What is the significance of the Underground Railroad in Ohio?
- Ohio served as the northern “trunk line” of the Underground Railroad, a system of secret routes used by free people in the North South to help slaves escape to freedom. Escape routes developed throughout Ohio with safe houses where slaves could be concealed during the day.
What role did Ohio play in the Underground Railroad?
Ohio served as the northern “trunk line” of the Underground Railroad, a system of secret routes used by free people in the North & South to help slaves escape to freedom. Escape routes developed throughout Ohio with safe houses where slaves could be concealed during the day.
How did slaves get across the Ohio River?
The exact number isn’t known, but it is believed that tens of thousands of slaves escaped to freedom through the secret network of the Underground Railroad. Many made it by crossing the Ohio River, the boundary between slave-holding Kentucky and free Ohio.
In what way did Ohio’s location make it the most important state in the Underground Railroad system?
“Ohio was perhaps the key state in regards to the success of the Underground Railroad because of its location.” According to Van Tine, the Ohio River and Lake Erie provided access to both Canada and Virginia.
Did the Underground Railroad go thru Ohio?
Although there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, even in the South, Ohio had the most active network of any other state with around 3000 miles of routes used by escaping runaways. First Ohio was bordered by 2 slave states: Virginia and Kentucky.
What was Ohio’s role in slavery?
Ohio prohibited slavery, but only in the sense that no one could buy or sell slaves within the state. Not until 1841 did Ohio enact a law so that any slave brought into the state automatically became free. Before then, Southern slave owners regularly visited Ohio and especially Cincinnati accompanied by slaves.
Did Ohio have slaves?
Slavery was abolished in Ohio in 1802 by the state’s original constitution. When Virginian John Randolph’s 518 slaves were emancipated and a plan arose to settle them in southern Ohio, the population rose up in indignation.
What state ended slavery first?
In 1780, Pennsylvania became the first state to abolish slavery when it adopted a statute that provided for the freedom of every slave born after its enactment (once that individual reached the age of majority). Massachusetts was the first to abolish slavery outright, doing so by judicial decree in 1783.
Was there ever a real underground railroad?
Nope! Despite its name, the Underground Railroad wasn’t a railroad in the way Amtrak or commuter rail is. It wasn’t even a real railroad. The Underground Railroad of history was simply a loose network of safe houses and top secret routes to states where slavery was banned.
What was Levi Coffin’s nickname?
Coffin’s active participation in the Underground Railroad caused his fellow abolitionists to nickname him the ” president of the Underground Railroad. ”
Who started the Underground Railroad in Ohio?
Beginning in the late 1840s, Levi Coffin, a resident of Cincinnati, helped more than three thousand slaves escape from their masters and gain their freedom in Canada.
How many Underground Railroad stops in Ohio?
According to research done by the Friends of Freedom Society, there are well over 20 documented Underground Railroad sites in Columbus, but since many of those are private homes, the addresses have not been made public.
What is the route of the Underground Railroad?
Routes. 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.
Where was the Underground Railroad in Ohio?
Afternoon: Now you’re ready to start your journey on the Underground Railroad in Springboro, believed to be the most traveled area in Ohio for runaway slaves with 27 documented safe houses, where secret nooks and tunnels hid runaways from bounty hunters.
Underground Railroad aided by Ohio
The state of Ohio played a significant part in guiding runaway slaves from their lives of slavery to their aspirations of freedom. Many runaway slaves used the Underground Railroad, a legendary path to freedom traveled by thousands of runaway slaves, to reach northern destinations where they were more likely to avoid capture. The Underground Railroad was a complex system designed to transport slaves to northern destinations where they were more likely to avoid capture. According to Warren Van Tine, a history professor at Ohio State University, “Ohio was extremely vital to the success of the Underground Railroad.” “Because of its geographic position, Ohio was possibly the most important state in terms of the success of the Underground Railroad.” According to Van Tine, the Ohio River and Lake Erie served as a transportation route between Canada and Virginia.
Several locations in Franklin County may take pride in their involvement with the Underground Railroad.
