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Slave Stampedes as Mobile Insurrections

This online research journal represents the first stage of a joint effort by the National Park Service (NPS) Network to Freedom and the House Divided Project at Dickinson College to address the phenomenon of group escapes from slavery.  Our regional focus is on the Missouri borderlands during the antebellum and wartime period. Contemporaries almost always called these group escapes, “slave stampedes.”  Yet that term rarely appears in modern-day studies of the Underground Railroad or resistance to slavery.  Even the idea of large groups of freedom seekers moving defiantly together toward attempted self-liberation seems almost impossible many teachers and students to accept.  Yet stampedes happened –sometimes quite frequently– and we need to try to understand what these revolutionary episodes meant to Americans in that era.

To begin this journey, we suggest watching this short 2-minute video interview with Dr. Deanda Johnson of the National Park Service Network to Freedom.  She offers a concise history of the term’s origins and explains how the reality of group attempts at liberation can complicate our understanding of the Underground Railroad.  Then you might want to read the attached 2019 essay by Professor Matthew Pinsker from Dickinson College.  His 23-page introductory survey of the topic also helps explains why the Missouri borderlands should rightly be considered at the front lines of the stampedes phenomenon and how both antebellum and wartime slave stampedes helped tip the balance toward the final destruction of slavery.

At this online research journal, we will continue to post examples of the historical material that we are turning up in our digital and archival searches about the phenomenon.  This is truly a team effort, involving faculty and students, with significant input from our outside academic experts. Eventually, our findings will form the basis of an online report with various multi-media maps and tools, and a freely accessible database designed to provide an array of resources for anyone who wants to learn more about this important subject.  For now, however, please consider this site as a kind of open historical laboratory.  We are trying to share our progress as it develops, seeking your input and assistance whenever it might be helpful.


Our Classroom-Friendly Videos

Students interns on our project have been producing a series of short video documentaries, each 2 to 3 minutes in length, describing important slave stampedes from Missouri in ways designed to help support secondary and college-level history classrooms.  Take a look below or visit the House Divided Project YouTube channel.







The 1862 Loutre Island Stampede


Runaways Union lines

Enslaved people seeking refuge behind Union lines (House Divided Project)

In November 1862, Union soldiers guarding a vital bridge crossing at Hermann, Missouri opened their lines to allow “a stampede of slaves” from nearby Loutre Island to pass through. Once behind Union lines, the group of enslaved Missourians believed they had finally realized their hard-won freedom. So did the Union soldiers who greeted them, however curtly. The officer on duty, Capt. Bathasar Mundwiller of the Fourth Missouri Infantry, was short on rations and had “no work for them,” so he ordered the freedom seekers out of his camp, assuring them they could find work throughout Union-controlled Gasconade county, where “no one could interfere with them.” [1]

Comforting as Mundwiller’s words may have been, the status of the thousands of enslaved men, women, and children flocking to Union encampments across the country was anything but settled.  Despite federal legislation that protected these runaways or “contrabands,” as they were called during wartime, and despite the recent announcement of President Abraham Lincoln’s impending Emancipation Proclamation, many Missouri slaveholders refused to relinquish their claims to lucrative human property without a fight. They still asserted that the Union’s various antislavery policies did not change anything for “loyal” slaveholders from states like Missouri which had rejected secession.  On Wednesday, November 19, 1862, three defiant slaveholders thus clattered across the Gasconade bridge and had local authorities arrest four of the freedom seekers from Loutre Island. [2] Yet as they would soon discover, recapturing runaways  was no simple task in Gasconade county, home to a sizable community of German emigrants who were not shy about expressing their anti-slavery views. The events that followed reveal how enslaved Missourians’ pursuit of freedom collided with new legal and political developments to help shift the balance of power in wartime Missouri.



An initial dispatch fired off by a local citizen to Union authorities reported that “a stampede of slaves had taken place from beyond the river.” Subsequently his letter, including its mention of a “stampede,” was reprinted in the St. Louis Missouri Democrat, the New York-based National Anti-Slavery Standard and Douglass’ Monthly. The same letter also served as the basis for a brief report about the same “stampede of slaves” published by the New York Tribune in early December. President Abraham Lincoln may well have perused one of those many press reports. Just weeks later in January 1863, Lincoln privately told two Republican senators that “the negroes were stampeding in Missouri.” Whether or not Lincoln had specifically called to mind the Loutre Island escape, the episode was part of the growing tide of “stampedes” in late 1862 that informed the president’s strategy to push for compensated emancipation in Missouri. [3]



Mundwiller headshot

Capt. Bathasar Mundwiller of Company E, Fourth Missouri Infantry, ordered the freedom seekers from Loutre Island to find work in Gasconade county (Geni)

The enslaved people who made their way behind Union lines in November 1862 had escaped from Loutre Island, a narrow strip of fertile bottomland situated directly across the Missouri river from the town of Hermann. Unfortunately, neither local presses nor Union officers bothered to record any details about the freedom seekers, even such basic markers as how many individuals crossed the Gasconade bridge and filed into Captain Mundwiller’s camp.

What is clear is that these unnamed refugees from slavery fled the farms of three slaveholders, widely-reputed to be Confederate sympathizers. Two escapees were claimed by Isaac Hale Talbot, whose family had lived on Loutre Island for decades. On the eve of the war, Talbot held as many as 26 people in chains, and his loyalties became suspect during the summer of 1862, when he attempted to avoid compulsory service in Missouri’s enrolled militia by fleeing to Canada or Europe. Union authorities caught up with him, however, detaining Talbot in a St. Louis prison cell for the better part of a month. The other slaveholders were Elizabeth Clark, a suspected secessionist who had laid claim to nine enslaved people in 1860, and a man identified only as Martin. [4]

Gasconade map

Gasconade county, Missouri (House Divided Project)

By the fall of 1862, most enslaved people throughout war-ravaged Missouri, and indeed much of the south, had come to recognize that the surest path to freedom, unpredictable as it was, lay behind Union lines. The enslaved men and women living at Loutre Island would have been well aware of the Union outpost located just miles south at Hermann. They might also have had an inkling about the reception that awaited them. After all, the ranks of the Fourth Missouri Infantry, which was posted at Gasconade bridge, were filled with German immigrants, a burgeoning population within the state ever since the late 1840s.  Many Germans had fled their homeland following the failed liberal revolution of 1848.  For this reason, many of the new German immigrants tended to hold more anti-slavery views than most native-born southern whites. Moreover, Gasconade county itself was home to a large number of European-born residents, also more likely to be sympathetic to the freedom seekers. Writing to a St. Louis-based German-language newspaper shortly after the escape, one local resident declared that “Hermann’s free Germans” did not want their county turned into “a slave hunting area.” [5]

pull quote storm jailOn November 19, not long after Captain Mundwiller permitted the freedom seekers to pass through his lines and ordered them to find work, slaveholders Isaac Talbot, Elizabeth Clark, and Martin travelled to Hermann and sought out the town’s justice of the peace, a Dutch immigrant named John B. Miché. He refused to arrest the freedom seekers under state laws, as the slaveholders insisted he do. Backed by several of the town’s prominent German residents, Miché reasoned that because the state had been under martial law since August 1861, “the matter belonged before the Federal authorities.” Back in St. Louis, the German Westliche Post thundered its approval of Miché’s actions, praising his adherence “to the existing laws of war and his duty as a Republican.” Undeterred, around a week later the slaveholders cajoled another justice of the peace, a German-born man named Karl Sandberger, to issue the warrants and arrest four freedom seekers, who on Tuesday, November 25 found themselves behind bars at the Gasconade county jail. The news “passed through town and surroundings like wildfire,” wrote one observer, and Hermann’s German population quickly mobilized in protest. By that afternoon, a large crowd had congregated outside the jail, uttering “threats and curses” at the slaveholders and vowing that the captives “should be freepeople” in the morning, “whether by legal means or by storming… [the] jail.” [6]

1862 map stampede curtis Loutre Island

To view an interactive map of this stampede, check out our StorymapJS version at Knight Lab
Curtis headshot

Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, commander of the Department of the Missouri (House Divided Project)

In the meantime, a concerned German editor and activist named F.A. Nitchy had written to Maj. Gen. Samuel Curtis, then commander of the Union’s Department of the Missouri, which was headquartered in St. Louis at the northwest corner of Fourth Street and Washington Avenue. Explaining the situation, Nitchy asked Curtis to vindicate Justice Miché’s decision. The afternoon mail brought a dispatch from Curtis, who affirmed that Miché “did right in withholding his warrant,” and advised him to “arrest and bring before [a] Provost Marshal these slaveholders, if they occasion any more trouble.” Hearing this, Nitchy and others scrambled to find a U.S. provost marshal. When none could be found, they followed up with General Curtis by telegraph, pleading with the department commander to appoint a local Gasconade county man, C.C. Manwaring, as acting provost marshal for the region. Their choice made sense. Manwaring after all was a leading local voice advocating for some form of emancipation in Missouri. Days earlier, he had been elected to represent Gasconade county in the Missouri State House, where in 1863 he would serve on a committee that recommended a statewide convention to consider eliminating slavery. [7]

