Lewis Hayden was born a slave in Lexington, Kentucky in 1816. After escaping on the Underground Railroad to Detroit, he moved to Boston with his wife Harriet, and soon became a leader in the abolitionist movement. In Boston, Hayden’s political activities were based in the store he operated on Cambridge Street, and in his Phillips Street home.
Hayden and his wife, Harriet, used their home as a station on the Underground Railroad. They kept two kegs of gun powder in their basement, saying that they would rather blow up the house than surrender the ex-slaves they hid. During the Civil War, Hayden served as a recruiting agent for the 54th Regiment. He was elected to the State legislature in 1873. Mr. Hayden held the position of Messenger to the Secretary of State until he died.