PEOPLE

UGRR - People

PEOPLE

Overview

Both ordinary and extraordinary people made history during antebellum America. Key historical figures helped shape the course of action through their writing, decision-making, oratory, military involvement, actions, and everyday living. This section of the website highlights key individuals who contributed to the abolitionist cause and clandestine Underground Railroad activity.

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Sarah P. Remond

Sarah P. Remond was born in 1826 to John and Nancy Remond in Salem, Massachusetts. Her parents were extremely active in the fight for equality; her father was a lifelong member of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Remond was an active participant in the Salem Anti-Slavery Society, eventually traveling throughout New England and Ohio as a pro-Garrisonian advocate. In 1858, she traveled to England for a yearlong speaking tour, never to return to the United States. She enrolled in England’s Bedford College for Ladies in 1859 and moved to Italy where she became a physician.

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Secret Six

The Secret Six, also known as the Committee of Six, was a group of six wealthy men that provided financial funding for John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. The secret committee formed in March of 1858. Together they funded Brown’s activities, and some members actively participated. After the disastrous raid on Harpers Ferry most of the Secret Six abandoned Brown. Some pledged their support after he was hanged, but Thomas Wentworth Higginson was the only one to publicly stand by him through the entire ordeal.

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Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth earned permanent recognition in America’s hall of fame, a rare achievement for an unschooled African American woman. Truth’s fame is based on her presence and performance in a number of grand public moments. She was a reformer, a preacher, a women’s rights advocate, an abolitionist, and an angel of mercy during the Civil War. However, Sojourner Truth began her life in a humble family enslaved to Colonel Johannis Hardenberg II, the son of a Dutch immigrant to New York.

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Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was born into an antislavery, activist Quaker household. From her parents and other Quaker abolitionists she was exposed to activism at an early age. In her twenties, she became involved in antislavery activism and the temperance movement. While living in Rochester, New York, she helped enslaved African Americans pass through the city and was the principal New York agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. Through her activism she befriended Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who helped her organize the Women’s National Loyal League in 1863. After the Civil War Anthony devoted her life to women’s suffrage.

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The Crosswhite Family

Adam Crosswhite was 45 when he discovered that his master planned to sell his family apart. Adam, Mary and their children fled Kentucky, making their way through Indiana and into Marshall, Michigan. They lived in peace until late 1846 when Francis Troutman (grandson of Adam’s former owner) appeared in Marshall to capture the family. News spread rapidly throughout Marshall, and a crowd of between 50 and 250 white and black residents gathered around the Crosswhite home. After escaping with the help of Charles Gorham, the family made a new life in Chatham, Ontario.

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The Denison Family

In 1807, the Denison family protested their enslavement in the Michigan Territory Supreme Court. Peter and Hannah Denison and their four children were property of William Tucker. In 1787, the Northwest Ordinance stipulated that slavery would be outlawed in the lands north of the Ohio River. In 1796, Tucker’s widow promised to free Peter and Hannah in one year but claimed that their children would remain her property because they were born into slavery. The Denisons took widow Tucker to court but lost their case. Several days later, the Denison children fled to Canada. Elizabeth Denison, known as Lisette, returned to Michigan in 1820 and became a property owner in Pontiac.

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Theodore Dwight Weld

Theodore Dwight Weld was one of the most active and influential abolitionists. Weld was born November 23, 1803 in Hampton, Connecticut to a Congregational minister. In 1824, his family moved to the “burned-over district” where Weld was deeply influenced by the region’s religious revivals. He originally supported colonization but by the 1830s had begun to question its morality. In 1834 he organized the Lane Theological Seminary Debates, where students met to discuss slavery. Transformed by the debates, Weld began traveling through Ohio and New York to convince others of abolition’s importance. His efforts brought in hundreds of newly converted abolitionists to New York’s Anti-Slavery Societies. After the Civil War he lectured politicians to give federal rights to African Americans.

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Thomas Garrett

Thomas Garrett was a prominent abolitionist on the Underground Railroad in Delaware. Garrett was born to Quaker parents in Upper Darby, Delaware County, Pennsylvania on August 21, 1789. He was outspoken and uncompromising about his anti-slavery beliefs and never shied away from speaking about his activity on the Underground Railroad. In 1848 two Maryland slave owners sued him for helping their “property” escape slavery. The court ruled in their favor and repossessed all of his property. Despite being left penniless, Garrett addressed the court and gave an hour-long speech about the ills of slavery immediately following his trial.

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William and Ellen Craft

In 1848, William and Ellen Craft hatched a plan to escape slavery in Georgia for freedom in the North via railroad. Ellen, being very fair skinned, was to pose as a young white man while William was to pretend to be “his” servant. William purchased men’s clothing for Ellen, who added to the disguise by placing bandages on her face and resting her arm in a sling so that she did not have to sign any documents during their journey. On December 26, 1848, the couple boarded a train to Savannah and made their way to Philadelphia before the New Year. They traveled through Europe, Africa and the United States telling their story and setting up schools.

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William Lambert

William Lambert was one of Detroit’s wealthiest and most influential African American residents. He was born to free parents in Trenton, New Jersey and worked as a cabin boy on a steamboat. He moved to Detroit between 1838 and 1840 and began participating in abolitionist causes. He worked in Robert Bank’s clothing shop with George DeBaptiste until he opened his own; DeBaptiste helped Lambert establish contacts with other prominent black leaders in the city. Lambert was a founder of the Colored Vigilant Committee of Detroit and smuggled fugitive slaves to Canada. His skills as a writer and orator proved invaluable for every organization with which he was involved.

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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 | info@chwmuseum.org

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