A major episode in African-American history, along with John Brown’s raid, was the Fugitive Slave Rebellion in Christiana. This event was a harbinger of the Civil War. Frederick Douglass referred to the Christiana Riot, as “… the battle for liberty.” On September 11, 1851, a Maryland slave owner named Edward Gorsuch, along with a U.S. Marshall and several relatives, made his way before dawn to the home of William Parker, two miles south-west of Christiana, with the expectation of capturing four runaway slaves. Gorsuch was killed when a group of armed men resisted his efforts. The conflict and the trial which followed sent shock waves across the nation.
An historical resource page about the Underground Railroad in Lancaster County including curriculum information is available at the Lancaster County Historical Society. A resource page specific to information on the Christiana Resistance is here.
William Parker wrote about his experience in the February, 1866 issue of the Atlantic Monthly.
For more information about the Christiana Riot, you can also watch this 40 minute documentary presented by The Christiana Historical Society.
The Historical Society hosts a free Open House the 2nd Saturday of September every year at the Zerchers Hotel in downtown Christiana.
Check out the Zerchers Hotel website for more historical information: http://www.zerchershotel.com/