The Freedman's Story (Continued)

An escaped slave tells his story—including his account of his violent showdown with slave-catchers in Pennsylvania
More

PART II.

(Read Part I, February 1866)

AS the Freedman relates only events which came under his own observation, it is necessary to preface the remaining portion of his narrative with a brief account of the Christiana riot. This I extract mainly from a statement made at the time by a member of the Philadelphia bar, making only a few alterations to give the account greater clearness and brevity.

On the 9th of September, 1851, Mr. Edward Gorsuch, a citizen of Maryland, residing near Baltimore, appeared before

Edward D. Ingraham, Esquire, United States Commissioner at Philadelphia, and asked for warrants under the act of Congress of September 18, 1850, for the arrest of four of his slaves, whom he had heard were secreted somewhere in Lancaster County. Warrants were issued forthwith, directed to H. H. Kline, a deputy United States Marshal, authorizing him to arrest George Hammond, Joshua Hammond, Nelson Ford, and Noah Buley, persons held to service or labor in the State of Maryland, and to bring them before the said Commissioner.

Mr. Gorsuch then made arrangements with John Agin and Thompson Tully, residents of Philadelphia, and police officers, to assist Kline in making the arrests. They were to meet Mr. Gorsuch and some companions at Penningtonville, a small place on the State Railroad, about fifty miles from Philadelphia. Kline, with the warrants, left Philadelphia on the same day, about 2 P. M., for West Chester. There he hired a conveyance and rode to Gallagherville, where he hired another conveyance to take him to Penningtonville. Before he had driven very far, the carriage breaking down, he returned to Gallagherville, procured another, and started again. Owing to this detention, he was prevented from meeting Mr. Gorsuch and his friends at the appointed time, and when he reached Penningtonville, about 2 A. M. on the 10th of September, they had gone.

On entering the tavern, the place of rendezvous he saw a colored man whom he recognized as Samuel Williams, a resident of Philadelphia. To put Williams off his guard, Kline asked the landlord some questions about horse thieves. Williams remarked that he had seen the "horse thieves," and told Kline he had come too late.

Kline then drove on to a place called the Gap. Seeing a person he believed to be Williams following him, he stopped at several taverns along the road and made inquiries about horse thieves. He reached the Gap about 3 A. M., put up his horses, and went to bed. At half past four he rose, ate breakfast, and rode to Parkesburg, about forty-five miles from Philadelphia, and on the same railroad. Here he found Agin and Tully asleep in the bar-room. He awoke Agin, called him aside, and inquired for Mr. Gorsuch and his party. He was told they had gone to Sadsbury, a small place on the turnpike, four or five miles from Parkesburg.

On going there, he found them, about 9 A. M. on the 10th of September. Kline told them he had seen Agin and Tully, who had determined to return to Philadelphia, and proposed that the whole party should return to Gallagherville. Mr. Gorsuch, however, determined to go to Parkesburg instead, to see Agin and Tully, and attempt to persuade them not to return. The rest of the party were to go to Gallagherville, while Kline returned to Downingtown, to see Agin and Tully, should Mr. Gorsuch fail to meet them at Parkesburg. He left Gallagherville about 11 A. M., and met Agin and Tully at Downingtown. Agin said he had seen Mr. Gorsuch, but refused to go back. He promised, however, to return from Philadelphia in the evening cars. Kline returned to Downingtown, and then met all the party except Mr. Edward Gorsuch, who had remained behind to make the necessary arrangements for procuring a guide to the houses where he had been informed his negroes were to be found.

About 3 P. M., Mr. Edward Gorsuch joined them at Gallagherville, and at 11 P. M. on the night of the 10th of September they all went in the cars to Downingtown, where they waited for the evening train from Philadelphia.

When it arrived, neither Agin nor Tully was to be seen. The rest of the party went on to the Gap, which they reached about half past one on the morning of the 11th of September. They then continued their journey on foot towards Christiana, where Parker was residing, and where the slaves of Mr. Gorsuch were supposed to be living. The party then consisted of Kline, Edward Gorsuch, Dickinson Gorsuch, his son, Joshua M. Gorsuch, his nephew,

Dr. Thomas Pierce, Nicholas T. Hutchings, and Nathan Nelson.

After they had proceeded about a mile they met a man who was represented to be a guide. He is said to have been disguised in such a way that none of the party could recognize him, and his name is not mentioned in any of the proceedings. It is probable that he was employed by Mr. Edward Gorsuch, and one condition of his services may have been that he should be allowed to use every possible means of concealing his face and name from the rest of the party. Under his conduct, the party went on, and soon reached a house in which they were told one of the slaves was to be found. Mr. Gorsuch wished to send part of the company after him, but Kline was unwilling to divide their strength, and they walked on, intending to return that way after making the other arrests.

The guide led them by a circuitous route, until they reached the Valley Road, near the house of William Parker, the writer of the annexed narrative, which was their point of destination. They halted in a lane near by, ate some crackers and cheese, examined the condition of their fire-arms, and consulted upon the plan of attack. A short walk brought them to the orchard in front of Parker's house, which the guide pointed out and then left them. He had no desire to remain and witness the result of his false information. His disguise and desertion of his employer are strong circumstances in proof of the fact that he knew he was misleading the party. On the trial of Hanway, it was proved by the defence that Nelson Ford, one of the fugitives, was not on the ground until after the sun was up. Joshua Hammond had lived in the vicinity up to the time that a man by the name of Williams had been kidnapped, when he and several others departed, and had not since been heard from. Of the other two, one at least, if the evidence for the prosecution is to be relied upon, was in the house at which the party first halted, so that there could not have been more than one of Mr. Gorsuch's slaves in Parker's house, and of this there is no positive testimony.

It was not yet daybreak when the party approached the house. They made demand for the slaves, and threatened to burn the house and shoot the occupants, if they would not surrender. At this time, the number of besiegers seems to have been increased, and as many as fifteen are said to have been near the house. About daybreak, when they were advancing a second or third time, they saw a negro coming out, whom Mr. Gorsuch thought he recognized as one of his slaves. Kline pursued him with a revolver in his hand, and stumbled over the bars near the house. Some of the company came up before Kline, and found the door open. They entered, and Kline, following, called for the owner, ordered all to come down, and said he had two warrants for the arrest of Nelson Ford and Joshua Hammond. He was answered that there were no such men in the house. Kline, followed by Mr. Gorsuch, attempted to go up stairs. They were prevented from ascending by what appears to have been an ordinary fish gig. Some of the witnesses described it as "like a pitchfork with blunt prongs," and others were at a loss what to call this, the first weapon used in the contest. An axe was next thrown down, but hit no one.

Mr. Gorsuch and others then went outside to talk with the negroes at the window. Just at this time Kline fired his pistol up stairs. The warrants were then read outside the house, and demand made upon the landlord. No answer was heard. After a short interval, Kline proposed to withdraw his men, but Mr. Gorsuch refused, and said he would not leave the ground until he had made the arrests. Kline then in a loud voice ordered some one to go to the sheriff and bring a hundred men, thinking, as he afterwards said, this would intimidate them. The threat appears to have had some effect, for the negroes asked time to consider. The party outside agreed to give fifteen minutes.

While these scenes were passing at

the house, occurrences transpired elsewhere that are worthy of attention, but which cannot be understood without a short statement of previous events.

In the month of September, 1850, a colored man, known in the neighborhood around Christiana to be free, was seized and carried away by men known to be professional kidnappers, and had not been seen by his family since. In March, 1851, in the same neighborhood, under the roof of his employer, during the night, another colored man was tied, gagged, and carried away, marking the road along which he was dragged with his blood. No authority for this outrage was ever shown, and the man was never heard from. These and many other acts of a similar kind had so alarmed the neighborhood, that the very name of kidnapper was sufficient to create a panic. The blacks feared for their own safety; and the whites, knowing their feelings, were apprehensive that any attempt to repeat these outrages would be the cause of bloodshed. Many good citizens were determined to do all in their power to prevent these lawless depredations, though they were ready to submit to any measures sanctioned by legal process. They regretted the existence among them of a body of people liable to such violence; but without combination had, each for himself, resolved that they would do everything dictated by humanity to resist barbarous oppression.

On the morning in question, a colored man living in the neighborhood, who passing Parker's house at an early hour, saw the yard full of men. He halted, and was met by a man who presented a pistol at him, and ordered him to leave the place. He went away and hastened to a store kept by Elijah Lewis, which, like all places of that kind, was probably the head-quarters of news in the neighborhood. Mr. Lewis was in the act of opening his store when this man told him that "Parker's house was surrounded by kidnappers, who had broken into the house, and were trying to get him away." Lewis, not questioning the truth of the statement, repaired immediately to the place. On the way he passed the house of Castner Hanway, and, telling him what he had heard, asked him to go over to Parker's. Hanway was in feeble health and unable to undergo the fatigue of walking that distance; but he saddled his horse, and reached Parker's during the armistice.

