The one incurable grief of these humble parents was that in bringing children into the world they were helping to perpetuate the institution of slavery. The fear that any day might bring to them the cruel pangs of separation and the terrible knowledge that their loved ones had been condemned to the horrors of the auction block was with them always a constant shadow, darkening each waking moment. More and ever more, they were torn with anxiety for the future of the children and so they threw themselves with increasing faith and dependence upon the Master of all, and no visit of the children was so hurried or full of other matters but that a few moments were reserved for prayer. At their departure, one after another was clasped to the mother's breast and always this earnest admonition followed them, "Be good children and the blessed Lord will take care of you." Louisa and Joseph, the two youngest, were still at home when there occurred events in which several of their older brothers and sisters took so prominent a part and which are here to be related.

     The incidents of this narrative which are reflected in its title are contemporary with and in a measure resultant from the revolution out of which came the establishment of the first French Republic and the expulsion of Louis-Philippe in 1848. The citizens of the United States were felicitating their brothers across the water upon the achievement of so desirable a result. In Washington especially, the event was joyously acclaimed. Public meetings were held at which representatives of the people in both houses of Congress spoke encouragingly of the recent advance toward universal liberty. The city was regally adorned with flags and bunting and illumination and music everywhere. The White House was elaborately decorated in honor of the event and its general observance, scheduled for April 13. A procession of national dignitaries, local organizations and the civic authorities, accompanied by several bands of music and throngs of citizens, made its way to the open square (now Lafayette Park) opposite the White House. Speeches were in order. Among the addresses which aroused the large crowd to enthusiasm were those of Senator Patterson of Tennessee and Senator Foote of Mississippi.1 The former likened the Tree of Liberty to the great cotton-wood tree of his section, whose seed is blown far and wide, while the latter spoke eloquently of the universal emancipation of man and the approaching recognition in all countries of the great principles of equality and brotherhood.

     Here and there huddled unobtrusively in groups on the fringe of the crowd were numbers of slaves. The enthusiasm of the throng, frequently manifested in shouts of approval, was discreetly reflected in the suppressed excitement of the slaves, who whispered among themselves concerning the curious and incredible expressions they had heard.


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August 2000