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tv   Underground Railroad and Washington D.C.  CSPAN  October 3, 2015 10:30am-12:03pm EDT

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helping escaped slaves and points out some underground railroad locations in the district of columbia. the d.c. public library hosted this 90-minute event. mr. gibbs: good evening. my name is c.r. gibbs. the topic is the underground railroad in the district of columbia. in the catalog of human endeavors, there are few chapters more grand than the story of the underground railroad. the organized effort to have people make the great trek from slavery to freedom is one that strikes a resonance in our hearts and minds that rings from the time we will chronicle down to the 21st century. what we will also see is that it's not simply a matter of evading the beasts that you can see, but also the ones you really can't. if you look closely at this painting called "the hunted slaves" from 1861, the dogs, the
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slobbering hounds that the man is so ferociously resisting with his axe. he has already slain one. these are simply, if you will, ideas or symbols for the slave power, the slave owners. there are also something else. other dangers. we have the wilds, going into unfamiliar territory. it will be difficult to see on the tree log, just about here. let's just say we will call this creature -- sir arthur conan doyle called it the speckled band. it is a symbol of the other dangers, the bounty hunters, the spies and informers that sought to make money off of the desire of black people to live in freedom and dignity.
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this snake represents some of the other things. next slide. in this painting, "north to freedom," we have a sense of the fact that you are never too old or too young to feel the urge to do better. to move from oppression to liberty. next slide. perhaps i can explain it better. come with me to a hillside at night on the eighth of august, 1850. you are in a carriage, it's a hired rig pulled by two horses. there is only one lamp swinging off the carriage just to light the way. you started in the center of the city. you are headed north. you are going to come to what we call today eastern avenue, just as you come into georgia and
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eastern avenue, just as you come into silver spring. what's going to happen here will be a singular incident in the history of the underground railroad in the district of columbia. and in fact, will involve this man, william chaplin. he is the man who is driving the coach. as he reaches what we will call the district line, as he moves into silver spring, he will feel a powerful blow on his right hand. he will lose control of the reins of his horses and before he knows it, he will be pulled off the carriage. a group of hard-faced men with pistols will surround the carriage. they will fire into it. what they want is the two men
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inside, two freedom-seeking black men. one of them, garland white, who would later become a chaplain for government troops in the civil war, and another man seeking freedom whose name is alan. these are who we would call today high-value targets. these are not just two anonymous unknown black folks. they are enslaved people belonging to two of the most powerful senators in the entire south. one of them is enslaved by alexander stevens, who would later become the vice president of the confederacy. another belongs legally to robert toombs, another powerful influential southern senator. these men did not want these men, these black men, to get away. you must understand, these southern senators had made their bones on how happy black folks had been, how content they were.
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and here was a reputation that would ring across the oceans and around the world. they could not have this. in fact, it gives us a sense of the kinds of obstacles that had to be faced when we understand that almost from the time that chaplin hired the rig at the blacksmith's shop, he was being watched. people knew he was going somewhere that he shouldn't be. that he had, if you will, sentiments of an abolitionist nature. he was watched and the bounty hunters knew. they were waiting for him when he got to the district line. from a local newspaper, from the very month and year. circumstances have occurred to fan the excitement in the city. an abolitionist by the name of william chaplin has seduced two slaves brought here by mrs.
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toombs and stevens of congress and was in the act of carrying them off sometime during the last week. but mr. garter of the police, suspecting his intentions, overhauled the carriage and after several shots had been fired -- let me just say parenthetically, he had no gun. but they had to build it up. they had to build it up. -- which was returned by the police, riddling the carriage. chaplin and one of his slaves were arrested and brought back to washington where they were thrown into prison. the other slave escaped into the woods but has since returned wounded to his master. we jump down here to the "daily union," a local washington, d.c. paper, august 15, 1850.
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another case, some six weeks ago, three slaves brought to the city by a member of congress by mr. chaplin. they were found by the same bounty hunter, policeman mr. garter. secreted out of the residence of an esquire under the floor of the kitchen. we see time and time, the desire of our ancestors to be free. as i have said earlier, to live in dignity. but there was little dignity for men and women of african descent to hold onto in the early days of the nation's capital. we get no better visage, no better way to look at this than to look at a man who deserves to be much better known today. let me introduce senator henry wilson. he was the 18th vice president, a senator from massachusetts, and the author of
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a significant work called "the history of the rise and fall of the slave power in america." he is also the man that drafted the legislation for the emancipation in d.c. he also drafted the legislation for the collapse of the black code in the district of columbia. he deserves to be better known, but he is not taught about in our schools. even though folks who lived while he was alive, and he died in the united states capitol building still fighting, he was a man who was born under grinding poverty. this was not his given name. his father offered to rename him to honor a rich patron. he seemed to have a natural affinity to the poor and
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suffering and the dispossessed. he writes that it is critical that we understand how d.c. could be so important to the slave trade. among the early victories of the slave power was the location of the national capital on the banks of the potomac. the government was located here and placed under the special jurisdiction of congress. it committed the nation to the maintenance of slavery giving it prestige it could never have gained as a state institution. it is necessary we understand that unlike some folks who would sing the song that it was not a big deal in the nation's capital, they would find themselves horribly wrong. this is called washington in embryo. the geometric patterns and
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shapes remind us that the original land owners of what would come to be the heart of the district of columbia were slave owners. 22 of the names on here were men who were dependent on the uncompensated labor of people of african descent. we will only talk about three people. two names are on here, and the first is notley young. if you have ever been down by the wharf to grab a few crabs or some fish, then you have been down to the land that in the 1790's, he was the district's largest original slave owner. in the 1790's, he had more than 200 enslaved people and his land laid right on the wharf. if you find yourself at captain jesse white's boat and you turned around and you got a basket full of wriggling crabs, just turn around one more time before they haul you away, and
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look up behind you, behind what would be l'enfont plaza. the opposite way, you would be at the fountain. this hill was also the plantation house of the largest slave owner in early washington, d.c. if we move over to what is now capitol hill, this was land that was originally known as jenkins hill. this was owned by a man named daniel carroll. we will see his house in just a moment. i have been talking to people about davy byrnes.
