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Frances Drake: Leominster freedom fighter

Leominister, Massachusetts resident Frances Drake born in 1814, was a tireless crusader and freedom fighter until the time of her death. Her ultimate goals were to see to the eradication of slavery and to gain the same rights for women which most white men enjoyed freely.

These things she attempted to do from her home during a tumultuous time in American history when it was considered taboo by wealthy white men in the north to openly fight for the overall elimination of slavery. This was mainly because so many businessmen in the north could benefit directly from the practice of slavery itself.[]

Frances Drakes' beliefs and tenacity to fight for the 'moral' right was directly related to her fervent following of William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison was a staunch supporter of the abolition of slavery through the publishing of his anti-slavery paper the Liberator. As a Garrisonian abolitionist, a minority within the overall abolitionism movement, Frances believed in a no holds barred attitude towards slavery which led her to have her home, located at 21 Franklin Street, modified into a safe haven for runaway slaves.

Also known as the underground railway, Drake’s ‘stop’ led to quite possibly the most famous event to ever happen in Leominster’s cultural history. With the capture, subsequent freeing, and eventual harboring at her home of Shadrach Minkins, a fugitive slave who recently made headlines for being the first slave tried under the new Fugitive Slave Act of 1851, Drake proved her level of commitment.

Maintaining the safety and welfare of her charge was of the utmost concern to her. Minkins must have felt that level as well, for after he made it safely to Canada, he sent a hand beaded purse to Frances in thanks. Leominster can claim to be an important link in the ending human bondage due in large part to the tireless efforts of one Mrs. Frances Drake.

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