- Phillips’ plan for rescuing Anthony Burns was about as vague as Higginson’s; both strategies essentially relied on the masses to create a sense of confusion, thereby causing the men who held Burns in captivity to be overwhelmed. At that point, both plans are unclear as to exactly how events would unfold, but each ended with the triumphant Bostonians whisking off a newly freed Burns. However, the fact that these men were not working together actually ended up working against both of their plots. Although Phillips proposed waiting until the next day to force the Southerners to escort Burns during the daylight hours, Higginson’s plan called for action under the cover of darkness. When Higginson’ plan failed, however, it effectively doomed Phillips’ as well; officers from the Boston and Columbian Artillery were called in overnight and were able to ready themselves against further attack.
- The fact that the Northerners were unsuccessful in their attempt at rescuing Anthony Burns actually wound up working in their favor. When Burns was hauled back to Virginia despite the obvious protests of the Bostonians, this became a unifying rallying point for the abolitionists. The fact that several men were arrested, combined with the fact that the mayor himself warned that “sufficient force was in readiness to preserve the public peace,” may have kept the crowds from turning violent but also perfectly played into one of the main arguments against slavery by the North. They were virtually handed proof of the fact that the Southern institution of slavery was impeding on their rights as U.S. citizens. In addition, the massive controversy surrounding the sensational case made the newspapers, thus further spreading their cause.
- It could quite possibly be Burn’s composed demeanor that helped propel him to the forefront of the abolitionist movement. Because he did not put up a fight or savagely strike out against his captors, it was impossible to portray him as a dangerous or vile man. Instead, he became even more of a victim, seen by the public (at least in the North) as a man who was wrongfully snatched off the streets on false charges and forced back into slavery. In a way, his relative silence allowed the abolitionists to paint his public portrait in a way that best served their cause. Burns himself was a figure forlornly looking out the window at those who were protesting his captivity, and the Northerners applied the rhetoric that would most strongly reinforce their ideals. Finally, the fact that Burns tried to do the right thing once he had been given his freedom further ended up thrusting him into the national spotlight. Although he was just following tradition by requesting a dismissal letter from his former church, the overreaction of the Southern church leaders again simply handed the North another “win.” Their decision to excommunicate Burns for the sin of “stealing himself from his master” just added more fuel to the flames of Northern indignity. In some ways, it seems as though Burns was less a willing icon in the anti-slavery movement, and more a victim of circumstance.
Why did the capture and return of a single slave, among all of the wrongs associated with the "peculiar institution," do so much to turn northern public opinion against slavery?
-The Northerners finally understood how the slaves were being treated down South. They saw that the slaves were chained and shackled when they were being returned to their masters. The Northern opinion finally changed to be against slavery instead of being ambivalent on whether or not slavery was a good thing.
How did the abolitionists' use of the term "kidnapping" contribute to this impact?
- The Northerners did not believe that Burns was a run away slave and they did not agree with how he was arrested. They believed that they needed to rescue Burns and make sure that he was able to stay a free man.
How did he accomplish the first of these tasks? At whom did he direct the audience's anger?
- He turns the anger towards the government and the Chairman. He states that Massachusetts does not have any laws about runaways, so they should be able to take Burns away. He also states that “His master appeared” and the crowd responds with “Cries of "No!" "No!" he has no master!”. He turns the crowd against the Chairman and the government for allowing Burns to be tried when Massachusetts does not even have laws against it.
The rash action Phillips feared was that the audience might go to the Court House where Burns was being held that night and, without plan or leadership, attempt to rescue Burns. How did he seek to persuade his listeners not to attempt anything of the sort?
-He states that they are men and they must remain men. He says “if there is any man here who has got an arm ready in the cause of justice; if there is any man here who is ready to sacrifice anything for the liberty of an oppressed man, he is to do it to-morrow.”
What was Phillips' plan for rescuing Burns?
-He states that “Well, then, fellow citizens, if I ever have any, I have got to win it, with you to-morrow, in open day light. We do not skulk. It is for Marshall Tukey, to skulk down State Street, between sunlight and moonlight; but when the sons of Faneuil Hall take that man out of the hands of the kidnapper, they shall do it in the face of the sun. I believe that the sympathies of the best men in the city are with us. I believe, and you will believe, even the bank vaults of State Street are ready for the rescue of Anthony Burns.” He would rather have the men get together in the morning and protest instead of trying to defy the law system and rescuing him tonight.
