In Podcast #31 the Virginia Trekkers take you along the Slave Trail in Richmond, Virginia.  One of the sad legacies of Richmond is that it was a major hub in the slave trade, both in importing and exporting slaves.  Not much remains of that dark business today, but we will take you to some of the important landmarks.  See the Reconciliation statue – a monument to promote healing and forgiveness; visit the remains of the Manchester docks; explore the site of Lumpkins Jail; and join our special guest Trekker, Allison, as she shows you around a slave castle in Africa.  This podcast is extra special too because it’s the first time elementary students made the introduction with us (thanks to the fourth graders at Chimborazo Elementary School)!  Come on!  Let’s go trekkin’!

Henry “Box” Brown was a slave who mailed himself in a box to Philadelphia to escape. He was born in 1815 in Louisa County, Virginia and was sent to Richmond to work as a slave in a tobacco factory when he was 15 years old.  On March 29, 1849 he made arrangements to have himself mailed in a dry goods box  to an abolitionist who lived in the free state of Pennsylvania.   The trip by wagon, ferry, steamboat, and railroad took 27 hours!  Even though “Handle with Care” and “This Side Up” were written on the box, he was put upside down and handled roughly by the mail carriers.  However, he arrived safely at his destination and became a famous abolitionist, speaking out against slavery.  

Fall Line

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SOL Correlation:


VS.3e The student will demonstrate knowledge of the first permanent English settlement in America by e) identifying the importance of the arrival of Africans and women to the Jamestown settlement;


VS.4a The student will demonstrate knowledge of life in the Virginia colony by a) explaining the importance of agriculture and its influence on the institution of slavery;


VS.4b The student will demonstrate knowledge of life in the Virginia colony by b) describing how European (English, Scotch-Irish, German) immigrants, Africans, and American Indians (First Americans) influenced the cultural landscape and changed the relationship between the Virginia colony and England;


VS.7a The student will demonstrate knowledge of the issues that divided our nation and led to the Civil War by a) identifying the events and differences between northern and southern states that divided Virginians and led to secession, war, and the creation of West Virginia;


VS.10c The student will demonstrate knowledge of government, geography, and economics by c) explaining how advances in transportation, communications, and technology have contributed to Virginia’s prosperity and role in the global economy.


3.2 The student will study the early West African empire of Mali by describing its oral tradition (storytelling), government (kings), and economic development (trade).

Click here to listen to the tune “Old Uncle Ned” by Stephen Foster (who also wrote “Oh! Susannah!”)

Henry Box Brown wrote this song and sang it to the tune of “Old Uncle Ned” (click below)


Brown laid down the shovel and the hoe,

Down in the box he did go;

No more Slave work for Henry Box Brown,

In the box by Express he did go.