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A Mother Who Sympathizes with the Female Slave to Frederick Douglass, April 4, 1853

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For Frederick Douglass' Paper.

A Touching Story.

About three weeks since, a colored man
called and informed me that a fugitive mother,
with nine children, had arrived in the neigh-
borhood. This was exciting intelligence, and
I hastened to see them. On entering the
house where they were, I saw four or five chil-
dren lying asleep on the floor, exhausted
with fatigue. The mother held a little one
on her lap, and opposite her sat two girls,
eighteen and twenty years of age, the former
with a young infant in her arms, (another
victim to a brutal master.) I entered into
conversation with the woman, and learnt that
her husband had been sold some time previ-
ous; that she had accidentally heard that her
two daughters were purchased by a trader
"to go down the river," for the sum of 1800
dollars; and that after receiving this intelli-
gence, she determined on endeavoring
to escape. She collected her children to-
gether at midnight, and commenced her per-
ilous journey. They arrived at the river
after a walk of three miles, where they
providentially found a boat
"unlocked." With the assistance of one of the boys, the
mother rowed them all over in safety. They
still proceeded on foot for a considerable dis-
tance, till they reached the house of a faith
ful minister of Christ, who deems it a part
of his sacred duties to sympathize with the
oppressed, and to help them on their weary
way. He gave them food and shelter, and
they were subsequently forwarded in this di-
rection; and after great fatigue and expo-
sure, they arrived in safety at this
place. Thus far the story is sufficiently touching;
but the most thrilling incident remains un-
told. When first I visited this family, I saw
lying on a temporary bed, a little emaciated
child, apparently about two years old. (I
afterward learnt, however, that he was more
than this.) In surprise, I inquired of the
woman, whether he was next of age to the
little one on her knee, or if they were twins?
She answered, "he is not mine at all; his
mother died a year ago, and left him in my
care, and to be sure I was not going to leave
him behind." My eyes filled with tears at this
affecting reply, as doubtlessly will be the case
with many who read it. On further inquiry,
I learnt that this child was a little delicate
creature; that he was the son of his master,
(who was giving expression to his parental
feelings by pursuing him with a large reward
for his apprehension;) that his mother com-ons whom
she had met with on her way had offered to
take charge of the child; but "she had made
up her mind he should be free, and
mitted him to this woman when she died,
and she had treated him as her own. She
told me further, that several pers she would
not give him up to nobody." But that Sa-
vior who loves little children had otherwise
ordered the matter.

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The fatigue and exposure incident to the
journey were too much for his delicate
frame; and when the family left this place
he was too ill to be removed. They were
closely pursued, and a reward of two thou-
sand dollars offered for their apprehension.
Delay on their part would have been unwise;
he was therefore left behind. A few days
after, he expired. On the succeeding Sab-
bath he was buried, I may say with "public
honors," and each individual in the place had
the privilege of contributing a small piece of
silver for the purpose of erecting a table over
his grave, to perpetuate in marble this thrill-
ing story.

While we were awaiting with considerable
anxiety some information respecting this
fugitive family, a Canada paper arrived con-
taining the following amusing, but satisfac-
tory announcement:

"A woman with eight children has just ar-
rived here. She escaped from Rice Bottom,
of Kentucky. They were all the slaves he
had. She wishes to tell her old master that
she is safe in Canada with all her children;
and that she met her brother Thornton ten
minutes after she landed. She wishes like-
wise to thank him for selling her two daugh-
ters to the soul-driver for $1800, as that was
why she escaped and became free."

Thus this intrepid woman, without husband
or brother to aid her, accomplished her diffi-
cult and dangerous journey burthened with
three infants, and arrived at last in a land of
freedom, where she will doubtless find it easy,
uneducated as she is, to solve the disputed
problem, whether her liberties will be most
secure beneath the spreading wings of the
Republican eagle, or under the shadow of
the British throne.

Were this exploit related of some Greek
or Hungarian mother, poets would sound
her praises, and her fame would reach the
furthest extremity of the civilized
world. But the slave woman shall not be forgotten
her—record is on high."

Women of America, will you listen with
apathy to a story like this? or will you not
rather use the influence which God has given
you to induce your fathers, husbands and
brothers to lend their aid in putting down
that accursed system, where fathers pursue
their own offspring for the purpose of bring-
ing them again into perpetual bondage, as-
sisted in their cruel enterprise by a promis-
ed reward of $2,000?


April 4th, 1853.


A Mother Who Sympathizes with the Female Slave


April 4, 1853


A Mother Who Sympathizes with the Female Slave to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 15 April 1853. Hopes to draw on the sympathies of southern women by reporting on the daring escape of a female slave with her children.


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


Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, N.Y.) 1851-18??



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