The Edenton, NC waterfront served as a departure point for the Maritime Underground Railroad. This network was developed in North Carolina by African-American watermen who were able to arrange passage to northern states for fugitive slaves through their knowledge and expertise in maritime activities. One well-documented example is Harriet Jacob's account of her 1842 escape from Edenton by ship. Her escape was arranged by a waterman named Peter. Jacobs describes in "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself", the arrangements Peter made in advance, how plans to transport her to a waiting ship were carried out, her fear of being found out, and her thankfulness when disembarking in Philadelphia that her friend Peter had correctly judged the ship captain's character. This example is not only of one individual's escape to freedom, but also of the network that existed making that escape possible. Jacobs' autobiograhpy was published in 1861 with names and places changed. In 1987, the actual names of characters were authenticated and found to have been residents of Edenton, NC.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: Broad Street, along Edenton Bay Waterfront, Edenton, 27932
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Anne-Marie Knighton
Location Type: Site
Freedom Seekers: Harriet Jacobs
UGRR Operatives: Peter (NY, 1842)