| The writer has often been
inquired of, by correspondents from different parts of the country, whether
this narrative is a true one; and to these inquiries she will give one
The separate incidents that compose the narrative are, to a very great
extent, authentic, occurring, many of them, either under her own
observation, or that of her personal friends. She or her friends have
observed characters the counterpart of almost all that are here introduced;
and many of the sayings are word for word as heard herself, or reported to
The personal appearance of Eliza, the character ascribed to her, are
sketches drawn from life. The incorruptible fidelity, piety and
honesty, of Uncle Tom, had more than one development, to her personal
knowledge. Some of the most deeply tragic and romantic, some of the
most terrible incidents, have also their paralle in reality. The
incident of the mother's crossing the Ohio river on the ice is a well-known
fact. The story of "old Prue," in the second volume, was an
incident that fell under the personal observation of a brother of the
writer, then collecting-clerk to a large mercantile house, in New Orleans.
From the same source was derived the character of the planter Legree.
Of him her brother thus wrote, speaking of visiting his plantation, on a
collecting tour; "He actually made me feel of his fist, which was like
a blacksmith's hammer, or a nodule of iron, telling me that it was
`calloused with knocking down niggers.' When I left the plantation, I
drew a long breath, and felt as if I had escaped from an ogre's den."
That the tragical fate of Tom, also, has too many times had its parallel,
there are living witnesses, all over our land, to testify. Let it be
remembered that in all southern states it is a principle of jurisprudence
that no person of colored lineage can testify in a suit against a white, and
it will be easy to see that such a case may occur, wherever there is a man
whose passions outweigh his interests, and a slave who has manhood or
principle enough to resist his will. There is, actually, nothing to
protect the slave's life, but the _character_ of the master. Facts too
shocking to be contemplated occasionally force their way to the public ear,
and the comment that one often hears made on them is more shocking than the
thing itself. It is said, "Very likely such cases may now and
then occur, but they are no sample of general practice." If the
laws of New England were so arranged that a master could _now and then_
torture an apprentice to death, would it be received with equal composure?
Would it be said, "These cases are rare, and no samples of general
practice"? This injustice is an _inherent_ one in the slave
system,--it cannot exist without it.
The public and shameless sale of beautiful mulatto and quadroon girls has
acquired a notoriety, from the incidents following the capture of the Pearl.
We extract the following from the speech of Hon. Horace Mann, one of the
legal counsel for the defendants in that case. He says: "In
that company of seventy-six persons, who attempted, in 1848, to escape from
the District of Columbia in the schooner Pearl, and whose officers I
assisted in defending, there were several young and healthy girls, who had
those peculiar attractions of form and feature which connoisseurs prize so
highly. Elizabeth Russel was one of them. She immediately fell
into the slave-trader's fangs, and was doomed for the New Orleans market.
The hearts of those that saw her were touched with pity for her fate.
They offered eighteen hundred dollars to redeem her; and some there were who
offered to give, that would not have much left after the gift; but the fiend
of a slave-trader was inexorable. She was despatched to New Orleans;
but, when about half way there, God had mercy on her, and smote her with
death. There were two girls named Edmundson in the same company.
When about to be sent to the same market, an older sister went to the
shambles, to plead with the wretch who owned them, for the love of God, to
spare his victims. He bantered her, telling what fine dresses and fine
furniture they would have. `Yes,' she said, `that may do very well in
this life, but what will become of them in the next?' They too were
sent to New Orleans; but were afterwards redeemed, at an enormous ransom,
and brought back." Is it not plain, from this, that the histories
of Emmeline and Cassy may have many counterparts?
Justice, too, obliges the author to state that the fairness of mind and
generosity attributed to St. Clare are not without a parallel, as the
following anecdote will show. A few years since, a young southern
gentleman was in Cincinnati, with a favorite servant, who had been his
personal attendant from a boy. The young man took advantage of this
opportunity to secure his own freedom, and fled to the protection of a
Quaker, who was quite noted in affairs of this kind. The owner was
exceedingly indignant. He had always treated the slave with such
indulgence, and his confidence in his affection was such, that he believed
he must have been practised upon to induce him to revolt from him. He
visited the Quaker, in high anger; but, being possessed of uncommon candor
and fairness, was soon quieted by his arguments and representations.
