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Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom by William and Ellen Craft

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The silence which prevailed for a few moments
was broken by the gentleman's saying, "As your
'July' was such a very good girl, and had served
you so faithfully before she lost her health, don't
you think it would have been better to have eman-
cipated her?"

"No, indeed I do not!" scornfully exclaimed
the lady, as she impatiently crammed the fine
handkerchief into a little work-bag. "I have no
patience with people who set niggers at liberty. It
is the very worst thing you can do for them. My
dear husband just before he died willed all his
niggers free. But I and all our friends knew very
well that he was too good a man to have ever
thought of doing such an unkind and foolish thing,
had he been in his right mind, and, therefore we
had the will altered as it should have been in the
first place."

"Did you mean, madam," asked my master,
"that willing the slaves free was unjust to yourself,
or unkind to them?"

"I mean that it was decidedly unkind to the
servants themselves. It always seems to me such
a cruel thing to turn niggers loose to shift for
themselves, when there are so many good masters
to take care of them. As for myself," continued
the considerate lady, "I thank the Lord my dear
husband left me and my son well provided for.
Therefore I care nothing for the niggers, on my
own account, for they are a great deal more trouble
than they are worth, I sometimes wish that there
was not one of them in the world; for the un-
grateful wretches are always running away. I have
lost no less than ten since my poor husband died.
It's ruinous, sir!"

"But as you are well provided for, I suppose you
do not feel the loss very much," said the pas-

"I don't feel it at all," haughtily continued the
good soul; "but that is no reason why property
should be squandered. If my son and myself had
the money for those valuable niggers, just see what a
great deal of good we could do for the poor, and in
sending missionaries abroad to the poor heathen,
who have never heard the name of our blessed Re-
deemer. My dear son who is a good Christian minis-
ter has advised me not to worry and send my soul
to hell for the sake of niggers; but to sell every
blessed one of them for what they will fetch, and go
and live in peace with him in New York. This I
have concluded to do. I have just been to Rich-
mond and made arrangements with my agent to
make clean work of the forty that are left."

"Your son being a good Christian minister,"
said the gentleman, "It's strange he did not advise
you to let the poor negroes have their liberty and
go North."

"It's not at all strange, sir; it's not at all
strange. My son knows what's best for the nig-
gers; he has always told me that they were much
better off than the free niggers in the North. In
fact, I don't believe there are any white labouring
people in the world who are as well off as the

"You are quite mistaken, madam," said the
young man. "For instance, my own widowed
mother, before she died, emancipated all her slaves,
and sent them to Ohio, where they are getting
along well. I saw several of them last summer

"Well," replied the lady, "freedom may do for
your ma's niggers, but it will never do for mine;
and, plague them, they shall never have it; that is
the word, with the bark on it."

"If freedom will not do for your slaves," replied
the passenger, "I have no doubt your Ned and
the other nine negroes will find out their mistake,
and return to their old home.

"Blast them!" exclaimed the old lady, with
great emphasis, "if I ever get them, I will cook
their infernal hash, and tan their accursed black
hides well for them! God forgive me," added the
old soul, "the niggers will make me lose all my

By this time the lady had reached her destination.
The gentleman got out at the next station beyond.
As soon as she was gone, the young Southerner
said to my master, "What a d----d shame it is for
that old whining hypocritical humbug to cheat
the poor negroes out of their liberty! If she has
religion, may the devil prevent me from ever being

For the purpose of somewhat disguising myself,
I bought and wore a very good second-hand white
beaver, an article which I had never indulged in
before. So just before we arrived at Washington,
an uncouth planter, who had been watching me
very closely, said to my master, "I reckon, stranger,
you are 'SPILING' that ere nigger of yourn, by letting
him wear such a devilish fine hat. Just look at the
quality on it; the President couldn't wear a better.
I should just like to go and kick it overboard."
His friend touched him, and said, "Don't speak so
to a gentleman." "Why not?" exclaimed the fellow.
He grated his short teeth, which appeared to be
nearly worn away by the incessant chewing of
tobacco, and said, "It always makes me itch all
over, from head to toe, to get hold of every d----d
nigger I see dressed like a white man. Washington
is run away with SPILED and free niggers. If I had
my way I would sell every d----d rascal of 'em way
down South, where the devil would be whipped out
on 'em."

This man's fierce manner made my master feel
rather nervous, and therefore he thought the less
he said the better; so he walked off without
making any reply. In a few minutes we were
landed at Washington, where we took a conveyance
and hurried off to the train for Baltimore.

We left our cottage on Wednesday morning, the
21st of December, 1848, and arrived at Baltimore,
Saturday evening, the 24th (Christmas Eve).
Baltimore was the last slave port of any note at
which we stopped.

On arriving there we felt more anxious than
ever, because we knew not what that last dark
night would bring forth. It is true we were near
the goal, but our poor hearts were still as if tossed
at sea; and, as there was another great and dangerous
bar to pass, we were afraid our liberties would be
wrecked, and, like the ill-fated Royal Charter, go
down for ever just off the place we longed to reach.

They are particularly watchful at Baltimore to
prevent slaves from escaping into Pennsylvania,
which is a free State. After I had seen my master
into one of the best carriages, and was just about
to step into mine, an officer, a full-blooded Yankee
of the lower order, saw me. He came quickly up,
and, tapping me on the shoulder, said in his un-
mistakable native twang, together with no little dis-
play of his authority, "Where are you going, boy?"
"To Philadelphia, sir," I humbly replied. "Well,
what are you going there for?" "I am travelling
with my master, who is in the next carriage, sir."
"Well, I calculate you had better get him out; and
be mighty quick about it, because the train will
soon be starting. It is against my rules to let any
man take a slave past here, unless he can satisfy
them in the office that he has a right to take him

