The Last Fugitive Slave

Peruque Creek Bridge

In September I was honored by an invitation from the Civil War Round Table of Washington D.C to share my research for my next book Archer Alexander – An Unknown American Hero. There is so much more that Eliot’s book Archer Alexander – From Slavery to Freedom was unable to share in 1885. In this talk, I wanted to share Archey’s heroic act reporting the treason of his owner, and his Confederate neighbors to the Union Home Guards stationed at Peruque Creek bridge in Missouri. Missouri’s “Last Fugitive Slave” according to William Greenleaf Eliot was Archer “Archey” Alexander. What is a fugitive slave? Who was Archer Alexander?

The Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia was established in 1951 with Bruce Catton and Virgil Carrington “Pat” Jones among its founding members. Its purpose is to stimulate and expand interest in the military, political, diplomatic, economic, and socio-cultural history of the United States and particularly the Civil War. It is also committed to preserving historical sites and landmarks through initiatives such as, among others, its annual Edwin C. Bearss Award. Among its achievements, the Round Table spawned the National Civil War Centennial Commission.

For a Video Recording of the Zoom Presentation of the September 28, 2021 presentation of Archer Alexander: The Last Fugitive Slave Click Here

In 1863, Missouri was a border state that was a hotbed of hostility. A Governor Pro-Temp had been installed when elected officials had fled the state, because they could not achieve secession. Union troops had taken hold. Slave owners were neighbors to abolitionists. When Union troops received a tip that the area secesh had planned to damage a local bridge and impact the troop supply line, suspicion fell on Richard Pitman’s property, Archer Alexander. Archer fled to St. Louis, where the fugitive was taken in by the esteemed Unitarian minister and abolitionist William Greenleaf Eliot, founder of Washington University.  Eliot was also part of the Western Sanitary Commission, which oversaw the donations of the formerly enslaved for the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, DC’s Lincoln Park. 

The Emancipation Monument in Lincoln Park in Washington DC