The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,197 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.

    JOHN ATKINS.

    W.H.  ATKINSON, Fugitive, Oct., 1854.

* * * * *

WILLIAM BUTCHER, ALIAS WILLIAM T. MITCHELL.

“HE WAS ABUSEFUL.”

This passenger reported himself from Massey’s Cross-Roads, near Georgetown, Maryland.  William gave as his reason for being found destitute, and under the necessity of asking aid, that a man by the name of William Boyer, who followed farming, had deprived him of his hard earnings, and also claimed him as his property; and withal that he had abused him for years, and recently had “threatened to sell” him.  This threat made his yoke too intolerable to be borne.

He here began to think and plan for the future as he had never done before.  Fortunately he was possessed with more than an average amount of mother wit, and he soon comprehended the requirements of the Underground Rail Road.  He saw exactly that he must have resolution and self-dependence, very decided, in order to gain the victory over Boyer.  In his hour of trial his wife, Phillis, and child, John Wesley, who were free, caused him much anxiety; but his reason taught him that it was his duty to throw off the yoke at all hazards, and he acted accordingly.  Of course he left behind his wife and child.  The interview which the Committee held with William was quite satisfactory, and he was duly aided and regularly despatched by the name of William T. Mitchell.  He was about twenty-eight years of age, of medium size, and of quite a dark hue.

“WHITE ENOUGH TO PASS.”

John Wesley Gibson represented himself to be not only the slave, but also the son of William Y. Day, of Taylor’s Mount, Maryland.  The faintest shade of colored blood was hardly discernible in this passenger.  He relied wholly on his father’s white blood to secure him freedom.  Having resolved to serve no longer as a slave, he concluded to “hold up his head and put on airs.”  He reached Baltimore safely without being discovered or suspected of being on the Underground Rail Road, as far as he was aware of.  Here he tried for the first time to pass for white; the attempt proved a success beyond his expectation.  Indeed he could but wonder how it was that he had never before hit upon such an expedient to rid himself of his unhappy lot.  Although a man of only twenty-eight years of age, he was foreman of his master’s farm, but he was not particularly favored in any way on this account.  His master and father endeavored to hold the reins very tightly upon him.  Not even allowing him the privilege of visiting around on neighboring plantations.  Perhaps the master thought the family likeness was rather too discernible.  John believed that on this account all privileges were denied him, and he resolved to escape.  His mother, Harriet, and sister, Frances, were named as near kin whom he had left behind.  John was quite smart, and looked none the worse for having so much of his master’s blood in his veins.  The master was alone to blame for John’s escape, as he passed on his (the master’s) color.

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Project Gutenberg
The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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