Father had notions about manhood suffrage, public schools, the education and the elevation of the masses, and the gradual emancipation of the slaves, that did not suit the uncompromising views of people in places like Richmond.
I was a tried seaman when, for the first time, I set foot upon the soil of my country, and took up my residence where my people had lived for over two hundred years.
That settled Abraham Lincoln with me. I was thoroughly satisfied that no such man ought to be President; but I could not yet conceive it possible that such a monster would be the choice of a majority of the people for President.
The first American ancestor of our name was a younger son of these old Devonshire people, and came to the Virginia colony in the reign of Charles the First.
This and many others only confirmed me in the opinion, planted when I saw the sale of Martha Ann, and growing steadily thereafter, that slavery was an accursed business, and that the sooner my people were relieved of it, the better.
Virginians were no more angels or philanthropists than people to the north or to the south of them. They were moved by their affections, their interest, and their resentments, just as humanity is moved today.
In all her history, from the formation of the federal government until the hour of secession, no year stands out more prominently than the year 1858 as evidencing the national patriotism of Virginia.
In the year 1857, passing through Washington on our return from the annual visit to Philadelphia, I had the distinguished honor of visiting a President for the first time.
And let me tell you, you boys of America, that there is no higher inspiration to any man to be a good man, a good citizen, and a good son, brother, or father, than the knowledge that you come from honest blood.
However the Southern man may have been master of the negro, there were compensatory processes whereby certain negroes were masters of their masters' children.
In such a condition of affairs, the practical difference between the abolitionist and the sympathizer, to the man who lost his slave and could not recover it, was very nebulous.
It is true, there was no public-school system, and the reason for it was very plain. The wealth of the upper classes enabled them to have private tutors.
Wealthy men, too, like several of those in our neighborhood, had so many slaves that they were compelled to buy other plantations on which to employ them.
Even if my mother had no qualms of conscience concerning ownership of negroes, her sense of duty carried her far beyond the mere supplying of their physical needs, or requiring that they render faithful service.
When I first concluded to print the book, I made an honest effort to construct it in the third person.