Might Phillips' plan for rescuing Burns have succeeded? What would have had to have happened for it to have worked?
Historians have noted the ironic outcome of the Burns' "kidnapping." Had the anti-slavery activists succeeded in rescuing him and sending him on to Canada, the event would have sharpened sectional animosities but done comparatively little to strengthen the anti-slavery cause. Failure to rescue Burns, on the other hand, made him a household word throughout the North. What specific features of his story strike you as providing ammunition for the abolitionists?
-The fact that there were many people who attempted to free him but were not able to probably sparked many people’s attention to the cause. If he was freed and got away to Canada then it would not have been such big news and many people would not have heard of it.
What personal characteristics of Burns made him such an appealing figure to anti-slavery activists? Use the poster depicting his life to illustrate your answer.
-The fact that he was arrested in Boston, sold and sent to prison, let many anti-slavery activist use him as a model of how slaves were treated. Burns went willing into police custody and denied the charges that were being brought upon him yet even though he was arrested in MA where there were no laws about slavery, he was still arrested and thrown into prison.
1. The capture of one slave that had escaped to the North showed the northerners how brutal slavery was when they saw the slave hunters come and retrieve the slave. I think that they also must have seen that the black people are just the same as them. Some slaves were even respected members of their towns and cities.
2. THe use of the term "kidnapping" was used justly. In the first place these people were taken from their homes. Then if they did manage to escape they were hunted down like animals and taken back to their owners. They were esentially kidnapped and taken from their homes and lives.
Fellow citizens, my resolution is this. . . . We have no right to say that this thing is an insult to this city of Boston. It is not. It is no insult. The quiet and tame submission of the city of Boston to the kidnapping of Thomas Sims, forfeits the right to call this an insult. My resolution is, for me, that I will try so to behave in this case, that we shall wipe off the stain of Thomas Sims, so that no kidnapper shall again dare to show his face in the city of Boston. (Cries of "Good," and cheers.) Make your resolution, as I do. See that man for yourselves; and never lose sight of him, so long as his feet rest on Massachusetts soil. Who says aye to that? (Clamorous shouts of "Aye, aye," and enthusiastic applause.)
-He tried to persuade the people not to go to the courthouse and cause trouble because it was not the City of Boston's fault that this happened.
4. Phillips wanted to assemble peacefully in front of the courthouse the next day before they took Anthony Burns back to Virginia.
5. The ammunition for the abolishonists in this case is how brutally he was uprooted from his home, well on his way home, and how the whole plan actually went down. People were arrested and some were killed so it made everything look way worse.
6. I think the fact the he was well respected and making a life for himself made him a good person to be appealing to anit slavery activists.
1.) The capture and return of a single slave (Fugitive Slave Law) turned northern public opinion against slavery because it forced local law enforcement in the North to help on behalf of slave holders in the South. When I think of the term “kidnapping,” I think of stealing someone against their will. Thus, by “kidnapping” a runaway slave, those in the North are accomplishing something that seems wrong or dishonest. The Fugitive Slave Law forced people in the North to “kidnap” (as the abolitionists stated it) a person that was not theirs. The word kidnap also portrays taking someone by force. Among all the wrongs regarding slavery, kidnapping a slave irritated people in the North because they had to work with Southern masters by forcefully taking any slaves that escaped and returning them to their rightful master.
(Speech of Wendell Phillips)
2.) Phillip’s expressed the outrage of the people at Faneuil Hall by inserting the reaction he received from some of his statements in his speech. For instance, when he stated, “I want that man set free in the streets of Boston,” he informed the reader that the crowd cheered greatly. He also inserted “Sensation, followed by enthusiastic cheers” after he affirmed in his speec that Burns has no master but God. Thus, he emphasizes the fact that people agree with him; thus, they are outraged over the fact of what happened to Burns and the way he is treated.
Phillip’s directed all his statements to the Chairman. He begins each part of his speech with “Mr. Chairman.” Therefore, he also directs the audience’s anger to the Chairman as well.
In order to persuade his listeners not to rashly go to the Court House to rescue Burns, Phillip’s tells the citizens to remember who they are and what they are going to do. He states, “You are going to vindicate the fair fame of Boston. You do not do it by going to groan at the Court House.”
