Category Archives: Primary Sources

Database Report –Civil War Era Newspapers

August 28, 1860

St. Louis News, quoted in Louisville, KY Daily Journal, August 28, 1860 (Civil War Era Newspapers)

Search Summary

  • Search conducted by Alex Ghaemmaghami and Cooper Wingert between July 8-31, 2019
  • Keywords: “slave stampede,” “stampede of slaves,” “negro stampede,” “stampede of negroes,” “stampeding slaves”
  • Totals: 46 hits

Top Results

  • In late August 1860, the St. Louis News reported that “five negroes belonging o Mr. Edward Bredell, disappeared very suddenly from their master’s farm, some six miles form the city, on the Clayton road. The runaway party consists of a woman, aged about sixty, her two sons and daughter, aged respectfully seven, twelve, and twenty-one years, and a young girl, closely related to the family.” The paper suspected that “the captivating stories of freedom and life in Canada” had been “breathed into their willing ears by some Abolitionist.” (“Another Slave Stampede,” St. Louis News, quoted in Louisville, KY Daily Journal, August 28, 1860)
  • In August 1850, a correspondent from Baltimore noted that the “excitement in this vicinity relative to the recent movements of abolitionists, in stampeding slaves, is very great, as large numbers have recently been spirited away.” (“Our Baltimore Correspondence,” New York, NY Herald, August 11, 1850)
  • In Kentucky, evidence was uncovered of “another stampede of slaves,” when a “valuable horse attached to a sleigh” was discovered at one man’s doorstep, with “the horse in a profuse sweat and dreadfully blown, showing clearly that he had been driven at terrible speed.” The stampede “consisted of two men, two women, and three children, belonging to Mr. Gaines who claims the slave Garner, now on trial before Commissioner [John L.] Pendery. We learn that the latter gentleman has suffered another loss, four more of his slaves having absconded.” The paper then added “since writing the above we learn that still another stampede has occurred,” involving “two men, three women, and two children…. It is probable that they are all in charge of some expert conductor on the Underground Railroad and are by this time far on their way toward Canada.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, quoted in “Another Stampede,” Louisville, KY Daily Journal, February 4, 1856)
  • The Richmond Daily Dispatch reported in September 1857 that “a stampede of slaves was prevented a few nights ago, by the police. A Philadelphia vessel was suspected of having bargained for the wrong sort of cargo, and sundry slaves were known to have been making preparations for embarking. Both parties finding the policemen alert, gave up the enterprise.” (“Funeral–Death of Jordan Branch–Stampede of Slaves, &c.,” Richmond, VA Daily Dispatch, September 11, 1857)
  • Writing to a Richmond paper in February 1862, a Confederate soldier noted that “a stampede of negroes from the vicinity of Chuckatuck,” in Suffolk County, Virginia, “has made the necessity of… drafts even more apparent than before.” (“Camp News,” Richmond, VA Daily Dispatch, February 5, 1862)
  • In early 1864, a Memphis, Tennessee paper reported a “stampede” of “One hundred and fifty negroes from about Huntsville and beyond passed through here yesterday for Nashville. Large numbers pass through almost daily. The contrabands about here are also being sent to Nashville.” (“Stampede of Negroes,” Memphis, TN Daily Appeal, March 10, 1864)

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General Notes

  • ProQuest Civil War Era Newspapers is a subscription database, available to Dickinson College students through the WaidnerSpahr Library. It is a separate database from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Most Relevant Coverage from ProQuest Civil War Era Newspapers

  • MISSOURI: St. Louis News (quoted in Louisville, KY Daily Journal)
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Boston, MA Herald, 1846-1865
  • NEW YORK: New York Herald, 1840-1865
  • SOUTH CAROLINA: Charleston Mercury, 1840-1865
  • VIRGINIA: Richmond Daily Dispatch, 1852-1865

Database Report –Historical Newspapers

March 31, 1863

Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1863 (Historical Newspapers)

Search Summary:

  • Search conducted by Alex Ghaemmaghami between July 8-15, 2019
  • Keywords: “stampede + slave,” “stampede + Missouri,” “negro stampede,” “exodus of negroes, stampeding, “freedom suits”
  • Total Relevant Articles: 26 (3 about Missouri)

Top Results:

  • “We learn from the Lagrange (Mo.) American, of the 12th That about a dozen ‘likely, intelligent and valuable slaves escaped from that city during last week, and are supposed to be now beyond reach of pursuit.” (“Negro Stampede,” Chicago Press and Tribune, November 11, 1859)
  • “The Canton, Lewis county, Mo., reporter, gives the following account of the recent great slave stampede there…” (“Another Chapter of Southern Atrocities and Horrors,” Boston Liberator, January 18, 1850)
  • “Some thirty or forty American citizens of African descent … quietly abolished themselves into Illinois.” (Hannibal, MO Courier, quoted in “Slave Stampede,” Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1861)
  • “It seems, from the information at Lexington, [KY] that Mr. Doyle has been the active agent in getting up the recent stampede among the negroes of Fayette county…. From this place, he made his escape, and next turns up at Lexington, engaged in the giant stampede of negroes from the interior of Kentucky.” (“Doyle, the Negro Abductor,” Pittsburgh, PA Daily Morning Post, August 21, 1848)

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General Notes
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers is a subscription database available to Dickinson College students through the Waidner-Spahr Library. It is separate from ProQuest Civil War Era Newspapers.
  • Using the date range tool helped narrow the number of results drastically, as well as using quotation marks for key phrases and commas between key terms.
  • Many results detailing stampedes from Kentucky to Ohio

Most Relevant Coverage from ProQuest Historical Newspapers

  • MISSOURI: LaGrange, MO American (quoted in Chicago Tribune) and Hannibal, MO Courier (quoted in Chicago Tribune)
  • ILLINOIS: Chicago Tribune, 1848-1863
  • NEW YORK: New York Times, 1857-1863
  • PENNSYLVANIA: Philadelphia Inquirer, 1860-1863

Database Report- Google Books and Google Ngram Viewer

definition of stampede

Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanism, (1859) (Courtesy of Google Books)

Search Summary

  • Search conducted by Dana Marecheau July 10-12, 2019.
  • Keywords: slave stampede, stampede of slaves, negro stampede, stampede of negroes, stampeding, stampede
  • Totals: 15 hits

Top Results

  • “He [John Brown] was particularly inquired of,” explained Andrew Hunter, a witness who testified before Congress on January 13, 1860, as part of the Harpers Ferry hearings, “… as to his intending to stampede slaves off, and he promptly and distinctly replies that that was not his purpose… He stated in substance, as I recollect, that his purpose in coming to Virginia was simply to stampede slaves, not to shed blood; that he has stampeded twelve slaves from Missouri without snapping a gun, and that he expected to do the same thing in Virginia, but only on a larger scale.” (The United States Senate, Senate Document, (1860) 130: 62) [WEB]
  • “From animals the term is transferred to men: … From information which has reached us, there would seem to have been a considerable stampede of slaves from the border valley counties of Virginia during the late Easter holidays.— (Balt.) Sun, Apr. 9, 1858.” (John Russel Bartlett, Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms, (1859), 445) [WEB]
  • “THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY INAUGURATED— STAMPEDE OF CONTRABANDS.” (Life and Public Service of Major-General Butler… the hero of New Orleans, etc, (1864), 49) [WEB]
  • “It was not anticipated that the first movement would have any other appearance to the masters than a slave stampede, or local insurrection at most.” (James Redpath, The Public Life of Capt. John Brown, with an Auto-biography of His Childhood and Youth, (1860), 144) [WEB]
  • “John Brown conceived the idea that these mountain ranges, so broken, so wild, afforded an excellent pathway for a grand stampeded from the Slave States— a grand exodus into the Free States, and, through the latter, into Canada.” (British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society, British and Foreign Anti-slavery Reporter, (1860) 126) [WEB]
  • “The same Wild Tom [a freedom seeker originally from Charleston] had been seen, within a short time past, lurking about the neighborhood; and it was suspected that the late stampede had not taken place without his aid and his assistance.” (Richard Hildreth, Archy Moore, the White Slave: Or, Memoirs of a Fugitive, (1856), 294) [WEB]
  •  “We learn from the Fact that “still another slave stampede came off a few miles before Maysville on Wednesday night last. Five negroes— three of them very fair and delicate mulatto girls – succeeded in crossing the river. — All trace was lost a few miles back of Ripley. Brown county.” (Freemen’s Manual, (1853), 1:153) [WEB]
  • “SLAVE STAMPEDE. – The Cincinnati Commercial says there was a serious negro stampede from plantations sixty miles back of the river, in Kentucky, on Saturday night. Of eleven slaves who decamped five succeeded in crossing the Ohio, a few miles below this city, yesterday. Their pursuers were in town last night, but learning that the fugitives had got twelve hours.” (Freemen’s Manual, (1853), 1: 154) [WEB]
  • “NEGRO STAMPEDE. — Twenty- five negroes ran away from their masters, in Boone county, Kentucky, on the night of the 2d inst. Among those who have lost their servants are two ministers of the gospel… A STAMPEDE. — The “Underground Railroad” would seem to be in excellent order. A company of 29 slaves from Kentucky reached here on Monday evening last,  and were safely convey to the Canada side the next morning. They were all hale young men and women, none of them over 35 years of age, for whose recapture, we hear, liberal offers are proclaimed.” (American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, The Annual Report . . . of the American and Foreign Anti-slavery . . . with the Addresses and Resolutions, (1853), 144-145) [WEB]
  • Slave Stampede. — The slaves in Mason county, Va., are becoming migratory in their habits. Within the last fortnight eight have made their escape to parts unknown. —Ledger.” (The Friend, (1854), 27: 63) [WEB]
  • “Many of them who had fought at his side through Kansas held that what they should aim at ought to be a grand stampede of negroes; that getting together as man as they could – some hundreds or thousands— they should carry them across the frontier into Canada, only fighting when it was necessary to cover their retreat.” (The Baptist Magazine, (1860), 352) [WEB]
  • “The driver who marks it out, has to remain on the ground until it is finished, and has no interest in over-measuring it; and if it should be systematically increase very much, there is danger of a general stampede to the “swamp”— a danger the salve can always hold before his master’s cupidity.” (Fred. Law Olmsted, Our slaves states:, (1856), 435-436) [WEB]
  • “This is ‘the infected district”— the part of the body spiritual upon which the gangrene of slavery still lingers; and in this chapter we propose to show, that notwithstanding the stampede of slaveholders in 1845, we are now, as a Church, more deeply and criminally involved in slaveholding that at any former period of our history”. (Hiram Mattison, The Impending Crisis of 1860: Or, The Present Connection of the Methodist Episcopal Church with Slavery, and Our Duty in Regard to it, edition 4., (1859), 41) [WEB]
  • “So some say; while others believe that the “stampede” has been a very large one. The great phenomenon in this case is, the intense terror which existed at Washington, eighty mile off, and through slave States, when twenty-two men took possession of Harper’s Ferry on behalf of the negroes.” (Eneas Sweetland Dallas, Once a Week, (1859), 1: 488) [WEB]
  • “A negro stampede for Mexico, has been discovered at Lagrange, Texas.”(Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-room Companion, (1851), 1: 239) [WEB]

