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George’s feelings and views, as an educated man, may be best expressed in a letter to one of his friends:
“I feel somewhat at a loss, as to my future course. True, as you have said to me, I might mingle in the circles of the whites, in this country, my shade of color is so slight, and that of my wife and family scarce perceptible. Well, perhaps, on sufferance, I might. But, to tell you the truth, I have no wish to.
“My sympathies are not for my father’s race, but for my mother’s. To him I was no more than a fine dog or horse; to my poor heart-broken mother I was a child; and, though I never saw her, after the cruel sale that separated us, till she died, yet I know she always loved me dearly. I know it by my own heart. When I think of all she suffered, of my own early sufferings, of the distresses and struggles of my heroic wife, of my sister, sold in the New Orleans slave-market—though I hope to have no unchristian sentiments, yet I may be excused for saying, I have no wish to pass for an American, or to identify myself with them.
“It is with the oppressed, enslaved African race that I cast in my lot; and, if I wished anything, I would wish myself two shades darker, rather than one lighter.
“The desire and yearning of my soul is for an African nationality. I want a people that shall have a tangible, separate existence of its own; and where am I to look for it? Not in Hayti; for in Hayti they had nothing to start with. A stream cannot rise above its fountain. The race that formed the character of the Haytiens was a worn-out, effeminate one; and, of course, the subject race will be centuries in rising to anything.
“Where, then, shall I look? On the shores of Africa I see a republic—a republic formed of picked men, who, by energy and self-educating force, have in many cases, individually, raised themselves above a condition of slavery. Having gone through a preparatory stage of feebleness, this republic has, at last, become an acknowledged nation on the face of the earth—acknowledged by both France and England. There it is my wish to go, and find myself a people.
“I am aware, now, that I shall have you all against me; but, before you strike, hear me. During my stay in France, I have followed up, with intense interest, the history of my people in America. I have noted the struggle between abolitionist and colonizationist, and have received some impressions, as a distant spectator, which could never have occurred to me as a participator.
“I grant that this Liberia may have subserved all sorts of purposes, by being played off, in the hands of our oppressors, against us. Doubtless the scheme may have been used, in unjustifiable ways, as a means of retarding our emancipation. But the question to me is, Is there not a God above all man’s schemes? May He not have overruled their designs, and founded for us a nation by them?
“In these days, a nation is born in a day. A nation starts, now, with all the great problems of republican life and civilization wrought out to its hand; it has not to discover, but only to apply. Let us, then, all take hold together, with all our might, and see what we can do with this new enterprise, and the whole splendid continent of Africa opens before us and our children. Our nation shall roll the tide of civilization and Christianity along its shores, and plant there mighty republics, that, growing with the rapidity of tropical vegetation, shall be for all coming ages.
“Do you say that I am deserting my enslaved brethren? I think not. If I forget them one hour, one moment of my life, so may God forget me! But, what can I do for them here? Can I break their chains? No, not as an individual; but let me go and form part of a nation, which shall have a voice in the counsels of nations, and then we can speak. A nation has a right to argue, remonstrate, implore, and present, the cause of its race, which an individual has not.
“If Europe ever becomes a grand council of free nations—as I trust in God it will—if there serfdom and all unjust and oppressive social inequalities are done away; and if they, as France and England have done, acknowledge our position, then, in the great Congress of Nations we will make our appeal, and present the cause of our enslaved and suffering race; and it cannot be that free, enlightened America will not then desire to wipe from her escutcheon that bar sinister which disgraces her among nations, and is as truly a curse to her as to the enslaved.
“But, you will tell me, our race have equal rights to mingle in the American Republic as the Irishman, the German, the Swede. Granted, they have. We ought to be free to meet and mingle—to rise by our individual worth, without any consideration of caste or color; and they who deny us this right are false to their own professed principles of human equality. We ought, in particular, to be allowed here. We have more than the rights of common men—we have the claim of an injured race for reparation. But, then, I do not want it; I want a country, a nation, of my own. I think that the African race has peculiarities, yet to be unfolded in the light of civilization and Christianity, which, if not the same with those of the Anglo-Saxon, may prove to be, morally, of even a higher type.
“To the Anglo-Saxon race has been intrusted the destinies of the world, during its pioneer period of struggle and conflict. To that mission its stern, inflexible, energetic elements were well adapted; but, as a Christian, I look for another era to arise. On its borders I trust we stand; and the throes that now convulse the nations are, to my hope, but the birth-pangs of an hour of universal peace and brotherhood.
“I trust that the development of Africa is to be essentially a Christian one. If not a dominant and commanding race, they are at least an affectionate, magnanimous, and forgiving one. Having been called in the furnace of injustice and oppression, they have need to bind closer to their hearts that subline doctrine of love and forgiveness, through which alone they are to conquer, which it is to be their mission to spread over the continent of Africa.
“In myself, I confess I am feeble for this; full half the blood in my veins is the hot and hasty Saxon; but I have an eloquent preacher of the Gospel ever by my side, in the person of my beautiful wife. When I wander, her gentler spirit ever restores me, and keeps before my eyes the Christian calling and mission of our race. As a Christian patriot, as a teacher of Christianity, I go to my country—my chosen, my glorious Africa! And to her, in my heart, I sometimes apply those splendid words of prophecy: ‘Whereas thou has been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee; I will make thee an eternal excellence, a joy of many generations!’
“You will call me an enthusiast—you will tell me that I have not well considered what I am undertaking. But I have considered, and counted the cost. I go to Liberia, not as to an elysian of romance, but as to a field of work. I expect to work with both hands; to work hard; to work against all sorts of difficulties and discouragements; and to work till I die. This is what I go for; and in this I am quite sure I shall not be disappointed.
“Whatever you may think of my determination, do not divorce me from your confidence; and think that, in whatever I do, I act with a heart wholly given to my people.
George, with his wife, children, and sister, embarked for Africa some few weeks after. If we are not mistaken, the world will yet hear from him there.
Of our other characters we have nothing very particular to write, except a word relating to Miss Ophelia and Topsy, and a farewell chapter, which we shall dedicate to George Shelby.
Miss Ophelia took Topsy home to Vermont with her, much to the surprise of that grave, deliberative body whom a New Englander recognises under the term “Our folks.” “Our folks” at first thought it an odd and unnecessary addition to their well-trained domestic establishment; but, so thoroughly efficient was Miss Ophelia in her conscientious endeavor to do her duty by her elève, that the child rapidly grew in grace and in favor with the family and neighborhood. At the age of womanhood, she was, by her own request, baptized, and became a member of the Christian church in the place; and showed so much intelligence, activity, and zeal, and desire to do good in the world, that she was at last recommended and approved as a missionary to one of the stations in Africa; and we have heard that the same activity and ingenuity which, when a child, made her so multiform and restless in her developments, is now employed, in a safer and wholesomer manner, in teaching the children of her own country.
Chapter XLIII.—The Liberator.
George Shelby had written to his mother merely a line, stating the day that she might expect him home. Of the death scene of his old friend he had not the heart to write. He had tried several times, and only succeeded in half choking himself, and invariably finished by tearing up the paper, wiping his eyes, and rushing somewhere to get quiet.
There was a pleased bustle all through the Shelby mansion that day, in expectation of the arrival of young mass’r George.
Mrs. Shelby was seated in her comfortable parlor, where a cheerful hickory fire was dispelling the chill of the late autumn evening. A supper-table, glittering with plate and cut glass, was set out, over whose arrangements our former friend, old Chloe, was presiding.
Arrayed in a new calico dress, with clean, white apron, and high, well-starched turban, her black polished face glowing with satisfaction, she lingered, with needless punctiliousness, around the arrangements of the table, merely as an excuse for talking a little to her mistress.
“Laws, now! won’t it look natural to him?” she said. “Thar—I set his plate just whar he likes it—round by the fire. Mass’r George allers wants de warm seat. O, go away! why didn’t Sally get out de best tea-pot—de little new one mass’r George got for missis, Christmas? I’ll have it out! And missis has heard from mass’r George?” she said, inquiringly.
