In his book, The Underground Railroad in Connecticut, Horatio T. Strother’s explores and unveils the heroic actions that David Ruggles, an agent on the Underground Railroad, took to ensure the freedom of countless runaway slaves. Ruggles involvement stretched far and wide. He is perhaps most noted for his work in the Massachusetts area, specifically, Florence, Massachusetts. Horatio Strother identifies and glorifies David Ruggles for his involvement the escape of James, a fugitive slave. When asked where he wanted to go, James replied: “I did not care where I went so long as I was safe.” Freedom was the only important thing to James. Already engaged in the Underground Railroad, local agents for the Railroad decided that James should be passed along to David Ruggles.
“They held a meeting that day, and decided to send me to Springfield, Massachusetts…and took me down to the steamboat and started me for New York, Giving me a letter directed to David Ruggles, of New York” (57).
David Ruggles was James’s savor. James found David Ruggles and was granted the opportunity to spend the weekend resting and recuperating. Ruggles received James with extreme graciousness and care. James remembers this experience fondly. Although James was resting, David Ruggles was hard at work deciding and plotting James next move. Ruggles job, as an agent of the Underground Railroad, was to move people from one point to another safely and securely. Although David Ruggles was bending over backwards to make James feel welcomed, his duties never escaped him. David Ruggles was quick to develop and a plan to move James closer to freedom and further from the institution of slavery. When he thought that James was ready, “…Ruggles put him on a steamer to Hartford, with letters to a Mr. Foster in that city and Dr. Osgood in Springfield. James was by now pretty well in the clear…”(57). David Ruggles recharged James’s batteries and uplifted his spirits.
Horatio Struthers uses James story is just one example as just one example of David Ruggles selfless actions to help guide runaway slaves to freedom. Although often left out of textbooks and history classes, David Ruggles stands amongst America’s greatest heroes who selflessly fought against absolute injustice-slavery. His importance must not be overlooked or undervalued. We should recognize David Ruggles as an agent of the Underground Railroad that helped aid in the journey of several runaway slaves, guiding them through Florence, Massachusetts and several other areas of Connecticut. David Ruggles helped keep a steady flowing stream of “fugitive” slaves to the north and to their freedom. He was willing to risk everything for men that he never met before. Could you risk your own life for that of strangers? This is a question that could only be answered in the face of the problem and question at hand. David Ruggles answered to the call of abolition with extreme pride and empathy. Putting others before himself, Ruggles embodies the truest definition of selflessness.