The Keziah Affair, 1858

During the 1850s, with increasing desperation, the white population of the Upper South witnessed the success of slaves escaping North, both through individual exploits and organized efforts such as the Underground Railroad. In 1855 the Norfolk Southern Argus wrote that the “frequent escapes of fugitives from our port” were “an intolerable evil.” The next year the Virginia General Assembly required that all ships leaving the state for the North had to be inspected. With this heightened scrutiny and white anger came increasing resourcefulness on the part of slaves and their allies assisting in their escape.
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