The Jerry Rescue Monument, designed by Sharon BuMann, commemorates the dramatic 1851 rescue by local residents of a fugitive slave from federal marshals.  William “Jerry” Henry, accused of escaping from slavery, was held in the police station that stood on this site. 

The White Building on the canal is where Jerry was held.

A crowd of African and European Americans broke open the door and freed Henry.  This successful rescue was one of several challenges to the Fugitive Slave Law in major cities across the North. It mobilized people in Syracuse to resist the Fugitive Slave Law, and helped make Syracuse a major haven for freedom seekers in the 1850s.

The shackles that bound Jerry

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In the parking lot behind the Jerry Rescue monument is the site of the building where Jerry was held before he was successfully liberated on October 1, 1851.  This building was eventually renamed the Jerry Rescue Building.

The Jerry Rescue Building was located in Clinton Square on the corner of Clinton Street and Water Street.

After an unsuccessful attempt to rescue Jerry left him bruised, bleeding, and agitated, members of the Vigilance Committee were determined to liberate Jerry from the office of the police justice in the Raynor Block.  At about 8 pm, armed with clubs, axes, iron rods, and a battering ram, the citizens attacked the building, smashing the windows and tearing apart the walls. 

The arresting marshals fled and the rescuers surreptitiously escorted Jerry to a hiding place, interestingly, the home of Caleb Davis, a pro-slavery Democrat who consented to hide Jerry for four days until rescuers took him to Oswego where he sailed on a British schooner to Kingston, ON.  Jerry lived for two more years in Kingston, succumbing to tuberculosis in 1853.