More than 30,000 people were said to have escaped there via the network during its 20-year peak period, although U.S. Census figures account for only 6,000.
What was the Underground Railroad and who ran it?
- What Was the Underground Railroad? Who Ran the Underground Railroad? The Underground Railroad was a network of people, African American as well as white, offering shelter and aid to escaped enslaved people from the South. It developed as a convergence of several different clandestine efforts.
How many people did the Underground Railroad safe?
According to some estimates, between 1810 and 1850, the Underground Railroad helped to guide one hundred thousand enslaved people to freedom.
What were the dangers of the Underground Railroad?
If they were caught, any number of terrible things could happen to them. Many captured fugitive slaves were flogged, branded, jailed, sold back into slavery, or even killed. Not only did fugitive slaves have the fear of starvation and capture, but there were also threats presented by their surroundings.
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.
How many slaves did Harriet Tubman help free via the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”
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.
How many slaves died trying to escape?
At least 2 million Africans –10 to 15 percent–died during the infamous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.
What was the code for the Underground Railroad?
The code words often used on the Underground Railroad were: “ tracks” (routes fixed by abolitionist sympathizers); “stations” or “depots” (hiding places); “conductors” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “agents” (sympathizers who helped the slaves connect to the Railroad); “station masters” (those who hid slaves in
What states was the Underground Railroad in?
Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them.
What happened to Cesar in the Underground Railroad?
While the show doesn’t show us what happens after their encounter, Caesar comes to Cora in a dream later, confirming to viewers that he was killed. In the novel, Caesar faces a similar fate of being killed following his capture, though instead of Ridgeway and Homer, he is killed by an angry mob.
Is Gertie Davis died?
Despite working tirelessly to establish a new nation founded upon principles of freedom and egalitarianism, Jefferson owned over 600 enslaved people during his lifetime, the most of any U.S. president.
Was the Death Toll on the Underground Railroad Higher Than in Civil War Armies?
According to what I’ve heard, the number of people who died on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War outnumbered the number of those who perished in the armies. Is this correct? What are the statistics on the subject? Brent Weathers, perhaps? Greetings, Mr. Weathers. While I’m not sure where you “heard” that Underground Railroad casualties outnumbered those killed in the Civil War, given the fact that there were approximately 3,500,000 slaves in the south (and 400,000 in northern states) at the start of the war, and statistics on slaves who escaped range from 10,000 to 40,000 to 100,000, it’s difficult to believe that “casualties” could have approached, let alone exceeded, the roughly 600,000 slain on both sides during the course of the war.
The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, which gave owners the right to reclaim their “lost property” even if they were discovered in a northern state, effectively leaving an escaped slave with no option but to follow the north star a little further north, to Canada, makes it impossible to compile accurate statistics on the Underground Railroad.
Some statistical data may provide a hint.
One of the various methods she used to accomplish success was to carry a shotgun, with which she threatened to shoot any “passenger” who became discouraged and even considered turning around and going back.
- Note that there was also a highly active “reverse railroad” of slave catchers who transported recaptured slaves—and all too frequently freedmen—who had been kidnapped in the north and carried south solely for the purpose of selling them—back to the north.
- Profit was the primary motivation of the slave catcher, and there was no profit in a slave who had died.
- Jon Guttman is the Research Director of the World History Group.
- History Remember to tune in for the next Ask Mr.
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Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives.
Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
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.
Finally, they were able to make their way closer to him. Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
During the American Civil War, the Underground Railroad came to an end about 1863. When it came to the Union fight against the Confederacy, its activity was carried out aboveground. This time around, Harriet Tubman played a critical role in the Union Army’s efforts to rescue the recently liberated enslaved people by conducting intelligence operations and serving in the role of leadership.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ THESE STATEMENTS. Harriet Tubman Led a Brutal Civil War Raid Following the Underground Railroad.
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?
Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.
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.
Stations were the names given to the safe homes that were utilized as hiding places along the routes of the Underground Railroad. 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.
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict, 1854-1865
Running away slaves from slave states to the North and Canada were assisted by white and African American abolitionists, who set up a network of hiding sites around the country where fugitives could conceal themselves during the day and move under cover of night. In spite of the fact that the majority of runaways preferred to travel on foot and trains were rarely used, the secret network was referred to as the “Underground Railroad” by all parties involved. The term first appeared in literature in 1852, when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about a secret “underground” line in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
- Those working in the Underground Railroad utilized code terms to keep their identities hidden from others.
