The total number of runaways who used the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom is not known, but some estimates exceed 100,000 freed slaves during the antebellum period. Those involved in the Underground Railroad used code words to maintain anonymity.
How many slaves were freed due to the Underground Railroad?
According to some estimates, between 1810 and 1850, the Underground Railroad helped to guide one hundred thousand enslaved people to freedom.
Who escaped using the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, Anthony Burns, Addison White, Josiah Henson and John Parker all escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad. Henry “Box” Brown, another fugitive slave, escaped in a rather different way.
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.
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
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
How many slaves did 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.
Is Gertie Davis died?
Slavery itself was abolished everywhere in the British Empire in 1834. Some Canadian jurisdictions had already taken measures to restrict or end slavery by that time. In 1793 Upper Canada (now Ontario) passed an Act intended to gradually end the practice of slavery.
What state ended slavery last?
West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20, 1863, and the last slave state admitted to the Union. Eighteen months later, the West Virginia legislature completely abolished slavery, and also ratified the 13th Amendment on February 3, 1865.
What are emancipated slaves called?
In the United States, the terms ” freedmen” and “freedwomen” refer chiefly to former slaves emancipated during and after the American Civil War by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment.
The Underground Railroad
At the time of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to flee to freedom in the northern states. Subjects History of the United States, Social StudiesImage
Home of Levi Coffin
A network of routes, locations, and individuals existed during the time of slavery in the United States to assist enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to go north. Subjects Social Studies, History of the United States of America
With the exception of promotional graphics, which normally link to another page that carries the media credit, all audio, artwork, photos, and videos are attributed beneath the media asset they are associated with. In the case of media, the Rights Holder is the individual or group that gets credited.
Tyson Brown is a member of the National Geographic Society.
The National Geographic Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the exploration of the world’s natural wonders.
Gina Borgia is a member of the National Geographic Society. Jeanna Sullivan is a member of the National Geographic Society.
Gina Borgia of the National Geographic Society is a renowned naturalist and photographer. According to Jeanna Sullivan of the National Geographic Society, ”
- User Permissions are set to expire on June 21, 2019. Users’ permissions are detailed in our Terms of Service, which you can see by clicking here. Alternatively, if you have any issues regarding how to reference something from our website in your project or classroom presentation, please speak with your instructor. They will be the most knowledgeable about the selected format. When you contact them, you will need to provide them with the page title, URL, and the date on which you visited the item.
If a media asset is available for download, a download button will show in the lower right corner of the media viewer window. If no download or save button displays, you will be unable to download or save the material.
It is possible to download media assets from the media viewer by clicking on the download button located in the upper right corner. The media cannot be downloaded or saved if there is no button visible.
- If a media asset is available for download, a download button will show in the lower right corner of the media viewer. If no button is displayed, you will be unable to download or save the material.
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 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. Many slaves would not have been able to escape to freedom in the far north if it had not been for the Underground Railroad.
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
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 declaring that they were free in the Union states) were destroyed. Canadians were protected from independence, but they also faced their own challenges. Their faces were still scrutinized and they faced competition for employment with other candidates.
Capturing slaves a lucrative business
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made it legal and profitable to capture fugitive slaves in the Deep South, where it was a thriving industry. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which was passed by Congress on September 18, 1850, was a component of the Compromise of 1850. Even if slaves were in a free state at the time of the act’s passage, they were compelled to be restored to their masters. The legislation also mandated that the federal government be in charge of locating, returning, and prosecuting fugitive slaves.
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.
It was a month after Abraham Lincoln became president that the southern (Confederate) states declared their independence from the Union, igniting fierce hostility between the two countries. Slavery was abolished by Lincoln (and the northern states), but slavery was entrenched by the southern states. It is this sequence that leads to the increased stress. It was at Fort Sumpter that the Confederates launched their first attack on the Union. In the end, a violent four-year battle broke out.
Kentucky’s battle for independence was marked by fratricidal, neighbor-against-neighbor combat, which was exemplified by the Battle of Middle Creek. Find out about the history of this conflict, see reenactments, and learn about the preservation of this place!
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.
More information may be found at The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Finally, they were able to make their way closer to him. Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
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 New Yorker is a publication dedicated to journalism.
Fact check: Harriet Tubman helped free slaves for the Underground Railroad, but not 300
A statement made by musician Kanye West about renowned abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman has caused widespread discussion on social media about the historical figure. In his first political campaign event, held at the Exquis Event Center in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday, West, who declared his presidential run on July 4 through Twitter, received a standing ovation. In his lengthy address, West touched on a wide range of themes ranging from abortion to religion to international commerce and licensing deals, but he inexplicably deviated from the topic by going on a diatribe about Tubman.
