Discover the stories of brave men and women who dared to free themselves from slavery and explore Jackson Homestead, a documented stop on the Underground Railroad. Programs for school groups as well as adults explain more about the Underground Railroad (which was not a railroad at all, but a loose and secretive network of white and African American people who helped those seeking freedom from slavery). The Jackson Homestead is part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
While many people believe that slavery was confined to the southern United States and its large plantations, slavery existed in Massachusetts, too. The first record of African people who were stolen from their homes and enslaved in Massachusetts dates back to1683. We know people were still enslaved in Massachusetts through the 1830s, though Massachusetts was also a center of abolitionist activity in the 1800s. The Jackson family illustrates changing ideas about slavery in Newton. Over the course of five generations they went from being slaveholders to being abolitionists.
William Jackson, who owned the Jackson Homestead during much of the 19th century, was the treasurer of the Vigilance Committee of Boston, which provided financial support to those escaping enslavement. At the Jackson Homestead, he sheltered people fleeing to freedom in Canada, even though it was against the law.
William Jackson risked going to jail or paying a fine equal to approximately $28,000 today to help others. What ideals do you support? Would you risk your life and livelihood for it? Historic Newton’s programs give you the resources to help you consider this question.