Oliver Purnell and Isaac Fidget arrived from Berlin, Md. Each had different owners. Oliver stated that Mose Purnell had owned him, and that he was a tolerably moderate kind of a slave-holder, although he was occasionally subject to fractious turns. Oliver simply gave as his reason for leaving in the manner that he did, that he wanted his “own earnings.” He felt that he had as good a right to the fruit of his labor as anybody else. Despite all the pro-slavery teachings he had listened to all his life, he was far from siding with the pro-slavery doctrines. He was about twenty-six years of age, chestnut color, wide awake and a man of promise; yet it was sadly obvious that he had been blighted and cursed by slavery even in its mildest forms. He left his parents, two brothers and three sisters all slaves in the hands of Purnell, the master whom he deserted.
Isaac, his companion, was about thirty years of age, dark, and in intellect about equal to the average passengers on the Underground Rail Road. He had a very lively hope of finding his wife in freedom, she having escaped the previous Spring; but of her whereabouts he was ignorant, as he had had no tidings of her since her departure. A lady by the name of Mrs. Fidget held the deed for Isaac. He spoke kindly of her, as he thought she treated her slaves quite as well at least as the best of slave-holders in his neighborhood. His view was a superficial one, it meant only that they had not been beaten and starved half to death.
As the heroic adventures and sufferings of Slaves struggling for freedom, shall be read by coming generations, were it not for unquestioned statutes upholding Slavery in its dreadful heinousness, people will hardly be able to believe that such atrocities were enacted in the nineteenth century, under a highly enlightened, Christianized, and civilized government. Having already copied a statute enacted by the State of Virginia, as a sample of Southern State laws, it seems fitting that the Fugitive Slave Bill, enacted by the Congress of the United States, shall be also copied, in order to commemorate that most infamous deed, by which, it may be seen, how great were the bulwarks of oppression to be surmounted by all who sought to obtain freedom by flight.
“AN ACT RESPECTING FUGITIVES FROM JUSTICE, AND PERSONS ESCAPING FROM THE SERVICE OF THEIR MASTERS.”
Be it enacted by the Senate
and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled: