« AnteriorContinuar »
THE BRANDED HAND.
BY JOHN G. WHITTIER.
In 1836, Capt. Jonathan Walker, a citizen of Massachusetts, removed with his fainily to Florida, and in that territory resided till 1842, when he returned to his native State. During his residence at the South, he hired, but never owned slaves—and while they were in his employ, he treated them as our Northern farmers and mechanics are accustomed to treat their laborers-recognizing their rights as men, instead of regarding them as “chattels personal.” While this course won the confidence and good will of the slaves, it was anything but agreeable to the slaveholders.
In pursuance of his lawful business, Captain Walker visited Pensacola, in the month of June, 1844. While there, seven men-the same, we understand, who had worked for him during his residence in Florida-applied to him for a passage to Nassau, where they might enjoy that Liberty which is the inalienable right of all. Captain Walker, in obedience to the great law of humanity, received them on board his vessel-a small, open boat--and proceeded along the coast, towards the destined haven. Exposed to the broiling sun, Capt. Walker was soon taken sick, and continued very ill for many days. On the 8th of July, when off Cape Florida, they were discovered by a wrecker, which took them all captive--as clear an act of piracy as was ever committed upon the high seas. They were taken into Key West, where Capl. Walker was thrust into jail, loaded with double irons--thence he was conveyed in the hold of a United States vessel, to Pensacola, where he was examined before a magistrate and committed to prison in default of $10,000 bail. Though greatly emaciated, and in feeble health, he was thrust into a cell unsupplied with either chair, table, or bed, and was chained to the floor. No physician was sent him, and no attention whatever was paid to his enfeebled condition. Here he remained till the following November, when he was taken before the United States Court, tried and convicted upon four indictments, for aiding the escape of slaves, and sentenced to pay a fine of $150, stand in the pillory one hour, be branded with the letters S. S. (slave stealer) on the right hand, and suffer imprisonment fifteen days. The whole sentence was carried into execution—the branding, was done by binding his hand to a post, and applying a red hot iron to the palm, which left the letters an inch long and about an eighth of an inch deep. The branding was performed by a recreant yankee from Maine, whose name is Dorr. Let it be embalmed in eternal infamy. “ Atier the fifteen days of imprisonmnet had expired, he was retained in consequence of inability to pay the fine and costs of court, amounting to something over $100. On the 6th of February last, while yet in prison, three more indictments were found against him for aiding slaves to escape. On the 9th of May he was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to pay a fine of $5 on each offence. This was the smallest sum the law would allow. and Capi. Walker returned his thanks to the Jury for their leniency. On the 16th of June he was liberated by the assistance of friends, who paid the fine, and on the 10th of July last arrived in New York.”
Welcome home again, brave seaman! with thy thoughtful brow and gray,
Is the tyrant's brand upon thee? Did the brutal cravens aim
They change to wrong, the duty which God hath written out
Why, that brand is highest honor!-than its traces never yet
As the Templar home was welcomed, bearing back from Syrian wars,
He suffered for the ransom of the dear Redeemer's grave,
For, while the jurist sitting with the slave-whip o'er him swung,
While the multitude in blindness to a far off Saviour knelt;
In thy lone and long night watches, sky above and wave below,
That he who treads profanely on the scrolls of law and creed,
Then list that manly right hand, bold ploughman of the wave!
Hold it up before our sunshine, up against our northern air-
And the tyrants of the slave land shall tremble at that sign,
TO TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE.
BY JOHN G. WIITTTER.
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH.
“Ye build the tombs of the Prophets.”-HOLY WEil. Toussaint !- thou most unhappy man of men!
Whether the whistling rustic tends his plough Yes- pile the marble o'er him! It is well
That ye who mocked him in his long stern strife,
Wilt thou find patience !- Yet, die not; do thou Who clamored down the bold reformer when
Wear rather in thy bonus a cheerful brow: He pleaded for his captive fellow men, Though fallen thyself, never to rise again,
Who spurned him in the market-place, and sought Live and take comfort. Thou hast left behind Within thy walls, St. Tamany, to bind Powers that will work for thee; air, earth, and In party chains the free and honest thought, skies,
The angel utterance of an upright mind, There's not a breathing of the common wind Well it is now that o'er his grave ye raise
That will forget thee: thou hast great allies ; The stony tribute of your tardy praise, Thy friends are exultations, agonies,
For not alone that pile shall tell to Fame And love, and man's unconquerable mind. Of the brave heart beneath, but of the builders' shame