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 poems and articles that said slavery, the system by which people enslaved other people, was wrong. Local newspapers published her writing. She became good friends with Laura Haviland, another local Quaker, who also fought against slavery. Although Elizabeth died in 1834, Laura carried on the fight.
The Underground Railroad
In addition to the anti-slavery society, Laura helped enslaved African-American’s seeking freedom along the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses to help enslaved African-Americans reach freedom. She was a conductor, an individual who escorted or guided freedom seekers between stations or safe houses, along the route. She helped enslaved people, people forced to perform labor or services against their will, flee the south to safety in the north.
Travel to the South
Later in her life, Laura also traveled south to find enslaved people who had escaped and she brought them to Michigan. During those trips, she took careful notes about what she saw. She has horrified by how badly people were treated by enslavers, people who enslaved other people. She saw an enslaver whip two young boys because they had overslept.
Laura then returned to Michigan with the weapons that enslavers used to punish enslaved people. She brought a neck collar, knee stiffeners, handcuffs and leg irons back to Michigan with her. Laura showed the people of Michigan how terrible enslaved people were treated in the south.