This timeline of “slave stampedes” from across the nation details nearly 200 attempted group escapes as reported in period newspapers, with the majority coming from the Upper South states of Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Virginia. According to the existing sources, these stampedes involved nearly 12,000 freedom seekers between 1847 and 1865. Clearly, some of these attempts ended in tragedy, but a surprising number were successful, or least never produced definitive accounts of capture. The few reported stampedes in Northern states typically described alleged fugitive slaves fleeing to avoid rendition under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. The map below and the detailed listing underneath provide full access to the various narratives, records, and sources available for understanding these important episodes.

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1853 Weston MO Stampede

Date: Tuesday May 17 1853
Platte County, MO

Three enslaved people escaped from slaveholder R. Meek in Weston, Missouri. A report noted that the freedom seekers were “making for the Plains.” However, two were later recaptured. Contemporary reports described the escape of these three bond people as part of a wave of recent “slave stampedes” unsettling the institution throughout western Missouri. 

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