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FACTS, AUTHENTIC NARRATIVE, LETTERS, &C.,
Narrating the Hardships, Hair-breadth Escapes and Death Struggles
Slaves in their efforts of Freedom,
BY THEMSELVES AND OTHERS, OR WITNESSED BY THE AUTHOR;
SKETCHES OF SOME OF THE LARGEST STOCKHOLDERS, AND
MOST LIBERAL AIDERS AND ADVISERS,
OF THE ROAD.
For many years connected with the Anti-Slavery Office in Philidelphia, and Chairman,
of the Acting Vigilent Committee of the Philadelphia Branch of
the Underground Rail Road.
Illustrated with 70 fine Engravings by Bensell, Schell and others, and
Portraits from Photographs from Life.
Thou shall not deliver unto his master the servant that has escaped from his master unto thee.—Deut. xxiii. 16.
SOLD ONLY BY SUBSCRIPTION.
PORTER & COATES,
822, CHESTNUT STREET.
Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1871, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
W. Still W. Still
PREFACE TO REVISED EDITION.
* * * * *
Like millions of my race, my mother and father were born slaves, but were not contented to live and die so. My father purchased himself in early manhood by hard toil. Mother saw no way for herself and children to escape the horrors of bondage but by flight. Bravely, with her four little ones, with firm faith in God and an ardent desire to be free, she forsook the prison-house, and succeeded, through the aid of my father, to reach a free State. Here life had to be begun anew. The old familiar slave names had to be changed, and others, for prudential reasons, had to be found. This was not hard work. However, hardly months had passed ere the keen scent of the slave-hunters had trailed them to where they had fancied themselves secure. In those days all power was in the hands of the oppressor, and the capture of a slave mother and her children was attended with no great difficulty other than the crushing of freedom in the breast of the victims. Without judge or jury, all were hurried back to wear the yoke again. But back this mother was resolved never to stay. She only wanted another opportunity to again strike for freedom. In a few months after being carried back, with only two of her little ones, she took her heart in her hand and her babes in her arms, and this trial was a success. Freedom was gained, although not without the sad loss of her two older children, whom she had to leave behind. Mother and father were again reunited in freedom, while two of their little boys were in slavery. What to do for them other than weep and pray, were questions unanswerable. For over forty years the mother's heart never knew what it was to be free from anxiety about her lost boys. But no tidings came in answer to her many prayers, until one of them, to the great astonishment of his relatives, turned up in Philadelphia, nearly fifty years of age, seeking his long-lost parents. Being directed to the Anti-Slavery Office for instructions as to the best plan to adopt to find out the whereabouts of his parents, fortunately he fell into the hands of his own brother, the writer, whom he had never heard of before, much less seen or known. And here began revelations connected with this marvellous coincidence, which influenced me, for years previous to Emancipation, to preserve the matter found in the pages of this humble volume.
And in looking back now over these strange and eventful Providences, in the light of the wonderful changes wrought by Emancipation, I am more and more constrained to believe that the reasons, which years ago led me to aid the bondman and preserve the records of his sufferings, are to-day quite as potent in convincing me that the necessity of the times requires this testimony.
And since the first advent of my book, wherever reviewed or read by leading friends of freedom, the press, or the race more deeply represented by it, the expressions of approval and encouragement have been hearty and unanimous, and the thousands of volumes which have been sold by me, on the subscription plan, with hardly any facilities for the work, makes it obvious that it would, in the hands of a competent publisher, have a wide circulation.
And here I may frankly state, that but for the hope I have always cherished that this work would encourage the race in efforts for self-elevation, its publication never would have been undertaken by me.
I believe no more strongly at this moment than I have believed ever since the Proclamation of Emancipation was made by Abraham Lincoln, that as a class, in this country, no small exertion will have to be put forth before the blessings of freedom and knowledge can be fairly enjoyed by this people; and until colored men manage by dint of hard acquisition to enter the ranks of skilled industry, very little substantial respect will be shown them, even with the ballot-box and musket in their hands.
Well-conducted shops and stores; lands acquired and good farms managed in a manner to compete with any other; valuable books produced and published on interesting and important subjects—these are some of the fruits which the race are expected to exhibit from their newly gained privileges.
If it is asked "how?" I answer, "through extraordinary determination and endeavor," such as are demonstrated in hundreds of cases in the pages of this book, in the struggles of men and women to obtain their freedom, education and property.
These facts must never be lost sight of.
The race must not forget the rock from whence they were hewn, nor the pit from whence, they were digged.
Like other races, this newly emancipated people will need all the knowledge of their past condition which they can get.
The bondage and deliverance of the children of Israel will never be allowed to sink into oblivion while the world stands.
Those scenes of suffering and martyrdom millions of Christians were called upon to pass through in the days of the Inquisition are still subjects of study, and have unabated interest for all enlightened minds.
