William Wells Brown Fact 1: William Wells Brown was born in the United States around 1814, although there no existing records confirming his exact date of birth. He died at around 70 years of age, on November 6, 1884, in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
William Wells Brown Fact 2: William Wells Brown was an African-American who was born into slavery in Montgomery County in Kentucky. His mother was a slave called Elizabeth and his father was a white man called George W. Higgins, he was cousin to William's slave owner Dr Young.
William Wells Brown Fact 3: His mother had seven children, including William, by various fathers. Their names were Solomon, Leander, Benjamin, Joseph, Milford, and Elizabeth.
William Wells Brown Fact 4: His father, George W. Higgins, made his master promise not to sell the child. However, Dr Young broke his promise when he sold both William and his mother, Elizabeth.
William Wells Brown Fact 5: William Wells Brown was sold on numerous occasions to various slaves masters who hired him out to work on the Missouri River on steamboats. He spent most of his young life in St. Louis.
William Wells Brown Fact 6: William Wells Brown and his mother attempted an escape to freedom in 1833, however, they were caught in Illinois and returned.
William Wells Brown Fact 7: William Wells Brown managed to escape from slavery successfully in 1834. He was onboard a steam boat which was heading to Cincinnati in the free state of Ohio. Once the steamboat docked, he bravely took his chance and slipped away.
William Wells Brown Fact 8: A Quaker friend helped William Wells Brown following his escape; he gave him money, clothes and food. It was from his Quaker friend that his surnames 'Wells Brown' derived.
William Wells Brown Fact 9: He married Elizabeth Schooner in 1834, just one year following his escape from slavery. The couple had two surviving daughters together; their names were Clarissa and Josephine.
William Wells Brown Fact 10: William Wells Brown settled in New York from 1836 to 1845. He worked on Lake Erie as a steamboat man. During these years, he helped many slaves to escape to freedom by hiding them on the boat or transporting them to Free states or Canada.
William Wells Brown Fact 11: William Wells Brown and his wife, Elizabeth, became separated. He moved to England with his daughters where he became a lecturer on abolition. A British couple purchased William's freedom in 1854 which meant that he and his children could return to the United States safely.
William Wells Brown Fact 12: His daughter, Josephine, published an account of her father's life in 1856 in a book called 'Biography of an American Bondman'. She drew an account of his life as a slave which included his experiences, his brave escape and his time in Europe.
William Wells Brown Fact 13: William Wells Brown married Anna Elizabeth Gray in Boston on April 12, 1860. Anna was 19 years his junior, she was 25 years old at the time.William Wells Brown Fact 14: The former African-American slave, William Wells Brown, became a writer and an abolitionist. Following his escape, he became actively involved in the anti-slavery movement. William Wells Brown joined various anti-slavery societies and he wrote that within a period of 7 months, he managed to assist 69 fugitive slaves with their escape.
William Wells Brown Fact 15: The following quote by William Wells Brown reflects upon his escape and lack of education: 'He who escapes from slavery at the age of twenty years, without any education, as did the writer of this letter, must read when others are asleep, if he would catch up with the rest of the world.'
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