Levi COFFIN

Family tree of Levi COFFIN

Industrialist, Businessman

AmericanBorn Levi COFFIN

American Quaker, abolitionist, and businessman

Born on October 28, 1798 in Guilford County, North Carolina, USA , United States

Died on September 16, 1877 in Avondale, Ohio, USA

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Coffin was born in a factory near New Garden in Guilford County, North Carolina on October 28, 1798, the son of Mary and Levi Coffin Sr. He was the family's only son and had six sisters. Coffin's grandfather had immigrated to New England from Leicestershire, England with his parents around 1740. Coffin's father was born in Massachusetts during the 1760s and emigrated from Nantucket to North Carolina where he farmed land among a community of Quakers. The family was greatly influenced by the teachings of John Woolman who believed that slaveholding was not compatible with Quaker beliefs, and advocated the emancipation of slaves. Coffin's parents probably met Woolman in 1767 during religious meetings near their New Garden home with other non-slaveholding Quaker families. Coffin's cousin, Vestal Coffin, also probably attended the meeting. Vestel was one of the earliest Quakers to help slaves escape North Carolina, beginning as early as 1819.



Coffin grew up working on his father's farm and received little, if any, formal education. He was frequently exposed to slaves throughout his childhood and sympathized with their condition. According to his own account, he became an abolitionist at age seven when he asked a slave who was in a chain gang why he was bound. The man replied that it was to prevent him from escaping and returning to his wife and children. The event disturbed Coffin who often considered the possibility of his own father being taken from him in a similar fashion. By age fifteen, Coffin was helping his family assist escaping slaves by taking food to those hiding on his farm. As the repressive Fugitive Slave Act became more rigorously enforced, the family began conducting their assistance to slaves with greater secrecy and doing most of their illegal activities at night. Scrutiny of the abolitionists only worsened with the passage of the 1804 Black Laws. By the early 1820s, Quakers in North Carolina were being openly persecuted for the assistance they were suspected of providing to runaway slaves.

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