Hiram Corson to Robert Corson, November 1, 1871

    Source citation
    William Still, The Underground Rail Road (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), 722-723.
    Author (from)
    Corson, Hiram
    Recipient (to)
    Corson, Robert
    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.



    November 1st, 1871.

    DEAR ROBERT: - Wm. Still wishes some account of the case of the negro slave taken from our neighborhood some years ago, after an attempt by my brother George to release him. (About thirty years ago.) George had been on a visit to our brother Charles, living at the fork of the Skippack and Perkiomen Creeks, in this county, and on his return, late in the afternoon, while coming along an obscure road, not the main direct road, he came up to a man on horseback, who was followed at a distance of a few feet by a colored man with a rope tied around his neck, and the other end held by the person on horseback.

    George had had experience with those slave-drivers before, as in the case of John and James Lewis, and withal had become deeply interested in the Anti-slavery cause. He, therefore, inquired of the mounted man, what the other had done that he was to be thus treated. He quietly remarked that he was his slave and had run away. He then asked by what authority he held him. He said by warrant from Esquire Vanderslice. Indignant at this great outrage, my brother hurried on to Norristown, and waited his arrival with a process to arrest him. The slave-master, confident in his rights, bold in the country of those pretended freemen, who were ever ready to kiss the rod of Slavery, came slowly riding into Norristown, just before sunset, with the rope still fast to the slave's neck. He was immediately taken before a Justice of the Peace, whose name I do not now remember. The people gathered around; anxious inquiries were made as to the person who had the audacity to question the right of this quiet, peaceable man to do with his slave as he pleased. Great scorn was expressed for the busy Abolitionists. Much sympathy given to the abused slave owner. It was soon decided, by the aid of a volunteer lawyer, whose sons have since fought the battle for freedom, that the slave-owner had a right to take his slave wherever, and in whatever way he pleased, through the country, and not only that, but at his call for help it was the bounden duty of every man, called upon, to aid him; and the person who had the audacity to stop him was threatened with punishment.

    But George's blood was up, so pained was he at the sight of a man, a poor man, a helpless man, being dragged through from Pennsylvania with a halter around his neck, that, amidst the jeers and insults of the debased crowd, he denounced Slavery, its aiders and abettors, in tones of scorn and loathing. But the man thief was left with his prey. Through the advice of those who stood by the slave laws and who knelt before the slave power, as personified by that hunter of slaves, the rope was taken from the neck,and the man guarded while the master regaled himself. That night he disappeared with his man.

    I can also give a few particulars of the escape of the Gorsuch murderers, from Norristown on their way to Canada. There should be a portrait of Daniel Ross, and a history of his labors during twenty or more years. Hundreds were entertained in his humble home, and it was in his home that the Gorsuch murderer was secreted. He must not be left out. I can also get the whole history, escape, capture, trial, conviction and redemption of James and John Lewis, and one other. They were captured here within sight of our house. George Corson, Esq., published it all, about ten years ago. Respectfully,



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