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Northeast / Massachusetts

Charles Turner Torrey Story Massachusetts Charles Turner Torrey born in Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1813, graduated from Yale and became a minister. He chose to abandon the ministry in favor of the cause of abolitionist. In December 1841, he went to Washington DC as correspondent for several Massachusetts newspapers (Lowell, Salem, and Boston). In January 1842, he spent a brief time in jail for attending as a reporter a slaveholders' convention in Annapolis, Maryland. This experience in jail apparently did not deter him. He continued not only reporting on the conditions of slavery, but quietly assisting slaves in Maryland and Virginia escape to the North. About the first of May 1844, he move to Baltimore, to make that his headquarters in assisting slaves. On June 24 he was arrested in Baltimore, on the complaint of a Virginia slave-dealer, for aiding slaves to escape, and this was immediately followed by similar action on the part of a Maryland citizen. Torrey was arrested in Baltimore and charged with assisting in the escape of nearly four hundred slaves. Throughout Massachusetts, Torrey Committees were immediately formed to raise money for his defense. He was tried, convicted, and imprisoned for six years at hard labor. He died in prison May 9, 1846 of pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 33. Taken to Boston, his funeral was held at Tremont Temple and he was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery. The story of his sufferings and death excited eager interest both in this country and in Europe, and "Torrey's blood crieth out" became a watchword of the Abolition Party, giving new impetus to the antislavery cause. As a martyred to the cause of abolition, many called Torrey the “father of the Underground Railroad.” Charles Turner Torrey published: "Memoir of William R. Saxton" (Boston, 1838); "Home, or the Pilgrim's Faith Revived" a volume of sketches of life in Massachusetts, which he prepared in prison (1846); also see "Memoir of the Martyr Torrey " (1847).


Submitted By:

Martha Mayo, Massachusetts,
martha_mayo@uml.edu