His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad

By John P. Parker

"Surpasses all past slave narratives. . . . frequently we have to invent our American heroes. With the book of Parker's awesome memoir, we appear to have chanced on the real article." ―Joseph J. Ellis, Civilization

John P. Parker is among the few African americans whose conflict opposed to slavery we will now flip to in his personal phrases. He recounts dramatically how he helped fugitive slaves to pass the Ohio River from Kentucky and pass north to freedom. He risked his life―hiding in coffins, diving off a steamboat with bounty hunters on his trail―and his freedom to struggle for the liberty of his humans.

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The opposite openings have been as a slave within the cotton fields or research a exchange. He instructed me to take the latter direction. nine This topic made up our minds, he apprenticed me to a white plasterer. Little did both people understand what this stream intended to both folks. So ended my effortless days and my touch along with his library, which grieved me significantly. although, I had experience sufficient to understand that the health practitioner was once my good friend, and was once going a protracted, good distance out of his option to serve me. My apprenticeship was once of brief length. whereas i used to be keen, the fellow used to be a drunkard and started abusing me at the first actual day. Being apt and staring at, I quickly may well do tough jobs. atmosphere me to a job which I knew was once past my skill, I did the simplest i may. The plasterer whilst he observed my paintings flew right into a rage, [and] beat me with a lath with a nail in it, till I needed to visit a medical institution for slaves. It was once saved through a white lady who used to be green, and a heartless creature, as she not just overlooked her sufferers, yet could beat them unmercifully a minimum of provocation. I stood through helplessly and watched her beat the helpless. She used to be beating a girl with a rawhide whip whilst I protested. immediately, [she] struck me around the face. with no considered what i used to be doing, I seized the whip and gave the white lady a valid beating, then ran out of the home, figuring out complete good what might ensue to me if i used to be stuck. All day lengthy I concealed within the piles of freight at the New Orleans boat dock, decided i'd take the boat that evening. I have been to New Orleans, knew my means approximately; that was once so far as i may imagine. something I did be aware of: I needed to get out of cellular. Even the nice general practitioner couldn't guard me. with out bidding my variety buddy the general practitioner see you later, I stole on board the hot Orleans steamer, and introduced myself on an event that carried [me] into unusual areas and stranger incidents. ALL evening lengthy i used to be in a nation of apprehension. I knew at New Orleans the steamer will be met by way of officials of the legislation who may have in mind everyone who got here off the boat the subsequent morning. The legislations and society have been prepared to seize any erroneous wretch who concept he may possibly slip in the course of the internet unfold for him. I had devoted an unforgivable crime, and that i was once good conscious of it. I had made up my brain i'd get off the boat properly in any other case visit the river for my ultimate break out from a existence that had already turn into insupportable to me. It was once a drippy and rainy morning while the steamer docked in wide sunlight at New Orleans. I boldly went ahead one of the passengers who have been grouped within the bow able to cross ashore. From this place I picked out the officials whom i used to be to elude. There they stood on the foot of the gangplank able to bounce onto bad deluded me. As I stood considering and not using a plan, I occurred to determine the kitchen offers piled up at the dock. with out anticipating the final passenger to head ashore, I leaped upon the plank, ran down with alacrity and seized a bag of potatoes, and waited with a quaking middle. My boldness obviously deceived the officials as they stood silently by way of, giving me no extra recognition.

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