Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D.

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

History, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Steve Peraza

Department Home page

First Reader

Steve Peraza

Second Reader

Kenneth S. Mernitz


The movement to end slavery is commonly known as the abolitionist movement. As a city located next to the Canadian border, Buffalo was a major route on the Underground Railroad. Sadly, when researching abolitionism and the Underground Railroad, national research seems to gloss over Buffalo. If Buffalo makes an appearance in national history books on this topic it is usually only a mention of being an Underground Railroad route into Canada. If historians mention Upstate New York, they usually focus on Frederick Douglass’s home of Rochester. Using the accounts of abolitionists, fugitive slaves, newspapers, community activists, and guest speakers, it becomes clear that by the 1850s Buffalo was at the forefront of a new wave of abolitionism. This new wave is distinguishable from what came before it by, advocating for, and taking radical action to end slavery. One of these actions was helping those attempting to escape slavery. This author intends to analyze both primary and secondary sources, from 1830-1859, that pertain to any abolitionist lecture, convention, debate, newspaper, or activity such as helping fugitive slaves, happening in the Buffalo area. This study will use these sources to show the development of increasing escalation in abolitionist activity and rhetoric in Buffalo, which can be traced back to the 1830s. With this new information, this study intends to inform readers about how Buffalo was more than just an Underground Railroad route. It was a leading city in this new wave of abolitionism.