They had to leave home more than 100 times.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

THE EFFECTS OF SLAVERY ON THE FREE COLORED PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH. – Mary Morgan, of No. 59 King-Street, New-York, widow of James Morgan, who died in the spring of 1834, with the small pox, says that she and her husband owned a farm of 250 acres of land in Pasquotank County, about five or six miles from Elizabeth City, North Carolina; that they had hogs, cattle, and horses, and were well to live; that they were both born free, as were both their parents; that as many as six or seven years ago [before they had been provoked to it by northern abolition] a number of the lower class of the whites went about the country to disturb the free colored people; that they frequently came to their dwelling, broke their table, and cups, and saucers, and beat James Morgan a number of times, sometimes with a club, at other times with a cowhide, and at one time so severely that his life was despaired of.

Some of the better class of whites called at the house, and said they thought he was so badly hurt he could not live. For a fortnight after, he was not able to cut a stick of wood. Seven places on his head were shaved to put on plasters, and his back and legs were also much bruised. So frequently were they attacked, that they had to leave their dwelling more than one hundred times, often in showers of rain. At one time, Mary was put on horseback, behind one of the ruffians, who rode off violently for about a mile, took her off, and placed her in a mud puddle up to her waist, in a dark night, and there left her to get as she could. These things happened so frequently that the Friends, commonly called Quakers, (who were really friends to them,) advised them to sell their property and come to the North. Those who caused them to suffer, gave no other reason for their conduct than that they were free negroes, and ought to go to the North, and that there was no law for free negroes in Carolina. Joseph Elliott, Thomas Elliott, and Aaron Elliott, of the society of Friends, were their near neighbors, and were often very kind to them, and did their best to prevent the abuse. Miles White, a merchant of Elizabeth city, knows this statement to be true; other free colored people of that neighborhood suffered pretty much in the same way. They came to New-York, where her husband was taken sick and died; Mary and the children were taken to the Almshouse, where they staid about seven weeks, and were then turned out, penniless, and had it not been for the charity of some humane persons, they might have perished from want.

The farm in Carolina was sold for the small sum of $350, which was soon eaten up by the expense of coming to New-York, and the maintenance of the family while here.

Mary Morgan has to support, by day’s work, five small children. The friends of the oppressed, who have any sympathy to spare, will do well to render her some assistance – at least, by furnishing her with work.  No. 59 King street is her residence.

The First Annual Report of the New York Committee of Vigilance (1837).