Estimates vary widely, but at least 30,000 slaves, and potentially more than 100,000, escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad.
How many slaves were captured on the Underground Railroad?
According to some estimates, between 1810 and 1850, the Underground Railroad helped to guide one hundred thousand enslaved people to freedom.
How many slaves were caught trying to escape?
Approximately 100,000 American slaves escaped to freedom.
How many African Americans escaped 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.
What happened to slaves if they were caught on the Underground Railroad?
If they were caught, any number of terrible things could happen to them. Many captured fugitive slaves were flogged, branded, jailed, sold back into slavery, or even killed. Not only did fugitive slaves have the fear of starvation and capture, but there were also threats presented by their surroundings.
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.
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.
What percentage of the slaves escaped through the Underground Railroad?
Indeed, [between 1838 and 1860] 95 percent fled alone. Young slave women were much less likely to run away because of their family and child-rearing responsibilities. Entire families with children did attempt flights to freedom, but such instances were rare.”
How were slaves captured in Africa?
The capture and sale of enslaved Africans Most of the Africans who were enslaved were captured in battles or were kidnapped, though some were sold into slavery for debt or as punishment. The captives were marched to the coast, often enduring long journeys of weeks or even months, shackled to one another.
How do the slaves plan to run away?
What would the slaveholders like the slaves to do on the Sabbath? How do the slaves plan to run away? they would get a canoe and sail through the Chesapeake until they get to Marlyand. What are the protections written by Frederick?
How many slaves did Harriet Tubman help free via the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”
Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?
Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.
Was Kansas part of the Underground Railroad?
Kansas gained a reputation for its active participation in the Underground Railroad and its willingness to fight for freedom.
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.
How did Harriet Tubman find out about the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad and Siblings Tubman first encountered the Underground Railroad when she used it to escape slavery herself in 1849. Following a bout of illness and the death of her owner, Tubman decided to escape slavery in Maryland for Philadelphia.
Where did the runaway slaves go?
fugitive slave, any individual who escaped from slavery in the period before and including the American Civil War. In general they fled to Canada or to free states in the North, though Florida (for a time under Spanish control) was also a place of refuge.
Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives. Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
While some traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, or through Detroit on their route to Canada, others chose to travel south. The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
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.
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.|
The Secret History of the Underground Railroad
Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race was the title of a series published by De Bow’s Review, a leading Southern periodical, a decade before the Civil War. The series was deemed necessary by the editors because it had “direct and practical bearing” on 3 million people whose worth as property totaled approximately $2 billion. When it comes to African Americans’ supposed laziness (“deficiency of red blood in the pulmonary and arterial systems”), love of dancing (“profuse distribution of nervous matter to the stomach, liver, and genital organs”), and extreme aversion to being whipped (“skin.
- However, it was Cartwright’s discovery of a previously undiscovered medical illness, which he coined “Drapetomania, or the sickness that causes Negroes to flee,” that grabbed the most attention from readers.
- Despite the fact that only a few thousand individuals, at most, fled slavery each year—nearly all of them from states bordering the free North—their migration was seen by many Southern whites as a portent of a greater calamity.
- How long do you think it will take until the entire cloth begins to unravel?
- Rather, it was intentionally supported and helped by a well-organized network that was both large and diabolical in scope.
- The word “Underground Railroad” brings up pictures of trapdoors, flickering lamps, and moonlit routes through the woods in the minds of most people today, just as it did in the minds of most Americans in the 1840s and 1850s.
- At least until recently, scholars paid relatively little attention to the story, which is remarkable considering how prominent it is in the national consciousness.
- The Underground Railroad was widely believed to be a statewide conspiracy with “conductors,” “agents,” and “depots,” but was it really a fiction of popular imagination conjured up from a succession of isolated, unconnected escapes?
- Which historians you trust in will determine the solutions.
One historian (white) questioned surviving abolitionists (most of whom were also white) a decade after the Civil War and documented a “great and complicated network” of agents, 3,211 of whom he identified by name, as well as a “great and intricate network” of agents (nearly all of them white).
- “I escaped without the assistance.
- “I have freed myself in the manner of a man.” In many cases, the Underground Railroad was not concealed at all.
- The journal of a white New Yorker who assisted hundreds of runaway slaves in the 1850s was found by an undergraduate student in Foner’s department at Columbia University while working on her final thesis some years ago, and this discovery served as the inspiration for his current book.
