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Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or, the escape of William and Ellen Craft from slavery   By:

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THE AMERICAN NEGRO

HIS HISTORY AND LITERATURE

RUNNING A THOUSAND MILES FOR FREEDOM

William and Ellen Craft

RUNNING A THOUSAND MILES FOR FREEDOM OR, THE ESCAPE OF WILLIAM AND ELLEN CRAFT FROM SLAVERY.

"Slaves cannot breathe in England: if their lungs Receive our air, that moment they are free; They touch our country, and their shackles fall."

COWPER

RUNNING A THOUSAND MILES FOR FREEDOM

PREFACE.

Having heard while in Slavery that "God made of one blood all nations of men," and also that the American Declaration of Independence says, that "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;" we could not understand by what right we were held as "chattels." Therefore, we felt perfectly justified in undertaking the dangerous and exciting task of "running a thousand miles" in order to obtain those rights which are so vividly set forth in the Declaration.

I beg those who would know the particulars of our journey, to peruse these pages.

This book is not intended as a full history of the life of my wife, nor of myself; but merely as an account of our escape; together with other matter which I hope may be the means of creating in some minds a deeper abhorrence of the sinful and abominable practice of enslaving and brutifying our fellow creatures.

Without stopping to write a long apology for offering this little volume to the public, I shall commence at once to pursue my simple story.

W. CRAFT.

12, CAMBRIDGE ROAD, HAMMERSMITH, LONDON.

RUNNING A THOUSAND MILES FOR FREEDOM.

PART I.

"God gave us only over beast, fish, fowl, Dominion absolute; that right we hold By his donation. But man over man He made not lord; such title to himself Reserving, human left from human free."

MILTON.

My wife and myself were born in different towns in the State of Georgia, which is one of the principal slave States. It is true, our condition as slaves was not by any means the worst; but the mere idea that we were held as chattels, and deprived of all legal rights the thought that we had to give up our hard earnings to a tyrant, to enable him to live in idleness and luxury the thought that we could not call the bones and sinews that God gave us our own: but above all, the fact that another man had the power to tear from our cradle the new born babe and sell it in the shambles like a brute, and then scourge us if we dared to lift a finger to save it from such a fate, haunted us for years.

But in December, 1848, a plan suggested itself that proved quite successful, and in eight days after it was first thought of we were free from the horrible trammels of slavery, rejoicing and praising God in the glorious sunshine of liberty.

My wife's first master was her father, and her mother his slave, and the latter is still the slave of his widow.

Notwithstanding my wife being of African extraction on her mother's side, she is almost white in fact, she is so nearly so that the tyrannical old lady to whom she first belonged became so annoyed, at finding her frequently mistaken for a child of the family, that she gave her when eleven years of age to a daughter, as a wedding present. This separated my wife from her mother, and also from several other dear friends. But the incessant cruelty of her old mistress made the change of owners or treatment so desirable, that she did not grumble much at this cruel separation.

It may be remembered that slavery in America is not at all confined to persons of any particular complexion; there are a very large number of slaves as white as any one; but as the evidence of a slave is not admitted in court against a free white person, it is almost impossible for a white child, after having been kidnapped and sold into or reduced to slavery, in a part of the country where it is not known (as often is the case), ever to recover its freedom... Continue reading book >>




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