How did the Underground Railroad help African Americans escape slavery?
- The Underground Railroad was a secret network of abolitionists who helped African Americans escape from enslavement in the American South to free Northern states or to Canada. It was the largest anti-slavery freedom movement in North America, having brought between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (Canada).
How did the Underground Railroad help African Americans?
The Underground Railroad was established to aid enslaved people in their escape to freedom. The Underground Railroad also included the smuggling of fugitive slaves onto ships that carried them to ports in the North or outside the United States.
What did slaves do in the Underground Railroad?
Slaves created so-called “freedom quilts” and hung them at the windows of their homes to alert escaping fugitives to the location of safe houses and secure routes north to freedom. 5. The Underground Railroad was a large-scale activity that enabled hundreds of thousands of people to escape their bondage.
Was there an underground railroad during slavery?
During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally.
What role did the Underground Railroad play in the resistance to slavery?
The Underground Railroad—the resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, through the end of the Civil War—refers to the efforts of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom by escaping bondage. Wherever slavery existed, there were efforts to escape.
How did the Underground Railroad impact American history?
The work of the Underground Railroad resulted in freedom for many men, women, and children. It also helped undermine the institution of slavery, which was finally ended in the United States during the Civil War. Many slaveholders were so angry at the success of the Underground Railroad that they grew to hate the North.
How was the Underground Railroad successful?
The success of the Underground Railroad rested on the cooperation of former runaway slaves, free-born blacks, Native Americans, and white and black abolitionists who helped guide runaway slaves along the routes and provided their homes as safe havens.
Where did the Underground Railroad lead to?
Underground Railroad routes went north to free states and Canada, to the Caribbean, into United States western territories, and Indian territories. Some freedom seekers (escaped slaves) travelled South into Mexico for their freedom.
How did the Underground Railroad start?
What Was the Underground Railroad? The earliest mention of the Underground Railroad came in 1831 when enslaved man Tice Davids escaped from Kentucky into Ohio and his owner blamed an “underground railroad” for helping Davids to freedom.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?
Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.
How long did the Underground Railroad take to travel?
The journey would take him 800 miles and six weeks, on a route winding through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, tracing the byways that fugitive slaves took to Canada and freedom.
Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives. Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
While some traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, or through Detroit on their route to Canada, others chose to travel south. The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Ordinary individuals, farmers and business owners, as well as pastors, were the majority of those who operated the Underground Railroad. Several millionaires, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who campaigned for president twice, were involved. For the first time in his life, Smith purchased and freed a whole family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, was one of the earliest recorded individuals to assist fleeing enslaved persons. Beginning in 1813, when he was 15 years old, he began his career.
They eventually began to make their way closer to him and eventually reached him.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
During the American Civil War, the Underground Railroad came to an end about 1863. When it came to the Union fight against the Confederacy, its activity was carried out aboveground. This time around, Harriet Tubman played a critical role in the Union Army’s efforts to rescue the recently liberated enslaved people by conducting intelligence operations and serving in the role of leadership. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ THESE STATEMENTS. Harriet Tubman Led a Brutal Civil War Raid Following the Underground Railroad.
Myths About the Underground Railroad
When it comes to teaching African-American Studies today, one of the great delights is the satisfaction that comes from being able to restore to the historical record “lost” events and the persons whose sacrifices and bravery enabled those events to take place, never to be lost again. Among our ancestors’ long and dreadful history of human bondage is the Underground Railroad, which has garnered more recent attention from teachers, students, museum curators, and the tourism industry than any other institution from the black past.
- Nevertheless, in the effort to convey the narrative of this magnificent institution, fiction and lore have occasionally taken precedence over historical truth.
- The sacrifices and valor of our forefathers and foremothers, as well as their allies, are made all the more noble, heroic, and striking as a result.
- I think this is a common misconception among students.
- As described by Wilbur H.
Running slaves, frequently in groups of up to several families, were said to have been directed at night on their desperate journey to freedom by the traditional “Drinking Gourd,” which was the slaves’ secret name for the North Star.
