Archives of Maryland
Arthur W. Leverton (b. 1806 - d. 1880)
MSA SC 5496-24684
Acomplice to slave flight, Caroline County, Maryland, 1858
Leverton, was heir to a strong tradition of abolitionism among the Quakers
of Caroline County. His family resided near Preston in the southern portion
of the county, placing them along the path of countless slaves fleeing
toward Pennsylvania and New
Jersey. Leverton's father Jacob and step-mother
Hannah had been active in the Underground Railroad network as well, likely
since the early 1800’s.1 Much of the their dedication to the cause was derived
from their membership in the Society of Friends, which had formally condemned
slavery and expelled nearly all slaveholders from its ranks by the late
18th century. In fact, many Maryland Quakers, including Leverton
own’s family, had decided to move to the newly-opened free territories
of Ohio and Indiana
in order to avoid the repugnant institution.2
Arthur W. Leverton’s anti-slavery activities became
increasingly dangerous as the animosity grew toward abolitionism in Maryland
during the middle of the century. Dozens of blacks fled from the region
during the 1850's, many with help from sympathetic free blacks and whites,
Quaker or otherwise. On the night of December 31, 1857, a black woman named
Haskins, who had just received her freedom, made off from Cambridge
with her still-enslaved husband and five children.3 The owners, James E.
Hall and Francis Phelps, filed a runaway
advertisement in the first week of January. This was only unusual in
that the slave holders claimed that " It is said that they had a white
guide a part of the way."4 Since they also noted that the group had already
been recaptured in Caroline County, this ad may have been placed in order
to elicit information about the alleged white accomplice. A March 27th
issue of the Quaker publication, The Friends' Intelligencer, claimed
that the fugitives had been betrayed by "some pretended friend," and that
they had ultimately given up information that would implicate Leverton.5
It did not take long for this impression to leak into the Dorchester white
community, sparking the rage that was typically directed toward suspected
abolitionists on the Shore.
Arthur realized that the longer he stayed in Maryland,
the more he would endanger his life and those of his family. On January
10, Leverton gave John R. Stack power of attorney, granting him authority
over his real estate and personal property.6 On January 14, he fled the
state. Local newspapers published an account, "Departure of a Conductor
of the Underground," which specifically named the Quaker as an abolitionist
agent.7 The author claimed that "his precipitated flight appears to be conclusive
evidence of his guilt," and that, "he has long been suspicioned of tampering
with slaves." A collection of area whites were likely disappointed that
they were unable to exact revenge upon Leverton, so they expressed their
intention to punish another Caroline County resident suspected of being
involved. Arthur's neighbor, a free black man named Daniel
Hubbard, was the next target. He also managed to escape from the area
just in time, seeking refuge in Philadelphia, likely with the support of
anti-slavery figures who were aware of the situation.8
Arthur W. Leverton ended up in Indiana, where members
of his family had earlier joined the growing Quaker community there. John
Stack had sold his much of his Caroline County property by 1860, and Margaret
and their eight children moved to their new home in the midwest. The Leverton
family were living in Marion County, Indiana, as of that year.9 Arthur was
working as a farmer, with labor from his elder sons Baynard and Francis.
However, they were never able to reach the level of prosperity that had
been achieved over several generations on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Arthur
Leverton died in that area on July 4, 1880.10
1. Patricia C. Guida,
Arthur W. Leverton, Underground Railroad Agent, and His
Family: The Levertons, Whiteleys and Wrights. Caroline County Historical
Society Inc. 2007.
and Arrests," Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser. 14 January,
5. "American Slavery," Friends'
Intelligencer, Vol. XV, No. 2, Third Month 27, 1858, pp. 24-25. (Guida, p. 129)
6. CAROLINE COUNTY COURT (Land Records), Book CC, p. 529, January 10, 1858.
7. "Departure of a Conductor of the Under Ground," Easton
Gazette. 23 January, 1858. (Guida, p. 124)
8. "American Slavery"
9. Ancestry.com. 1860 United States
Federal Census, Marion County, Indiana, p. 20.
10. Guida, p. 4.
Researched and Written by David Armenti, 2012.
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