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A FUGITIVE SLAVE.--A fugitive slave from Virginia, was in this town, on the 1st, on his way to the land of freedom. He went from Virginia to Boston, where the U. S. officers were put upon his track, and came here via Worcester. At Worcester the officers lost track of him and were supposed to be watching for him on the railroads north of here, as he was trying to make his way to Canada East, where he had friends who had before left the home of the slave for the land of freedom. He was sent to Canada West via Syracuse and is probably safe now from his pursuers. He was an intelligent young man about 19 years old and worth from $1200 to $1500, according to the value of the article. He said he was treated kindly by his master, but his master had lost so many slaves by running away lately that he was making preparations to sell him and others south and he thought it best to travel towards the north star.

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The escape of slaves from their bondage became a source of pleasure to antislavery northerners in the years after the 1830s. Although many northerners did not particularly like slaves, nor did they want African-Americans to remain in their communities, their distaste for the slave system of the south led them to celebrate successful escapes. Of course others were not racist but they tended to be in the minority. When slaves escaped they used the North Star (Polaris) as their guide since their closest safe destination was Canada. (Another group did seek to escape to Mexico which also had abolished slavery entirely.) It is difficult to quantify how many slaves successfully escaped but it certainly was in the tens of thousands in the decade before the Civil War. (During the war many thousands more would escape with the proximity of U.S. troops.) Some escaped slaves used the Underground Railway, a loosely linked network of safe homes and sympathetic persons throughout the north. Although the effectiveness and capacity of the "railroad" has been wildly overestimated and romanticized, nonetheless maybe ten thousand slaves were helped to freedom. For example, in Philadelphia William Still, the African-American chairman of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, kept records on the approximately 5,000 slaves who passed through that city from 1852 to 1857. In Massachusetts many households opened their doors to escaped slaves in increasing numbers through the 1850s. One area particularly sympathetic to escaping slaves was Franklin County where a number of underground railway sites have been documented.


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"Fugitive Slave"

publisher   Greenfield Gazette and Courier
date   Apr 13, 1860
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   3.0"
width   2.5"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L02.110

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