The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,446 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.


He was owned by S.J.  Wilson, a merchant, living in Portsmouth, Va.  Willis was of a very dark hue, thick set, thirty-two years of age, and possessed of a fair share of mind.  The owner had been accustomed to hire Willis out for “one hundred dollars a year.”  Willis thought his lot “pretty hard,” and his master rather increased this notion by his severity, and especially by “threatening” to sell him.  He had enjoyed, as far as it was expected for a slave to do, “five months of married life,” but he loved slavery no less on this account.  In fact he had just begun to consider what it was to have a wife and children that he “could not own or protect,” and who were claimed as another’s property.  Consequently he became quite restive under these reflections and his master’s ill-usage, and concluded to “look out,” without consulting either the master or the young wife.

This step looked exceedingly hard, but what else could the poor fellow do?  Slavery existed expressly for the purpose of crushing souls and breaking tender hearts.

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William might be described as a good-looking mulatto, thirty-one years of age, and capable of thinking for himself.  He made no grave complaints of ill-usage under his master, “Joseph Reynolds,” who lived at Newton, Portsmouth, Va.  However, his owner had occasionally “threatened to sell him.”  As this was too much for William’s sensitive feelings, he took umbrage at it and made a hasty and hazardous move, which resulted in finding himself on the U.G.R.R.  The most serious regret William had to report to the Committee was, that he was compelled to “leave” his “wife,” Catharine, and his little daughter, Louisa, two years and one month, and an infant son seven months old.  He evidently loved them very tenderly, but saw no way by which he could aid them, as long as he was daily liable to be put on the auction block and sold far South.  This argument was regarded by the Committee as logical and unanswerable; consequently they readily endorsed his course, while they deeply sympathized with his poor wife and little ones.  “Before escaping,” he “dared not” even apprise his wife and child, whom he had to leave behind in the prison house.

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In November, 1853, in the twentieth year of his age, Camp was held to “service or labor” in the City of Richmond, Va., by Dr. K. Clark.  Being uncommonly smart and quite good-looking at the same time, he was a saleable piece of merchandise.  Without consulting his view of the matter or making the least intimation of any change, the master one day struck up a bargain with a trader for Joseph,

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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