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Henry Brown

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Henry Brown
Louisa County, Virginia

Henry "Box" Brown was a slave who escaped to the North to later become a professional magician.

In 1848, Brown escaped from slavery to Philadelphia in a box. Henry "Box" Brown, would became a popular speaker at antislavery meetings. He also began traveling with a panorama entitled "Mirror of Slavery", which included a trip to England as the Civil War began.

Magicians were often part of these touring shows and Brown became interested in their acts, especially in their escape tricks. After a time, Brown would add to his story of escaping slavery in a wooden crate by featuring his own escape act in which he was closed up in a large canvas sack wrapped around with a chain secured by a heavy padlock. Brown delighted crowds wherever he went by managing to free himself in minutes.

As time went on, Brown featured more and more magic in his program. Eventually, he created his own show, entitled "Mesmeric Entertainments" and toured with it successfully for a quarter century.

By 1875, Brown returned to the United States, billing himself as Professor H. Box Brown. He toured the Northeast with a program entitled "The African Prince's Drawing Room Entertainment."

Brown's last known performance was in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1878.[1]


  1. Conjure Times : Black Magicians in America by Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson (2001)