For the slaves traveling north on the Underground Railroad, they were still in danger once they entered northern states. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 allowed and encouraged the capture of fugitive slaves due to the fact that they were seen as stolen property, rather than abused human beings.
How did the Fugitive Slave Act affect the Underground Railroad?
Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them.
What effect would the fugitive Slave Law have on Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad?
The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act allowed fugitive and freed workers in the north to be captured and enslaved. This made Harriet’s job as an Underground Railroad conductor much harder and forced her to lead enslaved people further north to Canada, traveling at night, usually in the spring or fall when the days were shorter.
What role did the Underground Railroad play in the resistance to slavery?
The Underground Railroad—the resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, through the end of the Civil War—refers to the efforts of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom by escaping bondage. Wherever slavery existed, there were efforts to escape.
What caused the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was established to aid enslaved people in their escape to freedom. The railroad was comprised of dozens of secret routes and safe houses originating in the slaveholding states and extending all the way to the Canadian border, the only area where fugitives could be assured of their freedom.
How did the Underground Railroad affect Canada?
The Underground Railroad was a secret network of abolitionists (people who wanted to abolish slavery). They helped African Americans escape from enslavement in the American South to free Northern states or to Canada. It brought between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada).
What happened after the Underground Railroad?
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. Thousands of slaves settled in newly formed communities in Southern Ontario. Suddenly their job became more difficult and riskier.
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 many slaves used 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.
How did the Underground Railroad affect the Civil War?
The Underground Railroad physically resisted the repressive laws that held slaves in bondage. By provoking fear and anger in the South, and prompting the enactment of harsh legislation that eroded the rights of white Americans, the Underground Railroad was a direct contributing cause of the Civil War.
How important was the Underground Railroad?
The underground railroad, where it existed, offered local service to runaway slaves, assisting them from one point to another. The primary importance of the underground railroad was that it gave ample evidence of African American capabilities and gave expression to African American philosophy.
Why was the Underground Railroad called a 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 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.
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?
According to historical records, the Quakers were the first organized organization to actively assist fugitive slaves. When Quakers attempted to “liberate” one of Washington’s enslaved employees in 1786, George Washington took exception to it. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were fleeing their masters’ hands. Abolitionist societies founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitives at the same time.
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
While some traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, or through Detroit on their route to Canada, others chose to travel south. The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
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.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Abolitionist He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was during this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, an organization dedicated to aiding fleeing slaves in their journey to Canada. With the abolitionist movement, Brown would play a variety of roles, most notably leading an assault on Harper’s Ferry to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people under threat of death. Eventually, Brown’s forces were defeated, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two of them were jailed for aiding an escaped enslaved woman and her child escape.
- When Charles Torrey assisted an enslaved family fleeing through Virginia, he was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland.
- was his base of operations; earlier, he had served as an abolitionist newspaper editor in Albany, New York.
- In addition to being fined and imprisoned for a year, Walker had the letters “SS” for Slave Stealer tattooed on his right hand.
As a slave trader, Fairfield’s strategy was to travel across the southern states. Twice he managed to escape from prison. Tennessee’s arebellion claimed his life in 1860, and he was buried there.
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.
1850 Fugitive Slave Act · The Underground Railroad · The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Borderland
Slave catchers should be on the lookout for African Americans residing in Boston. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the number of slave escapes skyrocketed. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which was intended to prevent slave escapes, had the opposite effect. After 1850, the number of people who escaped from Kentucky climbed by 53 percent. The Fugitive Law, according to one Underground Railroad agent, “has boosted the stock on some of our Western routes, by at least 50 to 75 percent,” according to a statement made in 1855.
- According to news sources, the flight of slaves resembled a stampede.
- Similar legislation passed in 1793 gave slaveholders the ability to retrieve slaves while also requiring states to aid them in their efforts.
- According to the court’s decision, state officials were banned from intervening with fugitive slaves.
