Along with the broader abolitionist movement, the Underground Railroad, forced Americans to think in new ways about the nation’s history of political compromise with slavery, and to realize that all Americans — white as well as black — were, in some sense, shackled to the fate of the slave.
What impact did the Underground Railroad have?
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.
Who was affected by the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was the network used by enslaved black Americans to obtain their freedom in the 30 years before the Civil War (1860-1865).
Why was the Underground Railroad so important?
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.
Did the Underground Railroad Go West?
There were many well-used routes stretching west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa. Others headed north through Pennsylvania and into New England or through Detroit on their way to Canada.
How did the Underground Railroad impact 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.
Was the Underground Railroad a success?
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.
Who ended slavery?
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “all persons held as slaves… shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free,” effective January 1, 1863. It was not until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, in 1865, that slavery was formally abolished ( here ).
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.
Is the Underground Railroad on Netflix?
Unfortunately, The Underground Railroad is not currently on Netflix and most likely, the series will not come to the streaming giant any time soon.
What did you learn about the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad occurred during one of the most challenging eras in the history of the United States of America. It provided an opportunity for sympathetic Americans to assist in the abolition of slavery. It demonstrates the creativity and innovation of communication systems and planned escapes.
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.
How did the Underground Railroad help promote justice?
The Underground Railroad became a catalyst for propaganda as both the abolitionists and slave owners used tales of escape to gain popular support for their cause. The abolitionists used the stories of successful escapes to rally to action those who supported the causes of equality and freedom.
How many slaves died trying to escape?
At least 2 million Africans –10 to 15 percent–died during the infamous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.
How many slaves escaped with 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.
What impact did the Underground Railroad have on Canada?
They helped African Americans escape from enslavement in the American South to free Northern states or to Canada. The Underground Railroad was the largest anti-slavery freedom movement in North America. It brought between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada).
Even yet, the legacy of free black volunteers assisting fugitives continued to be built upon. In Philadelphia, he joined the largest and wealthiest northern free black community, one that was home to a slew of churches, clubs, and mutual assistance groups, among them the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which he attended as a young child. Even before the American Revolution, these institutions contributed to the development of a strong black leadership class in Philadelphia, which had played a role in establishing the city as an epicenter of American abolition.
The Pennsylvania Abolition Society and the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society were established to fight against bondage and provide assistance to liberate black people in the state of Pennsylvania.
It was common in Pennsylvania courts during the 1850s to see people charged with assisting and hiding fugitives from slavery, and those charged with such crimes faced hearings that may result in their being forced back into bondage.
Because it compelled federal agents to seek runaway slaves and onlookers to engage in their apprehension when called upon, the 1850 legislation made it impossible to provide assistance to fugitives, in particular.
- While the narrative of the Underground Railroad dates back to the colonial era, it serves as a powerful example of inter-racial cooperation in the struggle for social justice that continues today.
- Citizens from various walks of life who worked as guides and conductors on the train had come to see that the United States’ racial caste system was harmful to all Americans, and they took nonviolent direct action to combat the injustice they witnessed.
- (NYU Press, 2011).
- in history before becoming an associate professor of history and assistant provost at the University of Houston-Victoria.
- “Passmore Williamson and Jane Johnson’s Recue” is a novel set in the shadow of the American Civil War.
- New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.
- Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1961, pp.
II, Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey, 1775-1865, he writes on the “rough road to abolition.” 2015.
Stanley Harrold is a fictional character created by author Stanley Harrold.
The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, published a book in 2010 entitled Ms.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1995.
May 1995, volume 25, number 5, pages 537-557, in the journal Journal of Black Studies.
Smedley’s History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, he describes the history of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania from 1861 to 1865.
On the Precipice of Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820-1887 is a book on the fugitive slave issue in South Central Pennsylvania in the nineteenth century.
The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, and Lettersc.
Antislavery and Abolition in Philadelphia: Emancipation and the Long Struggle for Racial Justice in the City of Brotherly Love is a book about the abolition of slavery and the long struggle for racial justice in the city of brotherly love.
