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Chapter 22

_Liberty Attained_

TRANSITION FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM--A WANDERER IN NEW YORK--
FEELINGS ON REACHING THAT CITY--AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE MET--
UNFAVORABLE IMPRESSIONS--LONELINESS AND INSECURITY--APOLOGY FOR
SLAVES WHO RETURN TO THEIR MASTERS--COMPELLED TO TELL MY
CONDITION--SUCCORED BY A SAILOR--DAVID RUGGLES--THE UNDERGROUND
RAILROAD--MARRIAGE--BAGGAGE TAKEN FROM ME--KINDNESS OF NATHAN
JOHNSON--MY CHANGE OF NAME--DARK NOTIONS OF NORTHERN
CIVILIZATION--THE CONTRAST--COLORED PEOPLE IN NEW BEDFORD--AN
INCIDENT ILLUSTRATING THEIR SPIRIT--A COMMON LABORER--DENIED WORK
AT MY TRADE--THE FIRST WINTER AT THE NORTH--REPULSE AT THE DOORS
OF THE CHURCH--SANCTIFIED HATE--THE _Liberator_ AND ITS EDITOR.


There is no necessity for any extended notice of the incidents of
this part of my life. There is nothing very striking or peculiar
about my career as a freeman, when viewed apart from my life as a
slave. The relation subsisting between my early experience and
that which I am now about to narrate, is, perhaps, my best
apology for adding another chapter to this book.

Disappearing from the kind reader, in a flying cloud or balloon
(pardon the figure), driven by the wind, and knowing not where I
should land--whether in slavery or in freedom--it is proper that
I should remove, at once, all anxiety, by frankly making known
where I alighted. The flight was a bold and perilous one; but
here I am, in the great city of New York, safe and sound, without
loss of blood or bone. In less than a week after leaving
Baltimore, I was walking amid the hurrying throng, and gazing
upon the dazzling wonders of Broadway. The dreams <262>of my
childhood and the purposes of my manhood were now fulfilled. A
free state around me, and a free earth under my feet! What a
moment was this to me! A whole year was pressed into a single
day. A new world burst upon my agitated vision. I have often
been asked, by kind friends to whom I have told my story, how I
felt when first I found myself beyond the limits of slavery; and
I must say here, as I have often said to them, there is scarcely
anything about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer.
It was a moment of joyous excitement, which no words can
describe. In a letter to a friend, written soon after reaching
New York. I said I felt as one might be supposed to feel, on
escaping from a den of hungry lions. But, in a moment like that,
sensations are too intense and too rapid for words. Anguish and
grief, like darkness and rain, may be described, but joy and
gladness, like the rainbow of promise, defy alike the pen and
pencil.

For ten or fifteen years I had been dragging a heavy chain, with
a huge block attached to it, cumbering my every motion. I had
felt myself doomed to drag this chain and this block through
life. All efforts, before, to separate myself from the hateful
encumbrance, had only seemed to rivet me the more firmly to it.
Baffled and discouraged at times, I had asked myself the
question, May not this, after all, be God's work? May He not,
for wise ends, have doomed me to this lot? A contest had been
going on in my mind for years, between the clear consciousness of
right and the plausible errors of superstition; between the
wisdom of manly courage, and the foolish weakness of timidity.
The contest was now ended; the chain was severed; God and right
stood vindicated. I was A FREEMAN, and the voice of peace and
joy thrilled my heart.

