Thaddeus Stevens and the Underground Railroad
One day in August of 1848, a band of men of African descent who had fled enslavement in Maryland three days earlier came boldly to this community seeking advice, food, shelter or any kind of support. Their destination was Philadelphia, or New York or maybe even Canada…anywhere freedom could be found, other than their place of bondage below the Mason-Dixon Line. When they reached Columbia, Lancaster County, a stranger told them to seek help from a man living about 10 miles east in the City of Lancaster, at 45 South Queen Street. They were told this man—an attorney—was “a friend of the slaves.” Even though Thaddeus Stevens was at this time waging his first campaign in national politics as a candidate for the United States Congress, he daringly received this group of weary men and rendered assistance. He gave them a note—a calling card of sorts—along with directions to the next station on the Underground Railroad, some six miles east of Lancaster. There, at the home of Daniel and Hannah Gibbons, they were given food and a safe place to sleep before moving on in their quest for freedom.
This well documented episode provided the evidence that allowed the National Park Service on April 6, 2011 to designate the Thaddeus Stevens Home and Office as an authentic site associated with the Underground Railroad, and in doing so, the property is now included in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
For more information about the Underground Railroad, Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith please visit: http://lancasterhistory.org/learn/congressman-thaddeus-stevens-and-lydia-hamilton-smith