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Henry Clay's Slaves: For The Signal Of Liberty

Henry Clay's Slaves: For The Signal Of Liberty image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
Letter to the Editor
OCR Text

Dktkoit, April 6. H-1G. Mi bskb. Eüitors : -The Signal of the 30th Marcli contains the siotcmcnt of n person purponing to be an escapcd slave of Hcnry Clay. Jn your comments yon ovince a proper camión. Yon also say you are not nwareofany evidence tliat Mr. Clny is n hard mustor, ond that when you receive inlormniion confirming or invalidalinytho present state ment you wil! pubüsli it. J have read ihe statement, nnd tf. in connre(on witli yonf remarks, recallsaome fac:s, wliich tnny not bc uninierestmg. The man. whom with wife and chüd, Miss Webster assisted lo escape from Le.ingtoi),Kentucky. and fot wliich she wns convicied under the Kentucky lawa. was in Detmit. 1 have frefjuently conversed with him. ile was very intelligent and highly respectable: n member of the Methodist Church. He resided in Detroit forsome lengtli of tirre, nnd appnrently wns ns trust worthy, as any of its best cilizcns. J-I is ncounts of slnvery appeared cundid, and true: nnd no onc. I ihi :ik could listen to him, without being satis fitd, that his statements were Iioncst. Névortheless tlioy nmy hnvc bcenotherwise, nnd I now give you tlie purport of sotnc ol thevn, to go tor what tlicy nre worili. As hc iippenred in Doiroit soon nfter the excitcd cleciion of 1844, mysolf nnd some friends neked him renpecting the conriiiion and trenttnent o( Henry Chy's Slnves. I!e suid Mr. Clny hiinsclf did not genenilly interfere with them, but lift ilietn to his overgeers: thnt he always had had and hnrd overseers: to use his own words - "the meanest kind ot overseers": thnt !io was onc of ihe few persons, who kept up the rtllowance sysiem: i. e. gave n certain amount of food to cach slave: that iho "nllowance" was quite insufficient 10 support the peuple, but that they found means to supply theanselves with food, by killing pigs nnd other such matters during night: he described a smali dog they htd, anti which wns trained tó catch young pigs by the thront, so thnt they could not inako a noise, and were held until killed: thnt the slaves were well clothcd by Mr. Clny. but misernbly (tsó, and overworked: nnd were subject to floggings like all oihers at tho whim of the oversoer: that his wife wae a slave of Mr. Clay: and thnt a wcwnan, who was n slave of his. (ihc infonnant's) mnsier hnd for a hufbnnd a mnn also n 6lave of Mr. Clay: nnd thnt by these channe' and many others: as wull asby living all his life closu to Ashland, hc knew every thing going on there. I nskcd him respecting Tom Todd. Tom wns a wcll known slave of Mr. Clny, brouglu up to iho shoemnking business, nnd was hired out tn the gieat profil of Mr. Clay. II e woa rhentioned by, 1 believe, Mr. Fuller. If not by him, at least by some visitnnt to Aehlnnd. Ho was rather a roinar!nhlf) man: remarkable far oppenrancc, characler. industry, and profit to his hiror out. Durin;,' the ycar 1844 I hnd een irtsome newspaper a line or two sinting thnt Tom Todd had commiticd suicide, and then designcd to dsc it ná a significant commentnry. on -the fat, 6lcek. ;md wtll fed" tij-stem, but J íovboro to do so, and nevcr mentioned il, bccause I deemed the newspaper authority bad. I however asked my informant, if he knew Toni Todd. and whether ii truc. ihat he had killed himself. Hosiiri. he know Tom wcll, and thnt all Lcxïngton knew him. He was a large nnd powerful man: of superior inind: very quiet nnd wcll conducted} had been always hircd ou"t: böt ihatI "ll.V 1 i i I I ■ I i ■ ' ■ I I J I J I i t i ' l ' " l i during Mr. Clay's electionecring 10DH n 1844 !iis overseer had siimmoned Tom, and anoihcr man. somewhai liko him, home to the farm to work: ihut thcy botli obeyed thc cali: thni ihe overseer haied both thesa rnen, bccnise oí ihcir charac:er, purson and niind, aod excrcised over them peity (yrannicd: at last undeitnkiiig to whip or slrike thomí ihat a ecrapo ensued, n which the overseer was thrown inte a horae pondor jome surh thing: ond to avoid tlieconsequence ihe 2 men remained hid n tho woods, untü Mr. Cl-.y returned: thtit on Mr. Clay's reurn in the ovening, while he eniercd Lcxingon amid bonfiro, ligh's, and rejoicinga, theotlior slave got to Mr. Cloy; told his story, bui was efmed pardon All be coutd get wae permieeon to eel) himself', and find another master,ffhicn he d-d nt.xt duy, the money'going to Mr Clny. Uut Torn was not, iho ovor eer got dio Umi ato y. The next dny Torn aproil 'd to Clny, bul in vnin: he rccnpitulnted Itis lonj services: his uniform obcdience: his dcvoiion te, but wna answored liy an oaih. nnd ihat he md betier have lost his right hnnd tlmn rj.iáed 't on a wlnto man: thnt Torn wns desirod by Mr. Cl;iy to go wiih liim to nn oiuhouee: was :old to atrip: thnt Mr. CIny'a passiona had beoineso warm, that irrilalcd uiih ihc cxpostula:ion nnd feelingsof Torn. he hiinsell" toro ofllii,aekt nnd wnistcoac got hini finally stripped. ui.l hiniself tiod him np, and then called in the xverseer, told him :here was his man. and went wny: tlmt the overseer flogged To-n until ho becamo Fcn;eleps, atui was cut down by his wl!e: tlmt Tom never rccovcrcd in mind: continued Ifjccted and moody, was crushod in iocling, and süon aftir hung hiniself.At tho time ihi? narrativo wns givcn Í had ihought to pet tho man to puhlish it, but it was ?oon nltcr the elección. nndita exciiement wns uuillaycd. Ucsides it wnsonly the unsubstamiated statement öf nr individual. My motive then. wns not to injure Mr. Clay, nor hun ihe feeüngs of his fricnrls. but to show our frienda tho propriuiy in haring ic9sicd the nüuroments laid (o 'scciiro their voie for Mr. Claj'. They were nnt8la%-cry inon: ol a party based on the cordinnl principie ufnot voiing for ony Sluvcholder, but a prodigious appcnl hnd just boen mndo; and onc ot ite gronmU hid betn thnt 'Veak, wxll led, and wcll ciad" systcm of tho Cloy eluves, and the qoiet linppintss in which thoy reposed. I would not even now detail the abñva portions ol the etntcment, but for that of Mr. Richardson.- Yonr readers can lay the two statements together and mak o thcir own commcnis.