What can we learn about both slavery and abolition in the nineteenth century?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The book Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom by the former fugitive slave couple William and Ellen Craft describes a world full of strife for African Americans and people of mixed race. Ellen’s life demonstrated the possibility of an individual being held as a slave by masters who they shared close family ties with, as was the case when she was gifted to her half-sister. Even though Ellen closely resembled members of the white community and the white side of her family, she was still regarded as a slave. However her looks were later to play a major role in her escape with her husband. She dressed as a white slave owner and her husband posed as a slave as they made a successful escape to the North.

The Fugitive Slave Act exposed them to the danger of recapture but due to the strength of the biracial abolitionist movement, the couple was protected until they made their final escape to Europe. Europe at the time was an anti-slavery region with much activity geared toward abolition, and the situation offered a safe haven to the duo. America was struggling with slavery and even undoing some of the progress toward total abolition. However, biracial abolitionist movements were still fighting for their cause in the United States, especially in the North.

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