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he struck a hard deal for his land to become part of the capital. if you have ever been to the monument, that's the land of davy byrnes. he had a dozen enslaved workers growing potatoes to tobacco down there. if you know the intersection of 17th and constitution avenue, that's right about where his house was. he could look out every day and look at the river and smile at how much money he thought he was going to make because he sold a portion of his land to become part of the nation's capital. next slide. this is the two-story house, a reconstruction, owned by notley young. this is from an old map, this is where the wharf is going to go. this is the water, the potomac.
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this is the house. this was a substantial structure. let me take you to daniel carroll's place. this is an actual picture of it. getting on the metro, get off at capitol south, and i will ask you to make a right coming out of the capitol south metro station. i want you to walk down the hill. straight ahead and on the right, you will see a brick building. that is the old restaurant. to the left, look diagonally across the street because you will see dunnington place, which was the slave house of his plantation. here in a picture taken about 1862, one of them is shown on the front porch of the house of daniel carroll. the key here is it is called dunnington place.
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the building has been knocked down a long time, but the name is still there. the next place, you are back on the subway, but we are not going too far. we are going to the eastern market metro. we are going to come out of the eastern market metro. there is only one way in and out. you come around to the back and at this point we have the southeast neighborhood library, we have the corner cvs. you are going to walk down the center. about halfway down the block you will come to the maples, william mayne duncanson's house. he bought land from daniel carroll about 1795. the thing about this particular building -- and i was lucky to find blueprints in the collection of the american
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historic building survey. this is the oldest private house on capitol hill. it goes back to about 1795. the slave quarters are still there and this particular building will also -- it is being rehabbed now. it's going to be turned into condos from about $400,000 to $1.6 million. chump change to you, but to the rest of us that cost a little bit of money. these are a list of rules enforced upon black people from an old headline. under this authority, nearly all disabilities which law and custom have fixed upon the colored people in maryland and virginia will continue in the district of columbia. a negro not a slave was required
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upon coming into washington was required to provide evidence of his freedom at city hall and give bond that he would conduct himself according to law and would pay his taxes. we could not stay out after 10:00 p.m. we could not work at any occupation that we wanted to. so many things that children take for granted today we could not do by law before the civil war. in the book, "slave trading in the old south," we get a sense of why people were using the underground railroad. in "slave trading in the old south," what was shocking to antislavery residents and members of congress and visitors from the north and abroad was the use that interstate traders used of the district as their headquarters. by 1830, washington had drawn much of the slave trade from virginia and alexandria.
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here we go. the largest firm of traders in the district continued in alexandria, but they did much business in washington through agencies. the demand for the slaves by the southwest was unprecedented that the district of columbia was called the seat and center of the slave trade in the united states. we understand that and hyperbole you may say, but we have an antislavery society that called the district the slave market of america when it issued this particular poster. next slide. the district's position as capital made it an important
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target for the slave power, as well as those who fought against slavery. here we have an early masthead of william lloyd garrison's "the liberator." and for a time, he depicted the sale of enslaved men, women, and children on his masthead. if you look to the left of "the liberator," you will see a seal of enslaved people. how do you know it is in d.c.? if you look closely, there is the capitol dome and even a flag flying from the capitol dome. that is how we know. he believed that the district should be the first citadel to fall in the struggle against slavery. it was pervasive. it was seldom hidden. let me give you an eyewitness example from a lady who used to live there. emily edson briggs from "the washington times," february 9, 1902. it was through mr. lincoln that
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my husband and i came to washington. with his kind thoughtfulness, the president offered him a position as financial clerk at the house of representatives. the day after our arrival, my husband and i went on a sightseeing tour and ultimately arrived at the spot near the present location of the peace monument. i mounted a platform to get a good view of the capital. while enjoying the splendid view, i heard the tramp of marching men coming down capitol hill and the clank of a chain as they marched. though this was previous to the civil war, there were a number of soldiers stationed in washington and i expected to see an attachment of infantry. to my surprise, i saw negro slaves under the command of an overseer armed with a long whip rounded the corner. they were hitched to a long, heavy iron chain which was stretched between each pair of men. what does this mean, i asked mr. briggs.
