Diary Entry by Edmund Ruffin, October 17, 1857

Source citation
Scarborough, William Kauffman, ed. The Diary of Edmund Ruffin. Vol. 1. Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1972, p. 113-114.
Author (from)
Edmund Ruffin
Date Certainty
Don Sailer
Transcription date
The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible.
Oct. 17. At 11 P.M. last night the train for Raleigh set out, & arrived before daybreak, & changed to the train going westward. I have never before seen, among people who, by their positions are esteemed, & consider themselves as gentlemen, such strong evidences of the selfishness & want of politeness which are common in passengers. The only passenger car, on each of these roads, was crowded. The greater number of passengers, (about 20 of them) were of one party, delegates who were returning from a Presbyterian synod in Virginia, & who were from the interior of South Carolina mostly. I was one of the latest to enter the car at Weldon, & found every double seat occupied by two persons, except a few in which there was a vacant half. On one of these, I seated myself, evidently to the discomposure of the previous occupation of the other half. However, he showed no more incivility than mere coldness of manner. In public conveyances I always meet all attempts of my neighbors to begin conversation, & often, as on this occasion, I make the beginning. But after my companion merely replied to my first remarks or inquiries, I followed his example of silence. Being on he seat next [to] the passage-way, I had not even a place to learn my head against &, though I can sleep well when traveling, I could get but little sleep, & passed a very uncomfortable night. In the next train, I was situated in the like manner. I suppose that I was unknown [188] to every other passenger, as all were unknown to me. I was the oldest man in the car-& but few others seemed to approach my age. At the station near to the University (Chapel Hill) three other passengers entered, of whom one was an emaciated youth, 18 or 19 years old, borne in the arms of a negro man, accompanied by an elderly lady, who seemed to be the young man’s mother. The party advanced along the passage. No one moved, or offered any accommodation, until they reached nearly to my place, when I rose, & offered by seat to the young man. My companion then followed my example, so that the mother also was seated by her son. The only vacant places then in my sight were the seats on each side of the stove, which I & others had before been driven from by the heat of the fire being too great to be borne. But now, having no other place, I returned, & found that the fire had so abated, that the seat was quite comfortable. We next reached Hillsborough, after sunrise. There was waiting a new supply of passengers, some 8 or 10 in one large party, mostly of ladies, children, & their servants. They entered the end of the car most remote from my place. Amidst the sir produced, the seating of some & the still remaining standing of others, I saw that P. B. Ruffin, of Hillsborough, was one of the escorts of the party, & I called out to him (as we were some 8 seats distance apart,) that if he had not seated all the ladies, I could give up my seat, & invited him to bring them. Those who had not obtained seats were still slowly advancing-& as the mistresses were previously seated, I suppose that they told their servants to go & take the offered seats. So it was, while I was still standing & offering the seat, two black maid servants, one of them carrying her mistress’ infant, came up, & quietly took the seat which I had offered. Theirs was not the color of the ladies to whom my invitation had been [189] given, but I said nothing….I then continued standing, until the father of the infant came up, who took off the nurse to the servants’ car. As this vacated a seat, I took it, by the side of the other negro woman. This probably afforded amusement to most of the young men-& would have shocked a northerner, by my occupying such close neighborhood to a negro…. Stopped at Graham, & proceeded to Judge Ruffin’s…
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