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General Notes

  • Google Books and Google Ngram Viewer are both free online databases available to the public.
  • Most of the hits in Google Books were reports from Kentucky.
  • In the Life and Public Service of Benjamin F. Butler, an autobiography of the Union Army general and politician Benjamin Butler, stampede of contraband appears to reference a slave stampede.
  • The 1853 Freemen’s Manual is an anti-slavery publication, affiliated with the Free Soil Democrats.
  • In Hiram Mattison’s The Impending Crisis of 1860, he uses stampede to describe a group of slaveholders.
  • The Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-room Companion (1861) was a magazine of illustrations founded by Frederick Gleason.

Database Report -Newspapers.com

November 18, 1859

Cleveland OH Daily Leader, November 18, 1859 (Newspapers.com)

Search Summary

  • Search conducted by Cooper Wingert between June 28, 2019-July 16, 2019
  • Keywords: slave stampede
  • Totals: Approximately 600 hits, with concentrations of stampede attempts from Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and Missouri.
  • NOTE: Due to extensive results, this search was stopped at December 1859.  We still need to complete the database report with the war years.

Top Results

  • “A regular stampede took place among the slaves of Mr. J. Mattingly, near St. Louis, on the night of the 13th inst. Seven of them made their escape.” (Marshall, TX Texas Republican, July 31, 1852)
  • Quoting the St. Louis Democrat, the Pittsburgh Gazette printed an article headlined “Stampede Among the Africans.” Noting that “some fifteen or twenty slaves departed this city [St. Louis] for the colder climates of the north,” the paper reported that the freedom seekers “probably decamped about midnight, having, under the permission of their owners to attend church, gathered themselves together and set out in a company. Heavy rewards have been offered by their owners, and officers are in close pursuit of them.” (St. Louis Democrat, quoted in “Stampede Among the Africans,” Pittsburgh, PA Gazette, October 30, 1854)
  • In late 1854, the Milwaukee Weekly Wisconsin reported that “the St. Louis papers are very much exercised over the frequent stampede of slaves, and their almost impossible recovery after they once get as far as Chicago….” (Milwaukee, Wi Weekly Wisconsin, December 20, 1854)
  • “In Missouri, surrounded as she is by free States, stampedes of slaves are of frequent occurrence. You cannot take up one of the city papers without seeing an advertisement with its accompanying reward for the recovery of runaway slaves.” (St. Louis Central Christian Advocate,  February 2, 1859, quoted in “Missouri and Slavery,” Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1859)
  • In November 1859, a Glasgow, Missouri paper reported a “negro stampede” of 11 enslaved people from La Grange, Missouri. “The fugitives stole a flat boat from this place, in which it is supposed they crossed the river.–The boat was caught at or near Quincy. If these slaves succeed in making a permanent escape, it will be the third or fourth successful stampede that has taken place from LaGrange in the past three of four months.” (“Negro Stampede,” Glasgow, MO Weekly Times, November 17, 1859)
  • Quoting from the Cincinnati Atlas, a Vermont serial published an article titled “Grand Stampede.” Noting that “between twenty and twenty-five negroes, belonging to different plantations in Kenton Co. Ky., across the river, left for parts unknown, via the state of Ohio.” (Cincinnati Atlas, quoted in “Grand Stampede,” Danville, VT North Star, May 17, 1847)
  • A Washington, D.C. paper reported that “a stampede of negro slaves took place at Maysville, Ky., a few days ago. They are gone to help to people the wilds of Ohio and Canada.” (Washington, D.C. Daily National Whig, May 26, 1847)
  • Reporting an escape of 20 enslaved people near Baltimore, the Charleston Courier related: “These stampedes are becoming every day occurrences.” (Charleston, SC Courier, quoted in New Orleans Weekly Delta, September 18, 1848)
  • An article titled “Stampede” in the Carlisle, Pennsylvania Herald reported “a great commotion among the slave owners of Maryland, in consequence of the large numbers of slaves who have seen proper to take ‘French leave’ of their masters, and emigrate into free states. The papers published in border counties come teeming full of advertisements offering rewards for runaways, and editorial notices of the absconding of whole gangs and families of slaves, who are seldom ever caught, and only heard of when safe far north of Mason & Dixon’s line…. Several instances have occurred lately, of gangs of slaves having run away in one night, and successfully got off, whose value would be from 5,000 to $8,000.” (“Stampede,” Carlisle, PA Weekly Herald, September 19, 1849)
