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People, Locations, Episodes

Thu, 09.11.1851

The Christiana Riot Occurs

On this date in 1851, the Christiana Resistance occurred, a race riot that was the first recorded open resistance to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.

A group of Blacks routed a band of slave catchers attempting to re-enslave escaped slaves in Christiana, PA. This incident happened at the home of William Parker an escaped slave.  One white was killed and one wounded. Afterward, there was a great public outcry from both the North and South.

Frederick Douglass viewed the violence at Christiana as having a special moral and political significance because the event was evidence of Black strength. Violent resistance and Black courage and determination were exhibited on a national stage through this episode.  White southern editors expressed anger and shock.

Both positions had intense opinions about slavery in America in the years prior to the American Civil War.


Beyond Confederation:
Origins of the Constitution and American National Identity.
Richard Beeman, Stephen Boorstein,
and Edward C. Carter, II, eds.
Chapel Hill, NC:
University of North Carolina Press, 1987.

Reclamation of Fugitives from Service:
An Argument for the Defendant,
Salmon Portland Chase,
Submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, at the December Term, 1846, in the case of Wharton Hones vs. John Vanzandt 1847.
Freeport, NY:
Books for Libraries Press, 1971.

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

America, it is to thee, Thou boasted land of liberty,- It is to thee I raise my song Thou land of blood, and crime, and wrong. It is to thee, my native land,... THE FOERUNNERS (from America) by James M. Whitfield.
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