As they awaited further word from Curtis, Hermann’s angry citizenry had settled on a plan to “abstain from any violence until nine o’clock at night,” when they apparently meant to storm the jail and rescue the captive freedom seekers. With the hour rapidly approaching and no word yet from department headquarters, tensions rose to a fever pitch, and local residents began to arm themselves with “weapons and crushing tools.” Just around 9 pm, Manwaring’s appointment arrived via telegraph, and the new acting provost marshal immediately released the four freedom seekers. [8]

timeline Loutre Island stampede



By running to Union lines, the enslaved Missourians had not only forced the issue of their own freedom, but also prodded Union officials to take additional action to ensure that recent legislation from Washington was being effectively implemented. After all, their escape came on the heels of three critical new developments in federal policy. First in March 1862, Congress passed the revised Articles of War, prohibiting Union soldiers from returning runaways to their slaveholders. Then in July, Congress approved the Second Confiscation Act, authorizing Union forces to liberate enslaved people of any “disloyal” persons as “captives of war,” declaring them “forever free.” Finally in September, President Lincoln publicly unveiled his Emancipation Proclamation, set to take effect on January 1, 1863, promising to liberate all slaves in areas of rebellion and not under Union control. Acting Provost Manwaring had to consider all of these new developments as he sat down in late November and laid out his justifications for “turning them loose.” First, he argued, the group had come within the lines of the Fourth Missouri and “placed themselves under the protection of Capt. Mundweller.” Manwaring reasoned that because the revised Articles of War made it clear that Union soldiers were to have no part in returning runaways, once the freedom seekers had entered Mundwiller’s lines they could not be forcibly re-enslaved. Manwaring then proceeded to describe the slaveholders, taking pains to demonstrate that each were known to be Confederate sympathizers. This was crucial, as the Second Confiscation Act allowed the armies to liberate runaways from disloyal persons, even if they were resident in a loyal state –like Missouri. [9]

Although Manwaring’s legal justifications held up, concerns lingered about how to safeguard the many other runaway bond people who claimed freedom under the Second Confiscation Act. Having learned a lesson from the events at Hermann, F.A. Nitchy and other Republicans urged Union higher-ups to make it clear that the authority to determine who was a loyal or disloyal slaveholder under the law rested with the Union army, and it alone. They hoped to prevent slaveholders from scouring the countryside until they found a local official willing to aid them, and instead force white southerners to deal directly with the Union army. One month later on December 24, Curtis issued General Orders No. 35, which provided that all provost marshals within the Department of the Missouri must “protect the freedom and persons of all such captives of emancipated slaves, against all persons interfering with or molesting them.” Should any slaveholders like Talbot, Clark, and Martin dare to come behind Union lines and try to re-enslave escapees, the order stipulated, provost marshals were to arrest them on the spot. The orders also instructed provost marshals to issue “certificates of freedom” to all enslaved people who had gained their liberty under the Second Confiscation Act. Soon after, enslaved people throughout Missouri who blazed paths to Union lines were receiving those certificates. In February 1863, two enslaved men, Henry and Henderson Bryant, escaped from Boone county and made their way behind Union lines at Jefferson City, where they obtained certificates of freedom. [10] Through their actions, the enslaved individuals who launched the Loutre Island stampede prompted Union officials in Missouri to expand the protections offered freedom seekers under the Second Confiscation Act, helping to loosen slaveholder’s grip and pave the way for slavery’s destruction in the state.



The most detailed accounts of the Loutre Island stampede are found in the correspondence between Nitchy, Manwaring and General Curtis. These documents are reprinted in the edited compilation Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation. The St. Louis Missouri Democrat reprinted excerpts of Nitchy’s correspondence, with additional commentary, while the German-language Westliche Post, also of St. Louis, ran an eyewitness account penned by a German resident of Hermann. [11]

Despite contemporary news coverage, the episode has been largely overlooked by historians. However, scholars have written about Curtis’s General Orders. No. 35 and the controversy those new guidelines stirred back in Washington. Leslie Schwalm situates the orders within the broader context of Curtis’s appointment as department commander in September 1862. Once in charge, she notes, Curtis began a vigorous push “to ensure the widest possible application” of the Confiscation Acts. General Orders No. 35 marked the culmination of Curtis’s efforts, though President Lincoln, fearful Curtis might be going too far and antagonizing slaveholding Missouri Unionists, urged the department commander to “keep peace” and mollify his orders. [12] Joseph Reidy traces Curtis’s campaign to broadly implement the Confiscation Acts back even further. Starting in February 1862, while commanding Union troops near Helena, Arkansas, Curtis had been issuing certificates of freedom to runaways, though as Reidy observes, with mixed results. In a theatre of war where Union units moved frequently and in unpredictable ways, those certificates could either be worthless, or even backfire should Confederate troops overtake certificate-bearing freedom seekers. [13]




[1] C.C. Manwaring to Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, November 26, 1862, in Ira Berlin, Barbara J. Fields, Thavolia Glymph, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland (eds.), Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985-2013) series 1, vol. 1, book 1, 439-440.

[2] “Slave Catching at Hermann,” St. Louis, MO Democrat, November 29, 1862.

[3] F.A. Nitchy to Curtis, November 19, 1862, in Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, series 1, vol. 1, book 1, 438-439; “Slave Catching at Hermann,” St. Louis, MO Democrat, November 29, 1862; “Reported Capture of a Supply Train,” New York Tribune, December 5, 1862; “Slave-Catching Under Difficulties,” New York National Anti-Slavery Standard, December 13, 1862; “Slave-Catching Under Difficulties,” Douglass’ Monthly, January 1863, 775. On Lincoln’s comments, see this post.

[4] Isaac H. Talbot to Provost Marshal of St. Louis, September 25, 1862, and Talbot to Col. W.L. Lovelace, September 25, 1862, Union Provost Marshals’ File of Papers Relating to Individual Civilians, 1861-1867, RG 109, National Archives, Ancestry; 1860 U.S. Census, Slave Schedules, Loutre Township, Montgomery County, MO, Ancestry; Manwaring to Curtis, November 26, 1862, in Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, series 1, vol. 1, book 1, 439-440.

[5] “Die Freibeit triumpbirt!” St. Louis, MO Westliche Post, December 3, 1862 (translated using GoogleTranslate); Regina Donjon, German & Irish Immigrants in the Midwestern United States,1850-1900 (London: Palsgrave MacMillan, 2018), 187-188; Bathasar Mundwiller, Find-A-Grave, [WEB]; On German immigrants and slavery, see Kristen Layne Anderson, Abolitionizing Missouri: German Immigrants and Racial Ideology in Nineteenth Century America (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2016).

[6] “Slave Catching at Hermann,” St. Louis, MO Democrat, November 29, 1862; “Die Freibeit triumpbirt!” St. Louis, MO Westliche Post, December 3, 1862 (translated using GoogleTranslate); 1870 U.S. Census, Hermann, Gasconade County, MO, Ancestry

[7] “Slave Catching at Hermann,” St. Louis, MO Democrat, November 29, 1862; Nitchy to Curtis, November 19, 1862, in Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, series 1, vol. 1, book 1, 438-439; “Missouri Legislature,” St. Louis MO Republican, December 1, 1862; Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Missouri at the First Session of the Twenty-Second General Assembly (Jefferson City, MO: n.p., 1863) 243-256, [WEB]. For the location of Curtis’s headquarters (the present-day site of the Missouri Athletic Club), see Official Register of Missouri Troops for 1862 (St. Louis: Adjutant General’s Office, 1863), 115 [WEB]. In May 1864, Manwaring was murdered by Confederate guerrillas. See “A Guerrilla Raid,” St. Louis Missouri Democrat, reprinted in Chicago Tribune, May 18, 1864.

[8] “Slave Catching at Hermann,” St. Louis, MO Democrat, November 29, 1862; “Die Freibeit triumpbirt!” St. Louis, MO Westliche Post, December 3, 1862 (translated using GoogleTranslate).

[9] Manwaring to Curtis, November 26, 1862, in Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, series 1, vol. 1, book 1, 439-440; James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States (New York: W.W. Norton, 2013), 210, 226-236.

[10] Nitchy to Curtis, November 19, 1862, and General Orders No. 35, in Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, series 1, vol. 1, book 1, 439-443; The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891), series 1, vol. 34, pt. 4, 191, [WEB].

[11] Nitchy to Curtis, November 19, 1862, Manwaring to Curtis, November 26, 1862, and General Orders No. 35, issued December 24,1862, in Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, series 1, vol. 1, book 1, 439-443; “Slave Catching at Hermann,” St. Louis, MO Democrat, November 29, 1862; “Die Freibeit triumpbirt!” St. Louis, MO Westliche Post, December 3, 1862 (translated using GoogleTranslate).

[12] Leslie A. Schwalm, Emancipation’s Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 55.

[13] Joseph P. Reidy, Illusions of Emancipation: The Pursuit of Freedom and Equality in the Twilight of Slavery (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019), 84.

