Adams Gallery Presents The Price of Freedom


Through artifacts, graphics and text, The Price of Freedom: Anthony Burns and the Fugitive Slave Act explores the story of a fugitive slave arrested and tried in Boston 150 years ago. The exhibit, opening March 18, 2004, at Suffolk University’s Adams Gallery, paints a fascinating picture of Boston in the mid-19th century, when it was a hotbed of abolitionist activity.

United States Marshals seized Anthony Burns on May 24, 1854, two months after he escaped from a Virginia slave owner. The 20-year-old fugitive spent eight days in a cell at the federal courthouse while abolitionists struggled unsuccessfully to keep the government from returning him to slavery. As he was led to the ship that would carry him back to Virginia, 50,000 people lined Boston’s streets to protest his fate.

Every street along the route was draped in black, and flags hung upside-down. A huge coffin labeled Liberty was suspended across State Street. It took 2,000 soldiers at a cost of $40,000 to return Anthony Burns to slavery, and the nation took notice of the activism on behalf of this young man. Within a year, a Boston clergyman had raised enough money to purchase Burns’ freedom. Burns later studied at Oberlin College in Ohio and became a minister in Canada.

The exhibit runs from March 18 through May 10, 2004, at the Adams Gallery, Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont Street, Boston. Gallery hours are 10 am - 6 pm daily. For more information, contact: 617-573-8508, or see

The Price of Freedom: Anthony Burns and the Fugitive Slave Act.
Organized by Discovering Justice: The James D. St.Clair Court Education Project, a non-profit civic education organization, and The Bostonian Society, Boston’s city history museum.

This project was funded in part by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. The exhibition at Suffolk was funded in part by a gift from Ernst Guerrier, Esq., BS'91, JD'94.

Suffolk University’s Adams Gallery, 120 Tremont Street, Boston, presents exhibits on historical themes. The gallery’s windows look out onto Tremont Street and the Freedom Trail in the historic heart of Boston, making it a natural site for exhibits of original materials or reproductions of importance in the chronology of Boston and New England. The university also presents lectures and discussions related to the exhibits.

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