Enslaved people traveled at night, about 10–20 miles (16–32 km) to each station.
How far did people travel on the Underground Railroad?
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.
How long would it take to walk the Underground Railroad?
The journey would take him 800 miles and six weeks, on a route winding through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, tracing the byways that fugitive slaves took to Canada and freedom.
How long is the Underground Railroad in miles?
The routes from safe-house to safe-house (houses where fugitive slaves were kept) were called lines and were roughly 15 miles long, but the distance shortened considerably the further north one got. Stopping places were called stations (Catherine Harris’ home). Those who aided fugitive slaves were known as conductors.
How far did Harriet Tubman Walk to Freedom?
Harriet Tubman: Underground Railroad On September 17, 1849, Harriet, Ben and Henry escaped their Maryland plantation. The brothers, however, changed their minds and went back. With the help of the Underground Railroad, Harriet persevered and traveled 90 miles north to Pennsylvania and freedom.
Can you hike the Underground Railroad?
Come to where the nation’s best-known “agent” of the Underground Railroad was born and raised. Miles of hiking and water trails within Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge allow visitors to explore the landscape Tubman traversed.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
What state is the Underground Railroad in?
These were called “stations,” “safe houses,” and “depots.” The people operating them were called “stationmasters.” There were many well-used routes stretching west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa. Others headed north through Pennsylvania and into New England or through Detroit on their way to Canada.
How long was Harriet Tubman on the run?
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 long did Harriet Tubman travel?
It is believed that she walked north east along the Choptank River and through Delaware, crossing the Mason-Dixon Line to freedom into Pennsylvania. Her journey was nearly 90 miles and it is unclear how long it took her.
Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?
Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.
Did Harriet Tubman travel on foot?
Tubman grew up enslaved in Maryland and, in 1849, at the age of 27, she set off on foot to free herself, travelling in the darkness of night and finally making her way to Philadelphia. But she didn’t stop there.
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.|
As an escaped enslaved woman, Harriet Tubman worked as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, guiding enslaved individuals to freedom before the Civil War, all while a bounty was placed on her head. But she was also a nurse, a spy for the Union, and a proponent of women’s rights. Tubman is one of the most well-known figures in American history, and her legacy has inspired countless individuals of all races and ethnicities around the world.
When Was Harriet Tubman Born?
Harriet Tubman was born in 1820 on a plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland, and became well-known as a pioneer. Her parents, Harriet (“Rit”) Green and Benjamin Ross, gave her the name Araminta Ross and referred to her as “Minty” as a nickname. Rit worked as a chef in the plantation’s “large house,” while Benjamin was a wood worker on the plantation’s “little house.” As a tribute to her mother, Araminta changed her given name to Harriet later in life. However, the reality of slavery pulled many of Harriet’s siblings and sisters apart, despite Rit’s attempts to keep the family united.
Harriet was hired as a muskrat trap setter by a planter when she was seven years old, and she was later hired as a field laborer by the same planter.
A Good Deed Gone Bad
Harriet’s yearning for justice first manifested itself when she was 12 years old and witnessed an overseer prepare to hurl a heavy weight at a runaway. Harriet took a step between the enslaved person and the overseer, and the weight of the person smacked her in the head. Afterwards, she described the occurrence as follows: “The weight cracked my head. They had to carry me to the home because I was bleeding and fainting. Because I was without a bed or any place to lie down at all, they threw me on the loom’s seat, where I stayed for the rest of the day and the following day.” As a result of her good act, Harriet has suffered from migraines and narcolepsy for the remainder of her life, forcing her to go into a deep slumber at any time of day.
She was undesirable to potential slave purchasers and renters because of her physical disability.
Escape from Slavery
Harriet’s father was freed in 1840, and Harriet later discovered that Rit’s owner’s final will and testament had freed Rit and her children, including Harriet, from slavery. Despite this, Rit’s new owner refused to accept the will and instead held Rit, Harriett, and the rest of her children in bondage for the remainder of their lives. Harriet married John Tubman, a free Black man, in 1844, and changed her last name from Ross to Tubman in honor of her new husband.
Harriet’s marriage was in shambles, and the idea that two of her brothers—Ben and Henry—were going to be sold prompted her to devise a plan to flee. She was not alone in her desire to leave.
Harriet Tubman: Underground Railroad
On September 17, 1849, Harriet, Ben, and Henry managed to flee their Maryland farm and reach the United States. The brothers, on the other hand, changed their minds and returned. Harriet persisted, and with the assistance of the Underground Railroad, she was able to journey 90 miles north to Pennsylvania and freedom. Tubman got employment as a housekeeper in Philadelphia, but she wasn’t content with simply being free on her own; she desired freedom for her family and friends, as well as for herself.
She attempted to relocate her husband John to the north at one time, but he had remarried and preferred to remain in Maryland with his new wife.
Fugitive Slave Act
The Runaway Slave Act of 1850 authorized the apprehension and enslavement of fugitive and released laborers in the northern United States. Consequently, Harriet’s task as an Underground Railroad guide became much more difficult, and she was obliged to take enslaved people even farther north into Canada by leading them through the night, generally during the spring or fall when the days were shorter. She carried a revolver for her personal security as well as to “encourage” any of her charges who might be having second thoughts about following her orders.
Within 10 years, Harriet became acquainted with other abolitionists like as Frederick Douglass, Thomas Garrett, and Martha Coffin Wright, and she built her own Underground Railroad network of her own.
Despite this, it is thought that Harriet personally guided at least 70 enslaved persons to freedom, including her elderly parents, and that she educated scores of others on how to escape on their own in the years following the Civil War.
More information may be found at The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Harriet Tubman’s Civil War Service
In 1861, as the American Civil War broke out, Harriet discovered new methods of combating slavery. She was lured to Fort Monroe to provide assistance to runaway enslaved persons, where she served as a nurse, chef, and laundress. In order to assist sick troops and runaway enslaved people, Harriet employed her expertise of herbal medicines. She rose to the position of director of an intelligence and reconnaissance network for the Union Army in 1863. In addition to providing Union commanders with critical data regarding Confederate Army supply routes and personnel, she assisted in the liberation of enslaved persons who went on to join Black Union battalions.
Despite being at just over five feet tall, she was a force to be reckoned with, despite the fact that it took more than three decades for the government to recognize her military accomplishments and provide her with financial compensation.
Harriet Tubman’s Later Years
Following the Civil War, Harriet moved to Auburn, New York, where she lived with her family and friends on land she owned. After her husband John died in 1867, she married Nelson Davis, a former enslaved man and Civil War soldier, in 1869. A few years later, they adopted a tiny girl named Gertie, who became their daughter. Harriet maintained an open-door policy for anyone who was in need of assistance. In order to sustain her philanthropic endeavors, she sold her homegrown fruit, raised pigs, accepted gifts, and borrowed money from family and friends.
- She also collaborated with famed suffrage activist Susan B.
- Harriet Tubman acquired land close to her home in 1896 and built the Harriet Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Colored People, which opened in 1897.
- However, her health continued to deteriorate, and she was finally compelled to relocate to the rest home that bears her name in 1911.
- Schools and museums carry her name, and her life story has been told in novels, films, and documentaries, among other mediums.
Harriet Tubman: 20 Dollar Bill
The SS Harriet Tubman, which was named for Tubman during World War I, is a memorial to her legacy. In 2016, the United States Treasury announced that Harriet Tubman’s portrait will be used on the twenty-dollar note, replacing the image of former President and slaveowner Andrew Jackson. Later, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (who previously worked under President Trump) indicated that the new plan will be postponed until at least 2026 at the earliest. President Biden’s administration stated in January 2021 that it will expedite the design phase of the project.
Early years of one’s life. The Harriet Tubman Historical Society was founded in 1908. General Tubman was a female abolitionist who also served as a secret military weapon during the Civil War. Military Times is a publication that publishes news on the military. Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. Biography. Biography. Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. Thompson AME Zion Church, Thompson Home for the Aged, and Thompson Residence are all located in Thompson. The National Park Service is a federal agency.
- Myths against facts.
- Kate Clifford Larson, Ph.D.
- Harriet Tubman is a historical figure.
