Ellen and William Craft

William and Ellen Craft were two fugitive slaves who sought refuge in Boston after escaping their master, Robert Collins of Macon, Georgia, in December 1848. Two agents for Collins, Willis H. Hughes (?-1851) and John Knight, arrived in Boston in October 1850 intending to recapture the Crafts under the new Fugitive Slave Law. The Boston Vigilance Committee and local black community took immediate action to defend the fugitives. Each time Hughes and Knight approached the Crafts, the southerners were arrested, once for slander and once for kidnapping. Large crowds of blacks besieged the agentsí hotel and shadowed their movements. This harassment, coupled with thinly veiled threats against their lives delivered by the Reverend Theodore Parker, eventually unnerved Hughes and Knight and persuaded them to return to Georgia empty-handed. The Crafts soon after fled to England. Lib., 6 December 1850, 24 January 1851; R.J.M. Blackett, "Fugitive Slaves in Britain: The Odyssey of William and Ellen Craft," Journal of American Studies, 12:41-44 (April 1978); Donald Martin Jacobs, "A History of the Boston Negro from the Revolution to the Civil War" (Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 1968), 273-74.

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