Feisty Females (and Fellows): Ellen and William Craft

EllenCraftIn December of 1848 a man and woman, both born into slavery, devised a scheme – a ruse – which would lead them to freedom.  Their reason for embarking on such a daring adventure was later eloquently stated in the opening lines of their memoir, Running A Thousand Miles:

Having heard while in Slavery that “God made of one blood all nations of men,” and also that the American Declaration of Independence says, that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;” we could not understand by what right we were held as “chattels.”  Therefore, we felt perfectly justified in undertaking the dangerous and exciting task of “running a thousand miles” in order to obtain those rights which are so vividly set forth in the Declaration.

Ellen Craft, the light-skinned daughter of Maria and her white master, Colonel James Smith – and the half-sister of Smith’s other children – was born in Georgia in 1826.  Often mistaken for one of Smith’s white children, and said to have been a great annoyance to the colonel’s wife, eleven year-old Ellen was given to her half-sister as a wedding present in 1837.

NOTE: This article is being re-purposed and may be included in a future edition (or Special Edition) of Digging History Magazine. After January 1, 2018 it can also be purchased as an individual article. If interested, please subscribe to the blog (to the right of this post) and you will be notified when the new Digging History Magazine web site is launched.


  1. THE HOUSE NEGRO AND THE FIELD NEGRO (2009 animation) | Moorbey'z Blog - […] Feisty Females (and Fellows): Ellen and William Craft […]
  2. Feisty, Far-Out, Feudin’ and Fightin’ Fridays: In Case You Missed These | Diggin' History - […] Feisty Females (and Fellows):  Ellen and William Craft – Ellen Craft was the light-skinned daughter of her slave mother…

Leave a Comment