Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them.
How did the Underground Railroad lead to the Fugitive Slave Act?
The Underground Railroad was a secret system developed to aid fugitive slaves on their escape to freedom. The free individuals who helped runaway slaves travel toward freedom were called conductors, and the fugitive slaves were referred to as cargo.
What impact did the US Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 have on the Underground Railroad?
The severity of the 1850 measure led to abuses and defeated its purpose. The number of abolitionists increased, the operations of the Underground Railroad became more efficient, and new personal-liberty laws were enacted in many Northern states.
What effect would the fugitive Slave Law have on Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad?
The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act allowed fugitive and freed workers in the north to be captured and enslaved. This made Harriet’s job as an Underground Railroad conductor much harder and forced her to lead enslaved people further north to Canada, traveling at night, usually in the spring or fall when the days were shorter.
What happened to the Underground Railroad after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed?
What happened to the Underground Railroad after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed? It was shut down by slave hunters. It was shut down by the federal government.
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.
Where did the Underground Railroad lead to?
Underground Railroad routes went north to free states and Canada, to the Caribbean, into United States western territories, and Indian territories. Some freedom seekers (escaped slaves) travelled South into Mexico for their freedom.
How did the US fugitive Act impact runaway slaves?
Passed on September 18, 1850 by Congress, The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was part of the Compromise of 1850. The act required that slaves be returned to their owners, even if they were in a free state. The act also made the federal government responsible for finding, returning, and trying escaped slaves.
Why is the Underground Railroad significant?
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.
How did Harriet Tubman help with the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”
How did the Underground Railroad affect Canada?
The Underground Railroad was a secret network of abolitionists (people who wanted to abolish slavery). They helped African Americans escape from enslavement in the American South to free Northern states or to Canada. It brought between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada).
What events led to the Underground Railroad?
The earliest mention of the Underground Railroad came in 1831 when enslaved man Tice Davids escaped from Kentucky into Ohio and his owner blamed an “underground railroad” for helping Davids to freedom.
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.
How does Underground Railroad end?
In the end, Royal is killed and a grief-stricken Cora is caught again by Ridgeway. Ridgeway forces Cora to take him to an Underground Railroad station, but as they climb down the entrance’s rope ladder she pulls Ridgeway off and they fall to the ground.
Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives. Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
While some traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, or through Detroit on their route to Canada, others chose to travel south. The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
Those enslaved persons who were assisted by the Underground Railroad were primarily from border states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland (see map below). Fugitive slave capture became a lucrative industry in the deep South after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, and there were fewer hiding places for escaped slaves as a result. Refugee enslaved persons usually had to fend for themselves until they reached specified northern locations. In the runaway enslaved people’s journey, they were escorted by people known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were among the hiding spots.
Stationmasters were the individuals in charge of running them.
Others traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, while others passed through Detroit on their route to the Canadian border.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
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.
Fugitive Slave Acts
Historically, the Fugitive Slave Acts were two pieces of legislation established by Congress in 1793 and 1850 (and repealed in 1864) that allowed for the capture and return of fugitive slaves who escaped from one state into another or into a federally administered region. The 1793 legislation carried out Article IV, Section 2 of the United States Constitution by permitting any federal district judge or circuit court judge, as well as any state magistrate, to determine the legal status of an accused fugitive slave without the need for a trial by jury.
- These laws established that fugitives who challenged an initial ruling against them were entitled to a jury trial.
- The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes.
- Weber (c.1893).
- LC-USZ62-28860) Quiz on the Encyclopedia Britannica This quiz will examine the history of slavery and resistance.
- Who was the leader of the mutiny of 53 enslaved individuals on the Spanish slave ship Amistad that occurred in 1839?
- Take the quiz to find out.
Under this rule, fugitives were not permitted to testify in their own defense, nor were they given the opportunity to stand trial before a jury.
In addition, under the 1850 statute, special commissioners were to have concurrent jurisdiction with the United States courts in the enforcement of the law.
