Infomotions, Inc.Twenty-Two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman Embracing a Correspondence of Several Years, While President of Wilberforce Colony, London, Canada West / Steward, Austin

Author: Steward, Austin
Title: Twenty-Two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman Embracing a Correspondence of Several Years, While President of Wilberforce Colony, London, Canada West
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): lewis; capt; rochester; helm; slave; slaves; israel lewis; slavery; colony
Contributor(s): Newnes, George, 1851-1910 [Editor]
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Size: 84,463 words (short) Grade range: 12-15 (college) Readability score: 53 (average)
Identifier: etext11137
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Title: Twenty-Two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman
       Embracing a Correspondence of Several Years,
         While President of Wilberforce Colony, London, Canada West

Author: Austin Steward

Release Date: February 18, 2004 [EBook #11137]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by William A. Pifer-Foote and PG Distributed Proofreaders

[Illustration: [Signature of] Austin Steward]







Albany, May 10, 1856.

MR. A. STEWARD, Canandaigua,

Dear Sir:--I notice a paragraph in the "Ontario Times" of this date,
making the announcement that you are preparing "a sketch of events
occurring under your own observation during an eventful life," to be
entitled, "Twenty Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman;" and that you
design soon to make an effort to obtain subscribers for the book.

Being desirous of rendering you what encouragement I may in the work, you
are permitted to place my name on your list of subscribers.

Respectfully Yours,


       *       *       *       *       *



Dear Sir:--The undersigned have heard with pleasure, that you are about
issuing a Book made up from incidents in the life of Austin STEWARD. We
have been the early acquaintances and associates of Mr. Steward, while a
business man in Rochester in an early day, and take pleasure in bearing
testimony to his high personal, moral and Christian character. In a world
of vicissitude, Mr. Steward has received no ordinary share, and we hope,
while his book may do the world good, it may prove a substantial benefit
to him in his declining years.


       *       *       *       *       *




Dear Sir:--In reply to your letter upon the propriety of publishing your
life, I answer, that there is not only no objection to it, but it will be
timely, and is demanded by every consideration of humanity and justice.
Every tongue which speaks for Freedom, which has once been held by the
awful gag of Slavery, is trumpet-tongued--and he who pleads against this
monstrous oppression, if he can say, "here are the scars," can do much.

It is a great pleasure to me to run back to my boyhood, and stop at that
spot where I first met you. I recollect the story of your wrongs, and your
joy in the supposition that all were now ended in your freedom; of your
thirst for knowledge, as you gathered up from the rudimental books--not
then very plenty--a few snatches of the elements of the language; of
playing the school-master to you, in "setting copies" for your writing--
book; of guiding your mind and pen. I remember your commencement in
business, and the outrage and indignity offered you in Rochester, by white
competitors on no other ground than that of color.[1] I saw your bitter
tears, and recollect assuring you--what afterwards proved true--that
justice would overtake the offenders, and that you would live to see
these enemies bite the dust! I remember your unsullied character, and your
prosperity, and when your word or endorsement was equal to that of any
other citizen. I remember too, when yourself, and others of your kind,
sunk all the gatherings of years of toil, in an unsuccessful attempt to
establish an asylum for your enslaved and oppressed brethren--and, not to
enumerate, which I might do much farther, I remember when your "old
master," finding you had been successful, while he himself had lost in the
changes on fortune's wheel--came here and set up a claim to yourself and
your property--a claim which might have held both, had not a higher power
suddenly summoned him to a tribunal, where both master and slave shall one
day answer each for himself!

But to the book. Let its plain, unvarnished tale be sent out, and the
story of Slavery and its abominations, again be told by one who has felt
in his own person its scorpion lash, and the weight of its grinding heel.
I think it will do good service, and could not have been sent forth at a
more auspicious period. The downfall of the hateful system of Slavery is
certain. Though long delayed, justice is sure to come at length; and he
must be a slow thinker and a poor seer, who cannot discern in the elements
already at work, the mighty forces which must eventually crush this
oppression. I know that you and I have felt discouraged at the long delay,
years ago,--when we might have kept up our hopes by the fact that every
thing that is slow is _sure_. Your book may be humble and your
descriptions tame, yet truth is always mighty; and you may furnish the
sword for some modern Sampson, who shall shout over more slain than his
ancient prototype. I close with the wish, that much success may attend
your labors, in more ways than one, and that your last days may be your
best--and am,

Your old Friend,

And obed't serv't,


[Footnote 1: The indignity spoken of was this: Mr. Steward had established
a grocery and provision store on Buffalo Street, in a part of Abner
Wakelee's building, opposite the Eagle Hotel. He put up his sign, a very
plain and proper one, and at night, some competitors, whom he knew, as
well as he could know anything which he could not prove, smeared his sign
with black paint, utterly destroying it! But the misguided men who stooped
to such an act--the victims of sensuality and excess--have years ago ended
their journey, and passed to the bar of a higher adjudication.]

       *       *       *       *       *









































The author does not think that any apology is necessary for this issue of
his Life and History. He believes that American Slavery is now the great
question before the American People: that it is not merely a political
question, coming up before the country as the grand element in the making
of a President, and then to be laid aside for four years; but that its
moral bearings are of such a nature that the Patriot, the Philanthropist,
and all good men agree that it is an evil of so much magnitude, that
longer to permit it, is to wink at _sin_, and to incur the righteous
judgments of God. The late outrages and aggressions of the slave power to
possess itself of new soil, and extend the influence of the hateful and
God-provoking "Institution," is a practical commentary upon its benefits
and the moral qualities of those who seek to sustain and extend it. The
author is therefore the more willing--nay, anxious, to lay alongside of
such arguments the history of his own life and experiences _as a slave_,
that those who read may know what are some of the characteristics of
that highly favored institution, which is sought to be preserved and
perpetuated. "Facts are stubborn things,"--and this is the reason why
all systems, religious, moral, or social, which are founded in injustice,
and supported by fraud and robbery, suffer so much by faithful exposition.

The author has endeavored to present a true statement of the practical
workings of the system of Slavery, as he has seen and _felt it himself._
He has intended "nothing to extenuate, nor aught set down in malice;"
indeed, so far from believing that he has misrepresented Slavery as an
institution, he does not feel that he has the power to give anything like
a true picture of it in all its deformity and wickedness; especially
_that_ Slavery which is an institution among an enlightened and Christian
people, who profess to believe that all men are born _free_ and _equal_,
and who have certain inalienable _rights_, among which are _life,
liberty_, and the pursuit of happiness.

The author claims that he has endeavored since he had his freedom, as much
as in him lay, to benefit his suffering fellows in bondage; and that he
has spent most of his free life in efforts to elevate them in manners and
morals, though against all the opposing forces of prejudice and pride,
which of course, has made much of his labor vain. In his old age he sends
out this history--presenting as it were his _own body_, with the marks and
scars of the tender mercies of slave drivers upon it, and asking that
these may plead in the name of Justice, Humanity, and Mercy, that those
who have the power, may have the magnanimity to strike off the chains from
the enslaved, and bid him stand up, a Freeman and a Brother!



I was born in Prince William County, Virginia. At seven years of age, I
found myself a slave on the plantation of Capt. William Helm. Our family
consisted of my father and mother--whose names were Robert and Susan
Steward--a sister, Mary, and myself. As was the usual custom, we lived in
a small cabin, built of rough boards, with a floor of earth, and small
openings in the sides of the cabin were substituted for windows. The
chimney was built of sticks and mud; the door, of rough boards; and the
whole was put together in the rudest possible manner. As to the furniture
of this rude dwelling, it was procured by the slaves themselves, who were
occasionally permitted to earn a little money after their day's toil was
done. I never knew Capt. H. to furnish his slaves with household utensils
of any description.

The amount of provision given out on the plantation per week, was
invariably one peck of corn or meal for each slave. This allowance was
given in meal when it could be obtained; when it could not, they received
corn, which they pounded in mortars after they returned from their labor
in the field. The slaves on our plantation were provided with very little
meat In addition to the peck of corn or meal, they were allowed a little
salt and a few herrings. If they wished for more, they were obliged to
earn it by over-work. They were permitted to cultivate small gardens, and
were thereby enabled to provide themselves with many trifling
conveniences. But these gardens were only allowed to some of the more
industrious. Capt. Helm allowed his slaves a small quantity of meat during
harvest time, but when the harvest was over they were obliged to fall back
on the old allowance.

It was usual for men and women to work side by side on our plantation; and
in many kinds of work, the women were compelled to do as much as the men.
Capt. H. employed an overseer, whose business it was to look after each
slave in the field, and see that he performed his task. The overseer
always went around with a whip, about nine feet long, made of the toughest
kind of cowhide, the but-end of which was loaded with lead, and was about
four or five inches in circumference, running to a point at the opposite
extremity. This made a dreadful instrument of torture, and, when in the
hands of a cruel overseer, it was truly fearful. With it, the skin of an
ox or a horse could be cut through. Hence, it was no uncommon thing to see
the poor slaves with their backs mangled in a most horrible manner. Our
overseer, thus armed with his cowhide, and with a large bull-dog behind
him, followed the slaves all day; and, if one of them fell in the rear
from any cause, this cruel weapon was plied with terrible force. He would
strike the dog one blow and the slave another, in order to keep the former
from tearing the delinquent slave in pieces,--such was the ferocity of his
canine attendant.

It was the rule for the slaves to rise and be ready for their task by
sun-rise, on the blowing of a horn or conch-shell; and woe be to the
unfortunate, who was not in the field at the time appointed, which was in
thirty minutes from the first sounding of the horn. I have heard the poor
creatures beg as for their lives, of the inhuman overseer, to desist from
his cruel punishment. Hence, they were usually found in the field
"betimes in the morning," (to use an old Virginia phrase), where they
worked until nine o'clock. They were then allowed thirty minutes to eat
their morning meal, which consisted of a little bread. At a given
signal, all hands were compelled to return to their work. They toiled
until noon, when they were permitted to take their breakfast, which
corresponds to our dinner.

On our plantation, it was the usual practice to have one of the old slaves
set apart to do the cooking. All the field hands were required to give
into the hands of the cook a certain portion of their weekly allowance,
either in dough or meal, which was prepared in the following manner. The
cook made a hot fire and rolled up each person's portion in some cabbage
leaves, when they could be obtained, and placed it in a hole in the ashes,
carefully covered with the same, where it remained until done. Bread baked
in this way is very sweet and good. But cabbage leaves could not always be
obtained. When this was the case, the bread was little better than a
mixture of dough and ashes, which was not very palatable. The time allowed
for breakfast, was one hour. At the signal, all hands were obliged to
resume their toil. The overseer was always on hand to attend to all
delinquents, who never failed to feel the blows of his heavy whip.

The usual mode of punishing the poor slaves was, to make them take off
their clothes to the bare back, and then tie their hands before them with
a rope, pass the end of the rope over a beam, and draw them up till they
stood on the tips of their toes. Sometimes they tied their legs together
and placed a rail between. Thus prepared, the overseer proceeded to punish
the poor, helpless victim. Thirty-nine was the number of lashes ordinarily
inflicted for the most trifling offence.

Who can imagine a position more painful? Oh, who, with feelings of common
humanity, could look quietly on such torture? Who could remain unmoved,
to see a fellow-creature thus tied, unable to move or to raise a hand in
his own defence; scourged on his bare back, with a cowhide, until the
blood flows in streams from his quivering flesh? And for what? Often for
the most trifling fault; and, as sometimes occurs, because a mere whim or
caprice of his brutal overseer demands it. Pale with passion, his eyes
flashing and his stalwart frame trembling with rage, like some volcano,
just ready to belch forth its fiery contents, and, in all its might and
fury, spread death and destruction all around, he continues to wield the
bloody lash on the broken flesh of the poor, pleading slave, until his
arm grows weary, or he sinks down, utterly exhausted, on the very spot
where already stand the pools of blood which his cruelty has drawn from
thee mangled body of his helpless victim, and within the hearing of those
agonized groans and feeble cries of "Oh do, Massa! Oh do, Massa! Do, Lord,
have mercy! Oh, Lord, have mercy!" &c.

Nor is this cruel punishment inflicted on the bare backs of the male
portion of slaves only. Oh no! The slave husband must submit without a
murmur, to see the form of his cherished, but wretched wife, not only
exposed to the rude gaze of a beastly tyrant, but he must unresistingly
see the heavy cowhide descend upon her shrinking flesh, and her manacled
limbs writhe in inexpressible torture, while her piteous cries for help
ring through his ears unanswered. The wild throbbing of his heart must be
suppressed, and his righteous indignation find no voice, in the presence
of the human monster who holds dominion over him.

After the infuriated and heartless overseer had satiated his thirst for
vengeance, on the disobedient or delinquent slave, he was untied, and left
to crawl away as best he could; sometimes on his hands and knees, to his
lonely and dilapidated cabin, where, stretched upon the cold earth, he lay
weak and bleeding and often faint from the loss of blood, without a
friend who dare administer to his necessities, and groaning in the agony
of his crushed spirit. In his cabin, which was not as good as many of our
stables at the North, he might lie for weeks before recovering sufficient
strength to resume the labor imposed upon him, and all this time without
a bed or bed clothing, or any of the necessaries considered so essential
to the sick.

Perhaps some of his fellow-slaves might come and bathe his wounds in warm
water, to prevent his clothing from tearing open his flesh anew, and thus
make the second suffering well nigh equal to the first; or they might
from their scanty store bring him such food as they could spare, to keep
him from suffering hunger, and offer their sympathy, and then drag their
own weary bodies to their place of rest, after their daily task was

Oh, you who have hearts to feel; you who have kind friends around you, in
sickness and in sorrow, think of the sufferings of the helpless,
destitute, and down-trodden slave. Has sickness laid its withering hand
upon you, or disappointment blasted your fairest earthly prospects, still,
the outgushings of an affectionate heart are not denied you, and you may
look forward with hope to a bright future. Such a hope seldom animates the
heart of the poor slave. He toils on, in his unrequited labor, looking
only to the grave to find a quiet resting place, where he will be free
from the oppressor.



When eight years of age, I was taken to the "great house," or the family
mansion of my master, to serve as an errand boy, where I had to stand in
the presence of my master's family all the day, and a part of the night,
ready to do any thing which they commanded me to perform.

My master's family consisted of himself and wife, and seven children. His
overseer, whose name was Barsly Taylor, had also a wife and five children.
These constituted the white population on the plantation. Capt. Helm was
the owner of about one hundred slaves, which made the residents on the
plantation number about one hundred and sixteen persons in all. One
hundred and seven of them, were required to labor for the benefit of the
remaining nine, who possessed that vast domain; and one hundred of the
number doomed to unrequited toil, under the lash of a cruel task-master
during life, with no hope of release this side of the grave, and as far
as the cruel oppressor is concerned, shut out from hope beyond it.

And here let me ask, why is this practice of working slaves half clad,
poorly fed, with nothing or nearly so, to stimulate them to exertion, but
fear of the lash? Do the best interests of our common country require it?
I think not. Did the true interest of Capt. Helm demand it? Whatever may
have been his opinion, I cannot think it did. Can it be for the best
interest or good of the enslaved? Certainly not; for there is no real
inducement for the slaveholder to make beasts of burden of his fellow men,
but that which was frankly acknowledged by Gibbs and other pirates: "we
have the power,"--the power to rob and murder on the high seas!--which
they will undoubtedly continue to hold, until overtaken by justice; which
will certainly come some time, just as sure as that a righteous God reigns
over the earth or rules in heaven.

Some have attempted to apologize for the enslaving of the Negro, by saying
that they are inferior to the Anglo-Saxon race in every respect. This
charge I deny; it is utterly false. Does not the Bible inform us that
"God hath created of one blood all the nations of the earth?" And
certainly in stature and physical force the colored man is quite equal to
his white brother, and in many instances his superior; but were it
otherwise, I can not see why the more favored class should enslave the
other. True, God has given to the African a darker complexion than to his
white brother; still, each have the same desires and aspirations. The
food required for the sustenance of one is equally necessary for the
other. Naturally or physically, they alike require to be warmed by the
cheerful fire, when chilled by our northern winter's breath; and alike
they welcome the cool spring and the delightful shade of summer. Hence,
I have come to the conclusion that God created all men free and equal, and
placed them upon this earth to do good and benefit each other, and that
war and slavery should be banished from the face of the earth.

My dear reader will not understand me to say, that all nations are alike
intelligent, enterprising and industrious, for we all know that it is far
otherwise; but to man, and not to our Creator, should the fault be
charged. But, to resume our narrative,

Capt. Helm was not a very hard master; but generally was kind and
pleasant. Indulgent when in good humor, but like many of the southerners,
terrible when in a passion. He was a great sportsman, and very fond of
company. He generally kept one or two race horses, and a pack of hounds
for fox-hunting, which at that time, was a very common and fashionable
diversion in that section of country. He was not only a sportsman,
but a gamester, and was in the habit of playing cards, and sometimes
betting very high and losing accordingly.

I well remember an instance of the kind: it was when he played cards with
a Mr. W. Graham, who won from him in one sweep, two thousand and seven
hundred dollars in all, in the form of a valuable horse, prized at sixteen
hundred dollars, another saddle-horse of less value, one slave, and his
wife's gold watch. The company decided that all this was fairly won, but
Capt. Holm demurred, and refused to give up the property until an
application was made to Gen. George Washington, ("the father of his
country,") who decided that Capt. Helm had lost the game, and that Mr.
Graham had fairly won the property, of which Mr. G. took immediate
possession, and conveyed to his own plantation.

Capt. Helm was not a good business man, unless we call horse-racing,
fox-hunting, and card-playing, business. His overseer was entrusted with
every thing on the plantation, and allowed to manage about as he pleased,
while the Captain enjoyed himself in receiving calls from his wealthy
neighbors, and in drinking what he called "grog," which was no more nor
less than whisky, of which he was extremely fond, notwithstanding his
cellar contained the choicest wines and liquors. To show his partiality
for his favorite beverage, I will relate an incident which occurred
between Capt. Helm and Col. Charles Williamson. The Colonel, believing
wine to be a healthier beverage than whisky, accepted a bet made by Capt.
Helm, of one thousand dollars, that he would live longer and drink
whisky, than the Colonel, who drank wine. Shortly after, Col. Williamson
was called home by the British government, and while on his way to
England, died, and his body, preserved in a cask of brandy, was taken
home. The bet Capt. Helm made considerable effort to get, but was

Mrs. Helm was a very industrious woman, and generally busy in her
household affairs--sewing, knitting, and looking after the servants; but
she was a great scold,--continually finding fault with some of the
servants, and frequently punishing the young slaves herself, by striking
them over the head with a heavy iron key, until the blood ran; or else
whipping them with a cowhide, which she always kept by her side when
sitting in her room. The older servants she would cause to be punished
by having them severely whipped by a man, which she never failed to do for
every trifling fault. I have felt the weight of some of her heaviest keys
on my own head, and for the slightest offences. No slave could possibly
escape being punished--I care not how attentive they might be, nor how
industrious--punished they must be, and punished they certainly were. Mrs.
Helm appeared to be uneasy unless some of the servants were under the
lash. She came into the kitchen one morning and my mother, who was cook,
had just put on the dinner. Mrs. Helm took out her white cambric
handkerchief, and rubbed it on the inside of the pot, and it crocked it!
That was enough to invoke the wrath of my master, who came forth
immediately with his horse-whip, with which he whipped my poor mother
most unmercifully--far more severely than I ever knew him to whip a horse.

I once had the misfortune to break the lock of master's shot gun, and when
it came to his knowledge, he came to me in a towering passion, and charged
me with what he considered the _crime_ of carelessness. I denied it, and
told him I knew nothing about it; but I was so terribly frightened that he
saw I was guilty, and told me so, foaming with rage; and then I confessed
the truth. But oh, there was no escaping the lash. Its recollection
is still bitter, and ever will be. I was commanded to take off my clothes,
which I did, and then master put me on the back of another slave, my
arms hanging down before him and my hands clasped in his, where he was
obliged to hold me with a vise-like grasp. Then master gave me the most
severe flogging that I ever received, and I pray God that I may never
again experience such torture. And yet Capt. Helm was not the worst of

These cruelties are daily occurrences, and so degrading is the whole
practice of Slavery, that it not only crushes and brutalizes the wretched
slave, but it hardens the heart, benumbs all the fine feelings of
humanity, and deteriorates from the character of the slaveholders
themselves,--whether man or woman. Otherwise, how could a gentle, and in
other respects, amiable woman, look on such scenes of cruelty, without
a shudder of utter abhorrence? But slaveholding ladies, can not only look
on quietly, but with approbation; and what is worse, though very common,
they can and do use the lash and cowhide themselves, on the backs of their
slaves, and that too on those of their own sex! Far rather would I spend
my life in a State's Prison, than be the slave of the best slaveholder
on the earth!

When I was not employed as an errand-boy, it was my duty to stand behind
my master's chair, which was sometimes the whole day, never being allowed
to sit in his presence. Indeed, no slave is ever allowed to sit down in
the presence of their master or mistress. If a slave is addressed when
sitting, he is required to spring to his feet, and instantly remove his
hat, if he has one, and answer in the most humble manner, or lay the
foundation for a flogging, which will not be long delayed.

I slept in the same room with my master and mistress. This room was
elegantly furnished with damask curtains, mahogany bedstead of the
most expensive kind, and every thing else about it was of the most costly
kind. And while Mr. and Mrs. Helm reposed on their bed of down, with a
cloud of lace floating over them, like some Eastern Prince, with their
slaves to fan them while they slept, and to tremble when they awoke, I
always slept upon the floor, without a pillow or even a blanket, but, like
a dog, lay down anywhere I could find a place.

Slaves are never allowed to leave the plantation to which they belong,
without a written pass. Should any one venture to disobey this law, he
will most likely be caught by the _patrol_ and given thirty-nine lashes.
This patrol is always on duty every Sunday, going to each plantation under
their supervision, entering every slave cabin, and examining closely the
conduct of the slaves; and if they find one slave from another plantation
without a pass, he is immediately punished with a severe flogging.

I recollect going one Sunday with my mother, to visit my grand-mother; and
while there, two or three of the patrol came and looked into the cabin,
and seeing my mother, demanded her pass. She told them that she had one,
but had left it in another cabin, from whence she soon brought it, which
saved her a whipping but we were terribly frightened.

The reader will obtain a better knowledge of the character of a Virginia
patrol, by the relation of an affair, which came off on the neighboring
plantation of Col. Alexander, in which some forty of Capt. Helm's slaves
were engaged, and which proved rather destructive of human life in the

But I must first say that it is not true, that slave owners are respected
for kindness to their slaves. The more tyrannical a master is, the more
will he be favorably regarded by his neighboring planters; and from the
day that he acquires the reputation of a kind and indulgent master, he is
looked upon with suspicion, and sometimes hatred, and his slaves are
watched more closely than before.

Col. Alexander was a very wealthy planter and owned a great number of
slaves, but he was very justly suspected of being a kind, humane, and
indulgent master. His slaves were always better fed, better clad, and had
greater privileges than any I knew in the Old Dominion; and of course, the
patrol had long had an eye on them, anxious to flog some of "those
pampered niggers, who were spoiled by the indulgence of a weak,
inefficient, but well-meaning owner."

Col. A. gave his slaves the liberty to get up a grand dance. Invitations
were sent and accepted, to a large number of slaves on other plantations,
and so, for miles around, all or many of the slaves were in high
anticipation of joining in the great dance, which was to come off on
Easter night. In the mean time, the patrol was closely watching their
movements, and evinced rather a joyful expectancy of the many they
should find there without a pass, and the flogging they would give them
for that, if not guilty of any other offence, and perhaps they might catch
some of the Colonel's slaves doing something for which they could be
taught "to know their place," by the application of the cowhide.

The slaves on Col. A.'s plantation had to provide and prepare the supper
for the expected vast "turn out," which was no light matter; and as slaves
like on such occasions to pattern as much as possible after their master's
family, the result was, to meet the emergency of the case, they _took_
without saying, "by your leave, Sir," some property belonging to their
master, reasoning among themselves, as slaves often do, that it can not be
_stealing_, because "it belongs to massa, and so do _we_, and we only use
one part of his property to benefit another. Sure, 'tis all massa's."
And if they do not get detected in this removal of "massa's property" from
one location to another, they think no more of it.

Col. Alexander's slaves were hurrying on with their great preparations for
the dance and feast; and as the time drew near, the old and knowing ones
might be seen in groups, discussing the matter, with many a wink and nod;
but it was in the valleys and by-places where the younger portion were to
be found, rather secretly preparing food for the great time coming.
This consisted of hogs, sheep, calves; and as to master's _poultry_, that
suffered daily. Sometimes it was missed, but the disappearance was always
easily accounted for, by informing "massa" that a great number of hawks
had been around of late; and their preparation went on, night after night,
undetected. They who repaired to a swamp or other by-place to cook by
night, carefully destroyed everything likely to detect them, before they
returned to their cabins in the morning.

The night for the dance _came_ at last, and long before the time, the road
leading to Col. Alexander's plantation presented a gay spectacle. The
females were seen flocking to the place of resort, with heads adorned with
gaudy bandanna turbans and new calico dresses, of the gayest colors,
--their whole attire decked over with bits of gauze ribbon and other
fantastic finery. The shades of night soon closed over the plantation, and
then could be heard the rude music and loud laugh of the unpolished slave.
It was about ten o'clock when the _aristocratic slaves_ began to assemble,
dressed in the cast-off finery of their master and mistress, swelling out
and putting on airs in imitation of those they were forced to obey from
day to day.

When they were all assembled, the dance commenced; the old fiddler struck
up some favorite tune, and over the floor they went; the flying feet of
the dancers were heard, pat, pat, over the apartment till the clock
warned them it was twelve at midnight, or what some call "low twelve," to
distinguish it from twelve o'clock at noon; then the violin ceased its
discordant sounds, and the merry dancers paused to take breath.

Supper was then announced, and all began to prepare for the sumptuous
feast. It being the pride of slaves to imitate the manners of their master
and mistress, especially in the ceremonies of the table, all was conducted
with great propriety and good order. The food was well cooked, and in a
very plentiful supply. They had also managed in some way, to get a good
quantity of excellent wine, which was sipped in the most approved and
modern style. Every dusky face was lighted up, and every eye sparkled with
joy. However ill fed they might have been, here, for once, there was
plenty. Suffering and toil was forgotten, and they all seemed with one
accord to give themselves up to the intoxication of pleasurable amusement.

House servants were of course, "the stars" of the party; all eyes were
turned to them to see how they conducted, for they, among slaves, are what
a military man would call "fugle-men." The field hands, and such of them
as have generally been excluded from the dwelling of their owners, look to
the house servant as a pattern of politeness and gentility. And indeed, it
is often the only method of obtaining any knowledge of the manners of what
is called "genteel society;" hence, they are ever regarded as a privileged
class; and are sometimes greatly envied, while others are bitterly hated.
And too often justly, for many of them are the most despicable
tale-bearers and mischief-makers, who will, for the sake of the favor of
his master or mistress, frequently betray his fellow-slave, and by
tattling, get him severely whipped; and for these acts of perfidy, and
sometimes downright falsehood, he is often rewarded by his master, who
knows it is for his interest to keep such ones about him; though he is
sometimes obliged, in addition to a reward, to send him away, for fear
of the vengeance of the betrayed slaves. In the family of his master,
the example of bribery and treachery is ever set before him, hence it is,
that insurrections and stampedes are so generally detected. Such slaves
are always treated with more affability than others, for the slaveholder
is well aware that he stands over a volcano, that may at any moment rock
his foundation to the center, and with one mighty burst of its long
suppressed fire, sweep him and his family to destruction. When he lies
down at night, he knows not but that ere another morning shall dawn, he
may be left mangled and bleeding, and at the mercy of those maddened
slaves whom he has so long ruled with a rod of iron.

But the supper, like other events, came to an end at last. The expensive
table service, with other things, which had been secretly brought from the
"great house," was hurriedly cleansed by the slaves, and carefully
returned. The floor was again cleared, the violin sounded, and soon they
were performing another "break down," with all the wild abandon of the
African character,--in the very midst of which, the music suddenly ceased,
and the old musician assumed a listening attitude. Every foot was
motionless; every face terrified, and every ear listening for the cause of
the alarm.

Soon the slave who was kept on the "look-out," shouted to the listeners
the single word "_patrol!_" and then the tumult that followed that
announcement, is beyond the power of language to describe! Many a poor
slave who had stolen from his cabin, to join in the dance, now remembered
that they had no pass! Many screamed in affright, as if they already felt
the lash and heard the crack of the overseer's whip; others clenched their
hands, and assumed an attitude of bold defiance, while a savage frown
contracted the brow of all. Their unrestrained merriment and delicious
fare, seemed to arouse in them the natural feelings of self-defence and
defiance of their oppressors. But what could be done? The patrol was
nearing the building, when an athletic, powerful slave, who had been but a
short time from his "fatherland," whose spirit the cowardly overseer had
labored in vain to quell, said in a calm, clear voice, that we had better
stand our ground, and advised the females to lose no time in useless
wailing, but get their things and repair immediately to a cabin at a short
distance, and there remain quiet, without a light, which they did with all
possible haste. The men were terrified at this bold act of their leader;
and many with dismay at the thought of resistance, began to skulk behind
fences and old buildings, when he opened the door and requested every
slave to leave who felt unwilling to fight. None were urged to remain, and
those who stood by him did so voluntarily.

Their number was now reduced to twenty-five men, but the leader, a
gigantic African, with a massive, compact frame, and an arm of great
strength, looked competent to put ten common men to flight. He clenched
his powerful fist, and declared that he would resist unto death, before he
would be arrested by those savage men, even if they promised not to flog
him. They closed the door, and agreed not to open it; and then the leader
cried, "Extinguish the lights and let them come! we will meet them hand to
hand!" Five of the number he stationed near the door, with orders to rush
out, if the patrol entered, and seize their horses, cut the bridles, or
otherwise unfit them for use. This would prevent them from giving an alarm
and getting a reinforcement from surrounding plantations. In silence
they awaited the approach of the enemy, and soon the tramping of horses'
feet announced their approach, but when within a few yards of the house
they halted, and were overheard by one of the skulking slaves, maturing
their plans and mode of attack. There was great hesitancy expressed by a
part of the company to engage in the affair at all.

  "Coming events cast their shadow before."

The majority, however, seemed to think it safe enough, and uttered
expressions of triumph that they had got the rascals at last.

"Are you not afraid that they will resist?" said the weaker party.

"Resist?" was the astonished answer. "This old fellow, the Colonel, has
pampered and indulged his slaves, it is true, and they have slipped
through our fingers whenever we have attempted to chastise them; but they
are not such fools as to dare resistance! Those niggers know as well as
we, that it is _death_, by the law of the State, for a slave to strike a
white man."

"Very true," said the other, "but it is dark and long past midnight, and
beside they have been indulging their appetites, and we cannot tell what
they may attempt to do."

"Pshaw!" he answered, contemptuously, "they are unarmed, and I should not
fear in the least, to go in among them _alone_, armed only with my

"As you please, then," he said, rather dubiously, "but look well to your
weapons; are they in order?"

"In prime order, Sir." And putting spurs to their horses, were soon at the
house, where they dismounted and requested one of the party to remain with
the horses.

"What," said he, "are you so chicken-hearted as to suppose those d----d
cowardly niggers are going to get up an insurrection?"

"Oh no," he replied, carelessly, but would not consent to have the horses
left alone. "Besides," said he, "they may forget themselves at this late
hour; but if they do, a few lashes of the cowhide will quicken their
memory, I reckon."

The slaves were aware of their movements, and prepared to receive them.

They stepped up to the door boldly, and demanded admittance, but all was
silent; they tried to open it, but it was fastened. Those inside, ranged
on each side of the door, and stood perfectly still.

The patrol finding the slaves not disposed to obey, burst off the slight
fastening that secured the door, and the chief of the patrol bounded into
their midst, followed by several of his companions, all in total darkness!

Vain is the attempt to describe the tumultuous scene which followed. Hand
to hand they fought and struggled with each other, amid the terrific
explosion of firearms,--oaths and curses, mingled with the prayers of
the wounded, and the groans of the dying! Two of the patrol were killed
on the spot, and lay drenched in the warm blood that so lately flowed
through their veins. Another with his arm broken and otherwise wounded,
lay groaning and helpless, beside the fallen slaves, who had sold their
lives so dearly. Another of his fellows was found at a short distance,
mortally wounded and about to bid adieu to life. In the yard lay the
keeper of the horses, a stiffened corpse. Six of the slaves were killed
and two wounded.

It would be impossible to convey to the minds of northern people, the
alarm and perfect consternation that the above circumstance occasioned
in that community. The knowledge of its occurrence was carried from one
plantation to another, as on the wings of the wind; exaggerated accounts
were given, and prophecies of the probable result made, until the
excitement became truly fearful. Every cheek was blanched and every frame
trembled when listening to the tale, that "insurrection among the slaves
had commenced on the plantation of Col. Alexander; that three or four of
the patrol had been killed, &c." The day after, people flocked from every
quarter, armed to the teeth, swearing vengeance on the defenceless slaves.
Nothing can teach plainer than this, the constant and tormenting fear in
which the slaveholder lives, and yet he repents not of his deeds.

The kind old Colonel was placed in the most difficult and unenviable
position. His warm heart was filled with sorrow for the loss of his
slaves, but not alone, as is generally the case in such instances, because
he had lost so much property. He truly regretted the death of his faithful
servants, and boldly rebuked the occasion of their sudden decease. When
beset and harassed by his neighbors to give up his slaves to be tried for
insurrection and murder, he boldly resisted, contending for the natural
right of the slaves, to act in their own defence, and especially when on
his own plantation and in their own quarters. They contended, however,
that as his slaves had got up a dance, and had invited those of the
adjoining plantations, the patrol was only discharging their duty in
looking after them; but the gallant old Colonel defended his slaves, and
told them plainly that he should continue to do so to the extent of his
ability and means.

The poor slaves were sad enough, on the morning after their merry meeting,
and they might be seen standing in groups, conversing with a very
different air from the one they had worn the day before.

Their business was now to prepare the bodies of their late associates for
the grave. Robert, the brave African, who had so boldly led them on the
night before, and who had so judiciously provided for their escape, was
calmly sleeping in death's cold embrace. He left a wife and five slave
children. Two of the other slaves left families, whose pitiful cries it
was painful to hear.

The Colonel's family, deeply afflicted by what was passing around them,
attended the funeral. One of the slaves, who sometimes officiated as a
minister, read a portion of Scripture, and gave out two hymns;--one of
which commences with

  "Hark! from the tomb a doleful sound."

Both were sung with great solemnity by the congregation, and then the good
old man offered a prayer; after which he addressed the slaves on the
shortness of human life and the certainty of death, and more than once
hinted at the hardness of their lot, assuring, however, his fellow-slaves,
that if they were good and faithful, all would be right hereafter. His
master, Col. Alexander, was deeply affected by this simple faith and
sincere regard for the best interests of all, both master and slave.

When the last look at their fellow-servants had been taken, the procession
was formed in the following manner: First, the old slave minister, then
the remains of the dead, followed by their weeping relatives; then came
the master and his family; next the slaves belonging to the plantation;
and last, friends and strangers, black and white; all moved on solemnly to
the final resting-place of those brave men, whose descendants may yet be
heard from, in defence of right and freedom.



Capt. Helm had a race-course on his plantation, on which he trained young
horses for the fall races. One very fine horse he owned, called _Mark
Anthony_, which he trained in the most careful manner for several months
previous to the races. He would put him on the course every morning,
sometimes covering him with a blanket, and then put him to his utmost
speed, which he called "sweating him." Mark Anthony was to be put on the
race-course in October following, as a competitor for the purse of ten
thousand dollars, which was the amount to be lost or gained on the first
day of the fall races. Capt. H. had also another young horse, called
_Buffer_, under a course of training, which he designed to enter the lists
for the second day. His course of training had been about the same as Mark
Anthony's, but being a year or two younger, it was thought that he had not
sufficient "bottom" to risk so much money on, as was at stake on the first

[Illustration: "Away they go, sweeping round the course with lightning
speed, while every spectator's eye is strained, and every countenance
flushed with intense anxiety."]

When the time for the races to commence came, all was bustle and
excitement in the house and on the plantation. It was a fine October
morning, and the sun shed a mellow radiance on all around, when people
began to throng the race-course. Some came with magnificent equipages,
attended by their numerous train of black servants, dressed in livery,
--some in less splendid array,--and others on foot, all hurrying on to the
exciting scene. There the noblest blood of Old Virginia, of which many are
wont to boast, was fully represented, as was also the wealth and fashion
of the country for many miles around.

All were in high spirits, and none seemed to fear that they would be the
losers in the amount of money about to change hands. And for what, pray,
is all this grand outlay--this vast expenditure? Merely the pleasure and
gratification of witnessing the speed of a fine horse, and the vanity of
prejudging concerning it.

The arrangements were at length completed,--the horses regularly entered,
Mark Anthony among the rest,--and then the word "go!" was given, when each
horse sprang as if for his life, each striving to take the lead. Away they
go, sweeping round the course with lightning speed, while every
spectator's eye is strained, and every countenance flushed with intense

Some of the noble animals were distanced the first heat, and others were
taken away by their owners.

The judges allowed twenty minutes to prepare the horses for the second
trial of their speed--a trial which must enrich or empoverish many of the
thousands present. Already there were sad countenances to be seen in the

The horses were again in readiness, and the word given,--away they flew
with the fleetness of the wind, to come in the second time.

But who can describe the anxiety written on every face, as they prepared
for the third and last trial? I cannot. Many had already lost all they had
staked, and others who had bet high began to fear for the result. Soon,
however, all was again prepared and those foaming steeds, after having
exerted their animal power to the utmost, have accomplished their task and
come in for the last time. The purse was won, _but not by Mark Anthony_.
Capt. Helm was more fortunate the second day. Buffer won the smaller
purse, but the Captain came from the races, a much poorer man than when
they commenced. These repeated failures and heavy losses had the effect to
arouse him to a sense of his pecuniary position, and he soon after began
to think and talk about going to some new country.

He resolved at last to visit the far-off "Genesee Country," which he
shortly after put in practice, and after an absence of about three weeks
he returned in good health, and delighted with the country; the more so,
doubtless, because he said, "the more slaves a man possessed in that
country the more he would be respected, and the higher would be his
position in society."

Capt. Helm finally concluded to sell his plantation and stock, except the
slaves, and remove to the Genesee Country, where he designed to locate his
future residence.

The plantation and stock (retaining the slaves) were advertised for sale,
and on a certain day named, all would be disposed of at a public sale, or
to the highest bidder.

When the day of sale arrived, there flocked from all parts of the
surrounding country the largest assemblage of people I ever saw in that
place. A large number of wealthy and respectable planters were present,
whose gentlemanly behavior should have been an example to others.

The majority of that vast crowd, however, were a rough, quarrelsome,
fighting set, just such as might be expected from slave-holding districts.
There were several regularly fought battles during the first day of the

One Thomas Ford, a large, muscular, ferocious-looking fellow, a good
specimen of a southern bully and woman-whipper, had been victorious
through the day in numerous fights and brawls; but he had to pay dear for
it when night came. Some one or more of the vanquished party, took
advantage of the dark night to stab him in both sides. The knife of the
assassin had been thrust into his thigh, tearing the flesh upward, leaving
a frightful and dangerous wound; but what is most singular, both sides
were wounded in nearly the same manner, and at the same time, for so
quickly was the deed committed that the offenders made their escape,
before an alarm could be raised for their detection; nor have I ever heard
of any one being arrested for the crime.

Ford's groans and cries were painful to hear, but his brother acted like a
madman; rushing hither and thither, with a heavy bludgeon in his hand,
with which he indiscriminately beat the fences and whatever came in his
way, crying "Oh my brother, my poor brother! Who has murdered my poor

Physicians came to the aid of the wounded man who at first thought he
might recover, but in a climate like that of Virginia it was impossible.
His friends did all they could to save him, but the poor wretch lingered
a few days and died. Thus ended the life of a bad man and a hard master.

And who will wonder, if his slaves rejoiced to hear of his death? If they
must be sold to pay his debts, they could not fall into the hands of a
more heartless tyrant. Who then can blame those feeble women and helpless
children, long held as chattels in his iron grasp, if they are grateful
that the man-stealer is no more?

This Ford was a fair specimen of that class, known in more modern parlance
as a "Border Ruffian." Such as are at this time endeavoring, by their
swaggering and bullying, to cast on the fair fields of Kansas the deep
curse of Slavery--a curse which, like the poison of the deadly Upas,
blights all within its influence: the colored and the white man, the slave
and the master. We were thankful, however, that no more lives were lost
during the vendue, which was commenced with the stock; this occupied two

The reader will see that we had cause to be grateful, when he takes into
consideration that drinking and fighting was the order of the day, and
drunkenness and carousing the order of the night.

Then too, the practice of dueling was carried on in all its hideous
barbarity. If a gentleman thought himself insulted, he would immediately
challenge the offender to mortal combat, and if he refused to do so, then
the insulted gentleman felt bound by that barbarous code of honor, to take
his life, whenever or wherever he might meet him, though it might be in a
crowded assembly, where the lives of innocent persons were endangered.

A case of this kind happened in Kentucky, where the belligerent parties
met in a large concourse of people, the majority of them women and
children; but the combat ensued, regardless of consequences. One woman was
shot through the face, but that was not worthy of notice, for she was
only a _colored woman_; and in that, as in other slave States, the laws
give to the white population the liberty to trample under foot the claims
of all such persons to justice. Justly indignant ladies present
remonstrated, but all to no purpose. The Governor of the State was there
and was in danger of being wounded by their flying bullets, and it is
possible that if he had been in the place of the poor African, some action
would have been taken, and laws made to protect the people against such
inhuman practices. But I must return to Capt. Helm and the vendue.

The sale continued for several days, during which there was no such thing
as rest or sleep or one quiet moment on the premises. As was customary in
that State, Capt. Helm provided the food and drink for all who came, and
of course a great many came to drink and revel and not to buy; and that
class generally took the night time for their hideous outbreaks, when
the more respectable class had retired to their beds or to their homes.
And many foul deeds and cruel outrages were committed; nor could the
perpetrators be detected or brought to justice. Nothing could be done
but to submit quietly to their depredations.

One peaceable old slave was killed by having his head split open with an
ax. He was found in the morning lying in the yard, with the bloody
instrument of death by his side. This occasioned some excitement
among the slaves, but as the white people paid but little attention to it,
it soon passed off, and the sorrowful slaves put the old man's remains in
a rough box, and conveyed them to their last resting-place.

After the sale was over, the slaves were allowed a holiday, with
permission to go and visit their friends and relatives previous to their
departure for their new home in a strange land.

The slaves generally on Capt. Helm's plantation looked upon this removal
as the greatest hardship they had ever met; the severest trial they had
ever endured; and the separation from our old home and fellow-slaves,
from our relatives and the old State of Virginia, was to us a
contemplation of sorrowful interest. Those who remained, thought us the
most unfortunate of human beings to be taken away off into the State of
New York, and, as they believed, beyond the bounds of civilization, where
we should in all probability be destroyed by wild beasts, devoured by
cannibals, or scalped by the Indians. We never expected to meet again in
this life, hence our parting interviews were as solemn as though we were
committing our friends to the grave. But He whose tender mercies are over
all his creatures, knew best what was for our good.

Little did Capt. Helm think when bringing his slaves to New York that in a
few short years, they would be singing the song of deliverance from
Slavery's thralldom; and as little thought he of the great and painful
change, to be brought about in his own circumstances. Could any one have
looked into futurity and traced the difficult path, my master was to
tread,--could any one have foreseen the end to which he must soon come,
and related it to him in the days of his greatness and prosperity, he
would, I am certain, have turned from such a narrator of misfortune in a
greater rage than did Namaan when the man of God told him "to go and dip
seven times in the Jordan."

He could not have believed, nor could I, that in a few years the powerful,
wealthy slaveholder, living in luxury and extravagance, would be so
reduced that the _necessaries_ of life even, were beyond his means, and
that he must be supported by the town!

But I anticipate. Let us return to the old plantation which seems dearer
than ever, now that we are about to leave it forever.

We thought Capt. Helm's prospects pretty fair, and yet we shuddered when
we realized our condition as slaves. This change in our circumstances was
calculated to awaken all our fears that had been slumbering, and bring all
the perilous changes to which we might be subjected most vividly to mind.

We were about to leave the land of our birth, the home of our childhood,
and we felt that untried scenes were before us. We were slaves, it is
true, but we had heart-felt emotions to suppress, when we thought
of leaving all that was so familiar to us, and chose rather to "bear the
ills we had, than to fly to those we knew not of." And oh, the terrible
uncertainty of the future, that ever rests on the slave, even the most
favored, was now felt with a crushing weight. To-day, they are in the old
familiar cabin surrounded by their family, relatives and friends;
to-morrow, they may be scattered, parted forever. The master's
circumstances, not their own, may have assigned one to the dreadful
slave-pen, and another to the distant rice-swamp; and it is this continual
dread of some perilous future that holds in check every joyous emotion,
every lofty aspiration, of the most favored slave at the South. They know
that their owners indulge in high living, and they are well aware also
that their continual indulgences engender disease, which make them very
liable to sudden death; or their master may be killed in a duel, or at a
horse-race, or in a drunken brawl; then his creditors are active in
looking after the estate; and next, the blow of the auctioneer's hammer
separates them perhaps for life.

