Freedom Center Journal

Article Title

Garner Courage


Robert Garner was born into a slave family on the James Marshall plantation located in Richwood, Kentucky. At 25 years old, Robert executed a plan to free all eight members of his family. They were captured in Cincinnati. His wife, Margaret, determined not to return to slavery, sought to kill her children and then herself. She was able to kill her youngest daughter by slitting her throat. The group members that remained alive were turned over to the U.S. Marshal of Cincinnati for violating the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. Knowledge of the Gamers' story and their gruesome capture outraged the Black community in Cincinnati, OH. The Garner trial became one of the longest fugitive slave trials in history. In an interview with The Cincinnati Chronicle, Robert Garner proudly talked of the new life he had started to build. From been convicted in a federal hearing of violating the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, surviving enslavement in Mississippi and the death of his wife, to joining the armed forces; he presented himself to the reporter as a man who had known enslavement, yet he, like those who had influenced him, was not broken.