In his simple manner of describing the trials he had been called upon to endure, it was not to be wondered at that he was willing to forsake all and run fearful risks in order to rid himself not only of the “load on his back,” but the load on his heart. By the very positive character of William’s testimony against slavery, the Committee felt more than ever justified in encouraging the Underground Rail Road.
Henry Gorham was thirty-four years of age, a “prime,” heavy, dark, smart, “article,” and a good carpenter. He admitted that he had never felt the lash on his back, but, nevertheless, he had felt deeply on the subject of slavery. For years the chief concern with him was as to how he could safely reach a free State. Slavery he hated with a perfect hatred. To die in the woods, live in a cave, or sacrifice himself in some way, he was bound to do, rather than remain a slave. The more he reflected over his condition the more determined he grew to seek his freedom. Accordingly he left and went to the woods; there he prepared himself a cave and resolved to live and die in it rather than return to bondage. Before he found his way out of the prison-house eleven months elapsed. His strong impulse for freedom, and intense aversion to slavery, sustained him until he found an opportunity to escape by the Underground Rail Road.
One of the tried Agents of the Underground Rail Road was alone cognizant of his dwelling in the cave, and regarding him as a tolerably safe passenger (having been so long secreted), secured him a passage on the schooner, and thus he was fortunately relieved from his eleven months’ residence in his den. No rhetoric or fine scholarship was needed in his case to make his story interesting. None but hearts of stone could have listened without emotion.
Andrew, another fellow-passenger, was twenty-six years of age, and a decidedly inviting-looking specimen of the peculiar institution. He filled the situation of an engineer. He, with his wife and one child, belonged to a small orphan girl, who lived at South End, Camden county, N.C. His wife and child had to be left behind. While it seemed very hard for a husband thus to leave his wife, every one that did so weakened slavery and encouraged and strengthened anti-slavery.
Numbered with these four North Carolina passengers is found the name of Wiley Maddison, a young man nineteen years of age, who escaped from Petersburg on the cars as a white man. He was of promising appearance, and found no difficulty whatever on the road. With the rest, however, he concluded himself hardly safe this side of Canada, and it afforded the Committee special pleasure to help them all.
PASSED OVER THE U.G.R.R., IN THE FALL OF 1856.