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Christiana Resistance

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: Sep 2020 [unknown]
Location: Village of Christiana in Lancaster Counter Pennsylvaniamap
Surname/tag: Baley, Ford, Hammond, Parker, Hathaway, Beard, Wilson, Scott, Thompson
Profile manager: Mary Gossage private message [send private message]
This page has been accessed 178 times.


Contents

The Christiana Resistance of 11 September 1851

The purpose of this space is a background page content and sources that are useful for creating profiles of those associated with the Christiana Riot.

Christiana Event Connections is a page of known profies that need to be created and known profiles that have been created.

11 September 1851, residents of the village of Christiana in Lancaster County Pennsylvania came to the defense of six men considered to be fugitives from slavery, according to the petition of Edward Gorsuch authorizing retrieval of the six young men considered to be his property. "Men of Christiana rallied to Parker's farm when word came the Gorsuch was on his way. Gorsuch confronted by a party of 38 men, half of them armed & the other half Amish, when he arrived at Parker's farm Gorsuch pressed his claimed, stormed the house, & was shot and killed. Gun fight ensued & all of Gorsuch's party were wounded. All 38 men were indicted, but only one was tried. Castner Hathaway was tried on charges of liberating slaves, resisting arrest, conspiracy, & treason - jury deliberated 15 minutes & returned a verdict of not guilty. Charges against remaining 37 defendants dismissed"[1] Note that nearly all of the basic information in this space, and most of the sources, as of 25 September 2020, are from the Archives of Maryland Online.[2]
National press coverage labeled the incident as "The Christiana Riot" (among other labels). As such that set the stage for national attention being focused on the ensuing court proceedings considered to have been the first to challenge "The Fugitive Slave Act" which had been been enacted approximately nine months earlier.
The Christiana Riot has been described in a variety of ways such as a major episode in Black American history; the first shots fired in the Civil War; a major harbingers of the Civil War; fueling the ideological divide that erupted in Civil War; propelling the nation to Civil War.
"The author of this narrative--of every line in it--is William Parker. He was an escaped slave, and the principal actor in the Christiana riot--an occurrence which cost the Government of the United States fifty thousand dollars, embittered the relations of two "Sovereign States," aroused the North to the danger of the Fugitive-Slave Law, and, more than any other event, except the raid of John Brown, helped to precipitate the two sections into the mighty conflict which has just been decided on the battle-field." [from the introduction to "The Freedman's Story" by William Parker, a central figure in the Christiana Riot.][3]
Whatever else the Christiana Riot may have been and was described as, it was the first successful challenge to the act of Congress approved 18 September 1850 entitled "An Act Respecting Fugitives from Justice" colloquially referred to as "The Fugitive Slave Act", and as such a pivotal event in American History.
That the Christiana Riot became trending national news suggests the extent to which the entire nation at that time was weighing in on slavery, as the need for abolishing it increasingly moved toward critical mass.

The People

Names and descriptions of the six men considered to be fugitives, are known from the petition for their return. The petition included the deed of manumission revealing the length of servitude for each. The identities of the Black Abolitionist and his wife are known,so too identity of the only individual who was tried. Because a total of 42 people were indicted, 36 of whom were African American, then the names of the additional 33 people should all be recorded in the court proceedings.
A main purpose for this space is creating profiles for these nine people about whom we do have some information. At the time they all lived in or near Christiana in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. An additional purpose is to add enough information for this space to be a useful resource.

Pivital People

Names of the primary people who are known to have been pivital in the drama that played out in Christiana Pennsylvania, 11 September 1851, as targets, enablers, and/or antagonists.

The Fugitives

name of person age 1851 born manumission age at escape
Noah Baley/Buley 24 c. 1827 age 6 22 in 1849
Nelson Ford 23 c. 1828 age 5 21 in 1849
George Hammond 24 c. 1827 age 6 22 in 1849
Joshua Hammond 26 c. 1825 age 8 24 in 1849
Eli Ford 26 c. 1825 age 8 18 in 1844
Charles Ford 28 c. 1823 age 10 16 in 1844

Descriptive information from the Gorsuch petition was used to approximate dates and ages. [cite source information of petition]


The Antagonists

name of person description
John M. Gorsuch willed a deed of manumissions to his nephew Edward
Edward Gorsuch nephew of John M. who was willed a deed of manumissions
Dickinson Gorsuch Dickinson Gorsuch


