understood me."
"What _could_ I understand," said she, "except that you intended to make
me your wife?"
Though reared amid the proudest distinctions of rank, he felt no
inclination to smile. He blushed and was silent. The heartless
conventionalities of the world stood rebuked in the presence of
affectionate simplicity. He conveyed her to her humble home, and bade
her farewell, with a thankful consciousness that he had done no
irretrievable injury to her future prospects. The remembrance of her
would soon be to him as the recollection of last year's butterflies.
With her, the wound was deep. In the solitude of her chamber she wept in
bitterness of heart over her ruined air-castles. And that dress, which
she had stolen to make an appearance befitting his bride! Oh, what if
she should be discovered? And would not the heart of her poor widowed
mother break, if she should ever know that her child was a thief?
Alas, her wretched forebodings proved too true. The silk was traced to
her; she was arrested on her way to the store and dragged to prison.
There she refused all nourishment, and wept incessantly. On the fourth
day, the keeper called upon Isaac T. Hopper, and informed him that there
was a young girl in prison, who appeared to be utterly friendless, and
determined to die by starvation. The kind-hearted Friend immediately
went to her assistance. He found her lying on the floor of her cell,
with her face buried in her hands, sobbing as if her heart would break.
He tried to comfort her, but could obtain no answer.
"Leave us alone," said he to the keeper. "Perhaps she will speak to me,
if there is no one to hear." When they were alone together, he put back
the hair from her temples, laid his hand kindly on her beautiful head,
and said in soothing tones, "My child, consider me as thy father. Tell
me all thou hast done. If thou hast taken this silk, let me know all
about it. I will do for thee as I would for my own daughter; and I doubt
not that I can help thee out of this difficulty."
After a long time spent in affectionate entreaty, she leaned her young
head on his friendly shoulder, and sobbed out, "Oh, I wish I was dead.
What will my poor mother say when she knows of my disgrace?"
"Perhaps we can manage that she never shall know it," replied he.
Alluring her by this hope, he gradually obtained from her the whole
story of her acquaintance with the nobleman. He bade her be comforted,
and take nourishment; for he would see that the silk was paid for, and
the prosecution withdrawn.
He went immediately to her employer, and told him the story. "This is
her first offence," said he. "The girl is young, and she is the only
child of a poor widow. Give her a chance to retrieve this one false
step, and she may be restored to society, a useful and honored woman. I
will see that thou art paid for the silk." The man readily agreed to
withdraw the prosecution, and said he would have dealt otherwise by the
girl, if he had known all the circumstances. "Thou shouldst have
inquired into the merits of the case," replied Friend Hopper. "By this
kind of thoughtlessness, many a young creature is driven into the
downward path, who might easily have been saved."
The kind-hearted man next proceeded to the hotel, and with Quaker
simplicity of speech inquired for Henry Stuart. The servant said his
lordship had not yet risen. "Tell him my business is of importance,"
said Friend Hopper. The servant soon returned and conducted him to the
chamber. The nobleman appeared surprised that a stranger, in the plain
Quaker costume, should thus intrude upon his luxurious privacy. When he
heard his errand, he blushed deeply, and frankly admitted the truth of
the girl's statement. His benevolent visitor took the opportunity to
"bear a testimony" against the selfishness and sin of profligacy. He did
it in such a kind and fatherly manner, that the young man's heart was
touched. He excused himself, by saying that he would not have tampered
with the girl, if he had known her to be virtuous. "I have done many
wrong things," said he, "but thank God, no betrayal of confiding
innocence weighs on my conscience. I have always esteemed it the basest
act of which man is capable." The imprisonment of the poor girl, and the
forlorn situation in which she had been found, distressed him greatly.
When Friend Hopper represented that the silk had been stolen for _his_
sake, that the girl had thereby lost profitable employment, and was
obliged to return to her distant home, to avoid the danger of exposure,
he took out a fifty dollar note, and offered it to pay her expenses.
"Nay," said Isaac. "Thou art a very rich man, I presume. I see in thy
hand a large roll of such notes. She is the daughter of a poor widow,
and thou hast been the means of doing her great injury. Give me
Lord Henry handed him another fifty dollar note, and smiled as he said,
"You understand your business well. But you have acted nobly, and I
reverence you for it. If you ever visit England, come to see me. I will
give you a cordial welcome, and treat you like a nobleman."
"Farewell, friend," replied the Quaker. "Though much to blame in this
affair, thou too hast behaved nobly. Mayst thou be blessed in domestic
life, and trifle no more with the feelings of poor girls; not even with
those whom others have betrayed and deserted."
When the girl was arrested, she had sufficient presence of mind to
assume a false name, and by that means, her true name had been kept out
of the newspapers. "I did this," said she, "for my poor mother's sake."