229–245 Pennsylvania Abolition Society Records and William Still Journals can be found at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia) and the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.
Even yet, the tradition of free black volunteers assisting fugitives continued to grow. In Philadelphia, he joined the largest and wealthiest northern free black community, one that was home to a slew of churches, clubs, and mutual assistance groups, among them the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which he attended as a young man. These institutions contributed to the development of a strong leadership class among African-Americans, who had contributed to the establishment of Philadelphia as an epicenter of American abolition long before the American Revolution.
- The Pennsylvania Abolition Society and the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society were established to fight against bondage and provide assistance to free black people.
- In the 1850s, Pennsylvanians were occasionally hauled before the courts for assisting and hiding fugitives from slavery, and alleged fugitives were subjected to trials that may result in their return to slavery.
- Because it compelled federal officials to chase runaway slaves and onlookers to join in their apprehension when called upon, the 1850 legislation made it impossible to assist fugitives.
- The narrative of the Underground Railroad serves as a powerful example of inter-racial cooperation in the struggle for social justice, which began in the colonial era and continues now, according to historians.
- Everyday residents who worked as guides and conductors on the train had come to see that the United States’ racial caste system was harmful to all Americans, and they took nonviolent direct action to combat the injustice.
- Beverly C.
- (NYU Press, 2011).
from the University of Houston, where she is currently an associate professor of history and associate provost at the University of Houston-Victoria.
It’s called Rutgers University.
In the Shadow of the Civil War: Passmore Williamson and the Recue of Jane Johnson is a historical novel about the Civil War era.
The Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, 1850-1860, by Stanley Campbell.
“William Still and the Underground Railroad,” by Larry Gara.
The Ragged Road to Abolition: Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey, 1775-1865, by James J.
The University of Pennsylvania Press published a book in 2015 titled Stanley Harrold is a fictional character created by writer Stanley Harrold.
The University of North Carolina Press published a book in Chapel Hill in 2010.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1995.
Siebert’s The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom was published in 1865.
Smedley, R.C., “History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania,” in History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania.
Smith, David G., and others.
Fordham University Press, New York, 2013.
The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Lettersc.
“‘Beautiful Providences’: William Still, the Vigilance Committee, and Abolitionists in the Age of Sectionalism,” by Elizabeth Varon.
Richard Newman and James Mueller, eds., Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2011, pp. 229-45. The William Still Journals and the Pennsylvania Abolition Society Records are housed in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street in Philadelphia, and may be accessed online.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
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.
She was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad, and her name is Harriet Tubman. In 1849, she and two of her brothers managed to escape from a farm in Maryland, where they were born into slavery under the name Araminta Ross. Harriet Tubman was her married name at the time. While they did return a few of weeks later, Tubman set out on her own shortly after, 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 people.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other runaway slaves to the Maryland state capital of Fredericksburg.
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
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.
- 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.
The Underground Railroad [ushistory.org]
The National Park Service (NPS) Through the Underground Railroad, Lewis Hayden was able to elude enslavement and later found work as a “conductor” from his home in Massachusetts. Speakers and organizers are required for any cause. Any mass movement requires the presence of visionary men and women. However, simply spreading knowledge and mobilizing people is not enough. It takes people who take action to bring about revolutionary change – individuals who chip away at the things that stand in the way, little by little, until they are victorious.
- Instead of sitting around and waiting for laws to change or slavery to come crashing down around them, railroad advocates assisted individual fleeing slaves in finding the light of freedom.
- Slaves were relocated from one “station” to another by abolitionists during the Civil War.
- In order to escape being apprehended, whites would frequently pose as the fugitives’ masters.
- In one particularly dramatic instance, Henry “Box” Brown arranged for a buddy to lock him up in a wooden box with only a few cookies and a bottle of water for company.
- This map of the eastern United States depicts some of the paths that slaves took on their way to freedom.
- The majority of the time, slaves traveled northward on their own, searching for the signal that indicated the location of the next safe haven.
