Abraham Doras Shadd

Abraham Doras Shadd was born in Wilmington, Delaware on March 2, 1801.  He was the grandson of a Hans Shadd and a free Black woman, Elizabeth Jackson. In 1775, Hans came to the United States from Hesse Kassel, Germany, as a soldier in the Hessian troops hired by King George III to reinforce the British troops in the French Indian War. He was wounded at Chads Ford and was nursed back to health at the home of Elizabeth Jackson.  Hans married her daughter, also named Elizabeth.  They had two sons, Hans and Jeremiah. Jeremiah was the father of Abraham Shadd.


Abraham married Harriett Parnell from North Carolina. He fathered 13 children and earned a respectable living as a shoemaker, a trade he learned from his father.

Abraham opposed the African Colonization Society for its support of Black deportation of Liberia. He believed that education, thrift and hard work would enable Black to acheive racial equality.  He argued for the entitlement to civil rights Black Americans should have as a result of their contributions in the building of the country. Shadd conducted anti-slavery and Underground Railroad activity from his homes in Wilmington, Delaware and West Chester, Pennsylvania. He was a prominent historical figure whose accomplishments not only include a conductor on the Underground Railroad, he was also, elected President of the National Convention for the Improvement of Free People of Colour in 1833 and was an active participant in the founding of the American Anti-Slavery Society.  In 1853, he moved his considerable family and settled in the North Buxton area where he was the first black man elected to a political office (Counselor of Raleigh Township) in 1858 and he remained active in the Anti-Slavery Movement.

The successes of his children include: Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893), educator, lawyer and journalist; I.D. Shadd, member of the Mississippi Legislature from 1871-74; Abraham W. Shadd, graduate of Howard Law School; Emaline Shadd, professor at Howard University.

In 1994, the road that traverses the heart of North Buxton was named A. D. Shadd Road in his honour. In 2009, Canada Post created a commemorative stamp featuring Abraham Doras Shadd, confirming his importance in Canadian history.

The picture above was drawn by descendent Ellen Robbins, using a photograph as her model.