They Were Finally Free - Until A New Law Re-Enslaved Them

Slave-owner shooting a fugitive drawing
Abeni Jones
February 10, 2020

California was supposed to be the Wild West land of opportunity during the Gold Rush, a non-slave state where ANYONE could strike it rich and be free.

But white supremacy had other plans.

In 1851, three enslaved men were brought to California to toil in search of gold: Carter and Robert Perkins, and Sandy Jones.

But the men were left stranded when their owner’s venture was a complete failure - despite being based on free labor! He slunk back to Mississippi in disgrace.

Before he left, Carter, Robert, and Sandy struck a deal with him: if they worked for six more months, they’d earn their freedom. Though it was extremely risky for them to put their trust in a white man, the agreement was made.

Once free, the industrious men created their own extremely successful hauling business - but their former owner heard about it and became jealous.

When California’s 1852 Fugitive Slave Act passed, he could go back on his pact and recapture the men. And that’s exactly what he did. 

They were re-enslaved, and sent back to Mississippi - but that wasn’t the end of their story!

Happily, according to some reports, the three men escaped by boat and found freedom in Central America!

Their story reminds us that not everyone deserves our trust, and that our ancestors could never take freedom for granted. Hell, neither can we.

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