The Negro and the Nation: A History of American Slavery and Enfranchisement

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview

THE NEGRO AND THE NATION

CHAPTER I
HOW SLAVERY GREW IN AMERICA

An English traveler, riding along the banks of the Potomac in mid-July, 1798, saw ahead of him on the road an old- fashioned chaise, its driver urging forward his slow horse with the whip, until a sharp cut made the beast swerve, and the chaise toppled over the bank, throwing out the driver and the young lady who was with him. The traveler--it was John Bernard, an actor and a man of culture and accomplishments, spurred forward to the rescue. As he did so he saw another horseman put his horse from a trot to a gallop, and together they reached the scene of action, extricated the woman and revived her from her swoon with water from a brook; then righted the horse and chaise, helped to restore the half-ton of baggage to its place; learned the story of the couple--a New Englander returning home with his Southern bride--and saw them safely started again. Then the two rescuers, after their half-hour of perspiring toil in a broiling sun, addressed themselves courteously to each other; the Virginian dusted the coat of the Englishman, and as Mr. Bernard returned the favor he noticed him well--"a tall, erect, well-made man, evidently advanced in years, but who appeared to have retained all the vigor and elasticity resulting from a life of temperance and exercise. His dress was a blue coat, buttoned to the chin, and buckskin breeches." The two men eyed each other, half recognizing, half perplexed, till with a smile

-1-

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