John Hunn and Thomas Garrett were too well known as Abolitionists to undertake this mission. A friend indeed, was desirable, but none other would do than such an one as would not be suspected. Mr. McKim thought that a man who might be taken for a negro trader would be the right kind of a man to send on this errand. Garrett and Hunn being consulted heartily acquiesced in this plan, and after much reflection and inquiry, Isaac S. Flint, an uncompromising abolitionist, living in Wilmington, Delaware, was elected to buy Burris at the sale, providing that he was not run up to a figure exceeding the amount in hand.
Flint’s abhorrence of Slavery combined with his fearlessness, cool bearing, and perfect knowledge from what he had read of the usages of traders at slave sales, without question admirably fitted him to play the part of a trader for the time being.
When the hour arrived, the doomed man was placed on the auction-block. Two traders from Baltimore were known to be present; how many others the friends of Burris knew not. The usual opportunity was given to traders and speculators to thoroughly examine the property on the block, and most skillfully was Burris examined from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head; legs, arms and body, being handled as horse-jockies treat horses. Flint watched the ways of the traders and followed for effect their example. The auctioneer began and soon had a bid of five hundred dollars. A Baltimore trader was now in the lead, when Flint, if we mistake not, bought off the trader for one hundred dollars. The bids were thus suddenly checked, and Burris was knocked down to Isaac S. Flint (a strange trader). Of course he had left his abolition name at home and had adopted one suited to the occasion. When the crier’s hammer indicated the last bid, although Burris had borne up heroically throughout the trying ordeal, he was not by any means aware of the fact that he had fallen into the hands of friends, but, on the contrary, evidently labored under the impression that his freedom was gone. But a few moments were allowed to pass ere Flint had the bill of sale for his property, and the joyful news was whispered in the ear of Burris that all was right; that he had been bought with abolition gold to save him from going south. Once more Burris found himself in Philadelphia with his wife and children and friends, a stronger opponent than ever of Slavery. Having thus escaped by the skin of his teeth, he never again ventured South.
After remaining a year or two in Philadelphia, about the year 1852 he went to California to seek more lucrative employment than he had hitherto found. Becoming somewhat satisfactorily situated he sent for his family, who joined him. In the meanwhile, his interest in the cause of freedom did not falter; he always kept posted on the subject of the Underground Rail Road and Anti-slavery questions; and after the war, when appeals were made on behalf of contrabands who flocked into Washington daily in a state of utter destitution, Burris was among the first to present the matter to the colored churches of San Francisco, with a view of raising means to aid in this good work, and as the result, a handsome collection was taken up and forwarded to the proper committee in Washington.