69. Ann Bigelow's account of Shadrach in Concord (transcribed from Harriet Robinson's "Warrington" Pen-Portraits," 1877).

If not an antislavery town, Concord was a famous antislavery center, and a dépôt of the "underground railroad," which carried so many colored citizens on their way to freedom.  Shadrach had been consigned there after his escape in Boston, and was refreshed at the house of Francis E. Bigelow, the friendly blacksmith.  Mrs. Bigelow's account of this historic affair is as follows:—  

"Shadrach was arrested by his pretended master, with carving-knife in hand, while acting as waiter in a hotel on Court Street, and hurried at once to the Court House to be tried.  On the alarm being given, the Court House was filled with a crowd of black and white men, who moved forward in a body, and, surrounding Shadrach, carried him out, entangled in the mass.  No one except Lewis Hayden knew him from any of the other colored men.  He went out with the rest, and was soon lost in the crowd.  He and Hayden coolly walked off toward East Cambridge, keeping in sight of each other on opposite sides of the street.  Here they stopped at the house of Rev. J.C. Lovejoy, and proceeded thence to Concord in a carriage drawn by a black horse and a white one, and driven by a Mr. Smith.  They arrived at Concord at three o'clock Sunday morning, and drove into Mr. Bigelow's yard.  Mr. Bigelow, hearing the carriage, opened his door, and let in the poor fugitive, though the penalty was a thousand dollars, and six months' imprisonment, for 'aiding and abetting' a slave to escape.  The blinds of the house were at once shut, and the windows darkened, to evade the notice of any passers-by; and breakfast was prepared in the bedchamber (by Mrs. Bigelow), on an air-tight stove, with the bureau for a table.  Mrs. Brooks, an antislavery neighbor, was sent for, and came, accompanied by her husband, Hon. Nathan Brooks.  Mr. Brooks, though an abolitionist, did not go so far as his wife in advocating radical antislavery measures; and he had warned her that he should not countenance any such 'aiding and abetting.'  But when he saw the poor fugitive, so frightened and forlorn, his kind heart made him forget the majesty of the law; and he did his part by furnishing Shadrach with a hat of his own with which to disguise himself,—the hat of a law-abiding citizen!  As soon as Shadrach was refreshed (he was so fatigued with loss of sleep, and anxiety, that he could hardly keep awake while eating), Mr. Bigelow, in a wagon hired for the purpose, drove him to the house of Mr. Drake in Leominster, another station on the 'underground railroad.'  From there he was carried to Fitchburg, and thence by rail to Canada.  Meanwhile Mr. Hayden and Mr. Smith drove leisurely to Sudbury, stopped with friends there, went to church, and, after a good dinner, returned unmolested to Boston.  When the trial came on for the rescuers of Shadrach, there was some difficulty in impaneling a jury.  Mr. Bigelow was drawn once, and rejected; but afterwards, by some quibble of law, he was again chosen, and sat in the case.  The rescuers were all cleared by the disagreement of the jury, Mr. Bigelow being the one who stood out, not because, as has been said, he was biased by his feelings and action in the case, but because he conscientiously believed that the men tried as the rescuers of Shadrach had no more to do with it than all the rest of the crowd in the Court House; and he thought that the witnesses in this case must have perjured themselves."


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