William Craft (American National Biography)

Scholarship
William Seraile, "Craft, William," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/20/20-01470.html.
In 1841 his owner, also named Craft, mortgaged William and his sister Sarah to a Macon bank. Later, when the slaveholder could not make the payments, the bank sold the slaves at an auction. Craft's new owner permitted him to hire himself out as a carpenter, and Craft was allowed to keep earnings over $220 annually. In 1846 William married Ellen, the daughter of a slave named Maria and her owner, James Smith. Two years later William and Ellen planned their escape from slavery...Disguised as a white man traveling with a servant, the couple left Macon with a five-day pass on 21 December 1848. Besides dressing in men's clothing and cutting her hair, Ellen, who was illiterate, kept her right hand in a sling to make certain that she would not be asked for her signature. A large bandage covered one side of her face, making their pretext of traveling to see a specialist in Philadelphia believable, while green tinted glasses hid her eyes…In Baltimore a railroad clerk suspected that she was an abolitionist attempting to help a slave escape, but Ellen's believable portrayal of an arrogant, wealthy slave owner allayed his suspicions. When William and Ellen reached Philadelphia on Christmas Day, their 1,000-mile journey elated abolitionists. "No other escape, with the possible exception of Frederick Douglass' and Josiah Henson's, created such a stir in antebellum America," according to historian R. J. M. Blackett (1986, p. 87).
How to Cite This Page: "William Craft (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/19557.