How Ellen and William Craft Escaped Slavery

Ellen Craft’s mother was an enslaved woman of African descent and some European ancestry, Maria, in Clinton, Georgia. Her father was the enslaver of her mother, Major James Smith. Smith’s wife did not like Ellen’s presence, as she resembled Major Smith’s family. When Ellen was eleven years old, she was sent to Macon, Georgia, with a daughter of the Smith’s, as a wedding gift to the daughter.

In Macon, Ellen met William Craft, an enslaved man, and craftsman

‘Reasserting white power’: behind the psychosis that gave rise to blackface

It’s 1830. You’re a poor Irish immigrant living in New York’s infamous Five Points slums. Penniless and uneducated, you’re viewed by affluent white society as every bit as inferior as the blacks you live among in overcrowded squalor.

As best as you can tell, you’ll never gain an ounce of status or wealth unless you can win the social acceptance of the Anglo elites. How do you convince them you’re white – a racial category that was still new and, they hoped, malleable – like them?

Paint yourself black, of course.