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William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,197 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.

Of this party, Edward, a boy of seventeen, called forth much sympathy; he too was claimed by Hollan.  He was of a good physical make-up, and seemed to value highly the great end he had in view, namely, a residence in Canada.

* * * * *

ARRIVAL FROM MARYLAND, 1858.

JOHN WESLEY COMBASH, JACOB TAYLOR, AND THOMAS EDWARD SKINNER.

The revelations made by these passengers were painful to listen to, and would not have been credited if any room had existed for doubt.

John Wesley was thirty-two years of age, of a lively turn, pleasant countenance, dark color, and ordinary size.  In unburdening his mind to the Committee the all-absorbing theme related to the manner in which he had been treated as a slave, and the character of those who had oppressed him.  He stated that he had been the victim of a man or party, named Johnson, in whose family John had been a witness to some of the most high-handed phases of barbarism; said he, “these Johnsons were notorious for abusing their servants.  A few years back one of their slaves, a coachman, was kept on the coach box one cold night when they were out at a ball until he became almost frozen to death, in fact he did die in the infirmary from the effects of the frost about one week afterwards.”

“Another case was that of a slave woman in a very delicate state, who was one day knocked down stairs by Mrs. Johnson herself, and in a few weeks after, the poor woman died from the effects of the injury thus received.  The doctor who attended the injured creature in this case was simply told that she slipped and fell down stairs as she was coming down.  Colored witnesses had no right to testify, and the doctor was mute, consequently the guilty escaped wholly unpunished.”  “Another case,” said John Wesley, “was a little girl, half-grown, who was washing windows up stairs one day, and unluckily fell asleep in the window, and in this position was found by her mistress; in a rage the mistress hit her a heavy slap, knocked her out of the window, and she fell to the pavement, and died in a few hours from the effects thereof.  The mistress professed to know nothing about it, simply said, ’she went to sleep and fell out herself.’  As usual nothing was done in the way of punishment.”

These were specimens of the inner workings of the peculiar institution.  John, however, had not only observed Slavery from a domestic stand-point, he had also watched master and mistress abroad as visitors and guests in other people’s houses, noticed not only how they treated white people, but also how they treated black people.  “These Johnsons thought that they were first-rate to their servants.  When visiting among their friends they were usually very polite, would bow and scrape more than a little, even to colored people, knowing that their names were in bad odor, on account of their cruelty, for they had been in the papers twice about how they abused their colored people.”

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