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we were told we were standing on the auctioneer's block. my husband helped me down. the negroes were parceled off in. and in a short while, a group of prosperous men appeared. they were buyers. i shall never forget the appearance of those unhappy slaves. the tears were coursing down their cheeks. there was that in their faces which told of their sorrow. this is dreadful, i cried to my husband. hush dear, he said, you may get me into prison. this was the sight that greeted me, a northern woman, on my arrival in washington. in case you are wondering, and i know patsy already knows where the peace monument is. the peace monument, we are talking about the statue at the
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foot of capitol hill that is still at the exact same place it was when emily edson briggs saw it just before the beginning of the civil war. it is at the foot of the capital. although it's called the peace monument, it has nothing to do it peace. it is actually a monument in honor of union sailors. i encourage you to google it. and if you have a particular interest, it is not far from the statuary group dedicated to general grant at the foot of the capital. in d.c. and other places in maryland and virginia, how to control the movement of black people, you had the support of laws. but for some odd reason, black people still kept trying to work their way around these laws. so it was that slaves were not allowed to leave the plantation to which they belonged without a written pass. should anyone venture to despite the law, they will likely be caught by the patrol and given 39 lashes. as austin stewart said in "22 years a slave" and "40 years of
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freedom," i recollect going up on sunday with my grandmother. and patrols came and looked into the cabin, and seeing my mother demanded her pass. she told them she had one, but left it in another cabin. it saved her a whipping, but we were terribly frightened. while the patrols were active on the fringes of the district, there were a number of other devices. next slide. for example, this is a belled slave collar. if you ever put a bell on your cat, it works on the same principle. if you can imagine putting a collar like this with the bells inside these pouches and this whole affair would be placed around the neck, so that if you moved it would give the sounds of bells. the slave owner would always know where you were. next slide. what about freed slaves?
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we have a certificate of emancipation -- from the time when it was part of alexandria from 1846. free blacks lived on the edge of the sword as well. from a book written by the great frederick law olmsted, he observed the following. in the newspapers in 1865, there was an account of the apprehension of 24 gentile colored men who had been found by an assembly in the evening and have been lodged in the white house. the object of the meeting appears to been benevolent. and when they were examined before a magistrate in the morning, no evidence was offered, nor does there seem to be any suspicion that they had any criminal purpose. on searching their persons it was found a bible, a printed
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constitution of the society the object of which was said to be to relieve the sick, and an institution paper to purchase the freedom of liza howard, a young woman who the owner was going to sell at $630. four others called in the papers, freemen and named johnny bennett, chester taylor, they were sent to the workhouse and remained there on paying cost to court and fines amounting in the aggregate to $111. the children don't know that we could not always get up and go anyplace we wanted to. that we could not always stay anyplace we wanted to. that we could not always work to the highest summit of our abilities. we were constrained by law. we were limited by law. we were spooned into uncomfortable circumstances by the law.
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next slide. last summer, a free black man who lived in the family of john owen of summers was arrested at washington on suspicion of being a runaway slave in pursuance of law. the notice was given in the papers that unless the owner appeared to claim him, he would be sold as a slave to pay his jail fees. a few of us called a county meeting. let me just say that of all the people that we might think of, i found this in the correspondence one of the great american authors. let me just continue for a moment. a few of us called a county meeting at which we passed some strong resolutions and requested the government to claim the release of mr. horton. this is a celebrated case of gilbert horton as a citizen of the state. mr. clinton, much to his credit,
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wrote a letter to the president claiming horton was a citizen of new york and the man was discharged. the board has released a resolution instructing the committee in district of columbia to inquire on the case. as you read, please understand that this is a situation very similar to that depicted in the movie, "12 years a slave." d.c. was a very dangerous place for black people. some of you say it still is. you must understand that the truth be said, the doors to the district of columbia did not swing on welcome hinges for black people for most of the city's existence. and we have to understand that this is correspondence from the great american author james fenimore cooper. he was involved in this because it just seemed to be so un-american that a legal citizen of another state, simply because of the color of his skin, could come down to d.c. and be hijacked. gilbert horton was one of the few.
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unfortunately, solomon northup was one of the many who lost their freedom in this town at this time in this place. abolitionists took advantage of the topography of the capital that was split by two rivers to find and fashion different ways for escape. even before, before there was a nation's capital, our ancestors desired to be free. i would like to introduce you to young lady described in a maryland newspaper from 1783. long before there is a washington, d.c. you may recognize a few of the places named here. ran away in 1783 from prince george's county near the
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woodyard. the wench had a large scar on her cheek. she had an old white lindsay petticoat and a short gown with a black stripe around the back. this is the famous darnell's chance, also in prince's county and is still in prince george's county at the historic site. she may change her name and clothes and pass for a free woman. two years ago she ran away. she hired herself as a free
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woman by the name of charity mcguiness. likewise to mr. samuel of charles county by the name of charity swan. whoever will deliver her to me shall receive four hard dollars. $8 if a further distance. but then mr. hardy is not satisfied. he has a troublesome woman he has to deal with. he adds, the same wench was sold for running away and has been very troublesome to me. she is a great liar, and he wrote, artful in passing with many idle tales in her own neighborhood, pretending to be said about my business and at the same time has run away. she has made away with several articles of my property for her own. they are too tedious to mention. i desire all manner of persons to have no manner of dealings with her nor to harbor her for one hour, except by a note from this day forward but take her and deliver her to me and they shall receive the above rewards.
