Brown's Three Years in the Kentucky Prisons
An account of the trial and 1854-1857 imprisonment of Thomas Brown on charges of aiding fugitive slaves. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.
This tract was published in the year following Thomas Brown’s release from the Kentucky state prison after serving a full three-year sentence upon being convicted of aiding slaves to escape.
Brown was an itinerant merchant originally from Cincinnati, who moved with his family to Henderson, Kentucky in 1850. The pseudonymously-authored narrative relates that Brown became known for his dislike of slavery, which rendered him a subject of suspicion. Local residents arrested Brown in 1854 under accusations that he had aided slaves in escaping. He stood trial in Union County, where he was convicted and sentenced; his wife had already been forced by a mob to leave their home and abandon her millinery business.
This narrative contains descriptions of miserable prison conditions and calls for reform. It recounts several histories of prisoners, black and white, sentenced to long terms for aiding fugitive slaves. The tract concludes with a condemnation of “Intemperance and Slavery, that build up and tenant the prisons of the United States.” The back cover of the tract bears an appeal in behalf of Brown’s wife and family, who had moved to Indianapolis, Indiana.
-- Joe Lockard