Having no reason to believe he was acting under legal authority, when Kline approached and demanded assistance in making the arrests, Hanway made no answer. Kline then handed him the warrants, which Hanway examined, saw they appeared genuine, and returned.

At this time, several colored men, who no doubt had heard the report that kidnappers were about, came up, armed with such weapons as they could suddenly lay hands upon. How many were on the ground during the affray it is now impossible to determine. The witnesses on both sides vary materially in their estimate. Some said they saw a dozen or fifteen; some, thirty or forty; and others maintained, as many as two or three hundred. It is known there were not two hundred colored men within eight miles of Parker's house, nor half that number within four miles; and it would have been almost impossible to get together even thirty at an hour's notice. It is probable there were about twenty-five, all told, at or near the house from the beginning of the affray until all was quiet again. These the fears of those who afterwards testified to larger numbers might easily have magnified to fifty or a hundred.

While Kline and Hanway were in conversation, Elijah Lewis came up. Hanway said to him, "Here is the Marshal." Lewis asked to see his authority, and Kline handed him one of the warrants. When he saw the signature of the United States Commissioner, "he took it for granted that Kline had authority." Kline then ordered Hanway and Lewis to assist in arresting the alleged fugitives. Hanway refused

to have anything to do with it, The negroes around these three men seeming disposed to make an attack, Hanway "motioned to them and urged them back." He then "advised Kline that it would be dangerous to attempt making arrests, and that they had better leave." Kline, after saying he would hold them accountable for the fugitives, promised to leave, and beckoned two or three times to his men to retire.

The negroes then rushed up, some armed with guns, some with corn-cutters, staves, or clubs, others with stones or whatever weapon chance offered. Hanway and Lewis in vain endeavored to restrain them.

Kline leaped the fence, passed through the standing grain in the field, and for a few moments was out of sight. Mr. Gorsuch refused to leave the spot, saying his "property was there, and he would have it or perish in the attempt." The rest of his party endeavored to retreat when they heard the Marshal calling to them, but they were too late; the negroes rushed up, and the firing began. How many times each party fired, it is impossible to tell. For a few moments everything was confusion, and each attempted to save himself. Nathan Nelson went down the short lane, thence into the woods and towards Penningtonville. Nicholas Hutchings, by direction of Kline, followed Lewis to see where he went. Thomas Pierce and Joshua Gorsuch went down the long lane, pursued by some of the negroes, caught up with Hanway, and, shielding themselves behind his horse, followed him to a stream of water near by. Dickinson Gorsuch was with his father near the house. They were both wounded; the father mortally. Dickinson escaped down the lane, where he was met by Kline, who had returned from the woods at the end of the field. Kline rendered him assistance, and went towards Penningtonville for a physician. On his way be met Joshua M. Gorsuch, who was also wounded and delirious. Kline led him over to Penningtonville and placed him on the upward train from Philadelphia. Before this time several persons living in the neighborhood had arrived at Parker's house. Lewis Cooper found Dickinson Gorsuch in the place where Kline had left him, attended by Joseph Scarlett. He placed him in his dearborn, and carried him to the house of Levi Pownall, where he remained till he had sufficiently recovered to return home. Mr. Cooper then returned to Parker's, placed the body of Mr. Edward Gorsuch in the same dearborn, and carried it to Christiana. Neither Nelson nor Hutchings rejoined their party, but during the day went by the railroad to Lancaster.

Thus ended an occurrence which was the theme of conversation throughout the land. Not more than two hours elapsed from the time demand was first made at Parker's house until the dead body of Edward Gorsuch was carried to Christiana. In that brief time the blood of strangers had been spilled in a sudden affray, an unfortunate man had been killed, and two others badly wounded.

When rumor spread abroad the result of the affray, the neighborhood was appalled. The inhabitants of the farmhouses and the villages around, unused to such scenes, could not at first believe that it had occurred in their midst. Before midday, exaggerated accounts had reached Philadelphia, and were transmitted by telegraph throughout the country.

Many persons were arrested for participation in the riot; and, after a long imprisonment, were arraigned for trial, on the charge of treason, before Judges Grier and Kane, of the United States Court, sitting at Philadelphia.

Every one knows the result. The prisoners were all acquitted; and the country was aroused to the danger of a law which allowed bad men to incarcerate peaceful citizens for months in prison, and put them in peril of their lives, for refusing to aid in entrapping, and sending back to hopeless slavery, men struggling for the very same freedom we value as the best part of our birthright.

