Levi and Catharine Coffin, North Carolina Quakers who opposed slavery. During the 20 years they lived in Newport, the Coffins helped more than 2,000 slaves reach safety. In their flight, slaves used three main routes to cross into freedom: Madison and Jeffersonville, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio.
What role did Hoosiers Levi and Catharine Coffin played in the Underground Railroad?
During the 20 years they lived in Newport (now Fountain City), the Coffins worked to provide transportation, shelter, food and clothing to more than 1,000 freedom seekers.
What was Levi Coffins role in the Underground Railroad?
Levi Coffin was an important figure in the Underground Railroad network that helped thousands of fugitive slaves escape to freedom in the years before the American Civil War. Due to his religious beliefs, he became a strong opponent of African American slavery.
Is Levi Coffin black or white?
He was a white-American abolitionist and unofficial president of the Underground Railroad. Levi Coffin, from New Garden, N.C., was the only son among seven children. The young Levi received the bulk of his education at home, which proved to be good enough for Coffin to find work as a teacher for several years.
How old was Levi Coffin when he died?
Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”
When did Levi Coffin get married?
A part of the legendary Underground Railroad for fleeing slaves of pre-Civil War days, this registered National Historic Landmark is a Federal style brick home built in 1839. Escaping slaves could be hidden in this small upstairs room and the beds moved in front of the door to hide its existence.
How many slaves did Levi Coffin save?
Historians have estimated that the Coffins helped approximately 2,000 escaping slaves during their twenty years in Indiana and an estimated 1,300 more after their move to Cincinnati. (Coffin didn’t keep records, but estimated the number to be around 3,000.)
Who were Levi coffins parents?
The Coffins began sheltering fugitive slaves in Indiana during the winter of 1826–27, not long after their arrival at Newport. Their home became one of several Underground Railroad stops in a larger network of sites that provided aid to runaway slaves as they traveled north to freedom in Canada.
“President of the Underground Railroad,” Levi Coffin was an American abolitionist who helped thousands of fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom. He was born October 28, 1798, in New Garden, North Carolina, and died September 16, 1877, in Cincinnati, Ohio. A agricultural childhood presented Coffin with little opportunities for formal schooling, and he graduated from high school without a diploma. But he went on to become a teacher, and in 1821 he established the first Sunday school for slaves in New Garden.
Coffin, a devoted Quaker, was an outspoken opponent of slavery, despite his Southern origin and upbringing.
Coffin and his wife, Catharine, then converted their home into a depot, using most of the riches he was amassing as a wealthy trader to fund their voyage north by concealing and transporting “passengers” on their northern trek.
Catharine also created a sewing circle that convened in the Coffins’ house and worked together to make clothing for the fugitive slaves who were being held there.
A second mansion for the Coffins, erected in Newport in 1839, has been restored to its former glory.
Following the commencement of the American Civil War, he continued his association with the Underground Railroad and later tried to assist the abolitionists who had been freed from slavery.
A significant amount of essential material regarding Americanabolitionism may be found in his autobiography,Reminiscences of Levi Coffin(1876).
Levi & Catharine Coffin House
The weekdays between Wednesday and Sunday are off. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday Closed on Mondays* and Tuesdays, as well as on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (if applicable). We are open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (FREE), President’s Day (FREE), Memorial Day (FREE), Labor Day (FREE). On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the facility is only open for pre-registered programs. The COVID-19 and social distancing criteria have necessitated the providing of specific scheduled, inside tours for a restricted number of persons on a daily basis, Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm and lasting around 30 minutes each time.
The Coffin House is not open for self-guided tours at the present time. Tickets may be purchased here.
Walk up tour tickets are subject to availability. Purchasing online or by calling the site is recommended to ensure tour registration.
- Fountain City was officially recognized as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019. There are a variety of structures and dwellings in this town, which was established in the early 1800s and reflects a diverse spectrum of architectural styles. As a family, participate in a fun and fascinating treasure hunt as you attempt to locate and identify significant historical features. Your responses should be returned to the Levi and Catharine Coffin Interpretive Center in order to get a souvenir. Beginning in July 2020, families will be able to participate in this scavenger quest. Simply visit the Levi and Catharine Coffin Interpretive Center gift store and inquire about how to take part in the program. The cost per household is $2.
