Slavery

The Life and Magic of Henry 'Box' Brown

Brown was born into slavery and escaped in an astonishing way. His story of gaining his freedom was so sensational that he basically spent the rest of his life making a living talking about it in one form or another.

Phillis Wheatley

Perceptions and interpretations of Phillis Wheatley's life and work have shifted since the 18th century. This episode examines Wheatley's published writing while enslaved, and how her place in the world of black literature rose, fell, and rose again.

Three Astonishing Belles

This episode features three unique women, all of whom are notable in their own way. The two things they have in common: They each have a surprising aspect to their stories, and they each have the name Belle.

Frederic Tudor, the Ice King

Tudor hatched a clever plan: In cold weather, he would harvest ice for cheap, and then sell it all around the world when it was hot, singlehandedly turning ice into a commodity and becoming vastly wealthy in the process.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was an orator, writer, statesman and social reformer. His early life shaped the truly remarkable advocate he became, and the two primary causes he campaigned for — the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage.

Jamaica's Maroon Wars

Maroons are Africans and people of African ancestry who escaped enslavement and established communities in the Caribbean and parts of the Americas. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Jamaica's Maroon communities clashed with British colonial government.

Belinda Sutton's Post-enslavement Petitions

After she became a free woman, Belinda Sutton successfully petitioned for compensation for her years of enslaved labor. This was one of many legal efforts of enslaved and formerly enslaved people to advocate for themselves in Massachusetts courts.

John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, set out to create an armed revolution of emancipated slaves. Instead, it became a tipping point leading to the U.S. Civil War.

Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation with John B. King

Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King Jr. discusses the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which gave rebelling states 100 days to return to the Union or have their enslaved population freed during the U.S. Civil War.

U.S. Contraband Camps

When three escaped slaves showed up at a Union position during the U.S. Civil War, the decision of how to handle the situation fell to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler. His actions led to a situation for which the government was simply not prepared.