Meet us on:
Welcome to Read Print! Sign in with
or
to get started!
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "I've grown to realize the joy that comes from little victories is preferable to the fun that comes from ease and the pursuit of pleasure."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 10

    • Rate it:
    • Average Rating: 3.8 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
    • 3 Favorites on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 11
    Previous Chapter
    I had left Master Thomas's house, and went to live
    with Mr. Covey, on the 1st of January, 1833. I was
    now, for the first time in my life, a field hand. In
    my new employment, I found myself even more
    awkward than a country boy appeared to be in a
    large city. I had been at my new home but one
    week before Mr. Covey gave me a very severe whip-
    ping, cutting my back, causing the blood to run,
    and raising ridges on my flesh as large as my little finger.
    The details of this affair are as follows: Mr. Covey
    sent me, very early in the morning of one of our
    coldest days in the month of January, to the woods,
    to get a load of wood. He gave me a team of un-
    broken oxen. He told me which was the in-hand ox,
    and which the off-hand one. He then tied the end
    of a large rope around the horns of the in-hand ox,
    and gave me the other end of it, and told me, if
    the oxen started to run, that I must hold on upon
    the rope. I had never driven oxen before, and of
    course I was very awkward. I, however, succeeded in
    getting to the edge of the woods with little diffi-
    culty; but I had got a very few rods into the woods,
    when the oxen took fright, and started full tilt, carry-
    ing the cart against trees, and over stumps, in the
    most frightful manner. I expected every moment
    that my brains would be dashed out against the
    trees. After running thus for a considerable dis-
    tance, they finally upset the cart, dashing it with
    great force against a tree, and threw themselves into
    a dense thicket. How I escaped death, I do not
    know. There I was, entirely alone, in a thick wood,
    in a place new to me. My cart was upset and shat-
    tered, my oxen were entangled among the young
    trees, and there was none to help me. After a long
    spell of effort, I succeeded in getting my cart righted,
    my oxen disentangled, and again yoked to the cart.
    I now proceeded with my team to the place where
    I had, the day before, been chopping wood, and
    loaded my cart pretty heavily, thinking in this way
    to tame my oxen. I then proceeded on my way
    home. I had now consumed one half of the day. I
    got out of the woods safely, and now felt out of
    danger. I stopped my oxen to open the woods gate;
    and just as I did so, before I could get hold of my
    ox-rope, the oxen again started, rushed through the
    gate, catching it between the wheel and the body of
    the cart, tearing it to pieces, and coming within a
    few inches of crushing me against the gate-post. Thus
    twice, in one short day, I escaped death by the
    merest chance. On my return, I told Mr. Covey
    what had happened, and how it happened. He or-
    dered me to return to the woods again immediately.
    I did so, and he followed on after me. Just as I got
    into the woods, he came up and told me to stop my
    cart, and that he would teach me how to trifle away
    my time, and break gates. He then went to a large
    gum-tree, and with his axe cut three large switches,
    and, after trimming them up neatly with his pocket-
    knife, he ordered me to take off my clothes. I made
    him no answer, but stood with my clothes on. He
    repeated his order. I still made him no answer, nor
    did I move to strip myself. Upon this he rushed
    at me with the fierceness of a tiger, tore off my
    clothes, and lashed me till he had worn out his
    switches, cutting me so savagely as to leave the marks
    visible for a long time after. This whipping was the
    first of a number just like it, and for similar of-
    fences.

    I lived with Mr. Covey one year. During the first
    six months, of that year, scarce a week passed with-
    out his whipping me. I was seldom free from a sore
    back. My awkwardness was almost always his ex-
    cuse for whipping me. We were worked fully up
    to the point of endurance. Long before day we were
    up, our horses fed, and by the first approach of day
    we were off to the field with our hoes and plough-
    ing teams. Mr. Covey gave us enough to eat, but
    scarce time to eat it. We were often less than five
    minutes taking our meals. We were often in the field
    from the first approach of day till its last lingering
    ray had left us; and at saving-fodder time, midnight
    often caught us in the field binding blades.

    Covey would be out with us. The way he used to
    stand it, was this. He would spend the most of his
    afternoons in bed. He would then come out fresh
    in the evening, ready to urge us on with his words,
    example, and frequently with the whip. Mr. Covey
    was one of the few slaveholders who could and did
    work with his hands. He was a hard-working man.
    He knew by himself just what a man or a boy could
    do. There was no deceiving him. His work went on
    in his absence almost as well as in his presence; and
    he had the faculty of making us feel that he was
    ever present with us. This he did by surprising us.
    He seldom approached the spot where we were at
    work openly, if he could do it secretly. He always
    aimed at taking us by surprise. Such was his cunning,
    that we used to call him, among ourselves, "the
    snake." When we were at work in the cornfield, he
    would sometimes crawl on his hands and knees to
    avoid detection, and all at once he would rise
    nearly in our midst, and scream out, "Ha, ha!
    Come, come! Dash on, dash on!" This being his
    mode of attack, it was never safe to stop a single
    minute. His comings were like a thief in the night.
    He appeared to us as being ever at hand. He was
    under every tree, behind every stump, in every bush,
    and at every window, on the plantation. He would
    sometimes mount his horse, as if bound to St. Mi-
    chael's, a distance of seven miles, and in half an
    hour afterwards you would see him coiled up in
    the corner of the wood-fence, watching every motion
    of the slaves. He would, for this purpose, leave his
    horse tied up in the woods. Again, he would some-
    times walk up to us, and give us orders as though
    he was upon the point of starting on a long journey,
    turn his back upon us, and make as though he was
    going to the house to get ready; and, before he would
    get half way thither, he would turn short and crawl
    into a fence-corner, or behind some tree, and there
    watch us till the going down of the sun.

    Mr. Covey's FORTE consisted in his power to de-
    ceive. His life was devoted to planning and perpe-
    trating the grossest deceptions. Every thing he pos-
    sessed in the shape of learning or religion, he made
    conform to his disposition to deceive. He seemed
    to think himself equal to deceiving the Almighty.
    He would make a short prayer in the morning, and
    a long prayer at night; and, strange as it may seem,
    few men would at times appear more devotional
    than he. The exercises of his family devotions were
    always commenced with singing; and, as he was a
    very poor singer himself, the duty of raising the
    hymn generally came upon me. He would read his
    hymn, and nod at me to commence. I would at
    times do so; at others, I would not. My non-com-
    pliance would almost always produce much confu-
    sion. To show himself independent of me, he would
    start and stagger through with his hymn in the most
    discordant manner. In this state of mind, he prayed
    with more than ordinary spirit. Poor man! such was
    his disposition, and success at deceiving, I do verily
    believe that he sometimes deceived himself into the
    solemn belief, that he was a sincere worshipper of
    the most high God; and this, too, at a time when
    he may be said to have been guilty of compelling
    his woman slave to commit the sin of adultery. The
    facts in the case are these: Mr. Covey was a poor
    man; he was just commencing in life; he was only
    able to buy one slave; and, shocking as is the fact,
    he bought her, as he said, for A BREEDER. This woman
    was named Caroline. Mr. Covey bought her from
    Mr. Thomas Lowe, about six miles from St. Mi-
    chael's. She was a large, able-bodied woman, about
    twenty years old. She had already given birth to one
    child, which proved her to be just what he wanted.
    After buying her, he hired a married man of Mr.
    Samuel Harrison, to live with him one year; and him
    he used to fasten up with her every night! The re-
    sult was, that, at the end of the year, the miserable
    woman gave birth to twins. At this result Mr. Covey
    seemed to be highly pleased, both with the man and
    the wretched woman. Such was his joy, and that of
    his wife, that nothing they could do for Caroline
    during her confinement was too good, or too hard,
    to be done. The children were regarded as being
    quite an addition to his wealth.