Phillip’s encourages the citizens to take action the next day in the open day light. He states that Burns should be rescued when the sun is up. The actual plan on how to save Burns is vague; all Phillip’s confirms is that they will do it “to-morrow.” He says that he trusts in God that when there is a “fair possibility of saving a slave from the hands of those who call themselves officers of the law… will be ready to help any hundred men do it.” He employs God as a means to motivate the people to do what is right and rescue Burns from his oppression.
3.) Phillip’s plan for rescuing Burns would have succeeded if there was…
a.) a strong, outlined plan on how they would enter the Court House and capture Burns.
b.) a great number of people to resist any opposition forces they encountered during their rescue attempt.
c.) help/support from city government.
I think the manner by which Burn’s was “kidnapped” offers provides ammunition for the abolitionists. Men approached him and accused him of robbing a Silversmith’s store. They arrested him based on a lie because he did not rob the store. They were just looking for excuse to capture him. By being arrested based on false accusations, the abolitionists are provided with good ammunition. Abolitionists had more proof that slavery was an immoral institution that used lies and deceptions to lure back runaway slaves such as Burns.
The first thing I noticed about Burns when I saw his picture is how well dressed he was for being a slave. He is dressed in very respectable clothing (clean shirt, bow tie, etc). By dressing this way, he makes himself very appealing for ant-slavery activists. The idea was that slaves could not live as good citizens in society. Nonetheless, by dressing neatly and cleanly, he portrays himself as a person who can live and contribute to society. Instead of looking like a slave, Burns presents himself as someone of the upper-class and someone the whites could look to as a figure in the anti-slavery movement.
“Slavery in Georgia or Mississippi might be a matter of states' rights, but the Constitution gave Congress control over the District. Southern efforts to silence this demand with the Gag Rule had actually strengthened the abolitionist cause. Ending the slave trade in the District could have served as a strategic retreat.”
“Once word of Burns's arrest spread, abolitionists called a meeting at Faneuil Hall. The Hall was, and remains today, a celebrated spot. A galaxy of major figures in Massachusetts history, from John Quincey Adams to Daniel Webster, had spoken there. And the speakers on Burns's behalf, especially Wendell Phillips and the Rev. Theodore Parker, were famous for their eloquence in an age devoted to public oratory. Both were outspoken advocates of abolition and opponents of the Fugitive Slave Law. So were the members of the audience.”
“Fellow citizens, to-morrow is to determine whether we are worthy of our city government: whether we are ready to do the duty which they leave us to do. (Applause.) - There is no law in Massachusetts, and I hold, that when law ceases, the soverignty of the people begins. I am against "squatter sovereignty" in Nebraska, and I am against kidnapper sovereignty in the streets of Boston. - (Great applause.)”
“The question, to-morrow, is, fellow-citizens, whether Virginia conquers Massachusetts. - ("No." "Never.") If that man leaves the city of Boston, Massachusetts is a conquered State. There is not a State in the Union - not one, even the basest, - that would submit to have that fugitive slave leave it. New York has her Syracuse to point to, where Jerry was sent to Canada. (Loud applause) Illinois has her Chicago to point to, the home of Mr. Douglas [Senator Stephen Douglas], where she rescued a slave from his hunters; and young Wisconsin, the youthful daughter of New England, can point to the hundred men of Racine, who marched to Milwaukee, and took a slave out of the hands of the kidnappers. (Great applause.) The Buckeye State of Ohio has placed an undying star on her State arms, for she, too, has rescued a slave. And Pennsylvania, that repudiates her money debts, has more than paid the world for her repudiation, for she actually shot the slave-hunter, Gorsuch, down. (Great cheering.) I used to blush, fellow-citizens, when I thought of Pennsylvania, the land that forgot to pay its debts. But she washed it all out by the blood of the slaveholder on the soil of Pennsylvania.”
“I do not profess, fellow citizens, any amount of courage, but I have always professed this, and think I shall not be found wanting — I trust in God I shall not be — that whenever there is a fair probability of saving a slave from the hands of those who call themselves the officers of the law, by trampling under foot any statute, or any man, I will be ready to help any hundred men to do it. (Loud cheers.) — What little reputation I ever had has gone long ago.”
