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!