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My third trip.

I. Missouri.

  • Lynching an Abolitionist
  • -- Parkville -- Col. Park -- the mob in Court -- the victim -- evidence -- Ruffiau Law Pleas -- different modes of punishment proposed -- the Lynching done -- Riding on a rail,

Lynching an Abolitionist.

before proceeding on my third trip to the sea<*> board slave States, let me narrate one scene that I witnessed in the Far West:

On the 18th of October, 1855, I was at Parkville, Missouri. It is one of the little towns on the Missouri River, and acquired some celebrity during the troubles in Kansas.

It is built on rugged and very hilly ground, as almost all the towns on this unstable river are. It was founded by Colonel Park, a citizen of Illinois, twenty years, or more, before my visit to it. A mild, kind, hospitable, law-abiding man: one would naturally think that he — the founder of the town, the richest of its citizens, and a slaveholder, albeit, who had never once uttered an abolition sentiment — would not only have escaped the enmity, but even the suspicion, of the border ruffians of the State. But he did not escape. He owned the press and office of the Parkville Luminary, a paper which [190] supported the party, or the wing of the party, of which Benton was the peerless chief. In one number of the Luminary a paragraph appeared condemning the course of the invaders of Kansas.

Enough! The press was destroyed and thrown into the river by a mob of pro-slavery ruffians. Col. Park also got notice to leave, and was compelled to fly for his life.

I went over to Parkville from Kansas city, Missouri, to attend to some business there. I had previously made the acquaintance of several of its ruffian citizens. I rode into the town about one o'clock.

After stabling my horse, and getting dinner at the hotel, I walked leisurely through the town. I saw a crowd of about twenty men before the door of “Col.Summers' office. The Colonel —— everybody in that region has a military title — is a justice of the peace, and has never, I believe, been engaged in any martial strife. I went over to the office.

“Hallo! Mr. R.,” said a voice from the crowd, “here's an item for you.--Let's liquor.”

It was Mr. Stearns, the editor of the Southern Democrat, the pro-slavery successor of the Parkville Luminary.

After the usual salutations, he informed me that an Englishman, named Joseph Atkinson, had been arrested by his honor, Judge Lynch, charged with the crime of attempting to abduct a negro girl, and that the crowd were awaiting the arrival of a witness before deciding how to punish the accused.

I looked into the office to see the doomed abolitionist.

“It's the way of the world,” I thought; but I didn't speak my thought aloud! “Here am I, whose [191] sins, in the eyes of Southrons — if they only knew it — are as scarlet of the reddest sort; free, a spectator, nay, even honored by being specially invited to drink by a band of ruffians, who, in a few minutes, will tar and feather this man, guilty only of a single and minor offence!”

I held my tongue; for, says not the sage that though speech be silvern, silence — divine silence — is golden?

There were about fifteen persons in the room, which had the ordinary appearance of an out-West justice's office, with a green-covered table before the magistrate's desk, a home-manufactured book-case, with the usual limited number of sheep-bound volumes on its shelves, forms around the sides close to the walls, a few second-hand chairs here and there, a pail of water in the corner, a bottle redolent of “old rye” near his honor's seat, and dust, dirt and scraps of papers everywhere about the floor.

I closely scrutinized the persons in the room, but signally failed to recognize the prisoner.

He was pointed out to me. He was sitting on a low form, leaning slightly forward, his legs apart, whirling his cap, which he held between his hands, round and round in rapid revolution. He kept up, at the same time, a very energetic course of chewing and expectoration. No one would have suspected his critical situation from his demeanor or the expression of his face. I never saw a man more apparently unconcerned.

He was a fair complexioned, blue eyed, firmly knit, rather stupid looking man, about twenty-five years of age. He was a ropemaker by trade, and had worked near Parkville for five or six weeks past. [192]

It appears that he tried to induce a negro girl, the “property” of Widow Hoy, to go with him to St. Louis, where he proposed that they should spend the winter, and then go together to a Free State. This programme shows how stupid he must have been, or how totally ignorant of Southern institutions, and the manner in which they are supported by their friends. The girl agreed to go, but wished to take a colored couple, friends of hers, along with them. He did not seem at first to like the proposition, but finally agreed to take them with him. The day of flight was fixed. The colored trio's clothes, it is said, were already packed up. They intended to have started on Saturday, but the secret came to the knowledge of a negro boy — another slave of Mrs. Hoy's, to whom also the girl's married friends belonged — who instantly divulged “the conspiracy” to his mistress. Measures were taken, of course, promptly and effectually to prevent the exodus. A committee of investigation was appointed to watch the movements of the ropemaker, and to procure evidence against him from the implicated negroes.

Atkinson's colored mistress and the married couple were privately whipped, and the punishment was relentlessly protracted, until they openly confessed all they knew.

The committee of investigation--all men “of property and standing” in the county — patrolled the streets for two successive nights, watching the steps of the girls and Atkinson. Has Freedom such devoted friends in the Free States?

The Englishman was then arrested, and sternly interrogated. He gave evasive and contradictory versions of his connection with the girl: which was [193] criminal both in point of morals and in the Southern social code.

He said enough, his self-constituted judges thought, to criminate himself — and such extorted testimony, however perverted, however contradictory, is as good as gospel (and, indeed, a good deal better) in all trials for offences against the darling institution of the Southern States.

Thus the matter stood when I joined the crowd.

After a private conversation between the members of the committee, the rabble entered the office, and soon filled the forms and the vacant chairs.

Ruffian Lynoh Law Pleas.

Col. Summers opened the meeting, by alluding to the circumstances that had called them together. There was a kind of property in this community (he said), guaranteed to us by the Constitution and the laws, which must not be tampered with by any one.

“Dammed if it must,” whispered a hoarse, brutal voice beside me.

“It was as much property to us,” he continued, warming with his glorious theme, “as much property to us as so many dollars and cents — it was our dollars and cents in fact — and so recognized by the statutes of Missouri and the Constitution of the United States. Evidence had been obtained against the prisoner,” he added, after this eloquent and learned exordium, “from negroes, which agreed with his own statement minutely enough to convince him” --the speaker--“that Atkinson was guilty, What is to be done with him, gentlemen?” he asked, “shall we merely drive him out of our city” --population 600--“and thus let him go unpunished? I'm opposed to that course, [194] gentlemen, for one,” he said; but with adroit non-committalism, he added, “I would like this meeting to decide what to do with him.”

Major Jesse Summers was next called on. A very “solid” man is Major Jesse Summers. Weight, I should judge, about ten tons avoirdupois! No military reputation hath the fleshy Jessie; never did he head a bold brigade; never did he drill a gallant company; but the rank and the title — or the title less the rank — of a major, no less, hath the ponderous Jesse Summers. Not having resided very long among them, he said, he had not wished to appear prominently in this matter. A judicious man, you see, is Major Jesse Summers. “But,” he continued, “as his opinion on this subject was expected, he thought that if all the committee were satisfied that the person arrested was guilty of this crime, of which” --said Jesse--“I have no doubt myself individually,” he, Jesse, was of opinion, “that they ought to give him a coat of tar and feathers, and let him go.”

Murmurs of applause greeted Jesse, as he resumed his seat: which he received with a greasy smile.

Mr. Stearns--his title I have forgotten — then called on every one of the committee to express their opinion of the prisoner's innocence or guilt.

Each of the committee, one by one, every one--for no dodging is permitted when slavery's interests are at stake — arose, and pronounced him, in their opinion, guilty of the crime with which he stood charged.

guilty! “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, to all the inhabitants thereof.” We read that God thus spoke. Did he order, then, the commission of a crime? No doubt of it, the ruffians would insist! [195]

When the committee sat down, Mr. Stearns again rose. Stearns is a lawyer. This, he said, is an extrajudicial case! It is not provided for in the statute book. It devolves on the meeting, therefore, to--

Set him free, if no law is violated? No. “To say,” said Stearns, “what punishment shall be inflicted on the prisoner. The major had suggested that he be tarred and feathered, and started out of town. What had they to say to that? He moved that the prisoner be so punished.”

The motion was seconded, and put.

It was carried, of course, as a harder punishment would as easily have been, if the major or any other solid citizen had made the suggestion.

Mr. Stearns--“The meeting has decided that the prisoner be tarred and feathered.”

Mr. Hughes, a brutal ruffian, added--“And lighted.”

Another hoarse voice exclaimed: “Let's hang him; it's too good for him.”

[Does the reader know what lighted means? The proposition was to set the tar on fire, after it covered the body of the prisoner. A mind that could conceive so devilish a suggestion, is a fit and worthy champion of slavery.]

“Hang him!” shouted several voices.

Mr. Stearns interposed. “No, no, gentlemen!” he said. “Tar and feathering is quite enough on nigger evidence.”

This adroit phrase satisfied nearly all, but several still seemed disposed to maintain that negro evidence, as against abolitionists, was as good as good need be.

Up jumped Capt. Wallace, a fierce, very vulgar-looking [196] bully, with a pistol stuck conspicuously in his belt. “I move,” he shouted, “that he be given fifty lashes.”

Another fellow moved that it be a hundred lashes.

By the influence of Mr. Stearns, these motions were defeated.

During all this discussion the prisoner still chewed his tobacco, and twirled his cap, as careless, apparently, as if it was of no interest or consequence to him.

He never spoke but once — when the sentence was announced — and then he had better held his tongue.

“D — n me!” he said quietly, “if ever I have anything to do with a negro again!”

“ Better not!” was the captain's fierce suggestion.

An executive committee was appointed, and the meeting adjourned.

The Lynching done.

Some of the committee went for tar, and some for feathers, while the rest of them stood sentinels at the door of the room. Tar enough was brought to have bedaubed the entire population of Parkville, including the women, the little children and the dogs; feathers enough to have given the prisoner a dozen warm coats, and left sufficient for a pair of winter pantaloons.

