Status: Indexed


requisite qualities. Young (21 years), strong, and active, and ambitious to do
my full share, I soon made myself useful, and I think liked by the men who
worked with me, though they were all white. I was retained here as long as
there was anything for me to do, when I went again to the wharves and
obtained work as a laborer on two vessels which belonged to Mr. George
, and which were being repaired and titted up for whaling. My
employer was a man of great industry; a hard driver, but a good paymaster,
and I got on well with him. I was not only fortunate in finding work with Mr.
, but in my work-fellows. I have seldom met three working men
more intelligent than were John Briggs, Abraham Rodman, and Solomon
, who labored with me on the "Java" and "Golconda." They were
sober, thoughtful, and upright, thoroughly imbued with the spirit of liberty,
and I am much indebted to them for many valuable ideas and impressions.
They taught me that all colored men were not light-hearted triflers, incapable
of serious thought or effort. My next place of work was at the brass foundry
owned by Mr. Richmond. My duty here was to blow the bellows, swing the
crane, and empty the flasks in which castings were made; and at times this
was hot and heavy work. The articles produced here were mostly for ship
work, and in the busy season the foundry was in operation night and day. I
have often worked two nights and each working day of the week. My fore-
man, Mr. Cobb, was a good man, and more than once protected me from
abuse that one or more of the hands was disposed to throw upon me. While
in this situation I had little time for mental improvement. Hard work, night
and day, over a furnace hot enough to keep the metal running like water, was
more favorable to action than thought; yet here I often nailed a newspaper to
the post near my bellows, and read while I was performing the up and down
motion of the heavy beam by which the bellows was inflated and discharged.
It was the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties, and I look back to it now
after so many years with some complacency and a little wonder that I could
have been so earnest and persevering in any pursuit other than for my daily
bread. I certainly saw nothing in the conduct of those around to inspire me
with such interest; they were all devoted exclusively to what their hands
found to do. I am glad to be able to say that during my engagement in this
foundry, no complaint was ever made against me, that I did not do my work,
and do it well. The bellows which I worked by main strength was after I left
moved by a steam engine.

I had been living four or five months in New Bedford when there came
a young man to me with a copy of the Liberator, the paper edited by William
Lloyd Garrison
, and published by Isaac Knapp, and asked me to subscribe

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