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  • Broadcast in Culture
Gist of Freedom

Gist of Freedom


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Join The Gist of Freedom as we discuss Black Abolitionists and their rescues from Benjamin Quarles book, "Black Abolitionists" Chapter 4.
Rev. Samuel Ringgold Ward and Frederick Douglass established the first black American labor union The American League of Colored Laborers (ALCL)  It was formed in New York City in 1850 as a collective for skilled free craftsmen, and sought to develop agricultural and industrial arts skills among its members, and to encourage African American business.
The same year, The Slavers passed a the Fugitive Slave Law which targeted Black Abolitionists. The new law deputized and paid anyone who helped capture and enslave a Free black they suspected of being a fugitive, run-away slave. The law arrested anyone involved in the rescue of a "suspected fugitive slave".

Ward a well known abolitionist, became involved in the rescue of a fugitive slave, William "Jerry" Henry
October 1, federal marshals accompanied by the local police, arrested William "Jerry" Henry. Word of the arrest quickly reached the Convention, then in session at a nearby church.

We are here in the most extraordinary circumstances," ex-slave Samuel Ward," told a gathering. "We are witnessing such a sight as, I pray, we may never look upon again. A man in chains, in Syracuse! ... What a term to apply to an American! How does this sound beneath the pole of liberty and the flag of freedom?

By pre-arranged signal, church bells began ringing, and a crowd of Negroes and Whites gathered With a battering ram the door was broken in and despite pistol shots out the window by one of the deputy marshals, it became clear that the crowd was too large and determined to be resisted. The crowd broke into the jail and forced the marshals to free William "Jerry" Henry.