A True Martyr Is Buried in New Bedford
Following an interview about Star in the East Masonic Lodge's historic tour of Rural Cemetery, I became interested in looking up someone buried in the Dartmouth Street cemetery who had the makings of someone with the right stuff.
You probably have never heard of Captain Daniel Drayton. He was a coastal trader who shipped goods and passengers. In the historic story of Drayton, his "passengers" were slaves. Drayton came to the decision that slavery was despicable and evil, and he wanted to to turn his thoughts into actions.
On the evening of April 15, 1848, 77 slaves boarded the Pearl, a 54-ton bay-craft schooner anchored in the Potomac River, as part of a daring attempt to sail to freedom. This bold endeavor is the single largest nonviolent escape effort ever made by enslaved African Americans. They almost made it.
The expression "Loose lips sink ships" is fitting here, because the escape attempt was revealed to several ship owners and authorities, who stopped the defection and arrested Drayton, who spent the next four years wasting away in a decrepit prison.
When he was released, Drayton was very weak, demoralized and cast down, and remained in that painful state of body and mind for the next five years. In the summer of 1857, in low spirits, Captain Drayton came back to New Bedford, a port city he was very familiar with, and sadly ended his life.
According to the collected works of the New Bedford Historical Society, "Black activist Henry Remington and the New Bedford Union Club, an organization of men of color, paid for the perpetual care of Drayton's lot, and Navy chaplain Photius Fisk donated funds for the creation of a monument," dedicated to an abolitionist and exemplar, Captain Daniel Drayton, who is buried in New Bedford's Rural Cemetery.