- While traveling on the Underground Railroad, both runaways and conductors had to endure terrible conditions, harsh weather, and acute starvation.
- Many were willing to put their lives on the line, especially after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act made it illegal to provide assistance to escaped slaves, even in free areas.
- At the time, an abolitionist came to the conclusion that “free colored people shared equal fate with the breathless and the slave.” Listen to a tape of filmmaker Gary Jenkins talking on the Underground Railroad in the West at the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Underground Railroad routes that extended into Kansas and branched out into northern states like as Iowa and Nebraska, as well as all the way into Canada, were often utilized by the fugitives.
When asked about his feelings on doing so much good for the oppressed while doing so much harm to the oppressors, one conductor from Wakarusa, Kansas, responded, “I feel pretty happy and thankfullthat I have been able to do so much good for the oppressed, so much harm to the oppressors.” It was not uncommon for well-known persons to be connected with the Underground Railroad, such as Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and then returned 19 times to the South to help emancipate over 300 slaves.
- Tubman was said to have carried a revolver in order to guarantee that she never lost track of a passenger.
- Individuals from Kansas also played significant roles, such as Enoch and Luther Platt, who managed railroad stations out of their house in Wabaunsee County, Kansas Territory, in the 1850s.
- It is possible for “shareholders” to make donations to such groups, which may be used to supply supplies or to construct additional lines.
- In addition to developing new routes, members of assistance organisations evaluated the routes to ensure that men, women, and children could travel in safety on them.
During an escape, engineers guided passengers and notified the remainder of the train to reroute if there was a threat to the train’s integrity. The Underground Railroad: A Deciphering Guide
- The Underground Railroad, also known as the Freedom or Gospel Train
- Cargo, passengers, or luggage: fugitives from justice
- The StationorDepot is a safe haven for fugitives from slavery. A person who escorted fugitive slaves between stations was known as a conductor, engineer, agent, or shepherd. The term “stationmaster” refers to someone who oversaw a station and assisted runaways along their path. shareholder or stockholder: an abolitionist who made financial donations to the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War
Conductors from Kansas may easily cross the border into Missouri in order to establish contact with suspected runaway passengers. During the war, slaves residing in Missouri, which was so near to the free state of Kansas, were especially enticed to utilize the Underground Railroad to cross the border into the free state of Kansas to escape. Despite the fact that he did not know exact ways into Kansas, one African-American man expressed his confidence in his ability to reach Lawrence, a town around 40 miles from the state line and home to “the Yankees,” which means “the Yankees are waiting for you.” Conductors frequently provided fugitives with clothing and food for their excursions, and even did it at their own expense on occasion.
- Due to the possibility of being questioned by pursuers, several conductors preferred not to know specific information about the fugitives they assisted.
- In the aftermath of their successful escapes to other free states, a small number of passengers returned to Kansas, including William Dominick Matthews, a first lieutenant in the Independent Battery of the United States Colored Light Artillery in Fort Leavenworth.
- Matthews maintained a boarding house in Leavenworth, Kansas, with the assistance of Daniel R.
- Aside from that, as could be expected, very little is known about the specific individuals and families that aided or were assisted by the Underground Railroad.
In order to contact prospective runaways, conductors from Kansas could simply travel from Kansas into Missouri. While the war was going on, slaves residing in Missouri, which was so near to the free state of Kansas, were especially enticed to utilize the Underground Railroad to cross the border into Kansas and escape slavery. Despite the fact that he did not know exact ways into Kansas, one African-American man expressed his confidence in his ability to reach Lawrence, a town around 40 miles from the state line and home to “the Yankees,” which means “the Yankees are waiting for me.” Conductors frequently provided fugitives with clothing and food for their excursions, and they did it at their own expense on many occasions as well.
One conductor said that his horse died from severe exhaustion after a 63-mile voyage into Kansas that took less than ten hours, according to his account.
Former slaves marrying after their emancipation or joining the Union Army were among the information that abolitionists received.
Other African American troops were recruited into the First Colored Kansas Volunteer Infantry by Matthews, who also served in the unit.
