Henry Box Brown Fact 1: Henry Brown was born in Louisa County, Virginia in the United States of America in 1816. He was born into slavery and later received the nickname "Box".
Henry Box Brown Fact 2: Henry "Box" Brown wrote his own autobiography called 'Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown'. The following quote describes his thoughts regarding his risky escape, 'if you have never been deprived of your liberty, as I was, you cannot realize the power of that hope of freedom, which was to me indeed, an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast.'
Henry Box Brown Fact 3: Many slave owners were very cruel but Henry Box Brown's owner was an exception, he was a kind man and the following quote from Henry's autobiography describes his master's character: 'Our master was uncommonly kind, (for even a slaveholder may be kind) and as he moved about in his dignity he seemed like a god to us, but notwithstanding his kindness although he knew very well what superstitious notions we formed him, he never made the least attempt to correct our erroneous impression, but rather seemed pleased with the reverential feelings which we entertained towards him.'
Henry Box Brown Fact 4: Henry "Box" Brown married a woman who was also a slave, together they had three children. Their children were born into slavery. The family lived in a house in Richmond, Virginia as Henry worked at a tobacco factory in the area.
Henry Box Brown Fact 5: His master sold Henry's wife and children to another slave owner. After this happened, he received a vision advising him to 'mail himself to a place where there are no slaves.'
Henry Box Brown Fact 6: A white man called James C.A. Smith helped Henry Box Brown to plan his escape from slavery. They planned to do this by shipping him to an American state, free from slavery.
Henry Box Brown Fact 7: He paid $86 to Adams Express Company. With the advice of members of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, he decided to mail himself (in a box) to a Quaker merchant called Passmore Williamson's office.
Henry Box Brown Fact 8: On the day that Henry Box Brown escaped, he had to come up with a very good excuse not to work. He burned his hand severely with sulphuric acid.Henry Box Brown Fact 13: Henry Box Brown was introduced to another well-known former slave called Frederick Douglass. Henry Brown spoke of his escape and much to Frederick Douglass's annoyance, he revealed how he had escaped successfully by express delivery. This revelation spoiled future escapes by the same method. Later in 1849, Samuel Smith tried to help other slaves to escape but they were found and arrested.
Henry Box Brown Fact 9: The box that Henry Brown escaped in was 2 feet wide by 2 feet 8 inches high. A small hole was cut into the box for air and the box itself was lined with woollen cloth. The box was nailed together and straps were used to help tie it securely. Instructions such as 'handle with care' and 'this way up' were placed on the box.
Henry Box Brown Fact 10: His journey by box took approximately 27 hours. Henry "Box" Brown took a few biscuits and some water for his long journey which involved traveling by wagon, railroad, steamboat and ferry. Sometimes the box was handled roughly and even placed upside down!
Henry Box Brown Fact 11: Henry "Box" Brown managed to escape successfully. He arrived at the Quaker Merchant's office on March 30th, 1849 by express delivery. When he rose from the box, he greeted the members of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee with, 'How do you do gentlemen?'
Henry Box Brown Fact 12: His nickname 'Box' was given to him because he managed to escape from slavery via a box. The nickname was given to him at an antislavery convention in Boston in 1849.
Henry Box Brown Fact 14: Henry Box Brown moved to England after the Fugitive Slave Law was released in 1850. The new law states that enforcement officials should capture refugee slaves even in Free states. In Great Britain, he visited places all over and became a well-known speaker for anti-slavery.
Henry Box Brown Fact 15: The last record of Henry Box Brown comes from a newspaper report about a performance he gave on February 26th, 1889 in Ontario in Canada. There are no records of his death - neither the date, location nor cause.
Short Facts about Henry Box Brown for Kids
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