CARRIER OF "THE NATIONAL AMERICAN," OFF
subjoined "pass" was brought to the underground Rail
Road station in Philadelphia by Charles, and
while it was interesting as throwing light upon his
escape, it is important also as a specimen of the way
the "pass" system was carried on in the dark days of
Slavery in Virginia:
Richmond, July 20th, 1857.
Permit Charles to pass and repass from this
office to the residence of Rev. B. Manly's on
Clay St., near 11th, at any hour of the night for one
It is a
very short document, but it used to be very unsafe for a
slave in Richmond, or any other Southern city, to be
found out in the evening without a legal paper of this
description. The penalties for being found
unprepared to face the police were fines, imprisonment
and flogging. The satisfaction it seemed always to
afford these guardians of the city to find either males
or females trespassing in this particular, was
unmistakable. It gave them (the police) the
opportunity to prove to those they served
(slave-holders), that they were the right men in the
right place, guarding their interests. Then again
they got the fine for pocket money, and likewise the
still greater pleasure of administering the flogging.
Who would want an office, if no opportunity should turn
up whereby proof could be adduced of adequate
qualifications to meet emergencies? But Charles
was too wide awake to be caught without his pass day or
night. Consequently he hung on to it, even after
starting on his voyage to Canada. He, however,
willingly surrendered it to a member of the Committee at
his special request.
But in every way Charles was quite a remarkable
man. It afforded the Committee great pleasure to
make his acquaintance, and much practical and useful
information was gathered from his story, which was felt
to be truthful.
The Committee feeling assured that this "chattel" must
have been the subject of much inquiry and anxiety from
the nature of his former position, as a prominent piece
of property, as a member of the Baptist church, as
taking "first premiums" in making tobacco, and as a
paper carrier in the National American office, felt
called upon to note fully his movements before and
often leaving Richmond.
In stature he was medium size, color quite dark, hair
long and bushy - rather of a raw-boned and rugged
appearance, modest and self-possessed; with much more
intelligence than would be supposed from first
observation. On his arrival, ere he had "shaken
hands with the (British) Lion's paw," (which he was
desirous of doing), or changed the habiliments in which
he escaped, having listened to the recital of his
thrilling tale, and wishing to get it word for word as
it flowed naturally from his brave lips, at a late hour
of the night a member of the Committee remarked to him,
with pencil in hand, that he wanted to take down some
account of his life. "Now," said he, "we shall have to
be brief. Please answer as correctly as you can
the following questions:" "How old are you?"
"Thirty-two years old the 1st day of last June."
"Were you born a slave?" "Yes." "How have
you been treated?" "Badly all the time for the
last twelve years." "What do you mean by being
treated badly?" "Have been whipped, and they never
give me anything; some people give their servants at
Christmas a dollar and a half and two dollars, and some
five, but my master would never give me anything."
"What was the name of your master?" "Fleming
Bibbs." "Where did you live?" "In
Caroline county, fifty miles above Richmond."
"What did he do?" "He is a farmer." "Did you
ever live with him?" "Never did; always hired me
out, and then I couldn't please him." "What kind
of a man was he?" "A man with a very severe
temper; would drink at all times, though would do it
slyly." "Was he a member of any church?"
"Baptist church - would curse at his servants as if he
wern't in any church." "Were his family members of
church, too?" "Yes." "What kind of family he
he?" "His wife was a tolerable fair woman, but his
sons were dissipated, all of them rowdies and
gamblers. His sons has had children by the
servants. One of his daughters had a child by his
grandson last April. They are traders, buy and
slaves did he own?" "Sam, Richmond, Henry,
Dennis, Jesse, Addison, Hilliard, Jenny, Lucius, Julia,
Charlotte, Easte, Joe, Taylor, Louisa, two more
small children and Jim." Did any of them
know that you were going to leave? "No, I saw my
brother Tuesday, but never told him a word about it."
"What put it into your head to leave?" "It was bad
treatment; for being put in jail for the sale the 7th of
last January; was whipped in jail and after I came out
the only thing they told me was that I had been selling
newspaper about the streets, and was half free."
"What did you live then?" "In Richmond, Va.; for
twenty-two years I have been living out." "How
much did your master receive a year for our hire?"
"From sixty-five to one hundred and fifty dollars."
"Did you have to find yourself?" "The people who
hired me found me. The general rule is in
Richmond, for a week's board, seventy-five cents is
allowed; if he gets any more than that he has got to
find it himself." "How about Sunday clothing?"
"Find them yourself?" "How about a house to live
in?" "Have that to find yourself." "Suppose
you have a wife and finally." "It makes no
difference, they don't allow you anything for that at
all." "Suppose you are sick who pays your doctor's
bill?" "He (master) pays that." "How do you
manage to make a little extra money?" "By getting
up before day and carrying out papers and doing other
jobs, cleaning up single men's rooms and the like of
that." "What have you been employed at in
Richmond?" "Been working in tobacco factory in
general; this year I was hired at a printing-office.
The National American. I carried papers."
