If you were living as an enslaved person in 19th century America, what would you do if you learned that your family members were sold away from you? Would you seek vengeance on the perpetrators and risk certain capture, even death? Would you devise a plan to reunite with your loved ones? Or, would you flee to freedom and to live a new life as a free man/woman?
Today’s black history moment highlights Henry Box Brown and his actions upon learning what happened to his family.
Henry “Box” Brown – Key Facts/Accomplishments
* Born in 1815 on a plantation near Richmond, VA
* Married with children, was a worker in a tobacco factory in Richmond
* Henry found out that his wife and children were sold to another plantation owner in North Carolina
* In response to the news about the sale of his family members, Henry made a dramatic (and successful!) escape from enslavement by mailing himself in a box from Richmond, VA to Philadelphia, PA.
* Due to his fear of capture and re-enslavement under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, Henry escaped to the United Kingdom (England), where he remarried and began a career as a magician
Legacy of Henry “Box” Brown
* Became a noted speaker for the abolitionist cause in the northeast United States
* Henry received some criticism for not doing enough to free his family members from their enslavement
Visit the below websites, and/or conduct your own research, to learn more about Henry “Box” Brown:
RVA on Wheels – Henry Box Brown (video)
Encyclopedia Virginia – Virginia Humanities (Henry Box Brown)
UNC Chapel Hill’s Documenting the American South: “Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Written By Himself”