Darrel Dexter – Bondage in Egypt (2011)

escaping enslaved people

A group of freedom seekers escape during the night. (House Divided Project)

A group of 14 enslaved Missourians escaped from St. Louis in early January 1850, traversing the frigid waters of the Mississippi river to reach free soil in Illinois. On the morning of January 16, however, eight of the escapees––two disabled men, one able-bodied man, three women and two children––were overtaken north of Springfield, Illinois by Constable Strother G. Jones and a posse of white men, eager to claim the hefty $2,400 reward offered for their recapture. What followed was a series of surprising twists and turns. Outside of Springfield, one-legged captive Hempstead Thornton swung his crutch and knocked Jones and two white accomplices unconscious, enabling the other seven freedom seekers to bolt. Five were recaptured, but escaped once again (this time for good) in the predawn hours of January 17. All but Thornton, that is, who gained his freedom not by physically eluding his captors, but rather in court. In a sweeping decision handed down months later, the Illinois Supreme Court not only declared Thornton to be free, but also struck down the state’s 1819 law providing for the recapture of runaway bond people. [1]

Hempstead Thornton’s oft-overlooked legal victory is one of many such court cases explored in Darrel Dexter’s richly detailed study, Bondage in Egypt (2011). Dexter, who teaches high school in southern Illinois, pored over court records, contemporary newspapers, and recollected accounts to reconstruct the struggle over slavery in “Egypt,” the moniker commonly applied to the southern counties of the state. He traces chattel slavery’s origins in the region back to 1720, when Jesuit missionaries imported more than two dozen enslaved Africans into French-controlled Kaskaskia. Slavery remained a legally sanctioned institution in Illinois throughout the 18th century, even after the territory’s incorporation into the nascent United States. [2]

Congress’s adoption of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 seemingly barred slavery from the region, though a critical loophole allowed French citizens to continue to observe “their laws and customs now in force among them.” This provision was quickly construed by slaveholding Illinoisans as a protection for slavery. Slaveholders pushing a loose interpretation found a reliable ally in the Northwest Territory’s first governor, Arthur St. Clair, who insisted that the ordinance “was intended simply to prevent the introduction of other” enslaved people, not outlaw bondage altogether. St. Clair’s logic, argues Dexter, “established the Northwest Ordinance as a governmental plan that did not call for the immediate abolition of slavery in the territory,” and paved the way for a later territorial governor, William Henry Harrison, to pass an 1803 law sanctioning term slavery. Couched in the language of indentured servitude, the statute stipulated that any African-descent person who entered the territory could be bound to service, creating a system that in practice “was little different than chattel slavery in the South,” writes Dexter. The ensuing decades, moreover, saw an influx of white emigrants from Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. The growing numbers of pro-slavery southerners, coupled with Egypt’s geographic location, hemmed in as it was by slaveholding Missouri to the west and slaveholding Kentucky to the south, transformed Egypt into a “quasi slave state,” Dexter claims. Slaveholders’ power over early Illinois politics was so entrenched, he maintains, that soon after attaining statehood, the Illinois legislature passed a law in 1819 calling for the arrest of any black person who was not carrying free papers. [3]

The end of term slavery in Illinois only came following a constitutional ban in 1848. By that time, the fertile border region was intensely divided over slavery. Most white Illinoisans living in Egypt found slavery to be anathema, but were also virulently racist and shuddered at the prospect of freed African Americans migrating to their state. Three years after the Illinois Supreme Court freed the Missouri runaway Thornton and overturned the 1819 law, the legislature passed a new statute barring the entry of free blacks. Through his detailed account of Illinois’s lengthy but often forgotten relationship with slavery, as well as the anti-black sentiments harbored by many white residents in Egypt, Dexter provides crucial context to understanding the social and political climate encountered by enslaved Missourians and Kentuckians as they wound through southern Illinois in their quest for freedom. [4]

boat escape

Enslaved people escaping by boat. (House Divided Project)

Dexter devotes three lengthy chapters to examining the runaway bond people who passed through Egypt, as well as the black and white anti-slavery activists in the region who aided freedom seekers. In doing so, Dexter recounts a number of group escapes, though he does not use the term “stampede” to describe the mass flight of enslaved people. An 1835 case saw seven enslaved people escape from a U.S. army officer stationed in St. Louis, only to be recaptured in Illinois, along with two white men who reportedly assisted them, both of whom were hauled across the Mississippi and severely beaten by an anti-abolitionist mob. [5] Nearly a decade later in 1844, four enslaved people escaped from slaveholder James Bissell in St. Louis, successfully making their way to Chicago. There, the city’s abolitionist newspaper, the Western Citizen, openly mocked Bissell’s relentless attempts to re-enslave his erstwhile human property. The paper addressed a mocking communique to inform Bissell that “John and Lucy have arrived safely here, via the underground railroad.” [6] Sometime around 1849, John and Lucinda Henderson, along with their two children, escaped from St. Louis, spurred by news of an impending family separation. The family of four were helped across the Mississippi by a white woman named Susan Yates, then moved on foot to Alton, Illinois, where black activists helped them reach Chicago. [7] Around the same time, the January 1850 escape of some 14 enslaved people from St. Louis was labeled a “slave stampede” at the time by Springfield papers, though Dexter does not use the term. Instead, he primarily focuses on the case’s broader legal ramifications, highlighting the subsequent ruling of the Illinois Supreme Court. [8]

Randolph 1857 map

Located directly across the river from Ste. Genevieve, Randolph county, Illinois was the site of two violent clashes between freedom seekers and slave catchers in the late 1850s. (House Divided Project)

Bondage in Egypt also examines two largely overlooked group escapes from eastern Missouri during the late 1850s, both of which culminated in violent confrontations. In June 1857, four enslaved people escaped from Iron Mountain in St. Francois county, Missouri, but were overtaken by a posse of white men at Gravel Creek Bridge, located near the riverside town of Chester, Illinois. In a pair of violent clashes, two of the freedom seekers were killed, one severely wounded and recaptured, while one managed to successfully escape. A pro-slavery mob afterwards decapitated the corpse of John Scott, one of the slain escapees. Two white Illinoisans, who had opened fire on the enslaved Missourians, were charged with manslaughter, but later acquitted in 1861. [9]

Little more than two years later in September 1859, five enslaved people escaped from Fredericktown, Missouri, but were pursued by a sizable group of Missourians, who intercepted the freedom seekers at Gravel Creek Bridge (the site of the 1857 conflict). In the ensuing fight, one enslaved man was killed, while the other four escaped, though at least two were wounded in the fray. However, local authorities in Illinois arrested a white Missourian for murder, prompting a mob of upwards of 50 angry southerners to cross the Mississippi in protest. The stand-off did not escalate into outright violence, though pro-slavery Missourian responded by charging two Fredericktown residents with slave stealing under a Missouri statute. [10]

Dexter’s book is an invaluable repository of information regarding slavery in Illinois itself, but it is the volume’s robust trove of insights on Missouri freedom seekers that are of especial interest to this project. Bondage in Egypt harnesses newspaper accounts and court records to shine a light on little-known group escapes from eastern Missouri, revealing critical new details about the mass flights from bondage which contemporaries so often styled “slave stampedes.”


[1] Darrel Dexter, Bondage in Egypt: Slavery in Southern Illinois (Cape Girardeau, MO: Center for Regional History, Southeast Missouri State University, 2011) 271-274.

[2] Dexter, 14-17, 24-25.

[3] Dexter, 14-17, 48-50, 69-71, 248.

[4] Dexter, 10-11,17.

[5] Dexter, 259-260.

[6] Dexter, 318.

[7] Dexter, 330. According to Dexter, the same Susan Yates may have also been convicted of “enticing” another bond person away in 1844.

[8] Dexter, 273-274. On contemporary newspapers’ use of the word stampede when describing the January 1850 escape, as well as the episode’s intriguing connections to future president Abraham Lincoln, see this post.

[9] Dexter, 313-315.

[10] Dexter, 285. Also see “A Batch of Runaway Negroes––Excitement in Randolph County, Ill.,” St. Louis, MO Republican, October 8, 1859. The report in the St. Louis Republican describes the group of five freedom seekers as part of a larger “batch” of “ten or fifteen slaves” who had escaped from the vicinity of Fredericktown, and had “stirred up considerable feeling in that part of this State.” The account also noted that the five escapees Dexter refers to had “joined some of those who had previously escaped” from Fredericktown, and were “furnished with fire-arms.”

The 1863 Hannibal Stampede


Enslaved people escaping

Freedom seekers set out for Union lines. (House Divided Project)

On Monday, March 23, 1863, Wash Minter and around 20 to 25 other freedom seekers who fled slavery in a “stampede” from Hannibal, Missouri, were plodding their way towards Quincy, Illinois. Having successfully crossed the Mississippi River and already traversed several miles through southern Illinois, on the rain-soaked, “almost impassable” road to Quincy, the large group of runaways ran head first into a delegation of fiercely anti-black Democrats from the neighboring town of Fall Creek, Illinois. As it happened, this contingent of white “farmers and workingmen” were bound for a countywide Democratic meeting in Quincy, where later that evening they would pronounce themselves in favor of preserving the Union, but emphatically “opposed to a war for the freedom of the negro.” [1]

Crossing paths with a group of enslaved people capitalizing on the chaos of war to seize their own freedom, these northern Democrats reacted violently. One of the runaways, Wash Minter, later recounted how the “gang of ruffians,” as he called the Democrats, disarmed and robbed the exhausted freedom seekers, many of whom were women and children. [2] Coming just months after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, this tense encounter between freedom seekers and anti-black Democrats along the muddy road to Quincy laid bare how enslaved people’s own determined footsteps towards freedom were upending slavery, much to the discomfort of some white northerners.


