Union talk to discuss Maine's Underground Railroad

May 18, 2011
Author Mark Alan Leslie will discuss Maine's Underground Railroad during a talk June 1.

Union — Maine’s connection to the famous Underground Railroad that helped free runaway slaves in the mid-1800s does not begin and end with Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Indeed, from Kittery to Fort Fairfield, Mainers conspired together to break the law of ­ the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 ­forming a network of “safe houses,” hiding slaves from slave hunters and scurrying them to Canada.

At the Union Historical Society’s Old Town House on Town House Road on Wednesday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m., author Mark Alan Leslie will weave the tale of the brave families, including those from Augusta eastward, who housed and fed slaves in hidden rooms, attics and elsewhere en route to the next secret “way station” in the “railroad.”

President Abraham Lincoln once said to Stowe, “So you’re the little lady who began all this.” “Mrs. Stowe only lived in Brunswick from 1850 to 1852,” Leslie said in a news release. “Her book, 'Uncle Tom’s Cabin,' was instrumental in raising awareness of the scourge of slavery. But it took scores of people here in Maine to make the dream of escape a reality. Portland’s Underground Railroad itself was a marvel of secret connections from churches to hack stands, second-hand clothing stores and people’s homes. Slaves sometimes escaped aboard ships, but more often northward on land.”

Leslie, a longtime journalist, first burst on the literary scene with his novel "Midnight Rider for the Morning Star," based on the life of Francis Asbury, America’s first circuit-riding preacher. His presentation on the Underground Railroad comes from research for an as-yet-unpublished book.

After the meeting refreshments will be served by hostesses Elaine Tracy and Nancy Watson. All meetings of Union Historical Society are free and open to the public. Union Historical Society owns and maintains the Robbins House on Union Common, the Cobb’s Ledge historic site on Town House Road, and the Old Town House, also located on Town House Road and available to rent for functions. Membership is $5 per year.

For more information, call 785-5444 and leave a message, or visit midcoast.com/comespring.


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