“Now!” said Capt. Wallace to Atkinson, in a savage tone, “now, stranger, to save trouble, off with your shirt!”

With imperturbable coolness, and without opening his lips, the prisoner doffed his linen and flannel. As he wore neither vest nor coat, this ceremony was speedily concluded. [197]

“He's obedient!” said one of the crowd; “it's best for him!”

“He's got off too d — d easy,” said a second.

“ That's a fact,” chimed a third.

By this time the prisoner was entirely naked, from the loins upward.

“Come out here,” said Captain Wallace, “we don't want to smear the floor with tar.”

Silently and carelessly Atkinson followed him.

A ruffian named Bird, and the wretch who proposed to burn the prisoner--birds of a feather — then cut two paddles, about a yard long (broad at one end), and proceeded slowly, amid the laughter and jests of the crowd, which Atkinson seemed neither to see nor care for, to lay the tar on, at least half an inch deep, from the crown of his head to his waist; over his arms, hands, cheeks, brow, hair, armpits, ears, back, breast, and neck. As he was besmearing Mr. Atkinson's cheeks, one of the operators, bedaubing his lips, jocularly observed, that he was “touching up his whiskers,” a scintillation of genius which produced, as such humorous sparks are wont to do, an explosive shout of laughter in the crowd. All this while the only outward sign of mental agitation that the prisoner exhibited, was an increased and extraordinary activity in chewing and expectorating.

“Guess you've got enough on — put on the feathers,” said an idle member of the executive committee.

“You're doing it up brown,” said a citizen encouragingly to the operators.

“Yes, sur,” chirruped Bird, as he took hold of the bag of feathers, and threw a handful on the prisoner's neck. [198]

“Pour them on,” suggested a spectator.

“No, it's better to put them on in handfuls,” said another voice.

Four ruffians (all men of social position,) took hold of tile ends of two long poles, of which they made a rude St. Andrew's cross.

“Sit on there,” said Mr. Hughes, pointing to the part where the poles crossed, and addressing the prisoner.

“Why, they're going to ride him on a rail,” said a voice beside me.

“Serves the d — d scoundrel right,” returned his companion.

“Yes,” replied the voice, “he ought to be hanged.”

“He's very right to do as he's bid,” observes a man near the prisoner, as Atkinson calmly put his legs over tile poles. “Best for him.”

The tarred-and-feathered victim was then raised in the air; each of the four citizens putting the end of a pole on his shoulder, in order to render the prisoner sufficiently conspicuous. They carried him down the main street, which was thronged with people, down to the wharf, back again, and through several of the smaller streets.

Just as the grotesque procession — which it would require the graphic pencil of a Bellew to do justice to — was passing down the main street, amid the laughter and jeers of the people, a steamer from St. Louis stopped at tie wharf, and I ran and boarded her. When I returned, the prisoner had been released. He was put over the river that night. [199]

Ii. A journey in Virginia.

Boston to Alexandria.

Alexandria, May, 14.--I left our quiet Boston on Monday evening by the steamboat train; spent Tuesday in hurrying to and fro, in the hurly-burly city of New York; on Wednesday afternoon, I paced the sombre pavements of the Quaker City; while to-day I have visited the City of Monuments, and the City of Magnificent Distances and of innumerable and interminable perorations and definitions of positions. I intended to stay for a time in Washington; but ran through it, like Christian out of Vanity Fair, praying to be delivered from the flocks of temptations, which hover, like ghouls, in and around the executive mansion and the capitol of our republic.

Sail to Alexandria.

Having thus, with expeditious virtue, resisted all offers of official position, I entered the ferry boat — George Page, by name — which plies between the capital and the city of Alexandria. It rained heavily and incessantly all the forenoon. Alexandria is ten miles from Washington by water, but I saw very little of the scenery. What I did see was in striking contrast to the banks of the Delaware. Freedom has adorned the Delaware's sides with beautiful villas, and splendid mansions, surrounded by gardens and [200] fields, carefully and scientifically cultivated; while slavery, where the national funds have not assisted it, has placed negro cabins only, or ordinary country-houses, to tell of the existence and abode of Saxon civilization.

After doling out to the captain of the boat, each of us, the sum of thirteen cents, we were landed at the wharf of Alexandria; and our feet, ankle deep in mud, stood on the here miry, ill-paved, but sacred soil of the Old Dominion.

First impressions.

Presently, we entered a Virginia omnibus — of Virginia manufacture — lined and with seats of the very coarsest carpeting — with panels dirty, glass dirty, and filthy floor — drove through dirty, ill-paved streets, seeing dirty negro slaves and dirty white idlers — the only population visible — and were halted in front of the City Hotel. The omnibus and its surroundings had so affected my physical organization, that I immediately called for a bath. But I found that there is not a public bath in all Alexandria. It rained heavily still. Blue-spirited, I sat down in the bar-room, and read the papers.

The county papers.

Alexandria supports two daily papers, the Sentinel (Democratic) and Gazette, (American). Both languish so decidedly that a “consolidation,” would not make one flourishing journal. Of a number of paragraphs, significant as indications of the overwhelming success of slave society, the present state of Virginia and its cause, or as curiosities of the Southern press and people, I subjoin the extracts following:


Reasons for Declining.

In the Northern States, when a candidate declines to run, it is generally because he believes he would be beaten if he did. J. W. Patterson, of this county, has declined from a very different motive — because popularity, prosperity and hospitality, are incompatible in Virginia. He says:

To the Voters of Fauquier Co.--
I am induced by a number of considerations, to withdraw from the position I occupy as candidate for a seat in the next House of Delegates of Virginia. In the first place, I find that a man has to quit all private business, if he would become popular. Secondly, that every small deed of kindness, the loaning of money even as a business transaction, or any act that good citizenship and good neighborship imposes, is entirely perverted, and attributed all to selfish motives, for electioneering purposes, etc. . . . I have many warm friends, I believe, but I hope they will excuse me for declining now; but I am at all times ready to serve the public and private interests of the country when called on.

Your most obedient servant,

A slave girl's Revenge.

Conceal or deny it as they may, the slaveholders must feel the truth of Mr. McDowell's declaration, that “slavery and danger are inseparable.” Such evidences as this paragraph gives, are too serious to be sneered at or overlooked:

“Nancy, slave of Mr. Seth Marsh, has been arrested in Norfolk for attempting to poison the family of Mrs. Reid, milliner, residing on Church street, by whom she was hired. It was shown that oxalic acid had been mixed in with some food which the girl had been cooking for the family.” [202]

There are evidences, also, in every paper I pick up, of the beneficial effect of Northern free emigration. Wherever the free colonists settle, up goes the price of land forthwith. Here is an illustration:

Rise of real estate.

Mr. Seth Halsey, a few days since, sold his farm of 600 acres near Lynchbury, Va., to Mr. Barksdale, of Halifax, for $45 per acre. He purchased it several years ago of S. M. Scott, for $27 per acre.”

In the county of Prince George, land, it appears, is equally valuable.

The Planter's Advocate notices the sale of a farm in Bladensburg District, consisting of one hundred and ninety-one acres of unimproved land, for $3,247--seventeen dollars per acre.

Another farm, near Patuxent City, Charles County, near the dividing line, was sold for $8,000; another still, in the same neighborhood, for $41 per acre.

The Advocate contains another paragraph, which I cheerfully subjoin, as illustrative of the happy effects of the extension of slavery over virgin territories, in raising the price of Personal Estate in the Southern section of the Republic. The price of slaves in Fairfax County is the same as here given.

Sale of servants.--

A. H. Chew and R. B. Chew, administrators of the late Leonard H. Chew, sold, on Thursday last, part of the personal estate belonging to the deceased, consisting of several servants. The sales were as follows:

One woman and two small girls sold for $1,450, and were purchased by E. G. W. Hall, Esq.

Boy, about 15 years of age, sold for $915, and was purchased by Wm. Z. Beall, Esq. [203]

Small boy sold for $700, and was purchased by Daniel C. Digges, Esq.

Girl, about 14 years of age, sold for $900, and was purchased by John F. Pickrell, Esq., of Baltimore.

Two small girls sold, one for $880, and the other for $550, and were purchased by Mrs. A. H. Chew.

My room.

Tired with the bar-room and the county papers, I asked to be conducted to my room. It is one of a series of ten, contained in the upper part of a wing, one room deep, the lower or ground part of which is either the cooking establishment or the negroes' quarters. It runs into a spacious yard, and my window commands an exhilarating view of the stables and out-houses. No. “35” is painted on the door, apparently by some ingenious negro, who, unprovided with a brush, conceived and executed the happy idea of putting his fingers into a pot of white paint, and then inscribing the desired figures on the panels. As a work of art, it is a great curiosity.

The black man who conducted me to my room, as soon as I permitted him — which I did not do until my soul had drank in the beautiful chef d'oeuvre of the unknown and perhaps unhonored artist — opened the door, and presented the interior of No. 35 to my astonished vision, and its multitudinous odors to my indignant olfactory organs.

Like Moses, I am a meek man. It requires a powerful combination of circumstances to excite indignation in my heart. This view — these odors — I confess, excited me.

“This is infernal,” I mildly remarked. [204]

The room is of good size, nearly square, with two windows and a high ceiling — as excellent, in these respects, as nine-tenths of the hotel rooms, or hotel cells, in the city of Boston. But in every other respect, I believe that all Boston — I even venture to say New England--cannot match it or approach it.