  • While noting that the escape of a “troop of slaves from Kentucky into Ohio” would “be a source of great irritation in that part of the country,” a correspondent for the New York Times commented that “there have been more cases of such ‘stampedes,’ (to use a phrase imported from Mexico,) during the last two years, since the Fugitive act has been in existence, than ever before.” (“Washington,” New York Times, October 4, 1852)
  • Reporting that “several negro stampedes have recently taken place in different parts the State,” the Kentucky Yeoman noted “the negroes are running away in scores, assisted and urged on, doubtless, by northern abolitionists…. If they continue their negro-stealing and negro-harboring business at the present rate, and their orators are permitted to canvas Kentucky and preach their incendiary doctrines to our slaves, the result will ere long be terrible. The people of Kentucky will not quietly submit to such robberies.” (Kentucky Yeoman, “Negro Stampedes,” Huntsville, AL Democrat, October 21, 1852)
  • Grappling with the frequency of escapes, the Richmond Dispatch somewhat sarcastically proposed forming a “fugitive slave police” by commissioning “one or more small and fast-sailing vessels,” which would be stationed “near the Capes.” The paper groused that “one stampede of negroes, such as has lately occurred here in Richmond, costs more than the purchase, manning, and support of two such vessels for five years.” (Richmond Dispatch, quoted in Washington, D.C. National Era, “Fugitive Slave Police,” May 5, 1854)
  • “On Saturday night a serious stampede of slaves occurred in Richmond. Five likely and valuable slaves made off to parts unknown, one of them taking $1506 of his master’s money with him.” (Vicksburg, MS Vicksburg Daily Whig, February 13, 1855)
  • A parody “procession” or parade described by a Buffalo, New York newspaper included the “Editor of the Cincinnati Commercial, with a model of a cotton boat and a slave stampede.” (Buffalo, NY Daily Republic, July 3, 1855)
  • A New York Times column claimed that the “silent operations of the ‘Underground Railroad'” were exercising a “powerful effect in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and Kentucky,” where “stampedes have become more frequent than ever, and the border counties of the Slave States are fast losing their laboring population.” (“The Underground Railroad,” New York Times, November 30, 1855)
  • The Buffalo, New York Morning Express used the term “Servile Stampede” when reporting the escape of 11 enslaved people from Loudon County, Virginia. (“Servile Stampede,” Buffalo, NY Morning Express, September 23, 1856)
  • In December 1856, the Baltimore Sun used the terms “stampede” and “insurrection” interchangeably. While noting “the arrest of two negro men suspected of plotting an insurrection among the blacks,” the paper suggested that “it would be well for the organized patrol parties to be vigilant, lest a ‘stampede’ in some quarter might take place.” (“An Excitement,” Baltimore Sun, December 6, 1856)
  • In June 1857, a Mississippi paper reported a “negro stampede” consisting of “no less than thirty-one negroes” who had “disappeared from the neighborhood of Fort Adams within the past month. They have either run away or been stolen.” (Natchez, MS Courier, quoted in “Negro Stampede,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 27, 1857)
  • The Carlisle Herald reported a “stampede” of “eleven runaway slaves, from Carroll county, Maryland” who “passed through the principal street of Carlisle. Their masters were here on Monday in hot pursuit.” (“Stampede of Slaves,” Carlisle, PA Weekly Herald, October 7, 1857)
  • The Washington, D.C. Evening Star noted “a stampede of slaves took place from this city on Saturday night. From the number that is missing, it is thought that they were taken away in some northern vessel.” (Washington, D.C. Evening Star, July 28, 1859)
  • In the immediate wake of John Brown’s October 1859 Harpers Ferry raid, many papers reported the incident as an attempted stampede. “The idea was to hold the town long enough to concentrate the negroes by hundreds and thousands from miles around,” reported a Connecticut paper, “and then, when retreat became necessary, make a grand stampede across the Maryland line into Pennsylvania.” (Hartford, CT Courant, October 19, 1859)

