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The Underground Railroad In Hudson County - Part Four

By Alexander Maclean

Edited by GET NJ, Copyright 2002

The last slaver captured was executed on one of the islands in New York Bay but a few years before the outbreak of the Civil War.

It was natural that those who believed that all men were created equal should oppose slavery and that the opposition should in time take definite form. In Philadelphia, under the shadow of Carpenter's Hall, in 1785, the first abolitionist society was started. Other States followed; the date of the first New Jersey abolitionist organization was 1792.

These early abolitionists considered only the ethical side of the matter, and did not engage in aiding fugitives to escape, but according to Lucius Q. C. Elmer, "confined themselves to protecting slaves from abuse, and to aiding their manumission by legal proceedings."

In addition to these abolitionists who were contented with academic discussion of slavery, there grew up another class who felt that something should be done to check the spread of slavery. They felt that they had a mission in life -- an aim for their effort.

This class of abolitionists believed that a great movement was in progress, and they wanted to know that they were doing something to aid its development. They were morally and physically brave, and they wanted to share their liberty. These men and women began to aid fugitive slaves to escape from bondage. Working secretly and in danger, they held no meetings to denounce the sin of slavery. Their numbers and their ability increased with years, until they developed what came to be known as the Underground Railroad.

There were general causes which led to this organization, just as the general question of slavery produced the other class of abolitionists. The efforts of slave-holders to enlarge slave territory, produced this second class of active abolitionists. We need merely glance at the leading events in the slave holders work in this direction to see how it embittered the liberty-loving people in the North.

In 1802, the United States purchased the Louisiana territory, followed by Florida in 1809. This added immensely to the slave area and created a demand for slaves that caused their widespread importation from Africa. This business assumed such proportions that in 1808 Congress enacted a law prohibiting the further importation of slaves. Smugglers evaded this law and the importation of slaves continued up to the outbreak of the war. The last slaver captured was executed on one of the islands in New York Bay but a few years before the Civil War.

Part Five

Hudson County Facts  by Anthony Olszewski
Hudson County, New Jersey is a place of many firsts - including genocide and slavery.
Political corruption is a tradition here.
First issue in a series by Anthony Olszewski
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