8.19.2016

Harriet Forten Purvis

Abolitionist and Suffragist

Harriet Forten Purvis was an African-American abolitionist and suffragist who helped establish the first women's abolitionist group for blacks and whites, the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. She fought against segregation and for the right for blacks to vote after the Civil War.

Early Years
Harriet Davy Forten was born in 1810 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of wealthy African-American inventor and businessman James Forten and educator and abolitionist Charlotte Vandine Forten. Hers was the most well-known black family in the city, who, according to William Lloyd Garrison, "have few superiors in refinement, in moral worth, in all that makes the human character worthy of admiration and praise."

7.16.2016

Christiana Carteaux Bannister

African American Hairdresser Who Saved Slaves



Image: Christiana Carteaux Bannister
Painted by her husband, Edward Mitchell Bannister

Christiana Carteaux Bannister was an African American abolitionist, philanthropist, and businessperson in New England in the mid-19th century. She met her husband, artist Edward Bannister, at her hair salon in Boston; the two were active in the Boston Underground Railroad helping runaway slaves reach the next station.

Early Years
She was born Christiana Babcock circa 1820 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island to African American and Narragansett Indian parents. Her African American grandparents most likely lived and died as slaves. Christiana's parents were probably born after Rhode Island's gradual emancipation act of 1784 was passed, and so gained complete freedom at the age of twenty-one. Little is known of her childhood.

6.24.2016

Elizabeth Buffum Chace

Abolitionist, Suffragist and Philanthropist

Elizabeth Buffum Chace was a tireless life-long activist in the Anti-Slavery, Women's Rights, and Prison Reform movements of the mid-to-late 19th century. Following in the footsteps of her father, the first president of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, Chace helped found the Fall River Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1835.

Early Years
She was born Elizabeth Buffum in Smithfield, Rhode Island on December 9, 1806 to Arnold Buffum and Rebecca Gould Buffum, whose families were among the oldest in New England. Elizabeth grew up in a household of anti-slavery Quakers and she spent a year studying at the Friends' Boarding School in Providence in 1822.

5.26.2016

Ann Carroll Fitzhugh Smith

Abolitionist and Women's Rights Activist

Ann Carroll Fitzhugh Smith and her husband Gerrit Smith were wealthy activists and philanthropists who committed themselves to the movement to end slavery in 1835. They were prominent members of antislavery societies in New York State and on a national level.


Image: Gerrit and Ann Fitzhugh Smith Mansion
This house was a refuge for the many escaped slaves who received food and comfort on their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Early Years
Ann Carroll Fitzhugh was born January 11, 1805. Her father William Fitzhugh, a colonel in the Continental Army, built a home near Chewsville, Maryland which he called The Hive because of the many activities carried on by his twelve children and the work necessary to sustain life in the surrounding wilderness. Fitzhugh left Maryland for New York, where - along with Colonel Nathaniel Rochester and Charles Carroll - he purchased the "100-acre Tract" at the Genesee Falls that would become the city of Rochester.

5.17.2016

Lucy Stone

Pioneer Women's Rights Activist

Lucy Stone spoke out against slavery and for women's rights at a time when it was not popular for women to speak in public, and she was the first woman to keep her maiden name after she was married. Her name is often overlooked in the history of the fight for women's suffrage, but this trailblazer achieved several firsts for women, particularly in Massachusetts.

The Woman Question
In 1836, at age eighteen, Lucy Stone began noticing newspaper reports of a controversy that some referred to as the woman question. What was woman's proper role in society? Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison asked to women to circulate antislavery petitions and send the signatures to Congress. Many women responded, which started a debate over whether women were entitled to a political voice.

4.07.2016

Susan B. Anthony

She Dedicated Her Life to Women's Rights

Susan Brownell Anthony was a feminist and reformer whose Quaker family was committed to social equality. She began collecting anti-slavery petitions when she was 17 and became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society at age 36. In 1869, Anthony, alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton, founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, and they played a pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement.

Early Years
Susan B. Anthony was born February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts to Quaker Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read Anthony, who shared a passion for social reform. Daniel encouraged all of his children, girls as well as boys, to be self-supporting; he taught them business principles and gave them responsibilities at an early age.

3.27.2016

Eliza Starbuck Barney

Abolitionist, Botanist, Genealogist, and Suffragist

Eliza Starbuck Barney was an ardent Quaker who championed abolition, temperance, and women's rights. Her massive genealogical work contains vital information about more than 40,000 Nantucketers; it is the most reliable genealogy for Nantucket's families for the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The Barney Record is now the foundation of the genealogical collection and database at the Nantucket Historical Association's Research Library.

Early Years
Eliza was born April 9, 1802 to Quakers Joseph and Sally Gardner Starbuck on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Joseph Starbuck, the island's most successful businessman, made a fortune in whale oil. Local schools offered girls equal opportunities for education with those of their brothers. During her studies, Eliza developed an enduring interest in the natural sciences, agriculture, and history.

