Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

money-mongers may, by devious methods, evolve surreptitious and unlicensed gains.

Until offices are recognized as having been created for public utility and not exclusively for party purposes, and until salaries are paid only for services faithfully, honorably, and wisely given for the common weal, these ills, which are grievous to be borne, will probably remain uncured and become more malignant.

Until no bonds are required, extravagance in local governments can and probably will be continued. Until there be a premium upon personal integrity and upon fitness and adaptation for given positions, rascality and mediocrity may perpetuate dishonest and extravagant management and taxes may continue to be more now than they were then.

[ocr errors]


By Alice A. Minick. Read at the Annual Meeting, January 15, 1896.

Human slavery, 'tis the one blot on the

Escutcheons of our country's fame, that time

Cannot obliterate. Memory calls

Back those days as a child shudders in the dark,
After hearing vague tales of witches.

Slavery, a daub made by the hand of greed,

And ignorance, or novice statesmen, whose
Souls were untouched by human sympathy;
Other stains streak our nation's splendor to-day,
And the black mask shall be as effectually

Torn asunder, e'en though it tries the souls of men.
Conscience coerced, by wrong codes may slumber,

While slumbering, seem to approve the law,—

Others of action, like the heroic John Brown,

Never sleep; they are talesmen for Freedom's immortal day. Mention of the Underground Railroad (U. G. R. R.) in Nebraska, or in any other state, immediately suggests to the mind the thought of Captain John Brown, whose name is inscribed on every historic record which pertains to the great national wrong of slavery, up to the time of his "public murder" at Harper's Ferry, December 19, 1859. John Brown was the inspiration of the abolition party. He clasped the hand of oppression, and united it with freedom,-his life was the prophecy of freedom, and his death its benediction.

The U. G. R. R. was humane in its object, was created from a deep abstract principle, which rests in patriotism in governmental affairs, and is the moral element in human and divine rights. In reviewing carefully the movement of the abolition party reformers who put their souls and lives into the movement, I can see no place where the true governmental principle of justice and the divine principle of personal liberty crossed,

though to an unsympathizer, or careless observer, it might appear to the contrary.

The prime object of the movers along the line of the U. G. R. R., both north and south, east and west, was the emancipation of the slaves from an unholy bondage, to assist them to their Godgiven rights, in defiance of the human authority that overshadowed them; this assistance to be rendered when necessary, at all hazard, and at any and all times. The bravest and most loyal blood flowed in the veins of those abolition forerunners; like all reformers, they were dubbed as fanatics and lunatics, when, in fact, they were radical enthusiasts upon the subject of patriotisni. Who could doubt the loyalty of men as brave as John Brown, Lovejoy, or Gerrit Smith, or Fred Douglass, or Wendell Phillips, and scores of other reformers whose souls were enlisted in the work, that struck the key note, that sounded the death knell of human slavery?

John Brown was a Christian gentleman, not a rough, as he is understood to be by many who have not studied his biography. He was educated for the ministry, was a tanner by trade. He was at one time a large wool dealer, then a farmer; his methods were practical in every respect. In person he was a tall, well developed specimen of manhood, five feet eleven inches in height, with keen black eyes, and when I saw him in 1859 he wore a heavy beard, which was streaked with grey; he impressed one as a man of strength. He represented a line of sturdy and noted ancestry; he is described as the seventh John Brown along the genealogical line. He was married twice and became the father of twenty children; he possessed the will to do what others knew should be done but had not the moral courage to do, for he declared he had been engaged in railroad business on a somewhat extended scale, and said: "I have been connected with the business from my boyhood and never let an opportunity slip." This line of work was carried on more extensively than was generally understood at the time, or is yet understood,-since it was conducted under various names. It was known in some sections as The Subterranian Pass Way (S. P. W.), "Free State League,"

and "League of Freedom," all of which implied one and the same thing, known in the west as the Underground Railroad (U. G. R. R.) I am to deal more directly with the U. G. R. R. in Nebraska-which was a short line, comparatively, both in distance and time of operation. The Nebraska line was directly under the management and leadership of John Brown, whose home was temporarily in Kansas. He often passed over the route, personally accompanying the fugitives as far as Springdale, the Quaker settlement in Cedar county, Iowa, which was one of the stations on their way to Canada.

[ocr errors]

It is authoritatively stated that seventy-five thousand fugitives were in Canada West at the time of the Chatham gathering, which was an abolition convention called by John Brown in 1858. One colored woman, Mrs. Tubman, is reported to have assisted several thousand fugitives to escape, she having been a refugee, and one Wm. Lambert is reported to have helped within a period of thirty years, thirty thousand slaves to freedom. It is reported that the Ohio-Kentucky route, served more fugitives than others in the north. I make mention of these facts to show something of the magnitude of the U. G. R. R. and its functions in the fulfillment of the prophecy which declared that this should be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The original name of the Nebraska line was known as the Kansas-Nebraska and Iowa Underground Railroad. It was a continuation of the Missouri and Kansas line. Its terminus was Springdale, Iowa, the center of the Quaker community above mentioned. Falls City, in Richardson county, was the first station in Nebraska. Nemaha City, Nemaha county, and Nebraska City, Otoe county, the main crossing of the Missouri river,—these comprised the Nebraska stations, and extended from them to Tabor, Iowa, then to Springdale. The Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa line was well organized. It was later known as the Nebraska U. G. R. R. The money used was raised by subscription, mostly among its members, and the road was worked by its members, who were abolitionists. The members took their turns, and used their own methods of transportation from one station

to another. Sometimes they were annoyed and their plans frustrated by some disloyal members, who could be tempted to try and make money by returning the slaves to their masters and obtaining the reward. If they succeeded they crossed the river at Rulo, in Richardson county, Nebraska, opposite Missouri. Between bloody Kansas on the south and the border ruffians, and Missouri, a rank slave state, on the east, there was imminent danger and risk connected with the undertaking, but a goodly number of abolitionists at each of these points influenced public sentiment far enough to prevent outbreaks or serious disturbance, more than the occasional occurrence of disloyalty of some of its members, which Judge Reavis, of Falls City, describes by an incident which took place, in which he says: "As I now remember, there were about one-half dozen operators on that road in and about Falls City, having a station about a mile north of town, at the house of a man by the name of W. W. Buchanan. This man Buchanan got into some trouble with the fraternity and was dismissed from their service. Charles Strong, of Nemaha City, and some two or three others, whose names I do not recall, came into Falls City some time during the year 1859 or '60, and, among other things, charged him with slipping runaway darkies over into Missouri for the purpose of getting the reward offered for their recapture. There was some foundation for the charge, and it came pretty near costing Buchanan his life, as Strong, Chamberlain, Jamieson, and some others, whose names I have forgotten, were not only indignant at the conduct of Buchanan, but they distinctly told him that a repetition of it would bring about his personal destruction. There was one ridiculous circumstance connected with this that might as well be told, and I think the circumstance led to the suspicion that Buchanan was not all right. One of the runaway slaves had been lodged at Buchanan's house, to be forwarded on his course to Mt. Tabor, Ia., and was a little above the average negro in point of intelligence. This negro became suspicious that everything was not all right and broke away from the men who had him and escaped south across the Nemaha river into

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »