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                                Greetings from Sandwich, New Hampshire

Census • Covered Bridges • Disease • Town History • Slavery • Original Land Owners

      Slavery & The Underground Railroad

There has been another page added to this area. See below....

The Underground Railroad can be "a comforting way of talking about slavery." The fact is, according to Prof. Ernest, that most of the enslaved people who escaped found their own way out. Like abolitionist Frederick Douglass, slaves often went "underground", or incognito, and simply took a train. Maria Weems, a well known success story of the Underground Railroad, escaped north by dressing up as a black jack, a male sailor, and taking a public train.

The Underground Railroad's secrecy served a dual purpose, first by protecting the identities of those in the escape network, white and black. Secondly, black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass wanted southern slave owners to believe in an extensive, organized, well-funded popular network of "slave stealers". The more they feared the Underground Railroad, Douglass reasoned, the better.


 (click image to enlarge) 

Below is the text beneath the photo of Jerry.

"As a little girl, my elders talked    frequently of Jerry, who I think he was the first Negro to live in Sandwich. He  was  an  ex-slave  who   lived  in      the  family   of Gilman   Moulton,   father  of  the  late  Warren J.  Moulton, president  of  Bangor   Theological  School in Bangor, and  was one of  the first Quimby Trustees.
  This  seems   worthy  of   remembering.  Jerry   was returned to the South to die."
Louisa Moulton

Note: A special thank you to the
Sandwich Historical Soc. for the use of this photo.

     (click on map)


WHAT WAS THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD?                  John Greenleaf Whittier

The Underground Slave Railroad  (URR) was the name given to the network of escape routes by fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom in Canada.  The houses of those who would shelter the runaways were called "stations," the home owners were called "agents," and those that guided the slaves were called "conductors" and the slaves themselves were called "packages". There was no one single route to Canada.  The slave would start his journey on foot following the north star.

There were conflicting views about the aiding of the runaways. It was no easy choice for   an individual to decide to break the law and be willing to risk everything to help the fugitives. Many   of these people were Quakers. As early as 1784 it was stated that no Friend in America owned a slave. Many well known Quakers were openly active in the Underground.

This great movement of runaways and the humanitarians helping them peaked during the mid-1800's. There are an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 runaways who reached freedom on the URR.

The map above shows the three prominent lines of the Underground. The third route ( and the most likely taken by the fugitives) passed through Sandwich. The Rev. O. B. Cheney, President of Bates College was the agent for this route from 1843-45.


John Greenleaf Whittier wrote his short poem "New Hampshire" to honor the Granite State's bold unique stand against slavery in 1846, decades before the Emancipation Proclamation. The final verse, often quoted, is a stirring call to arms against human bondage with New Hampshire leading the battle: Courage, then, Northern hearts! Be firm, be true; What one brave State hath done, can ye not also do?

The facts are  less glorious. New Hampshire's early track record in opposing discrimination, would win no gold metals. Like its southern cousins, NH started out as a slave state. Some of its stately seaport homes were built from slave trade profits. By the Revolution, African-American slaves served white  owners in most prestigious families -- the Cutts, the Whipples, the Ladds, the Lears, the Langdons, the Wentworths

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