November 9th, 1851 – Minister Calvin Fairbank Imprisoned


On November 9th, 1851, Kentucky marshals abducted abolitionist minister Calvin Fairbank from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and take him to Kentucky to stand trial for helping a slave escape.

abolitionist movement

Fairbank was a Methodist minister from New York state who was twice convicted in Kentucky of aiding the escape of slaves, and served a total of 19 years in prison. Fairbank is believed to have aided the escape of 47 slaves.

Calvin Fairbank

Calvin Fairbank (November 3rd, 1816 – October 12th, 1898)

Pardoned in 1849 after four years of his first sentence, Fairbank returned to his Underground Railroad work. He was arrested in 1851 with the aid of the governor of Indiana, who was enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Fairbank was convicted again in Kentucky and served the full sentence of 15 years.

Over his combined imprisonment of more than 17 years, Fairbank was reported to have received 35,000 lashes in prison floggings. In an April 5th, 1850 article, The Liberator summarized a letter from Fairbank to William Lloyd Garrison: “He expresses gratitude to the people of Boston, indicates an intention to write a book about his experiences, and indicates that letters to him can be sent in care of Lewis Hayden.”

Finally, in 1864, three years into the American Civil War, Fairbank was pardoned by Acting Governor Richard T. Jacob, who had long advocated the activist’s release. when Thomas Bramlette returned to office, he had Jacob arrested and expelled from the state for his attacks on Lincoln during the presidential campaign and support for George B. McClellan.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


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