Some of the dialog from a play published in The Anti-Slavery Offering and Picknick; A Collection of Speeches, Poems, Dialogues, Songs for Schools and A.S. Meetings, 1843 Edward. Do you observe that well dressed, intelligent looking man, who is coming towards us? He is a fugitive slave. It is but three years since he commenced taking care of himself, yet no one is more respected for ability and activity. Let us ask him some questions. [Enter Oliver Seward.] Edward. We wish to ask you the reasons which induced you to leave your master. Was he cruel in his treatment of you? Oliver. He was not. I had a very kind master; but it is hard to be a slave. I struggled long between my affection for my mother and brothers, and my love of liberty—and might, perhaps, have remained a slave to this day, had it not been for a flogging which I received for breaking, accidentally, one of the plantation tools. This roused my spirit, and I resolved to effect my escape, or die, rather than submit any longer. Albert. But do you not fear that you may be sick, and unable to provide for yourself? You would then wish for the protection and care of your master. Oliver. I hope to be able to guard against want in the case you suppose; but I would far prefer to die a FREE-MAN, than to live a slave. Albert. Would the slaves be contented to remain and labor for their masters, if they were made free, and offered fair wages? Oliver. They would be glad to do so. The climate of the South is more agreeable to them than the cold winters of the Northern States, and they are attached to the places which have always been to them a home.
Library of Congress : http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/odyssey/archive/03/032200ar.jpg Quaker Benjamin Lay published the brochure, “ All slave-keepers that keep the Innocent in bondage, Apostates ” in 1737. Friend Lay was an unusual looking person. He was 4’ 7” tall, probably a dwarf, and was a hunchback. He had a long white beard. Like the prophet Jeremiah, he liked to dramatically demonstrate his prophet messages to the meeting. He once kidnapped a slaveholder’s child and hid the child until the grieving parents came to him for help to find their child. He then turned the child over to them driving home the obvious. Think how a slave family feels when you sell off their children! Once during a meeting, Lay rose to denounce slavery and during his testimony he suddenly tore off his Quaker garb under which he wore a military uniform exclaiming that slave owners were men of war and He held in one hand a large bible and then he drew his sword. "In the sight of God you are as guilty as if you stabbed your slaves to the heart, as I do this book!" He pierced a small bladder filled with the juice of poke-weed, which he had concealed between the covers, and sprinkling as with fresh blood those who sat near him.
It is not our intention to romanticize the Underground Railroad , which was a highly dangerous and illegal activity. Both the Anti-Slavery and UGRR movements were counter-cultural and exceedingly controversial. Families that were involved usually made a lengthy and expensive commitment to this cause in the face of grave danger. We do not want to trivialize the reality of the sacrifices made by everyone involved. The Anti-Slavery and UGRR movements were commitments of individual conscience that ran against the common beliefs of the day. Participants usually defied their church and the state, and members of their local communities. Many good people of conscience chose involvement in the abolitionist movement but not directly in the UGRR since it was illegal. They worked towards the demise of slavery in other ways. Illustration taken from: INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL. Written by Herself. Harriet Jacobs (Linda Brent) http://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper/JACOBS/hj-site-index.htm