First edition copy of a book by William Still. THE UNDERGROUND RAIL ROAD. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872. (entered into Library of Congress 1871). Thick 8vo; hardbound in the original cloth-covered boards; frontis portrait of Still with tissue guard; all plates present except Charles D. Cleveland, as with all other copies we have seen described; vi,780pp.
This is a rather scarce in 1st edition copy of William Still's book. Was reprinted several times in the 19th century, including revised editions in 1879 and 1886. Subtitled: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, &c; Narrating the Hardships, Hair-Breadth Escapes and Death Struggles of the Slaves in Their Efforts for Freedom, As Related By Themselves and Others, or Witnessed By The Author Together with Sketches of the Largest Stockholders, and Most Liberal Aiders and Advisers of the Road...Illustrated with 70 Fine Engravings By Bensell, Schell and Others...Sold Only By Subscription. This is a classic and essential work in the history and understanding of the Underground Railway that helped so many people escape from slavery in the 19th century.
BACKGROUND: The author was a remarkable individual often called "The Father of the Underground Railroad". He was an abolitionist, historian, and also had a small coal business. He was born to ex-slaves in New Jersey. He is credited with helping hundreds of slaves (as many as 60 each month) escape to freedom. In fact, when he was helping one man, he discovered that it was his own brother, Peter Still, the two of them having been separated since childhood. He kept impeccable records about the people he helped, and he had in-depth knowledge of the routes, safe houses, and so forth in the underground network. Harriett Tubman generally stopped off at his home on her way north with freed slaves. This book documents the stories and escape methods of almost 650 individuals and the people who helped them. The plates include scenes of the harrowing escapes as well as portraits of notable individuals who worked tirelessly in the effort - some well known, such as Lucretia Mott and William Lloyd Garrison, and others much less widely known.