Free and joyous, however, as I was, joy was not the only
sensation I experienced. It was like the quick blaze, beautiful
at the first, but which subsiding, leaves the building charred
and desolate. I was soon taught that I was still in an enemy's
land. A sense of loneliness and insecurity oppressed me sadly.
I had <263 MEET WITH A FUGITIVE SLAVE>been but a few hours in New
York, before I was met in the streets by a fugitive slave, well
known to me, and the information I got from him respecting New
York, did nothing to lessen my apprehension of danger. The
fugitive in question was "Allender's Jake," in Baltimore; but,
said he, I am "WILLIAM DIXON," in New York! I knew Jake well,
and knew when Tolly Allender and Mr. Price (for the latter
employed Master Hugh as his foreman, in his shipyard on Fell's
Point) made an attempt to recapture Jake, and failed. Jake told
me all about his circumstances, and how narrowly he escaped being
taken back to slavery; that the city was now full of southerners,
returning from the springs; that the black people in New York
were not to be trusted; that there were hired men on the lookout
for fugitives from slavery, and who, for a few dollars, would
betray me into the hands of the slave-catchers; that I must trust
no man with my secret; that I must not think of going either on
the wharves to work, or to a boarding-house to board; and, worse
still, this same Jake told me it was not in his power to help me.
He seemed, even while cautioning me, to be fearing lest, after
all, I might be a party to a second attempt to recapture him.
Under the inspiration of this thought, I must suppose it was, he
gave signs of a wish to get rid of me, and soon left me his
whitewash brush in hand--as he said, for his work. He was soon
lost to sight among the throng, and I was alone again, an easy
prey to the kidnappers, if any should happen to be on my track.

New York, seventeen years ago, was less a place of safety for a
runaway slave than now, and all know how unsafe it now is, under
the new fugitive slave bill. I was much troubled. I had very
little money enough to buy me a few loaves of bread, but not
enough to pay board, outside a lumber yard. I saw the wisdom of
keeping away from the ship yards, for if Master Hugh pursued me,
he would naturally expect to find me looking for work among the
calkers. For a time, every door seemed closed against me. A
sense of my loneliness and helplessness crept over me, <264>and
covered me with something bordering on despair. In the midst of
thousands of my fellowmen, and yet a perfect stranger! In the
midst of human brothers, and yet more fearful of them than of
hungry wolves! I was without home, without friends, without
work, without money, and without any definite knowledge of which
way to go, or where to look for succor.

Some apology can easily be made for the few slaves who have,
after making good their escape, turned back to slavery,
preferring the actual rule of their masters, to the life of
loneliness, apprehension, hunger, and anxiety, which meets them
on their first arrival in a free state. It is difficult for a
freeman to enter into the feelings of such fugitives. He cannot
see things in the same light with the slave, because he does not,
and cannot, look from the same point from which the slave does.
"Why do you tremble," he says to the slave "you are in a free
state;" but the difficulty is, in realizing that he is in a free
state, the slave might reply. A freeman cannot understand why
the slave-master's shadow is bigger, to the slave, than the might
and majesty of a free state; but when he reflects that the slave
knows more about the slavery of his master than he does of the
might and majesty of the free state, he has the explanation. The
slave has been all his life learning the power of his master--
being trained to dread his approach--and only a few hours
learning the power of the state. The master is to him a stern
and flinty reality, but the state is little more than a dream.
He has been accustomed to regard every white man as the friend of
his master, and every colored man as more or less under the
control of his master's friends--the white people. It takes
stout nerves to stand up, in such circumstances. A man,
homeless, shelterless, breadless, friendless, and moneyless, is
not in a condition to assume a very proud or joyous tone; and in
just this condition was I, while wandering about the streets of
New York city and lodging, at least one night, among the barrels
on one of its wharves. I was not only free from slavery, but I
was free from home, as well. The reader <265 MARRIAGE>will
easily see that I had something more than the simple fact of
being free to think of, in this extremity.

I kept my secret as long as I could, and at last was forced to go
in search of an honest man--a man sufficiently _human_ not to
betray me into the hands of slave-catchers. I was not a bad
reader of the human face, nor long in selecting the right man,
when once compelled to disclose the facts of my condition to some
one.

I found my man in the person of one who said his name was
Stewart. He was a sailor, warm-hearted and generous, and he
listened to my story with a brother's interest. I told him I was
running for my freedom--knew not where to go--money almost gone--
was hungry--thought it unsafe to go the shipyards for work, and
needed a friend. Stewart promptly put me in the way of getting
out of my trouble. He took me to his house, and went in search
of the late David Ruggles, who was then the secretary of the New
York Vigilance Committee, and a very active man in all anti-
slavery works. Once in the hands of Mr. Ruggles, I was
comparatively safe. I was hidden with Mr. Ruggles several days.
In the meantime, my intended wife, Anna, came on from Baltimore--
to whom I had written, informing her of my safe arrival at New
York--and, in the presence of Mrs. Mitchell and Mr. Ruggles, we
were married, by Rev. James W. C. Pennington.

