Mary B. Thomas to William Still, April 19, 1848

    Source citation
    William Still, The Underground Rail Road (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), 583-584.
    Author (from)
    Thomas, Mary B.
    Date Certainty
    Michael Blake
    Transcription date

    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    "DOWNINGTOWN, 19th, 4th mo., 1848.

    "MY DEAR FRIEND: - This morning our family was aroused by the screams of a young colored girl, who has been living with us nearly a year past; but we were awakened only in time to see her borne off by three white men, ruffians indeed, to a carriage at our door, and in an instant she was on her way to the South. I feel so much excited by the attendant circumstances of this daring and atrocious deed, as scarcely to be able to give you a coherent account of it, but I know that it is a duty to make it known, and, I therefore write this immediately.

    "As soon as the house was opened in the morning, these men who were lurking without, having a carriage in waiting in the street, entered on their horrid errand. They encountered no one in their entrance, except a colored boy, who was making the fire; and who, being frightened at their approach, ran and hid himself; taking a lighted candle from the kitchen, and carrying it up stairs, they went directly to the chamber in which the poor girl lay in a sound sleep. They lifted her from her bed and carried her down stairs. In the entry of the second floor they met one of my sisters, who, hearing an unusual noise, had sprung from her bed. Her screams, and those of the poor girl, who was now thoroughly awakened to the dreadful truth, aroused my father, who hurried undressed from his chamber, on the ground floor. My father's efforts were powerless against the three; they threw him off, and with frightful imprecations hurried the girl to the carriage. Quickly as possible my father started in pursuit, and reached West Chester only to learn that the carriage had driven through the borough at full speed, about half an hour before. They had two horses to their vehicle, and there were three men besides those in the house. These particulars we gather from the colored boy Ned, who, from his hiding-place, was watching them in the road.

    "Can anything be done for the rescue of this girl from the kidnappers? We are surprised and alarmed! This deliberate invasion of our house, is a thing unimagined. There must be some informer, who is acquainted with our house and its arrangements, or they never would have come so boldly through. Truly, there is no need to preach about Slavery in the abstract, this individual case combines every wickedness by which human nature can be degraded. Truly, thy friend,


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