What was the Underground Railroad and how did it work?
- During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally. It was not an actual railroad, but it served the same purpose—it transported people long distances.
What was the Underground Railroad National Geographic?
During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North.
Where were the underground railroads located?
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.
What was the trail of the Underground Railroad?
The “railroad” used many routes from states in the South, which supported slavery, to “free” states in the North and Canada. Sometimes, routes of the Underground Railroad were organized by abolitionists, people who opposed slavery. If caught, fugitive enslaved persons would be forced to return to slavery.
How many Underground Railroad routes were there?
There were four main routes that the enslaved could follow: North along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to the northern United States and Canada; South to Florida and refuge with the Seminole Indians and to the Bahamas; West along the Gulf of Mexico and into Mexico; and East along the seaboard into Canada.
How did the Underground Railroad affect the Civil War?
The Underground Railroad physically resisted the repressive laws that held slaves in bondage. By provoking fear and anger in the South, and prompting the enactment of harsh legislation that eroded the rights of white Americans, the Underground Railroad was a direct contributing cause of the Civil War.
What impact did the Underground Railroad have on Canada?
They helped African Americans escape from enslavement in the American South to free Northern states or to Canada. The Underground Railroad was the largest anti-slavery freedom movement in North America. It brought between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada).
How successful was the Underground Railroad?
Ironically the Fugitive Slave Act increased Northern opposition to slavery and helped hasten the Civil War. The Underground Railroad gave freedom to thousands of enslaved women and men and hope to tens of thousands more. In both cases the success of the Underground Railroad hastened the destruction of slavery.
Why was the Underground Railroad created?
The Underground Railroad was a secret system developed to aid fugitive slaves on their escape to freedom. Involvement with the Underground Railroad was not only dangerous, but it was also illegal. So, to help protect themselves and their mission secret codes were created.
How did the Underground Railroad lead to the Civil War quizlet?
How did the Underground Railroad cause the Civil War? *The Underground Railroad was a escape route for fugitive slaves in America. *Slaves would be helped by Northerners or “Quakers” who help slaves escape to Canada. *John Brown believed that this would bring an end to slavery.
How did the Underground Railroad help enslaved African Americans?
How did the Underground Railroad help enslaved African Americans? It provided a network of escape routes toward the North. In his pamphlet Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, on what did David Walker base his arguments against slavery? They feared that the abolition of slavery would destroy their economy.
Was the Underground Railroad actually a 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.
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 does Underground Railroad end?
In the end, Royal is killed and a grief-stricken Cora is caught again by Ridgeway. Ridgeway forces Cora to take him to an Underground Railroad station, but as they climb down the entrance’s rope ladder she pulls Ridgeway off and they fall to the ground.
Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives. Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
While some traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, or through Detroit on their route to Canada, others chose to travel south. More information may be found at The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
In many cases, Fugitive Slave Acts were the driving force behind their departure. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved persons from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the runaway slaves. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in several northern states to oppose this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. Aiming to improve on the previous legislation, which southern states believed was being enforced insufficiently, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed.
It was still considered a risk for an escaped individual to travel to the northern states.
In Canada, some Underground Railroad operators established bases of operations and sought to assist fugitives in settling into their new home country.
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 served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad during which time he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fugitive enslaved people in their journey to Canada. Brown would go on to play a number of roles in the abolitionist movement, most notably leading a raid on Harper’s Ferry in order to create an armed force that would make its way into the deep south and free enslaved people by force Reverend Calvin Fairbank was assisting enslaved individuals in their escape from Kentucky into Ohio by 1837.
- 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.
- He was released in 1850, but was captured again and sentenced to a further 12 years in prison.
- He operated out of Washington, D.C., and had previously worked as an abolitionist newspaper editor in Albany, New York.
- John Fairfield of Virginia abandoned his slave-holding family in order to aid in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad? ‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented.