Mr. Ruggles[7] was the first officer on the under-ground railroad
with whom I met after reaching the north, and, indeed, the first
of whom I ever heard anything. Learning that I was a calker by
trade, he promptly decided that New Bedford was the proper

[7] He was a whole-souled man, fully imbued with a love of his
afflicted and hunted people, and took pleasure in being to me, as
was his wont, "Eyes to the blind, and legs to the lame." This
brave and devoted man suffered much from the persecutions common
to all who have been prominent benefactors. He at last became
blind, and needed a friend to guide him, even as he had been a
guide to others. Even in his blindness, he exhibited his manly
character. In search of health, he became a physician. When
hope of gaining is{sic} own was gone, he had hope for others.
Believing in hydropathy, he established, at Northampton,
Massachusetts, a large _"Water Cure,"_ and became one of the most
successful of all engaged in that mode of treatment.


<266>place to send me. "Many ships," said he, "are there fitted
out for the whaling business, and you may there find work at your
trade, and make a good living." Thus, in one fortnight after my
flight from Maryland, I was safe in New Bedford, regularly
entered upon the exercise of the rights, responsibilities, and
duties of a freeman.

I may mention a little circumstance which annoyed me on reaching
New Bedford. I had not a cent of money, and lacked two dollars
toward paying our fare from Newport, and our baggage not very
costly--was taken by the stage driver, and held until I could
raise the money to redeem it. This difficulty was soon
surmounted. Mr. Nathan Johnson, to whom we had a line from Mr.
Ruggles, not only received us kindly and hospitably, but, on
being informed about our baggage, promptly loaned me two dollars
with which to redeem my little property. I shall ever be deeply
grateful, both to Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Johnson, for the lively
interest they were pleased to take in me, in this hour of my
extremest need. They not only gave myself and wife bread and
shelter, but taught us how to begin to secure those benefits for
ourselves. Long may they live, and may blessings attend them in
this life and in that which is to come!

Once initiated into the new life of freedom, and assured by Mr.
Johnson that New Bedford was a safe place, the comparatively
unimportant matter, as to what should be my name, came up for
considertion{sic}. It was necessary to have a name in my new
relations. The name given me by my beloved mother was no less
pretentious than "Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey." I had,
however, before leaving Maryland, dispensed with the _Augustus
Washington_, and retained the name _Frederick Bailey_. Between
Baltimore and New Bedford, however, I had several different
names, the better to avoid being overhauled by the hunters, which
I had good reason to believe would be put on my track. Among
honest men an honest man may well be content with one name, and
to acknowledge it at all times and in all <267 CHANGE OF
NAME>places; but toward fugitives, Americans are not honest.
When I arrived at New Bedford, my name was Johnson; and finding
that the Johnson family in New Bedford were already quite
numerous--sufficiently so to produce some confusion in attempts
to distinguish one from another--there was the more reason for
making another change in my name. In fact, "Johnson" had been
assumed by nearly every slave who had arrived in New Bedford from
Maryland, and this, much to the annoyance of the original
"Johnsons" (of whom there were many) in that place. Mine host,
unwilling to have another of his own name added to the community
in this unauthorized way, after I spent a night and a day at his
house, gave me my present name. He had been reading the "Lady of
the Lake," and was pleased to regard me as a suitable person to
wear this, one of Scotland's many famous names. Considering the
noble hospitality and manly character of Nathan Johnson, I have
felt that he, better than I, illustrated the virtues of the great
Scottish chief. Sure I am, that had any slave-catcher entered
his domicile, with a view to molest any one of his household, he
would have shown himself like him of the "stalwart hand."

The reader will be amused at my ignorance, when I tell the
notions I had of the state of northern wealth, enterprise, and
civilization. Of wealth and refinement, I supposed the north had
none. My _Columbian Orator_, which was almost my only book, had
not done much to enlighten me concerning northern society. The
impressions I had received were all wide of the truth. New
Bedford, especially, took me by surprise, in the solid wealth and
grandeur there exhibited. I had formed my notions respecting the
social condition of the free states, by what I had seen and known
of free, white, non-slaveholding people in the slave states.
Regarding slavery as the basis of wealth, I fancied that no
people could become very wealthy without slavery. A free white
man, holding no slaves, in the country, I had known to be the
most ignorant and poverty-stricken of men, and the laugh<268>ing
stock even of slaves themselves--called generally by them, in
derision, _"poor white trash_." Like the non-slaveholders at the
south, in holding no slaves, I suppose the northern people like
them, also, in poverty and degradation. Judge, then, of my
amazement and joy, when I found--as I did find--the very laboring
population of New Bedford living in better houses, more elegantly
furnished--surrounded by more comfort and refinement--than a
majority of the slaveholders on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
There was my friend, Mr. Johnson, himself a colored man (who at
the south would have been regarded as a proper marketable
commodity), who lived in a better house--dined at a richer
board--was the owner of more books--the reader of more
newspapers--was more conversant with the political and social
condition of this nation and the world--than nine-tenths of all
the slaveholders of Talbot county, Maryland. Yet Mr. Johnson was
a working man, and his hands were hardened by honest toil. Here,
then, was something for observation and study. Whence the
difference? The explanation was soon furnished, in the
superiority of mind over simple brute force. Many pages might be
given to the contrast, and in explanation of its causes. But an
incident or two will suffice to show the reader as to how the
mystery gradually vanished before me.

My first afternoon, on reaching New Bedford, was spent in
visiting the wharves and viewing the shipping. The sight of the
broad brim and the plain, Quaker dress, which met me at every
turn, greatly increased my sense of freedom and security. "I am
among the Quakers," thought I, "and am safe." Lying at the
wharves and riding in the stream, were full-rigged ships of
finest model, ready to start on whaling voyages. Upon the right
and the left, I was walled in by large granite-fronted
warehouses, crowded with the good things of this world. On the
wharves, I saw industry without bustle, labor without noise, and
heavy toil without the whip. There was no loud singing, as in
southern ports, where ships are loading or unloading--no loud
cursing or swear<269 THE CONTRAST>ing--but everything went on as
smoothly as the works of a well adjusted machine. How different
was all this from the nosily fierce and clumsily absurd manner of
labor-life in Baltimore and St. Michael's! One of the first
incidents which illustrated the superior mental character of
northern labor over that of the south, was the manner of
unloading a ship's cargo of oil. In a southern port, twenty or
thirty hands would have been employed to do what five or six did
here, with the aid of a single ox attached to the end of a fall.
Main strength, unassisted by skill, is slavery's method of labor.
An old ox, worth eighty dollars, was doing, in New Bedford, what
would have required fifteen thousand dollars worth of human bones
and muscles to have performed in a southern port. I found that
everything was done here with a scrupulous regard to economy,
both in regard to men and things, time and strength. The maid
servant, instead of spending at least a tenth part of her time in
bringing and carrying water, as in Baltimore, had the pump at her
elbow. The wood was dry, and snugly piled away for winter.
Woodhouses, in-door pumps, sinks, drains, self-shutting gates,
washing machines, pounding barrels, were all new things, and told
me that I was among a thoughtful and sensible people. To the
ship-repairing dock I went, and saw the same wise prudence. The
carpenters struck where they aimed, and the calkers wasted no
blows in idle flourishes of the mallet. I learned that men went
from New Bedford to Baltimore, and bought old ships, and brought
them here to repair, and made them better and more valuable than
they ever were before. Men talked here of going whaling on a
four _years'_ voyage with more coolness than sailors where I came
from talked of going a four _months'_ voyage.

I now find that I could have landed in no part of the United
States, where I should have found a more striking and gratifying
contrast to the condition of the free people of color in
Baltimore, than I found here in New Bedford. No colored man is
really free in a slaveholding state. He wears the badge of
bondage while <270>nominally free, and is often subjected to
hardships to which the slave is a stranger; but here in New
Bedford, it was my good fortune to see a pretty near approach to
freedom on the part of the colored people. I was taken all aback
when Mr. Johnson--who lost no time in making me acquainted with
the fact--told me that there was nothing in the constitution of
Massachusetts to prevent a colored man from holding any office in
the state. There, in New Bedford, the black man's children--
although anti-slavery was then far from popular--went to school
side by side with the white children, and apparently without
objection from any quarter. To make me at home, Mr. Johnson
assured me that no slaveholder could take a slave from New
Bedford; that there were men there who would lay down their
lives, before such an outrage could be perpetrated. The colored
people themselves were of the best metal, and would fight for
liberty to the death.

