Northward Bound by Any Means Necessary: The Story of Twenty-Eight Freedom-Seekers’ Journey from Slavery to Freedom, April 1853
The Metro Detroit Historians Collegium Presents
Rochelle E. Danquah, Wayne State University, speaking on
"Northward Bound by Any Means Necessary: The Story of Twenty-Eight Freedom-Seekers’ Journey from Slavery to Freedom, April 1853"
Description: This lecture will examine the escape of twenty-eight fugitives from Boone County, Kentucky, and the strategies they employed to make their way from slavery to freedom in 17 days on the Underground Railroad. Primary sources reveal how the group was secured—day and night—along their journey to Canada. Their escape would not have been possible without the assistance of free black settlements in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, men and women, Black and white abolitionists, and a host of Underground Railroad operatives.
Nineteenth-century newspapers referred to the group as the “Party of Twenty-Eight,” “Gang of Twenty-Eight,” “Company of Twenty-Eight,” “Cincinnati 28,” and “Escape of the 28.” In northern and southern newspapers, the 28 escapees were defined as a slave stampede. The term slave stampede started to appear in newspapers in the 1840s, as a way of identifying slaves escaping in large groups of five or more people. Most slave stampedes were unsuccessful in their attempts to escape primarily due in part to the large number of escapees, lack of planning and preparation. Whether a stampede of slaves’ actions was spontaneous or organized in their efforts to escape, they were dangerous because in some cases fugitives were armed and they would not hesitate to use deadly force to gain freedom. The story of the 28 African American fugitives demonstrates how the Underground Railroad served as a self-determination, and a rebellious act against slavery and a social reform movement—inclusive of blacks and whites, women, and men—committed to the goal of freedom, justice, and equality.
Contact Kenneth R. Shepherd at Henry Ford College for more information.