How Many Slaves Did Not Make It On The Underground Railroad? (Suits you)

It ran north and grew steadily until the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 enslaved people had escaped via the network.

How many enslaved people escaped the Underground Railroad?

The Underground Railroad and freed slaves [ estimated 100,000 escaped ] Not literally a railroad, but secret tunnels of routes and safe houses for southern slaves to escape to Canda for their freedom before the Civil War ended in 1865.

How many slaves escaped captivity as a result of the Underground Railroad?

1885. From about 1830 to the beginning of the Civil War, it is estimated that 100,000 slaves escaped from their captivity in southern states through a clandestine system known as the Underground Railroad.

How many slaves escaped via the Underground Railroad in the 1840s and 1850s?

However, the network now generally known as the Underground Railroad began in the late 18th century. It ran north and grew steadily until the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 enslaved people had escaped via the network.

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.

Why did Harriet Tubman wear a bandana?

As was the custom on all plantations, when she turned eleven, she started wearing a bright cotton bandana around her head indicating she was no longer a child. She was also no longer known by her “basket name”, Araminta. Now she would be called Harriet, after her mother.

Did any slaves escape?

Passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 increased penalties against enslaved people and those who aided them. Because of this, freedom seekers left the United States altogether, traveling to Canada or Mexico. Approximately 100,000 American slaves escaped to freedom.

How were runaway slaves caught?

Other slaves seeking freedom relied upon canoes. Some runaways pretended to be free blacks, Native Americans, or whites. Runaway slaves who were caught typically were whipped and sometimes shackled. Some masters sold recovered runaway slaves who repeatedly defied their efforts at control.

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.

Who financed the Underground Railroad?

5: Buying Freedom Meanwhile, so-called “stockholders” raised money for the Underground Railroad, funding anti-slavery societies that provided ex-slaves with food, clothing, money, lodging and job-placement services. At times, abolitionists would simply buy an enslaved person’s freedom, as they did with Sojourner Truth.

Why was the Underground Railroad illegal?

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. The Act made it illegal for a person to help a run away, and citizens were obliged under the law to help slave catchers arrest fugitive slaves.

How many slaves did Jefferson own?

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.

Fact check: Harriet Tubman helped free slaves for the Underground Railroad, but not 300

A statement made by musician Kanye West about renowned abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman has caused widespread discussion on social media about the historical figure. In his first political campaign event, held at the Exquis Event Center in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday, West, who declared his presidential run on July 4 through Twitter, received a standing ovation. In his lengthy address, West touched on a wide range of themes ranging from abortion to religion to international commerce and licensing deals, but he inexplicably deviated from the topic by going on a diatribe about Tubman.

She just sent the slaves to work for other white people, and that was that “Westsaid, et al.

One post portrays a meme that glorifies Tubman’s anti-slavery achievements and implies that the former slave was the subject of a substantial bounty on her head, according to the post.

A $40,000 ($1.2 million in 2020) reward was placed on her head at one point.

The Instagram user who posted the meme has not yet responded to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

Tubman freed slaves just not that many

Dorchester County, Maryland, was the setting for the birth of Harriet Tubman, whose given name was Raminta “Minty” Ross, who was born in the early 1820s. She was raised as a house slave from an early age, and at the age of thirteen, she began working in the field collecting flax. Tubman sustained a traumatic brain injury early in his life when an overseer hurled a large weight at him, intending to hit another slave, but instead injuring Tubman. She did not receive adequate medical treatment, and she would go on to have “sleeping fits,” which were most likely seizures, for the rest of her life.

Existing documents, as well as Tubman’s own remarks, indicate that she would travel to Maryland roughly 13 times, rather than the 19 times claimed by the meme.

This was before her very final trip, which took place in December 1860 and saw her transporting seven individuals.” Abolitionist Harriet Tubman was a contemporary of Sarah Hopkins Bradford, a writer and historian who is well known for her herbiographies of the abolitionist.

