What better gift than freedom? That’s what William and Ellen Craft gave each other, and celebrated this day in 1848.
Their memoir, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, was exactly what they did. The Crafts were slaves in Macon who devised a daring and dangerous plan of escape. Ellen was the daughter of her white master and an African-American woman. She looked white. She could pass.
Armed with a Christmas permit to visit a sick relative, she dressed as a southern slaveholder in trousers and top hat, her hair cut short. She and her husband William—traveling as her slave valet—took a train from Macon to Savannah. They continued on to Charleston, Wilmington, North Carolina, Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Washington D.C. There, they caught a train to Baltimore, the last stop before reaching the free states.
Despite several close calls, they made it to Philadelphia and freedom on Christmas day, and in William’s words, “poured out our heartfelt gratitude to God.”
The Crafts narrowly escaped capture by bounty hunters in 1850, but they lived out their lives in freedom, beginning on December 26, 1848, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.