Because it was dangerous to be in free states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, or even Massachusetts after 1850, most people hoping to escape traveled all the way to Canada. So, you could say that the Underground Railroad went from the American south to Canada.
How far did the Underground Railroad stretch?
The length of the route to freedom varied but was often 500 to 600 miles. Those who were strong—and lucky—might make it to freedom in as little as two months. For others, the journey could last more than a year. Harriet Tubman was one of the most famous conductors along the Underground Railroad.
Where did the Underground Railroad end at?
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada as its final destination.
What were the routes of the Underground Railroad?
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.
When did the Underground Railroad begin and end?
system used by abolitionists between 1800-1865 to help enslaved African Americans escape to free states.
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.
How many slaves did Harriet Tubman save?
Fact: According to Tubman’s own words, and extensive documentation on her rescue missions, we know that she rescued about 70 people —family and friends—during approximately 13 trips to Maryland.
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.
Can you take a tour of the Underground Railroad?
Schedule Your Visit Our adjusted hours of operations are Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm (EST). Learn more about what you can see and do at the visitor center, and explore the stories of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad!
Was there real trains in the Underground Railroad?
Nope! Despite its name, the Underground Railroad wasn’t a railroad in the way Amtrak or commuter rail is. It wasn’t even a real railroad. The Underground Railroad of history was simply a loose network of safe houses and top secret routes to states where slavery was banned.
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
Enslaved man Tice Davids fled from Kentucky into Ohio in 1831, and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his release. This was the first time the Underground Railroad was mentioned in print. In 1839, a Washington newspaper stated that an escaped enslaved man called Jim had divulged, after being tortured, his intention to go north through a “underground railroad to Boston” in order to avoid capture. After being established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard fugitive enslaved individuals from bounty hunters, Vigilance Committees quickly expanded its duties to include guiding runaway slaves.
It was by the 1840s that the phrase “Underground Railroad” had become commonplace in the United States. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ THESE STATEMENTS. Harriet Tubman and other Underground Railroad fugitives used the following strategies to get away.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Abolitionist He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was during this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, an organization dedicated to aiding fleeing slaves in their journey to Canada. With the abolitionist movement, Brown would play a variety of roles, most notably leading an assault on Harper’s Ferry to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people under threat of death. Eventually, Brown’s forces were defeated, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two of them were jailed for aiding an escaped enslaved woman and her child escape.
- When Charles Torrey assisted an enslaved family fleeing through Virginia, he was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland.
- was his base of operations; earlier, he had served as an abolitionist newspaper editor in Albany, New York.
- In addition to being fined and imprisoned for a year, Walker had the letters “SS” for Slave Stealer tattooed on his right hand.
As a slave trader, Fairfield’s strategy was to travel across the southern states. Twice he managed to escape from prison. Tennessee’s arebellion claimed his life in 1860, and he was buried there.
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad? ‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented.
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?
- In the winter, being cold and outdoors
- Not having enough food
- Being exhausted yet unable to relax
- Having to swim or traverse bodies of water
- Having to travel great distances
- 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.
As a class, ask students to discuss the obstacles they believe they will face in escaping enslaved people. These obstacles may include distance, weather, mountains, wildlife, bodies of water, or populous places, among others. To find out how their selected way would have helped enslaved people escape the difficulties, ask them to describe how it did so.
- 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.
- Learn how to distinguish between slave and free states during the time of the Underground Railroad, and how to describe the difficulties they faced along the way. Describe the path they would have followed and explain their reasons.
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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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 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.|
Places of the Underground Railroad (U.S. National Park Service)
A map of the United States depicting the many paths that freedom seekers might follow in order to attain freedom. NPS provided the image. When enslaved African Americans attempted to obtain their escape via the use of an underground railroad network of routes, safehouses, and resources distributed across the country, they were referred to as “fugitives from justice.” This attempt was frequently spontaneous, with enslaved persons setting off on their quest to liberation on their own initiative.
During the 1820s and 1830s, the United States experienced a surge in the number of people who sought independence from oppression.
In certain instances, the choice to aid a freedom seeking may have been a result of a spur of the moment decision.
