The Underground Railroad was a secret system developed to aid fugitive slaves on their escape to freedom. The safe houses used as hiding places along the lines of the Underground Railroad were called stations. A lit lantern hung outside would identify these stations.
How did slaves know where they were going?
Escaping slaves could find it by locating the Big Dipper, a well-recognized asterism most visible in the night sky in late winter and spring. Many former slaves, including historical figures like Tubman, used the celestial gourd, or dipper, to guide them on their journey north.
How did Harriet Tubman find out about the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad and Siblings Tubman first encountered the Underground Railroad when she used it to escape slavery herself in 1849. Following a bout of illness and the death of her owner, Tubman decided to escape slavery in Maryland for Philadelphia.
How were runaway slaves caught?
Other slaves seeking freedom relied upon canoes. Some runaways pretended to be free blacks, Native Americans, or whites. Runaway slaves who were caught typically were whipped and sometimes shackled. Some masters sold recovered runaway slaves who repeatedly defied their efforts at control.
Why did the slaves call it the underground railroad?
(Actual underground railroads did not exist until 1863.) According to John Rankin, “It was so called because they who took passage on it disappeared from public view as really as if they had gone into the ground. After the fugitive slaves entered a depot on that road no trace of them could be found.
Why did Harriet Tubman wear a bandana?
As was the custom on all plantations, when she turned eleven, she started wearing a bright cotton bandana around her head indicating she was no longer a child. She was also no longer known by her “basket name”, Araminta. Now she would be called Harriet, after her mother.
Is Gertie Davis died?
Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”
How old would Harriet Tubman be today?
Harriet Tubman’s exact age would be 201 years 10 months 28 days old if alive. Total 73,747 days. Harriet Tubman was a social life and political activist known for her difficult life and plenty of work directed on promoting the ideas of slavery abolishment.
How did slaves get punished?
Slaves were punished by whipping, shackling, hanging, beating, burning, mutilation, branding, rape, and imprisonment. Punishment was often meted out in response to disobedience or perceived infractions, but sometimes abuse was performed to re-assert the dominance of the master (or overseer) over the slave.
How were slaves captured in Africa?
The capture and sale of enslaved Africans Most of the Africans who were enslaved were captured in battles or were kidnapped, though some were sold into slavery for debt or as punishment. The captives were marched to the coast, often enduring long journeys of weeks or even months, shackled to one another.
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.
Who built the Underground Railroad?
In the early 1800s, Quaker abolitionist Isaac T. Hopper set up a network in Philadelphia that helped enslaved people on the run.
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.
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?
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives and assisted 400 escapees in their journey to Canada. In addition to helping 1,500 escapees make their way north, former fugitive Reverend Jermain Loguen, who lived near Syracuse, was instrumental in facilitating their escape. The Vigilance Committee was founded in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a businessman. 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 labor skills to support themselves.
Agent,” according to the document.
A free Black man in Ohio, John Parker was a foundry owner who used his rowboat to transport fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born to runaway enslaved parents in New Jersey and raised as a free man in the city of Philadelphia.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
Fairfield’s strategy was to go around the southern United States appearing as a slave broker. He managed to elude capture twice. He died in 1860 in Tennessee, during the American Reconstruction Era.
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.
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad? ‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented.
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
A network of routes, locations, and individuals existed during the time of slavery in the United States to assist enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to go north. Subjects Social Studies, History of the United States of America
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A secret network that helped slaves find freedom
It was during the late 18th Century that a network of hidden passageways was established in the United States, which became known as the “Underground Railroad” by the 1840s. The network was designed to be ambiguous, with supporters typically only knowing of a few links between one another. The actual number of enslaved African Americans who were aided by this network to escape and find a path to freedom will always be a mystery, although some estimates place the total as high as 100,000. During his installation, Night Coming Tenderly, Black, photographer Dawoud Bey reimagines landmarks along the slave trade routes that passed through Cleveland and Hudson, Ohio and on their way to Lake Erie and the journey to freedom in Canada.
- Influenced by African-American photographer Roy DeCarava, whose work is known for presenting the black subject as it emerges from a darkened photographic print, Bey adopts a similar method to depict the darkness that afforded slaves with safe shelter as they made their way towards freedom.
- This provided an opportunity for abolitionists to employ newly developed railroad language as a code.