The officer then passed on and left me standing
upon the platform, with my anxious heart apparently
palpitating in the throat. At first I scarcely knew
which way to turn. But it soon occurred to me
that the good God, who had been with us thus far,
would not forsake us at the eleventh hour. So
with renewed hope I stepped into my master's
carriage, to inform him of the difficulty. I found
him sitting at the farther end, quite alone. As soon
as he looked up and saw me, he smiled. I also tried
to wear a cheerful countenance, in order to break
the shock of the sad news. I knew what made him
smile. He was aware that if we were fortunate we
should reach our destination at five o'clock the next
morning, and this made it the more painful to com-
municate what the officer had said; but, as there
was no time to lose, I went up to him and asked
him how he felt. He said "Much better," and that
he thanked God we were getting on so nicely.
I then said we were not getting on quite so well
as we had anticipated. He anxiously and quickly
asked what was the matter. I told him. He
started as if struck by lightning, and exclaimed,
"Good Heavens! William, is it possible that we
are, after all, doomed to hopeless bondage?" I
could say nothing, my heart was too full to speak,
for at first I did not know what to do. However
we knew it would never do to turn back to the
"City of Destruction," like Bunyan's Mistrust and
Timorous, because they saw lions in the narrow
way after ascending the hill Difficulty; but press
on, like noble Christian and Hopeful, to the great
city in which dwelt a few "shining ones." So, after
a few moments, I did all I could to encourage my
companion, and we stepped out and made for the
office; but how or where my master obtained
sufficient courage to face the tyrants who had
power to blast all we held dear, heaven only
knows! Queen Elizabeth could not have been
more terror-stricken, on being forced to land at
the traitors' gate leading to the Tower, than we
were on entering that office. We felt that our
very existence was at stake, and that we must
either sink or swim. But, as God was our present
and mighty helper in this as well as in all former
trials, we were able to keep our heads up and press

On entering the room we found the principal
man, to whom my master said, "Do you wish to
see me, sir?" "Yes," said this eagle-eyed officer;
and he added, "It is against our rules, sir, to allow
any person to take a slave out of Baltimore into
Philadelphia, unless he can satisfy us that he has a
right to take him along." "Why is that?" asked
my master, with more firmness than could be
expected. "Because, sir," continued he, in a voice
and manner that almost chilled our blood, "if we
should suffer any gentleman to take a slave past
here into Philadelphia; and should the gentleman
with whom the slave might be travelling turn out
not to be his rightful owner; and should the proper
master come and prove that his slave escaped on
our road, we shall have him to pay for; and,
therefore, we cannot let any slave pass here without
receiving security to show, and to satisfy us, that it
is all right."

This conversation attracted the attention of the
large number of bustling passengers. After the
officer had finished, a few of them said, "Chit, chit,
chit;" not because they thought we were slaves
endeavouring to escape, but merely because they
thought my master was a slaveholder and invalid
gentleman, and therefore it was wrong to detain
him. The officer, observing that the passengers
sympathised with my master, asked him if he was
not acquainted with some gentleman in Baltimore
that he could get to endorse for him, to show that
I was his property, and that he had a right to take
me off. He said, "No;" and added, "I bought
tickets in Charleston to pass us through to Phila-
delphia, and therefore you have no right to detain
us here." "Well, sir," said the man, indignantly,
"right or no right, we shan't let you go." These
sharp words fell upon our anxious hearts like the
crack of doom, and made us feel that hope only
smiles to deceive.

For a few moments perfect silence prevailed. My
master looked at me, and I at him, but neither of
us dared to speak a word, for fear of making some
blunder that would tend to our detection. We
knew that the officers had power to throw us into
prison, and if they had done so we must have been
detected and driven back, like the vilest felons, to
a life of slavery, which we dreaded far more than
sudden death.

We felt as though we had come into deep waters
and were about being overwhelmed, and that the
slightest mistake would clip asunder the last brittle
thread of hope by which we were suspended, and
let us down for ever into the dark and horrible
pit of misery and degradation from which we were
straining every nerve to escape. While our hearts
were crying lustily unto Him who is ever ready and
able to save, the conductor of the train that we had
just left stepped in. The officer asked if we came
by the train with him from Washington; he said
we did, and left the room. Just then the bell rang
for the train to leave; and had it been the sudden
shock of an earthquake it could not have given
us a greater thrill. The sound of the bell caused
every eye to flash with apparent interest, and to
be more steadily fixed upon us than before. But,
as God would have it, the officer all at once thrust
his fingers through his hair, and in a state of great
agitation said, "I really don't know what to do; I
calculate it is all right." He then told the clerk
to run and tell the conductor to "let this gentleman
and slave pass;" adding, "As he is not well, it is
a pity to stop him here. We will let him go."
My master thanked him, and stepped out and
hobbled across the platform as quickly as pos-
sible. I tumbled him unceremoniously into one of
the best carriages, and leaped into mine just as
the train was gliding off towards our happy desti-

We thought of this plan about four days before
we left Macon; and as we had our daily employ-
ment to attend to, we only saw each other at night.
So we sat up the four long nights talking over the
plan and making preparations.

We had also been four days on the journey;
and as we travelled night and day, we got but
very limited opportunities for sleeping. I believe
nothing in the world could have kept us awake so
long but the intense excitement, produced by the
fear of being retaken on the one hand, and the
bright anticipation of liberty on the other.

We left Baltimore about eight o'clock in the
evening; and not being aware of a stopping-
place of any consequence between there and Phila-
delphia, and also knowing that if we were fortu-
nate we should be in the latter place early the
next morning, I thought I might indulge in a
few minutes' sleep in the car; but I, like Bunyan's
Christian in the arbour, went to sleep at the wrong
time, and took too long a nap. So, when the train
reached Havre de Grace, all the first-class pas-
sengers had to get out of the carriages and into
a ferry-boat, to be ferried across the Susquehanna
river, and take the train on the opposite side.

