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10:23 AM / Thursday September 29, 2022

19 Feb 2021

The slave that packed himself in a box and mailed himself to freedom

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February 19, 2021 Category: Diaspora Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Henry Box Brown, slave who mailed himself to freedom.

BLACKHISTORY.COM

Henry “Box” Brown was born in 1815 as a slave in Louisa County, Virginia. Later, he and his family were sold to a plantation in North Carolina. In 1849, he became a free man by putting himself in a box and mailing himself to freedom.

Brown had the idea of shutting himself up in a box and getting himself conveyed as dry goods to a free state. To carry out his plan, he required the help of a fellow church choir member who was a free Black man, as well as a sympathetic white shoemaker, in order to aid with his passage to Philadelphia.

Brown folded himself in a wooden rectangle about 3-by-2 feet wide and 2.5 feet high with three small holes for air. His co-conspirators nailed the box shut and carried the box to the offices of the Adams Express Company. It was a very unfavorable 27-hour trip. “I felt a cold sweat coming over me that seemed to be warning that death was about to terminate my earthly miseries,” he once wrote.

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When Brown finally arrived in Philadelphia, he was ferried to the office of a Quaker merchant and abolitionist. Afterward, he was nicknamed “Box,” and thereafter used the name Henry “Box” Brown. As a free man Brown was an anti-slavery lecturer and after the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was passed, he moved to England, where became an actor and magician.

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