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Escape to Cities and Towns
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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, General Research and Reference Division

Edward King, The Great South (Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Co., 1874)

Lynchburg, Virginia

Lynchburg was one of the wealthiest and busiest cities in Virginia during the pre-Civil War era. Its wealth was based on slave labor and tobacco, but it was also a jumping-off point for traders taking their human chattel southwest to the Cumberland Gap and across Tennessee to the Natchez Trace, following the Trace to the Mississippi River, where slaves brought high prices. Located near Lynchburg was the Oxford Iron Works, owned by David Ross, who employed slaves. Lynchburg also boasted a small free black population. In such an urban center, full of possibilities, runaways could hide, pass as free and find work.

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