Visitors' Book


Visitors' Book


Secretary of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Passmore Williamson hurried toward a departing ship in the summer of 1855. Before the ship left Philadelphia, he needed alert slave Jane Johnson that according to Pennsylvania law, she was free to leave her master at any time while on Pennsylvania land. She and her two children left her master and disappeared into the protection of the Underground Railroad. The ensuing court case against Williamson set legal precedent for use of writs of habeas corpus, included a dramatic testimony from Johnson herself, and was of intense interest to the public, particularly abolitionists. Williamson was jailed for 100 days before being released in November of 1855. His visitors' book documents his incarceration and the public support for Williamson's release.



Collection Items

Passmore Williamson Visitors' Book Part 1: Visitors' Signatures followed by Letters
A log of signatures of visitors to Passmore Williamson during his five month incarceration in 1855, followed by letters pasted into the book. While many signatures were made in person, some were added by visitors for supporters who could not visit…

Passmore Williamson Visitors' Book Part 2: Letters of Support
A log of letters sent to Passmore Williamson during his five month incarceration in 1855. This is a continuation of the letters found in the Visitors' Book Part 1.
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