    If at any one time of my life more than another,
    I was made to drink the bitterest dregs of slavery,
    that time was during the first six months of my stay
    with Mr. Covey. We were worked in all weathers.
    It was never too hot or too cold; it could never rain,
    blow, hail, or snow, too hard for us to work in the
    field. Work, work, work, was scarcely more the order
    of the day than of the night. The longest days were
    too short for him, and the shortest nights too long
    for him. I was somewhat unmanageable when I first
    went there, but a few months of this discipline
    tamed me. Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I
    was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural
    elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the
    disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that
    lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery
    closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed
    into a brute!

    Sunday was my only leisure time. I spent this in
    a sort of beast-like stupor, between sleep and wake,
    under some large tree. At times I would rise up, a
    flash of energetic freedom would dart through my
    soul, accompanied with a faint beam of hope, that
    flickered for a moment, and then vanished. I sank
    down again, mourning over my wretched condition.
    I was sometimes prompted to take my life, and that
    of Covey, but was prevented by a combination of
    hope and fear. My sufferings on this plantation seem
    now like a dream rather than a stern reality.

    Our house stood within a few rods of the Chesa-
    peake Bay, whose broad bosom was ever white with
    sails from every quarter of the habitable globe.
    Those beautiful vessels, robed in purest white, so
    delightful to the eye of freemen, were to me so
    many shrouded ghosts, to terrify and torment me
    with thoughts of my wretched condition. I have of-
    ten, in the deep stillness of a summer's Sabbath,
    stood all alone upon the lofty banks of that noble
    bay, and traced, with saddened heart and tearful
    eye, the countless number of sails moving off to
    the mighty ocean. The sight of these always affected
    me powerfully. My thoughts would compel utter-
    ance; and there, with no audience but the Almighty,
    I would pour out my soul's complaint, in my rude
    way, with an apostrophe to the moving multitude of
    ships:--

    "You are loosed from your moorings, and are free;
    I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move
    merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before
    the bloody whip! You are freedom's swift-winged
    angels, that fly round the world; I am confined in
    bands of iron! O that I were free! O, that I were
    on one of your gallant decks, and under your pro-
    tecting wing! Alas! betwixt me and you, the turbid
    waters roll. Go on, go on. O that I could also go!
    Could I but swim! If I could fly! O, why was I born
    a man, of whom to make a brute! The glad ship
    is gone; she hides in the dim distance. I am left in
    the hottest hell of unending slavery. O God, save
    me! God, deliver me! Let me be free! Is there any
    God? Why am I a slave? I will run away. I will not
    stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I'll try it. I had
    as well die with ague as the fever. I have only one
    life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die
    standing. Only think of it; one hundred miles
    straight north, and I am free! Try it? Yes! God
    helping me, I will. It cannot be that I shall live
    and die a slave. I will take to the water. This very
    bay shall yet bear me into freedom. The steam-
    boats steered in a north-east course from North
    Point. I will do the same; and when I get to the
    head of the bay, I will turn my canoe adrift, and
    walk straight through Delaware into Pennsylvania.
    When I get there, I shall not be required to have a
    pass; I can travel without being disturbed. Let but
    the first opportunity offer, and, come what will, I
    am off. Meanwhile, I will try to bear up under the
    yoke. I am not the only slave in the world. Why
    should I fret? I can bear as much as any of them.
    Besides, I am but a boy, and all boys are bound to
    some one. It may be that my misery in slavery will
    only increase my happiness when I get free. There
    is a better day coming."

    Thus I used to think, and thus I used to speak
    to myself; goaded almost to madness at one mo-
    ment, and at the next reconciling myself to my
    wretched lot.

    I have already intimated that my condition was
    much worse, during the first six months of my stay
    at Mr. Covey's, than in the last six. The circum-
    stances leading to the change in Mr. Covey's course
    toward me form an epoch in my humble history.
    You have seen how a man was made a slave; you
    shall see how a slave was made a man. On one of
    the hottest days of the month of August, 1833, Bill
    Smith, William Hughes, a slave named Eli, and
    myself, were engaged in fanning wheat. Hughes was
    clearing the fanned wheat from before the fan. Eli
    was turning, Smith was feeding, and I was carrying
    wheat to the fan. The work was simple, requiring
    strength rather than intellect; yet, to one entirely
    unused to such work, it came very hard. About three
    o'clock of that day, I broke down; my strength failed
    me; I was seized with a violent aching of the head,
    attended with extreme dizziness; I trembled in every
    limb. Finding what was coming, I nerved myself
    up, feeling it would never do to stop work. I stood
    as long as I could stagger to the hopper with grain.
    When I could stand no longer, I fell, and felt as
    if held down by an immense weight. The fan of
    course stopped; every one had his own work to do;
    and no one could do the work of the other, and
    have his own go on at the same time.