Now, after the lapse of so many years, when my thoughts wander back, as
they often do, to my native State, I confess that painful recollections
drive from my mind those joyful emotions that should ever arise in the
heart of man, when contemplating the familiar scenes of his youth, and
especially when recurring to the venerable shades and the sheltering roof
under which he was born. True, around the well-remembered spot where our
childhood's years were spent, recollection still loves to linger; yet
memory, ever ready with its garnered store, paints in glowing colors,
Virginia's crouching slaves in the foreground. Her loathsome slave-pens
and slave markets--chains, whips and instruments of torture; and back of
all this is as truthfully recorded the certain doom, the retributive
justice, that will sooner or later overtake her; and with a despairing
sigh I turn away from the imaginary view of my native State.

What though she may have been justly styled, "The Mother of Presidents?"
What avails the honor of being the birth-place of the brave and excellent
Washington, while the prayers and groans of the down-trodden African
daily ascend to heaven for redress? What though her soil be fertile,
yielding a yearly product of wealth to its possessors? And what matter is
it, that their lordly mansions are embowered in the shade of trees of a
century's growth, if, through their lofty and tangled branches, we espy
the rough cabin of the mangled bondman, and know that the soil on which he
labors has drunk his heart's blood?

Ah! to me, life's sweetest memories are all embittered. Slavery had cast
its dark and fearful shadow over my childhood, youth, and early manhood,
and I went out from the land of my birth, a fettered slave. A land which
I can regard only as "the house of bondage and the grave of freedom." But
God forgive me for having envied my master his fair prospects at this

After the sale of the plantation, Capt. Helm was in possession of quite a
large sum of money, and having never paid much attention to his pecuniary
interests, he acted as if there could be no end of it. He realized about
forty thousand dollars from the sale of his estate in Virginia, which
would have been a pretty sum in the hands of a man who had been accustomed
to look after his own interests; but under the management of one who had
all his life lived and prospered on the unrequited toil of slaves, it was
of little account. He bought largely of every thing he thought necessary
for himself or the comfort of his family, for which he always paid the
most extravagant prices. The Captain was not as well qualified to take
care of himself and family as some of his slaves were; but he thought
differently, and so the preparations for leaving the old plantation for a
home in the wilds of New York, went on under his direction, and at last we
bade a final adieu to our friends and all we held dear in the State of



All things having been prepared for our departure, our last "Good-bye"
spoken, and our last look taken of the old plantation, we started, amid
the sobs and prolonged cries of separating families, in company with our
master, the overseer and another white man named Davis, who went with us
to take back the five-horse "Pennsylvania team," which was provided for
the conveyance of the food for the slaves, and what little baggage they
might have, and also that of the overseer.

Capt. Helm had determined to leave his family until he could get his
slaves settled in their future quarters, and a home provided for himself,
when they were expected to join him.

We traveled northward, through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and a portion of
New York, to Sodus Bay, where we halted for some time. We made about
twenty miles per day, camping out every night, and reached that place
after a march of twenty days. Every morning the overseer called the roll,
when every slave must answer to his or her name, felling to the ground
with his cowhide, any delinquent who failed to speak out in quick time.

After the roll had been called, and our scanty breakfast eaten, we
marched on again, our company presenting the appearance of some numerous
caravan crossing the desert of Sahara. When we pitched our tents for the
night, the slaves must immediately set about cooking not their supper
only, but their breakfast, so as to be ready to start early the next
morning, when the tents were struck; and we proceeded on our journey in
this way to the end.

At Sodus Bay there was then one small tavern, kept by a man named Sill.

The bay is ten miles in length and from a half to two miles in breadth,
and makes an excellent harbor. The surrounding country then was almost an
unbroken wilderness.

After Capt. Helm had rested a few days at Sodus, he went six miles up the
bay and purchased a large tract of land lying on both sides of that
beautiful sheet of water, and put his slaves on to clear and cultivate
it. Then came the "tug of war." Neither the overseer nor the slaves had
the least knowledge of _clearing_ land, and that was the first thing to be
done. It was useless to consult the Captain, for he knew still less about
matters of that kind. To obviate this difficulty, our master bought out a
Mr. Cummings, who had some cleared land on the west side of the bay. On
this he put the overseer and a part of the slaves, and then hired a Mr.
Herrington to take charge of the remainder. Herrington and his gang of
slaves was sent to the east side to chop down the heavy timber and clear
the land for cultivation, all of which had first to be learned, for we
knew nothing of felling trees, and the poor slaves had rather a hard time
of it.

Provisions were scarce and could not be procured for cash in that section.
There was no corn to be had, and we had but little left. We had no
neighbors to assist us in this trying time, and we came near starvation.
True, the wild, romantic region in which we were located abounded in
game,--elk, deer, bear, panther, and wolves, roamed abroad through the
dense forest, in great abundance, but the business of the slaves was not
hunting or fishing, but clearing the land, preparatory to raising crops
of grain the coming season.

At last Capt. Helm chartered a boat, and manned it to go to the mouth of
the Genesee River to buy corn. They embarked under favorable auspices, but
soon there came on such a tremendous storm, that the boat could no longer
be managed, and the crew in despair threw themselves on the bottom of the
boat to await their inevitable destruction, when one of their number, a
colored man named Dunbar, sprang to the helm, and with great difficulty
succeeded in running her safely into a Canadian port, where they were
obliged to part with every thing in their possession to obtain the means
to return to their families in Sodus, who had given them up as lost. But,
to the great joy of all, they came back at last with their lives, but with
nothing for the famishing slaves. Before another boat could be sent for
our relief, we were reduced to the last extremity. We became so weak we
could not work, and it was difficult to drag ourselves about, as we were
now obliged to do, to gather up all the old bones we could find, break
them up fine and then boil them; which made a sort of broth sufficient
barely to sustain life. This we drank, and merely existed, until at last,
the long looked for boat returned, loaded with provision, which saved us
from starvation and gave us strength to pursue our labor.



About this time two slaves who were laboring in the forest, instead of
returning to their cabin as was expected, got lost, and wandered eight
days in the dense forest without provision, except what they could procure
from roots and the bark of trees. Great exertion was made to find them;
guns were fired, horns blown, and shouts raised, but all to no purpose.
Finally, we gave them up, supposing they had starved to death or had been
killed by wild beasts. One of them was an elderly man, named Benjamin
Bristol, and the other, Edmund Watkins, a lad of about eighteen years of
age. They wandered in an easterly direction, a distance of some sixty or
seventy miles, through an unbroken wilderness, vainly trying to find their
way home. On the eighth day, to their inexpressible joy, they came out on
the shore of Lake Ontario, near Oswego; but young Watkins was so
completely exhausted that he declared himself incapable of further
exertion, and begged to be left to his fate. Bristol, however, who chewed
tobacco, which it was supposed kept him from sinking so low as his
companion, took him on his back, and carried him home, which they reached
in a famished state and reduced to skeletons. All were thankful for the
preservation of their lives, and, with the best we could do for them,
they soon recruited and became strong as ever.

One day, two others and myself thought we saw some animal swimming across
the bay. We got a boat and went out to see what it was. After rowing for
some time we came near enough to perceive it was a large bear. Those who
watched us from the shore expected to see our boat upset, and all on board
drowned, but it was not so to be; the, bear was struck on the nose with a
blow that killed him instantly, and he was hauled ashore in great triumph.

While these things were transpiring on the east side of the bay, the
overseer on the west side determined to punish one of the slaves who
worked on the east side. The name of the slave was Williams; a strong,
athletic man, and generally a good workman, but he had unfortunately
offended the overseer, for which nothing could appease his wrath but the
privilege of flogging him. The slave, however, thought as he was no longer
in Virginia, he would not submit to such chastisement, and the overseer
was obliged to content himself with threatening what he would do if he
caught him on the west side of the bay.

A short time after, the overseer called at the cabin of one of the slaves,
and was not a little surprised to find there the refractory slave,
Williams, in company with three other men. He immediately walked up to
him and asked him some question, to which Williams made no reply.
Attended, as he always was, by his ferocious bull-dog, he flourished his
cowhide in great wrath and demanded an instant reply, but he received
none, whereupon he struck the slave a blow with the cowhide. Instantly
Williams sprang and caught him by the throat and held him writhing in his
vise-like grasp, until he succeeded in getting possession of the cowhide,
with which he gave the overseer such a flogging as slaves seldom get.
Williams was seized at once by the dog who endeavored to defend his brutal
master, but the other slaves came to the rescue, and threw the dog into a
huge fire which was near by, from which, after a singeing, he ran off,
howling worse than his master when in the hands of Williams. He foamed and
swore and still the blows descended; then he commanded the slaves to
assist him, but as none obeyed, he commenced begging in the most humble
manner, and at last entreated them as "gentlemen" to spare him; but all to
no purpose. When Williams thought he had thrashed him sufficiently, he let
him go and hurried to his boat and rowed down the bay, instead of crossing
it. The overseer no sooner found himself at liberty than he ran out,
calling to a servant girl to bring his rifle, which was loaded. The rifle
was brought, but before he could get to the bay, Williams had gone beyond
his reach; but unfortunately another boat was at this moment crossing the
bay, which he, mad with rage, fired into. The men in the boat immediately
cried out to him not to repeat the shot, but he was so angry that he swore
he would shoot somebody, and sent another bullet after them. No one was
hurt, however, but the brave overseer was vanquished. Crest-fallen and
unrevenged, he shortly after called on Capt. Helm for a settlement,
which was granted, and bidding a final adieu to the "Genesee Country," he
departed for Virginia, where he could beat slaves without himself
receiving a cow-hiding. No one regretted his absence, nor do I think
any but the most heartless would cordially welcome his return to the land
of Slavery.

[Illustration: "Instantly Williams sprang and caught him by the throat and
held him writhing in his vise-like grasp, until he succeeded in getting
possession of the cow-hide, with which he gave the overseer such a
flogging as slaves seldom get."]



Capt. Helm went to Virginia for his family, and returning with them,
concluded to locate his future residence in the village of Bath, Steuben
County. He purchased a large tract of land near the village, a large grist
mill, and two saw mills; also, two farms; one called the "Maringo," east
of the village; and the other, called "Epsam," north of it; and a fine
house and lot in the village. He also kept a distillery, which in those
days was well patronized, for nearly every body drank whisky; and with
Capt. Helm it was a favorite beverage.

The slaves were removed to Bath, where our master was well suited, and was
everywhere noted for his hospitality. He had a great deal of land to
cultivate, and carried on a multiplicity of business.

Soon after we were settled at Bath, Capt. Helm's eldest daughter, Jenny,
was married to Mr. John Fitzhugh, her cousin, who had come from Virginia
to claim his bride.

The wedding was a splendid affair. No pains were spared to make it more
imposing than any thing that had ever happened in that country. Never
before had the quiet village of Bath seen such splendor. All that wealth,
power and ambition could do, was done to make the event one of great
brilliancy. Europe contributed her full proportion; Turkey, the Indias,
East and West, were heavily taxed to produce their finest fabrics to adorn
the bride and bridal guests; and contribute delicacies to add elegance to
the festal scene. Two days previous to the wedding, the invited guests
began to arrive with their retinue of servants, and on the evening of the
marriage the large mansion was thrown open, and there was the most
magnificent assemblage I ever beheld. In the drawing-room, where the
ceremony took place, every thing was surpassingly elegant. Costly
chandeliers shed their light on the rich tapestry, and beautiful dresses
glittering with diamonds, and the large mirrors everywhere reflecting the
gay concourse. While the servants were preparing supper it was announced
that the hour had arrived for the ceremony to commence. The bridal pair
took their place in the center of the apartment. Pearls, diamonds, and
jewelry glittered on the bride with such luster, that it was almost
painful to the eye to look upon her.

The minister, after asking God to bless the assembled guests, and those he
was about to unite in the holy bonds of wedlock, proceeded in a very
solemn and impressive manner with the marriage service. The ceremony
concluded, and good wishes having been expressed over the sparkling wine,
the man of God took his leave, two hundred dollars richer than when he
came. The company were all very happy, or appeared so; mirth reigned
supreme, and every countenance wore a smile. They were seated at tables
loaded with luxuries of every description, and while partaking, a band of
music enlivened the scene.

All business was suspended for several days, the wedding party making a
tour of ten days to Niagara Falls. After a while, however, affairs assumed
their usual aspect, and business took its regular routine.

The grist mill belonging to the Captain was the only one for many miles
around, and was a source of great profit to him; the saw mills also, were
turning out a large quantity of lumber, which was in good demand; and the
distillery kept up a _steaming_ business. It yielded, however, a handsome
income to Capt. Helm, who was now, for the first time since I knew him,
overseeing his affairs himself, dispensing altogether with the service of
a regularly installed overseer.

The oldest son of our master had been absent from home for sometime, nor
did he return to attend his sister's grand wedding. He had sought and
obtained a commission in the United States service as a Lieutenant.
This had been his own choice; he had preferred the service and hardships
of a soldier, to a plantation well stocked with slaves, and the quietude
of domestic life. He had cheerfully given up his friends and prospects as
a planter, and entered the service of his country. Frank Helm, the second
son, soon followed the example of his older brother, Lina. He obtained a
like commission, but he did not, like his brother, get along quietly. His
prospects as an officer were soon blighted, and all hope of being
serviceable to his country vanished forever.



Lina Helm was an easy, good-natured, clever fellow; but his brother Frank
was his opposite in nearly every thing; proud, fractious and unyielding.
As might be expected, Frank, soon after entering the army, got into an
"affair of honor," according to the duelist's code of laws. He was not,
however, the principal in the difficulty. One of his friends and a
brother officer, had a quarrel with a gentleman whom he challenged to
mortal combat. Frank was the bearer of his friend's challenge, and on
presenting it, the gentleman refused to accept it, saying that the
challenger "was no gentleman." Then, according to the rules of dueling, no
alternative was left for Frank, but to take his brother officer's place,
and fight. This he did and came from the bloody field disabled for life.
In consequence of his lameness, he was under the necessity of resigning
his commission in the army, which he did, and came home a cripple, and
nearly unfitted for any kind of business whatever.

While on the subject of dueling, permit me to record some of the incidents
of another "affair of honor," which occurred in the District of Columbia,
between Gen. Mason and Mr. M'Carter, two antagonistic politicians.

M'Carter offered his vote to the inspectors, and Mason challenged it.
M'Carter offered to swear it in, when Mason said if he did so he would
perjure himself. This blew what appeared to be but a spark into an angry
blaze, and a duel was momentarily expected; but their warlike propensities
subsided into a newspaper combat, which was kept up for several weeks,
each party supposing they had the advantage of their adversary. In this
stage of the quarrel, Gen. Jackson, with one of his aid-de-camps, Dr.
Bruno, visited Washington. Dr. Bruno was a friend of Gen. Mason's, and
to him the General submitted the correspondence, desiring his opinion
relative to the advantage one had obtained over the other. Dr. Bruno
decided against his friend, which probably exasperated him still more,
and the General expressed his determination to fight his antagonist. Dr.
Bruno wrote to M'Carter to come to Washington, and he came immediately,
and was as readily waited upon by the Doctor, who inquired if he would
receive a communication from his friend, Gen. Mason. M'Carter replied,
that he "would receive no communication from Gen. Mason, except a
challenge to fight." The challenge was therefore sent, and accepted, and
the Doctor appointed to make the necessary arrangements for the duel. He
proposed the weapons to be pistols, and the distance, ten paces; to
which M'Carter objected, because he said, "the General was a dead shot
with the pistol, while he hardly knew how to use one." Then it was left to
M'Carter to choose the mode of warfare. He proposed muskets and ten paces
distance. This was agreed upon, and finally the morning arrived for the
conflict, and people began to assemble in great numbers to witness this
murderous scene.

The belligerent parties unflinchingly took their place, each with his
loaded musket at his shoulder, and gazing in each other's face, with
feelings of the most bitter hatred, while their eyes flashed vengeance.

Oh! what a state of mind was this in which to meet inevitable death? How
could intelligent men, or gentlemen, if you please so to term them, look
placidly on such a horrid scene? Was there no heart of humanity to
interfere and arrest the murderous designs of these madmen? Alas, no! The
slaveholder's "code of honor" must be acknowledged, though it outrage the
laws of God and his country.

Dr. Bruno asks, "Gentlemen, are you ready?" and the duelists take their
deadly aim at each other. The signal to fire is given, and both weapons
are discharged, and when the smoke had cleared away, what a spectacle
was there presented to the duelist and spectator? Gen. Mason, a husband,
a father, a statesman, and a kind friend, lies bleeding, and gasping for
breath. He is no more! Who will bear to his loving and unsuspecting wife,
the sad intelligence of her sudden bereavement? Who will convey his
lifeless body to his late residence, and throw grief and consternation
into the bosom of his family, and drape in sadness his whole household?
And yet this painful task must be performed. The family of General Mason
remained entirely ignorant of what was transpiring regarding the duel,
until his mangled corpse was brought into his dwelling, from which he had
so recently gone forth in all the vigor of life and manhood. And here let
us drop the curtain, nor intrude on that scene of domestic affliction
around the deserted hearth-stone of the bereaved family of General Mason.

But where is Mr. M'Carter, the more fortunate party in the duel? Hurrying
away from the frightful scene, his hands dripping with the blood of his
fellow-man, he skulks about, until an opportunity is given him to step on
board a vessel bound to a foreign port; he leaves home, friends and
country, in the vain hope of finding peace of mind, and ridding himself of
that guilt and censure which must attach itself to a crime so heinous as
that of taking the life of another. I can but regard the inhuman practice
of dueling as the legitimate fruit of Slavery.

Men who have been raised in the Slave States, where, if the laws do not
give them the power, they do not restrain them from cruelly punishing
every offender with personal violence, even unto death, if their insulted
dignity seems to demand it. It is, however, encouraging to know that for
a few years past the practice of dueling has somewhat fallen into
disrepute among the more humane and candid class of community.



After the return of the wedding party, Mr. Fitzhugh purchased a tract of
land near that of Capt. Helm, on which the newly-married couple commenced
keeping house. They, however, became dissatisfied with their location,
and soon after sold their possessions and returned to the South.

Capt. Helm still continued to take the oversight of his slaves, and was
out every day, superintending his business, just as his overseer used to

About this time a man named Henry Tower came to Bath to hire "slave boys,"
as we were called. The Captain hired to him Simon and myself, and a Mr.
Baker also hired to him one slave named Vol. McKenzie. We three started
for Dresden, Ontario County, where we arrived in due time.

Mr. Tower had just bought a tract of land, three miles this side of the
village of Lyons, on the Canandaigua outlet. Here Mr. Tower contemplated
making great improvements, building mills, opening stores &c. This tract
of land was comparatively wild, there being but a small frame house for a
dwelling, one for a store, and another for a blacksmith shop. Mr. Tower
had two brothers; James, the eldest, who took charge of the store, and
John, the younger, who took charge of the hands who worked on the farm;
Henry himself superintending the building of the mills. This firm had a
great number of men in their employ that year. I was kept busy helping the
women about the cooking and house-work. And here, for the first time in my
life, I had a comfortable bed to sleep on, and plenty of wholesome food to
eat; which was something both new and strange to me.

The Towers were thorough-going business-men; they built a large grist
mill, with four run of stone, and also a distillery. In those days it was
customary for nearly all classes to drink spirituous liquors; hence, the
distilleries were sources of great pecuniary interest to those who owned
them. But having lived to see the dreadful evils which the drinking of
alcoholic beverages have produced on community, I can hardly speak of
distilleries in the favorable light in which they were then regarded.

The Towers, with commendable enterprise, cleared a great number of acres
of land during the first year I lived with them, besides doing a heavy
business in the mill, store and distillery.

It was customary then for men to assemble at some public place for the
purpose of drinking whisky and racing horses.

One Saturday afternoon there was to be a race, and all was excitement.
Being young, I wished to go with the rest. I hurried through my work as
fast as possible, and then, with a trembling heart, set off in search of
my master, fearing lest he would refuse me the simple request. But he
happened to be in uncommon good humor, and readily gave his consent; and
away I went, "as happy as a lark." When I reached the race-ground, they
were just preparing to run the horses. Seeing me, they knew me to be a
poor friendless little slave boy, helpless and unprotected, and they could
therefore do with me as they pleased, and have some fine sport at my

When I was asked to ride one of the fast horses, I felt proud of the honor
conferred, and was assisted to mount, feeling highly elated with the lofty
position I had gained.

The word "go," was shouted, and the horse whirled off, and it seemed to me
as if he flew with the speed of lightning. My hat fell off the first
thing; and there I was, clinging with might and main to the neck of the
fiery animal, my head bare, my feet bootless, and my old stripped shirt
blown from my back, and streaming out behind, and fluttering like a banner
in the breeze; my ragged pants off at the knees, and my long legs dangling
down some length below; and at the same time crying "Whoa! whoa!" as loud
as I could. Nor was this all; frightened as I was, nearly to death, I cast
a despairing look behind me, and the loud, derisive laugh of the
bystanders rung in my ears.

Ludicrous as I must have appeared, this was too much,--I felt a giddiness
coming over me, my brain reeled, my hold relaxed, and the next instant I
had fallen to the ground, where all consciousness left me. When I came to
my senses I was lying in bed, surrounded by all the appurtenances of a
dying person.

The first thing I heard was Mr. Tower scolding the men who put me on the
horse, and threatening them with a law-suit for presuming to do such a
thing without his permission. Mr. Tower considered himself holden to Capt.
Helm for my safe return, and was therefore justly indignant at their
placing my life in such peril. It was indeed a narrow escape, for the
horse was running with all his speed when I fell. My bones were unbroken,
however, and I suppose it must have been the tremendous jar I got when I
fell that rendered me unconscious; nor do I think it impossible that the
fright may not have contributed somewhat to the catastrophe.

It was while I was living with that gentleman that the greatest "general
training" ever known in Western New York, came off at "Oak's Corners," in
the town of Phelps. It really seemed to me that the whole world were going
to the training, and I, of course, felt a great curiosity to go where "all
creation" appeared to be going. Mr. Tower permitted me to go, and I
started off in high spirits. When I arrived within two or three miles of
the place the road was almost blocked up with people, and when I got to
Oak's Corners the crowd beggared all description; carriages of all sorts
were there, containing eatables of all kinds, and tents of all dimensions
were on the road-side, for the houses could not begin to accommodate the
people. The entire brigade was to meet at that place, and Gov. Lewis was
expected to review the different companies, and all were anxious to see
the Governor, for, in those days, it was a rare thing to see so high a
dignitary in Western New York; the eastern portion of the State having had
every thing of that kind their own way.

Nor was the means and mode of traveling brought to such perfection as now.
The roads were new and rough, and our best public conveyances only the
slow lumbering stage-coach; yet, notwithstanding these inconveniences,
there was an innumerable crowd gathered at that place. I spent the day in
walking about the encampment, and seeing what was to be seen, for it was
all new to me.

Officers were riding over the ground, dressed in uniform, and mounted on
their splendid steeds: their plumes waving over their cocked-hats in true
military array. A band of music, as is usual, accompanied the soldiers.
There was also a "sham-fight," before the breaking up of the encampment,
and it was really terrifying to me, who had never seen a battle fought, to
witness two columns of troops drawn up, and, at the roll of the drum,
behold them engage in deadly conflict, to all appearance, and the smoke
curling up in a blackened mass toward heaven; and, above all, the
neighing of horses, with the feigned groans of the wounded and dying. I
inwardly prayed to God that those men might ever draw their weapons in a
feigned encounter.

The first night I spent at the encampment was one long to be remembered;
it was like the confusion of Babel. Of all the hideous noises I ever heard
none could exceed those made there that night. They fired guns, quarreled,
drank, and swore, till day light. There was such a crowd at the tavern
that I did not suppose I could get a bed, so I threw myself down upon a
door-step, and began to compose myself to sleep, when a man came and
wakened me, inquiring at the same time whose boy I was. I replied that I
lived with Mr. Tower. "Follow me," said he; I arose and followed him into
the house, where he procured for me a bed, to be shared with another
"boy," who had already occupied it.

I had just began to doze, when the explosion of firearms startled all in
the house. The keeper of the tavern ran up stairs in great alarm, and when
an examination was made, we found that a drunken fellow had discharged his
musket in the room below the one where we were sleeping, and that the ball
had passed up through the second floor and completely through the bed on
which I slept, to the roof, where, having passed through that also, rolled
from thence to the ground! And yet, strange as it may appear, no one was
injured, though the house was filled to overflowing with guests.

There were groups of disorderly and drunken men continually roaming over
the camp-ground at night, who seemed to have no other object than to annoy
others, and torment any one they might find sleeping, by shaking them, or,
if soundly asleep, dragging them out of their beds by their feet. Among
these thus annoyed by them was a physician from Canandaigua. Being a
passionate man, they seemed to think it fine sport to arouse him from
sleep and hear him scold. The first time they dragged him from his tent he
merely remonstrated in a very gentlemanly manner, and quietly crept back
again. The rowdies were disappointed; they had expected a "scene." As soon
as he was asleep they attacked him again, dragging him out by the heels;
then he was angry, and told them if they repeated the offence it would be
at the peril of their lives, and a third time retired to his tent; but a
third party soon came, and one, more bold than the rest, entered the tent
and laid hold of the Doctor. He sprang to his feet and drew his sword,
which he ran through the body of a man supposed to be that of his
tormentor; but oh! what sorrow and consternation possessed him when he
found he had taken the life of a quiet, unoffending person who happened
to be standing by, attracted to the spot probably by the noise of the
revelers. The unhappy Doctor was obliged to flee from his country for a
time, but after a while the shadows which had so suddenly fallen on his
fair prospects were cleared away, and he returned to his home and country.

The second day of the encampment was one of surpassing beauty. The sun
shone in all its softened radiance on that vast concourse of human beings.
The field presented a spectacle which must have been imposing to those of
more experienced vision than mine; but to me, in my ignorant simplicity,
it was superbly grand; fascinating beyond my power of resistance, and made
an impression on my mind never to be effaced.

The brigade was drawn up in a line, each colonel stationed just so many
paces in front of the line, and all the other officers, such as majors,
quarter-masters, &c., were stationed at an equal distance in the rear.
When all were paraded, the Governor of the State made his appearance,
dressed in full uniform, his hat being one of the Bonaparte style,
attended by his aid-de-camp, who was dressed much in the same manner as
his Excellency Governor Lewis, who, after the salute, took his place at
the head of the brigade, and the military exercises commenced. When the
Governor issued his orders, they were first given to his aid, who passed
them to the officers, and they gave the word of command to the soldiers;
for instance if the Governor wished the brigade to "shoulder arms,"--the
order went to the officer who commanded the first regiment, and he
repeated the order, and was obeyed; then the same order passed to the
next, and so on, until the whole brigade had complied with the order of
his Excellency.

But this, I believe, was the first and last time that the military were
ever called out on so large a scale, in the State of New York. It was
supposed that the effect would be decidedly injurious to a community and
the idea was abandoned. Young men were so liable to be fascinated by the
magnificent spectacle, that not the rabble only were attracted by the
"trappings of war," but they have a tendency to induce young, and _old men
even_, of fair prospects, to neglect _their agricultural interests_ for
military pursuits, which, in a new country, were certainly of paramount
importance, if not the greater of the two.

I know that it became very hard for me to content myself to labor as I had
done, after witnessing this grand display. I was completely intoxicated
with a military spirit, and sighed for the liberty to go out "on the
lines" and fight the British.

The martial music, the waving plumes, and magnificent uniform, had driven
from my mind entirely the bloodshed and carnage of the battle field;
beside, I was sick and tired of being a slave, and felt ready to do almost
any thing to get where I could act and feel like a free man.

I became acquainted with a Mr. McClure, a merchant in Bath, who, while on
a journey to Philadelphia, to purchase goods, was taken suddenly ill and
died; when his brother, George McClure, came on to attend to his diseased
brother's business. He was a fine, persevering kind of man, and very soon
got to be General McClure, and commanded the brigade in Steuben County,
and, as such, was liable to be called at any time when his services were
required, to go to the frontier and guard our lines from the invasion of
the English army.

To him I applied for a situation as waiter, which he readily agreed to
give me if I could get the consent of Captain Helm. I thought there would
be no trouble about that; and oh! how I dreamed of and anticipated the
happiness of being _something_ beside a slave, for a _little while at
least_. Almost every day I went to the store to talk to Gen. McClure of
this greatest happiness imaginable, "going to the lines!" and was
impatient for the chance to arrive that would send me there.

At last Gen. McClure wrote to Gen. Armstrong, to say that he was ready to
obey any order that he might send him, and march to "the lines," if his
services were needed; and, to _my_ inexpressible joy, marching orders were
returned. I nearly flew in search of Capt. Helm, never once suspecting
that he would object; because I knew that he did not then require my
services himself, and the pay would be quite as good as he had been
receiving for my time; besides I had so completely set my heart on going,
that it was impossible for me to dream of a disappointment so bitter as
that of being denied going "to the lines."

Oh! how then were my high hopes fallen, and how much more hateful appeared
that slavery which had blighted all my military prospects? Nor was Capt.
Helm's heartless and mercenary reply to my humble pleading any antidote to
my disappointed feelings and desire for freedom. He said, "you shall not
go; I will permit nothing of the kind, so let there be an end to it. The
_pay_ is all well enough, I know, but if you get killed your wages will
stop; and then who, do you suppose, will indemnify me for the loss? Go
about your business, and let me hear no more of such nonsense!"

There was an emergency I had not provided for; and, as I then believed,
the master could make no demand on or for the slaves beyond the grave, I
was silent; but both master and myself were mistaken on that point; for I
have since learned numerous instances where slaves have fought and died
in the service of their master's country, and the slave-owner received
his wages up to the hour of his death, and then recovered of the United
States the full value of his person as property!

Gen. McClure left soon after for the frontier; my saddened heart followed
him, and that was all; my body was in slavery still, and painful though
it was, I must quietly submit.

The General, however, reaped but few if any laurels in that campaign; he
burned the small village of Newark, in Canada, for which he got very
little credit on either side of the lake; so I comforted myself as well as
I could with the reflection, that all who "went to the wars" did not
return covered with glory and laurels of victory.

I continued to live with the Towers; and in the fall of that year, I had
the misfortune to cut my foot badly. While chopping fire wood at the door,
I accidentally struck my ax against a post, which glanced the blow in such
a manner that it came down with sufficient force to nearly sever my great
toe from my left foot, gashing upward completely through the large joint,
which made a terrible wound. Dr. Taylor was immediately called, and sewed
the flesh together, taking two stitches on the upper, and one on the
under, side of the foot, before it began to swell; but when the swelling
came on, the stitches on the upper side gave way, which occasioned the toe
to fall over so much, that I have been slightly lame from that day to
this. For several weeks I was unable to be moved, and was regularly
attended by Dr. Taylor, but as soon as it could be done without danger, I
was taken back to Capt. Helm's, where I found things in much the same
condition as when I left them over a year before.

On leaving the family of Mr. Tower, I endeavored to express to them as
well in my power the gratitude I felt for their kindness, and the
attention I had received during my lameness.

We returned to Bath in a sleigh, and arrived without accident or any great
suffering. But the kind treatment I had always received from the Messrs.
Tower and family, made it very hard for me to reconcile myself to my
former mode of living; especially now that I was lame and weak, from
sickness and long confinement; besides, it was cold weather. Oh! how hard
it did seem to me, after having a good bed and plenty of bed clothes every
night for so long time, to now throw myself down, like a dog, on the
"_softest side_" of a rough board, without a pillow, and without a
particle of bedding to cover me during the long cold nights of winter. To
be reduced from a plentiful supply of good, wholesome food, to the mere
pittance which the Captain allowed his slaves, seemed to me beyond

And yet I had always lived and fared thus, but I never felt so bitterly
these hardships and the cruelties of Slavery as I did at that time; making
a virtue of necessity, however, I turned my thoughts in another direction.

I managed to purchase a spelling book, and set about teaching myself to
read, as best I could. Every spare moment I could find was devoted to that
employment, and when about my work I could catch now and then a stolen
glance at my book, just to refresh my memory with the simple lesson I was
trying to learn. But here Slavery showed its cloven foot in all its
hideous deformity. It finally reached the ears of my master that I was
learning to read; and then, if he saw me with a book or a paper in my
hand, oh, how he would swear at me, sending me off in a hurry, about some
employment. Still I persevered, but was more careful about being seen
making any attempt to learn to read. At last, however, I was discovered,
and had to pay the penalty of my determination.

I had been set to work in the sugar bush, and I took my spelling book with
me. When a spare moment occurred I sat down to study, and so absorbed was
I in the attempt to blunder through my lesson, that I did not hear the
Captain's son-in-law coming until he was fairly upon me. He sprang
forward, caught my poor old spelling book, and threw it into the fire,
where it was burned to ashes; and then came my turn. He gave me first
a severe flogging, and then swore if he ever caught me with another book,
he would "whip every inch of skin off my back," &c.

This treatment, however, instead of giving me the least idea of giving it
up, only made me look upon it as a more valuable attainment. Else, why
should my oppressors feel so unwilling that their slaves should possess
that which they thought so essential to themselves? Even then, with my
back bleeding and smarting from the punishment I had received, I
determined to learn to read and write, at all hazards, if my life was only
spared. About this time Capt. Helm began to sell off his slaves to
different persons, as he could find opportunity, and sometimes at a great
sacrifice. It became apparent that the Captain, instead of prospering in
business, was getting poorer every day.



Neither Capt. Helm nor his wife made any religious pretensions. I hardly
know whether or not they were avowed infidels; but they alike ridiculed
all religious professions and possessed some very singular notions
regarding life and death.

I have often heard the Captain say, that no person need die unless they
choose to do so; and his wife was of the same belief. I have frequently
heard her remark that if mankind would firmly resist death it would flee
from them.

An opportunity, however, was soon after given to test the truth of this
strange dogma. Mrs. Helm's health began to decline, but she would pay no
attention to it, following her usual course and regular routine of
household duties; but all in vain; she was taken down, alarmingly ill, and
it became apparent to all, that the "king of terrors" had chosen his
victim. She tried with all her natural energy of character, to baffle
his pursuit and escape his steady approach, but all to no purpose. "The
valley and the shadow of death" were before her, and she had no assurance
that the "rod and staff" of the Almighty would sustain and comfort her
through the dark passage. She shrank with perfect horror from the untried
scenes of the future.

If any one had ever envied Mrs. Helm in her drawing-room, richly attired
and sparkling with jewels, or as she moved with the stately step of a
queen among her trembling slaves, they should have beheld her on her death
bed! They should have listened to her groans and cries for help, while one
piercing shriek after another rang through the princely mansion of which
she had been the absolute mistress!

[Illustration: "If any one had ever envied Mrs. Helm in her drawing-room,
richly attired and sparkling with jewels, or as she moved with the stately
step of a queen among her trembling slaves, they should have beheld her on
her death-bed!"]

Surrounded as she was with every elegance and luxury that wealth could
procure, she lay shrieking out her prayers for a short respite, a short
lengthening out of the life she had spent so unprofitably; her eyes
wandering restlessly about the apartment, and her hands continually
clinching the air, as if to grasp something that would prevent her from
sinking into the embrace of death! There was not a slave present, who
would have exchanged places with her. Not one of those over whom she had
ruled so arbitrarily would have exchanged their rough, lowly cabin and
quiet conscience, for all the wealth and power she had ever possessed.

Nothing of all she had enjoyed in life, nor all that she yet called her
own, could give her one hour of life or one peaceful moment in death!

Oh! what a scene was that! The wind blew, and great drops of rain fell on
the casements. The room lighted only with a single taper; the wretched
wife mingles her dying groans with the howling of the storm, until, as the
clock struck the hour of midnight she fell back upon her pillow and
expired, amid the tears and cries of her family and friends, who not only
deplored the loss of a wife and mother, but were grieved by the manner in
which she died.

The slaves were all deeply affected by the scene; some doubtless truly
lamented the death of their mistress; others rejoiced that she was no
more, and all were more or less frightened. One of them I remember went to
the pump and wet his face, so as to appear to weep with the rest.

What a field was opened for reflection, by the agonizing death of Mrs.
Helm? Born and reared in affluence; well educated and highly accomplished,
possessed of every means to become a useful woman and an ornament to her
sex; which she most likely would have been, had she been instructed in the
Christian religion, and had lived under a different influence. As
infidelity ever deteriorates from the female character, so Slavery
transforms more than one, otherwise excellent woman, into a feminine
monster. Of Mrs. Helm, with her active intellect and great force of
character, it made a tyrannical demon. Her race, however, is ended; her
sun gone down in darkness, and her soul we must leave in the keeping of a
righteous God, to whom we must all give an account for the deeds done in
the body. But in view of the transitory pleasures of this life; the
unsatisfactory realization of wealth, and the certainty of death, we may
well inquire, "What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose
his own soul?"

Some little time after the scene just recorded, there came to Bath a young
physician named Henry, who commenced practice under very flattering
prospects. He was an accomplished young man, well educated and very
skillful in his profession. He was affable and gay in his manners, and
very fond of company. An intimate acquaintance was soon formed with Capt.
Helm and family, and he called almost daily to chat and drink wine with
the Captain,--both being quite fond of a social glass.

One night in the depth of winter, the Doctor was called to see a patient
who lived six miles down the Conhocton river. Previous, however, to the
call, he had accepted an invitation to attend a party at Capt. Helm's,
and there he was found. They had music and dancing, while the wine passed
around very freely. None seemed to join in the dance and other amusements
of the evening with more enjoyment than did Dr. Henry; but after he was
sent for, it being a most bitter cold night, he asked the Captain for a
horse to ride to see his patient, to which he readily assented, and had
his fine _race-horse_ (for the Captain had not left off all his old
habits), brought out from the stable, and the Doctor sprang lightly into
the saddle. Unfortunately his way led by the race-course, and when the
trained animal came to it he started with such speed as to throw the
Doctor to the ground, where he lay all that terrible cold night. In the
morning, some person going after wood, came in sight of the Doctor as he
was trying to creep away on his frozen hands and feet. He was put into the
sleigh and taken to the village with all possible speed. All was done for
him that could be, but his feet and legs were frozen solid. His uncle, Dr.
Henry, was brought as soon as possible, who decided that nothing could
save his life but the amputation of both legs, just below the knee. This
was done; but what a change in the prospects of this promising young man!
Instead of stepping lightly about as he used to do, with a smiling
countenance, he at last came forth after a tedious confinement, a cripple
for life, hobbling about on his knees, sad and dejected. And what, think
you, was the cause of this terrible calamity? What prevented the Doctor
from an exertion to save his life? Wine, intoxicating wine, was
undoubtedly the occasion of the heedless and reckless conduct of both
himself and Capt. Helm. And should not this circumstance be a warning to
parents and guardians, to young men and children, "to look not upon the
wine when it is red," and remember that at last "it will bite like a
serpent and sting like an adder?" Should it not also remind those who have
guests to entertain, of the sinfulness of putting the cup to their
neighbor's lips? Certainly it should. But I must resume my story.

About this time Major Thornton of Bath, died. He had long been an intimate
friend and acquaintance of Capt. Helm, and as the reader is already
informed of the death of Mrs. Helm, they will not be surprised to know
that he began to look earnestly after the widow of his late friend. It
become apparent that his solicitude for the loneliness of Madam Thornton
was not so much as a disconsolate widow, as that of making her the future
Mrs. Helm; nor was it less observable that the new-made widow accepted the
Captain's attentions with great favor, and more as a lover than a

The result was, after the Major had been dead six weeks, Capt. Helm was
married to his widow, and brought her and her servants in great triumph
to his house, giving her the charge of it. His own servants were
discharged, and hers took their places.

All went on pleasantly for a while; then the slaves began to grow sullen
and discontented; and two of them ran away. Capt. Helm started a man named
Morrison, a Scotchman, in pursuit, who hunted them ten days, and then
returned without any tidings of the absconding slaves. They made good
their escape and were never heard from afterwards, by those whose interest
suffered by the loss.

I was one afternoon at a neighbor's house in the village, when I was
suddenly taken so violently ill with pain in my head and side, that I had
to be carried home. When we arrived there, I was allowed a pallet of straw
to lie on, which was better than nothing. Day after day, my disease
increased in violence, and my master employed a physician to attend me
through my illness, which brought me very low indeed. I was constantly
burning with fever, and so thirsty that I knew not what I would have given
for a draught of cold water, which was denied me by the physician's
direction. I daily grew weaker until I was reduced to helplessness, and
was little else than "skin and bones." I really thought my time had come
to die; and when I had strength to talk, I tried to arrange the few little
business affairs I had, and give my father direction concerning them. And
then I began to examine my own condition before God, and to determine how
the case stood between Him and my poor soul. And "there was the rub." I
had often excused myself, for frequent derelictions in duty, and often
wild and passionate outbreaks, on account of the hardness of my lot, and
the injustice with which I was treated, even in my best endeavors to do as
well as I knew how. But now, with death staring me in the face, I could
see that though I was a friendless "slave-boy," I had _not_ always done as
well as I knew how; that I had _not_ served God as I knew I ought, nor had
I always set a good example before my fellow-slaves, nor warned them as
well as I might, "to flee the wrath to come." Then I prayed my Heavenly
Father to spare me a little longer, that I might serve Him better; and in
His mercy and gracious goodness, He did so; though when the fever was
turning they gave me up; and I could hear them say, when they came to feel
my pulse, "he is almost gone," "it will soon be over," &c., and then
inquire if I knew them. I did, but was too weak to say so. I recollect
with gratitude, the kindness of Mrs. H.A. Townsend, who sent me many
delicacies and cooling drinks to soften the rigor of my disease; and
though I suppose she has long since "passed away" and gone to her reward,
may the blessing of those who are ready to perish, rest upon the
descendants of that excellent woman.

Capt. Helm was driving on in his milling, distillery and farming business.
He now began to see the necessity of treating his slaves better by far
than he had ever done before, and granted them greater privileges than he
would have dared to do at the South. Many of the slaves he had sold, were
getting their liberty and doing well.



While I was staying with my master at Bath, he having little necessity for
my services, hired me out to a man by the name of Joseph Robinson, for the
purpose of learning me to drive a team. Robinson lived about three miles
from the village of Bath, on a small farm, and was not only a poor man but
a very mean one. He was cross and heartless in his family, as well as
tyrannical and cruel to those in his employ; and having hired me as a
"slave boy," he appeared to feel at full liberty to wreak his brutal
passion on me at any time, whether I deserved rebuke or not; nor did his
terrible outbreaks of anger vent themselves in oaths, curses and
threatenings only, but he would frequently draw from the cart-tongue a
heavy iron pin, and beat me over the head with it, so unmercifully that he
frequently sent the blood flowing over my scanty apparel, and from that to
the ground, before he could feel satisfied.

These kind of beatings were not only excessively painful, but they always
reminded me of the blows I had so often received from the key, in the hand
of Mrs. Helm, when I was but a little waiter lad; and in truth I must say
that the effect of these heavy blows on the head, have followed me thus
far through life; subjecting me to frequent and violent head-aches, from
which I never expect to be entirely free. Even to this day I shudder at
the thought, when I think how Robinson used to fly at me, swearing,
foaming, and seeming to think there was no weapon too large or too heavy
to strike me with.

He and I were at one time logging with a yoke of oxen, which it was my
business to drive. At that time rattle-snakes were numerous, and a great
terror to the inhabitants. To be bitten by one of these poisonous reptiles
was certain and almost instant death; hence, the greatest caution and
constant vigilance was necessary to avoid them while at work. I had been
sent with the oxen to draw a log to the pile, and when I came up to it, I
observed that it appeared to be hollow; but stepping forward, with the
chain in my hand, ready to attach it to the log, when, oh, horror! the
warning rattle of a snake sounded like a death knell in my ears,
proceeding from the log I was about to lay hold of. I was so much
frightened by the sound, that I dropped the chain as though it were red
hot, left my team, and ran with all the speed in my power, screaming
"murder, murder!" as loud as I could.

This proceeding, which was the fearful impulse of the moment, offended
Robinson, and gave him another opportunity to beat me most cruelly. He was
himself as much afraid of rattle-snakes as I; but he was the master and I
the "slave boy," which made a vast difference. He caught hold of me, and,
with horrid oaths, beat me with his fist again and again; threatening me
with awful punishment if I did not instantly return and bring the log to
the desired spot. I never can forget the mortal agony I was in, while
compelled by his kicks and blows to return and fasten the chain around the
log containing the deadly serpent. I, however, succeeded with trembling
hands, and drove the oxen, but keeping myself at the fartherest possible
distance from them and the log. When I finally arrived at the pile, Mr.
Robinson and some other men, cut a hole with an ax in the log, and killed
the large, venomous rattle-snake that had occasioned me so much alarm and
such a cruel beating. Nor was the uncontrollable and brutal passion of
Robinson his only deficiency; he was mean as he was brutal.