The window that looks into the balustrade has evidently been undisturbed by water, cloth or brush for several months past. By placing your hand, flat on the outside, you can secure an accurate delineation of it, quicker than a daguerrean artist could take it. Inside, it is embellished with innumerable indications of the transient visits of last year's flies — little dots, like periods, you know, which are familiar, I doubt not, to all good housewives, and their industrious helps. There are rollers inside to hang the curtains on, but no cords with which to pull them up or down. The curtain — an oil painted one--adorned with an old chocolate-colored castle, pea-blue hills, yellow rocks, and trees and shrubberies, with foliage like Joseph's coat — of many colors — is pinned on the rollers, and irregularly at that; its base describes an acute angle, and it is so hung as to leave one-half of a bottom pane of glass uncovered; for the purpose, I presume, of enabling the darkeys to watch the conduct of visitors when they feel so inclined.

The first object that presented itself to my astonished gaze on entering the room, was a nameless vessel, appropriate to sleeping apartments, which the servants had placed in as conspicuous a position as if it had been a glass globe containing gold-fish. The papering of the room was variously bedaubed and torn; the window opposite the door was nearly as dirty as its mate; a dirty, old, sun-stained curtain, [205] of colored calico, unhemmed, and torn in seventeen different places, hung mournfully over it. I went over to put this curtain to one side, in order to look out, but found that there was no means of holding it. I have had to stick my penknife into the window-frame, in order to hold it back, and get light, as the other curtain is hopelessly beyond my efforts. Were I to put it up, or tear it down, it would be necessary to clean the window for light to penetrate its present thick, sombre covering of dirt.

The window-frames and mantel-piece, once, I faintly guess, painted of a light color, are in keeping with their dirty surroundings.

The fire-place holds a little, rusty grate; the plastering immediately around it is nearly all knocked off; and the rest of it is covered with tobacco juice, and bears the marks of dirty boots. I don't know but I'll buy the fender, and send it to Kimball. It is of copper, weighing about two pounds, but is so bent up, covered with verdigris and tobacco juice, that, until one lifts it up and examines it, it is impossible to tell what manner of metal it is of.

A dirty slop-pail, with a broken wire handle, a dirty mirror hung like the curtain, a couple of the cheapest kind of chairs, a good bedstead and ward robe (locked, however), a cheap dressing-table, and a dirty little pine table to hold the washbowl, completes the inventory of this room in a Virginia hotel. There is a tradition, the negro tells me, that the ceiling was once whitewashed. I do n't believe it.

After looking at the other rooms, I found that I had better, after all, remain content with No. 35. In Virginia. 207


Talk with a slave girl.

“How much do girls hire for here?”

“I gets six dollars a month.”

“I ow old are you?”

“ Don‘ no.”

“Are you free?”

“No, I b'longs to Miss----.”

“Have you any children?”

“Yes, I's got two.”

“How old are they?”

“Sal, she's six, and wash, he's three.”

“Where is your husband?”

“I'se not married.”

“I thought you said you had children?”

“So I has.”

“Is your mistress a member of the church?”

“Yes, course she is.”

“Didn't she tell you it was wrong to get children, if you were not married?”

“No, ob course not,” was the simple and rather angry answer.

“What did she say, when your children were born?”

“Did n't say nuthina.”

I presume Miss----, acts on the precept, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Her charity for her slaves is great, and verily it covereth a multitude of sins!

Eli Thayer's scheme.

May 15.--I have had a conversation with a prominent politician of the town, on the plan of Eli [207] Thayer, to colonize Virginia by free white laborers. He launched out into an ocean — or perhaps mud-puddle would be the apter phrase — of political invective against the “black republicans and abolitionists of the North.” He regarded Mr. Thayer as a braggadocio — a fool — or a political trickster — who merely threatened Virginia for effect at home. He couldn't think he was in earnest. I told him that Stringfellow and Atchison had said that had it not been for Mr. Thayer, and his Emigrant Aid scheme, Kansas ere this would have been a slave State.

“Then, sir,” said the politician, sternly, “if he comes to Virginia with such a reputation, he will be met as he deserves — expelled instantly or strung up.”

He did not believe that a single responsible citizen of Virginia would aid or countenance his scheme of colonization. He did not believe that Virginia had contributed $60,000 of stock to the Company. Mr. Underwood was an impertinent intermeddler; he had been always kindly treated in Virginia, although his free-soil sentiments were known; but, not content with that, he must go to Philadelphia, pretending to be one of us, and, if you please, sent by us to the black republican convention, and make a speech there, indorsing a party whose single idea and basis of organization was hostility to the Southern people and to Southern institutions. Did I suppose the Southern people would endure that? “They repelled him, justly,” said the politician, “as justly as our forefathers would have punished by death a traitor who should go from their camp to assist the British in their efforts to conquer the colonies.”


Virginia political society.

He had as little patience with a free soiler as an abolitionist. One had done as much as the other to excite the just indignation of the South. The Black Republicans talked of hemming slavery in, and making it sting itself to death, like a serpent. Why should the southern man be prevented from going to the common play-ground of the nation with his--(I thought he would have said toys for slaves, but he called them)--property? The North might force the South to dissolution, but never to non-extension of slavery.

He was often amused, he said, in reading the Black Republican papers. They would talk about the limited number of slaveholders, and ask whether this little oligarchy should rule the nation. Why, sir, the non-slaveholders are more opposed to abolitionism and Black Republicanism than the slaveholders. And they have cause. Liberate the negroes, and you put them on a level with the white man. This result might not disturb the nerves of a Northern man, because there were so few negroes in their section; but here, where they constituted a great class, it was a different thing. The two races could not live in harmony; one must rule the other. Put Theodore Parker, or any other fanatic, in a society where the two races were nearly equal in numerical force, and you would soon make a good pro-slavery man of him. Where there is freedom, there must be disputes about superiority. There is no dispute between the two races here. I own a nigger. There can be no dispute about our rank. So of the non-slaveholder. He's white, and not owned by any one. He does n't [209] wish that condition disturbed by any intermeddling northerner.

There has been a great change in the sentiments of the people of Virginia on the subject of slavery, within the last few years: but not in favor of emancipation. No, sir! All the other way. I recollect my father going about with a petition in favor of giving the government — the National Government — the power to abolish it. Any man who would attempt that now would be tarred and feathered. The intermeddling of the North has caused us to look more deeply into this subject than we were wont to do. Sir, we hold that servitude is the proper and legitimate condition of the negro; it is evidently the position His Maker designed him for; and we believe, sir, that he is happier, more contented and more developed in slavery — here in the southern States--than in any other part of the world, whether in Africa, Europe, or the Northern States.

This change in public sentiment is continually going on — always in favor of perpetuating the institution as it is. You will find my statements verified in every county you may travel in.

This gentleman is a respectable and prominent citizen of Alexandria. I call him a politician, because our conversation was of that character, rather than on account of his profession. His views are very generally diffused among all classes here.

I asked him whether, if Northern people were to settle here — from the New England States--they would be likely to be annoyed on account of their sectional birth?

He said that numbers of New England people were settled here; and, as they were sound on the [210] slavery question, or quiet, they were not disturbed. If Northerners were sensitive, he thought that they would often be annoyed by conversational remarks — for, especially during times of election, denunciation of the North had become a habit of conversation. He made the remark I have italicized as if it was a matter of course — nothing surprising, nor a circumstance to be lamented.

He said that if persons from the North, with free soil sentiments, came here to settle, they must certainly refrain, even in conversation, from promulgating their ideas, as they would undoubtedly be lynched or banished if they did.

Inly querying whether this was liberty, and whether Virginia was a State of a Republic, I turned the conversation, and went from his presence.


Was originally in the District of Columbia; but, within a few years, has been organized, with a few miles adjoining, into the county of Alexandria. The county is the smallest in the Commonwealth, and is almost exclusively held in small lots, on which market produce is raised.

Alexandria contains a population of from seven to ten thousand, as nearly as I can guess; for it is impossible to learn anything accurately here. Several men whom I have asked, have variously stated its population at from six to thirteen thousand inhabitants.

The first characteristic that attracts the attention of a Boston traveller in entering a southern town, next to the number, and the dull, expressionless appearance [211] of the faces of the negroes — is the loitering attitudes, and the take-your-time-Miss-Lucy style of walking of the white population. The number of professional loafers, or apparent loafers, is extraordinary.

Talk with a slave.

In coming from Washington, on the ferry-boat, I had a talk with one of the slaves. I asked him how much he was hired for.

“I get $120--it's far too little. The other fellows here get $30 a month — so they has $21, and they only pays $10 for me.”

“Why do you work for so little, then?” I asked, supposing, from what he said, that he was a freeman.

“I's a slave,” he said.

“Are the others free?”

“No, sir, but they hires their own time. Their mass'r takes $120 a year for them, and they hires out for $30 a month, and pays $9 for board — so they has $6 a month to themsel'es. I works as hard as them and I does n't get nothina. It's too hard.”

“Why do n't you hire out your time?” I asked him.

“Kase my missus won't let me. I wish she would. I could make heaps of money for myself, if she did.”

“Why won't she let you hire your time?”

“Oh, kase she's a queer ole missus.”

“What do your companions do with their money when they save it?”

“Oh, guess they sprees.”

“Would you if you had money?” [212]

“No, sir.”

“Do any of your friends save their money to buy their freedom?”

“Some on them as has a good chance has done it.”

“What do you call a good chance?”

“When our owner lets us hire our time reasonable, and ‘lows us to buy oursel'es low.”

“What is the usual pay for laborers?”

“$120 or so — we as follows the water gets more. I won't foller it another year, ‘kase it's too confinina; but I'd allers foller it if my missus ‘lowed me to hire my own time.”

“What is paid to white laborers?”

“Same as colored, unless they's a boss, or suthina extra,”

“Suthina extra,” I presume, meant mechanics, who receive, in Alexandria, $1 50 a day; carpenters $2: printers get from $8 to $10, by the week. Over at Washington, they are employed by the piece, but work, they say, is precarious and fluctuating. [213]

Iii. Fairfax county.

