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date: 26 February 2020

Hayden, Lewislocked

(1811–07 April 1889)
  • Roy E. Finkenbine


Hayden, Lewis (1811–07 April 1889), abolitionist, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of slave parents whose names are not known. Separated from his family by the slave trade at age ten, he was eventually owned by five different masters. The first, a Presbyterian clergyman, traded him for a pair of horses. The second, a clock peddler, took Hayden along on his travels throughout the state, exposing him to the variety of forms that the “peculiar institution” could take. About 1830 he married Harriet Bell, also a slave. They had three children; one died in infancy, another was sold away, and a third remained with the couple. Hayden’s third owner, in the early 1840s, whipped him often. These experiences stirred his passionate personal hatred for bondage. Hayden secretly learned to read and write, using the Bible and old newspapers as study materials. By 1842, when he belonged to Thomas Grant and Lewis Baxter of Lexington, he began to contemplate an escape. Because his last owners hired him out to work in a local hotel, he had greater freedom than most slaves, which made it easier to flee. In September 1844 Lewis, Harriet, and their remaining son were spirited away to Ohio and then on to Canada West (now Ontario), by local teachers and Underground Railroad agents Calvin Fairbanks and Delia Webster....

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