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    CHAPTER V.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER VII.

Brown, Josephine
Biography of an American Bondman



"A bitter smile was on her cheek,
And a dark flash in her eye."

After remaining on the farm for a few weeks, under the iron rule of the overseer, William was again hired out to the proprietors of the steamer "Enterprise." On the second trip of the boat's return from Galena, she took on board, at Hannibal, a noted slave-trader, named Walker, who had with him between fifty and sixty slaves, consisting chiefly of men and women adapted to field service. In this gang of slaves, however, was a young woman, apparently about twenty years of age, with blue eyes, straight brown hair, prominent features, and perfectly white, with no indication whatever that a drop of African blood coursed through her veins. In describing this girl, in the published narrative of his life, Mr. Brown says:--"The woman attracted universal attention; but it was not so much the fairness of her complexion that created such a sensation among those who gazed upon her finely chiselled features; it was her almost unequalled beauty. She had been on board but a short time, before both ladies and gentleman left their easy chairs to view the white slave. Throughout the day, the topic of conversation was the beautiful slave girl." This young woman was the daughter of a slave holder, by one of his

mulatto servants. Much anxiety was felt among the passengers to learn the history of this beautiful and innocent creature. The trader kept near her all the time. On the arrival of the boat at St. Louis, the gang, including the white slave, was removed to another steamer, bound for New Orleans, and the speculator, no doubt, on reaching the place of his destination, sold this American daughter for a high price, on account of her personal charms.

The steamer soon after being laid up for the remainder of the season, William was once more taken home, and employed as a house servant and carriage driver. It was while acting in this capacity, that a deed of cruelty was committed, which is graphically described by Mr. Brown in his published narrative. While driving his master's carriage to church one Sabbath morning, he saw Mr. D.D. Page, with whom he was well acquainted, chasing one of his slaves round the yard, cutting him at every jump with a long negro-whip. Mr. Page, seeing the truthful charges of Mr. Brown published, employed the Rev. Dr. A. Bullard, a pro-slavery, negro-hating clergyman, formerly of the North, but now of St. Louis, to refute the charge; which the Doctor attempt to do, in a series of articles published in the columns of Northern pro-slavery papers of his own denomination. But the Presbyterian D.D., instead of mending the matter for his patron, made it worse, and caused the public to regard himself as a miserable tool. Mr. Page has since failed in his banking business, and swindled his creditors out of large sums; and has no doubt lost the misplaced confidence of his renegade theological friend.


Haskell, the overseer, experienced religion about this time, and joined the Duncards, a religious sect located at the Southwest, who baptise by immersion, dipping their converts three times. The overseer being an unprincipled scamp, noted for his drinking propensities, and for cheating all with whom he dealt, a large number of persons assembled to witness the baptismal ceremony performed on the negro-driver. Some of the blacks are very superstitious, and are of opinion that the Lord will answer their prayers, in any case when they ask for the extermination of bad men. So, the day that the overseer was led to the pond to have his sins washed out, not less than nine of the oldest slaves went on their knees, and prayed that the cruel negro-driver might not come out of the water alive. Among the crowd that had come together was old Peter Swite, who kept a dram shop, and who complained that Haskell owed him several dollars for drink, but which the overseer denied. As John Mason, the minister, pulled the negro-driver up, after dipping him the third time, old Peter took his pipe from his mouth, and cried out, at the top of his voice, "Douce him again, John! He's a dirty dog; I know him well; he never pays his debts." So the minister, either forgetting himself, or really thinking his new convert needed the fourth dip, put the sinner once more under the water. This last plunge came near drowning him, for the man of God was much exhausted, and was scarcely able to lift the negro-driver out of the water, and the latter had taken two or three hearty drinks before he was drawn to the surface. Although the prayers of the slaves

were not answered, they nevertheless took great credit to themselves for the misstep of the minister. That night, the slaves on the whole plantation were in the highest glee. The opossums that had been lying in the frost were taken down and baked with sweet potatoes, and every voice ascended to God; either in prayer or in song, for the half success of their prayers at the baptism.

    CHAPTER V.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER VII.