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.
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.
How did the Underground Railroad impact slavery?
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.
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.
How did the Underground Railroad help enslaved African Americans?
How did the Underground Railroad help enslaved African Americans? It provided a network of escape routes toward the North. In his pamphlet Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, on what did David Walker base his arguments against slavery? They feared that the abolition of slavery would destroy their economy.
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.
What happened to the Underground Railroad?
End of the Line The Underground Railroad ceased operations about 1863, during the Civil War. In reality, its work moved aboveground as part of the Union effort against the Confederacy.
How many slaves were on the Underground Railroad?
The total number of runaways who used the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom is not known, but some estimates exceed 100,000 freed slaves during the antebellum period. Those involved in the Underground Railroad used code words to maintain anonymity.
Why was the Underground Railroad illegal?
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada as its final destination. The Act made it illegal for a person to help a run away, and citizens were obliged under the law to help slave catchers arrest fugitive slaves.
Was the Underground Railroad an actual 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.
How successful was the Underground Railroad?
Ironically the Fugitive Slave Act increased Northern opposition to slavery and helped hasten the Civil War. The Underground Railroad gave freedom to thousands of enslaved women and men and hope to tens of thousands more. In both cases the success of the Underground Railroad hastened the destruction of slavery.
How did the South feel about the Underground Railroad?
Reaction in the South to the growing number of slaves who escaped ranged from anger to political retribution. Large rewards were offered for runaways, and many people eager to make money or avoid offending powerful slave owners turned in runaway slaves. The U.S. Government also got involved.
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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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.
By the 1840s, the phrase “Underground Railroad” had become part of the common lexicon in the United States. 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.
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.
In many cases, Fugitive Slave Acts were the driving force behind their departure. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved persons from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the runaway slaves. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in several northern states to oppose this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. Aiming to improve on the previous legislation, which southern states believed was being enforced insufficiently, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed.
It was still considered a risk for an escaped individual to travel to the northern states.
In Canada, some Underground Railroad operators established bases of operations and sought to assist fugitives in settling into their new home country.
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.
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.
Escapees from slavery travelled north in order to reclaim their freedom and escape harsh living conditions in their home countries. They required daring and cunning in order to elude law enforcement agents and professional slave catchers, who were paid handsomely for returning them to their masters’ possession. Southerners were extremely resentful of people in the North who helped the slaves in their plight. They invented the name “Underground Railroad” to refer to a well-organized network dedicated to keeping slaves away from their masters, which occasionally extended as far as crossing the Canadian border.
In 1850, Congress created the Fugitive Slave Law, which imposed severe fines on anybody found guilty of assisting slaves in their attempts to flee.
Underground Railroad “Stations” Develop in Iowa
Iowa shares a southern border with Missouri, which was a slave state during the American Civil War. The abolitionist movement (those who desired to abolish slavery) built a system of “stations” in the 1840s and 1850s that could transport runaways from the Mississippi River to Illinois on their route to freedom. Activists from two religious movements, the Congregationalists and the Quakers, played crucial roles in the abolitionist movement. They were also involved in the Underground Railroad’s operations in the state of New York.
- According to one source, there are more than 100 Iowans who are participating in the endeavor.
- The Hitchcock House, located in Cass County near Lewis, is another well-known destination on the Underground Railroad in one form or another.
- George Hitchcock escorted “passengers” to the next destination on his route.
- Several of these locations are now public museums that are available to the general public.
- Individual families also reacted when they were approached for assistance.
- When the Civil War broke out and the Fugitive Slave Law could no longer be enforced in the northern states, a large number of slaves fled into the state and eventually settled there permanently.
Iowa became the first state to offer black males the right to vote in 1868. It was determined that segregated schools and discrimination in public accommodations were both unconstitutional in Iowa by the Supreme Court.
Iowa: A Free State Willing to Let Slavery Exist
Slavery has been a contentious topic in the United States since its inception, and it continues to be so today. As new states entered the Union, the early fights did not revolve over slavery in the South but rather its expansion. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 created an east-west line along the southern boundary of Missouri, which would remain in place for the rest of time, separating free and slave settlement. States to the south may legalize slavery, whilst states to the north (with the exception of slave state Missouri) were prohibited from doing so.
- The majority of Iowans were ready to allow slavery to continue in the South.
- They enacted legislation in an attempt to deter black people from settling in the state.
- Iowa did have a tiny community of abolitionists who believed that slavery was a moral wrong that should be abolished everywhere.
- This increased the likelihood that Nebraska, which borders Iowa on its western border, would become a slave state.
- The Republican Party has evolved as a staunch opponent of any future expansion of slavery into western areas in the United States.
