Freedom Fighters

Clarina Howard NicholsCLARINA HOWARD NICHOLS was a newspaper editor from Windham County. She is best known in Vermont as a crusader for women’s causes. In 1852 she became the first woman to be allowed to speak publicly in the State House, where she addressed her audience about women’s rights and their unequal status. (Watch a reenactment of this event in the film shown in the museum theater.)

Like other women of the era, Nichols was also an abolitionist. She actively participated in the Free Soil movement when she moved with a group of Vermonters to Lawrence, Kansas. There they worked to make sure that when Kansas entered the Union, it would be a free soil state that didn’t allow slavery. “Bloody Kansas,” as it was known, became a battleground between abolitionists and supporters of slavery. Nichols continued her efforts for women’s suffrage in Kansas, unfortunately with the same unsuccessful
outcome as in Vermont. She eventually moved
on to California, where she spent the rest of her life.

LOUDEN S. LANGLEY of Hinesburg, Vermont wrote a series of letters to newspaper editors expressing his views in the 1850s and 1860s. He identified himself as a man of color. On April 27, 1854 he lashed out at the Vermont Colonization Society for their vain attempts to send former slaves to the new colony of Liberia in Africa. He warned his fellow free men of color to beware of the colonizationists, as they were prejudiced against blacks. He recommended that the Society should “lend their influence in favor of giving us ‘liberty and equal rights’ in the land of our birth.” Langley would later write about the unfair treatment he and his brothers received while serving in the famous 54th Massachusetts Colored Regiment during the Civil War.

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