    Mr. Covey was at the house, about one hundred
    yards from the treading-yard where we were fanning.
    On hearing the fan stop, he left immediately, and
    came to the spot where we were. He hastily in-
    quired what the matter was. Bill answered that I
    was sick, and there was no one to bring wheat to the
    fan. I had by this time crawled away under the
    side of the post and rail-fence by which the yard
    was enclosed, hoping to find relief by getting out
    of the sun. He then asked where I was. He was
    told by one of the hands. He came to the spot, and,
    after looking at me awhile, asked me what was
    the matter. I told him as well as I could, for I scarce
    had strength to speak. He then gave me a savage
    kick in the side, and told me to get up. I tried to
    do so, but fell back in the attempt. He gave me
    another kick, and again told me to rise. I again
    tried, and succeeded in gaining my feet; but, stoop-
    ing to get the tub with which I was feeding the
    fan, I again staggered and fell. While down in this
    situation, Mr. Covey took up the hickory slat with
    which Hughes had been striking off the half-bushel
    measure, and with it gave me a heavy blow upon
    the head, making a large wound, and the blood ran
    freely; and with this again told me to get up. I made
    no effort to comply, having now made up my mind
    to let him do his worst. In a short time after re-
    ceiving this blow, my head grew better. Mr. Covey
    had now left me to my fate. At this moment I re-
    solved, for the first time, to go to my master, enter
    a complaint, and ask his protection. In order to do
    this, I must that afternoon walk seven miles; and
    this, under the circumstances, was truly a severe
    undertaking. I was exceedingly feeble; made so as
    much by the kicks and blows which I received, as
    by the severe fit of sickness to which I had been
    subjected. I, however, watched my chance, while
    Covey was looking in an opposite direction, and
    started for St. Michael's. I succeeded in getting a
    considerable distance on my way to the woods, when
    Covey discovered me, and called after me to come
    back, threatening what he would do if I did not
    come. I disregarded both his calls and his threats,
    and made my way to the woods as fast as my feeble
    state would allow; and thinking I might be over-
    hauled by him if I kept the road, I walked through
    the woods, keeping far enough from the road to
    avoid detection, and near enough to prevent losing
    my way. I had not gone far before my little strength
    again failed me. I could go no farther. I fell down,
    and lay for a considerable time. The blood was yet
    oozing from the wound on my head. For a time I
    thought I should bleed to death; and think now that
    I should have done so, but that the blood so matted
    my hair as to stop the wound. After lying there
    about three quarters of an hour, I nerved myself
    up again, and started on my way, through bogs and
    briers, barefooted and bareheaded, tearing my feet
    sometimes at nearly every step; and after a journey
    of about seven miles, occupying some five hours to
    perform it, I arrived at master's store. I then pre-
    sented an appearance enough to affect any but a
    heart of iron. From the crown of my head to my
    feet, I was covered with blood. My hair was all
    clotted with dust and blood; my shirt was stiff with
    blood. I suppose I looked like a man who had es-
    caped a den of wild beasts, and barely escaped them.
    In this state I appeared before my master, humbly
    entreating him to interpose his authority for my
    protection. I told him all the circumstances as well
    as I could, and it seemed, as I spoke, at times to
    affect him. He would then walk the floor, and seek
    to justify Covey by saying he expected I deserved
    it. He asked me what I wanted. I told him, to let
    me get a new home; that as sure as I lived with Mr.
    Covey again, I should live with but to die with
    him; that Covey would surely kill me; he was in a
    fair way for it. Master Thomas ridiculed the idea
    that there was any danger of Mr. Covey's killing
    me, and said that he knew Mr. Covey; that he was
    a good man, and that he could not think of taking
    me from him; that, should he do so, he would lose
    the whole year's wages; that I belonged to Mr. Covey
    for one year, and that I must go back to him, come
    what might; and that I must not trouble him with
    any more stories, or that he would himself GET HOLD
    OF ME. After threatening me thus, he gave me a very
    large dose of salts, telling me that I might remain
    in St. Michael's that night, (it being quite late,)
    but that I must be off back to Mr. Covey's early
    in the morning; and that if I did not, he would
    ~get hold of me,~ which meant that he would whip
    me. I remained all night, and, according to his or-
    ders, I started off to Covey's in the morning, (Sat-
    urday morning,) wearied in body and broken in
    spirit. I got no supper that night, or breakfast that
    morning. I reached Covey's about nine o'clock; and
    just as I was getting over the fence that divided
    Mrs. Kemp's fields from ours, out ran Covey with
    his cowskin, to give me another whipping. Before
    he could reach me, I succeeded in getting to the
    cornfield; and as the corn was very high, it afforded
    me the means of hiding. He seemed very angry, and
    searched for me a long time. My behavior was al-
    together unaccountable. He finally gave up the
    chase, thinking, I suppose, that I must come home
    for something to eat; he would give himself no fur-
    ther trouble in looking for me. I spent that day
    mostly in the woods, having the alternative before
    me,--to go home and be whipped to death, or stay
    in the woods and be starved to death. That night,
    I fell in with Sandy Jenkins, a slave with whom
    I was somewhat acquainted. Sandy had a free wife
    who lived about four miles from Mr. Covey's; and
    it being Saturday, he was on his way to see her. I
    told him my circumstances, and he very kindly in-
    vited me to go home with him. I went home with
    him, and talked this whole matter over, and got his
    advice as to what course it was best for me to pursue.
    I found Sandy an old adviser. He told me, with
    great solemnity, I must go back to Covey; but that
    before I went, I must go with him into another
    part of the woods, where there was a certain ~root,~
    which, if I would take some of it with me, carrying
    it ~always on my right side,~ would render it impos-
    sible for Mr. Covey, or any other white man, to
    whip me. He said he had carried it for years; and
    since he had done so, he had never received a blow,
    and never expected to while he carried it. I at first
    rejected the idea, that the simple carrying of a root
    in my pocket would have any such effect as he had
    said, and was not disposed to take it; but Sandy
    impressed the necessity with much earnestness, tell-
    ing me it could do no harm, if it did no good. To
    please him, I at length took the root, and, ac-
    cording to his direction, carried it upon my right
    side. This was Sunday morning. I immediately
    started for home; and upon entering the yard gate,
    out came Mr. Covey on his way to meeting. He
    spoke to me very kindly, bade me drive the pigs
    from a lot near by, and passed on towards the
    church. Now, this singular conduct of Mr. Covey
    really made me begin to think that there was some-
    thing in the ROOT which Sandy had given me; and
    had it been on any other day than Sunday, I could
    have attributed the conduct to no other cause than
    the influence of that root; and as it was, I was half
    inclined to think the ~root~ to be something more
    than I at first had taken it to be. All went well till
    Monday morning. On this morning, the virtue of
    the ROOT was fully tested. Long before daylight, I
    was called to go and rub, curry, and feed, the horses.
    I obeyed, and was glad to obey. But whilst thus
    engaged, whilst in the act of throwing down some
    blades from the loft, Mr. Covey entered the stable
    with a long rope; and just as I was half out of the
    loft, he caught hold of my legs, and was about tying
    me. As soon as I found what he was up to, I gave
    a sudden spring, and as I did so, he holding to my
    legs, I was brought sprawling on the stable floor.
    Mr. Covey seemed now to think he had me, and
    could do what he pleased; but at this moment--
    from whence came the spirit I don't know--I re-
    solved to fight; and, suiting my action to the reso-
    lution, I seized Covey hard by the throat; and as I
    did so, I rose. He held on to me, and I to him. My
    resistance was so entirely unexpected that Covey
    seemed taken all aback. He trembled like a leaf.
    This gave me assurance, and I held him uneasy,
    causing the blood to run where I touched him with
    the ends of my fingers. Mr. Covey soon called out
    to Hughes for help. Hughes came, and, while Covey
    held me, attempted to tie my right hand. While he
    was in the act of doing so, I watched my chance,
    and gave him a heavy kick close under the ribs.
    This kick fairly sickened Hughes, so that he left
    me in the hands of Mr. Covey. This kick had the
    effect of not only weakening Hughes, but Covey also.
    When he saw Hughes bending over with pain, his
    courage quailed. He asked me if I meant to persist
    in my resistance. I told him I did, come what
    might; that he had used me like a brute for six
    months, and that I was determined to be used so
    no longer. With that, he strove to drag me to a
    stick that was lying just out of the stable door. He
    meant to knock me down. But just as he was leaning
    over to get the stick, I seized him with both hands
    by his collar, and brought him by a sudden snatch
    to the ground. By this time, Bill came. Covey called
    upon him for assistance. Bill wanted to know what
    he could do. Covey said, "Take hold of him, take
    hold of him!" Bill said his master hired him out to
    work, and not to help to whip me; so he left Covey
    and myself to fight our own battle out. We were
    at it for nearly two hours. Covey at length let me
    go, puffing and blowing at a great rate, saying that
    if I had not resisted, he would not have whipped
    me half so much. The truth was, that he had not
    whipped me at all. I considered him as getting en-
    tirely the worst end of the bargain; for he had drawn
    no blood from me, but I had from him. The whole
    six months afterwards, that I spent with Mr. Covey,
    he never laid the weight of his finger upon me in
    anger. He would occasionally say, he didn't want
    to get hold of me again. "No," thought I, "you
    need not; for you will come off worse than you did
    before."

    This battle with Mr. Covey was the turning-
    point in my career as a slave. It rekindled the few
    expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me
    a sense of my own manhood. It recalled the de-
    parted self-confidence, and inspired me again with
    a determination to be free. The gratification af-
    forded by the triumph was a full compensation for
    whatever else might follow, even death itself. He
    only can understand the deep satisfaction which I
    experienced, who has himself repelled by force the
    bloody arm of slavery. I felt as I never felt before.
    It was a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of
    slavery, to the heaven of freedom. My long-crushed
    spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took
    its place; and I now resolved that, however long I
    might remain a slave in form, the day had passed
    forever when I could be a slave in fact. I did not
    hesitate to let it be known of me, that the white
    man who expected to succeed in whipping, must
    also succeed in killing me.

    From this time I was never again what might be
    called fairly whipped, though I remained a slave
    four years afterwards. I had several fights, but was
    never whipped.

