Anti-Slavery and the Underground 

Railroad

 

Home Page

Basil Dorsey's Life 

Anti-Slavery and the Underground Railroad

    The Underground Railroad

    Anti-Slavery Activity in Florence

    1850 Fugitive Slave Act

Student Questions

Resources

Project Background

Believing himself to be a free man, and standing on that principle, Dorsey refused to purchase his freedom after he had safely established himself in Northampton. However, after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, friends of his feared that he was vulnerable to being kidnapped by slave-catchers and returned to slavery. They prevailed upon him to allow them to raise money to purchase his freedom, and he finally relented.


THE BILL OF SALE FOR BASIL DORSEY

Know all many by these presents, That I, Thomas E. Sollers, of Frederick County and State of Maryland, for an in consideration of the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars lawful money of the United States, in hand paid by George Griscom, of the city of Philadelphia, in the state of Pennsylvania, attorney at law, at or before the sealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof is acknowledged: Have granted, bargained, and sold, and by these presents do grant, bargain, and sell, unto the said George Griscom, his executors, administrators, and assigns, one mulatto man, named Ephraim Costly, otherwise and now called Basil Dorsey, aged about forty-three years, a slave for life. [The said Ephraim Costly, otherwise and now called Basil Dorsey, as aforesaid, having been born a slave for life of Sabrick Sollers, late of said Frederick County, in the State of Maryland, and raised by the said Sabrick Sollers, and owned by him as such slave for life until the decease of said Sabrick Sollers, after which he became the property of, as such slave for life, of the said Thomas E. Sollers, (who is son and one of the heirs at law of said Sabrick Sollers, deceased,) and is now a fugitive from service from said State of Maryland.]

To have and to hold the said described Mulattro man named Ephraim Costly, otherwise and now called Basil Dorsey, a slave for life as aforesaid to the said George Griscom, his executors, administrators, and assigns forever, and he the said Thomas E. Sollers, for himself, his heirs, executors, and administrators, the said Mulatto man Ephraim Costly, otherwise Basil Dorsey, and unto the said George Griscom, his executors, administrators, and assigns, and against him the said Thomas E. Sollers, his executors and administrators, and against all and every other person or persons whatsoever, shall and will warrant and forever defend by these presents.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this fourteenth day of May, eight hundred and fifty-one, Signed, sealed, and delivered.

Thomas E. Sollers [seal]

In the presence of

P. Gorusch.

State of Maryland,}

City of Baltimore.} S.S.

Be it remembered, That on this fourteenth day of May, 1851, before the subscriber, a Justice of the Peace for said, appears Thos. E. Sollers and acknowledges the above instrument of writing to be his act and deed, according to the true intent and meaning thereof, and also at the same time personally appeared George Griscom and made oath upon the Holy Evangels of Almighty God that the consideration set forth therein is true and bona fide as set forth. P. Gorusch.

[Source: "The Underground Railroad," by Edward H. Magill. Published in the Friends Intelligencer 55 (1898).]