There was a rise in the number of abolitionists, the Underground Railroad activities grew more efficient, and new personal-liberty legislation were established in several Northern states during this period.
The attempts to put the legislation of 1850 into action sparked a great deal of animosity and were very certainly responsible for stoking sectional antagonism as much as the debate over slavery in the territory.
The Library of Congress’s Printed Ephemera Collection is located in Washington, D.C.
Portfolio 22, Folder 12b) A period of time during the American Civil War was regarded to be a period of time during which the Fugitive Slave Acts were still in effect in the instance of Blacks fleeing from masters in border states that were loyal to the Union authority.
It wasn’t until June 28, 1864, that the acts were finally overturned by the legislature. Those in charge of editing the Encyclopaedia Britannica Adam Augustyn was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.
1850 Fugitive Slave Act · The Underground Railroad · The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Borderland
Slave catchers should be on the lookout for African Americans residing in Boston. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the number of slave escapes skyrocketed. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which was intended to prevent slave escapes, had the opposite effect. After 1850, the number of people who escaped from Kentucky climbed by 53 percent. The Fugitive Law, according to one Underground Railroad agent, “has boosted the stock on some of our Western routes, by at least 50 to 75 percent,” according to a statement made in 1855.
- According to news sources, the flight of slaves resembled a stampede.
- Similar legislation passed in 1793 gave slaveholders the ability to retrieve slaves while also requiring states to aid them in their efforts.
- According to the court’s decision, state officials were banned from intervening with fugitive slaves.
- The 1793 Fugitive Slave Law was declared illegal by the Supreme Court, and only federal officers were authorized to execute it.
- According to the 1850 Runaway Slave Act, federal officials were authorized to abduct any African American suspected of being a fugitive.
- Anyone of African descent might be accused of being a slave by agents.
- The word of a slaveholder was regarded adequate evidence that the individual in issue was the runaway in question.
The legal consequences for anyone who help fugitives or impede the law in any way were more severe, with a $1000 fine per fugitive and six months in jail being the most severe penalties.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 not only increased the number of escapes in the South, but it also caused many fugitives residing in the Ohio Valley Borderland to travel even further north.
As hundreds of formerly enslaved people dreaded being recaptured, black populations in Indiana and Ohio declined.
According to theLouisville Courier, “.the Fugitive Slave Law cannot be implemented in Ohio and is unlikely to be enacted in the future.” After 1850, slave catchers appointed by the federal government patrolled the Ohio River on a regular basis in search of fugitives.
Agents utilized harsh tactics to abduct and imprison every African-American they came into touch with while acting under federal authority.
Three agents from Washington County, Ohio, were abducted and carried to Virginia, where they were imprisoned for assisting fugitives in 1845.
A word of caution to runaway slaves.
Hudson, Fugitive Slaves, Fugitive Slaves, See p. 83 for information on slaveholder gatherings. According to the Louisville Couriernews, page 5064. The Frontline, pages 107-108. Griffler, Frontline. Hudson’s Fugitive Slaves, Volume 85. Griffler,Frontline,82-83.
The Underground Railroad – Lincoln Home National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)
When we talk about the Underground Railroad, we’re talking about the attempts of enslaved African Americans to earn their freedom by escaping bondage, which took place from the beginning of the Civil War to the end of the war. In every country where slavery existed, there was a concerted attempt to flee, first to maroon communities in remote locations far from settlements, then across state and international borders. Runaways were considered “fugitives” under the rules of the period because of their acts of self-emancipation, albeit in retrospect, the term “freedom seeker” appears to be a more fair description.
It’s possible that the choice to aid a freedom seeking was taken on the spur of the moment.
Freedom seekers traveled in a variety of directions, including Canada, Mexico, the United States West, the Caribbean islands, and Europe.
The Fugitive Slave Acts
Until the end of the Civil War, enslavement in the United States was considered lawful and acceptable. In contrast to the rhetoric of the Revolutionary War era about freedom, the new United States constitution safeguarded the rights of individuals to possess and enslave other people, including women. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 further reinforced these slaveholding rights, allowing for the return to captivity of any African American who was accused or simply suspected of being a freedom seeker under certain circumstances.
