Henry 'Box' Brown

Henry 'Box' Brown was an escaped slave famed for mailing himself in a small crate from Virginia to Philadelphia in 1849; a journey that lasted twenty seven hours.

See below to learn more about Henry 'Box' Brown.
Date of Birth and Masters:
Born in Virginia in 1816, Henry 'Box' Brown was separated from his family at the age of thirteen on the death of his master, John Barrett. Expecting to be emancipated but instead given to his son, William, Henry 'Box' Brown worked for his new master in a tobacco factory.

Spouse:
In approximately 1836 Henry 'Box' Brown was given permission to marry Nancy, a slave owned by another master, on the basis that their respective owners would not sell them. However, after one year of marriage, Nancy's master broke his word and Nancy was sold to another slave owner. In order to keep his family from being separated again, Henry 'Box' Brown paid her current master to retain her and used his 'overwork' money to rent a house for his wife and three children. However, in 1848 Nancy and the children were sold and shipped to North Carolina.

Though it is said that he later made enough money to purchase his family, he later married an English woman named Jane and had three children with her; Agnes, Edward and Annie.

Escape:
After his family were sold, Henry 'Box' Brown decided to escape. He drilled three small gimlet holes into a crate for air, ensuring that 'right side up with care' was clearly displayed on the side. Henry 'Box' Brown paid Samuel Smith, a slave owner, to assist him with the escape, who in turn  made contact with James Miller McKim of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, advising them to expect Henry 'Box' Brown's arrival.

The journey was hazardous; not only was the box hot and uncomfortable, on one occasion Henry 'Box' Brown was stored on his head for two hours until workers righted him again. The box was roughly handled, rolled and sometimes upside down, but eventually he reached Philadelphia on 24 March 1849. Though he initially fainted when helped out of confinement, he was later said to have burst in to song.

Later Life:
Fearing capture due to the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act, Henry 'Box' Brown moved to Liverpool, England in October 1850, where he performed various panoramas, magic and hypnotism.

In 1875, Annie and Jane accompanied Henry 'Box' Brown back to America, where he continued his panoramas and magic acts, but there is little information on Henry 'Box' Brown past this year.


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