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 not accustomed to shed tears when a poor creature escaped ftom his “kind master;” nor was he willing to turn a deaf ear to his appeals and groans, when he knew he was thirsting for freedom.  From 1828 up to the day he was incarcerated, many had sought his aid and counsel, nor had they sought in vain.  In various places he operated with success.  In Richmond, however, it seemed expedient to invent a new plan for certain emergencies, hence the Box and Express plan was devised, at the instance of a few heroic slaves, who had manifested their willingness to die in a box, on the road to liberty, rather than continue longer under the yoke.  But these heroes fell into the power of their enemies.  Mr. Smith had not been long in the Penitentiary before he had fully gained the esteem and confidence of the Superintendent and other officers.  Finding him to be humane and generous-hearted—­showing kindness toward all, especially in buying bread, &c., for the starving prisoners, and by a timely note of warning, which had saved the life of one of the keepers, for whose destruction a bold plot had been arranged—­the officers felt disposed to show him such favors as the law would allow.  But their good intentions were soon frustrated.  The Inquisition (commonly called the Legislature), being in session in Richmond, hearing that the Superintendent had been speaking well of Smith, and circulating a petition for his pardon, indignantly demanded to know if the rumor was well founded.  Two weeks were spent by the Inquisition, and many witnesses were placed upon oath, to solemnly testify in the matter.  One of the keepers swore that his life had been saved by Smith.  Col.  Morgan, the Superintendent, frequently testified in writing and verbally to Smith’s good deportment; acknowledging that he had circulated petitions, &c.; and took the position, that he sincerely believed, that it would be to the interest of the institution to pardon him; calling the attention of the Inquisition, at the same time, to the fact, that not unfrequently pardons had been granted to criminals, under sentence of death, for the most cold-blooded murder, to say nothing of other gross crimes.  The effort for pardon was soon abandoned, for the following reason given by the Governor:  “I can’t, and I won’t pardon him!”
In view of the unparalleled injustice which Mr. S. had suffered, as well as on account of the aid he had rendered to the slaves, on his arrival in this city the colored citizens of Philadelphia felt that he was entitled to sympathy and aid, and straightway invited him to remain a few days, until arrangements could be made for a mass meeting to receive him.  Accordingly, on last Monday evening, a mass meeting convened in the Israel church, and the Rev. Wm. T. Catto was called to the chair, and Wm. Still was appointed secretary.  The chairman briefly stated the object of the meeting.  Having lived in the South, he claimed to know something of the workings of the oppressive system of slavery
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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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