- Some think that Sweet Chariot was written as a direct reference to the Underground Railroad and that it was sung as a signal for slaves to prepare for their own emancipation.
- The ability to imagine the sense of space and the environment from the perspective of another person, according to him, represented a significant paradigm change.
- “I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘portrait photographer,’ but rather as a photographer who has collaborated with a human subject in order to create my work,” Bey shares.
- Throughout her life, she worked as a nurse, a union spy, and a supporter of the suffragette movement.
- Following that, she risked her life as a conductor on repeated return voyages in order to save at least 70 people, including her elderly parents and other family members, who had been trapped.
- Following its demise, a large number of individuals traveled considerable distances north to British North America (present-day Canada).
- “There was one moment while photography on a hill overlooking Lake Erie that was unlike any other I’d had in the year and a half that I was working on the project,” Bey recalls.
At that point, I realized that this was a real location where a large number of fleeing slaves had congregated.” The exhibitionNight Coming Tenderly, Blackby Dawoud Bey is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, in the United States, through April 14, 2019.
The Underground Railroad
|The Underground Railroad, a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals – many whites but predominently black – who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. Still, it effectively moved hundreds of slaves northward each year – according to one estimate,the South lost 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850. An organized system to assist runaway slaves seems to have begun towards the end of the 18th century. In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes.” The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed “The Underground Railroad,” after the then emerging steam railroads. The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were called “stations” and “depots” and were run by “stationmasters,” those who contributed money or goods were “stockholders,” and the “conductor” was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next.For the slave, running away to the North was anything but easy. The first step was to escape from the slaveholder. For many slaves, this meant relying on his or her own resources. Sometimes a “conductor,” posing as a slave, would enter a plantation and then guide the runaways northward. The fugitives would move at night. They would generally travel between 10 and 20 miles to the next station, where they would rest and eat, hiding in barns and other out-of-the-way places. While they waited, a message would be sent to the next station to alert its stationmaster.The fugitives would also travel by train and boat – conveyances that sometimes had to be paid for. Money was also needed to improve the appearance of the runaways – a black man, woman, or child in tattered clothes would invariably attract suspicious eyes. This money was donated by individuals and also raised by various groups, including vigilance committees.Vigilance committees sprang up in the larger towns and cities of the North, most prominently in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. In addition to soliciting money, the organizations provided food, lodging and money, and helped the fugitives settle into a community by helping them find jobs and providing letters of recommendation.The Underground Railroad had many notable participants, including John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who made many daring rescues, Levi Coffin, a Quaker who assisted more than 3,000 slaves, and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.|
What is the Underground Railroad? – Underground Railroad (U.S. National Park Service)
Harvey Lindsley captured a shot of Harriet Tubman. THE CONGRESSIONAL LIBRARY
I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say—I neverran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.
When we talk about the Underground Railroad, we’re talking about the attempts of enslaved African Americans to obtain their freedom by escaping bondage. The Underground Railroad was a method of resisting slavery by escape and flight from 1850 until the end of the Civil War. Escape attempts were made in every location where slavery was practiced. In the beginning, to maroon villages in distant or rough terrain on the outside of inhabited regions, and later, across state and international borders.
- The majority of freedom seekers began their journey unaided and the majority of them completed their self-emancipation without assistance.
- It’s possible that the choice to aid a freedom seeking was taken on the spur of the moment.
- People of various ethnicities, social classes, and genders took part in this massive act of civil disobedience, despite the fact that what they were doing was unlawful.
- A map of the United States depicting the many paths that freedom seekers might follow in order to attain freedom.
- All thirteen original colonies, as well as Spanish California, Louisiana and Florida; Central and South America; and all of the Caribbean islands were slave states until the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and British abolition of slavery brought an end to the practice in 1804.
- The Underground Railroad had its beginnings at the site of enslavement in the United States.
- The proximity to ports, free territories, and international borders caused a large number of escape attempts.
- Freedom seekers used their inventiveness to devise disguises, forgeries, and other techniques, drawing on their courage and brains in the process.
- The assistance came from a varied range of groups, including enslaved and free blacks, American Indians, and people from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds.
- Because of their links to the whaling business, the Pacific West Coast and potentially Alaska became popular tourist destinations.
During the American Civil War, many freedom seekers sought refuge and liberty by fleeing to the Union army’s lines of communication.