Escapees from slavery travelled north in order to reclaim their freedom and escape harsh living conditions in their home countries. They required daring and cunning in order to elude law enforcement agents and professional slave catchers, who were paid handsomely for returning them to their masters’ possession. Southerners were extremely resentful of people in the North who helped the slaves in their plight. They invented the name “Underground Railroad” to refer to a well-organized network dedicated to keeping slaves away from their masters, which occasionally extended as far as crossing the Canadian border.
In 1850, Congress created the Fugitive Slave Law, which imposed severe fines on anybody found guilty of assisting slaves in their attempts to flee.
Underground Railroad “Stations” Develop in Iowa
Iowa shares a southern border with Missouri, which was a slave state during the American Civil War. The abolitionist movement (those who desired to abolish slavery) built a system of “stations” in the 1840s and 1850s that could transport runaways from the Mississippi River to Illinois on their route to freedom. Activists from two religious movements, the Congregationalists and the Quakers, played crucial roles in the abolitionist movement. They were also involved in the Underground Railroad’s operations in the state of New York.
- According to one source, there are more than 100 Iowans who are participating in the endeavor.
- The Hitchcock House, located in Cass County near Lewis, is another well-known destination on the Underground Railroad in one form or another.
- George Hitchcock escorted “passengers” to the next destination on his route.
- Several of these locations are now public museums that are available to the general public.
- Individual families also reacted when they were approached for assistance.
- When the Civil War broke out and the Fugitive Slave Law could no longer be enforced in the northern states, a large number of slaves fled into the state and eventually settled there permanently.
Iowa became the first state to offer black males the right to vote in 1868. It was determined that segregated schools and discrimination in public accommodations were both unconstitutional in Iowa by the Supreme Court.
Iowa: A Free State Willing to Let Slavery Exist
Slavery has been a contentious topic in the United States since its inception, and it continues to be so today. As new states entered the Union, the early fights did not revolve over slavery in the South but rather its expansion. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 created an east-west line along the southern boundary of Missouri, which would remain in place for the rest of time, separating free and slave settlement. States to the south may legalize slavery, whilst states to the north (with the exception of slave state Missouri) were prohibited from doing so.
- The majority of Iowans were ready to allow slavery to continue in the South.
- They enacted legislation in an attempt to deter black people from settling in the state.
- Iowa did have a tiny community of abolitionists who believed that slavery was a moral wrong that should be abolished everywhere.
- This increased the likelihood that Nebraska, which borders Iowa on its western border, would become a slave state.
- The Republican Party has evolved as a staunch opponent of any future expansion of slavery into western areas in the United States.
- $200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- “Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Print, 1850 (Image)
- Fugitive Slave Law, 1850 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Do
How did runaway slaves rely on the help of abolitionists to escape to freedom?
- Article from the Anti-Slavery Bugle titled “William and Ellen Craft,” published on February 23, 1849 (Document)
- Anti-Slavery Bugle Article titled “Underground Railroad,” published on September 16, 1854 (Document)
- “A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article published on November 8, 1855 (Document)
- William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, circa 1890 (Image)
How did some runaway slaves create their own opportunities to escape?
- A newspaper article entitled “The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry Box Brown” published on June 23, 1849 (Document)
- The Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, published in 1850 (Image, Document)
- “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” illustration published in 1850 (Image)
- Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” published on June 14, 1862 (Do
$200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847
- After escaping enslavement, many people depended on northern whites to guide them securely to the northern free states and eventually to Canadian territory. For someone who had previously been forced into slavery, life may be quite perilous. There were incentives for capturing them, as well as adverts such as the one seen below for a prize. More information may be found here.
“Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Illustration, 1850
- Written in strong opposition to the Runaway Slave Act, which was approved by Congress in September 1850 and expanded federal and free-state duty for the return of fugitive slaves, this letter is full of anger. The bill called for the appointment of federal commissioners who would have the authority to enact regulations. More information may be found here.
