Images of America: Cincinnati’s Underground Railroad by Richard Cooper and Eric Jackson (2014)

Published in 2014, Images of America: Cincinnati’s Underground Railroad by Richard Cooper and Eric R. Jackson contains dozens of portraits of prominent abolitionists and photographs of locations which were useful to freedom-seekers.  The book offers a useful chronological image map of historical events through the Civil War era.  There are several profiles of more well-known figures such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and William Lloyd Garrison.  In addition, Images of America also highlights more obscure abolitionists, such as Reverend John G. Fee (who was “eventually disowned” by his family for harboring “radical antislavery opinions”), James Birney (a Princeton alumnus who “founded the abolitionist newspaper The Philanthropist in 1836”), and Anna Donaldson (who worked against slavery alongside her sons).1

The term “stampede” does not appear in this book.  Instead, Cincinnati’s Underground Railroad describes various types of escapes and the support systems which aided them.  According to the authors, for example, “The city’s emerging steamboat industry granted employment opportunities for African Americans and provided a way to transport black Americans escaping from the South to the North without detection.”2   

The authors note that some freedom-seekers “travel(ed) at night or hid(–) aboard sailing vessels as well as in safe-houses…  Those who were lucky enough to escape concealed themselves, used various disguises, obtained free papers, and traveled the back roads to gain their freedom”, and “On foot, runaways seldom traveled more than 10 to 15 miles per night.  Another way…was through the use of various creeks and small streams that fed into a larger waterway, especially in the northern Kentucky and southwest Ohio regions.”3

Co-author Richard Cooper provides several primary-source photographs of monuments or buildings connected to the Underground Railroad or Civil War, or which concern individual Black people and their accomplishments.  His images of the Black Brigade Monument (which honors an all-Black “military unit organized during the Civil War to protect the city from being attacked by the Confederates”), Father Wallace Shelton’s gravesite in Union Baptist Cemetery (“which contains the remains of…a number of African American Civil War veterans” and “is the oldest Baptist African American cemetery in the city”), and a statue of James Bradley (who was “the first African American student at Oberlin College”) are originals.4


[1] Cooper and Jackson, Images of America: Cincinnati’s Underground Railroad, (Arcadia Publishing in, 2014), 46; 50; 59.

[2] Cooper and Jackson, 36.

[3] Cooper and Jackson, 76; 77.

[4] Cooper and Jackson, 47; 173; 192.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *