The Quaker campaign to end slavery can be traced back to the late 1600s, and many played a pivotal role in the Underground Railroad. In 1776, Quakers were prohibited from owning slaves, and 14 years later they petitioned the U.S. Congress for the abolition of slavery.
Were Quakers part of the Underground Railroad?
Quakers played a huge role in the formation of the Underground Railroad, with George Washington complaining as early as 1786 that a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes, have attempted to liberate” a neighbor’s slave.
Was Thomas Clarkson a Quaker?
The twelve founding members included nine Quakers, and three pioneering Anglicans: Clarkson, Granville Sharp, and Philip Sansom. They were sympathetic to the religious revival that had predominantly nonconformist origins, but which sought wider non-denominational support for a “Great Awakening” amongst believers.
What were underground railroad helpers called?
The free individuals who helped runaway slaves travel toward freedom were called conductors, and the fugitive slaves were referred to as cargo. The safe houses used as hiding places along the lines of the Underground Railroad were called stations.
What were the positions of the Underground Railroad?
The code words often used on the Underground Railroad were: “tracks” (routes fixed by abolitionist sympathizers); “stations” or “depots” (hiding places); “conductors” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “agents” (sympathizers who helped the slaves connect to the Railroad); “station masters” (those who hid slaves in
What was the goal of the Quakers?
Quakers are followers of a religious movement that began as an offshoot of Christianity in 17th century England. The movement emphasizes equal, inward access to God for all people.
What were the Quakers noted for?
Quakers have been a significant part of the movements for the abolition of slavery, to promote equal rights for women, and peace. They have also promoted education and the humane treatment of prisoners and the mentally ill, through the founding or reforming of various institutions.
What is am I not a man and a brother?
‘Am I not a man and a brother?’ Josiah Wedgwood’s image of an enslaved African, kneeling, manacled hands outstretched, with the title ‘Am I not a man and a brother’, is viewed as the symbol of the struggle for abolition and eventual emancipation.
Who was Annie Besant and how did she oppose white slavery?
On 23rd June 1888, Annie Besant, a campaigner for women’s welfare and rights, published an article called ‘White Slavery in London’. She revealed the terrible conditions and poor wages suffered by the match girls employed at the Bryant and May factory in the east end of London.
What was the religion of Thomas Clarkson?
In 1787, Clarkson and Sharp were instrumental in forming the Committee for the Abolition of the African Slave Trade. Many of the other members were Quakers. The Committee helped to persuade the member of parliament William Wilberforce to take up the abolitionist cause.
What did Levi Coffin do?
Levi Coffin, (born October 28, 1798, New Garden [now in Greensboro], North Carolina, U.S.—died September 16, 1877, Cincinnati, Ohio), American abolitionist, called the “President of the Underground Railroad,” who assisted thousands of runaway slaves on their flight to freedom.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?
Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.
What states was the Underground Railroad in?
These were called “stations,” “safe houses,” and “depots.” The people operating them were called “stationmasters.” There were many well-used routes stretching west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa. Others headed north through Pennsylvania and into New England or through Detroit on their way to Canada.
Who was the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad?
Our Headlines and Heroes blog takes a look at Harriet Tubman as the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. Tubman and those she helped escape from slavery headed north to freedom, sometimes across the border to Canada.
An informal network of secret passageways and safe homes used by fleeing slaves in the United States of America on their trip north to “Free States” or Canada has been known as the Underground Railroad since the 1840s, when the name was first used. In addition to twenty-nine states, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean were included in the territory. Along with many others, Quakers played an important role in the event. It was referred to as a “Underground Railroad” because it was kept hidden, and as a “Railroad” because it indicated the route taken by fleeing slaves on their way to freedom.
“Stockholders” were those who made contributions of money or products to aid the cause.
“Conductors” were people who planned the routes and who frequently assisted and accompanied the slaves in their quest for freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Stations were typically between 10 and 20 miles apart, and the travelers either walked between them or hid in covered wagons or carts with false bottoms while traveling between stations.
The exact date when the Underground Railroad got its inception is unknown.
According to Washington’s letter to Robert Morris, a slave had escaped from one of his neighbours, and “a society of Quakers, organized for such reasons, had sought to liberate him.acting in a manner abhorrent to justice.in my judgment highly impolitic with respect to the State.” Over 3,000 persons were employed by the Underground Railroad by 1850, according to historical records.
African Americans such as Harriet Tubman (a former slave who made 19 journeys to help first her own family and then other slaves) made the most significant contributions, but many others were also involved, including members of Methodist and other evangelical groups, as well as Quakers and other religious groups.