10.15.2015

Underground Railroad in New Jersey

Saving Slaves from Bondage in the South

map of stations on the Underground Railroad
Tens of thousands of fugitives from the slave states of Maryland, Virginia, and North and South Carolina found refuge in New Jersey. Most of them arrived here by crossing the Delaware River under the cover of darkness. Slaves and the courageous people who aided them on their journey risked their lives for freedom. Quaker Abigail Goodwin was one of the figures whose work was instrumental in the success of the Underground Railroad in New Jersey.

Image: Stations on the NJ UGRR

Backstory
New Jersey's path to abolition for all of its citizens was a rocky one. In 1804 New Jersey passed its first abolition law, An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery. It freed all black children born on or after July 4, 1804, after serving an apprenticeship to their mother’s owner for 21 years for females and 25 years for males. A law passed by the state legislature in 1826 stated that fugitive slaves from other states who were residing or apprehended in New Jersey had to be returned to their owners.

8.29.2015

Underground Railroad in Rhode Island

Runaways Escaped to Freedom in Rhode Island

Station on the Underground Railroad
Image: Elizabeth Buffum Chace House
A station on the Underground Railroad
Valley Falls, Rhode Island

The Underground Railroad (UGRR) was a secret system of helping fugitive slaves escape to free states or Canada by hiding them in a succession of private homes by day and moving them farther north by night. In the 1830s, the small state of Rhode Island became increasingly involved in radical abolitionism. They were inspired by William Lloyd Garrison's newspaper, the Liberator, and his call for immediate emancipation. During this period, twenty-five anti-slavery societies were formed in the state.

7.20.2015

Maritime Underground Railroad

Slaves Escaped the South on Northern Vessels

The Maritime Underground Railroad was a network of people who helped slaves travel by vessel from the southern United States to freedom in the North and Canada. Slaves escaped aboard the thousands of Southern ships that did business in the North and sailed regularly up and down the Atlantic coast. A clandestine society of slaves directed fugitives to the ships and black crewmen secreted them on board.

Image: Underground Railroad Routes on Land and Sea
Credit: National Geographic

6.23.2015

Underground Railroad on Long Island

Quakers Ran the Underground Railroad

In the seventeenth century, to the Englishmen who first settled Long Island, slavery was an accepted way of providing the labor force needed for agriculture and a comfortable life. After the arrival of the Quakers in the eighteenth century, attitudes were changed and the Underground Railroad began guiding slaves to freedom.

map of Nassau County UGRR stations
Image: Map of Long Island towns on the Underground Railroad

Long Island
Stretching east-northeast from New York Harbor into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island comprises four counties: Kings County (Brooklyn) and Queens County (Queens) in the west, then Nassau County and Suffolk County to the east. The Island is 118 miles long from east to west and about 20 miles at its widest point, the largest island in the continental United States. It is separated from the mainland on the north by Long Island Sound and bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the south and east.

5.13.2015

Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania

slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad

Pennsylvania Conductors Led Slaves to Freedom
Abolition of slavery was the great moral issue of the nineteenth century, especially after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which allowed owners to capture their slaves in free northern states and return them to the South. The Underground Railroad (UGRR) was a loose grouping of people who risked home and safety to help runaways escape bondage. The penalties for their actions were severe. If caught, a stationmaster on the UGRR could be jailed and fined $20,000, a huge sum at that time.

The Constitution of the United States had a fugitive slave clause that Congress implemented with the first Fugitive Slave Law in 1793, placing a fine on anyone rescuing, harboring, or hindering the arrest of a fugitive. This law was rendered ineffective by a decision of the United States Supreme Court in 1842 but Congress passed a stronger Fugitive Slave Law as part of the Compromise of 1850, in which federal authorities were required to hunt runaway slaves and return them to their masters.

4.26.2015

Betsy Mix Cowles

Educator and women's rights activist Betsy Mix Cowles

Abolitionist and Educator from Ohio

Betsey Mix Cowles was an educator, and an early leader in the abolitionist and women's rights movement in the pre-Civil War era, advocating women's access to education, equal rights, and independence. She dedicated her life to fighting slavery and improving the status of women. Her circle of friends included like-minded individuals like Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and Abby Kelley.

Early Years
Betsy Mix Cowles was born February 9, 1810 in Bristol, Connecticut, the eighth child of Giles Hooker Cowles and Sally White Cowles. In 1811, the Cowles family settled in the town of Austinburg in Ashtabula, the most northeastern county in Ohio, where her father was a minister and where Betsy began her teaching career.

4.15.2015

Underground Railroad in New York

UGRR Routes and Stations in New York State

New York stop on the Underground Railroad
Cyrus Gates Farmstead
The Cyrus Gates Farmstead stands in the town of Maine in Broome County, New York. Construction of the house began in 1848; the Greek Revival style was considered extravagant for a farmhouse.

Image: Cyrus Gates House
Maine, New York
Important stop along the UGRR

Also at the farmstead are two barns, a tenant farmer's house, several outbuildings, a blacksmith's shop, a four seat outhouse. Cyrus Gates was a cartographer and mapmaker for the State of New York.

