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.
How did the Underground Railroad affect the South?
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. It also gave many African Americans their first experience in politics and organizational management.
How did the South react to the Underground Railroad?
Reaction in the South to the growing number of slaves who escaped ranged from anger to political retribution. Large rewards were offered for runaways, and many people eager to make money or avoid offending powerful slave owners turned in runaway slaves. The U.S. Government also got involved.
How did the Underground Railroad increased tensions between North and South?
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 – federal legislation that allowed slave hunters to capture an escapee in any territory or state with only oral proof that the person was a runaway – increased tensions between North and South, thereby moving the country closer to war.
Was the Underground Railroad in the North or South?
Underground Railroad, in the United States, a system existing in the Northern states before the Civil War by which escaped slaves from the South were secretly helped by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach places of safety in the North or in Canada.
What was the effect of the Underground Railroad?
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.
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).
How far north did the Underground Railroad go?
Because it was dangerous to be in free states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, or even Massachusetts after 1850, most people hoping to escape traveled all the way to Canada. So, you could say that the Underground Railroad went from the American south to Canada.
Was the Underground Railroad effective?
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.
What happened to the Underground Railroad after the Civil War?
The Underground Railroad ceased operations about 1863, during the Civil War. In reality, its work moved aboveground as part of the Union effort against the Confederacy.
What did Harriet Beecher Stowe do that increased tensions between the North and the South quizlet?
What did Harriet Beecher Stowe do that increased tensions between the North and the South? She wrote a novel that aroused compassion for enslaved people. Some northern states used personal liberty laws to nullify the Fugitive Slave Act, written to help the South.
How did the Underground Railroad lead to the Civil War quizlet?
How did the Underground Railroad cause the Civil War? *The Underground Railroad was a escape route for fugitive slaves in America. *Slaves would be helped by Northerners or “Quakers” who help slaves escape to Canada. *The Underground Railroad made the South mad because this was beneficial to slaves.
Which railroad route did the northerners favor?
The northerners favored running the railroad through Chicago, however the southerners favored running the railroad through St. Louis, Memphis, or New Orleans.
What were the roles in the Underground Railroad?
Underground Railroad conductors were free individuals who helped fugitive slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad. Conductors helped runaway slaves by providing them with safe passage to and from stations. They did this under the cover of darkness with slave catchers hot on their heels.
Which railroad route did the southerners favor?
Amiel W. Whipple, assistant astronomer of the Mexican Boundary Survey, and Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives surveyed the route along the 35th parallel westward to southern California. This line was favored by Jefferson Davis and was essentially the route traversed by Josiah Gregg in 1839 and later surveyed by Col.
The Underground Railroad
What is the Underground Railroad described in textbooks? Read the following passages from American History textbooks with care, and then respond to the questions that follow them. Is it possible to discern patterns in the many different depictions of the Underground Railroad? 1. The Underground Railroad is defined in what way by textbooks. Three: Which personalities or episodes are they most fond of bringing up in conversation? 4. What are their thoughts on the scope and timeline of Underground Railroad operations?
The Underground Railroad: Ten Essential Textbooks The American Spirit, 9th ed., Vol.1 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998), 403-404.
Bailey and David M.
- 1 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998), 403-404.
- A new and more rigorous runaway slave statute was demanded by southerners by 1850.
- In contrast to cattle thieves, the abolitionists who conducted the Underground Railroad did not individually benefit from their criminality.
- Compared to plain robbery, the abolitionists’ moral judgements were, in some ways, even more galling.
- From a total population of over 4 million slaves in 1850, it is estimated that the South lost approximately 1,000 runaways every year.
- The slavemasters, on the other hand, placed a high value on the principle.
- However, according to a southern senator, while the loss of property is felt, the loss of honor is felt even more keenly.
In the early 1800s, there were a number of minor uprisings.
The slave revolts prompted southern governments to enact harsher slave laws, which further restricted slaves’ ability to engage in commercial activity.
In the North, some slaves managed to elude capture and seek freedom.
Slave who has gotten away On the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman was the most well-known and accomplished conductor.
As she put it, I had a legal right to one of just two things.
If I couldn’t have one, I’d take the other.
Bragdon, Samuel Proctor McCutchen, and Donald A.
343 In addition to Douglass, who was self-educated and had been enslaved, Frederick Douglass was the editor of The North Star, an abolitionist newspaper published in New York City.
This covert abolitionist network, which had hiding sites, or stations, across the Northern states and even into Canada, was responsible for transporting enslaved individuals out of the South and ensuring their freedom as a result of the Underground Railroad movement.
