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Grant number like: FT-61131-13

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Richard J. Bell
University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, MD 20742-5141)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2013 – 9/30/2013

Kidnapper and Slave Trader Patty Cannon (c. 1760-1829) and the Illicit Market for Slaves in the U.S.

Long before Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) fixed the depiction of man-stealers in the American imagination, there was Patty Cannon (c. 1760-1829). A kidnapper, enslaver and slave trader of unprecedented audacity and ambition, this Delaware woman died by her own hand in prison in 1829. Concluded decades before the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 brought the abduction of free black men and women to national attention, her repellent career offers a rare glimpse of slavery’s darkest secret: a black market underworld in which legally free people were kidnapped and traded as slaves; a reverse underground railroad of infamous repute in its day that has since been largely forgotten. I seek an NEH Summer Stipend to fund two months of extended primary source research at Duke University Library, Yale University Library and the American Antiquarian Society; the three archives best equipped to help me reconstruct Cannon’s illicit activities.