- $200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- “Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Print, 1850 (Image)
- Fugitive Slave Law, 1850 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Do
How did runaway slaves rely on the help of abolitionists to escape to freedom?
- Article from the Anti-Slavery Bugle titled “William and Ellen Craft,” published on February 23, 1849 (Document)
- Anti-Slavery Bugle Article titled “Underground Railroad,” published on September 16, 1854 (Document)
- “A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article published on November 8, 1855 (Document)
- William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, circa 1890 (Image)
How did some runaway slaves create their own opportunities to escape?
- A newspaper article entitled “The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry Box Brown” published on June 23, 1849 (Document)
- The Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, published in 1850 (Image, Document)
- “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” illustration published in 1850 (Image)
- Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” published on June 14, 1862 (Do
$200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847
- After escaping enslavement, many people depended on northern whites to guide them securely to the northern free states and eventually to Canadian territory. For someone who had previously been forced into slavery, life may be quite perilous. There were incentives for capturing them, as well as adverts such as the one seen below for a prize. More information may be found here.
“Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Illustration, 1850
- Written in strong opposition to the Runaway Slave Act, which was approved by Congress in September 1850 and expanded federal and free-state duty for the return of fugitive slaves, this letter is full of anger. The bill called for the appointment of federal commissioners who would have the authority to enact regulations. More information may be found here.
Fugitive Slave Law, 1850
- As a result of the Fleeing Slave Law of 1850, it became unlawful for anybody in the northern United States to aid fugitive slaves in their quest for freedom. This statute supplemented the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act with additional clauses addressing runaways, and it imposed even harsher sanctions for interfering with their escape. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “William and Ellen Craft,” February 23, 1849
- In this article from the abolitionist journal, The Anti-Slavery Bugle, the narrative of Ellen and William Craft’s emancipation from slavery is described in detail. Ellen disguised herself as a male in order to pass as the master, while her husband, William, claimed to be her servant as they made their way out of the building. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “Underground Railroad,” September 16, 1854
- The Anti-Slavery Bugle article indicates the number of runaway slaves in northern cities in 1854, based on a survey conducted by the organization. This group contained nine slaves from Boone County, Kentucky, who were seeking refuge in the United States. Their captors were said to be on the lookout for them in Cincinnati, and they were found. More information may be found here.
“A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article, November 8, 1855
- This newspaper story was written in Fayettville, Tennessee, in 1855 and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a priest in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article details his ordeal in detail. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting escaped slaves on their way to freedom. More information may be found here.
William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, 1890
- It was published in the Fayetteville, Tennessee, newspaper in 1855, and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a clergyman in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article tells what happened. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting fugitive slaves on their way out of the country. More information may be found at:
“Fugitive Slave Case Was Tried” – A Daily Gate City Article, April 13, 1915
- This story, which was published in the Keokuk, Iowa, newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915, is about a trial that took place in Burlington in 1850. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had fled from Missouri and had worked for him as slaves. More information may be found here.
“The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry ‘Box’ Brown” Article, June 23, 1849
- It was published in the Keokuk, Iowa newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915 and is about a trial that took place in Burlington, Iowa, in 1850 and was published in The Daily Gate City. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had escaped from Missouri and had been working for him. More information may be found at:
Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, 1850
- Image of the engraving on the box that Henry “Box” Brown built and used to send himself to freedom in Virginia. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. There is a label on the box that says “Right side up with care.” During his first appearance out of the box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the attached song, Henry “Box” Brown sang a song that is included here. More information may be found here.
“The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” Illustration, 1850
- Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who escaped from Richmond, Virginia, in a box measuring three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two and a half feet broad, is depicted in a somewhat comical but sympathetic manner in this artwork. In the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society’s administrative offices. More information may be found here.
Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” June 14, 1862
- The escape of Robert Smalls and other members of his family and friends from slavery was chronicled in detail in an article published in Harper’s Weekly. Smalls was an enslaved African American who acquired freedom during and after the American Civil War and went on to work as a ship’s pilot on the high seas. More information may be found here.
“A Bold Stroke for Freedom” Illustration, 1872
- The image from 1872 depicts African Americans, most likely fleeing slaves, standing in front of a wagon and brandishing firearms towards slave-catchers. A group of young enslaved persons who had escaped from Loudon by wagon are said to be shown in the cartoon on Christmas Eve in 1855, when patrollers caught up with them. More information may be found here.
