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Anna Murry, Free Negress
Baltimore, Maryland, 1837

Anna Murry lived as a free black woman in Baltimore, Maryland, where numerous unfree white men toiled under cruel masters, and where her lover, who would take on the identity of Frederick Douglass after his escape, slaved away for a rich white man. Just like white servants, Frederick was permitted to come and go as he pleased so long as he did not fail in his work or runaway. This may seem benign, but was quite insidious, for such a nation as this is every person a spy for the State, which is dedicated to enforcing servitude. Just as Benjamin Franklin found when he escaped the brutal clutches of his brother-master, any negro or white who ran away was faced with an entire nation sworn to his capture, return and punishment.

The base cause of American slavery was the Caucasian man’s ever-present willingness to sell his sons and daughters to masters so that he might drink his rum, and the even deeper need of the non-working merchant white man to continue keeping his hands woman-smooth and clean by buying and selling any human being, foremost among them his own kind. Only the Indian frontier saved American whites a term of perpetual bondage, inherited from father to son. Those dirty white boys ran to the hills and kept going or turned and fought as adopted Indians.

Ten years before the man that would become Liver-Eating Johnson of western legend was sold by his father to pay off drinking debts, necessitating the youth’s selling himself to a sea captain to escape his evil sire, Anna Murry was living the life of a free urbanite, with the social latitude to accept a courting slave and the ability, once he had escaped to New York [with the cooperation of white men], to travel freely across numerous state boundaries [white servants were forbidden this] to meet and marry him in New York.

Less than twenty years before the Civil War, in a nation where thousands of unfree whites toiled as hard as any negro slave—and were free whites of the working class were forced to patrol for runaways at night while the fat masters slept in their mansions—a black woman moved about as freely as any white man of the 21st Century, in a nation supposedly dedicated to race-based servitude.

Stillbirth of a Nation: Caucasian Slavery in Plantation America: Part One

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