Kidnappings and Renditions 1824–54

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Map Code: Ax01972

Under the Fugitive Slaves Acts (1793 and 1850), gangs, known as ‘black-birders’ received generous rewards for extraditing suspected fugitive slaves to their ‘owners’ in the South (‘rendition’). The prominent fugitive slaves Ellen and William Craft emigrated to England to avoid slave-catchers, while escaped Virginian slave and store-worker, Anthony Burns, became a cause célèbre for Boston abolitionists, including the writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, after he was returned to slavery in 1854. Solomon Northrup, a New Yorker and free black, was kidnapped in Washington D.C, where slavery was legal, and sold into slavery. The African-American social reformer, Frederic Douglass, escaped to freedom in the North in 1838, after successfully boarding a train from Baltimore to New York City. Other successful ‘escapes to freedom’ included Josiah Henderson, Henry Highland Garnet, James W.C Pennington and Harriet Tubman. Henderson, Garnet and Pennington became ministers and outspoken abolitionists, while Tubman became active in the underground railroad, an escape route for slaves.

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