    It was for a long time a matter of surprise to me
    why Mr. Covey did not immediately have me taken
    by the constable to the whipping-post, and there
    regularly whipped for the crime of raising my hand
    against a white man in defence of myself. And the
    only explanation I can now think of does not entirely
    satisfy me; but such as it is, I will give it. Mr. Covey
    enjoyed the most unbounded reputation for being
    a first-rate overseer and negro-breaker. It was of con-
    siderable importance to him. That reputation was at
    stake; and had he sent me--a boy about sixteen years
    old--to the public whipping-post, his reputation
    would have been lost; so, to save his reputation, he
    suffered me to go unpunished.

    My term of actual service to Mr. Edward Covey
    ended on Christmas day, 1833. The days between
    Christmas and New Year's day are allowed as holi-
    days; and, accordingly, we were not required to per-
    form any labor, more than to feed and take care of
    the stock. This time we regarded as our own, by the
    grace of our masters; and we therefore used or
    abused it nearly as we pleased. Those of us who had
    families at a distance, were generally allowed to
    spend the whole six days in their society. This time,
    however, was spent in various ways. The staid, sober,
    thinking and industrious ones of our number would
    employ themselves in making corn-brooms, mats,
    horse-collars, and baskets; and another class of us
    would spend the time in hunting opossums, hares,
    and coons. But by far the larger part engaged in
    such sports and merriments as playing ball, wres-
    tling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and
    drinking whisky; and this latter mode of spending
    the time was by far the most agreeable to the feel-
    ings of our masters. A slave who would work during
    the holidays was considered by our masters as
    scarcely deserving them. He was regarded as one
    who rejected the favor of his master. It was deemed
    a disgrace not to get drunk at Christmas; and he
    was regarded as lazy indeed, who had not provided
    himself with the necessary means, during the year,
    to get whisky enough to last him through Christmas.

    From what I know of the effect of these holidays
    upon the slave, I believe them to be among the
    most effective means in the hands of the slaveholder
    in keeping down the spirit of insurrection. Were
    the slaveholders at once to abandon this practice,
    I have not the slightest doubt it would lead to an
    immediate insurrection among the slaves. These
    holidays serve as conductors, or safety-valves, to carry
    off the rebellious spirit of enslaved humanity. But
    for these, the slave would be forced up to the wild-
    est desperation; and woe betide the slaveholder, the
    day he ventures to remove or hinder the operation
    of those conductors! I warn him that, in such an
    event, a spirit will go forth in their midst, more to
    be dreaded than the most appalling earthquake.

    The holidays are part and parcel of the gross
    fraud, wrong, and inhumanity of slavery. They are
    professedly a custom established by the benevolence
    of the slaveholders; but I undertake to say, it is the
    result of selfishness, and one of the grossest frauds
    committed upon the down-trodden slave. They do
    not give the slaves this time because they would
    not like to have their work during its continuance,
    but because they know it would be unsafe to deprive
    them of it. This will be seen by the fact, that the
    slaveholders like to have their slaves spend those
    days just in such a manner as to make them as glad
    of their ending as of their beginning. Their object
    seems to be, to disgust their slaves with freedom,
    by plunging them into the lowest depths of dissipa-
    tion. For instance, the slaveholders not only like to
    see the slave drink of his own accord, but will adopt
    various plans to make him drunk. One plan is, to
    make bets on their slaves, as to who can drink the
    most whisky without getting drunk; and in this way
    they succeed in getting whole multitudes to drink
    to excess. Thus, when the slave asks for virtuous
    freedom, the cunning slaveholder, knowing his ig-
    norance, cheats him with a dose of vicious dissi-
    pation, artfully labelled with the name of liberty.
    The most of us used to drink it down, and the result
    was just what might be supposed; many of us
    were led to think that there was little to choose
    between liberty and slavery. We felt, and very prop-
    erly too, that we had almost as well be slaves to
    man as to rum. So, when the holidays ended, we
    staggered up from the filth of our wallowing, took
    a long breath, and marched to the field,--feeling,
    upon the whole, rather glad to go, from what our
    master had deceived us into a belief was freedom,
    back to the arms of slavery.

    I have said that this mode of treatment is a part
    of the whole system of fraud and inhumanity of
    slavery. It is so. The mode here adopted to disgust
    the slave with freedom, by allowing him to see only
    the abuse of it, is carried out in other things. For
    instance, a slave loves molasses; he steals some.
    His master, in many cases, goes off to town, and
    buys a large quantity; he returns, takes his whip,
    and commands the slave to eat the molasses, until
    the poor fellow is made sick at the very mention
    of it. The same mode is sometimes adopted to make
    the slaves refrain from asking for more food than
    their regular allowance. A slave runs through his
    allowance, and applies for more. His master is en-
    raged at him; but, not willing to send him off with-
    out food, gives him more than is necessary, and com-
    pels him to eat it within a given time. Then, if he
    complains that he cannot eat it, he is said to be
    satisfied neither full nor fasting, and is whipped
    for being hard to please! I have an abundance of
    such illustrations of the same principle, drawn from
    my own observation, but think the cases I have cited
    sufficient. The practice is a very common one.

    On the first of January, 1834, I left Mr. Covey,
    and went to live with Mr. William Freeland, who
    lived about three miles from St. Michael's. I soon
    found Mr. Freeland a very different man from Mr.
    Covey. Though not rich, he was what would be
    called an educated southern gentleman. Mr. Covey,
    as I have shown, was a well-trained negro-breaker
    and slave-driver. The former (slaveholder though he
    was) seemed to possess some regard for honor,
    some reverence for justice, and some respect for
    humanity. The latter seemed totally insensible to
    all such sentiments. Mr. Freeland had many of the
    faults peculiar to slaveholders, such as being very
    passionate and fretful; but I must do him the
    justice to say, that he was exceedingly free from
    those degrading vices to which Mr. Covey was con-
    stantly addicted. The one was open and frank, and
    we always knew where to find him. The other was a
    most artful deceiver, and could be understood only
    by such as were skilful enough to detect his cun-
    ningly-devised frauds. Another advantage I gained
    in my new master was, he made no pretensions to,
    or profession of, religion; and this, in my opinion,
    was truly a great advantage. I assert most unhesi-
    tatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere
    covering for the most horrid crimes,--a justifier of
    the most appalling barbarity,--a sanctifier of the
    most hateful frauds,--and a dark shelter under,
    which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infer-
    nal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protec-
    tion. Were I to be again reduced to the chains of
    slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard
    being the slave of a religious master the greatest
    calamity that could befall me. For of all slaveholders
    with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders
    are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest
    and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all oth-
    ers. It was my unhappy lot not only to belong to a
    religious slaveholder, but to live in a community of
    such religionists. Very near Mr. Freeland lived the
    Rev. Daniel Weeden, and in the same neighborhood
    lived the Rev. Rigby Hopkins. These were members
    and ministers in the Reformed Methodist Church.
    Mr. Weeden owned, among others, a woman slave,
    whose name I have forgotten. This woman's back,
    for weeks, was kept literally raw, made so by the
    lash of this merciless, ~religious~ wretch. He used to
    hire hands. His maxim was, Behave well or behave
    ill, it is the duty of a master occasionally to whip
    a slave, to remind him of his master's authority.
    Such was his theory, and such his practice.