Second Baptist Church, the Kelton House Museum and Gardens, the Margaret Agler House, and the Southwick-Good Funeral Chapel, all of which are located at 3100 N.
“I believe that the functioning of the Underground Railroad was a very essential aspect of American history,” said William Good, proprietor of Southwick-Good Funeral Chapel in Southwick, Massachusetts.
- Attempts were made to chronicle this heritage by William Siebert, who had worked on the Ohio State University campus as a history professor and department head.
- Despite the fact that his publications and studies presented a thorough history of Ohio counties, the pathways followed by runaways and their conductors, and various personal experiences, some may argue that his works omitted certain critical information.
- In his writings, there are a number of subterranean conductors who aren’t mentioned, particularly African-Americans,” Van Tine explained.
- Finding information on specific places suspected of being train stations can be a challenging endeavor because of the secrecy surrounding them.
Underground Railroad – Ohio History Central
According to Ohio History Central This snapshot depicts the “Freedom Stairway,” which consists of one hundred stairs going from the Ohio River to the John Rankin House in Ripley, which served as a station on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Presbyterian clergyman and educator John Rankin (1793-1886) spent most of his time working for the abolitionist anti-slavery struggle. The home features various secret rooms, some of which were used to hide freedom fighters. An illuminated sign was erected in front of the home to signal that it was safe for anyone seeking freedom to approach it.
- An underground railroad system of safe homes and hiding places that assisted freedom seekers on their journeys to freedom in Canada, Mexico, and other countries outside of the United States was known as the Underground Railroad (UR).
- Although it is unknown when the Underground Railroad had its start, members of the Society of Friends, often known as the Quakers, were actively supporting freedom seekers as early as the 1780s, according to historical records.
- As early as the late 1700s, slavery was outlawed in the vast majority of Northern states.
- African Americans were forced to flee the United States in order to genuinely achieve their freedom.
- Despite the fact that slavery was outlawed in Ohio, some individuals were still opposed to the abolition of the institution.
- Many of these individuals were adamantly opposed to the Underground Railroad.
- Other people attempted to restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners in the aim of receiving prizes for their efforts.
Over three thousand slaves were rescued from their captors and granted freedom in Canada thanks to the efforts of Levi Coffin, a Cincinnati man who lived in the late 1840s and early 1850s.
His house was perched on a three hundred-foot-high hill with a panoramic view of the Ohio River.
He gave the freedom seekers with sanctuary and kept them hidden until it was safe for them to proceed farther north in their quest for independence.
These individuals, as well as a large number of others, put their lives in danger to aid African Americans in their journey to freedom.
They typically chose to live in communities where there were other African Americans.
A total of eight communities along the Lake Erie shoreline served as embarkation locations for the freedom seekers’ journey to Canada, including Ashtabula, Painesville, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, Huron, Lorain, Conneaut, and Conneaut.
It is still unknown exactly how the Underground Railroad came to be known by that moniker.
In 1831, a freedom seeker called Tice Davids fled from his slave owners in Kentucky, where he had been held since birth.
Davids had arrived at the coast only a few minutes before him. Following the arrival of his boat, the holder was unable to locate Davids and concluded that he “must have gone off on a subterranean path.”
- “The Hippocrene Guide to the Underground Railroad,” by Charles L. Blockson, et al. Hippocrene Books, New York, NY, 1994
- Levi Coffin, Hippocrene Books, New York, NY, 1994. Levi Coffin’s recollections of his time as the rumored President of the Underground Railroad. Arno Press, New York, NY, 1968
- Dee, Christine, ed., Ohio’s War: The Civil War in Documents, New York, NY, 1968. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007)
- Fess, Simeon D., ed. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007). Gara, Larry, and Lewis Publishing Company, 1937
- Chicago, IL: Lewis Publishing Company. The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad is a documentary film about the Underground Railroad. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1961
- Ann Hagedorn, ed., Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1961. Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad is a book about the heroes of the Underground Railroad. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
- Roseboom, Eugene H. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
- The period from 1850 to 1873 is known as the Civil War Era. The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom (Columbus, OH: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1944)
- Siebert, Wibur H. “The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom.” RussellRussell, New York, 1898
- Siebert, Wilbur Henry, New York, 1898. Ohio was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Lesick, Lawrence Thomas
- Arthur W. McGraw, 1993
- McGraw, Arthur W. The Lane Rebels: Evangelicalism and Antislavery in Antebellum America is a book about the Lane family who were antislavery activists in the antebellum era. Roland M. Baumann’s book, The Scarecrow Press, was published in 1980 in Metuchen, NJ. The Rescue of the Oberlin-Wellington Train in 1858: A Reappraisal Oberlin, OH: Oberlin College Press, 2003
- Levi Coffin and William Still, editors. Fleeing for Freedom: Stories of the Underground Railroad is a collection of short stories about people fleeing for freedom. Ivan R. Dee Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, 2004.