- The railroad employed almost 3,200 individuals between the years 1830 and the conclusion of the Civil War, according to historical records.
Harriet Tubman was perhaps the most notable “conductor” of the Underground Railroad during her lifetime.
Tubman traveled into slave territory on a total of 19 distinct occasions throughout the 1850s.
Any slave who had second thoughts, she threatened to kill with the gun she kept on her hip at the risk of his life.
When the Civil War broke out, she put her railroad experience to use as a spy for the Union, which she did successfully for the Union.
This was even worse than their distaste of Abolitionist speech and literature, which was already bad enough.
According to them, this was a straightforward instance of stolen goods. Once again, a brick was laid in the building of Southern secession when Northern cities rallied with liberated slaves and refused to compensate them for their losses.
The Underground Railroad
At the time of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to flee to freedom in the northern states. Subjects History of the United States, Social StudiesImage
Home of Levi Coffin
Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist. This was a station on the Underground Railroad, a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in escaping to the North during the Civil War. Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography. “> During the age of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the North, according to the Underground Railroad Museum.
Although it was not a real railroad, it fulfilled the same function as one: it carried passengers across large distances.
The people who worked for the Underground Railroad were driven by a passion for justice and a desire to see slavery abolished—a drive that was so strong that they risked their lives and jeopardized their own freedom in order to assist enslaved people in escaping from bondage and staying safe while traveling the Underground Railroad.
- As the network expanded, the railroad metaphor became more prevalent.
- In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as part of a larger organization.
- According to historical tales of the railroad, conductors frequently pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways out of plantation prisons and train stations.
- Often, the conductors and passengers traveled 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance in this day and age.
- Patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were usually on their tails, chasing them down.
- Historians who study the railroad, on the other hand, find it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
- Eric Foner is one of the historians that belongs to this group.
- Despite this, the Underground Railroad was at the center of the abolitionist struggle during the nineteenth century.
- Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist.
- Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography.
- Person who is owned by another person or group of people is referred to as an enslaved person.
Slavery is a noun that refers to the act of owning another human being or being owned by another human being (also known as servitude). Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to flee to free states.
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Tyson Brown is a member of the National Geographic Society.
The National Geographic Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the exploration of the world’s natural wonders.
Gina Borgia is a member of the National Geographic Society. Jeanna Sullivan is a member of the National Geographic Society.
According to National Geographic Society’s Sarah Appleton, Margot Willis is a National Geographic Society photographer.
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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.
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict, 1854-1865
Running away slaves from slave states to the North and Canada were assisted by white and African American abolitionists, who set up a network of hiding sites around the country where fugitives could conceal themselves during the day and move under cover of night. In spite of the fact that the majority of runaways preferred to travel on foot and trains were rarely used, the secret network was referred to as the “Underground Railroad” by all parties involved. The term first appeared in literature in 1852, when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about a secret “underground” line in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
- Those working in the Underground Railroad utilized code terms to keep their identities hidden from others.
- While traveling on the Underground Railroad, both runaways and conductors had to endure terrible conditions, harsh weather, and acute starvation.
- Many were willing to put their lives on the line, especially after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act made it illegal to provide assistance to escaped slaves, even in free areas.
- At the time, an abolitionist came to the conclusion that “free colored people shared equal fate with the breathless and the slave.” Listen to a tape of filmmaker Gary Jenkins talking on the Underground Railroad in the West at the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Underground Railroad routes that extended into Kansas and branched out into northern states like as Iowa and Nebraska, as well as all the way into Canada, were often utilized by the fugitives.
When asked about his feelings on doing so much good for the oppressed while doing so much harm to the oppressors, one conductor from Wakarusa, Kansas, responded, “I feel pretty happy and thankfullthat I have been able to do so much good for the oppressed, so much harm to the oppressors.” It was not uncommon for well-known persons to be connected with the Underground Railroad, such as Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and then returned 19 times to the South to help emancipate over 300 slaves.
