It was 1848. A coach stopped in front of the best hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. The hotel man came out to meet his new guests.
A black servant opened the coach door. In the coach sat the servant’s master, a young white man. He wore green glasses. He was well dressed. He appeared to be a rich young planter. But it seemed he had been hurt. One arm was bandaged. Another bandage covered part of his face.
The young man presented himself. He was William Johnson, he said, he had has an accident while travelling. The hotel man was sorry to hear it. Johnson’s servant and the hotel man helped him inside.
At the hotel desk there was a book to sign. But this guest could not sign it. His arm was hurt. “That’s all right,” said the hotel man, “I’ll put your name in the book.”
Johnson’s servant helped him to his room. The door closed behind them. There William Johnson took off the bandages. The dark glasses came off too. The “young planter” was really Ellen craft, a black woman! She was escape room from slavery in Georgas. His “servant” was really her husband, William craft. They were on their way north. In the north there was no slavery. They would be free there.
It was dangerous to go north. Slaves could not travel unless their owners allowed it. The craft had had a plan their escape very carefully.
Ellen’s skin was very light. People had often thought that she was white. For their escape she would cut her hair short and dress as a man. She would pretend to be a white slave owner. William would act as her slave. Then no one would stop them. But Ellen could not read or write. What would she do if someone asked her to write her name? She would pretend that her arm was hurt! She’d bandage it. The no one would expect her to write. Another bandage on her face would help keep people from seeing who she was. It was a daring plan. Ellen and William were afraid. But they wanted to be free.
They began to buy pieces of clothing they would need. They kept these hidden. Ellen had to make the trousers she would wear. She did it secretly. William found a pair of dark glasses for Ellen. At last they were ready.