With the money given by Lord Stuart, the silk was paid for, and she was
sent home to her mother well provided with clothing. Her name and place
of residence forever remained a secret in the breast of her benefactor.
Years after these events transpired, a lady called at Friend Hopper's
house, and asked to see him. When he entered the room, he found a
handsomely dressed young matron, with a blooming boy of five or six
years old. She rose quickly to meet him, and her voice choked as she
said, "Friend Hopper, do you know me?" He replied that he did not. She
fixed her tearful eyes earnestly upon him, and said, "You once helped me
when in great distress." But the good missionary of humanity had helped
too many in distress, to be able to recollect her without more precise
information. With a tremulous voice, she bade her son go into the next
room for a few minutes; then dropping on her knees, she hid her face in
his lap, and sobbed out, "I am the girl who stole the silk. Oh, where
should I now be, if it had not been for you!"
When her emotion was somewhat calmed, she told him that she had married
a highly respectable man, a senator of his native state. Being on a
visit in Friend Hopper's vicinity, she had again and again passed his
dwelling, looking wistfully at the windows to catch a sight of him; but
when she attempted to enter her courage failed.
"But I must return home to-morrow," said she, "and I could not go away
without once more seeing and thanking him who saved me from ruin." She
recalled her little boy, and said to him, "Look at that gentleman, and
remember him well; for he was the best friend your mother ever had."
With an earnest invitation to visit her happy home, and a fervent "God
bless you!" she bade her benefactor farewell.
THE TWO YOUNG OFFENDERS.
In the neighborhood of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, there lived a man whose
temper was vindictive and badly governed. Having become deeply offended
with one of his neighbors, he induced his two sons to swear falsely that
he had committed an infamous crime. One of the lads was about fifteen
years old, and the other about seventeen. The alleged offence was of so
gross a nature, and was so at variance with the fair character of the
person accused that the witnesses were subjected to a very careful and
shrewd examination. They became embarrassed, and the flaws in their
evidence were very obvious. They were indicted for conspiracy against an
innocent man; and being taken by surprise, they were thrown into
confusion, acknowledged their guilt, and declined the offer of a trial.
They were sentenced to two years' imprisonment at hard labor in the
Penitentiary of Philadelphia.
Isaac T. Hopper, who was at that time one of the inspectors, happened to
be at the prison when they arrived at dusk, hand-cuffed and chained
together, in custody of the sheriff. Their youth and desolate appearance
excited his compassion. "Keep up a good heart, my poor lads," said he.
"You can retrieve this one false step, if you will but make the effort.
It is still in your power to become respectable and useful men. I will
help you all I can."
He gave particular directions that they should be placed in a room by
themselves, apart from the contagion of more hardened offenders. To
prevent unprofitable conversation, they were constantly employed in the
noisy occupation of heading nails. From time to time, the humane
inspector spoke soothing and encouraging words to them, and commended
their good behavior. When the Board of Inspectors met, he proposed that
the lads should be recommended to the governor for pardon. Not
succeeding in this effort, he wrote an article on the impropriety of
confining juvenile offenders with old hardened convicts. He published
this in the daily papers, and it produced considerable effect. When the
Board again met, Isaac T. Hopper and Thomas Dobson were appointed to
wait on the governor, to obtain a pardon for the lads if possible. After
considerable hesitation, the request was granted on condition that
worthy men could be found, who would take them as apprentices. Friend
Hopper agreed to find such persons; and he kept his word. One of them
was bound to a tanner, the other to a carpenter. But their excellent
friend did not lose sight of them. He reminded them that they were now
going among strangers, and their success and happiness would mainly
depend on their own conduct. He begged of them, if they should ever get
entangled with unprofitable company, or become involved in difficulty of
any kind, to come to him, as they would to a considerate father. He
invited them to spend all their leisure evenings at his house. For a
long time, it was their constant practice to take tea with him every
Sunday, and join the family in reading the Bible and other serious
At the end of a year, they expressed a strong desire to visit their
father. Some fears were entertained lest his influence over them should
prove injurious; and that being once freed from restraint, they would
not willingly return to constant industry and regular habits. They,
however, promised faithfully that they would, and Friend Hopper thought
it might have a good effect upon them to know that they were trusted. He
accordingly entered into bonds for them; thinking this additional claim
on their gratitude would strengthen his influence over them, and help to
confirm their good resolutions.
They returned punctually at the day and hour they had promised, and
their exemplary conduct continued to give entire satisfaction to their
employers. A short time after the oldest had fulfilled the term of his
indenture, the tanner with whom he worked bought a farm, and sold his
stock and tools to his former apprentice. Friend Hopper took him to the
governor's house, dressed in his new suit of freedom clothes, and
introduced him as one of the lads whom he had pardoned several years
before; testifying that he had been a faithful apprentice, and much
respected by his master. The governor was well pleased to see him, shook
hands with him very cordially, and told him that he who was resolute
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