From Unspeakable Tragedy To Astounding Creativity

September 3, 2019

Henry Brown stood helpless, watching 350 enslaved people being marched toward their new master’s plantation.

Among them? His wife, their three children - and one more still unborn. As his tears fell and wet the dirt, his resolve quickened - no matter how difficult or dangerous, he would do everything he could to rid himself of the chains that bound him. 

An uncommonly creative man, Henry had a bizarre idea. The U.S. Postal Service’s use of trains to deliver mail had expanded due to the 1848 Gold Rush in California. Could a box - just large enough for a man to fit - be shipped via train from Virginia to Philadelphia?

Henry was crammed into the tiny box, with only a small amount of water and some crackers, and sent along. His perilous journey lasted 27 hours.

Upon arrival in Philadelphia, Brown emerged from the box with iconic poise, addressing everyone: “How do you do, gentlemen?” 

He then sang a Biblical Psalm. He was dubbed “Box” Brown.

“Box” Brown toured the world as a free man for the rest of his life, recounting his story, presenting a moving “panorama” detailing the evils of slavery to enraptured audiences, and eventually writing two memoirs. 

Unspeakable tragedy can sometimes inspire the greatest creativity - and “Box” Brown’s example shows us how it sometimes takes doing the impossible to escape the abominable!

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