- Tubman was said to have carried a revolver in order to guarantee that she never lost track of a passenger.
- Individuals from Kansas also played significant roles, such as Enoch and Luther Platt, who managed railroad stations out of their house in Wabaunsee County, Kansas Territory, in the 1850s.
- It is possible for “shareholders” to make donations to such groups, which may be used to supply supplies or to construct additional lines.
- In addition to developing new routes, members of assistance organisations evaluated the routes to ensure that men, women, and children could travel in safety on them.
During an escape, engineers guided passengers and notified the remainder of the train to reroute if there was a threat to the train’s integrity. The Underground Railroad: A Deciphering Guide
- The Underground Railroad, also known as the Freedom or Gospel Train
- Cargo, passengers, or luggage: fugitives from justice
- The StationorDepot is a safe haven for fugitives from slavery. A person who escorted fugitive slaves between stations was known as a conductor, engineer, agent, or shepherd. The term “stationmaster” refers to someone who oversaw a station and assisted runaways along their path. shareholder or stockholder: an abolitionist who made financial donations to the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War
Conductors from Kansas may easily cross the border into Missouri in order to establish contact with suspected runaway passengers. During the war, slaves residing in Missouri, which was so near to the free state of Kansas, were especially enticed to utilize the Underground Railroad to cross the border into the free state of Kansas to escape. Despite the fact that he did not know exact ways into Kansas, one African-American man expressed his confidence in his ability to reach Lawrence, a town around 40 miles from the state line and home to “the Yankees,” which means “the Yankees are waiting for you.” Conductors frequently provided fugitives with clothing and food for their excursions, and even did it at their own expense on occasion.
- Due to the possibility of being questioned by pursuers, several conductors preferred not to know specific information about the fugitives they assisted.
- In the aftermath of their successful escapes to other free states, a small number of passengers returned to Kansas, including William Dominick Matthews, a first lieutenant in the Independent Battery of the United States Colored Light Artillery in Fort Leavenworth.
- Matthews maintained a boarding house in Leavenworth, Kansas, with the assistance of Daniel R.
- Aside from that, as could be expected, very little is known about the specific individuals and families that aided or were assisted by the Underground Railroad.
In order to contact prospective runaways, conductors from Kansas could simply travel from Kansas into Missouri. While the war was going on, slaves residing in Missouri, which was so near to the free state of Kansas, were especially enticed to utilize the Underground Railroad to cross the border into Kansas and escape slavery. Despite the fact that he did not know exact ways into Kansas, one African-American man expressed his confidence in his ability to reach Lawrence, a town around 40 miles from the state line and home to “the Yankees,” which means “the Yankees are waiting for me.” Conductors frequently provided fugitives with clothing and food for their excursions, and they did it at their own expense on many occasions as well.
One conductor said that his horse died from severe exhaustion after a 63-mile voyage into Kansas that took less than ten hours, according to his account.
Former slaves marrying after their emancipation or joining the Union Army were among the information that abolitionists received.
Other African American troops were recruited into the First Colored Kansas Volunteer Infantry by Matthews, who also served in the unit.
Anthony, the brother of suffragist Susan B. Anthony. The boarding home eventually became an Underground Railroad depot. Aside from that, as could be expected, very little is known about the specific individuals and families that aided or were supported by the Underground Railroad in its operations.
The Railroad in Lore
Following is a brief list of some of the most frequent myths regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following examples: 1. It was administered by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. 2. The Underground Railroad was active throughout the southern United States. Most runaway slaves who managed to make their way north took refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through tunnels. Fourteenth, slaves made so-called “freedom quilts,” which they displayed outside their homes’ windows to signal fugitives to the whereabouts of safe houses and safe ways north to freedom.
When slaves heard the spiritual “Steal Away,” they knew Harriet Tubman was on her way to town, or that an ideal opportunity to run was approaching.
scholars like Larry Gara, who wrote The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad and Blight, among other works, have worked tirelessly to address all of these problems, and I’ll outline the proper answers based on their work, and the work of others, at the conclusion of this piece.
