William Still: Guiding Runaway Slaves to Freedom

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"It was my good fortune to lend a helping hand to the weary travelers flying from the land of bondage."-William Still. William Still was a humble Philadelphia clerk who risked his life guiding runaway slaves to freedom in the crazy years leading up to America’s Civil War. Still was the director of a complex network of opponents, supporters and safe houses that stretched from Philadelphia to what is now Southern Ontario. In Williams fourteen years in the service of the Underground Railroad, he helped approximately eight hundred former slaves to escape. Still kept careful records of the many slaves who passed through the Philadelphia "station." After the Civil War, Still published the secret notes he’d kept in diaries during those years. And to this day, his book contains some of the best evidence we have of the workings of the Underground Railroad, detailing the freedom seekers who used it, including where they came from, how they escaped and the families they left behind. (http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/shows/list/underground-railroad/home/) William was born in 1821 to former slaves in Burlington County, New Jersey. His father, Levin Steel, settled in a New Jersey farm after receiving his own freedom. Mr. Steel changed his name to Still to protect his wife, Sidney, who had permanently joined him when she succeeded in her second attempt to escape from slavery in Maryland. The first time she tried to escape, she fled with her four children but was recaptured. The second time, to secure their freedom, she escaped with only her two daughters. She was forced to leave two sons behind, Peter and Levy who were sold to slave owners in Alabama. She after changed her name from Sidney to Charity. Just simply that Williams father Levin... ... middle of paper ... ...e already died from starvation. Than they were transported to the concentration camps where they were worked to death, some gassed for no apparent reason. Reading and learning about what these innocent people had to go through makes me sick. Millions and millions died in this horrific act of injustice. When hearing Stills story it made me realize that if you really want to do something, no matter the circumstances you can and will be able to do it. He shows so much courage and bravery. He even puts his own life in danger for people he doesn’t know. William Still really inspired me and gives me courage. He motivates me to be a better person and to stand up when I know that I need to. William is known as an unsung hero, and I think that after what he did he should be extremely famous and known. His story is impeccable and I will think of him a role model everyday.
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