“Bradford never said that Tubman provided her with such figures, but rather that Bradford calculated the inflated figure that Tubman provided.

In agreement with this was Kate Clifford Larson, author of “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero.” As she wrote in a 2016 opinion article for the Washington Post, “My investigation has validated that estimate, showing that she took away around 70 individuals in approximately 13 trips and supplied instructions to another approximately 70 people who found their way to freedom on their own.” Checking the facts: Nancy Green, the Aunt Jemima model, did not invent the brand.

A bounty too steep

The sole recorded bounty for Tubman was an advertisement placed on Oct. 3, 1849, by Tubman’s childhood mistress, Eliza Brodess, in which she offered a reward for Tubman’s capture. The $100 reward (equivalent to little more than $3,300 today) did not go primarily to Tubman; it also went to her brothers “Ben” and “Harry.” As explained by the National Park Service, “the $40,000 reward number was concocted by Sallie Holley, a former anti-slavery activist in New York who penned a letter to a newspaper in 1867 pleading for support for Tubman in her quest of back pay and pension from the Union Army.” Most historians think that an extravagant reward was unlikely to be offered.

Tubman did, in fact, carry a revolver during her rescue missions, which is one grain of truth in the story.

The photograph used in the meme is an authentic photograph of Tubman taken in her final years.

Our ruling: Partly false

We assess the claim that Harriet Tubman conducted 19 journeys for the Underground Railroad during which she freed over 300 slaves as PARTLY FALSE because some of it is not supported by our research. She also claimed to have a $40,000 bounty on her head and to have carried a weapon throughout her excursions. While it is true that Tubman did free slaves – an estimated 70 throughout her 13 voyages — and that she carried a tiny handgun for her personal security and to deter anybody from coming back, historians and scholars say that the other historical claims contained in the meme are exaggerations.

Our fact-check sources:

  • The Washington Post published an article titled “5 Myths About Harriet Tubman” in which Kanye West claims that Tubman never “freed the slaves,” and the Los Angeles Times published an article titled “Rapper Kanye West criticizes Harriet Tubman at a South Carolina rally.” Other articles include Smithsonian Magazine’s “The True Story Behind the Harriet Tubman Movie”
  • Journal of Neurosurgery’s “Head Injury in Heroes of the Civil
  • Thank you for your interest in and support of our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app, or electronic version of the newspaper by visiting this link. Our fact-checking efforts are made possible in part by a grant from Facebook.

Myths About the Underground Railroad

When it comes to teaching African-American Studies today, one of the great delights is the satisfaction that comes from being able to restore to the historical record “lost” events and the persons whose sacrifices and bravery enabled those events to take place, never to be lost again. Among our ancestors’ long and dreadful history of human bondage is the Underground Railroad, which has garnered more recent attention from teachers, students, museum curators, and the tourism industry than any other institution from the black past.

  • Nevertheless, in the effort to convey the narrative of this magnificent institution, fiction and lore have occasionally taken precedence over historical truth.
  • The sacrifices and valor of our forefathers and foremothers, as well as their allies, are made all the more noble, heroic, and striking as a result.
  • I think this is a common misconception among students.
  • As described by Wilbur H.

Running slaves, frequently in groups of up to several families, were said to have been directed at night on their desperate journey to freedom by the traditional “Drinking Gourd,” which was the slaves’ secret name for the North Star.

The Railroad in Lore

Following is a brief list of some of the most frequent myths regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following examples: 1. It was administered by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. 2. The Underground Railroad was active throughout the southern United States. Most runaway slaves who managed to make their way north took refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through tunnels. Fourteenth, slaves made so-called “freedom quilts,” which they displayed outside their homes’ windows to signal fugitives to the whereabouts of safe houses and safe ways north to freedom.

6.

