According to some estimates, between 1810 and 1850, the Underground Railroad helped to guide one hundred thousand enslaved people to freedom.
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD FACTS – BLACK HISTORY FACTS
- Interesting Underground Railroad Facts Experts estimate approximately 100,000 slaves used the Underground Railroad to escape slavery. Most slaves who used the Underground Railroad escaped to northern U.S. states and to Canada. A little known fact is that some slaves actually escaped to the Caribbean and Mexico.
How many slaves were freed after the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad and freed slaves [ estimated 100,000 escaped ]
How many people were saved through the Underground Railroad?
Although estimates of the number of people who escaped through the Underground Railroad between 1820 and 1861 vary widely, the figure most often cited is approximately 100,000.
Did the Underground Railroad help slaves?
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.
How many slaves did Tubman help free?
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.”
What made slavery illegal in all of the United States?
Passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States and provides that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or
What state ended slavery first?
In 1780, Pennsylvania became the first state to abolish slavery when it adopted a statute that provided for the freedom of every slave born after its enactment (once that individual reached the age of majority). Massachusetts was the first to abolish slavery outright, doing so by judicial decree in 1783.
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.
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 long did the Underground Railroad take to travel?
The journey would take him 800 miles and six weeks, on a route winding through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, tracing the byways that fugitive slaves took to Canada and freedom.
How 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.
Does Harriet Tubman get caught?
Despite the efforts of the slaveholders, Tubman and the fugitives she assisted were never captured. Years later, she told an audience: “I was conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say – I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”
What happened to Harriet Tubman when she was 13?
At the age of thirteen Harriet received a horrible head injury. A slave owner tried to throw an iron weight at one of his slaves, but hit Harriet instead. The injury nearly killed her and caused her to have dizzy spells and blackouts for the rest of her life.
The Underground Railroad
|The Underground Railroad, a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals – many whites but predominently black – who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. Still, it effectively moved hundreds of slaves northward each year – according to one estimate,the South lost 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850. An organized system to assist runaway slaves seems to have begun towards the end of the 18th century. In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes.” The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed “The Underground Railroad,” after the then emerging steam railroads. The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were called “stations” and “depots” and were run by “stationmasters,” those who contributed money or goods were “stockholders,” and the “conductor” was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next.For the slave, running away to the North was anything but easy. The first step was to escape from the slaveholder. For many slaves, this meant relying on his or her own resources. Sometimes a “conductor,” posing as a slave, would enter a plantation and then guide the runaways northward. The fugitives would move at night. They would generally travel between 10 and 20 miles to the next station, where they would rest and eat, hiding in barns and other out-of-the-way places. While they waited, a message would be sent to the next station to alert its stationmaster.The fugitives would also travel by train and boat – conveyances that sometimes had to be paid for. Money was also needed to improve the appearance of the runaways – a black man, woman, or child in tattered clothes would invariably attract suspicious eyes. This money was donated by individuals and also raised by various groups, including vigilance committees.Vigilance committees sprang up in the larger towns and cities of the North, most prominently in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. In addition to soliciting money, the organizations provided food, lodging and money, and helped the fugitives settle into a community by helping them find jobs and providing letters of recommendation.The Underground Railroad had many notable participants, including John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who made many daring rescues, Levi Coffin, a Quaker who assisted more than 3,000 slaves, and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.|
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.
Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the South by providing them with refuge and assistance. A number of separate covert operations came together to form the organization. Although the exact dates of its creation 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 Union was defeated.
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. 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 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.
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.
Underground Railroad and freed slaves
Not a true railroad, but a network of underground tunnels and safe homes that allowed southern slaves to flee to Canda in search of freedom before the Civil War ended in 1865 were constructed.