- Harriet Tubman Day is observed annually on March 31. The statement issued by the State of Delaware on the observance of Harriet Ross Tubman Day on March 10, 2017 may be seen on the website. Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long both signed the statement. Harriet Tubman – A Guide to Online Resources A wide range of material linked with Harriet Tubman may be found in these digital collections from the Library of Congress, which include manuscripts, pictures, and publications. It is the goal of this guide to consolidate connections to digital materials about Harriet Tubman that are available throughout the Library of Congress website. Scenes from Harriet Tubman’s Life and Times The website, which is accessible through the Digital Public Library of America, contains portions from the novel Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, written by Sarah Bradford in 1869 and published by the American Library Association.
- Maryland’s Pathways to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in the State of Maryland On this website, you will find primary documents pertaining to Maryland and the Underground Railroad. Information from three former slaves, Samuel Green, Phoebe Myers, and others is included in this collection. “The Underground Railroad: A Secret History” by Eric Foner is a book on the history of the Underground Railroad. The author of this piece from The Atlantic discusses the “secret history” of the Underground Railroad, which he believes reveals that the network was not nearly as secretive as many people believe. Emancipation of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery According to “Documenting the American South,” this webpage focuses on how slaves William and Ellen Craft escaped from Georgia and sought asylum and freedom in the United States’ northern states.
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (8th Grade)
The content anchor requirements for Iowa Core Social Studies that are most accurately reflected in this source collection are listed below. The subject requirements that have been implemented to this set are appropriate for middle school pupils and cover the major areas that make up social studies for eighth grade students in the United States.
- S.8.13.Explain the rights and obligations of people, political parties, and the media in the context of a range of governmental and nonprofit organizations and institutions. (Skills for the twenty-first century)
- SS.8.19.Explain how immigration and migration were influenced by push and pull influences in early American history. SS.8.21.Examine the relationships and linkages between early American historical events and developments in the context of wider historical settings
- In your explanation of how and why prevalent social, cultural, and political viewpoints altered over early American history, please include the following information: SS.8.23.Explain the numerous causes, impacts, and changes that occurred in early American history
- And The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell Address, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty with France, the Monroe Doctrine, the Indian Removal Act, the Missouri Compromise, Dred Scott v. Sanford, and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo are examples of primary and secondary sources of information that should be critiqued with consideration for the source of the document, its context, accuracy, and usefulness.
See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to freedom. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this historical period. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that publishes encyclopedias. View all of the videos related to this topic. When escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada, this was referred to as the Underground Railroad in the United States.
Even though it was neither underground nor a railroad, it was given this name because its actions had to be carried out in secret, either via the use of darkness or disguise, and because railroad words were employed in relation to the system’s operation.
In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down or capture them.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, obtained firsthand experience of escaped slaves via her association with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived for a time during the Civil War.
The existence of the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that it was only a small minority of Northerners who took part in it, did much to arouse Northern sympathy for the plight of slaves during the antebellum period, while also convincing many Southerners that the North as a whole would never peacefully allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.
When was the first time a sitting president of the United States appeared on television? Return to the past for the really American responses. Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.
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.|
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 an unusual place.
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 story, 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 period, 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 right 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 powers 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 killed in Pennsylvania when a mob attempted to protect 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 break federal law and constitutional rules 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 big accomplishment.
In recent years, there has been a great deal of racial tension in this country 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.
The Secret History of the Underground Railroad
This is the film from 2013. The film 12 Years a Slave brought the most heinous period in American history to the forefront of the public’s attention. It was in servitude that the vast majority of slaves perished. The Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses and dedicated helpers that was established to aid those fleeing slavery, was only known to a lucky (and courageous) few. Since its inception, the Underground Railroad has frequently been overvalued or undervalued, depending on who you ask.
Using his Upper West Side office, Foner describes 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 for Independence was the return of 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 heightened tensions between black and white people in the U.S.
What was the catalyst for your discovery of Gay’s “Register of Fugitives” and how it influenced your decision to tell this story?
All of his papers are in this room, and she mentioned to me one day that there was a small document in this room that dealt with fugitive slaves.
“Record of Fugitives” was the title of these two small notebooks.
Having interviewed them due to his position as a journalist, Gay’s notebook contains fascinating information about who owned these slaves, where they came from, how they escaped, who assisted them in their escape, how they arrived in New York, and where Gay sent them on their way to freedom in Canada.
- Make a brief introduction about yourself.
- The author was born in Massachusetts and initially became active as an abolitionist about 1840-1841, first as a public speaker and then as a writer.
- Abolitionists found New York to be an especially hostile setting.
- Gay, on the other hand, was a brave individual.
- Aside from being a newspaper office, it also served as a sort of Underground Railroad station, with slaves coming through from as far south as possible.
- At one point in its history, many people thought the Underground Railroad was nothing more than a piece of local folklore.
