* * * * *
James Hambleton Christian is a remarkable specimen of the “well fed, &c.” In talking with him relative to his life as a slave, he said very promptly, “I have always been treated well; if I only have half as good times in the North as I have had in the South, I shall be perfectly satisfied. Any time I desired spending money, five or ten dollars were no object.” At times, James had borrowed of his master, one, two, and three hundred dollars, to loan out to some of his friends. With regard to apparel and jewelry, he had worn the best, as an every-day adornment. With regard to food also, he had fared as well as heart could wish, with abundance of leisure time at his command. His deportment was certainly very refined and gentlemanly. About fifty per cent. of Anglo-Saxon blood was visible in his features and his hair, which gave him no inconsiderable claim to sympathy and care. He had been to William and Mary’s College in his younger days, to wait on young master James B.C., where, through the kindness of some of the students he had picked up a trifling amount of book learning. To be brief, this man was born the slave of old Major Christian, on the Glen Plantation, Charles City county, Va. The Christians were wealthy and owned many slaves, and belonged in reality to the F.F.V’s. On the death of the old Major, James fell into the hands of his son, Judge Christian, who was executor to his father’s estate. Subsequently he fell into the hands of one of the Judge’s sisters, Mrs. John Tyler (wife of Ex-President Tyler), and then he became a member of the President’s domestic household, was at the White House, under the President, from 1841 to 1845. Though but very young at that time, James was only fit for training in the arts, science, and mystery of waiting, in which profession, much pains were taken to qualify him completely for his calling.
After a lapse of time; his mistress died. According to her request, after this event, James and his old mother were handed over to her nephew, William H. Christian, Esq., a merchant of Richmond. From this gentleman, James had the folly to flee.
Passing hurriedly over interesting details, received from him respecting his remarkable history, two or three more incidents too good to omit must suffice.
“How did you like Mr. Tyler?” said an inquisitive member of the Vigilance Committee. “I didn’t like Mr. Tyler much,” was the reply. “Why?” again inquired the member of the Committee. “Because Mr. Tyler was a poor man. I never did like poor people. I didn’t like his marrying into our family, who were considered very far Tyler’s superiors.” “On the plantation,” he said, “Tyler was a very cross man, and treated the servants very cruelly; but the house servants were treated much better, owing to their having belonged to his wife, who protected them from persecution, as they had been favorite servants in her father’s family.” James estimated that “Tyler got about thirty-five thousand dollars and twenty-nine slaves, young and old, by his wife.”