Multiple newspapers throughout the country used the term “slave stampede” to describe the mass escape of enslaved people from Hannibal in late March 1863. Quoting from a report in the Hannibal North Missouri Courier, the Chicago Tribune ran the headline “Slave Stampede,” while the Saint Joseph, Missouri Weekly Herald used the title “Slave Stampede from Hannibal.” The same report was reprinted by newspapers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Atchison, Kansas in April 1863. [3]


Wash Minter and the 20 to 25 other enslaved people who took flight from Hannibal in March 1863 were claimed by four prominent slaveholders from the riverside town in northeastern Missouri. Minter, and possibly his enslaved family members, were held by a 40-year-old well-to-do widow named Sarah Carter. Although his age is unclear, Minter was familiar to many readers in Quincy, having worked for years as a porter at the popular Planter’s House in Hannibal. He was likely hired out (or rented) to work at the hotel, and apparently used the opportunity to earn some of his own wages. Quincy’s Democratic organ, the Herald, later sniped that Minter “can hardly be considered a contraband” (the term commonly applied to enslaved people who crossed into Union lines) “as he has had the use and profit of his own labor for some time past.” [4]

Hannibal riverside view

Hannibal, Missouri, c. 1857. (House Divided Project)

The names of Minter’s fellow escapees are unknown, though five fled from another prominent Hannibal slaveholder, 46-year-old Gilchrist Porter. A native Virginian and former congressman from Missouri, Porter was then serving as a judge for the state circuit court. [5] Two more bond people escaped from miller Brison Stillwell, also aged 46, who was then serving as mayor of Hannibal. [6] Rounding out the group of freedom seekers were some 15 enslaved people who left the home of Robert F. Lakenan, a 43-year-old attorney. [7]

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, white Missourians found themselves deeply divided about the future of their state. While many, such as Robert Lakenan, declared their support for the Confederacy, other slaveholding residents emerged as staunch Unionists. [8] Hannibal’s Judge Gilchrist Porter was among the latter, though along with many other Missouri Unionists, he looked to the U.S. government as the surest source of protection for his enslaved property. In February 1863, on the heels of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Porter fired off a letter to his congressman, but intended for Lincoln’s eyes, in which he complained loudly about “the injury to loyal [slave] owners” brought about by the Union army’s presence and U.S. policies. [9]

Disconcerting as the chaos of war proved for anxious slaveholders like Judge Porter, that very uncertainty offered enslaved Missourians like Wash Minter and his family a glimmer of hope, albeit a very murky one. Enslaved men and women attentively monitored the rapidly changing circumstances war had wrought, eavesdropping on the conversations of their nervous enslavers, and gleaning information via the proverbial grapevine, as free African Americans and other bond people swapped news and stories. In war-torn Missouri, border state slavery, which had long seemed precarious, increasingly unravelled before disgruntled slaveholders’ eyes, as enslaved men and women looked to the Union army as a source of potential liberation. [10]

The path to freedom became somewhat clearer in July 1862, when Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act. The new law freed any enslaved people held by disloyal masters (even if that disloyal slaveholder resided in a Union state, such as Missouri). In practice, it meant that if enslaved people could reach Union lines and persuade northern soldiers that their masters were traitorous Confederates, they could gain their freedom. As historian Diane Mutti Burke observes, most northern soldiers within the Department of the Missouri took enslaved people’s word at face value, and were loath to return escapees, even to slaveholders who professed themselves loyal Unionists. Northern soldiers’ willingness to turn a blind eye to legal niceties reflected both the rank and file’s growing disdain for the institution of slavery, as well as pressing practical needs. Two years into a grueling civil war, freed people––both men and women––were proving themselves vital to the functioning of U.S. armies, finding work as laborers, teamsters, cooks, laundresses and nurses. [11]

Porter headshot

Hannibal slaveholder and Unionist Gilchrist Porter complained to Lincoln about the effects the Emancipation Proclamation was having on the ground in Missouri. (Find A Grave)

Writing in February 1863, slaveholder Gilchrist Porter seethed that Union officers “seem to have deemed it their duty to get possession of as many slaves as possible––& to take special pains to inform them that their being employed in Government service, even so short a time, entitles them to their freedom.” Yet even when northern soldiers scrupulously followed the letter of the law, only freeing people held by disloyal masters, the presence of Union forces still had a destabilizing effect on slavery throughout Missouri. Many enslaved men and women held by loyal masters “are strongly tempted to escape… beyond the limits of the State,” Porter warily observed, “as many of them hereabouts have done.” As he scribbled off his note to Lincoln, Porter reflected anxiously on his own holdings in mobile human property. “Before the rebellion broke out I owned & still own 11 slaves,” he added. Scarcely a month later, five of those enslaved people would strike out for their freedom, realizing Porter’s worst fears. [12]

Given the circumstances, the “slave stampede” that followed in late March 1863 came as little surprise to Porter and the rest of Hannibal’s slaveholding elite. The 20 to 25 enslaved men, women and children who crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois perhaps sought freedom and employment behind Union lines, or as Porter outlined, simply decided to capitalize on the upheaval brought about by the war to effect their escape. Minter, for one, undoubtedly had the promises of the Second Confiscation Act in mind. He made a point of telling the editor of the Quincy Whig that he and his fellow escapees fled from disloyal masters who “had deserted them for situations in [Sterling] Price’s [Confederate] army.” [13]

Once on the Illinois side of the river and en route to Quincy, on Monday, March 23, the group encountered the violent gang of Democrats. Although the freedom seekers were “armed to the teeth with revolvers, &c.,” the group numbered many women and children, and even some of the men, like Wash Minter, were balancing their weapons in one arm and their infant children in the other. The mud-spattered, weary group made an easy target for racially-motivated violence, and as Minter later narrated to the Quincy Whig, the band of 15 armed Democrats seized their weapons and snatched around $40 from the freedom seekers, except for Minter. When one of the Illinoisans pointed a pistol at his head and demanded he turn over his weapons, Minter “told them they were welcome to his weapons,” which he “only carried… to defend his property.” Yet when the white men came for his cash, Minter defiantly replied “that they couldn’t have that without killing him first.” Though the Fall Creek delegates reportedly pried upwards of $40 from the other escapees, Minter retained his money, holding steadfast to his newly-realized freedom. [14]

Quincy’s Democratic paper, the Herald, ran the initial story of the scuffle, putting a positive spin on the Fall Creek Democrats’ disarming of the “n––r revolution.” The editors eagerly portrayed the group of heavily armed African Americans traversing the southern Illinois countryside as symptomatic of the perils that “abolition-‘republican’ party” policies posed to white racial hierarchy. When the Quincy Whig responded with an interview of Wash Minter and the freedom seekers’ side of the story, the Herald thundered back, dismissing Minter’s claims that the escapees fled from disloyal masters. With the exception of Lakenan, the Democratic press noted, Carter, Porter and Stillwell were all loyal Unionists, undercutting the escapees’ claims to obtain their freedom behind Union lines. [15]


The ultimate fate of Wash Minter and his 20 to 25 compatriots is unknown, though it appears their determined “stampede” from Hannibal successfully secured their freedom. No reports of their recapture circulated, and it is unlikely that Union soldiers would have returned the group of runaways, even in light of the Herald‘s assertions that many had fled from loyal Unionist slaveholders. Yet the newly freed people still faced the daunting tasks of finding food, shelter, and employment. Likely in search of employment, the group lingered around Quincy throughout late March, long enough for the Herald to denigrate their “conduct” and claim that the freed men and women “are now the cause of much excitement and ill-feeling.” With no sympathy for their plight, the paper pointedly asserted that the black Missourians had “forsaken good homes and kind treatment, only to receive the ‘cold shoulder’ from their abolition seducers, and become a burden to themselves and the community in which they intended to locate.” [16]


The March 26, 1863 edition of the Hannibal North Missouri Courier reported a stampede of “some thirty or forty American citizens of African descent, owned in and around this city.” However, reports from the two rival Quincy presses provided more detailed descriptions of the escapees, including the Quincy Whig‘s interview with Wash Minter. Those reports suggest that the group numbered around 20 to 25. The most precise account of the freedom seekers actually comes from the Democratic Herald, which identified the affected slaveholders, in the process arriving at a total of 23 enslaved people. [17]

To date, the Hannibal “stampede” for freedom has not been featured in any scholarship.



[1] “Arming the Negroes—‘whither are we Tending?'” and “Democratic Mass Meeting,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, March 24, 1863; “Arming the Negroes–‘Whither Are We Tending?'” Quincy, IL Whig, March 28, 1863; “Slave Stampede,” Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1863.

[2] “Arming the Negroes—‘whither are we Tending?'” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, March 24, 1863; “Arming the Negroes–‘Whither Are We Tending?'” Quincy, IL Whig, March 28, 1863; “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863.

[3] “Slave Stampede,” Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1863; “Slave Stampede from Hannibal,” Saint Joseph, MO Weekly Herald, April 2, 1863; “Slave Stampede from Hannibal,” Lancaster, PA Inquirer, April 6, 1863; “Slave Stampede from Hannibal,” Atchison, KS Freedom’s Champion, April 11, 1863.

[4] “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863; Sarah Carter, “a highly respectable lady,” was the widow of Jesse Carter, who “has been in his grave for years,” noted the Quincy Herald, at least prior to 1860. By the eve of the war, the widowed Carter was living near Hannibal with her son Timoleon. She was identified as the slaveholder of Wash Minter by a column in the Quincy Herald, though the slave schedule in the 1860 U.S. Census lists only three enslaved women held by her, 64, 50 and 40 years in age respectively. See 1850 U.S. Census, Miller Township, Marion County, MO, Family 588, Ancestry; 1860 U.S. Census, Miller Township, Marion County, MO, Family 419, Ancestry; 1870 U.S. Census, Miller Township, Marion County, MO, Family 57, Ancestry; 1860 U.S. Census, Slave Schedules, Ward 4, Hannibal, Marion County, MO, Ancestry.