The Railroad in Lore
Following is a brief list of some of the most frequent myths regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following examples: 1. It was administered by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. 2. The Underground Railroad was active throughout the southern United States. Most runaway slaves who managed to make their way north took refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through tunnels. Fourteenth, slaves made so-called “freedom quilts,” which they displayed outside their homes’ windows to signal fugitives to the whereabouts of safe houses and safe ways north to freedom.
When slaves heard the spiritual “Steal Away,” they knew Harriet Tubman was on her way to town, or that an ideal opportunity to run was approaching.
scholars like Larry Gara, who wrote The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad and Blight, among other works, have worked tirelessly to address all of these problems, and I’ll outline the proper answers based on their work, and the work of others, at the conclusion of this piece.
A Meme Is Born
As Blight correctly points out, the railroad has proven to be one of the most “enduring and popular strands in the fabric of America’s national historical memory.” Since the end of the nineteenth century, many Americans, particularly in New England and the Midwest, have either made up legends about the deeds of their ancestors or simply repeated stories that they have heard about their forebears.
It’s worth taking a look at the history of the phrase “Underground Railroad” before diving into those tales, though.
Tice Davids was a Kentucky slave who managed to escape to Ohio in 1831, and it is possible that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was invented as a result of his successful escape.
According to Blight, he is believed to have said that Davids had vanished as though “the nigger must have gone off on an underground railroad.” This is a fantastic narrative — one that would be worthy of Richard Pryor — but it is improbable, given that train lines were non-existent at the time.
The fleeing slave from Washington, D.C., who was tortured and forced to testify that he had been taken north, where “the railroad extended underground all the way to Boston,” according to one report from 1839, was captured.
constructed from Mason and Dixon’s to the Canada line, upon which fugitives from slavery might come pouring into this province” is the first time the term appears.
14, 1842, in the Liberator, a date that may be supported by others who claim that abolitionist Charles T. Torrey invented the phrase in 1842, according to abolitionist Charles T. Torrey. As David Blight points out, the phrase did not become widely used until the mid-1840s, when it was first heard.
Myth Battles Counter-Myth
Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a handy weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to accomplish this goal.
Immediately following the fall of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to purportedly uneducated or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for independence was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a poor and nameless “inferior” race.
Siebert questioned practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from the South to freedom as part of his investigation.
In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey to freedom.”
Truth Reveals Unheralded Heroism
That’s a little amount of history; what about those urban legends? The answers are as follows: It cannot be overstated that the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement itself were possibly the first examples in American history of a truly multiracial alliance, and the role played by the Quakers in its success cannot be overstated. Despite this, it was primarily controlled by free Northern African Americans, particularly in its early years, with the most notable exception being the famous Philadelphian William Still, who served as its president.
- The Underground Railroad was made possible by the efforts of white and black activists such as Levi Coffin, Thomas Garrett, Calvin Fairbank, Charles Torrey, Harriet Tubman and Still, all of whom were true heroes.
- Because of the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the railroad’s growth did not take place until after that year.
- After all, it was against the law to help slaves in their attempts to emancipate themselves.
- Being an abolitionist or a conductor on the Underground Railroad, according to the historian Donald Yacovone, “was about as popular and hazardous as being a member of the Communist Party in 1955,” he said in an email to me.
- The Underground Railroad was predominantly a phenomena of the Northern United States.
- For the most part, fugitive slaves were left on their own until they were able to cross the Ohio River or the Mason-Dixon Line and thereby reach a Free State.
- For fugitives in the North, well-established routes and conductors existed, as did some informal networks that could transport fugitives from places such as the abolitionists’ office or houses in Philadelphia to other locations north and west.
(where slavery remained legal until 1862), as well as in a few locations throughout the Upper South, some organized support was available.
I’m afraid there aren’t many.
Furthermore, few dwellings in the North were equipped with secret corridors or hidden rooms where slaves might be hidden.
What about freedom quilts?
If a slave family had the resources to construct a quilt, they used it to shield themselves against the cold, and not to relay messages about purported pathways on the Underground Railroad in the North, where they had never gone!
As we will discover in a future column, the danger of treachery about individual escapes and collective rebellions was much too large for escape plans to be publicly shared.5.
No one has a definitive answer.
According to Elizabeth Pierce, an administrator at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, the figure might be as high as 100,000, but that appears to be an overstatement.
We may put these numbers into context by noting that there were 3.9 million slaves and only 488,070 free Negroes in 1860 (with more than half of them still living in the South), whereas there were 434,495 free Negroes in 1850 (with more than half still living in the South).
The fact that only 101 fleeing slaves ever produced book-length “slave narratives” describing their servitude until the conclusion of the Civil War is also significant to keep in mind while thinking about this topic.
However, just a few of them made it to safety.
How did the fugitive get away?
John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, as summarized by Blight, “80 percent of these fugitives were young guys in their teens and twenties who absconded alone on the majority of occasions.
Because of their household and child-rearing duties, young slave women were significantly less likely to flee than older slave women.
Lyford in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had been a long and difficult journey.” 7.
What is “Steal Away”?
They used them to communicate secretly with one another in double-voiced discussions that neither the master nor the overseer could comprehend.
However, for reasons of safety, privacy, security, and protection, the vast majority of slaves who escaped did so alone and covertly, rather than risking their own safety by notifying a large number of individuals outside of their families about their plans, for fear of betraying their masters’ trust.
Just consider the following for a moment: If fleeing slavery had been thus planned and maintained on a systematic basis, slavery would most likely have been abolished long before the American Civil War, don’t you think?
According to Blight, “Much of what we call the Underground Railroad was actually operated clandestinely by African Americans themselves through urban vigilance committees and rescue squads that were often led by free blacks.” The “Underground Railroad” was a marvelously improvised, metaphorical construct run by courageous heroes, the vast majority of whom were black.
Gara’s study revealed that “running away was a terrible and risky idea for slaves,” according to Blight, and that the total numbers of slaves who risked their lives, or even those who succeeded in escaping, were “not huge.” There were thousands of heroic slaves who were helped by the organization, each of whom should be remembered as heroes of African-American history, but there were not nearly as many as we often believe, and certainly not nearly enough.
Approximately fifty-five of the 100 Amazing Facts will be published on the website African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. On The Root, you may find all 100 facts.
The Underground Railroad
As one of the most well-known components of the anti-slavery fight in the nineteenth century, the Underground Railroad is a must-read. Despite the fact that white abolitionists, particularly Quakers, were an integral component of the runaway system, their contributions have been overstated throughout history. Before the Civil War, African Americans were largely responsible for the operation, maintenance, and funding of the Underground Railroad. Wealthier and more educated blacks, such as Philadelphians Robert Purvis and William Whipper, stepped up to provide leadership and legal support.
Despite the fact that the usefulness of the Underground Railroad varied depending on the period and area, there were several successful networks along the east coast.
Between 1830 and 1860, an estimated 9,000 escaped slaves travelled through Philadelphia, according to one estimate.
One of the most well-organized Underground Railroad stations in the United States was located near the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.
The Underground Railroad (1820-1861) •
The smuggling of fugitives during the winter season Charles T. Webber’s novel The Underground Railroad was published in 1893. Images that are in the public domain Underground Railroad was developed to assist oppressed persons in their journey from slavery to liberty. The railroad network was made up of dozens of hidden routes and safe houses that began in slaveholding states and extended all the way to the Canadian border, which was the only place where fugitives could be certain of their freedom.
- As part of the Underground Railroad, slaves were smuggled onto ships that transported them to ports in the northern United States or to countries outside of the United States.
- Though the number of persons who fled through the Underground Railroad between 1820 and 1861 varies greatly depending on who you ask, the most commonly accepted figure is roughly 100,000.
- The railroad employed conductors, among them William Still of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was likely the most well-known of the group.
- Slave-hiding spots were called stations, and stationmasters were individuals who hid slaves in their houses.
