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History & Genealogy


(Previously Published in 1879 with title: The Underground Railroad)
For many years connected with the Anti-Slavery Office in Philadelphia, and Chairman of the Acting
Vigilant 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 shalt not deliver unto his master the servant that has escaped from his master unto thee. - Deut. xxiii 16.



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and communicate to him has affectionate regards, and make known to him that he is safe, and cheerful and happy.  He desires his friends to know, through Dade, that he found Mrs. Starke here, his brother Alfred's wife's sister; that she is well, and living in St. Catharine, C. W., near Niagara Falls.


     Although the name of Henry Box Brown has been echoed over the land for a number of years, and the simple facts connected with his marvelous escape from slavery in a box published widely through the medium of anti-slavery papers, nevertheless it is not unreasonable to suppose that very little is generally known in the relation to this case.
     Briefly, the facts are these, which doubtless have never before been fully published -
     Brown was a man of invention as well as a hero.  In point of interest, however, his case is no more remarkable than many others.  Indeed, neither before nor after escaping did he suffer one-half what many others  have experienced.
     He was decidedly an unhappy piece of property in the city of Richmond, Va.  In the condition of a slave he felt that it would be impossible for him to remain.  Full well did he know, however, that it was no holiday task to escape the vigilance of Virginia slave-hunters, or the wrath of an enraged master for committing the unpardonable sin of attempting to escape to a land of liberty.  So Brown counted well the cost before venturing upon this hazardous undertaking.  Ordinary modes of travel he concluded might prove disastrous to  his hopes; he, therefore, hit upon a new invention altogether, which was to have himself boxed up and forwarded to Philadelphia direct by express.  The size of the box and how it was to be made to fit him most comfortably, was of his own ordering.  Two feet eight inches deep, two feet wide, and three feet long were the exact dimensions of the box, lined with baize.  His resources with regard to food and water consisted of the following:  One bladder of water and a few small biscuits.  His mechanical implement to meet the death-struggle for fresh air, all told, was one large gimlet.  Satisfied that it would be far better to peril his life for freedom in this way than to remain under the galling yoke of Slavery, he entered his box, which was safely nailed up and hoped with five hickory hoops, and was then addressed by his next friend, James A. Smith, a shoe dealer, to Wm. H. Johnson, Arch street, Philadelphia, marked, "This side up with care."  In this condition he was sent to Adams' Express office in a dray, and thence by overland express to Philadelphia.  It was twenty-six hours from the time he left Richmond until his arrival in the City of Brotherly Love.  The notice, "This side up, &c.," did not avail

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with the different expressman, who hesitated not to handle the box in the usual rough manner common to this class of men.  For a while they actually had the box upside down, and had him on his head for miles.  A few days before he was expected, certain intimation was conveyed to a member of the Vigilance Committee that a box might be expected by the three o'clock morning train from the South, which might contain a man.  One of the most serious walks he ever took - and they had not been a few - to meet and accompany passengers, he took at half past two o'clock that morning to the depot.  Not once, bur for more than a score of times, he fancied  the slave would be dead.  He anxiously looked while the freight was being unloaded from the cars, to see if he could recognize a box that might contain a man; one alone had that appearance, and he confessed it really seemed as if there was a scent of death about it.  But on inquiry, he soon learned that it was not the one he was looking after, and he was free to say he experienced a marked sense of relief.  That same afternoon, however, he received from Richmond a telegram, which read thus, "Your case of goods is shipped and will arrive to-morrow morning."
     But all apprehension of danger did not now disappear, for there was no room to suppose that Adams' Express office had any sympathy with this Abolitionist or the fugitive, consequently for Mr. McKim to appear personally at the express office to give directions with reference to the coming of a box from Richmond which would be directed to Arch street, and yet not intended for that street, but for the Anti-slavery office at 107 North Fifth street, it needed of course no great discernment to foresee that a step of this kind was wholly impracticable and that a more indirect and convert method would have to be adopted.  In this dreadful crisis Mr. McKim, with his usual good judgment and remarkably quick, strategical mind, especially in matters pertaining to the U. G. R. R., hit upon the following plan, namely, to go to his friend, E. M. Davis, who was then extensively engaged in mercantile business, and relate the circumstances.  Having daily intercourse with said Adams' Express office, and being well acquainted with the firm and some of the drivers, Mr. Davis could, as Mr. McKim thought, talk about "boxes, freight, etc.," from any part of the country without risk.  Mr. Daily heard Mr. McKim's plan and instantly approved of it, and was heartily at his service.

