The following shows up to the light some of the doings and devices of wicked men, which surround people of color in northern cities. Not only slave agents and kidnappers, but black-legs in desperate circumstances, prowl about to plot our ruin.
It will be recollected, that not long since, two colored men were arrested at Utica, on a claim of being fugitive Slaves, but who afterwards effected their escape. The Rev. Geo. Storrs, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, recently met with them, in his going about, and received the story of their difficulties from their own lips. He learned various interesting facts from them – and found them to be very simple, honest-hearted persons. The following is a copy of a part of his written memorandum of their conversation, as we find it in a Union paper. The soul-catcher alluded to, passed as a “Virginia gentleman!” at the time of the investigation at Utica.
“Jewels” found at Alexandria – engraved by Samuel Curtis Upham, 1819-1885
“Harry’s own story of the matter,” says Mr. Storrs, as he told it to me was, “that the soul-catcher had tried to persuade him to get his mistress’ consent to be sold, saying – ‘Harry, if you will be sold to me, I will give you $20, and will make you rich. I go to New York sometimes, and when there, I gamble, and sometimes lose $1000 or $1500, and then I go out and kidnap some of the colored people, and then go and gamble again, and get all my money back again, and win too.”
“He wanted,” adds the paper alluded to, “to see Harry as a decoy or stool-pigeon to entice others into his snares.”
The same paper further states – “It is proper to mention, that the colored men did not runaway on the solicitations of this gentleman soul-catcher. They were left by their deceased master to his widow, during her life, and afterwards, to younger heirs. The old lady being aware that they would be sold into Louisiana as soon as she died, and not expecting to live long, as they had been favorite servants, advised them to runaway.” These facts were disclosed, by the colored men, to their counsel in Utica. So that, in truth, they came into this State with the consent of their mistress, and hence could not, legally, be pursued or retained as slaves.
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Source: Weekly Advocate, February 25, 1837
Top Image Source: Practical illustration of the Fugitive Slave Law