Henry "Box" Brown
Henry Brown was born and raised a slave in Louisa County, Virginia. He was hired out to work in the tobacco factories in Richmond, Virginia, where he met a northern sympathizer, Samuel Smith, who owned a shoemaker's shop. Through a small portion of his pay that he was allowed to keep he managed to hire his wife, also a slave and they set up a house with their children.
This very satisfactory family arrangement abruptly ended when Brown's wife and children were sold south never to be seen again. This proved to be the catalyst that motivated Brown to escape in the most ingenious of ways. He persuaded a carpenter friend to construct a wooden box that corresponded to the specifications of the local railroad company. With a small amount of money in a pig's bladder and a few biscuits he climbed into his 3-foot long, 2-foot deep, and 2-foot wide parcel that would transport him to Philadelphia, he made his escape from Richmond, Va. The 28-hour trip by rail and steamboat ended with a number of the underground railroad, including William Still, receiving and opening the parcel to welcome Henry Brown to freedom in the office of the Pennsylvania
Details of Brown's escape, whereby he he had himself shipped via Adams Express from Richmond to Philadelphia, were widely publicized in a narrative of his ordeal published under his own name in 1819. The box itself became an abolitionist metaphor for the inhumanity and spiritual suffocation of slavery. It was shown in an undated broadside published in Boston. Try sitting in the replica box and imagine.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Railroads & Streetcars • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1819.
Location. 38° 19.319′ N, 77° 30.509′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Gordon W Shelton Boulevard, 0.7 miles north of Willow Lane, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6500 Gordon W Shelton Blvd, Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Quest For Knowledge (here, next to this marker); Harriet Jacobs (here, next to this marker); Endurance Through It All (here, next to this marker); Acts of Bravery (here, next to this marker); Voices of the Present (a few steps from this marker); Abolitionists (a few steps from this marker);
Also see . . . Abandoned National Slavery Museum. Atlas Obscura article (Submitted on June 28, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 28, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 68 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 28, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.