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negro could say in his own cause. I was generally introduced as a "chattel,"—
a "thing"—a piece of southern property—the chairman assuring the audi-
ence that it could speak. Fugitive slaves were rare then, and as a fugitive
slave lecturer, I had the advantage of being a "brand new fact"-the first one
out. Up to that time, a colored man was deemed a fool who confessed him-
self a runaway slave, not only because of the danger to which he exposed
himself of being retaken, but because it was a confession of a very low ori-
gin. Some of my colored friends in New Bedford thought very badly of my
wisdom in thus exposing and degrading myself. The only precaution I took
at the beginning, to prevent Master Thomas from knowing where I was and
what I was about, was the withholding of my former name, my master's
name, and the name of the State and county from which I came. During the
first three or four months my speeches were almost exclusively made up of
narrations of my own personal experience as a slave. "Let us have the facts,"
said the people. So also said Friend George Foster, who always wished to pin
me down to a simple narrative. "Give us the facts," said Collins, "we will
take care of the philosophy." Just here arose some embarrassment. It was
impossible for me to repeat the same old story, month after month, and to
keep up my interest in it. It was new to the people, it is true, but it was an
old story to me; and to go through with it night after night, was a task alto-
gether too mechanical for my nature. "Tell your story, Frederick," would
whisper my revered friend, Mr. Garrison, as I stepped upon the platform. I
could not always follow the injunction, for I was now reading and thinking.
New views of the subject were being presented to my mind. It did not
entirely satisfy me to narrate wrongs; I felt like denouncing them. I could
not always curb my moral indignation for the perpetrators of slaveholding
villainy, long enough for a circumstantial statement of the facts which I felt
almost sure everybody must know. Besides, I was growing, and needed
room. "People won't believe you ever were a slave, Frederick, if you keep
on this way," said Friend Foster. "Be yourself," said Collins, "and tell your
story." "Better have a little of the plantation speech than not," it was said to
me; "it is not best that you seem too learned." These excellent friends were
actuated by the best of motives, and were not altogether wrong in their
advice; and still I must speak just the word that seemed to me the word to be
spoken by me.

At last the apprehended trouble came. People doubted if I had ever been
a slave. They said I did not talk like a slave, look like a slave, nor act like a
slave, and that they believed I had never been south of Mason and Dixon's
line. "He don't tell us where he came from—what his master's name was,

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