Underground Railroad in Ohio
Wilbur Siebert, a history professor at Ohio State University, claims that the state possessed the most extensive Underground Railroad network of any other state, with an estimated 3000 miles of pathways utilized by runaways. It was possible to enter the Ohio River from as many as twenty different sites, and to escape the river from as many as ten different points along Lake Erie. Image courtesy of the Underground Railroad Monument. Cameron Armstrong, a student at Oberlin College, developed the term Terminology.
- Using the term underground was appropriate because assisting runaway slaves was illegal and needed to be kept a secret.
- Stations are locations where people go to hide or feel protected.
- Agents are those who assist fugitive slaves in their escape but do not guide them.
- Backstory The Underground Railroad (UGRR) was a network of safe homes, hiding sites, and forest pathways that assisted runaway slaves in their attempts to escape to freedom in the northern United States or Canadian provinces.
- As early as the 1810s, other Ohioans were providing assistance to runaway slaves.
- From one station to the next, fugitive slaves made their way north.
- Owning slaves had been prohibited in Ohio since the state’s constitution was adopted in 1802, but some residents of the state continued to favor slavery.
These activists were adamant in their opposition to the Underground Railroad; some attacked conductors, while others attempted to return fugitives to their owners in the goal of receiving rewards from them.
This rule enhanced the likelihood that free blacks would be kidnapped and forced into slavery as a result of enslavement.
Runaway slaves were guided by conductors to the northernmost section of the state of Ohio, where they would spend the night before being carried over Lake Erie to freedom in Canada on the final step of their voyage.
The Underground Railroad was run by African-Americans.
There would have been virtually no opportunity for fugitive slaves to escape into freedom if they hadn’t been protected and assisted by free blacks.
Abolitionist newspaper publisher James G.
Colored individuals are virtually always in charge of such issues, which is not surprising.
It’s been a long and difficult road.
Work schedules were flexible, and slaveholders took advantage of the opportunity to travel during the holidays.
There were fewer cars on the highways due of the cold, yet there was little vegetation in the winter landscape because it was so cold.
Running away from home was made feasible by the regular freezing of the Ohio River, which allowed them to cross it on foot, although the ice was sometimes more like enormous pieces of floating ice, which needed precise footwork to make it safely over the river in the dark.
Aside from avoiding slave catchers, fugitives also had to escape roaming gangs of bounty hunters who searched the countryside in search of fugitives.
Under the Fugitive Slave Law, slaves could be traced down and returned from anywhere in the United States, but an escaped slave who crossed the Ohio River and crossed the Mason-Dixon Line was in relative safety north of the Mason Dixon Line.
Ohio was divided on the topic of slavery, and only a few places provided total sanctuary for runaways, with the town of Oberlin being the safest of these areas.
Oberlin, Ohio, was the site of Oberlin College, which was the first institution in the United States to accept females and African-Americans.
As they were aware that kidnapping Price in the town of Oberlin would be difficult due to strong anti-slavery sentiment held by the citizens of that town, they persuaded Shakespeare Boynton, the son of an influential Oberlin landowner, to lead Price to a farm west of Oberlin under the guise of digging potatoes for which he would be paid $20.
- After realizing what had occurred, anti-slavery activists in Oberlin grew enraged and promptly formed an organization in order to launch a rescue mission.
- The Ohio Historical Society provided permission to use this image.
