July 2008, Volume 11, Issue 1
From the President's Desk
The Mason-Dixon Line isn’t just a line on maps that separates two states. From the time Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon began surveying it, the Mason-Dixon Line has played a central role in many historical events – among them the tug of war over the ownership of land between the Penn family, proprietors of the colony of Pennsylvania, and the Calvert family, which controlled Maryland. Traditionally, it has also divided the Northern states from the Southern states and for thousands of slaves, the Mason-Dixon Line culturally bisected the United States into the land of freedom and the land of slavery.
There is little mention, though, in American history books that in the 1700s there were, in fact, slave markets operating and making profitable business gains in the northern colonies. Shockingly, William Penn owned slaves – he a Quaker and father of the utopian colony of Pennsylvania, a sanctuary of religious and racial freedom for “everyone.” Penn also tolerated others who owned slaves. To no avail, Penn did make provisions in his 1701 will to free his slaves upon his death. It was to no avail because James Logan, born in Ireland, Penn’s trusted secretary and executor of his will, did not carry out Penn’s directives because he considered it a “private matter.” Logan’s decision leaves little doubt about his feelings toward the institution of slavery.
This being said, Pennsylvania did lead the way, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, toward the abolition of slavery by passing the Pennsylvania Gradual Abolition Act of March 1, 1780, the first anti-slavery law passed by a state. The law stated that children born after March 1, 1780 to enslaved parents would be indentured to their parents’ owner until they reached the age of 28. At that time, the young adults would be given their freedom. The law also disallowed any new slaves being brought into the state as a resident. About 6,000 slaves resided in Pennsylvania in 1780 when the bill was passed.
The chief sponsor of the bill was George Bryon, a passionate abolitionist, who was elected to the legislature after having served seven months during 1778 as Pennsylvania’s Governor. Bryon was a Scots-Irish Presbyterian who was born in County Dublin, Ireland. He was a renowned attorney in Philadelphia and an influential political figure. Bryon along with Benjamin Franklin and James Cannon authored Pennsylvania’s 1776 Constitution. There were only three governors during the Revolutionary era – Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Wharton Jr., and George Bryon.
* George Bryan’s signature was added to the Brumbaugh Collection of Pennsylvania Governors’ Signatures in December 2001 by Tom Brumbaugh. The document is unique because it also contains the signature of Thomas McKean, another Pennsylvania Governor.
The Quakers of Philadelphia played a major role in the fight against slavery. They formed the Pennsylvania Abolition Society which not only lobbied the legislature but also aided in the escape to freedom of hundreds of slaves. Non-Quaker members included such eminent individuals as Thomas Paine in April 1775 and Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush in the post Revolutionary War period.
Many laws have loopholes and the 1780 Gradual Abolition Act also had one. It allowed owners of slaves from other states to bring their slaves into Pennsylvania with them, but they were only allowed a temporary residency of six months. If the slave owner stayed longer than that, their slaves were given their freedom by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Because Philadelphia was the capital of the United States from 1790 – 1800, the “Father of Our Country,” George Washington had to deal with the temporary residency issue. In fact, at least two of his slaves escaped while Washington resided in Philadelphia. At first, Washington rotated his slaves between Mt. Vernon and Philadelphia, within the six-month limit; and he never brought more than one member of a slave family to Philadelphia, lest it create a greater temptation to escape to freedom. Eventually, in deference to the 1780 act, Washington used German indentured servants. President Adams also had to deal with temporary residency for his slaves. The temporary residency clause in the Gradual Abolition Act was a key factor in the decision to move the national capital from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., where slavery was law. In 1847, the Pennsylvania legislature finally removed temporary residency from the 1780 act, thereby making it difficult for slave owners to enter Pennsylvania accompanied by their slaves.
Our local history provided many of the weft threads woven into Pennsylvania’s history. There were residents scattered throughout Franklin County (including Antrim Township and Greencastle) that owned slaves. The last sale of a slave in Pennsylvania took place just south of Chambersburg.
Danger was always present for slaves and free African Americans in Pennsylvania. Slave catchers, or snatchers as they were also known, kidnapped slaves and free African Americans and sold them into slavery in states where slavery was lawful. Pennsylvania eventually enacted several laws which made the kidnapping of slaves illegal. But unless the salve snatchers were caught, the threat reigned above the heads of African Americans like the ominous clouds of an oncoming tornado.
In Ringgold, Maryland, just south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the mention of the Logan brothers, John, Hugh, Daniel, and Alexander, must have sent shivers up and down the spines of African Americans in the early 1800s, because the Logans were notorious snatchers of people of color. Just prior to the Civil War, Daniel Logan moved to Quincy. Daniel’s name and his brother Hugh’s name are indelibly imprinted in Pennsylvania and American history books because they captured one of John Brown’s men, John E. Cook, while he was making his way north after the raid on Harpers Ferry. Upon capture, Cook was taken to the Chambersburg jail.
In March of this year, a slave’s iron collar was given to Allison-Antrim Museum by Courtland C. Kauffman of Florida. It was used in the early 1800s to tame a slave who had run away three times. The collar had been kept in the Kauffman family for over 175 years until it was gifted to Allison-Antrim Museum.