[5] “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863; History of Marion County, Missouri (St. Louis, E.F. Perkins, 1884), 2:613-614, [WEB]; 1860 U.S. Census, 3rd Ward, Hannibal, Marion County, MO, Family 1258, Ancestry; 1860 U.S. Census, Slave Schedules, Ward 3, Hannibal, Marion County, MO, Ancestry; Find A Grave, [WEB].

[6] “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863; 1860 U.S. Census, 3rd Ward, Hannibal, Marion County, MO, Family 1158, Ancestry; 1860 U.S. Census, Slave Schedules, Ward 3, Hannibal, Marion County, MO, Ancestry; Find A Grave, [WEB].

[7] “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863; 1860 U.S. Census, 3rd Ward, Hannibal, Marion County, MO, Family 1149, Ancestry; 1860 U.S. Census, Slave Schedules, Ward 3, Hannibal, Marion County, MO, Ancestry; Find A Grave, [WEB]; The most detailed description of the group of freedom seekers, which was provided by the Quincy Herald, identified two escapees from Lakenan and 15 from Mayor Stillwell. However, given that Lakenan held exactly 15 bond people, and Stillwell claimed five, according to the 1860 U.S. Census, it is likely the paper confused the number of escapees from each slaveholder.

[8] “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863; also see Diane Mutti Burke, On Slavery’s Border: Missouri’s Small Slaveholding Households, 1815-1865 (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2010), 268-281.

[9] Gilchrist Porter to John B. Henderson, February 11, 1863, Series 1, General Correspondence, Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress, [WEB].

[10] Mutti Burke, On Slavery’s Border, 279-285.

[11] Mutti Burke, On Slavery’s Border, 285-287.

[12] Porter to Henderson, February 11, 1863, Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress, [WEB].

[13] “Arming the Negroes–‘Whither Are We Tending?'” Quincy, IL Whig, March 28, 1863.

[14] “Arming the Negroes—‘whither are we Tending?'” and “Democratic Mass Meeting,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, March 24, 1863; “Arming the Negroes–‘Whither Are We Tending?'” Quincy, IL Whig, March 28, 1863; “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863.

[15] “Arming the Negroes—‘whither are we Tending?'” and “Democratic Mass Meeting,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, March 24, 1863; “Arming the Negroes–‘Whither Are We Tending?'” Quincy, IL Whig, March 28, 1863; “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863.

[16] “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863.

[17] “Slave Stampede,” Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1863; “Arming the Negroes—‘whither are we Tending?'” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, March 24, 1863; “Arming the Negroes–‘Whither Are We Tending?'” Quincy, IL Whig, March 28, 1863; “The Whig’s N–rs,” Quincy, IL Daily Herald, quoted in St. Louis, MO Republican, March 31, 1863.

The 1856 St. Louis Stampede


On Monday night, July 14, 1856, a group of eight to nine enslaved Missourians set out on their quest for freedom. Leaving the farm of slaveholder Robert Wash, a 65-year-old retired judge who resided on the outskirts of St. Louis, this contingent of freedom seekers charted an unknown course to liberty. Yet while the freedom seekers’ exact path is difficult to ascertain, the motivations underlying their “stampede” for freedom are somewhat easier to deduce. The group of escapees comprised a family unit––”a man and wife, three sons, two daughters, and the wife’s sister,” as reported in the St. Louis Republican. The freedom seekers may have been spurred to action by Wash’s declining health in the summer of 1856––he would die just months later, in November. Likely fearing separation at an estate sale, they chose to strike out to gain their freedom and preserve their family. [1]

These freedom seekers, whose names are unknown, may have joined with three other enslaved Missourians, held by prominent St. Louis citizen John O’Fallon. The trio had escaped from O’Fallon “a few nights previous” to July 14, and the city’s leading papers instantly suspected that the two group escapes were connected. “Several other slaves are supposed to be in their company on the underground track,” noted the editors of the Republican. Baffling St. Louis’ coterie of elite slaveholders, the freedom seekers also undoubtedly conjured memories of a pair of similar “stampedes” that had occurred less than two years before, in October and November 1854. Those large group escapes had involved enslaved men and women claimed by Robert Wash’s neighbor, Richard Berry, and his brother, Martin Wash. [2] Coming in their wake, the July 1856 stampede further unsettled slaveholders, while demonstrating the precarious nature of slavery along the Missouri-Illinois border.


At least two initial reports from St. Louis newspapers classified the July 1856 escapes as a “stampede.” Just days after the escapes, the St. Louis Republican and Leader both ran brief reports entitled “Slave Stampede,” while the St. Louis Democrat employed a variant of the term, headlining their column “Exodus of Slaves.” Over the following weeks, at least four other newspapers throughout the country picked up the story, each utilizing the term “stampede.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune and New York-based National Anti-Slavery Standard ran the headline “Slave Stampede at St. Louis,” while the Burlington, Iowa Hawk-Eye and New Lisbon, Ohio Anti-Slavery Bugle reprinted reports from the St. Louis Leader under the title “Slave Stampede.” [3]


O'Fallon photo

Colonel John O’Fallon, a prominent St. Louis resident and slaveholder. (Find A Grave)

The 11-12 freedom seekers who escaped from St. Louis in July 1856 were claimed by two influential and well-to-do residents of the city. Colonel John O’Fallon, a 64-year-old veteran of the War of 1812, was also the nephew of acclaimed explorer William Clark. O’Fallon had first settled in St. Louis in 1818, where he started a trading business. However, the bulk of his wealth came as a result of his first marriage to Harriett Stokes, whose family owned a large amount of valuable real estate near St. Louis. Over the ensuing decades, O’Fallon established himself as one of the leading citizens of St. Louis, exerting a prominent presence in banking and railroading endeavors, as well as philanthropic pursuits (he was noted for his support of the nascent Washington University). O’Fallon had a residence and office in downtown St. Louis, as well as a property outside town. Yet his immense fortune and reputation was maintained and bolstered through the labor of enslaved men and women. In 1830, O’Fallon laid claim to 33 enslaved people, and by the time of the 1850 Census, he held some 42 enslaved people. [4]

Born in Virginia in 1790, Robert Wash had settled in St. Louis in the wake of the War of 1812––around the same time as O’Fallon. After serving as U.S. District Attorney in the Monroe administration, Wash was appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court in 1825, serving until 1837. Like O’Fallon, he too was a savvy investor, and his real estate speculations won him a “large fortune,” estimated at $100,000 in the 1850 Census. As a result, Wash was able to enjoy a comfortable retirement in his “commodious home” and farm just outside of St. Louis, where in 1850 he held 32 enslaved people, ranging in age from (reportedly) 103 to a one-year-old infant. [5] 

Moreover, both O’Fallon and Wash were unabashedly pro-slavery. O’Fallon headed the city’s Anti-Abolitionist Society, while Judge Wash had earned a reputation during his time on the bench for dissenting in freedom suits. O’Fallon’s identity as a slaveholder had already been brought to the attention of Northern readers some nine years prior to the 1856 stampede, when Missouri freedom seeker William Wells Brown mentioned an enslaved person sold by “Colonel John O’Fallon, who resided in the suburbs” in his widely circulated 1847 Narrative. Brown also noted that O’Fallon’s brother, Benjamin O’Fallon, kept “five or six” dogs “to hunt runaway slaves with.” [6]

Wash engraving

Retired judge and slaveholder Robert Wash lived on the outskirts of St. Louis. (Missouri Historical Society)

While both men had likely read reports in St. Louis papers about the pair of stampedes that had rocked the city less than two years earlier, Robert Wash had numerous personal connections to the November 1854 stampede. His friend and neighbor, Richard Berry, had fumed as five enslaved people claimed by him fled in the stampede, while his older brother, Martin Wash, reported the escape of two enslaved people from his farm. [7] Given that the trio of slaveholders lived in close proximity to one another on the outskirts of St. Louis, it is possible that the family of enslaved Missourians who left Wash’s farm in 1856 were related to part of the group of 17 freedom seekers who escaped in November 1854.

