Slave Stealer
Henry Wilson

About the year 1840, Captain Jonathan Walker, of Massachusetts, took a contract to build a portion of a projected railroad in Florida. In fulfilling that contract, he employed several negroes. Being a Christian man, he so far carried his religion into his daily life as to treat his workmen as human beings, permitting them to sit at the same table with himself, and to bend the knee around the same family altar. The natural result followed. Kindness begat kindness, and they loved him and trusted in him. Accordingly, in 1844, they persuaded him to enter upon the every-way hazardous venture of aiding them in an attempt, in an open boat, to escape from the land of chains to a neighboring island, belonging to the British crown. After doubling the capes of Florida, he was prostrated by violent sickness. He helpless, and the fugitives ignorant of navigation, they were at the mercy of the wind and waves. Found by the crew of a wrecking-sloop, he was taken into Key West, where he was thrown into prison, and kept in irons until he was despatched to Pensacola. During the passage he was compelled, like a criminal of the vilest sort, to lie on the bottom of the steamer in chains. Arriving in Pensacola, he was cast into a cell in which, two days previously, a man had committed suicide, the floor still saturated with blood. There, chained to the floor, he was allowed neither bed, chair, nor table. He was tried in a United States court, convicted, ande sentenced to be branded on the right hand with the capitals "S. S."; to stand in the pillory one hour; to pay as many fines as there were slaves "stolen"; to suffer as many terms' imprisonment; to pay the costs, and to stand committed until the fines were paid. The execution of these sentences was at once entered upon. A United States marshal branded his hand with the initials of the words "slave-stealer," he was compelled to stand in the pillory, was pelted with rotten eggs by a renegade Northerner, and remanded to prison, where he lay for eleven months, with a heavy chain on his leg, which the jailer would not remove, even for the purpose of changing his clothing. By efforts of friends, in which Loring Moody took a leading part, a sufficient sum was raised to liquidate his fines, and in the summer of 1845 he was set at liberty.


Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America by Henry Wilson
James R. Osgood and Company, Boston, 1874, Volume II, pages 82-83.