Jacob Bigelow (William Penn) to William Still, October 6, 1855

    Source citation
    William Still, The Underground Rail Road (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), 180.
    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., October 6th, 1855.

    MR. STILL, DEAR SIR:-I regret exceedingly to learn by your favor of 4th instant, that all things are not ready. Although I cannot speak of any immediate and positive danger. [Yet it is well known that the city is full of incendiaries.]

    Perhaps you are aware that any colored citizen is liable at any hour of day or night without any show of authority to have his house ransacked by constables, and if others do it and commit the most outrageous depredations none but white witnesses can convict them. Such outrages are always common here, and no kind of property exposed to colored protection only, can be considered safe. [I don't say that much liberty should not be given to constables on account of numerous runaways, but it don't always work for good.] Before advertising they go round and offer rewards to sharp colored men of perhaps one or two hundred dollars, to betray runaways, and having discovered their hiding place, seize them and then cheat their informers out of the money.

    [Although a law-abiding man,] I am anxious in this case of innocence to raise no conflict or suspicion. [Be sure that the manumission is full and legal.] And as I am powerless without your aid, I pray you don't lose a moment in giving me relief. The idea of waiting yet for weeks seems dreadful; do reduce it to days if possible, and give me notice of the earliest possible time.

    The property is not yet advertised, but will be, [and if we delay too long, may be sold and lost.] It was a great misunderstanding, though not your fault, that so much delay would be necessary. [I repeat again that I must have the thing done legally, therefore, please get a good lawyer to draw up the deed of manumission.] Yours Truly, J. BIGELOW.

    How to Cite This Page: "Jacob Bigelow (William Penn) to William Still, October 6, 1855," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/864.