October 28 Levi Coffin *This date marks the birth of Levi Coffin in 1798. He was an American abolitionist and President of the Underground Railroad. Levi Coffin was from New Garden, North Carolina, and the only son of seven children. The young Levi received the bulk of his education at home, which proved to be good enough for Coffin to find work as a teacher for several years. In 1821, with his cousin Vestal, Levi Coffin ran a Sunday school for Blacks. Alarmed slave owners, however, soon forced the school to close. In 1824, Coffin decided to join his other family members who had moved to the young state of Indiana. Establishing a store in Newport, Coffin prospered, expanding his operations to include cutting pork and manufacturing linseed oil. Even with his busy life as a merchant, Coffin was "never too busy to engage in Underground Railroad affairs." Also, his thriving business and importance in the community helped deflect opposition to his Underground Railroad activities from pro-slavery supporters and slave hunters in the area. Questioned about why he aided slaves, Coffin said "The Bible, in bidding us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, said nothing about color, and I should try to follow out the teachings of that good book." In 1847 Coffin left Newport to open a wholesale warehouse in Cincinnati that handled cotton goods, sugar, and spices produced by free labor. The enterprise had been funded a year earlier by a Quaker Convention at Salem, Indiana. Coffin and his wife continued to help slaves via the Underground Railroad. Both during and after the Civil War, Coffin served as a leading figure in the Western Freedmen's Aid Society. Working for the freedmen's cause in England and Europe, Coffin, in one year, raised more than $100,000 for the Society. He died in September 1877 in Cincinnati and is buried in that city's Spring Grove Cemetery. Levi Coffin was an important man before the Civil War and even after it. He and his family helped more than 2,500 slaves escape to the north. He also raised $100,000 for the Western Freedmanís Aid Society. Levi Coffin was born on a farm in New Garden, North Carolina on October 28, 1798. While he was still little, he started to abolish slavery. He hated slavery and he wanted to help slaves. One day when he was seven years old chopping wood beside the road with his father, a group of slaves walked by with chains connecting them with handcuffs. Leviís father asked one of the slaves why they were chained. The slave told him that their owners took them away from their wives and children. It was that day when Coffin learned what slavery was all about. He thought of how he would feel if his father was taken away from him. When Coffin grew older, he helped several slaves to freedom. In 1818, he helped organize Sabbath Schools, and after a year it was open. In 1826, Coffin and his family moved to Newport, Indiana. In Newport, Coffin opened up a merchandise store. He and his children worked in the store while his wife cooked and worked hard around the house. Coffin and his family stayed at Newport for twenty years. During the twenty years, the Coffins were able to help more than 2,000 slaves escape to the north, and slave owners never caught them. In 1847, Coffin moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. In Cincinnati, Coffin opened up a warehouse that handled cotton goods, sugar, and spices made by free labor. During his time in Ohio, he helped even more slaves escape to the north with the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War, millions of slaves that were freed still didnít have homes, food, and education. Then an organization that Coffin volunteered to help in called Western Freedmenís Aid Society, helped slaves by giving them homes, clothing, food, education, and jobs. This organization needed a lot of money to do that, so Coffin went to England and other parts of Europe and raised more than $100,000. In 1867, he was honored by serving as a representative to the International Anti-Slavery Conference in Paris. When he was 76 years old, Coffin died. Levi Coffin was an amazing person to the end. The Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, and Levi Coffin were all very important to the slaves in the south. They all helped slaves escape to the north on the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a system to help free slaves from the south and escape to the North or Canada. It began at the end of the 18th century. The Underground Railroad wasnít underground and it wasnít a railroad. It was made up of houses and buildings all the way to the north. The Underground Railroad was built by thousands of people. This system helped get hundreds of slaves to the north every year because it made secret routes and hideouts for the escaping slaves. Overall, the Underground Railroad helped free about 100,000 slaves from the south from 1810 to 1850. For the slaves, running away to the north through the Underground Railroad was very hard. It was hard because southerners kept an eye out for the slaves. The first step for the slaves was to escape from their owners. The slaves had to take all their belongings and their children and would escape at night. The slaves would travel 10 or 20 miles to the next station. A station was place for the slaves to rest and eat. They got to the stations by following the station ownerís directions. While they waited, a message would be sent to the next station to alert its station owner that the slaves were on their way, so the station owner would start getting the food and hideout ready. The slaves would also travel by train or by boat, which sometimes had to be paid for. Money was also needed improve and rebuild some parts of the Underground Railroad such as the stationsí walls and flooring.
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