There were two others who, he believed, could be trusted, so he made known his intentions to them, and finding them sound on the question of freedom he was glad of their company. For an emergency, he provided himself with a pair of pistols and a formidable-looking knife, and started, bent on reaching Canada; determined at least, not to be taken back to bondage alive. Charles was twenty-four years of age, a very dark-colored individual, and also belonged to said Johnson.
Charles was well acquainted with his old master and mistress, and made very quick work of giving his experience. After hearing him, from the manner in which he expressed himself, no one could doubt his earnestness and veracity. His testimony ran substantially thus:
“For the last three years I have been treated very hard. In the presence of the servants, old Johnson had me tied, stripped, and with his own hands, flogged me on the naked back shamefully. The old mistress was cross too.” It was some time before the smarting ceased, but it was not long ere the suffering produced very decided aspirations to get over to John Bull’s Dominions. He resolved to go, at all hazards. In order that he might not be surprised on the Underground Rail Road without any weapons of defense, determined as he was to fight rather than be dragged back, he provided himself with a heavy, leaden ball and a razor. They met, however, with no serious difficulty, save from hard walking and extreme hunger. In appearance, courage, and mother-wit, this party was of much promise.
* * * * *
SAMUEL BENTON, JOHN ALEXANDER, JAMES HENRY, AND SAMUEL TURNER.
These passengers journeyed together from the land of whips and chains.
Sam Benton was about twenty-six years of age, medium size, pretty dark color, and possessed a fair share of intelligence. He understood very well how sadly Slavery had wronged him by keeping him in ignorance and poverty.
He stated as the cause of his flight that William Campbell had oppressed him and kept him closely at hard labor without paying him, and at the same time “did not give him half enough to eat, and no clothing.”
John Alexander was about forty-four years of age, a man of ordinary size, quite black, and a good specimen of a regular corn-field hand.
“Why did you leave, John?” said a member of the Committee. He coolly replied that “Handy (his master was named George Handy) got hold of me twice, and I promised my Lord that he should never get hold of me another time.”
Of course it was the severity of these two visitations that made John a thinker and an actor at the same time. The evil practices of the master produced the fruits of liberty in John’s breast.
James Henry, the third passenger, was about thirty-two years of age, and quite a spirited-looking “article.” A few months before he fled he had been sold, at which time his age was given as “only twenty.” He had suffered considerably from various abuses; the hope of Canada however tended to make him joyful.