World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Jerry Rescue

Article Id: WHEBN0016287242
Reproduction Date:

Title: Jerry Rescue  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Syracuse, New York, Ethnic groups in Syracuse, New York, Abolitionism in the United States, British in Syracuse, New York, Italians in Syracuse, New York
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Jerry Rescue

The Jerry Rescue, on October 1, 1851, involved the daring, public rescue of a fugitive slave who had been arrested the same day, in Syracuse, New York, during the anti-slavery Liberty Party's state convention. The escaped slave was William Henry, a 40-year-old cooper from Missouri who called himself "Jerry."[1]


The fight against slavery in Central New York and the Finger Lakes region and the desire to help escaped slaves occurred, because New York State was a free state and a number of well positioned citizens, who were sympathetic to the slaves, lived in the area. The central location of Syracuse meant that many slaves passed through the area "on their way to freedom" in Canada.[2]

Fugitive slave law

On October 1, 1851, William Henry was arrested in Syracuse under the Fugitive Slave Law. The anti-slavery Liberty Party was holding its state convention in the city, and when word of the arrest spread, several hundred abolitionists including Charles Augustus Wheaton broke into the city jail and freed Jerry. The event came to be widely known as the Jerry Rescue. In the aftermath, the Congregationalist minister Samuel Ringgold Ward had to flee to Canada to escape persecution because of his participation[3]

Earlier in 1851, Secretary of State Daniel Webster had warned that the law would be enforced even "here in Syracuse in the midst of the next Anti-Slavery Convention."[1] The arrest was considered a message that the locally unpopular law would be seriously enforced by federal authorities.[1]

Trial and freedom

The trial took place that same day in the Townsend Building located in Clinton Square in the second floor office of the U.S. Commissioner Sabine who tried the case. It was his first trial. Jerry escaped during the afternoon session and Sabine's office was wrecked.[4]

Underground railroad

Following his escape and subsequent rescue, Henry was hidden in Syracuse for several days until he was taken first to the Orson Ames House at Mexico, New York and then to Oswego where he crossed Lake Ontario into Canada.[3][5]

A total of 26 of the rescuers were tried for their actions but only one conviction resulted.[5] The suspects were bailed out by a number of people including U.S. Senator and former governor of New York, William H. Seward.[3] Nine others, including Rev. J. W. Loguen, himself a fugitive slave, were charged but fled to Canada.[5]

Syracuse became an active center for the abolitionist movement, due in large part to the influence of Gerrit Smith and a group allied with him, mostly associated with the Unitarian Church and their pastor, Reverend Samuel May in Syracuse, as well as with Quakers in nearby Skaneateles, supported as well by abolitionists in many other religious congregations.[3] Prior to the Civil War, due to the work of Jermain Wesley Loguen and others in defiance of federal law, Syracuse was known as the "great central depot on the Underground Railroad."

Some of the others involved from the area were Frederick Douglass, Millard Fillmore, Matilda Joslyn Gage, John W. Jones, William Marks and Harriet Tubman.[2]

Jerry Rescue building

The event was commemorated in the 1850s with the renaming of the Townsend Block to the Jerry Rescue Building which is no longer standing.[6] The building, constructed in 1829,[7] was located on the southside of Clinton Square at the corner of Water and Clinton Streets.[4]

The event is now memorialized with a monument in Clinton Square, Syracuse.[3]

Townsend Block in Syracuse, New York in Clinton Square - The Jerry Rescue Building constructed in 1843 - Syracuse Herald

Underground railroad homes

Cayuga County:[2]

Map of various Underground Railroad routes

Chemung County:[2]

Onondaga County:[2]

Seneca County:[2]

Yates County:[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b c d e f g
  3. ^ a b c d e
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ "The 'Jerry Rescue' Building" at Syracuse Then and Now. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  7. ^
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.