“A popular engraving of the day pictured Burns looking out a Court House window at the crowd gathered to protest, ineffectually, his rendition to Virginia. Once he had been returned, however, a group of anti-slavery activists succeeded in purchasing his freedom and bringing him to New York City. He then followed in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass and went about the North lecturing on his life in slavery, his escape, his capture and return, and his efforts to obtain a letter of dismissal in fellowship from his church in Virginia.”
1. The capture and return of a single slave did so much to turn northern public opinion against slavery began to be looked at as strictly kidnapping. Kiddnapping is much different that one simply taking what is already his property. This idea put a much more negative connotation on the action of returning a former slave back down south to his owner. Afterall, a free state meant that the inhabitants of the state were not to be considered slaves, whether white or black.
2. The abolitionists' use of the term "kidnapping" gave a more dramatic tone to the issue. The thought of having certain people legally kidnapped in broad daylight or during the night was probably a terrifying thought for Northerners. In addition, if the government condoned this practice, than what would stop other type of kidnappings from happening?
3. Phillips expressed the audiences’ outrage by the manner in which he spoke. He spoke to the chaiman with a sense of outrage. He let the audience know that he was just as angry as they were. He addressed the audience’s anger at the city and state governments. He made the issue more about the fact that this practice of kidnapping was not being stopped and not so much that there were people actually forcing the blacks back down south into slavery.
4. Phillips sought to persuade his listeners by encouraging them to keep their hearts and their attention on Burns. He had their attention so much that they would follow his command. He did not want to create a mob around the courthouse, but he did want to keep the passion for the cause. He commanded the audience to follow Burns wherever he went.
5. The next day, he was going to lead the group down State Street and march in the name of justice. He felt that they would carry the sympathy of the people and thus free Anthony Burns.
6. Phillip’s plan for rescuing Burns might have succeeded indeed. Higginson’s plan was the type of rash decision that Phillps was afraid of. Unfortunately, the scene made by the men at the courthouse resulted in the streets being filled with officers determined to keep the peace. This left no possibility for a demonstration, regardless of its means. Any kind of large gathering, even if it was the day after Phillips’ speech, would have been broken up immediately.
7. Some features are the fact that, in this case, the law won. The plan to rescue Burn’s was a failure. In the end, they had to pay for his liberty. The abolishionists were not going to settle for that. Burn’s kidnapping was evidence that there still needed to be much change in both the people and the law.
8. The poster says a lot about Burns' characteristics. He could motivate people. He could instill in them the passion to continue the anti-slavery movement. More importantly, he was strong in the hands of his captors. His raised fist shows that they will not take the best of him. Even if they take his freedom, they will not take his dignity.
1) “…Yet Southern politicians demanded a concession in return. This was a stronger Fugitive Slave Law. Under its terms northern officials, such as judges, sheriffs, and the like, had to cooperate actively in the apprehension and return of escaped slaves…
Abolitionists sought to portray slavery as a threat to the freedom of whites. Proslavery Southerners unintentionally strengthened this argument by insisting upon northern cooperation in the capture and return of fugitive slaves.” It seemed that the South had become the aggressors as they demanded that any fugitive be returned to them immediately. The Northern Republicans and abolitionists believed that slavery was a moral and political wrong. Now, other Northerners became aggravated since they were required by law to return fugitive slaves that managed to escape to the North.
2) The term “kidnapping” referred to the slaves not as property as they had been viewed in the South, but as people. Many Northerners felt that if a slave managed to reach the North, they should have been regarded as free people. However, this idea was violated as Burns had been surrounded by seven white men “with the customary lie that he was taken up for breaking into a store and that if he would submit quietly and be examined for half an hour, there would be no difficulty.” In actuality, he was being captured and ready to be returned to his master down south. Therefore, not only were these men committing acts of evil but were also interfering in the business of the North. The kidnapping of Africans residing in Africa was just as wrong as kidnapping a free black up North.
Mr. Swift was followed by Dr. S. G. Howe, of Boston, who offered for the consideration of the meeting, the following series of Resolves:
“Resolved, That the people of Massachusetts having declared in the first article of their Constitution that "all men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights," are solemnly bound to stand by their declarations, by refusing to recognize the existence of any man as a slave on the soil of the old Bay State.