He had, at one time, borrowed a wagon of a neighbor living two miles
distant, through a dense forest. On the day of the total eclipse of the
sun, it entered his head that it would be fine sport, knowing my
my ignorance and superstition, to send me, just as the darkness was coming
on, to return the borrowed wagon. I accordingly hitched the ox-team to it
and started. As I proceeded through the wood, I saw, with astonishment and
some alarm, that it was growing very dark, and thought it singular at that
hour of the day. When I reached the place of my destination it was almost
total darkness, and some persons, ignorant as myself, were running about,
wringing their hands, and declaring that they believed the Day of Judgment
had come, and such like expressions.

The effect of all this was, however, very different from what my master
had expected. I thought, of course, if the judgment day had come, I should
be no longer a slave in the power of a heartless tyrant. I recollect well
of thinking, that if indeed all things earthly were coming to an end, I
should be free from Robinson's brutal force, and as to meeting my Creator,
I felt far less dread of that than of meeting my cross, unmerciful master.
I felt that, sinful as I had been, and unworthy as I was, I should be far
better off than I then was; driven to labor all day, without compensation;
half starved and poorly clad, and above all, subjected to the whims and
caprices of any heartless tyrant to whom my master might give the power to
rule over me. But I had not much time for reflection, I hurried home; my
mind filled with the calm anticipation that the end of all things was at
hand; which greatly disappointed my expectant master, who was looking for
me to return in a great fright, making some very ludicrous demonstration
of fear and alarm. But after a few months more of hardship I was permitted
to return to Capt. Helm's, where I was treated much better than at
Robinson's, and much, better than the Captain used to treat his slaves.

Capt. Helm, not having demand for slave labor as much as formerly, was in
the practice of hiring out his slaves to different persons, both in and
out of the village; and among others, my only sister was hired out to a
_professed_ gentleman living in Bath. She had become the mother of two or
three children, and was considered a good servant.

One pleasant Sabbath morning, as I was passing the house where she lived,
on my way to the Presbyterian church, where I was sent to ring the bell as
usual, I heard the most piteous cries and earnest pleadings issuing from
the dwelling. To my horror and the astonishment of those with me, my poor
sister made her appearance, weeping bitterly, and followed by her inhuman
master, who was polluting the air of that clear Sabbath morning, with the
most horrid imprecations and threatenings, and at the same time
flourishing a large raw-hide. Very soon his bottled wrath burst forth, and
the blows, aimed with all his strength, descended upon the unprotected
head, shoulders and back of the helpless woman, until she was literally
cut to pieces. She writhed in his powerful grasp, while shriek after
shriek died away in heart-rending moanings; and yet the inhuman demon
continued to beat her, though her pleading cries had ceased, until
obliged to desist from the exhaustion of his own strength.

What a spectacle was that, for the sight of a brother? The God of heaven
only knows the conflict of feeling I then endured; He alone witnessed the
tumult of my heart, at this outrage of manhood and kindred affection. God
knows that my will was good enough to have wrung his neck; or to have
drained from his heartless system its last drop of blood! And yet I was
obliged to turn a deaf ear to her cries for assistance, which to this day
ring in my ears. Strong and athletic as I was, no hand of mine could be
raised in her defence, but at the peril of both our lives;--nor could her
husband, had he been a witness of the scene, be allowed any thing more
than unresisting submission to any cruelty, any indignity which the master
saw fit to inflict on _his wife_, but the other's _slave_.

Does any indignant reader feel that I was wanting in courage or brotherly
affection, and say that he would have interfered, and, at all hazards,
rescued his sister from the power of her master; let him remember that he
is a _freeman_; that he has not from his infancy been taught to cower
beneath the white man's frown, and bow at his bidding, or suffer all the
rigor of the slave laws. Had the gentlemanly woman-whipper been seen
beating his horse, or his ox, in the manner he beat my poor sister, and
that too for no fault which the law could recognize as an offence, he
would have been complained of most likely; but as it was, she was but a
"slave girl,"--with whom the slave law allowed her master to do what he

Well, I finally passed on, with a clinched fist and contracted brow, to
the church, and rung the bell, I think rather furiously, to notify the
inhabitants of Bath, that it was time to assemble for the worship of that
God who has declared himself to be "no respecter of persons." With my own
heart beating wildly with indignation and sorrow, the kind reader may
imagine my feelings when I saw the smooth-faced hypocrite, the inhuman
slave-whipper, enter the church, pass quietly on to his accustomed seat,
and then meekly bow his hypocritical face on the damask cushion, in the
reverent acknowledgment of that religion which teaches its adherents "to
do unto others as they would be done by," just as if nothing unusual had
happened on that Sabbath morning. Can any one wonder that I, and other
slaves, often doubted the sincerity of every white man's religion? Can it
be a matter of astonishment, that slaves often feel that there is no just
God for the poor African? Nay, verily; and were it not for the comforting
and sustaining influence that these poor, illiterate and suffering
creatures feel as coming from an unearthly source, they would in their
ignorance all become infidels. To me, that beautiful Sabbath morning was
clouded in midnight darkness, and I retired to ponder on what could be

For some reason or other, Capt. Helm had supplied every lawyer in that
section of country with slaves, either by purchase or hire; so when I
thought of seeking legal redress for my poor, mangled sister, I saw at
once it would be all in vain. The laws were in favor of the slave owner,
and besides, every legal gentleman in the village had one or more of the
Captain's slaves, who were treated with more or less rigor; and of course
they would do nothing toward censuring one of their own number, so nothing
could be done to give the slave even the few privileges which the laws of
the State allowed them.

The Captain sold my aunt Betsy Bristol to a distinguished lawyer in the
village, retaining her husband, Aaron Bristol, in his own employ; and two
of her children he sold to another legal gentleman named Cruger. One day
Captain Helm came out where the slaves were at work, and finding Aaron was
not there, he fell into a great rage and swore terribly. He finally
started off to a beach tree, from which he cut a stout limb, and trimmed
it so as to leave a knot on the but end of the stick, or bludgeon rather,
which was about two and a half feet in length. With this formidable
weapon he started for Aaron's lonely cabin. When the solitary husband saw
him coming he suspected that he was angry, and went forth to meet him
in the street. They had no sooner met than my master seized Aaron by the
collar, and taking the limb he had prepared by the smaller end, commenced
beating him with it, over the head and face, and struck him some thirty or
more terrible blows in quick succession; after which Aaron begged to know
for what he was so unmercifully flogged.

"Because you deserve it," was the angry reply. Aaron said that he had ever
endeavored to discharge his duty, and had done so to the best of his
ability; and that he thought it very hard to be treated in that manner for
no offence at all. Capt. Helm was astonished at his audacity; but the
reader will perceive that the slaves were not blind to the political
condition of the country, and were beginning to feel that they had some
rights, and meant to claim them.

Poor Aaron's face and head, however, was left in a pitiable condition
after such a pummeling with a knotty stick. His face, covered with blood,
was so swollen that he could hardly see for some time; but what of that?
Did he not belong to Capt. Helm, soul and body; and if his brutal owner
chose to destroy his own property, certainly had he not a right to do so,
without let or hindrance? Of course; such is the power that Slavery gives
one human being over another.

And yet it must be confessed that among the poor, degraded and ignorant
slaves there exists a foolish pride, which loves to boast of their
master's wealth and influence. A white person, too poor to own slaves, is
as often looked upon with as much disdain by the miserable slave as by his
wealthy owner. This disposition seems to be instilled into the mind of
every slave at the South, and indeed, I have heard slaves object to being
sent in very small companies to labor in the field, lest that some
passer-by should think that they belonged to a poor man, who was unable to
keep a large gang. Nor is this ridiculous sentiment maintained by the
slaves only; the rich planter feels such a contempt for all white persons
without slaves, that he does not want them for his neighbors. I know of
many instances where such persons have been under the necessity of buying
or hiring slaves, just to preserve their reputation and keep up
appearances; and even among a class of people who profess to be opposed to
Slavery, have I known instances of the same kind, and have heard them
apologize for their conduct by saying that "when in Rome, we must do as
the Romans do."

Uncle Aaron Bristol was one of Capt. Helm's slaves who had a large amount
of this miserable pride; and for him to be associated with a white man in
the same humble occupation, seemed to give him ideas of great superiority,
and full liberty to treat him with all the scorn and sarcasm he was
capable of, in which my uncle was by no means deficient.

At this time the Captain owned a fine and valuable horse, by the name of
_Speculator_. This horse, groomed by uncle Aaron, stood sometimes at Bath
and sometimes at Geneva; and at the latter village another horse was kept,
groomed by a white man. The white groom was not very well pleased with
Aaron's continual disparagement of the clumsy animal which my uncle called
"a great, awkward plow-horse;" and then he would fling out some of his
proud nonsense about "_poor white people_ who were obliged to groom their
own old dumpy horses," &c.

Well, things went on in this unpleasant manner for several weeks, when at
last the white groom and Aaron met at Geneva, and the horse belonging to
the former, designedly or accidentally, escaped from his keeper, and came
with full speed, with his mouth wide open, after Speculator. When the
fiery fellow had overtaken uncle Aaron he attempted to grasp the wethers
of Speculator with his teeth, instead of which he caught Aaron on the
inside of his thigh, near the groin, from whence he bit a large piece of
flesh, laying the bone entirely bare; at the same moment flinging Aaron to
the ground, some rods off; and the next instant he kicked Speculator down
a steep embankment Aaron was taken up for dead, and Dr. Henry sent for,
who dressed his wounds; and after several months' confinement he finally
recovered. It is probable that the biting and overthrow of Aaron saved his
life, as he must have otherwise been killed in the encounter of the two

A while after his recovery, uncle Aaron succeeded in procuring a team and
some kind of vehicle, in which he put his wife and children, and between
two days, took "French leave" of his master as well as of the lawyer to
whom his wife belonged.

The lawyer, however, was far from being pleased when he missed his
property, and immediately set his wits to work to reclaim her. All was
kept secret as possible, but it was whispered about that it was to be
done by a State's warrant, for removing the clothing and furniture they
had taken, and so, being thus arrested, "Madam Bristol" would be glad to
return to her work in the lawyer's kitchen. But Aaron was a smart, shrewd
man, and kept out of their reach, where he soon found friends and
employment, and could go where he pleased, without having an infuriated
master to beat and disfigure him with a knotted stick, until his clothes
were bespattered with blood. They appreciated their liberty, and lived and
died in peace and freedom.

Capt. Helm continued his old manner of treating slaves, dealing out their
weekly allowance of corn or meal; but living as we now did, so much more
intimately with white inhabitants, our condition was materially improved.
The slaves became more refined in manners and in possession of far greater
opportunities to provide for themselves, than they had ever before
enjoyed, and yet it was _Slavery_. Any reverse in the fortunes of our
master would be disadvantageous to us. Oh, how this fearful uncertainty
weighed upon us as we saw that our master was not prospering and
increasing in wealth; but we had not the dismal fears of the loathsome
slave-pen, rice swamps, and many other things we should have to fear in
Virginia. We were still _slaves_, and yet we had so much greater chance
to learn from the kind, intelligent people about us, so many things which
we never knew before, that I think a slave-trader would have found it a
difficult task to take any one of us to a Southern slave market, if our
master had so ordered it.

The village of Bath is rather an out-of-the-way place, hemmed in on all
sides by mountains of considerable height, leaving an opening on the
north, through a pleasant valley, to the head of Crooked Lake. Produce
of every kind, when once there, met a ready sale for the New York market.

In the first settlement of the country this was the only outlet for the
country produce, which was transported in rude boats or vessels called
_arks_, built during the winter season to await the spring freshet; then
they loaded them with wheat or other produce, and sent them to Baltimore
or elsewhere. They used also to obtain great quantities of fine lumber,
and floated it through the same rivers every spring; but it was attended
with great loss of life and property.

Bath assumed a warlike appearance during the last war with Great Britain;
the public square was dotted all over with officers, marquees, and
soldiers' tents. Some of these soldiers were unprincipled and reckless
men, who seemed to care very little what they did.

One evening I was walking around the encampment in company with a Mr.
James Morrison, a clerk in the land office, looking at the soldiers, until
we came near a sentinel on duty. He kept his gun to his shoulder until we
came near enough, and then he attempted to run me through with his
bayonet. Young Morrison sprang forward, and seizing the musket, told me
to run; I did so, which probably saved my life.



After living sometime in Bath, and having the privilege of more
enlightened society, I began to think that it was possible for me to
become a free man in some way besides going into the army or running away,
as I had often thought of doing. I had listened to the conversation of
others, and determined to ask legal counsel on the subject the first
opportunity I could find. Very soon after, as I was drawing wood, I met on
the river bridge, Mr. D. Cruger, the eminent lawyer before mentioned, and
I asked him to tell me if I was not free, by the laws of New York. He
started, and looked around him as if afraid to answer my question, but
after a while told me I was _not_ free. I passed on, but the answer to my
question by no means satisfied me, especially when I remembered the
hesitancy with which it was given.

I sought another opportunity to speak with Mr. Cruger, and at last found
him in his office alone; then he conversed freely on the subject of
Slavery, telling me that Capt. Helm could not hold me as a slave in that
State, if I chose to leave him, and then directed me to D. Comstock and J.
Moore; the first being at the head of a manumission society, and the last
named gentleman one of its directors.

Our condition, as I have said before, was greatly improved; and yet the
more we knew of freedom the more we desired it, and the less willing were
we to remain in bondage. The slaves that Capt. Helm had sold or hired out,
were continually leaving him and the country, for a place of freedom; and
I determined to become my own possessor.

There is no one, I care not how favorable his condition, who desires to be
a slave, to labor for nothing all his life for the benefit of others. I
have often heard fugitive slaves say, that it was not so much the cruel
beatings and floggings that they received which induced them to leave the
South, as the idea of dragging out a whole life of unrequited toil to
enrich their masters.

Everywhere that Slavery exists, it is nothing but _slavery_. I found it
just as hard to be beaten over the head with a piece of iron in New York
as it was in Virginia. Whips and chains are everywhere necessary to
degrade and brutalize the slave, in order to reduce him to that abject and
humble state which Slavery requires. Nor is the effect much less
disastrous on the man who holds supreme control over the soul and body of
his fellow beings. Such unlimited power, in almost every instance
transforms the man into a tyrant; the brother into a demon.

When the first of our persecuted race were brought to this country it was
to teach them to reverence the only true and living God; or such was the
answer of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England, when her subjects
desired the liberty to bring from their native land the poor, ignorant
African. "Let them," said the Queen, "be brought away only by their own
consent, otherwise the act will be detestable, and bring down the
vengeance of heaven upon us." A very different position truly, from the
one assumed at the present day by apologists for the traffic in human
flesh. But, to return to myself.

I had determined to make an effort to own myself, and as a preliminary
step, I obtained permission of Capt. Helm to visit some friends living in
Canandaigua and Geneva. This was in the winter of 1814. I went first to
Geneva; from there to Canandaigua. Between the two villages I met a
company of United States' troops, returning from Buffalo, where they had
been to repel an invasion of the British.

The two villages above named, were small but very pretty, having been laid
out with taste and great care. Some wealthy and enterprising gentlemen had
come from the East into this great Western country, who were making every
improvement in their power. The dense forest had long since fallen under
the stroke of the woodman's ax, and in that section, flourishing villages
were springing up as if by magic, where so lately roamed wild beasts and
rude savages, both having fallen back before the march of civilization.

I called on James Moore, as directed by Mr. Cruger, and found he was one
of the directors of the "Manumission Society," as it was then called. This
was an association of humane and intelligent gentlemen whose object it was
to aid any one who was illegally held in bondage. The funds of the society
were ample; and able counsel was employed to assist those who needed it.
The late lamented John C. Spencer, one of the most eminent lawyers in
Western New York, was then counsel for that society.

I soon got an interview with Mr. Moore, to whom I related the history of
my life,--the story of my wrongs and hardships. I told him about my having
been hired out by Capt. Helm, which he said was sufficient to insure my
freedom! Oh! how my heart leaped at the thought! The tears started, my
breast heaved with a mighty throb of gratitude, and I could hardly refrain
from grasping his hand or falling down at his feet; and perhaps should
have made some ludicrous demonstration of my feelings, had not the kind
gentleman continued his conversation in another direction.

He said that indispensable business called him to Albany, where he must go
immediately, but assured me that he would return in March following; then
I must come to him and he would see that I had what justly belonged to
me--my freedom from Slavery. He advised me to return to Bath and go on
with my work as usual until March, but to say nothing of my intentions and
prospects. I returned according to his directions, with a heart so light,
that I could not realize that my bonds were not yet broken, nor the yoke
removed from off my neck. I was already free in spirit, and I silently
exulted in the bright prospect of liberty.

Could my master have felt what it was to be relieved of such a crushing
weight, as the one which was but partially lifted from my mind, he would
have been a happier man than he had been for a long time.

I went cheerfully back to my labor, and worked with alacrity, impatient
only for March to come; and as the time drew near I began to consider what
kind of an excuse I could make to get away. I could think of none, but I
determined to go without one, rather than to remain.

Just before the time appointed for me to meet Mr. Moore, a slave girl
named Milly, came secretly to Bath. She had been one of Capt. Helm's
slaves, and he had a while before sold her to a man who lived some
distance west of the village. Milly had now taken the matter into her own
hands. She had left her master to take care of himself, and was in short,
"running away," determined as myself, that she would be a slave no longer;
resolved on death, or freedom from the power of the slaveholder.

The time I had set for my departure was so near at hand, that I concluded
to accompany her in her flight. When the dark night came on, we started
together, and traveled all night, and just as the day dawned we arrived at
Manchester, where we stopped a short time with one Thomas Watkins.

But I was not to be let go so easily. I had been missed at Capt. Helm's,
and several men started in immediate pursuit. I was weary, and so intent
on getting a little rest that I did not see my pursuers until they had
well nigh reached the house where I was; but I _did_ see them in time to
spring from the house with the agility of a deer, and to run for the woods
as for life. And indeed, I so considered it. I was unarmed to be sure, and
not prepared to defend myself against two or three men, armed to the
teeth; but it would have gone hard with me before I surrendered myself to
them, after having dreamed as I had, and anticipated the blessings of a
free man. I escaped them, thank God, and reached the woods, where I
concealed myself for some time, and where I had ample opportunity to
reflect on the injustice and cruelty of my oppressors, and to ask myself
why it was that I was obliged to fly from my home. Why was I there panting
and weary, hungry and destitute--skulking in the woods like a thief, and
concealing myself like a murderer? What had I done? For what fault, or for
what crime was I pursued by armed men, and hunted like a beast of prey?
God only knows how these inquiries harrowed up my very soul, and made me
well nigh doubt the justice and mercy of the Almighty, until I remembered
my narrow escape, when my doubts dissolved in grateful tears.

But why, oh why, had I been forced to flee thus from my fellow men? I was
guilty of no crime; I had committed no violence; I had broken no law of
the land; I was not charged even with a fault, except of _the love of
liberty_ and a desire to be _free_! I had claimed the right to possess my
own person, and remove it from oppression. Oh my God, thought I, can the
American People, who at this very hour are pouring out their blood in
defence of their country's liberty; offering up as a sacrifice on the
battle field their promising young men, to preserve their land and
hearthstones from English oppression; can they, will they, continue to
hunt the poor African slave from their soil because he desires that same
liberty, so dear to the heart of every American citizen? Will they not
blot out from their fair escutcheon the foul stain which Slavery has cast
upon it? Will they not remember the Southern bondman, in whom the love
of freedom is as inherent as in themselves; and will they not, when
contending for equal rights, use their mighty forces "to break _every
yoke_, and let the oppressed go free?" God grant that it may be so!

As soon as I thought it prudent, I pursued my journey, and finally came
out into the open country, near the dwelling of Mr. Dennis Comstock, who,
as I have said, was president of the Manumission Society. To him I freely
described my situation, and found him a friend indeed. He expressed his
readiness to assist me, and wrote a line for me to take to his brother,
Otis Comstock, who took me into his family at once. I hired to Mr.
Comstock for the season, and from that time onward lived with him nearly
four years.

When I arrived there I was about twenty-two years of age, and felt for the
first time in my life, that I was my own master. I cannot describe to a
free man, what a proud manly feeling came over me when I hired to Mr. C.
and made my first bargain, nor when I assumed the dignity of collecting my
own earnings. Notwithstanding I was very happy in my freedom from Slavery,
and had a good home, where for the first time in my life I was allowed to
sit at table with others, yet I found myself very deficient in almost
every thing which I should have learned when a boy.

These and other recollections of the past often saddened my spirit; but
_hope _,--cheering and bright, was now mine, and it lighted up the future
and gave me patience to persevere.

In the autumn when the farm work was done, I called on Mr. Comstock for
some money, and the first thing I did after receiving it I went to
Canandaigua where I found a book-store kept by a man named J.D. Bemis, and
of him I purchased some school books.

No king on his throne could feel prouder or grander than I did that day.
With my books under my arm, and money of my own earning in my pocket, I
stepped loftily along toward Farmington, where I determined to attend the
Academy. The thought, however, that though I was twenty-three years old, I
had yet to learn what most boys of eight years knew, was rather a damper
on my spirits. The school was conducted by Mr. J. Comstock, who was a
pleasant young man and an excellent teacher. He showed me every kindness
and consideration my position and ignorance demanded; and I attended his
school three winters, with pleasure and profit to myself at least.

When I had been with Mr. Comstock about a year, we received a visit from
my old master, Capt. Helm, who had spared no pains to find me, and when he
learned where I was he came to claim me as "his boy," who, he said he
"wanted and must have."

Mr. Comstock told him I was _not_ "his boy," and as such he would not
give me up; and further, that I was free by the laws of the State. He
assured the Captain that his hiring me out in the first instance, to Mr.
Tower, forfeited his claim to me, and gave me a right to freedom,--but if
he chose to join issue, they would have the case tried in the Supreme
Court; but this proposition the Captain declined: he knew well enough that
it would result in my favor; and after some flattery and coaxing, he left
me with my friend, Mr. Comstock, in liberty and peace!



The business affairs of Capt. Helm had for some time been far from
prosperous; and now he was quite poor. His slave property proved a bad
investment, and Madam Thornton a far worse one. She had already applied
for a divorce, and a good share of the estate as alimony; both of which
she succeeded in getting, the Captain allowing her to take pretty much
her own course. These troubles, with costs of lawsuits, bad management,
&c., had now emptied the coffers of my old master almost to the last
farthing; and he began to cast about him for some way to replenish his
purse, and retrieve his fallen fortunes.

Had Capt. Helm been brought up to honorable industry, and accustomed to
look after his own pecuniary interests, he doubtless would have sustained
his position; or if reverses were unavoidable, he would have by
persevering industry, regained what he had lost. But he had been raised in
a slave State, and Southern principles were as deeply instilled into his
mind, as Southern manners were impressed on his life and conduct.

He had no partiality for labor of any kind; horse-racing and card-playing
were far more congenial to his tastes; reduced as he now was, he would
deny himself no luxury that his means or credit would procure. His few
remaining slaves were given into the hands of an idle, brutal overseer
--while they, half fed, half clothed, grew more and more discontented, and
ran away on every opportunity that offered.

The Captain at last hit upon a method of making money, which, if it had
been carried into operation on the high seas, would in all probability
have been called by its right name, and incurred the penalty of the
gallows--as piracy. Ought it then to be deemed less criminal because
transpiring on the free soil of the American Republic? I think not. Nor
was it less censurable on account of its failure.

The Captain's plan was to collect all the slaves he had once owned, many
of whom had escaped to the surrounding villages, and when once in his
grasp, to run them speedily into a slave State, and there sell them for
the Southern market. To carry forward this hellish design, it was
necessary to have recourse to stratagem. Some person must be found to
lure the unsuspecting slaves into the net he was spreading for them. At
last he found a scoundrel named Simon Watkins, who for the consideration
of fifty dollars, was to collect as many of the slaves as he could at one
place; and when he had done so, he was to receive the money, leaving Capt.
Helm to do the rest.

Simon set immediately about the business, which was first to go to
Palmyra, and in great kindness and generosity, give a large party to the
colored people,--desiring that all Capt. Helm's former slaves, _in
particular_, should be present to have a joyous re-union, and celebrate
their freedom in having a fine time generally.

Invitations were sent to all, and extensive preparation made for a large
"social party," at Palmyra, at the house of Mrs. Bristol. My parents were
invited; and Simon took the pains to come to Farmington to give me a
special invitation. When the time arrived for the party, I went to Palmyra
with the intention of attending. I had not the least suspicion of any
thing wrong; yet, by some mysterious providence, or something for which I
can not account, a presentiment took possession of my mind that all was
not right. I knew not what I feared, and could in no way define my
apprehensions; but I grew so uneasy, that I finally gave up the party and
returned home, before the guests were assembled.

Capt. Helm and his assistants came on to Palmyra in disguise, before
evening, and secreted themselves in one of the hotels to await the arrival
of their victims.

At the appointed hour the slaves began to assemble in large numbers and
great glee, without the least suspicion of danger. They soon began their
amusements, and in the midst of their mirth, Capt. Helm and party
stealthily crept from their hiding place and surrounded the house; then
bursting in suddenly upon the revelers, began to make arrests. Such a
tumult, such an affray as ensued would be hard to describe.

The slaves fought for their lives and their liberty, and the Captain's
party for their property and power. Fists, clubs, chairs, and any thing
they could get hold of, was freely used with a strength and will of men
who had tasted the joys of freedom. Cries and curses were mingled, while
blows fell like hail on both sides. Commands from our old master were met
with shouts of bold defiance on the part of the negroes, until the
miserable kidnappers were glad to desist, and were driven of--not
stealthily as they came, but in quick time and in the best way they could,
to escape the threatened vengeance of the slaves, who drove them like
"feathers before the wind." But it was a terrible battle and many were
severely wounded; among them was my father. He was taken to his home,
mangled and bleeding, and from the effects of that night's affray he never
recovered. He lingered on in feeble health until death finally released
him from suffering, and placed him beyond the reach of kidnappers and

The Captain and his party, enraged and disappointed in their plans at
Palmyra, returned to Bath to see what could be done there toward success,
in getting up a gang of slaves for the Southern market. When they came
among the colored people of Bath, it was like a hawk alighting among a
flock of chickens at noon-day. They scattered and ran in every direction,
some to the woods, some hid themselves in cellars, and others in their
terror plunged into the Conhocton River. In this manner the majority of
the negroes escaped, but not all; and those were so unfortunate as to get
caught were instantly thrown into a large covered "Pennsylvania wagon,"
and hurried off, closely guarded, to Olean Point. Among those taken were
Harry Lucas, his wife, Lucinda, and seven children; Mrs. Jane Cooper and
four children, with some others, were also taken.

When Capt. Helm arrived at Olean Point with his stolen freight of human
beings, he was unexpectedly detained until he could build a boat,--which,
to his great dismay took him several days.

The sorrow and fearful apprehension of those wretched recaptured slaves
can not be described nor imagined by any one except those who have
experienced a like affliction. They had basked for a short season in the
sunshine of liberty, and thought themselves secure from the iron grasp of
Slavery, and the heel of the oppressor, when in the height of their
exultation, they had been thrust down to the lowest depths of misery and
despair, with the oppressor's heel again upon their necks. To be snatched
without a moment's warning from their homes and friends,--hurried and
crowded into the close slave wagon, regardless of age or sex, like sheep
for the slaughter, to be carried they knew not whither; but, doubtless
to the dismal rice swamp of the South,--was to them an agony too great for
endurance. The adult portion of the miserable company determined at last
to go no farther with their heartless master, but to resist unto death if
need be, before they surrendered themselves to the galling chains they had
so recently broken, or writhed again under the torturing lash of the

Harry Lucas and wife, and Jane Cooper, silently prepared themselves for
the conflict, determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible. When
they were nearly ready to start, Jane Cooper sent her oldest daughter and
younger sister, (she who is now our worthy friend Mrs. P. of Bath), into
the woods, and then when the men undertook to get Lucas and the two women
on board the boat the struggle commenced. The women fought the Captain and
his confederates like a lioness robbed of her whelps! They ran and dodged
about, making the woods ring with their screams and shouts of "Murder!
Murder! Help! Help! Murder!" until the Captain's party, seeing they could
do nothing to quell them, became so exceedingly alarmed lest they should
be detected in their illegal proceedings, that they ran off at full speed,
as if they thought an officer at their heels. In their hurry and fright
they caught two of Harry's children, and throwing them into the boat,
pushed off as quick as possible, amid the redoubled cries of the agonized
parents and sympathizing friends, all trying in every way possible, to
recover from the merciless grasp of the man-stealer, the two frightened
and screaming children. Guns were fired and horns sounded, but all to no
purpose--they held tightly the innocent victims of their cupidity, and
made good their escape.

Mr. D. C----, a gentleman of wealth and high standing in Steuben County,
became responsible for the fifty dollars which Capt. Helm promised to pay
Simon Watkins for his villainy in betraying, Judas-like, those unsuspecting
persons whom it should have been his pleasure to protect and defend
against their common oppressor,--his own as well as theirs.

In addition to this rascality, it can not appear very creditable to the
citizens of Steuben County, that Capt. Helm and Thomas McBirney should
both hold high and important offices at the time, and _after_ they had
been tried and convicted of the crime of kidnapping. Both of these
gentlemen, guilty of a State's prison offence, were judges of the common
pleas. T. McBirney was first judge in the county, and Capt. Helm was side
judge; and notwithstanding their participation in, and conviction of, a
flagrant outrage on the laws of God and man, they managed not only to
escape the penalty, but to retain their offices and their respectable
standing in community for years after.



I continued to labor in the employ of Mr. O. Comstock, whose son, Zeno,
was married during the year 1816, and purchased a farm on the site of the
present flourishing village of Lockport, to which he moved his family and
effects; but from a mistaken supposition that the Erie Canal, which was
then under contemplation, would take a more southern route, he was induced
to sell his farm in Hartland, which has proved a mine of wealth to the
more fortunate purchaser.

In the winter of that year, I was sent by my employer to Hartland with a
sleigh-load of produce, and passed through the village of Rochester, which
I had never before seen. It was a very small, forbidding looking place at
first sight, with few inhabitants, and surrounded by a dense forest.

I recollect that while pursuing my journey, I overtook a white man driving
a span of horses, who contended that I had not a right to travel the
public highway as other men did, but that it was my place to keep behind
him and his team. Being in haste I endeavored to pass him quietly, but he
would not permit it and hindered me several hours, very much to my
annoyance and indignation. This was, however, but a slight incident
indicating the bitter prejudice which every man seemed to feel against the
negro. No matter how industrious he might be, no matter how honorable in
his dealings, or respectful in his manners,--he was a "nigger," and as
such he must be treated, with a few honorable exceptions.

This year also, my father died in the village of Palmyra, where, as I have
before mentioned, he received injuries from which he never entirely
recovered. After about six months severe illness which he bore with
commendable patience and resignation, his spirit returned to God who gave
it; and his sorrowing friends and bereaved family followed his remains to
their final abode, where we laid him down to rest from unrequited labor
and dire oppression, until "all they who are in their graves shall hear
the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live forever," where
the "tears shall be wiped from off all faces"--and where the righteous
bondman shall no longer fear the driver's lash or master's frown, but
freely join in the song of "Alleluia! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!"

My father had a good reputation for honesty and uprightness of character
among his employers and acquaintances, and was a kind, affectionate
husband and a fond, indulgent parent. His, I believe was the life and
death of a good man. "Peace be to his ashes."

The following season I commenced a new business--that of peddling in the
village of Rochester such articles as my employer, Mr. Comstock, desired
to sell: the products of his farm,--wheat, corn, oats, butter, cheese,
meat, and poultry--all of which met a ready sale, generally for cash at
liberal prices. That market was then but little known to the generality of
farmers, and the enterprising gentlemen of that place, were desirous of
encouraging commerce with the surrounding country, offered every
encouragement in their power. Hence, we found it a profitable business,
which I continued in for several months.

The present flourishing city of Rochester was then, as I have said, but a
village in its infancy, situated near the upper falls of the Genesee
River, and about seven miles from its mouth. Here, some time previously,
three gentlemen from Maryland bought a large tract of land, and as no
business man could fail to observe and appreciate its rare advantages they
commenced laying out a village. Sirs Fitzhugh, Carroll, and Rochester,
composed the company; but the management of the business devolved almost
wholly on Col. Rochester, whose wealth, enterprise, and intelligence well
qualified him for the undertaking; and as it had been assigned him to
cognominate the new village, I have heard it said that he jocularly gave
his reason for selecting its present title, as follows: "Should he call it
_Fitzhugh_ or _Carroll_, the slighted gentleman would certainly feel
offended with the other; but if he called it by his own name, they would
most likely _both_ be angry with him; so it was best to serve them alike."

There was then two grist mills,--one owned by Mr. Ely, and the other by
Mr. Brown; one small building for religious worship, occupied by the
Presbyterians on Carroll street (now State street); and but two stone
buildings within what now comprises that beautiful city. There were then
no brick buildings at all, but business was good; merchants and mechanics
from the East soon began to settle there and give it a thriving aspect.

About this time another company was formed, whose moving spirit was Mr. E.
Stone, a man of worth and talent; the object of which was to locate
another village at the head of navigation and about half way between the
mouth of the river and Rochester, which they called _Carthage_.

The company commenced building and improving the place so rapidly, that
many who came to purchase residences and business stations were at a loss
to decide which of the two places would finally become the center of
business. It, however, was soon perceivable that the advantage of water
privileges, stone, and access to both, was greatly in favor of Rochester.
At Carthage the Genesee is narrow and its banks steep and abrupt, rising
in many places three hundred feet above the bed of the river, which of
course render the privileges and business on it far less easy of access
for building purposes. I may have occasion to speak hereafter of the
expensive and magnificent bridge at Carthage, which was the wonder and
admiration of the times.

The following year I concluded to go into business for myself, and was as
much at loss as others, whether to locate at Rochester or Carthage; but
after considering the matter in all its bearings, and closely watching the
progress of events, my choice preponderated in favor of Rochester, and to
that place I went, designing to enter into business on my own account.

It was indeed painful to my feelings to leave the home and family of Mr.
Comstock, where I had experienced so much real comfort and happiness,
where I had ever been treated with uniform kindness, where resided those
kind friends to whom I felt under the greatest obligation for the freedom
and quietude I then enjoyed, as well as for the little knowledge of
business and of the world that I then possessed. Thinking, however, that
I could better my condition, I subdued, as well as I could, my rising
emotions, and after sincerely thanking them for their goodness and
favors--wishing them long life and prosperity,--I took my departure for
the chosen place of my destination.

Soon after I left Mr. Comstock's, that gentleman, sent his hired man,
named John Cline, to Rochester with a wagon load of produce to sell, as
had been his custom for some time. In vain the family looked for his
return at the usual hour in the evening, and began to wonder what had
detained him; but what was their horror and surprise to find, when they
arose the next morning, the horses standing at the door, and the poor
unfortunate man lying in the wagon, _dead_! How long they had been there
nobody knew; no one had heard them come in; and how the man had been
killed was a matter of mere conjecture. The coroner was sent for and an
inquest held, and yet it was difficult to solve the whole mystery.

The most probable explanation was, that he was sitting in the back part of
the wagon, and fell over on his left side, striking his neck on the edge
of the wagon box, breaking it instantly.

The verdict of the jury was, in accordance with these facts, "accidental
death," &c.

When I left Mr. Comstock's I had acquired quite a knowledge of reading,
writing, arithmetic, and had made a small beginning in English grammar.

It had been for some time a question which I found hard to decide, whether
or not I should pursue my studies as I had done. If I went into business
as I contemplated, I knew it would end my proficiency in the sciences; and
yet I felt a desire to accumulate more of the wealth that perisheth.
Considering too that I was advancing in age, and had no means of support
but by my own labor, I finally concluded to do what I have from that time
to this deeply regretted,--give up the pursuit of an education, and turn
my attention wholly to business. I do not regret having desired a
competency, nor for having labored to obtain it, but I _do_ regret not
having spared myself sufficient leisure to pursue some regular system of
reading and study; to have cultivated my mind and stored it with useful

Truly has it been said, "knowledge is power." But it is not like the
withering curse of a tyrant's power; not like the degrading and
brutalizing power of the slave-driver's lash, chains, and thumb-screws;
not like the beastly, demonical power of rum, nor like the brazen,
shameless power of lust; but a power that elevates and refines the
intellect; directs the affections; controls unholy passions; a power so
God-like in its character, that it enables its possessor to feel for the
oppressed of every clime, and prepares him to defend the weak and

What but ignorance renders the poor slave so weak and inefficient in
claiming his right to liberty, and the possession of his own being! Nor
will that God who is "no respecter of persons," hold him guiltless who
assumes unlimited control over his fellow. The chain of Slavery which
fetters every slave south of Mason and Dixon's Line, is as closely linked
around the master as the slave. The time has passed by when African blood
alone is enslaved. In Virginia as well as in some other slave States,
there is as much European blood in the veins of the enslaved as there is
African; and the increase is constantly in favor of the white population.
This fact alone speaks volumes, and should remind the slave-breeding
Southerner of that fearful retribution which must sooner or later overtake

In September, 1817, I commenced business in Rochester. Having rented a
room of Mr. A. Wakely, I established a meat market, which was supplied
mostly by my former employer, Mr. Comstock, and was liberally patronized
by the citizens; but there were butchers in the village who appeared to be
unwilling that I should have any share in public patronage. Sometimes they
tore down my sign, at others painted it black, and so continued to annoy
me until after I had one of their number arrested, which put a stop to
their unmanly proceedings.

The village was now rapidly increasing, and yet the surrounding country
was mostly a wilderness. Mr. E. Stone, who then owned the land on the east
side of the river, thought his farm a very poor one; he, however,
commenced clearing it in the midst of wild beasts and rattlesnakes, both
of which were abundant, and in a few years was richly rewarded for his
labor, in the sale of village lots, which commanded high prices.

In the summer of 1818, I commenced teaching a Sabbath School for the
neglected children of our oppressed race. For a while it was well
attended, and I hoped to be able to benefit in some measure the poor and
despised colored children, but the parents interested themselves very
little in the undertaking, and it shortly came to naught. So strong was
the prejudice then existing against the colored people, that very few of
the negroes seemed to have any courage or ambition to rise from the abject
degradation in which the estimation of the white man had placed him.

This year, also, I purchased a lot of land, eighteen by fifty feet,
situated on Main street, for which I was to pay five hundred dollars.
Having secured my land, I began making preparations for building, and
soon had a good two story dwelling and store, into which I moved my
effects, and commenced a more extensive business.

Some disadvantage as well as sport was occasioned on business men, who
resided on the confines of Ontario and Genesee Counties. It was indeed
laughable to witness the races and maneuvering of parties in those days
when men were imprisoned for debt. If a man in Ontario County had a
suspicion that an officer was on his track, he had only to step over the
line into Genesee, to be beyond the power of an officer's precept.

A great deal of trouble as well as unpleasant feeling was engendered by
the exercise of that law, which allowed the creditor so great advantage
over the debtor. This, together with the fact that very many of the
citizens of Rochester were men of small means, the more wealthy portion
felt called upon to protect their interests, by forming themselves into
what was called a "Shylock Society," the object of which was to obtain a
list of all the names of persons who had been, or were then, on "the
limits" for debt. This list of names was printed, and each member of the
society furnished with a copy, which enabled him to decide whether or not
to trust a man when he came to trade. The formation of this society gave
rise to another, whose members pledged themselves to have no dealing with
a member of the "Shylock Society," and also to publish all defaulters in
"high life," which served to check these oppressive measures and restore

Among others who came to settle in the thriving village of Rochester, was
a colored man named Daniel Furr, who came from the East. He soon became
acquainted with a very respectable young white lady, of good family, who
after a short acquaintance appeared to be perfectly enamored of her dusky
swain; and notwithstanding the existing prejudice, she did not scruple to
avow her affection for him,--a devotion which appeared to be as sincerely
returned by the young "Othello." They resolved to marry; but to this,
serious objections arose, and all that the lady's family and friends could
do to break off the match was done, but without effect. They could,
however, prevail on no one to perform the marriage ceremony in the
village, and finally concluded to go to a magistrate in the town of
Brighton, four miles distant. At this stage of the proceedings I was
appealed to, to accompany them. I took the matter into consideration and
came to the conclusion that I could take no active part in the affair, nor
bear any responsible station in the unpleasant occurrence. Is it no sin in
the sight of the Almighty, for Southern gentlemen(?) to mix blood and
amalgamate the races? And if allowed to them, is it not equally
justifiable when the commerce is prompted by affection rather than that of
lust and force? But I at length consented to accompany them, after
learning that all the mischief was already done that could be feared, and
that the gallant lover desired to marry the lady as the only atonement he
could make for the loss of her reputation.

We arrived at the house of the magistrate about one o'clock at night, and
all were soundly sleeping. They were, however, aroused, and when our
business was made known, an exciting scene followed. The magistrate
refused at first to marry them; and the lady of the house took aside the
intended bride, spending two hours in endeavoring to dissuade her from the
contemplated union; assuring her that her house should be freely opened to
her, that no attention should be spared during her expected confinement,
&c.; but all to no purpose. They returned to the parlor where the
magistrate again tried his power of persuasion, but with as little success
as his lady had met: and then he reluctantly married them. The newly-made
husband paid a liberal fee, and we took our leave. I returned to my home
to reflect on the scenes of the past night, and Mr. and Mrs. Furr to the
house of a friend of the bride in Penfield.

The report soon reached the village that the marriage had been
consummated, which produced a great excitement. Threats of an alarming
character were openly made against the "nigger" who had dared to marry a
white woman, although at her own request. And there was also a class of
persons who associated together, professing great friendship for the
persecuted husband, and often drew him into their company, pretending to
defend his cause while they were undoubtedly plotting his destruction.

One day, after Furr had been drinking rather freely with his pretended
friends, he was taken so violently ill, that a physician was immediately
called. I was with him when the doctor arrived. He gazed upon the
suffering man with an angry expression, and inquired in a tone of command,
"Daniel, what have you been doing?" In vain the poor creature begged for
relief, the doctor merely repeating his question. After looking at him for
some time, he finally administered a potion and hastily left the room,
saying as he did so, "that Furr was as sure to die as though his head had
been cut off." And so it proved, though not so speedily as the medical man
had predicted; nor did he ever visit him again, notwithstanding he
lingered for several days in the most intense agony. It was a strong man
grappling with disease and death, and the strife was a fearful one. But
death at last ended the scene, with none of all his professed friends,
except his faithful but heart-broken wife, to administer to his
necessities. No sound save that of the moaning widow broke the stillness
of his death-chamber. A few friends collected, who prepared the emaciated
body for the grave; enclosing it in a rude board coffin it was conveyed to
its last resting place, followed by three or four men, just as the shades
of evening had fallen upon this sin-cursed world; there in darkness and
silence we lowered his remains, and left the gloomy spot to return to his
disconsolate wife, who had been too ill to join the meager procession.

It has ever been my conviction that Furr was poisoned, most likely by some
of his false friends who must have mingled some deadly drug with his
drinks or food; nor do I believe that the medicine administered by the
physician was designed to save his life. But to Him who knoweth all
things, we leave the matter.

His despised, forsaken, and bereaved wife soon followed him to the grave,
where she sleeps quietly with her innocent babe by her side; and where
probably this second Desdemonia finds the only refuge which would have
been granted her by a heartless and persecuting world.

Oh, when will this nation "cease to do evil and learn to do well?" When
will they judge character in accordance with its moral excellence, instead
of the complexion a man unavoidably bears to the world?



After long petitioning, the inhabitants of that section succeeded in
having the new county of Monroe set off from Genesee and Ontario Counties,
in 1821, which gave a new impulse to the business interests of the already
flourishing town, which had heretofore labored under some disadvantages in
consequence of having all public business done at Canandaigua or Batavia.

About this time, too, was the Carthage bridge built by a company of
enterprising gentlemen of that village which at that day was considered
one of the wonders of the age; but as its history is well known to all
interested in the enterprises of those days, it is only necessary to say,
that the magnificent structure, so grand in its appearance, such a pattern
of mechanical ingenuity, exhibiting in all its vast proportions, both
strength and beauty, combined with utility and grandeur; and erected at
such an enormous expense of time, labor, and cash, was destined soon to

It had cost some ten thousand dollars; and had been warranted by the
builders to stand one year. How great then must have been the loss and
disappointment when in a little more than twenty-four hours after the time
specified, the ruins of that beautiful structure were found floating on
the broad bosom of the Genesee! And yet when we take into consideration
the vast amount of human life which hourly passed over its solid surface,
we can but wonder at the intervention of a kind Providence which prevented
any loss of life at the time of its fall. A child had but just passed over
it, when with one general crash it sank to the waters below; mocking in
its rapid flight, the wisdom of the architect and foresight of frail
humanity. The fall of Carthage bridge was indeed a calamity felt by the
public generally, and sounded the death-knell of all future greatness to
Carthage, or at least for some years to come.

