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 Lewis Hayden

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Lewis Hayden

  • Birth 1811 Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, USA
  • Death 7 Apr 1889 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Burial Everett, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Plot Lot 2327, Blooming Path
  • Memorial ID 12171999

Former slave who became a prominent abolitionist. He was the first African-American state government employee in Massachusetts and a member of the Massachusetts General Court. Aided by Underground Railroad activists Delia Webster and Calvin Fairbank, Hayden escaped from slavery in Kentucky in 1844 with his second wife Harriet and her son Joseph. Settling in Boston, the Haydens ran a clothing store and a boarding house, using these enterprises to provide food, shelter and clothing for fugitive slaves. After passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, Hayden became a leader in resisting its enforcement in Boston. In 1851, he helped rescue a fugitive named Shadrach Minkins from the custody of federal marshals. In 1854, he led an unsuccessful attempt to free Anthony Burns from custody. The attempt turned violent, but it marked the end of federal efforts to recapture escaped slaves in Boston. In 1859, Hayden raised money to finance John Brown's anti-slavery raid on Harper's Ferry. Active in politics, Hayden was appointed in 1858 as a "messenger" in the office of the Massachusetts secretary of state, a post he held until his death. He helped propel his friend John Andrew into the Massachusetts governorship in 1860 and worked closely with Andrew to create the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first African-American Civil War unit fielded by a free state. After the war, Hayden was elected to the Massachusetts General Court, but served only one term. An active Mason, he fought racism in the Masonic movement. Two years before he died, he persuaded the General Court to approve a memorial on Boston Common to the five Americans killed by British soldiers in the "Boston Massacre" of 1770, one of whom, Crispus Attucks, was a free black man. Hayden's funeral, attended by over 1,200 mourners, took place at the Charles Street AME Church in Boston. The story of his early life is told by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her book, "The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin."

Bio by: Michael Walter


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Michael Walter
  • Added: 26 Oct 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12171999
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Lewis Hayden (1811–7 Apr 1889), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12171999, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .