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 their mistress John said that she was a “pretty easy kind of a woman, only she didn’t want to allow enough to eat, and wouldn’t mend any clothes for us.”

Isaac was twenty-two, quite black, and belonged to the “rising” young slaves of Delaware.  He stated that he had been owned by a “blacksmith, a very hard man, by the name of Thomas Carper.”  Isaac was disgusted with his master’s ignorance, and criticised him, in his crude way, to a considerable extent.  Isaac had learned blacksmithing under Carper.  Both master and mistress were Methodists.  Isaac said that he “could not recommend his mistress, as she was given to bad practices,” so much so that he could hardly endure her.  He also charged the blacksmith with being addicted to bad habits.  Sometimes Isaac would be called upon to receive correction from his master, which would generally be dealt out with a “chunk of wood” over his “no feeling” head.  On a late occasion, when Isaac was being chunked beyond measure, he resisted, but the persistent blacksmith did not yield until he had so far disabled Isaac that he was rendered helpless for the next two weeks.  While in this state he pledged himself to freedom and Canada, and resolved to win the prize by crossing the Bay.

While these young passengers possessed brains and bravery of a rare order, at the same time they brought with them an unusual amount of the soil of Delaware; their persons and old worn-out clothing being full of it.  Their appearance called loudly for immediate cleansing.  A room—­free water—­free soap, and such other assistance as was necessary was tendered them in order to render the work as thorough as possible.  This healthy process over, clean and comfortable clothing were furnished, and the change in their appearance was so marked, that they might have passed as strangers, if not in the immediate corn-fields of their masters, certainly among many of their old acquaintances, unless subjected to the most careful inspection.  Raised in the country and on farms, their masters and mistresses had never dreamed of encouraging them to conform to habits of cleanliness; washing their persons and changing their garments were not common occurrences.  The coarse garment once on would be clung to without change as long as it would hold together.  The filthy cabins allotted for their habitations were in themselves incentives to personal uncleanliness.  In some districts this was more apparent than in others.  From some portions of Maryland and Delaware, in particular, passengers brought lamentable evidence of a want of knowledge and improvement in this direction.  But the master, not the slave, was blameworthy.  The master, as has been intimated, found but one suit for working (and sometimes none for Sunday), consequently if Tom was set to ditching one day and became muddy and dirty, and the next day he was required to haul manure, his ditching suit had to be used, and if the next day he was called into the harvest-field, he was

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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