What remains clear is that “a few nights” after the escape of three enslaved people from John O’Fallon’s residence, on Monday night, July 14, the family held by Wash left the retired judge’s farm and set off for “parts unknown.” Considering that Wash had already drafted his will several years prior, and appears to have been in declining health by the summer of 1856, the fear of separation at an estate sale may have prompted the family’s escape. The following day, a reward of $1,500 was posted for the “apprehension of eight negroes,” while multiple St. Louis papers acknowledged rumors that “several other slaves” had joined the “stampede.” Meanwhile, unwilling to recognize the agency of the enslaved to forge their own paths to freedom, the St. Louis Democrat pointed figures at “Underground railroad agents” who “are said to have assisted” the freedom seekers. [8]


After the initial flurry of reports, St. Louis papers made no further mention of the July 1856 stampede. While the ultimate fate of the 11-12 freedom seekers is unclear, no news of their recapture appeared in the columns of Missouri papers. If the family of eight held by Robert Wash had indeed feared an estate sale was imminent, their suspicions were well-founded. Just four months after the stampede, Wash died on the day after his 66th birthday. [9]

In the meantime, John O’Fallon remained one of St. Louis’s most recognized citizens, and still held 38 enslaved people as of the 1860 Census. As the Civil War engulfed Missouri and the entire nation, O’Fallon emerged as an avowed Unionist. He even grew close to Union Brig. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, during the general’s brief stint in St. Louis in 1861. In his memoirs, Sherman recalled O’Fallon as a “wealthy gentlemen who resided above St. Louis.” The pair, remembered Sherman, took daily walks “up and down the pavement” outside the general’s office as they “deplored the sad condition of our country, and the seeming drift toward dissolution and anarchy.” O’Fallon lived to see the end of the war––and the end of slavery in Missouri––before his death in December 1865, at the age of 74. [10]


Initial reports published in the St. Louis Democrat and Republican offer the most detailed information about the July 1856 stampede. However, various papers offered conflicting identities of the affected slaveholders, with the Democrat apparently mistaking Robert Wash for a “Major West,” while the Republican and St. Louis Leader both named “John O’Fallon jr” as the other slaveholder. Given that O’Fallon’s son, John Julius O’Fallon (sometimes referred to as “John O’Fallen, Jr.” during the 1860s) was 16 at the time of the escapes, it is strains credulity to believe he was the slaveholder involved. [11]

The July 1856 stampede has received little attention from scholars, until Richard Blackett’s The Captive’s Quest for Freedom (2018). Blackett briefly discusses the escape in the context of a rising trend of group escapes in the region during the mid-1850s. [12]



[1] “Exodus of Slaves,” St. Louis Democrat, July 16, 1856; “Slave Stampede,” St. Louis Republican, July 16, 1856; Robert Wash, Will and Probate Records, June 21, 1852, Case 3752, Missouri Wills and Probate Records, 1766-1988, Ancestry.

[2] “Exodus of Slaves,” St. Louis Democrat, July 16, 1856; “Slave Stampede,” St. Louis Republican, July 16, 1856; Wash, Will and Probate Records, June 21, 1852, Missouri Wills and Probate Records, Ancestry.

[3] “Exodus of Slaves,” St. Louis Democrat, July 16, 1856; “Slave Stampede,” St. Louis Republican, July 16, 1856; “Slave Stampede at St. Louis,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 23, 1856; “Slave Stampede,” New Lisbon, OH Anti-Slavery Bugle, August 2, 1856; “Slave Stampede,” Burlington, IA Hawk-Eye, August 6, 1856; “Slave Stampede at St. Louis,” New York National Anti-Slavery Standard, August 9, 1856.

[4] Morrison’s St. Louis Directory (St. Louis: Missouri Republican Office, 1852), 191, [WEB]; Kennedy’s Saint Louis City Directory (St. Louis: R.V. Kennedy, 1857), 167, [WEB]; Richard Edwards and M. Hopewell (eds.), Edwards’s Great West and her Commercial Metropolis (St. Louis: Edward’s Monthly, 1860), 79-82 [WEB]; Walter B. Stevens, St. Louis: The Fourth City, 1764-1909 (St. Louis: S.J. Clarke, 1909), 1076, [WEB]; Eric Sandweiss (ed.), St. Louis in the Century of Henry Shaw: A View beyond the Garden Wall (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2003), 119 [WEB]; 1830 U.S. Census, St. Louis Township, St. Louis, MO, Ancestry; 1850 U.S. Census, Slave Schedules, District 82, St. Louis Wards 2 and 4, St. Louis County, MO, Ancestry;  Find A Grave, [WEB].

[5] 1850 U.S. Census, Slave Schedules, District 82, St. Louis County, MO, Ancestry; J. Thomas Scharf, History of Saint Louis City and County (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1883), 2:1471, [WEB]; Find A Grave, [WEB]; Horace W. Fuller (ed.), The Green Bag: A Useless but Entertaining Magazine for Lawyers (Boston: Boston Book Company, 1891) 3:168, [WEB].

[6] William Wells Brown, Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave (Boston: Anti-Slavery Office, 1847), 22, 42, [WEB]; Louis S. Gerteis, Civil War St. Louis (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 2001), 22; Kenneth Clarence Kaufman, Dred Scott’s Advocate: A biography of Roswell M. Field (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1996),144; Harriet C. Frazier, Slavery and Crime in Missouri, 1773-1865 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2001), 55, [WEB]; Harriet C. Frazier, Runaway and Freed Missouri Slaves and Those Who Helped Them, 1763-1865 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004), 55; Edlie L. Wong, Neither Fugitive Nor Free: Atlantic Slavery, Freedom Suits, and the Legal Culture of Travel (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 138-140; Kelly Marie Kennington, In the Shadow of Dred Scott: St. Louis Freedom Suits and the Legal Culture in Antebellum America (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2017), 1-4.

[7] Wash, Will and Probate Records, June 21, 1852, Missouri Wills and Probate Records, Ancestry; “Another Slave Stampede,” St. Louis Missouri Democrat, November 30, 1854; “What is to Be Done Now!,” St. Louis Missouri Republican, December 10, 1854; 1850 U.S. Census, District 82, St. Louis County, MO, Family 1121, Ancestry; 1850 U.S. Census, District 82 St. Louis County, MO, Family 1246, Ancestry; Richard Berry was named the administrator of Robert Wash’s estate in a will made out in 1853, and Martin Wash was a witness.

[8] “Exodus of Slaves,” St. Louis Democrat, July 16, 1856; “Slave Stampede,” St. Louis Republican, July 16, 1856.

[9] Find A Grave, [WEB].

[10] 1860 U.S. Census, Slave Schedules, St. Louis Township, St. Louis County, MO, Ancestry; Find A Grave, [WEB]; William Tecumseh Sherman, Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman (New York: Library of America, 1990), 1:187, [WEB]; One of O’Fallon’s sons, John O’Fallon, Jr., delivered a “powerful and eloquent speech” at a neighboring Jefferson County, MO Union Meeting held in January 1861. See “Jefferson County Union Meeting,” St. Louis Democrat, January 29, 1861.

[11] “Exodus of Slaves,” St. Louis Democrat, July 16, 1856; “Slave Stampede,” St. Louis Republican, July 16, 1856; “Slave Stampede,” St. Louis Leader, quoted in New Lisbon, OH Anti-Slavery Bugle, August 2, 1856.

[12] Richard Blackett, The Captive’s Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and the Politics of Slavery (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 139.

The Pearl Escape 1848


Emily and Mary Edmonson

Mary and Emily Edmonson (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Daniel Drayton—captain of The Pearl—his accomplice Edward Sayres, and 77 freedom seekers fled Washington D.C on Saturday, April 15, 1848, in what Mary Kay Ricks describes as “one of history’s most audacious escapes.” [1] The goal of this escape was to sail from Washington D.C., down the Potomac River to freedom. [2] However, strong winds would disrupt their pursuit of freedom. [3] On April 18, 1848, The Pearl and its participants were captured.[4] After three days of being on the sea, Mary and Emily Edmonson—among 77 freedom seekers— returned home. Their new fate was what many freedom seekers feared most: being separated from their family and sold in the deep South.

Once back in Washington D.C., The Edmonson sisters and the other 75 freedom seekers—4 of whom were their brothers—walked through the mob of proslavery protesters, who anticipated their arrival.

Slave Pen

Slave Pen (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

While in jail, the sisters were separated from their brothers. [5] Knowing the tragic fate of the Edmonson children, a brother in law saw them, “fainted away, fell down, and was carried home insensible.” [6] Mary and Emily Edmonson’s free sister also tried to visit them, but could not enter the jail.  Looking through the iron gates, Mary and Emily “saw their sister standing below in the yard weeping.”[7]



Historian Stanley Harrold references the 1848 Pearl Escape the “third most influential mass escapes”. [8]  At first the escape was not explicitly referenced as a stampede, which could be due to the fact that this term first appeared in a newspaper less than a year prior. However, senators debating the event on nearby Capitol Hill made illusions to the Pearl escape using language that described the event as a mass escape. Shortly after the capture of the freedom seekers and during the riots incited by a proslavery mob, senators were forced to dispute the future of slavery in the District of Columbia. Referencing The Pearl, one pro-slavery senator from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun, denounced “these piratical attempts, these wholesale captures, these robberies of seventy-odd of our slaves at a single grasp.” [9] He even declared that “the crisis has come, and we must meet it, and meet it directly,” foreshadowing the debates over the Compromise of 1850. [10] Four years later, in the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, the term stampede appeared in the same column as the report of the pardoning of The Pearl participants Daniel Drayton and Edward Sayres.  The report read, “that in the border States, there is very frequently a stampede among the negroes – large number going off together.” [11] This can suggest that The Pearl escape was viewed as a stampede years after.


On the evening of April 15, 1848, Daniel Drayton and Edward Sayres successfully left Washington D.C., setting sail down the Potomac River. Onboard The Pearl, Mary and Emily Edmonson were accompanied by their four brothers. After The Pearl’s departure, Captain Sayres decided to anchor in Cornfield Harbor, near Point Lookout, after strong winds did not allow them to “ascend the bay.” [12]

Pearl Escape Map

Back in Washington D.C, slaveholders noticed their enslaved people missing and frantically searched for them. The next day a steamboat—the Salem— departed from Washington D.C.  in pursuit of The Pearl and the freedom seekers. Captained by Samuel Baker, the men on board the Salem were “armed with muskets and other weapons.” [13] Meanwhile, The Pearl was still anchored on the river.

