Unsigned Article
Brooklyn: 23 April 1853

Disastrous Effects of Novel-reading

  The Aurora (Ind.) Standard tells a story of a slave in Boone Co., Ky., who had learned to read, and had succeeded in obtaining a copy of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' which he read by stealth to his fellow slaves. The glowing pictures given of the sympathy and aid received by George and Eliza, in their escape from Kentucky to Canada, so operated on their imaginations, that 25 of them ran off on the evening of the 2d April, and, so far as we have heard have not been recaptured. What adds to the baseness of the act on the part of several of these runaways is, that they were the property of a minister of the gospel of Christ! But perhaps the most aggravated of these cases of crime is that of Wash. Parker, over whom The Independent Banner thus lugubriously discourses:

  "One of the negroes by the name of Wash., belonging to Harvey Parker, was quite a favorite with his master and all who knew him, and had every privilege of a white man. He rode the best horse and saddle there was on the farm, with perfect impunity, and had several acres of land at his disposal for cultivation; and on the Sabbaths was one of the best dressed and sauciest looking fellows at church. But, poor devil! prosperity and good fortune were too much for him, and he ran away to be miserable."

  Altogether the facts in this case go to show, in a most affecting manner, the pernicious tendency of novel reading upon slaves.

  Its effect upon masters in some cases is little better, leading them to the most insane destruction of the value of property, both to themselves and to their heirs and assigns after them. A case related by a correspondent of The National Era, writing from St. Louis under date of March 15, gives an example in point, of the effects produced by reading 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'

  H. D. Bacon, Esq., the eminent banker of this city, and one of the most distinguished citizens of the West, both for his liberality and enterprise, as well as for giving freely of his riches to build churches and endow colleges, had a favorite female slave, who, with her child, were the only slaves he owned, and which for some years he had left entirely uncontrolled. The woman was married to a free man of color, both being pious Christians, and, with her husband, was careless to procure free papers, which is was expected she could get any time, when solicited. After reading "Uncle Tom," Mr. Bacon was convinced of the necessity of immediate action, and spoke to the confiding husband and wife of their perilous condition, in case he should die suddenly; wishing, or rather urging them to procure the required security immediately, that they might be by law, what they only were now by his consent, freeā€”all of which, I am happy to say, has been satisfactorily arranged, agreeably to both parties.

New York Tribune.