ROBERT McCOY alias WILLIAM DONAR.
In October, 1854, the Committee received per steamer, directly from Norfolk, Va., Robert McCoy and Elizabeth Saunders. Robert had constantly been in the clutches of the negro-trader Hall, for the last sixteen years, previous to his leaving, being owned by him. He had, therefore, possessed very favorable opportunities for varied observation and experience relative to the trader’s conduct in his nefarious business, as well as for witnessing the effects of the auction-block upon all ages—rending asunder the dearest ties, despite the piteous wails of childhood or womanhood, parental or conjugal relations. But no attempt will be made to chronicle the deeds of this dealer in human flesh. Those stories fresh from the lips of one who had just escaped, were painful in the extreme, but in the very nature of things some of the statements are too revolting to be published. In lieu of this fact, except the above allusions to the trader’s business, this sketch will only refer to Robert’s condition as a slave, and finally as a traveler on the Underground Rail Road.
Robert was a man of medium size, dark mulatto, of more than ordinary intelligence. His duties had been confined to the house, and not to the slave pen. As a general thing, he had managed, doubtless through much shrewdness, to avoid very severe outrages from the trader. On the whole, he had fared “about as well” as the generality of slaves.
Yet, in order to free himself from his “miserable” life, he was willing, as he declared, to suffer almost any sacrifice. Indeed, his conduct proved the sincerity of this declaration, as he had actually been concealed five months in a place in the city, where he could not possibly avoid daily suffering of the most trying kind. His resolve to be free was all this while maturing. The trader had threatened to sell Robert, and to prevent it Robert (thus) “took out.” Successfully did he elude the keen scent and grasp of the hunters, who made diligent efforts to recapture him. Although a young man—only about twenty-eight years of age, his health was by no means good. His system had evidently been considerably shattered by Slavery, and symptoms of consumption, together with chronic rheumatism, were making rapid headway against the physical man. Under his various ills, he declared, as did many others from the land of bondage, that his faith in God afforded him comfort and hope. He was obliged to leave his wife, Eliza, in bonds, not knowing whether they should ever meet again on earth, but he was somewhat hopeful that the way would open for her escape also.
After reaching Philadelphia, where his arrival had long been anticipated by the Vigilance Committee, his immediate wants were met, and in due order he was forwarded to New Bedford, where, he was led to feel, he would be happy in freedom.
Scarcely had he been in New Bedford one month, before his prayers and hopes were realized with regard to the deliverance of his wife. On hearing of the good news of her coming he wrote as follows—