David Ruggles (1810-1849) was one of the leading abolitionists of the 1830s and 1840s. Born into a free African-American family in Connecticut, he came to New York City as a young man. In 1835, he helped form the New York Committee of Vigilance as a way to aid fugitive slaves and protect the city's free black community from kidnapping. The committee helped make New York a major hub in the Underground Railroad. Frederick Douglass would soon become one of the many fugitives personally assisted by Ruggles, in October 1838. Ruggles was the primary author of the Committee of Vigilance's first annual report. It begins with the minutes of the Committee's founding meeting (naming Ruggles as secretary). The bulk of the report is dedicated to a discussion of the Committee's remarkable achievements, often illustrated with newspaper reports. The final page is a summary which notes that the Committee had protected 335 people from slavery through January 1837, operating with total receipts of only $839.52, much of it raised by "Ladies who collect from their friends one penny a week." An inspiring and dramatic document from the front lines of the struggle to defeat slavery. See Hodges, "David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City," pages 103-4. Afro-Americana 7083; Sabin 54452. No other copies traced at auction.
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