  • Alexandria
  • -- final views -- Suburbs of Alexandria -- a small farm -- cost of slave labor -- an absentee farm -- farming in Virginia -- talk about Free labor -- Irishmen in Virginia -- Irish Girls as helps -- Northern emigrants -- notes by the way -- talk with a slave -- a nigger's worth a hundred dollars first time he can holler,

Fairfax Court House, May 17.--I left Alexandria this morning, on foot, to see how the country looked, how the people talked, the price of land, the mode of living, and the system of agriculture now in vogue in this very fertile section of Virginia.

I regret to state that repeated walks through the city of Alexandria compel me to adhere to my first impressions of that lazy town. It is a dull, dismal, dirty, decrepit, ill-paved, ill-swept, ill-scented place. It has slowly increased in population, and its real estate has greatly risen in value, since the opening of the railroads which now terminate there, and since the incorporation of another line now in course of construction.

With one-tenth of the natural advantages it possesses, if Alexandria had been situated in a Northern State, one hundred thousand souls would now have been settled there.

Suburbs of Alexandria.

For three or four miles around Alexandria, the country is as beautiful as beautiful can be. I walked through it “like a dream.” The day was exceedingly pleasant — a soft, warm zephyr was blowing from the south — almost ponderous, at times, with [214] the perfume of blossoms, shrubbery and flowers; the clear blue sky, variegated with fleecy clouds, in every variety of combination as to color and form — the shining waters of the apparently tranquil Potomac, visible and beautiful in the distance — cultivated fields in the valley and running up the hill-slopes, studded with houses, and interspersed with innumerable strips of forest in full foliage — made a landscape, a terrestrial picture, of almost celestial charms and other-worldly perfection.

A small farm.

For two or three miles on the road I travelled, the land is chiefly held in small sections, and devoted to the culture of market produce.

I entered the house of one of these small farmers. It was a one-and-a-half-story frame, old, and in need of repair; it had been whitewashed, and had rather a shiftless looking aspect generally.

The farmer's wife — a bustling Yankee-ish woman — was at home; the old man was in town with the produce of his fields.

I asked her how many acres there were in her farm, and whether she would sell it?

She said there were fifty-nine acres, of light sandy soil; that they cultivated sweet potatoes and market produce, almost exclusively. She didn't believe her old man would sell it; certainly not less than $100 an acre. Land had risen in value very much indeed within the last few years. Her brother William, however, had a farm on the Leesburg road, that he wanted to sell--“Well, he war n't in any hurry about it, either,” but she reckoned he mowt come to terms [215] with me — it were a first-rate farm, too, and she believed it would just suit me.

“How many hands do you employ to keep your farm in order?”

“Well, my husband, he keeps four hands besides himself; he's in town a good deal, but we employ three niggers and a white foreman, all the time on the farm.”

“And you keep a woman to assist you?”


“What do you pay for your negroes?--do you hire them, or do you own them?”

Cost of slave labor.

“Oh, no, we don't own none: we hire them from their owners, by the year. Field hands--first rate hands — get from $110 to $128; and we pay about from eighty to ninety dollars for boys.”

“What do you call a boy?”

“Well, a nigger from — say seventeen to twenty-two; pretty much, often, according to their strength. We count some hands, men, younger than others.”

“What do you have to pay for women?”

“I pay seventy-five dollars for this gal, and then her doctor's bill, if she gets sick, and her clothes.”

“What do you reckon her clothes worth 2”

“Well, we have to give them, both field hands and house-servants, two summer suits and a winter suit. That's what's allowed them by law, but most of them have to get more. We most always have to give them four suits a year.”

“How much does it cost you to clothe a house-servant?” [216]

“Well, about fourteen or fifteen dollars a year, or so.”

“And field hands?”

“Field hands cost about the same, or not much more than women. Their summer suits cost very little, and we clothe the niggers in winter in what we call Virginny cloth; it's coarse stuff, does very well, and do n't cost a great deal.”

“Their pants, vest, and coat are all made out of the same stuff, are they?”


“What do you manure your farm with?”

“ Guano, stable manure, and lime.”

I asked her a great many other questions — quite enough, and a few to spare, to show that I had lived in Boston — but she could not give me any reliable information in relation to agricultural subjects.

She showed me her garden. Tulips and a great many other flowers are in full bloom; the cinnamon rose is bursting its buds; gooseberries are as large as a bean, or larger; nearly all the apple trees have cast their blossoms. Every tree, without exception, is covered with foliage; grass is a foot high, and in some places two or three feet. Every grove is vocal with birds.

An absentee farm.

Further on--three miles and a half from Alexandria — is the farm of Mr. David Barber, of New York, an absentee proprietor, which is rented from year to year, by Mr. Lee.some, a Virginian, who was also the agent, I ascertained, to sell it to the highest or the earliest bidder.

After mature reflection, I concluded that it might [217] pay me to buy it, if I could spare the money, and the price was reasonable. I accordingly went up to the house to make the usual preliminary investigations.

It is an old, large, once-whitepainted house, which, like the edifice we read of in sacred writ, is set on a hill that it cannot be hid. It is built on what a Yankee would call, “quite” a knoll — to-wit, a high knoll, and commands a most beautiful prospect of hill, and dale, and water.

A country portico — I had nearly said shed--extends along the entire front of the dwelling. The Venetian blinds on the room windows were shut, and, judging from the thick deposit of dust upon them, had been shut for several months past.

I modestly rapped on the door which stood hospitably open. A young negro girl, six or seven years old, came out of an adjoining room, looked at me steadily but vacantly, did not condescend to open her sombre-colored lips, but retired as she entered, without warning, and silently as death.

In a moment or two afterwards a young mother entered, a woman of twenty-six or twenty-seven, pale, rather pretty, blue-eyed, modest-seeming, and, as conventional writers phrase it, very lady-like in her deportment.

“Good morning, madam”--here your polite correspondent, as in duty bound, “doffed his tile,” with most “exquisite” grace.

“Good morning, sir,”

“I understand that this estate is for sale?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I've called to make some inquiries about it.”

“Please sit down, sir.” [218]

Your correspondent did so--first glancing around the room, and wondering whether or not it is not quite as easy to keep everything in order as to cultivate untidiness; but he could not reply, having never studied Heaven's first law himself — only seen it in successful operation in New England households.

“How many acres have you?”

“Two hundred and fifty-three.”

“How much do you ask for it?”

“It is n't ours; we only rent it; it belongs to a New York gentleman; he offers to sell it for ten thousand dollars.”

(I inly whistled, as my plan of buying it vanished into thinnest air at this tremendous announcement.)

“What rent do you pay for it?”

“$250 a year.”

“How many acres of wood have you?”

“Fifty, or thereabouts — most of it is swamp.”

“How many rooms are there in this house?”

“Seven and a kitchen.”

I asked her some other questions, but she referred me to an old man who was working — planting corn — down in a field near the line of railroad.

I went down to him.

There are two high knolls on the farm, which are formed of a gravelly soil. On the knoll south of the master's house, is an old, large log hut--an Uncle Tom's cabin — of three rooms; at the bottom of the knoll is a stable, requiring renovation, capable of holding eight horses and two tons of hay, and a barn which is calculated to accommodate fifteen cows and twenty tons of hay. The soil, except on the knolls, is a light, rich, clayey loam.

It would take at least $500 to renovate the farm-buildings [219] and the house; while the fences are sadly dilapidated. The whole farm requires refencing.

I went down to the field. A young negro man was ploughing, and a black boy of fourteen, very small of his age, was assisting the old man in planting.

I asked him several questions about the farm which it is unnecessary to repeat here. He said he kept ten cows; might keep twenty if he “choosed ;” but there was no spring on the farm, and water was n't quite handy.

I thought, what a very insurmountable obstacle that would have been to a Yankee--a good swamp near at hand, and a chance to double his profits-but declined “because water was n't quite handy!”

Farming in Virginia.

He said he had only a rent from year to year; Mr. Barber would n't give him a lease, because he calculated to sell it, and only allowed him to cultivate twenty-five acres a year, in this order — corn, oats, clover, pasture.

The swamp was valuable, but the farm was n't fenced near the railroad, or it would be worth fifty dollars more rent a year. Sometimes he raised fifty bushels of corn to the acre, but he did not average over thirty-five bushels. It took two men and a boy to cultivate these twenty-five acres and attend to the cows. He gave $80 a year for the young man — he was worth more than that, though — and twenty-five dollars for the boy. First rate field hands, that could cradle and mow, and good teamsters, brought as high, in this neighborhood, as $130 a year.

Between this farm and Alexandria, lie said, land was selling as high as one hundred dollars an acre. [220] He considered this farm the cheapest in this part of the country, the way land appears to be going now. It took four horses to cultivate this farm.

His estimate of the cost of clothing slaves was the same as the lady's of the other farm. Virginia cloth, he said, cost eighty-seven and a half cents per yard.

Talk about Free labor.

I asked him if he would not prefer free labor? He said if he had a farm of his own, and everything as he wanted it, he would not employ a single slave.

I asked him if he could not get free laborers here?

“Yes,” he said; “you can hire Irishmen, as many as you want, from ten to twelve dollars a month.”

“Why do n't you employ them, then?”

Irishmen in Virginia.

“Well, for several reasons. First, there are too many slaves, and that induces us to hire them. It's the custom, and you can order slaves about. You can make them do a job on Sunday, or any time when you want to; but the Irish, when they come to this country, get above themselves--they think they are free, and do just as they have a mind to!! Then, again, they are very much given to drink, and they ‘re very saucy when they ’ re in liquor.”

“What about the Virginians?”

“They'll not submit to be hired by the year.”

“Why not?”

“Well, I do n't know; it's the custom, some how.”

“Is n't it because slaves are hired by the year, and they do n't want to appear to be bound like slaves?”

