Student Activities

An American Story – The Jerry Rescue of 1851

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Social Studies


In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which said that all runaway slaves had to be returned to their masters, even if they had gained their freedom by escaping to a “free state”. On October 1st, 1851, an Abolitionist political party was holding an Anti-Slavery Convention in Syracuse, NY. That same day, a runaway slave named William “Jerry” Henry was arrested and jailed under the Fugitive Slave Law by federal marshals. 

This is the often untold story of bravery and conflict that took place less than 50 miles away from the site of the first Women’s Rights Convention - the Jerry Rescue. The class will read the story and make connections between people who were active in Seneca Falls and the Abolition movement to end slavery.


Step 1. Describe to your class the Fugitive Slave Law, and the Underground Railroad.

Step 2. Click on the links for The Jerry Rescue, William "Jerry' Henry's escape, and "Abolitionist battle down a door in Syracuse to free a fugitive.Download each and print. Distribute to your class.

Step 3. Use the Activities for a class discussion on the Jerry Rescue.

Step 4. Print out the questions under "Making Connections" and have your class answer them.

Step 5. Review the answers with your class.

Park Connections

The leaders in the Seneca Falls Convention came from the antislavery movement. Jermaine Loguen who participated in the Jerry Rescue stayed overnight at the M'Clintock House in Waterloo on his way to Canada to escape capture by federal marshals for being a runaway slave. This was the same house in which the Seneca Falls Convention was planned three years earlier.



Download Story of Jerry's Escape

Download The Jerry Rescue activities

Last updated: August 28, 2015