The Underground Railroad eBook

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

This document printed as a large poster, about three feet square, and displayed in large numbers over the city, attracted much attention and comment, which facts were quickly conveyed to Miss Wilson, at her boarding-house.  At first, as it was understood, she was greatly shocked to find herself in everybody’s mouth.  She unhesitatingly took her baggage and started for “My Maryland.”  Thus ended one of the most pleasant interviews that ever took place between a slave-hunter and the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia.

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This “chattel” from Richmond, Virginia, was of a yellow complexion, with some knowledge of the arts of reading and writing; he was about twenty-three years of age and considered himself in great danger of being subjected to the auction-block by one Charles L. Hobson.  Hobson and Henry had grown up from boyhood together; for years they had even occupied the same room,—­Henry as a servant-boy and protector of his prospective young master.  Under these relations quite strong affinities were cemented between them, and Henry succeeded in gaining a knowledge of the alphabet with an occasional lesson in spelling.  Both reached their majority.  William was hired out at the American Hotel, and being a “smart, likely-looking boy,” commanded good wages for his young master’s benefit, who had commenced business as a tobacco merchant, with about seven head of slaves in his possession.  A year or two’s experiment proved that the young master was not succeeding as a merchant, and before the expiration of three years he had sold all his slaves except Henry.  From such indications, Henry was fully persuaded that his time was well nigh at hand, and great was his anxiety as he meditated over the auction-block.  “In his heart” he resolved time and again that he would never be sold.  It behooved him, therefore, to avert that ill fate.  He at first resolved to buy himself, but in counting the cost he found that he would by no means be able to accumulate as much money as his master would be likely to demand for him; he, therefore, abandoned this idea and turned his attention straightway to the Underground Rail Road, by which route he had often heard of slaves escaping.  He felt the need of money and that he must make and save an extra quarter whenever he could; he soon learned to be a very rigid economist, and being exceedingly accommodating in waiting upon gentlemen at the hotel and at the springs, he found his little “pile” increasing weekly.  His object was to have enough to pay for a private berth on one of the Richmond steamers and also to have a little left to fall back on after landing in a strange land and among strangers.  He saved about two hundred dollars in cash; he was then ready to make a forward move, and he arranged all his plans with an agent in Richmond to leave by one of the steamers during the Christmas holidays.  “You must come down to the steamer about dark,” said the agent “and if all is right you will see the Underground Rail Road agent come out with some ashes as a signal, and by this you may know that all is ready.”

Project Gutenberg
The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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