In his book My Bondage and Slavery
Frederick Douglas refers to the escape of Ellen and Wiliam Craft.
In 1848 they decided to use her light skin to pass as white in order to travel by train and boat to the North, with William posing as her slave. But in order to carry out this plan she had to pass as a man since a single white woman could not have travelled alone with a male slave at this time. Although they encountered several close calls along the way the plan worked. After setting off from Georgia early on the morning of December 21, the couple arrived in Philadelphia on Christmas Day.
In 1850, the US Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Bill, making it a federal crime to aid an escaped slave. A month after the new law came into effect, Ellen and William's former owners sent two slave-catchers to Boston "to retrieve their 'property'", and they fled to England.
Ellen and William spent 17 years in England, and had five children together. They spoke at public meetings and, after having attended an agricultural college in Surrey, the Ockham School, set themselves up in business.
In 1868 they returned to the United States, eventually bought land in Georgia, and opened an industrial school for young African Americans. Ellen died in 1891, and was buried in Georgia under her favourite tree.
Their narrative, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, offers a unique opportunity to study race, gender, and class in the 19th century. It is an exciting example of racial passing, cross-dressing, and middle-class performance in a society where each of these boundaries was thought to be distinct and stable.
Adapted from Wikipedia
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