"Rouse ye, and break the massive chain,
The fetter'd slave that binds;
And check the sorrow and the pain
The wretched negro finds."
Five different biographies of the subject of the following pages have been published, during the last seven years,--two in the United States and three in Great Britain. Of these, one was translated into German, and appeared in Dresden, and another was published in the French language in Paris. The writer of this, however, fancies that the relation which she holds to the author of "Sketches Of Places And People Abroad," gives her an advantage over those who have preceded her.
William Wells Brown was born on the farm of Dr. John Young, near Lexington, Kentucky, on the
William was separated from his mother at an early age, and was but seldom allowed to see her. The young slave was taught by bitter experience the want
Doctor Young having been elected to represent his district in the State Legislature, Cook took the entire management of the plantation. The Doctor had repeatedly told him not to attempt to whip Randall, but he was determined to try it. As soon as he was sole dictator, he thought the time had come to put his threats into execution. He soon began to find fault with Randall, and threatened to whip him of he did not do better. One day he gave him a very hard task,--more than he could possibly do,--and at night, the task not being performed, he told Randall that he should remember him the next morning.
On the following morning, after the hands had taken breakfast, Cook called out Randall and told him that he intended to whip him, and ordered him to cross his hands and be tied. The slave asked why he wished to whip him. He answered, because he had not finished his task the day previous. Randall said his task was too great, or he should have done it. Cook said it made no difference, he should whip him. The slave stood silent for a moment, and then said-- "Mr. Cook, I have always tried to please you since you have been on the plantation, and I find that you are determined not to be pleased or satisfied with my work, let me do as well as I may. No man has laid hands on me to whip me for the last ten years, and I have long since come to the conclusion not to be whipped by any man
Nothing was said to Randall by the overseer for more than a week. One morning, however, while the hands were at work in the field, he came into it, accompanied by three friends of his, -- Thompson, Woodbridge, and Jones. They came up to where Randall was at work, and Cook ordered him to leave and go with them to the barn. He refused to go; whereupon he was attacked by the overseer and his companions, when he turned upon them, and laid them one after another prostrate before him. Woodbridge drew out his pistol and fired at him, and brought him to the ground. The others rushed upon him with their clubs, and beat him over the head and face until they succeeded in tying him. He was then taken to a barn and tied to a beam. Cook gave him above one hundred lashed with a heavy cowhide, had his wounds washed with salt and water, and left him tied during the night. The next day, he was united, and taken to
When the Doctor returned home, he was pleased to find that Randall had been subdued in his absence, and highly praised the overseer for his good qualities as a negro-breaker.
The negro quarters were situated some distance from the master's mansion, or "great house," as it was called. The cabins were built of wood, with only one room, and no floor. The owner seldom provides bed and bedding for his slaves, unless merely to give each one a course blanket; and those who are so fortunate as to get more than this, think themselves luxurious liver. The blowing of the horn and the ringing of the bell were the signals for Dr. Young's slaves to start in the morning to their daily toil, which lasted from twelve to fourteen hours. Being employed either as house servant, or in his master's medical department, William was exempt from the call of the horn and bell. Nevertheless, his life was a hard one. Nearly related to the Doctor, Mrs. Young was always punishing the young slave for some supposed offence, which, after all, was only because she felt angry and humiliated at the idea of having her husband's "negro relations" in her sight. The nearer a slave approaches an Anglo-Saxon in complexion, the more he is abused by both owner and fellow-slaves. The owner flogs him to keep him "in his place," and the slaves hate him on account of his being whiter than themselves, Thus the complexion of the slave becomes a crime,
If there is one evil connected with the abominable system of slavery which should be loathed more than another, it is taking from woman the right of self-defence, and making her subject to the control of any licentious villain who may be able to purchase her person. But amalgamation is only one of the impure branches which flow from this poisonous stream.