Skip to main content

That Honored Hand

May 2024
1min read

In our June, 1976, Postscripts we told of a Captain Jonathan Walker who had the letters SS—for Slave Stealer—branded on the palm of his right hand in 1844 for trying to help some slaves escape to the West Indies from Florida. From Mr. Jonathan Eyler, sports editor of the Muskegon, Michigan, Chronicle , comes this further information:

Captain Walker moved to Muskegon near the end of the Civil War and quietly lived out the remainder of his life operating a small fruit farm in a suburban area called Lake Harbor.

He died on April 30, 1878, at the age of eighty and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery. On August i of the same year thousands gathered for the dedication of a granite shaft [see picture] purchased and shipped to Muskegon by the Greek missionary Photius Fisk, who later became a famous chaplain in the U.S. Navy.

Parker Pillsbury, a noted abolitionist, delivered the address, saying: “Slave Savior” is the interpretation of that branded hand now silently moldering in the dust at our feet.

Time may mow down that granite and trample out even the inscription of the hieroglyphed hand. But the memory of the act it records shall last when the foundations of this earth are moved and then the heavens above them are no more.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate