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Anthony Burns (31 May 1834 – 17 July 1862) was a fugitive slave whose recapturing, extradition, and court case led to wide-scale public outcries of injustice, and ultimately, increased opposition to slavery by Northerners.
Burns was born a slave in Stafford County, Virginia. As a young man, he became a Baptist and a "slave preacher" at the Falmouth Union Church in Falmouth, Virginia. In 1853, he escaped from slavery and reached Boston, where he started working.
The following year, he was captured under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and tried in court. The Fugitive Slave Act was fiercely resisted in Boston, and Burns' case attracted national publicity, including large demonstrations, protests, attacks, and violence. Federal troops were employed to ensure Burns was transported without interference to a ship headed back to Virginia post-trial.
Burns was eventually ransomed from slavery, with his freedom purchased by Boston sympathizers. Afterwards, he was educated at Oberlin College and became a Baptist preacher, moving to Upper Canada for a position, where he remained until his death.
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