Anthony, the brother of suffragist Susan B. Anthony. The boarding home eventually became an Underground Railroad depot. Aside from that, as could be expected, very little is known about the specific individuals and families that aided or were supported by the Underground Railroad in its operations.
|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.” Tubman was born a slave in Maryland’s Dorchester County around 1820. At age five or six, she began to work as a house servant. Seven years later she was sent to work in the fields. While she was still in her early teens, she suffered an injury that would follow her for the rest of her life. Always ready to stand up for someone else, Tubman blocked a doorway to protect another field hand from an angry overseer. The overseer picked up and threw a two-pound weight at the field hand. It fell short, striking Tubman on the head. She never fully recovered from the blow, which subjected her to spells in which she would fall into a deep sleep.Around 1844 she married a free black named John Tubman and took his last name. (She was born Araminta Ross; she later changed her first name to Harriet, after her mother.) In 1849, in fear that she, along with the other slaves on the plantation, was to be sold, Tubman resolved to run away. She set out one night on foot. With some assistance from a friendly white woman, Tubman was on her way. She followed the North Star by night, making her way to Pennsylvania and soon after to Philadelphia, where she found work and saved her money. The following year she returned to Maryland and escorted her sister and her sister’s two children to freedom. She made the dangerous trip back to the South soon after to rescue her brother and two other men. On her third return, she went after her husband, only to find he had taken another wife. Undeterred, she found other slaves seeking freedom and escorted them to the North.Tubman returned to the South again and again. She devised clever techniques that helped make her “forays” successful, including using the master’s horse and buggy for the first leg of the journey; leaving on a Saturday night, since runaway notices couldn’t be placed in newspapers until Monday morning; turning about and heading south if she encountered possible slave hunters; and carrying a drug to use on a baby if its crying might put the fugitives in danger. Tubman even carried a gun which she used to threaten the fugitives if they became too tired or decided to turn back, telling them, “You’ll be free or die.”By 1856, Tubman’s capture would have brought a $40,000 reward from the South. On one occasion, she overheard some men reading her wanted poster, which stated that she was illiterate. She promptly pulled out a book and feigned reading it. The ploy was enough to fool the men.Tubman had made the perilous trip to slave country 19 times by 1860, including one especially challenging journey in which she rescued her 70-year-old parents. Of the famed heroine, who became known as “Moses,” Frederick Douglass said, “Excepting John Brown – of sacred memory – I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than.” And John Brown, who conferred with “General Tubman” about his plans to raid Harpers Ferry, once said that she was “one of the bravest persons on this continent.”Becoming friends with the leading abolitionists of the day, Tubman took part in antislavery meetings. On the way to such a meeting in Boston in 1860, in an incident in Troy, New York, she helped a fugitive slave who had been captured.During the Civil War Harriet Tubman worked for the Union as a cook, a nurse, and even a spy. After the war she settled in Auburn, New York, where she would spend the rest of her long life. She died in 1913.Image Credit: Moorland-Spingarn Research Center|
OurStory : Activities : Slave Live and the Underground Railroad : More Information
The Underground Railroad’s historical context Harriet Tubman was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. The Library of Congress has provided permission to use this image. During the 1800s, nearly one hundred thousand slaves attempted to gain their freedom by fleeing their masters’ possessions. These courageous Black Americans walked north toward free states and Canada via hidden routes known as the Underground Railroad, or south into Mexico on routes known as the Underground Railroad. Through their assistance to the runaways, free Blacks, Whites, Native Americans, and former slaves served as “conductors.” The vast majority of those who contributed were everyday individuals, such as storekeepers, housewives, carpenters, clergy, farmers, and educators.
- Others, referred to as “agents,” sought to liberate the slaves by providing them with new clothing, collecting money for food and medication, training them to read and write, and giving lectures to persuade others that slavery was immoral.
- A slave grinding grain with a mortar and pestle.
- Smithsonian Institution |
- View a bigger version Passengers were the term used to refer to slaves who traveled on the Underground Railroad.
- A group of volunteers called “agents” tried to free the slaves by providing them with new clothes, collecting money for food and medication, training them to read and write, and giving lectures to persuade people that slavery was immoral.
- Everyone who took part in the Underground Railroad shown incredible bravery.
- The people who assisted slaves were likewise in grave risk, yet they persisted in their efforts because they regarded slavery to be unconstitutional.
- With Minty, a novel created by Alan Schroeder, you may learn more about Harriet Tubman when she was a tiny girl who dreamed of independence.
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad: how one woman saved hundreds from hell
The Underground Railroad’s historical background Her name is Harriet Tubman, and she was an Underground Railroad conductor. The Library of Congress has provided permission to use their images. A total of about one hundred thousand slaves sought freedom from their masters throughout the nineteenth century by fleeing from their plantation owners. In order to move north toward free states and Canada, or south toward Mexico, these courageous Black Americans used hidden pathways known as the Underground Railroad.