Besides caring for African Americans who had arrived in the North, they also risked their lives to travel into the slave states and free those who were still slaves.
After escaping, she returned to the South on many occasions, releasing more than 300 enslaved persons in the process of doing so.
312, 340 in Alan Brinkley’s American History: A Survey, Eleventh Edition (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2003).
Black people sought to resist by fleeing the scene.
However, the chances of making a successful escape, particularly from the Deep South, were extremely slim to nonexistent.
Consequently, from 1840 onward, abolitionism circulated via a variety of channels and spoke in a variety of tones and dialects.
Others took a more moderate approach, thinking that abolition could only be achieved through a protracted, patient, and peaceful fight – instant abolition gradually completed, as they put it.
They would make an appeal to the slaveholders’ consciences, persuading them that their system was wrong and wicked.
Runaway slaves were assisted by the Garrisonians in escaping to the North or Canada via the so-called underground railroad, which was established in the 1860s (although their efforts were never as highly organized as the terms suggests).
Underground Railroad was established by abolitionists.
Runaways were escorted to stations where they might spend the night by station conductors.
Another type of structure was a church or a cave.
Harriet Tubman, for example, was a fearless conductor who had escaped from slavery.
She was responsible for the emancipation of more than 300 slaves, among them her own family.
For her capture, her slave owners offered a reward of $40,000 in cash.
Divine and colleagues’ The American Story, 3rd edition (New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007).
After laying in wait outside the plantation for a period of time, most fugitives were apprehended and returned to the farm after securing immunity from prosecution.
A few light-skinned blacks have been successful in smuggling themselves into freedom.
Flight, on the other hand, was not an option for the majority of slaves.
More than merely voicing their opposition to racial injustice, freeblacks in the North took action.
Freedom fighters such as Harriet Tubman and Josiah Henson made regular incursions into slave states in order to aid other blacks in their quest for liberation, and many of the stations along the road were operated by free blacks.
In certain cases, groups of blacks have used force to rescue detained fugitives from the hands of law enforcement officials.
Nash and colleagues, in The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society, 4th edition (New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1998), p.
Escape routes were numerous and varied: forging passes, masquerading as master and servant, concealing one’s sexuality, slipping aboard ships, and professing devotion until one was captured and brought away on a journey to the north by the master.
Running parallel to the Underground Railroad was an underground network of safe homes and stations where escaped slaves could stop, eat, and sleep before continuing their journey.
Exactly how many slaves fled to the North and Canada is unknown, although it is believed to have been a very small number.
Nightly patrols by white militiamen, a significant element of southern life at the time, lowered the possibilities of any slave escaping and, in many cases, discouraged slaves from ever attempting to flee the plantation.
1 to 1877, 2nd edition (Boston, MA: Bedford / St.
382; James L.
1 to 1877 (Boston, MA: Bedford / St.
382; James L.
Following her successful escape from Maryland slavery in 1849, Harriet Tubman bravely returned to the South to transport slaves to freedom, risking her life on several occasions.
As a result of antislavery feeling and hostility to white supremacy that united practically all African Americans in the North, this “underground railroad” passed mostly via black neighborhoods, black churches, and black houses.
In America: A Narrative History, Sixth Edition (New York: W.
Norton & Company, 2004), page 605, George Brown Tindall and David E.
While many escapees managed to make it out on their own – Douglass obtained a ticket from a free black seaman – the Underground Railroad, which expanded into a large network of tunnels and smugglers that transported runaways to freedom, frequently over the Canadian border, was a major contributor.
- Coffin’s alleged presidency was held by Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina who relocated to Cincinnati and assisted numerous fugitives.
- A handful of courageous exiles actually returned to slave republics in order to help arrange escapes from the oppressive regimes.
- Victory of the American Nation, by Lewis Paul Todd and Merle Curti (Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1986), 379-80.
- It was neither underground nor a railroad, but it was given this name because its actions were carried out in the dark and in disguise, and because it utilized railroad phrases as code words in order to conceal its identity.
- The railroad’s mission consisted in hiding fugitive slaves and providing them with food, clothes, and directions to the next stop, among other things.
- Harriet Tubman, a former slave who had fled to freedom through the railroad, was the most daring conductor of the time.
- A total of 40,000 to 100,000 slaves are believed to have benefited from the Underground Railroad’s efforts.
Guide for the Teacher What is the Underground Railroad described in textbooks?
Despite the lack of concrete proof, textbook editors are concerned about appearing too critical of an institution that has become part of national legend.