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it makes you wonder why. it makes you wonder why he wanted her. she appears to be heck on wheels, to say the least. the district becomes the national capital. from this time, we have evidence of black folk to escape any way they can. the 16-year-old boy had on when a deep scar on his right cheek and over his left eye. he is purported to be lurking around the city. you will see this word a few more times. we apparently love to lurk. [laughter] whoever brings him to his subscriber will receive the above reward.
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$30 reward, ran away from his one. from his subscriber on the night of the 26th of january. a negro man named about jerry. about 21 years of age. a red cast complexion with a scar over his eye. tolerable smith. he is artful. i have little doubt that he has procured false papers and will make for haiti. this is interesting because this is the same time that the president of haiti is making overtures to black americans to come and live in haiti. he professes to belong to the african vessel methodist. he has a variety of clothes that
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cannot be well described but they are generally good and he is fond of being well-dressed. a $10 reward taken in the district. they are want at their peril. he was seen on the road between washington and baltimore. this is the washington navy yard, an image from the side of the river. it is seen as fruitful for the wild shift -- wild fish and game. the navy yard has a variety of connections to the underground railroad. we will explore some of that as we go on.
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whereas my servant calling herself, strolling about the city, you must understand that our ancestors fought back in ways large and small. and that included naming yourself. rather than doing anything, taking somebody else's name. it was an effort to regain and hold on with the strength of a lion your own humanity. sometimes she hired herself out as a free woman, asserting she has my consent to do so, neither are true. she is a short woman of yellow complexion. a very good family cook. in short, if her tongue was safely extracted she would be a
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most excellent servant. she had to spend a sword -- spent a short time. whosoever will secure in jail and otherwise, she will have a fourth of what she sells and all cash. navy yard, washington. 1821. it is interesting. some of us in this room tonight have worked at the new location of the department of transportation. in the area behind the building there is a street. now you know.
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we are still going to stay in southwest. we are not quite going anywhere, so we become that we come to the next important person in the railroad d.c. chronicle. this is the community leader in southwest, a central figure in the establishment of the st. paul church. they had to move away uptown. we come to the man who found the first african-american ymca, but who, in addition to leading the southwest community, took time to run an underground railroad operation at what is now 85 plaza. and he would sneak people down to the d.c. wharf and made sure they got on the right vessels and on their way to freedom. some of them would wind up at their sister's house in new york.
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in 1848 there was an important event in the history of the underground railroad right here in the district of columbia. a number of abolitionists and free blacks gathered to make this happen. it will be the largest mass escape attempt by water in the history of the underground railroad. it happened on the d.c. wharf. one of the most exciting episodes was the carrying of slaves by abolitionists. she was commanded by captain sayers. the next morning the pearl was gone and the family was having sunday breakfast for themselves. imagine the disappointment. they can't smell it.
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these freedom seekers were on a greater journey. they were on a crusade for freedom. 73 slaves were missing. salem overhauled the pearl at cornfield landing. the negroes were restored to their masters, some of them doubtless, were soundly whipped. the white men on the pearl, each held for trial under $23,000 bond. an abolitionist papers edited by the newspaper contains this. it's in the original source. the building was just office of the patent office, which means it was not far from what we call the verizon center. a mighty throng is 6 -- throng
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is assembled. they were committed to prison, they were pardoned by president fillmore in 1852. the pearl of fair. this is the personal memoir where he wrote about it. we don't know the exact place that they sailed from. the pearl had been carrying coal. if you can imagine more than 70 women and children getting down into the hole of the ship. nothing but freedom would satisfy their thirst. next slide. he writes about how when they were wrought -- when they were
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brought back, the rage of them -- of the mob brought them in another direction. the mob accordingly, as the night came on the off this of the national era -- -- the office of the national era -- the man that wrote this document would never recover from the time he spent in the blue jug. and he would later commit suicide. there were so many other people involved in getting the black folk together, trying to keep the news in control and out of the years of those who want to do harm.
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another was the first black man to write a white house memoir. he had been enslaved by james madison. his name was paul jennings. a must-read in order to understand the lives of black people in the early days of washington dc. two of the most famous of the pearl captains where mary and emily edmonson. we get a chance to see down to the potomac, but where the pearl depended on the win to move its sales, the slaveholder sent a steam power vessel. they wanted their black folk back, they didn't want to take any chances. they got here to cornfield harbor. they were captured and returned.
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they are going to have a unique role in the history of the underground railroad and washington dc, as well as the education of black women. the suffering and what happened to them would be commemorated in old town alexandria. this building, this area is now called edmonson plasm. -- edmonson plaza. just go to the whole foods in old town alexandria. you can go in for a snack after you take note of mary and emily edmonson and the story of a girl 1848 -- story of april 1848 and the history of the underground railroad. we have these places in d.c. that are still riddled with the history of black struggle and resistance. another such place, the second baptist church.