- The 1793 Fugitive Slave Law was declared illegal by the Supreme Court, and only federal officers were authorized to execute it.
- According to the 1850 Runaway Slave Act, federal officials were authorized to abduct any African American suspected of being a fugitive.
- Anyone of African descent might be accused of being a slave by agents.
- The word of a slaveholder was regarded adequate evidence that the individual in issue was the runaway in question.
The legal consequences for anyone who help fugitives or impede the law in any way were more severe, with a $1000 fine per fugitive and six months in jail being the most severe penalties.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 not only increased the number of escapes in the South, but it also caused many fugitives residing in the Ohio Valley Borderland to travel even further north.
As hundreds of formerly enslaved people dreaded being recaptured, black populations in Indiana and Ohio declined.
According to theLouisville Courier, “.the Fugitive Slave Law cannot be implemented in Ohio and is unlikely to be enacted in the future.” After 1850, slave catchers appointed by the federal government patrolled the Ohio River on a regular basis in search of fugitives.
Agents utilized harsh tactics to abduct and imprison every African-American they came into touch with while acting under federal authority.
Three agents from Washington County, Ohio, were abducted and carried to Virginia, where they were imprisoned for assisting fugitives in 1845.
A word of caution to runaway slaves.
Hudson, Fugitive Slaves, Fugitive Slaves, See p. 83 for information on slaveholder gatherings. According to the Louisville Couriernews, page 5064. The Frontline, pages 107-108. Griffler, Frontline. Hudson’s Fugitive Slaves, Volume 85. Griffler,Frontline,82-83.
Fugitive Slave Acts
Historically, the Fugitive Slave Acts were two pieces of legislation established by Congress in 1793 and 1850 (and repealed in 1864) that allowed for the capture and return of fugitive slaves who escaped from one state into another or into a federally administered region. The 1793 legislation carried out Article IV, Section 2 of the United States Constitution by permitting any federal district judge or circuit court judge, as well as any state magistrate, to determine the legal status of an accused fugitive slave without the need for a trial by jury.
- These laws established that fugitives who challenged an initial ruling against them were entitled to a jury trial.
- The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes.
- Weber (c.1893).
- LC-USZ62-28860) Quiz on the Encyclopedia Britannica This quiz will examine the history of slavery and resistance.
- Who was the leader of the mutiny of 53 enslaved individuals on the Spanish slave ship Amistad that occurred in 1839?
- Take the quiz to find out.
Under this rule, fugitives were not permitted to testify in their own defense, nor were they given the opportunity to stand trial before a jury.
In addition, under the 1850 statute, special commissioners were to have concurrent jurisdiction with the United States courts in the enforcement of the law.
There was a rise in the number of abolitionists, the Underground Railroad activities grew more efficient, and new personal-liberty legislation were established in several Northern states during this period.
The attempts to put the legislation of 1850 into action sparked a great deal of animosity and were very certainly responsible for stoking sectional antagonism as much as the debate over slavery in the territory.
The Library of Congress’s Printed Ephemera Collection is located in Washington, D.C.
Portfolio 22, Folder 12b) A period of time during the American Civil War was regarded to be a period of time during which the Fugitive Slave Acts were still in effect in the instance of Blacks fleeing from masters in border states that were loyal to the Union authority.
It wasn’t until June 28, 1864, that the acts were finally overturned by the legislature. Those in charge of editing the Encyclopaedia Britannica Adam Augustyn was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.
One of American History’s Worst Laws Was Passed 165 Years Ago
Despite the fact that it had been 30 years since Thomas Jefferson compared the combustible subject of slavery expansion to “a fire bell in the night'” that would one day ring “a death knell for the Union,” the fulfillment of Jefferson’s ominous prophecy appeared to be very close in the year 1850. Although they were still a minority in the 1830s, northern abolitionists grew loud and disruptive enough to cause genuine worry in the slave states while making additional political concessions to slavery in the free states increasingly difficult.
Initially, the Senate’s balance of slave-state and free-state votes didomed the legislation, but demographic statistics were shifting at the time.
The admission of California as a free state swayed the scales in the Senate as well.
18, 1850, exactly 165 years ago today.
It compelled the federal government to go far beyond its constitutional authority in defense of slavery at a time when anti-slavery sentiment was clearly on the rise, provoking outrage and defiance in the North and, as a result, further deepening southerners’ suspicions that their rights could no longer be protected within the United States of America Initially, the new law appeared to be a straightforward attempt to enforce the United States Constitution, specifically Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, which stated that slaves did not become free simply by escaping to a free state and, as a result, stipulated that slaves must be returned to their legal owners.
The framers of the 1850 measure, however, went far beyond earlier efforts that were little more than lip service to this mandate, transferring jurisdiction from northern courts to a federal commission that was blatantly encouraged to rule in favor of the slaveholder by a compensation rate of $10 for each black person returned to the South (as opposed to only $5 if the claim was disallowed) and a compensation rate of $10 for each black person remanded North.
- In addition to prohibiting testimony from the putative fugitives themselves, the legislation obliged ordinarily disinterested private persons to aid in the apprehension and return of the suspects under fear of punishment or jail.
- However, there were some more tangible concerns at play.
- It was no accident that both Douglass and Garnet were able to make their way out of Maryland at the same time.
- Hummel and Barry R.
- The fact that the most dangerous flight risks were also the most expensive to replace meant that able-bodied male slaves became a significantly less appealing investment in border nations.
- However, if the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to strengthen slavery in any way, there is no evidence to suggest that it did so.
- Over the next decade, the number of runaways reduced by just 200, and the 330 people who returned to slavery barely exceeded the number of escapes from the Border States alone in 1860, according to the Bureau of the Census.
- Even whites in the north, who had previously been apprehensive about the presence of African Americans in their midst, now call for stronger state guarantees for personal liberty and freedom.
- Rather than forcing its nefarious expansionist will on remote geographical frontiers, the oft-invoked “slave power cabal” seems set on imposing it on their very own, purportedly “free,” communities, under the authority and muscle of their own government.
- As such, it not only exacerbated the very fears and concerns on both sides that had thrown the Union into crisis in 1850, but it also further undermined the political fortunes of those who had demanded it in the first place, as would become evident later.
It was made apparent by the Fugitive Slave Act that any further extension of the physical and political reach of human bondage would be irreconcilable with the shift in substantive northern objectives and the attendant establishment of a new public morality that would result as a result of this shift.
Distinguished professor of history James C. Cobb is now the Spalding Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Georgia, and he previously served as president of the Southern Historical Association.
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The Underground Railroad – Lincoln Home National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)
When we talk about the Underground Railroad, we’re talking about the attempts of enslaved African Americans to earn their freedom by escaping bondage, which took place from the beginning of the Civil War to the end of the war. In every country where slavery existed, there was a concerted attempt to flee, first to maroon communities in remote locations far from settlements, then across state and international borders. Runaways were considered “fugitives” under the rules of the period because of their acts of self-emancipation, albeit in retrospect, the term “freedom seeker” appears to be a more fair description.
It’s possible that the choice to aid a freedom seeking was taken on the spur of the moment.
Freedom seekers traveled in a variety of directions, including Canada, Mexico, the United States West, the Caribbean islands, and Europe.
The Fugitive Slave Acts
Until the end of the Civil War, enslavement in the United States was considered lawful and acceptable. In contrast to the rhetoric of the Revolutionary War era about freedom, the new United States constitution safeguarded the rights of individuals to possess and enslave other people, including women. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 further reinforced these slaveholding rights, allowing for the return to captivity of any African American who was accused or simply suspected of being a freedom seeker under certain circumstances.
It was a $500 punishment for anybody who supported a liberator or just interfered with an arrest, a clear recognition of the significance and lasting influence on American society of the Underground Railroad phenomenon decades before it was given its official name.
Individuals in the North were brought face to face with the immoral issue by the spectacle of African Americans being reenslaved at the least provocation and the selling of abducted free African Americans to the South for slavery.
Those who aided freedom seekers in their attempts to flee were considered members of the Underground Railroad. “Buy us too,” says H.L. Stephens in his parting words. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information.
Motivation of Freedom Seekers
Time period, geographic location, kind of agriculture or industry, size of the slaveholding unit, urban vs rural environment, and even the temperament and financial stability of the enslaver all influenced the degree to which people were enslaved. All of these experiences have one thing in common: the dehumanization of both the victim and the oppressor as a result of the demands of a system that treats human beings as property rather than as individuals. This element, probably more than any other, helps to explain why some people opted to escape and why their owners were frequently taken aback by their actions.
Many people were able to flee because they had access to knowledge and abilities, including reading, which gave them an advantage.
The slaves rebelled despite the fact that the slavery system was intended to train them to accept it.
Geography of the Underground Railroad
Wherever there were enslaved African Americans, there were those who were desperate to get away. Slavery existed in all of the original thirteen colonies, as well as in Spanish California, Louisiana, and Florida, as well as in all of the Caribbean islands, until the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and the British abolition of slavery brought an end to slavery in the United States (1834). The Underground Railroad had its beginnings at the site of enslavement in the United States. The routes followed natural and man-made forms of movement, including rivers, canals, bays, the Atlantic Coast, ferries and river crossings, as well as roads and trails and other infrastructure.
Freedom seekers used their inventiveness to devise disguises, forgeries, and other techniques, drawing on their courage and brains in the process.
Commemoration of Underground Railroad History
Commemoration may only take place if local Underground Railroad figures and events have been discovered and documented. Primary materials, such as letters from the time period, court testimony, or newspaper articles, are used to verify the historical record. Education and preservation of the public are the following steps, which will be accomplished through the preservation of major locations, the use of authentic history in heritage tourism and educational programs, museum and touring exhibits, and commemorative sculpture.
Whenever a site has been paved over, changed, or reconstructed, a pamphlet, walking tour, school curriculum, road marker, or plaque might be used to educate the public about the significance of the location.
A local festival might be organized to bring the history of the area to the attention of the general public.
Uncovering Underground Railroad History
Despite years of assertions that the Underground Railroad’s history was shrouded in secrecy, local historians, genealogists, oral historians, and other researchers have discovered that primary sources describing the flight to freedom of many enslaved African Americans have survived to the present day. It is becoming clearer that the slaves were determined to pursue their own and their families’ freedom, as evidenced by court documents, memoirs of conductors and freedom seekers, letters, runaway advertisements in newspapers, and military records.
A lot of the time, no one has been able to piece together the parts of freedom seekers’ narrative by looking at their starting and ending locations, let alone the moments in between.
Anthony Burns is a writer who lives in New York City.
Unknown Underground Railroad Heroes
Despite years of assertions that the Underground Railroad’s history was shrouded in secrecy, local historians, genealogists, oral historians, and other researchers have discovered that primary sources describing the flight to freedom of many enslaved African Americans have survived to the present time. Court documents, memoirs of conductors and freedom seekers, letters, runaway advertising in newspapers, and military records are all coming to light, all bearing witness to the enslaved’s desire to pursue freedom for themselves and their family.
A lot of the time, no one has been able to piece together the parts of freedom seekers’ narrative by looking at their starting and ending locations, much less the moments in between.
Anthony Burns is a writer who lives in the United Kingdom.
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
Despite years of allegations that the Underground Railroad’s history was a well guarded secret, local historians, genealogists, oral historians, and other scholars have discovered that there exist original records chronicling the escape to freedom of numerous enslaved African Americans. It is becoming clearer that the slaves were determined to pursue their own and their families’ freedom, as evidenced by court documents, memoirs of conductors and freedom seekers, letters, runaway advertising in newspapers, and military records.
