escape from slavery

Follow the Drinking Gourd

old fashioned drawing of a black man
” A Ride for Liberty” by Eastman Johnson, image courtesy of Brooklyn Museum. A note on the back of this 1862 painting was written by the artist: “A veritable incident in the civil war seen by myself at Centerville.”

Loudoun County, Virginia’s Thomas Balch archives library, has an active Black History committee. Among much information, their website lists “Runaway Slave Ads” published in a Leesburg newspaper during the years 1817-1842. The numerous ads, including these three, were cataloged by local historian Bronwen Souders:

Courtesy of Black History Education Resources, Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA.
Courtesy of Black History Education Resources, Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA
Courtesy of Black History Education Resources, Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA

At least one of these ads has a happy ending. Amos Norris turns up years later in an anecdote told by Philadelphia Quaker Dillwyn Parrish, and recorded in Dr. Glenn Crothers’ book Living in the Lion’s Mouth excerpt below:

“In 1860 a Pennsylvania Quaker wrote of visiting Niagara Falls, in New York state. The Quaker was approached by “a colored man” who asked him if he “was from Loudoun County, Virginia.” The Quaker was told he “resembled Mr. Samuel Janney.” The black man, Amos Norris, recognized the Quaker’s clothes and manner of dress. Mr. Norris explained he had fled slavery from Loudoun County and was now living in Canada. The fact that Amos Norris recognized and approached a Quaker shows how common it was for slaves to seek out Quakers for helpful support.”
 Quakers Living in the Lion’s Mouth . Crothers, A. Glenn. University Press of Florida, 2012: pg. 204.

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