Into the Mouths of Babes: An Anthology of Children's Abolitionist Literature

By Deborah C. De Rosa | Go to book overview

ANNE WALES ABBOT
(BIOGRAPHY AND DEFINITIVE DATES UNKNOWN)

A MASSACHUSETTS SLAVE (1847)

I suppose many of you, little readers, will stare, and think 1 have given a strange title to my story. A Massachusetts slave! You can hardly believe that slavery once existed here, where you see no trace of it, and where you hear so much said in reproach of those States which are still disgraced by it. It cannot be denied, however little it is to their credit, that my great-grandfather, and many other good and well meaning men of his day, were possessors of slaves. Their fathers had set them the example, and they had not thought much about it, at the time when my story begins.

Dinah was but seven years old, I believe, when she was bought by my great-grandfather, a good old farmer in Andover, and brought to the homestead to be taught to be useful. She was kindly received, and well fed and clothed; her mistress was a reasonable and gentle woman, who endeavored to make a good girl of her, in every sense of the word. She had very little success; Dinah was seldom much ashamed when she was told how wicked it was to strike the children, to lie, steal, and neglect her work. She would sometimes do well a little while, but in general was a perfect pest and torment in the family. The older she grew, the more violent and unmanageable she became, working only occasionally, unless by compulsion, and doing mischief as her regular and voluntary business.

“Dinah, I will sell you if you do not behave yourself better,” was the daily threat. Dinah only laughed at that. She knew there was no one in the family who would consent to see her, who had grown up among them, sold to be perhaps cruelly beaten for her bad temper.

-77-

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