- She just sent the slaves to work for other white people, and that was that “Westsaid, et al.
- One post portrays a meme that glorifies Tubman’s anti-slavery achievements and implies that the former slave was the subject of a substantial bounty on her head, according to the post.
- A $40,000 ($1.2 million in 2020) reward was placed on her head at one point.
- The Instagram user who posted the meme has not yet responded to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
Tubman freed slaves just not that many
Dorchester County, Maryland, was the setting for the birth of Harriet Tubman, whose given name was Raminta “Minty” Ross, who was born in the early 1820s. She was raised as a house slave from an early age, and at the age of thirteen, she began working in the field collecting flax. Tubman sustained a traumatic brain injury early in his life when an overseer hurled a large weight at him, intending to hit another slave, but instead injuring Tubman. She did not receive adequate medical treatment, and she would go on to have “sleeping fits,” which were most likely seizures, for the rest of her life.
Existing documents, as well as Tubman’s own remarks, indicate that she would travel to Maryland roughly 13 times, rather than the 19 times claimed by the meme.
This was before her very final trip, which took place in December 1860 and saw her transporting seven individuals.” Abolitionist Harriet Tubman was a contemporary of Sarah Hopkins Bradford, a writer and historian who is well known for her herbiographies of the abolitionist.
“Bradford never said that Tubman provided her with such figures, but rather that Bradford calculated the inflated figure that Tubman provided.
In agreement with this was Kate Clifford Larson, author of “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero.” As she wrote in a 2016 opinion article for the Washington Post, “My investigation has validated that estimate, showing that she took away around 70 individuals in approximately 13 trips and supplied instructions to another approximately 70 people who found their way to freedom on their own.” Checking the facts: Nancy Green, the Aunt Jemima model, did not invent the brand.
A bounty too steep
The sole recorded bounty for Tubman was an advertisement placed on Oct. 3, 1849, by Tubman’s childhood mistress, Eliza Brodess, in which she offered a reward for Tubman’s capture. The $100 reward (equivalent to little more than $3,300 today) did not go primarily to Tubman; it also went to her brothers “Ben” and “Harry.” As explained by the National Park Service, “the $40,000 reward number was concocted by Sallie Holley, a former anti-slavery activist in New York who penned a letter to a newspaper in 1867 pleading for support for Tubman in her quest of back pay and pension from the Union Army.” Most historians think that an extravagant reward was unlikely to be offered.
Tubman did, in fact, carry a revolver during her rescue missions, which is one grain of truth in the story.
The photograph used in the meme is an authentic photograph of Tubman taken in her final years.
Our ruling: Partly false
An advertising for a bounty on Tubman issued on October 3, 1849, by Tubman’s childhood mistress, Eliza Brodess, was the first and only recorded bounty for him. Her brothers “Ben” and “Harry” were also included in the $100 prize (equivalent to little more than $3,300 in today’s money). 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 pursuit of back pay and pension benefits from the Union Army.” Most historians think that a large reward was unlikely to be offered.
Tubman carried a handgun, according to Clifford in her book, in order to prevent slaves who were being led to freedom from losing heart and going back — “because a dead fleeing slave could tell no stories,” as she puts it.
Fact check: Although the quotation attributed to Abraham Lincoln is fictional, Lincoln did once express concern about internal dangers in his administration.
Our fact-check sources:
- The only recorded bounty for Tubman was an advertisement placed on Oct. 3, 1849, by Tubman’s childhood mistress, Eliza Brodess, who claimed to be Tubman’s mother. The $100 reward (equivalent to little more than $3,300 today) did not go only to Tubman
- It also went to her brothers “Ben” and “Harry.” In 1867, Sallie Holley, a former anti-slavery campaigner in New York, sent a letter to a newspaper urging readers to help Tubman in her quest of back pay and pension from the Union Army, according to the National Park Service. Most historians think that an excessive reward was quite implausible. Tubman did, in fact, carry a handgun throughout her rescue missions, which is one grain of truth. Tubman carried a handgun, according to Clifford in her book, in order to prevent slaves who were being led to freedom from losing heart and going back — “because a dead fleeing slave could tell no stories.” The photograph used in the meme is a real photograph of Tubman in her final years. Although the phrase attributed to Abraham Lincoln is fictitious, Lincoln did indeed express concern about internal dangers.
- 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.
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.
A network of safe houses and abolitionists dedicated to emancipating as many slaves as possible assisted them in their escape, despite the fact that such activities were in violation of state laws and the Constitution of the 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.
The commencement of the American Civil War occurred around 1862.
The beginnings of the Civil War occurred around the year 1862.
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.
