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Good Words 1860
A Living Chattel


I must tell you of an occurrence that I was witness of yesterday in Mr. Henry Ward Beecher's church. After a beautiful sermon on Col. iii. 14, he called the attention of his congregation to a subject which had been brought before him early in winter. A young man from Washington called on him and asked him to bring the case of a coloured child before his people on the first Sunday of January. That plan was frustrated; but on Friday evening the gentleman re-appeared with the child. He had succeeded in obtaining permission from her owner to bring her north. Four men were left in bond for her ; and even then the slaveholder would not consent to her going until he received Mr. Beecher's word, that either the child should be returned within a given time, or the sum at which she was valued.

The child was then placed beside Mr. Beecher, who, taking off her cloak, said, " I wish I could as easily remove the garment of slavery as I do this cloak;" and then passing his arms round her neck, he pleaded simply but earnestly her case. She is nine years old, and with but one part out of sixteen of African blood, and it is believed she will be so beautiful as to be worth in four years hence (had she remained a slave), 800. The value set on her now is 180. Her grandmother, a free woman, had saved 40, which she gladly offered to contribute towards her release.

I never could do half justice to the manner in which Mr. Beecher pleaded her case—nobly and ably. He said he could not even mention what he wished to save her from, and that the little girl had twice seen her mother put up at the block. . . . There was no need for enreaties; he merely said, "You will please pass the plates;" and announced that the collection would be taken up again in the evening. By this time the congregation were all deeply moved, and the scene that followed baffles description. The excitement was unparalleled, and I thought it never would terminate. However, as everything must, it did, and then a gentleman whispered something to Mr. Beecher, who said, "I have just received a message from a Christian lady to say that she will be responsible for any deficiency there may be in the collection. The child is free!" It is far beyond my power to convey the faintest idea of the joy this announcement caused. The demonstrations were unequivocal. The people were literally beside themselves.....The morning collection

amounted to upwards of 200, so it was not continued in the evening. Mr. Beecher mentioned that on one of the plates was found a lady's ring with an opal set in it, and that he had taken the liberty of withdrawing it, and had it placed on the child's finger, that when she was old enough she might wear it as a badge of her freedom.—Extract of a letter from New York.


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