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Blackburn Riots of 1833

After Thornton and Ruthie Blackburn escaped from Kentucky, their former owner tried to have them recaptured in 1833. The court ruled in favor of their owners and the Blackburns were jailed in preparation to be sent back to Kentucky. Detroit’s black community devised a plan to liberate them from jail and smuggle them to Canada. The plan was successful but whites retaliated attacking black men and women and burning homes. When the jail was set on fire, Mayor Chaplin requested the aid of federal troops to restore peace to the city. He also ordered all black residents to pay a $500 bond or leave the city, causing many black Detroiters to move to Canada.

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© 2012 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. All rights reserved. 315 East Warren Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201 | (313) 494-5800 | info@chwmuseum.org

This program was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural Program.