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.

As soon as I saw it, I knew my course, and before daylight I travelled twenty or twenty-five miles.  It being in the winter, I suffered intensely from the cold; being without an overcoat, and my other clothes rather thin for the season.  I was provided with a tinder-box, so that I could make up a fire when necessary.  And but for this, I should certainly have frozen to death; for I was determined not to go to any house for shelter.  I knew of a man belonging to Gen. Ashly, of St. Louis, who had run away near Cincinnati, on the way to Washington, but had been caught and carried back into slavery; and I felt that a similar fate awaited me, should I be seen by any one.  I travelled at night, and lay by during the day.

On the fourth day, my provisions gave out, and then what to do I could not tell.  Have something to eat, I must; but how to get it was the question!  On the first night after my food was gone, I went to a barn on the road-side, and there found some ears of corn.  I took ten or twelve of them, and kept on my journey.  During the next day, while in the woods, I roasted my corn and feasted upon it, thanking God that I was so well provided for.

My escape to a land of freedom now appeared certain, and the prospects of the future occupied a great part of my thoughts.  What should be my occupation, was a subject of much anxiety to me; and the next thing what should be my name?  I have before stated that my old master, Dr. Young, had no children of his own, but had with him a nephew, the son of his brother, Benjamin Young.  When this boy was brought to Doctor Young, his name being William, the same as mine, my mother was ordered to change mine to something else.  This, at the time, I thought to be one of the most cruel acts that could be committed upon my rights; and I received several very severe whippings for telling people that my name was William, after orders were given to change it.  Though young, I was old enough to place a high appreciation upon my name.  It was decided, however, to call me “Sandford,” and this name I was known by, not only upon my master’s plantation, but up to the time that I made my escape.  I was sold under the name of Sandford.

But as soon as the subject came to my mind, I resolved on adopting my old name of William, and let Sandford go by the board, for I always hated it.  Not because there was anything peculiar in the name; but because it had been forced upon me.  It is sometimes common at the south, for slaves to take the name of their masters.  Some have a legitimate right to do so.  But I always detested the idea of being called by the name of either of my masters.  And as for my father, I would rather have adopted the name of “Friday,” and been known as the servant of some Robinson Crusoe, than to have taken his name.  So I was not only hunting for my liberty, but also hunting for a name; though I regarded the latter as of little consequence, if I could but gain the former.  Travelling along

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