* E. M. Davis was a member of the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and a long-tried Abolitionist, son-in-law of James and Lucretia Mott.


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     "Dan, an Irishman, one of Adams' Express drivers, is just the fellow to go to the depot after the box," said Davis.  "He drinks a little too much whiskey sometimes, but he will do anything I ask him to do, promptly and obligingly.  I'll trust Dan, for I believe he is the very man."  The difficulty which Mr. McKim had been so anxious to overcome was thus pretty well settled.   It was agreed that Dan should go after the box next morning before daylight and bring it to the Anti-slavery office direct, and to make it all the more agreeable for Dan to get up out of his warm bed and go on this errand before day, it was decided that he should have a five dollar gold piece for himself.  Thus these preliminaries having been satisfactorily arranged it only remained for Mr. Davis to see Dan and give him instructions accordingly, etc.
     Next morning, according to arrangement, the box was at the Anti-Slavery office in due time.  The witnesses present to behold the resurrection were J. M. McKim, Professor C. D. Cleveland, Lewis Thompson, and the writer.
     Mr. McKim was deeply interested; but having been long identified with the Anti-Slavery cause as one of its oldest and ablest advocates in the darkest days of slavery and mobs, and always found by the side of the fugitive to counsel and succor, he was on this occasion perfectly composed.
     Professor Cleveland, however, was greatly moved.  His zeal and earnestness in the cause of freedom, especially in rendering aid to passengers, knew no limit.  Ordinarily he could not too often visit these travelers, shake them too warmly by the hand, or impart to them to freely of his substance to aid them on their journey.  But now is emotion was overpowering.
     Mr. Thompson, of the firm of Merrihew & Thompson - about the only printers in the city who for many years dared to print such incendiary documents as anti-slavery papers and pamphlets - one of the truest friends of the slave, was composed and prepared to witness the scene.
     All was quiet.  The door had been safely locked.  the proceedings commenced.  Mr. McKim rapped quietly on the lid of the box and called out, "All right~"  Instantly came the answer from within, "All right, sir!"
     The witnesses will never forget that moment.  Saw and hatchet quickly had the five hickory hoops cut and the lid off, and the marvellous resurrection of Brown ensued.  Rising up in his box, he reached out his hand, saying," How do you do, gentlemen?"  The little assemblage hardly knew what to think or do at the moment.  He was about as wet as if he had come up out of the Delaware.  Very soon he remarked that, before leaving Richmond he had selected for his arrival-hymn (if he lived) the Psalm beginning with these words: "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He heard my prayer."  And most touchingly did he sing the psalm, much to his own relief, as well as to the delight of his small audience.

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     He was then christened Henry Box Brown, and soon afterwards was sent to the hospitable residence of James Mott and E. M. Davis, on Ninth street, where, it is needless to say, he met a most cordial reception from Mrs. Lucretia Mott and her husband.  Clothing and creature comforts were furnished in abundance, and delight and joy filled all hearts in that stronghold of philanthropy.
     As he had been so long doubled up in the box he needed to promenade considerably in the fresh air, so James Mott put one of his broad-brim hats on his head and tendered him the hospitalities of his yard as well as his house, and while Brown promenaded the years flushed with victory, great was the joy of his friends.
     After his visit at Mr. Mott's, he spent two days with the writer, and then took his departure for Boston, evidently feeling quite conscious of the wonderful feat he had performed, and at the same time it may be safely said that those who witnessed this strange resurrection were not only elated at his success, but were made to sympathize more deeply than ever before with the slave.  Also the noble-hearted Smith who boxed him up was made to rejoice over Brown's victory, and was thereby encouraged to render similar service to two other young bondmen, who appealed to him for deliverance.  But, unfortunately, in this attempt the undertaking proved a failure.  Two boxes containing the young men alluded to above, after having been duly expressed and some distance on the road, were, through the agency of the telegraph, betrayed, and the heroic young fugitives  were captured in their boxes and dragged back to hopeless bondage.  Consequently, through this deplorable failure, Samuel A. Smith was arrested, imprisoned, and was called upon to suffer severely, as may be seen from the subjoined correspondence, taken from the New York Tribune soon after his release from the penitentiary.

[Correspondence of the N. Y. Tribune.]

PHILADELPHIA, Saturday, July 5, 1856.

     Samuel A. Smith, who boxed up Henry Box Brown in Richmond, Va., and forwarded him by overland express to Philadelphia, and who was arrested and convicted, eight years ago, for boxing up two other slaves, also directed to Philadelphia, having served out his imprisonment in the Penitentiary, was released on the 18th ultimo, and arrived in this city on the 21st.
     Though he lost all his property; though he was refused witnesses on his trial (no officer could be found, who would serve a summons on a witness); though for five long months, in hot weather, he was kept heavily chained in a cell four by eight feet in dimensions; though he received five dreadful stabs, aimed at his heart, by a bribed assassin, nevertheless he still rejoices in the motives which prompted him  to "undo the heavy burdens, and let

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the oppressed go free."  Having resided nearly all his life in the South, where he had traveled and seen much of the "peculiar institution," and had witnessed the most horrid enormities inflicted upon the slave, whose cries were ever ringing in his ears, and for whom he had the warmest sympathy, Mr. Smith could refrain from believing that the black man, as well as the white had God-given rights.  Consequently, he was not accustomed to shed  tears when a poor creature escaped from 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, having 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

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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 generally, and declared that, notwithstanding the many exposures of the evil which came under his own observation, the most vivid descriptions fell far short of the realities his own eyes had witnessed.  He then introduced Mr. Smith, who arose an in a plain manner briefly told his story, assuring the audience that he had always hated slavery, and had taken great pleasure in helping many out of it, and though he had suffered much physicially and pecuniarily for the cause sake, yet he murmured not, but rejoiced in what he had done.  After taking his seat, addresses were made by the Rev. S. Smith, Messrs. Kinnard, Brunner, Bradway, and others.  The following preamble and resolutions were adopted -

     WHEREAS, We, the colored citizens of Philadelphia, have among us Samuel A. Smith, who was incarcerated over seven years in the Richmond Penitentiary, for doing an act that was honorable to his feelings and his sense of justice and humanity, therefore,
     Resolved, That we welcome him to this city as a martyr to the cause of Freedom.
     Resolved, That we heartily tender him our gratitude for the good he has done to our suffering race.
     Resolved, That we sympathize with him in his losses and sufferings in the cause of the poor, down-trodden slave.

     During his stay in Philadelphia, on this occasion, he stopped for about a fortight with the writer, and it was most gratifying to learn from him that he was no new worker on the U. G. R. R.  But that he had long hated slavery thoroughly, and although surrounded with perils on every side, he had not failed to help a poor slave whenever the opportunity was presented.
     Pecuniary aid, to some extent, was rendered him in this city, for which he was grateful, and after being united in marriage, by Wm. H. Furness, D. D., to a lady who had remained faithful to him through all his sore trials and sufferings, he took his departure for Western New York, with a good conscience and an unshaken faith in the belief that in aiding his fellow-man to freedom he had but simply obeyed the word of Him who taught man to do unto others as he would be done by.



     Among other duties devolving on the Vigilance Committee when hearing of slaves brought into the State by their owners, was immediately inform such persons that as they were not fugitives, but were brought into the State by their masters, they were entitled to their freedom without another moment's service, and that they could have the assistance of the Committee

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and the advice of counsel without charge, by simply availing themselves of these proffered favors.
     Many slave-holders fully understood the law in this particular, and were also equally posted with regard to the vigilance of abolitionists.  Consequently they avoided bringing slaves beyond Mason and Dixon's Line in traveling North.  But some slave-holders were not thus mindful of the laws, or were too arrogant to take heed, as may be seen in the case of Colonel John H. Wheeler, of North Carolina, the United States Minister to Nicaragua.  In passing through Philadelphia from Washington, one very warm July day in 1855, accompanied by three of his slaves, his high official equilibrium, as well as his assumed rights under the Constitution, received a terrible shock at the hands of the Committee.  Therefore, for the readers of these pages, and in order to completely illustrate the various phases of the work of the Committee in the days of Slavery, this case, selected from many others, is a fitting one.  However, for more than a brief recital of some of the more prominent incidents, it will not be possible to find room in this volume.  And, indeed, the necessity of so doing is precluded by the fact that Mr. Williamson in justice to himself and the cause of freedom, with great pains and singular ability, gathered the most important facts bearing on his memorable trial and imprisonment, and published them in a neat volume for historical reference.
     In order to bring fully before the reader the beginning of this interesting and exciting case, it seems only necessary to publish the subjoined letter, written by one of the actors in the drama, and addressed to the New York Tribune, and an additional paragraph which may be requisite to throw light on a special point, which Judge Kane decided was concealed in the obstinate" breast of Passmore Williamson, as said Williamson persistently refused before the said Judge's court, to own that he had a knowledge of the mystery in question.  After which, a brief glance at some of the more important points of the case must suffice.

(Correspondence of The N. Y. Tribune)

PHILADELPHIA, Monday, July 30, 1855.

     As the public have not been made acquainted with the facts and particulars respecting the agency of Mr. Passmore Williamsonb and others, in relation to the slave case now agitating this city, and especially as the poor slave mother and her two sons have been so grossly misrepresented, I deem it my duty to lay the facts before you, for publication or otherwise, as you may think proper.
     On Wednesday afternoon, week, at 4 o'clock, the following note was placed in my hands by a colored boy whom I had never before seen, to my recollection:

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     "MR. STILL - Sir:  Will you come down to Bloodgood's Hotel as soon as possible - as there are three fugitive slaves here and they want liberty.  Their master is here with them, on his way to New York."
     The note was without date, and the signature so indistinctly written as not to be understood by me, having evidently been penned in a moment of haste.
     Without delay I ran with the note to Mr. P. Williamson's office, Seventh and Arch, found him at his desk, and gave it to him, and after reading it, he remarked that he could not go, and to get the names of the slave-holder and the slaves, in order to telegraph to New York to have them arrested there, as no time remained to procure a writ of habeas corpus here. 
     I could not have been two minutes in Mr. W.'s office before starting in haste for the wharf.  To my surprise, however, when I reached the wharf, there I found Mr. W., his mind having undergone a sudden change; he was soon on the spot.
     I saw three or four colored persons in the hall at Bloodgood's, none of whom I recognized except the boy who brought me the note.  Before having time for making inquiry some one said they had gone on board the boat. "Get their description," said Mr. W.  I instantly inquired of one of the colored persons for the desired description, and was told that she was "a tall, dark woman, with two little boys.
     Mr. W. and myself ran on board of the boat, looked among the passengers on the first deck, but saw them not.  "They are up on the second deck," an unknown voice uttered.  In a second we were in their presence.  We approached the anxious-looking slave-mother with her two boys on her left-hand; close on her right sat an ill-favored white man having a cane in his hand which I took to be a sword-cane.  (As to its being a sword-care, however, I might have been mistaken.)
     The first words to the mother were: "Are you traveling?"  "Yes," was the prompt answer.  "With whom?"  She nodded her head toward the ill-favored man, signifying with him.  Fidgeting on his seat, he said something, exactly what I do not now recollect.  In reply I remarked: "Do they belong to you Sir?"  "Yes, they are in my charge," was his answer.   Turning from him to the mother and her sons, in substance, and word for word, as near as I can remember, the following remarks were earnestly though calmly addressed by the individuals who rejoiced to meet them on free soil, and who felt unmistakably assured that they were justified by the laws of Pennsylvania as well as the Law of God, in forming them of their rights:
     "You are entitled to your freedom according to the laws of Pennsylvania, having been brought into the State by your owner.  If you prefer freedom to slavery, as we suppose everybody does, you have the chance to accept it now.  Act calmly - don't be frightened by your master - you are as much entitled



