site site.xsl LongwoodGardens
section nav_section.xsl section_The_Gardens
page pg_standard.xsl UndergroundRailroad_1_3_2_1_3
Quakers were one of many groups who had come to believe that it was wrong to hold people in bondage, whatever their ethnicity. Early concerned Quakers gave eloquent testimony on the anti-slavery issue and were instrumental in action taken by various Yearly Meetings, which urged from 1758 that members free their slaves. In 1776 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting disowned members who persisted in owning slaves. As early as 1786, some Quakers joined the movement to help runaway slaves reach freedom. This was the real beginning of the Underground Railroad, the secret organization that helped escaping slaves before the Civil War. It was a railroad that ran without tracks, cars, or written records. The abolitionists, for the most part anti-slavery Northerners, were aided by some Southerners who were sympathetic to the cause of freedom. These abolitionists were called "conductors." Their homes were the "stations."
In Pennsylvania, the first free state north of the Mason-Dixon Line, Chester County was a key link in the chain of Underground Railroad stations for African-American slaves coming from Maryland plantations. Many conductors in and around Kennett Square, West Chester, and Wilmington were Quakers who worked to bring slaves to freedom. The area was known as a "hotbed of abolition."
There were no more staunch abolitionists than local Quakers John and Hannah Peirce Cox. Their home "Longwood" was an ideal location along the Underground line since it was on the main road to Philadelphia from points south and west. The Coxes opened their home to escaping slaves, feeding and clothing them and either keeping them overnight or sending them on to the next station. The Cox homestead, which still stands along Route 1, included the land where the Longwood Meeting House was built.
Assisting slaves to escape, however, was illegal. While all Quakers denounced slavery, not all Quakers approved of the Underground Railroad. Many Friends were disowned from their meetings for involvement in a “worldly concern”, slavery, including the Coxes. Nor did they agree when the most fiery abolitionist preachers from the Northeast and elsewhere were brought to speak. As the issue of slavery became more intense, the Society of Friends became divided, and many Friends were disowned by their Meetings, including the Coxes. In 1854, local abolitionists around Longwood formed a new Progressive Friends Meeting. A year later, on land purchased from John Cox, these Quakers built their own Meeting House which came to be known as the Longwood Meeting of Progressive Friends.
element callout2.xsl BTGG_Days
Meet the arborists and gardeners that care for our trees and flowers throughout Spring Blooms, and see demonstrations throughout our Conservatory and outdoor gardens.
element callout2.xsl WhatsinBloom
A team of Longwood Volunteers gathers horticultural highlights from the Outdoor Gardens and Conservatory. Download a pdf of their top picks for the week, including photos and locations.
element callout2.xsl Victoria_Exhibit
Journey to the wild, remote flood plains of South America and to the great gardens of Europe and North America to discover Victoria, the waterlily queen.
element callout2.xsl Festival_of_Fountains
Stand before towering fountains, wander shady groves, see fireworks light up the night sky, and enjoy concerts in the most beautiful outdoor settings.
©2006-2012 Longwood Gardens. All Rights Reserved.