“Very probable. Now, you can't hire a Virginia girl to do any housework.” [221]

“How do the Virginian free laborers work?”

“Some of them,” he said, “work very well; but, as a general thing, you can't hire them to work on a farm.”

I told him that if any of my friends came down here to settle, I should advise them to bring their Northern laborers with them. lie said it would be the best and most profitable thing they could do, and advised me to go and see a Mr. Deming, a New York farmer, who had come into this neighborhood recently, and employed free laborers only.

I asked the lady of the house if she could hire white servants.

Irish Girls as helps.

She said, “Yes, you can hire Irish girls for four and five dollars a month.”

“Cheaper than slaves?”


“Why don't you hire them, then?”

“Because, when you hire a slave, if you like her, you can hire her from her master for seven or eight years, or as long as you like; but, if you hire an Irish girl, if she do n't like you, she will leave sometimes in less than a month, or stay all winter and leave you in the spring, just as your busy time is about commencing.”

Northern emigrants.

I visited Mr. Deming's farm, and walked over it. He has been here about four years. He paid $27 per acre for the farm, which contains a long one-and-a-half story house, a barn and other outbuildings, a good orchard and a garden. He had devoted his [222] attention chiefly to a nursery, which he planted when he first came here.

This farm was one of the run-out estates, which Eli Thayer & Co. propose to “rejuvenate, regenerate and redeem.” This experiment augurs well for Eli's great enterprise. It costs less--Mr. Deming says — to redeem worn-out estates than to hew down the aboriginal forests; and their value, after that, very seldom approaches an equality. Nearer markets, nearer civilization, the Virginia farms are much more valuable than Western claims.

Mr. Deming had found the experiment of free labor to work well; he finds little difficulty in procuring it; and it is much more profitable in every respect. In every direction around him the same experiment is in course of trial.

I am indebted to Mr. Deming and his wife for hospitable entertainment. and much valuable information.

Notes by the way.

After dinner at Mr. Deming's, I rode back to Alexandria, for a valued casket I had forgotten, but immediately returned and resumed my journey afoot and alone. The further you leave Alexandria behind, the land becomes less beautiful and less cultivated. I subjoin these notes as the results of my talks and observations on the road to Fairfax Court House.

Northern farmers first began to settle in this county in 1841. At that time, this section, now one of the most fertile in the State, was desolate and sterile, and the question was seriously discussed whether it could ever again be cultivated. The [223] Northerners bought up the run-out farms, and immediately began to renovate the soil. Fertility reappeared — the wilderness began to blossom as the rose. Virginia farmers began to see that there was still some hope for their lands, and immediately commenced to imitate and emulate their Northern neighbors. The result is a beautiful and fertile country — fertile and beautiful, too, in exact proportion to the preponderance of Northern population.

At Falls Church, seven miles from Alexandria, where a colony of Northern farmers settled, land is higher now than in any other part of the county at the same distance from the city.

The Northerners first introduced guano, now so usefully employed in redeeming and fertilizing the farms in this State.

This is the uniform testimony of every one, white or black, that I talked with.

The Virginians have a good deal yet to learn from the Northern farmer. I saw a large farm — of some two or three hundred acres--yesterday, which consisted of two fields only — the road running through the centre of the estate and thus dividing it. There were patches of different produce in these mammoth fields-pasture, wheat, oats and clover.

I asked how they managed to “bait” their cattle on the clover pasture, without endangering the wheat.

Why, send a nigger out to watch them!”

Fifty acres of land, three or four miles from Alexandria, sold recently for $57 50 per acre.


Talk with a slave.

When within two or three miles of this place, I met a stalwart negro, very black, of whom I asked the price of land.

He said that some was as low as $30 an acre, and that it ranged from that price to $100: that it had risen very high since the Northern folks came in. This he said without a leading question, but he added instantly--

“Dey soon learns Virginny's tricks.”

“What do you mean?”

“Why, dey soon's hard on collud folks as Virginians.”

“I have heard that,” I said, “but was unwilling to believe it.”

“Well, mass'r,” he said, “it's a fac; dey soon holds slaves, and sells him, too, after dey stays here a while.”

“Are you a married man?”

“Yes; I'se gwane to see my wife now.” [He told me she lived some five or six miles off.]

“Is it true that the Virginians sometimes separate families of colored people?”

“Oh,” he said, vehemently, as if surprised at such a question, “it's as common as spring water runs.”

“Quite common?”

“As common as water flows,” he said. “Why, dey'll sell a chile from its moder's breast, as it were — dey does do it; I'se seen it done, dat berry ting.”

“What induced any one to do that?”

“Why, sometimes favorite collud woman's chile die, and missus will buy anoder of somebody else's.”

“How much do they get for a sucking child?” [225]

“A darkey's worth a hundred dollars as soon as he kin holler — dat's what de white folks say bout here.”

“At the North,” I said, “when your masters come there, they say they never separate families.”

“Oh!” he ejaculated, “just you stay few month in Virginny, and you'll soon see it done hundords of times.”

I have seen it done repeatedly — in Virginia, and many other Slave States.

I must add one remark of this negro, which is a sign of the times. Talking of the Northerners in this section, he said:

“ Some on ‘em, maybe, is agin slavery; but dey's on de light side.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked.

“Why, de Constitution is in de oder scale agin us, and de Northern folks here's too light agin it.”

This theory — Garrison's Ethiopianized — was probably gathered from some “Only” Wise politician's speech, or allusions to the Federal Constitution. [226]

Iv. Fairfax county.

  • Fairfax Court House
  • -- a white slave -- his story -- Northern Renegades -- price of Inanimate real estate -- Free and slave labor -- a Virginian on Yankees -- system of farming -- amalgamation -- hordes of Abolitionists, perhaps, in Virginia,

at A farmer's House in Fairfax county, May 18.--Fairfax Court House, from which I dated my last letter, is a village of four or five hundred inhabitants — of what the Western people, in their peculiar idiom, call the “one horse” order of municipalities. It contains a court house, built of brick, one or two churches, half a dozen houses, on the outskirts of the village, built in rather a tasteful style, three taverns of the most decrepit and dilapidated aspect, and several stores which present the same unsightly and haggard appearance. It supports a paper, called the Fairfax County News, from the last but one issue of which I learn — and the fact is recorded as a thing to be proud of — that the people of the South, and especially of Virginia, abhor and detest that “sickly philanthropy” which seeks to abolish punishment by death. No doubt of it. For do n't they cherish and inculcate that healthy benevolence which sells husband from wife, and children from parents?

A white slave.

I arrived at Fairfax Court House, as the village is called, on Saturday evening, about sunset, and immediately put up at the best hotel. I noticed at supper, that the young man who waited on the guests, was so nearly white and fair in his complexion, that he [227] might easily have passed for an Anglo-Saxon, if his hair, which was light, but slightly curly, had not betrayed his demi-semi-African origin.

After supper, he showed me to my room — a large, high room, without a shred of carpet, and no other furniture than a chair, a very small washstand, a bed and a 9 × 12-inch Yankee looking-glass.

I asked my demi-semi-colored conductor if there were many Northern people settled in this vicinity?

He said: “Yes, there's a good many; two of the heirs to the estate are Northern men who married two of Mr. W----'s daughters; they are worse on us than the Virginians--one of them put me in jail once, and he was a great big abolitioner, too, when he come here.”

This abrupt and slightly unintelligible answer and autobiographical incident, induced me to ask him to tell his story. He promised to come up after bed time, as lie would probably be suspected if he staid with me now.

I was very tired with my walk and ride, and so I went to bed, and was soon sound asleep. And behold, I dreamed a dream. I was talking.

“Oh, sir! can't you invent some plan so that I need n't be a slave all my life?”

“A slave!”

“Yes, sir,” said a plaintive voice; “can't you invent some way so that I can get to be free?”

I awoke and found that the slave was kneeling over me, with his hand around my neck. I had been talking in my sleep, sympathizing with him, cursing the slaveholders, and had touched his heart, unconsciously to myself! He said I had been talking about him, as if I was speaking to somebody else. I was [228] too tired to talk to him much. I only asked him--

“Who is your master?”

“I belong,” he said, “to the Estate: but am going to be divided in June.”


“Yes, sir,” he said, “we all on us is to be divided among the heirs — there's eight on ‘em — in June, and I's afeard I'll fall to one of the Northerners!”

Next morning he told me his story, in reply to my questions. I took it down in stenographic notes. Here it is:

His story.

I belong to the estate of W----. I will be twenty-one, I think it is in June. (I have seldom known a slave to know his age positively.) My mother was a light-colored mulatto; she was a house-servant with old Mr W----. His son R----was my father. Old W----died about a month before last Christmas. The estate holds me and my mother too. There are eight heirs — all children of old Mr. W----.

W----had twenty-four slaves. We are to be divided this coming June. I do n't know who I am going to. There are two on them I would n't like to go to, ‘kase they would not let me be free. Some of the heirs gave me a note to go round among the heirs, to see if they would not set me free, and not be divided; bekase I was the old man's waiter all my life, and they knowed who my father was.

(This “note,” he explained, was an agreement, intended to be signed by each of the heirs; and, if so signed by all, would have secured the poor boy's freedom.) [229]

----, one of the Northern men who married one of my master's daughters, proposed this plan when the old man was living; but after the death of the old man, they both changed their minds, thinking I might come to them. These Northern men used to talk to the old man that I ought to be free. After his death they ‘posed it. All the Virginians, every one of them, are in favor of setting me free.

I am hired to this man for a hundred and twenty dollars a year.

“Would you like to be free?”

“Yes, sir, I would that. I do not get any money — not a cent--‘cept what gentlemen I wait on chooses to give me. I have hardly time to change my clothes, let alone anything else. If I was free I would like to stay here if the law ‘lowed me, but it wo n't ‘low me. I would have to go to Canada, or some'eres else. I couldn't live in a slave State. My mother has no other child but me. She is rather browner than I am.”

