"Tell the man who dares to barter
In his brother's flesh and blood,
He has broken the high charter
Of our comon brotherhood!"
Dr. Young removed from the interior of Missouri, when William was thirteen years old, to St. Louis, where he purchased a farm of three thousand acres of land, within four miles of the city. Here he employed an overseer named Haskell, who was scarcely; less cruel than Cook. William, however, was let out to Major Freeland, and inn-keeper in St. Louis. Freeland was from Virginia, and claimed to be one of the aristocracy of the Old Dominion. The Major was a horse-racer, gambler, cock-fighter, and was occasionally drunk, and would then rave about like a madman. When in these fits, he would take up a chair and throw it at any of the servants who came in his way. William had been with Freeland but a few weeks. When the Major tied the young slave up in the smoke-house, after whipping him severely, and caused him to be smoked with tobacco, the boy sneezing, coughing and weeping during this fiendish act.
William ran away, and went home and told his master of his ill treatment by Freeland. Instead of the Doctor sympathizing with his nephew, he flogged the boy, and sent him back to his employer. Fearing
After remaining with this monster for some months, the young and friendless slave-boy was hired out as a servant on one of the steamers running between St. Louis and Galena. Here he was first impressed with a love for freedom. As he saw others going from place to place, and using the liberty that God endowed every human being, with he pined to be as free as those who moved about him. Being at St. Louis on the Fourth of July, William had an opportunity of hearing an oration from the Hon. Thomas Hart Benton. The boy's young heart leaped with enthusiasm as he listened to the burning eloquence of "Old Bullion." It is a dangerous thing to permit a slave to hear these July orations; it kindles a feeling in favor of freedom which can never be effaced. It was so with William. "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,"-- said the Senator, in
From the moment that William heard the speech of Mr. Benton, he resolved that he would be free, and to this early determination, the cause of human freedom is indebted for one of its most effective advocates.
At the close of the summer, the boy was again taken home to the Doctor's plantation, and put to work in the field under Haskell, the overseer. The change was so great, that William wilted down under the hot sun, and the hard work given to him by the driver. The poor slave experienced all that the house servant must go through, on being transferred from the cabin of a steamer, or the master's mansion, to the rough labors of the field.