When slaves heard the spiritual “Steal Away,” they knew Harriet Tubman was on her way to town, or that an ideal opportunity to run was approaching.

scholars like Larry Gara, who wrote The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad and Blight, among other works, have worked tirelessly to address all of these problems, and I’ll outline the proper answers based on their work, and the work of others, at the conclusion of this piece.

A Meme Is Born

As Blight correctly points out, the railroad has proven to be one of the most “enduring and popular strands in the fabric of America’s national historical memory.” Since the end of the nineteenth century, many Americans, particularly in New England and the Midwest, have either made up legends about the deeds of their ancestors or simply repeated stories that they have heard about their forebears.

It’s worth taking a look at the history of the phrase “Underground Railroad” before diving into those tales, though.

Tice Davids was a Kentucky slave who managed to escape to Ohio in 1831, and it is possible that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was invented as a result of his successful escape.

According to Blight, he is believed to have said that Davids had vanished as though “the nigger must have gone off on an underground railroad.” This is a fantastic narrative — one that would be worthy of Richard Pryor — but it is improbable, given that train lines were non-existent at the time.

The fleeing slave from Washington, D.C., who was tortured and forced to testify that he had been taken north, where “the railroad extended underground all the way to Boston,” according to one report from 1839, was captured.

constructed from Mason and Dixon’s to the Canada line, upon which fugitives from slavery might come pouring into this province” is the first time the term appears.

14, 1842, in the Liberator, a date that may be supported by others who claim that abolitionist Charles T. Torrey invented the phrase in 1842, according to abolitionist Charles T. Torrey. As David Blight points out, the phrase did not become widely used until the mid-1840s, when it was first heard.

Myth Battles Counter-Myth

Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a handy weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to accomplish this goal.

Immediately following the fall of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to purportedly uneducated or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for independence was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a poor and nameless “inferior” race.

Siebert questioned practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from the South to freedom as part of his investigation.

In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey to freedom.”

Truth Reveals Unheralded Heroism

That’s a little amount of history; what about those urban legends? The answers are as follows: It cannot be overstated that the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement itself were possibly the first examples in American history of a truly multiracial alliance, and the role played by the Quakers in its success cannot be overstated. Despite this, it was primarily run by free Northern African Americans, particularly in its early years, with the most notable exception being the great Philadelphian William Still, who served as its president.

  1. The Underground Railroad was made possible by the efforts of white and black activists such as Levi Coffin, Thomas Garrett, Calvin Fairbank, Charles Torrey, Harriet Tubman and Still, all of whom were true heroes.
  2. Because of the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the railroad’s growth did not take place until after that year.
  3. After all, it was against the law to help slaves in their attempts to emancipate themselves.
  4. Being an abolitionist or a conductor on the Underground Railroad, according to the historian Donald Yacovone, “was about as popular and hazardous as being a member of the Communist Party in 1955,” he said in an email to me.
  5. The Underground Railroad was predominantly a phenomena of the Northern United States.
  6. For the most part, fugitive slaves were left on their own until they were able to cross the Ohio River or the Mason-Dixon Line and thereby reach a Free State.
  7. For fugitives in the North, well-established routes and conductors existed, as did some informal networks that could transport fugitives from places such as the abolitionists’ office or houses in Philadelphia to other locations north and west.

(where slavery remained legal until 1862), as well as in a few locations throughout the Upper South, some organized support was available.

3.

I’m afraid there aren’t many.

Furthermore, few dwellings in the North were equipped with secret corridors or hidden rooms where slaves might be hidden.

What about freedom quilts?

The only time a slave family had the resources to sew a quilt was to shelter themselves from the cold, not to relay information about alleged passages on the Underground Railroad that they had never visited.

As we will discover in a future column, the danger of treachery about individual escapes and collective rebellions was much too large for escape plans to be publicly shared.5.

No one has a definitive answer.

According to Elizabeth Pierce, an administrator at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, the figure might be as high as 100,000, but that appears to be an overstatement.

We may put these numbers into context by noting that there were 3.9 million slaves and only 488,070 free Negroes in 1860 (with more than half of them still living in the South), whereas there were 434,495 free Negroes in 1850 (with more than half still living in the South).

The fact that only 101 fleeing slaves ever produced book-length “slave narratives” describing their servitude until the conclusion of the Civil War is also significant to keep in mind while thinking about this topic.

However, just a few of them made it to safety.

How did the fugitive get away?

John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, as summarized by Blight, “80 percent of these fugitives were young guys in their teens and twenties who absconded alone on the majority of occasions.

Because of their household and child-rearing duties, young slave women were significantly less likely to flee than older slave women.

Lyford in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had been a long and difficult journey.” 7.

What is “Steal Away”?

They used them to communicate secretly with one another in double-voiced discussions that neither the master nor the overseer could comprehend.

However, for reasons of safety, privacy, security, and protection, the vast majority of slaves who escaped did so alone and covertly, rather than risking their own safety by notifying a large number of individuals outside of their families about their plans, for fear of betraying their masters’ trust.

Just consider the following for a moment: If fleeing slavery had been thus planned and maintained on a systematic basis, slavery would most likely have been abolished long before the American Civil War, don’t you think?

According to Blight, “Much of what we call the Underground Railroad was actually operated clandestinely by African Americans themselves through urban vigilance committees and rescue squads that were often led by free blacks.” The “Underground Railroad” was a marvelously improvised, metaphorical construct run by courageous heroes, the vast majority of whom were black.

Gara’s study revealed that “running away was a terrible and risky idea for slaves,” according to Blight, and that the total numbers of slaves who risked their lives, or even those who succeeded in escaping, were “not huge.” There were thousands of heroic slaves who were helped by the organization, each of whom should be remembered as heroes of African-American history, but there were not nearly as many as we often believe, and certainly not nearly enough.

Approximately fifty-five of the 100 Amazing Facts will be published on the website African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. On The Root, you may find all 100 facts.

The Secret History of the Underground Railroad

But enough about history; what about those urban legends? Answers to the questions are as follows: It cannot be overstated that the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement as a whole were possibly the first examples in American history of a genuinely multiracial alliance, with the Quakers playing a critical part in its success. Although it was mostly controlled by free Northern African Americans, particularly in its early years, it was also dominated by Philadelphians, most notably the famous William Still.

  • Some of the Underground Railroad’s most heroic figures were both white and black campaigners.
  • As reported by James Horton, William Still himself was responsible for the rescue of 649 fugitives who sought refuge in Philadelphia, including 16 who came on a single day (June 1, 1855), according to Blight.
  • People were involved in its activities, but only a small number of them, relative to the number of people in the world.
  • It is possible to be charged with “constructive treason” if you violate the 1850 Act of Congress.
  • 2.
  • Because of this, it concentrated its operations mostly in the Free States.
  • Because of these circumstances, the Underground Railroad could be put into operation.

Additionally, in Washington, D.C.

In addition, some slaves were aided in their attempts to flee from Southern seaports, albeit only a small number of people.

You know, those secret passageways or rooms in attics, garrets, cellars, or basements.

Tunnels were rarely used by escaped slaves, who preferred to sneak out of towns at night than than via them, which would have been a massive task and extremely expensive project.

4.

Simply put, this is one of the strangest urban legends to have been perpetuated in the whole history of African-American culture and civilization.

The truth is that messages of many kinds were sent out at black church gatherings and prayer sessions from time to time, but none of them had information concerning Harriet Tubman’s arrival date and time.

How many slaves actually managed to escape to a new life in the North, in Canada, Florida, or Mexico?

No one is certain of anything.

It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people worked at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, according to Elizabeth Pierce, a center spokeswoman, but that sounds a bit optimistic to me given the current state of the economy.

In light of the fact that these data would include those fugitives who had successfully crossed into Canada via the Underground Railroad as well as natural growth, we can see how modest the numbers of runaway slaves who successfully crossed into Canada in this decade, for example, were.

