LEARN NC is no longer supported by the UNC School of Education and has been permanently archived. On February 1st, 2018, you will only be able to access these resources through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. We recommend that you print or download resources you may need before February 1st, 2018, after which, you will have to follow these instructions in order to access those resources.

Reminiscences of Levi Coffin



This extended primary source is published to accompany our digital textbook, North Carolina Digital History.

Reminiscences of Levi Coffin: The story of Jack Barnes

Read this work


Levi Coffin (1798-1877) was a Quaker abolitionist who was heavily involved in the Underground Railroad. He spent the first 28 years of his life in Guilford County, North Carolina, before moving to Indiana and later to Ohio. By age 15, Coffin was already assisting runaway slaves in their efforts to become free.

Toward the end of his life, he wrote a memoir entitled Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad: Being a Brief History of the Labors of a Lifetime in Behalf of the Slave, with the Stories of Numerous Fugitives, who Gained Their Freedom Through His Instrumentality, and Many Other Incidents. This excerpt, the second chapter of that book, tells the tale of Coffin’s efforts to secure the freedom of two slaves.