Master would keep this lacerated young woman

I lived in Master Hugh’s family about seven years. During this time, I
succeeded in learning to read and write. In accomplishing this, I was
compelled to resort to various stratagems. I had no regular teacher. My
mistress, who had kindly commenced to instruct me, had, in compliance
with the advice and direction of her husband, not only ceased to
instruct, but had set her face against my being instructed by any one
else. It is due, however, to my mistress to say of her, that she did
not adopt this course of treatment immediately. She at first lacked the
depravity indispensable to shutting me up in mental darkness. It was
at least necessary for her to have some training in the exercise of
irresponsible power, to make her equal to the task of treating me as
though I were a brute.

My mistress was, as I have said, a kind and tender-hearted woman; and in
the simplicity of her soul she commenced, when I first went to live with
her, to treat me as she supposed one human being ought to treat another.
In entering upon the duties of a slaveholder, she did not seem to
perceive that I sustained to her the relation of a mere chattel, and
that for her to treat me as a human being was not only wrong, but
dangerously so. Slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me. When
I went there, she was a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman. There was
no sorrow or suffering for which she had not a tear. She had bread for
the hungry, clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner that
came within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of
these heavenly qualities. Under its influence, the tender heart became
stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like
fierceness. The first step in her downward course was in her ceasing to
instruct me. She now commenced to practise her husband’s precepts. She
finally became even more violent in her opposition than her husband
himself. She was not satisfied with simply doing as well as he had
commanded; she seemed anxious to do better. Nothing seemed to make her
more angry than to see me with a newspaper. She seemed to think that
here lay the danger. I have had her rush at me with a face made all up
of fury, and snatch from me a newspaper, in a manner that fully revealed
her apprehension. She was an apt woman; and a little experience soon
demonstrated, to her satisfaction, that education and slavery were
incompatible with each other.

From this time I was most narrowly watched. If I was in a separate room
any considerable length of time, I was sure to be suspected of having
a book, and was at once called to give an account of myself. All this,
however, was too late. The first step had been taken. Mistress, in
teaching me the alphabet, had given me the _inch,_ and no precaution
could prevent me from taking the _ell._

The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful,
was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in
the street. As many of these as I could, I converted into teachers. With
their kindly aid, obtained at different times and in different places,
I finally succeeded in learning to read. When I was sent of errands, I
always took my book with me, and by going one part of my errand quickly,
I found time to get a lesson before my return. I used also to carry
bread with me, enough of which was always in the house, and to which I
was always welcome; for I was much better off in this regard than many
of the poor white children in our neighborhood. This bread I used to
bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return, would give me
that more valuable bread of knowledge. I am strongly tempted to give
the names of two or three of those little boys, as a testimonial of the
gratitude and affection I bear them; but prudence forbids;–not that
it would injure me, but it might embarrass them; for it is almost an
unpardonable offence to teach slaves to read in this Christian country.
It is enough to say of the dear little fellows, that they lived on
Philpot Street, very near Durgin and Bailey’s ship-yard. I used to talk
this matter of slavery over with them. I would sometimes say to them, I
wished I could be as free as they would be when they got to be men. “You
will be free as soon as you are twenty-one, _but I am a slave for life!_
Have not I as good a right to be free as you have?” These words used
to trouble them; they would express for me the liveliest sympathy, and
console me with the hope that something would occur by which I might be

I was now about twelve years old, and the thought of being _a slave for
life_ began to bear heavily upon my heart. Just about this time, I got
hold of a book entitled “The Columbian Orator.” Every opportunity I
got, I used to read this book. Among much of other interesting matter,
I found in it a dialogue between a master and his slave. The slave was
represented as having run away from his master three times. The dialogue
represented the conversation which took place between them, when the
slave was retaken the third time. In this dialogue, the whole argument
in behalf of slavery was brought forward by the master, all of which was
disposed of by the slave. The slave was made to say some very smart as
well as impressive things in reply to his master–things which had the
desired though unexpected effect; for the conversation resulted in the
voluntary emancipation of the slave on the part of the master.

In the same book, I met with one of Sheridan’s mighty speeches on and
in behalf of Catholic emancipation. These were choice documents to me.
I read them over and over again with unabated interest. They gave tongue
to interesting thoughts of my own soul, which had frequently flashed
through my mind, and died away for want of utterance. The moral which I
gained from the dialogue was the power of truth over the conscience of
even a slaveholder. What I got from Sheridan was a bold denunciation
of slavery, and a powerful vindication of human rights. The reading
of these documents enabled me to utter my thoughts, and to meet the
arguments brought forward to sustain slavery; but while they relieved
me of one difficulty, they brought on another even more painful than
the one of which I was relieved. The more I read, the more I was led
to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light
than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to
Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced
us to slavery. I loathed them as being the meanest as well as the most
wicked of men. As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very
discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning
to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable
anguish. As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to
read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view
of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the
horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of
agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often
wished myself a beast. I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile
to my own. Any thing, no matter what, to get rid of thinking! It was
this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was
no getting rid of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within
sight or hearing, animate or inanimate. The silver trump of freedom
had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to
disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in
every thing. It was ever present to torment me with a sense of my
wretched condition. I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing
without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from
every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved
in every storm.

I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself
dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I
should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have
been killed. While in this state of mind, I was eager to hear any one
speak of slavery. I was a ready listener. Every little while, I could
hear something about the abolitionists. It was some time before I found
what the word meant. It was always used in such connections as to make
it an interesting word to me. If a slave ran away and succeeded in
getting clear, or if a slave killed his master, set fire to a barn, or
did any thing very wrong in the mind of a slaveholder, it was spoken of
as the fruit of _abolition._ Hearing the word in this connection very
often, I set about learning what it meant. The dictionary afforded me
little or no help. I found it was “the act of abolishing;” but then I
did not know what was to be abolished. Here I was perplexed. I did not
dare to ask any one about its meaning, for I was satisfied that it was
something they wanted me to know very little about. After a patient
waiting, I got one of our city papers, containing an account of the
number of petitions from the north, praying for the abolition of slavery
in the District of Columbia, and of the slave trade between the States.
From this time I understood the words _abolition_ and _abolitionist,_
and always drew near when that word was spoken, expecting to hear
something of importance to myself and fellow-slaves. The light broke in
upon me by degrees. I went one day down on the wharf of Mr. Waters;
and seeing two Irishmen unloading a scow of stone, I went, unasked, and
helped them. When we had finished, one of them came to me and asked
me if I were a slave. I told him I was. He asked, “Are ye a slave for
life?” I told him that I was. The good Irishman seemed to be deeply
affected by the statement. He said to the other that it was a pity so
fine a little fellow as myself should be a slave for life. He said it
was a shame to hold me. They both advised me to run away to the north;
that I should find friends there, and that I should be free. I pretended
not to be interested in what they said, and treated them as if I did not
understand them; for I feared they might be treacherous. White men have
been known to encourage slaves to escape, and then, to get the reward,
catch them and return them to their masters. I was afraid that these
seemingly good men might use me so; but I nevertheless remembered their
advice, and from that time I resolved to run away. I looked forward to
a time at which it would be safe for me to escape. I was too young to
think of doing so immediately; besides, I wished to learn how to write,
as I might have occasion to write my own pass. I consoled myself with
the hope that I should one day find a good chance. Meanwhile, I would
learn to write.

The idea as to how I might learn to write was suggested to me by
being in Durgin and Bailey’s ship-yard, and frequently seeing the ship
carpenters, after hewing, and getting a piece of timber ready for use,
write on the timber the name of that part of the ship for which it was
intended. When a piece of timber was intended for the larboard side, it
would be marked thus–“L.” When a piece was for the starboard side, it
would be marked thus–“S.” A piece for the larboard side forward, would
be marked thus–“L. F.” When a piece was for starboard side forward,
it would be marked thus–“S. F.” For larboard aft, it would be marked
thus–“L. A.” For starboard aft, it would be marked thus–“S. A.” I soon
learned the names of these letters, and for what they were intended when
placed upon a piece of timber in the ship-yard. I immediately commenced
copying them, and in a short time was able to make the four letters
named. After that, when I met with any boy who I knew could write, I
would tell him I could write as well as he. The next word would be, “I
don’t believe you. Let me see you try it.” I would then make the letters
which I had been so fortunate as to learn, and ask him to beat that.
In this way I got a good many lessons in writing, which it is quite
possible I should never have gotten in any other way. During this time,
my copy-book was the board fence, brick wall, and pavement; my pen and
ink was a lump of chalk. With these, I learned mainly how to write. I
then commenced and continued copying the Italics in Webster’s Spelling
Book, until I could make them all without looking on the book. By this
time, my little Master Thomas had gone to school, and learned how to
write, and had written over a number of copy-books. These had been
brought home, and shown to some of our near neighbors, and then laid
aside. My mistress used to go to class meeting at the Wilk Street
meetinghouse every Monday afternoon, and leave me to take care of the
house. When left thus, I used to spend the time in writing in the
spaces left in Master Thomas’s copy-book, copying what he had written. I
continued to do this until I could write a hand very similar to that of
Master Thomas. Thus, after a long, tedious effort for years, I finally
succeeded in learning how to write.

