The Story: Escape From Slavery

Running away was a choice for slaves who were unable to tolerate slavery. Some slaves ran away with the goal of living in the Northern U.S. or Canada, while others wanted to reunite with family members or simply escape unbearable abuse. Few slaves were succesful in permanently escaping slavery, however. Most runaways were eventually captured or turned themselves in and accepted their punishment. Exact figures for the number of runaways in North Carolina were not collected, but from the existing newspaper advertisements for runaway slaves, it appears that the majority of runaways were young, in their 20s and 30s, and male. About two-thirds of the slaves in the advertisements made their escape alone, while the other one-third escaped in small groups.

"I therefore concluded it was wisest to take quietly whatever he choose to inflict, but as the strokes fell upon my back, I firmly resolved that I would no longer be a slave. I would now escape or die in the attempt. They might shoot me down if they chose, but I would not live a slave. The next morning, I decided, that, as my master was preparing for one of his slave-driving expeditions to Alabama, I would wait until he was gone; that when he was fairly started on his journey, I would start on mine, he for the south, and I for the north."


James Curry, Person County, N.C.