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My Bondage and My Freedom, My Bondage and My Freedom

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Could the kind reader have been quietly riding along the main
road to or from Easton, that morning, his eye would have met a
painful sight. He would have seen five young men, guilty of no
crime, save that of preferring _liberty_ to a life of _bondage_,
drawn along the public highway--firmly bound together--tramping
through dust and heat, bare-footed and bare-headed--fastened to
three strong horses, whose riders were armed to the teeth, with
pistols and daggers--on their way to prison, like felons, and
suffering every possible insult from the crowds of idle, vulgar
people, who clustered around, and heartlessly made their failure
the occasion for all manner of ribaldry and sport. As I looked
upon this crowd of vile persons, and saw myself and friends thus
assailed and persecuted, I could not help seeing the fulfillment
of Sandy's dream. I was in the hands of moral vultures, and
firmly held in their sharp talons, and was hurried away toward
Easton, in a south-easterly direction, amid the jeers of new
birds of the same feather, through every neighborhood we passed.
It seemed to me (and this shows the good understanding between
the slaveholders and their allies) that every body we met knew
<228>the cause of our arrest, and were out, awaiting our passing
by, to feast their vindictive eyes on our misery and to gloat
over our ruin. Some said, _I ought to be hanged_, and others, _I
ought to be burnt_, others, I ought to have the _"hide"_ taken
from my back; while no one gave us a kind word or sympathizing
look, except the poor slaves, who were lifting their heavy hoes,
and who cautiously glanced at us through the post-and-rail
fences, behind which they were at work. Our sufferings, that
morning, can be more easily imagined than described. Our hopes
were all blasted, at a blow. The cruel injustice, the victorious
crime, and the helplessness of innocence, led me to ask, in my
ignorance and weakness "Where now is the God of justice and
mercy? And why have these wicked men the power thus to trample
upon our rights, and to insult our feelings?" And yet, in the
next moment, came the consoling thought, _"The day of oppressor
will come at last."_ Of one thing I could be glad--not one of my
dear friends, upon whom I had brought this great calamity, either
by word or look, reproached me for having led them into it. We
were a band of brothers, and never dearer to each other than now.
The thought which gave us the most pain, was the probable
separation which would now take place, in case we were sold off
to the far south, as we were likely to be. While the constables
were looking forward, Henry and I, being fastened together, could
occasionally exchange a word, without being observed by the
kidnappers who had us in charge. "What shall I do with my pass?"
said Henry. "Eat it with your biscuit," said I; "it won't do to
tear it up." We were now near St. Michael's. The direction
concerning the passes was passed around, and executed. _"Own
nothing!"_ said I. _"Own nothing!"_ was passed around and
enjoined, and assented to. Our confidence in each other was
unshaken; and we were quite resolved to succeed or fail
together--as much after the calamity which had befallen us, as
before.

On reaching St. Michael's, we underwent a sort of examination at
my master's store, and it was evident to my mind, that Master
<229 THE DENIAL>Thomas suspected the truthfulness of the evidence
upon which they had acted in arresting us; and that he only
affected, to some extent, the positiveness with which he asserted
our guilt. There was nothing said by any of our company, which
could, in any manner, prejudice our cause; and there was hope,
yet, that we should be able to return to our homes--if for
nothing else, at least to find out the guilty man or woman who
had betrayed us.

To this end, we all denied that we had been guilty of intended
flight. Master Thomas said that the evidence he had of our
intention to run away, was strong enough to hang us, in a case of
murder. "But," said I, "the cases are not equal. If murder were
committed, some one must have committed it--the thing is done!
In our case, nothing has been done! We have not run away. Where
is the evidence against us? We were quietly at our work." I
talked thus, with unusual freedom, to bring out the evidence
against us, for we all wanted, above all things, to know the
guilty wretch who had betrayed us, that we might have something
tangible upon which to pour the execrations. From something
which dropped, in the course of the talk, it appeared that there
was but one witness against us--and that that witness could not
be produced. Master Thomas would not tell us _who_ his informant
was; but we suspected, and suspected _one_ person _only_.
Several circumstances seemed to point SANDY out, as our betrayer.
His entire knowledge of our plans his participation in them--his
withdrawal from us--his dream, and his simultaneous presentiment
that we were betrayed--the taking us, and the leaving him--were
calculated to turn suspicion toward him; and yet, we could not
suspect him. We all loved him too well to think it _possible_
that he could have betrayed us. So we rolled the guilt on other
shoulders.

We were literally dragged, that morning, behind horses, a
distance of fifteen miles, and placed in the Easton jail. We
were glad to reach the end of our journey, for our pathway had
been the scene of insult and mortification. Such is the power of
public <230>opinion, that it is hard, even for the innocent, to
feel the happy consolations of innocence, when they fall under
the maledictions of this power. How could we regard ourselves as
in the right, when all about us denounced us as criminals, and
had the power and the disposition to treat us as such.

In jail, we were placed under the care of Mr. Joseph Graham, the
sheriff of the county. Henry, and John, and myself, were placed
in one room, and Henry Baily and Charles Roberts, in another, by
themselves. This separation was intended to deprive us of the
advantage of concert, and to prevent trouble in jail.

Once shut up, a new set of tormentors came upon us. A swarm of
imps, in human shape the slave-traders, deputy slave-traders, and
agents of slave-traders--that gather in every country town of the
state, watching for chances to buy human flesh (as buzzards to
eat carrion) flocked in upon us, to ascertain if our masters had
placed us in jail to be sold. Such a set of debased and
villainous creatures, I never saw before, and hope never to see
again. I felt myself surrounded as by a pack of _fiends_, fresh
from _perdition_. They laughed, leered, and grinned at us;
saying, "Ah! boys, we've got you, havn't we? So you were about
to make your escape? Where were you going to?" After taunting
us, and peering at us, as long as they liked, they one by one
subjected us to an examination, with a view to ascertain our
value; feeling our arms and legs, and shaking us by the shoulders
to see if we were sound and healthy; impudently asking us, "how
we would like to have them for masters?" To such questions, we
were, very much to their annoyance, quite dumb, disdaining to
answer them. For one, I detested the whisky-bloated gamblers in
human flesh; and I believe I was as much detested by them in
turn. One fellow told me, "if he had me, he would cut the devil
out of me pretty quick."

These Negro buyers are very offensive to the genteel southern
Christian public. They are looked upon, in respectable Maryland
society, as necessary, but detestable characters. As a class,
they <231 SLAVE-TRADERS>are hardened ruffians, made such by
nature and by occupation. Their ears are made quite familiar
with the agonizing cry of outraged and woe-smitted humanity.
Their eyes are forever open to human misery. They walk amid
desecrated affections, insulted virtue, and blasted hopes. They
have grown intimate with vice and blood; they gloat over the
wildest illustrations of their soul-damning and earth-polluting
business, and are moral pests. Yes; they are a legitimate fruit
of slavery; and it is a puzzle to make out a case of greater
villainy for them, than for the slaveholders, who make such a
class _possible_. They are mere hucksters of the surplus slave
produce of Maryland and Virginia coarse, cruel, and swaggering
bullies, whose very breathing is of blasphemy and blood.

Aside from these slave-buyers, who infested the prison, from time
to time, our quarters were much more comfortable than we had any
right to expect they would be. Our allowance of food was small
and coarse, but our room was the best in the jail--neat and
spacious, and with nothing about it necessarily reminding us of
being in prison, but its heavy locks and bolts and the black,
iron lattice-work at the windows. We were prisoners of state,
compared with most slaves who are put into that Easton jail. But
the place was not one of contentment. Bolts, bars and grated
windows are not acceptable to freedom-loving people of any color.
The suspense, too, was painful. Every step on the stairway was
listened to, in the hope that the comer would cast a ray of light
on our fate. We would have given the hair off our heads for half
a dozen words with one of the waiters in Sol. Lowe's hotel. Such
waiters were in the way of hearing, at the table, the probable
course of things. We could see them flitting about in their
white jackets in front of this hotel, but could speak to none of
them.

Soon after the holidays were over, contrary to all our
expectations, Messrs. Hamilton and Freeland came up to Easton;
not to make a bargain with the "Georgia traders," nor to send us
up to Austin Woldfolk, as is usual in the case of run-away
salves, <232>but to release Charles, Henry Harris, Henry Baily
and John Harris, from prison, and this, too, without the
infliction of a single blow. I was now left entirely alone in
prison. The innocent had been taken, and the guilty left. My
friends were separated from me, and apparently forever. This
circumstance caused me more pain than any other incident
connected with our capture and imprisonment. Thirty-nine lashes
on my naked and bleeding back, would have been joyfully borne, in
preference to this separation from these, the friends of my
youth. And yet, I could not but feel that I was the victim of
something like justice. Why should these young men, who were led
into this scheme by me, suffer as much as the instigator? I felt
glad that they were leased from prison, and from the dread
prospect of a life (or death I should rather say) in the rice
swamps. It is due to the noble Henry, to say, that he seemed
almost as reluctant to leave the prison with me in it, as he was
to be tied and dragged to prison. But he and the rest knew that
we should, in all the likelihoods of the case, be separated, in
the event of being sold; and since we were now completely in the
hands of our owners, we all concluded it would be best to go
peaceably home.

Not until this last separation, dear reader, had I touched those
profounder depths of desolation, which it is the lot of slaves
often to reach. I was solitary in the world, and alone within
the walls of a stone prison, left to a fate of life-long misery.
I had hoped and expected much, for months before, but my hopes
and expectations were now withered and blasted. The ever dreaded
slave life in Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama--from which escape
is next to impossible now, in my loneliness, stared me in the
face. The possibility of ever becoming anything but an abject
slave, a mere machine in the hands of an owner, had now fled, and
it seemed to me it had fled forever. A life of living death,
beset with the innumerable horrors of the cotton field, and the
sugar plantation, seemed to be my doom. The fiends, who rushed
into the prison when we were first put there, continued to visit
me, <233 LEFT ALONE IN PRISON>and to ply me with questions and
with their tantalizing remarks. I was insulted, but helpless;
keenly alive to the demands of justice and liberty, but with no
means of asserting them. To talk to those imps about justice and
mercy, would have been as absurd as to reason with bears and
tigers. Lead and steel are the only arguments that they
understand.

After remaining in this life of misery and despair about a week,
which, by the way, seemed a month, Master Thomas, very much to my
surprise, and greatly to my relief, came to the prison, and took
me out, for the purpose, as he said, of sending me to Alabama,
with a friend of his, who would emancipate me at the end of eight
years. I was glad enough to get out of prison; but I had no
faith in the story that this friend of Capt. Auld would
emancipate me, at the end of the time indicated. Besides, I
never had heard of his having a friend in Alabama, and I took the
announcement, simply as an easy and comfortable method of
shipping me off to the far south. There was a little scandal,
too, connected with the idea of one Christian selling another to
the Georgia traders, while it was deemed every way proper for
them to sell to others. I thought this friend in Alabama was an
invention, to meet this difficulty, for Master Thomas was quite
jealous of his Christian reputation, however unconcerned he might
be about his real Christian character. In these remarks,
however, it is possible that I do Master Thomas Auld injustice.
He certainly did not exhaust his power upon me, in the case, but
acted, upon the whole, very generously, considering the nature of
my offense. He had the power and the provocation to send me,
without reserve, into the very everglades of Florida, beyond the
remotest hope of emancipation; and his refusal to exercise that
power, must be set down to his credit.

After lingering about St. Michael's a few days, and no friend
from Alabama making his appearance, to take me there, Master
Thomas decided to send me back again to Baltimore, to live with
his brother Hugh, with whom he was now at peace; possibly he
<234>became so by his profession of religion, at the camp-meeting
in the Bay Side. Master Thomas told me that he wished me to go
to Baltimore, and learn a trade; and that, if I behaved myself
properly, he would _emancipate me at twenty-five!_ Thanks for
this one beam of hope in the future. The promise had but one
fault; it seemed too good to be true.