- Among the other Underground Railroad Quaker strongholds were Salem, Iowa; Newport; Alum Creek; Cass County; Farmington; and New Bedford, Massachusetts.
- Thomas Garrett (1789 – 1871), a Quaker, is credited with assisting almost 2,700 slaves in their escape from slavery and was known as the “station master” of the final Underground Railroad station, which was located in Wilmington, Delaware.
- Quaker Levi Coffin (1798 – 1877), who lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, was known as the “President of the Underground Railroad” because of his work on the Underground Railroad.
- Some Quakers, however, did not believe that acting outside the law was justified, despite their empathy for the slaves’ condition.
- By the middle of the nineteenth century, it is believed that over 50,000 slaves had escaped from the slave states of the South through the use of the Underground Railroad.
- It is possible that federal marshals who failed to apprehend an accused runaway slave may be fined $1,000.
The Underground Railroad did not come to an end as a result of the Fugitive Slave Act. With the abolition of slavery at the conclusion of the American Civil War, it came to a logical conclusion (1861-65).
8 Key Contributors to the Underground Railroad
Isaac Hopper, an abolitionist, is shown in this image from the Kean Collection/Getty Images. As early as 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with a “organization of Quakers, founded for such reasons,” which had sought to free a neighbor’s slave. Quakers were instrumental in the establishment of the Underground Railroad. Slavery was opposed in especially in Philadelphia, where Isaac Hopper, a Quaker who converted to Christianity, created what has been described as “the first working cell of the abolitionist underground.” Hopper not only protected escaped slave hunters in his own house, but he also constructed a network of safe havens and recruited a web of spies in order to get insight into their plans.
Hopper, a friend of Joseph Bonaparte, the exiled brother of the former French emperor, went to New York City in 1829 and established himself as a successful businessman.
READ MORE: The Underground Railroad and Its Operation
2. John Brown
John Brown, an abolitionist, about 1846 GraphicaArtis/Getty Images courtesy of Similar to his father, John Brown actively participated in the Underground Railroad by hosting runaways at his home and warehouse and organizing an anti-slave catcher militia following the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, which he inherited from his father. The next year, he joined several of his sons in the so-called “Bleeding Kansas” war, leading one attack that resulted in the deaths of five pro-slavery settlers in 1856.
Brown’s radicalization continued to grow, and his ultimate act occurred in October 1859, when he and 21 supporters seized the government arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), in an effort to incite a large-scale slave uprising.
3. Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where she experienced repeated violent beatings, one of which involving a two-pound lead weight, which left her with seizures and migraines for the rest of her life. Tubman fled bondage in 1849, following the North Star on a 100-mile walk into Pennsylvania, fearing she would be sold and separated from her family. She died in the process. She went on to become the most well-known “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, participating in around 13 rescue missions back into Maryland and rescuing at least 70 enslaved individuals, including several of her siblings.
As a scout, spy, and healer for the Union Army, Tubman maintained her anti-slavery activities during the Civil War, and is believed to have been the first woman in the United States to lead troops into battle. Tubman died in 1865. When Harriet Tubman Led a Civil War Raid, You Should Pay Attention
4. Thomas Garrett
‘Thomas Garrett’ is a fictional character created by author Thomas Garrett. The New York Public Library is a public library in New York City. The Quaker “stationmaster” Thomas Garrett, who claimed to have assisted over 2,750 escaped slaves before the commencement of the Civil War, lived in Wilmington, Delaware, and Tubman frequently stopped there on her route up north. Garret not only gave his guests with a place to stay but also with money, clothing & food. He even personally led them to a more secure area on occasion, arm in arm.
Despite this, he persisted in his efforts.
He also stated that “if any of you know of any poor slave who needs assistance, please send him to me, as I now publicly pledge myself to double my diligence and never miss an opportunity to assist a slave to obtain freedom.”
5. William Still
William Still is a well-known author and poet. Photograph courtesy of the Hulton Archive/Getty Images Many runaways traveled from Wilmington, the final Underground Railroad station in the slave state of Delaware, to the office of William Still in adjacent Philadelphia, which was the last stop on their journey. The Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, which provided food and clothing, coordinated escapes, raised funds, and otherwise served as a one-stop social services shop for hundreds of fugitive slaves each year, was chaired by Still, who was a free-born African American.
Still ultimately produced a book in which he chronicled the personal histories of his guests, which offered valuable insight into the operation of the Underground Railroad as a whole.