The Secret History of the Underground Railroad
When we talk about the Underground Railroad, we’re talking about the attempts of enslaved African Americans to obtain their freedom by escaping bondage. The Underground Railroad was a method of resisting slavery by escape and flight that existed until the conclusion of the Civil War. Escape attempts were made in every location where slavery existed. In the beginning, to maroon villages in distant or rough terrain on the outside of inhabited regions, and later, across national and international borders.
- Many freedom seekers began their trip unaided, and many more finished their self-emancipation without assistance.
- Maybe it was a spur of the moment decision to support a freedom seeking.
- People of various colors, social classes, and genders took part in this massive act of civil disobedience, despite the fact that what they were doing was against the law.
- a map of the United States depicting the many pathways that freedom seekers might travel in order to achieve their goals In every area where enslaved African Americans existed, there were those wanting to flee.
- At the point of servitude, the Underground Railroad got its beginnings.
- A large number of escapes took place in areas near ports, free territories, and international borders.
- Freedom seekers used their ingenuity to devise disguises, forgeries, and other techniques, drawing on their courage and intelligence to do so.
- Help came from a wide range of individuals, including enslaved and free blacks, American Indians, and people from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds and groupings.
- Because of their links to the whaling business, the Pacific West Coast and potentially Alaska became popular locations.
Military duty was an option for African Americans, and thousands of them enlisted from the Colonial Era through the Civil War in order to secure their independence. Numerous freedom seekers sought refuge and liberty by fleeing to the lines of the Union army during the American Civil War.
Tracks to Freedom: The Inspiring Story of the Underground Railroad
The film from 2013 The film 12 Years a Slave pushed the most heinous period of American history to the forefront of the public’s attention. The majority of slaves perished while in service. The Underground Railroad, a network of safe homes and committed assistance that was established to aid those from slavery, was only known to a fortunate (and daring) few. The Underground Railroad, which has long been the stuff of legend and local culture, has been criticized for being either overstated or underrated.
Foner speaks from his office on New York’s Upper West Side, where he explains how a chance discovery in the Columbia University archives set him on a path of discovery, how one of George Washington’s concerns after the War of Independence was reclaiming his slaves, and why the Underground Railroad is something to be celebrated at a time when the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has roiled race relations in the United States.
In your own words, tell us about your discovery of Gay’s “Register of Fugitives” and how it influenced your decision to narrate this tale.
His documents are in this room, and she revealed to me one day that there was a small document in this room that dealt with fugitive slaves.
It was these two little notebooks titled “Record of Fugitives” that had the answers.
Because he was a journalist, he conducted interviews with them, and the resulting notebook is jam-packed with fascinating information about who owned these slaves, where they came from, how they escaped, who assisted them, how they arrived in New York, and where Gay sent them on their way to freedom in Canada.
- Please provide us with a brief profile.
- He was born in Massachusetts and began his abolitionist career about 1840-41, first as a public speaker and then as a writer.
- Abolitionists found themselves in a difficult climate in New York.
- Gay, on the other hand, was an admirably brave individual.
- His newspaper office also served as a sort of “station on the Underground Railroad,” with slaves traveling through from as far south as the Carolinas.
- Prior to the Civil War, the Underground Railroad was considered to be little more than a piece of local folklore.
- In both ways, the Underground Railroad has been presented in an inaccurate manner.
Some academics, on the other hand, consider it to be completely worthless.
A little plaque on the front door of every house in various communities in New England or upstate New York proclaiming, “This was a stop on the Underground Railroad” seems to be a common sight in these areas.
It was a work in progress.
It was primarily a network of local groups that interacted with one another.
During any given period of time in New York City, there were seldom more than a dozen persons actively working to aid slaves.
As a result, one should avoid exaggerating the situation.
Many people, including myself, were under the impression that the Underground Railroad was actually a railroad.
The exact origin of the name, as well as the date on which it was first used, are unknown.
However, by the 1840s, it had become commonly recognized as a metaphor for a hidden network of networks that assisted fugitives in their escape.
Slaves managed to escape in a variety of ways.
If you could get your hands on some “free documents” from someone in the upper South, you could hop on a train and go up to the northernmost part of the country via rail.
One portion of this narrative was brought to life in the film 12 Years a Slave.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film is that it tells the narrative of a free man who is abducted and forced into slavery.
In New York City, there were gangs that preyed on black people, particularly children, and took advantage of their vulnerability.
The New York Vigilance Committee was the first group to establish the Underground Railroad, which was established in 1831.