In a very short time after I went to live at Baltimore, my old master’s
youngest son Richard died; and in about three years and six months after
his death, my old master, Captain Anthony, died, leaving only his son,
Andrew, and daughter, Lucretia, to share his estate. He died while on a
visit to see his daughter at Hillsborough. Cut off thus unexpectedly,
he left no will as to the disposal of his property. It was therefore
necessary to have a valuation of the property, that it might be equally
divided between Mrs. Lucretia and Master Andrew. I was immediately sent
for, to be valued with the other property. Here again my feelings rose
up in detestation of slavery. I had now a new conception of my degraded
condition. Prior to this, I had become, if not insensible to my lot,
at least partly so. I left Baltimore with a young heart overborne with
sadness, and a soul full of apprehension. I took passage with Captain
Rowe, in the schooner Wild Cat, and, after a sail of about twenty-four
hours, I found myself near the place of my birth. I had now been absent
from it almost, if not quite, five years. I, however, remembered the
place very well. I was only about five years old when I left it, to go
and live with my old master on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation; so that I was
now between ten and eleven years old.

We were all ranked together at the valuation. Men and women, old and
young, married and single, were ranked with horses, sheep, and swine.
There were horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and children, all
holding the same rank in the scale of being, and were all subjected to
the same narrow examination. Silvery-headed age and sprightly youth,
maids and matrons, had to undergo the same indelicate inspection. At
this moment, I saw more clearly than ever the brutalizing effects of
slavery upon both slave and slaveholder.

After the valuation, then came the division. I have no language to
express the high excitement and deep anxiety which were felt among us
poor slaves during this time. Our fate for life was now to be decided.
we had no more voice in that decision than the brutes among whom we
were ranked. A single word from the white men was enough–against all our
wishes, prayers, and entreaties–to sunder forever the dearest friends,
dearest kindred, and strongest ties known to human beings. In addition
to the pain of separation, there was the horrid dread of falling into
the hands of Master Andrew. He was known to us all as being a most cruel
wretch,–a common drunkard, who had, by his reckless mismanagement and
profligate dissipation, already wasted a large portion of his father’s
property. We all felt that we might as well be sold at once to the
Georgia traders, as to pass into his hands; for we knew that that would
be our inevitable condition,–a condition held by us all in the utmost
horror and dread.

I suffered more anxiety than most of my fellow-slaves. I had known what
it was to be kindly treated; they had known nothing of the kind. They
had seen little or nothing of the world. They were in very deed men and
women of sorrow, and acquainted with grief. Their backs had been made
familiar with the bloody lash, so that they had become callous; mine was
yet tender; for while at Baltimore I got few whippings, and few slaves
could boast of a kinder master and mistress than myself; and the thought
of passing out of their hands into those of Master Andrew–a man who, but
a few days before, to give me a sample of his bloody disposition, took
my little brother by the throat, threw him on the ground, and with the
heel of his boot stamped upon his head till the blood gushed from his
nose and ears–was well calculated to make me anxious as to my fate.
After he had committed this savage outrage upon my brother, he turned
to me, and said that was the way he meant to serve me one of these
days,–meaning, I suppose, when I came into his possession.

Thanks to a kind Providence, I fell to the portion of Mrs. Lucretia, and
was sent immediately back to Baltimore, to live again in the family
of Master Hugh. Their joy at my return equalled their sorrow at my
departure. It was a glad day to me. I had escaped a worse than lion’s
jaws. I was absent from Baltimore, for the purpose of valuation and
division, just about one month, and it seemed to have been six.

