There were many means used by southern slaves to gain their freedom in the pre-Civil War South. Henry Brown, 200 pounds, had himself shipped from Virginia to Pennsylvania in a box 3 feet long, 2 feet-3 inches deep and not quite 2 feet wide. James Miller McKim, an abolitionist and father of the famous architect Charles McKim, accepted delivery. Despite the fact that the box was marked “this side up”, Brown found himself upside down on several occasions.
The New York Historical Society, in recognition of Black History Month, has made available to the New York Times Mr. McKim’s account of Brown’s arrival. The letter, which describes how Henry Brown spent 27 hours in his specially made box, can also be read at the New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West.
A New York Times article on the subject is available online.
-posted by Ed G., Reference Librarian