The Vanishing Woman


    In 1848, Ellen Craft escaped from slavery by hiding in plain sight.

    Ellen, a slave from Macon, Georgia, took trains and steamboats north, surrounded by hundreds of people. But no one really saw her. They saw only a white man, an ailing planter from Georgia.

    Ellen’s mother was a slave, but her father was her master, and she had skin as white as his. So she posed as a white man, while her husband William pretended to be her slave, in one of the boldest escapes in history. The Vanishing Woman is based on a true story–an escape driven by audacity and the desire for family.

    Their story riveted the nation, and the couple put the Fugitive Slave Law to its first major test, bringing attention to their plight all of the way to the White House. The ultimate irony: This vanishing woman became one of the most visible symbols of freedom in 19th-century American.

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