Soon after my arrival in New Bedford, I was told the following
story, which was said to illustrate the spirit of the colored
people in that goodly town: A colored man and a fugitive slave
happened to have a little quarrel, and the former was heard to
threaten the latter with informing his master of his whereabouts.
As soon as this threat became known, a notice was read from the
desk of what was then the only colored church in the place,
stating that business of importance was to be then and there
transacted. Special measures had been taken to secure the
attendance of the would-be Judas, and had proved successful.
Accordingly, at the hour appointed, the people came, and the
betrayer also. All the usual formalities of public meetings were
scrupulously gone through, even to the offering prayer for Divine
direction in the duties of the occasion. The president himself
performed this part of the ceremony, and I was told that he was
unusually fervent. Yet, at the close of his prayer, the old man
(one of the numerous family of Johnsons) rose from his knees,
deliberately surveyed his audience, and then said, in a tone of
solemn resolution, _"Well, friends, we have got him here, and I
would now_ <271 COLORED PEOPLE IN NEW BEDFORD>_recommend that you
young men should just take him outside the door and kill him."_
With this, a large body of the congregation, who well understood
the business they had come there to transact, made a rush at the
villain, and doubtless would have killed him, had he not availed
himself of an open sash, and made good his escape. He has never
shown his head in New Bedford since that time. This little
incident is perfectly characteristic of the spirit of the colored
people in New Bedford. A slave could not be taken from that town
seventeen years ago, any more than he could be so taken away now.
The reason is, that the colored people in that city are educated
up to the point of fighting for their freedom, as well as
speaking for it.

Once assured of my safety in New Bedford, I put on the
habiliments of a common laborer, and went on the wharf in search
of work. I had no notion of living on the honest and generous
sympathy of my colored brother, Johnson, or that of the
abolitionists. My cry was like that of Hood's laborer, "Oh! only
give me work." Happily for me, I was not long in searching. I
found employment, the third day after my arrival in New Bedford,
in stowing a sloop with a load of oil for the New York market.
It was new, hard, and dirty work, even for a calker, but I went
at it with a glad heart and a willing hand. I was now my own
master--a tremendous fact--and the rapturous excitement with
which I seized the job, may not easily be understood, except by
some one with an experience like mine. The thoughts--"I can
work! I can work for a living; I am not afraid of work; I have
no Master Hugh to rob me of my earnings"--placed me in a state of
independence, beyond seeking friendship or support of any man.
That day's work I considered the real starting point of something
like a new existence. Having finished this job and got my pay
for the same, I went next in pursuit of a job at calking. It so
happened that Mr. Rodney French, late mayor of the city of New
Bedford, had a ship fitting out for sea, and to which there was a
large job of calking and coppering to be done. I applied to that
<272>noblehearted man for employment, and he promptly told me to
go to work; but going on the float-stage for the purpose, I was
informed that every white man would leave the ship if I struck a
blow upon her. "Well, well," thought I, "this is a hardship, but
yet not a very serious one for me." The difference between the
wages of a calker and that of a common day laborer, was an
hundred per cent in favor of the former; but then I was free, and
free to work, though not at my trade. I now prepared myself to
do anything which came to hand in the way of turning an honest
penny; sawed wood--dug cellars--shoveled coal--swept chimneys
with Uncle Lucas Debuty--rolled oil casks on the wharves--helped
to load and unload vessels--worked in Ricketson's candle works--
in Richmond's brass foundery, and elsewhere; and thus supported
myself and family for three years.

