I was a tried seaman when, for the first time, I set foot upon the soil of my country, and took up my residence where my people had lived for over two hundred years.
And let me tell you, you boys of America, that there is no higher inspiration to any man to be a good man, a good citizen, and a good son, brother, or father, than the knowledge that you come from honest blood.
The attack of John Brown upon Harper's Ferry came upon Virginia like a clap of thunder out of a clear sky.
As early as the autumn of 1862, I was made very happy by being sent to school.
Father had notions about manhood suffrage, public schools, the education and the elevation of the masses, and the gradual emancipation of the slaves, that did not suit the uncompromising views of people in places like Richmond.
My mother was a Northern woman, daughter of Hon. John Sergeant, a distinguished lawyer, and for many years representative in Congress from Philadelphia.
In those days, slavery was not looked upon, even in Quaker Philadelphia, with the shudder and abhorrence one feels towards it now.
The autumn of 1850 brought an event freighted with deep significance to me. My mother died.
Even if my mother had no qualms of conscience concerning ownership of negroes, her sense of duty carried her far beyond the mere supplying of their physical needs, or requiring that they render faithful service.
In all her history, from the formation of the federal government until the hour of secession, no year stands out more prominently than the year 1858 as evidencing the national patriotism of Virginia.
John Brown was tried for treason, murder, and inciting slaves to insurrection.
Of private differences personal to himself, my brother had none.
America is good enough for us.
Virginians were no more angels or philanthropists than people to the north or to the south of them. They were moved by their affections, their interest, and their resentments, just as humanity is moved today.
However the Southern man may have been master of the negro, there were compensatory processes whereby certain negroes were masters of their masters' children.
For un-subscribe please check the mail footer.