About this time the village was thrown into a state of excitement by the
arrest of a colored woman named Ellen, who it was charged had escaped from
service due to a Mr. D., south of Mason and Dixon's Line. She had been
arrested in accordance with a law passed by Congress in 1793, which
forbids persons owing service in one State to flee to another; and which
also obliges those receiving such service, to render to the claimant
any fugitive from labor due, &c. Poor Ellen! She had many friends and able
counsel, but nothing short of an open violation of the law of the land,
could prevent her return to the house of bondage. She was tried and given
up to him who claimed dominion over her. Hopeless and heart-broken, she
was escorted from the boasted land and village of freedom, by a company of
the "Light Horse," under the command of Capt. Curtis. One poor, persecuted
slave woman, upon whose heart had fallen a shadow darker than death's;
driving every earthly hope of liberty from her wounded spirit; helpless
and forlorn! She indeed must have required this military parade--this
show of power! And that too, by men who throw up their caps with a shout
for freedom and equal rights! Oh, "consistency, thou art a jewel!"

As I recollect but one other incident of the kind occurring in Rochester,
I will now name it.

A colored man named Davis, generally known as "Doctor Davis," with a
reputation unsullied for industry, truth and sobriety, was arrested as a
fugitive from slave labor in Kentucky. Two men came on from that State,
acting in the double capacity of agents for the claimant and witnesses
against the slave. They employed Mr. L. as counsel, and hastened on the
trial of the afflicted African. When it became generally known that Davis
was arrested, and about to be tried, the excitement grew intense among all
classes; but more particularly among the colored people. When the trial
came on, the Court room was crowded to overflowing, and every avenue
leading to it densely thronged with deeply anxious persons, assembled to
witness the result. It became evident, however, that the poor man must be
given up to his grasping master, unless some means were devised to rescue
him from the power of an unjust law. His friends were on the alert, and as
the trial proceeded, the colored men found an opportunity to get him into
a corner of the crowded apartment; where, while the officers stood at the
door, they dressed him in disguise, and otherwise so completely changed
his personal appearance, that he passed out of the Court room, undetected
by the officers, and as all supposed was safely pursuing his way to

The hawk-eyed counsel for the Kentuckians, however, too soon observed
exultation written on every dusky countenance, to keep quiet. Starting to
his feet in great alarm, he cried out "Where is Davis?" And oh, how that
question startled every one present. Every eye gazed hither and thither,
and every ear intently listened for the answer. After a moment of
breathless silence, the excited counselor was assured that the "bird had
flown," which announcement was received with a rapturous shout of joy by
the audience, greatly, however, to the discomfiture of the gentlemen from
Kentucky, who had thought themselves so sure of their prize. Nor would
they be thwarted now. It was not yet too late to overtake their victim,
and slavery required at their hands a sacrifice which they were ready to
make. Hand-bills were in immediate circulation, offering a reward of fifty
dollars for the apprehension of the flying fugitive. Fifty dollars, for
the body and soul of a man to plunge into the degradation of Slavery!
Fifty dollars for the ruin of a fellow being, for whom Christ gave his
precious life! Yes, fifty dollars are offered to any human blood-hound who
will hunt and worry the poor slave, who must fly from this boasted land of
liberty, to seek protection in the dominion of England's Queen!

Unfortunately for Davis, some of these hand-bills were thrown on board the
very packet on which he had embarked for Buffalo; nor was this all. The
bills would have left him uninjured, but a scoundrel--an apology for a
man--was there also, who, for the consideration of fifty dollars was
willing to compromise all pretensions to manhood and humanity, and drag
from the boat the panting slave, whom he cast beneath the heel of his
oppressor. When Davis was finally retaken, those Kentucky dealers in human
chattels, held him with a grasp that banished all hope of escape by
flight; and then in his sorrow and despair the wretched, hopeless man
cried out "Oh, my God, must I return to the hell of Slavery? Save me, Oh,
dear Lord, save this, thy helpless, friendless servant, from a fate so
dreadful! Oh, Christian friends and neighbors, I appeal to you to rescue
me from a life far more terrible than death in any form! Oh, God, is there
no protection for me in the laws of New York? I claim it, by all that is
sacred in her past history! Give me liberty or death! or death!" he
repeated, with a shudder; then casting one glance of hopeless agony on his
persecutors, he secretly drew from his pocket a razor, and before he could
be prevented he drew it across his throat, and fell gasping in the midst
of his slave-hunting tormentors, while a collection of bystanders cried
"Shame! shame! on the institution of Slavery!"

Poor Davis was not dead, but supposing he soon would be, these gentlemen
were requested to give security, and indemnify the town for all expenses
it might incur on Davis' account. But instead of giving their bond as
requested, they took a sudden start for Kentucky, where it was very
generally desired they might remain.

With good treatment, Davis, after a long time, recovered sufficiently to
be removed by his friends to a place of safety; and when so far restored
as to be able he returned to Rochester, where he received assistance which
enabled him to reach Canada. I have often heard from him during his
residence in that country, where no slaves exist and he has done well,
having quite an extensive practice in medicine, and lives in the quiet
enjoyment of that liberty which he struggled so hard to obtain and came so
near losing; yet, to this day he prefers death to Slavery. And who does
not? None, who have breathed the air of freedom after an experience of
unrequited toil to enrich a brutal and selfish master. Truly is it said,
"a contented slave is a degraded being."



I must again introduce to the kind reader my old master, Capt. Helm, who
we left residing in Bath, several years ago. And as I have before
intimated he had now become a very poor man; indeed so reduced was he now
that he lived with one of his slave women, and was supported by public
charity! Learning, too, that I had saved by my industry a few hundred
dollars, it seemed very congenial with his avaricious habits to endeavor
to obtain what I possessed. In accordance with his plan he employed a
lawyer named Lewland to come to my place of business, which he did, and
demanded of me to pay Capt. Helm two hundred dollars. He also left a
notice, forbidding all persons to take or destroy any property in my
possession; and then impudently inquired how I expected to gain my
freedom; if I thought of applying for a writ of _habaeus corpus_; and many
other questions; to which I replied that I should pay no money on the
order of Capt. Helm; apply for no writ; but should continue to maintain my
personal rights and enjoy the freedom which was already mine, and which I
designed to keep, assuring him that the Captain had forfeited his claim,
if he had any, to me or my services, when he hired me to Mr. Tower.

He hung about me for a day or two, and then left me to pursue my business
--I saw no more of him. Some time afterward Mr. H.E. Rochester informed me
that he had a _subpoena_ for me, which I found was issued by the
direction of Capt. Helm. By Mr. Rochester's counsel, I took it to Mr. A.
Sampson, who assured me that my old master had commenced a suit against me
in the Court of Equity, and the case would be tried before Wm. B.
Rochester, Esq., who was one of the circuit judges. Capt. Helm claimed
every particle of property I possessed; a claim that occasioned me great
anxiety and some cost.

Mr. Sampson encouraged me to hope, however, that the case would be
dismissed as two other cases of that kind had been.

I labored to the best of my ability to prepare myself for the trial, which
was to decide whether I had a right to possess myself and command my own
services and earnings, or whether all belonged to Capt. Helm. As I looked
forward with anxious forebodings to the day appointed for the suit to
commence, I was startled by the announcement of my old master's _death_!
Yes, Capt. Helm was dead; and with him died the law suit. He who had so
wronged me, who had occasioned me so much suffering and sorrow had gone to
his account. He who had once been thought to be one of the wealthiest as
well as one of the greatest men in the county, died a pauper--neglected
and despised, and scarcely awarded a decent burial. Like his wife, who
died such a horrid death, he had been reared in affluence and was an
inheritor of vast possessions, but his home was in a slave State; he was
raised on a plantation, and nurtured in the atmosphere of Slavery.

In his youth he had contracted the habit of drinking to excess, beside
that of gambling, horse-racing and the like, which followed him through
life. Forgotten and scorned in his poverty by many who had partaken of his
abundance, sipped his wine, and rode his fast horses.

During the last war his princely mansion was ever open to the officers of
the army, and many a wounded soldier has been cheered and comforted by his
hospitality. But now he is regarded as no better than his poorest slave,
and lies as lowly as they, in the narrow house appointed for all the

My old master had two brothers: the oldest, Thomas Helm, was a Captain in
the United States Army, and had been in many hard-fought battles. His
younger brother, William, was a Captain also; but Thomas was the man to
awaken curiosity. I have lived with him, but never knew of his going
unarmed for an hour, until he left Virginia and came to Steuben County,
where he died. When at the South, I have seen strangers approach him, but
they were invariably commanded to "stand" and to "approach him at their
peril." He finally came to the State of New York, bringing with him his
"woman" with whom he lived, and two children, with whom he settled on a
piece of land given him by my old master, where the old soldier lived,
died, and was buried on one of his small "clearings" under an old apple
tree. He owned a few slaves, but at his death his "woman" collected every
thing she could, and among the rest, two or three slave children, to whom
she had no right or claim whatever, and made her way to Kentucky. About a
year ago I visited the spot where the brave old defender of his country
had been buried, but found very little to mark the resting place of the
brother of my old master. They had passed away. Their wealth, power and
bravery had come to nought; and no tribute was now paid to the memory of
one of "Old Virginia's best families." The _blood_ of which they were wont
to boast, was now no more revered than that which commingled with the
African and circulated in the veins of his despised and downtrodden



As time passed on I found myself progressing in a profitable business. I
had paid for my house and lot, and purchased another adjoining, on which I
had erected a valuable brick building. The Lord prospered all my
undertakings and I felt grateful for my good fortune. I kept all kinds of
groceries and grain, which met a ready sale; and now I began to look about
me for a partner in life, to share my joys and sorrows, and to assist me
on through the tempestuous scenes of a life-long voyage. Such a companion
I found in the intelligent and amiable Miss B----, to whom I was married
on the eleventh of May, 1825. She was the youngest daughter of a
particular friend, who had traveled extensively and was noted for his
honesty and intelligence.

About this time, too, "Sam Patch" made his last and fatal leap from a
scaffold twenty five feet above the falls of Genesee, which are ninety-six
feet in height. From thence he plunged into the foaming river to rise no
more in life. The following spring the body of the foolish man was found
and buried, after having lain several months in the turbulent waters of
the Genesee.

This year was also rendered memorable by the efficient labors of Professor
Finney, through whose faithful preaching of the gospel, many were brought
to a saving knowledge of the truth.

The "Emancipation Act" had now been passed, and the happy time for it to
take effect was drawing nigh. Slavery could no longer exist in the Empire
State nor receive the protection of her laws. Would to God it had so
continued to be what it professed--the refuge of the bondman and the home
of the free. But alas! Now the flying fugitive from Slavery finds no
security within her borders; he must flee onward, to the dominion of
Queen Victoria, ere he rests, lest the exaction of the odious "Fugitive
Slave Law" return him to the house of bondage.

But the Emancipation Bill had been passed, and the colored people felt it
to be a time fit for rejoicing. They met in different places and
determined to evince their gratitude by a general celebration. In
Rochester they convened in large numbers, and resolved to celebrate the
glorious day of freedom at Johnson's Square, on the _fifth_ day of July.
This arrangement was made so as not to interfere with the white population
who were everywhere celebrating the day of their independence--"the
Glorious Fourth,"--for amid the general and joyous shout of liberty,
prejudice had sneeringly raised the finger of scorn at the poor African,
whose iron bands were loosed, not only from English oppression, but the
more cruel and oppressive power of Slavery.

They met according to previous appointment, Mr. A. H----, having been
chosen president, Mr. H. E----, marshal, and Mr. H. D----, reader of the
"Act of Emancipation," and "The Declaration of Independence." A large
audience of both white and colored people assembled, and the day which had
been ushered in by the booming cannon, passed by in the joyous realization
that we were indeed free men. To the music of the band the large
procession marched from the square to the hotel, where ample provision was
made for dinner, after listening to the following oration, which I had
been requested to deliver.

I must not omit to mention that on the morning of that happy day, a
committee of colored men waited upon the Hon. Matthew Brown, and in behalf
of the citizens of Monroe County, presented their thanks for his noble
exertions in the Legislature, in favor of the Act by which thousands were
made free men.

They were received by that worthy gentleman with grateful and pleasing
assurances of his continued labor in behalf of freedom.

Now I will lay before the reader my address to the audience on that
eventful day.



The age in which we live is characterised in no ordinary degree, by a
certain boldness and rapidity in the march of intellectual and political
improvements. Inventions the most surprising; revolutions the most
extraordinary, are springing forth, and passing in quick succession before
us,--all tending most clearly to the advancement of mankind towards that
state of earthly perfection and happiness, from which they are yet so far
distant, but of which their nature and that of the world they inhabit,
are most certainly capable. It is at all times pleasing and instructive
to look backward by the light of history, and forward by the light of
analogical reasoning, to behold the gradual advancement of man from
barbarism to civilization, from civilization toward the higher perfections
of his nature; and to hope--nay, confidently believe, that the time is not
far distant when liberty and equal rights being everywhere established,
morality and the religion of the gospel everywhere diffused,--man shall
no longer lift his hand for the oppression of his fellow man; but all,
mutually assisting and assisted, shall move onward throughout the journey
of human life, like the peaceful caravan across the burning sands of
Arabia. And never, on this glorious anniversary, so often and so
deservedly celebrated by millions of free men, but which we are to-day for
the first time called to celebrate--never before, has the eye been able to
survey the past with so much satisfaction, or the future with hopes and
expectations so brilliant and so flattering; it is to us a day of two-fold
joy. We are men, though the strong hand of prejudice and oppression is
upon us; we can, and we will rejoice in the advancement of the rapidly
increasing happiness of mankind, and especially of our own race. We can,
and we will rejoice in the growing power and glory of the country we
inhabit. Although Almighty God has not permitted us to remain in the land
of our forefathers and our own, the glories of national independence, and
the sweets of civil and religious liberty, to their full extent; but the
strong hand of the spoiler has borne us into a strange land, yet has He of
His great goodness given us to behold those best and noblest of his gifts
to man, in their fairest and loveliest forms; and not only have we beheld
them, but we have already felt much of their benignant influence. Most
of us have hitherto enjoyed many, very many of the dearest rights of
freemen. Our lives and personal liberties have been held as sacred and
inviolable; the rights of property have been extended to us, in this land
of freedom; our industry has been, and still is, liberally rewarded; and
so long as we live under a free and happy government which denies us not
the protection of its laws, why should we fret and vex ourselves because
we have had no part in framing them, nor anything to do with their
administration. When the fruits of the earth are fully afforded us, we do
not wantonly refuse them, nor ungratefully repine because we have done
nothing towards the cultivation of the tree which produces them. No, we
accept them with lively gratitude; and their sweetness is not embittered
by reflecting upon the manner in which they were obtained. It is the
dictate of sound wisdom, then, to enjoy without repining, the freedom,
privileges, and immunities which wise and equal laws have awarded us--nay,
proudly to rejoice and glory in their production, and stand ready at all
times to defend them at the hazard of our lives, and of all that is most
dear to us.

But are we alone shut out and excluded from any share in the
administration of government? Are not the clergy, a class of men equally
ineligible to office? A class of men almost idolized by their countrymen,
ineligible to office! And are we alone excluded from what the world
chooses to denominate polite society? And are not a vast majority of the
polar race excluded? I know not why, but mankind of every age, nation, and
complexion have had lower classes; and, as a distinction, they have chosen
to arrange themselves in the grand spectacle of human life, like seats in
a theater--rank above rank, with intervals between them. But if any
suppose that happiness or contentment is confined to any single class,
or that the high or more splendid order possesses any substantial
advantage in those respects over their more lowly brethren, they must be
wholly ignorant of all rational enjoyment. For what though the more humble
orders cannot mingle with the higher on terms of equality. This, if
rightly considered, is not a curse but a blessing. Look around you, my
friends: what rational enjoyment is not within your reach? Your homes are
in the noblest country in the world, and all of that country which your
real happiness requires, may at any time be yours. Your industry can
purchase it; and its righteous laws will secure you in its possession.
But, to what, my friends, do you owe all these blessings? Let not the
truth be concealed. You owe them to that curse, that bitter scourge of
Africa, whose partial abolishment you are this day convened to celebrate.
Slavery has been your curse, but it shall become your rejoicing. Like the
people of God in Egypt, you have been afflicted; but like them too, you
have been redeemed. You are henceforth free as the mountain winds. Why
should we, on this day of congratulation and joy, turn our view upon the
origin of African Slavery? Why should we harrow up our minds by dwelling
on the deceit, the forcible fraud and treachery that have been so long
practised on your hospitable and unsuspecting countrymen? Why speak of
fathers torn from the bosom of their families, wives from the embraces of
their husbands, children from the protection of their parents; in fine, of
all the tender and endearing relations of life dissolved and trampled
under foot, by the accursed traffic in human flesh? Why should we
remember, in joy and exultation, the thousands of our countrymen who are
to-day, in this land of gospel light, this boasted land of civil and
religious liberty, writhing under the lash and groaning beneath the
grinding weight of Slavery's chain? I ask, Almighty God, are they who do
such things thy chosen and favorite people? But, away with such thoughts
as these; we will rejoice, though sobs interrupt the songs of our
rejoicing, and tears mingle in the cup we pledge to Freedom; our harps
though they have long hung neglected upon the willows, shall this day be
strung full high to the notes of gladness. On this day, in one member at
least of this mighty Republic, the Slavery of our race has ceased forever!
No more shall the insolent voice of a master be the main-spring of our
actions, the sole guide of our conduct; no more shall their hands labor in
degrading and profitless servitude. Their toils will henceforth be
voluntary, and be crowned with the never failing reward of industry.
Honors and dignities may perhaps never be ours; but wealth, virtue, and
happiness are all within the compass of our moderate exertions. And how
shall we employ a few moments better than in reflecting upon the means by
which these are to be obtained. For what can be more proper and more
profitable to one who has just gained an invaluable treasure, than to
consider how he may use it to the best possible advantage? And here I
need not tell you that a strict observance to all the precepts of the
gospel ought to be your first and highest aim; for small will be the value
of all that the present world can bestow, if the interests of the world to
come are neglected and despised. None of you can be ignorant of what the
gospel teaches. Bibles may easily be obtained; nor can there be a greater
disgrace, or a more shameful neglect of duty than for a person of mature
age, and much more, for any father of a family to be without that most
precious of all books--the Bible. If, therefore, any of you are destitute
of a Bible, hasten to procure one. Will any of you say that it can be of
no use to you, or that you cannot read it? Look then to that noblest of
all remedies for this evil, the Sunday School--that most useful of all
institutions. There you may learn without loss of time or money, that of
which none should be ignorant--to read.

Let me exhort you with earnestness to give your most sincere attention to
this matter. It is of the utmost importance to every one of you. Let your
next object be to obtain as soon as may be, a competency of the good
things of this world; immense wealth is not necessary for you, and would
but diminish your real happiness. Abject poverty is and ought to be
regarded as the greatest, most terrible of all possible evils. It should
be shunned as a most deadly and damning sin. What then are the means by
which so dreadful a calamity may be avoided? I will tell you, my friends,
in these simple words--hear and ponder on them; write them upon the
tablets of your memory; they are worthy to be inscribed in letters of gold
upon every door-post--"industry, prudence, and economy." Oh! they are
words of power to guide you to respectability and happiness. Attend, then,
to some of the laws which industry impose, while you have health and
strength. Let not the rising sun behold you sleeping or indolently lying
upon your beds. Rise ever with the morning light; and, till sun-set, give
not an hour to idleness. Say not human nature cannot endure it. It can--it
almost requires it. Sober, diligent, and moderate labor does not diminish
it, but on the contrary, greatly adds to the health, vigor, and duration
of the human frame. Thousands of the human race have died prematurely of
disease engendered by indolence and inactivity. Few, very few indeed,
have suffered by the too long continuance of bodily exertion. As you give
the day to labor, so devote the night to rest; for who that has drunk and
reveled all night at a tippling shop, or wandered about in search of
impious and stolen pleasures, has not by so doing not only committed a
most heinous and damning sin in the sight of Heaven, but rendered himself
wholly unfit for the proper discharge of the duties of the coming day. Nor
think that industry or true happiness do not go hand in hand; and to him
who is engaged in some useful avocation, time flies delightfully and
rapidly away. He does not, like the idle and indolent man, number the slow
hours with sighs--cursing both himself and them for the tardiness of their
flight. Ah, my friends, it is utterly impossible for him who wastes time
in idleness, ever to know anything of true happiness. Indolence, poverty,
wretchedness, are inseparable companions,--fly them, shun idleness, as
from eminent and inevitable destruction. In vain will you labor unless
prudence and economy preside over and direct all your exertions. Remember
at all times that money even in your own hands, is power; with it you may
direct as you will the actions of your pale, proud brethren. Seek after
and amass it then, by just and honorable means; and once in your hand
never part with it but for a full and fair equivalent; nor let that
equivalent be something which you do not want, and for which you cannot
obtain more than it cost you. Be watchful and diligent and let your mind
be fruitful in devises for the honest advancement of your worldly
interest. So shall you continually rise in respectability, in rank and
standing in this so late and so long the land of your captivity.

Above all things refrain from the excessive use of ardent spirits. There
is no evil whose progress is so imperceptible; and at the same time so
sure and deadly, as that of intemperance; and by slow degrees it
undermines health, wealth, and happiness, till all at length tumble into
one dreadful mass of ruin. If God has given you children, he has in so
doing imposed upon you a most fearful responsibility; believe me, friends,
you will answer to God for every misfortune suffered, and every crime
committed by them which right education and example could have taught them
to avoid. Teach them reverence and obedience to the laws both of God and
man. Teach them sobriety, temperance, justice, and truth. Let their minds
be rightly instructed--imbued with kindness and brotherly love, charity,
and benevolence. Let them possess at least so much learning as is to be
acquired in the common schools of the country. In short, let their
welfare be dearer to you than any earthly enjoyment; so shall they be the
richest of earthly blessings.

My countrymen, let us henceforth remember that we are men. Let us as one
man, on this day resolve that henceforth, by continual endeavors to do
good to all mankind, we will claim for ourselves the attention and respect
which as men we should possess. So shall every good that can be the
portion of man, be ours--this life shall be happy, and the life to come,

       *       *       *       *       *

The opinion of the public regarding the celebration and performances of
that day, together with the behavior of the colored people, will be seen
by the following short extract from the _Rochester Daily Advertiser_,
published soon after the occurrence of those events:


"The extinction of that curse by the laws of our State, was marked
with appropriate rejoicings on the part of the African race in this
neighborhood. A procession of considerable length and respectable
appearance, preceded by a band of music, moved from Brown's Island through
the principal streets to the public square, yesterday forenoon, where a
stage and seats were erected, for the speakers and audience. The throne of
Grace was addressed by the Rev. Mr. Allen, a colored clergyman. The act
declaring all slaves free in this State, on the fourth day of July, 1827,
was read, which was succeeded by the reading of the Declaration of
Independence and delivery of an oration by Mr. Steward. We have heard but
one opinion from several gentlemen who were present, and that was highly
complimentary to the composition and delivery of the same.

"The exercises were concluded by a short discourse from the Rev. Mr.
Allen, and the procession moved off to partake of an entertainment
prepared for the occasion. The thing was got up in good order, and passed
off remarkably well. The conduct of the emancipated race was exemplary
throughout, and if their future enjoyment of freedom be tinctured with the
prudence that characterised their celebration of its attainment, the
country will have no reason to mourn the philanthropy that set them free."

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus ended our first public celebration of our own and our country's
freedom. All conducted themselves with the strictest propriety and
decorum, retiring to their homes soberly and in proper season.



Pursuant to a call given in the summer of 1830, by the colored residents
of Philadelphia, for a National Convention of their race, I started in
company with a friend to attend it; having previously engaged seats inside
Mr. Coe's stage-coach as far as Utica, N.Y., to which place we had paid
our fare the same as other passengers.

We rode on to Auburn very pleasantly, but when at that place, we with
others moved to resume our seats; we were met by a stern rebuke for
presuming to seat ourselves on the inside, and were ordered to ride on the
outside of the coach. In vain we expostulated; in vain we reminded the
driver of the agreement, and of our having paid for an inside seat; we
were told to take the outside of the coach or remain behind.

Desiring to attend the convention, we concluded to go on, submitting to
this rank injustice and dishonesty, until our return, when we determined
to sue the proprietor of that line of stages. An opportunity was offered
soon after, when I commenced a suit for damages against Mr. Sherwood, who
was the great stage proprietor of those days. He, however, cleared himself
by declaring that he was in no way responsible for the failures of Mr.
Coe, to whom I must look for remuneration. I never found it convenient to
sue Mr. Coe, and so the matter ended.

We passed through New York City to the place of our destination, where we
found many of our brethren already assembled.

Philadelphia, which I now saw for the first time, I thought the most
beautiful and regularly laid out city I ever beheld. Here had lived the
peaceable, just, and merciful William Penn; and here many of his adherents
still reside. Here, too, was the place where the Rt. Rev. Bishop Allen,
the first colored American bishop in the United States, had labored so
successfully. When the Methodists sought to crush by cruel prejudice the
poor African, he stepped boldly forward in defence of their cause, which
he sustained, with a zeal and talent ever to be revered.

Thousands were brought to a knowledge of the truth, and induced "to seek
first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness," through his
instrumentality. Through the benign influence of this good man, friends
and means were raised for his poor brethren, to build houses of worship,
where they would no more be dragged from their knees when in prayer, and
told to seat themselves by the door. Oh, how much good can one good and
faithful man do, when devoted to the cause of humanity--following in the
footsteps of the blessed Christ; doing unto others as they would be done
by; and remembering those in bonds as bound with them. What though his
skin be black as ebony, if the heart of a brother beats in his bosom? Oh,
that man could judge of character as does our Heavenly Father; then would
he judge righteous judgment, and cease to look haughtily down upon his
afflicted fellow, because "his skin is colored not like his own."

We convened at the specified time, and organized by appointing Rev. R.
Allen, president, A. Steward, vice-president, and J.C. Morrell, secretary.
The convention which continued in session three days, was largely attended
by all classes of people, and many interesting subjects were ably
discussed; but the most prominent object was the elevation of our race.
Resolutions were passed calculated to encourage our brethren to take some
action on the subjects of education and mechanism. Agricultural pursuits
were also recommended;--and here allow me to give my opinion in favor of
the latter, as a means of sustenance and real happiness.

I knew many colored farmers, all of whom are well respected in the
neighborhood of their residence. I wish I could count them by hundreds;
but our people mostly flock to cities where they allow themselves to be
made "hewers of wood and drawers of water;" barbers and waiters,--when, if
they would but retire to the country and purchase a piece of land,
cultivate and improve it, they would be far richer and happier than they
can be in the crowded city. It is a mistaken idea that there is more
prejudice against color in the country. True, it exists everywhere, but I
regard it less potent in the country, where a farmer can live less
dependant on his oppressors. The sun will shine, the rains descend, and
the earth bring forth her increase, just as readily for the colored
agriculturist as for his pale face neighbor. Yes, and our common mother
Earth will, when life is ended, as readily open her bosom to receive your
remains in a last embrace, as that of the haughty scorner of our rights.

In the city, however, there is no escape from the crushing weight of
prejudice, to ramble over fields of your own cultivation; to forget your
sorrows in the refreshing air that waves the loaded branches of an orchard
of your own planting; nor to solace yourself with a gambol over the green
meadow with your little ones. It is all toil, toil, with a burthened heart
until shadows fall across the hearth-stone, and dismal forebodings darken
the fireside, from whence the weary wife retires to refresh herself in
broken slumber for the renewed toil of another day. Will not my friends
think of these and many other advantages in favor of a country life, and
practice accordingly?

After the close of the convention, I returned to my business in Rochester.

Until the discussion, which commenced about this time on the subject of
temperance, I had been engaged, as most other grocers were at that time,
in the sale of spirituous liquors somewhat extensively. My attention had
never before been called especially to the subject, though I had witnessed
some of its direst evils; but now, when I saw the matter in its true
light, I resolved to give it up. I was doing well and making handsome
profits on the sale of alcoholic beverages. I had also experienced a good
deal of trouble with it. My license allowed me to sell any quantity less
than five gallons; but it was a fine of twenty-five dollars if drunk on
the premises,--one half of the sum to go to the complainant. If a vicious
man got out of funds it became both easy and common for him to give some
person a sixpence, half of which was to be spent for whisky, which made
him a witness for the other, who would make immediate complaint, and
collect his share of the fine. Nor could I prevent men who came with
bottles, and purchased whisky, from drinking it where they pleased;
consequently I was often called to answer to such complaints.

One morning a man entered my store and called for liquor, which the clerk
gave him. After drinking it, he went directly to the office of A. House,
Esq., and entered a complaint against the clerk who had served him; then
stepped out for consultation with his counsel. At that moment I arrived at
the office of the magistrate to whom I immediately made complaint against
myself, relating to him also just how the event happened. In a few minutes
the original complainant returned, to whom 'Squire House explained that he
should have arraigned the proprietor of the store, and not the clerk as he
had done. Determined on making a speculation, however, he demanded a
precept for myself. The 'Squire, laughing most heartily, informed him that
he was too late,--that Mr. Steward had the start of him, having just
entered a complaint against himself, by which he saves one half of the
fine. The man walked out, looking rather "cheap," nor did he or others
annoy me afterwards by making complaints of that kind.

But now I saw, as never before, the sin of selling that which would make
beasts of men, and only stopped to inquire what was duty in the matter.
All the arguments in favor of its sale were more forcible then than now.
All classes of persons used and drank the article; and it required more
moral courage, to relinquish the business than it does now. Nevertheless,
it appeared plain to my mind, that duty to God and my fellow-men required
it, and I cheerfully gave it up forever.

I could not conscientiously, nor do I see how any man can, continue to
traffic in this most fruitful source of pauperism and crime. No benefit
whatever arises from its use as a beverage or from its sale. It is a curse
to the drinker, to the seller, and to the community. Those who are
licensed venders take from the government fifty dollars for every one put
into the treasury. The money paid for licenses is a very meager
compensation for the beggary, crime, and bloodshed which rum produces. All
who have any knowledge of the statistics of the State, or of our prison
and police records know, that intemperance has done more to fill the
prisons, work-houses, alms-houses, and asylums of the State than all other
influences combined; and yet men uphold the traffic. Their favors are for
those who love its use and sale, and their anathemas for him, who is
striving to save a nation of drunkards from swift destruction; yea, their
own sires, sons, and brothers from the grave of the inebriate.

When in Rochester a short time since, soliciting subscribers for this
work, I stepped into a distillery and asked a man to subscribe for it. He
hesitated in his decision until he took a tumbler and filling it with
brandy, invited me to drink. I thanked him, saying I never drink brandy.
"Never drink!" he growled, "then I tell you, sir, that you stand a much
better chance of being struck by lightning than of getting a subscriber
here." Oh, very well; most likely had he agreed to take a copy, he would
have been sorely displeased with my views of the liquor traffic, and
perhaps with the compliment I have here paid him.

But in the foregoing remarks I have said but a tithe of what my heart
feels, when I think of the sufferings occasioned by drunkenness.

Even the cup of the burthened slave, writhing in his chains and toiling
under the lash, is not full of bitterness until the demon rum throws in
its dregs and fills it to overflowing.

How often does it occur that a passionate master, heated with wine,--mad
with himself and all about him, pours out his vengeful ire on the head and
back of some helpless slave, and leaves him weltering in his blood! How
often may be heard the agonized wail of the slave mother, deploring the
departure of some innocent child that has been lost in gambling, while the
master was intoxicated!

How often do the shrieks of the poor but virtuous slave girl, ring through
the midnight air, as she, pleading for death rather than life, rushes
screaming away from a brutal master, infuriated and drunk! If it is a
fact, and certainly it is, that the master is thus affected by his costly
wine; what, think you, will be the temper and condition of the coarse and
heartless overseer who drinks his miserable whisky or bad brandy? It is
horrible, beyond description. I have often myself seen a drunken overseer,
after pouring down dram after dram, mount his horse and ride furiously
among the slaves, beating, bruising, mangling with his heavy cowhide every
one he chanced to meet, until the ground presented the appearance of a



While the colored population of New York were rejoicing in the measure of
freedom allowed them by the more wholesome laws of that State, our
brethren in Ohio were being oppressed and maltreated by the unjust and
odious "black laws" of that professedly free State, enacted with special
reference to the disposition of the colored race.

In Cincinnati, O., within sight of the slave land of Kentucky, a terrible
persecution had commenced, and an effort was made to drive all colored
persons from the place.

Our people had settled there in large numbers, but now a mob had assembled
in that city with the determination to drive them, not only from their
homes and city, but from the State. A bloody conflict ensued, in which the
white and black man's blood mingled freely. So great had been the loss of
property; and go horrid and fearful had been the scene, that our people
chose to leave, rather than remain under such untoward circumstances. They
lived in constant fear of the mob which had so abused and terrified them.
Families seated at the fireside started at every breath of wind, and
trembled at the sound of every approaching footstep. The father left his
family in fear, lest on his return from his daily labor, he should find
his wife and children butchered, and his house left desolate.

Meetings were held to devise plans and means for leaving the place where
they had been so cruelly treated. But where should they go? And why
should they be compelled to leave the State of Ohio? The fact is, that the
African race there, as in all parts of this nominally free Republic, was
looked down upon by the white population as being little above the brute
creation; or, as belonging to some separate class of degraded beings, too
deficient in intellect to provide for their own wants, and must therefore
depend on the superior ability of their oppressors, to take care of them.
Indeed, both the time and talents of eminent men have been wasted in
unsuccessful research for the line of demarcation, between the African and
the highest order of animals,--such for instance as the monkey or the
ourang-outang. Some even, have advanced the absurd idea, that wicked Cain
transmitted to them the "mark" which the Almighty set upon him for the
murder of his brother; and that he, (who then must have survived the
deluge), is the progenitor of that despised and inferior race--the negro
slave of the United States of America!

If it be true, that the natural inferiority of the black man, connects him
so closely with the animal creation, it looks passing strange to me that
he should be made responsible for the violation of laws which he has been
declared too imbecile to aid in framing or of comprehending. Nor is it
less strange to see him enslaved and compelled by his labor to maintain
both his master and himself, after having declared him incapable of doing
either. Why not let him go then? Why hold with an unyielding grasp, so
miserable and useless a piece of property? Is it benevolence that binds
him with his master's chain? Judge ye. Stranger still is the fact of
attaching such vast influence to his presence and so much concern
regarding his movements, when in a state of freedom, if indeed, he is of
so little worth and consequence, and so nearly related to the brutes that

Surely, the Legislature of Ohio, or of any other State, would never feel
called upon to sit in grave counsel, for the purpose of framing laws which
would impose fine and imprisonment on a monkey, should one chance to
locate within its jurisdiction; nor would they think it advisable for the
court to assemble, or a jury to be empanelled, to drive from their midst
an ourang-outang. And yet this and more must be done to get rid of the
hated negro, who has been born in that State, or has fled to it for
protection from the manstealer.

When strangers pass hastily through this country, and after a careless
glance at the colored population, report them to be "an indolent,
improvident, and vicious class of persons," they should consider some of
the many obstacles thrown in the way of the most favored of that race.
Knowing as they do, the rigor of the law, and feeling as they do, the
oppressive power of prejudice, it becomes almost impossible for them
to rise to that station they were designed to fill, and for which their
natural abilities as certainly qualify them, as though they had never
been robbed of their God-given rights. But let us return to our tried
friends in Cincinnati.

They finally resolved to collect what they could of their possessions and
establish a colony in Canada. In accordance with this resolution, they
agreed to first send an agent to obtain liberty to settle there, and if
successful to select and purchase a large tract of land, making such
arrangements as he thought best for their speedy removal to their new
home. Israel Lewis was their appointed agent, who departed immediately for
Upper Canada to perform his mission; and there for the present we will
leave him and return to Rochester.

Our more favored brethren in New York felt a deep sympathy for their
outraged countrymen in Cincinnati; a sympathy equaled only by their
indignation at the cause of such demand.

A meeting expressive of their views and feelings on that subject, was
convened in the city of Rochester during which, the following preamble and
resolutions were read and unanimously adopted:

_Whereas_, The city of Cincinnati has again become the scene of another
dreadful mob and bloodshed, where nothing but terror and confusion reigned
for a number of hours together.

_And Whereas_, Our brethren and fellow citizens were left exposed to the
fury of an ungovernable mob, made up of the base, the ignorant, and vile,
the very dregs of society; and probably led on by slaveholders, who of all
men are the most execrable; while boasting of liberty, he tramples on the
dearest rights of men and in the greatest robber of it on earth.

_Resolved_, That we deprecate an appeal to arms by any class of our fellow
citizens, except in extreme cases, and we think that such a case has been
presented in the late outrage at Cincinnati.

_Resolved_, That when a class of men so far forget the duty they owe to
God, their fellow men, and their country, as to trample under their feet
the very laws they have made, and are in duty bound to obey and execute,
we believe it to be the duty of our brethren and fellow citizens, to
protect their lives against such lawless mobs; and if in the conflict,
any of the mobocrats perish, every good citizen should say Amen.

_Resolved_, That we do truly sympathize with the friends of God's poor;
the friends of the oppressed, throughout this boasted land of liberty, in
the losses they have sustained in consequence of the mob.

_Resolved_, That we believe the time is not far distant, when the _Queen
City of the West_, shall be redeemed from the hateful influence of the
slaveholder; redeemed from that cruel prejudice of caste which, hangs like
a mill-stone around the neck of our people; redeemed from all those
unequal laws, which have a tendency to make the strong stronger and the
weak weaker; redeemed from their falsehearted friends, whose sarcastic
smile is more to be feared than the frowns of an open enemy.

_Resolved_, That the untiring exertions of our friends, and the
indefatigable industry of our brethren, are sure guarantees that the State
of Ohio will not long be what she now is,--a hissing and by-word on
account of her iniquitous laws; but that she will rise above every narrow
minded prejudice, and raise up her sable sons and daughters and place them
on an equality with the rest of her citizens.

_Resolved_, That we deeply deplore the loss our friends have sustained in
the destruction of their printing press in Cincinnati.

_Resolved_, That we as an oppressed people, feel it our duty to give our
undivided support to the press and the laborers in our cause.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Israel Lewis made his way to Canada, and having obtained permission to
establish a colony, he bargained with the Canada Company for one township
of land, for which he agreed to pay the money demanded, in a few days, and
then returned to Cincinnati, by way of Rochester. The poor, persecuted
colored people, had in the mean time made ready for their flight from
their homes, their native land, and from this boasted free Republic, to
seek a residence in the cold and dreary wilds of Canada; to claim that
protection from the English government which had been denied them in the
land of their birth; and like the overtasked Israelites, "they went out
with their wives and their little ones," but with smaller possessions.

During the stay of Mr. Lewis in Rochester, he reported there and
elsewhere, that eleven hundred persons were then in the dense woods of
Canada in a state of actual starvation, and called upon the humane
everywhere, to assist them in such extreme suffering.

To me he also told the story of their destitution, which affected me
deeply. I had at that time just made a public profession of my faith in
the Christian religion and my determination to be governed by its holy
precepts, I felt for the distressed and suffering everywhere; but
particularly for those who had fled, poor and destitute, from cruel
task-masters, choosing rather the sufferings of cold and hunger, with
liberty, than the meager necessities of life and Slavery. I concluded to
go to Canada and try to do some good; to be of some little service in the
great cause of humanity.

As soon as practicable therefore, I left Rochester for Toronto, the
capital of Upper Canada, which I found quite a thriving town, and
containing some fine brick buildings, and some I saw were built of mud,
dried in the sun, wearing rather a poor than pretty appearance. At Toronto
we hired a team to take us on to Ancaster, fifty miles distant. We
traveled now through a new country; the roads were very bad, and the
inhabitants few. We, however, reached Ancaster, a small village, where we
remained one night and next morning pursued our journey to the settlement
of the poor fugitives from Cincinnati. After some hard traveling, we
finally arrived at the place where we found our brethren, it is true, but
in quite destitute circumstances. Our fare was poor indeed, but as good as
they could get. The township was one unbroken wilderness when purchased
for the colony, and of course their lands must be cleared of the heavy
timber before crops could be got in, hence, there was a great deal of
destitution and suffering before their harvest could ripen after the land
was prepared for the seed.

The day after I arrived at the settlement, which consisted of a few rude
log cabins, a meeting was called to give the township a name. Several were
suggested, but I at length motioned to name it in honor of the great
philanthropist, Wilberforce. This was carried, and the township from that
time has been known by that name. It is situated on what is known as the
Huron Tract, Kent County, London District, and is the next north of the
township of London. Our neighbors on the south, were a company of Irish
people, who owned the township, and on the west side were a township of
Welshmen, a hardy, industrious and enterprising people.

In Wilberforce there were no white inhabitants; the land appeared level
and handsome, with but one stream of any magnitude running through it;
this was the Oxsable, which was dry during a part of the year. All was one
vast forest of heavy timber, that would compare well with that of Western
New York. Beech, maple, ash, elm, oak, whitewood, bass, balm of gilead,
&c. The soil was good for corn, wheat, rye, oats, and most kinds of the
grain and vegetables raised in New York, and was a superior grazing
country, about fifteen miles from London. This was a village containing
perhaps thirty dwellings, and two hundred inhabitants; a court-house and
jail all under one roof, built of stone and plastered; small doors and
windows in the style of some of the old English castles. London was built
in the forks, or between the east and west branches of the river Thames;
hence, you would hear people speak of "going to the forks," instead of the
village; it is about two hundred miles from Buffalo, and the nearest port
between the two is Port Stanley, thirty miles from London.

I returned from Canada, where I had seen an oppressed people struggling
with the hardships and privations of a new settlement; I had seen
wretchedness in some places, but by no means sufficient to justify
the report made by Mr. Lewis, and I determined I would remove there with
my family, and do all in my power to assist the colored people in Canada.

I had witnessed a disposition on the part of some to prevent our brethren
from settling in Wilberforce, while the colonizationists made a grand
argument of it in favor of their wicked policy. All must see that it
became a necessity with those who fled to Canada to save themselves from
constant abuse or from Slavery, and in some instances their lives; and not
because they admitted the justice of one portion of American citizens
driving another from their native land; nor their right to colonize them
anywhere on the habitable globe.

All these things taken into consideration, determined me to join them in
the enterprize of building up an asylum for the oppressed, where our
colored friends could obtain a home, and where, by their industry they
could obtain a competency for themselves, besides providing a safe retreat
for the weary fugitive from Slavery; guiding by its beacon light of
liberty, the destitute and oppressed everywhere, to home and plenty.

I felt willing to make any sacrifice in my power to serve my Lord, by
administering to the necessities of my down-trodden countrymen. How far my
desire has been accomplished God only knows, but I do know that the purest
motives influenced me, and an honest purpose directed my steps in removing
to Wilberforce. Not so with all, however. Some there were, Judas-like, who
"cared not for the poor; but because he was a thief and had the bag, and
bore what was put therein," made great exertions for a time in favor of
the settlement. It too soon became apparent that to make money was the
prominent object with by far too great a number of the colonists; hence,
our future difficulties.



In 1830, I closed my business in Rochester, preparatory to leaving for
Canada. Some of my friends thought I had better remain in the States and
direct emigrants to Wilberforce; while others were certain I could benefit
them more by going myself at once,--the latter I had determined to do; but
as the time drew near for me to start, an unaccountable gloominess
and forebodings of evil took possession of my mind. Doubts of the
practicability of the undertaking began to arise, though nothing
unfavorable had occurred. To the throne of grace, I often bore the subject
and besought my Heavenly Father to enlighten my mind, and direct my steps
in duty's path regarding it; but to confess the truth, I never received
any great encouragement from that source, though it occupied my mind
constantly. During the hours of slumber I was continually being startled
by frightful dreams,--sometimes I thought I saw a monstrous serpent as
large as a log stretched across the road between Rochester and the
Genesee River; at another I thought myself in the air so high that I could
have a full view of the shores of Lake Ontario, and they were alive with
snakes; and then I saw a large bird like an eagle, rise up out of the
water and fly toward the south.

Notwithstanding these omens, I turned my steps toward Wilberforce. In May,
1831, we bid adieu to our friends in Rochester, and taking passage to
Buffalo on a canal boat, we arrived in due time, and from whence we sailed
for Port Stanley, or as it is sometimes called, Kettle Creek. It took a
week to make this trip, which, with favorable wind might have been made in
two days. The mouth of the creek makes a safe harbor at that place, where
there is also a dock, one ware-house and several farm houses. The place
was then very wild and picturesque in its appearance; we did not stop
long, however, to admire its beauty, but engaged a farmer to take us on to

Ten miles on our way, and we came to a newly laid out village, called St.
Thomas, from whence we pursued our journey through a new country to
London, where we arrived tired and hungry, and put up for the night with a
Mr. Faden. There I purchased a span of horses for one hundred and fifty
dollars, and putting them before a new lumber wagon brought on from
Rochester, we started for our wild and new home in good spirits, at which
we arrived in good time.

