Slave ball and chain

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One man chose to break the law by cutting this shackle from an enslaved person's ankle. Escaped slaves crossed the Missouri border into Kansas Territory in increasing s after Some continued north into free states or Canada, but others stayed in Kansas hoping to start new lives in freedom. This shackle is a very rare object and illustrates the efforts of both African Americans and whites in opposing slavery. In Robert McFarland was asked by a neighbor to help rescue an abused slave at Lexington, Missouri. As a blacksmith, McFarland had the necessary tools to cut the shackle from the slave's leg.

Many years later, when donating the shackle to the Society, McFarland wrote a letter describing the incident:.

Slave ball and chain

McFarland removed the ball and chain and threw them into a nearby well, then buried the shackle near his foundry to hide what he had done because the Fugitive Slave Act of made it a federal crime to aid escaping slaves. The slave probably escaped to Kansas by walking upstream along the Missouri River, a favorite route of those held in bondage on farms along the waterway.

Slave ball and chain

By this time, several Kansas cities on the border were the preferred destinations of fleeing slaves. This is particularly true of Leavenworth and Fort Scott, where army forts offered protection and opportunities for employment. The free black population of Leavenworth alone grew from 14 in to in The Civil War began just a few months after McFarland freed the unnamed slave.

He made shot for the Union forces during the war and, after the conflict, his wife Olive Edwards McFarland operated a school for African American children in the basement of their house in Lexington. The McFarland family moved to Kansas ineventually settling in Wichita where Robert opened a foundry and machine shop.

Slave ball and chain

They brought with them the shackle, which Robert had dug up at the end of the war. In he donated it to the Society as "a memento of slave times. Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Slave ball and chain

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Slave ball and chain

Jump to Slave Shackle One man chose to break the law by cutting this shackle from an enslaved person's ankle. Many years later, when donating the shackle to the Society, McFarland wrote a letter describing the incident: "As near as I can recollect it was in the fall of at Lexington, Mo.

On the other end of the chain--about 5 ft from the shackle--was a heavy iron ball weighing about 20 lbs which the Negro when going to or from his work was obliged to carry by placing the chain over his shoulder with the ball hanging behind.

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Slave ball and chain

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Slave ball and chain

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Slave Shackle