When you read the final product, it is disappointing and challenging to teach.
They deserve to know more than just about codes, safe houses, and a heroic lady conductor named Tubman; they deserve to know everything.
There are an average of 180 words on the Underground Railroad in each textbook, according to the American Library Association.
No matter how much more material is included on topics such as abolitionists or the Fugitive Slave Law, the amount of space allocated to the subject rarely surpasses a few pages.
According to eight out of 10 history textbooks, Harriet Tubman is the most heroic figure in the history of the Underground Railroad.
In all, only five historical persons other than Tubman are mentioned in the textbooks: Levi Coffin (once), Frederick Douglass (twice), Josiah Henson (once), and Nat Turner (once) (once).
The names of major players such as Lewis Hayden (Boston Vigilance Committee), David Ruggles (New York Vigilance Committee), and William Still (New York Vigilance Committee) are not included in any of the texts (Philadelphia Vigilance Committee).
After conducting this research, the House Divided Underground Railroad Digital Classroom developed its own description of the Underground Railroad.
However, while secrecy was frequently required for specific operations, the overall movement to assist fugitives was not kept under wraps at all.
State personal liberty statutes, which were intended to protect free black people against kidnapping, were invoked by these agents as a justification for their fugitive assistance efforts.
These committees frequently collaborated and offered legal, financial, and, in some cases, physical security to any black person who was endangered by kidnappers or slave-catchers in the region.
Thousands of additional individuals, most of whom were driven by religious conviction, assisted fugitives in less organized but nonetheless courageously defiant ways throughout the decades leading up to the American Civil War.
In part, it was for this reason that Harriet Tubman, who herself had been an escaped slave, was such an inspiring figure.
Despite the fact that Underground Railroad agents such as Tubman freed only a fraction of the nation’s slaves (probably no more than a few hundred each year out of a total enslaved population of millions), their actions infuriated southern political leaders, exacerbated the sectional crisis of the 1850s, and ultimately contributed to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in the United States.
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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Gina Borgia is a member of the National Geographic Society. Jeanna Sullivan is a member of the National Geographic Society.
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Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives. Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
By the 1840s, the phrase “Underground Railroad” had become part of the common lexicon in the United States. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
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.
Tubman transported groups of fugitives to Canada on a regular basis, believing that the United States would not treat them favorably.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
Fairfield’s strategy was to go around the southern United States appearing as a slave broker. He managed to elude capture twice. He died in 1860 in Tennessee, during the American Reconstruction Era.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad? ‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented.
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.
Introduction-Aboard the Underground Railroad
|The Underground Railroad refers to the effort -sometimes spontaneous, sometimes highly organized – to assist persons held in bondage in North America to escape from slavery.While most runaways began their journey unaided and many completed their self-emancipation without assistance, each decade in which slavery was legal in the United States saw an increase in the public perception of an underground network and in the number of persons willing to give aid to the runaway. Although divided, the abolitionist movement was successful in expanding the informal network known as the underground railroad and in publicizing it.The term “underground railroad” had no meaning to the generations before the first rails and engines of the 1820s, but the retrospective use of the term in is made so as to include incidents which have all the characteristics of underground railroad activity, but which occurred earlier.These activities foreshadowed and helped to shape the underground railroad.The origin of the term “underground railroad” cannot be precisely determined.What is known is that both those who aided escapees from slavery and those who were outraged by loss of slave property began to refer to runaways as part of an “underground railroad” by 1840.The “underground railroad” described an activity that was locally organized, but with no real center.It existed rather openly in the North and just beneath the surface of daily life in the upper South and certain Southern cities.The underground railroad, where it existed, offered local service to runaway slaves, assisting them from one point to another.Farther along, others would take the passenger into their transportation system until the final destination had been reached. The rapidity with which the term became commonly used did not mean that incidents of resistance to slavery increased significantly around 1830 or that more attempts were made to escape from bondage. It did mean that more white northerners were prepared to aid runaways and to give some assistance to the northern blacks who had always made it their business to help escapees from slavery. The primary importance of the underground railroad was that it gave ampleevidence of African American capabilities and gave expression to AfricanAmerican philosophy. Perhaps the most important factor or aspect tokeep in mind concerning the underground railroad is that its importanceis not measured by the number of attempted or successful escapes fromAmerican slavery, but by the manner in which it consistently exposedthe grim realities of slavery and -more important- refuted the claimthat African Americans could not act or organize on their own. The secondaryimportance of the underground railroad was that it provided an opportunityfor sympathetic white Americans to play a role in resisting slavery.It also brought together, however uneasily at times, men and women ofboth races to begin to set aside assumptions about the other race andto work together on issues of mutual concern. At the most dramatic level,the underground railroad provided stories of guided escapes from theSouth, rescues of arrested fugitives in the North, complex communicationsystems, and individual acts of bravery and suffering. While most ofthe accounts of secret passageways, sliding wall panels, and hiddenrooms will not be verified by historic evidence, there were indeed sufficientdramas to be interpreted and verified.Visitors may be interested inHistoricHotels of America, a program of the National Trust for HistoricPreservation, located near the places featured in this itinerary.List of Sites|HomeComments or Questions Last Modified:EST|
