Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DYER, Charles Volney, Abolitionist, born in Clarendon, Vermont, 12 June 1808; died at Lake View, near Chicago, 24 April 1878. He was graduated at the medical department of Middlebury College in 1830, and began practice in Newark, New Jersey, in 1831, but removed in 1835 to Chicago, and soon became acting surgeon in Fort Dearborn. He was successful in his practice and business adventures, retiring from the former in 1854, and becoming agent for the "underground railroad" in Chicago. One instance illustrates the courage of Dr. Dyer: In 1846 a fugitive from Kentucky was caught in Chicago by his master and an armed posse, bound tightly with ropes, and guarded while a man went for a blacksmith to rivet the manacles that were to be put upon him. Dr. Dyer, hearing of the arrest, went hurriedly to the Mansion house and to the room where the victim was confined, burst open the door, cut the cords, and told the fugitive to go, which he did before his captors recovered from their surprise and bewilderment at such unexpected and summary proceedings. A bully, with brandishing Bowie knife, rushed toward the doctor, who stood his ground and knocked down his assailant with his cans. Sympathizing friends subsequently presented the doctor a gold headed hickory cane of gigantic proportions, appropriately inscribed, which is now in the library of the Chicago historical society.
At an antislavery convention in 1846 at Chicago, Dr. Dyer was chairman of the committee for establishing the "National Era" at Washington, an organ of the Abolition party, established 7 January 1847. Dr. Dyer had a genial nature, which manifested itself in ready witticisms and pleasant conversation, except when he chanced to come in contact with shams, impostors, or hypocrites, for which he had a most profound contempt and abundant words to express his detestation. In recognition of Dr. Dyer's sterling integrity and the great service he had rendered the cause of antislavery, President Lincoln, who knew him well, appointed him in 1863 judge of the mixed court at Sierra Leone, for the suppression of the slave trade, after which appointment he passed two years traveling in Europe.
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