AND ELLEN CRAFT
Though William and Ellen Craft contributed one of the most thrilling and compelling narratives of escape from slavery, theirs is the story of a lifetime of political activity and social involvement. Both were born slaves in Georgia before being brought to Macon, Georgia, where they met in the 1840s and married sometime near 1846. 1 By 1848, they had formulated their plan to escape to the north. Ellen, who had a very fair complexion, would pose as a male slave owner accompanied by her servant William. The 1,000-mile trip north from Macon to Philadelphia was relatively brief and ultimately successful. They basically used public conveyances, financed by William’s apprentice work as a carpenter and employment as a waiter in a local hotel, traveling by train, boat, and carriage from Macon through Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington, Richmond, Washington, and Baltimore before arriving four days later at the farm of Quaker supporters just outside of Philadelphia.
The ingenuity of their escape was widely publicized in both the proslavery and antislavery press. The Liberator notes that “We would look in vain through the most trying times of our revolutionary history...for an incident of courage and noble daring to equal that of the escape of William and Ellen Craft; and future historians and poets would tell this story as one of the most thrilling in the nation’s annals.” 2
They became involved with the antislavery lecture circuit and often shared the platform with William Wells Brown. Though the Crafts relocated to Boston in 1849, they still, under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850,