STOP 10 - Quarantine Station - The White slave I have not seen

Quarantine Station, Staten Island. Courtesy of the Staten Island Museum.

The Quarantine Station was a central part of shipping into New York Harbor. All national and international ships were required to stop at the station for three days to make sure they were disease free. Since the water ways were a major route in the Underground Railroad, many freedom seekers will have passed through the Quarantine Station and its terrifying three days wait. 


Many who passed through the Quarantine Station were able to carry on with their journeys, such as William Grimes and Moses Roper, and many were spotted by Louis Napoleon and helped along their way. Others were not so lucky, such as a young lady caught at the Quarantine Station and forced to return to slavery in New Orleans.


Due to her mixed heritage and lighter skin color, she sat at the table with the "regular" passengers all the way, passing as a white woman. When at the Quarantine Station, the ship's Captain received a letter, sent by express mail, from a person in New Orleans, claiming her as his slave. Read more in the article below.


Her story illustrates another aspect of the Underground Railroad, those who passed as white during their journeys to freedom. Although she was not successful, others were, such as Ellen and William Craft. Ellen disguised herself as a white man and with her husband, who pretended to be her servant, made their way to freedom.

This young woman purchased a ticket in New Orleans - passed for white onboard and was stopped at the Quarantine Station. She was sent back to New Orleans, LA. The National Era, October 7, 1852.

Audio clip: The White slave I have not seen read by Robin Semple.