Margaret Palm

Margaret Palm (born ca. 1836[1]) was an African-American woman. She lived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with her husband and son during the middle nineteenth century. She was a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. She was called "Maggie Bluecoat" for the blue military uniform coat (ca. 1812) she wore while guiding slaves to safety.[2] She always carried a gun to protect herself and her passengers.[3]

Nineteenth century photo of Margaret Palm.She is showing how slave catchers who tried to kidnap her tied her hands.

Palm was so notorious for helping slaves escape that on several occasions slave-owners from Maryland attempted to kidnap her and sell her into slavery to put an end to her practices. David Schick, whose father was Palm’s employer, recounted one of these episodes:

“She lived up Long Lane, back of the old fair grounds. On this occasion she was attacked by a group of men who made the attempt to kidnap her and take her south where they expected to sell her and derive quite a profit. She was a powerful woman, and they would have, from the sale, derived quite a profit. These men succeeded in tying Mag’s hands...She was fighting them as best as she could with her hands tied. She would attempt to slow them and succeeded in one instance in catching [an attacker’s] thumb in her mouth and bit the thumb off. John Karseen, who was crippled and ran a novelty shop on Baltimore Street, happened along at just the right time and by using his crutch was able to assist Mag in her fight with these kidnappers and drove them off and freed her from her bonds.” She escaped.[2] When she heard the two strangers had returned to Gettysburg, she ran home and got a shotgun.[4]


  1. Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2008). The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations. p. 396. ISBN 9780765680938.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Historic People & Places of Gettysburg" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-01. Retrieved 2014-09-13.
  3. "Margaret "Mag" Palm, Conductor on the Underground Railroad". knowledge equals black power: website. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  4. Gettysburg's Greatest