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Adam Crosswhite

Early Marshall's stand against slavery.

In 1843, Adam Crosswhite and his family ran away from a Kentucky plantation because he learned that his four children were to be sold. The Crosswhites made the journey north and finally settled in Marshall.  Eventually a group of men came to Marshall to capture the Crosswhites and return them to their owner. 

On the morning of January 26, 1847, the slave catchers and a local deputy sheriff were pounding on Adam's door. His neighbors heard the noise and came running. The cry of "slave catchers!" was yelled through the streets of Marshall. Soon over 100 people surrounded the Crosswhite home. Threats were shouted back and forth. Finally, the deputy sheriff, swayed by the crowd's opinion, decided he should arrest the men from Kentucky instead.

By the time the slave catchers would post bond and get out of jail, the Crosswhites fled to Canada.  The slave owner then went to the federal court in Detroit. He sued several of Marshall’s leading citizens for damages.  After two trials in federal court, the defendants in the case were ordered to pay the value of the slaves plus court costs.  

Because of the Crosswhite Case and many others like it, Senator Henry Clay from Kentucky pushed a new law through Congress in 1850.  It was known as the Fugitive Slave Law, which made it very risky for anyone to help an escaped slave and was one of the reasons for the Civil War. 

The Crosswhites eventually returned to their home in Marshall.

107 N. Kalamazoo Ave · Marshall, MI 49068
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