• The Grey Squirrel

Wesley Norris Sent Me

The next time someone asks why you want to take down statues of Robert E. Lee, tell them, "Wesley Norris sent me."


The testimony of Wesley Norris appeared in the National Anti-Slavery Standard on April 14, 1866.


"My name is Wesley Norris; I was born a slave on the plantation of George Parke Custis; after the death of Mr. Custis, ๐†๐ž๐ง. ๐‹๐ž๐ž, ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ก๐š๐ ๐›๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐ฆ๐š๐๐ž ๐ž๐ฑ๐ž๐œ๐ฎ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ญ๐ž, ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ž๐ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ซ๐จ๐ฅ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฌ๐ฅ๐š๐ฏ๐ž๐ฌ, ๐ข๐ง ๐ง๐ฎ๐ฆ๐›๐ž๐ซ ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฒ; it was the general impression among the slaves of Mr. Custis that on his death they should be forever free; in fact this statement had been made to them by Mr. C. years before; at his death we were informed by Gen. Lee that by the conditions of the will we must remain slaves for five years; I remained with Gen. Lee for about seventeen months, when ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐Œ๐š๐ซ๐ฒ, ๐š ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ข๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฌ, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ˆ ๐๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ซ๐ฎ๐ง ๐š๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ, ๐ฐ๐ก๐ข๐œ๐ก ๐ฐ๐ž ๐๐ข๐ ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฒ๐ž๐š๐ซ ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ–๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—; ๐ฐ๐ž ๐ก๐š๐ ๐š๐ฅ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐๐ฒ ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐œ๐ก๐ž๐ ๐–๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ, ๐ข๐ง ๐Œ๐š๐ซ๐ฒ๐ฅ๐š๐ง๐, ๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ก, ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ฐ๐ž ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ซ๐ž๐ก๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฐ๐ง ๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐จ ๐ฉ๐ซ๐ข๐ฌ๐จ๐ง, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐†๐ž๐ง. ๐‹๐ž๐ž ๐ง๐จ๐ญ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ข๐ž๐ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐š๐ซ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ; we remained in prison fifteen days, when we were sent back to Arlington; we were ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐๐ข๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ž๐ง ๐›๐ž๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐†๐ž๐ง. ๐‹๐ž๐ž, ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐๐ž๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐จ๐ง ๐ฐ๐ก๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐ž ๐ซ๐š๐ง ๐š๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ; ๐ฐ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐š๐ง๐ค๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ๐ฅ๐ ๐ก๐ข๐ฆ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฏ๐ž๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐ž๐ž; ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐จ๐ฅ๐ ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ญ๐ž๐š๐œ๐ก ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐š ๐ฅ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ๐จ๐ง ๐ฐ๐ž ๐ง๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ ๐ž๐ญ; he then ordered us to the barn, where, in his presence, ๐ฐ๐ž ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐ญ๐ข๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ซ๐ฆ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐›๐ฒ ๐š ๐Œ๐ซ. ๐†๐ฐ๐ข๐ง, ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐ž๐ซ, ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐จ๐ซ๐๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐›๐ฒ ๐†๐ž๐ง. ๐‹๐ž๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐ข๐ฉ ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ฒ ๐ฅ๐š๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ฌ ๐ž๐š๐œ๐ก, ๐ž๐ฑ๐œ๐ž๐ฉ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ, ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ซ๐ž๐œ๐ž๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ ๐›๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ฐ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฒ; ๐ฐ๐ž ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐œ๐œ๐จ๐ซ๐๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐ข๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฌ๐ค๐ข๐ง ๐›๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐ž๐ซ, ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ, ๐ก๐จ๐ฐ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ, ๐ก๐š๐ ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐ก๐ฎ๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐๐ž๐œ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐ž ๐ฐ๐ก๐ข๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฎ๐ฌ; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable, was called in, who gave us the number of lashes ordered; ๐†๐ž๐ง. ๐‹๐ž๐ž, ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐ž๐š๐ง๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž, ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐จ๐ ๐›๐ฒ, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐ž๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ž๐ง๐ฃ๐จ๐ข๐ง๐ž๐ ๐–๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ข๐š๐ฆ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฅ๐š๐ฒ ๐ข๐ญ ๐จ๐ง ๐ฐ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ, ๐š๐ง ๐ข๐ง๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ง๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐ฐ๐ก๐ข๐œ๐ก ๐ก๐ž ๐๐ข๐ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐š๐ข๐ฅ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ก๐ž๐ž๐; ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฌ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐ฌ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ž๐ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ฌ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ฅ๐š๐œ๐ž๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ง๐š๐ค๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐ฅ๐ž๐ฌ๐ก, ๐†๐ž๐ง. ๐‹๐ž๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐จ๐ซ๐๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐ž๐ซ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ๐จ๐ฎ๐ ๐ก๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ๐ก ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐›๐š๐œ๐ค๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐›๐ซ๐ข๐ง๐ž, ๐ฐ๐ก๐ข๐œ๐ก ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐๐จ๐ง๐ž. After this my cousin and myself were sent to Hanover Court-House jail, my sister being sent to Richmond to an agent to be hired; we remained in jail about a week, when we were sent to Nelson county, where we were hired out by Gen. Leeโ€™s agent to work on the Orange and Alexander railroad; we remained thus employed for about seven months, and were then sent to Alabama, and put to work on what is known as the Northeastern railroad; in January, 1863, we were sent to Richmond, from which place I finally made my escape through the rebel lines to freedom; I have nothing further to say; what I have stated is true in every particular, and I can at any time bring at least a dozen witnesses, both white and black, to substantiate my statements: I am at present employed by the Government; and am at work in the National Cemetary on Arlington Heights, where I can be found by those who desire further particulars; my sister referred to is at present employed by the French Minister at Washington, and will confirm my statement."

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