A Frenchman named M. Bouilla
resided in Spring Garden
, in the year 1806.
He and a woman, who had lived with him some time, had in their employ a mulatto girl of nine years old, called Amy. Dreadful stories were in circulation concerning their cruel treatment to this child; and compassionate neighbors had frequently solicited Friend Hopper
After a while, he heard they were about to send her into the country; and fearing she might be sold into slavery, he called upon M. Bouilla
to inquire whither she was going.
As soon as he made known his business, the door was unceremoniously slammed in his face and locked.
A note was then sent to the Frenchman, asking for a friendly interview; but he returned a verbal answer.
‘Tell Mr. Hopper
to mind his own business.’
Considering it his business to protect an abused child, he applied to a magistrate for a warrant, and proceeded to the house, accompanied by his friend Thomas Harrison
and a constable.
As soon as they entered the door, M. Bouilla
ran up-stairs, and arming himself with a gun, threatened to shoot whoever advanced toward him. Being blind, however, he could only point the gun at random in the direction of their voices, or of any noise which might reach his ear. The officer refused to attempt his arrest under such peril; saying, he was under no obligation to risk his life.
expostulated with the Frenchman, explained the nature of their errand, and urged him to come down and have the matter inquired into in an amicable way. But he would not listen, and persisted in swearing he would shoot the first person who attempted to come near him. At last, Friend Hopper
took off his shoes, stepped up-stairs very softly and quickly, and just as the Frenchman became aware of his near approach, he seized the gun and held it over his shoulder.
It discharged instantly, and shattered the plastering of the stairway, making it fly in all directions.
There arose a loud cry, ‘Mr. Hopper
The gun being thus rendered harmless, the Frenchman was soon arrested, and they all proceeded to the the magistrate's office, accompanied by several of the
There was abundant evidence that the child had been half starved, unmercifully beaten, and tortured in various ways.
Indeed, she was such a poor, emaciated, miserable looking object, that her appearance was of itself enough to prove the cruel treatment she had received.
When the case had been fully investigated, the magistrate ordered her to be consigned to the care of Isaac T. Hopper
, who hastened home with her, being anxious lest his wife should accidentally hear the rumor that he had been shot.
He afterwards ascertained that Amy was daughter of the white woman who had aided in thus shamefully abusing her. He kept her in his family till she became well and strong, and then bound her to one of his friends in the country to serve till she was eighteen.
She grew up a very pretty girl, and deported herself to the entire satisfaction of the family.
When her period of service had expired, she returned to Philadelphia
, where her conduct continued very exemplary.
She frequently called to see Friend Hopper
, and often expressed gratitude to him for having rescued her from such a miserable condition.