In the very first American Studies class, we, students, received a very complicated puzzle to be solved- the mystery of the Underground Railroad. Not even a finished picture given, we planned to collaborate for the next six months in order to put these small pieces into a fine image.
To start with, we first analyzed the Flora’s Slavery Case. Each student researched a separate person, law or movement that was involved with the case I was given with an abolitionist, John Hooker. After some brief online research, I found out his relations with Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford, and that indeed John is the grandson of him. Also, he worked as a lawyer and judge in Farmington, a significant stop for the underground railroad, and as an advantage for his abolitionist activities. Furthermore, Hooker married Isabella Beecher, a member of the famous Beecher political family, in 1841. Hooker somehow transformed Beecher to start her activism career as she happened to read a case of legal standing within woman’s rights during the times when she was visiting his office. After that, Beecher eventually influenced Hooker, who previously was not paying much attention to such a serious matter at all, to join her activist activities and led him in becoming one of the heroes with regards to woman’s suffrage. He then wrote the “A married women’s property bill” and worked on it with Isabella until a similar bill was being passed in 1877. I also found a case that strongly proved Hooker’s commitment to the anti-slavery movement. When someone granted him a slave, he only owned him for a day as he paid one-hundred fifty dollars for a doctor of divinity and wrote the slave a writ of manumission the next day for the slave’s freedom. Finally, other than just getting to know the actual information related to the project, I also learnt organization skills and the importance of team spirit through working on an individual outline then combining the sources of my peers on the Google drive.
Now that we put some pieces of the puzzle together; however, there are still a majority of parts to be jointed. For my part, I am going to investigate more on the book found online which I gathered the information of Isabella and John Hooker above: Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker by Susan Campbell, published just in 2014. Now that I have the actual book in my hand, I can look into more details of John Hooker through the life of Isabella Beecher, as she is his wife, the most closely related person to John. Moreover, our class as a whole has learnt about David Ruggles, an African-American abolitionist who actively participated in the anti-slavery movement, but this hero is still not being widely promoted to the public with his vital works yet. I believe our class should and will attempt to find out more about him then help raise attention for this remarkable role model of us.
Regarding to skills, the class will make the best usage of technology, such as a cooperation of Google docs and Twitter, in order to group information and to get our knowledge exposed to the rest of the world. Last but not least, except only sitting in the classroom and learning, exploring sources from the limited multimedia world, the class will go on field trips once in a while to hopefully find some brand new evidences and information to be added into the underground railroad history.
Isabella Beecher Hooker, Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, http://bit.ly/1Q4WuQJ
446, Labor, Slavery, and Self-Government, Volume 11, Herbert Baxter Adams, http://bit.ly/1TphkIt
Tempest- Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker, Susan Campbell, http://bit.ly/1XFCqZN