George DeBaptiste was an renowned African-American conductor on the Underground Railroad in southern Indiana and Detroit, Michigan. Born free in Fredericksburg, Virginia, he earned his living as a barber by profession.
He relocated to Madison, Indiana in 1838 and began running the Underground Railroad there. Situated along the Ohio River opposite Kentucky – a slave state – this town became an attractive refuge for slaves seeking freedom.
Early Life and Education
George DeBaptiste was born to free black parents in Fredericksburg, Virginia around 1815 and went on to become an acclaimed entrepreneur and leader within the African American community.
He relocated to Madison, Indiana in 1838 and became actively involved in the Underground Railroad movement. Through his assistance, more than 180 former slaves were able to escape into freedom.
After experiencing harassment, he relocated north to Detroit in 1846 and established several successful businesses. Additionally, he played an influential role in the African American community of Detroit.
DeBaptiste was an important figure on the Underground Railroad and ran its secret organization, known as “Underground Railroad.” He helped slaves escape into Canada by providing them with passage across Detroit River. Additionally, he worked to form a Black regiment during Civil War battles, maintaining close connections to notable abolitionists such as Frederick Douglas and John Brown.
George DeBaptiste was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia to free black parents in 1815 and received a basic education before apprenticeing as a barber. By his late teens he had become the body servant for an American gambler and traveled across America with him.
DeBaptiste became a leading figure on the Underground Railroad after moving to Madison, Indiana in 1838. He provided assistance and shelter for fugitive slaves as they crossed over the Ohio River into Kentucky and continued their journey across Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Canada.
He was also a successful businessman, owning both a bakery and the T. Whitney steamship that could be used both commercially and to transport fugitive slaves to Canada. Additionally, he served on the Colored Vigilant Committee with many prominent abolitionists; furthermore, he helped form the 102nd U.S. Colored Troops and was an active Mason.
Achievements and Honors
George DeBaptiste made a significant impact on Detroit’s anti-abolitionist movement, co-founding both the Colored Vigilant Committee and operating the Underground Railroad.
He served as the sutler for the Michigan Colored Regiment during the Civil War, and had a prominent position within abolitionist circles. On March 12, 1859, he hosted Frederick Douglass after his meeting with John Brown in Detroit.
Throughout his life, he advocated for civil rights and equality for black Americans. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the 15th Amendment which guaranteed African Americans the right to vote.
George DeBaptiste was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia to free black parents. He apprenticed with a barber in Richmond before becoming the body servant for an affluent southerner.
In 1836 he relocated to Madison, Indiana and opened a barbershop while supporting the Underground Railroad network. As one of its key members, he provided safe passage for runaway slaves on their journey towards freedom.
He was active in several abolitionist organizations, such as the Colored Vigilant Committee of Detroit. He collaborated with renowned abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and John Brown. In 1850, he helped escaped slaves cross over the Ohio River into free Indiana before transporting them onward to Michigan and Canada.
George DeBaptiste was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia around 1815 to free black parents and completed a basic education before becoming a barber. He then served as valet to an influential southerner and traveled extensively.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, he organized Michigan’s first black regiment – known as the 102nd U.S. Colored Troops – and served as a sutler.
He lived in Madison, Indiana with his wife Lucinda Lee and was active in the Underground Railroad movement. However, due to his anti-slavery activities and increasing harassment from white residents of Madison, Indiana, he moved north to Detroit.
He was an entrepreneur, founding several successful businesses and supporting abolitionist groups such as the Colored Vigilant Committee. Additionally, he secretly transported freedom seekers across the Detroit River to Canada on board his steamship T. Whitney – which he purchased and hired a white pilot for.