- One of the book’s most surprising revelations is that, according to the book’s subtitle, the Underground Railroad was not always secret at all.
- The New York State Vigilance Committee, established in 1850, the year of the infamous Fugitive Slave Act, officially declared its objective to “welcome, with open arms, the panting fugitive.” Local newspapers published stories about Jermain W.
Bazaars with the slogan “Buy for the sake of the slave” provided donated luxury items and handcrafted knickknacks just before the winter holidays, and bake sales in support of the Underground Railroad, no matter how unlikely it may seem, became popular fund-raisers in Northern towns and cities.
- Political leaders, especially those who had taken vows to protect the Constitution — including the section ordering the return of runaways to their proper masters — blatantly failed to carry out their obligations.
- Judge William Jay, a son of the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, made the decision to disregard fugitive slave laws and contributed money to aid runaway slaves who managed to flee.
- One overlooked historical irony is that, up until the eve of Southern secession in 1860, states’ rights were cited as frequently by Northern abolitionists as they were by Southern slaveholders, a fact that is worth noting.
- It was not recognized for its abolitionist passion, in contrast to places like as Boston and Philadelphia, which had deep-rooted reformer traditions—as well as communities in upstate New York such as Buffalo and Syracuse.
Even before the city’s final bondsmen were released, in 1827, its economy had become deeply intertwined with that of the South, as evidenced by a gloating editorial in the De Bow newspaper, published shortly before the Civil War, claiming the city was “nearly as reliant on Southern slavery as Charleston.” New York banks lent money to plantation owners to acquire slaves, while New York merchants made their fortunes off the sale of slave-grown cotton and sugar.
- Besides properly recapturing escapees, slave catchers prowled the streets of Manhattan, and they frequently illegally kidnapped free blacks—particularly children—in order to sell them into Southern bondage.
- The story begins in 1846, when a man called George Kirk slipped away aboard a ship sailing from Savannah to New York, only to be discovered by the captain and shackled while awaiting return to his owner.
- The successful fugitive was escorted out of court by a phalanx of local African Americans who were on the lookout for him.
- In this case, the same court found other legal grounds on which to free Kirk, who rolled out triumphantly in a carriage and made his way to the safety of Boston in short order this time.
- In addition to being descended from prominent Puritans, Sydney Howard Gay married a wealthy (and radical) Quaker heiress.
- Co-conspirator Louis Napoleon, who is thought to be the freeborn son of a Jewish New Yorker and an African American slave, was employed as an office porter in Gay’s office.
- Gay was the one who, between 1855 and 1856, maintained the “Record of Fugitives,” which the undergraduate discovered in the Columbia University archives and which chronicled more than 200 escapes.
One first-person narrative starts, “I ate one meal a day for eight years.” “It has been sold three times, and it is expected to be sold a fourth time.
Undoubtedly, a countrywide network existed, with its actions sometimes shrouded in secrecy.
Its routes and timetables were continually changing as well.
As with Gay and Napoleon’s collaboration, its operations frequently brought together people from all walks of life, including the affluent and the poor, black and white.
Among others who decamped to Savannah were a light-skinned guy who set himself up in a first-class hotel, went around town in a magnificent new suit of clothes, and insouciantly purchased a steamship ticket to New York from Savannah.
At the height of the Civil War, the number of such fugitives was still a small proportion of the overall population.
It not only played a role in precipitating the political crisis of the 1850s, but it also galvanized millions of sympathetic white Northerners to join a noble fight against Southern slaveholders, whether they had personally assisted fugitive slaves, shopped at abolitionist bake sales, or simply enjoyed reading about slave escapes in books and newspapers.
- More than anything else, it trained millions of enslaved Americans to gain their freedom at a moment’s notice if necessary.
- Within a few months, a large number of Union soldiers and sailors successfully transformed themselves into Underground Railroad operatives in the heart of the South, sheltering fugitives who rushed in large numbers to the Yankees’ encampments to escape capture.
- Cartwright’s most horrific nightmares.
- On one of the Union’s railway lines, an abolitionist discovered that the volume of wartime traffic was at an all-time high—except on one of them.
- The number of solo travelers is quite limited.” And it’s possible that New Yorkers were surprised to open their eyes in early 1864.