CHAPTER XX
_Apprenticeship Life_

NOTHING LOST BY THE ATTEMPT TO RUN AWAY--COMRADES IN THEIR OLD
HOMES--REASONS FOR SENDING ME AWAY--RETURN TO BALTIMORE--CONTRAST
BETWEEN TOMMY AND THAT OF HIS COLORED COMPANION--TRIALS IN
GARDINER'S SHIP YARD--DESPERATE FIGHT--ITS CAUSES--CONFLICT
BETWEEN WHITE AND BLACK LABOR--DESCRIPTION OF THE OUTRAGE--
COLORED TESTIMONY NOTHING--CONDUCT OF MASTER HUGH--SPIRIT OF
SLAVERY IN BALTIMORE--MY CONDITION IMPROVES--NEW ASSOCIATIONS--
SLAVEHOLDER'S RIGHT TO TAKE HIS WAGES--HOW TO MAKE A CONTENTED
SLAVE.

Well! dear reader, I am not, as you may have already inferred, a
loser by the general upstir, described in the foregoing chapter.
The little domestic revolution, notwithstanding the sudden snub
it got by the treachery of somebody--I dare not say or think
who--did not, after all, end so disastrously, as when in the iron
cage at Easton, I conceived it would. The prospect, from that
point, did look about as dark as any that ever cast its gloom
over the vision of the anxious, out-looking, human spirit. "All
is well that ends well." My affectionate comrades, Henry and
John Harris, are still with Mr. William Freeland. Charles
Roberts and Henry Baily are safe at their homes. I have not,
therefore, any thing to regret on their account. Their masters
have mercifully forgiven them, probably on the ground suggested
in the spirited little speech of Mrs. Freeland, made to me just
before leaving for the jail--namely: that they had been allured
into the wicked scheme of making their escape, by me; and that,
but for me, they would never have dreamed of a thing so shocking!
My <236>friends had nothing to regret, either; for while they
were watched more closely on account of what had happened, they
were, doubtless, treated more kindly than before, and got new
assurances that they would be legally emancipated, some day,
provided their behavior should make them deserving, from that
time forward. Not a blow, as I learned, was struck any one of
them. As for Master William Freeland, good, unsuspecting soul,
he did not believe that we were intending to run away at all.
Having given--as he thought--no occasion to his boys to leave
him, he could not think it probable that they had entertained a
design so grievous. This, however, was not the view taken of the
matter by "Mas' Billy," as we used to call the soft spoken, but
crafty and resolute Mr. William Hamilton. He had no doubt that
the crime had been meditated; and regarding me as the instigator
of it, he frankly told Master Thomas that he must remove me from
that neighborhood, or he would shoot me down. He would not have
one so dangerous as "Frederick" tampering with his slaves.
William Hamilton was not a man whose threat might be safely
disregarded. I have no doubt that he would have proved as good
as his word, had the warning given not been promptly taken. He
was furious at the thought of such a piece of high-handed
_theft_, as we were about to perpetrate the stealing of our own
bodies and souls! The feasibility of the plan, too, could the
first steps have been taken, was marvelously plain. Besides,
this was a _new_ idea, this use of the bay. Slaves escaping,
until now, had taken to the woods; they had never dreamed of
profaning and abusing the waters of the noble Chesapeake, by
making them the highway from slavery to freedom. Here was a
broad road of destruction to slavery, which, before, had been
looked upon as a wall of security by slaveholders. But Master
Billy could not get Mr. Freeland to see matters precisely as he
did; nor could he get Master Thomas so excited as he was himself.
The latter--I must say it to his credit--showed much humane
feeling in his part of the transaction, and atoned for much that
had been harsh, cruel <237 CHANGE IN LITTLE TOMMY>and
unreasonable in his former treatment of me and others. His
clemency was quite unusual and unlooked for. "Cousin Tom" told
me that while I was in jail, Master Thomas was very unhappy; and
that the night before his going up to release me, he had walked
the floor nearly all night, evincing great distress; that very
tempting offers had been made to him, by the Negro-traders, but
he had rejected them all, saying that _money could not tempt him
to sell me to the far south_. All this I can easily believe, for
he seemed quite reluctant to send me away, at all. He told me
that he only consented to do so, because of the very strong
prejudice against me in the neighborhood, and that he feared for
my safety if I remained there.

Thus, after three years spent in the country, roughing it in the
field, and experiencing all sorts of hardships, I was again
permitted to return to Baltimore, the very place, of all others,
short of a free state, where I most desired to live. The three
years spent in the country, had made some difference in me, and
in the household of Master Hugh. "Little Tommy" was no longer
_little_ Tommy; and I was not the slender lad who had left for
the Eastern Shore just three years before. The loving relations
between me and Mas' Tommy were broken up. He was no longer
dependent on me for protection, but felt himself a _man_, with
other and more suitable associates. In childhood, he scarcely
considered me inferior to himself certainly, as good as any other
boy with whom he played; but the time had come when his _friend_
must become his _slave_. So we were cold, and we parted. It was
a sad thing to me, that, loving each other as we had done, we
must now take different roads. To him, a thousand avenues were
open. Education had made him acquainted with all the treasures
of the world, and liberty had flung open the gates thereunto; but
I, who had attended him seven years, and had watched over him
with the care of a big brother, fighting his battles in the
street, and shielding him from harm, to an extent which had
induced his mother to say, "Oh! Tommy is always safe, when he is
with <238>Freddy," must be confined to a single condition. He
could grow, and become a MAN; I could grow, though I could _not_
become a man, but must remain, all my life, a minor--a mere boy.
Thomas Auld, Junior, obtained a situation on board the brig
"Tweed," and went to sea. I know not what has become of him; he
certainly has my good wishes for his welfare and prosperity.
There were few persons to whom I was more sincerely attached than
to him, and there are few in the world I would be more pleased to
meet.

Very soon after I went to Baltimore to live, Master Hugh
succeeded in getting me hired to Mr. William Gardiner, an
extensive ship builder on Fell's Point. I was placed here to
learn to calk, a trade of which I already had some knowledge,
gained while in Mr. Hugh Auld's ship-yard, when he was a master
builder. Gardiner's, however, proved a very unfavorable place
for the accomplishment of that object. Mr. Gardiner was, that
season, engaged in building two large man-of-war vessels,
professedly for the Mexican government. These vessels were to be
launched in the month of July, of that year, and, in failure
thereof, Mr. G. would forfeit a very considerable sum of money.
So, when I entered the ship-yard, all was hurry and driving.
There were in the yard about one hundred men; of these about
seventy or eighty were regular carpenters--privileged men.
Speaking of my condition here I wrote, years ago--and I have now
no reason to vary the picture as follows:

There was no time to learn any thing. Every man had to do that
which he knew how to do. In entering the ship-yard, my orders
from Mr. Gardiner were, to do whatever the carpenters commanded
me to do. This was placing me at the beck and call of about
seventy-five men. I was to regard all these as masters. Their
word was to be my law. My situation was a most trying one. At
times I needed a dozen pair of hands. I was called a dozen ways
in the space of a single minute. Three or four voices would
strike my ear at the same moment. It was--"Fred., come help me
to cant this timber here." "Fred., come carry this timber
yonder."--"Fred., bring that roller here."--"Fred., go get a
fresh can of water."--"Fred., come help saw off the end of this
timber."--"Fred., go quick and get the crow bar."--"Fred., hold
on the end of this fall."--"Fred., go to the blacksmith's shop,
and get a new punch."--<239 DESPERATE FIGHT>

"Hurra, Fred.! run and bring me a cold chisel."--"I say, Fred.,
bear a hand, and get up a fire as quick as lightning under that
steam-box."--"Halloo, nigger! come, turn this grindstone."--
"Come, come! move, move! and _bowse_ this timber forward."--"I
say, darkey, blast your eyes, why don't you heat up some
pitch?"--"Halloo! halloo! halloo!" (Three voices at the same
time.) "Come here!--Go there!--Hold on where you are! D--n you,
if you move, I'll knock your brains out!"

Such, dear reader, is a glance at the school which was mine,
during, the first eight months of my stay at Baltimore. At the
end of the eight months, Master Hugh refused longer to allow me
to remain with Mr. Gardiner. The circumstance which led to his
taking me away, was a brutal outrage, committed upon me by the
white apprentices of the ship-yard. The fight was a desperate
one, and I came out of it most shockingly mangled. I was cut and
bruised in sundry places, and my left eye was nearly knocked out
of its socket. The facts, leading to this barbarous outrage upon
me, illustrate a phase of slavery destined to become an important
element in the overthrow of the slave system, and I may,
therefore state them with some minuteness. That phase is this:
_the conflict of slavery with the interests of the white
mechanics and laborers of the south_. In the country, this
conflict is not so apparent; but, in cities, such as Baltimore,
Richmond, New Orleans, Mobile, &c., it is seen pretty clearly.
The slaveholders, with a craftiness peculiar to themselves, by
encouraging the enmity of the poor, laboring white man against
the blacks, succeeds in making the said white man almost as much
a slave as the black slave himself. The difference between the
white slave, and the black slave, is this: the latter belongs to
_one_ slaveholder, and the former belongs to _all_ the
slaveholders, collectively. The white slave has taken from him,
by indirection, what the black slave has taken from him,
directly, and without ceremony. Both are plundered, and by the
same plunderers. The slave is robbed, by his master, of all his
earnings, above what is required for his bare physical
necessities; and the white man is robbed by the slave system, of
the just results of his labor, because he is flung into
<240>competition with a class of laborers who work without wages.
The competition, and its injurious consequences, will, one day,
array the nonslaveholding white people of the slave states,
against the slave system, and make them the most effective
workers against the great evil. At present, the slaveholders
blind them to this competition, by keeping alive their prejudice
against the slaves, _as men_--not against them _as slaves_. They
appeal to their pride, often denouncing emancipation, as tending
to place the white man, on an equality with Negroes, and, by this
means, they succeed in drawing off the minds of the poor whites
from the real fact, that, by the rich slave-master, they are
already regarded as but a single remove from equality with the
slave. The impression is cunningly made, that slavery is the
only power that can prevent the laboring white man from falling
to the level of the slave's poverty and degradation. To make
this enmity deep and broad, between the slave and the poor white
man, the latter is allowed to abuse and whip the former, without
hinderance. But--as I have suggested--this state of facts
prevails _mostly_ in the country. In the city of Baltimore,
there are not unfrequent murmurs, that educating the slaves to be
mechanics may, in the end, give slavemasters power to dispense
with the services of the poor white man altogether. But, with
characteristic dread of offending the slaveholders, these poor,
white mechanics in Mr. Gardiner's ship-yard--instead of applying
the natural, honest remedy for the apprehended evil, and
objecting at once to work there by the side of slaves--made a
cowardly attack upon the free colored mechanics, saying _they_
were eating the bread which should be eaten by American freemen,
and swearing that they would not work with them. The feeling
was, _really_, against having their labor brought into
competition with that of the colored people at all; but it was
too much to strike directly at the interest of the slaveholders;
and, therefore proving their servility and cowardice they dealt
their blows on the poor, colored freeman, and aimed to prevent
_him_ from serving himself, in the evening of life, with the
trade <241 CONFLICT BETWEEN WHITE AND BLACK LABOR>with which he
had served his master, during the more vigorous portion of his
days. Had they succeeded in driving the black freemen out of the
ship-yard, they would have determined also upon the removal of
the black slaves. The feeling was very bitter toward all colored
people in Baltimore, about this time (1836), and they--free and
slave suffered all manner of insult and wrong.

Until a very little before I went there, white and black ship
carpenters worked side by side, in the ship yards of Mr.
Gardiner, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Walter Price, and Mr. Robb. Nobody
seemed to see any impropriety in it. To outward seeming, all
hands were well satisfied. Some of the blacks were first rate
workmen, and were given jobs requiring highest skill. All at
once, however, the white carpenters knocked off, and swore that
they would no longer work on the same stage with free Negroes.
Taking advantage of the heavy contract resting upon Mr. Gardiner,
to have the war vessels for Mexico ready to launch in July, and
of the difficulty of getting other hands at that season of the
year, they swore they would not strike another blow for him,
unless he would discharge his free colored workmen.