Then they expanded their services to include fugitives passing through the city on their way to safety.
They just snatched them and returned them to their owners.
Your novel has a large number of heroes and heroines.
Please tell us about her and her business activities.
Unlike the majority of those who managed to flee, she returned multiple times during the 1850s.
If you were discovered assisting a fleeing slave in the South, the sanctions were severe and life-threatening.
As a result, anyone who attempted this in the South was taking a huge risk.
This record, the “Record of Fugitives,” has information about her two trips to New York City in 1855 and 1856, and she is mentioned in it.
That was an intriguing title, in my opinion.
Her reputation as someone of great courage had already preceded her at the time, despite the fact that the title “Captain” was not generally used to women at the time (it is a military rank).
Harriet Tubman emerged with four fleeing slaves, according to the author’s description in his book.
To what extent did Delaware play a role in the Underground Railroad?
This is a pretty small town, as you are well aware of.
Delaware, on the other hand, had nearly no slaves.
Wilmington was a strange place to be.
A Wilmington merchant called Thomas Garrett claimed to have aided 3,000 fleeing slaves over the span of around 30 years before to the Civil War, according to one of the Quakers who made the claim.
One of the fugitives, whose name appears in Gay’s records, informs him that he is wanted for murder “When I arrived in Pennsylvania, I knocked on a door and requested to be sent to a Quaker meeting.
In this narrative, please tell us about the British aspect of it.
Washington was up in New York, speaking with General Clinton, the leader of the British forces in the city.
At the time, the British government was not an abolitionist.
Clinton, on the other hand, stated, “We must follow through on our promises.
Indeed, I would appreciate it if you could keep an eye out for a couple of my slaves who I believe are in the area.” It’s a sign of the paradox that was built into American history from the beginning: that you have a war for liberty, but it’s being fought by slave owners in the first place.
The issue of fleeing slaves was one of the underlying irritants that contributed to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
First and foremost, the authority of the Southern states to repatriate their fugitives is enshrined in the United States Constitution.
It doesn’t specify who is required to apprehend them or who bears accountability for this task.
For the first time, it became the responsibility of the federal government.
These cases would be heard by a new category of officials known as federal commissioners, who were appointed by the president.
In addition, it was retroactive.
This became a major source of contention between the North and the South.
Although the South desired this law, which overrode all of the rights granted to northern states, it was also an extremely bold display of national authority on the issue of slave trade and slavery.
Unarmed slave owners were slain in Pennsylvania as a crowd attempted to defend fleeing slaves from being captured by authorities.
This occurred in Syracuse at the same time.
In response, Southerners asked, “How can we trust the North when they willfully violate federal law and constitutional provisions when it comes to fugitive slaves?” Southerners asked.
What, if anything, has your perspective on early American history changed as a result of authoring this book?
So I’m not sure if my point of view has completely shifted.
Because this was done in secrecy, no one knows what the precise numbers were.
In 1860, there were four million slaves in the United States, so this is a drop in the bucket.
However, I believe it to be a significant accomplishment.
In recent years, there has been a great deal of racial animosity in this nation as a result of incidents involving the police, such as the one in Ferguson, Missouri.
A good example of black and white people working together in an inter-racial movement for a fair cause is shown here. And I believe we should be pleased with ourselves. Book Talk is curated by Simon Worrall. Subscribe to his blog atsimonworrallauthor.com or follow him on Twitter.
Underground Railroad, The (1820-1861)
Smuggled fugitives through the Underground Railroad during the winter seasonThe Underground Railroad was constructed to help enslaved persons in their escape to freedom. 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. From Florida to Cuba, or from Texas to Mexico, there were shorter routes that took you south.
The Underground Railroad’s success was dependent on the collaboration of previous runaway slaves, free-born blacks, Native Americans, and white and black abolitionists who assisted in guiding runaway slaves along the routes and providing their houses as safe havens for the fugitive slave population.
The Underground Railroad in the Nineteenth Century New York Public Library’s Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, part of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, provided this photograph.
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.
Ironically, the Fugitive Slave Act fueled Northern opposition to slavery and contributed to the outbreak of the American 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.
Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2006); David W.
Instructions for Citing This Article (in APA Format): Waggoner, C., and Waggoner, C. (n.d.). The Underground Railroad was in operation from 1820 until 1861). Project on the History of Social Welfare. It was retrieved from