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Cincinnatus to Frederick Douglass, July 3, 1848


Messrs. Editors:ー
Agreeably to promise, I now proceed to give you some account of doings in our Western Queen. Politicians here are dumb-foundered, struck with astonishment and awe. The political horizon wears a checkered hue; here and there may be seen streaks of red and black, bearing ominous presages of fearful catastrophe. The astrologers turn over their musty pages, but find therein no solitary line by which to clearly prognosticate the future. The friends of Cass appear to be very much cast down, whilst the Taylor men are cutting their coats agreeably to the cloth. Still, I should not be much surprised if, with all the assistance of the Taylor, some of them should be unable to hide their nakedness.
For the last three or four days, our colored community has been thrown into somewhat of an excitement. It appears that some eight or ten slaves took into their heads a disposition (those contracted by the cunning art of Nature) to try the realities of that liberty which the French have been fighting so hard for, and the Americans boasting so loudly of. ー Well, sure enough, with this same natural disposition which poor human nature is prone to, they left their good and pious master, (who, by the way, is a deacon in a church,) and fled towards the Northern lights. There are other uses of the North Star besides piloting the sailor on the mighty deep. They landed on the Ohio banks on Friday morning, three miles below the city. There they encountered an honest Dutchman, bearing vegetables to market. "How much to haul us in your cart?" said the spokesman of the fugitives, a tall, eagle-eyed looking fellow, with strong determination traced upon his sable brow. "Nothing, more than you are able to give," said the honest German. He saw the haggard eyes, the parched lips, the lacerated feet of the women and children around him, and his heart yearned with kindness. Why should they suffer so much for liberty, if they are so happy and contented in slavery?
The[y] arrived in the city, and as Providence would have it, they fell into the hands of confraternity , who immediately struck for the under-railwayーa road known to none but those initiated into the mysteries of Syble.ーOn Saturday, hot and heavy, came the bloodhounds in quest of their preyーbowie-knives in their pockets, and revolvers in their hats. Onward marched the invincible myrmidons, to make an attack on a worthy old gentleman by the name of Burgesーa man, too, that is a cripple. Here they made some very boisterous, chivalrous, and Southern-like threats, which ever and anon the old man replied by the shake of his crutch. They then repaired, after recruiting their numbers with the assistance of a horse-stable bully by the name of Ryder, to the residence of Mr. William Casey. Here two or three of them held Mr. Casey, while the rest searched the premises. They told him they were hunting horse-thieves. Casey told them they lied; they were looking for slaves; but they never would see them unless they could see to Detroit from Cincinnati.
Here the women began to gather around from adjoining houses, until the Amazons were about equal to the Myrmidonsーthe former with shovels, tongs, wash-boards and rolling-pins; the latter, with their revolvers sword-canes and bowie-knives. Finally, however, without coming to blows, the besiegers decamped, leaving the Amazons in possession of the field, amid the jeers and loud huzzas of the crowd, for many were the curious spectators there to witness the fearful encounter! On Monday, 4 o'clock, they gathered around the school-house kept by Mr. Childs, formerly by Mr. Gilmore. They wished to search his premises without a warrant. This he refused to suffer. "What's the reason you can't let us search, you darned abolitionist?" inquired a ruffianly, dirty-looking Kentuckian, who appeared to be a white slave of the Deacon. "Gentlemen, if you are looking for any property you have lost, you may search my house without a warrant." "Well, then, sir," said the Deacon, "let us go in and look for those negroes.ーThey are my property as much so as your cow or your horse are your property." Upon saying this, two or three of them made a step or two towards the door. "Hold, gentlemen, if you please; if you break that door, you do it at your peril. You must suffer me to differ with you, sirs. I am one of those strange, yet natural kind of men, who cannot believe that property can consist in man. Therefore, I command you not to enter my house; for if a slave should be there concealed, the which I do not aver, I should be accessary to the capture of that slave, if you should find it there." Here a fellow cried out at the top of his lungs, "Let's surround the house;" and away they scattered, some one way, and some another, until they had quite surrounded it.
Then, could some wit have seen them crawling under the school-house, amidst dirt, fleas, hogs, and rats, which, as disturbed by the Kentuckians, broke forth from their "own secluded dwelling."

"O' wad some power the giftie gie us,

to see oursels as others see us!"
Amid the laughter and jeers of the crowd, they sneaked off quite chop-fallen.
The ladies have commenced holding a fair in Bethel Church, to raise money to build a new church, much larger than the old one.ーThe fair is a very fine af-fair, by the way, if beauty, wit, and merriment can make it so.ーGod bless the ladies of Cincinnati! they are ahead in every good work. No more.
July 3, 1848.


Cincinnatus (pseudonym)




Cincinnatus to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: NS, 11 August 1848. Details disturbance in Cincinnati caused by search for escaped slaves.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


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