Previous Slavery in Canada (1899) Next



Finally the sheriff determined to deliver his prisoner to the American authorities across the river without further delay—a fact which friends of the prisoner within prison walls soon made known to those whom it concerned.

Elaborate preparations were made, and on the appointed day the fettered prisoner was helped into the waggon, preceded by the deputy-sheriff. and surrounded by soldiers and constables, with other constables on foot with fixed bayonets, the citizens looking down on the scene from the roofs of the neighboring houses. Outside the jail the Riot Act was read, and then the spirited team rushed out of the yard. On each side of the road and across it were two hundred black men, most of whom personally had felt the lash of slavery, ready to dispute the return of the prisoner to a captivity worse than death. Holmes seized the horses' heads and stopped them, while another colored man ran a pole into one of the wheels and locked it. The deputy-sheriff, seeing the state of affairs, gave the double order to " fire" and to •' charge". Instantly Holmes fell dead, killed by a bullet from a soldier's musket, and the man who had locked the waggon wheel received a thrust from a constable's bayonet, from which he soon after died. Meanwhile the prisoner, who was an athletic man, whose handcuffs had not been locked or had been weakened, sprang from the waggon into the thickest of the crowd. leaped a rail fence into a corn field and made his escape, some time later reaching Montreal and finally England. A large number of the colored men were imprisoned, but at the breaking out of the Canadian rebellion were released to join a colored military company.'

About 1838 the time and risk attending escape from the slave states were both materially lessened by the union in Philadelphia of numerous friends of the slave into a secret organization which in subsequent years became

•• Publications of Niagara Historical Society", No. 2.

Previous Slavery in Canada (1899) Next