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Only the River Runs Free

Dear Marie

You cannot imagine how hard it was to get here, but I am finally in Boston. I am a free man! I have beaten master James and gotten free of his rule. I am no longer a slave to the south as my family has been! It was just as old Jed had told us. People all along the way helped us, even southern women who had slaves themselves. Many who hid us were Quaker families, Christian folk who oppose slavery. I was so surprised when I realized there were some who did not believe that slavery was godly; you remember you said that your old mistress used to tell you that it was in the good book? She wasn't speaking the truth!

Oh, how I wish you were here! It is so beautiful, so wonderful to be free! It is perhaps colder than Savannah was, and there is not as much green, yet it is a wonderful thing to be able to get a job, to work for money as I hadn't been able to before. Mister Sellars has gotten me a job for a travel yard, and I'm laying track for the B&O Railroad. Mister Sellars is the man who said he would sponsor me after a fashion; I am staying in his home until I can find my own home. He is a kind man, elderly like the Master yet kind instead of cruel. It is actually he who is writing this letter since I can't read or write. You are very lucky to know how to read and write and cipher. When you get here, those skills will help you immensely.

Ah, I will rejoice the day that you come to me. Mister Sellars has told me that it is in his power to go down and purchase you when I get the money together! He has even promised to loan me some money, as he knows that I will do everything to get it back to him. He is Heaven sent, I tell you Marie. God has finally answered your prayers!

I think of you every night, wishing you were here to enjoy this fair city with me. There are many black people all through the city, and they are all free. With the exception of a few southern business men who have brought slaves with them, all of the black people I see are free like I am. And as you will be.

Oh Marie, it won't be long now! Mister Sellars has promised that he will go and get you once spring has come around, which will be only a few more weeks! It is now January; he even now tells me that in March he will go to Savannah for you. I asked him if I could come, but he said it wasn't safe. I agree, but I will be counting the days until you return to me. I love you so much!

I hope you reply to this letter. I so want to hear from you, but if it's too dangerous please don't! I love you and miss you dearly. I will try to write again.

I love you dearly, and am waiting to see you again.

Your husband,

Dere Regi,

It is too lat for you to com and resku me. The Masser, He told mama just yesdity that I been to be sold to Misser and Missus Collins down in New Orlenes. Little Regi, he's going to stai here with mama and papa and sold to Misser Roland when he gets old enuf. The Masser, He tol me that I was goin to Misser Collins for breedin. Said they got a fine young buck up at the Collinses just waitin for me

Regi, I cant com see you! I cant ever see Boston, or the railroad, or get a breath of freedom. Een if that Mister Sellars can buy me back, I'll be havin a big belly by a nuther man! I swear, I don want to stay, but the Masser has Jake outside my door and that ol' dog don't like no black people ever since Masser made your papa and unkle beat him with a whip.

I'm cryin, Regi. I wish youd not left. I'm so happy you're happy, but yer mamas been sick for a long time, and the Masser he been talkin about sellin off your papa to a frend from Richmond. Yer papa isnt a strong man no more, and yer mama will die without him! Regi, everythings goin bad here, ever since you left. I'm not blamin you for all this though! Its not your falt, no sir. You kno he had dogs and peoples lookin for you for two weeks? Theys still lookin for you; and I pray they dont catch this letter.

Regi, need your promise that you wont come and get me. Please, you cant! God help me, my hand is shaking writin this, but I dont want you coght. You know what Masser did to yer granpa, He cut off his whol foot! And he will KILL you Regi! I culdnt bear not having you with me. No, you will not come and get me, or your Misser Sellars. I dont even know where Is goin, and the Masser he gets all suspisus alls the time! If Misser Sellars asks about me, and the Masser remembers I'm yer wife, then Misser Sellars might get in trouble too. No, dont get me; forget me. If there are black people like you sai in boston, then pick one of them girls and forget about me. I will see you someday, I promise. Just keep goin to church and be a good man, and I'll see you in Heaven! We'll really be free there, you just wait. It will be glorius.

Never forget that I love you mighty strong Regi, but not strong enuf to watch you die. You WILL NOT come get me. Get lil regi, or mama and papa. Forget me. I'm lost already, and tomorrow will be the beginning of the end. But I am not going to forget what is at the end of the end Regi, and neither will you. Keep prayin to the Lord, and readin yer Bible, and bein good, and I'll see you again. I promise.


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