Fugitive Slave Law, 1850
- Written in strong opposition to the Runaway Slave Act, which was approved by Congress in September 1850 and expanded federal and free-state duty for the return of fugitive slaves, this letter is filled with anger. According to the statute, federal commissioners with the authority to issue directives were to be appointed. More information may be found at:
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “William and Ellen Craft,” February 23, 1849
- In this article from the abolitionist journal, The Anti-Slavery Bugle, the narrative of Ellen and William Craft’s emancipation from slavery is described in detail. Ellen disguised herself as a male in order to pass as the master, while her husband, William, claimed to be her servant as they made their way out of the building. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “Underground Railroad,” September 16, 1854
- The Anti-Slavery Bugle article indicates the number of runaway slaves in northern cities in 1854, based on a survey conducted by the organization. This group contained nine slaves from Boone County, Kentucky, who were seeking refuge in the United States. Their captors were said to be on the lookout for them in Cincinnati, and they were found. More information may be found here.
“A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article, November 8, 1855
- This newspaper story was written in Fayettville, Tennessee, in 1855 and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a priest in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article details his ordeal in detail. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting escaped slaves on their way to freedom. More information may be found here.
William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, 1890
- It was published in the Fayetteville, Tennessee, newspaper in 1855, and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a clergyman in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article tells what happened. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting fugitive slaves on their way out of the country. More information may be found at:
“Fugitive Slave Case Was Tried” – A Daily Gate City Article, April 13, 1915
- This newspaper story from Fayettville, Tennessee, was published in 1855. The article tells how Rev. T. B. McCormick, a priest in Indiana, was suspended for his involvement with the Underground Railroad. In the narrative, he is accused of helping fugitive slaves in their escape. More information may be found at
“The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry ‘Box’ Brown” Article, June 23, 1849
- The escape of Henry “Box” Brown from Northumberland County (Pennsylvania) in 1849 was the subject of a story published in The Sunbury American newspaper in Northumberland County. Brown transported himself in a wooden container from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was received by a group of abolitionists. More information may be found here.
Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, 1850
- Image of the engraving on the box that Henry “Box” Brown built and used to send himself to freedom in Virginia. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. There is a label on the box that says “Right side up with care.” During his first appearance out of the box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the attached song, Henry “Box” Brown sang a song that is included here. More information may be found here.
“The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” Illustration, 1850
- Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who escaped from Richmond, Virginia, in a box measuring three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two and a half feet broad, is depicted in a somewhat comical but sympathetic manner in this artwork. In the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society’s administrative offices. More information may be found here.
Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” June 14, 1862
- The escape of Robert Smalls and other members of his family and friends from slavery was chronicled in detail in an article published in Harper’s Weekly. Smalls was an enslaved African American who acquired freedom during and after the American Civil War and went on to work as a ship’s pilot on the high seas. More information may be found here.
“A Bold Stroke for Freedom” Illustration, 1872
- The image from 1872 depicts African Americans, most likely fleeing slaves, standing in front of a wagon and brandishing firearms towards slave-catchers. A group of young enslaved persons who had escaped from Loudon by wagon are said to be shown in the cartoon on Christmas Eve in 1855, when patrollers caught up with them. More information may be found here.
- Harriet Tubman Day is observed annually on March 31. The statement issued by the State of Delaware on the observance of Harriet Ross Tubman Day on March 10, 2017 may be seen on the website. Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long both signed the statement. Harriet Tubman – A Guide to Online Resources A wide range of material linked with Harriet Tubman may be found in these digital collections from the Library of Congress, which include manuscripts, pictures, and publications. It is the goal of this guide to consolidate connections to digital materials about Harriet Tubman that are available throughout the Library of Congress website. Scenes from Harriet Tubman’s Life and Times The website, which is accessible through the Digital Public Library of America, contains portions from the novel Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, written by Sarah Bradford in 1869 and published by the American Library Association.
