31. Moses Viney Daniel Crouse Memorial Park

Challenging Slavery

Moses Viney was born into slavery in Talbot County, but escaped on Easter morning in 1840, after learning he might be sold to slave traders in the Deep South.

As a child, Moses played with his master’s son – Richard Murphy – who shared Moses’ birthday. When they turned seven, they weren’t allowed to play together anymore. Mr. Murphy sent Moses out to work in the fields. When Mr. Murphy passed away, Richard decided to sell Moses to the highest bidder.

Two men fled with him: Hinson Piney and Washington Brooks. Their flight from Talbot County brought them to Caroline County near Denton on the Choptank River. The slavecatchers’ hounds were fast on their scent, tracking them down. But Moses had prepared for this moment. He had been kind to those dogs for months – fed them, patted them. When the dogs approached Moses, he told them to go on home. The dogs wagged their tails, and bounded away. Moses found a canoe nearby without paddles. He took two fence posts and used them to row across the Choptank River near here.

The men traveled by night, hid out by day. They took a steamboat from Smyrna, Delaware to Philadelphia, then eventually reached Schenectady, New York. Moses worked as the personal carriage-driver to the president of Union College, Eliphalet Nott.

Ten years later in 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, allowing any slave owner to reclaim his “property” at any time, in any state. While Moses was driving President Nott’s carriage through town, there on the corner was Richard Murphy – his childhood friend and former enslaver – looking to reclaim his property. Moses rushed to Nott and begged for help. Nott helped Moses escape to Canada and paid Murphy $250 to leave Moses alone. Eventually, Moses came back from Canada, having escaped slavery for the second time.

Information

Address

5 Crouse Park
Denton, MD 21629
410 479-2050
www.carolinemd.org

Practical info
  • Motorcoach-accessible
  • Caroline County Visitor Center located on site welcomes guests to discover the area’s heritage, places to explore and things to do, including dining, shopping, recreation and more.

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