- It has been depicted incorrectly on both sides of the border, including the United States.
However, other academics consider it to be completely unworthy of study.
Because there is so much legend around the Underground Railroad, I began out with a skepticism about the whole thing.
Nevertheless, when I dug more into these records, I came to the conclusion that there had been such a network in existence.
A lot of the communication took place between small, local organizations.
The number of persons actively working to help slaves in New York City was never more than a dozen at any given moment.
As a result, it’s important not to overstate the case.
For many years, many people, including myself, were under the impression that the Underground Railroad was actually a railroad.
The exact origin of the term, as well as the date on which it was first employed, 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 pursuit of justice.
Escape routes for slaves were many.
There were trains that ran between the upper South and the North, and if you could get your hands on some “free papers” from someone, you could board a train and travel up to the North.
In one element of this narrative, the film 12 Years a Slave brought it to light.
Something about the film stands out to me: the tale is on an undocumented individual who is abducted and sold into slavery.
It was common for gangs to prey on black people in New York City, particularly children.
A group known as the New York Vigilance Committee is credited with establishing the Underground Railroad.
Afterwards, they expanded their services to include fugitives passing through the city on their way to safety in the South.
They simply snatched them from under our noses and returned them.
In your novel, there are a lot of heroes and heroines.
In your own words, tell us about her and her business.
Her escape was unusual in that she returned multiple times throughout the 1850s, unlike most others.
It was a serious crime in the South to assist a fleeing slave, and the sanctions were severe.
In other words, anyone who attempted this in the South was taking a huge risk.
This document, the “Record of Fugitives,” contains information about her two trips through New York City in 1855 and 1856.
Harriet Tubman is the nickname given to her by Sydney Howard Gay.
There is an inference that he knew her before to this or knew who she was before she committed herself.
A line of Quakers from Wilmington, North Carolina, harbored escaped slaves during the Civil War.
Delmarva was a significant state.
Although on the road between Maryland’s eastern shore, where slavery was prevalent, and the free lands of Pennsylvania, it was an important stop.
Due to the fact that there were only 1,800 slaves in Delaware by 1860, most of the persons travelling through are from Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia.
However, despite the fact that it was in a slave state, it was just five or six miles from the Pennsylvania border and it was one of the very few places where there was an active anti-slavery campaign involving Quakers.
Because of their anti-slavery stance, the Quakers were well-known throughout the South, including among slaves.
Please send me to a Quaker, I don’t care who it is.” One of George Washington’s primary priorities following the War of Independence was regaining control of his slaves, which is a bit unnerving to learn.
While evacuating Charleston and Savannah after World War II ended, the British took with them a large number of slaves.
New York City was the destination of thousands of fugitive slaves.
With slavery flourishing throughout the British Empire, it is little surprise that Clinton, on the other hand, stated that “We have to follow through on our commitments to one another.
Bush stated that “In order for us to regain control of our slaves, And I would like it if you could keep an eye out for a couple of my slaves who I believe may be hiding somewhere in this building.” It’s a sign of the paradox that was built into American history from the beginning: that you have a battle for liberty, but it’s being fought by slave owners in the process.
In the years leading up to the American Civil War, one of the most persistent issues was the issue of fugitive slaves.
As a starting point, the right of the Southern states to repatriate their fugitives is protected by the United States Constitution.
Nobody knows who is expected to capture them or who is in charge of ensuring that they are apprehended.
For the first time, it became a matter of national concern.
These matters would be heard by a new type of officials known as federal commissioners, who were appointed by the federal government.
The law was also applicable to previous years.
Between the North and the South, this became a major source of tension.
Although the South desired this rule, which overrode all of the powers granted to northern states, it was also an extremely bold display of national authority on the issue of slave trade protection.
Unarmed slave owners were slain in Pennsylvania as a crowd attempted to defend fleeing slaves from being captured by law enforcement officials.
In Syracuse, the same thing occurred.
“How can we trust the North since they are prepared to violate federal law and constitutional principles when it comes to fugitive slaves?” Southerners began to ask.
When it comes to early American history, how has authoring this book influenced your perspective?
My point of view may have evolved, but I’m not sure.
As a result of the secrecy surrounding this, no one knows what the precise statistics are.
In 1860, there were four million slaves, so this is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall population.
It is, nonetheless, a tremendous achievement, in my opinion, Inspiring, I think you’ll agree.
Here’s an example of black and white individuals working together in a fair cause as part of an inter-racial movement: And I believe that is something to be proud of as a nation.
Book Talk is organized by Simon Worrall. To keep up with him, follow him on Twitter or visit his website, Simon Worrall Author.