THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

 

Delaware State Museums offer exhibits and tours that focus on slavery in Delaware between the 1770s and 1840s. The John Dickinson Plantation, near Dover, is the childhood home of John Dickinson, “Penman of the American Revolution” and a signer of the Federal Constitution. Tours summarize documented information about the family’s slaveholding practices and manumission activities during the late 1700s. Lifestyles of the Dickinson family, tenants, and free blacks who resided in the Jones Neck area are presented through thematic presentations at this historic site which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The New Castle Court House Museum, located in the center of the historic community of New Castle, hosts an exhibit titled “Flight to Freedom” and offers well-documented tours highlighting Underground Railroad activities including information about slave catchers, bounty hunters, abolitionists, Federal and State laws, trials and speeches. The Federal District Court Trials of Thomas Garrett and John Hunn, well-known regional abolitionists and stationmasters occurred at this site in 1848. Having been accused of aiding and abetting runaways from Queen Anne’s County, Maryland namely the Hawkins family and four other adults, was well as violating Fugitive Slave Acts, these men were found guilty during a trial presided over by the United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney and punished accordingly. This site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The State House Museum, located on The Green in Dover, offers tours emphasizing laws, court activities, and information about Kent Country’s slaves and free Black population during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Interactive programs such as “Trial of the Missing Mercantile Money” provide insight into Delaware’s judicial practices and the exclusion of slave witnesses during an 1800 court case. The State level court trial of Samuel D. Burris, Negro Conductor of the Underground Railroad held in 1847, details information about Burris’ activities associated with the aiding and abetting of runaway slaves. His dramatic efforts and subsequent imprisionment are brought to light through a program titled “A Crime Next to That of Murder”, which is an actual phrase written by Samuel D. Burris describing the nature of his crime. The State House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.