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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Burlington Pharmacy, used to harbor Underground Railroad fugitives
[Wheatley's] Burlington Pharmacy, built in 1731 and established as a pharmacy in 1841. According to oral tradition, this Quaker-owned building was used frequently to harbor Underground RR fugitives and was the site of anti-slavery rallies. Photo courtesy Cultural & Heritage Department, Burlington County

Underground Railroad: A Route of Escape

During the Civil War (1863-1865), abolitionists in New Jersey assisted runaway slaves with their escape to northern free states.

No New Jersey county has a richer black historical presence than Burlington Country. By 1790, the county had the largest free black population of any county in New Jersey. This can be attributed to its location in the Delaware Valley, known as the "cradle of emancipation," where slaves were freed on a large scale. The sizeable presence and influence in the valley of Quakers, America's first organized group to speak out against the evils of bondage, enabled this region to be the pacesetter regarding black emancipation.

Underground railroad stations that belonged to whites provide examples of interracial cooperation and goodwill. Burlington served as a short stop, where horses were changed, after a rapid twenty-mile trip from Philadelphia to Princeton. The stop would be known as Station A. Bordentown, known a Station B, served as a continuous connection to the line from Philadelphia to Princeton. Another line ran east through Station B, which followed the northern route. Its southern route remained independent for sixty miles before it intersected with the Bordentown corridor. Another branch of the Philadelphia line extended through Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to Trenton, then followed a northern course to New York.

Documentation includes a tour guide of African-America Historic Sites in Burlington County, a newspaper article from 1860, and photos.

Originally submitted by: Christopher H. Smith, Representative (4th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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