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Free Black Sailors in the Antebellum South: An Epidemic of Moral Contagion

Exactly 200 years ago, a free Black Jamaican named Henry Elkison was arrested when the vessel on which he worked arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. Law enforcement officials boarded the ship, interrogated the captain, and then escorted Elkison to the city jail. His crime? He violated the state’s new quarantine law. But Elkison was not suffering from any sickness, contagious or otherwise. Instead, the quarantine law targeted him for his moral contagion.

Start Date:


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End Date:

September 21, 2023

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$0 – $10


Museums and Galleries


98 High Street Newburyport, MA 01950 United States

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