No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

>Six Years in a Georgia Prison. Narrative of Lewis W. Paine, who suffered imprisonment six years in Georgia, for the crime of aiding the escape of a fellow-man from that state, after he had fled from slavery. (New York, 1851).

Here’s the story of a Rhode Islander born in 1819 (in Smithfield) who, in 1841, followed a factory job to Georgia–“that place which was to furnish a living grave for six years of my life.”

Lewis Paine lost his father when he was fourteen and his mother a year later. After finishing school he moved from town to town in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, working in Cumberland, Lowell, Taunton, Pawtucket, Bristol, and Fall River, mostly in the “mule room” of the textile mills. He agreed to go to Georgia to start up and run a factory there, after which he began teaching school. He encountered Samson, a Virginia-born slave who was sold to Georgia traders at 16, and who won Paine’s specific empathy. Three-fourths of this book is the description of Paine’s attempt to help Samson escape and the former man’s subsequent sojourn in prison. The final chapters are little essays on aspects of slave life.

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