300 Black Abolitionists Pressured The Sheriff To Set Him Free

slave in chains yelling
Briona Lamback
November 22, 2021

Deeply in love – but enslaved – George and Rebecca Latimer had to escape to freedom. A steamship was leaving from Virginia to Boston … and they hatched a dangerous plan.

The couple stealthily snuck aboard the steamship. After a grueling journey, they arrived in Boston – and to FREEDOM! 

Unfortunately, it didn’t last. Once in Boston, Latimer was recognized and his former captor, James Gray, was informed of his whereabouts. Gray set off for Boston, had Latimer arrested, and demanded his "property" be taken back to Virginia.

Word spread throughout Boston, and an assembly of 300 Black men gathered to demand Latimer’s freedom. These men pressured the local sheriff’s office, stating that the arrest was unjust because Massachusetts was a free state. The sheriff agreed!

Outraged by his “loss,” Gray demanded payment. Local community members raised funds to purchase Latimer from Gray, with Latimer being officially freed in 1842 by a Boston judge. 

Latimer’s case forever changed Massachusetts law, and because of he and his community's resilience, they were able to turn their communal perseverance into action: by the time the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law came to pass, they already had “Anti-Fugitive Slave” laws in Massachusetts.

Like Latimer and his community we must persevere in our fight for individual and collective freedom.  By building community, we can overcome nearly any obstacle in our  fight against white supremacy!

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