The road was constructed so as to be raised or
lowered to suit the tide. So they rolled the luggage-
vans on to the boat, and off on the other side; and
as I was in one of the apartments adjoining a bag-
gage-car, they considered it unnecessary to awaken
me, and tumbled me over with the luggage. But
when my master was asked to leave his seat, he found
it very dark, and cold, and raining. He missed me
for the first time on the journey. On all previous
occasions, as soon as the train stopped, I was at
hand to assist him. This caused many slaveholders
to praise me very much: they said they had never
before seen a slave so attentive to his master: and
therefore my absence filled him with terror and
confusion; the children of Israel could not have
felt more troubled on arriving at the Red Sea.
So he asked the conductor if he had seen anything
of his slave. The man being somewhat of an abo-
litionist, and believing that my master was really
a slaveholder, thought he would tease him a little
respecting me. So he said, "No, sir; I haven't
seen anything of him for some time: I have no
doubt he has run away, and is in Philadelphia, free,
long before now." My master knew that there
was nothing in this; so he asked the conductor if
he would please to see if he could find me. The
man indignantly replied, "I am no slave-hunter;
and as far as I am concerned everybody must look
after their own niggers." He went off and left
the confused invalid to fancy whatever he felt in-
clined. My master at first thought I must have
been kidnapped into slavery by some one, or left,
or perhaps killed on the train. He also thought
of stopping to see if he could hear anything of me,
but he soon remembered that he had no money.
That night all the money we had was consigned to
my own pocket, because we thought, in case there
were any pickpockets about, a slave's pocket would
be the last one they would look for. However,
hoping to meet me some day in a land of liberty,
and as he had the tickets, he thought it best
upon the whole to enter the boat and come off to
Philadelphia, and endeavour to make his way alone
in this cold and hollow world as best he could.
The time was now up, so he went on board and
came across with feelings that can be better
imagined than described.

After the train had got fairly on the way to
Philadelphia, the guard came into my car and gave
me a violent shake, and bawled out at the same time,
"Boy, wake up!" I started, almost frightened out
of my wits. He said, "Your master is scared half
to death about you." That frightened me still
more--I thought they had found him out; so I
anxiously inquired what was the matter. The
guard said, "He thinks you have run away from
him." This made me feel quite at ease. I said,
"No, sir; I am satisfied my good master doesn't
think that." So off I started to see him. He had
been fearfully nervous, but on seeing me he at once
felt much better. He merely wished to know what
had become of me.

On returning to my seat, I found the conductor
and two or three other persons amusing themselves
very much respecting my running away. So the
guard said, "Boy, what did your master want?"*
I replied, "He merely wished to know what had
become of me." "No," said the man, "that was
not it; he thought you had taken French leave,
for parts unknown. I never saw a fellow so badly
scared about losing his slave in my life. Now,"
continued the guard, "let me give you a little
friendly advice. When you get to Philadelphia,
run away and leave that cripple, and have your
liberty." "No, sir," I indifferently replied, "I
can't promise to do that." "Why not?" said the

* I may state here that every man slave is called boy till he
is very old, then the more respectable slaveholders call him
uncle. The women are all girls till they are aged, then they
are called aunts. This is the reason why Mrs. Stowe calls her
characters Uncle Tom, Aunt Chloe, Uncle Tiff, &c.
conductor, evidently much surprised; "don't you
want your liberty?" "Yes, sir," I replied; "but
I shall never run away from such a good master as
I have at present."

One of the men said to the guard, "Let him
alone; I guess he will open his eyes when he gets
to Philadelphia, and see things in another light."
After giving me a good deal of information, which
I afterwards found to be very useful, they left me

I also met with a coloured gentleman on this
train, who recommended me to a boarding-house
that was kept by an abolitionist, where he thought
I would be quite safe, if I wished to run away
from my master. I thanked him kindly, but of
course did not let him know who we were. Late
at night, or rather early in the morning, I heard
a fearful whistling of the steam-engine; so I
opened the window and looked out, and saw a
large number of flickering lights in the distance,
and heard a passenger in the next carriage--
who also had his head out of the window--say to
his companion, "Wake up, old horse, we are at

The sight of those lights and that announce-
ment made me feel almost as happy as Bunyan's
Christian must have felt when he first caught sight
of the cross. I, like him, felt that the straps that
bound the heavy burden to my back began to
pop, and the load to roll off. I also looked, and
looked again, for it appeared very wonderful to me
how the mere sight of our first city of refuge should
have all at once made my hitherto sad and heavy
heart become so light and happy. As the train
speeded on, I rejoiced and thanked God with all
my heart and soul for his great kindness and tender
mercy, in watching over us, and bringing us safely

As soon as the train had reached the platform,
before it had fairly stopped, I hurried out of my
carriage to my master, whom I got at once into a
cab, placed the luggage on, jumped in myself, and
we drove off to the boarding-house which was so
kindly recommended to me. On leaving the station,
my master--or rather my wife, as I may now say--
who had from the commencement of the journey
borne up in a manner that much surprised us both,
grasped me by the hand, and said, "Thank God,
William, we are safe!" and then burst into tears, leant
upon me, and wept like a child. The reaction
was fearful. So when we reached the house, she
was in reality so weak and faint that she could
scarcely stand alone. However, I got her into the
apartments that were pointed out, and there we
knelt down, on this Sabbath, and Christmas-day,--a
day that will ever be memorable to us,--and poured
out our heartfelt gratitude to God, for his good-
ness in enabling us to overcome so many perilous
difficulties, in escaping out of the jaws of the



AFTER my wife had a little recovered herself,
she threw off the disguise and assumed her own
apparel. We then stepped into the sitting-room, and
asked to see the landlord. The man came in, but
he seemed thunderstruck on finding a fugitive
slave and his wife, instead of a "young cotton planter
and his nigger." As his eyes travelled round the
room, he said to me, "Where is your master?" I
pointed him out. The man gravely replied, "I am
not joking, I really wish to see your master." I
pointed him out again, but at first he could not
believe his eyes; he said "he knew that was not
the gentleman that came with me."

But, after some conversation, we satisfied him
that we were fugitive slaves, and had just escaped
in the manner I have described. We asked him if
he thought it would be safe for us to stop in Phila-
delphia. He said he thought not, but he would
call in some persons who knew more about the
laws than himself. He then went out, and kindly
brought in several of the leading abolitionists of
the city, who gave us a most hearty and friendly
welcome amongst them. As it was in December,
and also as we had just left a very warm climate,
they advised us not to go to Canada as we had
intended, but to settle at Boston in the United
States. It is true that the constitution of the Re-
public has always guaranteed the slaveholders the
right to come into any of the so-called free States,
and take their fugitives back to southern Egypt.
But through the untiring, uncompromising, and
manly efforts of Mr. Garrison, Wendell Phillips,
Theodore Parker, and a host of other noble aboli-
tionists of Boston and the neighbourhood, public
opinion in Massachusetts had become so much
opposed to slavery and to kidnapping, that it was
almost impossible for any one to take a fugitive
slave out of that State.