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General Notes

  • Newspapers.com is a subscription database.
  • Stampedes could also head for destinations to the south. “Texas negroes, of late, are in the habit of running off to Mexico in droves,” reported a Pennsylvania paper, “tempted thither by wandering tribes of women, wandering about like gypsies. So it is said. The slaveholders, however, are organizing, to prevent a continuance of the stampede.” (Towanda, PA Bradford Reporter, October 28, 1854)
  • Likewise, a Washington, D.C. serial reported “a stampede of fifteen slaves” from Key West, Florida. “A small sail boat, belonging to the Sand-Key Lighthouse, with a month’s supply of provisions for the keeper and assistants on board, was taken by the negroes, and in it they were able to elude their pursuers. It is thought they have gone to Nassau.” (Washington, D.C. Evening Star, February 18, 1858)
  • The term was also used to describe the “stampede” of slaves being sold farther south to preclude escape attempts. A Kansas newspaper detailed “a perfect stampede of slaves from Western Missouri, their masters selling them off South, or removing with them to that section.” (“Personal,” Lawrence, KS Western Home Journal, November 18, 1858)
  • Describing the sale and relocation of many enslaved Missourians to locations in the deep South, a Pennsylvania paper noted that “there are upwards of four hundred slaves leaving Missouri every week, nearly all of whom go south.” Styling it “The Missouri Stampede,” the serial noted that “this movement in the slave market is occasioned partly by the high prices obtained, and partly by causes having no reference to prices.” (“The Missouri Stampede,” Gettysburg, PA Adams Sentinel, October 10, 1859)

Most Relevant Coverage from Genealogy Bank Database

  • MISSOURI:  Glasgow Weekly Times – 1848-1859
  • ILLINOIS:  Chicago Tribune – 1849-1859
  • MARYLAND:  Baltimore Sun – 1847-1859
  • NEW YORK: Buffalo Morning Express – 1847-1859
  • VIRGINIA:  Richmond Dispatch – 1852-1859

Database Report- Quincy Whig

 

Canton Stampede

Quincy IL Whig, November 6, 1849 (Courtesy of Quincy Historical Newspaper Archive)

Search Summary

  • Search conducted by Dana Marecheau July 2-3, 2019.
  • Keywords: slave stampede, stampede, stampede of slaves
  • Totals: 8 hits

Top Results

    • “We find the following telegraphic despatch in the St. Louis Republican of Saturday last.– We had not before heard of this “stampede,” although Lewis county lies nearly opposite this: Quincy, Nov, 21. NEGRO STAMPEDE. – About fifty negroes, (men, women, and children,) with teams, owned by Miss Militer, McKim and McCutchin, of Sugar creek, and William Ellis of Monticello, Lew county Mo.’ started for parts unknown about one o’clock last night.” (Quincy IL Whig, November 6, 1849)
    • “We are getting a little tired of this disposition of our Missouri friends to lose their equilibrium, and charge that every slave stampede that takes places originates in this city.” (“Across the River,” Quincy IL Whig, July 7, 1854)
    • “We have been told that a few persons in Quincy, construe an editorial in our Daily of Friday last into something like an intimation that we would  justify lawless attacks upon abolitionists, by way of retribution for their supposed connexion with slave stampedes the other side of the river.” (“Editorial Misrepresentation,” Quincy IL Whig, February 12, 1853)
    • “The Muscatine Journal, speaking of a recent Slave Stampede in Northern Missouri and an unsuccessful effort to overtake the fugitive, says…” (“The Underground Railroad,” Quincy IL Whig, September 11, 1854)
    • “Another cause operating powerfully is the insecurity of this chattelized property. In Missouri, surrounded as she is by free States, stampedes of slaves are of frequent occurrence. You cannot take up one of the city paper without seeing an advertisement with its accompanying rewards for the recovery of runaway slaves.” (“Missouri and Slavery,” Quincy IL Whig, March 15, 1859)
    • “It appears by advice from Fortress Monroe that there is likely to be a stampede of slaves through Virginia.” (“Telegraph Notice,” Quincy IL Whig, June 1, 1861)
    • “We have been very anxious to know, upon what authority out Missouri neighbors charge that slave stampedes originate in Quincy.” (“Slave Stampede,” Quincy IL Whig, August 5, 1854)
    • “Stampede of Slaves from South Carolina.” (“Southern Conciliation,” Quincy IL Whig, March 30, 1861)

