Jacob Bigelow (William Penn) to William Still, April 3, 1856

    Source citation
    William Still, The Underground Rail Road (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), 187-188.
    Author (from)
    Bigelow, Jacob (William Penn)
    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.

    WASHINGTON, D. C., April 3, 1856.

    DEAR SIR:-I sent you the recent law of Virginia, under which all vessels are to be searched for fugitives within the waters of that State.

    It was long ago suggested by a sagacious friend, that the "powder boy" might find a better port in the Chesapeake bay, or in the Patuxent river to communicate with this vicinity, than by entering the Potomac river, even were there no such law.

    Suppose he opens a trade with some place south-west of Annapolis, 25 or 30 miles from here, or less. He might carry wood, oysters, &c., and all his customers from this vicinity might travel in that direction without any of the suspicions that might attend their journeyings towards this city. In this way, doubtless, a good business might be carried on without interruption or competition, and provided the plan was conducted without affecting the inhabitants along that shore, no suspicion would arise as to the manner or magnitude of his business operations. How does this strike you? What does the "powder boy" think of it?

    I heretofore intimated a pressing necessity on the part of several females-they are variously situated-two have children, say a couple each; some have none-of the latter, one can raise $50, another, say 30 or 40 dollars-another who was gazetted last August (a copy sent you), can raise, through her friends, 20 or 30 dollars, &c., &c. None of these can walk so far or so fast as scores of men that are constantly leaving. I cannot shake off my anxiety for these poor creatures. Can you think of anything for any of these? Address your other correspondent in answer to this at your leisure.

    Yours, WM. PENN.

    P. S.-April 3d. Since writing the above, I have received yours of 31st. I am rejoiced to hear that business is so successful and prosperous-may it continue till the article shall cease to be merchandize.

    I spoke in my last letter of the departure of a "few friends." I have since heard of their good health in Penn'a. Probably you may have seen them.

    In reference to the expedition of which you think you can "hold out some little encouragement," I will barely remark, that I shall be glad, if it is undertaken, to have all the notice of the time and manner that is possible, so as to make ready.

    A friend of mine says, anthracite coal will always pay here from Philadelphia, and thinks a small vessel might run often-that she never would be searched in the Potomac, unless she went outside.

    You advise caution towards Mr. P. I am precisely of your opinion about him, that he is a "queer stick," and while I advised him carefully in reference to his own undertakings, I took no counsel of him concerning mine.

    Yours, W. P.

    How to Cite This Page: "Jacob Bigelow (William Penn) to William Still, April 3, 1856," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/959.