- When you bring a group of 15 or more people, you will receive $1 off normal entry. Booking a time and date for your group’s visit in advance is highly recommended. To make a reservation, please contact 765.847.1691 or send an email to [email protected]
- Special discounts are offered for educators and education organizations, as well as for military personnel and Access Pass users, among other things. See all of the available deals.
- Schools and homeschool organizations of at least ten Indiana K-12 students that book a field trip in advance and are accredited are eligible for free entry. Call (765) 847.1691 to make an appointment for your visit. Admission for non-Indiana school groups is $2 per person if they arrive with a pre-arranged appointment. Abolitionism, the Underground Railroad in Indiana, slavery, and the law are just a few of the academic themes explored. See the PreK-12 Education Program Guide for more information on field trip and school program opportunities. Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites PreK-12 Education Program Guide Check out the guide.
Commercial Photography And Videography
- If you are a photographer interested in scheduling a shoot at the Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site, please check our commercial photography policy and application process before proceeding. Find out more
Levi Coffin – Ohio History Central
According to Ohio History Central Copper etched picture of Levi Coffin (1798-1877), a Quaker who sympathized with fleeing slaves and was shown in this photograph of the original copper engraving. From 1826 through 1846, he and his wife Catharine provided assistance to more than two thousand fleeing slaves at Fountain City, in Wayne County, Indiana. As a key actor in the Underground Railroad network that assisted thousands of runaway slaves in their attempts to escape to freedom in the years leading up to the American Civil War, Levi Coffin is remembered today.
- He belonged to the Society of Friends, which he founded.
- In fact, by the time he reached the age of fifteen, Coffin had already began assisting escaped slaves.
- In 1847, Coffin relocated to the city of Cincinnati.
- During this time, he also became a participant in the Underground Railroad.
- The majority of northern states had either banned slavery or passed legislation to phase down the practice gradually.
- As a result, the supporters of the Underground Railroad set up safe homes in both free and slave states to shield African Americans throughout their journey.
- In recognition of Coffin’s active engagement in the Underground Railroad, his fellow abolitionists dubbed him the “president of the Underground Railroad.” Levi Coffin also aided African Americans in a variety of different ways.
- During the Civil War, he exerted more pressure on the federal government to establish the Freedmen’s Bureau.
- On September 16, 1877, he passed away in Cincinnati.
- Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by author Levi Coffin. Levi Coffin’s recollections of his time as the rumored President of the Underground Railroad. Arno Press, New York, NY, 1968
- Coffin, Levi, and William Still. Coffin, Levi, and William Still. Fleeing for Freedom: Stories of the Underground Railroad is a collection of short stories about people fleeing for freedom. Ivan R. Dee Publishers, Chicago, IL, 2004
- Hagedorn, Ann. Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad is a book about the heroes of the Underground Railroad. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
- Roseboom, Eugene H. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
- The period from 1850 to 1873 is known as the Civil War Era. The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society published the book in 1944.
Quakers Over 3,000 homes and other stations along the Underground Railroad, which connected runaway slaves from the southern United States to freedom in northern and Canadian states, were established by Levi and Catherine Coffin. They assisted thousands of slaves to safety in Newport, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as other cities throughout the United States. Catherine Coffin and her husband Levi are shown here. Levi Coffin tied the knot with Catherine White, the sister of his brother-in-law and a long-time acquaintance, on October 28, 1824.
- Catherine’s family is known to have been active in the rescue and reintegration of fugitive slaves, and it is possible that she met Levi while participating in such efforts.
- Indiana was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
- They settled in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana.
- He discovered that there was a big colony of free blacks in Newport, where fugitive slaves might hide before continuing north.
- Coffin made contact with the black community and informed them that he would be prepared to take in runaway slaves if they were willing to stay in his house.
- Catherine sewed garments for the freedom seekers in order for them to seem nice while they traveled northward.
- It wasn’t until the 1830s that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was coined, although the organization had been functioning in Indiana from the early 1820s, according to historical records.
This was extremely unsafe and unlawful labor.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 established a legal framework that allowed the government to track down escaped slaves in any state or territory.
The Fugitive Slave Acts were among the most contentious pieces of legislation passed during the early nineteenth century.
The slaves were returned to their masters in the South if they were detected by the authorities.
Despite the fact that Massachusetts had abolished slavery in 1783, the Fugitive Slave Acts mandated state officials to assist slavecatchers in apprehending fugitives inside their state’s borders.
The news of the Coffins’ exploits immediately went across the town of Newport, Rhode Island.
Nevertheless, many Quakers donated money as well as food and clothes to the Coffins in order to aid them in their job.
Levi remarked in his later years that the success of his firm had enabled them to get fully involved in the Underground Railroad as a result of their success.
Levi Coffin House is a historic building in Levi, Pennsylvania.
In the maids’ quarters, a hidden entrance was constructed, through which up to fourteen individuals could be concealed in a tight nook between the walls.
The Levi Coffin House in Newport, Indiana, often known as the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad, is seen in this photograph.
During the night, Coffin transported the fugitives from his residence to the next location.
The couple resided in Newport for twenty years, during which time Catherine gave birth to five additional children: two girls and three boys, ensuring that there was always a newborn or toddler to look after in addition to the countless houseguests.
She formed a sewing association to create garments for fugitives, which she ran for a number of years.
In his speech at their fiftieth wedding anniversary party, Levi recounted how there was never a night that was too cold, dark, or wet for her to rise up at any hour and cook a dinner for the wretched fugitives.
Even though slave hunters threatened them with death, “they were never in the least bit afraid.” As time went on, the operations of the Underground Railroad grew more widely tolerated, and they had little need to be afraid in Newport.
Nathan Coggswell recalled bringing refugees on his ox cart northward, towards Canada, during the Great Depression.
There were times when we had to rig a covered wagon since there were ladies and children.
In eastern Indiana, the necessity for concealment diminished during the 1840s and 1850s as the nation’s understanding of slavery’s horrors grew.
We discussed the problem openly amongst ourselves, but we said little or nothing to those who were listening in.
Along with white abolitionists who assisted them in their crucial work, the Coffins also enlisted the assistance of many blacks, like William Bush, to aid them in their endeavors.
Bush remained in the area until his death, where he worked as a conductor for other fugitive slaves.
The Quakers put a lot of pressure on the government.
Quaker leaders recommended its members in 1842 to discontinue their involvement in abolitionist organisations and to halt supporting escaped slaves as well.
It was the next year that they repudiated the Coffins and removed them from their meeting house because they had maintained their active involvement with slaves who were fleeing to freedom.
The two factions did not reunite until 1851, when they were formally re-united.
Free Labor Merchandise Levi gradually came to the realization that many of the things he sold in his business were the product of slave labor as the years went by.
Coffin was approached by proponents of free labor in the eastern United States who wanted to establish a similar organization in the western United States.
At first, he refused to participate.
Diverse interest groups continued to exert pressure on Levi to take a position as director of the newly formed company.
Ohio’s Underground Railroad (Urban Underground Railroad) Long before the American Civil War, Quakers exhorted people not to purchase things that were made using slave labor.
Antislavery activists approached Levi Coffin and asked for his assistance in operating the warehouse.
In 1847, the Coffins relocated to Cincinnati, where they resumed their efforts to assist fleeing slaves in need of assistance.
Unlike Newport, however, the town was divided into antislavery and proslavery advocates, as opposed to one another.
The Underground Railroad, by Charles Webber, published in 1891.
It’s possible that the setting is the Coffin family’s house in Cincinnati.
Because of the large number of visitors that came and went, the house served as a perfect cover for a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Catherine began making costumes, and when the fugitives came, she disguised them as butlers, chefs, and other members of the home staff.
When the wearer’s head was turned slightly downward, the high collar, long sleeves, gloves, veil, and broad brimmed hat were all designed to totally conceal the wearer.
Eliza Harris is a young woman who lives in the United Kingdom.
When she arrived at Coffin’s house, she was fatigued and on the verge of passing out.
It was at this time that Harriet Beecher Stowe was residing in the city and was well acquainted with the Coffins.
Her gentle Indiana Quakers, Simeon and Rachel Halliday, were based on Levi and Catherine Coffin, who were the inspiration for her characters.
The American Civil War and Its Aftermath During the Civil War, the Coffins shifted their attention from assisting liberated individuals in prison camps to assisting freed people in refugee camps.
Following WWII, the Coffins shifted their focus to the Western Freedmen’s Aid Society, which assisted freed slaves in obtaining an education and meeting their basic living requirements.
Near the end of his life, Levi released a book of memoirs titled Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad, which was a collection of his memories (1876).
He was buried at Cincinnati’s historic Spring Grove Cemetery, which is now known as the Levi Coffin National Historic Site.