The runaway slave’s name was Ben. He was about 21 years old. Ben was high spirited and ran away on three occasions in an effort to seek his freedom. He also threatened to kill his master, Andrew Kauffman, who owned a farm in the Kauffman’s Station area.
The ratio of slaves to free African Americans in Pennsylvania during the early 1800s was one to 10, so Ben could have easily blended into the African American society in a large city, such as Philadelphia, had he made it that far.
Upon being captured the third time, Kauffman took him to a blacksmith and had an iron collar made. The two-piece collar, with a spear-like shape on each side, was made of three-quarter inch round forged iron. According to Keven Walker, curator at Antietam National Park, the length of the collar was likely made for the breadth of his shoulders. When riveted together, the semi-circles fit around Ben’s neck with the spear-like shapes resting on his collar bones – which Walker says would have made it bearable for him. The collar seemingly had its effect, for after it was placed around Ben’s neck, he became very obedient. Had he tried to escape a fourth time, the collar would have certainly marked Ben as a runaway slave. Ben remained at the Kauffman farm for the next three years, after which he was sold to a neighbor. At the time of the sale, one of the rivets was removed, and the two-pound iron collar was loosened from around Ben’s neck.
Every Sunday (which was his day off), Ben returned to the Kauffman home and repeatedly asked his former owner to buy him back; but Andrew Kauffman refused. However, Kauffman did tell Ben that he would hire him as a farm hand in four years when, under the Pennsylvania Gradual Abolition Act of 1780, Ben would become a freeman at the age of 28.
Andrew Kauffman never got to keep his promise because just a few weeks before Ben’s 28th birthday, he was kidnapped by slave raiders and taken “south,” meaning anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line, where Ben was sold into permanent slavery. Ben was never heard of again.
The iron slave collar is a rare artifact which has survived as evidence of America’s reprehensible era of slavery. If it wasn’t for Ben’s spirited persona, this iron collar would not have been made. The tangibility of the iron collar is rare, but even rarer is Ben’s story because we know his name. He was a human being who was entitled to freedom and who thirsted for freedom as did all his ancestors before him. Freedom was within Ben’s grasp when it was unlawfully snatched away, a mere eight miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line, just weeks before his 28th birthday. Ben’s story is legion, for it is the story of thousands of African American slaves whose names are not remembered and will never be known.
Celebrating 10 Years!
In preparation of the 10th anniversary celebration, the board of directors is planning an open house event on Thursday, August 28 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. All AAMI members will receive a special invitation via the U.S. Mail. The board looks forward to greeting all of you!
Annual Membership Campaign
You will soon be receiving your annual membership letter in the mail. This year has been economically challenging for everyone. The board of directors hopes that you will be able to continue to help support Allison-Antrim Museum through your membership.
To remain a 501(c)(3) organization, AAMI must receive its support from the public. The membership fees for AAMI are the lowest in the county and they have not changed since they were established in 1997. In 1997, the board wanted to keep the dues affordable for everyone in the community, because AAMI is your museum. The board of directors very much appreciates your giving and your support.
The barn project itself is green, because the barn was salvaged and rebuilt instead of being bulldozed and dumped into a landfill. The “new” barn flooring is recycled old barn floor boards. In the barn, low light levels will also be maintained to protect the exhibited items. The barn foundation is partially situated underground which automatically cuts the heating and cooling costs. In addition, heat pumps are being used to heat and cool both levels. The cistern that is being installed will collect half of the roof’s runoff rainwater which will be used to water the lawn when needed.
Now, AAMI is “Going Greener!” In an effort to help cut some the overhead costs of preparing and mailing the newsletter, we are now offering the receipt of Allison-Antrim Annals in your home via email. By doing so, AAMI will spend less on the purchase of paper, envelopes, stamps, and photocopier toner. If you would like to receive the Allison-Antrim Annals via email, a space to check will be provided on the annual membership form. All you have to do is check yes.
In the Region
Franklin County and Pennsylvania are being represented on the committee by Janet Pollard, Executive Director of the Franklin County Visitors Bureau; Ted Alexander, AAMI’s historian and chief historian at Antietam National Park; Tom Gerhart, AAMI member and local authority on Underground Railroad events in the region; and Bonnie Shockey, president of AAMI’s board of directors and a member of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations.
General George Gordon Meade Visits Greencastle-Antrim
The guest speaker will be Dr. Andy Waskie who portrays Gen. George Gordon Meade. Waskie’s mission is “… to set the record straight on George Meade. He essentially saved the Union at Gettysburg." In 1990, Waskie, a Temple University professor, helped found the General Meade Society of Philadelphia. Its members gather on December 31 every year to commemorate Meade’s birthday. It is through Waskie’s numerous performances at schools, colleges, Civil War organizations such as Chambersburg’s Civil War Seminars, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, and the National Archives that he methodically educates young and old about the life of George Meade and his contributions toward winning the U.S. Civil War.
Meade was a civil engineer who built lighthouses along the eastern coast from New Jersey to Florida. After the war, his interests turned toward establishing two schools for orphans. Meade died at 57 from complications of pneumonia in 1872. His pall bearers included President Ulysses S. Grant and his cabinet. Meade was buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery.
What’s Been Happening
Welcome New Board Members
Calendar of Events