The Road To Freedom Of Slaves English Literature Essay

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James Plantoon is a first generation American born slave. His mother was captured off the coast of West Africa. She met James father at the plantation in Sumter, South Carolina. They met each other and eventually fell in love. James father was killed a few years ago after being caught trying to escape. He wanted to go north and start a new life with the love of his life. But fate had other plans; little did he know the love of his life was pregnant with James. Had he known this he might not have risked getting killed.

James s mother didn t know until a few weeks after her husband was killed. She was a strong woman; she believed that her late husband lived on through James. This gave her hope and allowed her to survive the harsh and difficult conditions of the hellhole everyone called plantation. She did it all for James.

James on the other hand had only two reasons to live, one was his mother who he takes care of, and the other was his best friend and fianc , Wesley Jenkins. James and Wesley grew up together. Both of Wesley s parents disappeared long before Wesley could remember anything. Some of the slaves say they were sold off or traded to another plantation.

James is usually one of the first people to get up. At the plantation instead of working all day you were assigned to harvest or plant a certain field per day. After that if you weren t needed you can do whatever you want. This usually meant help out the other slaves so they won t get beaten. James worked hard each and every day. He knew that slaves were mistreated but this was the only life he knew. James accepted this; he never saw it as a punishment. He always tended to look at the positive side of life, that s exactly why Wesley fell in love with him.

Today James finished his work early, and went over to help Wesley. He saw her stooped over harvesting the tobacco. James quietly went behind her and put his hands over her eyes. She knew who it was instantly. I wonder who this is said Wesley sarcastically. James replied, I m the person who will always keep you happy no matter what. Wesley said, Even if we rot here for life? If we do we ll make the best of it, I swear replied James.

Wesley turned around and gave him a hug. Then James bent down and started harvesting with her, while the couple worked James mentioned that there was a ball coming up and that they would probably have to serve the guests attending. Wesley knew what this meant, a bunch of white men who can t control their drinking. She remembered what happened last ball. Many of the men were passed out and didn t know where they were. She had to help them back to their carriages. James said that balls and galas are a part of their owner s lifestyles and that they should respect that. He also reminded her that they wouldn t have to harvest the fields that day instead they would prepare for the ball.

YOU NEGROS BETTER HURRY UP NOW!!!! yelled Jeffery Smith, the plantation owner. After your done come on up here and set up for the ball He yelled after. Wesley told James to forget the harvest and just go. Usually James would tell Wesley to finish her work first but he was lenient today because he was really excited about the ball. A ball usually meant meeting other slaves from different plantations. He really wanted to try and find Wesley s parents. He felt that even though Wesley didn t talk about it it was his duty to find and reunite them.

As they entered Jeffery Smith s Mac Mansion he overheard him saying that this ball would be the most elegant one yet and all of the plantation owners from all over South Carolina would be there. James was optimistic that if Wesley s parents were still alive he would find them. He didn t tell Wesley this because he wanted to surprise her. He knew that if she wanted anything in the world it would be to know her parents.

The days went by as Wesley, James and a few other slaves worked on arranging the gala. They were instructed that this will be grandest of galas. Finally the ball was arranged and if executed correctly it would be the grandest ball anyone has ever seen.

The night of the gala dozens of horse driven carriages arrived through the gates of the mansion. With the wealthy plantation owners came some personal slaves. James hoped he would find them or information about them here. He welcomed many guests and interrogated their slaves. All night as the men got drunk James optimistically questioned the slaves. He didn t have any luck. After hours of fruitless searching he gave up. He went to the back near the slave quarters to tend to the horses of the plantation owners, while Wesley stayed inside serving the men.

Hours later the gala was finally over. All the men were leaving with their slaves as James search was failed. He didn t mind, as always he believed he would find them the next time. After all the guests had left James, Wesley and a few other slaves were assigned to clean up the mess. They did it without complaint. After they cleaned up everything they headed back to the slave quarters. James was ordered to stay longer and help place things back to where they belong. This would take all night. He told Wesley to go to sleep and that he would see her in the morning.

Wesley left the mansion and walked quietly over to the slave quarters which were on the other side of the plantation. As she walked over she noticed Mr. Jeff Smith walk over to her. He stumbled over and started talking to Wesley. He said, Wesley yous is one of the prettiest girlies I ve seen by far. It s a damn shame you re a negro or else you would ve made a fine wife. Wesley knew he was drunk. She was afraid that now she d have to drag him back to his mansion. Before she could say anything he pushed her down against the ground and grabbed her by the hair. He dragged her into one of the sheds close by and stripped her naked. Wesley yelled, HELP!!! HELP!! SOMEONE PLEASE!!! HELP!! but no one could hear her. She yelled again, this time louder, PLEASE SOMEONE ANYONE..PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HELP!!....MR. SMITH PLEASE DON T DO THIS!!! yet again, no one came to her rescue. She tried escaping from the shed but, even a drunk Mr. Smith was too strong for her. She started to sob but Mr. Smith didn t stop. And eventually she stopped yelling and just kept crying, hoping this misery would end. Jeffery Smith had repeatedly raped Wesley Jenkins and then murdered her.

He left her body right in the shed and stumbled away. Sometime later James walked past the shed on his way to the slave quarters. He noticed that the door of the shed was open and he saw a figure in the far end of the field. He went in the shed and was astounded he started crying, WESLEY!?!?! WESLEY!?! WHAT HAPPENED!?!?!? WHO DID THIS TO YOU!?!?! but there was no answer. She was dead. James quickly ran after the mysterious figure. He thought that the person killed his beloved. He ran and after a few minutes caught up to the stumbling man. James realized that the figure was an intoxicated Mr. Smith. He knew that he had raped her and killed her. James was furious and wanted revenge. He started hitting him mercilessly his hands were stained with blood. Mr. Smith tried to fight back and in a normal circumstance he would ve beat him, but because James had such a rush for revenge he was stronger. The men fought and fought. Eventually James beat Mr. Smith to his pulp and left him to die there. Sunrise was only a few hours away. James knew he had to escape the plantation before everyone wakes up.

James went to the quarters and woke up Peter, a close friend. James told him about everything that happened from the rape of his fianc and her death to the death of Mr. Smith. Peter was very afraid, he knew that James had to escape from South Carolina and would only be safe in the north. But it was almost impossible to escape and if you were captured the punishment was harsh. It could be anything from losing a foot to forcibly wearing an iron chain around your neck. (Bordewich, Fergus)

James knew that if he stayed at the plantation he would be forced to endure a painful death. Because of this he thought he should risk escaping to the north. Peter then told him, James, you have to go to the north .if you stay here you ll be as good as dead. I overheard a few people talking about this woman who helps people escape to the north. She used to be a slave but she escaped and now she helps others become free. They say she stops a few miles away from the woods near Sumter an hour or so before dawn. Go to her she is your only hope of escaping. If you stay here you will die.

James agreed to this and escaped, he ran through the fields like never before, avoiding all the obstacles in his path. A few minutes later he made it through the plantation and was in the woods. He was told by Peter to run north and he will find Sumter. As dawn was breaking James was getting closer to the Sumter woods. James finally reached Sumter. He collapsed and finally stopped to catch his breath.

Then he finally got up and went through the woods. After much time looking he found another African American running. James asked him if he knew where he was going. The slave responded, I m going to the north I cannot take it here any longer. James said, I need to go to the north too or else I will be killed. Then James told him the story of his escape and the raping and murders of Wesley and Mr. Smith. The man who James met was Thomas Gordon. He is also trying to escape to the north. He didn t kill anyone but this is his 3rd attempt to escape. He knows that if he is caught he will surly die. James then told Thomas about the mysterious woman who helps people escape to the north. Thomas then said he knew her and her name is Harriet Tubman but she is also known as Moses. (PBS)

Thomas said he is going to meet her right now, and told James to follow him. After a few minutes wandering in the woods the two men finally found her. She looked pale and tired but had a welcoming feeling coming from her. As soon as he saw her he felt a sense of relief and assurance that everything was going to be all right. James greeted her and explained his situation. Harriet was heartbroken she couldn t believe her ears. She assured him that everything would be all right and said, I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger. (Maryland Public Television)

James was assured he was in good hands. Harriet told him that the US Congress had recently just passed new legislation. It was called the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. This legislation would allow officials in all states of America even those who were against slavery to help capture runaway slaves and people who helped slaves escape would be punished heavily. She was very disappointed by this and said that now instead of escaping to northern states she will try to get them to Canada. James and Thomas knew the great risks which lay ahead of them, but they didn t have any other choice. (The Underground Railroad)

The trio head off into the woods. Harriet had marked many of the trees so she would be able to recognize the pathways through the woods. They travelled all day without getting caught. The group travelled during the night as well sleeping only a few hours. Sometimes out in the open others in homes which are part of the Underground Railroad network. The first night they slept at a home in Virginia. The white family which owned the home provided a lot of food for all the travelers of the Underground Railroad. (PBS)

The trio stayed there for a few hours they slept in the shed in the back of the home. They ate and slept for a few hours. Then as soon as the sun set they were up and running again. Today they travelled especially fast, word got out about Mr. Smith and a runaway slave. Anyone who stops James would be offered a substantial reward. They had to hurry and stay out of public view even more now. By dawn the group had reached the tip of Maryland. Harriet was forced to leave James because she had found out that her niece had been auctioned off. She had to go back down south to find her. Harriet told James that he must reach Canada on his own.

James thanked her greatly for all her help and guidance. She told him that an Underground Railroad home is not too far from where they were and he would be able to spend time there. James thanked her once again. Thomas decided to go back with Harriet because he felt it was wrong of him to let her go there alone. James head off alone attempting to find refuge in Canada. He travelled alone for some time and reached Delaware. The home Harriet was talking about was a mile or two past the Delaware border. James found a home which matched the description given by Harriet. He entered the home and was welcomed with a meal. James quickly devoured the meal and the man with broad shoulders and a bright smile told him he had arranged a place for James to sleep. James followed the man and swiftly fell asleep.

He woke up a few hours later and thanked the man for his hospitality. James left the home and made his way towards the woods when SHOT!! a shot had been fired, piercing a hole through James chest. The man who fired the shot sat upon a horse smiling said, Now look here Negro, what makes you think you were going to escape? Especially after killing your master? James grunted and slowly stopped breathing. The man who took him into his home became corrupt with greed. He informed the authorities and claimed the reward.

The story of James Plantoon is just one of the hundreds of stories about Slavery. Slave owners raping the women was a common practice during the time. The Underground Railroad helped thousands of slaves escape the harsh conditions on plantations and allowed them to live their lives according to the basic birth rights. Harriet Tubman escaped the roots of slavery and went back at first to free her family members but eventually strangers who endured the same horrors she did. Today slavery is abolished but racism still exists. But our societies are progressing and as each generation advances racism lowers.