The Underground Railroad eBook

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

His claimant, F. Smith, however, had only a term of years claim upon him, which was within about two years of being out.  This contract for the term of years, Charles felt was made without consulting him, therefore he resolved to break it without consulting his master.  He also declined to have anything to do with the Baltimore and Wilmington R.R.  Co., considering it a prescriptive institution, not worthy of his confidence.  He started on a fast walk, keeping his eyes wide open, looking out for slave-hunters on his right and left.  In this way, like many others, he reached the Committee safely and was freely aided, thenceforth traveling in a first class Underground Rail Road car, till he reached his journey’s end.

Arrival No. 13.  William Govan.  Availing himself of a passage on the schooner of Captain B., William left Petersburg, where he had been owned by “Mark Davis, Esq., a retired gentleman,” rather, a retired negro trader.

William was about thirty-three years of age, and was of a bright orange color.  Nothing but an ardent love of liberty prompted him to escape.  He was quite smart, and a clever-looking man, worth at least $1,000.

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Of all the passengers who had hitherto arrived with bruised and mangled bodies received at the hands of slave-holders, none brought a back so shamefully lacerated by the lash as Thomas Madden.  Not a single spot had been exempted from the excoriating cow-hide.  A most bloody picture did the broad back and shoulders of Thomas present to the eye as he bared his wounds for inspection.  While it was sad to think, that millions of men, women, and children throughout the South were liable to just such brutal outrages as Thomas had received, it was a satisfaction to think, that this outrage had made a freeman of him.

He was only twenty-two years of age, but that punishment convinced him that he was fully old enough to leave such a master as E. Ray, who had almost murdered him.  But for this treatment, Thomas might have remained in some degree contented in Slavery.  He was expected to look after the fires in the house on Sunday mornings.  In a single instance desiring to be absent, perhaps for his own pleasure, two boys offered to be his substitute.  The services of the boys were accepted, and this gave offence to the master.  This Thomas declared was the head and front of his offending.  His simple narration of the circumstances of his slave life was listened to by the Committee with deep interest and a painful sense of the situation of slaves under the despotism of such men as Ray.

After being cared for by the Committee he was sent on to Canada.  When there he wrote back to let the Committee know how he was faring, the narrow escape he had on the way, and likewise to convey the fact, that one named “Rachel,” left behind, shared a large place in his affections.  The subjoined letter is the only correspondence of his preserved: 

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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