Now, although this movement did not extend to me, _in form_, it
did reach me, _in fact_. The spirit which it awakened was one of
malice and bitterness, toward colored people _generally_, and I
suffered with the rest, and suffered severely. My fellow
apprentices very soon began to feel it to be degrading to work
with me. They began to put on high looks, and to talk
contemptuously and maliciously of _"the Niggers;"_ saying, that
"they would take the country," that "they ought to be killed."
Encouraged by the cowardly workmen, who, knowing me to be a
slave, made no issue with Mr. Gardiner about my being there,
these young men did their utmost to make it impossible for me to
stay. They seldom called me to do any thing, without coupling
the call with a curse, and Edward North, the biggest in every
thing, rascality included, ventured to strike me, whereupon I
picked him up, and threw <242>him into the dock. Whenever any of
them struck me, I struck back again, regardless of consequences.
I could manage any of them _singly_, and, while I could keep them
from combining, I succeeded very well. In the conflict which
ended my stay at Mr. Gardiner's, I was beset by four of them at
once--Ned North, Ned Hays, Bill Stewart, and Tom Humphreys. Two
of them were as large as myself, and they came near killing me,
in broad day light. The attack was made suddenly, and
simultaneously. One came in front, armed with a brick; there was
one at each side, and one behind, and they closed up around me.
I was struck on all sides; and, while I was attending to those in
front, I received a blow on my head, from behind, dealt with a
heavy hand-spike. I was completely stunned by the blow, and
fell, heavily, on the ground, among the timbers. Taking
advantage of my fall, they rushed upon me, and began to pound me
with their fists. I let them lay on, for a while, after I came
to myself, with a view of gaining strength. They did me little
damage, so far; but, finally, getting tired of that sport, I gave
a sudden surge, and, despite their weight, I rose to my hands and
knees. Just as I did this, one of their number (I know not
which) planted a blow with his boot in my left eye, which, for a
time, seemed to have burst my eyeball. When they saw my eye
completely closed, my face covered with blood, and I staggering
under the stunning blows they had given me, they left me. As
soon as I gathered sufficient strength, I picked up the hand-
spike, and, madly enough, attempted to pursue them; but here the
carpenters interfered, and compelled me to give up my frenzied
pursuit. It was impossible to stand against so many.

Dear reader, you can hardly believe the statement, but it is
true, and, therefore, I write it down: not fewer than fifty white
men stood by, and saw this brutal and shameless outrage
committed, and not a man of them all interposed a single word of
mercy. There were four against one, and that one's face was
beaten and battered most horribly, and no one said, "that is
enough;" but some cried out, "Kill him--kill him--kill the d--d
<243 CONDUCT OF MASTER HUGH>nigger! knock his brains out--he
struck a white person." I mention this inhuman outcry, to show
the character of the men, and the spirit of the times, at
Gardiner's ship yard, and, indeed, in Baltimore generally, in
1836. As I look back to this period, I am almost amazed that I
was not murdered outright, in that ship yard, so murderous was
the spirit which prevailed there. On two occasions, while there,
I came near losing my life. I was driving bolts in the hold,
through the keelson, with Hays. In its course, the bolt bent.
Hays cursed me, and said that it was my blow which bent the bolt.
I denied this, and charged it upon him. In a fit of rage he
seized an adze, and darted toward me. I met him with a maul, and
parried his blow, or I should have then lost my life. A son of
old Tom Lanman (the latter's double murder I have elsewhere
charged upon him), in the spirit of his miserable father, made an
assault upon me, but the blow with his maul missed me. After the
united assault of North, Stewart, Hays and Humphreys, finding
that the carpenters were as bitter toward me as the apprentices,
and that the latter were probably set on by the former, I found
my only chances for life was in flight. I succeeded in getting
away, without an additional blow. To strike a white man, was
death, by Lynch law, in Gardiner's ship yard; nor was there much
of any other law toward colored people, at that time, in any
other part of Maryland. The whole sentiment of Baltimore was
murderous.

After making my escape from the ship yard, I went straight home,
and related the story of the outrage to Master Hugh Auld; and it
is due to him to say, that his conduct--though he was not a
religious man--was every way more humane than that of his
brother, Thomas, when I went to the latter in a somewhat similar
plight, from the hands of _"Brother Edward Covey."_ He listened
attentively to my narration of the circumstances leading to the
ruffianly outrage, and gave many proofs of his strong indignation
at what was done. Hugh was a rough, but manly-hearted fellow,
and, at this time, his best nature showed itself.
<244>

The heart of my once almost over-kind mistress, Sophia, was again
melted in pity toward me. My puffed-out eye, and my scarred and
blood-covered face, moved the dear lady to tears. She kindly
drew a chair by me, and with friendly, consoling words, she took
water, and washed the blood from my face. No mother's hand could
have been more tender than hers. She bound up my head, and
covered my wounded eye with a lean piece of fresh beef. It was
almost compensation for the murderous assault, and my suffering,
that it furnished and occasion for the manifestation, once more,
of the orignally{sic} characteristic kindness of my mistress.
Her affectionate heart was not yet dead, though much hardened by
time and by circumstances.

As for Master Hugh's part, as I have said, he was furious about
it; and he gave expression to his fury in the usual forms of
speech in that locality. He poured curses on the heads of the
whole ship yard company, and swore that he would have
satisfaction for the outrage. His indignation was really strong
and healthy; but, unfortunately, it resulted from the thought
that his rights of property, in my person, had not been
respected, more than from any sense of the outrage committed on
me _as a man_. I inferred as much as this, from the fact that he
could, himself, beat and mangle when it suited him to do so.
Bent on having satisfaction, as he said, just as soon as I got a
little the better of my bruises, Master Hugh took me to Esquire
Watson's office, on Bond street, Fell's Point, with a view to
procuring the arrest of those who had assaulted me. He related
the outrage to the magistrate, as I had related it to him, and
seemed to expect that a warrant would, at once, be issued for the
arrest of the lawless ruffians.

Mr. Watson heard it all, and instead of drawing up his warrant,
he inquired.--

"Mr. Auld, who saw this assault of which you speak?"

"It was done, sir, in the presence of a ship yard full of hands."

"Sir," said Watson, "I am sorry, but I cannot move in this matter
except upon the oath of white witnesses."
<245 COLORED TESTIMONY NOTHING>

"But here's the boy; look at his head and face," said the excited
Master Hugh; _"they_ show _what_ has been done."

But Watson insisted that he was not authorized to do anything,
unless _white_ witnesses of the transaction would come forward,
and testify to what had taken place. He could issue no warrant
on my word, against white persons; and, if I had been killed in
the presence of a _thousand blacks_, their testimony, combined
would have been insufficient to arrest a single murderer. Master
Hugh, for once, was compelled to say, that this state of things
was _too bad;_ and he left the office of the magistrate,
disgusted.

Of course, it was impossible to get any white man to testify
against my assailants. The carpenters saw what was done; but the
actors were but the agents of their malice, and only what the
carpenters sanctioned. They had cried, with one accord, _"Kill
the nigger!" "Kill the nigger!"_ Even those who may have pitied
me, if any such were among them, lacked the moral courage to come
and volunteer their evidence. The slightest manifestation of
sympathy or justice toward a person of color, was denounced as
abolitionism; and the name of abolitionist, subjected its bearer
to frightful liabilities. "D--n _abolitionists,"_ and _"Kill the
niggers,"_ were the watch-words of the foul-mouthed ruffians of
those days. Nothing was done, and probably there would not have
been any thing done, had I been killed in the affray. The laws
and the morals of the Christian city of Baltimore, afforded no
protection to the sable denizens of that city.

Master Hugh, on finding he could get no redress for the cruel
wrong, withdrew me from the employment of Mr. Gardiner, and took
me into his own family, Mrs. Auld kindly taking care of me, and
dressing my wounds, until they were healed, and I was ready to go
again to work.

While I was on the Eastern Shore, Master Hugh had met with
reverses, which overthrew his business; and he had given up ship
building in his own yard, on the City Block, and was now acting
as foreman of Mr. Walter Price. The best he could now do for me,
<246>was to take me into Mr. Price's yard, and afford me the
facilities there, for completing the trade which I had began to
learn at Gardiner's. Here I rapidly became expert in the use of
my calking tools; and, in the course of a single year, I was able
to command the highest wages paid to journeymen calkers in
Baltimore.

The reader will observe that I was now of some pecuniary value to
my master. During the busy season, I was bringing six and seven
dollars per week. I have, sometimes, brought him as much as nine
dollars a week, for the wages were a dollar and a half per day.

After learning to calk, I sought my own employment, made my own
contracts, and collected my own earnings; giving Master Hugh no
trouble in any part of the transactions to which I was a party.

Here, then, were better days for the Eastern Shore _slave_. I
was now free from the vexatious assalts{sic} of the apprentices
at Mr. Gardiner's; and free from the perils of plantation life,
and once more in a favorable condition to increase my little
stock of education, which had been at a dead stand since my
removal from Baltimore. I had, on the Eastern Shore, been only a
teacher, when in company with other slaves, but now there were
colored persons who could instruct me. Many of the young calkers
could read, write and cipher. Some of them had high notions
about mental improvement; and the free ones, on Fell's Point,
organized what they called the _"East Baltimore Mental
Improvement Society."_ To this society, notwithstanding it was
intended that only free persons should attach themselves, I was
admitted, and was, several times, assigned a prominent part in
its debates. I owe much to the society of these young men.

The reader already knows enough of the _ill_ effects of good
treatment on a slave, to anticipate what was now the case in my
improved condition. It was not long before I began to show signs
of disquiet with slavery, and to look around for means to get out
of that condition by the shortest route. I was living among
_free_<247 MY CONDITION IMPROVES>_men;_ and was, in all respects,
equal to them by nature and by attainments. _Why should I be a
slave?_ There was _no_ reason why I should be the thrall of any
man.

Besides, I was now getting--as I have said--a dollar and fifty
cents per day. I contracted for it, worked for it, earned it,
collected it; it was paid to me, and it was _rightfully_ my own;
and yet, upon every returning Saturday night, this money--my own
hard earnings, every cent of it--was demanded of me, and taken
from me by Master Hugh. He did not earn it; he had no hand in
earning it; why, then, should he have it? I owed him nothing.
He had given me no schooling, and I had received from him only my
food and raiment; and for these, my services were supposed to
pay, from the first. The right to take my earnings, was the
right of the robber. He had the power to compel me to give him
the fruits of my labor, and this power was his only right in the
case. I became more and more dissatisfied with this state of
things; and, in so becoming, I only gave proof of the same human
nature which every reader of this chapter in my life--
slaveholder, or nonslaveholder--is conscious of possessing.

To make a contented slave, you must make a thoughtless one. It
is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far
as possible, to annihilate his power of reason. He must be able
to detect no inconsistencies in slavery. The man that takes his
earnings, must be able to convince him that he has a perfect
right to do so. It must not depend upon mere force; the slave
must know no Higher Law than his master's will. The whole
relationship must not only demonstrate, to his mind, its
necessity, but its absolute rightfulness. If there be one
crevice through which a single drop can fall, it will certainly
rust off the slave's chain.

CHAPTER XXI
_My Escape from Slavery_

CLOSING INCIDENTS OF "MY LIFE AS A SLAVE"--REASONS WHY FULL
PARTICULARS OF THE MANNER OF MY ESCAPE WILL NOT BE GIVEN--
CRAFTINESS AND MALICE OF SLAVEHOLDERS--SUSPICION OF AIDING A
SLAVE'S ESCAPE ABOUT AS DANGEROUS AS POSITIVE EVIDENCE--WANT OF
WISDOM SHOWN IN PUBLISHING DETAILS OF THE ESCAPE OF THE
FUGITIVES--PUBLISHED ACCOUNTS REACH THE MASTERS, NOT THE SLAVES--
SLAVEHOLDERS STIMULATED TO GREATER WATCHFULNESS--MY CONDITION--
DISCONTENT--SUSPICIONS IMPLIED BY MASTER HUGH'S MANNER, WHEN
RECEIVING MY WAGES--HIS OCCASIONAL GENEROSITY!--DIFFICULTIES IN
THE WAY OF ESCAPE--EVERY AVENUE GUARDED--PLAN TO OBTAIN MONEY--I
AM ALLOWED TO HIRE MY TIME--A GLEAM OF HOPE--ATTENDS CAMP-
MEETING, WITHOUT PERMISSION--ANGER OF MASTER HUGH THEREAT--THE
RESULT--MY PLANS OF ESCAPE ACCELERATED THERBY--THE DAY FOR MY
DEPARTURE FIXED--HARASSED BY DOUBTS AND FEARS--PAINFUL THOUGHTS
OF SEPARATION FROM FRIENDS--THE ATTEMPT MADE--ITS SUCCESS.

