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Diagram to show the drill the Anti-Man-Hunting League had for the running off of a slave or man-hunter

Diagram to show the drill the Anti-Man-Hunting League had for the running off of a slave or man-hunter Ink on paper
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[ This description is from the project: Staff Favorites ]

The Boston Anti-Man-Hunting League was a secret society founded in 1854 in response to the kidnapping of Anthony Burns and the Fugitive Slave Law. This diagram shows the arrangement of the Boston Anti-Man-Hunting League members as they planned to surround a fugitive slave hunter until he abandoned his attempt to capture a freedom seeker.

“They figured out a plan to kidnap the kidnappers…”

MHS Senior Archivist for Digital Initiatives Nancy Heywood on the Anti-Man-Hunting League's diagram

This oversize document with large hand-written numbers and letters is eye catching and fascinating to me. Collections of manuscript papers and archival records can contain a wide variety of items and this seemingly-simple item initially made me think of dance choreography or a soccer strategy diagram (or a Twister game!), but the more I learned about it and the people who created it, the more I liked the item. This is an action plan developed by men who wanted to do something against the Fugitive Slave Act. The Boston Anti-Man-Hunting-League took time to develop a course of action, and to create a large diagram showing a clear plan to surround a “SH” (“Slave Hunter”) and take hold of the man’s arms and feet. This diagram reminds me that there were many people working for abolition in the 1850s, who wanted to take direct action and if possible, support brave men and women who had freed themselves after being enslaved. I haven’t seen any evidence in the collection that the Boston Anti-Man-Hunting League put their diagram into action, but the diagram is evidence that they figured out a plan to kidnap the kidnappers and it is evidence they wanted to resist the Fugitive Slave Act.

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