Today in History, September 3, 1838:
A young slave named Frederick Douglass manages, on his third attempt, to escape slavery by hiding aboard a train headed north.
The future abolitionist leader, author, statesman, marshal, and presidential confidant, after a dangerous trip through several states, finds himself in New York City.
“I have often been asked, how I felt when first I found myself on free soil. And my readers may share the same curiosity.
There is scarcely anything in my experience about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer.
A new world had opened upon me.
If life is more than breath, and the ‘quick round of blood,’ I lived more in one day than in a year of my slave life.
It was a time of joyous excitement which words can but tamely describe.
In a letter written to a friend soon after reaching New York, I said: ‘I felt as one might feel upon escape from a den of hungry lions.’
Anguish and grief, like darkness and rain, may be depicted;
but gladness and joy, like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil.”