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The ABA and the Underground Railroad

The ABA is proud to host an event tomorrow night that explores a little bit of the history of the place we call home. With the recent announcement that the face of abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman will be gracing the US $20 bill in the not too distant future, there has been an increase in interest in Tubman’s role in American History, and, particularly, the story of the Underground Railroad, the secret pathway by which many southern slaves reached their freedom in the north prior to the US Civil War. It’s a story in which the Delaware Canal, which runs alongside the ABA’s headquarters in northern Delaware, plays a small role.

The Central Hotel was built in Delaware City, DE circa 1830. Photo ©Jeffrey A Gordon

The Central Hotel was built along the Delaware Canal in Delaware City, DE circa 1830. It has been the ABA’s headquarters since 2014.
Photo ©Jeffrey A Gordon

A free program, “The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom,” will be presented by historian and author Milt Diggins, as part of a meeting of the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware. The event takes place from 6 to 8:30 PM.

Mr. Diggins will present intriguing historical evidence for the use of the Canal as one of many escape routes for enslaved persons seeking freedom in the North.  His research, and the work of others, has identified everything from successful escapes of individuals concealed in boxes and ship holds, to a heartbreaking failure of an escape of 100 persons on a chartered vessel.  One of the more daring events involved a rescue led by Harriet Tubman in 1856 by way of Seaford.

The program will begin with an exhibit and interaction with Ms. Roberta Perkins, a Fort Delaware interpreter and researcher into the African American presence on the island in the 19th century.

Please join us if you are in the area for what should be a really interesting discussion and presentation! You can also help with the upkeep of our historic building by donating to the ABA.

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