Prior to the Civil War, New Richmond citizens participated actively in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. In 1836, James G. Birney published The Philanthropist, an abolitionist newspaper, in New Richmond before moving publication to Cincinnati. Local tradition tells of Jim, a slave living in Kentucky who was given permission from his master to visit his parents in New Richmond. He aided his friend Joe, a fugitive slave, by packing him in a box and placing him on a riverboat headed to New Richmond. Famed Cincinnati abolitionist Levi Coffin recorded, "A few abolitionist - white men - who lived near were called into see the fugitive and to advise in regard to his safety." Joe was taken from Jim's parents' home to Cincinnati where Levi Coffin purchased him a train ticket to Sandusky, from where he traveled to Canada.