Levi Coffin 

Levi Coffin was a famous abolitionist who assisted in the safe escape of thousands of fugitive slaves by using his house as a station on the Underground Railroad for over twenty years.

See below for more information about Levi Coffin.
Date of Birth and Parents:
Levi Coffin was born on 28 October 1798 in North Carolina to Levi Coffin Senior and Mary. As Quakers, they did not believe in the institution of slavery; strongly influencing Levi Coffin's abolitionist stance. From the age of fifteen, Levi Coffin assisted runaway slaves by providing them with food at his family's Guilford County farm until the family incurred the wrath of local slaveholders and were forced to relocate to Indiana in 1826.

Date of Death:
Levi Coffin died on 16 September 1877.

Spouse and Children:
Levi Coffin married Catherine White on 28 October 1825 before moving to Indiana to join the rest of Levi Coffin's family in 1826. Levi and Catherine had three sons and a daughter.

The Underground Railroad:
Levi Coffin soon realised that their house was on a line that the Underground Railroad passed through. Slaves would travel via the Cincinnati, Ohio or Indiana routes, often re-captured as the freemen that had tried to save them did not have the resources or the skill in concealing the fugitives. In a unanimous decision, Levi Coffin and Catherine decided to use their home as a station to assit the fugitive slaves.

The level of dedication required to assist with the Underground Railroad became taxing and yet Levi Coffin continued to persevere; gaining the nickname The President of the Underground Railroad as he concealed thousands of slaves.

He and his wife would be roused from their sleep at any given hour on any given day by a knock at the door. Levi Coffin would let them in and set the slaves in front of a fire before he would set to work caring for the horses that had travelled up to thirty miles that night; whereas Catherine would rise to feed anywhere from three to seventeen fugitive slaves.

This endeavour lasted for twenty years. Occasionally slaves had to be brought back to Levi Coffin's home again if slave hunters and their dogs were upwind, and sometimes a slave was too ill to continue their journey. Instead they would reside for months with the Coffins, until they could regain their strength. Where required they would pay medical expenses for the sick, and Catherine's sewing circle used to make as much clothing as they could.

Later Life:
In 1847, the family relocated to Cincinnati, selling goods only made by freemen. Levi Coffin helped found an African-American orphanage in 1854 in Cincinnati and spent years after the Civil War assisting the newly freed slaves and was said to have raised $100,000 for the Western Freedman's Aid Society.


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