I hate to rain on anybody's parade, but this story on the Underground
Railroad in Brandon contains some inaccuracies and credulity-
stretchers. To begin with, Vermont outlawed slavery in its original
constitution of 1777. It was the first state to do so. The so-called
"Dred Scott Committee" I suppose was one of the General Assembly's
attempts to make the apprehension of fugitives more difficult. As far
as I know, there were no attempts to apprehend fugitive slaves in
Vermont during the time that the Underground Railroad was in
operation, probably because the expense, legal entanglements, and
widespread hostility to slavery made it less than worthwhile.
Despite the many legends about the Underground Railroad in Vermont,
the documentation is scant. I suspect that the U.R. functioned in
Vermont mainly to provide relief and resettlement to fugitives.
Undoubtedly, fugitive slaves rescued by U.R. activists in the border
states sent some of them along to northern New England, where groups
of sympathizers provided food, clothing, and shelter. There was
little need to conceal the fugitives. If anything, I would guess
that they were kept out of the public eye to avoid unsettling the
neighbors. Vermonters may have been intolerant of slavery, but
they were not necessarily ready to accept the fugitives into their
I would love to find more solid evidence of the Underground
Railroad's work in Vermont. Anyone who finds anything -- please
let me know.
and Curator of Manuscripts