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Sun, 01.12.1845

Abolitionist is Branded a ‘Slave Stealer’

Jonathan Walker

On this date from 1845, we recall the branding of a Slave Stealer, Massachusetts’s sea captain, Jonathan Walker.

Walker, a white abolitionist born in 1790, was arrested in 1844 for trying to carry slaves who were members of his church to freedom in the Bahamas. He was apprehended off the coast of Florida. He was jailed for more than a year and branded with the letters “S.S.” for Slave Stealer.

The abolitionist poet John Greenleaf Whittier immortalized Walker's deed in this often reprinted verse: “Then lift that manly right hand, bold ploughman of the wave! Its branded palm shall prophesy, ‘Salvation to the Slave!’”

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