Niagara Gazette


February 26, 2013

BRADBERRY: Niagara's Heritage: Beyond, race, borders


Niagara Gazette — That research “included reviews of primary and secondary sources such as manuscripts, census records, historical maps, memoirs and autobiographies, local and county histories, newspapers, and oral traditions, as well as interviews and collaboration with local historians and extensive community outreach.”

The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Area Management Plan’s “Survey of Sites Relating to the UGRR, Abolitionism, and African American Life in Niagara Falls and Surrounding Area 1820-1880” documents and celebrates “the courage of the men and women who sought, and/or helped others to achieve, freedom from enslavement during the mid-nineteenth century” and it helps to put into perspective the role that our community played in the nationwide movement as detailed in a few of Fergus Bordewich’s items in a timeline below excerpted from his earlier published “Bound For Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War For the Soul of America”:

• LATE 1790s: Quaker Isaac T. Hopper and African-American collaborators begin helping fugitive slaves in Philadelphia. Their cooperation set the pattern for the Underground Railroad.

 1831: William Lloyd Garrison establishes the Liberator, in Boston. It is the first newspaper to call for the immediate abolition of slavery. Garrison’s passionate advocacy will sway the hearts and minds of countless Americans.

1833: The American Anti-Slavery Society is founded in Philadelphia, at the first national conference of abolitionists in American history. Many members of the society will become activists in the Underground Railroad.

LATE 1830s: David Ruggles creates the African-American underground in New York City. He will help more than one thousand fugitive slaves. One of his closest collaborators is Isaac Hopper.

• 1844: The earliest representation of the Underground Railroad as an actual train appears, in an abolitionist newspaper in Illinois, the Western Citizen. As iron railroads spread across the North, the lingo of railroading— “stations,” “station masters,” “cars,” and “passengers” — became the coded language of the underground.

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