Resolved, That the pertidious seizure of Anthony Burns, in this city, on Wednesday evening last, on the lying pretence of having committed a crime against the laws of this State- his imprisonment as an alleged fugitive slave in the Court House, under guard of certain slave-catching ruffians- and his complicated trial as a piece of property to-morrow morning- are outrages never to be sanctioned or tamely submitted to.
Resolved, That the time has come to declare and to demonstrate the fact that no slaveholder can carry his prey from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Resolved, That (in the language of Algernon Sidney,) "that which is not just is not law, and that which is not law ought not to be obeyed."
Resolved, That, leaving every man to determine for himself the mode of resistance, we are united in the glorious sentiment of our Revolutionary fathers- "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God."
Resolved, That of all tyrants who have ever cursed the earth, they are the most cruel and beastly, who deny the natural right of a man to his own body- of a father to his won child- of a husband to his own wife; whose traffic is in human flesh and broken hearts; who defend chattel slavery as a divine institution; and who declare it to be their unalterable purpose indefinitely to extend and forever to perpetrate their infernal oppression.
Resolved, That as the South has decreed, in the late passage of the Nebraska bill, that no faith is to be kept with freedom; so, in the name of the living God, and on the part of the North, we declare that henceforth and forever, no compromise should be made with slavery.
Resolved, That nothing so well becomes Faneuil Hall as the most determined resistance to a bloody and overshadowing despotism.
Resolved, That it is the will of God that every man should be born free; we will as God wills; God’s will be done!
Resolved, That no man’s freedom is safe unless all men are free.”
3) “I say, Mr. Chairman, the first man admitted to that room was Col. Suttle, of Virginia. What right had he there? None at all - none whatever! The unfortunate man was carried into Court before an infamous Slave Commissioner, Edward G. Loring - a man whom the State of Massachusetts appoints a Judge of Probate. (Nine groans for him were given, with considerable unction.)
. . . . . .
But, Mr. Chairman, I said Col. Suttle was admitted - for what? To question the man; - to find out whether he would acknowledge himself a slave; to take advantage of his fear, of his confusion, of his ignorance! The master, the slaveholder, the kidnapper, is admitted to see him. Not one single friend, - neither his employer, nor his clergyman, nor any body, could be admitted to converse with him. I went this morning, with his clergyman, to Marshall Freeman, . . . and we asked to be admitted to him. "No, sir," said the Marshall, "you cannot see him. I do not admit anybody but his counsel to see him." I replied he has no counsel. Said I, Mr. Freeman, why did you admit Mr. Suttle to see him last night?”
He stated that Southern sympathizers and Southerners were to blame for this controversial incident. Phillips directed the audience’s anger towards Col. Suttle, whom he explained had no right or business to be interfering with Northern business. All of Mr. Burns’ enemies were allowed to see him, but all friends and allies were denied access.
4) “Fellow citizens, my resolution is this. . . . We have no right to say that this thing is an insult to this city of Boston. It is not. It is no insult. The quiet and tame submission of the city of Boston to the kidnapping of Thomas Sims, forfeits the right to call this an insult. My resolution is, for me, that I will try so to behave in this case, that we shall wipe off the stain of Thomas Sims, so that no kidnapper shall again dare to show his face in the city of Boston. Make your resolution, as I do. See that man for yourselves; and never lose sight of him, so long as his feet rest on Massachusetts soil. Who says aye to that? ... Fellow citizens; let us remember where we are, and what we are going to do. You have said, to-night, that you are going to vindicate the fair fame of Boston. You do not do it by going to groan before the Court House. ("Give them a coat of tar and feathers.") You do not do it, fellow-citizens, by attempting the impossible feat of insulting a kidnapper. If there is any man here who has got an arm ready in the cause of justice; if there is any man here who is ready to sacrifice anything for the liberty of an oppressed man, he is to do it to-morrow.”
Phillips persuaded the angry audience to wait until the following morning to “sacrifice anything for the liberty of an oppressed man.” It is the job of Massachusetts to make sure that Mr. Burns walks away a free man – not a slave.
5) “But when the sons of Faneuil Hall take that man out of the hands of the kidnapper, they shall do it in the face of the sun. I believe that the sympathies of the best men in the city are with us. I believe, and you will believe, even the bank vaults of State Street are ready for the rescue of Anthony Burns” (Massachusetts Spy, May 31, 1855).
