Excerpts From the Journal of Henry Hull

Excerpts on Slavery

Source: Hull, Henry. Memoir of the Life and Religious Labours of Henry Hull, A Minister of the Gospel, In the Society of Friends, Late of Stanford, In the State of New York. Stereotype Edition. Philadelphia: Friends Book Store, 1873.

From Chapter 2, pages 96-101:

The following day I had meetings at Mount Pleasant and Crooked Run; at the latter of which I was led to expose the iniquity of the slave trade, and the practice of holding the African race in bondage. This was much to the relief of my own mind, which was often deeply oppressed with grief, at seeing the sufferings endured by the poor slaves. Their allowance was one peck of corn for a week, and this they were sometimes necessitated to pound in the night, when they should be asleep, to refresh them for the next day's labour. To this I have often been a witness, when the noise of the pestle and mortar has aroused me; and soon after I have been startled by the voice of the driver and the snapping of his whip, urging them to the toils of the day, even before the light had fully appeared. In addition to this, they had to endure the broiling heat of the sun, bare-headed, both males and females; the latter with only one garment to cover them, and the cruel drivers following them with a large wagon whip, in order to hasten their speed, using it freely upon those who fell behind, when hoeing the corn or tobacco. At other times I have seen very aged men and women grubbing at the bushes, so feeble and worn, that their limbs trembled as they raised their heavy mattocks; and others were carrying rail on their heads form a distant forest. Similar cruelties I have seen exercised on the house slaves, upon whom the lash was often freely laid, while they were subject tot he kicks and cuffs of the children of the family. At one time, having laid my horse-whip upon a table in the bar-room of a tavern, I was suddenly raised from my seat by seeing the tavern-keeper using my whip upon the back of his negro boy. I stepped to him as quickly as I could, and got it from him, assuring him that it was not accustomed to such business, and he should have known better than to take it for that purpose. At another time, my eye caught the sight of a poor negro's back who was rowing us over a ferry, (his shirt being a mere bunch of rags,) and it appeared like a piece of raw flesh, from the severe flogging he had received. It was a most painful, sickening sight, and affected me very much; the more so, as he was toiling for our accommodation, for which, however, we paid him, in addition to what was demanded by his oppressor - a practice, I believe, common with Friends, for a coloured man who attended at another ferry, told us he was always glad to see the Quakers come, for then he had something given him. It was also our practice to pay those who took care of our horses, not always with money, but sometimes with food, for which they appeared thankful,a nd sometimes manifested surprise at the attention shown them. It was a general practice for the waiters at public house to receive the scraps left by travellers eating at their master's table; and I was careful at such places to leave a good portion of meat, etc., remembering they had appetites to satisfy as well as myself. But after all the little I could do for them I had to mourn for them and their oppressors also, whose situation appeared far from a desirable one. In many places they seemed to be under great fear, being careful to secure their lodging rooms with locks and bolts, and to have their weapons of defence at hand, ready to be seized at the slighted alarm. The influence of the parents' example, in exercising an arbitrary and cruel power over the inmates of the house, produced an evil effect on the children, whose countenances and conduct, marked with rage and pride, presented a very different appearance from what they would, had they been taught to view and to treat the coloured people as the workmanship of the same Almighty hand as themselves, and equally the objects of the Redeemer's mercy and care, instead of being made to consider them as little or no different from the beasts of the field, and not worthy of notice which their dogs received. Many countenances which, but for the passings depicted upon them would have been lovely and engaging, appeared spoiled and repulsive - many and great, indeed, are the evil consequences of slavery, both to the oppressed and the oppressor.

After leaving Crooked run, we rode to Joseph Allen's at Smith's creek, and attended their meeting, where we were comforted togather. We were also introduced into near sympathy with our friends, Joseph and Eunice Allen, who, a short time previous, had lost two exemplary daughters with the small-pox, and a little while before, another was drowned in attempting to ford on creek, on her way to attend the Monthly Meeting. Parting from these dear friends, we went to New Market, where but one Friend's family resides. We had a tendering opportunity with the afflicted wife of this Friend, and then proceeded about nine miles, and procured lodging in a poor open chamber, and next morning at Keesetown, we parted with the Friends who had kindly accompanied us from Crooked run.