I will now make the kind reader acquainted with the closing
incidents of my "Life as a Slave," having already trenched upon
the limit allotted to my "Life as a Freeman." Before, however,
proceeding with this narration, it is, perhaps, proper that I
should frankly state, in advance, my intention to withhold a part
of the{sic} connected with my escape from slavery. There are
reasons for this suppression, which I trust the reader will deem
altogether valid. It may be easily conceived, that a full and
complete statement of all facts pertaining to the flight of a
bondman, might implicate and embarrass some who may have,
wittingly or unwittingly, assisted him; and no one can wish me to
involve any man or <249 MANNER OF MY ESCAPE NOT GIVEN>woman who
has befriended me, even in the liability of embarrassment or
trouble.

Keen is the scent of the slaveholder; like the fangs of the
rattlesnake, his malice retains its poison long; and, although it
is now nearly seventeen years since I made my escape, it is well
to be careful, in dealing with the circumstances relating to it.
Were I to give but a shadowy outline of the process adopted, with
characteristic aptitude, the crafty and malicious among the
slaveholders might, possibly, hit upon the track I pursued, and
involve some one in suspicion which, in a slave state, is about
as bad as positive evidence. The colored man, there, must not
only shun evil, but shun the very _appearance_ of evil, or be
condemned as a criminal. A slaveholding community has a peculiar
taste for ferreting out offenses against the slave system,
justice there being more sensitive in its regard for the peculiar
rights of this system, than for any other interest or
institution. By stringing together a train of events and
circumstances, even if I were not very explicit, the means of
escape might be ascertained, and, possibly, those means be
rendered, thereafter, no longer available to the liberty-seeking
children of bondage I have left behind me. No antislavery man
can wish me to do anything favoring such results, and no
slaveholding reader has any right to expect the impartment of
such information.

While, therefore, it would afford me pleasure, and perhaps would
materially add to the interest of my story, were I at liberty to
gratify a curiosity which I know to exist in the minds of many,
as to the manner of my escape, I must deprive myself of this
pleasure, and the curious of the gratification, which such a
statement of facts would afford. I would allow myself to suffer
under the greatest imputations that evil minded men might
suggest, rather than exculpate myself by explanation, and thereby
run the hazards of closing the slightest avenue by which a
brother in suffering might clear himself of the chains and
fetters of slavery.

The practice of publishing every new invention by which a
<250>slave is known to have escaped from slavery, has neither
wisdom nor necessity to sustain it. Had not Henry Box Brown and
his friends attracted slaveholding attention to the manner of his
escape, we might have had a thousand _Box Browns_ per annum. The
singularly original plan adopted by William and Ellen Crafts,
perished with the first using, because every slaveholder in the
land was apprised of it. The _salt water slave_ who hung in the
guards of a steamer, being washed three days and three nights--
like another Jonah--by the waves of the sea, has, by the
publicity given to the circumstance, set a spy on the guards of
every steamer departing from southern ports.

I have never approved of the very public manner, in which some of
our western friends have conducted what _they_ call the _"Under-
ground Railroad,"_ but which, I think, by their open
declarations, has been made, most emphatically, the _"Upper_-
ground Railroad." Its stations are far better known to the
slaveholders than to the slaves. I honor those good men and
women for their noble daring, in willingly subjecting themselves
to persecution, by openly avowing their participation in the
escape of slaves; nevertheless, the good resulting from such
avowals, is of a very questionable character. It may kindle an
enthusiasm, very pleasant to inhale; but that is of no practical
benefit to themselves, nor to the slaves escaping. Nothing is
more evident, than that such disclosures are a positive evil to
the slaves remaining, and seeking to escape. In publishing such
accounts, the anti-slavery man addresses the slaveholder, _not
the slave;_ he stimulates the former to greater watchfulness, and
adds to his facilities for capturing his slave. We owe something
to the slaves, south of Mason and Dixon's line, as well as to
those north of it; and, in discharging the duty of aiding the
latter, on their way to freedom, we should be careful to do
nothing which would be likely to hinder the former, in making
their escape from slavery. Such is my detestation of slavery,
that I would keep the merciless slaveholder profoundly ignorant
of the means of flight adopted by the slave. He <251 CRAFTINESS
OF SLAVEHOLDERS>should be left to imagine himself surrounded by
myriads of invisible tormentors, ever ready to snatch, from his
infernal grasp, his trembling prey. In pursuing his victim, let
him be left to feel his way in the dark; let shades of darkness,
commensurate with his crime, shut every ray of light from his
pathway; and let him be made to feel, that, at every step he
takes, with the hellish purpose of reducing a brother man to
slavery, he is running the frightful risk of having his hot
brains dashed out by an invisible hand.

But, enough of this. I will now proceed to the statement of
those facts, connected with my escape, for which I am alone
responsible, and for which no one can be made to suffer but
myself.

My condition in the year (1838) of my escape, was, comparatively,
a free and easy one, so far, at least, as the wants of the
physical man were concerned; but the reader will bear in mind,
that my troubles from the beginning, have been less physical than
mental, and he will thus be prepared to find, after what is
narrated in the previous chapters, that slave life was adding
nothing to its charms for me, as I grew older, and became better
acquainted with it. The practice, from week to week, of openly
robbing me of all my earnings, kept the nature and character of
slavery constantly before me. I could be robbed by
_indirection_, but this was _too_ open and barefaced to be
endured. I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each
week, pour the reward of my honest toil into the purse of any
man. The thought itself vexed me, and the manner in which Master
Hugh received my wages, vexed me more than the original wrong.
Carefully counting the money and rolling it out, dollar by
dollar, he would look me in the face, as if he would search my
heart as well as my pocket, and reproachfully ask me, "_Is that
all_?"--implying that I had, perhaps, kept back part of my wages;
or, if not so, the demand was made, possibly, to make me feel,
that, after all, I was an "unprofitable servant." Draining me of
the last cent of my hard earnings, he would, however,
occasionally--when I brought <252>home an extra large sum--dole
out to me a sixpence or a shilling, with a view, perhaps, of
kindling up my gratitude; but this practice had the opposite
effect--it was an admission of _my right to the whole sum_. The
fact, that he gave me any part of my wages, was proof that he
suspected that I had a right _to the whole of them_. I always
felt uncomfortable, after having received anything in this way,
for I feared that the giving me a few cents, might, possibly,
ease his conscience, and make him feel himself a pretty honorable
robber, after all!

Held to a strict account, and kept under a close watch--the old
suspicion of my running away not having been entirely removed--
escape from slavery, even in Baltimore, was very difficult. The
railroad from Baltimore to Philadelphia was under regulations so
stringent, that even _free_ colored travelers were almost
excluded. They must have _free_ papers; they must be measured
and carefully examined, before they were allowed to enter the
cars; they only went in the day time, even when so examined. The
steamboats were under regulations equally stringent. All the
great turnpikes, leading northward, were beset with kidnappers, a
class of men who watched the newspapers for advertisements for
runaway slaves, making their living by the accursed reward of
slave hunting.

My discontent grew upon me, and I was on the look-out for means
of escape. With money, I could easily have managed the matter,
and, therefore, I hit upon the plan of soliciting the privilege
of hiring my time. It is quite common, in Baltimore, to allow
slaves this privilege, and it is the practice, also, in New
Orleans. A slave who is considered trustworthy, can, by paying
his master a definite sum regularly, at the end of each week,
dispose of his time as he likes. It so happened that I was not
in very good odor, and I was far from being a trustworthy slave.
Nevertheless, I watched my opportunity when Master Thomas came to
Baltimore (for I was still his property, Hugh only acted as his
agent) in the spring of 1838, to purchase his spring supply of
goods, <253 ALLOWED TO HIRE MY TIME>and applied to him, directly,
for the much-coveted privilege of hiring my time. This request
Master Thomas unhesitatingly refused to grant; and he charged me,
with some sternness, with inventing this stratagem to make my
escape. He told me, "I could go _nowhere_ but he could catch me;
and, in the event of my running away, I might be assured he
should spare no pains in his efforts to recapture me. He
recounted, with a good deal of eloquence, the many kind offices
he had done me, and exhorted me to be contented and obedient.
"Lay out no plans for the future," said he. "If you behave
yourself properly, I will take care of you." Now, kind and
considerate as this offer was, it failed to soothe me into
repose. In spite of Master Thomas, and, I may say, in spite of
myself, also, I continued to think, and worse still, to think
almost exclusively about the injustice and wickedness of slavery.
No effort of mine or of his could silence this trouble-giving
thought, or change my purpose to run away.

About two months after applying to Master Thomas for the
privilege of hiring my time, I applied to Master Hugh for the
same liberty, supposing him to be unacquainted with the fact that
I had made a similar application to Master Thomas, and had been
refused. My boldness in making this request, fairly astounded
him at the first. He gazed at me in amazement. But I had many
good reasons for pressing the matter; and, after listening to
them awhile, he did not absolutely refuse, but told me he would
think of it. Here, then, was a gleam of hope. Once master of my
own time, I felt sure that I could make, over and above my
obligation to him, a dollar or two every week. Some slaves have
made enough, in this way, to purchase their freedom. It is a
sharp spur to industry; and some of the most enterprising colored
men in Baltimore hire themselves in this way. After mature
reflection--as I must suppose it was Master Hugh granted me the
privilege in question, on the following terms: I was to be
allowed all my time; to make all bargains for work; to find my
own employment, and to collect my own wages; and, <254>in return
for this liberty, I was required, or obliged, to pay him three
dollars at the end of each week, and to board and clothe myself,
and buy my own calking tools. A failure in any of these
particulars would put an end to my privilege. This was a hard
bargain. The wear and tear of clothing, the losing and breaking
of tools, and the expense of board, made it necessary for me to
earn at least six dollars per week, to keep even with the world.
All who are acquainted with calking, know how uncertain and
irregular that employment is. It can be done to advantage only
in dry weather, for it is useless to put wet oakum into a seam.
Rain or shine, however, work or no work, at the end of each week
the money must be forthcoming.

Master Hugh seemed to be very much pleased, for a time, with this
arrangement; and well he might be, for it was decidedly in his
favor. It relieved him of all anxiety concerning me. His money
was sure. He had armed my love of liberty with a lash and a
driver, far more efficient than any I had before known; and,
while he derived all the benefits of slaveholding by the
arrangement, without its evils, I endured all the evils of being
a slave, and yet suffered all the care and anxiety of a
responsible freeman. "Nevertheless," thought I, "it is a
valuable privilege another step in my career toward freedom." It
was something even to be permitted to stagger under the
disadvantages of liberty, and I was determined to hold on to the
newly gained footing, by all proper industry. I was ready to
work by night as well as by day; and being in the enjoyment of
excellent health, I was able not only to meet my current
expenses, but also to lay by a small sum at the end of each week.
All went on thus, from the month of May till August; then--for
reasons which will become apparent as I proceed--my much valued
liberty was wrested from me.

During the week previous to this (to me) calamitous event, I had
made arrangements with a few young friends, to accompany them, on
Saturday night, to a camp-meeting, held about twelve miles from
Baltimore. On the evening of our intended start for <255 I
ATTEND CAMP-MEETING>the camp-ground, something occurred in the
ship yard where I was at work, which detained me unusually late,
and compelled me either to disappoint my young friends, or to
neglect carrying my weekly dues to Master Hugh. Knowing that I
had the money, and could hand it to him on another day, I decided
to go to camp-meeting, and to pay him the three dollars, for the
past week, on my return. Once on the camp-ground, I was induced
to remain one day longer than I had intended, when I left home.
But, as soon as I returned, I went straight to his house on Fell
street, to hand him his (my) money. Unhappily, the fatal mistake
had been committed. I found him exceedingly angry. He exhibited
all the signs of apprehension and wrath, which a slaveholder may
be surmised to exhibit on the supposed escape of a favorite
slave. "You rascal! I have a great mind to give you a severe
whipping. How dare you go out of the city without first asking
and obtaining my permission?" "Sir," said I, "I hired my time and
paid you the price you asked for it. I did not know that it was
any part of the bargain that I should ask you when or where I
should go."