The accompanying essay, on the other hand, soon put their worries at ease. It proposed a plan to construct Manhattan’s first subway line, which would travel northward up Broadway from the Battery to Central Park. It was never built.
The term “fugitive slave” refers to any individual who managed to flee slavery in the time leading up to and including the American Civil War. In general, they sought sanctuary in Canada or in free states in the North, while Florida (which had been under Spanish authority for a time) was also a popular destination. (See also the Black Seminoles.) Enslaved persons in America have wished to escape from their masters and seek refuge in other countries since the beginning of the slave trade. “An insatiable thirst for freedom,” said S.J.
- The majority of slaves were uneducated and had little or no money, as well as few, if any, goods.
- In order to reach safety in a free state or in Canada, many runaways had to traverse considerable miles on foot, which they did in many cases.
- The majority of those who were returned to their owners were subjected to severe punishment in an effort to discourage others from attempting to flee.
- Because of the tremendous physical difficulty of the voyage to freedom, the majority of slaves who managed to escape were young males, rather than women.
- After the development of the Underground Railroad, a network of persons and safe houses that had developed over many years to assist runaway slaves on their treks north, fugitive slaves’ escape became simpler for a period of time.
- According to some estimates, the “railroad” assisted as many as 70,000 people (but estimates range from 40,000 to 100,000) in their efforts to emancipate themselves from slavery between 1800 and 1865.
- The runaways would travel in small groups during the night, sometimes covering a distance of 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 km) between train stations, constantly running the danger of being apprehended.
- The majority of the time, their new lives in the so-called free states were not significantly better than their previous ones on the plantation.
The passage of the Fugitive Slave Actof 1850, which allowed for heavy fines to be levied against anyone who interfered with a slaveowner in the process of recapturing fugitive slaves and forced law-enforcement officials to assist in the recapture of runaways, exacerbated the situation in the North even further.
- Some of those who managed to flee penned memoirs on their ordeals and the obstacles they encountered on their trip to safety in the north.
- An further work, Slave Life in Virginia and Kentucky; or, Fifty Years of Slavery in the Southern States of America(1863), relates the story of a slave called Francis Fedric (sometimes spelt Fredric or Frederick), who was subjected to horrific violence at the hands of his master.
- The Resurrection of Henry “Box” Brown at the Pennsylvania Convention Center It is depicted in an undated broadside issued in Boston as the Resurrection of Henry “Box” Brown, which took place in Philadelphia.
- The Library of Congress is located in Washington, D.C.
- He is first filled with excitement at the realization that he has landed at a free condition.
- Bowie’s Frederick Douglass is a biography.
- Bowie’s portrait of Frederick Douglass as a fugitive slave was published as the cover artwork for a piece of sheet music, The Fugitive’s Song, that was written for and dedicated to Douglass in 1845.
This alone was enough to dampen the ardor of my enthusiasm.
However, I was overcome with loneliness.
Runaway slaves’ experiences are represented in a number of famous works of American literature, including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s The Scarlet Letter.
Eliza Harris is a fugitive slave who In a similar vein, Jim in Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn(1884) is an escaped slave who befriends and defends Huck.
In Toni Morrison’s powerfulPulitzer Prize-winning novelBeloved, a third, more modern depiction of the experiences of a fugitive is told from the perspective of an African American woman (1987).
It is based on true events and portrays the narrative of Sethe, a fugitive who chooses to kill her young kid rather than allow herself to be captured and imprisoned by her captors. Naomi Blumberg was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.
Escapees from slavery travelled north in order to reclaim their freedom and escape harsh living conditions in their home countries. They required daring and cunning in order to elude law enforcement agents and professional slave catchers, who were paid handsomely for returning them to their masters’ possession. Southerners were extremely resentful of people in the North who helped the slaves in their plight. They invented the name “Underground Railroad” to refer to a well-organized network dedicated to keeping slaves away from their masters, which occasionally extended as far as crossing the Canadian border.
In 1850, Congress created the Fugitive Slave Law, which imposed severe fines on anybody found guilty of assisting slaves in their attempts to flee.
Underground Railroad “Stations” Develop in Iowa
Escapees from slavery travelled north in order to reclaim their freedom and escape horrible living conditions back home. Their boldness and cunning were required in order to elude law enforcement agents and professional slave catchers, who were paid handsomely for returning them to their masters. People in the South were furious with Northerners for assisting the slaves, and the North was furious with them. They developed the name “Underground Railroad” to refer to a well-organized network dedicated to keeping slaves away from their masters, which occasionally extended as far as the Canadian border.