Catherine Coffin passed away on May 25, 1881, at the age of 78, as the result of pneumonia.
SOURCES Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by the author Levi Coffin. Depot for the Underground Railroad Levi and Catherine Coffin, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society Threads of Memory 3: Catherine White Coffin’s new garden star is unveiled
Aboard the Underground Railroad- Levi Coffin House
8 Key Contributors to the Underground Railroad
Quakers Over 3,000 homes and other stations along the Underground Railroad, which connected runaway slaves from the southern United States to freedom in northern and Canadian states, were established by Levi and Catherine Coffin. They assisted thousands of slaves to safety in Newport, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio. The couple in the photo are Catherine and Levi Coffin. Catherine White, the sister of his brother-in-law and a long-time friend of Levi Coffin’s, was married to him on October 28, 1824 in Philadelphia.
- Catherine’s family is known to have been active in the rescue and reintegration of fugitive slaves, and it is possible that she met Levi while participating in these endeavors.
- Indiana is a state where the Underground Railroad operated.
- Levi quickly built a thriving general shop and established himself as a well-regarded member of the local community.
- However, because their hiding location was well known, the slaves were frequently apprehended and recovered.
- It was during the winter of 1826–1827 that the Coffins first welcomed fugitive slaves into their house.
- So that the freedom searchers might look respectable on their journey north, Catherine sewed garments for the group.
- It wasn’t until the 1830s that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was coined, but the organization had been functioning in Indiana since the early 1820s.
Working in this environment was risky and unlawful.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 established a legal framework that allowed the government to track down escaped slaves in any state or territory in the United States and Canada.
A number of contentious legislation were passed throughout the early nineteenth century, with the Fugitive Slave Acts being among the most notable.
The slaves were returned to their masters in the South if they were found to be free.
Although slavery was abolished in Massachusetts in 1783, the Fugitive Slave Acts mandated government authorities to aid slavecatchers in apprehending fugitives within their own state boundaries.
The exploits of the Coffins immediately became known throughout the town of Newport.
The fugitives were joined by other townspeople who had previously been terrified, and they worked together to establish a more official path so that they could be transferred more easily from one location to the next.
A large rise in the number of fugitives escaping through eastern Indiana was made possible by the generosity, daring, and organizational abilities of the Coffins.
It was erected in 1839 by the Coffins, who made various alterations to it in order to provide better hiding spots for themselves and their families.
Most of the rooms in the house have at least two exits and several interesting hiding spots, and there was an extraordinary indoor well in the basement that hidden the massive amount of water required to support a large number of people in the house.
The Coffin residence served as a site of junction for three significant escape routes from Madison and New Albany, Indiana, as well as Cincinnati, Ohio, all of which originated in the area.
During the 20 years that Levi and Catherine Coffin resided in Newport, it is estimated that they assisted as many as 2,000 slaves in their escape to freedom in the free states and Canada.
As a result, there was always a newborn or toddler to look after, on top of the countless houseguests they had.
The fugitive’s clothing was sewn together by her sewing group, which she founded.
In his speech at their fiftieth wedding anniversary party, Levi recounted how there was never a night that was too cold, dark, or wet for her to rise up at any hour and make a dinner for the wretched fugitives.
Even as slave hunters threatened them with death, “they did not appear to be in the least bit scared.” Following a period of acceptance, the Underground Railroad’s actions in Newport were no longer considered dangerous.
Nathan Coggswell recalled carrying refugees on his ox cart from the United States to Canada in the 1960s.
A covered wagon had to be rigged when there were ladies and children involved.
In eastern Indiana, the necessity for concealment diminished during the 1840s and 1850s as a national knowledge of slavery’s horrors emerged.
Amongst ourselves, we discussed the subject freely, but we said little or nothing to those around us about it.
Along with white abolitionists who assisted them in their crucial job, the Coffins also enlisted the assistance of many blacks, like William Bush, to aid them in their essential endeavor.
In fact, Bush continued on as a conductor for other fugitive slaves until his death in 1854.
The Quakers put a lot of pressure on him.
Abolitionist clubs and the aiding of escaped slaves were both discouraged by Quaker leaders in 1842, who recommended its members to discontinue participation.
It was the next year that they repudiated the Coffins and banished them from their meeting house because they had maintained their active involvement with slaves who were fleeing their grasp.
It wasn’t until 1851 when the two tribes were reunited after many years of separation.