- Maryland’s Pathways to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in the State of Maryland On this page, you can find primary materials pertaining to Maryland and the Underground Railroad. Information from three former slaves, Samuel Green, Phoebe Myers, and others is included in this collection. “The Underground Railroad: A Secret History” by Eric Foner is a book on the history of the Underground Railroad. The author of this piece from The Atlantic discusses the “secret history” of the Underground Railroad, which he believes reveals that the network was not nearly as secretive as many people believe. Emancipation of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery According to “Documenting the American South,” this webpage focuses on how slaves William and Ellen Craft escaped from Georgia and sought asylum and freedom in the United States’ northern states.
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (8th Grade)
The content anchor requirements for Iowa Core Social Studies that are most accurately reflected in this source collection are listed below. The subject requirements that have been implemented to this set are appropriate for middle school pupils and cover the major areas that make up social studies for eighth grade students in the United States.
- S.8.13.Explain the rights and obligations of people, political parties, and the media in the context of a range of governmental and nonprofit organizations and institutions. (Skills for the twenty-first century)
- SS.8.19.Explain how immigration and migration were influenced by push and pull influences in early American history. SS.8.21.Examine the relationships and linkages between early American historical events and developments in the context of wider historical settings
- In your explanation of how and why prevalent social, cultural, and political viewpoints altered over early American history, please include the following information: SS.8.23.Explain the numerous causes, impacts, and changes that occurred in early American history
- And The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell Address, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty with France, the Monroe Doctrine, the Indian Removal Act, the Missouri Compromise, Dred Scott v. Sanford, and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo are examples of primary and secondary sources of information that should be critiqued with consideration for the source of the document, its context, accuracy, and usefulness.
During the 1830s, slavery became increasingly dependent on the economy of the South to sustain its growth and development. Following the widely-publicized slave uprising led by Nat Turner in Virginia, slave owners acquired a new feeling of fear and suspicion of slaves during this decade as well. Legislators at the state and municipal levels responded to this milieu by enacting new legislation that regulated both slaves and free blacks. In Tennessee, legislation was established that prohibited free blacks from entering and residing in the state.
- Those who produced, published, or owned materials that may be used to incite opposition against slavery were subjected to jail sentences under an 1836 legislation prohibiting incendiarianism.
- In this environment, the Underground Railroad in the state was able to function.
- It was fascinating to see the disparities across sections depending on geography, economy, and politics.
- Because of the topography, large-scale row crops and a plantation economy were not viable options.
- Agricultural production on a big scale was a significant contributor to the economy of Middle Tennessee, where larger farms and several plantations were located.
- Because the land flattens out between the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers in West Tennessee, vast rows of crops were ideally adapted to the region’s agricultural history.
A slave was three or four out of every five people in the country, depending on the area. By 1860, slaves accounted for nearly one-fourth of the population of Tennessee, according to census data. Slave trade was profitable, and the slave markets in Nashville and Memphis flourished as a result.
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Background During the first half of the nineteenth century, the size and popularity of the railroad system in the United States contributed to the code names slaves and abolitionists used to describe the operations of the Underground Railroad, such as “passenger,” “cargo,” “station,” “depot,” “stockholder,” and “conductor,” which were used to describe the operations of the Underground Railroad. Because many slaves and abolitionists were well-versed in the bible, they often employed religious code phrases, such as “River Jordan,” “Heaven,” “Promised Land,” and “Moses,” to communicate their intentions.
The Underground Railroad’s facilitators, or conductors, were typically free black people in the North, formerly escaped slaves, and a Even though slaves had a more difficult time fleeing from the most southern states—such as Alabama and Mississippi—because they were surrounded by other slave-holding states, practically every state had some level of Underground Railroad activity throughout the period.
- To find out if there is a historic Underground Railway station near you, see this list of historic Underground Railway stations.
- Fugitive, escapee, and runaway are all phrases that imply that the individual who is fleeing forced labor is somehow at fault for seeking freedom from captivity or slavery.
