The Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 76 pages of information about The Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave.

I turned to the one who appeared to be the principal man, and asked him what he wanted.  He said he had a warrant to take us up.  The three immediately dismounted, and one took from his pocket a handbill, advertising us as runaways, and offering a reward of two hundred dollars for our apprehension, and delivery in the city of St. Louis.  The advertisement had been put out by Isaac Mansfield and John Young.

While they were reading the advertisement, mother looked me in the face, and burst into tears.  A cold chill ran over me, and such a sensation I never experienced before, and I hope never to again.  They took out a rope and tied me, and we were taken back about six miles, to the house of the individual who appeared to be the leader.  We reached there about seven o’clock in the evening, had supper, and were separated for the night.  Two men remained in the room during the night.  Before the family retired to rest, they were all called together to attend prayers.  The man who but a few hours before had bound my hands together with a strong cord, read a chapter from the Bible, and then offered up prayer, just as though God sanctioned the act he had just committed upon a poor panting, fugitive slave.

The next morning, a blacksmith came in, and put a pair of handcuffs on me, and we started on our journey back to the land of whips, chains and Bibles.  Mother was not tied, but was closely watched at night.  We were carried back in a wagon, and after four days travel, we came in sight of St. Louis.  I cannot describe my feelings upon approaching the city.

As we were crossing the ferry, Mr. Wiggins, the owner of the ferry, came up to me, and inquired what I had been doing that I was in chains.  He had not heard that I had run away.  In a few minutes, we were on the Missouri side, and were taken directly to the jail.  On the way thither, I saw several of my friends, who gave me a nod of recognition as I passed them.  After reaching the jail, we were locked up in different apartments.


I had been in jail but a short time when I heard that my master was sick, and nothing brought more joy to my heart than that intelligence.  I prayed fervently for him—­not for his recovery, but for his death.  I knew he would be exasperated at having to pay for my apprehension, and knowing his cruelty, I feared him.  While in jail, I learned that my sister Elizabeth, who was in prison when we left the city, had been carried off four days before our arrival.

I had been in jail but a few hours when three negro-traders, learning that I was secured thus for running away, came to my prison-house and looked at me, expecting that I would be offered for sale.  Mr. Mansfield, the man who owned mother, came into the jail as soon as Mr. Jones, the man who arrested us, informed him that he had brought her back.  He told her that he would not whip her, but would sell her to a negro-trader,

Project Gutenberg
The Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook