The fugitive slave law

You work for a fictional future government gency called CARPA (Chronological Advanced Research Projects Agency) and are charged with recovering lost connections between elements of an historical archive that has become fragmented.

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Meet the Characters

Agent Wells

The mission commander and guide, Director Wells is always there to share her insights and answer questions. Wells helps students make sense of the virtual world and reflect on their mission goals.

Edward Gorsuch

Edward Gorsuch, a Maryland farmer, is pursuing men who escaped enslavement on his plantation. From Gorsuch, students discover how slaveholders used the new law to pursue fugitives from slavery over state lines.

Castner Hanway

Castner Hanway is checking in on a commotion at his neighbor’s house. His perspective reveals the disruptive effects of the Fugitive Slave Law.

Eliza Parker

Eliza Parker, a Pennsylvania farmer who escaped slavery years ago, urgently calls for aid. Through Parker, students learn about the mutual aid networks constructed by fugitives and their allies to evade the new law.

Peter H. Clark

Peter H. Clark, a prominent lawyer and abolitionist, demands justice for his client. Students hear him use his expertise to build a legal challenge to the Fugitive Slave Law.

The U.S. Commissioner

This US Commissioner is troubled by the case before him. For students, he is a reflection of the attitude of some officials, who opposed a law they were sworn to enforce.

Anne Warren Weston

Anne Warren Weston is distressed by the kidnapping of a Black man in Boston. Based on her own writings, her thoughts introduce students to the growing frustration of abolitionists over the creeping power of slavery.


This abolitionist represents many free Black citizens of Boston. His concerns about his safety prompt students to consider the impact of the Fugitive Slave Law on the wider Black community.