In June 1850, several months before the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, a runaway slave from Pensacola, Florida, became embroiled in the growing sectional conflict. The bondsman's name was Adam, and he was a twenty-one year old blacksmith at the Pensacola Navy Yard who snuck aboard the brig Mary Farrow just prior to its departure for New England. When the ship's captain discovered the stowaway in the ship's hold three days after embarking, he ordered a keelhauling, an archaic punishment whereby victims were thrown overboard and dragged by a rope underneath the boat's keel; the crew refused to allow the ritual to take place, however, and Adam remained unharmed until the vessel landed at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, several days later. Having already received a letter from Pensacola warning of Adam's arrival, law enforcement officials waited at the dock where they planned to arrest the bondsman upon his disembarkation.
Clavin, Matthew J.
"An "underground railway" to Pensacola and the Impending Crisis over Slavery,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 92:
4, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol92/iss4/4