Goods for Free Labor Levi gradually realized that many of the things he sold in his business were the result of slave labor as time went on.
In the east, proponents of free labor sought to establish a similar organization in the west, and they approached Coffin to see if he would be interested in leading the planned Western Free Produce Association.
He first refused to participate.
Various parties continued to put pressure on Levi to take a job as director of the new company.
He reluctantly consented, but only for a limited time period of five years, during which he would be able to train someone else to take over the warehouse’s management.
Consumers were instructed not to purchase things made with slave labor well before the American Civil War.
Leaders of the antislavery movement approached Levi Coffin and asked for his assistance in operating the facility.
Following their relocation to Cincinnati in 1847, the Coffins redoubled their efforts to assist escaped slaves.
Unlike Newport, however, the town was divided between antislavery and proslavery advocates, which was unlike Newport.
Photograph by Charles Webber (c.
The Coffin family’s home in Cincinnati may serve as the scene.
In addition to serving as a great cover for an Underground Railroad stop, the house had a lot of guests who came and went.
Following this, Catherine began manufacturing costumes, and when the fugitives showed up, she disguised them as butlers, chefs, and other household employees.
When the wearer’s head is angled slightly downward, the high collar, long sleeves, gloves, veil, and broad brimmed hat can entirely conceal them.
Eliza Harris is a young woman who lives in the city of Los Angeles, California.
After a long journey, she arrived to Coffin’s house very fatigued and nearly dead.
It was at this time that Harriet Beecher Stowe was residing in the city and was well familiar with the Coffins.
They were inspired by Levi and Catherine Coffin and were called Simeon and Rachel Halliday after two compassionate Indiana Quakers.
Beyond the American Civil War Because of their involvement with liberated slaves in refugee camps during the Civil War, the Coffins shifted their attention to assisting released slaves in general.
Following WWII, the Coffins focused their efforts on the Western Freedmen’s Aid Society, which assisted freed slaves in obtaining an education and meeting their basic living requirements.
When Levi reached the end of his life, he wrote his autobiography, which was published as Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad, in the late 1920s (1876).
He was buried at Cincinnati’s historic Spring Grove Cemetery, which is now known as the Levi Coffin Memorial Park.
At the age of 78, Catherine Coffin succumbed to pneumonia on May 25, 1881.
SOURCES Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by Wikipedia. Departure point for the Underground Railroad The Levi and Catherine Coffin family of Indiana is featured in the Indiana Historical Society. 3rd installment of Threads of Memory: Catherine White Coffin’s new garden star
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.
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.
7. Elijah Anderson
An image of Levi Coffin, his wife Catherine, and Hannah Haydock supporting a group of escape slaves appears in The Underground Railroad, a painting by Charles T. Webber. Getty Images/Betty Mann Archive When Levi Coffin was seven years old, he is said to have watched a column of chained enslaved persons being driven to auction, prompting him to become an abolitionist. He is known as the “president of the Underground Railroad.” 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, Ohio.
Operating openly, Coffin even organized anti-slavery lectures and abolitionist sewing club gatherings.
He, like his fellow Quaker Thomas Garrett, refused to testify when he was called to testify in court. His writings said that “the mandates of humanity were in direct conflict with the law of the land,” and that “we rejected the law.”
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.
It was an informal network of individuals and residences across the United States that assisted runaway slaves – slaves who had fled from plantations in the South – in their attempts to seek safety in the northern tier of the country, Canada, and to a lesser degree, Mexico and the Caribbean It was not a railroad in the traditional sense, but rather a network of roads that slaves used to go from one place to another.
- However, in line with the image of a railroad, the persons who assisted the escape slaves were referred to as “conductors” or “station masters,” and their residences were referred to as “stations” or “depots,” respectively.
- Although the escaped slave was occasionally escorted by a conductor, in most cases the station master merely handed the fugitive slave with directions to the next station.
- fugitives, slave hunters, and abolitionists are all represented.
- Before the American Revolution, when slavery was legal in all of the colonies, the majority of escaped slaves sought refuge in communities in marshes, forests, and mountains.
- Abolitionists in the South who crossed the Mississippi River to the North, notably in the cities of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, could live as free men and women by the year 1810.
- The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made it a federal criminal for any free person to aid a fugitive slave in his or her escape.
- However, several northern states enacted legislation that either overrode or undercut the federal legislation.
Juries in the Northern United States frequently found in favor of fleeing slaves regardless of the evidence, thereby awarding them emancipation.
By the 1830s, there was a burgeoning abolitionist movement in the northern United States.
While the majority of abolitionist organizations were based in the North, a small number of Southerners thought that slavery was immoral and created abolitionist groups in their own localities as well.
Despite the fact that many individuals opposed slavery, only a small number of people were committed enough to the cause to assist runaway slaves in escaping their owners.
Sectional tensions and the Fugitive Slave Act are two issues that need to be addressed.
Abolitionist organisations were illegal in the South, and their publications were prohibited.
Individuals who hide fugitives may be subject to fines or imprisonment.
It was a shock to thousands of African Americans who had been living in freedom in the North that they were now at risk of being seized and returned to slavery in the South.
The Fugitive Slave Act, on the other hand, had a negative impact on most of the northern states.
Northerners who had previously turned a blind eye to the reality of slavery were now witnessing them play out in their own backyards and neighborhoods.
People were becoming more ready to aid fleeing slaves and provide them safe passage to Canada, where they would be out of reach of federal marshals and slave hunters, despite the hazards.
No single individual was familiar with all of the participants; each station master was simply aware of the location of the next station, who lived there, and whether or not there were any more stations in the vicinity.
The Underground Railroad’s informal and private character has left much of its history unknown to historians, who have only recently discovered it.
Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by author Levi Coffin.
He and his wife Catherine claimed to have assisted around 3,000 men and women in their attempts to escape slavery.
His ancestors were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers), who were abolitionists against slavery.
Coffin was given the opportunity to aid escaped slaves when he was a young man.
Indiana was a free state, and Newport was home to a large number of Quakers as well as escaped slaves during the American Revolution.
The town’s strategic position, as well as the fact that it was populated by black and white people who were opposed to slavery, made it a popular destination for men and women fleeing enslavement.
In 1847, the Coffins relocated to Cincinnati, where he established a warehouse to enable him to sell items produced by free employees rather than slaves.
Following the Civil War, Coffin worked to gather funds in Europe and the United States’ northern states to assist African Americans in establishing businesses and farms following their freedom.
Levi Coffin was only one of many men and women who worked persistently to aid escaped slaves, and some historians believe that Levi Coffin inflated his achievements and that his celebrity was not wholly earned.
A free black man from New Jersey, William Still, acquired a similar title – “Father of the Underground Railroad” – and, in his own memoirs, commended the fortitude of the fugitives themselves, who took far more risks than the white abolitionists who assisted them.
A story of the Underground Railroad
Levi Coffin wrote about his experiences assisting escaped slaves in his memoirs, which was released after the Civil War. He also shared his story of how he initially became involved in assisting slaves in their escape to freedom.
Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site · Discover Indiana
He wrote of his work with escaped slaves in his memoirs, which was released after the American Civil War. As well, he shared his background in assisting slaves on their journey to freedom.
The Underground Railroad in Indiana
The Underground Railroad was a clandestine network of safe homes that assisted enslaved persons in their attempts to emigrate. During the years leading up to the United StatesCivil War, it was first employed in the early nineteenth century. The “railroad” connected slave-supporting states in the South to “free” states in the North and Canada via the Transcontinental Railroad. Routes were occasionally formed by abolitionists, or persons who were opposed to slavery. Most of the time, the network consisted of a succession of tiny, individual activities to assist enslaved persons who were seeking their freedom.
- Using this line, slave states were separated from free states.
- Not everyone in Indiana supported the emancipation of enslaved people.
- It is comparable to the stories of all other states that played a role in the Underground Railroad to tell the narrative of Indiana.
- The great majority of the network consisted of people who worked in secret to assist freedom-seekers in whatever way they could.
Participants in the transportation of enslaved persons to safety and freedom were referred to as “conductors,” while those that were transported were referred to as “passengers.” “Stations” were private residences or businesses where passengers and conductors could take refuge from the elements.
- According to one account, it was employed by failed Pennsylvania patrolmen who attempted to capture freedom-seeking individuals.
- He said that he collaborated with others to flee to the North, where “the railroad went underground all the way to Boston,” after being tortured.
- It’s a Difficult Relationship Between Indiana and Slavery.
- According to Article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance, slavery was prohibited north of the Ohio River and south of the Mississippi River.
- People who were enslaved in 1787 remained slaves, despite the fact that enslaving new people was prohibited.
