The illustration shows a somewhat comic yet sympathetic portrayal of the culminating episode in the flight of slave Henry "Box" Brown, "who escaped from Richmond Va. in a Box 3 feet long, 2-1/2 ft. deep and 2 ft. wide." In the office of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, the young Brown is seen emerging from a crate as several figures, including Frederick Douglass (holding a claw hammer at left) look on. Brown shipped himself, via the Adams Express, from Richmond to Philadelphia to reach freedom. His story was widely publicized in a narrative of his ordeal published under his own name in 1849. The box itself became an abolitionist metaphor for the inhumanity and spiritual suffocation of slavery.
- How did Henry “Box” Brown escape from slavery?
- How does the image represent the inhumanity and spiritual suffocation of slavery?
- What does the image of Henry “Box” Brown suggest about how people traveled on the Underground Railroad?
"The resurrection of Henry Box Brown at Philadelphia, who escaped from Richmond Va. in a bx 3 feet long 2 1/2 ft. deep and 2 ft wide," 1850. Courtesy of Library of Congress