House Divided


House Divided | Blog Divided | Video Channel | Digital Library| Virtual Field Trips| Exhibits

Digital Bookshelf: Letters and Diaries

John Henry Hill to William Still, January 19, 1854

Original Citation
John Henry Hill to William Still, January 19, 1854, reprinted in William Still, The Underground Railroad (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), 198.


John Henry Hill was a fugitive from Petersburg, Virginia who wrote William Still several letters during the 1850s from his new home in Canada. Hill was mostly concerned with trying to arrange additional escapes for friends and family but he also exchanged information about current events with Still, who was head of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee. In this letter from 1854, Hill refers to a number of developments, including a fundraising event for the abolitionist society in Toronto and reports that the former prisoners in the Christiana treason case (1851), including Castner Hanway, were in dire need of financial support.


Printer Friendly View

TORONTO, Jan. 19th 1854.

MY DEAR STILL:-Your letter of the 16th came to hand just in time for my perpose I perceivs by your statement that the money have not been to Petersburg at all done just what was right and I would of sent the money to you at first, but my dear friend I have called upon you for so many times that I have been ashamed of myself to call any more So you may perceive by the above written my obligations to you, you said that you bad written on to Petersburg, you have done Right which I believes is your general way of doing your business. the money are all right I only had to pay a 6d on the Ten dollars. this money was given to by a friend in the city N. York, the friend was from Richmond Virginia (a white man) the amount was fifteen dollars, I forward a letter to you yesterday which letter I forgot to date. my friend I wants to hear from Virginia the worst of all things. you know that we expect some freneds on and we cannot bear any thing from them which makes us uneasy for fear that they have attempt to come away and been detected. I have ears open at all times, listen at all hours expecting to hear from them Please to see friend Brown and know from him if he has heard anything from our friends, if he have not. tell him write and inquiare into the matter why it is that they have not come over, then let me hear from you all.

We are going to have a grand concert &c I mean the Abolisnous Socity. I will attend myself and also my wife if the Lord be willing you will perceive in previous letter that I mension something concerning Mr Forman's wife if there be any chance whatever please to proceed, Mr Foreman sends his love to you Requested you to do all you can to get his wife away from Slavery.

Our best respects to your wife. You promisted me that you would write somthing concerning our arrival in Canada but I suppose you have not had the time as yet, I would be very glad to read your opinion on that matter

I have notice several articles in the freeman one of the Canada weaklys concerning the Christiana prisoners respecting Castnor Hanway and also Mr. Rauffman. if I had one hundred dollars to day I would give them five each, however I hope that I may be able to subscribe something for their Relefe. in Regards to the letters have been written from Canada to the South the letters was not what they thought them to be and if the slaveholders know when they are doing well they had better keep their side for if they comes over this side of the lake I am under the impression they will not go back with somethin that their mother boned them with whether thiar slaves written for them or not. I know some one here that have written his master to come after him, but not because he expect to go with him home but because he wants to retaleate upon his persecutor, but I would be sorry for man that have written for his master expecting to return with him because the people here would kill them. Sir I cannot write enough to express myself so I must close by saying I Remain yours.



Citation for this page

"John Henry Hill to William Still, January 19, 1854," Underground Railroad Digital Classroom, Dickinson College, 2008,

Credits | Contact | Content copyright 2008 by Dickinson College, built by Jeff Mummert