Edward Howard was a runaway slave from Virginia, who sought freedom in Canada.
Little is known of Howard's life. He was a slave near Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia), and a Mr. Copic from Ohio convinced Howard to flee his owner. Copic and Howard stole two horses and rode to Wheeling, where they boarded a boat for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Hoping to escape detection, Copic claimed to be Howard's owner. The two men were purportedly on a business trip to Wellsville, in Columbiana County, Ohio.
Upon arriving in Wellsville, Copic traveled to his home in Salem, Ohio, leaving Howard in the care of a Mr. Pennock, a blacksmith in Salem who was on business in Wellsville. Howard's owner and an assistant soon found Pennock. Pennock, who was hiding Howard in a box in the back of his wagon, claimed that Howard had fled to Salem. The owner and his aide immediately traveled to Salem. Pennock and Howard traveled to New Lisbon, spending the night. Pennock and Howard arrived in Salem the next day. The slaveowner and his cohort had fled from Salem the previous night. Salem residents had formed a mob and drove the men to East Liverpool, Ohio, where the pro-slavery men crossed the Ohio River to safety in Virginia.
Howard remained with Pennock for several months, completing various tasks for the blacksmith. He then proceeded to Canada. Upon stopping in Warren, Ohio, two local men tried to detain Howard and return him to his owner. Abolitionists prevented the men from carrying out their plot. African Americans in Warren punished one of the conspirators by whipping him. Howard successfully reached Canada.
Howard represents the growing tensions over slavery between Northerners and Southerners during the early nineteenth century. While many Northern states had provisions outlawing slavery, runaway slaves did not necessarily gain their freedom upon arriving in a free state. Despite arriving in a free state, fugitive slaves, like Howard, could still be forcibly returned to their owners. Some slaves managed to escape their owners on their own, while others, like Howard, sometimes received assistance from sympathetic Northerners.
- "Abduction of the Slave, Edward Howard." The Wilbur H. Siebert Underground Railroad Collection. The Ohio History Connection. Columbus, OH.