The colony was comprised of some fourteen or fifteen families, and
numbered some over fifty persons in all. The first business done after
my arrival, was to appoint a board of managers, to take the general
oversight of all the public business of the colony. The board consisted of
seven men, chosen by the settlers, and as I was now one of them, they gave
me the office of President. It was also resolved by the board, to send out
two agents for the purpose of soliciting aid for the erection of houses
for worship, and for the maintenance of schools in the colony.

The Rev. N. Paul was chosen one of their agents, and he received from me a
power of attorney, authorising him to collect funds for the above purposes
in England, Ireland, and Scotland; the other, I. Lewis was empowered to
solicit and collect funds for the same objects in the United States.

Preparations were immediately made to fit Mr. Paul out for his mission to
England, from whence he was to remit any funds he might receive to Arthur
Tappan, of New York City; first to pay for his outfit, and afterwards to
the treasurer of the board of managers, for the support of schools in
Wilberforce. Mr. Paul, however, still lacked money to proceed to England,
and therefore went to Rochester, where he found my old and tried friend
Everard Peck; who was ever known as the poor man's friend, and the support
of the weak everywhere. To this good man, whose memory is still dear to
thousands, Mr. Paul showed his power of attorney, at the same time
informing him of the condition and wants of the colony; and as was ever
his wont, when help was needed, his purse, (though not one of the
heaviest), was at his service. Through the kind influence of Mr. Peck, and
some of the colored friends in that city, a note for seven hundred dollars
was drawn up, signed by Mr. P. and cashed at the Bank, which enabled the
agent to make the voyage without further delay. He reached England, and
collected quite large sums of money, but entirely failed in the remittance
of any sums, either to Mr. Tappan or myself. When the note of seven
hundred dollars became due, Mr. Peck was obliged to pay, and lose it. It
was out of my power, nor had any of the friends the means to do any thing
towards paying it, inasmuch as they had assisted Paul all they could and
got nothing in return. There was one thing, however, that the reverend
gentleman did do,--he wrote me from time to time, to keep me advised of
the success of his mission, and once informed me that he had then twelve
hundred dollars on hand; but not a farthing could we get. We wrote him
again and again, reminding him of the bank debt, and the uneasiness of his
friends on account of it, but all to no purpose,--the Atlantic was between
us, and he was making money too easily, to like to be interrupted. He
never paid one dollar.

Let us now look after the other agent, who had likewise been fitted
out, to prosecute his mission in the States. That he collected money
professedly for the assistance of the colony, is too well known to
require proof, but how much, we could not determine; we had reason to
believe, however, that he retained quite a large sum. He would neither pay
it over to the board, nor give any account of his proceedings. Very little
did he ever pay over to the aid of the colony as designed. He was
frequently written to, and every means in our power used, to induce him to
give some account of his mission, but in vain; he would do nothing of the
kind. Things went on in this way for two years, when it became evident
that he had no intention of satisfying the minds of the settlers; and
farther, that he meant to collect what he could, and use it as he pleased.
We learned too, that when abroad, he lived extravagantly,--putting up at
the most expensive hotels, giving parties, and doing many things, not only
beyond his means, but that brought dishonor on the cause and colony. When
he returned to the settlement, he would, if he had funds, make presents to
his particular friends instead of paying it to the treasurer, as he was
pledged to do, until the majority of the colony became thoroughly
disgusted with his heartlessness and dishonesty. It was also perceivable
that Lewis and Paul both, were getting weary of the solicitations of the
board and complaints of the settlers, and were anxious to be rid of them,
and enjoy their ill gotten gains in their own way.

It was never intended by the managers, to send out agents to beg money to
be divided among the colonists; but to support schools, &c. Most of the
settlers were able to work and did so; and were now getting along quite

Finally, after we had tried every means in vain, to get a settlement with
Lewis, and to obtain his papers, there was nothing more we could do, but
to warn the public against him, by publishing the facts in the case; this
we did in various newspapers of Canada and in the States. An article
inserted in the "Rochester Observer," to that effect, was like throwing a
lighted match into a keg of powder. The excitement was intense on the part
of Lewis and his friends, who were joined by the friends of N. Paul, to
destroy, if they could, the board of managers. I, however, being the only
member of that devoted board, who happened to be extensively known in the
States, their anathemas were all poured out on me, and all their energies
brought forward to insure my destruction. They were few in number, it is
true, but they had money, and I had little to spend in litigation;
besides, Lewis was in debt, and his creditors did not like to see his
means of paying them swept away. The Canadians seemed to think there was
no harm done if Lewis did get money out of the "Yankees," as long as it
came into their hands at last, and so, on the whole, they raised a
tremendous storm, designed, however, to sweep nobody away but myself; and
I have continued to this day, notwithstanding all their artful malignity.
Nothing, I am persuaded, could have saved me from imprisonment at that
time, had I not possessed a high reputation for truth and honesty during
my previous sojourn in the colony.

Lewis had dealt somewhat extensively with Mr. Jones, who was the principal
agent for the Canada Company; but failing to fulfil his agreement,
regarding the payment for a large tract of land, it so exasperated Mr.
Jones, that he declared he would have nothing to do with any of the
colored people; and so when I wanted to buy a lot of land, he would not
sell it to me because he so despised Lewis.

How much harm can one wicked man do! and yet it cannot be right to judge
the character of a whole class or community by that of one person.



The "Canada Company," of which I have so frequently spoken, was an
association of wealthy gentlemen, residing in England; something like the
East India Company, especially regarding the title of lands. They had sent
on their agent and purchased a large tract of land known as the "Huron
Tract," extending from London to Lake Huron, where they laid out a
village, named Goderich, sixty miles distant from Wilberforce. With this
company, Mr. Lewis had contracted for a township of land, as agent for the
Cincinnati refugees; but failing to meet the demand, the company kindly
extended the time of payment; but when that time also passed without
receiving any thing from Lewis, the general agent, Mr. Jones became so
indignant, that he utterly refused to sell a foot of land to any colored
person whatever. This proved to be one of the greatest detriments to the
prosperity of the colony it ever met.

The Society of Friends at this time, however, with commendable sympathy
for the oppressed and abused colored residents of Cincinnati, and with
their proverbial liberality, raised a sum of money sufficient to purchase
eight hundred acres of land of the Canada Company for the benefit of the
colony. The funds were placed in the hands of one of their number,
Frederick Stover, who went to Canada as their agent, purchased the land,
and settled colored people upon it, which comprised nearly all of the
Wilberforce settlement. This occurred before I settled in Canada, and
the consequence was, when I desired to purchase land, none could be
obtained. At the time, however, of which I am speaking, the Canada Company
were constructing a road through their possessions, some seventy miles in
length, and the principal contractor, Mr. Ingersoll, had agreed to take
land in part payment for his services on the road. In accordance with this
agreement, he accepted one lot of land situated within the Wilberforce
settlement, which he agreed to sell to Mr. Lewis for twenty-five dollars.
Mr. Lewis, knowing that I was anxious to purchase, accepted the offer,
and then came and showed the contract, offering it to me on condition that
I paid him the twenty-five dollars which he had just paid Mr. Ingersoll.
This I was glad to do; I paid the demand; took an assignment on the back
of the receipt, and passed into immediate possession of the land. He at
the same time requested me to take up a note of twenty-five dollars for
him; which I did, on his promising to refund the money in a short time.

I commenced laboring on the wild land I had purchased; cleared some ten
acres, which in consequence of its being so heavily timbered, cost me at
least twenty-five dollars per acre; built a house and barn--supposing
myself its legal possessor,--until I chanced to meet Mr. Ingersoll, who
informed me that Mr. Jones had refused to sell him the land to be disposed
of to a colored person; that he had duly informed Lewis of the fact, and
had returned to him the twenty-five dollars received. Not a word of this,
had Lewis communicated to me, though he knew I was making expensive
improvements, in the faith that I was its only owner. Instead of atoning
for the wrong already done me, he made it the basis of a deeper injury.

After one year's residence in Wilberforce, I found it necessary to return
to Rochester to settle some unfinished business; and when on my way
thither I stopped at London, where I found Lewis, who had not only
preceded me but had taken out a _capias_, for forty pounds currency. I was
therefore obliged to get bail for my appearance at court, after which I
pursued my journey.

On my arrival in Rochester, I found business at a stand; and the community
in a state of excitement and alarm, on account of that fell destroyer, the
cholera. This was its first visit to the United States, and the fearful
havoc it was making, spread terror and consternation throughout the land.
I returned to Canada; but found on my arrival at London, that "the
pestilence that walketh at noon-day," had preceded me, and taken from that
village my friend, Mr. Ingersoll, with several others. So great had been
the alarm, that instead of my appearing at court as I expected to do, I
found it adjourned, and the judge returned to his home.

I hastened on to Wilberforce, which had fortunately escaped the fearful
scourge, with terrible apprehensions.

Having a little spare time, I went out with my rifle, in search of deer;
but soon came upon a large wolf, which I wounded with the first shot; he,
however, sprang aside and was gone. On looking about for him I espied
another!--reloading my rifle, I fired, and he fell dead at my feet, while
my dog at the same time I heard barking furiously. Having dispatched this
second intruder, I saw that my dog had the first one, entangled in the
branches of a fallen tree. I searched for my balls, and was vexed to find
that I had left them at home. In this predicament I cut with my knife, a
knot from a beech limb, put it in my rifle, and took deadly aim at the
enraged wolf. The wooden ball struck him between the eyes and killed him
on the spot.

The two dead animals, with their skins, I sold for nine dollars and a
half,--making pretty good wages for a few hours labor.

Hunting was very generally pursued by the settlers, with great earnestness
and considerable skill. The forest abounded with deer, wolves, bears, and
other wild animals. Bears were plenty, and very troublesome because so
dangerously tame. One day, our children had built for themselves a
play-house, a few rods from the door, and were enjoying their play when
they were called in to dinner. A moment after, I observed one of the
settlers gazing intently at the play-house; I called to know what so
attracted his attention, and he informed me that an old bear, with three
cubs, had just then taken possession of the playhouse. And sure enough
there they were! knocking about among the dishes, and munching the crumbs
of bread which the children had left. The man was supplied with a loaded
rifle and urged to shoot them, but he begged to be excused from a pitched
battle with so many; and the bears leisurely took their departure for the
woods without molestation. The play-house, however, was soon deserted by
the children after these unbidden guests had made so free with it; and
we were ourselves somewhat alarmed for the safety of our children, who
were accustomed to roam in the edge of the forest, and make swings of the
luxuriant grape vines.

But such incidents are common in a new country, surrounded as we were by a
dense wilderness.



From the time I first settled in Wilberforce, my house had ever been open
to travelers and strangers; but a conversation I happened to overhear,
led me to take a course different from what I had at first intended. I was
at a public house about twenty miles from home, when I heard the landlord
advising his guest to eat heartily, for, said he, "you will find nothing
more worthy of your attention, until you reach Wilberforce. When you
arrive at that settlement, inquire for A. Steward, from the States, and he
will give you a meal fit for a prince." I began to reflect on the subject
and concluded, inasmuch as people would send company to me, it would be
better to make some preparation for entertaining them. I had plenty of
furniture, and all I needed was a larger supply of food, to commence
keeping a tavern. This was easily obtained, and I opened a public house
which was well patronized.

One day while I was absent from home, a man drove to the door the finest
span of horses, I think I ever saw,--black as jet, with proudly arched
necks, and glossy tails that nearly swept the ground. The gentleman sprang
from his carriage, bounded through the open door, and in the most excited
manner, began to inquire "who owns this establishment? When will he
return? Can I be accommodated? Can I see your barn?" &c. The stable boy
took him to the barn, from whence he soon returned; his face flushed, and
breathing so heavily as to be heard all through the apartment; trembling
so violently that he could scarcely speak at all,--but made out to
inquire, "if there was not some place besides the barn where he could put
his horses?" He was told that there was a small shelter built for cows, in
bad weather, and the next moment he was examining it. In a very short time
he had his horses and carriage stowed away in the cow-shed. He acted like
a crazy man; but when he had secured his horses, he re-entered the house
and frankly apologized for his conduct. "I may as well tell you the
truth," said he; "I am suspected of smuggling goods; a reward is offered
for my arrest, and the constables are on my track, in pursuit of me. My
name is Cannouse, and I am from M----, in Ontario County."

But perhaps they can not prove you guilty of smuggling, said I, in an
after conversation.

"Ah," said he, "there is for me no such hope or probability; I have
been engaged for the last few months in the sale of dress-goods and
broad-cloths, and my exposure and flight is the consequence of my own
folly. While in the village of St. Catharines, I took a young girl out to
ride, after she had engaged to accompany another young fellow, which of
course offended him; and he being too well posted up on my affairs, went
directly to the custom house officer and informed against me. I was
sitting in the parlor, perfectly at ease, when a young man, a relative of
the young lady in question, burst into the room, shouting, 'Fly! fly! for
your life! The officers are upon you!' And I did fly; with barely time to
reach the woods, for as I sprang through the back door, the officers
entered through the front door. My horses were my first consideration;
they had been raised by my father, and should I lose them, I should never
dare to meet him again. In my hasty flight, I engaged the young man to
conceal them till night, and then to drive them to a certain place where I
would meet him. This he did, and I kept on my flight until I came to the
house of a friend, where I halted to make inquiries. The gentleman had
just come from London, and had seen handbills at every conspicuous place,
describing me and my horses. I asked him what I should do? He said, 'you
are not safe a moment; there is no hope but in flight; avoid the main
road, and get to the colony if you can; if you succeed, go to A. Steward;
he is an upright man and will never betray you for money,' And here I
am: if I am arrested, six months imprisonment, three hundred dollars fine,
and the forfeiture of my father's valuable and favorite horses, will be
my portion. I have had no regular meal for the last three days, and my
head aches violently."

We gave him some refreshment, and conducted him to a room, assuring him
that he should have it to himself. All remained quiet until midnight, when
a man knocked cautiously at our door. I opened it myself, and a gentleman,
looking carefully about the place, inquired,

"Are you full?"

"No," said I.

"Have you any travelers here to night?"


"How many?"


"Where are they?"

"In this room; walk in, sir."

He took the light from my hand, and stepping lightly up to a bed, where
two travelers were quietly sleeping, he closely examined their faces. He
soon returned the light, and without further inquiry retired from the
house. When his companions came up, I distinctly heard him tell them that
the smuggler was not there.

"You may be mistaken," said the other, "and we must search the barn for
his horses."

This they did thoroughly, after procuring a lantern; but without finding
any thing to reward their diligent search; and they finally drove off.

When they had gone, Cannouse groaned most bitterly, and trembled from head
to foot at the thought of his narrow escape. The next day an officer rode
up to where the children were playing, with a handbill which he read, and
inquired if they had seen a person bearing that description, pass _that
day?_ They answered negatively, and he rode on. The poor frightened
Cannouse stayed with us a week; and nearly every day during the time, the
house and barn were searched for him. The children kept watch, and when
they saw any one coming they would let him know, in time to take himself
and horses into a thicket near by. When he thought pursuit was over, he
started to leave; but when, in a half hour after, a _posse_ of men drove
up to my door, flourishing their handbills, I thought it all over with
Cannouse. I told them that he was not there; but they chose to have
another search, and when they found nothing, the officer sprang into his
carriage, exclaiming, "come on, boys; we'll soon have him now; we have
tracked him here, and he can't be far off."

Cannouse had left us, feeling quite secure; but he had traveled but a
short distance, when he observed a horse shoe loose, and to get it
fastened he drove down to a blacksmith's shop, which happened to stand
at the foot of a hill; and between it and the highway there had been left
standing a clump of trees which nearly hid it from view. While there,
getting his horse shod, the officers passed him unobserved, and he
finally escaped.

Some time after, a gentleman called on us who had seen Cannouse in
Michigan, where he was doing well. He had succeeded in reaching Detroit,
from whence he passed safely to his home; but probably learned a lesson
not to be forgotten. He was a talented young man--one who would have felt
deeply the disgrace of imprisonment,--and it was indeed a pleasure to me
to do what I could, to effect his release from an unenviable position. I
would never have betrayed him; but happily I was not asked directly for
him, until he was gone from my house and protection.



The settlers in Wilberforce, were in general, industrious and thrifty
farmers: they cleared their land, sowed grain, planted orchards, raised
cattle, and in short, showed to the world that they were in no way
inferior to the white population, when given an equal chance with them. In
proof of this let me say, that it was uniformly the practice of persons
traveling from London to Goderich, to remain in our settlement over night,
in preference to going on to find entertainment among their own class of
people. And we believe that the whites are bound to admit, that the
experiment of the Wilberforce colony proves that the colored man can not
only take care of himself, but is capable of improvement; as industrious
and intelligent as themselves, when the yoke is taken from off their
necks, and a chance given them to exercise their abilities. True, many of
them had just escaped from cruel task-masters; ignorant of almost every
thing but the lash,--but the air of freedom so invigorated and put new
life into their weary bodies, that they soon became intelligent and

Among the settlers might be gathered many a thrilling narrative, of
suffering and hair-breadth escapes from the slave-land,--one of which I
will tell as 'twas told to me.

In a small rude cabin, belonging to one of the large plantations in
Virginia, sat at a late hour of the night, an afflicted slave-man and his
devoted wife, sad and weeping. At length the husband repeated what he
before had been saying:

"I tell you, wife, we must flee from this place, without delay. Oh, I
cannot endure the idea of seeing you sold for the Southern market, to say
nothing of myself; and we shall most likely be separated, which I can't
bear! Oh, Rosa, the thought distracts me,--I can't bear it!"

"Are you sure," said Rosa, "that master thinks of such a frightful doom
for us?"

"Oh yes, I know it; I heard master to-day making a bargain with the slave
dealer that has been hanging about here so long; and when it was finished,
I heard him reading over the list, and our names, wife, are the first on

"Oh, dear!" sobbed the wife, "we shall certainly be retaken and whipped
to death; or else we shall starve in the wilderness! Oh, it is very hard
to be compelled to leave all our friends and the old plantation where we
were born!"

"Yes; it is both hard and unjust," said Joe, and an indignant frown
contracted his brow,--"here is our birth-place, and here, for forty years
have I toiled early and late to enrich my master; and you, my poor wife, a
few years less; and now we are to be sold, separated, and all without a
choice of our own. We must go, Rosa. If we die, let us die together!"

"It shall be as you say, Joe," she replied, "but it frightens me to think
of the hardships of the way, and the danger of being recaptured."

"Courage, wife: no fate can be worse than the one designed for us; and we
have no time to lose. Tomorrow night, then, we must make the first effort
to gain our liberty, and leave all that is dear to us except each other!"
And they retired to rest, but not to sleep.

The following night was very dark; and as soon as all was quiet on the
plantation, they stole out of their cabin and stealthily crept over the
ground until they reached the highway; and then, guided only by the north
star, they made their way to the nearest woods. So fearful had they been
of being suspected, that they took no provision of any kind with them. All
night they plunged forward through the tangled thicket and under-brush,
surrounded by thick darkness, glancing now and then upward to their only

  "Star of the North! though night winds drift the fleecy
     drapery of the sky,

   Between thy lamp and thee, I lift, yea, lift with hope
     my sleepless eye."

When day dawned they threw their weary bodies on the ground, famished
and thirsty, and waited for the darkness to again conceal them while they
pursued their journey. The second day of their flight, the pain of hunger
became almost beyond endurance. They found a few roots which relieved them
a little; but frequently they lost their way, and becoming bewildered,
knew not which way to go; they pushed on, however, determined to keep as
far from their pursuers as possible. Their shoes were soon worn out; but
bare-footed, bare-headed, and famishing with hunger, they pressed forward,
until the fourth day, when they found themselves too weak to proceed
farther. Hope, the anchor of the soul, had failed them! They were starving
in a dense forest! No track or path could they find, and even had they
seen a human being, they would have been more terrified than at the sight
of a wild beast!

Poor Rosa, could go no farther--her strength was all gone--and as her
emaciated husband laid her on the cold earth, he exclaimed, "Oh, dear God!
_must_ we, after all our efforts, starve in this dark wilderness! Beside
his fainting wife, he finally stretched himself, sheltered only by a few
bushes, and tried to compose himself to die! but resting a few moments
revived him, and he aroused himself, to make one more effort for life!
Stay you here, wife, and I will try once more to find the highway; it
cannot be far from here; and if I am taken, I will submit to my fate
without a struggle; we can but die." So saying, he left her, and began to
reconnoitre the country around them. Much sooner than he expected
he emerged from the wood, and not far distant he saw a house in the
direction from whence he came; being, however, as most of the slaves are,
superstitious, he thought it would be a bad omen to turn backward, and so
continued to look about him. It seemed, he said, that some unseen power
held him, for though starving as he was, he could not take a step in that
direction; and at last as he turned around, to his great joy, he saw
another dwelling a little way off, and toward that he hastened his now
lightened footsteps. With a palpitating heart, he approached the door and
knocked cautiously. The man of the house opened it, and as soon as he saw
him, he said, "You are a fugitive slave, but be not alarmed, come in; no
harm shall befall you here; I shall not inquire from whence you came; it
is enough for me to know that you are a human being in distress; consider
me your friend, and let me know your wants."

"Bread! Oh, for a morsel of bread!" said the famished creature, while his
hitherto wild and sunken eyes, began to distil grateful tears. The "good
Samaritan" stepped to another apartment and brought him a piece of bread,
which he expected to see him devour at once, but instead, he looked at
it wistfully, literally devouring it with his eyes; turned it over and
over, and at last stammered out, "my good master, without a piece of bread
for my poor starving wife, I can never swallow this, tempting as it is."

"Poor man," said his benefactor, "can it be that you have a wife with you,
wretched as yourself?" He brought out a loaf of bread, some cheese and
meat, and while the fugitive was preparing to return, the kind gentleman
said, "I am glad you came to me; had you called at the house you first
saw, you would have been betrayed, and immediately arrested. You must
remember," he continued, "that you are young and valuable slaves, and that
your master will make every effort in his power to find you, especially
since he has made a sale of you. To-day and to-night, remain in the woods,
and the next morning you may come to me, if all is quiet; should I see
danger approaching you, I will warn you of it by the crack my rifle. Go
now, to your poor wife, and listen for the signal of danger; if you hear
none, come to me at the appointed time." He returned, and after feeding
his helpless Rosa, she revived, and soon felt quite comfortable and

When the morning came for them to leave their retreat, they listened
intently, but hearing nothing, Joe started for the residence of his
friend. He had been gone but a short time, when his wife, who lay in
the bushes, thought she heard the tramp of horses,--she crept nearer
the highway, and peeping through the bush--Oh, horror! what was her
consternation and sickening fear, to find herself gazing upon the
well-known features of her old master, and two of his neighbors, all armed
to the teeth! Her heart seemed to stand still, and the blood to chill in
her veins. Had she been discovered she would have been an easy prey, for
she declared that she could not move a step. In the meantime her husband
had got about half way to the residence of his preserver, when his quick
ear detected the sound made by the feet of horses, and as he stopped to
listen more intently, the sharp crack of a rifle sent him bounding back to
his concealment in the forest.

The party of horsemen rode on to the dwelling of the kind hearted
gentleman, and inquired whether he had seen any fugitive slaves pass that

"I saw," said he, "a man and woman passing rapidly along the road, but do
not know whether they were fugitives, as I did not see their faces." The
human blood-hound, thanked the gentleman for the information, and
immediately set out in pursuit; but, just as the informant had intended,
in a direction _opposite_ to that the slaves had taken. That night, Joe
and Rosa visited the house of their benefactor, where they were supplied
with clothing and as much food as they could carry; and next day they went
on their way rejoicing. They settled in Cincinnati, where they lived
happily, until the mob drove them with others, to the Wilberforce
settlement, where they are in no danger of the auction block, or of a
Southern market; and are as much devoted to each other as ever.



It is well known to those who have assisted in clearing land in a new
country, that bears, who are not Jews, are very troublesome, and levy a
heavy tax on the settlers, to supply themselves with pork-their favorite
food. One old bear in particular, had for a long time annoyed the
colonists, by robbing their hog-stys almost every night. We failed in all
our plans to destroy his life, until a woman saw him one day, walking at
ease through the settlement. A half dozen of us gave chase immediately,
and came up with him after traveling two miles. So anxious was I to kill
him, that I fired at first sight and missed him, which gave us another
two miles chase. When, however, we came up, he was seated on a branch of a
tree, leisurely surveying us and the dogs, with great complacency. The
contents of my rifle brought him to the ground, and stirred his blood for
battle. One blow from his powerful paw, sent my fine greyhound some yards
distant, sprawling upon the ground, and when he renewed the attack, Bruin
met him with extended jaws, taking and munching his head in his mouth. My
rifle was now reloaded, and the second shot killed him on the spot. We
tied his legs together, and lifting him on a pole, marched in triumph into
the settlement, where guns were discharged and cheers given, in
approbation of our success.

One winter's evening we had drawn closely around the blazing fire, for the
air was piercing cold without, and the snow four feet deep on a level. Now
and then, a traveler might be seen on snow-shoes; but though our cabin was
situated on the king's highway, we seldom saw company on such a night as
this. While the wind whistled, and the snow drifted about our dwelling, we
piled the wood higher in our ample fire-place, and seated ourselves again,
to resume the conversation, when I was startled by a loud and furious
knocking at the door. I opened it to what I supposed to be three Indians.
Their costume was that of the red man; but the voice of him who addressed
me was not that of an Indian. "Can you keep three poor devils here
to-night?" said he, and when I made farther inquiry, he repeated the same
question; "we can sleep," he continued, "on the soft side of a board; only
give us poor devils a shelter."

I told him we were not accustomed to turn away any one on such a night;
that they were welcome to come in; and they were soon seated around our
large and cheerful fire.

They had laid aside their snow-shoes and knapsacks, and the heat of the
fire soon made their blankets uncomfortable; but as one of them made a
move to throw it off, another was heard to whisper, "wait a little; we are
among strangers, you know; so do not make a display of yourself." The
fellow drew his blanket about him; but we had heard and seen enough to
awaken curiosity, if not suspicion. In passing out of the room soon after,
I heard one of these pretended Indians say to his companion, "I know these
folks are from the States, for I smell coffee." When they finally sat down
to table, and saw silver upon it, they cast surprised and knowing glances
at each other, all of which we closely observed, and were convinced, that
they were not red men of the forest, but belonged to that race who had so
long looked haughtily down upon the colored people; that the least
exhibition of comfort, or show of refinement astonished them beyond

In the meantime, my wife had whispered to me that she was sure that the
principal speaker was no other than the aristocratic Mr. G----, of
Canandaigua. I could not believe it; I could not recognize in that
savage costume, one who had been bred in affluence, and "the star" of
genteel society. But my wife soon developed the affair to our mutual
satisfaction: G----, on taking from her a cup of coffee, remarked, "this
looks good; and I have had no good coffee since I left my mother's house."

"Does your mother still reside in C----?" asked Mrs. Steward.

"My mother! my mother! what do you know of my mother!" said he, looking
sharply at her; but observing that they were recognized, they began to
laugh, and we had a hearty congratulation all round; while G----,
starting-up from table, exclaimed,

"Come, boys, off with this disguise; we are among friends now."

Our Indian guests, now appeared in costume more like "Broadway dandies,"
than savages. Dressed in the finest cloth, with gold chains and repeaters;
and all that constituted the toilet of a gentleman. After tea they
requested to dry some costly furs, which they took from their knapsacks
and hung around the fire. The following day they took their leave, with
many apologies and explanations, regarding their appearance and conduct.
They were in the wilderness, they said, trading for very valuable furs;
they had money, jewelry and rich goods, which they had taken that method
to conceal.

During all this time, there had been another visitor in the house, who was
sitting in a corner, absorbed in writing. Our mock Indians had noticed him,
and not knowing who he was, expressed a determination "to quiz that deaf
old devil," after supper. We all seated ourselves around the fire, and
our Canandaigua friends, though no longer savages, had not forgotten the
silent man in the corner; they began to question him, and he aroused
himself for conversation; nor was it long before they forgot their design
to quiz him, and found themselves charmed listeners to the brilliant
conversation, of that world-renowned champion of humanity, Benjamin Lundy,
for he it was.

On this particular evening, he gave us a sketch of his journey to Hayti;
to accompany there and settle some emancipated slaves; which I thought
very interesting, and as I have never seen it in print I will here relate
it, as near as I can, in his own words:

In the State of Maryland, there lived a slaveholder the proprietor of some
sixty slaves, and being somewhat advanced in years, he determined to free
them, in accordance with the laws of that State, which required that they
be sent out of it.

He had thought the matter over, but being undecided where to send them, he
sent for Mr. Lundy to assist him in his proposed plan; who was only too
glad to comply with a request calculated to carry out his own plans of
philanthropy and equal rights.

When he had listened to the suggestions and expressed desires of the
planter, he offered his arguments in favor of the West India Islands; and
it was decided to send them to Hayti, as their future place of residence.

Six weeks were allowed for preparations; then Mr. Lundy was to return and
take charge of them on the voyage, and see them settled in their new

When the appointed time arrived, Mr. Lundy was there to accompany them on
board a vessel bound for Hayti; on which was furnished as comfortable
quarters, as the kindness of their conscientious master and his own
benevolent heart could suggest. When all was ready, the Christian master
came on board, to take leave of those faithful servants,--many of whom
had served him from their childhood, and all of whom he had bound to his
heart by kindness and Christian benevolence. It was a sad parting; not
because the slaves did not love liberty, but because they appreciated
their master's kind forbearance, and solicitude for their future welfare.
He had ever been a humane and indulgent master; one who lightened the
burthen of the poor slave, all in his power. A moment's reflection will
show, that it is invariably this conscientious kind of slaveholders, who
are induced to emancipate their slaves; and not the avaricious, cruel
tyrant, who neither fears God nor regards his fellow man.

The master of the slaves had kindly informed them of his intentions,--of
the probable length of the voyage, and the unavoidable sickness they would
experience, &c.; but now, they were gazing up into his kind face for the
last time, as he knelt in prayer, commending that numerous flock--raised
on his own plantation--to the care and protection of Almighty God,
beseeching Him to protect them in the storm and dangers of the ocean; to
guide them through this life, and save them in the world to come; until
the sobs and cries of the poor slaves drowned his utterance. He at length
took his final leave of them, and of Mr. Lundy; and the ship sailed
immediately. They, however, met storms and adverse winds, which detained
them; and then the poor, ignorant slaves began to believe what they had
before suspected: that this was only some wicked plan of Mr. Lundy's, laid
to entice them away from a kind master, and to plunge them into some
dreadful degradation and suffering. "Master" had not told them of the
adverse winds, and they were certain that some mischief was intended; they
grew sullen and disobedient; and notwithstanding the kindness of Mr.
Lundy, they murmured and complained, until his kind heart sank within
him; still he pursued the even tenor of his way, trusting in God for
deliverance. He watched over them in sickness, and administered to all
their wants; but his tender solicitude for their health and comfort, only
excited suspicion, and increased their ungrateful ill humor.

One pleasant evening, Mr. Lundy paced the deck in deep thought. He was
sad, and well nigh hopeless. He had seen enough in the fierce look and
sullen scowl; and had heard enough of the bitterness, and threatening
anger of the negroes, to know that a storm was gathering, which must soon
burst in all its wild fury over his devoted head. He was a small, feeble
man, compared with those who watched his every movement, and gnashed their
teeth upon him so fiercely. None but the Almighty could save him now; and
to Him who "rides upon the wings of the wind, and maketh the clouds His
chariot," he drew near in fervent prayer; after which he retired in peace
and confidence to his berth. During the night, a fine breeze sprang up;
and when he went on deck the next morning, they were in sight of the
luxuriant shore of Hayti! The officers of the island boarded the ship; but
their language was unintelligible to the negroes, who still looked daggers
at every one who spoke. They landed; but the fearful, and ungrateful
slaves continued sullen and forbidding. Mr. Lundy left them, however, and
went into the country, where he selected their future residence; and made
every preparation for their comfort and convenience in his power; saw them
conveyed to their neat, pleasant homes, and all happily settled. This work
was accomplished; and he merely called to bid adieu to his ungrateful
charge, when he found that one of the slaves had been appointed to speak
to him, in behalf of the whole number, and confess how deeply they had
wronged him. While they were conversing, the others gathered around, with
tears and prayers for forgiveness; and finally fell at his feet, imploring
pardon for themselves, and blessings on the kind, patient and humane
Benjamin Lundy. He hurried from the affecting scene, and soon after
returned to America.

Thus that cold evening passed more pleasantly away in our rude cabin; and
our Canandaigua gentlemen, after an agreeable acquaintance, and pleasant
chat with Mr. Lundy, retired for the night--not like savages, but like
gentlemen as they were; and I doubt not, with a more exalted opinion of
"the deaf old devil in the corner"



Soon after settling in Wilberforce, I found that the rumor I had heard in
the States, concerning the refusal to sell land to colored persons, was
literally correct, and my farm being too small to yield a support for my
family, and knowing it would be useless to apply for more land, I engaged
to carry packages for different merchants in the adjoining villages, as
well as to and from the settlement. Possessing a pair of excellent horses
and a good wagon, I found it a profitable business, and the only one I
could well do, to eke out the proceeds of my farm, and meet my expenses.

One day as I was returning from the village, one of my horses was taken
suddenly ill. I took him to a tavern near by, and as I could discover no
cause for his illness, I concluded to leave him a few days, supposing rest
would soon restore him. I accordingly hired another horse, and returned to
the colony. In a day or two after, I collected my packages as usual, and
started on my route, designing to leave the hired horse and take my own;
but when I arrived at the tavern, I found some Indians engaged in taking
off the hide and shoes of my poor, dead horse. This was indeed, a great
loss to me; but I consoled myself with the thought that I had one good
horse left, yet he would hardly be sufficient to accomplish alone, the
labor I had engaged to perform; nor had I the means to spare, to purchase
another. I therefore hired one, and commenced business again, with the
determination to make up my loss by renewed diligence and perseverance.

I started in good spirits; but had proceeded but a few miles, when my
remaining horse, which I had supposed perfectly sound, reeled and fell in
the harness! And before I could relieve him of it, my noble animal and
faithful servant, had breathed his last! Without a struggle or a movement
he lay lifeless on the cold earth. I was sad. I deplored the loss of my
good, and valuable team; but more the mystery and suspicion that hung over
the event. I returned home and sat down to devise some plan of procedure.
What could I do? Half the means of our support had been suddenly
and mysteriously snatched from us. What could I do next? While thus
ruminating, I arose to answer a summons at the door, and who should enter
but Mr. B. Paul, a brother to our foreign agent, who had so long absented
himself from our house, that I was indeed surprised to see him at this
time. He, however, seated himself, with great apparent concern for my
recent loss, which he soon made the subject of conversation and the
object of his visit.

"There has been," said he, "a great deal of unpleasant feeling, and
injudicious speaking on both sides, for which I am heartily sorry. The
colony is too weak to sustain a division of feelings; and now, that your
recent losses have left you in a far less favorable condition to sustain
yourself and family, I have called to make a settlement of our former
difficulties, and to offer you two hundred and fifty dollars out of the
collections for the colony."

I saw through the plan at once, and considered it only a bribe, to prevent
my exposing the iniquity of others. Should I consent to take a part of the
ill-gotten spoils, with what confidence could I attempt to stay the hand
of the spoiler. I wanted money very much, it is true; but after a moment's
reflection, not enough to sanction the manner in which it had been
obtained; and though I confess, the offer presented to me a strong
temptation, I am thankful that I was enabled to resist it. I refused to
accept the money; and after sending away the tempter and his offered gain,
I felt my heart lighter, and my conscience more peaceful than is often the
lot of sinful, erring man in this world of trial and conflict; and yet I
could but feel that the mystery in which the death of my horses was
involved, was partially at least, explained.



During our residence in Canada, we were often visited by the Indians,
which gave us an opportunity to learn their character, habits and
disposition; and some incidents illustrative of the peculiarities of that
abused people, I will here mention.

I recollect one bitter cold night, about eleven o'clock, I happened to
awake, and looking out toward the fire, I was surprised to see standing
there, erect and quiet, a tall, brawny Indian, wrapped in his blanket;
his long hunting knife and tomahawk dangling from his belt; and his rifle
in his hand. Had he been in his own wigwam, he could not have looked
about him with more satisfaction and independence. I instantly sprang to
my feet, and demanded his errand.

"Me lost in the woods, and me come to stay all night," was his grave

"Then," said I, "give me your weapons, and I will make no objection."

He disarmed himself, and gave his weapons to me, with an air of haughty
disdain for my fears. I put them in a place of safety and then prepared
his bed, which was nothing more than the floor, where they choose to
sleep, with their head to the fire. My offer of anything different from
this he proudly resented as an insult to his powers of endurance, and
would say, "beds for pale faces and women; hard board for Indians." He
threw himself down, drew his blanket about him, and was soon sleeping
soundly. As soon as the day began to dawn, he was up, called for his arms,
and after thanking me in the brief Indian style of politeness, departed
for the forest. He had found our doors all fastened, save a low back door,
through which he entered, passing through a back room so full of
miscellaneous articles, that it was difficult to go through it in the day
time without upsetting something; but the Indian understood all this, he
made no noise, nor would he have spoken at all, had I not awakened; and
yet, he would have scorned to injure any one beneath the roof that gave
him shelter, unless he had been intoxicated.

One sabbath afternoon, one of my children was sitting in the door, when a
tall, emaciated Indian came up and said, "Will my little lady please to
give me a drink of water?" While she went for it, I invited him to a seat
within. There was something dignified and commanding in his appearance,
and something in his voice and countenance, that won my confidence and
respect at once. He remained in the place some time, and I learned his

In his younger days he had been a great warrior; and even now, when
recounting, as he often did, the scenes of the battle field, his eye would
burn with savage fire, lighting up his whole countenance with the fiercest
kind of bravery, and often with a hideous yell that would startle our very
souls, he would burst from the room and bound over the fields and forest,
with the fleetness of a deer--making the woods ring with his frightful
war-cry, until the blood seemed ready to curdle in our veins. He had also
been one of the famous Tecumseh's braves; and had stood by him when he
fell on the fifth of October, 1813. This old brave, whenever he called the
name of Tecumseh, bowed his head reverently; and would often try to tell
us how very deeply they mourned when it could no longer be doubted that
the brave heart of Tecumseh, brother of the celebrated Wabash prophet,
had ceased to beat.

"Had an arrow pierced the sun and brought it to my feet," said the old
warrior, "I could not have been more astounded than at the fall of
Tecumseh." Then he told us that once, after a great and victorious battle,
Tecumseh, in his war paint and feathers, stood in the midst of his braves,
when a little pale faced girl made her way weeping to him and said, "My
mother is very ill, and your men are abusing her, and refuse to go away."
"Never," said the Indian, "did I see a frown so terrible on the face of
Tecumseh, as at that moment; when he with one hand clutched his tomahawk,
and with the other led the little girl to the scene of riot. He approached
the unruly savages with uplifted tomahawk, its edge glittering like
silver, and with one shout of 'begone!' they scattered as though a
thunderbolt had fallen in their midst."

But the old warrior at Wilberforce fought no more battles, except in
imagination those of the past. After peace was declared he bought a
valuable piece of land, with the intention of spending the remainder of
his life more quietly; but unfortunately there lived not far from him a
man who had once been the possessor of that farm, and had lost it in some
way, and was now in reduced circumstances.

He was both envious and vicious; and because he could not himself buy the
land, he was determined that the old Indian should not have it. After
having tried many ways to get it from him, he finally complained of him,
for fighting for the British and against the country where he now resided.
This was successful; he was arrested and thrown into prison, and without
a trial, removed from one prison to another, until he, with several
others, was sent South to be tried as traitors. While on the way, the
keeper of this Indian wished to call on his mother, who lived in a
little cottage by the roadside, to bid her farewell. She was an aged
woman, and when her son left her to join his companions, she followed him
to the door weeping, wringing her hands in great distress, and imploring
the widow's God to protect her only son. She had had four; all of whom
went forth, with an American mother's blessing, to fight in defence of
their country; and this one alone, returned alive from the field of
battle. Now as he took his final departure for the South, she clasped her
hands, raised her tearful eyes to heaven, and while large drops rolled
over her wrinkled cheeks, she cried, "Oh, God, protect my only one, and
return him to me in safety, ere I die." This scene, the imprisoned, and as
some supposed, heartless Indian, watched with interest; no part of it
escaped his attention; but they passed on, and safely reached Detroit.
The prisoners were conducted to a hotel and secured for the night; our
Indian hero being consigned to an attic, which they supposed a safe place
for him. There happened to be on that night, a company of showmen
stopping at that hotel, and exhibiting wax-work; among the rest, was a
figure of General Brock, who fell at Queenston Heights, and a costly cloak
of fur, worn by the General previous to his death. Nothing of this escaped
the eagle-eye and quick ear of the Indian. When all was quiet in the
hotel, he commenced operations, for he had made up his mind to leave,
which with the red man is paramount to an accomplishment of his design. He
found no great difficulty in removing the window of his lofty apartment,
out of which he clambered, and with the agility of a squirrel and the
caution of a cat, he sprang for the conductor and on it he slid to the
ground. He was now free to go where he pleased; but he had heard
something about the cloak of Gen. Brock; he knew too, that the friends of
the General had offered fifty guineas for it, and now he would just convey
it to them.

With the sagacity of his race, he surveyed the hotel, and determined the
exact location of the show-room. Stealthily and noiselessly, he entered
it; found the cloak--took it and departed, chuckling at his good fortune.
As he was creeping out of the apartment with his booty, a thought struck
him, which not only arrested his footsteps, but nearly paralized his whole
being. Would not his keeper be made to answer, and perhaps to suffer for
his escape and theft? Of course he would. "Then in the darkness I saw
again," said the old brave, "that old pale-faced mother, weeping for the
loss of her only son," when he immediately returned the cloak to its
place, and with far more difficulty than in his descent, he succeeded in
reaching his attic prison, where he laid himself down, muttering to
himself, "not yet,--poor old pale-face got but one."

They took him to Virginia, where, instead of a trial, they gave him about
the same liberty they do their slaves. He staid one winter; but when the
spring opened, the fire of the red man took possession of him, and when
sent to the forest to chop wood, he took a bee-line for his former
residence. But what was he to do for food? With a rifle, he could live
happily in the woods, but he had none; so after considering the matter, he
said to himself, "Me _must_ get a rifle," and instantly started for the
highway. The first cabin he saw, he entered in great apparent excitement,
and told the woman of the house, that he had seen a "big deer in the
woods, and wanted a rifle to shoot it. When you hear my gun," he said,
"then you come and get big deer." She gave him her husband's excellent
rifle and a few bullets; he looked at them, and said he must have more,
for "it was a big deer;" so she gave him the bullet-mould and a piece of
lead, with which he departed, after repeating his former injunction, to
come when she heard the rifle; but, said he, "she no hear it yet."

He at length arrived at his own farm, from which he had been so cruelly
driven, and concealed himself behind a log in sight of his own house, to
watch the inmates. He soon learned that it was occupied by the man who had
persecuted him in order to obtain it, his wife and one child. All day
until midnight, he watched them from his hiding place, then assuming all
the savage ferocity of his nature, and giving himself the most frightful
appearance possible, he entered the house, and noiselessly passed to their
sleeping room, where he placed himself before them with a long knife in
his hand. Having assumed this frightful attitude, he commanded them in a
voice of thunder, to get up and give him some supper. They were awake now.
Oh, horror! what a sight for a guilty man, and a timid woman! "Me come to
kill you!" said the Indian, as he watched their blanched cheeks and
quivering lips. They tottered about on their trembling limbs to get
everything he asked for, imploring him for God's sake to take all, but
spare their lives. "Me will have scalps," he answered fiercely; but when
he had eaten all he desired, he adjusted his blanket, and putting on a
savage look, he remarked as if to himself, "Me go now get my men and kill
him, kill he wife, and kill he baby!" and left the house for his post of

The frightened inmates lost no time, but hastily collecting some
provisions, fled to the frontier, and were never heard of afterwards.

The Indian immediately took possession of his own and quite an addition
left by the former tenants.

While the kind-hearted old Indian repeated to me the story of his wrongs,
it reminded me of the injustice practised on myself, and the colored race
generally. Does a colored man by hard labor and patient industry, acquire
a good location, a fine farm, and comfortable dwelling, he is almost sure
to be looked upon by the white man, as an usurper of _his_ rights and
territory; a robber of what he himself should possess, and too often does
wrong the colored man out of,--yet, I am happy to acknowledge many
honorable exceptions.

I have often wondered, when looking at the remnant of that once powerful
race, whether the black man would become extinct and his race die out, as
have the red men of the forest; whether they would wither in the presence
of the enterprising Anglo-Saxon as have the natives of this country. But
now I have no such wondering inquiries to make; being persuaded that the
colored man has yet a prominent part to act in this highly-favored
Republic,--of what description the future must determine.



Being under the necessity of referring again to the difficulties existing
in the Wilberforce colony, I shall here introduce a circular, published in
New York city, which will give the reader an understanding of the real
cause of our embarrassments, and the character of our agent, Israel Lewis.


_New York, May 9th_, 1836.

The committee of colored citizens of the city of New York, as servants of
the public, sincerely regret the necessity of bringing the within subject
before the public. Their duty to God, to society, and to themselves, only
actuates them in this matter.

