Purchasing Burns’ Freedom












History 312: Civil War and Reconstruction Student Web Sites



Reverend Leonard Grimes made the third and final attempt by way of purchasing Burns’ freedom. Grimes had been born to free parents in Leesburg, VA in 1815. He served two years in a Richmond prison for helping Virginia slaves escape. He later had a religious conversion and began preaching. In addition to all of this, he assisted with the Underground Railroad and at the time of Anthony Burns’ arrest was a pastor for the Twelfth Baptist Church in Boston (von Frank 81). Grimes sought to purchase Burns’ freedom for $1200.00, an amount agreed upon by Burns’ owner, Charles Suttle.

Grimes experienced both difficulties and success while trying to raise the money due to the public interest of the case. There were many reasons why people would and would not donate the money. A couple of reasons some of the people refused to pledge an amount of money were because they gave their consent to enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law and because they saw trying to buy Burns’ freedom as recognizing the law’s unenforcibility in Boston. On the other hand, some did help and donate money because of simple humanitarianism, a desire to get rid of or go against the fugitive slave law, and/or a hope to avoid future violent attempts of rescue (Pease 39).

Finally, Grimes had collected the $1200.00 and on time, but when it came time to make the transaction, on a Saturday night, it was postponed until Monday. On Monday, Suttle had changed his mind and no longer wanted to sell Burns. He responded to Grimes by telling him, "After Burns gets back to Virginia, you can then have him" (Stevens 71). The third attempt for rescue had once again failed and Burns was on his way to trial.

The Vigilance Committee’s Attempt of Rescue

The Writ of Personal Replevin


This page was created by Karen Livingood


This page was last updated on 02/02/00