Sunday, August 05, 2007

John Fairfield: Freedom Blood

What is the first name that comes to mind when you think of The Underground Railroad? Harriet Tubman? Yes! This is exactly what the public school system taught many of us. History teachers rarely spoke of any other conductors in The Underground Railroad. Now, Mother Tubman will always be the beloved star of the Underground, but there were others who courageously led hundreds or maybe thousands of enslaved Africans to freedom. For instance, a white southerner by the name of John Fairfield would lead hundreds to freedom through The Underground Railroad in the 1850s. Now, there were many whites who assisted the emancipation of thousands of Africans in captivity, but John Fairfield was from a slave-holding family in Virginia. Fairfield would often use his family history to his advantage and pose as a slave holder or bounty hunter on his trips south.

Fairfield saw slavery as an evil institution and saw it first-hand as a youngster on the plantation in Virginia. He
saw husbands sold away from their wives and children sold away from their mothers. His goal during his 12 years as an Underground Railroad conductor was to unite loved ones who had been sold off. This was often profitable for white men who made a career in helping fugitives. Slaves would save money for years and give their life savings for freedom. Fairfield would often take their money. However, his ultimate goal was freedom. So, if they didn’t have money he would still ask them to join him.

John Fairfield would fight to the death to achieve freedom for the African in America and often made those he led to freedom pledge the same. He was not afraid to use the gun and often did so when it came to freedom for all. The receivers of his passionate bullets were often white and he had no remorse for those who stood in his way. He once told the Quaker abolitionist, Levi Coffin that “…Slaveholders are all devils, and it is no harm to kill the devil.” John Fairfield would go on to lead this often bloody quest for freedom until he himself was reportedly killed in the late 1850s during a slave revolt in Tennessee. This period in American history would mark the beginning of the Civil War (1861-1865). This would also mark one of the bloodiest of times in American history.

Note: The Undergound Railroad was a network of over 3,000 homes and other "stations" that assisted fugitive slaves in their quest for freedom

Sources:,, and
Source and book on subject: The Creole Mutiny: A Tale of Revolt Aboard a Slave Shipby George Hendrick & Willene Hendrick (Author)
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