His assistance to Osborne Anderson, the only African-American member of John Brown’s company to survive the Harpers Ferry raid, was another occasion when he was called upon.
6. Levi Coffin
Charles T. Webber’s painting The Underground Railroad depicts fleeing slaves Levi Coffin, his wife Catherine, and Hannah Haydock providing assistance to the group of fugitive slaves. Getty Images/Bettina Archive/Getty Images Levi Coffin, often known as the “president of the Underground Railroad,” is said to have been an abolitionist when he was seven years old after witnessing a column of chained slaves people being taken to an auction house. Following a humble beginning delivering food to fugitives holed up on his family’s North Carolina plantation, he rose through the ranks to become a successful trader and prolific “stationmaster,” first in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana, and subsequently in Cincinnati, Kentucky.
In addition to hosting anti-slavery lectures and abolitionist sewing club meetings, Coffin, like his fellow Quaker Thomas Garrett, stood steadfast when hauled before a court of law.
His writings state that “the dictates of humanity came in direct conflict with the law of the land,” and that “we rejected the law.”
7. Elijah Anderson
The Ohio River, which formed the border between slave and free states, was referred to as the River Jordan in abolitionist circles because it represented the border between slave and free states. Madison, Indiana, was an especially appealing crossing point for enslaved persons on the run, because to an Underground Railroad cell established there by blacksmith Elijah Anderson and several other members of the town’s Black middle class in the 1850s. With his fair skin, Anderson might have passed for a white slave owner on his repeated travels into Kentucky, where would purportedly pick up 20 to 30 enslaved persons at a time and whisk them away to freedom, sometimes accompanying them as far as the Coffins’ mansion in Newport.
An anti-slavery mob devastated Madison in 1846, almost drowning an agent of the Underground Railroad, prompting Anderson to flee upriver to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where he eventually settled.
8. Thaddeus Stevens
Mr. Thaddeus Stevens is an American lawyer and senator. Bettmann Archive courtesy of Getty Images; Matthew Brady/Bettmann Archive Thaddeus Stevens, a representative from Pennsylvania, was outspoken in his opposition to slavery. The 14th and 15th amendments, which guaranteed African-American citizens equal protection under the law and the right to vote, respectively, were among his many accomplishments, and he also advocated for a radical reconstruction of the South, which included the redistribution of land from white plantation owners to former enslaved people.
Despite this, it wasn’t until 2002 that his Underground Railroad activities were brought to light, when archeologists uncovered a hidden hiding hole in the courtyard of his Lancaster house.
Seward, also served as Underground Railroad “stationmasters” during the era.
Quakers and the Underground Railroad
I have always been fascinated by American history, which is one of the reasons why I decided to work as a history guide at Tyler Arboretum. Fortunately for me, my spouse Joel has done the same. We have spent several vacations traveling to different places and learning about our country’s history. As a professional librarian, there is nothing I enjoy more than the process of obtaining knowledge. Also, I have a personal connection to the religious movement known as Quakerism. Despite the fact that I do not identify as a Quaker, my father’s ancestors were, and I have spent a significant amount of time investigating that branch of my family line.
- I found it intriguing to discover more about the Painter family and how their Quaker beliefs influenced their actions and contributions to our history, even though Tyler Arboretum is mostly known for its amazing collection of plants (as it should be).
- Quakers believe that God exists within each and every human being.
- In 1775, Quakers in Philadelphia created the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, which became known as the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage.
- Quakers who continued to keep slaves were either “read out” or ejected from the meetinghouse for their actions.
- Escaped slaves had been making their way to the Free states for quite some time, with assistance from Quakers, free blacks, and others along the route.
- Former slaves were once regarded free once they were able to go to a free state.
- Under the Fugitive Slave Act, slave hunters were permitted to enter Free States in order to chase down escaped slaves.
Anyone found guilty of assisting fugitives by supplying them with food, lodging, or any other form of help might face a $1,000 fine and a term of 6 months in jail if convicted.
This, combined with the fact that it was close to Delaware and Maryland, resulted in a thriving Underground Railroad in the area.
Eighty-two of them were Quakers, while thirty-one were free blacks.
Eusebius was married to Sarah Painter, daughter of Enos and Hannah Painter and sister to Minshall and Jacob.
Elizabeth Barnard and Sarah Painter are two of the most important figures in the history of literature.
Because of the strong assistance provided by Quakers in these locations, these routes were thought to be quite secure at the time.
The Honeycomb A.M.E.
Located on Barren Road, close to Tyler Arboretum, this church serves the local community.
Several strands of Jacob and Minshall Painter’s lives were intertwined with the Underground Railroad.