The first winter was unusually severe, in consequence of the high
prices of food; but even during that winter we probably suffered
less than many who had been free all their lives. During the
hardest of the winter, I hired out for nine dolars{sic} a month;
and out of this rented two rooms for nine dollars per quarter,
and supplied my wife--who was unable to work--with food and some
necessary articles of furniture. We were closely pinched to
bring our wants within our means; but the jail stood over the
way, and I had a wholesome dread of the consequences of running
in debt. This winter past, and I was up with the times--got
plenty of work--got well paid for it--and felt that I had not
done a foolish thing to leave Master Hugh and Master Thomas. I
was now living in a new world, and was wide awake to its
advantages. I early began to attend the meetings of the colored
people of New Bedford, and to take part in them. I was somewhat
amazed to see colored men drawing up resolutions and offering
them for consideration. Several colored young men of New
Bedford, at that period, gave promise of great usefulness. They
were educated, and possessed what seemed to me, at the time, very
superior talents. Some of them have been cut down by death, and
<273 THE CHURCH>others have removed to different parts of the
world, and some remain there now, and justify, in their present
activities, my early impressions of them.

Among my first concerns on reaching New Bedford, was to become
united with the church, for I had never given up, in reality, my
religious faith. I had become lukewarm and in a backslidden
state, but I was still convinced that it was my duty to join the
Methodist church. I was not then aware of the powerful influence
of that religious body in favor of the enslavement of my race,
nor did I see how the northern churches could be responsible for
the conduct of southern churches; neither did I fully understand
how it could be my duty to remain separate from the church,
because bad men were connected with it. The slaveholding church,
with its Coveys, Weedens, Aulds, and Hopkins, I could see through
at once, but I could not see how Elm Street church, in New
Bedford, could be regarded as sanctioning the Christianity of
these characters in the church at St. Michael's. I therefore
resolved to join the Methodist church in New Bedford, and to
enjoy the spiritual advantage of public worship. The minister of
the Elm Street Methodist church, was the Rev. Mr. Bonney; and
although I was not allowed a seat in the body of the house, and
was proscribed on account of my color, regarding this
proscription simply as an accommodation of the uncoverted
congregation who had not yet been won to Christ and his
brotherhood, I was willing thus to be proscribed, lest sinners
should be driven away form the saving power of the gospel. Once
converted, I thought they would be sure to treat me as a man and
a brother. "Surely," thought I, "these Christian people have
none of this feeling against color. They, at least, have
renounced this unholy feeling." Judge, then, dear reader, of my
astonishment and mortification, when I found, as soon I did find,
all my charitable assumptions at fault.

An opportunity was soon afforded me for ascertaining the exact
position of Elm Street church on that subject. I had a chance of
seeing the religious part of the congregation by themselves; and
<274>although they disowned, in effect, their black brothers and
sisters, before the world, I did think that where none but the
saints were assembled, and no offense could be given to the
wicked, and the gospel could not be "blamed," they would
certainly recognize us as children of the same Father, and heirs
of the same salvation, on equal terms with themselves.

The occasion to which I refer, was the sacrament of the Lord's
Supper, that most sacred and most solemn of all the ordinances of
the Christian church. Mr. Bonney had preached a very solemn and
searching discourse, which really proved him to be acquainted
with the inmost secerts{sic} of the human heart. At the close of
his discourse, the congregation was dismissed, and the church
remained to partake of the sacrament. I remained to see, as I
thought, this holy sacrament celebrated in the spirit of its
great Founder.

There were only about a half dozen colored members attached to
the Elm Street church, at this time. After the congregation was
dismissed, these descended from the gallery, and took a seat
against the wall most distant from the altar. Brother Bonney was
very animated, and sung very sweetly, "Salvation 'tis a joyful
sound," and soon began to administer the sacrament. I was
anxious to observe the bearing of the colored members, and the
result was most humiliating. During the whole ceremony, they
looked like sheep without a shepherd. The white members went
forward to the altar by the bench full; and when it was evident
that all the whites had been served with the bread and wine,
Brother Bonney--pious Brother Bonney--after a long pause, as if
inquiring whether all the whites members had been served, and
fully assuring himself on that important point, then raised his
voice to an unnatural pitch, and looking to the corner where his
black sheep seemed penned, beckoned with his hand, exclaiming,
"Come forward, colored friends! come forward! You, too, have an
interest in the blood of Christ. God is no respecter of persons.
Come forward, and take this holy sacrament to your <275 THE
SACRAMENT>comfort." The colored members poor, slavish souls went
forward, as invited. I went out, and have never been in that
church since, although I honestly went there with a view to
joining that body. I found it impossible to respect the
religious profession of any who were under the dominion of this
wicked prejudice, and I could not, therefore, feel that in
joining them, I was joining a Christian church, at all. I tried
other churches in New Bedford, with the same result, and finally,
I attached myself to a small body of colored Methodists, known as
the Zion Methodists. Favored with the affection and confidence
of the members of this humble communion, I was soon made a
classleader and a local preacher among them. Many seasons of
peace and joy I experienced among them, the remembrance of which
is still precious, although I could not see it to be my duty to
remain with that body, when I found that it consented to the same
spirit which held my brethren in chains.