I would respectfully transmit and submit to our prominent anti-slavery politicians, the interrogatory, heart-broken and vital, of the poor white slave:

“Oh, sirs, can't you invent some plan so that the slave need n't be in bondage all his life?”

When I see slavery as it is, and hear the poor bondmen talk, I feel my republicanism rapidly going out of me, and radical abolitionism as rapidly flowing in.

Price of (Inanimate) real estate.

Before leaving the village I was making some inquiries concerning the price of landed estate. A stranger came up to me and asked if I wanted to [230] buy. I told him I wanted to find out the price of land, but did n't calculate to buy just at present. He said he had three or four farms for sale, on commission, of which he gave the following description:

No. 1 is within two miles of Fairfax Court House. It consists of 140 acres. Twenty-five acres are in timber. It is a stiff, red clay soil. There are several springs on the farm; a comfortable log house, containing five rooms, with a kitchen detached. The farm is divided into two or three fields. Fencing pretty good. No barn, but a stable. Price twenty-five dollars an acre.

(Fairfax Court House is fifteen miles from Alexandria.)

No. 2 consists of one hundred acres. It has fifteen acres of timber. Fifty acres are bottom land — a rich sandy loam: thirty-five acres of upland have a stiff, red clayey soil. A large creek runs through the farm, and it has about twenty different springs. It is divided into five fields. The outside fence is good; the inner fences need repairing. It has a good house on it, of seven rooms — kitchen in the basement--ten years old; and a good barn of 16 × 40 feet. It is nine miles from Georgetown, on the only road now passable. The bridges have been swept away on the others. Price, $35 an acre.

He has three other farms for sale, at from $15 to $40 per acre.

I asked him the reason why so many farms were for sale.

“Well, the emigration to Kansas and the South is one cause, and another reason is that a great many northerners who came down here, were too greedy [231] to make money; they laid too much money out in buying land, and didn't leave a reserve fund to repair and improve on. They calculated to pay part out of the farm, but did n't keep enough to bring it up. Some Northerners are in as prosperous condition here as in any Northern State. Them that don't come here to speculate, but settle down, do n't buy beyond their means, and go to work, get on well. There's plenty round here who came down with small means, bought a small tract, and kept adding to it, that are independent. Others have been ruined by speculation.”

“Are there many Northern families in this county?”

“Yes, there are eight or nine hundred families — chiefly from York State, now and then a few from Pennsylvania, and occasionally one from Vermont.”

I asked the price of farm stock. He said good work horses ranged from $160 to $170, sometimes $150. He said that if Northern men came down to settle here they had better bring their horses with them — it would be economical for them to do it. Two wealthy men from the North had moved into this neighborhood a month ago, and brought all their stock with them.

Cows are worth thirty dollars, and oxen, one hundred and twenty-five dollars a yoke. It would pay to bring them from the North here to sell them. Northern cattle brought as high, he said, as from a hundred and fifty to a hundred and seventy-five dollars. They are better broke, and last better than Virginia-raised cattle; so are Northern horses — we feed too much grain to ours. He said Northern emigrants had better bring all kinds of agricultural [232] implements, except heavy things — such as ox-plows, carts, and the like.

Free labor and slave labor.

I asked whether free or slave labor was the most profitable here?

He said, “Slave labor, because you can get it whenever you want it. Some Northern farmers brought their laborers with them, but they soon got dissatisfied, and left. They found they had no one to associate with but those they came with, and they left. Then again, if you are pressed for work, you can't get white laborers, and have to employ slaves, and white men won't work with them. So you are brought down to the nigger again. Small farmers are working with white laborers, and do very well.”

A Virginian on Yankees.

“When the Yankees come down, can't you get them to work?”

“The further,” he said, “you go North, the more industrious the men are. They are obliged to work to get a living. But when they come here they deteriorate--in other words, they get lazy, and they are always inventing something or other to get shut of work. Now, a nigger has none of that inventive faculty, and you get work out of him by hard knocks and clumsiness.”

“But the Germans,” I remarked, “are industrious workers?”

“Yes,” he said, “but you must get them that don't know much — the greener the better--one that doesn't understand the English language, and can't learn more than what you want him to do, is the best!”


System of farming.

Two or three miles from Fairfax Court House, on the road to Centreville, Virginia, I met a man and a boy carrying pails of water. I found he was a farmer, and asked how many bushels they could raise to an acre. He said an average crop was five or six barrels. (They estimate by barrels here — a barrel is five bushels.)

“What is the average price of land between here and Centreville?”

“Wall,” he drawled out, “say between fifteen and thirty dollars per acre.”

I asked him what system of cultivation they adopted here.

“Wall, we take a crop of wheat, say, or oats, and then sow it with clover, and let it lay two or three years.”

I asked him if they had never tried the system of rotation of crops and manuring.


“Do all cultivate in the way you describe?”

“Yes,” said he, “most of them; they all ought to, but some take a crop every year, and run the land out. That has been the system in these parts until quite recently — within seven or eight years.”

“Who introduced the change?”

“The Northern people,” he said. “Since they came, they have carried up and restored a great deal of land, and taught us to do it, too.”

“There are a good many Northern people coming in here — are there not?” I asked him.

“No,” he answered, “not so many buyers as there used to be.” [234]


“Because a great many's sold out, and gone back agin.”

He gave the same reason as the stranger at the hotel.

The country in this section (I am within a mile of the western line of the county) is beautiful in most parts, and apparently very fertile. All that it needs is men who know how to till the soil, without exhausting its strength. Centreville is a hamlet of twenty or thirty houses. As I entered it, yesterday afternoon, half-a-dozen negroes were playing at ball--Sunday is their holiday — and over twenty white loafers were congregated in different parts of the place. Of their domestic industry I saw not the faintest indication, excepting only several very handsome mulatto women and children. Every house in the hamlet looks as if it could recollect Noah, when he was a sucking child, and had been inhabited by ladies of the Mrs. McClarty tribe from time immemorial.

On my way from Centreville hither, I saw rye in the ear. The woods look very beautiful.


The abolitionists, it is well known in Congress — I mean in the Democratic ranks — are, all of them, negro-worshippers and amalgamationists. If they alone, or chiefly, are the fathers of mulattoes, Fairfax county, Henrietta county, and every part of Virginia I have visited, are infested with these dangerous inhabitants. The number of semi-black children, men and women, that one meets with here, is extraordinary. [235]

Colored children and white children play together in the street — openly in the light of day — and they associate without concealment in the house; whites and blacks talk together, walk together, ride together, as if they were men and brothers.

Why is Governor Wise so silent on this dangerous indication of the amalgamation and equalization-ward tendency of Southern society?

What say our Northern Democracy to these negrofraternizing Southern brethren?

I pause for a reply. [236]

V. Fauquier county, etc.

  • Prince William county
  • -- facts -- education and Theologism -- a Free colored farmer -- ignorance of people -- negro driving of horses -- in H el! -- need of white labor -- Charlottesville,

Prince William county.

Warrenton, Fauquier county, May, 18,--I have walked, to-day, across Prince William county, on the turnpike road, from Centreville to Warrenton. Prince William county is a small one. It has a population of over 5,000 whites, 2,500 slaves, and 550 free negroes. It has a thousand dwellings. Its annual educational income is $695! Only 316 pupils attend the public schools. Seven hundred and eighty-four white adults can neither read nor write, and nearly two thousand youths, between five and twenty years of age, are in the some benighted state of ignorance. The county, however, has church accommodations for nearly five thousand souls. It is evident, therefore, that although the people's minds must be dark, their souls have a very fair chance for salvation. That's a great comfort.

The county is divided into 579 farms, valued, with improvements and implements, at $1,499,886; and containing 104,421 acres of improved, and 72,343 acres of unimproved land. It produced, when the last census was taken, 57,728 bushels of wheat, 59,549 of rye and oats, 161,248 of Indian corn; and 10,374 of Irish and sweet potatoes; 96,679 lbs. of [237] butter and 2306 tons of hay, were the principal additional items in the list.

So far Mr. Gradgrind.

A Free colored farmer.

The first person I met, after crossing the line, was a hearty old man of color, who was engaged in repairing his neighbor's fence. Yankee-like, the first sentence I uttered, on seeing him, was an interrogation. I asked him the price of land. lie said that a neighbor had recently bought a farm, adjoining his place, for $26 an acre. He would n't swap his even, no how, either as buyer or seller. If I wanted to buy, however, lie would sell me his farm, of one hundred and fifty acres of excellent land, for $20 an acre.

I asked him if lie was a free man, and why he wanted to sell. He said — Yes, he was a free man. His father was one of nine hundred and ninety-nine slaves, once the property of Mr. Carter, who liberated every one of them, and secured to them the right to remain in the county. Slaves who are freed now, lie added, have to leave the State, or go to Washington and remain there a year to get their papers. His wife was there now. Her year was almost out, and he intended to go after her as soon as it expired.

I asked if she was a slave, or had he bought her. lie said she had been a slave, but her master freed her by his will. The master was an old bachelor — never married — but had a lot of children by a black woman. His wife was one of these children. He offered him five hundred dollars for her when she was quite young, but he said he would never sell her — he knew what stock she came from — but would [238] liberate her when he died. On this promise the relator married her, and had several children. Meanwhile her mother refused any longer to cohabit with the bachelor, and, to use the colored man's phrase, he took up with an out woman — a white woman — but lie did not marry her. She, also, bore him several children. On his death, he left the narrator's wife and all her daughters free, but bequeathed her two sons — his grand-children--“to this out woman,” with the proviso that she should sell them to their father if he wanted to purchase his (and the testator's) own flesh and blood. The “out woman,” however, sold them to the traders, who handed them over to their father in consideration of eighteen hundred dollars, one thousand of which had already been paid.