A known “conductor” is even mentioned by Minshall Painter in his journal as sending an escaped slave to Lachford Hall, according to Minshall Painter’s diary.
Because the Underground Railroad was illegal, and the penalties for participation were severe, the persons engaged were generally reluctant to record information that may be used against them, putting their lives and their efforts at risk.
Are you interested in the history of the Quakers? Swarthmore College’s Friends Historical Library is a worthwhile stop. a link to the page’s load
Quaker Accounts of the Underground Railroad in the Region of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Christopher Densmore, Curator of the Friends Historical Library, compiled this list. See also the website for the exhibit, QuakersSlavery. Regarding the Underground Railroad: Some Thoughts The “considerations” that follow are meant to put the study of the Underground Railroad in its proper historical perspective.
- Slavery was opposed in a variety of ways, with the primary goal being the abolition of the practice. Because it involved a relatively small number of individuals, the Underground Railroad was not the primary goal of the anti-slavery movement—the primary goal was the abolition of slavery as a system
- Those who worked on the Underground Railroad were well aware that it was the fugitives themselves who had taken the initiative and assumed the majority of the risks associated with escaping
- In writing about the Underground Railroad, the role of free and “self-emancipated” African American communities in assisting fleeing enslaved individuals, defending fugitives in the North, and avoiding the capture and slavery of free African-Americans has frequently been downplayed or minimized. A greater amount of investigation is required
- The legal component of the Underground Railroad is critical. Abolitionism and its supporters employed anti-kidnapping and “personal liberty” legislation not just to prevent the slavery of free people, but also to impede the return of runaway slaves. The participation of white persons on the Underground Railroad created fundamental problems regarding the balance between the legal obligations of citizens and the moral and religious responsibilities of individuals to follow their consciences and/or obey the will of God. The amount of organization on the Underground Railroad varied depending on the time period and location. A small number of “agents” and “station masters” were active in well-traveled routes, sometimes supporting hundreds of fugitives over the course of many years. Another person or group of people may be involved in a single occurrence, at the most. Some fugitives, possibly many, managed to escape with little or no assistance from the Underground Railroad
- Anti-slavery and abolitionist militants were frequently split on the tactics and purposes of abolitionist struggle. Abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass were both active in the movement, although they disagreed on the need of political activity. Quakers, who were anti-slavery by long held conviction and practice, were divided on the subject of collaborating with non-Quakers in reform groups. Some, such as Thomas Garrett and Lucretia Mott, were involved in abolitionist groups on a regular basis. Those who did not join the organized abolitionist movement included active Underground Railroad operatives such as Samuel Moore of Bucks County and John Jackson of Darby, Delaware County, who stayed outside of the organization. Secret hiding places for fleeing slaves, which were frequently mentioned in local tradition, appear to have played a minor role in the Underground Railroad. While escaped slave tales and the accounts of Underground Railroad conductors mention sheltering in cellars, attics, barns, and fields, secret chambers, if they existed at all, appear to have played a significant role in the twentieth century mythology of the Underground Railroad.
Documents and Readings
- Dr. Edwin Fussell has written on the Underground Railroad in Chester County, Pennsylvania
- William T. Kelley has written about the Underground Railroad on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware
- And others have written about the Underground Railroad in other parts of the country. In this collection, you will find documents relating to abolitionism, the Underground Railroad, kidnapping, and Quakers in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
- George S. Truman’s The Sharon Female Academy in Delaware County, Pennsylvania
- And Chester County (Pennsylvania) documents relating to abolitionism, the Underground Railroad, kidnapping, and Quakers.
Mark’s Contribution Andrew Huddle’s official website With permission from the Tar Heel Junior Historian, this article has been reprinted. The fall of 1996. NC Museum of History, Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, Tar Heel Junior Historian Association Anyone who had the courage to preach an abolitionist gospel in the South during the antebellum period would have faced serious consequences. After all was said and done, the Reverend Adam Crooks, a young Wesleyan Methodist missionary, arrived in North Carolina during the later months of 1847 to serve to a small circuit of antislavery churches.
Crooks was surprised to discover a surprising number of individuals who shared his thoughts about the “peculiar institution” after arriving in Jamestown, Guilford County.
Crooks provided the following unique perspective in one of his first comments to theTrue Wesleyan, the journal of his denomination: “There is far more antislavery fervor in this region of North Carolina than I had anticipated.” This is in large part due to the efforts of the Society of Friends.
- It is also interesting that I am mistaken for a Quaker when I am free to go anywhere I like.
