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Thomas Garrett (New International Encyclopaedia)


Daniel Coit Gilman, Harry Thurston Peck, and Frank Moore Colby, eds., "Garrett, Thomas," The New International Encyclopaedia (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1903), 8: 123-124.

An American merchant, distinguished as a philanthropist and reformer. He was born in Upper Darby, Pa., of Quaker parentage; learned the trade of a cutler and scythe-maker, and in 1820 removed to Wilmington, Del., where he became an iron and hardware merchant. Here, also, he avowed his anti-slavery opinions without reserve, and became widely known as the friend of the slaves and of negroes generally. His name was familiar to the slaves of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia; and during a period of forty years there was a constant procession of fugitives seeking his protection and aid. It is said that not less than 3000 of them were indebted to him for their freedom. He was compelled to resort to many ingenious devices in his work, but he made no secret of the fact that he was engaged in it, and such was his reputation for success that few slaveholders thought it worth while to pursue their runaways any farther after learning that they had fallen into his hands. In 1848 he was prosecuted by James Bayard (q.v. ) before Judge Taney (q.v.); was finally convicted on what appears to have been insufficient evidence of having abducted two slave children; and was fined so heavily as to render him penniless. His business would have been utterly broken up at this time if his fellow-citizens of Wilmington had not volunteered to furnish him all the capital he needed. At the time of his death he was universally beloved by the whites as well as the blacks.


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