The Freedman's narrative is now resumed.

* * * * *

A short time after the events narrated in the preceding number, it was whispered about that the slaveholders intended to make an attack on my house; but, as I had often been threatened, I gave the report little attention. About the same time, however, two letters were found thrown carelessly about, as if to attract notice. These letters stated that kidnappers would be at my house on a certain night, and warned me to be on my guard. Still I did not let the matter trouble me. But it was no idle rumor. The bloodhounds were upon my track.

I was not at this time aware that in the city of Philadelphia there was a band of devoted, determined men,--few in number, but strong in purpose,--who were fully resolved to leave no means untried to thwart the barbarous and inhuman monsters who crawled in the gloom of midnight, like the ferocious tiger, and, stealthily springing on their unsuspecting victims, seized, bound, and hurled them into the ever open jaws of Slavery. Under the pretext of enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law, the slaveholders did not hesitate to violate all other laws made for the good government and protection of society, and converted the old State of Pennsylvania, so long the hope of the fleeing bondman, wearied and heartbroken, into a common hunting-ground for their human prey. But this little band of true patriots in Philadelphia united for the purpose of standing between the pursuer and the pursued, the kidnapper and his victim, and, regardless of all personal considerations, were ever on the alert, ready to sound the alarm to save their fellows from a fate far more to be dreaded than death. In this they had frequently succeeded, and many times had turned the hunter home bootless of his prey. They began their operations at the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, and had thoroughly examined all matters connected with it, and were perfectly cognizant of the plans adopted to carry out its provisions in Pennsylvania, and, through a correspondence with reliable persons in various sections of the South, were enabled to know these hunters of men, their agents, spies, tools, and betrayers. They knew who performed this work in Richmond, Alexandria, Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Harrisburg, those principal depots of villany, where organized bands prowled about at all times, ready to entrap the unwary fugitive.

They also discovered that this nefarious business was conducted mainly through one channel; for, spite of man's inclination to vice and crime, there are but few men, thank God, so low in the scale of humanity as to be willing to degrade themselves by doing the dirty work of four-legged bloodhounds. Yet such men, actuated by the love of gold and their own base and brutal natures, were found ready for the work. These fellows consorted with constables, police-officers, aldermen, and even with learned members of the legal profession, who disgraced their respectable calling by low, contemptible arts, and were willing to clasp hands with the lowest ruffian in order to pocket the reward that was the price of blood. Every facility was offered these bad men; and whether it was night or day, it was only necessary to whisper in a certain circle that a negro was to be caught, and horses and wagons, men and officers, spies and betrayers, were ready, at the shortest notice, armed and equipped, and eager for the chase.

Thus matters stood in Philadelphia on the 9th of September, 1851, when Mr. Gorsuch and his gang of Maryland kidnappers arrived there. Their presence was soon known to the little band of true men who were called "The Special Secret Committee." They had agents faithful and true as steel; and through these agents the whereabouts and business of Gorsuch and his minions were soon discovered. They were noticed in close converse with a certain member of the Philadelphia bar, who had lost the little reputation he ever had by continual dabbling in negro-catching, as well as by association with and support of the notorious Henry H.

Kline, a professional kidnapper of the basest stamp. Having determined as to the character and object of these Marylanders, there remained to ascertain the spot selected for their deadly spring; and this required no small degree of shrewdness, resolution, and tact.

Some one's liberty was imperilled; the hunters were abroad; the time was short, and the risk imminent. The little band bent themselves to the task they were pledged to perform with zeal and devotion; and success attended their efforts. They knew that one false step would jeopardize their own liberty, and very likely their lives, and utterly destroy every prospect of carrying out their objects. They knew, too, that they were matched against the most desperate, daring, and brutal men in the kidnappers' ranks,--men who, to obtain the proffered reward, would rush willingly into any enterprise, regardless alike of its character or its consequences. That this was the deepest, the most thoroughly organized and best-planned project for man-catching that had been concocted since the infamous Fugitive Slave Law had gone into operation, they also knew; and consequently this nest of hornets was approached with great care. But by walking directly into their camp, watching their plans as they were developed, and secretly testing every inch of ground on which they trod, they discovered enough to counterplot these plotters, and to spring upon them a mine which shook the whole country, and put an end to man-stealing in Pennsylvania forever.

