Who was Anthony Burns? (31 May 1834 – 17 July 1862)


Anthony Burns (31 May 1834 – 17 July 1862), American slave, born in Stafford County, Virginia. Burns escaped from slavery in February 1854 and was arrested in Boston on May 24, on a charge of theft. He was detained for violation of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 (see Fugitive Slave Laws).

A protest meeting, in which the abolitionist leaders Theodore Parker and Wendell Phillips took part, was held in Faneuil Hall. On May 26 the abolitionists stormed the courthouse but failed to rescue Burns; during the ensuing riot a deputy was killed. The court decided that Burns should be returned to his master.

Anthony Burns was later resold to a friendly master and resold to friends in Boston who set him free. With their help, he studied at Oberlin College in Ohio and eventually became a minister in the city of Saint Catherines, Ontario.

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