Students interns on our project have been producing a series of short video documentaries, each 2 to 4 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.
One of the very first mass escape attempts from Missouri identified as a “slave stampede” by the national press. This video describes the story of that failed attempt in 1849 and provides background on the origins of the term.
This video explores how eight enslaved young men, described in vivid detail by their runaway ads, lost their chance for freedom when they were tricked and betrayed by residents of Illinois.
A long-overlooked diary entry from an Illinois Underground Railroad operative provides the key for understanding this successful 1853 group escape of eleven enslaved people from Palmyra, Missouri.
This video details the mounting frustration among pro-slavery forces in Missouri when two separate large groups of enslaved African American families managed to escape from their bondage successfully in November 1854.
This documentary short profiles the role of Underground Railroad operative Mary Meachum in an attempt to free several enslaved people from St. Louis in the spring of 1855. Meachum was arrested but prosecutors dropped the charges against her. Today, people in the city annually commemorate her efforts (and the sacrifices of the captured enslaved families) at the Freedom Crossing site by the Mississippi River.
Have you ever heard of Dr. John Doy? He was an ally of John Brown who also attempted to liberate enslaved families in 1859. Like Brown, Doy was captured, but his family and friends succeeded in rescuing him from a Missouri prison.
This video highlights a successful stampede of more than ten freedom seekers from LaGrange, Missouri who eventually joined up in Chicago with about another twenty more runaways from three states, before they presumably escaped to Canada. Yet all of this happened in November 1859, just weeks after John Brown’s failed raid at Harpers Ferry, Virginia.
This video tells the forgotten story behind the last attempt to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law in Chicago. The result of the rendition of the Harris family in April 1861 was a so-called “stampede” of free black residents and former runaways in the city toward Canada.
In November 1862, a group of enslaved Missourians slipped behind Union lines to secure their freedom. Their slaveholders tried to recapture them but ultimately, local German American immigrants and Union army officials rallied to protect their freedom. This video provides helpful context in understanding wartime contraband, confiscation and emancipation policies as they evolved on the ground.