General Notes

  • The Quincy Historical Newspaper Archive is a free database comprised of newspapers published in Illinois from 1835 through May 1926.
  • When conducting the search, the word “stampede” by itself did not provide any relevant hits.
  • The term “slave stampede” provided the most relevant hits in the Quincy Historical Newspaper Archive. 

Database Report- St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican

Newspaper clipping from St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican

St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican, February 22, 1862 (Courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society)

Search Summary

  • Search conducted by Amanda Donoghue and Cooper Wingert from April 8 to May 1, 2019
  • Keywords: slave stampede, stampede of slaves, negro stampede, negro exodus
  • Total: 26 (including five episodes from Missouri)

Top Results

  • “We noticed last week that a sort of stampede had taken place among the blacks, in the neighborhood of Dover, and that it was suspected that white men were concerned in inducing slaves, in that locality to leave their masters.” (“Runaways,” St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican, September 28, 1854)
  • “We learn that between thirty and forty slaves, in the counties of Boone, Callaway, St. Charles and Montgomery, Missouri, have lately run away from their masters. The names and descriptions of the runaways are in the hands of the police in this city.” (“Stampede of Slaves,” St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican, February 22, 1862)
  • “We saw five runaway slaves taken to the calaboose yesterday evening by persons who had taken them…The secessionists have charged that the purpose of this war was to free the negroes, and have talked so much about it, that it is no wonder their negroes leave them. They may blame themselves for the present stampede among slaves.” (“Runaway,” St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican, September 20, 1861)
  • “But the successful arrest and extradition of no less than five fugitives on the third, opened their eyes to new danger…At one time they believed the Marshal had in his hands fifteen additional warrants for fugitives; at another, the story was that there were six hundred Missourians in the city looking for their lost negroes. Indeed, such has been the terror among fugitives during the last three or four days, that in every strange face they beheld a slave owner and in every lamp-post an officer. The stampede for Canada became general, with all who could get away.” (St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican, April 9, 1861)

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General Notes

  • The St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican was published in St. Louis Missouri from 1854 to 1859. It is available in a searchable format in the State Historical Society of Missouri’s digital collections.
  • In addition the the article shown above about “Old Brown of Ossawatomie,” the paper published a number of other articles about John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry.
  • “Thatcher’s letter” is the publication of a letter written by Lawrence Thatcher of Memphis to John Brown, but it was intercepted by the government on the way to Harper’s Ferry.
  • Not all papers digitized on the website are accurately searchable, so other articles about stampedes published by this paper may exist.

Black Authors and Fictional Stampedes

Delaney

Martin Delany. (House Divided Project)

Martin R. Delay’s Blake or the Huts of America (1859-1862) is often identified as the first black nationalist novel. It tells the story of Henry Blake as he escapes from slavery and tries to find his wife who had been sold away from him. However, Blake’s overarching goal was to unify the enslaved people and fight for freedom together. At first printed serially in a black owned newspaper, the chapters were later gathered and edited into a single work. Delany used the word stampede once in Chapter 30, “The Pursuit,” writing:

“The absence of Mammy Judy, Daddy Joe, Charles, and little Tony, on the return early Monday morning of Colonel Franks and lady from the country, unmistakably proved the escape of their slaves, and the further proof of the exit of ‘squire Potter’s Andy and Beckwith’s Clara, with the remembrance of the stampede a few months previously, required no further confirmation of the fact, when the neighborhood again was excited to ferment.” [1]

In this case, an incident that could be describe as a stampede reminds the community of a mass escape that had taken place a few months prior.  Delany’s usage, however, provides insight into how slave holders responded to stampedes. He wrote that the town’s “advisory committee was called into immediate council, and ways and means devised for the arrest of the recreant slaves recently left, and to prevent among them the recurrence of such things; a pursuit was at once commenced.” [2] Delany’s fictional account illustrates real white anxiety surrounding stampedes.

Harper

Frances E.W. Harper. (House Divided Project)

Iola Leroy or Shadows Uplifted by African American writer Francis E.W. Harper was published in 1892. The novel follows a mixed race family’s struggle with enslavement, freedom, and identity during the Civil War. The family “passed” as white. In the novel, Harper used the word ‘stampede’ three times. Each use was in relation to a single incident where a group of enslaved people plotted a mass escape to join the Union Army, camped nearby.

