William Craft and his wife Ellen were born into slavery in Georgia, where hebecame a skilled carpenter and a “slave favorite.” In 1848 they escaped toBoston, his wife passing for his white male master on the route. Once in New England they learned to read and write. After passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, they were sheltered by abolitionists in safe houses such as the Tappan-Philbrick house. They eventually fled to England where William worked for acabinet maker until they were able to return to the United States. In 1868,several years after the Emancipation Proclamation, they finally settled inGeorgia.
William Craft’s Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom was published in 1860.An important slave narrative, the work recounts the evils of slavery and their escape to the North from Georgia. The Tappan-Philbrick house at 182 Walnut St., where WilliamCraft and his wife stayed in a back room for days to evade a U.S. marshal, standsas a privately owned home. A plaque identifies the Brookline Village house aspart of the Underground Railroad.