- National Women’s History Museum exhibit about Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman, “The Moses of Her People,” is a fictional character created by author Harriet Tubman. The Harriet Tubman Historical Society was founded in 1908. Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. The Underground Railroad (Urban Railroad). The National Park Service is a federal agency.
Eastern Illinois University : Teaching with Primary Sources
However, many of the intriguing and lesser known elements of the Underground Railroad are not included in many textbooks, despite the fact that it is an essential part of our nation’s history. It is intended that this booklet will serve as a window into the past by presenting a number of original documents pertaining to the Underground Railroad. Broadsides, prize posters, newspaper clippings, historical records, sheet music, pictures, and memoirs connected to the Underground Railroad are among the primary sources included in this collection.
- The Underground Railroad was a covert structure established to assist fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom in the United States.
- As a result, secret codes were developed to aid in the protection of themselves and their purpose.
- Runaway slaves were referred to as cargo, and the free persons who assisted them on their journey to freedom were referred to as conductors.
- These stations would be identified by a lantern that was lighted and hung outside.
A Dangerous Path to Freedom
Traveling through the Underground Railroad to seek their freedom was a lengthy and risky trek for escaped slaves. Runaway slaves were forced to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, in a short amount of time in order to escape. They accomplished this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were rushing after them in the night. Slave owners were not the only ones who sought for and apprehended fleeing slaves. For the purpose of encouraging people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters offering monetary compensation for assisting in the capture of their property.
- Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
- They would have to fend off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them while trekking for lengthy periods of time in the wilderness, as well as cross dangerous terrain and endure extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the arrest of fugitive slaves since they were regarded as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the law at the time.
- They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
- After the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the southern states, from which he had thought he had fled.
American Memory and America’s Library are two names for the Library of Congress’ American Memory and America’s Library collections.
He did not escape via the Underground Railroad, but rather on a regular railroad.
Since he was a fugitive slave who did not have any “free papers,” he had to borrow a seaman’s protection certificate, which indicated that a seaman was a citizen of the United States, in order to prove that he was free.
Unfortunately, not all fugitive slaves were successful in their quest for freedom.
Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, Anthony Burns, Addison White, Josiah Henson, and John Parker were just a few of the people who managed to escape slavery using the Underground Railroad system.
He shipped himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a box that measured three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two feet in diameter. When he was finally let out of the crate, he burst out singing.
Train conductors on the Underground Railroad were free persons who provided assistance to escaped slaves moving via the Underground Railroad system. Runaway slaves were assisted by conductors, who provided them with safe transportation to and from train stations. They were able to accomplish this under the cover of darkness, with slave hunters on their tails. Many of these stations would be in the comfort of their own homes or places of work, which was convenient. They were in severe danger as a result of their actions in hiding fleeing slaves; nonetheless, they continued because they believed in a cause bigger than themselves, which was the liberation thousands of oppressed human beings.
- They represented a diverse range of ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Due to the widespread belief that slaves were considered property, the freeing of slaves was perceived as a theft of slave owners’ personal belongings.
- Captain Jonathan Walker was apprehended off the coast of Florida while attempting to convey slaves from the United States to freedom in the Bahamas.
- With the following words from one of his songs, abolitionist poet John Whittier paid respect to Walker’s valiant actions: “Take a step forward with your muscular right hand, brave ploughman of the sea!
- She never lost sight of any of them during the journey.
- He went on to write a novel.
- John Parker is yet another former slave who escaped and returned to slave states in order to aid in the emancipation of others.
Rankin’s neighbor and fellow conductor, Reverend John Rankin, was a collaborator in the Underground Railroad project.
The Underground Railroad’s conductors were unquestionably anti-slavery, and they were not alone in their views.
Individuals such as William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur and Lewis Tappan founded the American Anti-Slavery Society, which marked the beginning of the abolitionist movement.
The group published an annual almanac that featured poetry, paintings, essays, and other abolitionist material.
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who rose to prominence as an abolitionist after escaping from slavery.
His other abolitionist publications included the Frederick Douglass Paper, which he produced in addition to delivering public addresses on themes that were important to abolitionists.
Anthony was another well-known abolitionist who advocated for the abolition of slavery via her speeches and writings.
For the most part, she based her novel on the adventures of escaped slave Josiah Henson.
