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Digital Bookshelf: Letters and Diaries

William Padgett to Edward Gorsuch, August 28, 1851

Original Citation
William Padgett to Edward Gorsuch, August 28, 1851, reprinted in Thomas P. Slaughter, Bloody Dawn: The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 18-19.


William Padgett was a white man who belonged to a group of kidnappers and slave catchers from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania called The Gap Gang. In this letter from August 1851, Padgett informs Maryland slaveholder Edward Gorsuch about the location of four male slaves who had been missing from the Gorsuch plantation for nearly two years. Note how Padgett (who signs his letter, "William M.P.") warns Gorsuch to "come as a hunter, disguised," suggesting that he anticipated danger from the fugitives and their defenders.


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I have the required information of four men that is within two miles of each other. Now, the best is for you to come as a hunter, disguised about two days ahead of your son and let him come by way of Philadelphia and get the deputy marshal, John Nagle I think is his name. Tell him the situation and he can get force of the right kind. It will take about twelve so that they can divide and take them all within half an hour. Now, if you can come on the 2nd or 3rd of September come on & I will meet you at the gap when you get there. Inquire for Benjamin Clay's tavern. Let your son and the marshal get out [at?] Kinyer's [sic] hotel. Now, if you cannot come at the time spoken of, write very soon and let me know when you can. I wish you to come as soon as you possibly can.

Very respectfully thy friend
William M.P.

Citation for this page

"William Padgett to Edward Gorsuch, August 28, 1851," Underground Railroad Digital Classroom, Dickinson College, 2008,


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