- The Underground Railroad functioned as a number of interconnected networks.
- Those responsible for leading the fugitive slaves north did so in stages.
- The “freight” would be transferred on to the next conductor once it reached another stop, and so on until the full journey had been completed.
When the Underground Railroad was successful, it engendered a great deal of hostility among slaveholders and their friends.
The law was misused to a tremendous extent.
Due to the fact that African Americans were not permitted to testify or have a jury present during a trial, they were frequently unable to defend themselves.
However, the Fugitive Slave Act had the opposite effect, increasing Northern opposition to slavery and hastening the Civil War.
A large number of those who escaped became human witnesses to the slave system, with many of them traveling on the lecture circuit to explain to Northerners what life was like as a slave in the slave system.
It was the success of the Underground Railroad in both situations that contributed to the abolition of slavery.
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Cite this article in APA format:
Waggoner, C., and Waggoner, C. (2007, December 03). The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes (1820-1861). BlackPast.org.
Source of the author’s information:
William Still,The Underground Railroad(Chicago, Johnson Publishing Company, 1970) (Chicago, Johnson Publishing Company, 1970) David W. Blight,Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory(Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in collaboration with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 2004); J. Blaine Hudson,Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad(Jefferson, N.C.: McFarlandCo., 2006);
|–||Arnold Gragston,a slave Underground Railroad “conductor,” WPA narrative, ca. 1937, excerpt(PDF)|
|–||John Parker, a free Underground Railroad “conductor,” narrative, 1885, excerpt|
|–||Boston Vigilance Committee, expenses, 1850-1855-Fugitive Slave Aid -Member Expenses|
|–||“Letter to the American Slaves,”convention of free blacks and fugitive slaves,1850, excerpts(PDF)|
Perhaps 100,000 slaves were released between the American Revolution and the Civil War, a small percentage of the total number of slaves who fled. It is the escaping slave, carrying his goods on a stick over his shoulder, who has become an iconic emblem of slavery. In addition, every student of American history is aware with the Underground Railroad, a network of safe havens that served as a conduit for fugitive slaves. What role did African Americans play in the emancipation of slaves? What kind of assistance did they provide to runaways who landed on the free side of the Ohio River, in Boston, or in Canadian territory?
Arnold Gragston and John Parker were African-American “conductors” on the Underground Railroad, who both assisted fugitive slaves in escaping over the Ohio River from Kentucky to freedom in the United States.
If his owner “did know and wanted me to get the slaves away that way so he wouldn’t have to cause hard feelings’ by freeing ’em,” Gragston wonders if he should have done it that way.
We can see the expenses incurred by the Boston Vigilance Committee over a number of years, including providing food to fugitives, printing warnings against slave hunters, hiring carriages to transport fugitives further north, and promoting their committee’s cause, in an account book kept by the committee.
As black newspapers, the “Negro convention” movement, and the abolition movement increased among northern blacks, the subject of how best to aid slaves, fugitives, and freedmen became more essential in their debates (see5: Mutual Benefit) (see5: Mutual Benefit).
The writers address the political realities of the fractured nation, and they criticize free blacks who do not support the fleeing or abolitionist causes, knowing that few, if any, slaves will have access to the letter because of the letter’s secrecy.
“Live! Live in order to be free of slavery! “Despite the fact that we in the north can do nothing more than pray for you, the letter comes to a close. (There are 22 pages total.) Questions for further discussion
- What were the circumstances that helped or hindered a successful escape from slavery
- To what extent did free blacks engage in individual and organizational efforts to assist slaves in the South and fugitive slaves in the North
- When it comes to liberate African Americans, what portions of these initiatives were controversial? What strategy did they use to deal with the controversy
- What direct and indirect messages does the “Letter to the American Slaves” convey to enslaved people, freshly arrived runaway slaves, free blacks, and white people in the context of the American Civil War? Specifically, what reactions are expected from the four categories, based on what is implied in the document
- Compare and contrast the experiences of Arnold Gragston and John Parker as “conductors” on the Underground Railroad. What motivated them to become engaged in the “railroad,” and how did they manage to stay the course despite the dangers they faced
- Reconsider your replies to these issues after reading about the escaped slaves’ experiences in8: Canada/Mexico
- Take, for example, the postbellum mutual benefit societies described in The Making of African American Identity: Vol. II, 1865-1917, and compare them to the communal efforts to assist escaped slaves. When comparing newly arriving fugitives in the North with newly arrived migrants in Chicago (The Making of African American Identity: Vol. III, 1917-1968), it is important to note the differences in advise (do’s and don’ts).
