Ellen Craft

4.8 Ellen Craft: A First Class Escape

Ellen Craft: A First Class Escape

Many slaves who ran away ended up sneaking through the woods at night. They were cold, wet, and hungry, heart thumping, ears ever strained for the sound of men or dogs in pursuit. But Ellen Craft managed her escape differently. For her it was first class trains and steamers and hotels all the way. Listen to hear how she disguised herself as a white, slave-owning man and ran over a thousand miles to freedom.

Selected Sources and Images

My major source for this episode in William Craft’s own Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery. The entire text is here from Project Gutenberg. It was originally published under his name, but I’ll just add that more recent commentators have argued that Ellen contributed quite a bit and should have had her name on it too. It’s an easy read, though very Victorian, with frequent bursts of poetry.

If you’d rather skip the poetry, you can try the Smithsonian Magazine’s article on Ellen. Or the National Park Service’s article on her. Or the BBC’s article on the new plaque going up in England on her former home.

For the publication of the book, Ellen reprised her role as a white man in this picture. However, she did not do the jaw bandages as they decided it wouldn’t look as good in a picture.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

William Craft in his new life of freedom

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

New recognition from English Heritage

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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