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Rev. Calvin Fairbank
|Born||November 3, 1816
Pike, New York
|Died||October 12, 1898 (aged 81)
Angelica, New York
|Alma mater||Oberlin College|
|Notable work(s)||Rev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times|
|Spouse(s)||(1) Mandana Tileston
(2) Adeline Winegar
Early life 
Born in Pike, in what is now Wyoming County, New York, Fairbank grew up in an intensely religious family environment. Listening to the stories told by two escaped slaves whom he met at a Methodist quarterly meeting, he became strongly anti-slavery. He began his career freeing slaves in 1837 when, piloting a lumber raft down the Ohio River, he ferried a slave across the river to free territory. Soon he was delivering runaway slaves to the Quaker abolitionist Levi Coffin for transportation on the Underground Railroad to northern U.S. cities or to Canada.
Methodist Episcopal Church 
The Methodist Episcopal Church licensed Fairbank to preach in 1840 and fully ordained him in 1842. Hoping to improve his education, he enrolled in 1844 in the "preparatory division" of Oberlin Collegiate Institute, now Oberlin College, a center of anti-slavery sentiment.
Gilson Berry 
Responding to an appeal to rescue the wife and children of an escaped slave named Gilson Berry, Fairbank left Oberlin for Lexington, Kentucky, where he made contact with Delia Webster, a teacher from Vermont who was to help with the rescue. Berry's wife failed to meet Fairbank as planned, so he and Webster set their sights on freeing Lewis Hayden and his family.
The Haydens 
Fairbank and Webster successfully delivered Hayden, his wife Harriet and Harriet's son Joseph to freedom in Ohio, then returned to Kentucky where they were identified and arrested for assisting the runaway slaves.
Webster was tried in December 1844 and sentenced to two years in the state penitentiary, but served less than two months of her sentence. Fairbank was tried in 1845 and received a 15-year term, five years for each of the slaves he helped free.
In 1851, Fairbank helped a slave named Tamar escape from Kentucky to Indiana. On November 9, with the connivance of the sheriff of Clark County, Indiana and Indiana Governor Joseph A. Wright, marshals from Kentucky abducted Fairbank and took him back to their state for trial. In 1852, he was again sentenced to 15 years in the state penitentiary, where he was singled out as a target for exceptionally harsh treatment that included flogging and overwork.
Imprisonment effects 
Over a combined period of 19 years, Fairbanks was reported to have received 35,000 lashes in prison. In a April 5, 1850 The Liberator Fairbanks letter written to Garrison is summarized: "He expresses gratitude to the people of Boston, indicates an intention to write a book about his experiences, and indicates that letters to him can be sent in care of Lewis Hayden."
Once free, Fairbank married Mandana Tileston, to whom he had become engaged during his brief period of freedom in 1851. Known as "Dana," she moved from Williamsburg, Massachusetts, to Oxford, Ohio, in order to visit Fairbank in prison as often as possible and to press the case for his pardon with the Governor of Kentucky. Their only child, Calvin Cornelius Fairbank, was born in 1868.
The conditions of Fairbank's life in prison broke his health. Although he held jobs with missionary and benevolent societies, he was not able to support his family. At one point, he and his wife tried to earn a living operating a bakery in the utopian community of Florence, Massachusetts. Mandana Fairbank died of tuberculosis in 1876 and the couple's son was raised by her sister and brother-in-law. Fairbank remarried in 1879, but little is known of his second wife, Adeline Winegar.
Fairbank's memoirs were published in 1890 under the title Rev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times: How He "Fought the Good Fight" to Prepare "the Way." Unhappily, this effort earned him little money. He died in near-poverty in Angelica, New York, and is buried there in the Until the Day Dawn Cemetery. He is generally credited with helping free 47 slaves.
Push for posthumous pardon 
See also 
- Harriet Tubman
- Sojourner Truth
- List of African-American abolitionists
- Slavery in Canada
- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
- Westfield, Indiana
- John Cheves (March 20, 2010). "Kentucky men lobby state to absolve slave saviours". Vancouver Sun.
- "Lewis Hayden Clothing Store Opened". The Liberator. September, 1849. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Calvin Fairbank, (the one finally with 35,000 lashes on his back), writes to Garrison". The Liberator. April 5, 1850. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- Coleman, J. Winston (July 1943). "Delia Webster and Calvin Fairbank, Underground Railroad Agents". Filson Club Historical Quarterly 17 (3). Retrieved 2011-12-06.
- Rev. Calvin Fairbank during slavery times : how he "fought the good fight" to prepare "the way" Edited from his manuscript. Chicago: R.R. McCabe (1890). Reprint: New York: Negro Universities Press (1969) ISBN 0-8371-2690-8; Reprint: St. Paul, MN: Reprint Services Corp. ISBN 0-7812-8126-1
- Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone (eds), Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. 3, Part 2, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1959, p. 247.
- Frances K. Eisan, Saint or Demon? The Legendary Delia Webster Opposing Slavery, New York: Pace University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-944473-41-5
- Randolph Paul Runyon, Delia Webster and the Underground Railroad, Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8131-1966-9
- Joel Strangis, Lewis Hayden and the War Against Slavery, North Haven, CN: Linnet Books, 1999. ISBN 0-208-02430-1
- Anti-Slavery Prisoners in the Kentucky State Penitentiary 1844-1870
- Scanned Text: Rev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times
- Levi Coffin's "Memoir of Calvin Fairbank"
- Underground Railroad Indiana: Calvin Fairbank
- National Park Service: Aboard the Underground Railroad
- National Geographic: Underground Railroad
- Find A Grave Profile: Calvin Fairbank
- Find A Grave Profile: Mandana Tileston Fairbank
- Calvin Fairbank family history on Rootsweb
- Video of gravesite reading of Calvin Fairbank's memoir.