Historic, but not famous

Sydney Howard Gay (1814–1888) was an American attorney, journalist and abolitionist who was active in New York City. Beginning in 1843, he was editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard for 14 years. His offices became a stop of the Underground Railroad, and he became very active in collaborating with others to help fugitive slaves reach freedom.

Gay worked closely with free black Louis Napoleon, and for about two years kept a detailed record of the approximately 200 men he and Napoleon aided in what is known as the Record of Fugitives. Later records discovered put the number of people assisted by the duo at almost 3000.

Gay’s journalist career led him to be assistant managing editor at The New-York Tribune and kept it a pro-Union paper during the Civil War. Gay defied  Tribune owner Horace Greeley’s command to arm the Tribune building during the 1863 Draft Riots and prevented a mob from burning it to the building to the ground. He eventually worked for the Chicago Tribune, covering the Great Chicago fire of 1971 and returned to New York to serve on the editorial staff of the New York Evening Post.

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