It was a side of the subject which he never had heard,--never had thought
on; and he immediately told the Quaker that, if his slave would, to his own
face, say that it was his desire to be free, he would liberate him. An
interview was forthwith procured, and Nathan was asked by his young master
whether he had ever had any reason to complain of his treatment, in any
"No, Mas'r," said Nathan; "you've always been good to
"Well, then, why do you want to leave me?"
"Mas'r may die, and then who get me?--I'd rather be a free
After some deliberation, the young master replied, "Nathan, in your
place, I think I should feel very much so, myself. You are free."
He immediately made him out free papers; deposited a sum of money in the
hands of the Quaker, to be judiciously used in assisting him to start in
life, and left a very sensible and kind letter of advice to the young man.
That letter was for some time in the writer's hands.
The author hopes she has done justice to that nobility, generosity, and
humanity, which in many cases characterize individuals at the, South.
Such instances save us from utter despair of our kind. But, she asks
any person, who knows the world, are such characters _common_, anywhere?
For many years of her life, the author avoided all reading upon or
allusion to the subject of slavery, considering it as too painful to be
inquired into, and one which advancing light and civlization would certainly
live down. But, since the legislative act of 1850, when she heard,
with perfect surprise and consternation, Christian and humane people
actually recommending the remanding escaped fugitives into slavery, as a
duty binding on good citizens,--when she heard, on all hands, from kind,
compassionate and estimable people, in the free states of the North,
deliberations and discussions as to what Christian duty could be on this
head,--she could only think, These men and Christians cannot know what
slavery is; if they did, such a question could never be open for discussion.
And from this arose a desire to exhibit it in a _living dramatic reality_.
She has endeavored to show it fairly, in its best and its worst phases.
In its _best_ aspect, she has, perhaps, been successful; but, oh! who shall
say what yet remains untold in that valley and shadow of death, that lies
the other side?
To you, generous, noble-minded men and women, of the South,--you, whose
virtue, and magnanimity and purity of character, are the greater for the
severer trial it has encountered,--to you is her appeal. Have you not,
in your own secret souls, in your own private conversings, felt that there
are woes and evils, in this accursed system, far beyond what are here
shadowed, or can be shadowed? Can it be otherwise? Is _man_ ever
a creature to be trusted with wholly irresponsible power? And does not
the slave system, by denying the slave all legal right of testimony, make
every individual owner an irresponsible despot? Can anybody fall to
make the inference what the practical result will be? If there is, as
we admit, a public sentiment among you, men of honor, justice and humanity,
is there not also another kind of public sentiment among the ruffian, the
brutal and debased? And cannot the ruffian, the brutal, the debased,
by slave law, own just as many slaves as the best and purest? Are the
honorable, the just, the high-minded and compassionate, the majority
anywhere in this world?
The slave-trade is now, by American law, considered as piracy. But
a slave-trade, as systematic as ever was carried on on the coast of Africa,
is an inevitable attendant and result of American slavery. And its
heart-break and its horrors, can they be told?
The writer has given only a faint shadow, a dim picture, of the anguish
and despair that are, at this very moment, riving thousands of hearts,
shattering thousands of families, and driving a helpless and sensitive race
to frenzy and despair. There are those living who know the mothers
whom this accursed traffic has driven to the murder of their children; and
themselves seeking in death a shelter from woes more dreaded than death.
Nothing of tragedy can be written, can be spoken, can be conceived, that
equals the frightful reality of scenes daily and hourly acting on our
shores, beneath the shadow of American law, and the shadow of the cross of
And now, men and women of America, is this a thing to be trifled with,
apologized for, and passed over in silence? Farmers of Massachusetts,
of New Hampshire, of Vermont, of Connecticut, who read this book by the
blaze of your winter-evening fire,--strong-hearted, generous sailors and
ship-owners of Maine,--is this a thing for you to countenance and encourage?
Brave and generous men of New York, farmers of rich and joyous Ohio, and ye
of the wide prairie states,--answer, is this a thing for you to protect and
countenance? And you, mothers of America,--you who have learned, by
the cradles of your own children, to love and feel for all mankind,--by the
sacred love you bear your child; by your joy in his beautiful, spotless
infancy; by the motherly pity and tenderness with which you guide his
growing years; by the anxieties of his education; by the prayers you breathe
for his soul's eternal good;--I beseech you, pity the mother who has all
your affections, and not one legal right to protect, guide, or educate, the
child of her bosom! By the sick hour of your child; by those dying
eyes, which you can never forget; by those last cries, that wrung your heart
when you could neither help nor save; by the desolation of that empty
cradle, that silent nursery,--I beseech you, pity those mothers that are
constantly made childless by the American slave-trade! And say,
mothers of America, is this a thing to be defended, sympathized with, passed
over in silence?
Do you say that the people of the free state have nothing to do with it,
and can do nothing? Would to God this were true! But it is not
true. The people of the free states have defended, encouraged, and
participated; and are more guilty for it, before God, than the South, in
that they have not the apology of education or custom.
If the mothers of the free states had all felt as they should, in times
past, the sons of the free states would not have been the holders, and,
proverbially, the hardest masters of slaves; the sons of the free states
would not have connived at the extension of slavery, in our national body;
the sons of the free states would not, as they do, trade the souls and
bodies of men as an equivalent to money, in their mercantile dealings.
There are multitudes of slaves temporarily owned, and sold again, by
merchants in northern cities; and shall the whole guilt or obloquy of
slavery fall only on the South?
Northern men, northern mothers, northern Christians, have something more
to do than denounce their brethren at the South; they have to look to the
evil among themselves.
But, what can any individual do? Of that, every individual can judge.
There is one thing that every individual can do,--they can see to it that
_they feel right_. An atmosphere of sympathetic influence encircles
every human being; and the man or woman who _feels_ strongly, healthily and
justly, on the great interests of humanity, is a constant benefactor to the
human race. See, then, to your sympathies in this matter! Are
they in harmony with the sympathies of Christ? or are they swayed and
perverted by the sophistries of worldly policy?
Christian men and women of the North! still further,--you have another
power; you can _pray!_ Do you believe in prayer? or has it become an
indistinct apostolic tradition? You pray for the heathen abroad; pray
also for the heathen at home. And pray for those distressed Christians
whose whole chance of religious improvement is an accident of trade and
sale; from whom any adherence to the morals of Christianity is, in many
cases, an impossibility, unless they have given them, from above, the
courage and grace of martyrdom.
But, still more. On the shores of our free states are emerging the
poor, shattered, broken remnants of families,--men and women, escaped, by
miraculous providences from the surges of slavery,--feeble in knowledge,
and, in many cases, infirm in moral constitution, from a system which
confounds and confuses every principle of Christianity and morality.
They come to seek a refuge among you; they come to seek education,
What do you owe to these poor unfortunates, oh Christians? Does not
every American Christian owe to the African race some effort at reparation
for the wrongs that the American nation has brought upon them? Shall
the doors of churches and school-houses be shut upon them? Shall
states arise and shake them out? Shall the church of Christ hear in
silence the taunt that is thrown at them, and shrink away from the helpless
hand that they stretch out; and, by her silence, encourage the cruelty that
would chase them from our borders? If it must be so, it will be a
mournful spectacle. If it must be so, the country will have reason to
tremble, when it remembers that the fate of nations is in the hands of One
who is very pitiful, and of tender compassion.
Do you say, "We don't want them here; let them go to Africa"?
That the providence of God has provided a refuge in Africa, is, indeed, a
great and noticeable fact; but that is no reason why the church of Christ
should throw off that responsibility to this outcast race which her
profession demands of her.
To fill up Liberia with an ignorant, inexperienced, half-barbarized race,
just escaped from the chains of slavery, would be only to prolong, for ages,
the period of struggle and conflict which attends the inception of new
enterprises. Let the church of the north receive these poor sufferers
in the spirit of Christ; receive them to the educating advantages of
Christian republican society and schools, until they have attained to
somewhat of a moral and intellectual maturity, and then assist them in their
passage to those shores, where they may put in practice the lessons they
have learned in America.
There is a body of men at the north, comparatively small, who have been
doing this; and, as the result, this country has already seen examples of
men, formerly slaves, who have rapidly acquired property, reputation, and
education. Talent has been developed, which, considering the
circumstances, is certainly remarkable; and, for moral traits of honesty,
kindness, tenderness of feeling,--for heroic efforts and self-denials,
endured for the ransom of brethren and friends yet in slavery,--they have
been remarkable to a degree that, considering the influence under which they
were born, is surprising.
The writer has lived, for many years, on the frontier-line of slave
states, and has had great opportunities of observation among those who
formerly were slaves. They have been in her family as servants; and,
in default of any other school to receive them, she has, in many cases, had
them instructed in a family school, with her own children. She has
also the testimony of missionaries, among the fugitives in Canada, in
coincidence with her own experience; and her deductions, with regard to the
capabilities of the race, are encouraging in the highest degree.