"You did not know, you rascal! You are bound to show yourself
here every Saturday night." After reflecting, a few moments, he
became somewhat cooled down; but, evidently greatly troubled, he
said, "Now, you scoundrel! you have done for yourself; you shall
hire your time no longer. The next thing I shall hear of, will
be your running away. Bring home your tools and your clothes, at
once. I'll teach you how to go off in this way."

Thus ended my partial freedom. I could hire my time no longer;
and I obeyed my master's orders at once. The little taste of
liberty which I had had--although as the reader will have seen,
it was far from being unalloyed--by no means enhanced my
contentment with slavery. Punished thus by Master Hugh, it was
now my turn to punish him. "Since," thought I, "you _will_ make
a slave of me, I will await your orders in all things;" and,
instead of going to look for work on Monday morning, as I had
<256>formerly done, I remained at home during the entire week,
without the performance of a single stroke of work. Saturday
night came, and he called upon me, as usual, for my wages. I, of
course, told him I had done no work, and had no wages. Here we
were at the point of coming to blows. His wrath had been
accumulating during the whole week; for he evidently saw that I
was making no effort to get work, but was most aggravatingly
awaiting his orders, in all things. As I look back to this
behavior of mine, I scarcely know what possessed me, thus to
trifle with those who had such unlimited power to bless or to
blast me. Master Hugh raved and swore his determination to _"get
hold of me;"_ but, wisely for _him_, and happily for _me_, his
wrath only employed those very harmless, impalpable missiles,
which roll from a limber tongue. In my desperation, I had fully
made up my mind to measure strength with Master Hugh, in case he
should undertake to execute his threats. I am glad there was no
necessity for this; for resistance to him could not have ended so
happily for me, as it did in the case of Covey. He was not a man
to be safely resisted by a slave; and I freely own, that in my
conduct toward him, in this instance, there was more folly than
wisdom. Master Hugh closed his reproofs, by telling me that,
hereafter, I need give myself no uneasiness about getting work;
that he "would, himself, see to getting work for me, and enough
of it, at that." This threat I confess had some terror in it;
and, on thinking the matter over, during the Sunday, I resolved,
not only to save him the trouble of getting me work, but that,
upon the third day of September, I would attempt to make my
escape from slavery. The refusal to allow me to hire my time,
therefore, hastened the period of flight. I had three weeks,
now, in which to prepare for my journey.

Once resolved, I felt a certain degree of repose, and on Monday,
instead of waiting for Master Hugh to seek employment for me, I
was up by break of day, and off to the ship yard of Mr. Butler,
on the City Block, near the draw-bridge. I was a favorite <257
PAINFUL THOUGHTS OF SEPARATION>with Mr. B., and, young as I was,
I had served as his foreman on the float stage, at calking. Of
course, I easily obtained work, and, at the end of the week--
which by the way was exceedingly fine I brought Master Hugh
nearly nine dollars. The effect of this mark of returning good
sense, on my part, was excellent. He was very much pleased; he
took the money, commended me, and told me I might have done the
same thing the week before. It is a blessed thing that the
tyrant may not always know the thoughts and purposes of his
victim. Master Hugh little knew what my plans were. The going
to camp-meeting without asking his permission--the insolent
answers made to his reproaches--the sulky deportment the week
after being deprived of the privilege of hiring my time--had
awakened in him the suspicion that I might be cherishing disloyal
purposes. My object, therefore, in working steadily, was to
remove suspicion, and in this I succeeded admirably. He probably
thought I was never better satisfied with my condition, than at
the very time I was planning my escape. The second week passed,
and again I carried him my full week's wages--_nine dollars;_ and
so well pleased was he, that he gave me TWENTY-FIVE CENTS! and
"bade me make good use of it!" I told him I would, for one of
the uses to which I meant to put it, was to pay my fare on the
underground railroad.

Things without went on as usual; but I was passing through the
same internal excitement and anxiety which I had experienced two
years and a half before. The failure, in that instance, was not
calculated to increase my confidence in the success of this, my
second attempt; and I knew that a second failure could not leave
me where my first did--I must either get to the _far north_, or
be sent to the _far south_. Besides the exercise of mind from
this state of facts, I had the painful sensation of being about
to separate from a circle of honest and warm hearted friends, in
Baltimore. The thought of such a separation, where the hope of
ever meeting again is excluded, and where there can be no
correspondence, is very painful. It is my opinion, that
thousands would escape from <258>slavery who now remain there,
but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their
families, relatives and friends. The daughter is hindered from
escaping, by the love she bears her mother, and the father, by
the love he bears his children; and so, to the end of the
chapter. I had no relations in Baltimore, and I saw no
probability of ever living in the neighborhood of sisters and
brothers; but the thought of leaving my friends, was among the
strongest obstacles to my running away. The last two days of the
week--Friday and Saturday--were spent mostly in collecting my
things together, for my journey. Having worked four days that
week, for my master, I handed him six dollars, on Saturday night.
I seldom spent my Sundays at home; and, for fear that something
might be discovered in my conduct, I kept up my custom, and
absented myself all day. On Monday, the third day of September,
1838, in accordance with my resolution, I bade farewell to the
city of Baltimore, and to that slavery which had been my
abhorrence from childhood.

How I got away--in what direction I traveled--whether by land or
by water; whether with or without assistance--must, for reasons
already mentioned, remain unexplained.

LIFE
_as a_
FREEMAN

CHAPTER XXII
_Liberty Attained_

TRANSITION FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM--A WANDERER IN NEW YORK--
FEELINGS ON REACHING THAT CITY--AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE MET--
UNFAVORABLE IMPRESSIONS--LONELINESS AND INSECURITY--APOLOGY FOR
SLAVES WHO RETURN TO THEIR MASTERS--COMPELLED TO TELL MY
CONDITION--SUCCORED BY A SAILOR--DAVID RUGGLES--THE UNDERGROUND
RAILROAD--MARRIAGE--BAGGAGE TAKEN FROM ME--KINDNESS OF NATHAN
JOHNSON--MY CHANGE OF NAME--DARK NOTIONS OF NORTHERN
CIVILIZATION--THE CONTRAST--COLORED PEOPLE IN NEW BEDFORD--AN
INCIDENT ILLUSTRATING THEIR SPIRIT--A COMMON LABORER--DENIED WORK
AT MY TRADE--THE FIRST WINTER AT THE NORTH--REPULSE AT THE DOORS
OF THE CHURCH--SANCTIFIED HATE--THE _Liberator_ AND ITS EDITOR.

There is no necessity for any extended notice of the incidents of
this part of my life. There is nothing very striking or peculiar
about my career as a freeman, when viewed apart from my life as a
slave. The relation subsisting between my early experience and
that which I am now about to narrate, is, perhaps, my best
apology for adding another chapter to this book.

Disappearing from the kind reader, in a flying cloud or balloon
(pardon the figure), driven by the wind, and knowing not where I
should land--whether in slavery or in freedom--it is proper that
I should remove, at once, all anxiety, by frankly making known
where I alighted. The flight was a bold and perilous one; but
here I am, in the great city of New York, safe and sound, without
loss of blood or bone. In less than a week after leaving
Baltimore, I was walking amid the hurrying throng, and gazing
upon the dazzling wonders of Broadway. The dreams <262>of my
childhood and the purposes of my manhood were now fulfilled. A
free state around me, and a free earth under my feet! What a
moment was this to me! A whole year was pressed into a single
day. A new world burst upon my agitated vision. I have often
been asked, by kind friends to whom I have told my story, how I
felt when first I found myself beyond the limits of slavery; and
I must say here, as I have often said to them, there is scarcely
anything about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer.
It was a moment of joyous excitement, which no words can
describe. In a letter to a friend, written soon after reaching
New York. I said I felt as one might be supposed to feel, on
escaping from a den of hungry lions. But, in a moment like that,
sensations are too intense and too rapid for words. Anguish and
grief, like darkness and rain, may be described, but joy and
gladness, like the rainbow of promise, defy alike the pen and
pencil.

For ten or fifteen years I had been dragging a heavy chain, with
a huge block attached to it, cumbering my every motion. I had
felt myself doomed to drag this chain and this block through
life. All efforts, before, to separate myself from the hateful
encumbrance, had only seemed to rivet me the more firmly to it.
Baffled and discouraged at times, I had asked myself the
question, May not this, after all, be God's work? May He not,
for wise ends, have doomed me to this lot? A contest had been
going on in my mind for years, between the clear consciousness of
right and the plausible errors of superstition; between the
wisdom of manly courage, and the foolish weakness of timidity.
The contest was now ended; the chain was severed; God and right
stood vindicated. I was A FREEMAN, and the voice of peace and
joy thrilled my heart.

Free and joyous, however, as I was, joy was not the only
sensation I experienced. It was like the quick blaze, beautiful
at the first, but which subsiding, leaves the building charred
and desolate. I was soon taught that I was still in an enemy's
land. A sense of loneliness and insecurity oppressed me sadly.
I had <263 MEET WITH A FUGITIVE SLAVE>been but a few hours in New
York, before I was met in the streets by a fugitive slave, well
known to me, and the information I got from him respecting New
York, did nothing to lessen my apprehension of danger. The
fugitive in question was "Allender's Jake," in Baltimore; but,
said he, I am "WILLIAM DIXON," in New York! I knew Jake well,
and knew when Tolly Allender and Mr. Price (for the latter
employed Master Hugh as his foreman, in his shipyard on Fell's
Point) made an attempt to recapture Jake, and failed. Jake told
me all about his circumstances, and how narrowly he escaped being
taken back to slavery; that the city was now full of southerners,
returning from the springs; that the black people in New York
were not to be trusted; that there were hired men on the lookout
for fugitives from slavery, and who, for a few dollars, would
betray me into the hands of the slave-catchers; that I must trust
no man with my secret; that I must not think of going either on
the wharves to work, or to a boarding-house to board; and, worse
still, this same Jake told me it was not in his power to help me.
He seemed, even while cautioning me, to be fearing lest, after
all, I might be a party to a second attempt to recapture him.
Under the inspiration of this thought, I must suppose it was, he
gave signs of a wish to get rid of me, and soon left me his
whitewash brush in hand--as he said, for his work. He was soon
lost to sight among the throng, and I was alone again, an easy
prey to the kidnappers, if any should happen to be on my track.

New York, seventeen years ago, was less a place of safety for a
runaway slave than now, and all know how unsafe it now is, under
the new fugitive slave bill. I was much troubled. I had very
little money enough to buy me a few loaves of bread, but not
enough to pay board, outside a lumber yard. I saw the wisdom of
keeping away from the ship yards, for if Master Hugh pursued me,
he would naturally expect to find me looking for work among the
calkers. For a time, every door seemed closed against me. A
sense of my loneliness and helplessness crept over me, <264>and
covered me with something bordering on despair. In the midst of
thousands of my fellowmen, and yet a perfect stranger! In the
midst of human brothers, and yet more fearful of them than of
hungry wolves! I was without home, without friends, without
work, without money, and without any definite knowledge of which
way to go, or where to look for succor.

Some apology can easily be made for the few slaves who have,
after making good their escape, turned back to slavery,
preferring the actual rule of their masters, to the life of
loneliness, apprehension, hunger, and anxiety, which meets them
on their first arrival in a free state. It is difficult for a
freeman to enter into the feelings of such fugitives. He cannot
see things in the same light with the slave, because he does not,
and cannot, look from the same point from which the slave does.
"Why do you tremble," he says to the slave "you are in a free
state;" but the difficulty is, in realizing that he is in a free
state, the slave might reply. A freeman cannot understand why
the slave-master's shadow is bigger, to the slave, than the might
and majesty of a free state; but when he reflects that the slave
knows more about the slavery of his master than he does of the
might and majesty of the free state, he has the explanation. The
slave has been all his life learning the power of his master--
being trained to dread his approach--and only a few hours
learning the power of the state. The master is to him a stern
and flinty reality, but the state is little more than a dream.
He has been accustomed to regard every white man as the friend of
his master, and every colored man as more or less under the
control of his master's friends--the white people. It takes
stout nerves to stand up, in such circumstances. A man,
homeless, shelterless, breadless, friendless, and moneyless, is
not in a condition to assume a very proud or joyous tone; and in
just this condition was I, while wandering about the streets of
New York city and lodging, at least one night, among the barrels
on one of its wharves. I was not only free from slavery, but I
was free from home, as well. The reader <265 MARRIAGE>will
easily see that I had something more than the simple fact of
being free to think of, in this extremity.

