From William’s report of his master, he was by no means among the worst of slave-holders in Richmond; he did not himself flog, but the overseer was allowed to conduct this business, when it was considered necessary. For a long time William had cherished a strong desire to be free, and had gone so far on several occasions as to make unsuccessful attempts to accomplish this end. At last he was only apprised of his opportunity to carry his wishes into practice a few moments before the hour for the starting of the Underground Rail Road train.
Being on the watch, he hailed the privilege, and left without looking back.
True he left his wife and two children, who were free, and a son also who was owned by Warner Toliver, of Gloucester county, Va. We leave the reader to decide for himself, whether William did right or wrong, and who was responsible for the sorrow of both husband and wife caused by the husband’s course. The Committee received him as a true and honest friend of freedom, and as such aided him.
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Susan was also a passenger on the same ship that brought Wm. B. White. She was from Norfolk. Her toil, body and strength were claimed by Thomas Eckels, Esq., a man of wealth and likewise a man of intemperance. With those who regarded Slavery as a “divine institution,” intemperance was scarcely a mote, in the eyes of such. For sixteen years, Susan had been in the habit of hiring her time, for which she was required to pay five dollars per month. As she had the reputation of being a good cook and chambermaid, she was employed steadily, sometimes on boats. This sum may therefore be considered reasonable.
Owing to the death of her husband, about a year previous to her escape, she had suffered greatly, so much so, that on two or three occasions, she had fallen into alarming fits,—a fact by no means agreeable to her owner, as he feared that the traders on learning her failing health would underrate her on this account. But Susan was rather thankful for these signs of weakness, as she was thereby enabled to mature her plans and thus to elude detection.
Her son having gone on ahead to Canada about six months in advance of her, she felt that she had strong ties in the goodly land. Every day she remained in bondage, the cords bound her more tightly, and “weeks seemed like months, and months like years,” so abhorrent had the peculiar institution become to her in every particular. In this state of mind, she saw no other way, than by submitting to be secreted, until an opportunity should offer, via the Underground Rail Road.
So for four months, like a true and earnest woman, she endured a great “fight of affliction,” in this horrible place. But the thought of freedom enabled her to keep her courage up, until the glad news was conveyed to her that all things were ready, providing that she could get safely to the boat, on which she was to be secreted. How she succeeded in so doing the record book fails to explain.