• In the eyes of Pennsylvanians, including two governors, and some Marylanders, and Delawareans, McCreary was a villainous kidnapper. To his supporters, including two Maryland governors, McCreary was a heroic slave catcher.
• He exploited the ambiguity resulting from the argument over the difference between slave catching and kidnapping, and was unconcerned about the distinction, just as long as he made a profit and stayed out of jail.
• McCreary lived in Elkton, the county seat of Cecil County, located at the Mason-Dixon Line in the northeast corner of Maryland. Elkton was midway between Philadelphia, a refuge and way station for freedom seekers breaking free of slavery, and Baltimore, a thriving slave market. The location was ideal for a slave catcher … or a kidnapper.
How does this book differ from other books that examine the slave catching and kidnapping issue?
• The other books tend to either broadly survey the issue, or focus on a specific event or topic related to the issue.
• This book is the first to use a slave catcher and his community as the framework to develop the larger story.
• The book also closely examines the alliance between slave catchers and proslavery politicians.
How does this book add insight into the slave catching issue?
• This close up view offers an increased understanding of why this issue was a contributing cause of the Civil War.
• The story expands outward into the region and encompasses multiple perspectives and individual stories. The Philadelphia-Wilmington-Baltimore corridor contained a toxic mix of opposing views and special interests, actions and reactions.
• Fifteen African Americans, including an infant, had their freedom threatened by McCreary or by slaveholders from McCreary’s home county. Some were born free, some had been legally freed, some had seized the freedom they had been denied. All their stories are told. So are reactions of other African Americans in Pennsylvania and Delaware who felt threatened by McCreary and others like him.
• Communities found themselves affected by the aggressions of McCreary and other slave catchers, and their reactions are important to the story.
• Significant to the story is McCreary political connections. As his reputation for slave catching grew, his value to Maryland politicians increased, and the state went to great lengths to protect him.
• McCreary became especially important to Maryland after he abducted two young sisters in Pennsylvania. Whereas McCreary and his community provide the framework of the book, the story of the Parker sisters and their community provide the heart of the story.
• The debate over the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the aftermath of the Christiana Resistance, and subsequent treason trial that ended in December, 1851, and McCreary's kidnapping of the Parker sisters that same month intertwined in several ways. Historians have noted one connection in the mysterious death of the main witness against McCreary, but other significant connections previously overlooked are presented in this book.