The fact that many individuals in different sections of the country, have
long suspected the integrity of Israel Lewis, but possessing no authentic
documentary evidence, they have been prevented from making an effort,
to counteract his too successful attempts and those of his agents, in the
collection of funds from the public, has induced us to transmit this


       *       *       *       *       *


_Wilberforce, U.C., March 28th, 1836._

The board of managers of the Wilberforce settlement, met and passed
unanimously the following resolutions--Present, Austin Steward, Philip
Harris, Peter Butler, William Bell, John Whitehead, Samuel Peters.

_Resolved_, 1st. That we deeply regret the manner in which our friends in
the States have been imposed upon by Israel Lewis; and that we hereby
inform them, as a board of managers or otherwise, that we have received
less than one hundred dollars of all the money borrowed and collected in
the States.

_Resolved_, 2d. That although we have not received one hundred dollars
from said Lewis, yet, when we shall have received the funds collected by
our agent, the Rev. Nathan Paul, in England, we will refund as far as our
abilities will allow and our friends may require, the money contributed
for our supposed benefit, by them in the States.

_Resolved_, 3d. That we tender our sincere thanks to our beloved friends,
Arthur Tappan and others, who have taken such deep interest in the
welfare of our little colony.

_Resolved_, 4th. That the foregoing resolutions be signed by the whole
board, and sent to the States to be published in the _New York Observer_
and other papers.

AUSTIN STEWARD, _President_,
PETER BUTLER, _Treasurer_,
JOHN HALMES, _Secretary_.

JOHN WHITEHEAD,   }  _Managers._

       *       *       *       *       *

_New York, April 25th, 1836._

At a public meeting of the colored citizens of New York city, held in
Phoenix Hall, Thomas L. Jennings in the Chair, and Charles B. Ray,
Secretary, the following resolutions were passed unanimously:

_Resolved_, That the thanks of this meeting be tendered to the Rev.
Samuel E. Cornish, for the able and satisfactory report of his mission
to Upper Canada, especially to the Wilberforce settlement.

_Resolved_, That this meeting deem it their imperative duty, to announce
to the public, that in view of facts before them, Israel Lewis [1] has
abused their confidence, wasted their benevolence, and forfeited all claim
to their countenance and respect.

_Resolved_, That a committee of ten, be appointed to give publicity to the
foregoing resolutions; also, to the communication from the managers of the
Wilberforce settlement, as they may deem necessary in the case.

CHARLES B. RAY, _Secretary_.

[Footnote 1: It necessarily follows that the public should withhold their
money from his subordinate agents.]

It will now appear that I was not the only unfortunate individual who had
difficulty with Mr. Lewis. Mr. Arthur Tappan made known through the press,
about this time, that Israel Lewis was not a man to be fully relied upon
in his statements regarding the Wilberforce colony; and also, if money
was placed in his hands for the benefit of the sick and destitute among
the settlers, it would be doubtful whether it was faithfully applied
according to the wishes of the donors.

For this plain statement of facts, Mr. Lewis commenced a suit against Mr.
Tappan, for defamation of character; laying the damages at the round sum
of ten thousand dollars. It appeared that Lewis valued his reputation
highly now that he had elevated himself sufficiently to commence a suit
against one of the best and most respectable gentlemen in New York city;
a whole souled abolitionist withal; one who had suffered his name to be
cast out as evil, on account of his devotion to the colored man's cause--
both of the enslaved and free; one who has, moreover, seen his own
dwelling entered by an infuriated and pro-slavery mob; his expensive
furniture thrown into the street as fuel for the torch of the black man's
foe; and, amid the crackling flame which consumed it, to hear the vile
vociferations of his base persecutors, whose only accusation was his
defence of the colored man. This noble hearted, Christian philanthropist,
who took "joyfully the spoiling of his goods" for the cause of the
oppressed, was the chosen victim of Lewis' wrath and violent vituperation;
and that too, where he was well known as a most honorable, humane
gentleman; and all for naming facts which were quite generally known

Lewis returned to Wilberforce, flushed and swaggering with the idea of
making his fortune in this speculation of a law-suit against Mr. Tappan;
and to remove all obstacles, he sent a man to me, to say that if I would
publish nothing, and would abandon the interests of the colonists, he
would give me a handsome sum of money. I soon gave him to understand that
he had applied to the wrong person for anything of that kind; and he then
laid a plan to accomplish by fraud and perjury, what he had failed to do
by bribery.

I have before mentioned the fact of my having taken up a note of
twenty-five dollars for Mr. Lewis, on condition that he would soon refund
the money. I did it as a favor, and kept the note in my possession, until
about a year afterward, when I sued him to recover my just due on the
note. We had then began to differ in our public business, which led to
other differences in our transaction of both public and private matters
relating to the colony. He of course gave bail for his appearance at
court, and it ran along for some time until he found he could not bribe me
to enter into his interests, and then for the first time, he declared that
I had stolen the note! And finally succeeded in getting me indicted before
the grand jury!

In this I suppose Lewis and his confederates had two objects: first, to
get rid of me; secondly, that they might have a chance to account for my
continued hostility, by saying that it arose in consequence of a private
quarrel, and not for any true interest I had in their collecting money

Lewis appeared so bent on my destruction, that he forgot it was in my
power to show how I came by the note. The Court of King's Bench met, but
in consequence of the cholera, was adjourned, and of course, the case
must lie over until another year.

When the time for the trial drew near, I was, in the midst of my
preparations to attend it, counseled and advised by different persons to
flee from the country, which I had labored so hard and so conscientiously
to benefit, and received in return nothing but detraction and slander. But
conscious of my innocence, I declared I would not leave; I knew I had
committed no crime; I had violated no law of the land,--and I would do
nothing to imply guilt. He who hath formed the heart, knoweth its intent
and purpose, and to Him I felt willing to commit my cause. True, the court
might convict, imprison, and transport me away from my helpless family of
five small children; if so, I was determined they should punish an
innocent man. Nevertheless, it was a dark time; I was not only saddened
and perplexed, but my spirit was grieved, and I felt like one "wounded in
the house of his friends,"--ready to cry out, "had it been an enemy I
could have borne it," but to be arraigned, for the _first_ time in my
life, as a _criminal_, by one of the very people I had spent my substance
to benefit, was extremely trying. Guiltless as I knew myself to be, still,
I was aware that many incidents had transpired, which my enemies could
and would construe to my disadvantage; moreover, Lewis had money, which he
would freely distribute to gain his point right or wrong, and to get me
out of his way.

In due time the trial came on, and I was to be tried for _theft_! Lewis
had reported all through the settlement that on a certain time I had
called at his house, and from a bundle of papers which his wife showed me,
I had purloined the note, which had caused me so much trouble. To prove
this it was necessary to get his wife to corroborate the statement. This
was not an easy matter. Mrs. Lewis, indignant and distressed by her
husband's unkindness, had left him and taken up her abode in the family of
a hospitable Englishman. After Lewis had been sent out as an agent for the
colony, finding himself possessed of sufficient funds to cut a swell, he
associated and was made a great deal of, by both ladies and gentlemen in
high stations of life; the consequence of which was, he looked now with
disdain upon his faithful, but illiterate wife, who like himself had been
born a slave, and bred on a Southern plantation; and who had with him
escaped from the cruel task-master, enduring with him the hardships and
dangers of the flying fugitive.

Now her assistance was necessary to carry forward his plans, and he
endeavored in various ways to induce her to return, but in vain. When he
sent messengers to inform her how sorry he felt for his past abuse, she
said she feared it was only some wicked plot to entice her away from the
peaceable home she had found. Lewis saw that he must devise some other
method to obtain her evidence. He therefore called on the brother of the
Englishman in whose family Mrs. Lewis was, and in a threatening manner
told him that he understood his brother was harboring his wife, and that
he intended to make him pay dear for it. The brother, to save trouble,
said he would assist him to get his wife, and that night conducted Lewis
to her residence. No better proof can be given that Mrs. Lewis possessed
the true heart of a woman, than that the moment her husband made humble
concessions, and promised to love and protect her henceforth, she forgave
him all his past infidelity and neglect, and looked with hope to a
brighter future. In return Lewis presented her with a note, telling her to
take it to a certain person and present it, and he would give her twenty
dollars on it. This would, he doubtless thought, leave her in his power.

As Mrs. Lewis could not read, the unsuspecting wife presented the paper
all in good faith. The gentleman looked at her sharply, suspiciously,--and
then asked her, if she was not aware that she was presenting him a paper
completely worthless! The poor woman was mortified and astonished; and
instead of returning to her husband, fled to Wilberforce, and called at
our house. Knowing how disastrous to me would be her false statement, and
ignorant of her state of mind, I asked her if she had come to assist Mr.
Lewis by swearing against me. I saw at once, that she had not yet been
informed of her husband's design.

"Swear against you, Mr. Steward!" said she. "I know nothing to swear that
would injure you; I have always known you as an honest, upright man, and
you need not fear my turning against an innocent person, for the benefit
of one I know to be guilty. Nor would I have left my place, had I known
what I now do." So all help and fear was ended in that quarter.

When at length the appointed morning arrived, I arose early, but with a
saddened heart. I looked upon my wife and helpless family, reflecting that
possibly this might be the last time we should all assemble around the
breakfast table in our hitherto quiet home, and I could scarcely refrain
from weeping. I, however, took my leave, and a lad with me, to bring back
a message of the result, if the court found sufficient cause to detain me
for trial. But when I found that I must be tried, I felt too unhappy to
make others so, and kept out of the lad's way. He returned without a
message; and I took my seat in the prisoner's box. I had just taken a
letter out of the post office, from Rochester, containing recommendations
and attestations from the first men in the city, of my good character,
which relieved my feelings somewhat: nevertheless, my heart was heavy, and
especially when, soon after I took my seat, a trap-door was opened and a
murderer was brought up and seated by my side!

Chief Justice Robinson, made his appearance in great pomp--dressed in the
English court style-then the crier, in a shrill voice, announced the
opening of the court, and finished by exclaiming, "God save the King!"
His lordship then called the attention of the jury to the law of the land;
particularly to that portion relating to their present duty; and the grand
jury presented me to the court, for feloniously taking a certain
promissory note from the house of Israel Lewis. The King's Attorney had
but one witness, and that was Lewis. He was called to the stand, permitted
to relate his story, and retire without any cross-examination on the part
of my Attorney; but that gentleman called up three respectable white men,
all of whom swore that they would not believe Israel Lewis under oath!
Then submitted the case to the jury without remark or comment, and the
jury, without leaving their seats, brought in a verdict of "NOT GUILTY."
Thus ended my first and last trial for theft! Oh, how my very soul
revolted at the thought of being thus accused; but now that I stood
justified before God and my fellow-men, I felt relieved and grateful; nor
could I feel anything but pity for Lewis, who, like Hainan, had been so
industriously engaged in erecting "a gallows fifty cubits high" for me,
but found himself dangling upon it He raved like a madman, clutched the
arm of the Judge and demanded a new trial, but he shook him off with
contempt and indignation, as though he had been a viper. In his wild fury
and reckless determination to destroy my character, he had cast a foul
stain upon his own, never to be effaced. I had felt bound to preserve my
reputation when unjustly assailed, but it had been to me a painful
necessity to throw a fellow-being into the unenviable and disgraceful
attitude in which Lewis now stood; and yet, he would not, and did not
yield the point, notwithstanding his ignominious defeat.

He very soon began to gather his forces for another attack upon me, and
followed the same direction for his accusation,--the land purchase.

The reader will recollect without further repetition, that as I could
purchase no land of the Canada Company, because of their indignation
against Lewis, I was glad to accept of the contract he had made with Mr.
Ingersoll, for lot number four in the colony; that I paid the sum
demanded, and took his assignment on the back of the contract, and as we
then were on good terms, it never occurred to me that a witness was
necessary to attest to the transaction. But after his failure to prove me
a thief; his next effort was to convict me of forgery! It will be
remembered that Lewis after selling out to me, returned the contract to
Mr. Ingersoll, and that I had lost by the means, the land, and at least
five hundred dollars' worth of improvements. Then I brought a suit against
Lewis, to recover the money I had paid him for the contract; and then it
was that he asserted and attempted to prove, that I had forged the
assignment, and therefore, had no just claim on him for the amount paid.
But in this, as in the other case, he met a defeat and made an entire
failure. I recovered all that I claimed, which, was only my just due. One
would suppose that after so many unsuccessful attempts to ruin me, he
would have left me alone,--but not so with Lewis: he had the ambition of a
Bonaparte; and doubtless had he possessed the advantages of an education,
instead of having been born and bred a slave, he might, like an Alexander
or Napoleon, have astonished the world with his deeds of daring. I am,
however, no admirer of what the world call "great men,"--one humble,
self-sacrificing Christian, like Benjamin Lundy, has far greater claim on
my respect and reverence.

Lewis, failing in his second attack, backed up as he had been in all his
wicked course, by a friend wearing the sacred garb of a minister of the
gospel, cooled off, and it became evident to all, that he was meditating
some different mode of warfare. To this concealed confederate, I must
attach great blame, on account of the influence his station and superior
learning gave him, not only over Mr. Lewis, but the colonists generally,
and which should have been exerted for the good of all, in truth and



We had as yet received no funds from our foreign agent, N. Paul, and the
board of managers had resolved to send a man after him. An Englishman and
a white man named Nell, would gladly undertake the mission, leaving his
wife and five children among the settlers. Again was I under the necessity
of returning to New York, to obtain the funds required to send out Mr.
Nell after our agent in England.

The night before I left home, I had a singular dream which I will briefly
relate. I dreamed of journeying on a boat to Albany, and of stopping at a
house to take tea. Several persons, I thought, were at the table, and as a
cup of tea was handed me, I saw a woman slyly drop something into it. I,
however, drank the tea, and dreamed that it made me very sick.

I found it difficult to drive from my mind the unpleasant impression this
dream had made upon it, but finally succeeded in doing so, attributing it
to the many and malicious threatenings which had been made by Lewis and
his associates. They had boldly asserted, that "if I went to the States, I
would never return alive," and several other threats equally malignant.
I, however, started with Mr. Nell for Rochester, where we made an effort
to raise money to aid in defraying the expenses of the voyage, and
succeeded in collecting about a hundred dollars. From thence we passed on
to Albany, where we fell in company with a number of Mr. Paul's friends,
who appeared to be terribly indignant, and accused me of coming there to
expose their friends,--Paul and Lewis. We had some warm words and
unpleasant conversation, after which they left me very unceremoniously,
and appeared to be very angry. A short time after, one of them returned,
and in the most friendly manner invited me to his house to tea. I was glad
of an opportunity to show that I harbored no unpleasant feelings toward
them, and immediately accompanied him home. The moment that we were all
seated at the table, an unpleasant suspicion flashed through, my mind.
The table, the company--all seemed familiar to me, and connected with
some unpleasant occurrence which I could not then recall. But when the
lady of the house poured out a cup of tea, and another was about to pass
it, I heard her whisper, "I intended that for Mr. Steward," my dream for
the first time, flashed through my mind, with all the vivid distinctness
of a real incident. I endeavored to drive it from my thoughts, and did so.
Pshaw! I said to myself; I will not be suspicious nor whimsical, and I
swallowed the tea; then took my leave for the steamboat, on our way to
New York city.

When we had passed a few miles out of Albany, the boat hove to, and there
came on board four men--one of the number a colored man. The white men
repaired to their state-rooms, leaving the colored man on deck, after the
boat had returned to the channel. He attracted my attention, by his
dejected appearance and apparent hopeless despair. He was, I judged,
about forty years of age; his clothing coarse and very ragged; and the
most friendless, sorrowful looking being I ever saw. He spake to no one,
but silently paced the deck; his breast heaving with inaudible sighs; his
brow contracted with a most terrible frown; his eyes dreamily fastened on
the floor, and he appeared to be considering on some hopeless undertaking,
I watched him attentively, as I walked to and fro on the same deck, and
could clearly discover that some fearful conflict was taking place in his
mind; but as I afterwards repassed him he looked up with a happy, patient
smile, that lighted up his whole countenance, which seemed to say plainly,
I see a way of escape, and have decided on my course of action. His whole
appearance was changed; his heart that before had beat so wildly was quiet
now as the broad bosom of the Hudson, and he gazed alter me with a look of
calm deliberation, indicative of a settled, but desperate purpose. I
walked hastily forward and turned around, when, Oh, my God! what a sight
was there! Holding still the dripping knife, with which he had cut his
throat! and while his life-blood oozed from the gaping wound and flowed
over his tattered garments to the deck, the same exultant smile beamed on
his ghastly features!

[Illustration: "I walked hastily forward and turned around, when, Oh, my
God! what a sight was there! He still held the dripping knife, with which
he had cut his throat."]

The history of the poor, dejected creature was now revealed: he had
escaped from his cruel task-master in Maryland; but in the midst of his
security and delightful enjoyment, he had been overtaken by the human
blood-hound, and returned to his avaricious and tyrannical master, now
conducting him back to a life of Slavery, to which he rightly thought
death was far preferable.

The horrors of slave life, which he had so long endured, arose in all
their hideous deformity in his mind, hence the conflict of feeling which I
had observed,--and hence the change in his whole appearance, when he had
resolved to endure a momentary pain, and escape a life-long scene of
unrequited toil and degradation.

There happened to be on the boat at the time, several companies of citizen
soldiers, who, shocked by the awful spectacle, expressed their decided
abhorrence of the institution of Slavery, declaring that it was not for
such peculiar villainy, that their fathers fought and bled on the battle
field. So determined were they in their indignation; so loudly demanded
they a cessation of such occurrences on board our boats, and the soil of
a free State, that the slaveholders became greatly alarmed, and with all
possible dispatch they hurriedly dragged the poor bleeding slave into a
closet, and securely locked the door; nor have I ever been able to learn
his final doom. Whether the kindly messenger of death released him from
the clutches of the man-stealer, or whether he recovered to serve his
brutal master, I have never been informed.

After this exciting scene had passed, I began to realize that I was
feeling quite ill; an unusual load seemed to oppress my stomach, and by
the time we had reached New York city, I was exceedingly distressed. I
hastened to a boarding house, kept by a colored woman, who did everything
in her power to relieve me; but I grew worse until I thought in reality, I
must die. The lady supposed I was dying of cholera, sent to Brooklyn after
Mr. Nell; but having previously administered an emetic, I began to feel
better; and when I had finally emptied my stomach of its contents, _tea
and all_, by vomiting, I felt into a profound sleep, from which I awoke
greatly relieved. The kindness of that lady I shall not soon forget. She
had a house full of boarders, who would have fled instantly, had they
known that, as she supposed, I was suffering from cholera; and instead of
sending me to the hospital, as she might have done, she kept all quiet
until it was over, doing all she could for my relief and comfort; yet, it
was a scene of distress which I hope may never be repeated.

On the following morning, I saw in the city papers, "A Card," inserted by
the owner of the poor slave on board the steamboat, informing the public
that he was returning South with a fugitive slave, who, when arrested,
evinced great willingness to return; who had confessed also, that he had
done very wrong in leaving his master, for which he was sorry,--but he
supposed that the abolitionists had been tampering with him. That was all!
Not a word about his attempt to take his life! Oh no, he merely wished to
allay the excitement, that the horrid deed had produced on the minds of
those present.

I was indignant at the publication of such a deliberate falsehood, and
immediately wrote and published that I too was on board the same boat with
the fugitive; that I had witnessed an exhibition of his willingness to
return to Slavery, by seeing him cut his throat, and lay on the deck
wallowing in his blood; that the scene had so excited the sympathies of
the soldiers present, that his owner had been obliged to hurry him out of
their sight, &c.

When this statement appeared in the newspapers, it so exasperated the
friends of the slaveholder, that I was advised to flee from the city, lest
I might be visited with personal violence; but I assured my advisers that
it was only the wicked who "flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous
are bold as a lion." I therefore commenced the business that brought me
to that city. Messrs. Bloss, Nell, and myself, made an effort, and raised
between three and four hundred dollars for the purpose of sending Mr. Nell
after Rev. N. Paul.

Most of the funds collected, we gave to Mr. Nell, who sailed from New York,
and arrived safely in England, just as N. Paul was boarding a vessel to
return to New York.

Had Mr. Nell acted honorably, or in accordance with his instructions, he
would have returned with the agent; but he remained in England, and for
aught I know is there yet. He was sent expressly after Mr. Paul, and when
he left that kingdom, Nell's mission was ended. He proved himself less
worthy of confidence than the agent, for he _did_ return when sent for,
and he did account for the money he had collected, though he retained it
all; but Mr. Nell accounted for nothing of the kind; and if he has ever
returned, I have not seen him. Mr. N. Paul arrived in New York in the
fall of 1834, and remained there through the winter, to the great
disappointment and vexation of the colonists. I wrote him concerning our
condition and wants, hoping it would induce him to visit us immediately;
but he had married while in England, an English lady, who had accompanied
aim to New York, where they were now living; nor did he appear to be in
any haste about giving an account of himself to the board of managers who
had employed him.



During my absence in New York city, Lewis and his confederates were
prophesying that I would never trouble them more, and shaking their heads
quite ominously at the happy riddance. One day, our hired man entered the
house and inquired of my wife, when I was expected home. She told him she
did not know, having received no intelligence from me. He assured her that
a letter had been received by some one in the colony; that he had seen it,
and had heard Mr. Lewis speak of conveying it to her,--but as it did not
come, she gave it up, supposing some mistake had been made. I had,
however, written, naming the time when she might expect me; but no letter
of mine reached her, during my long absence, for which she could not
account. A short time before that specified for my return, a woman, whose
husband was an associate of Mr. Lewis, came to my house, and urged my
wife "to leave word at the village of London, to have Mr. Steward detained
there, should he arrive toward evening, and by no means allow him to start
for the colony after dark." My family had so often been alarmed by such
warnings, and had so frequently been annoyed by the violent threatenings
of Lewis, that they ceased to regard them, and paid little attention, to
this one.

I arrived at London on the day I had appointed for my return, but was
detained there until a late hour; feeling anxious, however, to get home
that night, supposing that I was expected,--I therefore hired a horse to
ride the remaining fifteen miles to the settlement.

The road from London to Wilberforce led through a swamp, known as
"McConnell's Dismal Swamp," and it was indeed, one of the most dreary
places in all that section of country. I am certain that a hundred men
might conceal themselves within a rod of the highway, without being

The horse I had engaged, was a high spirited animal, and to that fact, I
doubtless owe my life. The moon shone brightly, and nothing broke the
stillness of the night, as I rode onward, but the clatter of my horse's
hoofs, and an occasional "bow-wow" of some faithful watch-dog.

When I reached the swamp and entered its darkened recesses, the gloom and
stillness was indeed fearful; my horse started at every rustling leaf or
crackling brush, until I attempted to pass a dense thicket, when I was
started by the sharp crack of a rifle, and a bullet whizzed past me, close
to my ear! The frightened horse reared and plunged, and then springing as
if for life, he shot off like an arrow, amid the explosion of fire arms
discharged at me as I rode away. I lost my balance at first, and came near
falling, but recovering it I grasped the rein tightly, while my fiery
steed flew over the ground with lightning speed; nor did I succeed in
controlling him until he had run two miles, which brought me to my own

I found my family well, and very grateful that I had arrived safely after
so fearful an encounter.

When morning came I sent a person out to inquire whether any of the
settlers were out the night previous, and the report was, "Israel Lewis
and two other men were out all night; that they had been seen near the
Dismal Swamp;" moreover, Lewis was seen to come in that morning with his
boots covered with swamp mud,--these the Rev. Mr. Paul's boys cleaned for
him, all of which was evidence that he it was, who had way-laid me with
criminal intent.

I afterwards learned, that those three men left the settlement at dusk,
for the swamp; that they stationed themselves one rod apart, all on one
side of the road, each man with a loaded rifle,--the poorest marksman was
to fire first, and if he did not bring me down, probably the second
would; but Lewis being the best shot of the three, was to reserve his fire
until the last, which they supposed I could not escape. It was quite dark
in the thicket, and my spirited horse plunged in every direction so
furiously, that they could take no aim at me, until he had started to run,
when we were soon beyond their reach.

We had already had so much difficulty in our little colony that we were
getting heartily sick of it. I was well aware that Lewis was thirsting for
revenge; that he wished to do me a great wrong; and yet I was thankful on
his account, as well as on my own, that he had been prevented from
imbruing his hands in the blood of a fellow being.

Had he succeeded in taking my life, as he undoubtedly intended to do, he
would have been arrested immediately, and most likely punished as a
murderer. He had boldly threatened my life, and the colonists were
expecting something of the kind to take place. Had I not arrived at the
colony, it was known at London that I had started for the settlement that
night, and an immediate search would have been instituted; nor could the
wicked deed have brought the least peace to the mind of Lewis or his

  "No peace of mind does that man know,
    Who bears a guilty breast;
  His conscience drives him to and fro,
    And never lets him rest."



The bold and wicked attempt to take my life, recorded in the preceding
chapter, aroused a feeling of indignation in the community against Lewis,
and completely destroyed the little influence he had left; moreover, he
had now been so extensively published as an impostor, that he could
collect no more money on the false pretense of raising it for the benefit
of the colony. As soon as his money was gone and his influence destroyed,
--many who had been his firmest friends, turned against him, and among
this class was the Rev. Benjamin Paul. He had ever professed the greatest
friendship for, and interest in the success of Mr. Lewis. Heretofore,
whenever he went to the States he was commissioned by that gentleman's
family, to purchase a long list of expensive articles, which the poor
colonists were seldom able to buy; and he generally returned to them
richly laden with goods, purchased with, money given to the poor, sick,
and destitute in the colony.

Mr. B. Paul had ever been a very proud man, but not a very healthy one. He
was inclined to pulmonary diseases; but had kept up pretty well, until
Lewis was effectually put down, and his own character involved in many of
his notorious proceedings, together with the disappointment occasioned by
his brother remaining so long in England, when his health failed, and he
sank rapidly under accumulating disasters, to the grave.

The Welshmen had partially engaged him to preach for them the ensuing
year, but something they had heard of him changed their minds, and they
were about appointing a meeting to investigate his conduct, when they were
informed of his illness, and concluded to let it pass. His son, with whom
he lived, became deranged, and his oldest daughter on whom he was greatly
dependent, had been dismissed from school, where she had been for some
time engaged in teaching. All these unpleasant circumstances in his sickly
state weighed heavily upon his proud heart; and he not only declined in
health, but sank into a state of melancholy and remorse for his past
course of living. As he lay pining and murmuring on his death bed, I
could but reflect how different the scene from that of an apostle of the
Lord Jesus Christ, who could exclaim, when about to be offered, "I have
fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith;
henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness."

I called to see him as he lay writhing in agony, his sunken eyes gleaming
wildly, rolling and tossing from side to side, while great drops of
perspiration stood upon his forehead, continually lamenting his misspent
time, and the life he had led! He took my hand in his cold, bony fingers,
thanking me that I did not so despise him, that I could not come to see
him in his sorrow and affliction. Generally, however, when he raved and
talked of his wicked life, his family excluded all persons from his room
except his attendants.

Pride, which had ever been his besetting sin, displayed itself in his
conduct to the last, for he had a lengthy will made, dispensing some
sixteen hundred dollars to different individuals, when he must have known
that his whole possessions would not amount to half that sum. As I looked
upon him I could but reflect on the mysterious ways of Providence. Before
me lay a man, who had for years arrayed himself against me, using all his
influence as a man and a minister to injure me, by setting Lewis forward
in his wickedness; his family living in extravagance and a style far
beyond their means, while mine had labored hard and were sometimes
destitute, often harassed and perplexed on every side by himself and
party. And for what? Because I would not join hands with iniquity, and
deeds of darkness. Notwithstanding the contrast, when I heard his bitter
lamentations and self-reproaches, I could lift my heart to God, in
gratitude for His protecting goodness, which had preserved me an _honest
man_. I had often erred no doubt, but it had never been designedly; and
never did I value a good conscience more than when standing by the
death-bed of Benjamin Paul, who now had passed the Jordan of death; and it
is enough to know that his future, whether of joy or woe, will be meted
out to him, by a merciful and just God,--nevertheless, his last moments on
earth were such as ought to arouse every professed Christian, to redoubled
diligence in watchfulness and prayer, lest they fall into temptation,--
lest they determine to become rich, and thereby fall into diverse and
hurtful lusts, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows.

Soon after the event above narrated, a law was passed in the Province,
allowing each township to elect three commissioners, whose duty it should
be, to transact the public business pertaining to the township. Each
township should also elect one township clerk, whose business it should
be, to hold and keep all moneys, books, and papers belonging to said town;
with power to administer oaths, and in fact, he, with the commissioners,
were to constitute a board, possessing all the power of a court, in
relation to township business.

In our colony, located in the township of Bidulph, the colored people were
a large majority of the inhabitants, which gave us the power to elect
commissioners from our own settlement, and therefore, three black men
where duly chosen, who entered on the duties of their office, while your
humble servant, A. Steward, was elected township clerk, with all the
responsibility of the office resting upon him and the same power given him
as though he had been born in Her Britannic Majesty's dominion, with a
face as white as the driven snow. I felt the responsibility of my office,
but not more deeply than I did this assurance of entire confidence, and
respect shown me by my townsmen, after all the cruel persecutions I had
met; after all the accusations of theft, forgery, &c., that vicious person
could bring against me.

The Rev. Nathaniel Paul, with his lady, arrived at Wilberforce in the
spring of 1835, to the great joy of the colonists, to find that his
brother had gone the way of all the earth, and his remains quietly resting
on his own premises, where his afflicted family still resided.

In the colony there was a great deal of excitement regarding the course
our agent would pursue, and all waited with anxious expectancy to see him
enrich the treasury with his long-promised collections.

We had agreed, on sending him forth as an agent for the colony, to give
him fifty dollars per month for his services, besides bearing his expenses.

The reverend gentleman, charged, on his return to the colony, the sum
specified, for four years, three months and twenty days. We spent several
days in auditing his account, with increased fearful forebodings. We found
his receipts to be, in the United Kingdoms of Great Britain, one thousand
six hundred and eighty-three pounds, nineteen shillings; or, eight
thousand and fifteen dollars, eighty cents. His expenditures amounted to
one thousand four hundred and three pounds, nineteen shillings; or, seven
thousand and nineteen dollars, eighty cents. Then his wages for over four
years, at fifty dollars per month, left a balance against the board of
several hundred dollars, which we had no funds to cancel, inasmuch as the
reverend gentleman had paid us nothing of all he had collected in Europe,
nor even paid a farthing toward liquidating the debts incurred for his
outfit and expenses.

There was also in Mr. Paul's charge against the board of managers, an item
of two hundred dollars, which he had paid to Wm. Loyd Garrison, while that
gentleman was also in England; but by whose authority he had paid or given
it, it was hard to determine. We gave him no orders to make donations of
any kind. To take the liberty to do so, and then to charge it to our poor
and suffering colony, seemed hard to bear; still we allowed the charge.
Had we, in our straitened and almost destitute circumstances, made a
donation of that, to us, large sum of money to Mr. Garrison or any body
else, certainly _we_ should, at least, have had the credit of it; and as
Mr. Garrison had made no acknowledgment of the receipt, I wrote him on
the subject, and his answer will be found, heading our correspondence, in
this volume.

Not a dollar did the treasurer ever receive of the Rev. N. Paul, unless we
call the donations he had made without our permission, a payment. He did,
it is true, award to the board, the sum of two hundred dollars, paid by
him to Mr. Garrison, and fifty dollars more given by himself to Mr. Nell,
on his departure from England. Not a farthing could we get of him; and in
short, as far as the monied interest of the colony was concerned, his
mission proved an entire failure. How much good the reverend gentleman
may have done in spreading anti-slavery truth, during his stay in Europe,
is not for me to say. The English, at that time held slaves; and report
speaks well of his labors and endeavors to open the eyes of that nation
to the sin of slavery and the injustice of the colonization scheme. It
is said that he continually addressed crowded and deeply interested
audiences, and that many after hearing him, firmly resolved to exert
themselves, until every chain was broken and every bondman freed beneath
the waving banner of the British Lion. Perhaps his arduous labors assisted
in freeing the West India islands of the hateful curse of Slavery; if so,
we shall not so much, regret the losses and severe trials, it was ours to
bear at that time.

The indignant and disappointed colonists, however, took no such view of
his mission; and knowing as they did, that he had paid not a cent of cash
into the treasury, nor liquidated one debt incurred on his account, they
became excited well nigh to fury,--so much so, that at one time we found
it nearly impossible to restrain them from having recourse to Lynch law.
They thought that the reverend gentleman must have large sums of money at
his command somewhere--judging from his appearance and mode of living, and
that a little wholesome punishment administered to his reverence, by grave
Judge Lynch, enthroned upon a "cotton bale," might possibly bring him to
terms, and induce him to disgorge some of his ill-gotten wealth, which he
so freely lavished upon himself, and was withholding from those to whose
wants it had been kindly contributed.

Just, as was their dissatisfaction, I was satisfied by the examination of
his accounts, that he had spent nearly all of the money collected for us;
his expenses had been considerable; beside, he had fallen in love, during
his stay in England, with a white woman, and I suppose it must have
required both time and money to woo and win so fine and fair an English
lady, said also to possess quite a little sum of money, that is, several
thousand dollars, all of which our poor, little suffering colony must pay
for,--the reverend gentleman's statement to the contrary notwithstanding.

We succeeded at last, after a tedious effort, in satisfying the minds of
the settlers to the extent, that a violent outbreak was no longer to be
feared or dreaded. When all was quiet in the colony, I ventured to make my
first call on the wife of N. Paul, who was then stopping with the widow of
the late Rev. B. Paul, residing some three miles from us.

The houses of the colonists were generally built of logs, hewn on both
sides, the spaces chinked with mortar, and the roof constructed of boards.
The lower part was generally left in one large room, and when another
apartment was desired, it was made by drawing a curtain across it. When
we arrived at the residence of Mrs. Paul, we were immediately ushered into
the presence of Mrs. Nathaniel Paul, whom we found in an inner apartment,
made by drawn curtains, carpeted in an expensive style, where she was
seated like a queen in state,--with a veil floating from her head to the
floor; a gold chain encircling her neck, and attached to a gold watch in
her girdle; her fingers and person sparkling with costly jewelry. Her
manners were stiff and formal nor was she handsome, but a tolerably fair
looking woman, of about thirty years of age: and this was the wife of our
agent for the poor Wilberforce colony!

N. Paul had now settled his business with the colonists, and being about
to leave for the States, we appealed to his honor as a man and a
Christian, to call at Rochester and pay the seven hundred dollar bank
debt, for which he was justly and legally holden, and relieve honorably,
those kind gentlemen who had raised the money for him. He well knew the
condition of our friend E. Peck, and that the names of some of our colored
friends were also attached to the note; all of whom were relying
implicitly on his or our honor to pay the obligation. That we had no funds
in the treasury he was well aware; also, that all were deeply concerned
about that debt. All this he knew; and in answer to our earnest and
repeated injunction, he promised most faithfully and solemnly that he
would call at Rochester, and take up the note. On those conditions he was
allowed to leave the colony, and when parting with me, no more to meet in
this life, his last assurance was, that he would cancel that obligation.
What then could we think of his word, when we learned soon after that he
passed Rochester, without calling, direct to Albany; nor did he ever
return, or make any explanation of his conduct; nor give any reason why
his promise was not redeemed and the money paid.

He preached in Albany until his health failed, then he was obliged to live
the best way he could, and at last to depend on charity.

His disease was dropsy, from which he suffered deeply, being unable to lie
down for some time previous to his death. I have been told that his
domestic life was far from a peaceable or happy one, and that in poverty,
sorrow and affliction, he lingered on a long time, till death at last
closed the scene.



I was now seriously meditating a return to Rochester. My purpose in going
to Canada, has already been made known to the reader, as well as some of
the disappointments I met, and some of the trials and difficulties I had
to encounter.

Now, after laboring, and suffering persecution for about five years, my
way was comparatively clear; still I wished to leave the Province and
return to the States, in which prospect my family greatly rejoiced.
Doubtless most persons in the position I then occupied, would have chosen
to remain; but for several reasons, I did not.

Notwithstanding I had been during my youth, a poor, friendless, and
illiterate slave, I had, through the mercy of God and the kindness of
friends, not only obtained my freedom, but I had by the industry and
perseverance of a few years, acquired a tolerable English education,
established a profitable business, built for myself a good and extensive
business reputation, and had laid the foundation for increasing wealth and
entire independence.

Indeed, so far as a competency is concerned, I possessed that when I left
Rochester. My house and land was paid for; my store also, and the goods it
contained were free from debt; beside, I had several hundred dollars in
the bank for future use,--nor do I boast, when I say that the comfort and
happiness of myself and family, required no further exertion on my part to
better our worldly condition. We were living in one of the best countries
on the earth, surrounded by friends,--good and intelligent society, and
some of the noblest specimens of Christian philanthropy in the world. My
wife and children, had not only been accustomed to the comforts, if not
the luxuries of life, but also to associate with persons of refinement and
cultivation; and although they had willingly accompanied me to Canada,
where they had experienced little less than care, labor and sorrow, it
cannot be thought very strange that they should desire to return. We were
colored people to be sure, and were too often made to feel the weight of
that cruel prejudice, which small minds with a perverted education, know
so well how to heap upon the best endeavors of our oppressed race. Yet
truth and justice to my friends, compel me to say, that after a short
acquaintance, I have usually been treated with all that kindness and
confidence, which should exist between man and man.

At my house of entertainment in Canada, it was not uncommon for gentlemen
of my former acquaintances, to stop for a friendly chat; merchants,
journeying through our settlement, after goods, would frequently call,
with their money, watches, and other valuables, carefully concealed about
their persons; but when they learned our name, and had become acquainted
a little, they would not only freely expose their wealth, but often place
all their money and valuables in my hands, for safe keeping; nor was their
confidence ever misplaced to my knowledge.

Another thing: when I went to Wilberforce, I supposed that the colonists
would purchase the whole township of Bidulph, and pay for it, which might
have been done, had they been fortunate enough to put forward better men.
Then when we had a sufficient number of inhabitants, we could have sent a
member to Parliament, one of our own race, to represent the interests of
our colony. In all this we were disappointed. The Canada Company, in their
unjust judgment of a whole people, by one dishonest man, had stopped the
sale of lands to colored persons, which of course, put an end to the
emigration of respectable and intelligent colored men to that place; nor
was there any prospect of a favorable change. Moreover, the persecutions
which gave rise to the colony, had in a great measure ceased; anti-slavery
truth was taking effect on the minds of the people, and God was raising up
many a friend for the poor slave, to plead with eloquent speech and tears,
the cause of the dumb and down-trodden.

These, with other considerations, influenced me in my decision to leave
Canada. As soon, however, as my intentions were made known, I was
importuned on all sides, by persons both in and out of the settlement,
to remain awhile longer, at least. This will be seen by a reference to the

After due deliberation, I concluded to send my family to the States, and
remain myself, until my year should terminate, for which I had been
elected township clerk. In accordance with this determination, I made
preparation to take my family to Port Stanley, forty miles distant. But
what a contrast was there between our leaving Rochester, five years
before, and our removing from the colony! Then, we had five two-horse
wagon loads of goods and furniture, and seven in family; now, our
possessions were only a few articles, in _a one-horse wagon_, with an
addition of two members to our household! The settlers collected about us,
to take an affectionate leave of my wife and children; but tears and sobs,
prevented an utterance of more than a "God bless you," and a few like
expressions. The scene was indeed an affecting one: all the weary days
of our labor; all the trials and difficulties we had passed; all the sweet
communion we had enjoyed in our religious and social meetings; all the
acts of neighborly kindness, seemed now to be indelibly impressed on every
memory, and we felt that a mutual regard and friendship had bound us
closer to each other, in the endearing bonds of Christian brotherhood--
bonds not to be broken by the adverse scenes incident to frail human life.

Arrived at Port Stanley, we were kindly entertained by a Mr. White, a
fugitive slave from Virginia, who owned a snug little farm on the bank of
Kettle Creek, and who appeared to be in a good and prosperous condition.
Being detained there, waiting for a boat, on which I was anxious to see
my family comfortably situated before I left them, I was aroused at an
early hour on the second morning of our stay, by a loud rapping at the
door; and hearing myself inquired for, I dressed myself immediately, and
followed Mr. White into the sitting room, where I saw two strange men,
armed with bludgeons! I soon learned, however, that one of them was the
under-sheriff, who had come to arrest me for a debt of about forty
dollars, and the other armed man had come to assist him, I assured them
I was ready to accompany them back to London, which I was obliged to do, a
prisoner, leaving my family among comparative strangers. The debt had
become due to a man who had worked for us in the building of a saw-mill. I
arranged the matter without going to jail, but before I could return to
Port Stanley, my family, kindly assisted by Mr. White, had departed for
Buffalo. The weather was cold and the lake very rough, but they safely
arrived in Rochester, after a journey of three days. During their passage
up the lake my oldest daughter took a severe cold, from which she never

I returned to the colony to attend to the duties of my office, and to
close my business with the colony, preparatory to joining my family, who
were now settled in Rochester, but in very different circumstances from
those in which they had left it. I had deposited quite a sum of money in
the Rochester Bank; but our continual expenditures at Wilberforce, in my
journeyings for the benefit of the colony, and in the transacting of
business pertaining to its interests, had left not one dollar for
the support of my family, or to give me another start in business.
Nevertheless, I felt willing to submit the case to Him who had known the
purity of my intentions, and who had hitherto "led me through scenes dark
and drear," believing he would not forsake me now, in this time of need.

Consoling myself with these reflections, I renewed my endeavors to do my
best, leaving the event with my God.



I have named, I believe, that all the colored people, who purchased lands
of Lewis, could get no deed nor any remuneration for their improvements.
This they thought hard and unfair. Some had built a house and barn,
cleared land, &c.; but when they wished to pay for their farms, they could
get no deed, and were obliged to lose all their labor.

This raised such a general complaint against the land agents, that they
finally agreed to pay the squatters for their improvements, if they would
leave their farms. An opportunity was soon offered to test their sincerity
in this agreement. A shrewd fellow, who had been many years a sailor,
named William Smith, had made valuable improvements on land, for which he
could get no deed, and then he wished to leave it. His wife, also, died
about this time, leaving him with eight children, which determined him to
leave the colony, and after providing homes for his children, to return to
his former occupation on the high seas; but he also determined not to
leave without receiving the pay which the agents had agreed to give for
his improvements.

"Oh yes," said they, in answer to his repeated solicitations, "you shall
be paid, certainly, certainly; you shall be paid every farthing." But when
the appointed day came for the pompous land agents to ride through the
settlement, you might see Smith station himself at first one and then
another conspicuous place on the road, hoping they would have the
magnanimity to stop and pay him, especially, as he had informed them of
his destitute and almost desperate condition, with eight young children to
maintain, and no means to do so, after giving up to them the farm. Before
them as usual rode their body servant, of whom Smith would inquire at what
hour the agents might be expected. And most blandly would he be informed
of some particular hour, when perhaps, within the next ten minutes, the
lordly agent would fly past him, on their foaming steeds, with the speed
of a "lightning train." This course they repeated again and again. One
day, when all of the land agents rode through the settlement in this
manner, Smith followed them on foot over fifty miles. He at last
intercepted them, and they promised with the coolest indifference, that on
a certain day, not far distant, they would certainly pay him all he
claimed, if he would meet them at a certain hotel in London. To this he
agreed; and the poor fellow returned to the colony almost exhausted.

His funds were nearly all spent, and he wished to take his children to New
York; yet his only hope was in the integrity and honor of the land agents.

On the day appointed, he was at London long before the hour to meet, had
arrived. He entered the village with a determined air, and saw the agents
just riding up to a hotel,--but not the one they had told him to call at.
He, however, waited for no invitation, but entered the hotel and inquired
of the servant for his master. He said his master was not there!

"I know he is," said Smith, "and I want to see him."

The servant withdrew, but soon returned to say that his master was engaged
and could not see him that day. Smith followed the servant into the hall,
calling out to him in the most boisterous manner, demanding to be told the
reason _why_ he could not see his master. The noise which Smith purposely
made, soon brought into the hall one of the agents, a Mr. Longworth, a
short, fat man,--weighing in the neighborhood of three hundred pounds!
When he saw Smith, he strutted about, assuring him that this disgraceful
uproar was quite uncalled for, and finally putting on a severe look, told
him that he could not have anything for his improvements; of course not,--
he really could not expect; certainly not, &c. Smith plainly assured the
agent that his "blarney" would avail him nothing; he had come by their own
appointment to get his pay, and that he certainly should _have_--if not in
the way they themselves agreed upon, he would choose his own method of
getting it! Thus saying, he stepped back, threw down his woolly head, and
goat fashion, let drive into the fat Englishman's "bread basket!" He
sprawled about and soon recovered his standing, but continued to scream
and halloo with rage and mortification, more than with pain, until he had
brought to the spot landlord, boarders, and servants, to witness the
affray; but Smith, nothing daunted, administered two or three more
effectual butts with his hard head into the lordly agent, when the subdued
and now silent English gentleman, drew from his pocket book, and carefully
counted out, every dollar Smith had at first demanded. Smith accepted it
pleasantly, thanked him and withdrew, amid the shouts and jeers of the
spectators, which the agent was more willing to avoid than he. That was
the way the land agent paid the squatter.

