|CHAPTER III. -- How I Gained My Freedom|
THE years passed and brought many changes to me, but on these I will not dwell, as I wish to hasten to the most interesting part of my story. My troubles in North Carolina were brought to an end by my unexpected return to Virginia, where I lived with Mr. Garland, who had married Miss Ann Burwell, one of my old masters's daughters. His life was not a prosperous one, and after struggling with the world for several years he left his native State, a disappointed man. He moved to St. Louis, hoping to improve his fortune in the West;
"Lizzie, I have told you often not to trouble me with such a question. If you really wish to leave me, take this: it will pay the passage of yourself and boy on the ferry-boat, and when you are on the other side of the river you will be free. It is the cheapest way that I know of to accomplish what you desire."
I looked at him in astonishment, and earnestly replied: "No, master, I do not wish to be free in such a manner. If such had been my wish, I should never have troubled you about obtaining your consent to my purchasing myself. I can
This was joyful intelligence for me, and the reflection of hope gave a silver lining to the dark cloud of my life--faint, it is true, but still a silver lining.
Taking a prospective glance at liberty, I consented to marry. The wedding was a great event in the family. The ceremony took place in the parlor, in the presence of the family and a number of guests. Mr. Garland gave me away, and the pastor, Bishop Hawks, performed the
I went to work in earnest to purchase my freedom, but the years passed, and I was still a slave. Mr. Garland's family claimed so much of my attention--in fact, I supported them --that I was not able to accumulate anything. In the mean time Mr. Garland died, and Mr. Burwell, a Mississippi planter, came to St. Louis to settle up the estate. He was a kind-hearted man, and said I should be free, and would afford me every facility to raise the necessary amount to pay the price of my liberty. Several schemes were urged
"Yes, yes, Lizzie; the scheme is a fair one, and you shall have my name. But I shall bid you good-by when you start."
"Good-by for a short time," I ventured to add.
"No, good-by for all time," and he looked at me as if he would read my very soul with his eyes.
I was startled. "What do you mean, Mr. Farrow? Surely you do not think that I do not mean to come back?"
"No, what then?"
"Simply this: you mean to come back, that is, you mean so now, but you never will. When you reach New York the abolitionists will tell you what savages we are, and they will prevail on you to stay there; and we shall never see you again."
"But I assure you, Mr. Farrow, you are mistaken. I not only mean to come back, but will come back, and pay every cent of the twelve hundred dollars for myself and child."
I was beginning to feel sick at heart, for I could not accept the signature of this man when he had no faith in my pledges. No; slavery,
"But--I am not mistaken," he persisted. "Time will show. When you start for the North I shall bid you good-by."
The heart grew heavy. Every ray of sunshine was eclipsed. With humbled pride, weary step, tearful face, and a dull, aching pain, I left the house. I walked along the street mechanically. The cloud had no silver lining now. The rose buds of hope had withered and died without lifting up their heads to receive the dew kiss of morning. There was no morning for me--all was night, dark night.
I reached my own home, and weeping threw myself upon the bed. My trunk was packed, my luncheon was prepared by mother, the cars were ready to bear me where I would not hear the clank of chains, where I would breathe the free, invigorating breezes of the glorious North. I had dreamed such a happy dream, in imagination
The first paroxysm of grief was scarcely over, when a carriage stopped in front of the house; Mrs. Le Bourgois, one of my kind patrons, got out of it and entered the door. She seemed to bring sunshine with her handsome cherry face. She came to where I was, and in here sweet way said:--
"Lizzie, I hear that you are going to New York to beg for money to buy your freedom. I have been thinking over the matter, and told Ma it would be a shame to allow you to go North to beg for what we should give you. You have many friends in St. Louis, and I am going to raise the twelve hundred dollars required among them. I have two hundred dollars put away for a present; am indebted to you one hundred dollars;
Like a ray of sunshine she came, and like a ray of sunshine she went away. The flowers no longer were withered, drooping. Again they seemed to bud and grow in fragrance and beauty. Mrs. Le Bourgois, God bless her dear good heart, was more than successful. The twelve hundred dollars were raised, and at last my son and myself were free. Free, free! what a glorious ring to the word. Free! the bitter heart-struggle was over. Free! the soul could go out to heaven and to God with no chains to clog its flight or pull it down. Free! the earth wore a brighter look, and the very stars seemed to sing with joy. Yes, free! free by the laws of man and the smile of God-- and Heaven bless them who made me so!