The trusty agent of this Special Committee, Mr. Samuel Williams, of Philadelphia,--a man true and faithful to his race, and courageous in the highest degree,--came to Christiana, travelling most of the way in company with the very men whom Gorsuch had employed to drag into slavery four as good men as ever trod the earth. These Philadelphia roughs, with their Maryland associates, little dreamed that the man who sat by their side carried with him their inglorious defeat, and the death-warrant of at least one of their party. Williams listened to their conversation, and marked well their faces, and, being fully satisfied by their awkward movements that they were heavily armed, managed to slip out of the cars at the village of Downington unobserved, and proceeded to Penningtonville, where he encountered Kline, who had started several hours in advance of the others. Kline was terribly frightened, as he knew Williams, and felt that his presence was an omen of ill to his base designs. He spoke of horse thieves; but Williams replied,--"I know the kind of horse thieves you are after. They are all gone; and you had better not go after them."

Kline immediately jumped into his wagon, and rode away, whilst Williams crossed the country, and arrived at Christiana in advance of him.

The manner in which information of Gorsuch's designs was obtained will probably ever remain a secret; and I doubt if any one outside of the little band who so masterly managed the affair knows anything of it. This was wise; and I would to God other friends had acted thus. Mr. Williams's trip to Christiana, and the many incidents connected therewith, will be found in the account of his trial; for he was subsequently arrested and thrown into the cold cells of a loathsome jail for this good act of simple Christian duty; but, resolute to the last, he publicly stated that he had been to Christiana, and, to use his own words, "I done it, and will do it again." Brave man, receive my thanks!

Of the Special Committee I can only say that they proved themselves men; and through the darkest hours of the trials that followed, they were found faithful to their trust, never for one moment deserting those who were compelled to suffer. Many, many innocent men residing in the vicinity of Christiana, the ground where the first battle was fought for liberty in Pennsylvania, were seized, torn from their families, and, like Williams, thrown into prison for long, weary months, to be tried for their lives. By them this Committee

stood, giving them every consolation and comfort, furnishing them with clothes, and attending to their wants, giving money to themselves and families, and procuring for them the best legal counsel. This I know, and much more of which it is not wise, even now, to speak: 't is enough to say they were friends when and where it cost something to be friends, and true brothers where brothers were needed.

After this lengthy digression, I will return, and speak of the riot and the events immediately preceding it.

The information brought by Mr. Williams spread through the vicinity like a fire in the prairies; and when I went home from my work in the evening, I found Pinckney (whom I should have said before was my brother-in-law), Abraham Johnson, Samuel Thompson, and Joshua Kite at my house, all of them excited about the rumor. I laughed at them, and said it was all talk. This was the 10th of September, 1851. They stopped for the night with us, and we went to bed as usual. Before daylight, Joshua Kite rose, and started for his home. Directly, he ran back to the house, burst open the door, crying, "O William! kidnappers! kidnappers!"

He said that, when he was just beyond the yard, two men crossed before him, as if to stop him, and others came up on either side. As he said this, they had reached the door. Joshua ran up stairs, (we slept up stairs,) and they followed him; but I met them at the landing, and asked, "Who are you?"

The leader, Kline, replied, "I am the United States Marshal."

I then told him to take another step, and I would break his neck.

He again said, "I am the United States Marshal."

I told him I did not care for him nor the United States. At that he turned and went down stairs.

Pinckney said, as he turned to go down,--"Where is the use in fighting? They will take us."

Kline heard him, and said, "Yes, give up, for we can and will take you anyhow."

I told them all not to be afraid, nor to give up to any slaveholder, but to fight until death.

"Yes," said Kline, "I have heard many a negro talk as big as you, and then have taken him; and I'll take you."

"You have not taken me yet," I replied; "and if you undertake it you will have your name recorded in history for this day's work."

Mr. Gorsuch then spoke, and said,-- "Come, Mr. Kline, let's go up stairs and take them. We can take them. Come, follow me, I'll go up and get my property. What's in the way? The law is in my favor, and the people are in my favor."

At that he began to ascend the stair; but I said to him,--"See here, old man, you can come up, but you can't go down again. Once up here, you are mine."

Kline then said,--"Stop, Mr. Gorsuch. I will read the warrant, and then, I think, they will give up."

He then read the warrant, and said, "Now, you see, we are commanded to take you, dead or alive; so you may as well give up at once."

"Go up, Mr. Kline," then said Gorsuch, "you are the Marshal."

Kline started, and when a little way up said, "I am coming."

I said, "Well, come on."

But he was too cowardly to show his face. He went down again and said,--"You had better give up without any more fuss, for we are bound to take you anyhow. I told you before that I was the United States Marshal, yet you will not give up. I'll not trouble the slaves. I will take you and make you pay for all."

