The town of Kennett, Pennsylvania has long been acknowledged as a center for Underground Railroad activities. However, historians have almost exclusively focused on the efforts of the white Quaker residents and minimized or excluded the crucial work of African-American agents. Thus, Underground Railroad activities in Kennett have been presented as Quaker-dominated and highly organized. This paper investigates the work of several African-American Underground Railroad agents who assisted fugitives in their search for liberty. These individuals’ stories not only show the active participation of African Americans on the Underground Railroad, but they illuminate the complex workings of the Underground Railroad in Kennett. Numerous strands of the Underground Railroad operated simultaneously in the same locality. These different forms of Underground Railroad work were not discrete categories nor did they exist in a vacuum; numerous individuals or institutions worked with various threads of the Underground Railroad and impacted different elements of its operation. Kennett, Pennsylvania represents an area where multiple networks of the Underground Railroad intersected The stories of individuals like Harriet and Levi Hood, James Walker and Nelson Wiggins illustrates how African-American Underground Railroad agents were enmeshed in both the Quaker abolitionist networks and distinct African-American networks comprised of individuals, churches and communities. These networks occasionally converged but often ran parallel with little interaction between the participants. The evidence also indicates that aid to fugitives could also be rendered on an ad-hoc basis with people outside of these networks. Yet all were crucial components of the Underground Railroad. Far from being a Quaker-dominated institution, the Underground Railroad in Kennett, Pennsylvania was a myriad of networks in which African-Americans were entrenched and played a critical, but often forgotten, role to its success.
|School:||The George Washington University|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||MAI 55/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African American Studies, Black history, American history, History|
|Keywords:||African-American abolitionists, African-American agents, Black abolitionists, Black agents, Kennett, Pennsylvania, Underground railroad|
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