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Levin Smith.

Levin was a slave in Maryland. He married a free woman and had several children. In 1802, his master sold him to a speculator, who was in the habit of buying slaves for the Southern market. His purchaser took him to his farm in Delaware, and kept him at work till he could get a profitable chance to sell him. His new master was a desperate fellow, and Levin was uneasy with the constant liability of being sold to the far South. He opened his heart to a neighbor, who advised him to escape, and gave him a letter to Isaac T. Hopper. His wife and children had removed to Philadelphia, and there he rejoined them. She took in washing, and he supported [89] himself by sawing wood. He had been there little more than a month, when his master heard where he was, and bargained with the captain of a small sloop to catch him and bring him back to Delaware.

The plan was to seize Levin in his bed, hurry him on board the sloop, and start off immediately, before his family could have time to give the alarm. They would probably have succeeded in this project, if the captain had not drank a little too freely the evening previous, and so forgotten to get some goods on board, as he had promised. Levin was seized and carried off; but the sloop was obliged to wait for the goods, and in the meantime messengers were sent to Isaac T. Hopper, He was in bed, but sprang up the instant he heard a violent knocking at the door. In his haste, he thrust on an old rough coat and hat, which he was accustomed to wear to fires; for, in addition to his various other employments, he belonged to a fire-company. He hurried to the scene of action as quickly as possible, and found that the slave had been conveyed to a small tavern near the wharf where the sloop lay. When the landlord was questioned where the men were who had him in custody, he refused to give any information. But there was a crowd of men and boys; and one of them said, ‘They are up-stairs in the back room.’ The landlord stood in the door-way, and tried to prevent Friend Hopper from passing in; but he pushed [90] him aside, and went up to the chamber, where he found Levin with his hands tied, and guarded by five or six men. ‘What are you going to do with this man?’ said he. The words were scarcely out of his mouth, before they seized him violently and pitched him out of the chamber window. He fell upon empty casks, and his mind was so excited, that he was not aware of being hurt. There was no time to be lost; for unless there was an immediate rescue, the man would be forced on board the sloop and carried off. As soon as he could get upon his feet, he went round again to the front door and ascended the stairs; but the door of the chamber was locked. He then returned to the back yard, mounted upon the pent-house, by means of a high board fence, and clambered into the window of a chamber, that opened into the room where the slave was. He entered with an open penknife in his hand, exclaiming, ‘Let us see if you will get me out so soon again!’ Speaking thus, he instantly cut the cords that bound the slave, and called out, ‘Follow me!’ He rushed down stairs as fast as he could go, and the slave after him. The guard were utterly astonished at seeing the man return, whom they had just tossed out of an upper window, and the whole thing was done so suddenly, that Friend Hopper and the liberated captive were in the street before they had time to recover their wits. [91]

A rowdy looking crowd of men and boys followed the fugitive and his protector, shouting, ‘Stop thief! Stop thief!’ until they came to the office of a justice of the peace, half a mile from where they started. The astonished magistrate exclaimed, ‘Good heavens, Mr. Hopper, what brings you here this time of the morning, in such a trim, and with such a rabble at your heels!’ When the circumstances were briefly explained, he laughed heartily, and said, ‘I don't think they would have treated you so roughly, if they had known who you were.’ He was informed that Levin was a slave in Maryland, but had been living in Delaware with a man who bought him, and had thus become legally free. Measures were taken to protect him from further aggression, and he was never after molested.

Friend Hopper went home to a late breakfast; and when he attempted to rise from the table, he was seized with violent pains in the back, in consequence of his fall. He never after entirely recovered from the effects of it.

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