The Enablers of Antagonists

name of person description
William Padgett a farm worker in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
United States District Court for the Maryland region provided petition for runaways considered fugatives
Henry Kline Deputy Federal Marshal in Philadelphia


The Protagonists

name of person description
William Parker Black Abolitionist
Eliza Parker William's Wife
Castner Hathaway only one of all the indicted who was brought to trial
39 additional townspeople a total of 36 black folks, 5 white folk all indicted tried for treason, all found not guilty

"The first man brought to trial, the Quaker Castner Hanway—erroneously thought to be the leader of the anti-slavery men—was acquitted. Since authorities thought this was the strongest case, they released the other 37 men."[4]

People Needing Profiles

name of person profile connected
Noah Baley~ yes no
Nelson Ford~ no no
George Hammond~ no no
Joshua Hammond~ no no
Eli Ford~ no no
Charles Ford~ no no
William Parker yes yes
Eliza Ann (Howard) Parker yes yes
Castner Hathaway yes yes
John Beard ^ no no
Thomas Wilson^ no no
Alexander Scott^ no no
Edward Thompson^ no no

~Indicates a possible name change. ^Indicates a new name

Note: The last four names belong to four of the six who changed their names after they made good their escapes

Brief Descriptions of the Nine People Needing Profiles

  1. Noah Baley ~ 24, enslaved for 18 years at age 6. A bright mulatto man, who was to serve twenty-two years beginning in 1833. He was 5’9” or 5'10” in height and “tolerable stout built." (also found as Buley)
  2. Nelson Ford ~ 23, enslaved for 18 years at age 5. A Black man who was to serve twenty-three years, described as dark brown, nearly black, and stood “about 5 feet 7 inches (perhaps a little under that height)” with round shoulders and who “talked fast and was rather timid."
  3. George Hammond ~ 24, enslaved for 18 years at age 6. A Negro man who was to serve twenty-two years. He was 5’8” or 5’10” in height.
  4. Joshua Hammond ~ 26, enslaved for 18 years at age 8. A dark Mulatto man was twenty years old, and was to serve twenty-six years. He was described as well grown, 5’9’ or 5’10” in height, dark brown, and appeared older than he really was.
  5. Eli Ford ~ 26, enslaved for 18 years at age 8. A dark Mulatto man was to serve twenty years. He was described as dark yellow, 5’4” or 5’5” in height, with a “nose broad and flat at the end, particularly broad and flat at the end, the broadness did not run up the nose."
  6. Charles Ford ~ 28, enslaved John M. Gorsuch for 18 years at age 10. A Black man who was to serve eighteen years. He was described as 5’3” or 5’4” in height with "arms rather short and had a peculiarity in his walk."
  7. William Parker A Black Abolitionist in Christiana
  8. Eliza Ann (Howard) Parker William's wife A Black Abolitionist in Christiana
  9. Castner Hathaway The only one of all the indicted brought to trial on the weight of that decision the other 38 were released. (also found as: Hanway and Hanaway)

~Indicates a possible name change.

Clearly it is not surprising the men chose other names once they made good their escape, and according to an article by John Anderson, at least four of the six did change their names: "John Beard, Thomas Wilson, Alexander Scott, and Edward Thompson are the names 4 of the 6 were known by in Pennsylvania.[4] According to Scott Mingus, "William Parker, his family and in-law, and Gorsuch’s two slaves fled the scene, eventually making it to safety in Canada with the assistance of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.[5]
Two of the six men left with Parker for Canada. Another source says Parker left almost immediately, and Eliza joined him later. Fortunately, there is a primary source of direct information from Parker's story in his own words in a two part 1866 article in Atlantic monthly[6]

