that made a Difference!
For slaves fleeing north through the Delmarva Peninsula, the last underground railroad station before the Pennsylvania line and freedom was the Wilmington, Delaware home of "Thomas Garrett", a Quaker merchant.
Born on August 21, 1789 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Thomas Garrett was one of the most prominent figures in the history of the Underground Railroad. He has been called Delaware's greatest humanitarian and is credited with helping more than 2,700 slaves escape to freedom over a forty year period.
When he was a child his parents actively hid runaway slaves in their Delaware County, Pa. farmhouse. Garrett was raised with the teachings of tolerance espoused by his church, one of the first to openly challenge the rights of slaveholders. When Garret was a young man, an employee of the family was kidnapped and nearly forced into slavery. Garrett chased after the offenders, freeing his family's friend. According to scholars, Garrett experienced a spiritual awakening that day, and would ever after devote his life to the active quest for human equality and dignity.
In 1813, he married Margaret Sharpless who died after the birth of their fifth child in 1828. It was during their marriage that Garrett decided, in 1820, to devote his life to abolitionism. Over the next four decades he helped more than 2,000 blacks reach freedom.
In 1830 after Margaret's death, Garrett married Rachel Mendenhall, the daughter of a fellow Quaker abolitionist from Chester County, Pennsylvania. They had one child, Eli, together and remained married for 38 years.
Thou has left me without a dollar,....I say to thee and to all in this court room, that if anyone knows a fugitive who wants shelter....send him to Thomas Garrett and he will befriend him."
Eyewitness accounts detail the particular contrition of a slave-holding juror from southern Delaware who rose to shake Garrett's hand and apologize at the close of the impassioned speech.
Following the Civil War, Garrett continued his work for minority groups in America. In 1870, when black Americans were given the right to vote by the establishment of the 15th Amendment, Garrett was carried on the shoulders of his supporters through the streets of Wilmington as they hailed him "our Moses".
A marker was unveiled in August, 1993 at 4th and Shipley Streets in Wilmington, De. in honor of "Thomas Garrett, Stationmaster of the Underground Railroad." His home is no longer standing.
Visit the Online Memorials for:
William Still - "Click Here!"
John Hunn - "Click Here!"