- Eventually, after many hours of tense negotiations, the captors permitted a small number of men, including the local sheriff, to enter the room in order to verify that their paperwork were properly completed.
- Soon later, a number of Oberlin residents climbed through the window, and another group entered through the door.
- After rescuing Price, his rescuers placed him into a wagon and returned him to Oberlin.
- The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue played a significant role in mobilizing opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act in the United States.
- In lieu of posting bond, they were sent to the Cuyahoga County Jail, where they stayed for the time being.
Abolitionist and civil rights activist Langston delivered an impassioned address in court that made a powerful argument for abolition and justice for “colored folks.” However, I stand here to state that if I am sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of one thousand dollars for what I did on that day in Wellington, under the Fugitive Slave Law, and such is the protection that the laws of this country afford me, I must assume the responsibility of self-protection; and if I am claimed as a slave by some perjured wretch, I will never be sold into slavery again.
I stand here to state that I will do all in my power to assist any individual who has been apprehended and detained, despite the fact that the inevitable consequence of six months jail and a thousand dollars fine for each infraction hangs over my head!
You would do so because your manhood demanded it, and no matter what laws were in place, you would be proud of yourself for doing so; your friends would be proud of you for doing it; your children for generations to come would be proud of you for doing it; and every good and honest man would agree that you had done the right thing in the end!
- According to the judge, Langston will serve only 20 days in prison after being found guilty.
- Further south, a number of settlements, including Columbus and Putnam to the east, Mechanicsburg and Urbana to the west, gave help to fugitive slaves, including Columbus and Putnam.
- Organization known as the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society In 1835, the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was established in Zanesville, Ohio.
- Despite the fact that Ohio was a free state, the Society was frequently targeted by local individuals wherever they conducted their meetings.
- Fear was a significant motive among people opposed to the society’s ideals, and it was frequently demonstrated in crowds who attacked abolitionists on the streets.
- When the abolitionist convention was held in a barn outside the city boundaries, a mob erupted and attacked the delegates and other attendees.
- One of the state’s oldest communities, Putnam was founded about 1800 and merged into the neighboring city of Zanesville in 1872, making it one of the state’s oldest municipalities.
Putnam was home to numerous important abolitionists throughout the nineteenth century.
Both the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society’s conventions, held in 1835 and 1839, were held at this location.
Weld, who was lecturing at the Stone Academy in preparation for the 1835 convention.
Additional violence was avoided as a result of the arrest of several of the instigators.
William Beecher, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, served as the church’s first pastor when it was built in 1835, and many other anti-slavery preachers, including Frederick Douglas in 1852, have spoken here.
The Underground Railroad ran through southern Ohio.
There was a tiny village called Ripley that served as the primary access point.
The Freedom Stairway is a photograph.
John Rankin is a Scottish author and poet.
Located on a three hundred-foot-high hill overlooking the Ohio River, his mansion included various secret rooms where runaway slaves might be secreted if they escaped.
Image courtesy of John Rankin House Ripley, Ohio is a town in the state of Ohio.
John Parker, a kindred soul who resided in Ripley as well, was responsible for transporting hundreds of fugitives from slavery over the Ohio River on a small boat.
Parker was taught to read and write by the doctor’s family, who also permitted him to work as an apprentice in an iron foundry.
He then relocated to Ripley, where he built a profitable foundry in the back of his home.
In a subsequent interview, John Parker stated that while the fugitives must, in most cases, take care of themselves south of the border, once they cross the Ohio River, they are in the care of their friends and family.
The majority of the time, slaves walked northward on their own, seeking for a signal that would indicate the presence of food, shelter, and rest.
Many will stay unidentified for the rest of their lives. Putnam Historic District (National Park Service) Underground Railroad – Ohio History Central, Inc. Ohio on the Road: The Underground Railroad in Ohio The Ohio Anti-Slavery Society is featured on Ohio History Central.
The Underground Railroad
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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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?
The only time a slave family had the resources to sew a quilt was to shelter themselves from the cold, not to relay information about alleged passages on the Underground Railroad that they had never visited.
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.
