The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,446 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.
of six sons and five daughters, who moved in the first circle, were “very wealthy and aristocratic.”  Abe was conversant with the fact, that his master, the “Hon. L. McLane, was once Secretary under President Jackson;” that he had been “sent to England on a mission for the Government,” and that he had “served two terms in Congress.”  Some of the servants, Abe said, were “treated pretty well, but some others could not say anything in the master’s favor.”  Upon the whole, however, it was manifest that the McLane slaves had not been among the number who had seen severe hardships.  They came from his plantation in Cecil county, Maryland, where they had been reared.

In order to defend themselves on the Underground Rail Road, they were strongly armed.  Sam had a large horse pistol and a butcher knife; Jack had a revolver; Abe had a double-barrelled pistol and a large knife; Jim had a single-barrelled pistol and counted on “blowing a man down if any one touched” him.  Bill also had a single-barrelled pistol, and when he started resolved to “come through or die.”

Although this party was of the class said to be well fed, well clothed, and not over-worked, yet to those who heard them declare their utter detestation of slavery and their determination to use their instruments of death, even to the taking of life, rather than again be subjected to the yoke, it was evident that even the mildest form of slavery was abhorrent.  They left neither old nor young masters, whom they desired to serve any longer or look up to for care and support.

Jack, who was not of the McLane party, but who came with them, had been kept in ignorance with regard to his age.  He was apparently middle-aged, medium size, dark color, and of average intelligence.  He accused William Knight, a farmer, of having enslaved him contrary to his will or wishes, and averred that he fled from him because he used him badly and kept mean overseers.  Jack said that his master owned six farms and kept three overseers to manage them.  The slaves numbered twenty-one head.  The names of the overseers were given in the following order:  “Alfred King, Jimmy Allen, and Thomas Brockston.”  In speaking of their habits, Jack said, that they were “very smart when the master was about, but as soon as he was gone they would instantly drop back.”  “They were all mean, but the old boss was meaner than them all,” and “the overseers were ‘fraider’ of him than what I was,” said Jack.

His master (Mr. Knight), had a wife and seven children, and was a member of the Episcopal Church, in “good and regular standing.”  He was rich, and, with his family, moved in good society.  “His wife was too stingy to live, and if she was to die, she would die holding on to something,” said Jack.  Jack had once had a wife and three children, but as they belonged to a slave-holder ("Jim Price”) Jack’s rights were wholly ignored, and he lost them.

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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