So we took the advice of our good Philadelphia
friends, and settled at Boston. I shall have some-
thing to say about our sojourn there presently.

Among other friends we met with at Philadel-
phia, was Robert Purves, Esq., a well educated and
wealthy coloured gentleman, who introduced us to
Mr. Barkley Ivens, a member of the Society of
Friends, and a noble and generous-hearted farmer,
who lived at some distance in the country.

This good Samaritan at once invited us to go and
stop quietly with his family, till my wife could
somewhat recover from the fearful reaction of the
past journey. We most gratefully accepted the
invitation, and at the time appointed we took a
steamer to a place up the Delaware river, where our
new and dear friend met us with his snug little
cart, and took us to his happy home. This was the
first act of great and disinterested kindness we
had ever received from a white person.

The gentleman was not of the fairest complexion,
and therefore, as my wife was not in the room
when I received the information respecting him
and his anti-slavery character, she thought of
course he was a quadroon like herself. But on
arriving at the house, and finding out her mistake,
she became more nervous and timid than ever.

As the cart came into the yard, the dear good
old lady, and her three charming and affectionate
daughters, all came to the door to meet us. We got
out, and the gentleman said, "Go in, and make
yourselves at home; I will see after the baggage."
But my wife was afraid to approach them. She
stopped in the yard, and said to me, "William, I
thought we were coming among coloured people?" I
replied, "It is all right; these are the same." "No,"
she said, "it is not all right, and I am not going to
stop here; I have no confidence whatever in white
people, they are only trying to get us back to
slavery." She turned round and said, "I am
going right off." The old lady then came out, with
her sweet, soft, and winning smile, shook her heartily
by the hand, and kindly said, "How art thou, my
dear? We are all very glad to see thee and thy
husband. Come in, to the fire; I dare say thou art
cold and hungry after thy journey."

We went in, and the young ladies asked if she
would like to go upstairs and "fix" herself before
tea. My wife said, "No, I thank you; I shall only
stop a little while." "But where art thou going
this cold night?" said Mr. Ivens, who had just
stepped in. "I don't know," was the reply. "Well,
then," he continued, "I think thou hadst better
take off thy things and sit near the fire; tea will
soon be ready. "Yes, come, Ellen," said Mrs. Ivens,
"let me assist thee;" (as she commenced undoing
my wife's bonnet-strings;) "don't be frightened,
Ellen, I shall not hurt a single hair of thy head.
We have heard with much pleasure of the marvel-
lous escape of thee and thy husband, and deeply
sympathise with thee in all that thou hast under-
gone. I don't wonder at thee, poor thing, being
timid; but thou needs not fear us; we would as
soon send one of our own daughters into slavery as
thee; so thou mayest make thyself quite at ease!"
These soft and soothing words fell like balm upon
my wife's unstrung nerves, and melted her to
tears; her fears and prejudices vanished, and from
that day she has firmly believed that there are good
and bad persons of every shade of complexion.

After seeing Sally Ann and Jacob, two coloured
domestics, my wife felt quite at home. After par-
taking of what Mrs. Stowe's Mose and Pete called
a "busting supper," the ladies wished to know
whether we could read. On learning we could not,
they said if we liked they would teach us. To
this kind offer, of course, there was no objection.
But we looked rather knowingly at each other, as
much as to say that they would have rather a hard
task to cram anything into our thick and matured

However, all hands set to and quickly cleared
away the tea-things, and the ladies and their good
brother brought out the spelling and copy books
and slates, &c., and commenced with their new and
green pupils. We had, by stratagem, learned the
alphabet while in slavery, but not the writing cha-
racters; and, as we had been such a time learning
so little, we at first felt that it was a waste of
time for any one at our ages to undertake to learn
to read and write. But, as the ladies were so anx-
ious that we should learn, and so willing to teach
us, we concluded to give our whole minds to the
work, and see what could be done. By so doing,
at the end of the three weeks we remained with the
good family we could spell and write our names
quite legibly. They all begged us to stop longer;
but, as we were not safe in the State of Pennsylvania,
and also as we wished to commence doing some-
thing for a livelihood, we did not remain.

When the time arrived for us to leave for Boston,
it was like parting with our relatives. We have
since met with many very kind and hospitable
friends, both in America and England; but we have
never been under a roof where we were made to
feel more at home, or where the inmates took a
deeper interest in our well-being, than Mr. Barkley
Ivens and his dear family. May God ever bless
them, and preserve each one from every reverse
of fortune!

We finally, as I have stated, settled at Boston,
where we remained nearly two years, I employed as
cabinet-maker and furniture broker, and my wife at
her needle; and, as our little earnings in slavery
were not all spent on the journey, we were getting
on very well, and would have made money, if we had
not been compelled by the General Government, at
the bidding of the slaveholders, to break up busi-
ness, and fly from under the Stars and Stripes to
save our liberties and our lives.

In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave
Bill, an enactment too infamous to have been
thought of or tolerated by any people in the world,
except the unprincipled and tyrannical Yankees.
The following are a few of the leading features of
the above law; which requires, under heavy penal-
ties, that the inhabitants of the FREE States should
not only refuse food and shelter to a starving,
hunted human being, but also should assist, if
called upon by the authorities, to seize the unhappy
fugitive and send him back to slavery.

In no case is a person's evidence admitted in
Court, in defence of his liberty, when arrested
under this law.

If the judge decides that the prisoner is a slave,
he gets ten dollars; but if he sets him at liberty, he
only receives five.

After the prisoner has been sentenced to slavery,
he is handed over to the United States Marshal,
who has the power, at the expense of the General
Government, to summon a sufficient force to take
the poor creature back to slavery, and to the lash,
from which he fled.

Our old masters sent agents to Boston after us.
They took out warrants, and placed them in the
hands of the United States Marshal to execute.
But the following letter from our highly esteemed
and faithful friend, the Rev. Samuel May, of Bos-
ton, to our equally dear and much lamented friend,
Dr. Estlin of Bristol, will show why we were not
taken into custody.

"21, Cornhill, Boston,
"November 6th, 1850.

