Slavery and the Making of AmericaPicture of a plantation house near Social Circle, Georgia
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The Slave Experience: Living
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Courtesy of Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division
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Photo of an excerpt from THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
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Document Description
In this passage from his account of the Underground Railroad, William Still describes the circumstances of a mulatto woman who escaped slavery with the Railroad's help. Many white men considered mulatto women to be extremely desirable. Thus, Frances, and other light skinned women, were dressed up and shown off.

Arrival 5th. Miles Hoopes.
Arrival 6th. Samuel Miles, alias Robert King.
Arrival 7th. James Henson, alias David Caldwell.
Arrival 8th. Laura Lewis.
Arrival 9th. Elizabeth Banks.
Arrival 10th. Simon Hill.
Arrival 11th. Anthony and Albert Brown.
Arrival 12th. George Williams and Charles Holladay.
Arrival 13th. William Govan.

While none in this catalogue belonged to the class whose daring adventures rendered their narratives marvelous, nevertheless they represented a very large number of those who were continually on the alert to get rid of their captivity. And in all their efforts in this direction they manifested a marked willingness to encounter perils either by land or water, by day or by night, to obtain their God-given rights. Doubtless, even among these names, will be found those who have been supposed to be lost, and mysteries will be disclosed which have puzzled scores of relatives longing and looking many years in vain to ascertain the whereabouts of this or that companion, brother, sister, or friend. So, if impelled by no other consideration than the hope of consoling this class of anxious inquirers, this is a sufficient justification for not omitting them entirely, notwithstanding the risk of seeming to render these pages monotonous. ARRIVAL No. 1. First on this record was a young mulatto woman, twenty-nine years of age--orange color, who could read and write very well, and was unusually intelligent and withal quite handsome. She was known by the name of Frances Hilliard, and escaped from Richmond, Va., where she was owned by Beverly Blair. The owner hired her out to a man by the name of Green, from whom he received seventy dollars per annum. Green allowed her to hire herself for the same amount, with the understanding that Frances should find all her own clothes, board herself and find her own house to live in. Her husband, who was also a slave, had fled nearly one year previous, leaving her widowed, of course. Notwithstanding the above mentioned conditions, under which she had the privilege of living, Frances said that she "had been used well." She had been sold four times in her life. In the first instance the failure of her master was given as the reason of her sale. Subsequently she was purchased and sold by different traders, who designed to speculate upon her as a "fancy article." They would dress her very elegantly, in order to show her off to the best advantage possible, but it appears that she had too much regard for her husband and her honor, to consent to fill the positions which had been basely assigned her by her owners.

Frances assisted her husband to escape from his owner--Taits--and was ...

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