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through Slavery in this instance would have everything its own way.  Passmore was locked up in prison on the flimsy pretext of contempt of court, and true bills were found against him and a half a dozen colored men, charging them with "riot," "forcible abduction," and "assault and battery," and there was no lack of hard swearing on the part of Col. Wheeler and his pro-slavery sympathizers in substantiation of these grave charges.  But the pro-slaveryites had counted without their host  - Passmore would not yield an inch, but stood as firmly by his principles in prison, as he did on the boat.  Indeed, it was soon evident, that his resolute course was bringing floods of sympathy from the ablest and best minds throughout the North.  On the other hand, the occasion was rapidly awakening thousands daily, who had hitherto manifested little or no interest at all on the subject, to the wrongs of the slave.
     It was soon discovered by the "chivalry" that keeping Mr. Williamson in prison would indirectly greatly aid the cause of Freedom - that every day  he remained would make numerous converts to the cause of liberty; that Mr. Williamson  was doing ten-fold more in prison for the cause of universal liberty than he could possibly do while pursuing his ordinary vocation.
     With regard to the colored men under bonds, Col. Wheeler and his satellites felt very confident that there was no room for them to escape.  They must have had reason so to think, judging from the hard swearing they did, before the committing magistrate.  Consequently, in the order of events while Passmore was still in prison, receiving visits from hosts of friends, and letters of sympathy from all parts of the North, William Still, William Curtis, James P. Braddock, John Ballard, James Martin and Isaiah Moore, were brought into court for trial.  The first name on the list in the proceedings of the court was called up first.
     Against this individual, it was pretty well understood by the friends of the slave, that no lack of pains and false swearing would be resorted to on the part of Wheeler and his witnesses, to gain a verdict.
     Mr. McKim and other noted abolitionists managing the defense, were equally alive to the importance of overwhelming the enemy in this particular issue.  The Hon. Charles Gibbons, was engaged to defend William Still, and William S. Pierce, Esq., and William B. Birney, Esq., the other five colored defendants.
     In order to make the victory complete, the anti-slavery friends deemed it of the highest importance to have Jane Johnson in court, to face her master, and under oath to sweep away his "refuge of lies," with regard to her being "abducted," and her unwillingness to "leave her master," etc.  So Mr. McKim and the friends very privately arranged to have Jane Johnson on hand at the opening of the defense.
     Mrs. Lucretia Mott, Mrs. McKim, Miss Sarah Pugh and Mrs. Plumly, volunteered to accompany this poor slave mother to the court-house and

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to occupy seats by her side, while she should face her master, and boldly, on oath, contradict all his hard swearing.  A better subject for the occasion than Jane, could not have been desired.  She entered the court room veiled, and of course was not known by the crowd, as pains had been taken to keep the public in ignorance of the fact, that she was to be brought on to bear witness.  So that, at the conclusion of the second witness on the part of the defense, "Jane Johnson" was called for, in a shrill voice.  Deliberately, Jane arose and answered, in a lady-like manner to her name, and was then the observed of all observers.  Never before had such a scene been witnessed in Philadelphia.  It was indescribable.  Substantially, her testimony on this occasion, was in keeping with the subjoined affidavit, which was as follows -

"State of New York, City and County of New York.
"Jane Johnson being sworn, makes oath and says -
     "My name is Jane - Jane Johnson; I was the slave of Mr. Wheeler of Washington; he bought me and my two children, about two years ago, of Mr. Cornelius Crew, of Richmond, Va.; my youngest child is between six and seven years old, the other between ten and eleven; I have one other child only, and he is in Richmond; I have not seen him for about two years; never expect to see him again; Mr. Wheeler brought me and my two children to Philadelphia, on the way to Nicaragua, to wait on his wife; I didn't want to go without my two children, and he consented to take them; we came to Philadelphia by the cars; stopped at Mr. Sully's, Mr. Wheeler's father-in-law, a few moments; then went to the steamboat for New York at 2 o'clock, but were too late; we went into Bloodgood's Hotel; Mr. Wheeler went to dinner; Mr. Wheeler had told me in Washington to have nothing to say to colored persons, and if any of them spoke to me, to say I was a free woman traveling with a minister; we staid at Bloodgood's till 5 o'clock Mr. Wheeler kept his eye on me all the time except when he was at dinner;  he left his dinner to come and see if I was safe, and then went back again; while he was at dinner, I saw a colored woman and told her I was a slave woman, that my master had told me not to speak to colored people, and that if any of them spoke to me to say and I was free; but I am not free; but I want to be free; she said: 'poor thing, I pity you; after that I saw a colored man and said the same thing to him, he said he would telegraph to New York, and two men would meet me at 9 o'clock and take me with them; after that we went on board the boat, Mr. Wheeler sat beside me on the deck; I saw a colored gentleman come on board, he beckoned to me; I nodded my head, and could not go; Mr. Wheeler was beside me and I was afraid; a white gentleman then came and said to Mr. Wheeler, 'I want to speak to your servant, and tell her of her rights; Mr. Wheeler rose and said, 'If you have anything to say, say it to me - she knows her rights; the white gentleman asked me if I wanted to be free; I said 'I do, but I



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Court, on the 27th day of July, 1855, and was released on the 3d day of November the same year, having gained, in the estimation of the friends of Freedom every where, a triumph and a fame which but few men in the great moral battle for Freedom could claim.



     The great number of cases to be here notice forbids more than a brief reference to each passenger.  AS they arrived in parties, their narratives will be given in due order as found on the book of records:
     William Griffen, Henry Moor, James Camper, Noah Ennells and Levin Parker.  This party came from Cambridge, Md.
     WILLIAM is thirty-four years of age, of medium size and substantial appearance.  He fled from James Waters, Esq., a lawyer, living in Cambridge.  He was "wealthy, close, and stingy," and owned nine head of slaves and a farm, on which William served.  He was used very hard, which was the cause of his escape, though the idea that he was entitled to his freedom had been entertained for the previous twelve years.  On preparing to take the Underground, he armed himself with a big butcher-knife, and resolved, if attacked, to make his enemies stand back.  His master was a member of the Methodist Church.
     HENRY is tall, copper-colored, and about thirty years of age.  He complained not so much of bad usage as of the utter distaste he had to working all the time for the "white people for nothing."  He was also decidedly of the opinion that every man should have his liberty.  Four years ago his wife was "sold away to Georgia" by her young master; since which time not a word had he heard from her.  She left three children, and he, in escaping also had to leave them in the same hands that sold their mother.  He was owned by Levin Dale, a farmer near Cambridge.  Henry was armed with a six-barrelled revolver, a large knife, and a determined mind.
     JAMES is twenty-four years of age, quite black, small size, keen look, and full of hope for the "best part of Canada."  He fled from Henry Hooper "a dashing young man and a member of the Episcopal Church."  Left because he "did not enjoy privileges" as he wished to do.  He was armed with two pistols and a dirk to defend himself.
     NOAH is only nineteen, quite dark, well-proportioned, and possessed of a fair average of common sense.  He was owned by "Black-head Bill LeCount," who "followed drinking, chewing tobacco, catching 'runaways,' and hanging around the court house."  However, he owned six head of slaves, and had a "rough wife," who belonged to the Methodist Church.  Left be

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cause he "expected every day to be sold" - his master being largely in "debt." Brought with him a butcher-knife.
     LEVIN is twenty-two, rather short built, medium size and well colored.  He fled from Lawrence G. Colson, "a very bad man, fond of drinking, great to fight and swear, and hard to please.  His mistress was "real rough; very bad, worse than he was as 'fur' as she could be."  Having been stinted with food and clothing and worked hard, was the apology offered by Levin for running off.
     STEBNEY SWAN, John Stinger, Robert Emerson, Anthony Pugh and Isabella _____.  This company came from Portsmouth, Va.  Stebney is thirty-four years of age, medium size, mulatto, and quite wide awake.  He was owned by an oysterman by the name of Jos. Carter, who lived near Portsmouth.  Naturally enough his master "drank hard, gambled" extensively, and in every other respect was a very ordinary man.  Nevertheless, he "owned twenty-five head," and had a wife and six children.  Stebney testified that he had not been used hard, though he had been on the "auction-block three times."  Left because he was "tired of being a servant."  Armed with a board-axe and hatchet, he started, joined by the above-named companions, and came in a skiff, by sea.  Robert Lee was the brave Captain engaged to pilot this Slavery-sick party from the prison-house of bondage.  And although every rod of rowing was attended with inconceivable peril, the desired haven was safely reached, and the overjoyed voyagers conducted to the Vigilance Committee.
is about forty years of age, and so near white that a microscope would be required to discern his colored origin.  His father was white and his mother nearly so.  He also had been owned by the oysterman alluded to above; had been captain of one of his oyster-boats, until recently.  And but for his attempt some months back to make his escape, he might have been this day in the care of his kind-hearted master.  But, because of this wayward step on the part of John, his master felt called upon to humble him.  Accordingly, the captaincy was taken from him, and he was compelled to struggle on in a less honorable position.  Occasionally John's mind would be refreshed by his master relating the hard times in the North, the great starvation among the blacks, etc.  He would also tell John how much better off he was as a "slave with a kind master to provide for all his wants," etc.  Notwithstanding all this counsel, John did not rest contented until he was on the Underground Rail Road.
     ROBERT was only nineteen, with an intelligent face and prepossessing manners; reads, writes and ciphers; and is about half Anglo-Saxon.  He fled from Wm. H. Wilson, Esq.., Cashier of the Virginia Bank.  Until within the four years previous to Robert's escape, the cashier was spoken of as a "very god man;" but in consequence of speculations in a large Hotel in Portsmouth, and the then financial embarrassments, "he had become ser


[pg. 99]
ously involved," and decidedly changed in his manners.  Robert noticed this, and concluded he had "better get out of danger as soon as possible."
     ANTHONY and Isabella were an engaged couple, and desired to cast their lot where husband and wife could not be separated on the auction block.
     The following are of the Cambridge party, above alluded to.  All left together, but for prudential reasons separated before reaching Philadelphia.  The company that left Cambridge on the 24th of October may be thus recognized:  Aaron Cornish and wife, with their six children; Solomon, George Anthony, Joseph, Edward James, Perry Lake, and a nameless babe, all very likely; Kit Anthony and wife Leah, and three children, Adam, Mary, and Murray; Joseph Hill and wife Alice, and their son Henry; also Joseph's sister.  Add to the above, Marshall Dutton and George Light, both single young men, and we have twenty-eight in one arrival, as hearty-looking, brave and interesting specimens of Slavery as could well be produced from Maryland.  Before setting out they counted well the cost.  Being aware that fifteen had left their neighborhood only a few days ahead of them, and that every slave-holder and slave-catcher throughout the community, were on the alert, and raging furiously against the inroads of the Underground Rail Road, they provided themselves with the following weapons of defense: three revolvers, three double-barreled pistols, three single-barreled pistols, three sword-canes, four butcher knives, one bowie-knife, and one paw.*  Thus, fully resolved from freedom or death, with  scarcely provisions enough for a single day, while the rain and storm was piteously descending, fathers and mothers with children in their arms (Aaron Cornish had two) - the entire party started.  Of course, their provisions gave out before they were fairly on the way, but not so with the storm.  It continued to pour upon them for nearly three days.  With nothing to appease the gnawings of hunger but parched corn and a few dry crackers, wet and cold, with several of the children sick, some of their feet bare and worn, and one of the mothers with an infant in her arms, incapable of partaking of the diet, - it is impossible to imagine the ordeal they were passing.  It was enough to cause the bravest hearts to falter.  But not for a moment did they allow themselves to look back.  It was exceedingly agreeable to hear even the little children testify that in the most trying hour on the road, not for a moment did they want to go back.  The following advertisement, taken from The Cambridge Democrat of November 4, shows how the Rev. Levi Traverse felt about Aaron -

  $300 REWARD. - Ran away from the subscriber, from the neighborhood of Town Point, on Saturday night, the 24th inst., my negro man, AARON CORNISH, about 35 years old.  He is about five feet ten inches high, black, good-looking, rather pleasant countenance and carries himself with a confident manner.  He went off with his wife, DAFFNEY, a negro woman belonging to Reuben E. Phillips.  I will give the above reward if taken out of the county, and $200 if taken in the county; in either case to be lodged in Cambridge Jail.
     October 25, 1857.                                                                  LEVI D. TRAVERSE

* a paw is a weapon with iron prongs, four inches long, to be grasped with the hand and used in close encounter.

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     To fully understand the Rev. Mr. Traverse's authority for taking the liberty he did with Aaron's good name, it may not by amiss to give briefly a paragraph of private information from Aaron, relative to his master.  The Rev. Mr. Traverse belonged to the Methodist Church, and was described by Aaron as a "bad young man; rattle-brained; with the appearance of not having good sense, - not enough to manage the great amount of property (he had been left wealthy) in his possession."  Aaron's servitude commenced under this spiritual protector in May prior to the escape, immediately after the death of his old master.  His deceased master, William D. Traverse, by the way, was the father-in-law, and at the same time own uncle of Aaron's reverend owner.  Though the young master, for marrying his own cousin and uncle's daughter, had been for years the subject of the old gentleman's wrath, and was not allowed to come near his house, or to entertain any reasonable hop of getting any of his father-in-law's estate, nevertheless, scarcely had the old man breathed his last, ere the young preacher seized upon the inheritance, slaves and all; at least he claimed two thirds, allowing for the widow one-third.  Unhesitatingly he had taken possession of all the slaves (some thirty head), and was making them feel his power to the fullest extent.  To Aaron this increased oppression was exceedingly crushing, as he had been hoping at the death of his old master to be free.  Indeed, it was understood that the old man had his will made, and freedom provided for the slaves.  But, strangely enough, at his death no will could be found.  Aaron was firmly of the conviction that the Rev. Mr. Traverse knew what became of it.  Between the widow and the son-in-law, in consequence of his aggressive steps, existed much hostility, which strongly indicated the approach of a law-suit; therefore, except by escaping, Aaron could not see the faintest hope of freedom.  Under his old master, the favor of hiring his time had been granted him  He had also been allowed by his wife's mistress (Miss Jane Carter, of Baltimore), to have his wife and children home with him - that is, until his children would grow to the age of eight and ten years, then they would be taken away and hired out at twelve or fifteen dollars a year at first.  Her oldest boy, sixteen, hired the year he left for forty dollars.  They had had ten children; two had died, two they were compelled to leave in chains; the rest they brought away.  Not one dollar's expense had they been to their mistress.  The industrious Aaron not only had to pay his own hire, but was obliged to do enough-over-work to support his large family.
     Though he said he had no special complaint to make against his old master, through whom he, with the rest of the slaves, hoped to obtain freedom, Aaron, nevertheless, spoke of him as a man of violent temper, severe on his slaves, drinking hard, etc., though he was a man of wealth and stood high in the community.  One of Aaron's brothers, and others, had been sold South by him.  It was on account of his inveterate hatred of his son-in-law, who,

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