A young immigrant boy’s journey to freedom that ends in his ultimate right to call himself a free man. Freedom is being able to act, speak and think whatever you’d like, your actions all decided by yourself and no one else. Freedom can be shown throughout Henner’s life by the voyage that he goes through, the beatings he receives from his master and the ultimate escape he makes towards his goal of freedom. On a voyage to the new world, Henner’s mind is girded with dreams of freedom, penury instead resulting. Storms and rough sea could sweep someone’s overboard or cause barrels, ropes, etc. to fall or entangle a person” (Grubb 1).
As a rinboy, to pay for the voyage, Henner would be bought and put to work for a master. “Ships contract said no one could bebark until their debt was paid” (Grubb 2). Male and female servants were treated badly and beaten by their masters. Articles from US History states “Female servants were often the subject of harassment from their masters” (Grubb 2). Many servants attempted to egress themselves from their gothic and cruel masters. Well under 5% of German servants ran away in the colonial period” (Grubb 2). Henner fought for their individual freedom as well as the nation’s freedom. He was an immigrant no longer (Richter 670). In the words of US History, it claims, “Boston Massacre was only one series of events to revolt Britain” (1). If people want something, they must fight for it, felicity might be waiting. 1 OF 7 Henner’s voyage to the new land and Philadelphia isn’t exactly a 5 star trip over, but it is entirely necessary for him to achieve freedom.
The voyage is undesirable because of the disgusting rations, unhygienic conditions, cramped living quarters and the death of the passengers on the ship. One reason that the voyage is terrible is the fact that passengers in penury couldn’t pay for food, therefore given gross, old and moldy rations. Fiftysix days into the voyage, the ship’s passengers were given thick, wormy water along with stale, moldy bread. The quality of such rations was disgusting, the thought of eating worms and dirty old bread unpleasant to many.
The rations’ poor quality is shown in the line, “The bread in his bag was green with ancient mould” (Richter 627). In David Fictum’s web article, he writes, “The stereotype for the diet of sailors during the Age of Sail included ship’s burgoo, salt pork and rum” (2). The voyage was awful due to how unhygienic everything was on the ship. The decks were covered in vomit, feces and other bodily fluids that soaked into the wooden decking on the ship. “Even on the top step, fumes of the pitch, human filth and the bilge water came up and struck him in the face” (Richter 625).
The ship Henner had sailed on had very undesirable living space as well. Henner, along with virtually every other passenger could not find space on the cramped deck, many having to sleep on canvas beds which hung from the ceiling. Many slept on the floor, it being covered with liquids, feces. That was where the young and elderly slept. The living quarters were extremely undesirable, it’s filth and cramped spaces causing everyone to be in a state of discomfort. From the website, Understanding Your Ancestors, the doors were latched shut, leaving passengers with little light and air (2).
The daunting task of merely staying alive was caused by lack of nourishment, unsanitary conditions and the mistreatment of sick passengers. Poor treatment often led to death of the sick. Henner was not in a state of felicity when he arrived, his mother and father having died on the trip over to their supposed ‘freedom’. “Well the law says the one who lives must pay the liens of the relatives who die” (Richter 622). Not only was the voyage undesirable and unpleasant as well as a possible trauma in Henner’s life, Henner soon after had to go through the process of physically being sold to a stranger to work away his new debts.
Upon Henner’s arrival in Philadelphia, Henner and the other immigrants on the ship egress from it’s deathly clutch, only to be greeted by the newfound grief of indentured servitude. These hardships included the forced lying about the ship’s living conditions, being sold as an indentured servant to local gentry and the separation of families. Once they had arrived in PA, immigrants were forced to lie about the ship’s hovels, which included dauntingly poor living conditions. The soul-seller did not know if it was in the immigrant’s’ best interest to confirm the ship’s living conditions as ideal.
It was in the soul-sellers best interest however to the soul-seller told them it was theirs too. It was unfair and selfish, the immigrants unable to voice their own opinions on the voyage. “You are wise to tell him that your rations and quarters were good” (Richter 629). “Then he will… let you go to shore” (Richter 629). Immigrants who could not afford their voyage were expected to work as servants until the money was made. Upon arrival, Henner is almost immediately sold as an indentured servant to Richard Bayley, who then gave him to Miss Amity, Bayley’s relative.
It is hard for someone to have felicity, when being sold. “I verily believe he is the one” (Richter 636), “Inquire what he does” (Richter 636). Forced separation was quick to take place after they arrived at the port. Christian Zerbe’s family was separated at the very beginning, proving that families were taken apart from the get go. This was ungrateful and licentious. “Not these” (Richter 636), “These are my women” (633). These are the problems Henner is faced with, as well as the others on the ship, indentured servitude being girded around them.
Mittelberger states that the “healthy are naturally preferred… first” (2). German immigration enthusiast, Grubb, explains that “Employers from Philadelphia… Would come on the ship and bargain directly with the immigrants over how many days, months and years they would serve to clear their passage debts” (2). Mittelberger also tells of separation,saying that families are “separated by being sold to different purchasers, especially when they have not paid any part of their passage money” (6). Although Henner did not live in a hovel, he was still treated very poorly as a servant.