- and even the Friends themselves assumed I was one of them.
- During the time of Crooks’s mission, Quakerism in North Carolina was on the decline.
- By the late 1840s, the denomination had suffered greatly as a result of this protracted fight.
- Others changed their religious affiliations entirely.
Quakers and the Issue of Slavery
The fact that North Carolina’s Quakers did not have a disagreement on slavery during the early years is noteworthy. In reality, antislavery feeling among Quakers developed gradually over a long period of time. Slavery was not banned by Quaker philosophy, despite the fact that issues of conscience periodically arose in the community. A New Jersey Quaker called John Woolman, on the other hand, took up the antislavery cause in the 1750s and went throughout the country to preach against the ills of slavery.
Woolman thought that slavery fostered a callousness toward humanity that was demeaning to both the slaveholder and the captive, and he advised slaveholders to cease their relationship with slavery as soon as possible.
Many of these Quakers came with a strong antipathy of slavery in their hearts.
Local gatherings were increasingly tense as a result of the buying and selling of persons.
It may come as a surprise to learn that the most important issue confronting North Carolina Friends was the manumission, or freeing, of their own slaves.
Quaker Dilemma: Manumission in North Carolina
It was not until 1741 that a colonial ordinance was passed prohibiting the manumission of slaves, save as a prize for excellent, or meritorious, service to the government. County courts had the ability to determine the merits of service in each individual instance, and if freedom was granted, freed slaves were given six months to leave the state before they were forced to return. In exchange for their service in the American Revolution, many former slaves were emancipated. As the topic of slavery became more contentious, many Quaker slaveholders found themselves in a difficult situation.
- However, it was against the law for them to release their slaves just because they wished to or because they believed they should.
- Newby’s petition triggered a spirited discussion that returned in meetings for over two years after it was first presented to the board.
- When Newby and 10 other Quaker slaveholders realized they were in breach of the 1741 statute, they released forty slaves.
- Officials were outraged and accused the Quakers of seeking to instigate a slave revolt in order to gain control of the country.
- This action marked the beginning of a lengthy series of legal fights between the state of North Carolina and the Quaker community in the state.
Quaker Efforts at Freeing Slaves
It was in 1808 that the North Carolina Yearly Meeting took action to alleviate the difficulties of its slaveholding members. The Yearly Meeting took advantage of a 1796 legislation that permitted organizations to purchase and sell property, and empowered its members to transfer ownership of their slaves to the Yearly Meeting itself. When the Society of Friends acquired about eight hundred slaves in 1814, it was one of the state’s greatest slaveholders, ranking second only to the Southern Baptist Convention.
- They were often given greater freedom than they had been used to having as plantation slaves, which was a significant improvement.
- The committee made certain that the revenues from their labors went to a fund to care for them and eventually relocate them to free regions in the North and West.
- The North Carolina Manumission Society, which was founded in 1816, was one such lobbying organization.
- Members of the group, known as Manumissionists, fought for the gradual liberation of slaves.
- They also sent representatives to national antislavery conventions and advocated for more black educational opportunities.
- Undoubtedly, the Underground Railroad was the most well-known of the Quaker antislavery activities of the nineteenth century.
- Escaped slaves were reported to have slept outside the New Garden Meetinghouse in Guilford County, North Carolina, until they could start their journey at night to avoid detection.
Other antislavery organizations discovered the central Piedmont to be a good field for planting their views, no doubt as a result of the impact of the Quakers.
Faith In Action: Quakers and the Underground Railroad
- One such resource is a map of underground railroad routes, which may be found on a computer with Internet connection.
Preparation for Activity
- The National Geographic webpage on the Underground Railroad should be shown on the computer
- Make copies of Leader Resource 1 and distribute them to everyone for viewing. Optional: More information on Quakers and the Underground Railroad may be found at suite101.com and How Stuff Works.
Description of Activity
The relationship between the Quakers and the Underground Railroad is explained to the youth. Begin by inquiring of the participants about their knowledge of the Underground Railroad. Inform participants that Quakers played a significant role in the operation of the Underground Railroad, a system through which persons who were enslaved were assisted in their escape to the northern states and Canada during the American Civil War. The abolitionist movement – the effort to put an end to slavery – had its start with the ministry of the Quakers, who preached abolition throughout the United States and territories throughout the early nineteenth century.
The routes begin in the southern states of the United States and conclude in Canada or the northern states.
National Geographic produced the documentary The Underground Railroad: The Journey.