"Had you a wife?" "I did, but her master was a
very bad man and was opposed to me, and was against my
coming to his place to see my wife, and he persuaded her
to take his advice." "How long ago was that?"
"Very near twelve months; she got married last fall."
"Had you any children?" "Yes." "How many?"
"Five." "Where are they?" "Three are with
Joel Luck, her master, one with his sister Eliza,
and the other belongs to Judge Hudgins, of
Bowling Green Court House." "Do you ever expect to
see them again?" "No, not till the day of the
Great I am!" "Did you ever have any chance of
schooling?" "Not a day in my life." "Can you
read?" "No, sir, nor write my own name."
"What do you think of Slavery any how?" "I think
it's a great curse, and I think the Baptists in
Richmond will go to the deepest hell, if there is
any, for they are so wicked they will work you all day
and part of the night, and wear cloaks and long
faces, and try to get all the work out of you they
can by telling you about Jesus Christ. All
the extra money you make they think you will give to
hear talk about Jesus Christ. Out of their
extra money they have to pay a white man Five hundred
dollars a year for preaching." "What kind of
preaching does he give them?" "He tells them if
they die in their sins they will go to hell; don't tell
thing about their elevation; he would tell them to obey
their masters and mistresses, for good servants make
good masters.” “Did you belong to the Baptist
Church?” “Yes, Second Baptist Church.” “Did
you feel that the preaching you heard was the true
Gospel?” “One part of it, and one part burnt me as
bad as ever insult did. They would tell us that we must
take money out of our pockets to send it to Africa, to
enlighten the African race. I think that we were
about as blind in Richmond as the African race is in
Africa. All they want you to know, is to have
sense enough to say master and mistress, and run like
lightning, when they speak to you, to do exactly what
they want you to do." “When you made up your mind
to escape, where did you think you would go to?”
“I made up my mind not to stop short of the British
protection; to shake hands with the Lion’s paw.” “
Were you not afraid of being captured on the _way, of
being devoured by the abolitionists, or of freezing and
starving in Canada?” “ Well, I had often thought that I
would be in a bad condition to come here, without money
and clothes, but I made up my mind to come, live or
die.” “What are your impressions from what little
you have seen of Freedom?” “ I think it is
intended for all men, and all men ought to have it."
"Suppose your master was to appear before you, and offer
you the privilege of returning to Slavery or death on
the spot, which would be your choice?” “Die right
there. I made up my mind before I started.”
“Do you think that many of the slaves are anxious about
their Freedom?” “The third part of them ain't anxious
about it, because the white people have blinded them,
telling about the North,—they can’t live here; telling
them that the people are worse off than they are there;
they say that the ‘niggers’ in the North have no houses
to live in, stand about freezing, dirty, no clothes to
wear. They all would be very glad to get their
time, but want to stay where they are.” Just at
this point of the interview, the hour of midnight
admonished us that it was time to retire.
Accordingly, said Mr. Thompson, “I guess
we had better close,” adding, if he “could only write,
he could give seven volumes!” Also, said he, “give
my best respects to Mr. W. W. Hardwicke, and
Mr. Perry in the National American office,
and tell them I wish they will pay the two boys who
carry the papers for me, for they are as ignorant of
this matter as you are.”
Charles was duly forwarded to Canada to shake
hands with the Lion's paw, and from the accounts which
came from him to the Committee, he was highly delighted.
The following letter from him afforded gratifying
evidence, that he neither forgot his God nor his
friends in freedom:
DETROIT, Sept. 17, 1862.
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST: - It affords me the greatest
pleasure imaginable in the time I shall occupy in
penning these few lines to you and your dear loving
wife; not because I can write them to you myself, but
for the love and regard I have for you, for I
never can forget a man who will show kindness to his
neighbor when in distress. I remember when I was
in distress and out of doors, you took me in; I was
hungry, and you fed me; for these things God will
reward you, dear brother. I am getting along as
well as I can expect. Since I have been out here,
I have endeavored to make every day tell for itself, and
I can say no doubt what a great many men cannot say that
I have made good use of all the time that God has
given me, and not one week has been spent in idleness.
Brother William, I expect to visit you some time
next summer to sit and have a talk with you and Mrs.
Still. I hope to see that time, if it is
God's will. You will remember me, with my
wife, to Mrs. Still. Give my best respects
to all inquiring friends, and believe me to be yours
forever. Well wishes both soul and body.
Please write to me sometimes.
C. W. THOMPSON.
BLOOD FLOWED FREELY.
ABRAM GALLOWAY AND RICHARD EDEN, TWO
PASSENGERS SECRETED IN A VESSEL LOADED WITH SPIRITS OF
TURPENTINE. SHROUDS PREPARED TO PREVENT BEING
SMOKED TO DEATH
HON. ABRAM GALLOWAY.
(Secreted in a vessel loaded with turpentine.)
thought I would try and do better." At this
juncture Abram. explained substantially in what
sense times were hard, &c. In the first place he
was not allowed to own himself; he, however, preferred
hiring his time to serving in the usual way. This
favor was granted Abram; but he was compelled to
pay $15 per month for his time, besides finding himself
in clothing, food, paying doctor bills, and a head tax
of $15 a year.
