FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — An enslaved man who fled Arkansas in 1841 in search of freedom in Canada, only to be forcibly returned to the United States, has been honored with a historic landmark and a new street sign in the city. where he used to work.
The unprecedented 1842 extradition of Nelson Hackett from Canada on theft charges caused an uproar in the British colony, which had long been seen as a safe haven for runaway slaves. Months later, the British government enacted policies that “made similar extraditions extremely difficult,” according to the Nelson Hackett Project, a digital work on public scholarships run by the Center for the Humanities of the United States. The University of Arkansas is in charge.
Canada has never sent a person fleeing slavery back to the US, the researchers say.
A marker honoring Hackett and his impact was installed Friday in the downtown square of Fayetteville, the Northwest Arkansas Democratic Gazette reported.
The newspaper reported that Archibald Yell Avenue was being renamed Nelson Hackett Avenue, a particularly symbolic act led by Yell, who was governor of Arkansas at the time, in a role in ensuring the navigation. Hackett degree. The new street signs, also unveiled on Friday, are expected to be installed on Monday, June 16.
According to Michael Pierce, an associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Hackett fled Arkansas in July 1841, prompting the man who claimed possession of him to request his extradition on burglary charges. Yell wrote a letter to the governor of the colony of Canada demanding the return of Hackett. Request has been granted.
Hackett was brought back to Fayetteville in the summer of 1842. He was publicly whipped several times, tortured and sold back into slavery in Texas, according to the researchers. He escaped again, and his fate remains unknown.
Hackett labored near the mark on the square. Mayor Lioneld Jordan said the marker and renamed street were a way to remember Hackett’s experiences.
JL Jennings, chair of the city’s Black Heritage Preservation Committee, recommended that the City Council rename the street and place a marker in the square. He said the committee worked to highlight the city’s untold history and increase a sense of belonging for all residents.
“We believe that honoring Nelson Hackett is an important first step in this goal,” Jennings said. “It is amazing to think that a enslaved Mr. Hackett can actually stand here, where his landmark is erected today, unaware of the impact his life has had on him. he will cause to the world. While we don’t know how Mr Hackett’s story ended, what we do know is that his impact was felt by thousands of people.”