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There were people for and against slavery in Michigan before it was completely banned by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  You can read a quick history about those who opposed slavery in Michigan below.

Anti-Slavery Movement in Michigan


The Northwest Ordinance makes slavery illegal its territories and states. Although Michigan is part of the Northwest Territory, there are enslaved people living in Michigan until 1837.


Thornton and Lucie Blackburn free themselves from slavery in Kentucky and arrive in Detroit.


Elizabeth Chandler starts the first anti-slavery society in Michigan.  Laura Haviland also joins the society.

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Laura Haviland – An Abolitionist

An Anti-Slavery Society In 1832, in a simple wood meetinghouse near Adrian, Michigan, the first anti-slavery society in Michigan was formed. Some of the people in this meeting were Quakers, a religious group that spoke out against slavery. One of the Quakers was Elizabeth Chandler. Elizabeth wrote… Read More

Laura Haviland holding a knee straightener and a collar, items used as weapons against enslaved African-Americans.
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African-Americans form the Second Baptist Church in Detroit, which was an important stop on the Underground Railroad.


Michigan becomes a state. Michigan’s Constitution bans slavery.


Henry Bibb, who freed himself from slavery, arrives in Michigan. He begins telling about the terrible ways enslaved people are treated in the South.

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Henry Bibb Speaks Out Against Slavery

Henry Bibb, a formerly enslaved person, spoke out about the horrors of slavery. After freeing himself, he urged enslaved people to “break your chains and fly for freedom.” Henry was born enslaved in Kentucky in 1815.  His mother was enslaved and his father was his enslaver… Read More

Image Credit: Smithsonian Institute
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Raiders from Kentucky come to Young’s Prairie in Cass County and try to kidnap at least nine formerly enslaved people.

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A Community Stands with the Crosswhites

Adam Crosswhite and his family escaped from slavery, a system by which a person is forced to work without pay and doesn’t have freedom, in Kentucky. They traveled north and settled near Marshall, Michigan. Adam feared that slave catchers from Kentucky might come to Michigan… Read More

Adam Crosswhite
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The Michigan State Legislature passes a Personal Liberty Act that makes it difficult for slave catchers to kidnap formerly enslaved people in Michigan.


Abolitionist and former enslaved woman Sojourner Truth moves to Battle Creek, Michigan.


President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved African-Americans in the Confederacy, the group of states which seceded from the United States.


The First Michigan Colored Infantry Regiment leaves Detroit to fight in the Civil War.


The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution bans slavery.

What Did I Learn?

List three facts you learned from the story.

I Wonder…

List a question (or questions if you have more than one) the story didn’t answer.

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