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"A Bold Stroke for Freedom" Illustration, 1872

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Cartoon shows fugitive slaves with wagon pointing guns at slave-catchers.
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Still, William, "A Bold Stroke for Freedom," 1872


The 1872 illustration shows African Americans, likely fugitive slaves, with a wagon pointing guns at slave-catchers. The cartoon is thought to depict Christmas Eve of 1855, when patrollers caught up with a group of teenage enslaved people who had escaped by wagon from Loudon County, Virginia. But the posse was driven off when Ann Wood, leader of the group, brandished weapons and dared the pursuers to fire. The fugitives continued on to Philadelphia. 

Source-Dependent Questions

  • Describe what is happening in the image. Who appears to be the aggressors?
  • How did these fugitive slaves apparently travel on the Underground Railroad to freedom?
  • How does this image show that the escape stories were both similar to and different from other escape stories of the Underground Railroad?

Citation Information

Still, William, "A Bold Stroke for Freedom," 1872. Courtesy of Library of Congress