Fugitive Slave Law was created by Congress in 1850 and punishes anybody found guilty of assisting slaves in their attempts to flee the country.
Iowa: A Free State Willing to Let Slavery Exist
Slavery has been a contentious topic in the United States since its inception, and it continues to be so today. As new states entered the Union, the early fights did not revolve over slavery in the South but rather its expansion. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 created an east-west line along the southern boundary of Missouri, which would remain in place for the rest of time, separating free and slave settlement. States to the south may legalize slavery, whilst states to the north (with the exception of slave state Missouri) were prohibited from doing so.
The majority of Iowans were ready to allow slavery to continue in the South.
They enacted legislation in an attempt to deter black people from settling in the state.
Iowa did have a tiny community of abolitionists who believed that slavery was a moral wrong that should be abolished everywhere.
This increased the likelihood that Nebraska, which borders Iowa on its western border, would become a slave state. The majority of Iowans were opposed to the idea. The Republican Party has evolved as a staunch opponent of any future expansion of slavery into western areas in the United States.
- $200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- “Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Print, 1850 (Image)
- Fugitive Slave Law, 1850 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Do
How did runaway slaves rely on the help of abolitionists to escape to freedom?
- Article from the Anti-Slavery Bugle titled “William and Ellen Craft,” published on February 23, 1849 (Document)
- Anti-Slavery Bugle Article titled “Underground Railroad,” published on September 16, 1854 (Document)
- “A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article published on November 8, 1855 (Document)
- William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, circa 1890 (Image)
How did some runaway slaves create their own opportunities to escape?
- A newspaper article entitled “The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry Box Brown” published on June 23, 1849 (Document)
- The Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, published in 1850 (Image, Document)
- “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” illustration published in 1850 (Image)
- Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” published on June 14, 1862 (Do
$200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847
- “The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry Box Brown” Article, June 23, 1849 (Document)
- “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” Illustration, 1850 (Image)
- Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” June 14, 1862 (Document)
- “A Bold Strike for Freedom” Illustration, 1872 (Image)
- “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown
“Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Illustration, 1850
- Written in strong opposition to the Runaway Slave Act, which was approved by Congress in September 1850 and expanded federal and free-state duty for the return of fugitive slaves, this letter is full of anger. The bill called for the appointment of federal commissioners who would have the authority to enact regulations. More information may be found here.
Fugitive Slave Law, 1850
- As a result of the Fleeing Slave Law of 1850, it became unlawful for anybody in the northern United States to aid fugitive slaves in their quest for freedom. This statute supplemented the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act with additional clauses addressing runaways, and it imposed even harsher sanctions for interfering with their escape. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “William and Ellen Craft,” February 23, 1849
- In this article from the abolitionist journal, The Anti-Slavery Bugle, the narrative of Ellen and William Craft’s emancipation from slavery is described in detail. Ellen disguised herself as a male in order to pass as the master, while her husband, William, claimed to be her servant as they made their way out of the building. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “Underground Railroad,” September 16, 1854
- The Anti-Slavery Bugle article indicates the number of runaway slaves in northern cities in 1854, based on a survey conducted by the organization. This group contained nine slaves from Boone County, Kentucky, who were seeking refuge in the United States. Their captors were said to be on the lookout for them in Cincinnati, and they were found. More information may be found here.
“A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article, November 8, 1855
- This newspaper story was written in Fayettville, Tennessee, in 1855 and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a priest in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article details his ordeal in detail. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting escaped slaves on their way to freedom. More information may be found here.
William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, 1890
- It was published in the Fayetteville, Tennessee, newspaper in 1855, and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a clergyman in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article tells what happened. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting fugitive slaves on their way out of the country. More information may be found at:
“Fugitive Slave Case Was Tried” – A Daily Gate City Article, April 13, 1915
- This story, which was published in the Keokuk, Iowa, newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915, is about a trial that took place in Burlington in 1850. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had fled from Missouri and had worked for him as slaves. More information may be found here.