My companion and I, in company with another Friend, pursued our journey toward Jame's River, crossing the Blue mountain at a place called Rock-fish gap, where we lodged. A number of travellers and other persons had put up here, among whom were several rough and fierce looking men, in pursuit of a runaway slave, who after been once taken by them had again made his escape into the woods.

As we sat around the supper table, they were relating the circumstances of his capture and escape, loading the poor slave with hard names, and drawing from their fellow slave-holders the conclusion, that should they take him again, the most cruel and severe punishments they could inflict would not be too bad for him. I was grieved at such conversation, and feeling my spirit stirred against their conduct, could not forbear advocating the exertions of the poor runaway to obtain his liberty - calling upon them to make his case their own, and think whether there was one among them all, who, if placed in his situation, would not use the same means to escape slavery and punishment. I was soon convinced of the propriety of the caution given by Christ, "Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they turn again and rend you:" their anger was raised, and manifested toward me by furious and wrathful words, and they were so unreasonable in their conduct, that I concluded it best to say nothing more to them. The house was in a very solitary place, and the inmates alike hostile to us, they being also slave-holders, and from their conduct after we rose from the supper table, we were not without apprehension of personal danger. When we were shown our chamber, we found there was no fastening on the door, but we placed a chest against it, which braced the foot of our bed, concluding they should not come upon us by surprise. We got but little sleep, our apprehensions being increased by hearing several persons come up the stairs direction to the door of our room, where they stood whispering to each other for several minutes - they then went down stairs, and soon after came and placed themselves in the same situation again, without speaking to us or offering to come into the room. These circumstances, added to the noise and confusion which continued below stairs most of the night, caused us to sleep but little. We did not feel quite released from apprehensions of danger, until we had rode some miles from the place, remembering that William Savery had been cautioned to beware lest he should be popped off his horse, for having interfered and cut the rope with which a poor coloured boy was tied, while receiving a severe flogging, for not having the cows in the yard at the usual time. The fear I endured was unusual for me, and I believe had I not raised my voice in behalf of the poor runaway, under feeling of such resentment as I did, (though I do not think I manifested anything like wrath,) I should not have been left under the power of fear, fully believing in the omnipotence of Him who limiteth the proud waves of the sea. I think the sense of the protecting power of the holy One of Israel was in great measure withdrawn, for in seasons of far greater apparent danger of losing my life, when my mind has been preserved in humility and calmness, I have felt no fear, but a cheerful resignation to the Lord's will.


From Chapter Two, pages 105-106

Being joined by John Lynch and another Friend, we set out from this place for Kentucky, on the 19th of eighth month; and on the 21st, had a meeting at Montgomery county court-house, on the Allegheny mountains. In twelves days after leaving goose creek, we got to the settlements in Kentucky, having crossed stupendous mountains, and traversed a long dreary wilderness, where we saw many wild beasts, and but few people - seeing but one cottage in about eighty miles. We were under the necessity of lodging in a miserable hut, where there were eighteen of us, and all but the woman and her child, slept on the floor; some in blankets, and myself and another Friend on a bear skin, with our saddles for pillows. We had nothing to eat, but a scanty portion of sour milk, with but a few ears of green Indian corn; the owner of our hut having gone thirty miles to the nearest mill to get a little corn ground. In the morning, we set out without any refreshment, our stores being quite spent; and in the forenoon came to another log house, inhabited by a couple from Ireland, who appeared to be above the lower class, having a number of books upon a shelf, which I took the liberty of examining, and among them was Samuel Bownas' Journal. The man and his wife very cheerfully set to work to get us breakfast, as they kept a public house; but all they could supply us with, consisted of some Indian cakes, baked on a board before the fire, and tea without milk, having neither meat nor butter. A traveller who had joined us that morning, kindly produced the remains of his stores, consisting of a piece of bacon, which he generously divided among us, being about two mouthfuls each. This man had heard of our intending to go through the wilderness, and had rode most of the night to overtake us, being desirous of having our company, as the danger of travelling was considered great; several robberies and murders having been recently committed.