David Ruggles and Northampton Association

David Ruggles

David Ruggles, born in 1810 and passed away in 1849, was an abolitionist in Brooklyn, New York, who resisted slavery and participated in the Underground Railroad. David Ruggles is one of the overlooked figures, and he was actually the really important in the history of the Underground Railroad. He was anearly abolitionist in America. As an activist, writer, publisher, and hydrotherapist, Ruggles strived for African Americans’ freedom in variety of ways. He salvaged more than six hundred people, including Frederick Douglass. He was even a mentor of Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and William Cooper Nell to teach them the skills of antislavery activism. As a founder of the New York Committee of Vigilance, Ruggles inspired many upstate New York and New England whites, who allied with him to form a network which became the Underground Railroad.

In 1842, a utopian community called the Northampton Association of Education and Industry was created in Florence, MA. Founders of the group, abolitionists, farmers, and silk manufactures, supported William Lloyd Garrison and the immediate abolition of slavery and wanted to participate together with others who had these beliefs. This attracted David Ruggles to get involved in this community because the community planned an egalitarian enterprise around silk manufacturing. Silk was both practical and ideological, and it did not depend on slavery. This movement protests against cotton industry, which requires a lot of labor force of slaves. By growing silk, a plant similar to cotton, they wanted to show that growing cotton is unnecessary, and therefore, owning slaves is also pointless.

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