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Detroit, Michigan

Detroit was one of the most active and important cities on the Underground Railroad and was a frequent destination for many of the nation’s leading abolitionists. Detroit, and Michigan as a whole, had a history of slavery under both French and English rule. It was officially abolished in 1837 when Michigan entered the Union, but Black Detroiters had long been fighting for freedom. In 1833 they saved Thornton and Ruthie Blackburn from being re-enslaved in Kentucky, efforts that led to the city’s first race riot. Second Baptist Church formed in 1836 and birthed many of the city’s abolitionist organizations.

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© 2012 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. All rights reserved. 315 East Warren Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201 | (313) 494-5800 |

This program was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural Program.