I kept my secret as long as I could, and at last was forced to go
in search of an honest man--a man sufficiently _human_ not to
betray me into the hands of slave-catchers. I was not a bad
reader of the human face, nor long in selecting the right man,
when once compelled to disclose the facts of my condition to some
one.

I found my man in the person of one who said his name was
Stewart. He was a sailor, warm-hearted and generous, and he
listened to my story with a brother's interest. I told him I was
running for my freedom--knew not where to go--money almost gone--
was hungry--thought it unsafe to go the shipyards for work, and
needed a friend. Stewart promptly put me in the way of getting
out of my trouble. He took me to his house, and went in search
of the late David Ruggles, who was then the secretary of the New
York Vigilance Committee, and a very active man in all anti-
slavery works. Once in the hands of Mr. Ruggles, I was
comparatively safe. I was hidden with Mr. Ruggles several days.
In the meantime, my intended wife, Anna, came on from Baltimore--
to whom I had written, informing her of my safe arrival at New
York--and, in the presence of Mrs. Mitchell and Mr. Ruggles, we
were married, by Rev. James W. C. Pennington.

Mr. Ruggles[7] was the first officer on the under-ground railroad
with whom I met after reaching the north, and, indeed, the first
of whom I ever heard anything. Learning that I was a calker by
trade, he promptly decided that New Bedford was the proper

[7] He was a whole-souled man, fully imbued with a love of his
afflicted and hunted people, and took pleasure in being to me, as
was his wont, "Eyes to the blind, and legs to the lame." This
brave and devoted man suffered much from the persecutions common
to all who have been prominent benefactors. He at last became
blind, and needed a friend to guide him, even as he had been a
guide to others. Even in his blindness, he exhibited his manly
character. In search of health, he became a physician. When
hope of gaining is{sic} own was gone, he had hope for others.
Believing in hydropathy, he established, at Northampton,
Massachusetts, a large _"Water Cure,"_ and became one of the most
successful of all engaged in that mode of treatment.

<266>place to send me. "Many ships," said he, "are there fitted
out for the whaling business, and you may there find work at your
trade, and make a good living." Thus, in one fortnight after my
flight from Maryland, I was safe in New Bedford, regularly
entered upon the exercise of the rights, responsibilities, and
duties of a freeman.

I may mention a little circumstance which annoyed me on reaching
New Bedford. I had not a cent of money, and lacked two dollars
toward paying our fare from Newport, and our baggage not very
costly--was taken by the stage driver, and held until I could
raise the money to redeem it. This difficulty was soon
surmounted. Mr. Nathan Johnson, to whom we had a line from Mr.
Ruggles, not only received us kindly and hospitably, but, on
being informed about our baggage, promptly loaned me two dollars
with which to redeem my little property. I shall ever be deeply
grateful, both to Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Johnson, for the lively
interest they were pleased to take in me, in this hour of my
extremest need. They not only gave myself and wife bread and
shelter, but taught us how to begin to secure those benefits for
ourselves. Long may they live, and may blessings attend them in
this life and in that which is to come!

Once initiated into the new life of freedom, and assured by Mr.
Johnson that New Bedford was a safe place, the comparatively
unimportant matter, as to what should be my name, came up for
considertion{sic}. It was necessary to have a name in my new
relations. The name given me by my beloved mother was no less
pretentious than "Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey." I had,
however, before leaving Maryland, dispensed with the _Augustus
Washington_, and retained the name _Frederick Bailey_. Between
Baltimore and New Bedford, however, I had several different
names, the better to avoid being overhauled by the hunters, which
I had good reason to believe would be put on my track. Among
honest men an honest man may well be content with one name, and
to acknowledge it at all times and in all <267 CHANGE OF
NAME>places; but toward fugitives, Americans are not honest.
When I arrived at New Bedford, my name was Johnson; and finding
that the Johnson family in New Bedford were already quite
numerous--sufficiently so to produce some confusion in attempts
to distinguish one from another--there was the more reason for
making another change in my name. In fact, "Johnson" had been
assumed by nearly every slave who had arrived in New Bedford from
Maryland, and this, much to the annoyance of the original
"Johnsons" (of whom there were many) in that place. Mine host,
unwilling to have another of his own name added to the community
in this unauthorized way, after I spent a night and a day at his
house, gave me my present name. He had been reading the "Lady of
the Lake," and was pleased to regard me as a suitable person to
wear this, one of Scotland's many famous names. Considering the
noble hospitality and manly character of Nathan Johnson, I have
felt that he, better than I, illustrated the virtues of the great
Scottish chief. Sure I am, that had any slave-catcher entered
his domicile, with a view to molest any one of his household, he
would have shown himself like him of the "stalwart hand."

The reader will be amused at my ignorance, when I tell the
notions I had of the state of northern wealth, enterprise, and
civilization. Of wealth and refinement, I supposed the north had
none. My _Columbian Orator_, which was almost my only book, had
not done much to enlighten me concerning northern society. The
impressions I had received were all wide of the truth. New
Bedford, especially, took me by surprise, in the solid wealth and
grandeur there exhibited. I had formed my notions respecting the
social condition of the free states, by what I had seen and known
of free, white, non-slaveholding people in the slave states.
Regarding slavery as the basis of wealth, I fancied that no
people could become very wealthy without slavery. A free white
man, holding no slaves, in the country, I had known to be the
most ignorant and poverty-stricken of men, and the laugh<268>ing
stock even of slaves themselves--called generally by them, in
derision, _"poor white trash_." Like the non-slaveholders at the
south, in holding no slaves, I suppose the northern people like
them, also, in poverty and degradation. Judge, then, of my
amazement and joy, when I found--as I did find--the very laboring
population of New Bedford living in better houses, more elegantly
furnished--surrounded by more comfort and refinement--than a
majority of the slaveholders on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
There was my friend, Mr. Johnson, himself a colored man (who at
the south would have been regarded as a proper marketable
commodity), who lived in a better house--dined at a richer
board--was the owner of more books--the reader of more
newspapers--was more conversant with the political and social
condition of this nation and the world--than nine-tenths of all
the slaveholders of Talbot county, Maryland. Yet Mr. Johnson was
a working man, and his hands were hardened by honest toil. Here,
then, was something for observation and study. Whence the
difference? The explanation was soon furnished, in the
superiority of mind over simple brute force. Many pages might be
given to the contrast, and in explanation of its causes. But an
incident or two will suffice to show the reader as to how the
mystery gradually vanished before me.

My first afternoon, on reaching New Bedford, was spent in
visiting the wharves and viewing the shipping. The sight of the
broad brim and the plain, Quaker dress, which met me at every
turn, greatly increased my sense of freedom and security. "I am
among the Quakers," thought I, "and am safe." Lying at the
wharves and riding in the stream, were full-rigged ships of
finest model, ready to start on whaling voyages. Upon the right
and the left, I was walled in by large granite-fronted
warehouses, crowded with the good things of this world. On the
wharves, I saw industry without bustle, labor without noise, and
heavy toil without the whip. There was no loud singing, as in
southern ports, where ships are loading or unloading--no loud
cursing or swear<269 THE CONTRAST>ing--but everything went on as
smoothly as the works of a well adjusted machine. How different
was all this from the nosily fierce and clumsily absurd manner of
labor-life in Baltimore and St. Michael's! One of the first
incidents which illustrated the superior mental character of
northern labor over that of the south, was the manner of
unloading a ship's cargo of oil. In a southern port, twenty or
thirty hands would have been employed to do what five or six did
here, with the aid of a single ox attached to the end of a fall.
Main strength, unassisted by skill, is slavery's method of labor.
An old ox, worth eighty dollars, was doing, in New Bedford, what
would have required fifteen thousand dollars worth of human bones
and muscles to have performed in a southern port. I found that
everything was done here with a scrupulous regard to economy,
both in regard to men and things, time and strength. The maid
servant, instead of spending at least a tenth part of her time in
bringing and carrying water, as in Baltimore, had the pump at her
elbow. The wood was dry, and snugly piled away for winter.
Woodhouses, in-door pumps, sinks, drains, self-shutting gates,
washing machines, pounding barrels, were all new things, and told
me that I was among a thoughtful and sensible people. To the
ship-repairing dock I went, and saw the same wise prudence. The
carpenters struck where they aimed, and the calkers wasted no
blows in idle flourishes of the mallet. I learned that men went
from New Bedford to Baltimore, and bought old ships, and brought
them here to repair, and made them better and more valuable than
they ever were before. Men talked here of going whaling on a
four _years'_ voyage with more coolness than sailors where I came
from talked of going a four _months'_ voyage.

I now find that I could have landed in no part of the United
States, where I should have found a more striking and gratifying
contrast to the condition of the free people of color in
Baltimore, than I found here in New Bedford. No colored man is
really free in a slaveholding state. He wears the badge of
bondage while <270>nominally free, and is often subjected to
hardships to which the slave is a stranger; but here in New
Bedford, it was my good fortune to see a pretty near approach to
freedom on the part of the colored people. I was taken all aback
when Mr. Johnson--who lost no time in making me acquainted with
the fact--told me that there was nothing in the constitution of
Massachusetts to prevent a colored man from holding any office in
the state. There, in New Bedford, the black man's children--
although anti-slavery was then far from popular--went to school
side by side with the white children, and apparently without
objection from any quarter. To make me at home, Mr. Johnson
assured me that no slaveholder could take a slave from New
Bedford; that there were men there who would lay down their
lives, before such an outrage could be perpetrated. The colored
people themselves were of the best metal, and would fight for
liberty to the death.

Soon after my arrival in New Bedford, I was told the following
story, which was said to illustrate the spirit of the colored
people in that goodly town: A colored man and a fugitive slave
happened to have a little quarrel, and the former was heard to
threaten the latter with informing his master of his whereabouts.
As soon as this threat became known, a notice was read from the
desk of what was then the only colored church in the place,
stating that business of importance was to be then and there
transacted. Special measures had been taken to secure the
attendance of the would-be Judas, and had proved successful.
Accordingly, at the hour appointed, the people came, and the
betrayer also. All the usual formalities of public meetings were
scrupulously gone through, even to the offering prayer for Divine
direction in the duties of the occasion. The president himself
performed this part of the ceremony, and I was told that he was
unusually fervent. Yet, at the close of his prayer, the old man
(one of the numerous family of Johnsons) rose from his knees,
deliberately surveyed his audience, and then said, in a tone of
solemn resolution, _"Well, friends, we have got him here, and I
would now_ <271 COLORED PEOPLE IN NEW BEDFORD>_recommend that you
young men should just take him outside the door and kill him."_
With this, a large body of the congregation, who well understood
the business they had come there to transact, made a rush at the
villain, and doubtless would have killed him, had he not availed
himself of an open sash, and made good his escape. He has never
shown his head in New Bedford since that time. This little
incident is perfectly characteristic of the spirit of the colored
people in New Bedford. A slave could not be taken from that town
seventeen years ago, any more than he could be so taken away now.
The reason is, that the colored people in that city are educated
up to the point of fighting for their freedom, as well as
speaking for it.

Once assured of my safety in New Bedford, I put on the
habiliments of a common laborer, and went on the wharf in search
of work. I had no notion of living on the honest and generous
sympathy of my colored brother, Johnson, or that of the
abolitionists. My cry was like that of Hood's laborer, "Oh! only
give me work." Happily for me, I was not long in searching. I
found employment, the third day after my arrival in New Bedford,
in stowing a sloop with a load of oil for the New York market.
It was new, hard, and dirty work, even for a calker, but I went
at it with a glad heart and a willing hand. I was now my own
master--a tremendous fact--and the rapturous excitement with
which I seized the job, may not easily be understood, except by
some one with an experience like mine. The thoughts--"I can
work! I can work for a living; I am not afraid of work; I have
no Master Hugh to rob me of my earnings"--placed me in a state of
independence, beyond seeking friendship or support of any man.
That day's work I considered the real starting point of something
like a new existence. Having finished this job and got my pay
for the same, I went next in pursuit of a job at calking. It so
happened that Mr. Rodney French, late mayor of the city of New
Bedford, had a ship fitting out for sea, and to which there was a
large job of calking and coppering to be done. I applied to that
<272>noblehearted man for employment, and he promptly told me to
go to work; but going on the float-stage for the purpose, I was
informed that every white man would leave the ship if I struck a
blow upon her. "Well, well," thought I, "this is a hardship, but
yet not a very serious one for me." The difference between the
wages of a calker and that of a common day laborer, was an
hundred per cent in favor of the former; but then I was free, and
free to work, though not at my trade. I now prepared myself to
do anything which came to hand in the way of turning an honest
penny; sawed wood--dug cellars--shoveled coal--swept chimneys
with Uncle Lucas Debuty--rolled oil casks on the wharves--helped
to load and unload vessels--worked in Ricketson's candle works--
in Richmond's brass foundery, and elsewhere; and thus supported
myself and family for three years.

The first winter was unusually severe, in consequence of the high
prices of food; but even during that winter we probably suffered
less than many who had been free all their lives. During the
hardest of the winter, I hired out for nine dolars{sic} a month;
and out of this rented two rooms for nine dollars per quarter,
and supplied my wife--who was unable to work--with food and some
necessary articles of furniture. We were closely pinched to
bring our wants within our means; but the jail stood over the
way, and I had a wholesome dread of the consequences of running
in debt. This winter past, and I was up with the times--got
plenty of work--got well paid for it--and felt that I had not
done a foolish thing to leave Master Hugh and Master Thomas. I
was now living in a new world, and was wide awake to its
advantages. I early began to attend the meetings of the colored
people of New Bedford, and to take part in them. I was somewhat
amazed to see colored men drawing up resolutions and offering
them for consideration. Several colored young men of New
Bedford, at that period, gave promise of great usefulness. They
were educated, and possessed what seemed to me, at the time, very
superior talents. Some of them have been cut down by death, and
<273 THE CHURCH>others have removed to different parts of the
world, and some remain there now, and justify, in their present
activities, my early impressions of them.

Among my first concerns on reaching New Bedford, was to become
united with the church, for I had never given up, in reality, my
religious faith. I had become lukewarm and in a backslidden
state, but I was still convinced that it was my duty to join the
Methodist church. I was not then aware of the powerful influence
of that religious body in favor of the enslavement of my race,
nor did I see how the northern churches could be responsible for
the conduct of southern churches; neither did I fully understand
how it could be my duty to remain separate from the church,
because bad men were connected with it. The slaveholding church,
with its Coveys, Weedens, Aulds, and Hopkins, I could see through
at once, but I could not see how Elm Street church, in New
Bedford, could be regarded as sanctioning the Christianity of
these characters in the church at St. Michael's. I therefore
resolved to join the Methodist church in New Bedford, and to
enjoy the spiritual advantage of public worship. The minister of
the Elm Street Methodist church, was the Rev. Mr. Bonney; and
although I was not allowed a seat in the body of the house, and
was proscribed on account of my color, regarding this
proscription simply as an accommodation of the uncoverted
congregation who had not yet been won to Christ and his
brotherhood, I was willing thus to be proscribed, lest sinners
should be driven away form the saving power of the gospel. Once
converted, I thought they would be sure to treat me as a man and
a brother. "Surely," thought I, "these Christian people have
none of this feeling against color. They, at least, have
renounced this unholy feeling." Judge, then, dear reader, of my
astonishment and mortification, when I found, as soon I did find,
all my charitable assumptions at fault.

An opportunity was soon afforded me for ascertaining the exact
position of Elm Street church on that subject. I had a chance of
seeing the religious part of the congregation by themselves; and
<274>although they disowned, in effect, their black brothers and
sisters, before the world, I did think that where none but the
saints were assembled, and no offense could be given to the
wicked, and the gospel could not be "blamed," they would
certainly recognize us as children of the same Father, and heirs
of the same salvation, on equal terms with themselves.

The occasion to which I refer, was the sacrament of the Lord's
Supper, that most sacred and most solemn of all the ordinances of
the Christian church. Mr. Bonney had preached a very solemn and
searching discourse, which really proved him to be acquainted
with the inmost secerts{sic} of the human heart. At the close of
his discourse, the congregation was dismissed, and the church
remained to partake of the sacrament. I remained to see, as I
thought, this holy sacrament celebrated in the spirit of its
great Founder.

There were only about a half dozen colored members attached to
the Elm Street church, at this time. After the congregation was
dismissed, these descended from the gallery, and took a seat
against the wall most distant from the altar. Brother Bonney was
very animated, and sung very sweetly, "Salvation 'tis a joyful
sound," and soon began to administer the sacrament. I was
anxious to observe the bearing of the colored members, and the
result was most humiliating. During the whole ceremony, they
looked like sheep without a shepherd. The white members went
forward to the altar by the bench full; and when it was evident
that all the whites had been served with the bread and wine,
Brother Bonney--pious Brother Bonney--after a long pause, as if
inquiring whether all the whites members had been served, and
fully assuring himself on that important point, then raised his
voice to an unnatural pitch, and looking to the corner where his
black sheep seemed penned, beckoned with his hand, exclaiming,
"Come forward, colored friends! come forward! You, too, have an
interest in the blood of Christ. God is no respecter of persons.
Come forward, and take this holy sacrament to your <275 THE
SACRAMENT>comfort." The colored members poor, slavish souls went
forward, as invited. I went out, and have never been in that
church since, although I honestly went there with a view to
joining that body. I found it impossible to respect the
religious profession of any who were under the dominion of this
wicked prejudice, and I could not, therefore, feel that in
joining them, I was joining a Christian church, at all. I tried
other churches in New Bedford, with the same result, and finally,
I attached myself to a small body of colored Methodists, known as
the Zion Methodists. Favored with the affection and confidence
of the members of this humble communion, I was soon made a
classleader and a local preacher among them. Many seasons of
peace and joy I experienced among them, the remembrance of which
is still precious, although I could not see it to be my duty to
remain with that body, when I found that it consented to the same
spirit which held my brethren in chains.

In four or five months after reaching New Bedford, there came a
young man to me, with a copy of the _Liberator_, the paper edited
by WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, and published by ISAAC KNAPP, and
asked me to subscribe for it. I told him I had but just escaped
from slavery, and was of course very poor, and remarked further,
that I was unable to pay for it then; the agent, however, very
willingly took me as a subscriber, and appeared to be much
pleased with securing my name to his list. From this time I was
brought in contact with the mind of William Lloyd Garrison. His
paper took its place with me next to the bible.

The _Liberator_ was a paper after my own heart. It detested
slavery exposed hypocrisy and wickedness in high places--made no
truce with the traffickers in the bodies and souls of men; it
preached human brotherhood, denounced oppression, and, with all
the solemnity of God's word, demanded the complete emancipation
of my race. I not only liked--I _loved_ this paper, and its
editor. He seemed a match for all the oponents{sic} of
emancipation, whether they spoke in the name of the law, or the
gospel. <276>His words were few, full of holy fire, and straight
to the point. Learning to love him, through his paper, I was
prepared to be pleased with his presence. Something of a hero
worshiper, by nature, here was one, on first sight, to excite my
love and reverence.

Seventeen years ago, few men possessed a more heavenly
countenance than William Lloyd Garrison, and few men evinced a
more genuine or a more exalted piety. The bible was his text
book--held sacred, as the word of the Eternal Father--sinless
perfection--complete submission to insults and injuries--literal
obedience to the injunction, if smitten on one side to turn the
other also. Not only was Sunday a Sabbath, but all days were
Sabbaths, and to be kept holy. All sectarism false and
mischievous--the regenerated, throughout the world, members of
one body, and the HEAD Christ Jesus. Prejudice against color was
rebellion against God. Of all men beneath the sky, the slaves,
because most neglected and despised, were nearest and dearest to
his great heart. Those ministers who defended slavery from the
bible, were of their "father the devil"; and those churches which
fellowshiped slaveholders as Christians, were synagogues of
Satan, and our nation was a nation of liars. Never loud or
noisy--calm and serene as a summer sky, and as pure. "You are
the man, the Moses, raised up by God, to deliver his modern
Israel from bondage," was the spontaneous feeling of my heart, as
I sat away back in the hall and listened to his mighty words;
mighty in truth--mighty in their simple earnestness.

I had not long been a reader of the _Liberator_, and listener to
its editor, before I got a clear apprehension of the principles
of the anti-slavery movement. I had already the spirit of the
movement, and only needed to understand its principles and
measures. These I got from the _Liberator_, and from those who
believed in that paper. My acquaintance with the movement
increased my hope for the ultimate freedom of my race, and I
united with it from a sense of delight, as well as duty.
<277 THE _Liberator_>

Every week the _Liberator_ came, and every week I made myself
master of its contents. All the anti-slavery meetings held in
New Bedford I promptly attended, my heart burning at every true
utterance against the slave system, and every rebuke of its
friends and supporters. Thus passed the first three years of my
residence in New Bedford. I had not then dreamed of the
posibility{sic} of my becoming a public advocate of the cause so
deeply imbedded in my heart. It was enough for me to listen--to
receive and applaud the great words of others, and only whisper
in private, among the white laborers on the wharves, and
elsewhere, the truths which burned in my breast.

CHAPTER XXIII
_Introduced to the Abolitionists_

FIRST SPEECH AT NANTUCKET--MUCH SENSATION--EXTRAORDINARY SPEECH
OF MR. GARRISON--AUTHOR BECOMES A PUBLIC LECTURER--FOURTEEN YEARS
EXPERIENCE--YOUTHFUL ENTHUSIASM--A BRAND NEW FACT--MATTER OF MY
AUTHOR'S SPEECH--COULD NOT FOLLOW THE PROGRAMME--FUGITIVE
SLAVESHIP DOUBTED--TO SETTLE ALL DOUBT I WRITE MY EXPERIENCE OF
SLAVERY--DANGER OF RECAPTURE INCREASED.

In the summer of 1841, a grand anti-slavery convention was held
in Nantucket, under the auspices of Mr. Garrison and his friends.
Until now, I had taken no holiday since my escape from slavery.
Having worked very hard that spring and summer, in Richmond's
brass foundery--sometimes working all night as well as all day--
and needing a day or two of rest, I attended this convention,
never supposing that I should take part in the proceedings.
Indeed, I was not aware that any one connected with the
convention even so much as knew my name. I was, however, quite
mistaken. Mr. William C. Coffin, a prominent abolitionst{sic} in
those days of trial, had heard me speaking to my colored friends,
in the little school house on Second street, New Bedford, where
we worshiped. He sought me out in the crowd, and invited me to
say a few words to the convention. Thus sought out, and thus
invited, I was induced to speak out the feelings inspired by the
occasion, and the fresh recollection of the scenes through which
I had passed as a slave. My speech on this occasion is about the
only one I ever made, of which I do not remember a single
connected sentence. It was <279 EXTRAORDINARY SPEECH OF MR.
GARRISON>with the utmost difficulty that I could stand erect, or
that I could command and articulate two words without hesitation
and stammering. I trembled in every limb. I am not sure that my
embarrassment was not the most effective part of my speech, if
speech it could be called. At any rate, this is about the only
part of my performance that I now distinctly remember. But
excited and convulsed as I was, the audience, though remarkably
quiet before, became as much excited as myself. Mr. Garrison
followed me, taking me as his text; and now, whether I had made
an eloquent speech in behalf of freedom or not, his was one never
to be forgotten by those who heard it. Those who had heard Mr.
Garrison oftenest, and had known him longest, were astonished.
It was an effort of unequaled power, sweeping down, like a very
tornado, every opposing barrier, whether of sentiment or opinion.
For a moment, he possessed that almost fabulous inspiration,
often referred to but seldom attained, in which a public meeting
is transformed, as it were, into a single individuality--the
orator wielding a thousand heads and hearts at once, and by the
simple majesty of his all controlling thought, converting his
hearers into the express image of his own soul. That night there
were at least one thousand Garrisonians in Nantucket! A{sic} the
close of this great meeting, I was duly waited on by Mr. John A.
Collins--then the general agent of the Massachusetts anti-slavery
society--and urgently solicited by him to become an agent of that
society, and to publicly advocate its anti-slavery principles. I
was reluctant to take the proffered position. I had not been
quite three years from slavery--was honestly distrustful of my
ability--wished to be excused; publicity exposed me to discovery
and arrest by my master; and other objections came up, but Mr.
Collins was not to be put off, and I finally consented to go out
for three months, for I supposed that I should have got to the
end of my story and my usefulness, in that length of time.

