David Ruggles

David Ruggles (1810-1849), a free black man, was born and educated in Norwich, Connecticut. In 1827 he moved to New York, where he worked as a grocer. In 1834 he opened a printing and book shop that specialized in abolitionist literature. Ruggles became active in the New York antislavery movement, serving as a writer, lecturer, and traveling agent for the reform publication Emancipator and Journal of Public Morals. He also was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, editor of the Genius of Freedom and the Mirror of Liberty, and secretary to the New York Vigilance Committee. His career in the antislavery movement ended abruptly in 1842 when temporary blindness, an illness that would plague him for the remainder of his life, forced him to curtail his activities and seek medical attention. At the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Florence, Massachusetts, he underwent hydrotherapy, which temporarily relieved his blindness. Soon thereafter he began a new career as a hydrotherapist in Northampton, Massachusetts, treating such celebrated individuals as Sojourner Truth and William Lloyd Garrison. His reputation as a hydrotherapist gave him a prominence that rivaled his stature as an abolitionist. NASS, 20 December 1849; Lib., 21 December 1849; New York Evangelist, 27 December 1849; ASB, 29 December 1849; NS, 1 February 1850; Penn, Afro-American Press, 118; DANB, 536-38.

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