“Go and get a box and put yourself in it.”
Henry Brown heard these words, but he didn’t know if he could believe them. A voice was telling Henry, a slave from Virginia, to climb into a wooden box and mail himself to freedom.
The Disappearing Man is based on a true story—one of the most incredible escape attempts in the history of the Underground Railroad. In 1849, with the help of two friends, Henry Brown was placed in a box marked THIS SIDE UP WITH CARE. Then he was shipped from Richmond to Philadelphia, a harrowing, 27-hour ordeal at the mercy of cargo handlers and rogues of all sorts.
This was the ultimate disappearing act. He intended to make a man disappear in Richmond and miraculously reappear in Philadelphia.
He aimed to turn a dead man into a living man, a slave into a free man.