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. 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…

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Lucy Colman

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…

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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. 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…

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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….

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Delia 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…

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Jane Hunt

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.

Catherine Coffin

Conductor on the Underground Railroad Quakers Levi and Catherine Coffin helped thousands of fugitive slaves to safety in Newport, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio through the Undergound Railroad, a network of more than 3,000 homes and other stations that helped runaway slaves travel from southern states to freedom in northern states and Canada. Image: Catherine Coffin and her husband Levi On October 28, 1824, Levi Coffin married Catherine White, sister of his brother-in-law and long-time friend. The Coffins and the Whites were Quakers and abolitionists who opposed slavery. Catherine’s family is believed to have been involved in helping runaway slaves, and it is likely she met Levi while taking part in these activities. Catherine gave birth to Jesse, the first of…

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Port Royal Experiment

The U.S. Government and the Sea Island Slaves Backstory In August 1861, at Fortress Monroe in Virginia, Union General Benjamin Butler declared that the slaves who escaped and came into his lines for protection were contraband of war, a term commonly used thereafter to describe this new status of slaves, which meant that the Army would not return escaped slaves to their masters. This would set the stage for a much larger undertaking at Port Royal a few months later. Image: The Sea Islands during the Civil War The Military On November 7, 1861, just seven months after the Civil War began, the largest fleet ever assembled by the U. S. Navy, under the command of Commodore Samuel Du Pont,…

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Abigail Bush

First Woman to Preside Over a Public Meeting Abigail Norton Bush was an abolitionist and women’s rights activist who served as president of the second women’s rights convention in Rochester, New York in 1848 immediately following the Seneca Falls Convention, and thus became the first American woman to serve as president of a women’s rights convention. Early life Abigail Norton Bush was born in Cambridge, Washington County, New York on March 19, 1810. When she was very young, her family moved to the upstate New York town of Rochester in upstate New York, which was the home of many early social reformers in the early and mid 1800s. In the 1830s, Bush worked for the Rochester Female Charitable Society, an…

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Helen Benson Garrison

Abolitionist and Wife of William Lloyd Garrison While her husband got all the glory, Helen Benson Garrison was an abolitionist in her own right. She raised funds for the American Anti-Slavery Society in many ways, particularly as a manager of the annual Boston Anti-Slavery Bazaar. Helen Benson was born on February 23, 1811 in Providence, Rhode Island to George and Sarah Thurber Benson. At the June session of the General Assembly, in 1790, an “Act to incorporate certain Persons by the Name of the Providence Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, for the Relief of Persons unlawfully held in Bondage, and for improving the Condition of the African Race” was passed. Helen’s father, George Benson, became an active member…

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