- Despite the fact that Quakers were among the earliest members of the abolitionist movement and were engaged in the Underground Railroad throughout the country’s early history, many Quakers were also slave traffickers and owners during the country’s early history. Does this come as a surprise to you? According to the interactive site, the majority of slaves were urged to continue their journey into Canada. Why? Does this come as a surprise to you? Tell me about anything else you took away from the interactive site. What happened to Thomas Garrett, the Quaker who was jailed for assisting fugitive slaves in his quest for freedom? What happened to the fugitive slaves that were apprehended? Do you still believe that persons who assisted the Underground Railroad were courageous, despite the fact that the punishment for a white Quaker who assisted an African American slave was far less severe than the punishment for the slave himself? War, according to many Quakers, is sinful. In Africa, a large number of slaves perished as a result of battle. What, in your opinion, was the impact of this on Quaker attitudes on slavery? What impact did religious convictions play in persuading many Quakers to oppose slavery?
Download the whole Building Bridges (Word)(PDF) document to modify or print at your leisure.
LibGuides: Quakers, Slavery, and the Underground Railroad: Introduction and Online Sources
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- The Underground Railroad in Guilford County, by M. Gertrude Beal (The Southern Friend, Spring 1980)
- The Guilford College Woods
- Levi Coffin’s Recollections
- The Guilford College Wood
The Underground Railroad and Guilford College
Guilford College Woods; Levi Coffin’s Reminiscences; The Underground Railroad in Guilford County, by M. Gertrude Beal (The Southern Friend, Spring 1980); the Underground Railroad in Guilford County by M. Gertrude Beal (The Southern Friend, Spring 1980); the Underground Railroad in Guilford County by M. Gertrude Beal (The Southern Friend, Spring 1980); the Underground Railroad in Guilford County by M. Gertrude Beal (The
Blue River Quakers and the Abolitionist Movement
Since 1776, Quakers have prohibited their members from holding slaves and have advocated for equality for all people, regardless of gender or ethnicity. Friends joined the underground railroad because they were sure that what they were doing was good in God’s eyes, despite the fact that they were breaching man-made laws. According to historical records, the first reported sighting of a fugitive slave in the Salem region was in 1819. We may be confident in saying that the limited information we know concerning the covert functioning of the subterranean railroad in Washington County would have been accurate had it been discovered earlier in the century.
Furthermore, by the time stories/traditions concerning the county’s operation began to be shared publicly, all of our previous black people had either migrated or been unfairly pressured to leave the region.
In this county, we are unable to provide a comprehensive and accurate description of the operation, nor are we able to state categorically that these were the only routes, station houses, or conductors who took part.
Quakers Face a Crossroads based on their beliefs
Congress established an ordinance for the administration of the Northwest Area in 1787, which stated that “no slavery nor involuntary servitude shall be practiced in the said territory, unless in punishment of crimes, of which the party shall have been properly convicted.” In 1816, the identical clause was inserted into the state constitution for the first time. Following the implementation of this new rule, a large number of individuals moved to the region, stating that they did not intend to establish a permanent presence in slave-holding territory.
As a result, they turned their backs on their friends, towns, and homes in the Carolinas and other regions of the southern United States of America.
Blue River Quakers and the Fugitive Slave Law
The Quakers established communities across the area, including the one in Salem, and were all vehemently opposed to the institution of slavery. They viewed the runaway slave legislation of 1850 to be harsh and repressive, as well as a stain on the state’s otherwise honorable reputation. The law stated that “If any person, without proper authority, shall give to anyone owing service in any state or territory within the United States, a certificate or other testimonial of emancipation, or shall knowingly harbor or employ any such one owing service as aforesaid, or held as a slave, who may have come into this state without the consent of his or her owner, or shall encourage or assist any such one to desert or not go with her or his owner, or shall use any vio [
Results of the Fugitive Slave Act
However, rather from being a boon to owners of fleeing slaves as it was intended, this rule proved to be a barrier, because it served as an incentive for those who continued in fomenting the “irrepressible strife” to put forth a more determined effort. Despite the fact that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel ” Uncle Tom’s Cabin” vividly depicted the life of slavery and the aspirations that fueled the human quest for freedom, there were those in our midst before his time who had witnessed, heard, and could recite details of battles for liberty and life itself that were as stirring as any of the experiences of “Uncle Tom.” In reality, several Indiana Quakers pleaded with Mrs.
Stowe to use her extraordinary writing powers on behalf of slaves, and she was successful in obtaining the account of Eliza, which Mrs.
