Alexander King was an abolitionist in Ashtabula County, Ohio and assisted John Brown in planning his attack on the federal arsenal located in Harper's Ferry, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia).
King was born in 1818, in Madison, New York. He spent most of his youth in Oneida, New York, before moving with his family to Chautauqua, New York in 1833. In 1851, King moved to Cherry Valley Township in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Here, he found employment manufacturing cabinet hardware.
While a teenager in Chautauqua, King became an abolitionist. He continued his anti-slavery activities upon relocating to Ohio. A member of the Baptist Church, King denounced people who believed that the Bible sanctioned slavery. Illustrating the limited abolitionist support in Ohio, King's church expelled him for his beliefs. Undaunted, King continued to advocate abolitionism. In 1859, he assisted John Brown in planning this abolitionist's attack on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia. King stored weapons for Brown's assault in a building that he owned. Brown also spent the last night before he left Ohio for Harper's Ferry in King's home.
King represents the growing tensions over slavery between Northerners and Southerners during the early nineteenth century. His life also illustrates the fact that many Northerners, including Ohioans, strongly objected to abolitionist efforts to free the slaves. Many Northerners were racist or feared the loss of employment opportunities if slavery ended and African Americans relocated to the North.
- "Alexander King Account of Abolitionist Activities." The Wilbur H. Siebert Underground Railroad Collection. The Ohio Historical Society. Columbus, OH. (http://cdm267401.cdmhost.com/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/siebert&CISOPTR=790&REC=14)