Married, but separated on different plantations William and Ellen Craft devised a plan to escape the horrors of slavery.
Ellen, who was very fair-skinned, passed as a young white man. Her husband William played her doting servant.They set out on December 21, 1848 and traveled luxuriously by train and ferry. During a four-day trip they were almost thwarted, but quick wits and good old-fashioned luck kept them on their way. After arriving in the free city of Philadelphia they were given a crash course in reading and writing. After a short stay, they moved to Boston ere William resumed work as a cabinetmaker and Ellen became a seamstress. Two year later slave catchers showed up, but they quickly fled to England to avoid their captors. They remained in Europe for over 20 years and had five children.
In 1860, the couple wrote “Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom,” chronicling the escape. The Craft’s returned to the United States in the 1870s and established a school for newly freed African Americans.
Learn more about their story in Smithsonian Magazine.