Henry "Box" Brown

Henry "Box" Brown is a face of freedom. He shipped himself out of slavery, inspiring many others to become creative in their ways of escape.

1816-01-01 00:00:00


Henry "Box" Brown was born in Louisa County, Virginia. He was bon into slavery. The exact date is not recorded anywhere.

1831-01-01 00:00:00

Sent to Richmond, VA

Henry is sent to work in a tobacco plantation. He is 15.

1848-01-01 00:00:00

Wife and Children Sold

Henry Brown's wife, Nancy, who is pregnant with their fourth child, is sold along with their three other children to a plantation in North Carolina.

1849-01-01 00:00:00

"Heavenly" Vision

Henry was infuriated by the sale of his wife and children. Desperate to escape, he received a "heavenly" vision telling him to ship himself to freedom.

1849-01-01 13:47:31


Using the help of James C. A. Smith, a free black, and Samuel A. Smith, a white shoemaker, he arranged to have himself mailed to Philadelphia. Brown would be mailed by Adams Express Company, a company known for its efficiency and confidentiality.

1849-07-27 10:48:12


The exact dates are not know, but after Henry escaped slavery he became an abolitionist speaker, touring around the New England region sharing his story of escape. He soon lost the respect of the abolitionist community, especially Frederick Douglass, who wished Henry had kept quiet about his escape so others could do the same.

1850-09-18 15:12:21

Congress Passes Law

In 1850, congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law which lets Northern officials capture runaway slaves and return them to the South. Henry "Box" Brown feels threatened by the new law so he leaves for England. He lives in England for 25 years.

1875-01-01 15:12:21

Back to America

Henry "Box" Brown returns to America with his new family. In England, Brown toured with an anti-slavery panorama as a mesmerist and a showman.

1889-02-26 04:37:17


The date and location of Henry “Box” Brown’s death are unknown. The last record of Henry Brown is a newspaper report of a performance by him at Brantford, Ontario, Canada dated February 26, 1889.

Henry "Box" Brown

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