The Underground Railroad
|The Underground Railroad, a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals – many whites but predominently black – who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. Still, it effectively moved hundreds of slaves northward each year – according to one estimate,the South lost 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850. An organized system to assist runaway slaves seems to have begun towards the end of the 18th century. In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes.” The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed “The Underground Railroad,” after the then emerging steam railroads. The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were called “stations” and “depots” and were run by “stationmasters,” those who contributed money or goods were “stockholders,” and the “conductor” was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next.For the slave, running away to the North was anything but easy. The first step was to escape from the slaveholder. For many slaves, this meant relying on his or her own resources. Sometimes a “conductor,” posing as a slave, would enter a plantation and then guide the runaways northward. The fugitives would move at night. They would generally travel between 10 and 20 miles to the next station, where they would rest and eat, hiding in barns and other out-of-the-way places. While they waited, a message would be sent to the next station to alert its stationmaster.The fugitives would also travel by train and boat – conveyances that sometimes had to be paid for. Money was also needed to improve the appearance of the runaways – a black man, woman, or child in tattered clothes would invariably attract suspicious eyes. This money was donated by individuals and also raised by various groups, including vigilance committees.Vigilance committees sprang up in the larger towns and cities of the North, most prominently in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. In addition to soliciting money, the organizations provided food, lodging and money, and helped the fugitives settle into a community by helping them find jobs and providing letters of recommendation.The Underground Railroad had many notable participants, including John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who made many daring rescues, Levi Coffin, a Quaker who assisted more than 3,000 slaves, and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.|
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.
Smuggled fugitives through the Underground Railroad during the winter seasonThe Underground Railroad was constructed to help enslaved persons in their escape to freedom. The railroad network was made up of dozens of hidden routes and safe houses that began in slaveholding states and extended all the way to the Canadian border, which was the only place where fugitives could be certain of their freedom. From Florida to Cuba, or from Texas to Mexico, there were shorter routes that took you south.
The Underground Railroad’s success was dependent on the collaboration of previous runaway slaves, free-born blacks, Native Americans, and white and black abolitionists who assisted in guiding runaway slaves along the routes and providing their houses as safe havens for the fugitive slave population.
- The Underground Railroad in the Nineteenth Century New York Public Library’s Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, part of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, provided this photograph.
- The railroad employed conductors, among them William Still of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was likely the most well-known of the group.
- Slave-hiding spots were called stations, and stationmasters were individuals who hid slaves in their houses.
- The Underground Railroad functioned as a number of interconnected networks.
- Those responsible for leading the fugitive slaves north did so in stages.
- The “freight” would be transferred on to the next conductor once it reached another stop, and so on until the full journey had been completed.
- When the Underground Railroad was successful, it engendered a great deal of hostility among slaveholders and their friends.
The law was misused to a tremendous extent.
Due to the fact that African Americans were not permitted to testify or have a jury present during a trial, they were frequently unable to defend themselves.
Ironically, the Fugitive Slave Act fueled Northern opposition to slavery and contributed to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
A large number of those who escaped became human witnesses to the slave system, with many of them traveling on the lecture circuit to explain to Northerners what life was like as a slave in the slave system.
It was the success of the Underground Railroad in both situations that contributed to the abolition of slavery.
Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2006); David W.
Instructions for Citing This Article (in APA Format): Waggoner, C., and Waggoner, C. (n.d.). The Underground Railroad was in operation from 1820 until 1861). Project on the History of Social Welfare. It was retrieved from
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.
Hangout – The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad [ushistory.org]
An allegory for the Underground Railroad was used. Despite this, many textbooks refer to it as the official name of a hidden network that previously assisted fugitive slaves in their escape from the plantation. The pupils who are more literal in their thinking begin to wonder whether these set escape routes were genuinely beneath the surface of the earth in the first place. Rather, the phrase “Underground Railroad” should be seen as a rhetorical technique that was used to illustrate a point by comparing two things that were diametrically opposed.
- Being aware of the phrase’s historical context alters its meaning in significant ways.
- As long as the American public was unfamiliar with railways, there could be no such thing as a “underground railroad”–that is, until the mid- to late-nineteenth century.
- A certain geographic direction is also highlighted by the term.
- Slaves fled in every direction, but the metaphor had the greatest impact in the villages that were nearest to the nation’s busiest railroad stations and train stations.
- And why would they want to compare and inexorably link a large-scale operation to assist runaway slaves with a well-organized network of hidden railways in the first place?
- It was the goal of abolitionists, or those who advocated for the quick abolition of slavery, for the number of slave escapes to be publicized and, in some cases, exaggerated, as well as the depth of the network that existed to help those fugitives.
- This appeared to be a risky game to some 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.” Exodus stories and open disobedience of federal law gained widespread attention in the years that followed, particularly following the contentious Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
Fugitives and their accomplices fought back with increased intensity now that they were no longer on the run from authorities.
A former slave called William Parker was aided to escape to Canada by him in September 1851 after Parker had lead 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 occurring in abolitionist-friendly New England states after 1854.
Many students have the impression that escaped slaves are cowering in the shadows, while cunning “conductors” and “stationmasters” have constructed complex hidden hiding spots and coded communications to aid spirit fugitives on their route to liberty.
An alternative explanation for the Underground Railroad should be offered in terms of sectional divisions as well as the approaching Civil War.
Every time a community felt endangered in the nineteenth century, it turned to extra-legal “vigilance” groups for help.
The protection services provided by these organizations to escaped slaves were extended almost immediately.
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 Great Depression.
It was through these vigilance groups that the Underground Railroad began to be regarded as the organized core of the movement.
When William Parker established a “mutual protection” group in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, or when John Brown established his League of Gileadites in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the 1840s, they were following in the footsteps of this vigilante concept.
Their secrets were well guarded, but they were not clandestine operators in the way of France’s Resistance.
vigilance agents in Detroit crammed newspaper pages with statistics on their monthly traffic flow.
“Underground Railroad Agent,” stated the business card of one industrious individual who spread it.
In addition to being available for classroom use, a surprising amount of this concealed evidence may also be found.
Visitors to the site maintained by social studies teacher Dean Eastman and his pupils at Beverly High School may learn how much it cost to assist runaways by seeing the account books of the Boston vigilance committee, which have been transcribed and uploaded online.
The question is, how could these northern vigilance groups get away with such blatant insubordination?
The answer assists in moving the plot into the 1840s and 1850s and provides a novel approach for teachers to engage students in discussions on the legal and political history of the sectional issue.
Or to put it another way, it was all about states’ rights—and particularly the rights of the northern states to exist.
These laws were intended to protect free black residents from kidnapping, but they had the unintended consequence of making enforcement of federal fugitive slave laws difficult (1793 and 1850).
Pennsylvania (1842) and Ableman v.
In the mid-1850s, the Wisconsin supreme court asserted the theory of nullification, which may come as a surprise to students who are accustomed to linking states’ rights with South Carolina.
These northern legislators and juries were, for the most part, unconcerned with black civil rights, but they were eager about protecting their own states’ rights in the years leading up to the American Civil War.
That is also why virtually none of the Underground Railroad operatives in the North were apprehended, convicted, or subjected to physical assault during their time in the country.
The renowned late-night arrests, long jail terms, torture, and, in some cases, lynchings that made the underground operation so deadly were really experienced by agents operating throughout the South.
It just did not happen in the North to subject people to such brutal punishment.
In the meantime, the battle of words continued to escalate.
Following that, the outcomes affected the responses that ultimately led to the war in Iraq.
As a significant catalyst for the national war over slavery, the pursuit of fugitives and those who assisted them was a major source of inspiration.
By comparison, the “Underground Railroad” proved to be a metaphor that contributed to bring about the American Civil War when measured in words—through the antebellum newspaper articles, sermons, speeches, and resolutions that arose in response to the fugitive-detention situation.
In his speech to the National Free Soil Convention in Pittsburgh on August 11, 1852, Frederick Douglass referred to the Fugitive Slave Law as “The Fugitive Slave Law” ().
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.
The book David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City, by Graham Russell Gao Hodges, is a good example of this (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: 1881), p.
At Dickinson College, he is the co-director of House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine and the author of Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home (2003).