The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,197 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.
for practical purposes.  When the advertisements were received in advance of arrivals, which was always the case, the descriptions generally were found so lifelike, that the Committee preferred to take them in preference to putting themselves to the labor of writing out new ones, for future reference.  This we think, ought not to be complained of by any who were so unfortunate as to lose wayward servants, as it is but fair to give credit to all concerned.  True, sometimes some of these beautiful advertisements were open to gentle criticism.  The one at the head of this report, is clearly of this character.  For instance, in describing Isaac, Mr. Thomas B. Owings, represents him as being of a “very light color,” “almost yellow,” “might be called a yellow boy.”  In the next breath he has no perceptible marks.  Now, if he is “very light,” that is a well-known southern mark, admitted everywhere.  A hint to the wise is sufficient.  However, judging from what was seen of Isaac in Philadelphia, there was more cunning than “foolishness” about him.  Slaves sometimes, when wanting to get away, would make their owners believe that they were very happy and contented.  And, in using this kind of foolishness, would keep up appearances until an opportunity offered for an escape.  So Isaac might have possessed this sagacity, which appeared like nonsense to his master.  That slave-holders, above all others, were in the habit of taking special pains to encourage foolishness, loud laughing, banjo playing, low dancing, etc., in the place of education, virtue, self-respect and manly carriage, slave-holders themselves are witnesses.

As Mr. Robert Dade was also a loser, equally with Mr. Thomas B. Owings, and as his advertisement was of the same liberality and high tone, it seems but fitting that it should come in just here, to give weight and completeness to the story.  Both Owings and Dade showed a considerable degree of southern chivalry in the liberality of their rewards.  Doubtless, the large sums thus offered awakened a lively feeling in the breasts of old slave-hunters.  But it is to be supposed that the artful fugitives safely reached Philadelphia before the hunters got even the first scent on their track.  Up to the present hour, with the owners all may be profound mystery; if so, it is to be hoped, that they may feel some interest in the solution of these wonders.  The articles so accurately described must now be permitted to testify in their own words, as taken from the records.

Green Modock acknowledges that he was owned by William Dorsey, Perry by Robert Dade, Sam and Isaac by Thomas Owings, all farmers, and all “tough” and “pretty mean men.”  Sam and Isaac had other names with them, but not such a variety of clothing as their master might have supposed.  Sam said he left because his master threatened to sell him to Georgia, and he believed that he meant so to do, as he had sold all his brothers and sisters to Georgia some time before he escaped.

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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