Nancy’s sorrows first commenced in Alabama. Five years previous to her escape she was brought from a cotton plantation in Alabama, where she had been accustomed to toil in the cotton-field. In comparing and contrasting the usages of slave-holders in the two States in which she had served, she said she had “seen more flogging under old Christian” than she had been accustomed to see in Alabama; yet she concluded, that she could hardly tell which State was the worst; her cup had been full and very bitter in both States.
Nancy said, “the very day before I escaped, I was required to go to his (her master’s) bed-chamber to keep the flies off of him as he lay sick, or pretended to be so. Notwithstanding, in talking with me, he said that he was coming to my pallet that night, and with an oath he declared if I made a noise he would cut my throat. I told him I would not be there. Accordingly he did go to my room, but I had gone for shelter to another room. At this his wrath waxed terrible. Next morning I was called to account for getting out of his way, and I was beaten awfully.” This outrage moved Nancy to a death-struggle for her freedom, and she succeeded by dressing herself in male attire.
After her harrowing story was told with so much earnestness and intelligence, she was asked as to the treatment she had received at the hand of Mrs. Christian (her mistress). In relation to her, Nancy said, “Mrs. Christian was afraid of him (master); if it hadn’t been for that I think she would have been clever; but I was often threatened by her, and once she undertook to beat me, but I could not stand it. I had to resist, and she got the worst of it that time.”
All that may now be added, is, that the number of young slave girls shamefully exposed to the base lusts of their masters, as Nancy was—truly was legion. Nancy was but one of the number who resisted influences apparently overpowering. All honor is due her name and memory!
She was brought away secreted on a boat, but the record is silent as to which one of the two or three Underground Rail Road captains (who at that time occasionally brought passengers), helped her to escape. It was hard to be definite concerning minor matters while absorbed in the painful reflections that her tale of suffering had naturally awakened. If one had arisen from the dead the horrors of Slavery could scarcely have been more vividly pictured! But in the multitude of travelers coming under the notice of the Committee, Nancy’s story was soon forgotten, and new and marvellous narratives were told of others who had shared the same bitter cup, who had escaped from the same hell of Slavery, who had panted for the same freedom and won the same prize.
ARRIVAL FROM RICHMOND, 1858.
ORLANDO J. HUNT.