Henry “Box” Brown (Blight, 2004)

Scholarship
Lois E. Horton, “Kidnapping and Resistance: Antislavery Direct Action in the 1850s,” in Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory, ed. David W. Blight (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 2004), 158-159.
At the end of August, just a few days after the bill passed the US Senate, slave catchers accosted Henry “Box” brown on the streets of Providence, Rhode Island. Brown was a fugitive from Virginia who, a year and a half before, had shipped himself in a crate via overland express to abolitionists and freedom in Pennsylvania. He and a friend, James C. A. Smith, presented “Box” Brown’s story on the antislavery lecture circuit by displaying and performing a narrative panorama. Called The Mirror of Slavery, it depicted Africa, slavery, and Brown’s harrowing escape. After one such performance in Providence, a group of men attacked Brown and beat him, but he managed to get away. The men then waylaid him a second time and tried to force him into a carriage, but they could not overpower him. Brown attributed the bold daylight attack to the new fugitive slave law. Shortly thereafter, on the advice of antislavery friends, Brown and Smith left the country and took their panorama to England.
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