Levi Coffin

A drawing based on a circa 1850 engraving Levi Coffin (October 28, 1798 – September 16, 1877) was an American Quaker, Republican, abolitionist, farmer, businessman and humanitarian. An active leader in the Underground Railroad in Indiana and Ohio, some unofficially called Coffin the "President of the Underground Railroad," estimating that three thousand fugitive slaves passed through his care. The Coffin home in Fountain City, Wayne County, Indiana, is now a museum, sometimes called the Underground Railroad's "Grand Central Station".

Born near what became Greensboro, North Carolina, Coffin was exposed to and came to oppose slavery as a child. His family immigrated to Indiana in 1826, avoiding slaveholders' increasing persecution of Quakers, whose faith did not permit them to own slaves and who assisted fugitives. In Indiana, Coffin settled near the National Road with other Quakers in Wayne County, Indiana, near the Ohio border. He farmed, as well as became a local merchant and business leader. Coffin grew wealthy from his various businesses assisting neighbors and travelers in the important transit corridor. Coffin became a major investor in and director of the local Richmond branch of the Second State Bank of Indiana in the 1830s, Richmond being the Wayne County seat. His financial position and standing in the community also helped supply food, clothing and transportation for Underground Railroad operations in the region.

At the urging of friends in the anti-slavery movement, Coffin moved southward to the important Ohio River port city of Cincinnati in 1847, where he ran a warehouse that sold only free-labor goods. Despite making considerable progress with the business, the free-labor venture proved unprofitable; Coffin abandoned the enterprise after a decade. Meanwhile, during this 1847 through 1857 period, Coffin assisted hundreds of runaway slaves, often by lodging them in his Ohio home across the river from Kentucky and not far downriver from Virginia, both of which remained slave states until slavery was abolished after the American Civil War.

In his final decade, Coffin traveled around the Midwest, as well as overseas to France and Great Britain, where he helped form aid societies to provide food, clothing, funds and education to former slaves. Coffin retired from public life in the 1870s, and wrote an autobiography, ''Reminiscences of Levi Coffin'', published in 1876, a year before his death. Provided by Wikipedia
by Coffin, Levi, 1798-1877.
Published 1968
Published 2004
Other Authors: '; ...Coffin, Levi, 1798-1877....