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, 𝐆𝐞𝐧. 𝐋𝐞𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐭𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞, 𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐬, 𝐢𝐧 𝐧𝐮𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐬𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐲; 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 𝐦𝐲 𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲, 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐈 𝐝𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐮𝐧 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲, 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝟏𝟖𝟓𝟗; 𝐰𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫, 𝐢𝐧 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝, 𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐍𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐡, 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐡𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐧, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐆𝐞𝐧. 𝐋𝐞𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭; we remained in prison fifteen days, when we were sent back to Arlington; we were 𝐢𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐆𝐞𝐧. 𝐋𝐞𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐰𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲; 𝐰𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞; 𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐮𝐬 𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐮𝐬 𝐚 𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐭; he then ordered us to the barn, where, in his presence, 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐦𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐬 𝐛𝐲 𝐚 𝐌𝐫. 𝐆𝐰𝐢𝐧, 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐫, 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐆𝐞𝐧. 𝐋𝐞𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐩 𝐮𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐮𝐬 𝐟𝐢𝐟𝐭𝐲 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡, 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐲 𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫, 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐲; 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐲 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐫, 𝐰𝐡𝐨, 𝐡𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫, 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐬𝐮𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐮𝐬; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable, was called in, who gave us the number of lashes ordered; 𝐆𝐞𝐧. 𝐋𝐞𝐞, 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞, 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐛𝐲, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐧𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐦𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐚𝐲 𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐣𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐥 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐞𝐝; 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐬𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐧𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐡, 𝐆𝐞𝐧. 𝐋𝐞𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐡 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐞. 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. Lee’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."