Stories from PA History
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The Struggle Against Slavery: The Abolition Movement and Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania
From the first protest against slavery in 1688 until the end of slavery in 1865, Pennsylvania's abolitionists and Underground Railroad conductors played a key role in the heroic struggle for freedom.

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Overview: William Still and the Underground Railroad
Chapter One: The Fight Against Slavery
Chapter Two: Organizing Escape Networks
Chapter Three: Helping Runaways
Chapter Four: Coming of War

Historical Markers In the Story
marker icon African Zoar Methodist Episcopal Church (Philadelphia) marker icon Mason-Dixon Line (York)
marker icon Robert Purvis (Philadelphia) marker icon Stephen Smith (Philadelphia)
marker icon The Johnson House (Philadelphia) marker icon Thomas Garrett (Delaware)
marker icon William Still (Philadelphia) marker icon William Whipper (Philadelphia)

Lesson Plans for this Story
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Story Bibliography

Original Documents
icon full text First Protest Against Slavery, Germantown, PA, 1688.
icon full text Preamble (1778) and Articles of the Free African Society, 1787.
icon full text Memorial of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society to the First Federal Congress, 1790.

1688 North America's first antislavery protest at Germantown, Pennsylvania
1780 Pennsylvania adopts the nation's first gradual abolition law
1787 Pennsylvania Abolition Society reorganizes again, electing Benjamin Franklin as its president
1787 Free African Society is founded by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones
1794 Richard Allen establishes "Mother" Bethel A.M.E. Church, the first congregation of the African Methodist Episcopal faith
1833 Lucretia Mott helps create the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society
1837 Philadelphia Vigilance Committee begins its Underground Railroad operations, meeting initially at the African Zoar Methodist Church
1838 Pennsylvania Hall, a meeting place for abolitionists, is burned to the ground
1839 Robert Purvis becomes head of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee
1840 Dr. Francis J. LeMoyne, an abolitionist from Washington, Pennsylvania, is nominated as the Liberty Party candidate for Vice President
1842 James Forten, one of America's richest and most powerful African-Americans, dies in Philadelphia
1850 U.S. adopts tougher federal fugitive slave law as part of the Compromise of 1850
1851 Maryland slaveholder Edward Gorsuch dies while attempting to recapture his runaway slaves in Christiana, Pennsylvania. Treason trials for the accused end without any convictions
1852 Philadelphia Vigilance Committee elects new leadership and creates a new Acting Committee headed by William Still to promote more aggressive Underground Railroad activities
1857 Lucretia and James Mott move to their new home, "Roadside," in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
1858 John Brown plans his raid on Harpers Ferry in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He tries but fails to convince Frederick Douglass to join the campaign. The raid ends in Brown's capture and execution, but succeeds in publicizing his beliefs
1860 Republican Party victory in the presidential election leads to southern secession, Civil War, and eventually the destruction of American slavery
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