First, Harper wrote, “A few evenings before the stampede of Robert and his friends to the army, and as he sat alone in his room reading the latest news from the paper he had secreted.” [3] Here Harper did not use the term explicitly in connection with slaves, but Robert was an enslaved figure who was passing as white.  His friends were formerly enslaved people.

The next instance reads, “When [the Union Army] came, there was a stampede to its ranks of men ready to serve in any capacity, to labor in the tents, fight on the fields, or act as scouts” (Harper, 36). This was a reference to runaway slaves.  Harper added, “It was the strangest sight to see these black men rallying around the Stars and Stripes.” [4]

The final time that the term “stampede” appeared in the novel, it was when the character Iola announced that, “A number of colored men stampeded to the Union ranks, with a gentleman as a leader, whom I think is your brother.” [5]

 

[1] Martin R. Delany, Blake; or, The Huts of America (serial, 1859-1862; Boston: Beacon Press, 1970, reprint), Chapter 30, [WEB].

[2] Delany, Chapter 30.

[3] Frances E.W. Harper, Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted (Boston: James H. Earle, 1892), 32, [WEB].

[4] Harper, 36.

[5] Harper, 196.

Database Report -Making of America (Cornell and Michigan)

Stampede Report Missouri

OR Series 1, vol. 22, pt. 2, 746

Search Summary

  • Search conducted by Cooper Wingert between March 29-April 4, 2019.
  • Keywords: “slave stampede,” “stampede of slaves,” “stampede of negroes.”
  • Totals: 11 hits

Top Results

  • In December 1863, Col. James McFerran of the 1st Missouri State Militia Cavalry reported a “small stampede of negroes from the vicinity of Lexington, [Missouri] carrying away two horses, which have not been recovered at last accounts.” (The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1881-1901), Series 1, vol. 22, pt. 2, 746; hereinafter cited as OR)
  • Recounting the December 1858 escape of some 11 slaves from western Missouri, with the aid of abolitionist John Brown, an 1863 book described “the panic which followed this invasion.” Fearing “a general stampede of slaves,” it noted, “the two counties of Bates and Vernon were soon quite cleared of their ‘chattels,’ which were sent into the interior or shipped to the South for sale.” (Orville J. Victor, History of American Conspiracies; A Record of treason, rebellion, &.c. in the United States of America, from 1760 to 1860, (New York: J.D. Torrey, 1863), 516)
  • The term “slave stampede” was also used by New York Sen. William H. Seward in May 1860, during his testimony before a Senate committee investigating the Harpers Ferry insurrection. He reported that Hugh Forbes, a one-time associate of John Brown, had “suggested the getting up of a stampede of slaves secretly on the borders of Kansas, in Missouri, which Brown disapproved.” (Report of the Select Committee of the Senate Appointed to Inquire into the Late Invasion and Seizure of the Public Property at Harper’s Ferry, (Washington: n.p., 1860), 254)
  • In 1853, the American & Foreign Anti-Slavery Society reprinted two advertisements using the term “stampede” to illustrate the increasing number of escaping slaves. A “negro stampede” from Kentucky, reportedly inspired by Uncle Tom’s Cabin, had seen “twenty-five negroes” escape from Boone County, Kentucky. (The Thirtieth Annual Report of the American & Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, Presented at New-York, May 11, 1853, (New York: Lewis J. Bates, 1853), 144)
  • Writing to Brig. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in November 1861, Brig. Gen. Alexander McCook at Camp Nevin, Kentucky, reported that ten “contraband negroes” had made their way behind his lines, while also informing him that “there will be a general stampede of slaves from the other side of Green River.” (OR Series 1, vol. 4, 337).
  • In 1861, the periodical The Living Age reprinted a speech by Edward Everett, in which the noted orator predicted that should secession be allowed to stand undisputed, conflict would still arise. “A general stampede of slaves shall take place along the Border,” Everett asserted, “with no thought of rendition,” sparking a “Border-war” spanning “a frontier of fifteen hundred miles.” (The Living Age, vol. 70 (August 1861), 283)
  • An 1863 book castigating the South and secession reprinted an 1862 article from the Christian Banner, entitled “Stampede of Slaves.” The article described “thousands of negroes in Virginia” who were “taking leave of their owners.” The book also reprinted another article from the same newspaper, referring to “the stampede of negroes” from Virginia which “continues with increased numbers.” (James W. Hunnicutt, The Conspiracy Unveiled: the South Sacrificed, or The Horrors of Secession, (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1863), 369, 445-446)
  • Confederates also used the term “stampede” in their dispatches. Writing from Alexandria, Louisiana in early February 1864, Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor discussed hiring (or renting) slaves from their owners to serve as laborers for Confederate forces in the region. However, Taylor was determined to “obtain the consent of owners,” otherwise he predicted, “there will be a general stampede, and we will be held to be the cause of it.” (OR Series 1, vol. 34, pt. 2, 939)
  • The novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe used the term “stampede of negroes” in her 1873 publication, Palmetto-Leaves. (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Palmetto-Leaves, (Boston: J.R. Osgood and Company, 1873), 271)
  • The term “slave stampede” also appeared in an 1894 book by abolitionist Richard Hinton. Recalling a conversation with John Henry Kagi prior to John Brown’s slave insurrection at Harpers Ferry, Hinton noted that the first stage of the plan was intended to appear as “a slave stampede, or local outbreak at most.” (Richard J. Hinton, John Brown and His Men: With Some Account of the Roads they traveled to reach Harper’s Ferry, (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1894), 673)

