The Underground Railroad eBook

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

Harrison was also moved by another consideration.  His mistress’ sister had been trying to influence the mistress to sell him; thus considering himself in danger, he made up his mind that the time had come for him to change his habitation, so he resolved to try his fortune on the Underground Rail Road.

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The subject of this sketch was one of two hundred slaves, owned by Bolling Ellis, who possessed large plantations at Cabin Point, Surrey Co., Va.  Joe pictured his master, overseers, and general treatment of slaves in no favorable light.

The practice of punishing slaves by putting them in the stocks and by flogging, was dwelt upon in a manner that left no room to doubt but that Joe had been a very great sufferer under his master’s iron rule.  As he described the brutal conduct of overseers in resorting to their habitual modes of torturing men, women, and children, it was too painful to listen to with composure, much more to write down.

Joe was about twenty-three years of age, full black, slender, and of average intellect, considering the class which he represented.  On four occasions previous to the final one he had made fruitless efforts to escape from his tormentors in consequence of brutal treatment.  Although he at last succeeded, the severe trials through which he had to pass in escaping, came very near costing him his life.  The effects he will always feel; prostration and sickness had already taken hold upon him in a serious degree.

During Joe’s sojourn under the care of the Committee, time would not admit of the writing out of further details concerning him.

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Christopher had a heavy debt charged against Clayton Wright, a commission merchant, of Baltimore, who claimed him as his property, and was in the habit of hiring him out to farmers in the country, and of taking all his hire except a single dollar, which was allotted him every holiday.

The last item in his charge against Wright, suggested certain questions:  “How have you been used?” was the first query.  “Sometimes right smart, and then again bad enough for it,” said Christopher.  Again he was asked, “What kind of a man was your master?” “He was only tolerable, I can’t say much good for him.  I got tired of working and they getting my labor and I getting nothing for my labor.”  At the time of his escape, he was employed in the service of a man by the name of Cook.  Christopher described him as “a dissatisfied man, who couldn’t be pleased at nothing and his wife was like him.”

This passenger was quite black, medium size, and in point of intellect, about on a par with ordinary field hands.  His wife, Ann, in point of go-ahead-ativeness, seemed in advance of him.  Indeed, she first prompted her husband to escape.

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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