“My sister about the first of this month, three weeks after her confinement, had word sent to her by her mistress, Mrs. Tunis, that she thought it was time for her to come out and go to work, as she had been laying by long enough.” In reply to this message, William said that “his sister sent word to her mistress, that she was not well enough, and begged that her mistress would please send her some tea and sugar, until she got well enough to go to work. The mistress’ answer was to the effect that she did not intend to give her anything until she went to work, and at the same time she sent word to her, that she had better take her baby down to the back of the garden and throw it away, adding ‘I will sell her, etc.’”
It was owing to the cruelty of Mrs. Tunis that William was moved to flee. According to his statement, which looked reasonable and appeared truthful, he had been willed free by his master, who died at the time that the plague was raging in Norfolk. At the same time his mistress also had the fever, and was dreadfully frightened, but recovered. Not long after this event it was William’s belief that the will was made away with through the agency of a lawyer, and in consequence thereof the slaves were retained in bondage.
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Henry fled from Baltimore county; disagreement between him and his so-called master was the cause of his flight. Elias Sneveley, a farmer, known on the Arabella Creek Place as a “hard swearer,” an “old bachelor,” and a common tormentor of all around him, was the name of the man that Harry said he fled from. Not willing to be run over at the pleasure of Sneveley, on two occasions just before his escape serious encounters had arisen between master and slave.
Henry being spirited and hungering for freedom, while his master was old and hardened in his habits, very grave results had well nigh happened; it was evident, therefore, in Harry’s opinion that the sooner he took his departure for Canada the better. His father’s example was ever present to encourage him, for he had escaped when Henry was a little boy; (his name was Benjamin Tucker). A still greater incentive, however, moved him, which was that his mother had been sold South five years prior to his escape, since which time he had heard of her but once, and that vaguely.
Although education was denied him, Henry had too much natural ability to content himself under the heel of Slavery. He saw and understood the extent of the wrongs under which he suffered, and resolved not to abide in such a condition, if, by struggling and perseverance, he could avoid it. In his resolute attempt he succeeded without any very severe suffering. He was not large, rather below the ordinary size, of a brown color, and very plucky.
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