Cuyahoga Valley’s Ties to the Underground Railroad (U.S. National Park Service)
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress People of color were carried from slavery to freedom by way of the Underground Railroad from the time of our nation’s founding until the Civil War. The Underground Railroad was not a physical railroad; rather, it was a network of hidden pathways that led away from slave states in every direction. A large number of daring persons took part in it, including each enslaved person who attempted to leave or who offered food and guidance, freedom searchers who returned south to aid those fleeing, and free Blacks and Whites who offered assistance.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Trail to Freedom
Who is the person you adore the most on this planet? Was it possible to leave everything behind and traverse the Underground Railroad to freedom? The choice to escape was not taken lightly, and it took time. Most of the time, it meant leaving behind loved ones and friends who may be punished as a result of your conduct. Nonetheless, some preferred to fly. Freedom seekers traveled by every mode of transportation available, including foot, wagon, railroad, and canal. It seems from letters and oral traditions collected by historian William Siebert in the 1880s that the Ohio Canal was used to convey cargo, which was a code word for enslaved persons in the time period.
Located between the Ohio River and Lake Erie, this 308-mile canal was a well-marked waterway linking the two bodies of water.
Others may have arrived in Cleveland disguised as canal boat passengers with aid from a friend of a friend, which was a typical code for sympathetic persons encountered along the route.
Until now, the only documented example that we have come across is that of Lewis G.
Law of the Land
“Involuntary slavery,” as it was defined in the United States Constitution, allowed people to own other people without their consent. Following that, regulations were passed making it illegal to help “runaways” and defining the areas where slavery may exist. A provision of the second Fugitive Slave Act, which was established in 1850, specified that anybody supporting a freedom seeking would be fined $1,000 and sentenced to six months in a federal jail. Also included were provisions requiring law enforcement personnel to help slave catchers and allowing them to examine people’s houses.
A Hotbed of Abolitionists
Slavery should not exist, and those known as abolitionists thought that it should not exist and campaigned to bring it to an end despite the hazards. Northeast Ohio was a hive of abolitionist activity during the nineteenth century. Men and women, Black and White, free and enslaved, came together to fight for a common goal in their struggle. Many people were participating in politics for the very first time. Northeast Ohio women formed anti-slavery societies, distributed petitions, served as delegates to state and national antislavery conferences, and produced editorials that were published in local newspapers such as The Anti-Slavery Bugle, among other activities.
- The Free Blacks were a tiny but active abolitionist group in Northeast Ohio during the antebellum period.
- They were able to gradually influence state legislation through coordinated gatherings and petitions.
- When Malvin refused to be separated in church, he put in motion a wave of social activity that continues to this day.
- Despite the fact that he did not mention it in his book, it is possible that Malvin supported freedom seekers who were attempting to flee through the canal system.
Cuyahoga Valley participates in the Network to Freedom through its Underground Railroad initiatives, which are part of the Network to Freedom. Ted Toth / National Park Service
Preserving the Stories
A bill known as the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act was approved by Congress in 1998 in order to ensure that stories of resistance against slavery in the United States are shared and remembered. An important fundamental value of our nation is illustrated by the practice of abolishionism: that all human beings have the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression. In the Network to Freedom, which is managed by the National Park Service, historic locations, facilities, and activities are recognized that can be proven to have had a connection to the Underground Railroad are identified and recognized.
The Struggle Continues
Did you know that there are as many as 27 million enslaved persons living in the globe at any given time? The existence of slaves and traffickers may be detected in practically every country, including the United States, according to Kevin Bales, a consultant to the United Nations on human slavery and trafficking. We hope that the heroism of people who stood up against slavery throughout history inspires you to think more carefully about human rights and seek ways to make current society a more humane place to live and work.
The Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force can provide you with further information regarding human trafficking in Ohio.
Underground Railroad in Ohio
The monument shown above, which was erected by Cameron Armstrong on the campus of OberlinCollege and represents the beginnings of the Underground Railroad in Ohio, may be seen above. A critical crossroads on the Underground Railroad, Oberlin connected five separate paths that fleeing slaves may have traveled in order to escape. During the Civil War, no fugitive who lived in Oberlin was ever returned to bondage, and the town has been dubbed “The Town that Started the Civil War.” When Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, one of the stipulations prohibited slavery in any future state admitted to the Union that was located north of the Ohio River.
