"Those beautiful vessels, robed in white, and so delightful to the eyes of freemen," remembered Frederick Douglass of the sailing ships he saw daily during his boyhood along the Chesapeake Bay, "were to me so many shrouded ghosts." Douglass contrasted the ships, loosed from [their] mooring, and free," with his own condition- "fast in chains, and... a slave!" And he swore, as he later recollected, "This very bay shall yet bear me into freedom."

"To Feel Like a Man": Black Seamen in the Northern States, 1800-1860; W. Jeffrey Bolster; The Journal of American History Vol. 76, No. 4 (Mar., 1990), pp. 1173-1199

During the British invasion slaves escaped or were taken by British troops. The escapees worked on board ships, became soldiers, or migrated. These case studies are organized by the subject's home county.

Related Materials: icon War of 1812 Records | icon Flee or Stay?: The African American Experience during the War of 1812


Allegany Anne Arundel Baltimore Baltimore City Calvert
Caroline Carroll Cecil Charles Dorchester
Frederick Garrett Harford Howard Kent
Montgomery Prince George's Queen Anne's Saint Mary's Somerset
Talbot Washington Wicomico Worcester