Inside The Underground Railroad, The Clandestine Network That Freed Thousands Of People From Slavery
There has sprung up a “reverse Underground Railroad” in northern states that border the Ohio River. The black men and women of those states, whether or whether 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 there.
What Was The Underground Railroad?
Historians are divided on whether the plantation owner was the one who invented the phrase “underground railroad.” In contrast, the Davids narrative effectively portrays the tremendous dangers of evading capture as well as the whispered promise of certain safe havens. The phrase immediately gained popularity. As early as 1845, Frederick Douglass complained that irresponsible abolitionists had hyped it up to the point that it had become a “upperground railroad.” Commons image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons This is a frequent picture that appears in wanted advertising for fugitive slaves.
Slaves, on the other hand, have been escaping for generations.
So, what exactly was the Underground Railroad, and why did it exist?
It was more a loose network of incomplete and unstructured local groups all working toward the same goal: assisting fleeing slaves in their journey to safety and freedom, as historian Eric Foner points out.
Slavery In 19th-Century America
According to some historians, the plantation owner was the one who invented the phrase “underground railroad.” However, the Davids narrative effectively portrays the high dangers of escaping as well as the whispered promise of some safe havens in a compelling manner. With little effort, the phrase gained popularity. Douglass complained in 1845 that foolish abolitionists had hyped the train to the point that it had become a “upperground railroad.” The Commons has a lot of great pictures! In wanted advertising for fugitive slaves, this picture is frequently seen.
Since the beginning of time, slaves have been fleeing.
How did the Underground Railroad work, and why was it so important?
It was more a loose network of incomplete and unstructured local groups all working toward the same goal: assisting fleeing slaves in their journey to safety and freedom, as historian Eric Foner points out in his book.
Formation Of The Underground Railroad
No one can pinpoint the precise date when the Underground Railroad was established. Slaves had been fleeing farms since before the country’s independence, and the abolitionist movement may trace its origins back to a time when slaves were fleeing plantations. In 1796, a slave called Ona Judge managed to flee the farm of America’s most renowned founding father and first president, George Washington, and reach freedom. A few of decades earlier, in 1775, the world’s first abolitionist movement was established, with another notable founding father, Benjamin Franklin, serving as its president from 1787 to 1801.
The Underground Railroad was established as a result of a desire to flee and a commitment to see slavery put an end to it.
Fugitive Slave Law, which was passed in 1793, penalised people who assisted fugitive slaves with a $500 fine (equivalent to $13,000 today).
By the 1840s, the phrase “underground railroad” was becoming widely familiar to the general public in the United States.
How The Underground Railroad Operated
Many of the phrases used by the Underground Railroad were the same as those used by a real railroad. Safe homes were referred to as “stations” or “depots,” and they were supervised by “station masters.” “Conductors” were those who played active roles within the organization, such as those who risked their lives in order to guide captives to safety. Commons image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons A map showing slave states and territories (in green) against free states and territories (in blue) from 1850.
- The fugitives were directed north by conductors, who were mostly emancipated blacks themselves.
- However, as historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.
- “Until they passed the Ohio River or the Mason-Dixon line, fugitive slaves were basically on their own until they reached a Free State.” Gates penned the piece.
- In the decades preceding up to the American Civil War, abolitionism and involvement with initiatives such as the Underground Railroad were extremely unpopular among the general public.
- As a result, the voyage continued in secrecy.
- A communication would be sent to the next station master, informing them that “freight” had arrived at the station.
In actuality, the group was dispersed, unstructured, and very secretive — and everyone was well aware of the dangers that lay ahead.
The Main Participants Of The Underground Railroad
Many of the most important players in the Underground Railroad were freed blacks or former slaves who collaborated with white abolitionists to transport captives to safety. According to Gates, the railroad was “perhaps one of the first instances in American history of a really multiracial alliance.” In spite of this, Gates emphasizes that the railroad was “predominantly controlled by free Northern African Americans,” albeit acknowledging the assistance of white abolitionists, particularly Quakers.
- One of these men was William Still, a liberated black man who assisted hundreds of fugitive slaves in their escape to freedom.
- Still, he maintained a meticulous record of the people he assisted.
- “They were resolved to obtain liberty, even if it meant sacrificing their lives,” wrote Still.
- Tubman was able to escape slavery in 1849 with the assistance of a white abolitionist.
- ” Tubman was able to make it to Philadelphia with the assistance of Still, and he returned a year later to assist other slaves in their escape.
- The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information.
- The year after the United States President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Tubman joined the Union Army and conducted a military operation in South Carolina.
