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Henry Box Brown

Henry Box Brown

Henry Box Brown


Henry Brown was born a slave in 1815 in Virginia. He spent his early life on a rural tobacco plantation. In 1830 he was moved to Richmond.
He married a fellow slave and they had three children. One day the owner of his wife decided to sell her and the children to a different slave owner and they were sent to North Carolina.
It was then that Brown determined to escape from slavery. He decided to send himself by mail to one of the northern states, where there was no slavery. At the end of March 1849 with the help of a friendly merchant Henry packed himself in a wooden box which was sent by Adams Express Company, known for its efficiency and confidentiality. Brown took food and some water with him. During the trip his box was transported by wagon, railroad, steamboat, wagon again, railroad, ferry, railroad, and finally delivery wagon.

Henry Box Brown

He survived the journey. It should be noted that Adams Express Company worked great. A day and three hours later the box arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was met by James McKim, a noted Philadelphia abolitionist.
Unfortunately, he told about the details of his escape and was criticized by many other slaves and abolitionists, who believed that Brown should have kept his mouth shut, that other slaves could use the same method of escape.
Later Henry moved to England and lived there for 25 years. He toured with anti-slavery panorama and became a mesmerist and showman. He married an English woman, Jane Floyd.
In 1875, he returned to the US where he performed as a magician, speaker, and mesmerist.
Henry Brown died on June 15, 1897 in Toronto.
In 2012, Louisa County set a historical marker honoring Henry Box Brown and his escape from slavery.
The Unboxing of Henry Brown (2003) is a biography by Jeffrey Ruggles.
Tony Kushner wrote a play entitled Henry Box Brown, which premiered in 2010.
Doug Peterson wrote a historical novel based on Henry Brown called The Disappearing Man (2011).

Henry Box Brown

Henry Box Brown

Henry Box Brown

Henry Box Brown


The Henry Box Brown Play

The Henry Box Brown Play