Ellen Craft: The Master of Disguise

Ellen Craft

Birth: Born into slavery in 1826 in Macon, Georgia

Young Ellen Craft
         Young Ellen Craft

Parents: Mother: Maria, a mixed-race slave and  Father: Major James Smith, a wealthy white plantation master

Siblings: unknown

Spouse: William Craft (born September 25, 1824, died January 29, 1900); married in 1846.

Children:  Charles Estlin Phillips (1852-1938), William Ivens (1855-1926), Brougham H. (1857-1920), Alfred G. (1871-1939), and Ellen A. (1863-1917).

Descendant: Researcher, Speaker, and Early Childhood Educator Julia -Ellen Craft Davis, great-great granddaughter

Julia Ellen Craft-Davis, The Crafts Great,Great Granddaughter
Julia Ellen Craft-Davis, The Crafts Great,Great Granddaughter

Occupation: Abolitionist, Speaker, and Author

Accomplishments, Achievements, and Contributions:In December of 1848, William proposed to Ellen a dangerous and daring escape plan in which Ellen who was light enough to “pass” as white would disguise herself and assume the role as a white plantation owner and William would assume the role as slave. They dressed as master and slave embarking on a 1,000 mile journey to freedom from Macon, Georgia to the North by train and steamboat, successfully arriving in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Christmas Day 1848. Their great escape gained widespread publicity, making them the most famous fugitive slaves. Their escape is also noted as one of the most ingenious escapes in American history. They escaped from Boston to Nova Scotia, and to England after their freedom became threatened by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. There they received  help from English abolitionists ,publicly lectured about their escape, and reared five children. Ellen and William returned to the U.S. in 1868, brought 1800 acres of land in Savannah, Georgia, and opened an industrial school, the Woodville Co-Operative Farm School for Blacks.

Ellen and William are the authors of Running A Thousand Miles for Freedom: The Escape of William and Ellen Craft From Slavery  which details their escape. It was published in 1860.

Awards and Honors: Ellen was inducted the Georgia Women of Achievement in 1996, The Crafts history, accomplishments, and life are displayed at the Tubman African-American Museum in Macon, Georgia, and their home in Hammersmith, England  is commemorated by a historic blue plague.

Death: 1891 or 1897

Quotes about or by Ellen: “For I had much rather starve in England, a free woman, than be a slave for the best man that ever breathed upon the American Continent.”

Ellen and William Craft
                Ellen and William Craft
Ellen Craft disguised as White Slavemaster
Ellen Craft disguised as White Slavemaster
Free at last_014
Figures of Ellen and William Craft presented at the University of Pittsburgh’s Free At Last?: Slavery in Pittsburgh in the 18th and 19th Centuries Exhibition, October 25, 2008-April 5, 2009 

I salute this AMAZING HER-story making sista!

Source: Ellen and William Craft Wikipedia Bio


4 thoughts on “Ellen Craft: The Master of Disguise

    1. I’ve been familiar with this story for a while now. It’s an amazing story like Henry “Box” Brown’s escape to freedom. There are other stories of slaves that I’m just discovering (mostly women) that used disguise to escape slavery that I will be researching and possibly doing a post on later. Btw, How do you like the new way I’m formatting my posts.

      Liked by 1 person

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