Psychiatric researcher E. Fuller Torrey’s mother told him he had a famous ancestor, a preacher who had made a big impact as an abolitionist back in the 1840s. This distant cousin, Charles Turner Torrey, was said to have personally driven 400 slaves to freedom and had inspired John Brown to take a militant stand against slavery.
He lived in Baltimore for a time and quarreled with noted abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who published an abolitionist newspaper in the city. He died 168 years ago today in the Maryland state penitentiary, convicted of stealing slaves.
But, almost no one today knows about Charles Turner Torrey. E. Fuller Torrey wanted to find out what happened, and the result is his new book: The Martyrdom of Abolitionist Charles Torrey. Sheilah Kast spoke with him about it last month.