Haviland, Laura Smith

Life Span
    Full name
    Laura Smith Haviland
    Burial Place
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Sectional choice
    Free State
    No. of Spouses
    No. of Children
    Daniel Smith (father), Sene Blancher (mother), Charles Haviland Jr. (husband, 1825)
    Relation to Slavery
    White non-slaveholder
    Church or Religious Denomination
    Quakers (Society of Friends)
    Other Religion
    Wesleyan Methodists
    Other Affiliations
    Abolitionists (Anti-Slavery Society)

    Laura Smith Haviland (American National Biography)

    Passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850 raised the stakes for abolitionists and slave catchers. Entrusting her farm and younger children to her grown children and the Raisin Institute to its trustees, Haviland began a peripatetic life. For over a decade she moved through the cities of Michigan and Ohio, ministering to the souls and bodies of blacks. She often earned her keep as a sick nurse, guiding her white patients to Christian salvation while at the same time teaching in schools for black children. In Cincinnati she worked with Levi Coffin and Catherine Coffin in the Underground Railroad, preparing food and mending clothes with the women and conducting escapees from "station to station" with the abolitionist men. Unlike most who sheltered fleeing slaves from the "biped bloodhounds" of that era, she was publicly vocal in her denunciations of slavery as an evil no true Christian could allow to exist. She made several trips into slave states in order to rescue illegally held free blacks (not always with success).

    In 1863, armed with letters from Michigan political leaders, a railroad pass, and fifteen dollars, Haviland went south with a load of medical supplies to offer "tender nursing" to wounded Union soldiers. She traveled down the Mississippi River, bringing blankets and religious instruction to the freedmen who sought refuge behind Union lines, inspecting military hospitals and prisons, and exposing injustice and cruelty--usually by complaining immediately to the highest military commander in the area.
    Effie K. Ambler, "Haviland, Laura Smith," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/15/15-00898.html.
    How to Cite This Page: "Haviland, Laura Smith," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/5854.