|Vigilance Committee:||10 (tables of annotated expenses)|
|“Letter to Slaves”:||4|
|Supplemental SitesArnold Gragston, WPA interview, full text in digital images, Library of CongressThe Autobiography of John Parker, online exhibition, Duke University LibraryFugitive Slave Act of 1850|
- Summary provided by the University of California-Davis
- Full text provided by the World History Sourcebook of Fordham University
- And the impact of, as discussed in an interview with Dr. Eric Foner on PBS’s Africans in America.
The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad, a large network of people who assisted fugitive slaves in their escape to the northern United States and Canada, was not controlled by a single organization or individual. Instead, it was made up of a large number of individuals—many of whom were white, but the majority of whom were black—who were only aware of the local attempts to assist fugitives and were unaware of the larger operation. Despite this, it was efficient in moving hundreds of slaves northward each year; one estimate is that the South lost 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850 as a result.
Abolitionists were responsible for the development of the Underground Railroad and its covert escape networks.
Towards the end of the 18th century, an organized system to help fugitive slaves appears to have been put into place.
The system even made use of railroad terminology: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were referred to as “stations” and “depots,” and they were run by “stationmasters.” Those who contributed money or goods were referred to as “stockholders,” and the “conductor” was in charge of transporting fugitives from one station to another.
- Its survival was frequently dependent on the concentrated efforts of collaborating individuals from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds.
- The first step was to flee from the slaveholder’s possessions.
- Occasionally, a “conductor,” disguised as a slave, would enter a plantation and direct the runaways northward, according to legend.
- Most of the time, they would walk between 10 and 20 miles to the next station, where they would rest and eat, often hiding in barns and other out of the way locations.
- The fugitives would also go by rail or boat, which were both modes of transit that required payment at times.
- Individuals contributed to this fund, which was also funded by a variety of organizations, including vigilance committees.
- In addition to seeking funds, the groups offered fugitives with food, shelter, and money, as well as assistance in reintegrating them into their new communities by assisting them in finding employment and offering letters of recommendation.
- Individuals who really engaged in events are hard to come by in terms of accounts.
- Conductors seldom attempted to keep track of the numbers, and those who did only kept track of the number of runaways who were directly assisted by their crew members.
Despite the fact that researchers believe that the Underground Railroad conductors assisted thousands of refugees, the exact number of runaways who were led to freedom will never be known due to the secrecy surrounding the movement’s operations.
At the time of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to flee to freedom in the northern states. Subjects History of the United States, Social StudiesImage
Home of Levi Coffin
Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist. This was a station on the Underground Railroad, a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in escaping to the North during the Civil War. Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography. “> During the age of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the North, according to the Underground Railroad Museum.
Although it was not a real railroad, it fulfilled the same function as one: it carried passengers across large distances.
The people who worked for the Underground Railroad were driven by a passion for justice and a desire to see slavery abolished—a drive that was so strong that they risked their lives and jeopardized their own freedom in order to assist enslaved people in escaping from bondage and staying safe while traveling the Underground Railroad.
- As the network expanded, the railroad metaphor became more prevalent.
- In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as part of a larger organization.
- According to historical tales of the railroad, conductors frequently pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways out of plantation prisons and train stations.
- Often, the conductors and passengers traveled 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance in this day and age.
- Patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were usually on their tails, chasing them down.
- Historians who study the railroad, on the other hand, find it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
- Eric Foner is one of the historians that belongs to this group.
