Jacob Bigelow (William Penn) to William Still, September 9, 1855

    Source citation
    William Still, The Underground Rail Road (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), 178-179.
    Author (from)
    Bigelow, Jacob (William Penn)
    Date Certainty
    Zak Rosenberg
    Transcription date

    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    WASHINGTON, D. C., September 9th, 1855.

    MR. WM. STILL, DEAR SIR:-I strongly hope the little matter of business so long pending and about which I have written you so many times, will take a move now. I have the promise that the merchandize shall be delivered in this city to-night. Like so many other promises, this also may prove a failure, though I have reason to believe that it will not. I shall, however, know before I mail this note. In case the goods arrive here I shall hope to see your long-talked of "Professional gentleman" in Washington, as soon as possible. He will find me by the enclosed card, which shall be a satisfactory introduction for him. You have never given me his name, nor am I anxious to know it. But on a pleasant visit made last fall to friend Wm. Wright, in Adams Co., I suppose I accidentally learned it to be a certain Dr. H---. Well, let him come.

    I had an interesting call a week ago from two gentlemen, masters of vessels, and brothers, one of whom, I understand, you know as the "powder boy." I had a little light freight for them; but not finding enough other freight to ballast their craft, they went down the river looking for wheat, and promising to return soon. I hope to see them often.

    I hope this may find you returned from your northern trip,* as your time proposed was out two or three days ago.

    I hope if the whole particulars of Jane Johnson's case t are printed, you will send me the copy as proposed.

    I forwarded some of her things to Boston a few days ago, and had I known its importance in court, I could have sent you one or two witnesses who would prove that her freedom was intended by her before she left Washington, and that a man was engaged here to go on to Philadelphia the same day with her to give notice there of her case, though I think he failed to do so. It was beyond all question her purpose, before leaving Washington and provable too, that if Wheeler should make her a free woman by taking her to a free state "to use it rather."

    Tuesday, 11th September. The attempt was made on Sunday to forward the merchandize, but failed through no fault of any of the parties that I now know of. It will be repeated soon, and you shall know the result.

    "Whorra for Judge Kane." I feel so indignant at the man, that it is not easy to write the foregoing sentence, and yet who is helping our cause like Kane and Douglas, not forgetting Stringfellow. I hope soon to know that this reaches you in safety. It often happens that light freight would be offered to Captain B., but the owners cannot by possibility advance the amount of freight. I wish it were possible in some such extreme cases, that after advancing all they have, some public fund should be found to pay the balance or at least lend it.

    [I wish here to caution you against the supposition that I would do any act, or say a word towards helping servants to escape. Although I hate slavery so much, I keep my hands clear of any such wicked or illegal act.] Yours, very truly, J. B.

    Will you recollect, hereafter, that in any future letters, in which I may use [    ] whatever words may be within the brackets are intended to have no signification whatever to you, only to blind the eyes of the uninitiated. You will find an example at the close of my letter.

    How to Cite This Page: "Jacob Bigelow (William Penn) to William Still, September 9, 1855," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/861.