The first desire of the emancipated slave, generally, is for _education_.
There is nothing that they are not willing to give or do to have their
children instructed, and, so far as the writer has observed herself, or
taken the testimony of teachers among them, they are remarkably intelligent
and quick to learn. The results of schools, founded for them by
benevolent individuals in Cincinnati, fully establish this.
The author gives the following statement of facts, on the authority of
Professor C. E. Stowe, then of Lane Seminary, Ohio, with regard to
emancipated slaves, now resident in Cincinnati; given to show the capability
of the race, even without any very particular assistance or encouragement.
The initial letters alone are given. They are all residents of
"B----. Furniture maker; twenty years in the city; worth ten
thousand dollars, all his own earnings; a Baptist.
"C----. Full black; stolen from Africa; sold in New Orleans;
been free fifteen years; paid for himself six hundred dollars; a farmer;
owns several farms in Indiana; Presbyterian; probably worth fifteen or
twenty thousand dollars, all earned by himself.
"K----. Full black; dealer in real estate; worth thirty
thousand dollars; about forty years old; free six years; paid eighteen
hundred dollars for his family; member of the Baptist church; received a
legacy from his master, which he has taken good care of, and increased.
"G----. Full black; coal dealer; about thirty years old; worth
eighteen thousand dollars; paid for himself twice, being once defrauded to
the amount of sixteen hundred dollars; made all his money by his own
efforts--much of it while a slave, hiring his time of his master, and doing
business for himself; a fine, gentlemanly fellow.
"W----. Three-fourths black; barber and waiter; from Kentucky;
nineteen years free; paid for self and family over three thousand dollars;
deacon in the Baptist church.
"G. D----. Three-fourths black; white-washer; from Kentucky;
nine years free; paid fifteen hundred dollars for self and family; recently
died, aged sixty; worth six thousand dollars."
Professor Stowe says, "With all these, except G----, I have been,
for some years, personally acquainted, and make my statements from my own
The writer well remembers an aged colored woman, who was employed as a
washerwoman in her father's family. The daughter of this woman married
a slave. She was a remarkably active and capable young woman, and, by
her industry and thrift, and the most persevering self-denial, raised nine
hundred dollars for her husband's freedom, which she paid, as she raised it,
into the hands of his master. She yet wanted a hundred dollars of the
price, when he died. She never recovered any of the money.
These are but few facts, among multitudes which might be adduced, to show
the self-denial, energy, patience, and honesty, which the slave has
exhibited in a state of freedom.
And let it be remembered that these individuals have thus bravely
succeeded in conquering for themselves comparative wealth and social
position, in the face of every disadvantage and discouragement. The
colored man, by the law of Ohio, cannot be a voter, and, till within a few
years, was even denied the right of testimony in legal suits with the white.
Nor are these instances confined to the State of Ohio. In all states
of the Union we see men, but yesterday burst from the shackles of slavery,
who, by a self-educating force, which cannot be too much admired, have risen
to highly respectable stations in society. Pennington, among
clergymen, Douglas and Ward, among editors, are well known instances.
If this persecuted race, with every discouragement and disadvantage, have
done thus much, how much more they might do if the Christian church would
act towards them in the spirit of her Lord!
This is an age of the world when nations are trembling and convulsed.
A mighty influence is abroad, surging and heaving the world, as with an
earthquake. And is America safe? Every nation that carries in
its bosom great and unredressed injustice has in it the elements of this
For what is this mighty influence thus rousing in all nations and
languages those groanings that cannot be uttered, for man's freedom and
O, Church of Christ, read the signs of the times! Is not this power
the spirit of Him whose kingdom is yet to come, and whose will to be done on
earth as it is in heaven?
But who may abide the day of his appearing? "for that day shall burn
as an oven: and he shall appear as a swift witness against those that
oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that
_turn aside the stranger in his right_: and he shall break in pieces the
Are not these dread words for a nation bearing in her bosom so mighty an
injustice? Christians! every time that you pray that the kingdom of
Christ may come, can you forget that prophecy associates, in dread
fellowship, the _day of vengeance_ with the year of his redeemed?
A day of grace is yet held out to us. Both North and South have
been guilty before God; and the _Christian church_ has a heavy account to
answer. Not by combining together, to protect injustice and cruelty,
and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved,--but by
repentance, justice and mercy; for, not surer is the eternal law by which
the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law, by which injustice
and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!