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One Day, Right Now

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One Day, Right Now
by Tim Griffin, copyright 2010

Free man with skin of brown, born and raised near Boston Town
I had a farm, I had a family
Things were going fine ‘til summer 1859
Men from Georgia came and captured me

My neighbors never heard me holler, the hunters paid a judge ten dollars
A man who’d known me all my life
I was still in shock, standing on an auction block
I watched them sell my children and my wife

Ah, going to make a break for freedom now
Ah, get away one day, some way, somehow
Lord, please let one day begin right now

I toil for three long years, sweating through a father’s tears
I break the law each time I write and read
Abolition is on the rise while politicians are compromising
Talking while they’re watching Kansas bleed

Now the guards are mostly gone to war, now’s a chance I won’t ignore
To leave this old plantation far behind
Looks like the time is right, I’m going to make my run tonight
God in heaven, make the hunters blind

Ah, going to make a break for freedom now
Ah, get away one day, some way, somehow
Lord, please let one day begin right now

Once free, I won’t be found anywhere near Boston town
The land I lost has nothing left for me
I know just what I’ll do, I’ll wear a uniform of blue
And join the fight to set my family free

Now it’s midnight and I’m on my way, be long gone by break of day
Nevermore to work another’s land
And once I leave this place, the next time they see my face
I’m going to have a rifle in my hand

Ah, going to make a break for freedom now
Ah, get away one day, some way, somehow
Lord please let one day begin right now

Print Notes Notes

In the years leading up to the American Civil War, a lot of compromises were attempted by both parties in the Congress. Perhaps the most odious of these was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required that:

-Southern slaveowners or their agents could pursue escaped slaves into free Northern states for seizure and return.

-Any Northerner who assisted anyone suspected of being an escaped slave could be fined and imprisoned.

-Northern officers of the law were legally required to assist in the recovery and return of escaped slaves.

-No real documentation of enslavement was required, so free black citizens could be seized and taken South to be enslaved at any time on the word of any Southerner who claimed ownership.

-Blacks accused of being escaped slaves were entitled to a hearing, but were barred from testifying in their own defense.

-A judge presiding over such a hearing would be paid $10 if he found the defendant guilty of being an escaped slave, but only $5 if he found the defendant not guilty.

Northern Abolitionists hit the roof. Reverend Luther Lee summed it up pretty well in 1855:

“I never would obey it. I had assisted thirty slaves to escape to Canada during the last month. If the authorities wanted anything of me, my residence was at 39 Onondaga Street. I would admit that and they could take me and lock me up in the Penitentiary on the hill; but if they did such a foolish thing as that I had friends enough on Onondaga County to level it to the ground before the next morning.”