- Despite this, the Underground Railroad was at the center of the abolitionist struggle during the nineteenth century.
- Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist.
- Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography.
- Person who is owned by another person or group of people is referred to as an enslaved person.
Slavery is a noun that refers to the act of owning another human being or being owned by another human being (also known as servitude). Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to flee to free states.
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According to National Geographic Society’s Sarah Appleton, Margot Willis is a National Geographic Society photographer.
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Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict, 1854-1865
Running away slaves from slave states to the North and Canada were assisted by white and African American abolitionists, who set up a network of hiding sites around the country where fugitives could conceal themselves during the day and move under cover of night. In spite of the fact that the majority of runaways preferred to travel on foot and trains were rarely used, the secret network was referred to as the “Underground Railroad” by all parties involved. The term first appeared in literature in 1852, when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about a secret “underground” line in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
- Those working in the Underground Railroad utilized code terms to keep their identities hidden from others.
- While traveling on the Underground Railroad, both runaways and conductors had to endure terrible conditions, harsh weather, and acute starvation.
- Many were willing to put their lives on the line, especially after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act made it illegal to provide assistance to escaped slaves, even in free areas.
- At the time, an abolitionist came to the conclusion that “free colored people shared equal fate with the breathless and the slave.” Listen to a tape of filmmaker Gary Jenkins talking on the Underground Railroad in the West at the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Underground Railroad routes that extended into Kansas and branched out into northern states like as Iowa and Nebraska, as well as all the way into Canada, were often utilized by the fugitives.
When asked about his feelings on doing so much good for the oppressed while doing so much harm to the oppressors, one conductor from Wakarusa, Kansas, responded, “I feel pretty happy and thankfullthat I have been able to do so much good for the oppressed, so much harm to the oppressors.” It was not uncommon for well-known persons to be connected with the Underground Railroad, such as Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and then returned 19 times to the South to help emancipate over 300 slaves.
- Tubman was said to have carried a revolver in order to guarantee that she never lost track of a passenger.
- Individuals from Kansas also played significant roles, such as Enoch and Luther Platt, who managed railroad stations out of their house in Wabaunsee County, Kansas Territory, in the 1850s.
- It is possible for “shareholders” to make donations to such groups, which may be used to supply supplies or to construct additional lines.
- In addition to developing new routes, members of assistance organisations evaluated the routes to ensure that men, women, and children could travel in safety on them.
During an escape, engineers guided passengers and notified the remainder of the train to reroute if there was a threat to the train’s integrity. The Underground Railroad: A Deciphering Guide
- The Underground Railroad, also known as the Freedom or Gospel Train
- Cargo, passengers, or luggage: fugitives from justice
- The StationorDepot is a safe haven for fugitives from slavery. A person who escorted fugitive slaves between stations was known as a conductor, engineer, agent, or shepherd. The term “stationmaster” refers to someone who oversaw a station and assisted runaways along their path. shareholder or stockholder: an abolitionist who made financial donations to the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War
Conductors from Kansas may easily cross the border into Missouri in order to establish contact with suspected runaway passengers. During the war, slaves residing in Missouri, which was so near to the free state of Kansas, were especially enticed to utilize the Underground Railroad to cross the border into the free state of Kansas to escape. Despite the fact that he did not know exact ways into Kansas, one African-American man expressed his confidence in his ability to reach Lawrence, a town around 40 miles from the state line and home to “the Yankees,” which means “the Yankees are waiting for you.” Conductors frequently provided fugitives with clothing and food for their excursions, and even did it at their own expense on occasion.
Due to the possibility of being questioned by pursuers, several conductors preferred not to know specific information about the fugitives they assisted.
In the aftermath of their successful escapes to other free states, a small number of passengers returned to Kansas, including William Dominick Matthews, a first lieutenant in the Independent Battery of the United States Colored Light Artillery in Fort Leavenworth.
Matthews maintained a boarding house in Leavenworth, Kansas, with the assistance of Daniel R.
Aside from that, as could be expected, very little is known about the specific individuals and families that aided or were assisted by the Underground Railroad.