Origins of the Underground Railroad
Enslaved people have long sought liberation, dating back to the earliest days of the institution of slavery. Colonial North America – which included Canada and the northern states of the United States – was heavily involved in the slave trade during the nineteenth century. Newly enslaved Africans frequently fled in groups with the intention of establishing new communities in isolated locations. Slavery was particularly widespread in the northern states, making escape extremely difficult. Before the mid-nineteenth century, Spanish Florida and Mexico were the most popular escape destinations for those fleeing bondage.
- The Clemens’ residence is owned by James and Sarah Clemens.
- Following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 by Congress, Canada became a shelter for many people who were hoping to gain their freedom.
- Those living in free Black communities in the North were devastated by this.
- However, as a result of these seizures and kidnappings, a large number of individuals were persuaded to provide assistance as part of the Underground Railroad.
- Formerly enslaved men and women also played an important part in assisting freedom seekers, such as the Clemens family, in their quest for freedom.
- In addition to establishing a school and a cemetery, they served as a station on the Underground Railroad from their residence.
Several freedom seekers made their way to Greenville as their last destination. Bethel AME Church is a congregation of African-Americans. Photo by Smallbones, used under a Creative Commons license.
The Role of Women in the Underground Railroad
A large number of women were involved in the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman was one of the most well-known Underground Railroad conductors, having undertaken more than a dozen excursions into slave-holding states to assist oppressed persons in their journey to freedom. Despite the fact that Tubman had several hiding places, oral histories indicate that she regularly stopped at the Bethel AME Church in Greenwich Township, New Jersey, to rest. Freedom seekers traveling north from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Delaware were accommodated in the church, which was located in the center of the Black village of Springtown.
- One of her most well-known routes was through Delaware, which led north.
- CC BY-SA 4.0 license, photo by Historic Newton.
- Mary Jackson and her family, who lived in Massachusetts at the time, donated their farm as a safe haven for anyone fleeing slavery through the Underground Railroad.
- Ellen was instrumental in the establishment of the Freedman’s Aid Society in Newton in 1865.
- Photo by Jim Roberts, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
- Due to the fact that the Underground Railroad was made up of a loose network of persons – both enslaved and free – there is little evidence on how it functioned and who was involved.
- When she blogged about her experiences hosting freedom seekers at their home, she received a lot of positive feedback.
- Nathan Thomas House in Schoolcraft, Michigan.
Legacy of the Underground Railroad
Locations related with the Underground Railroad may be found all throughout the United States, and a number of national preservation projects are devoted to recording these historical places of significance. In the case of the National Park Service’sNetwork to Freedomprogram, for example, the program includes locations that may be proven to have a link to the Underground Railroad. By working in conjunction with government agencies, people, and organizations to recognize, preserve, and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, the Network to Freedom hopes to bring attention to this important part of human history.
- The Barney L.
- The public domain is a term used to describe a piece of property that is owned by the public.
- Identification, evaluation, and protection of America’s historic and archeological resources are the goals of this National Park Service initiative, which brings together public and private efforts.
- This is true of places such as theBarney L.
- With the help of the Underground Railroad, Barney was able to escape from his bondage.
- Barney finally settled in Denver, where he made a name for himself as a successful businessman.
- Barney was also an outspoken fighter for African-American civil rights, and he played a crucial part in Colorado’s admittance to the Union as a free state.
- Ford Building contribute to the telling of the tale of the Underground Railroad and its participants – both free and enslaved – in the United States.
Members of the public can assist in the recognition and preservation of locations, structures, and landscapes linked with the Underground Railroad by nominating them to the Network to Freedom or to the National Register of Historic Places.
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
Runaway assistance appears to have occurred well before the nineteenth century. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his fugitive slaves by “a organization of Quakers, created specifically for this reason.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge in the nineteenth century. It is possible that their influence had a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, given it was home to many Quakers at the time.
Due to his role in the Underground Railroad, Levi is sometimes referred to as its president.
“Eliza” was one of the slaves who hid within it, and her narrative served as the inspiration for the character of the same name in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (published in 1852).
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. Operators of the Underground Railroad faced their own set of risks, including Harriet Tubman, a former slave who returned to slave states 19 times and carried more than 300 prisoners to freedom—using her shotgun to threaten death to any slaves who lost hope and wished to turn back. 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.
