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James Lawler.

James was a slave to Mr. Mc Calmont of Delaware. In 1805, when he was about thirty years old, he escaped to New-Jersey and let himself out to a farmer. After he had been there a few months, several runaway slaves in his neighborhood were arrested and carried back to the South. This alarmed him, and he became very anxious that some person should advance a sum of money sufficient to redeem him from bondage, which he would bind himself to repay by labor. Finding that his employer abhorred slavery, and was very friendly to colored people, he ventured to open his heart to him; and Isaac T. Hopper was consulted on the subject.

The first step was to write to Mr. Mc Calmont to ascertain what were the lowest terms on which he would manumit his slave. The master soon came in person, accompanied by a Philadelphia merchant, who testified that his friend Mc Calmont was a highly respectable man, and treated his slaves with great kindness. He said James would be much happier with his master than he could be in any other situation, and strongly urged Friend Hopper to tell where he might be found.

He replied, ‘It does not appear that James thought [124] himself so happy, or he would not have left his service. Even if I had no objection to slavery, I should still be bound by every principle of honor not to betray the confidence reposed in me. But feeling as it is well known I do on that subject, I am surprised thou shouldst make such a proposition to me.’

They then called upon Thomas Harrison, and tried to enlist him in their favor by repeating how well James had been treated, and how happy he was in slavery. Friend Harrison replied, in his ironical way, ‘O, I know very well that slaves sleep on feather beds, while their master's children sleep on straw; that they eat white bread, and their master's children eat brown. But enclose ten acres with a high wall, plant it with Lombardy poplars and the most beautiful shrubbery, build a magnificent castle in the midst of it, give thee pen, ink, and paper, to write about the political elections in which thou art so much interested, load thee with the best of everything thy heart could desire, still I think thou wouldst want to get out beyond the wall.’

The master, being unable to ascertain where his slave could be found, finally informed Friend Hopper that he would manumit him on the receipt of one hundred and fifty dollars. Mr. John Hart, a druggist, generously advanced the sum, and James was indentured to him for the term of five years. Before the contract was concluded, somebody remarked [125] that perhaps he would repeat his old trick of running away. ‘I am not afraid of that,’ replied Mr. Hart. ‘I will tie him by the teeth;’ meaning he would feed him well.

In fact, James now appeared quite satisfied. His new master and mistress were kind to him, and he was faithful and diligent in their service. When a year or two had elapsed, he asked permission to visit his old master and fellow servants. Mr. Hart kept a carriage, which he seldom used in the winter, and he told James he might take one of the horses. This suited his taste exactly. He mounted a noble looking animal, with handsome saddle and bridle, and trotted off to Delaware. When he arrived, he tied the horse and went into the kitchen. Mr. Mc Calmont coming home soon after, and observing a very fine horse in his yard, supposed he must have some distinguished visitor. Upon inquiry, he was informed that Jim rode the horse there, and was then in the kitchen. He went out and spoke very pleasantly to his former slave, and said he was glad to see him. Being informed that the horse belonged to his new master, Mr. Hart, who had kindly permitted him to use it, he ordered the animal to be taken to the stable and supplied with hay and oats. James was treated kindly by all the family, and spent two days very agreeably. When about to take leave, Mr. Mc Calmont said to him, ‘Well, [126] Jim, I am glad to find that you have a good master, and are happy. But I had rather you would not come here again in the style you now have; for it will make my people dissatisfied.’

James returned much pleased with his excursion, and soon went to give Friend Hopper an account of it. He served out his time faithfully, and remained afterward in the same family, as a hired servant.

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