Daily Reading for July 20 • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman
These slaves from Maryland were the last that Harriet Tubman piloted out of the prison-house of bondage, and these “came through great tribulation.” Stephen, the husband, had been a slave of John Kaiger, who would not allow him to live with his wife (if there was such a thing as a slave’s owning a wife). She lived eight miles distant, hired her time, maintained herself, and took care of her children (until they became of service to their owner), and paid ten dollars a year for her hire. She was owned by Algier Pearcy. Both mother and father desired to deliver their children from his grasp. They had too much intelligence to bear the heavy burdens thus imposed without feeling the pressure a grievous one.
Harriet Tubman being well acquainted in their neighborhood, and knowing of their situation, and having confidence that they would prove true, as passengers on the Underground Rail Road, engaged to pilot them within reach of Wilmington, at least to Thomas Garrett’s. Thus the father and mother, with their children and a young man named John, found aid and comfort on their way, with Harriet for their “Moses.” A poor woman escaping from Baltimore in a delicate state, happened to meet Harriet’s party at the station, and was forwarded on with them. They were cheered with clothing, food, and material aid, and sped on to Canada.
Notes taken at that time were very brief; it was evidently deemed prudent in those days, not to keep as full reports as had been the wont of the secretary, prior to 1859. The capture of John Brown’s papers and letters, with names and plans in full, admonished us that such papers and correspondence as had been preserved concerning the Underground Rail Road, might perchance be captured by a pro-slavery mob. For a year or more after the Harper’s Ferry battle, as many will remember, the mob spirit of the times was very violent in all the principal northern cities, as well as southern (“to save the Union”). Even in Boston, Abolition meetings were fiercely assailed by the mob. During this period, the writer omitted some of the most important particulars in the escapes and narratives of fugitives. Books and papers were sent away for a long time, and during this time the records were kept simply on loose slips of paper.
From The Underground Railroad: A Record Of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, &C., Narrating The Hardships, Hair-Breadth Escapes And Death Struggles Of The Slaves In Their Efforts For Freedom, As Related By Themselves And Others, Or Witnessed By The Author, by William Still (1872).