William was a slave in Virginia
When about twenty-five years old, he left his master and went to Philadelphia
with two of his fellow slaves; giving as a reason that he wanted to try whether he could n't do something for himself.
When they had been absent a few months, their master ‘sold them running’ to Mr. Joseph Ennells
, a speculator in slaves, who procured a warrant and constable and repaired to Philadelphia
in search of his newly acquired property.
They arrived on Saturday, a day when many people congregated at the horse-market.
After spending some days in search of them, Ennells
called upon Isaac T. Hopper
and Thomas Harrison
, and offered to sell them very cheap if
they would hunt them up. Friend Hopper
immedilately recognized him as the man who had threatened to blow out his brains, when he went to the rescue of old William Bachelor; and he thus addressed him: ‘I would advise thee to go home and obtain thy living in some more honorable way; for the trade in which thou art engaged is a most odious one.
On a former occasion thou
wert treated with leniency; and I recommend a similar course to thee with regard to these poor fugitives.’
The speculator finally agreed to sell the three men for two hundred and fifty dollars. The money was paid, and he returned home.
In the course of a few days William Anderson
called upon Isaac T. Hopper
He informed him that Thomas Harrison
had bought him and his companions, and told him he had better find the other two, and go and make a bargain with Friend Harrison
concerning the payment.
He called accordingly, and offered to bind himself as a servant until he had earned enough to repay the money that had been advanced; but he said he had searched in vain for the two companions of his flight.
They had left the city abruptly, and he could not ascertain where they had gone.
said to him, ‘Perhaps thou art not aware that thou hast a legal claim to thy freedom already; for I am a citizen of Pennsylvania
, and the laws here do not allow any man to hold a slave.’
William replied, ‘I am too grateful for the kindness you have shown me, to feel any disposition to take advantage of that circumstance.
If I live, you shall never lose a single cent on my account.’
He was soon after indentured to Mr. Jacob Downing
a respectable merchant of Philadelphia
, who agreed to pay one hundred and twenty-five dollars agreed to pay one half of the money adfor his services.
This was half of the money advanced for all of them.
William served the stipulated time faithfully.
His master said he never had a more honest and useful servant; and he on his part always spoke of the family with great respect and affection.
When the time of his indenture had expired, he called upon his old benefactor, Thomas Harrison
After renewing his grateful acknowledgments for the service rendered to him in extremity, he inquired whether anything had ever been heard from the two other fugitives.
Being answered in the negative, he replied, ‘Well, Mr. Harrison
, you paid two hundred and fifty dollars for us, and you have not been able to find my companions.
You have received only one hundred and twenty-five dollars. It is not right that you should lose by your kindness to us. I am willing you should bind me again to make up the balance.’
exclaimed Thomas Harrison
‘Go about thy business.
paid thy share, and I have no further claim upon thee.
Conduct as well as thou hast done since I have known thee, and thou wilt surely prosper.’
happened to be present at this interview; and he used to say, many years afterward, that he should never forget how it made his heart glow to witness such honorable and disinterested conduct.
The two other fugitives were never heard of, and Friend Harrison
of course lost one hundred and twenty-five dollars. William frequently called upon his benefactors, and always conducted in the most exemplary manner.