The Underground Railroad eBook

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

Tabby and Eliza Fortlock, sisters, and single women, had been deriving years of leisure, comfort, and money from the sweat of Edward’s brow.  The maiden ladies owned about eighteen head of this kind of property, far more than they understood how to treat justly or civilly.  They bore the name of being very hard to satisfy.  They were proverbially “stingy.”  They were members of the Christ Episcopal Church.

Edward, however, remembered very sensibly that his own brother had been sold South by these ladies; and not only he, but others also, had been sent to the auction-block, and there made merchandise of.  Edward, therefore, had no faith in these lambs of the flock, and left them because he thought there was reason in all things.  “Yearly my task had been increased and made heavier and heavier, until I was pressed beyond what I could bear.”  Under this pressure no hope, present, or future, could be discerned, except by escaping on the Underground Rail Road.

Joseph was also one of the chattels belonging to the Misses Portlock.  A more active and wide-awake young man of twenty years of age, could not easily be found among the enslaved; he seemed to comprehend Slavery in all its bearings.  From a small boy he had been hired out, making money for the “pious ladies” who owned him.  His experience under these protectors had been similar to that of Edward given above.  Joseph was of a light brown color, (some of his friends may be able to decide by this simple fact whether he is a relative, etc.).

Tom, a full-faced, good-natured-looking young man, was also of this party.  He was about twenty-seven years of age, and was said to be the slave of John Hatten, Esq., Cashier of the Virginia Bank of Portsmouth.  Tom admitted that he was treated very well by Mr. Hatten and his family, except that he was not allowed his freedom; besides he felt a little tired of having to pay twelve dollars a month for his hire, as he hired his time of his master.  Of course he was not insensible to the fact also that he was liable to be sold any day.

In pondering over these slight drawbacks, Tom concluded that Slavery was no place for a man who valued his freedom, it mattered not how kind masters or mistresses might be.  Under these considerations he made up his mind that he would have to let the cashier look out for himself, and he would do the same.  In this state of mind he joined the party for Canada.

James was another associate passenger, and the best-looking “article” in the party; few slaves showed a greater degree of intelligence and shrewdness.  He had acquired the art of reading and writing very well, and was also a very ready talker.  He was owned by Mrs. Maria Hansford of New York.  When he was quite small he remembered seeing his mistress, but not since.  He was raised with her sister, who resided in Norfolk, the place of James’ servitude.

James confessed that he had been treated very kindly, and had been taught to read by members of the family.  This was an exceptional case, worthy of especial note.

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