- Later, Congress amended the legislation to include a provision making it a federal criminal to help or hide fugitive slaves, which might result in harsh penalties or even imprisonment if the act was committed.
- Even in a free state like Ohio, living was made incredibly difficult as a result of this.
- This would be especially true in the lower half of the state, where inhabitants were more likely to have been previous residents of Virginia or Kentucky, or to have descended from ancestors who had lived in these states at some point in their lives.
- While speaking at local gatherings, anti-slavery activists may frequently transform them into a confrontational confrontation.
- In reality, most of the people on the network were only familiar with a few of the other users, which helped to keep everyone’s identities safe.
- Ohio, with around 3000 miles of pathways used by fleeing runaways, had the most active network of any other state, despite the fact that there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, including the Southern states.
- First and foremost, Ohio shared a border with two slave states: Virginia and Kentucky.
- Among all the states participating in these subterranean networks, Ohio was the one that was closest to Canada, with a distance of just roughly 250 miles or less between any point along the Ohio River and Lake Erie, where freedom might be found.
While the Pennsylvania Quakers were largely responsible for the inception of the abolitionist movement, the Ohio Quakers appeared to have been more directly involved in transporting escaping slaves on their way north and toward freedom, particularly those fleeing slaves from the Virginia plantations.
Prior to it, there was a scarcity of knowledge regarding railways in general.
There was no railroad, and there was no underground railroad with the Underground Railroad, of course.
The term railroad was utilized because the persons participating in the activities used phrases that were frequently associated with railways to describe different parts of their operations, leading to the name railroad being used.
- Slaves were referred to as “cargo” or “passengers.” Stations were used to refer to hiding locations or safe homes. Conductors were the guides who escorted the runaway slaves to freedom. Those who assisted slaves in their escape but did not guide them were referred to as agents. People who contributed financial resources to these endeavors were referred to as shareholders.
The use of the same terminology associated with railroads to describe the activities associated with the Underground Railroad became more widespread as physical railroads became more common. This allowed those actively involved in the Underground Railroad to communicate openly without fear of being turned over to the authorities by someone overhearing their conversation. At the time, these code phrases were not known outside of the network, which is understandable given their importance. The title “liberation train” or “the gospel train” was used in certain parts of the country, and in others it was referred to as “the freedom train.” By the 1850s, the name “Underground Railroad” had become the most often used in the state of Ohio.
A fugitive slave could not be assisted under state or federal law, and this was a criminal offense.
It was the plantation owner’s responsibility to apply further punishment to captured slaves when they were returned to the plantation and fields from where they had escaped.
Ohio Anti-Slavery Society
An organization known as the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was founded by a group of people who shared a strong opposition to slavery. The Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was created in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1835, and was modeled after the framework of the American Anti-Slavery Society, which was founded in 1833 in New York City. When the society was founded, its members committed to work for the abolition of slavery and the adoption of legislation to safeguard African-Americans when they were released from the bonds of slavery.
People who opposed the abolitionists’ ideals were motivated mostly by fear, which was frequently shown in mob attacks on the abolitionists’ homes and workplaces.
When the conference was held in a barn outside of Granville, a mob erupted and attacked the abolitionists who had gathered in the barn.
In addition to bigotry, and because they were unable to accept that racism, they argued that runaway slaves from the southern states would take their employment here in Ohio.
Freedom Center in Cincinnati
The fact that the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located in Cincinnati is a blessing for the state of Ohio. This center serves as a clearinghouse for information regarding the Underground Railroad and organizes educational programs to raise awareness of issues impacting African-Americans, among other things. The Center first opened its doors in 2004. There are three buildings that make up the Freedom Center, and they represent the three foundations of freedom: courage, cooperation, and perseverance.
