Yesterday was a day of Black Joy for me as I remembered the 41 abolitionist farmers from Christiana, Pennsylvania who were tried for treason and acquitted 170 years ago at Independence Hall here in Philadelphia.
Their crime: resisting arrest and refusing to allow four members of their community to be returned to slavery. The Black abolitionists successfully fought off an armed posse of white kidnappers with farm tools after William Parker’s wife rang a bell from a second floor window signaling help.
The South was outraged that a white man seeking to retrieve his property could be killed and no one was arrested. President Millard Fillmore responding to political pressure ordered federal troops days after the incident to Christiana to put down the riot (it was actually a skirmish) and every Black that they could find in the remote farming community was arrested, 38 in all.
Today, I remembered and reinterpreted our history not shared with the public visiting Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Questions that I still have to research and learn include the Black communities concern, protest, over these men being put on trial. My remembrance also brings to a close my Walk to Freedom journey commemorating the Christiana Resistance and our fight for freedom.
All 41 defendants were acquitted with the help of the late Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Lancaster.