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you may know it off of third and mass. it is now hemmed in on three sides by buildings. anytime you're trying to access the 3rd street tunnel, look over your shoulder, but pull off to the side when you do, and you will see the second baptist church. one of the great preachers and pastors of the church was reverend sandy alexander. baptist ministers and schools, mr. alexander was called to the pastor in the second church of washington at a time when there were but two colored baptist church in the district of columbia. reverend alexander has also built four other churches, assisted in paying for them until they were all out of debt.
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ordained three persons to the work of the gospel ministry, who now have prominent churches and are doing well. in 1871 he was chosen chaplain of the senate of the district of columbia. he is responsible for the founding of churches in georgetown as well. the second baptist church, organized in 1848. we know there were a group of people that came out of second baptist that were active in the underground railroad in the district. here we enter into naming one of the strong black women. her name was lucinda bush clark. she was connected to several other people, several of whom had to leave the district because of their activities on the underground railroad.
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we believe that she actually had the mission of going around and collecting a significant amount of the more than 70 people who participated in the pearl of fair. next slide. many of the pearl of their members came out of this place. it is still there today and same place it was back then. i'm referring to the united methodist church. this was not an endeavor restricted by age. let's take a look at the description of runaway tabatha. $30 reward, run away from the subscriber of 10th street and pennsylvania avenue. a negro girl named cap with the best named tabatha but calls herself martha. -- girl named tabatha, but calls herself martha. she was going to name herself. she was going to exert a measure of control and personhood at the tender age of 10.
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this is why it is normal and natural for us to be proud of our young people. the black lives matter movement, we see young people stepping up. we did not have the luxury of always waiting for the adults to get it done. the children's have always stepped forward. we see this young lady. she is likely well formed in stature, rather about middle size. in her walk, carries herself well. she is a copper color. she was owned in alexandria by w smith. at last became the property of subscribers at an auction sale. her mother in the alexandria workhouse, she had a dark calico frock.
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it is possible she may have obtained one clandestinely. we will pay $20 for her. my man john, left home with the pretense of going to look for work. since then i haven't seen him but frequently heard he is lurking about the city. next slide. what is that famous poll on, we -- however, we lurk late, we strike straight. you into black lit already know what i am referring to. here we have another description of a black man who described -- two black men who decided to take the underground railroad to
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freedom. next slide. this is a rare poster, a large poster of a group of black folk leaving d.c. and successfully getting away on the underground railroad. next slide. what about the people whose jobs it was to stop? they taxed slave selling establishments. let's say people of a certain mindset got into the business of returning black folks. here we have a police notice. office open from 7 a.m. to midnight. the undersigned officers of the regular authorized police department of the city have located themselves in an office occupied by the justice and will give prompt an immediate attention to all business entrusted to them. we can understand civil business, we can understand criminal business, but they also
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decided to add in runaway slaves. owners of runaway slaves in the district, giving us early information of the same. the efforts were unusual. facilities for detection, whatever that might mean. josh, i leave that to you. unusual facilities for detection will be given to their arrest. john davis, late chief of police. these men had come in -- the relationship between black folk and the police have origins that many would believe go back not that long -- go back.
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not that long ago i was telling my wife i had run across the cased of reuben foster. 1895, a young black man on the far end of berry farm, thick look at the executor of the case. -- take a look at the executor of the case. we will come back to that last line shortly. this is a long bridge. the long bridge, which is approximately where the 14th street bridge to is -- street bridges today was the connector between virginia and the district of columbia. the family stepped in and block the provision of the will.
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you have to understand, our existence. we were worth money. we did not actually have to be laboring in the field. we were rest money just existing. the kids talk about driving while black. it is perilous to breathe well black and it was perilous than. take a look at the executor of the case. we will come back to that shortly. this is a long bridge. the long bridge, which is approximately where the 14th street bridge to is -- street bridges today was the connector between virginia and the district of columbia. it was built at about 1809 and authorized in 1809.
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in 1808 they first disgusted. -- they first discussed it. what we know is this particular bridge side's own measure of sorrow, as well as joy. for it was in the 1840's that the united states congressman saw a black woman run across this bridge, trying to evade slaveholders, in which she found out that she could not she jumped over the side of the long bridge. you have to understand this is where the 14th street bridges today.
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they are about 1000 yards down. we also have a story of joy about a young black man named rufus walton, who apparently traveling from georgia over a period of months came across this bridge to freedom at the beginning of the civil war. his mission was to see lincoln. as it turns out, next slide -- the book is called "the ambitious slave." after a series of adventures the runaway reached boston. then he took up residence in washington, became a man of influence among his people. in the middle of that he got wind of the lincoln etc. -- the lincoln assassination. as the description said, the story is evidently written by an unpracticed hand that has a record of fact rather than a creation of fancy.
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the long bridge. for those of you who know where the african-american civil war memorial is, diagonally across the street is the former site of the black fashion museum. and the structure that was there before the museum may have well been a site on the underground railroad. next slide. arrival from washington. george carol randolf branson, these four did not leave the same kind of protectors. the reasons may have varied. at the conditions that have caused them to leave may have changed. the thing that brings them all together is the desire to work out their own destiny.