The old man said lie wanted to sell his farm in order to raise the balance, and to pay some other debts, now due, that he had recently incurred.

I went up to his farm and looked over it. It is very good soil, indeed; commands a beautiful prospect, and is cultivated as well as Virginians know how.

I asked him if there were many Northerners settled here? “Yes,” he added, “a good many;” and pointed out the farm of one gentleman from New Jersey. He said the Northerners, somehow, made more money, raised better crops, and worked less to do it, than “we Virginians.” Somehow, he thought, after they were here awhile, they seemed to get an idee of the land, and make it do ‘sactly as they wanted to. “The Northerners didn't own slaves. They said slaves cost too much. You buy one, pay a thousand dollars for him ; he goes off, and fights or sprees, and the first thing you know your thousand dollar's dead!” [239]

The old man did not think himself that slave labor paid, and believed it would be better for the white men, as well as the negro, if slavery was instantly and everywhere abolished.

I was too tired, when I talked with him, to report his remarks stenographically, as I generally do. I regret it now, for his idiom was exceedingly unique and humorous. If Mrs. Partington ever meets him she will have to hide her diminished head forever.


The ignorance of both the poor whites and blacks is almost incredible; even to the traveller who has daily and astonishing evidences of it. I have sometimes asked negroes who have lived near a village all their life, if they knew what its population was; and they could not understand what population meant nor — when explained to them — could they answer my question. Like Socrates, they seemed “only to know that they knew nothing.”

I asked an Irish woman and some poor whites, where a railroad — which passed by their cabins — terminated. They could not tell me. It was an uncompleted line, I afterwards found — this was in Fairfax county--which had been stopped for want of funds, although intersecting a very fertile region, and running into the mining districts.

“Sir,” said a gentleman in conversation on this subject, “if the road to heaven went by their front door, they could n't tell you the way there to save themselves from----!”


Negro-driving of horses.

The country is less cultivated — along the turnpike, at least — wood is more plentiful, the fields far larger, and the scenery less beautiful, the nearer you approach to Fauquier county.

The first place I came to was a hamlet of a dozen houses, called Gainesville, on the Manassas Gap Railroad, where I asked the price of land of a workman in a field close by. Another white man and a negro woman were working with him. He said, that in this part of the country, land ranged from eight to twenty-five dollars an acre, but advised me, if I wanted to buy, to go further back into the country.

“How many bushels of corn do you raise to an acre?”

“Well, we don't average more than three barrels--nor that often.” (Fifteen bushels.)

“Are there many northern people settled round here?”

“No, sir. Lots down at Brentsville, though.”

Let the traveller go to Brentsville, and he will find land higher, and crops more abundant there. So much for free labor.

It began to rain heavily, and I was induced to hasten my steps.

I soon overtook a wagon drawn by six horses, and driven by a negro. I never saw such a wagon in my life before. It was twenty feet long, broad and very deep. It was covered with a sailcloth, which partly protected it, and was higher at both ends than at the middle.

I got into the wagon first, and then into a talk with the negro. [241]

In Fauquier county, he informed me, “most all de farms was big again as in Prince William; most on them was seven, eight or nine hundred acres.”

His master holds eighteen slaves. “Our farm,” as he proudly styled his master's plantation, “had seven hundred acres. They raised four or five hundred barrels of corn and two thousand bushels of wheat last year. Farms,” he said, “were getting very high in ole Fauquer county. Mass'r bought forty acre las' year and lie paid forty dollars an acre.”

He rode the near horse, and held a heavy cowhide in his hand, with which, from time to time, he lashed the leaders, as barbarous drivers lash oxen when at work. Whenever we came to a hill, especially if it was very steep, lie dismounted, lashed the horses with all his strength, varying his performances by picking up stones, none of them smaller than half a brick, and throwing them with all his force, at the horses' legs. He seldom missed.

The wagon was laden with two tons of plaster in sacks.

This is a fair specimen of the style in which slaves treat stock.

Thus it is that wrong begets wrong, and that injustice is unprofitable as well as unrighteous.

The wagon turned off the turnpike about three miles from Warrenton. We had passed through two or three hamlets — New Baltimore and Buckland I remember — but they did not afford anything worthy of notice.

I walked, through a drenching rain, to Warrenton, which is a pleasant country village. In entering it, I asked for the best hotel. I was directed down the [242] street. On looking up at the swinging sign, I read, with astonishment, this horrible announcement, equally laconic as impious and improper:


Nothing daunted, I ventured, with perfect recklessness — or in the spirit of the Six Hundred of Balaklava — into the very month — the open door-way — of this terrestrial “H El.” Astonished to find a room in it without a, fire, I instantly ordered one, “regardless of consequences.” And here I am, for once, in a very snug old room, with a blazing wood fire, as comfortable as a Boston traveller can be, at so great a distance from the old folks to hum and the mellifluous nasal melody of New England pronunciation.

Richmond, May 23.--Warrenton is a pleasant little village, situated in the centre of Fauquier county. I arrived there late in the afternoon, tired, drenched and muddy, and left by the early train on the following morning. It was still raining when I took my departure; so I had no time to collect statistics of the price of land, or any incidents of social life and country customs. I had a talk with a Virginian at the hotel on politics, and Eli Thayer's scheme of colonization. He said that in Eastern Virginia, in consequence of the tactics of politicians and the ignorance of the country editors — who took for granted [243] whatever figures or opinions their leaders advanced--Mr. Thayer would probably meet with resistance at the outset; but, in Western Virginia, where slavery was weak, and a free soil feeling had long been predominant, he would be welcomed, he believed, with open arms, and realize his most sanguine hopes of pecuniary success, if the affairs of the organization should be managed by shrewd and experienced business men.

He said that white labor was becoming so scarce and high, that every emigration from the North was felt to be a blessing to the State. In the present canvass, he added, candidates were openly advocating the repeal of the law of expatriation against freemen of color. This was done, I gleaned, from no sense of justice, but owing solely to the scarcity of labor.

We waited at the junction nearly half an hour before the train from Alexandria came up. When I entered these cars, I found myself entirely blockaded, on every side, with gentlemen in black suits and snowy white cravats. It was a delegation of clergymen to a Denominational Convention. “A man is known by the company he keeps.” Fearing to be mistaken for a wolf in lamb's clothing — in other words, for a pro-slavery divine — I got out at Gordonstown, and went on to Charlottesville; instead, as I intended, of going to Richmond, by the nearest route and in the quickest time.


An accident detained me at Charlottesville two days. It is situated in a charming valley — fertile, wooded, watered well — with cultivated bills rising [244] from the plain, and snow-capped misty mountains in the western background. The village, too, is the prettiest, it is said, and one of the most thriving in Virginia. The College founded by Jefferson is situated there. It rained almost incessantly all the time I was there. The soil is exclusively a red stiff clay, which, when the rain subsided for an hour, rendered walking exceedingly unpleasant to attempt, and impossible when tried.

Yesterday I left the village for Richmond — distance, about ninety miles. The fare is four dollars, and the time six hours. We passed miles adjoining miles of worn out land, producing only hedge broom, stunted shrubbery and grass, when, by scientific culture and a little labor, it might be heavy with tobacco or the cereal grains. There is a great field open here for Northern intelligence and Northern industry. [245]

Vi. Richmond.

  • Richmond
  • -- Christian advertisements -- a sign of the times -- the slave auction room -- the auctioneer -- a boy sold -- “been examining her” -- “how niggers has riz” -- Jones and Slater -- a mother on the Block -- a young Spartan maiden -- a curse on Virginia,

Richmond, May 24.--Charleston excepted, and also, perhaps, Montgomery in Alabama, “Romehilled Richmond” is the most charming in situation or in outside aspect, of all the Southern cities that I have ever visited.

It is a city of over 20,000 inhabitants — the political, commercial, and social metropolis of the State--well laid out, beautifully shaded, studded with little gardens — has several factories, good hotels, a multiplicity of churches, a theatre, five daily papers, a great number of aristocratic streets, with large, fashionable, but not sumptuous residences; and, to crown all, and over and above all, it has four or five negro pens and negro auction-rooms.

A slave sale.

I saw a slave sale to-day. The advertisement subjoined, announcing it, appeared in the Richmond Enquirer and Richmond Examiner.

auction sales.

this day.

by Dickinson, Hill & Co., Auctioneers.

10 negroes.--Will be sold by us, this morning at 10 o'clock, 10 likely negroes. may 24

Dickinson, Hill & Co., Aucts. [246]

auction sales.

by Pulliam & Davis, Auctioneers.

8 negroes.--This day, at 10 o'clock, we will sell 8 likely negroes, Men, Boys, and Girls. may 24.

Pulliam & Davis, Aucts.

Dickinson, Hill & Company, body-sellers and body-buyers, “subject only to the Constitution,” carry on their nefarious business in Wall street — I believe its name is — within pistol shot of the capitol of Virginia and its executive mansion. Near their auction-room, on the opposite side of the street, is the office of another person engaged in the same inhuman traffic, who has painted, in bold Roman letters, on a signboard over the door:

E. A. G. Clopton
For Hiring Out Negroes,
Renting Out Houses.

Both negroes and houses, by the laws of Virginia, are “held, adjudged and reputed” to be property! This is Southern Democracy!

At ten o'clock there was a crowd of men around the door of the auction-room, but it was nearly eleven when a mulatto man came out, and vociferously shouted--“This way, gentlemen, this way — sale's ‘bout to begin — sale's ‘bout to begin — gentlemen wishina to buy, please step into the room inside.”

I entered the auction-room. It is a long, lamp, [247] dirty-looking room, with a low, rough-timbered ceiling, and supported, in the centre, by two wooden pillars, square, filthy, rough-hewed, and, I assure you, not a little whittled. At the further end of it, a small apartment was partitioned off, with unpainted pine boards, and the breadth which it did not cover was used as a counting-room, divided from the larger one by a blue painted paling.

