News Release

News and Public Information Office
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Miami University
Oxford, Ohio 45056
(513) 529-7592
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NEW BOOK ON UNDERGROUND RAILROAD HEROINE

11/07/1996

OXFORD, Ohio -- A somewhat unknown heroine of the anti-slavery movement is

brought to life in Delia Webster and the Underground Railroad, (University

Press of Kentucky) a new book by Randolph Paul Runyon, a professor of French

at Miami University.

In 1844, Webster, who taught at several young women's schools in Kentucky,

and Methodist preacher Calvin Fairbank helped sneak slaves to freedom.

The first man they freed, Lewis Hayden, went on to become a prominent Boston

businessman, but Webster and Fairbank were jailed.

After a pardon and release, Webster secretly continued to assist runaway

slaves. Her activities and trial in Lexington made her notorious enough that

newspapers wrote about her travels. Webster was brought to trial on the same

counts 10 years later by an allegedly spurned suitor--her former jailer--

who re-opened charges.

"A beautifully written telling of a passionate story. Runyon truly exemplifies

the historian as detective," said Thomas H. Appleton Jr., editor of the "Register

of the Kentucky Historical Society."

Runyon, a Maysville, Ky., native who has taught in Miami's department of

French and Italian since 1977, is also the author of Reading Raymond Carver

and The Braided Dream: Robert Penn Warren's Late Poetry.

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