According to John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger’s groundbreaking book, Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, more than 50,000 slaves fled not to the North, but “inside the South,” as Blight explains, “annually throughout the late antebellum period,” according to Franklin and Schweninger.

6.

Families as a group?

Because of their family and child-rearing duties, young slave women were significantly less inclined to flee away.

Lyford, in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe, with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had become “Steal Away” is the seventh question.

Inventing coded languages to communicate clandestinely with one another, in double-voiced discourses that the master and overseer couldn’t comprehend, was a brilliant trait of African Americans during the slave trade era.

They did not put themselves or their families at danger by alerting a large number of individuals outside of their families about their plans, out of fear of being betrayed.

Let’s consider the following for a moment: If fleeing slavery had been this planned and maintained on a systematic basis, slavery would most likely have been abolished long before the American Civil War, don’t you believe?

According to Blight, “Much of what we call the Underground Railroad was actually operated clandestinely by African Americans themselves through urban vigilance committees and rescue squads that were often led by free blacks.” The “Underground Railroad” was a marvelously improvised, metaphorical construct run by courageous heroes, the majority of whom were African Americans.

Gara’s study revealed that “running away was a terrifying and risky idea for slaves,” according to Blight, and that the aggregate numbers of slaves who risked their lives, or even those who succeeded in escaping, was “not enormous.” There were thousands of heroic slaves who were helped by the organization, each of whom should be remembered as heroes of African-American history, but there were nothing like as many as we often believe, and certainly not nearly enough.

Approximately fifty-five of the 100 Amazing Facts will be made available on the African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross website. On The Root, you may read all 100 facts.

The Constitution and the Underground Railroad: How a System of Government Dedicated to Liberty Protected Slavery (U.S. National Park Service)

A new clause for the draft constitution was proposed by Pierce Butler and Charles Pinckney, two South Carolina delegates to the Constitutional Convention that met on August 28, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It had been more than three months since the Convention had started considering the new structure of governance. Throughout the summer, there had been extensive and bitter disputes over the impact of slavery on the new form of government being established. Many safeguards to maintain the system of human bondage had been requested and achieved by Southerners throughout the years.

  • Unknown artist created this piece.
  • The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-6088).
  • The three-fifths provision of the new Constitution included slaves in the calculation of congressional representation, resulting in an increase in the power of slave states in both the House of Representatives and the electoral college as a result.
  • Exports were exempt from taxation by Congress and the states, which safeguarded the tobacco and rice farmed by slaves from being taxed.
  • The Constitution also stated that the national government would suppress “domestic violence” and “insurrections.” When “fugitive slaves and servants” escaped into neighboring states, Butler and Pinckney asked that they be “given up like criminals,” as they had done in the past.
  • The next day, without any further debate or even a formal vote, the Convention passed the Fugitive Slave Clause, which became law in 1850.
  • Although the word slave was avoided, it appeared that if a slave managed to flee to a free state, that state would be unable to free that person, and any runaway who was apprehended would be turned over to the person who had claimed ownership of the slave in the first place.
  • As a result, the phrasing of the sentence, as well as its structural placement, suggested that this was something that the states would have to figure out amongst themselves.
  • Northerners were completely unaware of its capacity to cause harm to their neighbors or to disturb their culture.

During a speech to the South Carolina state assembly, General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (whose younger cousin had submitted the clause) boasted, “We have acquired the right to recapture our slaves in wherever part of America they may seek sanctuary, which is a right we did not have before.” In a similar vein, Edmund Randolph used this phrase to demonstrate that slavery was protected by the Constitution in the Virginia convention.

The author stated that “everyone is aware that slaves are obligated to serve and labor.” Using the Constitution, he contended that “power is granted to slave owners to vindicate their property” since it permitted a Virginian citizen to travel to another state and “take his fugitive slave” and bring “him home.” At the Convention, no one seems to have considered the possibility that the new government might operate as an agent for slaveowners.