Tubman aided 70 slaves in their escape from Maryland over the course of 13 journeys, and she boasted to Frederick Douglass that she had “never lost a single passenger.” Among the other notable members of the Underground Railroad were Levi Coffin, a white abolitionist Quaker who assisted thousands of people fleeing through Ohio; John Parker, a slave who purchased his own freedom and made numerous dangerous incursions onto Kentucky plantations to aid slaves in their escape; and the Reverend John Rankin, who used the location of his home on the Ohio River to flash a light to the other side, indicating that fugitive slaves could safely cross.
According to Underground Railroad conductor John Parker’s book, “every night of the year witnessed runaways, individually or in groups, making their way surreptitiously to the country north.” “Traps and snares were laid for them, and they fell into them by the hundreds, after which they were restored to their homes.” Once infected with the spirit of liberty, they would attempt again and again until they either succeeded or were sold to the South.””
The End Of The Line: War Begins
Throughout the nineteenth century, the issue of slavery and its growth was a source of contention in American politics. On both sides, there was a flurry of intense emotions. White, slave-owning elites of southern states believed that slavery was ordained by God, and although abolition remained extremely unpopular in the north, the more industrialized states north of the Mason-Dixon line tried to at the very least prevent the development of slavery in their territories. Commons image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Levi Coffin’s house in Indiana was dubbed “Grand Central Station” of the Underground Railroad because of its proximity to the railroad’s main hub.
- Lincoln was far from an abolitionist; rather, he felt that slavery should be controlled rather than abolished.
- Following Lincoln’s election, the state of South Carolina proclaimed its desire to separate from the Union.
- The president stated that he had “no intention, directly or indirectly, of interfering with the institution of slavery in the states where it is still practiced.” “I feel I do not have a legal right to do so, and I have no desire to do so,” says the author.
- After Lincoln was sworn in, four other men followed his example, and the Civil War officially begun.
- The Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln went into force on January 1, 1863, resulting in the emancipation of slaves across the Confederacy.
- How many slaves were able to elude capture by escaping via the Underground Railroad?
- Commons image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, essentially ending slavery in the United States and putting an end to the Underground Railroad, at the insistence of African-American leaders.
What Is The Legacy Of The Underground Railroad Today?
Even today, the Underground Railroad has a tangled legacy, but it has also had a comeback in popular culture. According to Gates, numerous fallacies surround the notion of the Underground Railroad, which is primarily based on the work of Wilbur Siebert’s The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom (The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom). It has been pointed out to me by both Gates and historian David Blight that Siebert’s 1898 depiction of the Underground Railroad places a strong emphasis on the role of white conductors who assisted “nameless blacks to freedom.” According to Gates, Siebert also presented the system as well-organized and vast – a fallacy that continues to exist today.
- Despite this, Siebert’s description of the Underground Railroad, which was based mostly on interviews with surviving white abolitionists and their children, had a greater impact on the American consciousness than Still’s collection of accounts from escaped slaves themselves did.
- However, there has been a shift in the narrative.
- The stakes of the quest are also made explicit in Whitehead’s work.
- Harriet Tubman, who was unquestionably an advocate of the Underground Railroad, will also receive her due in the near future.
- Harriet will portray Tubman’s emancipation from slavery and transition into one of America’s most notable abolitionists and Underground Railroad conductors in her play Harriet Will Show Me.
- They are green and pleasant, and they do not reveal the secrets of thousands of individuals who have swum or paddled over dark seas in a frantic hunt for light on the other side of the ocean.
Then learn about Ellen and William Craft, two slaves who fled to freedom by impersonating a slave master and his attendant in order to gain their freedom.
The Underground Railroad (1820-1861) •
The smuggling of fugitives during the winter season Charles T. Webber’s novel The Underground Railroad was published in 1893. Images that are in the public domain Underground Railroad was developed to assist oppressed persons in their journey from slavery to liberty. 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.
- As part of the Underground Railroad, slaves were smuggled onto ships that transported them to ports in the northern United States or to countries outside of the United States.
- Though the number of persons who fled through the Underground Railroad between 1820 and 1861 varies greatly depending on who you ask, the most commonly accepted figure is roughly 100,000.
- 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.
However, the Fugitive Slave Act had the opposite effect, increasing Northern opposition to slavery and hastening the 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.
A simple payment would go a long way toward ensuring that this is available to everyone. Give up a beverage and contribute the money you would have spent on it to us in exchange for the knowledge you have just learnt, and feel good about your contribution to making it available to everyone!
Cite this article in APA format:
Waggoner, C., and Waggoner, C. (2007, December 03). The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes (1820-1861). BlackPast.org.
Source of the author’s information:
“The Underground Railroad,” by William Still (Chicago, Johnson Publishing Company, 1970) Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in association with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 2004); J. Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2006); David W. Blight, Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in association with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,