History On Tap~Stealing Freedom along the Mason-Dixon Line: Thomas McCreary, the Notorious Kidnapper from Elkton

seperator image
Event Date: 
Monday, May 23, 2016 -
6:30pm to 8:00pm

Marquee Bar and Lounge at the Hotel Warner

120 N. High Street, West Chester, PA 19380


Stealing Freedom along the Mason-Dixon Line: Thomas McCreary, the Notorious Kidnapper from Elkton 

Thomas McCreary was a “slave catcher” from Cecil County, Maryland. Reviled by some, proclaimed a hero by others, he first drew public attention in the late 1840s for a career that peaked a few years after the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. Living and working as he did at the midpoint between Philadelphia, an important center for assisting fugitive slaves, and Baltimore, a major port in the slave trade, his story illustrates in raw detail the tensions that arose along the border between slavery and freedom just prior to the Civil War. McCreary and his community provide a framework to examine slave catching and kidnapping in the Baltimore-Wilmington-Philadelphia region and how those activities contributed to the nation’s political and visceral divide. 

Among McCreary’s captives were five residents of Chester County. He accused them of being fugitive slaves. But did he arrest them, or did he kidnap them? That question was at the heart of the growing hostility between Maryland and Pennsylvania over the slave catching issue. The interstate rancor is clearly apparent in McCreary’s infamous last two abductions, the seizing of Elizabeth and Rachel Parker in the Oxford area. 

Join us for the story of these Chester County residents seized by McCreary, the response of their communities, and how these incidents increased the anger between two states bordering the Mason-Dixon Line. 

History on Tap brings history to you in the casual atmosphere of your favorite local bar or restaurant. There will be lots of great drinks available for purchase. If you would like food and dinner service, The Marquee has arrangements with local restaurants that will deliver food to the bar. The program is free for the community to enjoy! Generously sponsored by BB&T and WCHE 1520AM. The portable sound system is sponsored by Colleen and Basel Frens.