In 1849, Virginia slave Henry Brown (1815-???) escaped to freedom in such a way that he became an immutable subject of Underground Railroad lore. Brown was both a well-treated and skilled slave; however, he became virulently dissatisfied with slavery when his family was sold. Brown befriended Samuel Smith, a merchant, who observed that Brown’s skill with tobacco could sustain him as a free man. Brown made up his mind to escape, and with assistance from a sympathetic free black, constructed a box with dimensions 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet. Brown secretly contacted the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery office, and enigmatically alluded to the pending arrival of a box that should be immediately opened. Brown then shipped himself, in the box, to the office. He arrived alive, and now, free, having endured a trek of 350 miles with 3 air holes and minimal provisions. His creative escape earned him the name, Henry “Box” Brown. J. Miller McKim and William Still of the Anti-Slavery Office were among those present at Brown’s “resurrection.”
The Journey of Henry “Box” Brown (Google Earth file)
Teacher’s Guide (Microsoft Word Document)
Social Studies Lesson Plans (Microsoft Word Document)
Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans (Microsoft Word Document)
Learn more about Henry “Box” Brown from Brown’s profile on House Divided.