Slavery has existed for hundreds of years, but it became particularly prominent in the United States around the early 1600s. The United States of America was officially created on July 4, 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence by thirteen British colonies. Enslavement of African-Americans followed in the years that followed. It developed into a profitable enterprise, and many of African families were pushed into slavery as a result. RELATED: Kentucky’s Historical Must-See Attractions
Why the Underground Railroad was needed
The Underground Railroad was established in the early 1700s with the goal of emancipating slaves and bringing them to Canada. agents (or “shepherds”) would enter slave compounds and inform the slaves of their ability to flee the country. Conductors were those who guided slaves on the Underground Railroad, transporting them to various “stations” or “way stations,” according to the Underground Railroad’s terminology. slaves were hidden in the homes of “station masters,” who called the slaves “passengers” or “freight,” depending on the situation.
To get them to the north, they employed this method of compass navigation.
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman was perhaps the individual who had the greatest connections to the Underground Railroad. She was born a slave, but managed to elude capture in Maryland by using a secret passage. She returned home to find her spouse still there, refusing to leave. Then she describes having a vision of concealing slaves on the Underground Railroad and escorting them to freedom in Canada, which she believes to be true.
Northern African-Americans were not always safe
Individuals of African descent who were physically robust or who were in their prime child-bearing years were occasionally kidnapped and their “Certificates of freedom” papers (documents showing that they are free in the Union states) were destroyed.
Canada was a safe haven against freedom, but it also had its own set of problems. They were nevertheless subjected to facial prejudice and had to fight for employment with a large number of other candidates.
How the Underground Railroad was used
To see a larger version of this image, click here. The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when slave Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio, and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids achieve his freedom. The “conductors” were the individuals in charge of escorting the slaves along the hidden path. Some sources claim that 30,000 slaves were set free, although it is possible that the number was closer to 100,000.
Capturing slaves a lucrative business
To see a larger version, please click here. The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when slave Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio, and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his escape. A group of people known as “conductors” were responsible for transporting slaves on the hidden route. A reported 30,000 slaves were set free, although it is possible that the number was as high as 100,000.
The Civil War begins
When the Confederate States of America (the South) seceded from the Union a month after Abraham Lincoln became president in 1890, a tremendous sense of hostility developed between the two sides. Lincoln (and the northern states) desired the abolition of slavery, while the southern states desired its institutionalization. In this way, the succession and further tension are created. The first fight took place at Fort Sumpter, when the Confederates opened fire on the Union forces there. As a result, a brutal four-year conflict erupted.
Learn about the history of this conflict, see reenactments, and learn about the preservation of this place.
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. More:Kanye West breaks down while speaking against abortion at a political event
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. Fact check: Although the remark attributed to Abraham Lincoln is fictional, Lincoln did once express concern about internal dangers.
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.
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.
When describing a network of meeting spots, hidden routes, passages, and safehouses used by slaves in the United States to escape slave-holding states and seek refuge in northern states and Canada, the Underground Railroad was referred to as the Underground Railroad (UR). The underground railroad, which was established in the early 1800s and sponsored by persons active in the Abolitionist Movement, assisted thousands of slaves in their attempts to escape bondage. Between 1810 and 1850, it is estimated that 100,000 slaves escaped from bondage in the southern United States.
Facts, information and articles about the Underground Railroad
Aproximate year of birth: 1780
The beginnings of the American Civil War occurred around the year 1862.
Estimates range between 6,000 and 10,000.
Harriet Tubman is a historical figure.
William Still is a well-known author and poet. Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by author Levi Coffin. John Fairfield is a well-known author.
The Story of How Canada Became the Final Station on the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy as a Freedom Fighter and a Spion is well documented.
The Beginnings Of the Underground Railroad
Even before the nineteenth century, it appears that a mechanism to assist runaways existed. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his escaped slaves by “a organization of Quakers, founded for such purposes.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge. Their influence may have played a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, which was home to a large number of Quakers.
In recognition of his contributions, Levi is often referred to as the “president of the Underground Railroad.” In Fountain City, Ohio, on Ohio’s western border, the eight-room Indiana home they bought and used as a “station” before they came to Cincinnati has been preserved and is now a National Historic Landmark.
The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name
Owen Brown, the father of radical abolitionist John Brown, was a member of the Underground Railroad in the state of New York during the Civil War. An unconfirmed narrative suggests that “Mammy Sally” designated the house where Abraham Lincoln’s future wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, grew up and served as a safe house where fugitives could receive food, but the account is doubtful. Routes of the Underground Railroad It was not until the early 1830s that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was first used.