Very soon after my return to Baltimore, my mistress, Lucretia, died,
leaving her husband and one child, Amanda; and in a very short time
after her death, Master Andrew died. Now all the property of my old
master, slaves included, was in the hands of strangers,–strangers who
had had nothing to do with accumulating it. Not a slave was left free.
All remained slaves, from the youngest to the oldest. If any one thing
in my experience, more than another, served to deepen my conviction
of the infernal character of slavery, and to fill me with unutterable
loathing of slaveholders, it was their base ingratitude to my poor old
grandmother. She had served my old master faithfully from youth to old
age. She had been the source of all his wealth; she had peopled his
plantation with slaves; she had become a great grandmother in his
service. She had rocked him in infancy, attended him in childhood,
served him through life, and at his death wiped from his icy brow the
cold death-sweat, and closed his eyes forever. She was nevertheless left
a slave–a slave for life–a slave in the hands of strangers; and in
their hands she saw her children, her grandchildren, and her
great-grandchildren, divided, like so many sheep, without being
gratified with the small privilege of a single word, as to their or
her own destiny. And, to cap the climax of their base ingratitude
and fiendish barbarity, my grandmother, who was now very old, having
outlived my old master and all his children, having seen the beginning
and end of all of them, and her present owners finding she was of but
little value, her frame already racked with the pains of old age, and
complete helplessness fast stealing over her once active limbs,
they took her to the woods, built her a little hut, put up a little
mud-chimney, and then made her welcome to the privilege of supporting
herself there in perfect loneliness; thus virtually turning her out to
die! If my poor old grandmother now lives, she lives to suffer in utter
loneliness; she lives to remember and mourn over the loss of children,
the loss of grandchildren, and the loss of great-grandchildren. They
are, in the language of the slave’s poet, Whittier,–

“Gone, gone, sold and gone
To the rice swamp dank and lone,
Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings,
Where the noisome insect stings,
Where the fever-demon strews
Poison with the falling dews,
Where the sickly sunbeams glare
Through the hot and misty air:—
Gone, gone, sold and gone
To the rice swamp dank and lone,
From Virginia hills and waters—
Woe is me, my stolen daughters!”

The hearth is desolate. The children, the unconscious children, who once
sang and danced in her presence, are gone. She gropes her way, in the
darkness of age, for a drink of water. Instead of the voices of her
children, she hears by day the moans of the dove, and by night the
screams of the hideous owl. All is gloom. The grave is at the door. And
now, when weighed down by the pains and aches of old age, when the head
inclines to the feet, when the beginning and ending of human existence
meet, and helpless infancy and painful old age combine together–at
this time, this most needful time, the time for the exercise of that
tenderness and affection which children only can exercise towards a
declining parent–my poor old grandmother, the devoted mother of twelve
children, is left all alone, in yonder little hut, before a few dim
embers. She stands–she sits–she staggers–she falls–she groans–she
dies–and there are none of her children or grandchildren present, to
wipe from her wrinkled brow the cold sweat of death, or to place beneath
the sod her fallen remains. Will not a righteous God visit for these

In about two years after the death of Mrs. Lucretia, Master Thomas
married his second wife. Her name was Rowena Hamilton. She was the
eldest daughter of Mr. William Hamilton. Master now lived in St.
Michael’s. Not long after his marriage, a misunderstanding took place
between himself and Master Hugh; and as a means of punishing his
brother, he took me from him to live with himself at St. Michael’s. Here
I underwent another most painful separation. It, however, was not so
severe as the one I dreaded at the division of property; for, during
this interval, a great change had taken place in Master Hugh and his
once kind and affectionate wife. The influence of brandy upon him, and
of slavery upon her, had effected a disastrous change in the characters
of both; so that, as far as they were concerned, I thought I had little
to lose by the change. But it was not to them that I was attached. It
was to those little Baltimore boys that I felt the strongest attachment.
I had received many good lessons from them, and was still receiving
them, and the thought of leaving them was painful indeed. I was leaving,
too, without the hope of ever being allowed to return. Master Thomas had
said he would never let me return again. The barrier betwixt himself and
brother he considered impassable.

I then had to regret that I did not at least make the attempt to carry
out my resolution to run away; for the chances of success are tenfold
greater from the city than from the country.

I sailed from Baltimore for St. Michael’s in the sloop Amanda, Captain
Edward Dodson. On my passage, I paid particular attention to the
direction which the steamboats took to go to Philadelphia. I found,
instead of going down, on reaching North Point they went up the bay,
in a north-easterly direction. I deemed this knowledge of the utmost
importance. My determination to run away was again revived. I resolved
to wait only so long as the offering of a favorable opportunity. When
that came, I was determined to be off.