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General Notes

  • The Cornell and Michigan Making of America databases are free and available to the public.

Database Report -Hannibal Messenger

Stampede article

Hannibal Messenger, March 19, 1857 (Courtesy of the Historical Society of Missouri)

Search Summary

  • Search conducted by Cooper Wingert between March 19-24, 2019.
  • Keywords: slave and stampede.
  • Totals: 3 hits

Top Results

  • In March 1857, the Hannibal Messenger reported on a proposed railroad between Palmyra, Missouri and Quincy, Illinois, noting fears that “if a railroad connection from Missouri was made with that place [Quincy] we might expect a general stampede of all the negroes in the State.” (“Dr. Jeter’s Letter,” Hannibal Messenger, March 19, 1857)
  • In December 1859, the paper reprinted part of a letter from the postmaster of Emerson, located in northwestern Marion County, Missouri. He noted that “a day or two since a lot of negroes in this neighborhood were making preparations for a general stampede, but the scheme was detected before they got off, and their plans defeated.” (Hannibal Messenger, December 6, 1859)
  • The paper reprinted a widely circulated report of the Margaret Garner case, describing “a stampede of slaves from the border counties of Kentucky” in late January 1856. (Hannibal Messenger, February 2, 1856)

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General Notes

  • The Hannibal Messenger is available to the public through the State Historical Society of Missouri’s digital newspapers collection.
  • The paper also reported on one of our key timeline events, the escape of a large family of slaves from St. Louis in July 1856. Although frequently referred to as a “stampede” in the press, the Hannibal Messenger simply noted that “some nine negroes ranaway from Judge Walsh… in St. Louis. A reward of $1,500 is offered for their recovery.” (Hannibal Messenger, July 19, 1856)

    Stampede article Missouri

    Hannibal Messenger, July 19, 1856

Database Report- Chronicling America

Search Summary

  • Search conducted by Naji Thompson over the course of a few weeks between December 2018 and February 2019
  • Key terms: stampede, slave + stampede
  • Results: 200+

Selected Images

Top Results

  • In 1849 the North-Carolinian ran an article titled “Slave Stampede.” On Nov. 6th or the night of Nov. 5 the 50 slaves stampeded from the Missouri side of the river shared with Illinois. It describes a stampede of around 50 slaves of “all ages and sexes.” They were overtaken, their leader was killed, and the rest were captured.
  • Anti-slavery Bugle reprinted an article from the Canton Reporter in Lewis County titled “The Great Slave Stampede in Missouri” on February 02, 1850. It tells the story of a slave stampede turned insurrection. It reads “A [sic] excitement prevails in Lewis county, in regard to the recent attempt of the negroes to run away and rise in insurrection; and as many negroes are in circulation in relation thereto, we deem it our duty to publish a true statement of the matter as it occurred.”
  • Weekly National intelligencer reprinted from the St. Louis News on May 7 commenting on the number of slave stampedes from western Missouri ending into Kansas. It also writes of organizations “enticing” enslaved people to leave Missouri and then send “them down to Indian country “to be sold to the “Cherokees and Choctaws.” The article also tells the story of 50 runways from Lafayette County. The group stole wagons, horses, and a carriage. Finally, it says in a three-week time span around 300 slaves have run away from Lafayette county.

General Notes

  • Many of the articles were not focused on actual stampedes but instead discussed slave holders’ anxiety surrounding potential stampedes. They offer insight to the rationalization of slavers, who blamed stampedes on abolitionists and the Underground Railroad. They claimed slaves were being “stolen” away.
  • In addition, a considerable number of articles centered around John Brown and the planned stampede that was supposed to accompany the failed Harper’s Ferry raid.
  • The use of advance search allowed for the considerable narrowing down of results by years and by words. One useful search method was “terms within five words of each other”. This allowed me to search for the words slave and stampede not only on the same page but also within close proximity to each other.