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[52] one man should be born to toil for another without wages, to be driven about, and treated like a beast of the field. The older he grew, the more heavily did these considerations press upon him. At last, when he was about twenty-five years old, he resolved to gain his liberty, if possible. He left his master, and after encountering many difficulties, arrived in Philadelphia, where he let himself on board a vessel and went several voyages. When he was thirty years of age, he married, and was employed as a coachman by Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He lived with him two years; and when he left, Dr. Rush gave him a paper certifying that he was a free man, honest, sober, and capable.

In 1799, his master came to Philadelphia, and arrested him as his fugitive slave. Ben had an extraordinary degree of intelligence and tact. When his master brought him before a magistrate, and demanded the usual certificate to authorize him to take his human chattel back to Virginia, Ben neither admitted nor denied that he was a slave. He merely showed the certificate of Dr. Rush, and requested that Isaac T. Hopper might be informed of his situation. Joseph Bird, the justice before whom the case was brought, detested slavery, and was a sincere friend to the colored people. He committed Ben to prison until morning, and despatched a note to Isaac T.

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