Soon after passage of the Fugitive-Slave Law, Margaret Garner fled from her Kentucky master with her four children. Slave patrollers followed her to Ohio. Faced with capture, Garner killed two of her children rather than have them return to slavery. The surviving children were taken from her and, on the return trip to Kentucky, Garner drowned herself in the Ohio River. Her story inspired an acclaimed nineteenth-century painting by Thomas S. Noble (on which this engraving was based) and Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize novel, Beloved.
Source: Harper’s Weekly, May 18, 1867—American Social History Project.