Half a Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Half a Century.

They nursed me carefully, and I lay thinking of the “little ones sick and in prison.”  Old Martha came and plead with me.  I saw Liza and Maria under the lash for the crime of chastity, and myself the accomplice of their brutal masters.  I pictured one of them a member of the M.E.  Church, appealing to that church for redress and spurned under the “Black Gag,” and I? why I had been helping men who voted for it to build a meeting-house!  What was Peter’s denial compared to mine?

The case arranged itself in my mind.  I had writing materials brought, and there, with my head fast on the pillow, I wrote a hexameter rhyme half a column long, arraigning by name those Black Gag preachers, painting the scene, and holding them responsible.  I signed my initials, and sent it to Mr. Fleeson, with a note telling him to give my name if it was inquired for.

Our “Spirit” did not come that week; but soon my husband came to my room with a copy of “The Pittsburg Gazette,” in which was an editorial and letter full of pious horror and denunciation of that article, and giving my name as the author; so that we knew Mr. Fleeson had published the name in full.  This was my first appearance in print over my own signature, and while I was shocked, my husband was delighted, even though he knew a libel suit was threatened.  I soon went to Pittsburg, saw William Elder and John A. Wills, the only anti-slavery lawyers in the city.  They said the article was actionable, for it had brought those men into contempt.  Elder added:  “They are badly hurt, or they would not cry out so loud.”

Both tendered their gratuitous services for my defense.  In a civil suit we could prove the truth of the charge, and they could get nothing, for my husband owned no property—­everything belonged to his mother—­and my trustees could not be held for my misdeeds.  Their action would doubtless be criminal, and I would probably be imprisoned.  I went home and wrote a reply to the Gazette, which it refused to publish, but it appeared in the Spirit.  I reiterated, urged and intensified my charges against these false priests, until they were dumb about their injuries and libel suit, but of that original article I never could get a copy.  Every one had been sold and resold, and read to rags, before I knew it was in print.

I continued to write for the “Spirit,” but still there did not seem to be anything I could do for the slave.  As soon as I was able to be about the house, I fell into my old round of drudgery, but with hope and pride shut out of it.  Once my burden pressed so that I could not sleep, and rose at early dawn, and sat looking over the meadow, seeing nothing but a dense, white fog.  I leaned back, closed my eyes and thought how like it was to my own life.  When I looked again, oh, the vision of glory which, met my sight!

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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