“The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry ‘Box’ Brown” Article, June 23, 1849
- It was published in the Keokuk, Iowa newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915 and is about a trial that took place in Burlington, Iowa, in 1850 and was published in The Daily Gate City. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had escaped from Missouri and had been working for him. More information may be found at:
Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, 1850
- Image of the engraving on the box that Henry “Box” Brown built and used to send himself to freedom in Virginia. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. There is a label on the box that says “Right side up with care.” During his first appearance out of the box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the attached song, Henry “Box” Brown sang a song that is included here. More information may be found here.
“The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” Illustration, 1850
- The etching on the box that Henry “Box” Brown built and used to send himself to freedom in Virginia may be seen in the photograph. “Right side up with care” is written on the package. During his exit from the box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in, Henry “Box” Brown sang the song that is attached. More information may be found at:
Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” June 14, 1862
- The escape of Robert Smalls and other members of his family and friends from slavery was chronicled in detail in an article published in Harper’s Weekly. Smalls was an enslaved African American who acquired freedom during and after the American Civil War and went on to work as a ship’s pilot on the high seas. More information may be found here.
“A Bold Stroke for Freedom” Illustration, 1872
- The image from 1872 depicts African Americans, most likely fleeing slaves, standing in front of a wagon and brandishing firearms towards slave-catchers. A group of young enslaved persons who had escaped from Loudon by wagon are said to be shown in the cartoon on Christmas Eve in 1855, when patrollers caught up with them. More information may be found here.
- Harriet Tubman Day is observed annually on March 31. The statement issued by the State of Delaware on the observance of Harriet Ross Tubman Day on March 10, 2017 may be seen on the website. Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long both signed the statement. Harriet Tubman – A Guide to Online Resources A wide range of material linked with Harriet Tubman may be found in these digital collections from the Library of Congress, which include manuscripts, pictures, and publications. It is the goal of this guide to consolidate connections to digital materials about Harriet Tubman that are available throughout the Library of Congress website. Scenes from Harriet Tubman’s Life and Times The website, which is accessible through the Digital Public Library of America, contains portions from the novel Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, written by Sarah Bradford in 1869 and published by the American Library Association.
- This day honors Harriet Tubman. Harriet Ross Tubman Day will be observed on March 10, 2017, according to a statement released by the State of Delaware on the occasion. Governor John Carney and Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long both signed the statement. A Guide to Resources on Harriet Tubman’s Life and Times Collections from the Library of Congress’s digital collections contain a diverse range of materials linked with Harriet Tubman, including manuscripts as well as images and publications. It is the goal of this guide to assemble links to digital materials on Harriet Tubman that are available on the Library of Congress website. Life of Harriet Tubman as shown in the film The website, which is accessible through the Digital Public Library of America, contains portions from Sarah Bradford’s novel, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, published in 1869.
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (8th Grade)
The content anchor requirements for Iowa Core Social Studies that are most accurately reflected in this source collection are listed below. The subject requirements that have been implemented to this set are appropriate for middle school pupils and cover the major areas that make up social studies for eighth grade students in the United States.
- S.8.13.Explain the rights and obligations of people, political parties, and the media in the context of a range of governmental and nonprofit organizations and institutions. (Skills for the twenty-first century)
- SS.8.19.Explain how immigration and migration were influenced by push and pull influences in early American history. SS.8.21.Examine the relationships and linkages between early American historical events and developments in the context of wider historical settings
- In your explanation of how and why prevalent social, cultural, and political viewpoints altered over early American history, please include the following information: SS.8.23.Explain the numerous causes, impacts, and changes that occurred in early American history
- And The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell Address, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty with France, the Monroe Doctrine, the Indian Removal Act, the Missouri Compromise, Dred Scott v. Sanford, and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo are examples of primary and secondary sources of information that should be critiqued with consideration for the source of the document, its context, accuracy, and usefulness.
Fugitive Slaves, Runaways, Enslavement, African American Identity: Vol. I, 1500-1865, Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature, Toolbox Library, National Humanities Center
|–||Virginia runaway ads, 1745-1775(PDF)|
|–||A runaway’s explanation, William Chase letter, 1827(PDF)|
|–||Escape to Canada, Littles’ narratives, 1856, excerpts(PDF)|
|–||Escape to Canada, W. W. Brown narrative, 1847, excerpts(PDF)|
|–||On running away, selections from WPA narratives, 1930s(PDF)|
“The hour has arrived,” James Pennington recounts of his emancipation from slavery, “and the man must act and be free, or he will stay a slave for the rest of his life. if I did not confront the crisis that day, I would be damned to perdition.” Despite the fact that many slaves were fully aware that an unsuccessful escape would spell doom, they persisted in their efforts. In the words of Martin Jackson’s father, “There’s no use in moving from bad to worse,” adding that “the War wasn’t going to go foreverour forever would be spent living among the Southerners, once they were licked.” The choice to flee was a difficult one to make because there were so many considerations to consider.
