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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Women's Rights National Historical Park
A tireless social reformer, Wendell Phillips took up a number of 19th century progressive causes, including abolition, equal rights for women, universal suffrage, temperance, unionism and Native American citizenship. Read more
Francis Pierpont was a lawyer and politician who helped lead the fight to separate loyalist northern Virginia from secessionist southern Virginia in the early days of the Civil War. Read more
Allan Pinkerton was founder of America's first private police agency, which was employed to guard President Lincoln and gather intelligence on Confederate troop strength and movements. Read more
John Price was an enslaved man in Kentucky whose escape attempt in 1858 drew attention to the Fugitive Slav e Act. Price got to Oberlin, Ohio, before being apprehended - but then was freed by Oberlin residents, both black and white. The result was the arrest and Federal trial of those helping Price, while Ohio authorities arrested those who had apprehended him! Read more
Robert Purvis was a prominent abolitionist with an unusual background. His father was an English immigrant, his mother a second generation African American, and he also had Jewish ancestry. He grew up wealthy in Charleston, but was educated at Amherst College, moved to Philadelphia and devoted his life to abolitionism, helping the African American community, and supporting women's rights. Read more