The history of the African
race is God's illuminated clock, set in the
dark steeple of time. The Negro has been
made the hewer of wood and the drawer of
water for nearly all other nations. The
people of the United States, however, will
have an account to settle with God, owing to
their treatment of the Negro, which will far
surpass the rest of mankind.
Jerome, on reaching Canada, felt for the first time that personal freedom which God intended that all who bore his image should enjoy. That same forgetfulness of self which had always characterized him now caused him to think of others. The thoughts of dear ones in slavery were continually in his mind, and above all others, Clotelle occupied his thoughts. Now that he was free, he could better appreciate her condition as a slave. Although Jerome met, on his arrival in Canada, numbers who had escaped from the Southern States, he nevertheless shrank from all society, particularly that of females. The soft, silver gray tints on the leaves of the trees, with their snow spotted trunks, and a biting air, warned the new born freeman that he was in another climate. Jerome sought work, and soon found it; and arranged with his employer that the latter should go to Natchez in search of Clotelle. The good Scotchman, for whom the fugitive was laboring, freely offered to go down and purchase the girl, if she could be bought, and let Jerome pay him in work. With such a prospect of future happiness in view, this injured descendent of outraged and bleeding Africa went daily to his toil with an energy hitherto unknown to him. But oh, how vain are the hopes of man!
Farewell To America
Three months had elapsed, from the time the fugitive commenced work for Mr. Streeter, when that gentleman returned from his Southern research, and informed Jerome that Parson Wilson had sold Clotelle, and that she had been sent to the New Orleans slave market.
This intelligence fell with crushing weight upon the heart of Jerome, and he now felt that the last chain which bound him to his native land was severed. He therefore determined to leave America forever. His nearest and dearest friends had often been flogged in his very presence, and he had seen his mother sold to the Negro trader. An only sister had been torn from him by the soul driver; he had himself been sold and resold, and been compelled to submit to the most degrading and humiliating insults; and now that the woman upon whom his heart doted, and without whom life was a burden, had been taken away forever, he felt it a duty to hate all mankind.
If there is one thing more than another calculated to make one hate and detest American slavery, it is to witness the meetings between fugitives and their friends in Canada. Jerome had beheld some of these scenes. The wife who, after years of separation, had escaped from her prison house and followed her husband had told her story to him. He had seen the newly arrived wife rush into the arms of the husband, whose dark face she had not looked upon for long, weary years. Some told of how a sister had been ill used by the overseer; others of a husband's being whipped to death for having attempted to protect his wife. He had sat in the little log hut, by the fireside, and heard tales that caused his heart to bleed; and his bosom swelled with just indignation when he though that there was no remedy for such atrocious acts. It was with such feelings that he informed his employer that he should leave him at the expiration of a month.
In vain did Mr. Streeter try to persuade Jerome to remain with him; and late in the month of February, the latter found himself on board a small vessel loaded with pine lumber, descending the St. Lawrence, bound for Liverpool. The bark, though an old one, was, nevertheless, considered seaworthy, and the fugitive was working his way out. As the vessel left the river and gained the open sea, the black man appeared to rejoice at the prospect of leaving a country in which his right to manhood had been denied him, and his happiness destroyed.
The wind was proudly swelling the white sails, and the little craft plunging into the foaming waves, with the land fast receding in the distance, when Jerome mounted a pile of lumber to take a last farewell of his native land. With tears glistening in his eyes, and with quivering lips, he turned his gaze toward the shores that were fast fading in the dim distance, and said,
"Though forced from my native land by the tyrants of the South, I hope I shall some day be able to return. With all her faults, I love my country still."
Clotelle or The Colored Heroine, A tale of the Southern States