The organized features of escape, such as the Underground Railroad and fugitive-aid groups, will be discussed in greater depth in the following Theme, COMMUNITY.
- Advertisements for runaways in Virginia. Runaway advertising may appear to be an unusual source of information on the motivations and goals of runaways, given that they are often boilerplate listings of names, physical descriptions, and monetary prizes offered. Many, however, such as these thirty-five Virginia advertisements from the 1700s, reveal a great deal about the runaways’ intentions and potential success, either directly (“he is such an ingenious fellow, that he can turn his hand to anything”) or indirectly (“he is such an ingenious fellow, that he can turn his hand to anything”) (“he has been much whipped, which his Back will show”). What characteristics do you notice in common among the fugitives? When do a group of slaves manage to escape together? Included are the escape and catch notifications of two fugitives, as well as an explanation for why their attempts failed. An explanation from a fugitive. When Anthony Chase fled from Maryland in 1827, he sent an explanation letter to Jeremiah Hoffman, to whom he had been contracted out by his master as a servant. “What can a man do,” he bemoans, “when his hands are tied and his feet are tied?” he wonders. As part of his commitment to compensate his owner’s widow (who had refused to release Chase as promised in her husband’s will), he says he will “show to her and the world that I don’t plan to be dishonest.” This letter, which was kept with the archives of Hoffman’s father at the Maryland Historical Society, is a monument to the heartbreaking decision to flee, especially in light of Chase’s adamant P.S. exonerating his wife of any complicity. We have no information on what happened to Anthony Chase. The Littles’ accounts of their journey to Canada. We do not know the first name of John Little’s wife, but they were married in Tennessee when they were both enslaved on the same plantation. It was 1841 when they managed to escape, crossing the Ohio River, walking across Illinois to reach Chicago, taking a train to Detroit, and then crossing into Canada, where they lived in the wilderness and began farming. Following their escape from slavery fourteen years later in 1855, abolitionist and Boston newspaperman named Benjamin Drew documented their stories of hardship and near-captivity. It took Little “all the way to Canada” to tell his story of being pursued by mountain lions like a wolf in the highlands. The next sections contain extracts from John Little’s story, as well as sidebars from his wife’s shorter but no less informative tale, entitled Escape to Canada: William Wells Brown’s narrative. According to William Wells Brown, who spent his youth as a slave in Canada, “I would dream at night that I was in Canada, and on awakening in the morning mourn, realizing that I had been so badly misled.” Brown, who was born in Kentucky in 1814, attempted to flee twice but was apprehended on both occasions. According to these portions from his 1847 account, at the age of twenty, he was successful in fleeing from a riverboat on the Ohio River and going through Ohio to Cleveland, where he was captured. What was it that caused him “extreme suffering” the night before he managed to escape? Why didn’t he have any fear of dying during his flight? What was it like for him during his first few days as a free man? How did he come up with his moniker as a free man
- When he was on the run. To round up the book, we hear the testimonies of seventeen previously enslaved persons who were interviewed by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, a New Deal program that was part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). When the Civil War ended, six of the authors recount their own escapes from slavery
- Others describe assisting runaways, witnessing punishment, plotting their own escapes, reuniting with a fugitive parent, and witnessing long-hidden fugitive parents “come out from the woods from all directions” when the war was over. “This is what I know, not what anybody else says,” Margrett Nickerson assures us in an interview conducted more than seventy years after independence
- “I have personally witnessed this.”
