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Filing Cabinet - Underground Railroad

Charles Brown

        I was born in Virginia, and was raised a slave. My grandmother was a free-woman in Maryland. One day, as she was washing by a river, a kidnapper came up, gagged and bound her, carried her into Virginia, and there sold her into bondage. She there had four children, my mother, my mother's sister, and my mother's two brothers. After about twenty or twenty-five years, when I was a very small boy, a man from Maryland, named Hanks, came through Virginia. He saw my grandmother, and knew her. "What!" said he, "are you here?" She told him how she had been kidnapped. He said, "You are free, and I'll get you your freedom." Her oath was good for nothing, but by Hanks's oath, she would get free. At night she was jerked up and carried to Orleans, and sold on a cotton plantation. She wrote on, a good while after, that she would get free, and come back and free her children. She got free herself, as I have heard, but 't was when she got too old to do any more work. My mother and all the folks there in Virginia knew about her being stolen, and about Hanks's coming there.

        I was used kindly, as I always did my work faithfully. But I knew I ought to be free. I told my master one day--said I, "You white folks set the bad example of stealing--you stole us from Africa, and not content with that, if any got free here, you stole them afterward, and so we are made slaves." I told him, I would not stay. He shed tears, and said he thought I would be the last one to leave him.

        A year after, I left for the North. I have been cook for large hotels. My health is now very poor,--I have had a bad cough for two or three years, from overwork--cooking sometimes for three hundred persons in a hotel. I have always supported myself, and have

A North-Side View of Slavery, the Refugee:  or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada, Related by Themselves with an Account of the History and Condition of the Colored Population of Upper Canada, Benjamin Drew (Boston: John P. Jewett & Co., 1856)

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