Human beings are inherently conservative, tending to resist change until change becomes unavoidable. This habit has survival benefits, as too rapid a change can be dangerous.This is why most social reformers were ignored by most Americans in the early decades of the 19th century. But in 1861, change became unavoidable.
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Harriet Tubman has long been associated with her extraordinary work with abolitionist causes and as the Underground Railroad's most famous conductor. Her heroic efforts in personally leading more than 300 persons out of slavery to freedom in the North defined her as the "Moses of her People." Read more
Denmark Vesey, a former African American slave, planned a large rebellion of former slaves and free blacks to coincide with Bastille Day celebrations in Charleston, S.C., in 1822. Would he advance the cause of abolition in the United States? Read more
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Jonathan Walker was an abolitionist, shipwright and sea captain who undertook a number of hazardous voyages in the 1840s to assist escaped slaves. He was captured in Florida in 1844 and branded with the double-"S" of a slave stealer, a mark he considered "...the seal, the coat of arms of the United States." Read more
An American feminist, suspected spy, prisoner of war and surgeon, Mary Edwards Walker remains the only women ever to receive the Medal of Honor, which she was awarded for her service during the Civil War. Read more
Walt Whitman was a poet and bohemian who volunteered as a nurse in Union army hospitals during the American Civil War. His epic poem "Leaves of Grass", which he altered and expanded upon all his life, is one of the most important and impressive achievements of the American literary canon. Read more