"Well," I answered, "take me and make me pay for all. I'll pay for all."

Mr. Gorsuch then said, "You have my property."

To which I replied,--"Go in the room down there, and see if there is anything there belonging to you. There are beds and a bureau, chairs, and other things. Then go out to the barn; there you will find a cow and some hogs. See if any of them are yours."

He said,--"They are not mine; I

want my men. They are here, and I am bound to have them."

Thus we parleyed for a time, all because of the pusillanimity of the Marshal, when he, at last, said,--"I am tired waiting on you; I see you are not going to give up. Go to the barn and fetch some straw," said he to one of his men. "I will set the house on fire, and burn them up."

"Burn us up and welcome," said I. "None but a coward would say the like. You can burn us, but you can't take us; before I give up, you will see my ashes scattered on the earth."

By this time day had begun to dawn; and then my wife came to me and asked if she should blow the horn, to bring friends to our assistance. I assented, and she went to the garret for the purpose. When the horn sounded from the garret window, one of the ruffians asked the others what it meant; and Kline said to me, "What do you mean by blowing that horn?"

I did not answer. It was a custom with us, when a horn was blown at an unusual hour, to proceed to the spot promptly to see what was the matter. Kline ordered his men to shoot any one they saw blowing the horn. There was a peach-tree at that end of the house. Up it two of the men climbed; and when my wife went a second time to the window, they fired as soon as they heard the blast, but missed their aim. My wife then went down on her knees, and, drawing her head and body below the range of the window, the horn resting on the sill, blew blast after blast, while the shots poured thick and fast around her. They must have fired ten or twelve times. The house was of stone, and the windows were deep, which alone preserved her life.

They were evidently disconcerted by the blowing of the horn. Gorsuch said again, "I want my property, and I will have it."

"Old man," said I, "you look as if you belonged to some persuasion."

"Never mind," he answered, "what persuasion I belong to; I want my property."

While I was leaning out of the window, Kline fired a pistol at me, but the shot went too high; the ball broke the glass just above my bead. I was talking to Gorsuch at the time. I seized a gun and aimed it at Gorsuch's breast for he evidently had instigated Kline to fire; but Pinckney caught my arm and said, "Don't shoot." The gun went off, just grazing Gorsuch's shoulder. Another conversation then ensued between Gorsuch, Kline, and myself, when another one of the party fired at me but missed. Dickinson Gorsuch, I then saw, was preparing to shoot; and I told him if he missed, I would show him where shooting first came from.

I asked them to consider what they would have done, had they been in our position. "I know you want to kill us," I said, "for you have shot at us time and again. We have only fired twice, although we have guns and ammunition, and could kill you all if we would, but we do not want to shed blood."

"If you do not shoot any more," then said Kline, "I will stop my men from firing."

They then ceased for a time. This was about sunrise.

Mr. Gorsuch now said,--"Give up and let me have my property. Hear what the Marshal says; the Marshal is your friend. He advises you to give up without more fuss, for my property I will have."

I denied that I had his property, when he replied, "You have my men."

"Am I your man?" I asked.

"No."

I then called Pinckney forward.

"Is that your man?"

"No."

Abraham Johnson I called next, but Gorsuch said he was not his man.

The only plan left was to call both Pinckney and Johnson again; for had I called the others, he would have recognized them, for they were his slaves.

Abraham Johnson said, "Does such a shrivelled up old slaveholder as you own such a nice, genteel young man as I am?"

At this Gorsuch took offence, and charged me with dictating his language. I then told him there were but five of us, which he denied, and still insisted that I had his property. One of the party then attacked the Abolitionists, affirming that, although they declared there could not be property in man, the Bible was conclusive authority in favor of property in human flesh.

"Yes," said Gorsuch, "does not the Bible say, 'Servants, obey your masters'?"

I said that it did, but the same Bible said, "Give unto your servants that which is just and equal."

At this stage of the proceedings, we went into a mutual Scripture inquiry, and bandied views in the manner of garrulous old wives.

When I spoke of duty to servants, Gorsuch said, "Do you know that?"

"Where," I asked, "do you see it in Scripture, that a man should traffic in his brother's blood?"

"Do you call a nigger my brother?" said Gorsuch.

"Yes," said I.

"William," said Samuel Thompson, "he has been a class-leader."

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

How have stories changed in the age of social media? The minds behind House of Cards, This American Life, and The Moth discuss.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down
More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In