A Meme Is Born
As Blight correctly points out, the railroad has proven to be one of the most “enduring and popular strands in the fabric of America’s national historical memory.” Since the end of the nineteenth century, many Americans, particularly in New England and the Midwest, have either made up legends about the deeds of their ancestors or simply repeated stories that they have heard about their forebears.
It’s worth taking a look at the history of the phrase “Underground Railroad” before diving into those tales, though.
Tice Davids was a Kentucky slave who managed to escape to Ohio in 1831, and it is possible that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was invented as a result of his successful escape.
According to Blight, he is believed to have said that Davids had vanished as though “the nigger must have gone off on an underground railroad.” This is a fantastic narrative — one that would be worthy of Richard Pryor — but it is improbable, given that train lines were non-existent at the time.
The fleeing slave from Washington, D.C., who was tortured and forced to testify that he had been taken north, where “the railroad extended underground all the way to Boston,” according to one report from 1839, was captured.
constructed from Mason and Dixon’s to the Canada line, upon which fugitives from slavery might come pouring into this province” is the first time the term appears.
14, 1842, in the Liberator, a date that may be supported by others who claim that abolitionist Charles T. Torrey invented the phrase in 1842, according to abolitionist Charles T. Torrey. As David Blight points out, the phrase did not become widely used until the mid-1840s, when it was first heard.
Myth Battles Counter-Myth
Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a handy weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to accomplish this goal.
Immediately following the fall of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to purportedly uneducated or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for independence was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a poor and nameless “inferior” race.
Siebert questioned practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from the South to freedom as part of his investigation.
In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey to freedom.”
Truth Reveals Unheralded Heroism
Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson to the presidency. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a valuable weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to do this.
Immediately following the collapse of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to supposedly ignorant or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for freedom was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a downtrodden and faceless, nameless race of “inferiors.” Wilbur Siebert’s 1898 essay on the Underground Railroad is credited with a great deal of modern ignorance and myth-making regarding the railroad.
Siebert interviewed practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from slavery to freedom in the United States.
He also placed far too much emphasis on the work of so-called white conductors. In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey toward freedom.”
The Underground Railroad and the Coming of War
The Underground Railroad served as a symbol for the abolition of slavery. Despite this, many textbooks refer to it as the official name of a covert network that formerly assisted fugitive slaves in their escape. The pupils who are more literal in their thinking begin to wonder whether these established escape routes were genuinely beneath the surface of the land. However, the phrase “Underground Railroad” is best understood as a rhetorical technique that was used to illustrate a point by comparing two entities that were diametrically opposed to one another.
- Understanding the origins of the term has a significant impact on its meaning and use.
- There could be no “underground railroad” until the general public in the United States became aware with genuine railways, which occurred throughout the 1830s and 1840s.
- The term also draws attention to a particular geographic direction.
- Even while slaves fled in every direction on a map, the metaphor delivered its most potent punch in areas that were closest to the nation’s busiest railroad stations.
- Also, why would they want to compare and irrevocably link a large-scale operation to assist escaped slaves with a well-organized network of hidden railways in the first place?
- Abolitionists, or those who pushed for the abolition of slavery as soon as possible, desired to publicize, and possibly even inflate, the number of slave escapes and the depth of the network that existed to help those fugitives in order to gain public support.
- This appeared to be a potentially deadly game to several of the participants.
According to his Narrativein 1845, “I have never approved of the very public manner in which some of our western friends have conducted what they call theunderground railroad,” warning that these mostly Ohio-based (“western”) abolitionists were establishing a “upperground railroad” through their “open declarations.” The public’s awareness of slave escapes and open disobedience of federal law only grew in the years that followed, especially when the contentious Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed.
Anxious fugitives and their accomplices retaliated with greater force this time around.
A former slave called William Parker was aided to escape to Canada by him in September 1851 after Parker had organized a resistance movement in Christiana, Pennsylvania that resulted in the death of a Maryland slaveholder and the confusion of federal officials.
