Early Life and Family
Henry “Box” Brown was born enslaved in Louisa County, Virginia, in 1815. The precise date of his birth is unknown. At the age of 15, he was sent to Richmond to work in a tobacco factory. Although he married and had four children, he was unable to live with his family. In 1848, his wife and children were sold to a plantation in North Carolina. This tremendous loss fueled Brown’s fervor to escape from slavery.
Escape from Slavery
Brown, an active member of a local church, enlisted fellow parishioner James Caesar Anthony Smith and a white contact, Samuel Smith, to aid him in his escape. Brown’s plan was to have himself shipped as cargo from Richmond to Philadelphia, where slavery had been abolished.
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