25 Little Known Slavery Facts That’ll Make You Emotional

11Quilombo Dos Palmares

Quilombo Dos Palmares

Quilombo Dos Palmares was a community of fugitive slaves in Brazil that resisted Portuguese efforts to destroy it for almost a century. One estimate places the population of Palmares in the 1690s at around 20,000 inhabitants.

12William Lee

William Lee

William “Billy” Lee was George Washington’s slave and personal valet. He fought alongside Washington through the entire American Revolutionary War and was the only slave of Washington's who was emancipated immediately upon his death.



Before the Mayflower, Squanto was kidnapped, sold into slavery in Spain, and escaped back to North America, only to find his entire tribe wiped out from disease. The site he later helped the Pilgrams settle at was the summer village of his tribe, Plymoth Rock.

14Roman slaves

Roman slaves

Roman slaves wore collars of iron with messages like a modern dog collar, for example, this one, which reads "I have run away; hold me. When you shall have returned me to my master, Zoninus, you will receive a solidus."

15Mary Bowser

Mary Bowser

Mary Bowser was a freed slave with a Quaker education and a photographic memory, posed as a slow-witted slave to spy for the Union in Confederate President Jefferson Davis' household through much of the Civil War.

16Wheeling Gaunt

Wheeling Gaunt

Wheeling Gaunt was a slave who bought his and his family's freedom in 1845 before moving to Yellow Springs, Ohio. At the time of his death, he bequeathed a large portion of his land and estate to the village under the condition that each widow be given flour annually, which continues to this day.



An African slave named Onesimus taught colonists in Boston how to inoculate themselves against smallpox. The treatment had been common in China and Africa for centuries.

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In 1851 was a runaway slave named Jerry was arrested in Syracuse, New York during the anti-slavery Liberty Party's convention. A crowd of hundreds of abolitionists broke into the city jail and freed Jerry, eventually smuggling him to Canada. Nine participants in the rescue also fled to avoid prosecution.

19William Ellis

William Ellis

William Ellis was a Texas-born slave who crossed the border to slavery-free Mexico and became a millionaire. Later on, he attempted to bring African Americans to Mexico and even served as a diplomat of the US to the King of Ethiopia.

20Oney Judge

Oney Judge

An escaped slave of George Washington, Oney Judge lived her life as a fugitive in New Hampshire and provided historians the most detailed account of slavery at Mount Vernon.

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