Efforts of Abolitionists Telling Their Story:Fugitive Slave Narratives
Henry Bibb was born into slavery in Kentucky in the year 1815, and he was the son of a slave owner. After several failed efforts to emancipate himself from slavery, he maintained the strength and persistence to continue his struggle for freedom despite being captured and imprisoned numerous times. His determination paid off when he was able to successfully escape to the northern states and then on to Canada with the assistance of the Underground Railroad, which had been highly anticipated. The following is an excerpt from his tale, in which he detailed one of his numerous escapes and the difficulties he faced as a result of his efforts.
- I began making preparations for the potentially lethal experiment of breading the shackles that tied me as a slave as soon as the clock struck twelve.
- On the twenty-fifth of December, 1837, the long-awaited day had finally arrived when I would put into effect my previous determination, which was to flee for Liberty or accept death as a slave, as I had previously stated.
- It took every ounce of moral strength I have to keep my emotions under control as I said goodbye to my small family.
- Despite the fact that every incentive was extended to me in order to flee if I want to be free, and the call of liberty was booming in my own spirit, ‘Be free, oh, man!
- I was up against a slew of hurdles that had gathered around my mind, attempting to bind my wounded soul, which was still imprisoned in the dark prison of mental degeneration.
- Furthermore, the danger of being killed or arrested and deported to the far South, where I would be forced to spend the rest of my days in hopeless bondage on a cotton or sugar plantation, all conspired to discourage me.
- The moment has come for me to follow through on my commitment.
- This marked the beginning of the construction of what was known as the underground rail route to Canada.
For nearly forty-eight hours, I pushed myself to complete my journey without food or rest, battling against external difficulties that no one who has never experienced them can comprehend: “not knowing when I might be captured while traveling among strangers, through cold and fear, braving the north winds while wearing only a thin layer of clothing, pelted by snow storms through the dark hours of the night, and not a single house in which I could enter to protect me from the storm.” This is merely one of several accounts penned by runaway slaves who were on the run from their masters.
Sojourner Truth was another former slave who became well-known for her work to bring slavery to an end.
Green and many others, including Josiah Henson, authored autobiographies in which they described their own personal experiences.
Perhaps a large number of escaped slaves opted to write down their experiences in order to assist people better comprehend their struggles and tribulations; or perhaps they did so in order to help folks learn from the mistakes of the past in order to create a better future for themselves.
The Underground Railroad Route
Students will learn how to distinguish between slave states and free states during the time of the Underground Railroad, as well as the difficulties of escaping and choosing the path they would have chosen. Geography, Human Geography, and Physical Geography are the subjects covered. Students should be able to distinguish between slave and free states throughout the time of the Underground Railroad. Each pupil should be given a copy of the map titled “Routes to Freedom.” Inform pupils that the Underground Railroad aided enslaved individuals as they traveled from the South to the North during the American Civil War.
Afterwards, instruct pupils to locate each slave state on the map as you pronounce its name:
- sMontana This state does not display on the map since it is not included in the list. Make use of a wall map of the United States to instruct children on where Montana is located.) North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia are among the states represented.
Explain to pupils that enslaved individuals did not have access to maps, compasses, or GPS systems throughout their time in slavery. The majority of enslaved individuals were never permitted to get an education, and as a result, they were unable to read or write. Consider the following question: How do you suppose enslaved people knew they were heading in the correct direction? Students should be informed that enslaved individuals resorted to guides on the Underground Railroad, as well as memory, visuals, and spoken communication to survive.
- Talk about the difficulties you’ve encountered on your path.
- Instruct pupils to examine the map and make note of any physical characteristics of the region that made the voyage challenging.
- In order to demonstrate proper shading techniques, students should go to Alabama, then northeast via Maine and into Canada to see how the Applachian Mountains are shaded.
- Ask:Can you think of anything else that made the travel difficult?
- Being outside in the cold and snow during the winter
- Being unable to feed oneself
- Tiredness accompanied by inability to relax
- The necessity of swimming over or across bodies of water
- Needing to travel for lengthy periods of time
- Evading or avoiding people or animals
3. Ask pupils to identify the route they would have chosen if they were in their shoes. Students should be divided into small groups. Ask each group to look at the map and choose the route they would have gone to freedom if they had been able to do so. Students should choose their selections based on the states, rivers, and mountain ranges that they would have to cover on their journey. Ask each group to describe the path they would have followed and why they would have done so.
Students should discuss what they believe to be the most difficult obstacles to fleeing enslaved people, such as distance, weather, mountains, wildlife, bodies of water, or densely inhabited places, among other things. Inquire as to how their chosen method might have assisted enslaved individuals in avoiding the difficulties they were faced with.
Students will be able to:
- The student will be able to identify slave states and free states during the time period when the Underground Railroad was active
- Describe the difficulties encountered throughout the voyage
- Indicate the path they would have followed, and explain their reasons.
- Common Core Standard 1: How to interpret and share information via the use of maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technology, and spatial thinking
- Standard 17: How to use geography to understand and interpret the past.
What You’ll Need
- Highlighters, paper, pencils, and pens, as well as a wall map of the United States
- Internet access is optional
- Technological setup includes one computer per classroom and a projector.
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In the case of media, the Rights Holder is the individual or group that gets credited.
Naomi Friedman holds a Master’s degree in political science.
Christina Riska Simmons is a model and actress.
Jessica Wallace-Weaver is a certified educational consultant.
- Based on the National Geographic Xpeditions lesson “Finding Your Way: The Underground Railroad,” this activity was created. Permissions Granted to Users Users’ permissions are detailed in our Terms of Service, which you can see by clicking here. Alternatively, if you have any issues regarding how to reference something from our website in your project or classroom presentation, please speak with your instructor. They will be the most knowledgeable about the selected format. When you contact them, you will need to provide them with the page title, URL, and the date on which you visited the item.
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The term “fugitive slave” refers to any individual who managed to flee slavery in the time leading up to and including the American Civil War. In general, they sought sanctuary in Canada or in free states in the North, while Florida (which had been under Spanish authority for a time) was also a popular destination. (See also the Black Seminoles.) Enslaved persons in America have wished to escape from their masters and seek refuge in other countries since the beginning of the slave trade. “An insatiable thirst for freedom,” said S.J.
- The majority of slaves were uneducated and had little or no money, as well as few, if any, goods.
- In order to reach safety in a free state or in Canada, many runaways had to traverse considerable miles on foot, which they did in many cases.
- The majority of those who were returned to their owners were subjected to severe punishment in an effort to discourage others from attempting to flee.
- Because of the tremendous physical difficulty of the voyage to freedom, the majority of slaves who managed to escape were young males, rather than women.
- After the development of the Underground Railroad, a network of persons and safe houses that had developed over many years to assist runaway slaves on their treks north, fugitive slaves’ escape became simpler for a period of time.
- According to some estimates, the “railroad” assisted as many as 70,000 people (but estimates range from 40,000 to 100,000) in their efforts to emancipate themselves from slavery between 1800 and 1865.
- The runaways would travel in small groups during the night, sometimes covering a distance of 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 km) between train stations, constantly running the danger of being apprehended.
- The majority of the time, their new lives in the so-called free states were not significantly better than their previous ones on the plantation.
The passage of the Fugitive Slave Actof 1850, which allowed for heavy fines to be levied against anyone who interfered with a slaveowner in the process of recapturing fugitive slaves and forced law-enforcement officials to assist in the recapture of runaways, exacerbated the situation in the North even further.
- Some of those who managed to flee penned memoirs on their ordeals and the obstacles they encountered on their trip to safety in the north.
- An further work, Slave Life in Virginia and Kentucky; or, Fifty Years of Slavery in the Southern States of America(1863), relates the story of a slave called Francis Fedric (sometimes spelt Fredric or Frederick), who was subjected to horrific violence at the hands of his master.
- The Resurrection of Henry “Box” Brown at the Pennsylvania Convention Center It is depicted in an undated broadside issued in Boston as the Resurrection of Henry “Box” Brown, which took place in Philadelphia.
- The Library of Congress is located in Washington, D.C.
- He is first filled with excitement at the realization that he has landed at a free condition.
- Bowie’s Frederick Douglass is a biography.
