Author: Norman L. Schools

who helped to found the Moncure Conway Foundation in Falmouth, Virginia, in 2006
ENTRY

Conway, Moncure Daniel (1832–1907)

Moncure Conway was a Methodist minister, Unitarian minister, abolitionist, free thinker, and prolific writer who the historian John d’Entremont describes as “the most thoroughgoing white male radical produced by the antebellum South.” Born into a prominent Virginia slaveholding family, he nevertheless became an outspoken critic of the South’s “peculiar institution,” anguishing over how to reconcile his background with his antislavery convictions in his younger years. He first openly allied himself with abolitionists in July 1854 in the wake of the capture in Boston, Massachusetts, of fugitive slave Anthony Burns, whom Conway claimed to have known in Virginia. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Conway accompanied thirty-one of his father’s slaves, all of whom had escaped to Washington, D.C., on a harrowing train ride to freedom in southwestern Ohio. There he established what came to be known as the Conway Colony; many African Americans continue to live in the area and identify their ancestors as Virginia slaves. In addition, Conway traveled in high literary circles, authoring as many seventy published works, including popular book-length arguments against slavery and important biographies of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Thomas Paine.

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