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This Day in Boston History
May 24th, 1855
this day, federal marshals in Boston arrested Anthony Burns under the
Fugitive Slave Act. Yet, Boston's abolitionists had a history of breaking
the law to free persons being returned to slavery.
A massive rally was called at Faneuil
Hall, and a plans were made to end the meeting early and lead the
crowd to raid the jail and free Burns. Unfortunately, Faneuil Hall had
only a single exit. The crowd was slowed in departing, which gave time
for the Marshals to react. The rioters were repelled, and Burns was
returned to Virginia.
This incident made it impossible for Northerners to ignore slavery as
a practice somewhere far away. Burns' supporters in Boston eventually
secured his freedom through a slave broker. He attended Oberlin College
before immigrating to Canada, where he served as a Baptist minister
the rest of his life.