On this day, Sept. 11, in 1851, Edward Gorsuch, a wealthy slave owner from Maryland, was killed after he traveled to an abolitionist town in Pennsylvania in search of four slaves who had escaped from his Baltimore County farm.
Gorsuch, a U.S. marshal, and a small posse surrounded the Christiana, Pa., home of William Parker, and demanded the surrender of his "property."
Parker, a former slave who had escaped from a plantation in Anne Arundel County 12 years earlier, refused. A gun battle broke out, and Gorsuch was killed. Parker fled to Canada.
President Millard Fillmore sent Marines to Christiana. Thirty-nine people, most of whom were black, were arrested and charged with treason. They were defended by the fiery abolitionist Congressman Thaddeus Stevens and were all found not guilty.
- Scott McCabe