In Theme III: COMMUNITY,7: Fugitives, compare the accounts of two Underground Railroad “conductors” with the letters written by fugitives to their former slaveholders in Theme IV: IDENTITY,2, Slave to Free. (There are 31 pages total.) Questions for further discussion
- Why did someone choose to leave slavery in the first place
- What reasons influenced their decision
- In what circumstances and in what manner did they bring family members with them
- Why did some fugitives choose to return to their farms voluntarily
- List the instances of bravery, quick thinking, assistance, and good fortune that played a role in the successful escapes. What circumstances contributed to unsuccessful escape attempts
- Describe the reasons why some enslaved people decided not to try an escape (or a second escape). When it comes to successful runaway slaves’ life in freedom (before to 1865), how do they characterize them? What problems remained to be overcome
- Describe the types of slave resistance behaviors (and attitudes) that are shown in the fugitive advertising. Which aspects of their advertisements show that they have a hidden regard for their runaway slaves
- What opinions against slavery in general emerge from the advertisements for runaways placed by slaveholders
- Is it for this reason that Anthony Chase takes the uncommon step of sending a letter to explain his escape
- Is it for this reason that he insists his wife is not involved in his escape
- Describe why you believe Jeremiah Hoffman sent money to the owner of Chase’s land to compensate her for the loss of property. Compare and contrast the accounts of John Little and his wife, paying particular attention to the specifics of their escape and their subsequent life as farmers in Canada. What does each one place an emphasis on? Why
- Compare and contrast the Littles’ accounts with those of William Wells Brown, both of which were published before to the Civil War. Identify and compare the parallels and contrasts in their escapes, the audience for their written recollections, and the attitude they have about their newfound freedom. What is it about William Wells Brown’s choice of a new name that is so crucial to him after he has escaped? What makes him pick the name “Wells Brown”? Why did he retain the name “William”? Compare and contrast the accounts from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Remember to take into account their audience as well as the period elapsed between enslavement and the tale, their attitude toward their former slaveholders, and their assessment of their own life as former slaves and subsequently freemen. Determine the spectrum of sentiments regarding fleeing expressed by African Americans who were questioned in the 1930s, and then compare them. What may be the source of this wide spectrum of sentiments, which does not exist in the nineteenth-century accounts
- And Create a fictional chat between the pair of fugitive slaves shown below by picking one of them at random. Identify a central subject for the debate (goals for escape, backup plan if caught, message to the twenty-first century, etc.). Include the following quotations:
- -Bob, a runaway from 1767: “He has been missing for eight years, during which time he spent a portion of his time in Charleston, South Carolina. He knows how to read and write, and because he is a very creative individual, he will almost certainly manufacture a pass.” -“A fresh Negro man,” who fled in 1768: “As he had only arrived in the country three days before his, he could not have taken any specific path to prosecute him, nor did he speak English well enough to give any account of himself. In the words of Anthony Chase, the author of the 1827 letter of explanation: “I know that you will be surprised and shocked when you learn of the unexpected route that I am about to embark on, a step that I had not the faintest notion of taking.”
- -Thomas Cole, a WPA interviewee who managed to flee the Confederacy during the Civil War: “When I make up my mind, he won’t stand a chance, because I’m going to go off with the first opportunity I have. Not knowing how to get out of dere, I headed north to where there aren’t any slaveowners to help me get out.”
- -John Little, who escaped to Canada with his wife in 1841: “My wife worked right along with me, though at the time I was unaware of it
- After all, we were raised as slaves, the women accustomed to working, and undoubtedly the same spirit has come with us here: I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I see that she was a brave woman.” Mrs. John Little says the following:” “I had to develop a tough exterior. by the time I arrived in Canada, I was capable of handling an axe, a hoe, or anything else. I was pleased with myself for being able to contribute to getting things cleaned up so that we might have a place to live and enough to eat. I have lost two children to death, and the only one who has survived is a young girl of around five years old. She has only four years on the planet. If the Lord allows it, I aim to have her have a good education.”
- -Ambrose Douglass, a WPA interviewee who was apprehended after each of his attempted escapes: “I was a young guy at the time, and I couldn’t understand why I should be considered anyone’s property. I’d flee whenever the opportunity presented itself. They came dangerously close to killing me on occasion, but for the most part, they just sold me. I suppose I was a bit husky in that regard. Although they tried their hardest, they were never able to obtain their money’s worth from me.” The following is an excerpt from a WPA interview with Martin Jackson: “Even with my decent treatment, I spent much of my time preparing and thinking about getting away. I could have done it easily, but my old father used to say, ‘It’s no use escaping from bad to worse.'”
- -William Wells Brown, who eluded capture and fled to Canada in 1824 “During the last night of my enslavement, I did not sleep a wink or close my eyes for even a single second. When I wasn’t thinking about the future, I was thinking about the past.”
