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Taking place on October 1, 1851, the Jerry Rescue involved the daring, public rescue of a fugitive slave who had been arrested the same day, in Syracusemarker, New Yorkmarker, during the anti-slavery Liberty Party's state convention.

William Henry was a 40-year-old cooper and an escaped slave from Missourimarker who called himself "Jerry". On 1 October 1851, he was arrested in Syracuse under the Fugitive Slave Law. The anti-slavery Liberty Party was holding its state convention in the city, and the arrest was considered a message that the locally unpopular Fugitive Slave Law would be seriously enforced by federal authorities. Then Secretary of State Daniel Webster had warned in earlier 1851 that the law would be enforced even "here in Syracuse in the midst of the next Anti-Slavery Convention." When word of the arrest spread, several hundred abolitionists broke into the city jail and freed Jerry and the event came to be widely known as the "Jerry Rescue".

Following his rescue, Henry was hidden in Syracuse for several days until he was taken first to Mexico, New Yorkmarker and then to Oswegomarker where he crossed Lake Ontariomarker into Canadamarker. 26 of the rescuers were tried for their actions but only one conviction resulted. The suspects were bailed out by a number of people including a then U.S. Senator and former governor of New York William H. Seward. Nine others, including Rev. J. W. Loguen, himself a fugitive slave, were charged but fled to Canada.

The event was commemorated in the 1850s with the renaming of a building (The Jerry Rescue Building, no longer standing) and now is now memorialized with a monument in Syracuse.

See also



References

  1. Fergus M. Bordewich. Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. Amistad, 2005. p. 333. ISBN 978-0060524302
  2. "The Jerry Rescue." at New York History Net. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  3. Fergus M. Bordewich. Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. Amistad, 2005. p. 339. ISBN 978-0060524302
  4. "The 'Jerry Rescue' Building" at Syracuse Then and Now. Retrieved 15 August 2009.



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