It seemed, however, a little too bad, to make a fine English gentleman,
feel as "flat" as Longworth appeared to feel; yet it was undoubtedly the
only method by which Smith could recover a farthing. The agents, it was
supposed, did not design to pay for any improvements; indeed, some very
hard and unjust incidents occurred in connection with, that matter, and
probably Smith was about the only one, who ever received the full value of
his claim.

There was committed about this time, a most shocking murder, in the London
district. A farmer who had a respectable family, consisting of a wife and
several children, became so addicted to the use of spirituous liquors,
that he neglected both his family and farm so much, that his friends felt
called upon to request the distiller, who was his near neighbor, to
furnish him with no more intoxicating drink. This, so exasperated the
poor, ruined and besotted wretch, that he raved like a madman--such as he
undoubtedly was--crazed and infuriated, by the contents of the poisoned
cup of liquid damnation, held to his lips by a neighboring distiller; a
fellow-being, who for the consideration of a few shillings, could see his
neighbor made a brute and his family left in destitution and sorrow.
Perhaps, however, he did not anticipate a termination so fearful; yet that
is but a poor excuse for one who lives by the sale of rum. When a
rumseller gives that to a man, which he knows will "steal away his
brains," and make him a maniac, how can he anticipate his future conduct?
And who is responsible? Ah, who?

When Severin found he could get no more intoxicating beverage, he in his
demoniacal rage, conceived the idea of despatching his whole family, and
set about his purpose by first snatching the young babe and casting it
into the fire! When the poor wife and mother came shrieking to the rescue
of her darling infant, he with one furious blow, laid her a bleeding
corpse at his feet! Two other young children he next murdered, and left
them mingling their blood with that of their mother's, while he ran
furiously after the two older ones, who were endeavoring to escape to a
neighbor's for assistance; and overtaking, killed them both! When the
miserable wretch had completed his hellish design, he started for his
nearest neighbor, named Smith, and told him that there was a black and a
white man at his house, murdering his family, requesting him to go to
their assistance. Mrs. Smith, believing that Severin designed to murder
her husband, insisted on his calling his young men to assist him, which he
did; and on arriving at the scene of slaughter, a most horrid spectacle
was before them: five dead bodies weltering in blood, aside from that of
the innocent babe, whose little form lay roasted and charred, on the fatal
and bloody hearthstone of the drunkard! Victims all, of an intoxicated
husband and father! When the guilty man saw the mangled remains of his
household, he only increased his depravity by trying to make others
responsible for the wicked deed,--exclaiming in feigned anguish, "my dear
wife! my poor children! I was afraid they would murder you! Oh, my lost
family!" &c. Community was soon alarmed; Severin, arrested, tried,
convicted, and sentenced to suffer the extreme penalty of the law.

It is sufficient for us to say, that the evidence was clear and
conclusive, that he was the only murderer of his family; nor was it
doubted that Mrs. Smith's suspicion was correct; yet, with all the array
of positive testimony brought against him, he denied the commission of the
crime to the last moment of his life! When brought out for execution, he
was placed under the gallows, and the rope with its fatal noose adjusted
around his neck, when one of the attorneys arose, and with great
solemnity, addressed him, in the most impressive manner: "We have done,"
said he, "all in our power to save your life; but you are justly
condemned, and in a few minutes more, will enter the presence of the
All-seeing eye of Jehovah; now let me beseech you, in the name of God, to
tell the truth, before you die." Severin declared himself innocent of the
crime, for which he was about to suffer; but was consoled, he said, with
the belief that he should, in a few short moments, meet in blissful
re-union his dear, murdered wife and children in heaven, to part no more!

Prayers were read; and during the reading of the Lord's prayer, at the
words "Thy will be done," the hardened wretch was launched into eternity.

No room was left to doubt the fact, that Severin with his own hand
destroyed the life of his unhappy and abused wife, and also that of his
helpless family. Yet in one sense, may we say with the murderer, it was
not he who committed the awful and inhuman deed, but boldly and truthfully
charge it to man's bitterest foe--Rum! What but the maddening effects of
spirituous liquors, could so demoralize, so demonize a man, as to convert
the once loving husband and proud father, into a reckless fiend, a
heartless savage? Oh, Rum! earth contains not another so fell a foe!

Should any who may read these humble pages, find an effectual warning in
the unhappy end of Severin, one which shall induce them to pause in their
course, or at once and forever abandon the use of alcoholic drinks, I
shall gratefully feel that I have not written this incident in vain.

Before I left Wilberforce, the Rev. S.E. Cornish, made a visit, and
preached the Word of Life to the colony, greatly to the satisfaction and
comfort of the settlers. After distributing liberally of his abundance,
to his poor brethren, he departed for the States, attended by the prayers
and blessings of the Wilberforce colonists.



I have spoken in the preceding chapter, of a visit from the Rev. S.E.
Cornish, to the colony. He had previously written me, concerning the
object of his proposed visit, which was to obtain the depositions of the
board of managers, relative to all the money received through their agents
for the colony. He was sent to Canada then, and once afterwards, for and
at the expense of A. Tappan, on business pertaining to the law-suit
instituted by I. Lewis against that gentleman, for defamation of
character. The depositions taken in the colony, with the expense of twice
sending an agent to Canada, must have made a round sum for that kind
gentleman to pay, merely for telling a truth already known!

Mr. Cornish had also been informed of my intention to leave the colony,
and that my family were already gone. He, knowing something concerning the
state of things, urged me to remain at least, until his arrival, as will
be seen by a reference to his letter in the appendix.

As I look back on those scenes of labor and trial, I find cause for
deep humiliation and gratitude to God, for His goodness and gracious
protection, over my frail life, through unseen dangers of various kinds,
and for his continued favors and unmerited blessings. Many of my fellow
men have fallen in death's cold embrace since that time, while my health
and life has been mercifully preserved.

Three of the leading characters of the Wilberforce colony are now dead.
Rev. Benjamin Paul, lies in the silent grave-yard in Wilberforce, C.W. His
brother, Rev. Nathaniel Paul, also sleeps the dreamless sleep of death,
and his dust rests in the beautiful cemetery in Albany, N.Y.

Israel Lewis has also finished his earthly career after robbing the poor
of their just dues, and persecuting those who endeavored to defend them;
after living in extravagance--"faring sumptuously every day,"--he became
reduced in circumstances; despised and dishonored, his proud spirit was at
last broken. His health gave way; when at length, unattended and alone, he
found his way to a hospital in Montreal, where he soon after died, leaving
not enough of all his gains to afford him a decent burial!

Oh, what a reward "for all his labor under the sun!" His fame, his wealth,
and his law-suits, all have perished with his memory. Poor man!

Israel Lewis was born a slave, raised on a Southern plantation, and
subjected to all the cruelties and deprivations of a bondman. His natural
abilities were above mediocrity, but having never had the advantages of an
education, or the privileges of a society calculated to cultivate and
refine his natural aspiring intellect, and to direct his indomitable will
in the acquirement of the more imperishable graces of the human heart, he
had come to manhood with a determined, selfish disposition, to accomplish
whatever gratified his vanity or administered to the wants of his animal

And may we not, with propriety here inquire, whether our common Father,
who has declared himself to be "no respecter of persons," has endowed men
with enlarged capacities for the attainment of that knowledge and wisdom,
so requisite to the elevation of character,--for the express purpose
of seeing them made beasts of burden, and their superior faculties
prostituted by the sensuality imposed by Slavery, and to be sold as
chattels, with impunity? I tell you, nay. The day when Almighty God will
avenge the work of his own hands, hasteth greatly! Were it not so, we
might rejoice in the ignorance of the poor slaves, and pray that none of
them may ever be endowed with a superior intellect to that of the brutes
they are made to resemble. Then would the proud spirit no longer chafe,
and manhood writhe in the unbroken chain; but, like the ox to the yoke or
the horse to the harness, they might submit, without a conscious violation
of their dearest and God given rights. But we were speaking of Israel

A natural energy and strength of character, he had inherited; a malicious,
selfish, and consequently a deceptive disposition, his life as a slave had
undoubtedly bestowed upon him. Intellect must have scope, and when nothing
is left within its grasp but vice, can we wonder that the slave possessing
the most talent, should generally prove the greatest villain.

Uneducated as was Lewis, his quick perception, his ungoverned passions,
and his native independence, not only made him a dangerous slave, but an
unfaithful and overbearing companion. He, however, took a wife--a slave
like himself,--whose devotedness and good sense, cannot be made manifest,
more than in her willingness to leave all that was dear to her on earth,
and flee from their birth-place, she knew not whither; but confiding in
the professed love and protection of her husband, she cheerfully followed
him to the dense forest, in search of that freedom, denied them in their
native country,--submitting herself gladly to all the hardships and
fearful anxieties of a fugitive slave. What to her were horsemen, armed
with dirk and rifle! What though the trained and inhuman blood-hound bayed
upon their track! Was not he who had sworn a life-long allegiance to her
by her side! Should he be killed or retaken, what could she desire, but to
be his companion still! Slavery even, bitter as was the cup, might contain
for her _one sweet drop_, while connubial love lighted up their rude
cabin, and sweetened their daily toil; but the additional anticipation of
LIBERTY, to their domestic happiness--oh blessed hope! How it quickened
their weary footsteps, and, with fixed eyes upon the star of the North,
they pressed forward through every difficulty, until they finally reached
Cincinnati, O. There they lived quietly, and with others, suffered the
terrors of the mob, where also he was chosen agent, to seek a more safe
and quiet home for his afflicted and outcast countrymen. The office was
accepted, and Lewis became the founder of the Wilberforce colony.

The personal appearance of Israel Lewis was prepossessing; his manner and
address easy and commanding. To those unacquainted with his private life,
his ungoverned passions, and his unprincipled, revengeful disposition, he
could appear the gentleman, the philanthropist, and the Christian.

His education was limited; yet he had managed to gather a sufficient
knowledge of the sciences to enable him to read and write, together with
quite a fund of general information; and then his shrewdness and tact
accomplished all the rest. To strangers he could appear a ripe scholar, if
left unquestioned. He was a good speaker, and once spake with eloquence
and marked effect before the Legislature, assembled in the Senate Chamber,
at Albany, N.Y.

Had the childhood of Mr. Lewis been passed under more favorable auspices;
had his intellectual faculties been so cultivated as to predominate over
his animal propensities, and his towering aspirations directed toward the
accomplishment of acts, lofty in their benevolence, noble in their
sacrifice, high in their honorable purpose, and great in their purity; I
can but believe that his powerful intellect would have achieved the fame
of a Lundy, or would have bequeathed to his brethren a memory like that of
a Clarkson. Instead, we have found him devoting his energies to the
gratification of his avarice, pride, and ambition--characteristics
directly opposed to the deportment of the humble Christian, and such as
our Heavenly Father has never promised to prosper. How truly has "the wise
man" said, "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that
hateth gifts shall live." How strikingly has this passage been verified in
the course of Lewis! For a few paltry sums of gain, could he consent, not
alone to rob the poor, for whom it was kindly given as unto the Lord, but
to turn scornfully away from that poor, illiterate, and humble slave wife,
whom he had, in their mutual adversity, vowed to cherish in _prosperity_
as well as in all other circumstances through life. That wife, who had
borne with him the sorrows of Slavery--the humble choice of a bondman!
She, who fled with him anticipating additional happiness in a life of
freedom! Poor woman! Disappointment is of an earthly growth, yet God is
merciful; notwithstanding we have the same authority as above, for saying
that "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord:
though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished."

In the hands of a righteous Judge we leave him, who, for the wealth that
perisheth,--who, for worldly honor and selfish gratification, could barter
his honesty and integrity, as "Esau, who sold his birth-right for a mess
of pottage."

To me the lesson is an impressive one, and I am thinking it would be well
for us all to examine the foundation on which we stand. If based upon the
solid and broad foundation of christianity, doing to others in all things
as we would they should do to us, sacrificing on all occasions our own
ease, and worldly honor, for the benefit of our fellow-men, and the
good of our country, then indeed, we need fear no evil; if the winds
of adversity howl about our dwelling, we shall find it will stand,
being founded on a ROCK. But if we build upon "the sands" of fame or
self-aggrandizement, and, like the towering oak, lift our insignificant
heads in proud defiance of the coming storm, we may expect that our
superstruction will fall! "And great will be the fall of it!"



Having closed my business in Wilberforce, I prepared to leave on the
expiration of my term of office as township clerk, which was now near
at hand. Notwithstanding, I ever felt a sensation of relief and pleasure,
when I thought of returning to my old home and friends in the States, yet
as often as I look abroad over the settlement and remember all my glowing
hopes,--all my delightful anticipations of a prosperous future for those
poor, struggling colonists; when I recollected with what zeal and honest
purpose, with what sincerity and sacrifice I had prosecuted my labor among
them,--a dark shadow of disappointment would flit across my mind, however
welcome it might be. That I had firm and tried friends in the colony, I
had never the least reason to doubt, not to suppose their number less
after a five years residence with them; but our expectations had not been
realized. Our hope of settling a township, to be represented in Parliament
by one of our own people, was now forever blasted. I remembered too, that
many of the colonists had been unjustly incited against my course; but in
the retrospect my heart did not condemn me. Errors many, no doubt I had
committed; but I was grateful, when reviewing the whole ground, for a
conscience void of offence toward God and man; and I finally took my leave
of all, craving the choicest blessings of Heaven to rest upon that infant
colony and its interests.

On the nineteenth day of January, 1837, I left Wilberforce, passing
through Brantford, Hamilton, Queenston, Lewiston, and from thence
to Rochester. During my journey, I could not avoid feeling sad and
despondent, as my mind incessantly returned to the review of my mission,
upon which I could look with no other decision than that of an entire
failure. I had spent my time, wasted my substance for naught, and was now
returning to my dependant family,--that, with myself, had been stripped of
nearly every means of comfort and support.

What would my Rochester friends think of my conduct? Notwithstanding all
my despondency and evil foreboding at that time, I am now well satisfied
that my labor was not all in vain, but that some good did result from it.

As I drew near the city, a gloom like thick darkness overshadowed me: I
thought of the unfavorable transactions which had occurred between the
directors of the colony and my friends in Rochester, and fell to
wondering how they would receive me.

On the twenty-third of January, 1837, I finally re-entered the city
penniless; but as I soon found, not so friendless as my fears would have
it. Among, the first to welcome me back to my old home, was that friend
of "blessed memory," Everard Peck, who had been apprised of some of the
losses I had met and the trials I had passed through. This gentleman was
also one of the first to propose to be one of five men, who should loan me
one hundred dollars each, for five years. Through the disinterested
kindness of this worthy gentleman, I was in a few days after my arrival,
well established in a store of provisions and groceries. The five kind
gentlemen, to whom I was so deeply indebted for the loan, were: Everard
Peck, George A. Avery, Samuel D. Porter, Levi W. Sibley, and Griffith,
Brother & Co.

This noble act of generosity and kindness, on the part of my friends, to
furnish me with the means to commence business, especially when their
prospect was anything but flattering, regarding my ever being able to
refund their well-timed and gracious liberality,--affected me more deeply
than all the censure and persecution I had elsewhere received. Their frown
and displeasure, I was better prepared to meet than this considerate act
of Christian sympathy, which I am not ashamed to say melted me to tears,
and I resolved to show my appreciation of their kindness by an industry
and diligence in business hitherto unsurpassed.

E. Bardwell, then a merchant on Exchange Street, next laid me under a
lasting obligation by offering to sell me goods on credit; others
proffered assistance by promising their continual patronage, which was to
me the same as cash,--and soon the store I had opened on Main Street, was
doing an extensive business. My profits were small to be sure, and I had
a heavy rent to pay for my store and dwelling, yet I was making a
comfortable living for my family, and laying by something to reimburse the
kind friends who had helped me in the time of need, when I found that the
health of my family required more of my time and assistance than ever
before. My oldest daughter, who, I have before mentioned, having taken a
violent cold on Lake Erie, was now confined to her bed. All that could be
done to save the life of a darling child--our first born--was done; and if
we sometimes went beyond our means, it was a satisfaction to us to see her
enjoy some of the comforts of life of which my mission to Canada had
deprived her. One physician after another was employed to stay the
approach of the destroyer: some said they could cure her, if paid in
advance; to all of which I cheerfully acceded, but only to see our beloved
sink lower, and patiently pine away.

No one but a parent who has watched the rapid decline of a darling child,
and marked with a bursting heart the approaching footsteps of the spoiler,
can imagine how powerless we felt at that time. The wealth of the Indias,
had we possessed it, would have been freely given, although it would have
been unavailing, to shield that loved and gentle form from pain, and we
were obliged to look hopelessly on, while our little patient, suffering
daughter sank lower and lower every day. In vain were our parental arms
outstretched for her protection; from death we could not save her. She had
long since ceased to glide about the house, and soothe with her silvery
tones all the childish fears of the little ones. Helpless she now lay,
burning with fever, and wasting from our sight, "till soft as the dew on
the twilight descending," the cold damps of death gathered on her youthful
brow. One pleasant morning after passing a restless night, I observed her
to gaze earnestly upward, and a moment after I called her name but
received no answer.

  "Her languishing head was at rest;
    Its thinkings and achings were o'er;
  Her quiet, immoveable breast,
    Was heaved by affliction no more."

On the fifteenth day of April, 1837, she sweetly fell asleep, aged eleven
years. Sorrowfully we followed her remains to Mount Hope, where we laid
her down to rest until the resurrection morning. Death had now made its
first inroad in our family circle, and since then we have laid two other
loved ones by her side. We sorrowed, but not without hope.

My business continued to prosper, and I concluded to buy a small variety
store, containing some three or four hundred dollars worth of goods on the
corner of Main and North Streets, formerly owned by Mr. Snow, but, having
two stores on my hands, I did not make much by the trade.

The first summer after I returned to Rochester, the friends of temperance
made a fine celebration, and gave me the privilege of providing the

I considered it not only a privilege, but an honor, and felt very grateful
to the committee who conferred the favor upon me.

The celebration came off on the Fourth of July, and was indeed a splendid
affair. The multitude were addressed on the public square, by some of the
best speakers in the country. I laid in a large quantity of provisions of
every available kind, built a bower, hired waiters, and prepared seats for
five hundred to dine; but when the oration was over, and the multitude
came to the table, I found that as many more seats were wanted. We,
however, accommodated as many as we could, at one dollar each, and all
passed off well, to the great satisfaction of all concerned.

When all was over, and the friends learned that I had on hand a large
amount of cooked provision, they continued their kindness by purchasing
it, thus preventing any loss on my part.

My store on the corner of Main and North Streets, was at the head of the
market, and I was enabled to supply both of my stores with country produce
on the best possible terms. I kept two clerks at each store, and all
seemed prosperous for a time, when from some cause, which I could never
understand, my business began to fail. My family had ever lived prudently,
and I knew that was not the cause. I thought to better my circumstances by
taking a store in the Rochester House, but that proved to be a bad stand
for my business, and after one year, I removed to Buffalo Street, opposite
the Court House. I ought to say, that as soon as I found that my income
was getting less than my expenses, I went to the gentlemen who had loaned
me the five hundred dollars, and showed them the true state of my affairs,
and they kindly agreed to take fifty per cent., which I paid them.

After locating on Buffalo Street, I took in a partner, named John Lee, a
young man, active and industrious, who paid into the firm three hundred
dollars, with which we bought goods. With what I had on hand, this raised
the joint stock to about a thousand dollars, on which we were making
frequent additions, and on which we had an insurance of six hundred
dollars. Our business was now more prosperous than at any previous time,
and we began to look up with hope and confidence in our final success.
One night I returned to my home as usual, leaving Lee in the store. About
twelve o'clock, Mr. Morris awoke me with a few loud raps, and the
announcement that my store was on fire and a part of my goods in the
street! I hastened to the place, where I found, as he had said, what was
saved from the fire piled up in the street and the fire extinguished. The
building was greatly damaged and the goods they rescued were nearly
ruined. Now we were thrown out of business, and the firm was dissolved.
With the assistance of W.S. Bishop, a lawyer, we made out the amount of
damage, which was readily paid by the agent for the insurance company.

When the Fourth of July came round again, the temperance men resolved on
having another demonstration, and as before, I was requested to supply the
dinner, which I did, after the same manner as the year previous.

Having been thrown out of business by the fire, I began to examine my
pecuniary matters, and found that I was some three or four hundred
dollars in debt, which I had no means of paying. True, I had met with a
great misfortune, but I felt that to be an honest man I must meet all
obligations, whether legally bound to do so or not; yet it was beyond my
power at that time, and I finally concluded to leave the city, and try to
better my condition by some other business, or at least to clear myself
from debt.



I removed with my family to the village of Canandaigua, where I commenced
teaching a school for colored children, assisted by my daughter. The
school was sustained partly by the liberality of the citizens of the
village, and partly by donations from abroad. It was continued two years,
and the children made rapid progress while they were under our tuition.

Soon after I left Rochester, I visited New York city, and while there, I
joined "The African Methodist Episcopal Conference." Bishop Brown, of
Philadelphia, presided over the deliberations of that body, and appeared
to be a man of deep piety, as well as apt in business, and was a native of
one of the Carolinas. I found a pleasing acquaintance also, with Bishop
Walters of Baltimore, Md. He was small in stature; but a powerful speaker,
and discharged every duty with "an eye single to the glory of God." He has
now gone to give an account of his stewardship, and I pray that "his
mantle may fall" upon one as capable of leading our people as he. The
conference consisted of some sixty or seventy ministers of the gospel,
with these two Bishops at their head. The conference continued its session
ten days. When it was closed, Bishop Brown, with several others, started
on a visit to the West. They called at Rochester, and then passed over to
Canada, where a conference was to be holden. We arrived, after a pleasant
journey, at Hamilton, where the English government have a regiment of
black soldiers stationed. It was common, in passing through the streets of
Hamilton, to meet every few rods, a colored man in uniform, with a sword
at his side, marching about in all the military pomp allowed only to white
men in this _free republic_.

All being in readiness, Bishop Brown opened the conference under the
authority of Her Britannic Majesty, with great solemnity, which seemed
to be felt by the whole assembly. This meeting appeared to me far
more interesting than the one we had attended in New York city. The
colored people were much more numerous in Hamilton, and in far better
circumstances than in New York. It is a hard case to be poor in any large
city, but to be both poor and black, as was the condition of the majority
of our friends in New York, was indeed a terrible calamity. Every class,
no matter how worthless they might be, would be allowed to rent a house in
preference to a colored man. The consequence was, our people were crowded
back into the most unhealthy alleys, in old dilapidated tenements unfit
for human beings to dwell in, and such as could not be disposed of to any
other class of people. I am happy to say, however, that a favorable change
has taken place in New York, since the time of which I am speaking.
Capitalists have noted the good reputation of the colored people as
tenants, and have of late erected good dwellings for their accommodation.
In Hamilton there was none of that wretchedness and squalid poverty, nor
any of that drunken rowdyism so common in Eastern cities, perceivable
among the colored people.

Our conference was largely attended by all classes, both black and white,
--many of the latter invited the Bishop with his associates to their
dwellings to dine, indeed we seldom took a meal at our lodgings, so
constantly were we solicited by friends to accompany them home.

We also found many fugitive slaves in that city, many of whom were
intelligent mechanics. Some of them took us about the place, showing us
the different buildings they were engaged in erecting; quite a number
were employed in building a church which appeared to be done in a
workman-like manner.

In the meantime our meeting was progressing in a very interesting
manner, and when the closing services were commenced, the house was filled
to overflowing; still many could not be accommodated. The preaching was
solemn and impressive, and it really seemed to me that the glory of God
filled the house in which we worshipped; saints rejoiced and shouted
"glory to God, in the highest," while sinners trembled and cried out,
"what must we do to be saved from the wrath to come." There were several
hopeful conversions during the session of conference; and after its close
we spent one day in making social calls, and viewing the city and its

Burlington Bay makes an excellent harbor for shipping, while Burlington
Heights loom up on the north in all their wild and terrific grandeur. Near
the bay resides Mr. McNab, so notorious in the history of the Canadian
revolution. We went in a large company to look at his beautiful grounds
and residence, over which we were politely conducted by his amiable lady.

It was indeed a lordly mansion, with its surroundings laid out in the
English style of princely magnificence.

On our return to the city at evening, we were invited to attend a grand
soiree, got up in honor of the Bishop's first visit to that place. Several
families of colored people combined to provide the splendid entertainment,
while one lady presided at the board. She was very beautiful and very
dark; but a complete model of grace and elegance, conversing with perfect
ease and intelligence with all, both black and white ministers, who
surrounded the festive board, as well as our Irish friends, not a few of
whom were present. One honest son of the Emerald Isle entered, and not
understanding the matter, inquired of his brother "Pat," in rather a loud
whisper, "What's all them nagurs setting to that table for?" He, however,
soon satisfied himself, and all passed off quietly and in excellent order.
At a late hour the company, after a benediction, withdrew and dispersed.

We left Hamilton the following morning, feeling grateful and pleased with
our meeting and visit.

It was a beautiful morning; the lake was still, no sound was heard but the
rushing waves, as our boat moved on through its placid waters, toward our
destination, then called Fort George, now Niagara, where we took stage for
the Falls.

At that place of resort, we stopped to view the stupendous work of
Almighty God, and listen to the ceaseless thundering of the cataract. How
tame appear the works of art, and how insignificant the bearing of proud,
puny man, compared with the awful grandeur of that natural curiosity. Yet
there, the rich from all parts of the world, do congregate! There you will
find the idle, swaggering slaveholder, blustering about in lordly style;
boasting of his wealth; betting and gambling; ready to fight, if his
slightest wish is not granted, and lavishing his cash on all who have the
least claim upon him. Ah, well can he afford to be liberal,--well can he
afford to spend thousands yearly at our Northern watering places; he has
plenty of human chattels at home, toiling year after year for his benefit.
The little hoe-cake he gives them, takes but a mill of the wealth with
which they fill his purse; and should his extravagance lighten it
somewhat, he has only to order his brutal overseer to sell--soul and body
--some poor creature; perchance a husband, or a wife, or a child, and
forward to him the proceeds of the sale. While the wretched slave marches
South with a gang, under the lash, he lavishes his funds in extravagant
living,--funds gathered from the tears and blood of a helpless human
being. Have you, dear reader, ever watched the slaveholder at such places
as I have, gliding through the shady groves, or riding in his splendid
carriage, dressed in the richest attire, and with no wish ungratified that
gold can purchase; and have you ever been guilty of envying him, or of
wishing yourself in his condition? If so, think of the curse which rests
on him who grinds the face of the poor. Think of his doom in the day of
final retribution, when he shall receive at the bar of a righteous Judge,
"according to the deeds done in the body," and not according to his wealth
and power. Think you, that the prayers, cries, and pleadings of the
down-trodden slave that for years have been ascending to the throne of a
just God, will never be avenged? Yea, verily, the day of reckoning hastens
on apace, and though, "He bear long with them; He will surely avenge them
of their adversaries; and that speedily!"

As we pursued our journey to Buffalo, we passed Grand Island, from whence
Mordecai Emanuel Noah, some years ago issued a proclamation, calling on
the Jews to come and build on that island the "City of Refuge," but which
I believe was not responded to, as I saw it remained in its native
wildness. He had also a monument erected there at the time, which might be
seen from the highway and canal, consisting of a white marble slab, six
feet in height, with a suitable inscription upon it, to direct the poor
Jew to the City of Refuge.

It was quite conspicuous, but not so magnificent as Gen. Brock's at
Queenston Heights.

Arrived at Buffalo, we held several meetings which were very interesting.
The colored people were then numerous in that city, and owned one of the
largest churches in Western New York. We found a large and prosperous
society under the superintendence of Elder Weir, who was a good and
talented man, setting a godly example for his flock to imitate. At Buffalo
I parted with my pleasant and instructive traveling companion, Bishop
Brown, never to meet again on the shores of time. Soon after that pleasant
journey he died, and passed from his labor to reward.

Buffalo was then, as now a great place for business. Vessels from all
parts of the country crowded the docks, and I then thought that it must in
time become one of the largest cities in the Union. After a pleasant visit
with our people there, I returned to my home in Canandaigua, where I now
began to feel quite settled.

I had been requested to act as agent for the "Anti-Slavery Standard," with
which I complied, and leaving my daughter to teach the school, I spent the
most of my time in traveling through the country to advance the interests
of that paper.

When I returned from Buffalo, she was complaining of poor health, nor was
it long before we saw that she was rapidly declining.

This beloved daughter, I had spared no pains nor money to educate and
qualify for teaching. I had encountered all the trials and difficulties
that every colored man meets, in his exertions to educate his family. I
had experienced enough to make me fear that I should not always be able to
get my children, into good schools, and therefore determined at whatever
cost, to educate this child thoroughly, that she might be able, not only
to provide for her own wants, but to teach her younger brothers and
sisters, should they be deprived of the advantages of a good school.
Well had she rewarded my labor; well had she realized all my fondest hopes
and expectations,--but alas! for human foresight and worldly wisdom! The
accomplishments and qualifications of a teacher were attained; and proudly
we looked for the achievement of our long-contemplated design. How hard to
believe that the fell destroyer was upon her track! Her education had
qualified her for teaching the sciences; but now I saw, that her faith in
the religion of the blessed Christ, was assisting her to teach her own
heart a lesson of patience, and quiet submission to the will of Him who
holds the issues of life,--and Oh, how difficult for us to learn the
solemn lesson, that her wasting form, her gradual sinking away, was
hourly setting before us.

Slowly her strength failed; she, however, saw our sorrowful anxiety, and
would try to relieve it with a cheerful appearance. One day perhaps she
would be able to walk about, which would revive our wavering hope; the
next she was prostrate and suffering; then hope died and we were sad! All
the spring time she languished; the summer came, the roses bloomed, and
the grain began to ripen, but she was wasting away. The orchard yielded
its golden harvest; the birds sang merrily on the trees, but a dark shadow
had fallen on our hearthstone, and a gloom, like the pall of death, rested
on our household. Her place at table was already vacant; no longer she
called the little ones about her to hear them repeat their tasks,--all of
which admonished us, that soon the bed where we could now see her, would
be vacated; and we should no longer witness her patient smile, and know
that she was still with us. The pastor of the Baptist church often called
to pray with, and for, the quiet sufferer, which she appreciated very
highly, for she was a Christian in every sense of the word.

On the thirtieth day of August, at about eleven o'clock, A.M., without a
struggle or a groan, her spirit returned to God who gave it. "Sweetly as
babes sleep," she sank into the embrace of death. Happily, triumphantly,
had she seen the grim messenger approach; but she knew whom she had
believed, and that He was able to keep that which she had committed to
Him, unto the resurrection of the just.

She had previously made a confession of her faith in Christ, and had been
buried with Him in baptism. A few days after her demise, a long, sad train
wound its way to the village church yard, where we deposited the remains
of our beloved,--Patience Jane Steward, in the eighteenth year of her age;
and then returned to our desolate house, to realize that she had left a
world of pain and sorrow, where the fairest rose conceals a thorn, the
sweetest cup a bitter drop, for a home where the flowers would never fade,
and where pain, sorrow and death will never come. We all felt the solemn
and impressive warning, "Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think
not, the Son of Man cometh."

As often as I recalled her triumphant, peaceful death, her firm reliance
on God, and sweet submission to His will, I could not forbear contrasting
her departure with that of Mrs. Helm, whose death I have elsewhere
described; and could fervently pray, that I might live the life of the
righteous, that my last end might be like hers.

  "Behold the Western evening light,
    It melts in deep'ning gloom;
  So calmly Christians sink away,
    Descending to the tomb.

  The winds breathe low, the withering leaf
    Scarce whispers from the tree,--
  So gently flows the parting breath,
    When good folks cease to be.

  How beautiful on all the hills,
    The crimson light is shed;
  'Tis like the peace the Christian gives,
    To mourners round his bed.

  How mildly on the wandering cloud,
    The sunset beam is cast,--
  'Tis like the mem'ry left behind,
    When loved ones breathe their last.

  And now above the dews of night,
    The yellow star appears;
  So faith springs in the breast of those,
    Whose eyes are bathed in tears.

  But soon the morning's happier light,
    Its glory shall restore;
  And eyelids that are sealed in death,
    Shall wake to close no more."



The anti-slavery friends in Canandaigua, had resolved to celebrate the
anniversary of the West India emancipation, in suitable manner in that
village, for which funds had been unsparingly collected, to defray the
expenses of the coming demonstration. The first of August, 1847, fell on
Sunday, and our people concluded to devote that day to religious meetings,
and the second to their proposed celebration.

Frederick Douglass and Mr. Van Loon, from Poughkeepsie, addressed the
people on the Sabbath; and also, on the same evening, a large concourse at
the Court House. The day following, there were not less than ten thousand
people assembled on the beautiful grounds, belonging to the village
Academy-attentive listeners all to the eloquent speeches delivered, and
interested spectators of the imposing exercises.

When the vast multitude had convened, the exercises were commenced by the
Rev. S.R. Ward, who addressed the throne of grace, after which, Mr.
Frederick Douglass delivered an oration, in a style of eloquence which
only Mr. Douglass himself can equal, followed by a song from the Geneva
choir, and music by Barring's band. Rev. H.H. Garnet, editor of "The
National Watchman," next spake, and with marked effect, followed by
Messrs. Ward and Douglass; after which, the assemblage formed a
procession, and marching to the Canandaigua Hotel, partook of a sumptuous
dinner, provided by the proprietor of that house. At six P.M., they again
assembled on the square, and were most eloquently addressed by both Ward
and Garnet; at the close, they repaired to the ladies' fair, where they
found everything in a condition which spake well for the enterprise and
industry of our colored sisters. Their articles for sale, were of a choice
and considerate selection, and such as sold rapidly and at fair prices.
When all was pleasantly over, the ladies contributed twenty dollars
toward paying the speakers present.

A most beautiful ode was composed by a warm and generous friend of the
cause, which was sung in the grove, in a spirit which produced a thrilling
interest. Gladly would I give the reader the whole composition, but its
length makes it objectionable for this place, but should they happen to
hear a soul-stirring and sublime ode, commencing with,

  "Hail! to this day returning;
  Let all to Heaven aspire," &c.,

they may know it is the one to which I refer.

It was indeed, a glorious day for the colored population generally; and
many were the indications of a diminution of that prejudice so prevalent
everywhere. Some, who had supposed the colored man so inferior to
themselves as to be incapable of making an interesting speech, were
convinced of their error, after hearing Messrs. Douglass, Ward and Garnet.
Mr. Van Loon was a white clergyman, but a brother indeed; his soul
illumined by the pure light of the gospel of peace; his heart full of
sympathy for the oppressed; his tongue pleading eloquently for equal
rights; and his hands busily engaged in breaking every yoke, resting on
the necks of poor humanity. So vigorously, so zealously did he unfold the
horrors of the slave system; so truthfully and faithfully did he expose
the treachery of northern politicians, and so pathetically did he appeal
to the humanity of every professed Christian to speak out boldly for the
dumb; to shield, by the holy principles of their religion, the poor,
bound, illiterate slave, from Southern cruelty and bondage,--that some of
our aristocratic citizens, some of our white savans, repaid his truthful
eloquence, by visiting upon him the bitterest maledictions. From the
negro, said they, we will accept these statements as true,--from him, they
are pertinent and forcible; but when such unpalatable truths are uttered
by a white clergyman, we cannot abide, nor will we listen to them!

Let consistency blush, and justice hang down its head! Is not truth the
same, whether proclaimed by black or white,--bond or free? Is a falsehood
to be pardoned because uttered by a negro? If indeed, as was admitted, the
sentiments expressed by our eloquent colored speakers, were _true_, could
they be false, when enforced by our intellectual friend, Van Loon?
Certainly not; nor would the case have been so decided by these Solons, in
any other case: or where the prejudice against color had not warped and
blinded their otherwise good judgments. Our speaker, however, performed
his duty faithfully, and with great satisfaction to the colored people and
their true friends present.

The remains of this fearless champion of liberty; this humble disciple of
the despised Nazarene, now sleeps in death, beside the placid waters
of the Hudson, while his cherished memory lives in the affections of
thousands, who "are ready to perish," and is honored by the pure in heart,
wherever his name has been known throughout the land. In the day of final
reckoning, think you, he will regret having plead the cause of the
bondman? Ah, no; nor can we doubt that to him will be rendered the
welcome plaudits: "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into
the joy of thy Lord. Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will
make thee a ruler over many things." What then are the few light
afflictions endured in this life, when compared with "an eternal weight
of glory," awarded to the faithful in that which is to come?

Pleasant, happy, and beneficial, as had been the reunion of old and tried
friends, to celebrate a glorious event, yet, like all earthly enjoyments,
it was brought to a termination, reluctant as were the friends to
separate. Since that day, many have been the demonstrations of grateful
joy and gladness on the glorious anniversary of the emancipation of slaves
on the West India Islands; and yet, in this boasted "land of the free, and
home of the brave;" this famous and declared _free_ Republic,--the
American slave still clanks his heavy chain, and wears the galling yoke
of the bondman!



For several years past, anti-slavery truth has been spreading, and in
proportion as light has shone upon the "peculiar institution," exposing to
the world its crimes and blood,--enstamping upon its frontlet, "THE SUM OF
ALL VILLAINIES,"--has the wrath of the impious slaveholder been kindled,
and his arm outstretched to strengthen the chain, and press closer the
yoke upon the helpless slave, proving conclusively that he loves darkness
because his deeds are evil. Nor is this all; he and his apologists will
insolently tell you, that _you_ are the guilty ones who have tightened the
bonds of the slave, increased his hardships, and blighted his prospect of
freedom, by your mistaken kindness, in showing the slaveholder the
enormity of his sin! Can this be so? Have we any direct influence over his
human chattels? None. Then who is it that rivets the chain and increases
the already heavy burden of the crushed slave, but he who has the power to
do with him as he wills? He it is, who has been thrust, unwillingly
perhaps, into sufficient light to show him his moral corruption, and the
character of the sin he is daily committing; he it is, whose avarice and
idleness induces to hold fast that which is to him a source of wealth,--
and by no means to allow the same light to fall in upon the darkened
intellect of his slave property, lest his riches "take to themselves
wings;" or, as may be more properly said, _take to themselves legs and run

What stronger proof can we ask in favor of our position, than the
intolerant spirit of the South? If the system and practice of Slavery is a
righteous one, instituted by an All-wise God, certainly no human power--
especially one so impotent and futile as the abolition power is said to be
--can ever overthrow it. Why then are the mails so closely examined, and
fines imposed on prohibited anti-slavery documents? Is it beyond their
power to confute the arguments adduced, or are they fearful that a ray of
Northern light may fall on the mind of some listening slave, and direct
him to the depot of an under-ground railroad? Judge ye!

What but this same fearful and intolerant spirit,--this over-bearing,
boasting spirit, was it, that cowardly attacked a Christian Senator, while
seated unsuspectingly at his desk, and felled him to the floor, bleeding
and senseless? Was not the villainous blow which fell upon the honored
head of CHARLES SUMNER, dealt by the infamous Brooks of South Carolina,
aimed at the free speech of the entire North? Was it, think you, a
personal enmity that the cowardly scoundrel had toward our worthy Northern
Senator, which induced the attack? No, no. Brooks spake for the South, and
boldly has it responded--Amen!

It has said through its representatives, that you Northerners are becoming
too bold in speaking of our sin, and we will use brute force to repel it--
an argument with which we are familiar. You have told us that we ought not
to hold slaves, nor extend slave territory, which will in a measure
destroy our slave market, and prove injurious to our slave-breeding
population. You have told us we have no right to usurp Kansas,--no right
to murder "Free State men," and no right to sustain there, a set of
"ruffians" to make Kansas a slave State. You have told us, that we have
no right to live on the unrequited toil of our slaves; nor to sell
them to the highest bidder; nor spend the proceeds of the sale in idle
extravagance. Now know, all ye Northerners, by this cowardly blow on the
devoted head of your honored and respected Senator, that we shall no
longer permit you to tell us such unpalatable truths, nor allow you the
privilege of free speech! We have too long held the balance of power in
the government to yield it now; and we give you to know, that whatever we
ask of this government, we expect to obtain; nor will we hear any of your
objections. When we desire you to turn blood-hound, and hunt for us our
fugitive slaves, we expect you to do it, and to see them returned to their
masters, without a murmur on your part. Should you object or dare refuse,
we shall certainly _cane somebody_, or else do what we have threatened for
the last quarter of a century,--"DISSOLVE THE UNION!" Bah!

My house has ever been open to the fugitive slaves; but more particularly
when I resided in Rochester, did I have occasion to see and feel the
distresses of that class of persons; and it appears to me, that the heart
must be of adamant, that can turn coldly away from the pleadings of the
poor, frightened, flying fugitive from Southern bondage.

For many years past, I have been a close and interested observer of my
race, both free and enslaved. I have observed with great pleasure, the
gradual improvement in intelligence and condition of the free colored
people of the North. In proportion as prejudice has diminished, they have
gradually advanced; nor can I believe that there is any other great
impediment in the way to a higher state of improvement. That prejudice
against color is not destroyed, we very well know. Its effects may be
seen in our down-cast, discouraged, and groveling countrymen, if no where
else. Notwithstanding the late diminution, it exists in many of our
hotels: some of them would as soon admit the dog from his kennel, at
table, as the colored man; nevertheless, he is sought as a waiter;
allowed to prepare their choicest dishes, and permitted to serve the white
man, who would sneer and scorn to eat beside him. Prejudice is found also,
in many of our schools,--even in those to which colored children are
admitted; there is so much distinction made by prejudice, that the poor,
timid colored children might about as well stay at home, as go to a school
where they feel that they are looked upon as inferior, however much they
may try to excel.

Nor is that hateful prejudice--so injurious to the soul, and all the best
interests of the negro--excluded from the professed church of Christ. Oh,
no; we often find it in the house of worship, in all its cruel rigor.
Where people assemble to worship a pure and holy God, who can look upon no
sin with allowance--the creator of all, both white and black,--and where
people professing to walk in the footsteps of the meek and quiet Jesus,
who has taught us to esteem others better than ourselves; we often see the
lip of some professed saint, curled in scorn at a dusky face, or a scowl
of disapprobation if a colored person sits elsewhere than by the door or
on the stairs. How long, O Lord, must these things be!

Of my enslaved brethren, nothing so gratifies me, as to hear of their
escape from bondage; and since the passage of that iniquitous "Fugitive
Slave Bill," I have watched with renewed interest the movements of the
fugitives, not only from Slavery direct, but those who have been compelled
to flee from the nominally free States, and ask the protection of a
monarchial government, to save them from their owners in a land of boasted

The knowledge I have of the colored men in Canada, their strength and
condition, would cause me to tremble for these United States, should a war
ever ensue between the English and American governments, which I pray may
never occur. These fugitives may be thought to be a class of poor,
thriftless, illiterate creatures, like the Southern slaves, but it is not
so. They are no longer slaves; many of whom have been many years free men,
and a large number were never slaves. They are a hardy, robust class of
men; very many of them, men of superior intellect; and men who feel deeply
the wrongs they have endured. Driven as they have been from their native
land; unprotected by the government under which they were born, and would
gladly have died,--they would in all probability, in case of a rupture,
take up arms in defense of the government which has protected them and the
country of their adoption. England could this day, very readily collect a
regiment of stalwart colored men, who, having felt the oppression of our
laws, would fight with a will not inferior to that which actuated our
revolutionary forefathers.

And what inducement, I ask, have colored men to defend with their lives
the United States in any case; and what is there to incite them to deeds
of bravery?

Wherever men are called upon to take up arms in defense of a country,
there is always a consciousness of approaching wrong and oppression, which
arouses their patriotism and incites to deeds of daring. They look abroad
over fields of their own cultivation; they behold too, churches, schools,
and various institutions, provided by their labor, for generations yet to
come; they see their homes, their cherished hearthstone, about to be
desecrated, and their wives and little ones, with their aged sires,
exposed to the oppression of a ruthless foe. Then, with what cheerful
and thrilling enthusiasm, steps forward the husband, the father, the
brother, and bares his bosom to the sword,--his head to the storm of the
battle-field, in defence of his country's freedom, and the God-given
rights of himself and family! But what sees the oppressed negro? He sees a
proud and haughty nation, whose Congressmen yearly meet to plot his ruin
and perpetuate his bondage! He beholds, it is true, a few Christ-like
champions, who rise up with bleeding hearts to defend his cause; but while
his eye kindles with grateful emotion, he sees the bludgeon of the South--
already reeking in the blood of freemen--raised and ready to fall with
murderous intent upon the head of any one, who, like the illustrious
Sumner, dare open his mouth in defence of Freedom, or speak of the wrongs
of the poor negro, and the sins of the Southern autocrat!

What inducement then, has the slave to shoulder his musket, when the
American drum beats the call, "To Arms! To Arms!" Does he not remember
that the wife of his bosom; the children,--"bone of his bone, and flesh of
his flesh,"--and the rude hearth-stone they for a time are allowed to
surround, belong not to himself, but to the tyrannical master, who claims
dominion over all he possesses. As his property then, let the slave owner
go forth in defence of his own, and lay down his life if he please; but
the poor slave has no home, no family to protect; no country to defend;
nor does he care to assist in sustaining a government that instead of
offering him protection, drives him from the soil which has been
cultivated by his own labor,--to beg at the hand of England's Queen,
"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Humiliating as it is for an American citizen to name these things, they
are nevertheless true; and I would to God that America would arise in her
native majesty, and divest herself of the foul stain, which Slavery has
cast upon her otherwise pure drapery! Then would she be no longer a
hissing and by-word among the nations; but indeed what she professes to
be, "the land of the free, and the home of the brave;" an asylum for the
oppressed of every clime.

But should the monarchial government of England call for the services of
the colored man, freely would his heart's blood be poured out in her
defence,--not because he has a particular preference for that form of
government; not because he has ceased to love his native country,--but
because she has acknowledged his manhood, and given him a home to defend.
Beneath the floating banner of the British Lion, he finds inducements to
lay down his life, if need be, in defence of his own broad acres, his
family and fireside,--all of which were denied him under the Stars and
Stripes of his fatherland. But a short time ago, the colored men of
Cincinnati, O., were promptly denied the privilege they had solicited, to
join with other citizens, in celebrating the anniversary of WASHINGTON'S
Birth Day! Oh, no; there must be no colored man in the company, met to
honor him who still lives in the heart of every American citizen,--"the
father of his country,"--and yet, who scorned not to sleep beside his
faithful negro! Nor did the nephew of the illustrious General, despise the
command of the black regiment, which Gen. Jackson so proudly commended for
their bravery, and bestowed upon it his personal thanks, for their
services on the field of battle.

Do the Northern or Free States of the Union think to clear their skirts of
the abomination of Slavery, by saying that they own no slaves? Very true.
But is the poor, flying fugitive from the house of bondage, safe one
moment within your borders? Will he be welcomed to your homes, your
tables, your firesides? Will your clergymen bid you clothe and feed him,
or give him a cup of cold water, in the name of a disciple of that holy
Christ, who has said,--"inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least
of these little ones, ye have done it unto me?"--Or will your own
miserable Fugitive Slave Law, close the mouth of your clergy; crush down
the rising benevolence of your heart; and convert you into a human
blood-hound, to hunt down the panting fugitive, and return him to the
hell of Slavery? Oh, my God!--the fact is too horrible to acknowledge,
and yet it is a stubborn one. Not on one foot of land under the broad
folds of Columbia's banner, can the slave say, "I am free!" Hungry, naked,
and forlorn, he must flee onward; nor stop short of the outstretched arms
of an English Queen. Yet, thanks be to our Heavenly Father, that all have
not bowed the knee to the Southern autocrat or slave power. A few noble
souls, thank God, remain, who, in defiance of iniquitous laws, throw open
wide their doors to the trembling, fleeing bondman, whose purses are
freely emptied to supply his wants, and help him on in his flight to the
British dominion. But can these out-gushings of a benevolent heart--the
purest impulses of a noble nature--be permitted to flow out spontaneously,
in open daylight? Alas, no! You must be quiet; make no noise, lest an
United States' Marshal wrest from you the object of your Christian
sympathy, and impose on you a heavy fine, for your daring to do to another
as you would he should do to you.

Is not the necessity of an "_under ground railroad_," a disgrace to the
laws of any country? Certainly it is; yet I thank God, that it does afford
a means of escape to many, and I pray that the blessings of Heaven may
ever rest upon those who willingly superintend its interests. Oh, my
country! When will thy laws, just and equal, supersede this humiliating

Is my reader about to throw the blame of our nation's wrong on England,
and accuse her of first tolerating Slavery? We admit it; but did she not
repent of the evil she had done, and speedily break every yoke, and let
the oppressed go free? Certainly; no slave now breathes in England's
atmosphere. But, say you, her white poor are slaves to the aristocracy,
from which sentiment I beg leave to differ. Oppressed they may be, and
doubtless are, as the poor are apt to be in any and every country; but
they are not sold in the market, to the highest bidder, like beasts of
burden, as are the American slaves. No Englishman, however poor,
destitute, or degraded he may be, but owns himself, his wife and children;
nor does he fear that they be sold and torn from his embrace, while he is
laboring for their support. Poverty, my friend, does not comprise the
bitterness of Slavery, no more than "one swallow makes a summer,"--nor
does it consist solely in ignorance and degradation. Its bitterness arises
from a consciousness of wrong; a sense of the violation of every right God
has given to man, and the uncertainty of his future, over which he has no

If the American people flatter themselves with the idea of getting rid of
the hated negro race, by colonizing them on the sickly soil of Liberia,
or any other country, they will surely find themselves mistaken. They
are Americans; allied to this country by birth and by misfortune; and here
will they remain,--not always as now, oppressed and degraded,--for all who
have any interest in the matter, well know that the free colored people,
are rapidly advancing in intelligence, and improving their condition in
every respect. Men of learning and genius, are now found among those with
fleecy locks, and good mechanics with dusky complexion.

This marked improvement in the condition and rapid advancement in
intelligence among our people, seems to have alarmed the colonizationists,
and made them fearful that those very down-trodden slaves, who have for
years labored for nought; whose blood and tears have fertilized the
Southern soil, may, perchance, become their equals in intelligence, and
take vengeance on their oppressors for the wrongs done them; and lest
they should do so, they would gladly remove them to some far-off country.

Yet here, in North America, will the colored race remain, and ere long in
my opinion, become a great people, equal with the proud Anglo-Saxon in all
things. The African has once been a powerful nation, before Christian
Englishmen invaded her coasts with rum, and incited her chiefs to war, by
purchasing with gaudy, but worthless trinkets, her conquered captives; and
we have every reason to believe, that though her glory as a nation has
departed, that her sons will yet be acknowledged free men by the white
population of this country.

There have been black generals in the world before Napoleon was born, and
there may be again; and to-day, notwithstanding all the prejudice against
color, that everywhere exists in this guilty nation, there are men of
talent among us, inferior to none on the earth; nor are their numbers few,
though rapidly increasing.

Well may the South arouse herself, form societies, replenish its treasury
with a tax imposed on the free colored people, to defray the expense of
sending manumitted slaves to Liberia!

Listen a moment to the cant of the colonizationist. Hear him talk of the
duty he owes to Africa, and how happy, how intelligent, how prosperous
everything is in Liberia. But when that delightful country asks to be
taken into fellowship with the United States, and to have her independence
recognized--ah, then he lifts his hands in horror and begs to be excused
from so close a relation.

This is all cant, in my humble opinion; and when I see men so anxious to
send the negro out of their sight, I feel quite certain that they are
conscious of having deeply wronged him, and think to remove him, to atone
for their guilty consciences. Would they refuse to acknowledge the
independence of Liberia, if their interest in the colored people was
genuine, especially when several other nations had done so? Oh, no. But
that is not "_the rub_." How could one of our lordly nabobs of the South,
sit in Congress with perhaps one of his own manumitted slaves as a
representative from Liberia or Hayti! He would die of mortification. Very
well then; but let him talk no more of sending colored men to that country
to make them free men.

The colored people generally, I am happy to say, have a right conception
of the colonization plan, and will never be induced to go to Africa,
unless they go as missionaries to the heathen tribes, who certainly
should have the gospel preached to them. Some, from a sense of duty, may
go as teachers,--which is all well enough,--but certain it is, that no
amount of prejudice or abuse, will ever induce the colored race to leave
this country. Long have they been oppressed; but they are rising-coming
up to an elevated standard, and are fast gathering strength and courage,
for the great and coming conflict with their haughty oppressors.

That there must be ere long, a sharp contest between the friends of
Freedom and the Southern oligarchy, I can no longer doubt.

When our worthy ministers of the gospel, are sent back to us from the
South, clothed with a coat of tar and feathers; when our best and most
sacrificing philanthropists are thrown into Southern dungeons; when our
laboring men are shot down by haughty and idle Southern aristocrats, in
the hotels of their employers, and under the very eye of Congress; when
the press is muzzled, and every editor, who has the manliness to speak
in defence of Freedom, and the wickedness of the slaveholder, is caned or
otherwise insulted by some insignificant Southern bully; and when at last,
our Mr. SUMNER is attacked from behind, by a Southern, cowardly scoundrel,
and felled senseless on the floor of the Senate chamber, for his defence
of Liberty,--then, indeed, may Northern men look about them! Well may they
be aroused by the insolence and tyranny of the South!

And for what _is_ all this? Do not our Southern men know, that if light
and truth are permitted to reach the minds of the people, that Kansas will
be lost to them as slave territory, wherein the Southern slave-breeder can
dispose of his own flesh to the highest bidder! Hear them talk as they do,
in their pious moments, with upturned faces, in solemn mockery, of
returning the negro to his _native_ Africa! How many pure Africans, think
you, can be found in the whole slave population of the South, to say
nothing of their nativity? Native Africa, indeed! Who does not know, that
in three-fourths of the colored race, there runs the blood of the white
master,--the breeder of his own chattels! Think you, that a righteous God
will fail to judge a nation for such flagrant sins? Nay, verily. If the
All-wise God, who has created of one blood all nations of the earth, has
designed their blood to commingle until that of the African is absorbed in
that of the European,--then is it right, and amalgamation of all the
different races should be universally practiced and approved. If it be
right for the Southern slaveholder, to cruelly enforce the mixture of the
races, to gratify his lust, and swell the enormity of his gains, certainly
it cannot be wrong to amalgamate from choice and affection. Let us ask
then, why did our Omnipotent Creator make the marked distinction?
Certainly not for the purpose that one race might enslave and triumph
over another; but evidently, that each in his own proper sphere might
glorify God, to whom their respective bodies and spirits belong. Why,
indeed, was the black man created, if not to fulfil his destiny _as a
negro_, to the glory of God?

Suffer me then to exhort you, my countrymen, to cease looking to the white
man for example and imitation. Stand boldly up in your own national
characteristics, and show by your perseverance and industry, your honor
and purity, that you are men, colored men, but of no inferior quality. The
greatest lack I see among you, is unity of action, pardonable, to be sure,
in the eyes of those who have seen your oppression and limited advantages;
but now that many of you have resolved to gain your rights or die in
the struggle, let me entreat you to band yourselves together in one
indissoluble bond of brotherhood, to stand shoulder to shoulder in the
coming conflict, and let every blow of yours tell for Freedom and the
elevation of your race throughout the land. Speak boldly out, for the dumb
and enslaved of your unfortunate countrymen, regardless of the frowns and
sneers of the haughty tyrants, who may dare lift their puny arm, to
frustrate the design of the Almighty, in preserving you an unmixed and
powerful race on the earth.

While I would not that you depend on any human agency, save your own
unyielding exertion, in the elevation of our race; still, I would not have
you unmindful of, nor ungrateful for, the noble exertions of those kind
white friends, who have plead the cause of the bondman, and have done all
in their power to aid you, for which, may the God of the oppressed
abundantly bless them.

Let your attention be given to the careful training and education of the
rising generation, that they may be useful, and justly command the respect
of their fellow-men. Labor for a competency, but give not your whole
attention to amassing the wealth that perishes; but seek to lay up for
yourselves "treasures where moth doth not corrupt, nor thieves break
through and steal."

Suppose not, my brethren, that your task is a light one, or one that can
be performed without years of patient toil and unyielding perseverance.
Our oppressors are not very ready to credit our exertion,--too often
forgetting the effects of our long degradation, and vainly expecting to
see us arise at once, to the highest standard of elevation, able to cope
successfully with those who have known no such discouragements or
disadvantages, as has been our lot to bear.

These and many other obstacles must be bravely met, and assiduously
removed,--remembering that Slavery has robbed some of us, and prejudice
many others, of that perseverance so necessary to the accomplishment of
any enterprize; but in the elevation of ourselves and race, let us never
falter and grow weary, until we have reached the elevated station God
designed us to occupy, and have fitted the rising generation to fill and
improve it after our earthly course is finished and we leave to them the
stage of action.

Allow me, however, to entreat, that no success which may attend your
determined efforts; no position which you may attain,--may ever so occupy
your mind, as to cause you to forget for one moment, the afflictions of
your countrymen, or to cease to remember the groaning millions in bonds,
until every slave shall triumphantly chant the song of deliverance from
Slavery's dark prison house.

Bear with me, my dear brethren, while I claim a friend's license, to say,
that I would not that you place implicit confidence in any of the
political organizations of the present time; but remember that the
majority of those parties are diligently laboring for their own interest.
Look you then to yours; are you less capable of securing your rights than
they? Never was there a time when indolence and supineness among us, would
be so unpardonable as now, nor when so much depended on our active and
judicious exertions.

Let us not forget, that in the past, we could and did truthfully complain,
that we had no helper,--bound and crushed beneath an overwhelming weight
of prejudice and ignorance, we lay helpless at the feet of our political
spoilers. A favorable change has since been effected in the public
sentiment; and now that we see thousands who are willing to aid us, and
as many more who will not hinder our labor,--shall we fold our hands in
idleness?--or shall we renew our energies, in the cause of freedom and of
our own advancement? Although we may not implicitly rely upon the
political exertion of others, let us not fear to co-operate with the
friends of liberty everywhere, as far as a good conscience will permit,
and our limited privileges will allow, by our determined zeal for the
right, make our influence felt in the nation. See what wrong and
oppression our white brethren have met in Kansas, from the slave power;
and let their noble deeds of patriotism; their liberal sacrifices for
freedom, be not only our example, but an incentive to do our duty. Have
they more at stake in that mighty struggle than we, that they should leave
their homes of refinement and comfort, take their lives in their hands and
bravely contend for their rights, surrounded by scenes of blood and
carnage? Certainly not. No people on the earth can have greater incentives
to arouse them to action, than the colored people of this country now
have; I trust therefore, that our future independence and prosperity, will
suffer nothing from the inactivity of our race.

Some may entertain the belief that the African slave trade is entirely
abandoned. I think not. Often are seen strange, suspicious looking
vessels, lying along the African coast, for no other purpose than that
of kidnapping the poor, ignorant natives. Stealthily the slave-trader
lands his wicked crew, in the vicinity of some negro village or cluster of
huts, and when a favorable opportunity occurs, he and his men rush upon
the frightened African, burn their huts, and amid the shrieks of the
captives, and the groans of the helpless and aged, who have been trampled
down in their rude haste to secure the young and able-bodied natives, bear
them to the vessel, where they are stowed away in the hold of the ship,
which bears them to Christian (?) America, where they are sold as slaves.

Some years ago, a woman engaged in washing clothes, near the sea coast,
had a lad with her to take care of her two younger children--one a young
babe--while she was at work. They wandered away a short distance, and
while amusing themselves under some bushes, four men, to them strange
looking creatures, with white faces, surrounded them; and when the lad
attempted to run away, they threw the infant he held in his arms, on the
ground, and seizing the other two children, bore them screaming with fear,
to the ship. Frantic and inconsolable, they were borne to the American
slave market, where they were sold to a Virginia planter, for whom they
labored sorrowfully and in tears, until old age deprived them of farther
exertion, when they were turned out, like an old horse, to die; and did
die destitute and uncared for, in their aged infirmity, after a long life
of unrequited toil. That lad, stolen from Africa's coast, was my

It is not, however, necessary for us to look beyond our own country, to
find all the horrors of the slave traffic! A tour through the Southern
States will prove sufficient to satisfy any one of that fact; nor will
they travel over one of them, before--if they have a heart of flesh--they
will feel oppressed by the cruel outrage, daily inflicted on their
fellow-beings. The tourist need not turn aside to seek evidences: he will
very readily observe the red flag of the auctioneer floating over the
slave pen, on which he may read in large letters, waving in the pure
air of heaven, "SLAVES, HORSES, AND OTHER CATTLE, _in lots to suit
purchasers!_" He may halt a moment, and look at the multitude, collecting
under the folds of that infamous banner, where will be found a few
gentlemanly appearing slave holding planters, superbly mounted, and
perhaps with their servants in waiting; but the larger number he will find
to be drunken, coarse, brutal looking men, swaggering about in the
capacity of slave-traders.

Let him enter the low, dingy, filthy building, occupied by human
merchandize, and he will there behold husbands and wives, parents and
children, about to be sold, and perhaps separated forever! See the trader,
as he examines with inhuman indifference the bones and sinews, the teeth
and joints of the _articles_ on hand, even of females, and hear him make
inquiries concerning her capabilities, that would make a savage blush! And
see the miserable woman lift her red and swollen eyes to the face of the
heartless trader, and the next moment cast a despairing glance over the
motley crowd, in search of a compassionate look--a pitying eye. Should she
see one countenance wearing a kind, humane expression, it will most likely
bring her frantically to his feet, where, kneeling, with uplifted hands,
she pleads: "Oh, Massa, do buy me! Do buy me and little Sam! He be all of
the chil'ens I got left! O, Lord! O, Lord! Do, Massa, buy me, and this one
baby! Oh, do Massa!" But the weight of the cow-hide drives her to the
auction block, where in mock solemnity she is represented as "an article
of excellent breed, a good cook, a good seamstress, and withal a good
Christian, a ra'al genewine lamb of the flock!"--and then she is struck
off to the highest bidder, who declares that he "won't have the young'un
any how, 'cause he's gwine to drive her down to Lousianny."

He may see, too, the wild, despairing look of some frightened young slave
girl, passing under the lustful gaze of some lordly libertine, who
declares himself "in search of a fancy article for his own use!"

One after another is taken from the block, until all are disposed of, amid
the agonized wail of heartbroken wives and mothers, husbands and fathers,
and the piercing screams of helpless children, torn from a parent's
embrace, to be consigned to the care of strangers.

Nor need I inform our traveler of the inhuman method generally approved,
in hunting with trained blood-hounds, kept and advertised for the purpose
of recapturing any poor slave who may attempt to escape from this cruel
bondage. He may perchance, come across the mangled and lifeless body of
some fugitive, which has just been run down and torn in pieces by the dogs
of the hunter! Should he stop a few moments, he will soon see a hole dug
in the ground, and the remains of the slave pitched into it, covered
sufficiently to hide the unsightly mass from view, and there will be an
end of the whole matter! "Shall I not visit for these things? saith the
Lord; and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"

In giving to the public this unvarnished, but truthful narrative, of some
of the occurrences of my humble and uneventful life, I have not been
influenced by a vain desire for notoriety, but by a willingness to gratify
a just and honorable request, repeatedly made by numerous and respected
friends, to learn the truth concerning my connection with the Wilberforce
colony; the events which there transpired during my stay, and the cause of
my losing a hard-earned property. Regarding the affairs of the colony, I
have, therefore, endeavored to be particular,--believing that duty to
myself and brethren, required me to give them the within information; but
nothing have I set down in malice. Much more might have been said relative
to some of the leading characters in that settlement, had I not been
fearful of its assuming the character of a personal enmity or retaliation.
He who knows and will judge the actions of men, will bear me witness, that
I have cherished no such feelings toward any of those who then lived, but
now sleep in death.

In justification, however, of my statements regarding the character of Mr.
Lewis, I will call the attention of the reader to some of the many letters
received from good and eminent men, to show that I was not alone in the
low estimate of his virtues. Gladly I leave that unpleasant subject,
hoping that nothing in our past history will serve to becloud the bright
future beginning to dawn on the prospects of our disfranchised and
oppressed countrymen.




Dear Sir:--In a recent examination of the business transactions between
the Board of Managers of the Wilberforce Colony, and their agent Rev. N.
Paul, I find a charge made by him, and allowed by the board, of the sum of
two hundred dollars, which he paid to yourself. Finding no receipt or
acknowledgment from you, I write to ask you to favor me with one, or an
explanation of the facts in the case, either of which will greatly oblige
me, as I design to make it public. Truly Yours, &c.,


Canandaigua, N.Y., May, 1856.

       *       *       *       *       *



You state that Rev. N. Paul, as agent for the Wilberforce Settlement,
U.C., in rendering his accounts on his return from England, charged the
Board of Managers with the sum of two hundred dollars, paid by him to me
while in England; that said sum was allowed by the board; adding that you
do not recollect of my acknowledging or giving credit to the Settlement
for it.

In reply, I can only assure you that there must be a mistake in regard to
this item. I borrowed no money, nor had I any occasion to ask a loan of my
friend Paul, my expenses being defrayed by funds contributed by friends in
this country; nor could I with propriety receive, nor he give me any part
of the money contributed for the benefit of the Wilberforce Settlement;
hence, a loan or gift from him, could have been nothing more than a
personal matter between ourselves. Moreover, had he at that time or
any other, given me in good faith the sum named as belonging to the
Settlement, (believing that as we were laboring together, for the interest
of one common cause, the board would not hesitate to allow it,) he would
certainly have demanded a receipt, which it would have pleased me to give,
of course, that he might satisfy the board that their liberality had been
disbursed according to their wishes, or his judgment. But receiving no
money from your agent, will be a sufficient reason for not acknowledging
it, or giving due credit to the Settlement.

I can account for this charge on his part, in no way, except that as he
was with me a part of the time I was in London, and we traveled together
a part of the time, during which, he ably and effectively assisted me in
exposing that most iniquitous combination, "The American Colonization
Society,"--he charged to me, (that is, to my mission) sundry items of
expense which he undoubtedly believed justly incurred by his helping me
to open the eyes of British philanthropists to the real design of that
society; and I shall ever remember with gratitude, his heartiness and zeal
in the cause and in my behalf. I owe much to the success that so signally
crowned my mission, to his presence, testimony, and eloquent denunciation
of the colonization scheme. I, however, received no money from him, and
can but think that the above explanation was the occasion of his making
the charge, and which I trust will leave on his memory, no intentional
[final word missing from text].

       *       *       *       *       *



Dear Sir:--Israel Lewis, the former agent of your Settlement, last spring
represented to me the suffering condition of your poor, and requested that
I should forward some goods, for which I should be paid; I did so,
and sent goods to the amount of one hundred thirty-six dollars and
ninety-eight cents. The goods were sold at cost.

I am also endorsed on a note for two hundred thirteen dollars and ten
cents, which falls due 24th of this month, and which I shall have to pay.
This note was given by Lewis for the purpose of raising money to fit out
Mr. Paul, on his mission to England. I was promised that the money should
be here to meet it.

I have heard nothing from Lewis or this business since, and as I
understand you are the agent, I must look to you to make provision to meet
the note, and pay for the goods. Good faith requires that all contracts by
your agency be fulfilled.

Yours, Respectfully,


New York City, Dec., 1833.

       *       *       *       *       *



In August last, Israel Lewis, accompanied by Rev. Nathaniel Paul called
upon me and exhibited a power of attorney, signed by you as president of
the trustees of the colony, authorizing Lewis to take loans, &c., for the
benefit of the colony.

Feeling a deep interest in the progress of the colony, I agreed to become
security with E. Peck, at the Bank of Rochester, for the payment of seven
hundred dollars, which soon was raised by Lewis on the note, for the
benefit of the colony. I was in hopes to have seen you. E. Peck and
myself, both are willing to aid you in your noble enterprise,--and may
others feel the same disposition. But as we have families and friends, who
look to us for support and protection, it is proper that we should have
your personal pledge to save us from embarrassment.

We know your character _well_, and we have also great confidence in Israel
Lewis, and the others engaged with you,--but none of them are so
thoroughly known to us as yourself.

Our asking for your personal pledge, does not arise from any fears that
the note will not be paid; but as it was signed to aid you, we think it
proper that you should respond by guaranteeing that we shall not be

I accordingly copy the note in question, and write a guarantee which I
wish you to sign and hand to my brother.

I feel much anxiety in regard to your progress; in your forming schools;
religious and temperance societies; and in your taking every measure to
elevate the unfortunate colored man who may go to your colony for
protection and improvement.

Very Respectfully Yours,



Lockport, N.Y. 1831.

       *       *       *       *       *


MR. AUSTIN STEWARD, Wilberforce, U.C.,

Esteemed Friend:--I am charged by the conventional board, to inform you
that at the last session of the general convention, you was duly elected
their _General Corresponding Agent_, for the Wilberforce Settlement and
parts adjacent. Respectfully and in an official capacity, would I ask you
to accept the appointment.

And in pursuance of the said appointment, the board would be happy to have
at least a monthly correspondence from you, on all such matters as may, in
your opinion, be thought conducive to the prosperity of the settlement,
the elevation and future happiness of the free people of color.

In particular, we would wish you to give as accurate an account as
possible, of the number of settlers; the number of acres as purchased; at
what price; what number are improved and under culture; what number of
houses or tenements are in the Settlement, &c., &c.

What are your present prospects in regard to crops; your political
advantages or disadvantages.

We would also respectfully ask you to inform us, what number of settlers
might emigrate there each year, without injuring the Settlement. Also,
what kind of machines you most need; also, what are the terms for which
laborers are contracted for and how paid.

The board have been thus particular, because they rely with full
confidence on your _patriotism_ and capability, which have been
unanimously assigned to you.

You will perceive our object is, to contribute, as far as lays in our
power, pecuniary_ aid, and assist in securing you such _agricultural_ and
_mechanical_ emigrants as, in your opinion, the Settlement may need; and
in all our recommendations to you, we shall endeavor to have an eye to
character, knowing full well that by that alone you must _stand_ or

We have been informed here by a letter (purporting to be written by a Mr.
Stover), that the Canada Company actually refuses to sell land to colored
persons; and that they are anxious to buy out the colored settlers at

Be pleased to inform me if that be a fact, with its particulars; and if
there be any disadvantages in purchasing land by colored emigrants.

The board would be happy to know if you have had any news from your agent
in England. If any, what are his prospects?

You will please be particular and candid in stating your wants (as well as
disadvantages) to us, as we will do our utmost to satisfy them, as well
as promote the happiness of the settlers, and the prosperity of the

Be pleased to answer as soon as possible, for we as brothers in common,
feel deeply interested.

With sentiments of sincere friendship,

I remain, yours,


A true copy from the record.

       *       *       *       *       *


At a meeting of the Board of Managers, held September 30th, 1831, to call
the Agents to an account:

Resolved, That the Report of N. Paul be accepted, and unanimously agreed

At a meeting of the Board of Directors, all the members present, March
18th, 1832:

Resolved, That we disapprove of the conduct of Israel Lewis, in his being
absent so long, and also his not communicating with the Board of
Directors, and not informing them from time to time, how he is prosecuting
his agency.

Resolved, That the chairman of this board be instructed to write to said
Lewis, to return home, and lay before this board his doings.

At a meeting of the Board, held April 1st, 1832, all the members and
Israel Lewis present with them, he made the following Report, and resigned
his office as agent, which was accepted:

Lewis said that seven hundred dollars was all that he had collected. That
he paid one hundred and fifty dollars for board in New York, thirty-five
dollars for clothes, and two hundred dollars to N. Paul, as an out-fit for

       *       *       *       *       *



_To the Christians and Philanthropists in the United States:_

We, the undersigned inhabitants and Board of Managers for the Colony of
Wilberforce, beg leave to state that the frost cut off the crops in this
part of the country last year, and some of the colonists are in great
need of assistance. And we flatter ourselves that when the peculiar
circumstances of this infant Settlement are duly considered, this appeal,
to a generous and discriminating public, will not be made in vain.

The board are sensible from the cause above stated, that the inhabitants
of Wilberforce will be _compelled_ to ask _aid_ from the friends of
humanity in the States, or they must _suffer_.

Under these circumstances they commissioned the Rev. James Sharp, as
their agent, and sent him to the States; but owing to the opposition of
Israel Lewis,--who had been formerly employed as agent, but was removed
from the agency--his labors were almost wholly lost to the board.

We would simply say, that Lewis was acting for a _certain_ company here;
but we have made inquiries, and find but _one man_ in Wilberforce that
belongs to said company, and he is an old man, in his dotage. That man is
_Simon Wyatt_. We might say _more_, but we think there has been enough
written to satisfy the public.

In consequence of the unfaithfulness of Israel Lewis, and the numerous
agents that may be looking around the country after him, the board have
come to the conclusion to dispense with a traveling agent for the present.

And we would humbly request Lyman A. Spalding, Esq., of Lockport; E. Peck,
Esq., of Rochester; Rev. Dr. Budd, of Auburn; Charles Davis, Esq., of
Ludlowville, Tompkins County, N.Y.; Arthur Tappan, Esq., city of New
York; to act as receivers for the Colony. The above named gentlemen, will
see that the funds which they may receive, be faithfully applied according
to the wishes of the donors.

All money placed in each of the banks at Rochester and a duplicate sent on
to the Colony, may be cashed here without any discount.

To Christians we appeal: by the brotherhood of Christ, and by their own
hopes of being united in him, to extend to us the means of obtaining
bread; give us, in the name of Jesus, of your abundance; give us, as God
has blessed you, for the poor among us want bread and clothing.

It is to be hoped that every clergyman in the States, will lay this
circular before their respective congregations, and give every person an
opportunity to throw in their mite into the treasury of the Lord!



       *       *       *       *       *



I have ever taken a great degree of interest in the welfare of your
colony, and have in various ways, brought it before the public.

It has pained me deeply to learn that there are divisions among you. The
whole deportment and manner of Lewis, who has been here, has evidently
impressed the public in his favor. Although I do not wish to take ground
as his advocate, to the extinction of others, I am not inclined to think
him dishonest from the testimony now before me.

But, apart from him, my present impression is that the most effectual way
for you to promote the cause of the Colony, is not, at this stage of the
business, to appear before the public in a hostile attitude to Lewis.

I know some excellent and prominent gentlemen in this quarter, who think
he is unkindly treated; at any rate, while the investigation, lately
commenced at Albany, is going on, it appears to me not wise in you to put
forth any further publication reflecting upon Lewis. He may have acted
imprudently; but he has excited himself very much, and should the idea
prevail that you and he are in a state of collision, it would be very bad
for you.

I consider your Colony as a very important matter, and will do all in my
power to promote your welfare, but it is very material not to prejudice
the public against you.

Before I move in the matter, I wish to know the real state of the matter
between Lewis and the Colony. As soon as I can know that he has defrauded
you and deceived the public, I will not hesitate to give my views on the
subject, and put forth any efforts in my power for your advancement.

There should no sectarian or party feeling be allowed to creep into your

I thank you for naming me as a receiver for your Colony, and should
anything come to me, I shall hand it over to James S. Seymour, Esq.,
Cashier of the Bank of Auburn, who should have been named instead of me. I
hope you will put his name in my place, or at any rate, name him with me,
for he has been from the first, much interested in your behalf.

If you will allow me, I will briefly say, that my opinion is, your best
way to relieve your immediate wants, would be to issue a brief circular,
stating the failure of your crops, your newness of settlement, &c., &c.;
and call upon the public for help, without naming Lewis or alluding to
your difficulty with him; let your papers be properly authorized, and say
that the agent you employ is not engaged in getting funds to pay for land,
found schools, &c., but to get _immediate_ provisions for the Colony.

If you will send an agent here and prepare your circular in this way--let
it be short--and I will print it and give copies of it to him for
circulation, free of charge.

With many prayers for the prosperity of your Colony,

I am your Friend,


Auburn, N.Y., May, 1833.

       *       *       *       *       *



Sir:--We feel under renewed obligation to you, for you friendly advice;
but we have already sent out several copies of our circular to different
places, and probably some of them have been printed before this time.

We have no object in view, but truth, justice,--the greatest good of the
Settlement, and of our brethren in general. Israel Lewis has, however,
collected large sums of money, for our relief, of which we have not had
the benefit. Nearly two years ago, he was appointed agent for the Colony,
to collect funds to build a meeting-house, to endow schools, &c. In less
than one year he received more than two thousand dollars, which he
squandered; and we have neither _meeting-house_ nor _schools_, nor never
_will have_, so long as the money goes into the hands of Lewis. All that
we would have forgiven him gladly, if he would consent to be _still_ and
not _usurp_ the agency _against_ the wishes of the people.

Sir, is it not expected that he would appear well; as you say, that "the
whole deportment and manner of Lewis, who has been in this place,
evidently have impressed the people in his favor,"--while collecting
money with the eye of the public upon him. But follow him home into
another kingdom, and there see the man in his true character; stripped
of his borrowed plumage,--and we will guarantee that you would agree with
us, in believing that he _is_ an _arch hypocrite_.

We should be sorry to prejudice the public against our Settlement, more
especially when we are actuated by the purest motives,--that of preventing
the Christian public from being imposed upon, by drawing large sums from
them for us, as they suppose, when in _truth_ such sums _never_ reach us
at all.

Sir, we know that you are actuated by the purest motives, but you are
deceived in the character of the man, (Lewis). When I was living in
the States and only saw him there, collecting money for the poor, I
thought him honest as you now do; but two or three years' residence in
Wilberforce Colony, has abundantly satisfied me that his object is to
get money, that he may live in a princely style, and not for the benefit
of the poor as he pretends.

Such are the true facts in the case. We should be glad to have the name of
James S. Seymour, Esq., added to the list, and any other prominent citizen
you may think would help the cause.

In regard to the investigation at Albany, we do not see how the public are
to arrive at the facts in the case from any statement Lewis may make; for
all his statements that I have seen in print, are positively void of
truth, in the most essential part, so that they are of little or no
importance at all unless substantiated by other testimony.

The circular contains no testimony that has not been heretofore laid
before the public. Mr. Benjamin Paul recently wrote a letter to the
editors of "The Baptist Register," in which he stated that Lewis had fed
and clothed the colonists like a father, which is not true; and so
sensible was Paul of the fact, that when the letter reached here, together
with the surprise it created wherever Lewis was known, that Paul
cheerfully contradicted it, confessed that he was mistaken, and thus made
it known to the public.

We certainly have no sectional feelings in the matter, though Lewis has
labored hard to impress the public with a contrary belief; and he has even
brought false charges of the basest kind against our more respectable
citizens, all to draw the attention of the public from the true facts in
the case.

It is a general time of health here in the Colony. The season is very
favorable; our crops look well, and with the blessings of God we shall
raise enough to supply our wants this year.

Yours, with due respect,

In behalf of the Colonists,


Wilberforce, June, 1833.

       *       *       *       *       *



I have received a communication through your corresponding secretary, Mr.
James C. Brown, and I hasten to answer it. The last communication I have
received from Mr. N. Paul, was in December, 1833, at which time he was
vigorously prosecuting his mission, as will more fully appear by the
annexed copy of said letter, which I cheerfully send you. His return is
expected daily.



When I last addressed you, I informed you that I expected to leave this
country before a return letter from you could be expected. I therefore
stated, if I remember correctly, that you need not write.

I now find that I shall be detained much longer than I then calculated;
and this detention is owing to the Slavery question. The friends of the
cause, advised me to forego my object, until that question was settled;
and then they would turn their attention to my cause, and render me what
assistance they could.

All their united strength was needed now, while that question was
pending. But thanks be to God, that is now settled. On the first day of
August next, will be the proudest day that ever Britain knew; for from
that time henceforth, there will not remain a single slave throughout His
Majesty's dominions.

The friends of the cause are now turning their attention to Slavery in the
United States, and are about to form a society for the abolition of
Slavery throughout the world. They all think highly of our Settlement, and
will give it their cordial support.

The leading abolitionists have given me letters of recommendation
throughout the Kingdom, and have appointed one of their most effective men
to travel with me,--his name is John Scoble, a very ready, intelligent,
earnest, and an eloquent speaker. I think I can do more now in one month,
than I could in three before the question was settled in regard to their
own slaves.

You will at once see that although the people concluded my object to be an
important one, yet, they generally thought that they ought to lend all
their aid in removing the stain from their own land first This stain is
now effectually effaced, and my meetings are exceedingly crowded. I
addressed an audience at Norwich of from three to four thousand persons,
week before last, when about five hundred dollars was collected. So you
see I am getting on. I start, the Lord willing, next week for Scotland,
and shall spend the winter there and in the North of England. In the
spring I shall return and take passage for Canada. I doubt not, that you
are anxiously looking for my return; yet, you cannot want to see me more
than I want to return; but I tell you now as I have told you before, that
I shall not return until I have done all that can be done by my labor.




The above copy will give you all the recent information we have received
concerning the mission of our foreign agent.

Please accept my kindest regards, with my acknowledgments of your
distinguished consideration, while I remain,

Yours truly,


Wilberforce, U.C.

       *       *       *       *       *



We are glad to acknowledge your favor of October last, and to hear of your
safe arrival in England, your health and fair prospects.

Since my removal to Wilberforce, I have opened a school, which Mrs.
Steward has engaged to teach for one year; while I shall probably devote
my time to traveling through the States, for the benefit of the Colony,
which is indeed poor, and in want of some assistance; and yet, not a
dollar have we in the treasury to help them with.

Mr. Paul has not returned, though we are daily expecting him. Our friends
in New York, still have confidence in his pledge to do right; and we are
anxiously expecting its fulfilment.

Your wife, Mrs. Nell, and the children are well, and we are still doing
all in our power for their comfort; but my means, in consequence of having
been so much abroad the past season, are limited; by which you will see,
my dear Sir, the necessity of remitting funds to me, that I may make your
family more comfortable in all things, without distressing my own.

The settlers are well, and are looking with hopeful expectancy for you to
do something handsome for them, in which I do hope they may not be
disappointed. Lewis is still in New York. We have appointed another agent,
named Scott, but who is doing nothing for the Colony now.

May the blessings of God rest upon you, and your endeavors; your good
deportment put to silence your enemies; may they who foresee that you will
cheat the poor colored children, be sadly mistaken, and your good deeds
finally enrol your name on the proud list of philanthropists, headed by a
Wilberforce and a Clarkson.

Yours, in great haste,


Wilberforce, Dec., 1835.

       *       *       *       *       *



I have received a letter from Israel Lewis, New York, requesting me to
forward fifty dollars to the treasurer of the Wilberforce Colony, which
I will do at the first convenience. I sent fifty dollars some time since,
which I presume was received.

I have also received a letter from B. Lundy, who speaks very flatteringly
of the Settlement; but gives me some information relating to Lewis, which
will injure you, unless you act wisely.

Now I suggest for your consideration, whether it would not be best to keep
perfectly quiet relative to him, until after he returns and settles with
the directors. If he cannot then satisfy you, he will no doubt surrender
up his documents and agency like a man, and leave you to appoint another.

By all means you must agree among yourselves, not suffering any difference
of opinion to become public. Your enemies will seize upon this, and injure
your prospects; besides, you gain nothing by it. Your friends too, could
then say that you acted imprudently. I hope to have a good account of the
settlement of your difficulties if any should exist.

Respectfully your Friend,



Lockport, N.Y., 2d Mo., 4th, 1832.

       *       *       *       *       *



I have this day received your letter, and God willing, I will be with you
in the course of ten or twelve days. Please to keep your people together,
until I come. I will see that they be not oppressed by that notorious
Israel Lewis. I believe him to be one of the worst men living, whose deeds
will yet come to light. Do stay in the Colony and keep all things as they
are until I come.

Yours, with high esteem,


P.S.--I am glad that Mrs. Steward is in Rochester; your Colony is by no
means suited to her talents and refined mind. She never could be happy
there. My love to all the Colonists; I will do every thing for them in my
power. S.E.C.

       *       *       *       *       *



Again I take this method of communicating some private information to my
personal friends, relative to my proceedings in Mexico. My last visit to
that country, (like the one preceding), having been prolonged far beyond
the time which I had anticipated, I feel it incumbent on me to explain the
causes thereof especially to such as take an interest in the enterprize in
which I have engaged, and those who have kindly assisted me with, means to
defray the expenses of my journey, &c.

Soon after the date of my last printed letter, which was issued from this
place, I went to New Orleans, with the intention of taking a passage by
sea, to some port in Mexico; but after waiting in that city about two
weeks, and finding no opportunity to obtain one, I proceeded up the Red
River, and journeyed through Texas again by land. My health continued very
good for some length of time; but when I reached the middle part of the
Texas country, it was my misfortune to come again in contact with the
direful "cholera," and again I was the subject of its virulent attacks. My
detention was great, and affliction severe; though I finally expelled the
disorder as I had done before. My sufferings were somewhat aggravated in
several instances, by the fearful prejudices of the people among whom I
traveled. I was very anxious to get through my journey, and often assayed
to travel before I was in fact well enough. The consequence was, that I
frequently took relapses, and sometimes had to lie out under trees, even
in time of rain, within sight of houses, the people being unwilling to
give me shelter therein, fearing that my disorder was contagious.

At length I reached the Mexican town of San Antonio de Bexar, and there I
tarried, until I had got pretty well rid of the cholera. I then pursued my
journey to Monclova, the seat of government for the State of Coahuila and
Texas, in company with several Mexican gentlemen and foreigners. Previous
to this time, I had traveled several hundred miles entirely alone, and
generally encamped in the woods or plains at night. On my arrival at
Monclova, I was doomed to encounter "misfortune" of a very different
character. Here I found that the Englishman, (mentioned in my other
letter), with whom I had contracted to petition for two grants of land,
_had totally failed in his application_. The petition had been laid before
the Governor, and he was about issuing the grants, when he received a
_decree_ from the Legislature--which was then in session--forbidding him
to grant any more land, under any pretext. This measure was taken to
prevent the great land speculators from carrying on their swindling
operations in Texas. An act was soon after passed by that body, repealing
all their Colonization laws; and thus every hope that I had so fondly
entertained, and each fair prospect, seemingly so near its realization,
_was instantly blasted and utterly destroyed_! If ever the fortitude
of man was tried, mine was then. If ever stoic philosophy might be
successfully called to the aid of human courage, I felt the necessity
of invoking it upon that occasion. Nearly two years of toil, privation and
peril, have been wasted. My sufferings had been great, though my spirit
soared on the bouyancy of hope. Now the fair superstructure of an
important enterprise, whose ideal magnitude had employed my mind, to the
exclusion of many hardships endured, suddenly vanished from my sight, and
left before me a hideous and gloomy void with no other encouragement than
total disappointment, conscious poverty and remediless despair! What
_should_ I then have done? My health was restored, but my detention and
consequent expenses had been so great that my funds were nearly exhausted.
I came to the country for an important purpose; and I reasoned with
myself thus; although my way is closed in this State, cannot something be
done _elsewhere_? I will not boast of the stoutest heart among men, but
mine _must not quail_. Something further _must_ be done if possible, and
I will try.

In the course of my travels, I had seen a part of the adjoining State of
Tamaulipas, and had been informed that the colonization laws thereof were
liberal. I was even aware that some parts of it are more suitable for the
culture of the sugar cane, than any tract I could have obtained in
Coahuila and Texas. And upon a little reflection, I determined to make
further investigations in Tamaulipas, and had been informed of the State.
As soon as my horse was a little rested, I set out, _alone_, on a journey
of between four and five hundred miles, part of the way through an awfully
mountainous region, and much of it an uninhabited wilderness. I encamped
out almost every night, during the whole journey; very seldom near any
human habitation. I had no fire-arms nor anything to defend myself
against the ferocious beasts of the forest, which I had evidence to
convince me were frequently numerous, and not far distant. In two weeks I
reached the city of Matamoras, in the State of Tamaulipas, quite destitute
of funds, after parting with almost every disposable article belonging to
my wardrobe, &c. The people of this place being all perfect strangers to
me, I did not for a while unfold to them the real object of my visit; but
instead thereof, I opened a shop, and commenced working at my old trade--
the saddling business. I soon got as much work as I could do--supported
myself, replenished my pocket, made some acquaintance with a number of
people, and obtained more information respecting the Colonization laws of
the State. A few weeks elapsed, while I was employed in this way. I then
mounted my horse again, and proceeded to the capital of the State; and
after negotiating for some time with the Governor and Council of the
State, I succeeded in obtaining a grant of land, upon advantageous terms.
I then performed another journey of almost two hundred and fifty miles,
"alone," to Matamoras again; and soon thereafter embarked for the United

My friends will thus perceive that I have not been idle; though much time
has been occupied in my last expedition. I shall not attempt to excite
their sympathy by exhibiting the twentieth part of what I have suffered. I
do not even like to look back upon some of the scenes through which I have
passed. But thanks to a kind and all-sustaining Providence, complete
success has at last crowned my exertions. I strove hard to command it; and
I leave it to others to say whether I have _deserved_ it or not.

The terms upon which I have obtained my grant of land will be noticed in a
public address, which I shall forward with this letter.

Since my arrival in this place, I have been confined by sickness; but am
now convalescent, and shall visit my friends to the eastward, as soon as
circumstances will permit. I cannot close this communication without an
expression of my sincere thanks to those kind friends who rendered me
assistance in defraying the expenses of my last Mexican tour. Their favors
will be most gratefully remembered, and I shall feel myself under
additional obligations to labor for the melioration of the condition of
the poor and suffering _slave_.

In the next number of the "Genius of Universal Emancipation," I shall
insert the names of those who contributed to aid me in the prosecution of
my enterprise; and correct information relative to all proceedings
therein, will be given in the pages of that work, as the business
connected with it progresses.

I am, most respectfully, your Friend,


N. & B. PAUL,

Nashville, 5th Mo., 1835.


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