Fleeing Enslavement Via Boat
Original Author: John Osler, engraver
Created: 1872; 1879 edition shown
Medium: Engraving

Fleeing Enslavement Via Boat

This engraving, published in William Still's The Underground Rail Road (1872), depicts the nighttime arrival by boat of fifteen self-emancipated enslaved people at League Island, in Philadelphia, in July 1856. Their journey from Norfolk was treacherous—authorities searched the schooner en route north, and upon landing on the island, the passengers had to scramble up a steep embankment. From there, several members of the party traveled to Boston and then New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Still worked as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society beginning in 1847 and later for the city's Vigilance Committee. At great personal risk, he kept careful records of the many African Americans he and others in Philadelphia helped along the Underground Railroad. These records became the basis for his book.

Citation: The Underground Rail Road. A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, &c., Narrating the Hardships Hair-breadth Escapes and Death Struggles of the Slaves in their efforts for Freedom, as Related by Themselves and Others, or Witnessed by the Author; Together with Sketches of Some of the Largest Stockholders, and Most Liberal Aiders and advisers, of the Road. E 450 .S85 1879. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA