Siege in Boston…

“The city was thrown into a frenzy of activity a few days after the Faneuil Hall meeting, when two slave-catchers arrived from Georgia, claiming the Crafts. The black community and the vigilance community promptly marshaled their forces. Ellen was taken to the safety of Dr. Henry Bowditch’s home in Brookline and a week later was transferred to the Reverend Theodore Parker’s. William, meanwhile, armed and barricaded himself in his shop while friends stood watch. “No man could approach within 100 yards of Craft’s shop,” one reporter observed, “without being seen by a hundred eyes, and a signal would call a powerful body at a moment’s warning.” As tension mounted and it appeared the slave catchers were determined to test these defences William was taken to Lewis Hayden’s, where kegs of gunpowder were placed in the basement in anticipation of an attack. According to an observer, black homes on Belknap and Cambridge streets, the main thoroughfares, were fortified and the occupants well armed with guns, swords, and knives: “The colored population are really roused in this matter and are making their houses like barricades.” R.J.M. Blackett, Beating Against the Barriers

Too often, we forget that Black resistance existed long before the Civil Rights movements of the 1960’s. This passage describes the events in Boston circa Oct, 1850, involving Ellen and William Craft, who escaped enslavement in Georgia, only to be followed by politics (Fugitive Slave Act of 1850) and vengeful slavers.

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