Here opened upon me a new life a life for which I had had no
preparation. I was a "graduate from the peculiar institution,"
<280>Mr. Collins used to say, when introducing me, _"with my
diploma written on my back!"_ The three years of my freedom had
been spent in the hard school of adversity. My hands had been
furnished by nature with something like a solid leather coating,
and I had bravely marked out for myself a life of rough labor,
suited to the hardness of my hands, as a means of supporting
myself and rearing my children.

Now what shall I say of this fourteen years' experience as a
public advocate of the cause of my enslaved brothers and sisters?
The time is but as a speck, yet large enough to justify a pause
for retrospection--and a pause it must only be.

Young, ardent, and hopeful, I entered upon this new life in the
full gush of unsuspecting enthusiasm. The cause was good; the
men engaged in it were good; the means to attain its triumph,
good; Heaven's blessing must attend all, and freedom must soon be
given to the pining millions under a ruthless bondage. My whole
heart went with the holy cause, and my most fervent prayer to the
Almighty Disposer of the hearts of men, were continually offered
for its early triumph. "Who or what," thought I, "can withstand
a cause so good, so holy, so indescribably glorious. The God of
Israel is with us. The might of the Eternal is on our side. Now
let but the truth be spoken, and a nation will start forth at the
sound!" In this enthusiastic spirit, I dropped into the ranks of
freedom's friends, and went forth to the battle. For a time I
was made to forget that my skin was dark and my hair crisped.
For a time I regretted that I could not have shared the hardships
and dangers endured by the earlier workers for the slave's
release. I soon, however, found that my enthusiasm had been
extravagant; that hardships and dangers were not yet passed; and
that the life now before me, had shadows as well as sunbeams.

Among the first duties assigned me, on entering the ranks, was to
travel, in company with Mr. George Foster, to secure subscribers
to the _Anti-slavery Standard_ and the _Liberator_. With <281
MATTER OF THE SPEECH>him I traveled and lectured through the
eastern counties of Massachusetts. Much interest was awakened--
large meetings assembled. Many came, no doubt, from curiosity to
hear what a Negro could say in his own cause. I was generally
introduced as a _"chattel"--_a_"thing"_--a piece of southern
_"property"_--the chairman assuring the audience that _it_ could
speak. Fugitive slaves, at that time, were not so plentiful as
now; and as a fugitive slave lecturer, I had the advantage of
being a _"brand new fact"_--the first one out. Up to that time,
a colored man was deemed a fool who confessed himself a runaway
slave, not only because of the danger to which he exposed himself
of being retaken, but because it was a confession of a very _low_
origin! Some of my colored friends in New Bedford thought very
badly of my wisdom for thus exposing and degrading myself. The
only precaution I took, at the beginning, to prevent Master
Thomas from knowing where I was, and what I was about, was the
withholding my former name, my master's name, and the name of the
state and county from which I came. During the first three or
four months, my speeches were almost exclusively made up of
narrations of my own personal experience as a slave. "Let us
have the facts," said the people. So also said Friend George
Foster, who always wished to pin me down to my simple narrative.
"Give us the facts," said Collins, "we will take care of the
philosophy." Just here arose some embarrassment. It was
impossible for me to repeat the same old story month after month,
and to keep up my interest in it. It was new to the people, it
is true, but it was an old story to me; and to go through with it
night after night, was a task altogether too mechanical for my
nature. "Tell your story, Frederick," would whisper my then
revered friend, William Lloyd Garrison, as I stepped upon the
platform. I could not always obey, for I was now reading and
thinking. New views of the subject were presented to my mind.
It did not entirely satisfy me to _narrate_ wrongs; I felt like
_denouncing_ them. I could not always curb my moral indignation
<282>for the perpetrators of slaveholding villainy, long enough
for a circumstantial statement of the facts which I felt almost
everybody must know. Besides, I was growing, and needed room.
"People won't believe you ever was a slave, Frederick, if you
keep on this way," said Friend Foster. "Be yourself," said
Collins, "and tell your story." It was said to me, "Better have
a _little_ of the plantation manner of speech than not; 'tis not
best that you seem too learned." These excellent friends were
actuated by the best of motives, and were not altogether wrong in
their advice; and still I must speak just the word that seemed to
_me_ the word to be spoken _by_ me.

At last the apprehended trouble came. People doubted if I had
ever been a slave. They said I did not talk like a slave, look
like a slave, nor act like a slave, and that they believed I had
never been south of Mason and Dixon's line. "He don't tell us
where he came from--what his master's name was--how he got away--
nor the story of his experience. Besides, he is educated, and
is, in this, a contradiction of all the facts we have concerning
the ignorance of the slaves." Thus, I was in a pretty fair way
to be denounced as an impostor. The committee of the
Massachusetts anti-slavery society knew all the facts in my case,
and agreed with me in the prudence of keeping them private.
They, therefore, never doubted my being a genuine fugitive; but
going down the aisles of the churches in which I spoke, and
hearing the free spoken Yankees saying, repeatedly, _"He's never
been a slave, I'll warrant ye_," I resolved to dispel all doubt,
at no distant day, by such a revelation of facts as could not be
made by any other than a genuine fugitive.

In a little less than four years, therefore, after becoming a
public lecturer, I was induced to write out the leading facts
connected with my experience in slavery, giving names of persons,
places, and dates--thus putting it in the power of any who
doubted, to ascertain the truth or falsehood of my story of being
a fugitive slave. This statement soon became known in Maryland,
<283 DANGER OF RECAPTURE>and I had reason to believe that an
effort would be made to recapture me.

It is not probable that any open attempt to secure me as a slave
could have succeeded, further than the obtainment, by my master,
of the money value of my bones and sinews. Fortunately for me,
in the four years of my labors in the abolition cause, I had
gained many friends, who would have suffered themselves to be
taxed to almost any extent to save me from slavery. It was felt
that I had committed the double offense of running away, and
exposing the secrets and crimes of slavery and slaveholders.
There was a double motive for seeking my reenslavement--avarice
and vengeance; and while, as I have said, there was little
probability of successful recapture, if attempted openly, I was
constantly in danger of being spirited away, at a moment when my
friends could render me no assistance. In traveling about from
place to place--often alone I was much exposed to this sort of
attack. Any one cherishing the design to betray me, could easily
do so, by simply tracing my whereabouts through the anti-slavery
journals, for my meetings and movements were promptly made known
in advance. My true friends, Mr. Garrison and Mr. Phillips, had
no faith in the power of Massachusetts to protect me in my right
to liberty. Public sentiment and the law, in their opinion,
would hand me over to the tormentors. Mr. Phillips, especially,
considered me in danger, and said, when I showed him the
manuscript of my story, if in my place, he would throw it into
the fire. Thus, the reader will observe, the settling of one
difficulty only opened the way for another; and that though I had
reached a free state, and had attained position for public
usefulness, I ws{sic} still tormented with the liability of
losing my liberty. How this liability was dispelled, will be
related, with other incidents, in the next chapter.

CHAPTER XXIV
_Twenty-One Months in Great Britain_

GOOD ARISING OUT OF UNPROPITIOUS EVENTS--DENIED CABIN PASSAGE--
PROSCRIPTION TURNED TO GOOD ACCOUNT--THE HUTCHINSON FAMILY--THE
MOB ON BOARD THE "CAMBRIA"--HAPPY INTRODUCTION TO THE BRITISH
PUBLIC--LETTER ADDRESSED TO WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON--TIME AND
LABORS WHILE ABROAD--FREEDOM PURCHASED--MRS. HENRY RICHARDSON--
FREE PAPERS--ABOLITIONISTS DISPLEASED WITH THE RANSOM--HOW MY
ENERGIES WERE DIRECTED--RECEPTION SPEECH IN LONDON--CHARACTER OF
THE SPEECH DEFENDED--CIRCUMSTANCES EXPLAINED--CAUSES CONTRIBUTING
TO THE SUCCESS OF MY MISSION--FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND--
TESTIMONIAL.

The allotments of Providence, when coupled with trouble and
anxiety, often conceal from finite vision the wisdom and goodness
in which they are sent; and, frequently, what seemed a harsh and
invidious dispensation, is converted by after experience into a
happy and beneficial arrangement. Thus, the painful liability to
be returned again to slavery, which haunted me by day, and
troubled my dreams by night, proved to be a necessary step in the
path of knowledge and usefulness. The writing of my pamphlet, in
the spring of 1845, endangered my liberty, and led me to seek a
refuge from republican slavery in monarchical England. A rude,
uncultivated fugitive slave was driven, by stern necessity, to
that country to which young American gentlemen go to increase
their stock of knowledge, to seek pleasure, to have their rough,
democratic manners softened by contact with English aristocratic
refinement. On applying for a passage to England, on board the
"Cambria", of the Cunard line, my friend, James N. Buffum, of
<285 PROSCRIPTION TURNED TO GOOD ACCOUNT>Lynn, Massachusetts, was
informed that I could not be received on board as a cabin
passenger. American prejudice against color triumphed over
British liberality and civilization, and erected a color test and
condition for crossing the sea in the cabin of a British vessel.
The insult was keenly felt by my white friends, but to me, it was
common, expected, and therefore, a thing of no great consequence,
whether I went in the cabin or in the steerage. Moreover, I felt
that if I could not go into the first cabin, first-cabin
passengers could come into the second cabin, and the result
justified my anticipations to the fullest extent. Indeed, I soon
found myself an object of more general interest than I wished to
be; and so far from being degraded by being placed in the second
cabin, that part of the ship became the scene of as much pleasure
and refinement, during the voyage, as the cabin itself. The
Hutchinson Family, celebrated vocalists--fellow-passengers--often
came to my rude forecastle deck, and sung their sweetest songs,
enlivening the place with eloquent music, as well as spirited
conversation, during the voyage. In two days after leaving
Boston, one part of the ship was about as free to me as another.
My fellow-passengers not only visited me, but invited me to visit
them, on the saloon deck. My visits there, however, were but
seldom. I preferred to live within my privileges, and keep upon
my own premises. I found this quite as much in accordance with
good policy, as with my own feelings. The effect was, that with
the majority of the passengers, all color distinctions were flung
to the winds, and I found myself treated with every mark of
respect, from the beginning to the end of the voyage, except in a
single instance; and in that, I came near being mobbed, for
complying with an invitation given me by the passengers, and the
captain of the "Cambria," to deliver a lecture on slavery. Our
New Orleans and Georgia passengers were pleased to regard my
lecture as an insult offered to them, and swore I should not
speak. They went so far as to threaten to throw me overboard,
and but for the firmness of Captain Judkins, prob<286>ably would
have (under the inspiration of _slavery_ and _brandy_) attempted
to put their threats into execution. I have no space to describe
this scene, although its tragic and comic peculiarities are well
worth describing. An end was put to the _melee_, by the
captain's calling the ship's company to put the salt water
mobocrats in irons. At this determined order, the gentlemen of
the lash scampered, and for the rest of the voyage conducted
themselves very decorously.

This incident of the voyage, in two days after landing at
Liverpool, brought me at once before the British public, and that
by no act of my own. The gentlemen so promptly snubbed in their
meditated violence, flew to the press to justify their conduct,
and to denounce me as a worthless and insolent Negro. This
course was even less wise than the conduct it was intended to

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