    Mr. Hopkins was even worse than Mr. Weeden.
    His chief boast was his ability to manage slaves.
    The peculiar feature of his government was that
    of whipping slaves in advance of deserving it. He
    always managed to have one or more of his slaves
    to whip every Monday morning. He did this to alarm
    their fears, and strike terror into those who escaped.
    His plan was to whip for the smallest offences, to
    prevent the commission of large ones. Mr. Hopkins
    could always find some excuse for whipping a slave.
    It would astonish one, unaccustomed to a slave-
    holding life, to see with what wonderful ease a slave-
    holder can find things, of which to make occasion
    to whip a slave. A mere look, word, or motion,--a
    mistake, accident, or want of power,--are all matters
    for which a slave may be whipped at any time. Does
    a slave look dissatisfied? It is said, he has the devil
    in him, and it must be whipped out. Does he speak
    loudly when spoken to by his master? Then he is
    getting high-minded, and should be taken down a
    button-hole lower. Does he forget to pull off his
    hat at the approach of a white person? Then he is
    wanting in reverence, and should be whipped for
    it. Does he ever venture to vindicate his conduct,
    when censured for it? Then he is guilty of impu-
    dence,--one of the greatest crimes of which a slave
    can be guilty. Does he ever venture to suggest a
    different mode of doing things from that pointed
    out by his master? He is indeed presumptuous, and
    getting above himself; and nothing less than a flog-
    ging will do for him. Does he, while ploughing,
    break a plough,--or, while hoeing, break a hoe? It
    is owing to his carelessness, and for it a slave must
    always be whipped. Mr. Hopkins could always find
    something of this sort to justify the use of the lash,
    and he seldom failed to embrace such opportunities.
    There was not a man in the whole county, with
    whom the slaves who had the getting their own
    home, would not prefer to live, rather than with
    this Rev. Mr. Hopkins. And yet there was not a
    man any where round, who made higher professions
    of religion, or was more active in revivals,--more
    attentive to the class, love-feast, prayer and preach-
    ing meetings, or more devotional in his family,--
    that prayed earlier, later, louder, and longer,--than
    this same reverend slave-driver, Rigby Hopkins.

    But to return to Mr. Freeland, and to my experi-
    ence while in his employment. He, like Mr. Covey,
    gave us enough to eat; but, unlike Mr. Covey, he
    also gave us sufficient time to take our meals. He
    worked us hard, but always between sunrise and
    sunset. He required a good deal of work to be done,
    but gave us good tools with which to work. His
    farm was large, but he employed hands enough to
    work it, and with ease, compared with many of
    his neighbors. My treatment, while in his employ-
    ment, was heavenly, compared with what I experi-
    enced at the hands of Mr. Edward Covey.

    Mr. Freeland was himself the owner of but two
    slaves. Their names were Henry Harris and John
    Harris. The rest of his hands he hired. These con-
    sisted of myself, Sandy Jenkins,* and Handy Cald-
    well. Henry and John were quite intelligent, and in
    a very little while after I went there, I succeeded in
    creating in them a strong desire to learn how to
    read. This desire soon sprang up in the others also.
    They very soon mustered up some old spelling-books,
    and nothing would do but that I must keep a Sab-
    bath school. I agreed to do so, and accordingly
    devoted my Sundays to teaching these my loved fel-
    low-slaves how to read. Neither of them knew his
    letters when I went there. Some of the slaves of the
    neighboring farms found what was going on, and
    also availed themselves of this little opportunity to
    learn to read. It was understood, among all who
    came, that there must be as little display about it
    as possible. It was necessary to keep our religious
    masters at St. Michael's unacquainted with the fact,
    that, instead of spending the Sabbath in wrestling,
    boxing, and drinking whisky, we were trying to learn
    how to read the will of God; for they had much

    *This is the same man who gave me the roots to prevent
    my being whipped by Mr. Covey. He was "a clever soul."
    We used frequently to talk about the fight with Covey, and
    as often as we did so, he would claim my success as the
    result of the roots which he gave me. This superstition
    is very common among the more ignorant slaves. A slave
    seldom dies but that his death is attributed to trickery.
    rather see us engaged in those degrading sports, than
    to see us behaving like intellectual, moral, and ac-
    countable beings. My blood boils as I think of the
    bloody manner in which Messrs. Wright Fairbanks
    and Garrison West, both class-leaders, in connection
    with many others, rushed in upon us with sticks
    and stones, and broke up our virtuous little Sab-
    bath school, at St. Michael's--all calling themselves
    Christians! humble followers of the Lord Jesus
    Christ! But I am again digressing.

    I held my Sabbath school at the house of a free
    colored man, whose name I deem it imprudent to
    mention; for should it be known, it might embar-
    rass him greatly, though the crime of holding the
    school was committed ten years ago. I had at one
    time over forty scholars, and those of the right sort,
    ardently desiring to learn. They were of all ages,
    though mostly men and women. I look back to those
    Sundays with an amount of pleasure not to be ex-
    pressed. They were great days to my soul. The work
    of instructing my dear fellow-slaves was the sweetest
    engagement with which I was ever blessed. We loved
    each other, and to leave them at the close of the
    Sabbath was a severe cross indeed. When I think
    that these precious souls are to-day shut up in the
    prison-house of slavery, my feelings overcome me,
    and I am almost ready to ask, "Does a righteous
    God govern the universe? and for what does he hold
    the thunders in his right hand, if not to smite the
    oppressor, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand
    of the spoiler?" These dear souls came not to Sab-
    bath school because it was popular to do so, nor did
    I teach them because it was reputable to be thus
    engaged. Every moment they spent in that school,
    they were liable to be taken up, and given thirty-
    nine lashes. They came because they wished to
    learn. Their minds had been starved by their cruel
    masters. They had been shut up in mental darkness.
    I taught them, because it was the delight of my
    soul to be doing something that looked like better-
    ing the condition of my race. I kept up my school
    nearly the whole year I lived with Mr. Freeland;
    and, beside my Sabbath school, I devoted three eve-
    nings in the week, during the winter, to teaching the
    slaves at home. And I have the happiness to know,
    that several of those who came to Sabbath school
    learned how to read; and that one, at least, is now
    free through my agency.

    The year passed off smoothly. It seemed only
    about half as long as the year which preceded it.
    I went through it without receiving a single blow.
    I will give Mr. Freeland the credit of being the
    best master I ever had, ~till I became my own mas-
    ter.~ For the ease with which I passed the year, I
    was, however, somewhat indebted to the society of
    my fellow-slaves. They were noble souls; they not
    only possessed loving hearts, but brave ones. We
    were linked and interlinked with each other. I loved
    them with a love stronger than any thing I have
    experienced since. It is sometimes said that we
    slaves do not love and confide in each other. In
    answer to this assertion, I can say, I never loved
    any or confided in any people more than my fellow-
    slaves, and especially those with whom I lived at
    Mr. Freeland's. I believe we would have died for
    each other. We never undertook to do any thing,
    of any importance, without a mutual consultation.
    We never moved separately. We were one; and as
    much so by our tempers and dispositions, as by the
    mutual hardships to which we were necessarily sub-
    jected by our condition as slaves.