In four or five months after reaching New Bedford, there came a
young man to me, with a copy of the _Liberator_, the paper edited
by WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, and published by ISAAC KNAPP, and
asked me to subscribe for it. I told him I had but just escaped
from slavery, and was of course very poor, and remarked further,
that I was unable to pay for it then; the agent, however, very
willingly took me as a subscriber, and appeared to be much
pleased with securing my name to his list. From this time I was
brought in contact with the mind of William Lloyd Garrison. His
paper took its place with me next to the bible.

The _Liberator_ was a paper after my own heart. It detested
slavery exposed hypocrisy and wickedness in high places--made no
truce with the traffickers in the bodies and souls of men; it
preached human brotherhood, denounced oppression, and, with all
the solemnity of God's word, demanded the complete emancipation
of my race. I not only liked--I _loved_ this paper, and its
editor. He seemed a match for all the oponents{sic} of
emancipation, whether they spoke in the name of the law, or the
gospel. <276>His words were few, full of holy fire, and straight
to the point. Learning to love him, through his paper, I was
prepared to be pleased with his presence. Something of a hero
worshiper, by nature, here was one, on first sight, to excite my
love and reverence.

Seventeen years ago, few men possessed a more heavenly
countenance than William Lloyd Garrison, and few men evinced a
more genuine or a more exalted piety. The bible was his text
book--held sacred, as the word of the Eternal Father--sinless
perfection--complete submission to insults and injuries--literal
obedience to the injunction, if smitten on one side to turn the
other also. Not only was Sunday a Sabbath, but all days were
Sabbaths, and to be kept holy. All sectarism false and
mischievous--the regenerated, throughout the world, members of
one body, and the HEAD Christ Jesus. Prejudice against color was
rebellion against God. Of all men beneath the sky, the slaves,
because most neglected and despised, were nearest and dearest to
his great heart. Those ministers who defended slavery from the
bible, were of their "father the devil"; and those churches which
fellowshiped slaveholders as Christians, were synagogues of
Satan, and our nation was a nation of liars. Never loud or
noisy--calm and serene as a summer sky, and as pure. "You are
the man, the Moses, raised up by God, to deliver his modern
Israel from bondage," was the spontaneous feeling of my heart, as
I sat away back in the hall and listened to his mighty words;
mighty in truth--mighty in their simple earnestness.

I had not long been a reader of the _Liberator_, and listener to
its editor, before I got a clear apprehension of the principles
of the anti-slavery movement. I had already the spirit of the
movement, and only needed to understand its principles and
measures. These I got from the _Liberator_, and from those who
believed in that paper. My acquaintance with the movement
increased my hope for the ultimate freedom of my race, and I
united with it from a sense of delight, as well as duty.
<277 THE _Liberator_>

Every week the _Liberator_ came, and every week I made myself
master of its contents. All the anti-slavery meetings held in
New Bedford I promptly attended, my heart burning at every true
utterance against the slave system, and every rebuke of its
friends and supporters. Thus passed the first three years of my
residence in New Bedford. I had not then dreamed of the
posibility{sic} of my becoming a public advocate of the cause so
deeply imbedded in my heart. It was enough for me to listen--to
receive and applaud the great words of others, and only whisper
in private, among the white laborers on the wharves, and
elsewhere, the truths which burned in my breast.

Frederick Douglass

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