On May 24, 1854, federal marshals arrested Anthony Burns, a fugitive from slavery, in Boston.His arrest touched off protests by abolitionists across the city.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, part of the Compromise of 1850, stated that all escaped enslaved people had to be returned to their owners and that all free states had to abide by this law. In Boston, federal authorities tested this new law in 1854 with the arrest of Anthony Burns.
Burns, who was born into slavery in Virginia, had escaped to Boston, where he found work first at a pie company, and later at a clothing dealer. Shortly after arriving in Boston, Burns wrote a letter
to his brother. The letter was intercepted by his owner Charles F. Suttle, who
then traveled north lay claim to Burns. After federal marshals captured Burns on May 24, Burns’ case went to federal court.
Anthony Burns Trial led many Bostonians to question and protest the Fugitive Slave Act. The city erupted in protests, and was put under martial law. The documents pictured above give
us a rough idea of how much money the government spent for the
cavalry, troops, and ammunition used to control the protesters.
On June 2nd, federal authorities escorted Burns the ship that would return him to an enslaved life in Virginia, while thousands of
Bostonians who opposed slavery lined the streets, booing, and hissing.
After Burns ‘ return to Virginia, the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury raised money to free Anthony Burns. On
February 22, 1855, a year after the trial, he returned to Massachusetts as a
free man. He went on to study at Oberlin College and later became a Baptist preacher in
the Anthony Burns case, 1854-1855, Early Records #5, Folder 7, Boston City Archives
“Come on Ally.
It’s been three days.
” Jr said, as they walked down separate rows of books in the library. “Haven’t you made a decision yet? I need to know if I got to start calling you Aunt Ally or Auntie A or A.A or…”
“Shut up Jr. I’ll make up my mind when you stop running away from Negan every time he comes into the room.” Ally said, grabbing a book off the shelf.
“Soooo” Jr said, popping his head through an opening on the shelf, making Ally jump. “Never?” Ally shoved his head back through the other side. “Ahhh jerk…”
“..Off” Ally said as she went back to looking at other books. “I just want to make sure I make the right choice, you know?”
“I know you told me you’ll bang him five ways till Sunday before I told you he was my godfather.” Jr said, going to the row Ally was in. “Which was super gross by the way.”
“Yeah, will I’m still sorry about that.” Ally said, giving him a sad face.
“No your not.” Jr said, crossing his arms.
“No, I’m not.” Ally said, shaking her head as she smile. “I just don’t want to screw things up if I end up.. liking him.”
“But you do like him.” Jr said.
“No I mean, like him, like him.” Ally said as they took a seat at a table.
“You mean..” Jr said, leaning back in his seat. “..fall in love with him?”