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Andrew, John Albion (31 May 1818–30 October 1867), reformer, antislavery advocate, and Civil War governor of Massachusetts, was born in Windham, Maine, the son of Jonathan Andrew, a farmer and general store owner, and Nancy Green Pierce, a schoolteacher. Educated at private academies and then at Bowdoin College, from which he graduated in 1837, Andrews learned early about the evils of slavery and the religious necessity to oppose it. One of his contemporaries at Bowdoin was ...

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Bird, Francis William (22 October 1809–23 May 1894), radical reformer and antislavery politician, was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, the son of George Bird, a paper mill superintendent, and Martha C. Newell. Bird graduated from Brown College in 1831. He took an active interest in the welfare of his hometown of East Walpole, Massachusetts, where he continued the family paper manufacturing business. Bird lost his first wife and infant daughter to illness after one year of marriage. He married Abby Frances Newell in 1843; they had at least two children....

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Frederick Douglass Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-19288).

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Douglass, Frederick ( February 1818–20 February 1895), abolitionist, civil rights activist, and reform journalist, was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey near Easton, Maryland, the son of Harriet Bailey, a slave, and an unidentified white man. Although a slave, he spent the first six years of his life in the cabin of his maternal grandparents, with only a few stolen nighttime visits by his mother. His real introduction to bondage came in 1824, when he was brought to the nearby wheat plantation of Colonel ...

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Downing, George Thomas (30 December 1819–21 July 1903), abolitionist, businessman, and civil rights advocate, was born in New York City, the son of Thomas Downing, a restaurant owner, and Rebecca West. His father’s Oyster House was a gathering place for New York’s aristocracy and politicians. Young Downing attended Charles Smith’s school on Orange Street and, with future black abolitionists ...

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Ford, Barney Launcelot (1822–14 December 1902), conductor on the Underground Railroad, Negro suffrage lobbyist, and real estate baron, was born in Stafford County, Virginia, the son of a Mr. Darington (given name unknown), a slaveholder and plantation owner, and Phoebe (surname unknown), one of Darington’s slaves. Given simply the name “Barney” at birth, he adopted the name Barney Launcelot Ford as an adult to please his soon-to-be wife and to provide himself with a “complete” name....

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Griffing, Josephine Sophia White (18 December 1814–18 February 1872), abolitionist, women's rights activist, and freedmen's aid reformer, abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and freedmen’s aid reformer, was born in Hebron, Connecticut, the daughter of Joseph White and Sophia Waldo, farmers. Both parents were from prominent New England families. Though not much is known of Josephine’s childhood and education, she embarked on a life of public activism after her marriage in 1835 to Charles Stockman Spooner Griffing....

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Malvin, John (1795–30 July 1880), abolitionist and political leader, was born in Dumfries, Prince William County, Virginia, the son of a slave father (name unknown) and a free Negro mother, Dalcus Malvin. By virtue of his mother’s status Malvin was born free. As a boy, he was apprenticed as a servant to a clerk of his father’s master; he later learned carpentry from his father. An elderly slave taught him to read, using the Bible as his primary text. Malvin became a Baptist preacher and later, after moving to Cincinnati, was licensed as a minister, although he never held a permanent position in a church....

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Remond, Charles Lenox (01 February 1810–22 December 1873), abolitionist and civil rights orator, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of John Remond and Nancy Lenox, prominent members of the African-American community of that town. His father, a native of Curaçao, was a successful hairdresser, caterer, and merchant. Charles attended Salem’s free African school for a time and was instructed by a private tutor in the Remond household. His parents exposed him to antislavery ideas, and abolitionists were frequent guests in their home. He crossed the paths of a number of fugitive slaves while growing up and by the age of seventeen considered himself an abolitionist. He had also developed considerable oratorical talent....