I have now reached a period of my life when I can give dates. I left
Baltimore, and went to live with Master Thomas Auld, at St. Michael’s,
in March, 1832. It was now more than seven years since I lived with him
in the family of my old master, on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation. We of
course were now almost entire strangers to each other. He was to me a
new master, and I to him a new slave. I was ignorant of his temper and
disposition; he was equally so of mine. A very short time, however,
brought us into full acquaintance with each other. I was made acquainted
with his wife not less than with himself. They were well matched, being
equally mean and cruel. I was now, for the first time during a space
of more than seven years, made to feel the painful gnawings of hunger–a
something which I had not experienced before since I left Colonel
Lloyd’s plantation. It went hard enough with me then, when I could look
back to no period at which I had enjoyed a sufficiency. It was tenfold
harder after living in Master Hugh’s family, where I had always had
enough to eat, and of that which was good. I have said Master Thomas was
a mean man. He was so. Not to give a slave enough to eat, is regarded as
the most aggravated development of meanness even among slaveholders. The
rule is, no matter how coarse the food, only let there be enough of it.
This is the theory; and in the part of Maryland from which I came, it
is the general practice,–though there are many exceptions. Master Thomas
gave us enough of neither coarse nor fine food. There were four slaves
of us in the kitchen–my sister Eliza, my aunt Priscilla, Henny, and
myself; and we were allowed less than a half of a bushel of corn-meal
per week, and very little else, either in the shape of meat or
vegetables. It was not enough for us to subsist upon. We were therefore
reduced to the wretched necessity of living at the expense of our
neighbors. This we did by begging and stealing, whichever came handy in
the time of need, the one being considered as legitimate as the other.
A great many times have we poor creatures been nearly perishing
with hunger, when food in abundance lay mouldering in the safe and
smoke-house, and our pious mistress was aware of the fact; and yet that
mistress and her husband would kneel every morning, and pray that God
would bless them in basket and store!

Bad as all slaveholders are, we seldom meet one destitute of every
element of character commanding respect. My master was one of this rare
sort. I do not know of one single noble act ever performed by him. The
leading trait in his character was meanness; and if there were any other
element in his nature, it was made subject to this. He was mean; and,
like most other mean men, he lacked the ability to conceal his meanness.
Captain Auld was not born a slaveholder. He had been a poor man, master
only of a Bay craft. He came into possession of all his slaves by
marriage; and of all men, adopted slaveholders are the worst. He was
cruel, but cowardly. He commanded without firmness. In the enforcement
of his rules, he was at times rigid, and at times lax. At times, he
spoke to his slaves with the firmness of Napoleon and the fury of a
demon; at other times, he might well be mistaken for an inquirer who
had lost his way. He did nothing of himself. He might have passed for a
lion, but for his ears. In all things noble which he attempted, his own
meanness shone most conspicuous. His airs, words, and actions, were the
airs, words, and actions of born slaveholders, and, being assumed, were
awkward enough. He was not even a good imitator. He possessed all the
disposition to deceive, but wanted the power. Having no resources within
himself, he was compelled to be the copyist of many, and being such, he
was forever the victim of inconsistency; and of consequence he was an
object of contempt, and was held as such even by his slaves. The luxury
of having slaves of his own to wait upon him was something new and
unprepared for. He was a slaveholder without the ability to hold slaves.
He found himself incapable of managing his slaves either by force,
fear, or fraud. We seldom called him “master;” we generally called him
“Captain Auld,” and were hardly disposed to title him at all. I doubt
not that our conduct had much to do with making him appear awkward,
and of consequence fretful. Our want of reverence for him must have
perplexed him greatly. He wished to have us call him master, but lacked
the firmness necessary to command us to do so. His wife used to insist
upon our calling him so, but to no purpose. In August, 1832, my master
attended a Methodist camp-meeting held in the Bay-side, Talbot county,
and there experienced religion. I indulged a faint hope that his
conversion would lead him to emancipate his slaves, and that, if he did
not do this, it would, at any rate, make him more kind and humane. I was
disappointed in both these respects. It neither made him to be humane
to his slaves, nor to emancipate them. If it had any effect on his
character, it made him more cruel and hateful in all his ways; for I
believe him to have been a much worse man after his conversion than
before. Prior to his conversion, he relied upon his own depravity
to shield and sustain him in his savage barbarity; but after his
conversion, he found religious sanction and support for his slaveholding
cruelty. He made the greatest pretensions to piety. His house was
the house of prayer. He prayed morning, noon, and night. He very
soon distinguished himself among his brethren, and was soon made a
class-leader and exhorter. His activity in revivals was great, and he
proved himself an instrument in the hands of the church in converting
many souls. His house was the preachers’ home. They used to take great
pleasure in coming there to put up; for while he starved us, he stuffed
them. We have had three or four preachers there at a time. The names
of those who used to come most frequently while I lived there, were Mr.
Storks, Mr. Ewery, Mr. Humphry, and Mr. Hickey. I have also seen Mr.
George Cookman at our house. We slaves loved Mr. Cookman. We believed
him to be a good man. We thought him instrumental in getting Mr. Samuel
Harrison, a very rich slaveholder, to emancipate his slaves; and by some
means got the impression that he was laboring to effect the emancipation
of all the slaves. When he was at our house, we were sure to be called
in to prayers. When the others were there, we were sometimes called in
and sometimes not. Mr. Cookman took more notice of us than either of
the other ministers. He could not come among us without betraying his
sympathy for us, and, stupid as we were, we had the sagacity to see it.

While I lived with my master in St. Michael’s, there was a white
young man, a Mr. Wilson, who proposed to keep a Sabbath school for the
instruction of such slaves as might be disposed to learn to read the New
Testament. We met but three times, when Mr. West and Mr. Fairbanks,
both class-leaders, with many others, came upon us with sticks and other
missiles, drove us off, and forbade us to meet again. Thus ended our
little Sabbath school in the pious town of St. Michael’s.

I have said my master found religious sanction for his cruelty. As an
example, I will state one of many facts going to prove the charge.
I have seen him tie up a lame young woman, and whip her with a heavy
cowskin upon her naked shoulders, causing the warm red blood to drip;
and, in justification of the bloody deed, he would quote this passage of
Scripture–“He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be
beaten with many stripes.”

Master would keep this lacerated young woman tied up in this horrid
situation four or five hours at a time. I have known him to tie her up
early in the morning, and whip her before breakfast; leave her, go to
his store, return at dinner, and whip her again, cutting her in the
places already made raw with his cruel lash. The secret of master’s
cruelty toward “Henny” is found in the fact of her being almost
helpless. When quite a child, she fell into the fire, and burned herself
horribly. Her hands were so burnt that she never got the use of them.
She could do very little but bear heavy burdens. She was to master a
bill of expense; and as he was a mean man, she was a constant offence
to him. He seemed desirous of getting the poor girl out of existence.
He gave her away once to his sister; but, being a poor gift, she was
not disposed to keep her. Finally, my benevolent master, to use his
own words, “set her adrift to take care of herself.” Here was a
recently-converted man, holding on upon the mother, and at the same time
turning out her helpless child, to starve and die! Master Thomas was one
of the many pious slaveholders who hold slaves for the very charitable
purpose of taking care of them.

My master and myself had quite a number of differences. He found
me unsuitable to his purpose. My city life, he said, had had a very
pernicious effect upon me. It had almost ruined me for every good
purpose, and fitted me for every thing which was bad. One of my greatest
faults was that of letting his horse run away, and go down to his
father-inlaw’s farm, which was about five miles from St. Michael’s. I
would then have to go after it. My reason for this kind of carelessness,
or carefulness, was, that I could always get something to eat when I
went there. Master William Hamilton, my master’s father-in-law, always
gave his slaves enough to eat. I never left there hungry, no matter
how great the need of my speedy return. Master Thomas at length said he
would stand it no longer. I had lived with him nine months, during
which time he had given me a number of severe whippings, all to no good
purpose. He resolved to put me out, as he said, to be broken; and, for
this purpose, he let me for one year to a man named Edward Covey. Mr.
Covey was a poor man, a farm-renter. He rented the place upon which he
lived, as also the hands with which he tilled it. Mr. Covey had acquired
a very high reputation for breaking young slaves, and this reputation
was of immense value to him. It enabled him to get his farm tilled with
much less expense to himself than he could have had it done without such
a reputation. Some slaveholders thought it not much loss to allow Mr.
Covey to have their slaves one year, for the sake of the training to
which they were subjected, without any other compensation. He could hire
young help with great ease, in consequence of this reputation. Added
to the natural good qualities of Mr. Covey, he was a professor of
religion–a pious soul–a member and a class-leader in the
Methodist church. All of this added weight to his reputation as a
“nigger-breaker.” I was aware of all the facts, having been made
acquainted with them by a young man who had lived there. I nevertheless
made the change gladly; for I was sure of getting enough to eat, which
is not the smallest consideration to a hungry man.