On the morning of Monday, April 17, 1848, at around 2 am, the Salem finally caught The Pearl. [14] As the heavily armed men entered onboard, one of the Edmonson siblings reportedly said, “Do yourselves no harm, gentlemen, for we are all here!” [15] Overpowered, the freedom seekers surrendered without a fight and awaited their new fate.

newspaper clipping of Pearl capture

Boston, MA Daily Atlas, April 22, 1848 (Genealogy Bank)

The next day, a large mob formed at the wharf in Washington D.C., awaiting the arrival of Edward Sayres, Daniel Drayton, and the captured freedom seekers. [16] As they walked off the boat, a report described “several small collections of blacks [with] tears rolling down many cheeks.” In particular, “one gray headed old woman” yelled, “O, my son, … must I see thee no more forever!” [17]

News of the capture caused pandemonium from the streets of Washington D.C. to the senate chambers on Capitol Hill.  On the night of Wednesday, April 19, 1848, a mob of pro-slavery protesters “gathered at the National Era newspaper [an antislavery newspaper] office and threatened to destroy it.” [18] Simultaneously, a “heated debate” in Congress—sparked by the capture of The Pearl— occurred between pro-slavery and antislavery advocates about the future of slavery in Washington D.C. [19]

Shortly after Mary and Emily Edmonson’s escape attempt, their father Paul Edmonson solicited the help of abolitionist William Chaplin.  Eventually, both men helped raise enough money to purchase the Edmonson sisters’ freedom. On Tuesday, November 7, Mary and Emily Edmonson were freed. [20] Their release gained national attention, as the Boston Daily Bee reported that the Edmonson sisters “were restored to liberty and their family. [21]

1848 Timeline

One year later, in March of 1849, Daniel Drayton and Edward Sayres were tried by the court for their participation in The Pearl escape. Both were found guilty and “convicted of transporting slaves on seventy-four separate indictments.” [22] However, after three years in prison for “not being able to pay the fines” for their conviction, President Fillmore pardoned them, granting their release. [23]


Newly freed Emily and Mary Edmonson joined the abolitionist movement. In 1850, they were most famously known for attending a public protest against the Fugitive Slave Act in Cazenovia, New York. [24] Eventually, both sisters seized the opportunity to become educated. They first moved to New York to enroll in Central College during the fall of 1851, and then went on to study at Oberlin College, with the help of abolitionist and writer Harriet Beecher Stowe. [25]

However, while studying at Oberlin College, Mary Edmonson—only twenty years old—died of tuberculosis. [26] After the death of her sister, Emily Edmonson left Oberlin to be with her family. Once settled at home in Washington D.C., Emily wrote to a family friend assuring them she was safe. Still mourning her sister’s death, Emily wrote, “Some days it seems as though I could not live without her… but when I think of how happy she is in heaven, I feel like wiping away all my tears.” [27]

Emily edmonson newspaper feature

Rochester, NY Frederick Douglass’ Paper, January 4, 1855 (Genealogy Bank)

Despite her sister’s passing, Emily Edmonson sustained her involvement in the antislavery movement, working closely with abolitionist Frederick Douglas. In his 1855 newspaper, it reported that Emily Edmonson gave a talk at Corinthian Hall about her experiences as an escapee on The Pearl. This abolitionist paper described her account as “new and thrilling” as people heard it “from the lips of one of the suffers.” [28]

Now older, Emily Edmonson married her husband Larkin Johnson and had four children— Emma, Ida, Fannie, and Robert. [29] Emily and her small knit family finally moved near the Anacostia River where she lived until her death on September 15th, 1895. [30] Today, a memorial statue of Mary and Emily Edmonson stands in Alexandria, Virginia as a constant reminder of their legacy.

Edmonson Statue

Statue of Edmonson Sister in Alexandria, Virginia (Courtesy of Smithsonian)

[1] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 1

[2] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 30

[3] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 62

[4] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 82

[5] Harriet Beecher Stowe, A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (B. Tauchnitz, 1853) 113: 2) [Google Books]

[6]Harriet Beecher Stowe, A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (B. Tauchnitz, 1853) 112: 2) [Google Books]

[7] Harriet Beecher Stowe, A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (B. Tauchnitz, 1853) 113: 2) [Google Books]

[8] Stanley Harrold, Border War: Fighting Over Slavery Before the Civil War (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010) 131

[9] Congressional Globe, 30th Congress, 1st Session, 501, American Memory Project, Library of Congress. 1848

[10] Congressional Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 502. 1848

[11] “Insubordination of Negroes” Boston, MA The Liberator, October 1, 1852

[12] Daniel Drayton, Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton (New York: B. Marsh, 1855) 32

[13] “Capture of Runaway Slaves” Washington D.C. Daily Atlas, April 22, 1848

[14] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 78

[15] Harriet Beecher Stowe, A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (B. Tauchnitz, 1853) 110: 2) [Google Books]

[16] 1848-04-22 Boston, MA Daily Atlas– Captured of Runaway Slaves [GB]

[17] New Lisbon, Ohio Anti-slavery bugle, May 5, 1848

[18] Daniel Drayton, Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton (New York: B. Marsh, 1855) 42

[19] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 5

[20] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 195

[21] Boston, Massachusetts Boston Daily Bee, November 11, 1848

[22] House Executive Document, 34th Congress 1st Session (1855-1856) [WEB]

[23] House Executive Document, 34th Congress 1st Session (1855-1856) [WEB]

[24] “Edmonson Sisters”, women and the American Story, New York Historical Society [WEB]

[25] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 230, 236

[26] Samuel Momodu, “The Edmonson Sisters (1832-1895),” blackpast.org, September 28, 2016, [WEB]

[27] Emily Edmondson to Mr. and Mrs. Cowles, June 3, 1853, Henry Cowles Papers, Box #3, Record Group 30/27, Oberlin College Archives. [WEB]

[28] Rochester, New York Frederick Douglass’ Paper, April 01, 1855

[29] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 209

[30] Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: Passage to Freedom from Washington (New York: Harper Collins, 2009) 349


How to Colorize Images in Photoshop

Images are a powerful way to connect to the past. Illustrations and photographs can put
faces and places to names, or give the minute but extremely significant human detail to
historical narratives that may otherwise be bland or irrelevant to people today.

Cons of Colorizing
Some argue that colorization of photos is historical blasphemy. Without knowing exactly what color a city bus was in 1950 or the precise shade of a person’s skin color, adding color to black and white photographs is “misleading” and ruins the integrity of the image. Proponents of photo colorization argue that colorized photographs are not supposed to replace the original or tell a new historical narrative, but that they are meant to provide an interpretation of the image that can make historical photographs—and their stories—more fresh and accessible for people who would otherwise be uninterested in a distant, black and white past.
Not to mention, colorizing historical photos doesn’t have to be completely without historical integrity. Large colorizing projects like the Smithsonian’s America in Color series involved hours of research to identify the accurate colors for buildings, people, clothing, and other objects that appeared in their historical photographs and film.

How to Colorize Using Adobe Photoshop
Doing anything in Photoshop can seem a daunting task to any beginner to the program, but colorizing can be a simple, albeit long process given a working understanding of a few of the program’s tools and functions.

Before you begin, you must select and prepare your image. It is important to select good quality image with high resolution (referring to the number of pixels in the image) and as little grain (spots in the image) or color/fading as possible. The better the quality of the image, the better the finished product will be.

  • Some steps can be taken to improve the image’s quality using Photoshop: From the menu bar at the top, select Image, then Adjustments. If there is any color in the image, like in the example below, select Black and White to remove any extra color that would interfere with the colorization. Altering the brightness, contrast, and exposure can also fix blurriness or too much brightness in an image.

screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial



Colorize using layers:

Colorizing an image with layers is best for large areas with little variation in color, or as a first step to adding color to your image.

1. First, select the area of the image that you want to color. There are three tools that you can use to make a selection: the regular marquee tool, the lasso tool, and the quick selection tool. The quick selection tool is the optimal choice for creating a layer to colorize; all you need to do is click and drag the mouse in the area you want to color. The quick selection tool will follow the mouse and select all the similar-colored parts of the image. If the area you are colorizing has significant variation in color/shade, the quick selection tool might not select areas that you want, or include areas that you don’t. To erase parts of your selection, press the ALT key on your keyboard, and click and drag the mouse over the area.

screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial


screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial2. Create a new layer. Once your selection has been made, click the tool at the bottom right corner to “create a new fill or adjustment layer.” From the list, select Solid Color, and choose the color that you want to add to your image.

screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial

screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial

3. Edit the layer. Right now, the color you just added is completely covering the image. From the drop down menu indicated below, you can change this to make the color blend in more realistically. There are many options to choose from, but Overlay is usually the best. Other options that can work, depending on the brightness/quality of the image, are Lighten, Darken, and Color. You will need to take some time here to see which looks best, and to perfect your color by double clicking on the square of color next to your new layer, and altering it to your liking.

screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial


screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial

screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial

Colorize using paintbrush: Colorizing with paintbrush is better for small details, or adding detail to an already colored layer.

1. Select the Brush tool. Just like with layers, you can choose how the brush adds color to the image by changing the settings in the menu bar along the top. By clicking on the size icon, you can adjust the size and blurriness of the brush tool. From the Mode menu, you can alter the blending of the color into the image; you will want to select from the same options as before: Overlay, Lighten, Darken, and Color. The last important tool in this menu is the opacity tool: this can increase or decrease the transparency of your color, which is helpful if the color is showing up too strongly in the image.

screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial


screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial2. Choose your color by selecting “set foreground color” at the bottom-right hand corner of your screen.

screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial

4. When you are ready, click and drag to brush color onto your image. This allows you more precision and detail than the layers method, but will take more time if you are coloring a large area.

