Abolitionists rescue slave from courtroom


Slave reward
poster, 1850
Date: 
Sat, 1851-02-15

*On this date 1851, Black abolitionists broke into a Boston courthouse and rescued Shadrach Minkins, a fugitive slave. Born in Norfolk in 1800, Minkins was affected by the Nat Turner rebellion and the death of his owners Thomas and Ann Glenn.

Minkins escaped north to Boston Massachusetts in 1850. A year later working as a waiter serving breakfast at a coffeehouse in Boston history caught up with him. Arrested, he was the first runaway to be detained in New England under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. Minkins became a catalyst of one of the most dramatic episodes of rebellion and legal wrangling before the Civil War.

After his daring courthouse rescue he escaped to Canada and with other African American expatriates in Montreal created the city's first Black community. Minkins died in 1875, without a country but a free man.

Reference:
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.
ISBN 0-471-23924-0

The Anti-Slavery Society