On April 3rd, 8th graders at the Chenery Middle School had the chance to witness, first hand, the trial of Anthony Burns. Thanks, in part, to a grant from the Foundation for Belmont Education, students watched as Theatre Espresso, an acting troupe out of the Wheelock Family Theater, dramatized this critical case.
The 1854 trial of Anthony Burns, one of the first tests of the Fugitive Slave Law, brought the question of slavery into the heart of Boston. It codified the abolitionist movement and brought to the forefront questions of law and morality. Despite support by many prominent Bostonians, Burns was returned to his Southern master by the ruling of Judge Edward Loring.
After the enactment, students became participants in the simulation. Playing Massachusetts State Senators, they were invited to question witnesses, debate the issues and decide if Loring’s actions during the trial were just. Students explored the role of law and government and their intersection with human morality in this exciting, hands-on learning experience.