Blue River Quakers and the Underground Railroad
There was arguably no more bizarre institution known to the early history of Washington County than the “underground railroad,” which was a type of underground transportation system. It served as a bridging connection between slavery and liberation. There were conductors all along the enigmatic route, all of them were dedicated and engaged in their profession, and stations were built at strategic locations from the Ohio River all the way to the border with Canada. Several hundred slaves were delivered from bondage using this route between 1820 and 1860, with just a handful being apprehended and restored to bondage after being connected to the underground railroad.
The leaders of the Underground Railroad in Washington County, Indiana, were unknown in the early days, but by 1836 or shortly afterwards, the leaders were William Penn Trueblood, James L. Thompson, Joshua Trueblood, and Elwood Trueblood, all of whom were members of the Trueblood family.
Underground Railroad Sites in the Blue River Quaker Settlement
Stationhouse built by James L. Thompson Despite the fact that the Thompsons purportedly aided hundreds of fugitives over the Underground Railroad, James Thompson was only ever responsible for the deaths of two passengers, who were killed in an ambush by slave hunters, and was never charged with a crime. They were rumored to have hundreds of letters in their hands, penned by runaways who had written to express their gratitude once they had gained their freedom, according to reports. Stationhouse built by William Penn Trueblood His home, which was built in the early 1850s and is still standing today, belonged to him.
- If you were to look at the house from the outside, you would never guess that this chamber existed.
- Elwood TruebloodStationhouse is a fictional character created by author Elwood Trueblood.
- To see this publication, please click on the link provided below.
- Cypress Hill is a magnificent and big residence Nathan built in the Blue River Friends settlement area, which he named after his mother.
- A veranda stretched the whole length of the south side of the structure, which was often painted white in the early twentieth century.
- They had carried four seeds with them from North Carolina, and it was from one of those seeds that the extremely huge tree that symbolizes this strong and energetic family of pioneers sprouted.
- Cypress Hill was also known as the “Mount Vernon of Washington County” and was well-known for its kind and welcoming residents.
Cypress Hill was a gathering spot not only for the young and old people of the neighborhood, but it was also a resting site for traveling preachers of the gospel and fleeing negroes on their route north to freedom.
When James married his third cousin, Elizabeth Trueblood (sister of William Penn Trueblood), in 1815, in North Carolina, the couple embarked on the Wilderness Trail, which would take them to the Indiana Territory for their honeymoon.
A lieutenant for the Thompson Line of the subterranean railroad, “Little Jimmie” was dubbed so because of his diminutive size, which was supposed to make up for his lack of physical stature with heart and nerve.
He also refused to utilize any materials or goods that were made in any way, shape, or form using slave labor.
This area sprang up around the second expansion to the town of Salem, which was built by Charles Hay in the late 1830s.
Several of the residents of this neighborhood were well-known conductors on the subterranean railroad operation, and they also functioned as stationmasters when the situation called for it.
Information that may be of interest – In the adjacent county of Orange, there is an African American community.
Lindley House is a historic landmark in the town of Lindley.
Lindley home, erected in 1814, was in the Lindley family for more than 150 years and served as a residence for the family.
She was the last member of the family to live and die in the house, which was constructed of logs.
In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the Lindleys were a religious family of Quakers who were firm believers in the need of equality.
Trueblood Mill is a historical site in the town of Trueblood, in the county of Trueblood (Canton Mill) This mill, which was built in 1820 by Nathan Trueblood and operated under the supervision of his son, William Nathan, at the height of the Underground Railroad’s activity, was demolished in 1865.
From the 1840s until roughly 1860, William Trueblood had a resident employee and his family living in the mill. This guy, called George Washington “Wash” Parker, was an Indiana-born free black man who worked as a conductor on the Thompson Line, assisting fugitives in their pursuit of justice.
Underground Railroad Points of Interest in the Blue River Quaker Settlement
When it came to the Quakers, who were all sympathetic to the workings of the Underground Railroad, James L. Thompson was widely regarded as the de facto leader. It was about four miles northeast of Salem, in the Blue River Quaker Settlement, that he made his residence. James Thompson arrived in Washington County, North Carolina, with his parents, Levi and Jane (Nicholson) Thompson, when he was six years old in 1810. His parents were originally from North Carolina. His mother rose to prominence as a pastor in the early days of the Quaker Church.
- He revealed to numerous individuals that his parents had been involved in supporting escaped slaves long before he was mature enough to do it on his own initiative.
- James married Sarah “Sally” Towell, a native of Orange County, in 1826, and the couple built a home on his father’s land, on Section 2 of Washington Twp., where they lived for the remainder of their lives.
