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Chapter VIII

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CHAPTER VIII.

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 all were 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

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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 fate 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 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

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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 grand-mother 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-grand
children, 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's 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

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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 things?

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 his
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

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offering of a favorable opportunity. When that came, I was determined to
be off."

Description

DEATH OF AARON ANTHONY AND DIVISION OF HIS ESTATE, INCLUDING HIS SLAVES. RETURNED TO LIVE WITH HUGH AULD. THOMAS AULD’S TREATMENT OF BETSEY BAILEY. RETURNED TO ST. MICHAELS.