- These and other vocabulary phrases, such as personal liberty statutes, redemption, and manumission, may be found on the National Park Service’s “Language of Slavery” webpage, which can be accessed by clicking here.
- To analyze how the importance of people and groups’ activities varies over time and is formed by the historical context, use questions produced about them to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is impacted by the historical context.
- North Carolina Standards for Secondary School History 12.9-12.
- The NCSS.D2.His.14.9-12 standard requires students to analyze many and complex causes and consequences of events that have occurred in the past.
- When creating a historical argument, it is important to distinguish between long-term causes and triggering events.
- Integrate evidence from numerous relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.
Students could also look into the following persons and important words throughout these crucial years:
- Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1794
- The Slave Trade Ban was implemented in 1808
- Vestal and Levi Coffin established an escape route for slaves in 1820
- The Missouri Compromise was implemented in 1820
- Denmark Vesey founded Charleston in 1822
- Nat Turner founded Philadelphia in 1831
- The American Anti-Slavery Society was established in Philadelphia in 1833
- The Mexican-American War was implemented in 1846-1848
- Harriet Tubman founded Harpers Ferry in 1859
The Underground Railroad’s conductors were well-versed in how to take advantage of any and all available opportunities. Freedom-seekers rested during the day and traveled the majority of their long-distance (5-10 mile) journeys at night, when they were less likely to be seen. Whenever it was necessary to travel during the day on the train, passengers took on errands and activities to give the impression that they were employed by someone in the vicinity. In spite of the fact that fleeing during the winter may be risky due to the severely cold environment of the northern hemisphere, the winter provided significantly longer periods of darkness under which to seek refuge.
- The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, has spawned a great deal of legend surrounding the signals that comrades would transmit to one another.
- For further information on more songs from this era, please see the Music in African American History lesson on EDSITEment’s website.
- While historians are divided on whether or not songs and textiles may have been used to transmit secret messages in the Underground Railroad system, they remain vital components of African American culture in the nineteenth century, regardless of whether they were utilized to do so.
- For a more detailed account of an Underground Railroad site financed by the National Endowment for the Humanities, see The President of the Underground Railroad (also known as the Underground Railroad President).
- Activities for the Lesson
Activity 1. The Life of Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman (Araminta Ross) was born in March 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland, to Harriet Tubman’s parents. Her grandmother, Modesty, was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the United States. Three sisters were sold out of Tubman’s total of eight siblings. The responsibilities she carried out as a slave included caring for small children and putting animal traps in the fields, among other things. In one instance during Harriet’s childhood, a slave manager hurled a 2 pound metal weight at another slave, but the weight struck Harriet’s head instead.
- In this family photograph, Harriet Tubman may be seen standing at the far left.
- When her owner passed away, she and two of her brothers, Ben and Henry, ran to a more open area of land.
- Tubman eventually sought freedom once more, this time with the assistance of Quakers from Maryland, and crossed the Choptank River into Pennsylvania to do it.
- As Harriet herself stated, she never had a problem with losing a passenger.
- Because many who knew Tubman considered her to be illiterate, she would conceal herself behind a newspaper or a book whenever she was in danger of being detected by them.
- Take a look at some of the pieces from Chronicling America, this BackStory interview withRochelle Bush, a trustee and historian of Salem Chapel Church in St.
Catherines, Ontario, and thisBiography film to learn more about Harriet Tubman’s life and times. During their study of Tubman, students may want to think on the following questions:
- What attributes or abilities did Tubman possess that distinguished her as an especially effective leader on the Underground Railroad
- And In what ways did Tubman’s allies assist her, and who were they? Why should Harriet Tubman be regarded as a significant figure in the history of the United States
Activity 2. Conducting the Underground Railroad
Students can work in pairs or small groups to evaluate primary materials and reply to the questions that have been set forth by the instructor. All of the letters and papers that were utilized during this activity may be used into the mapping activity and evaluation process as well.
After reading this letter from Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman, take some time to discuss the following questions.
- Follow up on this letter from Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman by talking about the following points.
After reading this letter from Thomas Garrett to Harriet Tubman, take some time to discuss the following questions.
- In light of the letter from Thomas Garrett to Harriet Tubman, please consider the following questions.
After reading about Harriet Tubman’s role in the Civil War and subsequently the records relating to her fight to collect recompense for her efforts, discuss the following questions with your classmates.
- Describe the roles that Tubman played throughout the Civil War. How did her previous experience as a conductor on the Underground Railroad benefit her
- What did she want to do when she finished her military service? What obstacles did Tubman have to overcome in order to receive what she requested
- In the end, what was the result of this conflict
- What was it about Tubman that caused him to have such difficulties? Is there anything that can be done to rectify the situation?
Activity 3. Mapping the Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad produced a large number of lines that went in practically every direction. Some were more successful than others in their endeavors. Detail one route of the Underground Railroad and offer information about that route, using the resources listed below and the handout provided. Include the following information:
- States that are free and/or slave along the path
- During the winter months, the weather varies from state to state. Terrain (mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, and other natural features)
- How many miles does it take to get from point A to point B? If relevant, notable cities should be included.
In addition to utilizing Google maps to locate the Underground Railroad, students should examine the Historic Hudson’s People Not Property website to learn more about the railroad. This interactive website describes what it was like to be enslaved and how it felt, as well as the implications and trade-offs that enslaved people were forced to make on a regular basis in their efforts to oppose tyranny and emancipation. Lesson Extensions includes a list of maintained Underground Railroad locations in each state, which may be found farther down on this page.
Assessment The students will write a proposal to Congress in order to synthesize the information they have learned about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.
Among the options include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The depiction of Harriet Tubman on U.S. banknotes
- Considering naming a highway or other public place in her name
- Erecting a statue or monument in her honor The declaration of a national holiday every year
Students will argue for Tubman’s significance in history, what sort of recognition she should get, and why a certain day, location, and media was chosen. Students will use primary materials to support their arguments. Their submission should be backed with a prototype, mock-up, or simulation that will provide Congress an idea of what they would be receiving as an award. Students can submit their recommendations to their representatives once they have been reviewed by a teacher. Extensions to the Lesson
Historic Underground Railroad Sites
In collaboration with the National Park Service, a list of historic places believed to have served as stations or major meeting spots on the Underground Railroad has been created. If you were unaware that the network went all the way to Hawaii and the United States Virgin Islands, you would be shocked!
Enter your state or region to see photographs, videos, and educational material about your state or territory, including information regarding student visits. A few sites also provide lesson ideas for students in grades K-12.
National Archival Collections
In collaboration with the National Park Service, a list of historic places believed to have served as stations or major meeting spots for the Underground Railroad has been created. If you were unaware that the network went all the way to Hawaii and the United States Virgin Islands, you might be astonished! Enter your state or region to see photographs, videos, and educational material about your state or territory, including details regarding student visits. K-12 lesson plans are also available on several websites.
Regional Archival Collections
This is a small selection of institutions, humanities centers, and historical societies that make digitized photographs and information about things associated to the Underground Railroad available to the general public. For information on this period of American history in your region of the country, check with your local libraries, museums, and other comparable institutions. Delaware Florida Illinois Massachusetts New York is the capital of the United States. OhioPennsylvania Encyclopedias supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and State Humanities Councils
The Underground Railroad and the Coming of War
Listed below is a tiny selection of the universities, humanities centers, museums, and historical organizations that provide digitized photographs and information about things associated with the Underground Railroad and its history. For information about this period of American history in your region of the country, check with your local libraries, museums, and other comparable organizations. Delaware Florida Illinois Massachusetts NY is the most populous city in the United States. OhioPennsylvania Encyclopedias financed by the National Endowment for the Humanities and State Humanities Councils