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for more than 135 years of this church has been a bedrock in the african-american community. it is the 19th street baptist church. when that part of foggy bottom was predominantly african-american. it is a reminder to us that one of its members was one of the most efficient members of the local underground railroad. leonard a grimes. the thing about brother grimes, he would be drawn into the ministry. he would have to go to boston because of underground railroad work in the district. he would be imprisoned. he would never forget being locked up in richmond. he was born outside the city. he was the one occupation in the district that gave black folk a measure of mobility. we couldn't do a lot of other things by law, but they let us drive. for you younger folk when you
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wonder how to that get to be, it is because the principal type of four wheel carriage was called a hackney coach. you became a hack driver. at the corner of 22nd and h, george washington university recently put this plaque at the site of the home of leonard a grimes. it talks about his life in the neighborhood and the fact that
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he was active on the underground railroad. just between me and you, should you happen to have time to go to 22nd and h, take a step a little bit deeper into that little grove and you will see an extraordinary statue. it is a statue of a black russian, and afro russian. it is one of the few statues in this city that reminds us that black people were not sealed in africa waiting for the slave shifts -- slave ships, that we have an international history and presence. albert bolden, a well-known baptist minister, he was funeral -- he would be on the edge of noma. he was an extraordinary figure. when he first came to d.c. the settled in the neighborhood of fourth and l streets. shortly after he came here he commenced preaching. he was an exceedingly zealous minister and during his life he was instrumental in the establishment of 33 churches in this section of the country.
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again, albert bolden, albert bolden who began public services in 1857 was a prominent influence in the organization of the third baptist church. in 1863 they secured a lot in which people began to erect their meeting house. this is where reverend bolden enters history. it is probably not like this in your church. when money appears there tends to be a lack of harm. and the reverend bolden and the congregation fell out. i don't know anything about this. it went all the way up to the supreme court. and it helped to establish law with respect to the state and
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the church. reverend alvin -- reverend albert bolden. nothing like that would happen in our church, right? a negro woman, black, middle height, has been missing for several days. skulking about georgetown. if we ain't lurking we are skulking. she was bought of mrs. french toss estate. -- french's estate. i will leave the irony and all of that to you. she was owned by thomas ewell, a physician who lived in lafayette square. these are other examples.
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this is a reward poster for a black man named daniel brown. he is described as 23 years of age, 5'9". he was purchased about a year ago for mr. kirby, of prince george's county maryland. he was employed as a laborer at the capital. he had black pantaloons. here we go, it is probable that daniel, as he has some free relations in the city, may have procured a set of the papers in which he passes himself off as a free man. we did work together to make this happen. the success of the underground railroad had black folk as its base but also had progressive and brave white men and women who were part of it. and many of these progressive white men and women would pay a price.
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in the superheated atmosphere of peopleion's capital, would come here. he was charged with publishing incendiary papers with the intent of exciting black folk. this wednesday's way through the court. , there wastime action. , my head servant. confidence, frequently being left in charge of my house . on wednesday, june 10, less what -- left washington. to me bmi plantation and king
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george county virginia since which time i have heard neither of him nor the horse. as i can no longer doubt that he i offer $300 for the restoration of john and the horse. he is near 40 years of age, well-dressed, and nearly black. they were among the richest families. they owned the race track on the far side of the white house. his father had bought a tract of farmland in the upper northwest and he decided to call it had worth.
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now i showed this slide during a ,resentation at the d.c. armory and a descendent of john carter was in the audience. the brother could not believe i have proof of a story that had been in the family for a generation. it was my pleasure to give it to him. he gave me the rest of that story. he said that additional reward will be given showed that the be brought from pennsylvania or ohio. they went up to montgomery county and stayed there until the civil war, and his descendents live in montgomery county in the district even today. they were among the richest
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families. probably the largest slaveholders and the state of alabama. they had money coming and going. this document is the only known pardon of a black man convicted of assisting slaves to escape. .t was signed in washington noah c hansen was convicted of harboring slaves and sentenced to pay a fine of $180. know how this presidential pardon occurred. we have no idea. he had worked with the abolitionists some two months after signing the kansas the rest act that opened the
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northern territory to slavery. reported thatlass he was no sooner let out of jail then he sneaks into my house. a more grateful creature i never saw. perhaps this is what made him -- them pardon him. one of the places they had to meet, if you are going to make that threat you had to meet in out-of-the-way places. some believe that one set of out-of-the-way places, and here we have quite a few such as mount zion. harmony ceremony, maybe not so much. oft is the former site columbia harmony sarah -- cemetery.
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this one does not count. the union baptist cemetery on dates back tod that time. it is probably the least known african american term -- cemetery in the district. these are some of the places. us that ebenezer baptist church on capitol hill may have been a place involved in the underground railroad, certainly it dates back to that particular. . tradition also says that there were recruits that came from the church to serve in the district. this is the reverend john f cook from the 15th street press the syrian church. it was also involved in the underground railroad. in those days it was between 15 street and h.
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woman emerges from traditions and stories about the underground railroad. in this case, connected to the 15th street presbyterian church. savoy.e was elizabeth she was married to a well-known caterer. he had a national reputation. he had handled steak dinners at the white house for every president from you canada -- buchanan to hayes. restaurant had a called the osborne cafe. georgetown. we know about bonsai and -- mount psion and we know that there were black folk who hid out in the burial vault at the
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mount zion cemetery. but we also have other descriptions of backstroke escaping from georgetown. we have the story of runaways living in georgetown, district of columbia. or we have tom, a black man from georgetown. but the one i want to share with you is sam. $150 reward. absconded from georgetown. about 25 years old. black, oval face. a very good blacksmith and will probably endeavor to hire as a free man. he is well-known. july 5 and was apprehended at mccoy's between d.c. and baltimore.
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he was seen again and taken at the ferry between baltimore and susquehanna. i will give $100 if he is lodged can putail or $150 if i him in jail at the city of washington. he owned land from the potomac river to nebraska avenue, to give you an example. props. got to give sam this brother just would not stop. i would love to see a movie about sam and how he was able to get away. even when he made it to pennsylvania, when he made it to the edge of pennsylvania, one of the river crossings was here.
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there was a covered ridge. in thehunters invested side of the bridge. they did not care. a number of famous people connected to the sea. one member of lincoln's storied team. this is the secretary of state. we only talk about him because he bought alaska, but we know he was involved in working on the underground railroad. and with no less a person than the great hotel yet -- hotel hotelier. then comes the civil war. the nation fractures. thatocal newspapers report
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the nation is at war. i attack on fort sumter. folk immediately begin moving off of their places of confinement and on their way to freedom. this is the 7th street road. this would become a major artery of freedom. the city would be protected by more than 64th. you would find that many of them became places of refuge. this is a map with many of the places. this is fort bunker hill. it was a place that last focus built. they would move to the edge of the ford unger help.
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within a few years this tiny church would be known as read temple. thisnating connections to area. people at fortk stevens. we often hear about lincoln. we might even hear about at forth thomas stevens. let me assure you there were plenty of black folks at fort stevens. the skirmishing would continue. reachbels endeavoring to a field. several shells were thrown. they no doubt desired to throw rifles, they worked to throw
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up rifle pets. there were enough people to build rifle pits. the battle of fort stevens. men. black the stevens, one of officers writes about a black man coming in. waiter. negro for a we found that he was supplying but hediers with liquor has learned better and is above average. hisn't want you to mistake entrepreneurial enthusiasm. we think he wanted to finance his time as a free man. he was later joined with the regiment.
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at cap brightwood that was also another place where freedom seeking black folk assembled. if you have ever been to the corner of georgia and missouri you will know that there is a high hill there. we believe that was the site of cap brightwood. here is a letter. he writes there were nine contraband. they ran away. i don't know whether anyone will come after them or not, but if they do nobody in this regiment will make it their business is on the back. the soldiers home. black folk were up there. slave wouldrunaway go on to live at camp barker. born enslaved in prince george county, maryland.
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this was a conduit of liberty. this is how it looked the night john wilkes booth wrote across it. black folk were coming across the 11th street bridge. this is a guard on the bridge. he seemed to feel confident that he was among friends for he made no concealment of his character and are just. lock 60he wants -- miles. we can't get our young folk to walk across the street. and then there is a emancipation. april 16, 1862. it was a day that should live on in history. ofis the only instance emancipation in our country. seen on thef it was negroes outside of the district
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five days before the passage of the bill. they are running away in numbers making their way to the city of washington, having gotten the idea that they will be free. it is reported that the 100 and 200 slaves across the eastern branch bridge every week. again, if it was not for the work of these people we would not know what we know about this. emancipationf d.c. a small number of african-americans also got paid. they manipulated the system is such a way as to buy and hold all of the family members so that he could not be separated from them. and in the process he got nearly $5,000. if we move out to the northeast that fort dupont,
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fort chaplin, these are all places where black folks came to work. if anybody here has been to benning minnesota that was the location of a civil war fort. it was built in the shape with nine sides. 350 yards. -- the fortord there was camp franklin, which more than likely provided other work for freedom's leaking -- freedom seeking black folk. the road was fortified during become but it would also a conduit of freedom.
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1861, runaway 8, negroes. they were captured at running bridge. you get the idea. they had pride in this. i'm almost done, a few things we need to hit. this is the river, this is the bridge. there is one name in here the you're going to see repeated a couple of times. of course i am referring to levi sheriff. yes the same sheriff. he has nothing to do with these law enforcement officers. it has to do with him and the ,act that his family owned land they bought it from a descendent of captain william benning. look at this.