- Bowie’s portrait of Frederick Douglass as a fugitive slave was published as the cover artwork for a piece of sheet music, The Fugitive’s Song, that was written for and dedicated to Douglass in 1845.
This alone was enough to dampen the ardor of my enthusiasm.
However, I was overcome with loneliness.
Runaway slaves’ experiences are represented in a number of famous works of American literature, including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s The Scarlet Letter.
Eliza Harris is a fugitive slave who In a similar vein, Jim in Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn(1884) is an escaped slave who befriends and defends Huck.
In Toni Morrison’s powerfulPulitzer Prize-winning novelBeloved, a third, more modern depiction of the experiences of a fugitive is told from the perspective of an African American woman (1987).
It is based on true events and portrays the narrative of Sethe, a fugitive who chooses to kill her young kid rather than allow herself to be captured and imprisoned by her captors. Naomi Blumberg was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.
When describing a network of meeting spots, hidden routes, passages, and safehouses used by slaves in the United States to escape slave-holding states and seek refuge in northern states and Canada, the Underground Railroad was referred to as the Underground Railroad (UR). The underground railroad, which was established in the early 1800s and sponsored by persons active in the Abolitionist Movement, assisted thousands of slaves in their attempts to escape bondage. Between 1810 and 1850, it is estimated that 100,000 slaves escaped from bondage in the southern United States.
Facts, information and articles about the Underground Railroad
Aproximate year of birth: 1780
The beginnings of the American Civil War occurred around the year 1862.
Estimates range between 6,000 and 10,000.
Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. William Still is a well-known author and poet. Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by author Levi Coffin. John Fairfield is a well-known author.
The Story of How Canada Became the Final Station on the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy as a Freedom Fighter and a Spion is well documented.
The Beginnings Of the Underground Railroad
Even before the nineteenth century, it appears that a mechanism to assist runaways existed. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his escaped slaves by “a organization of Quakers, founded for such purposes.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge. Their influence may have played a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, which was home to a large number of Quakers.
In recognition of his contributions, Levi is often referred to as the “president of the Underground Railroad.” In Fountain City, Ohio, on Ohio’s western border, the eight-room Indiana home they bought and used as a “station” before they came to Cincinnati has been preserved and is now a National Historic Landmark.
The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name
Owen Brown, the father of radical abolitionist John Brown, was a member of the Underground Railroad in the state of New York during the Civil War. An unconfirmed narrative suggests that “Mammy Sally” designated the house where Abraham Lincoln’s future wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, grew up and served as a safe house where fugitives could receive food, but the account is doubtful. Routes of the Underground Railroad It was not until the early 1830s that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was first used.
Fugitives going by water or on genuine trains were occasionally provided with clothing so that they wouldn’t give themselves away by wearing their worn-out job attire.
Many of them continued on to Canada, where they could not be lawfully reclaimed by their rightful owners.
The slave or slaves were forced to flee from their masters, which was frequently done at night. It was imperative that the runaways maintain their eyes on the North Star at all times; only by keeping that star in front of them could they be certain that they were on their trip north.
Conductors On The Railroad
A “conductor,” who pretended to be a slave, would sometimes accompany fugitives to a plantation in order to lead them on their journey. Harriet Tubman, a former slave who traveled to slave states 19 times and liberated more than 300 people, is one of the most well-known “conductors.” She used her shotgun to threaten death to any captives who lost heart and sought to return to slavery. The Underground Railroad’s operators faced their own set of risks as well. If someone living in the North was convicted of assisting fugitives in their escape, he or she could face fines of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, which was a significant sum at the time; however, in areas where abolitionism was strong, the “secret” railroad was openly operated, and no one was arrested.
His position as the most significant commander of the Underground Railroad in and around Albany grew as time went on.
However, in previous times of American history, the phrase “vigilance committee” generally refers to citizen organizations that took the law into their own hands, prosecuting and hanging those suspected of crimes when there was no local government or when they considered the local authority was corrupt or weak.
White males who were found assisting slaves in their escape were subjected to heavier punishments than white women, but both were likely to face at the very least incarceration.
The Civil War On The Horizon
Events such as the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott decision compelled more anti-slavery activists to take an active part in the effort to liberate slaves in the United States. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Southern states began to secede in December 1860, putting an end to the Union’s hopes of achieving independence from the United States. Abolitionist newspapers and even some loud abolitionists warned against giving the remaining Southern states an excuse to separate. Lucia Bagbe (later known as Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson) is considered to be the final slave who was returned to bondage as a result of the Fugitive Slave Law.
Her owner hunted her down and arrested her in December 1860.
Even the Cleveland Leader, a Republican weekly that was traditionally anti-slavery and pro-the Fugitive Slave Legislation, warned its readers that allowing the law to run its course “may be oil thrown upon the seas of our nation’s difficulties,” according to the newspaper.
Following her capture, Lucy was carried back to Ohio County, Virginia, and punished, but she was released at some time when Union soldiers took control of the region. In her honor, a Grand Jubilee was celebrated on May 6, 1863, in the city of Cleveland.
The Reverse Underground Railroad
A “reverse Underground Railroad” arose in the northern states surrounding the Ohio River during the Civil War. The black men and women of those states, whether or not they had previously been slaves, were occasionally kidnapped and concealed in homes, barns, and other structures until they could be transported to the South and sold as slaves.
The Underground Railroad is a towering series about the ways slavery still infects America
It is unavoidably difficult for a white critic such as me to examine a work of art that is explicitly about the Black experience in America. There is a danger of coming across as condescending at best and appropriative at worst when attempting to equate the pain, trauma, and terror that often falls on Black Americans to the personal sorrows that white viewers may experience in their everyday lives, as is the case with this film. It is conceivable and even desirable for white audiences to discover personal connection in the lives of protagonists in films like as Do the Right Thing or12 Years a Slave because great art weaves universal stories out of unique realities.
- Despite the fact that I have a terrible background, I do not live under the same crushing weight of centuries of slavery and institutional racism as so many others have.
- Both Do the Right Thing and 12 Years a Slave are excellent films, but both urge us to look unflinchingly at the horrendous ways in which America abuses its Black residents.
- As a result, I’d want to proceed with caution when evaluating The Underground Railroad, a 10-episode television version of Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.
- In no way should it be lauded as a narrative in which anybody can identify with the characters.
- Things about my own life and personal anguish were brought to the surface by The Underground Railroad, but I never lost sight of the fact that, while I could identify with portions of this tale, it was not my own.
Jenkins acknowledges that this is a narrative about humanity, and he allows you the opportunity to discover yourself in it without detracting from the story’s central theme – even if you don’t like what you see.
For an adaptation of a great novel by an acclaimed filmmaker,The Underground Railroadsure acts like a TV show. Good.
Ridgeway, played by Joel Edgerton, is a slave catcher who is relentlessly on Cora’s trail, until he is killed by her. Atsushi Nishijima/Amazon Studios is the photographer. When a brilliant filmmaker creates a television program, he or she is all too frequently content to merely extend their usual storytelling approach across a longer period of time than they would otherwise. A reason why Drivedirector Nicolas Winding Refn’s 10-episode Amazon seriesToo Old to Die Youngdidn’t make much of a splash when it premiered in the summer of 2019, despite the fact that it was directed by one of the most exciting young directors working today: The whole thing moved at the speed of molasses.
- This difficulty is mostly eliminated because to the Underground Railroad.
- Cora goes from place to place via an actual subterranean railroad — complete with train and everything — in an attempt to determine exactly what is wrong with each new locale she encounters.
- It’s not like Whitehead sits you down and says, “The South Carolina portion is all about the promise and final withering away of Reconstruction,” and the South Carolina chapter (the second episode of the series) is about much more than that.
- Whitehead’s concept is tied together by the following: In the series, Cora is being relentlessly chased by a slave catcher named Ridgeway (played by Joel Edgerton), who is determined to pull her back into slavery despite the fact that she is sort of going forward in time.
It is always possible for the country’s racist past to be linked to its racist present, and Whitehead’s use of Ridgeway is a far more compelling exploration of this idea than any big, heartbreaking speech Cora could give on the subject (although several of the series’ characters deliver some incredible speeches).
Each episode of the series may reasonably easily be read as a stand-alone story, with casual viewers having just the most rudimentary comprehension of the main characters and their position at the time of viewing.
They were also included in the novel, but Jenkins and his colleagues have made them a significant part of the overall experience by focusing on them as palate cleansers.
For example, the camera may zoom in for a God’s-eye view of a burning hamlet, or an episode might progress mostly without speaking until it reaches a long, gloriously talky sequence near the conclusion.
However, binge-watching The Underground Railroadwould run the risk of reducing it to the level of a pulp thriller — typically, the best shows to watch in a marathon have clearly defined episodic stories that connect up into longer, serialized stories — but binge-watching this series would run the risk of reducing it to the level of a pulp thriller.
- For comparison, Steve McQueen’s 2020 anthology series Small Axe is similar in that it introduces new people in each episode, although The Underground Railroad does not.
- The first episode has some graphic depictions of slavery, but it picks and selects which pictures to include.
- Despite making it plain that no one should ever see what is going to be seen, the sequence’s build helps the spectator to mentally prepare themselves for what they’re about to witness.
- When these tropes are in the hands of others, they might feel stale.
- The slave, a guy we’ve scarcely known up to this point, keeps his humanity at the same time as people who aren’t especially disturbed by what’s going on retain their humanity in a different sense, thanks to the efforts of the Master.
- The sound design for The Underground Railroad is likewise deserving of particular mention.
- For example, when we hear a door swinging on its rusted hinges or a blacksmith pounding away in his shop, we hear that sound a little louder in the soundtrack than we would if we were in the same setting in real life.
While Cora is standing in an apparently deserted building, the sound of a chain jangling somewhere in the background quietly disturbs her, recalling the shackles that were placed on slaves in the first episode.
TheUnderground Railroadtells a universal story about moving through PTSD — but it is still a very specific version of PTSD
Cora finds herself in several really dark situations, both physically and metaphorically. Image courtesy of Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios In contemplating The Underground Railroad’s frequent use of metallic sounds, I began to get why I found the series so compelling, for reasons other than its tale and storytelling. Cora’s journey struck a chord with me because it mirrored my own recent experiences of attempting to fight my identity away from a history that was threatening to swallow it whole. My whole adult existence has felt like a process of peeling back layers of rotten, awful stuff, some of which was placed upon me at my conception.
- However, this is where the conundrum I described at the outset of this review comes into effect.
- After all, we’ve all experienced discomfort at some time in our lives, right?
- (At least, that’s how this type of critical argument works.) It is also feasible to go in the other direction.
- For example, John Singleton’s 1991 classicBoyz n the Hood is an incredibly well-made coming-of-age drama set in the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyz n the Hood.
- Singleton had little influence over how Boyz n the Hood would be accepted into mainstream society once it had begun to spread.
- In this way, watching the correct movies might be seen as a form of gradual self-vindication: I am vicariously feeling the sorrow of others, and that makes me a decent person.
Take note of how frequently he places the process of perceiving brutalities, both vast and commonplace, at the core of his argument: A scenario in which a white audience watches a whipping, for example, lingers on both the white audience and the Black audience for such flogging, watching how the white spectators treat the show as if it were nothing more than window decorating for an afternoon picnic.
The unusual temporal dilation of Whitehead’s work also serves to keep the series from having a distancing impact on the reader.
Upon leaving the plantation, Cora travels through a number of other worlds, many of which bear unnerving resemblances to the current day in ways that disturb viewers who would be inclined to dismiss these stories as being set in the distant past.
Despite our numerous and obvious differences, I recognized myself in Cora.
I, too, wish to let go of my past, but I’ve found it to be more difficult than I had anticipated.
That is an excellent forecast.
Then, just when it seems like you’ve become comfortable with your reading of The Underground Railroad—or with any reading, for that matter—Jenkins will clip in pictures of the various Black characters from throughout the series, each of whom is looking gravely into the camera.
We identify with the characters in the stories we read or watch.
However, as you are watching what happens to these individuals, they are gazing straight back at you, via the camera, across the chasms of time that separate you from them.
And what do they notice when they take a glance behind them? The Underground Railroadwill premiere on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, May 14th. It is divided into ten episodes with running times ranging from 20 minutes to 77 minutes. Yes, this is true. Believe me when I say that it works.