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Well-Intentioned White Abolitionists Men Ran the Show: #UGRRMyth

The Underground Railroad is an amazing story with people coming together to fight for one basic American right: freedom. Unfortunately, over the years, the idea of the Underground Railroad has become romantic and surrounded by myths. It makes it next to impossible for historians to weed through everything, let alone the the average American citizen.

<p>Leading up to our annual Underground Railroad Experience, we are putting some of those myths to rest. Check in each week to read about a widely spread myth and the truth behind it.

<p>And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Underground Railroad Experience on Saturday, June 25th. Check out our website for more information or call Spring Hill Historic Home at 330-833-6749. Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1st.

<p>—–

<p>Our unofficial slogan here at Spring Hill is that we are teaching a shared history (our director is constantly saying this). The Underground Railroad is perhaps one of the first, if not the first interracial movement in the United States.

<p>One of the dangers of places like Spring Hill is the amount of time spent on Station Masters like Thomas and Charity Rotch. To many people, the Underground Railroad is a movement where white abolitionists, especially Quakers, help freedom seeking blacks. Despite Harriet Tubman being the face of the Underground Railroad, this myth persists.

<p>Instead, the early abolitionist movement has blacks and whites working together to end the institution that they hate. It isn’t until after the first quarter of the 1800s that blacks and whites are forming separate abolitionist societies. Even then, there are still many interracial organizations.

<p>While Quakers were very important in the formation of the abolitionist movement, they are not the only religion supporting the end of slavery. Presbyterians, Universalists, and Congregationalists were all supporters of the abolitionist movement here in the United States. These denominations were very welcoming of black members and churches (for example, the African American church in Colonial Williamsburg is a Presbyterian Church).

<p>While men and women like the Grimke Sisters, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe were leaders of the abolitionist movement, there were also many black leaders of the movement. Levi Coffin, Sojourner Truth, William Still, and Harriet Tubman led the abolitionist movement, often in tandem with white abolitionists. These men and women could not have ended slavery without coming together.

<p>William Still himself sheltered almost 650 runaways in his Philadelphia home, including his own brother! This was doubly dangerous for Still, being the son of runaways himself. He could have easily been captured and ended up like his friend Samuel Burris, who was sold into slavery. Thankfully, Still and other members of their abolitionist group raised money, and a white member purchased Burris at auction in Delaware, giving him back his freedom.

<p>The abolitionist movement is not only an interracial movement, but also the first movement where women are taking leadership roles. The Grimke Sisters, Sojourner Truth, and Maria W. Stewart were all women, of various races, who stood up and spoke out against slavery. Women were hosting fundraisers by selling quilts, baked goods, and various other things to fund the abolitionist societies of which they were members.

<p>It is through the abolitionist movement that women and  blacks start to show their leadership capabilities. Out of the abolitionist movement comes the women’s rights movement, with leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott being staunch abolitionists, and Fredrick Douglas attended the Seneca Falls Convention to speak in favor of women’s rights.

<p>It’s important to remember that the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad couldn’t have happened without a shared support of one another. Men and women, whites and blacks, and various classes all risked a lot for this movement, and all provided different backgrounds and understandings needed to make this movement a success.

Underground Railroad in the South: #UGRRMyth

The Underground Railroad is an amazing story with people coming together to fight for one basic American right: freedom. Unfortunately, over the years, the idea of the Underground Railroad has become romantic and surrounded by myths. It makes it next to impossible for historians to weed through everything, let alone the the average American citizen.

Leading up to our annual Underground Railroad Experience, we are putting some of those myths to rest. Check in each week to read about a widely spread myth and the truth behind it.

And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Underground Railroad Experience on Saturday, June 25th. Check out our website for more information or call Spring Hill Historic Home at 330-833-6749 for more information. Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1st.

——

The Underground Railroad is well known in Ohio, with our strong connections to the abolitionist movement. However, many people believe that there were lots of abolitionists in the south, opening their homes on the Underground Railroad. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.

This is not to say that there were no abolitionists living in the South. The Grimke Sisters are quite famous for their abolitionist stance after growing up the daughters of slave owners. However, there is a reason the North is called the Free States.

Most runaways would be on their own until they reached a free state. This is especially true for many runaways who might have been well-known to others in their community. Until they passed the Mason-Dixon line, many would primarily be relying on their own wits, intelligence, and bravery.

Closer to the Mason-Dixon line and the Ohio River, there were more abolitionists and conductors available for runaways brave enough to approach and trust them. Men like Samuel Burris would cross from free states over to help freedom seekers make that dangerous leap of faith. Many states like Delaware, Maryland, and Kentucky, and Washington D.C. had quite a few Underground Railroad Stations, despite being places where slavery was legal.

Even looking at the National Parks’ Network to Freedom website, most of the Southern sites that have members are programs, research sites, and sites for the Civil War or places slaves used as starting points for their journey. It is harder to prove Southern sites because of the lack of documentation. In slave holding states, it was even more dangerous for Station Masters and Conductors to do their work, with many conductors being caught and punished with jail time, fines, being sold into slavery, or even being killed by angry mobs (the later, obviously, outside of the judicial system).

However, there are some sites in the South that were involved with the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. In the mid 1800s, Louisiana becomes synonymous with the slave trade, but before that, with France abolishing slavery in 1794, Louisiana could be a safe haven for slaves. This is reversed, only 9 years later, when Louisiana became part of the young United States in 1803.

Florida also became a place of safety for runaway slaves. The everglades in southern Florida welcomed slaves who were brave enough to face the dangers. That included the Seminole Indians, who lived there and were happy to welcome the men and women searching for freedom into their communities. The Seminoles were not the only tribe to do this, with many other tribes opening their arms widely to freedom seekers moving south or west instead of north.

Overall, the amount of work being done in the south is greatly outnumbered by change taking place in the north. At last check, Ohio and New York are neck and neck for hosting the most proven Underground Railroad Stations. Progressives living in the north, especially those in anti-slavery communities, had a support system around them that they could rely on that many in the south would not have seen. This includes laws protecting them, and members of the judicial system and law enforcement with similar ideals, willing to look the other way.

So do not believe the stories of slaves in Georgia, or Mississippi being aided by kind souls in the southern states. The reality is, the runaways who made it to that first station had often traveled on their own, using all of their courage and ingenuity to make it even that far.

Women’s History

While at Ohio University, I had a professor who admitted that when she chose to study Women’s History, she was asked “Well, what is there to study?” In the 1980s, it was still common belief that women just didn’t do anything and besides the occasional woman (Elizabeth I, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt), they just stayed at home. And who would want to study that?

Unrecorded, women did amazing work to bring our country to where it is today. Not only were they mothers and wives, but they were midwives (the only doctors for quite some time), activists, soldiers, business owners, pirates, nobility, peasants, slaves, religious leaders, teachers, and fundraisers. Did you know that a lot of the American Revolution and the Civil War wasn’t funded by the US Government? Instead, women raised funds or made clothes or food desperately needed for the soldiers.

Women show up in the most unusual places, where we normally wouldn’t expect them to be. Perhaps that’s because we need to shift our beliefs on what women were actually doing throughout our history.

I am currently reading some work on Mary Rodman, Charity Rotch’s mother. I became interested in Mary when a guest asked me: “How did Mary raise seven children without a husband?” Mary’s husband died when his ship sunk, Charity, the youngest, was only  6 weeks old, and Samuel, the oldest, was 13 years old. So, how did Mary do it? Looking into the records, it’s been discovered that Mary ran her own business. In fact, she continued to own one of her husband’s ships after his death, and most likely would have ran the business while her husband was at sea, like most ship Captain’s wives. Mary raised seven intelligent children who were not only able to marry well (six daughters who needed married!), but also able to take care of themselves (two of those daughters never married).

What do you know about women’s history? According to a 2015 survey from the National Women’s History Museum, “fewer than 1 in 4 Americans consider themselves knowledgeable about notable women and their accomplishments.”

I would like to challenge you to see how much you know about Women’s History. Below I have attached four quizzes from the National Women’s History Museum on various Women’s History topics. I have also attached a short list of women from American history. Do you know who they are?

