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PHOTO ESSAY

The Underground Railroad

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Hiding space in Coffin home

Courtesy of WayNet.org

Mythologized as the "president" of the Underground Railroad, Levi Coffin—alongside Philadelphian Isaac Hopper—was one of the most prominent Quakers working to abet the escape of fugitive slaves. Coffin and his wife, Catharine, are believed to have sheltered at least two thousand slaves at their various homes in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana, and the Coffins' residence, an eight-bedroom brick house, is now a National Historic Landmark. Shown is a picture of an upstairs hiding spot for runaways staying at the Coffin residence. A lifelong antislavery activist, Coffin moved to Cincinnati in 1847 to open a "free goods" store, so-named because of the store's policy of only selling goods produced by free labor. So renowned was the Coffin family's connection to the Underground Railroad they were memorialized in Uncle Tom's Cabin as Simeon and Rachel Halliday, the kindly white couple who hide protagonist Eliza Harris and her child in their home.

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