NCIS Grant Recipient Describes Project on Leader in Underground Railroad

NCIS member Maximilian Longely, recent recipient of the NCIS Research Grant, sends the following summary of Joseph Williams Thorne (1816-1897), the subject of the book he is researching.

"Joseph Williams Thorne was a radical Quaker whose career spanned the latter half of the nineteenth century. A farmer and schoolmaster, Thorne embraced many causes of his time, such as abolitionism, women’s rights, prohibition, and international arbitration. In prewar Pennsylvania, he was an Underground Railroad conductor, a dangerous enterprise in an area where fugitive slaves and free black people clashed violently with kidnappers from across the Maryland border. After the Civil War, Thorne moved to Reconstruction-era North Carolina and was elected several times by former slaves to represent their interests. At one point, when he was the only remaining “carpetbagger” in the state House of Representatives, he was expelled for his religious views, in a dramatic clash over religious freedom."

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