Port Tobacco Courthouse Site
Port Tobacco Courthouse Site

PORT TOBACCO, Md. – The National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom accepted the Jails at Port Tobacco Courthouse Site, owned by Charles County Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism and managed by the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco, as one of 16 new listings from the 43rd round of applications, representing sites and programs in 11 states across the country. These new listings, alongside over 700 sites, facilities, and programs already in the Network, provide insight into the diverse experiences of freedom seekers who bravely escaped slavery and those who assisted them. 

“It’s fitting to welcome new additions to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom as we celebrate Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday. Like Harriet Tubman, the freedom seekers and allies highlighted in each Network to Freedom listing remind us of what can be accomplished when people take action against injustice,” said Diane Miller, national program manager of the Network to Freedom. “Each listing holds a unique part of the Underground Railroad story, and we look forward to working with members to amplify the power of these places.”

In 1845, William Wheeler helped organize a mass escape of 40-70 freedom seekers from the Port Tobacco community. This group travelled as far as Rockville, Maryland before a large group of white citizens attacked them. Law enforcement officials arrested Wheeler, and eventually transferred him to Port Tobacco Jail. Courts sentenced him to death. Just days after Wheeler’s sentence was commuted to life in prison, he escaped from Port Tobacco Jail. His whereabouts after this escape remains unknown.

Historic Port Tobacco Village is open seasonally, and operations may be limited due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. For most up to date information, please visit their website.

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom serves to honor, preserve, and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, which continues to inspire people worldwide. The Network currently represents over 700 locations in 39 states, plus Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through its mission, the Network to Freedom helps to advance the idea that all human beings embrace the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression.

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