- Song, storytelling, and signals like as notches in trees were used to communicate secret messages to fugitives.
- Stations were temporary safe havens where fugitive slaves might stay for a few days before continuing their journey.
- Original artwork created by the Museum of American History in 2002 |
- see it in full size Passengers were the term used to describe slaves who traveled on the Underground Railroad.
- A group of volunteers called “agents” tried to free the slaves by providing them with new clothes, collecting money for food and medication, training them to read and write, and delivering speeches to persuade people that slavery was immoral.
- It took tremendous courage for anyone to take part in the Underground Railroad.
- Even though those who assisted slaves were subjected to severe danger, they persisted in their efforts because they felt slavery was unjust.
With Minty, a novel created by Alan Schroeder, you may learn more about Harriet Tubman when she was a little girl with a desire of freedom. return to the Slave Life and the Underground Railroad section
When and where was Harriet Tubman born?
Araminta Ross, Tubman’s given name, would have been put to work on her family’s plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland, practically as soon as she began to walk, according to family legend. It was the same terrible initiation to slavery that she and her eight siblings endured when they were born into it. Her rigorous outdoor job, along with long hours of domestic employment as a maid and then as a cook, resulted in her being underweight and unwell at times. The little Minty, like millions of other slaves in America, became all-too familiar with the awful physical and mental torture she suffered at the hands of her owners.
- She would have been put to work on her family’s plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland, practically as soon as she learnt to walk, as Araminta Ross was her given name at birth. It was the same terrible initiation to slavery that her eight siblings and sisters had experienced. Despite her efforts, she suffered from malnutrition and illness due to the arduous field labor and long hours of domestic employment as a maid and, subsequently, a chef. Minty, like millions of other slaves in America, grew all-too familiar with the awful physical and mental torture she suffered at the hands of her owners when she was young. She was spanked and flogged as punishment anytime the baby screamed when she was working as a nursemaid when she was just five or six years old — believed to have occurred about 1825-30.
Minty’s harsh upbringing resulted in a fervent Christian faith, which she developed as a result of hearing Bible tales read to her by her mother, as well as extraordinary strength, courage, and a desire to put herself in danger in order to save others. These characteristics helped her so effectively in the Underground Railroad, yet they almost resulted in her death when she was a little girl. Once, as Minty was on her way to get supplies from a dry goods store, she found herself stuck between an overseer who was looking for a slave who had fled his property without permission and the slave’s pursuing master.
What was the Underground Railroad?
The term does not allude to genuine trains that went up and down the length of America in tunnels (at least not in the early nineteenth century), but rather to a system of clandestine routes that were designed to assist runaway slaves in reaching the free states of the North or Canada. In order to escape discovery, guides guided them down the circuitous routes, which frequently required trudging into the woods, crossing rivers, and climbing mountains to reach their destination. Although it was not always the case, a route may have involved conveyance, such as boats or carts.
- It was all done in secret, thus the term “underground,” and it made use of jargon from the booming railway industry.
- It was common for those participating – which included everyone from runaway slaves to rich white abolitionists and church officials – to congregate in small groups.
- ‘vigilance committees’ formed established in the bigger cities of the North, such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, to support the railroad.
- It struck Minty in the head, knocking her out cold and leaving her in a pool of blood.
- These remained constant throughout her life (although she claimed them to be premonitions from God).
- There was no reprieve from the horrendous conditions as the years passed, yet all of Minty’s hours of hard labor had given her a surprising amount of strength for her small five-foot body.
Despite the fact that she became Harriet Tubman in approximately 1844 – after marrying a free black man called John Tubman and choosing to use her mother’s first name – it would be another five years before she made her first steps toward freedom.
How did Harriet Tubman escape from slavery?
What makes Tubman’s escape from slavery even more remarkable is that she had to accomplish it twice before she was successful. When Mary left the plantation with two of her brothers on September 17, 1849, Harry and Ben had second thoughts and returned to the plantation with her mother and father. Instead of continuing without them, Tubman made sure they returned before attempting a second time to save her life. The 90-mile trek could have taken her anywhere from one to three weeks if she had done it on foot.
- As a result, in 1850, she returned to Maryland to pick up her niece Kessiah and her husband, as well as their two kids, and bring them back to Pennsylvania.
