In making her grievances known to the Committee she charged Mr. and Mrs. McCoy with having done great violence to her freedom and degrading her womanhood by holding her in bonds contrary to her wishes. Of Mr. McCoy, however, she spoke less severely than she did of his “better half.” Indeed she spoke of some kind traits in his character, but said that his wife was one of “the torn down, devilish dispositions, all the time quarreling and fighting, and would swear like an old sailor.” It was in consequence of these evil propensities that her ladyship was intolerable to Roberta. Without being indebted to her owners for any privileges, she had managed to learn to read a little, which knowledge she valued highly and meant to improve in Canada.
Roberta professed to be a Christian, and was a member of the Bethel Methodist Church. Her servitude, until within four years of her escape, had been passed in Virginia, under Mrs. McCoy’s father, when to accommodate the daughter she was transferred to Baltimore. Of her parentage or relatives no note was made on the book. It was sad to see such persons destitute and homeless, compelled to seek refuge among strangers, not daring to ask the slightest favor, sympathy or prayer to aid her, Christian as she was, from any Christian of Baltimore, wearing a fair skin.
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ARRIVAL FROM HIGHTSTOWN, 1858.
ROBERT THOMPSON (A PREACHER).
Slavery exempted from the yoke no man with a colored skin no matter what his faith, talent, genius, or worth might be. The person of Christ in a black skin would scarcely have caused it to relinquish its tyrannical grasp; neither God nor man was regarded by men who dealt in the bodies and souls of their fellow-men. Robert stated to the Committee that he fled from “John R. Laten, a very harsh kind of a farmer, who drank right smart,” that on the morning he “took out,” while innocent of having committed any crime, suddenly in a desperate fit of passion, his master took him “by the collar,” at the same time calling loudly to “John” for “ropes.” This alarming assault on the part of his master made the preacher feel as though his Satanic majesty had possession of him. In such a crisis he evidently felt that preaching would do no good; he was, however, constrained to make an effort. To use his own words, he said: “I gave a sudden jerk and started off on a trot, leaving my master calling, ‘stop! stop!’ but I kept on running, and was soon out of sight.”
The more he thought over the brutal conduct of his master the more decided he became never to serve him more, and straightway he resolved to try to reach Canada. Being in the prime of his life (thirty-nine years of age) and having the essential qualifications for traveling over the Underground Rail Road, he was just the man to endure the trials consequent upon such an undertaking.