Berlin marks Juneteenth

Berlin’s rich abolitionist history was detailed at the town’s Juneteenth celebration, held Saturday, June 18 at Berlin-Peck Memorial Library.

Now a national holiday, Juneteenth marks the day the last enslaved people learned of their emancipation.

Research has uncovered Berlin’s ties to the Underground Railroad, and Mayor Mark Kaczynski recently signed a proclamation recognizing the Milo Hotchkiss house and its role in sheltering people escaping the hardships of slavery.

In a social media post, the Historical Society wrote:

Yesterday at Berlin’s Juneteenth celebration we talked about known abolitionists of our town. Much attention is paid to the Milo Hotchkiss house in Kensington, but there was another outspoken anti-slavery advocate, Deacon Daniel Galpin (1756-1844). At the time, he lived in this house (pictured), now at 914 Worthington Ridge.

After Galpin’s death, the house was moved a short distance so the church could be built on the site in 1850.

Galpin had a wood working shop in his house, and posted a sign in the window that stated: “Anti-Slavery Books for Sale Here.” The sign was quickly torn down by someone who disapproved, but that did not stop Galpin from being outspoken all his life.

In 1843 he wrote letters to the editor in response to an op-ed by John Quincy Adams. The former president addressed his letter to the people of the U.S., essentially saying that the sin of slavery was a matter upon which we should not judge those who don’t think it is a sin.

Galpin fired back, writing: “Therefore, if you see a thief, and know that stolen property is in his possession, are you not to denounce him as a thief, if he thinks differently from you?“

He added: “I stood beside Washington when the British were driven out of Boston Harbor in 1776 … God had shielded my head in battle, and permitted me to see independence secured. He has spared my life to old age ... I am now engaged in a cause, which I consider of much greater magnitude than the achievement of our national independence. For we know, if we had made no resistance to Great Britain, or been conquered, our situation would not be one-tenth part so bad as that of 3 million people born in this boasted land of liberty.”

Sponsored by B.E.A.T. (Berlin Equity Action Team), the Juneteenth library event featured music by Sienna Alexis, book displays, coloring for children, educational presentations, refreshments, and more.


More From This Section