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N.C. fugitive slave: So near and yet so far

“In the more closely monitored waters of Boston Harbor, individual fugitives had no opportunity to be Cinques and Washingtons [slaves who went free after revolts at sea], and their friends on the shore could do little to help.

“In June 1841 John Torrence, a fugitive from North Carolina, was discovered on a Boston-bound ship, but to the dismay of the city’s black and white antislavery folk could not be rescued from the chains and guards surrounding him in the harbor. The best they could do was to have the ship’s mate, who was foolish enough to stay behind when the ship left port, charged with kidnapping.”

– From “More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889″  by Stephen Kantrowitz (2012)