Even under this master, who was a man of very good
disposition, Abram was not contented. In the second
place, he " always thought Slavery was wrong," although
he had " never suffered any personal abuse."
Toiling month after month the year round to support his
master and not himself, was the one intolerable thought.
Abram and Richard were intimate friends,
and lived near each other. Being similarly
situated, they could venture to communicate the secret
feelings of their hearts to each other. Richard
was four years older than Abram, with not quite
so much AngloSaxon blood in his veins, but was equally
as intelligent, and was by trade, a "fashionable
barber," well-known to the ladies and gentlemen of
Wilmington. Richard owed service to Mrs.
Mary Loren, a widow. "She was very kind and tender
to all her slaves." "If I was sick," said
Richard, "she would treat me the same as a mother
would." She was the owner of twenty, men, women
and children, who were all hired out, except the
children too young for hire. Besides having his
food, clothing and doctor's expenses to meet, he had to
pay the "very kind and tender-hearted widow" $12.50 per
month, and head tax to the State, amounting to
twenty-five cents per month. I t so happened, that
Richard at this time, was involved in a matrimonial
difficulty. Contrary to the laws of North
Carolina, he had lately married a free girl, which was
an indictable offence, and for which the penalty was
then in soak for him—said penalty to consist of
thirty-nine lashes, and imprisonment at the discretion
of the judge.
So Abram and Richard put their heads
together, and resolved to try the Underground Rail Road.
They concluded that liberty was worth dying for, and
that it was their duty to strike for Freedom even if it
should cost them their lives. The next thing
needed, was information about the Underground Rail Road.
Before a great while the captain of a schooner turned
up, from Wilmington, Delaware. Learning that his
voyage extended to Philadelphia, they sought to find out
whether this captain was true to Free dom. To
ascertain this fact required no little address. It
had to be done in such a way, that even the captain
would not really understand what they were up to, should
he be found untrue. In this instance, however, he
was the right man in the right place, and very well
understood his business.
Abram and Richard made arrangements with
him to bring them away; they learned when the vessel
would start, and that she was loaded with tar, rosin,
and spirits of turpentine, amongst which the captain was
to secrete tbem. But here came the difficulty. In
order that slaves might not be
secreted in vessels, the slave-holders of North Carolina
had procured the enactment of a law requiring all
vessels coming North to be smoked.
To escape this dilemma, the inventive genius of
Abram and Richard soon devised a safe-guard
against the smoke. This safe-guard consisted in
silk oil cloth shrouds, made large, with drawing
strings, which, when pulled over their heads, might be
drawn very tightly around their waists, whilst the
process of smoking might be in operation. A
bladder of water and towels were provided, the latter to
be wet and held to their nostrils, should there be need.
In this manner they had determined to struggle against
death for liberty. The hour approached for being
at the wharf. At the appointed time they were on
hand ready to go on the boat; the captain secreted them,
according to agreement. They were ready to run the
risk of being smoked to death; but as good luck would
have it, the law was not carried into effect in this
instance, so that the "smell of smoke was not upon
them." The effect of the turpentine, however, of
the nature of which they were totally ignorant, was
worse, if possible, than the smoke would have been.
The blood was literally drawn from them at every pore in
frightful quantities. But as heroes of the bravest
type they resolved to continue steadfast as long as a
pulse continued to beat, and thus they finally
The invigorating northern air and the kind treatment of
the Vigilance Committee acted like a charm upon them,
and they improved very rapidly from their exhaustive and
heavy loss of blood. Desiring to retain some
memorial of them, a member of the Committee begged one
of their silk shrouds, and likewise procured an artist
to take the photograph of one of them; which keepsakes
have been valued very highly. In the regular order
of arrangements the wants of Abram and Richard
were duly met by the Committee, financially and
otherwise, and they were forwarded to Canada.
After their safe arrival in Canada, Richard
addressed a member of the Committee thus:
KINGSTON, July 20, 1857
MR. WILLIAM STILL - Dear Friend:
- I take the opertunity of wrighting a few lines to let
you no that we air all in good health hoping thos few
lines may find you and your family engoying the same
blessing. We arived in King all saft Canada West
Abram Galway gos to work this morning at $1 75
per day and John pediford is at work for
mr goerge mink and i will opne a shop for my self
in a few days. My wif will send a dugretipe to
your cair whitch you will pleas to send on to me
Richard Edons to the cair of George Mink
Kingston C. W.
Yours with Respect, RICHARD
his comrade, allied himself faithfully to John Bulluntil
Uncle Sam became involved in the constest with
the rebels. In this hour of need Abram
hastened back to North Carolina to help fight the
battles of Freedom. How well he acted his part, we
are not informed. We only know that, after the war
was over, in the reconstruction of North Carolina,
Abram was promoted to a seat in its Senate.
He died in office only a few months since. The
portrait is almost a "fac-simile."
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