Phillips plan for rescuing Burns was to take Burns away from his kidnappers. It is not clear what his plan was, but since he mentioned arms, he probably intended on obtaining Burns by force. Either that or vote against Massachusetts submitting Burns back to his Virginia master.
6) Perhaps if Higginson and Phillips’ men had fought together in an organized coalition, they might have been able to fend off the people detaining Burns and allow him to escape to Canada. Both groups would have had to obtain victory before the United States Army could act to keep Burns in confinement. In addition, people would have been needed to help guide Burns northward without getting caught by Northern authorities, using a system similar to the Underground Railroad.
7) “He was arrested early in the evening, night before last, as he was returning from his work, by seven men, with the customary lie that he was taken up for breaking into a store, and that if he would submit quietly and be examined for half an hour, there would be no difficulty. And with that lie he was got into the Court House…”
“I say, Mr. Chairman, the first man admitted to that room was Col. Suttle, of Virginia. What right had he there? None at all - none whatever! The unfortunate man was carried into Court before an infamous Slave Commissioner, Edward G. Loring - a man whom the State of Massachusetts appoints a Judge of Probate. (Nine groans for him were given, with considerable unction.)”
“Anthony Burns came to embody the evils of slavery and the way in which the Fugitive Slave Law forced Northerners to support the South's "peculiar institution." The dramatic rescue attempt, the stirring speeches, the use of thousands of troops to accomplish his "rendition" to Virginia, all made his "kidnapping" the most famous of all the fugitive slave cases.”
The abolitionists would use the following facts as ammunition against slavery and the immoral Fugitive Slave Law: a) Anthony Burns was tricked and illegally kidnapped into slavery; b) the South was interfering in Northern affairs; c) the Fugitive Slave Law forced the North to support the South’s peculiar institution of slavery; and d) that slavery was a threat to the freedom of everyone living in the United States according to the Massachusetts State Constitution (see above).
8) The poster of Anthony Burns showed how terrible his life truly had been as he was the product of the slavery system. He had come over to America on a slave ship, escaped to the North were he had been apprehended by seven men, incarcerated thanks to a judge that was a supporter of slavery, and had the United States Army escort Mr. Burns back to the South. Here was the story of a man that never tasted freedom until abolitionists “purchased” him and set him free. Upon his freedom, he followed Frederick Douglass and preached about the evils of slavery in the North.
“Look at my case, I was stolen and made a slave as soon as I was born. No man had any right to steal me. That manstealer who stole me trampled on my dearest rights. He committed an outrage on the law of God; therefore his manstealing gave him no right in me, and laid me under no obligation to be his slave. God made me a man -- not a slave; and gave me the same right to myself that he gave the man who stole me to himself. The great wrongs he has done me, in stealing me and making me a slave, in compelling me to work for him many years without wages, and in holding me as merchandize, -- these wrongs could never put me under obligation to stay with him, or to return voluntarily, when once escaped.”
Phillips plan might have succeeded if their had been a massive amount of people to rush into the court room and wisk him away. However their had been numerous guards and people to stop that from occurring. It would have had to been more strategically planned out to allow the abolitionists to steal him away.
“The task was not to persuade those in the audience to condemn the 'kidnapping' of Anthony Burns. The task was to rescue him. How were speeches to accomplish that? The task was even more complicated because the organizers of the meeting had not had time to come up with a plan of action. That was somehow to come out of the meeting itself. The most important speaker was Wendell Phillips. It became his task to come up with a plan. As you can see from the crowd's interjections (in parentheses in the Spy account), Phillips could effectively measure how successful he was in gaining their confidence by their reactions to his statements.”
“But, Mr. Chairman, I said Col. Suttle was admitted - for what? To question the man; - to find out whether he would acknowledge himself a slave; to take advantage of his fear, of his confusion, of his ignorance! The master, the slaveholder, the kidnapper, is admitted to see him. Not one single friend, - neither his employer, nor his clergyman, nor any body, could be admitted to converse with him”
“That is one-sided justice in the State of Massachusetts. That room has been open to the slaveholders, that they might mould, and overawe, and bully, and catch in his talk, and confuse the poor trembling fugitive; but of his own friends, his companions, nobody was admitted to see him. It was but by chance that he had counsel in the State of Massachusetts.”
