Cazenovia Fugitive Slave Law Convention Event

Final preparations are underway for the celebration of the 160th anniversary of the Cazenovia Fugitive Slave Law Convention. An interpretive plaque, to be installed for year-round public view at 9 Sullivan Street (home of the Cherry Valley Apartments) will be unveiled on the afternoon of Friday, August 20th—and an evening celebration performance will then be held at the Cazenovia College Catherine Cummings Theatre on Lincklaen Street.

An extremely rare daguerreotype (shown here) in the collection of the Madison County Historical Society, Oneida, provides the central backdrop for the 160th anniversary events.

Taken by Cazenovia photographer Ezra Greenleaf Weld on the second day of the Convention, which was held at the Sullivan Street location on August 22, 1850, several prominent local and national figures appear in the photograph, including: Peterboro abolitionist and Convention organizer Gerrit Smith- famed escaped slave and orator Frederick Douglass- and Mary and Emily Edmonson, escaped slaves who had been recaptured aboard the ill-fated flight of the “Pearl.” More than 2000 people, including as many as 50 fugitive slaves, attended what many historians believe was the nation’s largest anti-slavery protest.

In tribute to the many individuals who risked much to support the cause of abolitionism at the 1850 Cazenovia Convention, a magical evening, in word and song, will take place at the Catherine Cummings Theatre at 7:30 pm and will be hosted by master of ceremonies Honorable Hugh Humphreys. Frederick Douglass (portrayed by the nationally-acclaimed actor Fred Morsell) will be the guest orator for the evening, and music of the period will be provided by featured vocalist Max Smith and the vocal sounds of Elizabeth Bouk, Moana Fogg and Lowell Lingo, Jr. The evening program will be followed by a reception at the Theatre. The plaque unveiling will take place earlier that day at 4 pm on Sullivan Street.

With generous support from Patti and Sparky Christakos- Cazenovia College- the Upstate Institute of Colgate University- the Gorman Foundation- the Madison County Historical Society- the National Abolition Hall of Fame- and many other charitable donors, both the unveiling and evening presentation are free, and the public is encouraged to attend.

For more information on the commemorative events to be held on Friday, August 20th, please contact Commemorative Committee member Sarah Webster at 655-8632.

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