Fugitives going by water or on genuine trains were occasionally provided with clothing so that they wouldn’t give themselves away by wearing their worn-out job attire.
Many of them continued on to Canada, where they could not be lawfully reclaimed by their rightful owners.
The slave or slaves were forced to flee from their masters, which was frequently done at night. It was imperative that the runaways maintain their eyes on the North Star at all times; only by keeping that star in front of them could they be certain that they were on their trip north.
Conductors On The Railroad
A “conductor,” who pretended to be a slave, would sometimes accompany fugitives to a plantation in order to lead them on their journey. Harriet Tubman, a former slave who traveled to slave states 19 times and liberated more than 300 people, is one of the most well-known “conductors.” She used her shotgun to threaten death to any captives who lost heart and sought to return to slavery. The Underground Railroad’s operators faced their own set of risks as well. If someone living in the North was convicted of assisting fugitives in their escape, he or she could face fines of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, which was a significant sum at the time; however, in areas where abolitionism was strong, the “secret” railroad was openly operated, and no one was arrested.
His position as the most significant commander of the Underground Railroad in and around Albany grew as time went on.
However, in previous times of American history, the phrase “vigilance committee” generally refers to citizen organizations that took the law into their own hands, prosecuting and hanging those suspected of crimes when there was no local government or when they considered the local authority was corrupt or weak.
White males who were found assisting slaves in their escape were subjected to heavier punishments than white women, but both were likely to face at the very least incarceration.
The Civil War On The Horizon
Events such as the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott decision compelled more anti-slavery activists to take an active part in the effort to liberate slaves in the United States. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Southern states began to secede in December 1860, putting an end to the Union’s hopes of achieving independence from the United States. Abolitionist newspapers and even some loud abolitionists warned against giving the remaining Southern states an excuse to separate. Lucia Bagbe (later known as Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson) is considered to be the final slave who was returned to bondage as a result of the Fugitive Slave Law.
Her owner hunted her down and arrested her in December 1860.
Even the Cleveland Leader, a Republican weekly that was traditionally anti-slavery and pro-the Fugitive Slave Legislation, warned its readers that allowing the law to run its course “may be oil thrown upon the seas of our nation’s difficulties,” according to the newspaper.
Following her capture, Lucy was carried back to Ohio County, Virginia, and punished, but she was released at some time when Union soldiers took control of the region. In her honor, a Grand Jubilee was celebrated on May 6, 1863, in the city of Cleveland.
The Reverse Underground Railroad
A “reverse Underground Railroad” arose in the northern states surrounding the Ohio River during the Civil War. The black men and women of those states, whether or not they had previously been slaves, were occasionally kidnapped and concealed in homes, barns, and other structures until they could be transported to the South and sold as slaves.
Underground Railroad, The (1820-1861)
Smuggled fugitives through the Underground Railroad during the winter seasonThe Underground Railroad was constructed to help enslaved persons in their escape to freedom. The railroad network was made up of dozens of hidden routes and safe houses that began in slaveholding states and extended all the way to the Canadian border, which was the only place where fugitives could be certain of their freedom. From Florida to Cuba, or from Texas to Mexico, there were shorter routes that took you south.
The Underground Railroad’s success was dependent on the collaboration of previous runaway slaves, free-born blacks, Native Americans, and white and black abolitionists who assisted in guiding runaway slaves along the routes and providing their houses as safe havens for the fugitive slave population.
- The Underground Railroad in the Nineteenth Century New York Public Library’s Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, part of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, provided this photograph.
- The railroad employed conductors, among them William Still of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was likely the most well-known of the group.
- Slave-hiding spots were called stations, and stationmasters were individuals who hid slaves in their houses.
- The Underground Railroad functioned as a number of interconnected networks.
- Those responsible for leading the fugitive slaves north did so in stages.
- The “freight” would be transferred on to the next conductor once it reached another stop, and so on until the full journey had been completed.
- When the Underground Railroad was successful, it engendered a great deal of hostility among slaveholders and their friends.
The law was misused to a tremendous extent.
Due to the fact that African Americans were not permitted to testify or have a jury present during a trial, they were frequently unable to defend themselves.
Ironically, the Fugitive Slave Act fueled Northern opposition to slavery and contributed to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
A large number of those who escaped became human witnesses to the slave system, with many of them traveling on the lecture circuit to explain to Northerners what life was like as a slave in the slave system.
It was the success of the Underground Railroad in both situations that contributed to the abolition of slavery.
Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2006); David W.
Instructions for Citing This Article (in APA Format): Waggoner, C., and Waggoner, C. (n.d.). The Underground Railroad was in operation from 1820 until 1861). Project on the History of Social Welfare. It was retrieved from
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.
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Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad: how one woman saved hundreds from hell
She had managed to get away from hell. Slavery in the United States was a hellish experience characterised by bondage, racist treatment, terrorism, degrading conditions, backbreaking labor, beatings, and whippings. Harriet Tubman escaped from her Maryland farm and walked over 90 miles by herself to reach the free state of Pennsylvania, where she died in 1865. In order to make the perilous voyage, she had to go at night through woods and through streams, with little food, and dreading anybody who would gladly give her back to her masters in order to receive a reward.
Her 1849 escape from slavery was described as follows: “When I realized I had crossed the border, I glanced at my hands to check if I was the same person.” “There was such a radiance in everything.” I had the feeling that I was in heaven as the sun filtered through the trees and over the meadows.” Tubman was transferred to a region where she could live somewhat free of bondage thanks to the Underground Railroad; but, while others endured cruelty and misery, she would risk her life as the network’s most renowned conductor.
Tubman made it out of hell just to turn around and walk right back into it.
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.
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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?
Sophie Beale, a journalist, investigates. The first bullets of the American Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861, in the state of Virginia. Tubman had a large number of abolitionist admirers by this time, and Massachusetts governor John Andrew funded her to travel to Port Royal, South Carolina, which had recently been liberated from the Confederates by Union forces. Her first assignment after the onset of war was as a volunteer with Union troops stationed near Fort Munroe in Virginia. Harriet worked wherever she was needed: nursing those suffering from disease, which was common in the hot climate; coordinating the distribution of charitable aid to the thousands of ex-slaves who lived behind union lines; and supervising the construction of a laundry house, where she taught women how to earn money by washing clothes for others.
Hunter delegated power to Tubman to assemble a group of scouts who would enter and survey the interior of the country.
This persuaded Union leaders of the value of guerrilla operations, which led to the infamous Combahee River Raid, in which Tubman served as scout and adviser to Colonel Montgomery, commander of the second South Carolina volunteers, one of the new black infantry regiments, during the American Civil War.
- In order to avoid rebel underwater explosives, Tubman escorted them to certain locations along the beach.
- Others seized thousands of dollars’ worth of crops and animals, destroying whatever that was left behind as they did so.
- As soon as everyone had boarded the steamers, they began their journey back up the river, transporting the 756 freshly freed slaves to Port Royal.
- Using the exact people the Confederates wished to keep subdued and enslaved, this well-coordinated invasion had dealt a devastating blow to the Confederates’ cause.
- She received such low salary that she was forced to sustain herself by selling handmade pies, ginger bread, and root beer, and she received no remuneration at all for more than three decades.
- A renowned icon of the anti-slavery movement today, she was the subject of two biographies (written in 1869 and 1866) with the revenues going entirely to assist her pay her debts to the institution of slavery.
- As a result of her lectures in favour of women’s suffrage, she was invited to be the keynote speaker at the first conference of the National Association of Colored Women, which took place in 1896.
- (When she was a conductor, she had returned to save John Tubman, but he had remarried by the time she returned.) Tubman and Davis became the parents of a newborn girl named Gertie, whom they adopted as a couple.
She died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913, in the presence of her family and close friends. Her dying words, spoken as a fervent Christian till the end, were, “I am going to prepare a place for you.”
- 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.