The Freedom Center is located at 50 East Freedom Way in Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 and can be reached at (513) 330-7500. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Ohio was divided on the question of slavery, and only a few localities could provide complete protection. Oberlin was one of the locations where fugitive slaves may feel safe while trying to flee. Oberlin, which is located in north central Ohio, became one of the primary staging areas for fugitive slaves fleeing to Canada. More villages in the south, including Columbus and Zanesville to the east,Mechanicsburg and Urbana to the west, came together to help, as did a number of other cities. For runaway slaves, there were even more little settlements in southern Ohio, which provided them with sanctuary in an incredibly perilous region.
The major entry point into Ohio was along the Ohio River, with the most notable location being a little town known as Ripley.
In search of a safe refuge where they could live with their families without the fear of being shackled in captivity, escaping slaves came across the United States of America. The only certain location was Canada (and, to a lesser extent, Mexico), although getting to these locations was far from straightforward. As soon as an escaped slave arrived on the borders of Canada, they discovered that living there was incredibly harsh, with little job and strict segregation. After escaping slaves made it to Canada, they would frequently return to Ohio, where they might join tiny enclaves of freed slaves that had already been established in remote places, where they could try to stay as inconspicuous as they possibly could.
ABOVE: The narrative of a slave was recounted at the New Boston Fair.
African-Americans helped make the Underground Railroad work
The fact that escaping slaves made the Underground Railroad feasible was the most significant component of the Underground Railroad’s history. If it hadn’t been for their daring, tenacity, and innovation, the railroad would have been nothing more than a footnote in the history of our nation’s development. It was necessary for the majority of runaway slaves not only to get away from their owner’s estate, but also from all of the areas between them and the Ohio River, as well as from all of the other entrance points between the slave and free states.
- Aside from avoiding their previous masters, they also had to dodge the slave-catchers who prowled the countryside in pursuit of fugitives.
- The runaway slaves had a tough voyage since they had to hide in the woods during the day and travel only at night.
- As soon as they passed over the Ohio River, they had to make contact with someone they had never met before, and they had to hope that they would be able to give them with refuge and assistance on their long voyage ahead of them.
- That occurred at a period when the Ohio River frequently froze over, making it possible for the runaways to cross the river without the need of a boat.
- The ice was frequently more like giant pieces of floating ice, which needed cautious footwork to make it safely across the river at night, just by looking at the river itself and not taking into consideration the extremely low temperatures.
Slaves who had already completed the trek to freedom would frequently return to assist others, putting their own safety and freedom at tremendous risk.
Paying the Price:
A fugitive slave from a Kentucky farm owned by John Bacon who was 17 years old at the time of his capture on September 13, 1858, by two slave hunters and two federal marshals in Oberlin, Ohio, was residing in Oberlin at the time of his arrest. Realizing that attempting to apprehend the young black man in the town of Oberlin would be difficult due to the well-known anti-slavery attitudes held by the town’s residents, they devised a plan to lure John Price away from the protection of Oberlin. On the pretext of digging potatoes for money, they persuaded Shakespeare Boynton, the son of a prominent Oberlin landowner, to accompany John Price to a farm west of Oberlin where he would be paid for his efforts.
The ruse was successful.
Anti-slavery activists in Oberlin were angry as soon as they saw what had happened and rallied together to try to save the slaves.
By late afternoon, more than 200 people from Oberlin and Wellington had gathered outside the Wadsworth Hotel, where Price was being kept captive.
There was a window with a little balcony that overlooked the town square in that room.
The sheriff wanted to make sure that all of the paperwork was in order.
Then, from the outside, someone set up a ladder near the room’s window, and a group of Oberlin locals climbed in via the window while another group entered through the door.
Price went on the Underground Railroad to Canada a few days later, but was never seen or heard from again after that.
In lieu of posting bond, they were sent to the Cuyahoga County Jail for almost one month, where they remain today.
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue Case had a significant impact on the public’s opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, which was one of the reasons that contributed to the American Civil War.
Smith, Richard Winsor, Simeon Bushnell, David Watson, William E.
Scott, Ansel W.
Peck, and James M.
Smith. Ralph Plumb, James Bartlett, John Watson, and Henry Evans are seated at the table. A technicality in their indictments caused two of the men, Jacob B. Shipherd and Orindatus S.B. Wall, to be released sooner than the others. As a result, they are not featured.