    At the close of the year 1834, Mr. Freeland again
    hired me of my master, for the year 1835. But, by
    this time, I began to want to live ~upon free land~
    as well as ~with freeland;~ and I was no longer con-
    tent, therefore, to live with him or any other slave-
    holder. I began, with the commencement of the
    year, to prepare myself for a final struggle, which
    should decide my fate one way or the other. My
    tendency was upward. I was fast approaching man-
    hood, and year after year had passed, and I was
    still a slave. These thoughts roused me--I must do
    something. I therefore resolved that 1835 should
    not pass without witnessing an attempt, on my part,
    to secure my liberty. But I was not willing to cherish
    this determination alone. My fellow-slaves were dear
    to me. I was anxious to have them participate with
    me in this, my life-giving determination. I therefore,
    though with great prudence, commenced early to
    ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their
    condition, and to imbue their minds with thoughts
    of freedom. I bent myself to devising ways and
    means for our escape, and meanwhile strove, on all
    fitting occasions, to impress them with the gross
    fraud and inhumanity of slavery. I went first to
    Henry, next to John, then to the others. I found,
    in them all, warm hearts and noble spirits. They
    were ready to hear, and ready to act when a feasible
    plan should be proposed. This was what I wanted.
    I talked to them of our want of manhood, if we
    submitted to our enslavement without at least one
    noble effort to be free. We met often, and consulted
    frequently, and told our hopes and fears, recounted
    the difficulties, real and imagined, which we should
    be called on to meet. At times we were almost dis-
    posed to give up, and try to content ourselves with
    our wretched lot; at others, we were firm and un-
    bending in our determination to go. Whenever we
    suggested any plan, there was shrinking--the odds
    were fearful. Our path was beset with the greatest
    obstacles; and if we succeeded in gaining the end
    of it, our right to be free was yet questionable--we
    were yet liable to be returned to bondage. We could
    see no spot, this side of the ocean, where we could
    be free. We knew nothing about Canada. Our
    knowledge of the north did not extend farther than
    New York; and to go there, and be forever harassed
    with the frightful liability of being returned to
    slavery--with the certainty of being treated tenfold
    worse than before--the thought was truly a horrible
    one, and one which it was not easy to overcome.
    The case sometimes stood thus: At every gate
    through which we were to pass, we saw a watchman
    --at every ferry a guard--on every bridge a sentinel--
    and in every wood a patrol. We were hemmed in
    upon every side. Here were the difficulties, real or
    imagined--the good to be sought, and the evil to be
    shunned. On the one hand, there stood slavery, a
    stern reality, glaring frightfully upon us,--its robes
    already crimsoned with the blood of millions, and
    even now feasting itself greedily upon our own flesh.
    On the other hand, away back in the dim distance,
    under the flickering light of the north star, behind
    some craggy hill or snow-covered mountain, stood
    a doubtful freedom--half frozen--beckoning us to
    come and share its hospitality. This in itself was
    sometimes enough to stagger us; but when we per-
    mitted ourselves to survey the road, we were fre-
    quently appalled. Upon either side we saw grim
    death, assuming the most horrid shapes. Now it was
    starvation, causing us to eat our own flesh;--now we
    were contending with the waves, and were drowned;
    --now we were overtaken, and torn to pieces by the
    fangs of the terrible bloodhound. We were stung
    by scorpions, chased by wild beasts, bitten by snakes,
    and finally, after having nearly reached the desired
    spot,--after swimming rivers, encountering wild
    beasts, sleeping in the woods, suffering hunger and
    nakedness,--we were overtaken by our pursuers, and,
    in our resistance, we were shot dead upon the spot!
    I say, this picture sometimes appalled us, and made
    us

    "rather bear those ills we had,

    Than fly to others, that we knew not of."

    In coming to a fixed determination to run away,
    we did more than Patrick Henry, when he resolved
    upon liberty or death. With us it was a doubtful
    liberty at most, and almost certain death if we failed.
    For my part, I should prefer death to hopeless bond-
    age.

    Sandy, one of our number, gave up the notion,
    but still encouraged us. Our company then consisted
    of Henry Harris, John Harris, Henry Bailey, Charles
    Roberts, and myself. Henry Bailey was my uncle,
    and belonged to my master. Charles married my
    aunt: he belonged to my master's father-in-law, Mr.
    William Hamilton.

    The plan we finally concluded upon was, to get
    a large canoe belonging to Mr. Hamilton, and upon
    the Saturday night previous to Easter holidays,
    paddle directly up the Chesapeake Bay. On our ar-
    rival at the head of the bay, a distance of seventy
    or eighty miles from where we lived, it was our
    purpose to turn our canoe adrift, and follow the
    guidance of the north star till we got beyond the
    limits of Maryland. Our reason for taking the water
    route was, that we were less liable to be suspected as
    runaways; we hoped to be regarded as fishermen;
    whereas, if we should take the land route, we should
    be subjected to interruptions of almost every kind.
    Any one having a white face, and being so disposed,
    could stop us, and subject us to examination.

    The week before our intended start, I wrote sev-
    eral protections, one for each of us. As well as I
    can remember, they were in the following words, to
    wit:--

    "This is to certify that I, the undersigned, have
    given the bearer, my servant, full liberty to go to
    Baltimore, and spend the Easter holidays. Written
    with mine own hand, &c., 1835.

    "WILLIAM HAMILTON,

    "Near St. Michael's, in Talbot county, Maryland."

    We were not going to Baltimore; but, in going up
    the bay, we went toward Baltimore, and these pro-
    tections were only intended to protect us while on
    the bay.

    As the time drew near for our departure, our
    anxiety became more and more intense. It was truly
    a matter of life and death with us. The strength of
    our determination was about to be fully tested. At
    this time, I was very active in explaining every dif-
    ficulty, removing every doubt, dispelling every fear,
    and inspiring all with the firmness indispensable to
    success in our undertaking; assuring them that half
    was gained the instant we made the move; we had
    talked long enough; we were now ready to move;
    if not now, we never should be; and if we did not
    intend to move now, we had as well fold our arms,
    sit down, and acknowledge ourselves fit only to be
    slaves. This, none of us were prepared to acknowl-
    edge. Every man stood firm; and at our last meeting,
    we pledged ourselves afresh, in the most solemn
    manner, that, at the time appointed, we would cer-
    tainly start in pursuit of freedom. This was in the
    middle of the week, at the end of which we were
    to be off. We went, as usual, to our several fields
    of labor, but with bosoms highly agitated with
    thoughts of our truly hazardous undertaking. We
    tried to conceal our feelings as much as possible;
    and I think we succeeded very well.

    After a painful waiting, the Saturday morning,
    whose night was to witness our departure, came. I
    hailed it with joy, bring what of sadness it might.
    Friday night was a sleepless one for me. I probably
    felt more anxious than the rest, because I was, by
    common consent, at the head of the whole affair.
    The responsibility of success or failure lay heavily
    upon me. The glory of the one, and the confusion
    of the other, were alike mine. The first two hours
    of that morning were such as I never experienced
    before, and hope never to again. Early in the
    morning, we went, as usual, to the field. We were
    spreading manure; and all at once, while thus en-
    gaged, I was overwhelmed with an indescribable feel-
    ing, in the fulness of which I turned to Sandy, who
    was near by, and said, "We are betrayed!" "Well,"
    said he, "that thought has this moment struck me."
    We said no more. I was never more certain of any
    thing.

    The horn was blown as usual, and we went up
    from the field to the house for breakfast. I went for
    the form, more than for want of any thing to eat
    that morning. Just as I got to the house, in looking
    out at the lane gate, I saw four white men, with
    two colored men. The white men were on horseback,
    and the colored ones were walking behind, as if tied.
    I watched them a few moments till they got up to
    our lane gate. Here they halted, and tied the colored
    men to the gate-post. I was not yet certain as to
    what the matter was. In a few moments, in rode
    Mr. Hamilton, with a speed betokening great excite-
    ment. He came to the door, and inquired if Master
    William was in. He was told he was at the barn. Mr.
    Hamilton, without dismounting, rode up to the barn
    with extraordinary speed. In a few moments, he and
    Mr. Freeland returned to the house. By this time,
    the three constables rode up, and in great haste dis-
    mounted, tied their horses, and met Master William
    and Mr. Hamilton returning from the barn; and
    after talking awhile, they all walked up to the
    kitchen door. There was no one in the kitchen but
    myself and John. Henry and Sandy were up at the
    barn. Mr. Freeland put his head in at the door, and
    called me by name, saying, there were some gentle-
    men at the door who wished to see me. I stepped
    to the door, and inquired what they wanted. They
    at once seized me, and, without giving me any satis-
    faction, tied me--lashing my hands closely together.
    I insisted upon knowing what the matter was. They
    at length said, that they had learned I had been in a
    "scrape," and that I was to be examined before my
    master; and if their information proved false, I
    should not be hurt.

