“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Fredericksburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)


Abolitionists Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, June 26, 2021
1. Abolitionists Marker
Formal white abolitionist societies emerged at the end of the 18th century and the Quakers were the first white abolitionists. However, black abolitionism began when the first African was forcibly extracted from his homeland and shipped to America in the 15th and 16th centuries. There are efforts worthy of note that are included in the Spirit of Freedom Garden.

William Still (1821 - 1902)
Born in Burlington County, New Jersey to ex-slave parents. His mother Charity ran away and was captured but ran away again to freedom in New Jersey from Maryland' eastern shore. Still is often called the "Father of the Underground Railroad" because by age 24 he was an active member of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery and chair of its committee to aid runaway slaves. Still later published a detailed account of his efforts to aid runaways in his book "The Underground Railroad Records," wherein he documents the accounts of 649 slaves who successfully escaped to freedom.

Robert Carter III (1728 - 1804)
Although Robert Carter lived close to and was friends with Thomas Jefferson, The Washingtons,

Abolitionists Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, June 26, 2021
2. Abolitionists Marker
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the Lees and George Mason and was the largest and richest slaveholder in Virginia, history books and their writers have all but obliterated any record of his existence and, more importantly, the reason he is now fondly referred to as the first emancipator. His biography states, "On September 5, 1791, Carter severed his ties with this glorious elite at the stroke of a pen. In a document he called his Deed of Gift Carter declared his intent to set free nearly five hundred slaves in the largest single act of liberation in the history of slavery before the Emancipation Proclamation." Robert Carter freed his slaves because he lacked the passion for racism.

Why was Robert Carter willing to do what his friends, Washington and Jefferson did not? Again, his biography writes, "Robert Carter is forgotten because he both blended too well and was respected too finely, because the difference between himself and his regarding neighbors, lies as always in what he didn't do, didn't say, didn't need and never justified."

Charles Sumner (1811 - 1874)
Sumner was an abolitionist Senator from Massachusetts who was known in the Congress as autocal and staunch orator particularly on the issue of slavery. He tried valiantly to nullify the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act but it was his high inflammatory speech against the Kansas-Nebraska Act that seared his reputation

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in the pantheon of the anti-slavery advocates. He personally verbally attacked Senators Stephen Douglas, James Mason, and Andrew Butler of South Carolina. He metaphorically suggested that Butler had debased himself by embracing "the harlot slavery" mistress who though ugly to others and polluted in the sight of the world remained always lovely and chaste in his sight. A colleague of Sumner and a relative of Barler brutally beat Sumner with a cane into a bloody pupe on the floor of the Senate. Sumner never fully recovered and could not return to the Senate for three years. Nevertheless, after the Civil War, Sumner continued to champion the rights of freed slaves for education, suffrage, and farmsteads.

Elizabeth Van Lew (1819 - 1900)
One of the best historical secrets of the South is the simple story of the life of Elizabeth Van Lew. She was born in Richmond, Virginia to northern parents, who quickly adapted to Southern customs. The one local custom that conveyed prestige was ownership of slaves. Elizabeth began to rebel against these customs upon the death of her father in 1843. A codicil to the will expressly forbade the freeing of his slaves by his wife. Yet, she and Elizabeth did in fact free the slaves as well as educate them. When the Civil War began in 1861, Van Lew became one of the most despised women in Richmond because of her pro-Union sentiments, as

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well as anti-slavery rhetoric. She was very close to Union general Ulysses S. Grant and through her elaborate and ingenious espionage network that utilized slaves, after which she was influential in the Union victory. A story with various degrees of credibility involves one of the favorite slaves, Mary Elizabeth Bowser a.k.a. Mary Dean Richards. It is believed that Van Lew judiciously placed Bowser in the Confederate White House as a maid-servant for the wife of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. Because of the perceived invisibility of slaves in the eyes of whites, Bowser was able to read and hear confidential battle plans and documents that she passed on to Van Lew, who in turn passed them to Grant. In the year of her death one of her remaining prized possessions was a picture of Charles Sumner, whom she greatly admired.

David Walker (1725 - 1830)
Born in North Carolina to a slave father and free mother, Walker traveled extensively in the South observing first hand the cruelties of slavery. He is reported to have said, "If I remain in this bloody land I will not live long." So in the 1820s, he moved to Boston and operated a second-hand clothing store. There he was an active agent of the Underground Railroad, a writer for the Black newspaper, Freedom's Journal, and charter organizer of the General Colored Association of Massachusetts. Walker is best known for his militant activist document published in 1828, "Walker's Appeal" wherein he calls for violent overthrow of slavery and a struggle to the death for blacks in their quest for freedom. Southern white supremacists including the Governor of Georgia put a price on Walker's head and he died of mysterious circumstances in 1830.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #01 George Washington, the Former U.S. Presidents: #03 Thomas Jefferson, the Former U.S. Presidents: #18 Ulysses S. Grant, and the Quakerism series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is September 5, 1791.
Location. 38° 19.319′ N, 77° 30.516′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Gordon W Shelton Boulevard, 0.7 miles north of Willow Lane, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6001 Gordon W Shelton Blvd, Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hallelujah (here, next to this marker); Acts of Bravery (here, next to this marker); Endurance Through It All (here, next to this marker); Voices of the Past (here, next to this marker); Runaways (here, next to this marker); Middle Passage (here, next to this marker); Quest For Knowledge (a few steps from this marker); Henry "Box" Brown (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fredericksburg.
Also see . . .  Abandoned National Slavery Museum. Atlas Obscura article (Submitted on June 28, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.) 

Credits. This page was last revised on June 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 28, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 64 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 28, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Dec. 2, 2022