American Civilization/ English 11th
Dr. Graves/ Mrs. May-Washington
November 15th 2010
The Road to Freedom
I be mighty grateful to mistah David Ruggles, who be a abolitionist Republican wantin to hear my story and publish a book about me. My name is Elijah White; I was born outside West Point in Bates County, Missouri. I worked on my masta’s farm. The farm was called da White farm. It was about forty acres an grew tobacco an hemp. My masta was Colonel Walter Prescott White. He tol me I was twenty years ol’ but I didn’t really know. I didn’t have no education when on da farm. I never knew my pa and my mama gone left me when I was real young. I didn’t have no siblings. He was in da Mexican War, and been in battle plenty. Now durin the Civil War he was in da Missouri militia He was some kind of lover of da confedrates, and dem bushwhackers who were attackin Kansas. Masta White owned five more slaves.
On da farm I tended to da hemp and tobacco. I worked sunrise to sunset. In late summer, I’d cut hemp, den laid it on da ground to dry. Afta it dried, I tied it into sheaves and stacked it. It was tough work and weared me out. In November, I spreaded it out in da fields so it could dew rot and loosed up da fibers. We sowed tobacco seeds in da winter. Durin da summer, da plants needed to be wormed, topped, and suckered. Late summer I had to split and cut da stalks so it could wilt in da fields. I hated when I took da tobacco to da houses and hung it to be curred for winter, cause it was awful hard and tiring. Bout next season, I stripped da leaves, sorted em and tied em into bundles.
When my masta was drunk he was damn evil; he’d beat me till he couldn’t beat me no mo. He used his hands, his whip, and his cow hide. No matta how bad he beat me I always worked da next day. Masta weren’t always so bad; it be da liquor dat made him evil. He gave me good clothes for da year, and when deys were torn up he replaced em. He knew dat with clothes and shoes I worked betta. He fed me right, and I never was too hungry. I ate bread, cornmeal, and when masta was real happy I ate his leftovers. His wife done died a couple years back; some bad fever is what I hear, but I aint sure. He has two chillun, Thomas and Hugh. Dey was bout my age I suppose. All dey did was make sure me and da other slaves done nothing bad. Mistah Hugh only beat me when I was doin something wrong. He didn’t seem to like beaten slaves so much. His brother mistah Thomas was pure evil, I tell ya pure evil. He beated me every chance he done got and durn loved it too. Sometimes I wished mistah Thomas would just go away fo ever.
One day I was workin in da field tendin to da hemp and cuttin it up, when I sees a lot of white men on horses ridin down da road. Dey was ridin to masta’s house. Da white men were in blue clothes. Dey looked up to no good. Me an da other slaves ran up to da house to see what was happenin. Before I knew it masta White, an mistah Thomas an mistah Hugh were outside pointin der rifles at da blue white men. Next I done saw somethin I’d neva forget. Da white men on da horses all shot my masta an his sons. I saw blood come out from da head of my masta as he fell to da dirt. It done happened so fast I didn’t see Hugh or Thomas get shot. I looked on da ground an saw blood come out of all der heads. Der faces was worse den awful. Der was blood all round da bodies. Da nice white shirts soaked in dark red. When I looked up one of da white men got off his horse an said somethin to me I neva thought I’d hear. He said, “son my name’s General James Lane of the Union Army. I am the Brigade Commander of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Regiments and you’re now a free man, forever free from slavery.” At first I was so happy I didn’t know what to say. Den I though for a bit and durn wondered what I was gonna do next. My masta was dead, and I was free. I said to General Lane, “Mistah I is very grateful to you fo what you...