Henner wasn’t to doubt his despot or mistress, Miss Amity. Henner was unable to do as he wished, the boy being forced to go along with the whims and orders of his master. Not only was he unable to enjoy himself and his ‘freedom’, he was unable to visit friends without permission, nor state his own opinions on things. It’s completely unfair, everyone requiring some sort of entertainment or enjoyment in their lives. A servant would be beaten for trying to acquire or purchase a book from his master’s son to learn a new language (Costa 4).
Henner was unable to express his views on many things, felicity never coming to him. Not only was Henner unable to express his opinions, he was whipped, reprimanded, or beaten if he did anything wrong. This would be mentally and physically exhausting for Henner, the abuse getting to him little by little. There are examples of some servants committing suicide from complete depression because of mental abuse from their masters (Shannon 1). Henner would be beaten or whipped for anything, Not only was he beaten and such, but he had to deal with an extra punishment for even running away.
It’s absolutely awful, Henner having been through so much already. “A servant boy named Thomas Wood dies, and a subsequent investigation revealed him to have been regularly beaten and whipped by his master. All the abuse and pent up emotions eventually push him over the edge, Henner finally running away “Of the twenty-four cases, 41% of them involved runaway servants” (Galle 10). In the colonial period, under 5% of German servants ran away and after the revolution, less than 2 ran away (Grubb 4). Starting in the 1730’s, landowners placed ads in the for servants that ran away.
Over 3,500 fugitives were placed in the newspaper in a span of two years. (Costa 1). In Costa’s web article, he states, “Physical characteristics, family ties, the remarkable amount of skills that slaves practiced, and even some degree of motivation of runaways are revealed in the ads” (6). In 1773 Johnann Carl Buettner ran away from New Jersey and got to Norfolk, Virginia, however, he was captured and was advertised in the newspapers as a runaway slave (Grubb 4). “If you could get away and not look like a runaway servant, there was always someone willing to employ you” (Grubb 4). In y Conrad Richter, Henner escapes multiple times from different places to freedom and gets caught only once. In the novel Henner escapes or is caught at least three times. He escapes from Miss Amity’s house, he gets caught in the town of Reading and he escapes from Reading in an attempt to make it to the Blue Mountains. Henner is upset about getting whipped for stealing food and is girding to run away to the Blue Mountains so he could be free. The only egress in the house is through the front door, so at night he makes his escape. However, on his way, he gets stopped by Master Deputy at Reading.
Henner ran away because everyone deserves to be free and he wanted a chance to experience that. “Not that he would go back tonight” (Richter 649). Later, Henner is on his way to the Blue Mountains, however, he is captured, the daunting task of escaping the deputy quickly becoming present. Henner is trying to escape from servitude so he left Miss Amity’s house, but he ends up getting caught regardless, the deputy being able to identify him by the wanted ad in the papers. Henner is doing his best to be free, but obstacles just continue to stop him. “A collar and a padlock for this runaway! the deputy ordered” (Richter 562). Henner escapes from Reading with the help of the blacksmith and makes it to the mountains which gives him felicity. Henner was caught by the sheriff, but with the help of the blacksmith, Henner is able to escape to freedom. Once he gets to the Blue Mountains he was employed and was finally free to do as he wished. Henner runs away because he was tired of being treated poorly. “By midnight Henner had crossed the river and the next day as miles away along the creek” (Richter 655). With his escape to the Blue Mountains, Henner gains his own freedom for a while.
Henner creates the group the Blue Mountain Boys when he starts to work, making gunpowder over the mountain after he claims that he is a free and an equal man. Henner travels over the Blue Mountain, proves he’s free and creates the Blue Mountain Boys. Henner travels over the Blue Mountain and proves that he is as free and equal as the villagers there. He has felicity when he escapes over the mountain and is welcomed by the villagers. He claims that he is as free and equal as them. It’s good that he got away because he was supposed to be free from the start, but instead was sold off as a servant and given to Miss Amity.
Even with his arms tied behind him, he flew down the alley towards the river and road to the Blue Mountain” (651). “I’m free and equal” (656)… He finds work making gunpowder in a hovel. Before he started working, he was in a state of penury. Henner is taken in by the villagers and makes gunpowder for them. Henner is far more capable than people assume him to be. It’s good because he is finally making enough money to support himself and pay off his debts. “But what he did most was stand at the grinder and mix the sulphur, charcoal and saltpeter himself” (657)…
Henner creates the Blue Mountain Boys and takes over the position of leader. Other villagers have a deep hatred for the king and agreed to form group to fight against him. Henner is the perfect person to lead them, girding the villagers to not be daunted by the king’s despot rule. “Hurrah for – how do we call our company Henner? ” “The Blue Mountain Boys” Henner said” (659). Henner crossing the mountain and starting a better life is a very good thing, and when he finally bands together a group of men to take down the king, his life gets even better.