"My dear Mr Estlin,

"I trust that in God's good providence this letter
will be handed to you in safety by our good friends,
William and Ellen Craft. They have lived amongst
us about two years, and have proved themselves worthy,
in all respects, of our confidence and regard.
The laws of this republican and Christian land
(tell it not in Moscow, nor in Constantinople)
regard them only as slaves--chattels--
personal property. But they nobly vindicated their
title and right to freedom, two years since, by win-
ning their way to it; at least, so they thought.
But now, the slave power, with the aid of Daniel
Webster and a band of lesser traitors, has enacted
a law, which puts their dearly-bought liberties in
the most imminent peril; holds out a strong temp-
tation to every mercenary and unprincipled ruffian
to become their kidnapper; and has stimulated the
slaveholders generally to such desperate acts for
the recovery of their fugitive property, as have
never before been enacted in the history of this

"Within a fortnight, two fellows from Macon,
Georgia, have been in Boston for the purpose of
arresting our friends William and Ellen. A writ
was served against them from the United States
District Court; but it was not served by the United
States Marshal; why not, is not certainly known:
perhaps through fear, for a general feeling of indig-
nation, and a cool determination not to allow this
young couple to be taken from Boston into slavery,
was aroused, and pervaded the city. It is under-
stood that one of the judges told the Marshal that
he would not be authorised in breaking the door of
Craft's house. Craft kept himself close within the
house, armed himself, and awaited with remarkable
composure the event. Ellen, in the meantime, had
been taken to a retired place out of the city. The
Vigilance Committee (appointed at a late meeting
in Fanueil Hall) enlarged their numbers, held an
almost permanent session, and appointed various sub-
committees to act in different ways. One of these
committees called repeatedly on Messrs. Hughes
and Knight, the slave-catchers, and requested and
advised them to leave the city. At first they
peremptorily refused to do so, ''till they got hold of
the niggers.' On complaint of different persons,
these two fellows were several times arrested, car-
ried before one of our county courts, and held to
bail on charges of 'conspiracy to kidnap,' and of
'defamation,' in calling William and Ellen 'SLAVES.'
At length, they became so alarmed, that they
left the city by an indirect route, evading the
vigilance of many persons who were on the look-out
for them. Hughes, at one time, was near losing
his life at the hands of an infuriated coloured man.
While these men remained in the city, a prominent
whig gentleman sent word to William Craft, that
if he would submit peaceably to an arrest, he and
his wife should be bought from their owners, cost
what it might. Craft replied, in effect, that he was
in a measure the representative of all the other
fugitives in Boston, some 200 or 300 in number;
that, if he gave up, they would all be at the mercy
of the slave-catchers, and must fly from the city at
any sacrifice; and that, if his freedom could be
bought for two cents, he would not consent to com-
promise the matter in such a way. This event has
stirred up the slave spirit of the country, south and
north; the United States government is determined
to try its hand in enforcing the Fugitive Slave law;
and William and Ellen Craft would be prominent
objects of the slaveholders' vengeance. Under
these circumstances, it is the almost unanimous
opinion of their best friends, that they should quit
America as speedily as possible, and seek an asylum
in England! Oh! shame, shame upon us, that
Americans, whose fathers fought against Great Bri-
tain, in order to be FREE, should have to acknow-
ledge this disgraceful fact! God gave us a fair and
goodly heritage in this land, but man has cursed it
with his devices and crimes against human souls
and human rights. Is America the 'land of the
free, and the home of the brave?' God knows it
is not; and we know it too. A brave young man
and a virtuous young woman must fly the American
shores, and seek, under the shadow of the British
throne, the enjoyment of 'life, liberty, and the pur-
suit of happiness.'

"But I must pursue my plain, sad story. All
day long, I have been busy planning a safe way for
William and Ellen to leave Boston. We dare not allow
them to go on board a vessel, even in the port of
Boston; for the writ is yet in the Marshal's hands,
and he MAY be waiting an opportunity to serve it;
so I am expecting to accompany them to-morrow to
Portland, Maine, which is beyond the reach of the
Marshal's authority; and there I hope to see them
on board a British steamer.

"This letter is written to introduce them to you.
I know your infirm health; but I am sure, if you
were stretched on your bed in your last illness, and
could lift your hand at all, you would extend it to
welcome these poor hunted fellow-creatures. Hence-
forth, England is their nation and their home. It
is with real regret for our personal loss in their de-
parture, as well as burning shame for the land that
is not worthy of them, that we send them away, or
rather allow them to go. But, with all the resolute
courage they have shown in a most trying hour,
they themselves see it is the part of a foolhardy
rashness to attempt to stay here longer.

"I must close; and with many renewed thanks
for all your kind words and deeds towards us,

"I am, very respectfully yours,


Our old masters, having heard how their agents
were treated at Boston, wrote to Mr. Filmore, who
was then President of the States, to know what
he could do to have us sent back to slavery. Mr.
Filmore said that we should be returned. He gave
instructions for military force to be sent to Boston
to assist the officers in making the arrest. There-
fore we, as well as our friends (among whom was
George Thompson, Esq., late M.P. for the Tower
Hamlets--the slave's long-tried, self-sacrificing
friend, and eloquent advocate) thought it best, at
any sacrifice, to leave the mock-free Republic, and
come to a country where we and our dear little
ones can be truly free.--"No one daring to molest
or make us afraid." But, as the officers were
watching every vessel that left the port to
prevent us from escaping, we had to take
the expensive and tedious overland route to

We shall always cherish the deepest feelings of
gratitude to the Vigilance Committee of Boston
(upon which were many of the leading abolitionists),
and also to our numerous friends, for the very
kind and noble manner in which they assisted
us to preserve our liberties and to escape from
Boston, as it were like Lot from Sodom, to a place
of refuge, and finally to this truly free and glorious
country; where no tyrant, let his power be ever so
absolute over his poor trembling victims at home,
dare come and lay violent hands upon us or upon
our dear little boys (who had the good fortune to
be born upon British soil), and reduce us to the
legal level of the beast that perisheth. Oh! may
God bless the thousands of unflinching, disin-
terested abolitionists of America, who are labouring
through evil as well as through good report, to
cleanse their country's escutcheon from the foul
and destructive blot of slavery, and to restore to
every bondman his God-given rights; and may God
ever smile upon England and upon England's good,
much-beloved, and deservedly-honoured Queen, for
the generous protection that is given to unfortunate
refugees of every rank, and of every colour and

On the passing of the Fugitive Slave Bill, the
following learned doctors, as well as a host of lesser
traitors, came out strongly in its defence.

