Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this story.

David Ruggles had taken down some of the toughest slave holders and their fugitive slave kidnapping lackeys in the business. This slightly built, rather sickly, bespectacled African-American writer and anti-slavery activist was one of the most hated men in late 1830s New York. His life was a series of “firsts” – owner of the first black bookstore and library in New York, publisher of the first black periodical, and more. He and his activist associates, both black and white, formed the New York Committee of Vigilance.

They had taken anti-slavery opposition beyond the genteel outrage of the meeting hall and the broadsheet, and were doing their best to physically liberate any slave brought to New York City by a Southern master. They also worked with the legal system to free those captured by slave catchers and tossed in prison while awaiting extradition to Southern shores. These activities had earned him the hatred of those who profited from the slave trade, as well as the ire of his abolitionist peers, many of whom thought he went too far, too fast.

David Ruggles’ house in Florence, Mass. Photo via

David Ruggles’ story can be found in the previous chapters of this story, linked below. When we left him last time, he had lost most of his money, his home, and his job. He had also found out that the cause of righteousness could be much more complicated than he thought. Like many dedicated activists to a cause, he had made several broad leaps into complicated situations without seeing all sides first, and had suffered the consequences to his livelihood and his reputation. His activities had also taken their toll on his health.


New York City is going to rock around the clock…literally. And Queens is going to pop, blues, jazz, reggae, indie, folk, Latin, experimental, country, gospel and even cabaret. This Saturday, Make Music New York celebrates the first day of summer with a unique festival of free concerts in public spaces throughout the five boroughs, including in cemeteries, gardens, parks, plazas, sidewalks and stoops. Cruise to Corona and check out a children’s bucket orchestra, jaunt off to Jamaica for R&B sensation La’Rayne, or rave into the night at the MMNY After Dark party in Sunnyside. Now in its seventh year, this action will take place simultaneously with similar day-long festivities in more than 500 cities around the world. Details: Make Music New York, June 21,10 am – 10 pm, free; click on the following Queens neighborhoods for their schedules: AstoriaCorona/RidgewoodElmhurstFlushingJackson HeightsJamaicaLICRockaway and Sunnyside.


Even though New York City has the largest Jewish population of any urban area in the U.S., the Israeli national soccer team has not played in the Big Apple for 35 years. This inactivity comes to an end on June 2, when the squad takes the field against “La H,” as the Honduran side is affectionately known. Both teams will use this friendly match to tune up before they play qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in the upcoming weeks. Ranked 59th in the world, Israel has several stars from the English Premiere League, including Yossi Benayoun (Chelsea) and Tal Ben Haim (Queens Park Rangers). Honduras, which played in the 2010 World Cup, is known for festive goal celebrations (above) related to a native dance called “punta.” Details: Citi Field, June 2, 5:30 pm, prices vary, click here for discounted tickets.

Image Source: El Heraldo


Via the Behind the Scenes blog of the New York Historical Society we get this treat in advance of an upcoming exhibit called “BE SURE! BE SAFE! GET VACCINATED! Smallpox, Vaccination and Civil Liberties in New York.” The blog post notes: “The film is based on the real-life story of the 1947 smallpox scare in New York City. An American businessman returning from Mexico was the first to die from the disease, though he was misdiagnosed as having bronchitis. Two others were diagnosed as having smallpox soon after, and all who came in contact with them were required to be vaccinated. The New York City Health Commissioner recommended vaccination to all New Yorkers, and the city provided vaccines for free across the city. Through propaganda and public education the program became incredibly effective, all without encroaching on personal civil liberties, which wouldn’t have been the case had the city instituted mandatory vaccination. Over six million New Yorkers were immunized within a few weeks; according to CNN, ‘Doctors immunized residents at a rate of eight injections per minute – 500,000 in one day. The feared smallpox epidemic was averted.’ The last naturally-occurring case of smallpox was in 1977.”
The Horror of Smallpox! Disease and Film Noir [Behind the Scenes]