- (some accounts say she went as many as 19 times).
- It is estimated that she personally freed roughly 300 slaves – including some of her brothers and their families, as well as her own parents – and gave instructions to dozens of others in the process.
- An advertising for the ‘Liberty Line’ in 1844, which was a thinly veiled allusion to the Underground Railroad, and which promised “seats free, regardless of race,” is seen below.
- It only grew more perilous after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, which made it possible for runaway slaves to be apprehended in the North and returned to their original owners.
- As a result, Tubman had to find a way to get to Canada, which was under British control.
When Tubman was a conductor, her colleague William Still remarked, “Great anxieties were expressed for her safety, yet she appeared to be completely devoid of personal dread.” With her success in exploiting and growing the network to transport escaped slaves to safety, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison dubbed Tubman the ‘Moses of her people’ for her efforts.
She would frequently travel during the winter, when the nights were longer, and would leave with her ‘passengers’ on a Saturday evening – since runaway notices would not appear in newspapers until the following Monday – in order to avoid being discovered.
“Either you’ll be free or you’ll die,” she declared emphatically.
‘General Tubman’ was contacted before to his failed 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry in the hopes of igniting a slave insurrection, and it is said that he wanted her to take part in the attack as a member of the armed forces.
Seward was so impressed with Tubman’s work that she purchased a small plot of land near Auburn, New York – where she lived with her elderly parents, whom she had rescued during one of her final journeys – from her friend and admirer.
On the Underground Railroad, did coded songs aid people in their attempts to elude enslavement and find freedom? In connection with the Underground Railroad, there is a widespread idea that songs had hidden messages in the lyrics that either assisted slaves in finding their path to freedom or served as a warning. To summarize: The expression “follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” actually refers to the North Star, “Wade in the Water” is an instruction to hide, and the phrase “I am bound for Canaan” could be used by a slave to announce his or her intention to flee and seek refuge in Canada, which would serve as their Canaan in the new world.
Tubman would subsequently vary the speed of the song in order to shift the meaning of the message.
According to a related notion, specific patterns in quilts were created in order to symbolize secret instructions, however this theory has also been called into doubt.
In spite of this, songs formed an important part of the culture of those in bondage, whether employed as prayers (known as’spirituals’), to provide a rhythm to their work, or as oral history in a society where many people were illiterate.
Harriet Tubman and the American Civil War
Although the Underground Railroad came to a close with the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, it did not mark the end of Tubman’s heroic efforts on the Underground Railroad. She worked in the Union Army as a cook, laundress, and nurse, caring for wounded troops and escaped slaves, who were referred to as ‘contrabands,’ without regard for her own well-being. Tubman led a troop of scouts into Confederate territory after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, laying the groundwork for the abolition of slavery.
Because of the intelligence she acquired, Colonel James Montgomery was able to launch a deadly attack on enemy fortifications, making her the first woman to command an armed assault in the United States history.
More than 750 slaves were liberated during the uprising.
What were Harriet Tubman’s actions during the American Civil War?
Tubman’s heroic actions did not come to a stop when the American Civil War erupted in 1861, despite the fact that the Underground Railroad was effectively closed down at that time. She served in the Union Army as a cook, laundress, and nurse, caring for wounded troops and fleeing slaves, who were referred to as ‘contrabands,’ and never once considered her personal safety while on the job. After Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, establishing the groundwork for the end of slavery, Tubman led a team of scouts into Confederate territory, utilizing the talents she had honed as a railroad operator.
During the attack on plantations in South Carolina on June 2, 1863, Tubman escorted Union steamboats along the Combahee River. This resulted in the liberation of more than 750 slaves
- When it comes to slavery, Lincoln said, “If I could save the union without liberating a single slave, I would.”
If her deeds and accomplishments aren’t enough of a testament, these final remarks eloquently depict a lady who has dedicated her life to others while seeking no recognition or glory for herself. A lady who rose to prominence in the United States while remaining anonymous. A lady who was able to escape the misery of being a slave and went on to assist others in doing the same has been honored. “Most of what I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been done and suffered in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way,” Frederick Douglass, Tubman’s friend and revered abolitionist, wrote to Tubman about her time as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
“I have worked throughout the day; you have worked during the night.”
Jonny Wilkes is a freelance writer specialising in history
This article was first published in History Revealed in January 2017 and has since been updated.