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people of enslaved coming out of the county are ining toward the district 1863. they were stopped near a field. they are fired on by the patrol. it to the fort. it stood on this triangle of .and where benning road there is still a triangle of land there today. we should take our children to these places. i can'tnterest of time
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spend too much, but his name was charles. he was born and grew up near culpeper courthouse. more than 70 miles away. he was enslaved. married.a lady he they had their first child. he escaped. his wife came to d.c., she got her freedom. she tried to collect money. it was not enough. his master with his half-brother. they wanted $2200. the thing here is that he gets to troy, new york, and black folk and some whites rescue him twice. we believe that part of that rescue party and troy, new york, there was a young lady named
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harriet tubman who was part of it. but the amazing thing to me is that you go to 50th and see -- 50th and c there is a school after his oldest son. here.e a teacher you are going to tell this story at some point. that's all i wanted. tradition, charles all ofold his son about the difficulties he faced as he escaped on the underground railroad, his rescue. he never knew. it's take a look at some other folks. benjamin fletcher, no relation. their leader was george solomon. on saturday night they walked
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out of the city and got so far away before they were missed that they were never overtaken. they tramped the whole distance to harrisburg, pennsylvania, where they were safely conveyed to canada. neil's master offered $400 reward for him but he discreetly remained in canada. how do we know so much about the stucco we have some slave narratives, some collections of stories. one of the places that you can consult -- it has been put on the library of congress website, the great underground railroad record compiled by william still. you go to the library of congress website, you will see descriptions like this. name, where me the they came from, all kinds of things. we have the narratives. thomas small was a black man
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from prince george's county. he is by turns angry and inspired. frustrated at how teamsters want big money. how he is often betrayed by other black folks. it is something that i believe he also leaves the area as well. what we believed in it that the underground railroad as a district -- and the district was part of a web of trails to the north. some people consider the district a southern terminus of one leg of the underground railroad. how the underground trains were dispatched. for those interested, they wrote letters to the philadelphia office in which they wrote how they shipped to, 3, 10 packages.
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they were active in many cases of colored people escaping not only from the city but from virginia. one of the agents always wrote & hisding somebody ham communications ham and eggs. there were some quakers in alexandria who were active in the underground railroad. but i will close with an observation by frederick douglass. man can tell the intense agony which was held by the slave when making his escape. ,ll that he has is that escape all that he has is that stake,
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even all that he does not have is at stake. the life which he has maybe lost in the liberty that he seeks may not be gained. but we salute those who, in success and in failure, made the attempt to make their lives better. as harriet tubman would say, to seek freedom between the cause of the lion -- the clause -- claws of the lion. to watch over us today as we need the challenges of our own time and as we look back with pride on these heroes and heroines of the underground railroad in the district of columbia. thank you. [applause] >> we have just a couple of minutes for questions if any of you have them.
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i'm going to take a moment to remind you again, we have one more presentation of the d.c. summer reading program, which is thursday, august 27. a fascinating look at woodson. also we have this series coming up and the woodridge interim library on douglas street, northeast. yes ma'am. >> i like your presentation. i noticed that many of the runaways had a scar over their eyes. what was that about? >> it was a vicious and brutal system. thatber, people forget they had been struck by a wet. -- they had been struck by a wet
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-- whip. theyay wonder sometimes have clothes or they had a change of clothes. this is a desperate strategy by distant -- by the slaveholders. when they went away they were not unhappy. called the disease of running away. the insidious thing about this tothat it is an attempt steal agency from black folks. as if we had not the ability to recognize liberty from oppression and choose liberty. that was the insidious thing about it. they also said that we suffered .rom another dysfunction tools orntly roped the
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tried to poison master's buttermilk or put ground glass in his bourbon. these were acts of resistance. this is a familiar thread in the fabric of our system. it is something that we cannot wait for the school system to teach. remember, but i have given you today is just a mere taste. there is more than likely something similar in your own family. yes ma'am. churchesdicated that provided refuge. what prevented he patrols from going into the charges? -- from going into the charges -- churches? >> we did have a problem. the police would do it. the churches did their best to act like they were not helping anybody. we have a couple of great stories from d.c. and annapolis
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where the ministers were so subservient, so accommodating, so welcoming to the authorities. of course the authorities never found a thing. they were being played. i will give you an example. thanks to the gradual abolition act of pennsylvania you could spend six months in the state and then you would be free. of all people, george washington decided he did not want his black folks to be free so he was going to rotate them out right before the deadline. then he heard that his favorite cook, hercules, was planning to run away. hecalled hercules and assured him that freedom was not on his mind at all. don't worry about it. you can always count on me. .ou and i go back a ways
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and then of course within a few months he was gone. think we have an image of hercules in a chef's hat found in a building in spain. he did not just stop in canada, he went a lot farther than that. yes. dupont, is that one of forts that freedom travelers went to? >> yes. there was an african community under the guns of fort dupont. yes ma'am. >> can you elaborate on some of the circumstances that allowed for one to gain passage on the underground railroad? was a just luck at times? what allowed for someone to be able to go? >> you had to let the folk --
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appropriate people know and you had to do it in a way so as not inform on the people who did not want you to go anywhere. this iswhy we think -- why we salute the bravery of people like lucinda clark bush who had to go around and collect a lot of the people because you could not confide in everyone. we have stories were family members turned family members and. had those of the sentiments, that was the person you gradually let know what was going on and we see the best example in cases of the perl but you have to be careful at all times because they were bounty hunters and informers everywhere. for years in the district, there was a black man up until the 1930's was a black bounty hunter and in former and they told us the black folks could not stand,
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even down to the 1930's so you had to be extremely careful and know the right people. often times, that might be a leader in the community in the southwest underground and spoken in soft tones and that would have been anthony bowen. like i said, he would send you to his sister or another place up north. you have to be careful. yes? i thought i thought i saw someone else's hand. in that case, i think you all a driverive and -- a safe and a dry one in case it is still raining. thank you, all. [applause] [indiscernible] [indiscernible] you are watching american
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