Women’s Suffrage Quiz

Women’s Revolutionary War Quiz

Women’s Achievement Quiz

Women’s History Quiz

Women from American History

Ida B. Wells

Sybil Ludington

Alice Walker

Sarah and Angelina Grimke

Mary Church Terrell

Alice Paul

Mary Tape

Victoria Woodhull

Patsy Takemoto Mink

Zitkala-Sa

How many of these women did you know? And are you questioning whether you really know as much about Women’s History as you thought?

Want to learn more? The National Women’s History Museum has a great set of Online Exhibits and Online Biographies that can get you started to find your next book!

February E-Newsletter

Grey Spring Hill

Spring Hill Historic Home
February 2016
1401 Springhill Lane NE Massillon, Ohio 44646
330-833-6749                          @TomytheSheep
www.springhillhistorichome.org        www.facebook.com/springhillhh

Would you like to receive our free e-newsletter?
Email us here at info@springhillhistorichome.org

Monthly E-Newsletter

Welcome to Spring Hill Historic Home’s Monthly E-Newsletter. This is a complimentary monthly update on what is currently happening at Spring Hill, including events, the collection, volunteer opportunities, and many other nuggets of information.

Calling All Storytellers, Actors & Educators!

Are you interested in sharing Spring Hill’s history with the public and future generations?Then we need you!
On February 4th at 2:00pm, Spring Hill will be having our first docent meeting of the year. We are expanding our tour options, including providing self-guided tours. However, all of our tours still need to be manned by informed volunteers. We are in desperate need for enthusiastic and passionate volunteers so we can stay open throughout the summer.
If you are interested in helping with any of our tours, but aren’t sure where you fit in, come to the meeting! We’ll be discussing various forms of self-guided tours, touch tours, my-favorite-things tours, and 1st-Person (in character) tours. This gives our docents a say in what is going on, and the introduction of tours to new docents before we start training!
Contact the office if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 330-833-6749 ordirector@springhillhistorichome.org.

Pasta Dinner & Basket Raffle/Silent Auction

We’re revving up for our annual Pasta Dinner fundraiser! Come out to Santangelo’s Party Center on Thursday, March 10th for a night of good food, great prizes, and lots of friends.
If you’d like to volunteer or donate for our raffle, please contact the office at 330-833-6749 or at director@springhillhistorichome.org.

Members’ Annual Meeting

On February 18th, Spring Hill Historic Home is hosting our Annual Meeting. This is an open meeting for all Spring Hill members to update the membership about the organization and our plans for the future.
Only members can attend this meeting and if you have not received your reminder, you will soon!
If you’re interested in becoming a member of Spring Hill and supporting us, check out ourwebsite for more information.

Upcoming Events

Docent Meeting and Intro to In-Progress Tours
February 4th 2:00pm
Spring Hill

Annual Meeting
February 18th 4:00pm
Spring Hill

Patriot’s Rally
February 20th All Day
N. Philly Mall

Ohio Regimental Military Ball & Conference
February 20th All Day
McKinley Grand

Pasta Dinner and Raffle 
March 10th 4:30-7:30pm
Santangelo’s Party Center

Members’ Easter Egg Hunt
March 26th 1:00pm
Spring Hill

“Love and Danger on the Underground Railroad: The Journey of George and Edy Duncan”
Professor Roy Finkenbine
March 31st 6:30pm
Massillon Library

 

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

On December 31, 2015, President Obama issued a proclamation to designate January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the U.S. It coincides with International Human Trafficking Awareness Day that is in January each year.

Because there has been so much published throughout the past month to educate about human trafficking and modern slavery, we have decided to provide a list of articles published this past month. These have been written by professionals, advocates, and survivors of these crimes. Click on the links below to read more!

President Obama’s Proclamation: National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

The Epidemic That’s Taking Children’s Lives But Almost No One Is Talking About Huffington Post

“It’s Not My Problem” Is No Longer Acceptable: Child Trafficking in the United States Huffington Post

Study finds human trafficking is judged unevenly by law, public Phys.org

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2016: Three In Every Thousand People Affected Headlines and Global News

SFO Holds Human Trafficking Awareness Training Ahead Of Super Bowl 50 CBS San Francisco

It’s Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Are you aware? NonDoc