Tide Turns Case 2

Resisting with their Feet

From their arrival at Jamestown in 1619 to the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865, enslaved people resisted slavery’s enforcement and sought its destruction. They did so in numerous ways, from slowing the pace of work to outright revolts, such as those led by Gabriel Prosser and Nat Turner.

But it was the image of the runaway slave that perhaps most captured the American imagination and concerned white slaveholders. By the 1850s, how states could and should legally handle African Americans escaping their enslavement had become a national issue. The central conflict revolved around support for and resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act that forced free Americans to assist in the capture of runaways. Posters like this one from Springfield are part of that long history of oppression but also reveal an African American family actively seeking their own freedom.

AV-LB2204 – Springfield Runaway Poster


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