Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and political activist. She was born into slavery but escaped and went on a mission to rescue several enslaved people, including her own family and friends, through a small network of anti-slavery activists. But did you know about Thomas Garrett and his involvement in Tubmans’ missions?
Thomas Garret was also an American abolitionist. Despite having a $10,000 bounty on his head for his stance against slavery, he still worked alongside Harriet Tubman and freed over 2,500 slaves.
Who is Thomas Garrett?
On August 21, 1789, Thomas Garrett was born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Their family was part of the Quaker Darby Friends Meeting, and his family resided on their homestead loving named Riverview Farm.
In 1813, Garrett married Mary Sharpless. They had five children. He moved to Wilmington, Delaware, in 1822, where he became a member of the Wilmington Meeting. The move was so advantageous to his career as it was an up-and-coming city. The area was also excellent for the Underground Railroad activity that was planned.
When his wife passed died in 1828, Garrett remarried in 1830. Eli Mendenhall’s daughter, Rachel Mendenhall, was his bride, and they had a son soon after.
Upon his father’s death in 1893, the original farmland was divided between Garrett and his brothers Isaac and Edward. They renamed their farms Fernleaf Farm and Cleaveland Farm. Much of the land has now been preserved and turned into Arlington Cemetary. Garrett’s home was called Thornfield, and it was built in 1800. He lived in this home up until 1822.
Garrett passed away on January 25, 1871. Several black residents of the city attended his funeral and joined the procession rights. (Source: A Delawarean That Made A Difference)
Garrett’s Stand on Slavery
When Garrett was a child, his parents actively hid runaway slaves in their Delaware County farmhouse. He was raised with the teaching of tolerance and compassion. He was one of the first to challenge the rights of slaveholders openly.
When Garrett was a young man, an employee of theirs was kidnapped and almost forced into slavery. Garrett took it upon himself to chase after the offenders and free their family friend. According to several historians, it was at this point that Garrett realized the problem. It was a spiritual awakening for him, and from that day forward, he would devote his life to the active quest for equality and dignity for all. (Source: A Delawarean That Made A Difference)
Garrett and His Involvment with the Underground Railroad
By the time Garrett relocated to Quaker Hill in Wilmington, Delaware, he was known in the anti-slavery circles as the station master on the eater line of the Underground Railroad. Slaves who had escaped made their way to the lowlands and swamps of Maryland and Delaware. With the aid of conductors like Harriet Tubman and Garrett, they could flee from their captors.
Today a marker is placed on the 4th and Shipley Streets of Wilmington in honor of Thomas Garrett, Stationmaster of the Underground Railroad. (Source: A Delawarean That Made A Difference)