The same is true of the history of this country. The struggles of the pioneer fathers are preserved, produced and re-produced, and cherished with undying interest by all Americans, and the day will not arrive while the Republic exists, when these histories will not be found in every library.
While the grand little army of abolitionists was waging its untiring warfare for freedom, prior to the rebellion, no agency encouraged them like the heroism of fugitives. The pulse of the four millions of slaves and their desire for freedom, were better felt through "The Underground Railroad," than through any other channel.
Frederick Douglass, Henry Bibb, Wm. Wells Brown, Rev. J.W. Logan, and others, gave unmistakable evidence that the race had no more eloquent advocates than its own self-emancipated champions.
Every step they took to rid themselves of their fetters, or to gain education, or in pleading the cause of their fellow-bondmen in the lecture-room, or with their pens, met with applause on every hand, and the very argument needed was thus furnished in large measure. In those dark days previous to emancipation, such testimony was indispensable.
The free colored men are as imperatively required now to furnish the same manly testimony in support of the ability of the race to surmount the remaining obstacles growing out of oppression, ignorance, and poverty.
In the political struggles, the hopes of the race have been sadly disappointed. From this direction no great advantage is likely to arise very soon.
Only as desert can be proved by the acquisition of knowledge and the exhibition of high moral character, in examples of economy and a disposition to encourage industrial enterprises, conducted by men of their own ranks, will it be possible to make political progress in the face of the present public sentiment.
Here, therefore, in my judgment is the best possible reason for vigorously pushing the circulation of this humble volume—that it may testify for thousands and tens of thousands, as no other work can do.
WILLIAM STILL, Author.
September, 1878. Philadelphia, Pa.
PETER STILL—"THE KIDNAPPED AND THE RANSOMED"
CHARITY STILL TWICE ESCAPED FROM SLAVERY
DESPERATE CONFLICT IN A BARN
DEATH OF ROMULUS HALL
RESURRECTION OF HENRY BOX BROWN
RESCUE OF JANE JOHNSON AND HER CHILDREN
ESCAPING FROM PORTSMOUTH, VA
TWENTY-EIGHT FUGITIVES ESCAPING FROM EASTERN SHORE OF MARYLAND
ESCAPING FROM ALABAMA ON TOP OF A CAR
THE RIVER ON HORSEBACK IN THE NIGHT
A BOLD STROKE FOR FREEDOM—CONTEST WITH FIRE-ARMS
THE MAYOR AND POLICE OF NORFOLK SEARCHING CAPTAIN FOUNTAIN'S SCHOONER
MARIA WEEMS ESCAPING AS JO WRIGHT
JOHN HENRY HILL
DRY-GOODS MERCHANT SEARCHING THE CARS
ESCAPE WITH A LADY, AS HER COACHMAN, WITH MASTER'S HORSE AND CARRIAGE
SIX ON TWO HORSES
UP A TREE
SAMUEL GREEN SENTENCED TO THE PENITENTIARY FOR TEN YEARS FOR HAVING A COPY OF "UNCLE TOM'S CABIN" IN HIS HOUSE
LEAR GREEN ESCAPING IN A CHEST
ESCAPE OF ELEVEN PASSENGERS FROM MARYLAND IN TWO CARRIAGES
THE CHRISTIANA TRAGEDY
WILLIAM AND ELLEN CRAFT
MEMBERS OF THE ACTING COMMITTEE: N.W. DEPEE JACOB C. WHITE CHARLES WISE EDWIN H. COATES
KNIFING HIS VICTIM
LIVING IN A HOLLOW TREE
IN A CAVE
A NARROW ESCAPE
SUSPENDED BY THE HANDS WITH BLOCK AND TACKLE
CROSSING THE BAY
BREAKING HIM IN
MOTHER ESCAPING WITH SEVEN CHILDREN
FIGHT IN CHESAPEAKE BAY
JOHN W. DUNGEE
MARY MILBURN (SECRETED IN A BOX)
HEAVY WEIGHTS—ARRIVAL OF A PARTY AT LEAGUE ISLAND
SKETCHES AND PORTRAITS OF STATION-MASTERS, PROMINENT ANTI-SLAVERY MEN, AND SUPPORTERS OF THE U.G.R.R.: ABIGAIL GOODWIN THOMAS GARRETT DANIEL GIBBONS LUCRETIA MOTT J. MILLER M'KIM WILLIAM H. FURNESS WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON LEWIS TAPPAN ELIJAH F. PENNYPACKER WILLIAM WRIGHT DR. BARTHOLOMEW FUSSELL ROBERT PURVIS JOHN HUNN SAMUEL RHOADS WILLIAM WHIPPER SAMUEL D. BURRIS CHARLES D. CLEVELAND GRACE ANNA LEWIS MRS. FRANCES E.W. HARPER JOHN NEEDLES