The walls of the auction-room were profusely decorated with tobacco stains, which, by their form, number and variety, indicated that they had been hastily ejected from the human mouth — sometimes, by poets, styled divine. Handbills, which plainly showed that--“Negro clothing,” “Servants' wear,” “Negro blankets,” and other articles of servile apparel, were for sale by various merchants in town, served, with the tobacco stains, to render the walls exceedingly attractive to a Northern eye. Rough, and roughly used pine forms extended around the room, and partly into the body of it, too. In the centre, four steps high, is a platform — a Southern platform, a Democratic platform, a State Rights platform — where men, women, children, and unweaned babes are daily sold, by Dickinson, Hill & Co., “for cash” or “on time,” to the highest bidder.

I saw a number of men enter the inner room, and quietly followed them, unnoticed. The slaves — the males — were there. What do you think, my conservative reader, is the object of the little room? I will tell you what was done. The slaves were stripped naked, and carefully examined, as horses are — every part of their body, from their crown to their feet, was rigorously scrutinized by the gallant chivalry who intended to buy them. I saw one unfortunate [248] slave examined in this way, but did not care to see the mean, cowardly and disgusting act performed on any other.

After a time they were brought out. The auctioneer — a short, thick-set, gross-eyed, dark, and fleshy fellow — who was dressed in black, opened the sale by offering a boy of twelve or fourteen years of age.

“Gentlemen,” --he said, in accents that seemed to be very greasy--“I offer you this boy; he is sound and healthy, and title warranted good — What d'ye offer, gentlemen?”

“Eight hundred dollars.”

“Eight hundred dollars bid--eight hundred dollars--(he talked very fast)--eight hundred dollars--eight hundred dollars--eight hundred and fifty--thank you--eight hundred and fifty dollars bid--eight”--

“Nine hundred.”

“Nine hundred dollars bid--nine hundred dollars--nine hundred dollars--nine hundred dollars--gentlemen, he's a first-rate boy”--

“Come down here,” said the mulatto, who is Dickinson's slave, I believe, “come down.”

The boy came down.

“Please stand out of the way, gentlemen,” cried the mulatto, to a number of men who stood between the platform and the counting-room.

They did so.

“Now you walk along to the wall,” said the slave to the other article of commerce--“now hold up your head and walk pert.”

The boy did as he was directed.

“Quick — come — pert — only there already?-- [249] pert!” jerked out the mulatto, to hasten the boy's steps.

The crowd looked on attentively, especially those who had bid. He mounted the President — I mean the platform — again, and the bidding was resumed with greater activity.

“Well, gentlemen,” said the body-seller, “you see he's a likely boy — how much do you bid?”

“Ten,” said a voice.

“Nine hundred and ten dollars bid--nine hundred and ten — nine hundred and ten — nine hundred and ten — nine hundred and ten--nine hundred and ten dollars bid--nine hundred and ten”--


“Nine hundred and twenty dollars bid--nine hundred and twenty dollars--nine thirty--nine hundred and thirty dollars--nine hundred and forty — nine forty's bid--nine hundred and forty dollars--nine forty — nine forty — nine fifty — nine fifty — nine hundred and fifty — nine hundred and fifty — nine hundred and fifty — nine hundred and fifty--nine hundred and fifty dollars--nine hundred and sixty--nine hundred and sixty dollars.”

“Seventy,” said a voice.

“Nine hundred and seventy dollars--nine hundred and seventy dollars”----


“Nine hundred and seventy-five dollars,” said the auctioneer.

“He's an uncommon likely boy,” chimed the auctioneer's mulatto.

A chivalrous Virginian mounted the steps of the platform. “Open your mouth,” he said. The Article [250] opened its mouth, and displayed a beautiful, pearly set of teeth.

“You all sound?” asked the white.

“Yes, massa,” said the boy.

“ Nine eighty,” said the white.

“Five,” said another, who stood beside him.

“Ninety,” said the other white.

“Nine hundred and ninety,” exclaimed the auctioneer--“nine hundred and ninety dollars-nine hundred and ninety dollars ”--

“D — n it,” said a man at my side, “how niggers has riz.”

“Yes, sir,” said his old white-haired companion, “I tell you, if a man buys niggers now, he has to pay for them. That's about the amount of it.”

“Nine hundred and ninety dollars--all done at nine hundred and ninety dollars?--nine hundred--and--nine-ty dollars — go-ing at nine — hundred and nine-ty dollars — and-gone — if no one bids-nine hundred and ninety dollars--once--nine hundred----and----ninety, a-n-d ”

He looked round and round in every direction, but no one moved, and he plaintively added--

“ Gone!”

This boy was one of those unfortunate children who neber was born, but are raised by the speculators, or are the offspring of illicit connections between the Saxon and African races. He was of a brown complexion — about one-third white blood. He was dressed in a small check calico trowsers, and a jacket of a grey color. The whole suit would not cost more than three dollars; but it was new, clean and looked very tidy.

The next Article disposed of was a young man, of [251] similar complexion, twenty years old, muscular, with an energetic and intelligent expression. One thousand dollars was the first bid made. He was sold to “Jones & Slater,” who are forwarding agents, I was told, of animated merchandise to New Orleans. I hunted up their office after I left the auction-room. It was shut. It is situated in the congenial neighborhood of a cluster of disreputable houses.

The third article offered was a very black, low-browed, short, brutal looking negro, for whom nine hundred dollars only was bid. He was not sold. So also with several others.

A woman, with a child at her breast, and a daughter, seven years old, or thereabouts, at her side, mounted the steps of the platform.

The other sales did not excite my indignation more than the description of such a scene would have done; certainly — had I never visited a slave auction-room before — a great deal less than some narratives would have done. These men and boy were too brutal in their natures to arouse my sympathies. Besides, they were men, and could escape by death or flight, or insurrection; and it is a man's duty, I hold — every man's duty — to be free at every hazard or by any means.

But the poor black mother — with her nearly white babe — with the anxiety of an uncertain future among brutal men before her — and the young girl, too, now so innocent, but predestined by the nature of slavery to a life of hard labor and involuntary prostitution — I would have been either less than a man, or more, to have looked on stoically or with indifference, as she and her little ones were sold.

Twelve hundred and fifty dollars were bid for her, [252] but she was not sold. She was worth, a Virginian told me, “fifteen hundred dollars of any man's money.” I don't doubt it. The Christian Theology tells us that she was once, vile and lowly as she may be, deemed worthy of an infinitely greater price than that. She was “warranted sound and healthy,” with the exception of a female complaint, to which mothers are occasionally subject, the name and nature of which was unblushingly stated.

She was taken into the inner room, after the bidding commenced, and there indecently “examined” in the presence of a dozen or fifteen brutal men. I did not go in, but was told, by a spectator, coolly, that “they'd examined her,” and the brutal remarks and licentious looks of the creatures when they came out, was evidence enough that he had spoken the truth.

The mother's breast heaved, and her eye anxiously wandered from one bidder to another, as the sale was going on. She seemed relieved when it was over — but it was only the heart-aching relief of suspense.

A young girl, of twenty years or thereabouts, was the next commodity put up. Her right hand was entirely useless--“dead,” as she aptly called it. One finger had been cut off by a doctor, and the auctioneer stated that she herself chopped off the other finger — her forefinger — because it hurt her, and she thought that to cut it off would cure it. This remark raised a laugh among the crowd. I looked at her, and expected to see a stupid-looking creature, low browed and sensual in appearance; but was surprised, instead, to see a woman with an eye which reminded me of Margaret Gardiner (whom I visited in Cincinnati), but more resolute, intelligent and impulsive. [253] She was perfectly black; but her eye was Saxon, if by Saxon we mean a hell-defying courage, which neither death nor the devil can terrify. It was an eye that will never die in a slave's socket, or never die a natural death in so unworthy an abode.

“Did n't you cut your finger off,” asked a man, “kase you was mad?”

She looked at him quietly, but with a glance of contempt, and said:

“ No, you see it was a sort oa sore, and I thought it would be better to cut it off than be plagued with it.”

Several persons around me expressed the opinion that she had done it willfully, “to spite her master or mistress, or to keep her from being sold down South.”

I do not doubt it.

A heroic act of this kind was once publicly performed, many years ago, in the city of St. Louis. It was witnessed by gentlemen still living there, one of whom — now an ardent Emancipationist — narrated the circumstance to me.

These scenes occurred, not in Russia or Austria, or in avowedly despotic countries, but in the United States of America, which we are so fond of eulogizing as the chosen land of liberty!


“ Oh Liberty! what outrages are committed in thy name!”

These verses, penned in Richmond after a slave sale, by a personal friend of the present writer, although bitter, sectional, and fanatical, when viewed from a conservative position, more faithfully and graphically than any poetry that I have ever read, [254] express the feelings of a man of compassionate and impulsive nature, when witnessing such wicked and revolting commercial transactions as the public auction of immortal human beings:

A curse on Virginia.

Curses on you, foul Virginia,
Stony-hearted whore!
May the plagues that swept o'er Egypt--
Seven--and seventy more,
Desolate your homes and hearths,
Devastate your fields,
Send ten deaths for every pang-birth
Womb of wife or creature yields:
May fever gaunt,
Protracted want,
Hurl your sons beneath the sod,
Send your bondmen back to God!
From your own cup,
Soon may you sup,
The bitter draught you give to others--
Your negro sons and negro brothers!
Soon may they rise,
As did your sires,
And light up fires,
Which not by Wise,
Nor any despot shall be quenched;
Not till Black Samson, dumb and bound,
Shall raze each slave-pen to the ground,
Till States with slavers' blood are drenched.

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