The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,446 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.

He remained there a few months, but could content himself no longer to endure the ills of his condition.  So he again started for home, walked to Mobile, and thence he succeeded in stowing himself away in a steamboat and was thus conveyed to Montgomery, a distance of five hundred and fifty miles through solid slave territory.  Again he was captured and returned to his owners; one of whom always went for immediate punishment, the other being mild thought persuasion the better plan in such cases.  On the whole, Joseph thus far had been pretty fortunate, considering the magnitude of his offence.

A third time he summoned courage and steered his course homewards towards Maryland, but as in the preceding attempts, he was again unsuccessful.

In this instance Mr. Henry, the harsh owner, was exasperated, and the mild one’s patience so exhausted that they concluded that nothing short of stern measures would cause Joe to reform.  Said Mr. Henry; “I had rather lose my right arm than for him to get off without being punished, after having put us to so much trouble.”

Joseph will now speak for himself.

“He (master) sent the overseer to tie me.  I told him I would not be tied.  I ran and stayed away four days, which made Mr. Henry very anxious.  Mr. Beans told the servants if they saw me, to tell me to come back and I should not be hurt.  Thinking that Mr. Beans had always stood to his word, I was over persuaded and came back.  He sent for me in his parlor, talked the matter over, sent me to the steamboat (perhaps the one he tried to escape on.) After getting cleverly on board the captain told me, I am sorry to tell you, you have to be tied.  I was tied and Mr. Henry was sent for.  He came; ’Well, I have got you at last, beg my pardon and promise you will never run away again and I will not be so hard on you.’  I could not do it.  He then gave me three hundred lashes well laid on.  I was stripped entirely naked, and my flesh was as raw as a piece of beef.  He made John (the companion who escaped with him) hold one of my feet which I broke loose while being whipped, and when done made him bathe me in salt and water.

“Then I resolved to ‘go or die’ in the attempt.  Before starting, one week, I could not work.  On getting better we went to Ship Island; the sailors, who were Englishmen, were very sorry to hear of the treatment we had received, and counselled us how we might get free.”

The counsel was heeded, and in due time they found themselves in Liverpool.  There their stay was brief.  Utterly destitute of money, education, and in a strange land, they very naturally turned their eyes again in the direction of their native land.  Accordingly their host, the keeper of a sailor’s boarding-house, shipped them to Philadelphia.

But to go back, Joseph saw many things in New Orleans and Mississippi of a nature too horrible to relate, among which were the following: 

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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