Lives In Limbo: A Contraband Camp In the Shadow of John Brown’s Fort

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Date: September 2, 2016
Contact: Melinda Day, 304-535-6063

On Saturday and Sunday, September 17th and 18th from 11am to 4pm, join Harpers Ferry National Historical Park’s living history staff and volunteers as they step back to the tense days when African American contraband stole and defined their own freedom in the shadow of John Brown’s Fort.

By 1862, runaway slaves who came into United States Army lines were called contraband – confiscated enemy property.  As contraband, African Americans experienced a safety net where slave owners seeking their valuable human property were turned away.  However, any African American venturing beyond the safety net of the military post, could be seized, returned to masters, or sold on an auction block. 

Abolitionist Adam Gurowski said  “Virginia…must be surrounded with glowing contraband camps. What a splendid position for such a camp in Harpers Ferry under the shadow of immortal John Brown!”

Last updated: September 2, 2016

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Mailing Address:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


(304) 535-6029

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