Remembrance of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law Cazenovia Convention

Cazenovia Heritage is finalizing plans for A Remembrance of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law Cazenovia Convention to be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 21, 2021 at the Cummings Theatre, 18 Lincklaen Street, Cazenovia NY 13035. Retired Madison County Judge Hugh C. Humphreys will return to Cazenovia to share his research for his 1994 publication on the The Great Fugitive Slave Law Convention and its Rare Daguerreotype, of which the Madison County Historical Society has ordered new printings which will be available for the August 21st occasion.


Following the conclusion of Humphrey’s presentation, guided tours of five sites within a short distance of one another in the Village of Cazenovia will begin. Five tour groups will form on the sidewalk in front of the Cummings College Theater based on the first letter of the attendee’s last name.  Tour guides will lead groups to the five sites where a site docent will explain the history of the site and its relevance and significance to the Convention. The sites are:  the Cazenovia College Theater, the original site of the convention on which the Free Congregational Church stood; the site of the Ezra Weld studio on Mill Street where the famous daguerreotype was created; the Tavern on the Village’s cannon green where Frederick Douglass and Gerrit Smith reportedly stayed; the site of Grace Wilson’s apple orchard on Sullivan Street where the convention was moved to better accommodate the crowds; and Grace Wilson’s home also on Sullivan Street.  Groups will begin at different sites but all will be visited and all should be completed in about an hour.   A map will be provided in the program’s brochure for those who choose to walk independently.


Humphreys will describe the discovery of the now famous image of the abolition meeting at 9 Sullivan Street in Cazenovia on August 21 and 22, 1850. The discovery of the daguerreotype at the Madison County Historical Society put Humphreys on the trail of the picture and the history that it represents for our country. Using his PowerPoint presentation to illustrate the national situation which caused Gerrit Smith and Frederick Douglass to organize the Cazenovia meeting, Humphreys will also explain his travels to gather the sources of information.


The Cazenovia College Cummings Theatre location was the site of the Free Congregational Church of Cazenovia which was incorporated in 1833. The site was placed on the Madison County Freedom Trail in 2006 due to the anti-slavery activities of the church including the initial site for the convention. The church burned in 1895. Guided tours of sites involved in the convention will be conducted following Humphreys’ presentation.


For more information: Cazenovia Heritage, 

P. O. Box 103 Cazenovia NY  13035  www.cazheritage.org; email:info@cazheritage.org


The August 21 event has been arranged in collaboration with the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134, Nahofm1835@gmail.com, www.NationalAbolitionHallofFameandMuseum.org

and the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 5304 Oxbow Road, Peterboro NY 13134,  www.gerritsmith.org info@gerritsmith.org.

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