I've made a practice for the past few years of a July Fourth trivia question or post related to Civil Rights. There was the Edmund Pettus Bridge a while back; and last year I wrote about Bayard Rustin. This year I want to ask a July Fourth trivia question related to fugitive slaves. I think Steven Lubet will like this one. It's tough, for sure. At right is a picture of a house of a pre-Civil War judge. (This is in a northern state.) An alleged fugitive slave was taken to the judge's house in hopes that the judge would issue a warrant for her return. While at the house, the slave escaped from the magistrate, perhaps with the help of the judge's wife. (Which makes this sound rather much like Stowe's vignette about Senator Byrd and his wife.) With a little more help from some other women nearby, she -- it is supposed -- made her way out of the county and onward toward Canada. (Or maybe she just moved a short distance away -- who knows. But at any rate, she escaped. Or so the story goes.)
I must confess that I had not heard this story until recently; and the judge is pretty obscure, though I see that he does make a cameo appearance in Morton Horwitz' Transformation of American Law (on an issue of commercial law, not slavery). And the judge's son was killed in the War and is buried in the (no surprise here) rural cemetery nearby. Good luck with this one; I think it's going to be very hard to figure this out -- because the judge is so obscure and so is the story of the escape. But I'd also add because even if you narrow this down, I don't know as there are a ton of pictures of this house on the net. There's no historical marker about this house, though probably there should be.
There is, however, a historical marker in the house next to this -- and when I was taking this picture another couple was taking a picture of the neighboring house (where an important American composer once lived). We had a discussion about our competing reasons for taking pictures; and the man wondered whether "my" building actually went back to before the Civil War. I had to admit that it looked rather large for that early, but that I thought there was a decent chance this went back that far. And some further sleuthing on the web reveals that the house was built about 1829. The couple also expressed some skepticism of whether the story was correct -- they were really quite an interesting pair. I have to confess that I'm somewhat suspicious of the story; this needs some further corroboration. But let's just say that there's an entrenched rumor that a fugitive slave escaped from this house.
Happy Fourth of July to you! I'm going to go back into my room to do some writing; with some luck there'll be something to talk about soon with regard to trusts and slavery, and certainly trusts and estates pedagogy.