Monday, April 7, 2008

Crafts in Boston

After arriving in Philadelphia on December 25th 1848 William and Ellen spent 3 weeks with the Ivens family. The Crafts then decided to move to Boston, Massachusetts knowing they would be safer there then in Philadelphia. Once in Boston they were assisted by abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Parker, and William Welles Brown (a fugitive slave). Their daring escape was the topic of in abolitionist discussion and Brown arranged for the Crafts to make appearances at their meetings in which an admission fee was charged. This admission fee was given to William and Ellen to help them to settle in Boston in a free black community on Beacon Hill. William having been apprenticed as a cabinetmaker by his former master continued this line of work and furniture shop which became a thriving business. Ellen having been a household servant and familiar with needlepoint developed her skills and assisted William in upholstery of furniture in the shop. The Crafts spent two years in Boston in relative harmony, they had their marriage sanctioned by a Christian church and settled down to a life of freedom.

During this time congress was attempting to hold the union together, California and Texas were territories recently acquired and were petitioning to join the union as free states. The slave states wishing to keep a balance between free and slave states were in an uproar over this. They would lose the balance of representatives in congress if this occurred. In order to appease the slave states the Compromise of 1850 was proposed by Henry Clay and on January 29th. 1950 the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted. The Fugitive Slave law allowed slave owners to recover escaped slaves in the free states and required authorities in the free states to assist in enforcing the law. While this compromise kept the Union intact it was the end of freedom to blacks living in the north.

Shortly after the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted two slave catchers, Willis Hughes and John Knight, were dispatched by William and Ellen’s former masters with warrants for their arrest. Once again the Crafts had to flee to remain free. William and Ellen decide to go to England not feeling that Canada would be safe. Abolitionists helped them to escape Boston. The authorities and slave catchers would be watching the ports so it was necessary for them to flee to Portland, Maine. In Portland they stayed with Daniel Oliver until leaving for St. John, New Brunswick. From St. John’s they took a steamer to Windsor Nova Scotia and then a coach to Halifax, Nova Scotia. They were the subject of racism and prejudice during flight from America but finally reached England.

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