“Yes, Chloe; but only a line, just to say he would be home to-night, if he could—that’s all.”
“Didn’t say nothin’ ’bout my old man, s’pose?” said Chloe, still fidgeting with the tea-cups.
“No, he didn’t. He did not speak of anything, Chloe. He said he would tell all when he got home.”
“Jes like mass’r George—he’s allers so ferce for tellin’ everything hisself. I allers minded dat ar in mass’r George. Don’t see, for my part, how white people gen’lly can bar to hev to write things much as they do, writin’ ’s such slow, oneasy kind o’ work.”
Mrs. Shelby smiled.
“I’m a thinkin’ my old man won’t know de boys and de baby. Lor’! she’s de biggest gal now, good she is too, and pert, Polly is. She’s out to the house, now, watchin’ de hoe-cake. I’s got jist de very pattern my old man liked so much, a bakin’. Jist sich as I gin him the mornin’ he was took off. Lord bless us! how I felt dat ar morning!”
Mrs. Shelby sighed, and felt a heavy weight on her heart, at this allusion. She had felt uneasy ever since she received her son’s letter, lest something should prove to be hidden behind the veil of silence which he had drawn.
“Missis has got them bills?” said Chloe, anxiously.
“Cause I want to show my old man dem very bills de perfectioner gave me. ‘And,’ says he, ‘Chloe, I wish you’d stay longer.’ ‘Thank you mass’r,’ says I. ‘I would, only my old man’s coming home, and missis—she can’t do without me no longer.’ There’s jist what I telled him. Berry nice man, dat mass’r Jones was.”
Chloe had pertinaciously insisted that the very bills in which her wages had been paid should be preserved, to show to her husband in memorial of her capability. And Mrs. Shelby had readily consented to humor her in the request.
“He won’t know Polly—my old man won’t. Laws, it’s five years since they tuck him! She was a baby den—couldn’t but jist stand. Remember how tickled he used to be, cause she would keep a fallin’ over, when she sot out to walk. Laws a me!”
The rattling of wheels now was heard.
“Mass’r George!” said aunt Chloe, starting to the window.
Mrs. Shelby ran to the entry door, and was folded in the arms of her son. Aunt Chloe stood anxiously straining her eyes out into the darkness.
O, poor, Aunt Chloe!” said George, stopping compassionately, and taking her hard, black hand between both his; “I’d have given all my fortune to have brought him with me, but he’s gone to a better country.”
There was a passionate exclamation from Mrs. Shelby, but Aunt Chloe said nothing.
The party entered the supper-room. The money, of which Chloe was so proud, was still lying on the table.
“Thar,” said she, gathering it up, and holding it with a trembling hand to her mistress, “don’t never want to see nor hear on’t again. Jist as I knew ’twould be—sold, and murdered
on dem ar old plantations!”
Chloe turned, and was walking sadly out of the room. Mrs. Shelby followed her softly, and took one of her hands, drew her down into a chair, and sat down by her.
“My poor, good Chloe!” said she.
Chloe leaned her head on her mistress’s shoulder, and sobbed out, “O missis! ’scuse me, my heart’s broke, that’s all!”
“I know it,” said Mrs. Shelby, as her tears fell fast; “and I cannot heal it, but Jesus can. He healeth the broken-hearted, and bindeth up their wounds.”
There was a silence for some time, and all wept together. At last, George, sitting down beside the mourner, took her hand, and with simple pathos repeated the triumphant scene of her husband’s death, and his last messages of love.
About a month after this, one morning, all the servants of the Shelby estate were convened together in the great hall that ran through the house, to hear a few words from their young master.
To the surprise of all, he appeared among them with a bundle of papers in his hand, containing a certificate of freedom to every one on the place, which he read successively, and presented, amid the sobs and tears and shouts of all present.
Many, however, pressed around him, anxiously begging him not to send them away; and, with anxious faces, tendering back their free papers.
