candle16
"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
- Chinese proverb


We chose "Candle in the Window" as our name and mission because in the times of fleeing American slavery, a desperate man or woman knew they would get help at a home if they saw a light burning in the window. Today, women in dire situations need that same kind of life-line, offering free, selfless help and not encouragement to pit one life against another.

Brief History of Abolition, the Underground Railroad and other relief efforts.
In the 1830s a handful of people shook up the American North from its indifference toward slavery. With the U.S. Congress maintaining a "gag" order on the subject, and frustrated abolitionists fighting among themselves, the peaceful united movement collapsed by 1840. From then till the Civil War (1861) there were 3 strands of Abolitionist: anti-political pacifists, political reformers, and violent revolutionaries. The Political group ran their first presidential candidate (James Gillespie Birney) in 1840 after Whig candidate William Henry Harrison backtracked and said he was "personally against slavery" but that he could not impose his views on the nation. Meanwhile the Pacifists would continue to shun politics, although writers like William Lloyd Garrison gave the South the impression of impending violence. The Violent wing would also give Abolition a bad name by defending a printing press with weapons (abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy was killed doing so) and then with John Brown's violent raid at Harper's Ferry.

When did men and women resort to the Underground Railroad?
Attempted escapes were few before 1840. But once it became clear that the government would remain unwilling to discuss Abolitionist reasoning, enslaved men and women increasingly took matters into their own hands. They had already been patient for years, despite hearing legends about freedom in a land called Canada. With the breakdown of the united Abolitionist movement in 1840 and fewer calls for patience they began to escape in larger and larger numbers.

Rather than recognize the underlying problems of fear and desperateness, the Federal Government supported slaveholders.
They tightened the laws and penalties, and put a great deal of money into capturing runaways. Instead they could have worked toward bringing about a welcoming, diverse, and non-threatening society. “it’s us or them!” was not a choice that needed to be made. Government authorities at the time even expected ordinary citizens to act against their consciences and turn over men and women that had come to them for help.

Regardless of their disagreements between methods, all 3 abolitionist factions would provide shelter for the growing number of people seeking freedom. During the 20 years before the Civil War, more than 30,000 men and women would escape to Canada. Perhaps more than 100,000.

How did they do it? Many were aided by people who opened their homes to them along the way.

In more recent history,
brave men and women have made it their business to provide shelter and help for people who chose not to harm others in saving their own lives. Countries have included Armenia, Germany, Rwanda, Vietnam, Cuba, Korea, China, the then-Soviet Union, Serbia and others. The many genocides of the 20th century weren't only damaging to the victims. The perpetrators themselves did things they'd regret -- and which have taken decades to overcome and find healing, if they've even been able to reach that point; many have not. So many nations still live under the stigma of what they did to their defenseless victims and the damage is no less real at the individual level.

Won't you open your door and offer alternatives to young women who might otherwise do something unnecessary that many regret for the rest of their lives?

candle16