The Rev. Dr. Gardiner Spring, an eminent
Presbyterian Clergyman of New York, well known
in this country by his religious publications,
declared from the pulpit that, "if by one prayer he
could liberate every slave in the world he would not
dare to offer it."

The Rev. Dr. Joel Parker, of Philadelphia, in the
course of a discussion on the nature of Slavery,
says, "What, then, are the evils inseparable from
slavery? There is not one that is not equally
inseparable from depraved human nature in other
lawful relations."

The Rev. Moses Stuart, D.D., (late Professor in
the Theological College of Andover), in his vindi-
cation of this Bill, reminds his readers that "many
Southern slaveholders are true CHRISTIANS." That
"sending back a fugitive to them is not like restor-
ing one to an idolatrous people." That "though
we may PITY the fugitive, yet the Mosaic Law does
not authorize the rejection of the claims of the
slaveholders to their stolen or strayed PROPERTY."

The Rev. Dr. Spencer, of Brooklyn, New York,
has come forward in support of the "Fugitive
Slave Bill," by publishing a sermon entitled the
"Religious Duty of Obedience to the Laws," which
has elicited the highest encomiums from Dr.
Samuel H. Cox, the Presbyterian minister of
Brooklyn (notorious both in this country and
America for his sympathy with the slaveholder).

The Rev. W. M. Rogers, an orthodox minister
of Boston, delivered a sermon in which he
says, "When the slave asks me to stand be-
tween him and his master, what does he ask?
He asks me to murder a nation's life; and I
will not do it, because I have a conscience,--
because there is a God." He proceeds to affirm
that if resistance to the carrying out of the "Fugi-
tive Slave Law" should lead the magistracy to
call the citizens to arms, their duty was to obey
and "if ordered to take human life, in the name of
God to take it;" and he concludes by admonishing
the fugitives to "hearken to the Word of God, and
to count their own masters worthy of all honour."

The Rev. William Crowell, of Waterfield, State
of Maine, printed a Thanksgiving Sermon of the
same kind, in which he calls upon his hearers not
to allow "excessive sympathies for a few hundred
fugitives to blind them so that they may risk
increased suffering to the millions already in

The Rev. Dr. Taylor, an Episcopal Clergyman of
New Haven, Connecticut, made a speech at a
Union Meeting, in which he deprecates the agita-
tion on the law, and urges obedience to it;
asking,--"Is that article in the Constitution con-
trary to the law of Nature, of nations, or to the
will of God? Is it so? Is there a shadow of
reason for saying it? I have not been able to dis-
cover it. Have I not shown you it is lawful to
deliver up, in compliance with the laws, fugitive
slaves, for the high, the great, the momentous
interests of those [Southern] States?"

The Right Rev. Bishop Hopkins, of Vermont, in
a Lecture at Lockport, says, "It was warranted by
the Old Testament;" and inquires, "What effect
had the Gospel in doing away with slavery? None
whatever." Therefore he argues, as it is expressly
permitted by the Bible, it does not in itself involve
any sin; but that every Christian is authorised by
the Divine Law to own slaves, provided they were
not treated with unnecessary cruelty.

The Rev. Orville Dewey, D.D., of the Unitarian
connexion, maintained in his lectures that the
safety of the Union is not to be hazarded for the
sake of the African race. He declares that, for
his part, he would send his own brother or child
into slavery, if needed to preserve the Union
between the free and the slaveholding States; and,
counselling the slave to similar magnanimity, thus
espousal of your claim is likely to involve your race
and mine together in disasters infinitely greater
than your personal servitude, then you ought not
to be free. In such a case personal rights ought
to be sacrificed to the general good. You yourself
ought to see this, and be willing to suffer for a while
--one for many."

If the Doctor is prepared, he is quite at liberty
to sacrifice his "personal rights to the general
good." But, as I have suffered a long time in
slavery, it is hardly fair for the Doctor to advise
me to go back. According to his showing, he ought
rather to take my place. That would be practically
carrying out his logic, as respects "suffering awhile
--one for many."

In fact, so eager were they to prostrate them-
selves before the great idol of slavery, and, like
Balaam, to curse instead of blessing the people
whom God had brought out of bondage, that they
in bring up obsolete passages from the Old Tes-
tament to justify their downward course, overlooked,
or would not see, the following verses, which show
very clearly, according to the Doctor's own text-
book, that the slaves have a right to run away, and
that it is unscriptural for any one to send them

In the 23rd chapter of Deuteronomy, 15th and
16th verses, it is thus written:--"Thou shalt not
deliver unto his master the servant which is es-
caped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell
with thee, even among you, in that place which he
shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him
best: thou shalt not oppress him."

"Hide the outcast. Bewray not him that wan-
dereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee. Be
thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler."
--(Isa. xvi. 3, 4.)

The great majority of the American ministers are
not content with uttering sentences similar to the
above, or remaining wholly indifferent to the cries
of the poor bondman; but they do all they can to
blast the reputation, and to muzzle the mouths, of
the few good men who dare to beseech the God of
mercy "to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo
the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free."
These reverend gentlemen pour a terrible cannon-
ade upon "Jonah," for refusing to carry God's
message against Nineveh, and tell us about the
whale in which he was entombed; while they utterly
overlook the existence of the whales which trouble
their republican waters, and know not that they
themselves are the "Jonahs" who threaten to sink
their ship of state, by steering in an unrighteous
direction. We are told that the whale vomited up
the runaway prophet. This would not have seemed
so strange, had it been one of the above lukewarm
Doctors of Divinity whom he had swallowed; for
even a whale might find such a morsel difficult of

"I venerate the man whose heart is warm,
Whose hands are pure; whose doctrines and whose life
Coincident, exhibit lucid proof
That he is honest in the sacred cause."

"But grace abused brings forth the foulest deeds,
As richest soil the most luxuriant weeds."

I must now leave the reverend gentlemen in
the hands of Him who knows best how to deal with
a recreant ministry.

I do not wish it to be understood that all the
ministers of the States are of the Balaam stamp.
There are those who are as uncompromising with
slaveholders as Moses was with Pharaoh, and, like
Daniel, will never bow down before the great false
God that has been set up.

On arriving at Portland, we found that the
steamer we intended to take had run into a schooner
the previous night, and was lying up for repairs; so
we had to wait there, in fearful suspense, for two or
three days. During this time, we had the honour
of being the guest of the late and much lamented
Daniel Oliver, Esq., one of the best and most hospi-
table men in the State. By simply fulfilling the
Scripture injunction, to take in the stranger, &c.,
he ran the risk of incurring a penalty of 2,000
dollars, and twelve months' imprisonment.

But neither the Fugitive Slave Law, nor any other
Satanic enactment, can ever drive the spirit of
liberty and humanity out of such noble and gene-
rous-hearted men.

May God ever bless his dear widow, and eventu-
ally unite them in His courts above!

We finally got off to St. John's, New Brunswick,
where we had to wait two days for the steamer that
conveyed us to Windsor, Nova Scotia.

On going into a hotel at St. John's, we met the
butler in the hall, to whom I said, "We wish to
stop here to-night." He turned round, scratching
his head, evidently much put about. But think-
ing that my wife was white, he replied, "We have
plenty of room for the lady, but I don't know about
yourself; we never take in coloured folks." "Oh,
don't trouble about me," I said; "if you have room
for the lady, that will do; so please have the luggage
taken to a bed-room." Which was immediately done,
and my wife went upstairs into the apartment.

After taking a little walk in the town, I returned,
and asked to see the "lady." On being conducted
to the little sitting-room, where she then was, I
entered without knocking, much to the surprise of
the whole house. The "lady" then rang the bell,
and ordered dinner for two. "Dinner for two,
mum!" exclaimed the waiter, as he backed out of
the door. "Yes, for two," said my wife. In a
little while the stout, red-nosed butler, whom we
first met, knocked at the door. I called out, "Come
in." On entering, he rolled his whisky eyes at
me, and then at my wife, and said, in a very solemn
tone, "Did you order dinner for two, mum?"
"Yes, for two," my wife again replied. This
confused the chubby butler more than ever; and,
as the landlord was not in the house, he seemed at
a loss what to do.

When dinner was ready, the maid came in and
said, "Please, mum, the Missis wishes to know
whether you will have dinner up now, or wait till
your friend arrives?" "I will have it up at once,
if you please." "Thank you, mum," continued the
maid, and out she glided.

After a good deal of giggling in the passage, some
one said, "You are in for it, butler, after all; so you
had better make the best of a bad job." But before
dinner was sent up, the landlord returned, and
having heard from the steward of the steamer by
which we came that we were bound for England,
the proprietor's native country, he treated us in the
most respectful manner.

At the above house, the boots (whose name I for-
get) was a fugitive slave, a very intelligent and active
man, about forty-five years of age. Soon after his
marriage, while in slavery, his bride was sold away
from him, and he could never learn where the poor
creature dwelt. So after remaining single for many
years, both before and after his escape, and never ex-
pecting to see again, nor even to hear from, his long-
lost partner, he finally married a woman at St. John's.
But, poor fellow, as he was passing down the street
one day, he met a woman; at the first glance they
nearly recognized each other; they both turned
round and stared, and unconsciously advanced, till
she screamed and flew into his arms. Her first
words were, "Dear, are you married?" On his
answering in the affirmative, she shrank from his
embrace, hung her head, and wept. A person who
witnessed this meeting told me it was most

This couple knew nothing of each other's escape
or whereabouts. The woman had escaped a few
years before to the free States, by secreting herself
in the hold of a vessel; but as they tried to get her
back to bondage, she fled to New Brunswick for
that protection which her native country was too
mean to afford.

The man at once took his old wife to see his new
one, who was also a fugitive slave, and as they all
knew the workings of the infamous system of
slavery, the could (as no one else can,) sympathise
with each other's misfortune.

According to the rules of slavery, the man and
his first wife were already divorced, but not morally;
and therefore it was arranged between the three
that he should live only with the lastly married
wife, and allow the other one so much a week, as
long as she requested his assistance.

After staying at St. John's two days, the steamer
arrived, which took us to Windsor, where we found
a coach bound for Halifax. Prejudice against colour
forced me on the top in the rain. On arriving
within about seven miles of the town, the coach
broke down and was upset. I fell upon the big
crotchety driver, whose head stuck in the mud; and
as he "always objected to niggers riding inside
with white folks," I was not particularly sorry to
see him deeper in the mire than myself. All of us
were scratched and bruised more or less. After the
passengers had crawled out as best they could,
we all set off, and paddled through the deep mud
and cold and rain, to Halifax.

On leaving Boston, it was our intention to
reach Halifax at least two or three days before the
steamer from Boston touched there, en route for
Liverpool; but, having been detained so long at
Portland and St. John's, we had the misfortune to
arrive at Halifax at dark, just two hours after the
steamer had gone; consequently we had to wait
there a fortnight, for the Cambria.

The coach was patched up, and reached Halifax
with the luggage, soon after the passengers arrived.
The only respectable hotel that was then in the
town had suspended business, and was closed; so
we went to the inn, opposite the market, where
the coach stopped: a most miserable, dirty hole
it was.

Knowing that we were still under the influence
of the low Yankee prejudice, I sent my wife in with
the other passengers, to engage a bed for herself and
husband. I stopped outside in the rain till the
coach came up. If I had gone in and asked for a
bed they would have been quite full. But as they
thought my wife was white, she had no difficulty in
securing apartments, into which the luggage was
afterwards carried. The landlady, observing that I
took an interest in the baggage, became some-
what uneasy, and went into my wife's room, and said
to her, "Do you know the dark man downstairs?"
"Yes, he is my husband." "Oh! I mean the
black man--the NIGGER?" "I quite understand
you; he is my husband." "My God!" exclaimed
the woman as she flounced out and banged to the
door. On going upstairs, I heard what had taken
place: but, as we were there, and did not mean
to leave that night, we did not disturb ourselves.
On our ordering tea, the landlady sent word back
to say that we must take it in the kitchen, or in our
bed-room, as she had no other room for "niggers."
We replied that we were not particular, and that
they could sent it up to our room,--which they did.

