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Milton Metcalf Fisher was born in Franklin, Massachusetts, on January 30, 1811, to Caroline Fairbanks and William Fisher. His father was descended from one of the town’s founders. An active abolitionist from a young age, Fisher was a delegate in 1833 to the first anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society. To observe the practice of slavery in person, he traveled to Virginia and back during 1834. In 1840, Fisher moved to Medway, Massachusetts. He became a deacon and gained prominence in the town through his political and social activities. He served on the Massachusetts Senate from 1859-1860, and in 1863, was elected Commissioner for Norfolk County, Massachusetts, and served in that capacity until 1872. He died on April 20, 1903.
“Amherst College Class of 1836,” Amherst College Biographical Record, Centennial Edition (1821-1921), http://www.amherst.edu/~rjyanco94/genealogy/acbiorecord/1836.html (accessed September 26, 2007).E. O. Jameson, “Hon. Milton Metcalf Fisher, A. M.,” Norfolk County MA Archives Biographies, http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/ma/norfolk/bios/fisher5gbs.txt (accessed September 26, 2007).J. C. Gallison, “Franklin and Wrentham,” New England Magazine 21.3 (Nov. 1899), Making of America, http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/ (accessed September 26, 2007).Additional information derived from the collection.
This journal chronicles abolitionist Milton M. Fisher’s 1834 journey from his home in Franklin, Massachusetts, to Virginia, and back. The trip, taken for both health reasons and as an information gathering expedition for anti-slavery efforts, took Fisher through numerous northern states, the Mid-Atlantic region (including Maryland and Delaware), and Washington, D.C., to Virginia. Along the way he commented on the various towns, cities, and institutions he visited and recorded conversations with locals including both free and enslaved African-Americans.
After leaving home on April 21, 1834, Milton Fisher first visited, by horseback or horse-drawn railroad, numerous towns in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He sketched the plans of both Hartford and Brooklyn, Connecticut. Fisher also visited New Haven, Connecticut, on his way to New York City. From there, Fisher traveled through New Jersey, stopping in Newark and Trenton. He then visited Philadelphia and its suburbs as well as cities and towns in Delaware and Maryland including Wilmington and Baltimore. He next journeyed to Washington, D.C., and several towns in Virginia. A map of Mount Vernon is sketched into the journal. Fisher returned to New England through Maryland, Western Pennsylvania, and New York State. Cities he visited on this portion of the trip include Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Buffalo, and Rochester. He finally visited Niagara Falls and Canada before returning to Franklin on August 14, 1834. The last entry of the journal is dated August 29.
Fisher's journey south was taken partly for health, but also seems to have been a canvassing trip which allowed him to gather information about slavery and to distribute pamphlets of the American Anti-Slavery Society. His commentary took in road conditions, lodgings, sites and businesses of each town, local politics, sermons, and conversations. In his journal, Fisher recounted several conversations about slavery, antislavery events, and his own observations and interviews of slaves in Maryland and Virginia. In Delaware City, Delaware, he conversed with an African-American preacher, C.N.W. Cannon, who had refused to be relocated to Liberia. At Mount Vernon Fisher he met an elderly female slave who had had nine of her eleven children sold in the slave trade. During his journey, Fisher also visited many museums, historical sites (including the Waterworks at Fairmount, Philadelphia), churches, a "deaf and dumb asylum," a retreat for the insane, and activist societies. In Washington, D.C., on June 2, he heard the Senate debate a resolution presented by Henry Clay and recorded his impression of every senator who spoke.
A newspaper clipping is pasted to the endpaper of the volume with the autograph caption “Nov. 9. 1900 from Medway Gazette.” It describes an interview with Fisher about his long life of political activity and his opinion of the 1900 presidential election.
University of Delaware. Library.Self works : diaries, scrapbooks, and other autobiographical efforts : catalog of an exhibition, August 19, 1997-December 18, 1997 : guide to selected sources. Newark, Del. : Special Collections, Hugh M. Morris Library, University of Delaware Library, 1997.
- Item 0028: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097
Processed and Encoded by Kate Hand, September 2007. Updated by E. Evan Echols, March 2014.
- Abolitionists--United States--History--19th century
- Antislavery movements--United States--History--19th century
- Voyages and travels--History--19th century
- Connecticut--Description and travel
- Delaware--Description and Travel
- Maryland--Description and travel
- Massachusetts--Description and travel
- New Jersey--Description and travel
- New York (N.Y.)--Description and travel
- New York (State)--Description and travel
- Pennsylvania--Description and travel
- Virginia--Description and travel
- Washington (D.C.)--Description and travel
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2014 March 25
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
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