The sufferings for food, which they were called upon to endure, were beyond description. They happened to have plenty of salt fat pork, and perhaps beans, Indian meal and some potatoes for standing dishes; the more delicate necessaries did not probably last longer than the first or second week of their ice-bondage.
Without a doubt, one of these Captains left Norfolk about the twentieth of January, but did not reach Philadelphia till about the twentieth of March, having been frozen up, of course, during the greater part of that time. Men, women and children were alike sharers in the common struggle for freedom—were alike an hungered, in prison, naked, and sick, but it was a fearful thing in those days for even women and children to whisper their sad lamentations in the city of Philadelphia, except to those friendly to the Underground Rail Road.
Doubtless, if these mothers, with their children and partners in tribulation, could have been seen as they arrived direct from the boats, many hearts would have melted, and many tears would have found their way down many cheeks. But at that time cotton was acknowledged to be King—the Fugitive Slave Law was supreme, and the notorious decision of Judge Taney, that “black men had no rights which white men were bound to respect,” echoed the prejudices of the masses too clearly to have made it safe to reveal the fact of their arrival, or even the heart-rending condition of these Fugitives.
Nevertheless, they were not turned away empty, though at a peril they were fed, aided, and comforted, and sent away well clothed. Indeed, so bountifully were the women and children supplied, that as they were being conveyed to the Camden and Amboy station, they looked more like a pleasuring party than like fugitives. Some of the good friends of the slave sent clothing, and likewise cheered them with their presence.
[Before the close of this volume, such friends and sympathizers will be more particularly noticed in an appropriate place.]
* * * * *
JOSEPH CORNISH, Dorchester Co., Md.; LEWIS FRANCIS, alias LEWIS JOHNSON, Harford Co., Md.; ALEXANDER MUNSON, Chestertown, Md.; SAMUEL and ANN SCOTT, Cecil Cross-Roads, Md.; WM. HENRY LAMINSON, Del.; ISAAC STOUT, alias GEORGE WASHINGTON, CAROLINE GRAVES, Md.; HENRY and ELIZA WASHINGTON, Alexandria, Va.; HENRY CHAMBERS, JOHN CHAMBERS, SAMUEL FALL, and THOMAS ANDERSON, Md.
Joseph Cornish was about forty years of age when he escaped. The heavy bonds of Slavery made him miserable. He was a man of much natural ability, quite dark, well-made, and said that he had been “worked very hard.” According to his statement, he had been an “acceptable preacher in the African Methodist Church,” and was also “respected by the respectable white and colored people in his neighborhood.” He would not have escaped but for fear of being sold, as he had a wife and five children to whom he was very much attached, but had to leave them behind. Fortunately they were free.