William Still and His Impact on Black History

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Working on farms to receiving whippings were just a few things all African Americans had to endure in the time of slavery. However there have been numerous people and events that have been influential in black history. One momentous event is when William Still escaped from slavery. William Still was born on October 7th, 1821, in Burlington County, New Jersey. Still’s original name as William Steel but his father changed it to protect his wife. Unfortunately the Steel family was unable to escape slavery together. After his escape from the life of slavery, William moved to Philadelphia where he learned to read.

He then started to assist fugitive black slaves when being paid to work as a janitor at Pennsylvania’s Society for the Abolition of Slavery. While helping the escapees he wound up disentangling his long lost brother from slavery. In 1972 William wrote The Underground Railroad, which included documents he received from former slaves. This book was crucial because most books on slavery had some bias views written by white abolitionists. After visiting multitudinous escapees in Canada, Still was inspired to launch a desegregation campaign in Pennsylvania railroad cars.

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The campaign was triumphant and caused Pennsylvanian legislature to preclude segregation. William Still served as both President and vice president for the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery. He served as vice president for eight year and President for five. William did not stop there he then organized a YMCA for blacks, an orphanage for children of black sailors and soldiers and the mission Sabbath school. At age 81, in 1902, William Gant Still died of a disease known as Bights disease. However his exploits will never be forgotten.

William Still’s achievements triggered many essential events on the path to abolishment of slavery. As one can see William was a man who did great things for those in need of help throughout his lifetime. However if he had never escaped from slavery his accomplishments may have never occurred. If he had not fled from slavery then there may not have been a chance for the successful escape of six hundred and forty nine slaves nor would his organizations have been formed to help many of those who needed assistance in overcoming the burdens of being former slaves.

America would not be the same if it was not for his continuous strive for the freedom of slavery for the Africa American people. Due to his chance at freedom, African American’s are capable of having equal and independent lives. His achievements were just a few influential moments during black history. If freedom from slavery had never been seized, what would America be like now? Hopefully America will never have to go down that road again

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William Still and His Impact on Black History. (2018, Jan 31). Retrieved from


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