After our presentation at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Staten Island on May 22, a gentleman asked, “ Was Amboy, New Jersey, a stop on the Underground Railroad?”

Wibur Seibert identified Perth Amboy as a stop in The Underground Railroad From Slavery to Freedom (1898).

But Siebert did not write about South Amboy, which is across the Raritan River from Perth Amboy.

Sometimes William Still sent fugitives from Philadelphia to the  New York City  on the Camden & Amboy Railroad. Its cars departed at the foot of Walnut Street and stopped at Burlington, Florence, Bordentown, and Spotswood, and South Amboy. There, passengers boarded a steam ferry which took them to the foot of Cortlandt Street in Manhattan.

At other times, Still  used the New Jersey Railroad which stopped at Trenton, Princeton, New Brunswick, Elizabeth and Newark. The final stop was at Jersey City where passengers boarded a steam ferry which disembarked at Pier No. 1 on the North River, at the foot of Battery Place.

When Sydney Howard Gay resigned from the National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1857, the paper’s black printer, William H. Leonard, assumed responsibility for Underground Railroad operations. On November 28, 1856, Leonard notified William Still that the arrival of recent passengers on the previous Thursday, which had been Thanksgiving, had been “inopportune.” Leonard told Still that it was “only by chance” that he was in the office., that he had
a job on another paper which required him to go in. There was no one to “pilot” the fugitives. Napoleon was not “on hand,” and Rev. Charles Bennett Ray, who had previously worked with Lewis Tappan’s UGRR operations, was “not at home.” On “all such days,” the office was closed.  Leonard added, “Napoleon has given up going to the wharf because the last two or three lots you sent came by the Amboy, when your dispatch directed us to Jersey City. How does it happen?”

Did Still send Leonard a letter of explanation? If he did, has it survived?

Source: William H. Leonard to William Still, November 18, 1856, American Negro Society Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.


 


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