- -John W. Fields, an interviewee for the Works Progress Administration who escaped to Indiana in 1864: “The most powerful hold the South had on us was our ignorance of the situation. We were aware that we might flee, but what would happen then?” The following is an excerpt from an 1855 interview with John Little, who escaped to Canada in 1841 and said, “If there is a man in the free States who claims the colored people cannot take care of themselves, I want him to come here and meet John Little.” Caroline Hammond, WPA interviewee, who fled to Pennsylvania about 1855 and was questioned in 1938: “On my next birthday. I will be 95. I am content with all the amenities of a poor person who is not reliant on anybody else for tomorrow.”
|W. W. Brown narrative:||7|
- “Bob,” a fugitive from justice from 1767: ” “Eight years had elapsed since he last saw his family, with a portion of that time spent in the city of Charleston in South Carolina. In addition, he is an extremely creative individual who will almost certainly devise a way to get around.” A new Negro man fled in 1768: “As he had only arrived in the country three days before his, he could not have had any specific route to prosecute him, nor did he speak English well enough to give any account of himself,” says the author. In the words of Anthony Chase, the author of the 1827 letter of explanation: “I know that you will be surprised and shocked when you learn of the unexpected route that I am about to embark on, a step that I never had the faintest notion of taking.” The following is an excerpt from an interview with Thomas Cole, who escaped during the Civil War and was interviewed by the WPA:” “Making up my mind, I’m not going to give him another chance, because I’m going to run away with the first opportunity I have. Not knowing how to get out of dere, I headed north to where there weren’t any slaveowners to be found.”
- -John Little, who escaped to Canada with his wife in 1841: “My wife worked right along with me, though at the time I was unaware of it
- After all, we were raised slaves, the women accustomed to working, and undoubtedly the same spirit has come with us here: I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I see that she was a brave woman.” MRS. JOHN LITTLE’S COMMENTS: “When I arrived in Canada, I had developed a strong sense of survival
- I could wield an axe, hoe, or whatever else was put in front of me. I was pleased with myself for being able to contribute to getting things cleaned up so that we might have a place to live and enough money to get by. In the course of my life, I have lost two children
- The only one who has survived is a young girl of five years. The little girl is just four years old at the time of this writing. If the Lord permits it, I aim to have her have a good education.” The following is an excerpt from an interview with Ambrose Douglass, a WPA interviewee who was apprehended after every escape attempt: “The fact that I was a young guy made me question why I could be considered anyone’s slave. At every opportunity, I would flee. I was almost killed a few of times, but for the most part they simply took my money and disappeared. It was safe to say that I was rather husky. The truth is, they never received a fair return on their investment in me.” In a WPA interviewee’s words, “Even with my wonderful treatment, I spent most of my time preparing and thinking about running away.” “I could have done it easily, but my old father used to say, ‘It’s no sense escaping from bad to worse,'” Jackson said. The following is an account of William Wells Brown’s escape from the United States of America to Canada in 1824: “When it came to the final night of my enslavement, I didn’t sleep a wink or close my eyes once. The past occupied most of my thoughts when I wasn’t thinking about the future.”
- -John W. Fields, an interviewee for the Works Progress Administration who escaped to Indiana in 1864: ” “The most powerful grip the South had over us was our ignorance. When we realized there was no escape, we panicked.” The following is an excerpt from an 1855 interview with John Little, who escaped to Canada in 1841 and said, “If there is a man in the free States who claims that colored people cannot take care of themselves, I want him to come here and meet John Little.” -Caroline Hammond, a WPA interviewee who fled to Pennsylvania in 1855 and was interviewed in 1938: “On my next birthday. I will be 95. I am content with all the amenities of a poor person who is not reliant on anybody else for tomorrow.”
WPA Slave Narratives, 1930s, full text as digital images, Library of CongressAn Introduction to the WPA Slave Narratives, Norman A. Yetman (Library of Congress)”Should the Slave Narrative Collection Be Used?,”by Norman A. Yetman (Library of Congress)Guidelines for Interviewersin Federal Writers’ Project (WPA) on conducting and recording interviews with former slaves, 1937(PDF)General Resourcesin African American HistoryLiterature, 1500-1865
Image: Runaway slave advertisement, no date, no publication. Reproduced by permission of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library,485464.*PDF file- You will need software on your computer that allows you to read and print Portable Document Format (PDF) files, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader.
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