- Additionally, they were claimed to have had another hidden chamber, which was located in the attic of the house, which was identical to the upstairs room reported at William Penn Trueblood’s residence.
- They were rumored to have hundreds of letters in their hands, penned by runaways who had written to express their gratitude once they had gained their freedom, according to reports.
William Penn Trueblood, A Leader for the Underground Railroad in Washington County
James L. Thompson was widely regarded as the de facto leader of the Quakers, who were all sympathetic to the workings of the Underground Railroad. His residence, the Blue River Quaker Settlement, was approximately four miles northeast of Salem. He was 6 years old when he and his parents, Levi and Jane (Nicholson) Thompson, moved to Washington County, North Carolina, in 1810. They had come from North Carolina with their children. During his childhood, his mother rose to become a prominent pastor in the early days of the Quaker movement.
It was revealed to him by various persons that his parents had been involved in supporting escaped slaves long before he was of legal age to do so himself.
As a result of his marriage to Sarah “Sally” Towell, a native of Orange County, the couple built a home on his father’s land, on Section 2 of Washington Township, where they lived for the remainder of their lives.
They called it their “stationhouse.” Aside from that, they were reported to have had another hidden chamber in the attic of the house, which was identical to the upper room mentioned at the residence of William Penn Trueblood.
The gang was believed to have hundreds of letters in its hands, penned by runaways who had written to express their gratitude after they had been rescued from captivity. No one knows for certain what happened to those historically crucial correspondences.
Dangers faced by Underground Railroad Conductors
As a result of each new face that appeared at a station of the underground railroad, the conductor’s head was flooded with a plethora of questions to consider. Were the fugitives being hunted by the authorities? Were there slave hunters in the area? Was it a slave-owner or a professional slave hunter who was responsible for this? Were the fugitives publicized in any way? Is it possible that these were posted in Indiana or Washington County? What did they get as a reward for being apprehended?
Although it is not exactly correct to claim that the doors were always open to escaped slaves, they were quickly given the impression that friends were looking out for them.
As a result, until the requisite bearings could be obtained, it was common practice to hide these fleeing persons in straw and fodder racks, wheat shocks, quiet spots in the woods, haymows, outhouses, secret chambers, or cellars.
As soon as it was discovered that the fugitive had managed to avoid the vigilance of his pursuers, he was brought into closer communion with the rest of the group, and possibly given a few days’ labor to collect money to aid him on his trip, following which he was quickly flown to the next station.
Moving on to the Next Stations
Station No. 2 was located in Farmington, Jackson County, and was controlled by Richard Cox, who was also the station manager. Station No. 3 was located in Azalia, Bartholomew County, and was under the command of John Thomas. The next stop was near Franklin, and as a result, the route ran a little east of Indianapolis and all the way to Canada, with regular stations at regular intervals along the way. The route ended in Canada. Another option for getting from Azalia to Levi Coffin’s in Newport, Wayne County, was to go through Decatur, Franklin, and Fayette counties.
Those interested in finding out more about the Abolitionist movement in Washington County are encouraged to visit the Stevens Museum, located at the John Hay Center in Salem.
Hoosier National Forest – Underground Railroad: Lick Creek Church
North Carolina law no longer allowed manumission of one’s slaves without a $1,000 fee and then the freed individual had to leave the state immediately.These restrictive laws prompted Quakers to create a trusteeship system to free (manumit) their slaves.
Often these trustees and other Quakers who wanted to escape the laws fled to Indiana.Once in Indiana, African Americans were not always warmly welcomed to the state.
Close to the Kentucky border, Quaker conductors would guide freedom seekers through Chambersburg and often to the Lick Creek settlement or beyond.Sources:“The Underground Railroad in Indiana,”Cheryl LaRoche,Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: the Geography of ResistanceUS Forest Service, “Underground Railroad in Indiana: Lick Creek, Hoosier National Forest,”This information about the Underground Railroad is part of a geo-located multi-forest interpretive program.
Please contact the U.S. Forest Service Washington Office Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources program leadership with any questions or to make changes.SGV – Recreation Data and Information Coordinator.
At a Glance
|Information Center:||The U.S. Forest Service has created this multi-Forest interpretive program to highlight people and places along the historic Underground Railroad. Some of these sites are “virtual” locations and are intended to provoke thoughts and conversation but may not have anything physical present on the ground.These locations are generally relevant to the topics presented on the webpage.Please use caution when traveling to these remote locations and consult your local Forest Service office for more details.All of the sites highlighted in this program can be seen by visitingand searching within the magnifying glass for “Underground Railroad.”|