Often, no one has put the parts of the story of freedom seekers together by looking at their starting and ending points, let alone the moments in between.
Anthony Burns is an American actor and director. The Library of Congress is a government-run institution that collects and organizes information.
Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
According to Ohio History Central This group of freedom seekers made their way to freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad and settled in the city of Windsor, Ontario. According to the order of their names, from left to right, the back row includes Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Mansfield Smith, and Mrs. Seymour; the front row includes Stevenson and Johnson. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was enacted as part of the Compromise of 1850, which abolished slavery. As a result of this rule, the United States government was compelled to aggressively help slave proprietors in the recapturing of liberation seekers.
- With the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, the federal government was obligated to help slave owners.
- This measure was criticized by abolitionists in the North.
- Abolitionists hoped that the Fugitive Slave Law would grant African Americans the opportunity to testify in court as well as the right to a jury trial.
- The Fugitive Slave Law was plainly in the favor of the slave owners and their descendants.
- Marshals from the United States had to go out of their way to find and restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners.
- African Americans were not permitted to present evidence to a federal commissioner who was appointed to hear a case and determine whether an African American was a slave or a free individual.
- If the commissioner decided in favor of the white guy, the commissioner earned a monetary reward of 10 dollars for his efforts.
This section of the Fugitive Slave Law was criticized by many abolitionists for serving as a way of bribing the commissioners.
332 African Americans were forced into slavery in the South out of the total population of 343 persons.
Hundreds of thousands of African Americans migrated to Canada during the Civil Rights Movement.
The legitimacy of the Fugitive Slave Law was challenged in court by abolitionists, but the United States Supreme Court maintained the law’s constitutionality in 1859.
They urged people to fight any attempts to enforce it and referred to this law as the “Kidnap Law” in order to raise awareness.
On a few occasions, residents of Ohio physically obstructed the implementation of the Fugitive Slave Law.
A federal marshal apprehended a freedom seeker and sought to deport him back to the United States of America.
Residents of Oberlin and Wellington assisted the freedom seekers in their escape once more. For breaching the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, thirty-seven persons were charged. In the end, just two of the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison time.
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
Escapees from slavery travelled north in order to reclaim their freedom and escape horrible living conditions back home. Their boldness and cunning were required in order to elude law enforcement agents and professional slave catchers, who were paid handsomely for returning them to their masters. People in the South were furious with Northerners for assisting the slaves, and the North was furious with them. They developed 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 the Canadian border.
Fugitive Slave Law was created by Congress in 1850 and punishes anybody found guilty of assisting slaves in their attempts to flee the country.
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 majority of Iowans were opposed to the idea. 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
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 filled with anger. According to the statute, federal commissioners with the authority to issue directives were to be appointed. More information may be found at.
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 newspaper story from Fayettville, Tennessee, was published in 1855. The article tells how Rev. T. B. McCormick, a priest in Indiana, was suspended for his involvement with the Underground Railroad. In the narrative, he is accused of helping fugitive slaves in their escape. Read on for more information.
“The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry ‘Box’ Brown” Article, June 23, 1849
This newspaper story was first published in Fayettville, Tennessee, in 1855.
The article explains how a priest in Indiana, Rev. T. B. McCormick, was suspended from his position because he was a member of the Underground Railroad. He is accused in the account of helping fugitive slaves in their escape. 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
The etching on the box that Henry “Box” Brown built and used to send himself to freedom in Virginia may be seen in the photograph. “Right side up with care” is written on the package. During his exit from the box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in, Henry “Box” Brown sang the song that is attached. More information may be found at.
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 page, you can find primary materials pertaining to Maryland and the Underground Railroad. This includes information from three former slaves, Samuel Green, Phoebe Myers, and their descendants today. “The Underground Railroad: A Secret History” by Eric Foner is a book on the history of the Underground Railroad. Among the topics covered in this piece from The Atlantic is the Underground Railroad’s “secret history,” which includes the reality that the network was not nearly as covert as many people believed.
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.