“We don’t want to be no freer than we are. We’s allers had all we wanted. We don’t want to leave de ole place, and mass’r and missis, and de rest!”
“My good friends,” said George, as soon as he could get a silence, “there’ll be no need for you to leave me. The place wants as many hands to work it as it did before. We need the same about the house that we did before. But, you are now free men and free women. I shall pay you wages for your work, such as we shall agree on. The advantage is, that in case of my getting in debt, or dying—things that might happen—you cannot now be taken up and sold. I expect to carry on the estate, and to teach you what, perhaps, it will take you some time to learn—how to use the rights I give you as free men and women. I expect you to be good, and willing to learn; and I trust in God that I shall be faithful, and willing to teach. And now, my friends, look up, and thank God for the blessing of freedom.”
An aged, patriarchal negro, who had grown gray and blind on the estate, now rose, and lifting his trembling hand, said, “Let us give thanks unto the Lord!” As all kneeled by one consent, a more touching and hearty Te
Deum never ascended to heaven, though borne on the peal of organ, bell, and cannon, than came from that honest old heart.
On rising, another struck up a Methodist hymn, of which the burden was,
“The year of Jubilee is come, Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.”
“One thing more,” said George, as he stopped the congratulations of the throng; “you all remember our good old Uncle Tom?”
George here gave a short narration of the scene of his death, and of his loving farewell to all on the place, and added—
“It was on his grave, my friends, that I resolved, before God, that I would never own another slave, while it was possible to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation, as he died. So, when you rejoice in your freedom, think that you owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his wife and children. Think of your freedom, every time you see
Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be as honest, and faithful, and Christian, as he was.”
Chapter XLIV.—Concluding Remarks.
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 general answer.
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 her.
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 parallel 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, without a possibility of being brought to justice, 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 two 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 practiced 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 respect.
“No, mass’r,” said Nathan; “you’ve always been good to me.”
“Well, then, why do you want to leave me?”
“Mass’r may die, and then who would get me? I’d rather be a free man.”
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 civilization would certainly live down. But since the legislative act of 1851, 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 magnanmity, 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 to give testimony, make every individual an irresponsible despot? Can anybody fail to make the inference what the practical result will be? If there is, as we admit, a public sentiment among your 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 tradge dy can be written, can be spoken, can be conceived, that equals the frightful reality of scenes daily and hourly acting an our shores, beneath the shadow of American law, and the shadow of the cross of Christ.
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 States have nothing to do with it, and can no 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 gnilty 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, 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, of 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 us; they come to seek education, knowledge, Christianity.
What do you owe to these poor unfortunates, oh Christians? Does not every American Christian owe to the African race some ef-fort 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 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 Cincinnati.
“B———, from Carolina. 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; from Georgia; 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, of Virginia; 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 knowledge.”
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 clerygmen, Douglas and Ward among editors, are will 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 last convulsion.
For what is this mighty influence thus rousing in all nations and languages those groanings that cannot be uttered, for man’s freedom and equality?
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 oppressor.”
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 followship, 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!
The “Author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin” must now take leave of a wide circle of friends, whose faces she has never seen, but whose sympathies, coming to her from afar, have stimulated and cheered her in her work.
The thought of the pleasant family circles that she has been meeting in spirit weekly has been a constant refreshment to her, and she cannot leave them without a farewell.
In particular, the dear little children who have followed her story have her warmest love. Dear children, you will one day be men and women; and she hopes that you will learn from this story always to remember and pity the poor and oppressed, and, when you grow up, show your pity by doing all you can for them. Never, if you can help it, let a colored child be shut out of school, or treated with neglect and contempt, because of his color. Remember the sweet example of little Eva, and try to feel the same regard for all that she did; and then, when you grow up, we hope that the foolish and unchristian prejudice against people, merely on account of their complexion, will be done away with.
Farewell, dear children, till we meet again.
Copyright 2011. For introduction and annotation, all rights reserved. The text is distributed under a Creative Commons License. Uncle Tom’s Cabin: National Era by Harriet Beecher Stowe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Copyright Commons License.