Cyrus and Arabella Gates were outspoken abolitionists. From 1848 until slavery officially ended in 1865, the Gates Farmstead was a station on the UGRR. While it was illegal to serve as stationmaster or conductor on the UGRR, many people did not consider it unethical. After arguing with Cyrus over "breaking the law," Cyrus' brother William Gates, an ardent Copperhead, moved out of the family home.

3.12.2015

Underground Railroad in Ohio

Ohio was the Promised Land

According to Ohio State University history professor Wilbur Siebert, Ohio had the most estensive Underground Railroad network of any other state, with an estimated 3000 miles of routes used by runaways. There were more that twenty points of entry on the Ohio River, and as many as ten exit points along Lake Erie.

monument to the Underground Railroad
Image: Underground Railroad Monument
Created by Cameron Armstrong at Oberlin College

Terminology
The Underground Railroad did not run on tracks, nor was it under ground. The word underground was used because helping escaped slaves was illegal and must be kept secret. The word railroad spawned other terms to describe people and places associated with the practice of assisting runaway slaves:
• Slaves are cargo or passengers.
• Hiding places or safe houses are stations.
• Guides leading the fugitives to the next stop are conductors.
• People helping the escaping slaves, but not guiding them, are agents.
• People providing financial resources for these activities are stockholders.

2.21.2015

Lucy Colman

freethinker, author and women in education

Educator, Writer and Freethinker

Lucy Colman was an educator, writer and prolific social reformer who was actively involved in the abolitionist, women's suffrage and Freethought movements. She also worked for racial justice and for the education of African Americans, accompanied Sojourner Truth on a visit to President Abraham Lincoln.

Early Years
Lucy Newhall Danforth was born July 26, 1817 in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, a descendant of John and Priscilla Alden [link] on her mother's side. In her autobiography, she reported that from an early age, about six, she was horrified to learn of the existence of slavery, and bothered her mother with many questions about it. In 1824, Lucy's mother died, and her mother's sister Lois took over mothering tasks. Lois married Lucy's father in 1833.

2.13.2015

Underground Railroad in Delaware

Delaware: A Short Path to Freedom

Delaware, the northernmost slave state, may be small but it played a big part in the lives of men and women fleeing from slavery. The city of Wilmington was the last station on the Underground Railroad (UGRR). With the slave state of Maryland on one side and the free states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey on the other, Delaware offered a direct route to freedom.

map showing the routes taken by slaves on the Underground Railroad
Image: Map of the United States showing routes traveled by fugitive slaves

Running the Underground Railroad
The system of aiding fugitives was established in the early 1800s, but the term Underground Railroad was not used to describe the network of secret routes and safe houses used by slaves to escape to the North until the early 1830s. Aiding them in their flight were a string of abolitionists who helped them along their way, even though such actions violated state and federal laws.

1.23.2015

Pearl Incident

map of the Pearl Incident

Mission to Rescue Slaves in Washington, DC

Pearl was the name of a sixty-five foot Chesapeake Bay Schooner that was chartered by free African Americans for $100 to rescue 77 people from slavery in Washington, DC in 1848. The Pearl Incident was the largest recorded nonviolent escape attempt by slaves in United States history.

Image: Map of the Voyage

Backstory
Like the nearby states of Maryland and Virginia, Washington, DC had a slave market and was part of the slave trade; because it was connected to the Chesapeake Bay by the Potomac River, slaves were shipped or marched overland through this city. Slaves worked as domestic servants and artisans for their owners, or were hired out to work for others. Free blacks and whites were active in the city, trying to abolish slavery and the slave trade. In 1848 free blacks outnumbered slaves in the District of Columbia by three to one.

1.09.2015

Delia Webster

abolitionistDelia Webster

Conductor on the Underground Railroad

Delia Webster was a teacher and abolitionist in Kentucky, where she was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Tried and convicted for helping runaway slaves in their escape to freedom, she was the first woman imprisoned for assisting fugitive slaves. Webster was also an artist, writer, and an independent woman, unusual for her time.

Image: Delia (front left) with her sisters, clockwise Martha, Mary Jane, and Betsey

Delia Ann Webster was born December 17, 1817, one of four daughters born to Benejah and Esther Bostwick Webster in Vergennes, Vermont. She attended the Vergennes Classical School, and began teaching school at 12 years of age. She then attended Oberlin College in Ohio, the first college in the United States to accept women and African American students. The town of Oberlin was called a "hotbed of abolitionism."

12.28.2014

Jane Hunt

women's rights activist from New York

An Organizer of the Seneca Falls Convention

Jane and Richard Hunt of Waterloo, New York were philanthropists who supported human rights causes. They hosted the tea party that led to the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York in July 1848.

Image: Jane Hunt

Jane Clothier Master was born June 26, 1812 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Quakers William and Mary Master. At age thirty-three Jane Master married Richard Hunt in November 1845 and moved to Waterloo, New York, where she became a member of Richard's extended family of Hunts, McClintocks, Mounts, Plants and Pryors. All of these families were Quakers who had migrated to Waterloo from Philadelphia or New York State.