The Timeline

18 September 1850 - Congress approved "An Act Respecting Fugitives from Justice" (colloquially referred to as "The Fugitive Slave Act")
28 May 1851 - approximately 8 1/2 months after the Fugitive Slave Act was approved by Congress, Edward Gorsuch of Baltimore County Maryland petitioned the United States District Court for the Maryland region for the return of six of runaway slaves. He had left the six men, along with a large amount of land and property (including more enslaved people than only the six men) under the will of his uncle, John M. Gorsuch of Baltimore County, who died in the summer of 1845. [find link to the petition]
6 November 1849 - Four of the men had escaped from Edward
12 May 1844 - two of the men had escaped from his Uncle , prior to the uncle's death, thus all were considered to be fugitives. Since it seems there had not yet been an effort to retrieve the men, at least not a successful one, perhaps the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act had legally empowered the return of those who had escaped and in doing so were considered to be fugitives. Apparently emboldened by the Act, within 9 months of its passage Edward was on his way to find and retrieve the men he considered to be his property. The there the events transpired as such:
Date unknown [need specific date] - William Padgett, a farm worker in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, had sent a letter to Gorsuch telling him he knew where the men were hiding.
28 May 1851 - Gorsuch petitioned the court under the Fugitive Slave Act for the return of men considered to be his property. "His petition was to obtain the benefits of the act of Congress approved September 18, 1850 entitled An Act Respecting Fugitives from Justice." [7] 1. U.S.
September 1852[need specific date] - Gorsuch gathered up some family and other members of the community to accompany him to Pennsylvania on the train.
September 1852 [need specific date] - In Philadelphia the entourage met up with Deputy Federal Marshal Henry Kline, completed the necessary paperwork, then continued on to Christiana with their pursuit. From that point on events quickly escalated
11 September 1851 - As the entourage arrived in Christiana they were spotted by one of the escapees who hid in the house of a known Black Abolitionist, William Parker, then:
  • Gorsuch was met at the door by Parker who refused to give up the men.
  • Hearing the brouhaha, Parkers wife Eliza opened a second floor window to blow a horn which was an alarm requesting assistance from local townsfolk.
  • Townspeople armed with various weapons responded to the alarm.
  • Eliza was shot at but not hit by one of the Gorsuch entourage.
  • An exchange of gunfire ensued.
  • Dickinson Gorsuch, Edward's son was badly wounded and Edward was killed.

The Trial

42 people were indicted for high treason against the United States of America in what became known as the Christina Riot. All of the defendants were found not guilty. "The first man brought to trial, the Quaker Castner Hanway—erroneously thought to be the leader of the anti-slavery men—was acquitted. Since authorities thought this was the strongest case, they released the other 37 men."[4]

