A Free Colored Boy in a New Orleans Slave Dungeon (1855)

This item appeared in the July 27, 1855, issue of the Frederick Douglass’ Paper published in Rochester, New York.

Isaac Roberts a free colored boy of Ohio is now confined in prison in New Orleans as a runaway slave. The boy formerly resided in Harveysburgh in the Southwestern part of the State. The following account of the proceedings of a meeting in that place for his release we find in the Wilmington Independent:

At a meeting of the Citizens of Harveysburgh and vicinity, held in said place on the 7th inst., for the purpose of effecting the release of Isaac Roberts, a free colored boy of Ohio, now imprisoned as a runaway slave in the City of New Orleans. Wm. Sabin presided, and Charles Hurd, was appointed secretary.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

The following preamble and resolution was adopted.

Whereas, from authentic information through a Mr. Foster, a resident lawyer of New Orleans that Isaac Roberts a free colored boy of Ohio and formerly a resident of this place has been imprisoned since the 12th of March last, in the Negro Dungeons of that city as a runaway slave, and according to the laws of the State will be sold into slavery, if not released against the 12th of September next to pay the jail fees and attendant expenses, (which are estimated at $200.) And further according to the laws of said State, it will be necessary in order to effect his release, that some person or persons go there to identify him.

Therefore, Resolved, To effect this object, that a Committee be appointed to solicit subscriptions through various sections of the country amongst the friends of freedom for the redemption and attendant expenses thereto, and also to obtain the services of some suitable persons to go to the said City of New Orleans immediately and negotiate for his release.

Isreal Taylor
Harveysburg, Ohio, July 9th, 1855.

Additional Mention

Frederick Douglass’ Paper, August 17, 1855: On the 12th of March last, Isaac Roberts, a mulatto, aged about 21 years, who was born at Hamilton, O., and was raised at Harveysburg, Warren county, O., by Dr. Harvey, being employed upon a steamboat, as fireman, between St. Louis and New Orleans , while standing upon the levee on the latter place, was arrested by the police and confined in jail as a runaway slave. Unfortunately, Roberts had no evidences of his freedom about him being in the same condition as most white freemen are in that respect. Roberts has now been in jail nearly four months, and will be sold, to pay costs, I SIXTY days, unless redeemed. He is represented as being a worthy man, has a mother residing in this city, and a sister with Mr. C. Butler, a well-know citizens of Franklin. – Dayton (Ohio) Gazette

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