3. Burns looks like a hardworking, young, individual. While he did escape from Virginia he did take up work in Boston. He tried to build a life for himself. This is why the story is so controversial. Burns is captured by men who accused him of robbing a store. The end result was a trial with his master present. This really is why he is so appealing to abolitionists.
- Why did the capture and return of a single slave, among all of the wrongs associated with the “peculiar institution,” do so much to turn northern public opinion against slavery?
- The capture and return Anthony Burns highlighted the abolitionists’ stance that the Fugitive Slave Law was a threat to the freedom of whites. It turned public opinion against slavery because the northerners did not want their own freedom jeopardized in any way and if they had to stand up against slavery to prevent infringement on their freedom, they would.
- How did the abolitionists' use of the term "kidnapping" contribute to this impact?
- The term kidnapping intrinsically implies that a negative or wrong action on the part of the kidnappers. It places the blame on the police of Boston and Burn’s old master who arrested Burns and indicates that they were wrong to have done so. If the abolitionists had chosen to use the heading “the Arrest of Anthony Burns,” the impact would not have been as powerful because people associate the word “arrest” with a wrongdoing on the part of the person arrested. Word choice played a crucial role here in rallying support.
Stop and Consider: Phillips had to express the Faneuil Hall audience's outrage, and forestall any rash action, and propose some plan of action himself.
- How did Phillips accomplish the first of these tasks? At whom did he direct the audience's anger?
- If first endeavored to express the audience’s outrage by basically stating their cause. He receives great applause after stating that he wants Anthony Burns set free in the streets of Boston and that he is against “kidnapping sovereignty” in Boston. By this he met that he disagrees with the notion that Massachusetts is a free state and yet has to abide by the very laws that the slave states insist upon. He says that they cannot allow Massachusetts to be conquered by Virginia, which was very powerful. Also, by emphasizing that Burns has no master and agreeing with the crowd on this statement, he directs their anger towards the courthouse officials and police who lied to Burns as well as his old master. Mostly, however Phillips directs their anger towards the city of Boston itself because it allowed and would continue to allow such injustices to occur.
- The rash action Phillips feared was that the audience might go to the Court House where Burns was being held that night and, without plan or leadership, attempt to rescue Burns. How did he seek to persuade his listeners not to attempt anything of the sort?
- Phillips states very simply that the citizens will not gain anything by attacking the courthouse and should not do it. He also says that if anybody feels the need to take arms up in the name of liberty, then they should do it the following day.
- What was Phillips' plan for rescuing Burns?
- His plan is to wait until the morning when it is light out. Most likely this was a tactic to get people not to take rash actions that night and maybe take the night to think about a good and workable plan for the next day.
- Might Phillips' plan for rescuing Burns have succeeded? What would have had to have happened for it to have worked?
- Again, for his plan to have worked, the people would have had to spend the night thinking about plans of action for the next day.
- Historians have noted the ironic outcome of the Burns' "kidnapping." Had the anti-slavery activists succeeded in rescuing him and sending him on to Canada, the event would have sharpened sectional animosities but done comparatively little to strengthen the anti-slavery cause. Failure to rescue Burns, on the other hand, made him a household name throughout the North. What specific features of his story strike you as providing ammunition for the abolitionists?
- First and foremost, the fact that the entire city of Boston, including the police, court officials, and judges, seemed to be against Anthony Burns. This seems very corrupt and not at all the way the system should have worked. By not being able to rescue Burns, it highlighted the fact that there was basically a slavery system in Boston that had very much control over the city. It helped to reinforce the point the Fugitive Slave Law had infringed upon the rights of the whites as well.
- What personal characteristics of Burns made him such an appealing figure to anti-slavery activists? Use the poster depicting his life to illustrate your answer.
- By his own account, Burns seemed very trusting when he went with the police after they lied to him about his crime. Also, the story seems very sad where Burns had no one to come help him and was basically resolved to go back to Virginia. Perhaps all of these characteristics contributed to the people relating better to him and becoming more mad at the city of Boston would allowed this to happen to such a nice man. He carried himself very well and seemed to be a man worth standing up for. In the poster of Burns looking out the courthouse window, he appears to be engaged in the crowd below and agreeing with their sediments. Perhaps it would appear to the people that Burns was just as interested in the anti-slavery movement/ true freedom of the northern citizens as they were