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Thomas Garrett was born on this date in 1789. He was a white-American businessman and abolitionist.
The son of a farmer from Delaware County, he became involved in the iron trade and after marrying, moved to Wilmington, Delaware. A Quaker, Garrett was strongly opposed to slavery and joined the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. Delaware (a slave state) adjacent to Pennsylvania and New Jersey on one side and Maryland on the other, was a particular haven for runaway slaves. Garrett turned his home in Wilmington into the last station on the Underground Railroad before the slaves reached freedom in Pennsylvania. It has been projected that Garrett helped more than 2,000 runaway slaves escape from the Southern states.
The Maryland authorities were so angry (and fearful) of him that they set a reward of $10,000 for his arrest. In 1848, Garrett was brought before a Federal court, where he admitted he had aided fugitive slaves and would continue to do so. This resulted in a heavy fine that forced him into bankruptcy. However, with the help of his anti-slavery friends, Garrett was able to re-establish his business.
During the American Civil War, Garrett was vulnerable to pro-slavery elements in Delaware, and his home had to be protected by Black volunteers.
After the passing of the 15th Amendment that gave the vote to Blacks, Garrett was drawn through the streets of Wilmington by former slaves in an open carriage inscribed with the words "Our Moses." Thomas Garrett died on January 25, 1871. He left instructions that he was to be carried to his grave by Blacks and that they should participate in the Quaker service.
The Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village
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