Upstate New York: Abolitionists and Freedom-Seekers

13 May


There are so many ‘untold stories’ about slavery, ‘freedom seekers’ and even lesser known abolitionists.
Did you know in 1836 in Troy, New York about, The Mobbing of Abolitionist Theodore D. Weld?
In 1836 in Troy, NY that apparently there were plenty of people living in the area who were ‘pro slavery’, or who didn’t want to get involved in the southern problem and that came real apparent one day in 1836 in Troy – the mobbing of Theodore D, Weld, a distinguished philanthropist, in the Bethel, a mission church founded for the spiritual benefit of boatmen, and located on the Northwest corner of Fifth and Elbow (Fulton) streets, (for baby boomer residents of the ares, it’s the site of the Fifth Avenue hotel).

At that time the majority of the inhabitants of Troy were opposed to the then increasing movement for the abolition of slavery, and many bitter controversies had arisen between the abolitionists and those who advocated non-interference with the South…

Weld had delivered several lectures on the subject of slavery and had attracted large audiences to the Bethel. Soon after he had arrived in Troy there appeared in one of the city papers an incendiary letter regarding him and his teachings… On the afternoon of June 2 Weld was delivering a lecture in the church before a large audience, when a mob entered and attacked him, attempting to drag him from the pulpit…[Read the full story by Don Rittner:]

When talking about ‘Freedom-seekers’ in upstate New York, you must include the story of Stephen and Harriet Myers..The Myers Residence, located at 94 smeyersLivingston Avenue in Albany, New York and the first historic site we visit on the Native American – African – Dutch Heritage Tour, is an official Underground Railroad (UGRR) site. At the heart of the site is the museum co-Directors Paul and Mary Liz Stewart.They passionately share the history of the Myers’, including Stephen Myers Dutch connections. This special place is where the community can come to learn about the inspiring story of the Underground Railroad and the network throughout the region. The experience they evoke when guests visit the family residence not only brings to life the history  of the Myers, but also the long struggle for justice and freedom sought by lesser known ‘freedom-seekers’.

Stephen Myers was born into slavery in Hooksick, New York, a town just north of Albany. He was freed when he was 18 years old (it’s not clear whether or not he was ‘self-emancipated). In 1827 he married Harriet Johnson and together they had four children. Myers worked as a grocer and a steamboat steward on vessels sailing between New York City and Albany. Into the late 1830s, he began helping other ‘freedom-seekers’. In 1842 Myers began publishing the Elevator, a short-lived abolitionist sheet. Soon, he began working with the Northern Star Association, an abolitionist group, and founded its newspaper, the Northern Star and Freeman’s Advocate. This anti-slavery and reform newspaper was directed toward local free blacks and was published with the assistance of his wife, Harriet. By 1848 Myers had become the leading spokesperson in the Albany area for anti-slavery activism. He appeared at events and conferences in the region as a representative of the Albany Vigilance Committee, the leading local abolitionist group.  The Myers helped lead countless African-Americans to reach freedom and throughout their lives were dedicated to achieving racial, social and political justice! [Sources: UGRR History Project and Black Past Remembered]


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Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Black Heritage Tours New York


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