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Don and I are very excited about launching our website and the forthcoming publication of our book, Secret Lives ...  This has been a true labor of love, especially for Don, without whose relentless efforts this book would not have been possible.  I may have started this project, but it was Don who turned it into something much more than an analysis of Gay's Record.  His exploration of the lives of Gay and Napoleon gave it a much richer context and enabled us to tell a story about what it was like to be an agent of the Underground Railroad.  We hope you will share your thoughts about our efforts, and update us with any new information or possible links that would add to this story and an understanding of the operation of the Underground Railroad in the northeast. 

Tom Calarco


 


Comments

Guylaine
10/26/2014 7:48pm

Hi Don and Tom,
I am looking forward to reading your book. I am wondering if the Gay papers you consulted talk about the case of Mahommah G. Baquaqua. I am interested because of the Ontario Canada connection, but I am wondering if you found out more information about the involvement of the New York Vigilance committee in his rescue in 1847 and whether Gay mentions him in his long correspondance.
Good luck bringing these stories to life.

Reply
Don Papson
10/27/2014 8:36am

Hi, Guylaine,

The answer to both of your questions is “Yes.” Gay was very aware of Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua’s case. He knew and corresponded with the abolitionists who aided him. And, “Yes,” you will find details about the men Gay knew who helped Baquaqua in New York City and Boston in Secret Lives. The case involved Baquaqua, a second enslaved man, and an enslaved woman who, after being intimidated by their master, decided not to be liberated. Baquaqua was the son of a Muslim merchant. He was captured from Djougou (in modern day Benin) in 1845 and shipped to Recife, Brazil. He was first sold to a baker and then to a Rio de Janeiro ship’s captain. In 1847, the Captain took him on a voyage to New York City. Black abolitionist William B. Powell, who operated a boarding house for seaman, involved Louis Napoleon in the case. Gay was involved in a fund raising effort. The Captain had the men locked in the Eldridge Street jail for safe keeping, but an astute UGRR agent got the jailer drunk and helped them escape to Boston. When Gay was informed that the Brazilians had been sent on a ship from Boston to Haiti, he made a gleeful announcement in the National Anti-Slavery Standard.

We would love to know what you and others have uncovered in your research on Baquaqua.

Reply
Guylaine
10/29/2014 3:16pm

Wow, this is great. So William B. Powell was also involved. He was the one who ran an hotel for Black sailors, so he would have known all about ships etc. I think he later moved to England. I'm looking more about his life in Canada, but Donna is looking at his visit to Peterboro, Gerrit Smith's home and also Central New York School. Already, more papers are coming to light.
Thank you so much, and great work.

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I am looking forward to reading your book. I am wondering if the Gay papers you consulted talk about the case of Mahommah G. Baquaqua. I am interested because of the Ontario Canada connection, but I am wondering if you found out more information

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