After the pro-slavery persons who were staying
there heard that we were in, the whole house
became agitated, and all sorts of oaths and fearful
threats were heaped upon the "d----d niggers, for
coming among white folks." Some of them said
they would not stop there a minute if there was
another house to go to.

The mistress came up the next morning to know
how long we wished to stop. We said a fortnight.
"Oh! dear me, it is impossible for us to accom-
modate you, and I think you had better go: you
must understand, I have no prejudice myself; I
think a good deal of the coloured people, and have
always been their friend; but if you stop here we
shall lose all our customers, which we can't do no-
how." We said we were glad to hear that she had
"no prejudice," and was such a staunch friend to
the coloured people. We also informed her that
we would be sorry for her "customers" to leave
on our account; and as it was not our intention to
interfere with anyone, it was foolish for them to be
frightened away. However, if she would get us a
comfortable place, we would be glad to leave. The
landlady said she would go out and try. After
spending the whole morning in canvassing the
town, she came to our room and said, "I have been
from one end of the place to the other, but every-
body is full." Having a little foretaste of the
vulgar prejudice of the town, we did not wonder at
this result. However, the landlady gave me the
address of some respectable coloured families, whom
she thought, "under the circumstances," might be
induced to take us. And, as we were not at all
comfortable--being compelled to sit, eat and sleep,
in the same small room--we were quite willing to
change our quarters.

I called upon the Rev. Mr. Cannady, a truly good-
hearted Christian man, who received us at a word;
and both he and his kind lady treated us hand-
somely, and for a nominal charge.

My wife and myself were both unwell when we
left Boston, and, having taken fresh cold on the
journey to Halifax, we were laid up there under
the doctor's care, nearly the whole fortnight. I
had much worry about getting tickets, for they
baffled us shamefully at the Cunard office. They at
first said that they did not book till the steamer
came; which was not the fact. When I called
again, they said they knew the steamer would
come full from Boston, and therefore we had "bet-
ter try to get to Liverpool by other means."
Other mean Yankee excuses were made; and it
was not till an influential gentleman, to whom
Mr. Francis Jackson, of Boston, kindly gave us
a letter, went and rebuked them, that we were able
to secure our tickets. So when we went on board
my wife was very poorly, and was also so ill on the
voyage that I did not believe she could live to see

However, I am thankful to say she arrived;
and, after laying up at Liverpool very ill for two or
three weeks, gradually recovered.

It was not until we stepped upon the shore at
Liverpool that we were free from every slavish

We raised our thankful hearts to Heaven, and
could have knelt down, like the Neapolitan exiles,
and kissed the soil; for we felt that from slavery

"Heaven sure had kept this spot of earth uncurs'd,
To show how all lthings were created first."

In a few days after we landed, the Rev. Francis
Bishop and his lady came and invited us to be their
guests; to whose unlimited kindness and watchful
care my wife owes, in a great degree, her restoration
to health.

We enclosed our letter from the Rev. Mr. May
to Mr. Estlin, who at once wrote to invite us to his
house at Bristol. On arriving there, both Mr. and
Miss Estlin received us as cordially as did our first
good Quaker friends in Pennsylvania. It grieves
me much to have to mention that he is no more.
Everyone who knew him can truthfully say--

"Peace to the memory of a man of worth,
A man of letters, and of manners too!
Of manners sweet as Virtue always wears
When gay Good-nature dresses her in smiles."

It was principally through the extreme kindness of
Mr. Estlin, the Right Hon. Lady Noel Byron, Miss
Harriet Martineau, Mrs. Reid, Miss Sturch, and
a few other good friends, that my wife and myself
were able to spend a short time at a school in this
country, to acquire a little of that education which
we were so shamefully deprived of while in the
house of bondage. The school is under the super-
vision of the Misses Lushington, D.C.L. During
our stay at the school we received the greatest atten-
tion from every one; and I am particularly indebted
to Thomas Wilson, Esq., of Bradmore House, Chis-
wick, (who was then the master,) for the deep
interest he took in trying to get me on in my
studies. We shall ever fondly and gratefully cherish
the memory of our endeared and departed friend,
Mr. Estlin. We, as well as the Anti-Slavery cause,
lost a good friend in him. However, if departed
spirits in Heaven are conscious of the wickedness
of this world, and are allowed to speak, he will
never fail to plead in the presence of the angelic
host, and before the great and just Judge, for down-
trodden and outraged humanity.

"Therefore I cannot think thee wholly gone;
The better part of thee is with us still;
Thy soul its hampering clay aside hath thrown,
And only freer wrestles with the ill.

"Thou livest in the life of all good things;
What words thou spak'st for Freedom shall not die;
Thou sleepest not, for now thy Love hath wings
To soar where hence thy hope could hardly fly.

"And often, from that other world, on this
Some gleams from great souls gone before may shine,
To shed on struggling hearts a clearer bliss,
And clothe the Right with lustre more divine.

"Farewell! good man, good angel now! this hand
Soon, like thine own, shall lose its cunning, too;
Soon shall this soul, like thine, bewildered stand,
Then leap to thread the free unfathomed blue."


In the preceding pages I have not dwelt upon
the great barbarities which are practised upon the
slaves; because I wish to present the system in its
mildest form, and to show that the "tender mercies
of the wicked are cruel." But I do now, however,
most solemnly declare, that a very large majority
of the American slaves are over-worked, under-fed,
and frequently unmercifully flogged.

I have often seen slaves tortured in every con-
ceivable manner. I have seen him hunted down
and torn by bloodhounds. I have seen them
shamefully beaten, and branded with hot irons. I
have seen them hunted, and even burned alive at
the stake, frequently for offences that would be
applauded if committed by white persons for similar

In short, it is well known in England, if not all
over the world, that the Americans, as a people, are
notoriously mean and cruel towards all coloured
persons, whether they are bond or free.

"Oh, tyrant, thou who sleepest
On a volcano, from whose pent-up wrath,
Already some red flashes bursting up,

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