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Filing Cabinet - Underground Railroad

Rev. William Troy

        From Essex county, Va. My father was a slave of----, Senator of the United States. My mother was a free-woman.

        I lived there until twenty-one. I left there 11th March, 1848. I saw scenes there that made my heart bleed. I can particularize the breaking up of R--P. W--'s farm, some five hundred slaves, many of whom were my associates, with whom I had often been to meeting, belonging to the same church. We had many meetings together, sometimes broken up by patrols. When we had meetings, it was at late hours, to avoid the
patrols--yet sometimes they would run us away, and sometimes we would get our meetings through. They were sold to different persons--Judge--and others. About the time a part of them were leaving, I went to bid them farewell. Many had their hearts so full of grief that they could not speak--they could only give me their hands.

        Another lot who belonged to the same man, aroused me by singing about nine at night, passing my father's residence, singing, bidding farewell to all their friends; many left father, mother, and children behind them. I may mention here that one of these slaves, a woman named Martha Fields, who was hired out at the time, was taken early one morning, without time to get her clothes, hurried off to Richmond, and sold to the highest bidder. From Richmond she went on to New Orleans, put into a slave-pen, and bought by Mr. A--, a celebrated negro trader, and put on his farm, where she married A.'s slave. A. gave them free papers, and they now reside in Cincinnati. She says she has suffered enough herself, and seen so much suffering, that she believes that all those who hold slaves, and those who uphold slavery will, if there is any such place as one of torment, will be sure to go there.

        I was aroused at Loretto, Va., by the sale of a slave named William, who was sold by his master. I heard the boy hollowing in the swamp; from hearing his shrieks, I made towards the boy,--when I went there, I found him in the act of catching the boy to have him sold. His mother, who grieved much at the sight, was told if she did not hush, her back would be cow-hided. This same man, soon after that, took her into the stable to whip her, and finding some difficulty about getting off her clothes, took his knife and cut them from her, and whipped her until she bled. Before I came away, he had sold the last one of her children. This man was N--S--.

        These are facts which cannot be denied by the persons whom I have named, and I intend to be a terror to the system while I live.

        Personally, I have suffered on account of my color in regard to education. I was not allowed to go to school publicly,--had to learn privately. The reason of my coming away was, I knew that I was open to the assaults of any ruffian, if he were a white man, and if I made any reply, I was liable to nine and thirty before what they call a justice of the peace. Further, I could not educate my children there, and make them feel as women and men ought--for, under those oppressive laws, they would feel a degradation not intended by Him who made of one blood all the people of the earth.

        I have been here a few weeks only--am settled as pastor over the First Baptist Church; about one hundred usually attend divine service here, most of whom have been slaves. They seem to enjoy religion and freedom very much indeed. None are desirous to return to the corn-cobs of Egypt.

        At Enorn Church, Essex county, Va., colored and white meet together. On the first Sabbath in the month the colored assemble with the white pastor to attend to their church business after sermon. Sometimes a few whites are present on this Sabbath. I used to go to church regularly, but never heard them preach from, "Masters, render unto your servants that which is just and equal:" but I will write down as near as I can, (and I recollect all his points,) a sermon preached by Rev. Mr.--, on the first Sabbath in the month, and the church proceedings.


        Eph. 6: 5. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart as unto Christ.

        First,--Let me state relative to the different positions we occupy in life: I am not a lawyer, neither am I a senator, nor a judge of any court,--still I am contented, because Providence has placed me so, and I am willing to submit to his Divine will; and the Apostle tells us, that godliness with contentment is great gain.

        Secondly,--Now you brethren that suffer affliction, should endure it as good soldiers, enduring all hardness. Paul says to his son Timothy, "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed." And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them. These are holy injunctions, and must be adhered to. Be contented under all circumstances with singleness of heart to God, not giving railing for railing, but with fear do the will of your master. Count not your slight affliction dear, for God your Father hath so decreed from all eternity that you should suffer, and if you despise the imposition of God, you cannot enjoy his spiritual benefits.

        Again,--we will have to take into consideration the base action of one of our brethren who ran away from his master. When we go into this work, you must consider the obligation that the servant is under to his master; then examine the text, and you will know that we shall be compelled to excommunicate brother
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Reuben Smith for running away from his master, Mr.----.

        Now the Deacons (colored) who are present will state the case, and we will take action on it. Deacon R--, you will state what you know about Reuben's running away.

        Deacon R. Yes, Sir; I know that he ran away from his master, and so far as I know about such conduct, I believe it wrong, and can't be tolerated by us.

        Minister. Will Deacon Edmund--, come forward? State what you know about the case.

        Deacon E. It is true, Sir, that Reuben ran away, and we must exclude him for it.

        Minister. Now, brethren, you hear the statements of your deacons, what will you do with the case?

        Deacon R. I move that we exclude brother Reuben, for running away from master.

        Deacon E. I second that.

        Minister. All that are in favor of that motion will hold up your right hand. It is unanimous. Well, brethren, we have done God's will, let us sing and conclude our meeting. Billy, will you sing?

                         "Jerusalem, my happy home!
                         Oh, how I long for thee!
                         When will my sorrows have an end,
                         My joys when shall I see?"

        Receive the benediction.--May the God of peace crown our efforts with success, and save us all in the end, for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.

        Reuben Smith was a preacher, and an intelligent man: that's the reason he ran away. He was caught in the city of Washington, and sold into Louisiana.

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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