- Despite the fact that it was nominally a “free” state, it was not a welcoming environment for black people.
- African-Americans were obliged to register with the county and deposit a bond indicating that they would not cause disturbance in 1831, according to state politicians.
Indiana’s 1851 Constitution prohibited blacks from voting, serving in the army, or testifying in any trial in which a white person was accused of a crime.
All three pathways eventually went to Michigan and subsequently to Canada, although they took different routes.
There were several stops along the way on the routes in Indiana.
Historians now feel that the path to independence resembled a spider’s web rather than three independent pathways to freedom.
It was necessary for them to travel east at times, or to return south before continuing north.
Colonel Levi Coffin, a leader in the underground railroad movement Levi Coffin was the most well-known Underground Railroad “stationmaster” in Indiana during the era of the Underground Railroad.
Over the course of two decades, he and his wife claimed to have hosted about 2,000 individuals.
Eliza Harris, a Kentucky woman who was enslaved at the time, overheard her enslaver indicate he intended to sell one of her children for money in the winter of 1830.
She managed to get away and make her way to the Ohio River.
Eliza Harris leaped onto a block of ice floating in the river as she heard her enslaver’s horse approaching.
Harris and her baby were able to escape and were taken to Levi Coffin’s house for recuperation.
In 1854, Levi and Catherine Coffin were on a visit to Canada with their daughter when a woman approached Catherine and introduced herself.
Catherine’s hand was grabbed by the woman, who cried, “How are you doing today, Aunt Katie? God’s blessings on you!” It was Eliza Harris who had made it safely to Chatham, Ontario, Canada from her home in New York.
Levi and Catherine Coffin: Historic Hoosier Heroes
Histories can be found all across our lovely state, and while I don’t usually pick favorites, the Levi and Catherine Coffin House in Fountain City is one of my personal favorites. I’ve been to this site countless times, but this was the first time I was able to see the newly new interpretive center, which is conveniently located next door. Allow me to provide you with a brief summary.
- The underground railroad was alive and well in Indiana during the nineteenth century
- Because of the secrecy that had to be maintained at the time, only a few locations have been documented as being part of the railroad
- Levi and Catherine Coffin assisted many slaves in their journey to freedom, and we know this because of his own book, which details how and why they were a part of this historic piece of United States History
It is believed that the underground railroad was alive and well in Indiana during the nineteenth century; due to the secrecy that had to be maintained at the time, only a few locations have been documented as being part of the railroad; Levi and Catherine Coffin assisted many slaves in their journey to freedom, as detailed in his own book, which details how and why they were involved in this historic piece of US History;
- Open throughout the year
- Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Adults: $10
- Seniors: $8
- Children: $5
There is so much I could tell you about this site, but it is best if you go and see it for yourself. History and tale are one for the books (literally), and you will be glad you went and saw it for your own eyes only. Keep in mind to take full advantage of all Wayne Countyhas to offer while you are here. This is one of my favorite spots to visit in the state, with everything from chocolate trails to antiques to wonderful eating. For proof, read this tale and this story, which both highlight my experience in the country.
Underground Railroad Month spotlights efforts of Fountain City’s Coffins
THE CITY OF FOUNTAIN CITY, INDIANA — September has been designated as Underground Railroad Month by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in recognition of the role that abolitionists such as Levi and Catharine Coffin played in assisting more than 1,000 freedom seekers escape slavery during the period 1826-1847 by providing them with transportation, shelter, food, and clothing in their Fountain City home.
The position of the house, on U.S. 27, in the heart of an abolitionist Quaker village, enabled the entire neighborhood to act as lookouts for the Coffins and provide them with enough notice when bounty hunters arrived into town, allowing the Coffins to escape.
Wednesday through Sunday, visitors can take a tour of the Coffin House at 10:30 a.m.
765-847-1691 is the number to contact for further information.
A blind tour guide tells the tale of Levi Coffin House – and her own family – throughout her tour.
It is part of a countrywide movement to honor the Underground Railroad, and the governor’s proclamation is a part of that effort.
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They will collaborate with the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom to establish connections with verified Underground Railroad sites, facilities, and programs from across the United States in the year 2020.
“It’s great to see the governors bringing attention to the Underground Railroad,” Hahn said.
The Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center was designated “one of 12 new museums across the globe to visit” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2016, and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development called it “one of the finest museums in the state of Indiana.” Currently, Marc Allen serves as the director of communication at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.