    In a few moments, they succeeded in tying John.
    They then turned to Henry, who had by this time
    returned, and commanded him to cross his hands.
    "I won't!" said Henry, in a firm tone, indicating his
    readiness to meet the consequences of his refusal.
    "Won't you?" said Tom Graham, the constable. "No,
    I won't!" said Henry, in a still stronger tone. With
    this, two of the constables pulled out their shining
    pistols, and swore, by their Creator, that they would
    make him cross his hands or kill him. Each cocked
    his pistol, and, with fingers on the trigger, walked
    up to Henry, saying, at the same time, if he did not
    cross his hands, they would blow his damned heart
    out. "Shoot me, shoot me!" said Henry; "you can't
    kill me but once. Shoot, shoot,--and be damned! ~I
    won't be tied!~" This he said in a tone of loud defi-
    ance; and at the same time, with a motion as quick
    as lightning, he with one single stroke dashed the
    pistols from the hand of each constable. As he did
    this, all hands fell upon him, and, after beating
    him some time, they finally overpowered him, and
    got him tied.

    During the scuffle, I managed, I know not how,
    to get my pass out, and, without being discovered,
    put it into the fire. We were all now tied; and just
    as we were to leave for Easton jail, Betsy Freeland,
    mother of William Freeland, came to the door with
    her hands full of biscuits, and divided them between
    Henry and John. She then delivered herself of a
    speech, to the following effect:--addressing herself
    to me, she said, "~You devil! You yellow devil!~ it was
    you that put it into the heads of Henry and John
    to run away. But for you, you long-legged mulatto
    devil! Henry nor John would never have thought
    of such a thing." I made no reply, and was imme-
    diately hurried off towards St. Michael's. Just a mo-
    ment previous to the scuffle with Henry, Mr. Hamil-
    ton suggested the propriety of making a search for
    the protections which he had understood Frederick
    had written for himself and the rest. But, just at
    the moment he was about carrying his proposal into
    effect, his aid was needed in helping to tie Henry;
    and the excitement attending the scuffle caused
    them either to forget, or to deem it unsafe, under
    the circumstances, to search. So we were not yet
    convicted of the intention to run away.

    When we got about half way to St. Michael's,
    while the constables having us in charge were look-
    ing ahead, Henry inquired of me what he should
    do with his pass. I told him to eat it with his biscuit,
    and own nothing; and we passed the word around,
    "~Own nothing;~" and "~Own nothing!~" said we all.
    Our confidence in each other was unshaken. We
    were resolved to succeed or fail together, after the
    calamity had befallen us as much as before. We
    were now prepared for any thing. We were to be
    dragged that morning fifteen miles behind horses,
    and then to be placed in the Easton jail. When we
    reached St. Michael's, we underwent a sort of exami-
    nation. We all denied that we ever intended to run
    away. We did this more to bring out the evidence
    against us, than from any hope of getting clear of
    being sold; for, as I have said, we were ready for
    that. The fact was, we cared but little where we
    went, so we went together. Our greatest concern was
    about separation. We dreaded that more than any
    thing this side of death. We found the evidence
    against us to be the testimony of one person; our
    master would not tell who it was; but we came to
    a unanimous decision among ourselves as to who
    their informant was. We were sent off to the jail at
    Easton. When we got there, we were delivered up
    to the sheriff, Mr. Joseph Graham, and by him
    placed in jail. Henry, John, and myself, were placed
    in one room together--Charles, and Henry Bailey,
    in another. Their object in separating us was to
    hinder concert.

    We had been in jail scarcely twenty minutes,
    when a swarm of slave traders, and agents for slave
    traders, flocked into jail to look at us, and to as-
    certain if we were for sale. Such a set of beings I
    never saw before! I felt myself surrounded by so
    many fiends from perdition. A band of pirates never
    looked more like their father, the devil. They
    laughed and grinned over us, saying, "Ah, my boys!
    we have got you, haven't we?" And after taunting
    us in various ways, they one by one went into an
    examination of us, with intent to ascertain our value.
    They would impudently ask us if we would not like
    to have them for our masters. We would make them
    no answer, and leave them to find out as best they
    could. Then they would curse and swear at us, telling
    us that they could take the devil out of us in a very
    little while, if we were only in their hands.

    While in jail, we found ourselves in much more
    comfortable quarters than we expected when we
    went there. We did not get much to eat, nor that
    which was very good; but we had a good clean room,
    from the windows of which we could see what was go-
    ing on in the street, which was very much better
    than though we had been placed in one of the dark,
    damp cells. Upon the whole, we got along very well,
    so far as the jail and its keeper were concerned.
    Immediately after the holidays were over, contrary
    to all our expectations, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Free-
    land came up to Easton, and took Charles, the two
    Henrys, and John, out of jail, and carried them
    home, leaving me alone. I regarded this separation
    as a final one. It caused me more pain than any
    thing else in the whole transaction. I was ready for
    any thing rather than separation. I supposed that
    they had consulted together, and had decided that,
    as I was the whole cause of the intention of the
    others to run away, it was hard to make the innocent
    suffer with the guilty; and that they had, therefore,
    concluded to take the others home, and sell me, as
    a warning to the others that remained. It is due
    to the noble Henry to say, he seemed almost as
    reluctant at leaving the prison as at leaving home
    to come to the prison. But we knew we should, in
    all probability, be separated, if we were sold; and
    since he was in their hands, he concluded to go
    peaceably home.

    I was now left to my fate. I was all alone, and
    within the walls of a stone prison. But a few days
    before, and I was full of hope. I expected to have
    been safe in a land of freedom; but now I was cov-
    ered with gloom, sunk down to the utmost despair.
    I thought the possibility of freedom was gone. I
    was kept in this way about one week, at the end
    of which, Captain Auld, my master, to my surprise
    and utter astonishment, came up, and took me out,
    with the intention of sending me, with a gentleman
    of his acquaintance, into Alabama. But, from some
    cause or other, he did not send me to Alabama,
    but concluded to send me back to Baltimore, to
    live again with his brother Hugh, and to learn a
    trade.

    Thus, after an absence of three years and one
    month, I was once more permitted to return to my
    old home at Baltimore. My master sent me away,
    because there existed against me a very great preju-
    dice in the community, and he feared I might be
    killed.

    In a few weeks after I went to Baltimore, Master
    Hugh hired me to Mr. William Gardner, an ex-
    tensive ship-builder, on Fell's Point. I was put there
    to learn how to calk. It, however, proved a very
    unfavorable place for the accomplishment of this
    object. Mr. Gardner was engaged that spring in
    building two large man-of-war brigs, professedly for
    the Mexican government. The vessels were to be
    launched in the July of that year, and in failure
    thereof, Mr. Gardner was to lose a considerable sum;
    so that when I entered, all was hurry. There was
    no time to learn any thing. Every man had to do
    that which he knew how to do. In entering the ship-
    yard, my orders from Mr. Gardner were, to do what-
    ever the carpenters commanded me to do. This was
    placing me at the beck and call of about seventy-five
    men. I was to regard all these as masters. Their
    word was to be my law. My situation was a most
    trying one. At times I needed a dozen pair of hands.
    I was called a dozen ways in the space of a single
    minute. Three or four voices would strike my ear
    at the same moment. It was--"Fred., come help me
    to cant this timber here."--"Fred., come carry this
    timber yonder."--"Fred., bring that roller here."--
    "Fred., go get a fresh can of water."--"Fred., come
    help saw off the end of this timber."--"Fred., go
    quick, and get the crowbar."--"Fred., hold on the
    end of this fall."--"Fred., go to the blacksmith's
    shop, and get a new punch."--"Hurra, Fred.! run
    and bring me a cold chisel."--"I say, Fred., bear a
    hand, and get up a fire as quick as lightning under
    that steam-box."--"Halloo, nigger! come, turn this
    grindstone."--"Come, come! move, move! and BOWSE
    this timber forward."--"I say, darky, blast your eyes,
    why don't you heat up some pitch?"--"Halloo!
    halloo! halloo!" (Three voices at the same time.)
    "Come here!--Go there!--Hold on where you are!
    Damn you, if you move, I'll knock your brains out!"