The infamously strict statute was used to prosecute just around 350 fugitive slave cases between 1850 and 1861, with none of them taking place in the abolitionist-friendly New England states after 1854.
Students sometimes appear to image escaped slaves cowering in the shadows, while cunning “conductors” and “stationmasters” constructed sophisticated covert hiding spots and coded communications to aid spirit fugitives on their route to freedom in the nineteenth century.
An alternative explanation for the Underground Railroad should be offered in terms of sectional divisions as well as the onset of the Civil War.
When American towns felt endangered in the nineteenth century, they turned to extra-legal “vigilance” clubs for assistance.
Almost immediately, though, these organizations began providing protection to fugitive slaves who had escaped from their masters.
Many now-forgotten personalities such as Lewis Hayden, George DeBaptiste, David Ruggles, and William Still were instrumental in organizing the most active vigilance committees in cities such as Boston, Detroit, New York, and Philadelphia during the era of the Great Depression.
It was via these vigilance groups that the Underground Railroad came to be regarded as the organized core of the network.
The vigilance concept was imitated during the 1840s, when William Parker established a “mutual protection” group in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and when John Brown established his League of Gileadites in Springfield, Massachusetts, respectively.
They kept their secrets close to their chests, but these were not clandestine operators in the way of France’s Resistance.
vigilance agents in Detroit crammed newspaper pages with information regarding their monthly traffic volume.
One entrepreneurial individual circulated a business card with the words “Underground Railroad Agent” written on the back.
In addition to being available for classroom use, a surprising amount of this covert material may be found online.
The book presents the fascinating materials he collected while serving as the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee’s head of research and documentation.
And the amount of literature about the Underground Railroad that is readily available is growing all the time.
How could they disclose their presence and run the danger of being apprehended if they kept documents detailing their illicit activities?
Aside from the security provided by state personal liberty statutes, those assisting fleeing criminals sometimes benefited from an overarching unwillingness across the North to support federal action or reward southern authority.
Attempts to pass personal liberty or anti-kidnapping legislation in northern states, led by Pennsylvania, began as early as the 1820s.
The Supreme Court ruled in two important instances, Prigg v.
Booth (1859), that these northern personal liberty guarantees were unconstitutional and hence unenforceable.
They may also be surprised to learn that a federal jury in Philadelphia found the primary defendant in the Christiana treason trial not guilty after only fifteen minutes of deliberation.
This was the popular mood that was utilized by northern vigilance committees in order to keep their problematic efforts on behalf of fugitives going for as long as possible.
No well-known Underground Railroad worker was ever killed or sentenced to a considerable amount of time in prison for assisting fugitives once they crossed the Mason-Dixon Line or the Ohio River in the course of their work.
The branding of Jonathan Walker, a sea captain convicted of transporting runaways, with the mark “S.S.” (“slave-stealer”) on his hand was ordered by a federal marshal in Florida in 1844 after he was apprehended.
What did occur, on the other hand, was an increase in rhetorical violence.
The threats became more serious.
Following that, the outcomes affected the responses that eventually led to war.
The hunt for fugitives and those who assisted them served as a major catalyst for the nation’s debate about slavery, which began in 1850.
When measured in words, however, as seen by the antebellum newspaper articles, sermons, speeches, and resolutions prompted by the fugitive-hunting issue, the “Underground Railroad” proved to be a metaphor that served to spark the American Civil War in the most literal sense.
In Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, published by the Anti-Slavery Office in Boston in 1845, page 101 is quoted ().
Campbell’s book, The Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law: 1850–1860 (New York: W.
Norton, 1970), contains an appendix that discusses this topic.
See, for example, Graham Russell Gao Hodges’ David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City (David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City) (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).
To learn more about this, see Fergus M.
Douglass, Frederick, “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,” in Park Publishing’s Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Hartford, CT: Park Publishing, 1881), p.
He is the author of Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home (2003) and the co-director of House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, both of which are located in Pennsylvania.