James Kedzie and John Hume were plain country farmers residing in southwestern Ohio, neither very rich nor very poor. They were natives of Scotland, and stating that fact is almost equivalent to saying they were Abolitionists. None of the Scotch of the writer’s personal knowledge, at the period referred to, were otherwise than strongly Anti-Slavery. There are said to be exceptions to all rules, and there was one in this instance. He was a kinsman of the author, and a “braw” young Scotchman who came over to this country with the expectation of picking up a fortune in short order. Finding the North too slow, he went South. There he met a lady who owned a valuable plantation well stocked with healthy negroes. He married the woman, and became something of a local nabob, with the reputation of great severity as a master. One day, with his own hand, he inflicted a cruel flogging on a slave who had the name of a “bad nigger.” That night, when the master was playing chess with a neighbor by candlelight on the ground floor of his dwelling, all the windows being open, the negro crept up with a loaded gun and shot him dead.
The sad affair was regretfully commented on by the dead man’s relatives, who, I remember, referred to his untimely ending as “his judgment,” and as a punishment he had brought upon “himself.”
My uncle and father did not conceal their unpopular views. They openly voted the Abolition ticket. In eight years, beginning with their two ballots, they raised the third party vote in their immediate vicinity to eight, and they boasted of the progress they had made.
They did not make public addresses, but they faithfully listened to those made by others in support of the cause. They attended all Abolition meetings that were within reach. They took the National Era. Not only that, but they got up clubs for it. The first club I recollect my father’s securing consisted of half a dozen subscribers, for one half of which he paid. The next year’s was double in size, and so was my father’s contribution. There was no fund for the promotion of the Abolitionist cause, for which they were called upon, to which they did not cheerfully pay according to their means.
All Abolition lecturers and colporteurs were gratuitously entertained, although their presence was sometimes a cause of abuse, and even of danger. There were other travelers who sometimes applied for help. Their faces were of dusky hue, and their great whitish eyes were like those of hunted beasts of the forest. They went on their way strengthened and rejoicing—always in the direction of the North Star.
The men are dead, but Slavery is dead also, partly through their labors and sacrifices. Their unpretentious, patient, earnest lives were not in vain. They contributed to the final triumph of Freedom’s holy cause.