    This was my school for eight months; and I might
    have remained there longer, but for a most horrid
    fight I had with four of the white apprentices, in
    which my left eye was nearly knocked out, and I
    was horribly mangled in other respects. The facts
    in the case were these: Until a very little while
    after I went there, white and black ship-carpenters
    worked side by side, and no one seemed to see any
    impropriety in it. All hands seemed to be very well
    satisfied. Many of the black carpenters were freemen.
    Things seemed to be going on very well. All at once,
    the white carpenters knocked off, and said they
    would not work with free colored workmen. Their
    reason for this, as alleged, was, that if free colored
    carpenters were encouraged, they would soon take
    the trade into their own hands, and poor white men
    would be thrown out of employment. They therefore
    felt called upon at once to put a stop to it. And,
    taking advantage of Mr. Gardner's necessities, they
    broke off, swearing they would work no longer, unless
    he would discharge his black carpenters. Now,
    though this did not extend to me in form, it did
    reach me in fact. My fellow-apprentices very soon
    began to feel it degrading to them to work with
    me. They began to put on airs, and talk about the
    "niggers" taking the country, saying we all ought to
    be killed; and, being encouraged by the journey-
    men, they commenced making my condition as
    hard as they could, by hectoring me around, and
    sometimes striking me. I, of course, kept the vow
    I made after the fight with Mr. Covey, and struck
    back again, regardless of consequences; and while
    I kept them from combining, I succeeded very well;
    for I could whip the whole of them, taking them
    separately. They, however, at length combined, and
    came upon me, armed with sticks, stones, and heavy
    handspikes. One came in front with a half brick.
    There was one at each side of me, and one behind
    me. While I was attending to those in front, and on
    either side, the one behind ran up with the hand-
    spike, and struck me a heavy blow upon the head.
    It stunned me. I fell, and with this they all ran
    upon me, and fell to beating me with their fists. I
    let them lay on for a while, gathering strength. In
    an instant, I gave a sudden surge, and rose to my
    hands and knees. Just as I did that, one of their
    number gave me, with his heavy boot, a powerful
    kick in the left eye. My eyeball seemed to have
    burst. When they saw my eye closed, and badly
    swollen, they left me. With this I seized the hand-
    spike, and for a time pursued them. But here the
    carpenters interfered, and I thought I might as well
    give it up. It was impossible to stand my hand
    against so many. All this took place in sight of not
    less than fifty white ship-carpenters, and not one
    interposed a friendly word; but some cried, "Kill
    the damned nigger! Kill him! kill him! He struck
    a white person." I found my only chance for life
    was in flight. I succeeded in getting away without
    an additional blow, and barely so; for to strike a
    white man is death by Lynch law,--and that was the
    law in Mr. Gardner's ship-yard; nor is there much
    of any other out of Mr. Gardner's ship-yard.

    I went directly home, and told the story of my
    wrongs to Master Hugh; and I am happy to say of
    him, irreligious as he was, his conduct was heavenly,
    compared with that of his brother Thomas under
    similar circumstances. He listened attentively to my
    narration of the circumstances leading to the savage
    outrage, and gave many proofs of his strong indigna-
    tion at it. The heart of my once overkind mistress
    was again melted into pity. My puffed-out eye and
    blood-covered face moved her to tears. She took a
    chair by me, washed the blood from my face, and,
    with a mother's tenderness, bound up my head,
    covering the wounded eye with a lean piece of fresh
    beef. It was almost compensation for my suffering
    to witness, once more, a manifestation of kindness
    from this, my once affectionate old mistress. Master
    Hugh was very much enraged. He gave expression
    to his feelings by pouring out curses upon the heads
    of those who did the deed. As soon as I got a little
    the better of my bruises, he took me with him to
    Esquire Watson's, on Bond Street, to see what could
    be done about the matter. Mr. Watson inquired who
    saw the assault committed. Master Hugh told him
    it was done in Mr. Gardner's ship-yard at midday,
    where there were a large company of men at work.
    "As to that," he said, "the deed was done, and there
    was no question as to who did it." His answer was,
    he could do nothing in the case, unless some white
    man would come forward and testify. He could
    issue no warrant on my word. If I had been killed
    in the presence of a thousand colored people, their
    testimony combined would have been insufficient
    to have arrested one of the murderers. Master Hugh,
    for once, was compelled to say this state of things
    was too bad. Of course, it was impossible to get any
    white man to volunteer his testimony in my behalf,
    and against the white young men. Even those who
    may have sympathized with me were not prepared
    to do this. It required a degree of courage unknown
    to them to do so; for just at that time, the slightest
    manifestation of humanity toward a colored person
    was denounced as abolitionism, and that name sub-
    jected its bearer to frightful liabilities. The watch-
    words of the bloody-minded in that region, and in
    those days, were, "Damn the abolitionists!" and
    "Damn the niggers!" There was nothing done, and
    probably nothing would have been done if I had
    been killed. Such was, and such remains, the state
    of things in the Christian city of Baltimore.

    Master Hugh, finding he could get no redress, re-
    fused to let me go back again to Mr. Gardner. He
    kept me himself, and his wife dressed my wound
    till I was again restored to health. He then took me
    into the ship-yard of which he was foreman, in the
    employment of Mr. Walter Price. There I was im-
    mediately set to calking, and very soon learned the
    art of using my mallet and irons. In the course of
    one year from the time I left Mr. Gardner's, I was
    able to command the highest wages given to the
    most experienced calkers. I was now of some impor-
    tance to my master. I was bringing him from six
    to seven dollars per week. I sometimes brought him
    nine dollars per week: my wages were a dollar and
    a half a day. After learning how to calk, I sought
    my own employment, made my own contracts, and
    collected the money which I earned. My pathway
    became much more smooth than before; my condi-
    tion was now much more comfortable. When I could
    get no calking to do, I did nothing. During these
    leisure times, those old notions about freedom would
    steal over me again. When in Mr. Gardner's employ-
    ment, I was kept in such a perpetual whirl of ex-
    citement, I could think of nothing, scarcely, but
    my life; and in thinking of my life, I almost forgot
    my liberty. I have observed this in my experience
    of slavery,--that whenever my condition was im-
    proved, instead of its increasing my contentment,
    it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to
    thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found
    that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to
    make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his
    moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to
    annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to
    detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made
    to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought
    to that only when he ceases to be a man.

    I was now getting, as I have said, one dollar and
    fifty cents per day. I contracted for it; I earned it;
    it was paid to me; it was rightfully my own; yet,
    upon each returning Saturday night, I was compelled
    to deliver every cent of that money to Master Hugh.
    And why? Not because he earned it,--not because
    he had any hand in earning it,--not because I owed
    it to him,--nor because he possessed the slightest
    shadow of a right to it; but solely because he had
    the power to compel me to give it up. The right of
    the grim-visaged pirate upon the high seas is exactly
    the same.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 11
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Frederick Douglass essay and need some advice, post your Frederick Douglass essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?