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Part 4: 1831-1865

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Modern Voices
Emma Lapsansky on kidnapping in Philadelphia
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Q: Why was Philadelphia an especial target of kidnappers?
Emma Lapsansky

A: The advantage to being in Philadelphia is that it is, in fact, the closest free city to the South. The disadvantage to being in Philadelphia is that you are a short hop from the slave catchers. A slave catcher who's looking for somebody to return to an owner, why not snatch somebody from Philadelphia, anybody from Philadelphia, rather than go all the way to Canada to look for the real person you're looking for? Anybody who didn't have proof of freedom could be snatched up and taken. Or anybody who did have it could be snatched up, papers destroyed, and you could be taken off to the South.
Emma Lapsansky
Professor of History
Haverford College

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