Quakers pioneered social enterprise. They were also the first to fail: How hard was it to opt out of the slave economy in the U.S. before the Civil War? Pretty hard, as the "free produce" movement discovered: In 1829... the members of [the Female Association for Promoting the Manufacture and Use of Free Cotton] reported their contractors had spun 2,515 pounds of cotton. Compared to the approximately 78 million pounds of cotton produced across the country in the year 1800 alone, it was a drop in the bucket. The economics of slavery previously.
In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass wrote of his early days in New York City after his escape from slavery:
Thank Heaven, I remained but a short time in this distressed situation. I was relieved from it by the humane hand of Mr. DAVID RUGGLES. [...] Mr. Ruggles was then very deeply engaged in the memorable Darg case, as well as attending to a number of other fugitive slaves, devising ways and means for their successful escape; and, though watched and hemmed in on almost every side, he seemed to be more than a match for his enemies.[more inside]
In 1865, after the end of the Civil War, Col. P. H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdon Anderson, asking him to return to work for him. In reply, Jourdon Anderson told Colonel Anderson exactly where he could stick his offer. This letter was part of The Freedmen's Book (full download in many different formats) which was distributed to those freed after and during the Civil War, so that they would know stories of other freedmen who had done well, including Touissant L'Ouverture, Phillis Wheatley and Frederick Douglass. The book was put together and published by Lydia Maria Child, abolitionist, women's rights activist, Indian rights campaigner and all around awesome person. She became famous in her own time for her cookbook The Frugal Housewife, but today her best known work is Over the River and Through the Woods. The Freedmen's Book was part of an effort by abolitionists after the war to educate freed slaves. The American Antiquarian Society has a great website about that movement, Northern Visions of Race, Region and Reform, which has plenty of primary sources and images galore.
Darwin the abolitionist. "The theory of evolution is regarded as a triumph of disinterested scientific reason. Yet, on the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species, new research reveals that Darwin was driven to the idea of common descent by a great moral cause." [Via]
Why is the elephant the symbol of the GOP? In large part, we can thank cartoonist Thomas Nast, who, on November 7 of 1874, published this cartoon, showing Republicans as a rampaging elephant tearing up the flimsy planks of the Democratic Party. He wasn't just a man who made elephants though; considered to be the father of political cartooning, Nast's illustrations helped bring down Boss Tweed, argued for the abolition of slavery, and hated the Irish.