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DIGGING BENEATH THE ORDERS: Dee Ann Miller's blog for http://justfollowingorders.takecourage.org
February 14, 2015
Many Unsung Heroes
Topic: Underground Railroad

The more educated a person is, the more likely that person is to go down in history, unless he or she committed some big atrocity.  Like William Quantrill, for example. In that case, he was educated, but it didn't matter. 

Consider the many heroic individuals whose stories never got recorded because there was nobody around to record what they did, like  "conductors" of the underground railroad. Very few of them were literate.  They would also have trouble hiding documents, and they certainly wouldn't want witnesses taking notes!

We are far more likely to know of those whose homes were used for temporary housing.  Many of these were Quakers since abolishing slavery was one of the primary concerns of Quakers.  This group worked for justice in many things, including slavery and gender equity, centuries before most Americans gave consideration to such issues.

Yet Quakers, as a whole, do not like to be recognized for their heroic efforts. In fact, they do their best not to call attention to themselves at all.  Still, they kept diaries and wrote letters to encourage one another.  And they wrote well because they were generally quite well educated. That's why we know far more about their efforts than we do about other people who maintained safe houses, as well as the "conductors," who were often escaped slaves or freedmen daring to go back for others still enslaved.

What if a conductor got caught?  Would you still consider her/her a hero?  I would.  Consider the case of Edmund Prince whose heroic acts are known to us only because he made the local Kentucky newspaper after being arrested.  http://www.nkyviews.com/carroll/text/prince_slave_arrest.html

I wonder how many other unsung heroes could be found if a diligent search was done? Why not do your own search?


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:05 PM CST
Updated: February 15, 2015 7:14 PM CST
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