John Hunn to William Still, November 7, 1871

    Source citation
    William Still, The Underground Rail Road (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), 713-714.
    Date Certainty
    Zak Rosenberg
    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.


    BEAUFORT, S. C. 7th, 1871.

    WM. STILL, DEAR FRIEND: - In thy first letter thee asked for my photograph as well as for an opinion of the book about to be edited by thyself. I returned a favorable answer and sent likeness, as requested. I incidentally mentioned that, probably some of my papers might be of service to thee. The papers alluded to had no reference to myself; but consisted of anecdotes and short histories of some of the fugitives from the hell of American Slavery, who gave me a call, as engineer of the Underground Rail Road in the State of Delaware, and received the benefit of my advice and assistance.

    I was twenty-seven years-old when I engaged in the Underground Rail Road business, and I continued therein diligently until the breaking up of that business by the Great Rebellion. I then came to South Carolina to witness the uprising of a nation of slaves into the dignity and privileges of mankind.

    Nothing can possibly have the same interest to me. Therefore, I propose to remain where this great problem is in the process of solution; and to give my best efforts to its successful accomplishment. In this matter the course that I have pursued thus far through life has given me solid satisfaction. I ask no other reward for any efforts made by me in the cause, than to feel that I have been of use to my fellow-men.

    No other course would have brought peace to my mind; then why should any credit be awarded to me; or how can I count any circumstance that may have occurred to me, in the light of a sacrifice? If a man pursues the only course that will bring peace to his own mind, is he deserving of any credit therefor? Is not the reward worth striving for at any cost? Indeed it is, as I well know.

    Would it be well for me, entertaining such sentiments, to sit down and write an account of my sacrifices? I think not. Therefore please hold me excused. I am anxious to see thy book, and will forward the price of one as soon as I can ascertain what it is.

    Please accept my thanks for thy kind remembrance of me. I am now fifty-three years old, but I well remember thy face in the Anti-slavery Office in Fifth street, when I called on business of the Underground Rail Road. Our mutual friend, S. D. Burris, was the cause of much uneasiness to us in those times. It required much trouble, as well as expense to save him from the slave-traders. I stood by hint on the auction-block; and when I stepped down, they thought they had him sure. Indeed he thought so himself for a little while. But we outwitted them at last, to their great chagrin. Those were stirring times, and the people of Dover, Delaware, will long remember the time when S. D. Burris was sold at public sale for aiding slaves to escape from their masters, and was bought by the Pennsylvania Anti-slavery Society. I remain very truly thy friend,


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