Accessible Online Sources

These all provide background information which promotes insight into what occurred, what lead up to it, and speculation about the results of that day in Christiana. Some have been accessed to provide more detailed information.
1. Trial Sources
  • Digital Bookshelf: Records and Court Cases Christiana Treason Trial (1851) Note: A condensed version of the trial at Dickinson College
2. Archives of Maryland Online. Biographical Series. [1] Maryland State Archives, 4 November 2010. ] Maryland State Archives, 4 November 2010. Note: This is the Source page that is part of the Edward Gorsuch Biography - the biography being entirely about the Christiana Riot. Some links no longer exist. Sources below are from a search for some of the missing links on the page.
3. Katz, Jonathan. Resistance at Christiana: The Fugitive Slave Rebellion, Christiana, Pennsylvania, September 11, 1851: a Documentary Account. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 29 May 1974) 359 pp. Note: The synopsis at abebook about "Resistance at Christiana": "Along with John Brown's Raid , one of the major harbingers of Civil War. ; A major episode in Black American history. "
4. Lee, Rick. Hill is only the second U.S. Marshal killed in the history of Pennsylvania The York Daily Record. 19 January 2018.Note: An unexpected place for insight into the process of pursuit of fugitives. The article provides a link to a Christiania Riots link. Excerpt::
"(York) — Deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher David Hill was the first marshal to be killed in the line of duty in Pennsylvania since 1851.
And the man who was killed 167 years hardly holds up as a hero today. Edward Gorsuch, a slave-catcher from Baltimore, had been deputized as part of a posse that was attempting to capture two slaves who had fled from Maryland, according to the U.S. Marshals Service Roll Call of Honor.
In Christiana, a small Lancaster County borough, a group of Quakers, freed slaves and abolitionists confronted the posse. Shots were exchanged and Gorsuch, deputized for just two days, was killed. The fatal encounter went down in history as the Christiana Riots. [. . .]"
5.Mingus, Scott. Black History Month: Events at the Gorsuch Tavern helped spark the 1851 Christiana Riots 13 February 2015. Note: The author is a Civil War and Underground Railroad books. This article provides many more pertinent details about the entire series of events and national and viewpoint after the event and after the trials. The last sentence presents what seem to be a common opinion: "The fallout from the September 11, 1851, riot and subsequent events helped fuel the great ideological divide which later erupted in a civil war."
6. Parker, William. The Freedman's Story in Two Parts The Atlantic Monthly. (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1866) vol. XVII, Feb. 1866, pp. 152-166; Mar. 1866, pp. 276-295, Electronic Edition. Note: The introduction to Parker's story is mostly unimpressive. It not doubt reflects the times. However, the article is a gem because it is William Parker's story in his own words, an original, primary source. The following comment in the introduction reveals more insight into the "big deal" that Christiana was, also contributing another comment about the Riot precipitating the Civil War. Excerpt:"The author of this narrative--of every line in it--is William Parker. He was an escaped slave, and the principal actor in the Christiana riot--an occurrence which cost the Government of the United States fifty thousand dollars, embittered the relations of two "Sovereign States," aroused the North to the danger of the Fugitive-Slave Law, and, more than any other event, except the raid of John Brown, helped to precipitate the two sections into the mighty conflict which has just been decided on the battle-field."
7. Malburne, Meredith. Summary Summary (of William Parker's Freedman Article in The Atlantic Monthly. Electronic article at University of North Carolina website. Note: This is a summary by Malburne of William Parker's Freedman 1866 Article in The Atlantic Monthly. It is not clear whether or not it is published anywhere except online and there is no date. Based on the "Works Consulted: section it is obviously a contemporary summary, and worth reading. The Works Consulted section is also of value:
  • Bacon, Margaret Hope, Rebellion at Christiana, New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1975.
  • Bland Jr., Sterling Lecater. "Parker, William," The African American National Biography, eds. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks. Higginbotham, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, 243-244
  • Nichols, Charles H., Black Men in Chains: Narratives by Escaped Slaves, New York: Lawrence Hill and Co., 1972.
  • Rosenburg, John, William Parker: Rebel Without Rights, New York: Millbrook Press, 1996.
8. History Channel. The Christiana Riot This Day in History 11 September 1851. online. Note: Information about "fugitive slave laws", also a link to the Dred Scott case of 1857 and Underground Railroad. Says the network was primarily free African Americans helping people considered to be fugitive slaves escape to freedom in the Northern states or Canada.
9. Smallwood, Thomas. A Narrative of Thomas Smallwood, (Coloured Man:) Giving an Account of His Birth--The Period He Was Held in Slavery--His Release--and Removal to Canada, etc. Together With an Account of the Underground Railroad. Written by Himself. (Toronto: James Stephens. 1851) electronic edition transcribed from a microfiche supplied by the North Carolina State University Library. Note: insight in to Underground Railroad and the nature of the network which did NOT include all abolitionists.
10. Griest, Ellwood. John and Mary; or, The Fugitive Slaves, a Tale of South-Eastern Pennsylvania. (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Inquirer Printing and Publishing Company, 1873). electronic edition. Note: seems to have no connection of Christiana. However, it is an included example of the resources about African Americans as fugitives, at UNC, many in their own words, which contain the mention of the names and details of numerous additional African Americans.
11. Anderson, John. Christiana Riot of 1851 (2013, November 19) online. Note: Again a source noting the significance that lead to Civil War: Excerpts:
"One slave-capturing expedition in September, 1851 led to the Christiana Riot.
"John Beard, Thomas Wilson, Alexander Scott, and Edward Thompson (the names they were known by in Pennsylvania) escaped enslavement."
"Thus the riot became the first of a series of episodes including 'Bleeding Kansas' in the late 1850s and John Brown’s Raid at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 that propelled the nation toward the Civil War."
Source of the author's information, is also of value:
  • Slaughter, Thomas P. Bloody Dawn: The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991)
  • Katz, Jonathan. Bloody Dawn: The Fugitive Slave Rebellion (New York: Cromwell, 1974)
  • Hensel, William. The Christiana Riot and Treason Trail of 1851 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: New Era Printing, 1911)
  • Forbes, David. A True Story of the Christiana Riot (Quarryville, Pennsylvania, 1898)
  • Calcarco, Thomas. Places of the Underground Railroad, a Geographical Guide (Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publishing, 2010); http://www.etymonline.com/cw/christiana.htm
12. *Wikipedia coverage. Note: Excellent source for names of those involved, and bibliography, also.
13. Newspaper articles
These are all directly from Archives of Maryland Online: [8]Note: As might be expected renditions of the event are different in Maryland than they are in Pennsylvania.

Additional Source Material

(may or may not be accessible online - some are not yet checked yet)

  • Hall, Aaron R. “Plant Yourselves on its Primal Granite”: Slavery, History and the Antebellum Roots of Originalism. Law and History Review. Volume 37, Issue 3 (Cambridge University Press, August 2019, Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 July 2019) pp. 743-761. Note: Accessible only by personal or institutional login. However, there is a list of 63 references, the first 12 specifically reference Christiana and some, more specifically, the trial of Castner Hanway - perhaps as precedent, the article being about "Originalism".

Sources

  1. American History to 1865 Final (Online database: Quizlet, Inc. 2020) accessed 20 October 2020
  2. Archives of Maryland Online. Biographical Series. Edward Gorsuch Maryland State Archives, 4 November 2010.
  3. Parker, William. The Freedman's Story in Two Parts The Atlantic Monthly. (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1866) vol. XVII, Feb. 1866, pp. 152-166; Mar. 1866, pp. 276-295, Electronic Edition.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Anderson, John. Christiana Riot of 1851 (2013, November 19) online
  5. Mingus, Scott." Black History Month: Events at the Gorsuch Tavern helped spark the 1851 Christiana Riots 13 February 2015.
  6. Parker, William. The Freedman's Story in Two Parts The Atlantic Monthly. (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1866) vol. XVII, Feb. 1866, pp. 152-166; Mar. 1866, pp. 276-295, Electronic Edition.
  7. U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Petition of Edward Gorsuch in the Fugitive Slave Petition Book.
  8. Archives of Maryland Online. Biographical Series. Maryland State Archives, 4 November 2010.

Acknowledgements

  • Archives of Maryland Online. Biographical Series. Edward Gorsuch Maryland State Archives, 4 November 2010.
    Note: Nearly all of the initial basic information in this space, and most of the sources, as of 25 September 2020, are from the Archives of Maryland Online.


This Christiana Riot space is a rough draft. The purpose is creation of profiles for the nine Christiana Riot individuals.


Everything is subject to revision and improvement as needed, for example:

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  • Content editing (of course wording, spelling, and grammar), adding, removing, thoughtful and accurate writing, ease of reading (paragraphs, spacing, bolding etc.) display, sourcing (verifying, adding), illustrations, photos . . .




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"...notable by WikiTree definition?" A National Biography, Wikipedia page, etc. for any of 'the people' involved? "It WAS a notable event, as the first challenge to the "fugitive slave law", shortly after the act became law." And, very well written, as I read the whole of it and I rarely do that. Congratulations Mary!
posted by [Living Britain]
Thank you, B., for the definition, and for the complementary kind comment. <smile> I aim to be accurate and precise - also appreciate corrections and suggestions.
posted by Mary Gossage
All good questions. B. Britain. I clarified questions 2 and 3 in the first paragraph (hopefully).

As far as notable according to wikitree standards? I don't know wikitree standards about "notable" people.

It WAS a notable event, as the first challenge to the "fugitive slave law", shortly after the act became law. Those who challenged it (39 people) won in court, even though shots were fired and the "owner" ended up dead. Perhaps it was even a landmark case. It would not have happened if the six men had not escaped, years earlier. Perhaps the folks involved are all considered to be notorious?

It probably reflected public opinion - the activity in Christian together with the trial - even in Maryland which was still committed to slavery. It may have inspired John Brown's Raid (again a problem with Maryland) and other incidents; and unfortunately it may have turned some of those who supported slavery more vicious about taking the law into their own hands. So, perhaps more "notorious" than notable - but it may depend on one's p.o.v. . . .

posted by Mary Gossage
edited by Mary Gossage
A lot of references are here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christiana_Riot (No, I didn't read through them.)

Thank you, Mary. Of course these ancestors are notable, but are any of them notable by WikiTree definition? Were all of the formerly enslaved from Maryland? From just the one slaveholder plantation?

Nice write-up. Usually I have many unanswered questions, but here only three. Maybe I missed the answers?

posted by [Living Britain]