Getting caught in a slave state while assisting runaways was much more dangerous than getting caught in the North; punishments included prison, whipping, or even hanging—assuming the accused made it to court alive.
The most severe punishments, such as hundreds of lashing with a whip, burning, or hanging, were reserved for any blacks who were discovered in the process of assisting fugitive fugitives on the loose.
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.
There has sprung up a “reverse Underground Railroad” in northern states that border the Ohio River. The black men and women of those states, whether or whether 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 there.
When the 1793 Act to Limit Slavery was passed, a clause specified that any enslaved person who made it to Upper Canada would be declared free upon arrival. In response to this, a limited number of enslaved African Americans in quest of freedom were urged to enter Canada, mostly on their own. During and after the War of 1812, word traveled even further that independence was possible in Canada. The enslaved slaves of US military commanders in the South carried news back to the North that there were free “Black men in red coats” in British North America, which was confirmed by the British.
It gave slavecatchers the authority to track down fugitives in northern states.
This underground network of abolitionists was established in the early nineteenth century, with the majority of its members being based in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Within a few decades, it had developed into a well-organized and vibrant network of organizations. The phrase “Underground Railroad” first appeared in the 1830s and has been in use ever since. It had already begun to take shape at that point, an informal covert network to assist escaping slaves. The Underground Railroad was not a real train, and it did not operate on actual railroad rails like other railroads.
abolitionists who were devoted to human rights and equality were responsible for keeping the network running.
Its members comprised free Blacks, fellow enslaved individuals, White and Indigenous supporters, Quakers, Methodists, and Baptists, residents of urban centers and farmers, men and women, from all over the world (including the United States and Canada).
Symbols and Codes
In order to conceal the clandestine actions of the network, railroad language and symbols were employed. This also assisted in keeping the general public and slaveholders in the dark. Escaped slaves were referred to as “conductors” by those who assisted them on their voyage. It was their job to guide fugitives via the Underground Railroad’s routes, which included numerous kinds of transit on land and sea. Harriet Tubman was one of the most well-known conductors in history. The names “passengers,” “cargo,” “package,” and “freight” all referred to fugitive slaves on their way to freedom.
Terminals, which were stations located in numerous cities and towns, were referred to as “terminals.” Occasionally, lighted candles in windows or strategically positioned lanterns in the front yard may be used to identify these ephemeral havens of safety.
“Station masters” were in charge of running the safe houses. They welcomed fugitives into their house and gave them with meals, a change of clothing, and a safe haven to rest and hide from the authorities. Prior to delivering them to the next transfer location, they would frequently give them money. WilliamStill, a black abolitionist who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was in command of a station there. He accompanied a large number of freedom seekers on their way to Canada. He kept a list of the men, women, and children that came to his station, including Tubman and her passengers, and he transcribed their names.
- He was the owner and operator of a radio station in Syracuse, New York.
- Catharines, both in Upper Canada, from 1837 until 1841, when he decided to permanently move there.
- A large number of women worked as station masters as well.
- A large number of other women worked alongside their spouses to own radio stations.
“Ticket agents” assisted freedom-seekers in coordinating safe excursions and making travel arrangements by putting them in touch with station masters or conductors, among other things. It was not uncommon for ticket agents to be people who traveled for a living, such as circuit preachers or physicians, to work. They were able to hide their abolitionist operations as a result of this. Among those who served on the Underground Railroad were doctors such as Alexander Milton Ross (born in Belleville).
He also gave them with a few basic items so that they could get started on their escape.
Ways to the Promised Land
“Lines” were the names given to the pathways that people took in order to reach freedom. In total, 14 northern states and two British North American colonies — Upper Canada and Lower Canada — were connected by the network of roads. At the end of the line lay “heaven,” also known as “the Promised Land,” which was undeveloped land in Canada or the Northern United States. A nod to the Big Dipper constellation, which points to the North Star and serves as a navigational aid for freedom-seekers seeking their way north, “the drinking gourd” was a reference to the Big Dipper.
A large number of people undertook the perilous journey on foot.
The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, did not simply operate on land. Additionally, passengers traveled by boat through lakes, oceans, and rivers. They traveled at night and slept throughout the day on a regular basis.
The Canadian Terminus
During the last decades of enslavement in the United States, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 freedom seekers crossed the border into Canada. Approximately 15,000 to 20,000 fugitives entered the Province of Canada between 1850 and 1860 alone. Because of this, it became the primary terminal for the Underground Railroad. The immigrants settled in various sections of what is now the province of Ontario. Among these were Niagara Falls, Buxton, Chatham, Owen Sound, Windsor, Sandwich (now a part of Windsor), Hamilton, Brantford, London, Oakville, and Toronto.
- Following this huge migration, Black Canadians assisted in the creation of strong communities and made significant contributions to the development of the provinces in where they lived and worked.
- The Provincial Freeman newspaper published a thorough report of a specific case in its publication.
- They were on the lookout for a young man by the name of Joseph Alexander.
- Alexandra was present among the throngs of people and had a brief verbal encounter with his previous owner.
- The guys were forced to flee town after the mob refused to allow them to steal Alexander’s possessions.
The Underground Railroad functioned until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibited slavery, was ratified in 1865. Freedom-seekers, free Blacks, and descendants of Black Loyalists settled throughout British North America during the American Revolutionary War. It is possible that some of them resided in all-Black colonies, such as the Elgin Settlement and the Buxton Mission in Ontario, the Queen’s Bush Settlement and the DawnSettlement near Dresden in Ontario, as well as Birchtown and Africaville in Nova Scotia, although this is not certain.
- Early African Canadian settlers were hardworking and forward-thinking members of society.
- Religious, educational, social, and cultural institutions, political groupings, and community-building organizations were all founded by black people in the United States.
- (See, for example, Mary Ann Shadd.) African-American men and women held and contributed to a diverse variety of skills and abilities during the time period of the Underground Railroad.
- They also owned and operated saw companies, frozen food distributors, livery stables, pharmacies, herbal treatment services and carpentry firms.
- Black people took an active role in the struggle for racial equality.
- In their communities, they waged war on the prejudice and discrimination they met in their daily lives in Canada by getting meaningful jobs, securing homes, and ensuring that their children received an education.
- Many people were refused the right to dwell in particular neighborhoods because of their color.
- Through publications, conferences, and other public activities, such as Emancipation Day celebrations, Black groups expressed their opposition to racial prejudice and worked to make society a better place for everyone.
- Beginning with their search for independence, security, wealth, and human rights, early Black colonists worked to create a better life for themselves, their descendents, and their fellow citizens in the United States.
In addition, see: Underground Railroad (Plain Language Summary); Black Enslavement in Canada (Plain Language Summary); Chloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada; Anti-slavery Society of Canada; Josiah Henson; Albert Jackson; Richard Pierpoint; and Editorial: Black Female Freedom Fighters (in English and French).
The Underground Railroad (1820-1861) •
The smuggling of fugitives during the winter season Charles T. Webber’s novel The Underground Railroad was published in 1893. Images that are in the public domain Underground Railroad was developed to assist oppressed persons in their journey from slavery to liberty. 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.
- As part of the Underground Railroad, slaves were smuggled onto ships that transported them to ports in the northern United States or to countries outside of the United States.
- Though the number of persons who fled through the Underground Railroad between 1820 and 1861 varies greatly depending on who you ask, the most commonly accepted figure is roughly 100,000.
- 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.
However, the Fugitive Slave Act had the opposite effect, increasing Northern opposition to slavery and hastening the 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.
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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:
Charles Waggoner, C. Waggoner & Associates, Inc. (2007, December 03). The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes and seek asylum elsewhere in the country (1820-1861). BlackPast.org.
See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to freedom. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this historical period. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that publishes encyclopedias. View all of the videos related to this topic. When escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada, this was referred to as the Underground Railroad in the United States.
Even though it was neither underground nor a railroad, it was given this name because its actions had to be carried out in secret, either via the use of darkness or disguise, and because railroad words were employed in relation to the system’s operation.
In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down or capture them.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, obtained firsthand experience of escaped slaves via her association with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived for a time during the Civil War.
The existence of the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that it was only a small minority of Northerners who took part in it, did much to arouse Northern sympathy for the plight of slaves during the antebellum period, while also convincing many Southerners that the North as a whole would never peacefully allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.
When was the first time a sitting president of the United States appeared on television? Return to the past for the really American responses. Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
Historiography in the field of social studies
Have You Ever Wondered.
- What was the Underground Railroad
- Who was Harriet Tubman
- And what was the significance of the Underground Railroad. How many enslaved persons were rescued from slavery by use of the Underground Railroad
Ethan from Georgia provided the inspiration for today’s Wonder of the Day. “What exactly was the subterranean railroad?” Ethan inquires. Thank you for sharing your WONDER with us, Ethan! When you hear the word “railroad,” what images come to mind for you? Engines? Is that a line of boxcars? Which is more important, the conductor or the caboose? Is it possible to see the tracks running out into the distance? What do you think about a secret railroad? You could think of the subway system. Have you ever heard of the most renowned and significant Underground Railroad of all time, the Underground Railroad of the United States?
- Instead, it was constructed primarily of humans.
- They were compelled to till the land in the southern United States.
- However, breaking free from the constraints of servitude was not an easy task.
- They devised a system of secret routes, meeting locations, and safe homes to keep themselves safe.
- Some people assisted them in relocating even further north, to Canada.
- What is the origin of this moniker?
- It was also not constructed of tracks in the manner of a railroad.
They concealed their activities since they were in violation of the law.
There were “stations” and “depots” where passengers could take a break and refuel their batteries.
People from all around the world were involved in the Underground Railroad.
In reality, the majority of people participating were only aware of their specific role in the operation.
Every year, thousands of individuals find their way to freedom thanks to the Underground Railroad.
Despite this, it continued to be used, reaching a high point between 1850 and 1860.
First and foremost, people had to flee from their enslavers.
Enslaved individuals, on the other hand, had only themselves to rely on the majority of the time.
During the day, they would relax and eat, taking advantage of the opportunity to hide in various locations.
The distance traveled on the road to freedom varied, but it was usually between 500 and 600 kilometers.
Others may find themselves on a trip that lasts more than a year.
She was born into slavery in Maryland, and when she realized that she would be separated from her family and sold, she began planning her own escape.
She was able to make her way to Philadelphia with the assistance of others.
Tubman labored tirelessly in Philadelphia to save money in order to bring her family to safety.
“Moses” became a nickname for Tubman.
It was she who utilized song, Bible texts and folklore to alert people to the danger and lead them to safe havens and shelters.
Personen apprehended and brought back to the South might face criminal charges.
Those who assisted them in their journey via the Underground Railroad likewise incurred a significant risk.
In order for the Underground Railroad to be effective, both individuals who escaped and those who assisted them had to be courageous and overcome several challenges.
Standards: C3.D2.Civ.6, C3.D2.Civ.14, C3.D2.Geo.2, C3.D2.Geo.3, and C3.D2.Geo.8, C3.D2.His.”> Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.4,
Wonder What’s Next?
The Wonder of the Day for tomorrow will be one that you will remember for a long time!
Try It Out
Are you prepared to delve further into the history of the Underground Railroad? Check out the following activities with a friend or family member to make the most of your time:
- Take a look at this map of routes used by the Underground Railroad. You may read more about Harriet Tubman’s contributions to the emancipation of people from slavery by clicking on the pins. According to you, which roads on this map would be the most challenging to navigate? What locations on the map would be particularly difficult to navigate, and why? What strategies did Tubman and those she assisted use to overcome some of these difficulties
- The story of Harriet Tubman, one of the most famous heroines of the Underground Railroad, has already been told to you. A large number of other courageous individuals were also participating. Learn more about John Parker and Rev. John and Jean Rankin by reading their biographies. What similarities and differences did their stories have with those of Harriet Tubman? Explain what you’ve learnt to a friend or a member of your family Do you want to take on a challenge? Consider how a new Underground Railroad may operate in the 21st century, using today’s cutting-edge technologies. When individuals interact and move from one area to another, what methods do they use? If you feel the Underground Railroad still exists today, you should write or create a tale or graphic that describes how you believe current technology may be utilized to help those who are enslaved.
We’d like to thank Stephanie, Angel, and Ellisha from Kansas, as well as Kerrie and Sharon from Iowa, for your contributions to today’s Wonder subject! Continue to WONDER with us! What exactly are you puzzling over?