THE GREAT SLAVE STAMPEDE IN MISSOURI.––The Canton, Lewis Co., Mo. Reporter, gives the following account of the recent great slave stampede there:

   A great excitement prevails in Lewis county, in regard to the recent attempt of the negroes to run away and rise in insurrection; and as many reports are in circulation in relation thereto, we deem it our duty to publish a true statement of the matter as it occurred. 

   A little before day on Friday morning last, a negro man, belonging to James Miller, came into the house, ostensibly to make a fire. Before going out, Mr. Miller heard him step towards the gun rack, take something, and leave with caution. The circumstance exciting some suspicion, he went to the door and called first one and then another of his negroes, but receiving no answer, he went to the negro quarter, and found no one there. He then aroused the family, first ascertaining, however, that both his guns were missing. The neighbors were alarmed as soon as possible, and pursuit made. Mr. Harvey Henderson was the first to come in sight of them. In addition to the guns, they had taken Mr. Miller's wagon and team. Mr. Henderson approached near enough to identify the wagon, &c.,and then quickly wheeled his horse to notify and bring up additional force: and it was well he did so. It was afterwards ascertained from some of the negroes, that they had determined to kill him, and for that purpose were bringing a loaded gun to bear upon him, as he wheeled his horse and disappeared. 

   Undismayed by the occurrence, the other negroes still maintained the same hostile attitude. Five minutes were given them to consider of their surrender. The women first gave up, and implored the men to do so likewise, as John was already dead. Before the end of the time the men yielded; gave up their weapons, were bound and brought to Canton. The leaders have been shipped to St. Louis and sold. 

  It has since been ascertained that it was intended to be a general insurrection, and, to that end it is believed that nearly all the slaves in the county had notice, and were to have met and rendezvoused on Friday at Canton. The plan was to kill all the negroes who would not join them––and with force of arms move off in a body to Illinois, and then to Canada. However preposterous the plan may seem, it certainly has a good deal of truth for its foundation. The younger negroes disclosed it, but others, who did not join them, acknowledged they were notified and knew of it. Besides, others have made a break. We understand that Parson James Lillord's negroes, in his absence, after abusing the family and making many wicked threats against them, made off, but were luckily caught by the neighbors, and lodged in the Monticello jail. 

   The pursuers, numbering about thirty guns, soon came up. The negroes, amounting to between twenty and thirty, halted. They had three guns, together with large clubs and butcher-knives. Besides Miller's negroes, some eighteen or twenty, there were several belonging to Judge Wm. Ellis, Mr. McKim, and Mr. McKutchen. As soon as they halted, they made their dispositions for an obstinate defence. Their pursuers marched towards them in regular order and presented guns. When near enough, they asked them to surrender––they refused. They drew nearer and nearer, parlaying and insisting on a surrender––the negroes still manifested the most dogged and settled hostility, peremptorily refused to yield. Finally, after waiting and reasoning the case with them without the least apparent effect, and until all patience was exhausted, they commenced closing upon the negroes, when Miller's John, a very powerful negro, and fierce as a grisly bear, confronted Capt. J.H. Blair with his club raised in the act of striking, when Mr. Miller, his master, told Blair to shoot him. Blair made one step backwards and fired––the negro turned partly around, recovered, seized his knife, and was in the act of rushing on Blair, when John Fretwell fired at him, and he fell dead. Both shots took effect. 


"The Great Slave Stampede in Missouri," Philadelphia (PA) North American and United States Gazette, November 22, 1849, p. 1.

Related Escape / Stampede
Location of Stampede
Coverage Type
Location of Coverage- City
Location of Coverage- State
Contains Stampede Term