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  • Video: William and Ellen Craft

    William and Ellen Craft were slaves from Macon, Georgia who gained celebrity after an adventurous escape from bondage in December 1848. The daughter of an African American woman and her white master, Ellen looked white and was able to dress as a southern slaveholder, while her darker-skinned husband, William, accompanied her by posing as her attentive slave valet. They journeyed by from Macon to Philadelphia , where they earned their freedom. They then moved to Boston, only to be pursued by bounty hunters from the South eager to collect a reward for their capture. The recently passed Fugitive Slave Act made it a crime for residents of free states to aid fugitive slaves like the Crafts and paid lucrative rewards to officers of the law who captured fugitives. The Crafts eluded the bounty-hunters, thanks in large part to assistance from sympathetic abolitionists in Boston, but they were unnerved by the experience and fled abroad to England, where they lived for twenty years. In England, they raised a family and wrote a book together about their experiences: Running A Thousand Miles For Freedom. The latter part of their lives were spent back in Georgia, after Emancipation, where they founded a school near Savannah for the employment and education of newly freed slaves.

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