It was a $500 punishment for anybody who supported a liberator or just interfered with an arrest, a clear recognition of the significance and lasting influence on American society of the Underground Railroad phenomenon decades before it was given its official name.
Individuals in the North were brought face to face with the immoral issue by the spectacle of African Americans being reenslaved at the least provocation and the selling of abducted free African Americans to the South for slavery.
Those who aided freedom seekers in their attempts to flee were considered members of the Underground Railroad. “Buy us too,” says H.L. Stephens in his parting words. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information.
Motivation of Freedom Seekers
Time period, geographic location, kind of agriculture or industry, size of the slaveholding unit, urban vs rural environment, and even the temperament and financial stability of the enslaver all influenced the degree to which people were enslaved. All of these experiences have one thing in common: the dehumanization of both the victim and the oppressor as a result of the demands of a system that treats human beings as property rather than as individuals. This element, probably more than any other, helps to explain why some people opted to escape and why their owners were frequently taken aback by their actions.
Many people were able to flee because they had access to knowledge and abilities, including reading, which gave them an advantage.
The slaves rebelled despite the fact that the slavery system was intended to train them to accept it.
Geography of the Underground Railroad
Conditions of enslavement varied in severity depending on the historical period, geographical location, kind of agriculture or industry, size of the slaveholding unit, urban and rural settings, and even the temperament and financial stability of the enslaver himself. All of these experiences have one thing in common: the dehumanization of both the victim and the oppressor as a result of the demands of a system that treats human beings as property rather than individuals. That some people opted to run and that their owners were often taken aback by their actions is explained, maybe more than any other cause.
Many people were able to flee because they had access to knowledge and abilities, including literacy.
Though the enslavement system was intended to train them to accept it, they rebelled.
Commemoration of Underground Railroad History
Commemoration may only take place if local Underground Railroad figures and events have been discovered and documented. Primary materials, such as letters from the time period, court testimony, or newspaper articles, are used to verify the historical record. Education and preservation of the public are the following steps, which will be accomplished through the preservation of major locations, the use of authentic history in heritage tourism and educational programs, museum and touring exhibits, and commemorative sculpture.
Whenever a site has been paved over, changed, or reconstructed, a pamphlet, walking tour, school curriculum, road marker, or plaque might be used to educate the public about the significance of the location.
A local festival might be organized to bring the history of the area to the attention of the general public.
Uncovering Underground Railroad History
Despite years of assertions that the Underground Railroad’s history was shrouded in secrecy, local historians, genealogists, oral historians, and other researchers have discovered that primary sources describing the flight to freedom of many enslaved African Americans have survived to the present day. It is becoming clearer that the slaves were determined to pursue their own and their families’ freedom, as evidenced by court documents, memoirs of conductors and freedom seekers, letters, runaway advertisements in newspapers, and military records.
A lot of the time, no one has been able to piece together the parts of freedom seekers’ narrative by looking at their starting and ending locations, let alone the moments in between.
Anthony Burns is a writer who lives in New York City.
Unknown Underground Railroad Heroes
Abolitionist Harriet Tubman, known as the “Moses of her people,” and Frederick Douglass, a freedom seeker who rose to become the greatest African American leader of his time, are two of the most well-known figures linked with the Underground Railroad. Both were from the state of Maryland. Those seeking freedom, on the other hand, came from every part of the world where slavery was legalized, even the northern colonies. Harriet Jacobs arrived from North Carolina, where she had spent the previous seven years hidden in her grandmother’s attic.
- Louis and journeyed 700 miles until she reached Canada, where she sought sanctuary.
- Lewis Hayden, his wife, and their kid were able to flee from slavery in Kentucky to freedom in Ohio thanks to the assistance of Delia Webster and Calvin Fairbanks.
- Mary Ellen Pleasant, a black businesswoman from San Francisco, took in a fugitive named Archy Lee and hosted him in her house, setting the stage for an important state court case.
- Coffin and Rankin are two white clergymen from the Midwest who aided freedom seekers in their efforts to gain their independence.
- Residents of Wellington and Oberlin, Ohio, both black and white, stood up to slave hunters and refused to allow them to return John Price to his servitude in the state of Kentucky.
- Charles Torrey, Leonard Grimes, and Jacob Bigelow were among the members of a multiracial network in Washington, D.C., who worked for years to assist individuals like as Ann Marie Weems, the Edmondson sisters, and Garland White in their quest for freedom.
William and Ellen Craft managed to flee over one thousand miles from Georgia to Boston by putting on a convincing disguise.
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
In addition to coordinating preservation and education efforts across the country, the National Park Service Underground Railroad program integrates local historical sites, museums, and interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad into a mosaic of community, regional, and national stories. The Network also seeks to foster contact and collaboration between scholars and other interested parties, as well as to help in the formation of statewide organizations dedicated to the preservation and investigation of Underground Railroad locations.
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.
The Underground Railroad (1820-1861) •
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).
Cite this article in APA format:
Waggoner, C., and Waggoner, C. (2007, December 03). The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes (1820-1861). BlackPast.org.
Source of the author’s information:
“The Underground Railroad,” by William Still (Chicago, Johnson Publishing Company, 1970) Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in association with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 2004); J. Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2006); David W. Blight, Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in association with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,
According to Ohio History Central This group of freedom seekers made their way to freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad and settled in the city of Windsor, Ontario. According to the order of their names, from left to right, the back row includes Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Mansfield Smith, and Mrs. Seymour; the front row includes Stevenson and Johnson. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was enacted as part of the Compromise of 1850, which abolished slavery. As a result of this rule, the United States government was compelled to aggressively help slave proprietors in the recapturing of liberation seekers.
- With the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, the federal government was obligated to help slave owners.
- This measure was criticized by abolitionists in the North.
- Abolitionists hoped that the Fugitive Slave Law would grant African Americans the opportunity to testify in court as well as the right to a jury trial.
- The Fugitive Slave Law was plainly in the favor of the slave owners and their descendants.
- Marshals from the United States had to go out of their way to find and restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners.
- African Americans were not permitted to present evidence to a federal commissioner who was appointed to hear a case and determine whether an African American was a slave or a free individual.
- If the commissioner decided in favor of the white guy, the commissioner earned a monetary reward of 10 dollars for his efforts.
This section of the Fugitive Slave Law was criticized by many abolitionists for serving as a way of bribing the commissioners.
332 African Americans were forced into slavery in the South out of the total population of 343 persons.
Hundreds of thousands of African Americans migrated to Canada during the Civil Rights Movement.
The legitimacy of the Fugitive Slave Law was challenged in court by abolitionists, but the United States Supreme Court maintained the law’s constitutionality in 1859.
They urged people to fight any attempts to enforce it and referred to this law as the “Kidnap Law” in order to raise awareness.
On a few occasions, residents of Ohio physically obstructed the implementation of the Fugitive Slave Law.
A federal marshal apprehended a freedom seeker and sought to deport him back to the United States of America.
Residents of Oberlin and Wellington assisted the freedom seekers in their escape once more. For breaching the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, thirty-seven persons were charged. In the end, just two of the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison time.
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
Hangout – The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was an informal escape network that helped fugitive slaves reach freedom. Also called the Liberty Line, this loosely organized system was neither “underground” nor a “railroad.” Rather, it was a network of escape routes that originated in the southern slave states in the period of American history that led up to the Civil War. The railroad led the slaves to freedom in the northern free states, Canada, Mexico, the western territories, and the Caribbean. Although Quakers started this anti-slavery movement in the 1780s, the Underground Railroad became legendary after the 1830s, when abolitionists and other sympathizers began helping slaves escape to freedom.
Runaway slaves generally came from the upper South and were mostly skilled males without families.
Fugitives traveled at night so they could avoid bounty hunters and other southern sympathizers.
There, “conductors” met them and directed them to freedom.