Mount Pleasant’s Samuel Luke Howe and the Underground Railroad

Excerpt from "Fifty-Two Years In Iowa", a biography of Samuel Luke Howe (1808-1877), written
October 18, 1894, by his son W. P. Howe (1835-1908); published in the Annals of Iowa,
October 1894, Volume 1, Issue 7.

After the destruction of the Whig party my father became a free-soiler, though in Henry County he was quite alone in that grand and noble advocacy of "free soil, free speech, free labor and free men". At a very early period his house was a station on the "underground railroad" (the first one north of Salem), and many a poor colored man, woman and child did he help on their way from slavery to freedom, - bidding them God speed, not with loving and encouraging words alone, but also with transportation, money, food and clothing. But as a free-soiler and abolitionist he was bitterly hated, and had to endure the wickedest persecution. But he was every whit a hero, - a hero fit to be named with classic martyrs of the past. His property was destroyed, his stock stolen, emissaries were sent to take his life, and finally he was brutally mobbed by the pro-slavery ruffians in the streets of Mt. Pleasant. I have heard my venerable mother, now 84 years old, often say that she expected to see him brought home dead almost any day, - a victim to the deadly malice of the pro-slavery men. But my father was a man of the most heroic and fearless courage – one of God’s grand, great-hearted noblemen. He defied persecution, hatred, loss of property, social ostracism and even dared death itself in defense of those immortal principles that afterwards became the chief corner-stone of the National Republican Party.

NOTE: The Free-Soil Party, (1848–54), was a minor but influential political party in the pre-Civil War period of American history that opposed the extension of slavery into the western territories.

Contributed by Pat White, July 2, 2022.
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