The following, copied from the original papers, contain, in brief, the history of my emancipation:--
"I promise to give Lizzie and here son George their freedom, on the payment of $1200.
"Anne P. Garland.
"June 27, 1855."
"LIZZY: --I send you this note to sign for the sum of $75, and when I give you the whole amount you will then sign the other note for $100.
"Ellen M. Doan.
"In the paper you will find $25; see it is all right before the girl leaves."
"I have received of Lizzy Keckley $950, which I have deposited with Darby & Barksdale for her--$600 on the 21st July, $300 on the 27th and 28th of July, and $50 on 13th August, 1855.
"I have and shall make use of said money for Lizzy's benefit, and hereby guarantee to her one
"Willis L. Williams.
"ST. LOUIS, 13th August, 1855."
"Know all men by these presents, that for and in consideration of the love and affection we bear towards our sister, Anne P. Garland, of St. Louis, Missouri, and for the further consideration of $5 in hand paid, we hereby sell and convey unto her, the said Anne P. Garland, a negro woman named Lizzie, and a negro boy, her son, named George; said Lizzie now resides at St. Louis, and is a seamstress, known there as Lizzie Garland, the wife of a yellow man named James, and called James Keckley; said George is a bright mulatto boy, and is known in St. Louis as Garland's George. We warrant these two slaves to be slaves for
"Witness our hands and seals, this 10th day of August, 1855.
"JAS. R. PUTNAM,[L.S.]
"E. M. PUTNAM, [L.S.]
" A. Burwell, [L.S.]"
"The State of Mississippi, Warren
County, City of Vicksburg.
"Be it remembered, that on the tenth day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five, before me, Francis N. Steele, a Commissioner, resident in the city of Vicksburg, duly commissioned and qualified by the executives authority, and under the laws of the State of Missouri, to take the acknowledgment of deeds, etc., to be used or recorded therein, personally appeared James R. Putnam and E. M. Putnam, his wife, and Armistead Burwell, to me known to be the individuals named in, and who
"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my official seal, this 10th day of August, A.D. 1855.
"F. N. Steele,
"Commissioner for Missouri."
"Know all men that, I, Anne P. Garland, of the County and City of St. Louis, State of Missouri, for and in consideration of the sum of $1200, to me in hand paid this day in cash, hereby emancipate
"Witness my hand and seal, this 13th day of November, 1855.
"ANNE P. GARLAND, [L.S.]
"Witness: --JOHN WICKHAM,
"Willis L. Williams."
In St. Louis Circuit Court, October Term, 1855.
November 15, 1855.
"State of Missouri,
County of St. Louis.
"Be it remembered, that on this fifteenth day of November; eighteen hundred and fifty-five, in
"In testimony whereof I hereto set my hand and affix the seal of said court, at office in the City of St. Louis, the day and year last aforesaid.
"Wm. J. Hammond,
"State of Missouri,
County of St. Louis.
"I, Wm. J. Hammond, Clerk of the Circuit Court within and for the county aforesaid, certify the foregoing to be a true copy of a deed of emancipation from Anne P. Garland to Lizzie and her son George, as fully as the same remain in my office.
"In testimony whereof I hereto set my hand and
"Wm. J. Hammond, Clerk.
"By WM. A. Pennington, D.C."
"State of Missouri,
County of St. Louis.
"I, the undersigned Recorder of said county, certify that the foregoing instrument of writing was filed for record in my office on the 14th day of November, 1855; it is truly recorded in Book No. 169, page 288.
"Witness my hand and official seal, date last aforesaid.
[L.S.] "C. Keemle, Recorder."