5. If you make a mistake, use the history tool to remove any alterations you made. This tool works the same as the brush tool; just click and drag over the area you want to correct, and it will be reverted to its original state.

screenshot of Photoshop for colorizing tutorial


How to Layer Images in Photoshop or Microsoft Word

Example collage of photographs of Dickinson College staff

Images add detail and visual interest to any multimedia project, but layering multiple images in a collage can create a story all on its own. Even better, it’s very easy to do on any photo editing software, or even Microsoft Word.

How to Layer in Photoshop

1. Once you open Photoshop, select Create New… to start a new project. A window will appear in which you can name your new project and set the size and resolution of your collage. Set the size to your desire, likely based on the size and number of images you wish to include in the collage, and set the resolution to 720 ppi. When you are ready, click

screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial2. Next, you need to add the images you selected for your collage. To do so, it is easiest to
directly drag and drop the images into the new Photoshop project. Once your images are
downloaded to your computer, open your computer’s File Explorer, minimize the screen,
and click and drag each image into the Photoshop window. Adding the images this way
sets them as Smart Objects, which allows them to be resized and edited later on. You will
also notice that each new photo added creates a new layer in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Make sure that the Background layer is selected before you click
and drag a new image, otherwise Photoshop will not accept it.

screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial


screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial3. Once all your images are added, you will want to edit and move them to create your
collage. To change which images are “on top” (covering others it overlaps with) and
which are “on the bottom” (covered up by other overlapping images) click and drag the
layers on the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

4. To move an image, make sure that the Move tool is selected from the left side of the
screen, and then either click on the image directly or its corresponding layer to select a
single image. Once the image is selected, you can click and drag to move it around on
your screen.

screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial

5. To change the size or rotation of the images you have added, select the image and then
click Edit-Free Transform (keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + T) in the menu on the top of your screen. Free transform allows you to resize, move, and rotate your image by clicking and dragging the boxes in each four corners. Use the Move tool and Free Transform to set up the collage the way you
want it.

screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial

6. If you change your mind about the images you added, you can add more in the same way
you added them originally, or you can delete them by selecting their corresponding layer
and clicking delete on your keyboard.

7. There are some additional tools in Photoshop that allow you to further improve your

a. Use the Text tool to add a title, a quote, or text information to your collage.

screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial

b. To add preset shapes, right click on the Rectangle Tool on the left side of your
screen, and choose Custom Shape Tool. Use the menu that appears along the top
of the screen to set the color, size, and outline thickness of your shape, and then
choose from the shape menu that appears by clicking the drop-down arrow on the
right-hand side of the menu. Click and drag to add the desired shape to your

screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial

screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial

c. Use the Eraser tool if you want overlapping images to blend/fade into one
another. Before you are able to use the eraser tool, Photoshop will prompt you
that the image will need to be rasterized if you wish to use it. This means that the
image will no longer be a smart object, so make sure you have set the size of the
image to your liking before this step, as it will not easily resize after it is
rasterized. If you are ready, click OK, and then click and drag the eraser tool over
an image (make sure its corresponding layer is selected, otherwise nothing will
erase) to erase part of it.

screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial screenshot of Photoshop for collage tutorial

8. Once your collage is finished, select File–Save to save it to your computer.

How to Layer Images in Microsoft Word

Not everyone has Photoshop, but it is possible to create collages of images on more common
software, such as Microsoft Word.

1. Once you open Microsoft Word, click Insert–Pictures from the menu at the top of your
screen. From the window that opens, select the images you want in your collage and click

screenshot of Word for collage tutorial

2. Once your images are inserted, you will notice that instead of layering on top of one
another, they are next to each other, or perhaps each is on their own line. To fix this,
select an image, and then from the Picture Tools menu at the top of the screen, click
Wrap Text–In Front of Text. This will allow the images to layer and overlap. Follow
the same steps with each image.

screenshot of Word for collage tutorial

3. Now, you can click and drag your images wherever you want on the page to create your
collage. To resize or rotate an image, select it and then click and drag on the circles at
each corner.

4. If you want the images to overlap one another in your collage, you will need to set which
one is layered “on top” of the surrounding overlapping images. To do this, right-click on
an image; in the menu that appears, you will see “Bring to Front” and “Send to Back.”
Click Bring to Front if you want the image to be overtop of the others, or select Send to
Back if you want it to be behind overlapping images.

screenshot of Word for collage tutorial

5. In Word, you can also add shapes, text, or WordArt to your collage within the Insert
menu on the top of your screen.

screenshot of Word for collage tutorial

6. You can also edit each image by playing around with the tools in the Picture Tools menu
that appears when you select an image. Most of these tools deal with filters or color
corrections, and can be altered to change the style/tone of your collage. You can also add
borders to your images to differentiate them within the collage.

screenshot of Word for collage tutorial

7. Once you have completed your collage, select File–Save to save the finished product to
your computer.

How to Animate in Adobe Premiere

How to Animate Images in Adobe Premiere

Images are an essential part of multimedia history projects—but what if you could make those images move? In Adobe Premiere, images can be animated in a variety of different ways to add interest to your blog post, web page, or video. Below are instructions on how to pan & zoom an image and to create moving arrows on a map. However, given a basic understanding of the functions of Adobe Premiere, the options to animate are limitless.

How to Pan & Zoom

1. To start, first open Adobe Premiere and select New Project. Then, upload the image you want to animate by double-clicking the box in the bottom right-hand corner to “Import media to start.”

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial

2. Once your image has been uploaded, click and drag it to the Sequence Timeline.

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial

3. Now, click on the clip that has been added to your timeline, and you will see a new panel appear in the top left corner under Effect Controls.

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial

4. Effect Controls is where you create animation sequences. Motion controls the movement, size, and location of the image—this is the tool you will use to pan & zoom. Click the drop arrow next to Motion, and a list containing Position, Scale, Rotation, Anchor Point, and Anti-Flicker will appear. Click on the “toggle animation” circles next to Position and Scale to turn on animation for those tools. To move the image, click and drag the blue numbers to the right of Position. The first number controls horizontal motion, and the second number controls vertical motion. To zoom in or out of the image, click and drag the blue number next to Scale.

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial

5. Next, you will need to set the keyframes for your animation. When you selected toggle animation, a keyframe automatically appeared wherever you had stopped on your timeline. To add more keyframes, drag your timeline forward a few seconds, and then click and drag on the blue numbers next to Position and Scale to move/zoom your image to the desired point. A new keyframe at the new time will automatically be added.

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial

6. Keep moving the timeline forward and adding new keyframes to your liking. The keyframes can be moved along the timeline by clicking and dragging. You can also delete a keyframe by clicking on it and selecting Delete on your keyboard. To view your progress, look to the window on the right-hand side of your screen entitled Program, and select the triangle play button. Lastly, to shorten or lengthen the entire duration of the clip (how long you want the animation to last in total), click and drag the edge of your clip in the window at the bottom of your screen.

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial

NOTE: This process of toggling animation and adding keyframes is the basic function for all types of animation in Premiere, so once you understand how it works for pan & zoom, you can apply it to the other types of animation in Effect Controls. 


How to Animate Arrows on a Map

Maps make historical narratives much more accessible, and including moving arrows can add clarity and interest.

1. Before you begin in Premiere, you first will need two images: one of the map you want to use, and one with arrows added in. To add arrows onto the map, you can use Photoshop, Paint, Word, or any basic image editing software. To learn how to add and layer shapes to your image, view this tutorial.

2. Once you have your images of the map with and without arrows, upload both of them to Premiere by double-clicking “Import media to start” in the bottom left-hand corner. Next, drag the images over to your Sequence Timeline to the right. You will need the map WITHOUT arrows to be on top of the map with arrows, as seen below. 

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial

3. Next, click on the clip of your map without arrows, and you will see a list of animation tools appear in the top-left window titled Effect Controls. Select the drop down arrow next to Opacity, and a new list will appear.

4. To animate the arrows in your map to appear, you will need to add a Mask to your image. To add a mask, select either the oval, square, or pen tools shown under Opacity. All three of these tools create masks: the circle tool creates a oval-shaped mask, the rectangle tool creates a rectangular mask, and the pen tool allows you to create a custom-shape mask. For the purposes of this project, you can choose either the oval or rectangular mask, as those two are the more simple options. Once you select a mask, a new menu will appear underneath titled Mask (1). The Mask will render your entire image transparent, except for the area included within the shape of the mask. So, to make your map have an arrow appear, you will have to first cover the arrow with the mask, and then animate it to move away and slowly uncover the image (of the same map WITH the arrow) beneath.

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial




screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial5. To start the animation, set your initial keyframe by making sure the animation for Mask Path is toggled, and drag the mask to completely hide the arrow. Once the animation is toggled on, the keyframe will automatically appear.

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial

6. Next, just as with pan & zoom, move your timeline forward a few seconds, and then drag the mask to reveal the beginning of your arrow. A new keyframe will automatically appear at the new time. Continue with this process until the arrow is completely uncovered by the mask and visible.

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial


7. As with all forms of animation in Premiere, you can move, delete, and edit the keyframes by clicking on them. To view your progress, watch the video in the window on the right entitled Program. Once you are finished, save your animation as a Premiere project, and then export it into whatever format (video, gif, etc.) you prefer.

screenshot of Adobe Premiere animation tutorial