John Anderson, fugitive slave and killer of slave owner

2016     1″

In 1850, after being sold away from his wife and children, John Anderson ran away from his new owner. A few days into his cavale, John was stopped by Seneca Diggs, a slave owner in the fields overseeing his slaves. When John could not present a pass giving him permission to travel outside his master’s property, Diggs accused him of being a runaway. A chase ensured which ended with John stabbing Diggs to death and convincing Diggs’s slaves to let him go.

John eventually made it out of Missouri and all the way to Canada. After living five years underground, he was ratted out and put on trial for the murder of Diggs. The North American abolitionist movement managed to put enough pressure on the Canadian government that the courts affirmed their position that slavery was an illegal institution and ruled that one had the right to escape it by any means.

Following his acquittal, John lived in London, England for a year—hanging out in abolitionist circles and giving talks. John eventually settled in Liberia, Africa, a cool 5,500 miles away from his former master.



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