Delia Webster and the Underground Railroad

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University Press of Kentucky, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 259 pages
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In September 1844, Delia Webster took a break from her teaching responsibilities at Lexington Female Academy and accompanied Calvin Fairbank, a Methodist preacher from Oberlin College, on a Saturday drive in the country. At the end of their trip, their passengers - Lewis Hayden and his family - remained in southern Ohio, ticketed for the Underground Railroad. Webster and Fairbank returned to a near riot and jail cells. Webster earned a sentence to the state penitentiary in Frankfort, where the warden, Newton Craig, married and a father, became enamored of her and was tempted into a compromising relationship he would come to regret. Hayden reached freedom in Boston, where he became a prominent businessman, the ringleader in the courthouse rescue of a fugitive slave, and the last link in the chain of events that led to the Harpers Ferry Raid. Webster, the focal point at which these lives intersect, remains an enigma. Was she, as one contemporary noted, "a young lady of irreproachable character"? Or, as another observed, "a very bold and defiant kind of woman, without a spark of feminine modesty, and, withal, very shrewd and cunning"? Randolph Paul Runyon has doggedly pursued every historical lead to bring color and shape to the tale of these fascinating characters. Readers interested in Kentucky history, the antislavery movement, and the role of women in the nineteenth century will find Delia Webster and the Underground Railroad compelling reading.

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Delia Webster and the Underground Railroad

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Runyon (French, Miami Univ.) has successfully extracted this very readable narrative of antislavery activities, clarifying and tying together a mass of disjointed and contradictory primary sources ... Read full review


The very madness of the moon
A very bold and defiant kind of woman
This remarkable history

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