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Richard Dillingham

  • Birth 18 Jun 1823 Morrow County, Ohio, USA
  • Death 30 Jun 1850 Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
  • Burial Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
  • Memorial ID 10867012

Quaker abolitionist. He was teaching school in Cincinnati in 1848 when he agreed to go to Tennessee to aid the escape of three slaves. The escape was thwarted and Dillingham was arrested for helping the fugitives. He was sentenced in April 1849 to three years in the old Tennessee State Penitentiary on Church Street in Nashville. He was first put to work sawing stone, then put in charge of the prison hospital, where he was working in the summer of 1850 when cholera struck the inmate population. According to his fellow Quaker Levi Coffin, "Richard Dillingham dealt out medicines, and was unwearied in his attentions to his fellow prisoners." Dillingham himself was stricken on the morning of June 30, a Sunday, died, and was buried the same day. The exact location of his grave is not certain. The prison maintained a cemetery on the prison grounds. Given the fact that he was buried the day that he died, it seems likely that he was laid to rest in the prison cemetery, which was in an area now occupied by shops and apartment buildings. He was celebrated as a martyr to the abolitionist cause by Levi Coffin and by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote the poem "The Cross" in Dillingham's honor.

Bio by: Michael Walter


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Michael Walter
  • Added: 28 Apr 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10867012
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Richard Dillingham (18 Jun 1823–30 Jun 1850), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10867012, citing Old Tennessee State Penitentiary Cemetery, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .