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 was convinced that it was them, I knew there was no chance of escape.  I took refuge in the top of a tree, and the hounds were soon at its base, and there remained until the hunters came up in a half or three quarters of an hour afterwards.  There were two men with the dogs, who, as soon as they came up, ordered me to descend.  I came down, was tied, and taken to St. Louis jail.  Major Freeland soon made his appearance, and took me out, and ordered me to follow him, which I did.  After we returned home, I was tied up in the smoke-house, and was very severely whipped.  After the Major had flogged me to his satisfaction, he sent out his son Robert, a young man eighteen or twenty years of age, to see that I was well smoked.  He made a fire of tobacco stems, which soon set me to coughing and sneezing.  This, Robert told me, was the way his father used to do to his slaves in Virginia.  After giving me what they conceived to be a decent smoking, I was untied and again set to work.

Robert Freeland was a “chip of the old block.”  Though quite young, it was not unfrequently that he came home in a state of intoxication.  He is now, I believe, a popular commander of a steamboat on the Mississippi river.  Major Freeland soon after failed in business, and I was put on board the steamboat Missouri, which plied between St. Louis and Galena.  The commander of the boat was William B. Culver.  I remained on her during the sailing season, which was the most pleasant time for me that I had ever experienced.  At the close of navigation, I was hired to Mr. John Colburn, keeper of the Missouri Hotel.  He was from one of the Free States; but a more inveterate hater of the negro, I do not believe ever walked on God’s green earth.  This hotel was at that time one of the largest in the city, and there were employed in it twenty or thirty servants, mostly slaves.

Mr. Colburn was very abusive, not only to the servants, but to his wife also, who was an excellent woman, and one from whom I never knew a servant to receive a harsh word; but never did I know a kind one to a servant from her husband.  Among the slaves employed in the hotel, was one by the name of Aaron, who belonged to Mr. John F. Darby, a lawyer.  Aaron was the knife-cleaner.  One day, one of the knives was put on the table, not as clean as it might have been.  Mr. Colburn, for this offence, tied Aaron up in the wood-house, and gave him over fifty lashes on the bare back with a cowhide, after which, he made me wash him down with rum.  This seemed to put him into more agony than the whipping.  After being untied, he went home to his master, and complained of the treatment which he had received.  Mr. Darby would give no heed to anything he had to say, but sent him directly back.  Colburn, learning that he had been to his master with complaints, tied him up again, and gave him a more severe whipping than before.  The poor fellow’s back was literally cut to pieces; so much so, that he was not able to work for ten or twelve days.

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