  • However, only a few years after the Constitution was ratified, the subject of fugitive slaves and the extradition of felons was brought before Congress for consideration.
  • However, Virginia’s governor rejected, claiming that the free black had in reality been captured and that thus no crime had been committed.
  • As a result, a legislation was passed in 1793 that governed both the return of fugitive felons and the return of runaway slaves.
  • Fugitive slave harborers may be fined up to $500 (a large sum of money at the time), and they could also be sued for the value of any slaves that were not recaptured.
  • People who did not obey the regulations under these state laws were subject to severe penalties under the law.
  • Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that all of these statutes were unconstitutional because, according to the Court, Congress had the only authority to govern the return of fugitive slaves to their homelands.
  • Many northern governments responded by passing legislation prohibiting the use of state property (including jails) for the repatriation of runaway slaves, as well as prohibiting state personnel from taking part in fugitive slave cases.

This landmark anti-slavery ruling mobilized the whole federal government in support of attempts to apprehend runaway slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Fugitive slaves would be extremely difficult to repatriate if they did not have the help of the northern states.

Federal commissioners were appointed in every county around the country as part of the new national law enforcement system.

The commissioners were given the authority to utilize state militias, federal marshals, as well as the Army and Navy, to bring fugitive slaves back to their owners.

The punishment for anybody who assists a slave in fleeing might be six months in jail and a fine of up to a whopping thousand dollars.

It also interfered with the right of the northern states to defend their free black inhabitants from being claimed as fugitives by the federal government.

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 had a variety of consequences.

Between 1850 and 1861, around 1,000 African-Americans would be deported to the South as a result of this statute.

In state legislatures, courtrooms, and on the streets, there was fierce opposition to the bill throughout the northern United States.

“The Oberlin rescuers at Cuyahoga County prison, c.1859,” says the artist.

The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue became renowned as a result of this incident.

During this time of year when we commemorate Constitution Day, it is important to remember that this document protected slavery and laid the groundwork for the federal government to hunt down and arrest people whose only crime was the color of their skin and their desire to enjoy “the Blessings of Liberty” that the Constitution claimed it was written to achieve.

In some areas, such as upstate New York and northern Ohio, the 1850 law was virtually unenforceable because the average, usually law-abiding citizens participated in the Underground Railroad, choosing to support human liberty and fundamental justice even when the laws of the United States and the Constitution itself criminalized such activities.

Paul Finkelman, Ph.D. He has written more than 50 books and hundreds of articles, and he is a prolific writer. His most recent book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, was released by Harvard University Press in 2018 and is about slavery in the United States Supreme Court.

Footnotes

Gratz College, in collaboration with the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, hosted an online seminar wherein Dr. Paul Finkelman, the author of this paper, went into further depth on the ties between the Underground Railroad and the United States Constitution. To see a recording of the webinar, please visit the link provided below the video.

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.

  1. The Underground Railroad was a covert structure established to assist fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom in the United States.
  2. As a result, secret codes were developed to aid in the protection of themselves and their purpose.
  3. Runaway slaves were referred to as cargo, and the free persons who assisted them on their journey to freedom were referred to as conductors.
  4. 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.

  1. Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
  5. Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
  6. He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
  7. 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.

ConductorsAbolitionists

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.

  1. They represented a diverse range of ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  2. Due to the widespread belief that slaves were considered property, the freeing of slaves was perceived as a theft of slave owners’ personal belongings.
  3. Captain Jonathan Walker was apprehended off the coast of Florida while attempting to convey slaves from the United States to freedom in the Bahamas.
  4. 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!
  5. She never lost sight of any of them during the journey.
  6. He went on to write a novel.
  7. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. It took every ounce of moral strength I have to keep my emotions under control as I said goodbye to my small family.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The moment has come for me to follow through on my commitment.
  8. 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.

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